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Open letter to science editors



The Planetary Order Revealed in
The Book of the Secrets of Enoch
Alban Wall

The Book of the Secrets of Enoch has been established as having been written sometime shortly after 330 B.C. (See my article in HORUS, Vol. 1, No. 1). The document contains interesting bits and fragments of scientific lore that tells us a good deal about the level of astronomical knowledge attained by ancient watchers of the sky. In Chapter XXX, verses 4 and 5, the following information is revealed:

4. On the first uppermost circle I [God] placed the stars, Kruno, and on the second Aphrodit, on the third Aris, on the fifth Zeus, on the sixth Ermis, on the seventh lesser the moon, and adorned it with the lesser stars.
5. And on the lower I placed the sun for the illumination of the day, and the moon and stars for the illumination of night.

It is generally conceded that the term "stars", as used in the first line of verse 4, refers not to stars but to the sun, moon and certain of the planets. It will be noted that the fourth circle is not mentioned in the list. Because of information found elsewhere in the book, which I cannot detail here, it is my opinion that omission of that circle does not indicate a missing or unlisted planet.

In the following set of tabulations I have attempted an analysis, based on an identification of the named "stars", and on certain planetary aspects, to determine any plausible order in the list as given. In the 1st column of Table I are listed the names of the celestial bodies as they appear in the book. Column 2 is a matching list giving the commonly accepted modern names of those bodies.

In columns 3, 4, 5 and 6, employing certain physical criteria, I have numerically ranked the five planets that are listed in column 2 in the attempt to uncover whatever planetary order the author may have used in setting out his list.

Based on clear evidence found within the book and elsewhere, that ancient astronomers considered the sun and moon as belonging in a distinct and special category, I have omitted these two bodies from the analysis and dealt only with the actual visible planets.

Col. 3 - the planets are ranked in order of apparent magnitude, from the brightest to the least bright.
Col. 4 - the planets are ranked in order of their distance from the sun, from the most distant to the closest.
Col. 5 - the planets are ranked in order of their distance from the earth, from the most distant to the closest.
Col. 6 - the planets are ranked in order of the degree of the inclination of their orbits to the ecliptic, from the greatest to the smallest inclination.
Table I

Name as Listed Classical
from Sun
from Earth
to Ecliptic
1. Kruno Saturn 5 1 1 3
2. Aphrodit Venus 1 4 5 2
3. Aris Mars 3 3 4 4
4. Zeus Jupiter 2 2 2 5
5. Ermis Mercury 4 5 3 1

In studying the four columns 3 through 6 it seems apparent that, based on the physical criteria employed in arriving at them, no clear and distinct order exists in the way the planets have been listed in the book. Table H, which contains four paired lists matching the planetary order as given by Enoch with the planetary order obtained separately for each criterion used, further highlights the apparent disarray. For example, column 1 shows that based on the apparent brightness of the planets, Kruno would be identifiable as Venus, Aphrodit as Jupiter and so on. If we reverse the order of the planets in column 1, that is, list them from the least bright to the most bright, we would then have Kruno correctly identified as Saturn, but Aphrodit would be Mercury and Ermis would be Venus, which is unacceptable. The same difficulty exists when the planetary order in each of the three remaining columns is reversed.

Table II

from Sun
from Earth
to Ecliptic
Kruno 1.Venus 1. Saturn 1. Saturn 1. Mercury
Aphrodit 2. Jupiter 2. Jupiter 2. Jupiter 2. Venus
Aris 3. Mars 3. Mars 3. Mercury 3. Saturn
Zeus 4. Mercury 4. Venus 4. Mars 4. Mars
Ermis 5. Saturn 5. Mercury 5. Venus 5. Jupiter

I do not think we would be justified in accepting the apparent disorder of the matchups in all four columns as proof of an actual dislocation, at some point in time, of the planetary orbits themselves. And from what we have already learned about the observational capabilities of ancient astronomers (see HORUS Vol. 1, No. 1), it would be equally rash to conclude that the planetary list in the Book of the Secrets of Enoch was an ignorant or random arrangement. A solution to the problem is available, and the clue to finding it lies in disengaging ourselves from our modern perspective and looking at the situation from the viewpoint of those ancient skywatchers. I think, that, perhaps overly influenced by what we have already learned of their remarkable accomplishments in observational astronomy, we may have a tendency to attribute to ancient scientists a degree of capability that really may have been beyond them. There is, for example, perhaps no justification in crediting them with the ability to have discovered the correct order of planetary distances (let alone the absolutes expressed in so many units of measure). All we reasonably can expect of them in this regard is to have been able, by use of the simple visual methods and techniques available to them, to have noted and tabulated an apparent order of planetary distances. And this could have come about in the following way.

