Esoteric Chinese Astrology: The Imperial Astrologer

There is something here for everyone–astrologer, astronomer, esotericist, occultist, people just generally interested and even for historians– for this letter concerns something which has been dear to me for a while and which has its origins in ancient days–the Imperial Astrologer of Chinese occultism. But, this is not a personage–it is a star, an oracle, a sacred covenant among the astrologers of ancient China and a mystery as well. And what would our minds do without a good mystery to keep us occupied? But, some background is needed first.The ancient Chinese had a profound knowledge of the heavens. Their astronomical systems and knowledge were the envy of the ancient world in their day. Even by today’s standards their accumulated knowledge is impressive.

Whereas Western astronomy divides the sky into dozens of constellations comprised mostly of the larger naked-eye stars, the Chinese divided the sky into hundreds of constellations–some large, most of them small–and also used a great many stars which on some nights cannot even be seen with the naked eye. Their most important constellations were in what is known as the North Circumpolar Region–the region of the sky that is always visible at any time of the year north of the equator and which “rotates” around the current Pole Star, Polaris. The largest and most magnificent of these circumpolar constellations was, and still is, what they called  “Pei Tou”, the Northern Ladle, which we know as the Big Dipper–the seven main stars of Ursa Major, the Great Bear.

To the ancient Chinese the North Circumpolar Region was the abode of the Imperial court, since the Emperor was the center of their life and ruled the earth, just as Polaris (“Tai I”–the Celestial Monad) governed the course of the heavens. In fact, the Emperor was signified in the heavens by Tai I. Each facet of the Imperial court had a representative star somewhere within the circumpolar space.Ursa Major is one of the most massive of the Western constellations. But most of us know it only as the Big Dipper. The Chinese gleaned upwards of a dozen constellations from the stars there along with about 2 dozen individual stars which they considered to be of primary importance. Esotericists will be well familiar with the Great Bear–more specifically, the Northern Ladle–because those seven main stars are the source of the seven primary energies, or Rays, which go toward making up our solar system and all the associated modes of perception within it.

In short, they are the source or distributors of the Will of God for our solar system (and not a few other systems, as well). But, the Chinese had a secret, and a well-guarded one at that. Associated with those seven stars, or Rishis, were other groups of seven stars, some of which helped in distributing the seven Light Streams or Rays and another which “stood behind” them (the seven Rishis and the other groups of seven) and even directed them. I will not delineate them here. We should be very clear that, even though we are talking about vast interstellar systems and Beings of fantastic Light and Magnitude, the systems at which we are looking here are only as specks of dust in the even greater vastness of our own Milky Way galaxy.

Of the Northern Ladle, the Chinese said that those seven stars “…..represent the Emperor’s carriage [the vehicle of God’s Will], rotating around the center of the universe. It governs the 4 Directions, and divides Yin from Yang. It determines the 4 Seasons, balances the 5 Elements, regulates the divisions of time, the degrees of the sky, and many other things. Such are the stars of the Northern Ladle.” Esotericists will immediately recognize the similarities between their system and the Chinese description of the functions of the Great Bear. The Will of God would very much do all the things just mentioned, and then some. The seven Rays or Light Streams, their subdivisions, their cycles and their interactions give rise to all that we know within our manifested universe. But, they have to have help to do this. Like any good executive, God delegates authority and divides the load fairly and equitably to those in subordinate positions. Thus, the universe runs like a well-oiled machine and timepiece. The Seven Rishis are only way-stations Themselves, stepping down and transmitting God’s Light and Love to us from even more stupendous Lives. The universe is an infinite Hierarchy of Being.

Many of the Chinese names for stars in Ursa Major carry names such as “Prime Minister”, “Big Sun Governor”, “Minister of State”, “the 3 Dukes”, “Factory Chief”, along with many other ministers, chiefs, generals and people of high rank within the Imperial Court. Clearly, this was an important part of the sky for the Chinese. In fact, there were no named stars of inferior rank within the region of the sky now known as Ursa Major. Most Western sources attribute the Chinese namings of these stars to arbitrary whims and favors to people in high places. But, to the occultist–no matter what the culture–the stars and planets name themselves. It is my belief that, far from being arbitrary nominations, the Chinese took great care in how they named their stars and asterisms (constellations). They had many generations of accumulated lore and wisdom at their disposal to do so. Their namings are much more descriptive and poetic than the current scientific model of Greek letters, Roman letters and numbers. Energies and higher Intelligences play upon the collective subconscious of people and seek to impress the truth of the greater Universe upon the minds of people everywhere through names, symbols and a host of other methods. As we know, astrology is at one and the same time the grand masterwork of symbolism for humanity as well as a factual and accurate system of gauging and forecasting the energetic interplay of all bodies within the cosmos–so intricate, ordered and righteous is God’s Mechanism.

