Sun enters Cancer, why astrology works, calculations...

Cancer 2017

Why Does Astrology Work?

The question of why astrology works has been around for probably as long as astrology itself -- which, as we know, is a very, very long time. The simple answer, generally used in ancient times, was that the celestial bodies were in fact gods, and that their motions and interactions actually caused events on Earth.

Although it has evolved into a more-modern and "scientific" form of expression, that same notion persists today in the idea of astrological or planetary "forces" or "influences." The idea is that the planets give off some actual kind of force or energy, and that force -- whatever it may be -- has a direct impact on events on Earth.

This idea of an astrological force or energy is not only espoused by many astrologers, but it is perhaps the only theory of astrology espoused by those skeptics who would "debunk" astrology. They say that because science has no evidence of any type of "force" through which astrology could function, then the entire concept of astrology is wrong.

This criticism of astrology is valid as far as it goes -- there really is no type of "astrological force" which has yet been demonstrated scientifically -- but to make this the sole basis upon which you dismiss astrology seems to me to be rather presumptuous. There are other possibilities which, to my knowledge, have never been investigated by those who dismiss astrology out of hand based on their "scientific investigations."

There is, of course, the idea of "synchronicity," first proposed in the early 20th century by Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung. The simple explanation of this concept, which has since been adopted by much of the astrological community, is that otherwise-unrelated events can occur together in a meaningful fashion without necessarily having a cause-and-effect relationship.

One example used by Jung to illustrate this "acausal connecting principle" was that of a clock on a wall in an office. Every day when the hands of the clock point to noon, the man in the office rises from his desk and goes to lunch. The clock does not exert any "force" or "energy" that causes the man to go to lunch. Yet if you observe the motions of the clock's hands, you can successfully predict the man's behavior.

Astrology can operate in exactly that fashion. The planets do not "cause" anything to happen. But if you observe the motions of the planets, you can successfully predict what will happen on Earth.

Dane Rudhyar, one of the most important astrological philosophers of the 20th century, elaborated extensively upon this idea in many of his works. He called it "meaningful co-incidence": that is, two events happening at the same time which can be interpreted in terms of some type of symbolic significance. The event happening on Earth gains meaning or context from an examination of the corresponding motions and interactions of the planets. Astrology can clearly be used in this manner of giving meaning to worldly events and placing them into some greater context.

Yet this still does not answer the question of "why?" Whether astrology works through actual physical forces and energies, or whether it works through symbolic interpretations and meanings.... why does it work at all?

My thought on this question has long been mathematics. The motions of the planets are nothing more than the physical expressions of highly complex mathematical equations. A planet's location at any given point in time is simply the solution of a mathematical function for that point in time.

When an astrologer says, "Mars is transiting through Scorpio," he or she is actually using shorthand for, "This mathematical function [which astrologers happen to name 'Mars'], when solved for this particular range of values [normally a range of calendar dates] yields this particular set of solutions [the series of solutions astrologers happen to name 'Scorpio']."

In other words, regardless of any overlays of mystical names, symbolic meanings, individual interpretations, etc., astrology is at its core nothing but mathematics. And everything that an astrologer says -- from "The Moon is in 20 degrees of Scorpio" to "Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus are forming a grand trine in the water signs while transiting the 2nd, 6th, and 10th houses of your natal chart" -- all astrological statements, from the most simple to the most complex, are really just shorthand "jargon" ways of describing the results of a set of mathematical functions.

According to science, of course, mathematics is the language that describes the operation of the entire universe. Indeed, the "forces" that scientists are so fond of citing -- and which they cannot discover for astrology -- are themselves nothing more than mathematical equations and functions. And although we describe these forces, such as gravity, in terms of physical cause and effect, it may well be that gravity (for example) is not causal at all, but instead synchronistic. The equation describes what is happening, and causation is actually irrelevant -- or non-existent.

Back to astrology: Why is it not possible that the astrological "equations" we have developed could not correspond to similar equations which describe patterns of human behavior? When the ancients looked at, for example, the Jupiter-Saturn cycle and associated it with the rise and fall of kings, is it not possible that the socio-cultural processes which bring about the periodic rise and fall of governments operate according to the same mathematical pattern as the astrological Jupiter-Saturn cycle? There is strong evidence, after all, that human behavior -- especially collective behavior -- is indeed cyclic and pattern-based. Perhaps the ancients who developed astrology were simply noticing and correlating these patterns.

There is indeed a field of science which attempts to describe patterns of human behavior using mathematics. I suspect most of these researchers don't realize that astrologers have essentially already done this. Astrology describes patterns of human behavior using mathematical formulae. This is why and how astrology can "work," whether with or without a causative princple.

Perhaps when the scientists doing this research perfect their art a little bit more -- and if they bother to look -- they may be surprised to find that their equations correspond to the equations astrologers have been using for millenia.


