Astrology by Hand Week 4
Let’s continue where we left off last week about how we may have modified astrology in order to make the gap between it and science less severe.
I want to repeat that I do not dispute the merits of the humanistic approach as a valid way of doing astrology. But I do believe that we can say that it is a failure in making astrology conform to the prevailing scientific paradigm. This is not a criticism. It is simply a statement that I believe that humanistic astrology is in the same boat with the other branches of astrology with regard to science.
Psychological Astrology and Personality Testing
Several efforts have been made over the years to establish the validity of psychological astrology by means of various kinds of psychological tests or experiments. We have the Vernon Clarke tests and various efforts to replicate them, and we have the infamous effort to test psychological astrology by means of the California Personality Inventory (CPI), as well as various efforts to correlate astrological traits such as signs with psychological traits such as introversion-extraversion, etc. Some of these have been genuinely interesting, others have been very poorly designed. The Gauquelin research was among the best designed. The CPI test was among the worst. But the merits of these experiments are not important. What is important is that any attempt to correlate astrological and psychological factors by means of objective experimental procedures means that one is trying to establish a correlation between astrology and something objectively real. A psychological trait that has been measured by a psychological test is made in some way an objective reality (assuming the psychological tests have any merit). The astrological trait is no longer merely speaking in the subjective language of myth and fable.
I have no problem with this, but I do want to point out that we are now in the same realm as trying to predict events in the external world through astrology. Psychological traits measured by psychological tests are objective entities, or at least have been converted to objective models.
I think that psychological astrology is no more compatible with the scientific paradigm than other kinds of astrology. It is true that many of us have found it more comfortable because it has seemed more compatible with our other modern ways of thinking. But that doesn’t make it so.
Other Kinds of Astrology that Really Challenge Science
Quite aside from traditional astrology, which is well known for its tendency to try to describe objective events, there are some other quite respectable (to us at least) branches of modern astrology that are truly a challenge to the scientific paradigm. Many modern astrologers, for example, do not seem to find it at all implausible for astrology to predict earthquakes. Leaving aside the fact that the record is not good in this area, this kind of prediction truly demands that astrology be reducible to physical effects. And I have to admit, it doesn’t seem completely absurd that alignments of the planets could have an effect on the Earth’s tectonic plates. But let’s look at how we do this. No one that I know of has attempted to predict earthquakes using the day-by-day and minute-by-minute movements of the planets. It is done from charts that function very much like birth charts. The two main kinds of charts that people have used to predict earthquakes have been eclipses and ingress charts.
Eclipse Charts as Birth Charts
If earthquakes occurred at the moment of eclipses, we would have a potent indication that the alignment of the Sun and Moon actually did cause them according to something that would be amenable to science. But we believe that an eclipse can signify an earthquake months, or even years, after the eclipse; and some even hold that the eclipse can signify events before the actual eclipse. I do not have a serious problem with this idea from an astrological point of view, but effects preceding causes is a serious ”no no” in most scientific activity. (We will ignore for the moment the fact that the theory of general relativity and some quantum effects also may force us to rethink causation.) Texts on eclipses also stress that the astrological signal that times an event indicated by the eclipse may be a transit of a planet over the position of the eclipse before or after the eclipse. Once we get into transits of any kind, we are in the same area of difficulty as with conventional birth charts.
Ingress charts, charts cast for the moment that the Sun enters 0 degrees Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn, present exactly the same difficulties as eclipse charts. And even worse, the astronomical events associated with ingress charts have no clearly implied physical effects, such as the alignments of the Sun and Moon might have in eclipses.
Next week we will look at a kind of astrology that really challenges science: horary.
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.