Saturday, September 05, 2015

Astrology's Skeletons and Shadows

 Hat-tip for illustration HERE
What often begins as a passing interest in astrology, sparked by curiosity, could easily develop into an unhealthy obsession.

Can astrology become too much of an obsession - a hindrance to living one's life in fact? The question has crossed my mind from time to time over the years. I'm saved from the worst symptoms of astrologitis (as I'll call it) by my view that astrological doctrine is an imperfect tool which can throw up, at best, only shadows. Astrologers are using a tool which hasn't been honed to perfection yet, in spite of centuries of trying. Whether consulting a professional astrologer or interpreting a chart for oneself, I believe it's best to look on the results as shadows only, or skeletons - or even skeletons of shadows or shadows of skeletons. These can still be of interest, but require fleshing out and clarifying with hindsight and experience.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
Personally, I remain unconvinced by some parts of astrological lore. But I am totally convinced by the bare bones of astrology. Bare bones don't tell us what any picture will be "in the flesh". Experts are able reconstruct a face from a skeletal skull, and say they are fairly certain that it resembles the human being who inhabited the skeleton, but they can never be absolutely certain of detail. Likewise in astrology.

One way of avoiding the infection of astrologitis is to stand back from astrology's potentialities, perhaps limiting focus on self. Looking outward and backward, viewing people and situations, your own and theirs, with hindsight. Some parts of astrology can then be seen at work. It becomes clear that "something is going on". For me, that's where the real magic of astrology lies.

 Lines from Max Ehrmann's "Desiderata"
Astrologers sometimes say that if you know what's around the corner for you, you can prepare yourself for it, or look forward to it. Maybe some people do find this approach useful in certain circumstances, but do they tend forget about the shadowy, skeletal nature of the prediction? A tendency to worry about a coming potentially challenging astrological atmosphere, or to anticipate too enthusiastically a potentially beneficial one isn't helpful. I'd say that it's preferable to meet problems head-on, as and when - and if - they occur; and be pleasantly surprised by happily unexpected events. There's no point in worrying about some skeletal problem astrology might indicate which, when flesh is added and it becomes the reality, could turn out to be a very minor irritation or even a blessing in disguise, instead of the serious problem one might have expected.


mike said...

My mother followed the common astrological advice offered in several astrological monthly magazines and read astrology books from the library, so I had an early introduction. My mother and father were not religiously oriented, but most other families in our immediate neighborhood were, as were most individuals in general. I realized at an early age that provincial religion was dismal at providing a basis for cause-and-effect, instead supplanting the notion of sin, guilt, and salvation. On the other hand, astrology offered a cause-and-effect scenario..."there is a time for everything". I upped the ante in my later teenage years and learned to construct natal charts, which gave a far clearer picture with real-life correlations galore.

Taking a retrograde view of one's life and applying astrology in the analysis provides a plethora of correlations that are too uncanny to ignore. However, I do believe that astrology can be applied in forward motion to forecast future possibilities, providing a wide berth is allowed for events to unfold. Too many times in my astrological viewing of my future, I've been correct in several of the who-what-when-where-why-and-how, but usually not all six at once. I don't think that discredits astrological prediction, but instead infers that I should limit myself to the practicality of my skill level.

Something interesting I've noticed regarding forecasting or personality interpretation utilizing astrology is the inclusion of sub-level information. Natal chart interpretation and forecasting requires a knowledgeable skill-set of astrological training, but there is additional information available that, for me, tends to defy an explainable acquisition. I believe that some of the better astrologers utilize some form of subconscious information retrieval with the natal chart as a tool. This aspect of astrology is becoming more understandable via quantum theory and our increasing, scientific recognition that the universe(s) is charged with information, and that our past, present, and future can be altered through conscious effort. Much of what I would describe as metaphysics is now merging with the scientific disciplines' research into the quantum universe.

mike (again) said...

I think my comment went to spam.

mike (again) said...

