What is the cause of effect of astrology,
what is its way of functioning? On which mental - or physical - or psychological
mechanisms is it grounded? Why do statistical tests to prove it always
My thesis of astrology as being primarily of a subjective and projective
nature may sound provocative. Yet, in the following I list a series of
points or hints to epistemologically support this.
A. SUBJECTIVITY AND INDIVIDUALITY
In astrology the Planets and the Zodiac signs have always
been related to the Earth . Historically, in astronomy the Wittenbergians
(Melanchthon et al) were the first advocates of Heliocentrism, because
they were discontented with the existing bad ephemerides. But when they
interpreted a birth chart astrologically they didn't obey the Copernican
paradigm shift (later Kepler didn't, either). Earth kept on being used
as the astrologers' point of reference; it remained in the centre of their
experiental view of the world. In astrology's explicitly geocentric point
of view the sun still rises in the morning and sets in the evening, the
sky still goes round the earth - just according to subjective impression.
For Western astrology's Tropical classification of the Zodiac signs only
the Earth's ecliptic positions are relevant (the equinoxes, solstices,
etc. are derived from the sun-earth-relationship) - the "objective"
(Sidereal) coordinates of the Fixed Stars are not considered.
All the astrological schools' different house systems are
related to the exact terrestrial location where the event or birth investigated
took place. Though the cusps of the succedent and cadent houses differ
from one system to another, the main axes are the same (horizontally:
Ascendant vs. Descendant, vertically: Medium Coeli vs. Imum Coeli). In
any case, the observer's visual angle is a local one, astrology's point
of reference is regionally specific. Whatever house system you prefer,
the planets' placement into the houses depends on the exact spot on earth's
surface, where the event in question actually did or does happen...
3. Psychological congenialities
Astrology's statements aren't factual, they aren't - scientifically,
"objectively" - measurable. Astrology's symbols are describing
an inner reality, an inner view of the world - i.e., as we individually
see and experience things.
Speaking mythologically, it isn't so important to the gods of fate, whether
they get an active or passive realisation of a constellation. It's an
event's psychic value, its subjective and emotional contents that count
- not its outer, concrete, physical reality. We shouldn't understand astrology
and its messages in a literal way - but symbolically (the Greek word sym-ballein
meaning 'putting things together', i.e. connecting the conscious and the
A chart's main message is about an individual's particular view of the
world; in the first place it's telling us about his specific thoughts
and feelings - a birth chart is not directly telling us what this person
actually is doing or how somebody else is seeing him . This is why astrology's
psychological statements are so often felt to be true, whereas its prognostic
(event-related) ones usually fail. Planetary transits aren't objective
in a factual sense, either: Even if connected with some outer incident,
transits only indicate the occurrence's subjective meaning to the person
affected; they are more like 'companions', not the 'causes' of a potential
B. SENSE AND MEANING
(some mythological implications and methodological consequences)
1. Astrology as individual mythology
a. The modern philosophy of constructivism
puts the subjective perspective this way: every person builds his own
reality or specific image of the world. We don't "discover"
all the things existing outside, but our mind and perception actively
This view of human consciousness doesn't deny the outer world's givenness;
yet, the emphasis is on the single person's "subjective" observations
and interpretations of the data received. Thus, an individual "cosmos"
(conception of the world) needn't be "true" in a scientific,
"objective" sense; it might just have been imagined or heard
b. Myths are narrations of old; they are deeply moving
stories and teachings full of sense and meaning, telling us the purpose
and themes of our earthly life. Astrology actually is an extensive mythology
- just think of the dominant role the planets, which are named after Greek
gods after all, play in it. In view of hermeneutics, the star signs and
the planets are bearers or concentrates of meaning; they aren't effective
by themselves (as heavenly bodies), but by way of the meaning attributed
to them as symbols. So, consequently we ourselves have given the starry
sky its significance. It's not the so-called real and factual that counts
in astrology's narratives - but the contents perceived and ascribed to
the constellations. (Note: In the Eastern traditions of India and China
these astrological attributions were quite different; basically, every
culture developed an astrology of its own - one that worked best for its
particular needs and desires.)
2. Relevancy of sense
Astrology classically is a tool to find out about one's fate and destiny.
