Exegesis Volume 3 Issue #42

From: jtunney
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #40

From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #40

Exegesis Digest Mon, 11 May 1998

Date: Fri, 08 May 1998 21:31:49 -0400
From: jtunney
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #40

Metalog wrote:
 > Exegesis Digest Thu, 07 May 1998 Volume 3 Issue 40
 > Contents
 > -----e-----
 > From: Mary Downing
 > Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #38
 > From: mary downing
 > Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #37
 > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
 > Date: Tue, 5 May 1998 23:17:20 -0400 (EDT)
 > From: Mary Downing
 > To: Exegesis
 > Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #38
 > Message-Id:
 > You lurketh!

It's about all I can do these days, what with UAC coming and all.
 > I have no problem with an objective psychology, Jan. I have problems with
 > the feel-good pop type, personality inventories, etc.

Maybe I should set out my hypothesis here so I don't get into as much trouble when I say that while I'm not a big fan of the "feel-good pop type, personality inventories, etc," I think they have their place--maybe not one either you or I would like to occupy, but a place nonetheless. I work for Stanley Greenspan, M.D., a child psychiatrist who has done a great deal of work on the developmental stages of infants and toddlers and I've learned a great deal. One of the most interesting things I've learned is why we use language at all and how it develops as we do. Dr. Greenspan calls it the symbolic use of ideas. Words and language represent our wishes, desires, and intentions. Before we have words, we use behaviors to indicate what we want (pointing, pulling a parent by the hand to the door, etc.). As our desires and intentions become more complex, using gestures to indicate them becomes cumbersome and not very efficient. Our parents use words to indicate the things we point to (You want the **juice**?)and after a while, we recognize the word "juice" as a symbol for that nice tasting orange stuff in the refrigerator, and, if we use it, we get it. From the simple use of single words and phrases to get our needs met, our language becomes more creative and symbolic. We find words to express concepts (up, down, behind, etc.) and through pretend play, we learn to symbolize and elaborate on a whole range of ideas, concepts, and feelings. Once we have lots of words and ideas, we begin to connect them with logical bridges (Don't want to go to bed. Not sleepy.) and to connect them to the ideas of others (Why do you want to go outside? To play.). As we begin to do this, we also begin to reflect on our own actions and understand them, learn how to use them, and become truly thinking individuals. And all this by age three or four. Naturally, as we get older and gain more experience, our use of words becomes more and more sophisticated and refined. We can say "pretty" in five or six different ways. We can understand concepts of love, justice, and morals. Of course, our environments, parents, cultures, and all that play a big part in what we learn (or don't learn) and how we use what we learn.

To me, astrology is simply another symbolic language that we are learning (first simply by sun signs, perhaps) and elaborating on, getting more sophisticated and complex in our understanding all the time. And, like all things human, people are all at different stages at different times. A teenager talking to a toddler cannot expect him to know and understand all the words and concepts she knows. She must, at first, simplify what she's saying, meeting the child where he is on the developmental ladder, understanding that greater sophistication will come with age and experience. Astrologers, too, are at all different levels. As the more experienced ones struggle to embrace the more complex symbology and deepen their understanding, the newer ones use what symbols they can to explain their burgeoning knowledge. Sometimes that knowledge may be pretty simplistic or shallow, but it's not unlike a child who starts pretend play by feeding the dolls and ends up with space stations on Mars with life support systems and wars between the settlers and the giant ants who want to conquer Earth.
 > This is actually mixing apples and oranges. You're saying -- what are we
 > studying this for if we aren't going to use it on/for humans?

That's not quite what I'm saying. I'm saying we are studying it because we're humans and we think that studying the cycles of the things around us that can help us in our lives. It's our own symbolic language that we've developed to explain ourselves to ourselves in terms of our place in the cycles of the universe, solar system, and the earth, where we live.

