Notes From the Cutting Room Floor
This article contains text which was cut from the finished version of When Stars Collide. About 100,000 words were removed from the book during the editing process, mostly examples (there are so many examples of this phenomenon I could have written ten books). Here are some of those 100,000 words.
In the modern age astrology does not seem to be a particularly vital element in our lives, it has, or would appear to have, been superseded by a whole raft of new knowledge based on a modern scientific paradigm that has no place for ancient languages like astrology.
Many people, especially those who live in the technology-rich Western world, whose lives are replete with science-based education, internet-based information and documentary channels on satellite TV, seem to have the answer to this question and the answer is one very short sentence long: 'astrology doesn't work': that is, all the claims that are made on its behalf are not actually true. It is easy to arrive at this fact by simply checking for the entry on astrology in an encyclopaedia, although the entry in Wikipedia , the online free encyclopaedia, and the Oxford Companion to the Mind are marginal exceptions to this rule. Many astrologers have experienced standing in the Mind Body Spirit section of their local bookshop next to students fresh out of high school who are usually most generous in sharing their vast wisdom of the uselessness of astrology. It's ironic that many of these bright young things speak fluent Elvish and hold Gandalf in high regard (he's real to them), but there we are, there's nowt as queer as folk, as they say in Yorkshire...where a lot of these sceptical elves live, in point of fact.
There are also those who suggest that astrology is practiced and appreciated only by people who don't understand statistics, this is because it is presumed that statistical tests for astrological characteristics show no convincing results. The truth of this depends very heavily on an individual's interpretation of the word 'convincing'. If statistical significance is a guide to truth, then when researchers are wily enough to examine astrology 'in captivity', that is: if they can find a variable they are able to isolate and test, then significance, albeit very slight significance, often follows. The problem here is that astrology is a gestalt: a configuration of elements that are all interdependent. Each element of the whole picture can be isolated, but because astrology relates to a unique variable (time), it is practically impossible to replicate the same astrological scenario. So, unless the scenario involves a constant of human behaviour, (in the case of When Stars Collide, this scenario is the effect of the planet Venus on the feelings individuals have when entering into a new relationship), then it is unlikely that the element or variable under scrutiny will yield results because of the inter-dependence of the overall astrological concept. And even when we do isolate a common behavioural characteristic (as is the case in this book), there are always at least a thousand other variables to also take into account. This is why statistical significance is often apparently small or non-existent. Add to this my assertion that one trine among half a dozen squares can dampen down the effect of the squares and you solve your statistical problem. There isn't one. Just don't expect much from statistics.
Those who make the assertion that astrology is meaningless, do so in the apparent knowledge (seemingly gained from encyclopaedia or very often from what astronomers have written on the subject) that it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that astrology is a primitive attempt to explain mankind's place in the universe based on ancient and primitive human perceptions of change - the change from day into night, the change from Winter to Spring and the change from youth to old age; the association of the moon with the females and the sun with males 1 and that all these changes and correspondences were governed by the stars and visible planets. This mode of thought is described as a 'magical world view', one where those things that can't be known literally can be somehow grasped intuitively. Basically, modern scientists imply that their forebears who practiced astrology were either forced to do so (Kepler) or they were stupid or misguided (Ptolemy) or both. Some believe that Cicero or St Augustine or Copernicus or Galileo or Kepler all managed to disprove astrology hundred of years ago and that in these enlightened times the people who do astrology are either those charlatans that we often hear about or deeply flawed and misguided individuals who 'should have listened to their teachers', or who should 'go do a science class'. Arguments have raged for centuries and books have been written about why this modern, materialist/reductionist view is true, a large (but fewer) number of books and articles have been written as to why it is not the truth. In the final analysis which side of the fence you sit seems to come down not to the level of education received or to level of intelligence (whatever that is) or to gender (even though astrology is a feminal subject in that it strongly appeals to members of the female gender), age, nationality or sexual persuasion, but to how much attention and respect you pay to the subject. And this may itself be governed simply by temperament. I guess the same is true of geology and palaeontology and any other subject you care to mention. This means that the value of astrology, like any other subject, is appreciated most by those who have studied it, read about it in a little depth, or possibly even learned its language. Unfortunately these qualities are an extreme rarity among those who pass judgement upon it. You really have to have the ability to 'step out of your box' to give astrology the time of day and most sceptics appear to be trained not to do this. The extent to which some respected modern thinkers have railed against astrology, for example, zoologist Richard Dawkins, astronomer Bart J. Bok and philosopher Bertrand Russell, shows that this subject really gets up some people's noses. This is mainly because they believe astrology to be an untenable proposition that contradicts their personal world view. Richard Dawkins, however, wrote this in 1995:
'If the methods of Astrologers were really shown to be valid it would be a fact of signal importance for science. Under such circumstances astrology should be taken seriously indeed.
