skyscript.co.uk
   

home articles forum events
glossary horary quiz consultations links more

Read this before using the forum
Register
FAQ
Search
View memberlist
View/edit your user profile
Log in to check your private messages
Log in
Recent additions:
Can assassinations be prevented? by Elsbeth Ebertin
translated by Jenn Zahrt PhD
A Guide to Interpreting The Great American Eclipse
by Wade Caves
The Astrology of Depression
by Judith Hill
Understanding the mean conjunctions of the Jupiter-Saturn cycle
by Benjamin Dykes
Understanding the zodiac: and why there really ARE 12 signs of the zodiac, not 13
by Deborah Houlding

Skyscript Astrology Forum

observational astrology?

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Forum Index -> Philosophy & Science
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Juan



Joined: 21 May 2007
Posts: 214
Location: San José, Costa Rica

Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 3:27 am    Post subject: observational astrology? Reply with quote

Andrew wrote:
Quote:
In 1984, in his Classical Scientific Astrology, George Noonan writes: "... in particular the theory that a planet's efficacy increased with its apparent magnitude was completely repudiated; and along with this concept, the close connection of astrology with observational astronomy."

As it is written, the above paragraph makes no sense because without "observational astronomy" no Astrology is possible, traditional or modern. How are we going to obtain the planetary coordinates then?

The only way we can make sense of Noonan's words is assuming that he is referring to a time when, allegedly, Astrology was "closely connected" with what was observed with the naked eye. Since neither Uranus nor Neptune can be easily recognized visually in the night sky, he --presumably-- believed that this resulted in modern Astrology no longer having a "close connection" with naked-eye astronomy.

Was classical Astrology based on the actual and physical naked eye observation of the sky any more than modern Astrology?

Before continuing it is necessary to make a distinction between the original Babylonian Astrology --based on naked-eye astronomy-- and Greek horoscopics: they are very different cultural paradigms, best represented in the differences between the sidereal and tropical perspectives. This is explained in detail and with references in the last part of my compilation mentioned in another thread:

http://www.expreso.co.cr/centaurs/posts/notes/theory.html

By "classical astrology" I mean "Greek horoscopics", which is the term used by David Pingree. The evidence shows that astrologers looked at the sky very little, by "evidence" meaning the traditional tools that we have inherited and still use today, which are made of little that can be observed and a lot of analogical and metaphorical mathematical constructs elaborated on the basis of celestial motions.

This explanation is a little longer than the usual posts in this forum, so I will divide it in 2 parts. The material is based on posts I sent years ago to my Riyal_compute forum and months ago to another forum.

TABLES

The ancients looked at the sky a lot more than us --naturally-- but the astrologer's work was not based on this observation at all, it was based on mathematical calculations from tables. Many of these tables or "canons" were used for centuries, which introduced inaccuracies in the parameters on which they were built, and displacements of position due to precession when the tables were based on sidereal instead of tropical parameters. Anybody who examines the hundreds of extant medieval horoscopes will realize that astrologers depended on these tables and almost never checked their calculations with what was actually "out there". The original tables most of the time were based on authentic astronomical observations only in a limited sense, because they used parameters such as the ascendant, signs, houses, etc., which are mathematical derivations or abstractions.

Astrologers worked (and still work) with calculated positions, not observed positions. The positions are referred to an abstract system of reference (the signs of the zodiac) so it is not easy to check whether a planet is e.g. in one sign or in the next just by looking at the sky because there is little out there to check the planet's exact position against (assuming that the astrologer is calculating a chart for the moment which was usually not the case). For the calculation of planetary positions and of the houses the astrologer depended on tables, and the calculated positions were predominantly off by several degrees, so astrologers related to tables and not to the sky. That they could also go out at night and observe the sky, or that the calculated positions might or should correspond to actual positions in the celestial sphere had little to do with the astrologer's work per se.

There are hundreds of ancient and medieval horoscopes that have survived and have been published; these horoscopes were calculated by means of tables, which is the main reason why historians have unearthed them: by reverse-engineering the planetary positions they are able to figure out the astronomical parameters used in the calculation, and therefore trace the historical development of mathematical astronomy. Almost all of these horoscopes have errors of several degrees in the planetary positions, whether because the astrologer was a lousy calculator or because the tables had errors.

