|Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #41
Exegesis Digest Fri, 28 Jul 2000
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 01:26:04 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #39
> I am convinced that astrological knowledge does not come from convention.
Fair statement. It does, however, imply the question of the source: if not from convention, then where?
> The position of stars are indispensable to correlate them with earthly
This is reassuring. As we shall see, you do not get agreement from everyone.
> "The study of the stars" is a proposition that does not say much, because
> astronomy and physic , as you know, also study it.
No, it says a great deal. Physics assumes relevance to the stars. Astronomy measures and seeks to establish the laws of their existence. Both of these disciplines are a few centuries old, and have their roots in older forms of inquiry, of which astrology is one.
In these cases, as well as others, the identified purpose of study is well defined and so sets limits on what is relevant, and does so according to a priori assumptions. While this works quite efficiently and has proven to be very productive, it does so at the cost of irrelevancy outside the defined limits of those assumptions.
When one says "the study of (a subject)" and does so without either explicit or implied limitations, everything is assumed to be relevant that is of that subject. This is the situation, of course, with astrology. The study of the stars can be expected to have some number of specialties that arise therefrom, of which astronomy is only one.
Properly, astronomy is a subset of astrology, but the studies of the celestial sphere (the stars) has been historically too powerful and important to allow to exist undivided, and so, like a monopoly, it was rent into parts that were differentiated one from another and related only according to other paradigms (physics, chemistry, etc.). Astrology, as such, is left with only that which could not be shown relevant within the "scientific" paradigm. Here, "science" assumes that everything can be addressed from within the current standard model and that which cannot either is an anomoly or does not exist. In my mind, this is the position of the industry of science which provides us with profitable technology, and which has firmly established that astrology is not an anomoly; it does not exist.
So, astrology is a somewhat special case of the use of an open model of inquiry and study, but the point I make is that it should nevetheless be recognized and treated as such, drawing from its established subdisciplines as appropriate (whether the practitioners thereof like it or not!). Accordingly, I suggest that we dispense with a priori limitations, such as the exclusion of astronomy, etc, and the exclusive assumptions of any given theoretical mockup; and I emphasize the last because astrology as we regard it *has* no theoretical basis.
> Astrology does not rests only on the greek tradition, because there are
> other astrologies that belong to other cultural traditions.
The astrology we practice is predominately Greek, I think. The tradition that survived to be recodified in the Middle Ages came from the Greek via the Arabic culture, which had taken it and expanded thereon. Even "Indian" astrology (Jyotish, etc.) has some rather Greek aspects to its formalism, apparently blending what survived from older times with the more coherent structure supplied by the Greeks.
Not very much of what we practice today comes from unrelated traditions, and I am not enthusiastic about the modern application of cultural practices we do not have sufficient data to establish an understanding of the original contexts of use.
> Imho, the aim of astrological inquiry is not to understand the essential
> reality of things ,as you say, but to grasp the essential meaning of the
> terrestrial phenomena (including the so called inner and outer experiences
> and events) as presented to our counciousness in the frame of our destiny.
I think we are saying the same thing here. I suppose I'm a bit more of a Taoist than you might be, and prefer to strive to allow the reality of things to express itself to me in its own terms, rather than attempt to formulate human-oriented meaning and significance as a first order of business. We have too much of our own bias to simply accept what is presented to our consciousness without some real critical analysis and review, without which we historically manage to miss the essence of things rather badly. As far as our destiny is concerned, it is a figment of our own perceived needs, I'm afraid, and serves to badly bias what potentially much more valuable insights we might manage.
> IOW, Infinite (or the Sprit, or God) talks to us. It is a very personel talk
> and yet vey universal at the same time. It talks through the Celestial
> Sphere as concretised in a Natal Chart and manifested in the continuum of
> space time that our counciousness is attached to..that we call it destiny.
You are describing what is generally considered to be "revealed knowledge", I'm afraid. It can only be intrinsically valuable to the perceiver: in this case, you.
My interest is in discovering what we can dependably share in terms of knowledge and understanding, and the history of "revealed knowledge" is sadly inconsistent from one person to another. This tends to create separate realities that come to compete instead of cooperate (see the history of religious interactions, almost all of which involve warfare, at least in the west....)
> PS. If there is any further interest in discussing this topic
> let me tell you that I will be out for three weeks, I am going to visit the
> tarahumara indians in northern mexico.
I await your return.
> My answer to your last question is "Yes". Generally speaking, astrology is
> not the "study of the stars" but of their motions and positions relative to
> the observer or --today-- to the center of the Earth. We don't "study" the
> planets or the stars but their geocentric interactions among themselves and
> with the Earth, which are given a "meaning" according to certain
> interpretational codes which are a human or cultural product, such as, for
> example, metaphorical thinking.
