The State of the Art

“When Jupiter burns in Cancer and Mercury is with it, the conditions of people will improve.”

This article isn’t for everyone. I’m assessing the state of astrology in the present. Much of what I have to say I have already expressed in other contexts. It is virtually impossible to write an article of this sought without offending anyone at all, but that is not my intent. I would be encouraged if the article were the impetus for a debate and self-examination in the astrological community regarding the state of the art of astrology. Realistically, though, those who are most likely to feel the need for that examination are not likely to read this article. I do hope that anyone looking to find authentic and professional services will find a compendium of what to look for and what to avoid,

Something I have tried to do consistently on this site is to elucidate classical and ancient astrology and its place in modernity. The reputation of authentic astrology is largely in tatters. There are however signs of resurgence not only of astrology but the spirituality, and mysticism, to which it has always been yoked. This is occurring in the renaissance of traditional western astrology, but I believe we still have much to learn from Persian and Indian astrology. This has become my current area of research.

We cannot ignore the larger context of the Age in which live. Robert Zoller describes it as well as anyone:

http://www.lunatica.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/SAA/Documents/Zoller/Archandpredabridged-2.htm

“During the Piscean Age, the benefic Jupiter ruled the angles. Jupiter ruled both Pisces on the 1st and Sagittarius on the 10th, and thus, while there was confusion of hierarchical religious institutions and political institutions and while this inevitably led to hypocrisy, the Age was nevertheless one in which truth and philosophy mattered to men. The Piscean Age will, as this Aquarian Age unfolds, be seen as a halcyon period of semi-respite from the essentially malefic and spiritually destructive nature of life. In the Aquarian Age, the malefics once again rule the angles and with them returns the natural severity of worldly life.

The Novus Ordo Saeculorum, the New Order of the Ages, will rule through the power of life and death (Scorpio, which is on the 10th), through behaviour modification, cloning, genetic engineering, mind control and the occult. Might makes right in this New Age. If the preceding Age produced metaphysical materialists, who duped the people through the opiate of religion, the New Age will produce materialist metaphysicians who will make the preceding political power elites look like inept apprentices.

In the Age of Aquarius, religion will be humanistic love of fairness and justice. While feeding the people with Libran platitudes, the Scorpionic rulers will work tirelessly toward the realization of their goal – absolute power over others, as Leo is seen in position on the 7th house. The will of the people will be towards freedom of expression (Aquarius), and they will be encouraged to do their own thing so that they keep their minds off what their rulers do.”

The modernity we know is the result of accelerated scientific advances and, extreme, fanatical forms of collective political movements, sometimes in the guise of liberalism. I have argued elsewhere that the China of Mao or Stalin’s USSR are akin to Nazi Party when it was rolled out as the National Socialist German Workers’ Party,  The power comes like an iron fist from a single leader who promises food, jobs, stability, equality, sometimes cars, reason to replace religion, an overweening sense of being the only possible path one should take.

The first thing these superstates do is to arrest and kill anyone considered an intellectual. Even possession of a typewriter and a few books meant a one way trip to the Gulag. This is because intellectuals are not only dangerous in undermining the State but are a category of the perceived “elite.” In Communism, they were called reactionaries. There can be no possibility of an opposing view. We like to think that we live in an age of freedom, but these freedoms are being not so slowly dismantled. These demonstrate a quintessentially Aquarian series of phenomena. We quickly learn the limits of free speech if we question the contemporary liberalism in the West, even though this secular liberalism is uncomfortably close to the extreme versions that we fought for most of the 20th Century. To survive in such a milieu, astrology must state its case clearly at the same time that it is seen to open other doors of perception to counter the scientific materialism that surrounds us and would define us. Considering all this, it’s amazing that it has survived at all. The fact that some of these states are now defunct, and have been for some time, doesn’t mean that the inherent ideologies have no effect on us. The so-called collectives we have in the 21st Century are mostly impersonal Corporate entities, devoid of ethics and in many cases even essential decency,

Hindu Calendar 1871-72.

