Taiko and Adaptation vs. Innovation

Last summer, I went to the Ginza Festival which is held every year in Chicago. It was a wonderful experience, and I hope to go again this year. During the festival, there were various performances based on traditional Japanese performing and martial arts, one of which was a taiko (drum) performance by the Midwest Buddhist Temple Taiko Group.

At the beginning, one of the artists gave an explanation of the art form. He talked about the tradition surrounding taiko, and if I remember correctly, about the history of taiko performing groups in the United States. He then explained that the next selection was changed from a traditional selection. At this point, I tensed a little. I expected him to talk about creative innovation and improving the selection. What he said next was far more impressive to me. He said that the selection was changed to adapt it to what the present performers were actually able to do well, as the traditional selection was too difficult for them.

TaikoThis struck me as the right attitude to take towards tradition, not just in performing arts, but in astrology. The traditional understanding of the passage of time is that it is unfolding from the center and perfection, and thus, is a process of decline. That is the true meaning of the term evolution.

While people have become more adept at living in and manipulating the material world through technological advancement, they decline physically, mentally, and spiritually. In astrology, we now have computers to calculate charts for us, but we have largely lost the ability to perform complex calculations by hand and our ability to memorize large amounts of material. I, for one, am not capable of memorizing thousands of aphorisms, let alone applying them in a meaningful way.

In addition to the normal and natural process of decline, in the West, there have been substantial breaks from the philosophical foundations of astrology. Of course, the Enlightenment was a recent break from tradition. Over two thousand years prior to this, however, the Abrahamic religions also broke from the older tradition, declaring all former forms of belief idolatry. I intend to discuss this more in later articles, but by that time, many of the former traditions had sharply declined and had not adapted well to the more limited spiritual and intellectual capacity of humans.  This had an heavy impact upon the astrology of the Medieval period and the Renaissance. Astrologers had to take care to frame their work so as not to be accused of idolatry and not to run afoul of the Church, particularly in the written records that they left behind. While we can not know this for certain, I would imagine that this made the work of our forebears seem much more mechanical and worldly than it actually was.

So, in the West, astrologers are contending with a tradition that has declined naturally over the ages and with two major breaks in this tradition. Project Hindsight and many Classical and Traditional Astrologers are working hard to retrieve and translate many of the older texts; however, texts alone can not recreate the knowledge that has been lost.

So, does that mean that all is lost and that we can not practice astrology? Absolutely not. There is still a lot that we can do. While the taiko drummers may have had to adapt their performance, it was still amazing and exciting!

So, what can we do? Like the taiko drummers, we can proceed carefully and with humility. I do not think that we can recreate the astrological practice of the past. Too much has been lost, and too much has changed in our world. While we have texts, in the West, at least, we do not have an unbroken line of knowledge that has been passed from teacher to student for thousands of years. On the other hand, we can acknowledge that our forebears were our superiors and avoid the temptation of trying to “improve” and “innovate” with new techniques.

I think that the best road to follow is the middle course of adapting our work to what we can do and to the realities of this day and age. We can also, as much as possible, weed out the “innovations” of the post-Enlightenment period.

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Posted in Adaptation, Application/Delineations, Philosophy, Tradition | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Zodiac

In the last article, I talked about Original Form. This concept is necessary in understanding the Zodiac. In the West, we are taught that the zodiac is a collection of constellations that form the ecliptic, the apparent Path of the Sun from the position of the Earth. In Traditional Wisdom, however, the physical constellations are not the True Zodiac, but only its physical reflection. As can be seen in the Ptolemy Model of Cosmos 2Traditional Model of the Cosmos, the Zodiac is above the level of the fixed stars.

The True Zodiac in the Western Tradition consists of the 12 Pure Types of the Axial Being. The constellations in the ecliptic are reflections of these Pure Types in the night sky.

