& a Review of the First Phase Conclave: by Robin Armstrong
Over the Summer we met as a group three times. In July we decided to spend our session studying 06° Scorpio the degree of the Zodiac in which Jupiter resided when it was hit by the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 between July 16 and 22, 1994. This was the first time we had something to watch in advance and it allowed us to review all of the degree systems we have studied to date. This was a stimulating evening, the results of which we will be sharing with you in a special article included in this volume of News By Degrees (V2 # 1). It seemed appropriate to do something different, so we decided not to do another murderer as it was getting a little depressing and negative. We may throw other murders at you later but for now we will try to get situations and horoscopes that are more inspiring.
We continued to work with Isidore Kozminsky’s “Zodiacal Symbology”. Her symbolism continues to get good responses. Her system has some mathematical or possibly quaballistic associations.
Elsbeth and Reinhold Ebertin’s body parts for each degree is not getting rave reviews. Many felt that the physical associations were not there. In some cases there was some loose connections that could be acceptable, but the over riding impression was that these were danger symbols. They could easily generate fear and wrong conclusions. Unfortunately there is no work available describing how these degrees were obtained. They do take the part of the body that each sign of the Zodiac rules and break it up into thirty pieces or body parts. We did try to see if we had health problems to correspond, but we did not look to evaluate more complicated positive associations through astrological natal factors, such as afflicted aspects. We will keep our eyes (10° Aries) open on these degrees in the future and see if anything else evolves. Right now the general concern is the blatant medical misinterpretation that could evolve from using Ebertin’s degree meanings.
Our newest degree system is that of Franz Bardon, from his book “The Practice of Magical Evocation” which was printed in Germany in 1970 by publisher Dieter Ruggeberg, Wuppertal, West Germany. This is a fascinating system in that it has been developed in a radically different manner than the ones we have already studied. In many systems (Leo, Sepharial, Muir, and others) an esoteric teaching or bias is obvious. This system is no different except that it uses a different teaching to express degrees of meaning. Bardon’s system is based on Ritualistic and Quaballistic Magic. A spirit is invoked for each degree and it has told the magician/author what it can teach anyone who invokes it. There is a magical name, a magical seal, and a special gift that the spirit of each degree will have. They consider each spirit to be living within the Zone-girdling-the-Earth. Each spirit is considered to be a ‘A Head of Intelligence” with certain powers and insights. As with other esoteric systems, these meanings are probably more relevant to practitioners and followers. However it is refreshing to find another new process, especially since it was done for magicians more than for, or by, astrologers. It does tie in to an ancient mystical path filled with historical traditions and rich symbolism. Astrologically these symbols seem a little weak at times and need a wide interpretation, but often personal significance can be found.
Dario DiMeo (Vice President) and myself (Robin – Pres.) went down to the First Phase Conclave (astrological conference), in West Virginia this August. It was run by Ellen Black, Robert Hand, Robert Schmidt, and Robert Zollar. They are the founders and workers of Project Hindsight which is involved with the translation of old Greek, Latin, and Arabic texts on astrology. It was thanks to their work that we obtained the material on Paulus Alexandrinus and his Monomoiria or planetary degree rulers. We have been studying and using these degree meanings for almost one year now. We were hoping for more! There were many insights at the conference but unfortunately little to no work on degree symbolism. The main emphasis was to make the basic principles of Greek, Arabic, and Medieval astrology more accessible and familiar. There also seemed to be a strong emphasis on establishing the academic validity of the works. It was a fairly studious session and it was held in one windowless, lecture room. There were about 100 people sitting in the session with a 3 or 4 person panel up front. Unfortunately this format made discussion and asking questions relatively frustrating and at times impossible. Nonetheless there was significant information being disseminated, much of which can be obtained by studying the Project Hindsight publications. The food at Hindsight headquarters was great. Ellen Black did a magnificent job of getting things done and also making time for unexpected demands and requests for which I share some blame. It was difficult people wise because the rooms did not have phones and we had to meet at classes or meals rather than at our convenience. Every day I gained a valuable insight that I might have missed without attending, and for which I will have to spend many fascinating hours validating.
The people who attended were a big part of the positive side of this conference. Many significant discussions evolved over lunch at Cafe Hindsight and continued throughout the afternoon. I met Dale O’Brien who has worked extensively on the Sabian Symbols. To my pleasant surprise, Mark Douglas who has been a long time supporter of our library was there. There were many people there who were interested in degree meanings and especially of the I Ching degree associations. They have since been sent their natal I Ching degree symbols. Hopefully we get some new feedback from them.
Each day of the conference followed a theme based on one letter of the word PHASE.