For us to take a hypothesis seriously, it should ideally be supported by at least a little bit of evidence. If this is too much to ask, there should be some suggestion of a reason why it might be worth bothering to look for evidence.
.It is, of course, sun sign astrology's well-heeled practitioners in newspapers and on television that I am attacking as exploitative charlatans. If there is good evidence (i.e. better than the often quoted but non-robust Gauquelin attempt) that some other kinds of astrology work, well and good. I have to say that I'd be extremely surprised' 2
Revealing the reasonable side of his usually forthright Aries-Sun nature, 3 which by progression was in sceptical, but careful, Taurus in 1995. It has now progressed into Gemini, so his opinion may - or may not - have changed.
It's quite strange, but astrology does work, it always has, it just doesn't work in the same way that geology does. What Richard Dawkins is actually asking for, is for astrology to work in the way he likes to work. King Canute demonstrated the weakness in this approach a thousand years ago, methinks.
Other less authoritative figures, whose aim is to inform the uninformed adherents of astrology that their favourite hobby/subject/pastime is actually a fraud, include a number of famous conjurors and witty intellectuals including comic actor Stephen Fry, the son of a physicist, and a man who has done for science what the Reverend Ian Paisley did for Northern Ireland, James 'the Amazing' Randi. 4Some ungenerous commentators might suggest that their standpoint is little more than that of party-pooper, but no doubt they have an unparalleled understanding of the subject and the highest, most noble principles in mind when they attack astrology. This is not the appropriate place to examine in detail why astrology annoys some, suffice to say that most people who object to astrology have already made up their minds about it before they go into print on the subject (or in the case of Fry onto TV to talk about their hatred of it), and there is little to be gained by them backtracking. Astrology may have seemed like a sitting duck that could be shot down easily and many readers could be forgiven for thinking this is the case. The problem is, it isn't and never has been all that easy to criticise it without avoiding lots of issues and focusing either upon the way that astrology is represented to the public by its popular buskers and poets (whose role has actually kept the subject alive in the public consciousness for at least the past seventy years) or upon the fact that it doesn't match the literal expectations of comfortable science.
On the subject of literal expectations, the former astrologer David Hamblin made a statement in Garry P hillipson 's book Astrology in the Year Zero that touched a nerve with both astrologers and sceptics when he stated this:
' If what astrologers say is true then it should be possible, with properly controlled experiments and a large enough sample, to prove them to be true.if you're Aries you're more likely to be extrovert than Taurus. If there is any truth in these statements they must be capable of being proved statistically. 5
Although this declaration has some merit in that it is a very obvious, practically-minded statement, I also recognise the need to understand the way that astrology should work first and I see very little understanding of this concept in both the popular consciousness and also in most of the famous experiments carried out in the name of science, statistics and - sadly- astrology itself. 6 To me there is a lot more exactness in astrology than its observers (and - apparently - some of its practitioners) believe, but this exactness is derived more often from progressed planets than natal planets. I think Arthur Young came to this conclusion decades ago. David Hamblin, by the way, was an astrologer who stopped believing in astrology. It's also important to mention that when David Hamblin was an astrologer, he did not believe that there was any validity in symbolic techniques such as secondary progressions. It is also possible that some researchers find the concept of experimenting with advanced and symbolic techniques unnecessary if they can't find any reason to experiment with the subject's basic questions, such as 'Are all Aries people extroverts?' Perhaps we have been kept stupid by astrology's few 'scientific' researchers for so long because of this unfortunate banality, although I'm sure the most active of these, my neighbour in Perth, Geoffrey Dean, Ivan Kelly in Canada and Rudolph Smit in the Netherlands, will find some reason to disagree with me, their general approach to the subject is literal in nature and doesn't impress the majority of astrologers. Astrologers humour them nonetheless.
With the natal chart, we are very often required to speak in terms of archetypes and stereotypes in order to equate personality traits with planetary positions. With the progressed chart, because it is so much more refined (a progressed aspect has to be much more close to being geometrically exact before it is given the credence that is automatically conferred upon aspects in the natal chart), we can dispense with vagueness and actually see astrology at work. Using progressions is like data-mining - people who have analysed an information system using data mining technology will know that the techniques and processes used by these software tools can magnify and reveal hitherto invisible patterns in data.
How astrology works is not a question I seek to answer, mainly because I regard the question as unanswerable. In spite of this, in When Stars Collide, I have covered some of the underlying ideas that have been put forward to describe the way that it works and can expand these here, together with one or two assumptions that get up my nose, so to speak.
