The Path June 1894

THE REAL BASIS OF ASTROLOGY George E. Wright

In attempting to arrive at any philosophical explanation of Astrology it will be necessary for us to regard the solar system in several aspects. If, for instance, we were to consider the sun in a purely physical sense, we should find him to be the source of life and heat. He might also be conceived as the parent of the planets that lie within his circle of attraction, inasmuch as they are supposed to have originally sprung from him, according to the commonly-accepted Nebular Hypothesis. But having proceeded thus far, we have come to the end of knowledge regarding the Sun's properties so far as defined by astronomical science. In the same way taking up Saturn, Jupiter, and the other planets, we find that they have no relation with each other except such as is expressed by the general law of attraction. Astronomy is thus seen to be limited in its scope to the physical or the material aspect of the planetary bodies.

ASTROLOGY A HIGHER ASPECT

But is this all? Is there nothing beyond? May we not by careful study and analysis discover some elements existing in the sun and his satellites which are not recognized by materialistic science, and which may throw some light upon the problems of planetary existence? The ancients thought so, and the oldest science known and taught among men was the science of astrology. Just how far they reasoned out the rules governing the movements and influences of the planets we cannot tell. That part of astrology has never been divulged, being probably retained as something occult and pertaining to advanced initiation. What they did transmit was merely a set of empirical rules and statements which were essentially exoteric. Perhaps it was just as well, as in this Kaliyuga of physical science astrology was bound to be neglected, and sneered at, and denounced in any event, whether its rationale was revealed or kept secret. There has, however, been published one book in recent years wherein are given many hints and suggestions by which any student, if so inclined, might do much towards reconstructing the science of astrology and placing it upon a basis of reason instead, as it is now, of empiricism. I refer, of course, to the Secret Doctrine.

MICROCOSMIC ANALOGY

In all speculative inquiries, whether in the field of physics or metaphysics, there is no argument which appeals to reason more forcibly than that of analogy. "As above, so below." This phrase expresses the intimate relation and correlation between microcosm and macrocosm. Do we not recognize the fact that law and order permeate the universe? Students of occultism learn as one of their earliest lessons that Man is ever to be regarded as the microcosm and external Nature the macrocosm, or, in other words, that the same general laws or tendencies governing mankind are also exhibited in the natural world. This analogy being once clearly established, it is comparatively easy to understand that the planets and the Sun, like Man, may have a manifold constitution, and may be regarded in many different aspects. The astronomical view is manifestly the lowest, as it comprises only their physical or material attributes.

PLANETS VARIOUSLY DEVELOPED

Let us take as a starting-point, therefore, the well-known seven principles of Man. These may doubtless be applied to each of the planets. At first sight, this may seem perplexing and difficult to prove, at least in its entirety. Where, it may be asked, is the Atma or the Astral body of Saturn, for instance? This is a question that would be very hard to answer without a key. Fortunately that key is at hand. It is as follows: that while all of the seven principles are inherent in each planet, they may and probably do have different degrees of development. We know that in the stone and the plant and the animal these seven principles exist, though partly latent. In the animal kingdom, for instance, only the four lower principles have as yet found expression, the others remaining in abeyance or undeveloped. So, with the planets, it may be that only a partial development has as yet been attained in some, while others have reached a higher stage. This supposition is doubtless hypothetical, and of course cannot be proven by any appeal to the five senses; yet analogically it is extremely reasonable and more than probable. If it is so, and if the seven planets possess higher attributes distributed among them in varying degrees, then we can begin to understand, or, at any rate, obtain an inkling of, the real basis of astrology.

ORIGIN OF THE ZODIAC

Reference has been made to the Sun as the parent of his satellites. This is explained by the Nebular Hypothesis. It has been shown by Madame Blavatsky in the Secret Doctrine (Vol. 1, page 588) that the Nebular Hypothesis is a theory which only partially accounts for the formation of suns and planets generally. In reality, it only throws back the inquiry as to the origin of the Cosmos one step, leaving still unexplained the origin of matter, out of which nebulae were evolved. However, accepting the Hypothesis in its material aspect as probably true, we see how, in accordance with its provisions, the Sun, in turning upon its axis and at the same time moving forward in space, threw off or left behind at different epochs masses of nebulous matter which themselves revolved in the same direction around the Sun and gradually hardened into worlds. As these planets were stripped off from the Sun's equator, they must necessarily have passed off in the same direction into space, and consequently they have ever since moved upon the same plane, although at varying distances from the central nebula.

These planets are all revolving at varying rates of speed around the sun. Hence it follows that we upon the earth, in looking at the different planets, would always see them travelling in the same path across our apparent sky. That path, which extends about 8 degrees on each side of the ecliptic, is called the zodiac.

