Battle of the Planets
Astrology & Self-Culivation


Section Headings

Astrology & Self-Culivation

Getting to know our Solar Neighborhood

Heavenly patterns provide a language for Earthly events

Astrology & Self-Culivation

An astrological article? Whoa! A strange shift of course for a ‘we’ that has published books and articles on myriad topics, including the History of Southeast Asia, the Dynamics of Attention, Tax Reform, and Chinese Self-Cultivation — all from an academic, expository perspective. What is the meaning of this seemingly strange about face? What has possessed my Person? Why is he tackling this supposedly superstitious topic?

Just want to share some juicy gossip concerning our planetary neighbors. Lots of conflict between two opposing camps. Could this battle of the planets be a reflection of the political, economic and health chaos we are currently undergoing?

“Fortunetelling based upon planetary position? How absurd! Utterly unreasonable,” you might be thinking. “No scientific support whatsoever.”

Of course, Art and Music have no scientific basis either. Nor does Consciousness, for that matter. Despite claims to the contrary, astrology is an art, not a science. Just as a painting or a musical composition is not judged according to scientific standards, neither should astrology.

The query: “Do you believe in astrology?” is itself a misguided question, as it is based upon a common logical misconception. The question presumes that there is an absolute truth. We can make an absolute determination regarding whether something is True or False — Right or Wrong — On or Off.

This rigid way of thinking is modeled after the exact binary reasoning of a computer — the precise set-based logic of electrons and molecules. Absolutism with its definable essences and reductionist analysis is perfectly applicable to our Material Universe. However, due to Reflexivity, i.e. Life’s mysterious interactive feedback loops, this same type of absolutism that is perfectly suited to the material world is not applicable to the Living Realm of meaning.

Rather than asking whether astrology is true or false, a better question becomes: What is the value of astrology? What is the source of its enduring appeal?

Perhaps taps into subconscious cognition, like the Rorschach inkblot tests. Perhaps a reflection of the divine order. Or maybe just our ego’s need to project meaning on random events. Regardless of the real reason, astrology must have some human purpose, as it shows no sign of phasing out.

What does science tell us about astrology? Do the stars really exert an emotional effect upon us? Probably not. Hard to connect emotions with sheer matter.

Does planetary position at birth determine our fixed personality? Probably not. Psychologists have performed innumerable experiments that have dispelled the notion of a permanent character. Instead humans seem to be developmental — changing intermittently over time.

Can astrology predict the future? Probably not. Due to Black Swans, i.e. extreme random events, no one, not even the experts, can predict what is going to happen in the future. Nicholas Taleb develops this notion in his book, The Black Swan.

If astrology can’t be employed for prognostication or for the determination of personality, what’s the point?

Since time immemorial humans of every culture have identified heavenly patterns and then employed these patterns in a metaphorical fashion to understand earthly patterns. We match the internal logic of the stars with living processes. The Heavens provide a language for Earthly affairs. Humankind has, of course, invested far more reality in this bizarre resonance than they should. Yet this peculiar fascination has proved quite productive, as it led directly to Science.

To ground all this speculation, time for the planetary gossip — who’s going out with whom; and who is fighting.

Getting to know our Solar Neighborhood

There is an ongoing drama happening in the nighttime sky over the next few months. Before getting into the salient details, let’s introduce the characters — our planetary neighbors. Perhaps you can form a relationship — an emotional bond — feel more at home in our celestial neighborhood. Unlike most solar systems, ours is very stable and orderly — quantized orbits and velocities that go on virtually forever. Due to this relative permanence, we can depend upon our planets to be stable friends. No moving away or dying.

After sunset, Jupiter is easily visible with the naked eye in the western sky. He is the bright star that doesn’t blink. Saturn is fairly close to him — on his left. If you have a telescope, you can see her rings. Mars, the red planet, is on the eastern horizon. These are the main characters in our play, but not the only ones.

Check out our planetary neighbors through regular sightings. Get to know and recognize them on their seemingly erratic journey through the Zodiac. This band of stars that surrounds the Earth is the galaxy we inhabit — appropriately named the Milky Way. It swirls around in the midst of innumerable galaxies, some that dwarf our tiny system. Despite the immensity of space, ours is a special planet in a special solar system in a special galaxy. Why? Because we are in it and aware of it. There is always a special numinosity that accompanies presence.

It’s cool to recognize our planetary friends. It’s even cooler to know what they are doing — their ongoing dynamic interactions — the gossip.

