New Moons are the best time to learn astrology. Not by reading or studying the subject but by taking advantage of the opportunity that a New Moon affords us to feel our way forward in our quest.
Today’s New Moon is in Sagittarius. If you’ve ever wanted to grasp the fundamental principle embodied by this symbol now is the time to do it. You don’t need a fancy approach, just your eyes and your heart.
Look at the symbol of the centaur archer, everything you need to know about what the sign typifies is there, in its picture. Make the associations: Half-human, half-animal, a bow and an arrow. And more importantly an arrowhead and an aim.
What does this amalgam evoke? What is conveyed on the essential level? Meaning, if we strip things down to their pure being-ness, what is there as a movement within the soul, the essence of which is captured in the symbol? The answer imparts direct knowledge of what the Sagittarian ‘instinct’ is about. And that information will stay with you long after any passage from a book.
So, this is how you learn astrology. Books are good, teachers are important but you need a ritual that is beyond the sphere of acquired knowledge. A ritual that involves each of your centers, the intellectual, the emotional (your heart) and your moving center (your body). Applied this way, astrology becomes a kind of spiritual discipline or practice. An active way of receiving.
Forget all the stuff about archetypes or Linda Goodman or your Sagittarius mother-in-law. Those are each several steps removed (or worse, degraded by their immersion in carnival culture) from the simple is-ness of the symbol. Learn to identify the essential level of the instinct within your own experience as it’s made into an image, i.e., the picture of the centaur. Again, forget all the keywords or hackneyed associations. LOOK AT THE PICTURE. See.
We live within and are tethered to the wheel of Time; meaning we ‘move and have our being’ within the entire Zodiacal circle — a symbol of Time. As astrologers it’s good that we familiarize ourselves with the Zodiac’s truth, each unique component (sign) — not only because we are born ‘into’ the wheel, but because we also contribute to it via our process of expression (within Time) that is in and of itself a particular configuration of Time’s body, also known as the birth chart or horoscope. (Yes, reread that paragraph because you don’t want to miss the point.)
I’ll try putting it another way. How is this? Each birth chart is a reflection and symbol of a particular moment of Time. When that moment is associated with a human life a particular exchange is set in motion; each individual is also an event, a participant in the process of Time. As we live our unique moment of Time we also contribute, we add to the language that is used to define Time’s qualities.
Thus we ‘put back’ towards the source from which we first took form (our first breath, which connects us as independent beings to a collective biosphere — we are literally the un-manifest made manifest; fixing each of us in a particular location within Time’s body). You can see how it’s all one big circle, which in essence describes the Zodiac. This also tells us how astrology as a process is growing and evolving.
Too, as the astrologer Michael Harding points out, in his radical book Hymns to the Ancient Gods, the Zodiac is a giant feedback loop, and all feedback loops can, should you become conscious of their movement, help you optimize self-expression. This is how you actually learn astrology. If you are out of touch, say, with the essential qualities of the Sagittarian instinct you can not articulate those qualities to a client. You will not possess the emotional language for transmission. Meaning, what you convey will not touch them in a way that leaves an impression. Nothing alchemical will enliven your dialectic. It’s a dead exchange: Old knowledge swirling around an impasse of New Age babble.
Astrology works with both Aristotelian methods of classification (the act of defining specifics, differences and variables) and the mythological and symbolic. The Aristotelian methods have a scientific bent and like all scientific positions will shift over time as new discoveries are laid atop outworn axioms. Whereas the symbolic level transcends time because in essence it is beyond the permutations of language (which is another way in which we describe the events that take place within and comprise what we experience as Time).
Traditional astrological techniques, which attempt to bring a scientific patina to astrology with peremptory rules and applications, are limiting; vestigial methods still employed despite the advances in both astrological discoveries (say, by the statistical work of Michel Gauquelin) and evolutionary shifts (such as the Flynn effect that demonstrates how intelligence continues to evolve in human beings). As tools and rules for the application of horary astrology — a strict divinatory technique, they have their place, but their limited assumptions and methods must be kept out of the art of astrology as it is applied to the soul.
