Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #89

From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: continuing astral matrix commentary

Exegesis Digest Thu, 25 Nov 1999

Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 10:57:31 +1300
From: Janice & Dennis
To: Exegesis
Subject: continuing astral matrix commentary

This continues my examination of Patrice's website article ASTRAL MATRIX AND MATRICIAL REASON IN ASTROLOGY, a lecture delivered to a Kepler conference in London a couple of years ago. I have selected quotes in an order that seemed appropriate to me...

"Astrology does neither come from a logic of cause nor from a logic of the sign, but a matricial logic, that is, a logic of the forms and categorisations arising from psychic-astral states for which symbolical operators are only tools of expression. Their interpretation as synchronicity - a concept created by Jung in order to describe the significant coincidences between the psychic state of the observer and the demonstration of outside events - is no more acceptable than the explanation by energetic causality. Plotinus, whom Firmicus Maternus considered a foe to astrology, develops this sign-star conception: "The movement of the stars announces future events, but does not produce them." These notions of star-as-cause and star-as-sign presuppose the parting of two linked fields: the celestial and the terrestral-human. In the first case, there would be influence, in the second coincidence, the latter being besides hardly imaginable without a certain efficacy on the part of the former. But in both cases, the star (or planet) is defined as exterior to the organism; in both cases it is the landmark of an event, of a fact. These notions allow a divinatory practice of astrology that discredits it as a whole, inasmuch as it remains true that for two thousand years, astrology by itself has strictly not predicted any major political or cultural event. Worse: these practices only report very superficially the reality of the star signs and astral houses."

What first becomes evident here, signalled by the term `psychic-astral', is an apparent assumption Patrice has made. He seems to have assumed horoscopes are birth-charts. This is not so. Most horoscopes in use depict human births, but many do not. The term `psychic-astral' links states of the psyche with states of the stars, leaving mundane circumstances out of the equation. Patrice seems to have implicitly rejected the most ancient element of the astrological tradition. Horoscopes have always been used to divine events, which is why they are diagrams of the holistic relations of the event to the cosmos. The most popular class of events chosen by users of the system happens to be human birth-charts. Defining the system only in relation to this sub-class is a strategic error.

Patrice then addresses the causal/signal dichotomy without accounting for what produces it, though I agree with his point about prediction. Note that here he effectively equates divination and prediction, much as I acknowledged I had long been doing. In my recent response to Bill Sheeran's thoughts on the subject, I mean, and it would seem that Bill and Cynthia have tacitly assumed the wider meaning of divination whereas we two have tacitly assumed the narrower one.

"Matricial astrology differs by nature from divinatory practices : It has not got the same cognitive purpose and does not use the same psycho-mental dispositions. Neither is it more conjectural - which many practicians assert - than divinatory, just as its adversaries including Pico maintain. It gives an opportunity to see a reality which is continually present and familiar to consciousness, not to predict a reality that would be exterior to it. It is not astromantic : It stays related to the matrix logos - not only etymologicaly - without including the experimental nomos of astronomy or the augur manteia of divinatory practices."

Gee, I wonder if Patrick Curry really did invent this word "practicians". I would interpret the general philosophic drift, here, as being that astrology derives its validity from an archetypal basis in nature. The "matrix logos" seems to be what I called the zodiacal archetype, an archetypal cycle composed of 12 equal but qualitatively-unique subdivisions. This 4x3 matrix of the elements and modes seems to be a couple of millennia old, specifically equated with the tropical zodiac by Ptolemy.

As regards Pico and the fate/freewill divination controversies, I would recommend "Astrology in the Renaissance", 1976/83, as a good backgrounder. The author, retired professor of history and philosophy "Eugenio Garin, one of Italy's leading Renaissance scholars, traces the nature and role of astrology in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries", according to the jacket.

