Sunday, August 28, 2005

On Conservatism & Liberalism in Astrology Today

On Conservatism & Liberalism in Astrology Today: A Look At America's Red State-Blue State Divide

6:09 AM 8/28/05 Sun

Ever since the 2000 Presidential Elections, the United States has increasingly become more and more sharply divided along partisan lines (as if it couldn't get any worse during the Clinton years!); the events surrounding the Sep 11 Terror Attacks, along with the 2002 Mid-Term and 2004 Presidential Elections has only heightened the rhetoric on both sides. Everyone by now has seen the infamous American map of "Red States" and "Blue States", demarcating by geographic locale, the political climate and resultant positions. Those reside in one area or another, trend toward the prevailing political view, in the main. And those political views, are widely divergent indeed.

Within the American Astrological Community - and by that I mean the professional and semi-professional associations, organizations and groups of all levels of interest, online discussion forums, literature and so on - this divide is not quite so clear to see. That's not because of a willingness on the part of astrologers on both sides of the political divide to work together - far from it. It's because of the hugely monochromatic nature of today's modern astrological environment. And not only is that environment decidedly Left-leaning in orientation, theory and practice, but it is increasingly hostile to any other point of view outside of it. If Astrology is at its essence the mirroring of human events on Earth, then what is occuring in astrology circles today is no more strange than which is occuring in real life for those of who live in the real world. This essay will attempt to explain why I think such a state of affairs exists, and what might happen in the near future regarding it.

An Interesting PremiseIn an recent discussion on the Pan Astrological Forum, an online listserv I founded some 4 years ago, several people were responding to a series of comments I made regarding this very same subject presented in a slightly different way; I coalecesed all of my position points into the experiences I had with a lady astrologer whom I gave the psuedonym "Betty"; it was my argument that she was the living emobodiment of today's American Western astrologer, and all the problems that came with it. Amid the usual rancor and tomato throwing that many of my missives get, an exchange occured between two colleagues of mine that teased out what I considered to be an interesting premise that I want to share with the reader. This is that premise, taken from said exchange between my two colleagues (Jane Axtell and Sam Reynolds), back in July of this year:

"SR: My point is that there really isn't a great level of political variety in the >current American astrological community, as I've stumbled on it.

JA: The helping professions, drawing more on Venus and Jupiter, trendto what is called liberal today. The enforcer professions, drawing moreon Mars and Saturn trend to what is called conservative today. Mostastrologers today are helping profession liberals.

SR: Yes, and that's the problem. Despite how I might sound here and my roiling arguments with Mu, I am unapologetically a Saturn/Mars personality. (They're in mutual reception for Pete's sake, with Saturn in the 1st house in Aries and I'm a Scoprio with a Mars in Capricorn in the 11th house. I can't get more Saturn/Mars!) So I often find Venus/Jupiter types too fuzzy, too Carebear/Strawberry Shortcakish. I'm against the Iraqi War, too. Largely, because I think it's a red herring. However, if the U.S. could really identify it's enemy as a country and this country, indeed, laid claim to targeting 9/11, I would have no problem with this country bombing them into the stone age. None. War is as much a part of the current conception of human nature as peace. (Note: I didn't say human nature by itself. I don't believe it inherently exists.)

SR: In fact, though I am not a Bush supporter myself, I wasn't surprised >that he won the last election. Many astrologers predicted, inaccurately, >that he would lose. This led me to believe that either their astrology >was fuzzy (probable) or that they failed to be in step with the key aspects >of how this nation is working (more probable).

JA: From the long distance, I knew that Bush would win this second termon astrological evidence. This prediction was made before WTC, beforethe Iraq war, and I never had any reason to discard it. However, I am guilty on the second count. I am out of step with key aspects of how this nation is working. I had expected Republicans to be rising up by nowto the end of tossing him out.

SR:Why? Why would you think they would toss the person out who's made them matter?
SR: In war, and again, I don't support this particular war, but Venus and Jupiter types don't get answers out of people, out of soldiers. And how did people think before the tortures became public that the U.S. was gathering intelligence about Al-Qaeda operations? Candy? Torture of civilians is wrong. However, of soldiers or militants caught red-handed, it may very well be a necessity.

JA: I agree that astrologers are class bound and generation bound in our awarenesses. So is nearly everyone else, but given the cosmic nature ofour topic, we expect more here.

SR:... I have a good measure of respect for what fundamentalism and conservatism >represent in American polity and culture. And I don't think this is found reflexively >in modern American astrological culture, unless you want to argue that this exists >in the growing trend of medieval astrology or Vedic.

JA: I am lost here. Astrologically, the 59 year long Jupiter and Saturn cycle mightbe bringing us to an era where emotionalized hearth values, mom and home andapple pie and the little white church with the steeple, will dominate. Is this what you are talking about?

SR: No, not exactly. You used the wrong tense. It isn't WILL dominate. It's here. Astrology flippantly ignores fundamentalism and conservatism, while not tracking its own internal political development. Is the push for medieval and vedic astrologies a push for a conservative set of principles in astrology? That's a genuine question. I'm not sure if it is.

