|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #62
Exegesis Digest Mon, 26 Jul 1999
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 20:21:19 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #60 , #61
Dale responded to Cynthia in a discussion about Horary and the relevance of the temporal aspect of astrology. I've already dropped a couple of pennies in here, and can only expand on what I've said before. However...
> >>Horary begins, after all, at the moment a felt need to know
> >>something, to have a questioned answered, becomes purposeful such
> >>that it fulfills part of the program of the organism, and further,
> >>it is timed according to specific and recognized planetary "pulls",
> >>planetary "pulls", none of which is programmatic, since each
> >>question is unique to the moment and the individual . . .
Cynthia clearly identifies one part of the problem of Horary: for what, exactly, is the horoscope erected? She asserts that it begins "at the moment a felt need to know something, to have a question answered..."; there has been an ongoing controversy about the timing of the question, and there are several schools of thought in this regard. Some Horarists regard the time they themselves receive the question and have understood it as the time for which the horoscope is erected. Some who take their questions only in a written form require that the date and time of writing be recorded, and they use this data to erect the horoscope. There are probably other methodologies but they don't vary much from this, I expect.
Some theories concerning Horary would have the first occurance of the question as the relevant time, and as far as I know this remains theoretical; establishing data for that first occurance would seem to be rather problematic. I've heard a variation on that theory that proposed that the same sort of relationship exists between the inception of a question and it's "birth" at the time of putting to the Horarist, that exists between the conception and birth of an individual; presumably there is some sort of technique for establishing the inception of the question from this point of view.
In addition, there are those who would have it that an Horary is only relevant when viewed in the context of the Natal horoscope. It seems to me I've heard the sound of traditional Horarists gnashing teeth and exhibiting other behavior of disapproval when considering this view < grin > . And there are probably some number of other somewhat bizarre departures from traditional Horary that I've not been aware.
So Cynthia's discomfort with her Horary practice from a philosophical point of view is clearly warranted, especially when the Genethliacalists rather routinely discount Horary (sometimes rather rudely dismiss it out of hand, actually...). As far as I know, there is no such tendency amongst Horarists regarding their counterparts. In any case, Cynthia's intellectual integrity, here giving rise to this question, does us all service; she has practiced both without engaging in prejudgment and so I look forward to being witness to her process in this matter.
Some observations: Given Cynthia's obvious intellectual passion and integrity, I cannot imagine that either of those practices were less than successful. If so, it would seem reasonable to ask her to expand on some of the details of her practices, such that may allow some insight into how she was able to do so. In addition, some insight into how she came to a philosophical problem here may also be available.
This probably isn't fair, Cynthia, but few of us actively practice both forms, and you have (in addition to being articulate and insightful, etc., etc. < grin > ), so I'd like to ask you if you would expand some on this matter *from your perspective as it was up to the point of your sabbatical*.
I'm specifically asking for that perspective because otherwise we risk engaging in speculation and commentary where original data should being acquired. Does this make sense?
Andre and others have declared that what we really lack in all this is solid data of pretty much any sort! Almost all that goes on here is speculation, which is of course a great deal better than what goes on most anywhere else in cyberspace. But if we could actually get a clean report of a personal experience, where commentary is clearly delineated from the data, this would be of real solid value! Anyway, it makes sense to me < grin >
> >I think you and other thoughtful, intelligent astrologers are
> >bothered by something, can't quite put your finger on it, and so
> >far haven't been able to get outside the box that is the cause,
> >in my opinion, of what's bothering you. But anyone who's honestly
> >looking for answers is not silly or laughable, whether or not I
> >agree with you or you with me at the moment.
I'd go even further and say that, in addition to declaring that the only stupid question is the one that isn't (wasn't) asked, anyone who does so in the presence of peers does an inestimable service to us all.
This is a good thread, thanks to Dale and Cynthia, and it would be really nice if someone out there in lurker-land would step forward and join in!!!
And then Andre said:
> >I'm glad you made this response Bill. I think I agree with "people are
> >unique combinations [rather than] types", but there is a lot more to
> >this issue than meets the eye. True, the ~basis~ of (one form of)
> >astrology is simply 12 signs, 12 houses, 10 planets, and a collection of
> >aspects - let's be really simple here and say just the five majors.
> >In that case, perfect understanding of these 39 basic elements
> >guarantees perfect understanding of every combination? Yes? No?
> >Moreover, it should be a ~simple~ task to identify which of these
> >elements are uppermost in any given person, without needing to see the
> >I think not - to both propositions!
A while back, in one of your "monster posts" < grin > , you cited a few books that would be good to read about the post-reductionist scientific paradigm. This would be "simple results from simple rules", one supposes, and going in both directions!
> >A piano produces only 12 notes, yet the ~combinations~ (with only ten
> >fingers) are essentially infinite. The same is true of the so-called
> >"productive" property of human language: a finite lexicon or vocabulary,
> >and a few rules, but a capacity to produce an infinite range of
> >utterances. Indeed, humans are said to constantly produce "novel" (never
> >before produced) sentences.
The example here suggests that the rules are simple, even when the results are complex. In fact, the rules that yield these complex results are not at all simple. It is our decision to make them so that creates this apparency. To the extent we fail to recognize this, we delude ourselves and cause ourselves to thrash helplessly in the illusion we have created. A question might be: to what extent are we actually capable of identifying even the most important rules involved here, much less those we have postulated
> >The "combinations" we produce in language tend to be strikingly
> >different. Thus, different speakers, writers, composers, artists, and
> >thinkers are generally able to express themselves freely without being
> >unduly concerned that they will unwittingly duplicate (plagiarise)
> >someone else. Indeed, that would seem to be a fairly hard task, without
> >actually ~copying~ that other person's work fairly closely.
