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Astrology & Qaballa
 
 

The tree of life is based on an abstract representation of the Solar System as it was understood in the 14th century CE when it assumed the form we are familiar with today. It was developed from Hebrew and other mystical traditions that stretch much further back than the 14th century and includes ideas from many other sources. One layer of correspondence is mystical, another philosophical, another metaphysical; but the one of most interest to astrologers is the physical. From this comes the notion that the larger cosmos corresponds to the smaller, rather like a hologram. In Qabalistic and Hermetic terms this is expressed by the phrase

'as above, so below'

 
 


This notion is the basis of the astrological theory of correspondence as it is for the metaphysical ones. Fortunately or otherwise, our knowledge of the universe has increased somewhat since the 14th century. We now know that there are invisible planets (to the naked eye) in the solar system - at least Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto - and we know that most comets originate out around Jupiter or in the Kuiper Belt out around Neptune or much further out in the Oort Cloud beyond Pluto. We have also learned a bit about stellar dynamics and the link between the stars and the production of the chemical elements. We've also learned a bit about asteroids and a few other things. We no longer think of the heavens as a set of concentric crystal spheres, nor do we suppose that the heavens beyond the orbit of the Moon are stable and immutable. Nevertheless, astrology, magic and the correspondence theory they are based on still works. Our ideas about how they work and what the new discoveries mean are based on the foundation of the originally developed model. It is serviceable. Yet, it does need some revision and extension.

The metaphysical view has fallen from widespread acceptance for two primary reasons. In 1572, Tycho Brahe in his observations of the nova of that year and his later observations of comets, offered conclusive proof that the heavens were not composed of crystal spheres and were not immutable by his use of parrallax. This is a method of determining the distance of a celestial event from the earth. Prior to this, comets were thought to be within the orbit or sphere of the Moon - transitory phenomena near the earth. This, on top of Copernicus and the discovery that the books of the Hermetica were not so old as the Bible were death blows to the Hermetic world view. Over the next two centuries, it faded. As science grew more popular the invention of the telescope delivered the final blow. The development of the calculus made science much more organized and effective. Increasing population pressure magnified material concerns and the need for social control. By the time of the French Revolution, even religion was suspect. The 'enlightenment' which began after 1700, simply threw the baby out with the bath water. Science was thought to be the eventual solution to all problems and anything spiritual, a problematic superstition that stood in it's way. At least that seems to have been the attitude in the West. An attitude which is weakening but still strong. Generations have been brought up to believe it.

Now with the more tolerant and 'world culture' view of the 21st century, it has again become acceptable (though certainly not everywhere) to reconsider the spiritual dimension. There are strict traditionalists of course, but the obvious road is a fusion of the new discoveries and ideas - the outer planets, comets, neuroscience, quantum physics, highly accurate timing and positional data, and so on - with traditional principles and models. Although Einstein unhinged the clockwork view of Newton in the early 20th century, he did not invalidate it. He merely extended the same ideas to a larger context and showed that the Newtonian view is a special case of a greater scheme. He also showed that the universe is not a clockwork (an idea that Albert, himself, resisted), but rather a chancy or stochastic place.

In considering correspondence theory and qaballa as they relate to astrology, one must explicitly recognize fate, will and chance. Without fate, all structures would dissolve in the boundless. Think of fate as a variation o the idea that an acorn becomes an oak rather than an apple tree. Without independent Will (notice I did not say Free Will which is something of an oxymoron) ,there would be no individuality and perhaps no life. Incarnation would be a limited and possibly pointless exercise and there would be no magic. Without chance, nothing would change. All three are essential in a useful model of reality. All three operate on all levels of this reality. Anything or anyone not subject to all three does not exist in this universe. This is an important philosophical point. Every event consists of these three factors in varying degrees, including every human action. There are no absolutes. This, in a 'scenic drive' sort of way, brings us back to the Platonic notion of Ideas. These are the templates or archetypes of events, objects, personalities. Their realizations are never 'pure'. They exist as abstracts which support or underpin the fabric of reality. They are most obvious in general terms as the sephira or intersection points of the cosmological model. From an astrological point of view, these intersections correspond to the major principles represented by the planets and points of interest used to make predictions, give descriptions, answer questions, or time magical activities. They do indeed represent more than this and this view is not the original interpretation as far as I know. Yet, for our purposes here, this is the essence of the notion.

Fusion astrology rests on fusion cosmology. The material presented here uses traditional principles to incorporate modern discoveries. The presentation is intended to be of more use and insight to astrologers than others but should provide some food for thought to everyone. It may answer some questions about how things work if not always why they work that way. All explanations, whether of scientific processes or metaphysical ones ( and often of our own behavior), are actually rationalizations after the fact used to explain mysteries. They are really all we've got but sometimes they are illuminating. This is one of the instances in which gnosis and experience is sometimes a better guide than rationality.

If we wish to take these advances in our understanding of the cosmos into account in this abstract model, it simplifies matters to retain a roughly one to one correspondence between the physical phenomena we observe and the philosophical principles they represent, not to mention their corresponding manifestations. In the process of rethinking this model it is necessary to retain the principles of the original which have served so well and use them along with observable evidence in making revisions. This means that science and metaphysics, tradition and new insights, must be used cooperatively rather than in opposition. The first problem is the underlying philosophy.

