by Sanderson Beck
Astrology is probably older than civilization itself. Before human beings built towns and cities they obviously lived much closer to nature than we do today. Certainly they must have wondered about the daily cycles of the sun, the moon, and the stars. Would they not marvel that the great light of the day and the paler light of the night looked as though they were exactly the same size? They could easily observe the waxing and waning of the moon in its regular cycle, which mysteriously seemed to match the regular bleeding periods of the women. During the year they experienced the increase and decrease of daylight in the regular annual seasons which so affected their comfort and search for food.
As dusk turned to night and the "evening stars" appeared, these same non-twinkling lights were also the last to disappear before dawn. As they sat around at night and looked up at the heavens, they would have noticed that these steady lights would gradually change their position from day to day and month to month in relation to the twinkling stars. These wanderers in the heavens they called planets, which is what the word "planet" means.
When verbal language was developed, they would tell each other stories of things that happened or that they imagined; the best of these stories were passed down from one generation to another. Sitting around their campfires or laying on the ground before they went to sleep, they might see pictures in the sky connecting stars together in patterns called constellations. Eventually these pictures became associated with important stories that seemed to be meaningful for that portion of the heavens or expressed things that occurred when celestial bodies were in that part of the sky.
Leaving aside Lemuria and Atlantis which probably had their own astrology, but of which we know little, we can pick up the history of astrology at the very beginning of our current era of civilization more than 5,000 years ago with the Sumerians who used their temples and ziggurats as observatories to record celestial phenomena as expressing heavenly meaning. For centuries they attempted to correlate empirically these phenomena with human experiences.
Their astrological lore was passed directly to the Babylonians who clearly mention astrology in their writings from the first few centuries in the second millennium BC. The planet Venus was associated with their goddess of love, Ishtar. Not only are the twelve signs of the zodiac mentioned but also the 36 decanates. Thus it can be demonstrated that the 48 major constellations in the sky go back at least that far. The Chinese developed their own system of astrology based on their observations and use of symbols from their culture, as did the people in the Americas, particularly the Mayans who were rather advanced in mathematics and astronomy.
However, modern western astrology and even Hindu astrology is based on the old Babylonian system which was taken over by the Greeks and Romans who passed it on to Europeans. I was told by the clairvoyant John-Roger that I was one of many astrologers in the court of Solomon in ancient Israel 3,000 years ago, though Solomon is a Hebrewization of his Atlantean-Egyptian name which was Osiri-dis. He also told me that I did astrology in Israel during and after the life of Jesus and John the Baptist whom I followed.
The three magi in the gospels who were guided by a star to the birth of Jesus were astrologers, though European Christmas stories have changed them into kings. What they probably were following in 7 BC was the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the sign of Pisces. If they followed these planets each evening from the east in the late fall these two largest planets would appear overhead and then set in the west. The term "magi" indicating priests of Chaldea was synonymous with astrologer in the ancient world. More significant astrologically was that Pisces would be the sign of the new Messiah because of its characteristics as a spiritual savior, because the cosmic age (more on this later) was changing from Aries to Pisces, and because the nation of Israel and its kingship may have been associated with Pisces. According to history this threat was taken so seriously by King Herod that he had all the male children from that time period in Israel murdered.
Is astrology scientific?
Astrology has been described as the science of astronomy applied to human affairs. As already indicated, astrology was very likely the first science, certainly the first to be developed with detailed observations and mathematical calculations. However, in recent centuries its reputation with the scientists can be compared to what is called the oldest profession, prostitution.
Astrology is what is known as an occult science, meaning a science that is hidden or relies on hidden or invisible causes and effects. As I discussed above I believe that the origin of astrology is based on empirical evidence from observation. As an occult science astrology is holistic and based more on spiritual and psychological relations than on the physical mechanics, although it is anchored on the physical positions of the celestial bodies.
