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What a comment sherlock

Posted by Wroskopos on April 20, 2010


I was searching for The introduction to the science of the judgments of the stars by Sahl Ibn Bishr, and found the Holden translation in the linked site (most of you are probably fairly acquainted with it).
Proceeding to read the comment, its author was wondering about the difference in the house system in use between ancient Greek horoscopes and medieval Europe ones.
I had a “what the hell…?” moment when I read this:

Why was this issue not tackled by the Greeks? Because they lacked numerical representation that would enable them to perform the necessary calculations. If all they had were “Roman numerals”, consider the problem of dividing MCCCXLVIII by XXIII (848 / 23 = 36.87) using such a crude symbol set.

To the author of that comment: That was priceless! You gave me so much material to laugh for years to come, that I simply can not thank you enough. I will try with this post, to pay a tribute to your “brilliance”. If only we had more of you, nobody would be depressed. I hope you read the rest of this post though I am afraid that it will frustrate the solitary brain cell you have (I will compensate by adding pictures, OK? ). For reasons of readability I will call you John in the following:

First of all John, Greeks used…Greek letters and notation (I know it strikes you as odd using their own language and numerals but they did). Roman ones were implemented relatively later (after the Romans established their empire) and Greek still dominated for some time as the ‘educated language’ so, it continued to be in use between scholars. You could have suggested there was use of hieroglyphs and it would have a basis, but Roman? Anyway…
So far, we have retrieved knowledge concerning the science of mathematics, with evidence that goes back to Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians and Greeks (in chronological order in relation to historical relics and sources). I will skip the Indians and Chinese that themselves also did well with mathematics – besides their also “crude” symbols – as they are not known to have exert significant influence to the Greek sciences.
Babylonians could solve quadratic and cubic equations, calculate exponents and even had a first form of Fourier analysis (roughly: one can break down certain complex functions into simpler known trigonometric functions). I think it is safe to conclude they could also multiply and divide.
And it is truly safe to conclude that, as proof that humanity knew multiplication and division dates as far back as the Sumerians who preceded the Babylonians. Sumerians could solve quadratic and cubic equations, too as they were able to find volumes and areas of basic geometric shapes. They used (mainly) cuneiform script and John, this is even “cruder” than what poor Greeks had to use.
Next we have the Egyptians, from whom little is left but there too we know they could do linear equations and fractions, composite and prime numbers, so I think it is yet again rather safe to assume they also could divide and multiply – fractions are in essence a division. They used hieroglyphic or hieratic symbols but surprisingly John, they managed coping with fractions and even astronomical measurements.

All those civilizations interacted, knowledge was exported and imported through the ages and the countries and I must tell you John, I think Babylonians seem a tad better than Egyptians (in mathematics) as they had more accurate results in their calculations. I am sure you can attribute it to Egyptians using an even harder (cruder) to depict numerical system but if I may say so, we have not found as many relics from Egyptians as we have from Babylonians so it is unwise to be harsh about their level of expertise.

Last in chronology (seemingly – judging by the very little that is saved) but not least in value, came the Greek. Like you wrote John, they had that “crude” system that should have hindered them. Yet, Greeks mastered the sciences and division is practically exactly what they did, though very little is saved or found as direct originals (here we should thank mostly the Arabs that copied and saved some of the vast knowledge of ancient Greeks).
I am sure you find this hard to believe so please, allow me to elaborate. Ancient Greeks traveled the – educated – world to study and they communicated ardently as well. It is rather simple to deduct that – at the very least – they had learned multiplication and division by other civilizations, all of them using different “crude symbol sets”. However:

Greek mathematics was much more sophisticated than the mathematics that had been developed by earlier cultures. All surviving records of pre-Greek mathematics show the use of inductive reasoning, that is, repeated observations used to establish rules of thumb. Greek mathematicians, by contrast, used deductive reasoning.

This level of mathematical analysis attained by Archimedes, Euclid and others is far in advance of anything recorded by the Babylonians or Egyptians.

It seems Greeks did some good job with their “crude” symbols: they calculated (with the best accuracy than anybody else for centuries) the number π, conics and their sections, spherical geometry, Infinite Series, gave us the Euclidean geometry, and they also proved numerous mathematical concepts, from the Pythagorean theorem to the existence of Irrational Numbers and gave the precursors and foundations of most modern mathematics, including integrals and calculus, and Number Theory.

