AA Conferences 1973 & 1974 - reviews
Astrology in Today's Society
The 1973 Conference at the University of Surrey
by Pam Bennett D.F.AstroLS.
Under a culmination of Venus and Uranus at 2h17 pm UT on September 7th began the fourth annual Conference of the Astrological Association - a congress that will be remembered for its uncertainties and delays, and the underlying, pervasive atmosphere of near-crisis. The '71 Conference left one almost euphorically uplifted, '72 convened on an energetically intellectual level; but Guildford, itself uneasily new. still partly in scaffolding, brought the Astrological world face to face with its own imminent change.
That so many changes in the Association should be followed by a change in the Conference venue was perhaps inevitable. It was time to break from tradition in a manner appropriate to the launching of Astrology in Today's Society. Many of us found our environment perplexing. Like the town itself, the University had grown up on a maze of levels within a constricted space, in which one easily lost one's bearings, lacking horizons. We felt we were in a People Factory. We were housed in identically furnished blocks - comfortable, with bright rooms, but so scaled down that even the shower-head made no allowance for height over 5' 4". Porters were slow to appear to assist those of our visitors hot and fatigued after sleepless flights; service in the kitchens was reluctant as the 200 of us queued endlessly through the meal breaks that at Cambridge had offered us so much scope for discussion and relaxation. As a symbol of Today's Society, it presented a dismal picture. Over our heads, a congress of Physicists stared at us between lectures; elsewhere, a group of Psychiatrists was closeted in session. Mind and Matter scarcely met: and here we were, too, faced with the urgent need to re-unite the complex and compelling technical potentials of the emerging 20th-century Astrology with the fundamental values out of which the most significant of the World's faiths and philosophies have grown.
I think everyone at Guildford recognised this need; but there were definable differences of attitude. Enthusiasm was running high for the technical facilities available. Bob Fortescue's team in the Computer Building had been giving invaluable help for a good part of the week to Rique Pottenger and Peter Bloomberg, in providing a splendid group of chart analysis programs for Midpoints, Synastry, and for the research team harmonic charts, for which we sincerely thank them. Almost everybody at the Conference took advantage of this, proving it to be a very worth-while project. And as JOHN ADDEY pointed out in his opening address, the Lecture Theatre provided everything we could possibly need - broad sweeps of blackboard, projection screens, microphones, a sophisticated epidiascope, steeply-tiered seating, good acoustics (not to mention the ubiquitous little 12-pointed royal-blue foil ashtrays, which I felt to be rather appropriate . . !) - appreciated very much by those who wished to see Astrology progress from now onward in a more scientific context of advanced thought and technique. However, John's welcome to the assembly laid great stress on the need at this time of transition to hold firmly to those ideals that ennoble and beautify Life, which, if pursued together, might come to regenerate the world; we have an important part to play.
This necessity was stressed time and again by one after the other of Friday's speakers; it was felt keenly that we must root our discipline firmly in the spiritual ethic implied in its original principles, since, as ADA PHILLIPS remarked, “as a teenage Society, we cannot do anything but grow!” The theme was taken up by JOAN RODGERS as first speaker at the meeting. Relating the movements of the Outer Planets through the Signs to the Zeitgeist, she condemned that risk of acceptance of the destructive and ugly that breeds complacency, attacking the mechanical approach, the technological toying that separates Mankind from spiritual awareness, and the Astrologer from the Divinity of Astrology.
It was the REV. ALUN VIRGIN'S task, then, to trace the relationship through the past centuries of Astrology to the Christian Church. He said what one hears very few men of the Church admitting - that there should be the possibility of reconciliation between those views which have been long held by men of stature and integrity, since One Truth can have only One Source, and when all is said and done, meaning purpose, and the destiny of man have ever been the concern of both Astrology and the Church. In fact, conflict had rarely led to all-out attack by either side despite frequent schisms that divided entire societies; and surely co-operation could again be possible in bridging for mankind the apparent gulf between the Subjective and the Objective world through the understanding and use of Symbolism. The real danger lay, according to Aquinas, in the limitations of an unspiritual Astrology, void of faith and inspiration.
