|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #61
Exegesis Digest Fri, 23 Jul 1999
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 21:59:14 -0400
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #60
Hello Everyone, Dale, thank you so much for your gracious and tolerant response. Rar= ely have I encountered a rebuttal tendered so gently without even a smidgen o= f the denigratory, the patronizing, the sarcastic, or the disingenuous. I saw your point immediately (even as I read the interrogatory title = of your post)--indeed, it shimmered back at me when I re-read my own words, = as I mentioned in my previous address to Bill Sheeran. Not only did I do violence to your argument, but I also catheterized horary beyond all recognition. Certainly I am on a quest and you have definitively put to rest, for me, one misbegotten avenue of research. Like Andr=E9, I too will be off-list for a long while. But I will be= here nevertheless, observing, learning. Reading Exegesis is a great pleasure, driven by the passion and insatiable curiosity of its writers, filled wit= h fascinating exegeses by fearless thinkers who I am pleased to call my fellows. As a business editor, I did a lot of ghostwriting...this time, = I will assume the luxury of being merely the ghost. Warm Regards to you all, Cynthia
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 20:42:32 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: parans, Rudhyar, chaos, natural archetypes
In 4/52 Candy Hillenbrand wrote: "Thanks to Dennis btw for directing me to some further reading on holism. As an aside, I find it interesting and ironic in the extreme that Jan Smuts, the father of Holism, was also apparently one of the architects of South Africa's apartheid policy! I think I have my own definition of holism, and rather than excluding or being the opposite of reductionism, I think it may actually embrace reductionism. I think reductionism has its place, for it can help us to access the core or essential meaning of something. Similarly, and I think this relates to parts of Dennis' post, I tend to disagree with the popular idea that the right brain is holistic and the left-brain the antithesis of holism. To me, holistic thinking is a *synthesis* of right and left-brained approaches. Holistic thinking is whole-brained, not right-brained."
Hi there, Candy. Smuts would probably have agreed with you on the latter point. I'm tempted to, and strictly speaking you are probably correct. However I suspect your stance would create multi-disciplinary communication problems, inasmuch as the contemporary experts seem to have agreed that the right brain is holistic, and the popular opinion you refer to is merely the trickle-down consequence of that consensus. I'm no expert on this, merely a reasonably well-informed commentator. Apparently Roger Sperry got his '81 Nobel prize for establishing that the right brain hemisphere performs pattern-recognition. It enables you to compose the jig-saw puzzle by imagining the picture, and enables mosaics to create a picture in our mind when we see it despite all the little discontinuous bits. By performing this imagination/visualisation of a whole picture from disconnected parts, it seems to be holistic in the essence of its function.
As regards Smuts' political beliefs, despite someone else on the list agreeing with you as far as I know you are both dead wrong. I read the biography by his son, just after I read "Holism and Evolution" in 1987. My recollection is that Smuts became Prime Minister because he was the liberal leader, whereas a guy called Malan (who I think replaced Smuts as PM after his first term) led the right wing in South Africa. It was the right who introduced apartheid when they defeated Smuts in the 1948 election, to end his second term. Also, I don't recall any focus on dualism by Smuts other than the obvious part/whole relation. A philosopher totally fixated on holism would be an unlikely candidate for a political philosophy that exalted dualism, totally suppressing holism!
Incidentally, doing a Yahoo web-search on "Smuts + holism" recently I happened on your Rudhyar memorial article (http://olis.net.au/~hillen/aplace/Pages/CandyRudhyar.htm). Well done! I was rather surprised that your personal trajectory as an astrologer seems similar to my own. Since I began writing to this list I have deliberately been crediting Rudhyar where appropriate, to redress the imbalance you refer to. Much of what you said there tempts me to comment, and I hope to get around to it. It also reminded me that I have been implementing the evolutionary approach that I learnt from his books nearly two decades now, it's become so ingrained I forget I'm still doing what he advocated. That nice picture you used I recycled myself in the memorial I wrote/published in '85 when he died, in Journal of the Seasons, during one of my terms as editor. The web search also produced international tributes by 9 astrologers on this page http://www.javanet.com/~up/Rudhyar.html inbcluding Ruperti and Meyer.
