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From Penguin Putnam Inc - Viking Press
By the time this article appeared in Viking Press's "The Coffee Table Book of Astrology", Zoltan Mason had been practicing astrology close to two decades in his Lexington Avenue office. While very general in nature, the text reflects ideas often expressed by him on the nature of astrology, its contemporary practice, and ideally, how it should be viewed. We hope you enjoy this material as edited by John Lynch in the 1967 revised edition.
Modern man's knowledge of astrology is clouded by the many superstitious beliefs and misuses that have continuously been made in the name of this science. On the highest level, astrology provides a key to the understanding of the spiritual relationship between man and the universe.
The kind of abuse to which astrology has been put is exemplified in the unscrupulous type of person who is prepared to make one or another kind of unscientific and therefore inaccurate prediction purely for the sake of material gains. There are other people, eager for power, who have tried to realize their ambitions by studying the horoscopes of people they wish to exploit. Astrology is not alone in suffering from such dishonesty; parallel cases are to be found in medicine, in psychology, and in most other professions and sciences, and no profession can be blamed for the wrong kind of people who try to associate themselves with it.
A classic example of both the use and misuse of astrology is to be found in the figure of Hitler, who employed several astrologers to advise him on the timing of his offensives. The British intelligence services were aware of this and in turn summoned an astrologer to help them find out what Hitler's moves were likely to be. The good or bad use of astrology always depends on the goal.
Another instance of misuse of astrology is the case of an ailing patient who refused food and care because his horoscope indicated that he was to die. In absurdity this parallels the story of the quack astrologer who starved himself to try to make sure that his death would coincide with the date he had calculated he would die.
Astrology can be put to the right use in such matters as the choice of a suitable profession or business, in the study of one's own character, and in personal and business relationships. As a result the serious student must inevitably gain a better understanding of human nature and of the weaknesses and particular struggles of others. Astrology deals with the past and the present. And on the basis of cause and effect the future is also delineated. J. P. Morgan employed an astrologer to guide him in many of his financial moves. Dr. Jung found it invaluable in the preliminary study of a new patient's character, and many other noted men, from early popes, princes, and kings to the present-day efficient businessman, have recognized its usefulness. It is not unlikely that the science will one day be offered for study at a college level so that the educated man can profit by it as he once was able to do in the universities of Paris and other European cities in the great days of the Renaissance.
Besides its everyday applications, astrology operates on a higher plane. This facet of it, dating from the earliest known civilizations, is referred to as spiritual or esoteric astrology. Man has always sought to understand why the universe was created and to define his position in it and his relationship to it.
According to astrological precepts the different parts of the body are ruled by each of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Aries governs the head; Taurus the throat; Gemini the shoulders, arms, hands) and lungs; Cancer the breast and stomach; Leo the heart and back; Virgo the intestines; Libra the kidneys; Scorpio the private organs; Sagittarius the hips) thighs, and liver; Capricorn the knees; Aquarius the calves and ankles; and Pisces the feet.
Even minor physical characteristics such as the lines of the forehead, those in the palms of the hands, and moles on the face and body, have a certain significance that has been interpreted. For instance, on the forehead, straight lines denote good fortune, winding lines denote struggle, distorted lines denote variety, mischief, and deceit. Many lines signify a changeable personality.
Simple and straight lines denote a good and honest nature and long life. Broken lines are of the nature of Saturn and Mars and therefore indicate a hot temper. Two or three lines at the root of the nose and cut in the middle are signs of lasciviousness. Many books have been written on these special characteristics, although the modern astrologer usually neglects them as being too fatalistic. Judgments based on the form of the head have also become obsolete. Aristotle mentions that a square forehead denotes magnanimity. A forehead pointed at the temples of the head. With bones showing as if almost uncovered by flesh, denotes vanity, inconstancy, and irresolution in business. The broad forehead denotes gluttonous tendencies, and so on.
Most cosmogonies are in accord with astrology. The constellations and planets represent divine signs, and the horoscope is the sacred writing which the esoteric astrologer endeavors to decipher. Many mythologies and religions have seen their gods and saints embodied in the constellations.
In spiritual astrology the zodiacal sign which rises in the east, called the Ascendant or rising sign of the birth chart, is recognized as the key sign of the zodiac in which the soul wished to reincarnate itself.
Fortunate rising signs according to traditions, are those ruled by Jupiter or Venus — Sagittarius, Pisces, Taurus, Libra, and Cancer, in which sign Jupiter is exalted. About every two hours the rising zodiacal sign changes. Aries is followed by Taurus, Taurus by Gemini, and so on through to the last of the twelve signs, which is Pisces. Thus, for a horoscope it is not merely the birth date which is important, but the hour at which a person is born.
Overzealous followers of astrology try to make their important decisions or actions coincide with the hour at which a fortunate sign is rising; however, in esoteric astrology it is maintained that every sign in the sky has fortunate as well as unhappy characteristics. This makes any nervous speculation entirely unnecessary.
Firmicus Maternus, the Roman astrologer, calculated the birth chart of the world in great detail. He explained that this knowledge was given to Aesculapius by Mercury. The Sun was in the fifteenth part or degree of Leo, the Moon in the fifteenth degree of Cancer, Saturn in the fifteenth degree of Capricorn, Jupiter in the fifteenth degree of Libra, Mercury in the fifteenth degree of Virgo, and the Ascendant in the fifteenth degree of Cancer.
That many different horoscopes have been calculated for the birth of Christ is also well known and has been commented on at length by Dr. Jung in his book Aion (Volume 4 in the Bollingen Series). The same effort has been made for the birth of each country, and it is always said that if a person's birth chart is in harmony with the chart of his country, he will achieve honor and receive recognition from his countrymen.
The most important part of the astrologer's study is the spiritual side of human nature, and a person's goals are viewed in the light of the relationship in his horoscope between the Sun sign, the Moon sign, and the rising sign at birth. Man's nature is threefold: the Sun represents his relationship to the divine spirit, the Moon relates to his soul, and the Ascendant sign to his physical body. The question has been asked, must man believe that everything is fore-destined and that he cannot escape fate? Has he free will and is it possible for his nature to change? Hindu astrology cannot endorse free will, since it is based on the theory of reincarnation. The Hindu maintains that man must continue to reincarnate on earth until he has paid for mistakes he made in previous lives. Western astrology does not accept this fatalistic attitude. It is true that in the Ecclesiastes it is written: "To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the Heaven. A time to be born and a time to die". But already in the early Middle Ages the following teaching is found in an astrological treatise by Abraham lbn Ezra: "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord; that is the starting point, for when a man refrains from following his eyes and his heart in their tendency to satiate his concupiscence, then knowledge comes to rest within him; further more, the fear of the Lord protects him from the decrees of the heavenly bodies and from their sway as long-as he lives".
American astrology has always been connected with spiritual aims based on the Bible. It is written: "And there shall be signs in the Sun and in the Moon and in the Stars. . . ." We accept free will and reject a fatalistic attitude. The horoscopes show only human tendencies, which means that man is fully responsible for his acts and through self-knowledge is capable of overcoming his weaknesses and achieving his highest aims.