Was it a cat I saw?
“What, “ he said, “is unique about that sentence?”
Mind you, this has nothing to do with work or work product, but knowing him, he had already cracked the code and wanted to see my response. In jest and in my usual cocky Aquarian manner one day I had fatefully announced that I was smarter than him. He has never let me forget it.
I looked at it for maybe thirty seconds.
“It is the same letters forward and back.” In other words it was a palindrome.
“Very good,” he said. “it takes people with a genius level IQ longer than that to figure it out.”
Now I’m no genius. I know exactly where I test out in standard IQ tests. But I am one thing that my boss is not. I am an astrologer.
Beginning astrologers learn the zodiac signs, the planets and aspects by rote. We have a fairly standard set of meanings for all these things. To get to the next level, interpretation, things get a little trickier. Some people never get past the “cookbook” learning phase, and forever are looking up the meaning of each little piece of the puzzle, not able to put it together.
To get to the next stage, synthesis, requires that an astrologer engages their pattern recognition skills.
Humans evolved brains that are pattern-recognition machines, adept at detecting signals that enhance or threaten survival amid a very noisy world. This capability is association learning–associating the causal connections between A and B–as when our ancestors associated the seasons with the migration of game animals. We are skilled enough at it to have survived and passed on the genes for the capacity of association learning.
With an ever-shifting sky above us, astrologers who are adept at extracting and synthesizing meaning from astrology charts have the ability to match patterns from material previously learned. Thus, for example, when one is presented with a natal and a transit chart showing that transiting Uranus is conjunct natal Venus we realize that this transit is similar in meaning with an individual who has this combination in their natal chart. They have a need to do things differently. With a transit with Uranus conjunct their Venus there suddenly is a need to do things, you guessed it differently.
Astrologers do this all the time, and the good ones get it right. So it wasn’t genius that helped me solve the sentence puzzle, it was my training as an astrologer.
“How long did it take you?” I asked him.
“About two minutes,” he said. “But you are smarter than me.”
Photo published under a Creative Commons License as posted on Flickr.