"Psychic states come before objects and words. 2. This interior world is in perpetual movement, in continuous stimulation by the planetary cycles. This is the reason why I call it psychic-astral, just as I call impressional (or astral impression, Paracelsuss impressio) the mark of this psychic impregnation by the astral operators. 3. The impressionals differ from each other across structures. This structuration of the psyche occurs across four conditional milieux: energetically by the planetary Forces, in space by the Houses, in time by the planetary Cycles, and structurally by the zodiacal Signs. The organic integration of the planetary rhythms, at level of the nervous system or the genetic code, a basic hypothesis of the astral reality, requires a category of entities - i.e. the impressionals - which report the astral to the consciousness. These unverifiable, imponderable incidences, which are too subtle to be exploited by the mechanism of logical-experimental thinking, are organised in the heart of operative structures by matricial reasoning. To these impressionals, which have been directly and internally experienced by the consciousness, are assigned symbolic or mythical archetypical forms, which resolve the psycho-mental imbalance provoked by the impossibility of finally fixing their characteristics. All that can be said about an astral impression is that it leaves a faint trace in the consciousness, a vague psychic colouring. The symbols function is to describe these introductory entities which are resist any attempts at determination, and to make up for reasons inability to report on reality as a whole. The astronomical signal is perceived as impressional and is expressed as symbol. The astral (the impressionals) belongs to the psychic, the astrological (the symbols and the operative structures) to the mental. The astral defines what is felt, lived, recorded in the psyche, fleetingly perceived, almost unnoticed. The astrological defines what is structured, moulded, belonging to a concept. This distinction is at the heart of the debate related to nature and the practical consequences of the astrological knowledge. Astrology as a science of imponderable, evanescent and imperceivable knowledge does not belong to the body or mind, but stems from their common root which lies behind our eyes (Paracelsus), not from beyond but from within an intimate, real proximity to ourselves, no matter how unfamiliar it seems. Astrology has the function of determining the structural laws of interiority. Through its practical application through horoscopes, it is a tool in order to understand life: It punctuates the experience of consciousness, just like I Ching does. It has no immediate forecasting or divinatory consequences : First of all, because the expert is not capable of evaluating with certainty the importance of extra-astrological factors (biological, social-cultural, family related, professional, climatic...), but above all because astral incidence does not operate at the level of facts, events, the existential concrete, but rather at the level of their internal advent. It acts upon the link between what is felt and what happens. This is the reason why psycho-mental interpretation and the physiological explanation do not suffice to describe its nature. The idea of impressional frees astrology from subservience to an external psychology whether it is psychoanalytical, behaviourist, phenomenological, gestaltic or existentialist. It is now time for astrology to forge its own concepts."

It's true that Rudhyar frequently correlated the houses with spatial division, and, in any frozen moment we look at, this may seem valid. So Rudhyar used the Campanus method of house division. Mapping of the diurnal cycle is however performed in time, so we can make the general point that any mapping of the zodiacal archetype is temporal, Placidus houses being merely one consequence of temporal process. Likewise, it seems misleading to describe the signs of the tropical zodiac as structural when they are temporal divisions, resulting from the apparent annual mapping onto earth of the zodiacal archetype by the path of the Sun through the galactic star-field. A pre-modern user of the constellations would have a sounder basis to advocate the zodiac as a culturally-structured subdivision of the galaxy.

Patrice then goes on to explain his concept of impressionals in detail, and their similarity to the astrological archetypes is evident. I see no reason not to presume these are equivalent. Unfortunately he assumes an "astronomical signal", the traditional concept of planetary influence in other words, which has become too misleading to be useful. His distinction between the psychic and mental effects of the astrological archetypes is appropriate, given that the psyche includes a mind-body interface and various other capacities for knowledge such as intuition. His stand against divination is powerful, in evoking context. So I will not argue the point even though I see merit on both sides of the argument. His last point above, that astrology transcends psychology, is one I firmly agree with.

"Astrology arises from a very different paradigm than hermeneutics or physics: One cannot conceive it by notions of coincidence of meaningful events or of influence from physical forces, but rather by notion of formative incidence, that is, by the structural effects of the impregnation of the nervous system by planetary cycles. There is no external influence, but internal incidence. The astral has no influence on the physical: it solicits and fashions the psyche. This invalidates Augustines assertion, later re-used by Pico della Mirandola, according to which the astrologer is not able to predict the sex of a person from his or her birth-chart. The psychic-astral impression is not the physical brand of influences, but an internal fugitive state. There is no imprint of the map or theme at the moment of the birth, but a conditional and occasional (in Malebranches sense) integration of differentiated endopsychic shapes which become real by their repetition and frequency. Understanding the astral incidence requires a systematic and rhythmic approach."

