|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #80
Exegesis Digest Fri, 29 Oct 1999
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 01:56:17 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: re V4 #78
> >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.
The correspondence between the Elements and the states of matter is evident, with the exception that Fire probably is equivalent to the plasma state, I would think.
There are some number of "metaphysical" correspondences that come to mind, the most significant in the tradition of which are those with the Qabalah. These Elements are found to relate specifically to the four quadrants of Malkuth, and from there through the four worlds to the four trees, etc. There are, of course other traditions that also correspond.
In general, I think, one might suggest that the elements represent matter (Earth), energy (Fire), form (Air), and substance (Water). Inspection of the arrangement of these assignments yields some interesting ideas: for instance, reading around the cycle from the vernal equinox (northern hemisphere) we get the notion that energy manifests as substance and is formed into matter, which sounds reasonable: reading the crosses, we see that energy and form bisect substance and matter, etc. Lots of other possibilities there as well.
The Elements are archetypes, of course, and their value lies in the fact that they express the common essence of fundamental states of being experienced by a vast array of disparate entities (beings, situations, processes, etc). Through their use, we are able to achieve a deep understanding and apply it appropriately; whether we do so depends on the diligence and integrity we bring to the task.
But all this is kindergarten astrology, known to all of us, so I've not said anything here that isn't a part of the basic astrological tradition.
> >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.
Well, scientists probably are still adverse to subjecting themselves to basic astrology, I suppose, but "beginning, enduring, and mutating" is a rather nice expression of the traditional understanding. I might suggest that there is an interesting subtlety inherent in the Modes, and it's accessible when the Modes are compared with the House designations. It is the names of the House designations that provides the clue here, it seems to me.
For the Signs, we call the Modes Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable (or Common). The Houses have the analogous Angular, Succedant, and Cadent, and I think that an inspection of how these two sequences are compared reveals that they have a different emphasis of organization. I think this difference tells us something about each, and about the deeper nature of the sequences themselves.
We are used to the order of each as I have given them, and we speak of each season having Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable Signs in that order, and of each quadrant of the horoscope having Angular, Succedant, and Mutable Houses, also in that order. There is, however, a different emphasis, and it is implicit in the names of the Houses. The Cadent House provides the rhythm for the sequence, which is manifest in the Angular House, and brought to fruition or resolution in the Succedant House. Likewise, we might regard the Mutable Sign as providing the environment from which the Cardinal Sign is a specific manifestation, which is made durable and lasting in the Fixed Sign.
So, for each Equinox/Solstice, there is a process that is signified by the Cardinal Sign, but is bounded by beginning in the Mutable Sign and ending in the Fixed Sign. Likewise, for each House Angle, there is a process of development where the Angle is signatory, and which is bounded by the Cadent House in the beginning and the Succedant House in the end.
It is perhaps also useful to regard how this way of organizing these factors compares with the traditional way, with an eye towards discerning how they might compliment and/or supplement each other.
> >Humours seem irrelevant these days, but a person afflicted by an excessive
> >influence of a particular planetary archetype may demonstrate correlating
> >physical symptoms.
Humors are descriptive of the Planets themselves, by and large, as you note, and are commonly correlated with the Elements. These three assigned attributes do not appear to agree as we might expect, however. Further work needs to be done here.
> >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 suspect that Ptolemy simply did not comprehend the meaning of the information he had available to him. By his time, the Greek astrological tradition had been rather thoroughly corrupted, and probably with some amount of intent: astrology has a history of being a practice held to be too powerful to be allowed by any and all, and the "mystery schools" of those times were pretty much what they have always been. Sitting outside the gates for a ridiculously long period of time just to prove that you really want what is inside is only the beginning of a rigorous process by which these arts were taught and learned, so we are given to understand. Ptolemy was not one of these. Neither were Fagan or Gleadow, I suspect. Plato may or may not have cared to tell the truth of these things, according to his own lights in these regards.
It will be interesting to see what comes of the diligent research carried out by Project Hindsight in the astrology of those times. From what I understand, rulerships were quite different from what we are accustomed to understanding.
> >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
The reason allegorical reasoning is likely to be unproductive is because it is all too often carried out with far too little understanding of the material used, and with greatly inadequate rigor besides. Dean was paraphrasing a quote by the American humorist Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) who asserted that there were "lies, damned lies, and statistics." (as I recall...)
Symbols are supposed to be of an archetypal nature. The problem is that they are all too often used with little or no understanding of the archetype of interest. Of course they proliferate meanings, but the confusion is the result of not having a grasp of the archetype itself. Indeed, all too often the fact that a symbol is archetypal by nature is itself not understood, and so the symbol is regarded as having a one-to-one relationship with that which it is (specifically, in the given situation) intended to represent.
It is not the nature of symbols themselves that is problematic, it is their usage in an inappropriate manner. Because it is unreasonable to expect this to change, the use of symbols themselves is unproductive, by and large (unfortunately...). Of course, there are some symbols, the archetypes of which are so obvious that they are evident to one and all, which can be probably regarded as conditionally reliable. Dennis suggests that this is true of symbols derived from nature, which I might suppose to be the case.
> >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 was afraid someone might suggest this... < grin >
To do a critical analysis of Leo, or any of his predecessors, is probably not as fruitful without some knowledge of where it all came from as it would be if that were available. There are lots of pieces to this puzzle and a common practice is to discover all the border pieces and assemble them first: this provides the frames of reference and so forth.
With that in mind, when they become available, I have made arrangements to acquire the PH material and I intend to give it a reasonable workout. My reason for doing this is because I suspect that material is probably the best prospect for reliable authenticity as we are likely to ever have available for the older traditions, and if it turns out to be as I suspect it might, it will provide a baseline for further work; the border, if you will.
> >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.
I am also not interested in that process without a solid background against which to compare and understand them. Hence, I wait for PH material.
I no longer have Lilly, it seems (at least it hasn't turned up yet) but I do have most of the rest. Unfortunately, I think it's obvious they are attempting to pass on a tradition they themselves did not adequately understand, which is why those old bones moldered.
In a different vein, it has been my experience that an attempt to cross reference unrelated systems is all too often unfruitful, sadly. Crowley's "777" is the most celebrated of such attempts, and it was successful to the extent that the systems themselves arose from common sources. Where this was not true, the results ranged from laughable to tragic, with a few random apparent hits amongst the rest.
Most of us who are conversant with unrelated metaphysical systems are drawn to seek such correspondences, because we intuit that they exist. Unfortunately, our intuition does not serve to monitor or guide the search itself, and dead-ends, blind alleys and pit-falls abound. It would seem, though, that this is quite as addictive as gambling; there is always the possibility of an insightful breakthrough right at the end of this next book, etc. If it sounds like I know what I'm talking about, be advised that I do: I spent years doing just this sort of thing, and I'm still subject to answering that call... < grin > One might regard this as the alternative approach to the Unified Field Theory of (Meta)Physics, I suppose.
There is, however, value in the search itself, even if it appears to follow after an illusion. Along the way, some number of more subtle insights are likely to be gained, and so the journey is worth the effort to take it. The difference is this: these insights are individual and are certain to be different for each seeker.
Or so my experience has led me to believe.
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 80
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