Exegesis Volume 2 Issue #37

Exegesis Digest Mon, 15 Sep 1997


Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 20:44:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: Belinda Ray
Subject: Discussion subjects

>From: John Reder
>Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V2 #35
on : "Carla M. Vorsatz's request to discuss house systems.

>        It would be nice to start any discussion in this list. ...

>        I would love to get some discussions going on horary and
>        event
>astrology, but it is almost impossible to get anything going.  At
>least with this group, it is mostly silence.  Which beats inane
>        If you want to talk about house systems, go ahead.  I
>        don't object.

I agree completely! Let's get into some meaty discussion, of some kind! I, too, might prefer horary or event astrology, but anything with substance would be stimulating. Go for it!



Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 12:13:36 +0000
From: Francis G. Kostella
Subject: A Summary (and more)

In Exegesis V2I32 (way back when), Roger L. Satterlee wrote:

> Thank you for the very literate
> discussion of "seeds and
> beginnings", but I must confess
> I have been somewhat
> overwhelmed.
> I would very much like to see a
> summary, a capsulated version, for
> those of us still recovering from
> whatever the Borg has done with
> our concept of individual initiative...:)

I'm not sure that I'd characterize my writing there as "literate" as it was mainly verbose. I was aiming for a reasonable presentation of some of the ideas from "Moment" along with a few of my own additions, and if I've overwhelmed you then perhaps I've missed my mark and an attempt at a summary *would* be appropriate. I'm sorry about the time it has taken to write this reply, but I (evidently) had to go through a long thought process to write even what follows, let alone really meet your request.

First, the direct impulse for bringing up the topic was my searching Geoffrey Cornelius' "The Moment of Astrology" for a horary that Charles Carter cast in the early 60s asking "if there was anything to horary" (an era when horary was seemingly in eclipse). While doing so I found myself fully engaged in reading the entire book again. One of the most interesting aspects of "Moment" is that Cornelius writes with a context missing in so many other astrologer authors, his view of the fall and current status of astrology is not a sugar-coated New Age commercial that avoids the bitter truth. The rationalists have won all of the battles for the last few centuries and astrologers have retreated to a small island far from the trade winds. Given a century of astrologer's attempts to align astrology with scientism's monoculture, their failure to do so, and the subsequent rout, the need has arisen to explain astrology in terms that account for its inability to please scientism. Perhaps "need" is too strong a term as astrology seems quite able to endure the blows of skepticism, and even expand to a degree, but I believe that many of us hope for an astrology with a thriving element of intellectual rigor, and if we cannot muster coherent arguments then we are likely to lack even that. (And thus, my purpose in starting up this list.)

It is not that astrology fails tests but that it does not pass tests, results are spotty and erratic. Why is that so? One possible answer is to say that astrology is simply a fantasy and projection. But what an astonishing and amazing fantasy and projection it is, so unlike anything else on which we might hang the label of fantasy and projection. Why is that astrology endures while many other approaches the rationalists have labeled fantasy and projection have fallen? Why is astrology so widespread among cultures while other forms have not spread? Not only does my subjective experience tell me that astrology is not simply a fantasy and projection, but my examination of what fields of knowledge have endured over the ages suggests that astrology is not a fantasy and projection. There is a certain unique quality to astrology that eludes the rationalists.

But on what is astrology based? How can astrology be a legitimate field of study if it lacks a demonstrable physical foundation? Well, that (trick) question nearly answers itself, doesn't it, as many areas of human study lack "demonstrable physical foundations", but the issue that sticks in some people's craws is that astrologers posit a physical basis to astrology. (In fact, our culture has developed a concept of "truth" as primarily being equivalent to "physical fact" yet this is a relatively recent invention. There are many brands of truth, but it is nearly taken as blasphemy to suggest that other brands of truth are as important as the "truth of physical fact" and even worse to suggest that seeking morality in physical fact is foolish. Nonetheless, I put it forth without argument and hope readers can choke down their repugnance.) Perhaps we can, for our own purposes, work at it from another direction, allowing astrology to be true (I'm not going to make the case for the truth of astrology as I tend to go on too long as it is, and I assume all readers can accept this view without pain). Then the attempts to fit astrology into our modern physical sciences is where the problem occurs. And I'm not saying that the fault is with the modern physical sciences.

