Nick Campion's primary interest is the way in which human beings align themselves with the cosmos. He became interested in the stars as a child, and his concern with religion took him to a fascination with their perceived meanings. While an undergraduate at Cambridge in 1973 he read that astrology had been part of the medieval university curriculum. When he asked his tutors about this, he was told it was irrelevant. So Nick set out to understand what exactly it was that medieval astrologers were teaching. He became fascinated by the question of what astrology is and what astrologers do, philosophically, sociologically, spiritually and politically.
Nick is known for his fascination with the uses of astrology to study history, and to understand and manage political affairs, another aspect of medieval astrology, which resulted in his two classic books from the 1980s, Mundane Astrology and the Book of World Horoscopes. He is also interested in the boundary between scepticism and belief, and the social construction of knowledge. He describes the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology as dealing with any way in which people use the sky as a backdrop for their lives – in the arts or sciences, religion or politics, and cosmology, astronomy or astrology. He has also taught historical theory and practice, the history of magic and the occult, sociology of religion, and New Age and pagan thought at undergraduate level.
Nick Campion is head of the Sophia Centre, at the University of Lampeter Wales, and the course director of the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology. His most recent book is The Dawn of Astrology: a cultural history of western astrology Vol. 1, the ancient and classical worlds (London: Continuum 2008). Nick is also on the faculty of Kepler College.
Nick’s books include The Great Year: Astrology, Millenarianism and History in the Western Tradition (London: Penguin, 1994), Astrology, History and Apocalypse (London, Centre for Psychological Astrology, 2002), What do Astrologers Believe? (Oxford: Granta, 2006), and his two-volume cultural history of western astrology, The Dawn of Astrology (London: Continuum 2008) The Golden Age of Astrology (London: Continuum 2009) and, forthcoming Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions (New York: New York University Press, 2011) and A Historical Dictionary of Astrology (Lanham: Scarecrow 2011).
The Dawn of Astrology: A Cultural History of Western Astrology - The Ancient and Classical Worlds
Recent surveys indicate that up to 70% of Britons check their horocopes. The BBC's The Sky at Night is one of the longest continually broadcast programmes in history, and we are constantly dazzled by new images from the Hubble telescope, visions of space from Hollywood, and musings on what is 'out there' in modern literature.
This is the first comprehensive examination of astrology's origins and examines the foundations of a major feature of popular culture in the contemporary west, one which has its origins in the ancient world. Campion explores the relationship between astrology and religion, magic and science, and explores its use in politics and the arts in fascinating and readable fashion.
The book's scope and depth is greater than any other comparable text. Beginning with theories of the origins of religion in sun-worship, it spans the period between the first Palaeolithic lunar counters around 30,000 BC and the end of the classical world and rise of Christianity. Campion challenges the idea that astrology was invented by the Greeks, and asks whether its origins lie in Near Eastern religion, or whether it can be considered a decadent Eastern import to the West. He considers the evidence for reverence for the stars in Neolithic culture, Mesopotamian astral divination, Egyptian stellar religion, and examines attitudes to astrology and celestial prophecy in the Bible. He considers such artefacts as the mysterious, fifteen-thousand year-old 'Venus of Lauselle', the latest theories on Stonehenge as a sacred observatory, Greek theories of the ascent of the soul to the stars and the Roman emperor Nero's use of astrology to persecute his rivals.
The second volume will be published as The Golden Age of Astrology.It is due to be released in May, 2009.
The Dawn of Astrology
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The Book of World Horoscopes
In Hellenistic astrology, monarchs might 'elect' a 'katarche', select a suitable moment to begin their rule. Or astrologers might retrospectively analyse the 'katarche', the inception of a new historical enterprise. This book is a collection of such moments for every country in the modern world. The introduction raises the philosophical issue, inherent in astrological technique but rarely dealt with in debate, as to whether astrology genuinely insists that the time at which an event takes place is relevant to the astrological analysis of that event.
All astrologers will remain indebted to Nick Campion for his Herculean efforts in researching and presenting such dependable and informative material, which has not only aided our research, but hopefully made our judgments more reliable too.
Deborah Houlding, 2004
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Evelyn Roberts, D.F.Astrol.S.