Dane Rudhyar

The Importance of Being Astro-logical

William Blake 'Newton'
‘Newton’ by William Blake, source: Astrological Association

 

The oldest game in the world is to dismiss the power of astrology as fake, or stupid, or even diabolical. This may be exactly because that those with the knowledge wanted to exclude everyone else. They knew that it empowers, and gives that individual a handle on their fate. But it only achieves this when studied seriously. If you assume people ‘are’ their sun sign, it most likely will still appear fluffy; and you may miss the hidden riches the zodiac contains. It can  lead to endlessly unfolding knowledge of the self.  Yet the media hardly ever seems to tire of attempting to debunk astrology. Layers of disinformation have accumulated, making it hard to unpick truth from fiction. But, it keeps on resurfacing into public awareness, and we are now experiencing yet another renaissance of astro-wisdom especially among millennials.

 

Venus CycletheVenusCycle-Patheos.com

Figure 3   Venus’s Orbital Path from Patheos.com

 

Although I have been fascinated by astrology for decades, there was a tipping point in 2014, when I caught a glimpse behind the veil.  I tracked the Venus Retrograde cycle in my life. Venus was in Capricorn in my natal chart, but performed its rose-shaped loop with its retrograde cycles, from 2006 to 2014. Relationships begun under a Venus retrograde are alleged to run into problems – and this is exactly what happened. I underwent a profound reevaluation of values, money and self-worth – all Venus in Capricorn issues. It was personal, but the same would have applied to business relationships. At first, I thought it was coincidental that Venus shifted backwards on the date of a civil partnership, and repeated that cycle in 2014, running over the exact same points upon the exact date of the divorce. What was astonishing was that the precision somehow felt like a personal message, punctuating the end of an era. I could not shrug this off as a generally applicable theme as sun-sign horoscopes do. I began to know a universe that joined the universal and personal in a way I had not fully experienced before, underscoring what Dane Rudhyar said that ‘if you understand the language, the sky speaks to you”.

Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci astrology
Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ (1590) decoded.

This deeper significance of astrology is still largely misunderstood. Many people may still be unaware of how astrology underpins some key symbols in religion. Think of the nativity of Jesus:  what schoolchild is ever told that the story they are re-enacting is astrological in origin: the three kings, the star, the bull, the sheep and the virgin? These are deeply embedded astrological symbols which express a narrative well known to previous eras: Mithras the sun god ‘bringer of light’, and Osiris, the sun’s progress across the ecliptic, and the precession of equinoxes from Taurus, to Aries, to Pisces. Astro-theo-logical to be exact, but with the astro-layer operating under the radar.  Early Christianity emerged out of its many Gnostic varieties, but the 20th century version retains the remnants the papal authorities attempted to cover up. The indicators are all there: the 4 Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John representing the elements, and the four cardinal signs, e.g. Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. The 12 apostles represent the 12 zodiac signs from left to right, houses are grouped as 3 x 4 in Da Vinci’s painting ‘The Last Supper’ (1490) where Jesus represents the sun. The crucifix itself may represent the crossing of the sun across the ecliptic at the spring equinox. The timing of his birth and death (and resurrection so indicating a cycle) falling near the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Zodiacs have been found in the Vatican, and even in the Oval office in Washington. That these zodiacs are buried and forgotten parallels the way the collective unconscious operates: it pulls your strings from behind the scenes. So it would be wise pay attention, but also to be suspicious of the so-called sceptic who vilifies that which they may use in secret.  Astrology in this sense underpins common everyday knowledge – a point often forgotten: take the days of the week which are reminders of different planets. Our lives are constructed around time cycles of light and dark, day and night, summer and winter, the equinoxes and solstices. Yet, science and religions work hard to bury this link so it becomes less noticeable.

