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(XII) HISTORY - 21ST CENTURY ASTROLOGY

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« Reply #60 on: September 26, 2007, 07:30:49 pm »








                                                  The Anti-Fatalistic Polemic





"It should not be held that everything happens to men by reason of a celestial cause (...) Things here below change by reason of a natural and mutable destiny, even though they take from the heavens the first causes of that change, which happens to them subsequently through some consequent circumstance." (Ptolemy)
 

      Rare are those bodies of knowledge, such as astrology, which must continually confront their detractors. As a result, it is often the case that a "defense" (or apologia) is appended to treatises on the subject, especially since the Renaissance. In the context of modern society, astrology is held in scant esteem; its principles are denied any validity; its practices are ridiculed. It is called to account to justify itself vis-à-vis a variety of institutionalized presuppositions, customs, beliefs and skepticisms.

There exists no universal manifesto against psychoanalysis, Voodoo, historical materialism or the immaterialism of Berkeley. No religious sect, doctrine or practice is so regularly vilified by the pontifications of the intelligentsia, nor is its voice left so willfully unheard by the skeptical deafness of those who claim to be the possessors of knowledge.

Might it be sensed that astrology is the vehicle of a true alternative to unidimensional thought (Herbert Marcuse) and to the society of the Show (Guy Debord)? In this case, it is up to astrologers to recognize the task before them, which consists primarily of thinking astrology, even without the permission to research (François Furet), and not in reducing its terms to the standard set by the venality, cynicism and cowardice generated and maintained by our contemporary mentality.
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« Reply #61 on: September 26, 2007, 07:32:28 pm »








      The vulgarization and disfigurement of astrological discourse perpetrated by those who write horoscope columns for the popular press, sell psychic phone services and market canned astrological interpretations -- all of which are aided and abetted by the complaisance of the media and its editorial stance -- harm astrology even more than the ostracism it experiences in the scientific and academic communities. The agents of diffusion insure that only an Ersatz [imitation] of astrology appears on the scene of contemporary culture.

This policy falls fully into line with the forces which drive mass consumerism and reinforces the disapprobation and a priori condemnations of a great portion of the intellectual community. The shelves of large, mass-market book shops fill up with insipid texts to the detriment of works of real quality. This situation, unthinkable 20 years ago, fuels anti-astrological sentiment.

      Objections to astrology fall into four categories: anti-fatalistic or anti-deterministic arguments, physico-astronomical arguments, ideological arguments, and technical arguments. And the stupidity of astrophobia adds at least three more types to the list: sociological (which comments on the commercial practices of an astrological community that includes Tarot card readers, psychics and diviners of every type imaginable); historicist (which beats a dead horse it cannot possibly hope to revive [1] ); and scientistic (which denies the existence of any reality which its own methods cannot handle).
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« Reply #62 on: September 26, 2007, 07:34:13 pm »








Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994), an epistemologist of Austrian origin, remarks on the subject of the famous anti-astrological manifesto published in 1975 [2]  :

"The findings of the '186 eminent scientists' are based on an antidiluvian anthropology, on ignorance of the most recent findings of their own disciplines (astronomy, biology, and their branches), as well as on an inability to perceive the implications of the results with which they are familiar. This shows to what degree they are ready to impose their authority, even in fields where they have no particular competence." [3]  The scientistic ideology, inheritor of the astrophobic moralism of Christian theologians, legislates opinion in the name of certainty about its own standpoint and practices.

No surprise there, since its presuppositions have replaced the dogmas of the Church, its techniques have invaded our way of life at every turn, its discourse spreads out in the same centers of academic life formerly occupied by the theologians, and finally, since there is in today's world no spiritual horizon beyond the borders of science, just as in the Middle Ages there was no horizon outside Christianity.

      The first adversaries of astrology -- Greco-Romans, then Judeo-Christians, inheritors of the anti-fatalistic argumentation of the probabilist Carneades (214?-129 B.C.) -- ignored the most serious astrological works and instead contented themselves, following Cicero's example, with rear-guard literary polemics.

As has been remarked by the American Lynn Thorndike -- one of those rare historians with breadth of vision , and perhaps the first who has approached the history of astrology, magic and alchemy with competence and a certain sympathy: "Only the enemies of astrology remained ignorant of the Tetrabiblos, continuing to level arguments at this art which do not address the presentation Ptolemy made of it, or those points he specifically touched upon.

