Exegesis Volume 2 Issue #29

Exegesis Digest Thu, 05 Jun 1997


Date: Wed, 4 Jun 1997 14:45:04 +0000
From: Francis G. Kostella
Subject: Nailing down PTSB

[I've tried to limit my response to this large message, apologies to those who did not receive the full document because of emailer software limits, please visit the web site for the full text.]

On Wed, 14 May 1997, Dr. Gonzalo Pena Tamez wrote:

> In his book Prediction in 
> Astrology, Noel Tyl tells
> us . . .  how the birth of
> Alexander . . .

In the opening chapter of "Astrology Looks at History", Tyl tells us, "the danger within the rectification process is that astrologers engineer the astrology to show what they expect to see, what they want to see." How much more so than rectification are the dangers of projecting our conceptualizations on to those of the ancients. We have no real manner for understanding the circumstances surrounding the birth of Alexander nor if the astrology supposedly used was something we would dare call astrology.

> version of Ptoloemy's
> books, translated directly
> from the original Greek

Just to be clear, no original manuscripts of the "Tetrabiblos" are known to exist. The Greek editions we now have were translated from the Arabic in the fourteenth century.

> But check now the work of
> Vettius Valens, contemporary
> of Ptolomy . . . the Axiom of 
> Beginnings is simply taken for
> granted.

I have been on the waiting list for the existing translations of Vettius Valens at one of the university libraries nearby, once it become available you can be sure that I will be reading it closely for "Seeds and Beginnings". Are there any portions in particular that you feel unambiguously support the concept?

> It is only too obvious that this
> Axiom is the baby in the bath tub. 

Let me be clear, I am suggesting that the greatest ancient authority is at fault, so citing other authorities will not dismiss the proposition. Even if Vettius Valens presents a clear line of transmission, this simply changes the proposition from being pointed at Ptolemy, to being pointed at a number of the ancients. (I'll change the "P" in PTSB to "A" for Ancient.) Despite that, you clearly state later that you do not care if Ptolemy said it or not, that has no bearing on the matter for your use. I agree, let us debate the point on its merits without concern for the pedigree of the concept.

> Well I just don't see how
> you can keep genethliacal
> astrology, if you throw the
> Axiom of Beginnings over
> the board.

It requires exercising the imagination in what may be a new manner for many people. Start with the idea that "the birth moment is always radical" and proceed from there. And by birth moment we mean the best time available, by reliable record, or rectification, or even a solar chart when no records are available and rectification is unlikely. At the very least, one should be able to contemplate this possibility without fear. And it does reflect the true practice of astrologers.

> If you change the minute of 
> conception you change the

> If you take the snap shot
> a bit before or a bit after

The proposition says nothing about forcing you to change ANY time or other chart factor. It has not asked you to take a new "snap shot" at a different time. It does not directly address any technical details of astrology, it simply says that we do not need to invent justification for our art where none is needed. Astrology stands on its own without "Seeds and Beginnings" for radical charts are radical regardless of our belief that there are "Seeds and Beginnings" or not.

I do not understand where you see this idea that the proposition requires you to change the time of a nativity. You return to this point a number of times, but it is not addressed by the proposition. Here is what I wrote:

| Since PTSB (Ptolemy's Theory
| of Seeds and Beginnings) does
| not apply to every instance of
| chart-making, and since PTSB
| otherwise does not gain astrology
| ANY advantage whatsoever, we
| should toss PTSB out of any
| theory of astrology.

If you are drawing a conclusion from those words that forces you to take a different time for a birth chart, then please explain your reasoning, as it not clear to me.

> just check your daily transits 

The proposition says nothing about whether transits will work. Again, the proposition does not claim that the methods of astrologers do not work, or that they must be changed somehow. The proposition is attempting to bring theory in line with the observed practice of astrologers.

>> What is needed to invalidate the proposition is a
>> firm disproof of the proposition, such as a proof
>> that PTSB is needed for every chart.
> I do need the PTSB for every chart.

I've never claimed that you *must* adopt the proposition. This list is for discussing the theory and culture of astrology, and is meant for debating propositions and examining implications of astrology. The focus here is meant to be questioning and to allow asking many questions that would not be permitted in other forums. Sometimes it seems that we astrologers feel duty bound to adopt or reject every new idea that comes along without even debating the pros and cons. For instance, I know for a fact that number of readers here believe that astrology is a pure projection of astrologers minds, and while I do not agree, I believe there is no harm is discussing the idea. The proposition I posted may be utterly false, but I'd still like to debate it as it seems reasonable, and I choose to assume that it is valid at least for the purposes of debate. At the very least, this can be viewed as a "game" of rhetoric, rather than a debate over "church dogma" :^)

> I am at a lose concerning
> how you can keep assigning
> high radix charge to certain
> charts and at the same time
> toss out the principle
> validating this assigning of 
> higher radix charge to some
> charts, namely commencement
> charts, in the continuum of
> instants describing the state
> of the system in time.  

