Astrology by Hand Week 18
Last week, we did a really quick definition, or possibly more accurately, a characterization of consciousness and ended up with the notion that higher consciousness requires a genuine kind of freedom such as we refer to when speaking of ”free will.” I just want to tie up one loose end before we go on.
Dion Fortune added ”consciousness” to Aleister Crowley’s definition of magic, making it ”Magic is the art of bringing about change in consciousness in conformity with the will.” We do not know whether the word ”will” means this higher, freer will, or the basic instinctual drive that often passes as will. The inability to distinguish between these ”wills” is one of the things that can make magic dangerous for those who are not developed in wisdom. But I believe that what Dion Fortune had in mind was truly free will.
So we have the following elements that characterize consciousness from last week: 1) We are aware and we are aware of ourselves as aware, and we have the awareness of subject and object. 2) There is something about higher consciousness that enables us to share a view of reality with others. We are not aware in a vacuum. We establish this connection with other beings who are presumably conscious by means of language. 3) Higher consciousness enables us to see things so that we can make choices freely, driven to a minimal degree by instincts, emotions or other forces that might cause us to make choices that we know not to be in our best interests or in accord with our real intentions. Or, to put it simply, are we being conscious when we cannot keep to a diet?
Do We Experience the Universe as Conscious?
Do we see any of the above elements of consciousness present in the universe? I mentioned last week that one of the difficulties in history has been the failure of peoples to recognize each other as fully human because of an inability to communicate. And while I didn’t mention it, it is also apparent that when one or the other side in a conflict chose not to see the other side as human, they were very good at justifying their failure of perception. Have we done this to the universe as a whole, to the Earth, to any thing in this world?
Well, whether or not this is merely a failure of perception, it is clear that the prevailing scientific view is that the universe is not conscious, as I have pointed out several times.
Language, Magic and Astrology
The first element of consciousness, that we are aware and that we are aware that we are aware, is very difficult to establish in another person. In fact this is the whole problem. As I have already mentioned, we do this through communication, which in turn requires language, at least at a primitive level. So, are there languages involved in magic and astrology?
I think that there are very few who would doubt that there is at least something like language in astrology. It may not be quite so clear in magic, but those who have studied it at all realize it is clear that any old thing will just not do in ceremonial or ”high” magic. There are rules and proper procedures that may exist in many forms, and they are not arbitrary. It is generally known that in many ceremonial magic procedures there are things that must be done just so, and things that must be said just so or nothing works correctly. I have even said that such procedures are like computer languages in that any error will create a ”bug” in the proceedings.
Devil’s Advocate Time
What I have just said about language and procedures in magic raises a problem. We have clear instances of language in which there is no obvious evidence of consciousness being involved. The computer is exhibit A. The very fact that we have to be so precise in computer languages is because we are dealing with a machine. It does not ”get” approximate instructions. Does this mean that when magic requires such precision, we are dealing with a machine? We’ll come back to that later.
Then we have mathematics, which is a kind of language. We approach nature with it, but we believe that we have created it, and that its power in explaining nature is no indication that it is a ”language of nature.” Well, actually this brings us back to the central problem of the nature of the universe, alive or otherwise. The first great scientists of the scientific revolution, Galileo, Kepler and Newton, as well as the ancients who inspired them, believed that mathematics was a language of nature, and that our ability to understand nature in terms of mathematics was because nature was speaking to us using it.
Next week we will continue with language and nature and begin to come to conclusions that are very much in conflict with mainstream science.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Hand, author of Planets in Transit and other works, is now involved in the translation and publication of texts regarding ancient and medieval astrology through ARHAT Media Inc.