Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #70

From: Bill Sheeran
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #68

From: JG or DF
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #67

Exegesis Digest Thu, 19 Oct 2000

Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000 22:27:28 GMT
From: Bill Sheeran
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #68

Dennis wrote:
 > 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. I'm inclined to agree with this, despite all the problems defining the word archetype. If I recall correctly, Maggie Hyde's interesting critique in her book 'Jung and Astrology' identified a number of different meanings for the word in Jung's writings alone. I like the somewhat Blakean term 'emanation' to describe the relationship between archetypes and archetypal forms - as in "authority is an emanation of the Saturnian archetype". I baulk at the notion of archetypes 'producing' natural forms - a knee jerk reaction against the mechanistic flavour of the phrase. =20

 > "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'd agree with this concept too. I like the Jungian notion that Number is the most primitive and fundamental archetype of Order recognised by human consciousness. I also like the equally Jungian hypothesis that the evolution of mathematics mirrors the evolution of the this primitive archetype of order within human consciousness.=20
 > I must apologise for the 3rd line above.. (not included) ....
 > 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. I personally have a problem with combining the concept of archetype with the concept of agency. Again, my bias against 'strong' mechanistic language. I think we recognise archetypes when we see them mirrored in the material plane, but would question whether the patterns in the material plane are a consequence of archetypes in action. There is consciousness involved in the equation, in my opinion.=20

In reply to stuff I wrote, Dennis said:
 > 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. Yes, I can see the validity in this attitude - using metaphors from a different perspective in order to communicate concepts from one's own alien perspective to those who hold that different perspective. It is important to bear in mind that this form of communication (using metaphor) is imaginal rather than rational. It allows the listener to say "I see what you mean" without having to reach any form of logical understanding or rationale as to why this might be the case. That is an important step forward in initially establishing communication. If the imagination is not involved, there is no hope of engaging reason. The ideal is to choose metaphors in which the *relationship* between formal elements in one perspective are congruent with the relationships between formal elements in the other. The formal elements themselves can be completely incongruous.=20
 > 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. Yes, this is another building block in establishing communication. Although my own feeling is that the light really switches on when relational similarities are highlighted in a way that on the one hand helps to paradoxically illuminate differences in the formal elements, and on the other to promote a particular perspective by inducing a sense of familiarity in the listener.=20

 > 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. True, but by observing the arcane rituals one can identify the underlying components of the belief system. In fact it's hard to see what the implict beliefs of astrologers are without looking at what they do.=20
 > I'd recommend seeing the cause in the operation of the system, relative = to
 > what it appears to produce. This would seem to concur with the notion which I hold - that the important thing is to look at and try to understand the way a system behaves ("the operation of the system") rather than to elucidate its causal mechanism in the traditional sense of the word.=20
 > 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". Well, it depends on whether you believe that the solar system's role in the practice of astrology can be taken literally. I agree that phase relationships and cycles are important, but they are essentially linear models, quite appropriate for modelling effectively linear systems such as the mechanical activities of the solar system. The problem comes when one tries to extrapolate from a linear system (such as the solar system) onto a non-linear context (as in life processes, psychological, abstract or physical). That's why I feel that the mathematics of non-linear system behaviour has much to offer, and there's a lot more to them than the mathematics of simple cycles and phases.
 > 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. It is.=20
 > 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. As I mentioned above, I think it is more complicated than that. There is order to the cosmic cycles, and these seem to be mirrored to some extent in the rhythms of life processes. But it is quite clear that this mirroring is not the same thing as a direct equation, otherwise astrology would provide a predictive power way beyond that which it is capable of, even according to its most optimistic adherents.=20

 > Ed Falis wrote:
 > < 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 I would agree with this, even though I believe that one can't start to theorise about the nature of astrology without looking at what astrologers do first to see what needs to be modelled. Using the analogy of archetypes, one gains access to the nature of the archetypes involved by looking at the archetypal forms (manifest forms relating to practice, etc.).

Dennis replied to Ed's paragraph above:
 > 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. Is time the subject matter, or is it change?

 > There is good and bad mathematics - I think the same applies to = astrology.

