#Astrology Pro Tip: There Is No Thirteenth Zodiac Sign

Sidney_Hall_-_Urania's_Mirror_-_Taurus_Poniatowski,_Serpentarius,_Scutum_Sobiesky,_and_Serpens(Astrology Explored) Oh, god. What do we have to do to get it through peoples heads? I opened my Quora feed this morning to find this:

Now that NASA has re-arranged the zodiac signs, should I go by the ancient Babylonian way or the NASA way? I’m either Gemini or Taurus.

Of course, I answered. And here it is.

NASA has not rearranged the zodiac signs.

They tell you so themselves.

No, what NASA was attempting to do, through a children’s page, (updated January 2016) was to discredit astrology by saying that once upon the time, the Babylonians knew there were thirteen constellations in the zodiac but since it didn’t fit in with their astrology ignored it proving astrology is not a science, is nonsense and should be thoroughly ignored by anyone with a lick a sense.

Which only shows you that NASA should stick to what they know because the Babylonians, whose civilization started about 18th century BCE, (according to astrology antagonistic Wikipedia,) identified 17 to 18 constellations in their zodiac. Continue reading

The #Astrology of the Solar System: Astronomers Go Too Far

Solar system to be named after Lord of the Rings characters

Planets Named After LOTR?

(Astrology Explored) It was bad enough the International Astronomy Union, upon the discovery of Sedna, went a little crazy and started reclassifying planets. Saying that size does matter, Pluto, the master of domination and control was reclassified a “dwarf planet.” Way to emasculate the lord of hell, IAU. Bad enough that the IAU cast out the perfectly lovely name of Xena and stuck that planet with the sucky name and mythology of Sedna. Now the CBBC (a division of the BBC) floated the information that astronomers are going to rename all the planets in the solar system after the characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Continue reading

Astrology and Science: Is Astrology Scientifically Valid?

Newtown's Apple

Newton’s Apple

(Astrology Explored) I’ll answer questions on Quora; Not every astrology question, but ones that catch my eye. And this morning this one showed up in my email:

Is astrology backed by any scientific facts or are horoscopes basically “random” generic phrases?

Oh geez. But I had to answer it anyway. And here is my answer:

The answer to your question about whether or not astrology is backed by scientific fact is more complex than it appears on the surface. I’d like to discuss here general assumptions about what make up scientific fact and how astrology fits into the scheme of that. But first I’ll answer the question “Are horoscopes random generic phrases?”

I’m assuming that what you mean by horoscopes are the type of horoscopes seen in the newspapers. Your question seems to touch on the validity of this type of astrology, called sun sign astrology. Sun sign astrology is based on the position of the sun at the time your birth. Since that kind of astrology is only based on one astrological point of discussion, yes, it is a very general type of astrology. It is not generic, because what happens to a Gemini, (or how that Gemini perceives what happens) is not the same as how a sun sign Scorpio will perceive what happens. But it is by no means specific to an individual because all the planets in the solar system have something to say about the life of an individual. However, skeptics use the generalness of sun sign astrology as “proof” of the invalidity of all astrology. It is like saying there is only one shade of blue when there are many, many more.  Continue reading

The Astrology of Neptune and Jupiter: Social Perceptions and Personal Addictions

View of Neptune via Triton (Astrology Explored) Bonnie (not her real name) comes to me with a problem. She and her boyfriend ended their relationship six months prior, but she finds her grief at the ending of the relationship has not subsided. Her friends, in fact, have grown tired of listening to her go on about the situation and suggested many times that she move on. The question she wants answered is, “Will we ever get back together?” This is her secret hope and her fervent prayer. After looking to see if such a thing is possible, and seeing that it is less likely than she thought, the challenge becomes helping Bonnie accept a new future. The reason that this is so very difficult is because of how the brain works.

In the middle part of the last century psychologists and psychiatrists held the view that a mentally healthy person had a reasonably good grasp on reality. A mentally healthy person’s perceptions about the world around him or her would align with how things “were.” Then in the 1980’s new research on social perception found out that this wasn’t the case at all. They found that our perceptions are based on “incomplete data gathering, shortcuts, errors and biases.” These errors in perception are called illusions(Taylor and Brown, 1988). These illusions promote three different perceptions that are out of synch with objective reality. The first is that we, all of us, have unrealistically positive views of ourselves. In other words we think we are better people than we are.The second is that we have exaggerated perceptions of personal control, that we direct and control the world around us to a greater degree than is actually true.The third perception we carry is an unrealistic optimism, especially for the future. We believe the future will bring better things and opportunities will get better, despite objective reality. However, far from the negative connotation of the word in general usage, illusions serve a useful and highly adaptive function.They help us navigate reality by shielding us from reality’s most damaging effects.This led to one researcher Robert Rosenthal to declare that “perception is reality.” Interestingly enough, researchers found that the people whose internal reality matches objective reality suffer from depression. In other words, most of us, except the depressed (ruled by Saturn) have fallen off the reality train a long time ago.

