ON THE NATURE OF ASTROLOGY
Introduction by Bill Sheeran
Astrology is based on an abstraction from a physical system, in the same way that a map is an abstraction from the territory which it represents. Astronomy uses quite similar abstractions, however, astrologers use their maps in a very different way from astronomers. They (the maps) acquire a degree of autonomy (courtesy of the astrologer) and take a left turn which breaks the congruent relationship with their source (the physical system). This is fine. Astrology is what it is and astrologers do what they do. But if one then tries to rationalise astrology by invoking the normal congruency which exists between a map and its territory, one gets lost. It doesn't exist any longer once the map is used for astrological purposes.
With astronomy, the map bears fairly close relationship with the territory it purports to represent. With astrology, the map is definitely 100% not the territory. The map comes from the celestial sphere. The territory is a worldly context. The fact that astrologers find their maps useful in relation to worldly contexts does not mean that they can then postulate an extrapolation back onto the source of those maps -- the celestial sphere -- and proclaim a direct astrological connection between the physical solar system and those worldy contexts. This can be confusing, as there are actual direct connections between the solar system and worldly contexts -- it does get warmer in the summer, etc. It is debatable whether these can be called astrological, and most would be happy to see them as literal or mechanistically based earth-sky connections.
This raises a question about the spread of subforms within the overall astrological landscape, and the mix of the physical and symbolic associated with those subforms. At one extreme one might place solar system astronomy -- pure, physical level, causally mediated astrology (it gets warmer in the summer, etc.) -- and at the other astral divination -- totally subjective and symbolic. All the rest -- natal chart interpretation, horary, weather prediction, financial astrology, etc. -- have their place in this strange landscape. Astrology is a genus which contains several related species.
In order to model astrology one has to decide first at what level one wishes to start and cut the research method cloth accordingly. One also needs to be aware that whatever models emerge, they do not necessarily elucidate what makes the other species tick. There are major differences between elephants and dolphins, though both are mammals and share common ground.
What Juan says here is a threat to no one, no matter how they like their astrology cooked. Astrology is what it is, and astrologers do what they do. However, astrologers are inclined to misperceive, and therefore to misrepresent to others astrology's actual nature. Juan isn't suggesting that anything should necessarily be changed other than this misperception. The implications of Juan's point do not necessarily impinge on how astrologers practice.
However, they do impinge on the efforts to understand astrology's nature, and raise awkward questions for those who attempt to rationalise astrology using the physicality of the solar system and constellations - what I call the literalist approach. In fact they raise awkward issues for anyone seeking to model astrology, but especially for those enamoured of mechanistic causation.
I think that at the genus level, Juan's point is crucially significant and I'm very grateful to him for stating it so well. I personally think that it provides a useful starting point from which one can begin to construct models. In fact, it really sits as a cornerstone already in place, waiting for the building work to begin.
Bill Sheeran, August 2000.
NOTE: What follows is a detailed summary of my recent discussions on the nature of astrology. I have very slightly edited the material by removing what was written by others, but hope that this will not obscure the presentation of ideas. Much further editing is necessary, which will proceed by classifying the paragraphs according to the specific astrological item under discussion. -- Juan Revilla.
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 13:26:44 -0600
I know well that what I am going to say is controversial, and hope I don't offend or infuriate anyone. I know many of you will think this is all silly, so I would appreciate telling me where I am wrong. It is based on what an astrologer does, as opposed to what he or she thinks is doing. Not only may we believe whatever we want, but often astrologers' beliefs are contradicted by what they do.
Basically, astrologers work with charts made of coordinates and arbitrary divisions and classification (signs, houses), all imbued in a dense system of meanings which are the result of tradition and culture (personal and social). When they interpret, they use this symbolical structure to make associations, and their minds deal with abstract coordinates (longitude, declination, right ascension), and with "events" (aspects) happening to these abstract and discrete coordinates.
Furthermore, the chart may physically refer to an event long in the past (the birth) to which is applied a numerical manipulation based on analogical relationships between units of time (progressions, directions) which are derivations of this same chart and are only a mimic of the rules of celestial mechanics operating within an artificial model (1day=1year, 4m=1 year, etc). Even when considering "transits", astrologers deal with coordinate points and events happening to these coordinate points (taken from a table or from the computer), which are referred to a conventionalized and abstract chart of an event long in the past.
At no point in the process the astrologer deals with what is happening in the sky, let alone with the relationship someone may have with the sky. He never pays any attention to the possible "influence" of a celestial body over a human being: to do that he would have to go out to the field and make some in-situ and real-time observations and measurements, both of celestial events and organic processes, as any sane and serious scientist would do. No! He simply looks at a map, and then fancies himself or herself being in harmony with the universe, without ever leaving the office or even the chair.
In other words, what the astrologer is doing is using a technology, or a tool. Astrology today is a tool for measuring and analyzing things, "qualities", and time. This is not a side-effect, it is its fundamental nature. Astrology does not involve any particular metaphysical view at all: philosophy with regards to astrology --as to any technology or tool-- is a question of personal preferences only.
We are all used to see "rectifications" done by different astrologers and arriving at very different results. I believe this is the rule in rectification, rather than the exception: the chart you produce is one that "works". The often wildly different results regarding the correct "birth time" all produce charts that "fit" the person --or nation--, even though the time may not correspond to what is recorded.
Am I making things up or is this a description of how things are in practice (as opposed to theory?).
Now, some astrologers have expressed here the idea that because a life or a personality always follows the chart very closely, this implies there is no free will. But one thing does not imply the other in any way, this is a false logic. For this to be true, it has first to be demonstrated that the wrong chart doesn't work, but the practical reality of rectification seems to show that this is not true: "wrong" charts often work very well, the same as charts with non-existent planets (e.g. the Uranians) and non-existing and mathematically erroneous points (e.g. the "Black Moon"), all work very well.
I believe that we have a strongly "physics" bias in our thinking when it comes to astrology, and ignore the fact that astrology is a cultural and historical product, a reflection of the analytical categories and symbolical structures of the mind, and only very superficially related to the "things out there" actually happening in the sky.
I too believe that the universe is designed in an orderly way in which everything is connected, but in my post I was explaining why astrology does NOT deal with events in the heavens, since what the astrologer does contradicts this idea. I still would like to know in what way what I said was wrong.
What astrologers do, contradict what most of them say or think about "relating to the heavens" and "the influence of the stars". Astrologers never work in-situ or in real-time, they work with discrete and abstract coordinates seen from the perspective of a completely conventional system of meanings established by tradition, i.e., they work with models exclusively, never with the reality of what happens in the sky.
The use of "transits" makes a lot of people feel that they are measuring the relationship someone may have with what is happening in the sky at a given moment, but the normal astrological practice makes of this a fallacy, because 1-) the "transit" is not of a celestial object but of a mathematical unidimensional projection of one of its coordinates (longitude, declination, etc.), and 2-) this discrete coordinate is almost always seen with respect to the map of an event in the past that has been arbitrarily chosen to represent an entity, it is NEVER with respect to the entity itself nor with any living being.
This is one of the many reasons why any explanation of the astrological mechanism based on the idea of "biological clocks", "cosmobiology", and the like, crumbles completely. Astrology doesn't deal at all with living organisms, like biology, but with symbolic organisms, like a nation, a question, a business, a "person", a "biography", symbolized by means of a map done for the moment of birth and which is assumed to represent this entity. The chart is not the entity, it only represents it based on a series of conventions.
Horary astrology also suggests the idea of real-time. The truth, however, is that the astrologer, besides not working with positions in the sky but with discrete coordinates, is using a complex system of significators, house meanings and rulerships, ring-around-the-rosy derivations of meaning, symbolical manipulations of time, considerations before judgement, etc., which put in evidence how far such practice is from "relating to the heavens". It is not planetary positions in the sky what the astrologer uses, but conventional models built by means of analogies and only superficially related to celestial mechanics, together with the projection on paper of the structure of the mind.
The existence of any entity is a very complex system of relationships in constant movement through time, and astrology provides us with a model for such a system, simplifying and reducing reality so that it can be organized and controlled. Any model is a symbolic, selective, and limited representation of reality, not a copy of it. An astrological chart does not represent "our cosmic environment", but an entity's existence at all levels: cosmic, biological, social, psychological, etc.
In other words, a birth chart is not a map of the heavens, but a map of the person and his or her circumstances. It doesn't represent the relationship we have with celestial bodies, or their alleged deterministic influence on, or synchronistic concordance with, our lives: it represents us! The astrologer never works with the "points of light" found in the heavens, he or she works with cultural classification and semantic systems, with the organization and categorization of reality and history, like a clock or calendar which is used to measure and organize the qualities of time or the becoming.
Astrology works with discrete coordinates, not with the true positions in the sky, and these coordinates are referred to a radix, not to a living person. This has nothing to do with "being in relationship with the sky". Using telescopes is completely unrelated to being an astrologer, it is not part of the practice of astrology and won't change its nature. The seasonal scheme breaks completely in the tropics, and is inverted in the Southern hemisphere. When we use tropical exact 30-degrees signs, which exist only as an abstraction in the human mind --and particularly when, e.g., Aries is related to the symbolism of "Spring"--, we are dealing with a cultural system, no with sky-watching or with natural phenomena.
The whole of astrology is like this. What I'm saying, and have given the reasons why, is: what does sky-watching or relating with celestial phenomena have to do with the _practice_ of astrology (i.e., what astrologers do when they practice their craft, as opposed to what they think or they say they do)
Fiducial points in space or time are used in science for measuring purposes as reference points. But astrology uses the fiducial point or moment, which is by necessity arbitrary, and works exclusively with it, never with a real person or entity. And the entity which is said to be represented is not a physical organism, subject to physical laws, but a completely symbolical organism, like a person, or a business, or a question, or a relationship. This has nothing to do with the relationship something or someone may have with what is going on in the real-time sky out there.
The calendar, like astrology, measures cycles in nature. And so does the clock. This doesn't make them mysterious and nobody talks about "their energies". Astrology is just like the clock and the calendar: a theoretical and cultural construct, a model. People don't say nowadays that the calendar or the clock IS time! It is a tool that models time.
