Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #51

From: "Francis G. Kostella"
Subject: Moderation...

From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: fate/freewill

Exegesis Digest Fri, 18 Jun 1999

Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 11:15:05 -0400
From: "Francis G. Kostella"
To: exegesis
Subject: Moderation...

Hi Folks,

Just a quick note or two in response to a few recent issues concerning "acceptable" topics and behaviour. First: concerns about "ethics" were a prime reason for starting the list (after hearing so many people make public pronouncements based upon their subjective reading techniques then try to wash their hands of the consequences by claiming they were "the truth of the stars"), I think some common ethical ground is the basis for "honest astrology", but I won't delve into that now except to say that this is most certainly on-topic!

Second: A few months ago I had had to kick one individual off the list after a dozen failed attempts to get them to understand that slander is not protected speech and that I do not have to publish it for them. Threats followed this event, and I take that VERY seriously. I never edit messages, only bounce them back to the author with notes about my concerns, 99% of the time we reach some sort of mutual agreement (which is usually that 5000 words of quoted text is a waste of resources, so keep the quotes terse, please). In short, if you write a 100 word essay that contains the secret of the universe, then close with some mixture of slander and libel, your message will not appear here. The rest is fair game...

Third: My ISP was recently sold and I may need to change ISPs. This may cause some chaos with the web pages. I'm looking into getting a domain name registered before I need to move the pages, I'd appreciate anyone with experience doing this sharing their wisdom in email.

Finally: This list is archived on the web (see below) and I take pains to remove addresses and format the pages to be universally visible, if you encounter a problem send me a note at fgk thanks! If anyone wiches to read the archives, but cannot, send me a note and I'll see if it is possible to find a solution to that problem.



Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 21:16:04 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
To: Exegesis
Subject: fate/freewill

The fate/freewill interplay occurs to some degree in all our lives all the time. Some people are fatalistic, others are willfull, but most of us intuitively accept a certain amount of what happens to us as fated whilst endeavouring to pursue our chosen aspirations via the application of our will.

Culture provides considerable dimension to the fate/freewill dichotomy. For some people it is conceived as an either/or polarity, which the more learned may rationalise in terms of various philosophical traditions. Free-will has traditionally been exalted in the West, due originally to Christian theology and more lately to the scientific myth of progress. Fate looms larger in the East, and I gather in India it remains all-powerful.

It is interesting that humans have a typical predisposition to handle polarities by acceptance or rejection, a binary switch. Often one alternative is defined as right, and the other as wrong. Good and evil.

"In 1961 the Vatican weekly magazine Osservatore Della Domenica contained an article condemning astrology - "If one really believes in the horoscope, one commits a grave sin. One falls into heresy by denying free-will and one violates the first commandment." (1) One wonders why, when "it has been claimed since Ptolemy's time that `the stars incline, but do not compel'." (2)

If astrologers have followed Ptolemy in thus explicitly acknowledging that the people are influenced by the stars, but not compelled by them, they clearly recognised that the exercise of free-will could counter fate sometimes. So why the Catholic stance? More puzzling yet, when you consider the views expressed by the leading Catholic theologians.

"We must say that men generally follow their passions which are motions of their sense desires and stand under the influence of the heavenly bodies; few indeed are the number of wise men who resist these passions. Therefore astrologers can, for the most part, make true predictions, especially for mankind in general. This is less clear in specific predictions because nothing prevents a particular man from resisting his passions through the exercise of his free will. That is why the astrologers themselves assert that the wise man dominates the stars, in so far as he controls his passion." So wrote Saint Thomas Aquinas, in "Summa Theologiae, Prima Pars".

This book was republished in Rome, 1950, translated by the Jesuit Father Laurence Cassidy of St Peters College, New York. He called this saint "both the best-known and the most influential of medieval theologians." My general reading over the years creates the impression that Thomas Aquinas ranks with Saint Augustine, as the two most often quoted pillars of the church outside the Bible.

Father Laurence Cassidy also published a paper, of which I have a copy, in which he says "I, a Catholic priest, a professor of philosophy, and a student of astrology, see no incompatibility in those three roles." (3)

"For some six years, I have taught some astrology here at St. Peters College and no one has ventured to suggest that I am putting any soul in peril by doing so. Of course, most think that my mind has become enfeebled, but that is another story." (4)

St Thomas learnt astrology as a student from his teacher, Albertus Magnus, another famous medieval theologian. Albert the Great acquired that title due to reputation, and it appears as part of the historical record that he both wrote astrological texts and is one of the most distinguished and oft-quoted pillars of the Catholic church in history. The following statement of his is cited by Rupert Gleadow: "There is in man a double-spring of action, namely nature and the will; and nature for its part is ruled by the stars, while the will is free; but unless it resists it is swept along by nature and becomes mechanical." (5)

Firmicus Maternus was a minor official in the employ of one of the provincial governors of the Byzantine empire, to whom he addressed his textbook on astrology. "Julius Firmicus Maternus was a Christian astrologer, his Mathesis was composed between 334 and 337AD. He came to the conclusion that `although the heavenly bodies influence men's lives, this influence can always be resisted by a sufficient exercise of the will.'" (6)

Informed and authoritative opinion clearly seems agreed that people can prevail over fate by means of their will. Presumably this agreement can be documented as continuing through subsequent centuries, and introduced to this century by (primarily) the textbooks of Alan Leo. How then do we account for the equally venerable tradition of fatalistic astrology?

