Wednesday 5 September 2018

What is the basis of Astrology?

Astrology is one of those things that I regard as having some overall reality to it, in principle - even as I doubt the validity of any specific statement from Astrology.

For example, in The Last Battle, CS Lewis has a centaur correctly refute the rumour that Aslan has come-again to Narnia to rule in glory; because the Heavens tell him unambiguously that the world is in a terrible state, full of evil portent, worse than for centuries. We are not left in doubt that this form of Astrological divination is valid.

The general idea is that centaurs live a very long time, and sincerely devote their time to discerning and understanding the Heavenly realities. My understanding is that (in the Narnian world) the Heavens do not lie, because the stars and planets are angelic intelligences, situated in the supra-lunar regions beyond reach of evil and bathed in divine reality. So the Heavens will tell at least some of the truth about 'what's going on', in a situation when earthly information is distorted, corrupted and incomplete.

The usual - medievally-derived - view of Astrology is that each Heavenly-body has a distinct character, and exerts an influence on earthly things by some kind of 'beaming down' of rays/ fields/ forces/ emanations (or physical influences of some kind); to affect the composition, growth and behaviour of earthly things and beings.

But it comes to me that the reality is that the Heavenly Beings which we perceive as planets, moon and stars; are indeed Beings, and that they actually participate in the work of ongoing creation here on earth; and that that (and Not by ray, fields, forces or emanations) is how they exert their influence on earthly affairs.

So, we may (in principle, I suppose) come to know something of their work; in the same way we might learn of any thing; which is by a kind of empathic identification, by minds thinking the same thoughts. The different nature between the Heavenly objects is literally a difference of the character of these personified, conscious Beings; and their influence is built-into things in and by creation, rather than 'shining upon' already-created stuff.

I imagine that the Narnian centaurs, or some potential human equivalent, might come to know something of this work of creation, something of the knowledge of these Beings, in a simple and clear form; by direct and wordless intuition in answer to a sincere and formulated question, held steadily in consciousness, by a focused mind.


William Wildblood said...

As you know, Bruce, I have been interested in astrology from the point of view of a description of character and psychological tendencies but, like you, cannot accept it at its own estimation. There is definitely something in it but what that is cannot be pinned down by anything at our disposal.

It seems that the patterns in the heavens do describe something and that the stars and the planets do have individuality which translates into the effects astrologers try to interpret. But it is useless without intuition which makes it very frustrating for those who want to understand it scientifically. It partakes of both art and science and is nether fully one nor the other. It also lends itself to all kinds of gross superstition but that is our fault not its own.

CS Lewis describes the heavenly beings behind the planets in his space trilogy, particularly at the end of Voyage to Venus when Ransom meets Mars and Venus, and in That Hideous Strength when the Oyarsa approach the house at St Anne’s filling it with their influences.

I see the planets and stars as physical presences associated with angels who all have specific natures whose effects ebb and flow in our world according to their movements and interactions. There is no unbending fate about this but there are tides and cycles which, when we are better informed and more in tune with the inner side of things, we might be able to avail ourselves of, within the bounds of spiritual law, of course.

Moonsphere said...

Thanks Bruce - an inspired topic to write about.

In esoteric texts one might read that the Sun keeps the planets circling around it by the force of Love emanating from those beings of whom the Sun is an outer expression. Science still seeks the answer as to how gravity acts at distance. Could gravity be a material expression of Love itself? Perhaps the influences from the Zodiacal realms act in a similar way.

We have lived under the sign of Pisces for a long time now. In terms of physionomy that sign traditionally corresponds to the feet but really that includes the hands also. The Piscean Age has driven humanity to sublime heights of material genius, working with the senses to conquer the physical world. But for many it now works in a decadent way and we see the dark philosophy of Materialism arise around the world.

As everyone knows Aquarius comes next and that it will bring a spiritual awakening to humanity. But there are 5 slow degrees of Pisces yet to run - and the world is in desperate need of those who can transcend the material and bring forth their own spiritual awakening. The current renaissance in Astrology I believe will play an important role in that.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Moonsphere - When it comes to plotting out the future phases of humanity over 100s and 1000s of years, I'm afraid you are going to places that I can't follow. This kind of world scheme unfolding according to a numerical, geometrical and symmetrical timetable is one aspect of Steiner where I feel he fell into the error of over-systemisation: an Ahrimanic corruption, in fact.

