Dr Nicholas Campion
Dr Nicholas Campion BA, MA, PhD
Tel: +44 (0) 1570 424985
I am Director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture. I am responsible for taking forward the Centre’s research and teaching activities, through supervising PhD students, sponsoring research projects, organising conferences and other events, and publishing research via the peer-reviewed journal Culture and Cosmos, and the Sophia Centre Press. I am Programme Director of the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology. My University responsibilities include Chair of Taught Postgraduate Studies in the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology. I am director of the Harmony Initiative, working with Dr Jane Davidson.
- Association Astroarchaeocaucasus
- British Sociological Association
- Historical Association
- British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR)
- European Society for the Study of Astronomy in Culture (SEAC)
- International Society for the Study of Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture (ISAAC)
- The European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE)
- British Society for the History of Science (BSHS)
- Society for the History of Astronomy
I am a historian with expertise in anthropology. My BA was in History from Queens’ College, Cambridge, my MA was in Southeast Asian Studies (politics, history and international relations) from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and my PhD was in the Study of Religions at Bath Spa University. My main interest is in how world views, or cosmologies, are constructed, particularly in how we structure history and read meaning in the sky. I have written extensively on the history of astrology and associated magical and esoteric ideas, as well as on the influence of astronomy on culture, and the new discipline of Cultural Astronomy. My current projects include consideration of space exploration, ethics and myth. I also write on utopianism and millennial beliefs, and maintain an interest in contemporary politics and international relations.
My research interests include the nature of belief, the history and contemporary culture of astrology and astronomy, magic, pagan and New Age beliefs and practices, and millenarian and apocalyptic ideas. The latter were explored in my book, The Great Year (Penguin 1994).
I am particularly concerned with the attribution of meaning to the sky, the mythical construction of cosmologies as meaning-systems, and their political and religious consequences and applications.
I am also interested in ideological and mythical features of current space travel and exploration, especially their relationship with ancient traditions of the ascent to the stars. This calls for a multi-disciplinary approach and, before joining Lampeter University in 2007, I was Senior Lecturer in History, and taught in the Study of Religions department, at Bath Spa University.
My current projects include a study of New Age beliefs within the context of European cultural history (to be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2015 as The New Age in the Modern West: Millenarianism, Revolution and the Soul), and a study of Classical cosmology (to be published in 2016 by Ashgate as Cosmos and Purpose: Cosmology in the Classical World).
I am also engaged, with colleagues in the promotion of research into Archaoeastronomy, the study of astronomical alignments, orientations and symbolism in the built environment. In particular we are developing the concept of the ‘skyscape’ as a third of an environmental trinity including ‘landscapes and ‘seascapes’.
I lecture and speak widely on the nature of belief, magic and cosmology, emphasising public engagement. Recent activities include a gallery talk at Bristol's Arnolfini Gallery on Mark Titchner's solo exhibition, in which the artist's hybrid installations furthered his exploration into systems of belief, and which was short-listed for the 2006 Turner Prize; in 2006 I was interviewed for BBC Radio 4's 'Devout Sceptics' series; in 2007 I spoke at the University of Oxford’s lecture series on ‘Paper Moon’, was interviewed by poet Ian McMillan for BBC Radio 4, and interviewed explorer and anthropologist Bruce Parry, presenter of BBC2's 'Tribe', for Stanford's Bookshop at Bristol University.
In 2008 I lectured on magic as part of the London Barbican Art Gallery’s ‘Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art’. In 2011 I organised the ‘Heavenly Discourses’ conference at the University of Bristol, with Darrelyn Gunzburg, in order to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the first human space flight.
In 2012 I was interviewed for the documentary ‘Maya Apocalypse’ (Time Line Films/Channel 4). In 2013 I was in conversation with the artist Kapwani Kawanga on her film Afrogalactica and her work on the musician Sun Ra, at the Arts Catalyst in London.
I am also concerned with generating a wider research environment through my role as Director of the Sophia Centre. I organise an annual conference which focuses on one aspect of the Sophia Centre’s subject area.
The resulting series of conference publications includes Cosmologies: (Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press, 2010), Astrologies: Plurality and Diversity (Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press, 2011), Sky and Symbol (Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press, 2013), Astrology in Time and Place: Cross-Cultural Currents in the History of Astrology (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014) and Celestial Magic (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014).
