|Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #64
Exegesis Digest Sat, 07 Oct 2000
Date: Wed, 04 Oct 2000 23:32:00 -0400
From: Ed Falis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #62 Bill Sheeran
I have to think a bit more about Bill Tallman's comments, though I suspect he overestimates me. In speaking to the list, I only saw myself as starting to participate.
For now, Bill Sheeran's is plenty to chew on:
Bill, you raise a number of issues that are hard. The question is whether we choose to make them harder than they need to be or not.
I remember after my first ten years of intensive astrological study, and a certain amount of practical experience, that I used to describe what astrology is as a system that helps us order and articulate data we pick up through a variety of channels into information - meaningful data. This included for me the things we observe, the feedback we receive from clients, but most particularly, those subtle bits of data about how things are that tend to float beneath our normal consciousness, but which we have moving through us nonetheless.
After a number of years away from active astrological study and practice (but with many ideas still cooking in the back of my brain), a number of complementary ideas came to me. These were based on exposure to complexity science (as for you), but more significantly on the practice of individual and group software development, an activity that's founded on modelling much as I believe astrology is. The arguments there are no less rancorous than among astrologers.
I came to see software development as a profound laboratory working out a cliche one sometimes hears in that field: "The architecture of the software nearly exactly reflects the organization that builds it". The profundity is in recognizing that it's an experiment in the nature of individual and group creativity, and more importantly, in the nature of how individuals and groups meet the borderline between subjectivity and objectivity. Of course, one could say the same about business, and begin to understand why Alice Bailey laid so much on such organizations as the leading "7th ray" edge of the "new age". Quite a surprize to me, but read Mike McMaster's "The Intelligence Advantage: Organizing for Complexity" some time for a pragmatic consideration of a complexity science view on business organizations. The effectiveness as a laboratory is that the act of software development gives highly accelerated feedback relative to other engineering subjects.
So where does that little wandering lead?
First, anytime we're involved in modeling we're up against that threshold between the apparently subjective and objective, the questions of where we draw the borders, of how we choose to ignore data or interpretations for a specific purpose to hand. Modeling always involves bounding the universe of discourse we intend to treat for some particular purpose. The problem is that often the modeling and its application becomes so stereotyped that we forget that's what we're doing, and mistake the model for reality. We can see this in much of common astrological practice, but no less in the application of differential equations to engineering problems. A profound act becomes automatic.
Second, subjectivity and objectivity are a continuum. Sufficiently largely agreed-upon subjective assumptions are an objectively real at some level. This is obvious at all levels of our lives (stock market, anyone?), and even at the level of what appears to be almost biologically-driven ways of processing experience, such as mathematics, and I contend, astrology. The chemical software that is our genes structures minds that tend to process similarly enough to lend "objectivity" through shared subjective stances. And below this is the commonalty of perceptive mechanisms, which are in essence active, filtering receiving-devices.
Third, software engineers have tried to treat software as a classical material, applying processes and techniques used in other branches of engineering to it, with only limited success. I believe this is because it has such a high individual and collective subjective component to it. It's too malleable, only being approximated in malleability by chemical processes, but much faster in its feedback.
I think all of these observations apply to astrology as well, as a way of modeling individual and collective experience of the real (whatever it may be). Its uniqueness lies in certain of its qualities as a modelling language:
1. It models complex systems from the perspective of attractors considered qualitatively, rather than as generated by differential equations. Therefore, it's an exact complement to usual "complexity" approaches, but sharing the same subject matter, and potentially a common overview. The assumption is that there are certain qualitatively definable attractors (the planets primarily) that exist in any complex system, and that we can model from that perspective as well as that of discovering what the initial conditions and characterizing equations churn out. This is pretty much straight Rudhyar in more modern language.
2. It relies on the assumption of moments of time having unique qualities and relationships among them, as measured by the tokens of its modeling language - our celestial environment - and the relationships among those tokens. A mystical assumption, perhaps. But is it any more mystical than the assumptions of mathematics? Read G. Spencer-Brown's "Laws of Form" sometime. It's a relatively accessible little book that starts with the simple act of consciousness of making a distinction. It postulates (if I remember rightly) two simple axioms. It then goes on to derive from this humble start boolean algebra, the so-called axioms of arithmetic, a calculus of logic and the logical analog of complex variables with feedback. Reminds me of ME Jones, to be honest. And it's of practical use.
3. Almost uniquely among modeling systems, astrology bears within itself a reflexive reference to multiple "subjective" perspectives in applying itself. This is evidenced in such frameworks as zodiacal and mundo positions. Each such circle is a different way of slicing experienced reality, of adopting a possible perspective. Intuitions of the whole lie in cycling through such perspectives and seeing how the information differs from various stances. (Actually, there is one guy in the software world who recognized this, and the fact that different perspectives both hide and reveal). This is very powerful, as it acknowledges the role of subjectivity (as Bill mentions below), but in a more formal way than is seen in most modeling methods.
