The Shattered World
One of the
challenges for astrology is to find a meaningful place in our modern world.
In this so-called scientific society of ours, astrology often looks like
a rube, an ignorant fool left over from some bygone era. Astrology may
seem quaint as it attempts to describe reality through a low-tech lens
that has been surpassed by the scientific discoveries of the past 500
years. Our Ptolemeic Earth-centered view of the universe is seen as naive
at its best and downright charlatanism at its worst. But, once we step
back from the dogma of modern science we can rediscover astrology's truths-truths
that are essential to the healing of our shattered world.
"shattered world" may seem melodramatic, but what else can we
say about our civilization? We have broken with nature, we have synthesized
and automated, sped up and electrified ourselves out of contact with the
planet on which we live. It is not simply our technology that has contributed
to this, but the underlying philosophy of science that has wrenched us
out of our senses into a reality far different from our direct experiences.
In the book
Mystical Astrology According to Ibn 'Arabi, the author,
Titus Burckhardt, points out the high price we have paid for Copernicus'
heliocentric revolution. By placing the Sun in the center of the solar
system, where none of us lives, our very sense of reality has been dealt
a damaging blow. We are taught that what each of us experiences daily
is not true. We are told that we are not the center of the solar system,
but simply the inhabitants of a relatively small and unimportant planet.
A result of this statement is that we have become alienated from our senses.
We see the Sun move through the Zodiac each year, we feel ourselves to
be on a solid, stationary planet, but that is not the truth. Science conflicts
with experience and we pay dearly for this. We become alienated from our
senses, which we can no longer trust, and we are distanced from our bodies
as they become unreliable sources of information. It is this disassociation
(or cognitive dissonance in psychological terms) that is crazy-making.
No wonder we are destroying species and landscape at an extraordinary
rate. No wonder we use our technological riches to push us to work harder
and harder with less and less satisfaction. There can be no sanity when
our senses lie to us.
Our Senses Deceive Us?
we see the Sun, Moon and planets rise in the east and set in the west,
but we've learned that this is not the truth. The truth is that the Earth is rotating on its axis, creating the illusion of rising and setting bodies.
Once again, science shows us an objective truth that goes against the
grain of our own observations. These scientific truths are very useful
for understanding our universe, but we as individuals, and humanity as
a whole, are left with less power. Power comes from trusting ourselves,
from having a grip on reality and being able to move through different
layers of experience with confidence in our sensory equipment. When truth
comes from external authorities, scientific or otherwise, and does not
coincide with our internal experience, we lose power in our lives.
then, is a means by which we can reclaim our power. It is a system that
reflects the reality of our direct experiences. It tells us that our senses
are not damaged and that there is order in the universe that corresponds
with an order in us. It is a human science, one that places us squarely
in the middle of our lives and reestablishing the sense of belonging,
which is essential to our mental health. The vast, unknown cosmos is brought
into order, the Earth having its proper place in the center. This is what
healing is all about.
the power of subjective human experience from objective scientism will
promote a return to balance. Astrology is not some silly old thing, a
superstition or pseudo-science, but a real science of human experience.
Its symbols leave room for the vagaries of human behavior, that which
can never be reduced to simple and absolute formulae. This very humanness
of astrology threatens the bloodless, soulless order so treasured by conventional
science. If astrology is true, then no experiment can ever be perfectly
replicated because the skies are always changing. Such a dynamic universe
does not easily fit into today's scientific order. The very notion of
cycles is something so basic to human experience, but not part of general
here is not to make a devil out of science, but simply to remind us that
astrology stands on its own merits, and that trying too hard to fit it
into the present scientific model is not necessarily a great idea. It
is not astrology that has to change to fit into the modern world, but
rather the modern world that can benefit by including astrological ideas
in its reality. Returning us to the center of our universe brings cohesiveness
to the psyche, soothes the soul, and produces an order of a higher kind.
Alienated humans, like miscalibrated instruments, will make distorted
measurements. Alignment of the inner and outer selves, the objective and
subjective, is not only possible, but is necessary for our evolution and
survival. If you think it contradictory to include two such different
perspectives, I'll remind you of what the great poet Walt Whitman once
said: "Contradict myself, of course I do. I contain multitudes."
Whitman was a Gemini.
was first published in the July 1995 issue of The