Types of thinking

The psychologist Daniel Kahneman who received Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 developed his theory of thinking which is I think very educational for astrologers and their judgments. He speaks about two types of thinking in people. The first one is intuitive type of thinking, it is a quick type and it is good for emergences BUT it is often times wrong. When one jumps into conclussions, he is using the so called System 1 type of thinking. System 2 is slower type of thinking, more critical, analytical and systematic. This type of thinking is often times more precize.

How is this relevant to astrology? Well, in astrology judgment is crutial in prediction. I have seen several poor astrologers merely guessing the chart, giving quick ‘intuitive’ answers which sometimes match and often times don’t match the actual reality of a person. This is wrong and is not astrology at all. Let us recall what Abū Ali says at the end of his book on natal astrology:

“In whatever is signified, this must be chiefly noted: if it has only one testimony, it is routine [ lat. vulgare, of little note], if two, it will be stronger; if three complete”. ~ Abū Ali – On the Judgments of Nativities 9th century AD p. 331 of Dykes translation

Abū Ali asks from us here to actually think more deeply and in a more systematic way, to use the System 2 explained shortly above. Conclusion is not made by mere guessing only, by just noticing one factor in the chart and yes ‘say it out loud’. To give good astrological judgment, one need to study the chart very thoroughly, to draw as much conclussions as one can regarding certain topic. System 2 type of thinking doesn’t exclude intution, but intuition as a result of deep reasoning and considerable time spent in analytical thinking in regard to the subject in question.

Paul Foster Case, the great mystic, occultist and Tarot writer from early 20th century (astrologer also), speaks about the true intuition:

Psychologically, intuition is the subconscious process of deduction, applied to the elaboration of the meaning of our conscious estimates of experience. Thus true intuition is the consequence of right reasoning, and those who are too careless    to watch and too lazy to reason, never hear the Inner Voice.    (Paul Foster Case – Tarot Interpretation p.35)  

..Intuition seems to come to us from    a source outside ourselves, and so it does, in a way. But    until we have learned to set our mental house in order, we    cannot put ourselves in the proper position to hear [the Inner Voice].. (p.35)   

The development of mental imagery by subconscious    processes of deduction and association also contributes its    share to the operation of intuition, and has its outcome in a    gradually unfolding realization that personality is.. (p.42)   

When the mental house has been set in order by reason, so that external relationships are clearly perceived, intuition carries the process a step farther, and makes us aware of the underlying principles of internal relationship. (p.43)   

An unreasonable man is, essentially, one who fails to perceive    the true relationships between the events constituting his    external environment. His estimates and measurements    are imperfect. Thus even the Voice of Intuition is misunderstood by him when he hears it. (p.43)

Intuition is a result of deep thinking and not of an instantenous guessing. This is why becoming an astrologer, one need to learn how to think properly.

Advertisements

The Student in Astrology

If someone was not able to notice, I stressed out the title William Lilly gives to himself. I am not familiar too much with the historical circumstances, but I think that this is published in 1645 which would make Lilly about 43 years old, and his title is ‘Student in Astrology’.
What I am looking today around is self-proclaimed Masters, Professionals, World-class and many other astrologer titles, most of them self-proposed. Some people today even not in their 40’s, even earlier in their lives, are already passed the ‘Student’ stage.
Count me as mad if you want, but I dream of staying a Student of astrology till the end of my life.

Image

Astrology is not a play-toy

Why were the ancient astrologers very protective of the knowledge of this mysterious Art called Astrology? Are we lacking something of this momentum in their art or we evolved so much during past centuries so we think that astrology should be presented to everyone, regarding their intentions for learning astrology? Learning astrology became a hobby, recreation and even money-making business.

I will give you two quotes from two great sages of two great traditions in astrology, and you judge how you will receive these words.

Reading these days the Brihat Jatakam of sage Varaahamihira (6th century AD), I found out that he is often referring to a sage ‘Satyacharya’, so I immediately googled his name and on site astrojyoti found this entry from the beginning of Satyacharya’s book ‘Satya Jataka’:

The great sage Satyacharya taught the principles of astrology to his disciple Manithlha and these principles are contained in this work.

