The art and science of astrology, which bridges the ancient and modern worlds, is a very problematic subject. On the one hand, it has been justly castigated by modern scientists as a throwback to superstitious thinking. On the other hand, it is an expression of humanity's perennial yearning for a comprehensive understanding of our unity with the cosmos. 

I am partially sympathetic with the skeptics who decry the current interest in astrology as a symptom of scientific and rational illiteracy. The major claims of traditional horoscope interpretation lack scientific support. 

The mystery deepens as I (and, no doubt, many of you) find numerous examples in my own personal life which seem to validate the horoscope. Quite honestly, while this leads me to suspect that there is more to astrology than I appreciate, it should also lead me to further grasp the extent to which my own well-educated mind is subject to mundane folly and fallibility. To compound matters further, some general astrological claims as well as some very specific claims have received clearcut experimental support. On a day to day basis, this tension is both exciting and uncomfortable.

Some astrological correlations are self-evident to everybody. The changing of the seasons which is correlated with the movement of the sun through the zodiac. The influence of the moon upon the earth's tides, as well as its the apparent correlation of the lunar cycle with female menstruation, is well known. 

In fact our language is peppered with astrological innuendos. When we call an unpredictable person mercurial, we are referring to the planet, and Roman god, Mercury. If a lustful person is described as venial, the reference is to the planet, and ancient Roman goddess, Venus. A lunatic is someone who has fallen under the influence of the moon, or the Roman goddess personifying the moon (sometimes identified with Diana). A person who studies the martial arts is engaged in a practice under the influence of the planet, and Roman god, Mars. When describe a magnanimous person as jovial, we are making reference to the planet, and Roman god, Jupiter. To ancient peoples all of these things must have seemed obvious. 

Theodore Roszak
(courtesy Thinking Allowed Productions)

The social critic and historian, Theodore Roszak, in attempting to understand the persistence of astrology, writes:

The essential teaching of astrology, reaching back to the ancient worship of the stars, was that of spiritual communion between the human and the heavenly....The modern fascination with astrology -- even in its crudest forms -- stems from a growing nostalgia for that older, more unified sense of nature in which the sun, moon and stars were experienced as a vast network of living consciousness. For a growing number of people, the rich imagery of these old traditions has become a more inspiration way of talking about emotions, values, motivations and goals than conventional psychiatry. The astrological universe is, after all, the universe of Greco-Roman myth, of Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Blake. It has poetry and philosophy built into it. 
Some "skeptics" carry their arguments too far. In attacking astrology's quasi-scientific claims, they often overlook its cultural relevance as a symbolic language. In 1975, at the time of the original publication of The Roots of Consciousness, over 180 leading scientists -- including eighteen Nobel Prize winners -- signed a public letter proclaiming that astrology made invalid and unsupportable scientific claims. 

Apparently the effort did little to stem the "rising tide of irrationality" which is the bane of those who proclaim themselves to be "skeptics." Two years later a Gallup poll reported that over 30 million Americans believed in astrology.

When a representative of the BBC wanted to interview some of these eminent scientists, they declined with the remark that they had never studied astrology and had no idea of its details. The inappropriateness of such learned scientists attempting to combat astrology by using the weight of their academic reputations has been criticized by the eminent philosopher of science, Paul Feyerabend. Feyerabend suggests that the fifteenth century Roman Catholic Church made a more cogent argument against witchcraft (in the classic Malleus Malificarium) than the skeptics were able to make against the underlying principles of astrology. He poses an interesting rhetorical question: "Why 186 signatures if one has arguments?"

Paul Feyerabend

Where does one draw the line? Can both the proponents and skeptics of astrology be wrong? Feyerabend sums up his position very eloquently:

Modern astrology is in many respects similar to early mediaeval astronomy: it inherited interesting and profound ideas, but it distorted them, and replaced them by caricatures more adapted to the limited understanding of its practitioners. The caricatures are not used for research; there is no attempt to proceed into new domains and to enlarge our knowledge of extra-terrestrial influences; they simply serve as a reservoir of naive rules and phrases suited to impress the ignorant. Yet this is not the objection raised by our scientists. They do not criticize the air of stagnation that has been permitted to obscure the basic assumptions of astrology, they criticize these basic assumptions themselves and in the process turn their own subjects into caricatures. It is interesting to see how closely both parties approach in other in ignorance, conceit and the wish for easy power over minds.
If we can sort out the valid threads from the superstition in the fabric of astrology, perhaps we will discover potentially useful clues to understanding the nature of consciousness itself. In fact, a great deal of Pythagorean wisdom which is largely lost to modern thinking -- is likely to be embodied in astrology. Perhaps no one has done more to excavate this understanding than Arthur M. Young, whose work shall be described later in this discussion of astrology and again in Section IV. When asked one evening, why he found astrology of relevance today, Young stated it very simply, "Astrology connects us to the realm of mythos."

Ptolmaic Astrology

Claudius Ptolemy

Ptolemy (110-151 A.D.) who lived in Alexandria during the neoplatonic era was the ablest mathematician and closest scientific observer of his day. He made important contributions to trigonometry and cartography and while his geocentric theory was proven erroneous, it was well substantiated on the basis of the existing scientific evidence and in fact held for over one thousand years. He also formulated the principle (later known as Occam's razor) that one should always use the simplest hypothesis consistent with the facts. He wrote 21 books on geography, mathematics and astronomy, as well as four on control of human life by the stars. These books, known as the Tetrabiblos have formed the substantial base of all Western astrology since his day, although few modern astrologers have ever read Ptolemy or understood the caution he urged.

Ptolemy contended that a certain force is diffused from the heavens over all things on earth. Yet he recognized that most applications of astrology were still hypothetical. He also acknowledged that it was easier to predict events effecting large areas, whole peoples or cities, rather than individuals. But astrology was not to be rejected simply because it was difficult to do and only partially accurate any more than one would reject the art of navigation because ships are frequently wrecked.

