Can We Take Astrology Seriously? — the Final Chapter
This is part of my unpublished book on Astrology, in fact the final chapter. It’s best if you have read some of what has preceded (please see this list). However, if anyone has come across this series for the first time now, hopefully they will be encouraged to go back and read some of the earlier chapters.
It’s possible that only those who had some prior belief in astrology would want to read something with that word in the title. I hope, however, that any inquisitive readers with doubts about astrology have found something interesting and useful. I hope that they have found something to persuade them to perhaps take it more seriously.
chapter 27: AND IN THE END
“At that moment paradoxes and paradigms slipped away and I realized that we had all, as children, seen the world in that way. And, moreover, that it may still be possible to touch that sense of numinous animation and direct connection of the cosmos that is hidden deep within us”¹.
This is the last chapter of my book. If you have reached this far and read every word, thank you very much for staying the course. I wanted to take a good look at Astrology, but had no real idea what I would find. I began with just two vague ideas. Having read books like The Dancing Wu Li Masters, I felt that quantum physics offered some possible solutions to the questions that Astrology raises. Secondly, my experiences with dreams, psi, the I Ching and synchronistic events had persuaded me that the universe is actually a lot stranger than it sometimes appears, and that therefore something as weird as Astrology might have a home in it.
I had no idea that I was going to say some of the things that I have ended up saying; these have emerged during the course of my research, as I followed my nose, delving further into various references that I found. In particular I had absolutely no idea when I started that I would come to believe that the astrological world-view is the basis of a coherent political philosophy, offering real solutions for our troubled times.
I am also surprised how some books, which I had never heard of, found their way into the text. Having said that, I think that they were probably ‘meant’ to be there, since there has been a kind of hidden ‘helping hand’ guiding me along the way. Here are some examples:
- Part of my time is spent teaching music. For their convenience I often go to the houses of pupils. There was one particular family that I had been visiting for several years. I had taught the son guitar for over two years, and then started to teach the daughter keyboards. By the time that the incident I am about to relate happened I had been visiting the house for over three years. Every appointment was written down by the mother in her diary and was kept. One afternoon I arrived at the expected time, but the daughter wasn’t there; her mother had inexplicably forgotten that I was coming. I had to give another lesson in the area about an hour later, so there was no point going home. I had time to kill. I had been planning to buy some new shoes, so went to the local shops to see if there was a shoe-shop there. On the way I passed an Oxfam shop and popped in to see if they had anything interesting. On the bookshelves was a copy of Astrology by Louis MacNeice. I had never heard of it, I had never seen it referred to in any other book. Yet it was an excellent source for the history of Astrology, beautifully illustrated. If I had not come across it that day, it is unlikely that I ever would. If my pupil’s mother had not ‘by chance’ forgotten the lesson, I would never have found it.
- Having seen references to it in other books, I had decided that a copy of Space-Time and Beyond would be very useful. It was out of print. The Inter-Library loan system on this occasion let me down. I had been waiting quite a long time. Upon leaving another guitar lesson, as it happens at the first address as in example 1, something inside nagged me to visit my local Oxfam shop on the way home, something I would not normally have done. I went there, where I found a second-hand copy of Space-Time and Beyond.
- Having written well over 90% of my text, I arrived home to find a copy of The Moment of Astrology resting on my computer. The amateur astrologer friend of my wife I have referred to previously just ‘happened’ to be having a clear-out and wondered if I might like it, thus handed it to my wife to pass on. She knows that I have an interest in Astrology, but not that I am writing anything. The timing was absolutely perfect; it was the missing piece of the jig-saw which I needed to complete the argument that I was gravitating towards. It was therefore purely by ‘chance’ that Geoffrey Cornelius found his way into my book. In my estimation, and I hope in yours too, he has made an important contribution.
Where do I stand now? What I am sure of is that I have educated myself about Astrology. Even if I cannot say, given the limitations of the human perspective, precisely and scientifically how Astrology works, I now have a good mental image of the process, and I now know what is really at stake in the debate.
What are my conclusions?
1) At the end of chapter 2 I quoted Eysenck’s wry comment, mocking astrologers who say that the “scientific method cannot deal with such complex and subtle theories as theirs”. I think that I can now quite categorically say that he was wrong and that (the scientific method) and those 192 scientists, Nobel-prizes notwithstanding, were out of their depth and completely clueless about what they were criticizing. In particular, they spend hours and hours, pages and pages, ridiculing the idea that the planets can affect human personality, without even bothering to check whether that is what astrologers actually believe. Most astrologers do not believe this, and I believe that I have discovered and described in detail what it is they believe instead.
Critical scientists like Marcello Truzzi complain that “no concrete mechanisms are suggested by which such effects are obtained, and made worse still when the explanations offered are couched in language reminiscent of supernaturalism and occultism”². I could counter by saying that if the explanation is actually supernatural and occult, which it seems to be, what are astrologers supposed to do? It is just as reasonable to ask, however, why supposedly intelligent scientists are so incapable of understanding concepts like the archetypes.
2) The ranting and raving Church has vehemently rejected Astrology, describing it as a pagan, polytheistic, pantheistic, animistic practice. All these are intended as insults, conclusive proof of its falsity. Perhaps the Church might spend its time more profitably in actually disproving these ideas, since they are actually the direction in which modern science and psychology are heading.
