The Gift Of Perspective

An Artist’s View On Perspective, Astronomy, And Astrology

The Most Crowded Place In Our Galaxy (The Milky Way). Arches Cluster in the constellation of Sagittarius. Credit: NASA/ESA 2015

Please take a moment to do the following before reading further:

  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, drawing the breath from below and around your belly button.
  • Hold the breath in for a couple seconds.
  • Then, release it slowly through your mouth like an audible sigh.
  • Now, smile. Yes, even if you don’t feel like it, and it feels kind of fake. Smile, and then release any tension you are holding in your body with another belly breath in and out.
  • Take one more deep breath, in and out, in the same way. Then, smile again.

Now, consider this. You are here:

  • You are an inhabitant on the planet Earth, also known as: “The Good Goddess”, “Gaea”, and Terra Mater
  • The Good Goddess: Terra Mater, is the 3rd planet from her (relatively young) Sun, which is known as: Sol or Helios
  • Our Helios solar system orbits the galactic center of our slightly warped barred spiral galaxy, which is called: The Milky Way
  • We are within the minor Orion “spur” (near the Sagittarius and Perseus major arms) of the Milky Way
  • Our solar system is estimated to be one of 10 – 100 billion solar systems in our Milky Way galaxy. 
  • Astronomers now estimate that there are at least 100-200 billion observable galaxies in the Universe.
  • At the galactic center is Sagittarius A, which is near the constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius.
  • Sagittarius A Star, in the Sagittarius A area, is a newly discovered radio source, and is also near the location of what is believed to be a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.
  • The first photograph of a supermassive black hole was shared on April 10th, 2019. This black hole was taken from a neighboring galaxy to Sag A*, M87. Messier 87 is further away, but larger than the supermassive black hole in Sag A*.
Artistic rendition of the Milky Way galaxy, created Sept. 12, 2013.
NASA_JPL-Caltech/R.Hurt

It is still a mystery what the true nature of our universe is…

It is important to keep in mind, that the Earth itself is invisible within scale of size compared to some of the universe’s most gargantuan heavenly bodies.  If the Earth is invisible in scale to some heavenly bodies, what does that make us? What is beyond invisible?

Yet, we are present and in relationship with all that is. This is amazing and good to orient ourselves in this way, beyond the mundane, while remaining rooted in facts of reality, as we know them so far!

This is what we call perspective on the grand scale…thanks to astronomy.

About Perspective

Perspective is personal and subjective.  And it can change suddenly, with a new experience, new thought, and by getting distance from things we have become too mired in.

As an artist, I find that when I work on a piece, sometimes I become too close to it, and lose perspective — much like a teenager focusing too much on one feature — losing all perspective on actual proportion and objectivity. 

Often, I need to walk away from a piece of art I am working on, stand at a distance, look at it upside down, and even put it away for a while in order to see it with fresh eyes, and as it really is. When I do that, then I can appreciate it, and know what it needs, or that it is done.

Differing perspectives can grant us new glimpses of reality that we hadn’t considered. This can actually shift our mindset and cycle of thoughts and habits for good. Perspective can give us  space  to breathe, imagine, and create anew. 

Perspective can release undue pressures, and refocus our attention on facts of core, maybe overlooked, importance. If you did the breathing and smiling exercise at the beginning, and then read the astronomy “you are here” facts, did that change your mood and perspective in any way?

Our minds too often fixate and replay old thoughts and stories without taking in enough of what is happening, what is real now, and the scale of our experience across the dimensions of time and space. Breaking out of those confines means opening ourselves to new thoughts and points of view, literally, figuratively, and through movement, like travel.

Myth, Mysticism, and Symbolism

While astronomy is able to give us that amazing perspective on the grand scale, as demonstrated at the beginning of this article, astrology accomplishes this as well, only in different ways.

