Like many others, I am a convert to astrology and like many others, I entered this sacred world through the doorway of Dane Rudhyar. Had I only been exposed to sun-sign daily horoscopes in newspapers, had I had access only to astrology cookbooks delineating what this and that planet, sign, house, aspect and their innumerable combinations meant, had I been initially exposed to fate and event-oriented Victorian astrologers or closeted little old ladies who divined from crystal balls, I doubt I would have endured the painful and exhilarating death and resurrection of the psyche required in order to enter astrology's realm fully.
My story, like many such stories, is long and complicated. The death process was slow and painful - even now I die daily to the ever-surprising traces of my psyche which still cling to the past. And the resurrection! - well, that too is an ongoing process, an endless spiral curving back to the beginning over and over. There are times when the only way I recognize that my internal process is indeed evolutionary - and not just cyclic, a nightmarish eternal return of the same - is that I am able to endure increasing intensity of both pain and pleasure, while experiencing both with increasing detachment.
I discovered Rudhyar - and astrology - in 1973, at the beginning of my second Saturn cycle. During my first Saturn cycle (Saturn in Gemini) I was preoccupied with trying to fit myself into the usual cultural and philosophical molds - and not succeeding. Meanwhile, I was also attempting to see the truth, what was real in life. Not until the end of that cycle did I realize I had been blindfolded all my life - and then I could summon the courage to rip off the blindfold and throw it away. My story is a good illustration of the old saying: "ontology recapitulates phylogeny". In my own evolutionary process, I recapitulated the history of the western mind since the beginning of the scientific revolution - and then, thanks to Rudhyar, leaped beyond it.
From the very beginning, I was a searcher, hungry for Truth (Sun and Asc. in Sagittarius). I was also stubborn, holding on to whatever version of "truth" I had found as long as possible (Moon in Taurus). Not until my early twenties did I finally give up the Roman Catholicism of my childhood - and then needed to replace it, immediately. The only other candidate for Truth in the world of my limited experience was not religious but secular: science. So I turned to science as a substitute for religion. I wanted to find truth in science, The Truth in science. I wanted to see Science as God, Science as Certainty, the only way to anchor my feet to the ground (Mercury and Venus in Capricorn, Saturn and Uranus in Gemini). Since my religion had failed me, I needed science as a new security blanket. I wanted to wrap it around me and keep out the void.
That was my unconscious intention in 1966 when, at the age of 23, I entered a doctoral program in the philosophy of science at Boston University. I wanted to discover Certainty in Knowledge. In this I was unlike my fellow students, most of whom seemed satisfied to argue particulars. I felt very alone there and upset that others did not seem to be as driven as I. This drove me back on myself and made me wonder what was wrong with me. Why couldn't I take philosophical questions more lightly? Why couldn't I just play with them, have fun with them, impress others with them?
As the years wore on, I became consciously aware of what seemed at that time to be an extraordinary insight, an insight which, I fear, even now few people in the same position notice about themselves: my search for intellectual certainty was a cover for what I really needed: emotional security. This insight was profound. It turned my world inside out. What had been kept safely in the background pushed inexorably to the foreground. The structure of knowledge and how it is anchored, was no longer linear: I was learning to "read between the lines" of the linearity, to sense the spaces between the lines as present, spaces which others either ignored or seemed to assume were there a priori, as anchors. Or did they? What were they doing and did they know they were doing it? How conscious were they of their assumptions?
Now I felt even more alone. Not only was there no one to talk to, there was no way I could put my questions into words. My questions were pre-linguistic; they existed in that nebulous border zone where thought and language dissolve into the abyss of the unconscious.
I was learning to see the entire edifice of knowledge claims as a linguistic object, which itself was situated within a certain cultural space. I was seeing the structure of that object and how it was suspended, rather than anchored. I was learning that there is no certainty in the sense of anchoring. That whatever we think we know, is but a fleck of dust floating in infinite space.
But I get ahead of myself here. Actually, at this point I was not willing to recognize this way of understanding knowledge. Rather, since I sensed the ground sliding out from under me, I was desperate to avoid the free fall through the void which it entailed - that sense we are all familiar with, what we call: "the blow to the solar plexus", that sickening drop in the stomach which doubles us over in emotional pain.
I was beginning to understand philosophical problems from a subjective psychological perspective. What academic philosophers called: "the mind/body problem" had become personal; my problem. I knew that this was my problem and I knew the problem was serious: for I knew it, but I couldn't allow myself to truly feel it.
In the academic philosophy of that time, there was one place in which mind and body supposedly met. In academic jargon, this place is termed: "sensation", which in turn refers to what were called: the "raw data" of bodily experience. I was interested in Truth and in order to approach even the first step to the ladder which led up to the Truth, one was supposed to begin with that pinched source, the so-called "raw data" of sensation. The only other alternative seemed to be that of Descartes, who posited the existence of "innate (inborn) ideas", which then, he said, he knew were True, because "God was perfect and God wouldn't lie to me"! That reasoning may seem quaint to our ears, but is it really? Astrologers and other "new age" people, regularly talk about something similar, (usually Uranian) ideas which fly through the air and strike those who are receptive to them and which they then know, intuitively, to be true.
But Innate Ideas, or Intuition, as the source of truth, scientific Truth? No, never! Even contemplating such a notion was anathema to my professors - especially to my mentor.
