Essay: How to Increase Your Astrological Abilities
Improve Your Powers of Concentration
By Theodore White, judicial Astrolog.S
Over the past year, I've received many messages from people around the world on how they can improve their knowledge of Astrology in general, and in Mundane Astrology in particular.
Considering the lack of mundane forecasting over the years, I was not surprised to hear from some who wanted to learn how to improve their astrological abilities in this age of the "instant reading" and "now" culture that demands shortsighted views and answers to meet today's shortsighted desires and needs.
A recent article by David Bollier, titled, "More Better Faster! How Our Spastic Digital Culture Scrambles Our Brains" got me thinking about completing this essay I started over four years ago to lament the "give it to me now" syndrome that has pervaded astrology over the decades, and which has become much worse in recent years.
Bollier's article was influenced further by a lecture he said he recently attended, where he writes:
"One of the more pernicious enclosures of the commons is the enclosure of time and consciousness. It's pernicious because it is so subtle and rarely discerned. When commercial values such as productivity and efficiency become so pervasive and internalized, they crowd out other ways of being. Our very sense of humanity -- full-bodied, spontaneous, spiritual -- leaches away.
All of this was brought home clearly in a provocative lecture that I attended yesterday evening. It was called "No Time to Think," by David M. Levy, a professor at the Information School at the University of Washington.
Levy gave a chilling historical overview of how American society has become enslaved to an ethic of "more-better-faster" and is losing touch with the capacity for reflection and intuitive thinking. In an overweening commitment to constant doing and making, analyzing and thinking (which, let us note, are important human activities), we can too easily close off access to an entire realm of consciousness that is at least as important, our capacity for reflection.
Levy's research is focused on why the technological devices that are designed to connect us also seem to radically dis-connect us. As Levy puts it, "We now have the most remarkable tools for teaching and learning the world has ever known. How is it that we have less time to think than ever before?" Although our society supposedly prizes creative thought, it in fact gives little respect to the intuitive and the contemplative.
The "information society" has a certain frenetic mindlessness to it, one that takes Henry David Thoreau's famous line in Walden to a new level entirely: "We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate." Twitter may be all the rage, but surely there is something pathetic about the ascendance of Twittering as our unstructured, person-to-person social time dwindles away.
This trend has only accelerated, and become more internalized, as more and more digital technologies have become incorporated into our daily routines.
Email, cell phones, text-messaging, voicemail, Facebook, instant-messaging, Twitter, and of course the World Wide Web – they all serve useful roles. But I also realize at times that the digital communications apparatus has transformed our consciousness in some unwholesome ways. It privileges thinking that is rapid, productive and short-term, and crowds out deeper, more deliberative modes of thinking and relationships."
For more on Bollier's article, see - http://www.alternet.org/media/140982...es_our_brains/
I've seen this happen in the field of Astrology as well. Over the years, with the advent of astrological software, many who use it often have little understanding of exactly what they are seeing when they comment on events, which increasingly have become just as "rapid" and "short-term" and that also "crowds out deeper, more deliberate modes of thinking and relationships."
I have become dismayed by the increasingly rampant attachment of astrology to all things immediate, or, which happen to be in the news of the day, the news of the popular culture.
While I have no problem with studying current events astrologically at all; I've found that many students and more than enough professional astrologers spent too much time on events of the moment, often pronouncing judgments on matters they've not taken the time to study in-depth.
Events in popular culture of late, such as the sudden fame of Susan Boyle, or the deaths of entertainers like David Carradine, Farrah Fawcett and Micheal Jackson have consumed the interest of many astrological forums and discussion boards over the last month. Charts and arguments abound over who is "right" or "wrong" and pseudo astrologers rail on the lives of these individuals, often mixing in personal opinions with professed astrological insight into one form.
Some professional astrologers have joined in these discussions. Some, who are qualified enough to accurately read the charts of the subjects. Other however, seem to have nothing better to do than to jump on the bandwagon of adding their own opinions on the complex lives of others in an instant - which I find hard to believe considering the lack of forecasting ability apparent in today's age.