Symbolism and mythology are, and have always been, a basic foundation in all schools, cultures, eras, and approaches of astrology worldwide. It has also always been a way to frame the spiritual and mystical with symbolic interpretations of our life experience on Earth from our viewpoint “below” that reflects some of the “above”.

The deeper meaning found in astrology asserts that we matter, and have a right — a place (birthright) in the scheme of things in this galaxy — whether we have power, wealth, recognition, privilege, or anything else or not.  This is fertile ground for symbolic and archetypal self-exploration (the microcosm reflecting a macrocosm) and mysticism.

Zodiac Anatomy. Art by: Limbourg brothers circa 1411/1416, US-PD.

The 12 Zodiac Signs

The twelve zodiac signs, used in western astrology charts, are largely rooted in names and stories that come from Greek, Roman, and even Babylonian and Egyptian mythology and symbols.

The western zodiac signs are symbols based on the zodiac constellations, yet they are not the same thing. The zodiac was documented by ancient astronomers, many of whom were also astrologers at the time. Astronomy has since moved well beyond the twelve signs used in astrology.

It is important to understand this: astrological signs aren’t astronomy’s constellations. The constellations are numerous, vast, and literal. The astrological zodiac signs are symbolic, limited to twelve, and are related to our point of view from Earth. Astrology’s signs aren’t real in the astronomical sense. They are symbols created by math and the Sun’s relationship to the Earth throughout a year’s time — something called the ecliptic. The astrological zodiac is an area in the sky that is seen from our, on the ground, point of view.  Astrology is personal and symbolic. Yet, that doesn’t limit the depth and relevance of this esoteric tool.

The Astrological Birth Chart

The birth (natal) chart is the foundation for most every kind of personal report in astrology. The astrological birth chart is an imprint of us, our total life here, from the vantage point of our geographical placement (latitude and longitude) and time of birth entry on this planet, and again, in relationship to some of the main heavenly bodies in our little solar system neighborhood.

The birth chart contains personal potentials in the many areas of life — from the deep and shallow, daily and routine, to the mystical and esoteric. The planets, stars, and other heavenly bodies used in astrology are utilized as symbols that enrich our point of view, and help us to gain new perspective about ourselves and our possible life trajectories.

In addition to the 12 zodiac signs, western astrology uses:

  • Mythology and mythological archetypes
  • Symbols: elements (earth, air, fire, water), modes of dealing with change and collaboration (fixed, mutable, cardinal), and yin or yang energy
  • Aspects, which are dynamics of energy, based on degrees of relationship between heavenly bodies and our time and place of birth
  • Ancient to modern methods/calculations based on the heavenly bodies’ relation to when and where an individual (or other event) is born on Earth, down to minutes, latitude and longitude  

The birth chart itself:

  • The chart is a mandala (circle) that is divided into 12 sections, called houses, which represent different areas of life, from the personal and private to the public and transpersonal
  • The calculation of the astrological birth chart is the basis for all other calculations and reports made in astrology
  • The birth chart is relevant for the individual’s lifetime, and covers nearly every important area of life with some surprising detail
  • The birth chart encompasses a lifetime, therefore time is represented (past, present, potential future), yet it is also timeless — filled with spectrums of layered potentials, strengths, and challenges

Astrology is an incredible timely, yet timeless tool, which can illuminate many things, including: influences, patterns, cycles, inheritances, and dynamics in our now, in our past, and even our potential future. The main heavenly bodies in our solar system, in western astrology, represent qualities of personality, lessons, patterns, cycles of energy, phases, and time, as well as dynamics and tendencies related to myth-inspired archetypes.

For the astrologer, the planets and other heavenly bodies of focus (asteroids and mystical points, for example) amazingly mirror our inner and outer realities in perplexing, yet accurate ways. The tool is complex and layered.

