Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Astrology's Quirks and Stretch Marks

Gary Phillipson's book Astrology in the Year Zero (published 2000) has been mentioned a couple of times before in archived posts. It's a book of interviews with astrologers and researchers into astrology. I often pull it from the shelf, open it randomly, there's always something there to tickle the ol' grey matter .

In a section considering "how far astrology can go" - for example, how far in being able to identify a murderer? Mike Harding responded with something I see as very important as a general astrological rule of thumb, and something easily overlooked on occasion:
"...the chart is not the chart of a person, it's the chart for a moment in time....the chart is about 'the nature of time', whatever that turns out to mean." (page 113)
That remark is kind of, sort of, related to something I commented a few posts back, that Aquarius (or any zodiac sign) is a zodiac sign, not a person. Keywords for each sign relate to the reputed "atmosphere" of that particular segment of the ecliptic.

Obliquely related to those thoughts, a few pages further on in the book, there's a conversation about astrologers coming up with what seemed to be a good, reasonably accurate reading for a client, then finding out they had interpreted the wrong chart.

Geoffrey Cornelius said
"[Astrologers] get correct readings from wrong maps on sufficient occasions for it to be, clearly, an astrological phenomenon. One has to be very sparing with that, because it is so ruthlessly undermining of the status of astrology...... "
As embarrassing as it must be for a professional astrologer to find herself/himself in that situation I, as a pain-in-the-ass amateur dabbler in the art, could argue that producing a "correct" reading for a person, while using a wrong chart, needn't be seen as such a calamity.

While astrology could never be considered a "one-size-fits- all" kind of thing in relation to the natal chart, there is certainly a fair amount of stretch, mix-and-match, and variability going on. A metaphor - maybe a poor one, but the one that sprang to mind first: ten people arrive all dressed slightly differently. They are issued robes to wear after removing all clothing. Shortly thereafter they are called back, blindfolded and asked to choose from the various piles of categorised clothing (underwear, skirts, trousers, tops, coats, socks, shoes). Wouldn't it be likely that the folks would pick some, maybe even all, pieces that were not their own, but which still afforded a reasonable fit? I think so - but not in every case. A heavily built person or a petite one would be more likely to find themselves in difficulty - as would the average sized person who inadvertently picked up pieces belonging to the non-average sized. The non-average sized among the group would be aware beforehand of the very obvious pitfall for them, for they had always "stood out from the crowd", and only certain pieces provided a good fit.

Each person's natal chart is unique, but in spite of that, there are going to be similarities, often many of 'em between charts of any random group of people. I suspect there are are, indeed, possibilities of being able to cull a seemingly right reading from a wrong chart in certain cases, especially in cases where there is no obvious distinctive chart feature.

Looping back to the first quote in this post: "how far can astrology go?" It can go quite a long way, seems capable of a certain amount of flex and stretch. Rather than being an embarrassment if a decent reading has come from the wrong chart, wouldn't it be better to consider it just another crazy thing that astrology's flexibility is capable of throwing up? Nobody, even the most erudite of astrologers, knows for sure what astrology is all about. Astrological lore isn't carved in stone. Texts ancient and modern tend to indicate differently, but in truth, nobody knows - nor as far as we can tell has ever known the answers to the what, the why or the how of astrology. In matters astrological we feel around in the dark - just like those blindfolded individuals in a previous paragraph.


mike said...

Individuals that confess to crimes they didn't commit confounded me until I saw on a documentary how the police interrogation process lends itself toward the acceptance of guilt of the non-guilty. Here's a link to a recent study:

If an innocent person can be assuaged to assume guilt toward a major crime, I find it very easy to accept that an individual receiving a "wrong" astrology reading can relate to the appropriateness of the wrong astrological interpretation. Similarly, ask ten close associates how they perceive each other and themselves and there will be ten different responses for each individual with divergent characteristics amongst the similarities.

If the error of birth information is only a matter of hours or even days, the houses will be affected, as will the Moon's sign and degree. But, the other planets and aspects will only be off by a small margin. It would require a major time difference to truly present a major interpretation offense. Planetary aspects, except the Moon, would essentially be identical for differences of up to several days' error. This error would still serve for future transit interpretations and the client would not be mislead.

I've stated in previous posts that I think some of the more gifted astrologers utilize not only the astrological basics, but a fair portion of intuition and even psychic sense with client interpretations. Many psychics state that they utilize tools to envision characteristics and predictions for their subjects or clients, and I see the natal chart as such a tool.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for the link. Re your 2nd para - I think your point, if different from mine - is an alternative, still valid. I was saying that an interpretation itself, from a natal chart not belonging to the client could be appropriate because of the "stretchability" and variability of ways to interpret - all acceptable in astrological practice. I've often complained here that it's possible to make astrology mean what you want it to mean - simply due to the variables in accepted ways of interpreting.