It was hard work for JOEL MELTZ to bring us together into the experience of spiritual unity; had we been able to form a circle as we did on his previous visit, 1 think we might have done him greater justice, but as it was, there was some of the embarrassment one finds in a theatre audience called on to participate, and only at the very end did the held chord begin to bind our voices and our common being into something near transpersonal. Some people couldn't grasp quite what it was he and we were trying to achieve, and some were unable to hold a note, with the best will in the world—but the joint effort was rewarding and for some of us strengthening and healing.
This was an appropriate prelude to the 4th Charles Carter Memorial Lecture, given by our newly-elected President, CHARLES HARVEY, in the evening after dinner. Just as Joel's aim was to create a Unity, so Charles' theme was the recognition of Wholes within hierarchies. At the present time, man sees only the apparent chaos around him, while observers on a higher level would perceive the complexities of our situation as an organised structure, as a whole. Emergent now, he saw a new mankind, who, looking upwards and back to his Source instead of forever downwards, would come to a reappreciation of Ethics and Philosophy and so raise his conscious awareness that the former chaos would appear at least as a comprehensible order, a whole seen from a new level in the hierarchy of evolving Being. This positive attitude was well received by the delegates, who seemed so far inclined to reject anything smacking of the negative, regressive, or pessimistic. Nevertheless, the atmosphere became tense during the ensuing discussion on the role Astrology was to play in achieving this ideal state of affairs. Arguments arose as to the rights of the individual to withhold his birth data as a matter of personal privacy. Free access to such records has apparently been banned in Switzerland. With Astrology being more and more widely investigated and practised, by all manner of people qualified and unqualified, trustworthy or otherwise, the invasion of privacy was becoming a real risk, and the prospect of subtle manipulation by a new breed of cosmic cyberneticians a threatening nightmare. Counter to this argument, should we not be capable of freely opening our souls to our fellow-men? There was a sense of deadlock; it was Joel who got to his feet and tried to rouse us to the urgency of the situation - and urgent it is: Charles had confronted us with a pressing moral dilemma, which few among us felt capable of resolving. How were we, even in our growing numbers, to protect the “Divine Science” from callous exploitation? How, in giving the truths of Astrology to the modern world, to instil at the same time the necessary scale of values, and the integrity to abide by them?
Saturday saw us in a more objective frame of mind. After breakfast, Prof. MICHEL GAUQUELIN gave a very thorough exposition of his statistical research results, hindered only by the failure of 20th Century technology to provide him with a humble light
switch! ... a somewhat frantic hunt by several organisers resulted in what appeared to be an embarrassing excess of such switches, providing a perplexing choice! All went well thereafter, and Prof. Gauquelin's visit proved most rewarding.
Suitably, the following session in Theatre D was a meeting of the Association Research Section to discuss the use of the Computer in Astrology. ] had already made a brief acquaintance with ‘ICL1905F’ through a window on Friday, and had been quite won over by his voice as he muttered soothingly over his work, so was feeling favourably disposed at a purely personal level; and indeed there were many excellent suggestions for programs that could be devised for the swift analysis of large bodies of data. The main point under discussion, however, was PETER BLOOMBERG'S ingenious system for evaluating the ‘Interactive Factor’ between the charts of connected people. His assigned planetary values were somewhat arbitrary, and open to further modification, as the system was still in its infancy, but it could prove a useful tool in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of interpersonal ties. With skill and perseverance Charles gently stemmed the incipient flow of objections, and ZIP DOBYNS was able to give us a run-down of the work being done in the States using usually ignored aspects of 7½º, 18°, 11¼º and 22½°.
Across the corridor, the alternative study group was being treated to UDO RUDOLF'S talk on the Hamburg School of Astrology, and the Witte Planets. It was a pity that half of us had to miss this; there was some controversy as to whether these bodies were supposed to be material objects, or concentrations of energy at sensitive points that moved through space - and maybe they were the midpoints of the known Outer Planets. An enormous yellow ephemeris lay on the bookstall, for those who would test their validity further.