Thus, in about the year 200, Sextus Empiricus attacks astrology without mentioning the Tetrabiblos, and some Christian critics of astrology apparently did not read it." [4]
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« Reply #63 on: September 26, 2007, 07:36:13 pm »








However, Ptolemy's late treatise is the last flowering of a long period of maturation. After the outpouring of pre-Socratic philosophy and the movement toward systematization from which arose in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. the four principal schools of Greek philosophy -- the Academy of Plato, the Lyceum of Aristotle, the Grove of Epicurus and the Portal of Zeno -- Greek metaphysics entered a curious period of eclipse, which showed itself clearly in treatises on the history of philosophy. It was precisely during this period (250 B.C. -- 150 A.D.) that astrological philosophy, under the influence of the Stoics, flourished in Athens and Alexandria.

Historians of philosophy have paid rather scant attention to movements of thought based on astrology, magic, theurgy and pagan religious philosophy, which took up the baton of Greek metaphysics and immediately preceded the establishment of Christianity.

      The pragmatic academician Carneades of Cyrene engaged a polemic -- reknowned because it has been taken up again by every adversary of astrology from Carneades' disciple Clitomachus of Carthage (187?-110 B.C.) to the French Encyclopedists and historians of superstition in the 18th and 19th centuries -- against the fatalism of the Stoics and the astrological theories of Babylonian inspiration supported by Cleanthus and then Chrysippus.

Franz Boll noted that Carneades' arguments are taken up by Christian writers without any significant change [5]  and David Amand underlines the parrotry of the polemic: "It is always the same refrain served up with a desperate monotony; the same traditional arguments are brought to bear without cease. We should add that this polemic, which never moves on to fresh ground, has never been adapted seriously to perfecting astrological theories and techniques.

[6]  The analyses of Carneades and the Skeptic Sextus Empiricus [7]  formed part of a general critique of consciousness and of dogmatic philosophy; the situation has not changed one whit with regard to the hastily drawn and least satisfying representatives of received modern thought, especially those of moralizing astronomers and biologists, who are the unimaginative disciples of masters from bygone centuries, e.g. Jean Sylvain Bailly, Jean-Baptiste Delambre, or even Camille Flammarion." [8]
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« Reply #64 on: September 26, 2007, 07:37:53 pm »








Anti-fatalistic argumentation exhibits a doctrine that predetermines both content and meaning, overvalues the efficacy of astral "influences" and the capacity of the mind to evaluate the transformations they ostensibly bring about, and, above all, fails to recognize the power of other conditioning factors, classified by Ptolemy into three categories: heredity, factors stemming from the physical environment, and the socio-cultural milieu.[9] 

The anti-deterministic line of argument in essence contains the objections developed orally by Carneades when speaking to his disciples [10] : differing life paths of individuals born in the same moment, whose natal charts are consequently similar, death en masse as a result of war or natural disaster of individuals born at different times (the inverse of the previous argument), physical and psychological similarity between individuals born in the same physical and cultural climate [11] , and difference in the life path of a human being and an animal born at the same moment.[12] 

It is likely that anti-fatalistic arguments, the origin of which David Amand attributes to Carneades, were applied legitimately to the majority of astrological writings of that period, since those writings derived from Greco-Egyptian sources of the preceding two centuries, i.e. the beginnings of Hermetic literature in the 3rd century B.C., for example, the Salmeschoiniaka and the Liber Hermetis Trismetisti pointed out by Thorndike and published by Gundel.[13]

      There remains the famous argument of twins, elaborated by Cicero, [14]  developed in the arguments of Carneades and discussed at great length by St. Augustine.[15] 

The Pythagorean astrologer Publius Nigidius (99-45 B.C.) was nicknamed "Figulus" (The Potter) due to his refutation of that argument through comparing the celestial sphere to a container turning at great speed and justifying differences between twins by reason of the slight difference of their times of birth. Now, it is doubtful that the few minutes separating the birth time of two identical twins have any significance from an astrological point of view. Given that fact, it appears that the differences one observes with regard to character, behavior and especially handwriting can be interpreted by the way the two individuals share the tendencies evident in the birth chart.