Don't get me wrong. There are some astrologers who I admire who clearly have their fingers on the pulse of the present times and are able to make the connection astrologically. However, there are many more professionals, students, and amateur astrologers who, with the aid of computer software, believe that somehow they are astrologically qualified to make snap judgments on the charts of others when it is quite apparent to me that they do not know what they are talking about.
What is often missing from these "snap judgments" is a deeper, fuller, and comprehensive astrological ability, knowledge that gives ways to a fuller and deliberative balance that is one of the qualities of a balanced astrologer.
We see the charts of native being "read" on forums and in discussion groups, often after the fact of events, and more often than not, with snap comments given as gospel and more suited to fit the attention span of a fly rather than a thoughtful human being and student of Astrology.
In reading Bollier's article, I was reminded of just how sad it is that some many people in the astrological community these days have become so much more connected technologically but are regressing mentally and emotionally as they dive ever deeper into the morass that is pop-culture astrology passing itself off as serious astrology with the application of software, and mention of the Part of Fortune, and error-filled techniques that are used to "explain" the life of a complex human being in a few paragraphs.
Most comments on astrology are so short as to boggle the mind. There is just is no brief way to explain the complexity of the life of any person, nor of any event, in a few sentences, or paragraphs, unless one has spent many decades practicing astrology to the master level, and even then, it is very difficult to do so.
Yet, again, we find that those who are unable to pay attention for longer than two minutes on any subject are more apt to quickly react by offering their opinions astrologically without the benefit of being able to concentrate for much longer periods of time - a iron-clad requirement of anyone who desires to become an astrologer.
Concentration and utility of thought is the most important ability one must have to practice astrology successfully. The ability to forecast comes from the application of variable mathematics with knowledge and born intuition, skill, and clairvoyance, to be able to make pronouncements astrologically.
I should know. I was trained early in expanding my powers of concentration through the study of Astrology. Although I was told I had the natural talent - I found the practice not an easy thing at all. I had to put in the hard work to learn to sustain concentration for long periods of time to become a professional astrologer someday.
Since my childhood days of study in Classical Scientific Astrology from the tender age of 10, I've often thought how fortunate I was to have started learning the basics of astrology just prior to the emergence of the digital age.
However, I did not want to do it. As a boy, all I wanted to do was play baseball, basketball, tennis, and football forever. I had a chemistry set in my room, and my parents thought I was going to be some kind of scientist. I wanted to be an astronaut-athlete.
If not for a silly scientific experiment where I used a medicine dropper to dab small amounts of food coloring liquid on my sisters' cheeks as they slept, I most likely would not have gone the route of astrology in the way I did.
The results were shrill girly screams and damnation the next morning that their brother ruined their beauty for life, and thus came down the ultimate punishment from my mother that led her taking every single piece of all my sports equipment - bats, balls, racquets, hockey sticks, skates, etc., etc., even my baseball cards - and locking it away for an entire summer.
The longest summer of my life.
Mom then banished her only son off to some kind of strange summer school where they taught Latin, Greek, astrology, astronomy, and all the things I just knew I would hate to the end of time. I was the only 10-year old there. I spent the first week trying to figure out a scientific method to get rid of the splotches of food coloring stains stuck on my sisters' cheeks.
It was my first lesson in scientific humility. Hell hath no fury like a girls' scorn.
Thinking back though, if not for my curiosity with food coloring, and testing it on my sisters rather than myself (a good scientist never does that) I wouldn't have learned to find joy in contemplating the mysteries of the universe. Heck, I was more interested in learning how to throw a fastball at the time.
But, from that first year, I was trained in learning to observe the natural world, and from there, the years spent in extensive reading and study, observing the cold night skies for hours on end with my telescopes, and calculating aspects to cast horoscopes by hand without the aid of a computer - powerfully increased my concentration abilities, and allowed me the time, and space to form deeper thoughts about what I was seeing in the transits of the planets and stars and how this all correlated to events in the lives of us on Earth.
Often, when casting a horoscope by hand, drawing the aspects from planet to planet, and working out the movement of transits by reading an ephemeris, thoughts will come to the astrologer that allow him/her to delve deeply into the meaning of the subject, place and time one is concentrating on without giving way to personal views, and opinions.
