Exegesis Issue #11
Last night I showed my son the Moon for the first time. Ahhhh....
Date sent: Sun, 28 Apr 1996 10:48:28 -0700 (PDT)
From: Dale Huckeby <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Exegesis Issue #1
I meant to write something sooner, but as you know I've been pretty preoccupied. I'm interested in foundational questions but haven't seen any being discussed so far. Since you asked some excellent prime-the-pump questions in Exegesis #1, and since they're questions I've actually thought about (and worked out answers to) in the past, I'll respond to them one (email) at a time. First question:
On Thu, 28 Mar 1996, Francis G. Kostella wrote:
Given that we know of no physical "force" to account for it, to what or where do we ascribe astrological "influences"?
This goes to the heart of astrology's lack of plausibility in the eyes of its critics. Although in line with their empiricist ideology they like to speak of a lack of evidence, what really bothers them, it seems to me, is that they can't see how something like astrology _could_ work. Nor do I if we stick to the traditional notion of "works". I don't see how Jupiter could possibly beam down a marriage. I think this notion of causation is what is in the backs of astrologers' minds when they deny that there is a physical force to account for astrological influences, and I think this is why many thoughtful astrologers have rejected causal explanations. However, the alternatives seem to me to lack substance. Synchronicity, for instance, is just a shorthand way of saying we think these two things go together but we can't say why.
A consideration of the diurnal cycle might help clarify the question of causation. Does sunrise cause us to want to get up? In a way it does, but would we want to say that the sun beams down wakefulness or would it make more sense to say that we've _evolved_ to become sleepy or wakeful on a 24 hour schedule? In the latter case the sun can be said to time the cycle but is _not_ the source of its content. The source of its content would be biological evolution.
The preceding illustrates how an external rhythm can time a recurrent effect without being the cause of it, but is misleading in another respect. The sun's light is the means by which the rhythmicity manifests itself, but is also a condition that life has adapted to. Our eyes use sunlight to obtain information about the "visible" part of our environment, thus enabling us to more easily move around in it. So far as I know, we don't use radiation or any other physical manifestation of Mars or the other planets in a similar fashion. Yet I believe we do manifest rhythms that correspond to their movements. With this in mind I think it's worth postulating that life needs rhythm in order to live. How can processes dovetail in their timing so as to coordinate with one another unless they're organized in time? But if they are how does life know when the cycles are supposed to turn? How does life keep time? My supposition is that life *uses* planetary rhythms as a temporal skeleton around which to organize itself. Thus we have not only 24 hour and 28 day rhythms, but also 22 1/2 months, 12 years, 29 1/2 years, etc. rhythms.
From this perspective Saturn's effects aren't intrinsic to Saturn itself but are simply the result of evolution developing processes which match that wavelength. If the planetary periods were different the periods which characterize life on earth would also be different. Nor are the rhythms that correspond to Saturn's periodicity the only ones that _could_ have evolved. If the evolutionary clock were set back to zero we'd again evolve a temporally (and functionally) coordinated set of processes, but not the same ones. Finally, this view assumes that organisms are able to "see" the planets in some sense and track their movements, but is agnostic with respect to how they do so.
Part of the difficulty in our being able to imagine an adequate theory of how astrology _could_ work is our habit of associating with a given chart those events and developments that _affect_ that person rather than those events and developments that are in some way outcomes of processes _centered_ in that person. I think it's absurd to expect that _my_ chart should have something to say about Uncle Fred's death or the closing of the factory where I work. Now, if _I_ closed down that factory or killed Uncle Fred, both events would have come _from_ me and would therefore be relevant to my chart. If we assume that the developments relevant to a given chart are those developments, and _only_ those developments, that can in some sense be said to derive from the person whose chart it is, _then_ we can imagine a way astrology could work that doesn't do violence to common sense or existing canons of causation.
p.s. I'll deal with some of the other questions you asked, and some of the implications of the view presented here, in subsequent emails.
