Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #68

From: JG or DF
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #65

From: Bill Sheeran
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #66

Exegesis Digest Tue, 17 Oct 2000

Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 13:03:31 +1300
From: JG or DF
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #65

In respect of the circle archetype & symbol I wrote:
 > In the theory of holism this symbol is generalised to represent the holistic
 > relation between part and whole. This points to the archetype underlying
 > the symbol. Kepler retained the form of the archetype in agreeing with
 > Copernicus that the Sun, not the Earth was at the centre of the planetary
 > orbits. Our perception of self in relation to earth is from a centre to a
 > surrounding circle of the horizon which bounds our arena of social
 > interaction, so the same archetype is involved. < snip >

I sense this requires clarification: the symbol is used as sign to represent the archetype. The relevance of this archetype to the purposes of Exegesis lies in its apparent function in the formation of the solar system. The concept of `archetypes of nature' is essential to enable us to transcend science and identify those formative principles that produce natural forms. These we can use as building blocks in the metaphysical basis of contemporary astrological theory.

 > the triplicity of structure, which to Kepler meant Christian trinitarian
 > divinity. His correlation of the link between part and whole with the holy
 > spirit seems appropriate, inasmuch as something holistic and indefinable
 > mediates a bond via which they connect and interact. Gravity is the
 > physical term for what maintains the planetary orbits; it does not explain
 > their relative proportions, nor their form.

Father, Son & Holy Ghost is a red herring really, mere analogy, but it does reveal the social power of the archetype. The triple structure is not hierarchical, it is holarchical. Gravity is the scientific term for the holistic link between part & whole. The solar system coordinates its component parts by virtue of gravitation, and the planetary orbits take their structural form in consequence. [Physics may specify that gravity is merely the primary link, and some contributing magnetic field interactions may play a minor part.] Kepler equated this effect with the holy ghost, seeing a functional similarity between the organising, bonding, mediating natural spirit or force, and the theological equivalent. In earlier contributions to this list I called this the `holistic relation' produced by action of the `law of the whole', and pointed out that this was the consequence and effect of the manifestation in nature of the number one archetype.

This fundamental unitary principle coordinates all component parts of a natural system in unison. Readers who have joined Exegesis recently without access to the archives, please be aware that I have given full credit to (Field Marshal & Prime Minister) JC Smuts who first conceived and described this fundamental operative natural principle in 1926 in his book "Holism and Evolution". A decade later Dane Rudhyar used it as rationale for a modern theory of astrology in his first book.

Without anticipating part 2 of my discussion of archetypes in the operation of the solar system, I wish to stress that the triadic structure that Kepler saw in his mind's eye, that guided the development of his cosmology, produced an implicit systemic view. His focus on the part (planet) and the whole (solar system) was requisite to his discovery of the laws of planetary motion. These laws bound the parts to the whole (it seemed to him, and the early scientists). Merely mathematical in form, they are physical in manifestation. Yet they derived from an explicit focus on the relation of a planet to the sun. The sun, via gravity, the mediating link, appeared to be coordinating the parts. Such an obviously influential `power center' seemed to `personify' the entire solar system, but we now know that the sun orbits the system's center just like the planets do. The holistic relation of the part to the whole system is the functional link that binds all parts, even the sun, and this shows how the triadic archetype is revealed in the form and motion of natural systems.

 > You will observe that the original Greek meaning had a executive, ruling
 > connotation (government) as well as the originating and modelling
 > connotations. Archetypes not make things happen, they produce tangible
 > results; the pattern or template reproduces the form. "Archetypes are
 > abstract principles which seem to be informational, to lie in the realm of
 > potential, but often manifest as qualitative components of the manifested
 > forms of nature, and the most evident of these are the number archetypes."

I must apologise for the 3rd line above, and other typos that the spell-checker didn't eliminate! It should read "Archetypes do not just make things happen.." They are not merely catalysts in the formation of natural systems. They seem to function as pattern-construction agents. The informational realm of potential was the conception of the late David Bohm, a leading theoretical physicist.

Bill Sheeran wrote:
 > My own feeling is that the larger issue of the relationship between
 > astrology and contemporary concepts of order has to be addressed
 > urgently. There is no point in cobbling together a theory or model of
 > astrology which fits a retrogressive paradigm. I reckon that a
 > fundamental change has occurred in our relationship with order and
 > cosmos in the last century, one which brings into question root
 > assumptions and desires evident from the earliest urban civilisations,
 > which gave birth to an astrology based upon those assumptions. This
 > means challenging the cultural conditioning of modern astrologers
 > before we even start to model the damn thing. What's more, the
 > integration of these new perspectives is by no means finished within
 > the mainstream.

