What is astrology? - a series of short articles
Modest Proposal no.1: Astrology is what astrologers do
This proposal has the benefit of drawing attention away from the heavens and focusing on astrology as an activity which happens down here. All astrology is mediated by astrologers. The phenomenon which astrologers study is not astrology. Instead, astrology is the name given to the study itself. This is an important difference. The map is not territory, as the man said.
The following graphic is a scheme illustrating the interplay between the domains of astrologer, context and symbolism. It is simplistic, but gets the point across.
The context domain is the most complex and can be considered on any scale. It represents reality, or the phenomenal world. This of course includes the solar system and the heavens. On this scale, the astrologer domain in the scheme effectively becomes the humanity domain. The overlap between astrologer/humanity and context domains indicates firstly that the astrologer/humanity is not separate from the context. Secondly, the astrologer/humanity has a relationship with the planets which is culturally grounded. For example, we know about the existence of Neptune, whereas the Greek astrologers did not. This relationship with the planets and heavens is influenced as much by imagination as reason. Hence the imaginal mapping of constellation patterns onto the starry chaos, etc.
The symbolism and techniques used in astrology emerge as the third domain out of this interaction between astrologer/humanity and context. There would be no symbolic meanings for the planets if this was not the case, or if humans were not symbol makers and users.
Astrology is what happens in the central area where all three domains overlap.
For this proposal, the bottom line is that astrology is a human activity. As a subject, it can't be understood without taking this bottom line into account. Astrology is not simply the sum of its tools, techniques and symbols.
Copyright © 2003 Bill Sheeran. All Rights Reserved.