The following from "The Golden Compass" by Philip Pulllman:

“They are said to originate in the city of Prague,” said the consul. “The Scholar who invented the first
alethiometer was apparently trying to discover a way of measuring the influences of the planets, according
to the ideas of astrology. He intended to make a device that would respond to the idea of Mars or Venus
as a compass responds to the idea of North. In that he failed, but the mechanism he invented was clearly
responding to something, even if no one knew what it was.”
“And where did they get the symbols from?”
“Oh, this was in the seventeenth century. Symbols and emblems were everywhere. Buildings and
pictures were designed to be read like books. Everything stood for something else; if you had the right
dictionary, you could read Nature itself. It was hardly surprising to find philosophers using the symbolism
of their time to interpret knowledge that came from a mysterious source. But, you know, they haven't
been used seriously for two centuries or so.”
He handed the instrument back to Lyra, and added:
“May I ask a question? Without the books of symbols, how do you read it?”
“I just make my mind go clear and then it's sort of like looking down into water. You got to let your eyes
find the right level, because that's the only one that's in focus. Something like that,” she said.

The entire book is available as a free pdf format download!

Sonny G said...

Since I don't know anything but the basics, I pretty much just live my life and try to make the best decisions I can moment to moment.
I do have to say I am very fond of numerology as I feel it gets a great perspective on past present and future events.

also:: Thank you Mike and Annie for pointing me in the right direction as to my 22 degree planets.

mike (again) said...

Sonny - I assume from your comment that you did see my last comment on that post telling you that you have South Node at 22* Virgo.

Twilight said...

mike + (again) ~ I agree with this, for all of us. "...should limit myself to the practicality of my skill level." All of us who attempt to interpret for ourselves anyway.

I do worry that some young people with little or no knowledge of astrological method place far too much confidence in what astrology can do for them. This struck me a few days ago when you assisted a stray commenter here. I'm not criticising you, mike, of course - you did exactly what was asked of you, and did it very well. I do worry in general though about the way some who frequent online astrology sites seem to obsess so much. Maybe, in reality they don't, and it just comes over that way - we can get some very skewed impressions online can we not. :-)

Thanks for the excerpt from "Golden Compass". Nice one, too.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Absolute basics are unlikely to cause obsessions, yet they are really what can show most clearly that "something is going on", but we don't know what it is. I suspect it's much the same with numerology, - I know nothing about that though. :-)

Sonny G said...

yes Mike. I did read your comment and then went in search of what it meant..thanks again.

its odd how much my basic astro chart and my numerology chart correspond Annie.
the numbers chart is able to show me upcoming events as to years months days and times though admittedly I don't keep up with it as I should.. I'd have to call this Lifetime, my Fly By the Pants and hope for the best, phase lol

mike (again) said...

You said, "we can get some very skewed impressions online can we not". Yes, indeed, and I think ALL impressions are skewed, vis a vis or online, specially about ourselves (speaking for myself, of course!)...LOL. I found the stray commenter desiring astro-assistance to be typical: life in turmoil, help! The individual stated the issues, but LB offered additional areas of possible concern, to which the individual divulged the REAL issues. In my further comments to that person, I tried to draw a connection to their aberrant relationship patterns that repeated (the astrology indicated it was inherent), but it was obvious that issue was not viewed as a repeating pattern, although presented that way. Oy!

There was a time in my life years ago that I wanted to become a professional astrologer, but I'm very pleased that I didn't take that path. I have no objection to offering free astro-advice and that gives me freedom from feeling responsible...LOL. If I'm wrong or didn't get through to the person, or the person interpreted my consultation via their own mechanism that doesn't match what I said, then, hey it was free. I do appreciate the opportunity to actually astro-analyze an individual's concern, because I feel it makes me better at it...practice makes perfect. I think almost anyone can become proficient with astrology, if they learn and practice.

I try my best to only use what I would describe as the tools of astrology, but there is that sub-level of astrology that I described above. I don't encourage myself to utilize the sub-level, but it can often portend a circumstance. LB used it with the stray commenter and received positive feedback...information not readily accessed via astrology, but appropriate...psychic perhaps.

