Astrotheology, A Religious Belief System (as per D.M. Murdock/Acharya S)

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by Neil Godfrey

TabulaThe more I have read of the works of Acharya S (aka D.M. Murdock) and the more engagement I have had with those who fervently advocate her views the more I have suspected that some form of cult-like belief system lies beneath their surface appearances. Part of the reason for my suspicions has been the vitriolic reactions on their part against any attempt to honestly critique their views and engage them in argument that consistently follows the norms of scholarly or “scientific” reasoning. I have been portrayed in some very colorful terms by both Acharya and those I believe it is fair to say are her followers. In effect I have been lumped together with others as deliberately closed-minded, bigoted and out to lyingly slander them. My record of defending Acharya against some of the worst insults I have read on the web counts for nothing.

Finally one of Acharya’s fairly prominent online supporters, Robert Tulip, has “come out” and made it very clear that my suspicions were right all along. Astrotheology — the view they propagate — is a form of religious belief. They believe as strongly as any fundamentalist that they are right and anyone who does not agree with them after they explain it all is perverse or willfully blind. Expressions of disagreement are interpreted as expressions of hostility or even persecution.

And like religious cults, they curry good relations with prominent or respectable names that they believe will give their cause a benign public face. Anyone with public standing among those they seek to influence and who has had a positive word to say about Acharya’s books is promoted as a witness that they really are a genuinely scholarly (even scientific) group of truth-seekers. I have finally come to believe they are as scientific as Scientology; their efforts to claim to follow the scientific method are a falsehood. I doubt that people like Earl Doherty really do understand exactly what it is their names are being used to support when they insist that such people have made supportive comments about their publications.

My full awareness of all of this did not come quickly. I have hoped my suspicions were not true often enough. If I can be shown to be mistaken I would greatly welcome it and apologize for this post and withdraw it.

What finally led me to give up any remaining doubts I had about their religious or cult status was a series of posts on the EarlyWritings Forum. The most recent of these posts, under the title Loaves and Fishes, were prompted by pressure from a few of us for Robert to demonstrate the scientific or scholarly basis for his rejection of normal (“midrashic”/literary-critical) explanations for the miracle of the loaves and fishes in the Gospels and his belief that this narrative was written as a code of some sort for “astrotheology” beliefs. The result is the epitome of parallelomania (as I have explained this through Sandmel’s definitions a couple of times recently); but the worst part comes at the end when it is made very clear that Robert himself takes his interpretation as a personal belief system along with the fundamentalist-like view that anyone who fails to share his enlightenment is willfully perverse.

Here is Robert Tulip’s explication of the Gospels’ Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. After reading this I finally realized I have been wasting my time taking many of his remarks testifying to an interest in the hypothetico-deductive method at face value. He — and I can only presume the same applies to Acharya S herself — are evidently not interested in scholarly approaches to Christian origins and really are about peddling a quasi-religious type of belief-system.

I have bolded the text that I consider to be the evidence that “astrotheology” as advocated here is indeed a genuine personal belief-system that shuts down any possibility of genuinely scholarly engagement and criticism.

At the end of the post I add a couple of scholarly reviews of David Ulansey’s argument that it was the ancient discovery of the precession of the equinoxes that prompted the rise of Mithraism and possibly even Christianity.

Loaves and Fishes

Postby Robert Tulip » Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:01 pm

Commentary on Gospel Texts on Loaves and Fishes

Collating the text on the loaves and fishes from all four gospels there are about 2000 words, nearly 100 verses. The feeding of the multitude is the most prominent miracle in the Bible, appearing six times compared to three for the resurrection, but it is deeply mysterious. It is literally impossible, so its origins deserve careful analysis. Ruling out magic, the contesting hypotheses for the core meaning focus on Jesus as antitype for Moses or as cosmic allegory.I am happy to discuss what this miracle may really mean, even though I find the tone and level of knowledge of some posters here surprising. In response to Neil Godfrey’s request, I will go through all these verses in order, to explore their apparent most likely meaning. I have noticed that some commenters seem often to ignore what I say, and even to claim I said things I did not say, but that is okay, as we can all read the discussion as it stands and readers can make up their own minds. Even so, I generally prefer that people quote me accurately rather than inaccurately.

. . . . . .

Mark 6:30-44

30.The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught.

• This ‘all they had done’ motif references the verse Mark 6:7 ‘He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out’. The implication that Christ is omniscient is similar to both his conversation with the woman at the well who told Christ about her six husbands (like the 6000 years of the fall) and the sun in the Sermon on the Mount at Matthew 5:45 that shines equally on the just and unjust. So too the twelve months of the year represent all things under the sun, against the cosmic framework of Christ as the solar year and the apostles as the twelve lunar months surrounding the central source of light and life. The months may be considered separately as each having a different nature, but here the twelve come together and appear as eternally united as varying reflections of the same sun.

http://biblehub.com/mark/6-31.htm 31 He said to them, “You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile.” For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 They went away in the boat to a desert place by themselves.

• Christ calls the twelve away from the bustle of the world to find spiritual food. The business of the world prevents enlightenment, which requires isolation and meditation. The wilderness motif also indicates the Exodus theme of escape from worldiness to see God. I interpret the apostles and Christ in the boat against the Argonauts and other cognate myths, but that is a complex topic to come back to later.

http://biblehub.com/mark/6-33.htm 33 They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him.