That said as a backgrounder to where I'm coming from, on to Bill's comments below. Sorry about the rambling - I know this has been coming at it a bit obliquely.
> Part of me agrees with you that such phenomena are not "essentially
> astrological", and part of me is confused over the issue. Are they
> peripherally as opposed to centrally astrological? Do they represent
> some kind of limit condition in the whole field? Is there a separating
> boundary (when wearing astrology spectacles) between the subjective
> experience of the heavens as a physical system and the experience of
> them in a non-physical sense. I see a spectrum from astral divination
> to celestial mechanics with particular mixes of each in certain parts
> of the spectrum standing out as peak levels which then take on the
> form of discrete astrological forms. Not the best analogy, but perhaps
> you can see what I mean. Change to contemporary astronomy spectacles,
> and the spectrum disappears.
Remember the little bit I mentioned above about how a particular modeling stance both hides and reveals? Some systems are more intensive along a given dimension of activity or organization than another. If a modeling approach happens to focus on that dimension, then there will be more learned about the system using it than through another that deemphasizes it. I think the effect applies here.
As far as subjective vs objective, some effects we see through astrological lenses are very individually subjective, some collectively subjective, some biological, some astrophysical. It's all gradations. Astrology will tell us more about certain kinds (or aspects) of things than of others, cutting across that particular way of classifying things. In programming language design, we call them orthogonal issues, in the sense that they're relatively independent of each other. So, in a sense, it's not so much a matter of the mix of subjective and objective as of the relative pragmatic weight of the astrological view in understanding some phenomenon vs other possible views. Many will always apply. What combination of them meets the need of the moment? Which reveal what's of most interest to us in the given situation?
So, to be direct, they are not inherently astrological at all - they are just susceptible to being understood pragmatically from an astrological stance perhaps better than in other ways. They're subject matter for which the astrological modeling stance bears fruit.
> To me, the subject of astrology is complex systems and their =
> I'm agreeing still! In fact (as you may have noticed in posts on other
> boards), I think this notion is crucial to its eventual understanding.
Yes, we have agreed on this for a while. ;-)
> The astrological stance is a language of describing=20
> (modelling) such systems qualitatively, or analogically, using an =
> that moments of time have each have a distinct quality, and that the =
> interactions of the "clocks" in the sky can be used as indicators of =
> I personally would differentiate between the "complex interactions of
> the 'clocks'", etc., and the complex systems which we map astrological
> symbolism onto.
You're right - my use of "complex" to describe the elements of the astrological language was really bad in the context of the rest of the sentence. I did not mean it in the sense we'd been using here. Nonetheless, those motions and the views we filter them through are the language of astrology, regardless of coherence to complexity science.
> I don't think they are congruent forms of complexity.
> or example, the latter often have the capacity to self-organise,
> while the former (the solar system) doesn't show much evidence of this
> in its current state, even though it does contain within it elements
> which exhibit complex behaviour (such as the chaotic tumbling of
> asteroids as they move in their orbits). I think conceptual problems
> can arise if one is not aware of this difference.
Sure. The physical happenings "out there" used as tokens in our modelling system supply us with a vocabulary that resonates to some degree with the subject matter we apply it to. But it is no exact fit, anymore than the language of mathematics is to its applications, or even the concept of self- similarity as it plays out within systems at multiple levels of organization. As you say, we have to be careful dancing on this subjective/objective interface of confusing the map and the territory. Very easy to do with our cultural background and human nature.
> Where I differ is that Juan validates the current astrological paradigm
> Kuhn's sense - a set of practices) as what astrology is. I disagree
> that it
> is essentially a set of cultural constructs, because I look to
> mathematics as
> the closest cousin of astrology.
> I'm not sure if that is what Juan thinks, but will leave him to
> comment on that! My own perspective would acknowledge the following
> point you are making:
I think maybe I overstated my perception of Juan's position. But that's part of the weapon he chooses to make a distinction I'm also making - that of not confusing the map and the territory. His tactic is to try to get people to look at what they're actually doing as opposed to its rationalizations. I agree as far as it goes. But I think that it goes deeper than characterizing it only as a set of cultural conventions - it seems to be a symptom of those hardwired parts of our brain that do things analogically rather than linearly. Therefore this kind of thinking is likely to occur in many cultures, regardless of the form of the meme spread through direct interactions among them.
> And within mathematics, there are formal
> relations, rules and so on that seem to be embedded more deeply in the
> biology of our minds to an extent that cuts across cultural paradigms.
> and that this has relevance for astrology. However, I also believe
> that there is something very strange about astrology that can only be
> really understood when we know more about the way consciousness works.
