|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #75
Exegesis Digest Mon, 04 Oct 1999
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 19:21:25 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: feedback on digests 70 & 71
(originally sent on 20 September)
In Ex4/70, Bill Tallman makes a complaint about widespread contemporary aversion to determinism.. "The OED defines it as the recognition of the existence of external force. A good antithesis might be Solipsism, which does not recognize the existence of external force. The point of interest that seems to be evident in the discussions recently made here is precisely the matter of external force. I would suggest that a reasonable man acknowledges that there are indeed forces external to him/herself, but that this fact does not mandate the non-existence of internal forces as well. Hence, these "isms" are simply expressions of extremes, of pure archetypes of being, etc."
"Unfortunately, Determinism became the descriptive term for a fairly extreme position held by classical physicists, who said that, given a point of departure all else could be predicted by calculation (if such were possible). What this actually addressed was the assumption that there existed an absolute frame of reference in the universe, presumably enforced by some undetected attribute of the universe (the aether, flogistan, whatever...). Classical (Newtonian) physics reigned supreme for two centuries, from the end of the 17th to the end of the 19th, and in this time physics provided a cornucopia of advancement in understanding of our universe and ourselves. It still remains valid on the scale of the human modular, although it now rests on relativity and quantum mechanics below that level."
"Much was made of the fact that classical physics lost its supreme position beginning with the Michelson-Morley experiment and ending with the decisive defeat by means of nuclear weaponry of Japan in W2. It is exactly *what* was made of that process that is my bone of contention here. The assumption that a generalized and popularized view of a scientific hypothesis might actually have valid applicability to the human species, especially its culture, would leave me scratching my head if I weren't aware of how that came to be. Suddenly, "Determinism" has become this monster that threatens to eat us all if it is not compulsively repelled and repudiated! The reason for this is that now "Determinism" seems to be the name of a philosophical point of view that human beings are robots, preprogrammed to live their lives, without any opportunity for self guidance."
"To me, it looks like the use of the word in the context of science gave it credibility, and when it lost its supreme position in that context, it became the scapegoat for man's well known propensity for "going with the flow (inevitably downhill)", whether it be for his/her own benefit or not. The context of the word in the world of astrology is obvious; there is a school of thought that astrology actually is valid and therefore the horoscope reveals in some manner those external forces within which context we have our existence. A rejection of "Determinism" on the grounds that science has toppled classical physics from its supreme position is now used to support the contention that astrology cannot possibly do what it advertises, because to do so would be an example of "Determinism", which Science has now "proven" not to exist."
"Does anyone else see anything wrong with all this?"
Yes, I accept that Bill's argument here is reasonable. However I feel I am on the other side of this paradigmatic divide, perhaps for reasons that are more cultural than philosophical. Language evolves with the times, and younger generations (OK, their philosophically literate components!) have come to equate determinism with mechanist-materialism. The result in the last couple of decades has been an escalating tendency to dismiss such beliefs as myopic and old-fashioned.
When I was a young fellow capitalising abstract nouns caused people to fail English tests. Is this American fashion a residual revolutionary compulsion Bill? Consulting Chambers for solipsism gives "the theory that self-existence is the only certainty, absolute egoism - the extreme form of
subjective idealism". "I think, therefore only I am", as Descartes would have said. Presumably other people then appear as rather disturbing features of one's psychic wallpaper. Anyway, this does not seem an appropriate antithesis of determinism to me.
However Bill's substantive point hinges on "the existence of external force", and internal/external forces. I can agree with the latter thesis provided these equate broadly with metapatterns, and/or archetypes. The concept of force has become questionable in science since Einstein. Some authors have been explicit in condemning it as misleading. Conversely common usage ought not to be discounted. Chambers gives "strength, power, energy: efficacy: validity: influence: vehemence: violence: coercion" as qualitative meanings of the noun; and push, thrust, compel, constrain, for the verb. Certainly there seems to be a force that constrains and coerces people and circumstances by subtle influence to produce the synchronous effect that astrologers have always described with `as above, so below'. Unfortunately, language being the communicative vehicle for culture, force tends to be interpreted as a scientific term to contradict such common usage. Consequently the traditional mechanist/materialist objection to astrology: `there is no detectable force that causes planets to affect people'.
Einstein thought it better to describe gravitation as the substance of space/time, to transcend the notion of gravity as a force. A similar view is that gravity warps space/time, or perhaps it is more correct to say that it warps Newtonian space and time. Thus the orbit of Mercury is qualitatively unique in comparison to the other planetary orbits, due to solar proximity.