Sure, the paradigm shift is an ongoing process. This one is longer because of the multi-disciplinary context and the globalisation of society. We can but note the major developments as they occur, then attempt the sort of compilation and synthesis that I endeavoured to produce in my book. As far as challenging potential colleagues is concerned, that may be unproductive. People only learn something new if they are ready. As far as the `retrogressive paradigm' is concerned, we are stuck with it in their minds. So it seems to me it must therefore function as the basis for communication. If we evolve a contemporary theory, we are then in the position to demonstrate it by a focus on the points of agreement: those features which transfer from the old to the new paradigm. That's the approach I took in my book. Pragmatic, in recognising that not all traditional astrology is bullshit. Recycle the components that seem to retain validity.

 > I think you are misreading the rationale of those (like myself) who
 > draw attention to astrological practice as a starting point for theory
 > modelling. It is clearly not entirely adequate to define astrology
 > solely in terms of what astrologers do.

I think the primary components of the belief system (frames of reference) are more likely to be productive as the basis for modelling. More commonality on this basis. All you get with the focus on practice is a multitude of arcane rituals.

 > In would seem to me that complex systems are so inscrutable from a
 > cause and effect point of view that the polarity becomes meaningless.
 > In any complex system with feedback loops and various forms of
 > coupling connecting different elements, energy events are both causes
 > and effects.Not only that, some effects collaborate to produce a
 > cause, which combines with other causes (which themselves may be
 > effects, and which could include some of those effects which produce
 > the original cause referred to, etc.) to promote changes which depend
 > on what's happening in another part of the web. And so on into an
 > infinite dark as regards mapping causal mechanism. Even if in theory
 > there is always an actual web of interconnections at any given
 > instant, the technical impossibilities means the concept has no
 > explanatory power.

True, but perhaps causality is a psychological need. The observer may seek a cause until one becomes evident, in conformity to the preconceptions formed by the education systems. Scientists act as though this is the case. Cause and effect are certainly relative to the process and context in mind. I'd recommend seeing the cause in the operation of the system, relative to what it appears to produce. A sort of `local causation', I guess. Pure pragmatism!

 > be pretty basic. For example, do we believe there is such a thing as
 > the horoscope for an idea? If so, do we expect to model its astrology
 > the same way we would for the horoscopes of earthquakes, political
 > revolutions, or nervous breakdowns? < snip >
 > In the end up we are trying to elucidate phenomenal aspects (e.g.
 > patterns) of our experience of change, and ideas have a life, change
 > and evolve, etc. just like material processes.

I have long seen it this way. Perhaps Whitehead's process philosophy is the suitable historical context for developing this view. Ideas can be seen to have cultural lives, manifesting in collective mental processes. I think the horoscope of an idea requires more precision in regard to the context though. I can speak from experience, having often dealt with this issue. The astrologer must define the origin of the idea relative to temporal and psychological context. Who first conceived it, and when? If it is not an original idea, it may still be the genesis of a mental process in someone else. If it had a revolutionary impact on that person's consciousness, the horoscope of the moment of getting the idea would be likely to reveal the archetypal nature of the consequent mental process that the idea originated. But the meaning is then merely personal, not cultural.

 > Given the myriad contexts to which astrology can be applied, Ed's
 > suggestion that we identify mathematical-like forms will probably
 > result in establishing a common ground of sorts, because it will
 > presumably focus on process and change, which is what these contexts
 > have in common. There will then arise a relationship between the

Sounds like reinventing the wheel - exciting to see which shape it will take! Cycles, phase relations, archetypes, are what we already have as components of "process and change". Anyone who manages to invent a different yet better scenario sure will be a hero, and I will happily applaud if it happens, but I don't expect it will.

 > 'mathematical models' and another level of consideration which is
 > analogous to science (which makes use of maths but is not maths). In
 > this regard, I am reminded of a book called 'Dynamics - the Geometry
 > of Behaviour' (by Abrahams and Shaw), which contains graphical
 > elaborations of elements associated with system dynamics (with a lot
 > to say about modelling non-linear processes). The concept of causal
 > mechanism is irrelevant in this book, as it is concerned with what is
 > essentially another form of mechanism, a geometric one. < snip > the geometry is relevant for turbulence, stock
 > market fluctuations and the patterns associated with measles
 > epidemics. Astrology too has a similar relationship with contexts.