But isn't mathematics (and again, I believe, astrology, and "spirtuality" and art, and all other human endevour) an almost base-level manifestation of how our consciousness works, beneath (or at the root of) its cultural development? There are "forms" to the processes of consciousness that we manifest in what we do. If anything, mathematics has historically been one of the prime ways in which we reflect the nature of consciousness, though often not all that explicitly. Though at the surface, it's primarily formal, at the root of every mathematical system is the mystical assumption of "we take this as granted for our purpose".
> I find it hard to escape the divinatory aspect. If one acknowledges
> that there is a dimension to astrological practice which is highly
> non-rational, then the diverse ways various tools are used which seem
> to indicate the incoherent nature of astrology become less
> problematical. They are a facet of the astrologer's involvement, and
> these are indeed both culturally influenced and highly subjective. I
> personally don't see this aspect of astrology as excluding the formal
> relations which hold the thing together at a deeper and more essential
As I said earlier, modeling is a subjective act, and astrology is in some sense a structure for dredging up and articulating data into a meaningful form, so I see no conflict here on the surface. But I still believe we gain more when we attend consistently to our vocabulary. It's certainly rich enough to cover more than we can apply it to now. As a communicable system, rather than as an example of masterly individual craft, I like to refer to what's happening in the sky, and conventions derived cleanly and consistently from it as the basis for interpretation.
> On the other hand, this subjective aspect of astrology raises the
> spectre of out and out relativism. This is a big problem.
Is it? Relativism always gets grounded in its context. The very places where there is variation arise out of the accepted underlying stances toward things. And as I said above, it goes deep, into our shared perceptions of reality based on what we are capable of perceiving. So, I don't see any problem with relativism - it's always there, but it arises out of deep commonalty. And you're familiar with "requisite variety" in the language of complex systems.
> However, at
> some stage there has to be some serious exploration of the ground
> which exists between the rock of objectivism and the hard place of
> subjectivism. For example, there may be an underlying common ground
> (such as the formal relations and rules you mention for maths),
> perhaps based on archetypal levels of order (as suggested by the
> phenomenon of Number, and our experience of it both qualitatively and
> quantitatively) as they emerge in processes (which may also be
> accessible using non-astrological techniques such as straight
Yes, and I think that it's exactly astrology's potential that its language allows a shared treatment of this issue, in a very rich way.
> Do the diverse techniques used act as devices which allow
> access to this underlying level, that can be approached from different
> 'vantage points', giving rise to the same insights? In which case,
> maybe converse lunar progressions (for example) 'work', despite it
> being a 'loony' notion when considered without taking the astrologer's
> involvement into account. It's not the converse lunar progression
> which is actually the key factor, but the relationship between the
> astrologer and the underlying 'formal relations and rules'.
This one is a bit deeper. There can be an intuitive relation between the technique and the astrologer. There can also be formal consistency within the vocabulary. Which is more communicable? In a sense, it's a pragmatic issue. Can future generations come back and more easily duplicate an intuition with or without a formal system to sustain it? Buddhism, for instance, has remained very effective across many cultures because a (actually several) formal system for reproducing certain intuitive subjective states has been part of its thrust all along. Of course, folklore and superstition can communicate likewise, but at the cost of deep understanding. So to me, the question is what kind of system can reproduce that intuitive relationship effectively. Astrology requires the analogical thinking that is a large component of intuition.
> In this sense, I can say astrology is what astrologers do; that the
> practice is the key to understanding its nature, because practice
> implies practitioner; and that rationalising techniques only
> illuminates the surface layer (creating confusion!). The techniques
> are devices which are of secondary significance. Which may seem
> paradoxical - techniques are of secondary significance, but practice
> is the key to understanding. The resolution of this seeming paradox
> comes from including the practitioner in the equations.
In astrology, as in all other human endeavors, the practicioner is never outside the equation. This is a red herring. The real issue is what is effective for passing understanding along and building on it. Technique is an expression of theory meeting practice, and is open to refinement. Consider theory as a constantly refined seed for transmission of knowledge, and technique as its manifestation in given circumstances. Which is more likely to carry forward while maintaining efficacy - theory without technique, or technique without theory? This of course assumes that there's no such thing as real theory divorced from reality testing. If individual engagement with a set of techniques can't be rolled into such a seed form as to allow its re-derivation, it will only be distorted over time. And a lot of what gets used today strikes me as being of that nature. Not that I'm a fundamentalist or anything ;-)
> Right now, I think it's the
> mathematics-like aspects of astrology that are most in need of
> I agree - this and the cognitive aspect, which to my mind is the key
> to a very big door. We've had 5000 years of maths, and only a few
> decades of cognitive science and consciousness studies, but hopefully
> progress will be made in the next couple.
