Astrology represents the choreography of life. The stars and planets author the script of this Earthly stage wherein our personalities, passions and pitfalls are celestially cued. The Chinese termed this the mandate of heaven, but different cultures have given it their own particular twist throughout time.
As the soul leaves the body, the essential nature of this divine fire raises it up above the Earth, passing first through the level of the Moon, our closest neighbor. Here it surrenders its vital and alimentary energy. To Mercury was given cupidity, and to Venus amorous desires. The Sun was offered the soul's intellectual capacities, products of the daylight mind. Mars found warlike ardor cast off like used armor at his alter, while to Jupiter was lain one's ambitions. Finally, to Saturn went slothful tendencies.
While there were various philosophies which vied for attention throughout the cultures of early Mediterranean civilization, such as the soul's descent into the Underworld in the earlier Greek tradition, the notion of catasterism is an old one. At a very early date, the heroes of mythology ascend to take their roles amongst the stars. Hercules, Orion, and the Twins are a few of the personalities which ascended to the celestial vault. Even Cicero, who was known to have doubted the existence of the gods, wrote that the soul was composed of a fiery breath (anima inflammata), the lightest of the four elements of the universe. Because of its fiery nature, its heat carried it aloft, for it was warmer and more subtle than the dense air which encircles the Earth. The freshly freed spirit easily cleaves through this heavier atmosphere, passes through the clouds and rain, and then to the regions ruled by the winds, until at last it ascends to the spaces filled by that rarefied air warmed by the Sun, and encounters elements similar to its own substance. Henceforth it forever dwells in these regions, which are its natural home, continually vivified by the same principles which feed the everlasting fires of the stars.
This cosmological framework of the levels of heaven were to be revisited by Dante centuries later, as the seven levels of heaven and hell.
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