Laboratory Science versus Clinical Medicine
Though I have been practicing as a medical astrologer for almost thirty years, it only recently occurred to me that what is so obvious to me is not at all understood by my colleagues. Of course, I did know that it was difficult to explain what I do in one sentence at a dinner table, but I did not quite realize that this was equally true at banquets at astrology conferences!
To the best of knowledge, astrology and medicine were not, even in the West, regarded as two separate disciplines until some centuries ago. Before that, all educated persons were broadly acquainted with astrology, philosophy, and medicine. Interestingly, whereas astrology was generally considered to be a reputable occupation, medicine seldom was. It is only in modern times that medicine has come to acquire the status that it now enjoys.
Part of the regard attached to medicine is its identification with science. Most of us today would probably find this alliance so natural that it would not occur to us that in earlier times, medicine was far more clinical and less scientific. What does this mean?
Science requires the examination of parts isolated from their wholes, quantifiable studies, blind and double blind tests of hypotheses; and it requires credentials. A person without proper qualifications cannot have a voice in academic science. At first glance, this may seem proper; however, what it also means is that a patient cannot determine whether or not his health is improved by the treatments rendered. So, what has happened is that research is now quite isolated from clinical results. At this point in time, the public seems largely faithful to science, however, disenchantment has been mounting?and it is my opinion that part of the image problem with science is its sterility.
It is, however, a two-way street. Holistic medicine, not to mention astrology, has its critics; and this will continue to be the case so long as only doctors with the right degrees can assess treatments and so long as such persons remain more or less laboratory based rather than clinically involved with patients.
What is not so well known outside of academia is that professors in medical schools are not physicians, that they do not see patients or perform medical procedures, nor do they work with human subjects. Research, therefore, tends to involve cultures or animals that are exposed to single, repeatable measures. Often as not, the animals used were rendered "ill" in some artificial manner. In other words, the conditions studied in the laboratory often did not arise in the normal course of life but rather were induced in some inhumane manner in order to make observations. Likewise, the substances studied are usually isolated from their wholes. Either active ingredients or synthetic substitutes for organic medicines are utilized in order to hold variables to a minimum.
What has ensued from such practices is a state in which each study tends to revolve around a single basic hypothesis, a hypothesis which is narrowly defined so as to assure scientific control and opportunity to profit should there be a positive outcome of the tested hypothesis; however, the hypothesis is often as not viewed outside of the context in which the particular condition studied actually arises "in the real world."
Laboratory Trials versus Clinical Results
The real world is clinical. This means that in the real world, real people with real problems consult practitioners who recommend or prescribe particular strategies that either do or do not shift the illness. Each "case" is different and hence quantification of results is virtually impossible?and research is therefore also not possible since clinical practices do not consist of uniform groups of carefully matched trial and control subjects. The medicine and medical conclusions that arise from such practices are hence not scientific but anecdotal.
Basically, this is the major difference between holistic and modern medicine. A vaccine may be licensed and marketed because its manufacture parallels similar tests conducted for entirely different viruses. This is not quackery, but science. However, a product used successfully in clinical practices for generations or millennia is neither licensed nor credited with validity if it was never tested scientifically.
I am not describing these matters so as to present my own work, but rather in order to clarify certain misunderstandings that I felt while speaking at the UAC gathering in Monterey.
Astrology is Clinical
My own practice has always been clinical?and so it is with all astrologers who offer consultations to clients or patients. As time has progressed, I have refined my insights and polished my protocols. However, each "case" is really the story of an individual, not a sterile trial. The problems people describe in their sessions arise in the real course of life, and these problems result in suffering. My job is to unfold inner understanding of the circumstances surrounding the disease and to shift the conditions from a state of disease to health.
With time, I was completely overworked. I opened a clinic, hired assistants, and offered courses to train others so as to have a referral network. In the clinic, I tended to see mostly people with very serious illnesses, usually life threatening ones that had already been unsuccessfully treated by allopathic means. Statistically, if even a single person recovered from such conditions, the result would be significant. However, it would not be "scientific." Nevertheless, I have tried to summarize some of my understanding in the form of lectures and publications. For this, I have received a number of awards, including several degrees, in countries where the schism between the laboratory and clinic is not so great.
I am not saying this to precipitate controversy but rather to illuminate the world of medicine and medical practice?for medical astrology does not exist apart from medicine. However, medical astrology, as I practice it, is clinical. At various times over the years, I have actually applied for grants (not successfully), but the truth is I have more faith in the cures that ensue from profound inner work than I do in treatments that address symptoms rather than causes.
Now, I wish to return to the theme of this article which is, "What is Medical Astrology?" I have begun by showing that medical astrology and modern allopathic medicine have evolved to the points they are today from rather different roots. Not only are their practices different, but their vocabularies do not even express the same understanding of illness and cure. Nevertheless, to understand medical astrology correctly, one must first understand medicine and astrology. I have given a brief overview of medicine and shall now do the same for astrology.
So, what is astrology? Basically, the horoscope is a map of celestial patterns whose influence catalyzes terrestrial experiences. The patterns mapped in the horoscope are "alchemical" in the sense that energies combine in infinitely various ways so that each instant is different from every other instant. Time is hence inseparable from "event". The Chinese have profound ways of addressing this concept. Each moment is an event. The memory of events is contained in the vast subconscious vaults of the divine feminine. Memories are reactions to experience. What we call therefore call "experience" is really a memory. Together, memories have patterns, but their patterns are different from the celestial patterns.
Celestial patterns are archetypal. They map Divine Idea and represent Intent or Destiny. Experiential patterns are personal. They are karmic. Fate?what happens in any given moment of Time?is a mixture of destiny and karma. Ideally, in a perfectly balanced individual, the personal would resonate as a response?as opposed to reaction?to the Divine. The Chinese describe the ideal interaction of celestial and personal patterns by a human being suspended between Heaven and Earth, a person acting as an intermediary between the two realms of existence.
In the horoscope, experience is represented by the Moon and its condition by sign, house, and aspect and other factors. Soul intent is portrayed by the Ascendant and its ruler, destiny by the Midheaven. The individual is the conscious being living, likely as not, unaware of the unconscious forces that determine the Fate that occurs in each moment.
Interestingly, the unconscious forces, the patterns of celestial and personal energies, exist outside of Time. Time exists in the manifested world where incarnational experiences are taking place. In other words, the personality, the Sun, is ephemeral?as are the moments we perceive as linear Time. The subconscious, or realm of personal memory, is built of reactions to moments which we call experience. It is entirely idiosyncratic and formed out of the past. Thus, if one were to dwell in the subconscious, the past would reverberate and give the impression, emotionally, that it is repeating. This is what is called karma and why, on a personal level, it is very difficult to create new experiences.
If one were instead to become soul conscious, one would see destiny as a state of beingness, not unmanifest and waiting to happen, but complete. It is only in the personality that we think that the future has not yet happened. Likewise, from the vantage point of the soul, the past is not entirely real. Reality, for the soul, is the expression of the soul?s truth which is, as noted, complete in its "mind".
What does this have to do with astrology? To the extent that astrology is a tool used to guide individuals through their lives, it is important to recognize the forces which shape the moment. This does not mean that astrology is fatalistic, rather that Fate itself is born of the commingling of destiny and karma, the proportions of which differ according to the instant and the individual.