View Full Version : Curious Skeptic
05-24-2011, 04:51 PM
Hi. I come to this board as a bit of a skeptic. I don't doubt that the heavens have an effect on our lives. What I'm skeptical about is man's ability to correctly interpret the heavens' influence.
I've long played with reading my horoscope now and then, sometimes every day for a week, then not at all for years. It was all in fun, never taken seriously. Then ...
Earlier this month I was in reading mode and everything I read pointed to what a great and wonderful and perfect week I'd have, two days in particular would be the best of the year, yada, yada, yada. (this from a couple different online astrology sites) Oddly enough, those days and that week turned out to be my worst so far this year.
After having this happen, a rational person would say, "This astrology stuff is a bunch of baloney!" Instead, I come here in hopes to learn something that will help me understand myself and the world around me. I guess that makes me irrational. :-)
I've spent the last couple days reading the Basic Astrology thread, visiting astrodienst, following links to more info, etc. And now, my head is swimming. I've in way over my head and I'm hoping someone can throw me a virtual life preserver.
**Is there a vocabulary thread that explains astrology jargon such as "conjunct" "cusp" "domicile" "exaltation", etc?
**Also, on the astro.com natal chart there is a group of boxes, three across and four down. Across the top are the letters C F M and down the side are the letters F A E W. Can someone tell me what these letters stand for?
05-24-2011, 05:19 PM
I'd say you're quite a rational person, actually. Instead of discarting astrology altogether, just because it said the exact opposite of what happen, you try to understand it better.
Anyway, the only thing I can tell you right now is the meaning of C F M and F A E W.
F A E W are the elements, Fire, Air, Earth and Water. C F M are the states of these elements, Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable.
Each sign has it's element.
Aires, Leo and Sagitarius are Fire.
Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are Earth.
Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are Air.
Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are Water.
You get four groups, each with three signs, right? Well, each sign in the group will be either Cardinal, Fixed or Mutable.
Why not start with a book on astrology? Just googling on the internet will lead to confusion.
For example: Robert Hand's "Horoscope Symbols".
The next step, would be learning by doing: interpret your own horoscope.
05-24-2011, 07:57 PM
Welcome to the site!
One "life preserver" that you can cling to is the idea that current Modern Astrology took thousands of years to be assemble. So realizing your not going to process it all over night is a "peace in the middle of the overwhelming " lifesaver LOL Also, knowing there is nothing "mystical" about all this will give you centering. Astrology at a personal/ psychological level is just a variant of psychology based on trends in our lives and a type of psychological profiling when we have certain planetary placements and aspects in our natal charts. Each planet has it's own symbology of what aspect or emotional system ( the inner self, assertiveness, love nature, intellect etc.) it represents.
Because planets have a predictable orbit around the Sun we can use this orbit as it traverses the signs (constellations) in the background to dictate why people's hidden innerself (Sun), react (moon's influence) Speak (Mercury), Love (Venus), Assert ourselves (Mars) etc. all differently or similarly and the Natal Chart itself shows in what part of our life we manifest these expressions ( 12 Houses of the chart). The example I was getting to is Uranus.
The psychological symbology of Uranus, in part, is symbolized by our rebelliousness and challenging our ways of thinking. From where it is placed at birth, the planet Uranus will have moved to 180 degrees from the natal position. (ages 40-42) ..a psychological description for this opposition transit is we tend to go through a period of extreme reevaluating of whats been going on in our lives up until these times. Even a breaking free of that past even if the indicators all play out. Some astrologers call the transit of Uranus oppostion natal Uranus at least one of the "middle age crisis" transit. So while, literally, the heavens and planets (except lunar influences) are influencing us is a misnomer, the psychological and historical symbology that has been built around all the planetary and sign placements are very viable because its all been observed. It is just life. Always remembering that every planet and sign placement has its own psychological symbology just as Uranus does. Many are occuring all the time as they transit the Sun and their current placements are always compared in geometric angles back to your natal placements, all these transits have a hiearchy of expected psychological responses and events in the person's life. You say you had rough times lately, well that is probably the outer planets interacting with natal placements these slow moving transits are deeper and longer in coming and leaving. Like uranus, these are more life changing transits than the faster moving symbology of theinner planets will indicate. You have begun a road of adjustment perhaps thats been long in building.