From Mundane to Consulting Room
There were so many ideas to try out, that some newcomers were almost overwhelmed. On Saturday afternoon it was the turn of our Guest of Honour, RONALD C. DAVISON, to speak on Mundane Astrology, with emphasis on Geodetic Degrees. Eastward and Westward from the Greenwich Meridian each degree of geographical longitude corresponds to its equivalent in the Ecliptic. Too complex to go into here, the mundane correlations he had found were fascinating.
Coming even closer to home, Dr. ZIPPORAH DOBYNS then brought us right back into the consulting room. This we sorely needed. It is curiously rare for a meeting of astrologers to get down to the concrete details of case-history, despite enthusiastic tea-break data-swapping, unless an isolated case of special interest is up for review; we will talk for hours on end about theory, but by comparison considerably less about its clinical application. That it came as a refreshing surprise to be presented with actual examples pointed this rather clearly. Dr. Dobyns' accounts were most helpful to the counselling astrologer; and she gave us some very interesting examples of the working of the Vertex and the Asteroids in cases she had handled in her work as a clinical psychologist. For those who would further share her experience, she has “The Astrologer's Case-Book” coming out in the Autumn.
The Conference theme might well have been “To Be, or Not To Be . . .?,” for after confronting the unavoidabilities of the Vertex, it was BALDUR EBERTIN, a most welcome guest, who brought us round yet again to the subject of Fate versus Freewill - which dogs every ethical and philosophical discussion of our discipline, and upon which we must jointly formulate some sort of coherent opinion if we are not to confuse and trouble those whom we would clarify. Baldur reminded us of Seneca's remark that “Fate is rarely a hindrance to the wise man.” His suggestion was that what we construe as “Fate” might be a prenatal choice, or an ancestral recurrence of vocation - the “selective integration of ancestral structures into a new Individual by the 'I'”. This is a concept that challenges Astrology to re-examine its attitudes not only to determinism but to the philosophy of reincarnation, and the evolution of the mind/spirit. It was a stimulating lecture.
30° Dials and Dinner
As our researches grow in complexity, the question of accuracy in chart erection is receiving more and more justified attention, and systems of rectification are being widely examined. Accordingly EDITH WANGEMANN'S two-part demonstration of the use of the 30° dial was a valuable contribution to the available techniques, besides arguing much in favour of the Koch Birthplace House Cusp system, which seems to produce strikingly consistent results. The realisation also that certain separations tend to have either a Mercury or Venus quality, and can be of significance in diagnosis, may prove a key to further important insights in harmonic research.
Dinner divided the two sessions; after the speeches from our Guests of Honour, Dennis Elwell and Ronald Davison, there was a moving moment when Ada Phillips arose to present our recent President, John Addey, with the gift of an electronic calculator to speed his Harmonics Research. Her tribute to John's work and influence on the entire Astrological community spoke for all of us assembled there; for everywhere John has travelled he has been welcomed with respect and love.
Sunday - as perhaps befitting the final day of the Conference - looked mainly to the future.
It was hard to have to choose between the two morning lecturers - IRENE CHRISTENSEN'S report on the work of her Copenhagen school clashed with a rather important session with JOEL MELTZ, who had brought Eugen Jonas' latest and most affirmative results on the
Astrology of conception out of Czechoslovakia. Controversy arose after he had outlined and expanded on the results to date, over the possibility of sex predetermination through chemical interference - the provision of an acid- or alkali-biassed environment for the fertile cell; there seemed here to be an inconsistency. One moment non-interference was demanded, and adhesion to the natural laws as we are beginning to understand them, and the next moment the indulgence of parental whim was being advocated, through material intervention, unnaturally. 1 am not sure that we can afford to hold such an ambiguous attitude; we may thereby become identified in the popular mind with the very people whom we condemn for their abuses of natal information, and may lay ourselves more open to corruption by social manipulators. We will find ourselves continually faced with crises of integrity such as Joel's respecting the publication of the Jonas results, and must therefore weigh our responsibilities very carefully and scrupulously. Only then will we be capable of going into the heart of the ‘enemy camp’ in order to guard and supervise the exposition and use of Astrological knowledge, as he felt he would have to do.