Computer digital astrological software, and the ability to immediately create a horoscope within seconds, while improving the speed of this time-consuming act of casting a chart - has also greatly damaged the ability of many to be able to "read" a chart, and to forecast.
This takes away from the knowledge and abilities of those who have not learned to develop deeper, and more deliberate thoughts on what it is that they are doing astrologically.
Some would say that I am "old school" - however, this would not be accurate. I was born in the time of the computer age, but at a time when the digital world was not dominant and where the personal touch was still very much in fashion. I learned to do things by hand first - and then learned to work by computer, which I continue to use as a tool - but never a philosophy - in my practice of astrology.
After 36 years of intense astrological work, I've come to better appreciate how the countless days, weeks, months, and years invested studying and practicing the principles and disciplines of Astrology - from Natal forecasting, to Mundane, to weather forecasting - has significantly shaped me as a person, and a professional astrologer - especially in the historic global era we are now entering.
Being an astrologer is not easy. When one is fully conscious of transits on a day-to-day basis, and interacts with the world-at-large, one has to often refrain from slapping other people across the face.
This, the slapping, is to wake people up to the truth of the transits, which the majority of people are completely blind. The average person has no idea where the Earth, the Moon, or the Sun is located at any time, and is unconscious of the fact that they live inside a ball, a planet, which is always in motion, like the time itself, and the weather, and the seasons. The temporal world means that all things are in flux at all times, and that nothing stays the same for long.
If one studies the astrological texts and pictographs from Middle European Ages, one will see prints of two astrologers standing on a public street - talking civilly with one another, and pointing to the skies with their eyes open. All around the astrologers are people, dressed in regular clothing, but they are wearing blindfolds, smiling, and chasing rabbits in every direction.
These prints were used to train astrologers to the truth of the discipline they were about to embark on. The life of an astrologer is not easy.
Most people are unaware of their own time cycles, or even the day of the week they were born on, much less know where any of their positions are located according to the time cycle they were born in, or, even give any consideration to it at all.
Even many astrologers will say that they are this or that Sun Sign according to where the Sun was located when they were born, but fail to note that if one has a Sun in Cancer, that the Earth was in the sign of Capricorn, or, if one was born with a Sun in tropical Gemini, that the Earth was in Sagittarius - and just where did one's birth take place - on the Sun, or, on the Earth?
By the time I turned 40, I realized how lucky I was to learn to encompass a very wide and general understanding of Astrology that covers both main branches - Judicial and Natural Astrology - while also having the leisure to develop profound thoughts to build over time by maintaining a constant study of the History of Astrology, and of the world, which is the central foundation to practice astrology in all its applications.
In today's world - the rapid fire, quick judgment pronouncements often come from people who literally are unable to cast horoscopes by hand, much less note the constellations by sight in the skies or who are able to forecast weather in the physical world, but seem quite willing to forecast the inner weather of the metaphysical world with ease.
I've challenged other astrologers to learn astrometeorology. To give up forecasting for others until they've learned to consistently forecast their own local weather months in advance. There are those who have not listened, who say that they find it too difficult to do, which makes me wonder just how they are able to forecast for human beings (who are so much more complicated) but are not willing to learn to apply one of the first uses of Astrology - which was to simply forecast the weather?
I discovered that before I sought to help people in their lives applying astrology, that I had better learn to truly forecast. The only way I could prove I could do this was to test myself on forecasting the climate and weather months and years in advance.
The basic tenants of astrology must be also used to know what percentages of success and errors one sits on. By observing the transits, reading my ephemeris every day, for years, and keen recording and noting of the weather, I learned how to forecast well enough to maintain an 85-percent accuracy rating no matter what. This way, I figured, the remaining 15% would provide me with ample incentive to further refine my skills and concentration to become a better forecaster - and later, a professional astrologer.
By finding interest in what drove the laws of the natural world, and learning to forecast advance weather applying Astrology from studying the works of C.C. Zain, George McCormack, Inigo Jones, Irving Krick, and Theodor Lanscheidt, among others, I gained confidence that Astrology was indeed a science as much as it is an art - since I could see the physical proof of astrological forecasting in the world's weather.
