Exegesis Issue #4

Go ahead, speak up...


Return-Path: jmashmun@mail.nwlink.com
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 1996 09:51:58 -0800
Subject: Re: Exegesis Issue #3
From: "Joanna M. Ashmun" jmashmun@nwlink.com

Christopher Gragg wrote: [Christopher's Message]

I have the same problem with strict orbs, particularly in synastry. Some astrologers, such as Lois Sargent (sp?), advise using 10' orbs in comparing two people's charts, even 15' with the luminaries, while others maintain that 5' is all that should be allowed, and one author (whose name I purposely forget) even insisted on 1'! According to her, if the aspect between two planets was 1'01", then no aspect existed. Needless to say, her repeated insistence on this point greatly reduced her credibility with me. Is anyone else interested in synastry? If so, what are your thoughts on orbs in comparing charts? How about orbs in composite charts? Or individual charts? Surely everyone has some opinion on this.

Hope I haven't bored anyone with this, but, hey, what are Taureans for?

Well, I have a Taurus moon, so maybe others will want to set their snooze alarms now.

The problem about orbs in synastry, from my point of view, is that using *no more than* ten planets and two angles and the eight major aspects in five-degree orbs the probability is 95% that every planet (or angle) in one chart will aspect at least one planet (or angle) in the other and the probability is 50% that a planet in the one will make three or more such aspects to the other. Synastry is a special application of transits, and this is the general problem with prediction in astrology--looking backward at significant dates that have already been selected by life, such as your darling's b-day, you will virtually always find something meaningful to interpret, while looking forward (or retro searches when a date hasn't already been selected) there are just too many dates that look good or possible or "have potential," and astrological methods don't provide any means for choosing between them. The same probabilities apply with progressions, directions, etc., all predictive techniques. And I hope I may assume it is obvious that, if transits alone used as described will provide virtually complete coverage for all charts, adding points or bodies or aspects or whatever will be redundant and superfluous and overmuch.

Here's an example chart where the planets are distributed in such a way that the probabilities are not merely "probabilistic" but actual everyday fact. (This is my own data that I gave yesterday--and yes, of course, it describes me.) 16 November 1948, 14:25 PST (GMT-0800), 47N51, 119W59 (Chelan, Washington USA). With this chart, it takes an orb of only 2 deg 32 min to put 9.5/10 planets in major aspect continuously throughout eternity. Obviously, that's a superabundance of affinities if we are expecting chart comparisons to help us identify significant (or potentially so) connections between individuals. The probabilities for all charts are the same; this one just happens to be average in a way that displays the situation clearly.

Nonetheless, I use synastry. I think this chart works. And I think if you use *my* rules for matchmaking you will be able to find my husband's birthday or close to it. Ideally, the Perfect Husband would have Venus trine everything in my chart and love everything that I do. This is unfortunately unobtainable, so the search must be limited to the Perfect Possible Husband. (I got married before I learned astrology.) #1) Born within five years of me either way (demographics and, um, law). #2) No Saturn squares between charts. #3) Whenever there is a choice, go for good aspects to the benefics. #4) Moons trine or sextile make up for a lot of friction. I have discussed this part of synastry many times with many different astrologers and found them all unwilling to state definite preferences about desirable interaspects. I don't have any natal squares, I don't like Saturn squares in personal relationships--I figure there is plenty of hassle available all the time so there's no need to take it home and keep it.

I don't use composite charts, though I've tried them; I find my bare-bones natal charts just a little bit more than I can really hang on to all at once anyway, and adding more fuzzy details doesn't clarify anything. In natal charts, I use a 5-degree orb because that's usually what I can recognize as an aspect in behavior, manner, speech, etc. I think that wider orbs operate, that all the planets have some kind of "aspect" to each other, but some are a lot more major than others. As to signs, my experience is that they are not important, though they are useful for locating planets; I wouldn't say signs are meaningless (and I like their descriptive power), but it's the planets in their aspects that matter.




