Tech UPTechnologyThe planets influence us... but not as you think

The planets influence us… but not as you think

The enlightened Montesquieu said that astrology was a proud extravagance: “we believe that our actions are important enough to deserve to be written in the great book of heaven.” However, it is this belief that has turned celestial phenomena such as eclipses or planetary conjunctions into triggers of historical events.

Thus, one of the best-known stories of World War II is that the Nazi leaders made their decisions based on astrological predictions . However, the rigorous work of the British historian Ellic Howe has shown that the Nazi hierarchs did not take into account the relative positions of the planets in the sky to make any important decisions. There is only one exception: the case of Rudolf Hess, number three in the party after Hitler and Göring.

It all started in full confrontation with England, when Hitler began planning the invasion of Russia. A decision that his generals feared would lead to disaster by opening a second front in Europe. Hess thought that England would sign a secret peace agreement with Germany and decided to fly there secretly. In January 1941, Ernst Schulte-Strathaus, an amateur astrologer on Hess’s staff, told him that on May 10 there would be a planetary conjunction: the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus would occupy an arc of only 8º in Taurus -more or less the one that includes our fist with the extended arm-. On the other hand, an astrologer from Munich named Maria Nagengaast told Hess that this would be an auspicious day for traveling abroad . The rest is history: Hess’s peace terms seemed like a joke to Churchill who detained him as a prisoner of war. To Hitler, Hess had gone mad because of the astrologers. On June 9, the Gestapo, in the operation called Aktion Hess , arrested between 300 and 1,000 astrologers who ended up in the infamous Nazi death camps.

Planetary conjunctions also had their effect on the greatest conqueror of all time, Genghis Khan, also one of the greatest genocides in history: 20 million dead behind his back. The Mongols often looked to the sky, where they saw omens and omens : the campaign against the people of the Chinese province of Honan stopped on May 21, 1221 due to an eclipse of the Sun. The celestial obsession of this people was such that Years later, Marco Polo counted more than 5,000 astrologers and fortune tellers in the Mongolian capital alone.

In March 1226, Genghis Khan returned from his campaigns in Central Asia in style, and his next step was to declare war on the Tangut empire in northwest China. After defeating them in December, he ordered his soldiers to exterminate the entire Tangut race. On December 12, the five planets visible to the naked eye (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) were concentrated in an arc of 31º in Capricorn. His astrologer interpreted the conjunction as a sign from heaven against such barbarism . The emperor obeyed and although the order was not carried out throughout the conquered territory, at least the planets were responsible for the salvation of 100,000 innocent people. The war continued until the summer of 1227 and the massacres resumed. Genghis Khan died in August after a short illness, but his death was kept secret. In fact, the Tangut emperor Li Xiàn unknowingly surrendered to the corpse of the Mongol hidden in his tent.

Planetary conjunctions have heralded dire situations , such as floods and deluges. On September 14, 1186, the 5 planets met within 11 degrees of each other, with the Moon and Sun less than 3 degrees apart. The Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church Bar-Hebraeus wrote: “All astronomers predict that there will be a universal flood and that all mankind may perish. Kilij Arslan II, Sultan of Rüm (Anatolia, Turkey) has bought into this nonsense. He has spent large sums from digging up the ground and building a house inside it”. But no other conjunction has caused more panic than that of February 19, 1524, when the 5 planets and the Sun were concentrated in Pisces. The first to warn of the imminent disaster was the German astrologer Johann Stöffler in 1499. His professional colleagues took him at his word and spent the following years amplifying his predictions, turning it into a new Universal Flood. Thousands of pamphlets were distributed, the most widely used means of communication at the time, and more than 160 books were printed: it was a publishing boom. There were those who built an ark in the style of Noah. The court astrologer in Berlin, Johann Carion, set the day of the trial for July 15, 1524 .

Something similar happened with the famous alignment of 1982, with the 9 planets placed on the other side of the Sun at an angle of 90º: we had a great catastrophe just around the corner. Even two astrophysicists, John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann, published in 1974 The Jupiter Effect where they said that the combined gravitational effect of the planets would cause a super earthquake that would destroy California . What actually happened is that the book became a best-seller and the authors made huge profits.

The only influence of the planets on human history has to do with how much we want to believe that they influence us . The same happens with one of the most spectacular phenomena in the heavens: the solar eclipse. The most famous happened during the war between Lydians and Medes in 585 BC. C. Darkness fell in the midst of the battle and both sides decided to seek peace.

The founder of Islam also had his back and forth with eclipses. Although Muslim theology does not accept it, popular tradition says that the Prophet’s birth in 570 was heralded by an eclipse. The Prophet’s son, Ibrahim, tragically died on January 22, 632 and interestingly there was also an eclipse on that day . Some Meccans saw it as a sign from God, but Muhammad corrected them by saying, “The Sun and the Moon are signs from God and are not eclipsed by the death or birth of any man.” A third eclipse related to Muhammad happened 39 years after his death. Mu’awiyah took control of the empire after his revolution against the cousin of the prophet – second convert and son-in-law of Muhammad – ‘Ali. The first caliph of the Umayyad dynasty decided to take Muhammad’s pulpit from Medina to Damascus , but during the transfer the sky was darkened by an eclipse. He interpreted it as a sign of divine displeasure and left it in Medina, where it is kept as a symbol of Mu’awiyah’s mistake.

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