Traditional Science, Quantum Physics, and Simulated Worlds

In my last article, it may have seemed like I was against science or at least against modern science. That is far from the case. I like science a lot. If it were not for science, I would not be at my computer writing this article. The natural world is an extremely fascinating place, and I am glad that there are people researching and teaching us about it.

What I do have difficulty with is the modern philosophy surrounding science. Science, or the study of the natural world, has been around at least as as far back as we have written records, and most likely had been around long before that. I have written articles discussing Traditional Science and how it is different than Modern Science, but in a very real sense, science is just science. If an atheist scientist, a Christian scientist, a Muslim scientist, or a Jewish scientist mix the same chemicals together, they will all get the same results. Eratosthenes of Cyrene was able to calculate the circumference of the Earth as far back as the 3rd Century B.C.E., and his calculation was in error by about 10 to 15%, depending on the value of the stade, the ancient unit of measurement he used. Yet, in 2012, when the modern scientist, Anthony Abreu Mora, used Eratosthenes’ formula with more accurate data, his result was in error by only 0.16%.

Rather than using the terms Traditional Science and Modern Science, it would probably be more accurate to say Traditional Philosophy and Modern Philosophy. It is from philosophy that the rules for how science is practiced and the beliefs about what science can tell us are derived. The philosophy surrounding science has undergone vast changes over the centuries.

Traditional/Platonic Thought

Let us start by looking at Traditional Philosophy as transmitted to us by Plato. While this philosophy is often called Platonian, Plato did not claim to be its originator. Plato said that he was transmitting what he had learned from his teacher, Socrates, who in turn said that he was transmitting wisdom from his own teachers.

Traditional Thought

In Traditional thought, as transmitted by Plato, there is Fundamental Truth. This Truth lies outside of the world. We learn about Truth through revealed knowledge and through our intuition. Revealed knowledge is knowledge that is given to us from outside of the world. An example of revealed knowledge is the astrological axiom, “as above, so below.” This came from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus. The intuition referred to is not the lunar faculty that is often called intuition in the modern world, but the solar faculty that comes from our Heart.

When investigating the natural world, or engaging in scientific inquiry, it is permissible, and indeed, desirable, to use knowledge of Fundamental Truth obtained by revelation or intuition in interpreting the results of such inquiry. On the other hand, it is not permissible to use the results of scientific inquiry as knowledge of Fundamental Truth. If the results of scientific inquiry conflicted with knowledge of Fundamental Truth, that was to be expected. Fundamental Truth belonged to the perfect world of the Divine. Scientific inquiry merely revealed facts about the imperfect world of flux and change.

Aristotelian Thought

While Plato claimed to be merely transmitting knowledge from his teachers, his student, Aristotle departed from his teachings in significant ways.

Aristotelian ThoughtWhile Aristotle still believed in Fundamental Truth, according to his teachings, the natural world was intertwined with that Truth to a significant degree. The enmeshment of the two in this philosophy was so great that one should expect scientific inquiry to reveal the same information that was obtained through revealed knowledge and intuition. Because of this, if the results of research and observation of the material world conflicted with what was thought to be known about Fundamental Truth, this could cast our knowledge of Fundamental Truth into doubt. Knowledge could flow in both directions. Reason was the way in which we could arbitrate differences between our scientific knowledge and our knowledge of Fundamental Truth.

Christian Philosophy

Christian philosophers in the Middle Ages largely adopted Aristotelian philosophy.

Christian Philosophy

The main difference was that in Christian philosophy, conflicts between our knowledge of Fundamental Truth and scientific inquiry were to be arbitrated by Church doctrine and dogma rather than reason. This is why Galileo came into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church. It was not just that the heliocentric model of the solar system challenged Church doctrine, but also that Galileo attempted to give his own interpretation of the Bible based on his findings.

William of Ockham and Nominalism

A few centuries before Galileo, William of Ockham developed the philosophy known as nominalism.

Nominalism

William of Ockham denied the existence of Fundamental Truth, except for the existence of God, and he also denied that science could tell us anything about God. By the same token, the study of God could tell us nothing about the material world. In effect, Ockham’s philosophy placed an impenetrable barrier between the study of the Divine and the study of the natural world.

Modern Scientific Thought

This brings us to the current state of modern scientific thought.

Modern Scientific Thought

In the Modern world, the generally accepted academic model is that scientific inquiry is the beginning of knowledge. There is no recognition of revealed knowledge or tradition. Intuition is considered untrustworthy. The rules by which scientific inquiry can be conducted are quite strict.

It is also widely believed that we can derive truth from scientific inquiry using reason. This truth does not rise to the level of Fundamental Truth, and further inquiry may, and often does, change what we believe to be true.

Quantum Physics

A good example of how scientific inquiry has changed what we believe to be true is in the discipline of quantum physics. For a few centuries after the Enlightenment, there was general consensus as to the mechanics of how things operated in the world. This consensus is now known as Newtonian physics or classical physics, after the famous scientist, Isaac Newton. The problem is that it has now been discovered that Newtonian physics do not work everywhere or all the time. When things get very very small, very very large, or very very fast, the laws of Newtonian physics get thrown out the window.

The most famous experiment in the field of quantum physics concerns the nature of light. This experiment was designed to test whether light was made of particles or if it was a wave, and involved sending light through two slits. If light was a wave, it should go through both slits, and if was made of particles, the individual particles would go through one slit or another.