• Firstly, it is rather strange that the multitude can recognise Christ despite being located in ‘all the cities’. This is a first impossibility in this myth, since people in numerous cities cannot all see one person as indicated here. But Mark passes over that difficulty with sublime indifference. It indicates that Christ is allegory for something that can be seen from many different places at once, perhaps something that shines equally on the just and the unjust.

Considering Christ as allegory for the sun, and the apostles as allegories for the twelve months of the moon, the multitude appears analogous to the stars of the night sky, with the cities analogous for the constellations. The stellar motif is clearly present in the Holy City of the apocalypse, although lightly hidden in deference to moronic sensibilities. There are in fact about 5000 stars visible from the equator, and 4000 visible from temperate latitudes, so this analogy is plausible for both versions of the number of men participating in the miracle.

34 Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.

• As the sun appears to travel through the multitude of stars each year, its position in each group of stars has a distinct meaning, relevant to the time of year. This traditional view is depicted in the stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral, with the occupations for each month. So the sun gives meaning to the random shapes of the stars through its regular annual procession through them. As we shall see, a deeper eternal meaning of this order is seen, and was perceived by the ancients, in the equally regular slow precession of the sun through the stars, one degree back per human lifetime.

• The shepherd motif echoes King David and the Psalms. In terms of precession, the spring point was in the sign of the ram for two thousand years until the time of Christ, when it moved into the sign of the fish. So the ‘without a shepherd’ idea matches to the stellar disorientation occurring at the time of Christ, well known to the ancients. Philo said Passover occurred when the sun was in the sign of the ram. This had been visibly seen to no longer apply since the blood moon of 23 March 4BC at Passover in Jerusalem, a lunar eclipse that was physically at the foot of the woman (Virgo), directly opposite the sun in Pisces. This event is a possible source for the great wonder seen in heaven described in Revelation 12:1, and for Paul’s motif in Galatians ‘born of a woman’. We can again see this great wonder with the blood moon in the same spot in the sky on 15 April this year.

35 When it was late in the day, his disciples came to him, and said, “This place is deserted, and it is late in the day. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat.”

• Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 say a thousand years is as a day for God. Theology has used this framework to construct a 7000 year theory of time from Eden to Apocalypse linked to the seven days of creation in Genesis and the vision of the millennium in Revelation. So the ‘late in the day’ timing for the loaves and fishes miracle illustrates that it occurs at a time of shift between ages. The twelve make the practical/allegorical suggestion that dispersal of the men/stars is the only way for them to obtain food/enlightenment.

37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They asked him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give them something to eat?”

• Allegorically, the sun/Christ structures the months/apostles against the perennial identity of the star patterns/the multitude, marking the annual cycle of the seasons.

38 He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go see.” When they knew, they said, “Five, and two fish.”

• Gnostic ideas are clearly present here. ‘Go see’ is an Enochite reference to the old tradition of the cosmic seers, the watchers who formed the Nazirite Gnostic tradition through Samson to John the Baptist who has just been beheaded (in preference to Salome turning down the offer of half a kingdom) in this chapter. “When they knew” is a very unusual turn of phrase for Mark to use in this spot. It is a rather clunky way to insert the Gnostic theme of knowledge. And the knowledge matches precisely to our cosmic vision of the structure of reality available to the naked eye since time immemorial, with the five visible planets and the two great lights of the sun and moon.


Re: Loaves and Fishes

Postby Robert Tulip » Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:47 am

22 March 2014

Mark 6:39 He commanded them that everyone should sit down in groups on the green grass.

The green grass is an evocative image. Somehow I have always imagined this miracle story as occurring on a rocky dusty lake shore, but here we find this image of green fertility, pleasance, abundance, simplicity, peace, order and beauty.

The green grass evokes the line from Peter and Isaiah used by Brahms in his Requiem, behold all flesh is as the grass, with grass a symbol of temporal mortality, hinting toward the cosmic relation between time and eternity.

40 They sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties.

With the men sitting in groups considered in this story as meaning stars, we can readily see the grouping as meaning constellations.

41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves, and he gave to his disciples to set before them, and he divided the two fish among them all.

The central event of the miracle is the creation of universal abundance by faith and vision from a small source.

The phrase “looking up to heaven” is a strong indication of the astral meaning of the story. Due to the influence of church teaching we are accustomed to thinking of heaven as a place where good people go after death. But Jesus here uses the concept of heaven as something that can be seen by looking up, ie the sky. This old meaning remains in our concept of ‘the heavens’, and in the German use of Himmel for heaven and sky.

l-piscesSo what did Christ see when he looked up to heaven? The astronomical fact is that the shift of ages marked by the position of the sun at the equinoxes moved into star groups conventionally associated with loaves and fishes at precisely the time of Pilate, 21 AD, and this event had been known and anticipated by ancient astronomers for at least a century, and probably in Babylon for many hundreds of years.

