Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #26

From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #24

From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: commentary on octagonal house division (1)

Exegesis Digest Mon, 08 May 2000

Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 16:47:14 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #24

Andre said:

 > easier to respond to than Bill Tallman's (sorry Bill old friend - I'll
 > need to read Time 1-3 a couple more times yet - that seems apt).

Well, I guess there is going to be another dozen in that series, at least. I'm not sure exactly how I got into that, but I'm going to let it run itself out, I think. So any reasoned response can probably wait until it's more nearly done. I have this habit of closing with "Comments?", and that's probably not appropriate in this series, at least until it's done. Anyway, take your time < grin >

Dennis said:

 > In Ex 5/19 Bill Tallman wrote: "The catch-phrase coined by Elwell and here [snip]
 > First, Bill, you have misquoted me. I wrote that it is "what we really
 > need", not "all we need". If you change the meaning of what someone said in
 > order to set up a straw man to take pot shots at, you may entertain yourself
 > but you defeat the process of communication.

Note that I attributed the remark to Elwell and said that you had echoed it, so the quote of interest was that of Elwell. I need no straw man here: you have made your views quite clear with denigrating commentary about "moldy old bones" (your quote, Dennis).

[snip lotsa stuff....]
 > astrology's real traditions. PH has considerable remedied the delusional
 > perception of the past that has afflicted the astrocommunity, but where is
 > the corresponding modernisation?

I don't think PH has come anywhere near completing its contribution, so we really need to wait a bit there, I think.

There is never any "corresponding modernization", Dennis, those are two distinctly separate processes. Most often one finds that there is a discernable gap between the historical research and any real use of the insights provided. The undertaking of a modernization rests on the endeavor to establish a theoretical base that is relevant in our times. Certainly one intuits that these are connected processes, but the connection is a matter of historical observation, and there is no necessary connection in any specific case.

To put the responsibility for the "modernization" on the research scholars is unwarranted, in general. It happens that Schmidt is probably qualified to undertake the effort, but that's a specific case, and a fortuitous one at that. In any case, let's let one process run its course before we address the second, much less start expecting concurrent results.

 > have been so bad if they had actually made the effort to discover the past,
 > rather than settling for hearsay and speculation.

Historical research is only carried out effectively by trained scholars, Dennis, and I doubt of there are many astrologers who are qualified in this regard. In addition, the subject of astrology is *still* a matter of snide amusement amongst those who are so qualified, so the expectation of any real work from that sector is futile, I suggest.

 > Fourthly, Bill boldly declares "that all we need is a Project Foresight, is
 > an assertion that no trained scholar would countenance"; which looks like a
 > statement of personal belief pretending to be a fact. A single
 > counter-example would suffice to prove it wrong. As fate would have it,
 > such a scholar, sufficiently trained as to have graduated with a doctorate
 > from one of the world's top universities, emailed me (the day before Bill
 > sent his pseudo-fact to Exegesis) expressing agreement with "all" my piece
 > on metaphysics "including the conclusion about Elwell's P. Foresight."

I really am not disposed to engage in this sort of exchange, but it raises issues that are relevant to the pursuit of a philosophical and theoretical basis for astrology, which is what this list is about.

The argument made by Dennis about the validity of a single counter example is a tragic example of the sort of sloppy thinking that is all too often encountered amongst astrologers. To state that a single counter-example would suffice to prove my statement wrong requires that the example be both necessary and sufficient, neither of which is the case here.

The chance that *all* doctorates from major universities would be disposed to treat astrology as they would their own disciplines is vanishingly small, I suggest. Further, the possession of the posthole digger's certificate from a large corporation says nothing at all about the issue of scholarly training, I am sorry to say. A scholar's track record as held by his/her peers addresses this, and the CV is merely the union card necessary to begin the work in the first place. And that takes care of the sufficiency requirement.

