At Hallowe’en: the hunt is on again for Dark Matter…

It’s Scorpio’s season, and most appropriately a global hunt for the universe’s missing matter is once again underway; this autumn everyone is invited to join in. On and around Halloween 2019, events around the world will celebrate the hunt for the universe’s unseen dark matter

But where to start? Perhaps with Dark Matter, for those of you for whom the term is as yet unfamiliar. Here is one definition:

Dark matter is a huge part of the Universe that scientists’ calculations tell us exists, but that has never been observed. Yet, together with dark energy, scientists believe it makes up 95 percent of the total universe. What we can see, and the matter that scientists can account for is just five percent of the Universe, the rest is a mystery. (i)

Please pay great attention to that last sentence. Science can offer an explanation for just 5% of the Universe…the rest ie 23% dark matter and 72% dark energy, is a mystery. This being the case by modern science’s own admission, I have been at a loss for decades to understand why by and large most scientists operate on the reductionist principle – loudly and vehemently declaimed by the likes of the UK’s Professors Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox – that if it can’t be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, touched or proved through the application of the procedures of contemporary science then it simply does not exist.

Non-existence, reductionist science style

Here are just a few examples of the ‘it’ that does not exist or is of no credible value:

** all types of paranormal experience eg precognitive dreams, telepathy, premonitions, mediumship, seeing ghosts, mystical experience – well documented by a vast range of people and cultures throughout the world for millennia

** the myths of all cultures throughout the ages – (the modern definition of a myth is ‘an untrue story’ ) – which through their symbolic stories have offered guidance to humans re how best to navigate the complexities inherent in every facet of life

** all religions, which no-one would deny have considerable flaws and deficiencies but which have at least tried to address the unquantifiable facets of human experience and offer us teachings through which we might ‘do as you would be done by’

** the great symbolic arts, for example astrology, the i chingpalmistry, and the tarot, which have evolved over lengthy time periods for the guidance of us fallible humans as we try to make our way – all of which especially astrology have largely been dismissed as rubbish by scientists who have never taken the trouble to study in any depth that which they are only too happy to condemn.

It should be obvious to any reasonably sentient, rational person that a stance of ignorant dismissal of whole bodies of knowledge which have been embedded in human culture from the outset does not and should not command any respect whatsoever. I can imagine what Prof Dawkins would say, were anyone to dismiss the whole of physics from a standpoint of wilful ignorance…

Ooops! Must not fall into ranting…I can feel one coming on…so…

Where do I stand on the science v religion/symbolism issue?

I am in total awe of the magnificent achievements of science since the rise of the Age of  Reason around the middle of the 17th Century, and have been an avid reader of popular science books since my teens in a long attempt to understand the complexities thereof, especially those of quantum physics which have gradually revealed to us a Universe at an energetic level which is paradoxical, deeply strange, and only partly predictable.

I have also read widely and thought deeply – as well as practising – within those dimensions of life I have just listed which modern science largely dismisses as invalid and not worth taking seriously.

However, a view and a model are slowly emerging, despite considerable resistance from the diehard defenders of reductionism, which can demonstrate convincingly that the lenses of eg astrology and quantum physics are focusing on the same all encompassing energy field which generates our tiny existence on planet Earth.

Astrology maps this energy field in space/time through the movements of the planets in our solar system, a rational measuring process which is also conducted by mariners and astronomers. However, it goes much further than those disciplines, by ascribing symbolic meaning to those planetary movements based on observations over millennia of the correspondences between life on Earth and the movements of the planets in their orbits.