All this brings me to the subject of this letter and a thing which all intuitive astrologers and clairvoyants alike will find most enlightening in these days of accelerating consciousness and upheaval. I will slightly reorganize the Chinese text on the matter: “By the Literary Star, Kuei [one of the stars of the Northern Ladle] are six stars in a square called Wen Chang Kung, the Palace of Literary Genius. The names of the individual stars are Shang Lang (Chief of Staff), Tse Chang (Lieutenant General), Kuei Hsiang (Honorable Counselor of Rites), Ssu Ming (the Controller of Fate), Ssu Lu (the Controller of Rewards) and Ssu Chung (the Controller of the Center).” This last star–the Controller of the Center–is the Imperial Astrologer, Prognosticator and Interpreter of Strange Events.

For the astronomically–minded, this star is known as 23 Ursa Majoris in the scientific nomenclature. It has a spectral class of FO with an absolute magnitude of 1.6, which makes it roughly twice the size of our Sun  and green, at that. This places it in a class of solar system which is more expressive of Will than of Love (Our Sun is more expressive of love. “God Is Love.”), and it thus is a great transmitter of beneficent force and power to the local universe. It has a right ascension of 9 hrs 29min 49sec, which places it roughly at a projection of 23 Virgo in the Zodiac (I will have to check this, so don’t quote me on it. If I find out differently I will let you know.) It lies at a distance of 85 light-years, which places it in the local neighborhood of the main stars of the Northern Ladle. All this data is from older texts and will have to be double-checked. The key point here is the identity of the star and where to locate it in the sky. Unfortunately, people in the Southern Hemisphere will be unable to see it, unless you want to hop a plane northward. Even folks in the Northern climes would likely have to use binoculars to see it clearly some nights, for it is somewhat fainter than the other main stars of the great Bear.

Now, everyone knows that any imperial court has to have an oracle. The recent “Matrix” movies have brought this back to our consciousness. We all (or most of us) want to know what the future holds for us and what the reasons are for all the bumps in the Road of Life when they occur. The astrologers of ancient China had their oracles, too. But, chief among them was this “Controller of the Center”. Whenever major decisions of state were to be made or whenever there were odd occurrences within the empire that could not be explained through the usual motions of the planets, this star was consulted. Oracles are a strange and mysterious business to those who are unfamiliar with their workings. To start with, the oracle must have access to knowledge not privy to the masses or the uninitiated. A true oracle must also have a requisite purity of body and mind along with quiet emotions in order to bring through the needed information intact and uncorrupted by personal concerns. In short, the oracle needs to be an Initiate to be a bona fide mouthpiece for God. An oracle is thus an interpreter for the Mind of God to the masses of humanity. There are oracles who walk among us to this day. But the Imperial Astrologer is a Cosmic oracle. As such, it was consulted solely for matters of state and never for personal concerns. To do so would have broken the connection between the oracle and the consulting astrologer.

People might suppose that this oracle was consulted by simple observations of its appearance on a given night and any events that may have occurred close to or connected with it. We should be aware, though, that for an empire of the size and importance of ancient China there would have been astrologers in the court who were either Initiates themselves or who were guided by Initiates. All nations are guided by Initiates and angelic Presences from behind the scenes, impressing the minds of the leaders and thus guiding the fates of the masses. There would have also been quite a number of lesser astrologers and their helpers who would have gauged stellar influence by observing the appearance of certain key stars. But, the chief astrologers would have all at least had their intuitive faculties strongly developed, and I have the feeling that more than a few of them would have been fully clairvoyant. Of course, the information thus obtained would have been stepped down for the court and the means of its obtaining would have been a closely guarded secret and not for publication. It is doubtful even the Emperor would have known too much about what the old astrologers really got up to at night.

