Astrology and the Skeptics: The Evidence of Things Unseen

(Astrology Explored) My friend Matthew Currie recently challenged the good people at the James Randi Educational Foundation to provide citations for their claims in their instructional booklet “Astrology: Science or Superstition”. In support of Matthew’s challenge I’m presenting the comment that turned into an email exchange between me and one skeptic on the subject of astrology for your consideration.

The skeptic, Shawn, starts off in a comment to one of my blog posts:

I read the article you directed me to. Honestly, I found it confusing. Let’s go back to the beginning. My birthday is July 17th. Please tell me my sign and please tell me why (astronomically) that is my sign.
Thank you,
 Shawn

You wrote, “The sun was 24 Degrees 28 Seconds of the tropical zodiac sign Cancer
on July 17, 1978.”

Great- that’s what I thought. My question was: how is my sign determined? The
answer is: on my birthday, the sun was “in” the constellation Cancer. Yes?

My Answer:

No.

The Sun on the date given, July 17, 1978 was in in the area that we call Cancer in the tropical zodiac.

For those that still aren’t clear what the tropical zodiac is based on, we start the tropical zodiac on the Vernal Equinox, most commonly called the first day of spring. The sun advances roughly one degree per day. Therefore, degrees 1 to 30 is called Aries, 31 to 60, Taurus, 61 to 90 Gemini91 t0 120, Cancer and so on. Continue reading

Dreams, Archetypes and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

(Astrology Explored) Last night I had an experience that was similar to Carl Jung’s exploration of archetypes.

Though academe and the psychological community rarely speak of it, Carl was very into the metaphysical arts, though he was careful to talk about it as “research”. Research, hah! Here was a guy who initiated séances, felt his house at times was crowed with spirits and held conversations with entities that he channeled. One entity he named Philemon, which he labeled as his animus. Archetypes, rather than being theoretical constructs, for Jung were as real as you and me.

Back to last’s night’s experience. I decided to do an extensive unguided meditation. I spend at least an hour suspended between the waking and sleeping world, relaxing my body and experiencing free floating images produced by my minds eye. In a state of peace and calm, I ended my meditation and went to sleep.

My dream started with me in what I recognized as an area of a “high school” where there were black folding chairs lined up in rows. There were a couple of others there beside myself, one person who was “chasing” me and another person with who I was conversing. I was not alarmed about the person chasing me since I was aware that I was dreaming and I could change the outcome of the dream any time I chose. There were a group of people following me, since I was leading them, but I didn’t take much notice of thesm. What is interesting is not the dream itself, but that during the dream I became aware of the dream as the top layer in the structure of the dream itself. Supporting the dream was a foundation of images that I immediately identified as archetypes, symbols that stretched universally through the psyche of man.

I examined a box of these images that looked to me as cats and mice as furry little stuffed animals. These images were supposed to be all the people at the high school about which I was dreaming. As I picked one up thinking it was a cat, but it turned out to be a mouse. I then realized that all the images in the box were mice, not a single one a cat.

Well, shades of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”! In “Hitchhiker” mice were an alien race performing an experiment. Wikipedia explains it:

. . . the Earth was actually a supercomputer commissioned and paid for by a race of “hyper-intelligent,” “pan-dimensional” beings. These creatures had earlier built a supercomputer called Deep Thought to calculate the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. This computer, after seven and a half million years of calculation, had announced that the Answer is in fact 42. Being unsatisfied with the Answer, they set about finding the Question which would give the Answer meaning, whereupon Deep Thought designed the Earth, to calculate it. However, ten million years later, and just five minutes before the completion of the program Earth was designed to execute, the Earth is demolished by the Vogons. [to create a hyperspace bypass].

Are the mice are our frustrated desires to uncover the “meaning of life” and the “answer to everything”? This certainly is an apt description of the quest of the human soul.

As Jung said:

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Image published under a Creative Commons license from user alicepopkorn on Flickr.

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

Thrifty Brains and Predictive Astrology

(Astrology Explored) What does the art of prediction and solving a daughter’s wardrobe crisis share in common?

My college age daughter came into my room with a belt.

“Can you fix this, mom?”

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t get the buckle to hook into the belt”

In other words the prong (some people call it the post) was not in the right place. Or was it?

I examined it for a few seconds and considered the options. To get the prong in position to slide into the holes in the belt I’d have to bend it so it would slip into the correct position on the other side of the frame of the buckle. But how did it get in the wrong position in the first place? Both the prong and the frame were sturdy and not amenable to bending. Something was wrong with this picture. I then looked at the belt and realized all I had to do was to turn the belt back through frame of the buckle and all was in the right place.

“Is this how it is supposed to look?”

The daughter looked at me as if I was some sort of magician. Continue reading