There is no way of realizing any truth - however subjective, temporarily
valid or "constructed" - in an individual's chart without consideration
of existential themes. Questions concerning the "why" and "wherefore"
are the main reasons for a client to see an astrologer; these people feel
lost in their lives, they are searching for an orientation. In summary,
teleological themes are intricately woven into astrology's fabric.
That's why astrology's statistics -
whose "significances" don't consider this central point - regularly
In the modern psychological-astrological view the symbols used are like
traffic-lights or signposts - indicating where a person should go to,
which kind of quality has to be developed by him at a certain moment of
time. For this qualitative perspective science's quantitative and measuring
methods of "validation" are simply inadequate. They basically
belong to a different paradigm, laying no importance on sense or values
(scrutinizing the hardware instead of the software)...
Normally, the people involved get neither a feedback nor an answer to
their fundamental questions about life. In this destinational regard,
the whole "scientifc" procedures are irrelevant. In Fortune's
eyes, those legitimizing astro-tests are just a shallow amusement of narrow-gauge
sceptics maniacal for superficial "proofs" (the ancient goddess
Fortuna not being bothered with this type of ego-game). With a statistical
validation there is neither room for 'higher realities' nor for the metaphysics
or finalities. There is also no space for an astrologer's intuition and
holistic perception. Moreover, in the huge quantities of data processed
by a statistician, all singularities and peculiarities - which comprise
the world in astrology's view - are systematically annihilated. And the
more data the researcher can collect, i.e. the more he is able to exclude
and eliminate individuality, the higher is his scientific esteem.
Statistics inevitably reduce the astrological symbols' width and fullness.
Their characteristic complexity and wholeness gets lost as well as the
personal context which is their point of reference and which is so important
when we are dealing with existential topics like death or healing. In
any case, the idea of cosmic chance governing the world is contradictory
to astrology's axioms. Einstein said “God doesn’t roll dice”.
Statistics are based upon the supposition of accidental distributions
everywhere, upon the concept of a fundamentally senseless and Darwinistic
universe. Every act of statistical testing is implicitly grounded on this
paradigmatic idea of a chaotic cosmos - that's why, by the way, astrologers
should not expect any supporting statement from that corner ...
Goethe put it this way: "A fact is only important, if it has meaning..."
And Carl Jung remarked: "The statistical method is based on the presupposition
of the existence of continuous and uniform objects. Yet, the phenomenon
of synchronicity" - hence, we say, the birth chart and its meaning
- "is a qualified, individual effect, which is ruined by statistical
Jung's theory of synchronicity provides an explanation
of astrology's way of functioning: "Synchronicity" is a non-causal
principle, mainly based on simultaneity and sense. In this concept of
an Unus Mundus (One World) all the events happening at the same time are
seen as interrelated; persons and events including planetary constellations
occurring simultaneously are seen to be spiritually connected to one another.
In this view, a being's character and destiny is "reflected"
not caused by the stars, especially in the decisive moment of its beginning/
birth; there is an inner correspondence or coincidence between the "Above"
and the "Below". In this oracular view astrology's language
is essentially a coding of time's metaphysical quality or contents; its
symbols are ciphers of the peculiarities of a specific moment.
3. Truth and objectivity
On closer examination, astrology is not a natural science but a metaphysical
or spiritual one. In it sense and meaning are crucial. Now, finding or
characterizing an event's or person's specific sense is essentially an
inter-subjective act; attributing mythological features to an individual
or to the circumstances encountered by him is intricately interwoven with
his social context. The meaning of astrology's symbols has originally
been determined in a collective or communal way. In the counselling setting
this meaning is "found again" or revitalized, the "sky's
semiotics" (Ertel) are decoded by way of communication; the constellations'
contents get "reconstructed" (Schlegel) during the counselling
dialogue. In their discourse the astrologer and the chart's owner discuss
and finally agree upon the exact inner meaning of the topic in question,
i.e. the genotype or archetype lying behind a characteristic behavior
or some outer event (the phenotype) discussed. By way of amplification,
in oscillating between the symbols' abstract and their concrete levels,
a person's or situation's subjective truth gradually becomes illuminated
and clear. In this view of a meaning-permeated cosmos, astrology is pretty
close to the humanities (the fine arts of literature, history, etc.),
especially to hermeneutics and phenomenology . A hundred
years ago, Wilhelm Dilthey used the terms "explaining" vs. "comprehending"
in order to tell the difference between the natural and the humane sciences:
"we explain nature, yet the soul has to be comprehended..."
