Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Look Skyward: Total Solar Eclipse

The 2012 total solar eclipse as seen from Queensland, Australia. Image Source: EPA via Daily Mail.

On March 8 and 9 there is a total solar eclipse. It begins on 8 March 2016 at 11:19 p.m. UTC. It reaches its maximum point on 9 March at 1:59 a.m. UTC. The full eclipse will end in its range of visibility on 9 March at 3:38 a.m. UTC. The totality will be visible in Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi and the partiality in locations across the Pacific.

Visible area of solar eclipse, 8-9 March 2016. Image Source: Time and Date.

JF Ptak Science Books: "Sacro Busto, or Sacrobosco (also called John or Johannes Halifax, Holyfax, Holywalde, Sacroboscus, Sacrobuschus, de Sacro Bosco, or de Sacro Busto) was a member of the Order of St. Augustine and a professor of mathematics and atronomy/astrology at Paris ca. 1230. (There are many places attributed to be his birthplace, but it seems fairly certain that he at least was educated at Oxford.) He became a celebrated member of the intelligen[t]sia, with his fame in the later centuries coming via three of his surviving works, each an elementary textbook on mathematics and astronomy: De algorismo, the De computo, and De sphaera." Image from: Johannes de Sacro Bosco, Vberrimum sphere mundi comētū intersertis etiā questionibus dñi Petri de aliaco (Paris: Guy Marchand for Jean Petit, 1498-99). Image Source: Indiana University at Bloomington (Bernardo Mendel Collection; Lilly Library call number: QB41.S2 1498 vault) via JF Ptak Science Books.

Total solar eclipses have always inspired omens and superstitions. That tradition is alive and well among western astrologers, who claim that solar eclipses have varied impacts on the zodiac signs and have their greatest effect on people who live within the range of the eclipse's visibility.

Astrologically, solar eclipses signify new beginnings and karmic reappraisals. Old junk is pushed out of the way to make room for new starts. The idea is that during a solar eclipse, the moon blocks the light of the sun, and the two celestial bodies are symbolically combined. The eclipse of the sun makes any unconscious aspects of human nature (dominated by the moon) become conscious (sun). Bright sunlight is temporarily blocked, and whatever is usually shadowed is brought up from the sub-basements for examination. Whatever one has dreamed about supposedly becomes real in different areas of life, depending on which 'house' the solar eclipse highlights. Astrologers claim that something else that normally dominates the front of the mind is 'eclipsed out' to enable the new focus.

In addition to this, eclipses always come in pairs. New beginnings this month created by the Pisces solar eclipse are supposedly followed by endings created by the Libra lunar eclipse on 23 March 2016. Eclipses of the moon bring completions, culminations, achievements in areas of life different from those touched upon by the solar eclipse. For the solar eclipse on 8-9 March, and the lunar eclipse on 23 March 2016, these are the houses affected for each astrological sign:
In individual readings, an astrologer would find where the eclipse at 18 degrees, 56 minutes in Pisces falls, i.e. in which house, on an individual's birth chart. The house system, applied in the summary above, gives a glimpse at how astrologers relate a picture of the sky to a map of earthly concerns and emotions and to the passage of time. Astro Theme:
"The cutting of the chart into 12 houses, referred to as 'House system', varies from one astrologer to another. There are several methods: Placidus - the most ancient one, dating back to the 17th century - equal houses (with variants), Koch, Regiomontanus, Campanus, Alcabitius, Topocentric, Morinus, etc."
Astrology is popular in part because it is a mythical and folkloric proto- or meta-typology of psychoanalytical knowledge, with the latter now presented under rationalized labels. The same personality theories that human resources personnel use to assess employees in job searches and workplaces are used by astrologers in fanciful assessments of, and predictions about, the past, present and future. A glance at some historical personality typologies (below) shows that the same categorizations of human behaviour repeat, but they are reimagined and reanalyzed with new cultural labels in different times and places. Look at Paracelsus's "industrious gnomes" from 1550! Modern psychoanalytical classifications roughly correspond to western zodiac signs. Different systems of eastern astrology similarly classify human nature as it connects to the larger world.

