Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #29

From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: this, that & the other

Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #2

Exegesis Digest Mon, 15 May 2000

Date: Sat, 13 May 2000 09:49:30 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
To: Exegesis
Subject: this, that & the other

In Ex5/27 Bill Sheeran made some good points... "Assume an ideal square room, with a door in the middle of one of the walls < snip > The four walls and the four corners scream out eight. < snip > if geometric archetypes exist, the diagonal demanded by a rectangle (or square) is surely one of them."

Yeah, I can certainly go along with the first suggestion. A psychological spatial orientation to the four corners of the world may indeed produce a secondary orientation to the regions midway between those corners in this manner, and one could reasonably theorise a subsequent disposition arising from any such orientation. As for the latter point, a technical quibble perhaps. Diagonals of a square normally connect opposing corners. Orthogonal to these we may conceive lines connecting opposing midpoints of the in-between regions that extend conceptually to the implied circle. If that is what you mean, the set of 8 diagonals does indeed map the octagonal spatial archetype onto that circle. But I can't see how this logic would apply to a rectangle without producing unequal spaces. Luckily, since any such rectangle does not exist in our spatial orientation to the world, this question need not be pursued.

"the Celtic New Year started on or around one of the cross quarter days, Samhain (today celebrated on November 1st, but originally the period bisecting the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, around November 6th). This suggests a conscious psychic attunement to the number eight < snip > "

I agree that this is significant. The subsidiary point about arbitrary historical dislocations of traditional calendrical festivals is also very relevant. Any research of the historical relation between zodiac and calendar seems to encounter such instances, in my experience. The implication that the Celts exalted Samhain due to a cultural disposition to the octagonal archetype is evident, but I agree that we cannot assume it is anything more than a suggestion. What later became a fixed cultural frame of reference (zodiac/calendar) was originally derived from the moving vernal equinox (or some other cardinal point depending which historical culture you look at). Often the moving point came close to, or aligned with, a prominent star, and the frame of reference was relocated according. So the sidereal position of the Sun at Samhain may have originally been endowed with cultural significance when a cardinal point was there, or indicated it in some associated manner.

"Another interesting peripheral point is that for the Celts, there were five directions - N, S, E, W and the Centre. One might wonder whether their astronomy/astrology contained an orientation towards the zenith and circumpolar stars, given that the obvious unique extended orientation in space of a centre point is a vertical one."

Well, as you probably are aware, this is precisely what the Chinese did, so it would not surprise me if the Celts did likewise. The correlation of emperor with centre, zenith and pole was very ancient, Indo-European era, when the Celts had not yet moved into Europe from the East. The original constellation maps, that the Greeks inherited from the Babylonians, came from Akkad according to my reading of late 19th century sources. The Akkadian incursion into Sumeria was Indo-European. Looks like there was an Indo-European cosmology which spread to ancient China, Persia & India, of which the Vedas are sole surviving textual evidence. Incidentally, I have seen a vedic quote that refers to a celestial `12-spoked wheel' (2nd millennium BC).

Bill Tallman, a month ago, still seeks to dispute a couple of matters: "There is never any "corresponding modernisation", Dennis, those are two distinctly separate processes. Most often one finds that there is a discernible gap between the historical research and any real use of the insights provided." [Ex5/26]

Obviously; but Bill has misunderstood by presuming I saw these as connected, whereas I had not!

"The undertaking of a modernisation rests on the endeavour 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."

I quite agree. Astrologers have needed both to discover their real traditions and develop a contemporary theoretical base for astrology. There is no essential connection between these two endeavours. There is merely a connection in practice, that derives from the assumption that there are conceptual components within the real traditions that have (eternal?) relevance to our future.

"To put the responsibility for the modernisation 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."

I did not put the responsibility there. Another straw man. Again, I agree with what Bill has written, except for that last sentence. Remember, my entire two decades involvement with astrology has incorporated modernisation as an integral (indeed, the primary) element. This includes collaborative endeavours with other astrologers to that end. The idea of anyone starting a modernisation process this late seems surreal. After all, Rudhyar made the substantive advances more than 60 years ago.