My personal view is that both the scientific and the symbolic arts have their complementary roles to play in exploring and explicating the fundamental mystery of why we are here, and what we should do about it.  We need all the help we can get, after all, and should be pooling our collective human knowledge for the benefit of us all. As the atomic physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer so wisely put it :

These two ways of thinking, the ways of time and history and the way of eternity and timelessness, are both part of man’s efforts to comprehend the world in which he lives. Neither is comprehended in the other or reducible to it. They are, as we have learned to say in physics, complementary views, each supplementing the other, neither telling the whole story. (ii)

Dark Matter meets Hallowe’en in the 95% field

Hubble throws light on dark matter

Hubble throws light on dark matter

Given the kind of prejudices I have been describing from a profoundly dominant and influential group of people, ie the scientific community, at first I was pretty annoyed to see that the 31st October, ie Hallowe’en, had been designated as Dark Matter Day, especially as its first event last year had been billed in some quarters as First Ever Dark Matter Day in Hallowe’en TakeoverThe inference in this headline is pretty clear: the choice of day represents an attempt by the scientific community yet again to attack and dismiss what they see as mere superstition which has no place in the contemporary world.

However, on reflection, I realised that the scientific community could have unwittingly created a bridge between the two worlds of the non-rational and the rational by holding Dark Matter Day on Hallowe’en.

When I first came across the compelling notion of the division of the Universe’s energy, as far as science can ascertain, into 5% matter and the rest dark matter and dark energy, my immediate thought was this: ‘Wow, so we only have direct access to a thin slice of  Reality…then what goes on in the 95% we know is there but can’t as yet access via the methodologies of reductionist science?’

On further reflection,  maybe the 5% could represent our conscious, practical  relationship with the familiar world. Dark energy might be what Jung called the collective unconscious, home to those archetypal patterns shaping our myths, religious beliefs and cultural values as well as what we broadly call the realm of the paranormal. And – dark matter could represent individuals’ personal unconscious, the liminal territory which acts as a filter through which images of all kinds from the collective unconscious make their way to the light of day, ie to the 5% that science can explain.

Thus the 95% dark matter/dark energy ‘field’ could be the non-rational dimension which is rich in creative energy of all kinds, energy giving rise (in partnership of course with the rational dimension of life represented by the 5%) to eg great art and music, and also to those unquantifiable but essential attributes which represent the best of humanity eg love, compassion, humour and kindness.

But, as we all know only too well from our collective and individual lives, there is a very dark shadow side to this non-rational dimension, one of whose manifestations is fear of the unknown, especially death.This has given rise rise historically to all kinds of superstitious beliefs and practices designed to ward off evil spirits and placate threatening supernatural beings – territory which is commemorated and engaged with each year in the shape of Hallowe’en.

We need constructive outlets for those dark fears and impulses, and Hallowe’en provides just that. I find it most interesting that, far from our reductionist-dominated culture stamping out all forms of irrationality, cultural practices such as Hallowe’en have become more mainstream in recent years.

Thinking about this calls to mind a brilliant  – and brave – book written by the well-known UK journalist Bryan Appleyard, who risked all kinds of opprobrium by exhaustively researching and writing about Aliens and the UFO phenomenon, setting the whole thing in a long historical context. His eventual conclusion, simply put, was this: if aliens didn’t exist (and he remains personally agnostic on the topic despite extensive research) the human mind, needing irrationality to maintain some sort of balance, is such that it would need to invent them…

So, scientists, you have I think made the right decision in aligning your Dark Matter Day with Hallowe’en – although probably not for the reasons you had in mind!

And– First Ever Dark Matter Day in Hallowe’en Takeover – it could ONLY happen in Scorpio’s season…

Endnotes:

(i) from the Web on 1st November 2017 in an article entitled First Ever Dark Matter Day in Hallowe’en Takeover, which also has some interesting follow-on links if you wish to research this fascinating area further.

(ii) Stuart Holroyd ‘The Arkana Dictionary of New Perspectives’ published by Arkana (Penguin Books Ltd) 1989, p154, quoting from Lawrence LeShan’s book ‘The Medium, the Mystic and the Physicist’

 

1600 words © Anne Whitaker 2019

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The Aquarian Age: cultural cliche, or symbolic reality?

