IN SEARCH OF TRUTH AND WISDOM - Planetary Influences
In response to a question regarding the place of astrology in the 21st century, astrologer and former Buddhist monk, Garry Phillipson, voiced the sentiment:
‘I would hope that the establishment begins to recognize that truth is more ambiguous, elusive, and symbolic than science currently allows.’
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The Sun
The premise of Part 1 of this essay was that an individual’s truth is dependent on the colouring given by the spatial reference point of the birth chart combined with the cultural baggage of the person’s growth environment. Individual truth then takes on an ephemeral tone with the larger overarching Truth being the recognition of reality as seen through the other person’s eyes.

We have all had the experience of talking to a person who could be from Springfield (Homer Simpson):
‘Now Bart, we made this deal because I thought it would help you get good grades. And you didn't. But why should you pay for my mistake?’
Emotional factors frequently bias understanding such that a comment like “nice dress” may be taken favourably from a friend or with suspicion from an adversary. The realm of emotions includes a collection of subjective, conscious experiences with origins that predate the evolution of mammals - and because of their ancient origins, emotions and their causative triggers include more than the spoken word with the interplay of emotional responses constantly adapting to the complexity of the growth environment.

Without emotional nuances (Moon) the essential self (Sun) would have difficulty in relating and differentiating itself from its fellows, resulting in humanity lacking the glue to develop cohesive civilizations.

Astrologically the Sun represents the core self and the other personal planets – Moon, Venus, Mercury and Mars - all have a say in how a person perceives reality. Without love we would cease to care; without thought we wouldn’t know what went wrong; and without energy, all would wash down the drain.
The physical Sun is the source of life on Earth and it accounts for 99.86% of the mass of our solar system, with three quarters of the Sun’s mass contained in the simplest of atoms - hydrogen. As a result of the Sun’s enormous mass and powerful gravitational force, hydrogen atoms in the Sun’s core fuse to become helium atoms and in the process release energy. Sunlight takes 8.3 minutes to reach us but the energy that emits sunlight takes 17,000 to 50 million years to cook-up and travel from the Sun’s core to its surface.

In an astrological sense Robert Hand describes the Sun in a natives chart as:
‘…the symbolic astrological Sun is the basic energy of which all the other planetary energies are specialized reflections…The energy of the Sun does not simply accept, but always seeks to change, and, if possible, to improve. Above all, it seeks room for the greater expression of itself.’
The Moon
The Sun rotates on its axis in about 28 days while the Moon orbits in 27.3 days, which from the Earth’s point of view is 29.5 days. In pre-history times the Moon rotated faster and appeared larger than the Sun, but over the millennia the Moon has evolved into a ‘locked’ motion where only one side of the Moon is shown to Earth and its size has reduced so that it appears to be the same size as the Sun. These facts emphasize the astrological notion of the two bodies forming a dyad which is highlighted by the astrological significance of eclipses.

The Sun may be the source of energy for photosynthesis but as astrologer Thomas Zimmer mentions in his ‘Astrological Calendar and Moon Planting Guide’:
‘Planting by the Moon is a simple method of planning your activities in the garden…based on an age-old observation that the Moon is somehow a regulator of growth processes on Earth’.
The Moon embraces the Earth in its rotative movement and in the birth chart emotional responses embrace and protect the essential self of the Sun. Emotional responses include a consideration of cultural values and the platform from which the self views the world. If the Sun’s honour is under attack the Moon will intuitively blurt out an emotional response aimed at maintaining the Sun’s integrity. The Sun plays the Yang role of initiative while the Moon plays the Yin role of facilitation.

An exception to the incorporation of cultural values as part of the Moon’s expression is often evident when the Moon’s declination is outside the Sun’s maximum geocentric declination (23.28 degrees) or ‘out of bounds’. The Moon seems still to act in a personal way but it loses its connection with the native’s cultural background which seems to increase the native’s ability to think ‘outside the box’. (This will statistically occur in 15% of birth charts.)

In his recent article in the Astrological Association of Great Britains Journal , Steven Forrest noted a variety of qualities that correspond with the condition of ‘out of bounds’ moons these ranging from the ‘Ground Breaking’ genius of Albert Einstein (6th house Moon trine Venus) to the ‘Criminal Behavior’ of Peter Sutcliffe (8th House Moon conjunct Saturn), to ‘Theological Outlaws’ such as Jeddu Krishnamurti (11th House Moon opposite Venus), Ram Dass (5th House Moon square Venus) and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (5th House Moon conjunct Venus/Saturn and square Uranus), with Salman Rushdie (3rd House Moon conjunct Sun in Gemini semisquare Pluto) lumped into a ‘Sociopathic’ category with Rupert Murdoch (12th House Moon square Sun in Pisces).

