The Sky without Stars (2)

Exploring Titus Burckhardt’s “Mystical Astrology According to Ibn ‘Arabi” continued:

We have discussed the expansion and contraction of the planetary spheres from a metaphysical standpoint. It is also possible to approach the sky without stars from a geometrical standpoint. This will be useful as we will later be looking more closely at number and space. To say that the towers or signs of the zodiac are undifferentiated and at the same time differentiated from one another seems a contradiction. But this is exactly what they are.

Place two geometrical figures before your mind’s eye. The first is a triangle, which we will later see is very closely connected with the directive qualities of the signs (cardinal, fixed and mutable). The second figure is a square, which is closely connected to another spatial quality, the elementary (hot, cold, moist and dry). If each of these forms enclose the same area they are quantitatively equivelant but qualitatively unique. One form cannot be confused with another, they are differentiated and well defined. Now imagine that the corners of each of these figures extend into infinity. What happens? Their uniqueness becomes indefinite, they both merge into unity.


The towers or the signs of the zodiac “behave” in a similar way. They are at once definite and indefinite. The directive or elemental qualities are unified, only through their activation do they become revealed or manifest.

I think it should be clear now that the origin of the twelve signs of the zodiac is other than generally thought. It is a common (mis-)understanding that the signs, as accepted now by consensus, are the cumulative product of the mythical consciousness of overly imaginative nomads who looked up at the sky millenia ago…

But the signs are not derivatives of the constellations. They are not even visible. On the contrary, we may have to explore whether the constellations, all 88+ of them, have their source in the sky without stars.*

* This opens a whole arena of questions, such as, “How then are all of the constellations in the sky of the fixed stars related to the twelve towers in the sky without stars?” or, “Why aren’t there 88 towers?” This will of course have to be attended to in a later essay dealing with the sky of the fixed stars. For the moment let us say that the number twelve is not a chance happening.

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