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The Fault Lies in the Stars?

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  • #73053

    I was asked earlier, “Do you truly believe the astrological signs are meaningful?”, which sparked an interesting conversation – so I thought I would share my thoughts here as well.

    The brief answer is yes, I do believe astrological signs are meaningful – but we are the ones who bring meaning to them.

    The longer answer follows:

    The zodiac in one sense seems an accumulation of thousands of generations of collective patterns.

    The Enuma Elish, for example, which was discovered in the library at Ninevah, records how Ishtar – the planet we call Venus, the Morning and Evening Star – guides passion and love. This is a powerful mythic image.

    Does that mean the planet (Ishtar/Venus) causes love?

    Not necessarily – but there are times of the year when this planet appears in the evening sky: lovers have met and embraced beneath Her light since time immemorial – part of the collective human experience across countless generations – so it’s no anomaly that this planet, the target of thousands of years of archetypal projections, is associated with Love.

    Similarly, people have for millennia been noting traits shared by those born at certain times of the year – and when we look at how the winter can effect the growth of a tree or the thickness of an egg’s shell, or how the menstrual cycle parallels the lunar cycle, it’s not a far stretch of the imagination to conceive an association between time of year and the development of a child born during that season.

    I’m not stating a scientific fact, but am offering possibilities suggesting how certain traits and patterns may have been projected into the images of the zodiac.

    Projection, here, is the key term.

    It is projection – projection of my unconscious – that makes astrology, or any oracle, work for me.

    Humans are pattern-seeking creatures. It’s part of our nature, easy enough to confirm through personal experience. Even stuck in the bathroom a bit long with no diversion, some people find themselves picking out patterns and images, mentally connecting the dots on the stucco wall … which provides a clue to how oracles like the Tarot, the I Ching, dream interpretation, or even the daily newspaper horoscope, work. They are intentionally vague – the more vague, the better – the better to receive our projections.

    Imagination mediates our perception of reality.

    Certainly life could be described as a series of largely random chance encounters and meaningless events. And yet, in the same way we connect the dots on a stucco wall, see a unicorn in the formless vapors of a cloud, or pick constellations out of the stars, so we create patterns out of the random events of our own lives.

    What is the meaning of life?

    “What’s the meaning of a flower?” asks Joseph Campbell.

    It has no meaning; it just is – unless we give it meaning.

    We bring the significance into our own life.

    The pattern I see in these seemingly random occurrences I recognize as … Me! They form the fabric of my life – imagination spinning the yarn, weaving the strands together into the plush, colorfully embroidered tapestry that is my life story. The same imagination that thus structures life will discover in a tarot spread, an I Ching throw, or a natal chart motifs that echo that same structure, clarifying the larger patterns not immediately apparent to the waking ego.

    Campbell explains:

    “The seeker is supposed to look for some sort of correspondence between all this and his own case, the method of thought throughout being that of a broadly flung association of ideas. One has to feel, not think one’s way into these secrets, letting each symbol grow into a cosmos of associated themes …

    “The Book of Changes [I Ching], in a word, is a kind of geometry of mythology, referring particularly to the immediate present – the moment of the casting of the yarrow stalks. It tells of the readiness of time and the art of moving with its tides, rocking with the waves, and is the most important statement remaining to us of that aspect of ancient Chinese thought which relates the individual to the order of the outer world.” (Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God, Vol. II: Oriental Mythology, p. 413)

    Though Campbell’s remarks are focused here on the I Ching, they nevertheless apply to all forms of divination.

    Two people look at the same cloud, but see different images, depending on how their individual imaginations engage that cloud; you see a unicorn, I see a ship. Neither is more right than the other – underneath it’s still a cloud, after all. Similarly, in a Rorschach inkblot you may see a butterfly where I see a bat – again, no right or wrong answer, but the image one perceives offers clues as to how each might engage reality.