Most scientists who comment on astrology assume the prior Newtonian meaning of force. In media debate, they consequently presume journalists and astrologers likewise interpret the term `force' to imply a material mechanism caused by the planets, which has a mechanical effect on life on Earth. Since no such force is detectable, they naturally claim it does not exist. Unless they think something is tangible, most scientists are inclined to dismiss it as imaginary - at best hypothetical, at worst occult.
Since determinism implies forces and material cause and effect relations, it evokes feelings of distaste in those of us brought up in the conceptual prison of the Newtonian paradigm. We have evolved into a more comprehensive understanding of how nature operates. If we use the concept of force we inevitably end up in a semantic tangle. Better to evolve more contemporary sophisticated descriptions of our belief system, incorporating terms that point to an emerging trans-disciplinary avante-garde consensus.
As to Bill's later objection to any attempt to deconstruct astrology, surely it would be better to judge it on its merits? Rather than assume destruction of something valuable, the process is just as likely to reveal a kernel of cosmic wisdom currently masked by obscure terminology, delusive malpractice, superstition, etc, etc. That said, such deconstruction will remain a straw man until someone actually claims to have performed it.
"Then there is the issue of "free will", which is said to be threatened by the validity of astrology. I note that there is no discernible definition of what "free will" might be, and so out of deference to the potential discussion of the subject, I will not offer unilateral commentary. Suffice it to say that in my view, the lack of any definition suggests that the issue is so poorly understood that any discussion of it lacks useful worth."
Baffles me that this keeps coming back, but that may just be because it is more than half a Saturn cycle since I resolved the issue to my own satisfaction. Perhaps I could therefore at least suggest a basis for a definition. Free will is the capacity of a person to make choices, and via the focus on goals, to strive for achievement of the results that they need and want in life.
In Ex4/71 Patrice Guinard advocates the matrix as model for comprehending the astrological effect. The general gist of this piece seems consistent with my own theoretical overview of the subject, but much of the detail is obscure due to language usage, so I will limit my response to a critique of a few points. Patrick Curry has made useful contributions to our understanding of how astrology was used in certain historical periods, but he may not be an astrologer and translation may have suffered - much as that of our primary classical sources did for the same reason.
It seems a mistake to presume too much in this mailing list: I believe the purpose of the list is best satisfied by forging consensus on the metaphysical foundations of the subject. Asserting existence of the matrix to this list is not sufficient to be persuasive; we need further explanation to facilitate common understanding. Is it what the eminent biologist Gregory Bateson called the metapattern, the `pattern that connects'? If so, I agree. Any individual may see a pattern, and via the astronomical paradigm we may readily achieve common perception of the pattern of the solar system, but common agreement on the existence of a deeper (occult) metapattern that connects planets and people requires supplementary reasoning.
Such reasoning is inherently metaphysical, I believe. But for all practical list purposes it probably equates with what Bill Tallman describes as philosophy and logic in the following selection from Ex4/70.... "Philosophy, among other things, was traditionally the field in which what we "don't" know was addressed. This has changed; that function has now been awarded to science, and as a result, the nature of philosophy itself has undergone a rather deep change. This does not mean, however, that philosophy no longer serves that function at all, but that it serves when science cannot. In the areas of interest where science has not found application, philosophy still serves to formulate hypotheoretical structures for the purpose of guiding further investigative action. A very potent weapon in the arsenal of philosophy is logic, which has been extremely well developed in recent times. It is logic that allows the work of philosophical investigation to interface with science.. "
So a focus on how the matrix manifests is required to illustrate the extent of potential agreement on whether it is real. If Patrice is unable to write English, then we are unlikely to maximise the benefit of any follow-through discussion. Some exploration of apparent patterns and consensual reality will still be fruitful. I presume we can dispense with the minimalist case of recognising only the apparent pattern of the solar system, agreed as paradigmatic reality by observers. I suggest equating Patrice's matrix with the metapattern of the solar system. This can be correlated via the key concepts of the holographic universe, the holarchy of nature, the `law of the whole', the archetypes of nature, etc, as outlined in my book ("The Astrologer and the Paradigm Shift", 1992) and in various of my previous contributions to this list. It is necessary to first conceive of an agency operating in nature that creates new wholes and then operates within them to coordinate the development of all parts in unison (Smuts, 1927, Rudhyar, 1936). This agency is the manifestation in nature of the number one archetype (Jung, Von Franz). It is then necessary to explain how the complexity of natural forms and processes proceeds from manifestation of the supplementary number archetypes, which I have only tentatively addressed here thus far although material abounds on 2, 3 & 4 and has always been at hand. It then is necessary to produce a theory of cycles, to explain how time cycles are generated in nature by the number archetypes, modes and elements. I did that in a lengthy 1985 article, "The Zodiacal Archetype", but have yet to deal with it here. Cultural manifestation ought then to be documented, on the assumption that those cycles most evident in cultural patterns ought to correlate with outer planet transits of the zodiac. I gather that Dale Huckeby and Andre Donnell have been working on this.
