|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #78
Exegesis Digest Fri, 22 Oct 1999
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 06:36:24 +1300
From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: catching up
In 4/73 Bill Tallman wrote the following... "How can we understand "elements", "modes", "humours", "rulerships", etc., etc.? To the modern mind, they make no discernable sense at all, unless they are taken allegorically; in that case, it devolves into a polite battle between different schools of mythical interpretation, yielding nothing of worth, I suggest."
"In any case, if there is any validity at all to the work of Alan Leo, then this is what we have and where we must start to look, I think. I can imagine a process of gathering all these concepts and ordering them in the manner in which they appear to have been generally applied, and then looking in other cultures for similar and/or analogous concepts. The sought result would be a more complete compendium of how they were defined and used, with an eye to noting both commonalities and significant differences. This would certainly lead us well beyond the bounds of astrology proper, and would serve to elucidate how astrology was embedded in the fundamental cosmology common to all cultures and usages."
Firstly, the elements correlate so tidily to the states of matter that it is obvious that they can be equated. Solid = Earth, Liquid = Water, Gas = Air, Energy = Fire. This correspondence between ancient/modern metaphysical labels and modern scientific terms is a foundation of the matricial logic Patrice is advocating.
Secondly, modes require a sophisticated metaphysical perception to cognite, but I suspect even a scientist could eventually come to agree that natural processes are either beginning, enduring, or mutating, at any point of time. It requires them merely to examine natural processes from both a temporal and a generic point of view.
Humours seem irrelevant these days, but a person afflicted by an excessive influence of a particular planetary archetype may demonstrate correlating physical symptoms.
Rulerships are easy to understand from Ptolemy, given the cultural context of his time. Stellar religions were widespread, and any perception of a planetary archetype in those days was deemed evidence of the influence of the divinity associated with that planet. The concept of rulership seems originally to have meant both dominion and domain, by analogy with the territorial power of human rulers. The gods were allocated zodiac domains in arbitrary fashion, apparently due to spurious correlations made for religious reasons in different cultures at different periods. That's why Ptolemy contradicted the earlier Greek rulerships given by Plato: he lived in the east, and further (north-)east lived most of the star-worshippers. Documentation of this stuff is sparse and sketchy. Fagan and Gleadow managed better with exaltations, and I believe that system was later confused/blended to produce the tradition Ptolemy recycled. The actual rationale Ptolemy provided was laughable: Sun rules Leo, Moon rules Cancer, Mercury is next fastest so must rule the two signs adjacent to both, Venus is next fastest so must rule the next two either side, likewise Mars, then Jupiter, then Saturn.
I tend to agree with Bill that any usage of allegorical reasoning to explain such constituent components of astrological theory to "the modern mind" is likely to prove unproductive. Arch-sceptic Geoffrey Dean: "There are lies, damned lies, and symbols." [AA journal, late '70s] Bit melodramatic, and I always thought he had missed the point. I interpret Bill's point as being that symbols tend to proliferate meanings, thus induce confusion. Dean's point seems to be that they are so delusive as to produce disinformation. My point is that symbols do indeed not mean the same thing to everyone, so are an unreliable method of communication, but some symbols do approach universality of meaning, particularly when they represent an archetype of nature.
As regards Alan Leo, I have had many opportunities but could never bring myself to buy one of his books. However, since he was the portal for our century, Bill's suggestion for an analytical project (dare I say deconstruction?) may suitably begin there. Do you want to take this initiative , Bill? Perhaps some more specific outline of how to proceed would be good. I compiled a few historical (astrological) research papers in bygone years with a similar intent, and would be happy to contribute them. Further to that, I have a few reprints from which I could quote on particular topics. Leo's immediate predecessor in the 19th century, for instance ("The Textbook of Astrology", AJ Pearce, 1879, 1911, 1970). Relevant quote (p30): "The Alphabet of Astrology has 32 symbols..."