The keywords in what is described above are illusion and optimism which are tied into a single psychological process. For an astrologer, illusion and optimism are two different processes, the first being tied to Neptune, the second to Jupiter. But even in our own tradition, Jupiter and Neptune are bound together in a cyclic process described by Dane Rudhyar.In a 166 cycle of conjunctions, with Jupiter moving forward to the next zodiac sign signifying social evolution. Rudhyar says:

Jupiter deals particularly with social-cultural-religious feelings and the expansion that comes to the individual who operates warmly in terms of these feelings, reciprocated (usually) by others, either emotionally (happiness) or in terms of concrete values (wealth)

While Neptune:

is, thus, related to everything that is vast, immeasurable, indefinite, universalistic, but also loose, unfocused, misty, glamorous, unreal, escapist.

Under the dictum, “as above, so below” inherent in us, reflected in the presence of Jupiter and Neptune in the macrocosm, we all have the ability to make our own reality. We frequently do.

The evidence then suggests that we process our perceptions as we see fit and normally this works well. However, when it come to processing a situation where loss is profound and does not resolve itself under the normal grieving process, the situation gets very interesting. The lover (what psychologists call the secure attachment) is gone, but the feelings remains with nothing to anchor to in objective reality. What is left is the shadow side of Jupiter and Neptune. The shadow side of Jupiter is overindulgence; of Neptune delusion. The combination of overindulgence and delusion becomes no less than an addiction.

So it is we see people like Bonnie, asking us if we see any hope for their relationship as desperate as anyone on crack.

Of course, our job as astrologers is not to provide therapy but clarity. In gently defining the problem for the client and sending them to someone who can help them, we do the best thing we can. Hopefully they can release their addiction and come back into the light of the normal process of dismissing reality.


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Astrology and Carl Jung: Part 2 Jung’s Childhood

Note: As my Facebook friends know I have reentered college to finish up my degree in psychology. As part of one class I am writing a paper on the influence of astrology on Carl Jung. Jung is widely embraced in the astrological world because his theories on archetypes, which he used to create a therapeutic model, fits neatly with the symbolic language of astrology. What follows here is the rough draft of this paper presented in parts. Your comments are appreciated. Citations and references are in APA style.

Most biographies such as Claire Dunne’s (2012) do not fully recognize the influence of the paranormal on Jung’s childhood. The first surviving child of five children, the son of parson, he grew up in poverty. Jung’s grandfather was a well-known and successful physician, his mother’s family socially prominent. Though Jung recounts early dreams and recollections of his childhood in his autobiography few biographies recount the roadmap that led Jung into a career that explored the inner world of the human psyche.

The fact is that Jung’s childhood was truly terrifying. There was a perpetual, unnamed strain between his parents. At the age of three he became ill prompting a separation of his parents. His mother went away to a hospital for several months, which disturbed Jung greatly. He developed a deep distrust his mother and admits thereafter of having a distrust of all women. While he trusted his father, he viewed his father as powerless.(Jung 1989)

But there was more amiss in the Jung household than parents in discord. As a parson’s son, he was surrounded by the religiously devout on one hand and the paranormal proclivities of his mother’s side of the family on the other.

Jung recounts his impressions of the funerals over which his father presided. He witnessed time and again men in tall black hats and funerary dress lowering boxes into the ground. People he knew were suddenly not around anymore. He was told that the Lord Jesus was taking the deceased “unto himself”. (Jung 1989) Far from being a comforting figure, for Jung the Lord Jesus became associated with the primal image of being buried in the ground, a figure of death.