The key here is the words you use: "patterns" and
is a measurement tool. It measures symbolical and subjective time,
all its dense cultural matrix of categories, qualities, and
Astrology doesn't measure celestial phenomena or our relationship with the sky out there (the "cosmic environment"); rather, it USES celestial measurements in a very symbolical/analogical way TO MEASURE SOMETHING ELSE. This is what a model is about. A model is a tool. Now, the question is: what is it that astrology is measuring? (Since to say that it measures celestial phenomena as they relate to us would be like saying that it measures its measurements).
I don't see time as measurement, or as "medium", but as change itself, a flow, a becoming, a endless river...
I said that astrology "measures symbolical and subjective time". In other words, it is measuring "subjective becoming" and symbolical reality, i.e., the reality of consciousness and the mind. This is so because Astrology qualifies the measurements through a dense cultural matrix of classifications, qualities, categories (the signs, the houses, the elements. the planetary hierarchy and meanings). This matrix is a projection of the human mind, and it is completely symbolical.
This is why I used the word "subjective". Astrology is not measuring the objective world; it presents us a "screen" over which one can see projected the inner structure of the mind, the "world-system", the structure or intelligibility of the world, what we have called "order" and "pulse". Celestial mechanics is reduced to a very symbolical/analogical device that we use to measure change, time, "the becoming", inside this complex matrix.
Since we are projecting-out this matrix and we are using celestial mechanics, the result is an objective or "objectifying" tool. This objectification is what gives astrology its enormous value. It becomes a monitor (a "screen") of the reality of subjective life, i.e., a "person", a relationship, a nation, a business project, a question (horary), a "life", etc. These are all symbolical, not natural realities. Astrology deals only with symbolical organisms.
Let's imagine someone walking or standing in the open field (or wherever), with the sky above, the ground below. It's night-time and you can see the starry heaven and the few transiting planets. It is only natural and reasonable to think that astrology someway focuses in the relationship this person has with the stars and planets in the firmament at that moment, but, in practice as opposed to theory, from the point of view of astrology, this is not the case.
But before continuing, let's remind ourselves that we are speaking exclusively of transits here, and that transits are only one among other techniques (progressions, directions, returns...). Only transits, plus horary and electional astrology, have this semblance of a direct relationship of a person with what is happening in the sky throughout his or her life (real-time). The rest of astrology never deals with real-time events in the sky.
Now let's see how astrology proceeds in the case of transits:
A- What is happening in the sky
B- is separated into discrete coordinates (longitude, latitude, ascension...)
C- these abstract coordinates are related to a radix.
D- an interpretation is made according to conventional meanings.
At no point in this process, the real person, the real flesh and blood living human being, enters the picture, and the working model is made of abstract and separate coordinates taken from a table of geocentric positions (not topocentric, not refracted, not what is seen in the sky --the difference can reach more than 1 degree in the case of the Moon). Besides, abstract and discrete coordinates, which is what the astrologer works with, is not the same thing as a real object in the sky.
Except exclusively at the time or instant when a radix is being figured out, astrology never deals with what is actually happening in the sky with reference to a real person. It deals with the behavior of coordinates in a map, not directly the behavior of objects in the sky (there are often patterns in the map which never appear in the sky or in the physical world), and these coordinates are numerically and symbolically manipulated within a model (the chart) which is taken *as if* it were an entity, like a business, a question, a job, a relationship, a "person"...
These are all symbolic organisms, not living organisms. Their existence is modelled by means of a conventional chart, and astrology works exclusively with these symbolic entities, never with real living organisms or people, as far as its mechanism is concerned.
It is true that mundane astrology works often without a radix, but it is the same: you don't relate with what happens in the sky, or what is seen through a telescope, only with what happens to the discrete coordinates in an abstract mathematical space. Two examples are enough:
1- The ingress of a planet to a sign is not an event in the sky, the exact 30-degree signs do not "exist" in the sky and can never be observed.
2- Chiron conjunct Pluto December 30, 1999: this happened only in the abstract mathematical models astrologers work with. The real planets were 6.8 degrees apart in the sky, i.e., the distance of at least 13 full-moons away from each other (this is a mild case)
"Real humans are intrinsic to the meaningfulness of astrology" is beyond question, since astrology is the product of human culture and it is used by humans and for humans. "Real planets" are used to construct the charts, but that they are "intrinsic to the meaningfulness of astrology" is only a belief contradicted by practice, as I think I have explained, not to mention that very meaningful astrology can be made with very unreal "planets", like the uranians, the black moon, and charts done for the wrong time, as is attested over and over again by the results of common rectification practices.
I noted that this example is a "mild one" (6.8 degrees). Differences larger than this happen all the time among the regular planets. For example, the latitude of the Moon is 5 degrees, Mercury 7 degrees. This produces differences of twice the magnitude of the example mentioned. Between the Moon and Venus alone, the difference can reach 8 or 9 degrees (the distance of 17 full-moons in the sky), and astrologers will still interpret them as in conjunction.
Example: the last full Moon, April 18, 2000, 17h42m UT. This is what the ephemeris says, and this what the astrologer works with. In the sky, at this moment, they are 175.0 degrees apart: 10-full Moons away from 180 degrees. An this is only half of what normally happens between the Moon and Mercury.
Additionally, the real position of the Moon in the sky is topocentric, not geocentric. This produces differences of up to 1 degree, which, in primary directions, means 1 year, yet astrologers claiming high accuracy through primary directions invariably use the geocentric Moon.
This situation does not change when using equatorial coordinates, and is greatly magnified in high latitudes. The Moon or Mercury may appear in a chart below the horizon while they are actually above.
The only technique that comes to mind now which uses the real planets or stars in the sky, is the paranatellontas, which is used only by a minority of astrologers working with natal charts. The more we try to deal with the real sky, the more we distance ourselves from common or traditional astrological practice.
This is why I say that the superficial idea of astrology being "about what is happening in the sky" is mostly a fallacy. An it is a double fallacy when people say that astrology deals with how one is affected by events in the sky from a "real" or physical perspective, since this "one" is normally not my body but a chart of an event long in the past (the radix), or a chart for a symbolical and completely subjective event, such as a question.
In other words, astrology is not about "our relationship with
out there". It makes use of the mechanics of the sky to build models
refer not merely to the sky or to organic processes (our "cosmic"
but to the totality of life as it is experienced by people. It is
There is no question about the astronomical reality of the zodiac and of the Vernal Point, but I see the equal-signs of the zodiac as cells in a componential or classification system. We can call it "the system of the world".
It is very hard for me to imagine how the Earth can produce exact, abrupt, and adjunct sectors of space with antithetical qualities and "colours": 30 degrees of fire (cardinal) next to 30 degrees of earth (fixed) next to 30 degrees of air (mutable) next to 30 degrees of water (cardinal). I don't understand how someone can imagine that this is found somewhere in the sky. A 12-division natural zodiac I can imagine, and it indeed exists, but not these discrete sectors with specific and contrasting colorful characteristics.
In nature and real-life, the elements and qualities of the zodiac are all found mixed, in heaven as in earth (physically speaking), not separated into tight 30-degree sectors of a belt circling the Earth. To me, the signs look more like a dictionary of social/collective characteristics or orientations through which we identify and differentiate one person or entity from another.
[random planet positions:]
We make them relevant by the way we use them. Precisely because they are "random", they will never be induced by the human mind, and can serve as an objective screen and classification system. The transcendental order that appears is what we discover about life and about the universe through this screen, not about the signs or about astrology. The signs do not point to themselves. I believe people mystify astrology unnecessarily. There is nothing mysterious in the way the clock or the calendar work, and the principle behind astrology is the same.
I do not expect others to interpret the facts the same way I do, but at least we can acknowledege some of the facts which are normally ignored, hence the "theory vs practice".
I understand that the way I interpret those facts goes against what a lot of people assume as truth without question. Rather than imposing my interpretation, I am interested in learning in what other ways the facts mentioned (about the coordinates and the non-organic nature of the astrological "subject" (a symbolical entity=the radix, a question, etc.) can be interpreted.
This is my view:
We start with the real planets and celestial mechanics to build our models, but, once built, we plunge into a symbolical universe which is not related to what in real-time is happening in the sky (all the directions, progressions, transits to the radix --esp. the converse transits). This is how astrology works. Because in the universe and in life there is an order, and the most magnificent device that exists and that will ever exist to model the complete system of the world is celestial mechanics. We use it to gain access to the inexorable order of existence, so that we can orient ourselves and have better control over our lives. We are making use of the planets, not because we want them to speak about themselves or about how they affect us, but to, by means of a symbolical *human* manipulation according to convenience, transform the celestial aparatus into a tool or technological device (the chart and its techniques) which can guide our minds and intuition so that they can elucidate the order and the meaning of things. This meaning is not given by astrology per se, it is not "inside" a chart: it is being produced by the one who practices it.
Astrology is only a tool, and what matters is the aim the tool is made for, not the tool itself. An able and experienced practitioner can achieve those aims through unsuspected means that others may consider nonsense, and it will still be pure astrology. The only sacred and mysterious thing is the object to which we are attempting to apply this tool, which is life and being in all their phenomenal manifestations.
Warmest and coldest is exclusively related to the solar position, not to the planets, and is not directly a function of distance from the equinoxes and solstices but of distance of the Sun from the zenith, which varies with latitude and solar declination. If zodiacal sectors acquire a symbolism related to the Sun passing through them (seasonal), then it is only a generalized meaning which is being applied to anything else that passes through that sign, regardless of season. This means it is being used as symbol.
The calendar has this powerful and "mysterious" capacity of predicting any time in advance (say 30 years in the future --or in the past) that such and such a day will be Tuesday, and not only that, it can tell you that it will be summer and it will give you a very accurate estimate of the temperatures and long-range weather pattern that you can expect that day, plus many other things. Awesome! What a mystery!. Astrology is the same: it can tell you what are the planetary combinations at any point in time, and tell what to expect. I personally fail to see the mystery or magic of this. It is sheer technology to me.
Electro-magnetism cannot be used to explain the powerful action of tiny and distant Pluto, for example. Physics actually contradicts it. The lamp in your desk or in the operation room when you were born are incommensurably more powerful in this respect.
