The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 53, titled:
Geoffrey Cornelius on The Moment of Astrology
With Chris Brennan and guest Geoffrey Cornelius
Episode originally released on November 24, 2015.
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transcribed by Gülşen Altay
Transcription released May 15, 2016
Copyright © 2016 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi. My name is Chris Brennan and you are listening to the astrology podcast. This episode was recorded on Tuesday November 24, 2015 just after 9:00 am here in Denver, Colorado and this is the 53rd episode of the show. For more information about subscribing to the podcast please visit the astrologypodcast.com/subscribe.
This episode features an interview with astrologer Geoffrey Cornelius about his book titled The Moment of Astrology-Origins in Divination which Rob Hand has referred to as one of the most important astrological books written in the past century so without further adieu let’s get started with the interview.
All right. Geoffrey, welcome to the show.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Right, Chris. It is good to be on this show. Thanks for the conversation with you.
CHRIS BRENNAN: I am really excited to have you and this is something I have been looking forward to for a long time because your book the Moment of Astrology is definitely one of my favorite books and it is one that affected me very profoundly when I first read it I think about 10 years ago in my early astrological studies so I wanted to talk about the book and on the one hand sort of present it to my audience because I think it is a book that every astrologer should read and sort of talk about the bases of the book and explore some of the things that you give sort of an overview some of the topics that you touched on in it and then maybe later we can go more deeply into some of those topics just you know to cover both the audience members who haven’t heard the book before as well as people who have read it and maybe want to go deeper into some of the concepts.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Okay. That is good.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. My first question was…, is maybe we should just start what is your general thesis in the book? Because you have a specific argument that you build up but I wanted to ask you directly, what was the main thing that you want to convey or sort of accomplish in writing the Moment of Astrology?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Right. The real center of the book is the question of divination, what divination is and how we should understand it, how we should lay it out and in particular divination then I have seen in astrology so if I just use some words I use in the book itself as I start the book by saying that I offer a radical reinterpretation of the main part of astrological practice and I do that by considering horoscopy in the light of divination so that is a move that on the whole hasn’t been done and so I felt that was very important to open the question certainly not done within astrology.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, I mean that was huge and the book was written in 1994…, it was published in 1994 by Penguin, Arkana and your central thesis was that astrology is divination and then it is divination despite sort of presumptions or despite the appearance sometimes to the contrary that astrology itself is divination and this is actually interestingly it is hard now to view this almost 20 what 21 years later in retrospect because your argument has been so successful and so influential that it is actually not I don’t think necessarily as controversial of a statement today to say that astrology is divination as perhaps it was back in 1994 but in the context of that time period I am sure it was a pretty controversial assertion to make. Is that the case?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes. Yes, it was. A group of us had been moving in this direction, a group of us at the Company of Astrologers and before that the Astrological Lodge of London had been thinking this way so I didn’t just me thinking this for since the 1970s certainly so really moment comes out of a whole order of thinking that a number of paper were attempting to me and it also comes for me out of a series of articles that rule circled the Moment of Astrology which were in a sense preliminary to this, they were published in Astrology Quarterly before the time of the first Moment of Astrology so it came out of a maturing of a number of ideas and many influences on me that have let to this particular thesis.
One thing I do want to say that it is very important and not to give a too limited of you of this. I try to make clear in Moment of Astrology that I am dealing with one or admittedly enormous part of astrology which is its application in actual tradicia, judgements, this is my principal concern. I try to be careful not to say that this defines astrology whole stop, a whole thing because astrology is last in its cultural composition in what is embeddedness so if it is also a cosmology and the question of the relationship of cosmology and cosmogony in divination are absolutely intellectually fascinating but I don’t wanna queer the pitch by saying that I am offering the picture of the whole thing we call astrology so I have focused on the issue of the read largely, the reading and judgement of horoscopes but any sort of influential judgement from symbolism comes on the that remit but aspects of the cosmological dimension of astrology don’t necessarily come onto that and aspects of astrology that I absolutely can not, would not ever want to deny that it could be called natural astrology aren’t necessarily part of my remit, I have tried not to answer the question of the whole thing so for instance that our phenomenon of astrology as encountered by Gauquelin but also areas of cosmobiology that are about this extraordinary relationship with the whole of the heavens they really are and that goes beyond my thesis so I do try to draw some boundaries.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure so you are trying to revive the Medieval distinction between typic natural astrology versus judicial or essentially divinatory astrology as a sort of distinction and saying that your argument is mainly about judicial astrology which primarily applies to the casting of horoscopes but there might be other sort of natural phenomenon associate with astrology or perhaps natal or mundane astrology that could be relevant still that your argument doesn’t apply to.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, that is a way I am putting it and in fact I am therefore a critique of a whole spectrum attempts to name the whole thing only one go which I understand the desire of many theorists to do that but it is the criticism of some approaches then fail to satisfy either…, they don’t then satisfy the demands of natural whatever natural astrologers would be and they don’t satisfy the demands of judicial astrology and so in that sense John Addey’s tremendous project doesn’t manage to satisfy either in the view of equation because it is tried to put the whole up together in one jump, in a sense I am being much more modest and I am falling actually of indicated a program of understanding that goes right back to distinction judicial and natural well known in Medieval and Renaissance times, it can be traced back earlier than that and so it is not as if I am completely reinventing the wheel.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and although to be fair judicial astrology definitely covers or traditionally covered a large swat of what we generally associate with western astrology in terms of the four major branches or at least many of the techniques that are applied within the context of those branches of natal astrology, electional astrology, horary astrology and mundane astrology so your argument is directed for the most part at the majority of the techniques I would assume that would be applied within the context of those branches. Right?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, absolutely it would be, therefore it is radical for every time astrologers interpret a horoscope, a good question that arise in moment is of importance for them each time they are doing that. Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and one of your primary access points and this is also one of the things it was very radical about the Moment of Astrology was that you used horary astrology as an access point for your argument and you built up this argument over the course of especially around the chapters like V and VI that horary although traditionally viewed because it can very obviously be viewed almost as a form of divination like Tarot or like the I Ching or other forms of divination because you are casting a chart for the moment that somebody asks a question or asks an astrologer a question and then you are basing the interpretation of what the outcome of that question would be on the chart itself and that similar to other forms of divination you actually argue that even though horary is most obviously divination that it actually points to the true nature of astrology in all of the other branches as well that essentially all of the other branches’ function in a similar way to horary in so much as they are also divination and therefore not as hugely different as we might think.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, you have got it exactly and that is a very important distinction you have made. I use horary as an access point, many readers do on the first reading of the book assume that I am making a case…, that I am building up a case for horary astrology and this really isn’t correct and I regret that in some ways. Historically that came about because I and some of my colleagues in England were very inspired by horary, and the revival of horary, revival of interest in William Lilly, we are part of that revival and in terms of craft practice that has such a…, had such a liberating effect on my own practice of astrology that it is very easy for me to be…, view everything in that horary light but philosophically and methodologically exactly as you said I am using horary to expose the nature of all interpretation in astrology, that is absolutely correct and so it is a …
One finds you see very interestingly how many authors of a previous generation who bought a bit horary atile, we call it divinatory astrology, Marc Edmund Jones did, a great source of inspiration to me Marc Edmund Jones but he too names this as if it is a distinct methodology but it isn’t. Although it is using particular approaches within it, its foundation fundamentally goes back to the same root as the moment of taking up a natal horoscope that there is a similarity that is not observed by simply calling horary divinatory so of course challenge that particular distinction.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: It takes the meaning of divination wider than astrologers had perhaps realize, that is the point…
