Except when it really isn’t. I put only modest stock in astrological divination. I have, however, experienced the influence of the heavens on the unfolding of my spiritual life. If that seems contradictory to you, then read on. This is the post where I unpack that. I am going to be a little critical of astrology, but as I’ll come circle back round to, I do that to make clear what else we can get at by pushing astrology’s boundaries back.
While my spiritual life is exactly that, mine, it is also inseparably joined to the carnival of other lives parading through this cosmos. What is distinctly mine in that can never be fully separated from the overlapping materiality in which I and others develop that sense of self. That necessarily includes the movements of the heavens (which I share in common with many, many beings on this planet) and, at key junctures in my life, the heavens have been viscerally present.
That visceral presence doesn’t match my experience of astrology, though, with its historical legacy of constellations and planets joined to clumsy ad hoc extensions of the system to ‘keep current’ with modern astronomical developments. There is also a problem of scale for me. The macro-movements of the heavens described by astrology don’t seem terribly well-suited to describing the choppy micro-movements upon which our lives flutter.
There are complicated ways of mapping our astrological affinities through birth with the astrological affinities of the moment to overcome some of this, but in general it doesn’t often seem helpful. Or, at least, it doesn’t seem like the advice derived from it is especially helpful except circuitously.
It also doesn’t capture that these celestial bodies themselves have local lives. At this moment, the atmospheres of Saturn and Jupiter are churning away and we have only the most rudimentary grasp of what that means, moment to moment, for the state of those planets, for the disposition of their anima mundi. The constellations result from our location in relation to the stars and each star is itself a point from which alien constellations take shape, constellations whose influence on the stars we can’t readily grasp.
While I am talking a bit about contemporary astronomical knowledge, this insight about the limits of astrological divination isn’t contemporary. Or, perhaps more accurately, the insight is implicit in some of the approaches to the heavens in antiquity. Look to ancient Sumer. The rulers made extensive use of astrologers to get advice, but they also made sure to clarify by ancillary oracles, through dreams and haruspicy.
What is it those oracles provide that the astrology doesn’t? Well, my bet is that in each case we are seeing the subtle messages of the heavens amplified in the receptive materia of living beings suited to receiving messages from the heavens. We can’t exactly see the disposition of stars and planets, but we can see the how those in sympathy with various elements have been responding to it.
While I have yet to find any decisive evidence for this, I suspect that the practice of geomancy developed within this milieau as a still more flexible means for determining the precise relationship between the disposition of heavenly bodies and the disposition of the earth. So, while I don’t ignore the import of positionality highlighted by astrology, I think we have reason (and means) to consider other aspects of heavenly beings.
I suspect there is also a quality of election, of our earthly anima mundi ‘deciding’ to receive the influence of the heavenly powers. Here, too, geomancy can be helpful in getting a sense for the forces that the anima mundi has elected to receive. Look to the first house of a geomantic chart and the sign there tells you something about the disposition of the earth. The changes in eras? Some of that may have less to do precisely with the heavens than with the way in which our earth has disposed herself to receive or exclude the heavenly influence.
There is useful material to be had from getting an astrological perspective on matters, especially where you are attempting to work directly with the astrological powers themselves. There’s just a lot else going on which limits our ability to rely on the astrological material as a determining element in matters.