The Reunification of Science and Religion, Including Astrology— What Does the Oracle Say?
This is part of my unpublished book on Astrology, the seventh chapter of part 3. (For what has preceded please see this list.) Part 3 is not so much about Astrology itself, rather the implications if there is any truth in it. As my title here suggests, I have been searching in the preceding articles for a possible reunification of science and religion, which would include astrology. What follows now goes off at something of a tangent.
chapter 26: WHAT DOES THE ORACLE SAY?
I believe that the reunification that I have been discussing is actually ‘desired’ by astrology and astronomy themselves. In order to explain what I mean by this apparently bizarre statement, I would like to relate a personal experience.
If they are indeed connected, then we would expect events of great astronomical significance to be accompanied by powerful, meaningful charts. As an example of a great astronomical event I will pick the total solar eclipse (as seen from Great Britain) of August 11th 1999, which received much coverage in the media and captured the public’s imagination. So the question is: was that moment of any importance astrologically? Were the planets randomly distributed, with no significance out of the ordinary to be attributed to them, or was there an important pattern?
I refer to an article written in the Daily Mail newspaper on Saturday August 7th by Jonathan Cainer, described as “Britain’s foremost astrologer”. Although sceptics would say that the tone of the article seems designed to appeal to gullible people — the ‘lottery’ mentality with promises of enhanced love-life, paths to financial security — his central statement, which is scientifically verifiable, is that there was in fact a highly unusual astronomical formation, “one of the most unusual — and potent — celestial configurations that I have ever seen in all my years as an astrologer”. “This eclipse of the Sun is exceptional because of the way it forms the fourth corner of a rare cosmic cross… one facet of (an) amazing diamond”. He describes the astrological significance as follows: “If you have a shadow hanging over your life, on Wednesday you can expect to see it start to pass”. “The usual ‘cleansing influence’ of an eclipse is due to be magnified many times. We’re talking here about a very deep cleansing process indeed… There’s not a sad, sorry stain in the world that can withstand this cosmic combination”.
So his implication is clear; a major astronomical event is of major astrological significance, and is going to have a profound effect on the planet. I had read this article on the day of publication — the Saturday before the eclipse, and had been thinking about it off and on for the following few days. As I was having breakfast on August 11th, just before going out to view the eclipse in our local park, I had a sudden intuitive urge to consult the I Ching to see if it had anything to say about it. This was unusual in that I normally consult the book only about personal matters. This question was much more generalized, something similar to Jung asking the I Ching what it thought about his intention to present it to the Western mind¹. He did this because: “[The book is] a sort of animated being, [and] the tradition assumes that one can put questions to the I Ching and expect to receive intelligent answers”.
As a general rule I only consult the book when I believe it wants to speak; to me this implies a respect for the process, and avoids the possibility of ‘bothering’ the I Ching with frivolous questions. This seemed to be what was happening here, the idea suddenly taking me over, as if the I Ching was ‘wanting’ to express itself. This is an experience with which I am familiar. Sometimes coins seem to ‘force themselves’ onto me in such a way that I recognize that a consultation is required. Failing that, I need a way to check out my intuition, and the method I use is to look immediately in my pocket to see whether I have three coins of the same denomination, thus enabling me to make a consultation. On this occasion the result was very powerful; I took out all the coins in my pocket, there were exactly six in total, three pound coins and three 20ps. The way they were lying in my hand was quite striking; one set was all heads, the other all tails. If you can accept my basic premise about how I test, then I can say with great assurance that I have never received such a strong indication — exactly six coins, not eight including two sets of three — the fact that there were two sets of three, not just one, i.e. doubly insistent — and the way they were lying, both sets in their ‘strong’ position, that is to say, with higher energy, with a tendency to change². My understanding was that the I Ching had a very strong desire to speak.
It is interesting in passing to note that when the coins are available in my pocket, I can usually look back and see I how I ‘unconsciously’ contributed to their arrival there. This was clearly the case on this occasion. Just before breakfast, I had slipped out to the newsagents, because I had wanted to buy the concluding article in Cainer’s eclipse series — having been so impressed by the previous Saturday’s — and a pint of milk. I was intending to pay with a pound coin, and receive change, but when the assistant said ‘82p’, I noticed that I had a 2p coin and could therefore give £1.02 and receive a 20p coin back, as shops like you to do, so that they can keep up their supply of change. I had obviously gone into the shop with four pound coins, two 20ps and one 2p, a combination which would have dissuaded me from making an I Ching consultation even though it would have been theoretically possible — using three out of four pounds. The result of this interaction was that I now had the coins as described above. At the time I had no idea that I was going to do a consultation, and yet the ground was being prepared in that I was being made to contribute unconsciously to the arrival of the coins.