Irene Christensen runs a flourishing school with 100 pupils and produces a monthly magazine Horoskopbladet Sijernerne (Horoscope Star Magazine). Her talk was dramatically illustrated with events from her life to date and concerned a method of rectification based upon Heinrich Kundig’s prognoses. It assumes a knowledge of the birth time within half an hour and is related to the position of the MC. A comprehensive description of this method is given in a new publication by Irene which will be available early in 1974.
Three study groups followed the coffee break - JACQUES HALBRONN on the Astrology of Morin de Villefranche, who was one of the earliest practitioners to banish superstition from the field and think clearly of the significance of semi-sextile and quincunx aspects in the chart, DR. CHANDRA THAKKUR on the little-explored subject of Electional Astrology, and JOHN ADDEY on Harmonics research. Without doubt this promises to be one of the richest sources of fresh understanding as Man evolves to new subtleties of consciousness. This, approached on a sound statistical basis, may prove sufficiently acceptable as a bridge between our discipline and the Sciences, and if so must also at some point introduce into the scientific orthodoxy a long-avoided acknowledgment of Meaning.
“In case we'd lost sight of it,” DENIS ELWELL reminded us in the afternoon of the theme of the Conference - Astrology in Today's Society. This society insists on Astrology proving itself as a predictive technique, while asking fundamental questions as to the nature of the Universe we inhabit, and our purpose here. In order to seek out our answers a synthesis was necessary of a multiplicity of significant interpretative and predictive techniques; public proofs of Astrology's efficacy demanded an “optimum predictive situation”. Society needed a specific statement from the Astrologer; without that there was as much uncertainty as before. The thoroughness of Dennis Elwell's approach to this challenge is impressive, his breadth of view an inspiration, and his ideas gave us a lot to think about.
After tea and the Study Group reports, AL MORRISON, in a somewhat pensive frame of mind, gave us his ‘Gestalt’ of the Conference. He was disappointed, since nothing fresh seemed to have emerged this year; there were no ‘goodies’ to hand round at next year's gatherings in the States. Through the tensions and the controversy, he said, “I daresay we made some progress here”, but it was not enough. Time was getting short. Already, Stateside, the scientists were perilously close to breakthrough - not only in their own fields but in their unobtrusive investigation of the astrological phenomenon, and it was evident that physicists couldn't understand what they were looking at until they adopted metaphysical approaches. Therefore, we must soon plunge in, with them, into this enormous task of reappraisal. Somehow, before the cataclysm overwhelmed us. we must find out how to get into the structure of Society as a working part of it. We must know each other, trust each other, in order to work together. The newly-formed Congress of Astrological Organisations, with its 3.000 members drawn from every corner of the Astrological field, was an attempt to make this kind of progress. Patterns now repeating were similar to those of the Renaissance, when attitudes, morals, understanding, perspective all underwent radical change; and the full truth, spoken in jest, was the Morality Play of our time. The appearance of Comet Kohoutek, 10,000 years or more after its last visit, brings to mind parallels between our present critical situation and that held to have prevailed in the last days of Atlantis.
On this note of urgency and uneasy challenge we left Guildford. The London train stopped inexplicably for several minutes beside the University as a huge red Sun dropped slowly down between the buildings to vanish behind the hill. The Sixth House received it out of the Seventh; our meeting was over - now it was time for work.
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A Personal View of the Brighton Conference
By Pam Bennett, D.F.Astrol.S
“Sussex University,” said the brochure, “ is placed in a delightful pastoral situation on the South Downs and promises to provide an ideal setting for study and the exchange of ideas.” With a close Sun-Jupiter opposition stimulating the Ascendant of the Conference opening, in the third and ninth houses, it could hardly fail to be a most enjoyable meeting of minds; as soon as the delegates started to arrive, one could sense the growing atmosphere of goodwill - a relief to us all after the background tensions of the Guildford meeting last year. Few, if any, of our visitors seemed to be identified with any of the current political schisms in the astrological world; rather, there was a return to that sense of unified purpose which had graced earlier Conferences.
