Astrological Symbols Vary
With Context and Consciousness

July 2010

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In the last post in this series, we explored the fundamental mismatch between Science’s insistence on objective truth and astrology’s – especially psychological astrology’s – provision of subjective truth, that is to say, truth that depends upon the particular subject to which it applies, and that potentially varies from subject to subject.

Let’s say that we acknowledge this limitation. With knowledge of the subjective context, can’t we still be objective in our interpretation of the symbolism? After all, shouldn’t astrologers at least be able to agree within a fairly broad ballpark what Sun in Cancer, for example, means?

Supposing we agree, for the moment, that we’re talking strictly about psychological astrology. If we have a client with Sun in Cancer, and we tell her what most astrologers would agree Sun in Cancer means, then aren’t we being objective and thus scientific in our approach to astrology? Again, I say the answer is, “No.”

Let’s give ourselves a little reality check here. What can we say about Sun in Cancer that would be definitive?

Sun in Cancer describes “an emotionally sensitive person.” Does this sound like a reasonably safe statement?

What about Sun in Cancer conjunct Saturn and square the Moon? Think of George W. Bush (1) proceeding calmly with a photo-op at a Florida grade school after being informed that the Twin Towers were being bombed. Or – with the aid of his “compassionate” conservatives – trying to justify the use of torture, or preemptive strikes, or the suspension of habeas corpus. Emotionally sensitive? I don’t think so.

Sun in Cancer “likes to take care of other people.”

What about Sun in Cancer conjunct Pluto and square Uranus? Think of Imelda Marcos (2), known as the Steel Butterfly for her selfish indulgence of the perks of political status, without much regard at all for the needs of her people. When asked to justify her extravagance in a country wracked by widespread poverty, she claimed it was her "duty" to be "some kind of light, a star to give [the poor] guidelines." Is this a Sun in Cancer who likes to take care of people? It doesn’t appear to be.

Sun in Cancer “is a homebody, who stays close to home.”

My ex-partner (3), who has Sun in Cancer trine Jupiter in the 4th house, moved from London to Kenya when she was two weeks old, and by the time she was 20, had lived in 7 different countries on 5 different continents. She continues to travel frequently to this very day. Is this what we would think of as a typical Sun in Cancer?

What exactly is a typical Sun in Cancer? Science at least demands a rational explanation. Can we give them one? Or is Sun in Cancer more like a word, whose meaning depends upon the linguistic context – or the sentence – in which it is used – say like the word, “piece.” Would you like a piece of cake? When you lost the game of chess, how many pieces were left on the board? Was Lefty packing a piece when he broke into your house? It’s the same word, but its meaning changes with context. I believe the same is true of astrological symbols.

If an astrological statement means anything at all, insists science, its meaning ought to be consistent. But our experience shows us it is not. Astrological symbols are quite protean, changing within the context of their relationship to other symbols in the same birthchart.

The next post in this series is The Participatory Experience of Astrology is Not Predictable by Science

To read more blog posts, go here.