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Skyscript Astrology Forum

Why astrology is not a pseudoscience
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Graham F



Joined: 22 Mar 2008
Posts: 355

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Mark and Paul for taking the time to answer. As I remember from a previous post where I brought this question up, I'm having great trouble making myself clear. I'm sure this must mainly be the way I'm setting it out, but I do also think there is a real blind spot in astrology about this issue.

First, I don't consider myself to be a siderealist. I did only really get interested in astrology when I discovered Indian sidereal 15 years ago, and I then read a lot about it and took classes. I'd previously had a couple of general character etc readings from semi-professional tropical astrologers, and years ago an Astroflash reading, and although I have a very accurate birthtime (birth cert 13:35, military hospital, plus off her head my mother said, "about 2pm") they really didn't seem to be describing me at all. So I lost interest – but a reading with Indian techniques from a French astrologer who didn't know me at all really made sense.

Second, I don't accept that Aries is the first sign of the sidereal zodiac, or that there needs to be a "first" sign. In Indian literature, there are definite records of the Pleiades having been considered the first lunar mansion, only later did the "first" one move through the Aries area to Ashwini, the current and apparently definitive "first" (the moving along hasn't been continued). The fact that Aries is indeed now considered "first", as per the (not so very old) classical texts and in practice, I think is probably another indication that much was borrowed from the Greeks, when the VP was already in early Aries, and/or the Greek zodiac had already been "corrected" to make it tropical.

The only place Aries being generally considered "first" sidereally makes a practical difference is in the calculation of divisional charts (harmonics), because of the way our computer programs are designed. I agree with John Addey that the most effective starting-point for harmonics, even sidereally, is the VP, or some other intersection of a great circle with the ecliptic (e.g. the intersections of galactic equator/ecliptic). Fagan calculated sidereal harmonics from 0° Taurus, but I don't find this any more convincing than Aries, sidereally.

Despite this interest in sidereal astrology, the elegance of the classical tropical approach, the emphasis on the annual cycle of light, and perhas the greater cultural resonance attracted me to look again at tropical. I noticed that in mundane work, comparing related charts straddling long periods of time, significant and appropriate "coincidences" just didn't show up in sidereal, because of precession not being taken into account.

For example (sorry, Mark, about the multiwheels), if you look at the 9/11 attack, the 1993 WTC bombing, Pearl Harbour and the Sibly chart (to a lesser extent, any chart for 4th July 1776) together, you get a couple of striking line-ups (particularly on the 4th July Saturn). You get alignments tropically which you don't get sidereally, and which are even more focused when you also look at the 9th harmonic chart (a hangover from Indian, to look at the H9 as a sort of second base chart). Ditto for the charts for the recent Paris attacks + preceding (September) LE + SE + foundation of the 1st Republic (widely used, not just by me and Wolfgang, as the founding chart for France post the Revolution, though others are also used, as Mark has pointed out). (9th harmonics don't add so much, in this French series.) I've also found that even over a person's lifetime, the moments of birth and death can show striking correspondences that get weakened sidereally by the 1°+ of precession.

I may of course be reading too much into these observations, but it's been enough to get me more interested in tropical. But having noticed (it seemed to me) that other people I know don't seem to be very well described by their tropical rulerships either, I wasn't happy about using them until I'd got things a bit clearer. (I'm not very interested in descriptions-by-sign, maybe because Indian uses rulers much more than signs, as I notice Morin does too – I find it more interesting to see a configuration as dominated by say a negative, introverted Mars than to see "a typical Scorpio", to see someone as broadly "solar" rather than "a typical Leo".)

So I hesitate to spend a lot of time on tropical astrology if something might be amiss with the rulership scheme it's based on, or if it might be based on false premises. The classical rulership scheme has an elegant coherence and an obvious symmettry. So does the solar year, with its four quarters marked off by the four cardinal points (i.e. the antiscia / contra-antiscia axes). I've suggested this before : try explaining the rulership arrangement to any non-astrology-savvy person (without mentioning sign names, as they'll have heard of those) ; then separately explain the equinoxes and solstices ; then ask them where they would put the latter in the rulership pattern ? It won't be be between Pisces and Aries, I'll bet, more likely between Aries and Taurus.

So why are they wrong, that's what I'm asking ? Why do astrologers know better ? Is it just because Ptolemy said "the sign which begins with the vernal equinox, that of Aries, is the starting-point of them all, making the excessive moisture of the spring the first part of the zodiac as though it were a living creature" ? But surely this is probably just because that's where the VP was (sidereally), or nearly, when Ptolemy was writing. When I first asked this question, I really thought someone would answer "Oh yes, X has clarified all that, it would be more logical to put it between Aries and Taurus (or even Libra and Scorpio), but that's wrong because...". But no, Cyril Fagan seems to be the only one to have ever even asked this question (in Astrological Origins).

As Mark quotes, Ptolemy goes on to say that Aries "is the starting-point of them all, making the excessive moisture of the spring the first part of the zodiac […] The second age, up to the prime of life, exceeds in heat, like summer; the third [...] has an excess of dryness, like autumn", yet these are deemed to be ruled by Mars, Moon and Venus respectively. And this assertion that Aries is the starting point has subsequently been taken as true for all time, not just for Ptolemy's time when the VP was near 0° sidereal Aries.

As Deborah Houlding has written somewhere on Skyscript (I can't find it now), "the error" (i.e. of putting the VP at 8° or 5° Aries like Valens) was "corrected", and tropical astrology was then able to develop more coherently. But surely the "error" could have been corrected back to 0° Taurus, since the VP, disconnected from the constellations, no longer had to be anywhere near the constellation of Aries.

(Incidentally, I'm not questioning that "Aries" can be considered cardinal, even it was taken to be the sign preceding the VP: cardinal means "pertaining to a hinge", and surely the division leading up to a hinge is just as pivotal as the one falling away from it. In the diurnal chart, the strong angular houses are the ones leading up to the angles, not the ones falling away from them.)

I am not saying I'm right, or that Fagan is right, to think that lining up the symmettry of the rulership scheme with that of the antiscia/contra-antiscia is the obvious thing to do, but surely I'm not the only one to see the logic in the idea, and to wonder why it's never been considered, and whiy it should be otherwise. On the surface, it looks to me as though the rulerships scheme could be much older than the "VP early or 0° Aries" era, designed for an earlier epoch, and that the latter could have been superimposed on the former.

I have tried to persuade myself to drop all this, maybe try and study tropical without the rulerships or something. But then I keep reading things which reawaken my interest. For example, a while back (when he died) I read David Roell's Skeet Shooting for Astrologers. Roell doesn't question Aries as 1st sign-starting-at-VP, but he points up lots of things that suggest there's a problem.

He asserts, for example, that if you want to give a snap reading of a chart to impress someone, just describe to them the qualities associated with the sign in their 2nd house, it's ruler, the placing of that ruler and the aspects it receives. Or Charles Carter's refusal to believe that Hitler could have been a Libra, and must have been a Scorpio, that his chart makes much more sense that way (I know that the "minor" dignities come to the rescue here, for traditional astrologers).

