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The Capricorn Figure (A Study in Subjective Probability)
by David A. Pardo

If music is the food of love, play on, O Capricorn!

    Each new astrological age may be accompanied by a major religious innovation inaugurated by a pair of individuals with opposite signs that match those for that age. [1]  For example, at the start of the Aries age the Libra/Aries combination (Abraham/Isaac) saw the birth of Judaism, at the start of the Piscean age the Virgo/Pisces combination (Mary/Christ) saw the birth of Christianity, and, as the theory and evidence go, the Leo/Aquarius age has or will see the extension of these religions. The purpose of this paper will be to make some informed speculation on the Cancer/Capricorn pair whose age begins somewhere in the interval c.3900 to 4400 AD. [2]  It could be argued that speculating on a future astrological event is meaningless. It is well known that such events are revealed through interpretation of the stars rather than directly as in true prophecy. But just as there is noise and error in astrological prediction, is not there massive confusion in forecasting and verifying the fulfillment of prophecy, irrespective of false prophecy? How many times have the rabbis failed with their messianic crystal balls? Since the interpretation and forecasting of history is open to probabilities, it still may be useful on the basis of personal opinion to describe hunches, information and beliefs one may be willing to bet with certain odds. "Probability models are also useful in describing an individual's belief about an unknown state of affairs or about a phenomenon yet to take place, even when these are hard to conceive of as repeatable experiments". [3]  As we shall see, in the case of Cancer/Capricorn, we shall use logical deduction and some scraps of evidence to hopefully say something meaningful.

    The underlying claims we use in this paper are that (1) a new world religion begins at the beginning of a new astrological age (and not vice versa) and (2) the new world religion begins at or just before the emergence of a universal political state.

     Roman Mithraism seems to approach the mark on the first claim, but the cult as far as we know fails in a number of respects. Ulansey argues that the discovery of the precession of the equinoxes by Hipparchus by apparently shifting the fundamental structure of the universe leads to the idea of the cycles of time. A group of "intellectuals" passed on these astonishing results to inter alia the Cilician pirates. [4]  Cumont, like R. Turcan, argued that the symbolon of the Contra Celsum conceals a succession of seven world ages ruled by the planets in a different guise as chronocrators, culminating in the rule of the sun who is both Apollo and Mithras. Then follows a universal conflagration and a final age. [5]  Beck argues that the zurvans were a symbol of the seasonal time and of the seasonal cycle where the lion was the sun's animal.. The lion's head also symbolized a burning away of the things of mortal and material genesis., to purify the soul in its celestial journeying. [6]  He goes on to state that the cult was a synthesis of Iranian religion and Greek learning promoted by a small group led by Ti. Claudius Balbillus, not the Hellenized Mazdean magi [7]

     It is true that the zodiacal signs appear between the coils of the zurvan's serpent that regularly encircle the god's body. [8]  Roman Mithraism, however, does not explicitly state or show that a new religion accompanies a new astrological age. Furthermore, a serious problem is that the Mithraic religion or cult is academic, an intellectual exercise. A world religion, if it is to inaugurate a new astrological age, is based on the teachings and/or actions of an historical figure. Judaism(and Christianity), on the other hand, definitely provide eschatological figures playing such a key role in history. There is no evidence that Roman Mithraism borrowed from Judaism. The 9th or 10th of Av, a Leo sign, does not find a role even well after 70 AD nor does any other Jewish eschatology. Beck's argument that the immediate pre-history of Roman Mithraism sees the Judean War as one of the gathering points of the sorts of players to found the cult can be safely discarded insofar as Judaism had any impact.

     Who then fused Mithraic precessional theory with Jewish messianic interpretation? It is open to question that the Essenes equate the "end of days" with the end of the astrological age. Perhaps what is meant is the end or particular stage of the political cycle similar to the one that was witnessed in the Greek city states. It is probable, however, that it was the magi who were successful both intellectually and experimentally-the age of Pisces begins with a figure born in Pisces. This would suggest that the magi were much more advanced than the Roman world in the art and science of astrology.

