Week of April 11th, 2024

You Are a Magnet for Joy

The essay below is from my book ASTROLOGY IS REAL

THEORY OF DIVINATION

Listen to Part 1.
Listen to Part 2.

PART ONE

Quoting Greek philosopher Plotinus, astrologer Richard Tarnas writes, “The stars are like letters that inscribe themselves at every moment in the sky. Everything in the world is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on each other. Everything breathes together.”

So it’s not just the distant globes whose movements and relationships serve as divinatory clues. If we’re sufficiently attuned to the gestalt of creation and pay close attention to its unfolding details, we can read the current mood of the universe in any and all phenomena. The theory of divination proposes that everything reflects everything else.

Let’s say that when you’re done drinking a cup of tea, you tear open your tea bag and randomly scatter the wet leaves on your saucer. The theory of divination says that their seemingly random arrangement tells a story. It’s a precise microcosmic reflection of the entire macrocosm—a miniature symbol of the way the whole system is currently arrayed.

But it’s unlikely you have developed experience or skill in collating analogies between tea leaf patterns and the rhythms of your personal life and world history. You wouldn’t know how to discern macrocosmic meanings from this particular microcosmic event.

Likewise, you could theoretically learn to read the up-to-the-minute mood of the universe in the display of sandals sold at the drug store or the fluttering of sunlight and shadow on a mimosa tree or the scatter of soap suds in your sink after you've finished washing the dishes. But there is no collection of data from people who have studied such correlations in the past. You won’t have useful information to draw on.

Using astrology as a divination tool is very different, though. There’s a rich trove of data gathered by thoughtful, imaginative researchers for hundreds of years. They have worked to correlate the heavenly bodies’ movements with patterns of world affairs and individual destinies.


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PART TWO

Most Indigenous cultures study natural phenomena to discern illuminating clues about the rest of their world. Those include the movements of stars and planets but are not confined to them.

When acacia flowers start to bloom, for example, the Yanyuwa people of Australia know that sea turtles and dugongs (a marine mammal) are getting close to being as fat as they ever get, and are therefore ready to be hunted.

In the 17th century, prominent Italian astronomer Galileo asserted that the movements of the moon were unrelated to the ebb and flow of tides on the earth. But the Indigenous Yolngu of Australia knew better, even back then. They had acquired detailed knowledge of how the lunar phases were linked to the ever-changing tides. This wisdom enabled them to travel efficiently by water and predict the optimal availability of seasonal foods.

The Yanyuwa and Yolngu studied the signs of heaven and earth to make inexact but reliably approximate deductions with practical value.

Some modern people who spend a lot of time in the natural world have similar prowess. For instance, renowned outdoors person and author Tom Stienstra makes long-term weather forecasts by analyzing seemingly trivial details like the quality of red onion skins. He also attests that he can tell what each spring is going to be like by observing the thickness of winter coats on coyotes.

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Astrology works because it has resemblances to the divinatory practices of Stienstra, Yanyuwa, and Yolngu. The planets, the sun, and the moon are signatures in the sky that tell stories about everything else in the world.

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Are there causal relationships between the thickness of coyotes’ winter coats and the quality of red onion skins and upcoming spring weather? Do blooming acacia flowers somehow have a role in fattening the dugongs and sea turtles? Of course not. They are signifiers for each other, not influential agents.

The movements of the moon are causal in the behavior of the earth’s tides. As far as we know, though, 17th-century Yolngu people had no theory about this relationship that would be accurate by the standards of modern science. They simply deciphered lunar behavior to gather useful information about their environment. They noticed connections.

The situation is comparable to astrology. The heavenly bodies provide correlative signs to understand the lives of individuals and the patterns of history. But they don’t cause events to happen. They don’t shape our personalities using long-distance magical vibes.

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The theory of divination proposes that everything reflects everything else. Plotinus again: “Everything in the world is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on each other. Everything breathes together.”


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