Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #58

From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #57

Exegesis Digest Sat, 23 Sep 2000

Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 00:44:33 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #57

Dennis said:

 > Occult forces, as it were. Don't hit me, I didn't mean it!!

Hehheh.. well, that's not my take on it, but the general public is not so well informed about these things. LOL!!!

 > But when Jung provided a better explanation, only a more sophisticated
 > minority of the astrological community were able to see its merit, it seems.
 > Hard to blame the majority, it took me some years to reconcile myself to
 > synchronicity as an explanation. It appeared to lack a rationale. In
 > retrospect, I would critique Jung's effort, or lack of effort, in spelling
 > that out, since it is clear that he intuitively understood it. I guess he
 > felt that serious students would follow his lead and read the Book of
 > Changes to figure it out, but very few were ever able to be that serious.

Yes, he did provide an explanation, which would seem to be an improvement, but that explanation consists almost entirely of the observation and nomenclature. Intuitive understanding is acquired by experience, and can rarely be shared; we each get to provide our own personal explanation, which is equally hard to share.

Such knowledge is, to a large extent, of a piece with "revealed knowledge", I think, at least for all the good it does in establishing the sort of knowledge that can become the basis for further investigation. Which is why there has been little successful effort to build on Jung's work, I think.

 > Well, we all understand the processes involved; to name it baldly implies [snip]
 > cooperation, and differences rather than similarities.
 > I have noticed that contributors to Exegesis who merely issue opinions,
 > without either directly or tacitly inviting feedback, tend to get less
 > traction here, and tend to subsequently vanish into the ether. I'm not
 > saying your description above is wrong, since it describes a human relations
 > problem characteristic of modern civilisation, which contributors do often
 > demonstrate in this list. Just that I suspect a tacit recognition of
 > potential mutually attainable value is prevailing over that in the longer
 > term.

Your observation is valid, I think. Which is why I still contribute here.

My observations of the human condition are made with sadness, but the imperatives on this list are not those of the world at large and that human condition responds differently here. This attracts those who seek that which increases with value as it is shared, and who know that this is possible, I think.

 > Modern astrologers reserve the right to define astrology as they wish for [snip]
 > Fair enough. However it is theoretically possible to devise a definition of
 > astrology that allows practitioners to retain the freedoms and options

Deep chasms are found 'twixt theory and practice here < grin >

 > mentioned and implied in 2 & 3 above. Entrepreneurial endeavour in
 > astrology
 > need not be the carnival of self-delusion and collective hallucinations that
 > it has long been. Personal evolutionary development of each astrologer
 > requires freedom of choice and a range of options, and is harmful to the
 > mental health of the practitioner only when these do not connect with the
 > natural environment via collective reality.

Your point here is well taken. After all, as strictly defined, astrology is indeed a study, and it might be useful to at least contemplate considering that as a primary definition of astrology. Doing so puts quite a different light on these discussions.

 > There are three truths: what we agree happened, what we privately think [snip]
 > Ah! A doctrine of pragmatism. Wonderful!

Pragmatism is the recognition of what is (done) as having its own intrinsic value. The I Ching is one of the oldest observations of pragmatism, providing the basis upon which pragmatism becomes the means for spiritual transcendence. The basis of pragmatism is that of cause and effect, however, which perhaps makes it a less than comfortable philosophy to bandy about on this list < grin >

 > Whether the truth is ever perceived is not as important as the process of [snip]
 > Group process. A tough call in instances where "the same page" is blank.
 > But only a reductionist would insist that astrology is a blank page. Our
 > problem is that our page is an inherited tradition that lacks a contemporary
 > rationale. Having said that, I did go so far as to provide that for other
 > astrologers in my 1992 book "The Astrologer and the Paradigm Shift", but I
 > am interested in pursuing a collaborative approach,
 > because it might identify other key elements.

Astrology is far from a blank page, I agree. There are, as you note, some parts of the page that could stand being filled in, however. The collaborative approach is obviously one of the most powerful that can be applied, but it requires that those who participate do some actual work and not simply sit back and take pot shots at what is taken up for consideration. There are altogether too many critics and not enough performers, I think.