To quote Patrice: "To think astrology is thus to think the structuring relation of the geosolar environment to the psyche." This is indeed an accurate and succinct way of describing a prevalent contemporary understanding of the subject, but it is sufficiently reductionist as to exclude mundane and horary astrology, not to mention electional, financial and perhaps other branches of the subject that do not immediately spring to mind. There is an entire world outside the human psyche, and for two millennia astrology was applied to this exterior and not to our interior, which along with individual human beings was considered insignificant to the point of total irrelevance in the grand scheme of things. To be more explicit, astrology was applied to determine fate and fortune, of kings originally, sometimes cities, and later other influential people with money.
Patrice follows the semiotic logic of Charles Pierce in claiming that "reality appears to consciousness according to three distinctive modalities: as a sign, as an object, and as a state, or in other words as a mental, physical or psychic entity". The differentiation between mental and psychic here is novel, but I agree that different parts or functions of the mind are involved in producing this trinity. However, Patrice does not proceed to apply this analytic tool by way of demonstration of its utility. A shame, since doing so may have given strength to the claim. The glyph of Jupiter appears on the horoscope, and in the ephemeris, as sign of the location of the planet, object. The third element of the trinity, the state, appears as interior in the thesis of Patrice, but may it not also be the state of circumstances? Why reject the exterior, the real world to everyone else, in favour of the interior, real only to the subject?
I suspect the automatic response is that the semiotician has a focus solely on the mind: the object pictured within, symbolised within, interpreted within. Yet my initial reading of semiotics reveals an extensive cultural dimension, and indeed language is by definition a function of society. Focus on the individual psychological state must therefore be supplemented with focus on the state of affairs. The latter may be described as all individual psychological states, in theory, or the summation of all individual psychological states of those directly involved in the circumstances, in practice.
Patrice also claims that "mechanist theories have all failed : the elemental model of Ptolemy, issued from astro-meteorological conceptions, the theory of the stellar rays from Al-Kind=EE, the model of the harmonics by Kepler, the recent model of Percy Seymour..." Such assertions do not impress without explanations being provided as reasons for any perceived failure. If Patrice is merely expressing his personal aesthetic bias, a statement of that would induce more fruitful communication. I'm sure Kepler would be amazed that anyone would call his religious metaphysics `mechanist', likewise Ptolemy, and no doubt Seymour would find it only partly accurate of his theory. I wonder if Patrice is capable of providing a plausible reason why he considers Seymour's theory to have failed.
"Jung insisted on the fact that the principle of synchronicity does not explain anything, and excluded the possibility that it might apply to astrological reality : " One will do well to consider the results issued from the astrological theory as phenomena not related to synchronicity but possibly to causality."" [Patrice quotes Jung]
However Jung's perception did continue to evolve, with the result that his opinion of fundamental notions and their possible application did also, sometimes to apparently self-contradictory extent. It is unusual for an authority figure to be willing to live and learn, change his mind and thus seem inconsistent. I am aware that his definitions of synchronicity also evolved, as has the usage of the term in widening multi-disciplinary contexts in recent decades. The consensual meaning has condensed as `meaningful coincidence'. His scientific aspirations biased him against occult interpretations, and it was only in later life that collaboration with Pauli gave him the broader vision of archetypes of nature.
If he had got this earlier, `as above, so below' may have had a more profound effect on him. If he had intuited the metapattern in the synchronicity of earth and sky he might have gone on to learn from Rudhyar about the profound implications for the psyche. We know he was an inadequate astrologer: he was vastly impressed with the scarab beetle synchronicity (recycled since by so many authors) but it never seems to have occurred to him to erect a horoscope for that moment. I deduce therefore that the full multi-dimensionality of synchronicity was not revealed to him. He connected the psychological states within his client and himself with the appearance of the beetle knocking on the window pane, and the scarab in the dream, but failed to realise that archetypal features of that moment might be decoded by the horoscope and thus failed to connect the planetary and star-field positions to the other recognisable nodes of that momentary pattern.
