Exegesis Issue #18

Exegesis Digest Sat, 18 May 1996 Volume 1 Issue 18


Date: Fri, 17 May 96 08:29:33 -0000
From: "Joanna M. Ashmun" <jmashmun@mail.nwlink.com>
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V1 #17

On Wed, 15 May 1996 12:41:23 +0000, Francis G. Kostella wrote on the subject of influences, cycles, etc."

[Fran's Message]
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.

This is fascinating in its self-revelation --your declaration that if you can't read about it, then it is blank and void--but it doesn't clarify the questions. How do you know "if none of that knowledge survived the ages"?

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".

I agree that it appears to be natural for humans to make culture, and that, therefore, the effects of human activity are natural. But that isn't the context Dale used.

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.)

My stupid running joke in a grocery store is over "organic" food, as that term seems to imply that I might in my ignorance be tempted to eat something inorganic, such as gravel or chalk.

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?

Well, the -logy means talking or telling, as distinct from -nomy meaning naming in the sense of identifying, so interpreting horoscopes is telling stories about the sky. I don't think this is what you mean by mythology or doing astrology, though I'm not sure what you do mean.

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?

The general thesis of _Hamlet's Mill_ (by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend) is that ancient myths from many parts of the world contain actual factual astronomical information in the symbolic form of narrative stories. "Simply signifying some psychological (archetypal?) knowledge?" is something I wouldn't poke with a stick, though I'll note that the stories examined in _Hamlet's Mill_ are far from identical to the ones favored for "psychological (archetypal?)" analysis.

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.

Right. 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.

I'm not exactly sure what this last comment is about, but from my point of view the problem is the "awareness" and not the multiple cycles that might correspond to planetary cycles. There is such great diversity in biological systems that some of them are bound to coincide.

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. :-)

My remark was not about evolution; it was about: "To me this implies a causal connection." That's where the logic is faulty.

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.

I understand your reservations here, but this is a moral objection, not a scientific or logical one. We need to discuss the "story we tell ourselves about ourselves" but we need to separate that from discussion to clarify the facts; they can be reunited.

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.

This was a literal vocabulary query. "Arbitrary" presupposes an arbiter who decides things at whim or personal discretion. Using arbitrary here suggested an unnamed supernatural authority and I thought that wasn't what you meant, but if it was what you meant I wanted to know who you had in mind.

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.

Emotion is *physical.* It happens in the autonomic nervous system including the brain (affecting state of mind a/k/a "affect"), also in organs all over the body. You've heard of "fight or flight"--well, this was flight. You reacted as any intelligent mammal (nervous system very like yours) would have. Additionally, synchronicity is *emotional.*

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.

Please explain this in detail. I may be biased.

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.

Would you prefer to try listing all the things that won't fit the symbolism?


Best regards,

Joanna jmashmun@nwlink.com


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