While in a somewhat bah-humbug holiday mood I recently noted some of the (fortunately) few negative reviews of my composite chart book, which inevitably complained that it was too much a self-indulgent cookbook with second-person readings that said “you attract this” and “you behave like that” like some Sun-sign column or just another plug-in, online computer astrology report. I’ve read the same complaints about my Lunar Returns and even Planets In Love. And, you know, I couldn’t agree more. The important, individual essence of those books is covered in the introductory third of each (which most readers skip – sadly, as that’s the heart of it all) and the rest is, well, report text, as required by the publishers. [Of course, there is no reason you can’t learn plenty from that, about every individual sign, house, and aspect, if you just ignore that annoying second person subject.] But, interestingly, they’re all still in print, whereas one of the best books I ever wrote, Uranus, which had no such report-style section, became ancient history overnight. Go find a copy.
In the “old” days, before there was such a thing as a computer report (or much of a popular market for astrology), general astrology books put individual placement analysis in the third person – “such an aspect would indicate a person inclined to…etc., etc.” Much more formally didactic, but it didn’t sell very many books. In fact, it was only with the “Planets In” series that publishers began to adopt the now-universal computer report format (both to plug the text into commercial reports and to make it more personal to the new public who cared more about an individual read than actually studying astrology). That was 1977, and here we are today – with the emphasis still on the boring and self-centered. Please, tell me more about myself, do go on…
But it’s not just a publisher-consumer commercial conceit. Most of astrology is geared to learning about yourself, how you behave, your problems, how everything affects you, with the tacit presumption that you are really the center of the universe, and that knowing yourself is the key to knowing everything. Our encounters with science display the delusion as well. It’s why we keep looking for explanations of how the planets might affect us individually (so deftly thwarted by the inverse-square gravitation law) instead of looking at how they might explain the structure that surrounds us, so we can better understand how we fit into it. Even Western religion agrees, or has since the Reformation when we decided we could talk to God on a first-name basis, without any intercessors required. No more need for hosts of angels, saints, and ministers, you have a personal appointment with Jesus, and He’d better not be late. It’s been a very isolated, self-centered world-view for a long time, and astrology has kept right up with the times. Sad, because this “mother of sciences” used to involve, indeed require, a universal world picture – and it may yet again, as environmental consciousness begins to remind us that although we necessarily see life through our own individual windows, we’re not the center of the celestial city.
The “me generation” that started in the 1970s, but really got going with the “greed is good” 1980s followed by the “we own the world” 1990s, is still very much with us, epitomized by our current ruin in this past “decade from Hell,” and astrology has reflected it. It has all been about separation, illusory independence, and ultimately self-centeredness. It would appear that the “inner journey” so hopefully begun by the 1960s Pluto-in-Leo generation became mostly a trip into the mirror. Let’s hope the me-first edifice that is now crashing around us will be replaced with something more inclusive and substantial, especially in the world of astrology, the practice of which has become an all-too-true mirror of our manufactured illusions.