The chance that the given counter example possesses the requisite expertise in astrology to be meaningful is not good, I submit, and in order to be considered at all, must be demonstrated. Dennis has not seen fit to provide any information in this regard. Until he does so, we cannot even assess the necessity requirement.

Sorry, Dennis, your contention is without merit.

Therefore, I stand with my statement as I made it. To paraphrase: there is no reason why astrology should be treated with any less respect and rigor than other accepted disciplines, and especially by astrologers themselves!! No trained scholar would dismiss the necessity to gather all the material extant in any issue of interest, and most certainly would not deem work (specifically, historical research) in that direction as a waste of effort.

As I am currently involved in generating some thought about the issues relevant to astrology: the Time series, I'm not interested in pursuing these other issues further. I have already made my views very clear in those regards.



Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2000 11:02:25 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
To: Exegesis
Subject: commentary on octagonal house division (1)

I sent a detailed critique to Patrice Guinard of his piece on octagonal house division (Ex 4/100), offering to include any feedback of his in this summary for Exegesis. He accepted and provided some clarifications (as below). The entire thesis seems to hinge on a perception of the houses as resulting from consciousness of space (rather than spacetime).

Patrice wrote...

 > 1. The Houses cannot nominate objects or persons of the external world:
 > they mark only the quality of a report which the consciousness draws up
 > with its environment, a more or less broad degree of opening to this
 > environment. (It is by thinking of the Houses that Kepler wrote: " You
 > will not find in the Sky your friends, your wife... ")

So the houses are dimensions of consciousness. Seems feasible, and very close to Rudhyar's description of them as sectors of the psyche, which I have never had reason to disagree with. But the environment is spatio-temporal.

 > 2. The House is first "topos", i.e. PLACE in Greek. In other words the
 > Houses concern SPACE, and not Time. The compass card with its 8
 > directions. The Winds.

Well this depends on the sense in which the Greeks used the term, which we can but guess. Patrice assumes, like Rudhyar, that the houses reflect consciousness of space. I get the impression that for ancient astrologers they were merely domiciles for the planets, by mathematical convenience.

 > 3. The 1st model of the houses was the OCTOTOPOS, the system of the 8
 > places. It is in the Alexandrian middles, Greek-Egyptians, that the
 > Houses were folded back on the zodiacal cycle, and that an artificial
 > system of analogies were set up (12/12), undoubtedly for the needs of
 > the horarist practices.

This is indeed the gospel according to Cyril Fagan, that octagonal division preceded dodecagonal. But would we really want to assume a Celtic wizard could master reality? Let's check his evidence. "What appears to be the original, and hence authentic, scheme of houses is described in the Greek Michigan Papyrus No. 149, probably written by the pseudo-Manetho, born in A.D. 80, of which a translation by the Greek scholar, Rupert Gleadow, appeared in the September and October 1950 issues of American Astrology magazine. It is also described in the Astronomicon of Manilius... Known as the Oktotopos - okto meaning eight and topos, places - it comprises only eight houses and these run clockwise... In the original scheme of things, as conceived by the early Egyptians, these so-called houses or places were not measures of space at all but *measures of time* [this italicised by Fagan!]." [from p164. "Astrological Origins"]

Now I have my own copy of Manilius, and can vouch for the fact that the concept does indeed get a mention there, but elsewhere in the text I seem to recall Manilius also describes the 12-house system (similarly to Ptolemy). Fagan's evidence boils down to a "probable" 1st-century date for a probable author who is only a pseudo-person anyway. The best thing I can say about such tenuous grounds for an assertion is that Fagan probably didn't invent the scenario, for if he was that way inclined he would have come up with a much likelier story!

The clockwise order is very significant, and we must assume from this an independent metaphysical origin of this system that may indeed possibly have an ancient pedigree. It is worth mentioning that the Celtic year had a traditional octagonal subdivision, which survived, in the British Isles at least, into modern times via the festivals of Beltane, Imbolc, Samhain, Lammas. Also Rudhyar made much of the midpoints of the fixed signs of the zodiac as concentrations of cosmic energy, and applied similar logic to his use of an octagonal division of lunar phases. Also, there are the cosmobiologists, who have always rated octiles as comparable in mundane influence to quartiles.

