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The Astrological Journal

Chaos and Order in Astrology

by A.T. Mann

Chaos and orderWe trust the accuracy and precision of astrology, yet paradoxically need its randomness to allow a sense of freedom. Even though increasingly powerful computer software is available to us, the accuracy of astrology still leaves a high degree of uncertainty in prediction and psychology. It is in this area that we realise the freedom of will and individuality that is so central to modern life.

Chaos theory grew out of the realisation that any living system goes through phases of order and also phases in which it exhibits chaotic behaviour. Even amidst apparently incoherent natural systems, order lurks amidst the chaos, ready to emerge. I believe that we can learn much from such ideas, which are a counterpart to the idea that reality is some kind of machine that is ultimately mechanical and predictable.

If you think about it, when we time an astrological 'event' to a particular moment of culmination, by the time that happens the event has already formed and its action is almost complete. In order to find those moments when we have greater freedom to act or better creative traction, we should really look at the unformed or chaotic times between the series of exact astrological events. By the time the event happens, it is too late to change it, except in retrospect.

Parallels between chaos theory and astrology teach us about important principles that we can use creatively to be more accurate and penetrating in our astrology work. Utilising the principles of 'fractal branching' and understanding the mechanism of 'strange attractors' inherent in nature and reflected in the horoscope make aspect interpretation far more accurate.

Using my Life Time Astrology techniques, we come to understand the either-or choices raised by two-planet aspect interpretation in a different light, which provides greater accuracy and added information for using astrological knowledge. The principles of chaos theory applied to Life Time Astrology leads to the creation of a 'micro-astrology' which will transform your practice.

Life Time Astrology

The principle of Life Time Astrology is that everything is eternally changing, that impermanence is a principle of life, and that there is a dynamic way of perceiving and living.1

We imagine that the earth orbits around our static sun, returning annually to the same place where it started, but this is far from being the case. Our sun is in one of two logarithmic spiral rings that orbit around the Milky Way's galactic centre at an astonishing velocity of about 500,000 miles per hour or 12 million miles a day, pulling the planets along with it, which makes their orbits appear to be spiral filaments around the blazing central path of the sun. The tightly wound innermost spiral is Mercury, followed by Venus, Earth and Mars. Outside the haze of the asteroid belt, the outer planets dance in stately fashion. Along the length of the sun's path, each spiral revolution of the Earth around the sun is one year. The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter appears as a haze of smaller bodies, while the outer planets gracefully arch their way through time and space. The inner planets are wound tightly and the outer planets soar along at a distance. This spiralling pattern has been likened to a step-down transformer of cosmic energies originating from the galactic centre, each planetary spiral describing a different frequency range.2 The overall picture shows that planetary movements are patterns in time that describe an ongoing process of development.

SpiralThe horoscope is a slice through this spiralling circus on the date of birth, angled to reflect one's exact birth time and place. What this image shows is that life is  not only the birth/slice, but is a dynamic sequence of events in time. Although we use the birth time as a convention for calculating the horoscope, in reality we enter this space-time continuum at conception, approximately nine months earlier, and we are subject to the laws of space and time until we die at the end of our life. We therefore describe a length of the solar system in time, a spiral pattern of life.

This spiralling pattern looks and functions very much like the double helix of the genetic code. Indeed it is my contention that the spiral solar system in the macrocosm resonates3 (exchanges information both ways) with the DNA molecule within every living cell in the microcosm. In a sense, as in the famous axiom of Hermes Trismegistus, “As above, so below”, we quite literally have a miniature solar system within every cell in our body. This image embodies a complete change of perspective and conforms very closely to the modern process-oriented psychotherapeutic models of life – that life is a process in time, beginning at conception and extending to death, and beyond into the transcendental realm. As we age, we develop a succession of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual 'bodies', each of which represents a finer level of energy and a higher way of being.

Life information is encoded in the structure of the spiralling DNA, reflected in the galactic model. In the diagram, the path of the sun is shown as a straight line, but when the path of the earth is the central viewpoint, it is a spiral within the sun's apparent spiralling path. The question is, how can the cosmic process be understood and applied to personal life?

The horoscope is a slice through the spiralling pattern of the solar system at the time of birth, and the planets have a predictable movement ahead, after birth through life. When the circle of life is graded according to our changing perspective of time, we can see the sequence of planets unfold from conception through life.