 

 

What Astrology is and is not

The word ‘astrology’ is made up of the words ‘logy,’ which means study, and ‘astro’ – which means the stars- so ‘the study of the stars,’ but that gives no indication that the stars are us. Then there is the word ‘zodiac’ which brings ‘zoology’ i.e. animals, into the mix. There’s no escaping that the world is also based on numbers and the significance of 12 and its subdivision of 3 x 4 is crucial and pervasive. The twelve signs are mostly represented by this crazy zoo: the ram, the bull, the crab, the lion, the scorpion, the goat, the fishes, yet a few oddities remain, the hybrid centaur, half-man, half-horse, and the air signs, the scales the waves of water – or is that electricity? These zoological symbols alone should indicate that this is not about rocks in space, but the inner evolution of humankind from their primeval roots. So is it a science or an art, a strange hybrid of both or something else altogether?

 

As within, so without; as above so below’ are the famed watchwords of the Hermetic tradition. Most experienced astrologers hesitate to attempt to explain what astrology is according to a scientific paradigm precisely because may be beyond explanation – in words, that is. It speaks in symbols that provide ‘objective correlatives’ a phrase known to every poet as coined by T.S. Eliot, but good enough to explain astrology too.  One way to explain it is ‘acausally’ through the Jungian concept of synchronicity; and the other more default way is that planets, i.e. celestial bodies influence, earthly events. Neither of these seem fully satisfactory: synchronicity can seem woolly, and the causal explanation can seem reductive, and both are easily mocked. It is all the above and all the below – which is why astrology still fascinates people. It is a living, breathing system of connection and signification that requires new ways of thinking in order to grasp.

 

Jyotish Darshan.in
http://jyotishdarshan.in/

However, it is important to distinguish what astrology is not. It is not clairvoyance; it does not make you psychic. And it is not the same as Palmistry, though Frank Clifford argues that the lines on the hand offer a similar kind of Sat Nav map or life direction to the natal chart.  Michael Tsarion emphasizes that astrology is one of four related studies, coordinating it to Numerology, the Tarot and the Qabballah – each study inseparable from the other. Astrology is an artful science that uses intuition, which most of science disregards – so not a ‘hard’ science like chemistry or physics, but a ‘soft’ science like sociology and psychology. For Jung, astrology was the “summation of all psychological knowledge of antiquity” prior to the coining of the word ‘psychology.’ It combines three methods: calculation, intuition and interpretation according to Jyotish, the Indian method.  2,000 years ago, Egyptian astrologer, Ptolemy, was both an astronomer and astrologer, and this hard versus soft divide is only necessary to cater to modern perceptions of what is valued. Up until the European Renaissance, that division did not exist.

 

The Validity of Astrology

When statisticians Michel and Françoise Gauquelin attempted to prove astrology in the mid-20th century, they used the scientific empirical method and what they discovered even astonished them. They noted a correlation between the position of Mars in the charts of champion sports people and athletes, a correlation between the position of Saturn with the careers of well-known scientists. These positions fell on the angular areas of the charts studied. This was higher than the probabilities of chance would suggest, in effect ‘statistically significant’. Psychologist, Hans Eysenk, found Gauquelin’s findings compelling. But according to Nicolas Campion ‘Science only tells the half of it’ – there is still the problem of  interpretation. Geoffrey Cornelius regards it as a craft of ‘divination’ which, by definition, would elude statistics.

Geoffrey Cornelius
Geoffrey Cornelius, Astrologer

Many believe that life is fated, and Indian astrology, Jyotish, which means ‘science of the stars’ tends towards this view, but Western astrology is more personal and individual. For some, the causal explanation – Mars causes war; Venus enhances love etc., still holds true, but others opt for a synchronistic view that proposes that the outer universe is mostly a projection of the inner psyche. There is a mirroring. The debate has continued about whether we are primarily fated or have free will, but Rudhyar’s view is telling: this is false dichotomy and is “The central hang up of western civilization.” To frame fate and free will in these polarised terms oversimplifies the issue. It is a subtle blend of both, which is the point where astrology is most useful – it allows us to make tweaks and adjustments to what we thought was a foregone conclusion. Taking the overly fated view, we become paralysed to make choices, fearful of malefic forces ahead; but being overly free-willed and we may blithely ignore aspects of life we cannot change. Balance is desirable for the best results. Heraclitus said ‘character is fate’ -and the natal chart is the DNA of this potential. But a chart is like an indicator of your ‘vintage’ just like wine. The full flavour must be savoured. So a good motto might be ‘Change what you can, but accept what you must.’ Robert Assagioli, who founded Psychosynthesis, and was a friend of Rudhyar’s, also encouraged people to “collaborate with the inevitable,” or as Cornelius says “destiny is negotiable”.