My comments to Armando are relevant here. What you describe is part of the current standard model of astrological practice and the attendent complex of assumptions and beliefs. As such, it is astrology as it might be relevant to the astrological operator: sufficient for the practical usage of a defined astrological construct or model.
What is assumed here, I think, is the irrelevance or even inappropriateness of astrological inquiry outside the given standard model. When no thought is given to the nature of the planets themselves, assumptions about their behavior are taken for granted that risk the development of practices that are without real basis, are thus without possibility of understanding in their own terms, and are subject to misuse, abuse, and corruption. This, I think, is born out by the plethora of divergent and assumedly contradictory practices in astrology. Of the many examples of this that abound, one can cite the egregiously ridiculous assumption that tropical and sidereal astrology are mutually exclusive; at least that one has been give respite in recent thinking, but there are any number of others.
> The astrologer does not deal with the stars per se, but with their [snip]
> The object of study is not the solar system itself, but what it is
> modelling, i.e., the flow of time.
This is a reasonably coherent exposition of the current standard model of astrological assumptions and beliefs. That standard model does not define astrology, but sets forth some current thinking in that regard.
> Perhaps it is useful to make a difference between what the ancient Greeks
> thought, and what they did, as we are able to interpret their approach to
> astrology with modern tools of thinking, and in a historical and cultural
> perspective. What they really did in their (and our) astrology, as opposed
> to what they thought or said they did, and as opposed to the Babylonian
[snip rudimentary explanations]
> In Babylonia the measurements of time are provided by planetary motions,
> or, in Greek astronomy, by the Sun (a very important cultural difference!).
Are you saying the Greeks did not utilize planetary motions? Or are you implying that they emphasized the Sun above the motions of the others?
> Planetary motions are "trajectories" ("orbits") which, unlike the
> Babylonians, the Greeks figured abstractly (geometrically) as distances in
I'm not sure what you are saying here. The entire Greek metric was lifted whole cloth from the Babylonians, who used the sexagesimal (base 60). That the Greeks considered geometry to be a key to divine insight, if you will, does not mean that the Babylonians were geometrically illiterate, for they were not.
> This is what I feel the coordinates of an astrological chart
> measure, these one-dimensional distances in a flat geometrical space which
> allow the trajectories to intersect, even though they never intersect in
> the real world. Like the cycles in a calendar, the intersections happen
> only in the abstract model. Whether they really happen or not in the
> heavens out there ***and in real time*** or not, with few exceptions, is of
> no concern to the astrologer, who works with symbolically manipulated time
> units and with discrete coordinates and abstract trajectories, never with
> real physical objects in the sky.
What I think you are suggesting is that the Greeks invented the graphic representation of a celestial configuration, based on the notion that it would provide insight into the nature of things terrestrial in that time and place. We use Greek terminology, because that is of our tradition, thanks to the good offices of the Arabs. It is not reasonable to suppose that the Babylonians were too stupid to grasp the simple concept of event oriented astrology. Granted we lack the manifold evidence that the Greeks left us, but there are examples of what can only be called horoscopes recorded in Linear B on clay biscuits, and if memory serves me, I think that the library of Ashurbanipal (sp?) contained some of these as well.
We give the Greeks credit for having invented a lot of stuff they simply gathered from elsewhere, and assimilated into their own thinking. What is important to understand about the Greeks was that they discussed anything and everything they could acquire in the way of knowledge, opinion, data, etc. They were probably the first western civilization to wean themselves of the dicta of the gods concerning the nature of things, such that they assumed the right and responsibility for figuring it out for themselves. Elsewhere, men of knowledge and learning spoke for the gods (or the reigning personage, which was often assumed to do so by divine right, actually). The Greeks, by and large, did it for themselves. But their genius was for organizing the knowledge, not for developing it.
The fact seems to be, based on the evidence left to us, that they didn't all agree on very much, except that it was an inherent blessing to be Greek, one presumes. So what we get is a methodology based on the attempt to let the merits of an argument serve as its only intrinsic value, and in the process, they talked a *lot*, and *incessantly*, even! That was the value of the Greek intellectual heritage, and you can find a rather surprising range of thinking on a lot of things in Greek philosophy, etc.
Maybe we should continue the process, and step outside the standard models of practice and belief, at least for the purposes of this list... which is dedicated to philosophical and theoretical astrological inquiry. Right, Fran?
I would be interested in discerning the theoretical bases for this current, or any other, astrological model, such that we might be able to figure out how to tell what is valid and misapplied from what is not valid under any application.