Sceptics have some favourite questions to ask astrologers. One of them concerns new planets. If astrology is true, how could any horoscope cast prior to 1930 be true if Pluto was not included in the earlier horoscope? Astrologers answer this question with another question: Plutonium was discovered in 1941 and was therefore not part of the Periodic Table. Was Chemistry any less true before the Periodic Table included Plutonium?
If you imagine Homer Simpson asking the first question and Lisa Simpson asking the second, you will come close to my view of this exchange.
Planets and Zodiac Signs
Certainly the reason why the majority of astrologers in the western tradition choose the tropical zodiac is because they are more comfortable with it than the sidereal zodiac (which takes its starting point from the constellation Aries, which is now about 23 degrees away from its position in 100CE, when the two zodiac's were co-terminus). Presumably most of them make this choice because they have observed the correspondences between zodiac signs and astrological events. For instance, the planet Pluto (yes in astrology Pluto is still a planet - the decisions of astronomers are very interesting, but are not related to astrology) is associated with sex, taxes, death, power -unleashed, transformation, solving mysteries, terror-tactics (Pluto or Hades in mythology would wear a helmet that made him invisible when 'above ground') and extremism.
.How can a small transneptunian body mean all these things, especially when it may have been named after Mickey Mouse's dog? Again, astrology is not about looking for causes, but examining effects and many astrologers are very impressed by Pluto. (As an aside, it is probably the furthest planet from the Earth from which we can gain personal and generational insights - Sedna for example is so far away that its transits through signs last for decades, you would really have to stand well back and take a historical perspective to analyse change in terms of Sedna's transits). Pluto recently transited through (tropical) Scorpio in a period of twelve years between 1984 and 1996. In doing so Pluto therefore conjoined (made a transiting conjunction with) the natal Sun of all living Sun-Scorpio's. In 1989 it was transiting like a celestial paint roller back and forth between 13 - 16 degrees Scorpio, therefore it should have affected everyone born around 7th to 9th November by transforming their lives in some way. 7 In 1989, British comedian Ken Dodd was prosecuted for alleged tax evasion (he was eventually acquitted, but required to pay nearly a million pounds in back taxes). Ken Dodd's birthday is 8th November and has the Sun at between 14 .5 and 15.5 degrees Scorpio. This would be a coincidence with no particular relevance had former British Champion Jockey Lester Piggott not been jailed two years earlier for tax irregularities. Lester Piggott was born on November 5th 1935 with the Sun at 11 degrees Scorpio and as Pluto was transiting between 7 and 11 degrees Scorpio in 1987, this meant the same scenario was being repeated in the Ken Dodd case. Pluto (taxes/transformation) was sitting on top of both of their natal Sun's at the time they were prosecuted. This might be happenstance if it weren't for the fact that when it had done transiting through Scorpio and moved into Sagittarius it was sitting right (slap bang) on top of British pop entrepreneur Jonathan King's (6th Dec 1944) natal Sun, at 14 degrees Sagittarius, when he was jailed for sex offences on November 21st 2001. This does not prove astrology scientifically because three incidents cannot be used as a rule. But the rule was present before the events, the experiences of these three celebrities matched Pluto's supposed role. If we then devise a test based on people who were prosecuted and the position of the planet Pluto we are, however, missing the point. The key to testing this scenario is not just about tax, sex and falling from grace. Apart from sex, death and taxes, Pluto has this tendency to rake things up, revealing hitherto hidden, underlying (alleged) facts and transforming the life. If we were to draw up a model to test Pluto in this context, we must also take into consideration the experiences and the previous life-choices of individuals. You don't actually need to go to court to be profoundly affected by Pluto transits, but if you show this example to a statistician, they would most probably look at alleged tax dodgers and Pluto aspects to the natal chart, perhaps without even noting that Scorpio is related to tax and Sagittarius isn't.and they may not even bother with the progressed Sun or the fact that Saturn can often mimic Pluto in effect (the life changes profoundly because of previous decisions/actions), while Saturn's 'reasons' for changing your life are, symbolically speaking, different. Where Pluto rakes things up like a detective, Saturn seeks to assign consequences to your actions like a judge and jury (or force you in to such a situation that you judge yourself). If you look carefully at the natal, progressed and solar arc charts of Oscar Wilde, Al Capone, Gary Glitter, Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken together with the transiting chart for the date of their convictions, you will find that squares, conjunctions and oppositions of both Saturn and Pluto are parts of unique configurations that play out over time, which to astrologers make perfect sense, but which are difficult to break down to single consistent factors. Court cases take time and for most the processes of change that events such as these create are not zapped into their lives on the day of their conviction, but are actually, like astrology, played out over time. The questions these facts raise are not whether astrology is true and accurate, but how do you design experiments to show how configurations of events change individuals. The conjunctions, squares and oppositions of the outer planets to natal and progressed planets are often present when crises occur, but their effects differ simply because everyone is different, everyone has a different horoscope (or horoscopes) and previous life choices are free.
