We say "astrology" as if it were one unified entity, but of course it is not. How many house systems are there? Do we use asteroids or not? What about Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto? - many traditionalists prefer to ignore them. Meanwhile, Uranian astrologers use hypothetical planets that no one has ever seen - Poseidon, Zeus and so on - and swear by them. I hear they get good results too. As an evolutionary astrologer, much of what I say revolves around the south node of the Moon - but most commercial astrology programs do not even show its position unless you ask them to.
Even more fundamentally, is astrology about the stars or the seasons? To a Vedic astrologer, the sign Aries and the constellation Aries are the same thing - but not to a western "Tropical" astrologer, where Aries starts with the northern Vernal Equinox, which has actually drifted back into Pisces over the centuries.
To put it charitably, astrology is a "big tent." To put it more pointedly, the many different branches of astrology contradict each other in fundamental ways. Inevitably, this reality leads to the question of which form of astrology is "the right one" - and there begins a slippery slope.
"Nice" astrologers tend to take a tolerant, supportive attitude toward each other, while the "mean" ones spend a lot of time either attacking other systems directly, or doing so indirectly by saying "my astrology is best."
I mentioned Uranian astrology a moment ago. I know very little about it, so I had to Google it in order to get my references to "Poseidon" and "Zeus" right. The first website to which my Google Search brought me opened with the words, "The Uranian system of astrology is really our most advanced and evolved system of astrology to date."
I really aspire to being one of those "nice" astrologers, but obviously the person who wrote those words has it all wrong - anyone can see that MY style of astrology is actually "the most advanced and evolved system of astrology to date." I am laughing of course - and please laugh too. But, in truth, I have never met an astrologer who knowingly practiced the "second best" kind of astrology he or she had ever found.
Bottom line, the contemporary world of astrology is a chaos of diversity. We are like the biblical "Tower of Babel," with many, mutually-incomprehensible languages spoken all at once. It is like riding a subway in New York City. The situation has grown much more complex over the last few decades, as more systems and styles have emerged and grown popular. When I was a young astrologer, we all at least had enough language in common that we could argue with each other. Nowadays, as I listen to a Hellenist or a Vedic astrologer, I often honestly feel as if I am trying to follow a conversation in Bantu. I just don't know their words - and they would be just as confused as me were I to ask for their views on the karmic implications of Pluto transiting through a quincunx to a Leo south node in the (Placidus!) eighth house.
All of this brings me to the point of this newsletter. About twenty years ago, a young man of means in New York City decided to test the branches of astrology's tree, and see which ones broke and which ones were strong enough to stand.