I differ a bit in opinion. Math has been one of the prime ways we've had of studying consciousness. And there have been many long roads of parallel consciousness-studying endeavors. I wouldn't dismiss them simply because they don't fall within the purview of the scientific model.
> "Well, it works for me" is fine, I suppose, at the =
> of craft, but it doesn't move the astrological enterprise forward.
> No, it doesn't. But at the same time, it may be wise to look at that
> common utterance, and ask whether or not it is telling us something
> significant about astrology's nature. How come people get their weird
> techniques to work? Are they deluding themselves? Maybe. Are they
> *all* deluding themselves? Am I deluding myself? I'd like to think
> not. But is it likely that I have somehow chosen out of the bag of
> tricks techniques that are bona fide, and the ones which are left
> behind (like converse lunar progressions) are impotent? I don't know
> the answers to these questions.
Again, it is possible for a personally coherent system to work for a given person - it's just a particular personal innovation within the overall astrological modelling system. But it becomes less communicable if it's not grounded in the vocabulary and its semantics. So, we reinvent the same concepts repeatedly.
Progressions and directions are actually rather interesting insofar as how one might derive them from first principles, assuming some kind of fractal nature to time. But I've only seen such a derivation in one place, and it hadn't quite reached to the converse, though I happen to think it's also plausible.
> If I was to start looking, I'd begin with the study of complex system
> behaviour, and move into the astrologer's psychic perception (the
> broad bandwidth perception) of order in the same. The bridge between
> the two is where astrology (and your formal relations) sit. It's hard
> to comprehend the bridge without looking at the two banks of the river
> which it spans.
I've been looking at the river banks for 30 years. I think we need the bridge. There's been no ignoring of either side of the gap here.
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 22:18:42 +1300
From: JG or DF
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #61
Francis Kostella wrote:
> Lately I've been wondering if we need to evangelize the list a bit in
> hopes of getting a few more contributors? Would more contributors
> be a good thing? Where to get them? Any ideas?
Interesting this, as I had several times last year & earlier this year been about to send a suggestion to this effect. I even had the evangelist notion in mind! Probably what stopped me was the fear that I might be asked to volunteer. Chiron in Sagittarius...
> I've been very busy this year and have been lax in finding a new
> home for the web archives. Does anyone care? Were they useful?
You bet! A veritable island of burgeoning, healthy growth in the polluted stream of modern astrology!! If you have a problem with the cost of web space, you could just put up the current year, or the past 6 months, and insert a note that prior archives may be available on application (if that is appropriate). I suspect it would be pretty rare for a zealot to come along, as I did, and read the entire archive in order to make a well-briefed debut!
I do really feel that some archive ought to be available, simply because the terms of reference of Exgesis select contributors with a serious approach, and such people will want to appear well-informed. They will want to consider the prior context of current discourse to avoid undesirable repetition and select the most fertile threads in which to participate.
Ed Falis wrote .. "this is where the map / territory
> problem comes in, because we're looking at the content of our astrological
> stance toward experience as the astrological reality, when astrology is
> nothing more nor less than a way of understanding and modelling our
> experience of reality.
Be reassured that similar views have appeared in Exegesis in the past.
> To me, the subject of astrology is complex systems and their interactions.
> That's not any particular surprise since Rudhyar laid out that paradigm out
> over 60 years ago. The astrological stance is a language of describing
> (modelling) such systems qualitatively, or analogically, using an
> assumption that moments of time have each have a distinct quality,
> and that the complex interactions of the "clocks" in the sky can be
> used as indicators of those qualities.
Indeed. Correct, even though most astrologers lack this understanding.
> So fundamentally we're employing a mathematics of qualitative description,
> based on an assumption, an axiom, which may or may not be true, as in all
> mathematics - something we draw from some intuition within ourselves about
> the way things are, or perhaps that is grounded in the way our minds work.
> Given that this particular intuition has raged through history and cultures
> around the world, it's at least an axiom that has some collective blessing.
Yes, the assumption is that there is a temporal correspondence (synchronicity) between those time cycles and our experience in each moment, and we can decode this with the language of astrology. The qualitative dimension of the `clocks' is metaphysical rather than mathematical.
> If the fundamental astrological act is modelling, and we can clearly see it
> as such, then I think we've made a step, because we can realize that the
> physical, causative phenomena we see just happen to have a high coherence
> to the astrological view rather than being a basis or justification for it.
To me, this is clearly so, and I believe it is also understood by other contributors here.