We run two academic journals from the Sophia Centre: Culture and Cosmos, the journal on the history of cultural astronomy and astrology, and Spica, a postgraduate journal
Other research projects being coordinated within the Sophia Centre include:
This project focuses the Centre’s concern with archaeoastronomy and is designed to provide a local perspective on questions of alignment at medieval churches and older monuments, in line with research conducted elsewhere. Initially the project will focus on Welsh churches. A pilot study has been conducted at Strata Florida Abbey (Olwyn Pritchard, ‘The Secret Astronomy of Strata Florida Abbey’ in Jemma Bezant and Nicholas Campion (eds) Celtic Myth: Landscapes, Seascapes and Skyscapes (forthcoming).
The seventeenth-century astronomer Johannes Kepler’s attempted reform of astrology focuses on an important moment in the history of ideas, when the scientific revolution was gathering pace, The project places Kepler’s astrology, with modern commentary, into the public domain.
The project has resulted in one publication to date: ‘Kepler’s Astrology’ (ed. Dorian Greenbaum), Culture and Cosmos, Vol. 14 no 1 & 2 (2010). The project is part of a wider investigation of astrology in the seventeenth century which included ‘Galileo’s Astrology’ (ed. Nicholas Campion and Nick Kollerstrom), Culture and Cosmos, Vol. 7 no 1 (2003).
Stars and Society in the Modern West
This project focuses on the place, role and function of astrology in the modern west, examining both public attitudes to astrology and the practices and claims of astrologers, especially in relation to the wider context of the history of ideas in western culture.
This has resulted in one research monograph to date (Nicholas Campion, Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West: Prophecy, Cosmology and the New Age Movement (Abingdon: Ashgate, 2012) and one completed PhD (Bernadette Brady, ‘Theories of Fate Among Present Day Astrologers’). Other current doctoral projects within the Sophia Centre include: Laura Andrikopoulos, ‘The psychologisation of western astrology during the 20th century’, Frances Clynes, ‘Astrologers’ Use of the Internet’ and Garry Phillipson, ‘A Context for Heresy: Locating Astrology in Contemporary Western Thought’.
Skyscape and Landscape
This project explores the relationship between theories and concepts of skyscape and the land. Currently we have three doctoral projects: Anthony Thorley, ‘The Landscape Zodiac Phenomenon’, David Fisher, ‘The Archaeoastronomy of Scottish Megalithic Sites’, and Liz Henty: ‘Archaeoastronomy’s history and place in the academy’.
Pedagogical Issues in an Emerging Discipline
The teaching of the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology requires the formalisation of a series of topics which have, to date, mainly been the subject of individual research projects or single classes. This project tracks the development of the syllabus and student experience at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
Publications so far include Bernadette Brady, and Alison Bird, 'A Niche Degree: A Case Study of an MA (in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology)', DISKUS, Teaching and Learning (2013), 55-69.
I am a Director and Editorial Director of the Sophia Centre Press, an academic press established in 2009 under the University of Wales’ spin-out business programme. The press publishes academic work from within the subject area covered by the Sophia Centre – cosmology, astronomy and astrology in culture. The Press now published Culture and Cosmos, the peer reviewed journal on the history of astrology and cultural astronomy, of which I was publisher since its foundation in 1997.
2015: The New Age in the Modern West: Counterculture, Utopia and Prophecy from the Late Eighteenth Century to the Present Day (London: Bloomsbury Publishing).
2012: Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions (New York: New York University Press).
2012: Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West: Prophecy, Cosmology and the New Age Movement (Farnham: Ashgate).
2009: A History of Western Astrology Vol. 2: The Medieval and Modern Worlds (London: Continuum).
2009: A History of Western Astrology Vol. 1: The Ancient World (London: Continuum), [first published as The Dawn of Astrology: A Cultural History of Western Astrology Vol. 1, The Ancient and Classical Worlds, (London: Continuum)].
1994: The Great Year: Astrology, Millenarianism and History in the Western Tradition (London: Penguin).
2014: (with F. Pimenta, N. Ribeiro, F. Silva, A. Joaquinito and L. Tirapicos), Stars and Stones: Voyages in Archaeoastronomy and Cultural Astronomy – a Meeting of Different Worlds (Oxford: British Archaeology Reports).
2014: (with Fabio Silva), Skyscapes – The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology (Oxford: Oxbow).
2014: (with Liz Greene), Celestial Magic, (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing).
2014: (with Dorian Greenbaum), Astrology in Time and Place: Cross-Cultural Currents in the History of Astrology, (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing).
2014: Heavenly Discourses, (Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press)
2014: (with Barbara Rappenglück, Michael Rappenglück and Fabio Silva) Astronomy and Power: How Worlds are Structured, (Oxford: British Archaeology Reports)
2013: (with Liz Greene), Sky and Symbol (Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press).
