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Hogarth judge

November 2018



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In praise of astrology

Astrology was the best psychology the ancient world had, and as such it probably works as well or better than contemporary versions.

As a diagnostic and descriptive tool it was at least as powerful as any contemporary system. Its elements map well into them. Mars is an aggressive, "alpha" type; Saturn represents clinical depression, and so forth. The adjectives like "jovial" and "saturnine" carry forth the metaphors of astrology because they still work.

Its great fallacy --- that it was linked to astronomy, and pretended to read the stars --- is not as big a weakness as you might guess. Its saving grace was busy complexity. Everybody has a Mars, a Jupiter, and a Moon. Everybody has a first house and a seventh house and all the rest. Everybody has a sun sign, a rising sign, a moon sign, and a sign at the midheaven. If you know what you are trying to describe using the system, it's easy to pick out the obviously relevant factors and analyse them closely. If they aren't obvious features in the horoscope, or others seem to overwhelm them, dig deeper. There's enough out there, you'll find a way to describe what you are thinking within the system. It fails utterly at predicting the unknown, because the stars don't work that way. But as a language for describing known people, it works as well as any more positivistic approaches have put together.

The interpretation of astrological charts is like looking at Rorschach blots, which in turn is like reading tarot cards, which in turn is like taking a Myers-Briggs test, which is like using DSM-IV-TR. What they do is to give you a symbol set, or a language, in which you frame the human behavioral and mental traits you are trying to describe.


Our mother, as you know, was an excellent astrologer. She could tell you how it really works.
Indeed she was. I just did one of my Wikipedia article saves, on <url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/stars_in_astrology>stars in astrology, which was what got me thinking about it.