Patrice goes on to provide a brief description of the primal function of the number archetypes, but is biased towards recycling Jung's inordinate focus on 4. It is better to follow Rudhyar and erect contemporary astrological theory upon the more primal functions of 1 & 2. I'm also uneasy about the neglect of 3. An enhanced focus on structural trinities will benefit us all. I have previously pointed out here that sex/reproduction is the obvious primal linkage between 2 & 3. We have 3 spatial dimensions, cardinal/fixed/mutable, past/present/future, but I have a hunch we can do better. Less fundamental, in the cultural sphere, we have the primary christian trinity of father, son, holy ghost and the secondary God/Mary/Jesus, plus the semiotic trinity signifier/relation/signified... There is a similar need to address 5 adequately: "the centre remains veiled, invisible" He means the origin point of the map - "You are here". This clearly relates, both in mind and in space, to the 4 directions emanating therefrom. It is not enough to recycle the traditional (hermetic?) notion that `5 is the number of man'. Why?
Patrice advocates matricial reason as the most productive for understanding astrology, but fails to sufficiently explain and illustrate this extremely useful suggestion. A matrix can simply be seen as a pattern, or metapattern, and the image alone can convey meaning in suitably resonant minds, but any supplementary logic available may be very helpful. I hope we will see more along these lines.
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 09:23:19 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: our quest, Aquarius, karma & dragons
Interesting stuff in Ex4/73, and glad to see Cynthia & Dale contributing again. I'm about to leave for 3 weeks holiday, but first I have a few reflections on our moderator's initial expectations, as copied from the archive 3.5 years ago...
In Ex1/1 Francis wrote: "My personal approach is to take what is at hand--my experience, my mind, my intuition--and to work with it and test it. I know something of astrology and I find it wonderfully worthwhi= le, but I also find certain aspects of it unsatisfying. I am, after all, a ch= ild of Western culture and a product of the 20th century, for all that implie= s about attitude and belief. To live in this era and to be a student of astrology is to present oneself with a unique perspective and to set before oneself a special set of problems to overcome. But perhaps this is true of any worthwhile quest. As I think it might be a good topic for discussion, I=92ll avoid delineat= ing my view of the perspective and problems I allude to above. But I would like to point out that such a perspective can be potentially perilous. When faced with the task of resolving the differences between modern attitudes and astrological attitudes, it is easy to grasp at any explanation of astrology that quells our fears and concerns without examining that explanation in detail. What I want to suggest is that we look at those explanations and defer seeking immediate resolution to the difficult issues posed by astrology, in the hopes that = we can dig deeper into the hard shell of the dilemma and bring back something worthwhile, for ourselves and for our peers."
"My purpose for proposing this discussion is to attempt to form some sort of ad hoc group of diverse viewpoints in order to examine the difficult issues posed by astrology. In some way what I=92m proposing, assuming a bit of Jungian lingo for a moment, is that we deal with the shadow of astrology. I believe that this is worthwhile, and that it is be= st performed in a group setting, and that it can be done thoughtfully, honestly and with humor. I also believe that it might be difficult to achieve anything of worth, and that results are my no means certain. In some way this is an electronic quest, but how does one turn it into a meaningful experience? How does one maintain a human perspective in such an abstract medium?"
Like Fran, I use my mind and intuition to test new ideas against the framework of my experience and understanding. This means assessing relevance to an internal context, composed partly of personal experience = and partly learnt social belief system (ruling paradigm). When the new ideas are the old ideas of astrology, the modern Western civilised person of ou= r times can be expected to struggle to make sense of an alien belief system. This struggle with (what venerable NY astrologer, the late Al H Morrison = in 1984 in feature article of the CAO Times called) a clash of paradigms can indeed seem a quest, as Fran suggests. The problems and grasping at semi-plausible straws seem more to be evident in the behaviour of some astrologers than others - participators in alt.astrology. moderated seem = now to avoid any focus on such negatives. I think this is evidence of postmodernism: these presumably younger folk seem relaxed in discussing astrology as received group wisdom. They can switch paradigms as easily = as sunglasses. The questions of validity, universality, conformity with oth= er branches of knowledge, do not arise in their minds.
So we cannot assume that our motivation to `dig deeper into the dilemma' = is shared by other astrologers. It is more likely that this endeavour will make them insecure if not paranoid.
