Exegesis Volume 6 Issue #7

From: ParsifalsSister
Subject: Exegesis Digest V6 #6

From: JG or DF
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digests V6 #3,4,5

Exegesis Digest Sun, 18 Feb 2001

Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 20:35:14 EST
From: ParsifalsSister
To: exegesis
Subject: Exegesis Digest V6 #6

Mr. Tallman, No BB, just a seeker. What about opening up to a subject that may not have been explored or tainted, or undercooked, or overeaten? Astrology as a philosophy, not a science. Yes, science *poses" facts; philos *ideas* Astrological charts are a map. Transits and progressions move the map forward, backward and trigger the potential paths that exist. What do we interpret aspects as benefic and malefic if what is happening is distance and angle between one fixed body and another? And one fixed body and another body in motion? Fondly,


Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001 21:58:45 +1300
From: JG or DF
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digests V6 #3,4,5

Zoe wrote:
 > some guides might help more people to post. Some topic
 > of current interest might challenge us to challenge each other: < snip >
 > ... the us presidential election ... the nature of horary
 > and its relevance in the material world; how to find and do a mundane
 > chart for a country; what astrology can contribute to the psychologic,
 > sociologic, or spiritual models that already exist.
 > Is there a log of previous posts? Can we view them? Is there a list of
 > members? Can we re-introduce ourselves?

I'd be happy to engage any of those topics if you want to start the ball rolling, Zoe. As Fran mentioned, there is an archive which is apparently due to relocate. Very kind of Patrice to offer his hospitality for that. It would be prudent for him to wait till Mercury goes direct before implementing the relocation! Then he will advise the web address so you can view prior contributions to Exegesis (well worth the effort if you are into astrophilosophy).

Fran has assured subscribers of their confidentiality, so they remain anonymous unless they contribute to the list. We certainly can introduce ourselves any time, although I never have. Actually, I do believe it is worth doing, because familiarity with where someone is coming from helps to make sense of their input by providing context.

It was certainly a welcome surprise to receive positive feedback from Bill & Fran on my interpretation of the Exegesis chart! Thanks, guys. Particularly welcome in so far as it documents a provisional consensus of opinion on the accuracy of the match between the theoretical description of the list and how it is functioning in real life. Disregarding the element of personal artistry that weaves interpretation into a literary composition, I'd like to point out that the result was produced by use of the language of astrology (in a Rudhyarian sense).

The process hinges on the `correct' utilisation of keywords. It is a fairly traditional style of interpretation, simply combining planets, houses, signs & aspects; however it is distinguished by the priority focus on the axes of the horoscope. The inclusion of Chiron is noteworthy. And, as ever, accuracy was achieved via the total exclusion of rulerships.

What I am trying to point out here is that the functional potentials of the chart could be identified by any reasonably competent astrologer, as long as this simple approach is followed. It seems that archetypes that underlie the components of the horoscope generate identifying labels in human consciousness. Such characteristic keywords tend to convey the essence of the archetype, the more so to intuitively receptive minds. The entire set of such keywords describes the archetype more effectively than any single label, and the British astrologer Dennis Elwell borrowed Koestler's term `holon' and used it to represent the way we perceive the correspondence in his 1987 book "Cosmic Loom: the new science of astrology".

Rudhyar's use of astrology as a `language of life' rests on this tacit recognition that distinct collectively-experienced archetypes arising from nature underlie the labels used by astrologers to interpret horoscopes. This approach was consistent with traditional astrology to the extent that keywords were being explicitly recognised by the mid 20th century (see "The Modern Textbook of Astrology", M Hone, 1951). It is noteworthy that some keywords are generally regarded by astrologers as being especially characteristic of the planet/sign/house compared to other keywords. Such a consensus indicates how the language of astrology can become effective, presuming that the consensus is generated by collective recognition of those underlying factors that motivate experience, the astrological archetypes.

I'd better wind this up lest it seems like a sermon. I didn't mean to embark on a lecture, just make the point about how traditional astrologer can generate effective interpretation, so long as the practitioner does not swallow it hook, line & sinker. If you swallow the lot and regurgitate it when doing a reading the way most astrologers do, you will add so much disinformation generated by the delusional elements of traditional astrology (such as rulerships) to the insights generated by the archetypes that the sum total will be a mishmash of reliable and unreliable information. Non-astrologers with critical faculties will always find your production of such a mix quite unconvincing. Astrologers pursuing this approach will never get astrology out of the lunatic fringe, and the most they can achieve is to impress friends and clients with a selective use of their speculations.

