I’ve lately been feeling more dissatisfied than usual with the imaginary nature of the zodiac in modern astrology. The planets are in real places, and their relationships with each other are real, but the constellations that are supposed to be behind them and influencing them are not there. This is partly due to precession, but actually the neat 30 degree segments they were divided into several thousand years ago are also a fiction, because nature is never like that.
In a way western astrology is more straightforward than Vedic astrology in this respect. A western astrologer will tell you that the zodiac we use bears no relationship to the stars. I don’t want to put words in the mouth of a Vedic astrologer, but their astrology takes precession into account, so there seems to be more of a relationship with the stars, but actually the neat 30 degree fiction still remains.
This is not to say that western astrology doesn’t work, because it does, and it does so very well. But as an astrologer, what turns me on is my symbolic relationship to the sky, that is the foundation, that is what moves me, and that is what in large measure is not there. It’s like modern western astrology for me is part relationship to the sky and part tea-leaves.
I don’t need a scientific explanation of astrology, I don’t think there is one, it is not that sort of knowledge, and it’s a mug’s game to try and ‘prove’ astrology in scientific/statistical terms. But I do explain astrology to myself in terms of the multi-layered symbolic nature of reality, that if you know how to read them there are all sorts of omens in nature that can guide us. That for me is a satisfactory explanation, it’s part of the way things are and their interconnectedness.
But an astrology without a real relationship to the stars for me has no explanation, and I don’t get that visceral sense of looking at the sky and having a sense of the gods speaking to us, of human destiny unfolding.
So I’ve been having this notion that maybe I should take a look at Fixed Star astrology. The stars are called fixed because they stay in pretty much the same place, unlike the planets, which are ‘Wandering Stars’. Using the Fixed stars, you are not artificially confined to those stars which happen to lie along the ecliptic, the Sun’s path along the sky. Of course, you suddenly find yourself with thousands of them, but it seems to be the brightest that have the most significance, as you’d expect, and there are about 30 of them.
All these stars have their own ancient meanings behind them, which are not expressed in the sophisticated psychological terms which we modern astrologers have become used to. They are rawer and in a way more powerful. And they perform their own dances in the sky into which symbolism can be read: some of them are visible all the time at night, and some have periods in which they disappear below the horizon for months and then re-appear, enriched from their time in the Underworld; some have periods in which they either rise or set at night, and so have an ongoing interaction with human affairs. And so on.
In case I’m sounding like I know what I’m talking about, I don’t, I’m just looking into it. But that’s one of the nice things about the blogosphere, you can open your mouth without being an expert or having a certificate. And all my info is coming from Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars, by Bernadette Brady.
Anyway, one thing you can do is look at an individual planet’s relationships with the fixed stars on the day you were born. What is significant is if a particular planet was on an Angle at some point during the day at the same time as one of the Fixed Stars was on an Angle – any Angle. This is called a Paran relationship. The Angle the Fixed Star is on points to the period of your life when that Star will tend to be expressed. And the planet involved gives you the lens through which the Star expresses itself.
So here’s an example from the chart of everyone’s favourite Fascist, Adolf Hitler. He was born on 20 April 1889 at 17.37 in Braunau an Inn in Austria. He has Mercury in the 7th House at 26 Aries, but there would inevitably have been points during that day when Mercury was Rising, on the MC, on the DESC and on the Nadir. And the point at which Mercury was setting i.e. on the DESC –at 18.24 – the star Wega rose. So Mercury and Wega have a Paran relationship in Hitler’s Chart.
This is what Bernadette Brady has to say about it:
Wega is the magical, charismatic star and having it linked to Mercury implies either magical ideas or fantasies, as well as the ability to talk, to charm, to have charisma by the spoken or written word. This skill would have been with Hitler from his early childhood. He was therefore a naturally skilled, charismatic orator who had the potential of creating the magic of Orpheus’ music with his voice: hypnotic and entrancing. This is further emphasised by the star being in curtailed passage: the star has less contact with the Earth and is therefore more extreme or less easily modified by life’s experiences.
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