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AP - Did classical astrology 'evolve' or 'degenerate'?

 
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Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 9:30 am    Post subject: AP - Did classical astrology 'evolve' or 'degenerate'? Reply with quote

29 Aug 2003

Tom:

[In the Anthony Louis book thread Deb wrote:]

Quote:
There are quite a few deviant rulerships used in the classical period that didn't survive into later tradition


What follows has nothing to do with Anthony Louis or sex, but to do with viewpoint, and isn't really beginner's stuff either. I picked up on Deb's choice of words "didn't survive into the later tradition" and couldn't help but contrast them with some of Robert Schmidt's remarks about house meanings that the newer (i.e., medieval) meanings are without precedent and were the "inventions" of the medieval astrologers.

What interests me is how these few different words portray two radically different viewpoints. I might be making too much of this, but let’s look at it. Schmidt has taken the position, more or less, that Hellenistic astrology is unique in that its basis is not so much built on astrology that came before as much as they developed it themselves. This is not to say that he believes the Greeks invented all of astrology (although he uses the words “absolutely unique” (sic) out of nothing but their own works, but nearly so.

In an article of his titled "The Problem of Astrology,"

http://www.projecthindsight.com/problem.htm

Schmidt writes: “So what am I trying to get at by this little phrase here, the "metaphysics of metaphysics." There is a statement by a Neo-Platonist philosopher named Iamblichus in a strange book called, "On The Mysteries," In this book another neo-Platonist Porphyry (of Porphyry house fame, for the astrologers here) is directing a number of questions about the Egyptian religion to an Egyptian priest. In the course of the answering of these questions the priest says that the men who translated the Egyptian sacred writings into Greek--and these sacred writings included the their magical, alchemical, and astrological writings, all generally attributed to one of their sages names Hermes--the men who translated these sacred writings into Greek were men who were trained in Greek philosophy, presumably the philosophies of the Athenian Greeks Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics.

Now, this is a very astonishing statement and it made a great impression on me. If we take it seriously (it is several hundred years after the fact), it means that in Hellenistic astrology we may have an absolutely unique event, something that had probably never happened before and has not happened since. We may have a deliberate and unprecedented fusion of what we might call the straight Athenian philosophical tradition and the esoteric traditions of the Middle East.

Now, I think that we have already found abundant evidence of this fusion in the Hellenistic writings, but whether or not this turns out to be valid, the term metaphysics of metaphysics reflects that goal, the goal of somehow bringing the straight philosophical tradition together with the esoteric tradition, and this without reducing the one to the other, the goal of showing the esoteric implications of philosophy and the philosophical import of esotericism.”


This of course is justification for the position that the Hellenistic Greeks got it all right, and that which differs is therefore wrong, although he admits it is possible that medieval astrologers may have accidentally stumbled on a truth now and then.

Deb's words "didn't survive" imply that with study and practice, the medieval astrologers and later astrologers dropped what they found of Hellenistic astrology that didn't work, and developed alternative techniques. Schmidt sees them as making mistakes or misunderstanding the earlier tradition.

Now I’m not accusing Schmidt of being disingenuous, much less Deb. I’m developing an interest in Hellenistic astrology in fact. I just find it interesting that a couple of words can so greatly alter perception. Did the medieval astrologers make up stuff? Did they misunderstand? Did medieval astrology, to use a rather vulgar contemporary word “evolve?” Does it matter? I suppose this is why some astrologers prefer to practice rather than worry about whether or not angels would dance on the heads of pins, if they could. They don’t have to think about things like this.

Very thought provoking choice of words, Deb.

----------------------------

Deb:

It is an interesting contradiction Tom, and strange that I’ve just posted a comment in the Decans thread on the Traditional forum, referring to that article. I’m sure that there is a divergence of views represented in those few little words, but what I try not to do, and have probably mistakenly have done here, is suggest that any particular culture or time period was more ‘correct’ in its astrological knowledge than any other. I have a great respect for Hellenistic astrology and get inspired by the study of it. But I’ve also felt the same when I’ve attempted to really understand the astrology of the Mesoptamian period or the Egyptian culture, and I’ve begun to see something or the way it would have been glimpsed through their eyes. Then I consider astrology as applied through Lilly’s approach and it all makes perfect sense. And that doesn’t mean that I can’t admire the finer writings of Liz Greene or other respected modern authors.

I suppose that what I like the most is when something strikes me as particularly relevant because it would have been supported and significant whichever approach you take, or when finding that the symbolic viewpoint of one culture serves to illuminate an astrological technique used by another. I also like to see the way that similarities exist, and I think that Valens and Lilly come across of very similar in their approach. Because I can relate to it they take me into their worlds, they enter into mine, and the centuries and cultural differences disappear.


--------------------------------

Tom:

Hi Deb,

>>It is an interesting contradiction Tom, and strange that I’ve just posted a comment in the Decans thread on the Traditional forum, referring to that article.<<

I saw that after I posted.


>>I’m sure that there is a divergence of views represented in those few little words, but what I try not to do, and have probably mistaken done here, is suggest that any particular culture or time period was more ‘correct’ in its astrological knowledge than any other.<<

I hope I didn't imply otherwise. I think that is what Schmidt does, however. I was stuck by the fact that your words "didn't survive," describe the changes made in astrology from the Greeks to the middle ages so much differently than his words: "invention," "unprecedented" and "misunderstanding."

That being said, I hasten to add that I have no problem with strong advocacy based on facts, logic, reason, and experience. I recall a philosophy professor telling his students: "Be certain of your beliefs, but always leave a little room open in case you're wrong. Good advice. On the other hand, I have no patience for the attitude, "You're intolerant because you don't agree with me." That isn't thinking; it's name calling.

Your remarks about Valens and Lilly have piqued my interest. Admitedly with astrology, it doesn't take much to get me interested in something I haven't pursued. I'll have to look into Valens more closely. Oh, the booksellers sing your praises mightily, Deborah Houlding.

Best

Tom
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Posted: Wed Oct 22, 2003 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AP - This is an archived post, but may still be responded to.
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