Part of my study of astrology has been a quest to find, and understand, the philosophy or world-order that makes sense of it.
Most modern astrology that I have seen does not clearly address this issue. Implicitly, the question is dealt with in a number of ways.
1) It’s ignored. That doesn’t work, since astrology makes no sense within the context of the current scientific – materialist mainstream worldview.
2) It tries to make astrology ‘scientific’, by weeding out all that is ‘superstitious’ about it, and working with analytic tools like statistical studies.
3) It ties astrology to a depth-psychology model, so that the planets are not ‘forces’ in the ‘material’ world, but ‘archetypes’ within consciousness.
4) Astrology is connected with worldviews imported from other systems – like Theosophy, or Taoism, or Vedanta – or, more commonly, an eclectic combination of these, stirred up and spiced with a bit of New Age Positive Thinking.
5) Some vague combination of All of The Above.
All of these share a common characteristic – they try to explain Astrology in terms of some other system, rather than looking for a self-consistent worldview within astrology itself.
I think astrology makes most sense within the context of the worldview and philosophies of the cultures that developed the system. Astrology comes out of the syncretistic, Greek-Roman-Babylonian-Egyptian synthesis of Middle Eastern culture around the early centuries B.C. and A.D., when that part of the world was the center of what became Western civilization. This system was then taken up by the great Arabic civilizations, and was later imported into Medieval Christian Europe in the Middle Ages through Latin translations of Arabic texts.
I look for the roots of Astrology in the works of the great Greek and Roman philosophers that provided the philosophical context for its early development.
Aristotle; Plato and the Neo-Platonists who followed him; and, the Stoics, together spell out the roots of the astrological worldview.
While these systems have their differences, one thing they have in common, is a strong affirmation of an overall rational order to the Universe. This world is not random; the material world does not exist in meaningless isolation; it is part of a larger order that includes all aspects of human experience, internal and external. And, it is an order that is alive, conscious, and rational.
There is a meaning and pattern to this order, and human reason is a central part of our place in that order.
That is an important insight to recover. Too much of our modern thinking implicitly devalues or distrusts reason, and exalts feeling, or intuition, or creativity, or spirituality – not together with reason, but over against it.
That’s dangerous, folks. I can understand that as a reaction to an over-emphasis on ‘scientific’ rationality that distrusts or discounts emotion or intuition. But, to go to the other extreme, and exalt feeling over against reason, makes exactly the same mistake. It splits our psyches and our world into incompatible warring parts, and sets the mind at war with itself.
Part of that split, is the disconnect between internal, subjective, private experience, and external, objective, collective order. Keeping that split puts us in the self-destructive position of having to choose one or the other.
Astrology offers a way to heal that split. It connects up the internal world of consciousness and meaning with a larger order within which we function. We do not live our lives in isolation; we live it in the context of a larger, rational whole.
The key word here is – rational. There is an order and reason to Universe, and astrology helps me understand and discern where I fit within that order. Do I always understand it? No, but I can perceive enough of it to trust that I fit within it, rather than being pitted against it.