Astrology, Alchemy and Natural Observations


    Astrology, Alchemy and Natural observations I like to think of Astrology as a mytho-poetic language that expands consciousness from a deep past to a distant future, constantly reflecting a moment in time from a microcosm to a macrocosm. It was spoken and contemplated by the likes of Confucius, Aristotle, Dante, Plato, Milton, Paracelsus, Alexander the Great, Sir Francis Bacon, Byron, Shelley, Emerson, Napoleon, Nostrodamus, Pythagoras and the “Father of Medicine”, Hippocrates and these are just the western minds. As for scientists and astronomers who were also known astrologers, there were: Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, Sir Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Carl G. Jung etc…

    Astrology and astronomy were inseparable when it was being developed by the Babylonian and Hellenistic Greeks because the sun then was actually in the constellation Aries during the vernal equinox. This is known as Tropical Astrology and has only to do with the path of the sun through the zodiac coinciding with the equinoxes and solstices. After that time the astronomer’s zodiac is only used symbolically as our Solar system has moved away from its fixed stars.

    As an herbalist my interest in observing and communing with Nature has to do with the study of Alchemy and the making of plant/mineral medicinals. Alchemy is a study of transformation from the constant interplay of the actions: coagulate and dissolve. The word “alchemy” comes from the Arabic al-kemi, al meaning God and kemi, meaning chemistry, the whole word therefore, meaning God’s Chemistry.

    In the latter 15th and early 16th century, there lived a man named Paracelsus. He was a physician, philosopher and alchemist with a broad knowledge of the alchemical preparation of remedies from substances found in the natural world. This knowledge of remedy preparation from plants, minerals and metals incorporated Astrology with the observations of Nature. Understand that Astrology of that time was not held in contempt or in mockery as it is now portrayed. To “tell a vision” then, was to observe the tapestry of the sky and witness the phenomena that related the activities around us and in Nature: “As above, so below.” Agriculture depended on it and the farmers cultivated not only food but a deep wisdom of “stewardship” that has been passed on through the Ages. Presently we are only a few generations from living on a farm and already the level of our health and the understanding of how to sustain it have been vanishing with the rise of technology and synthetic medicine. “Television” today is observed through a tube as a means to disconnect from Nature, no matter how noble its intentions. In a twisted way we could probably say that: we “are” winning the war on the environment.

    To strengthen the center of any given “worldview”, it is important to first establish a “view” of the world. Begin by observing Nature and her transformations through the course of four seasons. This will begin to dissolve all prejudices and biases formed by religions and western medicine. Much of what I will say will be in the language that has been passed on through the Ages in all cultures. But the common denominator will be like seeing through the eyes of an herbalist and farmer never losing his sight from the seed to the crop and the preparations of the soil that occur afterwards.

    As you stand on the Earth and observe the sky you will notice that the stars travel from East to West, as if the entire heavens were turning around you once every twenty-four hours. You are at the center while the sky is slowly revolving around you. Astrology is founded exactly on this generalization which takes into account only the apparent positions and movements of the stars, calling it a geocentric system.

    Now place your attention into Nature, observing her annual cycle and each year you will see the bursting forth of a green tapestry with blossoms, fragrances, warmth and dynamic activity. Even in a given lifetime, one can never exhaust the new discoveries and deeper understanding of what can be learned watching the unfoldment and refoldment process of Nature. At springtime, plant life is impulsive and stops at nothing. It begins to spread its green carpet everywhere. When summer arrives, the Cornucopia of Nature matures and harvesting begins. Then, little by little Nature withers and decays, withdraws and seems to fall asleep into latter fall and winter. By observing the details of the successive stages of growth and decay, astrologers, farmers and alchemist of the past, discovered the laws of nature. The rhythm of this knowledge has formulated a language that speaks from the heart of Nature far into the Cosmos and back. This rhythm is a cadence that unifies all living things and when broken, it becomes “de-cadence”. Our modern world can easily right itself simply by rediscovering, adopting and understanding the Way in which our ancestors reasoned.

The first thing to notice is that nature’s cycle can be broken into two distinct phases:

    First is an outgoing phase when the vernal equinox of equal day and night begins the spring season and climaxes through the summer season. At this time, days become longer and the nights shorter, temperatures rise and activities increase. Seeds burst forth and animate Nature into countless species of the Plant Kindom: flowers, fruit, berries, grasses, grains, beans, vegetables, herbs, seeds etc. and all of the hidden or invisible forces that create this passion play included. Sequentially, Nature is in full display and the end of summer is approached with the autumn equinox.

    Second is the ingoing phase that starts with the autumn equinox and the plants die away entirely. Now the days grow shorter, for the sun is heating the opposite hemisphere, thus symbolically vitalizing the earth hidden beneath our feet. At this time, also, the earth, exhausted after having nourished a year’s vegetation, undergoes the preparation which will renew its regenerative powers during the time of late fall and all of winter. Now let’s add the roles played by the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water, whose significance today is somewhat lost but can easily be recovered.