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: …so that just to extend that point Chris, the …, you mentioned the great points of horoscopic astrology in a previous cosmology of things prior to the certainly Copernicus and the enlightenment, it would be very very difficult indeed to pull out judicial astrology from a bases in natural astrology, they have had an intimate connection so the cosmology, the physical cosmology of the world we are in its astronomy and always manifestations and these mathematics are all completely integrated and the astrology is a…, judicial astrology is a part of that whole picture so it is for the breaking down of the Medieval cosmos and the Ptolemaic cosmos and the old cosmology have been broken down, these astrology in this…, judicial astrology in this peculiar ungrounding position and really it is waiting for reinterpretation which this isn’t attempt at a reinterpretation.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and that was part of the not just the legacy but how important your book was in terms of the overall scope of the history of astrology is you are really taking it all the way back to or reconceptualization that occurred in the second century and you spent a lot of time talking about Claudius Ptolemy and Ptolemy’s especially his causal and naturalistic reinterpretation or framing of astrology which large because it is essentially the most influential astrology book in the history of western astrology, his work has framed astrology especially natal astrology and mundane to some extent in this naturalistic context so that were used to making that distinction between saying that, you know horary is obviously divination but natal may have more of a natural component because it involves this biological element of the moment of birth and it is something that you really challenge, you really set out to really critique and look at his model and his naturalistic reinterpretation of astrology and to call then in the question essentially. Right?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, exactly so in order to even undertake the project atile, Ptolemy had to be taken on the question of what is given as the legacy of Ptolemy which is it is extremely doubtful that astrology could even be as we know it or have any survival atile had that work not being done great scientific astrology has given us a vessel and a vehicle for astrology so absolutely, it is a peculiar position to be or there is no possible way that I can dispel the truth the Ptolemy gave astrology for the whole of it is a history up to the time of enlightenment and it is even now a carrier or a vessel of ideas for astrology so the Ptolemaic prescription of astrology is an extremely powerful and effective one most obviously, my view would be that it is only by rethinking Ptolemy that one can ask you questions in fact that we need to ask in an era, we can only requestion it by going by that far, another cause which I only hintered in moment takes us philosophically back to Aristotle which is an even bigger fish to fry than I don’t get round to in the Moment of Astrology but actually we are talking about the Aristotelian construction of metaphysics on which astrology as we know it has rested for several milennia.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and Ptolemy was definitely or certainly, indirectly or directly critiquing the Aristotelian conceptualization of astrology which largely held that astrology works as a result of the planets acting as causes, either directly or indirectly on human life or life on earth and that astrology works according to Ptolemian, according to the sort of you might say Aristotelian philosophy of astrology through the planets and stars and other celestial phenomenon and emanating some sort of influence that filters down to earth and affects us directly and this is, this causal conceptualization of astrology which was largely, not entirely but largely set up or sort of initiated by Ptolemy in some sense is one of the primary things that you set up to critique in the book.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes.Yes, indeed. In fact a ground takes for astrology not often mention this search but this Aristotle generation and corruption because the model he gives there is thoroughly natural scientific astrological model and it secures astrology in many ways, there are of course many influences on Ptolemy there is a Stoic influence on Ptolemy but you can see by the way I address the problem it is particularly that Aristotelian formulation that I have taken up in Ptolemy, there are other elements that astrology always combines many elements so philosophy at any one moment in arriving the way it is as I am sure you know but by dealing particularly with that naturalistic causal of Ptolemy I felt that was the most powerful way of a opening up the question, a math in a sense is probably for me one of the most important parts of the argument of the book.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, I mean I think that is the part that has definitely influenced the most people and has been the most…, was one of your most compelling arguments because that is where the horary argument comes in, where you know with horary is very hard to conceptualize in a naturalistic context because you are just casting a chart for the moment of a question which is something that seems very sort of immaterial, are immaterial and therefore not really something that you can sort of conceptually justify as being the result of the influence of the planets in some sense because it is not clear what it would be influencing other than just a question which is something that doesn’t seem make his much sense and you take that point where people have an easy time conceptualizing a horary chart as something that is not necessarily being influenced by the planets per se but it is acting as more of a sign or a symbol or an omen of what is being, what is transpiring at the moment of the question and you take that and apply that to natal astrology and say that contrary to the Ptolemaic foundation of astrology or conceptualization of viewing the moment of birth as being influenced by the planets and that being the primary thing that is operative in a horoscope, you argue that the horoscope itself is actually just like a horary question in showing sort of symbols or omens or signs for things relevant to a person’s life rather than things…, rather than sort of planetary influences you might say. Is that a right way to frame what your argument was?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, it is that then leads inevitably to the discussion of the nature of symbol which in my view although I didn’t present it quite this way in the way I built up the argument in moment but at several times it emerges in the argument that the ancient division between sign as symbol and cause is most fundamental and it was addressed by philosophy goes way, way back the recognition of that distinction and so that means that understanding what it means to say that astrology is symbolic rather than natural causal that equally moves into this area that I want to open up whether the union that divination or not is correct another matter but the opening up of the question of what does it mean to have a symbolic interpretation as opposed to a natural scientific sign been given to you? so that is utterly fundamental to the argument.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and so that puts you in a sort of lineage with certainly discussions going back all the way to Neoplatonic philosophers like Plotinus about at that time when the Ptolemaic sort of conceptualization of astrology, it was really taking over in the century or too after Ptolemy you have Platonist like Plotinus sort of realing against it and sort of desperately making this fully to not view astrology in a fully causal context but then what happens is that he basically loses out in the next several hundred years of astrology, are largely conceptualized in that way at least in a broader philosophical or scientific context even if the practice of things like horary as framed as judicial astrology continue to persist so your argument is almost returning back to something that people like Plotinus were trying to do and trying to emphasize and then reasserting that in the late 20th and early 21st century.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, exactly right. The position of I am coming from persist quite obviously lineage back through Ficino and the Renaissance Neoplatonist back to Hermeticism right back to Iamblichus and to Plotinus and then I would say effectively back to Plato, it is how one would read Plato, would…, one could drive the argument of attempt to give in moments from a Platonic interpretation and interpretation not Plato so it is far from being a new argument, you are quite right that one of the themes I stress is that, I think it was a turning back from taking on the central question of astrology in that p…
When astrology was under great attack like old pagan forms, it was under attack from Christianity within enormous attack on it so the pairing to my mind of Saint Augustine, one of astrology’s greatest opponents and Iamblichus fascinates me so you know one generation on, two couple generations on from Plotinus we have the same understanding of the magicians represented by Iamblichus that is utterly in contrast to the natural scientific understanding derived ultimately producable through Ptolemy and in a sense magic and astrology if forever been in a way running on different parts from that very early time and so in many ways my interpretation of astrology is, it is much close to what could be called an interpretation of magia, of magic and it is of a natural science sophistry so that is why I opened the book with the dilemma of the Renaissance astrologers and the death prediction against Pico that to my mind beautifully, is a beautiful amblem of the dilemma that scientific craft horoscopy faces.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure, that yeah, that basically the scientific question about the whether one can validate astrology in a scientific context and the response to the testing that occurred in the 1970s and ‘80s where a lot of testing was done but there were a lot of not great results that came back as a result of that that seemed to be part of the context of your book where it seemed like for my perspective even though I wasn’t around at that time, it seems like scientific research was something that astrologers were very focused on or at least excited about in the ‘70s and ‘80s and then when many of those tests came back sort of negative, there was almost this crises that occurred within some of the deeper thinkers in the astrological community in the 1990s of how to respond to that or how to deal with the disconnect between having this practice that seems to work quite well on a daily or on a personal bases and yet are inability to validate it through the contemporary sort of means by which people usually go about validating something as a real phenomenon and your book is one of the books that kind of shows up during that time period that almost did attempts to provide an answer to that question or an answer to that dilemma. How much of that was deliberate sort of deliberate response to some of the things that happen with scientific testing in the ‘70s and ‘80s versus how much of that was something that just developed sort of naturally that you have already developed on your own?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, these things…, there are always many causes outer which ideas springs so I put it…, I agree with what you suggested there in many ways, it is an important context for me. In a way I use the science research experiments, especially the ones of the right qualitative about astrologer’s judgements as another access point so for me I use horary as an access, I use this failure of objective empirical research as an access point to open up the very same question.