2011: (with Liz Greene), Astrologies: Plurality and Diversity (Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press).
2010: Cosmologies: Proceedings of the Seventh Sophia Centre Conference, 2009 (Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press).
2006: (with Patrick Curry), Sky and Psyche, Proceedings of the 2005 conference on Sky and Psyche (Edinburgh: Floris Books).
2004: The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena, Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena, sponsored by the Vatican Observatory and the Steward Observatory, Arizona, Magdalen College, Oxford, 3-9 August 2003: Nicholas Campion (ed.) The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena (Bristol: Cinnabar Books, 2005)/Culture and Cosmos, Vol. 8 nos. 1 and 2, (2004).
2004: (ed., with Nick Kollerstrom), Galileo's Astrology (Bristol: Cinnabar Books, 2004)/Culture and Cosmos Vol. 7 no. 1, Spring/Summer (2003).
2004: (ed. with Patrick Curry and Michael York), Astrology and the Academy, papers from the inaugural conference of the Sophia Centre, Bath Spa University College, 13-14 June 2003 (Bristol: Cinnabar Books).
Papers, Articles, Encyclopaedia Articles and Chapters in Books
2014: ‘The Moral Philosophy of Space Travel: A Historical Review’, in Jai Galliot (ed.), Commercial Space Exploration: Ethics, Policy, Governance, Abingdon: Ashgate.
2014: (with Ronnie Gale Dreyer) ‘Indian Astrology, in David Kim (ed.), Modern History of Asian Religions, Leiden: Brill.
2014: ‘Cosmos and Cosmology’, in Robert Segal and Kocku von Stukrad (eds), Vocabulary for the Study of Religion (Leiden: Brill).
2014: ‘The legacy of classical cosmology in the Renaissance: William Shakespeare and astronomy’, Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry, eds., Kim Malville, Xenophon Moussas and Michael Rappenglück.
2014: ‘Astronomy and the State: time, space, power and the foundation of Baghdad’, in Michael Rappenglűck, Barbara Rappenglück and Nicholas Campion (eds.) Astronomy and Power (Cambridge: British Archaeology Reports).
2014: Campion, Nicholas, ‘Astrology as Cultural Astronomy’, Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy (ed. Juan Antonio Belmonte)
2014: ‘Astrology’ in Christopher Partridge (ed.) Routledge Handbook of the Occult (London: Routledge).
2014: ‘John Whiteside Parsons’ in Christopher Partridge (ed.) Routledge Handbook of the Occult (London: Routledge).
2014: ‘Astrology’, Encyclopaedia of Sciences and Religions, in Nina P. Azari (ed),Springer Dordrecht.
2014: ‘More on the Transmission of the Babylonian Zodiac to Greece’, ARAM Periodical, Vol. 24 no 2.
2013: ‘The 2012 Phenomenon in Context: Millenarianism, New Age and Cultural Astronomy’, in Ivan Šprac and Peter Pehani (eds.), Ancient Cosmologies and Modern Prophets, (Lubljana: Anthropological Notebooks year XIX, supplement, 2013), pp. 15-31.
2013: ‘Augustine and Astronomy’ in Kim Pafenroth (ed.), Augustine and Science, Augustine in Conversation, Tradition and Innovation, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books), pp. 83-97.
2012: ‘Aquinas, Thomas’, ‘Augustine’, ‘Cicero’, 'Kiddinu’, 'Naburiannu', Biographical Encyclopaedia of Astronomers, ed. Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, (New York: Springer).
2011: ‘Enchantment and the Awe of the Heavens’, in Enrico Maria Corsini (ed.), The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena VI, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series Vol. 441, pp. 415-222.
2011: ‘The 2012 Mayan Calendar Prophecies in the Context of the Western Millenarian Tradition’, in Clive Ruggles (ed.), Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy: Building Bridges Between Cultures, Proceedings of International Astronomy Union Symposium 278, (the 9th “Oxford” International Symposium on Archaeoastronomy), Lima, Peru, 4-14 January 2011, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 249-54.
2011: ‘Astronomy and Political Theory’, in David Valls-Gabaud and Alec Boksenberg (eds.), The Role of Astronomy in Society and Culture, International Astronomical Union Symposium 260, UNESCO, Paris, 19-23 January 2008, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 595-602.
