The Astrological Black Sun

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The astrological Black Sun is not a physical body, but a mathematically defined point in space. Since the paths of the planets around our sun are elliptical rather than circular, each orbit has not a single center, but two foci. The Flash graphic below demonstrates this principle.

The first graphic shows a circle,defined as having a constant radius. The second graphic shows an ellipse with its two foci. In this case the sum of the lengths of the two lines extending from the foci to the rotating point on the ellipse is constant. Circles can be considered special cases of the ellipse, where the distance between the two foci is zero.

In the case of a planet orbiting the sun in an elliptical orbit, the sun usually occupies one of the foci of the planet's orbit. The second focus is an empty point in space. This empty focus is known as the "black sun" of that planet's orbit. There is also a "black moon" (although it should really be called the "black earth") defined as the second focus of the Moon's orbit around the earth. The black suns of earth and the planets within its orbit are very close to the sun itself -- so close that it is difficult to use them for any astrological purpose. The black sun for the orbit of Venus is actually inside the sun; since the orbit of Venus is very nearly a circle, the distance between the foci of its orbit is less than the radius of the sun.

The black sun for Saturn's orbit is the first black sun that is outside earth orbit. It lies approximately 162 million kilometers from the center of the sun, whereas the earth orbits at a mean distance of 149 million kilometers. The black suns for Mars and Jupiter may be useful for astrological purposes, but they are both very near the orbit of Mercury, and therefore always lie within a fairly small fixed range from the sun, considered from a geocentric position. The black sun for Saturn is the one whose positions are given in the ephemeris.

It can be misleading to calculate black suns for the planets beyond Saturn. This is because the sun is not really at one of the foci of these planets' orbits. Instead, because they move so slowly, they tend to orbit the center of mass of the solar system, which is known as the barycenter. This is especially troublesome for Neptune's orbit.

The decision to use the black sun of Saturn as the primary Black Sun was arrived at through astrological considerations and symbolic association. First, as a symbolic counterpoint to the Sun of light, it is desirable that the Black Sun should be able to enter into any of the possible tranditional astrological aspects with it. This is only possible if the Black Sun is placed outside earth orbit. This placement results in a rather odd zodiacal movement; this will be covered in more detail below.

The association between Saturn and the Black Sun as an alchemical and occult symbol is traditional. In alchemy, the Black Sun represents the nigredo stage of the alchemical operation, the stage of calcination or blackening of the first matter by burning. The color black has been associated with Saturn since ancient times, and is not merely a feature found in contemporary Western Occultism. "Clothed in Black" is one of the epithets of Saturn in Vedic scripture. Also, we find the crow or raven and the death's head (the totenkopf or skull and crossbones) associated with the nigredo stage of the alchemical operation, and in Vedic texts, Saturn is described as riding a crow and carrying a skull. Finally, another of the epithets of Saturn in ancient astrology is "Great Lord Dark Sun" and "Son of the Sun." In these symbols, the Black Sun is conflated with Saturn himself.

Mystic and psychoanalyst Carl Jung wrote about the Black Sun or Sol Niger as it pertained to psychology in his alchemical works. The psychiatrist and pioneering LSD therapist Stanislav Grof relates an anecdote of a client who spontaneously experienced a vision of the Black Sun during a session of holotropic breathing. He subsequently associated the symbol with the "core self" of the client, the hidden radiance underlying the "manifest sun" or ego. The alchemist Jean Dubuis, in a lecture before the Philosophers of Nature stated that "this black sun of Saturn is the one that emits all the mystical influences of Saturn. And at that time chances of contact with eternity are maximum." This is the meaning behind Crowley's reference in the Book of Thoth: "According to an ancient tradition, the sun is also black."

Contact with the Black Sun is associated with the experience of burning away the dross of the personality, leaving the gold or essential nature of the first matter. It is analogous in some ways to the Abyss that lies before Binah; in the thelemic holy book "Liber 231," the symbol of the Black Sun, whose Djinn is Chiva-abrahadabra-cadaxviii, is attributed to the path of Cheth, which crosses the Abyss. Much of the symbolism of Liber Cheth is appropriate to the Black Sun as a result. The pseudo-sephirah of Da'ath also resonates with the symbolism of the Black Sun. It is the invisible sun, or as Kenneth Grant refers to it, "Tiphareth Within." The planetary forces of the Tree of Life revolve around Tiphareth, but Da'ath is the empty second focus, not really a sephirah in its own right, but a void or space-mark in the Tree. This mystery is further alluded to in the God-Name of Tiphareth, "IHVH Aloah va-Da'ath." Yet further, we find the gematric result that Hebrew ThPhARTh = 1081 = Greek "Hê Abyssos," "the abyss." It would be disrespectful to the Secret Chiefs responsible for the keeping of this secret to comment further.

As to the motion of the Black Sun through the zodiac, it is unusual in comparison with the motions of other astrological points of interest. Considered from a Heliocentric position, the Black Sun is practically a fixed point (now at approimately 3º Capricorn), moving no more than .01973º in relation to the tropical zodiac each year. The Black Sun therefore makes one circuit of the zodiac in about 18,246 years. Since the Black Sun is very nearly stationary with respect to Earth orbit, its movement through the zodiac seen from a geocentric position is almost entirely due to the earth's movement around the sun. As a result, the Black Sun does not travel through the entire zodiac in a year, but shuttles back and forth between approximately 16º Pisces and 19º Libra. The following diagram should clarify this description (although it is obviously not to scale).

The closest approach of Earth to the Black Sun generally happens on June 24, the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist, and the holiest day of the Templar Calendar. On this date the Black Sun is in opposition to the visible Sun while the visible Sun is in the 93º of the zodiac (3º Cancer). The Sun and the Black Sun therefore occupy the signs associated with Ayin and Cheth, the addition of which makes 78, MZLA, the influence from Kether. This is the period during which the Black Sun is at its fastest motion (retrograde), during which it moves faster than the Moon due to its nearness to the earth.

The Black Sun is conjunct the Sun on December 24th; this is analogous to an "eclipse" of the Black Sun, although in contradistinction to a typical eclipse, the dark Sun is blotted out by the visible Sun. Some alchemists consider this a bad time in which to attempt alchemical workings, since the Black Sun, the source of "contact with eternity," is furthest from the Earth and occluded by the visible Sun.

The motion of the Black Sun suggest several "Black Sun Feast Days," when it changes signs or makes contacts with the visible Sun. These are as follows:

Feb. 18th, when it enters Aquarius
April 21st, when it enters Pisces
June 7th, when it turns retrograde in Pisces
June 19th, when it re-enters Aquarius
June 22nd, when it re-enters Capricorn

June 23rd, when it re-enters Capricorn
June 24th, when it opposes the visible Sun and enters Sagittarius
June 26th, when it enters Scorpio
June 29th, when it enters Libra
July 11th, when it turns direct in Libra
August 13th, when it enters Scorpio
October 17th, when it enters Saggitarius
December 18th, when it enters Capricorn
December 24th, when it conjuncts the visible Sun

These "feast days" obviously center on time of the summer solstice, when the Black Sun is moving fastest and therefore changes sign rapidly. This is the time when the energy of the Black Sun is most available and most puissant.

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