Going over my notes today for the chapter I’m finishing up on debunking the notion that the Zodiac is something that floats around out in space and somehow corresponds to the equatorial division of the earth’s surface into twelve pie pieces, I came across notes I’m incorporating from the late, great David Roell — who I borrowed heavily from for this chapter (namely his proposition regarding an earth-based Zodiac).
After detailing in pointed detail his thesis, David anticipates the blowback and his Aquarian brain darts over and assumes a defensive posture against science itself. It was exchanges like this with him that always confirmed my sense that he was a curmudgeonly genius:
“None of this will satisfy science, which will remain hostile to astrology by reason of its very existence. Science, which admits of no external limits (“we alone know what is true and what is false”) is in fact highly sensitive to overall social mores. In racist societies, science finds justification for racism, up to and including sterilization and euthanasia. In materialistic societies, science finds justification for materialism. In warlike societies, science builds bombs. In unequal societies, science justifies inequality.
Every society has the science it deserves. In every society, science, believing itself to be absolute, attacks whatever would limit its power and authority, without regard for any other factor. Hence its disdain for religion and astrology. Science is nuclear weapons, created, like the ghastly Holocaust, simply because it could be done, without regard for moral consequences.
Without external, guiding principles, science is Eve’s apple (from the Tree of Knowledge), sent to seduce Adam. Astrology can be a guiding principle. So can religious belief. Since both submit to higher authority, for better or worse. “Higher Authority” is not “God,” so much as the totality of creation that is vastly more complex than we can ever know. Hence the brilliance of astrology’s original concept, that of elements and energies, which can be applied universally.
Astrology is the study of the Earth. How the Earth relates to the Sun, Moon and planets, and what that means to the creatures that crawl on its surface. Astrology is the one fundamental science, surpassing all others.”
We are each bookended between our star, the Sun and the planet Saturn. This defines our narrative.
Another way of putting this would be to say: All of us are stretched between a looping tether that links our father and our mother and weaves from this relationship our personal history, a history that defines and — ultimately — limits our life — traps us into the grid of quotidian reality.
How we experienced the relationship with both parents is indicated by the position of the Sun and Saturn in the natal chart. Not just as symbolic markers, but as actual components in a personal and spiritualized form of alchemy. Meaning real substance, essential elements of spirit are interwoven into an entity and identity that can then be considered a human being. A ‘you’. The solar essence is not simply a metaphorical notion. Nor is the Saturnine association with form and substance, it’s the actual skin and bones that encapsulate being a living creature.
If the Sun at your birth was in a fire sign and Saturn in a water sign then fire and water qualities — the spiritual and imaginal realm predominate your narrative. Your innate ability to inspire, enthuse and innovate is tethered to the imagination and how your imagination can create the best holding and support to sustain your aims.
Your first experience of the solar would be through your father’s fiery nature. The Saturnine would be from your maternal lineage. This is a simplified explanation, but it helps us to start to suss out how the underpinnings of the connection and expression of the solar (Sun) in the human (Saturn) is experienced.
The ongoing work of spiritual psychology (or self-actualization) involves freeing oneself from what psychology terms the paternal and maternal ‘introjects’. The introjected father and mother are a set of psychic structures (literal memories constellated into forms) that we each create as a way to eventually separate from our parents and live autonomous lives. As children, to begin to individuate, we create miniature images of each parent and carry those images around with us, internally, throughout our lives.
These images eventually develop into what Freud called the superego, a function in the psyche that perpetuates a continual conversation and relation to our parents, as we recall and ‘hear’ the parents’ proscriptions, rules, likes and dislikes and then, from that inner dialogue, live our life in a false state of autonomy (as the introjected parents have not been replaced by the true sources of essential qualities as typified by the Sun and Saturn).
The dissolving of the parental introjects is no easy task and requires ongoing inquiry, understanding, and revelation. But our first opening, our first movement towards freedom is afforded us by Saturn’s gifts of gravitas, resistance, and depression. When you think about it, depression always fuels inquiry of some kind.
Traditionally the Moon is associated with one’s mother, but this is a misinterpretation of the symbiotic phase of childhood when the mother and the child’s consciousness share an experience of dual unity, a condition where no differentiation exists between where the mother ends and the child begins.
