Dr Nicholas Campion BA (Queens' College, Cambridge), MA (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), PhD (University of the West of England/ Bath Spa University)
Principal Lecturer, Institute of Education and Humanities, and Associate Professor in Cosmology and Culture
Tel: +44 (0) 1570 424985
I am director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, the only academic Centre in the world to deal with cultural relationships with the sky and the cosmos. 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 I am director of the Harmony Institute, working with Dr Jane Davidson and INSPIRE, and staff across the University.
My committee responsibilities in the University include the following:
- 2008-13. Virtual Learning (VLE)/Moodle working group
- 2010-11. Flexible and Distance Learning Provision working group.
- 2009-10. Research Degrees Committee
- 2009-12. International Committee
- 2012- 2016. Chair, Post Graduate Taught Committee, School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology
- 2014–2016. Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts Taught Postgraduate Committee; Online Learning and Integrated Masters Working Group.
- 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 (SHA)
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.
As Director of the Sophia Centre, I am responsible for a range of research projects, for which see our Sophia Centre Research Pages.
My own 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 how history is invented and structured by millenarian, apocalyptic, golden and utopian ideas. The latter were explored in my books, The Great Year (Penguin 1994) and The New Age in the Modern West: Counter-Culture, Utopia and Prophecy from the late Eighteenth Century to the Present Day (London: Bloomsbury 2015). I pursue various themes, such as the 1960s as a Golden Age, and the inversion of Iraq in 2003 as an attempt to create utopia. My talk at the University’s launch for the book is online as ‘Utopia, the End of History and the Invasion of Iraq’.
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. My work in the history of astrology resulted in my History of Western Astrology (Bloomsbury), Volume 1 on the Ancient World and Volume 2 on The Medieval and Modern Worlds, and my sociological study of modern astrology in the UK and USA is published as Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West: Prophecy, Cosmology and the New Age Movement (Farnham: Ashgate; London: Routledge, 2015). A short article on the main theme of the book, ‘How many people actually believe in astrology?’, was published in The Conversation, 28 April 2017.
I am interested in ideological and mythical features of current space travel and exploration, especially their relationship with ancient traditions of the ascent to the stars. One recent publication was ‘The Moral Philosophy of Space Travel: A Historical Review’, in Jai Galliot (ed.), Commercial Space Exploration: Ethics, Policy, Governance (Abingdon: Ashgate), pp. 9-22. I am on the International Executive Committee of the conferences on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena, for which I have co-organised three conferences in Oxford (2003), Bath (2010) and London (2015). I was on the Scientific Organising Committee or was co-Chair of conferences of the European Society of Astronomy in Culture in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
My current book project is a study of Classical cosmology (to be published in 2018/19 by Ashgate as Cosmos and Purpose: Cosmology in the Classical World). I am also the General Editor (with Richard Dunn, Senior Curator for the History of Science at Royal Museums Greenwich) of the six-volume Cultural History of the Universe (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2020).
I am also engaged, with colleagues in the promotion of research into Archaeoastronomy, 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’.
Overall, my approach is multi-disciplinary within a Humanities context, and before joining Lampeter University in 2007, I was both Senior Lecturer in History and taught in the Study of Religions department at Bath Spa University.
We also stress impact – the dissemination of ideas through conferences and publication, especially through our conferences, the Sophia Centre Press, the journal Culture and Cosmos, and the postgraduate student journal, Spica.
Current PhD Supervision
Laura Andrikopoulos, ‘The Psychologisation of Astrology in the Twentieth Century’.
Liz Henty ‘Does archaeoastronomy have a role in the study of British prehistory? An examination of archaeoastronomy’s history and its place in the academy’.
Garry Phillipson ‘Astrology and Truth’.
Anthony Thorley, ‘The Landscape Zodiac Phenomenon: an enquiry into its origins and conceptual characteristics as sacred geography’.
Petra du Preez Spaun: ‘The Afrikaner and the Sky: an investigation into the views held by South Africa’s Afrikaans-speaking people – of the sky, the heavens and astrology: during the apartheid era (1948 to 1994) and in the post-apartheid era (after 1994).’