My mentor was a die-hard "logical positivist". Along with a majority of academics of the time (and even now!), he too believed the source of "truth" lay in sensation, or "sense data", the supposedly identifiable and definable bits and pieces of smell, taste, touch, vision and hearing that supposedly make up the world of human experience. My teacher was unusual, however. He knew that any so-called truth we managed to squeeze from sense data would be trivial, not worth knowing. He was in a bind. What he believed wasn't worth anything and he knew it. And he had no way out. Using the left brain/right brain distinction we might put it this way now, 25 years later: for him, only the left brain existed. Yet a left brain without a right brain yields only bits of data, factoids with no meaning. Therefore, for him, life had no meaning.
My mentor was a tragic figure, believing in that which was meaningless and knowing it and hating it. He would rather have been searching for Truth, too. But he couldn't. His methodology wouldn't allow it. For me, he represented the walls of the cage I was banging my head against. It was my destiny to meet him: in his cynicism, he exhibited what I could look forward to, should I get stuck where I then was. And it was prophecy which led him to say, soon after, in words which sprang forth from the right brain he refused to acknowledge: "You must go beyond me. You must stand on my shoulders." That was our first direct and confrontational meeting. I was trembling with fear and he was leaning close to me. "Do you want to be like me?" he had asked, puckish and sprightly. "Yes!" I had exclaimed, adoring. "Wrong!" he thundered. "You must go beyond me..."
Enter Ludwig Wittgenstein and through Wittgenstein, several years later: Dane Rudhyar; though one might be surprised that I connect the two. For those readers not familiar with Wittgenstein, let me introduce him. Wittgenstein was an Austrian philosopher and a contemporary of Rudhyar, both of them carrying the generational signature of the most recent great conjunction of Neptune and Pluto. Wittgenstein was born in 1889, six years earlier than Rudhyar, before the conjunction was precise. He was a mysterious figure who regularly left academia, feeling more comfortable as a gardener for a monastery than as a Cambridge don. Despite his checkered career, Wittgenstein fascinated. He achieved an almost legendary stature within academic philosophical circles during his lifetime and was credited single-handedly for originating the two most prevalent 20th century philosophical schools of thought - logical positivism and linguistic analysis - both of which he himself repudiated! Since his death in 1951 his influence, while still esoteric and obscure, has spread far beyond philosophy. His aphoristic remarks are quoted by certain thinkers in many fields, though what exactly he actually meant by them will always be a matter of widely varied interpretation.
My own reading of the man's work, done for my doctoral dissertation, is unusual and no more provable than any of the others. I began to read his work at a time in my life when transit Neptune was conjuncting my natal 12th house Sagittarian Mars and opposite natal Uranus in Gemini and felt very strongly at the time that my psyche had climbed inside him, that he and I were one and that there was no question but that I understood him - understood not so much his cryptic ideas, as his muffled cries of pain.
Wittgenstein was a bridge between my teacher and Rudhyar. As my teacher had been locked inside his left brain with no way out and knew it (thus his tragic stature), Wittgenstein went one step further: against his will, he had pulsed on through the boundary and was stuck on the outside of the left brain, clawing at it, desperate to find his way back in. Beyond was the infinite void of the right brain, the starry skies within and he kept his back to it, stiffened, afraid. If my mentor was a tragic figure, Wittgenstein was doubly tragic. I was drawn to tragic figures and determined not to be one myself. After several years of graduate school, I was already fulfilling my teacher's prophecy in moving beyond him. He had told me never to read Wittgenstein. Said he was "confused"; "and besides," he had whispered, "he's a subclinical schizophrenic". Despite his warning, I finally did read Wittgenstein and like many others, became utterly entranced. "This work is true," I said to myself, after reading it all the way through, my eyes glued to the pages, "but I don't know what it means."
What? I said that? Impossible. I said that. It was my first intuitive (right brain) remark, the first strike from out of the blue. I wondered how I could say that. For within logical positivism, one has to know what something means before one can determine (ideally through some sort of scientific test or experiment) whether it's true or false. I had been trained under my teacher, a logical positivist; however, this training is not unusual, since logical positivism is a technical delineation of our (scientific) common sense. To say that one can know something is true without knowing what it means is "nonsense", within our scientific framework for making sense. It "makes no sense". Yet it did make sense. That's exactly what I had said and I knew it was true. And yet I didn't know what it meant.
I kept reading Wittgenstein. I couldn't stop. It was as if I was possessed. My obsession with Wittgenstein was a projection, a foil, for my own eventual transformation. Through grappling with him I was bringing up for review what had been the underground assumptions which held all my other more conscious beliefs in place. What had been background was now foreground, staring me in the face. The scientific framework of my common sense cracked, collapsed. The boundaries between myself and the world, my own and Wittgenstein's psyche, dissolved. I was discovering another common sense altogether, this one an actual sensing in common.
This kind of common sensing is very different from our so-called scientific "common sense", where we have no senses in common, where instead we are all locked into our own private worlds and receive information individually, through the five external senses. Western cultural angst and alienation is no mystery, when we realize that even the philosophical underpinnings of our daily lives dictate that we remain separate, isolated and lonely. Wittgenstein was one philosopher who felt this aloneness in an acute fashion. His question: "how can we know another person is in pain?" takes on strange new ramifications when seen in this light. Wittgenstein's questions, I feel, are not just mere examples subject to "linguistic analysis"; they can be often taken as disguised and muffled cries for help.
Copyright 1996 Ann Kreilkamp, Ph.D.
Kelly, WY 83011
Ann Kreilkamp, Ph.D.
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