BTW - I enjoyed your comment regarding Tom Ford's interest in astrology. Who'd a thought! I didn't particularly appreciate Tom Ford when he was a new name, but over the years he's demonstrated his salt in many diverse arenas. His direction of "A Single Man" was another feather for him.

LB said...

I was talking with someone about this yesterday, how I consider astrology an intuitive art, a psychological & spiritual tool. A lot depends on what we hope to get out of it, how deep we're willing to look and capable of going. Sometimes my other 'gifts' come into play . . . I try to remain open and receptive without pretending to know more than I actually do.

Over the years my understanding of astrology's limits & potentials, as well as my own motivations for using it have changed. For instance, I wouldn't use astrology to help determine if a prospective romantic partner was 'soul-mate' material, though it could help to understand the dynamics involved. I've often said I was blessed to have been on a hiatus from astrology when I met my husband, else some of our contacts might've scared me away.

You mentioned how people can sometimes become obsessed and place too much importance on astrology, Twilight. Maybe it's more a matter of refocusing our attention on what astrology does best, which is to help us better understand *ourselves*.

So many of us have been conditioned to believe there's an external 'cure' for everything. Rather than making an effort (when possible) to holistically understand the root causes of pain and suffering -which is sometimes an unavoidable part of life- we instead seek out and rely upon allopathic medicine to suppress or dull our symptoms. I think many approach astrology (and astrologers) in this same way.

I don't think astrology is meant to provide easy answers or fail-safe formulas, nor do I think it can be used to avoid life's challenges. It's tempting to obsess over upcoming transits or progressions ~ I'm not immune, which is why I'd much rather *try* to live my life in the present, as mindfully as possible. Easier said than done, but I'm trying.

What I've come to appreciate most about astrology is the complementary role it can play when combined with other psychological & spiritual work. It's been a great tool in helping me to better understand myself, my relationships and choices, and in Jungian psychology, what's known as my *shadow*.

My chart helps to explain my obsessions and need to control outcomes and how I can consciously integrate the positive aspects of these same energies in a more healing and transformational way. It's an ongoing process.

mike (again) said...

BTW - Way back in 1986, I had lived in Albuquerque for six months and loved it. I received a surprise job offer from a biopharmaceutical company in Cambridge, MA (Cambridge is on the other side of the Charles River from Boston). I was hesitant, because I didn't want to live in a major metropolitan area, yet the position was perfect for me.

I decided to visit a psychic. I told the fellow that I was conflicted about a job offer in a major city. Would it be a good move for me? He used a tarot deck as his tool of divination. Immediately, he seemed nervous and pensive. He went through the motions and stated that it would be a good move, and abruptly ended the session. Maybe a total of ten minutes. It was as if he couldn't get rid of me fast enough. The door was open and I was half-way outside, he asked whether drugs were involved. I responded that yes, drugs were involved. He asked whether the drugs were legal or illegal. I stated legal, then proceeded to tell him about my job offer with a major biopharmaceutical company. He was so relieved and we both started laughing...his psychic impression was that I was part of some drug gang making illegal street drugs. And this was way before "Breaking Bad", which was filmed in in Albuquerque...LOL. Gotta be careful with those psychic feelers.

Twilight said...

mike and (again) ~ You have always impressed me as professional-worthy - if you know what I mean - with regard to astrology. And yes, "life in turmoil" is often what can sometimes start an obsession with....well...something or other. Been there!

I ought not to criticise the obsessed, but I do worry - as I've said. When I used to frequent astrology message boards in their hey-day (long ago) this worry used to hit me regularly as I read questions and requests of some members of the boards. No doubt this kind of thing still goes on at Facebook.

I've always had an interest in astrology, but my interest tends towards trying to find out to my own satisfaction "does it really work" - "why does it work" etc etc. Something works, for sure, of that I'm certain, but not regularly or clearly enough for me to obsess over my own future too much (apart from my current minor frustration "when will I hear from those darned lawyers?" - lol!) I have your dates on a piece of paper on my desk. (Obsessor heal thyself!)

