Happy 50th Anniversary—first manned Lunar landing, 20 July 1969!
If we think about Western Astrology, philosophically, what question or questions are we trying to solve?
Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going?
- Defined for today’s aspirant: A philosophy is one way to think about the world including one’s experience of self and others.
- Philosophies, and there are many, tend to be scholastic or pragmatic.
- The Western Mystery Tradition steers towards the pragmatic and the simple. It seeks to retain for posterity tools in service of personal transformation that work.
- Scholasticism adds to the corpus of human knowledge. It seeks to retain what is provable.
- Along the way there are lots of shiny objects.
Consider a December 2017 conference announcement:
Key words: “India” (v. other cultures) “religions” (plural) and “philosophies” (plural). Sounds totally engaging as an Eastern event to delight the Mind. Shiny object?
How about the following book title?
Are there Philosophies of Nature that pre-date Schelling? Evidently. Schelling’s 19th century idealism, aside, his work belongs to a community of uninterrupted philosophical speculations, premises and insights of remarkable range, durability and variety– from ancient days (the Vedas) to the present. It joins a pantheon of reasoned exploration in the tradition of the West. Shiny object?
Know Thyself, a suitable tagline.
Western Astrology is a philosophy in service of the “examined life“.
Thank you Heraclitus, thank you Socrates, thank you, Plato.
“A philosophy leading to self-discovery“–Western Astrology.
Disclaimer: In an age of social media, there is only enough time to over-simplify. The AF presumes the reader will diligence this discussion (and, for that matter, all AF presentations) with the lens of their own experience for any usefulness its content may offer. It is risky business to describe philosophy in general terms–but here goes.
Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going?
Question: Can we study science (how things work) in an attempt to answer these three questions? Of course. This category of inquiry, academically speaking, goes by the moniker, Philosophy of Nature. If Philosophy of Nature were a culture, it would be known by a totemic commitment to methodology, not conjecture. It is a culture of the provable. Today, brain science is medicine’s new Philosopher’s stone.
The voice of the Philosophy of Nature, today? Scientific Method.
Scientific Method has a focus: an unwavering commitment to experimental methodology designed to protect results from the bias of the scientist (the keeper of the premise or hypothesis). Independent (reproducible) verification is requisite. Good methodology is predicate to good data.
Medieval scholasticism relied heavily upon the use of dialectic as method. Each thesis had to be tested (antagonized) three ways: 1. for reasonableness; 2. quantitative (or mathematical) coherence; and 3. logical integrity. Thesis: Antithesis: Synthesis: Repeat. While this is not strictly speaking scientific methodology, it is a rigor that accommodates and acknowledges the telic nature of ideas–they seem to adapt and change over time–one could argue, a byproduct of dialectical synthesis— ideations are on the move.
Wisdom Philosophy, by comparison, not only reserves a seat at the table for the personal experience of the theorist, it is also largely agnostic as to method. It is a cage free version of Natural Philosophy. Wisdom Philosophy presumes a discerning and ethical Heart-Mind provides for self-discovery and improvement.
Is Western Astrology a good candidate for the rough hands of scholastic inquiry, scientific or dialectic?
Is this good? Let’s consider a few intrinsic limitations of the horoscope.
“Let’s consider a few intrinsic limitations of the horoscope.“
When we look at a horoscope, is it possible to ascertain the subject’s upper eyelid morphology? Can we reliably determine from the horoscope if the subject is of Mongoloid descent (Asian)?
“The LPS muscle originates from the annulus of Zinn.”*
Is this statement science fiction, a new constellation, arcane magic, or the lingua franca of the plastic surgeon specializing in eye morphology?
Did you know the “most popular theory for eyelid crease formation is the levator expansion theory, which was introduced by Sayoc in 1956.“?*
“Though inland far we be”, the poet reminds us, it is an inner sea we seek to navigate.
“Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore…
William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”, 1802.
From time to time, the inputs of waking and non-waking experience will over weather one’s heading. A philosophical point of view, as spiritual compass, can serve as a star map allowing for course corrections.
UNESCO estimates upwards of 80% of world citizens are literate, today. In 1800 this number was less than 20%. Literacy as a feature of the planet’s citizenry is a relatively new attribute of the human condition.
As we head towards 2020 CE, handwriting is no longer taught in the Los Angeles Public School System–America’s largest public school district. In the West we are changing the way we think about what it means to be literate.
The picture above depicts, as visual metaphor, an important feature of literacy as incontrovertible dogma governed by rules of grammar, syntax, spelling and definition–all non-negotiable.
Unfortunately, along the way we confused the acquisition of literacy with learning itself. We applied the same dogmatic style to teaching history and art, as phonics. This is another way of saying, we have taught very little art and less history.
In a world measured by bandwidth, the new bar is all about functional literacy. This is not to suggest all learning shall now be “cage free”—but by contrast, rote memorization is a cage.
“the new bar is all about functional literacy“
In the lifetime of most AF readers, functional literacy used to mean you could work on your car. It also used to mean family, church, government, and employer, as institutions, were existential pillars supporting one’s sense of place (and safety) within community. This is all but lost in the West. Think: Jerry Springer—the shadow side of institutions—the vulgarization of society.
This is a good, if counter-intuitive, place to pause.
The ramifications of our neo-post modern times are the stuff of libraries. The complex Jacques Derrida offered this morsel: “Needless to say, one more time, deconstruction, if there is such a thing, takes place as the experience of the impossible.”
In the world of social media and a 24 hour news cycle, a joylessness is now sensed to be the new normal. A little AF secret: add “ness” to joylessness.
Joylessness, thereby, becomes joylessness–ness! It is the way through. Very simple. Very pragmatic. And, not to be found in a literacy class.
A philosophy of Western Astrology, we submit, is both a metaphysical (non-waking) and ethical (waking) pursuit–two constituents of a healthy spirit.
The hermetic arts comprising the Western Mystery Tradition have always been highly imaginative. They cohere because they are energized by intuition (non-waking awareness) and scholarship (waking awareness). Western Astrology, as a modality for self-discovery, may have more to do with poetry than penicillin. Should you really be hurting, the study of Western Astrology will wait for you. Not to worry.
We close, considering what it means to experience the world in non-waking and waking states—as one inseparable Self, incarnated into history. A context where all unity is plural—where, to wit, it takes two human beings to make one astrologer! Where the ineffable compels copious eloquence, and the paradox holds sway with apparent contradictions we acknowledge to be “true”. This life, it is a beautiful thing.
We bid you peace,
Should you have time to consider a musical reflection to accompany this post, we refer you to an Oscar Paterson performance, “I Can’t Get Started” —from the Oscar Peterson Trio album “Plays Pretty” (1952).
A Reference of symbols, charts and definitions important to Western Mystery Tradition studies is listed as Post No. 900. Enter “900” in the Search box to be directed to this location.
© 2016-2019 Astrologers’ Folio, Astrologers-Folio.org, all rights reserved.
Sources: (L) https://digest.bps.org.uk/2011/01/31; (R) newborn photographer Brynnley
*Levator expansion theory: Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4536062/