I'd recycled a perennial complaint, that astrologers had made no "effort to discover the past", instead "settling for hearsay and speculation." Bill responded: "Historical research is only carried out effectively by trained scholars, Dennis, and I doubt there are many astrologers who are qualified in this regard." My generalisation is only mostly true, of course. I have in my library some useful histories of astrology that have been researched and written by astrologers. The issue here is basically that of disinformation in the astromedia. In the '80s it was normal for astrologers in lectures and print to make untrue assertions (and promote personal fantasies as "fact") about (traditional) astrology because they could not be bothered finding out the reality of the surviving traditions. Learning about these was easy, and merely required spending time in the library accessing whatever source material was relevant an obtainable. The dichotomy between what had actually happened, been written, and believed in the past, and what astrologers were currently claiming, was remarkable. Any astrologer could discover this, as I did, and it was also remarkable that most of them instead preferred to avoid the real traditions. I appreciate that I have laboured this point several times previously in this list, and regret having to labour it again due to Bill's (apparent) disagreement. The psychology of denial is well-known these days. The issue here is one of collective denial, by the astrocommunity, of its real traditions. May be I am making too much of this mass psychosis, but it has always seemed to me a key part of why astrologers are regarded as loony tunes. Instead of learning the historical evolution of their belief system, and theorising how it was (apparently) derived from the operation of nature (just like science), they prefer to foster a collective hallucination quite divorced from humanity's communal reality.

Bill declared that "no trained scholar would countenance" "an assertion" "that all we need is a Project Foresight.. " To which I responded that one had emailed me that he agreed with that sentiment. If Bill was correct, this could not possibly have happened to me! Bill obviously still believes he is correct...

"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. < snip > 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."

Bill wants me to demonstrate the reality of the scholar who agrees with me and Dennis Elwell that astrology needs a Project Foresight. I could pull this particular rabbit out of the hat, but it is a matter of etiquette, and I judge it more courteous to leave it to that person to identify themselves. I trust this will happen :)!

Bill is illogical in dissenting from the traditional scientific view that a theory can be proven wrong by means of a counter-example, if that is his intention. If not, I need pick no further nit!

In Exegesis some months ago I wrote... "A couple of British astrologers published a book a few years ago in which they had compiled a number of such key eureka moments in the history of science, but I can't recall the title and have yet to access it."

Some time later this feedback arrived from Patrice Guinard: "I guess it's Nick KOLLERSTROM and Mike O'NEILL: "The Eureka effect" in Astrological Journal 30.2-3, 1988, and the book is: The Eureka effect, Urania Trust, London 1996." I will endeavour to track this down and report what, if anything, they have discovered.

The concept of the Eureka moment continues to seem productive to me, in terms of astrological research. In fact, as time goes by and I continue to encounter examples in (not always scientific) literature, I increasingly suspect this category of events may be essential to our investigation. The reason is that such events, as documented, are the not only the genesis of discoveries that changed the course of the human race, but they emerged from the subconscious, and presumably from the collective unconscious. Thus these are a class of events in which the astrological archetypes have constellated in a most significant and influential manner. Dissection of these synchronicities ought therefore to enable us to identify key correlations.

Patrice continues to expand his website http://cura.free.fr/cura-en.html, and the range of interesting essays is likely to reward any visitor. His site received Richard Nolle's award in March, with this comment:

"C.U.R.A. is a most ambitious bilingual (French and English) website, an essential online destination for anyone interested in radical astrology. C.U.R.A. is an acronym for Centre Universitaire de Recherche en Astrologie, i.e. University Center for Astrological Research. Indeed, webmaster Patrice Guinard seeks to engage interested university research departments in a dialogue on astrology. Inasmuch as he was awarded his PhD from the Sorbonne for a dissertation on astrology, perhaps Guinard will find accomplices in the Academy. For the time being, C.U.R.A. consists of some thoughtful articles on historical and theoretical dimensions of astrology: good stuff, no fluff."

Worthy of note is an excellent piece of astrological writing on prediction by Andre Barbault, providing a case study of one notable substantial success, with documentation. Those of us who routinely qualify our predictions as likely, or potential, in deference to freewill and the uncertainty principle, might perhaps consider the sociological significance of such rare cases. Astrologers who make a specific prediction of an event, in advance of the occurrence, and get it publicised in advance with media documentation, are a valuable resource for us all. They are exemplars, living proof that correct predictions of the future can actually be produced by (very few!) astrologers. That said, the documented track record of such astrologers ought to be examined, and any failures of prediction taken into account in a balanced appraisal.

In Ex 5/18 Lorenzo Smerillo gave us many useful details on various of our surviving sources, such as: "J.M. Ashmand's translation is of Proclus' _paraphrase_ of the Tetratbib. This is not the _text_ of Ptolemaeus' 'Tetrabiblios'." I have to admit that this is probably the so-called Tetrabiblos that I read at the local university around '83, and I may not have been smart enough to read the preface and note any attribution to Proclus. I hope Lorenzo will not be discouraged the lack of feedback until now, because further contributions here from him could be equally helpful.