Light Slit ExperimentThis experiment yielded strange results. If no one measured the light passing through the slits, light would act like a wave and go through both. If someone did measure each of the slits, light would seem to change into particles, each of which going through one hole or another. It seemed as if light would know whether or not it was being measured, and would change its properties accordingly.

This spawned the field of quantum mechanics or quantum physics, and it seems that the more they research in this field, the stranger and stranger things become.

Simulated Worlds

Let us put the confusing world of quantum physics aside for the moment and talk about simulated worlds. Modern technology has reached the level of sophistication that we have created game worlds that mimic the world we live in. In some of these worlds, activity takes place even during times when no human is actively participating in the world. It is conceivable that these games could reach the level of advancement that the characters in these games become conscious.

simulated world

This has led to the hypothesis that the world we live in may actually be a simulated world made by more advanced beings. For reasons that I have to admit that I do not fully understand, if we are able to create a simulated world in which the characters are conscious, we are more likely than not to live in a simulated world ourselves.

In the simulated game worlds that we create, in order to save computer memory, the world takes shape as characters interact with it. For example, light would not have to take on definite properties until it was measured, which is exactly what happens in the experiment discussed above. This would also explain many other things that have been discovered in quantum mechanics.

The World Illusion

This brings us full circle to Traditional/ Platonic Thought. Traditions throughout the world, East and West, teach that the world we live in is an illusion, and that the Real World exists outside of it. Many spiritual traditions teach ways to escape the World Illusion.

The rules of modern science do not allow us to consider these Traditional teachings, but the rules of Traditional Science not only allow us to consider them, they require it. It could be said that this shows that the methods of modern science will indeed lead us to Truth, but I do not know that this is exactly accurate. In Traditional teachings, those who seek after Truth earnestly and diligently will find it. The path to Liberation is open to all. It is not the methodology of seeking that is the key, but the intention and desire.

Interestingly enough, many proponents of modern science seem to ignore what is being discovered using their own rules.

William of Ockham and His Razor, The Religion of the Modern Scientific Establishment

In a series of articles I wrote several years ago, I proposed that the practice of astrology would be best served by grounding it in the framework of a traditional science. In this series of articles, I suggested that the study of astrology be grounded in essentialist metaphysical philosophy and thealogical principles. But doesn’t that involve religion? Yes, it does. I would argue, however, that the current establishments teaching and governing the modern sciences are also operating out of a religion; a very different religion from the ones that the practitioners of traditional sciences were grounded in, but a religion, nonetheless.

What is Religion?

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of religion is:

1. The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

   1.1 A particular system of faith and worship.

   1.2 A pursuit or interest followed with great devotion.

The Miriam-Webster definition of religion is:

1 a : the state of a religious
   b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural
       (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

By these definitions, however, particularly the Oxford one, one could argue that some Eastern traditions, such as Buddhism, do not qualify as religions. It may also be hard to include many Ancient and Classical “pagan” religions, traditions, and philosophies under this definition. Even within modern Christian denominations, there is a heavy debate with respect to whether Christianity should be based upon “faith” or “works.” Those denominations centered on “works” may have trouble with the Oxford definition, while those centered on “faith” may have trouble with the Miriam-Webster one.

While a precise definition that would encompass everything that most of us would consider religion is difficult, I propose that a working definition for the purposes of this article could be: a set of shared fundamental beliefs about what is true that are not derived from empirical evidence or observation.

What is Science?

Unlike the case of religion, the Oxford English dictionary provides a workable definition of science that is usable for this discussion:

The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

This definition is large enough to encompass the Traditional Sciences, such as alchemy and cosmology, and the Modern ones, such as chemistry and physics.

The Relationship Between Science and Religion

EuclidWhile proponents and practitioners of the Modern Sciences tend to claim that their beliefs about what is true are based entirely on observation, experimentation, and rational analysis derived from observation and experimentation, such a claim is impossible.  Even in the very logical and rational discipline of Geometry, one must begin with fundamental beliefs which cannot be tested through observation or experimentation.  For example, we believe that a straight line which extends infinitely long in either direction can exist. There is no way that a human being could ever test this belief, yet without this belief the study of Geometry would be impossible. In around 300 B.C., the foundational textbook for Geometry, Elements, which is attributed to Euclid, identified 10 fundamental beliefs that formed the basis for all of Geometry.

There is no discipline in any modern or traditional science that does not at its source rely upon untestable beliefs.  Even the existence of the world we live in must rest upon a belief. In his famous thought experiment, René Decartes concluded that if a demon had captured him and set about to deceive him and to create and place him in a illusory world, he would have no way to uncover that deception. The popular science fiction series, the Matrix, is based on such a scenario, with conscious and intelligent machines taking the place of demons. The only conclusion he could reach with any certainty was “cognito, ergo sum,” or in English, “I think, therefore I am.” The reason he could feel certain of this was that if he was thinking, there must be something doing the thinking. Thus the only thing he could be certain of was his own existence.

While I believe that there are many flaws in Cartesian philosophy, his thought experiments demonstrated the limits of knowledge that we can obtain with experimentation and observation. On some level, the starting point of any scientific inquiry will be a set of untestable beliefs. That is unavoidable. The difference between Traditional and Modern scientists is in the set of untestable beliefs that they accept and that form the foundation and allowed boundaries for further inquiry.

