Astrology is dealing with symbols. That is
to say, we should not understand the planets and signs too literally,
concretely. The stars are signposts, references to a metaphysical
realm. They are indicators, similar to a thermometer measuring a certain
degree; it is neither the temperature nor its creator! The stars are
similar to the pointers of a clock showing us hours and minutes; the
pointers, however, having nothing to do with time as such. The stars
do not generate our personalities or fate. The celestial objects are
the physical representatives, they are to some extent the copies of
transcendental (invisible, immaterial) energies. Those otherworldly
principles reign in Plato’s realm of ideas; they are comparable
to the mystical numbers of Pythagoras, to the biblical Elohim, the
emanations of supreme divine unity. (Astrology always saw itself in
such religious-ritual context.)
In astrology we see the collective unconscious archetypes
at work. The constellations are metaphors, revealing primordial patterns,
whose meaning is superior to earthly existence. The cycle of the zodiac
is an allegorical display of life’s fundamental factors; it's
kind of a shorthand encoding of the processes of becoming and decay.
Since they refer to all planes of manifestation, astrological patterns
have to be abstract. Because of the multiplicity of their meaning
the cosmic letters are inevitably vague, open, ambiguous and inexact
- one of (uncomprehending) science’s most serious objections.
Because of this lack of concreteness the message of astronomical reality
has to be translated; the symbols have to be related to someone or
something - a direct, linear conclusion not being possible! Appealing
to our brain's right hemisphere, i.e. to our imaginative side, astrology
is more of an art than a science. It is a “cosmic art of explanation”
(Knappich), an “intuitive science” (Steiner).
In this system of knowledge analogy is the keyword. Our axiom
says “as above - so below”, or “macrocosm = microcosm”;
this being known as the rule of the Emerald board. The astrological
hypothesis assumes some basic relationship between events in the sky
and on earth which occur simultaneously. Epistemologically, here we
see the idea of the “unus mundus” at work, of some universal
magic reality, i.e. the belief that in the world all objects fundamentally
are bound together. In the Middle Ages people called this connection
“kinship”, “sympathy” or “harmony”;“resonance”
and “vibration” are the equivalent modern (quantum physical
or esoteric) terms. In the Hermetic conception of the world every
occurrence is meaningful. If things are happening at the same time
(or even at the same place), they cohere inwardly.
The precondition of everything born into time and space is its prior
existence (as germ, seed) on a metaphysical plane. All beings on earth
are somehow “planned”, anticipated - there is no space
for pure chance or empty senselessness!
In his pioneering work the Suisse psychologist C.G. Jung has formulated
the principle of synchronicity. Its basis is one of simultaneity
and sense, ignoring the borderline of matter and spirit - all events
and persons are interrelated. In Jung’s view the relationship
between stars and man is a parallel or correlative one; in any case
its nature is acausal. In his reasoning on the how and why of astrology
Jung used words like ‘coincidence, correspondence and equivalence’
(a homogeneity with regard to a hidden, subconscious meaning).
is an instrument measuring time’s quality - in contrast
to today’s prevailing quantitative view. From an astrological
perspective a single minute may essentially differ from the next;
thereby every instant is “pregnant” with specific contents
- symbolised by the constellations. That is why the moment of birth
is seen so important - it's representing the “typical”
features of the individual born at that time. According to the rule
of “the beginning is containing the end” the birth chart
comprehensively describes a person’s character and future life.
(The point of conception being only relevant to the period of pregnancy
- a cycle which is completed by the time we definitely enter this
world.) To Goethe man was an “engraved form which is developed
in living”; because of this kind of “forming” the
very first cry is decisive. The ritual of celebrating one’s
birthday is not just a sentimental act of reminiscence: when returning
to the birth position the individual’s sun (and his quality)
is re-energised (this the technique of the solar rests on).