     The identity of the magi has been a long standing mystery, and the exact names will probably forever elude us. However, if we accept Pardo's thesis, we can make the following inferences: [9]

(1) by the standards of the day the magi were competent astrologers, astronomers, and mathematicians who lived in close proximity to each other.

(2) some or all of the magi were closely monitoring the movement of the planets since conjunctions are nonperiodic. To forecast accurately a single, let alone triple, conjunction requires abandoning geocentricity since the position of the Earth and the eccentricity of relevant planetary orbits must be known.

(3) the magi knew about precession and probably had access to data as accurate or more accurate than that of Hipparchus.

(4) the magi were familiar with Jewish prophecy and may have lived close to a Jewish community.

(5) some or all of the magi were familiar with the statistics of the poll tax. [10]

     Why now does a new world religion begin at or just before the emergence of a universal political state? Toynbee has pointed out that the dominant minority through establishing a universal state fails to establish a new "fancy religion". [11]  Rather, the internal proletariat through the pacific atmosphere of a universal state propagates from below a higher religion and a universal church. The universal state itself emerges from a time of troubles when often a democracy or republic must resort to inter alia civil war to settle any differences. [12]  The panacea for maintaining concord that a universal state brings eventually becomes a curse as an enlarged bureaucracy and the emergence of a caste undermine the society. The new religion provides the needed solace and "ethical" system.

     Out of seventeen "civilizations" that Toynbee identifies, starting after the development of primitive societies, we find three whose universal states begin contemporary with the dawn of a new astrological age. 7 BC is used for the marker for the start of Pisces and 2150 years for an age give or take 200 years.

Table 1: Toynbee's Universal States and Corresponding Religions

Name Time of Troubles Universal State Pax Oecumenica Religion
Sumeric 2522-2143 BC or 2458-2079 BC Sumer/Akkad Realm of 4 Qtrs. 2143-1750 BC or 2079-1686 BC Worship of Tammuz/Ishtar
Egyptiac 2425-2050 BC  Middle Kingdom New Empire 2050-1675 BC or 1580-1175 BC Worship of Osiris/Isis
Hellenic 431-31 BC Roman Empire 31 BC-378 AD Christianity / Mithraism / Isis Cybele / Manichaeism

     Adapted from A. J. Toynbee, A Study of History, Oxford U. Press, London 1954 vol 7, table 1-4, pp.769

      A few points deserve mentioning here. First, Toynbee argues that the Egyptiac adopted the worship of Osiris and Isis from the internal proletariat of Sumeric "civilization", while the worship of Tammuz and Ishtar arose in the Sumeric world from an indigenous internal proletariat. I believe this is correct but I do not agree that Judaism is a "fossil of an extinct Syriac civilization". Abraham lived in Sumer at c. the beginning of the Sumeric universal state if Biblical chronology is accurate. Second, a number of these religions can be eliminated not necessarily on the grounds of an inadequate mythology or theology. (After all, who can say that one theology is closer to the whole truth than another? Can an amoeba hope to understand superman?) They have no historical figures originally setting the suggested guidelines for speech and behavior. The worship of Tammuz/Ishtar and Osiris/Isis does not compare with the religion of Abraham/Isaac, and this also goes for Mithraism, Isis, and Cybele with respect to Christianity. Manichaeism is a contender, but its founder, Mani, was born in 216 AD-making him too much of a late comer in the Roman Empire.

     Given Judaism and Christianity, can we say anything about the Leo/Aquarius pair that must shortly appear in the now global village dominated by the Pax Americana? It has been argued that the account in chapter 27 and chapter 28 of the Acts of the Apostles is a metaphor for the development of religion, specifically that Castor represents the Pisces figure and Pollux the Leo figure. [13]  This argument becomes all the more convincing since from mythology we know Castor died from a spear wound inflicted by Idas. John 19:35 looks suspiciously as if a spear was never thrown at Christ, which therefore casts doubt on the complete veracity of St. John's gospel. If the Leo figure has no children, this would mean that Aquarius must be the father of the Leo. [14]

     The Dioscuri mythology is well known. The "twin brothers" alternately spend half the time beneath the earth and half in the golden halls of heaven. This would suggest that these two figures are complementary. Distinctive features are highlighted in table 2. Note that the "test" is a Zoroastrian pre-requisite to "salvation" and that the symbol for the Aquarian age is logical, but speculative.

