Astrology as Cosmology|
by Arthur M. Young
We have indicated how the last stages of evolution transcend the capacity of self-development which is so necessary for the learning process. When competence is attained and the monad masters growth, which can be seen as enlargement of self, the goal of the fifth stage is reached. To go further this power must be surrendered and effort turned toward mobility, the ability to choose and pursue a variety of goals. Mobility is too limited a word, because in general it is not just mobility as with animals, but as we have seen with the object lesson of molecules, the sixth substage proteins are not just mobile, they create forms suitable for a variety of functions -- functions useful only to a higher order of entity. How does the protein for feathers know that it will make it possible for a bird to fly?
The seventh or last stage eludes description. Ability to pursue goals of unlimited scope only describes it by combining the options of fifth and sixth stage. In terms of the object lesson of molecules it is DNA, which transcends other molecules by constructing entities billions and trillions of times larger than itself.
Such a recital affords a description, but it does not explain how the jumps from one stage to the next occur. Self-interest, or enlightened self-interest, accounts for the fifth. In myth it is the stage of the hero -- Hercules and his twelve labors, Theseus and his conquest of the Minotaur, and many more -- but after the hero has accomplished his tasks he holes up with some beautiful maiden who turns him into a beast, or the like.
The fate of Theseus after his conquest of the Minotaur, to fall under the enchantment of Ariadne and become himself a beast, carries us to the sixth stage. We have seen how sixness involves oppositeness, the mutual opposition of two sets of three. How is this stage transcended? How do proteins make the jump to the seventh, to DNA?
We saw from the animal kingdom that seventh substage vertebrates did not take off from insects, the most advanced arthropods; they started over again, beginning with simple vermiculate creatures, the lancets. But this doesn't explain the jump. Similarly, despite the multiplicity of forms of proteins, none show any hint of the double helix, how the complexity of the protein chain sequence becomes internalized in DNA, nor how such internalization incorporates protein diversity and commits itself to a fixed shape (a change echoed in the shift from animals to man because all humans are of one species).
The shift from proteins to DNA involves a radical change of direction, a shift from the performance of a function to creating the instructions for many functions, plus an agency, RNA, which takes this instruction and manufactures the protein which performs the function.
Thus DNA makes proteins of much greater variety and capacity than proteins could make themselves.
This intercession which seems to be essential at the sixth stage is what we call the pull from above. It takes over when the push from within, the internal tension of growth, has spent itself. It also seems to suggest that the gods make animals.
If this seems to be straining too much despite its appropriateness for molecules, we could think of the sixth as close enough to the goal to afford such occasional glimpses of the goal to provide stimulus and hence a pull from above.
According to the Theosophist tradition, animals make the leap to the next kingdom whey they show devotion (Leadbeater and Besant, Man, How Whence and Whither). This impresses me because devotion is an emotion without a finite object and thus differs from the finite goals that characterize animal behavior.
When we come to man we have suggested that the scenario provided by planetary directions affords a variety of situations, challenges, and interactions by which human life is enriched far beyond the necessities of survival. We must realize that evolution for man is such that survival of the fittest, whether or not adequate to account for animal evolution, has no bearing on man, no relevance to human evolution. Man's evolution is that of each individual person, not of the species. Each person lives his life, learns his lesson, and gradually through many lifetimes increases his scope and competence. This gain is not transmitted to his offspring. Nor is it stored as with higher animals in the group soul -- since man's task is to individuate, to stand clear of the group soul and learn to think and act on his own initiative.
Not only is it important in this connection that human behavior does not affect the genes -- that is, there is no inheritance of characteristics acquired by the parent -- but even if there were such inheritance it would not operate after the childbearing age, often the most rewarding part of a person's life. "Life begins at 40," it has been said, and I think it's true. Until about this age we are gathering experience which we can only begin to use after 40.
The duration of the life span fits perfectly with the periods of the planets, and if it does not afford a confirmation of their influence, at least it provides, as we said, a way to define their influence -- Uranus, with its period of 84 years, defining the longest cycle of change that can be encompassed within the life expectancy of a healthy person; Neptune, with double that period, correlating with the unconscious, and so on.
