Astrology as a Traditional Science, Part I: The Origins of Rationalism

An interesting discussion emerged in the comments for one of my previous articles, The Outer Planets: A Theory.  As a result of this discussion, a friend of mine wrote an article discussing Traditional Cosmology, which may be a bit challenging for modern Western practitioners of Classical Astrology.  The article is here.  I would posit that this is the challenge of restoring astrology as a true traditional science, rather than succumbing to the temptation of trying to force our art and craft into the mold of modern science.

In this blog, I have used the term traditional science, but I have not defined its meaning. A traditional science is a study which applies metaphysical principles in a practical way to our material and physical lives. Until the Enlightenment in the West, all science was traditional science. This is the reason why the Roman Catholic Church concerned itself with the teachings of Galileo. It is hard to see this today because modern science has divorced itself from matters of metaphysics, theology, and religion. While there are modern scientists that are deeply spiritual and religious, there has been a “Chinese Wall” that has been built between science and religion that is strengthened and supported by both sides.

Plato and AristotleWhile the so-called “Enlightenment” was the beginning of the final stages of this movement, its roots in the West go very deep. The “Enlightenment” was really started by the nominalist movement who had proponents such as William of Ockham, but even this movement has deeper roots. When I began my studies of essentialist metaphysics, I found myself in disharmony with my teachers as I was trying to place what I had learned in Classical Astrology into essentialist teachings. It was not until I read an article by Robert Hand that I understood why. It all began as a  disagreement that Aristotle had with his teacher, Plato, on the nature of Perfect Form. If I understand the nature of this disagreement correctly, Aristotle taught that all Forms must manifest on the material plane, so that if a Form did not exist on the material plane, it could not exist on the metaphysical level as a Perfect Form. It seems to me that this was the idea that eventually led to modern substantialism.

This notion added a corollary to the axiom, “as above, so below,” teaching “if not below, than not above.” This created the false dichotomy between science and religion, because now, if something was discovered on the material plane that did not match theology, metaphysics, and philosophy, this discovery called into question the doctrines of these disciplines.  This led to a new corollary, “as below, so above.”  The doctrine of nominalism takes this a step further teaching, “there is no above, there is only below.”

It is against this backdrop that the “Enlightenment” became possible, and this is the backdrop against which all Western astrologers must attempt to practice their craft.  With the understanding of Ideal Form having been dismissed and lost, astrologers were left to explain and practice their craft in a world where the fundamental principles of the science were no longer taught or believed.  Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that astrologers themselves began to confuse the actual physical bodies of the planets for what they represented.  It is also not surprising that the “discovery” of new planets and astronomical bodies would lead astrologers to doubt their forerunners, as the true understanding of their craft had been long lost and disregarded by Western society.

In order to reclaim astrology as a true traditional science, I would posit that we must turn back the clock and develop an understanding of the essentialist metaphysical principles upon which this craft is based.

Astrology as a Traditional Science, Part II:  Angels and Archetypes

Mummies and Luminaries

One of the biggest challenges to practitioners of traditional sciences, such as astrology, is that of setting aside the prejudices that have been instilled in us from modern education.  One of the prejudices is a pervasive form of arrogance, which can be summarized by the formula: “Primitive people believed ……., but now we know…….”  When metaphysical principles are taught at all, they are taught from this perspective.

Here is an example of this type of teaching from Grout’s History of Western Music (3rd Edition)

For some Greek thinkers music also had a close connection with astronomy, not only through the identity of mathematical laws that were thought to underlie both the system of musical intervals and the system of the heavenly bodies, but also through a particular correspondence of certain modes and even certain notes with the various planets.  Such magical connotations and extensions of music were common among all Eastern peoples.  The idea was given poetic form by Plato in the beautiful myth of the “music of the spheres”; it is echoed by writers on music throughout the Middle Ages, and appears also in Shakespeare and Milton.  Ptolemy, one of the most important of the ancient writers on music, was also the leading astronomer of antiquity–as, in our own day, many of the best amateurs of music are physical scientists.