But let us be careful: we should not attribute to the planets the
capability of “engraving” character traits. The horoscope
is just a signature of dispositions and task designations - nothing
more, nothing less. "Causation" works the other way round
and not the way it feels: It is not “because of” Mars-Saturn
that I permanently face resistance, that I am confronted with mysterious
obstacles in all my activities. The starry heavens are like a tape:
they are recording or noting down (in the book of life) our psychological
constitution. Discovering the reason of your success or failure in
the heavens is seductive and can easily lead to the evasion of personal
reponsibility! Basically, something can only happen to me, if I am
receptive or ready for it; whatever I attract subconsciously will
manifest. (Our incarnation’s time and place was selected purposefully;
the higher self presumably intending the soul to develop latent qualities,
in order to become more rounded, whole and loving.) It is a great
riddle and a miracle, how the heavenly movements are able to simultaneously
and specifically reflect so many phenomena and processes of individuals...
Yet, “evil constellations” in no way are responsible,
if something goes wrong. A “wicked” transit does not cause
a crisis - it is simply an indicator!
The answer to the frequently asked question “freedom or
determinism?” is: both-and. We are free on the level of
the spiritual self (as indicated mainly in a chart’s fourth
quadrant), but bound with respect to our subjective needs and wishes.
We are conditioned by thoughts and actions, imprisoned by body, ego
and mind. But in any case our psyche or innermost nature takes priority;
this (essentially free) self being the primary cause, the determining
agent behind everything we do or what happens to us. The solution
to all our problems depends on when we come into contact with that
sub- or superconscious source...
Nowadays astrology’s principles of effectiveness are seen working
on an interior plane, i.e. psychologically. The planets correspond
to psychic “organs” - a view very close to Paracelsus’
concept of an astral body. In this context chirology is an interesting
example: in its system the planetary energies are written into your
hand. In the art of palmistry the psycho-physical meaning of Mercury,
Jupiter and so on, has been detached from their ecliptic positions.
Here, astrology’s symbols are features, factors of destiny totally
independent of the ephemeris! (In his historical investigations T.
Schaefer pointed out that in its beginnings astrology did not have
any astronomical basis.)
We all know those typical astrologer's idioms like “there my
Moon is running short of food”, “person X obviously needs
more Saturn” or “her Sun should be strengthened”.
This kind of terminology implies that astrological symbols are ciphers
of certain psychic functions. Conversely, working with this cosmo-psychological
code, the soul’s mechanisms are perceived in a more conscious
and differentiated way – thus, astrology is also a path to self-knowledge
and self-development or initiation.
Rudolf Steiner described spiritual science as “finding
again metaphysical contents in the physical world”. Similarly,
in their enquiries into empirical realities, the academic disciplines,
hermeneutics and phenomenology, are trying to recognise an object’s
very specific structure and meaning. They are attempting to see the
hidden sense, the order behind the phenomena observed. ”Verstehen”
(comprehending, understanding) is central in their methods. “People
explain nature, but the soul has to be comprehended”, Wilhelm
Dilthey programmatically formulated his maxim a hundred years ago.
He did not feel physics or biology to be adequate in the fields of
human science (e.g. in history or psychology).
The difficulty with these metaphysical sciences is that in their processes
of research the objects studied cannot be separated from the observer.
There is no objectivity in the traditional sense of meaning any more!
In order to really understand someone else (finding yourself in a
counterpart) one has to become personally involved; you can no longer
remain neutral and untouched. This process is demanding thorough reflection
on your own attitudes and emotions (which nobody likes to change)...
The concept of the spiritual sciences is a holistic one (including
body, soul and mind). Human values play an integral role,
and every person is considered capable of growing. In the sixties
and seventies Dilthey’s ideas have been revived by the movement
of Humanistic psychology - just think of Maslow’s hierarchy
of needs, Rogers’ concept of empathy or Gendlin urging you to
sense and focus on the meaningful moments of your flow of “experiencing”.
Astrology has got all the features of a spiritual science; it is meeting
all the criteria necessary (the principle of analogy being the metaphysical
tool par excellence). And in many respects the ancient doctrine of
the stars is surpassing modern world’s ways of knowing: astrological
teachings could provide any research with a unique system of orientation...
On the one hand the astrological system is amazingly clear, on the
other hand the number of the symbols’ possible combinations
is uncountable. In former times astrology - like theology and philosophy
- was a science underlying the others. Properly understood (as archetypes,
inconcrete patterns of creation), its simplicity and diversity could
immensely fertilise all sorts of inquiries. The different analogies
could give central hints - Kepler’s finding of the orbital laws
being the most convincing proof.
