I don’t often get angry if I meet folks who find astrology incredulous, or even ridiculous. I find their worship of science and technology as the answer to everything faintly ludicrous, and am happy to agree to disagree about fundamental life views. I know my method makes sense, they know theirs does, we’re all happy. Science is a system which proposes to impose meaning on the random and chaotic. So does astrology. The mandate of astrology is that life has an underlying pattern we are trying to discover. So does science. Astrology declares that there is an underlying direction that can be discerned by understanding astrology’s laws. So does science, with its laws. Both are based on mathematical principles. Looked at through a slightly skewed mirror, astrology and science have a lot in common.
What does make me angry is the building up and sacrificing of straw dogs. This is what the Republican party is so fond of doing, as when it made monsters of untruth out of Obama’s health care bill and then proceeded to cut it down over their self-generated false allegations. Astrology haters think they’re telling the truth, expounding the triumph of logic over superstition, of reason over belief. Someone who knows absolutely nothing about astrology will make proclamations about it, and then ridicule those falsities– the very thing that he is knocking down has nothing to do with astrology itself, as it is practiced. Mostly these people know only what they read in the newspapers, and are reacting against prediction, worshipers of free will who believe that every decision made in life has nothing but an egocentric origin, ignoring the myriad influences that form it. (It always strikes me that the public detractors tend to be people who have been able to skate on the surface of their lives. They’re usually successful people whose lives have arranged themselves very well, thank you, and have never bothered to look any further.)
These are the same people who would come out against religion, if only it were socially acceptable. (Sadly, astrology-bashing IS socially acceptable. See my piece on The New Backlash.) It is getting more socially acceptable, in this post-9/11 age. The new acceptable trend is to be belief-free, and to treat all those who believe in an overriding spiritual world view as loony at best and insane at worst. (This fanatic worship of the so-called ‘rational’ view can probably be blamed on Neptune’s transit through Aquarius (fixed air), but don’t tell them that. So can the phenomenon of religious extremism of any kind.)
This is a world where reality television regularly wins out over drama. Where intelligent cinema, unless it couches its message in mythology, is nearly non-existent. Where theatre without the distraction of singing and dancing struggles for an audience, and where the ordinary is preferred to the extraordinary. It’s safer that way. We would rather see our mundane selves endlessly reflected back to us, rather than be provoked or stimulated or urged or inspired towards something greater. Where is our “Citizen Kane?” Where is our “Death of a Salesman” or “Look Back in Anger?” These works take imagination, vision, and passion, all of which now seem to be in short supply. You can argue that all these things are now wrapped up in the technological revolution. I, for one, think the iPhone is a work of art. But we need more. We need context. We need meaning.
I think everyone has seen the above painting by William Blake. It’s called “The Ancient of Days,” an old name for god. Everyone assumes that this painting depicts some benevolent god of architecture, the creator as scientist. They’re wrong. This painting is of Blake’s god Urizon, part of his elaborate mythology, who forces uniformity and convention upon mankind. (Urizon’s enemy and counterpart is the god Los, the spirit of vision.) Take a good look at the piece. Blake is saying a lot about that compass in his hand. He had a name for those with no faith and no vision, who would not accept that there is anything in the world beyond which we can explain with facts and figures. He called these people, dismissively, “The Measurers.” (For more on Urizen, and Blake’s mythology, click here.)
Perhaps the thing that drives me the most crazy is when people say, “Oh, astrology always has an out—you’re not like your Sun sign because you have this rising, and the moon is in so and so…” Implying that we’re just busking our way through.