    This especially holds for oracles. I can read the same horoscope as two other Geminis: I might interpret “difficulties in communication” as related to a snafu at work, while another could read the same line as referring to a romance in jeopardy, while a third might recognize a recurring personal pattern that blocks self-expression: one cloud, three different images. The circumstances of each life are different, so each brings his/her own experience and imagination to bear on the oracle, which serves as mirror to our inner worlds.

    There is no independent, objective meaning to a horoscope, or a tarot spread, or an I Ching reading, apart from the individual. To borrow an insight from physicist Werner Heisenberg, “the act of observation determines what is observed.” Rather than supply a rigid, unyielding rule that applies equally across the board, oracles remain fluid, inviting self-reflection.

    Most forms of divination practiced today – whether consulting the stars, the tarot, or the I Ching – offer a series of mythic images (e.g., Mars, the Moon, Mercury, the Water Bearer, the Twins, the Lovers, the Fool, Death, dualities of Heaven/Earth, Masculine/Feminine, etc.) in combinations that mirror the present moment and correspond to those patterns in the human psyche that Jung terms “archetypes of the collective unconscious.” These motifs are symbolic of experiences common to all humanity (Birth, Love, Death, etc.).

    At their best, methods of divination provide a portal into the mythic imagination. In the words of Novalis, “The seat of the soul is there, where the outer and the inner worlds meet.” As with any mythological system, we are presented with metaphor – but remember, metaphor does not mean false: myth as metaphor is a set of living symbols that propel the individual beyond the confines of the personal ego into an experience of the transcendent.

    In that sense of inviting self-reflection then, yes, I find the astrological signs – and all oracles and means of divination – meaningful.

    #73066
    philspar
    Participant

    Very well put Stephen – especially the point around our natural human inclination to look for patterns. What’s your view on synchronicities though? Are these well-timed & coincidental observations also our human mind projecting significance and looking for connections and patterns?  Or could these actually be messages coming from outside the recipient from ‘elsewhere’?

    #73065

    Hey Philspar,

    In reply to your questions re synchronicitities (“Are these well-timed & coincidental observations also our human mind projecting significance and looking for connections and patterns?  Or could these actually be messages coming from outside the recipient from ‘elsewhere’?”), my answer to both would be yes.

    To fully grok the mythic imagination, the ability to embrace paradox is a must.

    That’s the short answer. There’s a longer one wanting to emerge, but I’m sitting an Airbnb in Harlem, about to go have an experience . . .

    #73064

    Philspar – one further anecdote re synchronicity. The same day I responded to your comment, sitting in that Airbnb in Harlem (3,000 miles away from my usual haunts), I received an email from a colleague looking up background of Campbell’s attendance in 1936 at an Orson Welles production of MacBeth staged in Harlem, funded by the WPA, with an all black cast (he was looking for info on how Campbell would have traveled to the event).

    Unbeknownst to my correspondent, I was at that moment staying just blocks away from the site of the play (the long since razed Lafayette Theatre), and, on my arrival from Connecticut, had disembarked at the same Harlem-125th Street train station as Campbell.

    I doubt this coincidence would have seemed meaningful to most people – but it bore significance for me. Nothing earthshaking, no major realizations, but a sweet sense of affirmation about it. Though my trip wasn’t intended to be Campbell-centric, there were all sorts of little synchronicities along this line throughout my time in New York (including an unexpected morning wandering the Columbia University campus where Joe matriculated, again just blocks from my lodging, as well six hours in the American Museum of Natural History (which during childhood fueled young Joe’s interest in all things Native American, as well as his love of science) and a visit to the New York Public Library (where Campbell began his research for every single book he wrote)

    . . . nice little reminders of the path I walk.