Astrological research is a two-level or dialectical process:
the astrological concepts help us in comprehending facts and events;
the observations collected do correct the abstract theories, and so
on. But what about truth? We all know astrology to be explicitly geocentric
and the individual subject to be the starting point of such "research"...
In the history of science objectivity has always been a question
of definition - depending on the scientific community’s internal
collaboration or agreements. Today scientists are calling this procedure
- somewhat pompously - “intersubjectivity”; in fact this
is simply a (more or less reflected) collective opinion; a sum or
average of individual subjectivities – which cannot avoid deceit,
thereby truth by no means is guaranteed! Outside influences need not
be as extreme as the ones Galilei was exposed to - but no type of
research is free from prejudice, none is agitating in a vacuum.
Since the subject is any experience’s starting point, principally
there is no real objectivity - even a (honest) scientist would concede
this. Pure perception (of “the thing itself”) is not possible.
All empirical research is subject to certain (mostly subconscious)
assumptions - called ‘categories a priori’ by Kant. Knowledge
can never enter our minds directly; it is always mediated, either
by gauging or by existing structures of thinking.
A person’s subjective evidence is different, but, in no way
less valid than a so-called scientific result! Interestingly though,
inner life is the anchoring point of modern Transpersonal psychology.
Here in the course of a psychotherapeutic process all emotional elements
are transformed and transcended - in order to finally arrive at objective,
mythological truths. In spiritual sciences, "objectivity"
means: finding again metaphysical structures or themes (e.g. a horoscope’s
configuration) in an individual case.
Academia won't listen; but for all kinds of research astrology's explicit
- yet not forced upon - system of classification might prove extremely
useful. By following the ancient wisdom of the stars the seeker is
more likely to find the right path. Its solid theoretical system of
reference could aid the natural sciences in minimizing unnecessary
trials and errors. Astrology’s essence is trans-subjective;
its archetypal truths could even prevent us from sliding into subjective
opinions, into arbitrariness or irrelevance!
The phrase “paradigm shift”
was coined by philosophers of science like Kuhn and Feyerabend. Globally
speaking, every paradigm is a special view of the world - fundamentally
different to other viewpoints. Accordingly, the natural and the spiritual
sciences cannot be compared directly. They are totally independent
(“incommensurable”) of each other; they are both theoretically
and practically incompatible. Each paradigm has its own type of perception,
its typical methods of research, its own efficiency and truth, its
specific terminology - and its own empirics or “proofs”.
Whenever two paradigms seem to speak the same language, the implied
meaning of the words used is different! Since every single paradigm
is a unique description of man and his idea of life, no outside view
can examine or even refute such a conception. This has to be taken
into account when any attempt to judge astrological knowledge is being
made. Attacks from the sciences, or churches cannot hurt astrology
at all, because all outside evaluation is irrelevant! The continuing
confusion surrounding astrological concepts of causality is quite
an instructive example: to astrologers causality is more like finality,
i.e. related closer to the future than to the past. Unfortunately,
ordinary man at the end of 20th century cannot comprehend this “crazy”
idea – even though containing the promise of growth... Astrology
states that we are not influenced as much as we think by negative
experiences resulting from childhood or former lives. Our destiny
or higher self (fourth quadrant) is mainly concerned with what we
should be - i.e. with our potential‘s realisation (the stubborn
ego being the reason for the difficulties and conflicts arising).
Astrology has a “logic” of its own. Though it
is of an indisputable clearness and immanent conclusivity, this logic
is not of a classic, Aristotelian, digital nature saying “if-then”,
“yes-no”, “either-or”. Perhaps we should call
this type of thinking “pre-logic” or “ana-logic”.
In any case it is a “non-logic”, i.e. quite a difficult
concept for the Occidental mind to grasp. Astrology’s mere thinkability
is an affront to contemporary thought. To the modern mind any “truth
from the stars” is something extremely irredescent, irrational
and primitive - interestingly, this is also the most fascinating aspect
of that “archaic” relict of science’s history. Moreover,
according to Jung, this seems to be the way the psyche functions.