 > My bitch about maths has always been motivated by its apparent = abstraction
 > (similarly for physics). Real world correspondence between theory and
 > application is vital. What amazes me is the extent to which mathematics is able to model the complexities of real world processes. I mean, isn't Pi an amazing constant? It turns up all over the place.=20
 > It is elementary that natural time cycles and generic
 > environmental experience provide the common context for testing the = validity
 > of any abstract model. What is a natural time cycle? A product of commonly perceived rhythmic patterns associated with the experience of change? Which comes first (i.e. is primary)? If it is change, then astrology is more concerned with the way systems behave in time, rather than the submission of systems to the limits imposed by time (as mapped onto planetary cycles). It may be that the planetary cycles, in their own behaviour, give expression to rhythms which are to some extent common to the way all systems behave. The correlation between planetary cycles and rhythms in life may actually be pointing to something more fundamental or archetypal (enter Ed's formal abstractions, and Number as the primary archetype of Order as perceived in dynamic processes).=20

I mention this because over the last couple of years, I have begun to question whether, or to what extent, astrology is primarily concerned with time, or whether it describes patterns which are inclined to show in processes of change. Perhaps the difference between the two is subtle, but I feel it may be important.=20

Apart from anything else, it focuses attention on the context within which the changes are occuring. My own feeling (based on efforts to understand my experience of astrology) is that potential astrological 'effects' can be damped out by factors associated with the contextual situation. In other words, Pluto transits for example don't necessarily find any crucially significant manifest form. So which is more important from an interpretative point of view? Paying attention to the hegemony of time (you have a Pluto transit coming, and transformation will happen), or the dynamics of the context? I suppose both. But for me at the moment, the contextual scenario outweighs the astrological significators in importance. Which is why I am so interested in mathematical studies on the geometry of system behaviour (chaos theory, complexity, etc.).=20

Independent from astrological ways of seeing, systems can experience bifurcations, self-organise, move further or closer to equilibrium, turn chaotic, etc. In many respects astrology can reveal when such turning points are likely. But what actually happens next depends on the system's history and the current interplay of system variables.=20

In this respect, the phenomenon of hysteresis in non-linear systems (i.e. living systems) has relevance in relation to predictive efforts. A classic example of hysteresis is the behaviour of water coming out of a tap. For a given position of the tap (e.g. close to the point which allows initial water flow), the water behaves differently depending on whether one is turning it on or turning it off. The phase transition point (in terms of tap position) from laminar flow to turbulence (or vice versa) has two 'values' which are dependent on history.

Analogically, I would see situations where the correlations symbolically associated with planetary transits, for example, do not occur synchronously with the transits, but are delayed due to system dynamics (and possibly even damped out by them). For example, if one is moving from peace to a war situation (analogous to moving from laminar to turbulent flow), one might expect this to happen during the early stages of a Pluto transit to Mars. However, moving from war (turbulence) to peace (laminar flow) may not occur synchronously with a similar transit (transformation of the experience of the Mars principle). This was in fact the case in N.Ireland. The Pluto transit to Mars and Venus in the NI chart happened in 1994. The official outbreak of peace happened with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. On the other hand, the conditions for peace were set in 1994, with the first IRA ceasefire. From an historical perspective, this was the key event, but it did not end the bloodshed. Because in those days I paid more attention to astrological factors than contextual ones, I went into print at the time predicting peace in 1994.=20

What if the contextual conditions for war (or peace) are not present? Well, perhaps the transit will find some other form. Or maybe not. Although this notion may seem obvious or simple, I think it needs far greater discussion than it gets in astrological texts, which tend to ignore contextual factors altogether.=20

Dennis wrote:
 > 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. Except that the mathematics being developed in the form of complexity theory and non-linear system modelling is quintessentially qualitative. Here are a few quotes from "In the Wake of Chaos - unpredictable order in dynamical systems" by Stephen H. Kellert, University of Chicago Press 1993.

"What kind of understanding does chaos theory provide? The object of this understanding is the way in which unpredictable behaviour and *patterns* come to appear. The method of understanding their appearance is by the construction of models, not by breaking systems into their components and then constructing ahistorical deductive schemes, but rather by using experimental procedures that concentrate on holistic properties and historical developments. And the character of the understanding these models provide is that of *qualitative predictability, geometric mechanisms, and order*." =20

"By way of summary, I propose that the kind of understanding provided by chaos theory be called 'dynamic understanding'..... First, it calls to mind the connection with dynamical systems theory, the *qualitative* study of the behaviour of simple mathematical systems. Second, it connotes change and process ... Chaos theory lets us understand how *patterns* and unpredictability arise *by showing us how certain geometric mechanisms bring them forth*."=20

[Patterns as emanations of geometric mechanisms - Bill]

"So chaos theory provides us with understanding that is holistic, historical, and qualitative, eschewing deductive systems and causal mechanisms and laws.".