    #73063
    Mars
    Participant

    Stephen,

    Due to the precession of the earth, the current signs are outdated. The sun is in the former sign then what can be read in the popular magazins how your next week will be. Read the sign preceding to yours instead.
    Attached is a current view with Stellarium.
    The view is from close to my position on earth, the time western europe daylight saving. The red line is the ecliptic, the blue line is the equator; the horizon is switched off for clearity. The sun is in Leo, not in Virgo. A full precession takes some odd 25000 years to complete – the the signs are back in their ‘classical’ position. The predictions may or may not be more accurate by then.

    #73062
    philspar
    Participant

    Hi Stephen,

    It seems that while discussing synchronicities on this forum you encountered a synchronicity! Maybe we need a new “meta-synchronicities’ discussion thread!

    Or at least a ‘multi-synchronicities’ thread to cover the potential significance of synchronicities occurring in clusters or meaningful themes and sequences.

    For example, on the same day you sent this list of recent Campbell-New York synchronistic encounters, I received a message from an old Sydney Joseph Campbell Roundtable member about them potentially moving to New York from Australia.

    On the one hand you could argue that anyone interested in Campbell is more than likely looking for meaning in general – so as a group we are highly biased towards seeing meaning where others would only see coincidences.

    But on the other hand the specificity of these synchronicities makes it difficult to dismiss the connection as mere chance.

    Let’s see if this Campbell-New York theme continues!

    Phillip

    #73061

    Thank you for sharing this, Mars – though it needn’t change anything about the interpretation of a daily horoscope, unless one is in the habit of taking mythological symbols literally. They remain just as accurate (or inaccurate, depending on one’s views) as they have always been.

    Of course, this is nothing new. The fact that the actual constellations that lay along the Sun’s elliptic as viewed from Earth do change position over time is something astrologers/astronomers have been aware of as long as they have been looking at the stars. Just as the Sun follows that path, so too the constellations from our perspective also appear to revolve around the Earth, albeit much more slowly. Where it only takes the Sun 365 and 1/4 days to complete a revolution, the full cycle of a zodiacal or Platonic year takes 25,920 years to return to its starting point. This is sometimes called “the precession of the equinoxes.”

    When humans first started keeping detailed records of the positions of planets and stars thousands of years ago, the spring equinox (March 20 or 21) occurred when the Sun was in Aries. But the spring equinox stays in one sign only some 2,160 years (there is no sharp dividing line between one constellation and another, so it’s impossible to be exact; it’s not like the equinox changes from one sign to another at 3:14 on a Thursday in March in 2 B.C.).

    So somewhere around the birth of Christ, give or take a century, the spring equinox moved from Aries into Pisces (given the overlap between the Piscean Age and the advent of Christianity, it may be more than coincidence that one of the early secret signs that persecuted Christians used in the first and second centuries to recognize one another was the simple drawing of a fish – astrology carried a lot more weight back in those days).

    And then, right about now, the spring equinox is in the process of moving from Pisces into Aquarius, though exactly when that happens is a bit imprecise, for the reasons mentioned above; it maybe already has, or is just about to (hence the popular song in the U.S. from the sixties hippie rock opera, Hair: “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius!”).

    So even though I consider myself a Gemini, the Sun was actually in Taurus or maybe even Aries, and definitely not Gemini, when I was born – but that doesn’t mean I’m reading the wrong horoscope.

    What the constellations originally marked was the time of year one was born – for me, late spring. I don’t find it any surprise that my personality and character traits overlap to a degree with others born the same time of year, or that my personality traits are very different from those of someone born in the dead of winter, or the heat of summer. Those are characteristics that have long been been associated with Geminis. Sure enough, I identify with those traits, and exhibited them long before I paid attention to signs and horoscopes – so I don’t see any need to upend tradition.

    But do keep in mind astrology is more art than science, more poetry than algebra, relying heavily on the powers of the human imagination.

    As Joseph Campbell observes about oracles (in a discussion of the I Ching),

    The seeker is supposed to look for some sort of correspondence between all of this and his own case, the method of thought throughout being that of a broadly flung association of ideas. One has to feel, not think, one’s way into these secrets, letting each symbol grow into a cosmos of associated themes.”

