|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #31
Exegesis Digest Thu, 29 Apr 1999
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 09:33:06 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
As above, so below seems to encapsulate the premise of the astrological belief system. Vehicle for transmission of ancient wisdom, embodying consensual perception, cited by many for millennia; or a statement of faith, a mere superstition?
Let's analyse its implications: first, a heaven/earth polarity; second,= a pattern common to both; third, a synchronicity of signs above and effect= s below. To the generic observer these implications derive from both consciousness of unity (the world, cosmos, one's entire surroundings, pattern of the whole) and also from consciousness of duality (sky/earth, world/me, event/experience, coincidence). So when we experience an event= , the inner/outer simultaneity produces a psychological state structured in the most primal way by both the unitary and the dualistic capacities of o= ur psyche.
Empirical observation of the signs in the heavens corresponding with even= ts on earth proved sufficiently frequent and widespread to generate a paradigmatic consensual belief system in ancient times, of which we have mainly inherited Ptolemy's description. Presuming it was not the collect= ive projection of delusions, and the weight of collective verification means = it is real, how to explain this correspondence? OK, a wee digression now, t= o provide some list context=85
Exegesis v4#19, Andre Donnell wrote "my own interest in what William has = to say is that he appears - astonishing concept! - to be trying to motivate the undoubted talent and wisdom on this list toward a concerted effort to get closer to certain mysteries that we may collectively agree upon. That may mean, novelly, a changing of views for all of us, and a more than merely ration= al outcome: better than the shaking of bones at each other (mostly on other lists) which I have lost patience with." Bill Tallman replied "Yes, I am actively soliciting the involvement of the members of this list. I have t= he notion that those who subscribe hereto are genuinely interested in these subjects, and so we have the basis, I think, to assume they have the wisd= om to recognize them as important. Yet, they remain silent! Why is this? Can anyone explain?" Yes, I can. That's how paradigms work. Ever noticed h= ow keen industrial robots are to get a new, improved set of operating instructions? Does your computer leap up and bark joyfully at you when a new generation of Windows is launched? Astrologers are just as indoctrinated by their programming; like scientists, they hug their beli= ef system as if it were a security blanket. After a decade of waiting and minimal progress in the astrological community, I had to write a book to = cut this particular Gordian knot (The Astrologer and the Paradigm Shift, 1992= ). Bill also wrote "I fancy my contribution as an attempt to establish the parameters of the foundation upon which we can endeavor to construct a workable general field theory of astrology." Likewise me for my book, an= d this contribution. End of digression.
Since the signs were perceived to be generated by the Sun, Moon & planets and much human experience results from cause & effect relations, we can understand why the original and most popular explanation was causal. Eve= n today there is residual merit in this view: various cascading mechanisms= of influence from the Sun and Moon and (marginally) planets have been discovered. See "Cycles of Heaven" (GL Playfair & S Hill, 1978), the astronomer Dr Percy Seymour's "Astrology: The Evidence of Science" (1988= ) and "The Scientific Basis of Astrology", not to mention "Supernature", "Lifetide" and various other of biologist Lyall Watson's wonderful books. However physical processes are characterised by built-in time lags, so th= is mechanistic approach is really a red herring.
The key must be found in the moment of synchronicity. Perhaps this is th= e theme of Geoffrey Cornelius in "The Moment of Astrology". Seeing it recommended a couple of times in the website archive, I went looking for = it, but it turns out to be unavailable in this country either commercially or via the national library interloan system, though it's only 5 years old! Any way I came across a nice piece of his (from which the following quote= is excerpted) at the TMA site (http://www.mountainastrologer.com/cornelius.html), his address to UAC '9= 8.