It should be remembered that Saturn will only transit over your Sun every 28.5 years. Pluto is a much more occasional visitor, turning up for a two-year stint every 248 years. Uranus, a great disruptor of lives, makes its circle of the zodiac every 84 years. Chances are you will experience a conjunction of Uranus 8 with your natal Sun at some point in your life, but maybe not a conjunction of Pluto.
Generally, astrologers have a lot of time for Pluto, which may be one of the reasons why some astronomers were so keen to relegate it from planet to dwarf planet or planetoid or pluton or whatever they call it. Of course this would not have any effect on the real world. Whichever real world you happen to live in, Pluto's effect will remain.
Pluto was busy transforming Virgos from 1957 to 1972 and Libras from 1972 to 1984. For example, it was on top of Cynthia Lennon's Virgo Sun when her marriage to John Lennon failed between 1966 and 1968.
Pluto is currently transiting over persons born in the last few degrees of Sagittarius and will be there until 2008, when he will enter Capricorn. This means any readers of this article in the years between 2006 and 2008 who were born between 19th and 24th December (any year) will be experiencing a Pluto conjunction as they read this. Gemini's born from 18th to 21st June (any year) will be experiencing a Pluto opposition between 2006 and 2008.both can be life-changing scenarios and both can be positive, but often quite challenging, experiences.
Although the world was not free from AIDS or HIV prior to Pluto's entry into the sign Scorpio (also associated with sex and death), this disease started to enter the common consciousness and parlance in 1984, the same year Pluto entered Scorpio in the tropical zodiac and the year Michel Foucault died (and the year before film star Rock Hudson 9 died) of an AIDS related illness. The disease had first been termed acquired immune deficiency syndrome in 1982 and HIV was first named as the retrovirus that caused AIDS in 1986. The effect of AIDS began to be felt during the twelve years Pluto spent in Scorpio. Astrologers who use the tropical zodiac cannot ascribe the revelation of AIDS in the collective human consciousness with Pluto being in Libra.
If we measure the entry of Pluto in the sidereal zodiac we find that Pluto doesn't enter Scorpio until 1992. Pluto's transit through tropical Scorpio ended in 1996, when it entered the sign of religion, philosophy and ideology - Sagittarius 10 - this is congruent with the fact of terrorism (Pluto) carried out in the name of religion (Sagittarius) being heightened in the collective human consciousness.
The sign Gemini is associated with commerce and trade. The planet Saturn is associated with security and the establishment - any establishment (including buildings), but also the 'ruling or controlling establishment'.
Pluto was at 13 degrees Sagittarius (in the tropical zodiac) on 11th September 2001, but still at 19 degrees Scorpio in the sidereal zodiac, and incidentally opposite Saturn in the sign of Gemini - the Twins - in the tropical zodiac (or Taurus - the Bull - in the sidereal zodiac), at the time. The fact that 'Pluto' in Sagittarius - standing for power (Pluto) in the hands of religious (Sagittarius) extremists (Pluto) working abroad (Sagittarius) - symbolically took aim with four aircraft and shot two of his deadly arrows (Sagittarius - the Archer) at a structure resembling the Gemini glyph ( II ), which was closely associated with commerce, trade and the world economic establishment, 11 and another structure associated with security (the Pentagon), strikes many tropical astrologers as frighteningly pertinent. Few would use this example as a 'proof' of astrology, but among astrologers, it might be cited as evidence for the tropical zodiac in favour of the sidereal zodiac. 12 You would be forgiven for asking if events such as these could be predicted, the answer is probably not. Prediction by, and the appreciation of, astrology are two different ends of the astrological spectrum. I prefer to concentrate on the latter. Prediction is almost always arbitrary (in a universe of variable possibilities), using transits and progressions. 13 The appreciation of astrology involves the application of symbolism to a previous event, perhaps with some foreknowledge that a similar event might take place, but usually just with the appreciation that the event is congruent with the astrological situation.
When one of the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and, to a lesser extent, Saturn, enter a new zodiac sign (this is called its ingress into a sign), we sometimes hear of astrologers predicting the future based on this event. Here's a simplified explanation of how some do it.