In looking at only one or two aspects of a birth chart, like the Sun sign, Rising (ascendant) sign or Moon, the big picture is missed, and  key facts may be missed or misinterpreted. This is most often due to other areas of the chart that are more dominant. This can significantly change an interpretation and understanding. For example, I had a client that was an earth Sun sign, but never felt it was accurate or applied to her. It wasn’t obvious in the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant, but she was actually predominantly a water person, with all of her other planets in water signs. When I explained her natal chart to her in a consultation, she found relief and happiness in hearing, finally, aspects of her own experience mirrored accurately for her in the astrological interpretation.

Experiencing the in-depth interpretation of a birth chart is an esoteric and mystifying perspective, and so interesting to experience and share.

No belief required.

Astrology is an esoteric spiritual tool that can provide pivotal and helpful insights, which come from interpretations of symbols in relationship to each other that are based on astronomy, mythology, and earth-based symbols, patterns, and cycles.

We do not need to believe in astrology in order for it to be useful and real. It is just like how we have no need to believe in a paint brush, a wrench, or in clay in order to use and benefit from any of them…just like we do not need to believe in meditation in order to practice it and benefit from it.

Astronomy VS Astrology?
How About A Holistic Vision Of Both/And

Instead of lumping astronomy and astrology together, and instead of comparing them as competing practices, I find that it is much more reasonable and fulfilling to abandon the either/or approach in favor of a more holistic both/and approach to different disciplines, and ways of seeing and interpreting things.

Astronomy is a scientific discipline that gathers and develops information, research, evidence, discoveries, theories, and facts about our physical existence on Earth, in this solar system, galaxy, and universe. All of the information and exploration, as well as the images, and growing knowledge about the true nature of our universe is the result of a legacy from ancient astronomers that evolved into what modern astronomers and scientists now provide. It is captivating and inspiring to learn about and explore. Astronomy is fascinating and inspiring. It certainly has the power to lift us up into breathtaking and mind-boggling new perspectives. We need that!

And, despite the adversarial and dismissive tone taken by some scientists and astronomers about astrology, astrology also remains strong and relevant. They may call astrology a pseudoscience or placebo all they want, if that is what they need to do in order to distance themselves from astrology and assert their specialized authority.  However, this doesn’t change the fact that astronomy can and does enrich the ancient and vast traditions of astrology, yet…it can never replace it.

As someone who has overcome great odds with the help of creative and spiritual tools and techniques, I understand the importance of spiritual practices — meaning, ritual, and the rich sacred value of symbolism, intuition, and imagination.

There is also great value found in ethical science, logic, and critical thinking.  I refuse to abandon either one. We don’t have to.

A holistic approach and vision means that science and spirituality don’t have to agree, speak the same, or see the same…AND neither one can, or needs to, replace the other. They are individual, loosely related, and part of a whole — which is much bigger than either one.

Most of us need some sort of deeper meaning and context in order to enrich our lives, and experience fulfillment — we often don’t limit that deeper meaning and context to one discipline, genre, or perspective.

Our intelligence (emotional and intellectual), and our spirit (energy and consciousness) thrive when we are able to place meaning, and a deeper sense of purpose into the fabric of our lives — while also addressing, in real ways, what is broken, what needs to be faced, and what needs to be encouraged — in order to begin or continue healing. Partly, this often involves weaving many different aspects, disciplines, and points of view together. We are well within our rights to synthesize and adapt what we see, learn, and know. Our ability to work with symbols, mystical aspects of life, and apply deeper meaning within scientific claims and discoveries is a part of our unique perspective and being as humans.

Free Will, Fate, And Improvisation

As human beings, we have free will, choice, action, instinct, common sense, intuition and presence. This is despite qualities and energies that seem to be or are, in some sense, fated or fixed. We are not bound by fate entirely, in life or in astrology — even though there are some fixed dynamics in life and personality in some ways. 

For the most part, l i f e is an improvisational dance…unpredictable and changeable.

Maybe what is really needed, is to discipline our thoughts and emotions; practice awareness, and exercise our sacred imagination for collective and personal benefit and enrichment. If this is true, it is good news, as long as we are willing to face and take responsibility for our shortcomings, continue learning, growing, and respond and act on the information we are given in the best ways possible — unique to each of us. That means looking at our blind-spots, wounds, and shadow qualities as much as our gifts, talents, and amazing potential.