In the first place, the idea of "radix charge" is unique to your brand of astrology, and from here looks to be the imposition of another, new "cosmic force" -- a thing we astrologers really don't need. Second, the idea that this "principle" validates your "charge" is circular logic: because there are radical charts, there must be a "seed and beginning", and because there is a "seed and beginning" then there are radical charts, etc. Next, the idea of a "continuum of instants" is another restatement of the untenable conceptualization of the universe as clockworks (and radicality as phlogiston?). We have no proof that it is so, but much evidence that suggests that it is not. What we do know is that there are discrete instants where we astrologers create maps that are significant. When we are not creating maps, there are no significant maps . . . or so it seems. There may actually be radicality when we are not casting charts, but there is no way to prove it. Radicality only exists when we cast a chart, and once you cast the chart the moment is no longer background.

Let me restate that last point, which is an implication of my argument. Where astrologers draw charts is where you will find radicality. Where astrologers do not draw charts, there is not necessarily radicality. This gets very interesting when you follow the implications out a bit further (and ultimately becomes extremely fertile ground).

>> and I hope you'll find a
>> biologist or two to study
>> these conjectures
> Nah!, it is not top priority . . .
> . . . My top priority now,
> as far as research, is to continue
> working on my mathematical
> project to make sense of the
> numbers that win at any lottery,

Let me see if I understand properly. You claim to have made a living from astrology for many years, but refuse to spend any effort proving your claim that you have a "rational scientific" basis to astrology, a claim, which, if proven, would ensure the survival of astrology in the intellectual domain for many years, instead of the debased status the profession now holds there. Instead, you hold that the best thing to do is to develop a method for quickly extracting money from gambling institutions (and essentially halting all such enterprises). On top of that you suppose that it is possible to develop a formal mathematical structure that has eluded many great minds for centuries and which has been during this century shown to be neigh impossible to state in formal terms. Then, you see no problem in making claims about astrology which you will not prove.

I again recommend Cornelius' "The Moment of Astrology", not the least reason being the remarks he puts forth about ethics and the behavior of astrologers and how those affect the standing of the art. In a very real sense most of what astrology has to fall back on in this modern era is the ethical stance and direction of astrologers, lacking that we are simply "inexpensive counseling".

> [concerning horaries] However,
> this secondary chart, can be 
> seen like a progression of the
> other chart, the one for the moment
> I understood the question, which
> carries a higher radix charge, and
> is thus better to use.

This contradicts PTSB as you are saying that two or more "seeds and beginnings" which germinate are for the same thing. Or that one thing (a question) has a multiplicity of germinations of "seeds and beginnings", some of which are better on an arbitrary scale of desirability called a "radix charge". Yet, astrologers look for differences (as in twins) in small changes of time or place to account for the big differences in the real world, thus a continuum of similar "charge" over a small spread of time or place is not dissimilar and not necessarily for the same thing. Beyond that you say "can be seen like a progression" but it is not only not a progression, progressions are never used that way, are they? In order to try fitting horary into PTSB you need to provide a load of supposition. This once pure concept of the ambient impressing a seed at a single moment as the basis for a charts has suddenly branched out into a Nile delta of possibilities requiring many supporting statements to make it palatable. Generally I dislike those who pull out Ockham's Razor during a tiff, but here I'd like to suggest that adoption of the proposition reduces clutter and gives the bulwarks of astrology trimmer, sleeker, sturdier lines. One only has to overcome a bit of existential fear and the work is done.

> that's the natural moment
> to cast the chart for, unless
> you want to complicate the
> story.  . . . About the place,
> I think the astrologer's
> location is the natural choice.

Here's what I mean about horaries not being a bit like births, we don't discuss which time or location is the "natural choice" for a birth chart. And horaries work despite the differing choices made by different astrologers, and another astrologer will have a different concept of what is "natural" for horary charts. Lilly himself finds fault with Bonatus over this issue and points out that the Arabian astrologers debated it much. I've recently been studying Lilly's horary charts in "Christian Astrology" and note that in the very first horary in the book, the Querent came to him with the following questions:

  1. if he were likely to live long
  2. which part of the world would be best for him
  3. which part of his life would be the most fortunate
  4. what accidents have occurred to him in the past
  5. what accidents might he expect in the future, and good or evil
  6. the times when
One wonders if Lilly would ever need a nativity if he drew this much from a horary. Indeed, all of these were answered with one chart. Now, I am at a loss to describe how these various queries might be made into one "seed" question, or how all of these strands of thought and meaning might find their way into the womb of the astrologers mind to germinate and to form a single entity. And if they might not, then how is it that one chart answers many questions, which are hardly likely to be created at the same instant? The more one digs into horary the less PTSB seem to apply.

