The Real Astrology (英語) ペーパーバック – 2001/3/1
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Spica Award: International Book of the Year, 2001. The astrology that is ubiquitous today is quite different from astrology as practised throughout almost all of its long history. The dilute and distorted version with which we are so familiar is not the study that has fascinated so many of the finest minds in our culture with its intellectual depth and practical precision. John Frawley provides a searching - and often hilarious - critique of modern astrology, and a detailed introduction to all the main branches of the traditional craft. Accessible to those with no prior knowledge of the subject, yet sufficiently through to serve as a vade mecum for the student or practitioner.
I mean, he does a great job pointing out much that is absurd about modern astrology and its practice. He complains about the use of asteroids, minor aspects, and so on, as just making stuff up without real justification, and I tend to agree with that. While doing so, he'll throw in a little example here and there of how much cleaner, simpler, and direct the so-called traditional approach is by comparison. At first, this really sucked me in. I also appreciated how he brings God into the picture, though I wonder if I can really believe that the science of astrology was revealed to two angels in ancient Babylon.
Towards the end of the book, however, he makes what I consider a fatal blunder. After leading me to believe that the system was going to be simple (look at essential dignities to judge the strength of a planet, look at receptions to see what they will be drawn towards, and look at the aspects for occasions for action), suddenly we're presented with a table for estimating the strength of "accidental dignities." Such things include occidental vs. oriental, increasing in latitude vs. decreasing, being halb or hayz or partill or besieged or combust or under the sunbeams or cazini or antiscion, and some other stuff. OK, maybe, I'm starting to think... but did that extra layer of not-so-clean complication really come from the angels, or is it stuff people made up somewhere between ancient Babylon and the 1600's? But it gets much worse: he then mentions Arabian Parts, and says there's hardly any chart where Arabian Parts can't shed some light. OK, maybe-maybe... but then he quotes some 11th century Arab astrologer who himself commented (and this is a near quote), "It's impossible to enumerate all the Parts that have been invented, because they increase in number every day." What, you mean the way people these days make stuff up about minor aspects and asteroids? At least, to my knowledge, we don't have a special asteroid ruling cucumbers... apparently somebody selling or planting cucumbers needed info from an old Arab astrologer who really aimed to please.
To believe that people one or two thousand years ago were any different than people today is a mistake. As always, humans have an incredible ability to talk themselves into their own pet theories. It's a fact from psychology that we tend to pay attention to whatever confirms our theories and ignore whatever doesn't. "Pure astrology straight from the two angels in ancient Babylon" indeed.
But I'll still give two stars, because the author's incredible wit makes it an entertaining read overall.
Previous reviews have enumerated the merits of this work. I concur with all of them. I knew nothing of traditional/horary astrology and this work certainly gave me a good overview. So intrigued was I that I immediately sought out one of Frawley's students for a reading. For a historical perspective, please see the fascinating book "The Fated Sky" by historian Benson Bobrick. There you will gain an understanding of the power of Traditional Astrology as it has been practiced over the ages and the geniuses who have used and developed it.
Mr. Frawley rightfully (and with derisive humor!) takes modern astrology to task. Much of modern astrology is overladen with pop-psychology and a lot of modern astrologers have projected onto the unfortunate planets the latest in vogue psychobabble to issue from Marin County, California. In regards to this, Terence McKenna once noted that the various schools of psychology sound like hawkers at a medieval faire...each different and each trying to sell his wares. Tainting astrology with such ephemeral waste bastardizes the art.
On the other hand, Frawley appears to be dismissive of ANY new trends in astrology. I am not sure of the value of, say, archetypal astrology whose source of inspiration are the works of CG Jung. However, unlike the pop-psychology/astrology mentioned above, it does have a serious school of thought from which it springs and some rather important intellectuals, such as Richard Tarnas, in its camp. Rather than engage in serious polemics with the archetypal school, Frawley skirts the issue by wisecracks.
The author's attitude towards anything new in astrology can be summed up by the biblical passage: "there's nothing new under the sun". That is indeed true in many ways but that does not mean that our instruments of investigation cannot improve. There is nothing fundamentally new about the physical world; it's remained essentially unchanged for a long time. But that does not mean that we know all there is to know about it. So it is that we learn new things about it through the ever-developing sciences such as geology, chemistry, physics. In the same way, we agree with Frawley that human beings have not fundamentally changed; however we do not know everything there is to know and should continue to deepen our understanding of humans through the scope of new methodologies in additon to long-standing traditional ones.
Mr. Frawley seems to find the discoveries of the outerplanets- Uranus, Neptune, Pluto- as impertinent...after all, there is nothing new under the sun. In my admittedly limited experience, these planets are important from an astrological perspective. I might be wrong. These planets may be inconsequential, but Frawley's retort that "there is nothing new" is unconvincing.
I hope that these criticisms do not overshadow the praises for the book that I have also recorded. Four stars!