R. Hakan Kırkoğlu
From Greek Stoics to Rumi: An Astrological Portrait My special interest on stoicism began few years ago while I was reading a book on ancient philosophies. As I am practicing more in traditional astrology, I paid more attention to Greek perception of life and wisdom. Here in this talk, after touching some essentials of Stoic philosophy and its relation with Astrology for us, I’ll go on with the mystical side of Islam, Sufism and especially more on Rumi, his teachings, drawing on crucial points in his astrological chart.
If we look at contemporary astrological arguments, we come across much emphasis on know yourself issues, or our place in cosmos while, in the mean time, we are also aware of the motto of we have the freedom of choice so we create our own future. Needless to say, our astrology puts strong emphasis on our Solar part, especially in the context of western civilization, our perception of life depends on more and more on being conscious of ourselves, our capacity to dominate our environment and self will. But in the same time, we struggle with this very question of freedom. How free are we, can we talk about on an absolute freedom and we go on further, we need also ask ourselves, what can we do with our freedom and how we find happiness in life, as the most desired state of being in our lives.
Happiness in life has been the major underlying factor of Stoic thinking of early Greek philosophies. The founder of this major philosophy is Zenon of Citium (a city in Cyprus now) The name of Stoicism derives from a Greek word, Stoa Poikile which means Painted Collonade, as Zenon giving his talks in this painted central square of Athens. Zenon’s central philosophy rests upon peace of mind and self sufficiency. The Stoics knows that the world is an organic entity and ordered throughout by the will of God, and that all that happens is part of a single plan. They also consider the Cosmos as a creator fire, (Pir Thecknicon) such fire is condensed in different ratios throughout the cosmos. Needless to say, the highest degree of this fire is the God, the Intellect. Itself.
According to ancient Greeks, the word of Physics, the science of material things, Physis in their language, can be translated as Nature as physis itself means growth then the way a thing grows and by extension the way a thing acts and behaves. In other words, it means the force that causes a thing to act and behave as it does. Thus each individual has its own physis or growing and behaving. In parallel to this kind of thinking, our fate, or our doings derive our physis which is in fact the part of the Nature, or God itself. Logos, the highest level of intelligence, derives from the Greek word of le gein, which also mean to manifest itself, unfoldment of creation. Thus, whole Nature is Logos and Logos is the divine being or God.
Ethically, Central to the Stoic system, a person in order to have a happy and peaceful mind, needs to act in accordance with his own nature, as a part of the whole Nature and such person is expected to behave by Virtue. Virtue was an absolute term, it was a state such that its possessor would always do what was right and, being right means to be in tune oneself and once he acquires reason which happens spontaneously by the age of fourteen, he begins to modify his primitive impulses, since reason is a gift of nature, this modification is also natural. Hence Man has to act in accordance this natural order and happiness can only attained by choosing this right action. The whole word is ruled by God and nothing in it happens without its being his will. So the good man will accept everything, knowing that that it’s not only alterable, since Fate determines all, but also the work of God, the perfect being. Seneca, Roman stoic philosopher suggests that God is benevolent so to resisting to him is folly, for nothing will prevent his will being done. One may go along with it in willing contentment or be carried kicking and groaning, in wickedness and misery. Such an acceptance of life, of all that happens will bring man peace of mind and protection against whatever he may suffer.
Seneca says the following:
Fate leads the willing, drags the recusant.
So if a man seeks happiness he is expected to live in agreement with nature. As nature is rational and directs him sometimes to accept what is contrary to his primary, that is undisciplined impulses.
Stoics’ proposition of acceptance of life and the philosophy of Sufism, as we’re going to study hereafter has so parallels that we can find many similarities between them. The movement we know as Sufism began as a confluence of ascetic exercises, sharing much in common with Christian monasticism in Syria and Gnostic attitudes toward the material world, and of mystical speculation fed by probably be Buddhist, Zoroastrian and Hindu theosophical teachings. In Christian and Sufi mysticism the distance to God is overcome by an intense unitive relationship with God. Sufism entails a pious orientation toward religion, privileging the spiritual over the material, self-renunciation exercises and other forms of discipline as a mean to approach God. Practitioners of a personal devotional approach to God were called at different times and places zahed (ascete) darvish (poor man) salek (sojourner on the spiritual path) aref (gnostic and Sufi).