It’s all identity politics’ fault. Trying to come up with a Big Picture context for this 21st century phenomenon has led me toward contemplating the so-called Aquarian Age, such a cultural cliche by now that I usually prefer to let the ageing braincell focus on fresher topics. However, bear with me. I’ve got to something which might intrigue you…

But first, a definition of identity politics:

‘…politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group…’ (i)

21 Cent Fixed Cross copy

Does this suggest the shadow side of the Leo theme to anyone? It certainly does to me. Given that the interplay of opposites is a fundamental generator of the life force –think egg, sperm and first division of fertilised egg here – this by astro-logic brings us to Aquarius, Leo’s polarity. Aquarius is fundamentally concerned with the larger group. As the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, an Aquarian, (1748-1832) so famously stated: “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong”(ii) Aquarius, especially since its new ruler Uranus appeared to our view in the turbulent 1780s, is also strongly associated with revolutionary change, especially technological breakthroughs.

To be clear: I do not subscribe to the touchy-feely idea that the Aquarian Age, if it exists at all, will bring an era of universal love. The evidence from our contemporary world suggests otherwise. Moreover, the eminent astrologer and cultural historian Dr Nicholas Campion has collected around 100 dates for the supposed commencement of the Age of Aquarius – from around 1260 AD to around 2300 AD. (iii) 

Perhaps best, then, to see the astrological world ages of roughly 2000 years each, as vast metaphors for helping us to comprehend political, cultural and social change. 

However, I am intrigued by Carl Jung’s notion, set forth in his essay ‘The Sign of the Fish’ (iv) that when world ages change, ie when the first point of Aries can be seen against the backdrop of the next constellation, our image of the Divine changes. The Aries point, having shifted backwards from its 2000 or so years’ traverse of the previous constellation of Pisces, roughly the era of Christianity, is now somewhere between the first star of the constellation of Pisces, and the last star of the constellation of Aquarius. 

We have been going through an enormous technological revolution in recent decades as science makes huge strides. Mapping the human genome, expanding our view of the vast universe we inhabit via wonderful Hubble images, and linking much of the human population via the Internet and mobile phone technology are but a few examples.  You could even argue that a new religion is arising: Scientism, which holds that only the 5% of the cosmos which we can perceive through our senses or test out through the procedures of reductionism is worth considering. 

As societies become increasingly secular and materialistic throughout the world, I think we are beginning to project the Divine onto science and technology…even to the extent that the goal of prolonging human life indefinitely into some kind of techno-immortality is being seriously pursued in some quarters. 

Pushing the boundaries of science forward just because it can be done conjures the spectres of Dr Frankenstein and his Monster, immortalised in Mary Shelley’s modern myth “ Frankenstein, or the New Prometheus”.  It also speaks strongly of the shadow side of the Aquarian theme, which doesn’t mind how many individual lives it disrupts or destroys in the name of revolutionary change.

Hence its Leo shadow opposite arising in the shape of identity politics, as defined at the start of this column.

Reflecting on the stubbornly fixed positions which have increasingly been taken up in recent times eg in political discourse, religious conflicts, and environmental activism, has evoked for me the fixed cross in astrological symbolism, which on further reflection I have mapped onto the four Angles upon which every horoscope hangs: Ascendant, IC, Descendant, MC. 

Since the Ascendant/Descendant horizontal axis speaks of the here and now of our individual and collective lives– the current Age – how about placing Aquarius on the Ascendant, opposite Leo here? Thus we see the march of technological progress for the supposed benefit of us all, not getting along too well presently with individual identities in various forms. 

Completing the fixed cross, the IC/MC vertical axis speaks of roots (IC) from which our future direction (MC)  arises. The Taurus IC is the ground on which we stand, our Mother Earth. Scorpio on the MC speaks of the deep crisis which our home planet is facing. The old materialist order is currently dying – the evidence is everywhere. The question is, what will replace it? 