The models we have are based largely on the Hermetic and Neoplatonic world views and the astronomical and metaphysical knowledge of the 14th century. These ideas do have older roots and themselves represent a synthesis of preceding views. The thing to remember is that the principles of astrology and magic endured for many centuries because they were reliable in making predictions and producing results. This reliability was and is grounded in correspondence theory. Correspondences of the physical to the spiritual and of both to observable changes in the heavens. Science, arguably developed from magic by extending the same insistence on reliable correspondence and observable results to the purely material world. While science uses mathematics, the magician and astrologer use the principles of alchemical combination as revealed in the heavens. Both have good track records for prediction and producing results. Yet, neither is infallible. One stresses the spiritual, the other stresses the material. Both have models of reality, of how things work. Both are living, evolving traditions, and both require dedicated study. What we present here is the distillation of an ongoing effort to develop a functional model that unites science and metaphysics through a focus on astrology. Links to other, more traditional presentations are also included.

Trees & Models

One approach to this is to use an abstract model referred to as a tree.There are several models in existence.  Links to  some of these and some alternatives are given at the right.  The Trees are abstract models of the Solar System, presumably the Aeon and Aethyr models include our system.  This is not an exhaustive list.             Trees
Golden Dawn/Hebrew
Arian - emphasizes Daath
Montreal  the version used with fusion methods here 
Trees of Eternity based on AL II.76
      Spheres and Aethyrs
Gnostic Aeons
Enochian Aethyrs

These models go on to provide numerous layers of correspondence and methods for applying those correspondences. A fairly thorough presentation of the Hebrew Correspondences can be found at Heidrick's Magical Correspondence. A recent entry is a new model called the Trees of Eternity derived from The Book of the Law (Liber Al). The version you will see here can be seen as a bridge between the traditional Trees and the Trees of Eternity, but it's purpose is to provide a model that takes into account advances in our understanding of the Cosmos in the theory of astrology and in the art of ceremonial design; not to resolve or contribute to ongoing controversies about metaphysical cosmology.

This view is primarily astrological but the Trees of Eternity model can be folded doubling the 14 points within the circle of 0 to form a crystal. Using both the ecliptic and the path of the Moon as reference circles one has a model which conjoins the Sun and the Moon, so to speak.

Polarities

One of the keys to the astrological model is the notion of polarity. In modern astrology, the polarities emphasize the sexual Sun/Moon, Mars/Venus and the large in contrast to the small : Mercury/Jupiter. Traditionally and the approach taken by fusion is the alchemical and the sensual/mental polarities. This scheme is reflected in the essential dignities and the arrangement of the Tree of Life. the polar pairs are Neptune/Pluto, Sun/Uranus, Moon/Saturn, Mars/Jupiter, and Mercury/Venus with the Earth, as is the case in traditional and astrological correspondence, as the pendant and point of view/place of manifestation. At the base of the outside pillars of Mercy and Severity are Venus and Mercury, the first pair of mental/sensual polarities. Their conjunctions with the Sun also form the pentagram (Venus) and the hexagram (Mercury). There is also a crossover or twist in the middle of the pillars with sensual (sometimes brutal) Mars on the Severity side and mental Jupiter on the Mercy side, but this is traditional and makes sense in terms of the structure and experience. The chief departures from tradition are the attribution of Pluto to Binah or sphere 3 to conform to its polarity with Neptune and the nature of that sphere. Saturn is moved to Daath or sphere 11 in polarity with the Moon at Yesod or 9 and Uranus is placed in Kether or the 1st sphere in polarity with the Sun at Tiphareth or 6. The nodes of the Moon and the limit at which Sol can hold planets are attributed to the intersections but are not really considered spheres as the others. Surrounding the Tree proper we have the zodiac as the arena of manifestation represented by the ecliptic and the signs of the zodiac. Above that this tree further articulates the 'veils' by attributing comets, meteors, novas, fixed stars, apparitions, and deep space phenomena to the points of a hexagram. At the heart of the hexagram is also the notion of a galaxy or universe and the essential elements from which it is built in the hearts of stars. This point is shared with the one attributed to the fixed stars.

Apologies for the technical material but correspondence theory is like that. The Montreal Arrangement used by fusion astrology is consistent with theory and reliable in application. There is a slight problem with the fact that it differs in a few important particulars from tradition although it is, for the most part, an extension of traditional thinking . This cosmological model which rests on modern astronomical information and the alchemical theories of tradition is used as the basis for practical applications of correspondence in astrological and other kinds of analysis.

The correspondences for the Montreal arrangement have been tested but are not fully elaborated. The theory for them is based on the astronomical nature of the components of the physical plane and the correspondences and results of astrology. They have been found useful in tarot and ceremonial design. They reflect our best estimates of the philosophical and practical matching of the cosmic elements of the Solar system and it's environs with the connotations of the spheres and other structural elements of the Tree.

The presentation of any model requires some explanation and an outline of supporting correspondence.  Links at the right are intended for this purpose. Montreal with basic correspondence
Essays on Number
Notes on Gematria
The Trees of Eternity and The Montreal Arrangement
Mathematica
The Astronomical Basis

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