Although the shamanistic aspect of astrology – or, more properly, astrologers and that aspect of their practice – isn’t really the subject here (there is an astro-shamanism discussion area), it is a good idea to separate that out from what might be this forum’s exploration of synthesizing currently-developing science and currently-developing astrology. There has been a continuing undertone of disrespect and misunderstanding of each area toward the other that is neither productive nor necessary. Geoffrey Dean was, indeed, the first to make a really heroic effort to explore a rapprochement between science and astrology in his landmark book (I got my first formula for calculating the Angles on an HP calculator from it!), didn’t find one then and still hasn’t (go immediately and see his updated work on same at http://rudolfhsmit.nl/index.html
). Ultimately, it hasn’t made much of a dent on two sides that don’t understand each other, don’t really want to, and yet claim to. Maybe we can explore some new paths here to avoid all the dead ends already enthused-over.
I have often chided astrologers who would cozy up to science (particularly the social sciences) in the interest of getting greater recognition, even to the point of selling out, and “Jungian” astrologers would be on my short list there. I equally distance myself from the likes of CSICOP and professional skeptics whose bottom line is that science is a fully-written and closed book, into which astrology just doesn’t fit.
Astrologers, in personal consulting practice, have always been at the center of this stage, giving guidance based on various forms of belief in the correspondence of human affairs with planetary position and movement. In Classical and even Renaissance times they were even at the heart of a universal theory of how the world was constructed, which included medicine, and other sciences and arts, all of a piece. Beginning in the 17th century, changes in the understanding of physics, chemistry, and math and the development of instruments to expand the physical windows on the world temporarily has wrecked that universal outlook, and astrology with it, and medicine only barely made it out alive by first buying into chemistry (with Paracelsus) and then the miracles of the microscope. The fortuitous technology to keep astrology in the evolving fold never arrived, partially because its claims are so much greater and harder to extract from those new, first-generation physical tools.
I bring in the parallel with medicine, because of the rise of the use of the term shamanism in application to astrology and other divinatory and revelatory arts. Until the last couple of decades, shamans were strictly part of primitive and primarily oral (that’s important) Siberian culture, with the label broadly used to cover other traditions of medicine men and witch doctors. Now, especially in the wake of Joseph Campbell, anybody that claims to be something in the order of a life coach, by whatever method, is calling himself a shaman. Of course, the real Western cultural shamans of the last century or so have been the doctor with his little black bag, the priest or minister, and the psychiatrist. And most modern astrologers tend to be an alternative version of one of those, with a different story, but without portfolio.
Of course, there is the Tibetan mystic tradition that you are a part of which was largely and inaccurately co-opted by Theosophy, Steinerism, and the like, which you can explain better than I. Regardless of the details, using astrology as a traditional form of wisdom to help better understand the human condition and counsel those in need of getting a better handle on their existence is what it is and will remain so. Those who do it well, regardless of technique, and in so doing help people get in touch with themselves (or whatever), are the heart of the profession, surrounded by a host of charlatans. The same goes for many of the other divinatory arts which also draw on forms of human symbolism and understanding mixed with the always-astonishing (because unexplained) occasional astonishing accuracy as well as general good advice.
As a practitioner, I tend to those who need guidance with a combination of all I think I know and have experienced from looking at charts and the people who went along with them. In conjunction I use all possible skills of basic counseling, the occasional bit of showmanship (selective techniques of the charlatan here, like the placebo in medicine, are perfectly acceptable tools in a good cause), combined with as much referential material as I can collect on resources to draw on in the usual areas of inquiry (sex, jobs, organization, human relations) as applied to the details of the client’s life. I could only have written Planets In Love
, for instance, because I also spent three years as managing editor at Sexology Today
in daily contact with the leading sexual medicine doctors and psychologists of the day. Every practitioner has his own style, and mine is on the materialistic and skeptical side, so I say I’m giving good advice and a form of life weather forecasting which should be mixed and constantly reset with a large dose of daily reality. I’m good at it, but for me it’s just part of gathering information on the larger picture to figure out how it all works. I’m not trying to transmit a lineage (that’s my music part, elsewhere), just working on the building, so to speak.
What I am not is a shaman, simply because that’s not the path I was put on. Not because I’m either a skeptic or a believer, but because of two very specific (and suspiciously Tibetan-looking) visions I had quite early on that among other things laid out science and religion as branches of the same tree and for me to go there, for life. Apostolic Studios didn’t get that name just for its twelve tracks (and it wasn’t Christian, either, just a start). So, in final answer to your question, the shamanistic element is fine by me, and it is certainly a major part of the key appeal of astrology for most people, and at the heart of the matter, much of its reason for being, though not specifically my path.
My take on science and astrology, on this forum, is that they both need to find truly common ground, lacking so far for both social and technical reasons, instead of competing for legitimacy, in order to accomplish what the ideal of both science and religion is, and that is find out the truth, what is actually there, what actually happens, by whatever means necessary to dig up to accomplish it.