1.Addressing his pupil, Satyacharya said, “Oh my dear disciple! I am going to reveal the principles of Astrology to you. These principles are not known to anybody and are a great secret. By means of these, you can predict the future events accurately”.

2. The science of Astrology is a great secret. It should be guarded with care. It should never be revealed to people who have no faith in God, who are sceptics by nature and to those who do not show reverence to their Guru.

3. This sacred science of Astrology should never be taught to bad people. Nor should it be revealed to too many people and very frequently. It should be taught only to a few chosen disciples who really deserve and have the necessary qualifications. Listen to me with care. Now I shall expound the principles of Astrology according to “Dhruva Matham” i.e. according to the school of Dhruva”.

If we think that this is the case only in the Indian astrological tradition, I will quote you from Vettius Valens, to whom many of us have affinity.

I adjure you, my most precious brother, and you, initiates into this mystic art, by the starry vault of heaven and by the twelve-fold circle, by the sun, the moon , and the five wandering stars by whom all of life is guided, and by Providence itself and Holy Fate, to preserve these matters in secret and not to share them with the vulgar, but only with those worthy of them and able to preserve and requite them as they deserve [p. 77, trans. by Mark Riley]

This knowledge is not a play-toy.

Insight on Time-Lords

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my intensive examination of time-lord (periods) is that a bad Solar Return can spoil many good configurations set by the more general time-lords.
This is why it is extremely important to examine the year-chart for the particular influence of that year. You know, we humans are accustomed to think yearly, this is why we celebrate the ‘new year’, because our hopes are regenerated, we have new wishes for the following year, new ambitions, and so on. Many people do not look at life in periods, they on the most look at the year as a period of time on which they are concentrated. So, nailing down the prediction into the reading of the yearly influences is very much needed. Because, you may see beautiful Jupiter and Venus ruling the Firdariyyāh, and in a matter of fact, their disposition in the natal chart is not so bad, and out of lack of experience, you would judge excitingly: ‘yeah, you will have good year’, is a certain way for leaning toward error. If these two planets are pretty damaged in the Solar Return, all the good may be twisted, may never appear, or may not last for long. These are 3 out of many more particulars which astrologer should consider in his examination, and can still err. This is why the ancient astrologers were wise men who set many different techniques in order to nail down through deductive reasoning, the probability of the climes and particulars of the time investigated. Error was not so much allowed in those times, especially if you were an astrologer on the court. You would probably stay all night long to figure out in which clime your King is at the moment and what he may expect or not expect. Today the situation is a bit different, our heads are probably in most of the cases safe, but still, good astrologer doesn’t want to err and this is why one need to meditate deeply on the different kind of influences present at a particular unit of time. Those of you who have read Valens know how many different techniques he is using there. This was not only because he loved all those techniques  and want to have fun, but it was necessary for him to investigate more deeply the period set by different planets and their qualities. The same with Abū Ma’shar. All these techniques have their own place and they are all relevant, even though all planets may be activated through this or that rulership or technique, they actually all have different purpose, different agenda, and different amount of power with which they operate in a certain period; some are subordinated to other, and some are leaders of the times.

Astrologer Barbara Cameron and Regan’s assasination attempt

Imagel

This is the chart for the president Ronald Regan’s assassination attempt back in 1981. I want to quote you a testimony from a person called Thomas Lyons in his book Modern Day Mystic: A Psychic & Spiritual Journey Through A Not Quite Ordinary Life, about a wonderful astrologer (and her astrological skills) who is no longer among us: Barbara Cameron.

Barbara Cameron studied both Western and Hindu astrology, but what is more important, she is Western pioneer of the wonderful Burmese astrology called ‘Mahabote’ or ‘The Little Key’. I have heard wonderful testimonies about this remarkable woman from her student Sandy Crowther – another wonderful astrological soul, who is now teaching the Mahabote astrology through her Mahabote course.

Thomas in his book explains how he was being a witness of the astrological capabilities of Barbara in the following quote [what is important to be noted here is that when the news announced that there was assassination attempt on president Regan, no one in the beginning knew that he was actually shot, in a matter of fact, even Regan himself didn’t know this until later. When he felt deep pain in his chest, he thought that was because of the Secret Service agent leaning upon him to protect him].