 > We've had lot's of heat and perhaps its time to at least begin to forge a [snip]
 > Well the current focus on a definition is the best place to start. I will
 > also extract essential points from the article on astrology in Encyclopaedia
 > Brittannica. In principle, there will be at least several fundamental
 > principles and hypotheses extractable from the traditional belief system.
 > Identifying these and rephrasing them in modern terms is an exercise in
 > metaphysics. [I lead a group process to this end from '87 to '91, and the

Well, yes, but even though the work itself proves futile, the process of doing it will undoubtedly prove useful in some fashion, so we should probably persevere here....

 > resulting compilation forms a chapter in my book. So far as I know, it
 > remains the only group document produced by a bunch of astrologers in which
 > every word was tested and approved by formal consensus of not only those
 > present at each meeting, but also subsequently with those not able to be

Would you be willing to at least abstract that for the list?

 > present.] Either as an extension of that exercise, or separately, the key
 > frames of reference and other main (operational) components of the belief
 > system (ie horoscope, planets, etc) would then have to be identified (on a
 > consensual basis, which will diminish for various abstract points such as
 > Fortuna).

That level of detail is probably not really useful at this point. We need some much broader foundations before we start renovating the superstructure, it seems to me.

 > How does one forge a synthesis? How does one test the result? Are these
 > antigonal activities?
 > The philosopher may create a synthesis by reconciling thesis and antithesis,
 > but you knew that. In group process, the forging of a consensual view or
 > program seems best performed by identifying those features of the subject
 > that people readily agree with. This process identifies the collective
 > framework of belief that already exists in the `group mind'. The discipline
 > of filtering the decision-making process through the filter of consensus
 > effectively eliminates idiosyncratic beliefs. Deviance is thus designed out
 > of the system.

Yep, that's mostly how it works, indeed. There is a problem here that you point out in the last sentence. Deviation is ill discarded, lest it contain a wheel that could not even be reinvented if it were necessary to do so. This is a problem fairly well known to science, and is why papers are archived whether or not they are well received, or received at all for that matter! This system doesn't always work as well as it could, but that it works at all is responsible for some rather spectacular advancements in recent science.

Which means we need a mechanism by which deviation is handled with enough grace that it is not summarily discouraged. That which does not contribute to the present may well be of powerful importance at some future point.

 > I hope your second question does not suggest scientific testing. Any
 > statement purporting to identify agreed key features of astrology can be
 > tested by the measurement of consensus. In practice, any astrologer may
 > dissent, so any consensus is measured by those who agree. The consensus
 > process I am describing requires that agreement to be rendered explicitly by
 > each contributor to the consensus. That's the test. Astrologers would
 > rather sit on their south node in the familiar time-honoured tacit position.
 > Progress requires them to actually use the other end of the time axis for a
 > change.

LOLOLOL!!!!!!! Caudus supra caputus!? Arse over teakettle!? Hoohah....

 > Since formal agreements on the nature of the subject have almost
 > never happened in the astrological tradition, any that are achieved that
 > document any degree of consensus will be significant progress, and the more
 > the better.

Good science demands that tests be appropriate and meaningful, which means they must be carefully designed for the situation. Doing so tends to eliminate that which is inappropriate and awkward, which is the main objection most people have to testing, I think.

 > The consensus process is of course in practice subject to being held hostage
 > by a single dissenter. Such a hiatus, when encountered, brings to bear
 > psychological disciplines for all involved. Effectively, the situation
 > becomes a test of viability of continued membership for the dissident, plus
 > a test of the merit of the grounds for dissent for the others. I found from

Which is why we need some graceful protocol here.

 > experience that collective progress required maintenance of focus on the
 > goal. There was a discipline involved in examining someone else's reasons
 > for disagreement in the context of the shared goal. It is all too easy for

Is it reasonable, in your experience, to contemplate a process of ordering these activities such that the examination of the disagreement doesn't wind up hampering the continuation of the main process? We are all aware of the all too human tendency to feel marginalized if what we offer is taken out of the main sequence, but it would seem that some prior agreement could address that. The trick is to keep the participants from investing their positions with their egos....

