Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The Quality Of Time
THE QUALITY OF TIME
In order to learn to understand astrology better as a measuring instrument, we must consider another, less familiar, concept. When we speak of time we usually think in terms of quantitative measurements. We ask how long something has lasted, how long ago an event took place, how much time has elapsed. In other words we are accustomed to considering only the amount of time. According to the law of polarity this quantitative aspect of time must have, as its opposite pole, a qualitative aspect. The Greeks called these two aspects respectively chronos and kairos.
Time has not only quantity but also quality. But very few people today can form any conception of what is meant by the quality of time. In ancient times the situation was reversed. Then people observed only the quality and neglected the quantity aspect. Quality in this context has nothing to do with duration. When we speak of the quality of time we mean that each moment or section of time, whether it be a second, an hour or a century, possesses a definite quality, so that only events commensurate with that quality can occur.
To put it another way: at any given point of time only those events can be realized whose qualitative content corresponds to the quality of the moment. What time does is to create openings for latent tendencies, enabling those tendencies to enter reality and manifest themselves. An aeroplane crash, for example, will only take place when the prevailing time-quality allows it to do so. Time is also a plane of reality, and therefore time-qualities are simply expressions of our primal principle. Thus any given point in time is “ruled” by a particular principle or rather a mixture of principles.
There is another law which was known to the ancients but which, in the meantime, has unfortunately been forgotten: “Every beginning carries its own end within itself”. This law states that at the moment when something begins, its future course and ultimate end are already laid down. We cherish the idea that it is possible to intervene in a sequence of events and influence its outcome. But in each beginning the end is latent, just as in each seed the complete plant is latent, including the new seed.
Having this knowledge, the men of former times laid great emphasis on the importance of beginning an undertaking “at the right moment”, for every undertaking unfolds according to the time-quality under which it was begun. Thus, if one desires an undertaking to follow a particular course and to have a good outcome, one must seek a favourable moment for its beginning. In ancient times the determining of this time-quality was one of the tasks of the priesthood. When they were asked a question the priests would examine “the hour” in order to find out its quality. Hence the word “horoscope”, meaning a “looking into the hour” (from the Greek hora = hour, and skopein = to look). A horoscope is thus nothing more nor less than a snap-shot of the sky at a particular point in time.
Such horoscope-casting was originally concerned primarily with events and with important undertakings such as declarations of war, the concluding of treaties and so on. So-called natal horoscopes, dealing with the birth of an individual, are a somewhat later development and are by no means the most interesting aspect of astrology.
We should remember that looking at the sky was not the only method by which the priests determined the quality of a given moment. They also scrutinized entrails, examined the flight of birds and watched the feeding behaviour of sacred hens. In these examples, which we know from the history of ancient Rome, instead of the sky, they took the animal kingdom as their field of observation from which to determine the dominant principles at a given point in time.
In the history of mantic techniques we find many different levels being used for this purpose, all equally valid since they all conform to the law of vertical analogy. Thus the laying out of Tarot cards for divinatory purposes is no more “unscientific” or “superstitious” than the casting of a horoscope. Because mathematical tables are involved in drawing up a horoscope, many astrologers insist on the “scientific” nature of astrology and distance themselves from all “unserious” systems such as Tarot and the I Ching. Such a posture is ludicrous. All mantic and divinatory systems work on the same principle, and the planes of reference are interchangeable.
The only criterion for judging the seriousness of a system is whether or not the person using it can take what he learns from his chosen plane of observation and translate it to other planes. This translation process, which astrologers call “interpretation”, is the most difficult part of any system. Numerically, in fact, “unserious” practitioners outweigh “serious” ones, whether in laying out cards or in astrology.
Returning to the subject of astrology, we have seen that a horoscope is a graphic representation of the situation in the sky at a particular point in time and with reference to a particular place. Thus each horoscope is a time-place equation. A horoscope always relates to the place where the event under consideration takes place, and it examines the sky from this point of view.
Here we should answer the common objection that astrology works within a geocentric view of the universe. This is just as it should be, since for human beings a geocentric universe is the only appropriate one. In terms of our lived experience a heliocentric universe is wrong, for if we ignore the calculations of astronomy we find that each day the sun rises up in the morning and goes down in the evening. For the human psyche this experience is much more important than the objective knowledge that the earth orbits the sun. This fact cannot be experienced by man in the depth of his psyche and is therefore totally irrelevant to him.
Thus the heliocentric view is correct for astronomy and for astronauts. But for humanity in general and for the astrologer in particular it is only the earth that can be taken as the central point of reference. It is there that human life takes place. Bonn is the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, but that is no reason for me, as a resident of Munich, to put a Bonn address on my visiting card. Every human being experiences himself as the center of the universe. If he does not do this, he loses his “standpoint” and becomes spiritually uprooted. Herein lies the deeper reason why the Church for so long opposed the heliocentric view of the universe.