I consider astrology to be the science of time patterns. Modern science uses time as a major component in its observations and experiments. However, it only measures time in terms of its single dimension quantitatively. Astrology studies the qualities of time under the assumption that the quality of time varies according to day and night, the seasons of the year, and the more detailed refinements of these based on the exact positions of the sun, moon, and the planets in relation to the earth and the fixed stars.
This idea of a cosmic clock is based on the ancient world view that the universe is meaningful and that therefore we can learn about and understand the meaning of different moments in time and that the interpretations of these meanings can be verified by observation of human experience.
Then why do most modern scientists consider astrology to be a pseudo-science or superstition that is not to be taken seriously?
This is an important question, because in spite of the fact the majority of the people in the world actually believe in the validity of astrology, almost all of the academic community has ignored astrology as virtually useless and not worth studying. So unfortunately most of these scientists have closed their minds to astrology and refused to examine its data or theories.
This is primarily because of the limitations of the modern scientific paradigm that is physicalistic and mechanistic. Since the renaissance and the development of the scientific method, the hard sciences have turned away from the psychological and spiritual dimensions in order to analyze nature only in terms of physical and mechanical principles. Ironically Isaac Newton whose great theories advanced physics so much was himself a practicing astrologer. When asked why he still believed in astrology, Newton replied, "I have studied it, sir; you have not."
This mechanical paradigm has been challenged somewhat in the twentieth century by Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics which have shown that the universe is not as mechanical as was once believed. Yet even these theories only recognize reality in its physical dimensions, although at least Einstein showed that time and space are closely related with time being in a sense the fourth like a fourth dimension of space.
Astronomy demonstrates this when we consider the distances of the stars. Most of them are so far away that they are measured in how many years light, which moves rather rapidly at 386,000 miles per second, travels in a year. When astronomers see light coming from far away stars, they are actually seeing the light that left them billions of years ago. In other words, they are not only looking at something far away in space, they are seeing something far in the past.
In spite of the development of social sciences such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and so on, there still seems to be unbridgeable gap in modern science between the hard sciences of physics and chemistry and even the life sciences, let alone the social sciences. Most scientists have failed to acknowledge what philosophers like myself have attempted to integrate in explaining how the spiritual factors of individual freedom affect the predictability of cause and effect according to how much consciousness is available to the organism.
The idea that a holistic science could describe general patterns of time that shape human experience as their cosmic environment causes most modern scientists to throw up their hands in exasperation. Yet I argue that astrology time patterns do affect, though do not absolutely determine, our behavior in a comparable way that our genetic pattern and environmental upbringing also affect us without taking away our free will.
When all three of these are combined together as with identical twins born at nearly the same time, studies have found there can be remarkable parallels even though they each live individual lives and make their own personal choices. Studies of identical twins separated after birth have also shown close parallels in different environments. I contend that if studies were made of people born at the same time with completely different genes and upbringings that parallels would also be found. However, as this science is holistic and affects the complete psyche, most of these characteristics need to be observed with an open mind that considers all aspects of experience. Astrologers can be quite skilled at this process and can often "guess" the sun sign of an individual with a much greater probability of success than chance. Unfortunately so far there have been few systematic studies of these phenomena.
If the new development of cloning that has been done with a mammal now were to be applied to humans, I believe that the results will show that the similarity between two genetically identical individuals will demonstrate that their lives will be less parallel than identical twins precisely because they will have been born at very different times. In other words another way of looking at the science of astrology is to see it as the study of different generations as well as more subtle differences than that.
If astrology is so scientific, why hasn't it adjusted to the Copernican revolution and put the sun in the center instead of the earth?
The reason astrology is geocentric is because we live on the earth. Natal astrology based on the moment of birth considers the soul of that individual to be the center of its universe and thus looks at the surrounding universe from that point of view. After all, our sun is not the center of this physical universe either. Likewise in the study of transits or current movements of the planets we are still concerned about what is happening on earth.
What is the difference between tropical and sidereal astrology and which is better?