I think that the psychic element which some astrologers put to use has to be more reliable in its detail than straight astrology, yet more....ephemeral... tricky to impossible to find the right astrologer on one's wavelength.

This yearning to know what's in store is just another of our human menu items isn't it? I was reading just this morning an article about fortune tellers in Afghanistan. Talk about lives in turmoil there!! I'll try to get the link:

LOL! You'd have been a great character for Breaking Bad - an astrologer! That's exactly what the show was missing.

We've tried to stay in Albuquerque two or three times, but the traffic there is horrendous - got on our nerves so much that we headed on down the road to somewhere else each time. :-)

Twilight said...

LB ~ I agree with you on all counts. :-)
The intuitive/psychic element, when available, can add a lot of strength to the bones of straight astrology - especially regarding one's own chart, when it's 100% sure to be on the right wavelength!

Any feeling of "rightness", from the few personal consultations I've had in my life, came from psychic practitioners rather than astrologers (only had one personal consultation with an astrologer and he was completely useless - nobody well known (unsurprisingly).

I don't mean to imply that I've no confidence in astrology -only that I feel it's an imperfect tool, imperfect because we don't actually know what it is we're using, so might not be using it to best effect. It can work, some of us have seen it working at almost scary levels, but it can also miss - by a little bit, or miss by a mile. I just think this is something that ought always to be kept in mind.

Bob said...

Despite having more than a 40 year relationship with astrology and having had a smattering of correct or "in the ballpark" interpretations for myself and others I rarely know what aspects are going on or coming up in my chart.

There are no signatures for anything in astrology. Think in terms of the lives of multiple birth siblings. Death of parents - yes. Beginning employment, marriage, birth of children, divorce, illness, accidents, death - not likely.

I just live in the here and now responding to the moment in the best manner I think to be appropriate. Love one another, do no harm. Accept the difficult times that come at times to everybody. Grieve if necessary, recover the best I can, and go on.

More Albuquerque.

I remember the first time I came on Albuquerque. I was on route 66, heading West. It was night, and coming over a rise it lay before me, the lights like a huge sparkling diamond shining in the darkness.

LB said...

To be clear, I enjoy reading the insights of various astrologers, including those who write about current transits. Every once in a while, I'll read something that really makes me think or that validates some vague sense I've had.:)

Twilight said...

Bob ~ I do believe I resonate with your take on this subject.

I enjoy the personality interpretation side of astrology better than event prediction, and have always suspected that the personality side of astrology is the more reliable side. Mundane historical cycles are always interesting to consider also...hindsight is everything!

mike (again) said...

"The Fortune Teller of Kabul" was a good read, Twilight...thanks! Pain and suffering are ubiquitous elements of life, it seems. Many individuals have more validity with their ownership, such as the Afghans in this article, compared to the lighter-fare concerns of many in the industrialized nations. Anguish appears to be a personalized assessment though, and not necessarily weighed in terms of equivalence to others'. One person's nightmare is another's dream; one person's hell is another's heaven.

mike (again) said...

Excerpt from "Get Real About Astrology", Part 1, by Francis O'Neill

"We live in a dynamic, interconnected, situation where there is attraction operating, conscious or unconscious, behind our lives (indeed all life) and events – and all bounded by time. And you know what, at it highest, there is a spiritual purpose operating… Astrology presents us with an holistic, and in my view, ultimately a spiritual paradigm – and in its higher use it is about as far removed from the coffee break page as one can get.

Look deep enough into your life and you’ll find you live in circumstances that have symbolical meaning. There is a deep narrative running that you will have created that is hidden behind your existence, your relationships, your job/vocation, your family background, the culture you live in, behind your name. You just need to know how to read it to understand it. One way of getting a handle on it is through a study of your astrological birthchart – the moment of your birth, the starting point, providing a snapshot in time, being placed upon this useful time template – which can then be interpreted.