As an aside, in searching out these quotes I came across one by Evelyn =46ox Keller (who I think is a feminist philosopher of science) which makes an interesting point about law and order (on p113).

"Order is a category comprising patterns of organization that can be spontaneous, self-generated, or externally imposed; it is a larger category than law precisely to the extent that law implies external constraint. Coversely, the kinds of order generated or generable by law comprise only a subset of a larger category of observable or apprehensible regularities, rhythms and patterns."

I'm convinced that this type of thinking is important for anyone trying to understand the nature of astrology. I think we have to escape from the solar system in order to get back to it and see its relevance to astrology. It is too 'lawful' culturally, and to focus attention solely in that direction may result in missing the nature of astrology's relationship with order. So to get back to an earlier point, I wonder whether focusing on cycles and phase relationships as mapped onto the solar system will take us beyond a law mentality into the broader realm of order.=20

 > 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! And I think Lord Kelvin was the professor.=20
 > 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. It is also noteworthy that replicability completely ignores the significance of timing, which does create a few hurdles for those going for a scientific validation for astrology. =20
 > 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. That's because astrology is not 'lawful', but requires engaging in a hermeneutic process.=20

All the best,



Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000 22:41:56 +1300
From: JG or DF
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #67

 > From: Juan Revilla
 > Subject: synchronicity between what?

I think the question here is of general interest, in that it may reflect a fundamental difference between astrologers of the new paradigm and those of the old. Therefore although I address responses to Juan, I hope other readers keep this possibility in mind. I make no assumption that Juan is of the old school(!), because his concern may simply reflect familiarity with an astrological milieu that is extensive and traditional, with the relative lack of an alternative approach that seems more progressive in comparison. It puzzles me that synchronicity is still a conceptual problem for some, but I can see that just because it has been a user-friendly notion for those of us with a counter-cultural history (alternative lifestyle and alternative belief system exploration) for several decades, does not mean it is reasonable to expect people to have full comprehension of this inherently subtle concept.

 > Dennis wrote
 > ... 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.
 > This represents only what is being assumed, whereas in practice --or, to
 > use a different term, what is actually happened or can be observed quite
 > objectively-- astrology operates that way only seldom and in a very limited
 > sense, which to me looks very secondary and does not address the
 > characteristics of the astrological tool or machine. The "clock machinery"
 > of astrology almost never works in real-time.

Depends what you mean by astrology. I expect you mean `what most astrologers do', in which case I see no reason to disagree with your first sentence. However my perception of what astrology is has never been so limited, even if it did take me 2 or 3 years when learning it to realise that I would actually have to follow my instincts and be resolute in sorting out the wheat from the chaff. Nowadays I tend to see any tendency to define astrology by the mass habits of astrologers as akin to defining the culture of western civilisation as being identical to the most popular television soap operas. As I have said before, from a sociological point of view there is some merit in such pragmatism, but look at what you lose by doing so. Defining something by equating it with the lowest common denominator of comprehension just doesn't seem wise.

As far as your second sentence goes, I guess you don't use an astroclock. When your computer continuously displays a moving horoscope in real time (i.e. of local space and local time), you have the capacity to observe frequently the correspondence between real life events as they are happening (or not long after) and what the astrology of the moment tells you about its archetypal nature. The ratio of empirical learning about how real astrology works that is derived from such a tool out-rates the birthchart in the order of 100:1, if not more. Or so it has seemed to me in the 12 years I've been using one.

 > There is only one technique, or procedure used by astrologers since the
 > beginnings of horoscopy two thousand years ago, that can be said to rest in
 > the principle of synchronicity, and that is the moment of making the birth
 > chart or any other radical. All the techniques which are used to manipulate
 > the birth chart (progressions, directions, transits), and which
 > traditionally represent the main application of astrology, never work
 > through a synchrony between earth and sky or people and sky (which I call
 > "real time").

Yes, but I see no point in using progressions or directions. I believe you are wrong about transits, at least in the sense in which I understand the term. Current positions of planets form a collective frame of reference, which we could call (perhaps) `the current cosmic situation'. I agree this is mostly tacit in how it operates, even to the (zillion) astrologers operating web sites that pretend to inform people about current trends. Nonetheless, anyone who can actually interpret the transiting aspects the Sun, Moon & planets make to each other, and the transits they make through the signs of the zodiac, can access a cosmic weather report anytime. When they do, they are reading the `real time' synchrony you refer to.