The March spring equinox, used by the Jewish calendar to mark the beginning of the year and the timing of the great annual festival of Passover, had occurred with the sun in Aries the Ram since before the time of Moses. But in 21 AD, this annual event shifted into Pisces the Fishes, while the opposite equinox in September shifted from Libra into Virgo the Virgin, whose main star Spica is named after the spike of wheat used to make loaves of bread. So the cosmic axis of the year marked by spring and autumn was understood by ancient astronomers to have shifted at this time into the signs of the loaves and fishes.

This moment of shift of the heavens was in fact a moment of perceived celestial harmony between earth and heaven, as the only time in history when the signs and the seasons have been in perfect alignment. So this perceived connection provides fertile source for the idea that Jesus Christ is the terrestrial incarnation of the eternal God of the universe, bringing the order of the heavens into manifest planetary presence.

The symbolism of the creation of universal abundance from two fish and five loaves is that by understanding our real relation to nature, we can overcome the alienation produced in human psychology and culture by the fall from grace. I interpret the fall as the rise of metal technology, an indicator that our material progress has come without the required social and intellectual progress, and so creates the risk of destruction, requiring a new covenant to restore our state of grace. This reading of the fall aligns with the Enochite Gnostic Watcher Nazirite tradition that Mark 6 has already alluded to with the beheading of John the Baptist, an event which illustrates the oppressive context for Gnosis.

This miracle of the loaves and fishes asserts that if we can re-establish a connection between earth and heaven, we can find miraculous creativity, like the use of faith to move mountains. Without a real understanding of nature we are lost and falling into destruction, but with knowledge we are saved by grace. This idea presents a practical scientific foundation for the reformation of Christianity today on a natural rational basis.

As I have noted already, the numbers five and two for the loaves and fishes key directly into popular ancient knowledge of visual astronomy, representing the five visible planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn and the two great lights the Sun and Moon. When Jesus gives the five loaves to the twelve disciples to distribute among the 5000 men, it represents how astronomer priests since time immemorial had watched the regular orderly movement of the planets among the stars to understand the structure of time and the mathematical pattern of the mind of God revealed in the cosmos.

Brahms Requiem wrote:http://www.grandmar-ak.com/virtual-memorialrequiem-lyrics/
Behold, all flesh is as the grass, And all the goodliness of man is as the flower of grass; For lo, the grass with’reth, and the flower there-of decayeth. Now, therefore, be patient, O my brethren, unto the coming of Christ. See how the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit, the fruit of the earth, And hath long patience for it, until he receive the early rain and the latter rain. So be ye patient. Behold all flesh is as the grass, and all the goodliness of man is as the flower of grass; For lo, the grass with’reth, and the flower there-of decayeth. But yet the Lord’s word endureth, endureth forever-more. The redeem-ed of the Lord shall return again, and come rejoicing unto Zion. Gladness, gladness, gladness, joy everlasting; Joy upon their heads shall be; Joy and gladness, these shall be their portion, and tears and sighing shall flee from them. The redeem-ed of the Lord shall return again, and come rejoicing unto Zion. Gladness, gladness, gladness, joy upon their heads shall be, joy everlasting. Joy everlasting.

Robert Tulip


Re: Loaves and Fishes

Postby Robert Tulip » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:20 pm

Mark 6:42 They all ate, and were filled.

Continuing reading Mark against the stellar allegory, this text indicates that all the 5000 men/visible stars of the sky were seen in location against the regular orderly movement of the five loaves/planets and two fish/sun and moon around the field of grass/the path of the heavens. The fulfilment here is pleromatic – an eschatological vision of when God will be known as all in all. http://biblehub.com/greek/4138.htm notes that pleroma or fullness appears in the Mark 8 version of the miracle, and also in Colossians.

43 They took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and also of the fish.

The twelve baskets represent the twelve months of the year, with the broken pieces representing the constantly changing angles between the positions of the planets.

44 Those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Concluding this first of the six tellings of the miracle in the Gospels, the overall cosmic context is reaffirmed with the coded reference to the number of visible stars. The satiation of the miracle refers to the reconciliation of all things, or as the Paulines put it in the great hymn of cosmic praise at Colossians 1, the Son of his love is the image of the invisible God, by whom were all things created – all the fullness was pleased to dwell in him and through him to reconcile all things.

The slow wheeling of the heavens is the great measure of time, and can be studied to see the framework of cosmic reconciliation.

Robert Tulip


Postby Robert Tulip » Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:19 pm

Mark 6:52they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

Immediately after the loaves and fishes multiplication, Jesus miraculously walks on water, a story that concludes with this cryptic reference back to the loaves in verse 6:52. The point here is that the whole Jesus story is allegory for cosmic reconciliation, but most people are in a fallen alienated condition, and cannot understand the need to connect spirit and nature, which is what “understanding about the loaves” means.

This idea of connection between spirit and nature is the source of the authentic power of Christian faith as the hope of liberating cosmic transformation in love.The failure to understand about the loaves, ie the blindness to the allegorical meaning of the stories about Jesus as representing the sun and planets, produces hardness of heart, a wilful and cruel reinforcement of ignorant arrogance. Such hardness became the basis of church persecution of Gnostic vision, a syndrome which produced the dominant inverted religious pathologies that have come to see evil as good and good as evil.

