I was a philosophy and religion major in college, and that shaped my perspective on the world. Whenever I examine any subject at all, there is always a part of my mind that is standing back, observing and asking all kinds of questions.
What kind of worldview does this imply? What kind of ethical values does it hold up as desirable, and what is considered undesirable?
In working with astrology I am fascinated by asking the same kinds of questions of our astrology tools and language. We use sets of words and concepts here – what kind of value system do those words imply?
It is very, very important to me to attempt to become aware of the assumptions and implications of the language I use. I want to make sure that the message I am giving really matches the kinds of values I hold.
The tools we use in our astrology imply a worldview, and that changes as our tools change. For instance, when the three outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, were added to the pantheon of the Sacred Seven, this was more than just the addition of three new rulers to divide up among the sign rulerships.
This is a whole new world, a whole different cosmology – and, a whole different set of values.
Saturn once represented the boundaries of human experience – and now there are three planets outside of that boundary. That changes what it means to be human.
In the evolution of astrology, first the earth is at the very center of the Universe, the fixed point from which everything is measured.
Then, with the Copernican revolution, the Sun becomes the fixed center of the Universe, and the solar system, including our earth, revolves around that Sun. This implies a single central standard of values, a single point of view, a single ruling light that governs the order of the Universe. This also means that any other point in the solar system exists by virtue of this central Sun, and thus must recognize that Sun’s rule. The earth is no longer at the center; it defers to the Sun.
Now, in our modern cosmology including the outer planets, one solar system among many, within one galaxy among many – there no longer is any one fixed point that is the center of the Universe. Effectively, this means that any point anywhere in the Universe can be taken as a center, literally a point of view.
The Sun is no longer the center of the Universe, but a galactic citizen, one star among many – no more important, but also no less important.
This means that our earth can again be viewed as the center of the Universe for a point of view, one center among myriads.
As astrologers, this can also mean that, rather than there being a single person, the human experience can be viewed as one of multiple interacting selves. The human individual is now an inner human family.
We no longer have a single viewpoint, a single standard of values that is normative. Any value systems that arise out of this new cosmology have to take into account the integrity and the independence of each individual’s point of view.
This needs to be balanced with an awareness that each individual is one among many, and hence must respect the rights of other individuals in order to harmoniously live.
It is a balanced perspective that emphasizes both the individual and the greater interactive whole. Not either/or, but both/and.
The individual is not the one center of the Universe; equally, the individual is not reduced to one faceless atom in a larger collective, that forgoes its own point of view for the sake of the whole.
Now, we need to emphasize both, in balance. To participate as equal galactic citizens, we need to simultaneously affirm our own individuality, and recognize the individuality and value of all others.
This implies values which recognize both the individual and the interactive whole. Combined with the traditional self-negating values of altruism and unselfishness, we now need a balancing set of self-affirming and self-empowering values. We can no longer afford to treat ourselves and others as worthless dots in a collective whole, but as uniquely valuable and important.
I think this means that the days are gone forever when the authority of a single church or religious system could be universally recognized as the one true way. Even organizations like the Catholic church have to function in a world where there are other religions that do not recognize her authority. Functionally it is a plurality of systems.
How does this affect us as astrologers?
We are no longer cast in the role of lawgiver and preacher, where we offer our sermon on the meaning of the chart, without checking with the person in front of us.
First, I think we need to be very aware of our own standards of values, what kind of language we use, and what that language implies.
And second, we need to strive to enter into each client’s world, allow each person to have their own inviolate point of view on the Universe, and to offer our observations within the context of their world.
This implies a high level of self-awareness, and a high level of awareness of the selves of others. That is quite a challenge.