But yes - I too regard Love as being the reality behind the laws and forces of physics! And therefore it doesn't emanate - it is a relationship between persons (and beings).

Andrew said...

Romans Ch. 8 talks about all of creation groaning and travailing, waiting for the fully mature Sons of God (those who have, through theosis, successfully conformed themselves to the image of Christ and achieved transfiguration, the unity of Spirit, Soul and Body to the will of God) to emerge and reclaim the Earth for the Kingdom of God. The creation here including all the universe, not just Earthly creation.

So Scripture does talk of the universe as being conscious to an extent with its and our destinies intertwined. The idea being, I believe, that the Millennium will be another training ground. Training for the administering of God's Kingdom planet-wide (Adam's original assignment before disobeying God, which was to expand Eden across Earth), eventually to be brought out into the entire universe, without end.

-Andrew E.

Moonsphere said...

@Bruce - Certainly Astrology is a subject one must not run away with!

For myself it was those who came after Steiner who really sparked my interest in the subject. You may be aware of the (ongoing) work of Robert Powell and others. Specifically this comes under the name Astrosophy.

But yes it is Love that holds everything together. No Higgs bosons required!

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I'm sympathetic to your position, but the problem with it is that the purported astrological influence of the heavenly bodies is a function of their position in the sky, which in turn conforms exactly to the mechanical laws described by Kepler and Newton. It's hard to see intelligence in something that seems so mechanical and "automatic."

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - My interpretation is that, like all natural science, that kind of non-conscious, systematised, mathematised Astrology is a very simplified, selective and distorted Model of reality - which is why it is so approximate and unreliable in its predictions.

Moonsphere said...

@Bruce - One thought/question...

I think we do agree that the beings of the starry realms play some role in human spiritual evolution.

There is undeniably a great cycle - the Cosmic Year - in which the Sun's sidereal position as its crosses the equator, moves through the entire zodiac over a 25,000 year cyclical period. Equally undeniable is that each of these 12 zodiacal 'Ages' lasts for 2,160 years.

Is it not possible that these are the very same 'influences' that you concede might "actually participate in the work of ongoing creation"? Might there not be a wisdom filled driving force that is in keeping with the designs of providence?

Bruce Charlton said...

@M - I suppose I would have to give a version of the same answer I gave WmJas - which is, perhaps something of the kind, but only as a simplified and distorted model of the reality.

I was impressed by William Arkle's chapter on Astrology in A Geography of Consciousness in which he focuses on the NON-repeating aspects of heavenly influences - that things are never lined-up the same way twice.

Arkle was thinking in terms of influences bathing the earth, and a person at any particular spot on the earth - but the idea was that this is an always-changing background. Now, there are also cycles at work, but maybe they are subordinated.

But my main objection is top the mapped out nature of history, which implicitly denies free will/ agency. I think there has been a linear, irreversible sequence of predictable changes, analogous to the growing up of an idealised human. But I am sure that the timing of these sequences was not determined.

I also feel, like Owen Barfield (from whom I got the idea) that the sequence went off the rails around 1800 - so we are currently a long way off the path. I get the impression that, in some moods, in his last couple of years, this was also Steiner's private view.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I think that the chief difficulty with astrology is that people attempt to take it too personally. As if the grand movements of epochal scale history which the stars meter matter only to let them know their lucky color for the day.

The secondary difficulty is that the key is missing. A true astrology would be a chronology of great events tied to the various indicators which had been set out to mark their times. This chronicle is no longer in human hands, so far as I can tell. What remains in the scriptures handed down from antiquity is so partial as to be effectively useless (though still quite interesting).

Of course, what I have come to perceive is that great events don't need to be marked in the Heavens for people to see the moral import of them. Even a true astrology would be of little value compared to a modest application of personal conscience to the great issues of the day. When millions of people are standing up and speaking for and against a thing, it doesn't take any kind of occult knowledge to know which side is morally right and which is morally wrong, once you accept that as your basis for judgment.

There are outliers, however.