Theories of personality commonly sort people into four types or usually multiples of four - twelve, sixteen or more - types. Depending on whether they are psychoanalytic or humanistic, these theories take different positions on questions of heredity and environment, conscious and unconscious behaviour, determinism and free will, etc. Image Source: Lewis Temperament Order.

Personality typologies adapt cultural values and mirror a society's oldest symbols. Here, a 4-type Japanese scheme relates character to blood type. Image Source: Wholelicious.

Temperament theory
Guardians (SJ)
Proprietary Sense
Artisans (SP)
Dynamic Impulse
Idealists (NF)
Perceptive Insight
Rationals (NT)
Logical Reason
Homer c.750BCPrudenceWolf's RageNoble AngerReason
Hesiod c.700BCIronBrassGoldSilver
Hippocrates c.400BC
Black Bile (Melan Chole)
Earth Element
Blood (Haima)
Air Element
Yellow Bile (Chole)
Fire Element
Phlegm (Phlegma)
Water Element
Plato/Socrates c.380BC
Ancient Temperaments 
Material Things
Image Representations
Idea Forms
Mathimatical Objects
Aristotle c.325BC
Ancient Temperaments
Aquiring Assets
Sensual Pleasure
Moral Virtue
Logical Investigation
Ptolemy c.100-178AD
Classical Astrology
(Earth Signs)
(Fire Signs)
(Water Signs)
(Air Signs)
Galen c.190AD
Classical Temperaments
Paracelsus c.1550
Elemental Spirits
Industrious Gnomes
(Earth Elementals)
Changeable Salamanders
(Fire Elementals)
Inspired Nymphs
(Water Elementals)
Curious Sylphs
(Air Elementals)
Tolstoy 1869Form and CeremonySocial ConnectionsUnderstood PathScientific Secrets
Baum 1900SecurityCourageHeartBrains
Adickes 1905TraditionalInnovativeDoctrinaireSkeptical
Kretschmer 1920
Character Styles
Jung 1921SensationSensationIntuition, FeelingIntuition, Thinking
Myers & Briggs 1957
Trait Preferences
Observant (S) &
Scheduling (J)
Observant (S) &
Probing (P)
Intuitive (N) &
Friendly (F)
Intuitive (N) &
Tough-minded (T)
Keirsey/Bates 1975-1998
Modern Temperaments
Guardians (SJ)
Artisans (SP)Tactical Concrete-Utilitarian
Idealists (NF)
Rationals (NT)Strategic
Don Lowry 1978ResponsibleAdventurousHarmoniousCurious
Hartman 1987Do-goodersFun loversPeacekeepersPower wielders
Brownsword 1987TraditionalistsTroubleshootersCatalystsVisionaries
Wriths/Bowman-Kruhm 1994MembersActorsFriendsThinkers
Hermann 1996SequentialInterpersonalImaginativeAnalytical
Kalil 1998ConventionalCourageousCompassionateConceptual
Berens 2000Stabilizer (SJ)Improviser (SP)Catalyst (NF)Theorist (NT)
Lewis 2008-2012
Modern Temperaments
Proprietary Prudence Polite
Report Traditionally
Cultural Duty
Dynamic Impulse Daring
Sensorate Anecdotally
Hedonic Opportunity
Perceptual Insight Compassionate 
Hyperbolize Metaphorically
Spiritual Disharmony
Logical Reason Skeptical
Deduce Categorically
Scientific Possibilities
Chart Source: Lewis Temperament Order.

Psychologists dislike the way that astrology connects human nature to the larger world. It's not really hard science, is it? Lewis Temperament Order:
"Astrology is an ancient belief that celestial bodies are interconnected with human life experience. Western and eastern astrologies contain some of the oldest personality descriptions. ... The personality descriptions in astrology can be life-like, depending on the version you see. In western astrology, Ptolemy grouped the signs by element—earth, fire, water and air—which can be related to temperament. Dispite [sic] any similarities to LTO theory, astrology ... is not a direct contributor. It may have influenced many contributors. LTO theory categorizes observable behavior; it does not address origins of behavior, future events or the ... cosmos. LTO theory does not conflict or relate at all with many core beliefs of astrology. The idea that every person born within the same year-long or month-long period has the same basic personality type is completely inaccurate. Astrology does not seem able to accurately relate its personality types to the correct individuals. Similarities can be drawn between popular astrology personality descriptions and LTO types, but any mapping would be rough."
Of course, there are those who think that psychology is not hard science. It is accurate to say that all of these typologies are primarily cultural and historical artefacts. Overtly, they are attempts to understand how we are part of our environment. In fact, they always tell us more about how particular cultures view reality at a particular point in time.