> >To complete the analogy, the simplicity of the astrological framework is
> >deceptive: the expressive properties are essentially infinite, and
> >"understanding" (or knowing, or having experience of, whatever you like)
> >the basics no more gives us any notion of what this or that person "is"
> >than "understanding" the 12 notes of the piano allows us to anticipate,
> >analyse, or "understand" Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier' sonata.
> >In fact, (modern?) astrologers have formalised the notion that the
> >astrological framework has this infinite property in the principle of
> >~synthesis~ (or holism). This is an important assumption inherent in the
> >formula I presented, but didn't mention at that point.
Good point. At the risk of diverging from this thread, I would observe that holism is now regarded as a complete and self-contained philosophy of practice. Those who espouse this repudiate the relevance of any analogy such as you have given, and so in this regard, "holism" is no longer a formalization of a notion based such as you have described it. Yet another example of exclusivity of viewpoint at work, and one that makes any sort of agreement in principle difficult if not impossible.
> >Here's a statement of that principle as ~I~ see it just to put us on
> >(somewhat) common ground: "No configuration in the chart operates in
> >isolation, but rather interacts with every other configuration present
> >in the same chart. This means each factor modifies every other factor,
> >and is modified in turn. Moreover, the ~overall~ result is unique." To
> >borrow a bit of physics terminology, there can be "strong" and weak
> >versions of the principle. Let's call the one I just stated 'strong
> >synthesis'. A 'weak synthesis' version might end "....modifies every
> >other factor ~slightly~ and is modified ~slightly~ in turn. The overall
> >result is not unique: some apparently different charts may produce a
> >similar interpretation".
> >So ~if~ we accept strong synthesis, it seems more likely our ideas or
> >beliefs about the meanings of Aries, Sun, Sextile etc. [which we
> >normally discuss as isolated entities] are mostly speculative,
> >imaginative, or theoretical; approximations. Like scientific knowledge,
> >they are ~tentative~.
> >Countering this thesis, Marc Edmund Jones (somewhere in his weighty
> >texts) asserted quite the opposite: each configuration ~does~ stand
> >alone. Two people both with Mars Sextile Venus are ~exactly the same~ in
> >that respect, even though they may differ in other ways (Aries/Gemini
> >versus Taurus/Gemini for example).
> >This being so, (and let's consider 'weak synthesis' as the same case for
> >now), then really all we need to know are the 120 Planet/Sign
> >combinations, the 120 Planet/House combinations, and the 45
> >Planet/Planet combinations (for aspects). That's not nearly so bad as
> >about 10^18 different types of person! It also implies clients given
> >computerised charts are getting value for money. Hmm...
This is a very interesting exposition of one of the ongoing debates in the practice of astrology. I appreciate the clarity with which it expresses the processes involved.
In fact, what we have here is a deliberate dual that Andre has set up to look at the extent to which traditional astrology (planets, signs, houses, etc.) generates an individual and organic whole, and a means to see how it can meaningfully do so. Having said this, let me restate this slightly: he has set up a means to see just how, and to what extent, the construct of astrology, and our interpretation of it, is relevant to reality. The point is this: if what we are doing is not of value to our lives (our own and our client's), then we should ask why we are doing it.
The historical tradition of astrology clearly indicates its continually reaffirmed value. What we have to ask is how and to what extent we have contributed to or detracted from that value. As we understand it, the tradition that was presented to us from last century affirmed the weak synthesis. As a result of cultural and social pressures, astrology (apparently) has been forced onto the basis of the strong synthesis.
The short version, and the one Andre expresses, is this: apparently we are to make a choice between these two views. Apparently we are to consider them mutually exclusive. My question: is this necessary, or even relevant?
I suspect that Andre has rather neatly shown us how we have created a box with carefully parallel sides and orthogonal corners, and now we believe we live inside that box and that nothing exists outside the box we've created. This is an illusion, I submit. What we need here is Cynthia's rebus!!!
In fact, there are fairly well documented matters of value in both of these views. The organic whole arising from the astrological construct most closely represents the organic whole for whom (which) the horoscope was erected, and a judicious strategy for elucidating this (to the client) has obvious and powerful merit. On the other hand, I have seen cookbook interpretations yield some powerful insights when they were comprised of good solid material (not Hollywood glitz, etc), and I've seen the native experience insights not otherwise available. Both the strong and weak synthesis are matters of assumption, and used wisely, they can serve as foundations for powerful practices.
All this was relevant to Andre's continuing post.
> >Bill, and others concerned at my use of the term "type" [4, 54], I hope
> >it is now clearer what I meant by it. If it sounded like the tidy
> >personality typologies that ~classify~ people into "introverts",
> >"aggressives" etc (as they are usually understood!) then it was a bad
> >term to use. My point was rather the opposite: 10^18 variations rather
> >strongly suggests we ~can't~ "classify" people. It suggests that TA in
> >combination with strong synthesis agrees with the interpretivist notion
> >of truth; and raises strong questions about the nature and status of
> >astrological knowledge: most definitely "a" knowledge. Indeed, whereas
> >TA is usually understood to produce a linear and Newtonian picture of
> >it's subject (human being, problem, nation etc.), in combination with
> >strong synthesis it produces quite the opposite. (I also indicate, in
> >the last part of this post, how other constructs of TA such as the synastry
> >chart produce a form of context).
I understand your conclusion here, Andre, but I'd like to point out that these are solely theoretical positions. In practice, the client wants (needs?) to know stuff and the way that happens is in terms of (hopefully) tidy bites that can be reasonably digested. Over the course of a session, the astrologer hopes to build up a clearer image on the basis of these bites. The bites assume the notion of the weak synthesis (presumably), in that they are assumed to have significance in their own right. The hoped for image assumes the notion of the strong synthesis in that none of these bites have intrinsic value, but only in terms of their connection (relevance?) to the whole.