Kepler and Astrology

Johannes Kepler

In Germany at the beginning of the 17th century, astrology itself was becoming very controversial. In 1610, the great astronomer Johannes Kepler published a work that attempted to intervene in a public conflict between a pastor who issued prognostications and a physician who had attacked astrology. The title was:

A Warning to Sundry Theologians, Medical Men and Philosophers that They, while very Properly Overthrowing Stargazing Superstition, do not Chuck out the Baby with the Bathwater and thereby Unwittingly Injure Their Profession.

Kepler's reasoned attitude toward astrology was to try and determine precisely the extent and manner of the influence of the heavenly bodies upon the earth and its inhabitants. He was very concerned with revising and reforming the traditional rules of astrology in accordance with his own observations.

For example, he condemned the general run of astrological predictions, maintaining that only one in a hundred was accurate. He further argued that the division of the zodiac into twelve signs was also completely arbitrary and irrelevant. Nevertheless, he felt these could be kept simply as a matter of convenience.

He emphasized the importance of the aspects, or angular relations between the different planets--in fact, he added several aspects of his own invention to those astrologers traditionally used. Modern experimental workers in astrology have taken a similar position.

In 1619, Kepler published Harmonice Mundi in which he described the results of twenty years of astrological observations. He maintained the degree of harmony of the rays descending from the heavenly bodies to the earth was a function of their angular relationships. He described the similarities between planetary aspects and musical consonance and the effects different configurations of the planets exerted on the emotional and mental lives of animals and humans. He also observed the weather's relationship to the planetary aspects. Of particular importance to him was the influence of the sun and the moon upon the earth. All bodily fluids waxed and waned with the moon, which was therefore very influential in the treatment of diseases. And he felt that the nature of planetary influences were revealed by their colors.

Kepler reaffirmed the importance of the positions of the planets at the moment of birth.

In general there is no expedite and happy genesis unless the rays and qualities of the planets meet in apt, and indeed geometric, agreement.

He even thought that sons, particularly the first-born, were often born under horoscopes similar to their parents. This curious hypothesis is also born out by some current research which will be mentioned in the next chapter.

Kepler, of course, is best known to modern science for his laws of planetary motions and his support of the heliocentric theory of the solar system. He also felt that the sun itself was the soul of the whole universe, presiding over the movements of the stars, the regeneration of the elements, and the conservation of animals and plants. To him the earth was like an animal:

...[with] the twin faculty of attracting sea waters into the secret seats of concoction, and of expelling the vapors which have been thus concocted. By its perception of the celestial aspects it is stimulated and excited to excrete these vapors with a pleasure akin to that `which an animal feels in the ejaculation of its semen. Man, too, is not merely a rational being but is endowed with a natural faculty like that of the earth for sensing celestial configurations, "without discourse, without learning, without progress, without even being aware of it.
Kepler developed his theories on the basis of explorations into the dimly lit archetypal regions of the mind as surely as on his mathematical observations of the planetary motions. He was clearly a student in the tradition of earlier mystic-scientists such as Pythagoras and Paracelsus.

Astrology in Contemporary Times

It is on this level that we need to consider some of the more extreme findings of astrology. Electromagnetic radiations and solar storm activity can certainly account for certain mass phenomena. But we cannot expect electromagnetic effects to bear much relationship to the individual horoscope. Nevertheless, data of this sort exists. Most of the significant studies are the result of experimentation by Michel Gauquelin in France which began in the 1940s and continues po the present day. His results do not vindicate some widely used horoscope claims such as the reality of zodiacal influences, the meaning of the twelve astrological "houses," or the role of the "aspects" between planets. (In fact, there is really no good data supporting the astrological value of sun signs, moon signs, or any zodiacal signs at all.) What Gauquelin was able to discover was a weak relationship between the position of planets relative to the horizon and success in certain professions. This branch of study is sometimes termed neo-astrology. While, with a few notable exceptions, Gauquelin did not predict his results in advance, his findings are consistent with the astrological interpretations of Ptolemy and Kepler. These results are independent of normal seasonal or circadian factors.

For example, of 3647 famous doctors and scientists he studied, 724 were born with Mars just above the eastern horizon or at the mid-heaven, directly overhead. Since you would only expect 626 men in this sample to have Mars rising or culminating, this effect has a probability of only 1 in 500,000 of having occurred by chance. In the same group of individuals, an unusually high number, statistically speaking, were born with Saturn rising or culminating.

In a group of 3438 famous soldiers, Jupiter or Mars were frequently found in the sectors following their rise or culmination.

In a group of 1409 actors, Jupiter appears to be more frequent after its rise and superior culmination. In a group of 1,352 writers, the moon appears more frequently in the key positions after the rise and superior culmination.

In a group of 2088 sports champions, Mars dominates, being recorded 452 times rising or culminating instead of the expected 358. The probability that this effect could have happened by chance was only one in five million. Furthermore, this finding was repeated independently of Gauquelin by a Belgian committee of scientists studying para-conceptual phenomena.

The treatment of Michel Gauquilin's astrology research remains one of the sadder chapters in the history of skeptical efforts to debunk astrology. A Fate magazine article titled "sTarbaby" by Dennis Rawlins claimed that the Mars effect was also independently uncovered in a study by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) -- a group normally devoted to skeptical debunking. Rawlins, a staunch skeptic himself, described in detail how CSICOP chairman Paul Kurtz obfuscated the evidence in order to avoid the implications of this embarassing finding. CSICOP, for its part, has attacked the Rawlins report, claiming that the astrology study was not one of its official activities.

Interestingly, Gauquilin's data is significant only when dealing with prominent individuals. No correlations were found for individuals who did not achieve notable success in their professions. Furthermore, the correlations do not seem to apply for individuals whose birth was artificially induced at a certain time in order to conform with the schedule requirements of the attending physician. Only if the birth was allowed to occur at its own speed were the astrological correlates significant. Since an increasing proportion of modern births are artificially induced (i.e., fewer hospital births take place at 1:20 a.m., such as mine did), the actual application and opportunity for continued replication of Gauquilin's "neo-astrology" is extremely limited.

