This note is meant as a transitional thought, an attempt to link the previous thread to an upcoming one (or more) on the relationship of Language to Astrology to Soul.
How does the considerations of Soul and astrology apply to the chart, to ME? So far, the answer seems to be maybe, maybe not. The two big hurdles we have to deal with here is first the perennial jolt encountered when transitioning from theoretical to practical and back again, and second, the appositeness of the ‘me’ to merit such an application. Presuming we can solve these issues, we will have to establish a coherent means of mapping the soul to the language of astrology and vice-versa.
As it happens, this last remark is our best hope of finding a key: language. Let us agree that all the definitions of Soul, while indeed diverse are nonetheless true and finite. Language, on the other hand, cannot be said to be true or false: how exactly might a comma or the letter “r” be a truth or a falsity – or an illusion? Such judgments don’t exclusively apply to language when it is used as a tool for communication. For example, if we can separate the language I’ve used to describe the truths of Soul from those truths themselves and apply the language of astrology instead, we’ll be well on our way towards finding the presence of soul in astrology.
That’s one adjustment; here’s the other: with or without the tool of astrology how might Soul apply to ME? If the answer is: it doesn’t, then trying to make astrology link the two is impossible from the outset. The other answers (that I can think of) are: it does, it can, it could possibly, and it can if the right means are actively employed to do so. (The responses: “there is no Soul” and “there is no me” while viable from certain perspectives do nothing to further the line of enquiry I’m pursuing, so I’ll set them aside for the nonce.) Furthermore, all of these answers might be in play at the same time—in fact, I think they are. To wit: The soul does NOT apply to the ego as an unreflective byproduct of natural instincts, the unconscious, and the collective consciousness. The soul can apply to the ego, or rather to the mind-body complex when the latter gains reflective consciousness and some degree of rational training, by which I mean the evolution of the will, the intellect, or the heart beyond the natural capacities and contents provided by nature, the body, and the collective. The soul could possibly initiate and aid in this evolution, but doesn’t always seem to do so—in spite of the efforts of outer and inner agents (i.e. oneself, teachers, and circumstances). Finally, and almost as a response to this latter, the soul can if the right means arise—when the explanation, initiation, feeling-tone, or catalytic event appropriate to that individual occurs, then there is an awakening to the soul. Whether that awakening is further developed is another question, and seems to reactivate all the above options all over again…and again…and again.
All this is from the viewpoint [sic] of soul in relation to the ego. How about from MY viewpoint? Well, we enter the context of the irrational pretty directly, since that’s what the ego is built upon and is nourished by. In fact it is a bit dishonest to equate the word ‘ego’ with ‘me;’ the former presumes a rational or objective meaning, the latter is the fundament of irrational and non-objective content. My viewpoint, then is quasi-solid ground of my experience, a concrete mix of ‘why me’ interspersed with sparkly bits of ‘sweeet!’ painted with a little ‘thank you god,’ and tagged with ‘god hates me anyway’ in a couple of places. And so on. Until the ‘me’ it at least partially objective, partially accessible to and influenced by the rational and civilizing faculties of consciousness, there is no question of the ‘me’ relating to anything. The irrational ‘me’ perpetually relates all contents to itself, but never itself to any other content, for it cannot perceive itself as a content amongst other contents or as truly secondary to any ‘other.’ In this state the soul’s influx is largely experienced as a ‘somehow or other’ or ‘because I deserve it’ or ‘even though I don’t deserve it,’ or just ‘WTF?’ Such marginally articulate and fundamentally irrational responses are pretty worthless as far as mapping them to any system goes. The connection to the soul may happen, it may not, and we may or may not know that it did, is, or could—much less have the capacity to assimilate or retain such a moment should it transpire. This means we cannot meaningfully reference the soul from a purely ego-centric perspective expressed as ‘me.’
Fortunately, we are more than the ego; we do have conscious faculties and unconscious instincts, which are at least somewhat benign—and of course we have the light of the soul itself in there somewhere. This light allows us to glimpse the fact that the ‘me’ is the matrix of pleasure, pain and indifference, and see that it is falsely claiming centrality as well as ownership of the various faculties of the psyche. In fact, these faculties are neither owned by the ego, nor necessarily its servant, though it will persist in trying to possess both. Thus when we attend to where we put our attention, and actively take ownership of that act, an attunement to the soul is possible—with or without various additional aids, like a teacher, good geo-political situation, and access to helpful ideas.
