Monday, May 21, 2012

Lies, Damned Lies, & Traditional Astrologer Commentary on Modern Astrology

In Chapter 3 of Open Source Modern Horary Astrology, I outlined in detail (and debunked) many of the irrational and meritless reasons traditional astrologers come up with to try to discredit modern astrology, and claim it as inferior to traditional methods. It's hard to find an book review of a modern astrology text where some traditional astrologer doesn't say something vapid and unsubstantiated about how traditional astrology is superior. You can read a sample of the stupidity of the comments here and here

So it's no big surprise, then, that David Roell, the traditional-leaning proprietor of the Astrology Center of America bookselling website (a.k.a., provided one of the most dishonest, confused and erroneous reviews of a modern horary text in existence via his website listing for Open Source Modern Horary Astrology.

As you'll see below, clearly the man didn't read the same book I wrote. For whatever reasons known only to him, Roell's bungled attempt to make the author look unqualified and uninformed on her subject, backfired immensely to instead reveal his own bias, dishonesty, and abject ignorance not only of basic astronomy, but of the many structural differences between modern and traditional horary. You can even see him get caught red-handed in a flat-out lie at the end.

If you haven't yet read the book, take a quick look at the Table of Contents and Table of Figures (scroll down) to familiarize yourself with what the book actually contains, as opposed to what Roell imagined.

