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Stellar Magic

Page history last edited by Yvonne 14 years, 5 months ago

This page is an excerpt (quoted with permission) from

Stellar Magic: a beginner’s guide to rites of the moon, planets, stars and constellations.


By Payam Nabarz. (c) 2007.


Available from Avalonia Books


The Orion NebulaBy the same author:

The Mysteries of Mithras: The Pagan Belief That Shaped the Christian World by Payam Nabarz. Inner Traditions, 2005.

The Persian 'Mar Nameh': The Zoroastrian 'Book of the Snake' Omens and Calendar & The Old Persian Calendar by Payam Nabarz and S, H Taqizadeh. Twin Serpents Ltd, 2006.

Mithras Reader - An academic and religious journal of Greek, Roman, and Persian Studies. Volume 1 Editor Payam Nabarz. Twin Serpents Ltd, 2006.





To the Stars.


WITH holy voice I call the stars on high,

Pure sacred lights and genii of the sky.

Celestial stars, the progeny of Night,

In whirling circles beaming far your light,

Refulgent rays around the heav'ns ye throw,

Eternal fires, the source of all below.

With flames significant of Fate ye shine,

And aptly rule for men a path divine.

In seven bright zones ye run with wand'ring flames,

And heaven and earth compose your lucid frames:

With course unwearied, pure and fiery bright

Forever shining thro' the veil of Night.

Hail twinkling, joyful, ever wakeful fires!

Propitious shine on all my just desires;

These sacred rites regard with conscious rays,

And end our works devoted to your praise.” 1



In Plato’s Timaeus, the view of Planets and heavenly bodies containing gods is discussed as the necessary force that moves the planets around the earth. The Greek cosmology viewed the movement of celestial bodies ‘resembling as closely as possible the perfect intelligible Living Creature’. The laws of Newtonian physics have long ago replaced the need for gods as the necessary motion for movement stellar bodies, and astronomy has taken over astrology.


Yet, in walking on a clear night and staring at the stars, something does capture one’s imagination. It may be the simple beauty of stars and the planets, or a perhaps a religious meme that compels one to head out night after night in the footsteps of the modern and ancient star gazers. It is not only the full moon turning people into a lunatics and poets, there is a subtle force too that inspires us; the constellations. If sun is the ocean and the moon a sea, the planets the rivers, then the constellations are the streams. There has been much written about the magick of the sun, moon and the planets, yet the gentler streams of the constellations largely remain unspoken of. Some constellations are used in astrology, the signs of Zodiac, as powers that influence us from birth. However, in modern astrology this is a reactive rather proactive relationship, viewed as a unidirectional flow of energy. The aim of following stellar workings are to make the relationship a bidirectional flow of energy and to honour the constellations in a same many pagans honour earth, moon, sun and the planets. To draw down powers of the constellations as some modern Wiccans draw down the moon or the sun, or as some magicians work with planetary hours and days for ideal time to achieve their aims.


This magical and religious approach to the constellations is not a new idea, indeed it can viewed as the root of ancient religions. Prof Franz Cumont in his ‘Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans’ raises the issue of ‘the idea that the primary source of religion was the spectacle of celestial phenomena and the ascertainment of their correspondence with earthly events, and he (Dupuis) undertook to show that the myths of all peoples and all times were nothing but a set of astronomical combinations’.


The central role of stars in root of religions is echoed to our time also in its myriad of manifestations; from Star Gate fans, to UFO enthusiast, to fanatical Solar Temple cult followers. From the ancient star gazers to the modern astronomers and New Age astrologers the stars still inspire us, and the thoughts of the Magi still resonate today.


