|Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #43
Exegesis Digest Thu, 03 Aug 2000
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2000 01:32:55 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #42
> The issue of the common understanding of astrology as relating to stars is
> interestingly multi-dimensional. As already recently addressed by
> contributors, we have a range of opinions. Bill Tallman posed the question
> ""Is the notion that the word 'astrology' means "the study of the stars" now
> considered irrelevant or perhaps even erroneous?". I am tempted to answer
> "Yes!". [snip]
> Seems to me the real issue is what part the stars play in astrology as it is
> commonly practised. Majority usage includes only groups of stars that lie
> in the `path of the sun', the `signs of the zodiac'. There is also a small
> minority usage that employs the tradition of deeming significance to various
> bright stars individually.
In general, only those that lie in the 'path of the sun' undergo perceivably relevant change. I think I recall astrological speculation on the meaning of supernovae, etc., so the operative attribute is any sort of relative movement or change on the part of the celestial body.
> Star signs are widely recognised and used in popular culture, separately
> even from astrology itself, which fact must arise from some deep inner need
> felt by people. Perhaps in this connection lies the relevance of the answer
> given by Patrice Guinard: "Astrology would be, with this point of
> departure: "The study of the stars IN MAN"."
Now we are talking about anthropology/sociology/psychology. Is your assumption that astrology is a subset of one of these studies?
> Thanks to William for his careful comments. I must apologize first because
> this was my first post and I didn't present myself. I have been lurking for
> months, and only after reading William's question did I decide to
> I'm glad to hear that this is a standard model. As I suggested, I think
> there is a difference between theory and practice. Astrology can be almost
> anything you want in theory, but it may be something very different in
> practice. Is astrology what it is thought it is, or what astrologers do?
If we use the same sort of definition we use for other knowledge disciplines. it is all of these things and more. At root, however, it is the study of (the celestial sphere, if you will). This means it is the pursuit and application of such understanding as is provided by the study thereof.
Unfortunately, as with many devalued activities, it seems to warrant a minimum of effort and a maximum of exploitation. We find the current contributions to astrology to be largely endless rehashes of a few genuine contributions, all of which overlay a millennia old technology that is neither understood nor more than desultorily questioned.
> still do the same thing, technically speaking. The ideas about astrology
> and its function may change from individual to individual, from epoch to
> epoch, etc., but, in my opinion, these ideas must match what is done in
> practice, and, in practice, since the time of the Greeks, the astrologer
This is a less than useful restatement of a basic principle of science: theory must satisfy observation. Practice follows, or should follow, theory that is vetted. Theory should never follow practice. Practice and observation may occupy the same megaprocesses, but the two are entirely different functions. Observation often requires experimentation, which is designed to discover something, to learn something. Practice is designed to accomplish something. It's sometimes easy to confuse experiment and practice if one is an uninvolved observer, but they have two somewhat mutually exclusive purposes, and a process that can serve both purposes cannot effectively serve them both at the same time.
We have a great deal of practice, and little or no experimentation, hence no theory from which to practice with deliberation.
> doesn't deal with "the stars", but with coordinates projected on a plane.
Yes, this is true. It is a mechanical process, the origins of which no longer have general reality.
> This distinction is basic to me. I would welcome any illumination about why
> this distinction is not important, or wrong.
Will that do for starters?
> I honestly don't know what is standard or not. To inquire about the
> planets, or their "behavior" (whatever that means) within a model of
> thought based on present astrological practice, would be quite irrelevant
> or inappropriate IF the model used is contradicted by that practice, which
> is often the case. Or to say it differently: the inquiry, to be relevant,
> must be based on something which is not modern astrological practices,
> which, by their nature, contradict the idea that astrology has something to
> do *directly* with "the stars out there".
The basic premise of astrology is that there exists a correlation between the celestial and terrestrial spheres, such that can provide the observer with useful insights. This premise is denied by all modern astrologers, largely because not to do so is seen to play into the harshly critical hands of professional "scientific" skeptics. So our standard practice is supported by a standard model that denies the validity of that practice.
In consequence, we are reduced to droning on about abstruse psychological complexes and arcane constructs supported by invisible connections to supposed realities.
> Everything is subject to abuse and corruption. What practices are those you
> mention? Why do you assume they have no basis? Isn't this assumption a
> result of the specific model you are following or using? By not having a
> real basis in your model, are they misleading? Isn't all this relative?.
Indeed, everything is subject to abuse and corruption.
Any practice that has no basis in understanding is a potential abuse of that upon which the practice is purveyed, and I've yet to see any reasonable basis of understanding for any astrological practice, other than that of personal experience.
I'm not using any specific model to support these observations. The one I use is pretty traditional, and I use it very effectively, but I cannot tell you why that is so. I cannot tell a client that I understand why what I do works, and so the client has the right to inquire how, indeed, I even know that it does work. That is the problem of astrology.
If we assume that it is appropriate for all to be relative, then that will become so and there will be no basis upon which to forge any useful and robust agreement. This is probably a general truth, and I suggest it applies specifically to astrology.
> Generally speaking, perhaps it is not a question of practices "having no
> real basis", but of a basis which is to be found or inquired about, since
> it wouldn't be a practice if it did not have a basis.
Certainly all practices have a basis, or a reason for existence. The problem is that those bases are all too easily entirely divorced from any connection with the practices themselves. Ulterior motives... hidden agenda... it is suggested that some amount of astrological practice is simply a sham for purposes of ego support, etc.