COMPOSITION OF THE SUN

If we proceed to view the different planetary bodies in a higher aspect than the merely astronomical, we shall find that they possess certain characteristics or properties which vary with their varying degrees of development. The Sun, for instance, has from time immemorial been known astrologically as the "giver of life." If this be a true denomination, then we must suppose that all life as it exists upon this, and doubtless upon other globes, is derived from the Sun. Life must come from some source, and certainly we cannot trace its origin anywhere on our earth. Yet the life principle is universally diffused, and may be detected in a greater or less degree of development in every atom of matter whether organic or inorganic. This would have been a bold statement to make in public only a very few years ago, but today it requires no argument, being generally admitted by the scientific world. Certainly the latest investigations of physicists tend to corroborate the ancient astrological theory of the origin of life. It is now conceded that the photosphere of the Sun is not composed of fire, as was so long supposed, but is a magnetic or electric envelop. Nor is it very difficult to believe that the phenomenon called life is a certain phase or differentiation of the same mysterious force which in its lowest physical manifestation is known as electricity. In an article on the "Source of Heat in the Sun" in the Popular Science Monthly, Mr. Robert Hunt, F.R.S., wrote as follows:

"Arago proposed that this envelop should be called the Photosphere, a name now generally adopted. By the elder Herschel the system of this photosphere was compared to mother-of-pearl. It resembles the ocean on a tranquil summer day, when its surface is slightly crisped by a gentle summer breeze. Mr. Nasmyth has discovered a more remarkable condition than any that had previously been suspected, objects that are peculiarly lens-shaped like willow-leaves, different in size, not arranged in any order, crossing each other in all directions, with an irregular motion among themselves The size of these objects gives a grand idea of the gigantic scale upon which physical operations are carried out in the Sun. They cannot be less than 1,000 miles in length, and from 200 to 300 miles in breadth. The most probable conjecture which has been offered respecting those leaf or lens-like objects is that the photosphere is an immense ocean of gaseous matter in a state of high incandescence, and that they are perspective projections of the sheets of flame. . , . But regarding Life Vital Force as a power far more exalted than either light, heat, or electricity, and, indeed, capable of exerting a controlling power over them all, we are certainly disposed to view with satisfaction that speculation which supposes the photosphere to be the primary seat of vital power, and to regard with a poetic pleasure that hypothesis which refers the solar energies to life."

From the above statement it may be seen how modern science treads upon the heels of ancient wisdom, astrology having always denominated the Sun as "hyleg," the giver of life.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE OTHER PLANETS

In the admission of this hypothesis of life as emanating from the Sun, we have at once stepped beyond and outside of the physical and material aspect of the great luminary. If all life proceeds from him, then each individual life must also depend upon the common origin, and we are launched upon the sea of astrology. The direct connection between the Sun, 93,000,000 miles distant, upon the health, and consequently to that extent upon the destiny, of every human being, is established. But the influence of other planets upon the inhabitants of earth is less easy of comprehension. Yet even here the law of analogy may hold to some extent. If the Sun has an acknowledged effect upon all of earth's people, the other planets should also possess some influence, even though in a varying degree. Notwithstanding their varying size, it is well known that the power of their attraction is sufficient to cause a considerable variation in the eccentricity of the earth's orbit, and if they possess such influence on the physical plane, why should they not have as much, or even greater, influence upon the astral or psychic plane? Astrology teaches that such is the case, and assigns to each planet a certain kind and degree of such influence. Thus the planet which we familiarly know as Mercury has in all ages and in all nations and in all languages stood as the representative of wisdom. In Sanskrit he was called Buddha, Lord of Wisdom; in Iranian or Chaldaean, Nebo, knowledge; in Egyptian, Thoth or thought. On account of his proximity to the Sun, he was said to receive seven times as much light and life as the earth. In modern exoteric astrology he governs the constructive, the inventive, the intuitive faculty which finds expression in literary or commercial excellence. Originality, at least such originality as can be said to exist, comes from Mercury, the "messenger of the gods".