I have found contemplating the metaphor of the astrological fixed cross, which condenses the polarised conflicts of our current era into four fundamental themes, powerfully illuminating. It may even suggest that, symbolically speaking, the Age of Aquarius is indeed upon us.

We need to find a revolutionary way forward:  from our present stubbornly fixed shadow positions, and the extreme turbulence of our current world, to a situation where respect both for the greatest good of the greatest number and the dignity of individual rights are harnessed and directed – towards respect and care for our mother planet, and away from its destruction. 

Endnotes:

This post is a slightly edited version of my bi-monthly column for Dell Horoscope Magazine  ‘The astro-view from Scotland’  from the May/June 2018 Issue.

i) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/identity%20politics

ii) via Wikipedia, from https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/jeremy-bentham-307.php

iii) from ‘Astrology, History and Apocalypse’ (CPA Press, 2000)(p127) 

iv) from Aion vol 9, Part 2 of Jung’s Collected Works (1951) 

Zodiac

Zodiac

1000 words © Anne Whitaker 2019

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Hallowe’en is coming: turmoil to follow. Just like Saturn/Pluto in Capricorn – 1517/18…

Will UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson be lying “…dead in a ditch…” come 1st November 2019 if the UK fails to leave the European Union on Halloween 2019, something it has been trying and failing to do for the last three years? Who knows? We astrologers do know, however, that Mercury turns retrograde that day. Not a huge help, one would surmise. 

My regular readers will know by now that, in times of trouble and strife, both personal and collective, I turn – not to drink, drugs, toyboys or similar distractions – but to the planetary cycles, which have the merit of providing some perspective and a little detachment from general woes. I have not a few to cope with myself at present, so I’m not theorising when I say that strategy helps. It does.

I offered some musings along those lines not long ago, in my Dell Horoscope Magazine column “The astro-view from Scotland”. I hope they are at least a slight help, beginning as they do with a very brave man who was not afraid to speak truth to power, and whose words changed the world… 

Martin Luther has been bugging me for weeks. No, he hasn’t been trending on Twitter. In fact, he has been dead since 1546. So – why my preoccupation now?

Here’s why. Looking round our highly unstable world – at the parlous state of the planet, the rise of China and the East, the malign interference of Russia in other nations’ affairs, the Trump factor, the disastrous incompetence of UK politicians in attempting to carry out our narrow vote to leave the European Union with huge attendant turmoil, the continuing clamour for Scottish Independence – my spinning mind has turned once again to contemplating the big planetary cycles. I need some detachment, some perspective…

This turmoil feels as though we are undergoing a collective revolution at a number of levels, given how interconnected the world now is –  hence my thoughts turning to Martin Luther, one of history’s great revolutionaries.

As you read this column, Jupiter has recently moved into Sagittarius, with Saturn advancing toward conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn in 2020.… very apt imagery for that defiant, outspoken Scorpio cleric Luther nailing 95 objections to church policy onto a hard church door on All Souls Day 1517 – Hallowe’en – in Wittenburg, Germany.(i) 

It is doubtful whether Martin Luther ever physically did this – but there is no doubt that his standing up to the corrupt might of the institutional Catholic Church, the year after Pluto moved into Capricorn in 1516, triggered off the Reformation, a religious revolution that changed the world.

Fast forward to the period 1762-1778, the next time Pluto traversed Capricorn. This saw a great expanse of European colonialism, as well as the American Revolution followed by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. However, arguably the most far-reaching changes of the period came through Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer James Watt’s improvements to steam engine technology: the primary driver of the Industrial Revolution. This led to the massive expansion in industrial and technological advances which have given us the world we have now.