In 4/53 Dale Huckeby wrote: "I'm afraid I don't find parans particularly plausible, although I can't completely dismiss the possibility. Basically, I'm reluctant to proliferate factors and techniques." I'm likewise reluctant. Rulerships always looked like bullshit, so I never used them. I still marvel that so many astrologers continue to promote Ptolemy's astral religion with the straight face of the zombie. As for exaltations and debilities, words fail me... The current fashion trend of poring over other bones from classical astrology's corpse threatens to out-do the Jungianism of the '80s for banality. Trans-neptunians are pretty hot, too, especially now that they can be called centaurs, so if several hundred asteroids hasn't satisfied your Gemini planets, a new smorgasbord of fictional trivia awaits. And one can still pretend one lives on the Sun (heliocentric), or the Earth and Sun do not structure local time (sidereal). Once could continue this line with several dozen more techniques astrologers use to escape from reality, but it would be tedious.
Dale, I have no ideological basis for taking parans seriously. I just started noting their appearance in charts, out of curiosity. Perhaps since a decade ago. Most horoscopes I assess are event charts, with an ever-present bias against unreliable data. So I tend to see lots of exactly accurate charts, particularly of personal events. The classical paran, where two planets synchronously lie on different angles, seems rare. But then again, unless it is exact I tend to discount or ignore it. My bias is to learn from undeniable precise correlations. To use the logic of the prior example I told about some months ago, one planet exact on one angle is odds of 1: 360 (1degree orb = exact), so the concurrence of two is odds of 1: 360x360. So there is 1 chance in 129,600 that an accurate event chart will contain an exact classical paran.
I would have checked out hundreds of event charts, but probably not a thousand, so the fact that I have seen several such parans seems significant. If you are a true skeptic, you will take refuge in pointing out that my claim is hearsay, which it in fact is. I don't expect you to believe me, just giving you the benefit of my experience on the off-chance that your mind is sufficiently open to accept the possible merit of my experience. But what has interested me much more is the relatively frequent occurrence of two planets concurrently exactly on placidus cusps. I have dubbed this correlation the `placidus paran'. Usually the planets and house cusps thus dramatically emphasised are obviously appropriate in archetypal terms, matching/explaining the event. I know, the dreaded symbolism again, you don't have to tell me! I just pursue this sporadic investigation like the good empirical scientist I was trained to be: note the data, eliminate sources of error, make provisional hypothesis, stay cool... I ought to point out that I never adopted any house system for ideological reasons, just used placidus because most astrologers did. I realise similar findings could be made for any other house system, were any other astrologer ever to become sufficiently disciplined/scientific to pursue the same line of investigation.
In 4/57 Bill Tallman wrote: "Well, I'm not sure what to say, Dennis. You had made what I thought were some rather radical statements about important issues, and so (I thought) I invited you to bring forth the relevant cites and quotes in support of them so we could generate a substantial dialogue. For whatever reason, I seem to have upset you. Sorry!"
Wasn't upset, Bill, just rather puzzled and a little exasperated that you had asked me to jump through so many consecutive hoops. Nonetheless, I thought I had managed the gymnastics in a fairly economic fashion. Some of those topics I had long ago filed under "obvious", but if collective progress requires going over old ground, so be it. I await the substantial dialogue!
