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Philosophical Astrology

Philosophical Astrology consists of the links between philosophy and astrology, from the mysticism of ancient religions and cultures based in part on astrology to the mathematics common to both astrology, numerology and Sacred Geometry, and to the curious aspects of astrological Symbolism which have profound philosophical implications.

The Ha Qabala and Tree of Life, for example, are fundamental to Jewish, Christian, and a host of other ancient, medieval, and modern mystical traditions and/or mystery schools.  Together with Numerology and the Tarot, Astrology describes and identifies the characteristics of the many pathways between the Sephiroth in the Tree of Life.  Everything from the “dark night of the soul” (usually referred to as the 32nd path) to all the varied manifestations of processes contained within the Tree come within the purview of the so-called occult arts.  Astrology provides one tool for identifying the meaning of the multiple transformations and transitions of life, all a part of The Fool’s Journey -- the latter one of the better examples of a philosophy of living.

Astrology’s connection to the Tree of Life can also be seen in such things as the Tree’s column of severity, which is represented by the astrological planets: Uranus, Saturn and Mars.  Uranus is revolutionary and sudden change, Saturn, limitation and boundaries, and Mars, aggressiveness and war).  Meanwhile the Tree’s column of mercy is composed of Neptune, Jupiter and Venus (illusion and fantasy, benevolence and generosity, love and romance).[*]  In essence, the attributes of the Sephiroth reflect what we know of the astrology of the applicable planet being assigned to the Tree of Life.  Saturn, for example, is about government, citizen responsibilities, societal rules, boundaries and limits; while the Sephiroth corresponding to Saturn -- Geburah -- is about severity and strength, justice, strife, loss in pleasure, and earthly trouble.  Clearly a good definition of earthly trouble can be found in such government troubles as the IRS, FBI, CIA, DOD, ETC!  Other examples include the Sephiroth, Yesod (foundation), which is amply personified by Mercury (communications, analysis, thinking, and so forth).

Astrology shows up elsewhere in the cultural and philosophical traditions of everything   from ancient Egypt -- where an astrology very similar to modern day astrology is carved into the Temple of Denderra -- to ancient Babylonia -- where Berossus predicted and wielded an astrology sufficient to grab anyone’s attention.  Astrology was also a primary tool of Nostradamus (1503-1566 A.D.), who used astrology as the basis for the timing of his many prophecies (many of which profoundly affected royalty and influential leaders and whose validity could thus be determined).  

On a yet more fundamental level, astrology is based upon Sacred Geometry, which is in turn based on the Golden Mean (represented by the Greek letter, phi).  Philosophy can be written: phi-lo-sophia -- wherein sophia (sophy) is “the study, wisdom, or knowledge”, lo, “the amazing sight” (as in “lo and behold”), and phi... just phi.  Thus philosophy is “the study, wisdom, or knowledge” of “the amazing sight” of... phi!  Sacred Geometry may then be said to connect astrology and philosophy.  The latter can be said to be wholly within the purview of Sacred Mathematics, i.e. the universe is based on numbers.  This is not a definition of philosophy that many philosophers would accept, but this is probably due only to their lack of mathematical acuity.

A philosophy of astrology, per se, is less obvious, but can be described by alluding to what are known as “Sabian Symbols.”  These symbols, according to Dane Rudhyar [1], “take events from the realm of the fortuitous, the unprecedented, the unique and the incomprehensible to the realm of ‘universals’.”  “Expressed through symbols, life becomes condensed into a relatively few interrelated units of experience.  Each unit is a concentrate of the experiences of millions of people.”  Symbols use “an imagery that is close to the foundations of the natural life -- and these foundations are still very real and active in the immense majority of human beings.”  The Tree of Life, for example, is replete with symbols, and it is those symbols which constitute its meaning -- even when discussion and mere words prove to be wholly inadequate.