Two Pluto through Capricorn traverses  – two world revolutions. Going further back in history through Pluto in Capricorn cycles reveals similar patterns of deep upheaval both in terms of our planet and human culture. Astrologer Michele Finey’s recent summary is worth checking out for more detail on this topic. (ii)

Pluto moved into Capricorn in 2008, triggering a narrowly-averted meltdown of the world’s precariously balanced financial system. In the last decade he has purged his way relentlessly, exposing the rotten foundations of most worldwide institutional structures, social and political as well as financial: exposing for example the sexual abuse scandals of the Roman Catholic Church. But Pluto in Capricorn is not finished dredging …

According to a recent report by the charity Oxfam (iii),  basing its research on the Forbes rich list and data provided by investment bank Credit Suisse, the world’s eight richest people have same wealth as the poorest 50%…the vast majority of people in the bottom half of the world’s population are facing a daily struggle to survive, with 70% of them living in low-income countries. 

“From Brexit to the success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a worrying rise in racism and the widespread disillusionment with mainstream politics, there are increasing signs that more and more people in rich countries are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo,” the report said.

Signs of this unwillingness to tolerate the status quo abound. The recent transit of Jupiter through Scorpio, one of the other significant planetary patterns adding to Pluto in Capricorn’s revolutionary impetus, has seen the worldwide MeToo grassroots anti-abuse movement; young people in the USA in mass protests against school shootings and the gun laws expediting them; and youthful protests worldwide against climate change.

Just recently, the UK’s incomparable David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series, shown world-wide, has graphically presented to all of us the devastating damage being caused to our seas by plastic pollution. We are at last beginning to take collective responsibility for this huge problem.

Humans have had to live through the pain, turmoil and upheaval of revolutionary change since the beginning of time. Why should we 21st Century folk think ourselves exempt? However, as part of the departing baby-boomer generation who will not live to see the shape of the new world order arising, I take great comfort from the increasing bottom-up challenges we are seeing to a world too long managed from the Top Down. In the midst of our current chaos, the Millennial generation arising, bred on interconnected technologies, is using them to push for a less materially exploitative, more equal world order.

Recently I had the good fortune to meet two dynamic young women friends for coffee: one (about to hit her Saturn Return) returning home to Saudi Arabia. She is intent on using her chemistry PhD to make an impact on the increasing global threat of antibiotic resistance.

The other, a Scottish community activist and parent who has achieved great things locally in bringing children, parents and teachers together outside to enjoy the benefits of spending time in nature. This has involved strenuous bottom-up community efforts, attracting worldwide support as the Children’s Wood campaign grew – thus preventing our local authority from selling off a precious bit of local wild land to developers planning to build expensive housing there.

As a means of containing my own little chip of collective anxiety in the face of this current Pluto in Capricorn revolution, I have taken their Millennial motto to heart:

“ Start where you are, and do what you can…” How very Capricornian…

Endnotes:

This post is a slightly edited version of my bi-monthly column for Dell Horoscope Magazine  ‘The astro-view from Scotland’  from the January/February 2019 Issue.

(i) The last time Saturn met Pluto in Capricorn was in 1517/18 

(ii)   https://cosmicintelligenceagency.com/pluto-capricorn/

(iii) https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jan/16/worlds-eight-richest-people-have-same-wealth-as-poorest-50

Pluto: small but mighty

1200 words © Anne Whitaker 2019

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Full Moon in Aries – in a cave far away…

In order to avoid noticing that we are living through a time of unprecedented turbulence, you would need to be living in a cave up a mountain far away somewhere without a wifi signal. Today, perhaps triggered by the current Aries full moon, squaring Saturn/Pluto in Capricorn, I have especially been feeling the world’s darkness and pain. 

As with many of us, I have often taken consolation from great poetry. For example, Persian poet Rumi “This being human” contains deep wisdom regarding the turbulent duality of light and dark forces which constitute not only human nature, but also Life itself.

Light in the Mesquita, Cordoba, Spain

Light in the Mesquita, Cordoba, Spain: photo Anne Whitaker

Light and dark are inseparably interdependent: maybe, Rumi is suggesting, it would be wise to honour them both, since those dark destructive energies which periodically sweep through, causing havoc personally and collectively, contain  messages, guidance  from Beyond, which are telling us something we usually do not wish to hear.

