06 January 2012

That's Not Astrology

One of my complaints about many modern astrologers is that what they are doing simply isn't astrology. They employ astrology to give what they are saying a veneer of respectability. One might question whether astrology can really lend anything a sense of respectability, given how it is perceived by the mainstream media. But the public is generally more accepting of it than we might at first think. But the public is also misinformed about astrology. Folks generally don't know much more about it than their Sun sign, and maybe a bit of what that supposedly means.

But my complaint isn't with the general public. After all, I don't expect non-experts to know expert-level information in any field. My complaint is with those who are passing themselves off as astrologers, while doing something completely other than astrology. For example, I see on Facebook a weekly video that some of my friends post (some of them being modern style astrologers). This is a very popular video series by someone purporting to be giving an astrological "forecast" for the week. Aside from my issues with the modern astrological perspective in these updates, what this person is doing is simply laying out a "metaphysical" set of desires or goals, and then using current astrological placements to justify them.

While goals such as being at peace, seizing the moment, becoming one's best self, etc., may be admirable, that's not what current astrological transits are always telling us to do, necessarily. The presenter gives it away in saying: "These are the astrological underpinnings of what I want to say to you today." So admittedly, the goal isn't really an astrological forecast, rather the goal is to preach about something and then use current astrology to back it up. This is quite similar to what preachers do in churches; they will cherry-pick biblical passages or lines within a prescribed passage to make whatever point they want to make, rather than letting the text (or the planets and stars) actually speak for themselves.

I have often said that if I were a client, I wouldn't really care where or how my astrologer or psychic was getting their information, as long as it was correct and they were able to accurately predict most things. But as a student of astrology, I do care where the information comes from. As an astrologer, the predictions made should be reproducible by another astrologer using similar techniques (or close to the same prediction). And as a teacher of astrology, these techniques, when passed on, should also result in similar delineations and predictions.

So when you hear astrologers going on about all sorts of fluffy, pie-in-the-sky goals, without really being able to say very directly: "this is what the aspect is, and this is precisely what it means," you should beware.

05 January 2012

Comments and Comments...

I received a comment a few weeks ago about my post on how the traditional meanings of the planets have been corrupted by modern astrological free association (Venus Rules What???!!!). As so often happens when someone criticizes a post, the critic posted the comment anonymously, and the critique is full of inaccuracies, both historical and astrological (vis-a-vis Traditional Western or Medieval Astrology, as indicated by the title of my blog). 


First of all, the person is coming from a Vedic (Indian/Hindu/Jyotish) astrological perspective, not a Western one. Now while the East and the West use the same basic set of symbols, there are some differences. I am not an expert on Eastern Astrology, so I will not presume to speak definitively for what these symbols mean in Jyotish. My critic is clearly not an expert on Traditional Western Astrology, but for some reason that did not stop him/her from taking me to task over my post. 


The example in the previous post that I gave was the erroneous association of Venus with "finances" and "money." This error stems from a false equation of the second house of the chart (movable wealth) with the second sign of the zodiac (Taurus) and its ruler (Venus), using a technique known as the 12-letter alphabet. I gave a short list of other false associations based on the same technique, but my critic focused on the title example. (In summary, no one sign equals any one house of the chart; they are different components that are overlaid in each chart, thereby engendering the infinite variety of events and characteristics of things here on Earth.)


Here are a few quotes from the comment (in brown) and my response to them.
"I don't understand what traditionalsm actually you are talking about. Perhaps you sincerely lack a global idea of astrological principles and practices around the world basically in the east."
Let me say first of all that I was not commenting upon "eastern" astrology. I was commenting on Traditional Western (pre-1700) Astrology. The rest of the critique is based upon an assumption that we are discussing (or should be discussing) Eastern Astrology. But I'm not. 
"The Indian Traditional Astrology which is far elder than the erroneous western tropical astrology..."
I understand that many who practice Indian Astrology belief, as a matter of faith, that it is older than Tropical (Western) Astrology. However, all documented evidence points to the contrary. For example:
"The documented history of Hindu astrology begins with the interaction of Indian and Hellenistic cultures in the Indo-Greek period. The oldest surviving treatises, such as the Yavanajataka or the Brihat-Samhita, date to the early centuries CE. The Yavanajataka ("Sayings of the Greeks") was translated from Greek to Sanskrit by Yavanesvara during the 2nd century CE, under the patronage of the Western Satrap Saka king Rudradaman I, and is considered the first Indian astrological treatise in the Sanskrit language."   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_astrology#History,    
see also on the English name:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_astrology#English_name)
Both Sidereal (Eastern) and Tropical (Western) Astrology came from the same roots, and diverged at a later time. Many devout Hindus believe that the Vedas themselves go back much farther than they have been historically proven to; this may be akin to Christian fundamentalists believing that the Bible is treating the chronology of the world in literal terms.


