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New article "Five Myths on the History of Modern Astrol

 
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Philip Graves



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 436
Location: Europe

Posted: Sat Mar 12, 2016 12:45 pm    Post subject: New article "Five Myths on the History of Modern Astrol Reply with quote

Hello fellow Skyscript members,

I hope this new open-access article of mine (written yesterday, improved today) may be of interest and stimulate historical debate and discussion. If you spot any factual errors, please do not hesitate to notify me.

http://www.astrolearn.com/articles/five-myths-on-the-history-of-modern-astrology-reviewed/

Best wishes to all,

Philip
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Astraea



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 351
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Sat Mar 12, 2016 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a great article, Philip. It is a real pleasure to explore your website.
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james_m



Joined: 05 Dec 2011
Posts: 2903
Location: vancouver island

Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks philip,

i like where you are going with this and feel there are a lot of myths that may or may not be substantiated towards astrology, both inside the community and out... trying to sort out the recent ones might be slightly easier then sorting out ones from the deeper past.. thanks for doing this and sharing your work here..
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Philip Graves



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 436
Location: Europe

Posted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Astraea and James,

Thank you both for taking the time to give your feedback, and for being so kind in the process too.

James, I would agree that there are many myths about astrology from different standpoints.

From the outside, this is inevitable based on limited knowledge of the topic and exposure to limited and negatively biased sources in the media.

From the inside, while basic knowledge of the topic is likely to preclude some of the more obvious myths, there is still the problem of the sheer wealth of different texts from different times and cultures, and the corresponding diversity of ideas, perspectives and approaches, resulting in it being almost impossible for any one astrologer or student of astrology to have a complete understanding of the subject from all angles.

When it comes to the history of astrology, it's my general observation that dedicated historians do a very committed job of getting as close to the truth as they can with the available sources. But even they may not always have had access to all relevant sources, and as a consequence, mistaken assumptions or generalisations may have been made, ones that may have to be modified or corrected in the light of later scholarship and research.

I think that most of the myths I set out in this article fall into the category of those believed by insiders to astrology who have a reasonable outline of its history in their heads based on their existing reading and received hearsay, but who are not dedicated historians of the field and consequently have tended to pick up their ideas about the history of astrology more from secondary sources rather than primary ones. Any limitations to those secondary sources will therefore have been carried over to the beliefs of these astrologers unchallenged and unquestioned, and it may come as a surprise to them to be told that not all they have read is strictly reliable. In fact, they might even be disinclined to believe that this could be so at all, and hold more store in what they have previously read than in any new research that challenges it.

Take for instance the myth I addressed in this article that Llewellyn George founded the Llewellyn Publishing Company in 1901. In July 2011, Llewellyn Worldwide was running a feature on its website celebrating its 110th anniversary. I left a comment summarising the evidence that in fact the centenary was due in 2012. The responses received from a company representative, both on the page and in private discussion, did not accept my evidence as valid. I therefore subsequently posted an article "On the Origins of the Llewellyn Publishing Company" on my own independent website to give the alternative view. Late last year, I was contacted by a senior librarian at an American university, who had read my article and has found further evidence to disprove the claims of the company that it was founded in 1901. He is a national name authority for U.S. library records, and is now working on an academic paper to support a revised record for Llewellyn George that is likely to fully endorse my research.

My great love in dealing with the history of astrology is gathering in and making use of primary sources. They almost always give a richer, more detailed and nuanced view of what was actually happening in astrological thinking and culture at particular times than any secondary source can.

Unfortunately, it is extremely time-consuming and expensive trying to hunt down primary sources from the past on astrology, and it is not an enterprise I would recommend to anyone other than the most committed enthusiast.
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Astraea



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 351
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It must have been gratifying, indeed, to receive validation for your research from that senior university librarian, and to learn that his orthcoming paper will support those facts. Bravo!

Here's to getting closer and closer to the truth of our history - and finding the funds to fuel the quest! Smile
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james_m



Joined: 05 Dec 2011
Posts: 2903
Location: vancouver island

Posted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi philip - thanks for elaborating and giving us an even better understanding on what you are doing and trying to do here... the history of astrology is very interesting, but perhaps even more interesting is astrologers of today and there view on it.. cheers james
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Philip Graves



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 436
Location: Europe

Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Astraea and James - thank you both once again.

Astraea, I'm much looking forward to the librarian's paper. He has access to all kinds of electronic databases featuring old magazines and newspapers and seems extremely well-trained in research methods, so I'm confident that he is building a very strong case that will leave no doubt as to the fact that Llewellyn George did not found or run his own company before 1912, along with numerous other relevant details about the actual owner of the Portland School of Astrology (thus, his boss until 1912), Ida Hulery Fletcher. But I have no idea what his timescale is for working towards publication. Suffice it to say that as and when I receive notification that the article is in press, I shall gladly pass on any references to where it can be found, be it this year or next.