Uranus is associated with sudden disastrous events as well as technology, earthquakes, revolution, wind (Uranus was the god of the sky), and electricity. He spends about seven years in each of the signs. When he entered Aquarius (also associated with technology, but also with detached or disconnected association) in 1995 comparatively few of us knew what the internet was. By the time he left Aquarius in 2003, the internet was so firmly established we had already had a dot com boom (and subsequent crash), the majority of the world was networked and a comparatively massive number of people had an email address. The period when Uranus was in Aquarius encompasses the time sometimes termed the Internet Revolution . So, when Uranus moved into Pisces in 2003, predictor's just put the keywords associated with Uranus (see above) together with some keywords associated with Pisces (water and fish are the two favourites for this sign, but there are lots of others). So, if we put these two astrological elements together and make a few predictions for the period 2003 to 2011 here's what we might come up with:
Uranus + Pisces =
1) Sudden Disasters caused by Water + Earthquakes + Wind
2) Or a new type of Electric Fish is discovered.
3) Or hydro-electric power suddenly becomes important or significant. Or maybe we should just jumble these words around and come up with something similar to hydro-electric.
Although we're still waiting for the electric fish, and the hydro-electric power lobby have not yet seized the day, hydrogen fuel cells intended to drive vehicles are being developed. This is interesting as theoretically this could mean that in the near future cars will run on processed sea water rather than oil. Hmm, sounds like Uranus (electricity) in Pisces (water) to me.
We can't really ignore a recent tsunami in South East Asia which killed hundreds of thousands and (as of September 2005) a couple of hurricanes that displaced more than a million Americans - and - four devastating Typhoons in Taiwan, which might fit in with the first prediction, as well as flash floods in Vietnam and Germany. Uranus is in Pisces until 2011 so there's still time for the electric fish to turn up. (The day after I wrote the previous few paragraphs, the following story was reported on the BBC News web site: " High-tech electronic tags on the whale shark, the world's largest fish, have revealed how and where they find food" . If I'd mentioned high-tech electronic tags were associated with Uranus it might have almost been impressive and shows how astrology allows different variable keywords to be interpreted in wide, but finite terms. I guess I missed my big chance. )14
Of course, hurricanes and tsunamis happen when Uranus is not in Pisces. it's just that they should be particularly memorable when Uranus is in Pisces: they become historically associated with the time they happened in the collective consciousness . While this isn't an argument for astrology, hopefully the reader can appreciate the congruence of the astrologer's planet-in-sign reference points. If Uranus in Pisces means sudden disasters relating to the sea , in Aquarius, an air sign, (where it was from 1995 to 2003) it should have correlated with sudden disasters relating to the sky , and many will recall it did: apart from all the usual statistically-expected air disasters, we also have three iconic sky-disaster events: the attacks on the United States on September 11 th 2001; Concorde, the first supersonic passenger jet, crashed in Paris in 2000 and the destruction of the first Space Shuttle - Columbia - happened in 2003, just before Uranus left Aquarius. All of these events were also sudden and surprising - both Uranian words.
Although these examples cannot be cited as an argument for either zodiac, (and in any case as an argument these anecdotes don't present the sort of in-depth analysis required of such an issue), they are typical examples of the arguments put forward for the tropical zodiac. If there were no such thing as a progressed horoscope and symbolic astrology there might be a case to use a constellation as a reference point. As I don't believe that astrology is solely a real-time system of knowledge related to physical causality, I can find no reason why a real-space-time (precessing) constellation should be posited as an astrological reference point. At the very least I think zodiac signs should be considered as products of human (un)consciousness before they are rejected as absurdities. In any event, any zodiac is just a field, like a football field. The planets are the players. It is possible to play a game of football (American, Aussie-rules, Rugby , Gaelic, Soccer), but it's pretty pointless to just look at a field without any players. Sun sign astrology, in this analogy, is a bit like watching a penalty shoot out in soccer, the Sun being the goalkeeper.
Even sidereal astrologers who believe the constellations are also (somehow) the zodiac signs have a hard time from sceptics. The vast distances between the stars which constitute the constellations of the zodiac are cited by literalists as a reason why astrology is absurd. When we look at the stars as they appear in the night sky, the actual light they transmit has been travelling for minimum of four years and in many cases for hundreds or thousands of years. For the stars to have a real-time effect on us is plainly absurd because the fastest classical physical phenomenon there is (light) cannot cover such vast distances instantaneously. Distance however, is only an issue if we think that a physical force is exerted upon us from burning spheres a thousand years away. In classical and modern physics, there is no real-time relationship between the stars as they burn now (Earth Time) and the people who see them now (Earth Time). If astrology is true, then classical or modern physics has nothing to do with it. Astrology is person-centred, not star-centred.