By checking my hits and misses, my successes and my failures over the years, I was able to discover my strengths and weaknesses, my gaps, and then to work feverishly on these gaps before allowing anyone to come near me requesting astrological consultations.
Some would say that Astrology is not a "science" - using the word "science" in the way of the current Age of Reason's conventional description of the word. However, what most people forget is that Astrology is the Mother of all the Sciences - for we would not have astronomy, biology, geography, mathematics, medicine, or meteorology and a host of other branches of the sciences without her.
I use the world "science" when it comes to Astrology in the same way I would use the word "discipline" - for all sciences are in fact, known disciplines, with rules, and principles, that follow a logic, a kind of order, but which always allows for expansion and growth - since there is always more knowledge to acquire from the future, as well as from the past - from what is unknown to the known as time elapses and humanity evolves.
I based my philosophy of Astrology as much as on its discipline as a science as on the theological foundations from which Astrology originated - from the Holy Scriptures, and other books of divinity I studied during my classical astrological training.
Later, I came to discover that something the classical astrologer Abraham Ibn Erza wrote, and learned from astrologers before his time, was indeed true for what connects transits to all things -
A portion is recounted here by the writer David McCann -
"Following Aristotle and the Platonists, Abraham divided the universe into three parts: the spiritual, celestial, and sublunary worlds. The celestial world serves to link the two others, transmitting God's will to earth.
This is why Astrology played such a central part in medieval thought, providing a basic framework for explanation and classification: e.g. a modern textbook on mineralogy classifies rocks by their composition, but a medieval one by their astrological rulership.
Like all medieval philosophers, Abraham accepted that the stars exercised a direct influence; but only on the body, for the soul belongs to the spiritual world. This influence can only be altered miraculously, but that can be done not just by God, but also by virtuous people (like the prophets of Israel) who have united themselves to God.
Like many modern astrologers, Abraham also held that it is possible to modify the influence of a planet by accepting it. In other words, if you have a transit of Saturn, any sort of Saturnian activity voluntarily undertaken will fulfill the requirements of fate and prevent further, less welcome, Saturnian experiences.
In this context, he explained the ancient Jewish ritual of driving out and stoning the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement as an acceptance of the influence of Mars for the year, by a Martian action towards a Martian animal.
Similarly, he held that it was possible to attract the favourable influences of the planets by the use of things ruled by them - i.e. through the sort of planetary magic later associated with Marsilio Ficino - though he admitted that this is prohibited by Talmudic law."
Some of the teachers and authors I've read and studied: from the ancient classical works of Abraham Ibn Ezra, Al-Kindi, Al-Biruni, Claudius Ptolemy, Placido Titi, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Galileo, William Lilly, John Dee; to the works of Issac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Cross Smith (Raphael) and Nicholas Culpeper - all followed the same line of thought and astrological practice I discovered. I decided to study this, and to do the same.
I learned much from the prophetic works of the judicial astrologer Michel Nostradamus; to the more modern astrological works of Walter Richard Old (Sepharial) Robert Thomas Cross (Raphael #7) William Gann, Frederick Van Norstrand, Evangeline Adams, Elsbeth Ebertin, Reinhold Ebertin, Charles Jayne, George Noonan, Dane Rudhyar, and Robert Zoller - some of the finest minds in astrology that helped to shape my own practice as an astrologer.
However, during the 1980s, 1990s, and especially over the past 10 years, I've witnessed the digital age take away the ability to be "still" and to reflect astrologically on the work at hand. The quick judgments, the unprofessional practices, and the lack of forecasting ability made simpler by the wide use of astrological software did not increase the knowledge and understanding required to be of use to the astrologer - or the client.
What people - our clients - face today is a very uncertain world that is becoming more complex and evermore unresponsive to the most basic human needs. The fast-paced, electronically-urgent, "give it to me right now" atmosphere and digital environment is causing people to lose real human connections with their neighbors, friends, co-workers, lovers, families, communities - and, ultimately - with themselves.
At this time in history, this is dangerous, considering the wealth of aspects between the outer planets and the sensitive seasonal points that the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are now coming to touch.