Perhaps a consideration of the reason St Augustine switched from having been a student of astrology, and apparently a practitioner to some extent, to a sceptic, may help us ascertain the answer to this conundrum. "Augustine, however, was cured of his belief in astrology by learning that a slave and a rich friend had been born at the same moment in houses not a mile apart - `whence I concluded for certain', says he, `that true predictions made by consulting the stars were not due to skill but to luck, and false ones not to lack of skill but to lack of luck'. This is a typical piece of that static thinking which regards the horoscope as a story complete in every detail, like a novel whose end is determined before you begin to read, rather than a chart of currents and winds to be used for navigation." (7)

It is certainly significant that at the tail-end of the 20th century sceptics still frequently recycle St Augustine's critique, often being unaware of the source. It appears that the presumption is that destiny is written individually in the horoscope. Same chart, same fate. Gleadow's criticism of this view is most appropriate, and in 1968 must have seemed unusually enlightened, for most astrologers then, as now, do not present horoscopes as maps for guidance.

A map of the psyche may be interpreted differently, and that's where artistry permits subjectivity and allows opinions to differ, but if astrologers don't follow Rudhyar's prescription and actually see it as that, then the terrain they are reading may as well be from a different planet. I mean to say an objective basis for the map must be understood before meaning grounded in the common reality can be accessed. The social acceptability of astrology seems to hinge on the handling of fate and the balance of the subjective/objective perspectives. Too many astrologers seem to regard the horoscope as totally divorced from real life, seemingly the modern equivalent of the magic pentagram, through which they feel confident they can escape to an imaginary world that they believe to be real, because a sufficient number of others are doing precisely the same thing. Every sheep knows there is safety in numbers.

There are famous cases of time twins that appear to emphatically invalidate the sceptical position. Some are historical, others contemporary. However sceptics have also presented cases of identical twins with quite different fates. There is clearly subject matter here worthy of a more comprehensive and in-depth assessment than has yet happened. I have read a number of books on synchronicity (to obtain a trans-Jungian perspective) and a number of others on coincidences that address the twin issue with case studies, and there may well be more that I have not encountered. I suspect that fate is indeed (unrealistically) under-rated in our culture. But I still believe free-will is so realistically a ready option for people that it can only be discounted in those societies that restrict it.

This raises the question of how, in the individual case, can someone maximise their free-will and prevail against fate? I have some answers to this, but they are not authoritative because I feel there are probably no generic answers that can actually be relied on.

I agree with what appears to be that most unlikely of phenomena, a unanimous opinion amongst astrologers, that will correlates with the Sun in the horoscope. That is to say, using the horoscope as a map of the psyche, the solar archetype represents the psychological drive of will. Traditionally this is called will-power. Following Rudhyar, I agree that this acts in the psyche like the ring-master in the circus and the conductor in the orchestra. It co-ordinates and integrates the other drives in the psyche. The consequences of a person becoming an optimal whole are such things as health, fitness, self-improvement and well-being. Things happen more appropriately for them once they learn how to be themselves and actualise their birth-potential; they get in tune and flow naturally with life's changes. Character and destiny are facilitated when the will becomes more empowered, but the power emerges naturally from within.

However when considering how people internally polarise their will against fate, I only partly agree with Rudhyar and the humanistic view. Saturn indeed defines the inner limits, just as it does the outer ones, and we need look no further than Liz Greene's excellent work on this to inform ourselves of the typical dimensions of Saturn in the psyche. How much, and how people limit their prospects and development can indeed be read from the configuration of natal Saturn. But there is more to fate than Saturn, even when we accept the validity of such traditional titles as Lord of Karma. Fate comes to us from the collective. The circumstances are precipitated by the holistic effect of the total environment (the macrocosm) on us (the microcosm).

This is another consequence of the Janus principle: the holistic relation between the part (you/me) and the whole (cosmos) has complementary Janus-faces. The face we project out to the world is our free-will, the face the world injects into our lives is fate. These two faces in the horoscope correlate with the upper and lower meridian. Fate, in the dimension of the vertical axis, comes via the MC from our connection to the cosmic holarchy and the power relations of human society. Free-will is generated from within via the IC, when we access our deepest connection to the home planet Gaia; the composite of birth-potentials provided us by the archetypes of nature.

1,6 "The Astrologers and their Creed", C McIntosh, 1969 2 "The Gemini Syndrome", Culver & Ianna, 1981 3,4 "The Believing Christian as a Dedicated Astrologer", LL Cassidy PhD, SJ, from The Astrological Review (1978) and the Astrological Association journal (1979). 5,7 "The Origin of the Zodiac", R Gleadow, 1968

Dennis Frank


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