PROLOGUE - 5
Astrology and History
Astrology is essentially the study of the structuring power of cyclic time over existential events. It is the study of those cycles for the measuring of which the periodical motions of celestial bodies offer us a complex but effectual type of "clock." Astrology is a method based on the assumption, generalized from the most obvious facts of human experience, that every existential process has a beginning and an end, and passes in between these two events through a series of recognizable and measurable phases or critical points of transformation.
If all cosmic, planetary, biological and psychological processes are inherently "cyclic" as they unfold in time, they can theoretically be approached as "wholes" having a definite and measurable structure of growth. If we can isolate these wholes and study their internal specific time-structure, we can gain a knowledge of their schedule of development; and if we are looking at a particular phase of this development occurring today we can surmise what the coming phases will be in terms of the structural character of the whole we are observing. We can at least time approximately the next turning point and the rate of the process. We do this, however, not in terms of particular events, but in terms of the structure of the whole processes. We are considering the entire cycle; ours is a "holistic" approach.
Let us take an example: If a biologist studies a ten year old girl and tries to tell what she will be in five years, he knows that she will have then passed through the crisis of puberty — a very basic bio-psychological crisis of growth. He knows this, because he knows how the structural pattern of the life-process of a human female operates. He has before his mind the whole structural development of a woman from birth to death; his approach is holistic.
By contrast, if a modern type of facts-cataloguing historian from some other planet who is entirely unacquainted with the structural development of a woman's organism were to try to picture what the girl will be at age 15 merely from studying the sequence of events in her life from age seven to ten, he would have no reliable way of making such a picture. The "historical" events of the girl's life from seven to ten may be plotted on a curve, but extrapolating the characteristics of this curve into the future at age 15 would be a rather useless operation; it would not be able to foresee the effect of puberty on the girl's total person. It could not predict puberty; because puberty as such is not to be adequately foreseeable by an intellect which has no understanding of the whole life of a human being from birth to death. Puberty is a structural change inherent in the entire process of existence which we call a human being. Around it an immense variety of events can take place — some happy, others quite destructive. Back of these events — the tapestry of life — stands the structural change which gives direction and purpose to these events and from which a meaning can be abstracted.
if we look at a human life as a series of physical and psychological happenings flowing into each other, all we can actually observe is a continuous series of changes, of challenges and responses, of relationships formed then vanishing, of pleasures and sufferings. We take the position taken by a modern novelist describing in great details a day or year in the life of a person, but never really relating this limited sequence of events to the person as a complete whole having a beginning and an end, a fundamental "individuality" and a purpose (however broad and unconscious or superconscious this purpose may be) — that is, in the philosophical sense of the term, a "destiny." But can we really understand any organized system of functional activities if we do not study it as a whole, not only in space — for instance, a body which we see and touch — but also in time, that is, in terms of the whole cycle of its existence?
I can make in early spring a motion picture of one week in the life of an apple tree; but can the exact description of what is taking place in the tree — the flower, the appearance of small buds — help me to understand the meaning and function of that apple tree in a garden? Can the movie tell me about the fruit and the seed — the apple which, at least in a human sense, is the purpose and "destiny" of that tree? I can describe a day in the life of Richard Wagner, as he is fleeing from Germany in 1848 because involved in the revolutionary movement. Can this description make me understand Wagner's genius, his Tetralogy and the meaning of Bayreuth in the culture of Western Europe?
Likewise can we truly understand the many historically recorded events which occurred in Europe during the eighteenth century if we do not consider them as one particular phase of the development of an identifiable whole which we call Europe, or our present European civilization. This civilization, as Arnold Toynbee should have made it clear for any perceptive and "holistic" mind, is a definable, and as well a structured process. You can see it emerging from the disintegration of a preceding Mediterranean civilization. It has grown through specific phases of growth, according to a sequence which parallels the sequence identifiable in other civilizations. But the parallelism is structural, not existential; it does not refer to the exact repetition of events.
If we limit the area to which the field of history belongs to the mere collecting of data and the analysis of documents, then the claim that human Societies (or civilizations) constitute wholes with an identifiable over-all pattern of growth, maturation and disintegration is outside of this field of historical research. But if one defines "history" in such a manner, one has to find a new term to characterize a new discipline of thought which deals with the evolution of mankind as-a-whole — and with the growth and decay of the various units of social-cultural organizations, the most recent of which Toynbee defined as "civilizations."
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1969 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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