Greek astrologers (as well as us today) used mathematics and celestial motions to construct structures of superimposing time-space grids (coordinate points, signs, houses, aspects, directions...) and related them to human life. This link to human life is possible only by means of metaphor. The different components of these mathematical, pseudo-astronomical grids were codified and were given specific qualities and meanings (rulerships, sign, house and planets meanings...) through symbolical association and analogical reasoning. The astrologer works with this metaphorical grid, not with what is observed in the sky, and the reason is simple: very little of that symbolical grid actually exists in the sky or in the natural world.

TROPICAL ZODIAC

The "Aries point" cannot be "observed" except at the time of the equinox itself, or at the solstices, but there is nothing in the sky like exact 30-degree divisions. The observable sky is that of the fixed stars, and this is why Babylonian Astrology, which was indeed of an observational nature --originally at least-- was all sidereal. It never occurred to them such an abstract, invisible point as the Aries point as fiducial.

Precession constantly displaces the tropical reference frame with respect to the visible sky, so the aspects in the tropical zodiac between positions separated by a time long enough (e.g. annual revolutions) --assuming that one could "see" through time-- happen in the abstract, i.e., when plotted against the background of the observable sky, they will appear displaced, they are not really happening from an "observation of the sky" point of view.

The 30-degree signs are only convenient abstractions; they cannot be observed. Likewise, planetary, solar, and lunar ingresses are things that exist only in the minds of astrologers. Even if it is possible to observe the time of equinoxes or solstices (which applies to the Sun only), that is because of declination and applies only to the beginning of cardinal signs. The exact 30-degree signs of the zodiac are not based on observation of the sky but on mathematical manipulations and abstraction.

RADIX CHARTS

An astrological chart is an artificial, anti-natural freezing of an instant which in Nature is immediatly substituted by another. This instant is time frozen into paper-space, it cannot be found anywhere in the natural world. Birth charts are based on a principle that is the negation of the experience of the sky, i.e., the freezing of time. They do not "exist" except on paper. They represent a moment of time in the past that is used to chart the flow of time, and are therefore asynchronous with natural phenomena.

In an astrological chart, time is modelled by means of an arc or distance in space. Distances and aspects between planets are measured along a circumference without latitude, regardless of the true distance the planets may have in the sky. An astrological "transit" (e.g. returns and ingresses) is absolutely impossible to observe, because birth charts --or any other astrological chart-- can exist only on paper. They are nowhere in the sky or in the natural world. They are invisible, abstract, and artificial, yet the whole edifice of astrology is centered on them.

(part 2 in next post)

Juan


Last edited by Juan on Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:43 pm; edited 6 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Juan



Joined: 21 May 2007
Posts: 214
Location: San José, Costa Rica

Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TRANSITS

Astrological transits (ingresses, returns, aspects between planetary coordinates at different times) to the longitudes of the planets at birth are only abstractions. The radix chart is an artefact based on a metaphorical correlation between the planets at birth and the person; since this correlation is impossible to model physically, we are postulating it metaphorically. The metaphors continue when we imagine the longitude at some other time "in aspect with" the longitudes at birth, a longitude in the present in relationship to a longitude in the past.

Nothing of this can be observed. Transits are models, purely abstract mathematical constructions that are used as referents of the real. We will never be able to "see" a transit in the same way that we never work with the actual planets in the sky themselves, only with conventional, metaphorical representations of them.

HOUSES

It is obvious that the 12 houses do not exist in the sky and cannot be observed, just like the 12 hours of the day or the night. This is why different methods of arriving at the cusps were developed. Like the signs and the division of the day into 12 hours or the hour into 60 minutes, etc., houses exist only in the imagination and are not visible. Their mathematical modelling, and above all their symbolical attributes are an example of analogical thinking that has little or nothing to do with "observing the sky".

With the exception of very flat and open spaces like the desert or the sea, the astrological ascendant is a mathematical abstraction, like the houses and 30-degree signs of the zodiac. Rising and setting are observational realities, but the actual moment of crossing the mathematical horizon very often differs significantly from what can be inferred from observation, due to topographic irregularities of the horizon which differ from place to place. In some mountainous places the differences are quite large. Astrologers never work with this observed horizon.

GEOCENTRIC MOON

The effect of parallax reaches a maximum of 59' near the horizon and becomes zero at the zenith. If you add atmospheric refraction, you have variations of 1.5 degrees in the observed position of the Moon in the sky twice during a single day when compared with the geocentric position used by astrologers. Even if we discard refraction, the parallax alone will result in differences of 1 or 2 hours in the exact times of lunations, ingresses, and aspects. Astrologers almost never take or have taken these variations into account because the positions they use are based on computations from tables, not on observations.