Your phrase "any other radical" strikes me as antiquated, but I assume it is intended to refer to the horoscope of any event other than human birth. I consulted the dictionary, which stressed meanings derived from the Latin root radix (which means root!) "fundamental: original: intrinsic: inherent: thorough: primary: primitive: implanted by nature". This does indeed tend to cut to the essence of a moment in time (the seed of an event, implying the capacity to give birth to some process). I prefer to use a modern easily-understood term (event charts) because I believe language is most effective when it is user-friendly.

 > However, since the artificial freezing of a very fleeting moment of time
 > (the chart) can hardly be called "working in synchronicity" between Earth
 > (or people) and sky, calling this "synchronicity" is inappropriate and
 > tangential. The same goes for Horary Astrology.

You disagree with Jung? Every time I cast my eyes on a horoscope of now, the meaning I read is significant for me, and the synchronicity I thus experience is often quite profound. Therefore I must disagree with you here. I don't do horary, but I'm tempted to agree with you about that since its rules of interpretation have always struck me as contrived and illogical. However I suspect horarists might make a similar objection, since the moment of the query is also a synchronicity to the practitioner who invests it with meaning.

 > Transits give the resemblance of "real time", but the resemblance
 > disappears when it is realized that they are almost always measured with
 > respect to a chart or radical, not a person or any other organic entity. No
 > technology exists which can do that. Astrology works through a
 > diagram-to-diagram operation, never a sky-to-people operation. In transits,
 > diagram A (of the real-time sky) is seen through the screen or with respect
 > to diagram B (a chart, a radical), which belongs to a different time in the
 > past. There is no synchronicity. Transits never happen to people in real
 > life or in nature. They happen to charts.

Yes, you thrashed this point thoroughly in your web page of archives. On the face of it, the logic seems quite reasonable, and I wasn't inclined to disagree. But I suspect the real issue underlies the logic. You say there's no synchronicity, but that just means you don't see it. Probably its a left-brain, right-brain issue. Logic cannot address it, even in principle. Cognition transcends logic. I find it helpful to negotiate this type of problem by reference to relativity. Meaning is relative to the subject. If I make myself the subject, the meaning of an object is relative to my internal context. This context contains various frames of reference. The meaning of an object will have various components, each relative to a particular frame of reference.

So a current planetary position will have meaning relative to an interpreter, which can be composed of the meaning of the planet in the sign of the zodiac it occupies, the meaning of that planet in the mundane house at the time, the meanings derived from aspects to other planets, etc. As well as these meanings of current positions, there are meanings given in relation to the birthchart. I agree that these latter meanings have no direct relevance to synchronicity. However, synchronicity was defined by Jung as the temporal correspondence between event and psychological state. What if the psychological state accesses a context within the psyche in which the temporal continuum seems to reside?

If that situation applies, then temporal relations between a moment now and a moment then may colour the experience. This would give us reason to acknowledge a subtle connection, in principle, between synchronicity and the entire temporal continuum which may affect our sense of timing. I've never been entirely happy with Jung's various descriptions of synchronicity, but his inconsistencies do seem more evocative than frustrating to me. I've never had any trouble intuiting what he was getting at. Someone sees a meaningful link between an event and their psychological state when it crystallizes in the moment. All the astrologer is doing is widening the context of that moment. By directing attention to the horoscope of the moment, further elucidation of the meaning can be obtained. Jung didn't get that far.

 > Progressions and directions work through a symbolical/analogical
 > manipulation of time units. There is never synchronicity there.
 > Astro-meteorology and some applications of mundane astrology seem to be the
 > only branches I can think of that use real-time connections, and they are
 > the ones most distanced from the context in which the concept of
 > synchronicity is usually brought in.

Hmm.. Again, I have no problem with what you say here, other than that it is so far removed from what I actually said (see quoted section above) as to seem completely irrelevant. My stance is experiential, yours is sociological. I accept that you may be misinterpreting what I said because you are unfamiliar with my use of astrology, but I'm not really very different from other astrologers with a contemporary approach to the subject in this respect. Synchronicity is an experience of coincidence, in which simultaneous inner and outer states seem to be linked by meaning that is archetypal in nature. An astrologer may encounter this experience any time, whenever the impact of a perceived correlation between the coinciding sky configuration, event, and experience is sufficiently meaningful.

Dennis Frank


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