So, Barbara rushed immediately to open an event chart and these were her words (as explained by Thomas Lyion):

Getting back to the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981, Barbara calculated a horary chart, as opposed to a natal chart, for the exact time and place of the incident and compared it with the known birth information of President Reagan himself. “Reagan’s been shot,” Barbara told her husband “The horary’ chart indicates violence and internal bleeding for the President, as shown by the conjunction of Mars to the Sun in the eighth house and the opposition from Saturn, but mitigating factors from Venus and Jupiter tell me that he’ll be okay and that he’ll have a rapid recovery.”

This is astrology in action!
There are rumors that through some Vedic astrology calculations, she predicted the year of her death, and prepared her self beforehand for the final hour. An amazing astrologer!

P.S. I don’t know in which house system Barbara calculated the chart. I calculated the chart in Alcabitius system which also gives Sun and Mars in 8th division.

Glossary of Latin Astrological Terms

Ongoing project…

Planets:

Saturnus. Declensions: Saturnus (nom sg), Saturni (gen sg), Saturno (dat sg), Saturnum (acc sg), Saturnō (dat sg).

Iupiter. Declensions: Iupiter (nom sg), Iovis (gen sg), Iovi (dat sg), Iovem (acc sg), Iove (abl sg).

Mars. Declensions: Mars (nom sg), Martis (gen sg), Marti (dat sg), Martem (acc sg), Marte (abl sg).

Venus. Declensions: Venus (nom sg), Veneris (gen sg), Veneri (dat sg), Venerem (acc sg), Venere (abl sg).

Mercurius. Declensions: Mercurius (nom sg), Mercurii (gen sg), Mercurio (dat sg), Mercurium (acc sg), Mercuriō (dat sg).

Luna. Declensions: Luna (nom sg), Lunae (gen sg), Lunae (dat sg), Lunam (acc sg), Lunā (abl sg).

A

Ante nativitatem = before the nativity. It is usually used with reference to the syzygy, the prenatal lunation: the last conjunction of the luminaries before the birth (conjunctional) or the last opposition of the luminaries before the birth (preventional).

Ascendēns = ascending, rising [participle]. Astrologically: ascendant. You will often find it declined like ‘ascendentis (gen sg).

D

Dominus = lord [of a house], master [of a house], ruler [of a house].
Dominōs [acc pl] Triplicitatis, Lords of the Triplicity.
Dominus Anni = Lord of the Year.

Diurnus = of the day [sect], diurnal (adjective).
Diurnus is masculine form. Diurna is feminine and Diurnum neuter.

E

Esse = condition, state.

N

Nativitas = nativity, birth (noun, third declension). Astrologically: birth chart, natal chart. You will often find it in genitive form ‘nativitatis’ of nativity.

Nocturnus = of the night [sect], belonging to the night, nocturnal.
Nocturna is feminine form and Nocturnum is neuter form (adjective).

S

Signum = sign [noun, second declension]

Don’t forget about the Decans

“For example, suppose that the Sun is at ten degrees in the first decan of Aries, in the face of Arēs (Mars). Since then, we have found that the Sun signifies matters of the soul, you will find the soul of this manly spirit to be irascible, delighting in battle, arms-loving, and the like. But again, suppose that the Sun is at 20 degrees in the second decan of Aries in the face of the Sun; it signifies that such a manly spirit is bright in his soul, a lover of fame and of honor and not at all delighting in battle. But again, suppose that the Sun is at 30 degrees of Aries, in the face of Aphroditē (Venus); it signifies that his manly spirit is feminine-souled, of the female type.”

This fragment is survived from the lost book on decans by Teucher of Babylon (3rd C.E.), highly commended by Antiochus/Porphyry. The translation here is of Robert Schmidt in the book ‘The Astrological Record of Early Sages in Greek’. This author was later on quoted by Rhetorius also. It seems out that he dedicated special time in analyzing the decans, just as the Anonimus of 379 dedicated his life in observation of the Fixed Stars and their effects.
It is supposed that some of the descriptions of the signs of the zodiac and the nature of the planets at Valens are derived from the works of Teucer. This puts Teucer back in at least 1st century AD.