In Genethliacal, it is the generation of value for the native (client) that is the purpose of the practice, and the process must be expected to mirror the process by which people gain in understanding, I suggest. Thus, the debate over traditional versus holistic astrology becomes more heat than light when the "rubber meets the road" and the session begins. The astrologer had better have a command of both of these views, or a) the client isn't going to get anything digestable in the form that the client can handle, and b) there will very likely be no real gain in understanding, except as generated by the client without the guidance of the astrologer.
> >It's worth noting too that - although the basis is not "non-linear"
> >(chaotic) - the resulting structure has certain chaos-like properties in
> >terms of the trajectories actually produced. Well, actually this is
> >because of the way the planets move - but essentially very similar
> >charts will be separated by very large periods of time, i.e. they will
> >never co-exist.
Was it you or Dale who was talking about similar charts existing in different historical periods? Did I remember something about this being a defining element in the difference in these periods. Aha, I remember his reference in this digest!
> >one I looked for and found, via an intensive reading program following
> >a serendipitous insight, a Uranus/Neptune rhythm running through
> >history, a set of cultural efflorescences recurring with metronomic
> >regularity at 171-year intervals. I'll be happy to email copies of
> >the posts detailing my findings to anyone who hasn't seen them and
> >would like to. Just email me.)
Isn't necessarily relevant to this thread, but it's worth repeating, I think.
> >Incidentally either form of TA raises searching questions about our
> >capacity to ~practice~ astrology, if by "practice" we mean that we
> >should (or can) "understand" our client. Even the simpler form demands
> >of us that we have or develop highly subtle and sophisticated pictures
> >of human variability and possibility. Instead, social-cognitive and
> >cognitive psychology suggest we view the world in terms of (mostly)
> >self- and other- 'schemata' which do not even begin to approach the sort
> >of variability or complexity required in order to "understand" another
> >person. In the simplest case, we may classify life and people in terms
> >of just one or two dualities such as "good/bad".
And this is what I've gone to some pains to address already. As far as understanding our client is concerned, we must accept that we cannot do so entirely, nor should we. What we have is a detailed map that we can use to point out aspects of the client (as territory) that the client wishes clarified. We can generate a clear mirror that is not distorted by the expectations of others, and that (to some extent) shows the context of the cultural and social effects on the client. Whether we do so depends, I suspect, on the extent to which we understand the nature and structure of the astrological construct (the tradition of astrology, sort of...).
One of the things that astrology should teach us is the value of the sort of objectivity expressed by the eastern philosophies: that all things have an intrinsic nature, whether we perceive this or not; to the extent we do not, we are less than successful in our interaction therewith. For example, the philosophy expressed in the I Ching makes this very clear: the simple significance of the First Hexagram (The Heavens) is that one should seek to understand all things in their own terms. The Judgement (Wilhelm/Baynes): "Sublime success, perseverence furthers." Because all things arise from the unmanifest, all things are sublime. Because they manifest, they are successful. Perseverance (to understand this) furthers, and implicit in this is the exhortation that it is *the only thing that furthers!!* This is the sort of objectivity to which I refer.
In the effort to attain this objectivity, we come to understand somewhat of the nature of our own perceptions and the reasons for their existence, and we come to understand that they are *our* perceptions which exist for *our* purposes. In corollary, we come to understand that they are *not* relevant to the client, nor should they be. What we do come to understand is that the client has his or her own perceptions, and that we can come to understand them in their own terms through the use of astrology.... which is why we practice on ourselves first < grin > , and then on friends who give us a lot of slack... < blush.. > , before setting up shop as a pro. Or so I think.
> >I should perhaps also state that my assertion of 10^18 variations is
> >partly to make explicit (some) implications of our frameworks. Although
> >I only picked on one (TA), similar arguments might apply to others. As
> >part of clarifying our "theories" of astrology, we needs be aware of the
> >implications of our frameworks, principles and assumptions.
This way we can keep the opinions of others, especially mine < grin > , separate from the data and methodology itself.
> >Thus, I believe it is important to answer questions such as the status
> >of the synthesis principle, and of other principles. If the 10^18
> >variations seems absurd, one might instantly thrust strong synthesis
> >aside. Not so fast! If we do so to keep astrology aligned with current
> >paradigmatic assumptions (such as the assumption of commonality implicit
> >in many forms of psychology, in many types of social control, and so
> >on), this is something we have to think very, very hard about!
I've dumped a few dollars in "two cents worth" into the pot already.
> >We need to ask because astrology ~may~ have a valid perspective to
> >offer that differs from other fields. So ~do~ we believe people are
> >primarily similar, or fundamentally different? And whatever our
> >answers, why?
Is this question an extension of those that devolve from the weak/strong synthesis argument?
Again, this useful formalization of these apparently divergent views is only relevant as it speaks to the reality of astrological practice in the real world. What it does is demonstrate the nature of the divergence and how they remain connected as well.
Whether one sees similarity or difference is pretty much of a piece as the glass of water: half full or half empty? It depends on one's point of view, and that probably depends on one's need for looking at this in the first place. If we are seeking connections, we look for similarites and if we're seeking definitions of distinctness, we look for the differences. What happens here is that we can see the implications of whichever we choose from the standpoint of the astrological construct.
Now the question is, which produces which, and why? Does the strong synthesis make determination of difference easier, or similarity easier; and what about the weak synthesis? And why?