Although scientists find Gauquilin's findings very disquieting, increasingly sophisticated analysis seems to confirm, rather than discomfirm, certain of the original results. For example, in a 1986 study, the German researcher, Suitbert Ertel, reported:

A reanalysis of Gauquelin professional data using alternative procedures of statistical treatment supports previous Gauquelin results. Frequency deviations from chance expectancy along the scale of planetary sectors differ markedly between professions.
Gauquilin himself is very clear that his findings may be interpreted as completely disproving the claims of conventional astrology. It is hard to think that his findings have much relevance to the work of any given astrological interpreter of charts. Even the most significant correlations applied to less than one-fifth of the population in his sample. It is a big jump from a few weak, albeit significant, correlations to the interpretations of thousands of factors on an individual chart. Astrologers have never been able to explain this process to my satisfaction and they often are in marked disagreement with each other. The strongest key to astrology seems to be meanings implicit in the mythological symbolism of the astronomical names. This is particularly evident when we think of soldiers being influenced by Mars and Jupiter.

Using an independent approach, the great Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung also conducted studies in astrology.

Carl Gustgav Jung

In an analysis of 483 pairs of charts from married couples chosen at random, Jung found a preponderance of aspects that would signify such a relationship. Most notably the moon of the woman was found to be in conjunction with either the sun, the moon, or the ascendant of her husband. A control group of over 32,000 unmarried pairs of charts did not show these aspects. Statistical analysis indicated the results obtained could have happened by chance only one time in ten thousand.

Jung maintained this amazing finding could be attributed to the role ideas, thought-forms, and archetypes play in organizing events. He labelled this process synchronicity, an acausal connecting principle.

An interesting study recently conducted in Germany, used horoscopes of "accident-prone persons," -- a group of car drivers who stand out for having been involved in above-average numbers of accidents. Aggressive and risky driving styles are among the characteristic features of accident-prone persons. Current astrology ascribes this kind of behavior to the planet Mars and Uranus which are expected to turn up in dominant positions in their horoscopes. For the purpose of an empirical investigation of this hypothesized relationship, several study groups formed by the "German Society of Astrologers, Inc." were asked to distinguish one or two accident-prone persons, on the basis of their horoscopes, from between one and four persons who were not prone to accidents. Five of six accident-prone persons were recognized as such; in each case, the solution was found by a cooperative attempt of all participants. Because of the small number of tasks, this positive result will require further replication before it can be considered reliable.

In 1959, the American psychologist Vernon Clark conducted a few simple experiments designed to test the accuracy of astrologers' claims. These studies are often cited by the proponents of conventional horoscope interpretation. He collected horoscope charts showing planetary positions at birth, from people in ten different professions. Half were men and half were women. All were between forty-five and sixty years of age. The horoscopes were given to twenty different astrologers together with a separate list of professions; the astrologers were asked to match them up. The same information was given to another group of psychologists and social workers who knew little about astrology. Oddly enough, the astrologers were able to complete their task with a statistically significant accuracy--although they still made many mistakes. The psychiatrists and social workers scored no better than chance expectations.

In another experiment, Clark took ten pairs of horoscopes, matched for sex and year of birth. To each pair he attached a list of dates showing important events such as marriage, children, new jobs, and death. The astrologers were asked to state which of the two horoscopes in each pair predicted the pattern of events listed. Three of the astrologers got all ten right and the rest scored significantly above chance -- with a probability of one in a hundred.

In a third test, the astrologers were given ten pairs of charts with no other data to work with. They were asked to determine which of the two charts indicated that the individual was a victim of cerebral palsy. Again the astrologers scored well above chance expectations.

One might attribute the astrologers' success to ESP. But, for those who are unwilling to credit the validity of horoscopes, there are other interpretations. For example, it is unclear under what experimental conditions these studies were conducted. It may be the case that Clark preselected horoscopes which would match the textbook interpretations which are taught to astrologers. Unless the horoscopes were selected independently (using "double blind" experimental procedures) the research would not have been valid. This criticism was applied by Michel Gauquilin himself with regard to an ostensibly successful study reported by astrologer Joseph Vidmar. A number of other studies, based on Vernon Clark's model have failed to produce positive results.

An English astrology, Jeff Mayo, conducted an interesting study in which he correlated astrological sun signs with personality measures of introversion and extroversion in over 2,000 individuals. The initial results were remarkable. Individuals with "masculine" sun signs (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagitarius and Aquarius) scored higher on extroversion while those with "feminine" sun signs (Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces) scored higher on introversion. This study was even published in a psychological journal, indicating the co-authorship of Hans J. Eyesenck -- one of Britain's greatest psychologists. However, efforts to replicate failed to produce significant results. Eyesenck later concluded that the results were skewed because the individuals taking the personality tests were beginning astrology students whose tests results were biased by their identification with new material in astrology that they had learned. When tests were taken by either advanced astrology students or individuals ignorant of astrology, the correlations failed to hold.

When Geoffrey Dean showed a large group of astrologers what they believed to be British singer Petula Clark's natal chart, they derived descriptions that tended to match her personality. Actually, the chart was that of mass murderer Charles Manson. Another astrology research found, in the popular literature, three publications analysing John Lennon's natal chart, each postdicting the exact time of Lenon's violent death. However, each was derived from a different birth time. Such findings leave little doubt that popular astrologers will interpret a natal chart in a manner that supports their own preconceptions.

In 1985, the British Journal of Social Psychology published three studies testing the astrological doctrine of aspects -- the angular relationship between the earth and the various planets, a standard parameter for interpreting planetary influences in natal astrology. No evidence for the validity of the astrological concepts was found. 