I am not alone in having had Life hurl me against the same wall a few times before I eventually ‘get the message’, and with painful slowness begin the process of change which is being demanded of me by a deeper, wiser Self – that chip of divine light which is present in every one of us.

Writers offering comforting platitudes skimmed from a glide across the surface of life, or perhaps digging down a little, do not move me. My help comes from  those who look unflinchingly into the world’s dark heart without underestimating in any way the destruction and cruelty to be found there, but who can balance what they see with inspiring affirmation.

Despite all the awfulness of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ which is an ever-present reality through the ages both personally and collectively, Life is full of opportunities to be ‘surprised by joy’, to seek and find meaning in even the most scouring of experiences. That is certainly what I have come to believe.

Some writers have a way, also, of reminding us of how we need to change by poking us where it hurts. As the Saturn/Pluto grinder bears down upon us all, amplified by tonight’s Aries full moon, I’ve been reflecting on the current dismal state of  planet Earth and its denizens.

I was chewing upon one of my favourite anger-generating topics: how our need to be RIGHT – and its world-wide manifestations via religious, political and scientific fundamentalism, fed hugely these days by social media – has probably caused more bloodshed, mayhem and havoc throughout history than anything else, when I came across this short but pungent poem by the poet Yehuda Amichai:

“The Place Where We Are Right”

“From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.”

Yehuda Amichai

Light in the Mesquita, Cordoba, Spain

Light in the Mesquita, Cordoba, Spain

500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Taking a break from Saturn/Pluto turmoil…

Some of you will have read my recent article on Astrodienst, Some Notes on Cycles in a Time of Crisis, which sets the turmoil, violence and complexity of our home planet at present in the context of the great planetary cycles which symbolically describe the turbulence of a changing world order so graphically. 

astrodynamics.net

astrodynamics.net

In the meantime, we poor wee human individuals caught in the Saturn/Pluto/Nodes grinder are trying to survive it all, and if possible make some sense of it. One of the undoubted gifts of the Saturn/Pluto combination – and I should know, with the exact conjunction conjunct four personal planets – is the capacity to endure, and to be brave in tackling what must be faced and dealt with.

Beyond that, in my view we leave the rest to Spirit, the Unseen, the Divine – whatever name you wish to use in reaching out to that which is forever beyond our human grasp. I came to the practice of astrology a long time ago, seeking some kind of proof that we lived in a meaningful universe, that all the turmoils and struggles of life meant something – that we are not all mere butterflies pinned to the board of Fate within a random, meaningless cosmos.

And I did find pattern – meaning too. The great cycles tell us that we are part of a vast pattern charged with meaning. Each of us, tiny chips of the prevailing energies of our date, place and time of birth, products of our era, has our small part to play in the unfolding of the great cosmic Pattern.

In times of difficulty, I have always taken consolation from contemplating the Bigger Picture, taking refuge in a sense of the sacred. I know from my own, my friends, students and clients’ lives at present – avoiding mentioning the state of our nations eg in the UK and the USA! – that times are hard for so many of us.

So – tonight,  feeling meditative, I thought I’d share a favourite quote, which every time I read it walks me gently into Mystery, brings me some refuge, some peace…

“….in this journey of the spirit, I and others still walk that steep uphill road….And all our religious edifices, which serve first as staffs to help us on our way, in the end become crutches which we must discard….And the doctrines which we espouse and which we hold dear are only smooth shining stones which we pick up on the road and place in our baggage. With each new dogma and doctrine, the baggage grows heavier, until we discard these pebbles, one by one, leaving them on the roadside for others to find and carry a little further. And in the end we have need of neither doctrine nor creed, nor to name that which we worship – for it is beyond all image and words….”(i)

Endnote

(i) ‘Women in Search of the Sacred ‘ by Anne Bancroft (Penguin Arkana 1996) pp 120-121

*****

astrodynamics.net

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Some thoughts on… the place of astrology in our contemporary world

We live in a vast energy field of constant motion, most of which is invisible to us. The rippling patterns of order and chaos, which is the fundamental dance of creation, govern everything. I have come to see the art of astrology (helped by what I have grasped of what the quantum world has revealed to us) as one that enables us to map those patterns via the constant shifting energies of the planets in their orbits.

