It's been too long since my last rant about the utter lack of philosophical underpinnings of modern astrology. So here goes.
I was reading an astrology blog today that points out that Venus is moving into the sign of Leo on Thursday of this coming week. It mentions parenthetically that Venus is the "ruler of love, art, beauty & finances." This is, of course, only partially accurate. Venus is the ruler of love, art, and beauty (along with music, dance, and many other things), but finance? Not so. So then why the reference?
First of all, let's talk for a moment about what astrological "rulership" is all about.
There is what we call "natural rulership"; that is, Mars rules pointy things, the Moon rules liquids, etc. What we are saying here is that of all of the energies that inhabit pointy things, for example, the Mars energy is the strongest. Therefore, as Mars goes, so goes this pointy thing. We are working here from a world view where the spiritual world influences the material, and as such, its influence on Mars is reflected on things that are "ruled by" Mars.
Next we have "house rulership." In an astrology chart, each house represents an area of life, and planets in that house as well as the sign on the cusp of that house give the delineation of how that area of life will work out. The planet that rules that sign will ultimately also have a say in the matter. For example, traditionally, the first house of the chart (also known as the Ascendant or Rising Sign) represents the physical body, health, and happiness. If one is born with Leo rising, that means that the sign of Leo was straddling the eastern horizon at that moment and is therefore on the cusp of the first house. (By definition, the first house begins at the eastern horizon.) Now the Sun rules Leo, so the astrologer looks to see if there are any other planets on the horizon (in the first house) that may influence the body, health and happiness of the native, and then also interprets the influence of Leo on those issues; finally we evaluate the placement of the Sun in the chart in order to give a fuller picture of how these issues will ultimately work out for the person.
Between the 18th and early 20th centuries, astrologers had ignored houses for so long that they nearly forgot what to do with them. In the mid-20th century, they began to attempt to reincorporate them into astrology charts, but in doing so, generated a lot of incorrect connections about rulership in the chart. A technique developed in the mid-to-late 20th century called the 12-letter alphabet, about which I have blogged, asserts that each of the houses is nearly equivalent to each of the astrological signs, and in order. In other words, the first sign of the zodiac, Aries, is equivalent to the first house of a chart. This is a modern invention that has no basis in tradition, and in fact confuses beyond measure the ability to gain any clarity from a chart. However, I bring it up again to point out what some of the consequences are from this bogus approach.
In the 12-letter alphabet (or "alphabet soup") approach, the second house, which corresponds to a person's money and movable wealth, also equals Taurus, the second sign, and therefore Venus, the planet that rules Taurus. Now all of a sudden, for the first time in two thousand years (indeed, the first time in history), Venus rules money. So what happened to the rulership of Jupiter over wealth and abundance (aka "money" to us) and the Sun over gold? These associations are completely ignored by, and mostly unknown to, modern astrologers. Yet it makes far more sense given the nature of these planets.
In Rex Bills' The Rulership Book, he begins the forward, the very first sentence in the volume, with the following sentence: "The keystone of astrological interpretation is a thorough knowledge of rulerships, or correspondences." Yet Bills then goes on to list modern correspondences that are undocumented, and unsubstantiated by much of the astrological tradition. Lee Lehman's The Book of Rulerships, on the other hand, documents the rulerships and correspondences as given in nine of the most important astrological writers throughout history. Her introduction to the
volume is a very good entré into understanding what rulership is all about.
Other common, incorrect (and unintended?) consequences of the alphabet soup approach are:
- Since the third house represents short journeys, and the third sign of the zodiac is Gemini, ruled by Mercury, therefore Mercury rules travel. Now today, whenever Mercury goes retrograde, people freak out about travel. However, traditionally, there are very few references to Mercury in terms of travel. Travel is more about the Moon (which "travels" the entire zodiac in a month). What is of import today are the plans, arrangements, and negotiations around travel, as well as some of the mechanical pieces of the vehicle itself; these things are Mercurial. But the journey itself is not.
- Since the fourth house is like the fourth sign, Cancer, which is the sign of the great Mother, and is ruled by the Moon, then the fourth house is about the mother. The 10th house (the 7th from the 4th), which is equivalent to the 10th sign of Capricorn (a cold, unyielding energy) is therefore about the father. Traditionally, the 4th house is the father (and land and things inherited through patrilineal lines) and the 10th is the mother. So modern astrology has completely reversed these.
- The sixth house traditionally is about potential illness (among other things) and the first house is about the native's health. But in modern astrology, the 6th house is said to be health, and the 6th sign, Virgo, is equated with it. I have heard modern astrologers and astrology buffs tell every sun-sign Virgo that they encounter that they are "natural healers." Don't even get me started on how ridiculous this is. But this is how Virgo got to be (falsely) associated with healing.
- I recently saw a post that mentioned that Libra is the sign of Law. This is because the 7th house in a chart is the opponent in the law suit, and so the 7th house often represents issues of suing an opponent (or being sued). Guess what the 7th sign of the zodiac is... that's right, it's Libra. Law has always been correlated primarily to Jupiter.
One of the major problems that I have with all of this is that when I notice in a post that there is something like this glaringly wrong, I tend to dismiss most of what the astrologer says from that point on; if their connections are all wrong, then how can their conclusions be correct, except by accident or serendipity? This is also one of the reasons that modern style astrologers no longer do predictions - because they can't. There are many reasons that modern astrology has gone almost completely psychological, but this is one of them. One need not "prove" astrological statements that are more about psychology and the way that someone experiences something internally, whereas putting oneself on the line and actually predicting what will happen in the external world is a lot more risky and demanding. But it only works if one is able to draw the right connections and establish the right relationships.