Everything = Nothing
One of the complaints I have with modern astrology is the idea that if something is out there, then it MUST be astrologically significant. In the last two centuries, the discovery of the unseen planets Uranus, Neptune and (now “dwarf planet”) Pluto haphazardly into the system of astrology has given modern astrologers tacit permission to include anything floating around the Sun in their astrology charts.
In the early part of the twentieth century, especially between the two world wars, systems of astrology were developed that even included hypothetical planets. These were added to the asteroids — which began with the four first discovered, but now includes thousands — as well as to the comet Chiron (discovered in 1977), the anticipated planet Vulcan (proven not to exist, but still included by some), other, newer hypothetical bodies (Lilith, aka the Black Moon), more mathematical points (East Point, Vertex, etc.), and so forth.
Now let me say that I don’t believe that any of these real points (I’m not counting they hypotheticals here) have nothing to say at all about astrology. On some level, everything is connected. But much of it is coincidental, and the rest of it is less-than-significant. For example, whether the asteroid Eros is crossing my midheaven on the day I get married is not really all that useful in terms of predicting when I might get married, to whom, what kind of relationship the marriage will be, etc.
Traditional astrology grew out of hundreds and even thousands of years of observations. It may have included some hypotheticals at certain historical points, but those hypotheticals have since had a long opportunity to be proven true or false by observation and experience. This vast experience with the traditional 5 planets and the Sun and Moon (7 in all) allowed astrology to be built into a comprehensive system with an underlying philosophy which has been abandoned (mostly through ignorance) in modern times. This lack of cohesion and depth of understanding, not only of the philosophical underpinnings of astrology, but also of the richness in the 7 visible celestial bodies, has led modern astrologers to look elsewhere to find meaning in their charts. My contention has been, for many years, that if astrologers truly understood the ancient system, and had a deep knowledge and experience of the 7 traditional planets, they would not need to look elsewhere for more meaning.
Sue Ward has written a well-researched paper on Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, the modern planets. A free sample of it is available on her website, and the 80-page paper is available for a mere Â£5. In the paper she deals with many good issues, including the discoveries of these planets, the lack of astrological involvement in their naming, the political designs of the Theosophical Society in using these in astrology, and others. One of the conclusions she draws, which to me is the most significant, is that only planets, stars, etc., that cast light upon us physically, also cast light upon us spiritually. In other words (my words here), if you need a telescope to see it, it really doesn’t have much (if any) effect on our daily lives. I recommend the paper to anyone who is serious about astrology. Even if one doesn’t agree with all of her conclusions (I do), one should be aware of the historical development of these issues, and Ms Ward lays them out quite clearly.
The chart shown above is one that an astrologer posted online for a recent New Moon. This person posts a similar chart almost monthly. While a Traditional Astrology chart will typically include the seven classical planets, the North and South Lunar Nodes, and a few Parts or Lots, for a total of about 10 points, this chart (not counting Ascendant and Midheaven) includes 31 planets, hypothetical planets, or mathematical points. I have absolutely no idea how any astrologer makes any sort of sense of this glut of symbols. When everything in the sky is significant, then nothing is significant. If everything mean something, then nothing means anything. This is what allows astrologers to say things like “energy is getting frantic, watch for it to hit the fan this weekend.” And then they see some accident or disaster in the news and say “I told you so.” However, I’ll point out that #1 – these kinds of things happen all the time without specific predictions being made by these astrologers (how about a specific What, When and Where?) and #2 – they really didn’t predict anything, since “it” can mean whatever one wants in retrospect.
If astrology is going to regain any semblance of respect among the general population, beyond their passing interest in their daily, newspaper horoscope, then it needs to be serious, precise, and accurate, not frivolous, ambiguous, and opportunist. Traditional astrological methods are one way of moving toward that goal.
Christopher Warnock, Esq · 2011-08-12 at 08:54
Excellent post as usual!
However, I have to wonder about Sue Ward's assertion that,
"only planets, stars, etc., that cast light upon us physically, also cast light upon us spiritually" ???
What about Nodes and Arabic Parts? These don't cast any light at all, in fact, they don't even have physical existence.
It seems very odd to me to argue that only physical objects have spiritual effect. This actually sounds very modern atheistic/materialistic, making the material the test of the spiritual. This inverts the traditional view that the spiritual underlies the materials and is the ultimate source of the material.
I do use Uranus and Neptune, but in a manner analogous to Nodes or fixed stars. Uranus and Neptune seem to be "sensitive" points in the Zodiac and a planet conjunct them or if they are in or, particularly if conjunct a house cusp, they can give useful secondary information, in my experience.
I do not think, as traditional astrologers, that we need to "freeze" our technique as it was in 1700, on the other hand, we need to be careful about adding new techniques to make sure that adding them does not do violence to the system of traditional astrology, worked out as mentioned over several millenia.
Chris LaFond · 2011-08-12 at 09:02
In defense of Sue Ward, let me say first that I was paraphrasing her results, and haven't read the paper in a few months. However, the other points that you mention (Nodes, Parts, etc.) are mostly made up of "visible" points; i.e., they are combinations somehow of visible planets or bodies, or the horizon. I do recommend that serious astrologers read her paper for themselves, since she says these things more elegantly than I do here.
I used to use Uranus, Neptune and Pluto too as what I called "freelance malefics", and somewhat like fixed stars. But I have found that I have not really missed them since I stopped looking at them in charts. I don't seem to have missed any major events in my clients' lives either by not including them.
I guess that my main point here, which I thought was clear, is that while I admit the possibility that these other things in the solar system may add secondary and tertiary information, I think that we, as astrologers, can often get lost in that secondary and tertiary land while ignoring the primary stuff. Often, this is because modern astrology doesn't really even teach a hierarchy of importance, and has lost most of the depth of meaning in what I am calling the primary stuff.