Astrologers attempt to connect typologies of human character to the elements, celestial bodies, and to time. This tradition moves beyond the basic desire to understand human behaviour and cognition in terms of the immediate earthly environment, stemming from primitive chemistry and psychology - and expands to the larger theatres of primordial religion, physics, astronomy and cosmology. To take the example of Paracelsus (1493-1541; the above-cited chart takes his ideas from an edition of his work published after his death), the University of Zurich summarizes his attempts to understand how humans exist within the natural order:
"These writings consist of prophecies which were derived from the appearances of comets, solar eclipses, exceptional rainbows and other heavenly constellations. The astronomical casting of annual prognostications in the form of calendars meant a significant contribution to many a physician's income. ... Paracelsus ... also wrote commentaries to two well known series of prophetic emblematic images, the Nürnberger Figuren and the Vaticinia pontificum. ... Not insignificant are the magical writings which are presupposing an invisible, magical side of nature with ghosts, nature spirits and demons, in fact a world not contradicting with Biblical issues. For the Renaissance mind, natural magic was nothing but a seemingly logic extrapolation of natural philosophy to invisible realms. Whereas Paracelsus's Philosophia magna and the possibly spurious Occulta philosophia describe various single topics of the magic world view, the Astronomia magna or Philosophia sagax (Philosophy of the Wise, 1537/38) tries to give a vast synthesis of natural philosophy, magic and theology."
Larger attempts to understand how humans reflect and relate to the environment took symbolic personality types and projected them onto astronomical phenomena, wedding the ups and downs of human psychology to the ups and downs of the universe. This projection birthed the sub-field of 'astrotheology' and explains the origins of religion; the term was coined by William Derham (1657-1735), who first measured the speed of sound. Wiki:
"Astrotheology is the study of the astronomical origins of religion; how gods, goddesses, and demons are personifications of astronomical phenomena such as lunar eclipses, planetary alignments, and apparent interactions of planetary bodies with stars. The term astro-theology appears in the title of a 1714 work by William Derham, Astro-theology: or, A demonstration of the being and attributes of God, from a survey of the heavens."
In the images below, solar eclipses are portrayed with the sun and moon as astrotheological players, and link individual emotions to universal fate. In the final example, it was especially difficult for contemporaries not to read celestial significance in the solar eclipse which shadowed Europe in 1914.

"This is a diagram of a solar eclipse in 1654 drawn by Thomas Hewit, a late Renaissance astrologer in England. It shows the moon ... before, during and after covering most of the disk of the Sun." Image from: Thomas Hewit (T.H. (1654)), Annus ab Incarnatione Domini, An Almanack For the year of our Lord, 1654 (London: Robert White, 1654). Image Source: Gary Brand Astrology.

Illustration by J. Walker for The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure on the solar eclipse visible in London, England on 14 July 1748. Image Source: Wellcome Images via pinterest.

The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani (1908?) by J. C. Dollman (1851-1934). Image from: Hélène Adeline Guerber, Myths of the Norsemen from the Eddas and Sagas (London: Harrap, 1909). Image Source: Wiki.

Illustration of the total solar eclipse of 21 August 1914, which occurred over Europe at the start of World War I. Click the image to enlarge. The text reads: "By a strange coincidence, at the very moment when all Europe is joined in the clash of battle the world will witness Nature's most awe-inspiring phenomenon, which in olden times - when men were 'dismayed at the signs of heaven' - struck terror into all hearts. To-day (Friday) there will be a total eclipse of the sun, visible as a partial eclipse in London ... . The portion of the earth upon which the penumbra, or partial shadow, will fall includes the area involved in the Great War. In Germany and Austria (omen faustum?) the eclipse will be nearly total." From: The Graphic Illustrated Newspaper (22 August 1914). Image Source: Universe Today.

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