|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #63
Exegesis Digest Wed, 28 Jul 1999
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 20:33:14 +0900
From: Candy Hillenbrand
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #53-8
I feel like I am swimming [or is that drowning?] in Exegesis posts. There are so many titbits I would like to reply to, but time is of the essence, so I am going to arbitrarily respond to a few things which have taken my fancy. I apologise for taking so long to reply to posts which have now passed into the annals of cyber-history.
Many times recently I have felt either totally overwhelmed by the sheer length of some of the posts and/or felt that I have little to contribute to this substantive discussion. And yet, frequently I read something which jumps out and I want to either enthusiastically agree and sometimes even disagree. Something Dennis said in today's post really struck me and I'd like to echo that here:
"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."
Very well put Dennis! I will use this as an apt preface to everything I have to say here.
Dale wrote V4#53:
> >Finally, consider the astrologer/client interaction: "She told me
> >things about me that _nobody_ knows!" But the _client_ knows, and
> >neither realizes how much the astrologer picks up from body language,
> >by reading between the lines, and more or less directly via client
> >"feedback". The astrologer throws out vague generalities that sound
> >specific and the client, knowing his or her own past and self and
> >seeing it in those generalities, excitedly confirms, offering details
> >that the astrologer then comments on more fully, in a back and forth
> >process in which neither realizes how much is coming from the client
> >rather than the astrologer.
Dale, you have very eloquently outlined the nature of the participatory 'reality' between astrologer and client. I like the way you use examples to illustrate your points. By taking some of this stuff out of the realm of the purely theoretical, you bring life and meaning to what would otherwise be mere dry constructs.
> >I see this nesting of episodes within events, with each episode
> >in turn being an event containing its own briefer episodes, as being
> >equivalent to the way a battle is an episode in a larger event, the
> >war, while containing briefer episodes, skirmishes, which contain
> >still briefer episodes, the acts of individual soldiers. The briefer
> >events, in turn, manifest the larger events of which they're a part. [snip]
To me, your description of the "nesting of episodes within events" is a *brilliant* insight and underscores the highly complex nature of an 'event' and hence the difficulty in earmarking the precise timing of an event, all of which leaves one wondering just how can one *predict* an event whose timing is so fuzzy.
Andre wrote V4#54
> >Well Candy (btw, what a pleasure to have you here on Exegesis and
> >writing! A very warm welcome!!) - I wrote the above about chaos in
> >partial answer to this, and you see I mentioned freewill in that context
> >*but* I've just never been enthused with the whole freewill/determinism
> >question! I guess if I believed that astrology has any power to
> >"predict" any person's future (even past) at all, then I would feel the
> >question needs to be addressed.
Great post Andre, and thanks for the warm welcome. I too don't believe that astrology has any *reliable* power to predict a person's future, and as for the past, hey it's easy to be wise after the event. And yet, unlike you, this is precisely *why* I am enthused about the freewill/determinism debate. In the light of Bill Sheeran's thought-provoking post, I now suspect that my enthusiasm may be nought but a reactionary response to what I have perceived as the excessive fatalism of oh too many astrologers. Egad!
> >But I don't think we have that power (for reasons given above, for
> >reasons of Dale's, because of the *common* failure of prediction to work
> >out in practice, and for other reasons I may produce if asked nicely < g > ).
Yes please -- I'm asking nicely!!!
> >In short, I think it is a conceit, and I don't think astrologers have
> >*anything* significant or meaningful to say on the matter. (That, of
> >course, could be just my blind spot talking. So I follow dissenting
> >views with interest).
I couldn't agree with you more, and that may be *my* blind spot talking, but who cares!
