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Some Aphorisms upon Astrology
by Dr. Patrice Guinard

These aphorisms, a follow-up to the Manifesto, have been written directly in English, most of them for the Exegesis Discussion Group. They have been kindly checked and corrected by Shelley Jordan.

"The researcher of truth must give more care to ruin erroneous ideas than to expose the truth." (Cardano, Aphorisms, 3.160)

1. The astrological Fact

1.1 Astrology does't need facts, but concepts.

1.2 The philosophical approach was the preferred perspective for past astrologers such as Poseidonios, Ptolemy, Albumasar, al-Biruni, Cardano, Paracelsus, Campanella, Kepler and others, before the transformation of astrology into psycho-astrology, horoscopic astrology and sun-sign astrology took place. This philosophical approach - the experience of an astrological vision of the Real, of the world, of the human mind, of culture - is entirely different from a personal interest in the practice of charts.

1.3 An understanding of astrology at the collective and cultural levels is the most interesting. By collective I do not mean merely "mundane astrology", and the horoscopic consultation is only one small application of astrology among many other possibilities, just a small private affair.

1.4 Astrology lends itself to a pluralistic understanding of a multi-dimensional reality which transcends dualism -- a premier concept in the writings of Dane Rudhyar. Astrology is the method of thinking which enables escape from all forms of dualism.

1.5 If some astral correlations between stars and humanity really exist, then it follows that some thing does exist which we could call astrology, and which merits being investigated. It also follows that all the various astrological practices are not equivalent.

1.6 At birth there is no such thing as a photographic imprint. One is Mercurian or a Virgo because there exist repetitions, recurrences of cyclical patterns, and because these patterns are synchronized with biological processes. There is a synchronization (not to be confused with synchronicity) of planetary rhythms with biological, organic, molecular and cellular rhythms.  From this synchronization emerge imperceptible transformations within organisms, and within the human psyche. But exactly which processes are affected? We do not know, and it is not in the capacity of astrologers to know that. This question is properly a scientific affair. It is probable that the last investigations of a still-youthful science (merely three to four centuries old) will focus on man himself. What every astrologer ought to know, however, is how his model of astrology (if he even has one) is coherent within itself and compatible with a scientific likelihood.

1.7 The temporal rhythms of the planets, their periods and their possible integration at some organismic level which induce certain specific differences and modifications in the perception -- comprise the astrological fact.

1.8 It remains to be identified exactly what these 'mechanisms' are through which the planetary cycles manifest - first, as 'astral impresses', and secondly, in astrological discourse.

1.9 Ancient physical models (from Ptolemy to Kepler) have failed because they were prompted by physics, and physics alone does not account for that which is occurring within the psyche. This does not mean, however, that physics plays no part in our understanding of these correlations.

1.10 The heavens above relate to psychological states within because of the social interactions beneath. I am not an Aries or a Saturnian merely because of the heavens, but because I live with people who are not Aries or Saturnian. The 'astral qualities' operate only through a process of differentiation in the realm of social interaction.

1.11 Astrology is the study of the stars ... in man. The 'astral influences' on the physical world, such as tides or whatever you choose to look at, are not astrology but physics.

1.12 We need to investigate the correctness of the natal chart. A general reflection on the accurate representation of the heavenly bodies in the chart must be promptly engaged.

1.13 Astrology "works", not because of its factual and empirical validity but because of its matricial function. There are 3 uses of astrology: To predict factual conditions, to interprete charts psychologically, to understand the world using matricial reason. The first one is obsolete, and the second one is a risky application.

2. Impressionals / Matrix-based Reason / The Matrix

2.1 Impressionals (i.e. pre-conscious awarenesses), Matrix-based reasoning, and Matrix comprise my three-fold key to understanding the astrological fact.  Impressionals are received, and then afterward organized in the psyche.  Matrix-based reasoning is the subsequent way of reasoning which pertains not only to astrologers but also to everyone. It gives the possibility of investigating the Matrix, which is the real unknown and eternal object of astrological knowledge.

