The Chaldeans were part of a Semitic tribe that had its beginnings or origins in the Arab and were located in Mesopotamia. More precisely, their main settlement was in the southern part during the period before the common era, before the first millennium. Although it has not been determined exactly, linguistic studies have decreed that they were closely rooted with the Arameans. Their spatial location in the territory was further south than these Arameans, since they were located in the region that encompassed Syria and Mesopotamia.
Chaldean history only begins when all those tribes and cities joined together to form the state of Chaldea and Babylon, with the name of the first Chaldean-Babylonian empire, whose monarchs lived alternately in each of the four city-states, so the history of Chaldea is the history of Babylon. After valiantly resisting, Babylon reestablishes its independence in full Chaldean heritage. It was thus that when Babylon is conquered by the Persians, the Chaldeans are no longer an independent tribe or inheritance, but they become part of Babylonian society.
An oracle, as a general norm, represents the response that a divinity settled in a certain geographical place (Delphi, Dodona, Olympia, Didima, Claro, Oropo, Heliopolis and Hierapolis in Syria, the temple of Amun in the Libyan oasis of Sirah visited by Alexander the Great, etc.), it responds to the question of a devotee, who formulates the doubts he has to the god or divinities, in order to obtain an answer, and then he/she will condition his/her behaviour to its advice. Mithraism or the mysteries of Mithras must have been the advance in the East of these ideas of Iranian roots, and the Christianity, after absorbing apocalyptic Judaism, would take them up willingly.
The Chaldeans were at the time a mystery movement that was directed in Roman times by the two Julians. It will survive in the West and that we already found in the first third of the second century of our era. The Chaldeans constituted an initiation group led by their hierophants, (gr. priests) who initiated in the mysteries, as practitioners of rites and preservers of doctrines, indicated by oral and physical symbols, of a traditional nature, that is, from a divine origin and regularly pierced, in order to possess an efficacious or theurgic character. This type of mystery association is related in its liturgical aspect and in the fundamental points of its beliefs with the Anatolian magicians (magoi) of Medo-Persian origin, once its doctrine was configured cosmographically by the astral science of the Babylonian clergy.
The magoi worship the divinities and taught precepts regarding the regimen of life; they were theurgists, faithful, above all things, to observe, and sure of the efficacy of their prayers; and jointly theologians, students of the nature of the gods and of cosmology. Both disciplines, astrology or magic, and astronomy, notoriously accredit in antiquity the existence of fate, which exists even for the unbelievers. For the Greeks, the magicians have dealings with the daimones (demons or spirits) and cry out to them for what they want and desire. And they maintain their effects as long as something more divine and stronger than the demons and the spell that invokes them does not appear or burst forth.
In Classical literature of the Greek and Roman times, it refers to the sibyls, girls who, in a state of inspiration, cast extraordinary prophecies, the best known were those of Eritrea and Cumae, so this type of oracle was not strange, and a few Roman writers have noted the prowess of the Chaldeans as Babylonian astrologers and mathematicians. This indicates that their work and role in Babylonian society was prominent and important. A collection of these Sibylline Oracles, composed in Greek hexameters, was kept in Rome, destroyed in 405 BC., and once again restored the corpus by Octavio Cesar Augusto, who accepted the ancient custom of officially consulting them in times of crisis. But if Plutarch of Chaeronea managed to write a work on The Disappearance of the Oracles, in which he shows the reasons for the cessation of many of them in Greece, Porphyry, a Phoenician by birth and upbringing, will expand those that proliferated in the Near East.
The word Chaldean, by then, refers to the inhabitants of lower Mesopotamia and later to members of the Babylonian priesthood. Thus in the course of the Achaemenid period, in Quintus Curtius' History of Alexander the Great, in the official processions of Babylon, the Magi (the Persian priests) came first, and after them the Chaldeans (the local priests) .
«The Magi followed him, singing hymns (...) and these
Chaldeans, and with them the Diviners, and the Musicians of Babylon, all playing
various instruments. These are used to singing the praises of the King, as well as
the Chaldeans to observe the movement of the stars, and the regular changes of the
time» Book V. History of Alexander the Great (S. I)
With this prop as its origin, the word was also used as an honorary title for the Greeks who had been trained in Babylon and who proclaimed themselves disciples of the Babylonians, who carried out astronomical studies in the temple-observatories that the Greeks admired and took part in them. It was synonymous with chatterboxes who tried to predict the future through the stars.