Roell must surely also be right that we need to look beyond textual evidence for the origins of the zodiac : there must have been an oral tradition long before things got written down, and ancient peoples have left us other clues, in iconography (and images of the four fixed signs as cornerstones of the zodiac recur well into the Christian era), in ancient monuments and in the landscape. His "theory of the Earth's primary zodiac", while still very sketchy and not drawing out its own full implications, ties in nicely with the line of thinking of Robin Heath in "The astronomy and astrology of the solar hero myth" here on Skyscript :
http://www.skyscript.co.uk/sunheath.html

Viewed from where I live in Lyon in France, at the equinoxes (both of them...), the sun rises behind Mont Blanc. It's very striking and beautiful. The pre-Roman peoples settled here must surely have noticed this, and they may also have associated Mont Blanc, and other landmarks on the horizon, with particular gods, spirits or principles, as we know ancient peoples did. Stone structures like Stonehenge, or Carnac in Britanny, are now generally accepted as being arranged to pinpoint alignments at the equinoxes and solstices (perhaps for other purposes too). A particular area of the horizon could have become associated with both a certain spirit or god (later, a saint, as in the various St Michael's Mounts, etc), and with a certain time of the year when the Sun rose in that area, and subsequently with the part of sky seen to be rising over that area in the evening, probably initially at the full moon.

If they divided the horizon into six bands and associated each sixth with a god, which later became a planetary god, it's probable they would have used the same associations for the same area when the sun was heading up to the summer solstice and down to the winter solstice – and when they projected these "rulerships" onto the sky, and more precisely the ecliptic band of sky, they would have got a zodiac, something like an "Earth's primary zodiac".

It would have been a symmetrical zodiac, the same segment of horizon (and hence of ecliptic rising over it) getting the same "ruler" on the way up as on the way down, as it would be if we placed the VP at 30° Aries/0° "Taurus" (or 30° Libra/0° Scorpio) in the rulership scheme, and not one step out of phase, as the Aries-based zodiac requires.

Well, that's much more than I'd planned to write, and this is going way beyond the title of the thread, but I hope you now see what's niggling me, and what I'm asking, and why I have a problem with 0° Aries =VP= start of the "1/6th Mars section" on the way up the horizon from Mont Blanc, opposite a "1/6th Mercury section" ("Virgo") for the same bit of horizon as the Sun approaches the autumn equinox on the way down. Mont Blanc looks just as beautiful whichever direction the Sun's heading.

Graham
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waybread



Joined: 05 Mar 2009
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Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul, Michael, I am not trying to be rude and I apologize if this is how my posts appeared.

I do wish to be perfectly clear, however. Whether we like or appreciate science today as educated scientists currently practice it is not my point. Whether science (Naturwissenschaft) might become more as we would wish it to become in the future is a different question than what it is now. On a different thread I might criticize contemporary science for its own cultural practices.

Again, science (in English) is not a synonym of empirical. Many disciplines are empirical that are not natural or physical sciences.

My specific point is that labeling astrology a "pseudoscience" is reasonable only if the physical and natural sciences are the reference point, in a binary belief system about knowledge categories as either science of pseudoscience. Astrology today is so far away from being a science, whatever it was prior to 1600 CE, that astrology's referent is not science. It is probably the humanities, or portions of the social sciences. In a liberal arts curriculum the major divisions would be science (and probably mathematics,) the humanities, social & behavioural sciences, and the fine & performing arts, although the humanities overlap with the latter two categories.

Nobody accuses art historians, ethicists, or musicologists of being pseudoscientists, because science is not their general knowledge category. I submit that astrology is more akin to the humanities, which is a perfectly respectable category of knowledge.

Regarding Wikipedia, I wrote on Dec. 7:
Quote:
The Wikipedia excerpt in the OP was really only a departure point, not my main focus. There are many more opinion pieces on astrology as a pseudoscience out there, and I don't propose trying to edit them all.


Further, my feeling is that until astrologers themselves stop thinking of astrology as a science, it would be problematic to edit the Wikipedia entry in a way that would actually reflect how most astrologers would classify their field.
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham,

The problem of the divergence between what we might call the "seasonal zodiac" (the zodiac organized around the cardinal cross as the onset of the four seasons) and the domicile scheme (the zodiac organized around the fixed cross) is an interesting one. After contemplating it for some time, it occurred to me that both are in fact based on an analogous symmetrical pattern:

At the same distance to both sides of a Solstice point, the Sun has the same declination, and days are of equal length. Such zodiacal positions mirrored across 0° Cancer and 0°Capricorn, respectively, are called antiscia in traditional astrology. If we look at the antiscia at 15° Gemini and 15° Cancer, specifically, we see the parallel to the domicile scheme with the Luminaries, the Moon and the Sun, set in the centre of Cancer and Leo, respectively, the way they are shown in Maternus' Thema mundi and, at least by implication, already in Ptolemy's scheme. Likewise do the antiscia at 15° Sagittarius and 15° Capricorn - where the Sun is equidistant from the winter solstice or his lowest declination - reflect the two expressions of Saturn in Capricorn and Aquarius as per the domicile scheme.

Furthermore, if we now mirror the zodiac across the spring Equinox, and specifically look at 15° Pisces and 15° Aries, we find two positions where the Sun again has the same distance from the ecliptic, but this time, in one case he is as far below it, as above it in the other. In other words, with the Sun in the former position, the night is as long as the day with the Sun in the latter position. The same relationship exists between 15° Virgo and 15° Libra, of course. Such points are called contra-antiscia in traditional astrology. They are of opposite nature - just like Mars and Venus as the rulers of Aries and Taurus (Scorpio and Libra) are opposites!

According to Boll, ancient Greek catalogues list Leo as the first sign of the zodiac. Interestingly, Blavatsky mentioned too that this sign was once seen as the beginning of the zodiac. Nowadays, we count the signs from Aries. I hope that I was able to show how the two schemes actually follow an analogous kind of symmetry. Analogy is the foundation of all the occult sciences.

Hope this helps.
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waybread



Joined: 05 Mar 2009
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Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham F wrote:
The concept of a "skeptical community" as referred to in the video Paul links to is rather amusing, but nevertheless astrology could do with more critical thinking, as the lady with the funny hat attached (just) says. Even though I agree more with those who see it as firstly a system of divination, and thus not necessarily required to present "scientific" credentials.


Hi Graham-- I'll have to catch up later on Paul's links, but agree that "astrology could do with more critical thinking."

Quote:
For example, I have never (and I have looked - please tell me if I've missed something) found any astrologer, ancient or modern, give a remotely convincing argument as to why Aries should be the first sign, for all eternity, in the tropical zodiac. The nearest seems to be that it was culminating in the Thema Mundi, so should be placed to start at the VP (!?), or that the start of spring is somehow "martial", or that most of the solar Leo is rightly placed in August as the weather is hottest and driest then (certainly not usually true where I live in central southern France, though the sea and large bodies of water are a bit warmer).


I am traveling now and my books & notes are at home, so this will be sketchy. I believe that Mark has given you the solid accepted Explanation # 2, by the great systematiser Ptolemy. Explanation #1 (numbered in chronological order) is historical and prehistorical.

The zodiacal constellations are ancient, although not always identical in Mesopotamian astrology to the ones we use now. There is some evidence that Taurus was recognized as an important constellation in paleolithic Europe. Gavin White's book on Babylonian star lore shows that the Babylonians named the constellation Aries (the sheep) after the time of year in early spring when lambing took place and extra workers were hired to assist with the flocks.