So in fact, if twins form a kind of two-part identity, the argument returns, although not against astrology, but rather against the common conception of a thorough-going determination of the individual on the sole basis of heredity and the socio-familial milieu, which in the case of twins are often identical -- unless, of course, it is "free will" stirred up with a strong dose of chance which determines, for example, handwriting ...
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« Reply #65 on: September 26, 2007, 07:39:12 pm »








 The first evident Mesopotamian astrology strikes root in the cosmology of Sumerian civilization: it is neither fatalistic, nor causalistic, but bases itself rather on a correspondance between the "above" and the "below", i.e. the celestial and the terrestrial, or between Anu (etymologically The On High), the god of initial creation who lacks any other particular function, and Ea (etymologically Lord of the Below), the god of consciousness and the civilizer of the human race.

Their relation was watched over by Enlil (etymologically the Lord Air), the master of destiny, ruler of the space between heaven and earth. This ontological trilogy implies no divine action upon human beings, nor any causal relationship (as in Aristotelian thought), but rather a harmonization of which Enlil had charge, and which Ea, the protector of exorcists, had the ability to transform.

      In the earliest known "astrological" text, the series Enûma Anu Enlil, [16]  compiled before the 15th century B.C., an astronomical phenomenon is held to be a warning, a signal to interpret. The collection includes 70 tablets of predictions, [17]  each announcing itself in the form of a double proposition: the protasis (which indicates a condition and describes an astronomical event, situation or fact) and the apodosis (which indicates a consequence and suggests an interpretation).

As De Wynghene has noted: "Literally, the translation should include two principal propositions: This phenomenon has been observed : (therefore) such and such an event is taking or will take place." [18]
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« Reply #66 on: September 26, 2007, 07:40:31 pm »








This syntactical form occurs in the majority of divinatory and "scientific" treatises, including the "codes of law," that of Hammurabi notwithstanding, in which the protasis announces the crime and the apodosis the corresponding punishment. One reads in a Babylonian manual, "Celestial signs, like those which appear on earth, give us indications." [19] 

The interpretative statement is at first an observation, that of the experience accumulated by generations of experts and observers. Then it becomes a law and an imperative, to which the community and the sovereign himself must become subject. Above all, it is a possibility which reserves to the domain of experts a margin of latitude in its application and interpretation.

      The astrologer of that time, the tupshar Enûma Anu Enlil, was a sort of magistrate in the service of Enlil, charged with interpreting the divine mysteries. He did not believe in a strict astral influence. Moreover, Anu is a mysterious god, inscrutable, hardly accessible.

The astrologer-astronomer was in addition complemented by the ashipu, a conjurer-healer dependent on Ea, whose function was to engage procedures for exorcism designed to mitigate the ineluctable quality of destiny.

A millenium and a half before the Carneadean polemic, the first Akkadian astrology was already well on the way to putting into place the fatalistic character ascribed to astrological doctrines which followed later.
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« Reply #67 on: September 26, 2007, 07:41:48 pm »








Astrophobia in the Scientific Community

"As soon as one assumes the astrological point of view, astrology becomes impervious to attack. (...) It can be refuted by exterior criticism, one cannot destroy it by any immanent criticism. It is a unified metaphysics equally coherent as that of Aristotelianism." (Eric Weil, 1938)

      Arguments of a physico-astronomical nature have only been brought to bear on the anti-astrological polemic in fairly recent times. Their proofs have never been conclusive, either, although some mistaken scientists still believe and express that misapprehension. To claim that the astronomer, by reason of his expertise, is "well placed" to pass judgment on the relevance of astrological development, is completely wrong-headed. Moreover, astronomers involved in true research have better things to do than refute astrology.

As Feyerabend mentions, scientists "consider it self-evident that an astronomer and not an astrologer should be questioned about the validity of astrology's foundations." [20]  Even if astrology is supported by the data of astronomy, it requires other knowings, another approach to reality and a cognitive process foreign to the methodologies of the physical sciences.

In short, it rests upon a different logic.[21]  One should point out, as well, that some scientists take up arms against astrology not in their capacity as scientists, but rather as ideologues and pontificating representatives of the scientific establishment.