It was his conviction that only idiographic methods such as case studies,
which are oriented toward the particular individual, are really able to
grasp a human being's peculiarities; a nomothetic (natural) science (searching
for universal laws) or a statistical approach can't achieve that. In historical
biographies and in literature primarily the unique and special aspects
of human beings are sought for and analysed. Only in the final steps of
such research processes all the "subjectivities" get generalized.
Contrary to the natural sciences, in the humanities the object of study
also needs some inner involvement of the scientist. Epistemologically,
just holding back your feelings during the processes going on isn't productive
there at all. In order to proceed in comprehending his object, the researcher
must permit himself personally to be moved and touched, especially regarding
his own faults and weaknesses; he shouldn't stay totally reserved ("neutral")
all the time. The Italian occultist Evola put it this way: "From
the point of view of initiation, to know something doesn't just mean to
think intellectually about an object outside - but to really existentially
be it. Thus every act of knowing becomes an act of experiencing;
there is no academic knowledge apart from being..."
The philosophical schools or metaphysical disciplines of phenomenology
(Husserl), hermeneutics (Dilthey) and astrology are handling
subjective emotional complexes of human beings emphatically - in order
finally to transcend them, in order to extract their inner sense and meaning.
In these arts the scientist tries to find himself in his object - the
natural sciences' distant and sterile attitude there being inadequate.
Consequently, astrology's instance of validation has to be the result
of dialogue and agreement between the people involved (cf. Lockowandt)
one; the interpretative discourse or communicative process between the
researcher (subject) and his research object is central and significant
to this way of finding the truth.
But what about classical objectivity? Are the natural
sciences really objective at all? Can't we somehow rehabilitate subjectvity?
Ultimately every act of knowing is a subjective one, as Kant
found out; there is no direct access to objectivity. Every so-called objective
thing is constituted by subjects, there is no object without a subject
(realizing it). So true objectivity is an illusion, an impossible thing.
When we perceive something, our act of perception is based upon a field
of givenness and evidence that is presupposed but not investigated by
the positivist sciences. Thus in a certain sense we generate an "object"
by way of our "knowing" or remembering similar things. Even
when we are using measuring instruments, the observer's capability of
interpreting the "facts" is needed; in observing things we always
see them in the light of already existing thought structures and guidelines.
What science somewhat bombastically calls "objectivity", is
usually just an "inter-subjectivity", i.e.some kind of agreement
of the scientific community on how the empirical data (the "facts")
given should be interpreted, some sort of mixture or making an average
of individual subjectivities... In science every observation or factuality
is mediated, too; all empirical materials basically are manufactured by
the hypotheses put forward - and always judged and validated in the light
of existing theories.
Even Einstein emphasized the primacy of theory over the empirics: "It's
your theory that is deciding what you are able to observe..." Quantum
physics and the problem of locality show that on the border of science,
where the frontiers of time and space are blurred, you can't totally separate
the observer and the observed. The Cartesian divide between matter and
spirit (res cogitans vs. res extensa), the methodological
split between the subject (the investigator or setting) and the object
(the examined) there cannot be maintained any longer, the tight classical
causal-mechanistic categories have been overcome. In the end, even modern
physics are only able to control and standardize human subjectivity -
they can't extinguish it...
A dictum of Schopenhauer goes: "The outside world is in the same
way subjective as the inside world. For it's because of his fundamental
and comprehensive unity and identity with nature and cosmos that man is
able to realize things"...
refers to Plato's ancient idea of an anima mundi (world
soul). In this concept there exists an inner connectedness of all created
beings on the soul level. Two thousand years after Plato Kepler still
used this medium or fluidum in explaining astrology's efficacy: "Man
possesses an innate harmonious instinct. By this he senses (subconsciously)
a square, trine, etc..."
