On this question of using an artist's copy, for the purpose of this thread, the postures of the twelve apostles are the same as in the original, but are just a lot clearer. I don't think that artist changed Da Vinci's painting with cosmic intent as I did by changing the table cloth.
There is no ‘messing around with astrology’ involved in the claims in this thread. The star diagrams are objective and scientific and are exactly the same today (apart from tiny change due to proper motion of stars and precession) as in Leonardo’s day. This interpretation does not claim any symbolic meaning for the zodiac signs, it just takes them as empirically observed. Go outside on a clear night and look up.
It is not like the stars along the path of the sun shift their positions like clouds. There is no pareidolia
, like images in clouds. It is not like a Rorschach ink blot psychological test because the single meaning of the images was put there deliberately by Leonardo. How I see it is that Leonardo deliberately set out to conceal depictions of the stars in the painting. While he stretched and reversed the template in some cases, like in his mirror writing, he kept the same order and shape as we actually still see in the night sky today. For each of the twelve constellations of the ecliptic, you can look to see if it is concealed in the position matching the natural order, and the answer for all twelve is unequivocally yes.
A way to prove this is by starting with the most obvious correlations and proceeding through to the least obvious. Numbers in brackets in this list indicate the number of the apostle counting from the right, ergo:
1. Scorpio (8): Peter’s sword as sting, curved arm as body, head as head, with head of Judas at position of bright star Antares
2. Taurus (2): left hand as Hyades (bulls head) around the star Aldebaran, right hand as the Pleiades cluster
3. Pisces (12): hands as fishes, arms as ropes, shoulder knot as knot
4. Aries (1): two hands form shape of three visible stars
5. Aquarius (11): left arm reaches over shoulder of Capricorn, with rest of stars as body
6. Gemini (3): arms in two parallel lines match stars of the twins, with hands the bright stars Castor and Pollux
7. Capricorn (10): head and hands form triangle, alternatively hands and elbow form triangle
8. Virgo (6): hand pointing to ceiling forms shape of constellation
9. Sagittarius (9): arms and body in lumpy shape of stars
10. Libra (7): hands form upside down balance, arms are ropes holding weight trays
11. Cancer (4): hands at heart like legs of crab – note that the ancient Egyptians considered the head of Hydra, just south of the ecliptic, as the constellation of the crab
12. Leo (5): left hand cupped like head of lion (Regulus), right hand stretched out like tail of lion (Denebola).
From one to twelve in this list, all the correlations are clear and precise. Trying to match the apostles with the stars in any other order does not work.
This picks up on the culture war that rages around esoteric doctrine. Newton translated the Egyptian Emerald Tablets of Thoth, and wrote more on alchemy and related esoteric topics than on science. The ‘as above so below’ mysticism provided the cosmology which enabled him to make his superb scientific discoveries. Kepler, who discovered elliptical orbits, was a full-on astrologer. Astrology was very prominent in Leonardo’s day, including among his sponsor Popes, but there is no evidence I have found that Leonardo had an interest in astrology, and this use of the stars in the Last Supper is not astrological.
I think Geo may have been referring to the Roman Catholic church. The symbolism of the sun surrounded by twelve months/signs was used in a range of mythical traditions that informed Christianity, including Mithraism and the old wisdom of Egypt and Babylon. One book that contains extensive discussion of the metaphor for Jesus as the sun is Suns of God by D M Murdock. The Bible itself encodes a vision of Jesus as the sun, for example in Mark’s resurrection narrative.
Leonardo was practical, modern, empirical and observant. The popular astrology of his day (and today for that matter) was none of these, so I can imagine he had little interest in it, and I have not found any claims that he did. However, the cosmic stellar basis of Christianity in the zodiac is another story altogether from the fortune telling of horoscopes. I also have an old George Braziller edition of Leonardo’s Notebooks that my parents bought in Chicago fifty years ago. I will look at it again with this question in mind.
We are so denaturalised these days, after the bombardment of centuries of vile Christian supernaturalism, that any effort to ask people to raise their eyes to the sky and look at what is actually there gets condemned as ‘astrological hints’. Each year, from spring to winter, the sun travels through these twelve constellations. In Leonardo’s idiosyncratic mirror method, he has encoded the path of the sun as travelling from right to left in The Last Supper. The apostles are grouped in four sets of three heads, with each set matching the seasons. From right to left these are spring, summer, autumn, winter.
Good point. Natural theology has been heavily suppressed by Christian bigotry. In the Bible the extensive astrotheism, understanding ‘the age’ against natural observation of precession of the equinox, is presented throughout the New Testament as a coded basis for the literal historical myth of Christ.
The ‘conspiratorial appeal’ resonates with Dan Brown’s argument in The Da Vinci Code that the Vitruvian Man encodes the natural relationship between earth and Venus, with the conjunction points forming a stable cosmic pentagram in the solar system as a product of the fact that there are close to exactly thirteen Venus years in eight earth years. I will explain this in more detail if there is interest. Brown covers this esoteric scientific knowledge with a racy story, and with the holy blood holy grail fable of the descent of the Merovingian Kings of France from Jesus and Mary Magdalene. I regard all that Magdalene material as fictional, but it is still interesting as alternative history. It helps us to look beneath the lies of faith to explore what really happened to establish Christianity.