SR: Like it or not, believe it or not, fundamentalism is hotter than ipods and >destined to get even hotter. Other than a trite, idiotic mention of Pluto in >Sagittarius, what are the measured responses and contemplative understandings >of the astrological community to this? JA: I don't believe the "astrological community" exists outside of your imaginationand that of the man called Mu. This too should change as alumni associations produced by the accredited institutions alter our future.

SR: My,aren't we optimistic? I think exactly the converse. As astrology seeks more collusion on the academic levels, it may become more and more distant from what ordinary folk think and feel. In fact, I'm assuming, and I could be wrong, that it's probably a statistical fact that a great number of the troops for "liberal" causes are culled from college campuses or accredited institutions. However, despite the great number of troops on these campuses, and remember this, always: Bush won this election without the support of liberal media or colleges and institutions. Conservatives have realized, aptly, that they have institutions which are more organized, flexible, and accessible than most colleges or liberal think tanks. The Liberal/Left has yet to create enough institutions to tackle this. So I don't think it's just going to happen that the astrological community, by virtue of more accredited institutions, is going to pop up and become more politically charged and sensitive. In fact, I see every indication of the opposite. Geoffrey Cornelius, whose book I'm reading, The Moment of Astrology, is right. The question for astrologers is not just discerning the Jupiter Saturn cycle, but for whom? If the astrology doesn't learn to do that on broader levels, then many of us can look forward to taking our grandchildren to an exciting exhibit at the Smithsonian in 2029 titled "Did She Know It Would Happen?: The death of Astrology in the 21st century"

Four Illuminating PointsA most powerful exchange, that again highlights the key themes that I submit we in the astrological community have to come to grips with. Here is what I take away from this exchange:

1. That, in the main, today's Modern Western astrologer aligns himself/herself much more with the symbolisms of Venus and Jupiter, while the Vedic or Horary astrologer aligns themselves more along the lines of the symbolisms of Mars and Saturn - and that these symbolisms aptly capture the "red state (Mars-Saturn), blue-state (Venus-Jupiter)" political climate of our time

2. That the Liberal/Venus-Jupiter culture and mindset is concentrated in areas and forums where Venus-Jupiter endeavors dominate - the college campus, the media and to a large extent, entertainment. Much of our astrological focus, aspiration and interest are caught up in these areas as well (for example, there has long been an interest and "push" to see astrology in the same regard as such white collar professions as medicine and law; many astrologers have bolstered their knowledge with additional training in psychology and so on; our almost obssessive interest in the "lives of the rich and famous" and so on). Additionally, we can also add that most of the leading voices in the astrological community at this time tend to, from their writings and such, lean more in line with the "blue state" mentality than that of the "red state" (Liz Greene, Jeff Green, Steve Forrest, are names that easily come to mind, just to name a few)

3. That those who favor a more "hardened" approach tend to be somewhat marginalized (Mars-Saturn types tending to be interested in areas of astrology such as Mundane, or Financial, or Horary, or Vedic; disciplines where "hard and fast" rules apply, where empirical evidence is needed and attention to detail is at a premium) in the discourse of ideas in the astrological community; please note the paltry attendance of Mundane, Horary and/or Financial astrology lectures at the big mainstream astrology conferences and so on; the books available on these subjects that pale in comparison to the more "Venus-Jupiter" variety of astrological literature (the almost exclusive market-interest and focus on Natal astrology, Synastry and their psychological implications)

4. That, in a broad sort of way, Venus-Jupiter combinations connote a certain Class, whereas Mars-Saturn pairings denote another; most Liberals tend to be at least marginally middle-class, which means that they have usually had at least some college training and education; whereas Conservatives can be found accross the social and class spectrum, from the least educated manual laborer, to the Ivy League professor (which is RARE to see) with conservative convictions. This would then explain what Sam suggested above, that so many astrologers today are fundamentally out of step with the polity and reality of those who reside in Red State America - a polity that is considerably larger, more influential (at least electorally at this point) and far more substantial than many Blue Staters - astrological and otherwise - might have originally thought. And much of their writing, thinking, speaking, reflects this truth.

An Analysis (And Critique) of The Astrological LeftBy now, it should come as no surprise where I reside on the divide - Mars and Saturn play a prominent role in my life, to say the least. It should also come as no surprise that "Betty" had Venus and Jupiter very prominent in her natus, which again speaks volumes to the theory being advanced within this essay (please see my essay "A (Utterly Ridiculous!) Conversation with "Betty, The Uranian Astrologer" for more on this point). In addition, I have spent cosiderable time, effort and intellectual capital in advancing the premise that so much of what we say, think and do today in the astrological community is at its best, severly limited in terms of its utility to the masses of folk, if not out and out elitist. So much of what we do is taken for granted, so much is assumed, so broad are our pretensions.

