Astrology: practising a symbolic art in a reductionist culture?.

Added on Monday 15 Oct 2012

Imagine, if you will, a Bushman in the middle of the Kalahari desert  conversing with a visiting Tibetan, in their respective languages, regarding the best way to get to Stornoway, in Scotland's Western Isles. One would suspect that the route might not become easily evident !

It’s rather like this for astrologers, whose view is holistic and whose language is symbolic, living in a culture whose prevailing language for describing the world has been shaped by scientific rationalism for at least last two hundred and fifty years. In our collective efforts to try and make sense out of life on earth there is no ONE language which can possibly describe the whole picture. We need the description provided by rational science. We also need the description provided by symbolism. We need all the help we can get.   

Star Sign astrology as found in the media is too limited to tell us much about personal life or world affairs. It focuses on the position of the sun in the heavens on any given day,  equivalent to trying to tell the story of a complex play with reference to only one character. It can thus never offer more than entertainment. This is the form of astrology which is vilified by people who don’t know that there is something much more profound hidden behind the “Star Sign” mask.

Astrologers have noted for several millennia that there are meaningful links between the planets’ movements and the rhythms of Earthly life. They plot the position of the planets from the same starting point as astronomers and mariners do: using the 360 degree circle of sky from the first  point of Aries, where the sun, in its movement into the Northern hemisphere in the Spring, crosses the plane of the celestial equator.This frame of reference, the tropical zodiac,  has nothing to do with the constellations which originally gave the signs of the Zodiac their names. By drawing up a map of the heavens (known as a Birth Chart or Horoscope ) of a particular moment in time, they can draw a symbolic picture of anything or anyone born at that moment.  

Thus astrology has many uses: eg in the business world, to help plot and understand market trends and economic cycles; in medicine, to provide clarification of individuals’ predispositions to particular health problems, and most useful modes of intervention; in analysing the inner meaning and outer manifestation of major events in the affairs of nations and the wider world; in choosing favourable moments to begin new enterprises; in the analysis of personal relationships; and in providing individuals with a clearer understanding of who they are, and why they  do the things they do.

The idea is that each of the planets symbolises a different archetypal force, a shaping principle. As the planets move in their ever-changing weave through space and time, so the shape, meaning and manifestation of the pattern of life shifts from minute to minute, day to day, year to year and epoch to epoch. Astrology’s symbolic language tells us that everything is connected - we are all part of  the One.

To be continued….

( this is an edited version of an article titled 'Cycles of Heaven and Earth' published in Glasgow's 'Herald' newspaper in August 1996.)

500 words Copyright Anne Whitaker 2012


To read more of Anne's varied range of astrological and other writings, check out her blog "Writing from the Twelfth House". If you'd like to book an astrological consultation, email her for a full brochure at [email protected]

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