Yes, that is right. The alpha and omega metaphor for Christ is a direct reference to the shift of the equinox from one Great Year to the next at the time of Christ, when the spring point of the sun shifted from the constellation of Aries into Pisces.
These early teachings were understood by the Gnostic and Docetic movements and by Saint Paul, but the early church saw that a literal myth would serve their efforts to overthrow the Roman Empire with more felicity than the actual cosmic science that was at the foundation of the myth. The Nag Hammadi texts, found buried in Egypt in 1945 after 1600 years of stony sleep, were hidden to protect them from Roman Legions who were systematically burning all evidence of the old cosmic wisdom after Constantine shifted the strategic basis of imperial unity from Sol Invictus to Christ. Now that the Gnostic Gospels have been found the sphinx is at last slouching towards Bethlehem. This metaphor is from the poem The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats.
Sure, I’ve discussed this in several booktalk threads and blog posts, most recently Natural Religion, Milankovitch Cycles and Myth, the Gnostic Paul and The New Testament was written in the Second Century. More detailed discussion is in my papers on Blavatsky and the Great Year and on The Gas Giant Planets, the Great Year and the Holy City. People can easily google all these.
My claim is that astrotheology provides a parsimonious and elegant explanation that is at the basis of the emerging new paradigm. It fits well against TS Kuhn’s theory of paradigm change, noting that the scale of the change here, understanding an old paradigm that has dominated for two thousand years, means its assumptions are so deeply entrenched that debate and dialogue is quite difficult. This thread on Leonardo contributes to this paradigm shift by showing that a hidden natural observation stands behind religious genius. I often get people saying things like ‘tell us it ain’t so’, or ‘why did no one see it before?’ I think people just have great difficulty coming to terms with the actual scale of deception and delusion involved in Christianity.
Fantastic in the sense of insight rather than fantasy. No it is not bogus.
Yes, I enjoy Booktalk because atheism provides a sceptical and logical basis for discussion. Christians tend towards bigotry, and I am working to overthrow their whole supernatural paradigm for understanding reality by revealing the hidden purpose of their myths. By and large I find that Christians are too emotional about these topics to enable a sensible conversation.
Well thank you Geo, that is a high compliment. I have been working on this precessional understanding since my BA Honours thesis on it in 1985, and I hope that the shift in consciousness it provides will be as comprehensive as Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Not quite. It is more that Christianity has to become scientific. That includes recognition of the astronomical framework of the mythology. One of my first hypotheses in this regard was that the Age of Pisces (0-2148AD) corresponded to the annual astrological symbolism of Pisces (themes of mystical compassionate belief) and the Age of Aquarius (2148-4346 AD) corresponds to the annual symbolism of Aquarius (innovative humanitarian knowledge). In exploring if this is scientifically possible I have done a lot of research on the empirical basis of astrology. My current view is that the cosmos is like river banks and we are like fish in the river, carried by the flow, but with liberty to swim against the current. So much swimming against the current in the alienation of culture from nature has almost cut the line anchoring us to reality. But the line is still there, even if just hanging by a slim thread. Astrological forcing, if it exists, is far weaker than astrologers claim, and has not yet been decisively proven by any scientific or statistical tests, even those of Gauquelin. My view is that this shows we have not yet devised experiments or studies with enough sensitivity to detect such weak signals, and that further work could prove fruitful. This work is now banned by the prevailing academic anathema.
Yes. Fundamentalism is garbage, and dangerous garbage at that, with toxic potential to destroy our planet. Finding the hidden real message is actually quite an urgent problem, especially to establish a cosmology that enframes the problem of climate change.
It is really about the study of natural cycles. Even the popular scientific critiques, arguing that there is no stellar emanation or that precession refutes astrology, miss the point entirely. The twelve signs are just the natural divisions of the year produced by harmonic relations from the solstices and equinoxes.
Many thanks Geo, I really appreciate your explanation here. Saying The Last Supper uses stars as templates does not in any way imply that each apostle matches to an astrological meaning for that star template, except in so far as it provides a natural cycle for the year. The months and seasons are products of the solstices and equinoxes, and have a permanent character, but recognising that as a scientific fact is a long way from any predictive effort.
Wikipedia: Astrotheology is the study of the astrological origins of religion; how gods, goddesses, and demons are personifications of astrological phenomena such as lunar eclipses, planetary alignments, and apparent interactions of planetary bodies with stars. Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, and the ancient Egyptian religions are examples of faiths claimed to be derived from observations of the bodies on the celestial sphere. Examples of deities said to be created as astrological allegories include Ra, Horus, Osiris, Mithras, Zoroaster, Helios, Apollo, Lugh, Quetzalcoatl and Jesus Christ.
I hadn’t heard of Lugh. You learn something new every day. The above wiki entry wrongly uses astrology when it means astronomy. The issue here is that modern astronomy is prejudiced against cyclic research because of its association with irrational thought. However, as the depiction of the cycle of the seasons in the Last Supper demonstrates, this cyclic vision of reality is at core entirely rational.