The source that has collected this negative interpretation is Sextus Empiricus, but the meaning, product of a great rooting of Chaldeans as magicians and astrologers, is even kept by the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae database, and is the one taken into account by the scholar H.D. Saffrey (1999). Hippolytus of Rome in Elenchos IV, 1-27 and 28, relatively, distinguishes them in the exposition, however, he approaches them by their goal, since while judicial astrology forecasts future events, natural astrology divines natural phenomena and so on. It is kindred to rites and magical operations.
Literature about the Chaldeans.
But we do not keep texts in the form of answers or predictions, since their esotericism and interests went much further. It is a revelation of knowledge.
Julian the Theurgist exposes the Oracles that his father, Julian the Chaldean, collected, increases them and writes them down. The organized movement of the Chaldeans, which under the dual paternity or prerogative of both Julians will remain in Westeros, was already in the first third of the second century AD. The Chaldeans were organized both in an initiatory community commanded by their hierophants, -in this specific process Juliano the Chaldean-, as more solitary practitioners of rites and continuation of beliefs, marked by oral signs (versified formulas) and physical signs, of an ancestral nature, namely, from a divine origin and transferred, to be able to acquire an effective or theurgical temper. This archetype of mystery association is twinned in its ritual aspect and in the fundamental points of its ideals (worship of fire and exploration of its different forms or manifestations of its power; admission of a divinity of virgin fertility: Anâhitâ, who girds the waist to discover the attributes of her superior femininity; Artemis, with her hunting hounds, or Hecate, who keeps all these gifts in the shade and discovers new ones; acceptance of the transmission of her teaching and rites within a closed community; fundamental importance given to the conviction in the ascent of the spirit to heaven) with the Anatolian magicians (magoi) of Medo-Persian origin, once their scientific erudition was configured cosmographically by the astral of the Babylonian clergy. Julian the Chaldean is not an isolated personality nor the initiator of the Oracles, but the spiritual pasture of a mysterious community that shows its doctrine and fulfills its rites. They are not, therefore, divinations, but universal and doctrinal explanations loaded with mysticism that justify astrological and ritual practices.
Composition of the Chaldean cosmos.
Before giving way to the oracular texts, it is necessary to make a brief exposition of the Chaldean perception of the world, of the universe:
They divide the universe, the body of the universal soul, into seven spheres, embraced by the Sphere of the fixed spheres, attentive to the cosmological order that was introduced through Chaldean theology. The fixed spheres are the different worlds that divide reality and that, according to the Chaldeans, come from the Father.
The worlds are made up of different elements: one of fire that corresponds to the solar sphere, three have Ether with representations of three spheres of planets, which are Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, and three materials that correspond to the planets Venus and Mercury, and our planet's satellite, the Moon. In the center is the Earth and in this way it is located in the center of all the spheres, omphalós (navel) of the system, and the Sun is the organic or vital center.
Also the godess Hecate is very important, who represents the Soul of the Universe, the axis figure of the Caldaic theological and ritual system, who is an intermediary between the sovereignly transcendent and the cosmos, for which she occupies the hypercosmic region, which is immediately above the world. Hecate, as a virginal mother, is fertile, she is a source of vitality, but she does not have generative organs with which she can obtain offspring.
It should be clear, after this exposition, that the Chaldean oracles are not -we repeat- visions of the future, not even of the past, they are expositions of superior knowledge about the universe, which is what allows the understanding of everything through its signs and study.
«There is an intelligible reality that you must understand by the flower of the intellect, because if you incline your intellect towards it and try to conceive it as a certain object, you will not understand it, since it is like the power of a resplendent sword that illuminates with intellective cuts. Tend towards the Intelligible an empty intellect.» Fragment 1.
Here the oracle is addressed to the initiates or initiate announcing that, by purifying the etheric body and paying attention to the soul and intellect around its triadic constitution (which is explained in the following fragment) the manifestation of the divine is possible, below the characteristic of a luminous return, thanks to the triadic power completely, which keeps it invisible in the sacred symbols.
