Saturday, January 11, 2014

Skeptics and Other Hazards

If you make it known that you study or practice astrology, you will from time to time encounter people who don't believe in it. You will also encounter people who believe in it, but also believe it's the work of the Devil. Ironically, the second group is usually easier to deal with, as you can generally point to a quote in whatever holy book they happen to be using that will support astrology. That won't work with the first group as they have no holy book, and in fact, no central authority. However, they are every bit as dogmatic as the second group.

The first group refers to themselves as skeptics. You might expect that to mean that they are skeptical about things until shown evidence. If that were true, they would reserve judgement until studies were done. The history of astrology skeptics is quite different. They do studies based on their assumptions about what astrology is, then publish those as proof that astrology doesn't work.

Furthermore, members of this group have no problem with saying that astrology is not valid, even if they know nothing about astrology. So they are not really skeptics, they are deniers. And because they do not know what they are denying, you have no hope with them.

The skeptics typically define astrology as the belief that the position of the sun and the planets relative to the earth at the time a person was born determines his and personality. The good news is that this is not true. The bad news is that what astrology really is will be even less palatable to the skeptics.

Astrology is simply the study of cycles as marked by the cycles of planets from the perspective of us here on earth. Astrology relies of the concept of an interconnected universe. In such a universe, the cycles of planets mirror other cycles which control everything. Under this concept, the Planets don't control anything but are simply indicators. And the natal chart doesn't determine a person's life; the life a person decided to have determines when and where they will be born.

In any case, argue with them at your own risk.

The other reason to be wary of those groups is that astrology is still illegal under laws against fortune-telling in some locations, and members of these two groups will be most likely to file a complaint.

tl;dr: Don't argue with fundamentalists, whether materialist or religious.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Astrology's Image Problem

Imagine a foreign exchange student from France or Italy comes to America for a visit. For some reason the host family takes him to either Denny's or McDonald's for every meal. He'd be entirely justified in concluding that American food is bland and possibly not even really food. However, that conclusion would be incorrect.

The average person's exposure to astrology is similar to the exchange student's experience with American food. Instead of being fed with nourishing concepts like the planets, the houses, aspects, reception and the like, they are fed bland Sun sign stereotypes. What's worse, few of them ever find out that there's more to astrology than that. Since everyone knows people who don't conform to the Sun sign stereotypes, many of them draw the conclusion that astrology is bullshit. It's not, but they have no way of knowing that.

Good astrologers know that there's more to people than their Sun signs. Unfortunately, good astrology doesn't sell books and newspapers, at least not in the quantity desired by those who are footing the bill. What's worse, someone who wants to study astrology in detail is faced with laundry lists of "this planet in this sign means X" and the like. Astrology, let's face it, is complex, and modern culture likes to oversimplify.

So what's the answer? I'm not sure, but I do know what would help: A fundamental change in the way we teach astrology, specifically a return to basic principles, and more specifically presenting traditional astrology to beginners first. Why traditional astrology? Because it's a system built on basic concepts. Once the beginners have sound knowledge of the basic concepts, they'll be able to derive everything else herself, and they'll have a solid base on which to add modern innovations.

This doesn't solve the problem of newspaper horoscopes and Sun sign books, and we still have materialist "skeptics" to deal with. I'm not worried about either. There's an old saying that nothing can beat an idea whose time has come. My feeling is that the materialist paradigm has already started to collapse, along with the current economic paradigm and a bunch of others. Our time is almost at hand.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Infinity of Infinities

As a starting point, I'll present for you a grossly oversimplified model of the universe. First there was the Infinite. The Infinite was everywhere and everything. Even the word "was" is inaccurate as the Infinite was outside of time as we know it. Whatever the Infinite thought was real; after all, nothing else existed. Since the thoughts of the Infinite were still within the Infinite, they had the same properties and could create their own thoughts. So at this point we have an infinity of infinities. But things didn't stop there.

At this point, the Infinite and all of the thoughts for infinite generations were together within the Infinite. One of the thoughts had a thought of being separate from the rest. Since the thoughts of the Infinite were real and could create thoughts that were also real, that resulted in the experience of being separate from the rest. I'll leave out a few steps for the sake of brevity. Suffice it to say that, according to A Course in Miracles, that's why and how we are here in this place of pain, limit and lack.

This is the starting point, but what if the thought of being separate wasn't a mistake? Here's my theory: we're here to experience the underlying unity and limitlessness described above. Naturally, this won't happen overnight, but each of us has as many lifetimes as needed. But since we'll be doing this as people, each of us will have this experience from a different perspective. The effect will be that we will have multiplied infinity by itself, which in my opinion was the original plan.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why You Should Learn Traditional Astrology

If you would like to learn astrology, I think that traditional astrology is the best place for you to start. This is because traditional astrology is a system built from basic concepts. It is therefore easier to learn because the ideas build upon each other.

The typical modern astrology book has lists of planet/sign and planet/house combinations. Few of these books give any indication of how the author derived the meanings of those combinations. Traditional astrology, on the other hand, gives you the tools to derive the meanings yourself.