"Perhaps Carl Jung can help us. He is probably the most important single, intellectual influence for astrologers in the 20th century. Whatever you make of him, the bottom line is that if anyone has given a conception of astrology that is workable for the modern age - one we can fall back on a= nd use to justify ourselves at parties when we're arguing with hard-nosed rationalists - it is Jung. His discussion of astrology as synchronicity - "an a-causal connecting principle" is the key here. His discussion prefigures the question I have raised with you. Is astrology a divination practice (like Tarot cards or tea leaves), and, therefore, dependent on a= n act of imaginative creation rather than objective facts that are establis= hed in nature (tables and chairs; atoms and molecules)? If so, should it be considered subjective? In other words, are the understandings I get throu= gh astrology actually my own subjective creations?
Jung could have given a very pat explanation of astrology on these lines, i.e., any results occurring in astrology are due to the nonrational breakthrough of archetypes at certain moments - pure synchronicity. Howev= er, as his letter to the French astrologer Andre Barbault makes clear, althou= gh much that occurs in astrology can be classed as synchronicity, it would b= e misleading to approach all of its phenomena in this way. Our categories o= f causality, synchronicity, and symbol are only our mental categories of su= ch things; "nature is not so simple," says Jung. "The way things actually ar= e defeats any conclusive attempt to catch Nature in our boxes and categorie= s." [from Jung, Letters V2, 1975] I think you will see why I quote these vie= ws of Jung in support of my suggestion that as a realistic way of proceeding= we should allow a double conception of astrological reality, rather than try= ing to unify the whole thing and find a single perspective or "explanation" t= o cover all its phenomena. However, remember the thrust of my argument, whi= ch is that our practice of judgment from horoscopes, and the results we get when we make those judgments, constitutes divination, and involves a profound dimension of psychic creativity." ( from "Is Astrology Divinati= on and Does It Matter?", G Cornelius, 1998)
He later advocates some extensive reframing=85 "A much more radical move = is needed: to recognize that the very structure of what we do in interpreti= ng horoscopes depends not upon the influence of the heavens upon the seed, n= or upon some objective "time-quality" stamped out by the heavens, not even b= y synchronistic co-occurrence in objective time. It depends on the signific= ant presentation of the symbol to consciousness. The moment doesn't determin= e significance for us - we assign significance to the moment." An excellen= t article, in the fine English tradition of Dennis Elwell, Charles Harvey a= nd John Addey. Probably the most elegant defence of the Rorsach ink-blot approach to astrology that you'll ever get. I remain unconvinced by the thesis, even while being impressed by his advocacy.
The point at issue here is I think the same one Bill Tallman was getting = at when he asked if the astrological effect happens whether someone is in th= e event or moment to experience it, or not. I know that theory is governed= by aesthetic preference in the formative stages, so I am merely expressing m= ine when I assert that the effect is indeed inherent in any moment in which t= ime manifests on this planet's surface. I have a rationale, albeit speculati= ve: I believe there exist archetypes of nature that generate and shape natura= l forms and processes. The good news is that these are readily amenable to consensual recognition. Kepler wrote how he used them to recognise planetary harmonics and discover the equations of the planetary orbits, a= nd the Nobel Prize-winning physicists Pauli and Heisenberg both wrote about this in support of their existence.
At this point it would be a good idea for readers who are still with me t= o look up influence in the dictionary. For those without one handy, here's= a summary: [(Latin) fluere, to flow] "the power or virtue supposed to flow from planets upon men and things: a spiritual influx: power of producin= g an effect, esp. unobtrusively". Here is evidence of the profound effect = of the ancient causal doctrine on subsequent civilisation. Also worth notin= g is the spiritual component, the flow/flux factor, but most of all that wo= rd unobtrusively. Occult means hidden. So rather than imagine invisible ra= ys or forces, we can theorise a hidden factor in the moment of coincidence t= hat produces the perception of synchronicity. Something that is multi-facete= d: natural archetypes, manifesting in the flow of time.
