Return to the Source

This is my first blog post since back in March, when I decided to take a couple of months off from writing about astrology. My birthday is in early March; in astrology terms, this year I have transiting Pluto conjunct my natal Ascendant in my Solar Return chart, and that will continue for the next couple of years.

Pluto, the Cosmic Roto-Rooter – major change, major cleanout, major transformation – it kind of feels like the psychic equivalent of having one of those drain cleaner thingies shoved up my butt. I think of myself as being Closed for Renovations this year. Along with some major shifts in diet and lifestyle, this includes my needing to re-think my attitude towards astrology, how it works, and how it fits in the world today, in this period of global instability and national decline.

Putting in bluntly – why bother studying and practicing astrology in the first place? How do I make sense of astrology in a 21st century world, and what good does it do?

I have don’t the answers down yet, but I do have a sense of direction and where to look, and I have a sense that I am being guided in my search.

In this post I want to start to define the questions, and give you an idea of where I am looking for the answers.

I am basically a philosopher masquerading as an astrologer, so I will be widening the scope of the blog this year, and talking a a lot about the philosophical underpinnings of our practice of astrology today.

I think there is a serious need for modern astrology to examine its roots, and to come up with a self-aware philosophy in which astrology makes coherent sense, rather than trying to tack it onto a modern materialist and scientific worldview in which astrology is unprovable at best, and irrelevant and delusory at worst.

Why are people drawn to study astrology? I think that is largely a reaction against a modern worldview that is fragmented and devoid of meaning. We stare out at a meaningless and mechanical cosmos, tiny specks of matter on a tiny planet, with a life span that is less than the blink of an eyelid in terms of the overall life of the universe.

Think Existential Angst here, a universe empty of meaning. Angst is kind of cool when you’re a teenager, but it’s a whole different animal when you’re in your mid sixties and can feel the dark chill of decline and death approaching. I can’t duck the issue of death anymore, and I need a philosophy and spiritual path that includes dealing with aging and death.

In the modern world there is the sense that we are living in a universe that is either indifferent or downright hostile to us – you even see that in a lot of 20th century astrology, that narrows the scope of astrology to an inner, psychological and spiritual meaning. In terms of the larger world we inhabit, individual human life matters very little. So, we have a split between us living humans, and the world we inhabit.

Paralleling that, we are split and fragmented internally. Our culture has a serious mind-body split, where our bodies are unruly and sometimes hostile animals that we need to control and discipline the best we can, and that are destined to fall apart and die on us in far too short a time period. Our medical system treats the body as a mindless and inanimate machine, at the mercy of hostile invasion from enemies – from without like infectious diseases, or from within like cancer, where the body turns and destroys itself. We are in the middle, between diseases on the one side, and doctors with their machines and drugs on the other – and the message is very clear, that we are powerless.

We are split off from the world around us, and we are split off in consciousness from our own bodies, which betray and eventually fail us. This can leave people feeling very helpless and isolated indeed.

Much of the search for meaning in our culture seems to be channeled into the political arena these days – at least that is the sense I get from listening to the news media, and from watching what goes floating by in the badly polluted river that is my Facebook news feed. Most of that seems to me like meaningless noise that ingnores our real problems – it is like we are passengers on the Titanic right after it collides with an iceberg, and here we are, getting into fistfights about re-arranging the chairs on the top deck.

More powerlessness, more fragmentation, more meaningless noise. A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

So why bother studying astrology?…

Here is what I am discovering this year.

I am finding that, if we go back and dig into the philosophy and worldview that gave birth to astrology in the first place, we can find a way of thinking about that world that will restore meaning and wholeness to our lives, and that will heal the horrid splits and fragmentations of our modern materialistic world view.

This process takes a great deal of self-examination and self-awareness. We need to consider and make conscious the sorts of philosophical assumptions we are making today that got us into our current mess. We also need to re-think what sort of philosophy can give a sense of coherence and meaning.

I think that there is a living tradition of philosophy and spiritual practice in our own Western heritage that is deeply coherent, meaningful and satisfying, and that can answer these questions, that can give our lives coherence and meaning.

I think we can find that in our own Western esoteric tradition, which has its roots in the philosophy of Plato and the great Neo-Platonists. This year I am taking the time to explore Plato, the great Neoplatonists like Iamblichus and Proclus, and the great modern Platonists like Thomas Taylor. It is our own Western spiritual tradition, and astrology is a logical and necessary part of that worldview.

Can that tradition speak to us today, here in the 21st century? I am finding that it can. It feels like a home-coming, and the beginning of a rebirth.

I am exploring and re-thinking those roots this year, and I want to share what I am learning in the coming months in this blog.

Sound interesting? Stay tuned…


Return to the Source — 11 Comments

  1. I’m 60 next year Charlie so like you heading towards the final third! From personal experience I would say look at the message of Christ. Christ said (paraphrased) You can sum up the gospels in the 2 golden rule’s “Love your God will all your heart, mind and soul and the second rule is exactly like it Love your neighbourgh as yourself.” If you do those two things you are fulfilling your calling and following God. I would also mention that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is also available for all believers in Jesus. I’m not a philosopher Charlie but look at the writings of John Frawley the astrologer especially on spiritual subjects and philosophy. John is a Catholic like myself but you don’t need to follow any church to follow Christ. God Bless Steve

    • Steve,

      Thanks for your comment, and I am glad your path works for you.