Types of Reason

In order to guard against the uncertainty of the information obtainable through our senses, Enlightenment philosophers have extolled reason as the way to obtain knowledge of truth. The most basic type of reasoning is deductive reasoning. An example of this type reasoning is as follows:

  1. All cats are animals.
  2. Fluffy is a cat.
  3. Therefore, Fluffy is an animal.

FluffyIf the premises are true, and the logic is correct, we will invariably come to a sound conclusion. The difficulty is that the knowledge we can obtain from deductive reasoning is limited in scope.

Another form of reasoning is inductive reasoning, which is the derivation of general principles from specific observations. Most empirical sciences regularly employ inductive reasoning. For example, we have observed many cats that give birth to live kittens, and we have not observed any that lay eggs; therefore, we are allowed to conclude that mother cats give birth to live kittens and do not lay eggs. It is possible that someday, someone will observe a cat that lays eggs, but we can consider that possibility highly unlikely. Inductive reasoning is less certain than deductive reasoning, but it is still allowable.

Deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning are staples of both modern and traditional sciences, and neither of these types of reasoning require the need to turn to beliefs that are not self-evident or fundamental in scope, such as the theoretical possibility of a straight line or the existence of the natural world.

The difference between the rules of practice for the modern and traditional sciences is in how to handle matters that are not amenable to either deductive or inductive reasoning, and how to decide between competing hypotheses with respect to explanations as to the nature of things or how the world works. When there are competing hypotheses in these matters, it is human nature to come up with “ad hoc excuses” to save a theory, many of which can not be tested, and so there must be criteria by which to judge and decide between them.

In these cases, practitioners of traditional sciences turned to traditionally accepted metaphysical principles and to revealed knowledge to sort between competing theories. Now, a reader could argue that it was traditionally accepted that the Earth was the center of the Solar System, and that this was proven to be wrong. The problem with this argument is that when the geocentric model of the Solar System was prevalent, traditional knowledge had already been broken. Aristotelian principles represented a major break from tradition, as did Christian philosophy. Admittedly, having a broken tradition severely limits our ability to revive traditional science, but I believe we can still proceed cautiously, so long as we act with humility, honestly admitting to the level of certainty that is possible to us.

Inference to the Best Explanation and Occam’s Razor

Whereas practitioners of traditional sciences would turn to traditional doctrine and metaphysics to examine matters not amenable to deductive or inductive reasoning, most modern scientific disciplines handle such matters by employing what is known as abductive reasoning, or “inference to the best explanation.” This practice does not attempt to achieve certainty, it purportedly only seeks to determine the most likely explanation for a given natural phenomenon.

According to accepted practice as taught by the current scientific establishment, the best explanation is one that is testable, has the widest scope, is the simplest, and is conservative in that it adheres to already established theories. The first difficulty with this form of reasoning is that by definition, it will only consider theories that are testable. Now, of course, for a theory to be examined by science, traditional or modern, it must be testable, and it is perfectly logical and acceptable to confine one’s research to that which can be tested; however, there is no basis other than belief to consider a testable theory better than an untestable one.   Of course, it makes sense to guard against “ad hoc” excuses for theories, especially if these excuses turn the theory from a testable one to an untestable one; however, there are traditional teachings, such as the proto-element of Aethyr, that make no claims as to be testable by material means.

Even more problematic is the requirement of simplicity. At first glance, this would seem to be a good criterion, and it is known as “Occam’s razor,” after William of Ockham, an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher who lived between about 1287 and 1347. It is commonly thought that this doctrine teaches that all things being equal, the simplest explanation is most likely correct. I am not sure how such a doctrine could be verified, but it seems reasonable on the surface. Of course, this also begs the question as to what is meant by simplest.

William of OckhamThis is where the problem lies. It could be said that the simplest explanation is the one that involves the fewest assumptions. That seems logical as well. There is more, however. The most famous version of the doctrine of Occam’s Razor comes not from William of Ockham himself, but from a later philosopher, John Punch in 1639, which states, “Non sunt multiplicanda entia sine necessitate,” or in English, “Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity.” This doctrine has been expanded to exclude anything but observable natural phenomena from consideration as possible explanations.

It is said that with respect to the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the fact that the scientific establishment teaches this practice at all speaks to a system of belief. This belief system rules out any explanation that can not be tested empirically out of hand, and it heavily favors explanations that are purely material.

The Problem

Ordinarily, I would not concern myself with the belief system of anyone else, but in the modern West, many practitioners of science claim to be the sole arbiters of truth, and the words “according to science” are treated with the same reverence as “from the mouth of God.” While there are some who will admit to the limitations of their field, there are others who will make proclamations about matters that are outside the purvue of any science, traditional or modern, such as the existence of God, the soul, or Free Will.

Furthermore, when information obtained through scientific investigation is transmitted to laity, there is no distinction between information obtained through direct observation, deduction, induction, or “inference to the best explanation.” All of these are treated as if they have the same reliability.

The situation becomes more complicated with respect to  those who do not accept the doctrines of the modern scientific establishment. Sensing, correctly, that their beliefs will not be given fair consideration, they often abandon reason altogether. Lay people who do believe in the doctrines of modern scientific establishment will respond by attacking those who do not, without real understanding of what science can tell us and what it can not. These debates within the laity are argued with the fervor of debates surrounding theology.

A current example of such a debate can be found surrounding what is commonly referred to as “the Mandela Effect.” The Mandela Effect got its name from the fact that there are many people who claim to have clear memories that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the late ’80’s or early ’90’s, even though he later became President of South Africa and lived until 2013.  In addition to this rather major discrepancy, there are many minor ones, such as movie quotes and names of children’s books. There are people who believe that these discrepancies have been caused by a change in the timeline or a shift to an alternate universe. There are others that believe that these discrepancies are simply tricks of the mind or false memories.

