Anda di halaman 1dari 28

The Meaning of Omens:

The Rationale of Astrology


Chris Kellett
25/11/2014

What does an omen mean?

If the Plough star [comes close] to Scorp[ius],


the ruler [will die] by a sting of a scorpion;
after him his son will no[t take] the throne
(Hunger, 1992, SAA VIII.219)

What does an omen mean?


What is required is a familiarity with the nature
of language as language, of religion as religion,
of law as law. The individual scholar, however,
cannot possibly have such wide experience. He
must get in touch with people who have studied
these disciplines as they relate to other peoples
and, where possible, living ones: such viable
exchange is vital for the application of this
method.
(Landsberger, 1974, p. 7)

The scientific option:


a firm conceptual link [is] established
between the observed and the future which
then allows omina to be construed by the
application of regularities
(Maul, 2007, p. 361)

The religious option:


Astronomy vs Astrology
Rationality
Wittgenstein:
Language games
D. Browns EAE paradigm

Religious language

The theology implied by the omens


Pseudoscience

Astronomy vs Astrology

Rationality:
Scientific:

Non-scientific:

Plants need light to grow.

I like to eat cake.

That plant has no light.

I see a cake.

That plant will not grow.

I eat the cake.

Rationality:
Scientific:

Non-scientific:
Might is right .

The sun rises and falls.

I am strong.

People feel no movement.

The sun moves.

I am right.

Wittgenstein on language
games:
Meaning through usage
Action
Particularised to a given context
Fuzzy relations between games
Applies to all uses of language

Wittgenstein on language
games:

the teaching of language is not explanation, but


training
(Wittgenstein, 1958, p. 4)

D. Brown the EAE paradigm:


Rules
Code
Categorisation

Wittgenstein on religious
language:
Take two people, one of whom talks of his behaviour
and of what happens to him in terms of retribution,
the other one does not. These people think entirely
differently. Yet, so far, you cant say they believe
different things you can call it believing the
opposite, but it is entirely different from what we
would normally call believing the opposite.
I think differently, in a different way. I say different
things to myself. I have different pictures.
(Wittgenstein, 1966, p. 58)

Different games?
Astrology

Terrestrial
causation

Different games?
Theocentric

Hubristic

Terrestrial
causation

A case study:

If the Plough star [comes close] to Scorp[ius],


the ruler [will die] by a sting of a scorpion;
after him his son will no[t take] the throne
(Hunger, 1992, SAA VIII.219)

II Kings 6:
The attendant of the man of God got up early to go
outside,
there
surrounding
the city
was
the army,

and

with horses and chariots. The young man said to Elisha,


Woe, my lord! What can we do?. He replied, Do not


with

fear:
the multitude
that is
with us
exceeds
all those
them.
So Elisha
Yahweh,
saying,
Yahweh,

prayed
to

open the eyes of this young man!. Then he saw, there


the mountains were full of horses, and chariots of fire


And

toward

surrounded
Elisha.
as they
came down
him,
Elisha prayed
to Yahweh,
saying, Strike
this people
with

blindness!, and they became blind as Elisha spoke.

Religious/scientific parallelism:
Veldhuiss model:
IV.13
7

i-pi-i-ma ki-ma nu-un ma-tee a-na i-ni-u

He [Marduk] split her [Tiamat] in


two, like a fish for drying,

IV.13
8

mi-i-lu-u-a i-ku-nam-ma ma-mi u-al-lil

Half of her he set up and made


as a cover, heaven.

V.55

ip-te-e-ma i-na IGI+2- p[u-raat-ta] i-di-ig-lat

From her eyes he undammed


the Euph[rates] and Tigris,

(Talon, 2005)

(Foster, 1997)

Religious/scientific parallelism:
Diviners Manual:

39
40

AN-e u KI-tim UR.BI GI.GIM.MA


ub-ba-lu-ni

Sky and earth both produce


portents

a-he-en-na-a ul BAR.ME AN U
KI it-hu-zu

though appearing separately,


they are not separate (because)
sky and earth are related.

(Oppenheim, 1974)

The case study:

Ritual healing:

10

(Scurlock, 2006, pp. 178f.,


AfO 29/30.4)

ana UL i-si-it GIDIM TAR-si


IKA DU6 UB-i ina A ta!-sk-ma
i-sal-la 3U4-mi ki-is-pa ana
GIDIM kim-ti- i-ka-sip

In order to avert the evil


(portended by) a ghosts cry,
you crush a potsherd from an
abandoned tell in water and he
sprinkles the house (with it).
For three days, he makes
funerary offerings to his family
ghost(s).

Parallel systems:
Theocentric

Hubristic

Terrestrial
causation

Parallel systems:
Pseudoscienc
Theocentric
e

Hubristic

Terrestrial
causation

The case study:

Beyond omens?

Religious prognoses:

(Scurlock, 2014, pp. 103, 109,


DPS 13)

[DI S]AG - GI[6-ma


EME- e-em-ret ana GIZKIM
GIG GAM]

[If] his epigastrium is dark


and his tongue is shriveled, he
is at an acute stage of the
illness; he will die].