Saying that the "astral has no influence on the physical" seems either a blunder or an explicit signal from Patrice that he does not recognise that archetypal qualities of time emerge in nature. Apart from that, the archetypal effect of cosmic rhythms on people individually is again the focus. What about the collective effect?

"What are the consequences for the nature of astrology ? It is not a science since it does not depend on the verification principle; its models cannot be falsified, although they are far more than the statements of Poppers literature. It is not a revealed religion because it neither supports any dogma nor any particular belief; it does not recommend any ritualist behaviour in the face of life. It is not a philosophy because it relativises the value of a rationality whose ultimate criterion of certainty is evidence. But it is at the same time a certain type of science, of religion and of philosophy : in other words, a conception of reality which requires techniques of precise specification borrowed from astronomy ; a conviction of the resonance and repercussions of the geosolar environments rhythms on the psyche ; and a specific form of rationality admitting as a precondition the structural differentiation of an archetypal matrix. It answers neither to experimental reason, nor to faith, nor to discursive reasoning, but to matricial reason. It seems that it would appear to be a religion, that it expresses itself through metaphysics, and that it is a critical science at its core. This is because of its triple nature, and it is because of this that it has been perceived at the level of knowledge, and as a rival to philosophy, and to Christianity and to science ; that it has been successively fought against by Greek skepticism, by the Church Fathers and by modern rationalism. The matricial judgment differs from Kants synthetic judgment by its demand for distribution according to numbers and reckoned data, and by its objectivation of reality whose immanent order it reproduces (even if this order belongs first to the human psychic structuration). It is not rational but metarational, that is, it does not suppose adequacy between the concepts and the objects of the given experiment, but a formal coherence of internal-external experience of reality expressed in symbolical terms."

Well, not to argue against any of the above, but astrology is certainly a belief system and a practice. The belief system rests upon a traditional metaphysics, normally tacitly understood by practitioners. The practice is an art in the hands of some of us, and a craft in the hands of all who call themselves astrologers. The one point made above that is most vulnerable to dispute is that astrology "is a critical science at its core". Myth or statement of faith? If it exists, this core, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, has yet to be found.

"The equality of the matrix judgment, that is, the objectivity mode of the qualitative repartition, differs from scientific objectivation mode: experimental logic decomposes reality and gathers up the phenomena according to quantitive criteria ; the matricial logic divides them up according to qualitative criteria. This dividing issues neither from a philosophical type of reflection upon ideas, nor from scientifically experiments upon defined objects where one observes variations, but directly from the mind. The repartition appear to consciousness following the continual stimulation and psychic structuration by astral impressions."

Repartition of what? Impressions? Archetypes? If I this were your PhD. thesis, Patrice, in marking it I'd have to deduct points for not getting to the point!

"Matricial reason is not a type of occult quality that only astrologers own. It operates at all levels in the thought, and in philosophy in particular: for example in Pythagoras, Democritus (criteria of differentiation in atoms), Hippocrates (moods theory), Plato, Aristotle (theory of the causes of movement), Damascius (unity theory), Raymond Lull (theological combinatoire), Nicolas of Cusa (theory of the ten wisdom fields), Paracelsus, Campanella, Kepler, Descartes (method rules), Leibniz (universal characteristics), Kant (category theory), Hegel, Fourier... As soon as thought does not proceed only from discursive reasoning but also from its deepest resources, and as soon as significant distinctions appear, whose origin is not recognised by discursive logic, it functions within a matricial mode. Those distinctions come from an archetypical repartition, by threes, fours, eights, tens, twelves... of the psychic-astral nature which conditions the matricial judgment."

Ah, finally we seem to get there, to the number archetypes at least. But wait, what are 8 and 10 doing here? Can you justify these interlopers, Patrice? If so, I'd like to see it.

"The astral matrix is first of all structured by fours, and it is structuring for the psyche and thus also for all psycho-mental and socio-cultural productions. In Mesopotamia, astrology had a more collective rather than individual function. Nowadays, it is reduced to a type of individual therapy based on birth-charts. The sciences called human should be concerned with planetary cycles and astrological approach : one can conceive the modality of an astral history, of an astral geography, of an astral psychology, of an astral sociology (See my doctoral thesis, Lastrologie : Fondements, Logique et Perspectives, Paris I - Sorbonne University, March 1993). The astral operators control and structure mans world and are the garde-fous of anthropological knowledge. Matricial logic precisely requires a reorganisation of language and knowledge and a redistribution of mental, social and cultural representations, followed by a re-evaluation of the concepts usually used in a unilateral or dualistic sense."