If one researches this online, it is impossible to get any objective view on the subject. Those who believe it is a change in the timeline claim to have “proof” based on the possibility of alternate timelines as proposed by quantum mechanics, and they point to research in quantum mechanics currently being performed by CERN as a possible cause of the shift in timelines. Those who do not believe that there has been a change in the timeline claim that the theory has been “debunked” because of known and predictable vagaries in our memories.

The reality is that the Mandela Effect has neither been “proved” nor “debunked.” I do not even know how it could be tested. It may be caused by a change in the timeline; it may be false memories. The truth of the matter is that despite the confidence by which people make their claims, no one really knows.

Summary

In this article, I have discussed how, despite claims to the contrary, the teachers and proponents of modern science base their teachings in a system of beliefs. Some of these beliefs are unavoidable and fundamental, like the belief in the existence of our reality, while others go beyond the scope of science’s domain.  I have examined three types of reasoning, deductive, inductive, and abductive, and discussed how the allowance of abductive reasoning reveals a belief system, and how these forms of reasoning tend to be treated as if they were equal when findings based on them are conveyed to the laity . I have also discussed how this practice creates a culture of discord among laity as shown in the controversy surrounding the “Mandela Effect.”

As Different as Night and Day

The most fundamental division in cosmology is the division between Day and Night. The division between Day and Night is so important that it tends to be one of the first, if not the first, division in Creation Mythos.

Judeo-Christian written tradition begins as follows:

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Genesis 1:1-5, New Revised Standard Version

Deanic/Filianic tradition tells the story of the Snake who “had not been shaped by [the Mother], and that was not Her daughter, nor a creature of Spirit.” The Snake “hated all the things that had become.”  The Snake tempted the first Daughters of Creation saying:

First of the daughters of creation, you have lived for a time that cannot be counted, and have run for all that time in the footsteps of the Mother, and have never taken rest among the things that are.  Only embrace me and you shall have that rest.

The tradition tells how the Daughters of Creation were enticed by the Snake and asked the Mother to darken the world so that they might rest.  While the Daughters of Creation were resting, the Snake attempted to destroy creation in a Great Flood.  The Mistress of All Things rescued Creation; however, manifestation was permanently changed as a result.

…the light came again, and a rainbow appeared in the sky, shedding its light upon all things.  And whereas all things had been golden, now they took on every hue and colour, and the world was beautiful; but it was not as beautiful as it had formerly been.

And She set Her seven Powers in the firmament, giving one to rule each color of the earth.

And She said to Her daughter: what you have done may not be undone, for you have acted with My Spirit, and henceforth shall time be divided into day and night that you may rest.  But I shall keep watch in the heavens by night, and there shall be silver light that there may never be complete darkness.  By this shall I govern the movements of the waters, that the earth may never again be flooded.  The golden light of day will bring all goodness, but it will be too bright for your eyes.  The silver light of night, that you may look upon.

The Mythos of God the Mother, The Gospel of Our Mother God.

vlcsnap-2016-05-06-00h32m41s851The division between Day and Night is the most fundamental division in manifestation, and in Classical Astrology, there are many calculations that are different during the day and during the night. The division between Day and Night is hierarchical, with Day being superior to Night. In the Deanic/Filianic tradition the golden light that is “too bright for [our] eyes” governs the Day, and the silver light that we “may look upon” governs the Night. According to the Judeo-Christian written tradition, “God made two great lights – the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night, to separate the light from the darkness.”

In Classical Astrology, in addition to the Sun belonging to the Day and the Moon belonging to the Night, Jupiter and Saturn, the Greater Benefic and the Greater Malefic, belong to the Day, and Venus and Mars, the Lesser Benefic and the Lesser Malefic, belong to the Night.

Day

The Day is bright and lively and golden. The Sun is the Ruler and Luminary of the Day.  The Day is the Realm of the Spirit.   Fundamental to the concept of Sect (Day/Night) is the temperamental quality of heat.  The Day is Hot, which means that activity is sped up during the Day.  The day is when most of us engage in the primary activity of our life. This is when we go to work, go to school, or take part in what we see as our role or our life purpose. The day is when the Queen is on parade. It is busy, exciting, wonderful and important; on the other hand, most other activities are suspended during this time. For people who were born during the day, the primary focus of their life is their “day job,” and their dominant Luminary is the Sun.

vlcsnap-2016-01-17-00h49m26s454Night

The Night is soft and quiet and gentle. The Moon is the Ruler and Luminary of the Night.  The Night is the Realm of the Soul.  While the Day is Hot, the Night is Cold.  Activity slows during the Night. During the night, the primary activities of the day slow down so that we can engage in the other aspects of our lives, such as eating, sleeping, spending time with those we love, and engaging in leisure activities.  For people born during the Night, the primary focus of their lives is not on their “day job,” but upon the other aspects of life, and their dominant Luminary is the Moon.

Gender and the Division Between Day and Night

For quite a long time, astrology has taught that Day is masculine and Night is feminine. This is belief is so deeply ingrained that most people would likely accept this as a truism, whether or not they “believe in astrology.” For reasons I discuss in this article, despite the longevity and stability of this association, I believe it to be dubious.

In the Modern West, discussion concerning gender is tricky and debates about gender are often heated and painful. There are those that believe that gender is strictly biological and qualities of masculinity and femininity are merely “social constructs.” I believe this line of thought to be dubious as well.

