Astrological Origins of the Clock

clock picLet us think about the old-fashioned clock for a moment. A clock is a device that tells time in a very simple manner, with one arrow that steadily moves around a circle and points to the hour of the day. Another longer arrow points out the minutes accrued within that hour of the day.  It is a thing that is beautiful in its simplicity and practicality while also having a symbolic value. The clock could really count to any number, but it happens to count to 12.  It is made a certain way. The way in which the clock is designed clearly implies that it was designed by Astrologers, as it works within their unique system of units and measurements. We have 12 hours set up in the day, and 60 minutes within each hour. Further, there are 60 seconds within each minute.  This is how it has come to be in modern times.

The clock just happens to have two main arrows or “hands”, just like how we have two main lights or markers in the sky, the Sun and Moon. The shorter and slower moving hand is the one that indicates the hour of the day. The longer hand indicates the minute of the hour, and together they tell the current time. The shorter hand is like a symbol for the Sun, and the longer hand is like the Moon. The Moon moves around the entire zodiac of twelve signs in the time it takes the Sun to move through one. This is just like how the longer hand moves through all the numbers in the time it takes the shorter hand to move through one, indicating an hour has passed. We also can see how it is 12 hours we are working with and the zodiac is comprised of 12 signs.

So to an Astrologer, a clock actually happens to look just like a mini zodiac with only the Sun and Moon being charted. And since Astrologers were the first people to be in charge of telling time, it is very obvious that this idea of keeping track of time must have come from Astrologers of ancient times.

Another point that really seems to solidify this is that the other main number on the clock is 60. And the fact that we use a base 60 system to keep time is very revealing. Why not 100? Who decided to have 60 minutes and not 100 in an hour? Who decided to make there be 2 sets of 12 hours in a day? I do not know but it is worthwhile to consider this. Vedic Astrology is very clear about using a base 60 system. All planetary aspects are calculated within a point system of 0 to 60 still to this day. In fact, most agree that the most important text on Vedic astrology we have now is the ancient Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. In this text, the sage Parashara is very clear to instruct that using this base 60 point system of measuring planetary aspects (Graha Sputa Drishti) is actually the ancient way of doing it. So he says that this is the ancient way of doing it. So it appears that astrologers have been using a base 60 for a very long time. Now when we know this, looking back at the clock, it is no surprise that it has a 60 point system embedded in it as well.  (Vedic culture also had six seasons instead of 4, and each season would essentially consist of 60 degrees of a circle. This was referred to in the Rig Veda as the six-spoked wheel of time.)

Also, did you notice how that text is called the “Hora Shastra”? That sounds like the word “hour” doesn’t it? Well, the word hour actually comes from “hora” as that is the Sanskrit word for “hour”. So there is a relationship there as well. It also can mean “half of a zodiac sign” because that is how much of a sign that progresses in the course of an hour.  Shastra means “science”. Brihat means “great” or “extended”. Therefore the name Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra means roughly “The great teaching from Parashara on Astrological Science”.

I suspect the clock originated from Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, or a mixture of all three.  From what I have learned of Mesopotamia and Babylon, they also had a base 60 system I believe.

And to be clear, Vedic timekeeping did not have hours and minutes, but it had Ghatis, Palas, and Vipalas. 1 day is 60 Ghatis. 1 Ghati is 24 minutes. 1 Pala is 24 seconds. 1 Vipala is 0.4 of a second. Also, there are even more intricate measurements for time that they had. They have 60 Liptas in Vipala, a 0.4 second long span of time. Then there are 60 Viliptas in a Lipta, and 60 Paras in 1 Villipta. And even beyond that, there are 60 Taraparas in 1 para. Just thinking about all of that math can make your head hurt!

The modern western world has lost more of its ancient timekeeping knowledge in comparison, but when we look at the clock with this understanding, we can still see a lot in common with our ancient ancestors and their culture.

 

2 thoughts on “Astrological Origins of the Clock

  1. All very good points. The comparison of the hour and minute hand with the Sun and Moon is particularly interesting.
    Have you ever noticed that a minute is minute? And a secondary unit of time is a second?
    One thing I’m sure the astrologers of yore noticed were that the great conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn occurred on average about 20 years apart. They were always around 120 degrees apart from the previous one and usually in the same elemental sign. So they would complete a triangle in the zodiac every 60 years.
    A very similar thing happens with the conjunctions of Uranus and Neptune over the course of 21 of their conjuctions; however this takes on average 3600 years (171.44536*21=3600.35256).
    Well, that’s the number of seconds in an hour!

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