What is interesting for me in this quote is first how he delineates the character of the native, or the quality of his soul [matters of the soul], through the position of the Sun in specific decan ruled by certain planet. The significations of that planet that rules the decan, would give the significations for the nature of the native’s soul. This again confirms my recent talking here, and on other places, that Sun is indeed very much part of our own inner make up. The modern usage of the Sun sign astrology, even though exaggerated, is not as wrong as we thought previously in the first years of the revival of the tradition. I know that these Sun sign delineations sometimes go to the banal extremes, but the Sun is really representing the inner most part of our soul, of what we are and what we are alike. I know that we here speak about Sun in different decans and not zodiac signs; what I like to stress out is the importance of the Sun in natal chart and in delineating the native’s soul. Sun would not give us the whole character as is presumed in the question to an astrological hobbyist: ‘what is your horoscopic sign? Tell me to tell you the whole  life story of yours’. This is banal and funny, also sad in certain regard. We should apply these things with measure.

I found these teachings of Teucer amazing. I have checked this in several charts, and indeed in my own chart, with Sun in a decan of Venus, and I very much have Venusian soul, as lover of the beauty, art and music, lover of peace and piety, lover of laughter. These are all Venusian qualities. This finding about the Sun in different decans is very exciting for me, and I hope for you, check it out and you will find many truths in it, I am sure.

Later on in the fragments Teucer speaks about every individual planet positioned in particular decan. Not all delineations are survived but from what it is survived, I found many matches with real-life examples, like for example he speaks that Venus in 3rd decan of Sagittairus gives indications for ‘those who are unfortunate due to women and those who sail to desert places or the sea [metaphorically for going to distant places] for the sake of a woman’. Now, when you read these significations you need as always to take in account the overall position of Venus or some other planet. If that planet is in such particular decan, but positioned in a good place from the ascendant, like let’s say, the 11th Place, the bad significations will be ameliorated. If this planet is in bad house such as 12th, the significations of the planet inside particular decan will be intensified and more surely realized in native’s life.

Teucer uses the so called Chaldean decans, where to every sign are assigned decan rulership of 3 planets. They follow the Chaldean order of the planets. The first decan of Aries is ruled by Mars, the next is ruled by Sun, the third by Venus. The first decan in Taurus is ruled by Mercury, the second by Moon, the third by Saturn, and so on. Nowadays through the modern astrology world, in widely usage are the so called ‘Indian decans’ or the decans of Varāhamihira which are distributed through the signs in triplicity order, where the first decan of Aries is ruled by Aries itself, second by the next sign in triplicity order, that is Leo, and third decan is ruled by Sagittarius. In Taurus, first decan is ruled by Taurus, second by Virgo, third by Capricorn, and so on. However, we are speaking here about the Western or so called Chaldean decans.

Abū Ma’shar in his Great Introduction (Introductorium Maius) mentions 3 general sources for his own working with the images rising with the 36 faces: 1) according to the Persians, 2) according to Indians and 3) according to Ptolemy. Margherita Fiorello in her introduction to the translation of this section of Introductorium Maius referring to Franz Boll’s Sphaera argues that regarding ‘according to the Persians’ we should understand ‘according to Teucer of Babylon’. Then Margherita comments:

“Teucer the astrologer was the author of a work about the “Sphaera Barbarica”, the spheres of foreigner’s constellations, which we know in fragments and from a quote in Rhetorius’ work, published by Boll in the same year of Sphaera in CCAG VII. Surely Albumasar read Teucer from a Persian mediation which mentioned some of the Greek words of the original text”. [The Images of Stars Rising with 36 Facies, from tractatus VI, differentia I of Great Introduction written by Albumasar, translation from Latin Version of Johannes Hispaniensis by Margherita Fiorello, Rome year 2009]

So, the works of this great astrologer were spread through out the Perso-Arabian world too, and from there (through the popularity of Abū Ma’shars works) throughout Medieval world.

I wish all his works were survived today.

