Time for Time

If you remember we mentioned the idea of the mundus imaginalis in Henry Corbin’s work awhile back and how it is worthwhile looking at it in an astrological context. There are other texts that we can consult which also have relevance to this theme. One such text is Friedrich Schiller’s, “On the Aesthetic Education of Man”. At the risk of being academic I would like in the next few articles to draw your attention to a few passages from this work.

The first passage is from his twelfth letter:

“Since everything that exists in time exists as a succession, the very fact of something existing at all means that everything else is excluded. When we strike a note on an instrument, only this single note, of all those it is capable of emitting, is actually realized; when man is sensible of the present, the whole infinitude of his possible determinations is confined to this single mode of being. Wherever, therefore, this drive functions exclusively, we inevitably find the highest degree of limitation. Man in this state is nothing but a unit of quantity, an occupied moment of time – or rather, he is not at all, for his Personality is suspended as long as he is ruled by sensation, and swept along by the flux of time.” [from the German/English parallel translation of E. Wilkinson and L. Willoughby, Clarendon Press, 1982 (p.79)]

This is part of his description of three different drives that may be found in human nature; the sensuous drive, the form drive and the balancing drive of play. (Stofftrieb, Formtrieb, Spieltrieb). Here the drive toward matter or sensation.

We have a very perceptive description of how man is embedded in time. A theme also central to astrology. Looked at closely we find that the perceptual reality, the actual looking at the heavens is so exclusive and so limited that it is not accessible to interpretation, partly because we are physiologically only able to focus on one star or planet at a given moment! The chart we may look at; whether horary, natal or mundane, is merely a quantitative description of sensible experience transposed to glyphs and numbers, nothing more. It is one moment of time conserved on paper, much like a concert conserved in a folio and as such utterly meaningless. Some other human activity is required to give it meaning! We’ll explore this soon.

There is another aspect to this and that is what truly is the astrologer’s sensible reality? What “substance” does he manipulate or seemingly manipulate? We could say that this is time. Time is movement and if the astrologer forgets this he has closed one of the major portals of understanding. This is perhaps why in the astrological tradition the application and separation of planets to one another is so important and why transits, a modern preoccupation, are generally neglected. Why? A transit, although the name implies movement, is a quantification and not the movement itself. It really isn’t important whether Saturn is transiting your natal Sun. You are not going to die and you might not experience any unpleasantness at all! (and don’t bother about hearsay or statistics, a Venus transit or any other planet might statistically give the same result or lack of result). What you might want to do instead is consider whether that Saturn applying square to the Sun in your natal chart is far more significant.

2 thoughts on “Time for Time

  1. “We have a very perceptive description of how man is embedded in time.”

    Very perceptive indeed. Rudhyar argues that the houses of the horoscope are equal sections of the space surrounding the new-born, thus he advocates the Campanus system of house division. Hermann Broch writes in “The Guiltless”:

    “Time is embedded in space as it is in spacelessness, space is embedded in time as in timelessness; whether they exist or not, time and space are imbricated. All happening in the world — and without happening there is no world — all motion, all speech, all melody sustain this imbrication and are sustained by it.”

    A progression or direction seems to be a symbolic construct of time frozen in space. Is it divorced from the cyclic matrix? It seems to me that time is the signature of the cyclic matrix so there can be no divorce, no separation. Your comment about transits is well taken!

  2. Every astrological chart, without exception, represents a frozen instant of time and is as such divorced from time. A cross-section, or if you will a section not unlike that placed under the lens of a microscope for study. It is the activity of the astrologer to reset this signature into the context of the symbolic matrix that is astrology. Paradoxically he can only do this if he maintains an awareness of the continuity of time or the cyclic matrix. I’ll have to explain this elsewhere but it seems to me that this activity is the same as what Schiller describes as “play” in his “On the Aesthetic Education of Man” and Corbin describes as that characteristic of consciousness that is able to enter in the “Mundus Imaginalis”, Imagination (with a capital I).

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