If that wasn’t enough to scar a child’s psyche, Jung was steeped by culture in general and by his mother’s family in particular in paranormal experiences. Stories of the unexplained, dreams that foretold the death of a person, clocks that stopped suddenly at their owner’s death, the shattering of glass at the moment punctuated his childhood. His maternal grandfather believed himself to be surrounded by ghosts and held regular conversations with his deceased first wife. His second wife, Jung’s maternal grandmother, was considered clairvoyant. His mother kept a regular diary of her “strange occurrences.” (Main 1997)

In this rarified atmosphere, Jung experienced troubling paranormal events himself. At the age of seven or eight, when his parents were sleeping apart, he witnessed a terrifying apparition of a detached head with its body following that emanated from his mother’s bedroom. His dreams were vivid and frightening featuring underground rooms, phallic symbols and his mother’s voice. In his mind his mother while perfectly normal during the day became a scary preternatural figure at night. (Jung 1989)

Further complicating his relationship with his mother, she treated him as a “little adult”, a confidant with who she would share her secrets. On the other hand, during periods of when his parents did not sleep together, he shared a bedroom with his father. (Dunne 2012)

Tying together the threads of the narrative of Jung’s life we find a childhood that was an emotional minefield. Parental conflict, religion and the occult were overwhelming forces that confused and perplexed his developing psyche. As we will see Jung begged for a rational explanation of the disturbances in his life. He would spend his lifetime seeking these answers in the realm of psychiatry.

Part One–The Influence of Astrology on Carl Jung

References:

Dunne, C. (2012). Carl Jung wounded healer of the soul. London, UK: Watkins Publishing.

Jung, C G (1989) Memories, dreams,reflections Chapters 1 & 2, trans. Richard and Clara Winston Random House, New York, NY

The Influence of Astrology on Carl Jung, Part 1

Note: As my Facebook friends know I have reentered college to finish up my degree in psychology. As part of one class I am writing a paper on the influence of astrology on Carl Jung. Jung is widely embraced in the astrological world because his theories on archetypes, which he used to create a therapeutic model, fits neatly with the symbolic language of astrology. What follows here is the rough draft of this paper presented in parts. Your comments are appreciated. Citations and references are in APA style, which according to my sociology teacher, I’m not so good at.

Introduction

“Jung asked himself, ‘What is the myth you are living?’ and found he did not know.” (Campbell, 1971 pg xxi).

Jung’s work focused on untangling the strands of myth and symbols as the means to understand the human psyche. His search to understand the unconscious mind took him through the mythologies and mystic practices of the world. He developed over the course of his career theories on the importance and interpretations s of dreams, symbolism, the collective unconscious, archetypes and personality types. Nearer to the end of his career he developed the theory of synchronicity, the theory that two events could be related in meaning though there might not be a causal relationship between the two. This last theory was directed mostly at astrology, which he found useful, especially in diagnosing difficult cases. The scientific community considered astrology as superstitious, unsupported by any natural mechanism. Synchronicity threw out the need for a direct causal relationship while upholding the symbolism of his archetypal universe.

The antipathy for the metaphysical roots of Jung’s work runs deep in academe as evidenced in this paragraph:

“Even so, it is not necessary to have a grounding in analytical psychology for us form a judgement as to the probity of Jung’s proposals. Jung’s concepts of the archetypes and the collective unconscious serve as the basis of a theory about the relation of the unconscious to the conscious mind and for the development of the latter out of the former. This is an empirical, not a metaphysical theory “ (Lawson, 2008)

Astrology suffered a decline in reputation and practice in the 15th and 16th centuries not because as Scofield (2010) argues it was disproved by emerging science. It was not. Sweeping social, religious and political change brought people into power whose reputations were built on science and the scientific method. They had a vested interest in retaining their positions. Astrology, carrying a five thousand year history and the stain of ancient misperception of natural forces, was easy dog to kick to prove the “superiority” of the scientific method. From that time forward anyone that claimed the title of scientist or researcher who dared “to be associated publicly with astrology, which implied political recklessness, enthusiasm and the vulgar classes, was to ask to be tainted.”(Scofield, 2010)

Anxious to quell any potential professional backlash Jung assured the influential Freud: “”Please don’t worry about my wanderings in these infinitudes. I shall return laden with rich booty for our knowledge of the human psyche….”

But the Swiss psychologist, as we will see, did more than wander in search of tidbits to add to the understanding of the human psyche. In astrology, Jung found a framework on which to peg all his future theories. To understand why he found astrology so useful we first need to examine his childhood.

To read more click on this link Astrology and Carl Jung: Part 2 Jung’s Childhood

Photo published under Public Domain as explained in Wikimedia.

References:

Campbell, J (ed) (1971) The portable jung, pg xxi, Viking Penquin Inc. New York, New York

Lawson, Thomas T. Carl Jung, Darwin of the mind.
London, GBR: Karnac Books, 2008. p 20, retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/cosc/Doc?id=10428121&ppg=20

Scofield, Bruce, (2010) A history and test of planetary weather forecasting Open Access Dissertations. Paper 221. http://scholarworks.umass.edu/open_access_dissertations/221

Astrology and the Apocalypse: Did the Maya Really Predict the End of the World?