> >The notion of commonality, for example, has a definite history and
> >fulfills definite agendas: in past (for a few of us) terms anchored in
> >the necessity to survive, in modern terms anchored in the efficient
> >dispersal of insufficient resources (e.g., educating, healing). The
> >very ~mechanism~ of language itself requires that, in a sense,
> >commonality be assumed and enforced. However none of this, neither the
> >possibility nor the historical actuality of it, necessarily entails that
> >there is commonality "within" the person (or, if that seems too extreme
> >a claim, within ~parts~ of the person, or the person seen in certain
> >OTOH, if one's predilection is for 'radical individualism', one must be
> >wary of swallowing something like TA and strong-synthesis merely because
> >they appear compatible. The very notion of individualism imposes strong
> >requirements that are only ~beginning~ to be addressed (qualitative
> >research paradigms, post-modernist thinking and so on); and one might
> >well be suspicious of a framework as conceptually tidy as TA!
Andre expressed his assumptions here, presumably following his line of argument (which is clear and accessible). Is there another way of looking at this? If so, how? What insights are there in that regard?
> >*** Foreground/Background ***
> >Bill, I hadn't really thought of the distinction I was making here [4,
> >54] in holographic terms. I simply meant that in human observation
> >those things that stand out (foreground) and so preoccupy our attention
> >as astrologers (indeed, as persons) do not necessarily represent the
> >whole adequately. Effectively, and (according to schemata ideas), we
> >~all~ tend to be reductionists, as we tend to extract those features of
> >reality singled out by our particular mental scheme, composited of
> >beliefs, attitudes, experiences [gadzooks, perhaps even planetary
> >configurations!]. As such, we confirm our own expectations.
Yep. Did I say this last time? We all practice reductionism when we "take it one step at a time.." Concerning confirming our own expectations, I'd suggest we insert "tend to" in the appropriate place.
(he waxes verbose again < argh > ) One of the common practices I would caution about here is that of making statements that define rather than describe. I know that Andre didn't intend to imply a blanket statement here, but it strikes me that we all (me most of all?) do this and in doing so, entrap ourselves in assumptions that should have been propositions for inspection rather than axioms with which to construct foundations.
> >Rather than asserting something profound about the nature of
> >astrological influence, I merely meant that any such influence is more
> >likely to operate in terms of the "whole" (which I characterised as
> >"background") rather than just the dramatic "events" that we tend to
> >"see". To attempt to express this in Dale's terms (and risk doing so
> >badly), Saturn Transit Mars may ~reliably~ produce a state of unrest in
> >which probably rather ~fundamental~ issues of self-efficacy come to the
> >fore in consciousness. But if we eshew this (admittedly deeper and
> >therefore harder to describe) level of description in favour of
> >~particular~ events, we place ourselves firmly in probability territory
> >(and although I advocate statistical mechanics in some areas, this is
> >not one!) and begin to admit purely spurious findings into our
> >astrological 'knowledge'. I've no doubt people do occasionally fall off
> >ladders during Mars transits, but I fancy we do so on other (non-Mars)
> >occasions too.
Well stated! In my terms (already here expressed) the map is not the territory, and out of context of adjacent plats, it is constrained in its worth. It does not provide social context (map of plats), and by itself it does not show development (overlays). The territory is affected by all these and more, and the territory experiences reality determined by matters beyond the purview of the map.
Andre, I have obviously added another dimension to your material here, and it was intended solely to provide context. I suspect you will easily determine which of those books I just finished reading....LOL!!!!
And then Andre talks to Candy and then to Bill Sheeran, and I sit silently reading and learning. And whilst doing so, #61 arrived.
> >Hello Everyone,
> >Dale, thank you so much for your gracious and tolerant response. Rarely
> >have I encountered a rebuttal tendered so gently without even a smidgen of
> >the denigratory, the patronizing, the sarcastic, or the disingenuous.
Dale is a gentleman. So is Andre. Some of the others of us are sometimes not, I regret to say.
> >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.
Yet you have working knowledge of Horary, Cynthia! And your statements about Horary were substantive, as I took occasion to note. You are the only person I know who is asking these questions. Please continue!!!
> >Like Andre, 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 with
> >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,
We shall miss you, Cynthia. Please return as soon as you can!
And then Dennis exchanged dialogue with everyone, and awaits a substantial one with me. Haven't got one at hand at the moment, Dennis, but there are a couple of things that grab my attention:
You have several times indicated that your practice of astrology is comprised of tools that you've chosen on the basis of whether they "felt right", or some such. I must tell you that this sort of methodology for a scientist would be appalling, and I wonder why you have chosen to do this. You've expressed a rather strong and seemingly categorical rejection of science itself, so I suppose this might be a reason. I wonder if you could explain how you are able to evaluate and judge the worth of a technique on the basis of how it "feels".
One of the things we are doing here is to try to discover something of the nature of astrology, at least beyond what is now generally accepted as appropriate. So I would suggest that any particular methodology of practice is relevant here, especially when it is used by a strong contributor to this list. We have an audience (vidience?) in cyberspace of a couple hundred people and I expect at least some significant number of them read the digests for content; and these discussions are being archived as well. Hopefully they will contribute to the knowledge base of astrology itself, eventually. So what we say here has potential value, and I wonder if you would contribute in this regard.
> >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
Regarding well accepted understanding of some of the material you've cited, I would suggest that it may be understood but not well accepted by any means. So mere citations of the material or simple arguments tacitly based on said material misses the mark, I think. To some significant extent, part of the process going on here is a review and critique of a lot of this material, because it is just this material that serves as the axiomatic basis for a lot of views of the astrological construct. I submit that we need to closely examine a lot of this stuff, and you will notice that I've rejected some amount that lacks demonstrable internal integrity (in my view).
One of the more useful methodologies in this process is the exercise of teaching this stuff in a format where any lack of understanding is immediately noted by some (hopefully appropriate) question. The reason for this is that it can all too soon become a matter of internalization, *including assumptions*, on the part of the person of competency. It is those internalized assumptions that we need to air out here, because they are the ones that keep getting reused even when they are no longer valid (or were never valid in the first place). Also, teaching stuff is the best way of determining one's level of understanding thereof.