But it's time we stopped borrowing bits and pieces from this ancient "science" of astrology. I feel rather guilty, in fact, about this borrowing. Like a person who takes the limestone facing from the Great Pyramid to construct modern buildings, or columns from a Greek temple to erect a railroad station, I have borrowed from the zodiac the concepts for the construction of The Geometry of Meaning -- from the Table of Houses the concept of kinds of relationship not possible to consider in science, such as that to an equal and that to what is above oneself -- and I've borrowed from the planets for the definition of the powers which characterize the stages of process.
Because of the disrepute into which astrology has fallen in modern times, I omitted reference to the subject in my first books. I hoped to show the same conclusions from a candid appraisal of the sweep of evolution plus arguments from first principles.
On the other hand, when I do claim the authority of astrology I am told that the subject does not support my interpretations. The double bind reminds me of how Chinese artists in the past used to follow the manner of more ancient artists to lend prestige to their own work, while modern artists go out of their way to invent an "original" style. To add to the confusion we have parapsychologists following the protocol of science to gain credibility.
I think I understand the intelligent reader's hesitancy about astrology, and I share with my reader an even greater bias against religion -- at least insofar as the church has distorted Christ's teachings. On the other hand I want to share with my reader the disenchantment I have come to, by long study, with the credo of science, which I come increasingly to realize is at odds with its own findings.
Science has been the great venture of modern man, but I am deeply disappointed that it has stopped short of its goal. It has become political, adhering to a materialist dialectic. The cult of calibration and measurement has dispensed with consideration of first principles and produced tons of facts tied together with bits of fragile string. The consistency and clarity, even of classical determinism, has been lost and its blundering prejudice retained. The stimulating challenge of ESP is ignored and made ridiculous; even the nineteenth-century recognition that perception was only partially based on sensation, and had components of value and image carried over from earlier experience, is set aside in obeisance to a reductionism based on a physics long since obsolete.
Science, in short, is a motley of fragmented special disciplines, each encrusted with its own jargon and incomprehensible to its fellows, rallying under a common policy of objectivity -- valid enough as applied to method, but downright misleading when applied as it is and without justification to require that the world be exclusively objective and physical.
This despite the recognized fact that the fundamental particles are without identity and the photon, so ubiquitous in that it is the source of all changes in matter -- chemical, atomic, and otherwise -- is not recognized for its primary role, and is non-objective, impossible to observe.
When I then find that the most fundamental entity in physics, the quantum of action -- "more basic even," as A. Wheeler says, "than particles or fields of force or space and time themselves" -- is nonphysical, non-objective, should I remain silent? I can at least say so and leave the layman to draw his own conclusions.
And so I could leave it. But when it comes to constructing a cosmology based on the nonmaterial, and I find that the discredited astrology, the divine science of the ancients, is founded on the same vocabulary of elements that is the basis for the measure formulae of physics, I am, like John Dean,* impelled to turn state's evidence and expose the cover-up.
But there is no court of inquiry to hear the evidence.
It is only when the cosmology I have set up, based on scientific evidence, itself calls out for the importation of something of larger import than the ingredients of science per se, that I turn to astrology.
At this juncture I can no longer say as before, "Ignore the popular usage of astrology, ignore its employment by fortune tellers; consider only the remarkable vocabulary it uses." Why? Because I find it not a relic of ancient custom, a temple built to an unknown god, not even an occasional revelation such as inspired ancient prophets or modern-day persons who have seen flying saucers -- it is an ever-present influence as real as were the Greek gods to Ulysses. The arcs and transits of planets do precisely correlate to important events in my life.
Proof of this I cannot supply here -- for its province is not in the objective that can be calibrated and measured; but it can be verified by each person in his or her own life.