In Venus is again exemplified the wonderful symbolism of the East. Hindu astrology from the earliest times considered this planet as having two aspects, in one being known as Sukra, the bright, the shining, and in the other and lower aspect as Usanas, desire. In these names are allegorized the dual and differing influences which Venus exercises upon humanity. In her higher aspect she is the "lesser fortune" of exoteric astrology, shedding a mild and benevolent ray upon the soul of man, inclining him to the gentler affections of family and kindred, and the ties of friendship and social intercourse. She thus lightens up a world otherwise dark, and too often full of sorrow and care. But in her character as Usanas she typifies the lower form of desire, which, carried to excess, leads to so much misery and wrong. This is the true explanation of the influence of Venus. Later astrologers lost the key and confused her significations. Sukra-Usanas became Lucifer-Venus, and the dual name was thought to refer only to her appearance at various seasons in the year as evening and as morning-star. The name Venus was derived directly from Usanas, and Sukra, the shining one, became Lucifer, the bright, the morning-star. And then, last of all, the church took a hand and formulated a theory or, rather, a myth - whichever you choose to call it still further degrading the noble conception of the early Aryan star-gazers. She decided that, as the loftier aspects of Venus had disappeared from Latin astrology and only the grosser aspect prevailed, Lucifer should be considered as a fallen angel, as a basis for the myth of Satan, in fact; and that idea has descended to the present day among even the orthodox Protestants, who are not generally aware of its Romanist origin.

In the name of Jupiter is found an argument for the Hindu claim to the invention of astrology. The Latin word "Jupiter" is borrowed from Greek mythology, where the father of the gods is called "Zeus pater," but this is manifestly a direct copy from the Sanskrit "Dyaus pitar," father of heaven, an epithet of Indra. The word "Zeus" has no meaning, but "Dyaus" in Sanskrit has a very definite interpretation. The root "div" means "to shine", and hence its application to the sky. Our word "day" is directly evolved from it. In the same way the Aryans, reverencing the sky with all its starry host, came to regard it as "divine", and "dyaus", which originally meant bright and shining, passed into Greek as Zeus, the god of gods. Astrology very appropriately considers Jupiter as governing the religious faculty in Man, and he also indicates judgment and reason. He is the greater benefic, and his influence under favorable directions is always for the highest and most permanent good. The Sun may bring glory, and Mercury may induce fame, but Jupiter confers more lasting and substantial benefits by penetrating the inner nature and stimulating the spiritual growth.

In Saturn we have the antithesis of Jupiter. He is the "greater infortune", and, indeed, to his baleful influence may be traced nearly all of the misfortune with which humanity is afflicted. The name "Saturn" can be traced to Sut or Sut-Typhon, the dragon of Egyptian mythology, the evil spirit, the spirit of darkness, from which Christianity educed the conception of the devil, even borrowing the very name and calling this personage Satan. Yet Saturn did not originate in Egypt. Like almost every other important mythical idea and metaphysical thought, we can trace this one back to India, where Asita, the evil one, means literally that which is black. To this day in exoteric astrology Saturn always represents a dark person. And even such a simple, everyday word as soot, in English, the black particles of smoke deposited in chimneys, comes from the same ancient source. So, too, Saturn's day has always been the seventh day of the week in all nations and all languages. Among the Egyptians Sut-Typhon was so dreaded that his day was set apart for special prayer and worship, a custom which was subsequently taken up by the Hebrews and continued by them up to the present time.

The etymology of Mars is equally interesting. Of course we are familiar with its Greek form, "Ares", which doubtless came from the Egyptian Artes. Yet neither of these names has any inherent significance. It is only when we again refer to the Sanskrit that light appears. Here the name appears as Ava, and it means primarily a corner, an angle, hence anything sharp or cutting. This gives us the key to the influence of Mars. He is not peaceful and pleasant, but quarrelsome and sudden. He presides over battles as the Roman god of war, and in sickness he produces violent and sharp attacks such as fevers and apoplexy. All lingering diseases are due to Saturn. Therefore is Mars termed the "lesser infortune." The good aspects of Mars, however, confer advancement in military life, and sometimes even produce marriage, but in the latter case there is seldom any real affection, marriage being suddenly brought about by an influx of mere passion. It is an aphorism in astrology that people born with Mars in Aries on the ascendant always have a scar upon the face. The reason for this is said to be that when Mars comes exactly to the ascendant he causes an accident, and as Aries rules the head, it will take the form of some cut or bruise which will show through life upon the countenance.

Although the earth is not usually considered in exoteric astrology to have any influence, at least upon the lives of its own inhabitants, it may be interesting to know that our planet, like the others, possesses marked characteristics. How gratifying it would be to us if we could only define those characteristics as being of a lofty and noble order. But alas! such is not the case. From the most ancient times the earth has stood for all that is ignoble and material and base and unspiritual. In order not to offend the susceptibilities of people, dwellers upon this globe "of the earth earthy" astrology has kindly cast a veil over our weakness, and hidden under the disguise of an assumed name the symbol which designates our planet and its influence. The term "part of fortune" expresses to a limited degree the nature of that influence It does, indeed, represent the merely temporal prosperity of the native. It measures, so to speak, the exact size of the pile of dollars or other kinds of money and property which each person is able to accumulate in a lifetime. The existence of the Part of Fortune is disputed by some modern astrologers on the ground that it is purely a figment of the imagination, yet Claudius Ptolemy laid great stress upon it, and as he derived his rules from Egyptian and Chaldaean predecessors, it would seem as though there must be some foundation for it.