I can see what you're saying as a pattern, or "energy trend", i.e., certain order, which we, with our minds and by means of analogy, measure and model with what is order per se: the celestial aparatus.
Then we are not dealing with celestial physical bodies but with time, like a current in the etheric body of the Earth and of Man. I believe that astrology is about time, not about celestial physical bodies. Time is the closest one can find to the uni-dimensional projections of coordinates used in an astrological chart.
They are not "planets" (i.e., objects), but "planes of orbit", i.e., motion along the plane of the orbit, which is "gesture", dancing, sounding, singing, and time.
I am happy with ecliptic coordinates, which I often like to complement with parans. I do not have anything against the use of ecliptic coordinates, nor do I think there is anything wrong with them. That doesn't bother me. What bothers me is what people say. Most of astrology is "ecliptic", and the vast majority of astrologers use ecliptic coordinates exclusively. Equatorial coordinates make no change here: the "event" is often nothing that can be seen; the experience we may have of the sky often does not correspond to what is seen in an astrological chart, and astrologers in practical terms never *relate* to what happens in the sky, only to what happens in a chart or in a table of coordinate points.
The result of not acknowledging this fact, the way I see it, is the fallacy that astrologers work with events in the "sky" (your qualification of local/mundane/observable sky is fine), while the only thing I see is astrologers relating to events happening to abstract coordinates in a chart, events that most of the time do not happen at all in the sky. We practically never deal with real astronomical objects in real-time, only with the abstract points (the astrological "planets") and with symbolical time (progressions, directions, converse transits, radix charts).
The "abstract coordinates plane" (equatorial or ecliptic) where things occur in astrology is not the same as the local/mundane/observable "sky", it is only a representation, a map. Saying that the map refers to this sky anyway is true only in the case of transit-to-transit, and doesn't change the fact that the astrologer works with a map exclusively, and as a rule confuses the map with the real thing.
My preoccupation is that not acknowledging these facts results in a wrong perception about the nature of astrology and in the repetition of an age-old fallacy. A lot of astrologers say that they deal with "the sky out there", while in reality they are interpreting "events" happening to abstract points in a plane only (transits), usually referring to a graph of an instant of time which happened many years ago (the radix), events that do not relate to anything happening in the sky in real-time (progressions, directions). To this is added the fact that the "point" used is (in most cases) geocentric, a difference which becomes very important in the case of the Moon if we realize that 1 degree is the equivalent of 2 full-Moon disks in the sky.
Doing this and then saying that astrology refers to how celestial objects "affect" us or are related to us, looks like fallacy to me. I understand that we use them to build our model based on coordinates, but from that point on we work exclusively with the model made of unidimensional points in an abstract or "artificial" space and time (the radix), which we manipulate at convenience in numerous ways. This is why I see astrology more as a technological device through which we can elucidate the order or system of the world, or rather, of consciousness.
About local space: I assume (may be wrong) that you refer to horizontal coordinates. Intuitively, I feel that horizontal coordinates are significant and important, although in the tropics where I live they tend to produce a lot of "distortion" (only my Mercury azimuth projection line leaves the tropical regions, for example --it crosses the mid-US). I just haven't explored them. I feel that by using the zodiac, which is "universal and non-local, we are probably relating things in a way that is common to everybody in the world, and this is why it seems as the more natural reference system for psychological analysis, while the equatorial, more dynamic and based on rotation, seems appropriate for "events" astrology. The horizontal reference system would then be the most "vertical", the closest to our true (isolated?) individuality, as Dane Rudhyar once suggested.
The seasonal cycle is a cycle in time related exclusively to the Sun. When we convert the cycle into simultaneous sections of space in the sky, each with different "seasonal qualities", we are transposing the real experience of time and the physical characteristics of the seasonal cycle into a symbolic matrix in space with which we give qualities to the planets, which have nothing to do with the seasons.
The different *seasonal* characteristics, physically speaking, apply exclusively to the Sun. Any other use is symbolical, and comes from a transposition of time into space, which can be done only through abstraction and symbolization. Exactly what happens in the calendar, where discrete units of time become temporal distances or spatial "cells", and this reflects a change of consciousness from the "real experience out there" to abstraction and pure mathematics.
The measurements of time are provided by planetary motions. The key here to me is the word "motions", which is not the same as "bodies". Planetary motions, astrologically speaking, are "trajectories" ("orbits") which are really time seen abstractly as distances in space. This is what I feel the coordinates of an astrological chart measure, these one-dimensional distances in a flat space which allow the trajectories to intersect, thus measuring the cycles.
After reading what I just sent, I realized it needs more clarification before continuing an exchange of opinions and ideas, since none of the above represents what I'm saying. As I already suggested, I do not object nor it bothers me a bit anything about traditional astrological practice or techniques. I am very happy with them. I object and it bothers me what people say about what they do in theory, which is contradicted by practice, i.e., being in relationship with what is physically happening in the sky.
Uranian astrology formulas completely exclude celestial latitude. To say that these kind of formulas "define" astrology is to affirm that astrology does not deal with real celestial bodies, only with abstractions. In other words, if the Moon in a chart appears rising in the first house in the zodiac, that is astrological. If in the real world the real Moon is well above the real horizon in the 12th house, and someone tries a technique that handles that reality, that would not be astrological.
But Uranian Astrology is very un-physical anyway, since it works heavily at still another level of abstraction in the 8 hypothetical planets that defy the laws of physics and move in virtually flat, circular, and unperturbed orbits around the Sun. This exists only in the mind, it is impossible in nature.
Nevertheless, Uranian Astrology "works" very well, even though 1-) completely ignores real celestial objects and works only with ecliptical projections, and 2-) completely ignores the laws of celestial mechanics and works with imaginary and physically impossible orbits...
... one good piece of evidence that --to me-- shows how the usual models used to explain astrology in terms of physics are flawed.
The astronomer, or the software writer, or the maker of ephemerides, works with the real planets in order to derive their ecliptical coordinates or points. But this process is not astrology. Astrology starts when the astrologer makes use of these ecliptical points, and, according to Uranian formulas, to the exclusion of everything else. A coordinate point is an abstract projection (longitude) on a geometrical plane (the ecliptic) in a flat diagram: this is not the same as taking the actual physical planet. All the operations of "the formula" are carried on these discrete and abstract points on the plane with zero latitude, not on the real positions of the planets in the sky.
The actual angular distances between actual points in the celestial sphere are independent of coordinate systems, and are never used in astrology. All the harmonics are measured among these abstract coordinate points, never among the actual planets. If you consider that Venus, for example, reaches latitudes of 8 degrees (not to mention Pluto), then it is evident that what is being measured, what is being analyzed by means of harmonical theory is distances between conventional (and convenient) abstractions, but not among the planets in the real physical world.
What I think is not valid is the assertion <<That which in astrological parlance does not conform to this mathematical formula is NOT astrological>>.
This formula applies only to coordinates projected on a plane. I have no questions about its validity, but wanted to point out the fact that it does not refer directly to the positions of planets in the sky. I think that the confusion astrologers make between a coordinate point and a real physical object in the sky is very widespread and results in fallacious theories about the nature of astrology.
This distinction is not "rhetorics" as you call it. It is fundamental.
I like Uranian algebraic notation myself, and think that it is an expression of the fundamental nature of astrology.
I cannot take the Uranian planets for granted without question, as many do. I feel myself forced to exclude them. But this is totally unrelated to the fact that they work. The general tendency is to dismiss them as "an anomaly" in astrological thought and practice, based on very unrealistic prejudices about the hypothetical "physical" nature of astrology.
The longitudinal ecliptic angular relationships will still be often different from the relationships in the real world. The Moon can still appear in exact conjunction with Venus in the ecliptic and be quite distant from Venus in the real world (up to 12 degrees, i.e., several thousand Venus visual diameters in the sky)
There are many alternative measurement systems in astrology, but I don't see this as a "problem" unless you mix them without distinguishing between levels. One does not (or should not) mix apples with oranges. For example: if I want to use a particular system of Primary Directions (there are many), I must stick to it, and not mix it with, for example, solar-arc directions. I commented this point when talking about Occam's razor.
For example: one could make a difference, and a gradation, between conjunctions where the two planets also have approximately the same latitude (thus appearing very close also in the sky) and conjunctions when in the real world they are very far apart because of their respective latitudes. They could be qualitatively 2 different types of conjunctions.
But not all astrological techniques refer everything to the same plane. For example: Parans and Astrocartography. Does this mean that they are "not astrological"?
I have no problem with the algebraic formulation, and in fact I like it, as long as:
1-) It is realized that it represents zero-latitude coordinates upon a plane (i.e discrete coordinates, therefore abstract and conventional), not the physical angular relationships between objects in the sky. From my perspective, if --as you say-- this were a "given", then astrologers would not keep repeating that astrology deals with the "planets in the sky" and that it is a branch of physics.
2-) It is recognized that other non-projected, non-reduced points and measurements (e.g. Parans) are also "astrological". Perhaps, one could reconcile Parans (measured along multiple planes) with the algebraic formulation simply by stating that in such a case the relationship between the factors (e.g., 2 planets moving in different ascensional planes) is measured as distance IN TIME (i.e., equal temporal distances from the horizon and meridian), and not in abstract space... something like the "harmonics of time".
Regarding the validity of signs, rulerships, house placements, house cusp systems, etc., I think it is absurd to think that they are not or should not be considered "astrological", but I am with you in thinking that they are not needed at all and that the astrology of the future will dispense with them.
Theoretical explanations that are clearly contradicted by what is done in practice, because a coordinate point is mistaken for the real thing, and a chart is mistaken for a real biological organism being under the "influence" of celestial events. The model is confused with what it is modelling.
Not understanding the nature and mechanics of the tools we use, how they are constructed, and the many alternative ways of doing the calculations, results in a widespread misunderstanding of what astrology is or is not.
In a nutshell:
1- The astrologer works with abstract coordinates, not directly with celestial objects.
2- Astrological events happen between coordinates, not between celestial objects.
3- These events are related to an equally abstract chart, not to a living person or being.