When our astrology was formalized in the Hellenistic era after Alexander conquered so much of the civilized world, there was no significant difference between tropical and sidereal astrology. The reason why they have diverged since then is because of a long cycle called the precession of the equinox. Equinox meaning equal night is the time of the year when the day is equal to night, marking the first day of spring and the first day of autumn.
Because of a very gradual cycle of change involving the orbit of the earth around the sun and where its tilt which gives us uneven seasons of light, the relative position of the sun and earth in relation to the stars on this equinoctial days moves backward at the rate of 25,868 years on average. This was apparently known to the Egyptians, as a number very close to this was inscribed in the pyramids. Plato also mentioned it. This means that about every 2,156 years the sun will appear to be in a different constellation on the day of the equinox.
Since the vernal or spring equinox is used as the usual beginning of the year, this means that whereas the sun was at the beginning of Aries when this system was established, in the last 22 or 23 centuries the equinoctial point has moved at least one sign back through the sign of Pisces to the last part of the sign Aquarius. What this means is that the twelve signs of the zodiac that have been used to divide the entire circle into twelve equal parts are no longer lined up with their actual constellations of stars, but they are about a sign off.
Sidereal astrology corrects this and calculates the sign positions according to the actual stars. The word "sidereal" relates to star. Tropical astrology, on the other hand, is based on the idea that the more significant relationship is that between the sun and earth which gives us the regular seasons of the year and thus continues to base the signs on these twelve equal divisions of the seasonal year.
Astronomers have discovered that the electromagnetic field around the earth is primarily influenced by the sun and in particular the energy patterns erupting out of the surface of the sun called the corona. They have also found that the patterns of these solar energies are influenced by the relative position of the various planets in this solar system. Thus tropical astrology believes that these relationships which include the relative position of the planets to the sun are more important than the distant stars which do not impact the earth except as symbols. Most astrologers, including myself, use tropical astrology.
So how does it work?
In my view the sun is most important, although it is not the only factor, because it is our main source of energy. The sun represents an archetypal pattern for the conscious awareness, the moon for the unconscious and feelings, and the various planets for different aspects of the psyche.
The energies of the sun, moon, and planets then come to us through the patterns of the signs of the zodiac which indicate the qualities that those energies will have. The sun, moon, and planets are also positioned in relation to the horizon of the earth in what are called the houses. The houses represent a more mundane level of symbolism indicating the kinds of activities that those energies will influence.
Why is the moment of birth so important?
Natal astrology is the most prominent, because it is believed that this moment sets the pattern for the lifetime. The moment of birth is used rather than the time of conception or some other time, because as I understand it, that is usually when the soul actually embodies itself in the organism. Prior to that the organism is inside the mother's body who is eating and breathing for it. Although a soul could enter the organism in the womb, there is usually not much point in it since there isn't much for it to do or learn there, and most souls are happier outside a body except when they agree (many reluctantly) to take on another body.
What are transits?
Transits are also important, because they are the position of the sun, moon, and planets at any given time; they are in fact our present cosmic clock.
To give you an idea of how the houses work, consider our normal daily cycle of activities. Because the houses line up with the signs, during each day the sun actually moves through the houses in their reverse order. The first two hours after sunrise the sun is in the twelfth house, which is a quiet time that is excellent for prayer and meditation as well as for bathing, preparation of food and breakfast, which is similar to its opposite sixth house, which is the dinner period. The two hours in the middle of the morning (eleventh house) are a time for meeting and working with associates or friends. The morning energy culminates at noon, and this strong energy of the tenth house is concerned with career, honor, fame, power politics, business, and so on.
The ninth house relates to higher education, travel, exploration, and outdoor activities which are prominent in the early afternoon. The eighth house in the middle of the afternoon is concerned with other people's money, sex, and values found in others. The last two hours of the seventh house reach their climax at sunset, which is the most romantic time of the day in the house of marriage and partnership. It is usually at this time of day that people meet again that special person in their lives.