Consider, if you will, two of the most talked about areas of Astrology - Vocational and Synastry. Because most (if not ALL) of the leading thinkers in the astrological community today come of the "blue state" mentality, these discussions invariably take on these sensibilities, which may - and more often than not, may not - jibe with the realities of so many Americans. For example, the phrase "Synastry" can really refer to any number of relationship arrangements: traditional marriage, live-in relationship, gay or lesbian relationship. The literature available - and this includes that which is available online as well - would have one believe that all exist in equal measure, that "everyone's doing it". But the reality is that this couldn't be more from the truth. At the very least, the vast majority of Americans believe in the ideal of marriage between a man and a woman, even if they have fallen short of that ideal for themselves. Online venues like bears witness to such an interest and so on. Yet so many of our books and the like on the question of relationship within astrology centers on just that "relationship", a word that nowadays carries at best a mixed bag of meanings, if any at all (and note so many astrological books on this subject rarely if ever, use the word "marriage"). This is why I took issue with an article that Steven Forrest wrote on the subject sometime back, challenging his notions of relationship in these areas on the grounds that his views were pointed at a very limited number of people in the overall fabric of American life, and that indeed, they not only would be inapplicable to that vast majority, they would also be highly offensive.

What about Vocational astrology?-surely, another area that garners much attention and focus. And many of us offer up menus and formulas and how-to's on what astrologically makes one a "doctor, lawyer, Indian chief" - that is to say, that so much of our writing and presentation in this area, again reflects a sort of Venus-Jupiter feel; we spend lots of time dealing with folks who are already in the professions or on their way there. Yet, once again, the vast majority of American polity does NOT work within those professions, and perhaps never will; so many people are laborers, lower-level civil servants, blue-collar workers of various stripes - and it is the rare vocational astrological tract that discusses them beyond a passing mention, often treating such cases as a carnival sideshow oddity. Today's Vocational astrology has a near-obssessive infatuation with America's Creative Class, and it all but has eschewed its more salt-of-the-earth working majority that makes the existence of that vaunted "creative class" possbile in the first place and their often over-blown "trials and tribulations" seem silly and narcissistic by comparison. A Mars-Saturn astrologer would, or at least could, possbily see that. One is hard pressed, based on the evidence up to this point, to believe that a Venus-Jupiter astrologer could or would want to.

And then there's the what I like to call the "Don't Bring Me No Bad News!" divide between Venus-Jupiter and Mars-Saturn astrologers; and there are major, major differences with respect to how each approaches this issue of difficulty and the hard times an astrological client faces. A Venus-Jupiter astrologer's approach is likely to be more along the lines of what at least some psychologists do, in particular the "no value judgement" strategem that so many in our current community espouse; whereas the Mars-Saturn astrologer doesn't hestitate for a second to inform the client that what she's doing is incorrect, and what to do in practical, no nonsense terms to correct it. Please note that I used the word "she" in my example a second ago, and for good reason - it's because the vast majority of paying clients and even casual seekers of astrology overwhelmingly tend to be women. It has been thus for sometime here in the USA and I would suspect other areas of at least the Modern Western World. For these reasons, one could conclude on its face that there is something inherent in Astrology itself that inclines more women toward seeking its insights than men - I would like to argue, especially in the current environment in which Astrology finds itself, the reverse; that it is not the Astrology that isn't as friendly to the male side of the American polity that is at variance, but they WAY in which it is framed, discussed, approached, that has a hard time "going over" with men. Simply put, most men don't want to drone on about feelings and self-esteem and "empowerment" - they want practical, straight-forward advice and strategies to get things done. Period. And today's astrologer - coming out of the Venus-Jupiter School of Political Correctness - just ain't gonna get it. Moreover, far too much of the current astrological discourse and the like falls in line with the basic premise of the Left - that anything that is male and straight is inherently suspect.
Looking Back - And The Road AheadIn the last Century, Astrology in the West saw a huge rebirthing of itself, tearing itself away from its more Old World fatalistic moorings, and embracing a Brave New World of possibilities and potentials. It's rare, if not impossible, to see a modern Western astrology tome use the word "malefic" anymore, and so on. And while there has been some good and positive things to come out that movement started in earnest by Dane Rudhyar, there are also huge problems associated with it as well. Chief of which being, its decided lack of practicality and connection with the common folk, and its often-pie in the sky rhetoric that prevents any of the hardcore truths of Life to come shining through.

On the other hand, in the early 21st Century, a renewed interest has been seen in the astrological styles and disciplines of the Old World, perhaps chief among them being Vedic astrology of ancient (and to a large extent, modern) India; and I note with particular interest, that many of its adherents tend to be male. Many of the postulates and theories of Jyotish rub right up against those "pillars" of modern Western astrological thought that have been thus for at least a half century, if not more - and with Vedic astrology's interest growing substantially in the West (along with more traditional forms of Western astrology, such as Horary and Medieval) it will be most interesting to see how the American polity - clearly a Red State majority - will respond. In the meantime, within the American astrology community itself, the challenge is clear - will it allow for all points of view to be heard, debated, hashed out? Or will the soft censorship of the Left - seen astrologically so clearly in the symbolisms of Venus and Jupiter - prevail?

Time, as always, will Tell (and note that Time is ruled by Saturn - so there IS hope!)...



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