The word “Sufi” has been explained variously as a borrowing from Greek sophia (wisdom); a derivative of the word soffe, or stone bench outside the mosque at Medina, where certain ascetic-minded companions of the Prophet Mohammed used to sit, or as a reference to the wearing of shirts or cloaks of wool (suf) by early Islamic ascetics. This explanation seems the most likely source of the word, as Sufism was early on associated with the self-renunciation practiced in the hermitages of the Syrian desert.
Many Sufis came from the class of the ulema, religious scholars by training who had developed a mystical or interior spirituality. They concentrated on a person’s inner attitude and orientation, in contradictory to conventions. Form the twelfth century, onward, many Sufis would study the religious sciences in a Sufi lodger or cloister ( zavie). Here they might also learn the lwa (feqh). The members of a Sufi lodge did not, generally speaking, folloe as rigorous a course of study as in the legal colleges and were sometimes criticized for their false claims to religious knowledge.
By subduing his soul (nafs-e ammare) the Sufi could so purify his immortal spirit (ruh) from the pollution of worldly desires that his own personality could be absorbed in the spirit of God. Western scholars have commonly described this state, fana, as annihilation of the self, but the term refers not to an annihilation of the individual consciousness, as in the Buddhist concept of nirvana. The Sufis concerned themselves with an intuitive and experiential knowing of God, which is called marifet. Marifet is achieved not by studying the law but by loving God.
Rumi, the most well known Sufi poet in the western world says:
not in learning not in knowledge not in pages and pamphlets….
You see, so long as you long you idolize longing; but become the beloved and no being longs The incessant hopes and fears of the sea faring man float upon planks but obliterate both planks and seaman and only submersion remains…..
One of the disciplines or modes of worship that spiritual masters would prescribe for their students was the meditative repetition or chanting of certain formulas or mantras, which is called zikr. Each teacher or order might have a particular zikr or mantra, which he taught to all his disciples.
The sema ceremony consisted in listening to music or even dancing, a congregational activity held usually in the lodge. The Sufis undertake sema only after years of spiritual poverty, fasting and retreats when he attained a certain state of mystic development. In sema, this mystic state intensifies, for the goal is a closer approach to God.
Before studying Rumi’s chart as an astrological description of Sufism, here, I would like to give some biographical notes about his life.
Although there several different references, Mevlana Jalaluddin Muhammed was born in September 30, 1207 in the city of Belh, currently in Afghanistan. In those days it was a centre for many sciences before being invaded by Moguls. It was famous for its mosques, universities and palaces. It was a capitol on the road of silk, economically developed and full of businessman. From an early age, hid father apparently called him Jalal al-Din, meaning “The splendor of the Faith. The name Rumi, as he is known in the West, is a geographically given name, as he lived in Anatolia, in Turkey, but was then considered, from the Islamic point of view, Rome. The Anatolian peninsula, which had belonged to the Byzantine or eastern Roman Empire. And it was still known to Arabs, Persians and Turks as the geographical area of Rum.
Rumi’s father is known as Bahaeddin Veled. The people of the city of Belh, which was a center for science and gnosis at that time, were showing great love and respect to Bahaeddin Veled. It is not clearly known when Bahaeddin Veled migrated from Belh due to Mogul raids. . He left Belh taking with him his closest disciples, deputies and family. He came to Konya upon Seljukian Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad’s sending a messenger to invite him after spending some time in different places in Anatolia. Rumi was 21 years old when they migrated.
Rumi lost his father in 1231 when he was 27 with a feeling a big emptiness inside. That is because he had lost not only a father. But he had lost a sheik, a spiritual guide as well. Then he became the disciple of Seyyid Burhaneddin and he started to regularly recite the prayers and praises of the Kubreviyye order taught to him by his sheik. First, Seyyid locked him to a room for forty days and had Rumi perform halvet (reclusion). Although Rumi had learned a lot of things from his father and teacher Sultanu’l-Ulema Seyyid Burhaneddin Tirmizi advised him to go to Haleb and Damascus to enhance his knowledge of the religion and the Law and following this order of his sheik Rumi went to Haleb with a few dervish friends of his. When Rumi came back to Anatolia he first went to Kayseri and visited his sheik Seyyid Burhaneddin. From there they went back to Konya together. Burhaneddin passed away within the years they came back.
Rumi was lecturing in the Medrese (university), holding conversations with those seeking the truth, answering their questions, and on the other hand, he was guiding the lovers of God and warning them. This way Rumi became the sultan of scholars in the religious sciences and other sciences, like his father, and he also became the sultan of Gnostics in the area of Sufism.
