Astrology: The scaffold of the world

I’m thinking a lot about astrology these days. It’s an important form of cyclical thinking, which seems tailor-made for managing one’s thought processes and thinking in terms of turning and returning to the same spots, stepping into the river and having it be both the same river, and not the same river. It’s a way of telling stories, of converting mathematics (in the form of geometry in time and space) back into stories, of connecting the beginning of the liberal arts in rhetoric back to the ending in astronomy. It’s a way of exploring history in a mythic way.

I’ve already explored the Decans and the Mansions of the Moon in poetry.  These books haven’t been very popular, at least not yet. I keep hoping they’ll take off.  The days leading up to the Full Moon in Cancer (in December) is a good time to begin thinking about the Mansions (which are a daily cycle); and the Winter Solstice is a good time to begin thinking about the Decans (which are a 10-days-at-a-time yearly cycle).  And you can start the Behenian Stars cycle at any time — there’s almost always some of them in the sky in the northern hemisphere.

In any case, back to the current project.  I’ve read Bernadette Brady’s Book of the Fixed Stars, and Christopher Warnock’s Mansions of the Moon, and Austin Coppock’s 36 Facesand I’m most of the way through Chris Brennan’s Hellenistic AstrologyAll of that is kind of a bibliography for what follows. And what follows is more or less a commentary on the underlying geometry problem I’m exploring in the attached photo.

You see, what I’m doing is erecting the scaffold of the world. Starting from a blank piece of paper, I’m trying to chart all that I know or feel that I’ve learned about astrology so far— the Signs and fixed stars, the Mansions and the Bounds, the dignities and detriments. All of these things are plotted to the wheel of the stars, at least relative to one another.

So it makes sense to lay them out geometrically. At least once, anyway. I’ve done quite a lot of work on geometry, so I find that it’s pretty easy to lay out this work, at least at this scale — getting minutes accurately is impossible, but I’m managing ok at least to the degree so far (in pencil if not in pen). And there’s a framework here that’s starting to make some sense.

At its heart, astrology is about telling stories. And at its heart, astrology assumes that all the stories that it is possible to tell on earth, are told more or less simultaneously in the heavens. That’s an emotionally challenging claim to make — its also an enormously challenging claim to make in today’s world.

But we already have a model for what I’m doing here, really. This is like drawing the map for the fantasy novel. It’s the diagram at the start of the book that shows the lineage of the heir to the throne. It’s the layout of the destiny of the smallfolk and the princes. It’s the map of the Twelve Kingdoms and the twenty-eight dukedoms and the territories of the thirty-six princes. And it’s saying that all of these figures, great and small, have something to do with what happens next.

I have a fair bit of experience with drawing maps. I’m interested to see what happens when I draw a map of the skies and the heavens, and not simply a map of the earth. There are more things in those two places, of course, than I have ever dreamt of in my philosophy.

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