So: Isn't any objectivity possible in astrology? In the humanities, in
philosophy and in psychology they sometimes talk of an "objective
spirit" (cf. Dilthey and Spranger; the term was originally coined
by Hegel). This "objective spirit" consists of the human mind's
overall, general categories or constants - comparable to Plato's universal
ideas and Jung's archetypes of the collective unconscious (which, by the
way, were called by him "objective psyche"). Now, according
to Plato every act of knowing actually is an act of remembering; Consequently,
the spiritual sciences in their enquiries try to find again the relevant
abstract (metaphysical) structures and contents behind the facts visible.
They are searching for the hidden patterns and regularities (the "objective")
behind the phenomena observed, tracing a concrete personal manifestation
back to "eternal" ideas. The difference between this type of
objectivity and the one pursued in the natural sciences is that it never
loses contact with its roots, its starting point. The spiritual sciences
don't deny their living, human, subjective point of reference...
In a similar manner in astrology's art of interpretation there is no other
way than starting with the biographical, i.e. the individual, subjective
facts given. Anything suprapersonal or "eternal" can only be
reached by gradually encircling a specific problem or topic. Yet, guided
by the analogies and associations rising, in this procedure things successively
become clearer. A person's or situation's subjective elements gradually
are transcended: by way of the astrologer's patiently and continuously
alternating the abstract (symbolic) level with the one of physical manifestation.
This is how in the counselling situation so-called "subjective evidence"
is taking place: the chart's owner feels struck or "hit" by
the astrologer's words, he feels recognized, understood and supported
- because some "higher" element of his personal meaning and
destination has been touched, because the client's specific themes have
been placed into some greater, more comprehensive, archetypal context.
What does astrology itself say to the issue of subjectivity vs. objectivity?
Immanent in astrology, there is a dialectical relationship or polarity
between Quadrant Two (mundanely Cancer, Moon, etc./ the "subjective")
and Quadrant Four (Capricorn, Saturn, etc./ the "objective").
Temporarily concentrating on the subjective mode of consciousness (of
feelings, emotions, and so on) doesn't mean that this more or less arbitrary
condition will permanently be so. Not at all; in astrology's model of
the world subjectivity is a fundamentally indispensable, yet in the end
transient mode of being. The astrologer Doebereiner says a lot about the
necessity of intensively "living-through" the present time (of
Quadrant Two) in order to arrive successfully at the truth or universal
validity of Quadrant Four. You have to struggle painfully - before you
finally overcome all your worries and personal involvements; only then
can you tear yourself away from the inner world and reach the realm of
In Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology man's subjectivity functions
as kind of a sluice to objectivity, too. In Rogers' or Gendlin's attention
to feelings, in Gestalt therapy, in Grof''s katharthic Holotropic Breathing,
etc. you have to trespass your "inner hell", so to speak; in
a catalytic way you have to confront yourself with your drives and needs,
your yearnings and addictions - in order ultimately to get some distance
from them, to abstract from them and become potentially free and "objective".
The inner "truths" found thereafter are always the result of
intensive experiences lived through. Consequently, all the practical methods
of Transpersonal and Analytical (Jungian) Psychology start with the person's
inner world; subjectivity is their entrance gate. Yet, in the psychodynamic
processes taking place, by concentrating on a client's subjective emotions
finally archetypal, "objective" truths are reached! Only by
penetrating an emotional problem or burden in depth can some kind of transcendency
or the "self" be realized...
The same is true for an astrological interpretation: Before we can reach
any objective level, we must first "dive" into subjectivity;
at the beginning of every counselling we have to do a thorough anamnesis,
we have to gain an impression of the main facts and memories of the individual's
biography. Only by intensively and emphatically going into the subjective
details we can 'transfigure' them, i.e. put them into the context of the
person's superior myth.
Projection is a psychoanalytic term. It means unconsciously viewing parts
of your own soul on the "screen" of the outside world, i.e.
you perceive them embodied in other persons. The proceedings can be compared
to a slide projector - which shows pictures from your own psyche! A typical
feature of a projection taking place is the blindness towards one's own
personal characteristics, which are obvious to other people, though: you
look at a mote in another's eye, but don't notice the log that is in your
In his late years Carl Jung explained astrology's mechanism of functioning
this way, as being primarily based on projections: in the constellations,
the planets, etc. we'd "see" contents of the soul, as it were.
