24 August 98
The stars above us, govern our conditions.
-- Shakespeare, King Lear (IV, iii)
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
Planet Mercury has resumed direct motion and, laughing, delivered its parting shots. Last night I discovered that the VCR will play, but it won't show a picture. Today, I turned on the computer to find that the monitor had quit. (Advice: No matter how many times they tell you to chuck the old equipment, always hang on to that spare.) So, this time, its electronic visuals that are affected. Interesting...
After having studied Astrology for over a quarter of a century, I can tell you with certainty that 99 percent of Astrology is pure poop. But that remaining 1 percent is-- it's absolutely fascinating. And let me make this very clear: I don't "believe in" Astrology and more than I "believe in" mathematics. Mathematical principles, Western or Vedic, can be demonstrated, and work consistently regardless of who is applying them; and the same is true of that one percent of Astrological principles. Far fetched as it may seem, some are consistently demonstrable. Unfortunately for Astrology, there are a lot of fatheads out there who'd rather "believe in" Astrology than settle down to mounting a definitive scientific study. And then there are the "scientists" who-- well, can you truthfully call yourself a scientist if you have completely closed your mind because you're offended by the credulousness of the general population? Me, I'm offended by a lack of scientific method demonstrated by both the Believers and the Scientists.
There are a many different kinds of Astrology. Natal, the astrology dealing with a person's exact time of birth, is the most familiar. Natal astrology is supposed to provide a definition of the individual as to character and personality. Transiting astrology deals with the effects of the daily motions of the planets-- sunrise, sunset, high tide, low tide, the phases of the moon, eclipses, retrograde motion, all are pedictable by mathematical calculations of daily planetary motions. Transiting astrology is most often combined with Natal in an attempt to predict what will happen to any given person on any given day.
For the past few weeks, since the 31st of July, the planet Mercury has appeared to be moving backwards (retrograding) across the heavens. Mercury "goes retrograde" three times a year, for a period of approximately three weeks each time-- you can check with any astronomer, astrologer, or shepherd. The Astronomers and Astrologers will give you the exact same astronomical coordinates for the position of the planet-- longitude, latitude, what have you-- my Astrology software will deliver up the same information you can get from Greenwich Observatory-- but the Astrologers will tell you Mercury, the planet ruling Intellect & Communicaton, is moving backwards through the sign of Leo, a dramatic, romantic, proud, arrogant, and overbearing sign, natural ruler of the Fifth House which represents, among other things, publication, politics, and social & love affairs. And, the Astrologers will tell you, the retrograde will raise havoc in these areas, especially for persons whose natal planetary positions form aspects (geometric angles of 0, 45, 90, & 180 degrees) to the position of transiting retrograde Mercury. Like Bill Clinton, for instance. His natal Sun is around 16 degrees of Leo, a position Mercury transited last Thursday. That zero degree aspect is known as a conjunction, and such a transit should have a powerful effect on him.
I've been listening to the news. If you were Bill Clinton-- or Mike Barnicle, right about now you might be willing to concede that the Atrologers seem to be on to something. Both of these men-- one a politician in deep trouble over a love affair, the other a writer in trouble over publication issues-- have encountered serious problems in communicating. Their judgement in responding to circumstances seems to have been impaired, and because of that there will be consequences resulting from statements and decisions they made, and the actions they took during this Mercury retrograde period. There's certainly havoc being wrought. Could the stars be to blame?
For these men, their present situations and their personal reactions to them, are the result of years of small decisions made and acted upon, not of any singular event, astrological or otherwise. I can't remember who said it, but I believe it's true that we each carry within us the seeds of our own destruction. When push comes to shove, we make a choice; and that choice, if it is the wrong one, can potentially destroy us. Most often, however, one wrong choice or even two, followed by good choices, is merely mistake, and has little lasting effect. But years of bad choices, compounded, will wreak havoc, if not immediately, then next week, or next year.
Does that mean that Astrology works? Did we make the decisions we did make because we couldn't do otherwise because the stars were in certain positions? Was it because when we were born, it was foreordained? Does this mean that our natal horoscopes, read by an expert Astrologer, will reveal our destinies? Will the transits of planets give us the timetable of events? Some unscrupulous people would have us believe so-- most of them have 900 numbers and charge $3.99 a minute.
I know for certain that the stars don't rule us. We rule ourselves, and some days we do a better job than on others, and on still other days we do worse, much worse. Why should that be? That's the question. Character plays a part, certainly. However intelligent and educated a person may or may not be, in the end, it is character that will dicatate behavior. And the behavior will be colored by personality. Two people may make identicle decisions as to what behavior is called for in a given circumstance, but each will express the behavior according to his individual personality. Where does character come from? Where personality? And of these traits, how much is inborn, and how much is learned?
We know, most of us, that our judgement can be impaired by illness, lack of sleep, stress, drugs, alcohol, hormones, or a dozen other things-- even the weather. And it is an awareness of the possible effects of these outside influences that we take into consideration when making important decisions. "I'll sleep on it," we say to ourselves. "Things will look better in the morning."
The kind of question a good research astrologer asks is, "After I've slept on it, and even though I'm feeling good because it's a beautiful day, before I make my decision, should I take into consideration the fact that Mercury is retrograde in Leo?"
Today, my hair is an amazing shade of pale orangey yellow. Why? Because, two days ago, I decided that I need to radically change the color of my hair. Why would I decide such a thing? The gray was bugging me. Last week I tried a color rinse that was supposed to cover the gray. It did, but I didn't like the way the colored gray was still lighter than the rest of my hair. Saturday I was in the drug store buying shampoo, and I got to looking at the hair coloring products again. At first, I was sensible. I looked at the dark brown colors. I have nothing against dark brown hair-- mine is a very nice color, even with the gray. And there are lots of attractive brunettes in the world. But, I don't know, it seemed, well, boring-- in fact, all the colors, brown, blond, and red, seemed boring. Almost everybody-- everybody who has hair, that is-- has brown, blond, or red hair of one shade or another. And, the more I looked at all the available shades, the more boring I found them...
I bought a lightening kit and stripped all the color out of my hair-- actually, I had to use two kits over two days, and I think I've poisoned myself-- so now it's pale orangey yellow. It's interesting, it looks good, butů it's not me. However, according to the box, it is now properly prepared for the application of my perfect color. So, tomorrow, I'm going to try green. Perfect.
Why did I suddenly decide that something must be done about my personal appearance? Why now? Why my hair? Does the Mercury retrograde have anything to do with my decision? It is transiting my First House, backing onto my Ascendant, both of which govern personal appearance. And when Leo is involved-- as it is-- hair is the first consideration.
Well, as I said, there are some valid astrological principles which can be demonstrated. I can determine the sign on the cusp of a person's Tenth House by the traits exhibited when that person is drunk. I can predict how two people will communicate; I can predict how two people will relate. And I can guarantee that when Mercury is retrograde, certain types of screwy things will happen and communications of all kinds will suffer, whether those involved know about the retrograde or not.
Someday, I'd like to hook up with some serious scientists to set up and carry out valid experiments. Then, when I make these assertions, I can cite specifics and back them up with proofs. Until then, well, it doesn't matter what I've seen, or experienced; it doesn't matter how much informal data I have collected. Until I have proofs, I'm no better than those guys with the 900 numbers-- but I'll tell you this, I don't make irrevocable decisions when Mercury is retrograde, and I check every letter, message, order, check, or bill for mistakes-- twice-- and I don't buy electronic equipment, even with a warranty.
I had forgot about this one:
"This is the excellent foppery of the
The Madwoman's Journal Index of Entries.