In Ex 6/4 Bill Tallman wrote:
 > we have to pay attention to how we 'hear' the other voices on this list,
 > and we have to pay attention to how accessible to others we are in
 > return.

Well said. Combining empathy and an inclusive approach is likely to facilitate the collaboration that some of us are hoping for. However collaboration necessary to fulfil the potential of Exegesis requires use of the intellect, something our culture and education system has failed to cultivate. Television has had a crippling effect on those who grew up with it instead of books. It is in language skills and the comprehension of subtle concepts that the younger generations seem notable deficient, even more so perhaps in the inclination to penetrate into the depths of the issues. We ought to encourage newcomers to Exegesis to engage the issues from their own unique perspective, and then see to what extent we can share the insights generated.

 > In general, Dennis' reading was yet another demonstration that astrology
 > does indeed work pretty much as advertised.

Yes, with the qualifications and reservations outlined in the above paragraphs.

 > But therein lies the Problem of Astrology: we don't know how or why it
 > works, and we don't know how to find out. I submit that this is the primary
 > subject that must be addressed successfully if astrology is ever to have the
 > opportunity to regain its former status < snip >

The process I outlined above explains to my satisfaction how the astrological archetypes generate the keywords that enable accurate interpretation. That is to say, this is the only suitable working hypothesis I am aware of. I've deliberately refrained from expanding the above description of the process for reasons of economy, so I realise it may not seem fully convincing!

 > a large part of the tradition of astrology is that
 > the why and how are a mystery, and so should not be investigated, lest
 > investigation have some catastrophic consequences of indeterminate nature.

Self-doubt. Leading rapidly to insecurity. Since astrology incorporates a paradigm, those who learn it act according. Robots tend not to question their operating program. Those of us who had previously acquired other paradigms came into astrology with multi-dimensional personal belief systems. We therefore are classic products of post-modernity: we use and put aside each paradigm according to the need we feel is appropriate to examine a situation. We use each like a lens. Those with only one lens do not have the option of obtaining meaning from a different collective frame of reference by examining a situation through a different lens in this manner. And don't forget that paradigms are functional: they function to produce results, according to the designed formula or ritual. A user is accustomed to getting results. Traditional astrology suits people for this reason, and they become dependent on their acquired ability to produce results. Most astrologers will be reluctant to face the possibility that their results are inadequate. Old dogs rarely learn new tricks, so any alternative would have to be a readily-demonstrable improvement.

 > Dennis appears to assume that there exists adequate astrological theory. I
 > do not, as I've made quite clear. I submit we have nothing to test. As far
 > as I'm concerned, the parameter that troubles Dennis is the very one we've
 > been striving to see how to address. It can be stated more formally as: at
 > present, astrology does not contain any testable material; it has no theory,
 > no clinical data base, no commonly acknowledged set of practices, nothing.
 > All that comes first, Dennis. Can you suggest how we can address that
 > problem?

Yes, it does rather seem as if Bill and I differ on this issue. The difference may hinge on what we see as a `test'. I test my personal understanding of astrological theory via application to case study situations and appraisal of the extent of match between theoretical prediction and reality. I call this the empirical approach to learning how astrology works. The Exegesis launch reading is a typical example. The method attains relative objectivity via a convergence of several parameters. As we have seen, the consensus of agreement of several informed interpreters extends and documents some partial objectivity. The meaning and description of the event are also relative, and objectivity is extended via the numbers of participants and the media reports that may be generated. As mentioned, the language of astrology also becomes more objective the greater the consensus of meaning of its components that its users adopt, particularly when keywords enter into the common usage of non-astrologers (mercurial, martial, jovial).

All that I would immediately suggest, Bill, is a firm approach toward identifying the best keywords for each component. When I started learning astrology I was puzzled that keywords listed were only partially correct. This implied that authors of astrology books couldn't tell the difference between the right ones and the wrong ones. Why then was it so intuitively obvious to me? Of course, to you and anyone else my personal intuitions are of marginal relevance at best. What really matters are those keywords we agree are correct. Any language communicates to the extent that users agree to the meanings the words have. Astrologers have erred on this issue too long, and the language as commonly used is awfully sloppy.

