Thoughts about Astrology

Here are some of my thoughts about astrology, as quoted in an article by Damon Orion.

“I think astrology, at its best, is about opening up the imagination, opening up the possibilities, by getting you to play with visions of what’s possible,” Brezsny offers. “It’s not a belief system; it’s not a religion; it’s not a science. It’s a language of the archetypes that you can play with and thereby get a read on the biggest possibilities that are available to you.”

But if Brezsny sees astrology as a symbolic language, then does he or doesn’t he literally believe that the planets have a say in earthly affairs? “There are many astrologers who don’t believe that the planets literally shower down some sort of invisible influence on people,” he says. “I know that some astrologers believe that, but I would say that at this point, a majority don’t. The important thing is that the planets are signatures in the sky that can be read and have been read by experts over a number of centuries and correlated with specific tendencies in the human personality and in evolution.”

Brezsny points to a passage from what he calls “the definitive astrology book of the 21st century—probably the 20th century, too”: Richard Tarnas’ “Cosmos and Psyche.” Therein, Tarnas compares the motions of the planets to a clock: When you look at a clock, you do so to know what time it is, but the clock doesn’t cause time. Likewise, when you’re reading the movements, configurations and relationships of the planets, you’re getting a read on the particular energy of a given moment, but the planets don’t cause that moment.

But if the planets aren’t influencing human behavior, then how, exactly, are these two things correlated? “The theory of divination is that everything reflects everything else,” Brezsny states, “so that the tealeaves at the bottom of your tea cup are an exact reflection of the nature of this moment in civilization, or the way the Tarot cards are thrown down is an exact replica, if you know how to read it, of where we are now, or probably of where you are, if you’re throwing the cards. But the value of reading the heavens as opposed to tealeaves is an objectively existing thing: It’s very objective and can be traced into the distant past and the distant future.”

Brezsny adds that it’s a well-established tradition in human societies to read any number of natural signs for clues to the inner nature of things. He mentions that San Francisco Chronicle columnist Tom Stienstra makes long-term weather forecasts by analyzing natural phenomena such as the quality of red onion skins. Stienstra can also supposedly tell what the spring is going to be like by the thickness of the winter coats on coyotes. Breznsy also mentions that when acacia flowers are ready to bloom, members of an Australian tribe called the Yanyuwa know that the sea turtles and the dugongs (a kind of marine mammal) are getting fat and are therefore ready to be hunted. “So they’re reading the signs of nature to make some sort of deductions about what’s to come,” he says. “And I think astrology is exactly that. There is a well mapped out understanding of where the planets were thousands of years back and where they’ll be thousands of years into the future.”

And what are we to make of the notion that human behavior is connected with planetary positioning at the time a person is born? What is so crucial about the moment of birth, and how are the planets connected to this? Brezsny refers to a person’s astrological chart as “a snapshot of the archetypes at that moment.” He says that although the tradition of astrology has developed based on a person’s birth, at any particular moment, we could take this kind of snapshot of the heavens to get an idea of how the archetypes are working together to create human civilization.

“Conceivably, there could have been a tradition that developed over many centuries that involved the analysis of where the planets were at the time of conception,” the astrologer says, “but that’s a much murkier thing. It’s very easy to know when a person is born. It’s a very dramatic event. So the tradition grew up around what was the snapshot of the heavens at the moment the person was born, and over centuries, many people have devoted their life energy to trying to make empirical observations about what kind of pictures of the heavens are correlated with particular human types.”