Not that the elements did not do their utmost to dampen our spirits and blow our minds! . . . many of us arrived in pelting rain, and the fine trees that sheltered the campus walks afforded less and less protection as tempestuous air snatched away branches and tore at the leaves. This lack of hospitality in the Sussex weather was amply compensated for by the welcome from our Patron, John Addey. Foregoing the usual opening address, he spoke briefly about the Association's role before handing over to the first speaker of the weekend.
Levels and Archetypes
Patrick Harding explained at the outset that the material of his lecture was likely to prove controversial; after years of experience and research, continually re-examining the astrological principles in the light of psychology, he had formed his own views on the most difficult part of the discipline - interpretation - that he suspected would not please many people. His prime attack was on the unquestioning acceptance on the part of the majority of astrologers, of maxims that merely the passage of centuries and habitual use had hallowed. He appeared to feel himself virtually alone in any determined enquiry
into the reasons lying behind the valid working of Astrology - though I am sure there are those who would assure him otherwise. He examined the concepts of the Conscious and the Unconscious, with their constantly shifting frontier; their manifestations of quantification and qualification, the attitudes of the scientist and the artist, the complementary use of technique and judgment - insisting on the creativity of polarities and the need so to orient oneself consciously in the world of outer and inner facts that these two essential levels of being are held in balance to their mutual enrichment.
Astrology as a scientific art and an artistic science manifested meaning through symbols according to a complex theory of correspondences. Divination demanding the significant co-operation of Conscious and Unconscious, was a means by which the ego might raise the level of its conscious awarenesss to greater heights, focussed in a centre of space-time girdled by the eternity of its first birth, “the Worm Ourobouros.” In dealing with profound and fundamental concepts, astrologers should be wary of pinning too much importance on such phenomena as mid-points, unstable and ephemeral in significance. The Tropical Zodiac had lost relevance for him as the Constellations spoke more clearly. While accepting that others may indeed argue, my own opinion is that there is no real controversy in these views. It may be that for those immediately concerned (for whatever reasons) with the world we inhabit, and the daily problems it presents, the intimate Tropical framework provides the more valid answers to their questions and their researches: but for those who have become identified with the supra-mundane to a significant degree, perhaps the clearest meaning is embodied in the stellar matrix. It may be to this that we all eventually aspire . . . and even beyond.
The Scientific Study of Karma
It was a day for pushing out the limits of our understanding of Astrology's implications; Robert Powell, speaking for the first time to an Association Conference, introduced the subject of Karma - again with reference to the Sidereal Zodiac - emphasising the significance of Precession. The Vernal Point, moving in its almost 26,000-year cycle against the stars, measures the evolution of our cultures, while “imprinting the Cosmic Memory of historical events on the constellations.” At the personal level, the leaving and re-entering of life was marked by similar conditions; the study of the patterns of the death moment would indicate the time of return. However, it seemed that the relationships between the patterns at conception, birth and death might be disrupted by such medical interferences as induced birth, or Caesarian section. In order to investigate this possibility, data was needed for a detailed research project. This gave rise to an interested debate: granted that there was increasing interference in childbirth at times solely for the convenience of doctors reluctant to miss meals and interrupt their sleep yet the cosmic patterns attendant on unnatural births appeared to suit the event - and also to describe the nature both of the child thus brought into the world and its relationship with its mother. I recently heard of a doctor who would remark, “Every baby knows its birthday.” Surely the unnatural births, and the unusual children, can also be understood as part of a pattern of purpose for the human race? There may not be much news in a “normal” sky!