--- Ed

Ed Perrone

This Month's Planets: June - July, 2017

by Ed Perrone

The Sun enters the tropical sign of Cancer on June 21st at 4:24am GMT, followed by Mercury just a few hours later. They join Mars, which has been in Cancer since early June, placing a strong emphasis on this emotional, security-seeking water sign.

As Venus, the other "personal" planet, is currently transiting Taurus, we see the strong fire-and-air-sign emphasis of last month moving now to an equally strong focus on the earth and water signs. (Pluto is in Capricorn and Neptune is in Pisces, rounding out the collection of 6-of-10 planets in water or earth.)

These transits show a strong emphasis on practicality, security, and realism. The idealism and exuberance (sometimes over-exuberance!) of the recent fire/air combination now sort of reaches its limits and is brought back down to earth. Reality check. The Universe seems to be saying, "So you had some great ideas, now what? Those ideas and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee...."

The message being, of course, that all the creativity and ideas in the world won't get you anywhere unless you can put those ideas into practice in the real world. But with the strong emphasis on water-sign Cancer, one other piece of the puzzle -- often overlooked -- is now brought front-and-center: motivation. The water signs represent the emotions, and the emotions are the motivational "fuel" that powers any sort of accomplishment.

Yes, you need fire's creativity to come up with an idea. And you need air's logic to plan the implementation of that idea. And you need earth's practicality to actually do the work required to make that idea a reality. But without the fourth element -- emotional motivation -- you don't actually get up to do anything in the first place.

And this month, with the emphasis on Cancer, the primary emotion driving people everywhere tends to be security. And it is as much emotional security as it is physical security. People need to feel secure in themselves and in their essential beings. They need to feel worthwhile. They need to have a strong emotional foundation which can support their efforts and activities in the physical world.

As a motivational force, it is often the lack of this type of security that propels a person forward. They are motivated by the need to fill a void in their psyche, a void that they often can't describe but which manifests itself through acquisition, clinginess, possessiveness.

These qualities dominate the end of June and the first week or so of July. Then the emphasis shifts at least a little bit, as Mercury moves into Leo and Venus into Gemini, bringing a bit less emotional intensity. But the Sun-Mars pairing in Cancer still remains as the major factor, and everything from personal interactions to global events will exhibit an underlying need for, and drive toward, security.

Astrological Calculations

As mentioned in this issue's editorial above, astrology is essentially mathematical in nature, and the setting up of a natal horoscope involves a large number of complicated calculations. Over the past 30 years, this process has been taken over almost completely by computers. In fact, in the 1980s and '90s, astrology was the first profession to integrate the computer so fully into its work.

As recently as the 1960s and '70s, however, calculating a chart was a tedious, time-consuming task that required a variety of specialized reference books. But at least by the '60s and '70s, astrologers had rudimentary electronic calculators to assist them. Before that, it was only pencil and paper!

Calculating charts by hand -- although extremely tedious and sometimes error-prone -- is actually quite a good exercise to better understand some of the underlying principles of astrology. Actually sitting down and doing the mathematics is in many ways a very meditative exercise. As you get lost in the calculations, you are able to "get inside" the planetary cycles that they represent. You see the various positions not as isolated points in the sky, but as successive steps in a greater process, an ever-unfolding cycle of becoming. This awareness puts you more in tune with the fundamental basis of astrology, which is that all of existence is an ongoing process of continuous cyclic unfoldment.

Although it loses much of that Zen-like connection with the fundamental astrological process, using a computer to do astrological calculations is generally much more practical. Computers allow us to calculate in seconds a chart that would require the better part of an hour to calculate by hand. Most computer programs offer a wide range of options: different zodiacs and house systems; many types of progressions and directions; planets, asteroids, fixed stars, and other bodies; and many more calculations that would be virtually impossible to do by hand in any reasonable amount of time. In addition, as long as it is programmed correctly, the computer does not make errors. When you ask it to show you the planetary positions for a given time and place, those positions are invariably correct.

Astrological calculation programs nowadays come in all shapes and sizes. There are programs for Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are simple programs that do only a few types of calculations, and there are full-featured programs that incorporate almost every system and variation you can think of. There are programs that are completely free, and programs that cost hundreds of dollars. There are even a couple of mobile apps that do calculations on your Android or Apple device.

In addition to all of these calculation programs that you can download and install on your own device, there are also online services where you can do calculations online. Here again, some services are simple, others are extremely complex and full-featured. Some are free, and some charge a fee.

How to make sense of all this? Mainly, first decide what you need. If you are a hobbyist astrologer who calculates maybe a chart or two a week, and if you don't need a wide variety of zodiacs, house systems, etc., then there's no need to pay top dollar for a comprehensive commercial program. A simple free program, or even an online calculator, will get the job done for you.

By contrast, if you're a professional astrologer or serious researcher who requires numerous different calculation types and chart options, then a more-comprehensive program may be what you need. But don't confuse "comprehensive" with "expensive" -- some of the less-expensive and even free programs perform all the calculations you may need.

You can find a list of astrological software vendors and online chart-calculation services in our links area.

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