These facts, which to me is like 2+2=4, represent no problem at all in practice. Such is the nature of astrology. To my mind, however, there is a problem when it comes to the interpretation of what astrology is or how it works, so I honestly would appreciate if someone could explain to me why these facts are wrong or false or are of no consequence when people say that astrology is part of the natural and physical sciences or the study of the direct "man's relationship with the stars" (stars=celestial objects in general).
In practice, the use of Uranian planets is not very different from working with any of the alternative systems of directions or of house division. They are all equally "made up" by the imagination. Many scientific theories that have been discarded are also made up, as well as many others that will be discarded in the future. Are you saying that working with the Hamburg School planets is an "intellectual cartoon" etc. and working with houses or with directions (primary, solar arc, etc) is not? If "yes", can you explain why?
The difference is that the astronomer does not talk or think as if the single one-dimensional coordinate, taken in isolation, were the real thing, as many astrologers do.
- neither the 30-degree signs of the signs of the zodiac nor the houses correspond to anything physical or observable in nature.
- if you live in a place with high mountain ranges in the East or West, the precise astrological Ascendant or Descendant is only a fiction of mathematics.
- the geographical or astronomical map is *used* as a representation of topography or of the heavens, while the astrological chart is used as a model of something else (a real person, a question, a nation, an event...)
I have never said there is a problem or there is anything that must be corrected or is wrong, with the exception of the general assumption that astrological events are the same as astronomical events.
A conjunction in longitude of the progressed Sun with the radical Pluto is an astrological event. It does not deal with anything real, because nor the radical Pluto nor the progressed Sun can be found anywhere in the sky at the moment it is said to happen. They are completely abstract or "faked" entities.
Furthermore, the transiting Ascendant in conjunction with
Venus in longitude is an astrological event, but the real astronomical
event may be far away. Let's see a concrete example: Venus "rising"
the ascendant in an astrological chart cast in London, August 20, 1999.
This happens at 5h01m UT. But this is the *astrological* event
These 2 (the progression and the conjunction with the Ascendant) are only mild, general examples. The numbers can grow dramatically when you deal with Pluto.
So, an astrological event is one thing, a real physical or astronomical event happening between real planets in the sky is another. There is nothing wrong with this. This needs not be corrected. What needs to be corrected is the assumptions astrologers make that have no basis in reality, namely, that astrology deals with what happens in the sky physically. This is a fallacy.
In natal and most other branches of astrology, you use a radical chart. TECHNICALLY, all astrological events, transits included, happen to this chart, not to the person who it is said to represent.
For example: transiting Uranus in 8 Aquarius is "exactly" conjunct somebody's I.C or Sun in 8 Aquarius. opposition transiting Mars with 1-degree orb. His house is hit by lightning and part of it burns down. This is an astrological event with its consequent or corresponding "circumstance" or event (IC=house, Uranus=lightning, Mars=fire, etc).
But physically or astronomically, what is this? Uranus in 8 Aquarius is somewhere in space at that moment. Since Mars can reach 5 degrees of latitude and Uranus 2, the opposition may be far from exact and can be actually weak. The radical "I.C." or the radical Sun in 8 Aquarius does not exist physically at all. It is not found in nature and represents a fleeting instant of time that happened many years ago.
It is an astrological event. It is NOT something that happens in the world of nature. There is no way, no technology so far, that can measure "Uranus hitting you". Uranus transits the Midheaven once a day and the horizon twice a day every day of every year for everybody everywhere in the world, born or in their mother's womb, that is below the polar circles.
This is not astrology!
Astrology is: the abstract longitudinal projection of Uranus in the zodiac at a certain moment of time "hits" an equally abstract point in a graph of an event that happened 30 or 40 years ago that, symbolically or by analogy, is taken AS IF it were you. A position in the sky modelled in a certain convenient way "coincides" with the position in a model said to represent you of a point which symbolically is associated with the place you live (I.C.) or your physical integrity (Sun), and out of the many interpretative possibilities of this combination, the lighting circumstance seems to be one among many that fits well with what could be expected from past experience.
Astronomers take photographs of the night sky and analyze them later to find out what was at that portion of the sky at the time the photograph was taken. Astrologers take pictures of the sky at the moment someone or something is born in order to make a conventionalized map from that picture. They then analyze the very conventionalized and abstract map --not the picture-- in order to find what was, NOT in the heavens, but in the life of the person or entity which was born, forever in that person's life and forever after he or she has died.
Some astrologers claim that they study "man's relationship with the stars", meaning the stars "out there" in situ and in real time, but they never go out to the field and study how someone interacts with the stars. There is no technology for doing that in today's civilization. Astrologers go to their office and analyze these very abstract charts and discrete coordinates that very seldom have a correspondence in the sky (progressions, directions, longitudinal contacts with a radix), and some of them, claiming to be "scientific", even tell you that astrology is "a natural science", a branch of physics, yet they NEVER study living biological organisms in situ, only symbolical entities, like "a person", "a destiny", "an event", "an experience", "a question", "a nation"...
The physical scientist laughs, or cries, or gets very angry, and I understand why.
These same ideas were expressed in writing with other or with similar words by Marc Edmund Jones many decades ago, and are repeated in different ways in most of his books. It has always been a curious thing to me witnessing how much recognition and respect he has received in the U.S. and at the same time how badly understood and truly appreciated his thought remains.
This reminds of a conversation between two deafs:
-- Are you fishing?
>Twinkle, twinkle, Theory Star!
Twinkle, twinkle, faked star!
One of the difficulties in the elucidation of the nature of astrology, is that astrology is so ancient, and was born and perfected in cultures and epochs which had very different ways of interacting with reality compared to ours. What astrology was for them (the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Arabs) is not necessarily what it is for us now, and the problem is that, because astrological technology is basically the same since the time of the Greeks, we are muddled and confused by conflicting worldviews.
Contrary to the popular view, astrologers tend to be extremely conservative. This is shown, to my mind, in the use of houses, rulerships, zodiacal signs, conventional aspects, and the overweight given to the birth chart as the sole radical in a person's life. I believe that Uranian Astrology, the Fagan/Bradley siderealists, Harmonics and, more recently, the use of asteroids, effectively breaks with this, but the fact that they are a minority which encounters great resistance and prejudice is in my opinion the best proof of this conservatism.
The main clue about the nature of astrology, to me, is its really boundless capacity to measure and establish order in what looks unmeasurable and disordered, or what William is calling here the <<intangible, but apparently powerful, reality>>. This unlimited capacity comes from the use of celestial mechanics to construct the models with which it works, the "schemes" we invent to deal with "reality", and which, because they are a product of the human mind and consciousness, become very difficult to elucidate. We as astrologers don't see the scheme because it is inside of us, because it is with the scheme that we are "seeing", and we cannot see our own eyes.
But the development of recent disciplines such as philosophy of science, cognitive psychology, anthropology, sociology, and linguistics, provide the necessary intellectual tools to achieve a better understanding of this. It is useless to keep repeating the explanations inherited from the past. They are not explanations for us any more.
Astrology is not any sort of empirical knowledge per se, it is an evolving tool, like language... How do you test language? Astrology is a system of classification, a componential scheme which we use to establish order in man's perception of reality. The proof of this is that it deals with purely abstract or symbolical objects: a "life", a "personality", "an event", etc., and does it with equally abstract models.
I have emphasized the fact that astrology works with coordinates and models, not with celestial objects per se, because this shows that it is a "scheme", a mind-product. Like the meridians and parallels used to locate spots on the Earth's surface, astrology furnishes "a grid" which we superimpose on reality in order to analyze it and manipulate it. This grid can be very sophisticated and has some very special properties, derived from the particular astrological applications of celestial mechanics, and one of them is its ability for an unlimited projection into the past and the future.
Consciousness and time are intermingled. The perception of time goes parallel to the development of consciousness. They express each other. Time here as "becoming" is perceived by man through celestial events, mainly the nocturnal sky for the Babylonians, mainly the Sun for the Greeks. Astrology is "a grid of the becoming", a model of reality as it flows in the human mind.
This is demonstrated by 2 simple facts:
1- it is possible to make good astrology, including accurate predictions, from inaccurate data: witness the many versions of the U.S. chart, or of Ronald Reagan's chart, all done with care and with a study to back them. The fact that the accurate data "works better" is the result of the mind's tuning to its specifity.
2- it is always possible to use alternative astrological models (for example, primary directions vs. converse transits, midpoints vs. asteroids, different house systems, etc) to analyze the same reality, and come with equally meaningful and "accurate" descriptions or predictions.
Once it is established that astrology makes no use of real tangible celestial objects and events except indirectly, in their less literal physical sense, we can start to answer the question "why" by looking inside the human mind and tackling with how it deals with inner and outer reality. The "why" is found in the way the mind universally processes the world by means of symbolization, analogy, and concordance.
There is a flow, a unity, a concordance between the "world" (="reality"), "the mind" ("consciousness"), and "the flow of time" (the one-dimensional coordinates used in astrology). They are not separate things. This is why astrology works.
I have always felt that one of the difficulties we have in understanding how astrology works, has to do with our very limited understanding of the nature of time, and that if it is possible to make long-term prediction from a birth chart, it is because time is "contained" in it, simultaneously as past, present, and future.
This is probably a characteristic or property not of an astrological chart specifically, but of the moment or instant it is representing. It is the same with every other "freeze", such as a picture. Any moment of time, or rather, certain very significant (for our consciousness) moments of time, contain in themselves --like an artistic painting or a well elaborated scene in a movie-- a revelation of the past and of the future through their "signature" or "physiognomy" (appearance) in the present. People's faces and gestures are like that: they are constantly revealing the past history and the future potentialities or "promises".
This is a fact of life. With astrology and the high level of abstraction of its tools and techniques, based on mathematics, we model this reality, this whole "history" contained in a fleeting moment of time.
If we were able to read this "signatura rerum" by ourselves, if we could "hear" how things and beings or moments talk to us in revelation, if we could understand this language, there would be no need for the abstractions of astrology at all. But curiously, the continuos practice of astrology combined with long experience in "listening" or "reading" the people who come for consultation, can develop this "ear", so that, happily and paradoxically, astrology can transcend itself and the mind can get rid of the strict and limiting mathematical structures and a priori classifications of astrology, which then become an obstacle for real knowledge.