The Karmic theme was pursued further the following day in the morning Study Group, defining the difference between the tropical and sidereal zodiacs, and examining the lives of two famous and remarkable men, the artist Raphael and the poet Novalis. With an increasingly strong case being made for reincarnation by practitioners of hypnotic regression and researchers into spontaneous recall, this is an area of our discipline that is worthy of closer investigation.
The 16 Divisions in Hindu Astrology
Thus pushed out among the constellations, we were well prepared for Dr. Chandrasekhar Thakkur on Sunday morning. “Learned listeners and friends,” he said, “I have travelled thousands of miles and I am before you here today to give you in a nutshell a glimpse into the secrets of the occidental ancient Hindu Astrology and I am sure that at the end of this talk you will not regret having listened to it.” The nutshell could scarcely contain the wealth of material he had to offer us! Happily, he had printed copies of his lecture, so that we might digest at leisure the details of the Shodasvargas - in effect a series of harmonic charts - subdivisions of the Signs themselves down to the Shashtiamsa of ½° (equivalent to the two minutes of time it would take an infant to complete its birth process, and therefore the limit of subdivision), the 27 asterisms, the numerological correlations, and the use of these techniques in the necessary rectification of a chart. There was a lot to take in ... yet if astrologers are to learn from one another, and our discipline - like any individual - is to work towards its own highest fulfilment, then Mind must continue exploring itself, “I'm glad that the difficulty of the mike has brought West and East near!” remarked Dr. Thakkur, shortly after he had begun and later, “He is considered wise who takes the good from this and the good from that and makes a synthesis and in this context the theory of harmonics strengthens the theory of Shad Sapta Dasa and Shodas Vargas.”
Harmonics and research had been the subject of an important talk by John Addey after the evening meal on Friday during which he reviewed the latest results from Michel Gauquelin, and how he himself had subjected the data to further analysis through harmonics. Since the matter of his lecture has now appeared in the pages of the Journal, I need not go into detail, but reiterate what appeared to be the emerging theme of this Conference - namely that the business of Astrology seems now to be an intensive re-examination of fundamental principles at both the psychological and symbolic levels right back to the point where they intimately combine in the significance of Number.
The Study of Cosmic Twins
Guy Le Clerq's contribution to astrological research has been in the interesting field of Cosmic Twins. For our examination on Sunday he had brought from Brussels an impressive array of graphs and tables illustrating the frequencies of birth of authors and consistencies in natal pattern; even more intriguing was his account of the close similarity of the names or pseudonyms acquired or adopted by those authors born on the same day. (Has anybody investigated the Astrology of Names? . . . ). He had some photographic evidence, too, of facial likenesses. (Wouldn't the advocates of genetic engineering have to take the Cosmos somewhat more fully into account?)
The Synastry of Couples and Family Groups
Because, inevitably, one had to choose between study groups for this particular session on Sunday morning, I was obliged to miss both Dr. Baldur Ebertin's talk on the use and interpretation of the annual diagram, and what seems to have been one of the most popular meetings of the Conference, when Liz Greene spoke on the synastry of couples and family groups. I did, however, speak to someone who attended the lecture and made a mental note that I should try and hear the tape recording and get a copy of the hand-out. The lecture covered the essence of Jung's teaching in relation to synastry, dealing with the four functions and the important feature of projection, particularly. From this introduction a number of example charts were discussed, illustrating various points including the importance of mutual aspects involving Saturn. I understand that Liz has a book coming out on the subject of Saturn, with particular reference to chart comparison - this should please not only the enthusiastic audience that squeezed into the lecture room, but also students of Astrology everywhere.
The Birth Chart and Individual Development
Baldur Ebertin had already delivered a long and detailed lecture the previous day on the subject of the birth chart and individual development. His case-history was exhaustive. There is no doubt, as has been demonstrated on numerous occasions that the system of analysis developed by the Ebertin school is very effective in assessing the individual's relationship to the inner and outer events which contribute to his growth or precipitate his downfall; it is the world of events, of challenge and reply, of action and reaction, that probably the majority of men and women inhabit. Compared to the measured subtleties of spiritual maturation, at personal or transpersonal levels far removed from the business of material existence, all this is as ephemeral and unstable as, earlier, Patrick Harding suggested . . . yet because we are here after all, testing ourselves against such events in order to grow, as children do in the adventure playground, such an approach can only further our understanding of life's structures and enable us to build on them more surely.