You do not have to take my word for it, luckily I can refer you to A manual of Greek mathematics by T.L.Heath, where you can see that apparently Greeks could divide and furthermore their system is alike what we still use today.
Using whole signs had nothing to do with their difficulty to do simple divisions like the one you mention. Division was practically every ancient Greek scientist’s middle name! And I believe one can hardly conceptualize any of the other 3 great civilizations having any problem with division that would hindered them into constructing new house systems.
A different reason seems far more likely to existed than incompetence in simple calculations. Many have already published opinions on the matter if you want to find out more John. The subject is still open to educated opinions and strokes of scientifically or historically founded inspiration.

Greeks were so at ease with mathematics, they liked to play with them (only mathematicians will laugh with this joke but, oh well…):

We know that Eudoxus studied the classical problem of the duplication of the cube. Eratosthenes, who wrote a history of the problem, says that Eudoxus solved the problem by means of curved lines.

I should have addressed your use of the word “crude” that I find ἀτάκτως ἐῤῥιμένη and a misnomer but I guess it is a matter of taste. Instead, I will quote something funny that will hopefully help you realize the house system in use by ancient and Hellenistic astrology was not forced due to divisional issues and therefore we should look elsewhere to find why they chose to use whole signs; as the ancient mathematicians were quite efficient with mathematics. According to wikipedia:

Fermat was not the first mathematician so moved to write in his own marginal notes to Diophantus; the Byzantine scholar John Chortasmenos (14th/15th C.) had written “Thy soul, Diophantus, be with Satan because of the difficulty of your theorems” next to the same problem.

and the same abstract according to another source (I have no idea why they use different names for the scholar):

Fermat was not the first mathematician so moved to write: in his own marginal notes (scholia – σχόλια) to Diophantus on the same problem (II.8), the Byzantine mathematician Maximus Planudes had written “Thy soul, Diophantus, be with Satan because of the difficulty of your other theorems, and of this one in particular”.

Punchline:

In Measurement of a Circle, Archimedes gives the value of the square root of 3 as lying between 265⁄153 (approximately 1.7320261) and 1351⁄780 (approximately 1.7320512).

Do you still believe the ancient Greeks used whole house system because they had troubles with dividing numbers?

PS. By the way John, I think you miscalculated your Roman numbers (MCCCXLVIII = 1348; not 848) and I have a feeling that you learned both your history and your maths in Oregon’s “kidipede” (definitely not a recommended site, therefore no link).



—————————————-
A few more References
Sumerians
Egyptian fractions
History of mathematics
Sieve of Eratosthenes (Greek)
Diofantus (Greek) and Fermat’s last theorem
Greek mathematicians
Greek Math
Fourier Series




© 2010 All rights reserved – Με επιφύλαξη παντός νόμιμου δικαιώματος

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The kind of client you are makes the astrologer you should get

Posted by Wroskopos on April 4, 2010


When in search for astrological insight, people are in loss of where to look in order to find a “good astrologer”. Usually a friend or chance dictates the astrologer who will delineate the client’s chart. A recommendation, or an advertising in a magazine, or an article about astrology that attracted our attention will point us to an astrologer.
It is hard to find a good astrologer but how do we classify “good”? A good theoretical knowledge and years of successful field experience should do it, no? Well, not exactly.

In 20th century, psychology became the absolute hype. The absolute fashion, the “it” thing to give us the most essential answers about the only thing we ended up caring for: ourselves. Being sad was renamed to being depressed and from a natural experience it was deemed a psychological disorder. Being rationally worried was renamed to having anxiety and stress.
The predominance of psychology spread its influence in many science and arts, affecting the Art of Prediction as well. Like what happened with psychiatry, astrology didn’t escape exaggerations and the focus on personal sentiments overcame a balance between events related astrology and inner reflections in a chart. What we ended up mostly having nowadays, is the most egomaniac and emotion-centered astrology in ages. Is that bad? Not really, a product is the result of a need. Many customers crave exactly that aspect of astrology, it would be perhaps short-sighted to dismiss that.

