Exegesis Issue #17

Exegesis Digest Thu, 16 May 1996 Volume 1 Issue 17


Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 12:41:23 +0000
From: "Francis G. Kostella" <fgk@pgh.net>
Subject: Influences, cycles, etc.

Some (delayed) comments on Exegesis #15

Joanna M. Ashmun wrote: [Joanna's Message]

In regard to this stuff about rhythm and cycles and evolution--our species hasn't evolved to speak of in the past two million years or so. Those people had bodies and brains and minds just like ours. [...] The important thing, though, is that those people like us had most of two million years to figure out the sky before anyone wrote anything down. To paraphrase somebody's old song, they've forgotten more than we'll ever know about that.

I don't pretend to have any expertise on evolution and the history of the human race. But I do have a jaundiced view of speculation about human activity before historical records. If they existed for two or four million years does not matter, we know so very little, and seemingly can know so little that I find speculation here useless. No matter what they knew, it is of no use to us if none of that knowledge survived the ages. To my view that era is essentially blank.

Always, always, always be skeptical whenever anyone characterizes any human activity as "natural." *Nothing* we do is natural--everything we do is cultural--

My take on it is that even cultural things are "natural", *everything* is "natural". But your point is well taken, I always quote "natural". (My stupid running joke with Barb: In a grocery store when encountering an item with "All Natural!" on the package, "Look Dear, nothing from an alternate reality in this one!"...duh, I *said* it was stupid.)

But how can "life", which you do not clearly define, "use" something like planetary rhythms? The implication is that "life" has some ability to grasp what is at hand and apply it to a "purpose". "Life" doesn't do astrology (or Dale hasn't convinced me yet), people do astrology.

What Dale seems to be talking about is something biologically based, but it is not clear to me how it would operate. To talk about "life" in terms of an organizing principle which patterns an appreciation of the cycles of the planets into humans is no less mysterious than some unnamed/undiscovered physical "influence", in fact I claim they are equivalent.

If you've got nothing to do but sit home (or even go to sea or to war) and look at the sky night after night for two million years, the planets will make themselves conspicuous against the fixed stars. With that kind of motivation and opportunity, even Dale and Roger would be making up stories about "Swift-Bold-Impetuous-Male" and his adventures on the great highway in the sky.

But making up stories about "Swift-Bold-Impetuous-Male" is not the same as creating an astrological system. Here's my question: Can astrology exist without mythology? I'm not suggesting we can toss out any form of symbolism (and my be contradicting myself here), but could we "do" astrology without the stories?

It has been years since I read "Hamlet's Mill", and I really should tackle it again since the words may have aged well, but isn't one of the theses there that ancient myths contain "real" knowledge, as opposed to simply signifying some psychological (archetypal?) knowledge?

[Fran's Message]
Are you suggesting that it is all accidental?

Why not, Fran? And you have to give us a better reason than you don't like it.

Ah, but I didn't say it cannot be accidental. It was just not clear to me what Dale was saying; I wanted to know if this was a left-hand or right-hand prism.

That through some mysterious means all the important cycles *just happen to* correspond to the planetary cycles?

Before jumping to this conclusion, we should let Dale distinguish between, say, varying fertility rates in populations of woodland rodents and--the more typical astrological sort of question--the timing of people's job changes.


The issue here, to me, is that it seems highly unlikely that biological systems, as of yet unspecified, would happen to create an awareness of multiple cycles that correspond to planetary cycles, and that this idea would not be considered the same as claiming that there is some unspecified "planetary beams" that directly create these cycles in the biological systems. It is occult "influences" with a "cycle" interjected between the "influences" and human behavior.

As I said, I'm skeptical about evolution, why should planetary cycles be important and not some other arbitrary rhythm? To me this implies a causal connection.

Then you need some logic and philosophy of science.

I have plenty of both, that's why I'm skeptical about evolution. :-)

Actually, I *should* qualify that (I'm tempted not to do so). Evolution as a scientific theory seems pretty reasonable, but the baggage it carries as a creation story and as eugenics is bothering. Yes, I know this is not part of the scientific theory, but it IS part of the real world aspect of evolution--something I cannot ignore. As a "story we tell ourselves about ourselves" I find it damaging.

If the development of rhythm tended toward the planetary cycles then how can they not do so again? If the development of rhythm tends toward some arbitrary pattern, that just so happens to correspond to our planetary cycles, then why study the planetary cycles and not the "essential" rhythm that would be behind the rhythm in any case?

"Arbitrary" is probably not what you mean here--or, if it is, for my sake, please specify whose discretionary choice determines this pattern.

Dale suggested that "life" somehow "sees" the planetary cycles. If that is the case, then I assume that the strength of the planetary cycles is such in the sight of "life" that, given a clean slate to start over and assuming that "life" still "sees" the planetary cycles, the exact same patterns will develop again.

