Astrology and the Brain


Sixty Minutes had a story tonight about the success they’ve had reading people’s thoughts by scanning brain activity. Neuroscience is an area that seems to be making huge gains over the last number of years and every few months there seems to be a new story about areas or the brain, or brain patterns that, they’ve learned to identify. I’ve always thought that the physical roots of astrology were more likely to be found in biology than physics, and in the brain particularly since that is literally the point where mind meets matter. 


I have spent a lot of time over the years, as I think most astrologers have, trying to reconcile the incompatibilities between my admiration for the methods of science and for the methods of astrology. I also found that, for myself, when I tried to approach astrology as a science it ceased to be as valuable to me. When I first read about Gauqelin’s study of birth times and professions, my reactions were divided. I liked the idea that something in astrology might be confirmed as a hard fact, but at the same time I found it limiting. If I saw Mars on the ascendant, I didn’t want to just say that that put it in a class shared by athletes and soldiers, I wanted to expound on the associations and symbolism that I had gathered about Mars from other experiences. It could be said that the one shouldn’t effect the other, but that didn’t seem to be true to me. It’s like buying a license, you have to agree to all the fine print as well. If I wanted to use the term scientific, I was obliged to use it in a scientific manner, and I knew what I was doing in my mind was not science. When I tried to be scientific, I excluded extraneous thoughts and when I was interpreting a chart I was trying to include as much as possible. I termed the difference as rational and irrational thinking, though those weren’t the best terms. In rational thinking, sequence and causation were everything, while irrational thinking was associative, like dreams or intuitions. I didn’t think one method was superior to another, but each definitely had their own place and it was not always easy to keep them separate. In fact, the time I spent trying to think of a scientific explanation for astrology was not so much an effort to prove astrology as it was an effort to resolve these two sides of my brain. Eventually, I decided that they didn’t have to be resolved, they only had to be balanced. If I spent too long of a time with one side dominating I usually paid the price in some sort of emotional anxiety. 


The brain is an incredible organ and it is really only recently, in my life time, that they’ve begun any real objective study of it. The brain may have developed to manage the nervous system, but it seems to have developed far beyond that, so it obviously proved to be of evolutionary use, most likely as an organ of self-defense. My understanding, which I think is the conventional thinking, is that it was originally designed for pattern-matching, so that the organism could collect the data from all the senses and compare it to stored memory patterns and be able to quickly identify situations of danger or situations that held promise of food or shelter. If this is true, then associative thinking is the senior though processing method and logical thinking evolved from that. Somewhere along the line self-consciousness would have developed, but when is hard to say without defining what consciousness is. The thoughts that flashed through the mind when an organism sticks it’s head out of a cave are not that different than when it must have been when it first turned it’s head up to the sky. Or what they are today when an astrologer looks at a chart. Mainly, it’s what’s happening? is it good or bad? 


If neuroscience can map similarities between the brain’s recognition of different situations, it would seem possible that these patterns, outside of direct stimuli, might appear in cyclical patterns. So many organisms seem to have internal biological clocks that it’s likely that they should be able to identify them. I don’t expect that little triangles will appear at good times and squares at bad times, and of course the scientific attitude will be that there is no reason to impose age-old concepts on them, but the patterns will be age-old. 


I like and admire the discoveries and explanations of science, but what really delights me are the irrational thoughts, the off-the-wall associations, the crazy things astrologers say that come just from the overall patterns and have no real reason to them. These are the impressions that energize poetry and music and give my life a sense of meaning. If neuroscience can discover new patterns in our life that we never suspected, I imagine that astrologers will find a way to link them to the symbols of the universe.



One Response to Astrology and the Brain

  1. […] the original post: Astrology and the Brain posted on January 14th, 2009 under […]

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