In my opinion, the "weirdness" of a technique is not a reason to dismiss it, as long as it is consistent and has been empirically validated. It can be less, or equally, or more effective than a more conventional or apparently "rational" technique, and this depends on circumstances and the ability of the practitioner.
There is nothing "weird", for example, about the use of planetary hours or of Uranian planets. They simply follow a different type of "rationale" that does not require a physical astronomical or concrete reality.
The Koch and the Alchabitius so-called "systems" are examples of this. Koch is used successfully by thousands of astrologers in Europe and in the US, yet it is not a "system" but a mere algorithm, and it is astronomically absurd, suffering from the same "absurdite" that the mathematician Jules Delhambre saw at the beginning of the 19th century in the Alchabitius system, which was in turn used for centuries in the Arab world.
Other examples are the very effective technique of converse transits, or the intelligent use of minuscule asteroids.
I dismiss the use of Uranian planets, the Koch system, the Black Moon identified with the fictitious mean lunar apogee, etc... not because the do not work or are "inferior" in any way but because my mind requires consistency with itself.. However, another mind less astronomically inclined which ignores the astronomical inconsistencies of these tools can get excellent results with them, if not actually superior than without them. This is attested by the work of thousands of astrologers who use these tools and have validated them for decades.
In my opinion, any model that pretends to explain astrology must include an explanation of why these tools work so well. There is nothing "non-astrological" about them.
Primary directions are very old, and yet are understood by very few, the same as domification systems, which, however, are used by many without understanding them very much. Understanding is not the reason why one idea in astrology is accepted or not.
[about techniques that "don't work"]:
Your language suggests that you would like to have a set of universal or objective standards with which to judge the validity of a technique, but with the condition that those standards should be based on some sort of objective "evidence". I am happy to keep away from that prejudice.
What is "valid" and what is not does not depend on theoretical prejudices but on the results obtained by the practitioner. If a technique doesn't work it is dropped very soon, unless you assume a priory that those who have practiced it for decades are deceiving themselves.
I have explained that astrology is not the study of anything in particular, let alone stars or planets, but a tool or a grid or classification and transformations system with which you can analyze and manipulate reality. What defines an astrologer is not the object of his study but the tools he or she uses.
The mind is a tool, and it is universally applicable, with all its limitations. So are the senses, and the a priori categories such as time and space with which the mind deals with reality. Analysis, whatever its object, follows certain rules and patterns, imposed by the mind and by logic. These patterns or structures (dichotomies, analogies, semantic transformations, symbolic associations) is what astrology is made of, they are the elements with which the classifications and categories of astrology are given meaning and are manipulated. Without this, astrology does not exist.
Astrology is only a matter of the mind because it is only a set of techniques or tools for modelling reality, any reality. It is obvious that it can model certain realities better or worse than others.
What I said about not working with tangible celestial bodies except very indirectly, I see as fact, not an opinion. If this is recognized, what is clearly invalid is your *belief* that "celestial objects are what is studied in astrology". Astrology, like the analytical mind, has no specific object of study. You can study with astrology *anything* that happens in time, with the limitations astrology imposes.
Astrology deals with a world of meanings, and is therefore
or culturally and historically determined. No two people see the world
the same way. Every "astrological act" implies an interpretation, and
therefore subjective. The fact that there is agreement as to meanings
astrology is the result of conventions and cultural similarities, or,
Astrology provides a reference frame for the mind, and it is always the mind, the astrologer, who interprets and extracts information or knowledge, not astrology per se. Astrology is like the scalpel to make the operation, it is not "knowledge" about what it is modelling, but a tool that allows us to understand better what it is charting:
1- by finding "signatures" in the mapping that conduct or lead the mind toward a broader understanding of the issue through past experience with similar signatures in apparently unrelated cases and people.
2- by enhancing the significance of any particular moment or experience through the perspective offered by the "whole" (a cycle, a life) of which it is only a part. It allow us to establish "meaning" beyond the immediate circumstances.
I guess other people, depending on what they use astrology for, will see many other things. But, as far as I am concerned these are its 2 more basic or important (to me, of course) properties.
In other words, astrology is just a trick, a device, an invention, like the wheel or the clock or the calendar. It is very useful and convenient, and often it is real hindrance for true knowledge. What the clock and the calendar measure may be very fundamental, mysterious, or cosmic. But they are just devices or ingenious tricks by themselves, and they can be used and be thought of in very silly ways.
... snip what is "anathema" for science. Who cares! I am not of that religion...
Psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers... etc., "fight" among themselves about fundamental issues, they don't agree about many things, beginning with what they think a human being is... why should not astrologers?
Debate on certain fundamental issues about the nature of Astrology will continue, probably forever, as it happens in all the social sciences or humanities, and especially in borderline (half physical, half social) disciplines like Astrology. The fact, as William said, that it may be back in the Universities doesn't mean there will be agreement on fundamental issues.
In my opinion, pretending to force Astrology into the *exclusive* domain of the physical sciences and their criteria of validity, ignoring the mature criticism that exists of them when applied to other disciplines, is only a prejudice. I personally think that no elucidation of the nature of astrology is possible if we don't account for the following (to me) astrological facts:
- it is possible to work successfully with wrong data, especially when one is unaware of it.
- it is possible to make astrology out of imaginary data, such as the dates and times taken from a movie or a book of fiction.
- it is possible to work successfully with physically impossible "hypothetical" planets.
- it is possible to have very different astrological models of the same thing.
To me, this is Astrology. It is not possible to understand Astrology if all this is ignored and dismissed as anomalies, illegitimate, self-deception, and lack of critical thinking.
I think that we often forget that Astrology, like Medicine, Law, and many others, is mainly a counseling profession, a "social service". Of course there is room for researchers, philosophers, historians, etc. of Astrology, but considering Astrology in a vacuum is ignoring that the other 50% of it, which is the work of an astrologer, the human part, also defines Astrology.
The decision about what is relevant or not should not be based on prejudices or a-priori assumptions.
What is relevant according to your notions may be very irrelevant to me. To me, a very tiny "piece of rock" can be astrologically very relevant if it is in exact conjunction with the Sun or with the Moon and if it has a dramatic and eloquent orbit, as it often is extremely relevant for an astronomer, while physically, well... it can fall near your house and....
Uranian techniques based on hypotheticals are very consistent, their calculation is mathematically rigorous, and the techniques are validated by many decades and hundreds if not thousands of astrologers who use them. One cannot assume a priori that they are *universally* irrelevant, even though they can irrelevant for me.
Who decides what is numbo-jumbo and what is not? Who takes a priori decisions of what is "valid astrology" and what is not? Who is judging present astrological practices as gone astray and wants astrology to be something else from what it is? I could tell you many things that are numbo-jumbo to me and not to the astrological majority.
Many people assume as fact that astrology is a sort of study or "science" of our relationship with the heavens. From this very debatable assumption come many prejudices, such as a priori dismissal of certain techniques that "look weird" from a physichal or astronomical point of view, no matter how effective or how useful they can be, resulting --in my opinion-- in many misunderstandings about things like asteroids, Uranian planets, and other techniques that to these people look as "intellectual caricatures".
Modern-day Astrology does not deal with physical things, it deals with a question, a life, an experience, a "person", a nation, an idea, a business, an "event", a "meeting", a "beginning", a "death", a "birth", etc. These are purely subjective and symbolical entities and events. In my opinion, it is very naive to think of an "event" as something "objective"; it is not. By the same token, any physical or biological or "etheric" imprint theory crumbles completely in front of this.
Why mainstream science and cosmology? and what is mainstream science? Why not linguistics or anthropology or cognitive science? That is where astrology belongs, in my opinion.
The very happy influence of Frech philosophers, authors on astrology, Raymond Abellio especially, also Jean Carteret. Gauquelin mentions them in passing and then forgets them forever in favor of "mainstream" scientific prejudices, unfortunately.
I would like to contribute a few quotes here, to show that this is Marc Edmund Jones's view.
--The most comprehensive and compact exposition of what is Astrology, how and why it works, is found in his "A Primer of Symbolism", published as an appendix to "Horary Astrology", Shambhala, 1975. In page 418, one reads:
<<Astrology in every respect is a
of existence through number. Thus no matter what form this manipulation
may take in practical procedures, the operation is always fundamentally
a case of (a) a mental or logical freezing or conceptualizing of some
state of numerical interconnections, as these come to special
to a particular inquiry, in order to (b) chart some consequent and
shift or possible shift in the particularized context of relationships
with the various parts or wholes of everything else collectively...
--and likewise in page 424 (this is one of my favorite statements!):
<<The illimitable and eternal reality of all that is, of which space and time are a manifestation rather than themselves any sort of creative agency responsible for the cosmic existence, is in practical terms a kaleidoscope of inescapable movement. Nothing ever is still, except as brought to theoretical motionless or inert stability within some mind in process of analysis or judgement.>>
--in page 420:
<<the specialized employment of number that constitutes astrology...>>
--in page 58, regarding this case Horary Astrology:
<<After all, Horary Astrology operates by reflecting the consciousness of the person who practices it...>>
--there are also many illuminating statements in his "The Scope of Astrological Prediction" (1969,1973). For example, in page 147 (I have quoted this here in the past):
<<What does not have general understanding however is the inescapable circumstance that as astrological techniques gain their effectiveness in an advanced refinement or specialization of meaning through the various forms of remove in relationship they depart increasingly from the foundational or literal realities of celestial mechanics. This shift to more and more symbolical designation is represented most familiarly from the very beginning by the distinctive specificities with which the significators are endowed when placed in a geocentric structure. The process continues as symbols are established in layer upon layer of particular and varying but logically ordered context, and while horoscopy in its illimitable range of analytical judgement is thus ever making use of the heavenly phenomena it actually comes to employ them only most incidentally in their original and material or least symbolical base.>>
--And even more clearly, in one of his first books from 1945: "Astrology How and Why it Works" (Penguin, 1975), page 10:
<<Astrology is an organization of the divisions and distinctions in life on a definitely statistical pattern.>>
<<Astrology does not create anything. By the same token it reveals nothing that is hidden. Instead, it facilitates the measure and judgement of what is actually encountered in experience. Its method is a controlled exaggeration of some things, for the better recognition and understanding of others, on the pattern of all psychological analysis.>>
--and in page 33 of the same book:
<<Astrology is a psychological method for charting or measuring experience.>>
So, I would be very happy if it is acknowledged that "Juan's theory" or "Juan's version" has historically been around for many decades at least (not to mention Jones' antecessors), that I am in very good company, and that I had a very good teacher!
