Thursday, 30 October 2008

Historical Context

Since I began my studies in Traditional astrology, many old and ancient works have been translated, or republished, or reprinted. This has been of some help for those interested in the Tradition. However, what has been entirely neglected, so far as I know, is any attempt to place these texts in their historical context (I use this phrase in its broadest sense). It is my opinion that without such knowledge our understanding of the astrology of any period is seriously lacking, and we cannot expect to understand.

I have a longstanding interest in the Second World War, and over the years I have made myself aware of the complexities of life during that period right down to reading contemporary cookery books. In the last few years I have become aware of modern commentators who criticise those who fought during that war, or who were actively participant in other ways. From the safety of a public broadcast or freely available newspaper, well-fed, healthy and not in fear for their lives, they criticize those who did not have such privileges or freedom. And yet this refers to less than 70 years ago. If we have difficulty grasping historical context when we still have oral testimony, how can we hope to understand the writings of many hundreds of years ago.

It is essential that each one of us purporting to be a Traditional astrologer (or Classical, or Hellenistic, or Medieval, or whatever) immerses him or herself in the astrological period of choice. The briefest of investigations into society, politics, religion, philosophy, architecture, design, food, music and so on, will provide historical context and help us to understand the motivations of those astrologers of old.

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