2.2 The debate regarding star-sign and star-cause was an invention of the foes of astrology, probably at the time of Poseidonios. The planet is in-sign, 'impressional', i.e. an interior sign which is not a cause, not even a symbol. The planet is psychic, psychic-astral, neither mental nor physical.

2.3 Thought is Matrix-based, because there is a bio-psychic realm which exists within each person, and which is related to the planetary rhythms of the solar system. Symbolic thought is matrix-based insofar as the symbols seem to derive from a somewhat bio-physiological reality. For this reason, astrological symbols are alive because astral impressions (impressionals) are effective. That is not the case with conventional divinatory practices. Astrology is based on a real organic integration of planetary cycles, not on a mere symbolic convention.

2.4 Matrix-Based Thinking is not only the interpreting of charts: it is doing repartitions - it is the understanding of reality through numbers: 4, 8, 10, 12. And it was already the ubiquitous ancient mode of thinking (see, for instance, in China, India...).  And these numbers are effective because they are the organic postures of human complexity, differently organized in this one or that one, according to the birth chart.

2.5 The use of Matrix-Based Reason is essentially the state of doing astrology, and is not occuring in the interpreation of charts (which, in the process of so doing finds nothing else besides that which is already obviously known). It is the plural, matrix-based reasoning which is the real and true astrological act, not the interpreation of charts (which is an application), or the act of making predictions (a pretention).

3. Models / Structures / Matrix

3.1 The three prevailing hypotheses concerning the astrological fact are:

3.2 I call the Planetaries, Dominion, Cyclics and, of course, the Zodiac, the four cardinal astrological structures, which already appear in Greek astrology. The 'Planetaries' (French: Planétaire) is the structured set of the planets; the 'Dominion' is the structured set of houses; the 'Cyclics' (French: Cyclade) the structured set of the cycles, aspects and planetary ages. The same 'matrix' underlies these four structures, or better, they are the same matrix according to four different points of view (energetic for planets, spatial for houses, temporal for cycles, and structural for zodiacal signs). Hence, a real theory of rulerships is the heart of astrological knowledge.

3.3 The astrological structures derive from an archetype which seems to be universal: that of the four modes of the differentiation of reality by consciousness.

3.4 Matrix is not a mere set of 12 archetypes. A set of 12 archetypes is a set of 12 archetypes - nothing else.

3.5 The rulerships question is that there cannot exist such numerous archetypes or symbols without interconnections. There cannot exist Aries, Libra, Pisces ... and Mars, Sun, Moon, Pluto ... and Houses 1, 3, 5, 6, 7 .. without any kind of relationships between them. My idea is that a unified Matrix - although Matrix is also another thing in my mind - underlies the four astrological structures. Aries is not Mars, as Saturn is not Capricorn: but they are the equivalent archetype according to two views of consciousness.

3.6 Yet the Structures are themselves variable (the Greeks knew only seven planets, for instance). And the model which an astrologer is using is always an interpretation of the Structures. The model is known, the structures are unknown, the matrix is somewhere unknowable.

3.7 Impressionals (the impressio of Paracelsus) remain the same throughout the centuries. Astrological models change along with cultural contexts.

3.8 Why are there 12 signs? The justification of the zodiacal signs remains problematic. There was a calendar of 12 months before the existence of the zodiac, and in Mesopotamia, some 'proto-zodiacs' with 17, and later, 14 constellations before the 6th century B.C. The only thing which could be accepted without too much difficulty was the 4 quarters generated by the points of intersection of the equator with the ecliptic (0° Aries, 0° Cancer, 0° Libra, 0° Capricorn). But then, why continue to divide by 3, and not by 2, 4, or 5? It is this very question which led Kepler to remain very sceptical about the 12 zodiacal signs, and about the houses as well. Of course there is a synchronization between the solar and lunar cycles in one year (12/13). There is also, primarily, the existence of the 12 months of the calendar, before the invention of the zodiac by Babylonian astronomers around the 6th century B.C. But it remains that in tropical astrology - I don't refer here to the supposed sidereal astrology - no astrologer was ever able to justify, astrologically, this further division by three.