It was right around this time that an event occurred that was going to cause a big change in Rumi’s life. Shemseddin of Tebriz came to Konya. This poor person that came, Shems of Tebriz, enraptured Rumi, a great scholar busy with his lectures, a cautious great Sufi and spiritual guide. He made him into an ardent lover of God.
The meeting of Rumi and Shems turned into a divine love, one cannot claim superiority between them or emphasize a difference by saying who became whose spiritual guide, or who became whose disciple. I became you and you became I. I became the flesh and you became the soul. After this nobody can claim I am separate and you are separate. The fact that these two great saints met, loved each other as true friends of God and were continuously spending time together was not being received well by those around them. Rumi’s students, disciples, notable imams and religious men, even members of his own family were hating Shems because they couldn’t see and sense the truth, love and power of faith in Shems who had such an influence on Rumi.
He was prohibiting Rumi from reflecting on the books who was most of the time reading books in the meeting hall of the university.He was letting not everybody to see him. Sitting at the gate of the university, to those who came to see Rumi he was asking: What did you bring as a gift of plead and gratefulness? Show me that and I shall show you Rumi. When one day someone got angry with this strange man and said: What did you bring so that we also need to bring something? Shems replied: I brought myself, I sacrificed my head for his sake.
When Shems saw that things are getting out of control and all people are turning against him he suddenly vanished one day. Shems left Konya February 15, 1246. When Shems came back to Konya, Grudge and hate surfaced once more. Rumours against Shems started again. Lies and instigations soon followed and got out of control. This time the instigation was more intense. He had no power to stand against the insults and threats. His attachment to Rumi and the truth he sees in him was keeping him alive. His caution to Sultan Veled on a few occasion that This time when I leave, I will leave in such a way that nobody will find my trace. I will vanish such that time will pass and even the dust of my trace will not be found. They will say: ‘Definitely an enemy of his must have killed him. was realized. On a Thursday of December 1246 Shems disappeared.
Rumi was whirling day and night after his disapperance and his crying was heard young and old by all. Whatever gold and silver he received he would give them to the musicians and he would give everything to charity. Rumi gave up hope after he failed to find Shems in spite of all his searches. He also had heard the rumours about his murder. Now Rumi gave up hope of finding Shems alive and stopped looking for him. He understood that he wouldn’t be able to find Shems neither in Damascus nor elsewhere, and as Sultan Veled put it, he found him in his heart. He had found him but his eyes were still looking for a friend of heart like Shems. Although his family, sons, friends, students and disciples surrounded Rumi he was feeling this emptiness feeling inside and he was feeling alone.
Surely the greatest friend of human beings is Allah. Doesn’t He say: Wherever you are I am with you.(57/4) ? Rumi expresses this truth in one of his poems as follows:There is someone hidden here. Don’t think that You are alone.
But Rumi was in need of a friend of God, a mirror of spirit and a horizon of spirit like Shems who would share this feeling and let him sense what was in him.
Later on, Rumi would enchant of this issue of mirror of spirit in the passage starting with the verse 96 of the second volume of Mesnevi as follows: The mirror of spirit is none but the face of the Beloved. That face of the Beloved that it is from another world. It is from the world of truth. It is blessed with the manifestation of God.
When your eye became an eye to my heart, the heart that doesn’t see the truth starts to see the truth and effaces itself in it.
I saw you as an eternal and universal mirror. I observed my figure and my true appearance in your eye.Finally I told to myself: ‘I set off on a luminous path in his two eyes and discovered the truth.’My figure, my reflection, cried out from your eye: ‘I became you and you became I. There is unity between us. There is no separation.’ After Shems, Rumi’s friend of heart, mirror of spirit became Selahaddin of Konya. Rumi escaped spiritual loneliness with this companion and friend of heart. He found peace and tranquillity. After Selahaddin passed away Chelebi Husameddin became the companion and deputy to Rumi. Rumi began to write Mesnevi during this time, beginning 1262. The writing of Mesnevi was continuing till the morning at some night. Chelebi kept on writing in joy and enthusiasm without getting tired or bored. The spiritual joy and excitement Rumi felt during dictation would let him forget his tiredness. My rectification of Rumi’s birth chart depends on the major dates of lives given in his biography and I solely used the date of 30 September 1207 NS, Belh and found 05:38 am is the most representative of his life. In doing this study, I did not only used the angles and major transits for certain events but also took into account the fixed stars on his chart. Although we cannot verify this hour, I also contacted his family members living in Istanbul and they were unable able to offer any suggestion on the hour issue. The dates that I studied are 1) Rumi’s meeting with Shems on 16 October 1244 2) Shems departure 8 February 1246 3) Shems’ arrival 1 May 1247 4) Shems dissapearence 15 Dec 1247 5) Rumi’s death 10 December 1273
If we follow this dates and cast a chart for 30 Sep 1207, we come across Sun-Neptune opposition meanwhile we cannot deny that relationships had huge impact on his life as well as his fathers presence. These are all echoes of a religious scholar father and it would be reasonable to put the Sun in the first house. Furthermore, the Fortune in Libra in the first house in conjunct with the Sun reflects his lot or fate through relationship and father’s role again. Moreover, Venus in Scorpio truly describes his passion in relationships along with her partil aversion with Neptune, too.
