|Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #63
Exegesis Digest Thu, 05 Oct 2000
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2000 22:33:13 +1300
From: JG or DF
Subject: further definition of astrology
My intention here is to refine the suitable extracts from Brittannica into an alternative definition. Features essential to any satisfactory contemporary definition of astrology may or may not appear in any written or spoken definition. To err is human, and we have seen how the authors of these authoritative texts conform. We are evolving with our subject, so a correct definition is unlikely to be explicit in traditional sources, and it can only be expressed meaningfully in a social context via consensus.
In Ex5/59 I wrote:
> Brittannica online provides this definition... "astrology:
> type of divination that consists in interpreting the influence of planets
> and stars on earthly affairs in order to predict or affect the destinies of
> individuals, groups, or nations. < snip >
> "Once established in the Classical world, the astrological conception of
> causation invaded all the sciences, particularly medicine and its allied
> disciplines. The Stoics, espousing the doctrine of a universal "sympathy"
> linking the microcosm of man with the macrocosm of nature, found in
> astrology a virtual map of such a universe." < snip >
> Summary appraisal: The first sentence identifies the historic causal view,
> but is probably a fair description - replace "influence" with "apparent
> influence" to make it more viable nowadays. The only other useful section
> identifies the hermetic principle (`as above, so below'), the precursor of
> synchronicity. The duality microcosm/macrocosm (earth/heaven,
> person/nature) needs to be related to the unity `universal sympathy' rather
> more precisely to drive the point home. < snip >
Proceeding now to edit according to these directions, we must first note the approval by the Brittannica editor of their commissioned author's use of the key word `influence'. This is clearly in contravention of scientific belief, which has held for several centuries that there is no such influence. Postmodern pluralism prevailing in millennial editorial practice? Perhaps. Remember that influence happens to be one of those common English words (along with consider) with an origin that is completely astrological! It means inflowing, from the Latin root. The question posed by this: what is flowing in?
Pragmatists may decide that citing Britannica's acceptance of stellar & planetary influence suffices, and we need not explain further. I'd rather mollify the scientists by reference to apparent influence; in my opinion the influence that appears to come from the heavenly bodies actually comes from the entire system. In nature, any system coheres both by coordinating its parts, and by being coordinated by any larger system of which it functions as a part. It is systemic coordination that functionally relates parts to wholes throughout the holarchies of nature. It is an error of logic to use influence to imply mechanical causation as most scientists still do. Astrologers who think that planets cause things to happen on earth are afflicted by a similar short-sighted and erroneous view, like that of people who think that television pictures are caused by the tv set. Fixation on mechanical causation will get people arguing about whether they are caused by the camera in the studio, the broadcasting station or antenna, or any particular circuits involved. The real cause is the entire system, from studio through to your set. Only the systemic perspective is accurate; because it is holistic, and not reductionist.
Secondly, the use of "predict or affect" is problematic. Quite an extent of consensus has arisen amongst astrologers in recent decades that the abuse of prediction has precipitated such negative public relations for so long that any pretence that they can predict is unwise. Quite how destiny is affected by astrologers is left unspecified by the definition; it appears to add no explanation to the definition, so it is superfluous (even though I agree with the suggestion!).
Britannica's definition could therefore be improved as follows.. astrology
is a type of divination that uses the apparent influence of planets and stars on earthly affairs to interpret the destinies of individuals, groups, or nations.
The second useful section of the Brittannica article refers to astrology's map of the relation of the macrocosm to the microcosm (the horoscope) in the context of "the doctrine of a universal sympathy" (as above, so below). This refers to an ancient belief that the cosmos is alive, and everything in it is connected by its inherent pattern. Mysticism, pantheism, and eastern religions have long promoted this view. Also, the paradigm shift in science last century produced a flow-on effect in avante-garde culture in western countries that seemed to embrace it. Universal non-local connections between quanta have been proven by physicists, but opinion is divided on the up-scale implications of this. Recognition of Gaia as a live planet is now widespread, even if conservatives will remind you that the term refers to the biosphere, not the earth. Flu germs, incoming from interplanetary tides, wafting down from the upper atmosphere, remains a serious scientific hypothesis. An organic universe seems nowadays quite feasible, but we need not include its advocacy in our definition.