The idea of cosmic reconciliation appears repeatedly in the Epistles with the Gnostic concept of pleroma or fullness. Texts such as Romans 8:21, “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God”, and the ideas from Colossians 1 about the reconciliation through the eternal logos or natural order, indicate a message within the Bible that salvation is about harmony with nature, whereas damnation is about alienation from nature. This is most vividly explained in the verse Revelation 11:18 which says the wrath of God is against those who destroy the earth.

The overall theme of cosmic reconciliation is central to the idea that the world had moved onto a new cosmic axis at the time of Pilate, seen in the shift of the equinoxes into the signs of the loaves and fishes in 21 AD. Against the broad ancient cosmology, this axial movement marked an incarnational moment of cosmic harmony, the only point in all history at which the seasons and the stars were aligned. Unfortunately you have to have some understanding to comprehend this, and what Mark calls hardness of heart makes it simply impossible for most people to understand.

An intense repressive hostility to cosmic comprehension is presented as the introduction to the loaves and fishes parable, with Salome asking for the death of the lead Gnostic in preference to Herod’s offer of temporal power. This psychological analysis of cultural polarisation remains pertinent today to the intense blindness to the natural scientific meaning of Biblical texts.


Ancient Knowledge of Precession of the Equinoxes?

English: Tauroctony in Kunsthistorisches Museu...
Tauroctony (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While we’re here let me cite a couple of scholarly responses to David Ulansey’s argument that it was the ancient discovery of the precession of the equinoxes that led to the upsurge of the Roman Mithraistic cult and that may also have had significance for the rise of Christianity:On the ancient knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes:

Roger Beck, The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire, 2006:

This hypothesis about the design and composition implies that the designers knew the then very ‘recherche’ fact that the equinoxes do indeed slowly shift position, the so-called precession of the equinoxes. Very few serious scholars either of the Mithraic mysteries or of the history of astronomy have accepted Ulansey’s theory.
My own view (Beck 2004 c :243–4) is that, wrong though the theory is, this much can be said for it: had you explained precession to a Mithraic Father and pointed out that the torch bearers, the scorpion, and the bull could be related to the equinoxes of an earlier era, he would have gratefully added it to his portfolio of explications. Simply as a matter of star-talk syntax, the archaic equinoxes were and are potentially present as meanings in the composition of the tauroctony.
What makes it extremely improbable that precession was ever elicited as a meaning, let alone deliberately encoded in the tauroctony as a ‘plumbed-in’ meaning, is the need to postulate Mithraists or Ur-Mithraists with the requisite knowledge. Nothing in the reception-history of the astronomical theory of precession suggests that such people ever existed. Since one can account for Mithraism’s esoteric quartering without invoking them, they serve no useful function and are best dismissed. (p. 217, my own formatting throughout)

Beck refers to Swerdlow’s criticism of Ulansey’s theory with this caveat (p. 33):

Swerdlow is a distinguished historian of astronomy, and his particular target, David Ulansey (1989), had the temerity to propose that the tauroctony encoded one of ancient astronomy’s most important and highly technical discoveries, the ‘precession of the equinoxes’. On the limited question of precession I agree with Swerdlow against Ulansey.

From N.M. Swerdlow’s review of Ulansey in Classical Philology, 86, 1, 1991

The other point concerns Hipparchus’ discovery of the precession and whatever might have been made of it in Tarsus or any place else. The earliest surviving writer so much as to mention the precession is Ptolemy in the mid-second century, about three hundred years after Hipparchus. Ulansey may say the centuries intervene because the discovery was kept a deep dark secret reserved for adepts of the cult of Mithras or Perseus, but that is simply ridiculous.

Aside from the vagaries of the survival of writings on astronomy before Ptolemy, whose work made that of his predecessors on the whole obsolete, it is most likely that the precession was not mentioned for three hundred years because Hipparchus’ description was so tentative, and so uncertain of what his observations showed, that no one paid any attention to it until Ptolemy demonstrated that it really existed.

Even then, Proclus, who lived fully three centuries after Ptolemy and is the only philosopher to my knowledge to take note of the precession, denied it because he thought it undetectable and contradicted by the appearances it would, he said, make the Bears partially set below the horizon and because all wise men agreed that the fixed stars have only a single motion about the pole of the world, the diurnal rotation, and none about the pole of the ecliptic. In short, what was good enough for Plato was good enough for Proclus.

And Ptolemy, who (like Proclus) was personally a devoted believer in the divinity of the heavenly bodies and the efficacy of astrological divination, treats the precession purely astronomically, for nowhere does he so much as hint at any religious or astrological implications. Did he know he was giving away a great mystery? Was he perhaps doing it on purpose? Had everyone forgotten the true significance of the precession? Was Proclus trying to put the cat back into the bag? The questions are too absurd to deserve an answer.