That's how a chart is made. But from then on all astrological practice has very little to do with the real heavens or with a person's experience of them. That's a fallacy, in my opinion. However, I agree with you that astrology can be seen as a kind of poetry. Of "the heavens" or "celestial poetry", no.
If someone is serious about "celestial poetry", then go outside and experience the wonder of the heavenly motions and lights, and study them. The real ones, not the faked ones of astrology.
One thing is the poetry of the night sky with its motions and lights, another is the projections over a flat plane, which is with what astrologers work.
Astrology does not work with a mapping of the heavens --ecliptical or not, accurate or not-- except at the moment of making a chart. Everything else, from transits to progressions to rulerships to house meanings to interpretation, more and more as techniques are used, deals with a-priori abstract classifications and meanings that do not correspond to anything found in the sky or in nature, and, especially, with purely symbolical manipulations of time-units that violate physical law and are the result of metaphorical thinking and projections of the analogical structure of the human mind. The hands of a clock and all the metal machinery of a clock are used to measure and model time, but that metal machinery is not "time". To say that the technology of astrology is supposed to be a picture of the real heavens out there is as absurd as saying that the machinery of a clock, with its pendulum, or the hour, minute, and seconds digital or analog markers, is supposed to be a picture of something that is "in nature out there". That could be possible only by way of metaphor. No metaphor, no astrology as we know it.
Astrology does not measure a mechanism of cause and effect in any way. That happens only inside the mind of some people who are believers and followers of a pervasive paradigm that interprets the world in terms of a mechanical metaphor.
We astrologers measure the universal concordance of all things. Therefore, one thing always speaks of the other, one is the oracle of the other. Every time we make an astrological interpretation, we are re-creating the world, re-creating reality with the elements that the particular techniques we are using provides. In this sense, astrology is no different than poetry, and both are trying to find, or establish through the use of language, the common elements, the structural and semantic similarities between things, their "common" trunk in human consciousness. Doing this, astrologers are able to break the apparent chaos and physical and temporal separations of the physical world, and can connect the inner world of the mind with the outer phenomenological reality. This is only possible because of language, which builds a complete dialectical system of the world. Such is poetry, psychoanalysis, and all the human endeavors that are possible thanks to the nature of language and consciousness.
You use them to obtain the coordinates and the modelling of time... once obtained, you proceed by way of analogy and conventions, following astrology's own rules which need not be dependent on the behavior of the physical world. Astrology's rules are dependent not on celestial mechanics, but in the particular analogical and numerical manipulation of this mechanics imposed by the a-priori analogical codes of the human mind, which are used to interpret reality.
Mathematical accuracy may have little to do with "true" or "correct" or "natural". Houses and zodiacal 30-signs have very little to do with "natural", and yet, astrology is built on them. Harmonic relationships along a geometrical plane (aspects) could never be "seen" in the sky. So neither houses, nor signs, nor aspects, are "natural", and yet the mind thinks they are "correct" or "true".
Astrology is not a picture of the physical world but a picture of the mind. By using celestial coordinates (not the real planets in the sky), it is effectively monitoring man's relationship to the world, acting like a bridge between inner and outer, between objective and subjective.
This is the same thing Ed Fallis said: <<I think it's about an interface between the subjective and objective>>... and <<Astrology (we) also invents its own laws>>
As Bosse Omhav says regarding houses: <<Maybe it is true that whatever system one chooses, it is bound to work>>. Because it is a tool that is used by people, and ultimately the tool is not the important thing, but whatever is done with it, and it is the astrologer's ability in manipulating linguistic codes and symbols what makes it work.
The 30-degree signs of the zodiac are artificial references to a seasonal natural reality that applies exclusively to the Sun and to the temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere, which is then applied universally and to all the planets by means of mathematics, and to which are added other a priori classifications (the elements and qualities). This is a purely cultural thing, not external nature. Otherwise, show me where are exactly 30 degrees of "fire" next to the 30 degrees of... anything in the sky.
They refer to the Sun only, not to the rest of the planets. You can have the Sun in a "summer" sign while the Moon can be "in winter" or in "fall". That can be "nature" only by way of analogy and metaphor. And the seasons of nature have little to with the precise 30-degree "boxes" that the signs are. With the exception of solstices and equinoxes, there are no "jumps" in nature from one sign to the next, only in the mathematics of astrology and of every other classification system, which are by necessity arbitrary.
From another angle, the fact that solstices and equinoxes were accurately calculated by the Babylonians centuries before the Greeks didn't make them change the basis of their zodiac, which remained always the fiducial stars in the night sky. This difference between Babylonians and Greeks is the result of different cultures and mentalities, it is a cultural choice, i.e., the meaning and importance these things have for astrology depends on culture, not on nature.
With few exceptions (such as mundane astrology, "transit to transit") transits are measured always with respect to a radical. Planets are in transit to something. The radical chart is not "out there" in external/physical nature.
Any "event" must be identified first as such by the mind through a subjective process; otherwise it is not recognized and passes un-noticed, it never becomes "an event"
Consider solar eclipses, for example. Unless you are in or near the eclipse path, the event is totally in existent physically. People consistently ignore the several total eclipses happening each year, some of them very impressive, but happening in un-inhabited areas. However, if it happens in Central Europe at the turn of a century making very exact "crosses" in paper (not in the sky!), no matter how mediocre and insignificant it is astronomically compared to other giant eclipses of the century, it is given an enormous importance, for cultural and subjective reasons only. And astrologers consistently use the eclipses taken out of the ephemeris, even though in the world the are just a regular New Moon for those not in its path.
This is not outer/physical nature or astronomy. It is culture, analogy and metaphor.
The moment of declaration of Independence, the moment when a contract is signed, when a question appears in the mind, the moment when I received a phone call, when I open the doors of a restaurant, the moment that I choose as *significant* for erecting the chart, is established thorough a process of symbolic thinking which is subjective and culturally determined, it is not established by outer/physical nature. Why do you choose the moment of birth as the radical of a historical figure, and not the moment of death? That is culture (cause and effect prejudices), not physical nature. Why the moment of birth is given more importance than the moment of conception? Culture, not physics or biology.
Furthermore, from the opposite angle, unless one is deterministiscally rotten, the fictional events of a novel or a movie to which you can apply successfully the astrological tool are not part of external/physical nature. External/physical "nature" doesn't say anything, either, as to why you can work so well with the wrong chart (as long as you are unaware of it and think it is accurate!) and with Uranian planets, Arabic parts, etc, nor can it explain why the same interpretation is accepted as true by different people as long as they think it is specifically done for them and none other (this has been tested through controlled academic experiments).
On a theoretical level, the single most important *practical* implication, to me, is that, to use Bill Sheeran's phrase, "Astrology is what it is and astrologers do what they do", and there is nothing wrong with modern astrology, but many things are wrong with a lot that is said about the nature of astrology by astrologers, based on theoretical assumptions and subjective philosophical preferences contradicted by what they do in practice.
On the practical level, again from my personal standpoint only, the implications of this way of understanding astrology are many and seem to be the result of disentangling it from the compulsory straightjacket of rigid cause-and-effect directionality. Many techniques are then able to show their esthetic beauty and interpretative power, such as converse transits, death charts, Davison charts, etc. Disentangling astrology from this "physical compulsion", which to me is a "matrix of prejudices", gives as a result also a better understanding of the role of asteroids and hypothetical planets.
And, most important, understood this way, as something which belongs to the realm of language and consciousness, Astrology becomes a wonderful tool that can release in a disciplined way the creative potential of the imagination, bringing as a result a true re-interpretation and transformation of reality.
All astrological measurements are (or should be, by definition) completely objective. That's the agreed upon "reality": *mathematical* astronomy. But the measurements are not to measure the measurements; they are to measure something else, i.e., the subjective world of internal and external phenomena as perceived or codified by the mind. This is why astrology is a master monitor between objective and subjective, the "interface" that Ed Fallis explained.
If you believe that astrology must measure the physical reality, then many things in astrology become absurd or erroneous, which to me is a simple prejudice. I should add here to the list one of the most beautiful and basic of all, which is what makes Mercury different from Saturn: orbital symbolism.
Error and absurdity exist in astrology as in everything else, but that's because of the astrologers, not because astrology may be a "caricature" of reality. The astrological system has a way of evolving and transforming in response to the times, as Ed F. said: Astrology (and astrologers) invents its own rules, to which I add: and there is nothing wrong with that. That's its nature and its genius.
There are several points involved here, technical, philosophical, and astronomical. I'll try to list them. We are coming from different views of what astrology is and of how to approach astrological interpretation, so the answer is not simple, not easy... and I certainly do not believe that mine is the only way, or that I can explain it well. Please be patient.
It is the map itself that is establishing a very direct relationship between the Black Moon and the event described regarding the mines. From this I make a symbolical association based on analogies. There is not enough evidence yet, but there is no need. This kind of "evidence" reasoning is to me like we say in Spanish "tomar el rábano por las hojas" (taking the radish by the leaves).
I (or Astrology in general) do not base myself in any sort of empirical relationship between one thing and the other. What I do is interpret one thing in terms of the other. The mapping itself (see my post on Occam's razor) establishes the relationship, not "empirical evidence". I then re-create the reality by means of language and interpretation based on metaphors. This is what we always do with everything, astrology or science or whatever.
Keep also in mind that I wrote <<making Yugoslavia a good example worthy of study to analyze and LEARN the mundane Black Moon symbolism.>>
This is better understood when it is realized that the *osculating* or true Black Moon is very recent and neglected point that not many people use in the world, since, among those who feel attracted to the Black Moon, a great majority use the fictitious Mean Lunar Apogee, which I reject and do not use. The osculating apogee has been available only after 1992, and its meaning is a subject of research.