The reality of our inner world is a mythic one!
Today‘s prevailing paradigm is demanding a science
to be nomothetic, i.e. setting up general rules - rules which are
universally valid; valid for any time and place. Accordingly, recognising
causal laws and thereby “objectively” explaining (plus
forecasting) phenomena is science’s main purpose. And empirical
tests are seen as decisive proofs of a hypothesis. Furthermore, adequate
checks are expected to be repeatable or standardized, experiments
have to be carried out with all the conditions strictly controlled.
Naturally, the spiritual sciences cannot meet those criteria, and
neither can pre-rational astrology. But we may ask: Are modern scientific
axioms at all appropriate in the area of human affairs? Does any psychology
that just measures apparent behavior actually grasp its subject? “Science
is telling us a lot. But it should not overstep its range; it cannot
tell us anything about our innermost nature” (Steiner). Only
idiographic methods (which are oriented toward the individual) can
really conceive the typical in man. Today’s mechanistic, cold
technical sciences are excluding essential themes in their reckoning.
In scientific thought we are cut off, reduced beings: There are no
values, no faith, no happiness, no love; our organism only quantitatively
differs from an animal or a machine!
On closer examination the natural sciences are not doing very much
better than spiritual ones. In practical research they do not follow
those severe rules either, they do not obey their own postulates.
Perhaps judging science by their own fruits - like the atomic bomb,
the pollution of the environment – isn't fair. One serious objection,
however, cannot be refuted: science’s causal-materialistic thinking
cannot shed the past. In science's thought principally a change for
the better is not possible, there is no chance of a fundamental evolutionary
leap (at this point Darwin fails).
Furthermore, ordinary people (and scientists) do not realise that
because of the findings of quantum physics, the material
world is no longer existing in its former simplicity and definiteness.
Things are not as stable and secure as they seemed to be. Nuclear
particles flee from being grasped, the borderline of matter and energy
proves a fluent continuum, everything is connected with everything
else. A researcher and the object he is studying obviously do interact;
they are not independent of one another, there is no spatial seperateness
(Note: We should distinguish science from the precious mental skill
lying underneath, the latter being quite an important development
of the collective consciousness. The attitude of exploring and questioning
is pretty much “up-to-date” - a necessary precondition
of what we call the conscious “I”. Criticism and scepticism
overcame the naive belief in the gods; the gift of checking and testing
eliminated our mental dependence, our captivity in myths and mysticism.
These great capabilities should fertilise the spiritual sciences,
too. The modes of exactly observing and differentiating, of analysing
and abstracting could also be used in order to recognise regularities
and uniformities on the metaphysical planes. Instead of carelessly
destroying every sense and wholeness, modern man should utilise his
exacting mind in a more constructive way. Instead of ignoring or denying
the mere existence of immaterial spheres, our talent of rationality
could also thoroughly examine the different spiritual objects’
particularities. (Isn’t it time for the “I” to become
an adult self, and cease behaving like a childish ego?))
Today statistics are being recognised as science’s
main criteria. People - positivistically or naively - believe that
a theory may be verified or refuted by means of probability. Yet,
upon closer inspection we realise statistics to be just another kind
of accumulation or (non-compelling) hint. Nothing is said about the
how and why of the correlations found: what does a specific connection
look like, what causes should we seek behind the phenomena observed?
By definition, a “significant result” can never be a hypothesis’
absolute proof; in statistics any statement is only true to a specific
degree. You cannot exclude alternative hypotheses; there may even
exist totally different or previously unconsidered relationships;
so the epistemological value of statistics is null and void. Forget
their cogency and validity. (On a statistical basis researchers are
only allowed to state that “certain tendencies exist”...)
Human sciences are confronted with these fundamental questions: “Is
there any possible quantification of individual peculiarities? Are
anonymous, bare figures able to grasp a human being’s uniqueness?
Can the psyche be operationalised (measured) in a way that does not
distort the essence?” Regarding astrology, every statistical
test has to reduce symbolic width and fullness. The symbols‘
characteristic complexity and wholeness is lost as well as the personal
context which is its reference and which is so important when we are
dealing with existential topics like death or healing. In fact, the
effects shown by statistical tests are minimal, even Gauquelin’s
results are not at all convincing.