 > any majority to take refuge in their ready agreement, and not bring to bear
 > the discipline of considering any alternative. There must be always a
 > genuine desire by all to negotiate a common view, without taking the easy
 > way out by ignoring or ejecting the dissident. Remember that Einstein was

Yep, he was. And I think that science learned a great deal in the process of dealing with Einstein. Perhaps we could speak of that here?

 > originally a minority of one, who figured out that the prevailing world view
 > was wrong. In practice the group will sometimes agree to recognise that a
 > single member's personal conviction requires them to disagree to a
 > particular point while remaining committed to the goal and the process.
 > There is eventually the technical consideration of whether they will agree
 > to add their name in agreement to the entire document at the end of the
 > process.

The protocol here has always been to sign on with exceptions noted and considered, at least where the main body of work is recognized as fruitful... which again is why the process for dealing therewith needs to have some intrinsic quality of grace, I think.

Damn, Dennis, if we're not careful we might actually wind up having pushed this huge lumbering process down the river to a recognizable extent (at least on close inspection...) lolol!!!!!

This is exactly the sort of discussion we so sorely need here. Anyone else?

Jane Axtell said:

 > In a message dated 9/16/00 Dennis Frank writes:
 > < Belief in stellar influence ebbed amongst astrologers last century. It was > replaced by correspondence theory, most notably as advocated in Jung's
 > synchronicity principle.
 > This ebbing may have matched the simplification of astrology which must have
 > made it less reliable. Look at the difference between Alan Leo, the first of
 > the moderns... and Simmonite, the last of the prior type. In its current
 > version, astrology can be a lovely parlor game or a serious philosophy or it
 > can give authority to good advice, but very few know how to use it reliably
 > -- or what it limits are, or why.

Awww, Jane, dontcha know astrologers don't want to *hear* this sort of talk!!! It calls comfortable assumptions into question, one of which is that astrology is unquestionably improved by modern thinking and practice!!! Dontcha know that this is way beyond the tidy sort of intellectual display that typifies the ordinary astrological inquiring mind? Why, you could be....nah, you definitely *are* risking the upset of the listening mavens of current astrological culchya... lololol!!!!!!

And, dontcha know that you are stomping all over *my* stomping grounds here?!?!? Good grief, Jane, those are the sorts of statements that the likes of moi are supposed to make!!!!!! LOLOLOL!!!!!!

[Recursive commentary after finishing this post: I must relinquish sole title to these stomping grounds, as Juan appears to have staked out a rather large tract himself. Dunno whether Dennis has let title lapse here, though.... < grin > So stake out your own territory and welcome!!]

Actually, welcome to the current gaggle of astrodissenters!!!

 > Is the new definition more true, or just easier? Does synchronicity mean we
 > admit we are not serious?

To the extent that synchronicity continues to lack a robust definition, the answer here, I suggest, is an unqualified yes!!! As I said to Dennis, the term observes a perceived phenomenon which it does not even pretend to explain. As such, the use of it as an explanation itself is tatamount to calling a horse a horse because it's a horse!!!

 > A new style of practice has been developed in the "psychic services" and is
 > displayed within the reading rooms at Astronet. A yes or no question is asked
 > and the birthdate given. (I presume horary methods are invisibly at work.)
 > "Will John and I marry within a year?" The astrologer replies within seconds,
 > "A proposal may be offered in March."

Boy, is that an obvious use of technology or what?!?!? We would hope that Horary is used here, but I really doubt it. Horary, in its pure form, has nothing to do with the use of genethliacal practice, although it is not so common to find it in pure practice these days.... well, there's Alphee Lavoie, so it's far from being a dead art, I suspect. More likely, a natal chart comes up with progressions and transits, and there are stock techniques for all these questions. And if wishes were horses beggers would ride, and I never got a watch because I don't like turnips..... < grin >

More likely its all just a scam! Anyone out there know anything about this? I hear that the psychic hotlines pay $15/hr for time logged in from a home phone (no potty breaks on the clock, though.... < grin > )

 > Neither synchronicity or influence are part of the definition for this kind
 > of practice. Such a person might define astrology as a system for answering
 > questions which uses planetary cycles instead of Tarot or yarrow sticks.