Going further with that - we don't truly know whether we're using proper methods or not, because we don't know what astrology really is. Sometimes we feel too confident on that score - IMO.

I agree with your observations regarding instances where just a slightly different chart was used, I think most astrologers wouldn't worry too much about that. But if there were major differences- way major - they'd feel embarrassed. Yet I don't think it unreasonable that a decent reading could have been made. If we have to cast blame - I'd cast it on astrological lore and treating it as sacrosanct, not on the astrologer using it.

Agree about some astrologers using an intuitive/psychic ability, and using the chart as inspirational tool, but in that case wouldn't a truly intuitive astrologer "smell a rat" if wrong chart were on the table?

LB said...

Twilight ~ I don't like the idea of using astrology to identify either murderers or saints, though it can be useful in helping to understand them.

For instance, my Mars-Pluto in hard aspect has the potential to be expressed in a lot of different ways. The choice is mine whether to use it to heal or harm. For as long as I'm able, it's up to me to consciously and mindfully manage and direct (or redirect) this powerful energy in response to any injustice or harm I've experienced or witnessed during my lifetime(s).

As part of the metaphorical circle which connects us all, I choose to believe each of us has the potential to play a unique and valuable supporting role, however it's up to us to do the hard work to acknowledge our challenges and remember our greater gifts and connections. Until then, to some extent we're all just unconsciously reacting to our and everyone else's lower *natures*. This being human is not such an easy thing sometimes!

What we do with our gifts and challenges is (again, at least to some extent), up to us . . . which is why astrology is often more useful when used either intuitively as a complementary tool of self-discovery or retrospectively to help us gain insight into past behaviors and events.

Whenever someone asks me to look at their chart, I have to keep in mind how little or how well I know the person and where they're at. Also, as mike pointed out, my intuitive gifts often come into play ~ human beings are so very fragile and have such complex histories.:) A lot of times, I find I pick up much more *without* seeing someone's chart first. Or ever.

In trying to interpret my own chart, I've had some terribly misguided (limited) readings with professional astrologers and a few very insightful ones that barely touched on what was most important to me. I don't blame the astrologers ~ in a roundabout way those earlier experiences taught me a lot about myself and why they didn't work. I've had similarly disappointing experiences with professionals who charge set fees for psychic or intuitive guidance.

Having said that, there are some very talented and insightful professional astrologers whose generous sharing (on the internet, on blogs, etc.) I'm very grateful for.:)

LB said...

Twilight ~ On a separate issue, my husband and I have been enjoying the most recent BBC adaptation of "Bleak House". I tried to find your review but couldn't. Assuming there is one, would you copy the link for me? I'm curious what you thought.

I also appreciated your post on Charles Dickens.:) Much as I love his stories and their messages, he was certainly an interesting and contradictory character!

Twilight said...

LB ~ 2nd comment first: We haven't seen "Bleak House", the recent BBC version - unless my memory fails me. It's not one of Dickens' novels I know anything about - so no post, so far. :-) Dickens was a bit of an oddity for sure - but a talented writer and observer of human nature - I admire him for that.

First post:
Thanks for your observations. I too agree that knowing the person whose natal chart one is studying makes a world of difference. This, too, points to how flexible and stretchy astrological interpretation is capable of being. I've argued elsewhere in the past that "if something isn't there in a chart, you can't put it there" - but actually, if you use enough different tools and methods maybe you could. It's a help and hindrance both. Yet, because we don't know how or why astrology is capable of working, we don't know which tools and methods are valid and which are not - or whether we are even on the right track at all - other than, perhaps, accidentally.

I've never had a "sit-down" interpretation with an astrologer, or a telephone consultation. Written ones have fit, with a little tweaking, but provided only a skeleton outline, and needed my own (eventual) bits of astro know-how to connect the dots.

As you've said, astrology is best viewed with hindsight to discover how past events have coincided with planetary movement and links with natal chart. I enjoy trying to read natal charts of artists and others, but am able to start from at least some knowledge of what I'm looking for, culled via research into the chart owner. A much easier thing to do than read a chart cold for an unknown person!

Yes, there are some insightful astrologers around, some of whom are good engaging writers too. that's a winning combination.

LB said...

Thanks, Twilight. I wasn't sure if you'd seen "Bleak House" but thought you might have.

It you like Dickens, then I think you'd enjoy the 2005 mini series. It's kind of dark but also very captivating, same as the book, I'd suppose, only easier to (visually) follow the large cast of characters.

Twilight said...

LB ~ I shall add it to my list of "to watch" items Thanks! ;-)

LB said...

You're welcome, Twilight. I'll look forward to reading your review and IF you liked it ~ I hope you do!