DIGNITIES, NODES, PARTS

There are no rulerships nor dignities nor terms nor arabic parts, nor lunar nodes in the sky. The lunar node is a good example of how much astrology was (is) based on abstraction and not on observation. The lunar node cannot be observed, it is a mathematical quantity, and yet was given planetary status by ancient and medieval astrologers. Although the effects of the node could be perceived at the time of eclipses, it was still invisible, and it was only during eclipses; at any other time the lunar nodes are mere abstractions.

DIRECTIONS

Profections defied the laws of physics by yuxtaposing different time frames. In any prediction technique that applies to an individual, a radix chart is used; this implies using planetary positions at one specific time and space as referent for another time and space. This is a "play of analogies" that exists only in the mind of astrologers. It could never be observed.

ASPECTS IN LONGITUDE

In many horoscopes a planet may appear above the horizon by longitude when physically it is below (or viceversa), and the Moon may appear in a close conjunction with another planet when physically they are widely apart. For example, in 40% of the cases when the Moon is in exact conjunction with Venus by longitude, their true distance in the sky is larger than 4 degrees, or the space covered by 8 full-moon disks.

So let's say that we are going to eliminate from astrology everything that is not visible physically to the naked eye: we have to eliminate the 12 exact 30-degree signs and forget about ingresses, we have eliminate the 12 houses and forget about rulerships, we have to modify the definition of "ascendant", we have to eliminate aspects in longitude, we have to forget about geocentric Moon positions, we have to modify the definition of "rising" and "setting" and therefore of parans, we have to eliminate transits-to-radix contacts and returns, progressions, directions, we have to eliminate the tropical zodiac and birth charts. What is left?

Juan


Last edited by Juan on Wed Aug 29, 2007 8:12 am; edited 4 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
3D



Joined: 19 Jun 2005
Posts: 125

Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Juan,

these are all interesting thoughts and I am sympathetic with many of them. Especially, I think the picture we make of the sky should be more than a 2-dimensional projection on the ecliptic, and artefacts like 30° divisions etc. should at least be questioned and understood before using them.

What I don’t understand is what kind of Astrology are you proposing, if any?

René
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Juan



Joined: 21 May 2007
Posts: 214
Location: San José, Costa Rica

Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3D wrote:
Juan, these are all interesting thoughts and I am sympathetic with many of them. Especially, I think the picture we make of the sky should be more than a 2-dimensional projection on the ecliptic, and artefacts like 30° divisions etc. should at least be questioned and understood before using them.
What I don’t understand is what kind of Astrology are you proposing, if any? -- René

Please don't think that I am attacking Astrology in any way. I don't think there is anything wrong with either traditional or modern Astrology, and am not proposing that we change anything. Nothing of what I wrote is meant as if it were an error or a deffect of Astrology.

My intention is to question the myth of Astrology being based on what is observed in the sky, and particularly to show that from this perspective, the difference that Noonan declares between ancient and modern Astrology refers to the original Babylonian astrology and astronomy, but does not exist in Greek horoscopics, which is essentially the Astrology we all know and practice today, classical or modern.

Perhaps it can be summarized this way: astrological events and astronomical events --since the invention of Greek horoscopics 2000 or so years ago-- are not and have never been the same thing.

I had written that the quote from Noonan was "all nonsense", so I am explaining now why. The post should be read together with my last post in the "astrological models" thread", which commented on the first part of the Noonan quote not mentioned here.

Juan
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
spirlhelix



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 250
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Posted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 4:56 am    Post subject: Visual Astrology Reply with quote

Hi, Juan

Interesting question!

"Naked Eye" astrology is all theoretically well and good--until we run a daytime chart, a New Moon chart, or need to observe planets which are under the sun's beams: or even at night, planets which are posited in houses 1-7.

Another drawback would be in the use of predictive astrology, where we use the future motions of the planets to derive meaning from the chart. Those are simply not visible, even in the night sky. We may see Venus, but how do we know if she is retrograde, or if she will soon direct, and when?

Thanks for drawing our attention to this topic! A good excercise in increasing our familiarity with visual astronomy.

Regards,

Spirlhelix
_________________
"Id rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance"
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
mattG



Joined: 21 Sep 2007
Posts: 345
Location: Greenwich UK

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are plenty instances of people in medieval times observing comets, eclipses and stelliums. Indeed I do not think comets would be in any table at that time.Sure an astrologer might see something like that before it occured and could forecast in advance for the general populace who would see it themselves with their own eyes.