Now, at first, one may not think that this statement is too bad, but, as it turned out it was the only reference to the metaphysics of music in one of the more important textbooks for the study of music theory.

MummyAnother such example is the modern interpretation of Egyptian mummification practices.  During the mummification process, the heart was careful preserved intact in the body and the brain was discarded as unimportant.  The modern interpretation of this is that the Egyptians did not understand anatomy, and they did not know what the brain did.  From even a pragmatic standpoint, this condescending interpretation is contrary to the available data.  The fact that mummies thousands of years old are available to us to study should be enough to convince us that this culture had a very sophisticated understanding of the human body.  If we let go of the prejudice that has been instilled in us, we can start to really think about what the Egyptians may have been doing.

Unlike the modern perspective, from a traditionalist perspective, it is axiomatic that our forebears were our superiors, and that they knew more than we do now.  So rather than presuming that the Egyptians did not know what they were doing, the presumption changes to being that they knew and understood something that we have lost.  As it turns out, from a metaphysical standpoint, this practice is quite fascinating, and is instructive to us in re-educating ourselves to understanding traditional science.

The starting point for this analysis is that the Egyptians carefully preserved the heart.  ImageWhile modern Western society associates the heart with love, specifically romantic love, traditionally, the Heart was always Solar.  From a traditionalist perspective, Solar does not refer to the physical Sun, but to the Solar principle (although the physical Sun is the cosmic representation of the Solar principle).  The Solar principle is the Creative Aspect of the Divine, or the Mother principle.  The Solar principle in humans, as microcosms of the cosmos, is that part of us which is always connected to and even One with the Divine.

Traditionalists speak of the Solar Intellect, which is the part inside of us that understands all things.  In this day and age in the West, we have lost our understanding of the Solar Intellect, but the concept is still present in Eastern thought.

Just as the physical Moon reflects the light of the physical Sun, the Lunar principle is a reflection of the Solar principle.  The Lunar principle governs all physicality.  The Lunar principle also represents our individual souls.  The reflection of Solar Intellect is Lunar Reason.  Lunar Reason is how we process information on the material plane.  We also use Lunar Reason to process information we receive from our senses and to intuit matters that lie beyond our senses. We also use Lunar Reason to make inferences and to synthesize information into a usable form.

In modern times, we tend to believe that the information we receive from our senses is the most reliable information; however, this was not the case in the Ancient world.  Although, the brain or head being governed by the Lunar principle is not nearly as universal as the heart being governed by the Solar principle, the anatomical function of the brain almost directly corresponds with the concept of Lunar Reason.   Interestingly enough, there has been research that has shown that recipients of heart transplants take on the characteristics of the heart donor, so it is possible that the heart may have an anatomical function that is congruent with its metaphysical function.

So, if we were to presume that the Egyptians knew exactly what they were doing, this becomes quite instructive to us.  The Egyptians careful preserved the heart, which symbolically represents the Solar Principle.  They discarded the brain, which is the anatomical seat of Lunar Reason.  This would mean that they believed that in the afterlife, we would need our Solar Intellect, but that we would no longer need our Lunar Reason.  From a Traditionalist perspective, this is exactly right.  Lunar Reason is necessary for us in the world of flux and change, but the Solar Intellect is what survives and what is eternal.  Lunar Reason is also necessarily subordinate to Solar Intellect.

This is a huge change in the schema most of us were raised with.  We have been taught that the sense-data plus Lunar Reason are all that exists and that all we can be sure of is what we can process with our senses or derive from our senses.  The Traditionalist perspective is exactly the opposite.  The symbolic and the metaphysical is what we can be sure of.  The information we receive from our senses is transitory, part of the world of flux and change.  In other words, from the perspective of the Eternal, our Hearts are of primary importance, but our brain is only important from the perspective of our physical, material existence.