As was noted earlier, many popular beliefs relate to the influence of the moon. It is said that more crimes occur during the full moon and that there are more traffic accidents then. In 1976, Berkeley health feminist Louise Lacey published a study suggesting that women might use the lunar cycle for purposes of contraception (which she claimed was influenced by exposure to light). A novel study published in Social Behavior and Personality tested the lunar-aggression hypothesis by using the aggressive penalties awarded in ice hockey over a season of competition. Interpersonal aggression was found to be unrelated to lunar cycles. These findings suggested that the persistence of lunar believs might be related to social factors such as expectations and selective exposure.,

In 1985, Shawn Carlson, then a U.C.L.A. graduate student in physics, published the results of a carefully controlled experiment in the prestigious British science journal, Nature. Its purpose was to give recognized astrologers an opportunity to apply their craft in a controlled experimental setting to see if they could obtain accurate information about people they had never met.

Carlson summarizes his experiment:

Three recognized expert astrologers consented to act as advisors on the experiment's design. They also selected those of their peers they considered sufficiently competent to participate, made "worst case" predictions for how well their colleagues would do, and approved the design as a "fair test" of astrology. Twenty-eight of the ninety astrologers who had been recommended by the advisors agreed to participate.

Volunteer test subjects took a widely used and generally accepted personality test, the California Personality Inventory (CPI), to provide an objective measure of their character traits. The astrologers chose the CPI as the personality test which came closest to describing those character traits attributes accessible to astrology. A computer constructed a natal chart for each subject.

The experiment consisted of two parts. In the first, the natal charts were divided up amongst the astrologers. For each natal chart, the astrologers wrote personality descriptions covering the material that they felt sure the subjects would be able to recognize as accurate. The subjects received their own personality descriptions and two others chosen at random, and were asked to select the description they felt best fit them. Extensive controls were established to eliminate self-attribution and other possible biases. If astrology does not work, one would expect one third of the subjects to select the correct personality descriptions. The astrologers' own "worst case" prediction was 50% correct.

In the second test, the natal charts were again divided up amongst the astrologers. For each natal chart, the astrologers were given three CPI test results, one of which correctly corresponded to the given natal chart. They were asked to make a first and second place choice as to which CPI came closest to matching each natal chart, and rate how well each fit the natal chart on a one to ten scale. If the natal chart contains no information about the subject, the astrologers had a one in three chance of making a given selection correctly. Their worst case prediction here too was 50% correct.

The subjects failed to select the correct personality descriptions more than one third of the time. However, if people tend not to know themselves very well they would be unable to select the correct descriptions no matter how well astrology worked. Since the CPI descriptions are known to be accurate, each subject was asked to select his or her own CPI from a group of three. Since the subjects were also unable to do this, their failure to select the correct astrological description could not be held against astrology.

However, astrologers' confidence in their abilities comes from their clients recognizing astrologically derived personality descriptions as accurate. The subjects' failure here means either that astrology does not work, or people do not know themselves well enough to recognize the astrologers' descriptions as accurate when reviewed in a controlled setting in which two alternate descriptions are also presented. Either way, these results show that astrologers' faith in their abilities is unfounded.

The astrologers failed to match the correct CPIs to the natal charts. They scored exactly chance and were very far from their "worst case" prediction of 50%. Even worse, the astrologers did no better when they rated a CPI as being a perfect fit to a natal chart. None of the astrologers scored well enough to warrent being retested. Thus, even though the astrologers started off very confident that they would pass this test, they failed.

There are two conclusions which one can draw from Carlson's study. The first is that 28 astrologers were unable to pass what they agreed was a fair test of their abilities. The second, which I regard as most significant, is that the public at large is so lacking in self-awareness that people are unable to recognize their own personality profiles as measured by the California Personality Inventory -- one of the most valid and reliable tests known in psychology. (This may, however, also be taken as a sad reflection on the present state of personality assessment.) Before summarizing all of the astrology research, I should point out that a number of other studies fail to support conventional horoscope interpretations.,, However, the studies of Gauquilin and of Jung seem to provide weak support for some of the underlying principles of planetary influence. The findings will continue to remain on the fringes of science until many of the speculations are grounded in a mass of incontrovertible data. 

There is some suggestion astrologers (as well as psychics and metaphysical counselors) may play a role similar to that played by psychotherapists. Their clients are individuals with real needs who, nevertheless, do not wish to characterize themselves as having psychological problems. These ideas were documented recently in the American Journal of Psychotherapy by extracts from the writings of astrologers as well as by transcripts of visits to astrologers. With regard to this possibility, Shawn Carlson comments:

If an astrologer is a skilled counselor and a caring person, he/she may be of benefit to his/her clientele. However, most astrologers have no training in counseling. Many studied astrology because its unconventionality appealed to their own unconventional natures. A few are outright charlatans who use astrology as a scam to bilk the gullible. A person with a real problem is, in my opinion, courting disaster in seeking astrological counseling. One would be much safer in the hands of a trained, licensed, respected, reputable counselor. 
In order to safeguard the public against astrological hucksters and other "paranormalists," Carlson argues that individuals who charge a fee for the exercise of special occult skills be required to pass an examination which requires them to demonstrate those skills in a fashion that precludes trickery or self-deception. 


There is a sense in which many terrestrial phenomena may be influenced by electromagnetic and gravitational effects originating within the solar system. Such influences, do not support traditional Ptolmaic astrology. Nevertheless, they may play a role understanding possible subtle environmental effects upon consciousness. The correlations that are reported here stand on the edge of scientific respectability and must be considered more seriously than other claims in Section II.

The earth's magnetic field changes slightly according to the solar day, the lunar day, and the lunar month. Geomagnetic disturbances are particularly correlated with solar storms discharging large clouds of ionic plasma. These solar eddies generally impinge upon the earth's magnetosphere about two days after the solar flare causing polar lights, radio interference, and compression of the earth's magnetic lines of flux.

The magnetic field extending out around the earth, blown by solar winds away from the sun

Fluctuations in solar storm activity follow a cycle averaging 11.2 years and varying from about nine to thirteen years in length.

Relationship between mean annual magnetic activity (U) and number of sunspots (R). 
(After A. S. Presman, Electromagnetic Fields and Life. New York: Plenum Press, 1970)

Scientists have correlated solar storm activity to rates of eart attacks, lung disease, eclampsias, and the activity of microbes.