Jupiter, the brightest and largest of all the planets, is chasing Saturn and will catch her on December 21, as they both move into Aquarius. This particular dance has been going on for a relatively long time, ever since the start of the year (2020). Check them out as they move closer together and then finally move into conjunction at the Winter Solstice. Some scholars have argued that it was this special union between these two giant planets that drew the wise men to Bethlehem — the legendary Star.

There is an invisible planet between these two behemoths — Pluto. Before reaching stern Saturn, mighty Jupiter catches Pluto on November 12. Right now in November, all three planets are in late Capricorn. Tiny Pluto is associated with the People, the Public, mass movements, the little guy. He is getting help from Jupiter, the powerful, the leader, the wealthy.

Saturn provides structure, order and consequences to the trio — a karmic planet. Good leads to good and vice versa. These relationships are considered auspicious — two mighty planets with the smallest between. Perhaps a time of permanent change and new beginnings for the earth. Something very special could be in store for us.

But wait! Mars is lingering on the eastern horizon after sunset and becomes more and more prominent over the coming weeks. Finally heading forward to take care of old business, Mars in Aires is coming into direct conflict (square 90º) with our 3 harmonic allies in Capricorn over in the western sky. Ouch! As Mars is the planet of war, aggression and conflict, his collision course doesn’t look pretty. Watch out for injury and anger.

If that isn’t bad enough, the drama includes yet another invisible planet — Uranus, the planet of revolution and change. Radical Uranus is in an alliance with War-like Mars against the rest. Uh, Oh!

The astrological battle occurs in stages in early winter. Aggressive Mars first attacks tiny Pluto on Xmas eve, December 24; then stern Saturn on January 13 and finally mighty Jupiter on January 23. Simultaneously, Mars joins forces with Uranus in this cosmic conflict on January 22.

But then Jupiter and Saturn fight back, attacking Uranus, the stronghold of chaos and turbulence. Expansive Jupiter strikes first against Radical Uranus on January 17; then Saturn, the planet of stability, order and judgment, cracks down on Uranus February 17.

With the Mars complex battling the Jupiter complex, you can see that there is lots of planetary excitement over the next few months. Many of these interactions are visible with the naked eye.

Heavenly patterns provide a language for Earthly events

There are many ways of understanding these planetary battles: Covid’s Devastation; Contested Election; Political turmoil, Economic consequences. Oh, and we can’t forget Global Warming. We can employ these planetary patterns as a language to describe earthly events. Mars and Uranus are fighting with Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto over the next few months. No wonder there seems to be so much chaos. When does it end, you might ask.

The intensity of the planetary battles eases off after January, as Mars moves into a more harmonious relationship with the rest. There is an end to the planetary turmoil. Just as the planetary interactions have cycles, so do human events. The astrological lesson is that human experience is cyclical, not linear or permanent.

Ultimately, our Mind creates all patterns, whether personal, political or astrological. It then invests these patterns with meaning. We can then match heavenly patterns with earthly patterns to facilitate understanding. Let’s now employ these planetary interactions as a self cultivation language.

Just as the planetary interactions are an imagined Reality so is much of our relationship with the world of media. Just as we can project imaginary meaning upon the heavens, we can also project imaginary meaning onto our own lives. We watch the news and make this our imagined Reality. Perhaps becoming depressed over faraway events that have virtually nothing to do with our day-to-day lives. Becoming angry and upset over some type of electronic information that comes through some kind of screen. For many of us, this digested info becomes more important than the food we eat, the people we are with, and the very body we inhabit.

In this context, we can say to ourselves: just as the conflict between the Mars complex and Jupiter complex is imaginary, so are the patterns we project upon this digital info that bombards us throughout the day. The planetary metaphor suggests that we invest far too much reality onto these electronic sound bytes.

Just as we can’t change planetary behavior, we exert very little effect, if any, upon global affairs. All we can change is our own lives. Hopefully our positive actions will influence our acquaintances in an equally positive fashion. But the world? A little beyond our reach. Stay close to home.

What is to be done? Easy to understand the problem. Hard to combat it.

Let us look again to astrology for the answer. When Mars is picking on Pluto, we do not become angry or upset. We keep our emotions under control. Coming from a point of emotional tranquility generally results in higher quality thoughts, words and deeds.

How do we achieve mental calm? The simple answer: Meditation, Exercise and most of all: Spend less of your valuable time on the screen and more time in Nature. Maybe go outside and observe our planetary neighbors in the evening sky.


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