The sky is a grand screen – the original smart phone of our earliest ancestors. An oracular device. On one side, projected onto by the stars, and on the other, projected onto by man. Doubts on whether the two are intimately related was never in question until modernity darkened that lens. The nature of that relationship, however, has always been mused upon.
The stars may impel, they do not compel
– Ancient Astrological Adage
Astrology and Mankind
First, a word on Astrology.
Since mankind had eyes to look upward and grasp the full enormity of the night sky and since he had the self-awareness that he is a separate entity, there has been the science and art of Astrology. Every ancient society revered this enormous canopy, seeing their Gods play out their cyclical dances, effecting the lives of tribes and individuals below. Even today in our supposedly monotheistic and atheistic world we see the Muslims worship at a black Saturnian cube, the bishops and Pope wear astrological garb denoting their status, and corporate symbols with coronas and planetary rings. We still revere the 7 classical planets today in our days of the week, relating them to our pre-Christian Gods – MO[O]Nday, SUNday, WODENsday etc. Even atheists would find it hard to deny that our consciousness is enraptured by the stars to this day, evidenced by the perennial interest in horoscopes. Our disbelief in this cosmic influence is nothing more than a brief flash in an unfathomably-long history and we’d be fooling ourselves to think there isn’t something deep inside of us willing to believe. In fact, the science of today owes the vast majority of its astronomical understanding to the untold millennia of Astrological observation.
Astrology and Prediction
It’s understood in ancient and modern Astrology that the positions of the stars rarely predict the events on Earth and in our lives, and when they do seem to give a strong prediction, these events can be mutated or avoided through recognition of the influences or divine intervention. Instead of thinking in terms of planets beaming magic rays down on us, pushing us hither and dither, the enlightened Astrologer sees the orchestra of the sky as a reflection of the complexity and change occurring down here on Earth. A relationship akin to the phenomenon of nature’s recurring patterns, such as the Fibonnacci Sequence (pictured here in theory and in nature). An idea expressed in the first hermetic adage “As Above, So Below.” Such an enlightened Astrologer sees the sky as a reflection of the ebbs, flows, and currents of Human experience – a quantifiable map of our experiences. With this knowledge, he or she may advise a person or know for themselves when and where to sail, and how to adjust their mast in order to reach their destination or, at the very least, avoid being wrecked on the rocky shores.
The same applies to an individual’s natal chart (the image of the time of birth), showing the impositions of the time and location they were born into – their starting point on those high seas. For some time, the native is sailing on the ship of their parents and society, but are gradually given their own autonomy. A person may, in their own way, come to understand how that sea operates and their individual disposition towards it and do reasonably well for themselves. Some find more arcane maps, such as theology and divination arts (Tarot, palmistry, the YiJing, ‘throwing the bones’ etc) or Astrology themselves. For those who find these mysterious arts, it could lead to a beautiful and empowering life OR a more devastating shipwreck than if they simply relied on their intuition. And this is where we come into a problem with prediction and prophecy.
Interpreting the Cosmic Mirror
Salvador Dali, one of the last great artists of our time, coined the term “Critical Paranoia” to describe the process through which he and others come to create his bizarre artistic expressions. It can described as the blurring of the line between solid forms and ideas, and the fantasies of the mind. We’re all aware of the game of pointing out shapes in clouds – a very basic example of Critical Paranoia where the mind relaxes and naturally begins to show us images that “aren’t actually there.” When this is problematic in a person, we call him or her schizophrenic – when this is profitable in a person, we call him or her an artistic genius. A state of communication between the Left (analytical) and Right (“imaginative”) hemispheres of the brain, opening us up to new possibilities and solutions to problems. A way this shows up in our lives is in those moments we’re struggling with a problem for hours on end – every moment we spend trying to solve it, we sink deeper into the impression that no solution exists at all. Then we go to bed or go do some other activity, and like a bolt out of the blue we’ve solved our problem with no analytical effort expended.
Readers following me for a while now will notice my referring to Astrology interchangeably as an art and a science, sometimes as both in the same sentence. This isn’t because I can’t decide which to call it, but to draw your attention to the two perspectives it requires. An Astrologer relies heavily on fixed points, definite degrees, in an unchangeable multidimensional clockface called a “chart,” but such a complex configuration can’t be sliced up and understood in isolated aspects. Instead it must be absorbed at once, as one absorbs a painting or other work of art. I can sense seasoned Astrologers arguing with these words as some will rely heavily on the calculations and others will rely heavily on fluid interpretation, but I posit that both extremes are missing the point. These names, degrees, and houses, are representations – footnotes in the sky that help us remember the “energies” of their locations. Neglect the footnotes, miss out on detail. Neglect the full picture, miss out on the novelty.
Beware, the Prophets of Doom and the Prophets of Never-Ending Happiness
It’s become popular to think that one can create any reality for themselves they desire with enough belief and focus. I’ve railed against this philosophy in prior essays for the fact that it’s not entirely true and can lead to people feeling like absolute dog shit for failing at what, for them, is an impossibility. The Law of Attraction is very real, but moreso in the way that the ship at sea “attracts” the harbour – avoiding the pirates, icebergs, and rocky beaches. Sailing your own ship on the sea of Creation, you must use your higher senses and judgement or an oracle of some kind so you can adjust accordingly. In Astrology, this is the areas of life (the Houses), the coloured filters which pass over them (the Signs), and the fixed and wandering points of references (the stars, planets, asteroids, and points). Depending on where you are on the ocean, one gust of wind will require you to adjust your sail in one way, but miles away another person will have to adjust their own sail completely differently.
When an Astrologer, good or bad, looks at the skies and casts a prediction or prophecy, he or she is opening a portal of possibility. Suggesting a way forward, based on the conditions of the ocean. It may be a prophecy in which all our boats end wrecked on the beaches or one in which we all find the New World. Both might be possibly possible, or maybe neither might be possible, or perhaps one true and the other impossible.
It comes down to three factors: the skill of the Astrologer, the bias of the Astrologer, and the intent of the Astrologer.
A prophet may be very skilled, look at the skies and see only his problems and his dispositions, and then tell the world of some rosy or doomed fate about to befall it without realising s/he is only talking about themselves. We see this happen with some cult leaders who pronounce the end of the world, only to themselves pass away on or around that date.
A prophet may be unbiased and skilled, but have malicious or imperfect intent. S/he may prophesy a rosy future because such things sell like hot cakes, or prophesy doom in order to reap the benefits of chaos.
So, beware the prophets of doom and never-ending happiness. Life is difficult enough without people giving us dodgy co-ordinates.
War of Prophets
One notoriously unreliable oracle is that of the media. Print, radio, television, cinema, and social media. For a variety of motivations, the puppeteers behind these oracles are intent on reminding us of how grim our current moment is and how it will always remain grim. After all, we’ve been referring to this oracle all our lives and the only change that seems to happen is gradual decline. To make matters worse, these puppeteers have access to real-life oracles like Astrology, and purposefully inflict our consciousness with whatever ideas will make us feel the most helpless at a given time. To prophesy is to open a window to a possible world, and you will never know any other possible way if you give your power to any one prophesy. In that sense, the Law of Attraction is real. With the help of the stars we focus on the options posed to us as individuals and a collective, and we unconsciously manifest that belief. Time to wake up.
As long as you still experience the stars as something “above you,” you lack the eye of knowledge.
– Friedreich Neitzsche