Monday, August 01, 2011

Astrology and Faith

A few weeks ago someone asked me if I had a faith and I was a bit stumped for an answer. I mumbled something about astrology and something about symbolic thinking, but I don’t think I made much sense. And then a couple of weeks ago I realised that when I die, I want a coin put in my mouth. I didn’t think it up, it came to me with a force. In ancient Greek and Roman times, a coin was often put into the mouth of a dead person so they could pay Charon the ferryman to take them over the river Styx into Pluto’s realm, the world of the dead.

As a modern astrologer, I am dealing with the Greek gods all the time. (Note classical astrology seems not to have been like this; the planets were not gods, but sets of principles. In this respect, I think modern astrology is a considerable improvement on the old.) These gods are what I ‘believe’ in. I didn’t choose them, they chose me, and they might seem a slightly ludicrous cosmology to hold to in 21st century Europe.

But nevertheless they are often present when I write, and who am I to judge the appropriateness of mythological powers? My astrological connection with the Greek gods helps me understand that something need not be literal to be real. When Pluto turns up, he is just as real as the desk in front of me. In some ways, he is more real, for he has a power and a presence that the desk does not.
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So going back to the question of faith, I don’t think I could say I have one, in the usual sense of a belief in the divine nature of some historical figure like Jesus or the Buddha that gives meaning to someone’s life. If anything is ludicrous, that is. How can we be sure of anything factual about these people, and why the big deal about someone who was around so long ago? Why are they so special compared to any number of people with good things to say, who are alive now? Jesus or Buddha as mythological figures with mythological power is another matter; I think people easily confuse these levels of reality, as we are trained to think that something is only real if it is literally true, in the sense of being external and concrete and material and provable as so.

But if you have the experience, like I do, of the reality of the Greek gods, who were never presented as fleshly, historical beings, then you are freed from the tyranny of religious faith in the sense described above. What gives life meaning is the sense of these presences working alongside you, without the need for a proven historical event to make them real.


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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You know, we really have no idea if the Greek gods were *never* present as fleshly beings. It's always possible that at least some of them were divinized humans; that's certainly been posited of other god traditions. And the Olympians were/are certainly *historical* beings, fleshly or not; their influence on history (and thus the present) is undeniable. Same with the denizens of Valhalla, et. al.

As a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, I experience his presence in much the same way you describe Pluto's--he's no less real, present and powerful for having been historical, and not simply because of his words but his deeds as well.

But then astrology, for me, is not a faith but a very useful technology--a kind of Cosmic Weather Channel, if you will. TWC tells me when to board up my windows or head for the basement; a transit report does much the same thing, while a natal chart tells me how I'm likely to interact with my life's "climate." As with meteorology, the accuracy is in the interpretation.

Your mileage, of course, may vary!

Sara said...

I think my concept of faith is that the energy from everything we do goes out into the universe and comes back to us, nine times over. Is that the precept of karmic law? I have seen so many strange things happen to people, and to me, things which have no accounting in logic, that I find it difficult to believe there is NOT a power in the universe. It's as generous with "reward" as it is with "punishment". I just refer to that power as the Universe, for want of a better name. Not going to sacrifice a goat cheese to it, but it does make me feel more aware of small signs, things that will warn you of something ahead of time, if you care to pay attention.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anomynous. I've heard more than one person make fun of people who listen for the "voice" of God, then go on and on about one of the goddesses and the havoc she is creating. The Holy Spirit never lets me down. Ask and you shall receive.

merlene said...

Before my introduction to astrology in the early eighties, i was always curious as to why we make the choices that we make.
Reading 'Dynamics of the Unconscious' by Liz Greene & Howard Sasportas, was like discovering another language? The depth and breathe of this book had me hooked, so i went on to read the Astrology of Fate, using roman and greek mythology to show us what pluto, uranus and neptune require of us?
The darkness of pluto and why it is so, the divine spark of uranus and the transcendent energy of neptune. All symbolic and necessary at the same time.
Christianity is patriarchal saturn. Saturn is form, authority.
Pluto is born of nature and necessity and plutonian transits and aspects strip us of all that is dross and dead, though we never see it that way in the midst of a pluto transit.
Faith i would associate with Sagittarius, Jupiter.
What religion are you?
What is your faith?

Wizron said...

Faith is faith. I have faith. But you don't have to believe in Jesus Christ to have faith. And if you ask, you shall receive - this is true, and I have proven it for myself. But you don't have to specifically believe in the Holy Spirit for this to happen, because it is a Universal law that can be accessed by anyone.

Personally, I believe that people like Jesus and Buddha and so on were people of exceptional intelligence and awareness, and this is why they are revered by many people - because they showed the way and lit up the path for the rest of humanity.

Saturn represents Christianity - interesting theory.
When Neptune was discovered in 1846, it was discovered in conjunction to Saturn. Perhaps this explains the steady dissolving of the structure of Christianity, and the churches emptying, as if the tide has gone out :-)

merlene said...

And who are the people that have 'faith'?
I think the people that have 'faith' are people with access to some fire in their chart?
Because there are some people who do not have faith because they need to see to believe. Pedantic types?

Anonymous said...

"...a couple of weeks ago I realised that when I die, I want a coin put in my mouth. I didn’t think it up, it came to me with a force. In ancient Greek and Roman times, a coin was often put into the mouth of a dead person so they could pay Charon the ferryman to take them over the river Styx into Pluto’s realm, the world of the dead."
Do you think this desire could be a memory of a past life?

Anonymous said...

Like the poem; Footprints in the Sand, I had believed God carried me through the many difficult years in my life. I now see that a strong faith is whats carried me through. Catholic religion brainwashed me as a child. I propped up the huge sacrifices I made in life to my religion and by giving whole-heartedly it was a recipe for disaster. I do believe in God but at the same time I live with an ungodly amount of pain. They say God won't give you more then you can handle? So I see a problem here, who or what keeps holding me back? It feels EVIL! Jenni-OMG