Now perception results from interpretation via the brain/mind of signals from the eyes. To some degree we see what we expect (or want) to see, because our expectations are influenced by memory and our interpretations= by our understanding of ourselves and the world. The organic operation of t= he right brain integrates input with prior context so we can know what is happening. This process seems to include input from the personal subconscious and collective unconscious. "My thesis, then, is as follows= : In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (eve= n if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal and impersonal nature wh= ich is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms= , the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which giv= e definite form to certain psychic contents." (p60, "The Portable Jung") Jung's diffidence here about the personal unconscious, relegating it to appendage status, leaves me rather bemused.
We now need to consider any generic factors that structure our vision. F= or a start we normally reference things we see to a local horizon, so this forms a generic frame of reference. We see day follow night and other natural time cycles regularly repeating themselves in relation to both th= is and that other collective frame of reference, the zodiac. Our relations with others are constantly energised via interactions with them after the= y approach our vicinity on the plane formed in our mind by the apparently f= lat earth. Half the cosmos is hidden from us by our perception of this plane stretching to the circular horizon: we directly perceive one hemisphere above this plane. The other seems hidden by the Earth, but we learn to imagine it in our mind via a pattern reflection: as above, so below.
So, in our cognition of the moment, we integrate all awareness of our surroundings in context with our intent, expectations, memory, etc. Courtesy of Rudhyar, the horoscope has evolved to become a map, not just = of a moment, but of our generic experience of same. The sphere of the cosmo= s around us collapses into the circle of the zodiac, and the bisecting horizontal plane into a linear axis called the horizon. Anciently, astrologers divined the meaning of the event from the collapsed diagram, = but then they decided they could answer a question from the diagram of the moment it was posed. No longer an event chart, the yet-more abstracted horoscope lost its basis in reality and became fully oracular. So again = the crux: is there a real effect in the moment, which the horoscope maps or models? Or is it merely a divinatory artifice for the interpreter to project personal fantasies onto, in order to maximise the flow of money b= y telling the client what they want to hear? What's really going on? Give= n that there is no longer any prospect of societal support for planetary causation, can we provide a credible alternative?
We can, actually. Rudhyar's comprehensive description of the horoscope a= s model of the psyche needs to be refined and integrated with the tradition= al view of the horoscope as map of the event. It should be noted that munda= ne horoscopes have survived from the time of Alexander's conquests, so we mu= st transcend the myopic Jungian focus on our inner selves. The archetypes m= ust be identified in their manifestation in nature to the extent that this proves possible, in order to validate both natal and mundane interpretive traditions. Rudhyar perhaps did not emphasise this enough. Jung, to his credit, did point out the origin of the number archetypes in nature. It = has been the lack of follow-through on this profound insight by all bar one o= f his followers that has retarded the formation of a multi-disciplinary consensus. Even Rudhyar seems not to have fully grasped or utilised the comprehensive explanatory power of the number archetypes.
So what specifically do we need in the way of archetypes from nature, in order to "save the appearances" of astrology? Most obviously, the planet= ary archetypes, conceived as deriving from the orbits rather than the bodies = of the planets. The number archetypes, with descriptions of their primary effects in shaping the physical universe and human society. Then there a= re sphere and circle, line and plane, spiral and helix. It can readily be s= een that the numbers 3 and 4 structure space/time, there being 3 spatial dimensions and a time dimension. 4 cardinal directions, or 6 if you incl= ude up and down. 4 elements, or states of matter if you are a scientist. 3 gives us reproduction, the genesis of family and social relations of the child. Sex is 2, of course. The trinity also arises from duality in tim= e, when the past/future polarity is conceived in relation to now: past/present/future. It also arises in debate, when thesis and antithesi= s produce synthesis.
One cosmos, one Sun, one Earth, one head. 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 brain hemispheres, 2 thumbs. The real bonus is when we realise the number archetypes 1 & 2 are all we really need to explain the synchronicity evok= ed by the saying `as above, so below', but this returns me full circle to my first paragraph like the worm Ourobouros, so a good time to close=85
Regards to all,
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 31
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