The history of astrology’s Sabian Symbols is critical to their understanding.  It began in 1925, when Marc Edmund Jones (an astrologer) approached Elsie Wheeler (a clairvoyant medium, who happened to be crippled by arthritis).  Jones had a novel idea.  He provided a deck of 360 cards, each card representing one degree of the Zodiacal circle (and identified, for example, as one degree Aries, ten degrees Scorpio, and so forth).  In Miss Wheeler’s presence, Jones shuffled the deck (and reshuffled many times during the process), and then began pulling one card at random -- without his or her seeing what the card was.  Miss Wheeler responded by describing what she saw.  Apparently, a scene flashed in her inner vision, which she quickly described, and which Jones made a brief pen notation on the card of what she said.  Not only was the procedure entirely aleatory as far as the normal consciousness of the two participants was concerned, but the amazing thing was that the 360 symbols were obtained during a few hours in the morning, and later in a few hours during the afternoon -- at a rate of roughly one symbol every ninety seconds.

What made the resulting Sabian Symbols so incredible is that while the two individuals had proceeded at fantastic speed and had operated purely at random, the result was a series which, when carefully studied, yielded a definite and complex internal structure.  The entire 360 cards matched with one another in geometrical pattern.  Dane Rudhyar [1], for example, found that the symbols formed, among other possibilities, a pentagonal five-step process -- much in accord with Sacred Geometry.  Apparently, there was some kind of Consciousness at work.  For the symbols were not only operating at both an existential and archetypal-structural level, but they could be considered as “phases of a cyclic process rather than as isolated images -- that is, when the possible interpretations are considered in the light of preceding and following phrases in a characteristic five-fold sequence, and in terms of wider relationships -- any ambiguity usually disappears.”


Possibly of all the Sabian Symbols, which might garner your attention, is the symbol for the North Node (aka the “Dragon’s Head”, and which represents destiny), taken from the chart of 2012 A. D. (i.e. the end of the Mayan Calendar, and potentially the “end of Time as we know it.”)  The symbol for this most incredible of all dates is “An X-Ray Photograph.”  Rudhyar interpreted this to mean, “The capacity to acquire a knowledge of the structural factors in all existence.  He goes on to say, “The true philosopher is able to grasp and significantly evaluate what underlies all manifestations of life.  His mind’s eye penetrates through the superficialities of existence and perceives the framework that gives an at least relatively permanent ‘form’ to all organized systems.  Thus if the structure is weak, deformed by persistent strain, or unbalanced, the basic causes of outer disturbances and dis-ease can be discovered.  This symbol... provides the conscience of the individual who refuses to obey his society with a depth-understanding of what is wrong in the situation he faces.  Beyond the powerful feeling quality of ‘peak experiences’, the mind can understand the great Principles of which they were the manifestations.  This is STRUCTURAL KNOWLEDGE in contrast to existential knowledge.”

Interpreted as the end of time as we know it, implies that there may be much to learn in the ultimate “peak experience” of 2012 A.D., a time when Novelty and the TimeWave go to infinity, and the greatest changes of all human experience abruptly manifest!  Similarly, another date -- based on the TimeWave theory -- is November 11, 2011 (just over 384 days prior to the perceived ending date of roughly 12-21-2012).  The Sabian Symbols (and a brief interpretation from Rudhyar) for this critical “beginning of the end” are:

Sun          A Woman Draws Away Two Dark Curtains Closing the Entrance to a Sacred Pathway -- The revelation to the human consciousness of what lies beyond dualistic knowledge. Plunge ahead into the Unknown”

Moon        “A Peacock Parading on a Terrace of an Old Castle -- The personal display of inherited gifts. Consumation.”

Mercury & Venus  “A Flag turns into an Eagle; the Eagle into a Chanticleer Saluting the Dawn -- The spiritualization and promotion of great symbols of a New Age by minds sensitive to its precursory manifestations.  (An Eagle is the first living creature to perceive the rising sun.)  Annunciation”

Mars         “In a Portrait, the Significant Features of a Man’s Head Are Artistically Emphasized -- The capacity to picture to oneself clearly the salient features and the overall meaning of any life situation.

Jupiter      “The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow -- Riches that come  from linking the celestial and the earthly nature.  Communion”  [Jupiter always was the Santa Claus of the Zodiac!]