The horoscope, a map of the heavens at a particular place and time, is used by astrologers to divine the meaning of whatever began at that place and time. Usually the event is a human birth, and the potential character and destiny of that person is read in the map by the astrologer. The nativity is the microcosm, the heavens the macrocosm, and the horoscope shows the relation between them. From a spatial point of view, the event is the microcosm, and the surrounding environment is the macrocosm. From a temporal point of view, the moment is the microcosm, and time is the macrocosm. The horoscope encodes the event/moment in relation to the spacetime continuum. An astrologer may decode that relation in the archetypal terms revealed in the details of the horoscope. This is enabled by the archetypal qualities that emerge in the moment and unfold as potential in the event. These potentials can be seen to characterise the development of whatever process began in the event (life of a person, usually), provided the observer can discern them.
As above, so below. The hermetic principle endeavours to catalyse a realisation: things in heaven are essentially the same as things on earth. Since they don't look that way, the signal is intended to direct our attention to something that the two realms have in common that underlies appearances. The purpose is to elicit a metaphysical insight: the inherent quality of the moment on earth is actually the same as the inherent quality of the moment `in the sky'. From the point of view of philosophy, this becomes an hypothesis, which may be written up as a postulate, or just kept in mind as an assumption. It is an article of faith for the astrologer: each astrologer tacitly assumes it is true. So the specific qualities (at an archetypal rather than superficial level) of the entity born in the moment reflect the qualities revealed by the planetary positions in the horoscope. This correspondence between the same set of qualities emerging in heaven and on earth simultaneously is what the hermetic principle points to. This synchronicity depicted by the horoscope of an event may achieve cognition in the right brain hemisphere of an astrologer, and then be deciphered in detail by the left brain half in liaison with the right half, and then articulated via the left in words.
So the horoscope freezes (local) time in a particular moment, and the pattern in the sky is reflected in the map. It is the pattern which is common to both realms, above and below, and this pattern illustrates the archetypal qualities unfolding in particular configuration at that place and time. This pattern is complex, but the language of astrology allows it to be deciphered in considerable detail. The pattern is produced by the cosmos, from our experiential point of view, but the main structural components of the pattern are provided by the solar system and galaxy. The archetypal qualities emerge in the spatio-temporal matrix of now, in correlation with planetary positions. The Sun, Moon & planets, in relation to the stellar backdrop, signify those archetypal qualities unfolding in the moment of now. Further archetypal dimensions to the moment are provided by the local alignment of the pattern.
I see that it has taken me 3 sizeable paragraphs to cover the essentials of the matter, so a distillation must be attempted! The challenge is to integrate all key points concisely...
The cosmic pattern produced by the cycles of the solar system in relation to the galaxy of stars forms an ever-changing kaleidoscope to the observer, and astrology suggests that this pattern accounts for the changing qualities of time. The astrologer uses the horoscope to map the current pattern in the heavens in relation to an event, usually birth. This produces a representation of a moment of time, frozen in relation both to the surrounding locality and to the temporal continuum, in which the astrologer interprets detailed features provided by planetary positions in two spatio-temporal frames of reference (zodiac, houses). Astrology asserts the validity of the hermetic principle `as above, so below', and assumes this to mean that the cosmic pattern is common to both realms, so planetary positions signify the emergence of archetypal qualities synchronously in both the macrocosm of heaven and the microcosm of earth. Anything born in the moment, or begun in the event, is considered to be endowed with these archetypal qualities, and will develop and evolve accordingly.
These 5 sentences append to the earlier capsule definition of astrology, to provide a fuller definition. This can now be compared with the succinct definition that I refined from my dictionary (Ex5/56), and with any other contemporary definition that any other contributor may (hopefully) submit.
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 5 Issue 63
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