Now, regarding assumptions: lest it be thought that I use the term pejoratively, let me hasten to point out that we cannot and will not make any progress without their use. They form the basis of the development of theoretical material, and in the process of testing, those assumptions are validated or put into question. Most of us know about his from science literacy of some sort. In other areas of knowledge, science is not an acceptable methodology, and so assumptions can go untested indefinitely. I strongly claim that it is not appropriate here to leave them untested, because I think that's been one of the basic problems astrology has had to suffer all along.
So, Dennis, if you have substantial contributions to make, present it like you were teaching it, and prepare to be questioned.
I know this is a labor intensive business here... let me tell ya how well I know! < grin > But I think it's worth it.
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 1999 22:27:45 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: reflections on Exegesis V4 #60
Andre Donnell wrote: "BTW Dennis, my physics is pretty rusty too, but I couldn't see any problem in your final assertion. Indeed, interesting." I went fishing, but only this nibble from Andre thus far. Thanks Andre, even that is helpful. Just in case we have new readers, or other contributors did not appreciate the vast potential significance of my assertion first time round, here are the relevant 3 paragraphs recycled from Ex 4/59...
"So the fact that 12 entire lunations compose the year must be a consequence of entrainment of the lunar orbit by the Sun. We know the Moon is phase-locked because we never see the `dark' side. Resonance has therefore produced both this eternal orientation and the number of months in the year, both consequences of the same physical process. Social consequences of this resonance are the calendar, the zodiac, and the numbers on the face of your watch. To extend the point a little further, what these three sociotemporal frames of reference have in common are twelve equal subdivisions.
Astrologers also have three frames of reference with a common structure of twelve equal subdivisions: the signs, houses, and aspects. Apparently all these frames of reference derive originally from the solunar relationship cycle, the 12 lunations per year resulting from gravitational entrainment of Luna by Sol and Gaia. Since organic development is timed by this temporal framework, it must be a pretty fundamental qualitative component of the local cosmos and nature. As such, it transcends physics, which is a scheme designed to explain space/time as a whole and to ignore any unique qualities of any locality. Physics cannot account for any unique features of the local cosmos.
My understanding of physics is pretty antiquated now, so I invite anyone to prove my memory faulty. If the number of lunations per year can be calculated from Newton's laws, or other equations, using the masses of the three heavenly bodies concerned, then the above declaration is either wrong or an overstatement of the case. If someone on this list can elucidate the origin of the number of lunations per year, I'd welcome being corrected on the matter."
Actually, I must confess that to some degree there was a trick question here. It is due to the well-known long-standing truism in physics that `the 3-body problem has no solution'! In other words, you not only cannot discover the Moon's orbital relation to the Earth and Sun from physics and maths in practice, you cannot do it in theory either. Again, if I am misinterpreting the reality of the situation, due to faulty memory or inadequate understanding, I would welcome correction or elucidation by anyone better informed. [Why did I invite others to prove me wrong if that seems to be impossible? Well, it may not be. I'm just as sceptical of `truisms' in science as in astrology.]
My intuitive provisional conclusion in 1985, therefore, was that the number 12 had to be accorded status as an archetype of nature. Why? Because it was evident that it played a fundamental part in structuring the local cosmos. Resonance-induced gravitational entrainment of the phase-locked Moon by the Earth and Sun gives us 12 lunations per year. It also gives us a residual fraction, which Bill Tallman queries the significance of. I suppose my take on this, Bill, is that precision in nature is frequently relative. Philosophically, I would equate this to the remainder term that is tacked on to a mathematical series, progression or equation, to sum the residual components to infinity. It could be interpreted as `imperfection', or `relation of the part to the cosmos'. By the latter expression, I mean the 12 lunations come from the relation of Luna to Gaia & Sol (the local 3-body system) and the residual part of the 13th lunation is due to the cumulative effect of the rest of the solar system on that 3-body system.
Bill wrote: "I've been asking for some sort of coherent view of the astrological mechanism that makes some sense. Dennis has given a good effort here, with lots of supporting material, and it seems to me to be an acceptable place to start, just as he presented it. It will no doubt be picked to shreds, but what will be gained in the exercise will hopefully lead us closer to seeing how to develop a theory of astrology. I will assert that, thanks to Dennis, we can now begin that process. Good job, sir!"
Thanks, Bill, glad that this particular piece of mine seems to verge on what you were looking for. You have managed to surprise me again, because I had no idea that that might be the case, and indeed I see resonance and entrainment as rather peripheral to the astrological mechanism. My personal perception of the mechanism is as I outlined in my debut here, and several follow-up pieces: the number archetypes, particularly 1 & 2 which structure both the holarchy of nature and synchronicity, thus explaining `as above, so below'. I am aware that this explanation is insufficient for you. Indeed, rather embarrassed that my piece on resonance/entrainment was too boring, I felt obliged to jazz it up with examples of organisms performing accordingly. That superficial mechanistic stuff is very Dragon's tail for me (rising, habitual, easy, tedious) - with an Aries Moon exactly conjunct the Dragon's head I need to be on the frontier. That's why I wrote the following in my debut piece back in April...
"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. "
The horoscope depicts the synchronicity. It is not the diagram of a time-lag, it is the diagram of an event (or moment at a particular place. That is why synchronicity is the key signpost to the astrological mechanism. That is the significance of the Gauqelin findings, and why I recycled and emphasised Prof. Peter Roberts' point that the correlations were proven for apparent planetary positions, not real ones. All those resonances and entrainments are effects of the mechanism. They are no more than consequences. They are secondary or tertiary or whatever, whereas we need to retain focus on what is primary in order to identify the mechanism. What is primary is the holomovement, and those operators within it that emerge from the implicate order (realm of potential) and give shape to natural forms and time to natural processes. These operators I call the archetypes of nature. In this category fall the circle, spiral, helix, and at least the first four numbers if not the first twelve, and any others similar that anyone can identify as formative and manifesting frequently in nature. The social utility of this approach lies in its evident multi-disciplinary acceptability. I believe Rudhyar intuited all this, without quite spelling it out this explicitly.