Astrological symbolism, fortunately, is not dependent exclusively on empirical evidence, however important that is; a lot of it is derived from the orbital symbolism and the simple "naive" analogies that it generates, (e.g., the slow motion of Saturn = old age, wisdom etc.). The whole explanation of the symbolism of the principal planets is derived this way by Marc Edmund Jones in "Astrology How and Why it Works" (1945).
You can read my development of the osculating or true Black
among other things, I wrote:
<<The apogee/empty focus (="kenofocus") is really like a womb, a receptacle, an accumulator, a point of emptiness...>>
This, by analogy, is related to a mine. But it remains a hypothesis that must be validated by experience and "evidence", which in this case, I don't have. The example I just gave is part of the collecting evidence and postulate a hypothesis phase. Most hypotheses in biology and the social sciences never go beyond this. Of course, the hypothesis here is not Black Moon = mines. This is too superficial and circumstantial. The hypothesis is Black Moon - Yugoslavia - event with the mines. There is an enormous amount of research and astrological work to be done in order to operationalize this, but what differentiates astrology from other disciplines is that Astrology tells you a priori that the relationship is there. And this saves you a lot of work.
In Anthroposophy this is called "imaginative thinking". By what decree, in God's name, has been established that experimental science is the *only* possible science there is? There are many profound philosophical studies of Goethean science, for example, examining the way Goethe had of acquiring knowledge. The many shuffle branches of Anthroposophy, from Waldorf education to Bio-Dynamic farming, were developed this way and show the validity and success of the method.
The astrological mapping directs the mind to make the analogy, and the astrological association is established by means of symbolism. We do this all the time in everyday life and in scientific interpretation of data, except that is so ingrained and conventional that we are not aware of it. There is a great deal of material and scholarly references that can be found in the web regarding the role of metaphor in science. One good starting point can be:
"Metaphor in Scientific Thinking Page"
Elsewhere I commented (on Sun/Venus):
<<To me, astrology does not describe circumstances, it says things about them, so the actual circumstances may always be very different and they don't really matter; what matters is what you can say about them, your interpretation of their meaning in terms of what the chart is saying.>>
In this case, the radical Yugoslavia (1992) osculating apogee=empty focus of the Moon is over the Johndro Ascendant, over the solar eclipse point, exactly (<1 degree) square the natal Sun, exactly over (<1 degree) the Moon/Mars axis. Assuming that you give astrological credit to this point (I know most don't), the "mapping" itself is shouting: "Hey! I am important!" "I am very focal!". This is the chart speaking, and I listening, and trying to learn.
This ties with what I said about a "signature", in reference to "the signature of things". (DarkStar understood very well what I was saying in his/her mention of Jakob Boehme). The signature is established by focality and Occam's razor. This signature does not refer to the outer circumstances or appearance. No matter how different circumstances may be, if they share the same astrological signature they are related. The mapping establishes that two things are directly related. Then follows an interpretation of how are they related.
The way I see it, all of astrology involves this kind on
The astrologer does not deal with the stars per se, but with their conventional representations in maps or models which consist of discrete and conventional coordinates. It is the coordinates which are given a meaning and the "stuff" with which the astrologer works, not the physical points in "outer" space themselves, *and*, normally (with very few exceptions such as mundane astrology), the astrologer does not work with the flux or movement of the heavens being modelled *in real time* but with a frozen "skeleton" called a "radical", which is an abstraction of an instant of time that happened long ago. So, in essence, the way I see it, the astrologer does not deal with the "real" or physical stars or planets in space except very indirectly, at the time of building the charts and calculating the coordinates. Once that is done, he or she deals only with the coordinates themselves and their multiple interactions, interpreting events happening to those coordinates (such as aspects) which only seldom correspond to real events in the sky and to real time.
I like to compare it with a clock; we normally relate to the clock, to the model, and not directly to the flow of nature or the becoming. In addition, the clock used by astrology very seldom is related to real physical time, since it involves a completely symbolical non-natural manipulation of cycles and of time (progressions, directions, transits) as they relate to a radical chart, a model of something that happened in the past and does not exist in nature any more.
We use the solar system as a way of modelling the order of the universe. The object of study is not the solar system itself, but what it is modelling, i.e., the flow of time.
Perhaps it is useful to make a difference between what the ancient Greeks thought, and what they did, as we are able to interpret their approach to astrology with modern tools of thinking, and in a historical and cultural perspective. What they really did in their (and our) astrology, as opposed to what they thought or said they did, and as opposed to the Babylonian approach?
For example: the tropical zodiac, as representative of the seasonal cycle is related exclusively to the Sun. When we convert a time-cycle into simultaneous sections of space in the sky, each with different "seasonal qualities", we are transposing the real experience of time and the physical characteristics of the seasonal cycle into a symbolic matrix in space with which we give qualities to the planets, which have nothing to do with the seasons. The different *seasonal* characteristics, physically speaking, apply exclusively to the Sun. Any other use is symbolical, and comes from a transposition of time into space, which can be done only through abstraction and symbolization (metaphor and/or analogy).
This can be seen in the calendar, where discrete units of time become temporal distances or spatial "cells", and this reflects a change of consciousness from the "real experience out there" of Babylonian culture to the abstraction and pure geometry of the Greeks.
In Babylonia the measurements of time are provided by planetary motions, or, in Greek astronomy, by the Sun (a very important cultural difference!). Planetary motions are "trajectories" ("orbits") which, unlike the Babylonians, the Greeks figured abstractly (geometrically) as distances in space. This is what I feel the coordinates of an astrological chart measure, these one-dimensional distances in a flat geometrical space which allow the trajectories to intersect, even though they never intersect in the real world. Like the cycles in a calendar, the intersections happen only in the abstract model. Whether they really happen or not in the heavens out there ***and in real time*** or not, with few exceptions, is of no concern to the astrologer, who works with symbolically manipulated time units and with discrete coordinates and abstract trajectories, never with real physical objects in the sky.
I'm glad to hear that this is a standard model. As I suggested, I think there is a difference between theory and practice. Astrology can be almost anything you want in theory, but it may be something very different in practice. Is astrology what it is thought it is, or what astrologers do? Astrology uses today the same basic tools (planets, signs, aspects, houses, directions...) than 2000 years ago, it is the same "technology" (such as the clock, or the calendar, or the wheel), so we can say that astrologers still do the same thing, technically speaking. The ideas about astrology and its function may change from individual to individual, from epoch to epoch, etc., but, in my opinion, these ideas must match what is done in practice, and, in practice, since the time of the Greeks, the astrologer doesn't deal with "the stars", but with coordinates projected on a plane.
This distinction is basic to me. I would welcome any illumination about why this distinction is not important, or wrong.
To inquire about the planets, or their "behavior" (whatever that means) within a model of thought based on present astrological practice, would be quite irrelevant or inappropriate IF the model used is contradicted by that practice, which is often the case. Or to say it differently: the inquiry, to be relevant, must be based on something which is not modern astrological practices, which, by their nature, contradict the idea that astrology has something to do *directly* with "the stars out there".
Generally speaking, perhaps it is not a question of practices "having no real basis", but of a basis which is to be found or inquired about, since it wouldn't be a practice if it did not have a basis.
This, I think, is born out by the plethora of divergent and assumedly contradictory practices in astrology.
There would be nothing wrong with this plethora if astrologers would be aware how much what they do contradicts what they say or think about the nature of astrology. The plethora is not the evil, but the inappropriateness of the models that claim to explain it. They may not be contradictory at all, but natural results of basic astrological principles. Perhaps the apparent contradictions of many practices is a sign that the model we have to explain astro-practice is inadequate.
The object of study is not the solar system itself, but what it is modelling, i.e., the flow of time in consciousness.
What is "Astrology": an idea or a practice? What defines astrology? Is it acceptable to maintain an idea about astrology which is contradicted by practice?
I said "the measurements of time". There are many differences between Greek and Babylonian astronomy. Babylonian astronomy was based on the motions of the planets correlated among themselves in the night sky (sidereal), and therefore their sense of the passage of time was very weak, whereas Greek astronomy was primarily concerned with the Sun, i.e., with the exact measurement of the timing of events, where events are measured against solar phenomena or markers. The Babylonians used the night sky as their reference frame, the Greeks used solar markers (tropical zodiac).
This doesn't mean that the Babylonian didn't know the things the Greeks knew. It means that their cultural values and practices were different, and so was their astrology and astronomy.
A brief explanation of this found, for example, in Raymond Mercier "Studies in the Medieval Concept of Precession, Part I" ('Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences', (1976) 26, page 200). Also in Willy Hartner "The Young Avestan and Babylonian Calendars and the Antecedents of Precession" page 3, Journal for the History of Astronomy x (1979).
Greek astronomy is based on geometrical models. Babylonian astronomy is not, it is based on numerical or arithmetic models. This fact does not imply that the Babylonians were ignorant of geometry, and doesn't say anything about the origin of the geometrical models. It is the characteristic of a cultural practice.
This is explained, for example, by Neugebauer in "Problems and Methods in Babylonian Mathematical Astronomy",The Astronomical Journal Vol.72, Nr.8 pp. 964-972 (1967), and also in "The Survival of Babylonian Methods in the Exact Sciences of Antiquity and Middle Ages", Proceed. Ameri. Philos. Soc. Vol.107, No.6 (1963)
I am not suggesting about the origin, but about the main characteristic of an established practice...
The argument is based on the characteristics of the "Greek Mentality", as opposed to a "Babylonian Mentality", which --since I am not an expert in this-- is what I have read over and over again, as it becomes evident in what historians know as "Babylonian astronomy" and "Greek astronomy". It doesn't matter --from this perspective-- where something originated. Each culture adapts what it takes from another and imprints it with its own features.
You didn't address my argument that in practice, as opposed to theory, the astrologer doesn't deal with the stars except indirectly. Once the map is done, the astrologer deals with the map, not with the observed reality of the heavens. There are even many who believe that calculating planetary positions is not astrology but astronomy... in which case astrological practice *never* deals with "the stars".