Some of you may know that the Zodiac signs are based on the seasons, but how many of you knew that the sign rulerships are also based on the seasons? The two brightest objects in the sky, the Sun and the Moon, are given rulership of Leo and Cancer respectively, the parts of summer with the most daylight. Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, is assigned the two surrounding signs, Gemini and Virgo. Venus, the next closest planet, is assigned the next two signs, Taurus and Libra, and so on, until Saturn, the furthest of the visible planets from the Sun, gets the two signs of winter, Capricorn and Aquarius, with the least daylight.

Traditional astrology does not use the outer planets: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Because of this you may think that something is missing. How can traditional astrology function without the dynamic force of Uranus, the dissolving mist of Neptune, or the death-like transformation of Pluto? Traditional astrology has its own drama, orchestrated by the fixed stars and antiscia.

The fixed stars are just stars; they are called fixed to distinguish them from planets, which were also called wandering stars. These stars have been given names that don't really mean anything by modern astronomers, but their old names are quite colorful. Regulus, for example, was formerly known as the Heart of the Lion. Antares was formerly called the Heart of the Scorpion. There's even a medusa's head (Algol)! Some of these stars can have a  dramatic impact on a chart when prominently placed. For example, Regulus being close to the Midheaven in a chart can indicate fame and fortune for the native, but the fame may be of the fifteen-minutes variety and the fortune similarly short-lived.

Now let's talk about antiscia. An antiscion (antiscia plural) is a shadow point of a planet. If an antiscion of a planet falls within a degree of another planet, it can indicate a secret connection between the two. For example, if the antiscion of the First House ruler (which represents the person) is close to the Seventh House ruler (which represents the person's partners), that could indicate a tendency to have secret affairs.

But what if someone doesn't know what time they were born? You can still answer questions for them by using horary astrology. Horary astrology answers questions based on a chart of the time and place of the question. What kinds of questions can it answer? Well, England's
most famous astrologer, William Lilly, had a famous question about his stolen fish. He ordered a shipment of fish from a local warehouse and found out later that it had been stolen. Based only on an astrology chart, he was able to work out a description and location of the
thief, and caught the thief with some of the stolen goods.

Traditional astrology can tell us about more than individuals and their stuff. Mundane astrology tells us about cities, states and countries, using the same princples as natal and horary, but there are more charts to work with. Conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn
happen roughly every 20 years, and set the tone for the following 20 years. You can also cast a chart for the moment the Sun enters Aries each year, and charts for full moons, new moons and eclipses. Lilly used techniques like these to predict the Great Fire of London years before it happened.

If you'd like to learn more about traditional astrology, I'm working on a book about the subject. The book will be on, and I'll post a link later.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Traditional Astrology Course

I'm still working on my book on traditional astrology, but I'm taking a break to teach a four-week course on traditional astrology for beginners. The course will take place next month at a local New Age store in Michigan. I'll post after the course is done to let you know how it went.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Primary Directions in Traditional Astrology

Primary directions are a time-tested prediction and timing technique used in traditional astrology. They are similar to secondary progressions, but use degrees of what is called right ascension instead of degrees of the Zodiac. Right ascension degrees are different from Zodiac degrees in that they take into account the different amounts of time that Zodiac signs take to rise above the horizon. The differences arise from the fact that the Earth's orbit is elliptical, while the Zodiac is a circle by convention. In secondary progressions, one day's activity in the ephemeris after the birth time is taken to correspond to one year in the native's life (the native is the person whose birth chart is being examined); in primary directions, the planets move by one degree, more or less (there are different methods), per year of the native's life. The interaction between the adjusted (or directed) positions and the natal positions can mark events in the native's life.

Here's my chart. The house cusps are not shown because I use whole sign houses, where the entire sign where the Ascendant falls is the first house, the next sign the second house, and so forth. The arrow pointing to the left is the Ascendant; the upward-pointing arrow is the Midheaven. How it works is that the planets move clockwise through the chart as they would during the course of the day; a quarter of the way through will cover the native's entire life.

The first event I'd like to point out happened in September 1989 and was marked by Pluto advancing upward to meet the Midheaven. At the time I was starting my senior year of college, but I had to leave due to finances. That event completely transformed my career as Microsoft was recruiting heavily on campus at the time and I could very well have ended up working there had I graduated. So you can see that the event worked similarly to a Pluto transit of the Midheaven.

The next event also involves the Midheaven, this time with Uranus as the directed planet. This was in late 1993. At the time, I was working at an investment bank in Boston, in a department that managed stocks for pension plans. I developed stomach problems due to the stress levels, and in February of the next year, one day decided I couldn't do that job any more and gave notice. So the event was similar to a Uranus-Midheaven transit.

The last event I'll cover involves Venus, which was directed to the Midheaven in the summer of 1998. The major event was a trip to Russia to meet my future wife. I came back engaged and got married a year latter. The subsequent divorce ten years later was marked by an aspect between the Midheaven and what's called the antiscion (a shadow spot) of Mars.

If you'd like to try working with primary directions, I recommend using the program Pymorinus. Book Three of William Lilly's Chrisitan Astrology gives instruction on how to use primary directions.

Disclaimer: the first rule of predictive astrology is that no event can happen unless it is indicated in the natal chart. The technique given here is used to determine when events will happen, not if they will happen.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Free Astrology/Tarot E-book

It's time for a publicity stunt!

From now until the end of 2011, I will make the e-book version of my new book, Better Living with Astrology and Tarot, available absolutely free to anyone who requests it. To request it, send an email to all DOT are DOT wonders AT gmail DOT com.