In 2003 a study published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies proclaimed that a study of 2101 'time-twins' born on average 4.8 minutes apart in London in early March 1958 had proved conclusively that astrology was not true, because the subjects of the study had had different life events, interests and behaviours.
The natal chart is a map of potentialities. The progressed chart shows how these potentials enter the realms of probability via psychological changes that take place within the individual, as the positions of the planets and angles in the progressed chart slowly change.
If you erect a horoscope for someone born on 17th March 1957 at 08:45pm (date chosen at random) in Birmingham, England and then another for a child born at 08:48pm (3 minutes later) in exactly the same place, progressed Venus will pass over the first child's progressed descendant (perhaps signifying marriage or a relationship event) on 27th August 2015. The same planet will pass over the second child's progressed descendant on 12th June 2016. Three minutes creates a difference of over nine months for the progressing Venus to reach the progressed descendant. If we erect a horoscope for a child born on 17th March 1957 at 08:45pm in London , England they will have to wait until the 20th December 2018 for their progressed Venus to reach their progressed descendant. In the second case, two children born at exactly the same moment 100 miles apart have a difference of over three years before the event takes place. If we add a fourth child, born in London on March 17th 1957 at 08:46pm (just one minute after child three), we find that progressed Venus reaches the progressed descendant on 9th April 2019 almost four months after child three experienced the same progression. If we add a fifth child born at 08:45pm in another part of London (Croydon), we find that they have to wait 90 days until 20th March 2019 for their progressed Venus - progressed Descendant conjunction.
If progressions are important (they are used by more than 80% of astrologers in the west) and they show the developing psyche of an individual, then if the study of time twins referred to in the Journal of Consciousness Studies did not study this particular claim of astrology, then I would question its relevance. Any study of astrology based solely on the natal chart is likely to fail simply because of what the natal chart is .
Natural and Judicial Astrology
The two contrasting philosophical ideas of astrology are that it is scientific (Natural Astrology) this point of view implies that astrology is true regardless of any human observer or practitioner, 'it's always been true'. Or that it is a human subject (Judicial Astrology) this perspective suggests the need for human beings to take part in the astrological experience - 'we make it true'. The former perspective would demand that astrology be statistically testable and, if true, provable. The latter suggests that astrology can be a slippery subject, adaptable to any and all situations, indescribably multiplex and dynamic and not necessarily scientifically quantifiable because it is not falsifiable and therefore not verifiable: as numerically multi-faceted as there are people on Earth. In fact it describes just what most astrologers claim that astrology is: a very clever subject indeed. Cleverer than people are and therefore, unfortunately also without much use in day to day life: as if it is an attribute of nature that acts with an element of its own consciousness.
To me, a universe in which astrology is a working component is also a universe where symbolism and metaphor have a unique quality and if you don't appreciate the communication of ideas via symbol and metaphor and you prefer to have immediate and definitive answers, then that's OK, but you won't appreciate astrology. Most astrologers in the west have been subject to a similar educational system as their sceptical opponents. Many astrologers have been trained in scientific environments or disciplines. It cannot be said that their opponents generally have a grasp of the possibilities of astrology. So it could be said that if there is something missing, it is in the appreciation of the astrological world view by people who are sceptical and not vice versa. Then again, this is probably the result of temperament rather than education and defining this is not easy.
Astrology is distinct in being the only science-like subject that has survived for at least four thousand years outside human understanding and so has therefore borrowed from the science of the moment at every point in its history in an attempt to explain its nature. It has already been noted by others that astrology has moulded itself to whatever causal explanation was available at the time, from the Greek ideas of the fates, through planetary rays and gravitational effects to the modern psychological ideas of Jung and Seymour 's theories of resonance. It should not be a negative reflection upon astrology that it can blend its nature into prevailing scientific ideas. It is more of a limitation of human intellect to not recognise that, philosophically speaking, astrology by its nature should be very near to impossible to pin down scientifically.