HELIOCENTRIC AND GEOCENTRIC ASTROLOGY

The mere fact of the Part of Fortune, or Earth, being included in all ancient horoscopes is an indication that at one time astrology was based upon the heliocentric system. According to the present geocentric theory which constructs a horoscope about the earth as a centre, it would seem absurd to introduce the same Earth again in the same horoscope as a planet or satellite of itself. Yet if at a remote epoch the heliocentric system was in vogue, the Earth would certainly figure along with Mars, Venus, and the other planets. And if, then, at a subsequent period the science was purposely or ignorantly muddled by being changed into a geocentric scheme, the Earth might very naturally survive as a feature of the horoscope, changed only in name to the Part of Fortune.

The principal objection urged against astrology at the present day is the fact that it implies a geocentric arrangement of the heavens. We all know how Copernicus revolutionized modern astronomy by introducing, or perhaps revamping, the heliocentric theory, and everyone knows what a tremendous step forward was thus taken in our knowledge and understanding of the movement of all bodies in our solar system. And it is therefore quite natural to denounce astrology as false because it still adheres to the geocentric arrangement. Yet the comparison is not entirely perfect. We mortals are dwelling upon this Earth, and according as the other planets revolve and focus upon us their rays, so are we, according to the astrological theory, affected. So, to all intents and purposes, we may truly consider them as circling around the earth as a centre, and in that fashion construct our horoscopes. If we were living upon Mars, it would be equally appropriate to place Mars in the centre, and likewise if we were denizens of the Sun we would put the Sun in the centre, in which case we would have truly and as a matter of fact a system of heliocentric astrology.

I have brought forward this view of the subject to show that astrology should not be condemned solely on account of its geocentric proclivities, and to answer the criticism of R. A. Proctor and other scientific writers. Yet, having made that defense, I am ready to admit that the astrology of the future will probably be heliocentric. The cycles and epicycles of Ptolemy answered their purpose for fifteen hundred years, and afforded a tolerably reasonable account of the motions of the planets. So, too, and perhaps in a yet greater degree, geocentric astrology has fulfilled the necessary conditions of horoscopy. Various attempts, on the other hand, have been made to construct a heliocentric system, but so far without success.

PRECESSION OF THE EQUINOXES

Another objection frequently brought against astrology is the fact that by means of the precession of the equinoxes the signs of the zodiac have since the time of Ptolemy passed entirely out of the constellations after which they were named. This appears to be a more difficult question to meet than the previous one. Yet Ptolemy was fully aware of this constant change in the position of the signs, for he distinctly provided in the Tetrabiblos for this contingency. He said in Book I, Chap. xii.:

"The beginning of the whole Zodiacal circle (which in its nature as a circle can have no other beginning or end capable of being determined) is, therefore, assumed to be the sign Aries which commences at the vernal equinox."

It will thus be seen that Ptolemy, and doubtless other astrologers before him, considered the influence of the Zodiacal signs as belonging to the places which they occupied, and not to the stars of which they were composed.

Ashmand says: "He (Ptolemy) has expressly and repeatedly declared that the point of the vernal equinox is ever the beginning of the Zodiac, and that the 30 degrees following it ever retain the same virtue as that which he has in this work attributed to Aries, although the stars forming Aries may have quitted those degrees. The next 30 degrees are to be accounted as Taurus, and so of the rest. There is abundant proof throughout the Tetrabiblos that Ptolemy considered the virtues of the constellations of the Zodiac as distinct from the spaces they occupied."

DIRECTIONS AND TRANSITS

Predictions in astrology are based upon three kinds of aspects, which are known respectively as primary and secondary directions and local transits. These follow an obscure and inexplicable law of cycles, and, while apparently distinct, are in reality greatly dependent upon each other; so much so, that if an astrologer consults but one kind, he will obtain very unsatisfactory and uncertain results. Primary directions depend upon the revolution of the earth upon its own axis every twenty-four hours. In that time each planet apparently travels completely around us, making a circuit of 360 degrees. As in twenty-four hours these pass over the meridian 360 degrees, in one hour they will pass over 15 degrees, and one degree being equal to one-fifteenth of an hour, is therefore equivalent to four minutes. One degree of right ascension is considered equal to one year of time. Hence an error of four minutes in the time of birth will cause an error of one degree of right ascension or of one whole year in the subsequent life of the native. This is why it is so essential to know the exact moment of birth before drawing up a horoscope, or at least before attempting to forecast future events. And the lack of this information has been the cause of so many failures of astrologers in the past to accurately predict important occurrences. Fortunately there are rules by which the exact moment of birth may be ascertained and the truth of primary directions vindicated.

