Another Way of Looking at the Lord of the Geniture: Ernest Hemingway again

In my articles on “Looking for the Lord of the Geniture” and on Ernest Hemingway’s Lord of the Geniture I proposed Saturn as Lord. In this article I would like to look at his chart from the Jyotisha perspective. Remember that Jyotisha uses the constellations and not the signs of the zodiac called by the same name. This means that through precession of the equinox the placements, as compared to a tropical horoscope are roughly 23 degrees earlier.

The first thing we want to do is to examine the condition of the ‘personal’ sensitive points of the chart. These are the ascendant, Sun and Moon. Let us begin with the
ascendant. We have a Leo ascendant joined by Mercury and Mars. The first house shows ones entry into the world, ones appearance and the impact of the personality on the
environment. Mercury, lord 2 the natural significator of writing is also lord of the 2nd house, the house of literary gifts. Mercury is joined by impatient Mars, which influences the writing style, making it abrupt and terse. Mercury and Mars are both aspected by Saturn (Mars fairly closely) from one of Mar’s houses, the 4th. So the literary themes, which are basic life themes for the native, will be of conflict and heroism. No steamy romance novels here. The Saturn aspect is rich in complexity. On the one hand Saturn is a friend of Mercury, so he will help with the discipline of getting the daily word quota done. But Saturn is also an enemy of Mars and in Mar’s house. So Saturn and those represented by Saturn will not be perceived as pleasant guests and will probably take on a nagging quality. It should be noted that this doesn’t encourage marital bliss (Hemingway was married four times). The difficulties provided by partnership are reflected in the Navamsa chart which shows among other things the quality of married life. Sun in its own sign in the first aspected by Saturn in its own sign in the seventh. Sun and Saturn are mutual enemies. And the partner will surely perceive the native to be self-centred and egoistic.

What is the condition of the Sun and Moon? Not so good. The Sun lord of the 1st is in the 12th house and unaspected. This shows isolation. The Moon is with Rahu, the north node, in the 5th, also unpleasant. This is only mitigated by an aspect from Venus. The Moon in the 5th encourages imaginative skills and this certainly helps him as an author. But the Moon as lord of the 12th doesn’t necessarily bring a happy and stable emotional life. True there are moments of beauty and inspiration (Venus) but there are also sudden dark and tempestuous moments as well (Rahu).

Now back to our question about the Lord of the Geniture. In the above chart we once again have three main contenders; Mercury, Mars and Saturn. According to the Jyotish method of weighting the strength of a planet (shad balla) Mercury is immensely strong. It is true that Mars and Mercury are strong by their placement in the 1st house. But, and I think this weighs strongly, Saturn, the only other angular planet, is the planet which has
enormous influence on the first house. He actively aspects the first house and its planets but is not aspected in turn. So in the Jyotic chart I would suggest that Saturn is the Lord of the Geniture, just as I suggested he was in the western chart. Of course, as always, I
welcome arguments that might favour the Moon or Mars. 🙂

Gérard Manly Hopkins: Intellect and Reason in Opposition

In the last post the faculties of the mind and their relation to the planets were discussed. But theory should be tested and put into practice. I have chosen a poet who demonstrates in his poetry how intellection, reason, thought, conjecture and imagination interact.  “God’s Grandeur” is probably the most well-known of his poems:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil,
It gathers to a greatness like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck His rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And bears man’s smudge, and shares man’s smell; the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights from the black west went,
Oh, morning at the brown brink eastwards springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast, and with, ah, bright wings.

Let us look at his chart:

28 July 1844, Stratford/London (0e00 51n33) 4:15am

It is not at all surprising that his natal chart in a sense described by “God’s Grandeur”. A double Leo would be very sensitive to this and quite capable of describing it. You will note in this chart that both the Sun and Saturn are in their respective domicile and angular. They are also in opposition to one another and in mutual detriment. Their natural condition so to speak. This opposition dominates the chart and in effect shows one of the major themes of his life, put in the context of the last post, the conflict between intellect and reason, the knowledge of the heart that transcends time and space and the knowledge of the brain that is bound to time and matter. The first four lines describe the Sun, the following four Saturn. The first eight lines together the flavour of the opposition between Sun and Saturn or Intellect and Reason. This is perhaps one of the best existent “readings” of Sun opp. Saturn. That the Sun is just about to rise adds an “autobiographical” signature to the poem.