    Joseph Campbell, Masks of God, Vol. II: Oriental Mythology (revised edition c. 2021, p. 394)

    Science has no more to do with that than it does telling us how we should feel about Picasso’s Guernica or Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. What counts for me is that astrology is a useful tool for reimagining and mythologizing my life.

    But then, what else would you expect from a Gemini?
    😄

    #73060
    Mars
    Participant

    Just consider the time of Sumer, some 5000 years ago. That’s two and a half sign off of the current state. The Pole star was not in position, people gazed at the stars and reflected their lives. Images of experience were set into position above. Predictions came forth from the repetition of these same images a year later. The short live of man prevented them from deeper knowledge how that clockwork really worked. The same for the successors, the Babylonians, Greek, Romans. In another culture developed not a moon-related system, but a sun-related system instead. In the orient it is counted and framed into years. What did the mid-americans do? More various independend developed systems, explanations, lore, stories and myths. Most people are happy in their mythological system and use it to support their meaning of life. Comparing different systems, odds and evens, is another daring league. It is extremely difficult to translate through the layers of the individual ‘drive’: instinct, emotion and ratio. When you’re at a certain close distance to an impressionists painting, you can ‘feel’ the mood within as if you can step in, and observe the smears and dots put on the canvas with talent and technique. Both at the same time in realisation.

    #73059

    One meaningful observation I have made is that my dreams tend to be more intense and vivid on nights of 20ths – 22nds, and if I fast on these dates, that really seems to turbo-charge them even more.

    Another aspect that’s important when it comes to astrology is one’s perception of the shape of the earth. If we’re living under a dome, with stars in fixed postions in a firmament rotating above us, like a grand clock, astrology takes on much deeper meaning, whereas if  we’re on a planet that’s the result of a random “big-bang,” this makes astrology seem less important and credible.

    The shape of the earth is, curiously, something Campbell devoted quite a lot of pictures to in Hero, as well as the repeated pharse, “the world navel.” It has always struck me as interesting, the number of images in the book that portary the shape of the earth. For example, figures 8, 59, 60, 66, from different parts of the earth, from a time when people were supposedly unable to communicate with each other, all convey an identical conception of the earth’s shape, which could not be more of a juxtaposition to the final figure of the book, number 84, on the last page. Interesting, isn’t it?

    To my mind, living under a dome on an essentially flat plane, would imply a sort of intelligent creation, which would absolutely make astrology more of a focal point of life, and the timing of various critical activities – conception, farming, spiritual and religious practices – of the utmost importance. Whereas, living on a planet, naturally astrology moves to the background in favor of prevailing cultural values and perceptions.

     

     

     

    #73058

    Andrewl,

    Thanks for pointing out those images in The Hero with a Thousand Faces illustrating the dome of the sky, drawn from different periods and cultures. Certainly that reflects the perspective experienced by most people on the planet over time.

    Though the final image, that of the Earth from the surface of the Moon, certainly counters that image from a factual perspective, I’d venture to say that doesn’t necessarily alter the individual experience. That’s an image I see on TV, or in a book, or on my PC, but it’s not anything I have ever directly experienced in my day-today-reality. When I step outside I see the Sun, and the Moon, rise in the East and set in the West – an experience no different from those who assumed the sky a dome – and even the language I use to describe that experience reflects that perspective (considering neither the Sun nor Moon are rising or setting; we revolve around the Sun, the Moon revolves around us, but I experience them – and the constellations – as moving through the heavens, rising and setting).

    I’d suggest that image, of Earth as a globe suspended in space, hasn’t disrupted our experience of the sky dome above us; rather, it’s technology that has taken our eyes away from such a sight. Over a few decades in the classroom, I notice the neon lights, at least in the city,  along with the TV in the living room and the device in one’s hand, tend to drown out the night sky; though I regularly asked, it was very rare that a student could tell if the moon the night before was a crescent, or full, or new, or whether it was waxing or waning, which is something that my parents, tenant farmers on the midwestern plains in the 1930s and 1940s, always knew. Similarly, my students were far more aware of the golden arches than a rainbow after a storm.