Now Hipparchus’ treatment of the precession was not at all straightforward and was hardly such as would have suggested the need for a new cosmic deity. If anything, until a few hundred years had passed, in which the evidence for a motion of the stars with respect to the equinoxes became stronger, it would have suggested above all the possibility of observational error, which Hipparchus himself feared. All that is known of Hipparchus’ study of what we now call the precession is contained in Almagest 3. 1 and 7. 1-3, and it is evident from Ptolemy’s account that it was highly technical, highly tentative, and offered more than one explanation for rather discrepant observations that did not necessarily indicate anything like a motion of the entire sphere of the fixed stars with respect to the equinoxes. (p. 59, my bolding)


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19 thoughts on “Astrotheology, A Religious Belief System (as per D.M. Murdock/Acharya S)”

  1. Beck has understood very little of Mithraism. My impression is that he has dedicated only to the interpretation of De Antro. I have already refuted Beck in a conversation with Richard Carrier:

    I report what I have said to Adair about the work of Beck:
    “I am amazed. The lion-headed Aion or Aeon, the most important deity along with Mithra, is only mentioned in a note: “The other intensely problematic figure is the Mithraic lion-headed god”. Only this, to mean that he did not understand anything of this figure.
    He consider the focus of the theology rotate around the moon and the sun and identifies the Taurus with the Moon;
    he has not grasped the meaning of Cautes and Cautopates that correspond to the ancient Ormazd and Ahriman;
    not a nod to the precession, to which I have arrived independently from Ulansey, and made explicit in an inscription of mitreum of Santa Prisca only mentioned by Beck in the bibliography.
    How Beck explains the Transitus? Why it was so important to be represented in the iconography of the myth?”


    This is the iscription in St Prisca:
    “Aries is the first to start the race in the order set”
    demonstrating that after the killing of Taurus is Aries leading the precession.
    Why Beck does not report it? it is the only written record we have of Mithraism.

  2. Thank you ,……v. timely post . I have had doubts for a while but I was about to expend much needed time inquiring further. Now I need not bother. !!

    1. My point was nothing more than to alert readers to the fact that there are alternative scholarly views on the question. I am not interested in the to’s and fro’s of argument or trying to resolve them. I don’t think I am closed minded to Ulansey’s argument by any means. I don’t think it is settled yet. But people should be aware it is not a one-sided discussion.

  3. Oh my. I can see that the comments around here are going to get interesting again.

    You should sell ad space Neil. At least get something out of the spamstorm that is probably going to be coming this way.

    1. The spam bin is being populated as we speak. If anyone can show me I am wrong I will of course allow their comments to appear, but so far there is nothing unexpected. The same abuse, the same attempts to deny the obvious, the same twisting of what I wrote. They are no different from any other fundamentalist who comes here trying to pretend to be genuinely engaging with the arguments. I try to give the benefit of the doubt — sometimes I do so for too long, and other times I know I am too quick to be suspicious and over-react. But I am now appalled that Robert Tulip (or any rep of D.M. Murdock) is allowed to participate in any forum that wants to present a scholarly approach.

      Astrotheology is as dogmatic as any fundamentalist cult. Instead of saying Absolute Truth resides in a traditional God figure it says Absolute Truth resides in what they argue is the “scientific reality” of the universe and the astrological relationship between macrocosm and microcosm.

      They have had far too long a run on the coat-tails of serious mythicists. Time they were jettisoned entirely and relegated to the cult status where they belong.

  4. “The astronomical fact is that the shift of ages marked by the position of the sun at the equinoxes moved into star groups conventionally associated with loaves and fishes at precisely the time of Pilate, 21 AD …”

    Am I missing something here, or is Tulip? Pilate was named fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea in AD 26. How is five years earlier “precisely” the time of Pilate?

  5. Neil Godfrey, you really should be ashamed of yourself here for taking Robert Tulips commentary out of context to twist into a bogus accusation of being a cult. Seriously Neil, I thought you were above all of that. Your own biases and hate are revealing your true colors. These smears really are disgusting.

    Acharya actually helps people get out of cults. I know this for a fact because I know people she’s helped:

    Cult Tactics: Resources for Help

    1. Out of context? I quote in full and give the background and this is out of context?

      If you read my post I do not at any point say the commentary per se is what defines astrotheology as a cult. I do know a little about cults and beliefs alone don’t make them. Please read what I did say about the attitudes and closed-mindedness, the persecution syndrome (you also demonstrate this) and judgmental condemnation of the world (critics of one’s view) through the fundamentals of one’s belief system. I have addressed all of this repeatedly in many posts and venues.

      You don’t understand what is meant by “cult”. You are thinking of formally established and organized religious bodies. That’s not what I am talking about — as should be obvious. See


      Cult mentality never considers itself cultish but always believes itself to be custodians of the only ultimate Truth. They never see themselves reflected in like-bodies. They will always assist anyone to leave their current belief systems and join their own.

      I have seen the same tactics used by cults and other fundamentalist religious believers being employed by Murdock and her followers. The pretense of scientific (or worldly) respectability (they really believe it, not saying they are lying); the use of association with respected names to lend themselves respectability; the deception about what they really believe when engaging in discussions; the persecution syndrome whenever they are criticized at all; the refusal to follow the norms of scientific and scholarly methods while claiming to do so; the dogmatism that they are right and will be proved right.

      1. Then everyone is in a “cult” like mindset. Everyone tries to get acceptance for their theories & everything is based on preconceived perspectives that predetermine the next judgement which is biased no matter what. Everyone is influenced whether it’s subconsciously or not. People use their preconceived beliefs as reinforcements by the observations that are already predetermined. Emotional convictions then get involved & alter reality based perceptions. On either side of the spectrum it really doesn’t matter because “Cultures” had their own beliefs that influence the next generations or nearby “cults.” By your definition your saying everyone is part of a cult because the psychoanalysis is expressed through the asserted notions that all people put forth, ignoring what doesn’t conform or agree, accept the notions.