"The signs of the Zodiac are mythological creations of man; he gave
them their names... Leo, for example, doesn't look like a lion, but it
was called so by man because of the sun's devastating effect during this
time of the year." He also said that it's typical of projections
that people project what is close to them onto something far distant such
as the stars.
2. Archetypes (what is being projected?)
The ancients 'painted' their inner processes and mythological figures
on the starry sky, so to say. They saw primordial images of the world
soul, in Plato's terminology 'the first principles', on the firmament
- images that originally descended from the collective psyche. Actually,
by recognizing the zodiacal signs human perception (geocentrically) is
connecting the star clusters' scattered points to a whole - this grouping
or mental construction process being directed by the unconscious. Our
ancestors believed they'd see angelic or animal beings in the sky - which,
from a modern, psychological viewpoint, originated from the depths of
their souls. Though all the stories and tales about the stars created
by the different cultures on earth may be called illusionary and pure
products of fantasy, the energies and contents sensed out there basically
do exist; they are quite real - as factors of the individual soul and
the world soul; for you can only project something onto outside beings
that already exists inwardly ...
In his research about myths and dreams Carl Jung found out that we have
the same primordial patterns of experiencing and behavior all over the
world. He called these fundamental psychic principles "archetypes":
powerful collective images, which are basic to all "subjective"
manifestations. (Another term of his was "objective psyche"
- comparable to Hegel's "objective spirit"...) According to
Jung, the archetypes are the constituting instincts or "organs"
of the human soul; they organize our inner life. Because of them all the
basic emotional processes and dynamics are almost identical from one individual
to another and are taking place in a specific sequence.
To the single person or the ego the archetypes seem to be beings independent
from him; they can be fascinating, instructing or frightening - like gods.
They are polar (good and bad), changing, manifold and ambiguous. Epistemologically,
the archetypes are more like empty forms which yet have to be filled with
actual contents and life by the individual in a concrete situation. Quite
similar to the astrological principles, they are mediated and grasped
by human consciousness in the form of symbols - which, if they
are living and true, will always set something in motion, i.e. have a
catalyzing effect within our souls, transform our libido.
To summarize: In the view of Depth Psychology the planets and zodiacal
signs are archetypes, i.e. universal factors or determinants of the psyche
- existing in all cultures such as the "hero" and the "trickster"
under different names.
3. Kepler and the archetype
Three hundred years before Jung it was Johannes Kepler, who already used
the term "archetype" in a truly astrological sense. To him an
inter-planetary geometry or constellation's archetype was sort of a 'resonance
pattern', a pre-existing disposition in every man, reflecting the current
vibrations or harmonies of the world (mundus). Standing in a Pythagorean
and Neo-Platonic tradition, he saw "God's thoughts" or the primordial
ideas, i.e. numbers, proportions and geometries, realized and active in
all creation, especially in man - who had been created according to God's
image, after all. Kepler explained the mode of functioning of the stars
in the individual via the unconscious; this he did long before Freud or
Jung's theory of synchronicity. According to him, the cosmic harmonies
would be sensed "without any reasoning" ("sine rationatione");
things on earth would react in parallelism or synchronously to the stellar
configurations , i.e. instinctively, via innate instincts, not causally
(mechanistically). Similar to Jung, he conceived the archetype to be kind
of an 'empty container' or scheme - which finally had to be filled by
the indivdual person with substantial things. He advocated: "Astrology
isn't dealing with 'particularia' (specific, concrete objects), but with
'generalia' (abstract categories, typifications)." That's why he
thought 'specifica' so difficult to prognose and why in his birth charts
he preferred psychological descriptions...
The term "archetype" is originally a Hellenistic or Gnostic
notion. To Paracelsus, the "archaeus" was the Earth's creative
spiritual centre, its spirit and soul. Kepler was the first to use it
in a modern, psychological context. So psychological astrologers of today
needn't be followers of Carl Jung, but in talking about "astrological
archetypes" they are justified in refering to the pioneer of modern
4. Usage of astrological symbols outside the birth chart
Remarkably, in chirology we find astrology's symbols written into our
hands. In the art of palmistry the psycho-physical meaning of the planets
has been detached from their ecliptic positions. Here the planetary energies
are features, factors of character and destiny totally independent of
the ephemeris - though their interpretations and meanings are pretty identical
with those of an astrologer.