Sounds like chaos theory. The relevance is not immediately obvious, even if one allows catastrophic interventions to produce drastic transitions for planetary orbits (punctuated equilibria). Astrology is founded upon the orderly experience of cosmic cycles, based on constancy of systemic relations.

 > There can't be too much discussion about these things. Maybe the list
 > should become more proactive and invite contributions on specific
 > issues to be submitted within a certain time frame, as well as having
 > the usual chat here. They could be given web space, etc. and comments
 > could be then made on the list. Maybe one 'essay' per list member on
 > any given topic, should he or she choose to contribute. Some of the
 > stuff that's discussed here should be tied down in some coherent form
 > or other, rather than just being left to the archive jungle.

I agree in principle with more collaborative endeavour. In practice, I lack the technological expertise and resources to make web material available.

Ed Falis wrote:
 > The only place I'll differ from you is that perhaps I'm not quite
 > so cynical about astrologers in general, so far.

With all due respect, maybe you've had less communal involvement with them. If not, I guess you're more tolerant of human failings. I admit to my jaundiced view, due to the decade I spent in what I thought was constructive communal endeavour! I naively believed astrologers were a suitable peer group, clearly in dire need of assistance to fully grasp their subject of mutual interest, but capable of self-improvement and motivated with integrity. Heh, heh, ha ha ha (chortle, splutter) ...

 > My meaning has been that there are deep formal and order qualities
 > within astrology, based on the way the human mind (and perhaps everything
 > else) works, that I liken to mathematics. I tend to see embedded in "real"
 > astrology a mathematics of analogical consciousness < snip >
 > I believe the symbolic language of astrology to
 > be capable of serving the same role with respect to analogical thinking as
 > mathematics does in other areas. I also believe it has similar "laws of
 > form" rooted in the nature of consciousness, and that this is the most
 > essential aspect of astrology. < snip >

This seems similar to what Patrice describes as `matricial logic'. If you are ready, willing and able to spell out your view, then I'm certainly interested in examining it.

 > Remember I'm speaking analogically. In bringing these primitive bones
 > of the system to light, I think we'll learn even more about the nature of
 > consciousness than we do because we'll be trying to work primarily out of
 > the corpus callosum rather than the left hemisphere (or the right for that
 > matter).

Huh? I thought it was merely a communication channel between the two hemispheres. Are you implying that synthesis occurs there?

 > < snip > Formal development and
 > its application interact in very complex and often independent ways. My
 > opinion is that astrology as conceived and practised today is too weighted
 > toward the craft end of things. And my argument is that characterizing
 > astrology as analogous to medicine or psychology is wrong - it's a much
 > more fundamental enterprise than its applications < snip > I think this
 > misclassification of where astrology sits is responsible
 > for much of the difficulty in rehabilitating it into our culture. < snip >

I'm inclined to agree. Astrology has always been a study of what's happening and why. Omens, a divination of cosmic meanings in respect of events now and future prognosis. The implication is that time is the real subject matter. Experiential time, not mathematical or physical time. There is no science of time. The human race produced astrology instead!

 > There is good and bad mathematics - I think the same applies to astrology.
 > How do we uncover the criteria? My orientation toward that issue is formal.
 > There are others that are valid, but what will give us the most mileage?
 > What conception of what astrology is about is most accurate or most useful?

My bitch about maths has always been motivated by its apparent abstraction (similarly for physics). Real world correspondence between theory and application is vital. To be scientific, this correspondence must be more than subjective. Objective correspondence is attained by agreement that the match is valid. People must see the same pattern, and agree on its description. It is elementary that natural time cycles and generic environmental experience provide the common context for testing the validity of any abstract model.

 > Lets say "principle-inconsistent" to get away from my overloaded use of the
 > term mathematics. Why solar arcs (there's probably a historical reason)?
 > Why primary directions without factoring ecliptic motion in (convenience as
 > like as not)? Why progression of the angles the way they are done typically
 > (probably just a dumb idea, lacking a deep understanding of the basis of

What always impressed me was the total lack of any rationale for these techniques, not only in 20th century traditional sources, but neither in the 19th, 17th or any earlier centuries, to my knowledge. The impression I got from my research was that authors partly were blindly recycling partly understood prior writing, and partly promoting their own mental creations. The method of validation seemed to be the assumption of divine providence. If any particular writer did not cite a divine authority or hidden mystery group of initiates, recourse was made simply to the stance of authoritative assertion that certain things were so. Ptolemy did at least attempt a minimal rationale, but it seemed rather pathetic.

