MA Cultural Astronomy and Astrology
Online Open Day Saturday 13 December

The MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology is a unique course which deals with the ways in which human beings attribute meaning to the planets, stars and sky, and construct cosmologies which provide the basis for culture and society.

This unique MA, taught by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, brings together a global community of scholars and students. The Open Day, chaired by Dr Nicholas Campion, is an opportunity for you to encounter some of the material of the MA while actually visiting our Online Campus. 

This half day event consists of four online seminars as well as a general introduction to the MA’s programme. Apart from listening to the presentation you will have a chance to meet some of the tutors and ask questions.  

The presentations are:

The Soul and the Horoscope – reflections of an ethnographer

Dr Bernadette Brady

Dr. Bernadette Brady
Qualitative research, which includes collecting the beliefs and opinions of others, can offer insights into what would largely be considered unanswerable questions. One of the insights gained from my fieldwork with astrologers was the perceived relationship between the soul and the horoscope. How these astrologers understood this relationship had profound consequences for both the astrologer and the nature of the astrology they practiced. This presentation offers these findings and thus provides a snap shot of astrology in our contemporary culture.

The 'Madonna of the Zodiac' as the visual intersection of astrology, theology and cartography in the fifteenth century

Dr Darrelyn Gunzburg

Dr Darrelyn Gunzburg
This presentation focuses on the cultural role of astrology in fifteenth-century religious cosmology through the lens of two particular pieces of art, the two images of the ‘Madonna of the Zodiac’ painted by Cosmè Tura (c.1431–1495). The central question applied to these pieces is: What were the astrological and theological circumstances of the mid-fifteenth century in which these two images of the 'Madonna of the Zodiac' came to be painted and what do the two paintings tell us about the religious-astrological tradition and its reception in the mid-fifteenth century.

Materializing Skyscapes: from prehistory to the modern world

Dr Fabio Silva

Dr. Fabio Silva
When one looks up to the sky one doesn't experience the objective, mechanical and geometrical sky of modern astronomy; one experiences the sun, moon and stars in a very subjective and meaningful way that relates directly to one's culture – i.e. one experiences it as a “skyscape”. All human societies engage with it, in one way or another, and since late prehistory some have tried to materialize it in the structures they built and associated rituals and belief systems. This talk will look at some of those structures – from megalithic passage graves to modern-day Manhattanhenge – and explore how they reveal a deep connection to the cosmos.

Grand Conjunctions in Medieval Astrology – The Rabbi, the Pope and the Black Death

Christ Mitchell, MA

Christ Mitchell, MA
Many of the astrological texts available to us from the medieval period are essentially textbooks full of hard and fast rules that do not provide insight into the practice of astrology. One remarkable astrologer, mathematician, theologian, philosopher and rabbi - Levi ben Gerson – does provide this insight. He wrote a report, apparently for the Pope, about a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction of 1345 that grants us a rare insight into the workings of a fourteenth century astrologer. This presentation looks at those techniques, and shows how assumptions by historians can skew the perspective that we have today of medieval astrology.

The image in the top banner is from the Book of Miracles by Borchert, Till-Holger, Joshua P. Waterman, and Rebekka Elsässer. Köln: Taschen, 2013.