The average modern customer of an astrologer wants to hear about one’s psychological traits and the psychological impact of an incident rather than know what the incident will be. Is rare to find a customer who asks about hard cold facts like it used to happen in the far past. Is therefore, not a surprise or a coincidence at all, that we often see astrologers having some psychology studies and degrees, or astrologers presenting themselves as “life coaches”.
Once upon a time, astrology was factual. Back then it also was a science.

Is there anything wrong about this? Wrong and right are philosophical concepts, far too complex to be analyzed here. The fact astrology took a psychological turn, can be an addition to sociological theses as an aspect of 20th century industrially progressed societies but, it doesn’t necessarily render modern astrology a “bad” thing.
It would be an oversight not realizing things happen for a reason and the emotion-centered astrology is the product of the needs humans had in the last century. Many clients needed to know how a transit or natal position would affect their inner world, their sentiments and feelings. In their search for answers in “why I feel like this?”, “why am I feeling that bad/such a loser/so depressed/so unhappy/ so angry/so without HOPE?”, psychological astrology was one of the most common *tools* we could use to get the desired answers in the search of ourselves.

How is all this connected to what kind of astrologer one should find?

There are two main kinds of good and valuable astrologers you can find, the scholar and the phychologist. Their ethics and approaches differ:

1. The traditional scholar. She is very mercurian (a dignified mercury), she studies and then studies more and likes FACTS, proofs and is direct. She is cold comparing to the following category of astrologers and prefers truth than elaborate lies. Even if that truth makes you feel bad, is still the truth and is unethical to hide it.

2. The psychologist. She is tender and seems caring and considerate and will go in depths analyzing every petty or important FEELING you may experience. Facts are too mundane for her, if a fact is detrimental it is unethical to disclose it to the client. You will get a lot of compassion and understanding and probably accurate insights of your feelings that could be of help to your pshychologist.

To give a gross example of delineation from each type, let’s accept a possible future incident “client’s beloved dog dies in a hideous car accident”. Let’s assume that both our astrologers are very good and see the incident in the chart.
The 1st type will say something like “your dog will die next month and it will be a violent death but you will overcome it”.
The 2nd type will say something like “next month you will experience intense emotions, even shock but you will overcome it”.
It doesn’t matter which prediction is the better one – we can not dismiss either as objectively bad; only subjectively. One judges that by one’s personal preconceptions. For me, who are into traditional, factual, event, “objective” astrology, to tell me how I will feel without telling me why I will experience those feelings, is blurring the picture and hiding ; it is unethical. My feelings will not create that particular event, it is the event that will determine my feelings. In short, give me the CAUSE, not the psychology please.
For someone else, the vivid cold event prediction of the 1st type, can be a most unwelcome interpretation of no use except creating unwanted and detrimenting panic.

Bottomline?

Ideally an astrologer should mix discretion with Art and is hard to find a clear demonstration of the aforementioned 2 types; it is usually a mix. In every astrologer though, you will notice a certain disposition in the kind of readings they prefer doing and how they address them. In the modern times, you will find far more astrologers of the second kind, their mix being 30% facts- 70% emotion analysis. Kindness and understanding with all the truth and all the facts is an ideal conception – it is too tough to find the golden middle ground. Some areas are too hot to go into, death being one of those areas yet, some clients want to learn how and when they die while most hate even the mention of death.
No matter how typically good the astrologer is, what matters in the end, is how the client feels about their readings. What the client expects and wants is what sets the kind of astrologer they should get. They should find the astrologer that complies to what deep inside you are after. The judge of a reading is the client. Let’s see how two imaginary clients approach the readings.

Mary says: I got a reading from an astrologer of the 2nd type, I left the counseling with contempt. I didn’t need a self-appointed shrink, I would have gone to a real shrink if I wanted that. I wanted facts, I wanted to know about what happens in the future and all I got was generalizing about how I feel and the emotional paterns in my chart. Who cares about that – jee are there are people who are so dumb they can’t understand themselves? And what makes her think I am one of those? How insulting. What a waste of my time and money!

John says: I went to the 1st type and she was cruel and annoying. She even told me which of my parens dies first! I didn’t want that! It scared me, I just wanted to know why I feel so terrible since last year, why I am so sensitive and depressed and how to overcome this. Who cares if I buy a car next year – I want to know my true self. I will never go back, she tried to sound compassionate but she didn’t really care how I felt, was more eager to show off her expertise than to care for her customer!

