Astrology by Hand Week 26
The Dialogue Between Heaven and Earth Continued
Last week, I mentioned the curious historical parallels between the images of the constellations as set forth by Ptolemy and the other Greeks, and events in history as the solstitial and equinoctial points passed through them. I am sure that a devout skeptic would try with considerable effort to shoot this whole idea full of holes, but, as I said last week, there are many of these correlations. And the remarkable fact is that the timing has been so good. In most astrological phenomena, we are happy if we have events correlating with astrological indications within a degree or so. These historical correlations have coincided with the solstitial and equinoctial passes within 5 minutes of arc or less. We have to remember that the rate of precession is 50.25 seconds of arc per year, so a difference of ten years or less, corresponds to an arc of about 8 minutes or less.
Okay! But this may seem to be no more extraordinary than any other astrological correlation, more or less reasonable to students of astrology, and completely incredible to skeptics! But let’s look at this again. Planets are clearly not human creations. The zodiac, it can be argued, may reflect in some stylized way the changes of the Earth and biosphere as it goes around the Sun. But the constellations are clearly human creations. Each culture has its own images, and the ancients were very much aware that the Egyptians and Babylonians had different ones than the Greeks, although the three cultures merged their constellational systems somewhat into the one described by Ptolemy.
There are some constellational patterns that can be found common to many cultures. These are the patterns that are very suggestive to the eye. But most of the constellations vary considerably from culture to culture. Yet these creations of the Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures seem in turn to have ”influenced,” or at least correlated with, the history of these cultures. Something very strange is going on here.
The Creation of Languages of Nature
I do not have the space here to work out all of the logic of what I am about to say, but it seems to go something like this: 1) The human mind operating collectively at the cultural level strains to see or to read something in nature. 2) In so doing, it sends out something like a signal to what I will refer to as a ”cosmic mind” (nous). What it sends is the understanding of what it needs to see or read in order to arrive at understanding. 3) The human mind and the cosmic mind enter into a dialogue, and together create a language of symbols that the human mind can understand and that are formulated in terms of appearances in nature. This process takes place at an unconscious level. 4) This symbolic language then becomes the vehicle by which the human mind reaches its understanding about nature and its position within it.
A key point! Such a ”language” is not an objectively ”real” entity. It exists only within the dialogue of humanity and nature in a specific cultural and historical context. Different cultures and different times will create different languages, and these languages will vary in terms of what they can convey and how well. There raises an interesting question. Is the very mathematics that lies at the heart of our sciences such a language? Quite possibly, although it is clearly one of the more effective ones.
Languages of Nature as Magic
So what we have here is a colossal magical act. At least the constellations of ancient astrology are a creation of the human mind that have in turn become capable of affecting, or at least symbolizing, human history. Is the rest of astrology and all of the divinatory arts any different in this respect? Probably not! We and the universe together create these elaborate systems, and they gain a kind of reality, one that can have considerable impact upon our lives. These systems have no reality apart from the mind, and yet at the same time are ”real.” They are also not arbitrary. This is not an ”anything goes” situation. Every system of this kind has to have support and resonance both within the human mind and within nature. There can be many such systems, and many variations within each, but it is not true that any arbitrary creation will work.
What makes such a system work? I believe that the evidence shows that the most effective systems grow very slowly over time. And they have strong roots within a culture. Any system that is too divorced from the basic beliefs of a culture will not work for that culture. We do not just look at nature and let it impress us with its truths. We are active co-creators with nature, and we create languages in cooperation with nature that then become powerful forces in our lives and civilizations. Therefore, astrology and its kindred studies are not only related to magic, they are the result of the most powerful kind of magic that can be produced, the magic of an entire culture. This is much more powerful than any magic an individual can perform.
Next week I will start a new series of articles on astrology and its traditions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Hand, author of Planets in Transit and other works, is now involved in the translation and publication of texts regarding ancient and medieval astrology through ARHAT Media Inc.