Nevertheless some statement of its scope and manner of working is available from Eric Schroeder, a close friend who like myself was converted to astrology in his forties and who worked with it almost to the exclusion of all other occupations until his death in 1971:
The proposition suggested for belief before entering upon the unfamiliar matters before us is threefold: that a special and (for lack of a better word) poetic symbolizing power pervades nature while evading or transcending (but not contradicting) the known laws of material behavior; that this power uses material and mental events as repositories or vehicles of diagram, and apparently of metaphysical or ontological diagram, in conformity with a sort of imaging which can be traced very far back in the religious or metaphysical concepts of mankind; and that, while astonishingly free with disguise, using here a beetle and there a bishop for the same symbolization, this power is rhetorical in method, relying much on formal predominance, on what might be called rhyming emphasis, and working on feeling.
Rather than try to restate what Schroeder describes so eloquently, I will only point out that in his reference to symbols as "events or objects in which powers of greater or higher order are configured for intelligence" he speaks of what I call Level II.
-- Zodiac, An Analysis of Symbolic Degrees, preface, p. 10
Elsewhere I've described Level II as mythos as against Level III as logos. Mythos and logos are two complementary ways of viewing the world. They are the means which are referred to in the Timaeus as mediating between the World of Being and the World of Becoming. To add that the former is noumenal and the latter phenomenal may help, but for my part I find the definition that leaves least room for gratuitous and often misleading coloration is to describe Level II as having two degrees of freedom and one of constraint, Level III as having one degree of freedom and two of constraint.
With this definition the correlation of Level II to values is precise -- values can only occur on a one-dimensional scale. This does not mean that there are not many possible scales -- for example, maps might be evaluated on the basis of accuracy, or on the basis of antiquity. Each criterion establishes its own scale, and maps can be assigned a value.
Level III correlates to forms, concepts, definitions, ratios: A is bigger than B, but this does not tell us the size of either. Eddington said that all science consists of statements of relationship. Berkeley said the same when he said the chemist had no need of the notion of substance; all his operations dealt with relationships. A reason for this is that only statements of relationship have the objectivity required by science.
However, it is necessary to add that the statement that all science consists of statements of relationship, which was used by Berkeley to dismiss the notion of substance, is also a statement of the limitations of science -- in fact the limits of knowledge. In short, totality includes something quite different from knowledge and inaccessible to knowledge.
The reply to Berkeley is that while the chemist conducts his experiments on the basis of ratio, and the book of chemistry deals only in relationships, he could not perform an experiment without some substance to work with. This would take us to the Bishop's criticism of Newton, who with his concept of the derivative was the first to give formal expression to the concept of a ratio (the rate of change of a variable; the steepness of a hill, the slope of a curve). Berkeley insisted that Newton's notion of ratio had no reality; it was absurd.
That is, if we measure the slope of a curve we do so by measuring the ratio of two measures, the horizontal and the vertical distances, and find the value of their ratio for smaller and smaller increments of both. Berkeley criticized the notion that the ratio of infinitesimals could have a finite value, and the issue troubled mathematicians for hundreds of years. It was supposedly settled by Cauchy's proof in the late nineteenth century, but I don't think this is convincing. The ratio between quantities is of a different logical type. The measures of horizontal and vertical distance are tangible; the ratio is intangible -- to shift from one to the other will always make trouble until it is recognized that measure and its ratio are different categories, logical types if you will, and both are valid.
In his "invention" of the derivative, a notion we take for granted in speaking of the velocity or speed of a car, Newton laid the basis not only for calculus but also, as we said, for the measure formulae -- the basic vocabulary for science. These may be understood without reference to calculus and have wider application. (It would be better and easier to teach the measure formulae in school instead of calculus.)
In dismissing the notion of substance in preference to ratio on the one hand, and the notion of ratio on the other, the Bishop could be accused of inconsistency. But he is correct in that neither one is ultimate "truth"; both are means. The difficulty is that "truth" cannot be described. And though mythos affords an access to truth as important as knowing, it can also be misleading.
Level II on the way down is the trap of illusion. Recall the Popul Vuh myth, in which the twins failed their initiation because they mistook a wooden idol for a god. Level III is the trap of ego and of intellect, which is only vanquished by the hero on the way back as he moves through Stage 5.