The Outer Planets – A Theory

One of the big controversies in astrology is what planets should be included in reading charts.  In particular, what do we do with the planets that have been discovered since the 18th Century, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.  We have already established that these planets are not a part of the Traditional Model of the Cosmos.  One of the difficulties with Modern Astrology is that it abandoned the traditional model of the cosmos and traditional techniques in favor of new “discoveries.”

Traditional Astrology has been gaining ground in the past decade or so, which tries to retrieve and relearn techniques that have been long lost from Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance times.  Current practitioners of the craft of Traditional Astrology are not in agreement as to whether the modern planets should included in chart reading.  Some will argue that the modern planets have no meaning at all; others will argue that they DO have meaning, but that they should not be given rulerships or dignities in the signs of the zodiac.  In my own practice, I will have to say that it took me a while to formulate a theory regarding these planets.  For many years, I did not use then at all, and I hardly missed them.  Yet, when I included them in my readings, I did find that there was an added dimension to the chart by including them.  I did notice that they did not have the higher spiritual meanings ascribed to them by New Age astrologers.  Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were malefics, pure and simple.

It was only recently, after reading The Feminine Universe, by Miss Alice Lucy Trent that I began to understand a possible new approach to these planets.  The Feminine Universe described three poisons of the Modern Era.  These poisons are atomization, deracination, and deformation.  It is axiomatic and generally agreed by astrologers that give any meaning at all to the modern planets is that their meaning is informed by the social and political conditions taking place when they were “discovered,” and most would agree that they did not have any meaning whatsoever until after their discovery.  If this was the case, then any meaning ascribed to them would have to be unique to the modern world.  As I thought about the meanings ascribed to these planets and compared them with the description of the above mentioned poisons, they fit almost perfectly together.  Below are the definitions of these poisons, as described by The Feminine Universe.

Don't Tread on MeAtomization

This is the force that separates us from one another.  In societies before the Modern Era, people lived most of their lives in community and in family.  One’s identity in the world was based on one’s community and family connections.  People did not make major decisions on their own.  In Modern times, we are very much cut off from each other, even our own families.  People live alone.  We have complicated governmental programs and insurance to help us in cases of emergency, whereas, in the past, one might rely on one’s family and community to care for us.  In many ways, the United States and other democratic nations are founded on atomization, and it is glorified as “rugged individualism.”  Interestingly enough, the meaning ascribed to Uranus is that of individualism, that which makes us separate and different from one another.  Uranus was discovered in 1781, around the time of the American and French Revolutions.

Downtown Chicago


Deracination is the force that cuts us off from our roots and from our traditions.  This poison affects us in many different ways, from the way we dress to our manners and our furniture.  We no longer understand or care about our traditions.  Our understanding of our place in the world and in our community becomes confused and unclear.  This very much fits with the meaning ascribed to Neptune, confusion and lack of definition or clarity.  Neptune was discovered in 1846.  Interestingly enough, the Theosophical Society, which had a huge role in separating traditional sciences, such as astrology, from their roots, was founded in 1875.  In the last half century, deracination has become quite rampant and is most noticeable in the deterioration of our clothing choices and our manners since the mid-1960’s in the West.


The last, and probably most destructive of these three poisons is the poison of Deformation.  This poison is one of inversion, an intentional creation of dark and disturbing images.  One can hardly watch television or consume any modern media without encountering rampant deformation.  The meaning ascribed to Pluto is of death and destruction, a fitting meaning to a planet named with the name of the Lord of the Underworld.  Pluto was discovered in 1930, the time period in between the World Wars, and right before World War II.  It is about 30 years later that Western civilization began a rampant deterioration that the Feminine Universe describes as the Eclipse.  

Now, if the Traditional Planets represent the Higher Cosmological Spheres, it is not hard to extrapolate that the three Outer Planets represent Lower Spheres, or the Outer Darkness, referred to in the Christian tradition.  Interestingly enough, these planets may have very well been known about in Ancient times.  Certainly, Uranus was.  Our Ancient forebears knew enough not to intentionally invoke these planets, however.

