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Research and Development This is a forum designed for applying scientific methods and understanding to all approaches of astrology, cooperative formulation and testing of new ideas, re-examination of known methods of delineation and interpretation, and the exploration of new astrological methods of all kinds (e.g. heliocentric models, planetary nodes and apogees, etc.).

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Unread 12-23-2014, 03:48 PM
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Re: Origins of psychological astrology?

Originally Posted by waybread View Post
Unfortunately -- as you know -- most empirical studies of astrology have not affirmed astrology's predictive or character delineation abilities. We need to ask ourselves why this is so.
I've done so, and the obvious implication — ta da! — is that most of the specific predictive or character delineation abilities that have been tested are not valid.

Do we need bigger data sets, better controls, more sophisticated statistical methods?
Wouldn't hurt, and in fact that's exactly what the Gauquelins did, and their findings suggest there is something to astrology, but not what astrologers thought.

Or do we fundamentally need to rethink both astrology and how we study it?
Yes. That's what I've been doing.

If it's the latter, then we need to start at square- or step-one. This isn't even the hypothesis-formulation stage, but getting a much broader and deeper awareness of the process of astrology.
We should ask, what's the basic assumption of astrology that makes it astrology and not something else, and I'd say it's that there are parallels between change in the heavens and change here on earth, especially as it involves people's lives. We can then note that elements of the former are regular, and look for elements of the latter that are equally regular and that more or less match the timing of the former.

We have to acknowledge the enormous contribution of subjectivity to astrology.
No we don't, except perhaps to explain why we are presently so extremely limited in our knowledge of astrological phenomena. The explanation is that most astrologers are not objective in evaluating truth claims — what we think we know — in fact, don't appear to know how to be objective, because astrology hasn't advanced that far and it's therefore not part of the curriculum. The subjectivity that is so ubiquitous in astrology isn't a contribution to but a drag on its progress and an indication of its current backwardness as a field of study.

No two astrologers will interpret the same chart identically, and even standard astrology cookbooks can give radically different interpretations of the same variable, so the whole basis on which variables and their effects could be identified and defined first has to be explored.
No two astrologers interpret the same chart the same, standard astrology cookbooks sometimes give radically different interpretations, and six competent astrologers can give six different rectified birth times for Churchill, all wrong, because of the way astrologers learn to reason when they learn astrology. We learn to create meanings via standard word games (i.e., astrological symbolism), loose logic and a multitude of factors, rather than going by which effects have been observed to reliably coincide with which astrological factors.

Some astrologers are far more accurate than others
For the most part no. Some astrologers seem more accurate than others because they're more facile, better able to play the word games so characteristic of astrology and create interpretations that seem logical to astrologers even though they're no more valid that the more clumsy creations of those who are less verbally adept.

so we need to look at what the astrologer brings to the process of astrology, not imagine a kind of disembodied planet-subject effect. Several fields have been termed "both an art and a science," such as medical diagnoses and map-making; and we neglect the more intuitive "art" portion at our peril. Astrology doesn't exist without subjective human beings who read horoscopes.
Subjective human beings can in principle agree, based on observations, on the effects of various configurations, just as astronomers do in fact agree, thanks to observations, on the distances, speeds and orbital shapes of the sun-orbiting bodies in our solar system. What astrologers bring to astrology are learned ways of fudging, absorbed via exposure to paradigms, invisible to the astrologer herself, that make whatever specific beliefs astrologers currently hold, even though often contradictory and almost always wrong, appear to "work for me."

In a horoscope, planets modify one another's actions. If we are looking at a synergistic system, then we can't just isolate variables for study, because they don't operate (or don't operate normally) outside of hundreds of interactions. (Astrology isn't the only field with this problem, incidentally, it is common to real-world complex systems.)
Did you, or did the astrologers whose word you're taking first-hand, second-hand . . . or one hundredth-hand, discover the effects/meanings of signs, houses, progressions, traditional and modern rulerships ("I look at both"), or intercepted planets, all of which you've unequivocally expressed a belief in, by anything remotely resembling the means you allude to above? If not, what is the basis for your beliefs? Apparently you and astrologers who share a belief in traditional astrological concepts (even if not the same ones!) get a free pass. In a post in the Read My Chart/Children in Birth Chart thread you say that "Saturn's location in a chart can indicate some disappointments or delays in that area." Yet in this and other methodological discussions you claim it's not possible, with everything affecting everything else, to isolate the effect of a single factor, at least not by any means that you or any other astrologer can credibly be considered to have used. I of course disagree. Every Saturn Return will be different, because no factor acts in isolation — they all affect one another — but I nonetheless say it's possible in principle to study detailed accounts of a hundred Saturn Returns, and notwithstanding the fact that each will be unique nonetheless see something they have in common. Conversely, if this is not so, if there is no detectable commonality even in principle, then by the same argument there's absolutely nothing you or any other astrologer can meaningfully say about any Saturn Return . . . or for that matter any other individual factor. Your posts are full of apodictic statements that belie your methodological arguments.

