According to Christopher Warnock, author of The Celestial Way: The Spiritual Path of the Stars and Planets, we must define spirituality for ourselves before looking for a suitable spiritual path.
As noted in my prior post, this is easier said than done, not the least, because the essence of spirituality is spirit – which by definition, has no material existence, and most of us assume a default worldview that is 100% reliant on materiality – i.e., only that exists which we can see, hear, and touch.
If we’re going to get to grips with spirituality, we need to think out of the box.
Warnock suggests the best way to do this is to explore in some detail our understanding of reality: how the world turns, who turns it, why, and to what effect.
This is the perfect way to confront our assumptions; if, after examination, you decide to keep them, that’s OK. But as Socrates is believed to have said, an unexamined life isn’t worth living. By implication, an unexamined assumption isn’t worth holding.
Don’t worry. Metaphysical philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Heidegger, Kant, et al.) have been doing this for centuries. In the process, they’ve grappled with sticky wicket questions such as ‘what is a thing’, what is the nature of ‘time’, and near and dear to my own heart, what is the nature of ‘free will’ and how much – if any- do humans have.
For example, if you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that, like me, you’re interested in astrology. So let’s explore why we might believe our natal charts provide valuable information. Like the medieval Arabic astrologer, Al-Kindi, we might conclude that the planets directly cause specific effects through rays or waves – i.e. physical energies analogous to electromagnetic energy (that cannot be seen or measured). This makes sense and is in keeping with Newtonian physics. With this approach, we may want to deal with a troublesome planet (Saturn in Cancer; emotions are a weak chink in our armour) by looking for ways to counter or deflect those rays. This might lead to the use of magical talismans.
Likewise, you might choose to understand your natal chart as symbolic of specific psychological ways of understanding. In this instance, you might look to deal with your troublesome planet with a psychological counsellor or coach who can help you to develop new (less problematic) ways of expressing that planetary energy.
Interestingly, a mix-and-match position of the mechanical and psychological positions may be suitable if you’re clear about its implications. For example, both positions assume we have free will to deal with our problematic planet. But not surprisingly, there’s much controversy as to how much – if any – free will we have.
For example, why did you conclude Saturn in Cancer was problematic in the first place? Did you read about it? If so, did you take the conclusions drawn by another at face value, or did you do a bit more digging on your own? If so, then why did you determine it was problematic? Was it primarily because of what others said?
The point is that, at a minimum, free will requires the ability to think freely without passively accepting the party line. Accepting some things at face value is easier and even sensible: we simply don’t have time to second-guess everything. But if you do accept the views and opinions or others, that’s a choice you’ve made. Admit it for what it is and move on.
Because Warnock doesn’t specifically take up the debate about free will (a fascinating topic, I assure you), you may wish to check out one of the many good books which do. One of my favourites is Free Will by Derk Pereboom, part of the series Elements of the Philosophy of Mind (Cambridge University Press). Most assume we have a good amount of free will, but the closer you look at the question, then, like me, the less confident you may become, and I assure you (??), that’s a good thing.
To loosen the grip you may have on reason, the pride of the Enlightenment as the be-all and end-all would open you up to alternative worldviews.
For example, Warnock looks to Hermetic and Neo-Plantonic philosophy suggesting that there is rhyme and reason to all that happens. Reality is not random – but patterned in the sense that the future must arise from present and past circumstances. As a child of the Enlightenment, you may believe it’s your job to make meaning of your life. That’s your choice; Warnock disagrees. He believes that meaning is inherent in everything and everybody, and our task is not to make it but to find it.
How best to achieve this?
(to be continued).