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Signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars

Reader comment on item: Is Radical Islam in Decline?
in response to reader comment: re Astrology

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Sep 20, 2016 at 12:02

Hello again, Moh.

While I await your reply to my (possibly too) many recent posts to you, let me further address something you said:

"So - there are deeper and deeper levels of 'reality' - and consciousness itself is affected by if not derived from the quantum world. So nothing can be ruled out - but superstitious beliefs are not helpful."

You will have to explain to me, exactly how consciousness is affected by, if not derived from, the quantum world. That, in itself, may take several posts from you. For my part, let me delve into the connection of astrology with superstition.

I am not as well versed in ancient history, as I would like to be. It seems that Western Civilization stands on two pillars: a pillar of revelation from the God of gods, given to us by the Hebrews; and a pillar of reasoning out reality from the example of nature, given to us by the Athenian thinkers. Between the two, the Greeks are, by far, the junior pillar. Thales of Miletus, the first Greek philosoper, fluorished around 600 BC -- when the hundreds of years of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were going into captivity in Assyria and Babylon. Moses gave the Torah, some 800 years before that; and Abraham was hearing and obeying our God, yet 600 years more before that -- during the time that the patriarch Shem was still alive. Like Abraham, Miletus and other Greek thinkers derived their wisdom from the experiences of their cultural ancestors in Mesopotamia, a land which then hosted the Chaldeans and the hotbed of Astrology.

The GODS, which modern astrology uses as adjunct tools, are Greek variants of ancient Mesopotamian gods. As I have already explained, these gods were associated with constellations, which have all shifted 35° since the days of Thales and Ezekiel; and as you have noted, identifying constellations with rams, goats, or putatively emus and wallabies, is a purely subjective exercise: What astrology focusses on is not the constellations, nor the gods, but the human qualities and life experiences that they represent. One would have to be an expert on mythology, to try to make heads or tails of what the gods were all about; but understanding the rudiments of astrology requires no more mythology or superstition than understanding astronomy and physics (from which all modern science is derived).

The ancient Chaldeans and their colleagues were tasked with understanding life and the world around us, without the help of super hadron colliders and Hubble space telescopes. Nature was all around them; but nature seemed chaotic at close quarters. To get at the heart of reality, the ancients needed to find something in nature that was objective, unchanging and regular. Blessed with an arid climate and many clear days and nights, they looked to the heavens -- just as modern scientists do with their radio telescopes and space probes. This was an exercise of the deepest reasoning, not of superstition.

Astrology might be distilled into the study of the apparent movement of the planets through twelfths of the sky, from the point of view of the person or place for which the "star chart" is drawn. Those twelve sections of the sky, above and below (through the globe) of the observer, are called "houses", which usually contain more or less than 30°, depending on longitude, lattitude and time. Those houses have "natural" partnerships with the signs of the zodiac: the first house with Aires, the second with Taurus, etc. Those signs, in turn, are associated with planets. In the ancient times, when only seven planets were known, the sun was paired with Leo and the moon with Cancer. Signs opposite them (Capricorn and Aquarius, respectively) were the outermost known planet, Saturn. When Uranus was discovered, in 1781, it was associated as "co-ruler" of Aquarius. Mercury was associated as the "ruler" of Gemini and Virgo, which flanked the Moon and Sun, respectively. Their opposites, Saggitarius and Pisces, were associated with Jupiter. When Neptune was discovered, in 1846, it was designated as the co-ruler of Pisces. Taurus and Libra, then, were associated with Venus (the next planet out from Mercury); and their opposites, Scorpio and Aires, were associated with the next planet in from Jupiter, namely, Mars. Pluto later became co-ruler of Scorpio.

As for how the planets interact with the horoscope, think of a bar magnet, or armature, spinning inside a circular field: When the pole of the bar is opposite that of the armature, there is an attraction; and when the poles are alike, there is a repulsion. Likewise, placing attractive or repulsive forces at thirds of the field gives a "flywheel" sort of impetus to the armature. Thus we have "aspects" of the planets to one another: conjunction, opposition, trine and square: each having a particular affect, similar to the attraction or repulsion of an armature. In personal star charts, a planet in opposition to a natal or transient planet has something of a "tug of war" effect; conjunction between two planets suggests intense activity; trines are considered favorable to free-flowing motion (usually described as "good" aspects), and squares are related to struggle, effort and construction.

That's the gist of it, the best that I can understand. The bottom of the zodiac, from Aires through Virgo, represents a person's life dealing with immediate surroundings; and the upper half deals with society and the wider world. Aries types, therefore, are the epitome of "Just do it!"; but their opposites, the Libras, try to make peace between others "just doing" their own things. Cancer, likewise, is preoccupied with ordering her home, while her opposite, Capricorn, busies himself ordering the world of politics or business. Leo effusively expresses himself; but Aquarius seeks to express himself through others, by re-ordering society. Taurus finds stability in nature; but Scorpio seeks, it seems, to want to stabilize society: Scorpios tend to become priests or policemen, or, in a frustrated sense, addicts. Gemini is the friend, Saggitarius the sage and world traveller; Virgo is a servant, subordinating her life for another; but Pisces is the altruist, trying to serve all.

That's the drift of it. You can see that the attributes given to the planets, houses and signs do not really derive from mythology and superstition; they come from a reasoned connection between the planets, the seasons and human behavior. The underlying assumption in this all, is that human nature is mathematically connected to the cosmos -- a very "Greek" notion, but not an idea that is alien to revealed religion:

Genesis 1:
[14] And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for SIGNS, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

Matthew 16:
[3] And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

Luke 21:
[11] And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven...
[25] And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring...

Enough. Life beckons. Shalom shalom :-)

Submitting....

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