James, I agree that the views on astrology of astrologers today are also (and separately from the history of astrology) a source of great interest. Some of the best investigative work on this topic this century has been done by Dr. Nick Campion, who has investigated astrology as a belief system from a sociological standpoint. Back in 1960, the late, tragic Marcia Moore produced an outstanding survey for its time in "Astrology Today".

To return briefly to my article on the myths of modern astrology: this morning, I have added several paragraphs to the section on the fifth myth, the one that claims that Dane Rudhyar invented the Sun sign forecast column, drawing attention to two additional relevant sources and adding to my argumentation against his responsibility. I just wanted to notify of that in case anyone who has previously read that part of the article takes enough of an interest to check the updated version.
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Astraea



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 351
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Philip, your research enriches my studies - not only in terms of the reliable data you present, but because, through it, one can immerse oneself in a past filled with vibrant individuals (wry, witty ones, too: I love how Rudhyar says he met Marc Jones "through a relative of his who was a friend of a woman I married at the time..."). Very Happy
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james_m



Joined: 05 Dec 2011
Posts: 2903
Location: vancouver island

Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for your additional insights philip!
i agree with you in your regard for nic campion's work.. i did read his book "Astrology and Cosmology in the World's Religions" a few years ago and thought it was quite good.. i have his books "A History of Western Astrology 1 and 2" but have yet to read them.. i was unaware marcia moores contribution to this.. thanks for pointing that out as well. for some reason carl payne tobey's name is popping into my head at the moment. i don't know how you would categorize his work in terms of his contribution, but i recall his ideas being a mix of history and innovation! so much astrological literature has come into availability in the past 20 odds years that wasn't available before.. your work seems to be focusing on what has been out their prior to this 20 odds years of "deep past astrological translations" that is at risk of being lost.. thanks for sharing what you are doing, keeping it alive and informing us of the knowledge you've learned and can share... james
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Philip Graves



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 436
Location: Europe

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good evening, Astraea, James and all!

James, by Nick Campion, on the beliefs of astrologers themselves, I'd especially recommend two books:

"What Do Astrologers Believe" (2006) - a small paperback but very densely written and packed with detailed though succinct outlines of numerous relevant topics - it reads as though a condensation of Dr. Campion's vast knowledge of the territory, but without sacrifice to accuracy.

"Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West" (2012) - this book grew out of (being re-edited from) Dr. Campion's PhD thesis and contains the results of his primary field research into the beliefs of astrologers today - or at least, in this new century.

The two history books by Dr. Campion that you have (but say you have not yet read) are very valuable in their own ways, which is to present a cultural history of astrology. It is not Dr. Campion's aim in those works either to attempt a detailed sociological analysis of contemporary belief in astrology (as he does in the two others I listed above) or to attempt a detailed technical and bibliographical history of astrology. Instead, he aims to highlight the most important broad intellectual and cultural trends at different times. Thus, you will find (unusually for a history book on astrology) his second volume, on the Medieval and Modern Worlds, making numerous references to broader cultural and literary figures and their relationship to astrology, at the same time as it limits its focus on astrologers to a selection of the most prominent ones.

As such, Nick's two-volume history is an excellent complement to other histories of astrology that are more narrowly and exhaustively focused on astrologers and their works and bibliographies - such as James Herschel Holden's books. Nick's focus is intellectual and cultural, not bibliographical - arguably the opposite of Holden's main focus, thus. Personally, I have plenty of time for both approaches.

I would also recommend Garry Phillipson's earlier sociological survey "Astrology in the Year Zero" for its in-depth interviews.

Elizabeth Teissier has also written some sociological studies of contemporary belief in astrology in French, though I would have to look over the various titles to be more specific.

I'd agree that Tobey was an innovator. His Correspondence Course in Astrology has recently been re-edited by Naomi Bennett, a past student of his who has gone to considerable lengths these past 20 years to preserve his legacy for new generations of astrologers. She earlier published a collection of his short books. I'm not aware that he has done anything by way of sociological surveys, but he certainly had an experimental outlook, as evidenced by some of his early book titles. I also incidentally have the first six months published of his short-lived magazine "New Astrology". I do not know exactly how long it lasted, though Naomi has assured me it was indeed short-lived. There is precious little retained of it in Worldcat-listed libraries.
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james_m



Joined: 05 Dec 2011
Posts: 2903
Location: vancouver island

Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks very much philip for the additional info on all of this with specific book ideas for further study... i have too many books to read already! i recently picked up a copy of astrology in the year zero but have yet to read it as well! thank you for all of this - james
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