The primary tool an astrologer uses is the natal or birth chart which is literally a stylized map of the solar system as seen from the particular place and time of a person’s birth. It has several features; the planets, the zodiac signs, the houses, and the aspects or angles of relationship between the planets. More imaginatively however, it is an image of psyche or soul, a mapping of the topography of our inner landscape. As a map it can be used for purposes of orientation, helping us fathom where we are in life, sounding out our centers, and getting our bearings. We can imagine life as a turning wheel of dynamic process with the nascent springtime of our youth, the summer fruition of our efforts, our inevitable fall and decline and finally, our demise into winter’s inactivity and dormancy.
The birth chart provides a framework for imagining a profound intimacy between ourselves and our world. We hear this deep intimacy echoed in the words of early Church Father, Origen who wrote, “Know that you are another world in miniature and have in you Sun and Moon and even stars.”
But for our charts to say anything to us, astrology must of necessity hinge on the fantasy that our world is a living being capable of speaking to those who have the ears to hear and the eyes to see. Historically we find this in the Old Testament in psalm 19….
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.”
What is this psalm but a faith statement about the world’s capacity to speak, to communicate with us, whether it’s the birds singing their message, the wind in the trees, the clouds on the horizon conveying the weather, the days becoming shorter, or the dance of the planets, the world affords us the opportunity to understand our situations. The world discloses itself to us and also reveals us to ourselves.
Emerson once wrote…
“The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?... Every man’s condition is a solution in hieroglyphic to those inquiries he would put.”
This “solution in hieroglyphic” sounds very much like the image of our birth map. If the universe is sacred as many traditions hold, then astrology is a form of living, sacred text.
There is no Muslim moon or Catholic sun, no Buddhist season or sign, the heavens do not play favorites. The sky is all inclusive, it speaks to everyone. It’s the perfect container for a global spirituality for it is something under which we all gather and share in common. So it would seem that the astrology chart is a hieroglyph; a sacred symbol reflective of the sky. It is a world infused with sacredness.
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