        1. What is “my definition” of a cult — what did you read or in any of the links I referenced that has led you to your criticism of what you think I argue is a cult-like mindset? Where do I say things like a sign of a cult is that the people are influenced in their views — as you seem to be implying here?

          Have you read my most recent post setting out the American Family Foundation’s characteristics of cults and to which I again refer to the followers of Achara S/DM Murdock?

  6. Hi Neil,

    “The more I have read *of* the works of Acharya S (aka D.M. Murdock) and the more engagement I have had with *those who fervently advocate her views*”

    Is this your usual procedure in “honestly critique their views and engage them in argument that consistently follows the norms of scholarly or “scientific” reasoning”?

    Above you indicate reading about the works of Acharya and engaging with those who advocate her views. So you have not read the works themselves and engage Acharya S herself [ in this instance] to arrive at the conclusions in this article. Therefore, this article could well have been titled “Astrotheology as understood by Robert Tulip….”.

    What is the definition of “Astrotheology/Astromythology” as defined by D.M.Murdock herself, in her works? Since you have not offered any, here it is:

    “The further one regresses in time, the more obvious it becomes that the principal and singular religious worship found around the globe has revolved around nature. This nature worship has included reverence not only for the earth, its creatures and their fecundity, but also for the sun, moon, planets and stars. For many thousands of years, man has looked to the skies and become awestruck by what he has observed.

    This awe has led to the reverence and worship both of the night and day skies, an adoration called “astrotheology.” ” – Chapter 1 “Suns of God”


    Here is Robert Tulip on the same definition:

    “Is Astrotheology Just Astrology?

    No. Astrotheology is the study of how observation of the natural cosmos informs mythology in the past and the present ”

    ” astrotheology seeks to understand how supernatural[claims of] religion is grounded in observation of nature, both explicitly and implicitly, and how religious faiths have evolved into a degraded and corrupted shadow of original enlightened methods.”
    (my insertion of “[claims of]”)

    source: http://freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=4329

    There is no belief system nor cult -like phenomena at play from these definitions. They are statements about what they think the evidence tell them about what ancient persons believed. Mythology about the heavens and nature existed long before any Christian literary scribe came on the scene. Cultures like Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia etc
    had their mythology long before the Jews and OT. I cannot speak for D.M. Murdock but I think one of the main points she has been making is that the origins of Christianity cannot be divorced from the mythology of antecedent and contemporaneous cultures.

    I do remember that you started to critique her first book( The Christ Conspiracy 1st Edition 1999) last year, approximately fourteen (14 ) years after initial publication and that exercise quickly descended into a emotionally charged affair on both sides. You did not show any awareness of her views at present or gave acknowledgement to what she has written during that span of time.

    In the spirit of thinking for one’s self I have always made it a point of duty to read the books for myself after reading your thoughts on them. I have always said internally “this is Neil’s or Tim’s[or any other person] take on this matter or book, let me now read it for myself” and draw my own conclusions.

    For those who dare not inquire for themselves then so be it, but never surrender your mind to anyone.

    1. If Murdock/Acharya disowns Robert Tulip’s overall views and methods — but most especially his views of those who do not agree with him or her and offer honest criticism — then let her say so.

      Your definition of astrotheology by Robert above does not contradict what he has since written and that I quote here. It is my contention that too often in the past Robert has deliberately presented his views in a benign manner as you quote but every time I have questioned him further I have always found his explanations equivocal and defensive. This is typical cult-communication m.o. The benign front has been exposed as just that — a front — by Robert’s latest posts.

      Putting on “fronts” like this is typical of cultish and fundamentalist believers who see themselves as in possession of secret wisdom that the rest of the world is blind to.

  7. The difference between historiography and mithicism is that the first is full of doubts, just think at the dozens of profiles generated for the historical Jesus, the millions of pages written and refuted, while the second is sure to have identified the true root of religion, astrology.
    It’s logic, even if wrong, that a mythical mithicist assumes absolutist position that the historian mithicist can never assumure given the absolute inconsistency of all evangelical documentation and therefore he is aware that it is enormously difficult to generate a final result.
    The mythical mithicist is similar to the religious faithful, his faith is that religion is a joke, and it is unwavering.
    When you read passages like the virgin birth, the 40 days in the desert, the wedding at Cana, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes in question, Jesus walks on water, the entry into Jerusalem on two donkeys, and much more, you can not be that mythical mithicist.
    Then there is always the Pier Tulip theorem (I do not know Robert) https://www.academia.edu/4494891/The_Gospels_were_and_are_allegorical_stories

    1. Unfortunately what passes for “historical inquiry” among historical Jesus scholars is based on groundless assumptions about the nature of the evidence handled and is fundamentally circular. A genuinely historical inquiry would lead to a very different view of Christian origins than we find in many HJ books — most of which are little more than paraphrases (essentially) of selected sections of the gospel narratives.

