THE FIRST STEP - To Understand the Nature and Purpose of What One is About to Study
One may acquire knowledge without enquiring into the nature of the subject one is about to study,
or into the purpose of the study; but wisdom will ever elude the man who is contented with accumulating facts and technical data. Wisdom is based on useable knowledge and on the purposeful use of it. Therefore the aimless approach to astrology, or the approach based on mere personal curiosity, should be transformed by a clear recognition of the nature and goal of astrology, if the study of astrology is to orient man toward a deeper understanding of human nature and of all manifestations of life. Every student however casual his study should ask honestly to himself: what does astrology mean to me? What is my aim in becoming better acquainted with it?
No one can answer these question for the student, but the considerations which follow should help to make him more aware of the nature and the limitations of astrological thinking and astrological practice.
Astrology and Astronomy
Astronomy is the scientific study of celestial phenomena. It studies how things happen in what we call the universe.
Astrology, on the other hand, is a technique of symbolization and of prognostication, in which some selected categories of astronomical data are used as indicators of the behavior of the basic functional activities within "organic wholes" and of the structural characteristics displayed by these wholes. Astrology does not attempt to tell in a scientific manner how things happen, either in the sky or in human beings. Astrology does not describe phenomena or events; nor does it seek to grasp the chain of causes and effects in any of the matters it touches. Astrology, as I understand it, has no concern whatsoever with whether a conjunction of planets causes some things to happen to a person or a nation; it only indicates the possibility or probability of a certain type of event occurring in a certain place at a certain time. It does not tell us why or how the event occurs, no more than a clock striking noon tells us why or how the sensation of hunger arises in the consciousness of the worker accustomed to eat at such a time of the day-cycle. The conjunction and the sound of the clock merely point to the normal expectancy of a certain type of condition taking place at a particular time in a man's consciousness.
Astrology is primarily a method for the interpretation, at several levels, of the relationship between causally unrelated sets of phenomena. This simply means that astrology "interprets" the observable concurrence between celestial phenomena and more or less definite changes in the lives of individuals or groups, but it is not concerned with the scientific study of the cause of such a concurrence, except on a purely philosophical or metaphysical basis. Such a scientific study could be attempted and some astrologers are making such an attempt on rather slim foundations; but the success or failure of the attempt does not affect the astrological findings and does not add any significant value to astrology as a "technique in human understanding." Astrology is a study of an observable parallelism between the timing of events in the universe and in the individual consciousness. It is a study of time-pieces; for every planet, and the Sun and Moon, are in astrology time-pieces which enable us to find the state of development in time (the point of maturity) of the various organic activities and functions within all living organisms.
"Organism" and "Organic Whole" Defined
An organism is an organized living being which is born, comes to maturity and dies, or becomes transformed into some other form of life. A cell, a plant, an animal, and a human being are organisms. Beside such actually living entities, there are what we shall call "organic wholes." These are systems of mutually related elements and activities constantly interacting, and having some kind of more or less permanent identity. A nation, a business corporation, and even a particular well-defined situation caused by the coming together of several individuals who remain closely interrelated, constitute "organic wholes." These also can be said to be born, to develop and mature, then to disintegrate according to a measurable rhythm. They have a recognizable basic structure.
The term "structure" is considered here in its broadest meaning, and it can be modified by special uses in relation to special sets of factors. Structure does not refer only to the particular organization of physical materials as when we speak of the skeleton as the basis of the body-structure. We can speak also of the structure of an electromagnetic field: that is, of the web of "lines of force," which are made visible only when iron-fillings are placed in that field, I will be mentioning often the structure of the psyche, of the mind; the structure of functions, at one level or another.
What is meant by structure is always the more or less permanent results of the workings of a principle of organization. It refers to the web of relationships within the limits of the organic whole; to the place occupied by the various organs within this whole, to the schedule of their joint operations: structure in space structure in time. The former, structure in space, is Form; the latter, structure in time, Rhythm. The full and perfect Form is the Sphere; the complete Rhythm manifests as the Cycle.
As we use the term function here, it characterizes activities which play a well-defined, regular and recurrent part in the life of an organism, whether at the physiological or psychological level. The activities of the organs and cells of the body are all related to the entire behavior of the organism as a whole, and they are interacting and interdependent. Likewise the activities which come under the categories of thinking, feeling, willing, etc. are also to be considered as "functional" for they should always be referred to the whole personality and studied in their mutual relationships.
The functions of the body have acquired throughout the ages of human evolution a remarkable stability and their interdependence is so well organized that all kinds of automatic mechanisms preserve constantly the health (i.e. the integration) of the organism. These mechanisms of self-restoring wholeness and health are not yet adequately developed at the psychomental levels of human activity. Thus the problem of personal-psychological integration is often acute, even where the person is supposedly sane and successful. This is particularly so today in a time of social, political and world-wide upheavals.
What is the Main Subject-Matter of Astrology?
