Saturday, November 10, 2012

Astrology: It's a Bunch of Stories

Ebenezer Sibly

The US Sibly chart, which is the one used by most astrologers, is not based on the actual time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Rather, it was generated by medieval methods using the preceding Aries and Cancer ingresses. Nick Campion, in his Book of World Horoscopes, describes this process, but only up to a point; it is not clear, for example, how the Asc ends up at 12 Sag.

So the Sibly Chart signifies the Declaration of Independence, rather than being a literal chart for it.

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But it still seems to work quite well as a chart for the USA. The event that made the Sibly Chart the most accepted one was 9/11, when Pluto and Saturn were lined up along the Sibly Asc/Desc respectively. It was spookily literal: Saturn in Gemini was the twin (Gemini) towers (Saturn), a statement of American achievement and pre-eminence (Saturn).  And Pluto in Sag was foreign (Sag) terror (Pluto).

I’d rather have seen Saturn transiting the Asc and Pluto the Desc myself, rather than the other way round, because it describes more clearly the attack on the USA (Asc) coming from abroad (Desc). And this would be the Gemini Rising Chart, which at 8 Degrees does not have the closeness of Saturn-Pluto at 9/11 as the Sibly Chart, but it’s good enough for me.

Be that as it may, charts work because they have a functional symbolic relationship with the person or entity concerned, not because they are based on an accurate time of birth. It’s like here are a set of stories that describe your nature and your past and your future. The job of the astrologer is to join with the ‘client’ to find and tell those stories.
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I think the reason a chart like the US Sibly works is because it was generated using a sensitivity to symbolism. But then, and this is a strange process, it’s like you become the chart and the chart becomes you over time. Through repeated readings and reflection, the set of stories in the chart and your life stories merge and illumine each other. That is why I think getting the time of birth ‘right’ isn’t necessarily such a big deal. I mean, if you have your chart ‘rectified’ because you are unsure of the birth time, all that the astrologer is doing is generating a chart that fits your life. I think it is nonsense to think that the astrologer has found your ‘actual’ birth time.

That is just another story, one of the stories, a powerful one, that astrology tells us. “This is how the heavens looked at the moment you were born.” Wow! That is a powerful story. As above, so below. The cosmos reflects our deeper nature at the moment we were born.

Well it does. I’m not trying to take that idea away for a moment, it is such a vital one. It’s true, it’s real, but it’s not literal. I mean, look at the chart itself, what a fiction it is! The signs divided neatly into 30 degrees each? And having slipped 23 degrees away since they were first generated? And the House systems, all those conflicting theories, you take your pick which one you want to use.

The fictional nature of much of astrology points to its real nature. We need to allow the fiction in rather than ignore it. It’s about stories that work. It can’t be any set of stories. Mysteriously, the set of stories around the time of birth tend to work, but that is because astrology has been designed that way.

Reality itself is a bunch of stories. 9/11 itself quickly became a set of different stories. Any attempt to pin anything down as literal actual truth can always be deconstructed. Scientific truth is no different. Look what happens when you really push science, it explodes into a counter-intuitive quantum reality, inhabited by a huge array of ephemeral particles that no-one will ever actually see. That is because the world 'out there' is a construction of our brains, both the 'out-there-ness' and the apparent material solidity. It's a hologram, a model, so if you push it too far, of course it breaks down. The best we can do is tell stories about it, stories that for some reason grip us, expand us, give meaning. There is a Reality, there really is, the universe really is meaningful, but we also have to deconstruct, dance lightly on, the dualistic, literal presentation that our minds construct.

The stories come from somewhere else, Neptune's mythopoeic ocean. And like all other aspects of reality, astrology is essentially another bunch of meaningful stories.

It’s right brain stuff, intuitive stuff. When you are doing astrology, if you feel that right brain connection, then it is working. The Sibly Chart works because a right brain connection, a felt connection to symbolism, was used in its creation.

One method of generating charts is to put the planet that rules the event on the Ascendant. This is how the US Gemini rising Chart came about: Uranus, the planet of revolution, was put near the Ascendant.

  Click to Enlarge

And you’ve immediately got the intuition involved here, you’ve got a planet rising that seems right, that tells a story. So of course the chart is going to work. There is no ‘scientific’ or rational reason why it should. It is the logic of intuition, which works completely differently. For a start, it is holistic, the part contains the whole. You get the right planet, the right story on the Asc, and the rest follows.

It might be worth experimenting with your own chart. What planet ruled your birth? Did you or your Mum nearly die? Maybe put Pluto on the Asc in that case. Keep the actual day the same in the process. Or was your birth long and difficult? Put Saturn there. Did you arrive suddenly, or was the pregnancy unplanned? Try Uranus. Was it a Caesarian? Mars. Was it a New Age water birth? Put Neptune there! And so on.

The crucial thing is that intuitive resonance, which is different to a good feeling. Intuition is a form of knowing rather than feeling. As Jung said, it’s a form of knowing that doesn’t come with evidence in the usual sense. It’s like when you see a bird of prey and you know it means something. Yesterday you might have seen it and it was just a bird of prey. But today you know it signifies something. You weren’t looking for omens, it just came at you. That’s intuition.

As an astrologer you can end up thinking everything is meaningful in that sense, because everything has a planetary correlate. Like every event is telling you something. But they don’t. The art is being able to tell which events are meaningful, and that’s intuition. And don’t go along with other people’s intuitions because they say them authoritatively. We all want to feel connected to some hidden dimension, it gives a sense of meaning. That’s why the 2012 Mayan thing is so popular. I think it’s nonsense.

The planets are a route into intuition, but they can become a hindrance if you don’t drop them once you get there and just home in on your experience and the other person’s. The charged heart of the story you’ve been circling around.

Christina (The Oxford Astrologer) had one of those moments looking at my chart yesterday. She was noting how both Saturn and Neptune are transiting both my Neptune-Node and Desc, and said she tends to think there’s something monkish about Saturn-Neptune. I said yes, Neptune is the inner experience, Saturn is the container. Then she said but you have that side, all those years in Buddhist communities when you were younger. It’s not all of you, or you’d still be there. But that side is coming back. And I thought wow, that’s a brilliant bit of analysis and intuition. A lot of confusing pieces suddenly fell into place. And no wonder I’m up in my yurt on my own every night, even in winter, luxuriating in the solitude and beauty of the place.

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Anonymous said...

Love the insigths you share with us!

LotusLady9 said...

Wow! Thank you again!

Kenna J said...

I think Sagittarius rising fits the my country, the USA, because of the difficulty it has understanding other points of view. Gemini rising would be a lot more interested in knowing what's important to other cultures of the world and varying cultures within the country. It's like we're all philosophy and pomp but little actual communication skill.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dharmarucci, thank you for your insights. It's amazing how I tend to do the same things you are describing, in the last weeks I have been experimenting with my sun on the ascendant and it gave me some very astonishing insights.
thank you again - please never stop writing about astrology.

Debbie Rutter said...

I don't know how you do all this - but I'm glad you do.