I'm human, so defacto anything I do with astrology is human-oriented even if it relates
 > to crop cycles. No argument. But aren't you curious as to what it is we're
 > actually studying and on what level it operates?

Don't you think we're studying the cycles of ourselves as they relate to the other cycles around us? It's a neat fact to know that Saturn's orbit of the Sun takes approximately 28-32 years and that's what astronomers have learned, but astrologers have related that cycle to a human cycle that we all experience in one way or another. That's why we're astrologers and not astronomers. We relate the cycles to human beings and human affairs. Finding the logical connections between the cycles in our universe and our behavior and actions as human beings.

As to the level on which it operates, I think that as we become more sophisticated in our understanding of the workings of human beings we begin to develop deeper and more complex symbols to represent that understanding. Maybe it's even a two-way street. Maybe we develop the symbol and by looking at that symbol outside of ourselves (objectively), we get a better understanding of our own workings. I think the best example, to me, of this phenomenon would be the relatively recent discoveries of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, each of which symbolize a complexity in humans and their society. As we grow and develop, we need more complex symbols to express ourselves.

 > You certainly won't deny that some "psychologies" are only appropriate in
 > western European Judeo-Christian culture, would you?

No question that some "psychologies" are only appropriate in western ... culture. We use the symbols we understand based on where we are. Doubtless there are psychologies throughout the world which would not be appropriate for western...culture either. Our symbol sets are derived, as I said before, from our parents, families, cultures, and environments. Greenspan says, about learning words, that we need to teach children words that are useful to them, words that they need to use every day -- juice, cup, out, in, up, down. If the child lived in the jungle, he might rather learn "run" "tiger" and "hide." Symbols are only useful to us if we can relate to them.

I find disturbing the type of study that was done in the early 80's by that researcher in California using one of the personality inventories.

In all science (and, of course, pseudo-science) we can find examples of appalling research, study design, and study execution. All we can do is be as aware as we can of what good study methods entail and, as astrologers, not be so quick to try to "prove" ourselves.

 > I can objectively relate planetary cyclic data to plane crashes and stock
 > prices. People collect the data and the results are understood by most.
 > However, when we deal with psychological testing instruments, we are dealing
 > with multiple layers of assumption filtered through cultural interpretation
 > that is likely to mislead us.

True enough, Mary, human beings are hard enough to predict under any circumstances or by anyone. Think of the psychologist who announces that his patient is fine and the patient turns around and kills someone. How could you know? And not only are we mislead by cultural interpretation, there are personal biases and, of course, the actual developmental levels of the ones doing the interpreting as well. No question. It's a complex field. But that's why we look to all sorts of symbols and symbolic languages to discover what about us *is* predictable and related to other cycles. Sure, it's safer to predict plane crashes and stock prices, and doing so is fine, but, as I have said, let's not forget that we're doing that to serve ourselves -- human beings. And astrology can be used to deepen our understanding of ourselves. A person can apologize for lashing out wildly -- it's my Mars-Uranus square -- and astrologers will understand that symbology and forgive it. A psychiatrist or psychologist may have some other symbolic way of understanding that Mars/Uranus dynamic, but his understanding will be the same and he'll forgive it. But for someone who does not have a symbolic understanding of that behavior, it can look pretty awful and very offensive. The better we understand our own dynamics, the more control we have over ourselves and our reactions to others.
 > ------------------------------
 > Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 14:01:22 -0400 (EDT)
 > From: mary downing
 > To: Exegesis
 > Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #37
 > Message-Id:
 > As astrology exists now, I contend, it is a technology or "art", not a
 > science. We have much more in common with a doctor who uses the fruits of
 > many disciplines to treat a patient than we do with a scientist trying to
 > derive true information through experiments.

I agree, Mary.

 > In short we can test 21 varieties of soup for the presence of green beans to
 > show it's "vegetable soup". Or we can do a "market research" test and serve
 > 100 sets of 21 people identical bowls of soup and see which ones they like
 > and which ones they don't. If you're Cambell's, which model are you going
 > to use, and do you care if Science will publish?

