A Celestial Encounter With Sister Ray
adapted from the original radio broadcast on
WHUS radio in Storrs, Connecticut
What is astrology? How can astrology account for so many different types of people? How old is astrology? What is the relationship between astrology and astronomy? These are some of the questions we will discuss on “A Celestial Encounter With Sister Ray.” To start, Sister Ray, would you define astrology for us?
Astrology is the study of the stars and planets and how they affect human beings and their affairs. Astrology utilizes astronomical observations and measurements of the stars and planets and translates them into symbols. Astrologers read the symbols as barometers of influence affecting human consciousness and experience on earth.
How can astrology account for so many different types of people? What if a person can’t identify with the characteristics of his or her sign?
The “sign” you are talking about is a person’s Sun sign and is only a small part of the equation. Sun sign columns are popular and entertaining. Your Sun sign is the sign of the zodiac occupied by the Sun on the day you were born. There are eight planets in the solar system besides the Earth, not counting the Sun and the Moon (the Sun is a star, and the Moon is a satellite) and possibly Chiron, a dwarf planet between Saturn and Uranus. In addition to the Sun, each heavenly body has a sign. In order to get an accurate picture of an individual, one must take into account the sign of each planet as well as its position and its geometrical relation to the other planets in the chart. Other, more subtle factors may be considered such as retrogradation, planetary dignitaries, hemisphere orientation, confluence of planets, exceptional configurations, etc. No two charts are the same since the planets are constantly moving. Thus, astrology allows for an endless variety of individuals. Even twins have slightly different charts. So, in thoroughly assessing an individual’s character and personality astrologically, there are four major factors to be taken into account: 1. The zodiacal sign of each planet; 2. The house position of each planet; 3. The geometrical angles the planets make to each other, the Sun and the Moon; and 4. The overall “look” and “feel” of the horoscope, especially with respect to the Midheaven, Ascendant, and any other distinguishing characteristics (like a T-Square, Grand Trine, Grand Cross or Yod). As there are twelve signs of the zodiac, there are also twelve houses. A house is a thirty-degree section of the circumference of the Earth. The houses deal with the different departments of life. For example, the first thirty degrees deals with the self, the second thirty degrees deals with money and resources, the third with travel and communications, etc. So, each person has his own unique blend of signs, houses and angles. To read only the characteristics of your sun sign and conclude that you have acquired an accurate and complete astrological analysis of your character and personality would be like assuming mastery of the English language after reading one alphabetical category in the dictionary.
I was under the assumption that there is only one kind of astrology. If popular, or Sun sign astrology is only one example of astrology, what are some of the other kinds?
There are many different types of astrology – Sun-sign, natal, mundane (political), horary (event-oriented), meteorological, medical, and vocational, for example. Sun-sign astrology is the most familiar of all the different types since it gets the most exposure. Sun-sign astrology is the most simplified type because it focuses only on the Sun. Since Sun-sign astrology deals only with the Sun, it can only give a thumbnail sketch of individual character and destiny. For the complete picture, a natal horoscope is constructed for the moment in time and space when a human being enters Earthly existence and draws his or her first breath. In this moment is contained the blueprint of personality and character as well as the destiny, limitations and potential of the individual in question. A natal chart is like a roadmap of the soul. Natal astrology is probably the oldest form of psychology and is the most personalized of all the different types of astrology. It is a voyage in self-discovery.
Horary astrology deals with situations more than with people: It is based on the premise that an astro-chart cast for the moment that a question is asked, or the time a particular crisis or event comes into focus, contains the answer or resolution. Horary astrology is used for timing and to answer simple, mundane questions, among other things.
A fourth type of astrology deals with political events. Mundane astrology, also called judicial or state astrology, is the study of the influence of the planets and stars on national affairs, political trends and changes of government. Astrologers who are interested in history and world affairs will enjoy the study of mundane astrology.
Meteorology is intrinsically related to astrology in that planetary activity affects terrestrial weather. For example, sunspots, created by solar flares, affect the weather on earth by causing increased electrical activity. Sunspot activity interferes with earthly radio and TV broadcasts, as do the positions of the planets. While conducting experiments for RCA, scientist, John Nelson discovered that the position of the planets had a direct effect on radio transmissions. The Moon influences the weather by its effect on the tides, among other things. Jupiter, the planet with the largest mass, in conjunction with the Sun, Moon, or Neptune, is reputed to stimulate seismic activity. Interpreting the effects of the planets on the weather is a form of astrology quite similar to meteorology and weather forecasting. So, there are different branches of astrology, just like there are different branches of medicine.
There are also different systems, or theories, of astrology. Vedic astrology, which is practiced in the sub-continent of India, utilizes the literal zodiac, as opposed to Ptolemaic astrology, which is based on a symbolic, mathematical division of the Zodiac along Earth’s ecliptic, beginning with the Vernal Equinox. Chinese astrology is another widely-used system. Most Western astrologers, including Sister Ray, utilize the Ptolemaic system, but they are all insightful and valid for the study of human beings.
How old is astrology? Could you give an estimate?
With regard to the origins of Astrology: Astrology predates speech. Astrology is as old as the human race and was probably originally used to create calendars. Early man’s survival was dependant on his powers of observation. Early man created astrology from tens of thousands of years of observations of the heavens. After the sun set, and the fires turned to embers when the deep of night set in, the blazing sky full of stars and galaxies was an endless source of fascination for our early ancestors. The canopy of stars was carefully catalogued and studied. This is a time when there was no speech or writing to distract from direct experience of the eternal, so when the necessities of food and shelter were satisfied, early humans had the advantage of total concentration on the higher world displayed above.
