Monday, 29 August 2011

The Moon as Mind

In John Frawley’s book, the Real Astrology Applied, there is an interesting article (the Moon as Mind) about the role the Moon plays in determining the nature of the native’s mind. It is not Mercury, Frawley says, the important factor when it comes to mind, because Mercury is a servant and has no morality. If we give Mercury free rein, then we will have no sense of right and wrong and knowledge without morality is no true knowledge. The Sun is “knowledge”, the Moon “intuits” knowledge and Mercury’s role is simply to apply it. Frawley feels that this is the right way to view things, but after the Renaissance, that view was lost and Mercury, the servant, became king.

I feel that Frawley, in this article, by siding completely with the Moon, he underestimates Mercury. It is understandable, since he is a traditional astrologer, to want things to return to the way they were and his efforts to reinsert traditional mentality in the modern view of the cosmos is commendable, given the fact that it was completely put aside by the moderns and any link to tradition is nowadays considered a stupidity, as something obsolete. However, there must be an explanation for this sudden shift in mentality, mustn't it?

The real question, to my mind, is why did this adulation of Mercury actually take place? If everything was going well and the Moon’s view was correct, why was there a need for this radical shift in mentality? Why did Mercury completely take over? Could it be that the Moon, left to her own devices, led to extremes?

If one believes in the concept of the astrological ages, we are on the brink of leaving the age of Pisces and enter the age of Aquarius. This means that we were all experiencing the Jupiter/Mercury polarity (Ascendant/Descendant of the age). Some authors say that it is the Ascendant that lays the rules, but there needs to be a fine balance between Ascendant and Descendant, otherwise the Descendant part of the polarity will rebel, if repressed continuously for a significant amount of time. Jupiter, after some point, was completely out of control and Mercury naturally stepped in.

Jupiter is of course the arch-enemy of Mercury and represents intuitive knowledge. That’s why it rules religion and faith, because faith doesn’t require proof for it to exist. Strongly jupiterian people KNOW that there is a God or whatever else they really believe in and it doesn’t matter to them whether they can prove it or not. They just KNOW. Jupiter is very friendly with the Moon (the Moon exalts Jupiter in her sign) and the Moon shares Jupiter’s mentality. Jupiter, however, is the “fanatic”. One goes to a Catholic monastery and has an epiphany and then the Jupiter/Moon duo makes him say: “Oh my God! This religion business is true! I will become a Catholic!” But if he stopped to think and studied religion objectively, he would realize that all religions have stories of the same nature and these are not - by any means whatsoever - the exclusive privilege of Catholicism.

Mercury, on the other hand, asks the basic question. Do you believe that God exists? OK, prove it to me. If something cannot be proven, I cannot believe in it. Why is this useful? Because it can offer us absolute truths. Anything that is proven can be relied upon. It’s not the chaos of “I think this, you think that” and so on. This knowledge is stable and secure. Granted, it is indeed restrictive, because it allows no room for things that have not been proven yet to exist. But what about the Moon? Can it be equally restrictive?

The Moon’s knowledge comes through experience. The Moon rejoices in the 3rd house of everyday activity and it is the fastest moving planet. It experiences life and offers that knowledge to the Sun. Experience, however, is overrated. True, you may know something theoretically, but only when you actually experience it can you truly understand it. But this “understanding” is your interpretation. It’s not valid for everybody and therefore the Moon’s knowledge is subjective. The Moon says “Because I’ve experienced so and so in such and such a way, then it is the rule”. No, it isn’t.

Take temperament, for example. A strongly choleric person not only believes that acting upon things is the right way to go through life, but this is actually their own personal experience. When they don’t “do”, nothing happens. So, how can you possibly convince them that inertia is not such a bad thing? A phlegmatic, however, responds: “Yes, not many things happen to me because I prefer idleness, but by a magic twist of fate, the few things that actually matter do happen regardless of whether I do something or not. If I live in constant activity, these important things may pass me by, because I will be too busy to pay any attention.” This is their personal experience. Who is right and who is wrong? They are both right, aren’t they?

This Moon mentality (no proof needed) is mostly evident in traditional books on astrology with all these aphorisms. If so and so is in the 12th house and aspects so and so in the 8th house, then you will be eaten by wild beasts. Today we laugh at remarks like that and quite rightly so, but it shows the mentality of the astrologers at the time. This was based on the chart of one particular client, but it was foolishly made a rule. The Mercury element was completely absent. Mercury says: “First, test this rigorously and only when it has proven its validity, put that in a book”.

The Moon therefore is dangerously subjective. Do we want objectivity or don’t we? Mercury is not immoral, but amoral. It may be dangerous to live without morals, but morality, whether we like it or not, clouds the thinking process. Frawley cites the computer as an example to show Mercury's lack of morality. The computer doesn’t judge, he says, it processes whatever data you put into it. True, but why is this a bad thing? If I impose my morals or the current morals on knowledge, I may refrain from studying something because it doesn’t agree with them. Morals, however, are prone to change. Is it wise to base knowledge on them?

Frawley also says that Mercury needs to be disciplined. But Mercury is not averse to discipline, Mercury is not an enemy of Saturn. It is the Moon that hates discipline because it is the Moon that receives Saturn in detriment in her own sign.

In conclusion, I don’t believe that this is a question of either/or. Frawley himself agrees on that when he says that in astrology for example we need Mercury - the tools (charts etc.) - to interpret the cosmos, but I believe he favours the Moon too strongly. If we are to eventually reach the truth, both Mercury and the Moon need to be functioning well and none of the two must ever take complete charge. They are equally important. Mercury cannot perceive intangible reality, but the Moon cannot be relied upon to interpret it. It’s a 50-50 process.

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