I agree, therefore, with the suggestion that "we deal with the shadow of astrology". More focus on this, and exploration of it, is needed. Not easy, sure. Hard enough dealing with one's personal shadow, which one at least has some lengthy familiarity with, let alone a collective shadow wh= ich few of us have addressed at all.
Maintaining "a human perspective in such an abstract medium" seems to be achievable. At least, my participation here these past few months has ma= de me feel that human relating between real people has been happening. The interplay between personal experience (and consequent bias) and collectiv= e understanding (group mind) seems to be negotiated knowingly by current participants. This is the Leo/Aquarius polarity, where we are all individual performers on a common stage. Each performance we write is a transitory vehicle for our own ego, a chance for our star to shine, but o= f no consequence to others unless resonance occurs. The abstract medium (internet, list and archive) produces the communication process, catalyse= s resonances between our individual minds, enshrines the discourse. This network is Aquarius, particularly as manifested in enduring form.
I think in the terms outlined above by Francis progress is being made her= e. Like-mindedness will generate only if appropriate. We only learn somethi= ng new when we are ready for it. It was easy enough for me to integrate astrology with science because I learn fast, and took the pragmatic appro= ach of separating the components of astrological theory, philosophy & practic= e which seemed credible from those which didn't. I can see now that I must have performed a deconstruction of astrology without realising it. The issue for me now is how to transcend the limits reached via personal effo= rt, and a more extensive collective deconstruction may be the way to get ahea= d. The personal intuitive approach pays off in rapid personal evolutionary development, but you can't readily communicate the insights to others. Sharing the profound insights gained requires a basis of common understanding to start with, which then ought to become refined and exten= ded by discourse. We seem to be making some headway here, even if we are sti= ll developing the common vocabulary required as necessary vehicle for sharin= g insights.
I equate paradigms with Aquarius. That's because I have always followed Rudhyar in accessing the essence of the sign archetype from the combinati= on of element and mode. Fixed air is an informational pattern. Computers a= re designed to give form to such patterns. Our minds produce culture from t= he composition, acquisition, and recombination of these patterns. Concepts, logic, perception, reasoning, intuition, comprehension and explanation ar= e combined in our thought and communication processes, but it is the result= ant pattern of belief that is Aquarius. These belief systems, or paradigms, = are essentially collective. They are cultural patterns that connect individu= als to a group or society.
The most prevalent manifestation of the Aquarian archetype in our civilisation is science. Prior to that it was religious doctrine. Ideol= ogy is a typical Aquarian form, as is the computer program, as are plans and = any other fixed informational patterns. Morphogenetic fields seem to operate= as vehicles for these, or perhaps equate to them; the biological pattern of our bodies remains constant while we shed millions of cells each day. Ne= w humans continue to manifest the same characteristic form according to nature's plan of the species. Aquarius is what gives our group a context of inherent meaning, which we struggle, with increasing success, to find words to describe. No man is an island. We are individual nodes in the pattern which connects.
The language of astrology is potentially better able to describe the metapattern than science, because it addresses common experience at the archetypal level. But it currently does so in a most inadequate manner, leaving vast areas of potential improvement to be neglected by most astrologers. This decade has seen the globalising of culture become the prevailing trend of the times, so astrologers ought to refrain from laggi= ng behind if they want to demonstrate contemporary relevance.
[Francis, in Ex1/1] "I don't want to tell people what they can and canno= t discuss, I want to find a consensus for treating "low-level" concerns: Wh= at is astrology? How does it work? What about the contradictions? What do we know about astrology from the past? What philosophical basis do we have i= n the modern world, when the modern world seems to reject the implications = of astrology?"
Some answers... Astrology is foremost a belief system, a constellation o= f beliefs, a (once-ruling) paradigm. It is practised vastly more as an art than science, but as Bill Sheeran has suggested, it is even more widely practised as a craft. Rules followed by the practitioner are paradigmati= c, inasmuch as they provide examples to be followed. They are not, inasmuch= as conformity to such rules is neither required nor expected. Hopefully readers will be aware that I am invoking here two different Kuhnian meani= ngs of paradigm. The best approach to "the contradictions" is to focus on th= em, explore them and explain them. The main thing "we know about astrology f= rom the past" is that it was significantly different in each historical perio= d and in each culture (and in each practitioner as far as we can tell), but only if "we" means those prepared to focus on differences. The philosophical basis in the modern world must be derived from the archetyp= es of nature, particularly as they can be identified as manifesting in natur= al forms and processes, and such related premises as holistic relations and = the qualitative variation in time cycles.