> >You are, of course, aso addressing another aspect of the problem
> >entirely: that of (a) the perception of astrology by the public in
> >relation to fate; (b) the perception of astrology by astrologers in
> >relation to fate. I agree this is a very real, and I think a much
> >bigger problem.
yep, yep and yep.
and Cynthia wrote:
> >Though I was raised a
> >Catholic, Astrology is my religion. I say this because you seem to have the
> >impression that because I was (intellectually) trained in semiotics which
> >never *overtly* addresses issues of belief or morality that I am relieved of
> >making moral choices about how I practise Astrology, or indeed, taking any
> >moral stance at all. (And if I have misunderstood you, I apologize; it's so
> >hard to express oneself to virtual strangers on the Net.)
Sincerest apologies, Cynthia, for conveying this impression. It was entirely unintentional. I certainly do not have the impression that you are "relieved of making moral choices" about how you practise astrology. All the comments I have made about the way astrologers practise are generalisations only, and gross ones at that, and are in no way directed at individuals.
Bill wrote V4#57:
> >Determinism is the doctrine that holds that the motives for action are
> >regarded as objective forces acting on the individual, or more generally,
> >that there is a causative process at the root of all activity. I don't
> >understand how this doctrine can be refuted, at least in the main.
Bill, I have huge difficulties with this statement, unless I have entirely misunderstood you. I would suggest that the doctrine of determinism *can* indeed be refuted, because as you say, it is simply a *doctrine*. Not everyone subscribes to the theory/doctrine of causation or determinism at all. For example, the deterministic corollary in psychology is behaviourism, and this is certainly not the only *irrefutable* branch of psychology. Far from it in fact!
You seem to be implying that determinism has some sort of objective basis, whereas I see it as *just another worldview*, the implications of which I have discussed at length in earlier posts. At the risk of being repetitive, determinism is wedded to the notions of mechanism and causation and the ramification of such a doctrine for astrology is a belief in the reliability of prediction and the concomitant denial of individual freedom and choice. This too is precisely the implication of B.F. Skinner's behaviourism. The title of his landmark book, "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" says it all. Skinner simply substitutes 'conditioning' for 'fate'.
Actually, I see many parallels between 'traditional' astrology [TA] and behaviourist psychology. Both are obsessed with the prediction of behaviour; both seek justification in the amassing and quantifying of empirical data; both strive to be objective; both deny the capacity of the individual to be self determining; both deny the importance of consciousness, intention, desire, freedom, self-actualization and choice. Not surprisingly, behaviourism is now on very shaky ideological ground, thanks to the postmodern revolution. The development of humanistic and transpersonal psychologies can be seen as a reaction to the determinism and consciousness-denying extremes of behaviourist psychology. I would suggest that the same trend has occurred in astrology. More on that later.
The determinist parallel in science -- positivist science -- has also fallen on shaky ground, thanks to relatively new developments in the field of quantum physics. Heisenberg's famous "Uncertainty or Indeterminacy Principle" and other similar findings have demonstrated that at the subatomic level, 'events' are indeterminate, uncertain and hence unpredictable. Another important finding, and one very relevant to astrology, is that the act of observation, measurement or experimentation, affects the phenomenon being observed. As Jung put it: "the observer is inseparable from the observed and always disturbs it by the act of observation". The experimenter is not separate from the experiment; the astrologer is not separate from the chart s/he is observing. The experimenter can affect the outcome of an experiment, ditto an astrologer can affect the 'reading' of the chart. The boundaries between subject and object, between subjective and objective, are hence blurred.
It strikes me Bill, that you may be championing a lost cause, or at least a rather outdated paradigm. I hope I am not being too cheeky in suggesting that! < g >
In a more recent post you said: "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."
I have not really seen evidence of two different threads, so much as indications that some of us are operating from different paradigmatic bases. I think, perhaps, that this whole issue of *paradigms* and *world views* needs to be more consciously and diligently addressed. I understand and respect your quest for a mechanistic and rational basis to astrology, but I would also urge you to consider that what you propose may indeed be *refutable*, may be little more than a belief, a theory, a worldview, a paradigm. Of course, I readily acknowledge that in saying all this I am coming from my own 'biased' belief system or worldview.
