A client recently asked if there was any relationship between astrology and religion. The short answer is, surprisingly: Yes. The relationship between astrology and religion – and I’m speaking here of the Western religions– is that they are based on a similar idea: there is no god, but God, the Unique, the One, the Source from which everything in the universe comes forth.

In ancient astrology, the universe was conceived to be a hierarchy. If we look at the famous hermetic illustration of Robert Fludd, we see God at the top and then a ring of concentric circles ending with Earth. Symbolically, the chart suggests a series of correspondences, of relationships, of gradations and refinements of Being. This isn’t as abstract as it sounds. Consider, for instance, the Catholic Church: it is headed by the Pope and underneath is a hierarchy: Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Laity. (The analogy breaks down, of course, as the Pope is considered infallible but that’s sheer sophistry and arrogance: only God is perfect.)

From the point of view of Fludd’s diagram, salvation, or grace, is accomplished through ascent: we must rise back to our common Source, God. To fall from our current position in the universe is dangerous: in one sense, we are already far away from God; to fall further is to flirt with non-existence.

Despite some similarity of conception, enormous differences exist between astrology and religion regarding the path back to God. Religion, at least as it’s currently practiced, requires believing and doing certain things for which the believer is rewarded. In contrast, the astrological approach requires that you Know Yourself. The chart, through the distribution and relationship of the planets, gives or should give insight into the basic nature of the individual. By knowing your nature, you have a perspective of your strengths and weaknesses, a perspective which can be used as a compass, so to speak, to guide you. To quote Fludd:

“As for man, there is such a wonderful treasure hidden in him that wise men have esteemed that the perfect wisdom of this world consisteth in knowledge of a man’s Self, namely to find out that secret mystery which doth lurk within him. For man is said to be the centre of every creature and for that cause he is called Microcosmos, centrum et miraculum mundi, containing in himself the properties of all creatures, as well celestial as terrestrial.”