On a recent trip to the Caribbean, and while staying on the beautiful island of Nevis, I learned that Alexander Hamilton was born there – a surprise to me and perhaps to many people. So we had to visit his birthplace and the museum there. Coincidentally, upon our return to the U.S., Public television was showing a documentary film on the Broadway musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He in turn was inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton, first published April 26, 2004.
The musical Hamilton had its World premiere on Jan. 20, 2015 at the Public Theater, New York City and its Broadway debut on Aug. 6, 2015. Hamilton’s biographer Ron Chernow served as historical consultant to the production, which is breaking all previous box office records for advance ticket sales and winning numerous and distinguished prizes for its creators and actors. The show is historic both for its commercial and artistic success and unusual for its use of hip-hop and rap format featuring a black and Latino cast. Public Theater’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis even compares Miranda’s work to that of William Shakespeare:
We live in the cusp of our World’s arrow of time. This is the time, where our world as we knew it changed. And it keeps changing into another, unfamiliar, energetic, faster pace, connected, yet disconnected, scarier for some, an unpredictable and even uncontrollable time. Some religious people consider these “the end times”. The Mayan calendar pointed to 2012 as the end of the World. I always interpreted this as the “end of the world as we have known it”. The Harmonic Convergence in 1987 also pointed to these times as meaningful. Many today fear how the November 8th election results will bring about a change of our Nation’s destiny.
The seeds of future events are carried
within ourselves. They are implicit in us
and unfold according to the laws of
their own nature.
-- Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet: Cleo
-- Increasing numbers of people now are using astrology to better understand themselves and their relationships, their place in the world, their deep inner self and their ancestral legacy through family dynamics. Typically, a client does want to maximize their potential and realize their goals, but most importantly, they want to know what is going to happen to them and when.
There is still no coherent answer to the ages-old inquiry into how astrology 'works' – after a long, slow, deep evolution of my own work, this wonder has “cooked” in my mind but never caused me much alarm, since I know it works, and that is what matters. On a purely intellectual level, there are some reasonable conjectures I have about how it works. It works like any integral system with a core focus and surrounding satellites.
Thus, as we have become more conscious and aware of nature and her systems, like fractals, mathematical sequences, deep cellular patterns and so forth, it slowly began to come to me that astrology is in the ‘unified theory’ search. That it is, in itself, a nuclear system, predicated on interaction, relativity and integration of a whole-system. The solar system is obviously connected with earth and its harmony or discord, and being on earth, the system is ‘personalized’ by our consciousness. The use of astrology in any form, in any genre, is always predicated not on duality, but on integrity of all systems in the work.
The solar system and its movements is an ideal metaphor for the ever-changing interactions among people, as well as the constant mediation of inner experiences and psyche/consciousness integration.
If I can have a relationship with another person, why can't a planet have a relationship with another planet? If Gaia is an organic entity, then why not Mars or Saturn? People form systems of small collectives, constellating around an idea, a family, a cause, a person -- always in motion, always in flux. Similarly planets are also constellating around a focus -- the Sun. (Focus in the Latin means “hearth fire”). So, our family of planets circles around and focuses on its hearth. All the planets, too, are in constant motion, changing their relationships relative to some fixed point -- such as the backdrop of fixed stars (as seen from our Earth perspective) or the zodiac -- and to each other.
The word 'horoscope' comes from the Greek horoskopos, - 'looking at the hour'. To divine or predict an outcome requires a beginning, an origin, a series of cycles within it, as well as a history. Ancient astrology had such an origin concept, which still prevails: the katarche.
Katarche is a Greek word that, loosely translated, means an auspicious moment or a beginning. It is from the origin of anything that its behavior and outcome can be predicted. Every second is a new beginning, and inherent in that beginning, that origin or birth, is its pattern of maturity and fruition.
A horoscope is a fixed frame of spatial and temporal experience. It is a starting-point from which a systematic and predictable set of planetary movements can be plotted. For example, if a planet is at 1 degree Leo, we know it will be at 2 degrees Leo at a specific time in the future. If it is the moon's motion we are considering, it would be at 2 degrees Leo in a couple of hours; if the Sun, in the next 24 hours; if Mars, then in a few days; if Jupiter, in about 10 days; and so on.
We can also predict when the planet will return to the same point in the future. The moon will return to the same point every 27-1/2 days; Mars, every two years and two months; Jupiter, every 12 years and one month; and so on out to the furthest known planet, Pluto, which returns to the same zodiacal degree every 245 years! On the other hand, since each planet has its own unique return period, the odds of two or more planets repeating an exact pattern are not great. Moreover the vast number of variables in this intricate planetary system means that the entire pattern in the sky never repeats itself exactly.
Our planetary system is embedded in the global and individual psyche, in the brain as receptors, in the world brain as an archetypal experience. Compartmentalizing the psyche, we can speak of the unconscious, the shadow, the imagination, the anger function, Eros, archetypes, and so on. Just as the solar system as a whole never, ever presents the same pattern twice, no individual returns to the same point exactly again in his or her own life. Things are familiar, but never the same. The components remain the same, but their arrangement is infinitely changing.
In this essay I want to demonstrate how the traditional system of essential dignites can be used to add quite a bit of detail and nuance to the interpretation of a chart.
Traditional astrology uses five different essential dignities. There are the major dignities, rulership and exaltation, and their corresponding debilities, detriment and fall. Modern astrology still has these dignities, although they are often not widely recognized or used.
In addition, there are three minor dignities, named triplicity, term and face. Each has a different meaning and different level of control.
For our example, I want to look at the chart of Clara Barton. She is most famous as the founder of the American Red Cross, and did extensive work in field hospitals during the Civil War. In addition to that, Clara Barton also did extensive work in public education, and also became a major spokesperson for the women's suffrage movement.