> >The point of my argument, actually, was that those who subscribe to one of
> >the more common western religions have been told in no uncertain terms that
> >their fate rests in the hand of the deity of interest, and the only
> >influence they might have is in (somehow) pleasing that deity. In more
> >recent times, it is (it seems) generally thought that the deity holding
> >one's fate is beneficent
> >in nature, which would seem to tend to relieve the concern about one's fate,
> >at least to some extent. Nevertheless, there is no real discussion of free
> >will as a viable option, as the exercise of free will is rather markedly
> >equated with the path to perdition, as it were.
Interestingly, my own studies suggest quite the opposite. My understanding is that historically, the major point of divergence between western [Christian] religion and astrology was the perception on the part of the early Church fathers [of the likes of Augustine] that the astrological world view implicitly denied and challenged the theological notion of freewill [human freedom, dignity, conscience, call it what you will]. My reading is that, according to 'western religions', generalising of course, human freewill was more revered than fate. 'God' endowed humanity with freewill, not a predetermined fate. The opposite may be said for astrology, and hence the clash between the Church and astrology -- freewill was pitted against fate.
> >The assumption that astrology is at the foundation of a religion has a very
> >deep and abiding basis, and the course by which it has done so is generally
> >Wicca (Goddess philosophy) and/or through western metaphysics.
My perception is that it is not astrology that is at the foundation of religion, but religion that is at the foundation of astrology. I cannot see that its 'primary course' has been 'goddess' based at all. In fact, for many, many, many centuries, I would say that the 'religious' foundation of astrology has been, again, quite the opposite to what you are suggesting, ie. patriarchal. I would suggest that much of our so-called 'modern' astrology [including traditional and 'depth' psychological approaches] is based on the Greco/Roman mytho-religious tradition, which was *highly* patriarchal in nature.
> >All that is needed is for
> >astrologers to get busy learning how to offer options and choices for
> >effective responses to the objective forces. This is not a matter of
> >philosophy as much as it is a matter of the reason for the practice in the
> >first place.
I have been involved in so many fascinating cyber debates on this subject during the last few years. At first, the best anyone could come up with [myself included] was the imperative to offer choices and options, rather than a cast-in-cement fate. And yet now I can see that the mere offering of choices and options presupposes the prediction of a seemingly objective reality [or fate] against which choice is possible. What is the background against which the choices and options are presented? I would suggest that the astrologer, in most cases, has a quite clear belief as to the background scenario [based on the transits/progressions etc], and offers so-called choices in keeping with his/her preconceptions as to the nature of that background.
I don't think it is possible to separate *philosophy* from astrology, as I've said before. The nature of the practice is dependent on the philosophy, whether conscious or not. The nature of our personal astrophilosophy, and our larger collective astrophilosophy, underpins the quality of our practise.
> >I get the vision of astrologers who delight in passing out prophecies of
> >doom, while cackling dementedly that there is *no* escape, *no* means of
> >successful response!!!! I guess I really have to ask, Candy, is *this* the
> >sort of astrologers you see working in Australia?
This appears to be a gross caricature of the astrological practice. I don't think things are any better or worse here in Australia than elsewhere. Certainly, my perceptions have altered drastically since coming into contact with many astrologers, particularly on the internet. Once, in the days before computers and cyberspace, I did my own thing and operated in an astro-vacuum of my own humanistic making. Then I began to venture out, consulted the odd astrologer, attended astrology schools, subscribed to magazines, attended conferences, sat for exams, and engaged in huge cyber debates. This just *has* to change your world view! When I started to see astrologers en masse, I started to see the pervasiveness of the fatalistic/deterministic astro-paradigm. I contend that it is the *norm*. This is not just the case in Australia; it is the case everywhere. And this determinism is contained within all sorts of astrology, not simply within the medieval predictive school, but is also rife within the depth psychological/neo-Jungian/Greco-Roman mythological and karmic astrology schools. Necessity = karma = fate.
> >Ahh, yes, and now we reach the heart of the matter. In fact, we can almost
> >always do quite well with traditional astrology because it shows the path of
> >least resistance, the most effortless way, etc.
