An Historical Outline of the Word Sabian

Diana E. Roche

(In Reference to the Sabian Assembly)
Presented at the Sabian Midwinter Conference of 1995

3250 BCE: Sumerians

It is the Sumerians, "Sabaeans," who Dr. Marc Edmund Jones identified as the fifth sub-race of the Atlantean root race.

Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopaedia, 1973, s.v. "Sumer," Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, The Sabian Manual, rev. ed. (Boulder: Sabian Publishing Society, 1976, 18-19.

1200 BCE: Yahwists

The Yahwists were also called the Hebrews, an amalgam of Semitic (Sabaean) tribes pledging allegiance to Yahweh, the God of Moses.

Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, Occult Philosophy (Philadelphia: David McKay Company, 1974); Karen Armstrong, A History of God (New York: A. Knopf, 1994), 21.

1000 BCE: Sheba or Saba

Sheba, or Saba, was the ancient kingdom of south-western Arabia (now Yemen). The inhabitants were called Sabaeans. The Queen of Sheba/Solomon connection is mentioned in I Kings 10: 1-13.

Funk and Wagnalls, 1973, s.v. "Sheba or Saba."

100 CE: Christian • Gnostic • Mandeans

The Christian Gnostic Mandeans were called Sabians, or those who are washed (or baptized). They were connected to John the Baptist and still exist today.

Dan Merkur, Gnosis (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993, 200; Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, The Sabian Manual, 19.

830 CE: Harranites

The people of Harran identified themselves with the Sabians as a protection against the Islamic persecution of Al-Mamun (the Koran offered sanctuary to Sabians). They adopted Hermetic traditions and passed this Egyptian lore to the European occultists. Harran subsequently became the clearinghouse of Arabian enlightenment. The achievements of the philosophers of this place and period, with their link to Ibn Gabirol, provide inspiration and challenge to the present Sabian Assembly group.

Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, The Sabian Manual, 19-20; The Holy Qur'an, ed. Maulana Muhammed Ali, 7th ed. rev. (USA: Lahore, Inc., 1991) 2:62, 31 n. 103

1923 CE: Sabian Assembly

On October 17, 1923, in Los Angeles, what is now The Sabian Assembly had its tangible beginning in a class that Dr. Marc Edmund Jones conducted under the sponsorship of Manly Palmer Hall at the Church of the People. The original emphasis in the classwork was astrological. Later the group broadened its studies to include philosophy and the Bible.

"The present employment of 'Sabian' was in the nature of a 'lucky accident,' a matter of gradual growth and development rather than design. The use of the word began casually with the members of the group. In the lessons the archaic Babylonian or Syrian culture had been termed Sabian, because the traditional "Chaldean" gained undesirable connotation in the twentieth century . . . but while an intuitional debt to Babylonian sources has been very great, throughout all the earlier group activities, there was yet no intention of finding a label for the work as a whole through that channel. The advantage of the name, however, is marked. It is completely and perfectly indefinite" and it does represent people who were interested in what was then astrology.

"The Sabian body of students is well named because its principal objects of research are the superstitions of humanity. The ancient Syrians who gave the word to the language, and the Harranites who pursued devious and dark ways of self-development, instinctively knew that the fears and vague inner apprehensions of man are intuitions of the ever-elusive truth, no matter how false they may be. They also realized the principle to which modern thinking often blinds itself — although a true science does not — that it is through these vague and almost unaccountable superstitions that the first grasp of the most exalted understanding is often to be found. Therefore this present-day research body frankly acknowledges its beginning, but by no means its final goal, in the star or potentiality worship of the original Sabians."1

The Sabian project is identified formally as the SABIAN ASSEMBLY. As a school of thought it is the PHILOSOPHY OF CONCEPTS. As an initiatory organism it is said to be the SABIAN PORTAL OF THE SOLAR MYSTERIES. Reference to it commonly is as the SABIAN WORK or GROUP.2

1. Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, The Ritual of Living, (Los Angeles: J.F. Rowney Press, 1930, 14; Id.
2. The Sabian Manual, 15.

The Word Sabian

"As a word, 'Sabian' comes from the Hebrew 'Sabaoth,' the plural of 'army' as found in the scriptural phrase 'Lord of Hosts' (Romans 9:29), and the Sabian Philosophy is properly to be understood as the study not of the stars, the 'powers' to whom the Sumerian masses transferred the Sabian worship, but the 'potentialities' of all life and all manifestation in all things." (Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, "That Word Sabian." "The Message 3, No. 6 (June-July, 1927), 4-5.

Sabian Astrology™ identifies the system of astrology as developed by Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, set forth in his many books from 1941 through 1980, and practiced by his students today.

The Sabian Symbols, a series of 360 astrological vignettes, originated as a Sabian Assembly project. They were brought through by Dr. Marc Edmund Jones and one of his clairvoyant Sabian students, Elsie Wheeler, in 1925 in Balboa Park, San Diego, California.

Copyright © 2001 by Diana E. Roche
All Rights Reserved