A Journey Into Astrology, The Sabian Symbols And Self-Awareness
By Lynda Hill QA (Pract.Cert FAA)
I originally came across the Sabian Symbols in the late ‘80’s. I found them fascinating and very telling about a person’s life and indeed their destiny. I used them here and there in my work and found them to be extraordinary in painting the stories that we live out. Then something happened; I came face to face with the thing that was my true mission – to teach people about the Sabian Symbols.
My Special Mission
The process of investigating the Symbols was kick started when something extraordinary happened on my birthday in 1992. A clairvoyant friend of mine, Georgina, gave me a spontaneous reading. She told me that I had a mission to spread the word of something “special” in astrology. She said I would be invited to speak at conferences in Australia and all around the world, but particularly in the United States. I had no idea what I would specialize in, it all seemed like a weird promise that seemed impossible to fulfill. My instant response was, “Sure, Georgina, except when I stand up in front of a crowd to speak, I turn to jelly. I even cried once.” I didn’t feel filled with confidence on any level to do what she was saying I’d do. She continued, saying that I’d write books, one of which would be a big success. I would become known for teaching something special and I would gain the respect of my peers. I remember her words when I protested that I had nothing special to lecture or write about: “Well, I’m just telling you what I’m seeing.”
The Quest Started to Unfold
Despite my reluctance, at first, to admit it, the things that Georgina told me resonated with my inner being. Two weeks later, in my office, I decided to “ask” for what she’d said was going to happen. I sat in my office, centered myself and in a quiet moment stated what I wanted, holding the thought for a moment or two. I asked for something “special” to contribute to astrology, for the ability to be able to lecture and write, to have books published, for the respect of my peers and to be able to travel with my work. Soon after, I picked up a copy of Dane Rudhyar’s brilliant 1973 book on the Sabian Symbols ‘An Astrological Mandala’, and within two weeks of asking for the things Georgina had foretold, I was almost tearing around the house like a woman possessed – researching and writing about the Symbols day and night.
Within the next month I gave a lecture for the first time in my life: two lectures in Sydney, Australia. Then, 5 months later, at the invitation of Ray Merriman, I delivered my first talk to an American audience at the Aquarian Revelation Conference in Lansing, Michigan. I also spoke on a panel at that conference in front of some three hundred people at the invitation and blessing of one of astrology’s brightest stars, Alan Oken.
In the thirteen or so years since then, I have given lectures, workshops and readings in the United States, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Holland, South Africa, Russia, New Zealand and Australia. At the time of writing this, I’ve completed 22 lecture tours of the United States and three world tours. My book, 360 Degrees of Wisdom: Charting Your Destiny With the Sabian Oracle, has been published by Penguin NY (Plume division) and is published in Japanese by Sony Japan, and in Polish by Studio Astropsychologii.
I have always been a traveler and an observer. From my early twenties onward, it seemed I was always getting on and off planes. To date, I have traveled to more than 80 countries – many of them many, many times. I now regularly travel the world lecturing and consulting. My articles are published in magazines and journals worldwide. As I’ve said, I would not have thought this possible, never having lectured or written, but now I can look back on my life’s journey and see the unfolding of this inevitable path.
My Journey Through the Middle East
I can now see that for more than thirty years I have been involved in a quest that has taken me all over the world and touched me with the wisdom of civilisations’ past and present and I feel I have been guided and driven even from the early years of my life.
It really all began for me at the age of 22, some nine years before I really started the study of astrology. I felt compelled to travel to the middle east, to walk on the soil there and breathe the air. For a 22 year old, in 1976, this was not the usual case! I felt particularly drawn to Iraq, Turkey and Jordan. In fact, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to marry the man I was engaged to unless I got the bug to go to Iraq out of my system.
