Since we’ve been taking time to cover the Saturn/Neptune square in depth, let’s turn the dynamic once more and this time look at it from the perspective of Neptune’s glamorizing or romanticizing of Saturn.
Let’s start by asking ourselves a simple question…is there anything in your life right now that is becoming more conservative, focused, serious, structured, disciplined, sober, or committed? Is there any new way of thinking or seeing that comes from the past that you are currently entertaining or learning about? Is there some new form of art or science or philosophy or religion that you’ve recently become more interested in? And then a second question that might not make as much sense…what is it about the “style” or “aesthetic” of this that is so appealing to you right now? Is there something you find beautiful about what you’re newly interested in? And are you as aware of that component of your interest as you are the ideas, the approach, the discipline, or the structure itself?
I’ve had to consider this idea for myself lately as I’ve been deeply interested in traditional astrology for going on a year now but have rarely paused to reflect upon the aesthetic, the art, or the “image” of traditional astrology. Why does it please my soul, or what images of beauty does it offer me? It can be especially difficult to reflect upon this level of things with Saturn in Sagittarius because the element of fire seems to compel the mind into actions rather than the subtler and more feminine reflections of, say, water. Nonetheless, within the Saturn/Neptune square Neptune is very much inflecting upon the fiery Centaur a certain subtle body of images and imaginative power. In fact, it might safely be said that any good renaissance happens as a result of the imagination of a past era coming back strongly…in addition to its philosophical assumptions becoming relevant again.
A few nights ago, I was reading Manilius to my daughter before bed. My wife made a comment that prompted me to grab my copy and start reading it to her. She said, “When you’re really thinking about something you always look up like you’re looking at something in the sky, even though I know you’re not really focusing on anything above your head.” I said, “I think that’s why I’m an astrologer.” Then I said, “but you know, the poet really does the same thing. They are in the practice of thinking with a cast gaze in some direction. Towards an object, into the earth, up into the sky. When we think or reflect in a direction, especially when problem solving, we’re engaging the poetic side of the brain with the problem solving part. That’s how I think about it. And astrology’s symbolism is like that too.”
My wife said, “Is there any connection between poetry and astrology traditionally?” And I said, “In fact there is!”
(Now picture one of those cartoons where an overly excited toon jumps up and starts spinning their legs in a furious circle not going anywhere). I went and grabbed my copy of Manilius and I said, “check this out Virginia.” My wife was like, “And me too!?!” “Yes, you too, but this is important for her astrological training. Never too early to get started.”
Manilius was a first century astrologer who wrote his astrological textbook in verse. At the outset of his project, he writes, “By the magic of song to draw down from the heaven god-given skills and fate’s confidants, the stars, which by the operation of divine reason diversify the chequered fortunes of mankind; and to be the first to stir with these new strains the nodding leaf-capped woods of Helicon, as I bring novel offerings untold by any before me: this is my aim…Now is heaven the readier to favour those who search out its secrets, eager to display through a poet’s song the riches of the sky…It is my delight to traverse the very air and spend my life touring the boundless skies, learning of the constellations and the contrary motions of the planets. But this knowledge alone is not enough. A more fervent delight is it to know thoroughly the very heart of the mighty sky, to mark how it controls the birth of all living beings through its signs, and to tell thereof in verse with Apollo tuning my song. Two altars with flame kindled upon them shine before me; at two shrines I make my prayer, beset with a twofold passion, for my song and for its theme. The poet must sing to a fixed measure, and the vast celestial sphere rings in his ears besides, scarce allowing even words of prose to be fitted to their proper phrasing.”
“Wow, that’s so beautiful,” my wife said afterward.
“I’m not sure how many astrologers tried to combine lyricism with theory, but at the very least it’s comforting to know people were trying to do it a really long time ago.”
Then my wife said, “That reminds me a lot of the way you think and write about astrology.”
Then it dawned on me…right…one of the most obvious reasons I’m currently so drawn to the study of traditional astrology is because I find it beautiful. Can we ever underestimate the power of beauty within whatever ideas, philosophies, or commitments we hold in our life?
Saturn sometimes likes to forget the poetry of the approach.
Prayer: Show us the poetics of our convictions…remind us of the poem within the philosophy