      Heliocentrism does not prevent the study of planetary incidences relative to topocentric or geocentric benchmarks. Contrary to what Bouché-Leclercq, Cumont and Wedel affirm preemptorily, [22]  the "Copernican Revolution" has contributed to the discrediting of astrology, from which most astronomers, physicists and physicians still abstained between 1550 and 1650.[23]  Bernard Capp has shown that precisely this period marks the highpoint of English astrology.[24] 

The scientific milieu of this first Copernican century remained very much attached to the principle of cosmic harmony and to its astrological consequences: one must wait more than a century after the publication in 1543 of Copernicus' De revolutionibus orbium coelestium for the idea of universe to become defined and the notion of cosmos to lose its denotative and connotative envelope.
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« Reply #68 on: September 26, 2007, 07:43:22 pm »








It was precisely the first astrologer-astronomers of the post-Copernican era who supported the new astronomy: as Thorndike has pointed out, Copernican theory was stated within an astrological milieu and it is a falsification of the history of the sciences to attempt to eradicate the traces of that fact, in which the minds of that era were steeped.[25] 

Two German astrologer-astronomers, born a half-century before Kepler, were the heralds and the most forceful defenders of Copernican theory. Georg Joachim von Lauchen (1514-1576), [26]  the Latin form of whose name was Rheticus, went in 1539 to Poland to work with Copernicus and published in 1540 in Danzig his Narratio prima, which simultaneously defends heliocentrism and astrology and motivated his elder colleague to publish his treatise.

Erasmus Reinhold (1511-1553) published in 1542 a preface to a treatise on astronomy which spoke favorably of astrology, then in 1551 he brought out the first Copernican ephemerides, the famous Tables pruténiques.

Despite the works of Thorndike, often cited but apparently little or badly read, one continues to find the statement that astrologers and/or astrology slowed the success of heliocentrism among the scientific community.[27]

      In the main, the English astrological community supported Copernicus. One thinks, for example, of Thomas Digges (1545?-1595) or of the celebrated John Dee (1527-1608): "During the first quarter of the 17th century, English astrologers were the same men, with some exceptions, as those who were engaged in the success of the revolution in astronomy." [28] 

Mary Bowden adds that in the 16th century the opponents of astrology were not astronomers, but rather Puritan ecclesiastics.[29]
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« Reply #69 on: September 26, 2007, 07:45:01 pm »








The argument centered around the precession of the equinoxes appeared as early as Origen. The astrologer Firmin de Belleval (14th century) recognized that fact. His statements were subsequently used against astrology by Nicolas Oresme in his Contra divinatores horoscopios (1370), by the theologian Jean Gerson, by Pico della Mirandola and by others, before becoming the icing on the cake of the sophist scientist.

The majority of astrologers after the establishment of the Zodiac at the vernal point by Hipparchus of Nicea (190-120 B.C.), and especially after Ptolemy three centuries later, refer to a tropical Zodiac, based upon the division into three tropical signs in each of the four quadrants delimited by the intersections of the ecliptic and the celestial equator.

Certain obscurantists, however, continue to invoke the influence of the constellations and the argument according to which the symbology of the sign is supposedly linked to the point in time at which the constellation was identified and named for the first time.

This argument ignores that the essential elements of semantic content in the signs was only developed later, in the hermetic circles of the Greco-Egyptian world in the first centuries before the Christian era, which is to say, at a time when the signs and the constellations coincided.

      Astrological signs today no longer have a direct relationship with sidereal constellations, which remain arbitrary groupings of stars the limits of which are uncertain. A huge cleft separates the constellation of Scorpio -- which has about 15 stars of size 1, 2 or 3 (bright luminosity, e.g. Antares, Shaula, Akrab and Deschubba) -- from the constellation of Cancer, which has not a single one. How can one bring into some meaningful relation the principal star of Taurus, Aldebaran, over 60 light-years distant from the Earth, and the Crab Nebula, part of the same constellation, which is over 6,000 light-years distant?

The boundaries of the zodiacal and extra-zodiacal constellations are matters of convention; they vary according to the time and the culture, do not form an homogenous entity, in contradistinction to the solar system, and in point of fact exist only by effect of perspective.
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« Reply #70 on: September 26, 2007, 07:45:58 pm »








Geminos of Rhodes (1st century B.C.), a disciple of the astro-philosopher Posidonios of Apamea and author of the oldest complete treatise on astronomy to have survived intact to the present day, pointed out at a time when signs and constellations were perhaps conflated, that the stars serve only as wayposts, as temporal markers, and not as agents of influence.[30]  This usage by the ancients of the stars and constellations as visual guideposts does not imply that they developed hermeneutic astrology on that basis. It is this mistaken notion that leads astray those astrologers called siderealists.