> If what you are saying then
> is that every instant carries
> radical charge, I agree with
> you.  But if you are saying
> that the radical charge is the
> same for all instants, then I
> think you are in a grave error.

I am saying none of those. I disagree with all of those.

The whole problem with this "radical charge" idea is that it obfuscates the issue and lets one pretend that one is dealing with a physical attribute, like electrical charge, when there is no demonstrable physical attribute like this at play. This is only a construct of the mind, there is no "flow of radical charge" through time in the "clockwork" of the solar system. The danger is that one can start using these mental analogues as if they were more than mental pictures for navigating complex choices. If there is no such thing as "radical charge" then any supposition about how it operates is pure, groundless speculation.

> The proof is repeated
> every time that a horary
> astrologer solves a query
> for a client from the
> relations observed . . .

That is simply a statement that horaries are radical. PTSB and radicality are not the same thing. That is what the proposition states: RADICALITY EXISTS, and does not require "Seeds and Beginnings".

Thus far, most of your arguments are arguments FOR radicality, as if PTSB and radicality were the same thing. The proposition states that charts are radical without PTSB, so let us drop PTSB and deal with radicality directly instead of questioning how PTSB could possibly work in a given instance and needing to create a support structure so that PTSB does not show contradiction.

This is critical: Radicality is necessary to astrology, "Seeds and Beginnings" are not. One can have Radicality without "Seeds and Beginnings" (as shown by many examples).

> some of these ways are
> what you are calling "wrong
> charts", but that does not
> have much to do with what
> we are talking about . . . 

They have _everything_ to do with what we are talking about.

> and I see no need to challenge
> the Axiom of Beginnings.

The defense of PTSB is starting to look like epicycles or the pre-relativity aether--the supporting framework becomes more and more cumbersome . . .

> When this "wrong charts"
> phenomenon pops up, you
> will always find Neptune
> atop the hierarchy. If you
> study a Wrong Chart in real
> depth, it will reveal to you
> its wrong nature.

Or will Neptune confuse even the most skilled astrologer, convincing them that they have conquered Neptune's illusions, little realizing how subtle illusion can be? Not to mention that this counter-argument to the "wrong charts" issue needs to jump outside astrology theory to find something to defend astrology theory. . .

Sorry, let me get back to the point. The original issue was that PTSB doesn't explain "wrong charts" (in quotes because they are not truly "wrong", they are simply radical charts that defy PTSB) but to then pull up Neptune as an explanation is to suggest that Neptune is even more powerful that PTSB, that is, Neptune supersedes PTSB!

What is particularly nasty about "wrong charts" when one accepts PTSB is that one doesn't know if one has a "wrong chart" until one finds out AT A LATER DATE, after working with it in a useful manner. That is, if I knew that a chart was a "wrong chart" before I cast it, then I wouldn't cast it. Further, I have no real method of avoiding "wrong charts" with any certainty. ANY chart you have can be a "wrong chart"! So now a force that trumps PTSB is ALWAYS at play when any chart is cast, just waiting for that possible moment where I find out that the chart is a "wrong chart" and PTSB suddenly fails, and Neptune jumps up to dominate anything that might have been good about the chart a few moments ago, no matter how radical the chart may have been. Once it violates PTSB you are suddenly under the fog of Neptune and must question the fact of having had a radical chart--no matter how good the chart was and how important and useful it may have been.

**The radicality of the chart is disposed so that PTSB is not violated! **

So, according to this explanation, Neptune is always there looking over your shoulder, and Neptune can always trump PTSB. In order to defend PTSB, then PTSB must ALWAYS be superseded by the paranormal force of Neptune, which we can never eliminate. PTSB requires that we ignore radical charts in order to justify PTSB. There's something wrong with that.

When one tosses out PTSB, one no longer has "wrong charts" as one is interested in radical charts, not in simply justifying Ptolemy.

> . . . experience has shown the
> astrologers of many different
> cultures finding out that a true
> beginning is a true beginning
> and it sure makes things easier
> putting your origin there.

Actually, as I believe I've demonstrated in a reasonable way, the "axiom" of beginnings requires that we make things very difficult in order to make it fit the real world of astrologers. In order to make PTSB account for all of the points that have been raised, one needs to prop it up with an increasing number of special cases and supporting arguments. That is the exact opposite of "makes things easier".

On the other hand, the proposition actually does make things easier by not demanding we prop up PTSB with hundreds of supporting arguments for each "odd" thing that contradicts PTSB. Nor do we toss out radical charts simply because they violate PTSB. The proposition directs our attention to the real focus in all charts, which is radicality, and shows it plain without trying to justify it to ancient physics. And this last point is perhaps the most important point, as it gives us a chance to re-center astrology around a more ethical perspective, and that, I feel, is the most critical issue facing astrology today.



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