      I have no problem whatever with a study of the myths contained in the gospels — whether studied through anthropological constructs (or mythologists’ views of things — though these are probably part of the anthropological enquiry). Robert M. Price does this to some extent in several of his writings. I think you do, too.

      If D.M. Murdock/Acharya S took the same approach I’d be a lot more interested in what she had to say.

  8. Neil, just quickly… I think Acharya is just an extremely dramatic person. I have fired off some critique to her on FaceBook and she over-reacts in such a way that it makes me think she cannot handle critique at all.

    Her forum is likewise another extension of her drama where she puts up posts about how she is viciously attacked etc, etc. I think she likes the attention somehow? I don’t discredit all of her work but at the same time, I have no interest in reading much of what she says anymore because of the way she responds to people.

    I’d have to agree that her forum, at best, has cult-esque overtones.

    1. I posted the following on the earlywritings forum:

      Here’s why I find astrotheology disturbing:

      1. It is counter-modernist. It manifests itself as an attempt by “besieged believers” to find their refuge in arming themselves with an identity that is rooted in a past golden age/true and pure religious belief system. And this identity is acted out in an attempt to restore that original true religion and/or expectation that it will be soon restored.

      2. Its proponents are generally assertive and clamorous, expressing themselves abusively and intolerantly.

      3. They are the guardians or bearers of long-hidden secret knowledge and wisdom. And as such, they are “privileged” or “burdened” with a special mission on behalf of their theology and for the benefit of the world.

      4. They appear to need to maintain their sense of superiority and distinctive identity through being the only ones to truly understand the scientific method in its truest application without falling into what they see as wishy-washy nonsense or relativism. This apparent need to stress their special wisdom and grand discovery of a great Truth is part of the narcissistic struggle to be considered unique and special.

      5. There is only one true religion and one correct way of life; and these must be defended against inroads from other religions and secularism. Since there is only one true way, it is under constant threat. The world is thus a place of persecution or at least constant public ridicule and badmouthing. A place where there is a black and white, a Manichaean struggle between absolutes, good and evil, truth and error. There is no middle ground. “You are with us or against us.”

      6. There is a prophet or charismatic leader to whom subservience of thought is taken for granted.

      7. Law and authority come from the one true religion/theology as interpreted through its language of “science”.

      8. Sexual/sexist innuendo and/or presumed offences are major concerns.

      9. The belief system appears to be uncannily associated with extremist right-wing nationalist views.

      The above attributes cluster in patterns that point to something quite possibly independent of cultural variables — a certain set of psychological traits that can be understood as bound inextricably with narcissism. Individual traits can be applied to anyone or anything. It is the clusters as explained here that count.

      Based on characteristics of extremist religious views by Tamas Pataki outlined at http://vridar.org/2007/06/29/10-characteristics-of-fundamentalism/

  9. Hello Neil, I ran into Ari’s Blog today. He criticizes D.M. Murdock.

    I wrote a few things on your Vridar page in 2014, I think, and dropped out when you needled me for saying that “I believed” something to be the case. I didn’t mean I believed like a Christian. You said, “Don’t say ‘believe’.” I was not saying I believed (as a Christian), but just a general belief that something was said. I was not sure. So anyway, I left. I have come back to write a few things in 2019, but dropped out again. I came back today because I was spurred on by a criticism of D. M. Murdock by Ari who writes Ari’s Blog. I recalled before I left the first time, you told me that you were thinking of writing something about Acharya S/D.M. Murdock. I missed it because I guess I had gone. I just found this post about Astrotheology. So here’s where I’m going to write something of a defense for D. M. Murdock. I never met her, never corresponded with her…just read her thoughts and liked her. She is deceased now, I don’t know if you heard. She was an outsider but many people did realize that she contributed quite a good deal of information, without the NECESSARY credentials. You have continued writing for a long while also, in a big way, putting yourself out there, without the so-called NECESSARY credentials.

    Here is Ari’s Blog and following is my defense of D. M. Murdock. I hope there are not too many mistakes, and hope that I can be understood. I have no degree…just following my favorite subject and finding what I think is important to research.


    Hello Ari, Maybe you need to relax your criticisms of Archarya S/D.M. She supported legitimate historical issues like you do, but she is more accurate about who was doing what in the first three centuries during the development of Roman Christianity. You are doing exactly what you accuse her of…dismissing views you don’t agree with. She said “crap” because she knew you saw it from the point of modern Orthodoxy.

    Nobody today really knows exactly what happened from mid first century to fourth century as far as formative Roman Catholic Church and Gnosticism. I do have a handle on it because I’ve studied Mandaeanism and the Nazarites. The Gnostics became separated from Roman Catholicism (Roman Christianity) but the Roman Christians were a Gnostic sect as D. M. Burdock explained. The confusion is the fault of wrong interpretations by Christian apologists, but Roman Catholics were the original culprits before the Christians.

    “Gnostic” is a blanket term for all groups/sects fighting for supremacy after John the Baptist was killed. They had one common understanding and no in-depth knowledge. Their common belief was that this was the lowest world where light barely penetrated, this world needed a savior soul to come and bring souls back into life, to the cascading light worlds, so to speak. For John’s immediate family, along with honest, worthy followers, no one in this world was capable of understanding the universe like John did. He had the knowledge, the truth. He was a diviner, healer and prophesier. There was only one man would could do all those things, he was John, his soul was from the primordial light.