2011: ‘Masters Level Education in Archaeoastronomy at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’ (with J. McKim Malville), in Clive Ruggles (ed.), Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy: Building Bridges Between Cultures, Proceedings of International Astronomy Union Symposium 278, (the 9th “Oxford” International Symposium on Archaeoastronomy), Lima, Peru, 4-14 January 2011, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 357-63.
2011: ‘Was there an Egyptian Revolution in Ptolemaic Astronomy?: Stars, Soul and Cosmology’, Journal of Cosmology, Vol. 13, (2011), pp. 4174-86.
2011: ‘Astronomy and the Soul’, in Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka and Atilla Grandpierre (eds.), Astronomy and Civilisation in the New Enlightenment, Analecta Husserliana, The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research, Vol. CVII, (Heidelberg: Springer, 2011), pp. 249-257.
2010: ‘Astronomy and Psyche in the Classical World: Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, Ptolemy’, Journal of Cosmology, Vol. 9 (2010), pp. 2179-86.
2010: ‘A Review of Academic Literature on Astrology: 1. The Ancient World’,Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review, Vol. 1 no. 2 (2010).
2010: ‘Astrology’, in Nina P. Azari (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Sciences and Religions, (Dordrecht: Springer).
2009: ‘The Antikythera Mechanism: An Archaeoastronomical Artefact in its Literary and Religious Context’, in José Alberto Rubiño-Martín, Juan Antonio Belmonte, Francisco Prada and Anxton Alberdi, (eds.), Cosmologies Across Cultures, (Provo, Utah: Astronomical Society of the Pacific), pp. 160-5.
2009: ‘L’Etat cosmique: astronomie at théory politique’, Planétariums, L’Associations des Planétariums de langue française, May 2009, pp. 33-4.
2008: (with Jarita Holbrook), ‘Cultural Astronomy: A Conversation about Degree Programs & Research Questions from Both Sides of the Pond’, Spark: The American Astronomical Society Education Newsletter, pp. 9-11.
2008: ‘Horoscopes as Popular Culture’, in Bob Franklin (ed.), Pulling Newspapers Apart: Analysing Print Journalism, (Oxford: Routledge), pp. 253-61.
2008: ‘Teaching Cultural Astronomy: On the Development and Evolution of the Syllabus at Bath Spa University and the University of Wales, Lampeter’, in Jarita Holbrook, Rodney Medupe and Johnson Urama (eds.), African Cultural Astronomy: Current Archaoeastronomy and Ethnoastronomy Research in Africa, (Amsterdam: Springer Verlag, Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings, 2008), pp. 109-119.
2007: ‘Babylonian Astrology', Encyclopaedia of Non-Western Science: Natural Sciences, Technology and Medicine, (Berlin: Springer Verlag).
2007: ‘Astrology’ in The Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, eds. Denise Cush, Cahterine Robinson and Lynn Foulston, (London: Routledge).
2007: ‘Aquinas, Thomas’, ‘Augustine’, ‘Cicero’, 'Kiddinu’, 'Naburiannu', Biographical Encyclopaedia of Astronomers, ed.Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams,(New York: Springer), Vol. 1, pp. 53, 69-70, 235-6, 633, Vol. 2, p. 819.
2006: 'Astrology' in Encyclopaedia of Witchcraft: the Western Tradition, ed. Richard Golden, San Diego: ABC.CLIO, Vol. 1, pp. 64-5.
2005: 'The Possible Survival of Babylonian Astrology in the Fifth Century BCE: a discussion of historical sources', in H. K. von Stuckrad, G. Oestmann and D. Rutkin (eds.), Horoscopes and Public Spheres: Essays on the History of Astrology, (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter,2005), pp. 69-92.
2005: ''"Thousand is a perfect number…" quoth Aelfric of Cerne: Millenarianism and the foundation of Sherbourne Abbey', Proceedings of the conference to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of Sherbourne Abbey, Bournemouth University, School of Conservaton Sciences, Occasional Paper 8, Katherine Barker, David A. Hinton and Alan Hunt, (eds.), (Bournemouth: Oxbow Books), pp. 33-39.
2005: 'The Sun is God' in The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena, Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena, Magdalen College, Oxford, 3-9 August 2003, (Bristol: Cinnabar Books), pp. 45-56.
2004: 'Introduction: Cultural Astronomy', in Campion, Nicholas, Patrick Curry and Michael York (eds.) Astrology and the Academy, papers from the inaugural conference of the Sophia Centre, Bath Spa University College, 13-14 June 2003, (Bristol: Cinnabar Books, 2004), pp. xv-xxx.