Pamela Armstrong: ‘A diachronic study of monumentality and cosmology in mid-Holocene southern England and Wales’
Mara Steenhuisen: ‘Orbs in the Skyscape: An Exploration of Spiritual Experiences with Anomalous Light Phenomena in Digital Culture’.
Recent PhD supervision completed
2016: Frances Clynes: ‘An Examination of the Impact of the Internet on Modern Western Astrology’, PhD, University of Wales Trinity Saint David
2015: Glenford Bishop, ‘The Origins of the English Folk Play’. University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
2015: Tamzin Powell (MPhil), ‘Between the Severn and the Wye. A Contemporary Reflexive Ethnography of Rural Pagans’. University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
2015: Will Rathouse, ‘Contested Heritage: Examining relations between contemporary Pagan groups and the archaeological and heritage professions’. University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
2015: David Fisher, ‘Employing 3-Dimensional Computer Simulation to examine the Archaeoastronomy of Scottish Mehgalithgic Sites: the implication of plate tectonics and isostasis’. University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
2013. Bernadette Brady, ‘Theories of Fate among Present Day Astrologers’. University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
2006. Anne Ferlat (MPhil), ‘Pagan Movements in Russia: Postmodern Invention or Return to Tradition? A Comparison with Western Pagan Movement. Bath Spa University
Mario Zammit, ‘A Philosophical Contributions of Kaivalya (Self-realisation) Influential Streams of Contemporary Jyotosa (Indian Astrology) on the Yogasūtras of Patañjali’ University of Valetta 2016.
Luc de Backer Reasoned ‘Conversions’? An Analysis of the Processes by which Western individuals enter the International Society of Krishna Consciousness and assimilate its values and practices’, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 2016.
David McConville, On the Evolution of the Heavenly Spheres: An Enactive Approach to Cosmography, University of Plymouth, 2014.
Martin Wells, ’The Star of Bethlehem’ University of Wales, Lampeter, 2009.
Philippa, ‘Popular Culture and Modern Astrology, University of Sydney 2009.
Andrew Vladimirou (University of Birmingham) ‘Michael Psellos and Byzantine Astrology in the Eleventh Century’, University of Birmingham, 2005.
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: Counter-Culture, Utopia and Prophecy from the late Eighteenth Century to the Present Day (London: Bloomsbury 2015).
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; London: Routledge, 2015).
2009: A History of Western Astrology Vol. 2: The Medieval and Modern Worlds (London: Bloomsbury/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: Bloomsbury/Continuum, 2008)].
1994: The Great Year: Astrology, Millenarianism and History in the Western Tradition (London: Penguin).
2016: Heavenly Discourses (Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press), Proceedings of the Heavenly Discourses Conference, University of Bristol, 14-16 October 2011.
2016: (with Dorian Greenbaum), Astrology in Time and Place: Cross-Cultural Currents in the History of Astrology (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing).
2016: (with Barbara Rappenglück, Michael Rappenglück and Fabio Silva) Astronomy and Power: How Worlds are Structured (Oxford: British Archaeology Reports).
2015: (with F. Pimenta, N. Ribeiro, F. Silva, A. Joaquinito and L. Tirapicos (eds), Stars and Stones: Voyages in Archaeoastronomy and Cultural Astronomy – a Meeting of Different Worlds (Oxford: British Archaeology Reports).
2015: (with Fabio Silva), Skyscapes: The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology (Oxford: Oxbow).
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
2017: ‘The Importance of Cosmology in Culture: Contexts and Consequences’, in Abraao Jesse Capistrano de Souza (ed.), Cosmology, InTech Open.
2016 ‘Astronomy and Culture in the Eighteenth Century: Isaac Newton’s Influence on the Enlightenment and Politics’, in Jean Paul Hernandez, Cesar Gonzalez Garcia . Giulio Magli, Davide Nadali, Andrea Polcaro and Lorenzo Verderame (eds), Astronomy in Past and Present Cultures, Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry, Vol.16 no 4 2016), pp. 497-502
2016: ‘Introduction: Discoursing with the Heavens’ in Nicholas Campion (ed.), Heavenly Discourses, (Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press, 2016), pp. xiv-xxviii,
2016: ‘Archaeoastronomy and Calendar Cities’ in Daniel Brown (ed.), Modern Archaeoastronomy: From Material Culture to Cosmology, , Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Vol. 865, 2016, pp. 1-7.
