So the world didn’t end, neither with a bang nor a whimper. The sun came up and illuminated the world just like it had for the 26,000 years before. December 21st 2012 wasn’t about the end of the world, although that’s how it became told in the popular press; it was about the end of the Mayan Long-Count Calendar. An era came to an end, not the world.
The Mayans were strong on astronomy. Astronomy and astrology have long been intricately linked. Not in the science orientated academia houses of the industrial west, but in the more subtle cultures of the east. Especially India. Both astronomy and astrology consider the heavenly bodies, whereas, in general, astronomy considers the dynamics and qualities of the entities outside of the earth’s atmosphere, astrology studies the affects of those bodies here on earth. Especially the affect on us, the earth’s human bodies.
What can we learn of ourselves?
Often as a human being we are surrounded by uncertainty and lack of meaning. Our lives map an arc that can be seen as a search for that meaning, leading us if we are lucky for a seat among the wisdom of the elders. In order to aid us in this search, and to help interpret the findings, we are aided by tools. Astrology is one such tool.
From Myers-Briggs to studies of the work of Jung and Freud we look for help to understand some of the more complicated or unexplained behaviour of the human species. The science of psychology, and the newer developing sciences like behavioural economics that have their roots in other disciplines but end up teaching us much about our own behaviours. Often how unexpected the teachings are. So too with much that is as yet unproven.
So what can we learn from the stars?
Anybody who has been to a beach, or a fishing village, cannot fail to notice the oceanic detritus left by the high tides. The oceans are almost three quarters of the earth’s surface but this huge body of mass is still affected by the gravitational pull of the tiny heavenly body 240,000 miles away, the moon. A human being is primarily the chemical consistency of water, so logic would have it that we too are subject to the gravitational pull of the moon. The word lunatic would account for this. So what about an affect from the planets? The orbit of Saturn around the sun is 29.5 years, maybe it has a cosmic affect on us when it returns to its position of our birth almost thirty years later. This is known as the Saturn Return, and is thought to have significant impact astrologically.
To some degree astrology can show us a snapshot of our current state. As with all tools it takes time and skill to use with any degree of productive outcome, but even a rudimentary knowledge of what astrology is trying to achieve for our own understanding of ourselves has to be a good thing. However well it can allow us to view inside ourselves and show us who we are, it doesn’t necessarily show us who we might want to be.
Helping others is an excellent way of helping ourselves. Sympathy is an understanding of another’s context or pain, empathy an understanding of the other person’s emotional make up that underlies that context or pain. However strong the empathy we have for another though, it is still an internal emotion. Integral to ourselves. Empathy doesn’t, per se, help the other person. It does give us the vision, the understanding but it isn’t the tool that enables us to take action. What then is that tool?
Sympathy, empathy and compassion
If empathy is the emotion that is needed as a stepping stone, what is it that we can use rationally, as well as emotionally? Rational understanding of another’s position comes from external observations like an understanding of fairness and justice. An understanding of significance. The significance of the other person to themselves which is often a reflection of their feeling of significance to their own contexts and surroundings. The tool for this understanding is compassion. Com: with; passion: well, many current meanings, but originally related to “patient”. The greatest of virtues.
Here we come full circle. Astrology helps us understand ourselves, if we allow it to. Our own emotions, especially empathy, helps us understand others and compassion allows us to take action to help others. How do we close the circle? Use these same tools to help further fix ourselves. How? Compassion, again. Compassion turned back in on ourselves. Prone to anger, fear, loss, low self esteem? Fear of failure, or indeed fear of success? The process starts with self-understanding and ends in self compassion. All things inside us are fixable, they must be because the damage was usually ‘learned’ in the first place.
Not uncommon around the world is a full solar eclipse. The last in the UK was 1999 , causing darkness at almost-noon. It is said that astronomers two thousand years ago could calculate and predict the eclipse at that latitude at that time. Perhaps the Mayans could too. The weathermen, however, couldn’t predict whether there would be too much cloud cover to see it two days before. Not all the answers to the total solution is discernable through science. Astrology, like science, is a tool, a tool to greater understanding.