My view is in the middle of these extremes. I do believe that masculinity and femininity are real metaphysical principles, and that the differences between masculinity and femininity rise beyond the merely physical or societal. On the other hand, I do not believe that this division rises to the level of the fundamental division between Day and Night. I believe that it is a real, but lower level, metaphysical division.

Masculine Earth and a Feminine Sky: Challenging Assumptions about Gender and the Elements

Starting with the most basic Sun Sign books for non-astrologers, we learn that some signs are considered “masculine” and some signs are considered “feminine.” If we later decide to study astrology, the most basic astrology textbooks teach that signs of the elements Air and Fire are “masculine” and signs of the elements Earth and Water are “feminine.” This idea is so pervasive that even people who know nothing about astrology and would swear that they thought astrology was a silly superstition would likely assume that Earth was feminine.

Through many changes and disagreements in astrology, this basic concept has remained remarkably stable for over 2,000 years. So stable that few people would think to challenge it, even those who would otherwise consider themselves ardent feminists. Those who do challenge it generally suggest doing away with the entire system of gender with respect to the zodiac.

Ma'atI believe in Tradition, and in most cases, I would say that such stability in a concept over time is strong evidence for its validity. In this case, however, I believe that this concept must be challenged, because it is one of the bases for the belief that the masculine is superior to the feminine. In the current system, the active day signs are assigned to the masucline, and the passive night signs are assigned to the feminine. Furthermore, Air is the Element of the intellectual and priestly caste, and so this concept can and has been used to exclude women from this caste.

While I understand the temptation to remove gender from the entire system of classification of the zodiac, I think that in one sense this goes too far, and in another, it does not go far enough.

Most of Western Astrology has been transmitted to us through the Greeks. Western Astrology is believed to have originated in Egypt and Chaldea, which is likely the case; however, the system we use was originally recorded and systematized by Greek cosmologists. The Hellenistic influence is so strong that it has even found its way into Vedic astrology.

Greek culture was severely patriarchal, even for its time.  In Athens, women were excluded from all intellectual discourse and were restricted to the home unless they were accompanied by their husband or other male relative. It stands to reason that their cosmology would also be severely patriarchal.

I am about to enter into a rather technical discussion; however, I believe that this matter is important to everyone, not just astrologers. On my astrology blog, there is an article explaining the humors, temperament, and their relationship to the elements, which may be helpful to read before continuing if you are not an astrologer. For the purposes of this discussion, however, the most important thing to know is that the signs are classified along two axes: hot and cold, and wet and dry. I explained in the above article that:

The hot/cold axis relates to both literal heat and to activity level. Hot is fast, busy, and active; cold is slow-moving and calm. The wet/dry axis is a little more abstract. This axis relates to boundaries and distinctions. Moisture blends and softens boundaries and distinctions; dryness hardens them. Without wet there would be no growth; without dry there would be no form.

The elements are also divided into four elements, Air, Fire, Earth, and Water. Air is Hot and Wet, Fire is Hot and Dry, Earth is Cold and Dry, and Water is Cold and Wet. The Hot elements of Air and Fire are day signs, and the Cold elements of Earth and Water are the night signs. The signs alternate between hot and cold around the zodiac, as per this diagram.

Elements and Gender Chart

The Tetrabiblios, by Claudius Ptolemy, is arguably the most important Ancient textbook on Western Astrology. In the Tetrabiblios, the classification of signs and gender is explained as follows:

…they assigned six of the signs to the masculine and diurnal and an equal number to the feminine and nocturnal. An alternating order was assigned to them because day is always yoked to night and close to it, and female to male. Now as Aries is taken as the starting point…and as the male likewise rules and holds first place, since also the active is always superior to the passive in power, the signs of Aries and Libra were thought to be masculine and diurnal,…

After this, Ptolemy continues to describe at least three other systems for dividing masculine and feminine signs, but all of them assume that masculine and diurnal are equivalent and that feminine and nocturnal are equivalent.

Now why does Ptolemy make that assumption?

In the section concerning diurnal and nocturnal planets, he writes:

…the two most obvious intervals of those which make up time, the day is the more masculine because of its heat and active force, and night more feminine because of its moisture and gift of rest…

This passage does not seem to make much sense. The opposite of heat is not moisture, it is cold. Heat and moisture are on separate axes. Also, the night is not moist, the night is cold. The only part of night that is moist is the period between midnight and sunrise, the part of night between sunset and midnight is dry.

To further add to the confusion, in another section, Ptolemy says:

…because two of the four humours are fertile and active, the hot and the moist (for all things are brought together and increased by them), and two are destructive and passive, the dry and the cold, through which all things, again are separated and destroyed,….

What a minute? Here moist is “fertile and active,” yet in the first passage moisture is associated with the “gift of rest.”

I believe that these inconsistencies may be explained by an earlier alteration in the tradition, and the reason for this alteration can be inferred from second passage. The hot and the moist correspond to the element of Air, and the dry and the cold correspond to the element of Earth.  I believe that the original division between masculine and feminine was along the dry and moist axis, not the hot and cold one.

In the section concerning masculine and feminine planets, Ptolemy states,

…there are two primary kinds of natures, male and females, and the forces already mentioned that of the moist is especially feminine….

This would mean that the feminine elements would be the moist ones, Air and Water, and of course, the dry one, Fire and Earth, would be masculine. Yet, Air was considered the highest element, and the element associated with the intellectual classes, from which women were forceably excluded.