In 4/54 Andre Donnell discussed the relevance of chaos theory, and said: "The implication is that much of what looks complicated to us, and which we had supposed to be the product of many, many different forces, may in fact be the product of simple systems of *very few* factors, linked in certain ways." I agree this is an important implication, particularly as regards how multitudinous real world effects seem to be produced from the (interaction of the?) much smaller number of archetypes operating in nature! Andre went on to make some sensible points about further implications for astrological prediction and advice. I had been forced to draw the same conclusions after the best part of two decades of empirical experience of client interactions. I have always been dismayed that so few clients seem ready, willing, and able to access understanding of their birth potential and apply the insights to improve the quality of their lives. I'm obliged to see them as mice running fast on the gaily-coloured plastic capitalist treadmill in order to stay in the same place (would that it were not so). Andre's advocacy of the chaos component as the cause of indeterminacy in our lives seems the appropriate explanation of the unpredictable, the irony being that what seems indeterminate is determinable in terms of chaos theory. Nature, clocks, and labour contracts entrain us with regular cycles, but to evolve naturally on the spiral of life we need to do what is developmentally appropriate at any time. Sometimes this means time out, and if you listen to your inner urging, you may be getting a mixture of signals from both the archetypes of chaos and those of order.
In 4/58 Bill Sheeran made a number of points which I had also made in this list previously, but I will address another that I may disagree with. A research scientist in which field, Bill? Glad you decided to participate here. When I learnt astrology it became obvious to me that horary was a divination technique, with rules seemingly unrelated to astrological theory. However it seems that some astrologers have such a tenuous grasp of astrological theory that they also apply it as though it were likewise a divination method. Cornelius seems an able advocate for these people.
Just to inform you of the extent to which I am/not aware of his views, I'll recycle the relevant section of my debut message to this list (3 months ago)...
"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 effects 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 our psyche.
Empirical observation of the signs in the heavens corresponding with events 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 collective projection of delusions, and the weight of collective verification means it is real, how to explain this correspondence?
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. Even 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 this mechanistic approach is really a red herring.
The key must be found in the moment of synchronicity. Perhaps this is the 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 '98.
"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 and 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 an act of imaginative creation rather than objective facts that are established in nature (tables and chairs; atoms and molecules)? If so, should it be considered subjective? In other words, are the understandings I get through 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. However, as his letter to the French astrologer Andre Barbault makes clear, although much that occurs in astrology can be classed as synchronicity, it would be misleading to approach all of its phenomena in this way. Our categories of causality, synchronicity, and symbol are only our mental categories of such things; "nature is not so simple," says Jung. "The way things actually are defeats any conclusive attempt to catch Nature in our boxes and categories." [from Jung, Letters V2, 1975] I think you will see why I quote these views 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 trying to unify the whole thing and find a single perspective or "explanation" to cover all its phenomena. However, remember the thrust of my argument, which 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 Divination and Does It Matter?", G Cornelius, 1998)
He later advocates some extensive reframing... "A much more radical move is needed: to recognize that the very structure of what we do in interpreting horoscopes depends not upon the influence of the heavens upon the seed, nor upon some objective "time-quality" stamped out by the heavens, not even by synchronistic co-occurrence in objective time. It depends on the significant presentation of the symbol to consciousness. The moment doesn't determine significance for us - we assign significance to the moment." An excellent article, in the fine English tradition of Dennis Elwell, Charles Harvey and 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.
I believe there exist archetypes of nature that generate and shape natural 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, and 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 to 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 producing an effect, esp. unobtrusively". Here is evidence of the profound effect of the ancient causal doctrine on subsequent civilisation. Also worth noting is the spiritual component, the flow/flux factor, but most of all that word unobtrusively. Occult means hidden. So rather than imagine invisible rays or forces, we can theorise a hidden factor in the moment of coincidence that produces the perception of synchronicity. Something that is multi-faceted: natural archetypes, manifesting in the flow of time."
Here I was fingering the mechanism, which much of the prior debate in this list has addressed, to little avail. I have no idea why participants have hitherto been averse to archetypes. Perhaps they have been misled by the failure of the Jungians to follow through adequately where Jung's pioneering forays were most apposite, and the consequent widespread misapprehension that the archetypes exist only in the collective unconscious. Jung's writings are themselves to blame to some extent: he asserted that the number archetypes exist in nature rather late in life, and most of his earlier writings on archetypes do indeed define them as generic structural components of the collective unconscious. Progress requires those interested to differentiate natural and social archetypes; given that most of the latter are tribe or culture-specific, this seems reasonable. It is true, however, that some social archetypes may approach universality in human society. The warrior, killer, assassin, the trickster, joker, fool, the sage, guru, shaman, the chief, ruler, tyrant. A promising digression which I must hasten to nip in the bud (omitting female examples).
