Friday 20 March 2015

Astrology and the Eclipse

I think I might find out a bit more about astrology. Astrology something I've never really thought much about although I know many people who have, and even practice it. I'm certainly not a positive Skeptic of it at all. An astrology column can be found in every tabloid newspaper; however I'm sure most people know that that is not real astrology and that all seven million Britons born under the sign of Capricorn are not expected to watch their step when dealing with a situation involving transport or a pet cat... or they might not be "...celebrating too!" Astrology dates back the earliest known records of civilization and was practiced alongside astronomy; however in ancient times the attitude towards it was very different. Both astrology and astronomy are words that derive from the Greek asteri meaning "Star", yet their meanings are totally different in English. This says something profound about our modern culture, this division between exact scientific study and mystical belief. Some would even argue that you can be an astronomer or and astrologer, but you can't be both. However in the ancient civilizations like Egypt there was no such contradiction. An astrologer once spoke at an Alternative View conference, Helen Sewell, see: Richard Dawkins is naturally a sceptic and Skeptic of astrology, see: It is intellectually dishonest of him to conflate newspaper astrology with serious astrology, like I say above, but he does ask some legitimate questions. If astrology is real how does it work? We know planets and stars influence each other through their gravitational fields, but astrology can't be that. The truth may lie in some fundamental operation of the working of the universe that may be beyond our understanding. The litmus test is whether it has an effect and many people say it does. I myself had a birth chart done by somebody who doesn't know me and I was impressed at how perceptive it was.

What made me bring this up today is that this morning there was a solar eclipse where I live. Technically it was a partial eclipse because the entire sun was not covered, but over three quarters was. I was lucky because there was thin cloud which the sun could shine through, but it blocked out enough of the light not to be blinding; you should never look at the sun when it's at full brightness because it can damage your eyes. The sun shrank to a thin crescent, like the moon close to its new phase. The light around me changed; it became dimmer as if it were late evening, but it looked strange with the sun so high in the sky. The effect was altogether spooky. After about half an hour it brightened up again and things returned to normal. Solar eclipses happen when the moon moves between the sun and the Earth casting a shadow of itself onto the Earth. They happen every eighteen months or so, but not in the same place every time. This means that each part of the Earth will only experience it on about three or four occasions every century. The next partial eclipse in the UK will be in 2026 and there will be no total one until 2090. I've experienced a solar eclipse before in 1999 when there was once in Britain; this time there was totality but only along the south coast of England. Here in Oxford it was almost total and it was clear weather so we got a better view of people in the "umbra" where there was cloud. I went to an ancient burial mound in the middle of a field with some friends. There were horses in the field and they became agitated as the darkness closed in. One of my friends told me that the eclipse marked the dawning of the "Age of Aquarius"; now of course that's a famous song from the Sixties, but it refers to a real concept. However the "Age" in this case refers to a period of over two thousand years and its "dawn" cannot be pinpointed to a single day or even a single decade (This person turned out to be a generally very dishonest and harmful individual whom I should never have called a friend and a few years later we fell out). These "Ages" are all a part of the "precession of the equinoxes" a cycle that takes 26,000 years! You see how astrology is far deeper and more complex than what you read under your star sign in The Daily Express? Apparently today is very important astrologically because the eclipse has happened on the spring equinox and there's a "new moon in Pisces", see: As you can see though, different astrologers interpret the data in different ways. Here's the viewpoint of one of the most popular: Astrology is not an exact science; in fact when I said this to the lady who did my birth chart she replied indigantly: "It's not a science at all, it's an art!"
The media have covered the eclipse in detail and the BBC had a live broadcast. No prizes for guessing who presented it, see: There was no totality anywhere in the UK and the best place in the country to see it was in Shetland (if Shetland counts as part of the UK at all, see: The umbra of today's eclipse was mostly over the northern oceans and the best place on land to see it was the Faroe Islands. All the planets experience eclipses except Mercury. Sooner or later a planet's view of the sun will be obscured by another planet or one of its own moons. This is really what the transit of Venus was, see: This situation on Earth is unique though because of an incredible cosmic effect. The sun is of course far bigger than the moon, but it is much further away. It is precisely four hundred times as far away as the moon; the moon's diameter is exactly four hundred times smaller than that of the sun. This means that Sun and the moon appear to be exactly the same size on the celestial sphere. So when the moon eclipses the sun it does so with precision. If the moon's apparent size were any smaller not all the sun would be covered and the moon would just transit the sun in the same way Venus does. If the moon's apparent size were a lot bigger then a solar eclipse would look more like a lunar eclipse with the entire sun vanishing for an hour or more. It is only when the two bodies are the exact same apparent size that you get the magnificent effect of the photosphere of the sun being obscured but the solar corona being visible. During totality it's possible to see the solar corona from the Earth's surface, the only time ever that it's not washed out by the extreme glare of the photosphere. Prof Brian Cox has a simple and very typical explanation to this: "Absolute coincidence!" What he says is symptomatic of the modern cultural issue I talked about above. It's is an incredible coincidence considering the vastness of the solar system and the fact that Earth is the only planet known to have life. But there's nothing I can say in response because when a Skeptic cries "coincidence!" nobody can prove them wrong. It's an unfalsifiable hypothesis, a get-out-of-jail-free card. As I've explained before there is nothing physically possible in the universe that is so unlikely that it can never happen. Therefore the Skeptics need to get together with the rest of us and negotiate a statistical ceiling which we can all agree on. Once that cut-off point is decided upon we will all be able to say without any more fuss that anything above that point cannot be coincidence and anything below it might be, see:


Anonymous said...

Dear Ben. It's just a coincidence mate! . . . Ironic that skeptics would use a coincidence to convict a skeptical assertion!, anyway, the animals have been acting strange today, that's a coincidence too.

Look, the ancient Chinese shamens and sages understood the internal cosmic movement of the body, this meditation is the realigning of vital energy and of the mind. Astrology is the ancient study of the tiandao (天道 "way of Heaven"). A lot of this ideology gives "normative priority" to the natural order, with human social order based upon and in harmony with the cosmic order.

In East Asian philosophy the Moon represents enlightenment so for the moon to block the light of the sun is a very significant idea to digest. In the secular Astrological tradition (not counting Sun News Astrology), the same developmental rubric is achieved not by individuals sat on a mountain disciplining their mindsthrough meditation but rather through academics who collectively discipline their minds focusing upon particular astrological problems in this case ‘the planets’.

In the secular model of reality, the human mind like the sage is disciplined not by focusing upon the thought process & breath, but rather by affixing its attention upon the behaviour of planets. What links secular knowledge to spiritual wisdom is that the human mind is the central organ of operation, what is an eclipse when it is not something outside of us. Thank's Ben

Saturday Sannie said...

The positioning of the moon in relation to the sun ....coincidence my arse!

That's one of my pet peeves with pseudo cosmologists like coxy, its due to predictable gravitational mapping, this is one of those rare occasions where you can run up to coxy and scream "ACTUAL SCIENCE BITCH!"...then promptly slap him across the mush with a wet kipper...

Here's something to tickle the fancy bone...we as yet cant fully map solar gravity , but the ancients seemingly could somehow ( we can do it short term, but nothing of the span of time the Mayans could, hell they could even predict solar activity over vast periods of time ), they seemingly could accurately map the ebb and flow of gravitational pull from even further away than our own solar system how did they do it?

Somehow they had a predictable way of mapping celestial events accurately...its not booga booga seeing into the future, but more like a scientific method all of their own, cause and effect if you will.

We know that people studied the heavens all of their lives and that they also passed on that knowledge, but we don't really understand the method or why it was so accurate, but as far as predicting future events in daily life...hell...i know these people where good , I just don't think they where “that” good.

You know i think modern astrology is a load of hooey, but here's something to try, put it to the test, get a daily chart for April and test it throughout the month, then on the first of may post up the results.

How's that old polo mint advert go ? suck it and see? if nothing else it would be an interesting experiment.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post Hunlie.

The three periods of time(past, future and present) are spoken of to common thinking as being in line with worldly thinking but this does not mean that that which is timeless or eternal is tied to the past, future and present.

It seems certain knowledge in ancient society was assertained via the 'shaman' a character associated with all ancient cultures, i.e thoses who possessed a knowledge of the three periods as syncronicity. The Book Of Changes for example followed this pattern, this pattern was observed and persued in Modern Philosophy through Jung etc.

