Robert Powell, Ph.D. (Author, History of the Zodiac)
5.4 – Destination Orion (1.11.13)
Robert Powell was born in Reading, England in 1947.
At school he discovered a love of mathematics, and went on to study at the University of Sussex, located near Brighton, England, where he was awarded a Master’s degree in mathematics (statistics) in 1970.
Already in October 1969 he began a full-time teaching post as a lecturer at Brighton University (at that time called Brighton Polytechnic) in the Department of Computing and Cybernetics. He was a lecturer there from 1969 to 1976 in Mathematics and Statistics for undergraduate students taking their B.Sc. degree in computer science.
In 1971 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.
From its inception in 1971 until 1974 Robert Powell was a tutor in mathematics for the Open University of the United Kingdom, teaching (during vacation time from Brighton University) courses in mathematics to undergraduate students. During this time (in 1970/1971) he began to do research in the history of astronomy using the library at the British Museum in London and also the library of the Warburg Institute, which is part of the University of London.
While researching at the Warburg Institute he first discussed the possibility of doing a PhD thesis on the history of the zodiac with Dr. Charles Schmitt from the Warburg Institute. He left his post as lecturer in mathematics and statistics at Brighton University in July 1976 in order to pursue his research into the history of astronomy in London.
During the years 1976 and 1977 Robert became interested in Isaac Newton’s research into astronomical chronology, a summary of which is included as Appendix II in his PhD thesis History of the Zodiac. On account of his research into Newton’s chronology, later in 1977 he received an invitation from Georg Ungar to spend some time doing research at Dr. Ungar’s Mathematisch-Physikalisches Institut in Dornach, near Basel, Switzerland. There he spent the next four years of his life (1978-1982) met Konrad Rudnički, a professor of galactic astronomy, who expressed interest in his thesis on the history of the zodiac and suggested that Robert submit it to an academic institution in Poland under his supervision.
After moving to Stuttgart, Germany, in 1983, Robert continued his research and studies, and he began to investigate chronological aspects of Kepler’s work, in particular his ideas presented in De stella nova concerning the star of Bethlehem. Robert studied the chronology of the Hebrew calendar at the time of Christ and found confirmation of Kepler’s dating of the birth of Jesus to March 5, 6 BC through applying astronomical chronology. The results of this research, which spanned more than a decade, were published in 1996 in his book Chronicle of the Living Christ.
This research on the history of the zodiac, Newton’s chronology, and the application of astronomical chronology to dating the life of Christ, also became extended to the field of astrology, which is of interest in connection with the history of the zodiac. Like the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Kepler, Robert investigated the astronomical principles underlying astrology. On the basis of his research into the history of the zodiac he discovered that contemporary astrology has a completely different basis from the ancient astrology of the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and Hindus.
Through Professor Rudnički the possibility arose for Robert to submit his PhD thesis to the Institute for the History of Science of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. This entailed writing a new, updated version of this thesis on the history of the zodiac, incorporating new research findings.
Obtaining his PhD was a thirty-year odyssey, that had started in 1974 when he began writing down the results of the initial research on the history of the zodiac at the libraries of the British Museum and the Warburg Institute in London. His thesis was finally submitted to the Polish Academy of Sciences in 2004 with the title The Definition of the Babylonian Zodiac and the Influence of Babylonian Astronomy on the Subsequent Defining of the Zodiac. After publicly defending his thesis in Warsaw, Robert was awarded a PhD for his original contribution to the history of science – or rather to the history of astronomy. The degree was conferred in March 2005. A revised and updated version of the PhD thesis was published in book form in 2007 by Sophia Academic Press under the title History of the Zodiac.
Aside from his academic career, Robert Powell has also written books on a variety of other subjects, including the works written together with his wife, Lacquanna Paul. They are co-authors of the books Cosmic Dances of the Planets and Cosmic Dances of the Zodiac, which describe the work that Robert has been doing since he founded the Choreocosmos School of Cosmic and Sacred Dance in the year 2000. In turn, the work of the Choreocosmos School was made possible through the founding of the Sophia Foundation of North America in San Rafael, California in 1995 by Karen Rivers and Robert Powell. The Choreocosmos School offers a training in cosmic and sacred dance. A substantial number of people have graduated from the training and are now qualified to teach cosmic and sacred dance along the lines outlined in Cosmic Dances of the Planets and Cosmic Dances of the Zodiac. Currently Robert teaches courses in cosmic and sacred dance in six different countries.
The courses in cosmic and sacred dance are taught as a training in subtle eurythmic movement to classical music. (Rudolf Steiner was the inaugurator of eurythmy, which provides the foundation for cosmic and sacred dance). There are various levels of activity of the Choreocosmos School of Cosmic and Sacred Dance. Some of the courses are introductory in nature, teaching the cosmic dances of the four elements, the seven planets, and the twelve signs of the zodiac. These twenty-three cosmic dances embody a path following the archetype taught in the Middle Ages at the School of Chartres (Chartres Cathedral) in France. There pupils were instructed in the mysteries of the elements relating to Mother Earth, then the mysteries of the planets having to do with the Cosmic Soul, and finally the mysteries of the zodiac pertaining to the World Spirit. The introductory courses of the School of Cosmic and Sacred Dance are concerned with outlining a path of experience – through music and movement – to these three levels. At the same time, supplementing the movement aspects of the courses, it is possible to engage in conversation and study activity focusing upon acquiring a deeper understanding of the elements, planets, and zodiacal signs in relation to the different levels of the human being. The whole is intended to lead to experience of the higher levels of Nature (four elements) and the cosmos (planets and zodiac). 
The zodiac was first clearly defined by the Babylonians some 2500 years ago, but until recently the basis of this original definition remained unknown. This zodiac of the Babylonians, known as the sidereal zodiac because it is specified in direct relation to the stars (Latin sideris, ‘starry’), was used for centuries throughout the ancient world, all the way to India, and must be distinguished from the tropical zodiac in widespread use by astrologers in the West today, which was introduced only in the middle of the second century A.D. by the Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy. Such was Ptolemy’s influence, however, that the tropical zodiac gained prominence and, except for its survival (in a variant form) in India, knowledge of the sidereal zodiac was lost. In this thrilling study of the history of the zodiac, first submitted in 2004 as his Ph.D. thesis, Robert Powell rescues the the sidereal zodiac from the dusts of time, tracing it back to the Babylonians in the sixth/fifth centuries B.C. The implications of this discovery—among them the restitution of the sideral zodiac to its rightful place at the heart of astrology—are immense, they key point being that the signs of the sidereal zodiac, each thirty degrees long, coincide closely with the twelve astronomical constellations of the same name, whereas the signs of the tropical zodiac, since they are defined in relation to the vernal point, now have no direct relationship to the corresponding zodiacal constellations, owing to the precession of the equinoxes.This revolutionary history of the zodiac includes chapters on the Egyptian decans and the Hindu nakshatras, showing how these sidereal divisions, which originated in Egypt and India, are related to the original Babylonian zodiac. It also sheds light on the controversy surrounding the ‘zodiac question’ (tropical vs. sidereal), illuminating the history of the tropical zodiac—showing that originally it was not a zodiac at all, but a calendar for describing the course of the seasons! This book, the fruit of thirty years of research, is intended not only for scholars but for general readers as well, and offers the clearest and most comprehensive study of the history of the zodiac yet published.