The spring equinox was marked as an important event for many northern hemisphere peoples, as it signified lengthening days, livestock births, and winter barley/wheat harvests, thus probably symbolized a time of promise. With precession of the equinoxes, the chronology was roughly:

Spring equinox in Taurus: 4000-2000 BCE
Aries: 2000-0 BCE
Pisces: 0-2000 CE

There is some debate over whether ancient people were aware of precession, but I am pretty convinced that they were. For one thing, temples and monuments oriented to the rising sun at the spring equinox would be visibly out of alignment within 300 years. In ancient Egypt around 2000 BCE, there was a shift in worship practices-- the ancient cow-headed deities and Apis bull were joined by an important ram-headed god, Ammon. Judaism emerged with a strong orientation to the shepherds like Moses and David.

I believe the Babylonians had set the spring equinox to about 8 degrees of Aries, yet as the millennium approached, 0 Aries was probably a reasonable place to set it (recalling that it would subsequently slip into 29 Pisces.) Yet 0 Aries made sense for only a relative moment in time.

Well, a change in the heavens wasn't just an academic question for ancient people, because their religions were pegged to astronomical events symbolized by animal deities. We can imagine an orthodox powerful priesthood facing a crisis when the equinox moved from Taurus to Aries, or Aries to Pisces.

Quote:
Aries as the all-time first sign was clearly not arrived at by testing all twelve divisions within the classical rulership scheme and deciding which works best, but (it seems to me) on one retrospective interpretation of Ptolemy. It's more of the nature of a dogma, which must not be questioned if we want to go on to develop a body or system of thought. There is nothing wrong with dogma per se, but it should be recognised as such.


And maybe not in the way you mean "dogma," but I think religious dogma was at the heart of fixing the spring equinox to 0 Aries. In Christianity, the gospels talk about a deity who befriends fishermen, walks on water, multiplies loaves and fishes, and quells the waves. Yet in Revelation, we see the final and permanent Triumph of the Lamb. There's much more here, as Revelation seems highly pegged to some of the constellations.

Quote:
For example, Christianity (at least in its Catholic form) is based on the dogma that Jesus resurrected, bodily. Over the centuries this in turn has produced, more or less by logical deduction supported by the odd observed miracle, a chain of unfolding theology, other dogmas culminating (so far) in the Assumption of Mary (1950). Though interestingly, perhaps Christianity could actually qualify as being based in scientific method as per Karl Popper, since it could theoretically be disproved: if Jesus didn't resurrect, the whole edifice collapses (as the devoutly Anglican C.S. Lewis admitted, and indeed asserted).


Indeed, and others before C. S. Lewis.

Quote:
Surely the whole edifice of tropical astrology is based on the dogma of 0° Aries=VP (and this can never be disproved). You quite often read things involving circular logic like "The vernal equinox is at 0° Aries, because Aries is the first sign", or "the first sign is Aries, because it starts at the vernal equinox point". Nothing else in (tropical) astrology is so dogmatic, and so fundamental. The qualities and influences of the planets, the effects of rulerships and aspects, the division of the local sky etc can and have all been questioned, tested and argued about.

(For sidereal astrology, I'd see the many different ayanamsa as the dogmatic foundation.)

Graham


For sure, Graham. We could put sign #1 anywhere we want. In Judaism the new year begins in the autumn. The ancient Egyptians pegged it to the rising of Sirius and the onset of the Nile floods. Astrology actually doesn't need to number its signs at all.
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Paul
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Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham F wrote:
The fact that Aries is indeed now considered "first", as per the (not so very old) classical texts and in practice, I think is probably another indication that much was borrowed from the Greeks, when the VP was already in early Aries, and/or the Greek zodiac had already been "corrected" to make it tropical.


As the zodiac originates with the Babylonians we can look further back than the Greeks. I think it's fairly established that the main reason that Aries is the first sign of the zodiac is that it's the sign the Sun occupied at the civil new year in Babylon, which coincided quite closely to the spring equinox. This natural beginning, which made sense to the Babylonians, was inherited by the Greeks when they took up the zodiac themselves.

I don't think it's a central tenet of the tropical zodiac that we refer to Aries as the first sign of the zodiac for all eternity but rather in recognising the importance of the sun's declination and the points on the ecliptic at 90º intervals along its axis which serve as the turning points of the sun and its declination and the symbolic relationship this has to our understanding of time and its meaning.

Quote:
I noticed that in mundane work, comparing related charts straddling long periods of time, significant and appropriate "coincidences" just didn't show up in sidereal, because of precession not being taken into account.


Do you mean didn't show up in tropical? If not, can you elaborate on this more in how you use the zodiac yourself, sidereal or otherwise. It seems from your subsequent paragraphs that this isn't a typo, but if this is the case, I'm not sure why you target tropical as a zodiac which makes no sense to begin at 0 Aries - surely the same is true in sidereal.

Quote:
So why are they wrong, that's what I'm asking ? Why do astrologers know better ? Is it just because Ptolemy said "the sign which begins with the vernal equinox, that of Aries, is the starting-point of them all, making the excessive moisture of the spring the first part of the zodiac as though it were a living creature" ? But surely this is probably just because that's where the VP was (sidereally), or nearly, when Ptolemy was writing. When I first asked this question, I really thought someone would answer "Oh yes, X has clarified all that, it would be more logical to put it between Aries and Taurus (or even Libra and Scorpio), but that's wrong because...". But no, Cyril Fagan seems to be the only one to have ever even asked this question (in Astrological Origins).


Many people have asked this question and attempted to answer it - Fagan being just one of them. Whilst we can find comfortable answers which may seems sensible, the reality is that we do not have any sufficient evidence to say anything intelligible about it's true origins at all. We can listen to theories and ideas of other astrologers, Ptolemy and Fagan included, but in the end we just don't know. Personally I don't find Ptolemy entirely satisfactory here.

Quote:
So I hesitate to spend a lot of time on tropical astrology if something might be amiss with the rulership scheme it's based on, or if it might be based on false premises.


I think it's worth pointing out though that even prior to Ptolemy we see the use of rulership with the zodiac - including those who otherwise measured their positions sidereally.

Quote:
On the surface, it looks to me as though the rulerships scheme could be much older than the "VP early or 0° Aries" era, designed for an earlier epoch, and that the latter could have been superimposed on the former.


The problem is a lack of evidence. We simply don't have any evidence of it.

Quote:
I have tried to persuade myself to drop all this, maybe try and study tropical without the rulerships or something.


But wait, maybe I misunderstand your points here, but do you use the rulerships with sidereal? If so, why? Is it just because of Fagan, and what makes sense to you? Why is this better than because of Ptolemy and what makes sense to those who follow it?

Quote:
and images of the four fixed signs as cornerstones of the zodiac recur well into the Christian era


I understand, but then we can say something like that the fixed signs stand in the centre points between the cardinal signs. Ultimately then we can observe something and project onto it our own prejudices and ideas which may have been alien to the people/person who created it in the first place.

Ultimately I think with so many of these questions, the reality is that we simply do not know - and not knowing is okay. It is infinitely better than finding a comfortable solution and pretending this is the truth. If we don't know, there's no shame or problem with this but it also encourages us to keep an open mind and to continue to search for solutions.
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waybread



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Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham, I would like to distinguish between measurement systems that are wrong, and those that are arbitrary.

Setting the spring equinox to 0 degrees Aries and basing the zodiac wheel upon it is perhaps best understood as an ancient system of measurement of both time and space.