Below is a fact-check and refuting of Roell's comments (in red) with the truth of what the book actually said (in black):
The book starts muddled. The Foreward (a misspelling, by the way foreword or forward, one or the other, please) 
This will be the only accurate statement from Roell that you will read. Ironic, because his own website has its own fair share of typos/misspellings (tiding instead of tidying?). Typos, virtually inevitable in the publishing world, do not negate content.
The Foreward (a misspelling, by the way foreword or forward, one or the other, please) was originally published as a blog post by a Dr. Mike E. Brown, a professor of Astronomy at Caltech and is reprinted by permission. In it, he says that while he thinks astrology is rubbish, he likes astrologers because astrologers like the sky and so does he. (Is he lonely?) He says good astrology is like good literature and goes on to talk of Shakespeare. Which would seem like a good intro for William Lilly (not that far removed from Bill Shakespeare) but instead leads us to an excerpt about Eris, as written by Henry Seltzer and published in the Mountain Astrologer. Huh? I'm already disliking this book and I haven't even gotten into it. Dear authors: Every word counts. Don't clutter your book with tangents like this.
Actually, Dr. Brown does not say or think astrology is rubbish. Instead, he relates astrology to fiction, explaining via the Shakespeare example that things that aren't real (such as astrological symbolism, or the themes of truth, loyalty and scheming in King Lear) can still be useful and meaningful to people in spite of their fictitiousness. Roell misses this obvious point.
Further, Dr. Brown and his team discovered Eris (all of which is described in Chapter 12, and Eris is utilized in horary charts throughout the book), and in the TMA article, Seltzer delineates Eris' meaning astrologically to its discoverer's open mind, coming full circle. Roell's ignorance of these details is probably why he considers it a tangent, when in reality, the tangent would be mentioning William Lilly— who has no relevance to Dr. Brown, Eris's discovery, or Henry Seltzer— just because Lilly and the Bard were contemporaries for 14 years in the early 17th century. Snore. 
Chapter 3, Philosophical Differences between old and new, starts off with, Modern and traditional horary are both viable methods that yield correct answers. Neither is superior to the other. (pg. 19) This is troubling. I don't want to learn a new system just because it's new. I want to learn a better system. The best system. Isn't this it? 
It is, because a horary student doesn't have to waste time struggling to learn antiquated, archaic, and contradictory rules and ideologies based on subjective spiritualism and a wildly inaccurate version of the solar system that form the basis of traditional astrology. Instead, as the book demonstrates repeatedly, traditional horary methods (i.e. Ptolemaic dignities, Lilly strengths) can be completely disregarded and ignored and still result in accurate answers. The astronomy-based, faster, easier-to-learn methods of modern horary provide an accurate, sound and reliable system without the silly dogmas, cumbersome rules and complications of traditional horary. 
It then continues with a quote from Liz Greene, that we are not to judge different schools of astrology as good or bad, better or worse. Greene, last I checked, was not an horary astrologer. Dear authors: Every word counts. Don't clutter your book with tangents like this, but I've mentioned that before. 
Liz Greene discusses a couple of her horary interpretations in her book, "The Astrology of Fate." As an exceptional astrologer and scholar, her opinion is relevant in any book on astrology. Further, knowledge of horary is a requirement for professional astrology certification exams such as NCGR, AFA, etc. So most professional astrologers (i.e., Tyl, Greene, Lavoie, Munkasey, etc.) know how to do horary, but don't make it a focus of their practice because they can arrive at the same conclusions without horary, via natal charts, directional charts, progressions, etc. 
On the very next page, we read,
"Many traditional horary rules were formulated based on ancient and pre-17th century societies, morals, superstitions, belief systems and cultures that are long obsolete. From a modern standpoint, one would no more think like a denizen of the 1600's (or prior) than they would dress like one. Contemporary issues and problems are approached and resolved using the logic, methodologies and realities of today, not the 17th century and prior. (pg. 20)"
(The context is a slam against William Lilly. It seems as if the author really is judging some astrologies as better than others.) So it would seem that while old and new horary are just as good, one to the other, Old horary deals with old times while New horary deals with modern times. So it is not correct nor true to say that both old and new yield correct answers. It is more correct to say that old horary used to be right and is now wrong, while modern horary is now right.
Roell really starts to lose his knitting here. An example of old vs. new horary thinking, as covered in Chapter 11, is that in traditional cultures, people lived with their parents until they were married, and the marriages were arranged more often than not. That's going the 1st house of the individual’s autonomy straight to the 7th house and a legally-bound, committed partnership, and traditional astrology rules regarding relationships reflect that. However, relationships today, particularly in the West, are nothing like that. People often start off as friends, date many different people over the course of time, and eventually marry or not. This is reflected in modern horary questions, in placing the question in the proper house: 11th for friends but not quite dates, 5th for dates, and 7th for long-term relationships. So from a modern horary standpoint, a horary question about someone the querent has dated a few times, or is having an affair with, is not going to utilize the same house as a 40-year marriage.
Gee. Aside from asteroids (etc.), astromaps, midpoints and Transneptunians, this is pretty much standard horary astrology. Nor are midpoints anything but empty space, no matter how you try to dress them up.
Roell clearly doesn't know enough about horary astrology to know that it isn't "standard" horary astrology because the "standard" traditional tools—such as traditional rulerships, Lilly strengths, Ptolemaic dignities, terms, faces, decans, triplicities, almutens, solstice points (antiscia and contrascia), Regiomontanus house system, strictures against judgment, most fixed stars, moiety, lunar mansions, cazimi, under the sunbeams, occidental/oriental, increasing/decreasing in light, nocturnal/diurnal, masculine/feminine, hayz, planetary hours, houses of joy, rays, collection and translation of light, natures of the planets and signs, and out-of-sign aspect culmination—were not utilized in the book and still yielded accurate answers.
Modern horary also uses transits and progressions in horary charts that don't have immediate resolution. Since Roell has such a hard-on for all things William Lilly (perhaps because he cribbed Lilly's work from the copyright-free public domain and reprinted it to a tidy profit, rather than creating any original work or research himself), maybe he can show where Lilly uses transits, progressions, minor aspects, Placidus/Koch/Equal House systems, etc. in horary. Or any contemporary traditional horary astrologers who do so for that matter.
Traditional horary practitioners don't even acknowledge and use the gas giant planets of Uranus and Neptune in their interpretations (for the most bizarre reasons, which were completely debunked in Chapter 4). So to expect them to use asteroids and trans-Neptunian objects, and give up science fiction for the reality of an astronomically accurate solar system, is to expect way too much.
So far as "science" is concerned, very little of this is in any way "scientific". TNO's for example, have never been found.
Boy, are NASA and the IAU going to be surprised! A basic Google or Wikipedia search would have yielded the following:  and
Here Roell is confusing TNOs (trans-Neptunian objects), which actually exist, with Uranian astrology's TNPs, (trans-Neptunian Planets), which do not exist. Somehow he also missed the numerous astronomy illustrations in Chapter 2 and Chapter 12.
But forget all that. How does she do with it? How good an horary astrologer is she?
The measure of "how good" any astrologer is is by how accurate their answers or predictions are—period. The case studies speak for themselves.
The easy way is to cut to Appendix C, Practice Chart Answers, with the hunch that a book about the New Horary will want to showcase New Horary techniques.
Actually, the Practice Charts in Chapter 8 were for beginners to get the hang of the five pages of interpretation guidelines from Chapter 6. The TNO meanings aren't taught until Chapter 12. (It's called sequencing, Dave.) 
The easiest way to see the new horary techniques would have been to take notice of the numerous examples throughout the book as well as the case studies in Appendix A-Part III, and how they ignore the list of traditional tools as mentioned above. But somehow Roell missed all that, though.
PS: Dear author, the term Transneptunian refers to the Hamburg School, which is nearly a century old. If you meant to say Kuiper belt objects, then that's the phrase you should use. Astronomers may not use well-established astrological terms for misleading purposes, and astrologers, yourself included, are expected to know this.
PS—Dear Dave:
• The term trans-Neptunian merely means "beyond Neptune."

