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The Astrological Meaning of a “New Year”

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It’s the last day of 2018 today, and I’m working on January’s horoscopes, which will be out tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a meditation regarding the concept of a “new year.”

* The word “year” has a rich etymological background, within which the Greek word “hora” is often cited. The word “hora” is itself diverse, meaning both hour and season, a portion of time, the fixed laws of the heavens, etc.

* The word “horoscope,” similarly comes from the word “horoskopos,” which means the observer or watcher of the hour, the hour-marker, or “of the hour.”

* The start of the year has been marked, or observed, or celebrated, in different ways, by different people, over the course of many thousands of years.

* When we look at the heavens we see the cycles of great spheres, moving in circles. And for thousands of years, we have associated these movements with life on earth.

* Life on earth also moves in familiar rhythms, ever-cycling, ever circling, from the 24 hour day, to the four seasons, to the fluctuations of oppositional qualities and tensions in all spheres of life.

* How do we orient ourselves within the endless cycling of great circles? How does one meaningfully identify a starting point, or an ending point, in cycles that never cease?

* Zero Aries. But it moves. So we have different zodiacs.

* The Spring Equinox. The Winter Solstice. Different celebrations of newness abound.

* Similarly, in ancient times astrologers cast charts for the moment of conception as well as the moment of birth.

* In fact, you might visit an astrologer without any record of your birth, and the astrologer could cast a “birth chart” for the moment you walked into the astrologer’s workshop.

* Similarly, we have a hundred timing techniques, if not more, many of which have nothing to do with the “literal” astronomy of the current sky.

* We have endless symbolic chart advancement techniques. Unending hermetic lots based on the symbolic intervals between planets and places.

* We have a variety of “house systems,” all giving us a different symbolic orientation of the sky, some claiming to be more literally accurate than others, though what it means to be literally accurate is different.

* We have too many planets to count!

* We have true and mean nodes.

* And yet, in some ways, the simplest observation remains. We are interested in orientation. How do we meaningfully locate ourselves within the cycles of so many great circles and spheres?

* How do we find the “center” while constantly and simultaneously moving through the fluctuations of so many cycles and circles?

* Some might say that all of the above means that astrologers are in the business of “making things up.” I prefer to say that in this material world we are being made up, and made along, in endless circles and cycles, and that the symbolism of astrology helps us to find a center, a sense of home, some momentary glimpses of eternity, within it. As Plato said, “Time is the moving image of eternity.”

* I prefer to think that while the orientations are many that the spiritual purpose is one. To recall eternity, shimmering, in the passing of days and hours. To recall our true names, invisible, hidden before us in plain sight, in the arbitrary events of the holy circles.

* We can’t help but name, mark, and divide. It is the sign of intimacy and love that we do so, for in so doing we find that we too are named, held, marked, and loved, even as we are divided into “parts” and “lots.”

* On the other hand, when astrology has done its work, when the “hora” has spoken, there is a strange way in which the details of our birth, the hours and minutes, day, time, city, and state, become unremarkable details…a mere “starting point” within the great cycles of circles.

* A story. I had a long time client who was adopted, from another country, and there was a lack of certainty regarding her birth date and time. We went with what she had and for a long time generated very accurate descriptions and even some very concrete and specific predictions. Then, later on, we found out that she was born almost an entire month off from the day/time she had first provided me with. The chart was very different, and yet, looking back on things together we were able to find the way in which different symbols spoke to the same events. While some would say this is an example of bad data being corrected, and while I am certainly not advocating that “any old time” works, what I am saying is that all time is really God’s time, or all time is of the gods. The intention to speak with the divine, through the symbolic language of astrology, is most essentially about a desire to meaningfully orient ourselves within the cycles of so many great circles, those that are both celestial and terrestrial. That there are many ways of doing so isn’t a sign of astrology’s ultimate subjectivity but rather it is evidence of the personal nature of the divinity we are approaching through the languages astrology.

* Divinity speaks to us in and through the familiar grammar, syntax, and diction of the world around us. This is what is meant when we say that astrology is “divination” or “divinatory.”

* One of the main reasons we fail to understand this is because we forget that we are talking to a person, a being, or divine intelligence(s). So we think of the sky as something of a machine, and then we argue about different “techniques.” From this standpoint, differing astrological techniques are just a matter of “whatever we use to get some particular job done.” But where is the voice speaking to us in this? It is gone, and the sky becomes a lottery machine with only the glamour of flashing lights and a pull crank suited to our individual desires.

* When someone or something speaks to us, really listens, and really gives a heartfelt response, it is almost never the particulars that matter to us as much as it is the experience of being heard, and being seen itself. Even if we can’t articulate it, this is what stays with us in an intimate encounter with someone. Similarly, when we are heard and seen by the sky, the ultimate therapeutic benefit is that we are in communion with something greater than ourselves. We are not alone. And this reassurance transcends whatever answer we received, whatever situation or series of events we might find ourselves in, because it both encompasses and permeates them, AS it also delimits them. This simple, personal interaction with the heavens regardless of the particulars of the response, is the true orientation we are always seeking.

* Again, we return to the word “hora” and “horoscope,” a word, like the word “year,” that refers not only to a demarcation of time and space, but also the “observation” or “observer” of the hour.

Prayer: Speak to us from within the cycles of these great circles. Be our witness and our guide, our friend and our ever-present origin. Mark our lives not only by the quality of the time but by the reality of our timelessness.

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