Solar activity and frequency of lymphocytoses during 1957 in Sochi, USSR. 
(After Pressman, p. 199)

Epidemics of diptheria, typhus, cholera, and smallpox have also been correlated with solar activity. Much of this work was done between the two world wars by the Russian Scientist A. L. Tchijewski. In a huge study he drew up lists of wars, epidemics, revolutions, and population movements from 500 BC to 1900 and plotted them against curves of solar activity. He found that 78 percent of these outbreaks correlated with peaks of solar activity. He also found an amazing assortment of correlating phenomena ranging from locust hordes in Russia to succession of liberal and conservative governments in England from 1830 to 1930. Sturgeon in the Caspian Sea reproduce and then die in masses following cycles of 11 and 33 years which occur during periods of many sunspots (solar storms). The great financial crisis of 1929 coincided with a peak in solar activity. Other research has shown correlations between solar activity and the number of road accidents and mining disasters reported. This may be due to delayed or inaccruate human reactions in conjunction with very violent solar activity.

An Italian chemist, Giorgi Piccardi, was asked to figure out why "activated" water dissolves the calcium deposits from a water boiler at certain times and not at others. (Activated water is a vestige of alchemy. A sealed phial containing neon and mercury is moved around in the water until the neon lights up; there is no chemical change in the water; however the structure of the molecular bonds are altered somewhat.) After years of patient research measuring the rate at which bismuth sulfide becomes a colloid in activated and normal water, Piccardi showed that this colloid-forming rate varies with sunspot activity. A colloid solution is one in which the dissolved particles have large enough molecular weight so that the surface tension of each molecule is of importance in determining the behavior of the solution. Common colloids are glue, gelatin, milk, egg white and blood. (The word colloid is derived from the Greek word kolla, meaning glue.) In general colloidal particles are too big to pass through membranes which will pass smaller dissolved molecules. The influence solar activity exerts upon the molecular structure of water is likely to be even more acute in human organisms as the human body temperature is fixed near the limit where changes in the structure of water normally occur.

Not only are inorganic colloidal suspensions affected by solar activity, but so is at least one other organic colloid as well-blood. Research by Dr. M. Takata in Japan, since verified in Germany and the Soviet Union, indicates that blood samples showing flocculation (a cloud-like formation) as well as the leucocyte (white blood cell) content of the blood varies in accordance with solar storm activity. This widespread solar influence upon all colloidal substances manifests itself in a wide variety of ways. Individual reaction times, pain felt by amputees, and the number of suicides all reveal a similar variation in response to sunspots. Michael Guaquilin lists numerous ways in which the sunspot cycle effects weather conditions:

During violent solar eruptions, or at the time when important groups of sunspots move to the sun's central zone, a certain number of disturbances occur in our atmosphere, particularly the aurorae boreales, as a result of the greater ionization in the upper atmosphere, and magnetic storms, revealed by violent agitation of compass needles.

The level of Lake Victoria-Nyanza changes in accordance with the rhythm of the sunspots, also the number of icebergs, and famines in India due to lack of rain. The Bulletin Astronomique de France brought out a very interesting article on the relation between the activity of sunspots and the quality of Burgundy wines: excellent vintages correspond with periods of maximum solar activity, and bad vintages with periods of minimum activity. Douglas, an American, and Schvedov, a Russian, have observed that the concentric rings formed in the growth of trees have a period of recurrence of eleven years as well. Finally, there is Lury's well-known statistical observation that the number of rabbit skins taken by the Hudson Bay Company follows a curve parallel to that of solar activity.

On this subject, perhaps the most interesting study is that carried out on varves. These say Piccardi, are many-layered deposits of sand or clay which are formed in calm waters, lakes, ponds, swamps, etc., in glacial zones. A varve's thickness depends on the rainfall in a given year. Examination of these fossilize deposits in sedementary rock formed through the geological ages reveals the same inevitable eleven year cycle in the most distant past.

F. A. Brown is an eminant biologist who has advanced the theory that the "biological clock" mechanisms observed in organisms can be explained by animals being sensitive to various subtle environmental factors. In addition to demonstrating the influence magnetic fields exert on a wide variety of living organisms, Brown has also demonstrated that several organisms including the potato, oyster, fiddler crab, and rat modify their behavior according to lunar rhythms. The experimental subjects were enclosed for long periods in hermetically-sealed rooms where the light, pressure temperature, and humidity were carefully kept constant.

He also notes that "fluctuations in intensity of primary cosmic rays entering the earth's atmosphere were dependent upon the strength of geomagnetism. The magnetic field steadily undergoes fluctuations in intensity. When the field is stronger, fewer primary cosmic rays come into the outer atmosphere; when it weakens, more get in." Other researchers have shown influences on the circadian rhythm of electrostatic fields, gamma radiation, x-rays, and weak radio waves.,

Recent years have shown an upsurge of interest in the ways in which human activity is effected by the remote environment. Scientists around the world who are doing research in this area have been meeting under the auspices of the International Society for Biometeorology. In 1969, the society created a special study group on the "biological effects of low and high energy particles and of extra-terrestrial factors." On this committee sit such scientists as F. A. Brown, Giorgi Piccardi and Michel Gauquilin. Many poorly understood phenomena are now coming under the scrutiny of respectable members of the scientific community. Gradually the frontiers of science are being extended into territory that once belonged to mystics and occultists.

Perhaps one could think of objects as complicated concatinations of interpenetrating electromagnetic fields. As far as we know, all objects in our universe, with a temperature above absolute zero, are emitting electro-magnetic radiation. In this sense, the alchemical theories of Alkindi are true. 


Charles Muses
(courtesy Thinking Allowed Productions)

Dr. Charles Muses -- a mathematician, philosopher, and computer scientist who died in 2000 -- was author of Destiny and Control in Human Systems and The Lion Path. Muses has developed an approach to astrology couched in the language of systems theory. In a Thinking Allowed interview, he described the theoretical principles underlying the methodology he has come to refer to as chronotopology -- i.e., studying the structure of time. One has a sense from this discussion that contemporary astrology is, perhaps, a decadent form of what was once a philosophically well-grounded and noble pursuit:

MUSES: The hypothesis of chronotopology is that whether you have pointers of any kind -- ionospheric disturbances or planetary orbits -- independently of those pointers, time itself has a flux, a wave motion.