      At one point I was very involved with the Church, and I have turned in different directions – bad experiences with the Church, and a very thorough acquaintance with the Bible, have turned me away from that path. I now find greater spiritual solace in Plato and the Neoplatonists than I do in Christ and in the Bible. That is the direction I feel guided.

  2. Hi Charlie,
    I think it was the philosopher in us that brought us to Astrology in the First Place. We started by ruling out all the possible answers and found Astrology answered many of those questions. I do think we are connected more spiritually as history shows us thru our religious routes. I am currently trying to process thru “A Jewish Astrology” by Yaakov Kronenberg and he explains how the Rabbis used the planet of the hour and day. How it came from their knowledge of the stars entered in the bible. I also came across an old book in our town library that I have ordered for myself, “Astrological Key to Biblical Symbolism” by McCaffery, Ellen Conroy. Since I have moved to a Neptune line, it explains my need for an in-touch religious vibe that I am connecting to. I look forward to the Philosophy, also Neptunian, that I struggled with in College with my Merc in Pisces. Perhaps in bite size pieces I can absorb.

    I have a question. It came to me after our class at Kepler that the Triplicity Ruler of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn had the Day Ruler as the Feminine Venus not a Masculine Planet. I believe it is due to Venus as a Morning Star at the time of year of these signs and she would then be a more masculine, Warrior Venus, known as Lucifer. Lilly does also call Venus in Taurus the night home of Venus, also confusing since he shows Ptolemy’s the Moon as the Night Ruler. Any clarification would be of help. Ideas or questions take a bit longer to rumple along like stones in the dryer. I also came across Lilly’s idea of Co-Significators for each house such as The First House, Aires as it is the First Sign in the Zodiac and Saturn as the other Co-Significator as it is the first Planet. Lilly also comments on different houses of joy, example: Sun has its Joy in the Ninth as it is God Related all in his description of the Houses. Again that religious Neptunian theme I am experiencing perked up. Ninth House for the Sun’s Joy, wait that is not right. It takes 3 or 4 readings before something different connects.

    I am sorry to hear you have been ill and are recovering quickly.

    • Joyce,

      Thanks for your comment.

      About the triplicity rulers for Earth – the Day rulers are, Venus, Moon, then Mars. The Night rulers are, Moon, Venus, then Mars. I think Moon is put first for Night since it is the most nocturnal of the planets, then Venus for the day because it is less so than the Moon. I don’t think gender factors into that.

  3. Charlie, I also had to face also the fact that I turned 60 recently, while being challenged by a very powerful Saturn Return and some very challenging living conditions. Although Saturn has almost run its course for me, I am very far off where I need/want to be. I do subscribe to your thoughts about philosophy and finding a way of thinking about that world that will restore meaning and wholeness to our lives. However, I do always take the awareness of the unique Self as a starting point. I am just re-reading ‘Disciples of the Mysterium, an inquiry into Selfhood’ and just before I read your posting I read this paragraph: “Yes Truth is subjective because each man can be certain only about himself rather than about the world and things in it. To put it another way; a man will be incapable of having certainty about reality until he possesses certainty about himself; and this certainty is available only by way of one’s own reason, not that of another human being, regardless of how intelligent and rational they may be”. It is the astrological knowledge that has helped me tremendously in lifting that veil that covers our authentic Self. With this in mind, I look forward what you are going to share with us in the coming months.

  4. Charlie, I too am re-visiting Plato. I was struck by a comment from one of the editors reminding us that there was a whole, active philosophical search for understanding long before the bible was written, and in fact, much of the underpinnings of most western religions came from the philosophers that preceded them. I sometimes have to remind myself that this search is timeless and limitless. Enjoy the ride!

  5. I’m sorry that the Bible and Christ did not work out for you. Without the Spirit of Christ and His presence then the Christian path is meaningless and just ritual. I also have had bad experiences in church, so I have much sympathy there for you.

    I was baptised in the Holy Spirit when I called out to God during a very dark period of my life. At the exact time I called out to Him ) I was filled from head to toe with what I can only describe as liquid love! It was not a subjective experience and for many, if not millions of Christian’s they have had the same experience also. But God does work in different ways with each one of us, He is always calling us to Himself. I do not believe you will find what you are looking for through astrology or any other means than Christ. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
    I know the message may be offensive to some and narrow to others……but I say the truth in love, not out of some bigoted religion. Forgive me for going on so much but it is such an important message. Blessings Steve

  6. Charlie-I am so glad that you are back-regardless of where your journey takes you. For what it is worth, I think that you are on to something in going back to the roots of astrology. I find that I am drawn to that as well and look forward to reading what you have to say. Take care-

  7. Cool, I too have a cancer decadent sun in pisces. How do you think the neptune in pisces transit will effect us, particularly the cancer decadent?

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