Date: Sun, 16 Jul 2000 17:10:18 EDT
Subject: Stellar spheres of influence?
Perhaps the stars of summer have made the distinction between literature and life invisible? What interest are the massive belts of radiance wheeling about us -- or even what interest our puny lives compared to theosophical purity?
Abstraction is an interesting tool. The skilled use it as a lever to pry out the secrets of life... or sometimes to move the world.
Abstraction without use or context is a kind of madness. Yes, let us place the context in the heavens. It must be somewhere and home will not do. The garbage is not out and the bills are due here.
Date: Sun, 16 Jul 2000 14:10:53 +0200
From: Patrice Guinard
Subject: RE to Exegesis Digest V5 #37 (and also #38)
Armando Rey wrote: "I refer to the work of Castaneda and his conception of the "assemblage point", a concept that explains, inho, much better that psyche the relation between consciousness and the totality of the being..."
It seems to me that the "assemblage point" of Castaneda is not an explanation, but a metaphor, and I quote it as so: "Astrological thought does not diverge from reason in the name of a nebulous "irrational", utilising a favourable environment (modern crisis of conscience, obliging feeling of nonsense...), but recommends going to the end of reason, to reach a fuller rationality, to displace the 'assembly point' (Castaneda) of consciousness, which determines what we perceive and are brought to know and recognize within reality." (in http://cura.free.fr/04amfa1.html)
Armando again: "It is my impression that everything you say about astrological knowledge could be applied also to other symbolic structures as Tarot, Kabalah, etc."
I also apply the concept of Matrix-Based Reason to some parts of philosophical discourse, and I gave some examples (Descartes & the 4 rules of the Method for instance). "As soon as thought proceeds from some source other than discursive reasoning, and there appear meaningful distinctions, the provenance of which cannot be traced back to discursive logic, then thought is functioning in the matrix-based mode."
But Thought is Matrix-based, because there is a bio-psychical frame, which exists within each person, and which is "related" to the planetary rhythms of the solar system. The symbolic structure of Tarot is conventional, even if it could have some relations with astrology. Symbolic thought is Matrix-Based insofar that the symbols seem to derive from any bio-physiological reality. For this reason, the ASTROLOGICAL SYMBOLS are alive because ASTRAL IMPRESSIONS are effective. That's not the case with Tarot, which is a conventional divinatory practice rather than a human reality that incorporates astral "incidences".
Astrology is based on a physical reality, whatever this reality could be (organical integration of planetary cycles...)
"THE PLURAL, MATRIX-BASED REASONING IS THE REAL TRUE ASTROLOGICAL ACT":
I repeat this, and sorry, Bill did not understand.
Astrology helps us to rise to a pluralistic understanding of a pluralistic reality, which transcends dualism. As I've read Rudhyar, I think it was one of his favourite ideas. Astrology is the way of thought for escaping to any form of dualism, but not for escaping to planetary reality. Matrix-Based Thinking doesn't only consist in interpreting charts: it consists in doing repartitions, in understanding the reality through numbers: 4, 8, 10, 12. And it was already everywhere the Ancient mode of thinking. See in China, India...
And these numbers are effective because they are organical postures of human complexity (differently organized in this one or this other one, according to the birth chart).
Bill: "Is the notion that the word 'astrology' means "the study of the stars" now considered irrelevant or perhaps even erroneous?"
This is astronomy. Astrology would be, with this point of departure: "The study of the stars IN MAN".
Date: Sun, 16 Jul 2000 20:46:16 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: Neptune rules, okay?
> Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2000 20:04:32 -0400
> From: Ed Falis
> So I hear this is where all the effete intellectual snobs of astrology hang
> out. The ones who consider theory seriously. Hope I'm welcome ;-)
I recall effete intellectual snobs well. A common breed early this century, mainly in Britain, but I haven't noticed any since they disappeared from television screens in the '60s.
Perhaps your informant was subject to a few misapprehensions, Ed. Effete means degenerate from flowering too early, and intellectuals who qualify for this tag are therefore more noteworthy for pretensions than achievements. Astrologers who qualify are numerous, but they avoid all intellectual endeavour like the plague, so Exegesis is the last place you'll find them. As for snobs, their prioritising of rank and social standing ensures that they refrain from destroying their reputation by dabbling in lunatic fringe arts such as astrology.
So any pseudo-intellectual astrologer will be more likely to regard theory as distasteful than take it seriously. Their personal motivation will be celebration of ego via performance, and hopefully adulation, rather than understanding of how and why astrology really works. Any suggestion that their understanding of theory is inadequate or incorrect will be automatically offensive to them, since it is their prerogative to define astrology in their own terms. No collective constraints apply to them, intellectual or ethical.