Um….yep. Complexity. That’s the point. The same people who dismiss Sun sign astrology because it is too simple and pat (and they have a point) then turn around and say astrology doesn’t work because you can make anything out of it…straw dogs indeed. As if we don’t have centuries worth of complex methods and rules and mathematical principles behind us, and we’re just making it up as we go. As if a human being is not a tangled knot of contradictions. I studied for decades before I ventured into becoming a professional astrologer. I wasn’t sure I was worthy of the craft. And now I have to sit and listen politely to clueless, uninformed idiots dismiss my art in public forums. (You know who you are, Mr. I Am Not An Aries…)
I used to get angry. I don’t anymore. Because over the years I have realized that, in general, introduction into any kind of serious metaphysical study is not based on logic or instinct or inspiration, it’s experiential. That’s what separates us, on the whole, from the measurers. Serious metaphysical study takes intellect as well as instinct, but all of us who practice it in any form have at some point had an initiation into alternative planes of influence and existence. It usually happens at some point early in our lives, and continues to develop. We make connections others are not equipped to make, because we see more, not less. Our scope is broader, wiser. We understand about correlations and correspondences, something that the measuring world has forgotten. We understand about the irrational and illogical connections between things.
Jung once said that men see objects and women see the relationship between objects. In that way, astrology, and by extension any metaphysical practice, is essentially feminine in its perspective. To learn it properly, you need to be still, to receive. Right there, it opens the door to dismissal in this patriarchal, testosterone-fueled culture. (Not male-bashing. I’m very fond of testosterone, in its right proportions.) Ancient cultures understood this better than we do–it’s something we’ve lost. An astrologer understands the unique correspondence between Saturn and iron, between Mars and knives, between Leo and the heart, between the number 8 and the caduceus. A measurer will not.
There is a reason why metaphysical practices, historically, have always been done in secret. It’s because of this need to be receptive, to turn our back on the ordinary. How can connections occur if we are continually being rattled by people who are always running around doing things, who don’t take time to just listen, to just be? Who measure their own lives in terms of what they have achieved, rather than what they understand? No wonder they never get it. Their conscious awareness has not evolved to embrace the fact that there are correlations occurring on a daily basis that we simply can not explain in a logical fashion.
When I was in my early twenties, I had a life-changing experience. It was my first Chiron square to itself, but I didn’t know that then. On a dull Sunday evening, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a strange feeling. I turned completely inward, as if my consciousness had turned itself inside out and I was no longer involved with what was around me. I sat down on the sofa in the darkening living room, and for two hours was overwhelmed by concern for a man I loved, who was half a world away. It was more than concern, I saw him and I felt him, felt what he was feeling, and I knew I was comforting him with my ‘presence.’ It was, for that time, as if we were one. He told me he was afraid. He told me he was leaving. I felt his uncertainty and his reluctance to leave. I felt his fear. I helped him to let go. Just as suddenly as I went into this state, hours later, I snapped out of it. I was relieved. What had I been thinking, all these morbid thoughts? Something made me look at the clock to note the time. The next day, I found out that he had died, at exactly the minute that I looked at that clock.
Take that, measurers.
This story is just one of millions that happen every day around the globe. These are the stories that don’t get told, because they are not ‘acceptable’ in our social milieu, and because the stories are so precious that no one who experiences them dares to expose them to the ridicule and dismissal of the dictators of the disconnected world view. But they happen, all the time. For most of us, these experiences confirm the fact that there is more to life, love, and consciousness than we understand right now. I doubt we ever will understand, because consciousness seems to expand in relation to our awareness of it–the more we know, the more there is to know. An experience like one this cannot help but send us down a different, often lonely and difficult, path. We become isolated, somehow banished from the norm.
The loneliness of metaphysical pursuit is not something that gets discussed much. Either we go it alone and in silence, or this experiential banishment forces us to turn our backs on the ‘real’ world and find an alternative world with like-minded others, others who also see through the cracks in the fabric of what is commonly known as everyday existence.
As the astrological community works itself up into a fuss over the upcoming cardinal T-square, let’s take a moment to think back and recall what it is that actually brought us to this particular path. Because that is the very thing that guides us, nourishes us and protects us, the knowledge that we are all, at core, deeply connected, not only to one another, but to the Earth itself and the energy that formed it. We don’t need to measure it. We just need to live it.