Passing time has a variable quality. Experience has tended to confirm, in my mind, that this is so. So what, you or anyone else may think, or say. Each to their own fantasy. Well, I agree that astrologers do tend to project their personal fantasies onto passing time, thus rendering themselves unable to interpret it. Am I any different? To some degree. I have always consciously striven to anchor my personal philosophy in common experience. My residual indoctrination in physics inclines me to see time as a flowing stream with an objective reality. However, we all experience time on this planet, where natural time cycles produce qualitative variations. Our common experience of the changing qualities of passing time thus includes a relatively objective component that derives directly from nature.
So far, so good, but things get tricky when time becomes local. Generic experience of time can be identified with respect to common frames of reference, but then we encounter the hemispheric differentiation. The horoscope is an archaic diagram of an event, depicting local space/time, with a built-in northern hemispheric orientation. Interpretation usually proceeds on the basis of Ptolemy's hemispheric bias (still). Some of us have managed to transcend this, to evolve a contemporary language of interpretation. Some such endeavours are afflicted by idiosyncrasy, and I believe commonality can only be achieved be deriving interpretive elements of the astrological language from our generic experience of nature, and in particular from those archetypes of nature that structure natural forms.
So hopefully this lengthy explanation demonstrates that I am only partially informed about Cornelius' astrophilosophy, and have good reason to believe things happen when they do due to archetypal qualities of passing time, which the Cornelius view seems to either deny or remain ignorant of. If I am not being fair to him, or if there is a substantial rationale in his book that his piece excerpted above does not convey, I'd be most interested and appreciative were you to reproduce it in this forum.
In 4/54 Cynthia wrote: "I do believe that Western culture has also been in transition, however, probably since Pluto was in Virgo..." I agree, and am inclined to suspect that Pluto functions more powerfully in mutable. That's the only reason I can think of to explain the apparent failure of astrologers to note the effects of the current transit of Sagittarius (perhaps their general inadequacy is a better one).
""Meta-" anything simply means above and beyond (and I don't know who coined "meta-paradigm" but in truth, one can't go beyond a paradigm!)." I agree. But perhaps what was intended was a larger whole of which the smaller is subset. Example: horary is the paradigm of astrodiviners, astrology its meta-paradigm.
"Fate and free will, like the judeo-christian God, are meta-subjective because they are not available to the senses, and are forged somewhere in consciousness, collective consciousness in effect, and so are beyond the "subjective". That's all meta-subjective means, and I apologize for my language again, though I must tell you, I am very happy to explain anything I have been unclear about. (Just think of me as linguistically challenged--my husband certainly does! His response to almost everything I utter is: "ditto"! < grin > ) Please feel free to ask me anything as I will make free with you and the other listers regarding jargon, etc. I'm doing the best I can, and considering that I don't know where I'm going with a semiosis of Astrology, that's quite an effort. I internalized semiotics a long time ago and it's difficult to communicate it to others."
Firstly, I'm tempted to agree with your initial substantive point, although there seems to be a considerable body of opinion that locates fate, and even free-will, in the subconscious. Perhaps they emerge from there into consciousness, more in some people than others, and thus into culture (collective consciousness).
Secondly, the linguistic challenge you refer to does impact here. I recall I and at least one other here requested elucidation of some terms you used in describing your perspective on astrology, but we didn't get any. Jargon does deter communication. It is a frustrating experience to find something interesting in discussion, but then be unable to get an explanation of it. I sympathise with you on your last point above. I know what it is like to have internalised a complex subject, and having to struggle with little success in conveying my personal understanding in terms that enable others to comprehend its relevance and value. My Chambers 20th Century dictionary didn't have semiosis, and for semiotic it referred only to symptoms, leaving me little the wiser. Could you please give us your definition of semiosis, and perhaps essay an explanation of your hopes for a "semiosis of Astrology"?
happy retro Mercury to all,
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 61
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