(Astrology Explored) A recent TD Ameritrade commercials shows a wheels within wheels graphic representative of the Mayan calendar with the following ominious voice over:

“If you believe the Mayan calendar on December 21 polar shifts will reverse the earth’s gravitational field and will hurdle us all into space . . .”

Did the Maya really predict the world will end on December 21, 2012? There is a whole lot of people who would like to tell you so, and this astrologer personally knows of some people who seriously expect the world to end, to the point of taking an early retirement and putting their affairs in order. Continue reading

Astrology and Science: Scientific Determinism’s Dangerous Ground

(Astrology Explored) Since the Age of Reason, rationalists like the Humanists have claimed that Astrology is superstition, the fluff and nonsense of irrational minds. Yet the closer we get to nailing down the nature of the Universe, the harder it is for those opposed to astrology to claim a scientific basis for their view.

This astrologer is reading Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design, a slim yet meaty volume that lays out the thesis (spoiler alert) that M-Theory is the only candidate for a complete theory of the Universe.

Two important theoretical concepts combine to form the nucleus of M-theory.

The first is Supersymmetry (1), a theory that attempts to corral the seemingly erratic motions or “spin” of the subatomic particles known as quarks into predictable models of interaction. There is no direct evidence for Supersymmetry, but the existence of Supersymmetry is suggested by the theory of “Supergravity”.

What fuels the idea of Supersymmetry is the work of Richard Feynman. He pioneered work in quantum mechanics that theorized that the interaction of electrons and photons sends electrons forward and back again in time putting the electrons in two places at once.

The next concept, supergravity, is described in Wikipedia as “field theory that combines the principles of supersymmetry and general relativity.” (2)

M-Theory postulates there are eleven dimensions tied together by “supergravity interacting with 2- and 5-dimensional membranes.” (3). As such it is an extension of “string theory”. Wikipedia tells us about string theory (4):

String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything (TOE), a self-contained mathematical model that describes all fundamental forces and forms of matter.

If all that is too much to digest with your morning latte, just note that physicists are on the trail of a theory that describes a Universe that is in essence a self-sustaining and self-interacting perpetual motion machine. It exists because the forces of nature can’t help but to exist. God need not apply.

This idea is just fine by Hawking, who seems to take comfort in Scientific Determinism (5).

Given the state of the universe at one time, a complete set of laws fully determines both the future and the past. This would exclude the possibility of miracles or an active role for God. . . It is, in fact, the basis of all modern science, and a principle that is important throughout this book. A scientific law is not a scientific law if it holds only when some supernatural being decides not to intervene.

.
By extension, free will, appears to exist only because the mathematic calculations it would take to determine what action a person ultimately takes is too complex for the human mind to grasp. (6) The human brain works by “effective theory” (7).

In physics, effective theory is a framework created to model certain observed phenomena without describing in detail all the underlying processes.

.
In other words, the human brain is prediction machine.

So even if the human can’t make the calculations to parse the interactions of subatomic particles we are only acting in accordance with the motion of these subatomic particles. And according the work of Richard Feynman these complex interactions can tie dissimilar events together. With this observation it is scientifically possible for a planetary astrological event to concur with an event in a human life.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time humans thought about the Universe in this way. This theoretical model coincides with the ancient Hermetic axiom “As above, so below”. Jung, independent of physics, coined the term “synchronicity” to describe how two disparate events non-the-less appear to relate to each other in a meaningful way (8).

So if M-theory is the Theory of Everything it provides problems to rationalists. The closer you get to nailing DOWN how the Universe works, Scientific Determinism treads the dangerous ground of confirming that Astrology has a scientific basis after all.

___________________________

References

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supersymmetry
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supergravity
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-theory
(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory
(5) Hawking, The Grand Design, pg. 30
(6) Hawking, The Grand Design, pg. 32
(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effective_theory
(8) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity
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Photo titled “Fairy Holding Superstring Model of the Multiverse” created from elements from Creative Commons licensed pieces from Flickr, Wikipedia and public information from NASA’s Photojournal. As such you are free to display the work without alteration with appropriate attribution to this page.

If you would like a single question answered on these pages, please send your birth date, birth place and birth time to starrynightastro@aol.com. Sorry, time limitations prevent answers to anything else than a specific question.


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