The Use of the Koch House System
The logical extension of this German system is that advocated by Edith Wangemann; using the Koch GOH house cusps, the 90° dial is used as a supplement to a 30° dial - wherebv not one of the traditional aspects may be overlooked. Use of this technique has also pinpointed the need to take smaller sub-divisions into serious account in personality assessment, particularly the 15° and 7½° aspects and their multiples, respectively indications of the physical and the mental orientations of the native. It was with deep regret that we learned from Mrs. Wangemann of the passing of her husband earlier in the year, leaving her to carry on alone the fine work they had for so long shared; it is very much to be hoped that she will continue to find all the support she needs and deserves among her many friends in the astrological world. That Saturday morning we were introduced to the man of whom she spoke with such great affection, and much that we learned with her came from the study of the cosmic circumstances which called him away.
The use of precise cusps, and accuracy in rectification, are important factors in the techniques of the Kosmobiosophische Gesellschaft of which Edith Wangemann is President; so it was with interest that we looked forward to Chester Kemp's talk after lunch on the last day. Known to be a stickler for precision, he should have something valid to say about the whole business of house systems, among other things equally pertinent to his chosen subject, rectification. In fact he now opts for the “Topocentric” system, which he explains briefly in the set of notes that accompanied the lecture. Apparently the resultant cusps vary only a little from the Placidean, but yield more accurate data . . . yet this is an argument put forward by any advocate of any of umpteen methods of house-division! One can only conclude (a) that all systems are valid for differing philosophical reasons: (b) that to each astrologer there is a house system that suits his or her individual approach, just as he or she is drawn to the clients that he/she can best assist; or (c) that the whole business is a huge joke, enjoyed by the Cosmos at our expense! On the verge of Lune-acy, one is tempted to abandon the notion of houses altogether . . . but they work. The field of methods used for rectification was well-covered and interesting; the only sore point during the meeting was a somewhat one-sided argument against the system published by a visiting astrologer. Apparently this difference had been discussed before the lecture and was not unexpected, but it generated a certain amount of embarrassment in the audience, and could, I feel, have been handled more diplomatically.
The Planetary Nodes in Analysis
The exposition of techniques in clinical application is the forte of another familiar and welcome visitor, Dr. Zipporah Dobyns. With a book freshly out on her researches into the geocentric planetary nodes (complete with tables), it was appropriate that she should focus her lecture in this area. For lack hitherto of ephemerides of these nodes, little is yet known about their effects, so interest was immediate. And again the theme of the weekend re-emerged; we were drawn back to the fundamentals of universal understanding, to the concept of the significance of Number. The immediately personal meaning of One-ness would be found embodied in the first house of the natus, the first Sign, Aries, the ruling planet Mars, and the geocentric nodes of this planet. Similarly, the concepts of structure, of power, of universal laws and limits associated with the tenth house and the tenth Sign Capricorn were also combined in the significance of Saturn, the nodes of Saturn, and in the character of Ten. Through the final, total strength of one or two numbers in an individual chart, much might be learned of the fundamental nature of the personality and its focal conflicts; the key factors would be found repeated over and over again.
Is There a Solar Chart?
Much emphasis was to be placed on accuracy by subsequent speakers; but after the Saturday lunch, Dennis Elwell broached a no less crucial subject - what do you do if the birth-time is unknown? . . . Is there a Solar chart? The arguments he put up in favour of the popularly used “whole Sign” method were reasonable; he had found this extremely consistent, after failing to get significant results from Sunrise charts with Placidus or Campanus cusps. He took this opportunity to insist that we as astrologers “... stop apologising for the journalists in our midst” and get rid of Upper- and Lower-class Astrology. Inasmuch as there is a general emotionalism in the discipline over the differences in the astrological image projected by the “popular” and the “academic” members, he is quite right; there must be room for all types of Astrology and astrologer if Astrology is to retain and increase its vitality, like any mixed language or society; it must not die of circumscription. But I am sure Mr. Elwell would agree that there remains a real distinction between adequate and inadequate Astrology; and while we may on occasion have to make do with the latter - for example in a Solar chart, however skilfully interpreted - its inadequacy must be acknowledged, if not a matter for apology. There will always be upper and lower classes where the criterion is quality, together with integrity.
