Solstice and the soul of astrology

AstrologyAstrology should never be mistaken for a science. The planets, for example are named after the gods of the ancient Roman pantheon, and the meanings attributed to the planets astrologically are derived from the essential characters of these deities who exist, as Jung tells us, as powers of the psyche or personality. It is as if the ancients looked up at the stars in the night sky and labelled them according to imaginary figures that they saw, perhaps correlating with what was happening on the ground at the time of the year that they were overhead. The imaginary figures were of course great heroes and gods in the tradition of those observers, like Hercules and Andromeda, and it may have been more than just imagination which inspired them to label the constellations as they did, although that motive is lost in the mists of time.

Somehow the visible planets of the ancients, leading up to Saturn, were labelled according to their characteristics to some degree, and their perceived influence over the human affairs. Indeed, in time the apparent influence of the planets over the affairs of humanity was taken literally, as if the planet itself was the source or cause of the symptom experienced. Certainly there may be some literal gravitational influence from the planets upon the earth, as with the Moon for example, but Jung, the psychologist who most influenced 20th century thinking on the matter of the mind, describes the presumed influence of the planets as “projection”. He writes in 1947 in a letter to prof. B.V. Raman: “Astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call projected – this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations. This originally gave rise to the idea that these factors derive from the stars, whereas they are merely in a relation of synchronicity with them. I admit that this is a very curious fact which throws a peculiar light on the structure of the human mind.” Jung curiuosly became an avid student of astrology, which he felt aided in his psychoanalytic research. But as a scientist, he never took the influence of the planets on earth literally. Of course even the study of the psyche is a human science and not a pure science, and many may even question the validity of psychology itself, although psychiatry somehow has become accepted as scientific, perhaps based on observation and experimentation. Similarly astrologers both ancient and modern may have found their hypotheses confirmed based on observaton of paterns and cycles in time and in the lives of their fellow men and women.

Some degree of literal awareness was probably originally there in the astrolgers of old when for example they saw Mars to be reddish in colour and thus named it after the god of war, or observed Jupiter to be biggest and thus named him after the chief god of the pantheon. But as to how such a distant planet can have a certain influence when passing through one constellation of the zodiac as compared to another remains to me a mystery and only a speculation. But there it is, taken quite seriously by millions even today, many of whom pride themselves in being most ratonal and scientific in their perception of reality. The mind is surprisingly superstitious it seems, and is also willing to suspend disbelief in so many instances in our lives today, and astrology or religion are just two such cases. Religion depends on a foundation of faith, faith in certain mythical gods of old described in texts, and astrology also depends on faith in planets named after gods, with the traits of gods, as described in ancient texts going back millenia, and copied by Medieval and subsequently modern writers. Even more radical is the acceptance of the newly discovered planets, from Uranus to Pluto, which were only discovered in relatively recent times and also named after the Roman gods, quite randomly or instinctively by astronomers of the day, and which are now also accepted as distinct literal influencers or at least signposts of personality and events on the ground. Again we might remember the words of Jung when describing astrology for what it is: “The collective unconscious…appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious. We can see this most clearly if we look at the heavenly constellations, whose originally chaotic forms are organized through the projection of images. This explains the influence of the stars as asserted by astrologers. These influences are nothing but unconscious, introspective perceptions of the collective unconscious.” Jung is saying here that humanity has “projected” from our psyche, the myths of old onto the random stars above, and that the correlations or coincidences of events above to events below are “synchronicity”. Within the art of astrology there is a great deal of science, in the form of mathematical calculations, geometric patterns and angles, as well as finely timed cycles, but the interpretation thereof is ultimetely based on “projection” and “synchronicity”. Therefore astrology should never be seen as anything more than an oracle. What does that say about religion then? There too we find multiple gods, written about in texts that are thousands of years old, performing supernatural and cosmically monumental acts and yet still worshiped and accepted as equal as any scientifically observable reality we see today. Ultimetely it depends on faith, particularly in your source of reference. Besides that, even today we cannot rely solely on our five senses for confirmation of reality. Even scientists are discovering truths that defy our senses, and even defy their own prior laws of physics.

So I think it is safe to say that even scientists are still newly labeling reality as they are currently able to perceive it, and that there is far more to reality than meets the eye of the scientist, and that in time the messages of the gods of ancient and their pastimes may be more real than we think, and that science still has some way to go in labeling, analysing, deconstructing and explaining so-called reality as they think it is. We are already finding as time goees by in our modern world that the truth is still unfolding, and that it lies somewhere in the unchartered realm between science and religion, and that in time these two will meet halfway only to discover that they were like two men trying to describe the nature of the elephant in the room, but from alternative angles, and that they were both right all along.