      The theory of the precession of eras applied to horary astrology postdates the Arabic theory of the "Grand Conjunctions." It was formulated explicitly at the time of the French Revolution by the historian of religions Charles-François Dupuis (1742-1809).[31]

      The ayanamsa, i.e. the angular difference between the beginning of the tropical Zodiac and that of the sidereal Zodiac, has been given a dozen different values by Hindu horary astrologers, and there is an infinity of ways to define the constellations, assuming that one can first agree on their number. In the West, the beginning of the Age of Aquarius [32]  differs according to the astrologer or interpreter of cycles: all the way from 1752 (Cheiro) to 2813 (Robert Hand), with plenty of dates inbetween, e.g. 1844 (David Williams), 1897 (Helena Blavatsky), 1962 (John Sturgess), 1962 (Christian-Heinrich Meier-Parm), 1997 or 2143 (Carl Jung), 2059 (Dane Rudhyar), 2137 (Daniel Ruzo), 2160 (Paul Le Cour), 2160 (Charles Carter), 2369 (Cyril Fagan), 2481 or 2647 (Sepharial) ...[33]
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« Reply #71 on: September 26, 2007, 07:47:27 pm »








 The "siderealist" schools increase quite uselessly the confusion within astrology and also represent those astrologers most vulnerable to the insidious argumentation of scientists, for whom they are an opportunity not to be passed up.

Also to be noted is the ineffectiveness of practitioners who simultaneously use the tropical Zodiac for the analysis of natal charts and the so-called "Age of Aquarius" for analysis of cultural or historical manifestations, as if it were not the same operands that act on both individual and collective phenomena.[34]

      Let us stay a moment longer with the topic of siderealist pseudo-astrology, not because its representatives occupy a significant place among astrologers, but rather because they are privileged correspondants -- and the easy target -- of scientific anti-astrology. Their principal argument concerns the supposedly historic precedent of a so-called sidereal Zodiac.

That argument usually calls to its support the beginning of the fifth tablet of the cosmogenic tale Enuma Elish [35]  created in the 2nd millenium B.C. and recorded in a Babylonian version dating back to approximately 1200 B.C. : "He [Marduk] gave term to the year, defined its limits, [and], for each of the twelve months, put in place three stars." [36]  This passage stipulates the association of only three stars with each of the twelve months of the year, nothing more.

Siderealists deduce from that basis that there existed at that point in time a Zodiac divided into decans et based on sidereal constellations! Now, in point of fact all one has to hand here is a marking by the calendar of the rising of stars in the 36 decans of 10 days duration (assimilated only much later into Greco-Egyptian astrology) in the course of the secular year.

Similar documents, the "diagonal calendars," have been found in Egyptian tombs of the Middle Kingdom. The oldest of them dates back to the beginning of the 21st century B.C.[37]  Neugebauer has shown that these constellations lie along a southern band roughly parallel to the ecliptic.[38]
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« Reply #72 on: September 26, 2007, 07:48:58 pm »








One finds similar lists of the 36 constellations assigned to the twelve months of the year in Assyrian tablets of the 12th and 11th centuries B.C., in the circular and tabular "astrolabes," [39]  and in the famous astronomical compilation entitled Mul Apin ("The Constellation of the Plow").[40] 

The constellations are situated on the horizon (at the point of observation for their rising and setting) and grouped into three zones (or "paths of the Sky") according to their declination: the zone of Anu (the belt going approximately 15° on either side of the Equator), the zone of Enlil (northerly declinations beyond 15°) and the zone of Ea (southerly declinations beyond 15°).

      These constellations, imperfectly distributed here according to position vis-à-vis the Equator, are stellar markers.[41]  The question of a Zodiac, be it tropical or "sidereal", such as one finds in astrological symbolism in its different phases, is not germane here, because at that particular juncture no Zodiac existed, only an annual system for marking constellations in relation to the Equator. The constellations also had not yet acquired their symbolic connotations: their designations are simply formulaic: the King, the Horse, the Snake, the Mad Dog, the Scorpion ...