I have photocopies of a fair bit of Placidus ("Primum Mobile", tr.1814) and Firmicus Maternus, along with modern reprints of Manilius and Aratus. I have Lilly, but only as bastardised by Zadkiel, not the more recent edition. I have Valens, courtesy of ARHAT's Greek tract subscription, but lack Bonatti and the Arabs. I am unable to feel sanguine about the prospects of progress from fossicking amongst these old bones, however. The most it will get us is informed about our skeletal tradition.
To explain complexity, Bill later wrote: "somewhere in the arena of complexity is a realm of negative entropy, the conditions and placement of which is always changing as the forces of order and chaos mandate. Life struggles to stay within that realm. Absolute indeterminacy is chaos and absolute opacity is order: both are default states and are fatal. Cohesiveness is the quality of temporal and spacial boundedness, which confers identity and continuity." Yes, this is a better way of looking at nature. Chaos theory turns out to have been a bit of a misnomer. The emergence of natural forms occurs at the interface between chaos and order. Boundary issues are rife, and endemic. At the margins, nature is inherently creative. The computer images of fractal patterns model those of nature, and the repetition of those `self-similar' at different scales illustrates how archetypes transcend scale.
Bill commented on Seymour's interpretation(s) of Bell's theorem... "This is why I look somewhat askance at this sort of assumptive interpretation activity. It presumes a knowledge of the mechanisms involved, and that has turned around and bitten the presumer more times than those people are comfortable recalling, yet they have to say something, I suppose." Yes, I have that ambivalence too, for those reasons.
Bill Sheeran followed with some commentary on one of my prior contributions... "One of the more interesting developments in the field has been the recognition that it is possible to exploit the understanding of non-linear dynamics to "control" chaotic behaviour. My feeling is that this might throw up some valuable insights in relation to making choices when the astrological pressure gets a bit challenging in coincidence with contexts which are already "far from equilibrium". Stabilisation as opposed to bifurcation (this latter not necessarily being a "bad thing")."
This seems pretty far out. Just a hunch or can you expand on it, Bill? I can see how a bifurcation seems to be sensed internally as being torn in two incompatible directions at times. Like, stability comes from going to work to pay the bills and build your savings, but when it becomes a rut maybe you get the urge to jump on a plane for a week in Bali, or the Riviera, with your favoured partner. Perhaps if a suitable Uranus transit motivates the feeling, you actually do bifurcate and make the lunge for freedom.
Bill then made a substantial point about Seymour's theory... "I'm not a great fan of the mechanical modelling of astrology, even though I accept that it is not effort wasted exploring that aspect, and it has its place in the overall scheme. In other words I don't see it as having an all encompassing explanatory power. However, if there are non-linear considerations involved in that model, then theoretically there is room for small causes (i.e. planetary gravitational effects) having disproportionately large effects. A sensitive dependence on initial conditions when the system is far enough from equilibrium."
Normally I see such lateral possibilities, but I missed this one. May the non-linearity explain, or enhance, such real world effects as stochastic resonance? If we can produce a good reason to believe that our biological clocks have hands that correlate with planetary cycles we'd make a major advance.
I liked your discussion of divination & augury Bill; it seems your perspective is similar to my own. "The reason astrology is so flakey is that the air element is out of fashion." Hmm. Well, I certainly have yet to see any substantial creative conceptualising by astrologers during the current Aquarius transits. About half a century of Libra produced a fair bit of progress, but that's history now. "There's also a strong unconscious mechanistic sub-text to the way astrology is perceived today which reflects 20th century education. In my opinion, it is the divinatory aspect of astrology which will prove to be of most interest to cognitive science in the future. Physical explanations (or rather efforts at them) will be seen in retrospect as quite quaint." I've long felt this way myself, which is why I took off down the road of innovative metaphysics. Perhaps I just interpret divining in too restrictive a manner to want to promote the divinatory aspect of astrology, but I'll reflect on it. I agreed with your subsequent social commentary, Bill, and like you I played the role of astrologer as subversive. Your final comment about postmodernism is interesting, but I can't see much emerging from the trend as yet.