Ah, but it is difficult to say what is "centered" in the person and what is not. Descartes be damned, I see no fine distinction between internal and external. I was sitting at my desk last Spring, looking out the window when a bolt of lightning struck the big tree that my window frames. Did the tree have a Uranus transit? Was it important to the tree? It sure as hell was significant to me. I can show charts for this event that have personal import and require no stretch of imagination to read. But where's the seed of this event?

This is a typical synchronistic event (as defined by Jung): it was a coincidence of the lightning strike with the charts and it got a big emotional reaction from you. It does not require astrology to be true.

My reaction was *physical*, I found myself a few feet behind my chair in a second or two. Later it was somewhat emotional I suppose as the next few storms made me a bit twitchy....but it seemed to strike me on a somatic level.

I know that it is difficult to absorb this,

No difficulty at all,

but coincidences are very common,

I agree.

and the more things you allow to be potentially meaningful in this way*, the more often you will have meaningful coincidences. It's simple.

But that doesn't really say anything about what is meaningful. I allow everything to be "potentially meaningful", but tend to ignore most of it for triteness, it is when you get a few dozen cherries lined up on the cosmic slot machine that I get a bit interested. The way this stuff works does not mesh well with probability.

The thing that matters in this context is how many different chart configurations would you accept as accurately describing the event?

Very few. It must fit the symbolism.

To get a rough idea, you take the number of planets/bodies/points and multiply by the number of aspects, and then multiply by the orb allowed/360. If different aspects or bodies have different orbs, you just add up the separate calculations. What this tells you is the probability that *any* transit *any* day will fit into your signifying configuration.

No, I cannot accept ANY transit, that doesn't fit the event. We have two "objects": a bolt of lightning, a tree. One event: the lightning strikes the tree. How would you "write" that in astrology? Lightning is easy, it must be Uranus to us moderns. A tree is more complicated.

Since you say this happened last year, we know that you aren't talking about something as obvious as transiting Uranus conj a natal planet.

Sorry, I was ambiguous, not thinking anyone would be interested. I'm not talking about a transit to my chart, although there are some contacts there, I'm talking about an chart for the event. To me, the chart is clear a fits the event with no stretch of the imagination. The whole purpose of bringing this up is to question the "biological cycle" explanation that Dale posits, that doesn't fit how this chart can work.

If you want to play with this we can make a test out of it, I can post the event time along with a few other charts and let folks here see if they can pick the right chart.


Mary Downing wrote: [Mary's Message]

Fran:".And astrology is not limited to biological processes."

MBD --This raises THE issue: before we begin discussing astrology, we should agree on exactly what it is were discussing. Obviously one person here is examining co-relations between organic life and planetary (plus optional but undefined other) cycles. The other is widening the field to encompass any event occurring within a media --- that media being time, which is itself a measurement of change.

I suggest: we are studying both events and entities and something else as well. Some of the entities are simple (people, animals, even trees) and some are compound (corporations, cities, indeed all forms of government.) Their single link for our purposes is a initial placement in a timestream. We may even select a " moment in time" arbitrarily and interpret it as a diagram of energy patterns that reflect manifest reality (horary).

This "something else" is interesting. That it remains unnamed is also interesting. Why is it not clear what "something else" may be? Is it a lack of understanding, a problem of not knowing enough about the world? Is an issue of our present understanding conditioning our worldview?

We could call it Chi, or we can use the Aristotelian model of limited matter and imperfect form, essence and accident which has some concepts that are very useful in any astrological metaphysics. That is what we are really doing discussing the nature of being, as seen through the lens of astrology.

In some respects all that we do is an investigation of the nature of our existence. But given who we are we cannot help wanting to test this "lens" we use.

I'm not very familiar with "the Aristotelian model of limited matter and imperfect form". Mary, do you care to post a bit more on the subject as you have applied it to astrology?

I don't believe that's our mission, however. Were technicians. We are using, applying, etc. techniques that "sort-of" work. We don't have to understand exactly how; that can come later. People were baking bread and brewing beer long before anyone discovered yeast, much less microbiology. Of course we haven't yet employed fully all the possible data to be derived from the planets themselves. It may be possible to see the universe in a mustard seed or "close enough for government work" at any rate.

But which direction does this "possible data" go? On one hand we have a plethora of methods and techniques, but simply having more applications does not necessarily improve the state of the art. How do we compare different techniques?

Is it unreasonable to want to compile a "map" of techniques along with their meaning?

We tend to use "what works" for us, but is there some objective (or more objective) standard of evaluating methods?

Even if we are "technicians", that doesn't mean that we cannot examine the techniques...maybe *now* is the time to "understand exactly how".


PS. Note: my *new* email address: fgk@pgh.net


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