The collective movements most famously of the 20th Century during the incursion of the Aquarian Age have for the most part been responsible for reducing the status of human beings to brainwashed drones, while the top of the pyramid or the center of the parties lives in opulence. This is essentially the global corporate model where impoverished people work in sweatshops to produces good that they could never afford. Aquarian Age collectivism is almost always fanatical.  The state of the art in astrology is not unconnected to the illusions of the Aquarian Age – things often look good even when they are the complete opposite. It has often interested me that those who don’t like my dystopian views of the Age are perfectly happy to call it the Kali Yuga. I would go further to say that not noting the character of different ages is spectacularly unscientific. The opposing axis is Leo, affirming the sense of self beyond the collective, but adding an essential egoism. This concords with Zoller’s description of the Age.

This contextual and practical examination is to a large extent a follow up from my recent article “On Earth, As It Is In Heaven.” The events, sensibilities, and zeitgeist of our times are underscored by what Robert Zoller referred to as The Novus Ordo SaeculorumAstrological practise cannot be entirely separated from how one views the world. Capitalism, for example, is much more than business. It is an entire matrix of consciousness. It includes virtual slave labour in sweatshops in the third world. Capitalism writ large is a boot in the face of the most vulnerable people on earth. That is a kind of evil in my view. The Lord of the Age is Saturn. There are New Age people who believe that light can and does exist without darkness, that things must always be sweet, even though they clearly are not. Scientific materialists are not likely to care much for astrology at all, but who has not been touched by it? Those who put a high value on ancient and traditional sources will take yet another view of the subject, and so it goes. The astrological category of prediction is a good case in point.

The question of prediction was raised in the previous article, in considering how the subject may best be explained and the work executed.  To clarify, it is fair to say that all forms of astrology are indeed to one extent or another predictive. It should be clear that predictions are made with a combination of specialized skill on the subject on the part of the astrologer and by techniques developed over the millennia, always separating the wheat from the chafe. The Nativity, for example, studies the chart as if it were a seed. Other forms are more obviously so, although there is no great qualitative difference. The song remains the same.

The astrologer must know many things before an accurate reading is realized. These include, in varying degrees, the physical, mental and spiritual elements that make up the native, For example, a knowledge of the humours allows for a reading that understands that a person with a strong melancholic humour will not react the same way as someone with a choleric one. There may be (and usually are) indications of potential health issues along the way. These and many other considerations help to give us a sound understanding of the vehicle in which the native is traveling in to navigate his or her world.

Mental states likely to manifest are equally important, not only for their own sake but for how they will likely affect how the world is seen and, in some cases, point to potentially serious problems such as depression. The spiritual element is far more subtle and should be approached with a feeling for what may be of the greatest assistance. The situation is substantially imptoved if the astrologer is able to know the native’s spiritual orientation. This is virtually impossible without some contact with the native, but New Age entrepreneurs claim to be able to do this by having you will fill out a short form online. Some claim to be able to determine your last incarnation. This is not even close to sound astrology and is really for entertainment purposes only. If that was the understanding, perhaps that wouldn’t be so bad. However, the querent is led to believe that they are getting the real thing

When we consider Mundane Astrology, we have a host of techniques; but frankly, one needs to know history, and usually geography and political movements.  Mundane is, of course, best known as a predictive branch of astrology, but just as families of Saros cycles have meaning to us in the present, so too do cultures work on a continuum.  In this respect, the prediction is Janus faced – looking backward as well as forward..Mundane astrology is challenging, but it doesn’t require multiple charts in bi-wheels, tri-wheels, Solar Returns compared to other progressions until one has a mass of data and no clarity.  This is particularly noticeable in political mundane astrology For reasons that remain partly mysterious to me, predictions on who will win a given election are wildly popular. You will also notice that it is the norm for there to be as many wrong predictions as accurate ones. This tells us that the flipping of a coin would be equally useful if our question is simply “who will win.”This fact offends hubris and so it should Humility is a crucial cohabitant of wisdom. One of the main culprits here is the speed at which we are expected to work during this age of massively accelerated technology. Nevertheless, that cannot excuse a self-interest that makes the clear reading of a chart an impossibility.

