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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Turtle BS: Astrological Stats on Mudcatters (152* d) RE: Astrological Stats on Mudcatters 21 Aug 00

Hi everyone. Back from the weekend, entering the fray . . .

Alice, I hear what you say about your experience and I respect it. It sounds horrible. I too have witnessed that kind of unthinking adherence to a belief system that is damaging. Any belief system will do if denial is really the goal. Just think of all those kids abused by Catholic priests, and the parents who couldn't imagine that such a thing could be happening because it would mean questioning their faith in the church. It sounds as though you acted courageously to re-examine your own beliefs and experience, and to try to protect a child. That is praiseworthy.

However, I think you misunderstood what I said. I didn't say that I believed without proof. I said that the issue of belief was irrelevant from my perspective, and that I don't know whether I "believe" or not. To me "do I believe in astrology?" is the wrong question. I don't think I could answer it, or I would answer it differently at different times.Yes, no, maybe, I don't know.

For me the question is, rather: is this system of image and metaphor helpful to me? Leaving aside the question of belief and proof. And, in fact, it is. That doesn't mean that it is to everyone. And it's not really open to argument. It's about experience, not about belief.

Perhaps I experience astrology differently from you. I don't experience it as a way of categorizing people and putting them in little boxes. I don't feel "summed up" by astrology. I don't find it particularly comforting. It's not a way of controlling people or thinking I know what they're all about, or reducing my view of them to a set of static symbols.

For me, tarot and astrology are like a window or a peephole onto the mystery you talked about. They show me how much I can never know. They are a way of playing with images, metaphor, and pattern, like writing, like music, like a kid sitting down with a set of brightly colored pattern blocks and making something pretty. They are also sometimes a spiritual practice for me (tarot more than astrology) in a meditative sense. They are helpful to me because I am a metaphorical thinker, and I often understand things more clearly through the use of metaphor and image than I do through the use of logic. (Of course, I'm a Pisces! *BG* Joke, joke.)

Of course astrology doesn't meet logical tests. It's not a system based on logic. It's a system based on metaphor. Logic systems don't meet metaphorical tests either (does it make a good story? does it connect you to the natural world? does it expand your view of the universe? does it give you a deeper stock of lovingkindness for others?). It's like that old standby, comparing apples and oranges. Logic isn't invalidated because it doesn't meet metaphorical tests--that isn't what it's for. The reverse is also true. Metaphorical systems serve a different purpose than logical systems. Not better or worse or higher or lower, just different. Either kind of system can be used in the service of denial and delusion; either can also be used in the service of clarity and understanding. Either can do damage.

Of course the human brain is wired to make patterns. That's what learning is all about. That doesn't mean that all the patterns are invalid. Logic is a pattern created by the human mind, for example. Skinner knew he had set up a random food-delivery system for his cages full of pigeons. None of us know that about the universe; none of us is in control of the parameters of the experiment. Logic and metaphor are just two of the patterns we have created to try to make sense of our experience, and neither is infallible.

Well, obviously I could go on and on about this (and I have!). Maybe this will be the post that kills the thread!


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