MA Cultural Astronomy and Astrology students meet HRH Prince of Wales


Students from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) graduating with Masters degrees in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology were given a royal seal of approval when they met His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales on their graduation day.

HRH, the Prince of Wales was visiting the University’s Lampeter campus to take part in a special University ceremony celebrating the Prince’s commitment to sustainability and harmony.  Following the ceremony, Prince Charles was introduced to Dr Nick Campion – a senior lecturer in the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology and Director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture - who in turn presented the students to the Prince.

“It was an immense honour to meet Prince Charles and to present our graduates to him,” said Dr Campion.  “The MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology is truly unique. It’s the only academic course in the world which deals with the human relationship, its history, its philosophy and its impact on our culture, past and present. We also have some truly amazing students who produce astonishing work which is both scholarly and imaginative.  This was the greatest validation possible for the innovative work we are doing at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David”.

“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 utopian, millenarian and apocalyptic ideas. The latter were explored in my most recent book, The New Age in the Modern West.  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,” adds Dr Campion.

Because of the distinctiveness of the MA, the post-graduate course attracts students from across the globe with members of this year’s cohort coming from the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium and the USA.

Elizabeth Hathway, a student from Amsterdam, thoroughly enjoyed her studies and feels that the course as given her confidence a great boost.

“The sense of discovery and the intellectual challenge was great,” says Elizabeth.  “It stretched my mind and changed my outlook. I feel much more confident.”

Dragana Van de moortel, a student living in Belgium says, “The course was easy to study from home. It also included many interesting - and for me, new fields of research - particularly archaeoastronomy.

“Studying at the Sophia Centre, based in Lampeter, helped me to express myself on a higher, more professional level.  Dr Nick Campion, director of the institute was very enthusiastic about my dissertation and I hope that I can build a more theoretical theological  background after studying there,” adds Dragana.

“The intellectual stimulation and comradeship involved in studying in greater depth a subject that I am deeply interested in,” says Jonathan Jones from London.  “I intend to use the platform of knowledge and technique that I have acquired in the MA to do further research, perhaps a PhD on the history of financial astrology.”

Morag Feeney-Beaton, also from London, adds: “For me the wide, open and extensive breadth of possible avenues to travel is just so exciting and inspiring.  The MA has created the opportunity to discover, certainly myself, opening up an exploration into so many cultures, concepts and theories all of which surround us, whether past present or future. Studying for the MA has given me a voice, albeit small, that I didn't know I had. And it is thrilling to use it.”

The work of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture also includes the organisation of  an annual conference, focusing on one particular aspect of the Centre’s subject.

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, 2016). Two more volumes, Celestial Magic and The Marriage of Heaven and Earth are about to be published. .

The Centre also runs two academic journals - Culture and Cosmos, the journal on the history of cultural astronomy and astrology, and Spica, an online postgraduate journal.

Dr Campion is also working with the Harmony Initiative, taking the University’s sustainability agenda forward in relation to ideas about how people can live in harmony with nature and the cosmos, and working with the University’s new Harmony Professors of Practice.

Other research projects being coordinated within the Sophia Centre include Welsh Monastic Skyscapes, a project that focuses the Centre’s concern with archaeoastronomy and the alignment of Welsh monasteries with the sky; Kepler’s Astrology, a study of  seventeenth-century astronomer Johannes Kepler’s attempted reform of astrology; Stars and Society in the Modern West, a project that focuses on the place, role and function of astrology in the modern west. The Centre is pioneering the study of the  relationship between theories and concepts of skyscapes and landscapes.