I have said before that “astrology today needs to go through the same process of enlightenment, a coming of age, as most other scientific disciplines experienced in the 17th and 18th centuries.” For this to happen, a new foundation needs to be built. A new foundation for astrology is the second layer in a four-layer structure of our discipline. 

The first layer – consisting of accurate astronomical data for past, present and future – has been thoroughly built by astronomers during the past few centuries. While this effort has been going on for several millennia, it only started in earnest with Tycho Brahe’s and Johannes Kepler’s meticulous observations during the turn of the 17th century. Without accurate data there can be no reliable astrology, which is what Brahe realized and acted upon. Kepler assisted Brahe briefly (up to the latter’s untimely death) and continued his mentor’s diligent work for three more decades. These observations eventually lead Kepler to the formulation of his laws of planetary motion and, as a consequence, to the founding of celestial mechanics as a discipline. The astronomical data is converted to an astrological framework (typically the zodiac) for use by astrologers, and also augmented with information and nomenclature specific to astrology (such as aspects, houses, midpoints, etc.). While we create the astrological chart at this layer, the only difference between astronomy and astrology here lies in the coordinate systems each discipline uses (ignoring hypothetical points used by certain schools for the moment).

The second layer is the layer of correlations (interrelationships) between celestial and earthly phenomena without attributing meaning to these correspondences (e.g., how various rhythms relate to lunar cycles, typical events when Mars is rising, etc.). Since astronomy only deals with space, it is this layer where the differentiation between that and astrology starts. The third layer is where we create a system of astrology (a set of hypotheses, theories, models and mechanisms) by attaching meaning to various features of the chart (planets in signs and houses, planets aspecting other points, etc.) and categorize these in relation to earthly affairs. This is what most books on astrology are about. The final synthesis occurs at the top layer, where all information is woven into one meaningful and coherent story. This process is strongly assisted and influenced by the astrologer's personality, experience, skills, intuition and interaction with the client.


The four layers of astrology in summary are: (1) data, (2) correlations, (3) system and (4) story. Looking at it this way, the bottom two layers can be termed the objective or relational data tier, while the top two the subjective or meaning tier of astrology. The bottom tier can be fully subjected to scientific investigation; in fact, the first layer of this tier is already science (i.e. part of current-day astronomy). The top tier is more and more subjective as the astrologer plays an increasingly larger role in attaching meaning to the correspondences and fleshing out a consistent and relevant story: the crowning achievement of the entire effort. The question of whether this top tier can become science has been debated extensively in a slightly different form, and I believe the conclusion is neither ‘yes’ nor ‘no’ but ‘both.’ I am referring to the state of psychology today, which has been classified as a ‘social science’: this field is both ‘science’ in the sense that it is being investigated by the scientific community using the scientific method, and ‘not science’ in the sense that much of its findings are not falsifiable (see, for example, An Essay in the Philosophy of Social Science http://www.hermetic.ch/compsci/pss1.htm by Peter Meyer https://plus.google.com/107644130998885530895/about, for an intelligent and brief treatment of this topic). 

This division of astrology into tiers and layers is useful for two reasons. First of all, it illuminates how astrology is being eroded by modern science as we can explain more and more of our connections to the sky in scientific terms (as discussed at the beginning of the article). Secondly, it clarifies the division between the ‘scientific’ (objective) and ‘artistic’ (subjective) side of astrology. Clearly there is no valid reason why the bottom (objective) tier of astrology could not become a full-fledged scientific discipline. As this happens over time, acceptance of the top (subjective) tier by the scientific community will also grow as a natural consequence. Why is this acceptance important? Because funding of research depends on acceptance by and being part of the scientific community. Without funding, not much research can take place (as we’ve seen). Without research, astrology as a discipline will advance like a slug. And without rapid advance, astrology might slowly decline and degenerate, even dying a painful death in the end.

Plenty of systems and stories have been put in place during astrology’s long and arduous history. Much of these are based on observation but systematic and large-scale evidence (scientific proof) underlying them is missing. This is the primary reason why I am making “correlation bricks” and laying them one by one to contribute to the building of an objective foundation for astrology. The work is immense as we are a few hundred years behind mainstream science. We will need the focused and organized efforts of many dedicated researchers for many years to come. Pioneers, such as Leo, Kolisko, Thun, Bradley, Landscheidt, Addey and Gauquelin, are few and far between, but those that have come before us have shown the way. That is the way I’m traveling. But the way I’m traveling this way might be somewhat different from how others have done it in the past. In the next article, I will attempt to describe my approach to researching astrology.

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  • As a research astrologist, my goal is to contribute to building a new, objective foundation for astrology. You can follow my progress here on the various projects I am undertaking with this goal in mind. ~Aquila
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