First, we should recognize that astrology does not demand that we provide it with "demonstrable physical foundations", that is only a desire of astrologers, and certainly not the majority of astrologers at that. Along with that, we can see that there have been attempts to integrate astrology into the physics of the times, but this has been attempted only during certain times and at certain places. These attempts have been mainly conceptual and never founded on solid ground (as we now perceive it), and further, the idea of what a physics is supposed to be has likely shifted and changed over time. Next we can consider that the overwhelming majority of astrologers are not concerned with "demonstrable physical foundations" but work their astrology as a kind of "practical engineering" without recourse to theory or physics, and only parrot some theory they have read or been told. We can continue to pile ideas like these up, but I believe that it already clear that not only are we are lacking "demonstrable physical foundations" but we really don't care so much to have them, only for show if at all.

Some may read the above and, if they accept that view as valid, may feel somewhat fearful that such a "truth" would mean ill for astrology, but I take a different view of the whole affair:

First, if we were interested in studying physics we would be studying physics. Most of us are not, we are interested in studying astrology and so we spend our times studying astrology. Well, that hardly seems profound! Let me try to clear it up a bit. We are people who, for whatever reason, are drawn to this astrological manner of viewing the world. For instance, we have all had to deal the astrological houses, a wheel of meaning that encompasses the whole of human experience. The WHOLE of human experience. We expect astrologers to be able to delineate ANY area of life that a human being would encounter in their journey. But the student of physics might start with a simple description of the behavior of the universe such as that derived by Newton, and proceed from there to later developments in the field, eventually ending up in a narrow slice of expertise. If we want to understand what happens when we yank out the control rods in a nuclear reactor, then we talk to a physicist. But my experience has been that physicists aren't very good at synastry issues, I prefer to talk to an astrologer about those types of concerns. Reactor cores and love relationships are not of the same order of truth and to pretend that we can treat them the same is to make a fundamental error (and here, I offer no proof of this claim).

What I'm pointing at is that areas of human knowledge have a focus and a boundary. In physics the focus is to understand the physical universe, and the boundary is what has been observed about the physical universe. In astrology the focus is the meaning of human lives, and the boundary is all human experience. Note that these two do not share foci or boundaries. Attempts to merge these two without consideration for their differences will meet with failure, not to mention abuse of the systems under scrutiny. When we consider the small overlap between physics and astrology, their different foci, and that most of both exist outside each other's boundary, we may see the danger of trying to equate the two. It is very easy to get into trouble because we can, if we were inside the area of physics, assume that the whole of astrology were those small parts inside our physics boundary. Then it is easy to see why physics oriented folks take a rather dim view of astrology as it "is only" simple physics muddled up with other "non-physical stuff". Likewise, from inside the astrology boundary, many people only see those few bits of physics inside the astrology boundary, and then believe that physicists are on the verge of some "great leap forward" into "psychedelic physics" and "extreme consciousness physics". But no such thing is about to happen, and that is very clear when one gets totally outside the boundary of astrology, and inside the boundary of physics (where the only people abandoning math for meditation are those exiting the field).

What has happened is that each "side" has decided that the boundary of the other is only that area which is familiar, and each has projected their own focus onto the other.

The major problem is that we are all using caricatures of each other and all of our interactions are strained because we do not understand what the other person is trying to understand and what they know and how they operate and what is acceptable. What we need to do is learn about the focus and boundary of the other system of knowledge, as do the others. What we astrologers have been trying to do for the last handful of decades or so is reorient our focus to match that of the physics of our times and reduce our boundary so that it is entirely encompassed by the boundary of physics. But what has been accomplished has been to build a simulacrum of astrology inside physics, and it doesn't work. It is useless. It is Borg astrology. (For those who missed it, the "Borg" are a fictional race of cyborgs from "Star Trek" who are trying to conquer the entire universe by assimilating and mechanizing each being and race that they encounter, an apt symbol of materialism run amok.)

Instead of trying to blend ourselves with physics I think that we actually need to differentiate ourselves as much as possible. We should seek to shrink the overlap between astrology and physics for two main reasons: first let us shrink the false caricature of astrology in the hope that we can minimize the chance for misunderstanding, and thus, hopefully, we will open some ground from which to have a reasonable open exchange. (Our attempts at increasing the overlap have been very damaging, have they not?) Secondly, we should not allow the focus of astrology to turn away from people and towards the physicality of the world. Most of us are not turned on by the stage and the lights and the props, we are turned on by the drama and the story and the actors! I think that the best astrology is the one with the thinnest layer of technology.