I believe that as you said: "these people where good , I just don't think they where “that” good." Why is this? I believe it is because they attained the realm in which man and heaven mutually penetrate each other, this is seen in the teachings of Taoism and is seen in the Astrological knowledge of ancient civilisations. There is still however that Heavenly - Earthly dichotomy (Man and the Stars) whereas the Ta'ng dynast Ch'an masters and philosophical masters of the Dao's wisdom was far more comprehensive but such distinctions of time-space were thoroughly extricated and displays of arbitrary clairvoyance, prediction would have been seen as vulgar and an attempt to control the 'Ego' in temporal limitations even though they could utilise such things.

The same process is happening with DNA research by moderns science as the modern 'shaman' seeking to communicate with the past/ancestors or gain knowledge of the universe. This knowledge is always limited for although deep in insight is still limited to the dichotomy of ambivilant consciousness, viz a viz, limited self awareness. The knowledge of the 'Future' is the knowledge of times untenability and the word itself which postulates it's opposites (past, future), here's an interesting conversation Jung had shortly before his death:

“Today no one pays attention to what lies behind words…to the basic ideas that are there. Yet the idea is the only thing that is truly there. What I have done in my work, is simply to give new names to those ideas, to those realities. Consider, for example, the word ‘Unconscious.’ I have just finished reading a book by a Chinese Zen Buddhist. And it seemed to me that we were talking about the same thing, and that the only difference between us was that we gave different words to the same reality. Thus use of the word Unconscious doesn’t matter; what counts is the idea that lies behind the word.”


Saturday Sannie said...

Every time I hear mention of shamen , I'm reminded of a story of a girl/woman ( an artist I believe ) who did an experiment with LSD , she would draw a self portrait , take a prescribed amount of LSD and through the night continue to draw self portraits , the evolution of the drawings was startling to say the least.

I've seen other pictures drawn by people on LSD and its quite remarkable, whatever is happening to their brain chemistry seems to be expanding their consciousness, point being is that we know shamen from many cultures took mind altering substances, maybe in doing so they somehow became aware of something the rest of us are missing.

Perception is a very very deep concept and I do believe these people had a ….shall we say “Higher sense of it” than your average Joe, I had been reading up on a lot of what Anthony Peake had been writing , as well as a few others and I do believe it is the case that our level of perception is limited, simply put...we're not seeing the bigger picture.


Maybe these people did see more, we already know that within the animal and insect kingdoms , they are subject to effects and stimuli that humans don't even notice, I mean if nothing else its plausible, in Peake's research he shows that perception is key , that even what we perceive as time is subject to it, maybe these past peoples actually found a way of ….”Breaking the bonds of perception” if you like, I think this is what the old sorcerers where able to do , if not break perception , then at the very least bend it a great deal , it would be interesting what people made of old ritual texts like the keys of Solomon while under the influence of LSD and other such mind altering substances.

To really simplify it and bring it down to my level, it's like looking through a textbook on advanced particle physics without being able to read...we sort of know what it is and have an idea of what its about, but we'd never understand it without at first learning to actually read ...who knows? Maybe LSD is for ancient science.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Thanks for your comments, X and Hunlie

Anonymous said...

Hey all. The great key is that consciousness is not the final frontier, one must step beyond. It is known as the 'theif that is our own son' at the subtlest remnant it is known as the storehoue-consciousness or subconcious, extremely complex - that is – the extremely subtle storehouse-influencing consciousness, the real yet unreal that creates confusion the hardest barrier whos influence is to be broken up but the sage is cautious in revealingThe subtlety is what the world is blind to, what it does not see. It is accessed only by shutting the gates of the senses. The subtlety is wonderful in that it is full of wonder. . At the subtlest sense It is the perceived 'inner' reference of the false 'I' that makes a subject out of it and creates the 'Heavenly' and 'Earthly', 'Subject' - 'Object' dichotomy. I think the key to this is that inward journey that removes the inner boundries that naturally translates as limitless outer boundries because the subject-object relationship, as conventionally conceived, no longer obtains. Many enlightened beings have already ventured into the theories only to be investigated such as quantum mechanics recently yet thousands of years ago where distance and time are absolute only due to untutored perception. I think we have just become more temporally rooted thats all. The gate however is always open.