We have already looked at the Sun and Saturn with respect to the faculties of the mind. What about the other planets? First we see that both Mercury and Mars are combust. Thought and language along with conjecture are subsumed by the intellect. Both planets are peregrine. But because they are angular they have strong accidental dignity. They are entirely under the control of the Sun in whose domicile they are placed. They also participate, although weakly, in the opposition of Sun to Saturn. The Moon, Venus and Jupiter are all in cardinal signs but are cadent. So we have two sets of planets. Sun, Saturn, Mars and Mercury are the dominant set, they show the more visible side of Gérard Manly Hopkins. The cadent set of planets are also the softer planets. The Moon is in her detriment and Venus is peregrine. Jupiter, L9, has some essential dignity and is also in his own house. In fact through the fairly close trine with and being in the exaltation of the Sun we can see how the faculty of aspiration allies itself to the intellect. We have the Holy Ghost, to use the language of the poem, brooding over the bent (cadent) world.

The Planets and the Faculties of the Mind

Titus Burckhardt wrote another book, “Introduction to Sufi Doctrine” (you can view an excerpt of the book here.) which might be considered a companion volume to his “Mystical Astrology according to Ibn ‘Arabi”. This volume could help many readers clarify many of the questions that arise in “Mystical Astrology”.

I would like to paraphrase one passage as it is of interest in our previous discussion about the “perfect man”. And this passage, dear reader, is astrological!

“The heart is to the other faculties what the Sun is to the planets: it is from the Sun that these receive both their light and their impulsion…According to this symbolical order [in ‘Abd al-Karīm al-Jīlī’s book Al-Insān al-Kāmil (Universal Man)], Saturn, the most distant of planets…corresponds to intellect-reason (al-‘aql). Just as the heaven of Saturn includes all the other planetary heavens, intellect-reason embraces all things; moreover the “abstract”, cold, and “Saturnian” character of reason is opposite to the solar and central nature of the heart [qalb], which marks intellect in its “total” and “existential” aspect. Mercury symbolizes thought (al-fikr), Venus imagination (al-khayāl), Mars the conjectural faculty (al-wahm), Jupiter spiritual aspiration (al-himmah) and the Moon the vital spirit (ar-rūh). Titus Burckhardt, “Introduction to Sufi Doctrine” p.86

Now let us look at the planets in pairs with the Sun at the center:

  • Saturn – Moon: reason contrasted with vital spirit
  • Jupiter – Mercury: spiritual aspiration contrasted with thought
  • Mars – Venus: conjecture contrasted with imagination
  • Sun – intellect

The first pair caused me the most difficulty to understand until I came across a passage where Ibn ‘Arabi says that the word ‘aql is derived from ‘iqāl, fetter. (See William Chittick’s “Ibn al-‘Arabi’s Metaphysics of Imagination, the Sufi Path of Knowledge” pp. 106-107). Fetter describes precisely the Saturnian quality. Reason defines and thus limits the object of knowledge. The object is bound by logic. This is contrasted with the lunar “vital spirit”. What is this “vital spirit” you might ask? It is considered to be intermediary between body and soul and can best be understood if you examine what happens when you breathe. Transfer that to the “breathing” that happens in thought, that underlying constant waxing and waning of attention which has no definition and which requires an impulse from one of the other faculties to receive direction.

Jupiter – Mercury is a little easier to understand. What is “spiritual aspiration”? It is that faculty of mind which strives to unite all things into one. Let us call it synthesis – bringing together. That fits quite well with the expansiveness of Jupiter. Contrasted is “thought” which would be that faculty which picks things apart in order to understand them. Let us call it analysis. There you have mercurial multiplicity.

The last pair Mars – Venus, contrast conjecture with imagination. Now at first we might ask, “Aren’t they both the same thing?” Well, conjecture is that faculty of the mind which throws things together and forms a conclusion, not always with proof. If you consider how many fundamentalist ideologies work in the world then it is not difficult to see the martial connection. Conjecture rarely allows itself to be tempered by the influence of the other faculties. Conjecture hammers together the non-sensible with the sensible into a form that conforms to itself. Imagination on the other hand forms a bridge. It allows the sensible world and the non-sensible world to interact in such a way that both conform to themselves and are yet something different. Dreaming is a good example of how this faculty works.

The Sun as intellect. Again what is meant by “intellect”? Intellect is understood here as that core faculty that is able to intuitively grasp the fluctuation between transcendence and immanence. It is that faculty that can grasp the microcosm in the macrocosm and the macrocosm in the microcosm and it is the mirror of the Real. Note although the passage quoted above contrasts Saturn and Sun as opposites. There is no contradiction here. Saturn and the Moon are also opposites.

You might, dear reader, examine your chart from this standpoint. Aspects between planets might give some idea of how these faculties interact with each other on an individual basis. So for example if Mars forms an harmonious aspect to Jupiter the conjectural faculty can indeed be tempered a little bit by the aspirational faculty. That means that the structure formed by conjecture takes a long time to be pieced together. Mars with Mercury might indicate that the conjectural construct is quickly finished and may not necessarily have room for tolerance (of course other factors in the chart must always be considered so if you have Mars square Mercury don’t be disturbed consider the rest of the chart in respect to this aspect.)