> Where I differ is that Juan validates the current astrological paradigm (in
> Kuhn's sense - a set of practices) as what astrology is. I disagree that
> it is essentially a set of cultural constructs < snip >
> within mathematics, there are formal
> relations, rules and so on that seem to be embedded more deeply in the
> biology of our minds to an extent that cuts across cultural paradigms. I
> believe the same holds for astrology, and that we short-shrift ourselves by
> accepting "whatever works for me" as a definition of what astrology is < snip > My point is that there is internal coherence
> at a number of levels that transcends the current paradigm / state
> of the practice. And I believe that that's what sound astrological
> "theory" ought to be going after
Yes, that is the approach I have always taken. Patrice also, and Bill Tallman also, as far as I can tell. Juan's view that astrology is defined by the behaviour of most astrologers has merit in a sociological sense. People seeking to move from a state ignorance of a subject to one of familiarity with it are always better informed by learning the prevailing consensus view. To access this ruling paradigm is pragmatic, and I have no problem with Juan advocacy of this pragmatism as far as public relations is concerned. Where I do have a problem with it is in the consequences. Call this area of concern ethics if you like. The masses of astrosheep cling to their arcane rituals because that's what they were indoctrinated with, and they are incapable of learning anything new (on their own initiative). So long as they do not recognise negative feedback, their operating program will seem to be working for them, so there is no motivation to change.
Condoning this delusional behaviour is unethical, in my opinion, but caveat emptor applies, so I need not act to rescue their clients from the disinformation. Others must suffer their own karma. Pragmatism inclines me to accept this, but I still feel an ethical motivation to provide a positive alternative to most astrologers!
> Jane mentioned < snip > if we focus on that pragmatic interface that
> I call applied astrology, we have a better chance of changing current
> practice for the better. No question. But ... that kind of argument is
> often used as a reason to not develop astrology in more core kinds of ways.
Have to disagree here. We will never change the practices of other astrologers. Some few of them may live and learn, and those with the capacity for self-improvement are potential recruits for any constructive collaboration to produce a contemporary practice that is more accurate in interpretation. The naive optimistic attitude is based on a fallacy: people cannot change paradigms like they change clothes. There exists a functionality in the human psyche that prevents this from happening. It is akin to the functional need of a computer to retain its operating program. This similarity is no accident: both are manifestations of paradigms, and that is how paradigms function.
> Right now, I think it's the
> mathematics-like aspects of astrology that are most in need of attention,
> because they provide consistency checks against various techniques and so-
> called theories. There are a lot of practices out there that simply lack a
> consistent basis. "Well, it works for me" is fine, I suppose, at the level
> of craft, but it doesn't move the astrological enterprise forward.
Right. Consistency implies conformity, however, so you are up against Uranus. I mean, to the extent that most astrologers have it motivating their attitudes, behaviour & expectations. They have their antiquated paradigm, to which they believe they conform, but it doesn't stop them inventing planets or whatever other technique or escape clause they can seize upon to indulge their idiosyncratic tendencies toward eccentricity. In pluralistic times these people know they have freedom to choose, and deviance in pursuit of some apparently alternate reality that may be mere phantasm is the outlet for their nonconformism.
Better to abandon them to the dustbin of history, as Trotsky put it. Refinement of a new paradigm for astrology does indeed involve mathematics in some ways, particulary in regard to definitions of frames of reference. I came into astrology from physics, but found the mathematical features the least rewarding. In fact, it was the excess of maths and paucity of other fundamental insights that had destroyed my faith in physics as a way of understanding how the world works. Maths is crucial to the delineation of time cycles and phase relationships, but gets left behind when qualities and values are attached to the consequent mathematical structures.
Bill Tallman wrote:
> In these discussions, I appear to have blundered by making some tacit
> assumptions: 1) That the appearance that astrology cannot adequately
> explain itself to the general public is a significant part of the problem
> astrology has in gaining public acceptance. 2) That astrology would
> benefit from addressing the issue of public acceptance. 3) That astrology
> would also benefit from discovering what in fact it was itself addressing,
> whatever that might be.
> It turns out that none of these three assumptions are generally regarded as
> having any validity. The result seems to be that we having varying reasons
> for our interests. For many astrologers, it would appear entirely adequate
> to define astrology as what astrologers do, and in the absence of any
> questions of the sort that concern me, that seems fully appropriate.
When you see the astrosheep milling round in circles, as they do, do you really expect them to make progress in any particular direction? Of course not. So don't expect progress to come from them! My first impression was that you were being disingenuous, but I may as well take it at face value! Happy to declare that I share your 3 assumptions, and do not consider them a blunder! If anyone has ventured into Exegesis without also sharing these beliefs, the blunder is theirs. They have clearly shot off at a tangent to the circle, not realising that spiral time and circular time are two different things! Play sheep-dog and bark at them and they will retreat to the flock...
> The assumption is that simultaneity and causality are mutually exclusive.