     The Castor/Pollux pair or, to the chagrin of Maimonides, the Pisces/Leo combination fits nicely with the predominant Jewish thought of dyadic messianism. In fact, the rabbis saw a psychological link between the two figures but could not pinpoint it. That is as far as Jewish thought goes. It seems highly doubtful that even the Essenes saw any mystical significance in the number five or in the number fifty beyond their obvious Pythagorean meaning. [15]  Moreover, most Essenes as far as we know thought that the two messianic figures, in other words, the "star" and the "scepter", would be contemporaries. If there are two figures, Amos 9:11 suggests otherwise. The Ephraimite appears first. This may explain Acts 6:7--at least some of the Essenes may have joined the Christian church in anticipation of another messianic figure.

     We can infer then from chapter 28 in the Acts of the Apostles that the Three Taverns-historically a Roman meeting-place for travellers--refers to the Capricorn figure in some way. Metaphorically, the ship that takes St. Paul to Italy would also contain a flute-player. I will speculate that this flute player or more generally this artist also refers to the Capricorn figure. [16]

Table 2: Some Basic Differences Between Castor and Pollux

Astrological Sign Pisces Leo
Native Religion Jewish Christian
Mode of Teaching Narrating Writing
Test Physical Crucifixion Mental Crucifixion
Earning a Living? Carpenter?/Medicine? Philosophy/Science?
Educational Background Rabbinical Philosophical
Timing Post-millenial Pre-millenial
Appearance (hair, eye color etc.) complementary opposites complementary opposites
Symbol of the Age   

The overall argument so far can be summarized in the following three time lines with general dating.
Primitive Societies Sumeric/Egyptiac Hellenic Western/global village
c. 4000 BC c. 2000 BC c. 1 AD c. 2000 AD
Primitive Religion Judaism Christianity ?
Abraham/Isaac Mary/Christ ?
Castor (priest) Pollux (?)
Scorpio/Taurus Libra/Aries Virgo/Pisces Leo/Aquarius
Father/son Mother/son Son/father

     We could draw an analogy here to computer programming. Scorpio (the fall and paradise lost)/Taurus(the sacred cow) would represent the first generation religion while Cancer/Capricorn would represent the fifth. Obviously, there is a certain amount of overlap, including symbolic, in the transition just as many computer languages such as Fortran allow for inline coding.

Castor's Catharsis

     A religion to be revealed must have a revelation. I assume this is as true of the Capricorn age as it is of the Pisces age. Since our very existence impinges on Creation and since, given human predisposition, spiritual error is a necessary precondition for arriving at some kind of spiritual truth, a catharsis of conscience becomes imperative for absolution. The concept of this catharsis is very old. In Hittite religion, for example,

     confession is a sine qua non for attaining divine forgiveness. It figures no differently elsewhere in the the ancient Near East. Interestingly, the Koran alludes to repentance (Qur'an 42:25-26: 11:52). And the prophets themselves taught that repentance alone suffices to obliterate sin (whereas the priests insisted that sacrificial expiation is essential.). [17]  An excerpt from J. Milgrom puts it nicely: "...Racked by conscience over his actual and suspected sin, no man can help him for his pain is only known to himself. Not even God can come to his aid for he will not disclose his burden to heaven. ...if the prescribed restitution is inspired by his repentance his sin can be absolved and he need not suffer any more." [18]

     The concept of repentance which through a personality transformation more than likely leads to a change in behavior may explain why the ancient Oriental kings of the Near East performed the ritual of self-humiliation before the high priest at the advent of the Babylonian new year. The king ceremonially abdicated his office in the temple of Marduk. At the culmination of the ceremony he was divested of his regalia to be beaten and abused by the priest. The priest then sharply slapped the king's face again. If this forced tears it was taken as a good omen. Afterwards the king knelt humbly before the image of Marduk and disavowed all tyranny and injustice and abuse of his office. Conventional wisdom argues that this ceremony may have been designed to emphasize the king's dependence on the god. However, could not this self- humiliation contain a ritualized version of a catharsis of conscience?