 

Dr John Dee
Dr. John Dee, Magus, Philospher, Astrologer, and Secret Agent 007

There is as much disinformation about astrology as you would expect from an ancient practice considered the province of the elites. Recall that Queen Elisabeth I utilized a court astrologer, Dr John Dee (1527-1603), whose code name was 007.  In 1588, he advised the English fleet to do nothing and let the weather take its course when the Spanish Armada came to England’s south coast. The ships sank. He used astrology to discern that outcome, and this highlights how world events have parallels with celestial aspects and reading that symbolism is the way to intuit what may come.

Hitler also hired Karl Ernst Krafft to be his astrologer during WWII, an unenviable role. But the allied forces, knowing this, used propaganda and disinformation about sun sign columns in order to discredit astrology and cast doubt on the legitimacy of Hitler’s decisions. This suggests they were among the de-bunkers, but they still took it seriously behind closed doors. Their own resident astrologer was Louis de Wohl – and it might still be practised covertly by MI5 and MI6. So rulers might be advised to have a personal astrologer – as Ronald Reagan had in Joan Quigley. It was Quigley who examined the synastry (combined) charts of Reagan and Gorbachev and encouraged him to believe the US could thaw relations with Russia, thus leading to ‘glasnost’ or the opening of relations between the two previously opposed world powers.

 

What Does Joan Say by Joan Quigley
What Does Joan Say? by Joan Quigley

The puzzle of astrology is also that you can learn all you want about the planets, houses and aspects, yet still be completely baffled by the enigma of the person sitting in front of you. The map is still not the territory. To Dane Rudhyar, one of the most influential astrologers of the 20th century, astrology was a method of cultivating a particular type of understanding which combined both thinking and feeling, not limited to either, creating in the student, a unique faculty that helps to develop a holistic view of theirs’ and others’ lives. To him it was about ‘actualisation’ of all the ‘potentialities’ of the self which Jung called ‘striving towards wholeness’ or ‘individuation.’ So astrology aids your own personal un-foldment as it attributes value and meaning to events that might otherwise baffle.

 

Multiple Astrologies

There are many astrologies, for example, Vedic or Indian, or more correctly Joytish, ‘the Science of the Stars’. The main dichotomy appears to be between, Tropical (or Western) and Joytish or Sidereal, but there is confusion about whether Joytish uses a tropical system as well, and it is understood that the Sidereal system is closer to the actual positions of the stars – a point often used to brow beat today’s astrologers with claims of gross inaccuracy. But astrology was never meant to align exactly to constellations in the first place, and so a pseudo-battle between the two systems has arisen. Some astrologers combine bits of Jyotish with the Western system and vice versa. However, astrologer, Vic De Cara, suggests that based on ancient Vedic texts that Jyotish is really tropical based, so arguments will no doubt stir this pot for a long time to come.

 

www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/
Chinese Astrology

There is also Chinese astrology, which brings in another kind of zoological zodiac from the Rat to the Pig that loosely matches the 12-year Jupiter cycle, with added Feng Shui and geomantic orientations. Suzanne White’s The New Astrology offers pen portraits that blend Chinese with Western and these can pinpoint characteristics that restriction to one system cannot. There is also Horary and Electional astrology which attempts to find the meaning of a given moment or question in the moment and the most favourable time to embark on some task. This is based on the work of William Lilly. It is hard to escape the influence of Jung in modern forms of astrology under the umbrella ‘psychological’ as Liz Greene’s influence is prevalent. An ‘archetype’ can be read as a planet or an aspect formed between planets, since it is not the moon itself, nor the finger pointing to the moon, but the idea we have of the moon that operates in our lives.  Archetypal astrology is a profound study of history and culture spearheaded by Richard Tarnas who tracked all the links between celestial and earthly events across centuries in his book Cosmos and Psyche (2004). These cycles align closely with cultural, political and spiritual developments; more than just  ‘Mundane’ astrology.