Western Astrology does not use the actual physical constellations for the zodiac. Instead it uses a zodiac based on the seasons, which is called the Tropical Zodiac. Vedic Astrology does use the actual physical constellations, and this is known as the Sidereal Zodiac.* While astrology has always been practiced in one form or another, the first records of the casting of individual horoscopes are about 2,500 years old in the Middle East, and horoscopic astrology as we know it today has its origins in the Classical period in the Mediterranean. At that time, the Sidereal Zodiac and the Tropical Zodiac were closely aligned. Now, they are misaligned by about a sign. In the Tropical Zodiac at the Vernal Equinox, the Sun rises at 0 Aries. Now, depending on the calculations one uses, the constellation of Pisces is on the horizon at Sunrise at the Vernal Equinox. Hence, this is the “Age of Pisces.”

There is a physical reason for the misalignment and a metaphysical reason. The physical reason is due to a slight wobble in the Earth’s orbit, the fixed stars and constellations appear to move very, very slight amount every year. This is known as the Precession of the Equinoxes. The metaphysical reason is that physical manifestation is in constant flux and change, and the movement of time is a movement away from the Center and Perfection.

Modern Western scholarship would have us believe that the Ancients did not know and understand about the Precession of the Equinoxes, and this often used as a criticism of the practice of astrology. From a Traditionalist perspective, this is highly unlikely. Our forebears kept very close watch on the night sky, and were able to record and predict complicated phenomena such as Eclipses. Furthermore, the religious symbolism from each Age (the Sign at that rises at the Vernal Equinox) is consistent with the Age. An example of this is the symbol of the Fish used in Christianity during the Age of Pisces. Even in the unlikely case that the Ancients were unaware of the physical movement, they were most certainly aware of the metaphysical principles involved.

Western Astrology made a conscious decision to use the Tropical Zodiac, and within its own economy, this was the correct, and likely the only choice. The economy of Western astrology, particularly as passed down from Hellenistic Astrology, is quite dependent on the humors, which are tied to the seasons. Spring is hot and wet, Summer is hot and dry, Autumn is cold and dry, and Winter is cold and wet. The signs have qualities of both their element and their Season. For this system to work properly, the signs must be measured by the Seasons. The proper place for Aries is the first sign of Spring. Pisces, the least material and the coldest and wettest of the signs (cold and wet by both element and season), can not represent the start of Spring, even if the constellation is the rising Sign at the Spring Equinox.** It is interesting, but not surprising, that horoscopic astrology as we know it today seems to have begun when the Tropical Zodiac and the Sidereal Zodiac were more closely aligned.

On a slightly different topic, but also interesting, I think, is that in Japanese, the names for the signs and the physical constellations are clearly differentiated. The word for constellation is 星座 seiza. The first kanji 星 is the kanji for star and the second is 座, the kanji for sit/seat. So, in Japanese a constellation is a star seat. The names of the physical constellations all end in 座. The names of the Zodiac signs all end with the kanji 宮, which is the kanji for temple, shrine, or palace. One of the words for a horoscope is 天宮図 tenkyuuzu, or heaven palace map.

Below are the names for the constellations and corresponding Zodiac Signs in Japanese:

Aries

Constellation – 牡羊座 Ohitsujisa, Ram Seat

Zodiac Sign – 白羊宮 Hakuyoukyuu, White Sheep Palace

Taurus

Constellation – 牡牛座 Oushiza, Bull Seat

Zodiac Sign – 金牛宮 Kingyuukyuu, Gold Cow Palace

Gemini

Constellation – 双子座 Futagoza, Twins Seat

Zodiac Sign – 双児宮 Soujikyuu, Twins Palace

Cancer

Constellation – 蟹座 Kaniza, Crab Seat

Zodiac Sign – 巨蟹宮 Kyokaikyuu, Huge Crab Palace

Leo

Constellation – 獅子座 Shishiza, Lion Seat

Zodiac Sign – 獅子宮 Shishikyuu, Lion Palace

Virgo

Constellation – 乙女座 Otomeza Maiden Seat

Zodiac Sign – 処女宮 Shojokyuu Virgin Palace

Libra

Constellation – 天秤座 Tenbinza (Heaven) Scales Seat

Zodiac Sign – 天秤宮 Tenbinkyuu (Heaven) Scales Palace

Scorpio

Constellation – 蠍座 Sasoriza Scorpion Seat

Zodiac Sign – 天蠍宮 Tenkatsukyuu Heaven Scorpion Palace

Sagittarius

Constellation – 射手座 Iteza Archer Seat

Zodiac Sign – 人馬宮 Jinbakyuu Person Horse Palace

Capricorn

Constellation – 山羊座 Yagiza Goat Seat

Zodiac Sign – 磨羯宮 Makatsukyuu  (I am not really sure how to translate this. The first kanji is the kanji for demon/evil spirit, and the second is for an Ancient Chinese ethnic group, and is also found in the name of type of Japanese drum)

Aquarius

Constellation – 水瓶座 Mizugameza Water Vessel Seat

Zodiac Sign – 宝瓶宮 Houheikyuu  Vase/Handleless Japanese teapot Palace

Pisces

Constellation – 魚座 Uoza Fish Seat

Zodiac Sign – 双魚宮 Sougyokyuu Pair of Fish Palace

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*There are some Western astrologers who also use a Sidereal Zodiac, but the vast majority use the Tropical Zodiac, which was also used in Medieval and Renaissance Astrology.

**This raises the question as to the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed. It is interesting though, that the position of the waxing and waning Moon Phases are also reversed in the Southern Hemisphere.

Posted in Fundamentals, Genkei/Original Forms/Archetypes, Zodiac | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Original Forms/Archetypes

One of the fundamental concepts in the practice of astrology as a traditional sacred science is that of Original Form. The Japanese word for this concept is 元型, genkei, which is literally “original form/type.” This is the true and first meaning of the term, “archetype.”

The reason that I started with the phrase Original Form and the Japanese word is that when one says the word “archetype,” it is often immediately placed in the context of Jungian psychology. The concept of the Archetype is far deeper and older. Plato wrote about this concept, but he was explaining Traditional Wisdom that was already starting to become lost in his time. It has been said that astronomical “discoveries” such as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun have been a challenge for astrology; however, it is the Darwinian Pseudomythos of Evolution which has been far more devastating to astrology.

In the Apple Seed, I have previously discussed the Creation/Evolution debate in the context of Filianism and Feminine Essentialism. While this is important philosophically, it is crucial for astrology.

Egyptian catIt is not the Theory of Evolution itself that is devastating for astrology, but the Pseudomythos that has been built up around it, particularly in popular culture. There is nothing metaphysically untenable about more complicated forms coming from simpler forms.* An entire tree grows out of an acorn. What is metaphysically untenable, and unprovable, is that this came about by random “mutations” of which some survived and some did not. Even more untenable and unprovable is the extension of this Pseudomythos of random chaotic chance to the workings of the entire physical Universe.

Archetypes in the original and truest sense of the word are the Original Forms in the mind of the Creator. The Archetypes themselves are not manifest in the physical world, but everything in the physical world is a reflection of an Archetype. Cats are cats because they are reflections of the Cat Archetype, which originated in the mind of the Creator. While there are some Archetypes, such as the Princess or the Wheel, can come about through Axial Beings (“humans”), they originated with the Creator, who is far above physical manifestation.

Jungian psychological “archetypes” are said to come about through the “collective unconscious” of the human psyche, which does exist in Traditional metaphysical thought, but at a level below physical manifestation, not above. Jungian “archetypes” are limited to that which can be found in the human psyche and are derived from the Darwinian Pseudomythos. The Archetype of the Cat can not exist in the Jungian or Darwinian world.

This distinction is quite important. Everything depends upon it. Our astrological forebears can not be truly understood without a Traditional understanding of Archetypes, or 元型 “Genkei” Original Forms.