As regards Bill's complaint about the lack of a `clinical data base', I feel unable to judge if clinical implies some necessary quality. The data base for me is the whole class of events. It is limited only by accurate identification. If you can locate an event in time and space you can do its chart (previously notified restriction to this planet's surface applies). If you know what the event is, you can judge the match between chart meaning and event meaning. Such an empirical test suffices for me, but I did always expect other astrologers to do this too, and looked forward to comparing my verdict with theirs. It always used to baffle me that they failed perform such a basic reality check.

The `true believer' syndrome is not only a terrible affliction, it is vastly more widespread than I had suspected. The problem seems to be that the effective paradigm in astrology has never included a verification procedure. Driven by market forces, the supply of astrologers results from a general demand for knowledge of the future. It doesn't matter if the knowledge obtained is wrong. Error in the readings does not quench faith in the ritual.

John Kellden informed us that he is "moderately skilled in three languages, astrology, english and dialogue as a tool for group-meaning." The latter skill certainly sounds useful, and I hope John's expertise can produce results here. John wrote:
 > In short : I suggest dialogue with astrology as metanarrative. I'd like to see how this approach works in practice. My first reaction was that I thought we had been doing exactly that, at least for the 2 years that I have been participating. John, I guess you've probably been unable to access the archive - but if you have read part of it, and see a difference in approach, I'd like to here how you'd describe it.

 > all the difficulties in defining astrology could be seen
 > as constraints, and also as ground for dialogue, possibly enabling
 > us through dialogue too see an emerging "web of meaning"
 > through our skillful, considerate and mindful conversation,
 > rather than as a result of it.

You mean allowing a right brain focus rather than left? Insights deriving from resonance & pattern recognition, instead of logic & reasoning? If so, I'd not argue. For me both tend to happen in tandem somehow these days, but I agree with the implication that society still provides a left-brain bias which may be limiting progress in the list in a collective sense. It could be that the culture of the group of contributors to this list is somewhat left-brain reliant, but, if so, that goes along with a ready acceptance of lateral thinking: our collective use of the intellect tends to be rather unconventional, not bound by tradition or ideology in any obvious form. However, a more contemplative and reflective approach may indeed be helpful.

Fran wrote:
 > I've concluded that my first attempt at connecting a server to
 > the internet has been a failure. I couldn't resolve the problems
 > you mention through my ISP nor by changing the server settings.
 > For the record, the problem has nothing to do with you position
 > on the planet, as I've been unable to make a reliable connection
 > from a machine 2 miles from here, it is simply my ISP being
 > unable to correctly configure a large network (or listen to
 > their customer's demands that they do so). < snip > I
 > still intend to have the web site be parallel to the list and to
 > provide some nice additional services to the list.

Well, I can but sympathise (you're way ahead of me in this area of technology). Thanks for that glimpse into the issues involved, I do appreciate being able to form some general understanding of the situation, and I like the resolution at the end there!

 > astrologers are not the only group of people who
 > may detest a labour of the intellect, it seems a fairly common
 > trait in humans.

Sure. My point (implied) was that astrologers should be suited to intellectual endeavour, since it is required to perform reliable horoscope interpretation. I realise my presuppositions here are vulnerable to effective dispute!!

Aw, shucks! Naturally I enjoyed such appreciation, but it's a shame that my effort causes such diffidence. We all have different insights and any consensual picture of a subject constellates from the individual views of observers. Just because one has become an effective reporter of his view is no good reason for another to refrain from issuing a description. However I do empathise, having been there myself (I have a classic natal configuration that was ever a major handicap). One needs to feel satisfied with one's artistry, and I can only give advice that worked for me. Practice makes perfect, they say. But Virgo says you have to get the right procedure otherwise ritualised performance will get you used to producing wrong answers. One only need attend an astrologers' conference or scan astrology books on the market to see this. Oops, back on the old hobby horse again, sorry..