It is the individual human person considered as an integral organism including bodily, psychic, mental, social and spiritual activities of many types and at several levels. The terms body, mind, feelings, soul define loosely these various types or categories of activities. All these activities are "human" activities because, however similar some of these may be to the activities displayed in other kingdoms of life (animal, vegetable, etc.), they are nevertheless polarized by, and essentially subservient to, a generic Pattern and purpose which is characteristic of the human kingdom and exclusive to it. Man may digest his food like other mammals, but in as much as be can be conscious of this digestive process and can interfere with it deliberately for good or ill digestion in all men is "human."
The field of astrological interpretation extends to any relatively permanent group of human persons or to any situation within the flux of human experience. Groups or series of natural phenomena as for instance those referring to the weather can also be analyzed and their development interpreted by means of astrological charts, but, essentially, only in so far as they are parts of the collective experience of human beings.
The basic purpose of astrology is to bring order to the apparent chaos of man's experience, and thus help the individual or the group to achieve a greater degree of integration, health and sanity. It is to build a more conscious approach to human life and a deeper understanding of the structural characteristics and of the cyclic behavior of all organisms. Thus its importance; for it is man's prerogative and spiritual obligation to tread the "conscious Way."
However, astrology offers no shortcut to integration, because the integration of any organic whole is a gradual process depending, on one hand, upon the very intensity of the feeling of "order," and of the realization of "center," in the many parts of this whole and on the other hand, upon). the readiness of the spiritual Principle linked with this organism-in-the-making to dynamize and illumine the organism's efforts toward complete and harmonic organization. Moreover, every factor which is to be seen in an astrological chart can contribute either to personal integration or to disintegration. What the birth-chart does is to present in a special manner the data which the psychologist and the physician use in their therapies.
The manner of this presentation, however, throws an entirely new light upon the component parts, functions, drives and potentialities of the individual personality. By the use of this new light, a person who understands well its value and the way of handling it is able to become more fully objective to himself. He is able to chart the course of his organic development, to plot the curve of his life-powers, and to see himself reduced to essentials. Underneath the confusion of his everyday experience, he comes to discern a pattern of order. All his conflicting tendencies reveal themselves as complementary components of his integral personality. He sees himself whole, in structure and function.
What he sees, however, is not a graphic image or portrait. He sees only a symbol. The birth-chart is only a symbol: the "name" of the total person. But by learning to spell this "name," the individual may find if he be wise! how best to strive, in his own way, toward actual and everyday-demonstrated integration. The astrologer-psychologist can only point the way to him. The individual alone can utter the "name," symbol of integral selfhood. He utters it only by living significantly and fully what he is, within the larger framework of society and humanity.
Predictability is a consequence of ordered development. If there is complete order in the universe, then one may be able to predict what next phase of a cycle will follow the present phase. If predictability were an illusion there could be no science, no generalization and no law. In so far as astrology is a science it must therefore include predictions.
Astronomy is a system of prediction of celestial phenomena. Astrology, however, does not deal with the determination of celestial phenomena, but with their interpretation in terms of human character and behavior. When a planet is given a certain meaning in astrology, this meaning is conditioned, both, by its astronomical features within the solar system, and by what it represents in relation to the total human person (or total situation affecting the individual). Any one of the planetary meanings presupposes the existence of complete persons as the frame of reference for such meanings. Astrology refers thus always, implicitly to the totality of human nature, as expressed in an individual.
Obviously, therefore, no astrological meaning or judgment is ever fully expressed which does not take in consideration the whole human being. To say that two planets will be conjunct at a certain time is astronomical. To add that the life of a man born at a certain time and place will experience a crisis, the date of which can be ascertained is an astrological statement. In this statement the starting point is "the life of a man." Any prediction which does not take this whole entity "the life of a man" as a foundation or frame of reference is at best incomplete. It is, in most cases, misleading; in some cases, actually destructive. It has value only as it is shown in its relation to the whole individual person, and to what it contributes to this person's development, at one level or another.
Astrology does not predict "events" but only phases in a person's development. Every individual person develops along lines which are first of all "generic" that is, which results from the simple fact that he is a human being, member of the genus, homo sapiens, at a particular time of mankind's evolution. These lines of development determine the general pattern of the life-span of every man. Likewise every man has basic bio-psychological characteristics which determine his generic structure. On this theme, human nature, races and individuals produce variations of many kinds. A man is first human, then white-skinned, then American, than a Californian of English-French ancestry, then a Methodist, a Democrat, etc. and lastly he is an individual born at a certain time and on a particular spot.
Free will is the measure of a man's capacity to be and act as an individual. Fate is the measure of his dependence upon collective and generic standards as determining structures.
Astrology deals first with human nature in a generic sense; as it does so, it can be fairly certain that the known order of normal phases of human development will be approximately experienced by the client in as much as he is a human being; and this gives the astrologer a basis for prediction. Yet no astrologer should stop there. He should seek to define and understand the "individual equation" in his client which means, the way the client does, and can be expected to react to the basic turning points of his life as an individual. This can only be done by considering the birth-chart and its time-development as a whole. The individual is the whole-man, the integral person. And no one can determine in advance the actions and reactions of an integral person who has become truly individualized; for such a person has become free, within the limits of his generic structures. Astrology can define the limits, but it can only suggest the freedom. Every moment of the life of an individual is a composite of both these factors.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1969 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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