So in my view the reaction of astrologers at the time was entirely weak on the whole so astrologers most of my colleagues didn’t seen to know what to do with it, I am not saying I have the answer to how they should have overcome this but that was certainly my view it is very weak so instead of saying, instead of being driven back philosophically or metaphysically onto the foundations of what it is they are doing when they make interpretations, they move back into fundamentally scientistic positions or there are some other positions, it didn’t the only one but although you say there has been a drop off of interest or belief that research can do things, it is amazing how often ……. popping up again, it pops up in I see it in astrologers in eyes are things…, people keep reproposing statistical test as if somehow let’s have a more refined multivaried model and we will find this, this and this, it is amazing how there is people get sacked back into this position and being sacked back into that position occurs because there hasn’t been a fundamental philosophical think, rethink about what astrology is so in the absence of that rethinking there is no other place to go but to think let’s do more stacks or let’s find some other superspiritual model that isn’t touched by modern science that somehow explains it all but none of that leads the fundamental questioning in my view so I prefer to say that it was another access point because I do probably wandered a write something in the Moment of Astrology even there had’nt been that experience with the science research material, I do want to do something towards diviniation but in fact it was waiting there like a hanging fruit that is say the failure of the science experiments in a sense allowed me another point of access.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and it is definitely become sort of an answer for many people or many astrologers about how to deal with that those difficult questions because some astrologers like in the book in Garry Phillipson’s book Astrology In the year Zero there are the former astrologers or the scientists who say that because they couldn’t validate astrology they decided to stop practicing it, to get rid of it because they could validate it scientifically whereas part of your argument in the book basically is that if you actually understand what astrology truly is at least in terms of the practising of horoscopes and what astrologers are actually doing with it then you would understand that attempting to validate it in that way is never gonna work or has no chance of being successful because it is based on an entirely different principle in some sense, it seems like your argument was. Right?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, you have got it exactly, correctly that is how I access that use the science material to access this, that still these be questions implicit in how you put that just then as to okay what paradigm do we access astrology and so I then make several moves in the book to the where divination becomes a concept that can contain a number of these different ideas so the movement towards omen reading and especially my use of Lévy-Bruhl and that approach to participation mystique, it is the sort of direction that I want to see the astrologers to look into, I wanted to see their practice in this sort of light that means a subject so I can for apology and parapsychology and things like that much more lightly to be fruitful for us than simply their scientific paradigm that has failed so badly.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And in terms of divination you actually had a pretty strong background in that even very early in your career even going into astrology. Right?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, exactly that really will help the reader understand where I am coming from I think in approaching this book so I subtitled it Origins in Divination and I hope the play…, I don’t think the play is often understood, I was trying to be perhaps too clever that I am also hinting that natal origins, are also divinatory origins as well as defrag that historically I am making a cultural, historical statement that I would see astrology as rooted in divination whatever you mean by that word in a cultural and in a historical sense so its origins of too sorts.
So I was fascinated by divination from my early years so there is a type of my old consciousness I think, I know I am get into trouble by gendering it in this way but I do say often amongst the boys and young men it become fascinated by the occult and fascinated by witching spooky things, I was in that category you know from quite young ages so I was doing experiments so …… when I was a youngster and I very early on got into Tarot so when some of…, be undergraduate days when some of my friends were going out party in everything, I was doing Tarot readings and they would ask my advice about their latest conquest and stuff like this and I would be there giving a Tarot reading about it.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Very very early into this stuff and I was fascinated by symbol as fascinated by mind and symbol you could say as well, now that meant I then went off into Qabalah, I am very interested in those esoteric traditions, I then came across Jung, I became fascinated by the Book of Changes I Ching and Chinese thought and in fact that was very very formative for me all of that before I have got into craft astrology and so I come across naturally because of the whole western esoteric tradition you can not go anywhere there would out immediate encountering astrological symbolism so it is natural in magic and astrology are so linked and yet horoscopy and magic are much less linked as an observation I do make, it is very interesting how as a difference there so I not even bother it seemed comsi, it seemed unnecessary to sort of what I came across horoscopy but then when I did see it and then I really plunged into horoscopy and it became a home for me, I began to see how it was connecting all the other things I have been interested in so I come into astrology taking for granted divination and it took me sometime to realize how far serious astrologers that I was with simply didn’t have a view that I could call symbolic, they went treating astrology in this mode of symbolic interpretation of a magician interpretation that wasn’t the way that I am coming, I am coming at in a much more as an objective fact there it is, there it is to be decoded in the horoscope of give us ways of decoding this, secret of the heavens etc. so that was a surprise to me.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure, especially because astrology is often pumped in with those other practices by outsiders.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, absolutely but it cause it within these esotericism, you see the craft astrologers are very distinct based really, if I looks at magical practice as a whole is very little inductive divinatory form being used to thread little judgement being used that we would recognize as horoscopy so symbolism is used to invoke planetary intelligences fine, as modes of initiation fine or all the correspondence is the planets is used but you so often get the magician understanding are wanting to work horoscopically that is even with some of most important ones as well, that is another whole topic but that divide interested me between magic and astrology has interested me greatly so that is another whole topic but it does it is a thread in Moment of Astrology and I hope that helps the reader some diastatic programme just to understand where I am coming from.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, I think that is hugely helpful and so what time frame was that where that you fully starting to get involved in astrology and made the transition into sort of becoming an astrologer?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: It is 20s that I plunged into astrology and I give the story in the Astrology in year Zero in Garry Phillipson’s site that I had a chart reading from a young woman in Wales when I was staying in a little cottage ………… and she asked me a few questions and then she set somethings about the Moon and cover other things and I was very struck, at all that is really insightfuI. I was very struck and I thought that terrible terrible my odd think that ‘What is she can do that I certainly would have to take that’ and it just turned me at that point and I consulted the I Ching about whether it is worth going on into astrology and things like that and I took the decision that I would and I took the punish and so many…, this to typical sort of my old consciousness entering these areas that are already indicated to you. I really studied everything. I was so intense and I did intensive study of …, I was into house systems during a couple of months so I studied ……. things like that quite early on. I just try to master the whole technical range that I could get my hands on very very rapidly it is. I mean I have forgotten how to start but I just did that intense thing with it, it fascinated me which is…
CHRIS BRENNAN: This is the 1960s or 1970s or what time frame it is?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, it is …….20s, other bein the late ‘60s and yes, this is my first move into astrology really then was to join up with astrologers at the Astrological Lodge of London that was around 1970 or also 1971 and then a little after that time that is when met some other friends and met Derek Appleby and that was meeting Derek Appleby who really turned me on so the poetnessy of actual astrological symbolism and so I met that was horary you see, horary really wrapped me quite early on so it is quite true I have been strongly influenced by horary astrology.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And that is really important thread because that is something I am curious about in terms of the…, because usually known retrospect and sometimes in even some historical papers that have been written about the so called the revival of traditional astrology that is often located in the 1980s with the revival of traditional style horary astrology based on the work of William Lilly that was going on sort of simultaneously with on the one hand you have like Olivia Barclay and her group reprinting it but you also have the work that you were doing with Lilly’s work and the discussions overtaking place surrounding the your group the Company of Astrologers but even before that I am a little curious about that it seems like Derek Appleby’s book on horary astrology was published even earlier than that so there is already this horary element I sort of assume or get the sense of that was already there in the English, in the UK prior to the full blown revival of Lilly. Is that the case or how did it actually work out?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, it is interesting in many ways. I get into sort of historical politicy but there has been some miswriting of it I would say or there has been misperception sometimes that occurs and that comes bare because of affections in astrology itself which I am sure your all of listeners would know it often happens but…
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and yeah set there could straight ………….because….
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, the revival of horary in the UK is interesting because it really was down to the influence of Derek that there is happen now Derek hadn’t head only come across the …….. tradition you know of what is name Zadkiel’s horary, it only have come across Zadkiel.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay, the reprint of Lilly.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: He would also read Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson so he would have been influenced by Ivy and I think probably in U he would then by the time we met him he made of seen Barabara Watter’s book so in U of the American Horary astrologers, he would have also seen horary in a prediction magazine and he just followed the method and come up with the stunning result that showed him something so this is all before the time we met Derek so he was a self-taught astrologer, he was already doing horary in …….. into the astrology community so he was a natural symbolist, now although at that time say very early ‘70s, very very occasion to be some mention horary, it was very rare, actually on the conference programmes or regular schedules, he would ……. somebody come up with it, it had no great impact or attraction just had no attraction so I would say into a bit odd and daft or you know that peculiar or particular wouldn’t be that it would be doughty but it just had no great weight and it was never very convincing what people were doing so you get the horary very occasionally popping up but it really had just didn’t appeal.
Now clearly then what we know has happened is that around the same time we are also getting the desire to recover historical text, the work of Arhat and things of this nature, the work of Rob Hand very very important here so these things are there is stream of things beginning to come together at this time and because of the impact of actual the liveliness of Derek’s astrology which really did turn a number of people on it, it didn’t just a romantic bar some on my part, a number of people quite inspired just the way he picked up and happened symbolize it beautifully and then that let to us some of us researching back into Lilly and a part of Maggie actually she went to find the rare copy in the Guildhall library in London, we got out various notes and began to see these are alls from Lilly, you know how to do horary and so that begining of a recovery of Lilly happened very early on inspired by this other interest that we had from Derek and that seems to then fuse together with the interest that is coming in that period that is a reaction against the psychologization of astrology so this reaction that begins to occur and horary picks up as part of the debate there.
