Robert Tulip Says:
I recently read an interesting article by Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy on the relation between science and astrology. I would like to engage with Phil’s arguments in light of Michel Gauquelin’s statistical proof through analysis of large datasets that positions of planets at birth do correlate, often with probabilities of less than one in a million, with astrological expectations. I argue here that Gauquelin’s work has an equivalent paradigmatic status to the Michelson-Morley experiments in preparing the way for Einstein’s new mathematical synthesis in the theory of relativity, and that new scientific research into the basis of astrology is currently producing a paradigm shift as profound as the Copernican rejection of geocentrism.
Basis of astrology
1. These comment from my own inter-disciplinary perspective, combining philosophy, science and astrology, present an argument for the rational basis of astrology. Because of my interest in the possibility of a rigorous astrology, I emphasise here the scientific astronomical nature of the signs.
2. It is sometimes said that the stars are too far away to determine signs, and that anyway precession makes the signs invalid. This common view shows ignorance of the nature of the tropical zodiac – the basis of the signs determined by equinoxes and solstices. Conventional western astrology has nothing to do with the stars, being based solely on the seasons of the earth and the movement of the planets.
3. The tropical zodiac, the path of the sun through the sky, has four points of change at the solstices and equinoxes. This creates a four-fold rhythm, equating to the seasons. Astrology divides each quarter in three to give the twelve signs. The question arises, why twelve signs and not four or eight? I postulate a reasonable explanation for this traditional observation using chaos theory and evolutionary logic.
4. To explain this claim, it is essential to place human life in cosmic context. If I imagine the sun as the size of a human being, the earth would be the size of a pea ten metres away, Jupiter would be an apple about forty metres away, and the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, would be on the other side of our planet earth.
5. If our solar system were the size of a coin, the next star would be 100 metres away and our Milky Way galaxy would be the size of the continental USA. The point here is that our solar system is incredibly isolated in cosmic terms, like a single ant on a kitchen table. And within our isolated system, 99.8% of which is the sun, we have near total stability of the planetary orbits, which have barely changed since the major catastrophes of four billion years ago when the earth-moon system was established by major collision – creating the earth’s stable tilt causing the seasons. Rare Earth – Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe – presents a brilliant scientific summary of our astounding origins (reviewed at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/038...lance&n=283155
6. In the midst of a hostile galaxy, we know the spinning whirlpool nebula of our sun coalesced about five billion years ago into our stable solar system. After the first billion years or so, life evolved on earth, and then remained microscopic for more than three billion years until the Cambrian evolutionary explosion 560 million years ago. Over this long period, the moon has orbited the earth more than fifty billion times, and (at current rate of wobble) the equinox has precessed around the zodiac more than 150,000 times. All the DNA of earth has evolved in this stable cosmic context.
7. Richard Dawkins argues persuasively in The Selfish Gene and other books that cumulative adaptation to subtle environmental factors is a sufficient explanation for the evolution of life – and that an organism which is better adapted to even a minor factor will in the long run out-compete another organism which lacks that adaptation when both are in the same niche. I agree with Dawkins on this, and note that the stable rhythms of the seasons and planets have been a permanent unchanging part of the context of all life. The planets are minor in their immediate effects compared to terrestrial factors, but they compensate by permanent stability, so it can be expected that organisms which are adapted to their rhythms will have acquired a subtle advantage. Our adaptation – considered in genetic terms over billions of years - is to our local cosmic environment, which is not the earth in isolation but the solar system. Michel Gauquelin, in books such as The Spheres of Destiny and The Cosmic Clocks, gives a number of statistical examples of planetary effects. From simple cases such as the mussels taken from the Atlantic to a dark room in Chicago which adapted to the 25 hour cycle of the moon in the new location, to the surprising fact that traditional descriptors for jovial, martial and saturnine are biographically more commonly used of people born when these planets are rising, such as successful sportsmen who are more likely to be born when Mars is rising.
8. Our unity with our cosmic context can be illustrated by comparing us to trees, which exhibit fractal self-similarity at all levels from the trunk down to the veins of each leaf. A human being is like a leaf on the tree of the sun, exhibiting self-similarity with the system and an organic connection to the whole. To illustrate what this means for astrology, consider this experiment in fluid dynamics. Fill a vat with ten heavy liquids, each a different colour, viscosity and quantity, and rotate the vat at a fixed speed. At random intervals drill a core sample of the mixing fluids, like a glacial ice core. It should be possible in principle to determine precisely when each core was taken, by study of the amount of mixing of colours. The unique character of each moment in time will be displayed, with each moment having definite links to its origin. If the core samples are then put back in the vat, they will evolve with the rest of the mix, but the contents of each sample will be marked uniquely by the shock of its moment of separation.
