Astrology: the Sacred Art
Astrology: the Sacred Art
acknowledging the sacred in each moment
Astrology is a sacred art – and it is a sacred science. In this challenging article, Neil Giles argues that its disciplined study reveals the right path by revealing the turnings of the wheel of life. To act as the Heavens reveal is to take right action, acknowledging the sacred in each moment. Now, read on...
The priest, the soldier and the prostitute are thought to be the members of the three oldest professions in the world. However popular this myth may be, it is incorrect. There is a fourth 'oldest' profession, one that may in fact be older than the ancient institutions of church, army and brothel. This fourth profession is that of the astrologer. Believe it or not, believe in it or not, astrology has been around since the beginning of the 'civilized' world and probably originated long before human beings began to live together in cities (the meaning of the word 'civilization').
Astrology has served, in one way or another, the other three antiquarians of church, army and brothel. The astrologer has been a priest in some cultures. Great soldiers in history have consulted the astrologer. Great generals of the ilk of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar sought the guidance of the stars. As far as prostitution is concerned, the astrologer has no doubt consorted with prostitutes for one reason or another and has also prostituted the venerable art of this elder science by filling Sunday Papers and Women's magazines with entertaining daily forecasts. In fact, there is a traditional astrological discipline for daily forecasting, though this is by nature general in that it must cover the activities of one twelfth of the population for each forecast. However, it is also important to note that not all astrologers practise it well. Also, it should be noted that actual astrologers do not always write the forecasts in magazines and newspapers, so what is written is thus not astrology, no matter what the papers call it. You have to read the label before you know the worth of the goods.
Astrology in History
It's important to remember that despite modern-day skepticism, astrology has a long and venerable history. The greatest thinkers and philosophers of Greece and Rome were astrologers. In the Elizabethan and Stuart eras in British history, every trained physician was an astrologer. The greatest herbalist in the history of medicine, Nicholas Culpeper, was a gifted astrologer. Galileo Galilei was astronomer and astrologer. Sir Isaac Newton was both astrologer and alchemist while busily at work inventing calculus and discovering the laws of gravity. Napier, inventor of logarithms, was an astrologer. Even in the body of the Catholic Church which has both decried and condemned the art of astrology in more recent times, two great theologians, Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas saw the practice of astrology as consistent with a belief in God. Nonetheless, the Church still condemns the ancient art and many modern Christians believe it to be the devil's work.
Science has taken a hand in the proceedings as well. The 'age of reason' relegated astrology to the realms of superstition and even now many scientists take obsessive and irrational delight in pouring scorn upon its practice in order to disprove it. Regardless of these assaults, astrology is resurgent in the current era. For anyone who reads, watches TV or surfs the net, there are readings, predictions and services of all kinds. Every island of information in the seemingly endless stream of 'dot.coms' across the worldwide web has the daily blast for each sign of the Zodiac. Despite the fact that many people claim not to believe in it, astrology is more than ever a subject widely written upon and widely read.
Where Did It Begin?
The first people to tabulate the movements of the Sun, Moon and planets against the backdrop of the Heavens were astrologers. From this parent science grew the child we know as astronomy. Whether they like it or not, modern astronomers owe the origins of their craft to astrologers.
The Sumerian people of five thousand years ago were the first practitioners of astrology known to accredited history, though it is clear many of the ancient peoples were keen and skilled heavenly observers – even if nowadays we don't understand how they made their observations, or how they used them.
The intent and function of the ancient practice of astrology has always been to divine a relationship between humankind and the natural world. The ancient peoples first used the science of astrology to make forecasts – predictions about the future – but soon developed the sacred art into a tool that could be used to understand the individual nature with its tendencies and abilities, weaknesses and strengths. They did this by making a map of the human psyche based on the map of the Heavens. They also used astrology for decision-making and guidance, working with the understanding that there are natural cycles and patterns to the operations of the universe that can be read by reading the relationships between its various moving and living bodies.
Just as there are beneficial times to plant, to sow, to harvest, to clear land, so there are beneficial times to plan, to review, to begin a new project and to marry. This does not mean that these events cannot take place without these auspices. Quite the contrary! We can do as we like, but there will be a cost. The farmer who plants out of season will harvest a poor crop. Astrology does not control our lives, but the heavenly movements symbolized in astrology help to shape us as they shape our circumstances. They do this in accord with the pattern of unfolding movements in the cosmos of which we are a part. Now, more than ever, we bear witness to the cost of trying to bend the seasons and the Earth herself to our will. How high must those costs become before we begin to seriously analyze our relationship with the time it takes to do something and the expectations created by the technology of the modern era?
The Modern Revolution
What do you really need?
We live in a world that was to be revolutionized by the introduction of chemical insecticides and fertilizers. Yet, while we have barely begun to come to terms with the damage inflicted on the Earth and the human constitution by the myopia of such thinking, we surge ahead like hyperactive children forever racing to the shop for more sugar-coated treats. Now, we're toying with cloned animals and human beings, and a diet of genetically-engineered food. Isn't it time forward planning came to mean a time period of something more than the duration of a television commercial break?
And how safe is the high-speed technology of creation, destruction and dissemination in the hands of a culture that has had artificial light for little more than a century and has still arguably not come to terms with its impact on the human and animal community? How much are the current stresses on both individuals and societies in the modern era a function of the fact that artificial light has simply given us so much more time to fill. As a consequence, we race from one diversion to the next, sublimely ignorant of the possibility that darkness may have given more release to the human psyche than we realized. These are not in themselves criticisms of technology so much as they are part of a critique of a style human behaviour evident in the modern world, one that tends to forgo serious analysis of long term impact for the sake of immediate gratification, profit or apparent release from boredom.