Soldiers of Fate

Image

The Three Moirai (Fates), Triumph of Death.

It is without doubt that many of Valens’ passages in Anthology contain Stoic elements in it. This requires special study since Valens in no place states that “Yeah, I am a Stoic”. However, one who is acquainted even a bit with the Stoic sages from those early ages can notice that some of Valens’ advices on how to except life’s hardships and how to be a brave soldier of the fortune, have Stoic reminiscences in them.

Marcus Aurelius lived in 2nd century AD, in the same age Valens lived. Marcus Aurelius is born 121 AD and died 180 AD, very close to the supposed date of birth and death of Valens (120 AD – c 175 AD).

Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations are probably most popular (even today!) Stoic read. What I find similar to the approach of exercising ‘happy life’ in Meditations is the teaching of the three topoi (fields of study) which were highly thought by Epictetus [55 – 135 AD] to his followers. This was standard Stoic practice which I will describe shortly in what follows; but what is interesting to me in investigating Stoicism of this period is the excitement of somehow ‘catching the spirit’ of times. You know, hardly that we today have a real Stoic who was thought by a real Stoic and this one was thought by a real Stoic. What I mean by ‘real Stoic’ is a Stoic who is a part of the chain of teacher-student lineage, something which we have in Hindu tradition and their religious traditions. As a language like Latin or Ancient Greek, this Stoic practice is a ‘dead practice’ that needs revival. I mean, we do not have succession of teacher-student, we do not have lineage of Stoics that survived till today, if I am correct. Now, as in revival of ancient language, revival of ancient astrology, here lie some barriers in revival of the practice of these ancient sages through the books and fragments we have from them.

This is always a hard task. I know this from my studies of Orthodox Christianity in my late teens, when I was involved in reading many Orthodox Christian books about how to live moral and blessed life, BUT until I met my first teacher who was also Orthodox priest, I was never able to get into the spirit of the teachings of the Orthodox sages. When I met my teacher, his presence and spiritual power, illuminated me like no book I have ever read. This is the same with Stoicism, I have never met a Stoic, if not a Stoic from a Stoic ‘lineage’, at least, a Stoic who spent his life in practicing this art of living. However, since I met with great Orthodox teachers and spiritual men in my life, I can get a bit from the spirit of these sages, because the Orthodox spiritual practice, bears some similarities with the practice of the Stoics, even though in its core is very much different, because of the cosmic philosophy, eschatology, etc.

To get back to the three topoi. The three topoi in the Stoic teachings are:

1. Desires (orexis) and aversions (ekkliseis).
2. Impulses to act (hormas) and not to act (aphormas).
3. Value-Judgment (sunkatathesis).
[John Sellars, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Marcus Aurelius entry]

This was the practical philosophy of Epictetus and his famous always repeated ‘things that are in our own power and things that are not in our own power’. The thing is that we as human beings have impressions (phantasia), the whole difference in practicing philosophy and how to live a blessed happy life (eudaimonia) is how do we value-judge those impressions. If I see a man is drinking wine, the impression is that he drinks a wine, the value-judgment [sunkatathesis] would probably be that he will get drunk and that he is immoral, which is of course bad value-judgment because how do I know from only seeing the appearance, what is there, maybe he drinks something else that looks like wine?!

Epictetus, and hence Marcus Aurelius, teaches us that we need to work on our value-judgments and correct interpretation of our impressions. If we receive bad value-judgment temptation upon some impression, we could easily decide by our own inner power to correct this value-judgment and say ‘I do not want to value this impression in this manner, I will value it such and such’.

Impulses to act (hormas) are also in our own power, although the outcome of our actions is not in our own power. The archer can strive to hit the target, to do his best, but he can’t control the wind and other outer circumstances to achieve his goal. Here lies the analogy as to the things that are in our own power and those things that are not in our own power. ‘I know that I can control the outer circumstances’, someone would say, ‘I can reach my hand and grab that stone’. Yeah, but the Nature already put the stone there for you to grab it. The point is that we do not have total control and we have only limited amount of power, some more some less. We should then, not lament on the things that are above our control since the Nature or the Cosmos of which we are part as everything around us, has ordained the things as they are meant to be in perfect order for those who can see this order without the value-judgment of our habitual thinking.