So later that morning I asked the I Ching: ‘What is the meaning of the eclipse?’ and the reply I received was hexagram 24, changing to 36. The names of the hexagrams are translated as The Turning Point, and The Darkening of the Light (!) Here are the passages which refer most obviously to my question :
“The time of darkness is past. The winter solstice brings the victory of light”. “After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns”. “The transformation of the old becomes easy. The old is discarded and the new is introduced. Both measures accord with the time… Societies of people sharing the same views are formed. But since these groups come together in full public knowledge and are in harmony with the time, all selfish separatist tendencies are excluded, and no mistake is made”. “Therefore seven is the number of the young light, and it arises when six, the number of the great darkness, is increased by one. In this way the state of rest gives place to movement” (as footnote 1, pp97–8).
The second hexagram begins “Here the sun has sunk under the earth and is therefore darkened’, and later uses the eclipse as a metaphor for life-situations:
“DARKENING OF THE LIGHT. In adversity it furthers one to be persevering”.
“He can avoid this by maintaining his inner light, while remaining outwardly yielding and tractable”.
“In some situations indeed a man must hide his light, in order to make his will prevail in spite of difficulties in his immediate environment”.
“In a time of darkness it is essential to be cautious and reserved”. (ibid. pp139–140)
I hope you will agree with Jung’s observation that when consulting the I Ching, “meaningful answers are the rule” (ibid. Pxxix). The first hexagram makes much of its link with the winter solstice; this is obviously not literally true since this eclipse took place in August. However, the several obvious references to the idea of an eclipse, either literally or symbolically, are in my opinion too powerful to be dismissed as ‘mere’ coincidence. It is also interesting to note that the language of the I Ching can have an astrological flavour, for example: “The movement is cyclic, and the course completes itself. Therefore it is not necessary to hasten anything artificially. Everything comes of itself at the appointed time. This is the meaning of heaven and earth” (ibid. p98)³.
It is clear to me that the I Ching ‘wanted’ to give me a message. I hope that you will study the two hexagrams for themselves; here, however, is the essence of it…
The eclipse represents a turning point in the affairs of the world. The previous period is one of (spiritual and cultural) darkness, but light will now begin to return as the old ways are gradually discarded.
That is how one manifestation of what I call the Oracle expresses the message. It is significant therefore that it is consistent with what Jonathan Cainer said in the column that I quoted above. He also saw the eclipse as a turning point, the beginning of a “cleansing process”. The language of hexagram 24 is strongly reminiscent of Danah Zohar’s aspirations for a quantum society (as discussed in this earlier article). It is also very interesting to note that an event in the physical universe is seen as being symbolic of the psychological state of the planet, pointing once again in the direction of Dennis Elwell’s profound expression:
“The patterns formed by the wheeling heavens are a sort of ‘exploded diagram’ of what is simultaneously happening in human consciousness”⁴, proof perhaps, if any were still needed, of that mysterious correspondence of matter and psyche that true astrologers have been talking about for thousands of years.
Dennis Elwell suggests that eclipses (“and all the phenomena astrology borrows from its respectable sister astronomy”) must be more than astronomers think, in order for “a wide range of earthly occurrences to be associated with it” (p73). He then quotes from A Threefold Cord: “Suppose that, with the progress of knowledge, we find ourselves impelled to postulate that the solar system is an organism, in which a sort of super-mind bears the same relation to the movements of the planets as our minds to the circulation of our blood… (It is) possible that a time will come when what we shall call the ‘true’ explanation of eclipses will be a psychological one, and the present account will become as trivial as a geometrical description of the path of the blood through the arteries and veins”. These words were written by Herbert Dingle, a former president of the Royal Astronomical (!) Society.
An eclipse also seems to generate synchronistic events. Two friends of mine went to Cornwall to see the 1999 eclipse, and reported afterwards that several bizarre coincidences related to it had happened to them. The most noteworthy was as follows:
They own a game which looks something like a pocket calculator. It generates words at random, from which the player then tries to form other words. There are 130,000 words stored. My friend was playing while waiting for the eclipse. The machine duly came up with the word eclipse.
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- Preface to the I Ching, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968, Pxxvi et seq.
- If you are unfamiliar with the consultation process and would like to check it out see as footnote 1, p721
- Fritjof Capra was inspired by hexagram 24, using it as the title of his book The Turning Point, and quoting it as the epigram. Music fans may be interested to note that Syd Barrett, the original member of the Pink Floyd, must have used the I Ching and presumably obtained this hexagram on one occasion since he quotes the line “All movements are accomplished in six stages, and the seventh brings return” word for word in the song Chapter 24 on the Piper at the Gates of Dawn album. The title is presumably a reference to hexagram 24. The lyrics also make reference to the winter solstice, and uses other language reminiscent of the I Ching, e.g. “Action brings good fortune”.
- The Cosmic Loom, Urania Trust, 1999, p38