Further evidence for the assocation of moisture for feminine and dryness for masculine can be seen in the Egyptian pantheon in which there were several male and female god pairs with the male god associated with dryness and the female god associated with moisture.

Technical Considerations

This is all well and good on a theoretical level; however, astrology is a craft. How would this impact the craft of astrology? Would this change the entire system?

Actually, I think it would improve the craft and make it more useful and harmonious.

To begin with, it would reflect what are arguably the real differences between the feminine and and the masculine, at least with respect to human beings. The association of masculine with active and feminine with passive is dubious at best. Women have always worked as hard, if not harder, than men. Even to this day, when women are in the workforce, they often still have responsibility for the maintenance of the home and are still often the primary caretakers for children. Also, if women were truly passive, there would not have been the need for all of the social and legal restrictions to keep them subservient. Even with all of the restrictions, throughout history, women have found ways to gain power and triumph over patriarchy, even if they have been quiet ways.

On the other hand, when one looks at the actual differences between women and men, they do seem to be along the wet/dry division. Women’s bodies tend to be softer and plumper than those of men. Babies grow in the body of women, and moisture is necessary for growth. All other things being equal, men tend to be more analytical and women tend to be better at making connections. While men tend to be physically stronger, women tend to be more flexible. All of these differences are consistent with a wet/dry division.

What about the neat symmetry of alternating masculine and feminine that Ptolemy described above, and that is shown in the diagram below?

Elements and Gender Chart - Hot and Cold

This may not be of much concern to Modern Astrologers, but it is a very important concern to Traditional/Classical Astrologers. A symmetrical system is consistent with an orderly and harmonious cosmos, and this is essential to why astrology “works” from a Traditional or Classical perspective.

I believe that this system is actually more symmetrical than the current one, not less. Here is a diagram of a gender classification along the wet/dry axis:

Elements and Gender Chart - Wet and Dry

In the first diagram, the gender classification is redundant with the classification between day and night. It does not add anything to the system. Indeed, the hot/cold axis is given two distinct groupings, and the wet/dry axis has none.

Furthermore, in the first diagram, even though signs next to each other have different genders, the signs opposite and across from each other have the same gender. The adage that “opposites attract” holds true in astrology, and signs opposite each other in the zodiac form equal and opposite pairs. Signs next to each other do not and are said to be unable to “see” each other. It is much more harmonious to the overall system for opposite pairs to be of opposite gender that it is for them to be the same gender.

With respect to individual signs:

Libra

This change would make Libra feminine rather than masculine. Libra as a masculine sign always felt counter-intuitive to me. Libra is the sign of the hostess and the diplomat. Libra is motivated by beauty and balance. The most common fault of Libra is indecisiveness. All of these seem to be stereotypical traits of the feminine.

Aquarius

Aquarius, the Water Bearer, would also be feminine. It is true that Aquarius is generally depicted as a young man pouring water, and there are Greek and Egyptian myths that support the masculine association with the constellation. That being said, there is nothing inherently masculine about symbol of a water bearer. On the contrary, one could argue that this symbol is inherently feminine.

Actually, in one Greek myth, the constellation of Aquarius is occupied by one of Zeus’ favorites, Ganymede. Ganymede incurred the wrath of Zeus’ wife, Hera. Hera was jealous of Ganymede in part because of Zeus’ attention and affections for him, but also in part because he usurped the place of her daughter, Hebe, the goddess of youth. To me, this myth seems strangely fitting to the topic of this article.

Taurus and Virgo

This change would make Virgo the Virgin masculine rather than feminine. Admitted, this is counter-intuitive. On the other hand, Taurus the Bull would become masculine rather than feminine.

Summary

In this article, I have proposed an alteration to the present system of gender classification with respect to the signs. I have argued that the current classification along the hot/cold axis is likely a patriarchal alteration to justify subjugation of the feminine and to bar women from the priestly and intellectual classes. I have also argued that it is likely the original classification was along the wet/dry axis, and that this classification would be consistent with real differences between the feminine and the masculine in human beings. Furthermore, this system of classification would be more symmetrical and harmonious than the current one.

The Illusion of “Thinking for Yourself”

In the 1960’s, the world changed drastically, at least in the West.  For the most part, I believe that this change has been downhill.  In the The Feminine Universe, Miss Alice Lucy Trent calls this change “the Eclipse.”  I can imagine that at least some readers will protest and talk about all the horrors of cruelty, unkindness, violence, and oppression from the past.  I am not denying that this was so.  The past of this world has been violent and cruel for at least as long as we have recorded history.  This is one of the more compelling arguments for the changes in society since the Eclipse. Despite this, I think that much more has been lost than has been gained.

One of the things that has been lost is any sense that authority can be trusted, or really that anyone can be trusted.  We are taught to “think for ourselves” and engage in “critical thinking” of everything.  Instead of being a contributing part of a community, or seeking a higher purpose, people see it as their (and everyone else’s) duty to keep “informed,” which really means to keep track of all of the bad things that everyone is doing or may do.

The reality is that none of us truly “think for ourselves.”  We all rely on other people.  For example, when choosing a service or a product, we look up “reviews,” which are the thoughts of other people.  When deciding our opinions on “issues,” we rely on others to tell us what these “issues” are and how we should think about them.  We are shaped by others in almost everything we do, and often when we think we are “thinking for ourselves,” we are really just choosing between ideas that have we been told.