In any case, the idea of cosmic chance governing the world is opposed
to astrological axioms. “God doesn’t roll dice”,
Einstein said. Statistics are based upon the supposition of accidental
distributions; every act of testing implicitly maintains the concept
of a chaotic universe... That is why we should not expect from that
corner any statement supporting astrology. Figuratively speaking,
a nihilistic devil would do anything but prove God’s existence!
Sometimes the sidereal zodiac is made use of by astrology's
opponents in order to point out that the “star-gazers”
are totally wrong. In the eyes of astronomers and other scientists
they still adhere to a zodiac which is already 2,000 years out of
date; the actual zodiac having shifted almost by a complete sign.
How can astrologers reply to this? Firstly, the argumentation is caught
in the trap of concretism, i.e. equating or confounding the symbols
with the stars. Secondly, the astrological (tropical) zodiac is referring
to the ecliptic (the sun-earth relationship). (A planet’s position
“line-of-sight” can also be neglected. The ancient astrologers
had been quite aware of a fixed star’s declination or deviation
from the ecliptic. Bare appearance, the so-called “true position”
was felt to be irrelevant; astrological interpretation has always
been based on a celestial body’s projection onto an ecliptic
degree; the latter being the most important factor - the earth’s
orbit or ecliptic circle quasi mediating the diverse cosmic energies.)
Precession and the speculations surrounding the Aquarian age only
have meaning on a very large scale. In ordinary astrology (the kind
of astrology used in daily practical work) zero degrees Aries will
always be identical with the spring equinox; zero degrees Capricorn
with Christmas time or the winter solstice, and so on. The tropical
zodiac is a purely geometric construction: a division of the sun’s
(or earth’s) annual path into twelve equal parts, twelve ideal
(not real) sectors of exactly thirty degrees. Essentially, astrology
is a mathematical model of reality; its system is a kind of refined
abstraction. In this mental conception, the factual, concrete sky
is secondary. Astronomical insignificance is most evident in the different
methods of directions and progressions. Also, the house systems used
do not need any stars because they are derived from the earth’s
rotation. In a similar way to the zodiac which is based on arithmetic
considerations of the earth’s annual movement, house systems
are distilled out of the earth’s daily rhythm. (The four quarters/
quadrants and twelve houses are not symmetrical because of differing
length of days caused by the inclination of the earth‘s axis.
This is probably why, for ideal reasons, we should use equal houses.)
Mathematical proportions, symmetries and harmonics are all decisive
in the cosmic order - as Kepler pointed out in his magnum opus “harmonices
mundi” (wherein he extensively examined the area of astrological
harmonies or aspects).
The event oriented Babylonian astrology did value all the bright fixed
stars - especially when their ecliptic position was close to a planet
or horoscopic axis. However, in the beginning of astrology the astronomical
signs of the zodiac did not play an important role. Celestial patterns
showed great differences in size anyway (none of them were exactly
thirty degrees in length). They were considerably remote from the
ecliptic belt, and their number was far beyond the archetypal twelve...
Probably, because of their gigantic distance, the fixed stars went
out of fashion. The planets are our next neighbors and therefore they
became the most meaningful factors in interpretation. The fixed stars
(of the signs, too) in most cases belong to distant parts of the galaxy;
moreover, each sign’s composition is extremely inhomogeneous.
The solar system, on the other hand, is a compact model, a concise
framework that a science can best work with.
Strictly speaking, all the constellations the ancients could discern
in the skies were pure projections. To a more critical (or
more imaginative) person the heavens would reveal completely different
forms and figures. By recognising the zodiacal signs, human perception
is connecting the star clusters’ scattered points to a whole
- this mental construction process being directed by the unconscious
(quite similar to the mechanisms we notice in psychology’s widely
used projective tests). Our ancestors believed they saw angelic or
animal beings in the sky which in actuality originated from the depths
of their souls (from the collective unconscious). The legends and
myths of pre-civilised cultures were expressions of creation’s
different phases and energies. The zodiac was thought to be another
manifestation of the primordial principles: The ancients felt that
the cosmos was populated by all the transcendental powers which ruled
life. They painted their firmament in archetypal colors!