If you ask me what time it is and my watch is running fast or slow, I will tell you the wrong time. On the other hand, were I to give you the correct time, it would be based on an arbitrary system that has to do with conventions about time zones, as well as clocks based upon 24 hours of equal length comprised of 60 minutes each, and with each minute comprised of 60 seconds. There is nothing inherently correct about GMT or Mountain Daylight Time in North America, other than that convention and historical precedent make them so. We could invent some other sort of clock time that was not entirely dependent upon base 60-- astrology's ancient planetary hours were just such a system.

For that matter, in addition to questioning why the tropical zodiac should start at 0 Aries, we might equally ask why your residence in France can be located according to global coordinates of latitude and longitude or the UTM system, why the compass bearing from your home to Paris is measured in portions of cardinal directions, why the distance would be measured in km (vs. miles or leagues,) and so on.

Starting the first sign at 0 degrees Aries has to be seen as a type of measurement that is arbitrary rather than wrong.

Any empirical numerical field of knowledge, be it astrology, science, social science, or humanities, will use units of measurement. These may be more numerical or more verbal. For example, if we convert the zodiac wheel from signs into simple sexagesimal numerical notation (i.e. the base-60 arithmetic system developed by the Babylonians,) we could skip signs altogether. What I would call 23 degrees of Taurus becomes a simple 53 degrees on the 360 degree circle. Or we could find another culture that identified zodiacal constellations differently, and use their system.

But we don't have to stop here. We could switch from a 360-degree circle and assign different degree widths, based on a decimal system. Maybe we want 100 or 1000 degrees. Or some other arithmetic base.

The point being that we need some frame of reference for any type of measurement, and it will be based upon convention. Perhaps another way to define convention would be a mass hallucination that grants reality to an abstraction that is not observable in a material way.

Yet science today is based upon exactly this type of mutual agreement upon widely accepted conventions. What is the temperature (in Celsius, Kelvin, or Fahrenheit?) How large is an area on the earth's surface? (Do we measure in hectares, acres, arpents, or square furlongs?)

Babylonian astrology originally was based upon planets in constellations. When Babylonian astrologers became increasingly proficient at predicting eclipses, they switched from constellations to 30-degree signs, as a way to facilitate their recording eclipse locations.

This decision was not objectively correct or incorrect, but it was arbitrary. A lot of scientific units of measurement are arbitrary as well, no matter how logical they may seem.

In this context, setting the spring equinox to 0 degrees Aries makes about as much sense as most of our units of measurement. (What year, month, date is it today? According to whose system?) Yes, some measurement systems seem more rational than others, but then rationality has not always been a society's underlying meta-narrative.
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waybread



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Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham, just one further note from the archives.

When astrology originated in ancient Mesopotamia, it did have an important observational and predictive component, specifically re: what we today would call an ephemeris. When would (or did) the planet Mars appear in a specific location of the sky, for example?

But what Mars or the other planets were supposed to do in particular celestial locations was not based on empirical research, but on even more ancient religious beliefs about the planetary gods as gods with particular domains and personalities. If an observation of Mars in a particular sector of the heavens was expected to bring warfare to the kingdom, this wasn't based upon empirical research into past astronomical records about Mars juxtaposed with human history. The planet Mars brought warfare because this was the nature of the war-god Mars (or Nergal, as the Babylonians knew him.) Nergal also ruled disease epidemics and scorching midsummer heat in the desert, which may be why he became an astrological malefic.

The first astrological texts from ancient Sumer identify the planets as gods. Linguistically, it is the same word. In Babylonian texts, sometimes a planet has an astronomical word and sometimes the name of the god, and sometimes these names are used interchangeably.

In terms of the OP, we could identify actual sciences that equally had religious or non-rational non-empirical roots, that later got into experimentation and more rigorous data analysis. Notably astronomy. Astrology never developed this transition into the hallmarks of science; and clung to Aristotelian models long after the other sciences abandoned them. So while I think it is a mistake to call today's astrology either a science or pseudoscience, I think one might more correctly call astrology a system of divination, a craft, or a candidate for the humanities.
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Graham F



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Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello all

I'm really sorry, but I have clearly not been able to make myself understood.

I appreciate Waybread's reminder that arbitrary is not the same as wrong, I would say that choosing to put the VP, for all time, between the Jupieter-ruled section Mars-ruled sectiongoing "up" to the summer solstice, and the autumn equinox point between the Mercury-rules section and the Venus-ruled section going down is arbitrary, but not symbolically appropriate. Therefore, I'm wondering if it isn't wrong.

I of course agree that we could put the start of the year where we want, and call it what we want, but astrology (and most calendars) want a symbolically appropriate point. I Know that in Judaism it's around the autumn equinox – that's entirely appropriate ; I was talking about how all this matches up to the symmetry of the rulership scheme, that's what bothers me. I quite agree that the spring equinox is a good candidate to start the year.

It would be symbolically appropriate to put the VP so that the symmetry of the rulership scheme corresponds to that of the antiscia/contra-antiscia arrangement (which Michael has clearly exposed), by placing the VP between the Mars-ruled sign and the Venus-ruled one on the way up, and between Venus's and Mars's on the way down. A planet at a given point would thus be reflected, by antiscia, to a point with the same ruler. It would be reflected across the contra-antiscia axis onto a sign with a complimentary ruler, i.e. of somewhat opposite qualities (Venus-Mars, Mercury-Jupiter, Sun or Moon - Saturn). I don't see how anyone can read Michael's explanation of antiscia without wondering why the symmetrical rulership scheme doesn't line up with the antiscial axis. (In horary astrology, the antiscial reflection of a planet is often considered to function as if it had the same ruler as that planet. - John Frawley. To me this reinforces the case for going the whole hog and making the rulership scheme reflect around that axis.)

Paul writes
Quote:
I don't think it's a central tenet of the tropical zodiac that we refer to Aries as the first sign of the zodiac for all eternity but rather in recognising the importance of the sun's declination and the points on the ecliptic at 90º intervals along its axis.

Yes, that's what I mean – I don't mind referring to it as Aries, its the symmetry of the rulership scheme, in relation to that axis. 

If this doesn't seem more symbolically appropriate to you, try the little test I suggested:
Quote:
try explaining the rulership arrangement to any non-astrology-savvy person (without mentioning sign names, as they'll have heard of those) ; then separately explain the equinoxes and solstices ; then ask them where they would put the latter in the rulership pattern ? It won't be be between Pisces and Aries, I'll bet, more likely between Aries and Taurus.


To answer Paul: Yes, I did mean that the alignments, over time, seem to work in tropical, but not in sidereal (i.e. not with precession expunged).

Yes, I do use the classical rulerships in sidereal, and I find that it works. Its a dogma, if you like. I think I can justify it symbolically with relation to the galactic and super-galactic equators, when the right ayanamsha (very close to Krishnamurti) is used, which generate an arrangement resembling antiscia and contra-antiscia, with the cross passing between Cancer/Leo + Capricorn/Aquarius, and Aries/Taurus + Libra/Scorpio,but that's another story and I know this is controversial as people say you can't "see" those equators, they are subjected to very slight wobble etc. (You can't see the ecliptic, or the celestial equator either, and the VP also wobbles...).