In all these discussions, I have seen little or no mention of anything other than 'traditional' astrology. Humanistic and transpersonal astrology operate from quite different assumptions to traditional astrology. The goal of humanistic astrology is self-actualization. If one is consciously dedicated to the path of self-actualization, then one is consciously attempting to exercise one's freewill and the creative power of choice. If one is following the transpersonal path, then one is attempting to align the 'personal' will with the 'divine' will -- I will to will Thy will etc. Perhaps Bill, your philosophical position is most applicable to 'traditional' astrology, and perhaps it is not so relevant to humanistic or transpersonal astrology?
As an aside, I have very recently begun studying postmodern psychology, [specifically narrative therapy] and find it very exciting. I believe there may be important revelations here which could be usefully applied to the practise of astrology. My firm personal belief is that astrology needs to undergo a postmodern revolution, on a par to that which is happening within most other academic fields. This does not mean simply to deconstruct it and throw the baby out with the bathwater. My understanding of postmodern [POMO] thinking, although admittedly still in its embryonic stages, is that it necessitates a new way of looking at the 'self', amongst other things. It proposes that we are the authors [authorities] of our own lives, that each of us is a creation of our own unique stories, with all its many relationships, experiences and background contexts.
Whereas the prevailing astroparadigm [specifically relating to TA] is unabashedly deterministic and reductionistic, being based on a codefied set of rather strict rules and judgements, and necessitating the *essentialising* or *reducing* of the whole unique person into a set of [psychological] parts or functions, POMO is crying out for a recognition of plurality, diversity, relativity and context. POMO psychology recognises, far more than astrology ever can, the *uniqueness* of the individual. Andre has written some very interesting stuff on this 'uniqueness' aspect of the self in relation to astrology [can't remember where now] which I think is very valuable in this regard.
The implications of postmodern thinking for astrology are various. In POMO psychology, the client is the storyteller, or the narrator of her/his own 'truth' and the therapist a co-participant rather than an outside authority who has possession of all the answers. The therapist, through asking appropriate questions, helps the client to articulate and to become more aware of his/her story or stories, and assists the client in rewriting, reframing or even changing parts of the story which may no longer be usefully serving him/her. The therapeutic exchange is also dialogic as opposed to monologic. How different to traditional astrology where the client often scarsely participates in the telling of his/her own story! Essentially, in astrology, the story is *told* to him/her by an outsider. The chart is read and the fate is pronounced -- this is the absolute antithesis of the POMO approach.
I am not pointing the finger here. I stress that this 'problem' is *inherent* within the astroparadigm and I am as much a hostage to it as anybody. To illustrate my point, this week I have a consultation with a mother and we are going to be looking at the chart of her 10 month old baby. This can scarsely be called a consultation. It will indeed involve a 'reading' of the chart in the virtual absence of the chart owner [although the baby will be there] but from the baby's point of view, it will be entirely monologic. Of course I will dialogue with the mother but what can we say about a personality that is not yet formed? We astrologers sometimes traverse very tricky territory!
In reaction to this 'problem', I think, psychological astrology was born, principally a 'depth' psychological approach which grafted neo-Jungian theory onto Greco-Roman mythology. Now we were told that the stars don't *do* anything *to* us, but that the astrological 'system' is merely 'symbolic'. It is a 'map of the psyche'. We look *within* rather than *without*. Everything is put down to a projection, a complex, a facet of the shadow, a motif constellated in the collective unconscious etc etc. I must say I have frequently observed the 'projection' theory taken to ridiculous and dangerous extremes -- ie. since everything which happens to us is a projection of what is going on inside us, we must necessarily accept full responsibility for all the shit which happens in our lives. We even blame ourselves if we are raped, if we were abused as a child, if we get cancer, or more commonly, if we have a bad relationship -- something within us *must* have attracted that 'event' to us.