When they laboured with matter and its changes, the medieval alchemists
- according to Jung, early practical psychologists, who unconsciously
projected their inner processes into the retort - also used astrological
terms. They formulated their psychic experiences, the chemical transformations
they "watched" outside and the emotions they went through inwardly,
in astrological words - similar to those expressed by the stargazers,
but without any astrologer's instrument or telescope!
c. Astrologers' idioms
Among themselves, astrologers have a very special language. They say
something 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 indicates that the planets are ciphers of certain
emotional objects and contents.
d. Taoist Inner Astrology
In "The Night Sky" Richard Grossinger quotes an ancient Chinese
source: "The sage Shih K’uang recommends this technique to
his emperor P’ing: 'When it is clouded, the stargazer... can find
the stars by pressing his fingers on his eyes and joggling them - until
the 'stars' appear. Yet, this way we don't have an arbitrary, different
sky; for oracular purposes it's the same (and relevant) sky as always..."
e. Astro Dice
The astrology dice - three dodecahedron dice, their faces depicting signs,
houses and planets (plus nodes) - are a popular modern method of divination.
Instead of drawing Tarot cards, throwing I Ching coins/ dividing yarrow
stalks or casting runes, you also can take astrological symbols in order
to 'read' the moment or receive an answer to an urgent question.
Thus, all oracular methods are based on time's quality, the reader's
intuition and his receptivity to the moment's inherent specific meaning.
f. Horary Astrology
A horary consultation is an oracular technique, in which the relevant
chart is cast for the moment the astrologer is asked a question by the
questioner. In the answer obtained the planets, signs and houses are indiicators
of different areas of life, the motives of the questioner, the resources
available, the persons involved, etc.
In this conception of a "moment's quality"
the time passing by is seen as being full of meaning. Time is not - in
the banal, scientific sense - just a clock ticking indifferently. And
astrology's code tries to decipher the sound of the cosmic belll...
g. Historical Origin: The Liver-Oracle
historian Jack Lindsay pointed out that the earliest astrology did not
have any astronomical basis. He found out that the Mesopotamian liver-oracle
actually was the predecessor of the modern horoscope-technique.
In their ritual the ancients scrutinized the liver of a recently killed
lamb with regard to 'divine omina'. Interestingly, long before the Hellenistic
chart model, they especially considered the four quadrants - a concept
and system that later was adopted by the stargazers. In this divination
of a liver its East corresponded to the Ascendant, its West to the Descendant
- and was interpreted quite similarly to today's astrology! And the liver's
hills and valleys were named after stars - without any glance of the priests
to the real sky...
5. The chart: a model
Astrology's horoscope technique is an abstract, idealized model of the
astronomical situation. The chart is not a realistic, true reflection
of the firmament; it's not a literal copy but sort of a typification,
some stylized image of the heavenly conditions. E.g., in this man-made
picture all the planets and stars are related to the ecliptic - their
factual declination or latitude (their 'true' position) doesn't really
matter. And the ecliptic is not depicted as an ellipse, but as a perfect
Platonic circle. Criteria like geometrical proportion, symmetry and harmony
are decisive in astrology's system, as laid out by Kepler in "harmonices
mundi". In this system for aesthetical and theoretical reasons the
sun's annual path has been divided into twelve equal - ideal, not real
- parts of exactly thirty degrees (by the way, the same happens in Indian
astrology with the Fixed stars' oriented Sidereal zodiac). Similarly the
earth's rotation has been dealt with: every day is seen as consisting
of twelve phases or houses. The house cusps and the planetary nodes are
imaginary points of intersection; they don't have any material background.
The widely used methods of directions, progressions, solars, etc. also
don't have an astronomical basis. Some of them even work backwards in
time; scientific or physical substantiality doesn't really count - in
contrast to symbolic truth...