     That Christ experienced a catharsis would explain some puzzling passages in the New Testament. First, it explains why both he and John the Baptist stressed repentance-the redeemer needs to be redeemed to redeem others.. Second, the curious water baptism that John employs may be symbolic of Christ's catharsis. Presumably, the use of oil was too expensive. Third, it explains Christ's response to Nicodemus' question. Finally, through the catharsis Christ may have discovered who his real biological father was. To have aroused such admiration from John the Baptist, Christ must have forgiven his parents, particularly his real father.

     It is quite possible that Christ discovered the identity of his father through overhearing a conversation. But this is unlikely since his parents would have put their social reputation in jeopardy. Alternatively, the hypothesized catharsis may have given rise to auditory hallucinations. [19]  He could then have retrieved the voices of his parents or close relatives from his early childhood, say, at Bethlehem or at Nazareth.. [20]  This is a distinct possibility, although his father may have had no intention of marrying his mother and thus of seeing her again. Moreover, Christ could not have traced his genealogy, if he ever did. Another possibility could be that he heard experiences from his previous lives, but then he could not have identified his father or, for that matter, his patrilineal descent. Finally, the auditory hallucinations could have involved the genetic transmission of auditory memory which would resolve all the issues. The problem is that modern genetics rules this out. Perhaps further genetic research here is required.

     What might the psychodynamics of such a catharsis entail? A catharsis is a "vigorous expression of feelings about repressed events". [21]  It is not the stimulation of feelings, but rather the uncovering of dormant feelings which is accomplished by relaxing psychological defenses. [22]  It provides emotional release which leads to reexamination and reintegration of formerly traumatic experiences. [23]  The traumatic experience here may have been the emotional suffering from the stigma of social background. The individual's intuition suggests not only individual guilt, but also the hopelessness of the human, particularly Semitic, mentality and condition. The conflict between what should be believed and done and what actually is believed and done comes to the conscious surface so that the individual realizes the pain of his error. A waking dream (Numbers 24:16) begins and possibly the hallucinations, the outcome of a subconscious "moral" conflict. The false divinity with which we are born is now emptied-the center of being shifts outward situating the self in a greater sense of Being. [24]

     The contents of the hallucination are likely to be associated with the underlying disturbance. Freud suggested that hallucinations, reflecting dominant psychological concerns, may express wishes which are unacceptable to the conscious mind. With the hallucination the new situation may indeed feel better than a previous painful internal and external reality, and in this sense may be like the dream or the fulfillment of a wish. The hallucinatory experiences themselves may have strong symbolic (paleologic) significance in relation to unresolved problems. These experiences, I argue, included Christ's discovery of the identity of his father. The process of disintegration and rebirth through symbolic experiences has occurred.

     Recovering from an experience such as the one I have hypothesized may have required the use of psychotropics and a doctor's bedside manner. Mandrake to help with sleeping was well known at the time. [25]  The bedside manner for the disturbed was also used at the time. In the middle of the 1st century BC Asclepiades, for example, invented ingenious devices to make things more comfortable for patients. A hundred kinds of baths, musical harmonies, and swaying beds were used as a sedative effect on disturbed patients. Asclepiades also objected to cells and dungeons-darkness excites terror, so patients should be kept in well lighted rooms. [26]

     Where Christ got the idea that the crucifixion would constitute his "test" will probably remain a mystery. It must have been revealed since it seems from the gospels he was sure this would usher in a "new heaven and a new earth"-and a new Jerusalem. It is true that Isaiah 53 and Zechariah give a general description of the "test". It is also true that Hosea 6:2 gives an assurance of resurrection an event sure to capture the attention of the human race for a very long time. But these passages alone would not be convincing enough for going through with such an ordeal, whatever may be said about the temptation. Christ may have been referred to a Greek "romance" or Jewish novella. [27]  But this seems doubtful since the information in such a book (including his "hidden hand") would have been common knowledge.

