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Considering All the Threads

A woman and her dog were walking in the Landeta, the great piece of land aside the Botanical Garden. They came upon some sheep. The dog had never seen sheep before. Still his genetic memory sprang into action. He started herding, circling the sheep, gathering them into a group and moving them along.

We human beings have our genetic memory, our neural programming. Prominent in this regard is our love of stories. We are programmed to to listen to stories, because it is through stories that we learn culture and it is through culture that we survive and thrive.

That's why I started this article with a story ("A woman and her dog were walking...,"), to keep your attention.

Our species didn't survive because we have great bulk or long claws or because we run fast. Humans survived because we listen to stories and we watch out for each other. This programming, to watch out for each other, explains why, though generally so selfish, we rally so nobly to help other humans who have suffered a natural disaster.

There is also a pleasant hormone that is released when we are approved of by others. Nature encourages us to seek and enjoy the approval of others, because with that we are a member of the group, and so more likely to survive and thrive.

This idea of pre-existing neural programming (hardware) goes against those idealists (for example, members of the hard left) who want to believe that we are blank slates, blank slates who have been ruined by the training (software) we've picked from our culture. Joseph Stalin, the second greatest mass murder in history (after Mao), believed that he was creating a new utopian society. If he had to murder another 10 or 20 million people to perfect the world, he though of it as a reasonable price to pay. The murdered were the obstacle to utopia, all polluted by capitalism or otherwise so selfish as to not realize that all was for the collective, the soviet. (Mao was of the same opinion.)

The woman, Juanita Benedicto, who went walking in the Landeta came up and introduced herself, and her dog, Yara, to me in the Saturday Market a couple of weeks ago. It may not be fair to say that she came up to me, as, in my job of selling shawls in the market, I accost every woman within earshot, and, if I can catch their eye, a few farther away. It is, however, factually correct that she did introduce herself to me, presenting herself as the author of an article I published some months ago in this magazine, Travelscopes: Forecasting Your Dream Vacation. It was a piece about choosing your vacation based on astrology.

Later that afternoon, after our meeting, Juanita submitted another piece she had already written for her newsletter about our last full moon, then 2 days in the future, Crow Moon: Messenger of Revolutionary Changes

(She has another piece in this issue.)

The concept of a "Straw Man" involves arguing against a particularly weak version of whatever it is that you oppose. You set up a straw man that can't fight back and is particularly easy to knock over, a light-weight.

The Straw Man argument against astrology runs like this; "How can you fit everyone into just 12 varieties (one of the 12 signs of the zodiac)? How can you say that everyone who is born in one sign of the zodiac is the same?"

This objection refers to your "Sun sign," where in the sky the sun was at the moment of your birth. When you say, "I am a Pisces," you are referring to that solar placement in the zodiac.

But in your astrological chart there are nine other planets, besides the Sun. And each of those nine other planets had their particular placement in the zodiac at the moment of your birth. So this (person with her Sun in) Pisces might have a Moon in Aquarius and that (person with his Sun in) Pisces might have a Moon in Leo. Continue thusly, spreading another eight planets over the 12 signs of the zodiac, and before you are half way done there are so many zeros involved that we don't have a name for the number of possible combinations. Then, throw in another level of complexity, because there are 12 Houses to boot. Sun in Pisces in the 3rd house is different than Sun in Pisces in the 7th house. Then there is significance to the geometric relations, the angles, between the position of the planets in (the 360 degree circle of) your chart: 30, 45, 60, 90... degrees. I could go on.

Now, let me tell you another story. Just for the moment, suspend your disbelief and come along on a little fantasy with me. Just for the moment, imagine that saying that you do not believe in astrology is like saying that you do not believe in Spanish. Imagine that astrology is just another language, another cultural perspective, another vocabulary to describe our experience of ourselves and our world. Let me share how it describes mine.

When I learned from Juanita's most recent article that our last full moon was in Virgo and that "the ruler of this Moon [is] a powerfully stationed Mercury," I wrote her that my Mercury and Moon are in Virgo.

She wrote me back:

"I love it when people know their Mercury placements :).

Since the Moon is culminating in the sign of Virgo, where your Moon and Mercury are, it's possible that your thinking around a certain issue concerning your emotional and security needs has come to a head and/or turning point. The Moon often symbolize women in our life as well.

Also, Mercury in Virgo is a strong placement. These are the natural organizers and optimizers. Like a skilled conductor, they don't miss anything and are great at fine tuning everything."

"Like a skilled conductor" is a very flattering way of putting it. However, it is true that my attention to detail drives some people nuts. My hyper-vigilance sometimes drives me nuts. And, yes, some things in my business and in my love-life have "come to a head and/or turning point." Also, "Mercury in Virgo is a strong placement," and Mercury, "the messenger of the gods," is about communication, which explains why I like telling stories and publishing.

We learn from quantum physics that, before we look, electrons do not exist wholly here or there. Before we measure them they exist in a probability wave. That is, their position is only likely, x% probability that the electron will be here, y% that it will be there. On our observing the electron the probability wave collapses into a fixed placement.

The hard-headed, I-don't-believe-in-astrology, materialistic fantasy is that if we knew the position of every particle and the forces at work on each particle, then we could predict the future. We could know where those particles will be at some time in the future. It's like knowing where all the billiard balls are going to come to rest before you break them up. But quantum probability adds a variable to the system, disrupting this materialist fantasy. It's as if the after-shocks of an earthquake are shaking the table the whole time that you are playing pool, so you can never anticipate the outcome.

Quantum has rendered classical physics obsolete. The spirit-denying bias of materialistic science is proven wrong.

Expanding on its demise, I assert that there is not one reality. Our "truth" is a product of the stories that we tell ourselves and those we have heard from others, including those which our ancestors yet whisper in our genes, hormones and neurons. It is how well these stories encompass our experience that is the measure of our truth. It is how well these stories weave together into a whole that accounts for the meaningfulness of our life.

In our search for meaning we ought not dismiss anything out of hand, neither astrology, nor herding instincts. In weaving together our truth it is best to consider all threads, to keep listening to the stories.


Dr David is looking for authors to contribute to San Miguel Sunday. He is also looking for people who want to add more meaning to their lives. See his new website below.

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