Editor, Culture and Cosmos
Editorial Board, Archaeoastronomy: the Journal of Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture
Editorial Board, Correlation, the Journal of Research in Astrology
2014: The Marriage of Heaven and Earth, Sophia Centre annual conference, Bath, 28-29 June (Chair and Organiser).
2014: ‘The Materiality of the Sky’, European Society for the Study of Astronomy in Culture, University of Malta, 22-26 September 2014 (Scientific Organising Committee).
2013: ‘Celtic Myth: Land, Sea and Sky-scapes’ (Myth Celtaidd: Tir, Mor ac Awyr’, Lampeter, 30 November 2013 (Co-Chair and Organiser)
2013: ‘Astronomy: Mother of Civilisation and Guide to the Future’, European Society for Astronomy in Culture, Athens (Scientific Organising Committee).
2013: ‘Celestial Magic’, Sophia Centre annual conference, Bath, 21-23 June (Co-Chair and Organiser).
2012: ‘Astrology in Time and Place: Cross Cultural Currents in the History of Astrology’, then annual Sophia Centre Conference, Bath (co-Chair and organiser).
2011: ‘Heavenly Discourses’, University of Bristol, 13-16 October (Co-Chair and Organiser).
2011: Annual Conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 1-16 September, (Organising Committee).
2011: ‘Sky and Symbol’, Sophia Centre, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, ninth annual conference, 4-5 July (Chair and organiser).
2010: Seventh Conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena, Bath, 24-29 October (Chair, Local Organising Committee).
2010: ‘Astronomy and Power: How World Are Structured’, Eighteenth conference of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture, 30 August – 4 September (Scientific Organising Committee).
2010: ‘Astrologies: Plurality and Diversity’, eighth annual Sophia Centre conference, 6-7 June, Bath.
2009: ‘Cosmologies’, seventh annual Sophia Centre conference, 6-7 June, Bath.
2008: Sophia Centre, University of Wales, Lampeter, 12-13 July, postgraduate conference.
2007: Bath Spa University Post-Graduate conference, 9 June.
2005: ‘Sky and Psyche’, Sophia Centre annual conference Bath, 1-2 July (co-Chair and organiser).
2004: ‘Exploring Consciousness’, Bath Spa University College with the Academy for Cultural and Educational Studies, 24-26 June (Co-chair and organiser).
August 2003: Fourth Conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena, Magdalen College, Oxford (Co-chair and organiser).
June 2003: ‘Astrology and the Academy’, Bath Spa University College, 13-14 June (Co-chair and organiser).
Invited Conference Papers
2013. ‘Magic, Myth and the Space Race’, Kosmica, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, 8-10 August.
2013: ‘Kosmica: In conversation with Kapwani Kawanga’, Arts Catalyst, London, 15 May.
2013: William Shakespeare and the Philosophy of Astronomy, the European Society for Astronomy in Culture 20th Annual Meeting (‘SEAC 2012’), Athens
2012: ‘Myths of Salvation and Destruction from the Stars’, invited public lecture, Cankarjev dom Culture Centre, Ljubliana.
2012: ‘The 2012 Phenomenon in Context: Millenarianism, New Age and Cultural Astronomy’, Ancient Cosmologies and Modern Prophecies, the European Society for Astronomy in Culture 19th Annual Meeting (‘SEAC 2012’), Ljubljana, Slovenia.
2011: ‘Defining Astrology in Ancient and Classical History’,European Society for Astronomy in Culture 19th Annual Meeting (‘SEAC 2011’), Evora, Portugal.
2010: ‘Astronomy and the State: time, space, power and the foundation of Baghdad’, the European Society for Astronomy in Culture 18th Annual Meeting (‘SEAC 2010’), Gilching, Munich.
2010: ‘Astrology: A Critical, Historical and Philosophical Review’, seventh international conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena, Bath, 25-29 October.
2010: ‘Time, Space and the Politics of Celestial Power: the Role of Astronomy in the Medieval State’, seventeenth conference of the European Society for the Study of Astronomy in Culture, 30 August - 4 September.
Examination of doctorates
2013: David McConville (Plymouth University): ‘Transcending the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Transcalar Cosmography’
2009: Martin Wells (University of Wales, Lampeter) ’The Star of Bethlehem’
2008: Philippa Mansor (University of Sydney) ‘Popular Culture and Modern Astrology.
2005: Andrew Vladimirou (University of Birmingham) ‘Michael Psellos and Byzantine Astrology in the Eleventh Century’.
2006-10: External examiner, MA in Transpersonal Art and Practice, University of Chichester.