The metaphysical view of astrology suggests that astrology is beyond or above science, another way of describing this proposition is that astrology (or in simple terms, the meaning inherent in time itself) acts in a way that includes science within its boundaries. And science; the human attempt to understand universal laws of nature, lies within this system of meaningful time and is therefore at a disadvantage in coming to terms with the meaning that may underpin the purpose of the universe. A simple analogy will help me to explain this perspective. If we propose a human civilisation that develops in a room with no windows to enable a view of whatever is outside and no doors to enable excursions to measure the outer-world. Let us propose one member of this civilisation has the intellect of Galileo and that they have the mathematical ability to weigh and measure, and also that scientific enquiry is one mode of thought which is inherent in humanness. It would be perfectly possible for this person of great genius to measure whatever is inside this room and to formulate a mathematical theory of its dimensions and physical attributes, despite his imprisonment. He/She could then even begin to formulate theories of motion (though this may take a lot of theoretical serendipity). It would also be theoretically possible for this individual to account for the room's material beginnings (of course it may have come about by some natural accident, and our imprisoned Galileo may be forgiven for hypothesising either design by accident or design by some other unknown intelligence. It is certain that any philosophical hypothesis will be coloured by the information, legends and stories passed on by previous generations occupying the room). In the end all of the theories that emanate from this remarkable individual, whether testable or not, are subject to one all consuming problem: they are based on conditions inside the room. If the room is shaped like a cube, the world view has to be that everyone in the room lives in a cubic shaped world. This is because the shape of the cubic room can be measured to perfection from the inside, but unfortunately for the inhabitants of the cubic room, they cannot get outside to measure its exterior dimensions, which may in fact be globe shaped, star-shaped or it may in fact be shaped like a cup cake and have a large flashing neon sign attached to its roof. Science has the same problem, it can measure and solve any problem within its jurisdiction, but astrology, because it is apparently a system which describes the meaning inherent in moments in time, may actually be outside this jurisdiction and still be true. That is: science is subject to time, but time is not necessarily subject to science. If it were vice versa, Galileo himself would not have had to wait 200 years for the publication of his Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World. 15
Perhaps this is the case because 'God' wanted to make sure no single individual, not even if their middle name is 'Amazing', should ever have all the answers.
The idea that astrology is part of the occult, it is supernatural and that it is therefore implausible seems to me to be an assumption made by those who don't want to make any effort to define it or what kind of qualities it would have if it happened to be true.
In my opinion, if astrology is true, then it simply has to be hard to fathom for it to have been developed (or for it to have developed naturally) in the first instance.
Of course, if we accept astrology is true and if we recognise it as more than an organising principle, we are also accepting a universe imbued with meaning and we are also probably accepting some kind of god-force, as the existence of an astrological phenomenon suggests that there is some kind of intelligent design to the world in which we live. We would probably be forced to accept that it is there for a purpose of some sort, although there is no guarantee that we can ever know its purpose. This perspective is not popular with most scientists as it undermines their raison d'etre. A universe that can never be completely understood empirically is one which ultimately relegates the work of the scientist to a more limited and therefore seemingly less important level. Astrology suggests that we can never be masters of the universe and scientists don't want to hear any kind of talk that might impact on their status and funding, and they have a very practical point here.
Science, in general terms, has reached a point where it no longer requires the presence of a god or gods to explain the origin of physical life and the universe. This is by no means a permanent solution to the various imponderable riddles and questions that observation of the universe throws up, but it makes some sense at this moment in time: it is as if primitive human beings posit God as the creator until they become able to question and analyse in some critical depth, they then spend some time embarking on useful scepticism at which point they disposit God in favour of Nature, a word which can reliably describe the physical laws of the universe - an impersonal God - then, I would venture to suggest, after an appropriate amount of time, it will become clear that in order to rationalise the many observable truths of life, the idea of God, an intelligent universe or perhaps quantum consciousness with all its implications of an afterlife, must be reappraised. I think therefore that the current scientific trend of treating our experience of the world rationally is a useful part of a development process. I also have some sympathy with the views of people who are sceptical about astrology. After all, at this moment in the evolution of civilisation, I would rather rely on well measured, well researched, balanced pragmatism than be subject to the inquisition. Air travel is also far more useful to most people than astral travel.at this point in time.
Perhaps another problem is that it is difficult to imagine a future world where astrology can be utilised practically. Some say any subject that has ostensibly not developed much in three thousand years must be untrue. This is a logical fallacy if you consider the nature of the beast. If astrology were mostly true and also 'outside science' in the first place, discoveries would be few and far between, whereas practical implementation of the subject might vary widely due to the lack of comfortable logic (and therefore the lack of a guidebook to refer to). Astrology cannot be tamed in the same way that science tames other subjects and brings them within its remit because that would require astrology to be logical. Logic can only be applied to four dimensions. Astrology, like people, can be seen to work in terms of at least five dimensions (remember, choice is like a fifth dimension and astrology facilitates both choice and individuality), the same cannot be said of three dimensional physical objects like tables, chairs, rocks and cars which exist in time, but which do not have choice and therefore respond to logical rules. A car cannot drive itself and can be completely understood in simple terms - a human being can drive a car and cannot be completely understood in simple terms. The human body is however, a physical object, which loses this 'fifth dimensional' ability to choose at death.