We are less than a year away from the coming Cardinal Climax transits of 2010. I do not see much time in recovering from the years of wasted time eaten up by surface-feeders who would intrude on the quality time of others for them to learn, to love, and to grow, according to the celestial transits that regulate our world.
The results of this has been a culturally-stagnant, cynical, know-it-all, yet confused society that is out of touch with itself but uses the digital world as a security blanket to pretend that the human connections lacked are really still there because one carries a cell phone/digital camera, an iPod, and a laptop.
There is no quiet time any longer - people seem to be filling every conceivable second with noise - talking on cell phones while driving, text-messaging while driving and walking down the street, - many people appear to be in constant communications - but what are they really saying? I have time for you - but I don't?
Children are scheduled for "play time" like one schedules a conference. Popular news is disseminated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without the time to assimilate what is, or has happened before another event pushes the other clear out of the way and the new event is discussed to death in gossip-like language before yet another subject takes over.
All this surface-thinking - if one can call it thinking - has already affected the way that people concentrate. A woman commented to me the other day that she is finding it hard for people to perform the simple act of counting money without the need of a digital register to make change.
Bollier writes -
"The scary thing is that we are slowly "papering over" the forms of human consciousness that we regard as gratuitous….yet which history has shown are essential to a meaningful life. We are sabotaging those inner capacities of consciousness that we need to be present to others and ourselves."
In fact, many people seeking astrological assistance are, in my view, not well-served these days by the majority of astrologers because the dependence on surface reactive thinking has overcome their ability to think at all in order to provide answers to what is happening in society and how to navigate all of this in light of the world transits to come.
The world is what we make it, and the transits create the temporal atmosphere we inhabit, and inclines us, but does not impel us. We are the masters of our own fates in accordance with the laws of the universe, as delineated by the movements of our own transits.
However, it does not bode well for Astrology unless more professional astrologers, students and amateur astrologers become serious about this science and art to the point of refusing to buy into the fatal mistake of making snap judgments in a rush to meet the demands of the popular digital culture without first being positively sure that one can indeed "read" and forecast accurately, while remembering that real people have feelings, and clients everywhere deserve the very best that we, as professional astrologers are able to provide.
If you've read to this point in this essay, then you might still have the opportunity to save yourself from the digital "now" climate sweeping over society, and to retain the humanity that comes along with being able to focus long enough on something to the point of also allowing yourself to deeply reflect on what you've just read - without making any snap value judgments.
The ability to concentrate for over 30 minutes and longer - especially in this present time and age - is a very good sign for anyone who desires to seriously practice Astrology.
Bollier, in his article on the effects of the "now" Digital world on society, comments further -
"According to Thomas Eriksen of the University of Oslo, author of Tyranny of the Moment, the electronic environment systematically favors "fast time" activities that require instant, urgent responses (email, cell phone calls, etc.)
Such stimuli tend to crowd out "slow time activities" such as "reflection, play and long-term love relationships," said Levy.
Levy pointed out that this dynamic has an especially perverse effect in academia, which is supposed to be somewhat insulated from the larger society so that students and scholars can think more broadly and with longer range perspectives.
But in fact, universities mirror the rest of society, and the dwindling time to think is as much a problem within the academy as anywhere else.
As instrumental, short-term, applied goals take center-stage, our society has less access to the wisdom and complexity that deep, reflective thinking can provide. This is a major loss.
The ancients had a word for it: "leisure." In the original sense of the word, leisure was not a consumer-oriented activity like golfing or movie-going, or even "relaxation."
It involved having time to ponder and reflect on the world. The words "school" and "scholar" have their etymological roots in the Greek and Latin words for these activities, Levy noted.
According to Josef Pieper, a German Catholic philosopher, "leisure is a form of stillness that is the necessary preparation for accepting reality; only the person who is still can hear, and whoever is not still cannot hear."
Pieper, writing in the 1940s, worried about a world of "total work" that would make a "total claim upon the whole of human nature."
It's safe to say that that future has arrived. The very coinage of the term 24/7 and "real time" (usually as a virtue!) confirms the ubiquitous social reality of "total work."
Fast-time activities absolutely crowd out slow-time alternatives. The now eclipses the timeless. And we are becoming diminished creatures in the process."