The role of the Moon in unusual behavior can often be seen in sociopathic and psychopathic disorders , with these states being characterized by shallow feelings. It is estimated that 1 in 100 males in the United States is psychopathic while 4% of the US population (1 in 25) is classified as having a sociopathic disorder. The role of the Moon and Venus in these cases is emphasised in Liz Greene’s ‘The Dark Side of the Soul’ with astrologer Karin Hoffman making the observation in her review of Greene’s book:
‘It is fascinating, for example, that Moon and/or Venus often play a dominant role in charts of people whom we consider as psychopaths.’
The creation of our Sun is a mystery repeated in an infinite number of galaxies scattered like marbles across the Universe and supposedly the end result of the ‘big bang’ 13.75 billion years ago . Our Moon is non-the-less mysterious in the sense of containing the sum total of human emotional responses, commencing prior to the first realization of ‘me in the mirror’ and having a correspondence with our ability to recall events.
‘Numerous studies have shown that the most vivid autobiographical memories tend to be of emotional events, which are likely to be recalled more often and with more clarity and detail than neutral events.’
Unfortunately the Moon’s physical manifestation in emotional states can appear two faced with the other side sometimes referred to as ‘the dark side’.

Next closest of the personal planets is Venus and since Plato observed that ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ let’s consider the Venusian effect on Truth.
Venus is a planet of similar size and mass to the Earth with its orbital distance (from Earth) being on average half the distance of orbiting Mars and Mercury. Venus has the Yin quality of accommodation with its main attribute being a capacity for interconnectedness that derives from some sort of resonating affinity which is usually in line (but not always) with popular consensus.

If we are to transcend our emotional reality and its idiosyncratic foibles, then we need an unconditional feeling of being as one. In the evolution of life there must have been a point where there was no differentiation between you and me – perhaps before cells decided to clump together and form multicellular organisms. Our origins must include that point in time, and perhaps it is the calling up of this sentiment that provides spiritual leaders with a feeling of connection with a creator.

Assuming we are not lacking emotion to the point that we are classified as having a sociopathic disorder, how can a person develop personal behavior in a way that leans towards unconditional love and away from egoistic judgment? The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying:
‘All major religious traditions carry basically the same message - love, compassion and forgiveness, the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.’
Similarly Jesus Christ taught faith, understanding, love and right action and everything surrounding the aura of Christ indicates he understood the power of Truth. Unfortunately Christ wasn’t around long enough in physical form to do more than about four years of teaching with the Gospels being written 20 to 30 years after Christ’s Ascension. (The best presentation of his teachings is arguably contained in the 13th century writings of Thomas Aquinas’s and his Summa Theologica .)

In the East, Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment at age 35 and went on to teach until his death at age 80. One of the many similarities between Christ’s teachings and the Buddha’s is the use of meditation (an equivalent to prayer) which acts as a brake on the mind’s ramblings.

Venus is closer to the furnace of the Sun and receives twice the solar radiation received by the Earth. Mercury, being closer to the Sun receives five to ten times that of Earth, so perhaps Mercury holds the key that will eventually unlock the secrets of the Universe.

Before considering Mercury’s effect on Truth we need an explanation of the personal planet that orbits on the other side of Earth.
Although considered as a personal planet, Mars functions as an enhancer and director of personal traits rather than a creator. Its energy is applied to the machinations of emotion, love and ideas - all of which eventually become tools which Mars uses to claim supremacy and dominion.

When Mars interacts with a Venusian attraction its energy may express as desire; when Mars gets emotionally involved with the Moon it may accentuate neurosis or its energy may present in profound expressions of compassion, religious insight or dutiful family undertakings; and when Mars gets involved with the mind its energy can lead to argument or perhaps to strategic excellence.

The energy of Mars also facilitates physical exertion which regulates hormonal balance and is essential for optimizing the function of the brain and the longevity of the body.

In what is usually regarded as the domain of Pluto, the sublimation of Mars energy can lead to transformation through the successful development of self (Sun). In such cases the individual gets to the point of being comfortable enough with themselves that they no longer need to ‘prove themselves worthy of their own respect’ at which stage the ‘fire in the belly’ goes out. This is the occultist state of losing oneself where action becomes primarily motivated by the desire to be of service to others.

In its everyday effects the influence of Mars is to enhance personal traits and in relation to the neutral planet Mercury its energy usually creates a strong sense of personal ideology which may or may not be productive.
Mercury has a similar size to the Moon with its eccentric orbit being the closest to the Sun. The orbit distance of Mercury from the Earth is, on average, similar to that of Mars so perhaps Mercury’s ability to observe and reason is similar in importance to the Martian energy required to activate innate tendencies.

At times Mercury appears in retrograde motion (due to its close proximity to Earth), and at these times the native’s mental state is more reflective and subjective so that the objective world may not behave as one would rationally expect. At these times it would seem that Mercury is more influenced by the Moon and Venus than by the objectivity of the Sun.