Astrologers take a step that, in our reductionist, materialist culture, pulls down all sorts of opprobrium and scorn upon our heads: We attribute meaning to those patterns.

Beginning in ancient times until the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century (which caused a split between form, described by astronomy, and content, described by astrology), the maxim “as above, so below” governed people’s worldview. Prior to the Scientific Revolution, we lived in a cosmos charged with meaning, an “ensouled” cosmos, where form and content reflected and informed each other.

Astrology and prejudice

Some of us still live in that cosmos. Others do not. Where you have such a powerful clash of worldviews, polarisation and prejudice can arise. I think that Victor Olliver, editor of the UK’s respected Astrological Journal, was right regarding his eloquent and well argued response to my doubts and questions about popular astrology in the spring of 2015. At that time, he pointed out that the real enemy of astrology is prejudice.

There is the prejudice from outside the astrological community (especially from much of the scientific community) from those who believe that our lives are the product of cosmic chance, and thereby devoid of meaning. And then there is the prejudice from those within the community — those who consider themselves to be “serious” practitioners — toward the populist, mass-market astrology that millions avidly consume across a vast range of media on a daily basis, looking for some glimmer of meaning in life.

What do we do about this? In reflecting on how I might “wrap up” Victor’s and my three-part debate, which generated a great deal of interest across the Web, the word “occult” came strongly to mind.

I pondered it for a few days. According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the original meaning of the word is from the Latin “occulere,” i.e. “to hide, conceal.” It also (in a more physical sense) means “to cut off from view by interposing some other body,” as in, for example, the occultation of one planet or heavenly body by another.

Is astrology an “occult” practice?

The word “occult” in recent times has taken on a more sinister connotation, referring often to magical or supernatural practices of a dubious nature. As I reflected on it, I became more interested in the original meaning of the word, which has led me to a conclusion about the status of astrology, especially in our modern world: The true depth of what astrology can reveal about human affairs, both in the collective and the personal sense, will always be inaccessible to the large majority of people.

Astrology is an occult subject. As such, its influence and its great value are likely to remain masked, hidden from view, operating powerfully but behind the scenes of everyday life.

For example, in ancient times its practice was held in high esteem by Babylonian and Egyptian rulers, whose astrologer-priests scanned the stars and advised the kings (and sometimes, even, the queens!)  on the fate of their nations. There were no personal horoscopes. The general public was in no way consulted or informed regarding decisions made that affected all their lives. Astrological knowledge, deemed sacred, was deliberately kept hidden from ordinary view.

Paradoxically, in our time, mass-market popular astrology could be seen as fulfilling the function of concealing the real power of astrology quite effectively. Most of the public remain unaware of the depth that exists behind the mask of the Sun Sign columns, although I do agree with Victor that there is a very big difference between the nuggets of truth that a quality Sun Sign column can reveal and the kind of trashy stuff that some popular newspapers, magazines, and internet sites churn out.

A warning ignored

Sun Sign columns are also rather effective in raising the ire and spleen of reductionists who thereby are permanently deflected from benefiting from astrology’s true depth, which at times could have been life-saving as evinced in the powerful example of astrologer Dennis Elwell’s prescient warning in the 1980s.

In 1987, Dennis Elwell, the late well-known U.K. astrologer, wrote to the main shipping companies to warn them that a pattern very similar to that under which the Titanic had sunk was coming in the heavens very soon. He strongly suggested that they review the seaworthiness and safety procedures of all their passenger ships. His warning was duly dismissed. Not long afterwards, the U.K.’s Herald of Free Enterprise ferryboat went down, resulting in the loss of 188 lives.

