Mystical Astrology According to Ibn 'Arabi
  • Book Title:
 Mystical Astrology According To Ibn Arabi
  • Book Author:
Ibn al-'ArabiTitus Burckhardt
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THE WRITTEN work of the ‘greatest Master’ (ash-shaikh al­ akbar) Sufi, Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, contains certain considerations on astrology which permit one to perceive how this science, which arrived in the modern occident only in a fragmentary form and reduced only to some of its most contingent applications, could be related to metaphysical principles, there­ by relating to a knowledge self-sufficient in itself. Astrology, as it was spread through the Middle Ages within Christian and Islamic civilizations and which still subsists in certain Arab countries, owes its form to the Alexandrine hermeticism;

it is therefore neither Islamic nor Christian in its essence; it could not in any case find a place in the religious perspective of mono­ theistic traditions, given that this perspective insists on the responsibility of the individual before its Creator and avoids, by this fact, all that could veil this relationship by considerations of intermediary causes. If, all the same, it were possible to integrate astrology into the Christian and Moslem esotericism, it is because it perpetuated, vehicled by hermeticism, certain aspects of a very primordial symbolism :

the contemplative penetration of cosmic atmosphere, and the identification of spontaneous appearances constant and rhythmic of the sensible world with the eternal prototypes corresponding in fact to a mentality as yet primitive, in the proper and positive sense of this term. This implicit primordiality of the astrological symbolism flares up in contact with spirituality, direct and universaI, of  living csotericism, just like the scintillation of a preci­ us stone flares up when it is exposed to the rays of light

Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi encloses the facts of the hermetic astrology in the edifice of his cosmology, which ·he summarises by means of a schema of concentric spheres by taking, as the starting point and as terms of comparison, the geocentric sys­ t m of the planetary world as the Medieval world conceived it.

The ‘subjective’ polarisation of this system we mean by that the fact that the terrestrial position of the human being serving s the fixed point to which will be related all the movements of the stars here symbolises the central role of man in the cosmic whole, of which man is like the goal and the centre of gravity. This symbolic perspective naturally does not depend upon the purely physical or spatial reality, the only one envisaged by modern astronomy, of the world of the stars; the geocentric system, being in conformity with the reality as it presents itself immediately to the human eyes, contains in itself all the logical) coherence requisite to a body of knowledge for constituting

\ exact sciencsToe discovery of the heliocentric system, which corresponds to a development both possible and homogeneous but very particular to the empirical knowledge of the sensible world, obviously could not prove anything against the central cognition of the human being in the cosmos;

only, the possibility of conceiving the planetary world as if one were contemplating it from the non-human position, and even as if one could make abstraction of the existence of the human being even though its consciousness still remains the ‘container’ of all conceptions had produced an intellectual dis-equilibrium which shows clearly that the ‘artificial’ extension of the empirical knowledge has in it something of the abnormal, and that it is, intellectually, not only indifferent but even detrimental. 1

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