Once the sun has set, it is time to clean up, prepare food, and take care of numerous things in the quick-moving sixth-house energy. Then in the middle of the evening is the time for children and the prime time of entertainment. The fourth house culminates at midnight with the strong urge to be home and with family by that time. Since most people are asleep, the first three houses are obviously less eventful; but have you ever stayed up past midnight and gotten into an incredible conversation in the third house? In the second house we are usually refreshing our energies, and if we get up before dawn we find that the energy just before sunrise can be very powerful in terms of one's own self.
What about free will? Is astrology deterministic?
I have discussed this somewhat already in explaining that the cosmic environment is just one part of our environment that shapes us without absolutely determining what we do. I definitely believe in the freedom of will and choices while here on earth.
The time patterns of astrology are essentially neutral energies that can be used well or ill. They are operate on many analogous levels. For example, a wealthy Taurus might have much stock. In an agricultural situation that would mean farm animals; in modern society it could be owning companies. A Scorpio ability for detecting and diagnosing and the courage to brave dangerous situations can express as a skilled surgeon, a detective, or a criminal.
But isn't astrology really just fortune telling?
This is the basest use of astrology and quite limited. Astrology might be able to indicate some areas that could be lucrative and others that are dangerous, but it is still up to the individual to make the best use of their circumstances and cosmic energies.
What are aspects? Aren't some good and some bad?
Aspects are the relationships between the sun, moon, and the planets. Conjunctions intensify; oppositions pull apart; sextiles and trines are considered harmonious and easy; while squares can be difficult. However, what is good and bad depends on our own values. Some aspects may make it easy to develop certain abilities, but some people might rest on their laurels. Difficult aspects may be challenging, but this can help us to become stronger and develop new abilities we did not have before.
What is the rising sign?
A person's rising sign, also called the ascendant, is the sign rising over the eastern horizon at the moment of birth; thus it is the cusp or beginning of the first house. The rising sign has been found to affect mostly one's outward appearance and personality. Thus a person may actually look more like their rising sign than their sun sign which tends to affect more our conscious awareness and mode of operating.
What are the elements?
The four elements from ancient wisdom are fire, earth, air, and water. Modern science understands these principles as energy, solid, gas, and liquid forms. Fire represents activity and warmth, air the mind, water feeling and intuition, and earth practicality and values.
What are the modes?
The three modes are cardinal, fixed, and mutable. These are similar to the Hindu trimurti of Brahman the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer and renewer. Cardinal signs representing the beginning of each season, are active and initiating; fixed signs in the middle of each season are strong and stable; and mutable signs which end each season are changing and flexible. The twelve combinations of the four elements and three modes make up the twelve signs.
What are the ruling planets?
Each sign has been found to be more attuned to a particular celestial body. Leo is the only sign ruled by the sun, and Cancer next to it is the only sign ruled by the moon. Then proceeding from both these signs we have the Mercury-ruled signs of Gemini and Virgo, the Venus-ruled signs of Taurus and Libra, the Mars-ruled signs of Aries and Scorpio, the Jupiter-ruled signs of Sagittarius and Pisces, and finally opposite Cancer and Leo, the Saturn-ruled signs of Capricorn and Aquarius.
In 1781 the planet Uranus relating to electricity was discovered with a telescope and has been assigned to inventive Aquarius. Neptune (analogous to chemicals and drugs) characteristically was discovered before it was even seen in 1846 and relates to mystical Pisces. Pluto discovered in 1930 is associated with Scorpio, death and nuclear energy.
What do detriment, exalted and fallen mean?