[With his permission, I've excerpted portions of a message that Roger posted to the Psychological Astrology list. As he has not been feeling well lately, this is perhaps not up to his usual standard of writing, but I thought the ideas he puts forth would be appropriate to this forum and might draw forth some comments. --fran]
Date: Sun, 28 Apr 1996 12:04:37 -0700
From: email@example.com (Roger L. Satterlee)
Subject: Re: Neptune 'image'
The wonderful list of comments by Joanna concerning the symbolism of Neptune should probably be included here and responded to, point by point, but the highlighting of those portions which I appreciated most would simply be another exposition of her every word...:)
My objection to 'images' used to illustrate planets in some concretized manner is a very broad sweeping criticism of current astrology on my part. I wish to oppose a prevailing mindset, a dogma perhaps, which I suspect has kept astrology from developing along the lines of a psychology which can be useful as the statistically valid model *of the individual* (as opposed to the normal distribution of certain qualities within a sample group). It is the individual as a *group* of "self" that needs to be described in terms of reproducible measures: this is what I think the symbols of astrology *may* be best suited. To achieve this individual model for quantitative analysis, it occurs to me that the astrologer must return to the mind set of the beginning algebra student who has no idea how to conceive the notion of a generalizing variable (which, alone, has little or no significance save its relationship to other variables in an equation). Bare in mind that the notion of this 'relativity',enhanced, is one of the pillars of this century thought.
The symbols of astrology as a 'possible' source 'notation' for a given psyche's hypothetical, cooperating 'parts', and the projected persona as a 'whole'-a sum greater than these 'parts'-seems to be my central concern (though Rudhyar indeed said it better).
Gods of myth and their ilk, have become golden calf idols to the Moses-minded creature that I am (no archetypes intended).
Though I am not clear as to what I shall find delivered to me on stone tablets, the phrase "thou shalt hold no other image before me' (sorry, I didn't look up the quote) seems related to 'whole' of a person as a microcosm. Thus, Poseidon and either Ferrari's or Rocking Horse icons/idols have been swept from my mind--these seem to hinder and not promote my personal attempt at a reformation of astrology. I have found these 'images' to place distance between me and another person when I study that person's natal chart. And, here, as many therapists may charge me with some form of intellectualization or denial as would please themselves...I will continue to subscribe to the notion of idealized, abstract 'forms' where 'planets' are concerned. For example the very imperfect representation of Mars as a 'spear and shield' or aggression, or competitiveness, is what *should* be burned at the stake...:)
[...] I am more concerned with what astrology *is or is not*, rather than its practice and/or applications. [...] I don't really care what astrologers think astrology is *for*; however, regardless of an astrologers methodology or social 'performance', astrology's future rests on its maturation--not it's computerized complexification or its mere proliferation during the temporary historical periods of popularity or superficial acceptability of fashionable 'images'.
I have found the need to bring no preconceived notions to a chart and listen carefully as the native 'expresses' s/he's word/image parallels of the prominent, hypothetical, cooperating, 'parts'. My guesses at what a native *will likely say or do* have no place in my study of what astrology IS. I DO assume that the planet/aspect/sign/house pattern has no material 'mechanism' establishing either cause/effect nor does it hint of any sychronicity of transits at the time of such study.
IF it can be learned which natal chart 'parts', meaning 'planets' in aspect (etc.), are predictably parallel to the 'expressions' of the native, i.e., what noun is related to another noun by the relative functions of other speech 'parts'(just one example)...THEN, the individual can be measured as group of things--a self-contained, statistically significant sample size. The natives pattern will be a an internal voiceprint an identifiable pattern in the sensible world with concrete and unique 'expressions' which can be used to reconstruct the natal pattern of astrology. IF this cannot be done...we have done little more in our life than enjoy astrology as entertainment and given little in return...How many generations may play at astrology before its extinction--due to our neglecting to nurture its maturation toward demonstrable patterns *within* a human's own nature.? When are we going to be willing to accept astrology as the art of hypothetical notation which is 2000 yrs removed from its Greek infancy? Progress is desperately required: progress similar to sophistication of the original Greek 'indivisibles' vs. the quarks of modern subatomic notation (the internal structure of atoms [or 'Adam'].
Unless otherwise indicated, articles and submissions above are copyright © 1996 their respective authors.
[Exegesis Top] [Table of Contents] [Next Issue]