In fact, I do find that Taurus should start zodiac, even in sidereal. Parlty because of Fagan's reasoning, and partly because I studide, with a teacher, the ashtakavarga system of the contemporary Indian astrolgoer Krushna. Krushna proposes the most effective system of "natural signifiers" for the houses, whihc he says are "the ruler of the sign in the 'natural' (Aries based) zodiac minus 6". What this boils down to, those of course he doens't suggest this, is that the natural signifiers of the houses are the rulerships of the signs starting from Scorpio - which is the first sign rising at sunset when the sun is in Taurus.

The rulership debate is not the same thing as in tropical, because in sidereal, the antiscial axis (which is unfortunately not often used) is fully disconnected from the zodiac, it moves around it. You don't have to choose one place to put it, as you do in tropical.

To be clear, and to "come clean", this is what I suspect happened (I know I can't justify this with sources, but it gives me a working model in my head): the zodiac developed sidereally, the rulerships were assigned/developed/revealed, who knows, around the time that the VP was near the beginning of the 30° sidereal segment marked by the constellation Taurus, around or before 2000BC, at any rate somewhere approximately between 4000 and 2000BC. In parallel, and perhaps more or less simultaniously, a tropical earth based division of the horizon (but Suns' rising point) and by extension of the sky was developing (megaliths, Machu Pichu etc). The two may gradually have become extended, the horizon measurement to include the ecliptic rising at given points, and the the sidereal to include (probably from the beginning, in fact) correspondences whihc were in reality tropical, and would no longer hold 4000 years later. Then Ptolemy principally, and others, codified what they could scrape together of a very old tradition, and wrote it down. This served as the basis for classical and medieval Western astrology, which may or may not have been consciously tropical. When it came to be conscious, in any case, the VP between Pisces and Aries was already so established that it was never questioned, and today, when reading of the basics of astrology, we are told that "Aries starts at the VP, so Aries is the first sign", or "Aries is the first sign, so the VP is at 0° Aries."

I can't believe that astrology was "invented" in Ptolemy's time, and in the few hundred years before, which would justify saying that the whole corpus was designed to have Aries at the VP. The old texts look too much like the traces of a much more complete and sophisticated system, and I also can't believe that the peoples who built Stonehenge and Carnac, and other early civilisations around the world, didn't have a fairly sophisticated "celestial science" (in the broadest sense of the term, not excluding what we call gnosis).

But as Paul says  (re the claim that rulerships were probably around before the 0° Aries general epoch):
"The problem is a lack of evidence. We simply don't have any evidence of it."
This is quite true, but I still haven't seen any convincing evidence that it's right to take "freeze" them where they were sidereally (more or less) in Ptolemy's time. 

But anyway (Paul again) :
Quote:
we simply do not know - and not knowing is okay. It is infinitely better than finding a comfortable solution and pretending this is the truth. If we don't know, there's no shame or problem with this but it also encourages us to keep an open mind and to continue to search for solutions.

Indeed.

Graham
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waybread



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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for not getting your point, Graham. Confused

Possibly because you are looking for logic in a system that emerged from religion?

For starters, what is the VP? (vernal, vertex, Vemus..... point ?)

Also, so far as planetary rulers of signs go, I take it that you are familiar with Ptolemy's explanation, based upon planets' spatial distance from the sun and moon, and temporal from the summer solstice. Ptolemy was a relative late-comer and a great systematiser, who showed little sympathy for astrology's religious roots. He pruned a lot of these out of the Tetrabiblos, while reinforcing his favoured Aristotelian concepts.

Vettius Valens, Ptolemy's Alexandrian contemporary, criticizes his predecessors for their impractical mysticism.

You are probably also familiar with the works of the pre-astrology Greek authors like Hesiod (Works and Days 2:383-404) And Aratus (Phaenomena) who placed a lot of calendric significance on the Pleiades, located within the constellation Taurus. However, this wasn't based on the vernal equinox, but the phenology of agricultural cycles and the Mediterranean shipping season. http://www.theoi.com/Nymphe/NymphaiPleiades.html

So far as I can tell, the tropical zodiac is comparatively recent. The Babylonian zodiac was sidereal. (Francesca Rochberg, The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 128.) The Babylonians did not seem to recognize precession. although other ancient cultures did.

You are probably also aware that Babylonian astrologers didn't use houses, and their astrology was primarily what we would call mundane astrology, or omen literature. Initially it was based on constellations, not signs and degrees, which came in around the 5th century BCE as an improved means of predicting eclipses. We know from historical and archaeological evidence that there was no horoscopic astrology of the sort recognized by classical astrologers until the late 3rd century BCE. At that time, we see an amalgam of Babylonian, Greek, Egyptian, and possibly additional cultural astronomies.

By the beginning of the new millennium there is indirect evidence that precession was becoming a big religious problem. The Gospels and early Christian symbolism show all kinds of evidence that faith communities were trying to come to terms with the vernal equinox moving into Pisces. Revelation, however, definitively established the spring equinox in Aries.

According to Nicholas Campion, The Dawn of Astrology, p.216, Hellenistic astronomers tried to determine the location of the spring equinox, and 8 degrees Aries was favoured by Eudoxus (ca. 400 BCE) and Pliny. Ptolemy calculated it at 0 degrees Aries. Trouble was, others who adopted the "Aries point" didn't get the issue with precession, and thought the equinox had always occurred at 0 degrees Aries.

According to Campion, knowledge that the signs were being displaced from the constellations for which they were named due to precession was a major issue with astrology's late ancient critics.

So, hey-- it's all arbitrary. But so is connecting stars, calling them constellations, and applying pictorial images or myths to them. It is arbitrary to convert constellations into 30-degree signs. Our calendars are arbitrary. In this regard, sidereal astrology is also arbitrary because no constellation is precisely 30 degrees wide on the ecliptic.

Which perhaps partly explains why science is not the right comparable for astrology.

Further references available upon request.
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham F wrote:
Hello all

I'm really sorry, but I have clearly not been able to make myself understood.

I appreciate Waybread's reminder that arbitrary is not the same as wrong, I would say that choosing to put the VP, for all time, between the Jupieter-ruled section Mars-ruled sectiongoing "up" to the summer solstice, and the autumn equinox point between the Mercury-rules section and the Venus-ruled section going down is arbitrary, but not symbolically appropriate. Therefore, I'm wondering if it isn't wrong.

I of course agree that we could put the start of the year where we want, and call it what we want, but astrology (and most calendars) want a symbolically appropriate point. I Know that in Judaism it's around the autumn equinox – that's entirely appropriate ; I was talking about how all this matches up to the symmetry of the rulership scheme, that's what bothers me. I quite agree that the spring equinox is a good candidate to start the year.

It would be symbolically appropriate to put the VP so that the symmetry of the rulership scheme corresponds to that of the antiscia/contra-antiscia arrangement (which Michael has clearly exposed), by placing the VP between the Mars-ruled sign and the Venus-ruled one on the way up, and between Venus's and Mars's on the way down. A planet at a given point would thus be reflected, by antiscia, to a point with the same ruler. It would be reflected across the contra-antiscia axis onto a sign with a complimentary ruler, i.e. of somewhat opposite qualities (Venus-Mars, Mercury-Jupiter, Sun or Moon - Saturn). I don't see how anyone can read Michael's explanation of antiscia without wondering why the symmetrical rulership scheme doesn't line up with the antiscial axis. (In horary astrology, the antiscial reflection of a planet is often considered to function as if it had the same ruler as that planet. - John Frawley. To me this reinforces the case for going the whole hog and making the rulership scheme reflect around that axis.)