Consider the following:
1-) It is not possible to experience 30 degrees sharp of fire next to 30 degrees sharp of water next to 30 degrees sharp of anything anywhere in the sky.
2-) It is not possible to experience a Moon/Venus exact conjunction appearing in the chart when in the sky they may be separated by 10 or 12 degrees.
3-) Normally (exceptions noted) astrologers work with natal or any other type of radical "charts", so it is impossible to experience "out there" any event, transits included, happening in the chart, because the chart is not an organic entity being subject to planetary influences or whatever: it represents a very artificial fleeting instant of time that no longer exists. Transits, technically speaking, happen to charts, not to people, nor plants, nor animals.
4-) Unless you live in a very flat area or at the beach, the astronomical horizon used by astrology is a mathematical abstraction that can be far from representing the "rising" and "setting" of planets. Any hill or mountain changes the experiential definition of "horizon".
5-) It is completely impossible to experience anything happening below the horizon, unless we are speaking of very subjective non-physical perceptions which cannot be discussed.
6-) It is common to "sense" the time when an *astrological* planet is on the ascendant or descendant, but this refers to the intersection of coordinates and abstract geometrical planes, not to events in the sky. By the same token, a person experiences very powerfully a Moon/Pluto conjunction that only seldom corresponds approximately to something happening in the sky (they are often separated by more than 20 degrees even though the conjunction may be exact in the chart).
7-) The real angular distance of objects in the celestial sphere is never considered in astrology. You work with discrete coordinates always, be them latitude or longitude or declination or right ascension, what is interpreted is events happening between coordinates.
8-) All progressions and directions do not correspond to anything real happening "out there".
9-) With very few exceptions astrologers never work with "real" topocentric positions (a 1-degree difference in the case of the Moon).
When people say that astrology in general, or astrologers, do relate to what happens in the sky, to the real stars or planets "appearing" out there (at night at least, if its not cloudy or hilly or below the horizon), this is immediately contradicted by what they do when they practice their astrology. The above points are the reasons why I say this. I would appreciate any clarification of any of those pints.
To be really a model of astrology, it would need the following:
- that it is not contradicted by well-established astrological practice, regardless of its "physics likelihood".
I personally find it very difficult to accept any model that dismisses many things astrologers do as anomalies, errors, "gone astray" practices, uncritical thinking, etc., only because it doesn't fit into a-priori assumptions about what astrology is or is not. Astrology is defined by what astrologers do much more than by theoretical pre-conceptions physically biased.
It is not only a question of "accurate charting". Astrology manipulates time-units (directions, progressions) and time directionality (converse progressions, directions, and transits). It also manipulates purely symbolical categories (signs of the zodiac, planetary significators, rulerships, etc.), and offers many alternative ways of modelling the same reality (the many alternative systems of directions, the many alternative techniques, the use of asteroids, etc.). All this is very "astrological", and accurate charting is not necessary to provide useful and successful interpretations.
Oblique longitudes derived from the planets' ascensional plane, for example, represent better their positions in the sky than normal ecliptical longitudes. But this sort of accuracy has never been necessary in astrology, even if it is desirable. Medieval astrology worked with very inaccurately calculated charts, and there are multiple carefully worked-out versions of some people and nations' charts that work very well. Accuracy is needed by the mind, because the mind requires the sensation of specificity, but as long as the mind *believes* that it is accurate, the particular chart is accepted without question. The accuracy of the charting is very relative and ultimately subjective, since it is the result of arbitrary conventions and of beliefs. There is no "objective accuracy" in the choosing of the time to erect a horary chart, for example, nor in the choice of "the right moment" to erect a business or a political chart. They all involve subjective interpretations and conventions that need not be related to physics.
In other words, the "accuracy" is required, but not in terms of physics. The mind requires it as a sensation of specificity, i.e., the feeling or belief that the chart is "correct". "Correct", which is subjective and/or arbitrary, is more important than "physically accurate". The astrologer only needs to *think* it is, because that is the *mental* pre-requisite.
This, to me, would be accounting for astrological practice in order to understand the nature of astrology, what astrologers do, not merely theoretical assumptions or prejudices.
I tend to put it as "the subject of astrology can be anything that happens in time". It tries to figure out or analyze the "structure" of things, and it does it in the way you are saying, by furnishing models of complex systems, which could also be called "structures", i.e., systems of relationships.
I like the analogy of a clock or of a calendar. Astrology is very much like a calendar of the development/structure of whatever it is applied to. Let me translate here something I wrote in 1992 (the complete essay can be read in Spanish in my site: "Naturaleza y Estudio de la Astrologia" (http://www.expreso.co.cr/centaurs/essays/es/estudio.html):
<<Astrology, from the practical point of view, is a set of tools or techniques through which it is possible to establish and analyze the structure of practically everything that happens in time. Any calendar structures time based on a compartmentalization of astronomical cycles, which then become slices of space over which temporal distances are measured. Astrology, through a process of semantic intensification, presents us a qualitative structure of time that can be analyzed impartially and objectively by means of a specialized language. When applied to the life of a human being, astrology means the possibility of modelling or representing the underlying sense and structure of a biography in development... In other words, the astrological structures, applied to a human life, establish a calendar for the development of this life through the use of measurements and the mathematical mapping of the subjective and qualitative dimensions of experience.>>
We use one thing that can be measured directly and with precision (the celestial apparatus), in order to furnish a model of something which cannot be measured directly (subjective experience, symbolical entities and "events"...). This is the fundamental assumption, and it seems to have some "mystery". But in reality, to me, it has not more mystery than a calendar. The "mystery", perhaps, is in understanding that astrology is not "about" celestial objects, but about "time". I feel that if we are able to understand the very intimate relationship between time --or rather the flow, the becoming-- and "consciousness", we will be able to grasp the reason why celestial mechanics can "measure" subjective reality.
But this is astrology only in part, related probably to its beginnings or its foundations, because we cannot assume that astrology, i.e., astrological practice, works through a sky-to-earth "real time" correspondence. It does not. "The above" used in astrology is a construct made of dense symbolical layers and manipulations that belong more to culture than to nature. The laws of nature and of physics are therefore not the basis of astrology, but the nature of human consciousness and how consciousness organizes the world through the use of metaphor and analogy, and how consciousness uses the celestial apparatus to build the analogies because both (consciousness and the experience of astronomical cycles) are intimately related through the fundamental reality of the flow of time.
I see astrology not only as form but also as content, i.e., meaning and interpretation, and this is completely cultural. If I were not a practicing astrologer, I would be inclined to think of astrology merely in formal or structural terms, which *may* be universal, but in real life Astrology is USED, as is the case of any model or modelling tool, it does not exist by itself. The relationships it models have to be communicated and a meaning has to be given to them.
We have a structure such as, for example the solar system. We take it as model of something else. But how do we give meaning to the different parts? Specifically, the best illustration is probably the process through which a newly discovered planet (Neptune, Pluto, an asteroid...) acquires meaning as a result o a very complex mental/collective process. This process is strongly mediated by a particular culture, economics, and history.
There is meaning in form by itself. But it has to be communicated socially and made useful. In this Astrology is very much like Medicine. Medicine cannot be thought of without its application and practice, even from the merely theoretical standpoint.
My point is simply that this doesn't mean that current practice is *not* astrology or is "pseudo" astrology. You said once that astrology can invent its own rules, make them anew. For example, one of the paradigms of natal astrology is the "dogma" of the birth chart. However, I can develop my practice not with natal charts but with death or any other significant charts, freeing myself from the constraints of "birth-chart astrology" when dealing with individual lives and with psychology. I would still be working with the same astrological principles, but applying them in a different way. The same goes for the use of the ecliptic, of hypothetical planets, and of asteroids. They are parts of the same "astrological" principles, very pure and fundamental astrology and mathematics, because astrology is not about celestial objects but about the logical and analogical structure of the human mind *plus* the "time measurement (or movement) paradigm".
It is here that a historical and fundamental distinction must be made between "Astrology" in general as an idea, with its multi-cultural forms (Aztec, Chinese, Babylonian, Megalithic, etc), and *the* Astrology that we know and practice, fundamentally distinctive and unique. One belongs to the origins of Astrology, the other to the historical beginnings of horoscopy. There are many fundamental differences between both, mainly, that horoscopy does not work ins situ and in real time, but works exclusively through cinematic and geometric models very densely manipulated in a symbolical way that is not related to physics but to mathematical analogies.
Generally, when people think in Astrology, they assume the first more generalized and "archetypical" concept, which I think is clearly a big fallacy, since the astrology we practice is Greek horoscopics, which is a different thing.
Of course, I do not believe that such and such practice "defines" Astrology. The properties of the astrological "modelling tool" can be studies by themselves in abstraction from the different practices. But it is the practice, the "act" of putting the multiple possible astrological models to use, what gives us the "evidence" we need for the theoretical study.
So, from these considerations (like the fact that there can be multiple astrological models for the same thing --the different schools and techniques), and your assertion elsewhere that Astrology "invents" its own rules, perhaps rather than "a model", it would be more appropriate to call Astrology a "modelling machine" or a "modelling tool".
Apparent mathematical inconsistency may not be used as criterion of validity, because that would be simply a prejudice, and in many cases it would be wrong. Often, what seems inconsistent or even "random" proves to be following very logical and consistent rules, only that they remain hidden or unconscious.
This is a very simple principle. The object of any inquiry should be to discover that apparently hidden order, not pre-judge and dismiss based on prejudices or in a priori mathematical concepts. That's why I think that the path to follow to understand Astrology is not mathematics but cognitive science, knowledge about the structure of the human mind, of how the mind works, how it classifies the world and deals with the experience of time, how it establishes order and meaning.
Over and over again you will see that (apparently) very inconsistent practices produce very consistent and meaningful results. That is part of the nature of astrology, and there is nothing "inconsistent" in the fact that the mathematical coherence is frail or defective. That is not needed, even though it is desirable. "Dreams" can look very incoherent, but they are not, and I believe that many "satanized" astrological practices or incongruent techniques are very coherent when you take a look at them without the "mathematics" bias.
I agree that we cannot stay there, because Astrology would never progress that way. But this doesn't mean that the "there" is wrong or "pseudo" or non-astrological.