Wyrd and Astrology

Astrology provides a means to map the weavings of the wyrd within time. The wyrd interweaves everything, everywhere, everywhen, and never exactly repeats itself - a principle known in modern chaos mathematics as 'self-similarity' - but there is always some kind of pattern to be seen within it. By choosing a pattern to watch, and mapping it as precisely as we can - such as mapping the movements of the stars and planets - we provide ourselves with something that looks like a 'science' of the wyrd.

It's essential to understand, though, that it isn't science at all, in the conventional sense. There's plenty of apparent analysis, plenty of calculation, perhaps, but all of it is just an anchor for intuition. The patterns are real enough: except that they only exist because we choose them. Ultimately, any choice of pattern would do: to use it, we need to provide ourselves with some kind of framework for interpreting it - and enough trust in our own intuition, to know when to stick to the 'standard' interpretation, and when to choose something else.

star-murphyWestern astrology - literally 'the study of the stars', and historically derived from Arabic sources, as is so much of 'Western' science - bases its interpretations on an exact mapping of the apparent movement of the sun, moon and planets in the sky. In a strictly physical sense there's no difference between astronomy (literally 'the naming of the stars') and astrology; the real difference is that astrology derives human meaning from those spatial relationships, whereas astronomy sees none. It's important to understand, though, that both and neither approaches are 'true' as such: they're different ways to try to make sense of the nature of the wyrd - and that is all.

Each planet, and each segment of the sky, are assigned a set of attributes or 'influences' - literally, 'that which flows in' from the star or sign. The attributes are traditional, often derived from simple parallels: the 'mercurial' influence is quick-moving, difficult to predict, whereas 'martial' influences are slower, inexorable, the blood-red of war; and so on. Geometric relationships - triangles, squares, oppositions - are deemed to determine the relative impact of each influence. And as each planet wanders through the sky, the influences are deemed to change, to wax and wane, ebb and flow: when a planet 'goes retrograde', reversing its apparent direction in the sky, so too does its apparent influence in our lives. But only if we believe that it does so? Perhaps so, perhaps not: Reality Department tends to be more than a bit weird at times, so it does usually help if we work with its wyrdnesses...

In one sense, even the idiocies of newspaper astrology can be useful, because they provide us with an arbitrary focus for each day: since the wyrd includes everything within itself, it's useful to have something that acts as an anchor! But as can be seen with the labyrinth, turning astrology into a practical tool needs a great deal of groundwork, combined with a great deal of care and commitment. To make it work, we need to proceed as if astrology is some kind of 'ancient lost science', and use it as if what it shows us is 'true' - but always to remember that what we perceive through it is only a map, only a way of seeing. The map provides the framework, but only the framework: ultimately the choice of interpretation, in each moment, is up to us. Yet this is the wyrd we're dealing with: so whilst we always have that choice, there'll always be Murphy's weird twist involved in it somewhere!

Chinese astrology is significantly different from the Western model: in fact it's arguable that it's not really 'astrology' at all, since it has no astronomical basis as such. Instead, its 'stars' are arbitrary attributes which, according to tradition and long observation, seem to recur in fixed cycles of hours, days. months, years - in effect, more a kind of time-based numerology than anything else. Yet the same principles apply: 'influences' are deemed to rise and fall in regular, repeatable patterns, and whilst each influence describes a particular content, a particular thread of the wyrd, the context for that content - its impact within our life - is dependent on its relationships within the whole.

Indian astrology is different again, as is Tibetan, and Aztec, and Inca: each culture has its own traditions, its own way of interpreting the wyrdness of time. So too, perhaps, for each of us: which way is best for you?