Grammar is for the most part considered a dry, dusty and sleep inducing discipline. It is hard to understand why the ancients, especially the Greek, held it in such high regard. In the following article I would like to explore this with regard to astrology.
Modern languages generally have a linear system of time forms. An event occurs either in the past, present or the future. The focus is when an event occurs. But there are languages, usually ancient, where this is different. A notable example is ancient Greek (including the Greek spoken in the Hellenistic period). The ancient Greek was more interested in how an event occurs. In fact the whole language is structured around this. The focus was on viewpoint. Linguists speak of aspect. For example is an event viewed as being continuous or does it repeat itself? Or are we interested in the beginning of an event or it’s end? Or is the whole event from beginning to end all rolled up into one what interests us? Are we part of the event? The Greek language was so structured that a simple change to a verb ending or the addition of a suffix could simply and effectively express this.
Such grammatical considerations can open up a whole new understanding about the nature of planetary aspects, which essentially function in the same way as the verbal aspect of the ancient Greek language. The modern astrologer generally treats aspects in a linear fashion, hence the enormous interest in transits. Lists of when aspects occur provide a base for prediction. But if we want to expand our understanding and perhaps also understand how the ancients understood aspects – why did they make a distinction between sinister and dexter aspects? – then we must ask how they occur. This means an aspect can only be looked at with respect to each individual planet. Seen in this way a trine between Mercury in Aries and Jupiter in Leo is qualitatively different from one made by Jupiter in Aries and Mercury in Leo (disregarding a consideration of the dignities). We can also ask if an aspect is repeating, which is often the case between planets going into and out of retrogradation. (Grand Conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn have a repeating character, they are multiple, and must be seen not only singly but as a whole.) Or we can ask when an aspect begins, application; becomes exact, perfection; or ends, separation. Or we might wish to look at the aspect as a whole – application, perfection and separation all rolled up into one. As you can see we arrive at a qualitatively richer and deeper understanding of what planetary interaction is. A trine is not just a trine. If we only look at it as an angle of 120 degrees between two planets taking place at such and such a time and nothing more, most of what is really happening escapes us! This also gives us some insight into how astrology works – please excuse the jump! It is of course essential to understand what is happening astronomically but astrology attempts to understand how these configurations manifest and their qualities.
PS Stay tuned to Caroline Allen’s website as she will soon be posting an excellent article on “How Astrology can Predict the future Weather”.