3.9 It is indeed possible that the arithmetic facilities offered by the number 12 could have led the astronomers of the 6th or 7th centuries B.C. to prefer it. This interpretation is well-known, besides. The fact remains that the existence of the 12 months of the calendar and that of portents associated with them (series Enuma Anu Enlil - or more precisely, Enuma Anu Enlil Ea - and also the 'monthly' series Iqqur Ipush) could have been the decisive factor. So a matricial logic (based on 12) indeed did exist long before the invention of the zodiac by astronomers. But what about the astrological justification of this division, which Kepler vainly sought?

3.10 The model of the 8 houses (Dominion) could apply to enrich the psychological interpretation of the chart, differently from the superstitious application of the 12 houses for horary and factual-predictive purposes.  The 12-house system and the horary theory were probably miscellanies of the different patterns that appeared in Greece in the 4th or 3rd centuries B.C., and "our astrology", despite Ptolemy, al-Biruni and others, is going on to collapse with them.

3.11 If this real perception of the differentiated qualities of the 8-hour day did really exist, then there must be more value in it than in the later speculations of astrology regarding this question, because the peoples of ancient societies were seeing, were using Matrix-Based Reasoning, and their perceptions were not obliterated by further mathematical and speculative considerations.

3.12 Which thesis, then, as a theory, is convincing in astrology? Ptolemy, when he defends an old framework of rulerships with 'meteorological' arguments? Rudhyar when he amalgamates different astrological patterns in his books, some contradictory with the others? Ebertin? Addey? Such and such astrological model, 'demonstrated' by such and such astro-statistical test, never reproduced, and if reproduced, without any real astrological importance?

3.13 I suggest 3 points for the accuracy of an astrological model: that it isn't contradictory with the likelihood of physics, that it is intrinsically cohesive and logical, that it can show why other models would be wrong. Afterwards, the 'It Works' will definitely follow!

4. Jung and Synchronicity

4.1 The Jungian concepts of synchronicity, archetypes and the collective unconscious are of little utility for astrology.

4.2 When one is feeling what I call an 'impressional', it is no longer an archetype, but it is not yet a symbol. Jungian psychology is inadequate for an understanding of what astrology is - just a crutch for astrological thought!

4.3 What is synchronicity? For Jung it is a meaningful coincidence occurring in time between two or more independent events. Fine. For instance: MY CAT IS SCRATCHING ITS EARS WHILE I AM TAKING OFF MY SOCKS. This is a real, pure, absolute 'moment' of synchronicity. There is no causality involved (at the very least, I hope not). Imagine that I become conscious of the coincidence, and that I remark that every time I take off my socks, my dear cat is 'really' scratching its ears: Then it's no longer synchronicity, but a matter of superstition such as that which exists in the practices of certain religions. Imagine now that the cat is scratching its ears because it is experiencing some internal pain and that I am aware of that. This, then becomes more interesting because, effectively, I could project some significant relation between the two events.

4.4 For Jung, synchronicity is specifically this projection of significant meaning onto exterior events. But this is not astrology. This projection of meaning lacks too many things for it to be considered astrology. Remember that Jung has insisted that the principle of synchronicity doesn't explain anything, but merely accounts for the manifestation of coincidences meaningful to the conscious mind. Many astrologers who are referring to Jung have not understood that he was rejecting the synchronistic view of astrology.

4.5 Jung thought his statistical findings on married couples were only a projection of his mind. But any projection is possible. Then the question remains: Why do we continue projecting the same, multimillenary, antiquated astrological projections here and now, among educated people?

4.6 Synchronicity is related to the world of facts, events, and so on, i.e. with a part of reality which is not concerned, in the first place, with astrology. Now if astrologers want to use synchronicity for justifying the moment of the consultation, that is their affair ---  and their business!

4.7 The Jungian approach is sterile for an understanding of astrology, as are most of the other external theoretical concepts in fashion today in the astrological milieu. If astrology were really alive, it wouldn't need some external explanatory psychology, because it would be itself a psychology, an anthropology...

