by Hand Week 31
the Reinterpretation of Traditional Astrology
I suggested that traditional astrology can easily be reinterpreted to
fit modern needs without doing violence to its basic style. This week
I want to begin showing how.
thing that we have to understand is that there is a fundamental difference
between older and newer modes of thought when it comes to teaching a discipline.
This is true whether it is astrology, a science or even a social science.
In other words, this has nothing to do with astrology by itself. It is a
difference of style between different times in history. And this difference
is especially notable in fields that have a practical end in mind: in
other words, crafts and techniques.
In some older
sciences and all modern sciences and techniques, students are taught by
means of first principles, also known as theory. Theory is applied to
individual instances and practical applications. This is true even in
modern astrology where students learn the general nature of planets, houses,
signs, etc. before they learn how to apply these to the reading of a chart.
For example, students are taught to “understand” the nature of Mars, even
to “feel” it within themselves. And we do the same thing teaching the
rest of astrology’s symbol system. Then students are encouraged to try
to combine their understanding of the various symbols into symbol combinations.
Often keywords are employed to epitomize the essence of the combination.
as Used in Modern Astrology
let us say that Jupiter is “fortunate” or “expansive.” (Please do not
get hung up on the keywords that I may use here as examples. There are
many systems of keywords. The point is to watch the logic of the process.)
And let us say that
Mars represents “action” and “doing things.” Therefore, if we combine
Jupiter and Mars, we can say that together they represent “fortunate actions”
or “actions that result in expansion,” etc.
may learn that certain types of Mars-Jupiter combinations are found at
marriages and childbirths, especially the latter. But students do not
first learn that Mars-Jupiter “means” marriages, or childbirths. These
are simply examples of the kinds of things that can represent the “fortunate”
or “expansive action” of the combination, and not all marriages or births
will fit that bill, only those that actually are “fortunate” or “expansive.”
Again, we emphasize how the individual manifestation is an instance of
a general effect.
systems of astrology, especially Greek and Hindu, the indications associated
with various combinations are very specific and do not obviously reveal
themselves as instances of general principles. Nor are the general principles
ever stated in the texts. Here is an example from Hindu astrology.
Jupiter is in a Kendra from the Moon (“kendra” means in the same sign,
fourth, seventh or tenth sign from the Moon), the native will build
towns and villages.” (This is not an exact quote from any one source,
but a general description.)
or yoga, as it is called, is found in a variety of traditional sources.
And I think that most Western astrologers would have difficulty deriving
the result described from any kind of keyword understanding of the Moon
and Jupiter. And this is sometimes true in medieval astrology as well.
Here is one from Schoener, and if you have this combination, please do
not take offense. Keep in mind what I have been saying: Medieval methods
may be useful; the delineations sometimes need work.
infortunes (Mars and Saturn) in the Sixth House with Venus, the native’s
wives will be women of ill-repute.”
Is this all
these combinations can mean? What is the logic? Does the delineation reveal
the essence of this combination?
in both of these sample interpretations, one can see some sort of possible
logic, but again neither description is exactly the first thing that
one would come up with by modern analysis. While I am not entirely equipped
to describe the logic of the Moon-Jupiter combination in Hindu astrology,
I will discuss the logic of Schoener’s aphorism next week. But, putting
the logic aside for the moment, do these aphorisms demonstrate the essence
of these combinations? Obviously they do not, except in very specific
ways. We get no sense of the general meanings of either combination from
And we have
to ask whether the conditions of these aphorisms are all that it would
take to make such indications come true? Taking the second aphorism, is
the native doomed to have such wives, assuming of course that the native
(presumably male) does not want this? No, not even in medieval astrology.
They also believed, like modern astrologers, that one had to find several
indications in the chart of something, before it was likely to happen.
I will take more of a look at Schoener’s combination so that we can see
what it really means.