Vast study of all kinds through time, particulary study of the Moon on life down here which is the only "planet" that does actually, physically, influence our planet and it's inhabitant other than the Sun, (other planet's magnetism is too weak or we have not invented a way of measuring their influence) has been collected and a hiearchy of expectatons have been built up with the always repeating and continuous cycle of the cosmos. Astrology is an expression of that hiearchy. A person with Venus in Aries expresses affection quite differently than a person with Venus in Cancer, be they male or female. Its helps us define why people act as they do, and, for me, gives me more understanding and tolerance of people than before. Its all about psychological symbology not the planets or signs themselves per se. The old symbology is also the reason why it doesn't matter if we have regressed one sign back... the old symbology still works. While astrology is not "mystical" it does take thinking on many things and "levels" at once and yes some faith so that is the things that can "lose you" in the subject. Most sites I have been to have excellent descriptions of Astrology "jargon"... if they didn't that would really prove foolish LOL
05-24-2011, 09:41 PM
...my head is swimming. I've in way over my head and I'm hoping someone can throw me a virtual life preserver.
Astrology doesn't need to be confusing. You can easily learn the basics in six steps of modern western astrology at this website:
Then you can test out astrology on yourself and come to your own conclusions about it. BTW, many astrologers began as skeptics such as yourself!
05-24-2011, 10:35 PM
Thanks all for the replies and the information on the abbreviations.
I know that fully understanding astrology can take a lifetime. And since I'm not one to commit a lifetime to anything but family, I figure I'd better learn as much as can while I'm still interested in learning. (Hmm...perhaps I've got a bit of attention deficit disorder??)
Tim, I found the link to your site last night (in the Education section, I think). I breezed through Step 3, just enough to learn that I'm quite self-centered. Nine of 10 planets are "Inner", almost evenly distributed between Beginning (5) and Development (4). Only the planet Chiron and the Sun are in my "Outer" section. I'll re-read Step 4 and go on to Step 5 tonight.
I'll also do a little more research on astrology books for beginners and will buy one later this week.
05-25-2011, 02:42 AM
Why don't you post your natal chart
05-25-2011, 04:34 AM
Want a good start? Charles Carters "Principles of Astrology"is a good place to begin, its easily available and at low price. You will need a dictionary: DeVore's "Encyclopedia of Astrology" is excellent, easily available, and also not that expensive; supplemental references definition-wise are easily available in Manly Palmer Hall's "Astrological Keywords", another low priced book.
In my own development I have gone far afield of these books over the past 35 years, and there is more to astrology than what is in them-still, they are an excellent place to begin an intellectual and experiential journey toward undertsanding the meaningfulness of the Cosmos...
05-25-2011, 03:38 PM
...I found the link to your site last night (in the Education section, I think). I breezed through Step 3, just enough to learn that I'm quite self-centered. Nine of 10 planets are "Inner", almost evenly distributed between Beginning (5) and Development (4). Only the planet Chiron and the Sun are in my "Outer" section. I'll re-read Step 4 and go on to Step 5 tonight.
Yes, basic astrology is pretty simple if you look at the "big picture". Don't be overly focused on the beginning of Step 4: that's simply about how you get to the 12 keywords at the bottom of the page. It's fine if you skim over all that stuff on the top of Step 4. All you need to know is that there are 12 keywords in astrology, and they are the same for the signs/planets/houses (as is explained in Step 5).
05-25-2011, 05:22 PM
Thanks, Tim. I made it through Step 5 last night, which took me a bit to figure out. At first, I didn't understand that your planet/sign keyword chart was taken at face value, in the exact positions you provided. I kept trying to fit them into my chart (in a different arrangement). It finally clicked into place after reading your astro-sentence examples several times.
Step 6 will be my assignment for tonight. I glanced at it last night, but didn't read. All those angles! It brought back nightmares of studying geometry so many (many, many) years ago.
When I'm done, I'll post in the read my chart section to see if what I see in my chart is similar to what others see.
Dr. Farr, thanks for the books recommendation. I have added Carter's book to a list that I want to look at next time I stop by Barnes and Noble. Other authors include Robert Hand, Stephen Arroyo, Liz Greene, Marion D. March, Julia Parker and others. I just hope B&N has a better selection than my county library system!
05-25-2011, 06:02 PM
For brief encyclopedia-style entries on astrological terms, I recommend the Astro-Wiki posted at www.astro.com (http://www.astro.com) . They have great "free charts" and ephemeris sections, as well.
If you can spring for some books, try Fred Gettings, The Arkana Dictionary or Astrology; and James R. Lewis, The Astrology Book: The Encyclopedia of Heavenly Influences. The Arkana one is cheaper and, I think, better. A lot of astrology books are available through Internet book sellers like amazon.com .