The true method of conversing with the Imperial astrologer would have been along the lines of a meditative practice, such as the type outlined in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, for instance. Occultists would be well familiar with this body of work. In fact, in that work two stars are singled out for meditative work–our Sun and Polaris. For a bit of background, Yoga is defined as “union” or “conjunction” (not in the astrological sense) with the divine, spiritual essence within each of us. A sutra is simply a method or an instruction–a thread of consciousness which leads to the universal Truth one is seeking. There are several different types of yoga–Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Laya Yoga and Raja Yoga, to name a few. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are classed under what is known as Raja Yoga–the Yoga of the intellect, or the Yoga of mental discipline. What most people know as Yoga is what is called Hatha Yoga, or the Yoga of the physical nature with all its attendant postures. All Yogas demand a strict mental discipline or adherence to their form and practice. None of them should ever be attempted except through the guidance of an expert Teacher.

In the Patanjali sutras we have the following two stanzas:

“Through meditation, one-pointedly fixed upon the Sun, will come a consciousness (or knowledge) of the seven worlds [states of Being or planes of Nature].”

“Concentration upon the Pole Star [Polaris] will give knowledge of the orbits of the planets and the stars.”

In addition,

“A knowledge of all lunar forms [all types of bodies in the personal worlds] arises through one-pointed concentration upon the Moon.”

From the preceding we can see that the Sun deals with Consciousness or Being, the Moon deals with matter and body and Polaris deals with the cycles that govern all of our manifested local universe. Also, we can begin to get a clearer picture of why astrology affixes the definitions it does on the Sun and the Moon. These methods of meditation can also be applied to any planetary body to give specific knowledge. For example, meditation on Mars would yield the inner workings of the persona. Meditation upon Venus would yield the very essence of Yoga itself and the means toward union with all Lives. Meditation upon Saturn would yield the knowledge of all causes and possible outcomes in the human worlds. And this would only be scratching the surface. But, I want to add my own version of a sutra here:

“Through one-pointed meditation upon the Controller of the Center [the Imperial Astrologer] comes knowledge of the future in its most equitable outcome for greatest Good.”

What the Chinese were calling “strange Events” in connection with the Imperial Astrologer were actually the workings of the Will of God behind the scenes, prompting people toward a new vision or outlook on things. Strange events always give us cause to stop and think, rather than our usual running to and fro always with our minds elsewhere than where they should be. The Imperial Astrologer is actually a sort of Cosmic Lord of Karma or Adjudicator–a Knower of causes and a keeper of fidelity with God’s Law, that we should all live in harmony with eachother and with our solar neighbors. But, it is not the agent of enforcement. As the Oracle, the work is always to advise–to mentor–and to maintain equilibrium when things go a bit awry in the stellar Home. Like the earthly astrological counterparts, the Imperial Astrologer is a mouthpiece and advisor to the Beings or people in authority actually doing the work of maintaining law and order, equilibrium, harmonization and restitution in whatever sphere they run.

With all the strangeness and disharmony in the world at the moment it would seem to be a good idea to renew our ancient connection with the Imperial Astrologer. All astrologers who work with mundane charts and with people of importance and influence would do well to meditate upon that marvelous Being and seek guidance for the most auspicious outcomes for all concerned. In fact, all astrologers and quite a few oracles in other walks of life would reap rich dividends by communing with our ancient Friend. As bearers of Light in this world we are all mouthpieces and agents for the Divine in our immediate spheres of influence.

Our judicious, impartial and clear interpretations of events in our own and other people’s lives bears our closest attention. Wisdom, born of our own Being and experience is ever our guide. A periodic consult with an Oracle to gain perspective can hardly go astray, though.  But, just as Neo in the Matrix–initially guided by the oracle–found that the oracle, too, is bound by certain laws, we know the Laws of God are for our learning and are there as guideposts. But that eventually helped him find the power of his own free will. And our own free will is a gift from God that can move mountains when rightly applied in the spirit of love and brotherhood. Let our free will help others to equipoise and onwards to freedom!

May the Imperial Astrologer and our highest Essence guide us on the Path of Truth toward the best possible outcomes in all our lives and for the world at large.

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