The same is true of “critical thinking.”  I think that there is a place for that; however, it is often the case that the “critical” part is overemphasized.  People criticize everything, all of the time.  It is almost impossible to discuss any public figure without hearing about something the terrible the person has done. Yes, I understand that there are times when truly terrible things ought to be exposed, but most of the time, the matters are rather superficial and petty.

The reality is that it is hard to truly engage in “critical thinking” in this day and age, because we have lost the idea of an objective right or wrong.  One of the big differences between pre-Eclipse and post-Eclipse movies is the idea that there are things that are right and things that are wrong.  Yes, there is plenty of immorality shown in pre-Eclipse media, but it is not justified like it is in post-Eclipse media.  Good was good and bad was bad.  Shows might depict people being bad, but they, and everyone else, knew they were being bad.  These days, good and bad are so muddled and twisted that no one really knows what they are anymore.

One may ask, well what about circumstances?  An example of which would be the case of a person who steals or engages in criminal business ventures because she can not afford the basic necessities of life for herself and her family.  My answer to that is that none of us are perfect, and there are times people make compromises out of necessity in a difficult, and often rather harsh, world.  That does not change the fact that what they may be doing is wrong.

It is a funny society where one is supposed to “think for yourself” and “think critically,” but one is also supposed to be non-judgmental.  So, upon what does one base one’s critical thinking?  Well, in practice, I think that people tend to become part of a group and accept that group’s judgments, often without question.  In the United States, there is a liberal “team” and a conservative “team” that is fueled by a 24-hour news cycle.  People will support ideas and positions proposed by their “team” no matter how absurd and outrageous they may be, and they will oppose ideas and positions proposed by the other “team” no matter how reasonable and sensible they are.

The Metamorph 2So, what can one do?  I am a long time Star Trek fan, and I think that for the most part Star Trek is rather wholesome, at least to the extent of the Original Series and the Next Generation.  One of my favorite episodes in Star Trek: the Next Generation is the episode, “the Perfect Mate.”  In this episode, there is a woman who is a metamorph, which means she naturally becomes the person that perfectly suits her mate.  In this show, she makes the choice to bond with Captain Picard, even though she is promised to marry someone else in an arranged political marriage.  She does this because she likes who she is when she is with Captain Picard.  In molding to Captain Picard, she understands the importance of duty, and she goes through with the arranged marriage to fulfill her duty.

I think this is a rather good metaphor for us.  All of us are influenced and molded by our social groups, the media we watch, and to what we expose ourselves.  None of us really thinks for ourselves.  What we can do is to decide who we are going to listen to and who we are going to trust.  We can decide who is it who will mold and shape our opinions.  We can also make that choice consciously, bearing in mind that this will largely determine the type of person that we will become.

Fate, Free Will, the Cross, and Wa

During and after the “Enlightenment,” predictive astrology lost favor as a respected craft.  One of the reasons for this is that predictive astrology contradicted Enlightenment notions of Free Will.  How can one predict anything, particularly in a Nativity chart, when we all have Free Will to be whatever we want to be?  This is likely a particularly popular argument in the United States, where children are taught things like, “America is the land of opportunity,” and “every kid can grow up to be the President.”

The CrossThe problem is that in the West, the traditional concept of Free Will has been misunderstood for some time.  The crux of the difficulty is mistaking freedom of choice for freedom of action.  We may not always have freedom of action, but we always have freedom of choice.

In order to explain the traditional concept of Free Will, it becomes helpful to look at the symbol of the Cross.  While Christianity has adopted the Cross as its symbol, the symbol of the Cross long predates Christianity, and is a primordial symbol.  On one level, the Cross is the symbol of the material world.  It is one of the three symbols that are used in the glyphs for the planets.  The other two are the Circle and the Crescent.  Actually, the symbol of the Cross makes sense for Christianity, in the belief that the Divine became incarnate in a living human being.

If one looks deeper into the symbolism of the Cross, one will see that it is made up of a horizontal line with a vertical line intersecting.  The horizontal line represents our life on the material plane.  This is our day to day physical existence.  The vertical intercepting line represents an upward or downward path.  Humans are Axial Beings.  This means that we are at the center or the axis of the cross.  As Axial Beings, we have the choice to live at the level of physical existence.  Animals live at this level of existence.  This is not our only choice though.  We can choose to live at a higher level of existence.  This level has nothing to do with physical wealth or success.  This level is choosing a higher spiritual life, or listening to our “higher angels.”  We can also choose to live at a lower level of existence.  We can succumb to our “demons,” as it were (humans are capable of evil that animals – literally – cannot dream of).  In popular culture, there is the image of a little angel and a little devil sitting on our shoulders, both whispering in our ears.

This is the essence of the traditional notion of Free Will, the day to day choice between the purely material, our “higher angels,” and our “demons.”  The traditional notion of Free Will was not freedom to do what one wants on the material plane.  The notion of individual freedom of action, in this sense, is quite out of place.  There is no real word in English to really explain this concept, so I will borrow a word from Japanese.  The word is wa.  The rough translation of wa is harmony, but a harmony beyond music.  This is the harmony of the heavens that is transmitted to Earth and governs everything from day to day routines to social relationships to spiritual rituals.  Wa governs everything.  The opposite of wa is fuwa, which is disruption of the celestial harmony.