My favourite introductory textbooks are: Steven Forrest, The Inner Sky; and Robert Hand, Planets in Youth (good for people of all ages.) Forrest gets into principles, while the Hand book is more of a cookbook.
All of us go through periods of (a) scepticism and (b) overload, incidentally.
05-26-2011, 02:58 AM
Also check out astro-america.com for perhaps the largest selection of astrological titles (Western and Vedic)
05-26-2011, 06:33 AM
Thanks. That site has loads of books on the subject. My Barnes and Noble had very few, maybe 30 different titles.
I ended up ordering from Amazon's marketplace. Used and eligible for Amazon's free shipping these two books were a bargain. Out of pocket cost for both was less than $15. They should get me started.
"Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart" by Kevin Burk
"Encyclopedia of Astrology" by Nicholas DeVore
05-26-2011, 02:54 PM
jmerle, I admire you coming on to this site with a skeptical mind. The best of the best are those that approach things with an open mind, but a skeptical one nonetheless. Unfortunately, there is a manner of fundamental context that must be understood prior to understanding the nature of astrology.
I'm an engineer by background, and so I understand that astrology as we know it is not a science, despite the fact that much statistical information is used and processed by *well respected* astrologers. Amateur astrologers, like amateur scientists, will take bits and pieces of information gathered from other individuals, without performing the experiments as fully as the professionals have.
It is important for a skeptic not to start by rationalizing how it works, because there is no satisfactory answer to that. For instance, I'm a western sidereal astrologer, so from what I've seen, the positions to the stars make more sense in interpretation, but I don't support the idea that the stars and planets themselves are causing the effects that I observe.
It's important for you to go away from newspaper horoscopes that just use sun-sign astrology, and move to looking through Google on how to interpret your natal chart. Start with things like houses and aspects before looking at sign location. Secondly, search for the star locations for people that you know and notice those that have similarities when their planets are located in the same place. For instance, when I first started, I noticed that my best friend had Venus within a degree of my Venus, and another friend had the Sun within a degree of my Sun. This allowed me to compare my traits with their traits, to understand what I was seeing.
When you are done with analyzing people, the real fun starts. You can hypothesize and do research much like the rest of us. Look for patterns first, but don't believe immediately that just because you noticed a pattern that it is statistically significant, until you have had the opportunity to see it enough.
P.S. Newspaper sun sign astrology is the BANE to most astrologers. It only makes more skeptics, and there are many reasons for that. Instead, a person's is made of much more than a Sun sign.
05-26-2011, 03:48 PM
I made it through Step 5 last night, which took me a bit to figure out. At first, I didn't understand that your planet/sign keyword chart was taken at face value, in the exact positions you provided. I kept trying to fit them into my chart (in a different arrangement). It finally clicked into place after reading your astro-sentence examples several times.
Thanks for the feedback! I hadn't thought about this issue: I will think over how I word the description and see if I can make the method any clearer.
Learning all the time,
05-26-2011, 11:33 PM
It is important for a skeptic not to start by rationalizing how it works
Oh, but the need to know WHY is so great! But then, I don't need to know exactly how my car's fuel injection system works and, as a Christian, I take my beliefs on faith. But still, there is this burning desire to want the scientific explanation behind it all.
It's important for you to go away from newspaper horoscopes that just use sun-sign astrology, and move to looking through Google on how to interpret your natal chart.
This is something I am just now learning, and I guess that's the fascination right now. At least, it will be until I decide it's too much work and throw in the towel. (I know myself pretty well without being able to read my chart.)
when I first started, I noticed that my best friend had Venus within a degree of my Venus, and another friend had the Sun within a degree of my Sun. This allowed me to compare my traits with their traits, to understand what I was seeing.
Fascinating! This part sounds like a lot of fun.
05-26-2011, 11:38 PM
I hadn't thought about this issue: I will think over how I word the description and see if I can make the method any clearer.
Don't conclude that the problem is with the author! It was written plain as day. I just tried to make it difficult by trying to put things where they didn't belong. :-)
05-26-2011, 11:43 PM
Well, we can discuss hypotheses all day long about how astrology works, but truth is that there is no model that sufficiently describes how it works. Some grasp at straws with fringes of modern physics, but unless it can be tested and modeled, science will not back it up. Some just believe that it's a form of rhythmic time scale that happens to coincide with the planets (something like biorhythms), but then there is no explanation as to how the cycles developed.
Personally, I've tackled with an unmeasured Lorentz invariances, but the best I can describe with it is the rising sign. It doesn't explain the planetary influences. Others believe that there is a magnetic influence between the planets, and some scientists (http://arxiv.org/abs/1104.2036) are starting to tackle this theory. However, I'll admit my skeptical side has a lot of questions for even THIS theory.