> The structure underlying this assumption is founded on considerations that
> are themselves assumptions, although they are not always recognized as
> such. The reasons for the underlying assumptions are rooted in human
> nature < snip > an indirect form, where the linkage is not serial
> but complex, and the mechanisms involved are much harder to discern.
Yep. Process philosophy, applied to natural holarchies, can explain a complex cascading causality in natural systems as well as explaining sychronicity in the same context. I used that approach in my book.
> 1) Astrology is 'broke' and needs to be fixed. Two subsets of this are
> that a) astrology doesn't really exist and we are doing something under
> that name we find convenient to continue to call astrology, and b) if a
> successful reading can be done using an invalid chart, there is clearly
> something wrong with what we're doing. Here, incidentally, astrology
> is defined as what astrologers do.
Not broke; malfunctioning and unreliable. 1a: never encountered this belief 1b: logical fallacy (not "we"; "them"). Success due to concord between astrologer & client. Reward for fantasy entertainment. Some astrologers spin a good yarn based on wrong data or invalid methodology. Placebo effect.
> 2) Astrology isn't 'broke' but is in dire need of rehabilitation to bring
> it into relevance to the modern times. All the effort to try to understand
> what astrology is from an inspection of what we inherited is meaningless;
> why it works is irrelevant because it does work, and the attention and
> energy should be focused on what astrology can, or will, become in the
> immediate future.
Hopeless mix of different stances. Agree with 1st, not 2nd, nor 3rd, partly with 4th.
> 3) Astrology is neither 'broke' nor in need of rehabilitation. Astrology
> works just fine, thank you very much, and we are not well advised to go
> mucking around with what obviously needs more use than tinkering. All the
> furor over the state of astrology makes it more difficult to actually use
> or practice it, and we should drop all this and get busy doing the work at
Cloud cuckoo land, where the astrosheep mill ...
> Who is Ruperti? Is he an astrologer? What competency supports the idea
> that his opinions have real substance? What work has he done that
> qualifies his judgment here? Are those questions too burdensome to ask?
> Rest assured that I do not find them so, as quite possibly others here concur.
In "The Royal Art of Astrology", published London 1946, author Robert Eisler PhD DSc DLitt, you will find facing page 17 a photo of "Alexander Ruperti explaining the horoscope of Jesus Christ", according to the caption. He looks to be in his thirties, slim, balding, with spectacles. Professor Eisler's text explains that the photo was "taken at the Astrologer's Convention at Harrogate in 1939, immediately before the outbreak of the war."
On this occasion, Ruperti was "deducing, by means of astrological interpretation, the main events recorded in the Gospels from a conception-horoscope of Jesus Christ, drawn for the "28th of March 7 B.C. 3.30 p.m."" [p20]
The author, apparently a pillar of the imperial establishment unaware of the imminent disintegration of the empire, is kind enough to inform us of the cultural relevance of the photo.. "The impressive picture will bear witness in ages to come to the liberal tolerance extended to the queerest customers in this great country. We have, indeed, at great cost learned to suffer fools gladly in the six centuries since an Italian astrologer, Cecco d'Ascoli, was burnt at the stake in Florence by the Inquisition (A.D. 1327) for having calculated the nativity of Christ (fig. 1) and deduced His crucifixion from the position of the stars at His alleged, in reality wholly unknown birthday".
I will vouch for Ruperti's credibility to the extent that he's one of very few astrologers that I ever learnt something profound from. That was via his book "Cycles of Becoming" (CRCS, 1978), dedicated to "my friend and teacher, Dane Rudhyar". The publisher says on the cover that the book "correlates the patterns of our solar system with the patterns of our lives" and is "the first book to deal with planetary transits from a humanistic and cyclic point of view". While the overview and general theory came from Rudhyar, Ruperti described things from the point of view of application. I always thought the concept of relationship cycles came from Ruperti, because he explained it so comprehensively, but I have no doubt that it really came from Rudhyar. Certainly the insight of the significance of phase relations between the various relevant cycles came to me from Ruperti's book, as far as I recall.
A capsule bio appears facing the title page: "Alexander Ruperti was born in Germany of Russian parents in 1913, and was educated in both England and Germany. While in England he attended Alice Bailey's Arcane School and was affiliated with the Astrological Lodge where he studied with C.E.O. Carter. He began practising astrology professionally in 1937. In 1939, he finished his osteopathy and physical therapy training and moved to Switzerland, where he stills resides. There he maintained a full-time practice in osteopathy, physical therapy, and healing, using the birthcharts of many patients in order to understand the basic problem behind the physical complaint. Greatly impressed by Dane Rudhyar's pioneering work (The Astrology of Personality in 1936), he began to teach a positive, holistic approach to astrology in 1939 and continued such courses for many years thereafter. He was probably the first person to promote such a modern, psychological type of astrology in Europe."