In the ancient world, watching the heavens was an integral part of life. Some of mankind’s oldest monuments were built to observe and measure the stars. The pyramids of Egypt are astrological calculators and timers, among other things. The sloping corridors leading from the interior to the façade may have been used as sighting tubes, and possibly astral transport devices back to Orion, the Father, and Sirius, the Mother. The importance placed on celestial activities by early man cannot be underestimated. It is memorialized in monuments all over Western Europe as well as in the Middle and Far East. Perhaps the most impressive of Western monuments is Stonehenge in England. Stonehenge is a gigantic celestial computer-clock of some sort. Time and the calendar were of major importance to the Maya in Pre-Columbian Mexico. The Mayans had two main calendars, one agricultural and one ritualistic. Each was linked to an elaborate astrological system covering every facet of life. The Caracol observatory in Chichen Itza in Mexico is an example of the sophistication of Mayan astrological techniques. There is archaeological evidence all over the world of humanity’s observance of celestial activity.
What is the relationship between astrology and astronomy? What is the difference between the two and are they at all interdependent? Why are astronomy and astrology separate?
Until the “Age of Reason,” there was no distinction between astronomy and astrology. Because we do not consciously perceive most of the astrological forces that influence us, and most have not yet been empirically catalogued under the “scientific method,” the study of the stars was bifurcated into two disciplines, astronomy and astrology. Astrology is all about how the stars influence human beings; astronomy is strictly about measuring, observing and cataloguing the stars. Until the 18th century, astrology was a respected science, the oldest science and repository of humanity’s collected wisdom. People who studied the stars were called astrologers, not astronomers. This includes some of the most famous names in modern Western history: Nicolaus Copernicus, who was also a medical doctor (1473-1543) and introduced the heliocentric theory of the solar system; Michel de Nostredame (Nostradamus), another medical doctor whose predictions are still studied today (1503-1566); Tycho Brahe, whose detailed observations were studied and interpreted by his pupil, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who came up with many theories, including the theory that the planets circle the sun in ellipses; Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who first used the telescope to study the stars, and courageously championed the Copernican heliocentric theory (which nearly cost him his life); and Sir Isaac Newton, who discovered the laws of gravity (1642-1727).
What about the scientific prejudice against astrology? Why is astrology scorned by science?
The prejudice against astrology goes back to the early Christian Church and its need to establish dominion over humanity. The early Christian Church, desiring absolute political control over its followers, sought to expurgate all astrological influences from society so that the Church would be the sole source of wisdom and guidance for the human race. The practice of astrology was absolutely taboo. After Ptolemy, there were few advances in astrology in Western civilization, and its true aims and principles fell into obscurity, preserved only by the Persians, who gave us, among other things, the Arabic Parts. It was not until the Renaissance that there was a resurgence of interest in the mystical-mathematical art of astrology.
Towards the end of the 19th century an organization of occultists and philosophers called the Theosophical Society brought about a serious revival of astrology, and the art began to regain some of its lost stature. During the 1960’s and 1970's, interest in astrology surged. The groundbreaking work of the brilliant pioneer, Michel Gauquelin (and his wife, Françoise) offered the first scientific, statistical evidence of the influence of the planets on human beings and also called attention to the importance of planetary heredity. The Gauquelins were met with bitter opposition, even derision, from the scientific establishment. They endured the scientific establishment's tiresome backlash of prejudice against anything new. Nevertheless, their contribution to the art and science of astrology is incontrovertible. British astrophysicist, Dr. Percy Seymour, picked up where the Gauquelins left off in their work on planetary heredity and his work is highly recommended, especially, Astrology: The Evidence of Science, published by Arkana (The Penguin Group).
The prejudice of established science against astrology is nowhere more evident than in the demotion of Pluto as a planet. This idiotic exhibition of scientific egotism and spite occurred on August 24, 2006 at the International Astronomical Union in Prague. On that day, the last day of the conference, a mere 424 astronomers out of about 2500 voted to demote Pluto from planet to “dwarf” planet. This is just plain silly. If an object orbits the Sun within a reasonable distance and is large and heavy enough to have its own moon, then it is a planet, especially if it can be seen with the naked eye! Pluto orbits the Sun and has five Moons, who cares if it is the smallest planet? Pluto may be small, but it is a "heavy-hitter" with the greatest density of all the trans-Martian planets. What were the 424 so-called astronomers thinking? One can only wonder if some loose cannon minority in the IAU will decide that Mercury is too small for them and is also a "dwarf" planet! Or that Saturn is not dense enough to be called a planet!
As the science of astrology grows and new discoveries are made, it is useful to keep in mind that all great endeavors by pioneers who forge the future of mankind are mostly met with the bitterest opposition, from Copernicus to Velikovsky, and Galileo to Gauquelin. John Anthony West says it well in his excellent book, The Case for Astrology:
New theories are accepted only after bitter arguments and acrimony on all sides. Scientists and their apologists find all manner of excuses to account for this, including calling the process ‘healthy debate’. But they avoid approaching the real issue. . . . They are interested in being right. Their egos are entirely bound up in their rightness and can brook no opposition. . . . And it is this that accounts for the otherwise inexplicable opposition that greets any new theory even those that do not carry any apparent emotional freight. P. 271
Mr. West speaks with first-hand knowledge, as he experienced the wrath of the scientific and academic establishment over his theory that the Sphinx evidences heavy water erosion. His wise words are invaluable advice for the upcoming pioneers who will make new discoveries and those scholars who will continue to resurrect lost ancient techniques.
The world awaits you!