Before listing major transits and progressions for certain dates, for 05:38 we also find Sirius on the MC and also as the star on the angle with Vega. The fixed star Sirius, in a way, wholly represents his life theme but also the concept of burning. This is the star called as the fire of immortality and the individual under this influence sacrificed to the collective and gain fame and glory. It’s a blast of energy that can “burn” Furthermore, Vega was also the star on angle at this birth hour and Vega denotes charisma and strong influence on others. Bernadette Btady says that Vega is the gift of a great mystique. For some people, this will be fulfilled by religious practices while for others it will be expressed in arts and music, all were present in his life.
I am not going to display the whole study of my rectification here but, only say that meeting with Shems coincided with Saturn’s crossing over his Ascendant degree and his disappearance with transiting Neptune over his MC, which also conjunct with Sirius as projected on ecliptic.
Instead now we can now study the major astrological themes on this chart. Neptune on the 7th house opposing both lights (Nep=Sun/Moon) in aversion to Venus Liz Greene says the following for the person whose Neptune in the 7th house in her Neptune book, “When Neptune appears in the 7th house, the dream Paradise becomes the vision of perfect union, in which the individual can be contained, nourished and unconditionally loved forever...... The individual who seeks redemption in the arms of another may also play the lover, cheerfully breaking up other people’s relationships in the name of “saving” the poor man or woman who is trapped with such a terrible partner....with Neptune in the 7th, we need to experience its longings, aspirations and magic through others”
As Neptune represents us the ultimate love and devotion in the largest sense, it is the only planet closely related with the “fana” concept of Sufism. Through the act of Fana we become melted, annihilate our ego consciousness in order to merge with the God. Fana means to salvage from the boundaries of intellectual boundaries so that we can only get rid of narrow Iness merging with the universal One. In Rumi’s chart Neptune is not only posited in the 7th house but also in direct opposition with the lights. In his fourth harmonic chart, the fourth harmonic stands for the manifestation and one’s struggle with environment; Neptune is also conjunct with the MC, which represent the one’s aspirations in the largest context. Neptune’s opposition is the major reflection point of experience of annihilation through others, which perfectly fits well for Shems in his life. Furthermore, Neptune, being the signifier of universal love, also sits in aversion with Love principle in mundane terms, which is Venus in Scorpio. Aversions are like blood feuds, a constant battle with no clear victory. Hence we also come across his life long suffering through love.
No fire in the chart Lacking of fire in a natal chart strongly suggests us one’s necessary longing for the self-assurance and satisfying this need with others who apparently seems to posses such quality. Thus, Rumi’s fascination with Shems’ wisdom, his sense of dependence on him also stems from his strong need of this creative fire, enabling him to feel integrated with the One. It’s also interesting to note that in a sufi saying Love is fire, annihilation of self with fire before the God is openly, passionately longed for.
Part of religion conj with Fortune Part of fortune, shows one’s lot, one’s moira, one’s given fate in the general sense. It’s not surprising to find that Rumi’s fate is closely interwoven with religion. Moreover, his fourth house, the place which depicts the ancestors, the father and the roots, is Capricorn and Saturn, being the another father significator, is posited in the house religion, in the 9th house. His father was a religious scholar and immense power on his destiny, Sun also being in the 1st house. MC Cancer, strong family influence Furthermore, Cancer in the 10th house as well, emphasize his family background over his destination. Cancer also here signifies his nurturing, protective attitude toward humankind.
Jupiter exalted in the 10th house, Saturn Chiron contact in the 9th Moreover, Jupiter being the most elevated planet in his 10th house, gives him the exaltation of a religious leader, a person possessing the best qualities of Jupiter, wisdom and tolerance in Cancer.