In March, 1976, after a hair-raising 36 hour trip on a Pan Am plane, I arrived in Tehran, by myself, to meet up with a bus tour that would take me through the Middle East; through Iran to Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Israel, Turkey and then through Europe to London. The tour was an “overland expedition” that drew the young, alternative-minded travelers of the day. We were told we were the second bus to be given permission to travel through Iraq after the borders opened up. I joined 36 Australian, British, New Zealand and U.S. nationals and careened off through the lands of Iran and Iraq. I found myself, 22 years old, in the cradle of civilization: Baghdad, Babylon, Ur, Ctesiphon, the fields of Lawrence of Arabia, Petra, Aqaba, Jerusalem, etc, relishing the atmosphere and wondering, at times, what I was doing there. The trip left an indelible impression on me. Several times in the years after the trip, I remember saying the words that I had “photographs of the people of Iraq in my photo album, and pictures of them in my heart”. When I’d say this, I’d silently wonder why I felt that emotion so strongly.
The Life I Left Behind
On the very day that I boarded the plane for this region, transiting Pluto was exactly conjunct my Mars. This can be a very explosive, challenging, transformational but also rewarding period. As this transit was in my 10th house of status and career, the effects can be the death of the old self and the birth of a whole new way of being in the world. I was engaged to a chiropractic student when I planned this trip. I was going to return from the middle east (having gotten the travel out of my veins), marry him and become a chiropractor’s wife and settle down.
However, Pluto transits can have very different ideas in store for us. They will often force a confrontation with our truth. They can plunge us into emotional turmoil and bring us face to face with extreme difficulties. One can feel exposed, naked and stripped bare of one’s power base.
When I flew off to the Middle East, the relationship with my fiancée broke down and I was reasonably devastated – now I had lost the man I loved and I felt I no longer had a “tangible” future.
There is, however, always buried treasure inherent in Pluto transits, and the rewards I found certainly outweighed the difficulties.
Pluto forces us to confront our dark side and take on our own personal power. We are often pushed and pushed to the limit when Pluto strongly influences our chart, forced to look at our fears of death, fears of our own potency and what could happen if we really unleashed it. We are motivated to either change or be eaten up by this archetype. I flew off to the Middle East with little understanding of the energies involved – I had some hair-raising adventures, to say the least.
On this trip, in 1976, I arrived in Teheran, Iran, alone, to meet up with the bus tour. I had to spend 4 days in Teheran by myself, waiting for the bus to arrive. I stayed at the Amir Kabir hotel – a place nicknamed ‘the arsehole of the earth’. The toilets were on the mezzanine level that overlooked the restaurant below. The toilets were filthy and most didn’t have doors. The hotel was filled with all sorts of travelers, quite a few of them hard-core drug users. I remember the specter of a few junkies that looked near death as they sat in the restaurant, and the smell of the toilets upstairs. Pan Am lost my luggage, I had no change of clothes, and I got dysentery the instant I arrived from drinking orange juice that I bought from a vendor on the street. I shared a room with 2 girls – one from Melbourne, Australia, the other from Denmark – who thought they were entertaining me with stories of sex with truck drivers as they hitchhiked across Afghanistan. All through this, I was mourning the loss of my relationship. Finally, after four days, my luggage was delivered to me and the Capricorn overland bus arrived and I and 36 others careened off through the lands of Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Austria, Germany, etc.
In amongst experiences ranging from the wonderful to the bizarre to downright frightening, I really enjoyed the people and the countryside of Iran, Iraq and Jordan. Cities like Isfahan, Babylon, Baghdad, Ur, Ctesiphon, Petra, Aqaba, etc. I relished the atmosphere of this most ancient and fascinating part of the world – and really wondered, at times, what I was doing there. Years later I’m still finding out.
The Cradle of Civilization
The whole Sabian Symbol story is embedded in the ancient cultures of the Middle East. Indeed, this is the area from which most of modern astrology arose. Marc Edmund Jones, the American spiritualist and astrologer who gave birth to the Sabian Symbols with the fabulous clairvoyant spiritualist medium Elsie Wheeler, felt there was an unseen agency at work in the birthing of the Symbols. He wrote in his 1953 book, The Sabian Symbols In Astrology, ‘The whole Sabian enterprise… has been primarily a species of tapping back into early Mesopotamian and allied roots’ Jones was referring to the ancient Mesopotamian brotherhood, the Sabians. He believed that they were the “ancient mind-matrix” that came through the clairvoyant Elsie Wheeler and was behind the channeling of the Symbols.