MISHLOVE: In quantum physics there's this notion that the underlying basis for the physical universe are probability waves -- nonphysical, nonmaterial waves -- underlying everything.

MUSES: These waves are standing waves. Actually the wave-particle so-called paradox is not that bad, when you consider that a particle is a wave packet, a packet of standing waves. That's why an electron can go through a plate and leave wavelike things. Actually our bodies are like fountains. The fountain has a shape only because it's being renewed every minute, and our bodies are being renewed. So we are standing waves; we are no exception.

Time is the master control. I will give you an illustration of that. If you take a moment of time, this moment cuts through the entire physical universe as we're talking. It holds all of space in itself. But one point of space doesn't hold all of time. In other words, time is much bigger than space.

A line of time is then an occurrence, and a wave of time is a recurrence. And then if you get out from the circle of time, which Nietzsche saw, the eternal recurrence -- if you break that, as we know we do, we develop, and then we're on a helix, because we come around but it's a little different each time.

MISHLOVE: Well, now you're beginning to introduce the notion of symbols -- point, line, wave, helix, and so on.

MUSES: Yes, the dimensions of time.

MISHLOVE: Symbols themselves -- words, pictures -- point to the deeper structure of things, including the deeper structure of time. I gather that you are suggesting the mind is part of a nonphysical, mathematically definable reality that can interface and interact with physical reality, and in which physical reality is embedded.

MUSES: There can be some things which are physically effective which are not physical. I can give you an illustration, a very recondite one, but there is the zero-point energy of the vacuum. The vacuum is defined in quantum physics as space devoid of radiation or matter -- no energy, no matter. Yet there is an inherent energy in there which can be measured -- this is one of the great triumphs of modern physics -- and that is physically effective.

MISHLOVE: The energy of a pure vacuum. 

MUSES: Yes. Yet it obviously is not a pure vacuum. The so-called savage would say to us, "The room is empty, and the wind is a magic spirit." We know it is air. So we are like the savage in saying that the vacuum is empty. There is something there.

Muses, in effect, has been echoing the ancient claim of the Primordial Tradition that there is a fundamental unity between the universal mind and the cosmos itself -- including the unfolding of time. The structure of the relationship between macrocosm and microcosm is expressed in mathematical, scientific and mythological symbols. It is the intuitive grasp of these symbols which is ultimately the goal of astrology. 

Such a system must always be larger and more enduring than any rational attempt to understand or contain it. If this perspective of astrology is correct, I would predict that rationalists will forever shun astrology's pseudoscientific face. And, ironically, astrology and other "superstitions" will persist because the yearning human soul never be content with rational materialism.

Arthur M. Young's "Geometry of Meaning"

Arthur M. Young

A most elegant and brilliant search for the deep unity of myth, mathematics and morphology is Arthur M. Young's derivation of a "geometry of meaning" from the angular relationships that exist between the measure formula of physics. Starting from pure physical and mathematical relationships, Young has built an elegant theoretical model that bears an uncanny isomorphism to the twelve signs of the zodiac.

He begins by plotting the motion of a pendulum (as a representative of simple harmonic motion--the basis of all wave motion) over time on a Cartesian coordinate system. The completion of the swing to the left and its return to A is referred to as a cycle of action whose halfway point is C.

The slope of the following curve represents the rate at which the position of the pendulum or its velocity changes.

The rate at which the velocity changes is the acceleration, and the rate at which acceleration changes Young designates as control. These dimensions can be plotted in a likewise fashion. 

These curves are all the same shape, but the curve for velocity is displaced one-fourth of the cycle before the position curve. The velocity is at 0 when the position is either +1 or -l. The velocity is at a maximum (in a positive or negative direction) when the position of the pendulum is at O. The curve for acceleration is displaced one-fourth of the cycle from the curve of velocity, and one half of a cycle from the curve of position. Thus when the pendulum's position is 0, and the velocity is at a maximum, the acceleration is O. The control curve is displaced one-fourth of a cycle from the acceleration curve and one-half of a cycle from the velocity. This cycle of action can be represented as a full circle-with the designations of maximum position, velocity, acceleration, and control falling on four points 90ø apart.

The fourth positional derivative repeats the cycle and becomes once more "position" in this scheme. Young maintains that "these four categories of the measure are necessary and sufficient for the analysis of motion of a moving body." He also states that there are fundamental qualitative differences between these measures.

In order to determine position, we make an observation--either visually or by some equally direct process. On the other hand, velocity cannot be observed directly. It must be computed. It can only be known intellectually. We must make two observations of position, determine their difference and divide by the time elapsed, obtaining a ratio. Acceleration can also be computed, but it can be directly and physically experienced by the knower, through feeling, in a way by which the other measures cannot be known. Control, or change in acceleration, must be initiated by an operator. This element is indeterminate and unknowable to an observer.

The four types of experience derived from the physical measure formulae now become the basis for another cycle of action called the learning cycle. This cycle begins with a spontaneous act, an impulse derived from feeling, and equivalent, Young believes, to acceleration. Unconscious reaction is the second element of this cycle. This reaction is based on habits, instincts, or "programming" in the language of bio-computer theory. It is equivalent to the computations involved in recognizing velocity. The third element of the cycle is observation and is equivalent to position, the observable physical factor. The fourth element of the learning cycle is control.