In this system, fate is not an external agent but is instead embodied internally or embedded in psychological 'complexes'. 'Necessity', a term borrowed from the Greeks, apparently dictates the need to face those complexes through the manifestation of external events. Fate dressed in different clothing no less! Imo, depth psychological astrology is, in short, just as fated as its traditional predecessor, and in fact, may be even more disempowering. In this system, we have simply substituted 'fate' for 'necessity', 'projection' and 'complex'.
> >This is why astrological philosophy in theory and practice needs to be a
> >fundamental and integral part of any astrological curriculum, and I think
> >there needs to be world wide acknowledgment that to deliberately perform to
> >the detriment of the client should be grounds for excommunication from the
> >astrological profession. This must, however, follow a thorough-going effort
> >to establish the relevant curriculum. This sounds ridiculous at this point
> >and rather arrogant besides, but one does observe that professional
> >organizations do just this sort of thing in order to keep the profession
> >itself of dependable value.
> >In addition, I would be all for identifying any school of astrology or
> >astrological practice that does *not* actively include such a curriculum and
> >making it known world wide that this school does not conform to and
> >therefore is not recommended by the world wide astrological community.
Hmmm, excommunication and outing sound a bit extreme! I do take your point about raising standards and so forth, but these are strong words. A curriculum does not a good astrologer make. We could also get into a debate about the relative value of different schools of thought, and I could tell you why I think the current medieval revival [which is very rife in these parts] exhibits all the hallmarks of a rabidly fundamentalist religion, hellbent on dragging us back into the grim fate-ridden ignorance of the Dark Ages! Whew! And yet without such contrast, there would be no pluralism, and it is within a pluralism of approaches and worldviews, that wealth and richness and diversity can be had.
> >I recognize the connection of Goddess worship to astrology, even though I'm
> >probably of the wrong gender to fully appreciate it;
> >to some extent it is
> >practiced to the detriment of the male gender, and that makes me
> >understandably uncomfortable.
Actually, I think astrology is practised to the detriment of the *female* gender, and that makes me very uncomfortable. I think it is high time that astrology was subjected to a penetrating feminist critique!
> >I know that there is a very well meaning
> >movement to make a religion of astrology, but I don't understand it well
> >enough to comment, I suppose.
I would suggest that it is not a question of *making* a religion of astrology, but that astrology *is* a religion; has always been a religion. It is a belief system; in your own words - a construct. It was, historically, one of the earliest religions. Astrology began as the worship of the stars; of the enshrining of the stars with god/goddess-like qualities. Of course, this is a rather challenging notion to those who believe that astrology has some objective reality or is 'the truth'. Talk to a lay person about astrology and it becomes quite clear, in the absence of any scientific 'proof', that to practise it requires *believing in it*.
In POMO terms, I see astrology as a "grand narrative" or a "metanarrative". Its proponents earnestly believe that it is "the truth". It is a theory which claims to have all the answers, which "claims to provide universal explanations and trade[s] on the authority this gives them". [Icon Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought]. In attempting to make all of humanity fit into the constraints of its all-embracing, universal and authoritarian 'theory of personality' or 'theory of how-the-world-works', astrology robs the individual of his/her *own* authority. I see this as one of the *biggest* problems with astrology, although trying to communicate this to astrologers usually results in my being labelled either a heretic, unprofessional, confused, and god knows what else.
> >For a large percentage of our practice, the Judeo-Christian tradition is
> >operative; it does, of course, support religious fatalism. One has to do
> >what one can on one's behalf before the deity, but ultimately the deity
> >decides one's fate.
My understanding, as I mentioned earlier, is that the Judeo-Christian tradition emphasises freewill rather than fate, and *this* is why the early church fathers decreed astrology to be such a heresy, because astrology is so clearly aligned with fate.
> >I imagine that you're right, but I'd also assert that much of what our
> >culture is all about has to do with fear in one guise or another. I don't
> >see astrology as special at all in this regard. Governments exist as a
> >result of the fear of anarchy and tyranny. The military exists as a result
> >of a fear of military domination by others. Insurance exists as.... and
> >on and on!