We don't know this, I suggest, which is why I asked above. And besides, the Tarot and yarrow sticks are powerful tools in the hands of a competent seer, and you can ask me how I know... < grin >

 > Will anything said at exegesis make this respectable or lower its amazing
 > appeal?

Oh good grief, dontcha know us fustymustydusty old astrognomes who inhabit the realms beneath the exegesis bridge take great care not to leave any fingerprints behind? We handle such stuff here with impunity! And besides, nobody even knows we're here, mostly.... < grin >

 > Inquiring minds want to know.

Inquiring minds that don't mind messy mining are always welcome here. We are, however, usually fairly civilized about the crumbs of unfinished issues and detritus of unresolved controversy that litter the floor hereabouts.

< waves hello at Jane.... >

Juan said:

 > Juan seems to regard astrology as only a practice. What other 'ology can
 > be said to be only a practice? I'd like some frame of reference within
 > which I can understand this.
 > No practice happens in a theoretical vacuum. I do not think astrology is
 > "only a practice". I want to understand the theory that is behind that
 > practice without assuming a priori that it is "superstition" or dismissing
 > whatever doesn't conform to what I presume Astrology is or should be.

Excellent! My position exactly/

 > ... I'll amend that and assert that it is the *fundamental assumption* of [snip]
 > I said you were defining astrology "in terms of", not that was your
 > definition. You say you don't know what astrology is, and then postulate a
 > "theorem" or what you consider the "fundamental assumption" of astrology. I
 > already expressed the reason to criticize the logic behind your "theorem".
 > Let me express the reasons again (I am quoting from Patrice's quote):
 > < "There exists a mechanism by which certain terrestrial phenomena are made > subject to influence by certain celestial configurations."
 > so far so good, but then you connect this with astrology:

Not even "in terms of", Juan. The fundamental assumption is as I tried to state it rigorously, as is abundantly testified by astrological writing down through the ages. That it is not popular these days to regard the notion of celestial/terrestial connection is no reason to fail to recognize that this isn't the traditional basis for astrological practice.

 > < it follows that there do really exist smth we could call astrology, and > which merits to be investigated.
 > You are assuming too many things here:

What am I assuming here? If the assumption as I stated it has any validity at all, it warrants investigation, I suggest. That the whole affair is called astrology is not only appropriate from a literal application of the word, but from the well documented tradition as well.

 > < "there is a mechanism by which..." >
 > == you are assuming a "mechanism", a mechanical relationship, something
 > which belongs to the world of physics and causation, a relationship
 > interpreted in terms of a mechanical metaphor. This way of thinking is
 > completely alien to the original Babylonian and ancient mentality that gave
 > birth to Astrology.

Aww, good grief. I'm not an ancient and certainly not a Babylonian. I'm definitely suggesting that there is a physical effect at work here, although I make no definitive or descriptive statement of what it might be. The assumption that the use of the word 'mechanism' necessarily implies classical mechanics demonstrates a failure of an ability to think outside the narrow box of current intellectual fashion. The SOED defines the word as the structure or way of working of [..a] natural process. I use the word in that *primary* (1st def.: SOED) context, having repeatedly defined it as "an ordered complex of definable processes, by which a change is accomplished".

So, Juan, stretch your mind and find that I'm as reachable as the brass ring here!!!

 > < "terrestrial phenomena are made subject to influence by certain celestial > configurations..."

 > == Here you clearly state that astrology belongs to the field of
 > mechanical relationships where one thing is "subject" to being influenced
 > by the other, pointing to a cause-and-effect explanation. By stating that
 > "this is what we could call astrology", and quite wrongly assuming that
 > this is the "fundamental assumption" of astrology, you are narrowing down
 > --I repeat-- extensively any theoretical consideration of what astrology
 > may be.

Yep, pointing to cause and effect here. Do you see any non causal physical reality? Or do you suggest that this whole business is a figment of human imagination, an incredibly long lived mass hallucination?