Quite a number of astrologers have been influenced by the prevailing
materialism. This has lead them to the belief that the planets operate
in a similar way to electric radiators whose physical rays will be
proven in the future by science. Such astrologers are regarding the
“astrological factor” as one among many. They think heredity,
environment and education should also be taken into account... Yet,
this view erodes our paradigm’s stable fundaments, ripping off
symbolic multiple layers and wholeness! Whoever speaks of “the
stars’ influence” implicitly belongs to the hostile scientific
camp, whose position is diametrically opposed to astrology (the latter
dealing with the software, the hardware being pretty irrelevant).
Cosmic radiation may exist, but this energy can only be registered
in a very crude, non-specific way - hence in our search for a person’s
individuality we may neglect it. H. Kloeckler (German astrology’s
classic) remarked: “Surely there is an abundance of relations
between cosmos and earth. But, sunspots, influences of the moon, etc.
are absolutely insufficient for establishing any astrological connection.
From physical objects only physical effects or things physically explicable
can arise. Physical reality cannot explain anything emotional or spiritual;
the (fragmented) material world is not the cause of inner meaning
or ethical values. Today astrology’s possibilities are generally
negated. Yet, this is only science’s fault - for inexplicability
does not fundamentally mean any refutation of realities!”
In our view, that kind of astrological reasoning is absurd. A soul’s
characteristic features, its delicate qualities and complicated emotions
cannot be impregnated or injected at birth. We are not a raw CD to
be burnt and filled with all the input necessary in a flash!
Let the poor results of academic psychology’s research be a
warning to serious astrologers: the material correlates found by now
have not been of any real help in diagnosing a person’s inner
state. For example, the patterns of EEG or REM recordings (indicating
brain currents or eye-movements, resp.) are pretty undifferentiated.
The measurements do not allow for any conclusions with regard to a
thought’s or a dream’s contents. Brain physiologists were
not successful, either: their famous localisation theory (linking
the brain’s regions with certain mental functions) finally reached
a dead end. Human consciousness’ phenomena are too complex to
be registered or even explained in a mere quantitative way!
Conclusion: Astrological mechanisms of functioning will probably remain
mysterious forever. Yet, a final scientific explanation for
electricity, gravitation or magnetism, does not exist either - which
has not stopped anyone from harnessing these energies. Astrological
symbols presumably refer to psychic (i.e. primarily unconscious) contents.
Their link to the physical plane is an indirect one (via the psyche).
The mechanisms of the stars may be seen as essentially “projective”
or “magical”. Astrology’s mystery is to be found
at the crossroads between the internal and external world, where spirit
and matter, character and destiny meet... Or, should we again assume
that personified powers are existing both within man and the planets,
like people did in the Middle Ages, in the Cabbalah (calling them
angels)? In Jungian psychology such “mystical radiation theory”
would even make sense. Yet, renouncing any belief in “influences”
is the more honest decision. Talking about “analogies”
instead of phantastic, nebulous “causes” is the more modest
and sound (i.e. scientifically acceptable) way. Pragmatically, we
should use astrology as another instrument of profound knowledge (this
is miraculous enough).
Contrasting other mantian systems and oracles the wisdom of the stars
has one inestimable advantage: its unequivocal empirics. The interpretation’s
factual basis is exactly observable, calculable and - most important
of all - in no way depending on the interpreter. Moreover, astrology’s
system of categories is the most differentiated (complex, multi-dimensional)
we know. In comparison, academic psychology’s models and typologies
are primitve and simple. We can of course decipher a specific time’s
quality (i.e. the constellations’ message) by many methods and
instruments. (So, in principle, though paradoxically sounding, “astrology
does not need the stars”.) For example, you might gain deep
insights into an individual’s personality, karma and dharma
by intuition or channeling, without making that detour of arithmetic
and reasoning... However, those short-cuts or direct glimpses ‘behind
the curtain’ have several serious disadvantages: they are unsystematic,
difficult to repeat, hardly controllable and verifiable - i.e., they
are not at all satisfying to a modern, critical mind.
(written in 1996)