    The last subdivision of the natural cycle is the all familiar four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Pythagoras, who was not only the father of mathematics and music, also made correspondences to the four elements and the four seasons. He also mentions the twelve signs of the zodiac of which three make up each season. I have to include here that Pythagoras was born in 569 BC and died in 475 BC, just to demonstrate that long before Pythagoras outlined a structure of correspondences, there was a growing language or knowledge that we (ancestors) have been observing, building upon and communicating. For example the days of the week were named after the seven heavenly spheres of the sun, moon and planets, all of which could be seen with the naked eye. The sun is associated with Sunday, the moon with Monday, and in all of the Latin languages using French as an example, Tuesday is Mardi after mars, Wednesday is Mercredi after Mercury, Thursday is Jeudi after Jupiter, Friday is Vendredi after Venus and Saturday is Saturn. Four weeks marked the length of a lunar cycle called a “moonth” and now shortened to a “month.” And so despite the ridicule that the voices of ignorance shower upon Astrology, we still manage to communicate daily in Astrological terms. Three astrological months delineate the sun’s travel from an equinox to a solstice and from a solstice to an equinox and on. The equinoxes are of equal day and night and the solstices are the longest day and shortest night or the longest night and shortest day.

    After what seems like a long fall and winter, the soil and its crystalline trace minerals have recharged with etheric forces and are once again energetic and fertile, but still waiting for the right moment to activate.

    So now let’s explore the natural phenomena of the Zodiac and see the connections that occur within and without as the sun journeys through the seasons. The vernal equinox begins in the constellation Aries (March 21st-April 19th). At this time in Nature, the sun rises above the horizon and the days start getting longer with the upper hemisphere of earth getting warmer.

    Aries is the element of Fire which glows and ignites the seed into activity rising from roots to stem after a long winter of dormancy. It is a time of release and expansiveness in the plant world. The trees are swelling with buds ready to burst into leaves; early flowers appear breaking though the remaining snow and the early shoots of the grasses begin to form a green bed across the land. During this time of awakening, the vital fluids of nature are sought after by herbalists/alchemists to capture the fire within the vital force of the plants. It is best observed in the early morning hours around dawn on a clear and calm day. The songbirds fill the air with enchanting sounds and the gathering of buds, and new growth is most important because it contains the essence of morning dew and the rising fluids of sap. These vital fluids become essential ingredients for the making of elixirs and plant medicine. Aries is symbolized by the powerful Ram because it represents the dynamic pushing force of nature breaking through. It’s not unusual to see what seems to be a fragile plant breaking through a cement sidewalk, asphalt pavement or wooden cracks of an old shed. The impetus of the plant world at this time is to push out. And of course, literally, the rams are “butting heads” in order to gain dominance in their mating season.

    The glyph or written symbol of Aries is , which represents the head of the Ram. It also appears like a seedling plant breaking through the ground and forming its first two leaves. And for the human being it represents the ascending line of the nose to include the eyebrows, which is also the seat of vitality and mantles the third eye. The planet that influences Aries is Mars whose symbol is and its mode of action is an outward force such as centrifugal motion. At another time I will go more deeply in the planetary influences and how they affect the body. At this time though, I will only add that Mars corresponds to the impulsive nature of plants and all medicines concerning fevers, bleeding, cuts, bruises, broken bones etc. Mars has to do with “Emergency” situations just as the drive of the plant world in the time of Aries is to “emerge and see”. Plants such as Arnica, Yarrow, Calendula, Feverfew etc. are all Mars plants and are used effectively in emergencies. In all three kindoms of animal, human and plant, you can easily see that the ram signifies the impetus to rise and to grow under the dynamism of the fiery element. Those born in the time of Aries have the psychological component to thrive, be enterprising, and explore new heights and grounds. They are leaders, strong willed and can be very head strong. They are certainly not followers. They have vision and are very goal oriented. With achievement in mind, the sky is the limit. Their innate psychology is as if they were just released from prison and are now free. They have a lot of catching up to do and this is one sign that takes every opportunity to experience everything even if it means not get any sleep. Fire signs in general love to burn out but Aries folk make it an art form. This time of Aries is a time when the fiery element can easily burn the dross of the long winter so long as there is activity. It is a new cycle for strengthening the immune system and a good time to begin new health regiments that can cultivate greater vitality physically, mentally and spiritually. The sun’s rays are brighter, the light spectrum is wider, the air is full of sparkle (vitality globules), and despite what the market is doing, everything in nature is in an “all systems go” mode. Take early morning walks and listen to the symphony of the birds. Explore new realms like Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Qong, and Meditation. Eat simply, fresh and vibrant produce, drink more water, breathe deeply in gratitude and live in the knowledge that you are loved. Like skip roping, one has to jump in at the right time to stay in step with the rhythm of the ropes; the time of Aries is the right time to jump in with the rhythm of new life forces.

    Check in to this website from time to time, as we will explore a new venture in the sign of Taurus and what stage Nature is unfolding. Remember, “Hocus pocus, it’s all where you focus; the more you look, the more you see.” In the time of Taurus we will be walking into the Earth element and the enchantment of Venus.

    I utilize Astrology to make herbal spagyric remedies as well discerning the constitutions of clients for whom they would best apply. Part of the curriculum I provide as a natural health educator is to introduce a basic understanding of Astrology in relation to natural remedies and how they are used to bring about alignment in the body/mind continuum. If you are interested in learning more about Astrology and its applications to health and well being, contact me by e-mail or phone.

Bibliography: Gold of a Thousand Mornings by Armand Barbault Astrology by Jeff Mayo The Planets Within by Thomas Moore

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