Then Dale Huckeby wrote this: "I have a far better sense of Uranus/Neptune than Neptune/Pluto. At the moment I see the latter cycle more clearly in terms of the more or less distinct eras it marks off - early antiquity (c. 576-83 BC), late antiquity (83 BC-411 AD, the dark ages (411-904), and the feudal period (904-1398) - than in terms of the details of the transition periods, which I think are probably thirty to sixty years long. Only the most recent cycle, 1398 to 1892, fails to correspond to a recognized historical period.. "
Well, regardless of how fuzzy the boundary period is, the 1890s sure saw a fount of inventions from Tesla, the wizard. Possibly also from Edison, the capitalist, who may have begun earlier. Check those bios. I still recall from school exams that refrigeration was 1882, one of the key societal transformations.
History books put the fall of the Roman Empire at 410, when Alaric the Goth sacked Rome. The other dates don't ring any memory bells for me. This line of enquiry is based on a low signal to noise ratio, so it will not be easy. I can see two approaches. One is to begin from historically-recognised divisions, as Dale has done. The other is to begin from the outer-planetary archetypes, which is more difficult. First one must describe those two to be used, in as pithy and succinct a manner possible, preferably via the right keywords. Then one must describe how their union manifests in societal impact and cultural terms, in theory. Then one must find examples from history which match. Academic respectability for the thesis would loom if documentation of such consistent matches of theory and history were to be established by use of previously published quotes by historians. The quote matches must have both temporal and qualitative dimensions.
Such is an ideal technique, but in the real world things don't fall into place so tidily. Now we know what it means for humans and societies to be non-linear systems, we must try to shed our conditioned expectation of tidy correlations. But even if we do, others will not, so we can't expect to impress them, even if we find what we are looking for. Landmark correlations are the ideal reality check: what year did the printing press debut, and does it slot into the framework as expected?
Dale's periods, as given above, provide a reasonable outline as a guide, upon which to proceed. But I feel the need to measure this against the framework of history as taught. What is the Medieval period, and when? When are the Middle Ages, and why are they called that? When was the Renaissance, and why did it get that name? Likewise for the Enlightenment. You all will hopefully see that I am querying the two dimensions I referred to above; the temporal coordinates and the meaning.
Dale quotes Kuhn: "technology flourished without significant substantive input from the sciences until about one hundred years ago. The emergence of science as a prime mover in socioeconomic development was not a gradual but a sudden phenomenon, first significantly foreshadowed in the organic-chemical dye industry of the 1870s, continued in the electric power industry from the 1890s, and rapidly accelerated since the 1920s. To treat these developments as the emergent consequences of the Scientific Revolution is to miss one of the radical historical transformations constitutive of the contemporary scene."
Whilst I agree he has a point here, it really depends whether it is too much of an over-simplification. I recall Galileo was beaten to the telescope by the Dutch optical specialist, Huygens. Spectacles certainly married technology with science to create industry, since the 15th century, or was it the 14th?
Also, any history of technology would be the ideal book resource from which to itemise a list of key inventions that changed the world. Such publications abound, but is that all we are looking for? Invention is Uranus, transformation Pluto, but perhaps profound evolutionary development in human society also arises from other mass motivations. Cue Neptune. Is it just a coincidence that the 1890s was the decade of the Theosophical Society? And Alan Leo. Rudhyar was born then too.
Dale, you no doubt are aware of the eurocentric bias inherent in all this. But our choice of civilisations and societies to analyse masks another profound dimension of the subject. Why do some human collectives evolve, but others remain static? Is there some profound difference in how the outer planets operate in a society geared closely to nature, the seasonal cycle, and with no concept of progress? I believe so, and it that it is as simple as a collective collusion in adhering to a norm in which the psychological drives produced by the outer-planet archetypes remain dormant.