This also means doing the work we are meant to do seriously and earnestly. Still, it is important to not take ourselves or each other too seriously! Good humor is essential. 

Good humor helps us to endure challenges and hardships, maintaining sanity and balance. The best comedians illuminate what is wrong in a way that awakens and frees us, via real heart, mind, and belly laughter. The best comedians touch on truths that jolt us into really and joyfully seeing how weird we and life are, and the dysfunctions that we deal with in our culture. Good humor relieves some of the pressure points of pain, and gives us space to breathe and clarity to see, process, and address it anew. Any discipline, from the scientific to the mystical, can benefit from maintaining humor.

An Ancient, Diverse Legacy

The history and use of astrology in conjunction with astronomy has been going on since ancient times.  Astronomy and Astrology were one in ancient times  —  identical twins, in a way  —  who later parted ways (circa 1400–1700).  Astrological tradition has continued in different ways throughout history and around the world:  Egyptian, Hellenistic, Indian, Chinese, Greek, Roman, Indigenous, and Renaissance Europe.  Each had and has their approach and system/rules for calculations, perspective, and symbolism.  Many are complex and layered.

Byzantine Mosaic Of The Zodiac Wheel. PD

There are esoteric, evolutionary, humanist, classic, modern, ancient, many Indigenious systems and schools of thought. There is the Heliocentric (Sun-centered, using Sidereal zodiac) or Geocentric (Earth-centered, using Tropical zodiac) differing ways to calculate houses, varying degrees for orbs, and more . There are countless origins, approaches, technical details, and facets to astrology.

For example, one school of astrology is Jyotisha, also known as Hindu (Indian) astrology. In more recent history, the Western world calls it Vedic astrology. Hindu beliefs about karma influence Hindu astrology. Also, Hindu astrology uses the Sidereal zodiac. In contrast, Western astrology usually uses the Tropical zodiac.

In ancient times, astronomy and astrology were most often united, rather than separate. Religion and mythology were integrated with the mathematical calculations and observations related to the night sky.

Here is a general and rough estimate of a timeline for some ancient astronomy-astrology origins:

  • Indigenous worldwide (ancient BC)*
  • Mesopotamian/Sumerian (6000-4500 BC)
  • African (3900 BC)
  • Irish (3200-2900 BC)
  • Babylonian/Chaldean (3200 BC)
  • Egyptian (3000 BC)
  • Indian (2000 BC)
  • Mayan (2000 BC)
  • Chinese (1500 BC)
  • Greek (700 BC)
  • Hellenistic (525 BC) Egypt: conquered by Persians, Mesopotamian influence
  • (332 BC) Greek/Roman: Alexander the Great, Greek influence mixed with Babylonian (“Chaldean wisdom”), Horoscopic, and Egyptian
  • Ptolemy (140 AD)
  • Aztec (1300 AD)

*Western history has no firm dates for Indigenous star knowledge and teachings, yet there is an established legacy among Nations and tribes around the world, that belong in ancient BC, before or like — the estimated Sumerian, African, and Irish astronomy origin dates.

The countless approaches in astrology differ greatly, even within one system. There are different calculations within and between systems, different orientation (earth-centric or sun-centric), different symbols, and different philosophies.

Astrology has ancient roots globally, and it endures. The global longevity, with room for different viewpoints, methods, new discoveries, adaptations, and approaches, is evidence of its ongoing usefulness as a tool for personal development that seeks to be aware of being present in the universe, connected to universal qualities, cycles, patterns, and potentials.

However each of us gains new and expansive perspective, it is a gift that aids in our enrichment, well-being, and development. The sky is the most expansive physical reality we experience in this life. Becoming curious and interested in the many ways we can nourish our lives in relationship to it, the better!

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