Doctors no longer use the urine of bats to cure kidney disease — medicine has progressed. So too has astrology. The Moon is not at a disadvantage in Scorpio (where it is said to be ‘in its fall’), the Moon in Scorpio mind-set can be marked by a distinct set of responses that, in ‘olden times’, might have been considered troubled: intense, passionate emotions that proved unsavory to Stoicism, a philosophy that informs much of traditional astrology.
Astrology is a living, open-ended Logos, an applied art, and just barely a science (as we define its criteria today). What could be called scientific about astrology has nothing to do with mechanistic laws (because astrology operates within a framework that is beyond cause and effect) and everything to do with the still nascent ‘science of psychology’, which — surprise — some sections of the medical class continue to disown.
A symbolic language does not involve mental methodologies, there is no meaning to tease forth by deduction, which is really how language works. You can only know what black is by knowing its opposite: white. Symbols work via transmission, a different sort of decoding and reception. As Gurdjieff noted, the symbolic is a way in which ‘objective knowledge’ can be transmitted. Objective knowledge is knowledge of the All, as opposed to relative knowledge — which is open to debate and interpretation and thus confusion.
The Zodiac, as a unit, a path, a circular set of images, is both literal (the ecliptic can be measured and used as a reference point to orient ourselves in our relationship to the cosmos) and symbolic — representative of knowledge that is beyond the everyday level of being. The literal level exists as a marker that gives us location and duration, but the symbolic level has the potential to deepen our perception of reality, to move us beyond location and duration — space and time. This is the promise laid before any student of astrology.
Taken as ritual, a spiritual practice, astrology offers a far-reaching, transcendental, understanding of the universe, but as an experience, not as a school of thought. This is a notion that is rarely embraced within the conventional application of astrological principles or the battle to try and prove astrology as a working science. The later being a tremendous waste of time and akin to doctors back in the Victorian days trying to measure the weight of the soul by having someone in the process of dying laid out on a gigantic scale.
The literal side of astrology has been worked to death by astrologers attempting to name and classify distinct qualities and principles through various schools and approaches, and also made boorish (or embarrassing) in the process. Instruction has its place but the intimate relationship between an individual and the cosmos — that ‘felt sense’ of connection that astrology nurtures — can not be ‘taught.’ The symbolic realm of astrology, which exists unadulterated in the Zodiac — alludes the teacher student relationship because it involves what Gurdjieff called, “the creation of images without words.” This is a journey one undertakes alone. A teacher might lead to the gate but then…well, one is back to the beginning of Time, which is always the beginning of language.
As Michael Harding posits: This is, perhaps, one way in which language was first developed — as human beings responded to what they sensed in their relationship to the cosmos — to differentiate the various particulars or characteristics of the Earth and planets. Particularities that were ‘higher than’ but not ‘separate from’ their own level of Being. A system was devised to conceptualize and communicate these aspects and so began language: In the beginning was astrology. Again, all taking place within the field of the Zodiac, which as the ‘body of Time’, we find ourselves living in and evolving through.
But like going around the house looking for your reading glasses while they are perched on your head, the simple profundity of the Zodiacal circle is missed amidst all the noise of using our language to try and define its language. Again, this is why we need to be still and listen. You can do this by looking, contemplating and receiving. Becoming willing rather than willful. There’s not much more to say about this technique other than: Try it.
The New Moon is the quintessence of stillness; where the Sun (the heart) aligns with the receptive mind (the Moon) and is grounded in the body (our position here on Earth). It’s really simple. Why not make an effort in this direction tonight, while the New Moon continues to resonate and ‘part the veils’?
Please share your insights with your fellow Magi. We’re all waiting for the next chapter of the mystery to be revealed.