9. Each individual’s natal chart is like a core from this experimental vat – displaying the moment when we budded from the cosmic whole – somewhat like an exposed photographic film is a record of one specific instant. Our natal chart, Gauquelin argues, also displays the genetic decision of the foetus as to the moment of birth that would best suit its character and purpose, as Gauquelin demonstrates by the non-appearance of planetary effects in statistical samples of induced births. For this reason needless choice of caesarean and induced births and failure to record exact birth times are breaches of the rights of the child.
10. So back to the matter of why there are twelve signs. The question is why should the fourfold seasonal division of the tropical year be divided in three to produce the twelve signs? The issue here is the relative power of the different rhythms of time, and whether there is any factor dividing the year in three to ‘interfere’ with the duple solar division. It is here that the moon’s relation to earth comes into play. The moon, our partner planet, circles the earth about three times each quarter, establishing the month. This permanent rhythm may be interpreted in terms of the idea from complexity theory of ‘entrainment’, on which http://www.thecompounder.com/binauralbeats.html#entrain provides a useful overview.
11. What is “entrainment”? http://www.physics.ubc.ca/~berciu/TE...YS349/alex.pdf explains that when pendulums or clocks are ‘coupled’ through contact with one wall, they fall into step or are entrained, through common vibration. The description of entrainment of firefly lights is also worth reading - showing that events can be linked in surprising ways. Another good example is that soldiers break step when marching over bridges, because the natural vibratory oscillation of the bridge might become entrained with the soldiers’ steps, and the bridge could become increasingly unstable and collapse.
12. The relevance to the moon and the signs is as follows. The seasons of the earth have a regular permanent rhythm, marked by the four points of the equinoxes and solstices each year. This rhythm of the earth may be compared to the natural vibratory rate of the bridge in the example above. On top of earth’s annual rhythm, the moon orbits earth about once a month, creating a second rhythm. This is like the soldiers marching in step in the example, interfering with the annual earth-sun rhythm to cause it to oscillate to the earth-moon beat. These two rhythms, the month and the year, together with the day and the great year, are the primary temporal structures of the earth. All life has evolved to harmonise with these permanent unchanging rhythms, in accordance with the scientific principal of cumulative adaptation. If we think of the year as like the bridge in the example, oscillating around four points, and overlay the moon, dividing each quarter in roughly three, it makes sense – considering the complexity and sensitivity of life - that over the immense period of the four billion years of life our genes would have combined these two cycles deep within their nature, through cumulative adaptation, to form a natural twelve part annual rhythm of life. This is what we call the tropical zodiac signs. The soldiers’ step does not have to be an exact fraction of the bridge period of oscillation to set up a sympathetic vibration in the bridge - entrainment results from a rough match. The 354 day lunar year is close enough to the solar year to entrain it against the month.
13. The effects of other planets are miniscule by comparison to the sun and moon, but still very real, especially at the subtle level of the psyche. The near-total stability of the seasons is the primary rhythm. In a sense this primary period ‘looks for’ a natural division within each quarter. The biggest physical regular period within each quarter is of course the lunar month, which causes the quarter to naturally divide in three equal parts, creating the signs.
14. http://ludix.com/moriarty/entrain.html comments “The moon and sun are the most pervasive entraining influences in our environment. The entire planet is under their sway. But you don’t need a cosmic mass to initiate entrainment. Even a very modest rhythmic impulse, given the right frequency and insistent repetition, is enough to coax any elastic system into significant oscillation. The destruction of the Tacoma Narrows bridge by a passing breeze is a compelling case in point.”
15. The natural binary rhythm of the seasons is entrained to the lunar rhythm - “locking” the earth’s perpetual rhythmic vibration to the outside source of the moon. Without such entrainment the statistical findings of Sachs (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/075...lance&n=283155) would have no scientific basis. The moon has circled the earth 50 billion times, since before life evolved. The result is that the division of each season naturally falls into three because of the moon’s effect, giving the physical basis for the twelve signs of astrology.
16. Within this twelve-fold annual rhythm, what else can we see? Astrology grounds its interpretations in simple numerical physical patterns. The claim is that the cycle of twelve is divided in duple, triple and quadruple patterns. Each second sign is positive or negative, each third sign is cardinal, fixed or mutable, and each fourth sign is fire, earth, air or water. The relation between the triple and quadruple rhythms defines the twelve signs. All the symbolism of each sign falls out of these twelve combinations, from Aries as cardinal fire to Pisces as mutable water.
17. Through this twelve part annual temporal structure of the earth, the wandering planets form harmonic aspects with each other - focussing each other's energies in the temporal rhythms of the world.