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*The “evidence” for this is not so iron-clad as the Modern “scientific world view” would have us believe; however, the debate is so heated in our current culture that I really wish to avoid the mare’s nest that a discussion of the “evidence” would bring, particularly surrounding “transitional forms,” as it is unnecessary for the premise of this article.
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A Second Look at Secondary Progressions: A Tale of Two Queens

In chart work, I have always looked at secondary progressions, but I was never able to glean much information out of them, except for a bit from the progressed Moon.  Recently, in my study of eclipses, I read The Eagle and the Lark, by Bernadette Brady, and I learned about the practice of reading the progressed chart in its own right, rather than just against the backdrop of the nativity chart.  Of particular interest was the practice of using the Lunar Phase of the progressed chart.  I had never tried this technique in the past, so I tested a few charts to see how this technique worked, and in the charts that I tried, I found it to be amazingly accurate.  So much so, that I was able to glean a tremendous amount of information from the progressed Moon Phase alone, without considering any other technique.  Other techniques provided additional information, but from what I could see, the progressed Moon Phase provided a broad brush backdrop against which other cycles could be analyzed.

Queen Mary I portrait

Princess Mary

The underlying Principle behind secondary progressions is deeply Traditional. Each day after the native’s birth represents the corresponding year of her life. A day is a microcosm of a year. One can even find this concept in the Judeo-Christian written tradition. Ezekiel 4:5-6.  The times of day also correspond to the seasons of the year.  Dawn corresponds with Spring, Noon corresponds with Summer, Sunset corresponds with Autumn, and Midnight corresponds with Winter.  Indeed, in most solar calendars, the start of the day and the start of the year correspond.  In modern Western culture, we start our year shortly after the Winter Solstice and our day at Midnight.  In the Jewish calendar, the year starts in Autumn, and the day at Sunset.  Astrologically, the new day starts at Sunrise, and the New Year at the Vernal Equinox.

Elizabeth_I_when_a_Princess

Princess Elizabeth

The beauty of the progressed Moon Phase is its simplicity.  It can be read in the same manner as the monthly Lunar Phase, only on a much larger scale.  Each Lunar Phase has analogies in the day and the year.  The New Moon corresponds to Spring and Sunrise, the First Quarter Moon to Summer and Noon, the Full Moon to Autumn and Sunset, and the Third Quarter Moon to Winter and Midnight.

The lives and reigns of Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I of England provide a clear illustration of the effect of the progressed Moon Phase.

Princess Mary

We begin our story with Princess Mary, who was born on February 18, 1516 OS. Queen Mary I She began her life as the beloved daughter of King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine, the first and only child born to them that would survive infancy. She was born under a Full Moon. When she was around nine years old and well into her progressed 3rd Quarter Progressed Moon Phase, it became clear that her mother would not give birth to any more children. This proved disastrous for the young Princess. Her father became enamored with Anne Boleyn, and her mother’s marriage was in jeopardy, as was her position.

Princess Mary’s progressed Moon would become New again in 1530. This would begin a new cycle that would last approximately 30 years. Shortly after this time, her mother was banished from court, and her mother’s rooms given to Anne Boleyn. The Princess was declared illegitimate and removed from the line of succession. As the Princess was in a progressed New Moon phase, this was not a temporary setback, but a reality that would dominate her next progressed Lunar Cycle, and as it turned out, the rest of her life.

 

Queen Elizabeth I NativityPrincess Elizabeth

Princess Elizabeth was born on September 7, 1933, as the daughter of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII. For a short time, she was the favored daughter and the heir presumptive. Her elder sister, now Lady Mary, was sent to be a part of her household. Yet, her time of favor was short lived. When she was two and a half years old, her mother was executed, and she like her elder sister, she was declared illegitimate and removed from the line of succession. At this time, her progressed Moon was near the end of the Full Moon phase, moving into the 3rd Quarter phase.