This kind of deconstruction of culture and concepts to reveal underlying astrological archetypes was very persuasive as Rudhyar pioneered it, and I frequently find myself do it in thought-play. This is another area where astrologers collectively have performed poorly in their lack of follow-through.

"Any investigating field, any conceptual problem or any activity of the mind should be related to a quaternary archetype from the moment that it relates to the human psyche. Astrology is the study of the consequences of the quaternary structuration of the psyche, i.e. of the quadripartition of reality by the mind. Four irreducible perspectives of the consciousness that the astral incidence distributes in everybody according to specific proportions, preexist all apprehension of reality. Paracelsus insisted on the quaternary archetypical structure of consciousness : the quaternary division of the macanthrope (of primordial man), of psychic-astral nature, is at the origin of any quadripartition of socio-cultural order. Since Parmenides and Anaxagorus, Euro-Greek thought has had a tendency to reason by exclusion : many misconceptions come from the hasty attempt to unify multiplicity by setting up artificial dualities. Against the problems of such dualism, matricial reasoning consists of questioning a priori the legitimacy, for the apprehended entities, of appearing in the same field of application."

Rudhyar followed Jung in hanging the sub-structure of the horoscope on a quarternary archetype. Too far, it seemed to me, and the thing got over-wrought. But that's because he used Campanus houses, and could justify the static spatial structure, and extend the rational to equal quadrants. The consequential stretching and compressing of the zodiac in the different equal quadrants to achieve mathematical precision of fidelity to the archetype in psychic space seemed too misleading to me.

Patrice seems to pit this archetype against duality, a futile endeavour. What "artificial dualities"? Since duality is a more primal archetype of nature than quarternity, evidence of its manifestation will always be more fundamental and compelling. Several hundred million Chinese might overwhelm Patrice with their disagreement alone, without needing help from Western tradition, if Mao's brain-washing hasn't scrubbed yin/yang out of their collective consciousness.

"The matricial logos is of a Pythagorean nature. It comes from a tetradic metaphysics and presupposes the coexistence of four archetypical shapes which build the world and orientate thought. The specificity and the strength of the astral philosophy is neutrality : to remain at equal distances from the four cardinal perspectives, from the twelve zodiacal perspectives... not to privilege a particular position of the mind. The four psychic tones - or interior voices - must convert themselves into four directions - or conceptual ways. And the centre remains veiled, invisible."

OK, but why provide a rationale for the elements without actually mentioning them? Given that the public want a credible explanation of astrology, deliberate obscurity seems self-defeating. The veiled reference to the centre is indeed significant, however. This is probably a pointer to the archetypal 5, and perhaps the self is analogic to the Chinese emperor, who sat at the center of the world in seasonal orientation to the cardinal points.

"At that particular point, the matricial discourse appears in its critical dimension as likely to emphasise not the mistakes, but the insufficiency and the univocit of such-and-such a discourse or cognitive system, and thus to judge (and in that respect it is above all judicial), not what is said or thought, but what is not being said or thought."

Is this merely an attempt to appear erudite in justifying the failure to say anything profound about the centre? If it is meant to suggest that meaning here is too deep for words, why not say so? Others, though, have not found it too deep. Rudhyar wrote quite profoundly about the centre, quite often. Disregarding what he wrote looks rather akin to, not so much re-inventing the wheel, as suggesting that it was too profound to even be invented. Regardless of that, the symbol of the dot in the centre of the circle has a considerable pedigree, some of which I mentioned here a few months back. Research & contemplation of this symbol might not go amiss, Patrice!

A rather weak ending to what was otherwise a promising metaphysical venture into astrological theory. Since I have analysed it from the vantage point of my own history of exploring this arena, with inevitable personal bias, I hope others will likewise contribute their analysis so I can develop a fuller perspective on it.

The dissertation is located at http://cura.free.fr/ammra.html

Dennis Frank


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