Saturn       “A Butterfly with a Third Wing on its Left Side -- The ability to  develop, for inner strengthening, new modes of response to basic life  situations.  Original Mutation”

Chiron       “In a Crowded Marketplace, Farmers and Middlemen Display a  Great Variety of Products -- The process of commingling and interchange which at all levels demonstrates the health of a community.  (...what is stressed is the coming together, in a final experience of community, of all factors previously experienced.)  Commerce”

Uranus      “A Woman Just Risen from the Sea.  A Seal Is Embracing Her -- Emergence of new forms and of the potentiality of consciousness.  Impulse to Be”

Neptune    “A Butterfly Emerging from a Chrysalis -- The capacity to utterly  transform the character of one’s consciousness by radically altering the  structural patterns of everyday living and the types of relationships one  enters upon.  Metamorphosis”

Pluto          “Ten Logs Lie Under an Archway Leading to Darker Woods -- The need to complete any undertaking before seeking entrance to whatever  is to be found beyond.  Threshold”

The more complete interpretation for Pluto is perhaps worth noting.  “Number 10 is a symbol of completion; it symbolizes even more the revelation of a new series of activities just ahead.  [i.e. Death and Rebirth]  Yet unless the concluded series is brought to some degree of fulfillment, nothing truly significant is likely to be accomplished by a restless reaching out toward the as-yet-unknown.  Number 10 is a symbol of germination, but the seed (Number 9) must have matured well.  No natural process can be accelerated safely beyond certain limits.  It establishes a foundation for what will follow.”

It rather as if we’ll each have about three weeks (November 11, 2011 to December 3, 2011) to complete all our stuff, toss off all our baggage, and prime ourselves for the last 384 days of the TimeWave.  Or we can begin to do all that shedding, right about now!


The Sabian Symbols are just one aspect of the philosophy of astrology.  Determinism and Free Will also play a major role, as does the basics of how anyone interprets the symbolism of astrology.  Pictures -- and astrological charts -- convey a thousand words, and perhaps more than most things, demonstrate the limits of language (or rather, why, perhaps, language is considered a curse during the time of the Kali Yuga).  Symbolism, in fact, conjures understandings and emotions far beyond a written sequence of words.

According to Dane Rudhyar [1], an astrological “birth chart is a person-centered symbol.  That is to say, it carries a ‘message’ -- the symbolic formulation of the individual’s dharma [destiny].  It suggests how [the individual] can best actualize the innate potentialities of his or her particular and unique selfhood.  It is a symbol, a mandala, or logos, a word of power.  Astrology, seen from this point of view, is a language of symbols.  It implies a process of unfoldment of an idea of feeling-response.”  “...a process of unfoldment, as Carl Jung might have said, of ‘individuation’.”

A person’s experiences “basically repeat themselves [Cycles!], even though [the individual] might respond to them differently at each new encounter.”  “There are only a certain number of basic meanings to be gathered by a human being in his or her lifetime, and that these meanings can be seen in terms of structural and cyclic sequence.” “An individual, however, acting as an individual and having succeeded in becoming free from collective patterns, may break through the circle of limitations and tap into a deeper source of life and consciousness; this indeed is what true occultism is about.” [1]

Rudhyar goes on to say, “Man should not seek tensely and self-protectively to avoid or control events.  Events do not happen to an individual person; he or she happens to them.  An individual meets them, and imparts to them his or her own meaning.”  “All truly constructive, creative, or redeeming acts are performed through the individual person by a focalization of the whole universe.  This is the ‘transpersonal way’ of which I have spoken for many years.” [1]  Astrology is thus, in many ways, transpersonal.  It is part of the Creating Reality and Intermingled Realities, in which we all have a part.

Astrology can also be used for the most mundane and trivial purposes.  But then again, so can all really useful tools in the hands of men and women with limited intentions.



Astrology         Reincarnation        Death and Rebirth

Forward to:

Some Bare Basics         Chiron         Synastry         Mundane Astrology

Geometry and Astrology         Science and Astrology         Applying Astrology



[*]  This assumes the assignment of planets on the Tree of Life in accord with the author’s research, and does not necessarily reflect all treatments by other authors.


[1]  Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformation and Its 360 Symbolic Phases, Vintage Books, New York, 1974.



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