In October of 1537, Lady Elizabeth’s progressed Moon moved properly into the 3rd

Princess Mary Progressions April 1544

Princess Mary Progressions April 1544

Quarter Phase. At this time, her younger brother Prince Edward was born, who was the undisputed heir apparent. As Lady Elizabeth’s demotion occurred in the waning progressed Lunar Cycle, one could expect her fortune to change at the next progressed New Moon.

While Lady Mary did achieve some reconciliation with her father, along with some restoration of favor, her younger sister’s demotion did not restore her to the line of succession.

 

Princess Elizabeth Progressions April 1544

Princess Elizabeth Progressions April 1544

Restoration

In the spring of 1544, the Third Succession Act was approved by Parliament and passed by royal assent. This Act, backdated to 1543, restored both sisters to the line of succession, after their younger brother. At this time, Princess Mary was at the end of her progressed 1st Quarter Phase moving into the Full Moon Phase and Princess Elizabeth was at the end of her 3rd Quarter Phase moving into the next New Moon cycle.

For Princess Mary, this was the harvest, the height of the cycle. For Princess Elizabeth, this was a new beginning.

Queen Mary I Progressions August 1553

Queen Mary I Progressions August 1553

Queen Mary I

Queen Mary I ascended to the throne in August of 1553 after the death her brother and the defeat of Jane Grey. At this time, she was in her progressed 3rd Quarter Moon Phase. This did not bode well for a long reign. In contrast at the time, Princess Elizabeth was in her progressed 1st Quarter Moon. Queen Mary’s star was falling, and her sister’s star was rising.

As might be expected, Queen Mary I the first did not have a long reign. She died on November 17, 1558, without issue, when her progressed Moon was at its final stage of its cycle, the Dark Moon.

Princess Elizabeth Progressions 1553

Princess Elizabeth Progressions 1553

Queen Elizabeth I

At the time of Queen Mary’s death, Queen Elizabeth I was approaching a progressed Full Moon Phase. When she ascended to the throne, she was at the height and fullness of her power. As might be expected, her reign was long and influential.

When her progressed Moon reached the 3rd Quarter Phase, it became clear that she was not going to marry, and thus, not produce any bodily heirs.

Her next progressed Lunar Cycle began in January of 1574 with a progressed New Moon in Scorpio. Shortly before this time, Sir Francis Walsingham became her spymaster. This Cycle reached its height with the progressed Full Moon in 1588, the year of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. At the end of the Lunar Cycle, during the Dark Moon Phase, Queen Elizabeth I died, and like her elder sister, died without issue.

As an interesting historical tidbit, in 1620, there was nostalgic revival in the popularity of the late Queen Elizabeth I. Had she survived, this would have been right after her next progressed Full Moon Phase.

Posted in Application/Delineations, Historical Figures, Lunar Phases, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Mary I, Secondary Progressions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Sacred Mountain and the Jealous God

Every Sacred Mountain is THE Sacred Mountain.

Mount FujiThis is an important principle in Traditionalist philosophy. This can be a difficult concept to grasp, but how could it be otherwise? The Sacred Mountain is the place where Heaven and Earth meet. Whether one climbs Mount Sinai or Mount Fuji, one has climbed The Sacred Mountain. There is no need to climb a different Sacred Mountain, and if one did, it would be climbing The Sacred Mountain again, only in a different location. How could it be possible to climb the wrong Sacred Mountain? The idea seems almost absurd from this perspective.

One of the difficulties with the Abrahamic Traditions is the notion of a “Jealous God.” The “Jealous God” is a religious aberration and is not really found anywhere else. Now, for the serious devotee of any religion, it is important to see her religion as The Only Truth, which on one level is absolutely correct. In Abrahamic Traditions, however, this belief has become exclusionary, denying the Truth of other religions. Just because one’s religion is The Only Truth does not mean that other religions are not also True; and indeed The Only Truth as well.

Every Sacred Mountain is THE Sacred Mountain.