I was not suggesting that astrology is special in the fear department at all, simply making the point that FEAR *does* lie at the root of much of what we do-- quintessentially the fear of chaos. I think we astrologers have tended, collectively speaking, to think that we are indeed special by virtue of the fact that we can somehow either deny or countermand this fear by either determining the fearful future in advance, hence to render it less fearful and/or to come up with choices, options, talismans, healings, warnings etc to offset the feared/fearful outcomes. In fact, looked at in this way, the popular so-called 'empowering' practice of giving the client choices and options can be seen as not all that far removed from the ancient practices of sympathetic and talismanic magic.
> >>>Now, let's put that on the astrologer's dilemma. Let's say that the
> >>>astrologer is able to see that the client is going to enter a difficult
> >>>when they will be vulnerable to a certain type of accident in a particular
> >>>part of their lives (astrological configuration bearing on a given House).
And Candy passionately replied:
> >>No, no, no. Imo, this is exactly what an astrologer *can't* see. Certainly,
> >>an astrologer cannot predict an accident with any accuracy. As for
> >>predicting or seeing a difficult time ahead, there are similarly no
> >>guarantees. Yes, a Saturn/Moon transit may suggest an emotionally difficult
> >>time, but all of us probably have examples when such a transit did *not*
> >>manifest in the usual isolation, depression, and so forth. This tells me
> >>that the widely accepted assumption [stock answer] about Saturn/Moon
> >>transits is not 100% reliable, does not apply to everyone, is not an
> >>absolute truth, so then how on earth can I predict this for a client, when
> >>I know it may not be true?
And Bill reiterated:
> >Certainly an astrologer can see such things, Candy, it's a strong part of
> >the astrological tradition.
And I REPEAT, most strongly
> >What is the difference? We can understand the *mechanism* by which the
> >drunk gets in an accident, but we cannot understand the mechanism by which
> >the astrological function works its effect.
> >Now we are back at the original question: what does one say and when does
> >one say it?
Perhaps one doesn't need to say much at all - perhaps one needs to listen. I have found, more often than not, that the client usually knows deep down what is best for him or her. All I need to do is act as a trigger or catalyst for what the client already knows. I really like what Andre said on this subject -- "that we construct stories with our clients. They are not (generally) passive recipients of some sort of received wisdom; rather they participate in and negotiate the nature of what they are told". Now *that* sounds like it is getting close to a more POMO approach to astrology!
Btw, I would like to direct anyone who is interested in the application of POMO thinking to astrology, to read Bill Sheeran's excellent article: "Astrology, Patriarchy and Postmodernism" which was published in "The Mountain Astrologer" earlier this year. The full text is available on my website at: http://olis.net.au/~hillen/aplace/Pages/BillSPostmodernism.htm
Bill Sheeran wrote V4#58:
> >One of the interesting and confusing things about astrology is that it
> >uses the predictable and effectively linear cycles of the planets to
> >reveal information about a very non-linear context (life). This
> >presents big problems if one takes a literal approach to astrology, or
> >if one takes the Hermetic maxim "as above, so below" too close to
> >heart. It is understandable that astrologers have a somewhat
> >simplistic attitude to prediction given the paragon of predictability
> >which is described by the primary feature of the language.
Welcome Bill - it's great to see you writing here. I found your post very articulate and insightful. It has helped me to clarify some of my own dilemmas about the practise of astrology.
> >Order is seductive. Its presence fosters a sense of security. On the
> >other hand, too much order produces stagnation, freezes processes
> >(flowing water turns to ice) and evolution, and restricts the
> >emergence of novelty. This sets up a tension, which is evident among
> >astrologers in terms of attitudes to prediction, which is a function
> >of order. For some it promises existential security and the ability to
> >exercise control. For others it triggers thoughts about the need to
> >feel the existence of free will.
I realised with a thud, thanks to this, that I have tended to take a perhaps reactionary approach to the fate/freewill issue in the light of my own acute perception of this 'stagnating, freezing, restricting' effect of an excessive emphasis on *order*. Thanks Bill for this realization -- it has been most humbling!