Pluto in the 11th his efforts in group making and social values Rumi’s Pluto in the 11th house shows his struggle and transformation through associations, the groups that gathering around him. In a sextile aspect with the Sun in the 1st house, this position put him in a role of social reformer and advocate for change for the illnesses of society in which he lives.
South node partile conj with Uranus, north node in Aquarius Along with Pluto, Uranus is also in the 11th house and partilly conjunct with the south lunar node. It’s striking to note that north node here in Aquarius symbolize his future to become a world benefactor through love in the 5th house. He’s not only a religious, a pious man but also a man of social change, brotherhood and ideals dictating his innermost longings to others. Hence Uranus here, also alert us that in his soul journey he had already endowed with Uranian spirit and reformation.
Star parans, heliacal rising setting and others Finally, I’m going to consider notable fixed star positions in his chart. On the day, he was born in Balkh in Afghanistan, Canopus was the heliacal rising star which shows the qualities given him as a gift, his ancestral genetic background. This star is considered as a treasure which is given by our ancestors. Being in a powerful state, Canopus represents his skills of leadership, a pathfinder, courage to take new paths and break new ground in life.
His heliacal setting star is Scheat and setting star can be seen as a marker for future, one’s spritual calling in life. This star represents the goals to reach for, vocations that motivate us. The fixed star Scheat represents the love of intellect and need to break from conventional thinking. This star always present in the charts of thinkers, philosophers and persons with deeply occupied with mental activities. Hence Rumi’s education, using his skills of knowledge seems to play very crucial role in his vocation and he is called for deep thinking.
Sirius and Vega, too were on the angles for the chart that I rectified. As we already touched, Sirius is the star, respected by Egyptians, called the Shining One. It was linked to the life-giving rising of the Nile, and is a marker of great deeds. It indicates mundane become sacred and individual may be sacrificed to the collective. Such a powerful star may burn people and give them prominence through this burning.
Vega which is situated in the constellation of Lyra, is connected with magic and divine spells. It bestows charisma and talks about the one touched by the other world. This is also star of music and we find the ecstasy and magical side of music in Rumi’s poems along with Sema ceremony in which spiritual dance played with whirling dervishes.
In his star parans which is related his prime, culminating star parans, we come across many other celestial signatures. He has Mercury-Betelgeuse, Moon-Canopus, Mercury Phact and Saturn-Spika paran relationships. Betelgeuse gives mental clarity and creativity whereas Phact is dealt with original and lateral thinking and seeking unknown mysteries. Saturn-Spika stands for becoming intellectual founder of idea, a prime mover in self-knowledge and gaining insight. Moon-Canopus is linked with a desire presenting new philosophies. Canopus is a star of strong leadership, and the courage to take new paths. Moon-Canopus connection reflects his leadership in terms of soul matters, of well being of others. Finally, Vindemiatrix seems to be a summation of all these creative efforts. This star is linked to his chart by Nadir paran hence shows the cornerstone of his all life. Vindemiatrix which means the grape-gatherer is the collector of people, and Sun-Vindemiatrix relations highlights his power of calling as a creative force and life path. He seems like a father figure, welcoming everyone.
I would like to end up this talk again by Rumi’s sayings: Come, come again, whoever you are, come! Heathen, fire worshipper or idolatrous, come! Come even if you broke your penitence a hundred times, Ours is the portal of hope, come as you are.
Sufism & Rumi and The Stoicism William Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, Suny, State University of New York, 1989 Franklin Lewis, Rumi: Past and Present, East and West, The Life, Teachings and Poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi, Oneworld, 2000 Juliet Mabey, Rumi: A Spiritual Treasury, compilation, Oneworld, 2000 Erkan Turkmen, The Essence of Rumi’s Masnevi, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Turkey, Cultures series, 2002 F. H. Sandbach, The Stoics, Bristol Classical Press, 2001 Macit Gokberk, Felsefe Tarihi, Remzi Kitabevi, 2003
Astrology: Liz Greene, The Astrological Neptune and the Quest for Redemption, Weiser, 1996 Bernadette Brady, The Book of Fixed Stars, Weiser, 1998 R. Hakan Kirkoglu, Goklerin Bilgeliği, 2005, Dogan Kitap Software for star parans Starlight V 1.02.1, Barnswood Ltd and Bernadette Brady
Rectified chart of Rumi Data: 30 Sep 1207 NS, 05:38, Balkh, Afghanistan, 36 N 46, 66E54 Asc 2 13 Libra, MC 2 28 Cancer, Sun 6 16 Libra, Moon 29 50 Virgo