While I am not here to tell anyone how to conduct their religious affairs, the pervading belief in a Jealous God creates a difficulty and barrier to replanting astrology in the soil of Sacred Traditional Science. Once one begins to discuss her religion, a dispute is likely to begin. Many astrology groups and forums ban the discussion of religion for this reason. Yet, this does not create neutrality; it creates conditions by which one can only talk about astrology in a lifeless, mechanical way. This is a belief system in and of itself, which tends to be promoted by default.

What is worse is that often other matters substitute for the Jealous God. The Jealous God can be an astrological school of thought, a historical Great Astrologer, or even a specific astrological technique. When people jump to the defense of their Jealous God, in whatever form the Jealous God takes, discussion and communication become impossible.

On this site, I hope to explore ways to talk about the deeper, sacred aspects of astrology in a way that people from various religions, as well those who are not religious, will find useful and meaningful, but what I say may be challenging to many. While I have no wish to offend anyone, it is also important to speak clearly and directly.

One thing to remember is that astrology has survived, even into Modern times. It has survived, even in the West. Many of our tools have been lost. Many of the tools that remain have survived only in broken and battered form. In recent decades, many tools of the past have been recovered, and many more are in the process of being recovered. Still, in many cases, we do not yet know how to use them. Yet, by some miracle, we still have the ability to hear the Music of the Spheres. We may not hear it as clearly as we would like to, but we can still hear it. How can one not be humble and grateful? How can one not be in awe of such magnificence, grander and more beautiful than any human music?

The Music of the Spheres does not need our defense. We need only to listen and let the harmony flow through us. This is our calling as astrologers, and to me, is quite a humbling task. Carrying out that task to the best of our ability seems to me much more important than any of our differences.

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What Are Those Lights in the Sky?

When we look up at the sky, what do we see?

This question is fundamental to astrology, but it is also fundamental to….everything. How we see the stars is how we see ourselves.

I ask your indulgence as I share a clip from the Disney movie, The Lion King. This clip shows more clearly than any explanation the situation astrologers find themselves in.

For those not familiar with The Lion King, it is very loosely based on Hamlet, although, as it is a Disney movie, and not Shakespeare, it has a happy ending. At the point in the movie from which this clip is shown, Prince Simba’s uncle has murdered his father and has usurped the throne. After the murder, the Evil Uncle convinces Prince Simba, who was only a small cub at the time, that his father’s death was his fault. Racked with guilt, Prince Simba runs away and is saved by Timon and Pumbaa, who are the other characters in the clip. This clip takes place after Prince Simba has lived for a time with Timon and Pumbaa and has grown into an adult lion.

Like Prince Simba, astrologers are in exile. We are heirs to the legacy of Ancient Lore and Tradition, yet, we have been driven out of our kingdom by the usurper known as the Enlightenment. We are living in a world with the New Age movement on one side, who like Timon, confidently make up stories that have no basis in either physical fact or Sacred Tradition. On the other side, we have the Modern Darwinist majority, who like Pumbaa, tells us that the stars are simply “balls of gas millions of miles away,” with no life or consciousness, their movements devoid of meaning.

I think that most, if not all, astrologers, know deep in their Hearts that neither Timon or Pumbaa are right, even if we mock alongside our companions. Many of us have dedicated a significant portion of our time and our lives to the study of astrology, with little compensation in the form of respect or money. We would not do this if we truly believed that the stars were fireflies or merely lifeless balls of gas, millions of miles away. Yet, like Prince Simba, we can not help but be influenced by the voices of those around us, and we blame ourselves or other astrologers for our exile.

While Shakespeare wrote great literature, I have to say that I prefer the Disney version of the story. I believe in happy endings. Without spoiling the story for those who may not have seen it, I do think that astrologers can reclaim the great inheritance that we have been left by our forebears. I believe that a renewed understanding of the principles of Traditional Sacred Science is the key.

See also:

Traditional Astrology or Traditional Cosmology

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