Day 1 was Philosophy and Astrology. It went back through the works of medieval philosopher/astrologers. Of particular emphasis was the works of Plato and his ideas concerning Logos or word. This got very metaphysical. To me it centred around the Word of God, and words of power. I feel that astrology and the horoscope is the word made flesh, but it seems that much of the magical tradition of words and numbers and magic words or formulas began or at least got a healthy shove forward by the works of Plato and those that followed. This concept of words of power seems to permeate western mysticism
Judaistic, Arabic, and Christian. Perhaps they are all Quaballistically based. Although fascinated by the subject my conclusions differed from what was presented. To me it seemed that the works of Plato sat close to the beginning of a movement away from old religions. Old religions believed that God was life and the planets were divine beings, that sex and women were not unholy but a fabric of the miracle of life! The concept of Logo left me wondering about the distinctions between silence and words. Well I may be rambling but to me it seems that Plato and his era may mark the point at which nature, and femininity began to be separated from God, as well as divine words or Logos. This seems to mark the point in time where pantheistic or old religions began to be put down. This parallels a concern of older religions to be calendrically informed more than ritualistically expedient. Religion as calendar changed to religion as ritual. It may explain where modern thought began to feel that God and spiritual life was detached from nature. My conclusion is that perhaps Plato fouled it all up and initiated a projection into the words of power rather than a perception through the humility inherent in the silence within all things. This time period may mark the beginning of much of the self-righteous prejudice in today’s higher religious and academic establishments. For me, this discussion alone justified my attendance at the conference. One last thought continues to puzzle me, and that is that so much emphasis was placed on Plato’s life, without any consideration for the earlier works of Pythagoras, the pure mathematician. Perhaps Plato simply translated older teachings into a new format based on different beliefs? It is also possible that Plato might have altered or corrupted earlier Pythagorean principles and teachings.
Day 2 was on History and Astrology: however it probably should have been called history and questionable non-astrological parallels. There was a fairly thorough presentation of Medieval, Greek, and Arabic astrologers. This was filled with excellent information and a chronology listing the main astrologers of the time. There were discussions of English, Roman, Greek, and Arabic scholars. Absent in this chronology were references to French and other Medieval astrologers. The afternoon was spent laboriously presenting the works of a man named Fomenko. Fomenko took the ruling periods of kings (Christian kings) over all history and compiled them in a computer. He apparently studied every sequence and possible pattern. He found by statistical and non-astrological means significant parallels in different periods of Christian or Medieval history. These patterns did not follow astrological cycles and they did not occur in the last few centuries, so his work centred on history up to about 1800. What he seemed to conclude is that history was contrived or made to follow parallels, where certain ruler’s periods followed the exact pattern of the beginnings of Christianity. It was presented that western history was made up or fudged for some reason or conspiracy. It was presented that this information would change the nature of western history as studied at university and would keep scholars in doctorate material for a long time. This material was frustrating to follow as there was no astrological correlation nor any data for the last two hundred years However one remarkably astrological idea was presented briefly. For me it was enough to justify the conference once again. This was a reference by Ellen Black to the works of Henry Melville who was written off in his time last century, as a little eccentric.
Henry Melville said that there were two orders of Masonic tradition, one he called Modern and the other he called Mystical. He considered the mystical to contain the correlations to Celestial meanings. He went on to present the idea that there is a mystery regarding how the constellations got their names, and how all religions have their origin in Celestial correspondence. He has written a volume entitled “Veritas, Revelation of Mysteries, Biblical, Historical, and Social by means of the Median and Persian Laws”, published in 1874. In these books he extensively relates biblical symbolism to heavenly maps of constellations and to the Zodiac. The 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 Apostles were codes for the teaching of the 12 Zodiac signs. His work contains Christian Star maps, and what he refers to as 2,400 biblical passages that he was able to interpret or construe celestially. So in short his first premise is that the Bible is some kind of Mystical Masonic Code for Celestial relevance.
Melville goes on to say the Masonic Mystical tradition organized history or as it was often referred to The Record of Memories. He claims it was organized to have Celestial relevance. He presents a formula for translating the chronological dates of Western history into degree positions on specific Celestial maps which included many Christian star groups and symbols. He suggests that Medieval history was organized in this way and not as we assume historical chronology to be. This is remarkable information and quite akin to Masonic logic. It certainly warrants further study!
Ellen Black was obliging enough to get me a copy of Melville’s book before I left the conference. It had too much relevant material to deal with on short notice. In future issues I will follow up on Melville’s thoughts and especially on his formula for converting years into degrees on a celestial map. This marked the end of day 2.
Day 3 was on the applications of Medieval astrology. For me a special technique to determine a predominant planet by counting points for types of accentuation was particularly relevant. (Rulers, exaltations, angularity, faces, etc…. all had a point value which could be totalled.) It is something we can use in our group meetings to find a major focus planet (or Angle) for degree research. There is much to learn from Medieval Astrology, and many techniques were used that are relevant and important to Twentieth Century Astrology, but it is also possible that the astrology of the past may not be as good nor as potentially healing as that of today.
Day 4 was about Astrology and Science and several people presented their research on some of these ancient techniques. Much of this information will be forthcoming in Astrolabe and other computer programs.