Here is how I imagine what the planetary spheres would echo about the question, “What is truth?”:

  • Saturn: Truth is what can be logically explained.
  • Jupiter: Truth is like an ocean without a shore. The more you encompass it the greater it becomes.
  • Mars: My truth is plausible. Let me tell you about it.
  • Sun: Do you mean truth or the Truth?
  • Venus: Truth has many semblances but is always the same.
  • Mercury: Just look at it, truth is everywhere. You can even count it.
  • Moon: Truth is like incense that wafts by. Breath it in and exhale it.

Astrology and the Perfect Man (2)

Looked at more closely Titus Burkhardt’s, “Mystical Astrology according to Ibn ‘Arabi” jumps immediately into the subject. For an unprepared reader this can be bewildering.

Titus Burckhardt assumes that the reader already knows something about Ibn ‘Arabi and his role as a carrier of wisdom. It also assumes that the reader has at least a basic familiarity with the Islamic tradition. And most importantly it is not directed toward the astrologer! Instead it is directed toward readers who would like to understand how astrology fits into ‘Ibn Arabi’s cosmology. This doesn’t mean that it is not of interest to the astrologer. In fact it engenders questions which normally are not asked in the astrological literature. Questions that should be asked. Questions that can be highly individual.

William Chittick in his “Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul: The Pertinence of Islamic Cosmology to the Modern World”, gives a succinct and easily understandable description of the Islamic intellectual tradition, ‘In speaking of traditional Islamic thought I mean intellectual, not transmitted, learning.… four main areas of inquiry dominated the concerns of the Muslim intellectuals… metaphysics, cosmology, spiritual psychology and ethics…The basic characteristic…was its unitary vision. The various sciences were not understood as separate and independent realms of inquiry, but as complementary domains. The more one investigated the external world – the domain of cosmology – the more one gained insight into the internal world, the domain of spiritual psychology…In short, the purpose of intellectual studies was to prepare the ground for achieving human perfection. Perfection can only be reached by “returning” to God, that is, by bringing oneself back into harmony with the true nature of things. Both philosophers and Sufis were striving to become what it is possible for human beings to become. To use the expression that was made famous by Ibn ‘Arabi, the goal of human life was the achievement of the status of insān kāmil, “A perfect human being.” ‘ (pp. 44-45)

When Ibn ‘Arabi speaks of astrology, his main interest is not in astrology as it is practiced. We could best describe what he shares as how astrology can be understood in respect to the Real, that is God. If you read his work you will not learn anything about astrology in the sense of transmitted knowledge, technique and such, instead you will be called to think about astrology and its goal. This means you will have to actualize your intellect and that, dear reader, is where it becomes tedious. Our intellect belongs to our inner core of being and an act of will is required to call upon it. This is not something we learn at school!

Astrology and the Perfect Man

Titus Burckhardt’s “Mystical Astrology according to Ibn ‘Arabi” gives a brief but concentrated overview of a complex cosmology. In this article I would like to explore a little one of the central ideas in Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought. The pole between the Absolute and the Perfect Man. I think an exploration of this can provide help in understanding Bruckhardt’s exposition and also clarify how Ibn  ‘Arabi viewed the planetary spheres. It also expands an understanding of the hermetic maxim, “As above, so below” that is considered one of the basic cosmological cornerstones of astrology.

Who is the Perfect Man? He is the one who embodies, fully realized, all of the attributes of God, the Divine Names. He is in effect the macrocosm, not the microcosm as one might first be tempted to believe. We are the microcosm, embodying in ourselves the potential of full realization and partial realization, just as the sensible world that is not man (also) embodies the Divine Names. And the Absolute? The Absolute is unknowable and therefore beyond the bounds of the macrocosm. It could be called metacosm (see our discussion in “Microcosm, Macrocosm and Metacosm”). It is transcendant Reality just as the microcosm is immanent Reality. Between the poles of the Absolute and the Perfect Man or shall we say transcendant and immanent Reality is the microcosm. The microcosm surprisingly forms the center. This means that the planetary spheres are both within us, as potential, and without us as actuality. And so no matter how trivial, each event and object is contained within the spheres and can thus be described and explored using astrological imagery and insight.

Here is a provocative thought. Could it be that the pole between the Absolute and the Perfect Man also defines the limits of astrology? The astrologer is only capable in those areas where one of the Divine Names has grown in him. In all other areas he is blind, his vision cannot adequately grasp the chart before him. Hence the admonition not to trivialize astrology and the proclamation found at the beginning of any astrological text in the Christian-Judaic-Islamic traditions, “For the Glory of God”. To trivialize or to forget the source of insight means to risk becoming blind. The chart loses depth and becomes flat.

to be continued…