It might be worth considering a Solar chart less in terms of the individual, more in terms of the role he will be asked to fill on the world stage. Since the examples given by Mr. Elwell were of prominent people, this might explain why the Solar chart so accurately described their lives and achievements; no mere moment, but the day itself being dignified by such a birth; the individual epitomising the most that such a day could offer Man.
A suggested theme for the Conference had been “The Practice of Astrology,” and this consideration underlay most of the talks and discussions over the weekend. Two items in the programme contrasted with this theme; one was Jacques Halbronn's excellent examination of the 12 Tribes of Israel in terms of astrological symbolism, and the other was The Game.
The 12 Tribes of Israel Astrologically Considered
Jacques Halbronn not only presented a relationship between the 12 Tribes and the Zodiac but showed a correspondence between the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the Signs, elements and planets. He spoke of the evolution and transformation of the Zodiac and was of the opinion that Sagittarius and Virgo no longer had their traditional meanings and would be better represented by the Boar and the Dove. Because of this change of Zodiacal meaning he did not think that the original correlation between planets and letters of the Hebrew alphabet could now be considered correct. He also especially elaborated on the symbolism of the four Fixed Signs as referred to in Ezekiel and in the Sphinx correlating them with the Labours of Hercules and insisting that the main point was that they were only incarnating the four elements.
You are the Zodiac
To compare it with Hermann Hesse's “Glass Bead Game “ I felt was going a bit too far; granted that Astrology probably comes nearer than many other comprehensive disciplines in approximating to what Hesse had in mind - but this Game simply consists in arranging your group around the Zodiac in their respective Sun-signs, rising signs, or whatever, and getting a dialogue going between its members and a focal individual who has elected to occupy the Centre of the Universe. There is obvious potential inherent in this game especially when you are teaching the basics of Astrology to students at college, as Mr. Harris is; but on the two occasions when the Association have played it, somehow it hasn't quite come off. Partly perhaps because the Cosmic Dialogue was never quite left to follow its own course, and the interplanetary spaces seemed somewhat contested by their voluntary Centre and the Magister Ludi. Eventually a satisfying arrangement was found when Mr. Harris volunteered to sit in the middle himself. I think we all quite enjoyed it.
The Supper Dance
The centre of the stage was unexpectedly taken in a quite different and remarkable way after the Buffet Supper, by Alexander Ruperti, the Swiss astrologer; he danced. It is not everybody who can create a spontaneous, highly personal ballet out of the interaction between a random song and the pattern of his being, fewer still who can become so concentrated in the dance that all consciousness of self before an audience appears to vanish. The whole evening was a success: Sussex University had laid on the most glorious spread on two big tables adjacent to the bar. With a floral centrepiece, and dishes of savouries, salads, cake, cheeses and fresh fruit so covering the table that scarcely an inch of cloth could be seen, the supper was generous to the point of opulence! There always seemed to be more wine; the Conference relaxed and chatted and laughed and nobody made a speech or was hindered from moving freely among friends and fresh acquaintances. We'd gone back to fundamentals! . . .
I think I can say everybody bar none thoroughly enjoyed this Conference. The food was good, the staff friendly, the amenities on campus excellent, the overall organisation superior to that of previous years, including a very well-mounted exhibition and comprehensive notes to accompany most of the lectures. There was space, and with the lack of jostling a feeling of more free time in which to meet each other and talk. The lack of formality put everyone at their ease. The astrologers of different countries found themselves ready and willing to work together as never before. Dare I suggest that the future of Astrology is beginning to Brighton! ? . . .
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