Myth is deficient in describing the task of Stage 6 -- Greek heroes seem, as I said, to lose their way. Popul Vuh describes the twins as becoming itinerant magicians, and we might ask whether the shaman, himself a magician, is not serving his apprenticeship here -- again at Level II, no longer as the victim but as one who employs illusion.
Beyond that the theory of process is not too helpful. I can only say that I am reporting that the pull from above is indicated.
The efficicacy of astrology goes further. Schroeder says, "If a relatively simple high power agency of general competence within a complex system may be called an angel, astrology may be frankly designated as an empirical angelology."
But Schroeder is speaking of the degrees, which are subdivisions of the elements, themselves the "gods of the four directions" which I correlate to logical types, for which there is abundant testimony not only in myth but also in our own Bible, notably the vision in Ezekiel and in Revelations:
. . . a great cloud . . . . And out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures, and this was their appearance. They had the likeness of a man, and every one of them had four faces, and every one had four wings . . . they four had the face of a man and the face of a lion and the face of an ox . . . they four had the face of an eagle.
But the notion of elements and their subdivision does not encompass the other ingredient essential to astrology -- the gods as principles or powers operating through the planets.
This is where, in answer to the charge that I'm snatching pieces of the temple of astrology to serve my own purposes, I can cite my own inadequacy. The whole temple cannot be transported except it be taken in pieces. And the temple itself is not the ultimate; it too is an idol.
But as an idol it is closer to life than the idol of science. That perhaps is my final plea. So I must take the gods and their correlation with the planets on faith. Let us see what this faith entails.
I . That the solar system is an organon.
II. That the organon is "a process machine" having a number of distinct periodicities or rhythms.
III. That said rhythms are indicated by the planets.
IV. That the direction in which planets "point" at any given time indicates, or creates, the zeitgeist of that time.
V. That the pointing of the planets produces such zeitgeist because the directions are themselves different in quality.
VI. That the planets, because of their difference of period, contribute to the different powers of persons.
VII. That a person's birth is an introduction into this organon. A birth is an enrollment, as it were, to "take a course in the universe." The birth establishes the central stance. The motion of the planets thereafter establishes the scenario.
Curious that the word university is so close to the universe in which we are all
students -- and the word itself, universe, "one that turns," singles out the salient feature of the whole process, rotation. The soul like meat on a spit is roasted, first on one side, then on another.
The soul does not just plunge blindly into life; it chooses its script much as we would choose a course in a university. This can remove some of the negative implications of Fate.
Fate and Free Will
This leads to a familiar paradox -- the question of fate versus free will.
As I hope I've shown already, the third derivative removes the apparent conflict of free will and determinism. They are not in conflict because they are at different levels. When we know the law we can use it to extend our freedom. The third derivative is assurance from science of this option, testimony from science that there is something outside of science which can use science.
Free will and fate are also at different levels. We could say that because we choose one chart, we choose our "fate," and thus put free will on top of fate. But ordinary life is on such a different time scale from that of fate that it is impossible for the two to be in conflict. We do not and cannot know our fate in terms of ego consciousness; the self that chose a time of birth is not on call to our waking personality (he may be in sleep), and the conscious ego doesn't know its fate, so it cannot be in conflict with fate. It's busy, very busy, trying to do this, trying to do that, pushing buttons, ringing bells, knocking on doors; but this activity is 99 percent futile. It is when Fate, a different agency, opens the door or returns the call that things happen.
This still doesn't answer the feeling that a pre-programmed scenario is inconsistent with our free will. This feeling may be insatiable, no doubt because it cannot see itself. In this respect it is like reason and the Zeno paradox. Reason cannot solve the Zeno paradox, that defining motion in terms of rest it has to realize that motion and rest are incommensurate -- like the point and the line which are regarded as undefined terms in geometry.
In other words free will and fate are not in conflict because they are not on the same level, or even at the same time scale.
"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the peak leads on . . ."
"There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may."
NOTE: This journal excerpt written in 1973, at the time of the Watergate cover-up.
©1996 Anodos Foundation