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Science and Astrology: Two Blind Men Groping the Cosmic Elephant

May 10, 2011

By Robert Gover   

I view the difference between the scientific and astrological perceptions of the cosmos as akin to the proverbial blind men groping the elephant, each describing what he’d found and hotly arguing with others who are describing different parts of the same elephant.

This gives me a pinch of sympathy for the likes of scientist Richard Dawkins who debunk astrology as primitive superstition and utter nonsense because it does not agree with the part of the cosmic elephant science has hold of.

But what Dawkins and other debunkers usually mean by “astrology” are those sun sign blubs in newspapers. Most astrologers agree that sun sign astrology is ridiculous. What sign or constellation the sun was in when you were born is but one aspect of a full astrological reading. And many, if not most sun sign blurbs are conjured by supposing everyone born with the sun in a given sign took their first breath as the sun was peeking over the horizon at 0 degrees of that sign—a ridiculous assumption.

In this regard, debunkers of astrology are like a flock of crows perched on a telephone line, eyeing a field of corn that is “guarded” by a bunch of straw propped up by a stick and dressed to appear as a human. Their angry chatter is about a scarecrow version of astrology.

Precession Is Old News, Astrologers Say

Then there are the debunkers who proclaim that modern Western astrologers are wrong because of the procession of the equinoxes. The precession means that our map of the zodiac changes by one degree every 71.6 years. This in turn means that everyone’s sun sign is really regressed by 24 degrees after 2,000 years. Those born with, say, Sun in Sagittarius really have Sun in the previous sign, Scorpio. Scorpios are really Libras, and so forth around the zodiac.

But astrologers have been keenly aware of the precession for the past 2,000 years or more. Mayan mathematicians calculated it with much more precision than any others, and ancient Hindu Vedic astrologers have based their charts on it for centuries.

And there is more to the precession than the apparent backward movement of the constellations and/or signs of the zodiac that appear to surround our solar system. The telescopes of modern astronomy have taken us into the vastness beyond and shown us a fury of cosmic activity.

“Our Milky Way Galaxy has two distinct parts in its outer reaches that rotate in opposite directions, astronomers announced today (Oct. 15, 2010). The galaxy has a bulbous core where stars are tightly packed and orbiting rather furiously around the central black hole. Then there’s the big flat disk with its spiral arms, also orbiting the galactic center somewhat in the manner of a hurricane’s spiral bands. We live on one of those arms. Around it all is a halo of stars that don’t all behave in such an orderly fashion.”

The astrological signs map “neighborhoods” in the cosmos. These extend so far beyond our solar system that it is hard to imagine. Used as geocentric maps, and taking into consideration the mysterious goings-on in galaxies so distant we have yet to find them, the ancient astrological signs continue to serve their purpose. This is especially so when we keep the focus on what’s happening within our own tiny solar system.

Western astrology is sometimes called “seasonal” for it calculates based on the four seasons, the two equinoxes and the two solstices. If we calculate according to the precession, a couple of thousand of years from now the spring equinox will occur in the middle of winter. But when the sun reaches the spring equinox degree in Aries each year, it’s the end of winter that we experience. So it’s really a question of which perspective we choose. We can calculate our position according to the precession of the equinoxes, or we can calculate it according to the seasons of the year as we experience them.

Pluto A “Dwarf” in Name Only

Debunkers also denigrate astrology because there is no known “medium” or cause-effect mechanism for why the planets influence us. Astrologers agree: No one knows why there is a correlation between what goes on “up there” and “down here.” The ancient astrological saying, “As above, so below” captures this observed synchronicity. No one has discovered why or how such influences work. Gravity? Certainly not. Pluto—so small it was downgraded by astronomers to a “dwarf planet”—is so distant from the sun, and its orbit so idiosyncratic that its history of coinciding with major turning points when forming certain angles has no other explanation except that offered by the astrological paradigm.

Although planets repeatedly form primary angles to each other—the most frequent being the phases of the Sun and Moon—they do so in an ever-changing celestial context. Every New Moon occurs with the other bodies of the cosmos arranged differently than the last New Moon. The modern scientific method relies on duplication of results. From an astrological perspective, history repeats but does not duplicate. No two moments in cosmic time are every the same.
A new perspective on astrology arrived with the rise of the uncertainty principle, quantum physics, which also overturned some long-standing beliefs of Newtonian physics, or what some call “the old science.” Quantum physicists found something very curious happening in the subatomic cosmos: “…every subatomic particle knows what every other subatomic particle it has ever interacted with is doing no matter how great the distance between them becomes.” (“The Science and Astrology Debate“) Each responds to the other’s changes. This interaction of subatomic particles is as mysterious as our interaction with the planets. No one yet knows why, or what cause-effect mechanism is at work in either realm.

This mystery also connects with the ancient astrological saying, “As above, so below.” Both the cosmos and the subatomic realm hold secrets yet to be unlocked. What we know about both is that there is some kind of interaction taking place. What we don’t know is how these interactions operate. Yet, just as quantum physicists can count on certain subatomic results, so astrologers can count on certain planetary cycles coinciding with the same kinds of events they repeatedly coincided with in the past.

For instance, every time Saturn (strictures, established systems, protector of the status quo) has arrived in mid-Capricorn and simultaneously formed a 90 degree angle to another of the outermost planets moving through Aries, the nation has experienced a great depression: the 1930s, 1870s and 1840s. The most indicative angles formed by the planets are conjunctions (when two or more planets are within 10 degrees of each other as seen from Earth), 90-degree squares, 180-degree oppositions and 270-degree squares.

Every approximately 248 years when Pluto’s orbit returns it to Capricorn, major cultural restructurings or revolutions have occurred. This is so going back to the Roman times, the last two times being in the late 1700s (American and French revolutions) and the early 1500s (discovery of gold and silver in the Americas). This suggests that the astrological belief that Saturn “rules” Capricorn is valid.

We are now moving through another time of Pluto in Capricorn (2008 to 2023) and during much of this 25-year period, Pluto will form a 90-degree square angle to Uranus in Aries. This will put Pluto opposite the USA’s natal Sun in Cancer. Since the US Sun is square the US Saturn in Libra, and Libra is opposite Aries, Uranus will be simultaneously opposite the US Saturn. The “transit-to-natal” pattern thus formed is what astrologers call a grand cross. It can be counted on to bring tremendous and long-lasting changes in all dimensions of our earthly experience.

Astrology cannot predict exactly what will change how, but it’s possible to deduce some pending changes from the thrust of current events, and what systems in human affairs have gotten out of balance. Economically, the gap between the super wealthy few and the rest of humanity has never been greater. This suggests that the kind of revolts taking place in the Middle East and USA’s Midwest in early 2011 are likely to spread and intensify as this aspect tightens to exact by 2015.

Most debunkers of astrology have hung a “do not disturb” sign on the door of their beliefs. If they were to examine astrology on its own terms, they would find that this part of the mysterious cosmic elephant helps define other parts.

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About the author

Robert Gover grew up in an endowed orphanage in Philadelphia, received a BA from the University of Pittsburgh in economics, became a best-selling novelist at age 30, lived most of his life in California and now lives in a Delaware beach community. He has published eight novels plus other works of fiction and nonfiction. A new edition of his most famous novel, One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding, has recently been published by Hopewell Publications. He began studying astrology in the 1960s and in the 1980s combined astrology with economics to research planetary cycles that repeat with economic cycles.

Category:  Opinion  

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