If Mary and John switch astrologers, they will both get the counseling they want. They both will be happy with their astrologer. Before you reject astrology, try to get a reading from an astrologer that suits your needs and personality better.
If at the end, you do not find someone to satisfy you, then it may be time perhaps, to start learning astrology and find your own answers, the way you want them.



© 2010 All rights reserved – Με επιφύλαξη παντός νόμιμου δικαιώματος

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Raping personalities with astrology

Posted by Wroskopos on March 6, 2010

In the world of astrology there is nothing worst than a biased delineation with sole purpose to defame an individual.

History, culture and socialization dictates our way of thinking through building the blocks of our moral system, nothing new in this. An astrologer, a historian, a reporter, anyone really, is a grid of concepts, beliefs and opinions that are built on judgments and prejudices. We analyze and our brain assigns attributes (judgments) to beings, items and situations.
We are bound to use our own terminology (that may look ok to us but might insult someone else). We are also bound to have certain preconceived approaches to subjects. That too is human and acceptable, if not downright expected.

In this article, I am not talking about interpretations on known proven criminals, even though they too carry a natural bias as we are directed by what we know. For example, a delineation of Hitler’s birth chart is bound to focus around any criminal tendencies that might be shown in his nativity.

I am not talking either, about a honest delineation that presents all arguments of the chart, then deciphers where the most indications lie. If – say – a chart has 5 indications of genius, 10 for insanity, 3 of humanism, is not out of reach to interpret the chart as that of an insane person that is also quite clever. The wrong way would be to focus on the minority of evidence and claim this chart is a sane philanthropist’s. Then again is only human to err.

What I am talking about here are the deliberate lies.
The intentional misinterpretation of nativities. The selective “amnesia” of the full meaning of an aspect or a planet position or a fixed star. The partial and biased interpretation of otherwise normal charts as monstrous derogatory conceptions.
When one goes to lengths in faking a delineation, focusing solely on negative notions of a natal chart, deliberately avoiding to mention the full meanings or – even worst – modifying and discriminating at ill will the meanings, in a manic attempt to debase an individual.
That, is NOT astrology. Is a premeditated and unfounded rape of someone’s personality and reputation.

And is downright hideous.



© 2010 All rights reserved – Με επιφύλαξη παντός νόμιμου δικαιώματος

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Why we bother with astrology?

Posted by Wroskopos on February 15, 2010

Basically, because astrology is downright interesting. Strangely enough, I have rarely seen the word “interesting” used as argument in favor of astrology and it is a pity really.

People usually come to astrology for a combined and simultaneous number of reasons. It can help one be prepared for opportunities or disasters, it can direct a person towards its real potential or towards a better understanding of themselves, it is fun, it is interactive socially and so on.

People also make money of it either as gamblers or as practitioners.
Many of the practitioners deserve every single penny they charge. Learning astrology requires – literally – decades of study and reading hundreds of books. If it was a subject taught in universities, few brave would chose it due to its workload.




However sometimes we may have only one reason:

1. We are impatient, we can not wait in anticipation, we want to know now. We also hate fake surprises – don’t tell us “we have a surprise but we are not telling you what it is”; tell us what the darn surprise is…now!

2. We are cautious and like to plan ahead. Life is a serious matter to us, so we do all the research we can and try to predict future conditions in order to prepare for them. Uncertainty is a principle we just don’t like.
Companies do the same when they market research to predict future tendencies.

3. We are feeling lost in a society that doesn’t suit us perfectly and/or we still try to understand ourselves and why we feel miserable and/or we need a vision so we don’t feel miserable. The usual tools to help us in the search for ourselves and furthermore in our search for happiness and vision are psychology and astrology.
Other options include religion and occultism but both are quite demanding and we just need to talk about ourselves right now.

4. We need money and we failed making them with the socially traditional ways of our times. Does not matter what we have to do, we need money and we need them now, there are a lot of gullible victims out there. We won’t bother actually learning astrology, just s few relevant lines to sound savvy and believable.