The five planets listed by Enoch can be divided into two significant categories:

  1. Superior planets - those who orbits around the sun lie entirely outside the orbit of earth.
  2. Inferior planets - those who orbits around the sun lie entirely inside the orbit of earth.

The superior planets are Saturn (Kruno), Jupiter (Zeus) and Mars (Aris).

The inferior planets are Venus (Aphrodit) and Mercury (Ermis).

By observing that the inferior planets never completed the full 360 degree east to west circuit of the earth, but instead periodically rose to a maximum altitude above the horizon (47 degrees for Venus and must less for Mercury), from which they again declined, we can reasonably assume that ancient astronomers eventually came to realize, correctly, that this fact indicated that the inferior planets were much closer to the sun than the three superior planets whose orbits, by contrast, regularly took them across the local meridian and completely around the earth. But it would be an impossibility, from visual observation alone, for them to have correctly determined the relative distances of the planets. Without the sophisticated instruments and methods available to modern scientists (who with them have been able to catalogue the absolute distances of the heavenly bodies), the correct order of planetary distances would perhaps never be known. Any attempt by ancient astronomers to arrive at such a determination would merely have ended up in educated guesswork. Yet when we examine the list as given in the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, it would seem clear, that, in this case at least, it does represent the tabulated result of just such an attempt. Note that Kruno is correctly listed as being, of the five planets considered, on the "uppermost" circle. A synonym for uppermost is highest. Also, Ermis is stated as being placed on the lowest circle, again a correct placement. But by what method of visual observation alone could they have arrive at these conclusions? I now present what I believe to be the probable way by which the planetary listing in the Book of the Secrets of Enoch was derived.

[*!* Image: Figure 1: Relative orbits of the planets. LABELS: Sun; Mercury; Venus; Earth; Mars; Jupiter; Saturn]

Declination differences

It is a fact of spherical trigonometry, as applied to the study of celestial motions, that a superior planet will, at certain times, be north or south of the sun by an angular amount that is equal to the sum of the maximum declination values of both. Such situations occur when the planet reaches opposition (being directly on the other side of the earth from the sun and in a direct line with it), on the day of summer or winter solstice, as shown in Figure 2.

[*!* Image: Figure 2: Diagram of declination difference between the Sun and a planet at opposition. LABELS: Declination difference = 23.5 + 23.5 = 47. Equator (Equinix); Earth; Planet. Sun].

A common and striking example of the phenomenon occurs with the winter solstice sun setting in the southwest while at the same time a full moon is rising in the northeast, the declination of the sun being 23.5 degrees south and that of the moon being 29 degrees north, the declination difference between the two bodies being the sum of both declinations or 52.5 degrees.

Declination and the superior planets

In the case of the three superior planets included in our analysis, the one which attains the greatest declination difference between itself and the sun is Saturn, the next in order being Mars and, finally, Jupiter.

  1. Saturn (Kruno) - ca 49, 30'
  2. Mars (Aris) - ca 48, 51'
  3. Jupiter (Zeus) - ca 48, 19'

Because the orbits of the inferior planets lie inside the orbit of earth, those bodies cannot reach opposition, and the facts of spherical trigonometry limit the maximum declination difference between either body and the sun to a value that is less than the maximum declination of the sun itself, namely, 23.5 degrees.

A complete listing based on the criteria of maximum declination differences possible between the sun and each planet is:

  1. Saturn (Kruno)
  2. Mars (Aris)
  3. Jupiter (Zeus)
  4. Venus (Aphrodit)
  5. Mercury (Ermis)

Each of the three superior planets will cross the local meridian at maximum declination in the indicated order, with Saturn crossing furthest north (or south). If in north latitudes we consider the north celestial pole as being "up", as in common parlance it generally is, then we might say that in its periodic crossing of the celestial sphere Saturn, Kruno, moves along the "uppermost" circle. On a "lower" circle moves Mars, Axis, and, though its actual distance is more than three times as great as that of Mars, the planet Jupiter, Zeus, crosses the heavenly vault on a "lower" circle still. This can be diagrammed as follows:

[*!* Image: Figure 3: Relative maximum declinations of the planets. [The inferior planets do not transit the celestial sphere but remain close to the sun at all times. They are shown here as "evening stars"] LABELS: Saturn; Mars; Jupiter; Venus; Mercury; Sun; Horizon; Celestial equator]

Due to the curvature of the earth which causes the horizon to "drop away" to the north or to the south of the observer's position, declination values of celestial bodies are magnified at times of rising and setting to a degree that varies with the observer's latitude. On the day of summer solstice, for example, at latitude 40 degrees north, the sun, with a declination of 23.5 degrees north, has an amplitude (angular distance north of east) of about 32 degrees, an increase factor of some 36%. Such an amplitude exaggeration would make the angular distances between the maximum rising or setting points of the planets much more easily discernible to anyone making a regular study and observation of them.

Horizon reference

That ancient astronomers made use of the horizon as a natural and convenient reference scale for measuring and correlating movements of the heavenly bodies is a well-attested fact. In numerous articles in HORUS and KRONOS dealing with Stonehenge as a luni-solar calendar, 1 have amply demonstrated that the horizon-marking method was the principal system used in setting up the sunmoon calendar device that the site represented. By noting the maximum setting (or rising) points of the planets along that scale, and thereby the relative degree to which each, in its separate celestial journey, "wandered away" from the sun, the astronomers erroneously deduced that the order thus derived represented the correct relative distances of the planets.

[*!* Image: Figure 4: Relative maximum amplitudes of the Sun and the planets at setting. LABELS: Western Horizon. Sun; Mercury; Venus; Jupiter; Mars; Saturn].

What they were actually dealing with, however, were what are referred to in modern astronomical terms as parallels of declination, circles on the celestial sphere running east to west parallel to the celestial equator (equininoctial) and corresponding to terrestrial parallels of latitude. These coordinates define a star or planet's position on the celestial sphere north or south of the equinoctial, and it is clear that these are the "heavenly circles" discussed by Enoch in his astronomical dissertation. What he stated, in effect, was that the planets, in their cyclic movements upon the celestial sphere, Kruno (Saturn) attained the highest parallel of declination ("first uppermost circle"), Aphrodit (Venus) the second circle, Aris (Mars) the third circle, etc.

The order in the diagrams showing the relative maximum declinations (or amplitudes) reached by the planets, matches that as given in the list in the Book of the Secrets of Enoch - with one obvious and glaring exception. Venus (Aphrodit) is clearly out of place. (Adherents of the Velikovskian theory of planetary catastrophism may draw from this whatever they are able.) It is not plausible to conclude that such misplacement is either an observational error on the part of the ancient astronomers, or a reporting error on the part of Enoch. From the standpoint of celestial mechanics, either of two possibilities could account for the fact that, in the Enoch listing, Venus has been assigned to a position between Saturn and Mars:

  1. At the time the observations were made, Venus was a superior planet, its orbit lying outside that of earth.
  2. In that era, the orbit of Venus was much more inclined to the ecliptic than it is at present (3 24') perhaps being as much as 75 or 80 degrees in tilt. Such an inclination would result in much larger declination values for the planet at times of its rising and setting.*
[* For complementary material bearing on the subject of possible significant anomalies in the orbital movements of Venus, I refer the reader to articles by Charles Raspil in Vol. I, Nos. 1 and 2 of HORUS.]

Thus the determination of the planetary order in the book of The Secrets of Enoch, based on the declination maxima, is in contrast to early Babylon, Greek, and Egyptian arrangements which, deviating considerably from actual planetary distances, obviously were set up purely to serve astrological and numerological considerations. In time a planetary scale emerged which was generally accepted as indicative of a true geocentric order of distances.

In any case, the sequence in the Secrets of Enoch shows convincingly that the celestial information contained in it was gathered strictly by observations of the rising and setting of the various heavenly bodies along the horizon, the identical method to that employed by the ancient astronomers at Stonehenge.

[*!* Image. Figure 5: Stonehenge as a data gathering observatory. Schematic diagram showing how the site was ideally suited to observing, measuring and correlating the movements of various celestial bodies. The rising points within the Stonehenge Avenue of the Sun, Moon, and the three superior planets at their maximum northerly declination is as indicated. LABELS: North Bank; Moon; Horizon; Saturn; Mars; Jupiter; Sun; Avenue; South Bank; Azimuths; Heelstone; Aubrey Hole. East.]

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