The Sabians were alchemists who lived throughout Mesopotamia, but had their major center in Harran, a city on the banks of the Euphrates river in Mesopotamia (now south eastern Turkey). Harran existed from the third millennium BC to the thirteenth century AD. It was a centre of trade for metals but was also the repository for the philosophy of the ancient Chaldeans, who were among the founders of astrology. The Sabian people maintained and developed the tradition of Chaldean astrology, when it had been obliterated elsewhere. Their rather sophisticated system of alchemy linked the 7 planets (as were known then) with metals, colours and numbers. The last temple to their old religion left standing was a moon temple, destroyed by the Tartars in AD 1032. The sect itself disappeared during the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century, when its water supply was diverted to a neighbouring town, ending its long and wonderful history.
Fast forward to May 1993 at the Aquarian Revelation Conference in Lansing, Michigan. I was at lunch after giving my first lecture in the United States (and only my third lecture ever) and Michael Lutin – a fabulous astrologer from New York – asked me to describe the 1st degree of Scorpio to him. I don’t know whether it was talent, luck or fate; I happened to know that Symbol well.
Scorpio 1: ‘Tourists on a Sight-Seeing Bus’. I said that ‘the tourists knew where they were going, but they didn’t know what it looked like. They had maps and a guide, but it was a brand new experience for them – they didn’t really know what it was like where they were going. There was a feeling of being cocooned, but there was also the feeling of being an observer and being observed, sort of like a gold-fish bowl, which can lead to a sense of alienation. Pictures and souvenirs of the journey would be sought out’. Michael was gob smacked. I’d just unknowingly described the exact scenario he had in his head; he’d put on a fabulous stage show, The Alien Follies, at an enormous astrology conference (the United Astrology Congress – UAC), in Washington D.C., in 1991, about aliens coming from outer space on a friendly visit to earth. Each day before the show, some 1,600 people at the conference would receive a map of where the aliens were on their journey and where to find them when they landed (the time, date and venue of the show). His immediate reaction was to invite me to speak at a conference in New York, to be held the following year. Suddenly, I knew that, within 12 months, I would be off to the States again.
I sometimes think back to my travels (which was definitely a bunch of tourists on a sight-seeing bus) and what the purpose really was. In that journey through the Middle East there was an extraordinary occurrence. I went to Petra in Jordan in March 1976 and sat in the amphitheatre. I felt so familiar with the territory, so at home that I was moved to say `thanks’. I had never particularly felt at home anywhere – I went to eleven different schools, and had a disruptive childhood, moving all around the city of Sydney, Australia. Although I was a foreigner, sitting in Petra, I felt as if I had lived there before; as if I had ‘returned’, somehow. This was definitely strange for a 22 year old like me.
The Pennies Keep Dropping
In 1995, Robert Zoller, a medieval astrology scholar who translates ancient Latin astrological texts into English, was my tour guide around New York. I spoke of my fascination with the Middle East and particularly Petra. We were walking along the street when he pointed out that the Sabian alchemists’ ancestors were the Nabateans, the people who founded the city of Petra, the place where I’d thanked God for bringing me home. This aroused feelings in me that defy words or logic. How extraordinary in the light of the fact that some 19 years before, Petra had felt so amazingly familiar!
Life’s an Amazing Journey
These kinds of synchronicities really do defy words. It’s an amazing journey, this journey we’re on! Life is more amazing than we know and the Sabian Symbols are there to help us realize its magic and mystery.
I found buried treasure and I’m still finding it and helping my clients on their journeys of discovery into self-awareness. I do astrology consultations that focus on the path of the individual. Where is she/he going? What is the journey of the life? What and when are the pitfalls? These, amongst many other things, astrology and the Sabian Symbols can help us to discover. It’s a great journey.
Every step of the way I’ve felt guided and supported by people who seem to be always turning up at the right moment.
Avalon, Sydney, Australia
From The Omens of Babylon: Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia – Michael Baigent, Penguin Arkana, 1994.
The Sabian Symbols in Astrology – Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, Aurora Press, 1993