Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #7

From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: whistling in the dark..

Exegesis Digest Fri, 11 Feb 2000

Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 22:41:45 +1300
From: Janice & Dennis
To: Exegesis
Subject: whistling in the dark..

[An update that revises our knowledge of Jung's use of astrology, a response to Bill Tallman, and a report on Mayan star wars...]

"Astrology was an important aspect of Jungian therapy from its earliest days. Clues to understanding the logos, one's fate, could be discerned by reading horoscopic charts properly." [p193, "The Aryan Christ: the Secret Life of Carl Jung", Richard Noll, 1997]

In his detailed review of the theory and practice of analytical psychology, with the focus on Jung as originator, the author has progressed to the year of 1917 at the page of this quote. Earliest days referred to thus appear to be concurrent with Alan Leo's period of activist publicity of modern astrology. Case notes are reproduced or referred to in several instances that do verify use of birth charts as part of the therapeutic process during WWI and the following decade or so.

"Noll, a clinical psychologist, is Lecturer in the History of Science at Harvard University. He is a former resident fellow of the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at MIT. His previous book, "The Jung Cult", won the 1994 Best Book in Psychology Award from the Association of American Publishers." [publisher's jacket bio]

Bill Tallman wrote: "Perhaps we are making an unnecessary leap here. In general, the idea of archetypes is a human artifice created for the purpose of simplifying ... we can achieve better understanding in terms of similarities and differences that we can by looking for identity or no connection at all. The notion of simplification (reductionism?) provided the means to recognize and make use of commonalities wherever they were perceived to exist ... we can achieve better understanding in terms of similarities and differences that we can by looking for identity or no connection at all. The notion of simplification (reductionism?) provided the means to recognize and make use of commonalities wherever they were perceived to exist..." [summarised from Ex5/5]

All this is fair enough, if rather beside the point since the same can be said of any scientific modelling. Is Bill advocating the Popperian criterion of falsifiability? Plenty of writers have commented in recent decades on how the theory of evolution has been retained despite not being falsifiable.

Bill T: "Such interest is still regarded with suspicion and is avoided as a matter of course by all who would find it profitable to assume the existance of a definitive statement of that reality. That interest, of course, lies in the further assumption that one can discern and make that statement, for it provides the assumer with the illusion that he/she can be that one person."

I had described Kepler as that rare astrologer who is interested in what is really going on. That is why he functioned as pioneer scientist despite being employed as astrologer royal. I think Bill is suggesting that some/many are inclined to fall into the trap of assuming that reality can be defined. Very true for most of those indoctrinated with the old paradigm. I suspect that pluralism has so afflicted the younger generations that few of them would even dream of trying. My perception of the best postmodern take on this issue is that there are a range of persuasive and seemingly appropriate descriptions around, with an encouraging degree of overlap & concurrence. As for the relative extent of pan-cultural portability, it's early days yet. The trickle-down of wisdom is even slower than that of dollars.

"We do the best we can to achieve maximum precision in our understanding, but we are well advised to realize that the more extreme the precision we develop, the more vulnerable it is to being invalidated by the changes occuring in the process of interest. It is the "ball park estimate" that provides the compass whereby we can validate the direction of our more subtle efforts." I quite agree. That why I believe that metaphysical reasoning will be more productive in pursuing the aims of Exegesis.

"How do we account for the apparent reality of the power of certain Zodiacal positions? How do we explain the specific essence of certain Zodiacal degrees?" Ah, to the point, indeed!

Well, first there is a general premise to outline. Clearly the number archetypes, the circle, point, sphere, spiral and helix are visible as structural components of nature's forms at all scales. This gives us a realistic basis for putting them in a metaphysical bag labelled `archetypes of nature', defining archetypes as `originating pattern-forming principles'. [It is necessary to do this to separate them from the social archetypes that Jung identified.] Because these entities are so common and widespread, they are readily recognised by anybody. They are therefore pan-cultural aspects of the collective reality, thus can function as components of any future global description of natural forms and processes, especially as regards the structure of (experiential) time.

A generic description of Gaian time that is globally portable therefore looms as a relevant goal. It is my bias to assume that our global future must, in certain fundamental respects, preserve a consistency with the past. So it becomes necessary to deconstruct the archaic frames of reference that astrology preserves for us so as to identify the sub-components that are lococentric, culture-specific, which we can shed, and those capable of translation into a global frame of reference, which we ought to retain. So, then, to Bill's first question..

Certain zodiacal positions may assume apparent power due to the effective advocacy of theoreticians, or competent astrologers, who function effectively as propagandists. A psychological mechanism is at work here, linking individual and collective. Signs in the heavens are transitory or fixed. Those fixed, once enough people copy the originator and repeat the interpretation to generate a consensus, eventually also become fixed also in the ruling paradigm of society. The question most relevant to this mailing list is whether the signs mean anything real.

By suggesting that there is a reality out there, in the postmodern world, I may seem to be stepping onto a lilypad. Chortles of derision may accompany my frothy subsidence into the cosmic soup, huh? Well, I don't expect to get my feet wet. Cosmos, out there as well as in here, can indeed provide us with real information. The problem lies only in the extent to which we can agree on what is real. Sophistry? Almost, but not quite. We can agree with Hipparchus, and define the zodiac with respect to the vernal equinox of the northern hemisphere, anchoring its structure on the 4 corners of the world. We can recycle the traditional logic that provides it with a further substructure derived from the solunar relationship cycle, and recycle the traditional metaphysical matrix of elements and modes that gives it 12 equal archetypal phases. Pan-cultural export of this notion has always been a matter of taste and limited only by religious conformity.