But note Fagan's emphasis on the Egyptians' original interpretation of this system as temporal, not spatial. I wonder if Patrice had noticed this, if he was aware he was advocating a contradiction of the original system?

Patrice commented: "I know Fagan's interpretation, his relation to time, and his supposed Egyptian origin. (and I've made the text available for C.U.R.A. readers : http://cura.free.fr/docum/02fagan.html I wonder, Dennis, if you have seen it with my short commentary in English). For me, it's not worthing (Fagan's interpretation, his relation to time, and his supposed Egyptian origin). As you mention the Celtic traditional year (a good point), it's true I've not developed it, because I've not got all the documents I wished to investigate further. Now I think that the Greek model of octotopos is of Babylonian origin first."

 > The Dominion is not the familiar 12 Houses of mainstream tradition,
 > nor even the Octotopos, an ancient 8-fold division of space, but a new
 > model which approaches this last one some more. There are only eight
 > Houses (The houses 3, 5, 8 and 12 of the twelve folded organization
 > don't exist); they follow one another in the direction of the diurnal
 > movement, because they represent the successive phases of the apparent
 > course of the sun starting from its rising; finally they are centered on
 > their "cusps". Moreover I believe to have found the ancient organization
 > of the octotopos in its initial order: horoskopos, agathos daimon,
 > mesouranema, Theos, dysis, kake tuche, hupgeion and aidou pule, the gate
 > of dead which closes the daily cycle. I gave them less mysterious names
 > and more in affinity with our practical sensitivity: the Communication,
 > the Friendship, the Situation, the Harmony, the Couple, the Knowledge,
 > the Mystery, and the Fame.

Patrice has signalled he is issuing a new system, similar to the oktotopos but significantly different. Consistency with diurnal motion does however imply a temporal basis. But it could therefore seem more readily in support of mundane affairs typical to the time of day, as Andre recently and others years ago have suggested.

 > Space is not a neutral, continuous, isotropic medium, an
 > inanimate container of objects, or mere abstract context of motion :
 > "There is not really a space, or 'the space', but there are distinct,
 > heterogeneous spaces, endowed with singular properties. All that belongs
 > to the one of these spaces is located as in a field of forces, and is
 > penetrated, as by osmosis, of qualities which characterize this space.
 > Instead of a neutral medium, homogeneous, kind of uniform background,
 > there are areas, qualitatively determined, and which are also
 > determining." [11a]

So far this seems identical to Rudhyar's advocacy of astrological space, but I was sceptical of his relative discounting of the temporal dimension of the horoscope too.

 > Space is neither < snip >
 > Space is the world, Cosmos and not either chaos, qualified,
 > differentiated, directed, pre-organized, from which the various areas,
 > in a limited number, have specific qualities, transmissible with the
 > animated beings which are attached to them. Or rather: each field, each
 > sector, each direction, each Orient, is a "organic being" whose separate
 > entities which live therein are the apparent manifestations.
 > The world is habitat < snip > Space is the
 > field of projection of an interiority from which one will have learned
 > how to recognize the various colourings. Thus the four directions of
 > anisotropic space, associated with the seasons of the year, are
 > recognized by colors and animals in ancient China < snip > the Zuni
 > Indians, or by winds from the Aztecs. The whole earth is subjected to
 > this quaternary organization of which those who, in the primordial
 > cultures, proclaim themselves "the men" or "the human beings", occupy
 > the center, the region, city or house, Temple < snip >

Whilst I agree with the general sentiments of the above paragraphs, it is all merely evidence for a metaphysical hypothesis: that space varies qualitatively, and ecosystems, creatures, people and societies have evolved in accordance with this. The cardinal directions do indeed form the basic structure of Gaian space.