"I'd like to avoid questions about interpretations: "What does Mercury square Pluto mean?", that is, there are other places to ask those kinds o= f questions. I'd like to focus on questions like: "Why do we use squares? Where did aspects come from? When did minor aspects appear? What are the systems of aspects being used?", etc. And that might lead to orbs..."
How about refining more precise descriptions of the astrological archetyp= es, in order to improve the efficacy of the language? This means suggesting answers rather than asking questions, a presumption of rectitude that is anathema to those in "other places", most of whom seem to be sufficiently young as to reject the possibility of getting it right, or even improveme= nt. Squares and other Ptolemaic aspects come from the cardinal points and subsidiary zodiacal divisions, by analogy and Pythagorean reasoning, so f= ar as I know. Minor aspects were invented by Kepler, with octiles being promoted by Reinhold Ebertin as key features of cosmobiology a few decade= s back, and the theory of harmonics emerging as the main aspect system via John Addey in the '70s. To some degree the qualitative variation of phas= e relations in time cycles must have been derived from empirical observatio= n. Such intuitions form part of the artistry, thus don't get recorded. Aspe= cts in Ptolemy were house relations derived from analogous sign relations, merely rough approximate geometry. Orbs are simply rules of thumb that h= ave coalesced by convention, to measure variation of intensity of the apparen= t phase relation.
Introductions of new participants? Hasn't happened. Fran wrote "we do need to know who is here and I=92d like to suggest we tell something of ourselves such that others might understand who we are, rather than post a short resume. I=92ll start with a short description of what seems impor= tant about my attitudes and thinking. I was born in the foothills of Western Pennsylvania ( USA) and grew up there thinking the world was such and such and so and so. At some point, at age 14 or 15, I stumbled upon a Whole Earth Catalog in the library and suddenly realized that the world was not as limited as I had supposed, here were people doing things I=92d never imagined anybody but the truly great artists, thinkers and adventurers in history would be able to do. Following my instincts, I delved into all of the exciting things I=92d newly been exposed to, art= and music and everything else I now gave myself permission to explore. One major focus ended up being the I Ching and Taoist ideas. I was amazed to discover that divination still existed in the world, I had supposed it a dead art! Later, at university, I had an older mentor figur= e say to me that my Eastern studies were well and good, but that I should also look into the Western traditions. I took his suggestion on faith and began studying, at some point it became "obvious" that astrology was the " Queen of the West", so I visited the astrology book store, walked out the door with books by Meyers and Rhudyar, and an ephemeris and table of house, and 18 years later, here I am. I find Taoism, divination and astrology as the "three pillars" of my inne= r life, but I really don=92t have anything to say about the first two. Astrology, on the other hand, has really captured my mind and attention, and by an odd series of circumstances and efforts to better understand astrology, I=92ve started this group. So, post your own short introduction if you like..."
Well I felt my ideas were more important than my history, so didn't. But= I do appreciate the above, and feel the suggestion is not only sensible but likely to facilitate communication. Introductions provide a significant depth to our group context. Without them, I have struggled to figure out why some things that I expected to get ready agreement on produced little= or no resonance. Our biases are shaped by our past, and our conditioning. Collective progress occurs when the cross-fertilisation of ideas extends consensus, and this will happen more if we know where each other is comin= g from. On the other hand, of course, categorising each other as slaves to= a specialist mind-set will obviously inhibit consensus!
Moving on.. karma has both individual and collective dimensions. Fran wr= ote "I want people who are going to think as opposed to spouting dogma. For instance, some folks like to bandy about "karma" but seem to have no idea what karma really means in its original context, and then suppose that th= ey can talk about karma in a chart with authority. But there's no way we can check a person's karma with our "normal" human abilities. And what basis do we have for supposing that we should advise others about THEIR karma? So, if the subject of karma comes up, the discussion is NOT going to be about "How to detect karma in a chart", but rather: "What do we know about karma? Where did the idea come from? What does it mean? What are the ethical concerns surrounding making claims about a person's karma? Is "karmic astrology" reliable?" and so on. Although not part of my original reply, I now note that my suggestion abo= ut how to handle that topic is not exhaustive, and that perhaps we might want to talk about "techniques" if it serves the discussion and/or illuminates the issue of karma."