As far as individual degrees are concerned, in theory this seemed best done by harmonic analysis, when I was learning astrology. But nobody followed through on Addey's work. The Jones/Rudhyar mediumistic approach may be feasible, but lack of subsequent consensus is not encouraging.

Bill wrote "The universe is far more complex *in essence* than any one or combination thereof archetypes we might create. Perhaps its best that we remain so constrained, but that is a matter of opinion, of course. Thanks for the info, Dennis. My nit-picking may be regarded as gratuitous, but then we each have to make these decisions for ourselves..."

This is indeed the obvious weakness of the metaphysical description I have been advocating. How to explain the multiplicity of life with a simplicity of notions? The best answer runs along the line of logic advocated by complexity theorists in their attempt to explain how forms arise in nature in boundary regions. Order emerges from chaos in apparent complexity, but it seems the process can be modelled quite accurately these days with simple equations. Perhaps we can use this by analogy to explain how social archetypes emerge from natural archetypes, but I doubt it. I think morphogenetic fields are a better explanation.

If my advocacy of elements of a contemporary theory of astrology seems too much like whistling in the dark, I'm not surprised. It has seemed like that to me at times. Like I said once before, I got tired of looking at the vacuum and waiting around for someone else to fill it. I thought progress would finally happen in 1988 when globe-trotting Rob Hand proclaimed the new gospel, "Astrology as a Revolutionary Science" (I still have the tape somewhere). I sat there thinking, "Yeah, great, now let's do it!". But the Saturn/Uranus conjunction wasn't sufficient to dislodge the concrete in their heads. I honour the intent of Exegesis, and would happily go away and do other things if others began to provide constructive contributions. Building a new intellectual and philosophical edifice with a multidisciplinary interface is still required. Discussing peripheral issues just continues the traditional avoidance that astrologers are known for.

"Drawing on over 30 years of excavation and research, some of it his own, renowned archaeologist and Mayan expert Peter D. Harrison gives a vivid account of the turbulent story of Tikal over some 1700 years, from 800 BC to the late 9th century AD. Making full use of the remarkable recent breakthroughs in translating the Maya's own hieroglyphic record, Dr. Harrison offers a cogent, fascinating summary of what is known to date of this romantic, mysterious city and its rulers." I've copied this intro from a website. [http://www.mayarealm.com/starwars.html ]

An excerpt, below, is taken from Chapter Eight of THE LORDS OF TIKAL: The Hiatus: War and Outside Dominance. It discusses the 125 years between the Early and Late Classic Periods of Tikal (AD 557 to AD 682), with little recorded history available, due largely to warfare between Tikal and its neighbors. This period saw the beginning of the Maya "star wars" -- battles timed to astronomical events. It's interesting that the design of the rebel camp in the original "Star Wars" movie was based on Tikal's architecture.

"Then in AD 556 Tikal enacted a formal "axe war" against its former ally Caracol. This type of war, symbolized by an axe, indicates a serious attack with intent to destroy, but unlike a "star war" was not determined by ritual of astronomical timing. The attack was apparently unexpected and hurt Caracol. Then, just six years later in AD 562, Caracol retaliated against Tikal with the first recorded "star war" known in the Maya lowlands. This date is taken as the date of Tikal's fall to Caracol. A "star war" is a full-scale war planned in accordance with specific astronomical events, usually the first appearance in the morning sky of the planet Venus. The heliacal rising of the brilliant "star" in the pre-dawn sky was considered by the Maya as a highly evil portent. As such it was an appropriate herald of warfare, at least on the part of the attacker."

It is interesting that Venus was treated as god of war like it was as morning star in the middle east, or maybe it was Greece. The morning star and evening star were not known to be both Venus in the early times. As an evening star it was goddess of love, probably in consequence of what men got up to after the evening meal. Men who made the mistake of acting as though the morning star was goddess of love tended to proceed through the day with a certain lassitude, no doubt, a certain lack of vigour that made it hard to cope with the manly arts of war & hunting, or any hard work...

The implications for mundane astrology are also interesting. Such attacks, launched when the evil star was rising, would have reinforced the mythology if successful. Would we expect Venus in the 12th to bode well for a military attack? Well, anything done in secret would be pleasurable, in theory, even if not hostile. A secret raid in a remote place, with strategic retreat in conclusion, would fit best. However, failure to take the positions of Mars, Saturn and Jupiter into account presumably resulted in haphazard outcomes. We should expect the track record of the theory to be no better than chance.

When the planets are gods & goddesses, invested with human characteristics, any consequent myth may seem to convey an archetype, but may have arisen solely due to arbitrary literary or dramatic endeavour, and been reinforced into continuity by collective projections and social convention woven into religion. From our vantage point in the entry to the new millennium, I suggest it is best to note the eurocentric bias of the fancy-prone Jungians and astropsychologists of the '70s & '80s. Those people still promoting their simplistic modern myths in resolute avoidance of any need for authenticity remain vulnerable to the critique of any half-way competent historian or anthropologist. If gods or goddesses really do personify an archetype, one only need engage in a wee bit of comparative mythology to establish if the archetype is culture-specific or not.

Then, if pan-cultural consensus is in evidence, we have grounds to suspect collective empirical learning from nature. As far as the planetary archetypes go, any astrologer ought in theory to be able to empirically identify each particular unique quality. One would expect, for instance, enough instances of people being stabbed to death when Mars opposed their Sun, or imprisoned when Saturn transited their 12th house, to catalyse pattern-recognition in the right brain of the astrologer. Provided he was that rare astrologer endeavouring to learn what was really going on.

Dennis Frank


End of Exegesis Digest Volume 5 Issue 7

[Exegesis Top][Table of Contents][Prior Issue][Next Issue]

Unless otherwise indicated, articles and submissions above are copyright © 1996-1999 their respective authors.