A lot of the time when we look at astrology, we are looking at a moment in time and place, caught in a chart that we can “read”, with its planets, points, angles, aspects, signs and houses. Often we are also looking at a person in the chart, and indeed modern astrology became strongly (though not exclusively) focussed on psychology and psychologizing, and upon being person centred during the 20th century, which saw a renaissance in the art. These were all fruitful, useful and interesting developments, but they do invite the hazard of turning astrology into a form of novel writing, a narrative all about a “me” in a sense, even if it sometimes gets balanced out with a bit of esoteric doctrine (there’s no cold shower quite like an Alice Bailey cold shower). The “person-centred” does have the inherent glamour of being the focus of attention, of being told all about yourself. It can be quite irresistible. Back when people thought that astrology really was a science (and it isn’t in any modern sense), it was looking for harder stuff, because life was too hard for too much mirror gazing, even for the Kings and Queens that used it.
I’m glad it is no longer considered a science, and that we have recognized the importance of subjectivities, and of individual meaning, but a great deal of our life deals with stuff that we are not the centre of. Neptune may indeed be mystical illumination and compassion, but the lowest common denominator is deception, drugs and drowning. Obviously the most important thing for a person is how to deal with whatever is there, which as much as ever involves stepping out of the way, and finding a way to follow your own path regardless. It also involves learning and growing. And actually astrology really can give people a language with which to understand themselves and their deeper natures. I really do consider it to be an invaluable tool in that sense.
When we move away from the “point in time” approach to astrology, towards the “sky in motion” view, we get different impressions and options. As soon as we get into motion we enter into an exploration of time, and lose the aspect of space, as place in astrology is defined by the houses and angles, which disappear into flux when we move through time. Space is the first thing to vanish, because it moves the fastest from our point of view. We don’t have the conscious intelligence to deal with space and time simultaneously in astrology. We can stop time, or eliminate space. But that is only the beginning,
As we move through time, we can move at different speeds, and the planets will fly around us; tortoises, hares, mosquitoes, rivers imperceptibly changing courses, according to the scale we chose. For this reason, as I am looking at periods of time in motion, I will focus on comparable time scales, to tell me what the actors are doing. No point talking about Mercury retrograde, or Moon in Libra, when you want to get an idea of continental drift.
So when I am looking at the passage of the Sun through a sign, I’m not going to focus on the Moon, because during that period of time the Moon will make every conceivable aspect with every point of the zodiac. It’s not that the Moon isn’t important, or that it won’t make relatively unique patterns with the planets and points in the chart in relation to each other (and it’s true that the latter is lost with this approach, so it doesn’t do everything), but if you want to see the colouration of that solar month, the motion in the month in context, painted in broad strokes, it does a job. Similarly, if an aspect is a constant backdrop for decades (such as the Neptune-Pluto sextile has been), it may be at the wrong time frequency for what you are interested in, so try cutting it out (but check that it is as constant as you think). If you’re trying to discern the melody, the bass drone can be discounted for the moment. Basically, you can’t do everything all the time, and still get specific or more specialized information.
Another example is where I am looking at the passage of Saturn through Sagittarius which has just started in earnest. Saturn takes about two and a half years to pass through a sign, so in looking at the movement during that time, I’ll try discounting the Sun and Moon, Mercury and Venus. Mars takes about two years to go round the zodiac, so it’s getting close to registering in a coherent way, so I will look at the patterns both with and without Mars. Mars is seriously underestimated, and I’m interested in looking into how much of a trigger and bridge it could act as. Again, the other personal planets are clearly of immense importance to us, but just as Neptune-Pluto could be a bass drone in a monthly picture, anything moving faster than Mars is starting to sound more and more like white noise and scratches, the further out and slower you get (which we have to speed up in order to really see).
As we get deeper and slower, the personal stuff only registers if we stop time, and pin the map of the moment to the wall. And that doesn’t quite tell us what is actually happening in motion, in time, in all its layers. You can’t study everything at once, you cannot experiment that way, and when we look at celestial movement we are really also exploring cycles of time far beyond the human.
That’s why some astrology cannot be person centred, any more than the world or the Universe is. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use it. Sometimes the bottom line is the information that you actually need to know. And sometimes what you need to know is how to get around the world, and do what you want anyway.
Because if you’re not writing your script, who is?