Make no mistake, we now live in an age where far more astrological charts are cast by the inept than the adept. This is almost entirely due to the incredible ease of using modern, sophisticated software programs, including free astrological calculation services available online.  It is not so long ago, that every chart was painstakingly calculated by hand. Nevertheless, having drawn up the chart, no matter how one does it, it requires interpretation and to do that effectively takes many years to develop. Learning the essential significance of a given planet, luminary or sign is the beginning. Learning how these interact with each other in a whole chart is perhaps the second step. Beyond that is how humankind and all of creation is interconnected, A neo-platonist would call us monads.

In my estimation, neither of these steps will be complete without a deep knowledge of the origins of this knowledge. Hermeneutics – A method or theory of interpretation – is an apt term in relation to the Art of Hermes. Hindus will say that the science of the stars was given at the time of creation and I’m not going to argue against that. Because most of human history has been transmitted orally, we cannot say with certainty when it began, or if in fact it always existed as part of being human – we do after all come from the stars – we are made of stardust. The oldest written work in the Indo European history is the Rig Veda, written in Sanskrit. The dates given for the creation of the text vary wildly. Some scholars suggest it was written circa 1500 BC.  Others have claimed that it likely dates back to the 8th C. BC, based on astronomical configurations recorded in the text. There is no doubt that the first sections of the Rig Veda are very old indeed, consisting or oral transmissions. from sage to sage. Today, there are many people calling themselves astrologers who have no interest whatsoever in where the science came from or what are the underlying principles.

Lunar phases in ‘Treatise of astronomy and computation’, in Turkish_translated from Persian, 1586-1600

The ancient world was far more connected than most people realize, As always, trade was the first cause of this. This brings China and the Silk Route into the fray very early on. However, the astrological tradition as we have known it benefitted from the close proximity of Persia to India. Persia, in turn, acts as a bridge to Babylon and Hellenistic world. Platonism and Neo-Platonism were crucial to the understanding of the metaphysics underpinning astrology. All of these cultures mixed freely in Alexandria. It is interesting to read Plotinus and see both Platonic thought and what looks like Hindu metaphysics. It is impossible to ignore the extraordinary similarities between Shiva and Dyonysis. The presence at the School of Alexandria was a crucible for numerous philosophical schools from throughout the Mediterranean, North Africa, Persia, India, Babylon, and the entire Middle East. There were Hellenized Jews, Stoics, Pythagoreans and all of these cultures had an intense interest in the Heaven and how they may be interpreted, Last but not least was the tradition of the Hermetica, also quite seamlessly a part of this nexus.

There is a healthy spirit of research into the earliest mentionings of the language of the stars. I believe that we are on the verge of new and powerful techniques that are also ancient. Much earlier than these philosophical systems we have the henge cultures of the Celts and cave drawings of Lascaux showing us that our earliest known ancestors watched the movement of the Heavens and organized their lives around constellations, the Lunar cycle and to a large extent, the cycle of Venus.

It is, therefore troubling that people calling themselves astrologers, more often than not. have very little skill and almost no understanding or interest in the underlying structure and philosophical underpinnings of the art.  The problem arises when the client is offered a vision of themselves that is divorced from the deeper wisdom potentially available in traditional readings. Again, we have a case of “I’m free to do whatever I want” with no real concern for the consequences. Considering the laws of nature is an antidote to that falsehood if observed.

All of the essential elements of authentic astrology are alive and derived from ancient sources – some say from the beginning of creation. Philosophies, such as Platonism and the Hermetica provide a special, sacred language to convey the subtleties and profundities that ordinary language may be found inadequate, For this and many other reasons, the underpinnings of astrology need to be studied in earnest

In the Aquarian Age, any mention of someone lacking adequate skill in anything might be cause for accusations of elitism. By the same logic, anyone with an avid interest in anatomy shouldn’t be prevented from performing any kind of surgery that strikes their fancy. Largely due to the internet, many people now claim to be astrologers who haven’t the faintest idea of on what astrology is based. Astrology has for the most part been reduced to the status of a parlor game. of essentially the same nature as newspaper Sun sign columns. If your chart isn’t saying what you want it to say, you can keep adding planets, asteroids, hypotheticals, centaurs, Priapus, the Black Sun, three Black Moons and a partridge in a pear tree. This is precisely what many modern astrologers do.

A King and a Monk (recto) Text (verso) Folio from the Uttaradhyayana Sutra said to be one of the final set of lectures given by Lord Mahavira before his liberation.