The Capricorn Figure

     From the discussion I will now summarize my "hunches" about the Capricorn figure. I am ruling out, of course, that most of the following could apply to the Cancer figure who could be either male or, more likely, female. The Cancer sign is normally described as feminine, vegetative, maternal and is associated with conception and fertility. [28]  Furthermore, the pattern of the past, although not written in stone, gives a higher probability for this scenario. ( In the Gemini/Sagittarius age, for example, Gemini could refer to the birth sign of both parents.) I am also ruling out the great unknown, that the story of the Earth shortly ends rather than continues in a long-term upward technological march.

1. He is born into the Leo religious tradition around the beginning of the Capricorn age, c. 3900 to 4400 AD.

2. At his birth there is or shortly will be a universal state. This means that he may not be born on Earth since we already have a global village.

3. He does not earn a living or make money off performing "miracles" or proselytizing, preaching, coercing or entertaining religion. (1 Kings 10:14; Revelation 13:18)

4. He has a catharsis of conscience, receiving the gift of religious insight.

5. He undergoes a "test" i.e. he "passes through the waters", perhaps confronting Typhon.

6. He has a natural talent for some form of the arts. He may spawn and inspire a colony of artists. He could be the flute player on board the penteconter of Isaiah 3:3.

7. He is associated in some way with the Three Taverns.

8. Mythologically, he is equated with Dionysius and/or Pan (and thus possibly Orpheus). The great Pan was reported none other than Christ himself . [29]  Furthermore, he had a son named Crotus who was enshrined as Sagittarius by the gods.

9. Capricorn may have something to do with the sea the action of which is a New Testament synonym for popular confusion and fickleness. Besides being the inventor of the shepherd's pipe, he is, after all, the sea goat whose fish's tail serves as a memento for the use of a conch shell against the Titans.

     It should be pointed out that even if these hunches were to come true the Capricorn figure with this information could not be located. For example, suppose we were to look for a Capricorn who is a male and the only Capricorn in a family; while the father or mother or both is (are) Cancer. With one child in the family the probability is 23/3456, with two children the probability is 253/20736, and with three children the probability is 2783/165888. There would simply be too many families for a unique identification. We need more clues which will presumably appear with the unfolding of history.

[1]  D. Pardo, "A Statistical Solution to the Star of Bethlehem Problem", Centre Universitaire de Recherche en Astrologie, C.U.R.A. website, « Text

[2]  Although there is no consensus on the exact date of the start and end of an astrological age, a suitable questionnaire and sampling frame with the use of the central limit theorem could give confidence intervals and point estimates. « Text

[3]  B. Lindgren, Statistical Theory, 3rd Edition, McMillan, New York 1962 pp. 363 « Text

[4]  D. Ulansey, The Origin of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World, Oxford U. Press, 1989 pp. 99 « Text

[5]  R. Beck, Planetary Gods and Planetary Orders in the Mysteries of Mithras, EJ Brill, New York, 1988 pp. 79-81 « Text

[6]  Ibid. pp. 60 « Text

[7]  R. Beck, "The Mysteries of Mithras, A New Account of their Genesis", Journal of Roman Studies, vol. 88, 1998 pp 115-128 « Text

[8]  See M. J. Vermaseren, Corpus Inscriptionum et Monumentorum Religionis Mithraicae, Martinus Nijhoff, 1956. See especially #545 and #860. « Text

[9]  D. Pardo, "A Statistical Solution to the Star of Bethlehem Problem", Centre Universitaire de Recherche en Astrologie, C.U.R.A. website, « Text

[10]  The Parthians, it is believed, had a poll tax for the working class at least. See M. Colledge, The Parthians, Thames and Hudson, London 1967 pp 72. Note that, given Pardo's thesis, the Roman poll tax was levied at the individual's place of residence, not at that of his or her birth. « Text

[11]  A. J. Toynbee, A Study of History, Oxford U. Press 1954 vol 7. « Text

[12]  It can be argued through an extension of 1 Kings 10:14 and Revelation 13:18 that the pleasure/pain principle (positive economics), particularly the strong egoist version, gives rise to the patterns of history that Toynbee finds. In mythological terms the angel of self-love is given charge of organization. « Text

[13]  D. Pardo, " The Common Heritage and the Future of World Religion" in C. Vella (ed.), The Maltese Islands on the Move, Central Office of Statistics, Malta 2000. « Text

