I grew up in New York City, in a kind of run-down, lower middle class neighborhood. From the time I could be outside and relating to other kids, I was surrounded by people with different cultural backgrounds – German, Mexican, Irish, Italian, Chinese, and some others I didn’t know how to pronounce. We had different values, different religions, different family models, so part of our job as kids was to figure out a way to find common ground despite those differences.
I grew up surrounded by multiple models of reality interacting together, sometimes harmoniously, sometimes not.
Because of that experience, somewhere deep in me is the feeling that there is no one absolute world, no one set of values, no one way of thinking and acting, that is the one true reality. I’ve always assumed that there are multiple realities that each have their points, their strengths and weaknesses, and that they need to learn to communicate.
Many people like me are a product of a multi-cultural reality, where we interact with others who view the world in profoundly different ways than we do.
There are also many, many people in our world who grow up within a single reality, and view that as the only possible way you could be. This could come from a small town, a closed community, or perhaps a close-knit family where all your main friends were in the same world that you are in.
I call these two categories, single reality people, and multiple reality people.
There is a profound difference in viewpoint between the two. This is not the same as discussing, say, whether it was okay for a Christian to marry a Catholic – and seriously, we had long arguments about that when I was in seminary.
When these two positions interact, on the one hand you have a person who is convinced that their reality must be true, so that means that the other person’s must be false. On the other hand you have someone thinking, you have one model of the world and I have another, and we are discussing them from a vantage point larger than either of them.
Multiple Models in Astrology
So what does this have to do with astrology?
To often I see astrologers acting like single reality people in a multiple reality world. On the one hand there are the traditional astrologers who are convinced that they have found the one true way to do astrology, so therefore all modern astrology must be rubbish. On the other hand are the modern astrologers who say that we need to discard the pre-scientific medieval superstition that clutters astrology, and keep only the part that is true and modern.
When I was looking for people to critique the book I wrote on traditional astrology last year, I mentioned one person who was reading it and got the comment, Oh, she’s not the person to read the book, she’s into Evolutionary Astrology. The assumption was that a person into the one kind of astrology couldn’t be interested in the other. Traditional and Evolutionary astrology were being pigeonholed as contradictory and exclusive models, rather than different perspectives that could possibly interact and learn from each other.
One person’s medieval superstition is another person’s astrology specialty. One person’s rubbish is another person’s modern viewpoint.
I think that is time for the astrology community to get past this sort of parochial narrowness.
Models vs Reality
I think we need to really internalize the fact that our astrology systems are models, perspectives, viewpoints. Each way of doing astrology is a window on the world, and each has its own assumptions and methods, things it looks for and things it leaves out. It is important to remember that our astrology model is not identical to the reality it attempts to order and describe.
We act like diners in a restaurant who eat the menu rather than the food.
No single model of astrology is absolute.
Rather than trying to defend our particular model and cut down others, I think we do better to view each model as a different perspective, and a chance to learn and see things we would otherwise not be aware of.