• Further, while all Kuiper Belt Objects are TNOs, not all TNO's are Kuiper Belt Objects (e.g., Sedna=Scattered Disk Object or SDO, is trans-Neptunian, but not of the Kuiper Belt). This was discussed in Chapters 2 and 12.

• TNPs or trans-Neptunian Planets, from the Hamburg School, do not exist.

• TNOs, or trans-Neptunian Objects, actually exist scientifically/astronomically.

• If you had looked at the pictures in Chapter 12, or had an elementary school-level knowledge of astronomy, you would know all of this.

• Astronomers don't give a tinker's damn about well-established astrological terms, nor should they. Astrology adjusts to astronomy, not the other way around.
Maybe Astroamerica should carry a simple astronomy book or two, so people like Roell can discern the difference between between science fiction and reality.
And there you have it. A tour-de-force of traditional astrology with outer planets thrown in for good measure.
The stance of modern horary as "traditional horary plus outer planets" was throughly debunked in Chapter 3, and repeatedly throughout the book (and in the paragraphs above), but it's a notable comment to show you Roell's deliberate denial and inability to accept modern horary astrology as different and viable. As listed above, none of the traditional astrology core methodologies were practiced in the course of the book, because with modern horary, you don't need them.
Apparently Roell also somehow missed all of Chapter 4 and Chapter 12, Appendix III-Part G, and all the other examples in the book. He particularly missed this sentence from Chapter 4: "This book will often refer to traditional methods in order to compare and contrast application and interpretation with modern methods." It's sad when people write reviews of books they clearly didn't read.
The late Marion March and Joan McEvers would heartily endorse the examples in this book, as would, so I presume, Anthony Louis, who is alive and who the author mentions favorably.
Roell knows with certainty what dead people would or wouldn't endorse, and then presumes what the living would say, without actually asking firsthand?
Now that we have that out of the way, we can get to some final details. First, regardless of diatribes and old vs: new, can you learn horary, any kind of horary, with this book? No. The author gives few and sketchy rules.
Apparently Roell completely missed the five pages of "rules" (guidelines, really) outlined in detail in Chapter 6, and the Cheat Sheets in the Appendix. More importantly, he missed the sentence from Chapter 4 that states, "The ultimate goal of modern horary is to evolve beyond rules, not look for more of them."
A horary chart is nothing more than a current cycle chart applied to a specific question instead of a person. The planetary, sign, aspect and house meanings fundamental to astrology all remain the same. The traditional party line that horary is a very special and specific branch of astrology in which endless rules must be followed in order to yield an accurate answer is pure poppycock, and was proven as such throughout the book.
The author instead gives endless diatribes, and then, with her example charts, pulls black rabbits from white hats. A Panama hat. Why not?
As mentioned in Appendix A-Part III:
"The following selection of case studies are real-time transcripts of querent interpretations with outcomes. This allows you to see the astrologer-querent interaction in its most raw form, warts and all. It’s honest and authentic, more so than the carefully edited and polished case studies that are written up retroactively in horary texts after the outcome is already known."

So no rabbits, no hats. Just accuracy as a natural result of using science-based, updated, faster and easier methods than Lilly and other traditional astrologers.

And speaking of endless diatribes, on his website, Roell gives the book 20+ paragraphs of "comments," far more than anyone else on the site. Obviously the material struck a very raw nerve in his clearly misguided astrological belief system. And when confronted with contrary evidence, people get upset and cling even harder to their mistaken assumptions. 
For example, one could easily make a treatise on horary using Reinhold Ebertin's Combination of Stellar Influences, which is in fact about midpoint structures. Ebertin's book on midpoints has been the standard reference since it was first published in 1940 (the English translation dates from at least 1972), the book has never been out of print. Yet to my surprise, Ebertin is not listed in the Bibliography, nor is he mentioned in the midpoint section on pgs. 53-56. 
Don McBroom's midpoint material was far more relevant and useful, especially from a technical standpoint. Ebertin himself in CSI states on pg. 37 that the work is focused on natal charts, not horary. So Roell whines about tangents, and then wonders why I didn't go off on one. Why overwhelm the reader with an irrelevant history of midpoints and Ebertin? And why does Roell think that because something is old, it's some sort of gold standard? Aged material just means no one ever bothered to update or evolve the information. (In Ebertin's sitch, Munkasey's work has evolved far beyond CSI's original material.)
My apologies to the author. She contacted me a couple of months ago, if I would carry her book. My intention was to politely decline, but a month later I was propositioned by the AFA, who had stock, and so got a copy.
This is an outright lie, and here's the proof. This is a screen shot of the email where Roell not only DIDN'T "politely decline" when I contacted him, but told me exactly what to do so he COULD stock it!