The place of stellar magic in modern occultism is best seen in word of Rudolf Steiner and Aleister Crowley. Aleister Crowley talks of Star Goddess Nuit in his book of the Law in depth, indeed the first chapter of his book of the Law is Nuit speaking directly to the reader for examples she states: ‘I am the blue-lidded daughter of Sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky’ . He also refers in number of his other work for example:


‘Every man and every woman is a Star. It is Our Lady of the Stars that speaketh to thee, O thou that art a star, a member of the Body of Nuith! Listen, for thine ears become dulled to the mean noises of the earth; the infinite silence of the Stars woos thee with subtile musick.... For inasmuch as thou hast made the Law of Freedom thine, as thou hast lived in Light and Liberty and Love, thou hast become a Free-man of the City of the Stars....’- Liber CVI .


Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Anthroposophical Society also developed a Stellar based approach to philosophy, and in 1913 built the first Goetheanum, a physical temple so to speak to connect to the stars. In his word:

The stars once spoke to man.

It is world destiny that they are silent now

To become aware of this silence can be pain for earth humanity

But in the deepening silence

There grows and ripens what human beings speak to the stars

To become aware of this speaking

Can become strength for Spirit Man.


In his view the stellar connection was a crucial step in one's spiritual journey: ‘Steiner explained that to know the human being, one must take ... the heavens and the earth as your province and discern the rhythm that beats between them’. (Speaking to the Stars: In consideration of Cosmic Ritual by Mary Stewart Adams in New View, Winter 2006/7 p50.)


My own interest in stellar magic is rooted in Mithraic Mysteries, in this stellar religion the individual’s soul is seen to have descended from starry heavens to earth and at death the soul makes its journey upward again into the star. The initiatory system allowed the neophyte to become familiar with the cosmos, and learn the star ‘sign post’ which would have allowed his return journey smoother. The cave like temple, called a Mithraeum was a representation of the universe, here the initiate ascended through various planetary degrees and learned about the constellations and their meaning. The Planetary initiates were:


  • Mercury (Corax/Raven)
  • Venus (Nymphus/ bee chrysalis or male bride)
  • Mars (Miles/ soldier)
  • Jupiter (Leo/ lion)
  • Moon (Perses /Persian)
  • Sun (Heliosdromus)
  • Saturn (Pater)


The central iconography of Mithraism (For full details see The Mysteries of Mithras: The Pagan Belief That Shaped the Christian World by Payam Nabarz) the so called Bull Slaying was a representation of the night sky and the structure of the Mithraeum building lends itself to contain all the symbols of macrocosm. The scene shows that Mithras, while facing away from the bull, has one leg on the back of the bull, one hand holding the bull’s head, and the other hand stabbing the bull in the neck, where blood pours forth. Around him are a dog, a raven, a scorpion, a snake, a lion, and a cup. From the tip of the bull’s tail, a shaft of wheat is growing. The cloak of Mithras is the night sky with stars; the signs of the zodiac surround the whole scene. The symbols of the seven planets are present; the two torchbearers of Mithras stand at either side of the bull-slaying scene. One of the Mithraic mysteries is that the bull slaying scene is a representation of the constellations Perseus (Mithras), Taurus (bull), Canis Minor (dog), Hydra (snake), Corvus (raven), Scorpio (scorpion). The wheat is the star Spica (the brightest star in Virgo); the blood is the Milky Way. The two torchbearers, Cautes and Cautopates, symbolize the equinoxes. Cautes’ torch is pointing upward: the spring equinox. Cautopates’ torch is pointing downward: the autumn equinox.




Several key images around the central tauroctony scene are important because they contain a creation story. In the beginning Mithras is asked by the Sun to kill the first bull, but he is reluctant to do this. The Raven, messenger of the Sun, comes to him again with the message. Mithras goes into the field and captures the bull, and with his might, lifts the back legs of the bull over his shoulder and drags him to the birth cave. The crescent moon over the bull suggests its connection to the moon. As Mithras kills the bull, from his blood come wine and all the plants that cover the earth. The tail becomes wheat, which gives us our bread. The seed and the genitals of the bull are taken to the Moon Goddess and purified, giving rise to all the animals. Hence by this slaying of the first bull, life comes onto the earth. The new life on Earth is growing very slowly, due to drought. Mithras as the mediator between Heaven and Earth is asked to solve this problem; however, this means a conflict with the Sun, who has been burning the land. The battle between Sol (the sun) and Mithras results in Mithras overcoming

the planetary sun and becoming the Invincible Sun. Sol kneels in front of Sol Invictus while Mithras holds the constellation Bear (Ursa Minor) in one hand. This emphasizes his power as the stellar god, one who moves the cosmic pole as well as causing the precession of equinoxes. Mithras and Sol then become friends and shake hands.