When the sun, moon, or a planet is in the sign opposite to one it rules, it is considered a difficult combination and is called detriment. The sun, moon, and each planet are also considered exalted in an additional sign that is harmonious, and fallen in the sign opposite to that. The sun is exalted in Aries and fallen in Libra. The moon is exalted in Taurus and fallen in Scorpio. Mercury is exalted in Aquarius and fallen in Leo. Venus is exalted in Pisces and fallen in Virgo. Mars is exalted in Capricorn and fallen in Cancer. Jupiter is exalted in Cancer and fallen in Capricorn. Saturn is exalted in Libra and fallen in Aries. Uranus is exalted in Scorpio and fallen in Taurus. Neptune is exalted in Leo and fallen in Aquarius. Pluto is so recently discovered that most astrologers have not decided where it is exalted and fallen, but in my opinion it is exalted in Virgo and fallen in Pisces. The north node is exalted in Gemini and fallen in Sagittarius. Thus by making Pluto exalted in Virgo, every sign has something exalted in it except Sagittarius, and some consider the south node exalted in Sagittarius.
Is that the only reason to decide Pluto is exalted in Virgo?
No, in my view Pluto (Hades) is cosmically exalted in Virgo for a number of reasons some of which are tied in with the mythology of Demeter and her Virgin daughter Persephone who was raped by Hades and taken into the underworld, myths which are the basis of the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece. Most of these correlations are based on deep intuitions involving numerous factors. I believe Pluto fits well with Virgo's scientific nature.
What is the north node?
The north node is the point on the chart where the moon crosses the ecliptic on its northern path. It is also called the dragon's head, because this determines where eclipses of the moon and sun will occur when they do. The opposite point is called the south node or dragon's tale. The ancients described these eclipses as a dragon swallowing up the eclipsed body. The dragon's head is thus where one is heading, and the tail where one is coming from and can release.
What is the part of fortune?
The part of fortune is another point on the chart, as opposed to an actual celestial body, which represents where the moon would be if the sun were on the ascendant. In other words it represents the phase of the moon with a new moon starting at the first house, first quarter at the lower heaven or fourth house cusp, the full moon at the descendant, and the last quarter at the midheaven or tenth house cusp. The part of fortune is considered a place of good fortune or happiness in the chart.
What does retrograde mean?
When a planet inside the orbit of the earth (Mercury or Venus) is passing the earth in its orbit, they will appear to be moving backward in relation to the stars in the distance, just as happens when one train is passing another. Or when the earth is passing one of the outer planets, that planet will appear to back up for a while. A planet in retrograde movement is usually interpreted as an inward turning.
What are progressions?
Progressions are based on the analogy between a day and a year in solar or major progressions and a year and a lunar cycle in lunar or minor progressions. Some astrologers look ahead in the ephemeris (charts of the planetary positions) as many days as years (or lunar cycles) the person has lived in order to get an idea how that person's life will be at that time in relation to the transits or current movements of the planets.
This may be somewhat useful, but it is based on another analogy and tends more toward the fortune-telling aspect of astrology which attempts to predict things. I have found that a better use of astrology is for self-knowledge.
How is astrology used for self-knowledge?
The primary astrological tool for learning more about oneself is the natal chart based on the moment of birth. A detailed analysis of this horoscope will enable a person to understand how he or she has different patterns of energy than other people, although these patterns are based on universal archetypes and are shared by many people. People can see how they share some patterns with other people they know and how they are different.
They can learn about potential abilities and opportunities and become aware of weakness and possible dangers. They can understand how to relate better to other people as well as to themselves. They can understand why some people behave the way they do and perhaps even gain strategies for relating to them more effectively.
Ultimately astrology can indicate the patterns of time a soul has elected to work with in this lifetime for its spiritual progression and evolution.
|TAURUS||Bull||fixed||earth||neck, ears||I have|
|MERCURY||88 days||Gemini, Virgo||Sagittarius, Pisces||Aquarius||Leo|
|VENUS||225 days||Taurus, Libra||Scorpio, Aries||Pisces||Virgo|
|MARS||687 days||Aries, Scorpio||Libra, Taurus||Capricorn||Cancer|
|JUPITER||12 years||Sagittarius, Pisces||Gemini, Virgo||Cancer||Capricorn|
|SATURN||29 years||Capricorn, Aquarius||Cancer, Leo||Libra||Aries|
|North Node||18 years||Gemini||Sagittarius|