However, tho I am pretty staunch about my personal astrophilosophy, I defer to the current group in this list context. This means I realise the extent to which you or anyone agrees with me is not the point; the point is the extent of any spontaneous convergence of views that may emerge from the discussion. The group mind is an entity with an evolutionary trajectory of its own, and the most I can really expect is to help catalyse the evolution.
Which reminds me. I was thinking when I started writing that, as our moderator Francis once suggested here, morphogenetic fields seem likely contenders for part of the mechanism. At least, I advocated something similar in my book 7 years ago, but seem to have been unable to advance this connection further since. However, it does appear to me that morphogenetic fields are related to group minds, if not identical with them, and, as Sheldrake pointed out in "The Presence of the Past", they are a good explanation as functional links between the implicate and explicate. I think Bohm said as much before he died, perhaps I can hunt down the quote some time. The 2-way info transmission facility is what matched his scheme. So if informational patterns reside in the ocean of potential (implicate order), and if they are modified by real-world occurrences, and also feed back into real life, all we need do is postulate that any organism and any collective has its archetypal nature embedded in the implicate order, and interacts with it. The interaction is essentially informational, but energy and matter are both channelled into processes and redirected in consequence of the feedback interaction. This is the occult side of nature. The m-fields are the mechanism of the feedback process. I conducted a web search for `holomovement' and was pleasantly surprised that the multidisciplinary appeal of this hypothesis is still spreading.
Bill wrote: "The figure for the mean lunar day is, as Dennis said, about 24 hours and 50 minutes; he asserted that the human circadian cycle is approximately of the same length. What is your source, Dennis?" Sorry, can't recall because it was years ago, and I didn't intuit its relevance to my endeavours, just noted it mentally as a curiosity. I suspect it was in "Supernature", or another of biologist Lyall Watson's books that report a massive amount of semi-magical phenomena in nature. However I recall when noting it feeling fairly sure that I had read the same info somewhere else years earlier, because it did not come as a surprise. You could try a web search for "circadian", or check Dewey's "Cycles". Encyclopaedia Brittannica would be sure to have it, you can search it online for a fee, or get the CD ROM, or travel to the local library for the hard copy. The reason I noted the fact mentally was the discrepancy between our circadian rhythm and the diurnal cycle - it was only recently when I read the quoted Seymour reference that the penny dropped.
Bill wrote: "The idea I had was that a system whose resonant frequency is within the bandwidth of two larger systems whose frequencies are not within each other's bandwidth will receive energy from both and thus be a local negative-entropy phenomenon. Is this relevant?" I guess the idea is valid presuming a physical transmission mechanism is present to convey the energy from the two larger to the third system. "In either case, what is the bandwidth of the human circadian cycle? Does anyone know? Could it also be variable from individual to individual. Could it (or it's range if it is variable) in fact include both the lunar and solar day? From the observation that we take several days to really recover from jet lag, it would seem the bandwidth would be fairly wide. Does this make sense? Do any of these questions make sense?" They are certainly worthy questions, and I recommend a web search to bookmark likely sites and investigate later. I tend to download lengthy articles then read them offline. I expect you will find that the bandwidth does include both lunar and solar days.
Bill wrote: "Now, we are told that between order and chaos lies complexity, and as some would have it, the rules there are best viewed as simplexity and complicity." No idea what this means, but it sure sounds good! And "the modern practice has been to pick up what "feels right" and leave as detritus what doesn't "seem right". Bah!!!! How does anyone know what does or doesn't work until they try it out??" Happy to own up here to a rare instance of me falling into the `typical astrologer' category. Whilst I have some sympathy with Bill's critique of this common habit, perhaps I will use as my counsel for the defence the Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. I will cite his oft-recycled assertion that, to do (well in) physics, "ya gotta have taste".
I suspect I need to assay some interpretation of this. I think it is an elegant version of the old handyman's dictum that, if you want to get the job done right, you use the right tools. Very Virgo. There's more to it than that though. Aesthetic judgement drives decision-making as a general rule, it seems. Often people cannot rationalise why they feel they need to do something, and when they articulate it, it sounds like they are acting from an inner urging. People will only try something if they get that inner inclination to do so; it must seem both appropriate and promising. I speak as someone who spent a large part of my teenage years trying to do things that were deemed right and necessary by society, ignoring the inner voice that kept saying "Wrong! Wrong!"
So I think Feynman was saying that the smart physicist will actually use his/her aesthetic judgement in decision-making, completely contrary to the scientific myth of logical reasoning. However, I have a better reason for circling with the flock on this matter. The right brain produces holistic insights by assessing each new element of information in relation to the context of the whole, the entirety of your knowledge. If it doesn't fit, you know immediately. Well, I sure do, and I gather this is normal. So there is some kind of internal evaluation that throws a binary switch: right/wrong. The mind does this automatically.
So, in regard to the Ptolemaic bones mouldering in the corpse of classical astrology, that's why I was able to spot those few that fitted my understanding of the world at the time. My judgement must have been pretty good because a considerable expansion of my multi-disciplinary perspective in the last couple of decades has required no amendment to it. The efforts of Project Hindsight will be best judged in relation to the multi-disciplinary frame of reference provided by the emerging scientific paradigm. If they flog their deceased nag hard enough, will it rise, to canter? Perhaps if they all hold hands and do a positive visualisation...
