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On the shoulders of giants

It has been said that we each stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. I know this to be true in my own life, and I know from my studies at Kepler College that it is also true in the field of astrology. Over the twelve months, I have read a great deal about Ptolemy. And while I still don’t understand everything he said or did, I am amazed at what he and the ancients accomplished without modern technology. I am also amazed by the great scientific minds that continued to evolve the ancient science of astrology forward by not only building upon the previous generation’s foundation but also by expanding it.

I have often wondered what Ptolemy would think of today’s modern astrology. In my mind’s eye, I can see him sitting at a computer, eyes glazed over, watching as the wanderers, plus three, dance across the screen http://www.solarsystemscope.com/. I imagine that he would probably wonder why the planets were dancing around the Sun and not the Earth. Of course, then he would also have to deal with their speed. Time and motion are viewed differently now thanks to Kepler and Galileo. What would Ptolemy think of this new astrology—one that does not require the astrologer to ever look at the night sky: one that views the movement of the wanderers through highly-accurate ephemerides and high-tech computerized astrolabe-type programs. 

Would he be excited to learn about Maginus’ Secondary Progressions and Kepler’s “Day for a Year System”—and what about Galileo’s telescope and Kepler’s answer to Mars’ eccentric orbit? Did he have any idea that there were three more wanderers out in that dark night sky that he watched so carefully? Would he be proud to know that his measurements helped tie so much of what we now know of Solar Arc Directions and Secondary Progressions together? Would he be shocked at how accurate our systems of mapping the wanderers’ transits and progressions have become?

What would he think of Midpoints, Solstice Points, and Parallels of Declination? Would he pull out his trusty, yet ancient, tools and try to map them out while watching the night sky? Or would he be so enamored of our new technology that he would call Microsoft and order up a few on-line classes. Would he dig his heels in continue to work with the ancient predictive astrology with which he was so familiar, or would he take a walk on the wild side and check out some of the newer games in town like Uranian Astrology or maybe even Cosmobiology.

While I would like to think that he would congratulate us for the progress we have made, I have to believe his praise would be tempered by a warning not to lose touch with the beautiful reality that is the night sky. For in truth, the wanderers are not just glyphs attached to signs ensconced in houses on a computerized screen or a multi-colored printout. They are real energies with real power.

Only time will tell how much further the field of astrology will progress. As technology advances, so will astrology’s accuracy. New planets, asteroids, and planetoids will be discovered. New, more accurate methods of tracking transits will be developed. As in the past, technology will be used to move astrology forward, and I believe this is a good thing. However, the question in my mind is not what we will gain through the use of this technology, but what we will lose if we do not also take the time to read the night sky like the ancients once did. As above, so below; as within, so without: the wanderers call to us to come and sit with them for awhile. The question is will we heed the call.