 > symbolic times)? Why, when the whole interpretive infrastructure of
 > horoscopic hemispheres is based on above and below the horizon, do we place
 > Pluto in the 1st when it's in the 12th (confusion of astrological frames

Well, originally astrology was observational. But I guess it wasn't long till the mathematical view displaced real life. I assume the rationale for this was that position in longitude was more important than latitude.

 > of reference)? Why the confusion with respect to signs in the southern
 > hemisphere (attribution of sign meaning to the seasonal mnemonic used to
 > pass astrological knowledge along in the northern hemisphere).

Well, that's just laziness or intellectual inadequacy. You can interpret Aries as cardinal fire without citing the season of spring if you are serious about a pan-hemispherical language of astrology. Ptolemy's seasonal rationale of the signs of the zodiac was never credible. As soon as one learns that various countries where astrology originated did not have 4 seasons, this becomes evident.

Bill Tallman wrote:
 > It was a thought, Ed. I doubt that you lack the professional experience,
 > but the astrological community is not an professional company; it clearly
 > has nothing even resembling a common purpose. It would work only if the
 > people I mentioned were really interested in making it work, yourself
 > included. Maybe next millennium....

I thought I would wait till Ed and anyone else responded. I'm open to the possibility, and would assist in any suitable manner. Fair to say that I remain sceptical about maths as a productive avenue of approach. Metaphysics seems more appropriate, but perhaps historical baggage renders it negative in the minds of others. It just seems obvious to me that concepts that are qualitative are essential elements of any paradigmatic reframing of astrology, and maths is not known for being user-friendly in this regard.

 > Are we well served by assuming that we've got enough of a handle on the
 > subject such that what we already have is sufficient for our purposes? I
 > think not, but that's because there are questions that I can ask (have
 > asked) that are generally suggested to have no answer: for instance, is the
 > physics of this whole business relevant to an understanding of astrology?
 > The reply is that a question of the physics of astrology is not relevant,
 > and therefore has no meaningful answer.

Who produced that strange response? Astrology contains no physics. Physics is tangentially relevant to astrology only in respect to a few common areas of interest. The structure of the solar system, gravitation and time come to mind. The main problem with pursuing an expectation of common ground between the two disciplines is that physics is designed to be universal, whereas astrology applies only to life on earth.

 > the professor of physics who told a student that physics was about to
 > become a barren field, for everything of real importance had already been
 > discovered, such that only the details were lacking.

Max Planck was the student, and the time was the final decade of the 19th century. Guess he got his Nobel prize for proving his teacher wrong!

 > I must presume Dennis did not understand the meaning of the point, so let
 > me try again. Essentially, what it is, is not important or even relevant:
 > the only useful concern is what can be done with it in the future.

I see. This utilitarian view would come naturally to mainstream astrologers, who are reluctant to explain their belief system to the public. Reputation is enhanced by emanating an aura of mystique. Motivation derives from a social archetype, the magus, somewhat residual these days (stolen by top scientists).

 > A general observation about the use of such concepts as subjective and
 > objective might be that they are far too extensively applied in too many
 > different directions to have the ability to provide the kind of precision I
 > think we need in the terminology we use here. < snip >

Well, I did a while ago advocate the use of the term `relatively objective'. Given that leading physicists long since agreed that objective knowledge was in principle unobtainable, yet science proceeds because the myth of objective reality is an effective motivator, we can draw the conclusion that agreement on features of nature can be made relatively objective. The method is to design any description to be accessible to ready agreement by others. In traditional science, the process requires`replicability'. If others can replicate findings, agreement is extended. It is noteworthy that the process is designed to be explicit. By contrast, any agreement between astrologers is ever only implicit. Squares are hard aspects, Venus attracts, etc. There is no process designed to produce explicit agreements.