> >Unlike natal astrology, which following Ptolemy's lead, is based on
> >the time of birth (usually inaccurate, especially before the 17th
> >century, by which time astrology was in decline) with astrologer as
> >mere translator of the code, horary highlights the central role of the
> >astrologer in the astrological process. Instead of the usual
> >separation, there is a highly significant interface between the
> >astrologer as subject and horoscope as object in the context of the
> >question at hand. [snip]
> >Anyone interested in this topic should try to get their hands on "The
> >Moment of Astrology" by Geoffrey Cornelius. It's currently out of
> >print, but it is a very provocative read, and in my opinion, an
> >important book. Expect to feel some cognitive dissonance while being
> >glued to the page.
Interestingly, when I first joined Exegesis, someone [Cynthia?] mentioned Cornelius' article on the TMA site: "Is Astrology Divination and Does it Matter" and yet I noticed it was promptly poo-poohed. Recently, I reread this article and another by Cornelius: "Psychoanalysis, Divination and Astrology" and I did experience the "cognitive dissonance" to which Bill referred. This tells me there may be something in all this. I don't have the book Bill has mentioned as it has been OOP for some time, but I would like to direct everyone to these articles:
"Psychoanalysis, Divination, Astrology" -- http://www.hubcom.com/coa/wzpatalk.htm The other article, to which Dennis referred today, is no longer available on the TMA site but since I believe its contents are crucial to this discussion, I am happy to email it to anyone who is interested.
Since I do not have a copy of Cornelius' book, my understanding of his position is limited to the above two articles. Bill, I must say I am disappointed to see that you so emphatically dismissed Cornelius' "entire argument". Have you read the article "Is astrology Divination and Does it Matter?"
I would like to make a couple of observations here, which may also be dismissed in similar fashion. Personally, I think there is much worth in Cornelius' position that "astrology is divination". Of course, this is a heresy amongst 'modernist' [as opposed to 'premodern' and 'postmodern'] astrologers who so desperately want to see astrology *proven* as a rational, objective, mechanistic, empirical science.
Astrology's earliest roots lie in the practise of divination, resting I think firmly in the pre-modern era, and yet to me at least, Cornelius' thesis seems to be strangely relevant in today's POMO climate. As both Bill S and Cynthia have pointed out, it [horary] restores the astrologer to the equation and addresses the subject/object split which is a hallmark of 'modernist' traditional deterministic astrology.
While I am no expert in the techniques of horary, and bow to Cynthia's expertise in this area, a few things seem clear.
What horary demonstrates is not so much the application of a set of precise rules for determining the fate [location] of an object, or the fate [outcome] of an issue etc etc, but the fundamental divinatory principle that *meaning* [and surely the core purpose of astrology is to derive meaning?] is embodied in, captured in, and/or reflected in *moments of time*. *Meaning in moments* -- this is, after all, what we are doing with natal astrology [NA]. We settle on a birth time, through various means, and we interpret the resulting chart and derive the meaning from that moment of time.
Cornelius has rightly pointed out the spuriousness of most birth times, whether recorded or not. It matters little whether the time is recorded on a birth certificate. The first place of recording is often the hospital and anyone who has worked in a hospital, or is familiar with hospital procedure, knows full well that nursing staff do *not* watch the clock for the exact moment of birth. Even mothers who are astrologers forget the clock in the throes of birthing. Not to mention the possibility that the clock in the labour room may be fast or slow! Birth times are notoriously WRONG -- rounded off, estimated, forgotten etc etc. As for rectification, I fully agree with Dennis on the subjectivity and delusive quality of any rectification technique. As an aside, I have used the Sabian symbols in rectification, but always *with* the client, so that in effect, the client very actively participates in the process and chooses the chart with which they resonate the most. Of course, that does not mean the chart is the 'right' one, in terms of the precise moment of birth, but I suspect that the chart is at least useful for that person at that particular time. Again, a quite 'divinatory' application of astrology.