Popular astrology—a stepping-stone?

It is true, as Victor pointed out in his robust reply to my challenge, that mass-market astrology is the stepping-stone that enables people who are seekers after deeper meaning to step from relative triviality to much greater depth.

However, to understand the profound link that exists between your unique chip of energy and the larger, meaningful cosmos, you will need to seek out a good astrologer to offer you a sensitive and revealing portrait of your moment of birth via your horoscope.

Those of us who are in-depth practitioners know that a quality astrology reading with the right astrologer at the right time can be truly life changing.

Only a small percentage of people who read Sun Sign columns take that step into deeper territory. Most do not. Either they are quite happy with the superficiality they find there, or they spin off into active enraged prejudice, and sometimes very public condemnation, of our great art…

As I said to Victor Olliver by way of conclusion to our most instructive debate, pondering on the word “occult” has led me to quite a peaceful place. I can now abandon any prejudice I may have toward my colleagues who are Sun Sign astrologers: they are offering a valuable service in providing a smoke screen.

This helps greatly to maintain astrology in its true place as an occult activity, perhaps leavening the ignorance and crassness of our materialist, consumer age  — but from behind the scenes.

Concluding thoughts from academe

I have recently been reading an excellent book by astrologer, teacher, and writer Dr. Bernadette Brady, Chaos, Chaosmos and Astrology. In her book, Brady quotes fellow astrologer and academic Dr. Patrick Curry’s view that the practice of astrology is  “…an instrument of enchantment, a way in which humanity encounters mystery, awe, and wonder….,” and that in order to maintain such a position it is “…necessary for astrology to be marginalised by science…” (1)

I was very happy to encounter this viewpoint put forward by fellow astrologers whose scholarship and viewpoints I respect. Their views have eloquently endorsed my own.

Readers, what do you think of this viewpoint?

I’d be most interested to hear.

Galaxy...

Galaxy…

Endnotes:
(1) Bernadette Brady, Cosmos, Chaosmos and Astrology, Sophia Centre Press, 2014, p 71.

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1200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Some notes on Cycles in a time of crisis

“Down from the gardens of Asia descending radiating,
Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after
them,
Wandering, yearning, curious, with restless explorations…..
Ah who shall soothe these feverish children
Who justify those restless explorations?”

from “Passage to India” by Walt Whitman

Introduction

I love this quote: standing back and looking at world history in the large scale, it becomes clear that those ‘restless explorations’ are not in any way random: they are shaped by the large cycles of history as described by the planets in their orbits.

Furthermore, individuals who are ‘plugged in’ via their natal horoscopes to the degrees at which key planetary cycles end and begin – eg the 13 degrees Leo conjunction of Saturn and Pluto which occurred in the middle of August 1947, or the Jupiter Uranus conjunction of 5/6 degrees Aquarius in February 1997, are challenged to live out those ‘chips’ of planetary energy as major contributors to their lives’ stories.

Also, the cycles belonging to those planetary combinations, eg the 33-38 year cycle of Saturn/Pluto or the 14-year cycle of Jupiter/Uranus, become of great significance in the unfolding pattern of their individual lives, as well as the human collective of which they are part.

In these notes, whilst briefly mentioning the larger overarching planetary cycles, I am focusing mainly on the cycles which are of immediate concern to us now, as we sit in the eye of a circling series of collective storms, contemplating an increasing threat to the long-term survival of planet Earth, our Mother as the biggest one. My aim is to provide those of you who are just beginning to get to grips with the larger, more complex – and fascinating! – dimensions of astrology beyond the merely personal with some initial perspectives hopefully to whet your appetites.

To read the whole of this article, which I’m happy to say was published on Astrodienst yesterday, please click HERE:

Solar System

2500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2019

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page