Astrology has also been weaponized by people who are willing to use every last asteroid to make their political case. The central issue is there for all to see. For every competent,  objective chart read, there are thousands that are neither competent nor even slightly objective. When one is in the position of assuming that anything can be anything in astrology, the art is easily abused and manipulated, becoming like a ventriloquist dummy, explaining every event as if in one’s own image. If one’s favored political choice lost, then the chart is portrayed as a trainwreck of malefic influences. If your candidate wins, the same chart might well be interpreted as the beginning of a golden age. It is true that some court astrologers in the past were subject to execution if they provided information the monarch wished not to hear, but these days incompetence. and political bias are among the usual culprits.

Jain Cosmic Diagram. Gujarat. Circa 1500.

The beginnings of astrology were focussed on timekeeping and providing a powerful means to wed heaven to earth, in the words of Pico della Mirandola. This is the core of “on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words, the primary purpose and nature of astrology is that of a celestial dialogue. But we look through a glass darkly and perfect knowledge is forever elusive. The most engaging astrologers in my view are the ones with a strong sense of divine spirit at work. It is as if the entire soul is brought into play.

The nature of modern prediction has also fallen prey to the sensibility, depredation, and demands of the modern news cycle, an entity purchased by global corporations who control the news to favour the needs of shareholders Massive artificial catastrophes, even presidential peccadilloes, are stoked by nothing more than sound bites and questionable sources – often by out and out prevarication and dissembling.  Petty scandals steal the journalistic spotlight, while thousands of children are being slaughtered in a shadow war.

Weather predictions or a medical prognosis, whether achieved through astrological techniques or by medical and meteorological means., are useful because they provide us with a chance to prepare for inclement weather or alert us to minor or serious health issues, for which we may find effective remedies or other means to avert a health crisis.  Knowing who will be elected has rather vague uses when one considers how rarely political promises are made good. I do not denounce the practice for one minute, but I do think that context and relative worth are elements to be considered. It’s more like predicting the outcome of a horserace. Many people enjoy and use these methods and pursue these goals and there is nothing inherently wrong with them. From my point of view, however, they miss the point.

The Sky Goddess Nut body representing the Milky Way arching across the night sky.

Part of my distaste for many election predictions is that they imply that it doesn’t matter if anyone votes because the winner has already been selected by fate. I have no particular problem with fate, but it would make a mockery out of democracy if taken to this level. Certainly, one can argue that fate can work through elections, but it does feel a bit like playing with loaded dice, To me, the subject of political elections is sometimes handled just as well by skilled journalists and even historians than by competitive astrologers with an ax to grind. Objectivity is better-called disinterestedness in this case. It is a state of mind that, as far as is possible, lacks either attachment or aversion, The stars guide us. We do not bend them to our will.

It’s my contention, based on experience, that the greatest guardian of astrology is a strong desire to be a channel of a divine spirit. Divine Spirit is the quintessence of creation. You are right to feel uneasy about an astrologer who is glib, arrogant or professes no faith in the mystical essence of the art. A colleague once told me that he had no interest in the cultural and spiritual background of astrology and that it was “just like mathematics.” I completely disagree with that. When we say such things, we are rather too close to what I call the “slot machine mentality.” Ideally, astrology is at its best when it can develop a conscious relationship with divine intelligence, one that assists realization of the soul’s purpose and consequent destiny, rather than frittering away the power available by over attachment to questions of desire or acquisition. Two examples of the latter would be “when will Bobby love me” or “when will I be rich.”

To be fair, many clients come to us with specific questions. When the answer is not what they wanted to hear, they will keep asking the same question, as if at some point they will hit the jackpot. They cannot be blamed. The society we live in encourages such things. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, we either treat astrology with the reverence it deserves or we are complicit in its misuse. This is not primarily a moral issue. It is all about a consciousness and reverence of divine spirit, used for good vs corruption, in one degree or another, In short, the inspired astrologer is forever conscious of the weight of responsibility. This is not a burden, but a joy.

Ancient Hindu Astrology Symbols Wall Jaisalmer– Rajasthan

3 thoughts on “The State of the Art

  1. Grandmom says:

    Beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Melissa de Blok says:

    So beautiful, yet also humbling for me as a total beginner in this world.

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