It's interesting. Greenspan, the psychiatrist I work for, absolutely abhors the use of labeling or teaching by rote to teach a child anything. The only way a child will learn something, remember it, and apply its concept to other things, is if he or she has an emotional reason to remember it. He recommends helping a child become more reflective and abstract in his or her thinking by asking his opinions about things (Why do you like this better than that?) and engaging her in debates. This is the way to broaden our understanding of astrology, I think. You may remember that you liked or disliked geometry, but unless you use the theorems in your work to accomplish a goal, it's unlikely you will remember them, even if you slaved over them for a couple of years. I'm not so sure it's necessary to subject astrology to all the rigors and strictures of scientific proof. As you said once before, Mary, I'll go with what works and what I have seen work.
 > Jan Tunney


Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 22:50:37 +0000
From: "William D. Tallman"
To: exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #40

 > From: Mary Downing
 > Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #38

 > Readers all: you'll remember I referred to a discussion going on on
 > ACT concerning child psychology and focusing on developmental
 > stages, etc., that I thought was appropriate for the astrological
 > premise? Well, we have the lady with us.

Welcome, Jan!

 > Not talking about the sort you wrote of on ACT based on actual
 > brain and central nervous system development. I applaud that type
 > of approach.

This sounds quite interesting. Perhaps Jan would present at least a precise' of her argument here.

 > ...............I find disturbing the type of study that was done in
 > the early 80's by that researcher in California using one of the
 > personality inventories.
 > This researcher approached Tony Joseph, who should have known [snip]
 > The test
 > takers couldn't recognize their own profiles, however, although most
 > of them could recognize their horascope interpretations.

This is exactly the sort of fatuous sophomoric pap we *must* avoid. Clearly there were political interests that drove the publication of this garbage in Science, which does Science no credit, of course. Any of these attempts that we can analyze, that is, we have at hand the protocols etc., should be presented in a work critical of this sort of thing. Yet another useful work awaiting someone who would be edified by performing it....

Interesting they could recognize their own horoscope interps, though; of course, this part of the findings was corrupted by the absence of appropriate relevant protocols.

 > It wasn't that we had a CSICOP plant, although the researcher
 > immediately became their darling. We had astrologers who assumed the
 > test related to something objective and real. It didn't. It was
 > something concocted in a culture (the 50's) so different from the
 > 80's that it could have come from Mars. It would have been just as
 > inappropriate if it had been given to American Indians or Asian
 > immigrants.

To the extent that astrologers who gain enough of a reputation to have visibility in our culture refuse to make themselves knowledgeable in these matters, we will continue to have this sort of thing happen, and it will be the fault of astrologers themselves in particular and the responsibility of astrology in general when we are so badly "had" yet again.

 > I can objectively relate planetary cyclic data to plane crashes and
 > stock prices. People collect the data and the results are
 > understood by most. However, when we deal with psychological testing
 > instruments, we are dealing with multiple layers of assumption
 > filtered through cultural interpretation that is likely to mislead
 > us.

Psychology is only beginning to be able to develop real testable hypotheses that yield meaningful findings in these regards. Clinical findings are obviously profoundly useful, but they shed no light on what is actually going on; they show that something is that should be addressed. Neuroscience is changing this, thankfully for us who benefit from psychopharmacology. Eventually the interpretive filters themselves will be tested and replaced. *Then* we will be able to use psychological findings, I think.

 > We could study a group that was determined by an event. Suicides,
 > homicides, various kinds of lawbreakers. Gauquelin used professional
 > acclaim. Even that can be warped.

And, according to what I've heard, *was* warped, though it is not clear to me what effect that had on the findings.