So the Moon can be considered the earliest forerunner of the soul — a passive, impressionable membrane-like condition of consciousness by which we are able to register Presence, not only within our consensus experience of reality but also through experiences of reality that are considered supra-normal or metaphysical.
But my point here is that the Moon is best considered a marker of the tender, unformed consciousness of the infant and how the infant’s consciousness melds with the mother’s. The Moon does not symbolize the Mother as a separate entity. That is the function of Saturn — the form-making, demarcation-making force in life.
Regardless any of the Ptolemaic aspects that define the circuitry of energy within the birth chart (the conjunction, opposition, square and trine), the Sun and Saturn are in constant communion with one another, oscillating psychic force between them, in much the same way the heart — as an organ of both mechanics and as a mode of perception — animates our essential nature. And in response, Saturn provides the Sun with a container by which the solar consciousness — the “I Am” within each of us — is able to abide within physical presence.
Depression is a critical function of Saturn. We could say depression counter-balances the incessant solar radiation and propulsion of the heart.
• The Truth About Mercury Retrograde
• Planetary Ennui: The Nostalgia for Samsara
• How To Make Facebook Your Slave and Preserve Your Creative Drive
• The Power, Beauty, and Wonder of the Horoscope’s 12th House
• Imbeciles at the Gate: How The Internet Destroys Astrology
• How To Escape From the Torture of Self-Help Hell
• Depression and the Solar Consciousness
• Secrets of the Heart: Love is an Action Not A Feeling
• Create Your Own Archetype & Call It You: An Escape from Evolutionary Astrology
• Redefining the Oxymoron of Sex and Marriage
• Death is the New Black
• How To Write About Astrology (Especially How Not To)
• Astrology, Ants, Hives, Essence, and Types: A Gurdjieffian View
• Final Notes About the Life-and-Culture-Changing Uranus-Pluto Square
This is a quote from the author Tom Cheetham, a scholarly expert when it comes to interpreting the works of Henry Corbin, the renowned philosopher and professor of Islamic Studies (1903-1978). Corbin was responsible for redirecting the study of Islamic philosophy, transforming erstwhile ideas about Islam into a rich panoply of poetry and esoteric vision.
Reading Cheetham (which is infinitely easier than reading Corbin) is an exercise in acquainting yourself with astrology’s deepest truths: The planets, the Sun and the Moon are living beings.
“This limitless cosmos is full of Presences, full of Persons — full of angels.
We have to discard all our trivialized and anthropocentric conceptions of the nature of such beings. They are personified metaphysical presences, the movers of the worlds, and they provide the connection between ourselves and divinity.
There is no question of anthropomorphism. The personality of these beings is not derived from ours; ours is only a dim reflection of theirs.
The hermeneutic ability of the creative Imagination to transmute all things into symbols destroys the distinction between psychology and cosmology and unites them in a psycho-cosmology in which Creator and creature participate not as opposing terms with an unbridgeable gulf separating them, but as complementary poles of a divine drama.
‘The personal God [Corbin writes] is . . . encountered at the end of a Quest (as of that for the Holy Grail).’ The endpoint of this search is not an idol, not a thing at all, and therefore not an end but a beginning … the Emptiness, the Unknown, and the Unknowable into which one falls upward in an unending series of theophanies.”
Astrology is born of humankind’s relationship to nature, or put another way, astrology is an extension, within the human, of the angelic of which men and women have an opportunity to play an active role through conscious awareness of Being.
Conditions of Being or Presence are not difficult to grasp. Attention, an active force of awareness that we each possess, has the ability to guide and focus our inquiry through the relational qualities inherent in Presence.
Presence is described as such by Samer Akkach in the book Cosmology and Architecture in Premodern Islam:
“The notion of presence refers to the complex web of physical, mental, and spiritual relationships a being spawns by its very existence and the influences it exerts through this web of connectedness. A thing is perceived to have a presence insofar as it impacts other presences, influences their course of existence, and becomes part of their world. In other words, it is not the mere existence of the thing that matters but rather its level of impact and domain of influence. This is what makes it effectively present.”
For more inquiry on this thread see the following.
The three water signs of the zodiac are associated with the world of the imaginal and the imagination. In Plato’s dialogue Timaeus, he speaks of that out of which all things have generated: the nurse, the receptacle “that we may liken to a mother” or a womb “that partakes of the intelligible [but] is yet most incomprehensible.”
Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich comments: “In these delightful lines Plato still speaks of the image-pregnant stuff of the dreams and imagination … as one who still has the experience of in precategorical, “founded” space.” This describes quite well the nascent, creative realm of the three water signs.
This is a peculiar realm, this world that Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces access. The imaginal imparts to the water triad qualities like intuitive prescience, sometimes maddening irrationality (“I dunno, it just doesn’t feel right to me, I can’t explain why.”) Also visions and unfounded insights. All reinforced with the conviction that the imaginary realm is more substantial, more vital than pre-Cartesian quotidian reality.
But this isn’t a post about traditional associations with the water triad, I’m just teasing that element forward to get you thinking about your own relationship to imagination and that receptacle “that we may liken to a mother” or a womb “that partakes of the intelligible [but] is yet most incomprehensible.”
Primarily, I want to talk about the water realm because our distance from it explains much about our obsession with computers and screens and how screens act as mirrors. Through technology, we attempt to crawl our way back into an experience of inner space (think of this space as the place you occupied before your father’s sperm collided with your mother’s egg) and regain sustenance from the type of silence that is both inchoate and buzzing. The Voice of Silence.
I think this explains our culture’s preoccupation and sometimes addiction with screens. Screens that deliver images wholesale — without any investment on your part in their creation — which robs you of the mysterious middle ground you must pass through to create — to bring forth any sort of creation from the realm of the imaginal. Never any easy process to engage with.
As Tom Cheetham notes in his book on Henry Corbin‘s cosmology, The World Turned Inside Out, we are all starving for the imaginal and the realms of the Imagination.
When the Sufis talk about Imagination they are not referring to it as the fantastical or fanciful. Imagination, within their cosmology, is an actual mode of perception. This is an important distinction to grasp.
In our typical reductionist, mechanistic world we seem to think if we can just see enough images, gather enough access to experience the Imaginal whenever we want — at our beck and call via an Internet application or bit of software that generates virtual reality, we can experience the actual space that is part and parcel the arrival of the imaginary.
You need to read that paragraph above again, to make the right connection. That felt condition, that space from which the first intimations of concepts or images arise, is a condition vitally important to the well-being of the soul.
We require a sense of inner space, via our relationship to Presence, to enable the soul to breathe, to contact the imaginal realm, to see how the conceptual world we live in is simply a shell that overlays and protects a richer, larger experience of life. The dynamic realm that exists free of concepts and the conceptual
The concepts of time and space confine us. To maneuver about within the world we use time and space to demarcate and define. But in doing so we become so acclimated to this lens of viewing reality that we forget the timeless — the unbounded freedom that Presence imparts. The term Presence is used a lot in spiritual writing, losing much of its direct transmission through misinterpretation. Whereas Presence is easily identifiable. It’s a condition of being that requires no faith or belief in any particular dogma or doctrine. Keep it simple. Sense yourself as you are reading this sentence. And that awareness is Presence.
But we can not do this by just collecting and stuffing our minds with images, this is akin to partaking of a giant gourmet meal but without any engagement with the process of collecting the ingredients and the recipes and the cooking that brings the meal to our table. In other words, we can’t sense the freedom of the space that the pre-imaginal realm connotes by simply cramming ourselves with more and more images, concepts, sensations and information.
This starvation for the space that accompanies the imagination and the imaginal shows up in our drive towards the Future and towards the New World.
As Cheenahm explains, “…whether that is America, the Moon, or the virtual realities of the Internet. We can never after such a loss have enough space. In our drive to recover the spaces of the Imagination, we have taken refuge in the Image. Television, movies, video screens in every classroom, magazines, billboards — the world is full of Images, all coming from the Outside, according to someone else’s agenda. They are immeasurably powerful.
The Free Market has known that for a long time, but this is precisely the opposite of that Interiorization of the world that is the goal of gnosis. It is in fact, the latest, perhaps the last, step in the exteriorization and total objectification of the soul. We are driven by it by a kind of perverse necessity: the more we need space for the things of the soul, the more we seek images to fill the space that we no longer create for ourselves.
And yet fewer and fewer of us know the source of this panic or where to turn in response. And so we continue to search for new disciplines of the imagination and are caught by each in turn, disoriented and confused in a world that will not cohere.”