Our changing perception of time

phasesWe measure time with clocks, but our perception of time is subjective, regulated by our inner biological and psychological 'clocks'. Time passes slowly during childhood, but as we age, time passes much more quickly, until by middle age it seems to fly by, until Martin Amis calls it “the bullet train of the 50s”, when time flies by. Everyone experiences this phenomenon, which is central to our understanding of astrology, and this relativity of time can have a revolutionary impact on the way we use astrology and live our lives. Our time sense constantly changes because it is determined by our changing metabolism. The younger we are, the faster our metabolism and the slower time passes, while the older we are, the slower our metabolism and the faster time seems to pass.

When we grade our lifetime according to this logarithmic time, there are three developmental 'octaves' of life – Gestation, Childhood and Maturity – which are unequal in calendar time, but equal perceptually, energetically and psychologically. When the time scale is wrapped around the archetypal horoscope, each octave occupies four houses associated with the four elements. The Ascendant is the birth moment; the Childhood octave extends through the first four houses; and Maturity begins at the 5th cusp and extends to the 9th cusp. This leaves the 9th-12th houses as the Gestation octave. The conception point and the death point coincide at the 9th cusp, justifying the traditional attribution of Scorpio and 8th-house qualities relating to death, while Sagittarius and the 9th house are rebirth and higher mind. The beginning and end of life join, like the ouroburos snake biting its tail.

The registration of the planets describes events in life occurring at specific times from conception to old age; archetypal and individual psychological mechanisms which determine character and behaviour, influential people in our life and their equivalent inner mechanisms, bodily glands, organ systems, times of their development and release and the pattern of our health.4 Because the time scale integrates biological time with astrology, the resultant sequence also describes our biological as well as our psychological development process. The synthesis creates a revolutionary picture of our whole life, based on mathematically derived principles reflecting our changing sense of time: a valuable tool in psychotherapy, healing, psychiatry, the raising of children, in relationships, executive placement, work on the self and individual awareness for personal growth.

The planets represent the people who create or carry projected influences in your life, the equivalent psychological mechanisms within you, the body organs or glands that reflect this process biologically. For example, as Venus is love, art, creativity and integration, it is also glands and their products, so when Venus registers, it indicates highly emotional situations that activate excessive glandular activity. They do not necessarily cause each other, but rather reflect and resonate with each other on different levels. Venus shows emotions deeply affecting in gestation the physical body, in childhood the personality, and in maturity our ideas and ability to communicate and relate to others. The octave of each planet is a critical factor in determining not only when it registered, but also on which level it functions. Factoring in the element of the sign brings another opportunity to be specific to the equation.

Aspects connect planetary archetypes as in traditional astrology, but in Life Time Astrology they have other obvious functions. They connect events and personifications (or subpersonalities) which register at different stages of life through time. A constellation of planets can be dated, and when each planet registers, events associated with the others are evoked. An afflicted Mars in the 3rd, which can indicate childhood abuse, in quincunx with Saturn in the early 7th house of marital relationships in the early twenties, can show that one changes from being a victim to an abuser through the frustration (quincunx aspect quality) of a difficult relationship. In a sense, the aspects are time links connecting planets together in energetic webs which show the times of their manifestation throughout the life process.

The natal position of a planet shows the time in life when it acts most strongly or archetypally, but that is not the only time its influence can be experienced. It will also be experienced at all of its aspect 'sensitive' points around the circle, in a form determined by the quality of the aspect and the house and sign in which it registers. For example, if the natal registration of the sun shows a time when you identified with your father, the opposition point will show when you reacted against such identification. It also creates a fascinating pattern of aspects which can be useful indeed. Such sequences of three sensitive points allow more detailed interpretation from either Ebertin's Combination of Stellar Influences or Sandbach and Ballard's Planets in Containment. These books allow us to look at two and three planet combinations and interpret their meaning.

Oprah WinfreyWe all see the same spiralling pattern from within, but from a succession of relative vantage points. What makes us unique as individuals is that the sequence of planetary influences in life is different. A Life Time reading describes the planets around the circle from the 9th cusp/conception point as we develop through three octaves: Gestation (creation of a physical body from mother's viewpoint), Childhood (creation of an emotional body within the family system), and Maturity (creation of a mental body in the world). The times when planets register in this process determine the ages at which formative influences happen to us. The planets show what individual or principle carried or caused those influences as well as their equivalent sub-personalities within our psyche, and the aspect connections show how each event relates to other earlier and later events in our life. In the accompanying horoscope you can see the dating wheel within the horoscope – the planet registration times are read off from this wheel, as the horoscope of the American media superstar Oprah Winfrey demonstrates. The dates in her early life, within her mother during gestation and in early childhood, reflect her life story of abandonment and dysfunctional family dynamics.