 > One researcher submitted a study (for NCGR Journal publication)
 > that
 > proposed to disprove the validity of midpoints based on his study of
 > depression. He used a Saturn/Neptune midpoint and his database was
 > hospital admission for alchoholism! Even if depression is a
 > component of what an alchoholic presents, we have no idea if it
 > causes the alchoholism or is caused by it. Even if all alchoholics
 > were depressed, not all depressives are alchoholics! And what does
 > Saturn/Neptune have to do with alchoholism anyway?

What did NCGR Journal do in response? Did it reject or accept the study? If it rejected it, did it specify why it did so? If an established astrology organization could respond to these ill-conceived studies in a manner that is useful, we would be benefited by the repudiation thereof. I have this sinking feeling that this was not the case, and would really be edified to discover I am wrong.....

 > I've been playing with some material recently that indicates Mercury
 > and/or Venus conjunct the Sun shows abnormally high counts in both
 > plane crashes and bankruptcies. Now I may use that for judging
 > corporate charts or check it before I board a plane, but I can't
 > really translate it to something "psychological". I may talk about
 > corporate "natal" charts, but even anthropomorphism has its limits
 > with plane crashes.

Mercury *and/or* Venus? Well, we're looking at the orbits of planets that never get that far away from the sun, from our point of view, and this would seem to indicate some sort of scientifically imaginable mechanism, and that sounds promising. In this regard, it falls outside the bounds of astrology as a phenomenon, and so might serve to support an investigation of some part of the "astrological effect" itself.

I, for one, claim that reports of this sort of work on this list are exactly what we need, in addition to all the other stuff we're addressing. Perhaps Mary would expand on this...

 > From: mary downing
 > Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #37

 > To all:
 > I got rather far afield from my original remarks concerning
 > psychology vis a vis astrology and the propriety of the scientific
 > model.
 > As astrology exists now, I contend, it is a technology or "art", not
 > a science. We have much more in common with a doctor who uses the
 > fruits of many disciplines to treat a patient than we do with a
 > scientist trying to derive true information through experiments. As
 > we all know, one can treat an illness without being aware of the
 > causal factor. It helps, though.

To the extent that practicing astrologers are actually "healers of the soul" or "nurtures of their fellow man" by advocation, then this use of (psychological) astrology has developed a profound value. I was informed recently that a leading light of establishment astrology has held quite passionately that by far the most good done by modern astrologers takes place at the kitchen table where a (somewhat) knowledgeable friend applies astrology in a caring and ego-less manner to someone in need of guidance. This is psychological astrology in the trenches, and those practitioners who fit the above description are to be deeply commended.

I am especially addressing these comments to all the lurkers on this list who aren't certain that theoretical and philosophical work on astrology has any usefulness, indeed, any *place* in astrological discussion. Those of you that are described above, take heed: nothing that is said here is in any way intended to denigrate your importance to astrology and to your fellow man. By your work you define yourself far beyond our powers to do so, and at least from me, you will always earn a hearty round of applause and whatever support I can offer.

Having said that....

