I know it’s not like me to rant. Those of you good folk who call by my blog regularly, know that. However, I feel like a bit of a rant today. What about? Dismissers, that’s what. Normally I view this response to astrology with weary resignation.
However, a recent airing of that tedious old ‘astrology is a load of old rubbish’ trope really got under my skin. How I wish people would spend some time in studying subjects which have been a vital part of human experience for thousands of years, rather than displaying their profound ignorance of those very subjects in the public realm.
I know of what I speak, being a reformed dismisser myself. Readers of this blog may recall the tale of my being stopped in my tracks by a startling prediction – made as a result of an encounter with astrologers in a launderette in Bath, England – that I would in fact become an astrologer too. You can find the full story HERE.
Moving from ignorant dismissal of a tradition going back at least six thousand years, to gradual acceptance of its validity based on study and experience, was one of the most profound and humbling processes of my entire life.
I used to like the word ‘sceptical’: for me, it meant not accepting anything on trust, but being prepared to consider the evidence, not just of accepted facts, but also of experiential evidence which to me and much of the world’s population – including open-minded scientists like Professor Bernard Carr, Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at London University and a Past President of the Society for Psychical Research – can have its own validity.
In a lecture some years ago, Professor Carr stated that there is a barrier which needs to be overcome: those who consider only experimental evidence conducted under strict laboratory conditions to be valid, clash with others who find well-researched experiential evidence to be of at least equal worth. I think he is absolutely right.
Unfortunately, the term ‘sceptical’ has now largely narrowed down to mean dismissing any body of knowledge, experience or practice which does not fall within the narrow terms of reference of reductionist ‘scientific’ procedures.
Astrology has never ‘delivered’ terribly convincingly when subjected to the above approaches. Personally, I have not been the least surprised or upset by this. One cannot expect applying the procedures of one model of reality, ie reductionist science, to the practices of another ie astrology, to produce much by way of validation.
My lifelong interest in science has not been diminished by the depressingly dominant reductionism of our era. A long-time preoccupation has been to bring together in my own mind contemporary insights flowing from the weird world of quantum physics with the ancient wisdom traditions and symbol systems centred round the Perennial Philosophy, including of course astrology.
‘Cosmos, Chaosmos and Astrology’ by Dr. Bernadette Brady has especially aided me recently; it’s a book I have now read several times. Her highly stimulating rethink of the nature of astrology, taking us on an erudite journey from ancient myth to modern chaos and complexity theory, provides a convincing set of reasons why astrology, despite the increasingly dominant reductionism of 21st century culture, remains a lens of great value to look through in making sense of life, even although ‘…the real result of …eighty years of research into the possibility of astrology being a science is the evidence that it is not’. (p69)
It belongs, Brady believes, to ‘another world view’. She offers us astrologer and author Garry Phillipson’s opinion that astrology may work best when approached and practised as ‘…a sacred art.’ (p69). From my own experience, I would agree with this.
I heartily recommend Dr Brady’s book to those of you, like me, who have great respect for science when practiced in an open-minded way, but recognise that life offers more than one lens through which we may view the multi-faceted Reality of which we are privileged to be a part. As the atomic physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer so wisely put it:
“These two ways of thinking, the ways of time and history and the way of eternity and timelessness, are both part of …our… efforts to comprehend the world in which…we live…Neither is comprehended in the other or reducible to it. They are, as we have learned to say in physics, complementary views, each supplementing the other, neither telling the whole story.”
In the end, we astrologers have each to find our own way of living with the dismissers. Maintaining both breadth and depth of study whilst striving for a high standard of professionalism in our teaching and practice, is the most effective rebuttal of this kind of ignorance.
Having occupied more than one profession during my working lifetime, I have always found that integrity of action speaks much louder than any words can, although of course the latter have their place. Let the dismissers get on with being ill-informed and narrow minded. Let us simply get on with our work…
This post is an edited version of a piece which first appeared in my bi-monthly column for Dell Horoscope Magazine ‘The astro-view from Scotland’ in the March 2017 Issue.