Perhaps I could add that Thrasyllus was perhaps the most politically powerful astrologer in history apart from those emperors, kings, and popes who were themselves astrologers. He administered the empire for Tiberius, as did his son Balbillus, also an astrologer, for some later emperor (Claudius?). I forget the actual name of the office held, but it was equivalent to prime-minister in our (British) system of government. The nearest equivalent in the USA would be a combination of Vice-President and Secretary of State. Actually, the CEO of a corporation would be closer perhaps, with the relation to the chairman of the board analogous to that between Thrasyllus or Balbillus and their respective masters, so long as the chairman was also sole owner of the company.

This is all the definite impression created in my mind in the mid-'80s when I read what Professor Cramer wrote in "Astrology in Roman Law and Politics" (1954; sorry, no quotes at hand).

Lorenzo proceeded to follow up in Ex4/20 with other useful points. He is referring to both zodiac & decans when he says "the rationale behind the division of stars and signs into 12 sections, corresponding to the months, was to assign one of the three stars and constellations from each of the three 'paths' to each month. There is also a separate list of twelve stars for each 'path' with indication of their positions with respect to the others and to the directions of the four cardinal points. To note here, important for other reasons, I think, is the division of the months by stars, and the division of the month into three: one division for each 'path' of Enlil, Anu and Ea."

Not the first time I've seen this proposed, but it sure is worth repeating because it is still not well-known. The point is that the quaternal division of the year is readily accomplished by the solstices & equinoxes, but nothing physical creates a secondary trisection to produce 12 phases. The 3 `ways of Anu' derive from Sumeria. Anu is the original sky-god, the other 2 gods are his sons. His `way' is the equatorial region, the other two are south & north of that. The `ways' are divisions of heaven occupied in turn by the Sun, according to various sources I have read. Thus far, however, this is merely the potential basis of an explanation. Any rationale for the ternary division of the quadrants remains to be rendered in logic.

"However to return to the development of the zodiac constellations, Dr. Guinard is quite correct to say that the earliest textual evidence for this is from the 6th cent. BCE-- actually it is a bit earlier, in the 7th century, from the library of Sippar [[3]], a round tablet divided into 12 sections, each bearing a SUMERIAN names of the zodiac, that is, not translated into Akkadian, may lead to the conclusion that the Sumerians had a system of zodiacal constellations."

I think this is potentially of profound significance. It does seem like the only evidence for a 2nd or 3rd millennium BCE use of the zodiac that has been discovered. However, to advocate a sceptical appraisal, I note that Lorenzo does not provide an actual source quote. His source is Arabic, 1987. I wonder if Lorenzo can provide us with a textual translation that asserts identification of these "SUMERIAN names of the zodiac", by which I assume he means Sumerian names of the 12 signs. I hope he will if he can. I'm aware that the Akkadian period only lasted 2 or 3 centuries late in the 3rd millennium BCE, after which there was a period of similar duration when the Sumerians had a resurgence prior to the first Babylonian empire. However I have read that Sumerian was retained as the conventional language of the priesthood for centuries, so dating of this item to the 3rd millennium would not be automatic.

"In conclusion therefore I would say that the division of the zodiac into 12 signs is a refection of the combination of the 12-monthly cycle with the three paths of Enlil, Anu and Ea, as well as being a reflection of the mathematical insight that an arc of 360 degrees when divided by 12 gives a very easily managed and measured 30 degrees < snip > "

Seems reasonable as a premise, but it really does require development via logic to become persuasive. Queries left in my mind run along these lines... are the 3 ways merely spatial bands in heaven, as most accounts suggest? or were they also used as temporal divisions, as indeed most ancient divisions of the heaven were? if the latter, was it merely the solar year that was divided? if so, how? if it was also the diurnal cycle, as in Egypt with the decans (more ancient than the zodiac), presumably the diurnal division was mathematicised and later secondarily projected onto the solar year as seems to have happened in Egypt?

I hope you are still in contact with this list and able to address these issues, Lorenzo. If your academic responsibilities as Research Lector in Late Antiquity prevent you from spending time theorising along these lines, do please say so.

Dennis Frank


Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 19:41:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #2

Me Exegesis Digest Wed, 10 May 2000 Volume 5 Issue 27

Me Date: Mon, 08 May 2000 22:40:12 GMT Me From: Bill Sheeran

Dennis wrote:
 > 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?