India is geared to the wheel of karma, in which time is the ever-turning circle. Capitalists and scientists are geared to progress, linear time. Me, I evolve on the spiral of life. Combining the traditions of west and east seems the best way to get ahead these days. Familiarity with the pattern of archetypes helps one stay in tune with the cyclic changes, and the ever-fresh context provides options for the ratchet of progress. But I happen to have been born with the outer planets closely wired to my axes and inner planets, so I guess that's why I grew up with them motivating me, and why it all made sense when I became an astrologer and immediately started using them consciously. I can't generalise on this basis. Teenagers rebel, everyone knows, so we have a basis for generalising the societal/developmental influence of Uranus. Young adults dream, seek inspiration, and live for their ideals. But not all of them, many seem to conform mechanically to the prevailing status quo. I'd rate Neptune a partial factor in normal social development, and Pluto not at all.
Finally, in 4/76 Patrice Guinard has followed up with some elaborating comments in response to my brief feedback to his debut piece. Patrice, my schoolboy French from the early '60s is sure to be much less adequate than your English! Can you get a colleague proficient in both languages to help you get the finer points across? If not, too bad. I definitely get the impression that your astrophilosophy is similar to mine, at least in this basic respect: "the star is IN-SIGN, "IMPRESSIONAL", i.e. an interior sign, not cause, not even symbol ; psychic-astral, not mental nor physical" seems to have the same meaning as `an archetype underlying star and sign'.
I suppose I broadly agree with your objection to astrological models being too based on physics, even if you may be in danger of over-stating the point. At the interface, any credible model will need to seem consistent with physics, which is why I have spent a fair bit of time in this list and chapters in my book providing relevant contemporary material to demonstrate the conceptual foundations of such an endeavour. Your point about branches of astrology deriving from historical misunderstandings is one I agree with - I've long had suspicions of this nature. Your point about studying the historical development of astrology is one I agreed with totally since I first started learning the subject - I absorbed all sources that were available.
Patrice may be going too far in dismissing horary with the placebo effect - I've seen some impressive case studies. However, like prediction, they always seem successful in retrospect. Dennis Elwell, reliable source of quality writing on astrology, remarked some months ago that he looked for the limousines of the horary experts when attending astrological conferences, but they never seemed to be there.
I'm intrigued by the abstract Patrice has outlined, while not being able to grasp the details. Terminology looms as a problem, but those of us fluent in English also wrestle with it, so it may not be insurmountable. The imprint hypothesis is a long-standing favourite amongst astrologers capable of comprehending such models of how the cosmos appears to endow people with a character and destiny indicated by their birth moment. I used to subscribe to it, but these days I'm inclined to see it as too simplistic.
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 19:31:45 +0900
From: Candy Hillenbrand
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #66
At 09:44 PM 14-08-99 EDT, Dennis wrote in reply to Bill S:
> >"There has to be a better word than mechanism to describe morphogenetic
> >fields and the holomovement." Perhaps there is, but it has not occurred to
> >me. OK, a challenge to all current (and imminent) contributors here: find
> >and report this better word, please!
Dennis, perhaps you have put your perceptive finger on the crux of the issue here! This is a fine challenge and I will need to give it much thought. It is clear too that the word or words we use to describe the "astrological effect" or "mechanism" are crucial. There are also some who question the whole notion of "mechanism". Words have all sorts of etymological roots, historical and sociocultural associations, accretions of meaning, and so forth. Hitting on the 'right' or a better word is one thing, even reaching a group consensus on what we think we all mean is another. But we also need to have a common consensus and understanding of what that word *means* to each of us. I somehow doubt whether we could find one with which we all agree, but I may be wrong of course.
> >Candy wrote (Ex4/63): "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."
> >Do you have any particular intuition about this, Candy? Any correlation
> >with astrological categories, I mean. I have sometimes, in the past decade
> >or so since they started showing up, checked these books out briefly in
> >bookstores, but never found one that seemed to feature anything substantial.