Lots of astrologers found Rudhyar too hard to read. [He was certainly prone to philosophical waffle and metaphysical digressions, which I tended to skim to get to the more substantial material.] They ended up learning from Stephen Arroyo instead, who was good at making Rudhyar's approach to astrology user-friendly. Ruperti's book fulfilled a similar function. Humanistic astrology was in those days the healthy alternative to traditional astrology, and these 3 authors provided exemplary explanations of how to do it. Use of the birth-chart as a road-map of one's future, from which guidance for developing one's potential could be ascertained, was the metaphysical stance.
Date: Wed, 04 Oct 2000 22:58:36 -0600
From: Juan Revilla
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #61
> From: Ed Falis
> Subject: re: The nature of astrology
> So, here's where my particular set of filters comes into play. To me,
> these phenomena are not essentially astrological, though they have been
> considered and explained through astrological lenses. And astrologers
> have tried to abrogate this set of phenomena to justify astrology within a
> scientific context. The fact is that various understandings of such
> phenomena can be
> gained from various approaches to looking at them. But they're not the
> essence of astrology, in my opinion.
I agree completely with this.
> And this is where the map / territory problem comes in, because we're
> looking at the content of our astrological stance toward experience as the
> astrological reality, when astrology is nothing more nor less than a way
> of understanding and modelling our experience of reality.
Yes. This is like confusing the model with the reality, which ends up pretending that astrology be "the measurement of the measurements".
> To me, the subject of astrology is complex systems and their interactions.
I tend to put it as "the subject of astrology can be anything that happens in time". It tries to figure out or analyze the "structure" of things, and it does it in the way you are saying, by furnishing models of complex systems, which could also be called "structures", i.e., systems of relationships.
> The astrological stance is a language of describing (modelling) such
> systems qualitatively, or analogically, using an assumption that moments
> of time have each have a distinct quality, and that the complex
> interactions of the "clocks" in the sky can be used as indicators of those
I like the analogy of a clock or of a calendar. Astrology is very much like a calendar of the development/structure of whatever it is applied to. Let me translate here something I wrote in 1992 (the complete essay can be read in Spanish in my site: "Naturaleza y Estudio de la Astrologia" (http://www.expreso.co.cr/centaurs/essays/estudio.html):
< Astrology, from the practical point of view, is a set of tools or techniques through which it is possible to establish and analyze the structure of practically everything that happens in time. Any calendar structures time based on a compartmentalization of astronomical cycles, which then become slices of space over which temporal distances are measured. Astrology, through a process of semantic intensification, presents us a qualitative structure of time that can be analyzed impartially and objectively by means of a specialized language. When applied to the life of a human being, astrology means the possibility of modelling or representing the underlying sense and structure of a biography in development... In other words, the astrological structures, applied to a human life, establish a calendar for the development of this life through the use of measurements and the mathematical mapping of the subjective and qualitative dimensions of experience. >
Are we are on the same track here?
> So, fundamentally, we're employing a mathematics of qualitative
> description, based on an assumption, an axiom, which may or may not be
> true, as in all mathematics - something we draw from some intuition within
> ourselves about the way things are, or perhaps that is grounded in the way
> our minds work. Given that this particular intuition has raged through
> history and cultures around the world, it's at least an axiom that has
> some collective blessing. So, let's say we use it as our starting point.
Are you referring here to the "as above so below"?
We use one thing that can be measured directly and with precision (the celestial apparatus), in order to furnish a model of something which cannot be measured directly (subjective experience, symbolical entities and "events"...). This is the fundamental assumption, and it seems to have some "mystery". But in reality, to me, it has not more mystery than a calendar. The "mystery", perhaps, is in understanding that astrology is not "about" celestial objects, but about "time". I feel that if we are able to understand the very intimate relationship between time --or rather the flow, the becoming-- and "consciousness", we will be able to grasp the reason why celestial mechanics can "measure" subjective reality.
But this is astrology only in part, related probably to its beginnings or its foundations, because we cannot assume that astrology, i.e., astrological practice, works through a sky-to-earth "real time" correspondence. It does not. "The above" used in astrology is a construct made of dense symbolical layers and manipulations that belong more to culture than to nature. The laws of nature and of physics are therefore not the basis of astrology, but the nature of human consciousness and how consciousness organizes the world through the use of metaphor and analogy, and how consciousness uses the celestial apparatus to build the analogies because both (consciousness and the experience of astronomical cycles) are intimately related through the fundamental reality of the flow of time.