The fractal horoscope

Definitions of holistic, chaotic systems are applicable to astrology: one such principle is their fractal nature. Fractals are mathematical processes that replicate particular patterns simultaneously, at many different scales, but which are very simple to describe in mathematical terms. They are often called 'self-similar' in that they are a bounded set of possibilities, containing infinite detail, but within finite boundaries, which is a good description of one's life in time.

The fractal patterns we have all seen are created with very few numbers and simple equations. Astrology is fractal in this sense: all the variety of the horoscope is described by a short series of numbers describing a date, a birth time, and place coordinates. That is all we need to discover the infinite variety of a life.

An example of this fractal nature in astrology is that the Life Time pattern describes life from conception past birth, into childhood, maturity and through until death, a bit like the Buddhist 'Wheel of Samsara', sometimes called the wheel of life. However, every day your natal Ascendant, Midheaven, and each planet in the chart passes your local horizon, culminates, sets and completes its daily route, so that your life pattern is also triggered on a diurnal level. Similarly, the Moon circumscribes the chart each month, the Sun each year and the other planets in their unique cycles. Thus a similar pattern of your entire chart is replicated on different scales throughout different planetary cycles. We therefore have the opportunity to observe and experience every element of our charts on each of these scales, throughout our lifetime.

ASpringAnother example of fractal nature is that if you have Venus at 20° of Virgo, then Venus will be 'triggered' or activated in an oppositional way when any planet or angle passes 20° Pisces, and it will be reinforced when 15° Taurus or 15° Capricorn are activated. Similarly, all the other 'sensitive' points of that position around the horoscope register at different times, seen through the lens of its new signs. It is as though we experience different versions of that Virgo Venus at each of these points around the circle. In the example above, the sensitive square from Venus registers at 20° Gemini and is near natal Saturn, becoming part of a Venus-Saturn square aspect. In chaos language, that original Venus in Virgo is 'perturbed' by its proximity to Saturn, which will tend to inhibit it, or restrain it, or define it, and in these ways we can either reinforce the way we tend to act when Venus is activated, or we can try to change it.

Another issue is raised by observing the nature of the sequence of such aspect sensitive points around the horoscope. We tend to think of an aspect between Venus and Saturn as a confluence of qualities, a blend of the two natures. If you read common texts, you find that there is one definition of Venus-Saturn. However, since I use the sequence of influences as significant, for me it matters a lot whether Venus comes first and then Saturn, as in this case, or alternatively Saturn and then Venus – a very different aspect. In the first case, a Venus love or valuation leads to a Saturn decision or definition, or even a sense of restriction, while when Saturn is first followed by Venus, a time of decision leads to feeling more loving and open. You can see easily how different these are and hence how powerful such a distinction can be. This is particularly so because the sequence (of Venus first, then Saturn) will happen in all positions around the horoscope, but when transits, progressions, or solar arcs pass them, they will always happen in that sequence, unless there is a retrograde. For each aspect combination you have, there is really only one way in which it sequences.

When traditional texts describe the aspects of the planets and AS, MC, and North Node, there are 78 combinations, where the aspects combine qualities. However, when we sequence aspects, there are more options, as each aspect pair can be seen in two different ways, and there are 13 x 13 combinations, making a total of 169 different aspects. This is more than double the possibilities of the traditional way and therefore it can be twice as specific..

When you look at the sequence of sensitive points in the horoscope fragment above, you can also see that each pair is followed (and preceded) by the ongoing sequence of planet-sensitive points. When we include strings of three planets (or angles), the ability to be specific increases yet again. I call these 'triplets', and there is an exponential increase in specificity as the possibilities now are 13 x 13 x 13, which is an astonishing 2197 different variations.

growthIn chaos theory there is a principle called bifurcation or period doubling, which is a principle that when possible futures fork and split, they create feedback loops that enable one to discover a pattern amidst what appears like a chaotic system. The diagram shows various levels of bifurcation, such as the octaves in music and dimensions in geometry, together with the types of aspect combinations we have discussed. The more possible combinations, the more precise the resultant interpretations. When we describe the three-point planetary sequences or triplets and discover that they describe principles relevant to our clients, we have identified a valuable dynamic for them to observe in their life and a principle to work with.

