Monday, November 11, 2013

What the Ancients Wanted to Say

About the word cryptic; Webster's Dictionary includes both Old Norse hreysi-heap of stones, and Lithuanian krauti-to pile up, with the more familiar Greek kryptein-to hide, as origins for the word crypt. I like 'heap of stones' because it echoes the image of the tip of an iceberg showing above water, an apt way of illustrating the depth of meaning tucked within each letter of these older languages.

Without extensive understanding of the relationships between the signs and planets, astrology is still a very beautiful language; but the real treasure is in the network of connections which are not immediately apparent. It is nice to know that the circle with the dot in the middle is the symbol for the Sun and that Venus is the circle with the cross underneath; but to see in the symbol for Venus the relationship between the sun and existence on Earth, which is what the cross stands for- the point of intersection, a specific location in time and space, a limited experience in physical existence; to see in Venus not just the goddess of beauty, but a philosophical construct about the nature of life on a planet in a solar system with other planets, gives a firmer grasp of the knowledge outlined in the language. To also know the cycle of Venus brings even more understanding; for instance to know that the cycle of Venus mirrors the period of human gestation, to know Venus is never visible for more than a small fraction of the night right after sunset or before sunrise; to know how much time Venus spends retrograde, how often it is lined up with other planets and in what order it moves from one to the next; and to be able to compare that with the cycles of the other planets, gives a deeper understanding yet of the 'meaning' behind the symbol of the circle over the cross.

In Spanish the expression for 'meaning' is 'wants to say.' That really bothered me when I first started speaking Spanish among my new friends. There must be some word for 'mean' as in "what does this word mean?"

"Wants to say." Now I appreciate that expression. It is perfect for describing the purpose of astrology. To seek an understanding of what astrology means is to search the language for what the people who devised it were trying to say. To study astrology is to study what the ancients 'wanted to say.'

They wanted to say so much more than the Sun conjunct Mars spells trouble with a capital T. They wanted to say life is not nearly as chaotic and ruled by chance as it may seem, that observation of the universe out there, beyond life in these beastly bodies, actually helps make sense of our beastly behaviors.

It is all there in this old language. Start with the rock on the top of the pile, maybe it is a planet, maybe it is a marker for a section of the ecliptic that has been given a poetic mascot for its name, such as Capricorn the Goat for when we are rotated to the highest point in the cycle of Earth's rotation on its tilted axis, or Cancer the Crab when we are at the lowest point, under the Earth, looking up at the plane of planetary orbits. Every symbol is just a poetic way of talking about the mechanics of Earth's motions in the celestial sphere. Don't let the sign posted in the heap of rocks
distract you from the whole story of what the ancients wanted to say.