I've repeatedly said that this appearance may well be illusory, but I suggest that the cause and effect connection is a place to start, though. Notice I say that we *could* call this astrology. And you have no basis upon which to declare that my suggestions are summarily wrong. Finally, how do you conceive that this broad platform contributes to a narrowing of theoretical consideration?

 > < "it follows that there do really exist smth we could call astrology, and > which merits to be investigated."
 > == First you DEFINE a type of phenomena (mechanical relationships between
 > celestial events and terrestrial phenomena), then you DEFINE that this
 > could be called astrology and that this is what merits to be investigated.
 > I have seldom seen such narrow a priori definitions of the scope and nature
 > of astrology based on so many assumptions about what astrology is, being
 > defended by someone who proclaims he doesn't know what astrology is.

Not my definition, but a statement of traditional assumption and an observation that this tradition has called it astrology. On that basis, I suggest that investigation is appropriate. Do you deny that the astrological tradition has been that there is a connection between the celestial and terrestrial spheres? Do you deny that it has popularly been considered likely to be causal? These are not my inventions, but an acceptance of the possible value of the tradition itself.

We might find it all too politically/sociologically incorrect to contemplate that these assumptions have any validity, but I reject the dictates of implied incorrectness. I suggest that we all do well to do this, lest we find ourselves constrained by popular assumptions that have no basis other than that of the institutions of Scientism, such that are all too willing to tell us what all cannot be possible, etc.

All I know about the definition of astrology is what the word itself means. I also know something about the current practice, but that can only produce anecdotal support for any theory.

 > This is not the "fundamental assumption" of astrology, but a statement of
 > position and belief.

But of course!!!! I am always careful to qualify my statements as my own thoughts or opinions. You may reject my proposal, as you wish, but that is no valid basis upon which to declare it summarily invalid. To do so places you on the hallowed grounds of the priests of Scientism who are altogether too ready to deny the possibility of anything that does not comfortably fit within some sort of arbitrary paradigm. You don't want to do that, I suggest.

 > You condemn astrology to remain limited to current practice, whatever that
 > is defined to be.
 > No. I have written repeatedly here, since my first post, that I see
 > Astrology in terms of what its practice has been since the time of its
 > origins. I have also stated that I am referring to "horoscopic" astrology
 > that can be clearly defined historically.

Fair enough. Horoscopic astrology, *if identified as the establishment of a tool necessary to modern astrological analysis*, is quite acceptable as an historical marker for the origins of modern astrology. Without that identification, it becomes arbitrary, and a fairly snobbish assumption of unspecified agreement that resides well within the boundaries of authoritarianism. To state this definition categorically without explanation is an overt act of authoritarianism, and I for one could reasonably declare myself insulted by such a ploy.

The short version of this rant is: explain yourself, or at least do as you have done (finally) in this post and provide some inkling that you have already established your position.

 > my website here: http://www.expreso.co.cr/centaurs/posts/theory.html

I checked this out and saved the whole page for further consideration. It turns out that Juan has fairly extensively stated a position, but not on this list.

I must say that Juan's thinking is consistent and insightful. He provides much for the establishment of a basis from which to launch a reasonable investigation. By and large, I find myself in agreement with much he says, and I am happy to have the writing filed for offline study.

Juan continues to debate Patrice and Dennis with citations from various authors. I would only comment that Leo Oppenheim was at his best when he declared that he had no opinion about the issues of the gods and the various mechanisms devoted to their observance.

We know a great deal about the ancients because they left us a written legacy, thanks to Assurbanipal, et al. It is fatuous to assume that we understand them completely after having read and studied that legacy. It is always important to remember that it is what is not recorded that is of greatest importance, because that is what was either a matter of reasonable assumption on the part of the reader, or knowledge too important to commit to writing. We will never know, and cannot assume that we can infer what was not included in those writings, and it is specifically those matters that are most relevant to the discussions here.

We are left with what we have now, and we have only the tools available to us today with which to address what we have. I suggest we be satisfied therewith, without assuming that we know what we cannot know.



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