Yes, I confess to being relieved by that latter part! First, I will asse= rt my perception that it must be profoundly significant that we in Western civilisation did not evolve our own word for karma. If we did, and it ha= s not come to my attention, someone please inform me. I noticed there's a town in the USA called `Truth or Consequences', which always struck me as being vaguely profound. I seem to recall having learnt about karma aroun= d adolescence, though there was no word for it. That is, sufficient similarity of experience had produced pattern recognition, and my right brain would let me know that not adhering to the truth would have nasty consequences. Cheating is normal to animals, a vital survival skill, but= I had noticed that I tended to not get away with it although others did. Becoming an astrologer revealed that the 12th was my most tenanted house. To me, this correlated with the distant memory of learning about karma wh= en that strange concept first appeared in the Western media (mid-late '60s, Beatles/Maharishi) and realising I had already sussed it out internally a= s a psychological mechanism a few years earlier.
I believe consequences and karma are precipitated naturally by 12th house transits, but this will be more evident in the lives of those with natal planets in the 12th. I believe this as the result of quite a few years o= f empirical findings. This empiricism is merely the accumulated result of many reality checks, in which the theory was compared to the actual outco= me. By theory, I mean that conclusions of processes occur in the 12th phase o= f a cycle, where phase is defined as 30 degree divisions of time. I am not suggesting that any of this is scientific, or even rigorous, merely a reasonably consistent attempt to discover if the meaning of the 12th hous= e as outlined by Tracy Marks and a few others is basically correct. My opinion has continuously been firming up from the original tentative but sceptical support. Such mundane circumstances as solitude and isolation = are typical and to be expected. Secrecy and the occult/hidden may be relevan= t issues. The latter may merely involve the personal subconscious, and/or = the collective unconscious, but the extent varies widely from case to case it seems. The retreat or seclusion motivation is typically evident. But ka= rma itself has only a tangential relation to all this.
We have no basis whatsoever for advising others about their karma, so far= as I can see, with one qualification. While I do not believe we can "detect karma in a chart", we certainly can suggest possible karmic consequences. For instance, natal planets in the 12th in hard aspect to other planets/a= xes are likely to signify how the `owner' may precipitate karmic consequences. I recall having another astrologer for client once, sent me by a mutual friend who is also an astrologer. Though the client was previously unkno= wn to me, I had no qualms whatsoever in pointing out that natal Mars in the 12th square Midheaven means there is a danger of self-undoing. The reaso= n for the reading was difficulties encountered in managing hostilities and getting other astrologers to work productively together with client in an astrological society! Strangely, it had never occurred to client to pay much attention to natal Mars. But then, it was `hidden' in the 12th. Od= d, too, you might think, for a male to disown natal Mars, the male planet. = But I got prompt agreement when I pointed out that transits to natal Mars/Midheaven were the likely times when an isolating event could be precipitated by inadvertent self-defeating actions or activities. So I advised being real careful at such times, and that learning to manage self-assertion would reduce any incidence of loss and suffering (I'm summarising).
The mystery of karma lies in the connections of the individual to the collective. In the 12th, these tend to be universal and obscure. Someon= e acting forcefully with good intent can easily trigger compensating reacti= ons unknown to them in anyone else even peripherally involved. Chaos & butterfly wings. The subtle wash and backflow of mutual feelings can produce responses in people who are unaware of them or their `cause', wit= h the result that the collective produces a `secret enemy' in response to t= he actions of the actor. Karma is multi-dimensional. I have increasingly tended to interpret the Sun/house position in reincarnational terms, desp= ite having no past-life memories, simply because it seems to make more sense. Dragon's tail is our connection to the past, in an evolutionary sense, an= d planets conjunct sometimes suggest generational karma to me. With the ou= ter planets this is more likely, and cases can also produce racial karma correlations. I see these only as suitable lines of enquiry. As far as Schulman's `karmic astrology' and other even more inadequate essays into conjectural theory are concerned, I was never impressed.
"Given that we know of no physical "force" to account for it, to what or where do we ascribe astrological "influences"?" We have addressed this question of Fran's fairly thoroughly, via the form in which it was eventually rephrased by Bill Tallman. The others, below, are also worth recycling.