4.8 Jungian thought is contradictory and not always reliable. Jung was a great modern specialist of hermeneutics, i.e. of signs interpretation. Everything interested him, especially the ancient, the secret and the occult ... signs. But signs belong to interpretation, not to understanding. They need material, and hermeneutics is the analysis made from this material. Astrology has not got such material (and don't tell me that the astrological literature is this material, because the purpose of astrology is not the astrological literature). For instance, linguists have words and grammar; historians have many documents ... and the purpose of linguistics is really to work with the words and languages. But the purpose of astrology is to work with the 'impressionals' inside us --- not 'As above, so below', but, 'As within, so without', and even, 'As within, so within' - to feel like Paracelsus. For astrological understanding is definitely something other than the cultural sciences' interpretation. To Understand is to See.

5. The modern Practitioner

5.1 Utility, the pragmatist criterion, is not the ultimate criterion of Truth (if it were, there wouldn't be something that could be called truth). The modern practitioner tells us he is just a pragmatist: "it works!". In reality, he is just an imitator, not even imitating what he would have learned through actual research into the past, but merely imitating modernist books and translations which have fallen, accidently, before his eyes.

5.2 Contemporary astrologers, and also the majority of astrologers of the past, are doing nothing other than what they were told to do. They are purely imitative in their attitude. Astrologers are doing, in general, only what they have learned to do. I don't care to justify what astrologers are doing in general. Sociology exists for that purpose! If astrology is not more than a field for latter day believers, then let's get rid of it!

5.3 It is not doctors who are deciding what medicine should be, but men of science.

5.4 Proving astrology isn't the challenge for astrologers, but really doing something with it.

5.5 Astrology is not what astrologers are doing, but rather something that lies beyond them. And that is fortunate for astrology! Astrology will probably recover its prestige when a majority of astrologers will let it.

5.6 Such a thing as a 'well-established tradition of astrological practice' does not really exist at all! Each astrologer, each school, has his own one.

5.7 Nothing in reality neither was nor is actually 'working very well', except the feeling on the part of the astrologers that it does.

5.8 There is probably no coherent model of astrology that could underlie all the supposed branches of astrology, because some of these branches are based on misunderstandings about astrology (see, for example, al-Biruni on horary and electional). Hence, the practice of the so highly adulated horary astrology is, perhaps, nothing other than 'placebo astrology'.

5.9 Today there are two main views among astrologers: the predictive-neo-traditional one, and the psychological-revivalist one -- they are both misconceptions.

5.10 Predictive astrology was and remains today the Circe of astrologers -- and their permanent illusory dream!

5.11 What is the utility of horoscopy? Those who know themselves do not need any input from astrology. Those who don't are also those who have the greatest chance of being exploited by charlatans.

5.12 Everything 'is working' in astrology ... and especially in the astrological business.

5.13 Continuing to interpret charts with the only poor 'pseudo-symbolic' thought which modern astrologers generally take as thought, is not doing astrology, but a part of the modern 'Show' -- or the space in which the Show allows "astrologers" to define their act as astrology. No reflection upon astrology is valid if it is not correlated with a reflection upon society & culture!

6. Astrology vs Ideology

6.1 Psychoanalysis, this recent invention of modern culture, isn't more "scientific" than astrology, an ancient knowledge dating back millenia, but it is inside the academy, whereas astrology is on the outside. The psychoanalytically-based practices of astrology, especially those that are Freudian and Jungian, are mere melting pots of confusion.

6.2 Is the cultural-intellectual mind ready to accept astrological fact and understanding, which means somehow the end of history, the end of competition, and also something like the last 'point of reason'?

6.3 No astrological matter is convincing to the modern way of thinking because astrological reasoning is so different from modern scientific reasoning. Matrix-Based Reason (French: Raison matricielle) might explain this situation, and also why astrology is not accepted in the academy, at universities.

6.4 Astrology hasn't been proven by science? -- Science hasn't demonstrated that it has been able to work properly with 'psychic states'.