Matt
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Juan



Joined: 21 May 2007
Posts: 214
Location: San José, Costa Rica

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt23z wrote:
There are plenty instances of people in medieval times observing comets, eclipses and stelliums. Indeed I do not think comets would be in any table at that time.Sure an astrologer might see something like that before it occured and could forecast in advance for the general populace who would see it themselves with their own eyes.
Matt


Sure. But this is not horoscopic astrology. What this practice shows is the confusion there is in the popular mind (and unfortunately in the mind of many astrologers and scholars) between giving meaning to observable events in the sky (the ancient Babylonian astrology) and Greek horoscopics, a confusion still prevalent today.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
mattG



Joined: 21 Sep 2007
Posts: 345
Location: Greenwich UK

Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I am not confused about the difference between Babylonian and Hellenistic astrology. Why not observe the sky when you can and use it as an add-on to the horoscope?

You can also look at a chart and look at an astronomical sky view. Sometimes conjunctions look clearer in the sky than on the horoscope, which, as mentioned already is simply a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional reality.

Regards

Matthew
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Juan



Joined: 21 May 2007
Posts: 214
Location: San José, Costa Rica

Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt23z wrote:
"...as mentioned already is simply a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional reality".

Observing the sky may be illuminating and instructive for an astrologer, it can also be complementary to an astrologer's work, but the essence of my explanation is that essentially being an astrologer has nothing to do with it.

The "three-dimensional reality" of most of the elements of a horoscope is mathematical abstraction that can never be observed because it does not exist in the natural world.

Most if not all of what is in a horoscope does not correspond to anything that can be observed by physical means. The planets are the exception, but the astrologer does not work with them directly, but with their abstract discrete coordinates, and manipulates them analogically in a complicated and physically impossible way that has nothing to do with observation of the sky.

Juan
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
###



Joined: 08 Jul 2004
Posts: 1380

Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The "three-dimensional reality" of most of the elements of a horoscope is mathematical abstraction that can never be observed because it does not exist in the natural world.

Most if not all of what is in a horoscope does not correspond to anything that can be observed by physical means.


Maybe the naked-eye sky provided a context and was quietly there in the background as a source of images and inspiration. The ancient astrologers perhaps had limited interest in the literalism of, say, statisticians and engineers, preferring and using the language of storytellers. A tale of a person's growing influence and power was more interesting and useful to them than a sunrise. The sunrise served as environmentally based and universally understood imagery. The modern mind often – usually? – doesn't get it.

I admit I skimmed over this thread. I apologize if I missed relevant comments.


Quote:
Most if not all of what is in a horoscope does not correspond to anything that can be observed by physical means. The planets are the exception, but the astrologer does not work with them directly, but with their abstract discrete coordinates, and manipulates them analogically in a complicated and physically impossible way that has nothing to do with observation of the sky.


If I may be so bold . . . I get the feeling that you are ill at ease with astrology and don't seem to grasp what astrology is all about. You would apparently be happier teaching astronomy or looking through a telescope. Confused
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Juan



Joined: 21 May 2007
Posts: 214
Location: San José, Costa Rica

Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kirk wrote:
... I get the feeling that you are ill at ease with astrology and don't seem to grasp what astrology is all about. You would apparently be happier teaching astronomy or looking through a telescope.Confused

I tried tried to explain why "naked eye Astrology" (observing the sky) has very little to do with Greek Horoscopics, or with modern and classical Astrology alike. It is not a criticism of Astrology or of astrological tools or paradigms, but an effort to reach a better understanding of what these tools are made of, and particularly, what they are NOT made of.

I am describing facts about the basic astrological tools that anybody can check and which I have explained in detail in the first 2 posts of this thread (from 2 years ago!). The fact that I am replying means that I am willing to discuss all this in more detail, but please read the posts first!

Juan
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
###



Joined: 08 Jul 2004
Posts: 1380

Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Juan,

I was becoming more uncomfortable with the ending paragraph of my post and thought I should return. The fact that you were discussing the issue doesn't mean I was right in presuming to know where and how you stood regarding the issue – especially after only skimming your previous posts! Following my sloppy method no one could discuss anything without being labeled a partisan.

Kirk
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Deb
Administrator


Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 4130
Location: England

Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread is being targetted by spammers so I am locking it for a temporary period.

Deb

Update - As Eddy pointed out, the original title was probably a magnet for spammers, so we are going to try changing the title instead.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Forum Index -> Philosophy & Science All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
. Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

       
Contact Deborah Houlding  | terms and conditions  
All rights on all text and images reserved. Reproduction by any means is not permitted without the express
agreement of Deborah Houlding or in the case of articles by guest astrologers, the copyright owner indictated