Astrology is therefore whatever any fool says it is. You make the rules up as you go along, according to whim. This suits the typical denizen of the current post-modern ecosystem down to the ground, of course. When pluralism is the prevalent fashion, anything goes. Thus the submergence of science in the welling new-age tide. Getting it right? Hey, don't be so old-fashioned! Learning how nature produces time cycles? Heavy. Learn how to do natural timing? Huh? Sounds good, but way too hard. Why bother, when you can get by faking it?
Of course not all astrologers go whichever way the winds of fashion are blowing. Some, afflicted by a paralytic conservatism, seek reassurance in the pseudo-authority of exams and diplomas, issued stodgy old institutions pretending to be the purveyors of astrological tradition. For some, this has the simple merit of pragmatism, in that you can prove you are an astrologer if you can wave a piece of paper saying so. The issuing authority never need prove that the pseudo-tradition it teaches is actually verified by any particular historical authority. The pretence is sufficient - they need not bother to huff and puff about it. Here too, collective constraints are non-existent and nobody needs to know what is really going on.
Modern astrologers, being a bunch of cretins, continue to assert that astrology is ruled by Uranus. They are too thick to spot that their personal flights of fancy, and collective seeking of refuge in fantasy, are due to the lure of Neptune. Imagination rules over innovation and intellect, for them. Their problem with the intellect is the social context which it is normally deployed to address. Personal meaning is exported in the attempt at communication of common knowledge. Use of the mind in such collaboration is pursued with the hope and expectation of eventual agreement. Culture as vehicle provides common knowledge and collective wisdom to future generations, with extractable survival skills. If we innovate (Uranus), it can either be personal or social in consequence. Social consequences of an innovator are produced by the collective resonance in the group mind (like-mindedness). Our imagination (Neptune) may inspire us to possibilities, but social change is actual. Innovation becomes real when the innovator adds a new dimension to reality (Saturn). Einstein on down, any innovator only ever produces change or revolution via real commonality. No primadonna mouthing off personal fantasies will have such social impact. All that hot air in the astromedia is doomed to vanish into the ether...
So to consider theory in Exegesis is to provide a positive alternative to the norms of astrology, I submit. As regards traditional theory, this means documenting what actually was recorded when and by whom, and identifying the extent of commonality with other commentators and practitioners in historical periods. As regards current theory, it means identifying elements of astrological theory and philosophy that are consistent with the emerging paradigm in science, to the extent that this is currently possible. The context ought to be mutual, multi-disciplinary endeavour.
A further collective constraint is due to the wider context. Human knowledge in sum must be derived from the environment, to be valid. Abstractions may be useful, and provide insights, but unless relations with context are established, they can be delusive and irrelevant. Our context is society at one level, the universal mind at a deeper level, and nature at the level below that. Any theory not based on nature is liable to be a waste of time in the contemplation thereof. Astrological theory that is not based on nature, the real world, what is actually happening, is inherently incapable of credibility. The interface between astrology and science is in nature.
Here endeth the lesson. However it is also worth giving serious consideration to those loony tunes, the majority of astrologers. Maybe humans can in fact invent their own personal realities based on fantasy rather than nature, and prosper therefrom. I suspect this is so. It is effectively a bootstrap exercise, and some people have a talent for levitation. We have all observed individuals pursue successful careers in entertainment and the media based on outrageous deviance and/or the spell-binding effect of imagery. Affirmations and the power of positive thinking can fuel meteoric trajectories for starry-eyed creators of alternate realities. Modern society seems to provide a culture supportive of such aspirations. Most contenders crash and burn eventually, but the most successful only after decades of the high life, and who can say if such individuals did not feel it worked for them, and was worth it. If Neptune rules post-modern culture, no wonder astrologers rush to conform. I think it is worth keeping this in mind despite my preference for a more constructive, natural approach to astrology.
So that was just a long-winded way of getting to say you're welcome here, Ed, from my point of view, if you are implying you have a serious interest in theory. I have offered some reasons why, which are not necessarily shared by others here!
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000 20:35:44 -0400
From: "Francis G. Kostella"
Subject: Reply to Bill
> Maybe we should continue the process,
> and step outside the standard models
> of practice and belief, at least for the
> purposes of this list... which is dedicated
> to philosophical and theoretical astrological
> inquiry. Right, Fran?
Indeed! Go for it!
My main concerns have been that this list be an environment for open discussion and investigation and that readers feel welcome to particpate. We have lots of lurkers here, perhaps some of them will now feel inspired to write?!?
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 5 Issue 41
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