BILL: Me Assume an ideal square room, with a door in the middle of one of the Me walls. Stand in the middle of the room, and face the door. It is hard Me not to notice the corners of the room. The four walls and the four Me corners scream out eight. Sixteen is pushing it from a visual point of Me view. Not the most sophisticated thought experiment admittedly, but I Me would imagine that if geometric archetypes exist, the diagonal Me demanded by a rectangle (or square) is surely one of them.

Me Given that you mentioned the Celtic tradition, it is interesting to Me note that the Celtic New Year started on or around one of the cross Me quarter days, Samhain (today celebrated on November 1st, but Me originally the period bisecting the Autumn Equinox and Winter Me Solstice, around November 6th). This suggests a conscious psychic Me attunement to the number eight, given that the Celts are hardly likely Me to have not attributed significance to the equinoxes and solstices.

Me Another interesting peripheral point is that for the Celts, there were Me five directions - N, S, E, W and the Centre. One might wonder whether Me their astronomy/astrology contained an orientation towards the zenith Me and circumpolar stars, given that the obvious unique extended Me orientation in space of a centre point is a vertical one. Me Unfortunately, this is an area in which I am ignorant.

Hi Bill;

This 4 + 2 + 1 orientation is (or was) widespread, and was the basis of many cosmologies and/or astrologies in both Old & New Worlds. (Why the Basques used a sevenfold planar system of directions (azimuths), though, is still a mystery to me).

Just one example, which is more obviously related to modern conventional astrology than most other cosmographies:

The QBL CUBE of SPACE (Golden Dawn Version)


Above - Mercury (B - Beth) East - Venus (D - Daleth) South - Sun (R - Resh) West - Jupiter (K - Kaf North - Mars (P/F - Peh) Below - Moon (G - Gimel


ABOVE East - Gemini (Z-Zain) South - Aquarius (Tz-Tzadi) West - Sagittarius (S-Samekh) North - Leo (T- Teth)

BELOW East - Cancer (Kheth) South - Pisces (Qof) West - Capricorn (Oyin) North - Virgo (Yod)


Southeast - Taurus (Waw) Southwest - Scorpio (Nun) Northwest - Libra (Lammid) Northeast - Aries (Heh)


Above/Below - Uranus/AIR (Alif) North/South - Pluto/FIRE (Sheen) East/West - Neptune/WATER (Mem)

1 CENTER - Saturn/EARTH (Taw)

Transposed to a sphere, we get 8 compass azimuths around the equatorial plane, and two more sets of 8 above & below, at +/- 45 degrees altitudes, which would correspond with the upper (Heaven) and Lower (Underworld) realms of many cosmologies, including Celtic/Brythonic.

For global Mundane astrology, I apply this basic plan to the celestial and terrestrial spheres, but of course it can be applied to natal interpretations as well, using Local Space.

Needless to say, the ecliptic is not necessarily the main focus. It is viewed within the context of the whole sky, including all 88 constellations, Milky Way, stars, etc.

The simplest way to begin exploring this kind of whole-sky astrology is to calculate the four cardinal points on the horizon relative to the celestial sphere & stars, plus local zenith and nadir. Other points can be added later.

However, it won't mean a thing unless one has some familiarity with non-zodiacal referents and stellar lore, especially constellational. (An astronomy program is essential).

After a while, (sometimes a very short while), one begins to include zenith & nadir in every consideration, and to wonder why on earth they were ever banished or forgotten, along with the rest of the non-zodiacal sky. We must re-emerge from Flatland and learn once again to appreciate the third dimension. (Although I suppose it has been more like using the two primary dimensions plus the temporal fourth, with the third missing. Like a sandwich & pickle with no filling).

In conventional astrology, the MC & IC usually represent points in the Upper & Lower Worlds while the Asc/Dsc relates to 'Middle Earth' (Midgard) or the mundane realm. But these three planes are incompletely covered, and the vertical poles not at all. I don't think astrologers have much of an idea about what this pair of points would mean in, for example, a natus. Although I'm pretty sure most other people, not unduly influenced by the modern astrological perspective, would.

In any case, since learning that I have Auriga at my zenith, and that Canada does, too, the adjustments have been salutary. Though I haven't yet decided whether to go with Auriga as Hercules' charioteer or as Poseidon's sea-chariot 8-)

In Dublin's case, surely the Dragon's Head plays a key zenith role.

-=R. A. M. Wilkie

___ Blue Wave/QWK v2.12


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