The concept of wa is quite similar to the doctrine of the Music of the Spheres in astrology.  In a sense, astrology is being able to read and listen to this celestial music.  We are born with a particular part to play in the Music of the Spheres.  In a traditional society, we would generally know our part and be raised to sing or play that part.  Few of us reading this will have ever lived in a traditional society, so we can use all of the help we can get to learn to play or sing our part.  A good guide (who could be an astrologer) could help one find her natural wa, can point the way to the path of learning to excel at her part in the Celestial Music, and can warn her of temptations that may lead her to the lower path, or to fuwa.  So, in a large sense, such guidance not only does not negate Free Will, but it helps one to exercise her Free Will.

A good astrologer should be able to predict with reasonable accuracy events on the material plane.  Most people, most of the time, will operate on the horizontal plane of existence.  In other words, we tend to do what comes naturally to us.  With a Nativity Chart, one can also predict with reasonable accuracy the areas of one’s life where she is most open to the guidance of the angels, and where she is more likely to be tempted by her “demons.”  What can not be predicted, though, is whether a person will actually listen to the angel or the devil on her shoulder.  That choice can sometimes be a day by day choice.  This is really what is meant by Free Will.

Here is a concrete example.  One can predict that a person is likely to be quite irritable on a given day.  One can even predict that it would be likely she would have a fight with her spouse.  If she is aware of the celestial influence, she might be wise enough to go to bed early or go out to the gym to work off her excess martial energy.  If she is unaware, or does not manage to avoid the conflict, and a conflict ensues, there are still choices.  She could choose to apologize quickly and reconcile with her spouse, she could keep the fight going for days, or she could let the fight escalate to the point of a divorce with her spouse.  One can predict the potential for conflict, but one can not predict the actual choice she (or her spouse) will make in response to it.

Interestingly enough, as I mentioned above, the modern scientific world view in many ways negates this Free Will.  One example of this is the scientific notion that we are merely animals, or that we are on the same level of existence as animals, that our actions and behaviors are governed by chemicals and biology. This would mean that, like animals, we are not able to rise above or fall below than our horizontal, physical existence.*  Another example of a modern theory that seems to deny Free Will is the concept of “infinite universes.”  In this theory, every time anyone makes a choice, a new universe is created.  In the above example of the potential fight with the spouse, each of those choices has been made, with each of these choices creating a different universe.  If you think about this, this would mean that we really do not have choice.  For every choice that we make, an alternate of us has made every other choice possible.  This does not seem consistent with the doctrine of Free Will or with our place as Axial Beings.

If one thinks about it, the traditional doctrine of Free Will does allow for far more freedom than the materialistic notion of being able to “do whatever we want.”  Most of us are limited in many ways, by financial status, by health, by class, by education, by natural ability, by age, or by many other factors, in our means to do “what we want.”  Yet, no matter our circumstances, we can always choose the purely material, our higher angels, or our demons at any time and at any point in our lives.  No matter how limited our freedom of action is, we always have freedom of choice.

See also:

Nativity Charts and Free Will

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*Actually animals *can* rise above or fall below their horizontal physical existence as well, but it is rare. An example that has been passed down to this author from a respected teacher is that of a dog. A dog can rise above her horizontal physical existence by performing an act such as saving the life of her owner, or can fall below by going rogue. Still most of the time, a dog is going to just be a dog and will do what comes naturally to her.

Original Forms/Archetypes

One of the fundamental concepts in the practice of astrology as a traditional sacred science is that of Original Form. The Japanese word for this concept is 元型, genkei, which is literally “original form/type.” This is the true and first meaning of the term, “archetype.”

The reason that I started with the phrase Original Form and the Japanese word is that when one says the word “archetype,” it is often immediately placed in the context of Jungian psychology. The concept of the Archetype is far deeper and older. Plato wrote about this concept, but he was explaining Traditional Wisdom that was already starting to become lost in his time. It has been said that astronomical “discoveries” such as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun have been a challenge for astrology; however, it is the Darwinian Pseudomythos of Evolution which has been far more devastating.

egyptian-catIt is not the Theory of Evolution itself that is devastating for astrology, but the Pseudomythos that has been built up around it, particularly in popular culture. There is nothing metaphysically untenable about more complicated forms coming from simpler forms.* An entire tree grows out of an acorn. What is metaphysically untenable, and unprovable, is that this came about by random “mutations” of which some survived and some did not. Even more untenable and unprovable is the extension of this Pseudomythos of random chaotic chance to the workings of the entire physical Universe.

Archetypes in the original and truest sense of the word are the Original Forms in the mind of the Creator. The Archetypes themselves are not manifest in the physical world, but everything in the physical world is a reflection of an Archetype. Cats are cats because they are reflections of the Cat Archetype, which originated in the mind of the Creator. While there are some Archetypes, such as the Princess or the Wheel, which can come about through Axial Beings (“humans”), they originated with the Creator, who is far above physical manifestation.

Jungian psychological “archetypes” are said to come about through the “collective unconscious” of the human psyche, which does exist in Traditional metaphysical thought, but at a level below physical manifestation, not above. Jungian “archetypes” are limited to that which can be found in the human psyche and are derived from the Darwinian Pseudomythos. The Archetype of the Cat can not exist in the Jungian or Darwinian world.

This distinction is quite important. Everything depends upon it. Our astrological forebears can not be truly understood without a Traditional understanding of Archetypes, or 元型 “Genkei” Original Forms.

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*The “evidence” for this is not so iron-clad as the Modern “scientific world view” would have us believe; however, the debate is so heated in our current culture that I really wish to avoid the mare’s nest that a discussion of the “evidence” would bring, particularly surrounding “transitional forms,” as it is unnecessary for the premise of this article.