It is comparatively easy to compute secondary directions. They are said to be "merely the aspects formed by the Sun or Moon within a few weeks after birth by their proper motion in longitude in the heavens." But this definition fails to convey any meaning to the ordinary reader. I would add in explanation that, following the same law of cycles as is manifested in primary directions, although in a slightly different aspect, each day succeeding birth is considered as equivalent to a year of subsequent life. Thus the tenth day after birth will show events that will happen in the tenth year, the twentieth day the twentieth year, and so on. Secondary directions indicate affairs of secondary importance, yet whose effects last several weeks or months, while primary directions denote the greater occurrences and epochs of a career, frequently extending over a series of years, during which time a person is said to be uniformly lucky or unlucky as the case may be.

Local transits are extremely simple and are generally employed by professional astrologers. They are based upon the direct motion of the planets around the Sun. While to the observer of the heavens night after night the planets which are visible appear to retain about the same relative position to each other, in reality they are moving onward at varying rates of speed, and each night take a slightly different position. While our earth completes the circuit of the Sun in one year, it takes about thirty years for Saturn to finish his orbit. Each planet has a different rate of speed. Hence the combinations of position that arise daily are practically infinite. The local transits are the transits of one planet over the place of another in any nativity. They produce the minor events of life, the daily cares, annoyances, triumphs, and joys which everyone has, but which do not as a rule occasion any lasting effect. If, however, there is a coincidence of several evil transits at about the same time, particularly if the primary and secondary directions are also bad, then serious results may be expected. It is said that even primary directions cannot take effect without having transits of a similar nature to work through, and on this many professional astrologers ignore primary directions altogether, claiming that the local transits furnish all the data required for making predictions. In reality the reason for such omission is the difficulty of computing such primary directions. Local transits, on the other hand, require no mathematical skill or labor. The positions of the planets from day to day are given in every ephemeris or almanac published.

EMPIRICAL RULES

It may be inferred from the foregoing hasty sketch of the main features of astrology that there is much in the science, as at present taught and practised, which cannot be understood. We read the rules laid down in the books, but no analysis is able to make clear to us their reason. Taking the aspects, for instance, no one can tell why a square, which implies four, should consist of only three signs of the Zodiac, while trine, implying three, should in reality embrace four signs or houses. Many other perplexing features arise to embarrass the student. It may be admitted without argument that a large part of the science is empirical. We have simply inherited a mass of rules and aphorisms which may be applied blindly, and our only consolation is that when properly used they generally bring about results which tally with the actual facts. We may not know why a certain direction in some person's horoscope will produce decidedly good or malefic effects, but that such effects are produced is proven to us again and again, until even the most skeptical must acknowledge the verification. Perhaps the empiricism is incident to the materialism of the age. It may be that with greater psychic development, or at any rate development of the intuitive intelligence, many of these blind rules will be made plain.

PRESENT ASTROLOGICAL STATUS

In the meanwhile it is not by any means safe to sneer at this most ancient of all sciences, or even to belittle its importance at the present day. The mistakes of professional astrologers, the vain pretenses of vulgar charlatans, the lack of earnest and thorough study on the part of those who are by nature qualified to succeed in it, are all drawbacks which combine to hide a knowledge of astrology from, the world at large, and thus render it essentially occult. Yet no one can investigate its claims in an unprejudiced spirit, or even pursue the study of it to a limited extent, without coming across sufficient evidence to prove that there is really something in it, that it is not all a mere imaginary scheme. Individual assertion is, of course, of little value in a matter of this kind, else the testimony of the wisest men of all ages would not be so contemptuously disregarded as it is by the self-sufficient, materialistic, scientific writers of today. Doubtless there is room for improvement in the art and practice of astrology as it is now set forth, yet the errors and misconceptions of its practitioners are far more than outweighed by the constant verification of its rules and principles. What it wants is not ignorant abuse and denunciation, but serious investigation and study. Perhaps the twentieth century, whose dawn is already heralded by a widening of the range of human thought and a breaking down of the old walls of bigotry, will develop some intuitive soul who will see through the veils of empiricism by which astrology is now obscured, and so lift it up to the plane where it rightfully belongs as one of the keys to the mysteries of life and cosmic evolution.


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