      A later list (mentioned in the treatise Mul Apin) which contains 17 constellations crossed by the Moon (certain of which lie beyond the belt of the ecliptic, due to the inclination of the lunar orbit), testifies to a pre-zodiacal state. We know of another list made still later, neo-Assyrian in origin [42] , which mentions only 14 constellations.

The zodiacal division into twelve equal signs, not yet even outfitted with its symbology, is attested only as late as the beginning of the 5th century B.C. and is the invention of Babylonian astronomers.[43]  It derives from a selection of the repertoire of constellations from antiquity and begins -- is situated -- with a fixed star, located at 10° Aries in what has been called System A, or at 8° of the same sign in System B. This difference, due to the precession of the equinoxes of which the Babylonians were likely unaware, is the result of a readjustment of observations.

Neugebauer has shown that the supposed discovery of the precession by the Chaldean Kidinnu in 315 B.C. or in 379 B.C. [44]  was based on an error of reading.[45]
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« Reply #73 on: September 26, 2007, 07:50:27 pm »








The theories of Cyril Fagan, an astrologer of Irish origin and the instigator and inspiration for Western sidereal astrology, are in part based on this error by Schnabel.[46]  In his practice, Fagan refrains from using the zodiacal meanings of the signs. Prudently, he refers only to planetary aspects and angles. It is in essence an aberration to make a Virgo from a Libra or an Aries from a Pisces, because the current interpretation of the Zodiac (i.e., those meanings laden with astrological history), has been developed within the framework of "tropical astrology."

The historical precedent of a sidereal Zodiac is a far-fetched hypothesis, as is the existence of a Hindu sidereal Zodiac which supposedly preceded by a full millenium the emergence of the Babylonian Zodiac! The first Sanskrit texts that attest to the existence of Hindu astrology date from the first centuries A.D. and are of Greek inspiration.[47]

      Moreover, the existence of a sidereal Zodiac presupposes that the celestial bodies emit a certain influx, in the form of a ray or radiation, an idea seized upon by scientists who then bring forward the distance of the planets and the stars, which is incompatible with supposed "action at a distance," [48]  or even more so the impossibility that inert matter should influence living matter.

These arguments, which proceed from prejudices concerning the existence of an astral "influx," fail to take into account the possibility of integration by the nervous system of cyclical phenomena, studied by experimental psychology, most notably by Russian reflexologists.[49] 

It is as a result of that ignorance that some obscurantists believe they argue against astrology by using the double sophism: if influence depends on distance and gravity, then any number of terrestrial objects would have more importance than planets of the solar system; and if, on the other hand, influence does not depend on either distance or gravity, then one would have to keep equally in mind all the billions of stars in the universe.[50]
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« Reply #74 on: September 26, 2007, 07:51:40 pm »








  There remains the materialist argument according to which the zodiacal Signs, the Houses and the planetary Aspects are supposedly "imaginary" elements because they do not appear as physically measurable tangibles. Pico della Mirandola points out that no justification exists for the technical divisions of astrology: the zodiacal Signs, for example, are in his opinion simple arithmetic divisions.

From that understanding comes his rejection of the importance given by astrologers to position -- a simple geometrical concept without any correspondant physical reality -- which a planet occupies at a given moment (in a particular sign, house, etc.) [51]  This approach once again overvalues energetics to the detriment of structural, spatial and temporal differentiations within the astral matrix.

      If light were considered the only tangible quality capable of justifying the efficacy of astrological operators, as Pico della Mirandola affirms, and after him Kepler as well, [52]  that would imply that the planets are the only influential operands: for what is a Sign, a House, or an Aspect, if not a variation of luminosity, a structural, spatial or temporal modality of planetary energies? This is the point which minimalist astrologers are not in a position to comprehend.

      Astrological awareness translates itself through an acceptance of the reality of qualities that are psychic, perceived emotionally through feeling, differentiated and structured through the integration of the organism in its geo-solar environment, and which are recognized as the instrument of understanding for psychological, cultural, individual and collective phenomena.

It matters little that this acceptance be admitted a priori, or that it be formed through experience of reality, that it be reinforced by experience and by the practice of interpreting natal charts, that it be underpinned by a "causal explanation", or that it emerge from a theoretical justification, provided that it furnishes a specific means for the comprehension of reality, which possesses its own pluralist logic.
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