> There would be nothing wrong with this plethora if astrologers would be
> aware how much what they do contradicts what they say or think about the
> nature of astrology. The plethora is not the evil, but the
> inappropriateness of the models that claim to explain it. They may not be
> contradictory at all, but natural results of basic astrological principles.
> Perhaps the apparent contradictions of many practices is a sign that the
> model we have to explain astro-practice is inadequate.
> I agree with your example. They are complementary. But I understand to a
> point the "fight"of siderealists, which comes out of the fact that
> tropicalists often choose to *ignore* the sidereal perspective, or are
> unaware that they are being "tropicalists".
That is a very temporary condition, as most astrologers discover something of these other practices very quickly.
> Another example, in my opinion,
> is the "egregiously ridiculous assumption" that the many alternative ways
> of calculating the houses, or primary directions, means that one and only
> one can be correct and all the others are therefore incorrect ot wrong.
Yep. That's one I didn't cite, and it's probably even worse than the zodiacs.
> What is "Astrology": an idea or a practice? What defines astrology? Is it
> acceptable to maintain an idea about astrology which is contradicted by
Astrology is both an idea and a practice and more. Astrology is defined by many things, but those definitions should be consistent. In the case of astrology, they are most definitely not consistent. I've already addressed ideas and practices.
> I said "the measurements of time". From what I learn from my readings there
> are many differences between Greek and Babylonian astronomy. Babylonian
> astronomy was based on the motions of the planets correlated among
> themselves in the night sky (sidereal), and therefore their sense of the
> passage of time was very weak, whereas Greek astronomy was primarily
> concerned with the Sun, i.e., with the exact measurement of the timing of
> events, where events are measured against solar phenomena or markers. The
> Babylonians used the night sky as their reference frame, the Greeks used
> solar markers (tropical zodiac).
I agree, in part. The Babylonians weren't all that unaware of the passage of time, though.
> This doesn't mean that the Babylonian didn't know the things the Greeks
> knew. It means that their cultural values and practices were different, and
> so was their astrology and astronomy.
> You didn't address my argument that in practice, as opposed to theory, the
> astrologer doesn't deal with the stars except indirectly. Once the map is
> done, the astrologer deals with the map, not with the observed reality of
> the heavens. There are even many who believe that calculating planetary
> positions is not astrology but astronomy... in which case astrological
> practice *never* deals with "the stars".
Your observation about practice is accurate, I think.
I've stated that astronomy should be properly called a subset of astrology. So astrologers should be expected to at least be competent in basic celestial mechanics, such as are necessary in the calculation of a figure.
The basis for the confusion between astronomy and astrology is an invention for the discomfiture of astrologers, and they appear to buy into it easily. Too bad.
Good post, Juan.
Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2000 16:32:39 EDT
Subject: Astrology and the Stars (and other bodies)
Astrological practice is the sum of practitioner behavior during the hours they are practicing. Each of us knows a portion of the larger body of astrological practice, because each of us contributes (or so i believe).
When teaching i will start a class with a brief excercise in "feeling the earth turning", or transits permitting, feeling Venus rise.
Astrologers such as the Erlewines discussed direct perception of planetary effects when bodies are at certain diurnal angles. (This was in the calendars of the mid-seventies, now long gone from my library.)
Carl Payne Tobey was concerned that the moon did not always rise and set with as indicated by chart calculations and brought back right ascension as a measure. He did endless experiments with gyrocopes and pendulums to understand the earth among the planets.
Private "amateur" astrologers have told me in their libraries that they directly perceive the passages of the celestial bodies, indoors or out.
Personal friends in practice for decades have learned to see charts in the heavens and recognize emotional seasons form the visible condition of the moon.
I have been stunned into electrified silence by the passage of a galactic arm directly overhead.
Stephen Forrest takes workshops out under the stars to experience directly what we describe in readings.
I could produce many pages of such instances but these may be enough to indicate that astrologers relate to the visible and invisible sky through direct experience in preseent time.
Further, interpretive norms are constantly being verified and renewed through a matching (or mismatching) of public and private human events with celestial pattern. When competent serious astrologers compare these working notes, we find that the real sky is shining through whatever diagrams are being used to present an abstract of its past condition. By this i mean that the verified interpretive thrust is the same whether it is abstracted in Vedic terms or tropical or right ascension or any of a number of other possibles.
There are some differences. When i did Braha's version of Vedic calculations on my own history i saw themes that had been invisible from a Western perspective. On the other hand, these themes did not interest me. This and other explorations convinced me that each culture studies what interests its members -- and what can be borne within that matrix. The whole sky with its billions of bodies, stellar and otherwise, is too much for us.
What else varies, and seems cultural, is the prescriptive response. The astrologer advises how one might live well or wisely under the transits. (They won't go away until they go away.)
Hmm. It almost seems silly, having gotten this far, to say i take the signs to summarize the starry background since the detailed study of those influences may be impossible (with some exceptions). I have always understood them this way. When some astrologers dismiss stars and even the signs them selves i think, "Oh mucking with those real and radiant stars is too much for you. Poor baby."
Since i too am frequently awed and silenced by the complexity and beauty of the larger background, i cannot speak against those who claim to dismiss it. In their actual work it creeps back through cracks and pinholes of the system designed to keep it out. Brightens up the place.
Where else but Exegisis can one discuss the unspeakable truths of astrology?
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 5 Issue 43
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