Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Astrology - A Metaphor For Reality


Even as the sun and planets stood, to salute one another, on the day you entered the world – even so you began straightaway to grow and have continued to do so, according to the law that prevailed over your beginning. It is thus that you must be, you cannot escape yourself – the Sybils and Prophets said the same thing long ago; and no time or power can destroy the shape that has been impressed upon evolving life. - Goethe, First and Last Words, Orphic: Destiny (Translated by David Luke)

IF WE NOW EXAMINE astrology in greater detail it is for the following reasons:

1 Astrology is the esoteric system best known to the public. The debate between supporters and opponents of astrology is continually flaring up with renewed passion.
2 Most conceptions about astrology found among laymen are basically false, and this stands in the way of a true understanding both for supporters and opponents.
3 Following the Zeitgeist, astrologers have been increasingly attempting to sever astrology from its esoteric origins and to adapt it step by step to the scientific way of thinking in the hope that this would bring recognition from official science. This process has resulted in the original astrology being degraded to a mere technique.
4 The original astrology is, in its inner structure and way of thinking, a typical esoteric discipline. It therefore serves here to represent all other mantic techniques. From the philosophy that lies at the root of astrology we shall develop further considerations to do with fate and illness.

Before we proceed to certain abstract considerations that may help in giving us a deeper understanding of our theme, I would ask the reader to try the following tests:
Find the overall factor common to the following: (a) dog, starling, ant, crocodile, bear, elephant, trout; (b) lead, goat, teeth, ivy, monastic cell, miner.
There will be certainly no difficulties in answering question (a), for the overall category “animal” will immediately occur to everyone. Question (b) will be somewhat more difficult since the examples given appear to have little in common. Let us now look step by step at what lies behind these two questions.
When we confront the multiplicity of forms in the world of appearances we feel the need to bring order into this multiplicity. All systems of philosophy and science arise from this fundamental human wish. Yet from the beginning there have been two entirely different ways of bringing order into this daunting multiplicity:
The first way is to create overall categories (e. g. plant, animal, miner) into which we can fit individual phenomena which have characteristics in common. In this way there emerges a division of reality into levels (such as the animal -, vegetable -, mineral kingdom).
The second way is to seek units from which multiplicity arises through a varied mixing of the basic ingredients. Both the doctrine of the four elements and the presocratic atomic model are based on this approach. The most impressive modern example of this way of thinking is the periodic table of the elements. Such systems make it possible to reduce the manifold forms around us to a few basic qualities. Thus we are enabled to make more sense of the structure of the manifold reality around us, a reality which is produced by things interacting in different mixtures and proportions.

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