The year was 1999… I was standing on the driveway of our home with my $10 planisphere in hand looking up into the wide expanse of the starry night sky.
Living in the country, with the blessing of dark nights free from light pollution, the sight was awesome. The Milky Way cuts a path of light through the darkness on either side of it and one could not but stand in awe of the Creator of such beauty.
In looking at this jumble of stars dotted on the inky background my burning desire was to understand what my Heavenly Father was trying to communicate to me as Psalm 19:1-2 states:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
With the help of my planisphere I prayed Father would lead me on this journey and slowly the jumble of stars before my eyes started to take shape as I saw the outline of the glorious Southern Cross and the mighty Centaurus surrounding it… this to me was so exciting and so my love for Biblical Astronomy was born.
In our library we had a book on Biblical Astronomy titled ‘The Witness of the Stars’ by E.W. Bullinger and I found out that the information contained therein was based on the pioneering research of Frances Rolleston and her work ‘Mazzaroth’.
Frances Rolleston (1781-1864) was an English Lady who persevered for 50 years to research and write ‘Mazzaroth’. Her motivation for this writing was that she wanted to:
‘recall the Christian world to the contemplation of the prophetic glories of Christ in ancient astronomy’.
In Psalm 147:4 we read ‘He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names’.
By studying the ancient names of the stars and their connection to the Hebraic roots Frances rediscovered that the Gospel Story was portrayed within the 12 Zodiac Signs and their accompanying constellations.
When Frances was 67 years old she moved to the idyllic town of Keswick in the Lake District and it was here that she gave herself in earnest to organise and print her notes for ‘Mazzaroth’.
It is interesting therefore to note that there is a memorial in remembrance of Frances in Keswick, in the form of a drinking fountain. This is interesting for two reasons; firstly this must mean that she was quite influential in the community and secondly, the plaque placed on the fountain notes that Frances is remembered as a Scholar… thus her work, including her writing of ‘Mazzaroth’ is acknowledged as being of value.
It is noteworthy that the memorial is in the form of a drinking fountain as this provides water… the Word/Spirit… to the people. The water of the fountain issues forth from the head of a lion… Yahshua, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The work of Frances Rolleston was all about expounding on the Word of God as written in the stars to the people, so this drinking fountain was an appropriate choice.
In recent years, I have had the great blessing of being able to visit Keswick and the memorial fountain together with my mother and brother. When we visited the drinking fountain was not working… it was dry… maybe reflecting the ‘dryness’ of our society at this time as we, as a society, drift more and more away from the Word of God. But we were reminded, by the Bible verse featured on the fountain, of the foundational truth that also underpinned Frances’ work, namely that Yahshua is the source of the Living Water, John 4:14.
The idea of this blog space is not to repeat the foundational work done by Frances Rolleston, but rather building on that foundation to share some insights Father has given me as I contemplate in wonder the starry nights.
In looking back at my first night of observation, so many years ago, I feel so blessed that my first experience in Biblical Astronomy stood on the foundation of the Cross… that Yahshua died and rose again for each of us…
Want to know more about the remarkable life of Frances Rolleston? Jane Poole has recently published a book on Frances’ life titled ‘Frances Rolleston – British Lady, Scholar and Writer of Mazzaroth’ which is available through her website www.francesrolleston.com