Astrology should not be used to govern countries, but it will always be there in the background as it always has been, reflecting change and allowing us to gain personal insights into our lives as individuals rather than being used in a collective sense to predict disasters and the fate of nations. People change the fate of nations, but the process of gaining real insight into one's life is never a negative path to tread and I believe that looking inward makes better, more caring and responsible people who are better able to empathise with and love themselves and others. Astrology can be utilised as a way to look inward, the insights it has given me about my own life have been profound and, in the final analysis, these insights are more spiritual than practical, but occasionally in life the two things, spirituality and practicality, overlap.
References and Notes
1 The association of females with the Moon may be prehistoric in origin. One theory suggests that when humans were nomadic hunter-gatherers, females organised the camp and had a very important and central role in life which may have been religious in nature. Humans would move in groups which pursued large game animals. Men would hunt by the light of the moon for the three weeks when the moon was bright, and rest at the time the moon was new and dark. The moon was central to life and religion during this time-period. As the weather grew colder at the time of the last Ice Age, larger game started to die out and man began to cultivate the land. This was when the concept of private property began because land was needed for agriculture. The sun fed the crops and the moon became less important to daily life. The role of women became that of private property and who, like land, could be taken by aggressors. This is also when communities arose based on land division and male authority and strength and, we can assume, Sun-worship also began. Indeed, if Cain is seen as an agriculturalist and Abel as a hunter rather than a pastoral farmer, we can assume this Genesis story is a parable for the rise of property ownership and its accompanying reason to murder.
This theory also suggests that prostitution is not the world's oldest occupation. In fact the two oldest occupations are Priestess and Hunter, then came Farmer, Warrior, Estate Agent and Prostitute.
2 Richard Dawkins, The Real Romance in the Stars , Independent Newspaper , UK , December 1995
3 Dawkins has been nicknamed Darwin's Pitbull for his uncompromising defence of the theory of natural selection
4 Both Paisley and Randi, like Richard Dawkins, were born with the Sun in a fire sign which might explain their slightly aggressive manner. Randi has more planets in fixed and fiery Leo than you can shake a stick at, whereas Paisley is a Sun-Aries who has lived up to the combative potential of his natal Sun. Mr Randi has stated that he does not take narcotics or alcohol because he wishes to be in control. He then goes on to state that he also wishes to be completely certain about the world he lives in. I do not want Mr Randi to be in control of my world as I suspect jackboots would chafe. It should be mentioned however that he has done some good work unmasking at least one con artist(a US healer/preacher).
5 Garry Phillipson , Astrology in the Year Zero, Flare, 2000
6 Some of the more informed astrological experiments can be found in the Astrological Association of Great Britain's research journal Correlation .
7 My birthday is November 8th. On 6th November 1989, Pluto conjoined my natal Sun. This was the day I met my former partner, with whom I lived for seven years. Less than two months later, on December 30th , my father died. By the end of the Pluto conjunction in 1991 my life had changed completely.
8 Although Uranus is not particularly associated with death, it is associated with suddenness and freedom - the freeing of the individual from constraints. Its transits by conjunction and opposition have been notable in the charts of some recent prominent deaths. It was conjunct politician Robin Cook's Sun at his death and opposite John Peel, Emlyn Hughes and Yasser Arafat's Sun at the times of their respective deaths.
9 By the way, Rock Hudson was born on 17th November 1925, putting his natal Sun at between 24 and 25 degrees Scorpio. At his death on 2nd October 1985, the planet Saturn was transiting 24 degrees Scorpio. This transit is relatively rare happening on average every 28.5 years.
10 Sagittarius rules the natural ninth house of the horoscope, wherein we find our potential for religious, philosophical and ideological thought as well as long distance travel and our dealings with people foreign to us
11 Again I must emphasise that the Saturn Pluto opposition did not cause the events of September 11th , but the positions of the planets correspond symbolically to the deadly characteristics of that moment.
12 See http://www.skyscript.co.uk/sidereal.html for an interesting debate between David McCann, a tropicalist and Ken Bowser, a siderealist
13 Although I must say I have been impressed by the systems of prediction used by traditional astrologers, for example, Robert Zoller and John Frawley, who use techniques associated with the mediaeval astrologers Bonatti, Al Biruni, Morin and Lilly among others.
15 I must recognise Plato's Cave in the formulation of this scenario.
If you have come this far and haven't yet read When Stars Collide I strongly recommend that you get hold of a copy. It will clarify some of what you have read here and, I suspect, change your view of astrology forever.