The Chemical Trade
Once upon a time we searched for evidence that a new food or medicine did no harm before it was introduced. Now corporations demand absolute proof of the harm such things do (usually by people dying) before they will consider taking them off the market. It is now considered mandatory to take a drug to deal with pain rather than simply treat the condition that causes the pain, based on the belief that in the modern world we simply do not have time to stop for nurture and healing. We have pills and potions that can suppress the symptoms of almost any condition known to man, woman or beast, yet we still cannot allow ourselves the three things most important for the healing journey... rest, inner work and attention to the spirit. Are we going to keep buying the lie that suppressing symptoms is more important than treating the cause because it takes less time? Are we going to end by having our children believe that taking painkillers and having warm milk on packaged breakfast cereal are genuine life choices?
'Get over it', 'Put it behind you' and 'Soldier on' are catch phrases that scream from every advertising campaign, be it mainstream or 'new age'. However, it's instructive to remember that the phrase 'Soldier on' is one that sends troops to the front line to be shot, coined by a commander-in-chief who never set foot in the trenches. Why does everything always have to go faster? Why do we always have to put the bar higher? Why must profits always increase? How much of 'more', 'better' and 'higher' will ever be enough? If we keep seeking the unreachable pinnacle of the supreme achievement, will we ever know the sublime embrace of being in harmony with the web of life? Is a simple existence lived in tune with the cycles of nature somehow worth less than the life of a multibillionaire or an athlete who can run a hundred metres in less than nine seconds? Enough questions! When will we take time to consider the answers?
Souls in Harmony with Time
In Harmony with Time
Astrology is a tool through which we can learn to live and work in harmony with both the environment and with time itself. It is a tool by which cycles of time can be perceived in a way essentially different from knowing the date because we read the newspaper, or because it's only two hundred and three more shopping days till Christmas. Astrology is both an intuitive art and a sacred science that can illuminate something of our nature and purpose as beings.
Astrology will not make decisions for us. We are the ones who must think and act. But astrology can inform our choices and guide our hands by showing us what is possible and when it is possible. The essential point to remember is that astrology is a sacred art. Thus it can give us a sense of taking right action in a situation, moving in accordance with the patterns of a greater power or presence.
The Wheel Turns
If the Heavens reveal that Neptune, the mystic planet, squares the Moon in your birth chart, you may gain greatly through attention to spiritual and creative matters. But, there will be frustrations or delay, especially with emotional and domestic matters. You will need to take things slowly, being cautious with major decisions, perhaps reflecting on the past and discerning lessons from the patterns there. You may be confused, tired or experience ill-health. Above all, you will not be able to forge ahead regardless of the consequences. No amount of positive thinking will alter this advice yet, if you follow it, you can gain in understanding. You can treat it positively but you cannot alter its influence. The challenge of Neptune is like moving through a fog. If you run, you'll fall or lose your way. But, if you feel the path ahead, opening yourself to sense or perceive things in a different way, you'll discover new parameters in your world and a new kind of journey. But, in doing so, you may have to give up goals or beliefs that were previously important to you as part of the journey of change.
So too, if Saturn moves into opposition with Venus in your birth chart, you'll need to re-evaluate where you are with money and relationships. You will encounter obstacles. You will be restrained from having what you want and may experience a separation or perhaps disaffection in primary relationships. You will have to take the views or actions of others into account. You will have to deal with the consequences of the past and past action. It doesn't matter how high you set your sights or how much you push yourself, you will still have to deal with such issues, negotiating in a careful and patient manner until the path ahead is clear.
These two are examples of challenging aspects. There are of course positive aspects that free us to enjoy, aspire and strike while the iron is hot. If Jupiter conjoins Venus or the Sun, you will forge ahead with joyful opportunity. If Uranus harmonizes with Mercury, your mind will be charged with excitement and new ideas. The point is that our best course is to act in accordance with the influences, not pretend they don't exist. Thus, astrology in the end is a paradigm that requires belief in order to gain its greatest rewards.
The Heavenly Man
A basic acquaintance with astrology can prove to any open-minded person that it works, even if we don't quite understand why. A deeper acquaintance will teach us that we are entering a paradigm of faith, not in astrology as such, but in a connection with the Source of all-embracing consciousness from which we come and to which we all must inevitably return. On this journey, sometimes there will be suffering and sometimes joy. To believe that the unabated happiness of having what we want is the right of all is a childish notion. However, to know the joys of embracing each turning of the wheel, regardless of what it brings, is the way to the enlightenment of the mind and the illumination of the spirit.
The Sacred Science
Astrology is a sacred science. Its disciplined study reveals the right path by revealing the turnings of the wheel of life. To act as the Heavens reveal is to take right action, acknowledging the sacred in each moment. Some come to the art of astrology knowing these truths. Others come, fearful that somehow their lives will be taken over. However, if we put aside such fears, then astrology is one means, one of many, by which the greater truths are revealed. If we live in accord with their behest, we can experience a liberation of spirit through the knowledge that we fulfill our part in the patterns of the sacred dance.
One of astrology's greatest lessons is that some of the best things are worth waiting for. The best peaches come from a tree in the height of summer. No amount of impatience will change that. Another of astrology's greatest lessons is to teach us that the gravest consequences of any human endeavour will only make themselves clear in time. How long is a unit of time in this regard? We may not know now, but the future will certainly tell us. With the sacred art of astrology, we can read such a future before it occurs and make another choice.
This is the end of the article