In the past decade, there has been a resurgence of interest in Renaissance astrology which derives from the Helenistic (Greek) Ptolemaic system, with new books from Christopher Warnock, Chris Brennan and translator Ben Dykes. This rebirth of interest in the classical model of astrology chimes in with the general upgrading of the level of astrology to that of being considered as worthy of serious study; and the work of Nicolas Campion and Bernadette Brady is helping to establish astrology in academe where hopefully it has regained its status and will not be bullied out easily. The word ‘astronomy’ helps, as it is linked to cosmology in the aptly named the Sophia (wisdom) Centre – where there is an MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, at the University of Wales, Saint David.

Dear Poet borne by Centaur carrying a dead poet
‘Dead Poet borne by Centaur’ by Gustave Moreau (1890)

Another fascinating development for me is asteroid astrology. Since the discovery of Chiron in 1977, there is a whole new cast of characters to grapple with: Chiron, Pallas, Vesta, Lillith, Eris and Ceres, along with other centaur asteroids such as Pholus and Chariklo. These all point towards the rise in awareness of irksome ‘kinks’ in the psyche; use of alternative therapies, rage, eco-feminism, gender issues, addiction and all kinds of abuse. Asteroids teach us that there is still a lot more to learn from Greek mythology as astrologer Demetra George reveals that “deities are none other than intrinsic nature of the mind.” The deities match the planetary energies we know as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn but the asteroids take it one step further pinpointing an extra layer to what the standard natal chart already offers.

 

Another aspect of astrology not often mentioned is its application to health. Each sign relates to body parts and organs, starting with Aries and the head, to Pisces and the feet. There is an emotional underpinning to sicknesses. People tend to look for illness and death in their charts, and finding these weak areas could lead to enhanced health and well-being. It was Paracelsus who said “In order to be a healer you must first be an astrologer.” So this extends astrology into medicine blending body and mind as the boundary between inner and outer is once more blurred as it is in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

 

This multiplicity of methods is perhaps proof of a healthy MOT for astrology as we start the 21st century. Astrology is definitely not a single phenomenon, but multiple and complex relating to almost all fields of study. Each approach has its purpose and its adherents willing to argue that their perspective is better. It is certainly confusing to think different systems might contradict and even be in conflict, and astrologers have their livelihoods invested in their version. It is useful though not necessarily any easier to see them as just different methods and interpretations different maps of the same reality. They all work like languages describe the same world, just with a variety of different words. For example in Jyotish astrology there are no outer planets, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto, but in the Hindu cosmology, these archetypes already exist in the form of Vishnu (Uranus) Brahma (Neptune) and Shiva (Pluto). Choosing one method to stick with while acknowledging the validity of the others does less damage than to argue all the others are ‘wrong’.

What Wilde might have said

Astrology is here to stay because it is about who we are at the core of our beings, not the veneer that is socially or culturally acquired. It requires us to think both horizontally, vertically, laterally and about our positioning on Earth in relation to the planets, yet Earth itself is overlooked- that is our default point of perception.  This could be viewed one level physically, literally, but also metaphorically, and as Campbell says “dream is personal myth and myth is public dream.” And the gods within us are having a fine time playing out with their love affairs and squabbles in our lives. You can have a lot of fun discovering out how that works.

Oscar Wilde might have said about the importance of being astrological: “The great thing about astrology is that is both illuminating and opaque: but the part that is illuminating is also opaque; and the part that is opaque is also illuminating.”  There is no disputing astrology’s importance, but it does still require intense study. Full control of fate might be too much to expect, but anything that increases knowledge of who we really are allows us to steer a course in life like better drivers.