Life Time ArcsI started many years ago using the planetary combinations described by Ebertin in The Combination of Stellar Influences as a way of interpreting such three-point sequences, and this process became easier when I created computer programs that produced the list of planetary sensitive points from conception to old age. The illustraton on the left is a segment of such a list, now available as standard in all Matrix astrology computer programs. It is quite easy to use this list to see the sequences of planets and exactly when they occur in your life.

The spiral of life

Spiral lifeWhile the horoscope is a circle, its true form is a spiral. When the horoscope circle is place horizontally and extended along a time axis, like the solar system through time, it generates a cylinder, with the centre of the horoscope as a central axis. (See the centre of figure on the right.) We go down from birth to the conception point, and above through the life process. The ascent of consciousness spirals around the periphery of the cylinder, moving around the circle at the same time. The horoscope is a slice through the cylinder at the time of birth, although theoretically the slice can be (and is) taken by astrologers at any point. As we age, the cylinder fills up with experiences like a cylindrical vase with water. The present moment and the veil of consciousness are the surface of the water at any given moment.

In psychotherapy, we gradually dip more and more deeply into the cylinder, bringing the most recent psychic contents into consciousness. With work and insight we probe deeply down into our past, with the goal of extending all the way back towards conception. Indeed, we could say that childhood is our personal unconscious, in a Jungian sense that it contains all memories of our early life of which we tend to remain unaware, and gestation, those experiences we receive while in the womb, correspond to the collective unconscious, the archetypal psychic patterns we share with all humanity. This correlation is further enhanced by understanding that during gestation we start as a fertilised ovum, and develop through the entire evolutionary process of life on this planet, leaving traces in our brain, bodily organs and systems, and our physiology itself.

This spiral echoes the original spiral of the solar system, and reinforces the idea that our life is a process in time, a progression from the bounds of the biological to personality development in childhood, to the mental world of adulthood. But there is another dimension available to us. There is a transcendent or transpersonal octave, within which we create a spiritual body. Transcendence is the higher octave of Gestation, and is a knowing and experiential return to the collective unconscious, to the womb of the mother, to the mystery of male-female relationship, but on a higher level. Indeed, this fourth dimension is the culmination and synthesis of the entire process of life and our goal in achieving unity with the world.

In recent years the metaphor of the resonance between the spiralling solar system and the DNA molecule is becoming more and more relevant. The sequencing of the four base pairs of DNA to discover the function of genes is done using triplets, called codons, which is a similar process to the triune sequences of planetary influences in the horoscope. It might even be that in using and working with such three-point combinations we are discovering an astrological equivalent of decoding the very genes of life.

Notes:
1 See my books Life Time Astrology (Element, 1984 & 1991) and A New Vision of Astrology (Pocket Books, 2003) for further information.
2 Collin called it the “long body of the solar system” and treated it like an organism with its own natural laws. See The Theory of Celestial Influence in the note below.
3 Cf. The revolutionary concept of the morphogenetic field postulated by the biologist Rupert Sheldrake in A New Science of Life: the Hypothesis of Formative Causation, Blond & Briggs, London, 1981.
4 Mann, Astrology and the Art of Healing, Unwin Hyman/Harper Collins, London, 1988.

First published by: The Astrological Journal, Sep/Okt 2010

Author:
A.T. MannTad Mann has a B.Arch from Cornell University and has been an astrologer since 1972. His many books include The Round Art, A New Vision of Astrology and Mandala Astrological Tarot. He writes online reports for tarot.com about Astro- Reincarnation, the MATY and others. He lives in New York. www.atmann.net

Image sources:
All charts provided by the author © A.T. Mann
Image fractal: CC0 Creative Commons, via pixabay.com

© A.T. Mann - 2010/2018

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Current Planets
21-Feb-2018, 04:14 UT/GMT
Sun228'34"10s35
Moon52'19"8n18
Mercury530'24"11s08
Venus1246'17"8s06
Mars1535'23"22s16
Jupiter2249'29"17s21
Saturn642'21"22s23
Uranus2535'37"9n23
Neptune1330' 7"7s19
Pluto2025'10"21s31
TrueNode1449'36"r16n23
Chiron2647'51"1n55
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