6.5 I advocate a platonist revival. Modern science is a sad appendix to the Democritus-Epicurian philosophy. But the Greeks had choice. We do not, since metaphysics is now more dead than alive.

7. History and Astrology

7.1 In general, the historian of astrology can hardly be wrong in his domain. So astrologers have to listen to his lessons. But the historian could be wrong in his implicit thinking that astrology is madness, and in his incapacity to consider astrological, matrix-based questions astrologically.

7.2 It has been said that Ptolemy wasn't a real "practitioner", but just a theoretician. This could be partly true, but astrologers have taken the chief components of their practices from him throughout the centuries.

7.3 Kepler's predictions were not as successful as some astrologers suggest, and in fact, were often complete failures. In the horoscope of Wallenstein (1583-1634), published in 1608, Kepler wrote that Wallenstein would die at the age of 69, when in fact, he was murdered at 51. Kepler predicted that he would marry in his 33rd year: He married twice, first in 1609 at the age of 26, and again in 1623, when he was 40.

7.4 In spite of his vision of a new astrology and astro-meteorology, Kepler failed in his attempts at reform. The question is why did his intended reformation fail to succeed? The answer to this would illuminate our own understanding of astrology.

7.5 The study of the history of astrology is crucial, for this study must lead not to the understanding of what we think astrology is, but to the understanding of what the astrologers of the past believed astrology was and why they thought it was such.

7.6 We will not discover in past astrology what astrology is, but rather, why the past models of astrology have failed. We will have to understand astrology by ourselves, on our own, because we are not the Greeks, nor the Assyrians.

7.7 The problem is not how astrology is possible for us, as astrologers, but how it is possible for us as modern women and men.

7.8 The study of the historical past of astrology is not for crystallizing a supposedly correct and definitive astrology, but for understanding astrology's failures and deficiencies (because all predictive methods in the astrology of the past have always failed), and for showing the degree to which the inconsistent modern practices of astrology are in fact, today, dependent on these very failures and deficiencies. To seek the past mainly serves the purpose of purging it!

7.9 Historic astrologers never were perfectly in harmony with their own societies (not in the Renaissance, not with the Greeks, nor even in Mesopotamian civilization), and today we haven't at all the same intellectual curiosity for astrology as did the contemporaries of Paracelsus and Cardano.

7.10 When we approach the Greek astrological tradition, we must be cautious about jumping to easy conclusions using the so few texts which have been saved -- or rather, which have not been intentionally destroyed. My knowledge of the modern academic hostility against astrology, and the lack of objectivity concerning all that could affect its ideological patterns makes me think that it could have been even worse during the first centuries of christianization (since it appears that the Church fathers have been, for astrology, its most inveterate foes, along with our modern scientists). So it appears to me, as an hypothesis, that, not necessarily the worst astrological texts, but the most threatening and embarrassing, could have been systematically destroyed. It is a fact that Ptolemy looks relatively isolated in the mainstream of Greek astrology, but he could be 'the tree which hides the forest'. There could have also been a third mainstream, different from Ptolemy's and Dorotheus'. Therefore history is necessary so we can attempt to know what could have happened there.

7.11 It is as absurd to believe that one could practice a supposedly authentic hellenistic astrology, as it is to believe that it is possible to invent alone, in a vacuum, the future astrology of the 21st and 22nd centuries, without knowing what the astrologers of the past had done, and why they appear to have failed.

7.12 It could be that the ancient material and rules are invalid. Then the task is to find the logic underlying this material, which could lead us to a new vision of astrology which is compatible with modern thought.

7.13 What I am attempting to do with C.U.R.A. is to investigate the origins of  astrological models -- of the many diverse theories and practices of astrology (this is what I call 'epistemological research'), and to try to differentiate which of these models could have emerged from simple analogy and the projection of cultural shapes inside astrological ones, and which models came directly from what I called 'matrix-based reason' -- in the same manner that some philosophical theories didn't really come from analysis and discussion, but from this same 'matrix-based reason'.

To cite this page:
Patrice Guinard: Some Aphorisms upon Astrology
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