‘Know thy astrology” might have been carved instead of ‘Know Thyself’ at the gateway of the oracle of Delphi as it amounts to the same thing. Astrology helps explain events in a way that standard materialistic science fails to do as science’s basic proposition is that the universe obeys fixed laws but these are random and meaningless.  However, we do not operate like a set of ball bearings in a laboratory- there is poetry and  metaphor and profound symbolism to grapple with. It can pay to be aware of being ‘Astro-Logical’ and do your planning according to the upcoming cycles. Astrology puts ‘meaning’ back into all these questions as why something happens the way it does.

 

 

© Kieron Devlin, 

first written, August, 2017 for the Astrological Association Student competition- revised and updated  for this blog, September, 2018.

 

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Suggested Further Audio/Visual & Reading

Brennan, C.   (2017)  ‘Dane Rudhyar and the Birth of Modern Astrology’, podcast. (online) http://theastrologypodcast.com/2017/06/26/dane-rudhyar-birth-modern-astrology/ ( accessed

Clifford, F. (2012) Getting to the Heart of Your Chart London: LSA/Flare Publications

Cornelius, G. (2003) The Moment in Astrology: Origins of Divination. Bournemouth: Wessex Astrologer.

Currey, R. (n.d.)   ‘Empirical Astrology. Why it is no longer acceptable to say astrology is rubbish on a scientific basis’ (Online) http://www.astrologer.com/tests/basisofastrology.htm ( Accessed 21/6/2017)

Ferrucci, P.  (1983) What We May Be: Techniques of Psychological and Spiritual Growth through Psychosynthesis  London: Jeremy Tarcher.

Gauquelin, M. (1983)  The Truth About Astrology London: Hutchinson.

George, D. (2016) ‘Why Mythology Matters’   http://www.demetra-george.com (online) https://www.demetra-george.com/resources/mythology  (accessed 18/7/2017)

Greene, L.  (1985) The Astrology of Fate. London: Unwin.

Greene, L. (1986) Relating New York: Samuel Weiser.

Quigley, J. (1990)  What Does Joan Say? My Seven Years as White House Astrologer to Nancy and Ronald Reagan.   Open Library: Birch Lane Press.

Tarnas, R.  (2006) Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View London: Penguin.

Tsarion, M. (2016) Cards on Houses: Constructing your Taroscopic Natal Charts and Years Kindle Edition: Unslaved Media.

White, S. (1988) The New Astrology: A Unique Synthesis of the World’s two Great Astrological Traditions; Chinese and Western London: New Basic Stock Line.

 

© Kieron Devlin, August, 2018\

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Thank you for reading, liking and sharing.
Kieron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Brennan, C.   (2017)  ‘Dane Rudhyar and the Birth of Modern Astrology’, podcast. (online) http://theastrologypodcast.com/2017/06/26/dane-rudhyar-birth-modern-astrology/ ( accessed

 

Clifford, F. (2012) Getting to the Heart of Your Chart London: LSA/Flare Publications

 

Currey, R. (n.d.)   ‘Empirical Astrology. Why it is no longer acceptable to say astrology is rubbish on a scientific basis’ (Online) http://www.astrologer.com/tests/basisofastrology.htm ( Accessed 21/6/2017)

 

Ferrucci, P.  (1983) What We May Be: Techniques of Psychological and Spiritual Growth through Psychosynthesis  London:Jeremy Tarcher.

 

George, D. (2016) ‘Why Mythology Matters’   http://www.demetra-george.com (online) https://www.demetra-george.com/resources/mythology  (accessed 18/7/2017)

 

Greene, L. (986) Relating New York: Samuel Weiser.

 

Tarnas, R.  (2006) Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View London: Penguin.

 

Tsarion, M. (2016) Cards on Houses: Constructing your Taroscopic Natal Charts and Years Kindle Edition: Unslaved Media.

 

White, S. (1988) The New Astrology: A Unique Synthesis of the World’s two Great Astrological Traditions; Chinese and Western London: New Basic Stock Line.

 

 

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