Dennis Frank


Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000 01:13:22 GMT
From: Bill Sheeran
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #66

Rab wrote:
 > BS Astrology will be rehabilitated when it is perceived to be of value
 > BS again. //
 > I think we're missing the boat and putting the cart before=20
 > the horse (!) if we think that a better astrological viewpoint,=20
 > theory, or method will make it more valuable or acceptable.=20
 > Such things are called for only *after* something has been=20
 > found relevant and useful. Astrology hasn't.=20 Well, I think we are agreeing on this, but with one qualification from me. I find astrology relevant and useful, which is why I think the subject deserves some consideration from a theoretical point of view. So for me the horse is in front of the cart.=20

 > For astrology to become useful, it must engage itself with=20
 > humanity's most vital interests, concerns, and endeavours,=20
 > and prove itself essential as a substantive benefactor. It is useful for those who use it!=20
 > Most people are not hankering for new theories and=20
 > explanations of life and the universe. This is a specialist
 > preoccupation of people who live in their heads and who
 > often cannot wiggle their toes. True, but I belong to the minority of people who find astrology useful and belong to an even smaller minority who would quite like to make sense of that experience.=20

 > BS I am more interested in rehabilitating it within
 > BS the community of astrologers.=20
 > Some astrologers have been doing little else over the
 > past century or so, and what good has this done? Just
 > strengthened the clique & and made it more comfortable. One thing the community of astrologers have in common is the recognition that astrology has a value. It would seem to me therefore that these are the people with whom one can start discussing carts as well as horses. The fact that are so many diverse arguments and perspectives which subvert consensus is no reason to see the discussions as pointless. It's a multi-tiered problem, which is one reason why there is so much confusion and disagreement in such discussions. One can argue till the cows come home about the validity of techniques, or the right way to 'scientifically test' astrology. But in my opinion there are debates to be held on lower tiers.=20

=46or example, I would identify at least two cultural symmetry breaks relevant to astrology's story; the shift from a pre-modern to modern world view, and the current destabilisation of modernity (called 'postmodernism') which is leading towards a new world view. The cliche version of astrologers trying to come to terms with pressure to evolve into the modern world view is the attempted assimilation of mechanistic paradigm thinking which has been happening since the late19th century. However, as that paradigm breaks down (or evolves) new understandings about the nature of things need to also be assimilated into efforts to make sense of astrology. Very broadly speaking, this hangs on the shift from looking at things in terms of structure, and instead emphasising the primacy of process (a consequence of the development of the life sciences during the last century). Thus within astrology one finds oneself arguing on two fronts (the pre-modern and the modern) if one happens to espouse the process orientation new to western cultural thinking. (And that's before attempting to present ideas to the non-astrological community).

What complicates matters is that none of these views necessarily excludes the other. I find it easy to recognise elements of the pre-modern, modern and postmodern perspectives in my own efforts to make sense of astrology. On the other hand, if I leave out the postmodern perspective, it all falls apart for me on a modelling or theoretical level. (Which probably means that I'm a postmodernist astrologer!). For want of a better way of describing it, astrology emerged from cultures which are often called patriarchally based. My own feeling is that this 5000 plus years old sensibility started to irretrievably break down during the last century, as evidenced by the re-appraisal of the feminine, nature, uncertainty and so on. I think this has major implications for astrology, but if one is arguing with another astrologer who does not share this opinion, it's hard to get creative dialogue happening. =20
 > BS I wouldn't invest too much energy in creating a unified front.//=20
 > Agreed. It makes much more sense to leave the nest.
 > Or the Piscean cemetary. Let the dead bury the dead. Except the dead echo constantly through the living. I'm fascinated by my experience of what seems like the divinatory aspect of astrology (pre-modern); by the mechanical reliability of the Saturn cycle and its worldly correlations (modern); and by the primary role of context in modulating the way astrologically revealed potential emerges in system behaviour (postmodern). While a united front would seem to be an unachievable (and possibly undesirable) goal, I reckon that there may be something to be said for constructing a united base upon which the diversity of attitudes and approaches can grow, flourish and cross-fertilise. This base doesn't have to be narrow or one dimensional.

Ed Falis's ideas as described in recent posts would seem to have relevance in this regard. In the long run, a heightened understanding of cognitive processes or the way consciousness works will be required too, if one wishes to understand what an astrologer is actually doing. As will an elaboration of the selection pressures provided by cultural factors, which in the end determine what can be considered to make sense.=20

The bottom line is that the history of astrology reflects humanity's subjective experience of the phenomenal world of change (which in many respects is itself paradoxically unchanging). The sun, moon and stars continue to move across the sky, and seven continues to be a loaded number. Plus ca change mais c'est le meme chose, or whatever the quote is. The more things change the more they stay the same. Discuss.=20

All the best



End of Exegesis Digest Volume 5 Issue 68

[Exegesis Top][Table of Contents][Prior Issue][Next Issue]

Unless otherwise indicated, articles and submissions above are copyright © 1996-1999 their respective authors.