    I suspect that lack of attention to the night sky is as much or more responsible for the relegation of astrology to the comics and puzzle page of the local paper.

    On a different topic, I am intrigued that your dream life is super-charged on the nights of the 20th – 22nd. I’m curious what might be at work there. Any ideas?

    #73057
    Mars
    Participant

    Campbell said somewhere: Science is not a kind of religion, but religion is the now outdated science of long ago. Same applies to astrology and astronomy. Being an amateur-astronomer myself, I’m very aware of the current phase of the moon (now: waxing gibbous, almost full) and the constellations in the autumn sky (aquarius, piscus, taurus, gemini on the ecliptic, north pegasus, andromeda, auriga, south hardly visable orion rising). Both lore and lecture in the same view. Due to the citylights however, I can count only a handfull of these stars alas.

    Always curious: do you have vivid dreams because you’re aware of the constellationborders at date? And vv? Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (by Philip K. Dick)

    #73056

    Stephen! I am terribly sorry to respond so late (the divorce has been harder than I expected). Though I am comforted in the words of one of our first communiques about the meandering and slow pace of the forum. In any event, please pardon my tardiness.

    I wish I had more to offer to your question about what might be at work other than the clumsy and bumbling words that follow. Well, it is a curious thing, this matter of timing and consciousness. I suppose as most people grow older there comes a certain suspicion of invisible powers beyond the veil viaing for influence in this realm of ours, which may crystallize for some into certainty, not withstanding the empiricism of our modern era.

    And perhaps there is something to dates and numbers through which those invisible powers exert their influences upon us. The whole thing is rather mysterious to me, but I find that in researching and learning about matters such as these, often reading between the lines harvests just as much, if not more knowledge, than what is often communicated directly. Perhaps it has to be this way for some unknown reason. It has been said that the Gods delight in hints and clues, but never explicitly convey their knowledge. Perhaps there’s something to that.

    The whole thing is rather ineffable and leaves one committed to discovering the truth of these matters with no choice but to make their determinations and conclusions based on their own experiences and results, whatever they may be. Still though, many find that there is a certain alignment and thematic thread with these experiences, and the knowledge and wisdoms found in ancient mythology and religions, which does provide a certain level of validation and confirmation, however old and antiquated and out of alignment those things may be with modern fashions.

    And Mars, as to your excellent question, yes, I do believe you’ve hit the matter on the head! Awareness and consciousness are at the very center of these ineffable mysteries – how deflating it is to say how little we truly know about them and their true nature. Still though, I find one of the most significant hints for me in this regard comes from quantum mechanics and the double slit experiment in which the presence of an observer determines whether a photon manifests as a particle or wave. Talk about an identity crisis!

    Joking aside though, yes, I do think there is certianly something to the idea that something “clicks into place,” as it were, when consciousness becomes aware of certain things, and that perhaps combined with a power of intention, or of asking, in sequence with ancient timings, makes for the fortuitous planting of seeds for whatever desired experiences, or outcomese, whether dreams or otherwise. Maybe it is that prayer, fasting, meditation and other practices on the equinoxes helps manifest whatever one is attempting to bring about, however much such a notion is at odds with more current ways of understanding our world. I don’t know. Nevertheless, the whole thing is indeed a rather fascinating puzzle, to be alive in the world, and to dig into matters such as these.

    Oh, and Mars, please pardon my ignorance, what does vv refer to?

     

    #73055
    Mars
    Participant

    vice versa

    #73054
    Mars
    Participant

    Doubble blind testing, like unseen photons. And then what?

    Quantum Mechanics solves this: leave cause and effect alone, they’re not related whatsoever.

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