Continuing:
"...always considered the equal house division to be exact in which the sign is synonymous with the house or vice versa."

Hellenistic Astrology also considered that one full sign occupied one full house. That is, if one's rising degree is 15 Sagittarius, the first house would still be 0-30 Sagittarius, and the Asc would be in the middle of the first house. It is only later that the Ascendant (Rising Sign and degree) starts to be considered the beginning  of the first house. Throughout the Tradition (and amongst Traditional astrologers of all stripes today), there is ample evidence that this Whole Sign House system was and is used alongside the quadrant house system (Placidus, Alchabitius, Koch, Regiomontanus, etc.). But there is not (in the West, at least) the idea that the first house in anyone's chart is always equivalent to the first sign of the zodiac (Aries). The only place that this shows up is in medical astrology, where one needs multiple ways to identify parts of the body. So the first house represents the head, and the sign Aries also represents the head. But that does not mean that the first house equals Aries.
"Besides, it seems your bankrupcy in astrological interpretation as a mytho-symbological art is unprecedented."
Wow. I'll merely point out here that there is no one-to-one correspondence between astrology and mythology. While certain planets and constellations have a vague similarity with their mythological equivalents, it is dangerous to assume that they are the same thing. For example, the mythological figure of Jupiter was often disguising himself in order to deceive the nymphs and take advantage of them sexually. This has no bearing at all upon the astrological meanings of Jupiter.
"You do not know that Jupiter rules spiritual wealth where as Venus rules material wealth."
And where is the documentation of this? There are a few references in the Tradition to Venus and wealth. They are all part of the idea that Venus rules leisure and luxury. It is not until the modern era that Western Astrology associates Venus and material wealth. In my scan through some of the Indian Astrology books that I own. (http://goo.gl/snhgmhttp://goo.gl/iXVgShttp://goo.gl/jcF1bhttp://goo.gl/Hjan4) the Venus and wealth association seems to be the same as in the Traditional West. That is, while she can indicate a wealth of luxury and a certain amount of abundance, it's from the perspective of pleasure, which she rules. Jupiter is more clearly the ruler of material wealth, as well as spiritual wealth. But in the West, the clear place to look for "finances" or "money" is the 2nd house. There are a couple of other houses that may also indicate money (11th, e.g.), but let me return to my point: Venus does not rule "finances" based upon a false "natural" connection to the second house.

"Inheritance is a matter of 8th house, in that case the 8th from 9th which is the house of father in Indian Astrology"
My understanding (Braha. Art & Practice p185) is that this is true in Southern India, but in Northern India, the 10th house governs the father.

"Jupiter rules "ethics" not "modern law" - and perhaps you don't know "law" is not about "opponence" but "justice", the "balance" which principle is approriately symbolized by the scale of Libra. Please go deeper in your understanding that in true awareness there is no compulsory division in between 'tradition' and 'modernity'."
So is there a difference between "modern law" and "ancient law"? The principle here is "law." That does not necessarily mean "lawsuit." But in Lee Lehman's The Book of Rulerships, her research reveals nothing amongst nine giants of Western Traditional Astrology indicating a connection between Libra and Law. Mythologically, the Scales were, in fact, associated with ideas of law, fairness, and civility; but astrologically, no one (traditionally) seems to have used Libra to represent Law.
This actually reveals another flaw in modern Western Astrology: the assumption that all of the mythological associations of a planet or sign are also astrological associations. This is simply not true. And this one of the reasons why modern style astrologers have such an impossible time trying to predict (when they even do so).

To conclude, I propose that my critic study the Western Astrological Tradition before criticizing it (or its proponents). My suspicion is that he/she is not quite fully grounded in the Eastern Tradition either, but of course, I have not proof.

So let's make a deal: You don't criticize what you don't understand in the West, and I won't criticize what I don't understand about the East.

One final comment. I have changed the settings on this blog not to allow anonymous comments. The comments are already moderated, since I don't need ill-considered, insulting comments appearing here (I have received a number of such comments). As always, one need not agree with me for me to allow the  comment to post. However, one must 1-be respectful and 2-address the information in the original post.
In addition to that, you may no longer comment anonymously. The ability to comment anonymously encourages people neither to be respectful, nor to address the post directly, and allows for rants and ad hominem arguments that are unwelcome.