Olivia came in very very strongly and her work really did create a tremendous impact but she was originally in a fact, a student of Derek and she would put judgement she was trying to make to Derek’s face view so and there is…, unfortune what happened was that Derek trolled in it and tended to get discounted or and Olivia didn’t really…, Olivia wrote a…, I am not saying she turned against Derek but she just went on and so left him behind or felt that she left Derek behind at some point so she did give no real credit in her horary astrology revived I think it is that the textbook she wrote.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS So the attention intended to focus on Olivia’s work so it is part of the history that happened, now…,
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah and I am glad to get that for me just because I have noticed that because Derek Appleby’s book on horary was published in 1985 and so that makes it one of actually if not the first book that was written as part of that revival so it seemed like he would have been a very important figure but I never was clear, hadn’t heard enough of that story before.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, I tried to put out a few ……. the reprint that…, what is his name adieu from AstroAmerica?
CHRIS BRENNAN: Dave Roell
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Dave Roell. Yes, he got me to put a forward into the his reprint of the book and I tried to make a ……….. out there which anybody who is interested in I would like him to seen it David Roseburg because I put a forward an introduction to the book where I actually described this background as well as I can and tried to recover some of Derek’s the magic was he be formed for us at that time.
You can see then that context I was may in some of the friends who light from the Company of Astrologers and very active group in the Lodge so where in a sense getting encountered into what we are calling traditional astrology, I think in my case I overestimated the value I felt myself on my goodness, if people…, if astrologers just see how good horary craft can be it would really bring up an improve the quality of so much of craft horoscopy, natal horoscopy and everything, you know I really thought horary would do great things. I realized that that is a bit naive and horary can become just as stupid as every other part of astrology can be afflicted if you are not careful so it is not a silver bullet that solves everything for us but at the time we were very inspired by the possibilities horary and I was therefore philosophically and intellectually inspired by seeing it as an access point to this deeper question of the nature of symbol and the nature of divination so that is why horary is such a powerful move in the Moment of Astrology.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and that becomes sort of the access point for the entire argument and reoccuring point throughout the work so yeah, that is also and this is really before and that is actually one of the things it is very interesting and really also impressive to me about your book reading it now sort of 21 years after you published it even the revised edition where many of your core…, even there has been some revisions and many of your core arguments are still fundamentally the same but that you would really…, you wrote this book, this is 1994 so this is before Project Hindsight has really published anything, you had already done so much historical research that you are able to formulate some of these arguments that are still true today like 21 years later and it is very impressive way but that becomes sort of part of the traditional revival is your book sort of situated right in the middle of it making this very important argument about astrology is divination which if anybody goes back and reads text from you know the Hellenistic or Greco-Roman traditions 2000 years ago, it is very quite obviously situated in that framework so that you are making a very true and very powerful argument but one that people weren’t used to making because people up to that point didn’t usually go far back in order to see what astrologers were doing back at that time but you seem to take that or take what ancient astrologers or traditional astrologers were doing as important as part of the process of reconceptualizing astrology by just sort of looking back at the history of astrology in order to inform and develop arguments about it. Was that kind of unique…, did you feel like that that was unique at that time? or is that something that just seemed natural to you given I guess more of your academic inclinations?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Well, yeah I suppose I did recognize the attempts I am making were unique and also academically risky so I am going out on the leam with some of my interpretation as you are properly realize, it is so I can’t necessarily on historical resources directly secure all of my main arguments, I have to make moves really so with my interpretation of katarche and you pointed this out to me way way back you questioned me on this and you are quite right, it is frustrating that I can’t find sufficient reference to the way I understand katarche and its all arguable form, I can’t find sufficient in…, I can’t find anywhere in the Hellenistic texts by astrologers enough evidence to really show that that must be so…, there is a strong arguable component in the way of thinking so one can make the general observation that the cultures of those days were imbued with …….. sending as part of what the whole project is of lots of things they are doing when they are looking at things like astrology, I would like more textual evidence of it, my other move at that point is to invoke really much more anthropological evidence and also some classical material so I mean the idea of the katarche that I can…, does have historical roots, it is just the connection with the early astrologers is most ambigious and it remains ambigious so that is where I know that in terms of historical thought and academic thought, the argument still needs lots of details need to be fleshed into be sure about this.
My sureness about it is in a sense much more fundamental it is experiential I suppose, it is one can easy be in an arrogant and stupid position here is just that I sense that I had a some sort of nuances to what it would be like to be divine as of……. completely different era, I have to sense that I had some sort of inflict on that or some sort of instinct and it is out of that really that the project of name in katarche as katarche comes. I do have interesting details to make about that prediction as I am sure you know that the argument can be put in so many ways and so you will realize I know that many people who would investigate Hellenistic astrology and you investigated Hellenistic astrology so your view on this is really, really really important and interesting to me will contain completely with my sort of thesis because certainly if you come of a strong state position, you will contain with the type of it is really Neoplatonic in some ways the katarchic view, it fits one Greek tradition of Greek thought it doesn’t fit all traditions of Greek thoughts so the matters aren’t arguable even if we pitch our mindset back to the Hellenistic period.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Then we have to rely on okay what have these actually worked for us here and now becomes the other move one has to make which is an important part of the other way of access that I try to into in the book, how does it actually manifest for us here and now.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right and that your book became one of the first really impressive examples of like the reason why it is useful to look back into the history of astrology because there can be important technical and conceptual and philosophical insights that you can gain just by looking at what are predecessors were doing but that you can take that information and it sometimes has really practical sort of effects on how we practice astrology today or implications for that.
And going back to something you said that I mean I actually ended up being wrong about the origins of horary to some extent in that I have now as a result of the publication of the translation of Hephaistio of Thebes by Benjamin Dykes and Eduardo Gramaglia had to recognize that there is actually a reference or there was a reference to horary in Dorotheus so that might view on the sort of origins of horary has actually changed and shifted in the past few years, I still I am not sure if it was quite as prevelant and may have developed had a period of development and sort of building up between then in the Medieval tradition, but you can definitely see the sort of proto-horary there at one point and it is connected with the term katarche which is become or became a very important term for you in the type of astrology you do in your practice. Right?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, indeed. It is a useful…, the word is a beatiful pointer to whole way of thought or whole way of understanding so in one word and hopefully with a proper historic understanding of it so it is important for modern practice the use of the term implying a definite relationship with what one could call divinity or whatever that might mean as opposed to a reading of a appearly objectively given order so the implication of the one taking up the material, taking up the symbol becomes crucial to the whole act, astrology then being seen as ritual act, not scientific act so yes the term is a very important term carried forward into modern practice so as you say it is probably an unusual book I wrote in showing the importance of modern understanding showing a connection with ancient ways of thought so in that sense it is a historical project as well but I don’t know I am cautious at many points and I realized early on the Dorotheus of certainly problems with text of Dorotheus that I would realize that this is I don’t want to have to rely on anyone reference and I don’t like any more references so what you say is very interesting Chris because you were a critic of the idea in a way early on so it is interesting that your position is slightly modifying. Interesting.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah and what I remember saying and I still sort of hold by this to back at UAC in 2008 in Denver was that even if horary…, because my argument along that I was questioning whether because you used horary as your access point in the Moment of Astrology to argue that all astrology is divination and you drew on contemporary scholarship that generally just thought that horary went back to the earliest strata of the Hellenistic tradition to the first century but then some of the books from Project Hindsight and some of the translations of Hellenistic authors came out it became clear that horary wasn’t as it didn’t seem to be as prevelant in Hellenistic tradition as it was in the Medieval tradition and so I wrote a paper sort of questioning the origins of horary astrology and saying that it may have been a later development which indirectly had implications for your work but which I have sensed revised and said that horary actually may have gone back even if it wasn’t very prevalent to her first century but my argument was always that that didn’t really affect your underlying promise because you could just as easily go back to the Babylonian tradition or the Mesopotamian tradition a few centuries earlier which everyone universally recognizes and agrees was practiced within the divinatory context and that astrology was seen as divination in the Babylonian period unquestionably so that your argument still stands you would just and you could still even use the horary sort of access point for making astrologers understand what that natal astrology is no different then horary so I guess it was really …, it just became a little sort of historical, sort of brief point of difference but ..