 > We have more than one problem.
 > A: We don't know what we're studying. We currently study
 > effects not causes.
 > B: We are attempting to fit a multidimensional model into a
 > flat format.
 > C: We are wedded to a concept that "astrology" is best
 > reflected in the internal psychological state,
 > which may not be the best experimental format.
 > If you all will bear with me, I'll try to present my opinion in a
 > more structured fashion:
 > 1. What we call astrology is an application of a body of lore,
 > derived over time, to planetary placement mostly measured in
 > longitude. We use many techniques, some from observation and some
 > from a theoretical basis with varying degrees of success. It is
 > largely, in our era, the study of internal mental states and
 > pronouncement of "character" based on (currently and locally held
 > )prejudice. Not totally, just mostly.
 > 2. The prevailing dominance of longitudinal placement (as a basis
 > for interpretation) largely ignores other equally important orbital
 > factors, which would be necessary if we were truly trying to address
 > planetary cycles as causative agents. Recently there's been a
 > renewed interest in declinations, and years ago Michael Erlewine
 > tried to excite the community to the interaction of various orbital
 > planes. There have been other attempts; i.e., Nelson, Landscheit,
 > Ebertin, Jhondro, and Jayne.
 > 3. Many astrologers simply haven't the mathematics or astronomy
 > background to investigate these premises. However, with the much
 > more sophisticated computer programs available today, in astrology,
 > astronomy, and statistical interpretation; it is possible to at
 > least exploit whatever opportunities the programs offer.
 > 4. Even some of the people mentioned above, seemed to have no idea
 > about testing their material against objective data. Jayne wrote a
 > very interesting pamphlet on planetary nodes which he interpreted in
 > the most mystical manner imaginable. Jayne was a market researcher.
 > It's absolutely amazing that he didn't at least attempt finding
 > some correlation in market movements; but he was conforming to the
 > pervailing fashion.
 > 5. Objective data is important because, if I limit myself to
 > subjective data only -- no matter how derived -- I have absolutely
 > no idea in the final analysis if it's true. I have to rely on some
 > nested filter: a test (which may be faulty), opinion of others (as
 > in the Gauquelin "keyword" data). If I limit my subject to a
 > physical trait or mundane event, I have evidence that doesn't have
 > to be interpreted through another mechanism. Car accidents are car
 > accidents. Market declines are market declines.
 > 6. After I've derived such results, I can see if they apply to other
 > arenas. Most important though: I've shown that the celestial event
 > corresponds to something measurable. The astrological world then
 > can re-evaluate it in terms of human psyche to it's heart content.
 > 7. There is one problem in this scenario. Modern statistics do not
 > easily deal with combined factors and almost nothing except
 > economics, agronomy and meteorology consider a time-line to be
 > important. We can either pare the astrological model to fit what
 > exists in other disciplines (and possibly kill the benefit of the
 > result), or simply develop a model that will give us the greatest
 > amount of useful information and to hell with pleasing the
 > scientific community.
 > 8. Since I haven't seen any evidence that "Institutionalized
 > Science" has an open mind regarding cyclic data much less astrology,
 > I say we should begin to study how the concepts we currently employ
 > pan out when we test them ( against objective data). We may find
 > we're barking up the wrong tree. In fact, I already have a good
 > deal of material showing we indeed are misinterpreting certain
 > planets and lunar phases.
 > It boils down to this. We can test, in methods that inform us as
 > astrologers, what works and how much. Or we can strip away the
 > interactive nature of the astrological model, and perform selective
 > tests in a scientifically prescribed fashion that will give us
 > statistical significance but may ignore major factors. In short we
 > can test 21 varieties of soup for the presence of green beans to
 > show it's "vegetable soup". Or we can do a "market research" test
 > and serve 100 sets of 21 people identical bowls of soup and see
 > which ones they like and which ones they don't. If you're
 > Cambell's, which model are you going to use, and do you care if
 > Science will publish?
 > --Mary Downing

I tend not to waste bandwidth with full quotes, but this post bears repeating as many times as it takes to get the ideas herein across!!!

Finally, we have the sort of approach we desperately need if we are to do more than engage in endless and fruitless discussion. These are thoughts and ideas that address *astrology*, not the sort of astro-psychobabble or unfounded and untested canonical lore that is nearly all that is available to modern students of astrology.

Those of us who have or have had successful practices must admit that our success has almost totally been the result of our own efforts and our own ability to recognize and use only what we could make work for us. The student of astrology must still do the same thing, and to the extent he/she does, astrology has failed to progress as a modern study, be that as an art, a science, a craft, or whatever. To the extent we find this acceptable, we fail astrology.

Mary Downing has laid the first large block in the foundation of what could be done on, or because of, this list. Is there anyone out there in lurker land who will step up and assay to contribute another block of equal quality? How about someone posing a question that would lead to the development of such a foundation block?




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