So, what we are doing with NA is, more often than not, in the absence of an absolutely correct birth time, equivalent to a 'divinatory' reading. Even very empirically-oriented astrologers acknowledge this fact, although often using other words to describe the process at work. The well-known and respected Bernadette Brady, who has developed the rectification software program, Jigsaw, has been want to say, in the context of rectification, that we cannot expect to get the absolutely right and correct chart, that what we are doing with empirical rectification procedures, is looking for a time that "works", so that we can come up with a chart that "responds to predictive work". This too suggests a 'divinatory' principle at work.
Horary also demonstrates that meaning changes from moment to moment, depending on the moment we choose for which to erect the chart. In other words, horary demonstrates the POMO principle that meaning is relative, ie. context dependent. It suggests a psychological quality of the moment which affects every interaction in that moment, and this is especially the case for a horary chart set up for the moment of the consultation. Incidentally, for those who dismiss horary as naught but a method of finding lost objects, it was an important part of Rudhyar's astrological toolkit. He, and others who have followed him, have recognised the vital importance of the horary for the natal consultation, and this in itself points to the crucial factor of the *context* of the consultation, again very POMO.
The horary for the consultation brings the astrologer into the equation, by looking at the 7th house and its ruler and aspects. This suggests again, that the astrologer is an important factor in a 'reading' or consultation. Quite apart from the chart and the unique story of the client, we are also looking at the *relationship* between the astrologer and client. As Andre has pointed out, the *synastry* is also vitally important. We do not exist in vacuums -- we exist in relationship to many others. In fact, others constitute a part of our context, and the astrologer is equally a part of the client's context in the astrological exchange.
Hence the chart is not an objective 'thing'; it is not simply a map to be read, although tell that to many astrologers! It has to be read and interpreted and it is surely a truism that different astrologers will interpret the same chart in different ways. I also believe that the same astrologer will interpret the same chart differently on different days, taking all sorts of contextual factors into account, including the physical and psychological 'weather'. This is the basis of horary -- the recognition of the unique quality which is brought to bear upon any given moment of time.
Horary, and any divinatory techniques like the tarot and the I Ching, suggest that by becoming aware of the quality of a moment, we can change the quality of the next moment, simply through the conscious act of awareness. One moment is qualitatively different to the next and therefore nothing stays the same. I think this is also the case with empowering therapies, such as Rogerian 'client-centred' type therapies, narrative therapy, and perhaps even astrology at its potentially POMO person-centered best. What these approaches suggest to me is that the 'self' is not a static entity, a belief which I think traditional astrology has tended to reinforce. Rather, the 'self' is in *process* of development and unfoldment. And perhaps there is no such thing as an 'essential' self. Perhaps we are many selves.
One last thing... In today's post Bill wrote to Dennis:
"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."
Bill, I don't quite understand why you find this so hard to understand. I fully concur with Dennis. In fact, everything I do is based on whether it "feels right" or "feels wrong". Perhaps this is an 'intuitive' approach to life, I don't know. When I first encountered astrology, I would wholeheartedly embrace approaches with which I instinctively resonated. What other gauge is there in the absence of a teacher, and in those days [the early 80s], even astrology books were scarse in Australia. For example, without knowing anything about astrology, I somehow *knew* that I resonated with Rudhyar's approach. I knew it was "right for me". There was absolutely nothing 'rational' or 'scientific' about it, but increasingly over the years, I have learned to trust my 'gut' instincts. I don't know if you have ever studied the 'enneagram'. It is a system of nine-fold personality typology derived from the Sufi tradition, popularised by Gurdjieff/Ouspensky and more recently embraced by various Jesuit groups. It recognises 3 fundamental ways of 'knowing' -- head, heart and gut. Perhaps the answer lies there -- I don't know, but please don't dismiss those who have different 'cognitive' paths to your own. There are many paths to 'God' or the 'truth', and each is paved with the best of intentions, and maybe equal results!
Good wishes to all,
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 63
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