 > The navigators of Antiquity.. < snip > ..it is the "Rose", that of the winds,
 > the compass card, with its eight directions, which took form as a
 > collective concept in the minds of these pioneers. [1]

A useful point. However I would resist the implication that octagonal division of the horizon was the limit. All the compasses I have seen have further subdivisions, into the 16th and even the 32nd harmonic. [Patrice: "Yes, but these are more or less modern compasses, no?"] North-East may have achieved considerably more impact on the collective psyche than Nor-nor-east, or East-nor-east, true, but your example does not seem very persuasive. [Acknowledging P's feedback, I agree that if there is evidence that navigational compasses were of octagonal structure for centuries prior to the inclusion of the 16th and higher harmonic divisions, this would be persuasive evidence for a cultural imprint of an octagonal archetype.]

Patrice then went on to provide more compelling historical evidence; the 8 gates situated opposite the 8 winds, in a preserved (quoted) proclamation of the Assyrian king Sargon II (721-705 B.C.), the 8-pronged Venus on the Babylonian boundary stones (numerous surviving examples), an 8-zoned Mesopotamian planisphere, and several others.

OK, this is all good. In fact, I had often in the past wondered myself about the 8 rays of the Venus star in the Babylonian, Akkadian & Sumerian depictions. Then I remembered that Venus performs its pentagon in the zodiac each 8 solar years, which the Mayans also celebrated.

Patrice commented: "I would suggest with these examples, rather different, that there were like a traditional manner to see the space, from different cultures, as an archetype, which should probably be at the origin of the first, archaic, astrological sets of houses."

 > What is certain, it is the pre-existence in Greece of
 > an 8-house system prior to the 12-house system, suggested by the
 > investigations of ancient horoscope specialist John North.[9]

Unfortunately Professor North's books don't seem to have made it to this country, so a relevant quote would be helpful to verify this. You assert that it is certain, then say North merely suggests it. It would only impress me if he published evidence that seemed pretty solid.

Patrice commented: "I quote North ... in the beginning of this chapter (in the French version). "There were in Antiquity a set of 8, rather than 12 houses." (John North : Horoscopes and history, p.1) Perhaps it's not exactly the English words, as I've translated from English to French. .. Now there are no EVIDENCES with the astrological material that has been saved from Antiquity (Greece and Mesopotamia), nor for the houses, nor for anything else. We can only try to understand.. and suggest a scenario. Yes: it's speculation, [like] all "scientific" hypotheses, if this speculative scheme isn't incompatible with what we know with certitude (historical "facts"), then why not try to really understand? If not, we have the book of Bouche-Leclercq about Greek astrology (which David Pingree is going on to refer, with insistance, for instance in his article in Encyclopaedia Brittanica), and what is the chief lesson of this book? : THAT ASTROLOGY IS AND WAS NOTHING ELSE THAN STUPIDITY, IDOLATRY AND SUPERSTITION. AND THAT NOTHING IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD ABOUT IT."

Patrice is right to emphasize that academic research of astrological history has hitherto been undertaken by academics ideologically opposed to our vocation. Such people can be expected to produce misconceptions and distortions, which get mixed in with whatever they get right, and then the mix gets presented as the historical truth. It was George Bernard Shaw who said "Fiction is ably represented by the historians." [This is another reason Project Hindsight has been necessary.]

 > The stoician astrologer Marcus Manilius (~ 48 B.C. - 20 A.D.) < snip >
 > In the same way, Firmicus Maternus, towards 335 A.D., < snip >
 > Bouche-Leclercq suggested since 1899, in his polemical book, the
 > anteriority of the octotopos (or oktotopos) to the dodekatopos: "There
 > must have been a forsaken tradition which divided the circle of geniture
 > into eight boxes, or in twelve boxes of which eight only were regarded
 > as active, and (...) this system could not be understood neither by
 > Manilius, nor by Firmicus, both tending to disfigure, but incompetent to

This is all useful material, worthy of contemplation.