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes. Right, as interesting you say that Chris. Thanks. Yes, I would …… overall scam of things
CHRIS BRENNAN: One of the places that this brings us is to, one of the arguments that you made between the contrast that you make between divinatory astrology and let’s say natural astrology or divinatory astrology versus what people thought astrology was that made the scientific question relevant is that you try to make this argument that astrology is not just objectively occuring out there as a thing onto itself that has or requires no participation on the part of the individual but in fact the participation of the individual just like in horary becomes very relevant so in horary well and that is perhaps a point of contention amongst horary practitioners as well but your general thesis seem to be partially that astrology at least the majority of horoscopic astrology in terms of casting charts and making judgements about charts had this participatory component as an important component and therefore was not completely as objective as we might assume it was which is part of what raises issues in terms of testing it scientifically, how do you frame that out?, is that the right way to frame that argument in terms of the objective versus subjective component in astrology?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, I here realized you have asked a question with enormous implications.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: One mark it to put down for you is that a portion that I naturally have here is that I in towards the end of the Moment of Astrology I would say it is that we touch upon the question of divination but I don’t try in go further at that point so in a way I am saying a lot of the phenomenon of astrology do not fit …….. working with the 80 point to demonstrate in a sense and I spent a good time demonstrating it. I then say with then in a position of looking at a number of other, several other moves that might begin to of a leads here if which say I invoke your several points, your …….. approach comes into it, I invoke the practice of divination but as your problem…, and I invoke the possibility of looking at the demonic the nature of intelligence, consciousness and things being a way of moving, each of these have good intellectual and historical form each of these arguments.
Now I then say we also need to consider what hermeneutics especially ancient hermeneutics can teach us so that moves into this part of the book that many readers find very strange, the full synthesis hermeneutic as a model. Now each of those really are not parts of a complete programme by which I say here we go, here is the overall polished view of how we should look at astrology, they are openings towards further discussion and that is because I really can not offer the complete picture.
I do know that the very difficult task of revealing the phenomenology of divination emerges at this point ,how is it that Tarot readings do have an order of truth to them sometimes an amazing truth? so the all other forms of divination they show this capacity for truth revealing. By what metaphysical model do we have that can allow us to even allowed the question of this?, you see we don’t easily have it and so we fall into debates so that so much argued over, so much malign them subject and object, clearly we fall into a territory, there isn’t addictly addressed as either subjective or objective.
Now we are hitting major philosophical problems here and so one thing I suppose, I am asking astrologers to realize this is that they do have a practice it can’t simply be reduced to straightforward objectivity, don’t get thrown please by the fact that you haven’t got answers for the scientist and you can’t prove this that or the other, do realize that you have actually an art or craft of a great beauty and great truth telling power, realize this and in a sense it is a sufficiency in that, there are many ways that profound thing has awakened up that material for you, none of which will give you the complete story of how you should approach this so we face something that is a mystery, the foundation of astrology is in every sense of the word mysterious, accept that it is a mystery and get on with it and see how it begins to open up for you so you see that really isn’t laid down a clear methodology of procedure beyond this point and that is something I am very interested in intellectually and how one move develop from a position I leave things in Moment of Astrology but it is most important of people reading the book understand that I am not trying to lay down any one correct answer out of the dilemma but the first got faced to dilemma, I am not allowed ……. that dilemma and for us in modernity of a thread to the Greek natural scientific is a false move at this point but we should honour and see what it was at the Greek natural scientific allowed us to work with without saying that that remains our model and in fact we haven’t got a model in modernity so we try a bit of psycychology, we try this, we try that, all of which are inadequate to the task in many ways but I accept we are all in this positions as astrologers so I hope that makes some sense to you of the why I do see to have a number of ideas that engage me accepting they are not the whole answer, they are even inconsistent because that is position we are in but come back to a point here any honest examination of their own experience by experienced astrologers would only show them that most of the answers that currently they have been given inadequate to the task but it doesn’t stop doing astrology.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right and one of the points that you make in the book is that oftentimes attempts to make astrology a maniple to science oftentimes result in having to strip it of many of the major components that astrologers actually use on a daily bases so that it becomes something quite different and quite not as impressive because it becomes a very stripped down version of astrology rather than what astrologers actually do…
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes
CHRIS BRENNAN: …when astrologers attempt to that.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Chris, quite solid and so in the access point that I use of science and the science experiments and this sounds very close in person in a way but it is a strong person experience our head of talking with some of those who put such faith in the science research that the statistical research experiments I am realizing any word I could use these guys have let themself be broken by this experience they lost their astrology, they can’t trust symbol anymore, now that is desperate you see so one should go on that part, it is as I do say it is like the suicide experiment as an example astrologers committing suicide, it is what it is that it is…
CHRIS BRENNAN: That is a totally joke.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Just to explain that for our listeners like there…, one of the scientific studies that was done in the 1980s was organised by the NCGR New York and it was on astrologers seeing if they could tell the chart of people who committed suicide versus people who didn’t but the test went terribly and the joke that was actually pretty clever was that astrologers sort of committed suicide in a sense politically by submitting to this suicide test that they feel that pretty terribly.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: And also then spiritually and intellectually instead of pulling back to the basic ground of experience and philosophy that I have got to into , they didn’t have the equipment to do that for various reasons so in a sense on a positive note you see I would hope that types of arguments so advanced in Moment of Astrology at least give people the some equipment to not get trying back to the destruction of symbol so the astrology is aren’t thrown back.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and…, Sorry, go ahead.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Well, I was gonna say many ways I have got a great sympathy with Rob Hand here, he certainly is very sensitive to this sort of things I am saying because Rob’s prescription from early on was a craft of astrology that should be distinguished from some suppose science of astrology and that we get on doing a craft people have done there would work in may boats out of…, without knowing all sorts of details of hydraulics or how you know the biology it would for centuries, say you get crafts of a true and the true things for human beings and in a sense were astrology practiced by ordinary astrologers, it is such a craft, it only goes wrong when demands are on made on it that these are unanswerable demands to answer to a paradigm that absolutely is a wrong paradigm and that is what the people have more leaks of opinion in astrology or think as in astrology and write as in astrology need to protect the practition of from this sort of naivety in a way…
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS:…but that naivety still comes bursting out, you still have people, you know good astrologers sort of come up, they sort of look physically at the New York suicide experiment who is pretty impeccably done. I mean it was rated as really being mega statistically sound that you suicide…. they still then say that they didn’t all take account of day and night or something I had a day and night with this Saturn the other abstraction in it, technical abstraction as if you are saying they didn’t take account of the 147 harmonic that would show something so and I go you know there is no a phrase of always sort this magnificent market when journeysly infinite regression of technic as a defense you are the astrologers thinks it must be some further technic that I have missed that would have given me this and of course astrology is true, missing it entirely, missing the whole thing.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Well and I am actually curious about that because you…, I mean on the one hand obviously your argument is that if they understood the nature of astrology, they wouldn’t have made that attempt in the first place because it would be attuned a failure no matter what but you also made enough ….. comment that the lack of standardization in astrology just in and of itself even if astrology was true or could be demonstrated scientifically would already attune a study like that to failure because of the wildly varying or differing levels of experience and sort of efficacy that each astrologer would have in a study like that so I thought you were critiquing in the book even the bases of the study to begin with so are you saying you are not necessarily I think it was well designed?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: It is another big one Chris, Now this is importance, I will have to answer a bit of blinkly here. I hope it makes sense to you. I struggled over the book, I think it is cool down the one sky which was a study of interpretations by throughout different astrologers of one horoscope, I don’t know if you know the book published a few years back.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: And lots of issues I have with that book but one thing I notable interest was how about five or six of the astrologers all followed a basic modern traditional craft approach it is very interesting, now it is often assumed that astrologers suggest…, it is often assumed that the argument I am giving is ‘Well anything goes anybody can say anything it is whatever they set up for themselves when they read the horoscope becomes the truth’, that is not really so and now you see getting to this point that there are certain conventions tradition of astrology has given us that appear to be coherent and appear to last for an ensure, look at the lord of the Ascendant, look at major applying aspects………….. that it sounds a little bit horary there but look at major aspects etc., etc. and then the fact that the planets’ meanings have a certain stability so there is something very fascinating about this model of horoscopic astrology where there is coherence over many centuries of certain major methods and technics and interestingly despite a wild confusion of modern astrology with its huge supermarket of technics that everybody can just buy, on the whole there is a central core of practice that most of the scholars teach and the most decent astrologers get on with so and they are not necessarily particularly sofisticated they are like following certain rules so it is a fact that it isn’t true that anything goes because astrologers don’t work that way, some astrologers do act if it is anything goes but on the whole that isn’t true to astrology so there is coherence and that coherence if you see rubbish results statistically we can be certain of that.