A couple of Exegesis contributors couldn't get their heads around Bill's notion of a non-mechanistic mechanism. My instinctive reaction to it was that I had already long ago come to the same expectation, so I naturally agree with Bill that that is indeed what we ought to expect is happening. This is the arena of metaphysics, where Bohm, Smuts, Sheldrake and Koestler have already made major relevant contributions. The number archetypes 1 & 2 are an essential addition, as they form the bridge between Bohm's prescription and the prescription of Smuts/Koestler.
"As far as modern Genethliacal practice is concerned, I think it's pretty clear that most people would rather bend their own minds than have someone do it for them on the basis of presumed authority. This is *good*!! It speaks of a slow development of individual responsibility which can only help the state of the human condition, in my not so humble opinion. < grin > The horoscope is the map and the individual is the territory. The map had better match the territory or it's not the right map (invalid horoscope... bad data, probably). And then, if you are a service provider (astrology is a service), then you work with and not against the client. It's just that simple and has long been so in the very basics of good business practice."
Altogether very well put, Bill. I agree, but perhaps with the quibble that some clients of other astrologers do seem to come for instruction. The competent counsellor (my partner Janice, for instance, also an astrologer) or psychotherapist would not fall for the guru trip such clients tend to set them up for, but you can hardly blame astrologers for allowing clients to make gurus out of them. Ego-building is a normal psychological function in human nature, huh?
"Exact birthtimes are only useful when vetted by rectification. Period. End of story. Otherwise, one assumes at the risk of making an ass of oneself, I think. One of the more interesting tools for rectification turns out to be Jones' Sabian Symbols, and they are far more useful in Jones' overly turgid schema than they are in Rudhyar's spiritual rendition, at least in this regard. I've never attempted to do precise work with them, but they can be a means of adjustment when the client and astrologer have enough rapport to use them. Otherwise, the classic ways that used to burn up reams of paper are the tried and true techniques."
Turgid is indeed the word for the works of MEJ! I still own a couple of his books, including the Sabian one, but God knows why. Every time I tried to read "Astrology: Why and How it Works" I couldn't get through more than a page. Talk about cerebral constipation! Wonder what in his chart imposed such a crippling impediment to his comprehension and use of the English language? Often over the years I have often discussed the use of Sabian symbols in rectification with other astrologers, having originally intuited that it ought to work. The verdict remains mixed, but remarkable correlations have been observed. Though I had some myself, I ended up discarding the system as too unreliable.
Bill's initial point advocating rectification recycles an old controversy, on which I tend to have 50 cents each way. Here, as an illustration, is Axel Harvey writing to a.a.m on 9 June: "Received a very worried email from a client who has been called on the carpet by his boss. The message is timestamped 1:37.6 a.m. EDT today. Saturn crossed his MC at 11:39.5 EDT yesterday. I rectified his birthtime eight years ago." The exact times seem irrelevant, but Axel's point is that the precise correlation confirms the accuracy of his original rectification. I'm inclined to agree, presuming he is telling the truth. This is hearsay evidence, however, even if he is. The social value of rectification was dramatically demonstrated by the couple of dozen or so published rectifications of Ronald Reagan's birth, all different; zilch!! The moral of this story is that rectification, as an astrological technique, is a mirage. It is a delusional focus for the astrocommunity. The total lack of commonality means there is no standard technique which any novice may properly learn and apply to get the right answer.
The other side of the rectification coin is that some astrologers appear to be able to get reliable answers for themselves, using inexplicable unexportable idiosyncratic methods. I presume Bill is one. The rest of us must take their assertions on faith, and we tend to believe them if they seem credible. This is likewise Neptunian, but if it happens even to a sceptic like me then it must be fairly prevalent. However it is worth noting that the advocates of rectification are alike in only one respect: they all shun the test of science. That is to say, when offered the opportunity to demonstrate that their expertise contains some objective validity, they shirk the challenge. All an advocate of rectification need do to prove their competence is to apply their method to cases where the birthtimes are reliably known, and get the right answers.
"As far as an objective astrologer is concerned, I've never met one and I don't think the animal exists; not that it is extinct, just that it was always a myth used for the same purposes for which myths are commonly used. In fact, I've never met a really objective person! If there actually were such a thing, science wouldn't have nearly the problem it has in getting at what is really going on in *it's* own right!" Yes, objectivity is relative, but for historical reasons there is a widespread belief that it is absolute. Understanding is essentially subjective, but meaning and knowledge can be subjective or objective depending on context; this hinges on whether any sharing or commonality is implied. The more so, the more relatively objective. Rectification illustrates this, being a case of zero commonality; total subjectivity. The zodiac is a relatively objective frame of reference; the horizon, being local, is less so, but it is a generic frame of reference so is objective in its abstract form. The reader hopefully does not need me to point out that this entire matter is one of relativity.
Bill: "I'm trying to free it from the assumption that there is in fact no physical basis for astrology, that it is only a psychological or spiritual language, and that any connection to the celestial sphere is incidental. If it can be demonstrated compellingly that there is no basis, then I will suggest we simply change its name and have done with it, for it will no longer constitute the study of the stars. Until that point, let's stick with the celestial sphere as the foundation, I suggest; we can certainly turn things upside down and inside out without losing that orientation." Not the first time here that Bill has expressed this concern, but I don't share it. Any advocate of plastic time would have to repudiate astrology's massive tradition, in which the horoscope has always been the map of an event, or moment somewhere specific on the earth's surface. Anyone with so narrow a focus that they could only see astrology as "a psychological or spiritual language" will never be able to communicate with the rest of the astrocommunity, thus can be written off as members of a minority school of thought. As far as the stars are concerned, the celestial sphere provides our common frames of reference and the context for accessing relatively universal meanings. As our common visual experience of the cosmos, this fundamental component of astrology will probably only ever be successfully negated by those in psychological denial of real world experience. Such people invariably marginalise themselves.