Return-Path: fgk@ix.netcom.com
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 1996 18:13:50 -0800
Subject: How does astrology work? Theories...
From: "Francis G. Kostella" fgk@ix.netcom.com

Since we seem to have adopted a slow pace and since folks seem hesitant to respond to some of the more mundane issues (charter, etc.) I raised in the initial offering, I'm going to throw out a topic for discussion: How does astrology work? What is YOUR theory or working hypothesis?

I suppose that it is only fair that I first present my own view, which has been "in process" for a long time. When I first started studying astrology I naively accepted the explanation presented to me, namely that there was some as-of-yet undiscovered physical "emmanation" of the planets that caused the effects that astrologers are interested in. Unfortuantely, this explanation does not account for how something like a progression or house system could possibly work. That is, these are "synthetic" entities, they do not follow from the known physicallity of the planets, and to derive them from some unknown attributes is to go very far out on a limb. In any case, I see this concept as the mechanistic pseudo-science theory of astrology.

At some point later in my studies, and counter to the above "objective" description, I came across the idea that astrology is purely subjective. That is, the astrologer, through some process of personal projection, imposes meaning on the essentially meaningless orbits of planets. Part of the problem with this idea is that when one begins to test astrology for information that one cannot possibly know beforehand, one is struck by the fact that one gets accurate information through some some mysterious means. For example, when working with horary astrology I have a method to keep me from projecting my desires on a chart, before I even cast a chart I keep a record of all the details and the proper associations and a description of where the "action" will occur. That is, if it is a 3rd house matter, then I have notes about how that will work in the chart. Only after these details are recorded do I cast the chart and follow the rules I've set up. If I can judge the chart, if it is "radical" then the answer is always correct. If I cannot judge the chart then I file it away and revisit it later to attempt to refine my understanding. The fact that I can ask questions about people thousands of miles away, with whom I have never had any contact or even know their names, and get an answer that is correct suggests that either the "purely subjective" description is incorrect or that there is some "psychic" ability at play here. I have a problem with a "psychic description" of astrology, as I normally do not show evidence of any psychic abilities.

I've laid out a nice little dichotomy, a pair of poles that are convenient for my purposes: Subjective/Objective. I do not mean to imply that any description of how astrology works MUST lie between them, only that my thinking of late is along these lines. My current working hypothesis is that astrology does indeed work from some point between these poles, that there is some mixture of the two sides, that intrinisic to the nature of reality is that that the universe IS meaningful. To borrow a quote from a recent posting of Ken Perlow's in alt.a: As Above, So Below is an axiom of astrology. That the universe is somehow an interconnected whole. But this is nothing new, you've heard it a thousand times. But I'd like to extend that idea, and link it to the other pole. I see human nature, at the most basic level, with all the individualizing aspects of personality and societial concerns removed, as fundamentally concerned with meaning; the search for meaning and the creation of meaning. I see this as the basic natural expression of human life, so basic that it may be impossible to avoid, despite the major efforts made to totally objectify our understanding of the world. So basic that we get comfortable with the process and overlook it and forget that this is what we are doing: creating and seeking meaning. The universe resonates and shudders with meaning and when we cast our charts we seek to bridge the poles, bringing what is most innate in us to what is most innate in the world. We are exercising our "meaning muscles".

Well, I read the above and think that it is a fuzzy idea. My excuse? I'm still working on it. :-) Ahh, I *could* blame it on Neptune, and that might be appropriate!

Your comments, as always, are welcome. I'd like to improve my understanding and also consider other ideas.

In issue #3, Joanna M. Ashmun wrote: [Joanna's Message]

Up front here, before I forget it again, I've been wondering since I heard about it on NPR over a year ago if anybody knows anything about stochastic resonance theory and how it may or may not be of interest in astrology. There are a lot of indexed references on the Web but I haven't had time to read them.

I know nothing about it, but it jogged a memory about "morphic resonance", which may actually be an interesting theory for how astrology can work: the accumulation of astrological lore and concepts through the ages make those things more powerful and effective. Alternately, a related odd idea I picked up, probably from a sci-fi novel, is that the physics of local space, and not just the conception of those physical laws, are imposed by the consciousness occupying that space.



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