> Where I differ is that Juan validates the current astrological paradigm
> (in Kuhn's sense - a set of practices) as what astrology is. I disagree
> that it is essentially a set of cultural constructs, because I look to
> mathematics as the closest cousin of astrology. And within mathematics,
> there are formal relations, rules and so on that seem to be embedded more
> deeply in the biology of our minds to an extent that cuts across cultural
I see astrology not only as form but also as content, i.e., meaning and interpretation, and this is completely cultural. If I were not a practicing astrologer, I would be inclined to think of astrology merely in formal or structural terms, which *may* be universal, but in real life Astrology is USED, as is the case of any model or modelling tool, it does not exist by itself. The relationships it models have to be communicated and a meaning has to be given to them.
We have a structure such as, for example the solar system. We take it as model of something else. But how do we give meaning to the different parts? Specifically, the best illustration is probably the process through which a newly discovered planet (Neptune, Pluto, an asteroid...) acquires meaning as a result o a very complex mental/collective process. This process is strongly mediated by a particular culture, economics, and history.
There is meaning in form by itself. But it has to be communicated socially and made useful. In this Astrology is very much like Medicine. Medicine cannot be thought of without its application and practice, even from the merely theoretical standpoint.
> My point is that there is internal coherence at a number of levels that
> transcends the current paradigm / state of the practice. And I believe
> that that's what sound astrological "theory" ought to be going after. What
> most astrologers "do" is applied astrological mathematics at the level of
> craft. In my heart, I believe we can do more.
It certainly transcends it. My point is simply that this doesn't mean that current practice is *not* astrology or is "pseudo" astrology. You said once that astrology can invent its own rules, make them anew. For example, one of the paradigms of natal astrology is the "dogma" of the birth chart. However, I can develop my practice not with natal charts but with death or any other significant charts, freeing myself from the constraints of "birth-chart astrology" when dealing with individual lives and with psychology. I would still be working with the same astrological principles, but applying them in a different way. The same goes for the use of the ecliptic, of hypothetical planets, and of asteroids. They are parts of the same "astrological" principles, very pure and fundamental astrology and mathematics, because astrology is not about celestial objects but about the logical and analogical structure of the human mind *plus* the "time measurement (or movement) paradigm".
It is here that a historical and fundamental distinction must be made between "Astrology" in general as an idea, with its multi-cultural forms (Aztec, Chinese, Babylonian, Megalithic, etc), and *the* Astrology that we know and practice, fundamentally distinctive and unique. One belongs to the origins of Astrology, the other to the historical beginnings of horoscopy. There are many fundamental differences between both, mainly, that horoscopy does not work ins situ and in real time, but works exclusively through cinematic and geometric models very densely manipulated in a symbolical way that is not related to physics but to mathematical analogies.
Generally, when people think in Astrology, they assume the first more generalized and "archetypical" concept, which I think is clearly a big fallacy, since the astrology we practice is Greek horoscopics, which is a different thing.
Of course, I do not believe that such and such practice "defines" Astrology. The properties of the astrological "modelling tool" can be studies by themselves in abstraction from the different practices. But it is the practice, the "act" of putting the multiple possible astrological models to use, what gives us the "evidence" we need for the theoretical study.
So, from these considerations (like the fact that there can be multiple astrological models for the same thing --the different schools and techniques), and your assertion elsewhere that Astrology "invents" its own rules, perhaps rather than "a model", it would be more appropriate to call Astrology a "modelling machine" or a "modelling tool".
> Right now, I think it's the mathematics-like aspects of astrology that are
> most in need of attention, because they provide consistency checks against
> various "techniques" and so-called theories. There are a lot of practices
> out there that simply lack a consistent basis. "Well, it works for me" is
> fine, I suppose, at the level of craft, but it doesn't move the
> astrological enterprise forward.
I agree, although some examples of what "theories" or techniques are so inconsistent to you would help a lot. Aapparent mathematical inconsistency may not be used as criterion of validity, because that would be simply a prejudice, and in many cases it would be wrong. Often, what seems inconsistent or even "random" proves to be following very logical and consistent rules, only that they remain hidden or unconscious.
This is a very simple principle. The object of any inquiry should be to discover that apparently hidden order, not pre-judge and dismiss based on prejudices or in a priori mathematical concepts. That's why I think that the path to follow to understand Astrology is not mathematics but cognitive science, knowledge about the structure of the human mind, of how the mind works, how it classifies the world and deals with the experience of time, how it establishes order and meaning.
Over and over again you will see that (apparently) very inconsistent practices produce very consistent and meaningful results. That is part of the nature of astrology, and there is nothing "inconsistent" in the fact that the mathematical coherence is frail or defective. That is not needed, even though it is desirable. "Dreams" can look very incoherent, but they are not, and I believe that many "satanized" astrological practices or incongruent techniques are very coherent when you take a look at them without the "mathematics" bias.
I agree that we cannot stay there, because Astrology would never progress that way. But this doesn't mean that the "there" is wrong or "pseudo" or non-astrological.
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 5 Issue 64
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