Day 5 was about Esotericism and Astrology. Perhaps it would have been better called linguistics and hidden meanings or codes used in language. It presented a Western esoteric tradition with an emphasis on the fact that Western Astrologers have a Western tradition they can rely on and use. There seemed to be a distinct attitude presented that Eastern traditions and Eastern history was not as valid. There were several instances where Eastern traditions were presented in less than an equal lighting. This to me was one of the sad notes of the conference. At a time when the world is fighting over differences of language and religions, Astrology can stand as the integrator of all, as the median or common factor. A renaissance seems to develop whenever information from more than one culture merges, (such as Arabic and Greek, or Greek and Roman). It seems obvious that the astrological merging of traditions would usher in a new renaissance in this Information Age.
We left before the last day’s general discussions. It is understandable that the effort needed to do all of this exceedingly important astrological translation of Medieval material requires some zealousness. However, should it lead to prejudice or exclusiveness, there would be grave injustice. This was an incredibly significant conference, a little tedious at times, but scholastically informative and significantly relevant. Many misconceptions in history, in the development of astrology, and in educational curriculums need to be addressed. Misinterpretations and biased put-downs of astrology are rampant in today’s academic environment. Good information in the world’s libraries and databases will make a significant difference. Let us hope that the post renaissance era of religious censorship and later scientific misinterpretation does not repeat in the new renaissance of the Information Age. Please note that these comments are my own, and were the result of intellectual stimulation provided by the First Phase Conclave. For this I am deeply grateful. I feel that the conference was tremendously useful personally and that it took courage and major effort to pull it off. The conference was taped and the tapes will be available at some time in the future. Congratulations and thanks to Ellen Rob, Rob, and Rob at Project Hindsight.
Kirkland Brooks had 3 tapes of special interviews with each of the 3 Robs at Project Hindsight, about the project and where they saw it going. These tapes contain fascinating ideas, and are pivotal to astrological history. They can be ordered ($7.50 each) from Star Touch, P.O. Box 148250, Chicago, IL 60614. or phone 312-525-8021.
On our return we took a rather long detour, via Michigan, Big Rapids, Matrix, the Heart Center Library and the Universe of Michael Erlewine. It was a lot of travel and we were a little buzzed out, but the trip was well worth the effort. The Heart Center is a very special place filled with Tibetan teachings, meditation rooms, and several places of special calm and contemplation. One building is a residence, one is Michael’s home and office, and another is for meditation. The extensive astrological library has its own building, and the Matrix business with programmers and computers in almost every room occupies another two houses. Along with his astrological programming Michael also has an business compiling data on musical CDs and tapes. It seems he is quite active with both the music of the heavenly spheres and of the humanly inhabited world. Michael was very hospitable and made time for us in his busy schedule. He is powerfully informative and certainly on the leading edge of astrological development on the super information highway. It was reassuring to see what Michael has been able to achieve with hard work, dedication, and a spiritual belief. His work pro vides a livelihood for many people and stands as an example for many others. It was a little intimidating seeing Michael and his empire, but the images that seem to stay with me are of the baby skunk being protected, nurtured and strengthened in Michael’s back yard so that it can survive on its own in the near future, and lastly of Michael reaching down and hand-feeding berries to a baby robin that seemed to have adopted Michael as protector.
The most promising outcome of our visit was the founding of an Astrological Library Association which will compile a database of astrological literature and encourage all astrological libraries to add their listings. This is a significant development of value to all astrologers.
Michael and several people at the Heart Centre and Matrix were interested in the I Ching degree meanings in their charts. Once again we may get some new feedback into our group.
On returning to Toronto, I received a letter from Iain McLaren Owens of Scottsdale, Arizona. lain wrote to us earlier and had sent us a copy of his book “Astro-Cards” with an insert entitled the Day/Degree book in which there is a correspondence between each degree of the Zodiac and one card from a regular deck of cards. He also related a card to each day of the year. We have been meaning to study Iain’s system and report on it, but this last year the Sabian degrees took up much of our time. But rest assured we will tackle the card/degrees soon.
In the present package from Iain was enclosed two more books on the Zodiacal degrees along with some comments about our Journal. One book was by Peter Weber called Zodiac Degrees and was self published in 1987. It is available from Parnell Publishing Company, P.O. Box 16432, Phoenix, AZ 85011.
However, it is Iain’s new book, “Astro-Degree Tables & Zodiacal Data”, that looks really great. It deals with material we are just about to start using. This book is a must for students of degree symbolism. It is quite thorough and filled with much information. This is a book that we will be working with for some time to come. It includes star positions, fixed stars, celestial coordinates, eclipse degrees, tropical and sidereal degrees, special degree meanings, and things like colours for each degree, medical degrees, and much more. This book must be the result of years of research and countless hours of work. I give a hearty applause to Iain McLaren-Owens for a job well done and he says there is more to come. “Astro-Degree Tables and Zodiacal Data” costs $24.00 us and it can be ordered from Iain McLaren-Owens, P.O. Box
12481, Scottsdale, AZ. 85627.