05-27-2011, 02:29 AM
Kainous and jmerle179 I have been enjoying your discussion, I too believe that skepticism is very important, we must question something to truly understand it or to see if it is even valid... Jmerle179 you said you just ordered some books so I don't know if you would want to get anymore but I have a couple suggestions if you are interested.
The only way to learn astrology (which has 6 or 7 volumes) By Marion D. March and Joan McEvers... They do a very good job of organizing the information and making it easy to digest (start with volume one and work your way through them, they also have quizzes at the back of each chapter so you can see how your progressing)
A to Z horoscope maker and interpreter By Llewellyn George... is very good
Hope this was helpful, you seem to be doing good learning the foundations so hopefully you will continue working on it :smile:
06-06-2011, 05:33 AM
I'm new here too. I'm about at the same stage as you but I'm having trouble knowing where to start. There are many types of astrology and apparently only 2 actually use the positions of the stars. If you are a skeptic I thought you'd be interested to know that. Sidereal and Vedic astrology both take in to account the drift that the stars have done over the past few thousand years. All other types are based on where the stars would be if that charts weren't updated.
I was so happy to discover this because I looked at the position of the Sun when I was born with a program called Stellarium and it showed the sun to be in Gemini when I was born and my Birthday is July 11.
I consider myself somewhat of a skeptic and can't accept answers "it's like magic I guess". So I think that we might have some things in common. I work nights and have really been inspired by the stars. I have a map of the stars and try to memorize how the planets move and how the stars shift though the season. It only seems natural for me to try to get my head around Astrology.
06-06-2011, 06:08 PM
cowtreat, are you familiar with the work on fixed stars by Bernadette Brady?
You might also enjoy this site, and the star positions from a geocentric perspective do get updated periodically. www.constellationsofwords.com (http://www.constellationsofwords.com)
Also, the biodynamic gardening approach of Rudolf Steiner and his fans uses constellations for moon-sign gardening.
Best wishes for your astro-journey!
06-06-2011, 07:34 PM
Cowtreat, I wish you better luck in your search than I've had in mine.
Being temporarily unemployed, I've had plenty of time over the past few weeks to devote to this new interest. Granted, it's not a lot of time to devote to anything, but it has been enough for me to realize the Internet is filled with TONS of crazy, contradictory astrological information. And most of what I have found is generic, the kind of stuff that can be applied to almost anyone in just about any situation.
In other words, while I really wanted to become a believer, my skepticism has only grown stronger. And truly, do I need an astrological chart to tell me that I have an interest in a creative subject or that I have loving parents and that I love my own children?
However, I've decided to give astrology another shot from a different approach. I'm going to focus on the traditional astrological model, with an emphasis on horary. At least that way, after learning how things work, I'll have a concrete way to judge its usefulness.
06-07-2011, 06:20 PM
Hello curious sceptic, I'm a newbie too. I'm really interested in this subject as I seem to be quite a sensitive person when it comes to the phases of the moon etc...
I just wanted to say - do not bother reading horoscopes in magazines and papers - they are made up for entertainment...
If you'll find time download this book - it is free, you may find many answers to why you are exploring this matter and why now....
Www.michaelpaulstephens.com - book is called Equanimous
All the best
06-08-2011, 05:09 PM
That reminds me, the moon. It's close enough that it must have some effect on us but does astrology use it's real position or historic. Maybe the moon's orbit wobbles with the earth but that doesn't seem like it would be following laws of physics.
06-09-2011, 03:12 AM
I'll repeat that astrology uses the current position of all of the planets, based on the circle of 360 degrees of longitude. It is the background-the zodiacal background-that varies with the sidereal vs tropical systems: sidereal will use the background of the planet as the starry zodiacal constellation and tropical (typical Western) will use the segment-of-space zodiacal SIGN as the background of the planet; but regardless the planet will always occupy the same current place on the 360 degree circle of longitude.
Example: Moon is at 25 degrees longitude (this is eclptic longitude)
-the Vedic rashi (starry zodiacal constellation) delineation would be: Moon at 1 degree Aries
-Western tropical (segment of space SIGN) delineation would be: Moon at 24 degrees Aries
..but either way, the Moon is at 25 degrees longitude of the 360 degree circle.
06-09-2011, 04:12 AM
Ok so right now Saturn is in Virgo if you look in the sky but Leo for Astrology. I must have misread before. That makes more sense to at least use the current position of the planets.
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