And then there are styles of approach within these coherent approach is yes, true and the scope for the brilliant artistic and poetic and highly insurative move within that but none of that is correctly described by the word arbitrary so you see I don’t want to move into the position that saying that the stack show the thing doesn’t work therefore the thing is completely arbitrary it is what anybody thinks at anytime and something might guess about suicide I don’t know about suicide so there is no coherent pattern to follow, it didn’t actually correct and there is I say in the section where I discussed the suicide experiment I don’t have a doubt that certain times when you need to be shown suicide on fairly conventional significators that modern tradition astrology, you will see the significator, you will see that Neptune is afflicting or you see strong 12th you know the stuff where you will get the things that tend to fit textbooks so there is a hermeneutic question a great interest there, there is coherence and not arbitrariness yet when tested objectively there is nothing there so what is it that is there in this coherence?, do you see?, this very interesting position of saying that astrology occupies a realm after the time I have just astrology…, I much more became interested in this view but that is Qabalah’s view of the Mundus Imaginalis, astrology occupies a different sensory domain which is an actual mode of cognition but doesn’t exist as either subjective or objective but it is true, now one is entering into realm of metaphysics at this point to even deal with this and I don’t touch this particular, argument, particularly in moment although it is there lightened in somethings I say but do you see?, I want to immediately not allow the debate to go to arbitrariness is the answer to heritage astrology is actually working that that do.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, and that is really important because that is…, I mean that you anticipated one of my later questions which is just one of your arguments seems to be in the book especially in the early chapters that there is no objective validity to astrology and then that sort of raises for me because then one of the implications I feel like I was often left with and I had a sort of struggled with in terms of coming to terms of to your approach to understanding the implications of your argument is then how can one technic or approach ever be said to be any better than the other? If there is no objective validity to astrology and then as a separate point that is actually…, it is good to we get on to this because astrology is divination has become a common sentiment now amongst astrologers 20 years later although I get the feeling that sometimes this is done as a sort of defence for what might be interpreted as sort of sloppy thinking or sloppy practice that you know astrology is subjective and therefore you can’t say that your approach is any better than my approach or what have you and so I was always curious how you dealt with that? or if you had any concerns surrounding how some of your arguments were being interpreted.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, yes I do and in a sense you can tell by the way or the answer to arbitrariness that I am very concerned with that and that it is easy for the idea of intuition, say I am being very powerful …….. that is just anything that anybody likes to think is what is ensured divining that to be like saying that there are a number of comparisons so analogies one can use to try to overcome this difficulty and one is that the to see astrology, if you are say about poetry or music or art it is clearly not good enough to say that ‘Well, these poetry ……….art and anybody can write any piece of poetry because there is coherence something that happen as where by people appeal to learn how to be appeal to certain ways and forms of things and those are real so there are then you can say it is very difficult to judge what is good as opposed to bad poetry what is good as opposed to bad astrology but there is a certain knowing that comes with it so that when there are number of ways I put this. When a specie of symbolism is well spoken, it seems to produce a response in anyone hearing it, certainly anyone educated to symbolism, well they say ‘Yes, that is just right’…
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: … the way you described that particular planet in that sign in this horoscope, isn’t that just right the word you said a fittingness of words to the situation.
Now it is very difficult to establish a straightforward objective criterion by which you say ‘How can you then produce this effect? Give me the rules by which you do this’ that is same in the way so I was saying ‘Give me the rules by which I can write a good poem’ but that doesn’t stop the fact that there is such a thing as a poetic art and poetry really does bring in people’s hearts and what people regard then as weak poetry tends not to last and not to really impress so many people eventually, you know it gets people being see ………so the sentimental didn’t work so there is something there the fact that is not attainable by the type of cognitive object approach we normally regard as leading the truth shouldn’t mean that we then abandon the idea that is a truth in the coherence of the traditional the way of working, one thing doesn’t follow from the other so it is just we try to simplify what astrology is sometimes and ask about this whole technic.
For instance Chris, you probably have good technical and historical knowledge here, I remember hearing at years and years ago the French astrologer Daniel …. show me the materials that in modern Indian horary astrology, vedic horary astrology there are two main schools and one has been influenced very much by the dynamic profections sort of approach of the Islamic and Persian astrology in days in day out 11th century …. era and that school came in whereas as much older more traditional school goes simply by planetary placements you could say, doesn’t use dynamic profections in the way we do, now you then say which is the right or wrong way of judging charts?, it is seen immediately as a completely misplaced question, there is not mode of approach that occupies those astrologers in that particular tradition over that period, there is another approach comes in with its own claim, with its own symbolism and other astrologers take up that so you get this the very same thing occurs over and over going with astrology and if you don’t mind the just further expanding on that.
We get that most ……questions of houses …. on use Koch or Placidus or Topocentric and the question gets reduced to ridiculus type of absurdity you use that which then works for you and appeals and by which you can communicate to other astrologers if that is what you wish to do, the meta can not be answered by simply is tango better than a vals, they are both forms and you can do really bad tango if you try vals in the middle of a tango, people you know dance, will say that you are modelling up tango and vals, which is the best?, upset a two different forms or modes by which one is moved symbolically through the material and they have the coherence and they have the curious way of appealing to the sensitivity of those who begin to appreciate these things or are dancers in the case of dance or astrology is in case of symbol, you know it when you see it, you can taste it. There is a little ………, give you some…,
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah and it is funny that you bring that up because that is an issue that I unfortunately, recently in the past couple of days got myself embroiled in so that this episode will actually fall between a episode that I previously which is a lecture where I tried to make a series of 12 arguments for why I thought whole sign houses was a good house system both historically and conceptually and from a technical or philosophical perspective and that is set up sort of firestorm of controversy with a few astrologers recently so that I will be doing a debate with Deborah Houlding about this issue of whole sign versus quadrant house systems tomorrow and from that perspective of what you are just saying that seems like a silly debate to have but then on the other hand I sort of wonder, you know can we not draw you know conceptual or philosophical arguments like should we not attempt to develop sort of conceptual arguments or philosophical or historical arguments for the technics that we use? or where do we draw the line in terms of attempting to not validate what we do but to attempt to how reasons for doing what we do and sort of having the ability to talk about or defend them on some level versus recognizing there is something okay with the multiplicity of approaches out there, I mean where do we draw the line?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Well. Yes, now you have got it, it is fascinating that our comments fall, my comments therefore within the middle of that debate.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: What is needed it is the word validate have to be so careful with because what is needed is the ability to bring out the beauty of a metaphor that one is using so there is something very beautiful about the metaphor of the quadrants but that is not the whole story the person using a quadrant house system in my view and the experienced astrologers I mean entered to these things ideally should have a sense themselves what is the symbolic difference between using so Regiomontanus and Placidus?, they are different…
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS:… because they are dividing up different circles in different ways that means what do I symbolize the equator as as opposed to what do I symbolize the rotation of the earth diurnally as? because by asking that question is not that a Regiomontanus is either right or wrong, it is that Regiomontanus achieves this discrimination of symbol, Placidus achieves that discrimination of symbol, whole sign achieves this and quadrant achieves that and it is not to say that you know a back again rather than say try to judge which is the best?, you judge what is it that is being symbolized or brought out by the move I now making with astrology?
So it is why personally I made choices, I prefer I don’t like continental way of laying out quadrant houses, I like to straight up, you know American Apple Pie with the Midheaven above your head and I like Rudhyar’s rhetoric on this so ‘Imagine yourself standing on the earth sufficient, not standing leaning sideways you know like a drunk, you are there with your head pointing up to the zenith’ and I like that I like that symbolism, now that is because I have chosen my symbolic framework within which I view my symbols so you are then again to take the argument to quite different place and this applies it every single point with methods of astrology where a wrong type of objective empirical attempt it is made to materials that are symbolic expressions and that is the symbolic expression one …… to tease out and so I am not in anyway, you know I clearly have techniques I favor, they are techniques I favor and they make strong rhetorical, they fit within conventions of modern tradition astrology and will tend to carry a reasonable strong rhetoric with them and a reasonable recognition by other astrologers so as a practitioner I like working with other astrologers when I do consultancy, I often do where with other astrologers only our astrology and I am quite happy to read whole sign charts and I try to learn the conventions that the astrologer is using in that way of approach with their chart you see, other just as I do with any particular technique or method that is brought to me, one can enter into its spirit so that is the task entry into the spirit of the approach which does mean the astrologer, the demand upon the astrologer is to have a symbolic as well as actual and practical understanding of the techniques they use and what they imply and what metaphor they are giving you that is a supposed of demand I make of education of the astrologer.