2016, ‘Introduction: Discoursing with the Heavens’ in Nicholas Campion (ed.), Heavenly Discourses, (Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press, 2016), pp. xiv-xxviii.
2015: ‘The Moral Philosophy of Space Travel: A Historical Review’, in Jai Galliot (ed.), Commercial Space Exploration: Ethics, Policy, Governance (Abingdon: Ashgate), pp. 9-22
2015: ‘Religion, Archaeology and Modern Calendar Buildings: A study of Avon Tyrrell House in England’, Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Special Issue: Religion, Archaeology and Folklore, Volume 28.2 (2015), pp. 176-90.
2015: ‘Astronomy, Community and Modern Calendar Buildings’, in Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena VIII: City of Stars, edited by B. P. Abbott (San Francisco: Astronomical Society of the Pacific), Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, vol. 501, pp. 97-102
2015: ‘Definitions of Astrology in the Classical World’, in (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), pp 84-89.
2015: ‘Babylonian Astrology’ in Helaine Selin (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag, 2015.
2015: (with Ronnie Gale Dreyer) ‘Indian Astrology’, in David Kim (ed.), Modern History of Asian Religions, Leiden: Brill.
2015: ‘Cosmos and Cosmology’, in Robert Segal and Kocku von Stukrad (eds), Vocabulary for the Study of Religion (Leiden: Brill), pp. 359-64.
2014: ‘The legacy of classical cosmology in the Renaissance: William Shakespeare and astronomy’, Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry, Vol 14, no 3, 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), pp. 233-9.
2014: Campion, Nicholas, ‘Astrology as Cultural Astronomy’, Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy (ed. Clive Ruggles) (Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag).
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), pp. 320-3.
2014: ‘Astrology’, Encyclopaedia of Sciences and Religions, in Nina P. Azari (ed), Springer Dordrecht.
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: ‘More on the Transmission of the Babylonian Zodiac to Greece’, ARAM Periodical, Vol. 24 no 2, pp. 193-201.
2012: ‘Thomas Aquinas, ‘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. 415-22.
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 Archaeoastronomy 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 Conservation 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.
I lecture and speak on the nature of belief, magic, utopian, golden age and millennial beliefs, and cosmology, emphasising public engagement.
2017: I was a guest with Sharlene Spitteri, Esta Charkam and Kate Bottley on BBC Radio 4, Saturday Live on 13 May 2017, talking about the fiftieth anniversary of the Summer of Love.
2015: I was co-chair of the eighth conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena at Gresham College, London.
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.
2012: I was interviewed on the 2012 Prophecies for the documentary ‘Maya Apocalypse’ (Time Line Films/Channel 4).
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.
2008: I was a guest lecturer on magic as part of the London Barbican Art Gallery’s ‘Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art’.
2007: I spoke at the University of Oxford’s lecture series on ‘Paper Moon’.
2007: I was interviewed by the poet Ian McMillan for BBC Radio 4.
2007: I interviewed explorer and anthropologist Bruce Parry, presenter of BBC2's 'Tribe', for Stanford's Bookshop at Bristol University.
2006: I presented 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 for which he was short-listed for the 2006 Turner Prize.
2006: I was interviewed by Bel Moonery for BBC Radio 4's 'Devout Sceptics' series.
Previous media work includes:
- 1999: 'Apocalypse', Pioneer Films (Channel 4, History Channel)
- 1997: 'Twinkle Twinkle', (the history of astrology in a religious contest), Everyman (BBC 2 UK).
- 1997: 'Astrology in the Third Reich', (History Channel).
- 1997. 'Do You Believe in Astrology?', (Channel 5 UK).
- 1996: 'Astrology', York Films (Discovery Channel).
- 1996: 'Astrology', Café Productions (History Channel).
- 1991: Three programmes in the Granada TV 'This Morning' series on astrology and the New Age
- 1990: 'TV Dante', directed by Peter Greenaway (Channel 4 UK).