This should not be taken as a rejection of critical thinking or research. However, we should be doing those things within our field for OUR purposes, not for the purposes of those who reject our view. Let us stop trying to prove to skeptics that astrology is true in their terms, and lets us devote our energies to building a better foundation to astrology in our terms.

We might consider the idea that astrology doesn't need scientific proving, as that makes no difference whatsoever to astrology. But, proof of techniques or discussions of the best practices would be a very valuable.

Let us get over the self-esteem issue and get on with improving astrology.

As I said, if we were interested in studying physics we would be studying physics. Most of us are not, we are interested in studying astrology and so we spend our times studying astrology.

With that in mind, we should take a good hard look at all of the "nearly physical" theory jetsam in astrology and give it a few hard whacks to see if it falls apart or not.

Then to "Ptolemy's Theory of Seeds and Beginnings", or PTSB as I have been calling it. The basic idea posited by PTSB is that we choose to draw charts for a specific time so as to capture the seed and beginning of the entity in which we are interested. The seed and beginning germinates and flowers into events in the physical existence of our entity. Thus, the physical basis of astrology. At issue is the question of why we choose the moment we choose and that is what this bit of theory attempts to explain.

The oft repeated claim is that all of astrology follows this pattern, and for every chart there is a rationale that the moment of the chart is the seed and beginning of some process (or entity). And this is reasonable when one limits oneself to natal astrology for human lives seem to conform to this idea of organic growth from a seed and beginning (indeed, a biologist might make that claim). In fact it is a very attractive idea and gives us a basis for making a variety of claims about natal techniques.

However, the problems with this idea become clear when we start looking at other areas of astrology and try to apply the same idea. Suddenly we enter a jungle of contradiction and muddy rationalizations attempting to obscure the contradictions. We can make significant progress by simply examining the common practices of horary astrologers. Horary charts are cast for a variety of types of moments and are not limited to simply the time a question is asked. A fairly long list of possible moments and places can be considered, and here are only a few: the place of the querent, the place of the astrologer, the place of the event being examined, the time the querent formed the question, the time the querent presents the question to the astrologer, the time the astrologer receives the question, the time the astrologer understands the question, the time the querent enters the rooms of the astrologer, in a decumbiture the time the person takes to their bed or when urine is brought for examination, etc. Even Lilly in his famous Fish Stolen horary writes: "I took the exact time when I first heard the report" that the warehouse holding his fish had been robbed. Lilly writes very expressively and usually very clearly and that's not the seed and beginning of a question which flowers into actuality, that's when he was informed of an event.

The point being that horary practice does not permit us to claim that there is a seed and beginning to a horary as we might claim for the one possible true time and place of a nativity. In short, horary cares not a bit if a seed and beginning occurs, a chart is either radical or not radical. And if it is not radical you toss it out and do not judge. (For more arguments on the point, one can read the last few messages on the topic at the web site.)

Our theory MUST match our practice. If it does not it is no more than empty words, comforting perhaps, but still empty. At this point one may be tempted to play with the concept a little and contemplate an astrology without seeds and beginnings. One is still left with the issue of why we choose one moment to cast a chart. I've been pondering this point for a few years and I can only parrot (and poorly at that) some of the ideas presented by Cornelius in the second half of his book, along with a few minor points of my own.

First, he put forth the idea of the "katarchic moment", which is chosen as the time when the issue under consideration comes forth an assumes significance. And thus, the preference for birth over conception as most moments of conception are not that significant. However, the birth of a new person is very significant (and those who have never given birth or attended a birth may not fully appreciate how the event resonates and marks people for the rest of their lives) and is the natural moment to signify the individual. A horary astrologer will set a rule or adopt a rule of how to work and will apply it when the significant issue arises, perhaps choosing the reception of the question or the full understanding of the question as the appropriate horary moment.

I want to point out that this view of things does not assume that the solar system is a machine that spews out a continuous stream of significance, but rather that the significance is in the choice of doing a chart for a time and place. It is not that the entire living population of the world is a long series of nativities spread out through time and space, that is a conceptualization with no basis. Rather, there is significance only where an astrologer is drawing a chart. Thus, the complaint that a horoscope is both for a person and for the rat born at the same moment in the sewer below the hospital is moot, the horoscope is for that which the astrologer chooses to draw a chart.

I hope to achieve a clearer understanding of the katarchic moment with further study, but I can list a few points that I feel bring the idea merit. First, the katarchic moment borders on the sacred, and seeks to bring about good for the people involved. As such it is participatory and seeks to create understanding of that which we might call "divine". Indeed, "Moment" treats astrology as being fundamentally divination, and what is divination if not an attempt to make contact with the divine?