(And if the book is as terrible as Roell claims, why does he stock it? Seems hypocritical to me.)
Further, I gave Roell an ebook version at the time of the email, so he already had a copy on hand long before the AFA allegedly propositioned him. However, the ebook I sent Roell provoked a stupid email rant from him (not worth publishing here, and likely the reason behind his baseless comments) about how "paper is forever," so he's vehemently against ebooks, despite the fact that they outsell hardcopy.
Some people will just have to be dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming. And in Roell's case, lying all the way.
I hoped for better, I always hope for better, but was disappointed, as I feared. I am a bookseller. I want to like books, I want to hear them sing, I want to make them sing.
Books are to inform and educate, provided you actually read them and can understand their content. If you want to hear books sing and make them sing, join a choir. 
As you can see, Roell was very confused that Open Source Modern Horary Astrology isn't an obeisance to 17th century horary author William Lilly (who, as demonstrated in the book, is hopelessly irrelevant for modern horary purposes). His confusion deepened when he realized the book was also not about Uranian horary, which Penelope Bertucelli touched on just fine in her book, "Phoenix Workship" which is sold on the Astroamerica site. (It's unfortunate that Roell doesn't actually read the books he carries.) Finally, he is hopelessly lost when basic astronomical science is presented, because apparently he skipped those sections in order to go on a tangent about Uranian TNPs, which do not exist. Roell clearly didn't understand the material he was reading to offer any remote semblance of honest scholarship or critique.

It forever grates on traditional astrologers' nerves that with modern astrology (again, horary or otherwise), you can correctly interpret charts without using William Lilly, Ptolemy, Frawley, or any other traditionalist's methods, and still come up accurate. Traditional astrology simply doesn't have any kind of a monopoly on astrology or horary. No sane, reasonable person is going to struggle to learn archaic, outmoded, and complicated approaches when there are faster, easier, more accurate and reliable methods available. The truth can be uncomfortable, indeed. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pitfalls of Relationship Astrology: When the Astrologer (& Sometimes the Querent) Gets in the Way

Relationship astrology is by far and away the most popular subject of astrology.  Unfortunately—and that's with a very capital "U"—most non-practicing or amateur astrologers (and many of the pros, too) can't keep their personal bias out of the interpretation, to the huge detriment of the querent.

If the relationship counsel is based on the astrologer's personal experience, the astrologer should keep in mind that their personal experience is far from universal, and certainly not similar to, the personal experience of the querent. For example, a 22-year old single, male astrologer who maybe has had three dates in his entire life, lives with his mother, and has read a couple of astrology books and taken a few classes is definitely not going to have anything relevant to say experience-wise to a three-times divorced, middle-aged mother of four with grandkids older than he is. It simply doesn't happen, and to expect otherwise is ludicrous. (And yes, this example actually happened.)

It gets even worse if the astrologer projects their own moral values and judgments on the querent. (E.g., "Tell your daughter that pre-marital sex is bad!") Yes, I have seen this happen, too.

The only thing that matters, ever, in an astrological interpretation, horary or otherwise, are the facts in the chart right in front of you. If people want advice, they can get it for free at their nearest bar (or nosy neighbor); they don't need astrology for that.

Unfortunately, other astrologers will end up having to do damage control on querents consulting advice-happy relationship astrologers. These unlucky querents are often given gag-worthy relationship "advice"—as opposed to true astrological insight—that makes Dear Abby look downright sagacious. This is tragic because it fails the querent every time, and keeps them in confusion, rather than creating resolution to the situation by detailing the astrological sequence of events and likely outcomes.

As a rule in relationship astrology, querents don't consult the astrologer when things are going swimmingly in the relationship. It's only when the doubts and problems arise that the astrologer gets the call, because people use astrology to either clear up doubt and confusion, or to escape from pain. This isn't necessarily bad, as it's far more constructive than drinking and drugging to cope—no skeptic can deny that.

Astrologers are not omnipotent gods, prophets or seers. Querents think astrologers know things they really don't, which is part of the glamour and mystique of the art that gets people into loads of trouble because they throw (unglamourous) common-sense out the window. And there are far too many astrologers out there who readily feed that all-knowing astrological power trip on their querents to inflate their own egos.

Advice is free, which is exactly why no one takes it. When a querent plunks their money down for an answer, they tend to value it more, right or wrong, because it's a panacea to help still the confusion. No one likes to pay an astrologer to hear that their dream isn't going to come true. Astrology cannot bring a person their soulmate (there is no such thing, regardless of what you believe or who told you to believe it), nor can it bring a happily-ever-after ending, because that's the domain of fairy tales, not reality. The querent can only take a long, hard look in the mirror to see what they bring to a relationship (both good and bad), and to educate and understand what a happy, healthy relationship is to begin with. It's the astrologer's job to use the chart to point them in that direction, free from bias.