I believe there are two essential components to effective interpretation: accuracy of data & analysis, and artistry in weaving the synthesis of all the relevant factors. The former involves disciplines that can be taught and are honed through frequent application to real life situations. The latter involves a necessary coordination of right-brain functions (insights into the various ways particular configurations may manifest, intuiting how component patterns are likely to interact, seeing the overview, etc) with left-brain articulation into language accessible to others. This personal coordination cannot be taught, but it can be learnt in normal paradigmatic fashion by observing how others seem to do it and copying their style. At least, that's the route I took.

 > It was indeed a "genuine launch chart" (I'd never cheat, it's
 > too much fun not cheating).

Oh, I never meant to suggest you might have! Just that most mundane astrologers get the chart wrong, because they fail to identify the originating event, so I have learned that rather than waste my time discussing the wrong chart with them, I first must find out what event they think they have used.

 > The first dozen issues were hand
 > mailed to the 15+ members, and the first was launched from the
 > place given at the time given. I actually missed my election
 > time by a bit, and have given the time of actual launch within
 > 15 seconds. The circumstances were such that I felt that I had
 > only a short period of time in which to start the list and ended
 > up with the given time as the best choice.

Sounds reassuring. You seem to have intuitively understood that the launch moment is the beginning of the operating process. A common error is to misidentify the construction of an enabling form (that provides the necessary structure) as the birth. Thanks for the confirmation. Without it, as I commented via email to Bill Tallman, my reading was entirely speculative. I'd be interested to know how much earlier was the time you had decided on. This interplay between theoretical choice and fate-selected outcome has long been an area of learning for me!

 > OK, OK, OK, I give up. Storage is no longer a problem, and
 > nobody has complained about the quotes for a while (but I have
 > been forcing the issue, so no surprise there) so I'll rescind my
 > moderator-ly imposition of the "watch the quotes" rule.

Good to hear, but I hope we all adhere to the spirit of the rule nonetheless, and not get into sloppy posting habits. Junk mail is unwelcome.

 > credibility needs to flow from a
 > variety of directions, not just reliability.

Could you expand on this?

 > we should talk about how to construct tests of
 > techniques such that astrologers can use those results, rather
 > than constructing tests to answer our critics.

Yes, proactive rather than reactive. The tests of astrology have always been based on the paradigm of old science. Statistics, invariably. If anything in astrology can be counted in such a way as to show us how astrology works, how come nobody has been able to do it? Seems to me the premise must be wrong. If your doctor heals you, do you need to prove it by trying to find something to count?

 > My intent was that the list be a
 > vehicle for change in the world and that it provide a place for
 > those discussions that other discussion areas would not address
 > directly or at length. My experience had been that nearly all
 > astrology theory discussions were rooted in appeals to authority
 > and that much more was needed to satisfy the hunger many had for
 > a solid intellectual foundation to astrology theory. I wanted
 > many, many seed ideas to flow out of the list and hoped that
 > superior ideas would take root in the broader discourse.

Oh good, we're on the same wavelength.

I often reflect on Alan Leo's suggestion that the natal horoscope shows character & destiny. This insight a century ago somehow seems to encapsulate the mystique of astrology. If it really were a font of self-discovery in the way that Dane Rudhyar's evangelism proclaimed, what a boon to the human race it would be! Our society tries to conform us, but we want to be ourselves. We sense our unique nature but dimly. A method that revealed it in more detail and clarity would be a great help, particularly to young people being swayed by inappropriate suggestions into making wrong choices, threatening their subsequent happiness and future.

Market forces exalt choice while devaluing guidance, creating modern society as lottery. For those of us who learn to make it work reliably, astrology provides a rationale for the trends of the times, and helps us make better choices. Yet both character and destiny are not fixed, and the map we use just shows potentials and qualities. So how do we know we can rely on it?

I guess the easy answer to this question is the time-honoured one - trial and error - that applies to any tool. Remembering that favourite description of archaeologists & anthropologists `man, the tool-maker', perhaps we ought to focus on the horoscope as a cerebral tool. Perhaps that is the key explanation to the revival of astrology in the 20th century. It is not merely a consequence of reaction to the dehumanising effects of science; it provides a tool, a catalyst for self-discovery. After a couple of years in Exegesis focusing on astrophilosophy, maybe a switch to practical considerations would be helpful.

Dennis Frank


End of Exegesis Digest Volume 6 Issue 7

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

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