 > invent."[15] This anteriority of the system of the eight houses seems
 > confirmed by the traditional significances allotted to houses I (life)
 > and VIII (death). It is after the expiry of the eighth house that a new
 > daily cycle could start again.[16]

Presuming such a mundane progression is logical, but it is only one of several possible. I have come to see the 8th as reservoir of experiences that include death, but normally death of others.

 > One still finds traces of the octotopos in the few rare
 > fragments which remain to us of the writings of a disciple of
 > Hipparchus, Serapio of Antioch (~ 125 B.C.), and of the astrologer of
 > Tiberius, the famous Thrasyllus,[17] and of the Athenian Antiochos (2nd

I consider this hearsay of little value without seeing the evidence. Patrice commented: "Some fragments in CCAG. Let's wait for Robert Schmidt!"

 > A.D.). The famous Indian astronomer-astrologer Varaha Mihira (~505-585)
 > heir to Greek astrology as well as Babylonian theories , preserved in
 > his Brihat-Samhita the theory of the 8 districts, dependent on the 8
 > directions of space and corresponding to the Hindu divinities.[18]

This is better value, even though not an actual quote, because it reports the conceptual content of the original writing to some extent.

Patrice commented: "Sorry, but the quotes are in French, in the notes. I've translated them in French. I would have prefered to let them in English! Varaha Mihira (Brihat Samhita, ed-tr Panditabhushana Subrahmanya Sastri & Vidwan Ramakrishna Bhat, Soobbiah, Bangalore (India), 1947): "The divine lords of the eight quarters beginning with the east are in their order, Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirriti (demon), Varuna, Wind, the Moon and Siva." (adhyaya 54, sloka 3, p.459) "For three hours after Sunrise the North-east is called Mukta Surya (i.e., one that has abandoned the Sun), the East, Prapta-Surya (i.e., one that has attained the Sun) and the South-east, Eshyat Surya (one that is going to get the Sun) ; for the second watch of the day, the East, South-east and South respectively get those names ; for the third watch, the South-east, South, and South-west ; for the fourth watch, South, South-west and West ; for the first watch of the night, South-west, West and North-west ; for the second watch, West, North-west and North ; for the third watch, North-west, North and North-east ; and for the fourth watch, North, North-east and East." (86.12, p.648) "The eight quarters beginning with the East are owned by the King, Prince, Commander of the army, envoy, merchant, spy, Brahmin and manager of the Elephant yard respectively. Similarly, the four quarters East, South, West and North belong to the Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Sudras and Brahmins in order." (86.34, p.656) "The lords of the eight quarters, East, South-east, South, South-west, West, North-west, North and North-east are respectively Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirriti (King of evil Spirits), Varuna, Vayu, the Moon and Siva." (86.75, p.666)"

I have not compacted the above paragraph because it is apparently not available on the CURA website in English, and provides detailed evidence of ancient Indian cultural manifestations of the octagon archetype, both in the horizon and in the diurnal cycle.

Thus far it is clear to me that Patrice has provided a more substantial collection of evidence for transcultural manifestation of the number 8 as a structural archetype than anyone previously, surpassing Fagan, who seems to have had a narrower focus due perhaps to his siderealist agenda.

However impressive, this provides only circumstantial evidence of any structural effect on the individual psyche. It is true that anyone's mind is conditioned by the cultural environment of any society or tribe of which they are a cohabiting member. Therefore any archetype that helps to structure the collective will also help to structure the individual psyche. It is on this logic that the thesis presented by Patrice has its most substantial basis.

People develop a personal orientation to north, south, east & west, that reflects what is probably a universal cultural orientation. This orientation of the psyche is continually reinforced by diurnal motion, for everyone. But is there any evidence that we have a psychic orientation to the midpoints of the four quadrants?

(to be continued...)

Dennis Frank


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