"Once again I'm going to suggest that there are two different and probably (eventually) complimentary threads going on in this group. There is the thread that seeks a theoretical base for astrology, and there is a thread that seeks to understand the subjective experience of astrology. For one of these threads to seek to validate itself by bashing the other is an exercise in futility, I think. Neither of these views invalidates the other, nor should they expect to, I submit." This seems a good point, even if I hadn't seen the dialogue here as constituting two such threads. If Bill's analysis is broadly correct, I guess I have been addressing the former with perhaps an inadvertent sporadic lapse into the latter.
Bill: "Neuroscience has rather neatly demonstrated the basis for clinical observations in psychology that were strongly refuted in the lay public:emotions *don't* rule the mind, the public said!! The are entirely separate matters, they said. The psychologist suggested that our initial response is emotional rather than intellectual, even for those people who could demonstrate a powerful intellect and a powerful will besides."
Well, this appears to contradict my experience , which was of growing up in a society in which the public had been led by the academics to believe that reason and emotion were entirely separate. People reacted emotionally to new information, but could use it intelligently only to the extent that they learnt to use their minds to transcend their feelings. Perhaps the contradiction is more apparent than real. Coincidentally, I have just begun reading "Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain" (1994). At the beginning of his intro, the author writes "I had been advised early in life that sound decisions came from a cool head, that emotions and reason did not mix any more than oil and water. I had grown up accustomed to thinking that the mechanisms of reason existed in a separate province of the mind, where emotion should not be allowed to intrude, and when I thought of the brain behind that mind, I envisioned separate neural systems for reason and emotion. This was a widely held view of the relation between reason and emotion, in mental and neural terms."
Bill: "We now know the psychologists were right, but we also know that the other side had its own validity as well. Emotions are among the first inputs the cerebrum has in any matter, as they are the experience of the body preparing itself according to flagged memories. The cerebrum develops its own response and includes the emotions as part thereof, and one of the cerebrum's duties is to preside supreme, ruling the emotional reality as appropriate. So we do respond with our emotions, and we are well served by being able to control them as appropriate. Traditionally, and now with some solid biological evidence, maturity was defined as the ability to control one's emotional being when appropriate or necessary."
So the traditional view was partly right, and only wrong to the extent that it implied (or it was interpreted as requiring) the suppression of emotions. You are probably familiar with the above book, Bill, but if not, the author is Antonio Damasio, MD PhD, Professor of Neurology at Univ. of Iowa College of Medicine and adjunct professor at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies, La Jolla, Ca. Publisher's credit from David Hubel, Nobel Laureate, Harvard University: "Here at last is an attempt by one of the world's foremost neurologists, to synthesize what is known about the workings of the brain... It deserves to become a classic." Another from Robert Ornstein, author of "The Evolution of Consciousness", "The Psychology of Consciousness", "The Roots of the Self" (plus 17 other books): "A rare chance to get the first-hand thoughts of one of modern neuroscience's major thinkers. Antonio Damasio offers a revolutionary portrait of how reason and feelings come together in the mind." Steven Rose, likewise author of related works, wrote in the NY Times: "Antonio Damasio is among the world's leading neurologists, and his book Descartes' Error should be crucial reading not only for neuroscientists and philosophers but for lay readers too". Hope it turns out to be worthy of the hype.
Further into his intro Damasio writes: "I suggest only that certain aspects of the process of emotion and feeling are indispensable for rationality. At their best, feelings point us in the proper direction, take us to the appropriate place in a decision-making space, where we may put the instruments of logic to good use. We are faced by uncertainty when we have to make a moral judgement, decide on the course of a personal relationship, choose some means to prevent our being penniless in old age, or plan for the life that lies ahead. Emotion and feeling, along with the covert physiological machinery underlying them, assist us with the daunting task of predicting an uncertain future and planning our actions accordingly." Well, as well as supporting Bill's point, this looks suspiciously like Damasio concurring with my point 17 paragraphs above, where I responded to Bill's critique of the `use it if it feels right' syndrome.
Damasio continues: "Further, I propose that human reason depends on several brain systems, working in concert across many levels of neuronal organization, rather than on a single brain center. Both `high-level' and `low-level' brain regions, from the prefrontal cortices to the hypothalamus and brain stem, cooperate in the making of reason. The lower levels in the neural edifice of reason are the same ones that regulate the processing of emotions and feelings, along with the body functions necessary for an organism's survival. In turn, these lower levels maintain direct and mutual relationships with virtually every bodily organ, thus placing the body directly within the chain of operations that generate the highest reaches of reasoning, decision making, and, by extension, social behaviour and creativity. Emotion, feeling, and biological regulation all play a role in human reason."
Relating this thesis to the contemporary astrological paradigm, reasoning is performed by the ideas and communication drive, Mercury. Emotions and feelings are produced by our organic response mechanism, Luna. People often feel things in their body, evidence that the Moon mediates the mind/body interface. An impressive consensus has formed amongst modern astrologers that the planets in human birthcharts represent motivating drives in the psyche, mostly without adherents being aware that Rudhyar originated this view only about 70 years ago. Rudhyar wrote frequently (in presenting his thesis that the horoscope is a model of the psyche) that each component of the psyche must be seen to operate in a holistic manner, by virtue of the coordination of such parts by the whole. Our reductionist upbringing inclines us to define the planets as separate psychological drives, but this is likely to be only relatively true, and, taken to the exclusion of the holistic perspective, sufficiently misleading to produce error in interpretation.
In my own book I quoted various points made by neuroscientist Richard Bergland, from his inspirational 1985 work "The Fabric of Mind". It would seem that hormones not only originate or mediate feelings, but act as a fundamental source of intelligence, presumably informing the brain. I agree that insights from brain science are likely to help our endeavours here, Bill. Hope there's more to come!
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 62
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