Paul writes
Quote:
I don't think it's a central tenet of the tropical zodiac that we refer to Aries as the first sign of the zodiac for all eternity but rather in recognising the importance of the sun's declination and the points on the ecliptic at 90º intervals along its axis.

Yes, that's what I mean – I don't mind referring to it as Aries, its the symmetry of the rulership scheme, in relation to that axis.

If this doesn't seem more symbolically appropriate to you, try the little test I suggested:
Quote:
try explaining the rulership arrangement to any non-astrology-savvy person (without mentioning sign names, as they'll have heard of those) ; then separately explain the equinoxes and solstices ; then ask them where they would put the latter in the rulership pattern ? It won't be be between Pisces and Aries, I'll bet, more likely between Aries and Taurus.


Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) and Antares (Alpha Scorpii) were indeed used to mark the the spring and autumn equinoxes by the Sumerians around 3200 BC. Together with Regulus and Fomalhaut they constituted what later came to be known as the Four Pillars of Heaven in Egyptian and Hebrew texts.

I found this article quite comprehensive:

http://mathisencorollary.blogspot.ch/2015/01/the-four-evangelists-and-cherubim-and.html

Of course, the trouble for us modern astrologers is that the VP is nowhere near Aldebaran today. Neither is it in Aries, nevertheless, the tropical zodiac works incredibly well in my experience.

Quote:
To answer Paul: Yes, I did mean that the alignments, over time, seem to work in tropical, but not in sidereal (i.e. not with precession expunged).

Yes, I do use the classical rulerships in sidereal, and I find that it works. Its a dogma, if you like. I think I can justify it symbolically with relation to the galactic and super-galactic equators, when the right ayanamsha (very close to Krishnamurti) is used, which generate an arrangement resembling antiscia and contra-antiscia, with the cross passing between Cancer/Leo + Capricorn/Aquarius, and Aries/Taurus + Libra/Scorpio,but that's another story and I know this is controversial as people say you can't "see" those equators, they are subjected to very slight wobble etc. (You can't see the ecliptic, or the celestial equator either, and the VP also wobbles...).

In fact, I do find that Taurus should start zodiac, even in sidereal. Parlty because of Fagan's reasoning, and partly because I studide, with a teacher, the ashtakavarga system of the contemporary Indian astrolgoer Krushna. Krushna proposes the most effective system of "natural signifiers" for the houses, whihc he says are "the ruler of the sign in the 'natural' (Aries based) zodiac minus 6". What this boils down to, those of course he doens't suggest this, is that the natural signifiers of the houses are the rulerships of the signs starting from Scorpio - which is the first sign rising at sunset when the sun is in Taurus.

The rulership debate is not the same thing as in tropical, because in sidereal, the antiscial axis (which is unfortunately not often used) is fully disconnected from the zodiac, it moves around it. You don't have to choose one place to put it, as you do in tropical.

To be clear, and to "come clean", this is what I suspect happened (I know I can't justify this with sources, but it gives me a working model in my head): the zodiac developed sidereally, the rulerships were assigned/developed/revealed, who knows, around the time that the VP was near the beginning of the 30° sidereal segment marked by the constellation Taurus, around or before 2000BC, at any rate somewhere approximately between 4000 and 2000BC. In parallel, and perhaps more or less simultaniously, a tropical earth based division of the horizon (but Suns' rising point) and by extension of the sky was developing (megaliths, Machu Pichu etc). The two may gradually have become extended, the horizon measurement to include the ecliptic rising at given points, and the the sidereal to include (probably from the beginning, in fact) correspondences whihc were in reality tropical, and would no longer hold 4000 years later. Then Ptolemy principally, and others, codified what they could scrape together of a very old tradition, and wrote it down. This served as the basis for classical and medieval Western astrology, which may or may not have been consciously tropical. When it came to be conscious, in any case, the VP between Pisces and Aries was already so established that it was never questioned, and today, when reading of the basics of astrology, we are told that "Aries starts at the VP, so Aries is the first sign", or "Aries is the first sign, so the VP is at 0° Aries."


I find this to be an intriguing theory. My own take is that the analogous symmetry of the domicile scheme and the "antiscia scheme" which I demonstrated previously, with their emphasis on Leo and Aries respectively, might need to be supplemented by yet another scheme which departs from the third sign of the Fire Trigon, Sagittarius. This view emphasizes the significance of the Fire element as the Creative Force per say, in keeping with the position it holds in the Kabbalah. It would however contradict the idea that the numbering of the signs is arbitrary.

At present, I can't demonstrate the symmetry of such a scheme based on Sagittarius and the mutual cross, the way I can with the two others. At least, it might be noteworthy that Kleostratos of Tenedos (around 520 BCE) considered Aries and Sagittarius to be "the first", as Pliny reports, alas without any elaboration. On another note, there is a rare system of sidereal astrology that determines its ayanamsa by setting 0° Sagittarius at the Galactic Centre (I am not sure if you have heard of that or have any further info, Graham).

Quote:
I can't believe that astrology was "invented" in Ptolemy's time, and in the few hundred years before, which would justify saying that the whole corpus was designed to have Aries at the VP. The old texts look too much like the traces of a much more complete and sophisticated system, and I also can't believe that the peoples who built Stonehenge and Carnac, and other early civilisations around the world, didn't have a fairly sophisticated "celestial science" (in the broadest sense of the term, not excluding what we call gnosis).


I agree. A lot of esoteric lore could be the extant bits and pieces of an ancient science that existed, in time immemorial, lost and reassembled to the best of people's ability later.

Quote:
But as Paul says (re the claim that rulerships were probably around before the 0° Aries general epoch):
"The problem is a lack of evidence. We simply don't have any evidence of it."
This is quite true, but I still haven't seen any convincing evidence that it's right to take "freeze" them where they were sidereally (more or less) in Ptolemy's time.


The thing to appreciate is that the tropical zodiac is based on the relationship between the Earth and the Sun, which (for all intents and purposes) ever remains the same. The twelve equal sectors into which the ecliptic was divided were conveniently marked by the constellations that roughly occupied their space at the time. Following the astrological literature over the course of the centuries, there seem to be slight changes in the meanings of the signs which we may attribute to the precessional shift of the fixed stars whose influence was originally quite undistinguishable from the influence of the sign proper.

Quote:
But anyway (Paul again) :
Quote:
we simply do not know - and not knowing is okay. It is infinitely better than finding a comfortable solution and pretending this is the truth. If we don't know, there's no shame or problem with this but it also encourages us to keep an open mind and to continue to search for solutions.

Indeed.

Graham


Amen.
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few remarks on this, Waybread...

waybread wrote:
Sorry for not getting your point, Graham. Confused

Possibly because you are looking for logic in a system that emerged from religion?


So, obviously, you are you suggesting that astrology as we know it is not based on a logical system. Shocked

Quote:
For starters, what is the VP? (vernal, vertex, Vemus..... point ?)

Also, so far as planetary rulers of signs go, I take it that you are familiar with Ptolemy's explanation, based upon planets' spatial distance from the sun and moon, and temporal from the summer solstice. Ptolemy was a relative late-comer and a great systematiser, who showed little sympathy for astrology's religious roots. He pruned a lot of these out of the Tetrabiblos, while reinforcing his favoured Aristotelian concepts.