Originally Posted by waybread View Post
Spock-- one more thing, a complication in your statement,
Originally Posted by spock View Post
I have also argued . . . that while astrological effects are indeed interconnected in practice, nonetheless they can be analytically separated to determine what each contributes to the whole.
Astrology seems to work, if imperfectly, across a wide range of practices: Vedic vs. western modern vs. western traditional; horary, sidereal vs. tropical, Magi or Uranian vs. conventional, and so on. It's fine to analytically separate out signs or houses in a highly focused analysis; but then people's planetary signs are typically different in Vedic vs. western tropical astrology (by 24 to 27degrees, depending whom you ask.) Signs mean something different in medical astrology than they do in mundane astrology. Ceres is still treated like a relatively unimportant asteroid (despite its dwarf planet status) in modern psychological astrology; whereas in Magi astrology Ceres as seen as a serious malefic. Essential dignities are essential to traditional western astrology, whereas most modern astrologers don't use most of them. In horary astrology we aren't looking at birth charts, but at questions like, "Where is my missing cat?"
The operative phrase is "seems to work," which I've addressed on multiple occasions. Another way of putting it would be "doesn't actually work" in most or all of the instances cited. All of the above seem to work because of the fudge factor(s) built into all extant astrologies. That doesn't mean correspondences between the celestial and terrestrial spheres don't exist, only that astrologers don't know what they are or have only vague ideas about what they are, nothing resembling the clarity with which we normally perceive what we think we know.

I think you could conduct a study as a kind of fishing expedition with no preconceptions, just to see what lands in the net, sort of like the Gauquelins did. But a research design that cannot accommodate all of astrology's complexities might not yield the simple results you seem to look for.
Except that's not what the Gauquelins did. They tested various existing ideas, including Lasson's claim that eminent professionals in a number of occupations tend to have certain planets above the Asc or past the MC. Most of Lasson's claims did not bear out, and for the two that did, Mars for eminent athletes and Jupiter for military men (but only for culminating, not rising Jupiter, because Lasson didn't think successful military men would be as fat as he thought Jupiter rising should indicate), Lasson's statistical results were flawed and thus invalid. Gauquelin found (while somewhat unfairly dismissing Lasson's claim because of the direction in which he numbered houses) that Mars and Jupiter were indeed nonrandomly distributed for those two professional groups, and ditto for other planets for other groups as well, including nonrandom avoidance of the angles for some of the planet/eminent professional correlations. Statistical studies can affirm or fail to affirm and in the former case further refine existing ideas, but they can't in and of themselves come up with new ideas. New ideas that turn out to be capable of passing such tests must be arrived at by other means, some of which I've previously outlined.

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Unread 12-23-2014, 08:33 PM
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Re: Origins of psychological astrology?

Spock, there is no point in debating you further over hypotheticals. Good luck with your research. I will read your results with great interest when you report them.

I assume your research will extend to horary astrology at some point.
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Unread 12-24-2014, 11:15 AM
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Re: Origins of psychological astrology?

Originally Posted by spock View Post

Your citation of Dr. Farr's post jogs my memory. While I was doing my study of the Uranus/Neptune cycle (which resulted in a series of posts to the Festival mailing list in 1995) I encountered Gary Tomlinson's Music in Renaissance Magic: Toward a Historiography of Others. I was looking for turning points coincident with Uranus/Neptune conjunctions, and the developments cited by Tomlinson was one of them. From the blurb: "Under Ficino's influence, other philosophers gave special prominence to music, while music theorists sought to explain music's astrological and magical qualities. Tomlinson details new links forged between cosmology and musical technique around 1500, against the background of a burgeoning familiarity with ancient thought in late fifteenth-century Europe. He also offers an original interpretation of Ficino's astrological songs and characterizes the widespread diffusion of Ficino's musical epistemology in the century after his death; analyzes the presence of music in early modern mysticism; and, with examples from Monteverdi, isolates magical and nonmagical premises reflected in musical expression around 1600." The book also reveals much about the development of astrology per se at this time thanks to Ficino's efforts, albeit this wasn't Tomlinson's primary intent. (Turning points in astrology's development have coincided with several of these conjunctions, possibly all of them given sufficient historical knowledge.)

Thanks to Dr. Farr's comments quoted by you I just ordered Thomas Moore's book, for which the correct title is The Planets Within: The Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino, and am looking forward to receiving it. I suspect it will clarify the purely astrological implications of Ficino's work, including its psychological dimension. However, I also encountered the following cautionary review, with which Moore subsequently agreed: "Marsilio Ficino was an astrologer and mystic - one of the precious few produced in the western sphere. It therefore seems somewhat strange that Thomas More seems so deeply uncomfortable with this singular fact and, at every turn, attempts some alchemy of his own in an attempt to cram all of Ficino's depth into the little box of analytical psychology (which remains an admirable field, nonetheless). Psychological insight can be of incalculable value in making mystical and esoteric treatises of the past more comprehensible to the modern reader but these are things which speak to man's heart and guts and soul... not just his psyche and I assert that by contorting Ficino into the proto-psychologist of the renaissance you end up disavowing the greater part of his genius - a tragedy. If you are uncomfortable with the reality of astrology, Mr Moore, I suggest you leave the astrologers in peace." — Courtney Field. What the review implies is that Moore overstated the psychological at the expense of the astrological dimensions of Ficino's writings. Moore himself subsequently acknowledged, "Courtney, You're right. I wrote this book in 1973. I've learned a lot since then, and I have wished I could retract some statements in my book that take away from astrology. Since then I have lectured and taught at astrological meetings and find that, even with my limited understanding at the time, my book offers some insights." It'll be interesting to read the book and sort some of this out.

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astrology, origins, psychological

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