An example of the learning cycle would be a baby reaching out to touch something (spontaneous action). If a hot object like a flame is encountered, the hand is withdrawn (reaction). Then there follows observation upon the event. Further exploration consciously avoids fire until the learned behavior becomes automatically programmed and spontaneity is resumed. The cycle can be diagrammed:

Young derives a formula for the cycle of action or learning that leads to consciousness. Note that the distance from spontaneous action to conscious control is 3/4 of 360o or 3/4 x 2p which equals 3p/2. The common sense view of the universe is to consider it shaped like a sphere extending infinitely in all directions. However, if we multiply the formula for the volume of a sphere (4pr3/3) by Young's formula for the cycle leading to consciousness, we obtain the formula for the volume of a a torus (donut) with an infinitely small hole (2p2r3). This is significant for Young in that the formula for the volume of the Einstein-Eddington Universe, the boundary region of the so-called hypersphere is also 2p2r3.

Young sees in the torus topology a possible answer to the philosophical problem of the individual (or part, or microcosm) versus the collective (or whole, or macrocosm). In a toroidal universe, a part can be seemingly separate and yet connected with the rest. If we think of the fence as separating the inner from the outer, the torus provides a paradigm that permits us to see a monad as both separated from the rest of the universe by the fence and still connected with everything else through the core. The core of the torus with its infinitely small hole is for Young a representation of inner consciousness.

Young points out that magnetic fields, vortices, and tornados all have the toroidal form. The vortex is furthermore the only manner in which a fluid can move on itself. Thus it is a very suitable shape for the universe to have. However, we must bear in mind that the volume of the torus is three dimensional and is something akin to the surface of the four dimensional hypersphere of Eddington and Einstein.

If we expand upon the "geometry of meaning," we can add eight other measure formula of physics for a total of twelve.

You will recall the logic by which Young determined that length (or position) and its three derivatives divided the circle into four quarters, thus giving the operation of T (time) an angular value of 90o. Through a process of trial and error, Young found that by assuming that M (mass) has the value of 120o and L the value 30o, the measure formula could equally spread around a circle in twelve positions. No proof is given for this assumption. However, when these values are applied to the measure formula and incorporated into the cycle of action we do get the above, symmetrically elegant, results.

Young then found he could assign the different astrological signs to the measure formula according to the appropriateness of the physical and astrological symbolism. Acceleration, at the starting point of our learning cycle, is equated with Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac. Mass control is translated into the sign of Taurus, the bull. Gemini, the sign of knowledge ruled by Mercury, is equated with the physical measure for power. ("After all," says Young, quoting Francis Bacon "Knowledge is Power.") The process continues in a way that is rather reasonable from the standpoint of astrology, if not outrageous to physicists. The results are:

The preceding diagram is Young's "Rosetta Stone," a diagram and subject treated at length in his book The Geometry of Meaning. Its significance lies beyond the traditional realms of either astrology or physics. It may be a perfectly useless intellectual "bead game." On the other hand, it points toward the unification of symbolic meaning with mathematical manipulation. It provides a comprehensive metaphor with which to describe the processes of consciousness. It is also suggestive of a metasystem within which one can integrate the diverse disciplines of human endeavor. Such synergistic approaches are necessary in order to apply the vast resources of our information explosion to the social problems confronting us.

Young's theory fits within the context of historical cosmological speculations beginning with Pythagoras. In earlier cultures, psi phenomena were generally incorporated in the prevailing world view with a great deal of eloquence, if not rational lucidity. They were thought to stem from the heavenly hierarchies and celestial realms believed to interpenetrate or transcend all gross matter. However, in the attempt to be empirically grounded, modern cosmologists in rejecting supernatural elements have also unthinkingly rejected psi. Consciousness itself has been left out of the scientific picture. Something of an operational substitute has been provided by observable behavior.

Arthur Young has attempted to bridge this gap by developing a modern, scientific meta-theory within which one can account for human consciousness and process, including the data of parapsychology. What such a theory leads to is a wholistic view of the universe, oneself, and humankind.

Arthur Young was the founder of the Institute for the Study of Consciousness located in Berkeley, California. The focus of the institute is primarily intellectual or gnostic. It operates under Young's precept that a true understanding of the universe can only be grasped through the exercise of one's full human capacities.

Concluding Thoughts on Astrology

How ironic that Arthur Young's Rosetta Stone would seem to provide a mathematical/physical foundation for the somewhat discredited mythical signs of the Zodiac. On one hand, Young's "geometry of meaning" falls firmly within the Pythagorean tradition. In principle, he seems to be digging into a mathematical structure that offers the potential to unify the mythic-subjective and the scientific-objective aspects of consciousness. This is a quest and a theme to which we will return again and again. However, when one looks at the research in astrology, particularly that of Gauquilin, it seems that the planets and houses fare the best -- while little empirical support is offered for the Zodiacal signs.

To be sure, Arthur Young himself is not disconcerted by this turn of events. He does not view his work as a theory to be fitted within the structure of science. Rather he sees it as a paradigm or model which encompasses science and mythology. From Young's perspective, astrology is not a science. It is a language beyond science that connects us to the realm of mythos. It's validity is ideosyncratic. It deals with the uniqueness of individuals and their connection to the mysterious realm of the gods.

If we view astrology as an ancient folk tradition, we may say that it is derived from several sources: the deep mathematics of Pythagoras, the numenous realm of mythology, the cycles of the seasons and agriculture, the ecology of consciousness, the uncanny planetary influences documented by Gauquilin and his critics, as well as the human need for certainty in the face of the unknown. One might well also add the human propensity for folly.

In dealing with astrology, as well as in dealing with so much more than will be discussed, the one character trait that will most adequately serve us is the ability to tolerate ambiguity. Of course, as any astrologer can tell you, some of us have this trait in greater proportion than others. (If it didn't come rather naturally to me, I doubt whether I would be able to write this book at all.) As psychologist Charles Tart is fond of saying, "I do not believe in astrology; but then, people of my sign never do."

Tart's statement reflects an attitude of humor and irony which is an essential prerequisite for intelligent, sensitive exploration into the murky waters of consciousness. 


. Theodore Roszak, Why Astrology Endures: The Science of Superstition and the Superstition of Science. San Francisco: Robert Briggs Associates, 1980.

. Paul Feyerabend, Science in a Free Society. London: NLB, 1978.

. Ibid., p. 96.