By connecting astrology to Aristotelian physics and cosmology, Ptolemy actually went a long way in devising the completely logical and scientific system as which I see astrology.

Quote:
Vettius Valens, Ptolemy's Alexandrian contemporary, criticizes his predecessors for their impractical mysticism.

You are probably also familiar with the works of the pre-astrology Greek authors like Hesiod (Works and Days 2:383-404) And Aratus (Phaenomena) who placed a lot of calendric significance on the Pleiades, located within the constellation Taurus. However, this wasn't based on the vernal equinox, but the phenology of agricultural cycles and the Mediterranean shipping season. http://www.theoi.com/Nymphe/NymphaiPleiades.html

So far as I can tell, the tropical zodiac is comparatively recent. The Babylonian zodiac was sidereal. (Francesca Rochberg, The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 128.) The Babylonians did not seem to recognize precession. although other ancient cultures did.

You are probably also aware that Babylonian astrologers didn't use houses, and their astrology was primarily what we would call mundane astrology, or omen literature. Initially it was based on constellations, not signs and degrees, which came in around the 5th century BCE as an improved means of predicting eclipses. We know from historical and archaeological evidence that there was no horoscopic astrology of the sort recognized by classical astrologers until the late 3rd century BCE. At that time, we see an amalgam of Babylonian, Greek, Egyptian, and possibly additional cultural astronomies.

By the beginning of the new millennium there is indirect evidence that precession was becoming a big religious problem. The Gospels and early Christian symbolism show all kinds of evidence that faith communities were trying to come to terms with the vernal equinox moving into Pisces. Revelation, however, definitively established the spring equinox in Aries.

According to Nicholas Campion, The Dawn of Astrology, p.216, Hellenistic astronomers tried to determine the location of the spring equinox, and 8 degrees Aries was favoured by Eudoxus (ca. 400 BCE) and Pliny. Ptolemy calculated it at 0 degrees Aries. Trouble was, others who adopted the "Aries point" didn't get the issue with precession, and thought the equinox had always occurred at 0 degrees Aries.

According to Campion, knowledge that the signs were being displaced from the constellations for which they were named due to precession was a major issue with astrology's late ancient critics.


Simply because they didn't understand the true nature of the signs (which I briefly talked about in my previous post).

Quote:
So, hey-- it's all arbitrary. But so is connecting stars, calling them constellations, and applying pictorial images or myths to them. It is arbitrary to convert constellations into 30-degree signs. Our calendars are arbitrary.


Au contraire, Madame. Both the signs and the months are reflecting the relationship between the Sun and the Moon.

Quote:
In this regard, sidereal astrology is also arbitrary because no constellation is precisely 30 degrees wide on the ecliptic.


I think it's fair to say that the zodiac at the time of Ptolemy was tropically based. Sidereal astrology is an attempt to move that zodiac along with the precessing stars, which presupposes pinning it to something other than the equinoxes and solstices - perhaps to certain fixed stars.

Quote:
Which perhaps partly explains why science is not the right comparable for astrology.


Ah, here we get to the gist of the matter again as far as the topic of this thread is concerned. I don't consider any of what you mentioned above arbitrary.
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Paul
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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham F wrote:

I appreciate Waybread's reminder that arbitrary is not the same as wrong, I would say that choosing to put the VP, for all time, between the Jupieter-ruled section Mars-ruled sectiongoing "up" to the summer solstice, and the autumn equinox point between the Mercury-rules section and the Venus-ruled section going down is arbitrary, but not symbolically appropriate. Therefore, I'm wondering if it isn't wrong.


I'm not sure why we would need to see it in terms of the rulerships though. We know that the signs predate the domicile rulership - or to be more accurate, we have no evidence of domicile rulership at the time that the zodiac was understood as 12 equal divisions of the ecliptic. As a result, we could turn this on its head and say that what's not symbolically appropriate is the assignation of planetary rulership, rather than the first sign of the zodiac. Indeed we could bypass both and say that both are symbolically appropriate but we may not be conceptualising it in the way it was envisioned, and merely making guesses post factum. What would seem much more symbolically inappropriate to me is to take a system which is millennia old, and we know to have existed both across sidereal and tropical astrology, and then to suggest that there's something wrong with it because we can't figure out why it was in place that way. As I was trying to imply in my past post, if the tropical assignation makes little sense, the sidereal one makes little also, in truth we could argue that the assignation of planets to the zodiac may be agnostic about tropical/sidereal or any distinction made between them, even if we have later apologists on both sides of that fence who make claims for its logic later on.

Quote:
I of course agree that we could put the start of the year where we want, and call it what we want, but astrology (and most calendars) want a symbolically appropriate point.


Right, but notice that it doesn't really matter much anyway. It's not like it's a central tenet of tropical astrology that one begin the count at Aries. It's not like tropical astrology would implode if we started from another cardinal sign.
Spring made sense to the people who conceptualised the zodiac in the division we more or less understood it today and at that time it came in close alignment with their new year and with the vernal equinox. Therefore to them it made sense, symbolically and astronomically, to link them. Now we could make the same arguments for anything. Why not make Aquarius a water sign or updated Pisces in the sidereal zodiac to be cardinal - but when we do, we make assumptions about the underlying logic which whilst they may make sense to us, may not have made sense to the people who originated the zodiac, and whether or not that matters. Would there be any interpretational difference if we said that, say, Cancer is the beginning of the tropical zodiac? I don't think it would make much difference at all, but Aries still make sense to me.

Quote:
I was talking about how all this matches up to the symmetry of the rulership scheme, that's what bothers me. I quite agree that the spring equinox is a good candidate to start the year.


Right, but why not see the problem, as it predates the conceptualisation of the zodiac in equal sections (at least that we can tell), as being the problem area, rather than where to start to zodiac? Or else we can postulate a problem not with the tropical logic, as I'm trying to demonstrate in these posts, but just in general that no great solution, tropical or sidereal, has been cleanly established - we work with the best we have.

Quote:
A planet at a given point would thus be reflected, by antiscia, to a point with the same ruler


Yup, the only question really is whether antiscia is the foundation of the rulership scheme. If not, then this would be a disaster.

Quote:
f this doesn't seem more symbolically appropriate to you, try the little test I suggested


But I don't know about others, but isn't it a bit leading to talk about equinoxes and solstices and then introduce the rulership scheme? Aren't we leading them to a conclusion? After all, maybe the rulership has nothing to do with the equinox and solstice. Maybe it's to do with the apogee and perigee of the planet? Or something else entirely!

Quote:
The rulership debate is not the same thing as in tropical, because in sidereal, the antiscial axis (which is unfortunately not often used) is fully disconnected from the zodiac, it moves around it. You don't have to choose one place to put it, as you do in tropical.


This seems an odd way to look at it to me. Surely tropical doesn't "choose one place to put it" either. In fact the tropical zodiac's divisions are such that the antiscia points are inherent within it. Nobody puts them anywhere. Instead because both the tropical zodiac, and the antiscia points, are based on the sun's declination, the two are intimately linked, and the divisions of one becomes a division of the other - in other words, if we divide up signs based on declination, and antiscia is inherently based on declination, when we divide by signs we'll of course be describing a pattern of antisica too.

It seems weird to suggest that tropical astrologers 'put' the antiscia points anywhere. Both tropical and antiscia are a division of declination of the sun.