The exercise of the desires is the knowledge that the desires for outer circumstances which are above our own control and power, are unpredictable and can bring us despair and lament. The true desire is the desire for inner excellence, for virtue (aretē), striving for wisdom and happy inner life, free from value-judgments and wishful thinking for ‘creating’ our lives in their external form. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad in this, there is wrong in the totality of expectation that whatever we strive for, whatever we wish for the outer world, will come true. Taming the desires for the contrary of what is already predestined by this Cosmic Creature, and having the desire for inner excellence and living virtuous life, is what is needed for the sage to be.

This is very practical philosophy and working with it on a daily basis, brings inner strength of the character (prohairesis), moral betterment and facing the challenges of life more easily. As a consequence, life becomes more fulfilled and happy (eudaimonia) This is indeed very helpful for those of you who think that great deal of our lives are predestined and that Astrology as an art, is capable of revealing at least part of that destiny.

Valens speaking on the crisis-producing places in book V [Riley] says:

“Some are fated to have unwanted experiences and to be unable to act as they desire. Some seem to be under the power of others; even though they are free, they are punished by a bad conscience. Some travel abroad or sail, and are held somewhere on an island or in deserted places, or they do service in temples or sacred places. Occasionally they are confined by recurrent diseases or by epilepsy, fits, spells, blindness, the ague, and syndromes such as these.”

Exactly these are the things that are fated and outside of our power; things that are fated: our outer circumstances and bodily accidents like illnesses, things that ‘happen to us’. No matter how much we strive with the ‘power of our intention’ to achieve something, the fact is that things in our life ‘do happen’ and it is not that we only ‘make things to happen’.

“Accordingly then, the initiates of this art, those wishing to have knowledge of the future, will be helped because they will not be burdened with vain hopes, will not expend grievous midnight toil, will not vainly love the impossible, nor in a like manner will they be carried away by their eagerness to attain what they may expect because of some momentary good fortune. A suddenly appearing good often grieves men as if it were an evil; a suddenly appearing evil causes the greatest misery to those who have not trained their minds in advance.”

How the initiates of this art [astrology] will be helped? By knowing that sometimes benefic planets in ruling the times, bring only an appearance of good after which some misfortune follows. This is life, the soldier of fortune would know all this and will never be disturbed by the appearance of bad nor overly excited by the appearance of good. This is the exercise of the three topoi offered by Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius.

The training of the mind in advance, and actually the whole passage from Valens above is one of the things which relate him to the Stoic practical philosophy of life. We can see here how Valens was trained Stoic or at least, bears practical philosophy very similar to that of the Stoics I explained above.

I will finish this exposition here with one of my favorite quotes from Valens:

“Fate has decreed for each person the immutable working out of events, reinforcing this decree with many opportunities for good or bad consequences. Through the use of these opportunities, two self begotten gods, Hope and Fortune, the assistants of Fate, control man’s life and make it possible for him to bear Fate’s decrees by using their compulsion and deception. One of the two <Fortune> manifests herself to everyone through the forecasted outcome, proving herself to be good and kind at one time, at another time dark and grim. Fortune raises some high only to cast them down, and degrades others only to raise them to glory. The other of the two <Hope> is neither dark nor bright; she moves everywhere in disguise and in secret, smiling on everyone like a flatterer, and she displays many attractive prospects which cannot be attained. She controls men by deceiving them: these men, even though they were wronged and were enslaved to their desires, still are attracted to her again, and full of Hope, believe that their wishes will be fulfilled. They believe her—only to get what they do not expect. If Hope ever does offer solid prospects to anyone, she immediately abandons him and goes on to others. She seems to be close to everyone, but she stays with no one.” [Riley p. 102]

Just a final remark. I do not claim that Valens was a Stoic. I do want to point however, that some of his passages bear Stoic elements, even though this does not make him a Stoic per se. The times in which Valens lived, were times of philosophical eclecticism and different mystery cults, borrowing elements from different philosophical schools and commingling of religious-philosophical influences of different traditions.