Sunday, September 5, 2010

Which One is the BEST???

In traditional astrology it is not unusual to have variant lists, for example there are many house systems, eg Placidus, Regiomontanus, Porphyry, Campanus, Alcabitius, different lists of terms, eg Ptolemaic, Egyptian, different lists of Mansions, eg Picatrix Bk I, ch 4, and Picatrix Bk IV, ch 9. I am often asked "which is the BEST one?" with the unconscious assumption that there can be only one that is best.

This almost automatic assumption is conditioned by our world view. When science says that cholesterol is deadly, no, a new study says cholesterol is vital for life, no, wait, a new study says cholesterol kills on sight, we seem to roll with that as confusing as it may be, because we have unconsciously accepted scientific objectivism, which holds that there is one, single objective reality out there separate from us and if we eliminate all subjectivity (BAD MONKEY!) we can find the ONE TRUE ANSWER, which we know must exist to all questions.

The typical approach used by contemporary astrologers, both modern and even those trying to be traditional, is to try to be "scientific" and experiment, to test different house systems or lists. One standard method is to look at one's birth chart using different house systems and then decide which one is "most accurate" "Oh, I am definitely more of a Pisces than Aquarius rising!" Of course this is highly subjective, not that I necessarily object to subjectivity, but it is a bit odd to be trying to find "objective" reality that way! Additionally these tests look at an extremely tiny sample, just one's own birth chart is often all that is used, or perhaps a few celebrities or relatives, again suspect from a "scientific" viewpoint.

Finally, the real problem of this sort of testing is one that plagues modern astrology in general. Because modern astrologers are so keen on evolution, progress and individuality, they are constantly inventing new methods, "A NEW TECHNIQUE that REVOLUTIONIZES astrology" It never seems to work for anyone else and eventually stops working for them. We may not necessarily understand why traditional astrologers used a particular technique, but stop using or change and watch your results get more and more inaccurate.

But why are we so intent on finding the "BEST" which must be a single method, good for all time, for everyone. We can look to our modern worldview and objectivist thinking. Since this is our basic modern view of reality, we are therefore confused by the fact that Robert Burns, for example, says, "My love is like a red, red rose" while Shakespeare says, "Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs" Well, which is it? While this is perhaps a bit facetious an answer, here is one a bit closer to the mark, traditionally in Europe white is worn for weddings and is thus a happy color, while in parts of Asia white is associated with funerals and is a negative color. Is white positive or negative?

Where we get confused is classing love and this color symbolism as merely subjective and thus conventional, simply randomly assigned. Or we fall into total relativism, saying that if there is not one single objective reality that all views of reality are equally valid. It seems to me that there is a middle path here, of recognizing that there are a variety of systems, paths and approaches, some better mappings of reality than others, and that we are personally suited to some and not to others. Finding a path with "heart" that is appropriate to you, is our quest.

So, probably the best approach with these variant house systems, Mansion listings, etc., is to follow the shoe size example. My shoe size in the US is 10 in Europe 44. Which is my REAL, CORRECT size? Well if I am buying shoes in Cedar Rapids, 10, in Dusseldorf, 44. If you are using the book I mansion, use them! The book IV mansions, use them! Regiomontanus or Placidus, use either, just pick one and stick with it, don't jump around chart by chart.

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