Quote:
To be clear, and to "come clean", this is what I suspect happened (I know I can't justify this with sources, but it gives me a working model in my head): the zodiac developed sidereally, the rulerships were assigned/developed/revealed, who knows, around the time that the VP was near the beginning of the 30° sidereal segment marked by the constellation Taurus, around or before 2000BC, at any rate somewhere approximately between 4000 and 2000BC.


I'm okay with ideas that we can't necessarily find sources for, but in fact this idea isn't so much about not finding sources to support it, but we'd have to ignore a host of other sources with contradict it first. We already have pretty good evidence that the equal signed zodiac took off in the 5th or 6th century. Let's even give your idea some leeway and make it the 7th century - we're still a good 1300 years off your date. In addition, we have no evidence whatsoever of the domicile rulership scheme being in place in Babylon. What's more is that we have older evidence of exaltation than domicile dignity.

Whilst it's true that at this time the measurements were made sidereally, we know that measurement was often of things produced or associated with tropical concerns - and there wasn't always a clear understanding of this. As we have no evidence that they understood precession, we are left agnostic as to whether what they wanted to measure was actually a sidereal thing or a tropical thing.

Quote:
Then Ptolemy principally, and others, codified what they could scrape together of a very old tradition, and wrote it down. This served as the basis for classical and medieval Western astrology, which may or may not have been consciously tropical


But we know this isn't necessarily the case. We know that there were astrologers 'borrowing' the zodiac and measurements from Babylon far before Ptolemy, and doing so chiefly using sidereal measurements, but placing the vernal point at varying points in Aries with little real understanding of its implications, and using rising formulae which required that vernal point to be precise, which contradicted each other. For example in Babylon there were chiefly two rising formulae and each one utilised a different position of the vernal point, but we see astrologers predating Ptolemy, and also those who are contemporaneous with him using one system with the other vernal position etc. Ptolemy was quite consciously putting the vernal point at the beginning of Aries with recognition of the astronomy behind this and the implications for astrology.

More likely the zodiac, whether equal or not, was conceptualised around the time when the solstice and equinox points were in the centre of the respective signs.

Waybread referenced Francesca Rochberg, if you can get hold of any of her papers or her books it would be a great place to dive further into stuff like this.

Quote:
I can't believe that astrology was "invented" in Ptolemy's time, and in the few hundred years before, which would justify saying that the whole corpus was designed to have Aries at the VP.


But I don't think anyone is suggesting that.

Quote:
This is quite true, but I still haven't seen any convincing evidence that it's right to take "freeze" them where they were sidereally (more or less) in Ptolemy's time.


The problem, from a tropical astrologer's point of view, is that you're considering them in relation to fixed stars, as though their position is against this or that constellation or fixed star. For example, you could "switch off" all the stars in the sky, have no constellations visible at all, and you will still have the tropical zodiac. All the tropical zodiac really is is the declination of the sun and the division thereof. If we take the ecliptic we'll see that at points 90º from one another, the Sun will have a declination of 0 (on the equator at the equinoxes) or its maximum declination north or south (at the solstices). These positions on the ecliptic are 90º from one another. Each 90º quadrant can be trisected into signs and these signs more or less are an imperfect alignment with a solunar cycle. In fact Francesca Rochberg has argued/demonstrated that chiefly the zodiac was envisioned as a lunar region which was divided according to its phases.
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Paul
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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

waybread wrote:

Possibly because you are looking for logic in a system that emerged from religion?


Can you clarify which system you mean which emerged from religion? I think Graham is focusing chiefly on the rulership scheme but expecting this scheme to match or be reflected along the antiscia between signs.

Quote:
But so is connecting stars, calling them constellations, and applying pictorial images or myths to them


Very Happy
Or indeed that mars rules aggression etc. In fact we can make the point that any real symbolic associations whether based on myth, appearance, astronomical property etc. is arbitrary if we apply it as a sign of anything of astrological importance/value.

Michael Sternbach wrote:

I think it's fair to say that the zodiac at the time of Ptolemy was tropically based. Sidereal astrology is an attempt to move that zodiac along with the precessing stars, which presupposes pinning it to something other than the equinoxes and solstices - perhaps to certain fixed stars.


I'm sure a lot of sidereal astrologers would really disagree with this Michael. In fact we know that at the same time as Ptolemy, Valens was measuring things with respect to a vernal point which was not such that Aries was set to being 0 at this point. But rather that the vernal point was considered somewhere inside Aries, 8 or 10º.
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waybread



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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These are all interesting discussion points though we seem to be straying from the OP.

Graham, it occurs to me that some of your examples, like Carnac and Machu Pichu, have little to do with the development of horoscopic astrology. There is a way that horoscopic astrology developed historically, and for that we have to start with Sumer, move through subsequent Mesopotamian cultures, and comparatively recently, add in some astronomical beliefs of the Greeks, Egyptians, and possibly Persians and Jews. Other societies had intriguing cultural astronomies but it is doubtful that the early astrologers knew anything about European Bronze Age monoliths, let alone what developed on American continents.

Maybe I'm the one who's confused (it's been known to happen) about rulerships. I'm assuming you refer to domiciles (Mars for Aries, Venus for Taurus, and so on.) Historically these were comparatively recent.

More anciently, Mesopotamian and perhaps Egyptian star-gazers developed the system of planetary exaltations, as comprising particular locations in the sky where planets were supposed to be particularly effective. Joanne Conman dated exaltations to a couple of millennia prior to the development of horoscopic astrology in ancient Egypt, but they also seem to have great antiquity in Babylon.

The rulerships fall not only into Ptolemy's system of distance from the sun-moon/summer solstice dyad, but also into particular relationships with the exaltations. These usually are a trine or sextile relationship.

Mars is exalted in Capricorn and domiciled in Scorpio (*)
Venus is exalted in Pisces and domiciled in Taurus (*)
Jupiter is exalted in Cancer and domiciled in Pisces (trine)
Saturn is exalted in Libra and domiciled in Aquarius (trine)
Moon is exalted in Taurus and domiciled in Cancer (*)
Sun is exalted in Aries and domiciled in Leo (trine)

Leaving Mercury as the odd planet out (domiciled in Gemini and exalted in Virgo, square relationship.)

Regarding the "logic" of religion, it might be helpful to consider the concept of situated knowledge. A concept entirely illogical to me in 21st century Canada might be very logical to an ancient person within a different mental framework.

The planet Mars rules aggression today because the Babylonian god Nergal ruled warfare. Nergal was initially a Sumerian god, then a Babylonian one; and during his evolution he was a god then a deified planet then both a planet and a god, ultimately becoming Ares > Mars.

If we question the objective existence of a Near Eastern god of warfare, the logic collapses. But if we see the evolution of this god/planet through the ancient system of thought, there is a logic to it. Not my logic, but their logic.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't had time to follow this discussion in detail, however:

Michael Sternbach wrote:
Quote:
I think it's fair to say that the zodiac at the time of Ptolemy was tropically based. Sidereal astrology is an attempt to move that zodiac along with the precessing stars, which presupposes pinning it to something other than the equinoxes and solstices - perhaps to certain fixed stars.

Recent research shows that this is wishful thinking at best:

http://www.astrozero.co.uk/astroscience/documents/nick_kollerstrom_star_zodiac_of_antiquity.pdf
"The Star Zodiac of Antiquity" by Nick Kollerstrom

http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7423
Very recent zodiac research by Alexander Jones
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