In my own astrological practice, I have begun to look to these planets from the viewpoint of places where a Native is most vulnerable to the poisons of atomization, deracination and deformation.  In so doing, I have found that this reading has given me far greater accuracy than any other reading of these planets that I have ever tried.

The Traditional Model of the Cosmos

“The Earth moves, but Heaven is still.  The rim revolves, but the Centre remains without motion.”

“At the rim is the movement greatest; close unto the centre is it the least.  Where there is no movement, there is purity.”

The Clew of the Horse, The Gospel of Our Mother God, Sun Daughter Press, 2008

The Traditional Model of the Cosmos is not truly a geocentric model as is popularly believed.

Ptolemy Model of Cosmos

The Center of this model is not the earth; the Center is the Highest Heaven, where God in Her Highest Form resides.   The Earth is between the Higher and the Lower Spheres, or the Axial Plane.  In the Christian Bible, the lower realms are referred to as the “outer darkness.”  To understand this, we really must remember that the Traditional Model of the Cosmos does *not* represent the physical universe (or solar system) that we can understand with our senses.  The most commonly known version of this model is the one set forth by Ptolemy.  This model shows the physical representation of this model in the form of the movements of the heavenly bodies, or the substance.  As we have discussed in previous articles, substance is always derived from Essence.  The Higher Planes are “above,” the earth (as in the planet we reside on) and the physical universe are “below.”  The Highest Heaven being the unmoving Center is evidenced by every lower Sphere having movement, and the Higher the sphere, the slower the movement.  The movement is greatest in the Sphere just above the physical universe, the Lunary Sphere.

The Center does not move.  The Earth is below the Higher Spheres.  There are also lower spheres below the Earth, but those I will address in another article.  The Earth is not just the physical planet we live on.  The Earth, in this model, is everything we can experience with the senses or measure with tools and instruments.  This is the world of flux and change.  Everything that modern science would describe as part of “the Universe” is “the Earth” in this model.

Now, there is a sense that the Earth *is* the center, as we see in the Ptolemaic model.  I will address this more fully in a future article, but the Earth also represents the Axial Plane or the place of choice.  There is also a sense that the Sun is the center, as I will discuss further in this article.  This is a matter of perspective, and these three views are not contrary to each other.  One of the differences between Traditional Science and what we consider science in modern times is that paradox is an accepted part of Traditional Science.  For the purposes of this article, though, the Highest Heaven is the Center.

The Highest Heaven is beyond manifestation.  At this level, all is One with the Divine.  Space and time are meaningless at this level.  The Highest Heaven is that which is beyond our human comprehension.  The Highest Heaven is unchanging and unchanged.  Here there is no beginning and no end.

The first sphere below the Highest Heaven is the Sphere of the Fixed Stars.  This Sphere has moved from the Center and is a part of manifestation, but is still very close to the Center.  This sphere is represented in the physical world by the fixed stars that we see in the sky.  These fixed stars are part of “the Earth,” but they are representative of the Sphere of the Fixed Stars.  This Sphere is a Sphere of wonders and is still beyond our comprehension.  This Sphere has moved from the Highest Heaven, as seen in the fact that there are destructive fixed stars such as Algol.  On the other hand, this Sphere has not moved very far.

Below the Sphere of the Fixed Stars is the Sphere of Saturn.  This is the first Sphere of physical manifestation.  This is the Sphere of time and of limitation.  Many words concerning the passage of time derive from Kronos, the Greek name for the ruler of this Sphere.  From the planet Earth, the Sphere of Saturn is represented by the orbit of the planet Saturn.  In the human realm, this Sphere is often experienced as hostile and severe.  In moving down the Heavenly Spheres, the Sphere of Saturn is a harsh fall from the wondrous sphere of the Fixed Stars.  In moving back up the Spheres, the seemingly destructive influence of this sphere is necessary to break down attachment to the material realm to return to the Sphere of the Fixed Stars and eventually return to the One in the Highest Heaven.