3) The history of Astrology is like a running commentary on the evolution of consciousness. Modernists, wishing to free themselves from the past, say that Astrology has evolved. I think that I have shown, however, that the previous traditions are alive and well, in that they are still practised and advocated. I prefer to see Astrology as a tree which, with every new cycle, develops an extra ring. If you peel back the layers, you still find the centre which may have been there for hundreds of years, the outer layers still needing it to sustain them. The outer ring is the modern trend, initiated by Dane Rudhyar who inspired Stephen Arroyo. If we peel back this layer we find Dennis Elwell, with his interest in the medieval tradition, and sometimes sounding like an alchemist. We can still find advocates, like Thomas Moore, of the Renaissance attitude exemplified by Marsilio Ficino. Peel back another layer and in Liz Greene we find alive and well the ancient Greek attitude to Fate. As if that weren’t enough, deep in the centre and the roots of this beautiful tree we still find Geoffrey Cornelius and the ancient tradition of divination, and Astrology as oracle.
They may sometimes squabble, saying that their version is best, and that all the others have missed the point. Someone I know heard a modern astrologer, not one mentioned in this book, say that everything in a certain book by a famous astrologer whom I have mentioned was rubbish. When asked whether he had read it, he said that he didn’t need to, he knew it was rubbish. This appalling attitude hardly needs comment, but let me just say that if astrologers show the same prejudice to each other as they receive from the scientific community, then they are hardly worthy of the attention I feel their profound art/science deserves. If they argue amongst themselves about whose version is best, they are no better than the advocates of traditional religious systems. If their vision of life is truly superior they should be setting us an example.
Instead of believing in one branch of Astrology, why not recognize the possibility that all branches are true. Does it take an outsider like me to think this? Every profound religious thinker knows that there are different ways to God, that their personal journey is not the only one possible. The basic blueprint may be the Perennial Philosophy, but it generates a wide variety of children. Is Vedanta ‘better’ than the Kabbalah? I wouldn’t say so, both are magnificent. Are natal and horary astrology mutually exclusive? Why should they be?
If Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi is right that Astrology represents a great teaching system about the totality of life at all levels, then it must be applicable in different ways to spirit, to matter, to the irrational psyche, and to their various interactions; it must have different forms. Why not see them therefore as different branches of the great Tree of Life?
I cannot help noticing that all the trends just mentioned are contained within the thinking of Jung. Rudhyar’s specific aim was to unite Astrology with Analytical Psychology. Arroyo says that he immersed himself deeply in Jung. Charles Harvey as a Platonist sees the cosmos as “a living body of ideas”, which is essentially the same as the Jungian view of archetypes. John Addey shares Jung’s belief in the archetypal quality of numbers. Liz Greene is actually a Jungian analyst; her interest in fate was shared by Jung who was more sympathetic to the ancient Greek understanding than most modern persons, including astrologers. Cornelius cites Jung’s theories on synchronicity and divination as sources of inspiration for his astrology.
The one potential deviant from this scheme of things is Elwell whose stated position is that he is suspicious of psychological astrology (Rudhyar/ Arroyo), because it focusses on the individual, which might prevent us from seeing the deeper cosmocentric levels. I would counter that it is quite possible for there to be an astrology of Atman (Rudhyar/Jung), as well as an astrology of Brahman (Elwell). In any case, his views on what Astrology can achieve for the individual sound remarkably like Jung’s, apparently without his realizing it. It is also fair to say that Elwell and Jung are united in their interest in the thinking of the medieval alchemists.
If you were in any way sympathetic to Astrology before starting the book, you may have been occasionally depressed, while reading some of my material, at the apparent enormity of the task facing Astrology if it is ever to be taken seriously in the world. We should be optimistic, however. Time and time again, history has shown that whenever science and religion are deluded, and lie and cheat in order to sustain their power, eventually truth wins. It is just a question of time. While we are waiting, we can ponder questions like the following: if, when we die, we have to account for our lives in the world beyond, whose side would we rather have been on, Galileo’s or the Inquisition’s?
Quantum physics shows that in the universe there are aspects of reality which defy explanation; in Richard Feynman’s words, it drives you mad trying to understand how it can be like that. Yet quantum physics has been accepted as truth. Astrology is a similar phenomenon; it can also drive you mad trying to understand it, although at the moment I am pleased to say that I still feel reasonably sane. Yet I predict that it too will become generally accepted. As the need for the astrological world-view grows, as we become more desperate for solutions to the problems confronting the world, at some point QMAP and Astrology will make the necessary breakthrough.
My wife, who has become somewhat weary of my writing this book, has suggested a bottle of champagne to celebrate my finishing it. An appropriate toast would be to the day when everyone living on the planet believes in Astrology. Assuming that I die of something approximating to natural causes I would expect, or at least hope, that to be within my lifetime.
As there is nothing else left to say I will leave you with this quotation from Horace. I don’t know what the original context was, but Stephen Arroyo found it appropriate for similar reasons. It seems to be a fitting conclusion:
“Much will rise again that has long been buried,
And much will become submerged which is held in honour today”³.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. I have written in the past about other topics, including spirituality, metaphysics, psychology, science, Christianity, and politics. All of those articles are on Medium, but the simplest way to see a guide to them is to visit my website (click here and here). My most recent articles, however, are only on Medium; for those please check out my lists.
- F. David Peat, Blackfoot Physics, Fourth Estate, 1996, p53
- quoted in The Truth about Astrology, Michel Gauquelin, Basil Blackwell, 1983, p9
- Astrology, Psychology, and the Four Elements, CRCS, 1975, p29