But where is the soul?? What does it ‘look like’ from within the psyche? As far as I know there are only two durable answers to this question: experience (a lot of experience), and language. How do we get the former? By various natural and artificial means—through the arts, philosophy, meditation, prayer, nature, and transformative moments in our life. Assuming, of course, that we are both open-minded and discriminating with respect to our immediate experience. By “immediate” I mean those contents of awareness that are directly available to the psyche, and not those which are held at one or more removes from ourselves.
Most verbs and all prepositions mediate our attention: “I believe in God” is quite different than “I believe God” and that again is different from just “God.” “I am trying to find myself” deepens into “I’m finding myself” and becomes immediate only as “myself” One characteristic of such immediacy is that it provides one content per customer: when one is eating rice, one only eats rice, as the saying goes—one does not eat rice and wonder about the meaning of eating rice, nor even marvel at the experience of just eating rice, nor plan one’s journaling about it, and so forth. So: we see the soul through immediate presence, and the more we see the more self-standing the moment becomes: we don’t seek to integrate it, share it with others or connect it to other moments in our own life experience. This is why we like falling in love—it offers the opportunity to feel something immediately. BUT falling in love is not a soul-experience, it is an archetypal experience, thanks to that pesky “in” which is part of the experience and its expression.
And this leads us naturally to the issue of language, and its amazing power. Language doesn’t merely allow us to give names to vague contents of consciousness, it brings with it a matrix of viable and necessary relationships which are codified in the grammar and syntax of any language. This is especially true of languages that are closed and well-defined—languages such as astrology, geometry, (single language) linguistics, and the so-called dead languages, especially Classical Greek and Sanskrit. As soon as we consider astrology a language on par with more commonly named languages, we’re half-way home—all languages have a partial capacity to be translated into other languages (else we’d never know of more than one, and couldn’t call that one a ‘language’).
Now astrology as we most often encounter and use it is obviously unneeded by science, or modern language and is apparently far less precise than either of these in providing us access to the ‘real world’ of our experience. However, there is another view of astrology, the one expressed by Plato in Book VII of the Republic (529 b-c):
“It is reasonable,” said he. “And now that you agree with me, Socrates, I proceed in my commendation of astronomy, which you formerly reproved as unreasonable. For it is evident, I conceive, to everyone, that this discipline compels the soul to look to that which is above, and from the things here conducts it thither.”
“You seem to me,” said I, “to have formed with yourself no ignoble opinion of the discipline respecting things above, what it is: for you seem to think, that if anyone contemplates the various bodies in the firmament, and, by earnestly looking up, apprehends everything, you think that he has intelligence of these things; and does not merely see them with his eyes; and perhaps you judge right and I foolishly. [b] For I, on the other hand am not able to conceive, that any other discipline can make the soul look upwards, but that which respects being, and that which is invisible; and if a man undertakes to learn anything of sensible objects, whether he gape upwards or bellow downwards, never shall I say that he learns; for I aver he has no science of these things, nor shall I say that his soul looks upwards, but downwards, even though he should learn lying on his back, either at land or at sea.”
So this is Astrology as the essential act of Living Number, as a language that ranges from the practical, through psychological, occult, mystical all the way to the philosophical. Astrology so understood gives birth to mathematics and language(s), and contains the laws of symbolism.
And once again comes the question: why should I care, even if by some mischance all these statements are true?? I should—and do—care because the primary act of the individual soul is the synthesis of existence and essence, which is to say, it illumines both our inner and outer life (existence) and provides a viewpoint that at transcends and participates in both (essence). Soul is what we seek—for it is naught but seeking itself—and in the end it is soul itself that is the pathway to itself. Whether we start with the most impersonal language of astrology or with the most subjective and intimate, we will miss the point if we merely seek to reach the other end: what we are after is the illuminating intelligence which informs both and is their only viable connection. We need both extremes, however, to weave a soul-catcher: each time we have an insight into the intersection between our experience and a self-evident truth, that insight becomes part of our body of light, part of the rational fabric with which the soul is clothed.
And what exists at these intersections is their common language, for that is the nature of language itself—to provide a medium for meanings and transformations of meanings. In this context astrology is a simple yet powerfully multivalent language: her terms are living but finite, her grammar is clear, her syntax contained, and her meaning immediately is conascent with experience. So whither hence? Well, on one hand, we simply do what we’ve always been doing: ‘read charts’—after all, using a language is a great way to learn it and keep it alive in oneself. On the other hand, a better knowledge of the underlying structure of the language--and of languages per se--will us help not only speak correctly, but also to do a better job of translating the meanings embedded in astrology into the vernacular of our lives.