> >I therefore assumed the concept was just more new-age artifice. Being a
> >Sufi tradition is news to me, so maybe the substance is there to be
I do believe there is much substance to be discovered within the Enneagram, although I suspect the more esoteric aspects may still be obscured. I first learned of it, in very sketchy form, in "The Harmonious Circle" by James Webb, a fine book which explores the lives and work of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky et al. What I read really piqued my interest and I had to know more. My subsequent explorations proved slightly disappointing. I'm still unsure what my own "number" is. But that's by the by, for I did encounter others in Enneagram workshops etc who had the "conversion" experience that can occur with the revelation of one's enneagram typology, much like the sometimes revelatory and initiatory experience of one's first chart reading.
The current literature which graces our new age bookstore shelves does not really impart what seems to be a very mystical aspect of the enneagram, rooted as it is in the Sufi tradition. Many of these books are more psychological in nature. If you are interested in the substance of the enneagram, I would start with Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, studying the Sufi tradition, and the Jesuit connection. The best contemporary book I have discovered, [although my Enneagram phase peaked about 6 years ago, and there may be others now] ... is "Discovering the Enneagram - An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey" by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert. The authors are steeped in the Christian tradition and this permeates the book, but it is also scholarly and they successfully impart the spiritual roots of the enneagram [ie. its underlying purpose as "a way to God"] which other books fail to do.
As for correlations with astrological categories... that's a tricky area. The thoughts I have had are purely speculative. From my study, I could find no clearcut correlations between the 9 enneagram types and the twelve signs. I suspect that rather than including the realm of the galactic [Uranus, Neptune, Pluto], the enneagram types relate more to the worldly and earthly 'dharma' of humanity. I speculate that the 9 types may correspond with the 'personal' planets/lights out to Saturn, but not including Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Chiron. From this perspective, I can then look at the enneagram types and tentatively equate each with a particular planetary meaning. But there are still fuzzy areas...
You go on to say...
> >There are two points of interest here: the first, why 9?
Good question, to which I have no good answer. The number nine, of course, features throughout history, cosmology, religion and mythology as an important 'spiritual' number. No doubt a deeper excursion into the realm of number, symbology and story may reveal more insights.
If nothing else, it is made up of the fundamental trinity multiplied by itself. The enneagram is structured as three trinities, each with a particular relationship to each other. All the numbers are connected in a particular and intriguing pattern. Each number is connected to two other numbers in the pattern, one pointing to the pathway of integration, and the other to the pathway of regression and disintegration.
> >The second; I
> >know with my feelings, my intuition, and my memory. Experientially, I am
> >aware that these are different sources of knowledge. Do they correlate
> >directly with head/heart/gut? Memory indeed seems to correlate with head,
> >feeling with gut, but I'm not so sure about intuition and heart.
I couldn't really say.
> >"Astrology's earliest roots lie in the practise of divination", wrote Candy,
> >but I wonder if any surviving evidence seems to bear this out. They
> >certainly lie in the observation of synchronicity: `as above, so below'.
> >Those earliest cuneiform tablets, predicting consequences of planetary
> >positions for local kings in Mesopotamia, imply prior deduction from prior
> >observations. Noting a major political event, and learning from the
> >concurrent planetary correlations, seems to have happened first.
I define divination as "seeking meaning in moments". The "prediction of consequences of planetary positions" is surely another way of describing this process of "seeking meaning in moments"?
> >How about the self as a team of dancers? Integration of component drives of
> >the psyche, a la Rudhyar, optimises co-ordination and performance.
> >Dancers initially following a different drummer eventually get in
> >tune/harmony/rhythm with the others.
I think "the self as a team of dancers" is a very good analogy. Something similar is used by astrologers who work with Psychosynthesis principles [a form of transpersonal astrology developed by psychiatrist Dr Roberto Assagioli], with the metaphor of an *orchestra* for the self, with the planets representing different instruments struggling and learning to play in harmony, and the *conductor* symbolising the integrating and co-ordinating Higher self, Core Self, or Soul.
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 78
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