The emblems for Grade 1, Corax, appear toward the bottom of the left photo and the grades proceed upward in order to Grade 7, Pater, at the top of the right photo. The emblems, or tokens, for each grade are shown as follows. Tokens of Corax under the planet Mercury: a Raven, a Caduceus, and a small beaker. Tokens of Nymphus under Venus: an oil lamp and a diadem. Tokens of Miles under Mars: a lance, a helmet, and a soldier’s sling bag. Tokens of Leo under Jupiter: a fire shovel, a rattle (sistrum), and a thunderbolt. Tokens of Perses under the Moon: a sickle, a Persian dagger, and a crescent moon with a star. Tokens of Heliodromus under the Sun: a torch, a seven-rayed crown, and a whip. Tokens of the Pater under Saturn: a Phrygian cap, a libation bowl, a staff, and a sickle.


The initiates were magical cosmonauts, making astral journeys and making preparation for their final destination, returning to the Milky way. For further details of Mithraic cosmic soul traveler and star talk see The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire: Mysteries of the Unconquered Sun by Roger Beck. The following rites are experimental and designed to help to increase our knowledge of the stars, to learn about their myths and finally to allow connection to these stellar bodies and revelation of their mysteries to each person in their own way.


The rites here are created using classical hymns and tales like hymns of Orpheus or material from Ovid or Egyptian and Persian texts. In bring these rites into modern times, also stellar poems by modern poet from last 200 years have also been included, giving a Bardic blend of ancient and modern. The rites here ‘set the scene’ and after the all the poems and invocation are done, the point is reached in the rite where magus has to make his/her direct connection, and draw inspiration from stellar well directly. The rites here are the beginning steps of your stellar journey write your own poems and invocations to the stars and make your Path to the stars.




By Robert Graves (1895 - 1985)


'Are you awake, Gemelli,

This frosty night?'

'We'll be awake till reveillé,

Which is Sunrise,' say the Gemelli,

'It's no good trying to go to sleep:

If there's wine to be got we'll drink it deep,

But rest is hopeless to-night,

But rest is hopeless to-night.'


'Are you cold too, poor Pleiads,

This frosty night?'

'Yes, and so are the Hyads:

See us cuddle and hug,' say the Pleiads,

'All six in a ring: it keeps us warm:

We huddle together like birds in a storm:

It's bitter weather to-night,

It's bitter weather to-night.'


'What do you hunt, Orion,

This starry night?'

'The Ram, the Bull and the Lion,

And the Great Bear,' says Orion,

'With my starry quiver and beautiful belt

I am trying to find a good thick pelt

To warm my shoulders to-night,

To warm my shoulders to-night.


'Did you hear that, Great She-bear,

This frosty night?

'Yes, he's talking of stripping me bare

Of my own big fur,' says the She-bear,

'I'm afraid of the man and his terrible arrow:

The thought of it chills my bones to the marrow,

And the frost so cruel to-night!

And the frost so cruel to-night!'


'How is your trade, Aquarius,

This frosty night?'

'Complaints is many and various

And my feet are cold,' says Aquarius,

'There's Venus objects to Dolphin-scales,

And Mars to Crab-spawn found in my pails,

And the pump has frozen to-night,

And the pump has frozen to-night.'





Atlas céleste de Flamstéed ‘U.S. Naval Observatory Library’



For further info on the book Stellar Magic: a beginner’s guide to rites of the moon, planets, stars and constellations see: http://www.myspace.com/nabarz


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