CHRIS BRENNAN: That makes a lot of sense. I think that is actually a brilliant response to that and it really just goes back to symbolic thinking and like you said good symbolism and understanding what the symbolic and implications are of different frames of references or of different techniques but again that is one of the things that is really impressive about your book that it does is attempting to reframe the reader’s mind to start thinking about astrology and more of a symbolic context and that is where the argument for astrology is divination really comes into play and becomes really powerful in some sense because it gives you a much better access point for understanding what you are doing with astrology as well as approaching technical matters by thinking about in a symbolic context and maybe that is part of the answer is that you know even in ancient forms of divination and like augury and things like that they are drawing from what are objectively occurring phenomenon of the flight of some birds to the left or to do right and or from you know the appearance of a planet, you know a planet that is you know dark …
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: … which is a malefic having certain symbolic of meaning versus the appearance of the bright planet like Venus and Jupiter are having some other symbolic meaning and then having perhaps more possible symbolic reasoning based on that versus more less possible symbolic reasoning, let’s say and that there is something about that which…, well, it is at the in between stage between sort of something entirely subjective and something objective it is drawn an elements of both in some sense.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, yes. I really agree with you it is…, astrology is marvellous by being so rooted in an objective observable cosmos that we then so easily say simply objective and that I realized that it is that cosmos is inviting us to understand it metaphorically what it is for us that will engage both subjectively and objectively at the same time. Yes, absolutely it is what you said then.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Brilliant and I mean at one point in the book, I was actually curious about this you talked about you are in…, I always thought that because traditionally Mercury was always the associated with astrology and because Mercury always plays this vacillating role where it can go either way or sometimes it is both in astrology I always thought that was interesting metaphor for astrology because of that middle ground that it occupies itself in the world but I am not sure if you…, do you … ?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: No, no. I said that matter very much, I mean I probably not particular brought that out in the book but I think that is true that interpretation itself involves both the subject interpreting and the object being interpreted it is essential to interpretation this mystery of this causing of these two realms. It is such a failure of modern post enlightenment thought that simply to demand the apparent objective as the standard of validation of everything, it is an obvious error in a way, I mean we should not…, we, astrologers above all should recognize that and not get caught in it.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And as part of that you actually and I am curious if you…, how much you still focus on this but you reject a couple of things in the book you reject what you refer to as same-timeness as being like a necessary or a vital component at all times to astrology as well as more importantly you reject what you refer to as the moment of ori…, or the doctrine of origin as being this sort of theoretical bases of astrology but I am curious how much…, is that still a large part of have something that is very much tight into your argument?, because it partially involves rejecting the more external objective component to astrology or where do you stand with that today? or how would you formulate that argument?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Right, now that is another attempt to the point of access the purely logical argument I use concerning the same-timeness so obviously with the Moment of Astrology the …… astrology signatures I call it, that is an attempt to demonstrate quite clearly that the doctrine of origin is not sufficient to cover all the cases we have in astrology as one simple thing so the doctrine of origin is an absolutely wonderful, powerful metaphoric form, it is a symbol the doctrine of origin and it is a marvellous methodological container for our practice because it is a fact that we will make the origin moment of independent human life be the most powerful carrier of metaphor for life is a whole the ………… we have no doubt about that so I am absolutely not in anyway wanting to undermine origins in astrology causal temporal origins as a mode of approach.
I am just saying that it is not theoretically sufficient to ground the working to say this is how astrology works so I use a …… I know perhaps difficult idea in some ways but I say rather than taking the objective origin realize it we are talking about the presentation of symbol to consciousness which will normally occur, normally and ordinary centry reality occurs with the same-timeness added to it. We work…, you know we are…, our consciousness is rooted in 3D space and this then the temporality of time it is how we constantly find ourselves but what happens with symbol, is symbol uses that but on the occasion symbol can not be defined by that that is the point and then philosophically and logically accountly validated by that that is why really I have made an attack in the book on Hillman use the phrase and then I wish Hillman at understood some of these ideas in astrology, you know in his marvellous understanding of things temporal literalism.
We do an extraordinary thing, we are very able to think as astrologers that we use symbols, the one thing we then do is literalize the clock time of things, the clock time objective moment of things as if that is the guarantor of the truth of what we are doing, it is weird we completely turn the equation around so what seen on the hospital clock as I used that example in moment, it matters for that is how something has come into consciousness has being timed as giving us a place where we can give us ourselves symbols but it isn’t the object…, whatever objective time is which is itself can be mystery, chronology hasn’t given us this symbol how significance we grant how ……..uses the phrase that we are timisch being times, being does not occur in time so it is very important understanding in fact that is Platonic as well so I know we are touching very very difficult conceptual point here but breaking up that origins idea is very important and breaking up literalism in astrology very important and breaking up of false motion of causality.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and of something that is objectively occurring out there that regardless of the participation of the observer or of the astrologer, I think it is the large part like the emphasis of your argument there and what you are trying to accomplish is the notion that gets trapped up in the Ptolemaic causal view of astrology that astrology is something that is occurring out there constantly all the time regardless of whether we are looking at it…
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: …whereas you view at as something that really doesn’t fully come into being in a some sense until there is somebody paying attention to it or attempting to look at or use it.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: And that paying attention it can also be cultural and shared by whole culture so that is quite clear on something Iike the modern obsession with the great ages, age of Aquarius, age of Pisces and as you probably know I don’t mainly go mention that in moment or I mention afterwards but and elsewhere that in fact is quite a modern understanding that idea of the great ages in the formally age of Pisces, age of Aquarius and in fact that is about 1800 or something that is only comes up with that so that marvellous picture that I think shows an extraordinary truth about you know I very much follow Jung and what the Rob Hand did on the same thing in ……, it is a tremendous model but of course its truth is something now observe now true for us and that is an extraordinary thing to say so the true for us, true collectively for everybody who thinks about Aquarius and Pisces in that way, now then you say what does that mean it is not true?, well, you say it is true in another order of things not simply subjective, not simply objective so there is subject object split has a complete cultural dimension as well shared which is why…,
I hope it would have been one of your questions, I move to one of the an important analogy, I think it is very important for metaphor for astrologers to see what they do as language and then you get out you equally by using the analogy of language for astrology you get a way from this trap is French true? or is English true?, you say no, you speak French or you speak English…
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: …so you know and they are true but where is the existance of the reality of French?, it exists everytime in only when it is spoken, it didn’t even exists in grammer books so lay out the rules of French’s, it exists French people speak French, this is extraordinary and it shouldn’t be some mind bending it is just the way modern philosophy and thought tends to set itself up, makes it appear mind bending but it wouldn’t be seen as mind bending in a different culture and antiquity in the same way I don’t think it would.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right and the metaphor of astrology is language also sort of helps perhaps to understand our earlier sort of issue and discussion about, you know different techniques and the efficacy of certain techniques that speak to some people versus ones that are not or don’t and perhaps you know that can be clear ways to speak French or clear ways to speak German or what have you versus ones that might be less clear or might not communicate as well.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Exactly, yes so these are in an ancient sense of word rhetoric is really, astrology is a rhetoric by which things are then revealed, most extraordinarily revealed of course so we are then entering a level which is very much of domain of modern thought I think which hadn’t been connected and I hadn’t done much work on this at the time of moment but your idea that we construct narratives and so each human being, each person with a natal horoscope instructs a narrative of their life and the astrologer then is in an extraordinary position of helping the person negotiate the narrative of their life by using these symbols in the horoscope most extraordinary you then asked what is the truth of your story?, you know for any person yours or mine, what it is the truth of your life?, you give me your history but that history oddly changes and it is compass if she review it and see it again in the light of symbolism so astrology is working in that level of narratives but cultural in individual that every moment working with narratives that is the work of symbol.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And that gets tight into some separate key word that comes up a few times in your book which is something that you really seem to have…, you seem to real against in some sense which is this conception of the machine of destiny and there seems to be as certain sort of humanistic so freewill oriented tone to your book that is very important and tied together some of the other arguments which is that you really associate sort of determinism with more of the causal view of astrology and that is something that you really take aim that some extent in the book. Right?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, I do. I suppose and that is where I probably have a much more definite stand. It is that too easy, astrology is right let’s put this in a compact formula, for me astrology is probably the queen of forms of divinations. It absolutely has a most marvellous construction, cultural and intellectual construction of thought. It is most marvellous and it is most marvellous in its potential to reveal so really in that sense it compares very powerfully that other divinatory forms and now having said that with this extraordinary power comes a deadly, a deadly poison and that is a poison of determinism because it is…, this occurs to some extent with all chronomantic forms like Chinese astrology’s chronomantic, anything that deals that give symbol to objective moments of time in the calendar can readily lead mind into this trap of turning things round the reversing things and thinking that the objective fact of the calender, the time period I have seen is that which is determining my reading of the symbol now instead of saying that I am seeing that in the light of this symbol now so if determinism any teach of astrology will certain account to this in their students what a killer trap it is, it is why other forms of divination astrology is so dangerous.