    Gnostics had none of his understanding. They had the general idea of being saved by the savior soul. They morphed into Orthodoxy. The Orthodoxy became the Roman Catholic Church. None of the earliest Roman Christians had met John. They later came to know who he was with surviving basic divining (divination) skills. They covered over the truth purposefully to hide the murder of the savior soul of the first century. He was killed by Romans for one reason, and betrayed by the Jews for another reason. Jesus was never a Jew. He was only Jewish by Roman census. He threatened to expose both Roman and Jewish corruption. After the two governments colluded, Rome turned on the Jews. It was the hiding of the divination secrets that was important, the Jews having divining skills also but not as advanced. The Romans had oracles, who were perhaps basic diviners also but nothing compared to John’s methods.

    The secret divining methods gave the Romans an edge and power over the other religions. The true history was thoroughly buried and changed to a pseudohistory about the son of God, healer and savior of humanity. Even reincarnation principles which John taught, were extinguished. It was John who said these words: “If you recognize me, you will know that I was the former prophet, Elijah.” The words were changed to Jesus saying: “If you recognize John you will know he was Elijah.” Any allusion to reincarnation was removed. The Orthodoxy opted for one life doctrine so it could cause an urgency for conversion to Roman Christianity. “If you believe in Me”, with the promise to be saved in one lifetime.

    The Mandaeans are called the true Gnostics by today’s historians, but they never were Gnostics, they were the Nazarites (Nazarenes). The Manichaeans splintered off of the Nazarites. As for Irenaeus being called Gnostic by Murdock, the reason for the Zodiac in the church at Lyons? is only because of the number 12 , as 12 hours of the day figures prominently in John’s healing method. Perhaps the 12 hours were changed to 12 Zodiac signs later in history because 12 hours makes no sense unless one understands Mandaean healing methods.

    As for Murdock’s statement that St. Augustine was a Mandaean, she meant St. Augustine had been a Mandaean who went into error when he became anti-Nazarite as a Manichaean. You have to understand how today’s Mandaaeans think. Any group that split from the teachings (Manda) since the time of Adam are former Mandaeans. That includes Abraham. The Nazarites had John the Baptist’s teachings because they were his people. The Manichaeans may have had some of the methods in the beginning, but since they were a splinter group, lost those teachings in a very short time.

    Other Gnostic sects that formed after John’s death were a mixed bag. Some were pacifist, others were aggressive. The aggressive groups stole information from passive groups and extinguishing them. The aggressive Gnostics eventually enforced their belief system over others and became dominant. It took 300 years to write a New Testament, hiding information about healing, and introducing aggressive Roman Christian values about being saved. Instead of being healed, people were indoctrinated into faith that they would be healed if they believed.

    There was no Jesus. Jesus is Latin for a Greek pseudonym IEOUS, which formerly meant magnetic North, South, East, West. I have read that IEOUS means “God Saves” in Greek. Magnetic North was simply written as a cross with a serpent draped over it. The Roman Catholic Church took at least 400 years to solidify? From John’s death, Nazarite understanding was extinguished, Gnostic beliefs in line with God worship and state power were the agenda, and finally sometime after St. Augustine, a Roman Catholic Church emerged as an ecclesiastical body so powerful that other contending groups had no strength, no voice. They dwindled and left for greater Europe where they could practice their devotions to John without being killed, away from Rome.

    Rome was responsible for burning the Alexandrian Library. Theophilus ordered it to be burned after Roman clerics copied texts and coveted them back to Rome. No doubt there was information from John that Rome wanted to torch. That was the final end for John’s teachings to reach the world. From then on, there was nothing valuable to learn from the ever growing, brutally powerful Roman Catholic Church. Now you see it today in all it’s corruption, just crumbling away.

  10. I wonder if all of the followers (in lack of a better name) of Acharya S really studied thoroughly about the theme of Christian Origins to defend with such certainty what they do. I have my doubts… One cannot just read Acharya S, and maybe other books related to astrotheology, and defend that this and that is more likely to be true because it seems to make sense. Yes, there are references to astronomy here and there in the gospels, but one can’t just rely on the gospels themselves to say Jesus is a solar god.

    Anyway, I am convinced that Acharya’s works are not persuasive, because they rely too much on speculation and lack of methodology. When I was almost finishing reading Christ in Egypt I realized that something was wrong. Even though she gathered a lot of information about the egyptian and christian religions, she lacked any means of making sense of the paralels. I mean, so what that Horus had twelve disciples? And that he was born in the summer solstice? That doesn’t mean anything to prove Jesus didn’t exist. And theeeen, a little while later, I read On the Historicity of Jesus, and met a really good book, with content and methodology.

    Acharya’s books have content, I agree. The so-called “primary souces” that she is proud to say. But they needed a proper methodology, and it might be because of this that she created a cult-like community: she focused mostly on the appeal of the content, giving the impression that they were enough. She always gave easy answers… “Jesus is the Sun because his first two disciples were fishermen” and so and so, which is really an appealing thing to say! It’s an appealing argument… Until you realize it is not.

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