5. Somebody told us about astrology and they also said some very accurate stuff about us: they told us we have a sense of humor, refined taste and we also are very sensitive and caring individuals. Amazed, we exclaim “Oh my, this is true! Astrology is great, I will read my sign on every newspaper available from now on”.

6. We are scientists. This whole subject is retarded; we can’t believe there are people that believe this crap! People must stop wasting time and money on such a ridiculous endeavor and we must help humanity escape.
This is absurd, we are telling them for centuries that astrology is wrong (ONLY science is right), why do people still believe it? We must make them understand it is wrong!

7. We are desperate, we need hope. Neither requires reason, either is essential part of life. We are in love, or long time unemployed or a dear to us person suffers from severe health problems. In such cases, it is understandable we are after a favorable answer.

8. We are curious. This thing persevered for millennia; so much debate on whether it works or not, so many questions, so much potential. Both philosophically (What is the truth? What are its fundamental underlying principles? To be deterministic or not to be?) and scientifically (why and how it works? under what circumstances does it work if it works?) exciting, we delve into astrology for the exhilarating joy of researching.




ps. By the way, love doesn’t exist. Scientists can not prove or duplicate it in controlled experiments.
Love is as fake as astrology.





© 2010 All rights reserved – Με επιφύλαξη παντός νόμιμου δικαιώματος

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When Apples Are Not Bananas

Posted by Wroskopos on July 6, 2009

(Otherwise known as “not all astrology is Horary“)
I need to stress something out: NO, we do NOT use the same rules and way of interpretation in all forms of astrology. Yes, there is great common ground such as planets and rulerships and so on but, there also are essential differences. Apples and bananas are both fruits, they are both edible and they are both yummy. However apples are NOT bananas.
Let me stress this out: as apples are not bananas, in the same way Horary is NOT Event or Katarchic or Decumbiture or Natal or Solar Returns and etc. Let’s see some apples that are often mistaken to be bananas:

Katarchic astrology
The word derives from the Greek word Καταρχή which means ‘in the beginning’ and is commonly known as Inceptional or Electional astrology. Is the art of electing the appropriately lucky moment for an event or a significant moment in one’s life or judge how an already initiated event will carry on, based on the chart cast for the date and place the event took place. Such occasions can include anything we initiate, from marriages to founding a business.
The essential difference with Horary is which time and space combination we chose to interpret. In Horary we cast for the time a question for that initiating formed clearly in the Querent’s mind: ‘will my marriage last forever?”. In Katarchic we will use the exact date and place the marriage took place. This is the most essential and ‘astrology 101’ difference. Apart from that the very course of interpretation differs as well as some essential rules. Katarchic is closer to Event astrology than it is to Horary and in older times the term was actually used to describe both electional and inceptional astrology.

Event astrology
It interprets the astral influences for the time and place a specific event happened.
Will offer outlines or extreme detail -depending on the astrologer- of what the event was, how it affected our querent and how it will continue in the future. Seems close to Horary but it is not. The data needed to cast the chart is again different than the data we need in Horary and also the approach, course and rules of interpretation differ.

Decumbiture
The word derived from the Latin word that loosely translated means ‘falling ill’. Decumbiture’s chart is casted for the very moment a patient literally falls ill. Is used to point out the specifics of a disease, the way it started, how it will carry on and even whether the patient will survive or not. Decumbiture is medical astrology at its best and its most known representative is Culpeper.
Differs from Horary in the choise of time to cast the chart. In Horary we will cast for the time a relevant question popped in our minds, when in Decumbiture we shall cast for the actual time our subject became seriously ill. Both techniques can be used, my favorite is Decumbiture, I only go with Horary when I do not have the event time.

Common ground and fruits
Well all astrology branches are…astrology. All observe the same sky, the same planets and aspects and they all try to explain how the skies manifest on the human lives. More often than not, rulerships and rules are common; not always though and if you see an astrologer unable to distinguish what is used where, run. Away. Fast.
Different ways can be used simultaneously or as stand alone. There are matters that using 2 or more forms of astrology, can often offer a better or deeper reading. For example, asking about the time and manner of a person’s death. A combo of Natal and Horary, or Solar Returns along with Progressions, can offer extremely detailed specifics on this macabre subject. 

Experiment with the methods you prefer. A pie with both apples and bananas can be awesome if you know how to cook it properly. 😉

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