I know that sounds very powerful things to say but precisely on this point and that is why I prefers students who have had a knowledge of other forms of divination which much more easily shake off that determinism, you certainly shake it off if you use Tarot much because you realize the Tarot is actually bending to the narrative of the situation I am in and I am asking about questions that are have a long life history sort so certainly with the I Ching that is true so most forms of divination that aren’t directly chronomantic would very easily show the practioner there is this fluid context based nature to symbolism but hundred astrology is the context get stripped out into an objective ……….. of the planet now seen objectively in time and in the ephemeris. It is that then leads to the an attempt to believe that you have power but I predicting the objective things given you simply by this active objectivity, I am not denying astrology appear to suicide and therefore predict but that prediction doesn’t come from this objective machine, it comes from the power the revoluation of symbol, it is very very different thing.
CHRIS BRENNAN: So the apparent objectivity of time that astrology is being associated with through the planets becomes sort of misleading because in your view it accidently can sometimes lead people to assume that they are talking about something that is fixed and predeterminded for all eternity.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: That is right, that is right. It does lead that, you see that that is why I do have my argument against the type of Stoicism of Manilius because it leads immediately to that that sort of consequence. Stoicism raises huge questions as I am sure you realize and Manilius isn’t the whole story of Stoicism but there is that type of deterministic approach which I find deadly in astrology and so in that sense I do make a strong pitch on freewill, which the katarche is the idea that the gods there to be negotiated with and in fact whatever we call spiritual agency is not holding a stand to some fix plan but it is open to the very…, we are a part of spiritual agency as well, you see that is a curious mix there.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: But which is why on the whole magicians don’t bother with horoscopy because magicians are whether rightly or wrongly or have a confused in what they are doing, working on spiritual agency directly and astrologers never want to think that what they are doing is effective as a matter of agency itself, you see my whole point which my sound over ……. or over ……. but the astrologers predicting going to Pico, seeing not to understand that you curse somebody making such a prediction that cursing they don’t even understand the concept of cursing.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right, that was one of the implications that you sort of close to at of your very first chapter of the book is that Pico Mirandola who would have written the largest attack on astrology ever in like the 15th century that some astrologers in response sort of looked at his chart and predicted his death but that in doing so they thought they were making objective statement about something that would take place but you feel like when you start getting involved and you start implicating yourself by making statements that you incorporate yourself and that your intentionality has potentially some effect on the outcome.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: That is right and those astrologers, it is three astrologers Florence as well recorded, recorded in Gaurico predicted against Pico after he wrote a great text against the astrologers, they predicted his death before the 33rd year of his life and he did die, you know he died young and so he used debate about that.
Now the story what is amazing about that story and I do make quite private early on in the Moment of Astrology is the way that gets there is a legendary amplification occurs until you get to time of Sir Christopher Heydon, Gadbury beginning to say that the astrologers of predicted as if to the very day the death of this man such as the greatness of the art of astrology, you see it fulfills a desire that can easily enter into astrology have this type of power and the astrologers if question would not the outer answer the question of do you therefore wish this man dead? against all possibilities say of curing him or hoping him you wish him dead in order to prove the efficacy of your judgements and that is how get we finally states it and that is inability to see that ethical magical nature of the spiritual involvement of the astrologer in the material, the inability to see that a regardless of most negative consiquencive one outward working of the Ptolemaic tradition, absolutely do not playing Ptolemy for that because as Pico and Ficino show it, it is a misreading anyway of Aristotelianism to claim that type of irregular judgement but there is a terrible twist in astrology that is let to that and we still suffer from the, you know there is ebb of that same undertow I would say of that same mood can inflict astrology and you really need a good understanding of either Qabalah or magic true understanding or symbolism or of Jung indeed to counter that type of, I would say truely incorrect and damaging understanding.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: So I do have…, it is a very big target to take on in moment but I don’t go on and go on about it but it is a thread throughout the whole text so which is my attack on that sort of determinism.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah and I would really love to maybe do have another discussion with you about that at some point maybe here on the podcast, just because I definitely have to admit that sometimes falling into that because of my sort of interest in the Hellenistic astrologers and seeing this other thread that was happening simultaneously that was quite separate from Ptolemy which was the Stoic sort of acceptance of divination on the one hand but on the other hand there is sort of view of things being completely predetermined which you know has its most poetic expression in Manilius but you also show up in astrologers like Valens although in the book you really, you clearly express that you feel like that is a misapplication and sort of a not good manifestation of astrology a distortion of what the astrology was up to that point rather than something that should be viewed as like an objectively true sort of approach onto itself so yeah, I would love to get into that and talk about more at some point.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, certainly, this is one of the biggest debates in astrology itself, it really. Yes, it is…, what does one do? I suppose at least I would like the reader or person thinking about the background astrology and using the Moment of Astrology to help them to see that there is a very clear division between a katarchic approach and a more deterministic approach and I use pure Valens to expose that I greatly admire and respect and yet in this I must sort of take a different view philosophically it is simple as that, it is as a Platonist will finally reject the Stoic position probably,it is a…, but there are a huge issues there as you will know and Stoicism is actually so little in many ways understood or properly reference that there are many aspects of Stoicism and I don’t want to just stupid condemn the ways of thought.It is a…,
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. Yeah and we can get into that later and then you can condemn it once you had it before but so the last point, the very last point I want to make and ask you about is just that one of the points you make as I was reviewing some of my old notes about the book is you actually make a statement I want to point in the Moment of Astrology that you don’t want and you don’t think we should simple retreat back to a simple that appeal to divination is not a simple attempt to retreat away from a causal and therefore testable scientific method of astrology to an acausal view which some modern astrologers associate sort of like a modified version of Jung’s concept of synchronicity which your partner Maggie Hyde has sort of critiqued in and of itself but one of your point is that you don’t want the appeal to divination to simply be reduced to an acausal conceptualization of essentially the same thing. Right?
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, yes I say that ………clearly in the book that is interesting.
CHRIS BRENNAN: I mean I am not sure if you say that …,
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: …it is like a sentence which I picked up is that implication at least…
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Yes, it is not. No, it is not sufficient… Okay, I wish Jung had a flu understanding of astrology, let’s put it that way round, astrology doesn’t have to rely on even remarkable modes of thoughts such as Jung has given us to find its own way of understanding, this is its own way of understanding revivals itself to in astrology so to speak so these reductions are always difficult for astrology and it is not enough for us, what we need I think to intellectually engage with a several different ways of thought I think ancient and modern and there are aspects of modern thought and modern hermeneutics that really we need to engage with and in that way our practice will become stronger but I am not asking for reduction to anyone particular model so I hope that is clear and the problem is anyway with using a model of synchronicity as you indicate so it isn’t enough because there is something extraordinary about the so the doctrine of correspondence is some of way that there are peculiarities of nature to support the symbols of astrology so I really really don’t want to loose the possibility of a true spiritual natural astrology, although that sounds completely, I can’t put that together coherently with most modern arguments but I am certain as an intuition that must be so there is no one solution here.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. Well, I think that is probably you know the most intellectually reasonable sort of position to take when it comes to hugely complex matters like this sometimes rather than attempting to you know pretend as if one has all of the answers or can resolve every sort of minor detail but it is a respectable sort of position to sort of yourself in.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Thanks Chris. Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: All right. Well.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Okay so…
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, this has been great. Thank you so much for coming on this show. This has definitely been one of the most interesting and thought provoking and just definitely one of my favorite interviews that I have ever done on the podcast so thank you a lot for doing this.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Thank you Chris for this opportunity to speaking. You have asked some really really great questions. Thank you very much.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Great. Well, I hope everybody will go out if they haven’t already and get a copy of your book and read it for themselves and sort of draw their own conclusions about the Moment of Astrology which is published currently by Wessex and then where can people find out more information about your work?, or what you are up to…
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: I have a website which will be updated……… it is now but the website have got corrections and some agenda to do with Moment of Astrology so if they go to www.astrodivination.com that is where they find more material, there are some little errors and little irritating things that I do put write in the…, and if anybody have found errors they want me correct then I will certainly put them online so that is where to go for it and I have got some other ideas on the another context.
CHRIS BRENNAN: All right. Excellent. Well, yeah people should definitely check that out and great.
All right. Well, thank you very much for coming on the show.
GEOFFREY CORNELIUS: Thank you. Good bye, Chris.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Thanks everyone for listening and we will see you next time.
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