You can of course accept your existence is entirely on the basis of nature and, or nurture – and it is your right to do so. Most of us, it would appear, fail to make this ‘meaningful’ connection and rather view our lives as simply the outcome of, well, genetics, our upbringing, the government, 9 to 5, and something along the lines of ‘needs must’, coincidence, serendipity, luck, misfortune and envy – with a bit of sods law thrown in. Against this conjured reality of normality, there is little room for ‘meaning’. The bigger stuff, I’d suggest, gets pushed out to the fringes, beyond our busy life bubble."

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Nice quote - and good article, thanks. I read it, Part 2 also.
I've been surfing the net this morning, looking around a few astrological websites I used to frequent a few years back, and finding a few I'd never seen before by following some sidebar links in various places. Among those new-ish to me was Astro Inquiry - website of astrologer Frederick Woodruff. There's a good article there, from last month:

Astrology, Cycles, and the Active-Passive

"..........Anyone who has owned a cat and watched how she maneuvers the end of her life by removing herself to somewhere quiet and shadowed to die can attest to this.
Animals are jacked directly into the same cycles that astrology is able to anticipate and track.

True, those cycles are linear — which promotes the notion that astrology can predict the future. But in my experience this is like saying one could have predicted what the Sistine Chapel was going to look like when it was completed by studying the paints and brushes and sketches that Michelangelo used to paint it.

Playing more with this metaphor: The Zodiac gives us the basic canvas to work with, and the planets and their aspects are like the paints and brush strokes. But still, no one knows what the finished painting will look like — not even the artist."

mike (again) said...

You must not recall Frederick's masterpiece directive authorizing how astrologers should write:

mike (again) said...

Re link to Frederick's "How to Write...", I have to appreciate commenter Melissa's remark regarding her friend (the very last comment):
"...As my Scorpio friend said regarding her disillusionment with astrologers,'I tell them I'm drowning, and they describe the water to me.'"

Anonymous said...

I have never met any of these so-called "astrological worriers" in real life.

They do appear to be rather populous online however.
But everything on my monitor has been translated through the "mercury-medium"
It is not all the "Data"

... Some think they can perceive the knowledge without the experience.
... I don't do ab-initio astrology online. And I rarely forecast, I'll suggest trends instead.

Then again some people need a bit of wow-ing for amusement.
I saw the sat/ura in vir/pic in early 2010 and warned some people about the upcoming mechanical failure.
Some people said "Oh look at Eyjafjallajökull!" ... "No, that's not it" I said.
Then the Deepwater blowout happened and I got a lot of strange looks.

I see more obsessional behavior in the divinatory practices.
... Tarot, I-Ching, Horary astro, and some aspects of HD
Or "playing" the horses, or the markets, even scratch and win.

Personally, I worry about lots of things often ...
... But it's a process that allows me to move through it ... to problem solve ... or get creative.

I always know what's happening in my chart ...
... Unless there is a temporary plutonian block.
... Or some neptunian beffuddlement.


Twilight said...

mike ~ Ooooh-er - I do recall reading that piece before. I didn't appreciate it then, and the time between hasn't endeared it more, or him, to me. :-/ I do not take kindly to anyone telling me what I can and cannot write about, or how. The internet is a free for all - like it or lump it! Who said, anyway, that that particular astrologer knows everything about astrology and how it should be discussed. Grrrr!!! I will not read the comments there at this time of night or BP will sky rocket. DANG!!!

Oh...LOL! I've just read the link to my own 2014 post - or rather the comment there!!
LOL!!! LOL!!!

Twilight said...

Anon/kidd ~ I've never met an astro-obsessor in person either - you make a good point there! On-line astro-stuff must do something to a person - bring out the drama perhaps. In fact, in all my long life I've met only three or four people "in the flesh" who had any interest at all in astrology. I hardly even mention the word "astrology" itself these days, except on my blog.

Thanks for adding your experiences - it's good to know how others perceive the situation.