«For the paternal Intellect expresses that all things would be divided into three, ruling them all by the Intellect of the ever [very first Father], although he had not indicated his will with a head sign, and all things were already divided». Fragment 22.
Every stem is triple due to its functional composition, as is the Intellect that governs them. Thinking, wanting and existing coincide in the divine act and thus spreads in products. It is about the ideal triad, constitutive of each archetype and that follows in relation to the model manifests itself as a measure in each particular being.
«For Power is with Him, but Intellect proceeds from Him.» Fragment 4.
Here it is affirmed without equivocation which is the transcendent character of the Father or supreme God, differentiating himself from his intellective Power. The Chaldean affirmations are very numerous. Distinctions, furthermore, appear earlier among the Gnostics.
« Well, like an intellective membrane girded from below, (Hecate) divides a first fire and a second fire that long to combine.» Fragment 6.
The soul of the universe (= Hecate), by cognitively adjusting the hyper-cosmic world, prevents the "beyond unitarily" and the "beyond dually" from being confused, so that they can fulfill their activity as cosmic guides with respect to the universe. The paternal monad is another designation for the divine power, since the Father's monad is the act of conception of the Good. The oracle would then announce the Father as identical with the Good and his self-conception as a monad.
«The paternal Intellect carried by indestructible leaders that shine in an indomitable way through furrows of unyielding fire». Fragment 36.
Here the Oracle explains the firm movement without deviations of the stars that maintain the order indicated by the Intellect. Therefore, astrology was justified as part of a revelation of the divinity, who has everything perfectly measured, destined, and therefore, it is ascertainable with a good study and research work.
Fragment 37 is the longest of the preserved Chaldean texts because it provides the doctrine of the Oracles about their ideas, their origin and their manifestation.
«The Intellect, which is the container thought of the ideas as the intrinsic intelligible, illuminates with energies when discovered and understood, a fact that has been made possible by the knowledge, and decision of the Father who rested in his bosom, origin of all multiple generation . Everything springs (ekthrṓskein) from the Father, unique source, and its two immediate emanations are: a) the triadic mysteries of self-conception in which his Will as Father is present; b) intellectual self-generation.
The ideas in the Intellect are intelligible and intellective, they are the object and the subject that is understanding it, and in this way they operate as models for the world» Fragment 37
«On the side of admirable love, which first sprouted from the Intellect having clothed itself with fire that is linked with the fire (of the Intellect), to mix the krater-fountains putting in them the flower of its fire». Fragment 42.
In this text, which we do not have complete and we do not know how it began, shows that the tie of Love, which distinguishes and unites ideas, is also in the first place of the Intellect to perform the same function uniting the intelligible fire with the inferior . In this way it gives rise to the flower of fire that is handled in the powers of the universe. For the Chaldeans, fire, or Holy Fire as they conceive it, love, is the most powerful energy that the Father has. They also conceive it dually divided as intelligible and immaterial or sensible and material fire.
After knowing both the Chaldean Oracles and the initiatory rites of these Medo-Persian magoi, all this brings with it knowing about the oracles in ancient times, keeping in mind that they revealed things of the future, when in reality it is about something much more laborious and spiritual, as a way of understanding the world, at least in the circles that imbibed Babylonian art, which was taken as superior, ancestral and master, and the importance that a result could have, not revealing a personal destiny, but a universal one and immutable. Since ancient times, human beings have always been interested in knowing what can happen to them, but we have a slightly more complete idea of what a revelation is thanks to what we have studied here. For this reason, it would be very difficult to reveal the horoscope of the different zodiacal signs, or to know future events through the Tarot cards, which seems that, if it ever comes a little closer to what happens to us or not, we affirm that they are surely coincidences given in people's lives, forgetting that everything also depends on the disposition of the person to events and their interpretation of them within their personal worldview.
Ignacio Povedano Selfa - firstname.lastname@example.org
-García Bazán, F. Oráculos Caldeos con una selección de
testimonios de Proclo, Pselo y M. Itálico, Editorial Gredos, Madrid 1991.
-Mata, Arturo, Ángeles y demonios en la magia caldea,
-Stow, Robert. G. Los Oráculos Caldeos, Madrid 2005.