Below the Sphere of Saturn is the Sphere of Jupiter.  This is the Sphere of Divine Harmony.  This Sphere gives Order to manifestation.  This is a gentler Sphere than the one of Saturn.  This is where we can find beauty in manifestation.  This is where the Music of the Spheres generates.  It is from this Sphere that “right” and “wrong” come, and this is the sphere from which all societal structure and order stems.  The planet associated with this Sphere is associated with religion, law, music, and culture.

Below the Sphere of Jupiter is the Sphere of Mars.  This is Sphere of Free Will.  This is the first Sphere in which individuality becomes relevant.  The Spheres of Saturn (time) and Jupiter (harmony) are beyond individuality.  The Sphere of Mars is the Sphere of Choice.  For Choice to be meaningful, there must be something to choose between.  The Eternal Battle between Good and Evil, or the Vikhail, is associated with this Sphere.  This is shown in the Judeo-Christian mythology of the Fall, where Adam and Eve, in an act of disobedience (Free Will), eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  After that, the first act of violence becomes possible, and Cain murders his brother, Abel.  Human wars also generate in the Sphere of Mars.

The center Sphere is the Sphere of the Sun, or the Sphere of Self.  There are three planetary Spheres above this Sphere, and three planetary Spheres below this Sphere.  This Sphere is the Sphere of the True Self, the Self that is One with the Divine, and the False Self, or the ego.  This is the Sphere dividing that which is without from that which is within.  The Spheres above the Sun are the Spheres in which the Self interacts with that which is outside of the individual, where the Spheres below the Sun are within the individual.  Contrary to popular belief, the centrality of the Sun was certainly understood in the traditional Model of the Cosmos.  It was just understood in a much less literal way.

Below the Sphere of the Sun is the Sphere of Venus, or Divine Love.  While popular belief is that this Sphere is associated with romantic and physical love, this is the lower manifestation of this Sphere.  This Sphere is also Love in Her Highest Form.  The Way of Love is one of the Paths of the individual to the Divine, or from the Lunar to the Solar.  In the cosmos, this is seen by the Sphere of Venus being between the Sphere of the Moon and the Sun.  Venus is also sacrificial Love, which is seen in the Christian tradition as Jesus being sacrificed on the day of Venus, or Friday, and rising on the day of the Sun, or Sunday.

Next is the Sphere of Mercury, or Divine Intelligence.  Like the Sphere of Venus, the Sphere of Mercury is often trivialized as being related to the cognitive ability of human beings.  The Highest Form is Enlightenment, or the Path of Light.  This leads from the Lunar to the Solar by giving Knowledge of the World Illusion.  In a sense, the “Intelligent Design” of the manifest Universe is shown in this Sphere.  This is also the Sphere from which all knowledge and ideas come.  It is in this Sphere that we are able to contemplate the manifest Universe and what is beyond the manifest Universe.

Closest to “the Earth” is the Lunar Sphere.   This is the Sphere through which we pass from the sublunary sphere, or the physical universe that we experience with our senses and can measure, to the Higher Spheres, which we cannot measure.  The Lunar Sphere is the Sphere of dreams and the imagination.  As the closest Sphere to that of the senses, we do experience this Sphere in our nightly dreams.  Just as we can impact and pollute the sublunary sphere, we also can and do pollute the Lunar Sphere.  One of the ways we pollute the Lunary Sphere is through what we allow ourselves to see and to watch, and by the images we create, through various mediums, including violent and ugly television shows, music, and video games.  Gentle and loving images through those same mediums cleanse the Lunary Sphere.

At one level, we live on the sublunary sphere, but on a metaphysical level, we also live in all of the cosmological spheres at the same time (understanding that time becomes meaningless beyond the Sphere of Saturn).  Our souls descend through the Spheres to enter physicality, and they ascend back through these Spheres to return to the Highest Heaven.  This cannot be understood literally in the manner of most modern Western thinking, but is a Mystery, in the highest sense of the word, or that which must be understood at the Solar level, or within our hearts.