[14]  The Leo figure's birthdate of the 9th or 10th of Av was predicted by a Jewish, not Christian person. The accepted legend specifically states that only one person would recognize the figure-an unknown Arab or Elijah. According to Christians, Elijah already came with John the Baptist. Out of modesty John the Baptist himself probably denied the claim that he was acting with the spirit of Elijah. « Text

[15]  A. Dupont Sommer, The Jewish Sect of Qumran and the Essenes, Valentin Mitchell and Co, 1954 (translator: RD Bennett) pp. 114-115 « Text

[16]  For a possible character study see A.J. Cronin, A Thing of Beauty, Little Brown Books, Boston, 1956 « Text

[17]  J. Milgrom, Cult and Conscience:the Asham and the Priestly Doctrine of Repentance, EJ Brill Leiden 1976 Pp 127 « Text

[18]  Ibid pp. 124 « Text

[19]  For a definition of hallucination see P. Shade and R. Bentall, Sensory Deception: A Scientific Analysis of Hallucination, Johns Hopkins U. Press, Baltimore, 1988 pp 23 « Text

[20]  Since the catharsis did not entail at the time any thought of a future crucifixion, fear and paranoid schizophrenia would not have been the logical outcome. « Text

[21]  R. Pierce, M. Nichols, J. Dubrin, Emotional Expression in Psychotherapy, Gardner Press, New York, 1983 pp. 4 « Text

[22]  Ibid pp. 29 « Text

[23]  Ibid pp. 238 « Text

[24]  A. Glucklich , Sacred Pain ,Oxford U. Press 2001 pp. 207 « Text

[25]  I. and W. Jacob, The Healing Past: Pharmaceuticals in the Biblical and Rabbinic World, EJ Brill, Leiden 1993 pp. 41 vol. 7 in Studies in Ancient Medicine, J. Scarborough (ed.) Other possible psychotropics include euphrosynum, rue, garlic, cotton seed and ebony persimmon. « Text

[26]  G. Zilboorg (with G. Henry), A History of Medical Psychology, Norton and Co., New York, 1941 pp. 63-64. « Text

[27]  Interestingly, in opening the New Great Year, the gospels themselves read like a Greek "romance" that celebrates all aspects of love. For example, the story contains inter alia the following relationships:

John the Baptist/Christ (relatives/love in their work and cause)
The disciple Christ loved/Mary (institution/individual and vice versa)
(In John 21, in the scene at the shore after the resurrection, the fish is clearly a reference to Christians, and I think the beloved disciple to the Church. The water represents baptism.)
Parents of Mary/Mary (parents' well intentioned marriage to Joseph)
Joseph/Mary (Joseph's compassion because of Christ)
Joseph/Mary and vice versa (a love that grows over time)
Disciples/Christ and vice versa (love for a teacher/students)
Disciples and Christ (friendship on an equal footing)
Mary Magdalene, Martha /Christ (secret infatuation/admiration)
Judas/Christ (love gone wrong)
Christ's brothers/Christ (somewhat distant)
Christ/father? (lost but found love)
Mary/Christ's father? (forgotten romantic love? A marriage in heaven)
Christ's uncles etc. (love unrecognized but comes through for the ministry)
The ones healed/Christ (how could this be in a world of such cruelty and insensitivity?)
Mary and Joseph/Christ (father-mother for son and vice versa)

God's love (the crucifixio)
the extras (awe)

And the opposite side:
Judas-greed directed by perverted reason
Schoolboys-insensitivity directed by emotional ignorance (his schoolmates taunt Christ because of his suspected illegitimacy)
The "elders" in charge-I won't rehash the point about organized religion and academia.
The politicians... « Text

[28]  H. Lloyd-Jones, Myths of the Zodiac, St. Martin's Press, 1978 pp. 63. « Text

[29]  Ibid. pp. 89 « Text

Note P.G.: On the use of "precessional ages", see my critics in "Astrology: The Manifesto", part 3, chapter 8.

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David A. Pardo: The Capricorn Figure (A Study in Subjective Probability)
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