In astrology's model heaven's constellations are just the starting point
of the theoretical reasonings. In it a cause of effect immanent in the
stars isn't necessary; it's all based on principles like "as above,
so below" (on correspondences or analogies), as well as the central
axioms of "quality of time" and the "quality of numbers".
It's a system invented and refined over the centuries by man in order
to understand himself and his world better.
D. ASTROLOGY: A TRADITIONAL, HUMANISTICIC
There are many parallels between modern Humanistic Psychology, especially
between Maslow's concept of an "Inner Nature" or Jung's idea
of the "Self" as centre of the human personality, and the classical
philosophy of Humanism.
his early letters Marsilio Ficino, the 15th century Florentine philosopher
and translator of Plato's writings, who was responsible for the revival
of Neo-Platonism, complained a lot about the negative effects of Saturn
- which in his birth chart was placed right on the Ascendant. Later he
fervently praised the "great malefic" in several volumes and
wrote a regular 'manual' of astro therapy (in "de vita triplici").
According to him, the outermost planet surely produced sort of a depression,
chronic sadness and solitude (a "melencholia generosa"), but
also supported patience and contemplation, wisdom and depth of thought
(and thus philosophy), mental clarity, brillance, geniality and concentration,
i.e. an excellent memory. In order to be healed, a melancholic person
therefore should either consciously turn towards Saturn's positive, spiritual
sides, getting away from worldly illusions, or cultivate the oppositional
qualities of Jupiter (cf. Duerer's Melencolia I).
Thus Ficino overcame the Arabian and medieval astrology's determenistic
thinking and advocated a constructive way to deal with Fate. He explained
that by willingly submitting to life's necessities you would get rid of
'daemon' Saturn's curse and be free again. Ficino didn't conceive the
astrological constellations as "the soul's prison" - but as
signposts to personal evolution. He wrote: "The sky is a sign of
many events, without being the cause." He saw several levels of Saturn's
possible realisation; and, by this fundamentally positive anthropology
of the leading Renaissance scholar, from then on human self-development
became one of astrology's main branches and purposes. The philosophers
after him even went further and stated: "Self-knowledge is the pre-condtion
and key to world-knowledge".
For the medical pioneer Theophrastus Paracelsus the soul was a "sidereal"
or "astral body" - with the planets as inner organs, similar
to the Indian chakras; an idea, which later influenced Theosophy and Anthroposophy.
According to him, man's sublime "star body" consisted of instincts,
animal drives, passions and emotions. Yet, this "inner firmament"
wasn't identical with the outer. In contrast to the street-astrologers'
causal thinking he saw the stars of the heaven just as outer 'hands' of
the inner 'clock'. In Paracelsus' opinion the sage or philosopher controlled
the stars - they had to follow him not the other way round: "The
stars of the microcosm rule over and govern the stars of heaven",
he said - a concept pretty close to Carl Jung's modern theory of synchronicity!
3. Cardano and Kepler
Pioneers of early modern science also widely used astrology's psychology,
though mainly in their private life. The Renaissance physician and scholar
Gerolamo Cardano wrote a famous autobiography predominantly based on his
birth chart; his words were used again by Goethe three hundred years later.
Cardano did an impressive in-depth study and analysis of his psyche, his
character and his feelings. In this venture to understand himself he actually
stood at the conscious beginning of the hermeneutical conception of a
horoscope's interpretation, i.e. its communicative or "narrative
construction of meaning" and its "formation of identity"
A hundred years after him, especially in his letters Johannes Kepler reflected
a lot about himself, too, on the basis of his horoscope. In his self-enquiry
he primarily found the planetary aspects to be very useful. To him they
symbolized adequately his moods, drives and needs. For that (psychological)
reason, like many scholars of his time, he also called a voluminous collection
of birth charts (containing one thousand horoscopes!) his own. Being sort
of a scientific pantheist, he thought the soul (anima) to be the connection
between man and the stars. In his philosophy he saw the universal and
individual soul as an all-permeating force and unifying factor of the
One World (Unus Mundus), as a link between spirit and matter.
Cornelius, Geoffrey, The Moment of Astrology, London, 1994
Lindsay, Jack, Origins of Astrology, London, 1971
Von Stuckrad, Kocku, History of Western Astrology: From Earliest Times
to the Present, London, 2005