Mithraism, Bullfighting and Astrology
How Can Astrology be Bad for Your Health?
Mithra was the god powerful enough to remove Taurus, the bull, from the Vernal Equinox. Taurus is one of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac in the path of the sun in its annual apparent motion. In ancient times, Taurus was the constellation occupied by the sun as it passed from the southern sky to the north in the spring. The moment of the sun crossing the celestial equator is the vernal equinox. Now the sun is in Taurus in May. When we say, “the sun is in Taurus”, we mean these are the very stars one would see surrounding the sun if there were a total eclipse at that time. The movement of Taurus from the vernal equinox from March to May is caused by the precession of the equinoxes, a phenomenon discovered by the Greeks in about 300 BC. This precession depends on a wobble of the earth’s axis. Compare with the wobble of a toy top as its spin dies away. In historical times the north star is very close to the point to which the earth’s axis points. Ten to fifteen thousand years into the future the earth’s axis will point toward Vega, a very bright star near the zenith in the summer evening sky in our latitude. Vega is about 47° from polaris, the name of the North Star. 23 1/2° (1/2 of 47°) is the angle of inclination of the earth’s axis away from the perpendicular to earth’s orbital plane. 47° is the diameter of the circle showing all possible locations to which the earth’s axis points throughout the entire cycle of the precession, 26,000 years, until we get back to our present pole star.
The cult of Mithra was one of the “oriental cults” added to or replacing the pantheon of Greek and Roman gods. There is little written record of the rituals of Mithraism, but several murals of Mithra struggling with the bull survive at shrines where Mithraists assembled. Many of the adherents were Roman officials.
When it occurred to me that Mithraism might be the origin of bull fighting, I looked up bullfighting in the Encyclopedia Britannica. There I found that bullfighting was just as prevalent in Italy in Roman times as it was in Spain in those times. I had a professor of antiquities as a patient soon after making my surmise about bullfighting’s origin. He was intrigued by the idea and said he would get back to me. A few weeks later he called to say that he found nothing against the surmise and no mention that it had already been proposed. Would this make a topic for a PhD thesis? Let it be known that I have no thought of pursuing such a PhD.
I am more interested in the consequences for astrology of the precession of the equinoxes. Do astrologists take it into account when preparing horoscopes? Furthermore, Galileo’s discoveries in 1610 of the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter marked the divergence of astronomy from astrology because the original astrology demanded a geocentric universe. Parenthetically, Venus when brightest is a very narrow crescent because it is so much closer to earth at that time. Only a sun centered solar system can explain this.
You may wonder why this is in a health column: If you take astrology too seriously, it might distort some major decision in a way which could be damaging to health.
John A. Frantz, M.D.
April 13, 2002. Revised November 9, 2005
This insight occurred to me in Afghanistan in 1969. Our Afghan Counterpart physicians were amazed by a demonstration of acupuncture anesthesia put on by a Chinese medical delegation in Kabul and asked us what we thought. I immediately remembered a report of chest surgery done a few years before in San Francisco with hypnosis as the only anesthesia, surely as amazing as acupuncture anesthesia. April 6, 2003
The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.
John Kenneth Galbraith 1909-2006