. Lynn Thorndike, op. cit., Vol. VII, 11-32.

. Wolfgang Pauli, "The Influence of Archetypal Ideas on The Scientific Theories of Kepler," in The Interpretation of Nature and The Psyche. New York: Pantheon, 1955. Pauli, a Nobel laureate physicist, was one of the first to inquire into the quantum physics of consciousness. He was known throughout Europe for the poltergeist-like effects which he seemed to have on laboratory equipment (the "Pauli effect"). Pauli studied with Carl Jung who contributed his important essay on synchronicity to this volume.

. Michel Gauquelin, Birthtimes. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983.

. Dennis Rawlins, "sTarbaby," Fate, October 1981, pp. 67-98. 

. Michel Gauquelin, Cosmic Influences on Hunman Behavior, trans. by Joyce E. Clemow. New York: Stein & Day, 1973. 

9. Ertel, Suitbert. "Scientific quality and progressive dynamics within the Gauquelin paradigm," Zeitschrift fur Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie, 28(1/2), 1986, pp. 104-135.

. Gauquilin, Birthtimes. p. 141.

. Carl Gustav Jung, "Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle," in The Interpretation of Nature and The Psyche. New York: Pantheon, 1955, pp. 60-94. Jung's arduous discussion of an important philosophical concept is illustrated by his astrology experiment.

. Walter Boer, Peter Niehenke & Ulrich Timm, "Can 'Accident-Prone Persons' Be Diagnosed in Terms of Astrology? An Exploratory Experiment," Zeitschrift fur Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie, 28(1/2), 1986, 65.

. John A. West & Jan G. Toonder, The Case for Astrology. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1973, pp. 204-209.

. J. E. Vidmar. "Astrological Discrimination Between Authentic and Spurious Birthdates," Cosmology Bulletin, 8/9, 1979.

. Nona Press, "Suicide in New York." Journal of the National Council of Geocosmic Research, 3, 1978.

. J. Mayo, O. White & H. J. Eyesenck, "An empirical study of the relation between astrological factors and personality," Journal of Social Psychology, 105, 1978, 229-36.

. Eysenck, Hans Jurgen. "Scientific Research in Astrology and the Demand for 'Naive' Subjects." Zeitschrift fur Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie, 23(2), 1981, 89-93.

. Geoffrey A. Dean, "Planets and Personality Extremes," Correlation, 1(2), 15-18.

. P. Niehenke, "The Whole is More than the Sum of Its Parts," Astro-Psychological Problems, 1(2), 33-37.

. Michael Startup, "The Astrological Doctrine of 'Aspects': A Failure to Validate With Personality Measures," British Journal of Social Psychology, 24, 1985, 307-315.

. Louise Lacey, Lunaception: The New Revolutionary Natural Way to Control Your Body, Your Life and Your Fertility. New York: Warner Books, 1986.

. Gordon W. Russell, & Jane P. de Graaf, "Lunar cycles and Human Aggression: A Replication," Social Behavior and Personality, 13(2), 1985, 143-146.

. George O. Abell & Bennett Greenspan, "The Moon and the Maternity Ward," Skeptical Inquirer, III(4), Summer 1979, pp. 17-25. This article challenges the notion that birthrates correlate with the phases of the moon and also offers additional evidence countering the alleged correlation of suicide and homocide rates with lunar cycles.

. Carlson, Shawn, "A Double Blind Test of Astrology," Nature, 318, December 5, 1985, 419-425.

. D. H. Saklofske, I. W. Kelly, & D. W. McKerracher. "An Empirical Study of Personality and Astrological Factors," Journal of Psychology, 11, 1982, 275-280. An examination of certain hypothesized relationships between zodiac signs and personality among 214 students finds none. "There were no sgnificant differences between subjects classified according to odd vs. even sign and the personality dimensions of extraversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism. Neuroticism scores were not significantly different between subjects classified according to water and nonwater signs."

. Michel Gauquilin, "Zodiac and Personality: An Empirical Study." Skeptical Inquirer, VI(3), Spring 1982, 57-65.

. Douglas P. Lackey, "A Controlled Test of Perceived Horoscope Accuracy," Skeptical Inquirer, VI(1), Fall 1981, 29-31. People rate "placebo" horoscopes to be as accurate as their own.

. Lester, David. "Astrologers and Psychics as Therapists," American Journal of Psychotherapy, 36(1), January 1982, 56-66.

. Shawn Carlson, private communication, October 6, 1989.

. Michel Gauquelin, The Scientific Basis of Astrology. New York: Stein & Day, 1969. pp. 198-211. Tchijewsky's work is not to my knowledge available, in English.

. Ibid., pp. 211-221. Further information is available in G. Piccardi, The Chemical Basis of Medical Climatology. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1963.

. Ibid.

. Ibid. pp. 222-231. For further reference Gauquelin cites Takata's article in Helvetica Medica Acta, 1950.

. Ibid., pp. 183-184. 

. F. A. Brown, J. Woodland Hastings & John D. Palmer, The Biological Clock--Two Views. New York: Academic Press, 1970. In addition to discussing Brown's evidence of biological rhythms being tied to astronomical cycles, this book discusses the theory of an internally controlled timing mechanism. Both views are necessary for an overall understanding of bio-rhythms.

. G. Edgar Folk, Environmental Physiology. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1966. p. 62.

. Michel Gauquelin, op. cit., p. 48. Gauquelin refers to J. H. Heller & A. A. Teixeira-Pinto, "A New Physical Method of Creating Chromosomal Aberrations," Nature, No. 4645, 1959.

. Charles Muses, Time and Destiny (#S460), in New Pathways in Science (#Q134), videotapes available from Thinking Allowed Productions. For further information write to 2560 Ninth Street, Suite 123, Berkeley, CA 94710 or phone (510) 548-4415.

. Arthur M. Young, The Geometry of Meaning. New York: Delacorte, 1975.

. In the early 1970s, Arthur M. Young & Charles Muses worked together as editors of The Journal for the Study of Consciousness and the anthology Consciousness and Reality.

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