Mercury may be a factor in Einstein’s discoveries (Mercury being conjunct Saturn); or it may be a factor in Newton’s brilliance (Mercury square Saturn); or in Mozart’s ability to compose (Mercury in a stellium with Sun and Saturn), but it would appear that each of these great thinkers derived their creativity from the sum total of their birth charts with Mercury playing the responsible role (Saturn influence) of being a receiver of creative thought.

As with the other personal planets Mercury’s influence in a natal chart is dependent on the interaction and changing focus of all the personal planets. But if the mind is to optimize its linking of the Sun’s essence with personal development then perhaps the mind would be of greater value playing the role of a ‘receiver’ for wholistic thought rather than a generator of personalised viewpoints. Neuroscientist, Rodolfo Llinas, is of the opinion:
‘Prediction, which is a forecast of what is likely to occur, is the ultimate function of the brain. All moving animals use this predictive ability to efficiently guide their behaviour in an ever-changing environment. Self is the centralization of prediction...But one must understand that there is no such tangible thing. It is just a particular mental state, a generated entity we refer to as I or self.’
The arousal of sexual appetite is usually motivated by impressions and active thought processes. Conversely meditation is an area of passive thought and a state in which solutions often pop out of the ether. Organically the origin of predictive thought has been related to the pineal gland - ‘the third eye’ - whose function seems to be antithetic to sexual mechanisms. The sexual response area of the brain is next to the pleasure centre and the hormones related to sexual response – most notably oxytocin, have many beneficial effects on the human body, but the sexual response is primarily a survival mechanism which has been built to withstand the reality of consequences. As Intimated in Llinas's statement above, predictive abilty is also a survival mechanism - the difference being its wholistic nature compared with sexuality which is self centred.

When Mercury is in difficulty and the mind becomes confused and non-directional, meditation is often suggested as a practical method of regaining focus. Dr Vinod D. Deshmukh concluded in his paper on the Neuroscience of Meditation (which included brain emission monitoring) that:
‘The ego continuously struggles to change the situation or itself, and suffers from pain and pleasure. Meditation, on the other hand, is the art of being alert and serene in the midst of any situation. It is the ultimate, adaptive reality-consciousness, continuously learning and renewing itself...’
Robert Hand also believes in the transcending quality of the meditative mind and in his Core Meanings of planets states:
‘I do not count introspection, meditation, and other forms of purely internal mental, psychic, or spiritual activity as taking place in the physical universe.’
The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, lived some 600 years prior to Christ and his search for truth ended in a do or die meditation under a tree where eventually, it is fabled, he found enlightenment. A possible birth date for the Buddha and a brief interpretation of his birth chart is included in the Appendix.

Regardless of the interpretive validity of Buddha’s proposed birth date, the Buddhist religion has left a mark on the modern world that demonstrates the truism and relevancy of its teachings. So what do the Buddhists believe is the central point of creation, and since the Buddhists version of God is Truth – what is Truth?
The Truth
In his treatise on the essence of creation the Hindu saint Swami Krishnananda makes the statement:
‘The whole universe is nothing but a set-up of relations, and not of things or objects. There is an interconnectedness of values, so that we may say that the world is a value, finally, and not even a scientific relation.’
The natal Moon with its library of emotional expressions is definitely something that relates to the interconnectedness of all things, but emotional expressions should be tempered by an ability to walk in another’s shoes, such that we understand multiple realities. Mentally a person who is focused will deal with concerns that serve the development of the whole rather than scattering thoughts in a magnification of personal injustices and self-glory.

Ultimately the actions of the individual will be judged by the results, with negative reactions focusing attention on areas that need developing. Astrology is a language that gauges Truth by the physical outcomes corresponding with, or against, planetary predictors. It is one of the few ways we can connect to a greater reality beyond our comprehension.

Unfortunately most people see themselves as being in charge of their own destiny and fail to remember how far from their true nature their various cultures have taken them. Astrology does not appeal to the masses because it has the connotation of taking away free will, and much as astrologers placate the public by asserting that the planets incline rather than dictate, it would seem to me that there is small room for action outside the script.

There are times in a person’s life when the essence of the moment provides insight along a developmental pathway but in between those times, real advancement comes via incremental steps in the application of Truth and the accumulation of Wisdom.

It is difficult to find the life, let alone live the life that we believe to be the natural flow of our particular incarnation. Truth should be a guide to self development and its cultivation a priority, since the path of Truth leads to a feeling of interconnectedness where the experience of coincidence becomes commonplace and peace filters quietly into conscious expression.
Hand, Robert Horoscope Symbols 1981, P47-49
Llinas, R.R. (2002) i of the vortex: From Neurons to Self. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
Hand, Robert Horoscope Symbols 1981, P. 51
(Nov 10th - Dec 6th, 2012)
The Sun
The Moon
The Truth