The 21st Century could be seen as an impersonal place. Whatever we need is simply a mouse click away; there’s no need to deal with people of we don’t want to and everything, including communication, can be dealt with from behind the anonymous safety of a computer screen. Our lives have become faster and, as a result, the demand for convenience has increased.
There are gadgets and devices that will monitor your physical health, ensure that you are eating well and even help you organise an exercise program. However, the interest in ‘New Age’ practices such as astrology are not diminishing - they are actually increasing. So why, in an age of science, do we still feel the need to turn to this particular practice?
Extending psychology upwards
Professor Armand Diaz is a consciousness researcher and psychologist at the Columbia University in America. In addition, he is also a practising astrologer. His belief is that astrology is at the forefront of a movement that simply cannot be tracked or monitored by technology; a movement that centres around transpersonal psychology and our innate desire to communicate with a higher force. He says that: “Researchers are extending psychology upwards, linking it with mystical states to embrace spirituality. Co-ordinating fields of information both old and new, integral theorists are creating a truly holistic approach to the many ways of knowing that are part of the human experience.”
In short, what Professor Armand seems to be saying is that while science has given us great steps forward in maintaining our physical health and even to some degree advancements in maintaining our mental health, there is one part of the trinity of self that is being overlooked. Of mind, body and soul, our spiritual state is one that technology doesn’t yet have a handle on, and it is this that is in danger of being pushed to one side.
What is divination?
An important aspect of any astrological reading is divination; the astrologer divines the energies that are influencing our lives and makes them pertinent to our individual existences. Translated literally, to divine means to contact the mind of God. Whether there is a higher being in charge of cosmic order is the subject of debate. But Diaz believes that the act of divination is a means “…for accessing information that isn’t available through the senses or our other usual approaches to life – such as thinking, logic and feeling and so on. Astrology is a means of divination because it’s a way of interfacing the physical world as well as the underlying symbolic patterns that inform the cosmos.”
All this talk of interfacing and information may make the process sound similar to some form of technology, but there is more to divination than simply being to receive cosmic data. Divination also offers the human touch, against a backdrop where this is becoming the exception, not the rule. Divination offers perspective for most people most of the time. Professor Diaz suggests that: “It isn’t about what’s going to happen. It’s about understanding the patterns involved and the kinds of choices that are open to us.” Unlike the options given by technology, there are no right or wrong answers and there may be no immediate pay-off, but what astrology does give is the idea that we have some control in our lives, although we may be influenced by the energies that the heavenly bodies are generating.
As Professor Diaz says: “It’s a little like a weather forecast – meteorologists tell you if it’s going to be sunny or rain. But they don’t tell you if you are going to be dry or wet because they assume you’ll take the information they are giving you and make an informed choice.”
Freedom where we have none
It seems that astrology offers us freedom where we feel we may have none. The technological age is an arena of actions and consequences, but little choice; if you want this product, click on it, if you want to lose this much weight, eat this amount of calories. The world is very much geared towards our physical existence but, in the face of economic recession and politicians who are perceived as self-serving and corrupt, there is an outpouring of artistic, musical and literary protest; symptoms of a collective unconscious unhappy with the directions that we are all forced to take.
Astrology gives an overview of life as a whole and explains the roles we play in our own lives, as well as the lives of others. Far from being the collated statistics that we are exposed to on a daily basis, astrology offers us a look at our lives and the collective responsibilities we bear to each other and ourselves. It is concerned with our spiritual states and how we can facilitate our spiritual development.
Professor Diaz’ explanation boils astrology down to its nuts and bolts. “Astrology tells us what we have packed in our bags for our evolutionary journey, but not how much progress we have made along the way.” In a world where our existence is becoming that much more automated and our need for spiritual thought is being quelled and quashed, astrology gives us an outlet through which we can consider how and why we are living, in a slightly tangential and spiritually-nourishing way. Compassion and awareness of others are in danger of being phased out, yet studying the stars and their symbolic undercurrents are away of reviving our interest in ourselves and in others.
For some, astrology will always be the preserve of tree-huggers and hippies. However, in the last 50 years there has been serious challenge to the idea that the ‘real’ world is the only plane of existence. Researchers are becoming more convinced of the idea that our conscious and unconscious minds are as much part of our existence as our physical forms; that we exist on a separate plane. The harder we try and suppress something, the more it will seek to find a way to express itself. The current global malaise that affects our moods and ambitions is a symptom of our collective dissatisfaction with our spiritual malnourishment. While science may feed us, it is astrology that can help to sustain us.