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the observer
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observed pt 2

the observer
observed pt 3

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Vilanova 1998






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home    consultations    courses    ideas    irish astrology        Bill Sheeran

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The Observer Observed part 3, page 1

There are two main themes running through this series of essays. One of them concerns issues arising when the astrologer is seen as a major contributor to the construction of an astrologically based story, as is the case with forms of judicial astrology. The other main theme concerns the astrology of nations, and questions whether the idea of a single foundational horoscope for a nation state by itself is particularly useful for understanding that country's social and political dynamics. I have chosen to use as subject matter the question of Irish national statehood, with myself as the interpreting astrologer who constructs a story by working with a set of symbols and chosen tools in relation to that context. Such a construction has a value in so far as it illuminates the dynamics of an evolving historical picture, both retrospectively and also in terms of the present and future. This astrological perspective is considered to add something to the overall understanding, supplementing insights drawn from other disciplines.

Astrology stretches from symbolic forms such as horary to virtually physical forms such as astro-meteorology. These two poles of a spectrum contain between them the full range astrology's field. Each location in the spectrum where a branch of astrology lies will be characterized by a particular blend of the symbolic and the physical. This blend to some extent selects for a certain general stylistic approach on the part of the astrologer. It is in the middle ground of the astrology spectrum that the creative contribution of the astrologer's consciousness is crucially brought into play. For here, the astrologer is unbridled from the strict rules of horary. He or she is also free from the detached observer status that ideally holds for, say, astro-meteorology.

And therein lie [astrology's] main constraints as well as its freedom. Each astrologer has a preferred set of tools, a philosophical perspective and cultural bias which contributes to the development of a style which is highly subjective. The creative dialogue between psyche and symbol is a very personal thing. Hence two astrologers considering the same time and place data, though using two different sets of tools, can arrive at equally useful and even overlapping insights. Similarly, two astrologers using exactly the same set of tools can derive very different insights, both contributing something positive to the overall understanding of the issue in question.

Bearing this in mind, the following paragraphs describe some of the elements that contribute to my own style. They help to make sense of the picture which I have developed regarding Irish national charts as well as general thoughts on mundane astrology triggered by the astrological data presented in Part 2 of this series.

My Tools
My tool kit for mundane astrology work is fairly basic. In selecting it from the available range of techniques, I am taking on constraints in the same way an artist does when choosing a colour palette. This naturally influences the nature of the picture I produce.

I use the tropical zodiac with the Sun, Moon, eight conventional planets and the lunar nodes as my root symbol system. I down play the importance of houses and their cusps, but pay a lot of attention to the Ascendant and Midheaven for accurately timed events, and will note the quadrant positions of planets and their relationship to the Angles. I use midpoints selectively to supplement the basic palette, as they make sense to me, and experience tells me they have explanatory power. For dynamic work I use transits and progressions. Even though long time frames are often used in mundane work, I don't use precession corrections. And that's about it.

My Philosophical Filters
There are some key factors in my world-view which influence my approach to astrology. First of all I am conscious of the fact that I don't understand what I am doing - I don't know the 'how' of astrology. Thus, as far as I am concerned, the definitive rule book has not and cannot have been written, which unleashes my creativity. On the other hand, I do not ignore tradition or the historical experience of other astrologers.

I attach a lot of significance to interpretation as a subjective act. I believe non-rational mental faculties are in play. When I am engaged with a horoscope's symbolism there is, for want of a better term, an element of divination involved. In other words, there is an 'occult' dialogue between symbols and psyche - the symbol patterns speak to me. This runs in parallel with a more literal recognition of a symbol's meaning, originally based on book learning but subsequently confirmed by experience. In other words, I wouldn't argue with Saturn as a symbol of limits, but would allow non-rational faculties to guide me in the direction of its local meaning. At the same time, I also use reason and common sense when interpreting patterns.

For me, astrologically revealed potential percolates through the worldly context. In doing so, a modulation occurs which ultimately determines the manifest form which that potential takes. The specific meaning of a symbol or pattern is not given in the horoscope. Thus, understanding the context well is a prerequisite for making useful statements, no matter how one approaches the interpretation of symbols. I see life as highly complex, open, evolving, and hard to predict in specific terms. Life is not clockwork.

My Cultural Bias
I am a European, and my education emphasized reason, materialism and the freedom of the individual. I am not a fatalist. My Irish soul has me attuned to imagination, which I see as equally valuable as reason. For me, reason goes to work on what has first been imagined. Perceived truths, though often constructed using reason, are ultimately rooted in the imagination. Einstein's formula E=MC2 did not start out its life on a blackboard. I believe that inspiration occurs through non-rational faculties, so I have learned to try to both recognize and assimilate the fruits of their activity, despite the reluctance voiced by my conditioned rationality.

The Heart of the Matter
At the heart of the astrological picture under discussion is a for a lunar eclipse which occurred on October 12th 1791. For me it represents a root horoscope for the story of Irish republican nationalism. It was I who chose this chart, not the imperatives of astrological tradition. The use I make of it is idiosyncratic. It was a combination of curiosity and non-rational intuition or perhaps inspiration which led me to focus on this eclipse chart. I can't justify this easily, other than to say that the chart 'spoke very loudly to me'. I believe that the divinatory aspect of astrology was in play here. The eclipse occurred two days earlier than the actual 'birth event'. Historically, the emergence of the aspiration towards an independent Irish Republic is associated with a vote held at a meeting between political activists on October 14th 1791.

In Part 2 of this series I tabulated events of major significance to the story of Irish republicanism and correlated them with transits and progressions to that lunar eclipse chart from 1798 to the present year. I focused attention especially on the eclipse axis and its pattern of aspects from other planets, as well as the Angles and the midpoint between the Ascendant and Midheaven. If you look back at the results, you will see how my use of this lunar eclipse chart is justified by conventional astrological standards. The correlations are striking. To be honest, it is true that fairly adequate correlations would come from using a horoscope for October 14th. This is because a key pattern is the close opposition between Pluto and a Mars Uranus conjunction, which holds in charts for both days. This is an explosive combination. However, the repetitive involvement of the Angles, the AS/MC midpoint and eclipse axis itself during transits and progressions for crucial events is fairly extraordinary in my opinion. And these would not be present in a horoscope for the 14th.

The Act of Union 1801
An example of the usefulness of this eclipse horoscope is given by the transits active when the (which gave birth to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) came into force at midnight on January 1st 1801. Saturn was located at 23Le22r, sitting on the eclipse chart Ascendant at 22Le32. Whatever parliamentary power Ireland had at the time was removed with this Act, and from thence forward she was ruled from Westminster. This was obviously a major blow to the republican independence cause. The impact of a constraining and weighty authority coincident with a political union is clearly consistent with the Saturn transit to the Ascendant.

Uranus (1Li 54) was square the eclipse horoscope's AS/MC (1Ca21). Here we can see the signature of disruption, or, as Ebertin's The Combination of Stellar Influences (COSI) puts it "the spoiling of plans". Neptune at 18Sc44 was square the 'explosive' Mars/Uranus/Pluto pattern lying between 18-20 Leo Aquarius. One would not expect much clarity or potency during this signature for the diffusion of revolutionary energy, but instead a lot of confusion and perhaps disillusionment.

The Act of Union came after a failed and very bloody republican insurrection in 1798, and was made necessary by both the continuing Irish unrest and the fact that England was fearful of an invasion by the French through the 'backdoor' of Ireland. Irish revolutionaries of the time made close alliances with republican France, and received military help from them.

Copyright: (2001) - Bill Sheeran     | next |