The katarchic moment places the astrologer fully in the process and does not permit "total detachment" from the art, in fact there is a sense that astrology itself has a sort of intelligence that not only speaks to the student but sometimes actively "teaches" the attentive student. Since the goal is to bring about good for people, it is moral in that sense and does not permit the astrologer actions that bring about evil results. (However, I'm not claiming that astrology has an absolute moral code. And violations of "permit" hurt astrology, if not the violator. Yes, I know there are problems with this. . .)

Thus, astrology is in some ways a discipline for perfecting our actions and our selves and for bringing good into the world for others. As such, astrology can only occur where an astrologer is there to practice it. Attempts to replace an astrologer with an algorithm for producing good is doomed to fail as there is no way to algorithmically manufacture good. And if astrologers are not trying to bring about good for people then they are doing "Borg" astrology, astrology for robots and other unliving things. Indeed, the "simulacrum of astrology" that I mentioned above is just such a thing.

I understand that some people will have a difficult time with ideas of sacredness and moral good, as indeed I do. In fact I find fewer things more repugnant than an astrologer spouting candy-coated New Age gobbledygook, but I think the problem there is the shallowness of the concept of sacredness and the LACK of concern with the moral good. On the other hand, I think that living in our modern era and being troubled by traditional expressions of sacredness and morality is a sign of the major problems in the culture that have developed by placing "Reason" at the fore. To paraphrase Jung, you don't replace two millennia of Christianity with something shallower.

Finding the ground where one might develop a honest spirituality that avoids the traps of shallowness and the path of least resistance of some traditional expressions is not a trivial undertaking, and perhaps we can see our way clear in trying to map this ground by use of a sensibility that fairly treats with mythic expressions. What I'm suggesting is that the mind of astrology is like that which conceives myth in that it manages to bridge contradiction without harm (and perhaps that reality is too much a dynamic contradiction to be contained in logic).

In any case it seems that the katarchic moment is at the point where consciousness continuously springs forth from the unfolding of time in the world. And that is the best description of sacredness that I can present, and if we can only somehow grasp that spring, then our approach has surpassed any purely mechanical approach, and truly lives. Perhaps what I am pointing at here is a need to have "the mind and the heart-mind guarding each other" as the Taoists say.

But I've wandered far afield, perhaps I best wrap it up. . .

From this "katarchic" view (which might be summarized as "astrology occurs where there are astrologers"), which places a premium on human intention, there is no such thing as saying that "a person is fated to do such and such" as that is only something you can claim when you assume the universe to be a really, really large clockworks. From this view we enable learning, experience, and grace to inform "destiny" rather than holding up an image of fatedness before another person and make pronouncements like a righteous god of old.

Another interesting point about the katarchic moment approach is that it does not require that we posit a long line of ancient astrologers making observations and empirically mapping correspondences in order to generate "basic astrology" as we are no longer pretending to be a science.

I suppose that this is not really much of a "capsulated version", as it leads into other directions. However, I'd intended not to simply summarize for the sake of those who managed to read all of previous discussion, and since nobody has been talking on the list for a while this has been a good opportunity for me to introduce other topics for discussion. However, my personal burden is that I need to learn, ah, brevity.

Comments are very welcome.



Date: Sun, 14 Sep 1997 01:11:18 -0400 (EDT)
From: Sandra Bartman
Subject: House Systems

What exactly would you like to know about house systems?



Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 20:12:08 -0700
From: Greg in Venice Beach
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V2 #36


I would be into starting any kind of discussion on this list , except one concerning the late Princess of Wales.

Houses sounds good to me. I have always been quite stumped by the Eighth House in particular, perhaps because I have a Saturn Jupiter conjunction there natally (in late Capricorn and early Aquarius respectively.) It seems to me that the Eighth has so much to do with some pretty heavy subjects that I find myself swimming in them lost, having a hard time figuring out in what direction solid land lies ( to continue the swimming metaphor.)

I know historically that the Eighth has been treated with suspicion and the power residing in that house has certainly left me reeling at times. Scorpio is the houses ruler. Perhaps since this list has been silent and it has great depth potential, and the subject matter seems murky to me, because the list has not really been defined, maybe we could start with the Eighth House?

Whatever house, I am glad to see email popping up from this list!

Greg Sotir


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