"Given the time and place of an event, and by extension the celestial sph= ere and the celestial bodies, by what thoughts or organizing principles do we assign meaning to various components used by astrologers? That is, given = the horizon, meridian, ecliptic, etc., how do we proceed in order to associat= e meaning with these components, and at what stages in this process are we sure or less sure of our understanding of why we make those associations? Example: house systems are often debated, but these are "later" in the process, what about the horizon? What about the meridian? Was astrology psychological before psychology was recognized as "true"? T= hat is, at some point in the past, the psychological attributes of a person w= ere possibly not considered "real", or were unnamed, or not considered at all. We carry a tradition from "pre-psychological" times, is our modern understanding of astrology, and all of the psychological associations we bring to it, something that WE imposed on astrology? Or??? How can horary astrology possibly work?"
I have addressed the first section above here, much as Rudhyar did, but w= e certainly ought to go further. He explained the structuring effect of horizon and meridian on the psyche, in developing his Jungian model. The horizon is our primary visual and interactional locus. The meridian is rather secondary. We walk erect and mostly interact that way, and our individual poles (spinal column) are thus normally aligned to the zenith = and nadir of each moment of space/time unfolding in our locality. Our perception normally has a horizontal focus in consequence of our eyes opening vertically. The secondary orientation (to the meridian) comes fr= om the daily peak of the Sun's impact at noon, providing a median locus to t= he experiential day. One might also postulate reinforcement from the approximate coincidence of magnetic and geographic poles, and any consequ= ent electromagnetic body/mind alignments.
As regards astropsychology prior to this century, it was nonexistent. If you examine the writings of 19th century (and earlier) astrologers, you g= et a major focus on fate/fortune supplemented by a minor focus on character features. However these features are purely type categories, often deriv= ed from traditional social functions. Such as martial (warrior), but I regre= t not currently having time to provide source quotes as better illustration= of this point. Even Alan Leo and other astrologers early this century had n= ot integrated psychology. Rudhyar was the pioneer (some claim the impenetra= ble ME Jones) with Charles Carter concurrently in Britain in (more superficia= l) support. I feel in retrospect that Rudhyar's transformation of the horoscope from indicator of fate and fortune to model of the psyche is audacious in its conceptual scope, to a revolutionary extent that is insufficiently celebrated. I seem to recall the statement that character= is destiny originated from Alan Leo, and it is a profound insight as well as rationale for the development of Rudhyar's model, but Leo never transcend= ed the esoteric/spiritual framework grafted onto astrology by the theosophic= al paradigm. Rudhyar managed such transcendence sufficiently to perform the extensive and substantial innovations that many modern astrologers assume were always part of astrology.
I have long had a number of friends who are astrologers. Any such microc= osm of the astrocommunity demonstrates the remarkable internal consistency of the contemporary astrological paradigm. Conversation on the subject tend= s to be wide-ranging and fluent, unlimited by the boundary issues associate= d with the astrology/science interface and those deriving from the interfac= e with christianity in prior decades. This despite my personal bias toward engaging such issues (residual nostalgic relishing of memories of dragon-slaying - alas, the dragons of yore lurk round here no more..). T= his tacit recognition that paradigms are portable frames of reference to be swapped or discarded at whim seems characteristic of the '90s. Here we c= an see merit in postmodernism. My inner sceptic still performs reality chec= ks, and tends still to excuse my vocation as astrologer as a controlled folly= a la Castenada. But assimilating the latter stance is nigh on a Saturn cyc= le ago, and maybe retaining any control at all is now folly, to younger astrologers anyway. Can shared fancies suffice, when reality is so moot?
I have come to consider the possibility that the archetypes of the zodiac= al signs may have an evolutionary component, and in the current phase of globalising culture that characterises this decade, we are actually experiencing transitional development in these archetypes without being aware of it. Unaware because we blithely recycle, discuss, and project o= ur personal understanding of the signs, because we have become familiar to t= hem and attached to them, rather than studying current outer planet transits = to discover what is really going on around us. Francis is right to suggest, above, that we impose our modern (postmodern) understanding on astrology. But I suspect that so did prior astrologers in like fashion. It is human= to collectively project a fashionable description onto reality. If it makes sense to people it will stick and become a paradigm. When jealous white males rule, the creator get personified as a jealous white male. We inherited one who was proud enough to boast about it ("I, thy god, am a jealous god.") demonstrating the Leo archetype in pillars of fire and burning bushes etc and the Aquarius archetype in 10 commandments, an airy doctrine so fixed it had to be carved on stone. Nowadays we get our operating system etched on silicon chips, equally Aquarian. The question remains, however, whether the deeper plan, the metapattern, is embedded hard-wired in body and mind, conducting us in concert regardless of any discordant fashionable soap-opera that captures our attention as distractions from, or simulations of, reality.
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 75
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