Ideas from Kenneth McRitchie
From the beginning of my interest in astrology, I have asked myself the questions, “How do astrologers know what they think they know? Where does the vast literature of astrology with all of its organization and taxonomic detail come from?” To me, these are irresistible questions that any curious person would want to know. Pursuing these questions has led me to unpack what I have described as the black box of astrological technology and to examine the tools, templates, and analytical methods of the practice. To understand a complex discipline like astrology, one needs to simplify and unify, and I have been involved in the reduction of astrological concepts to testable hypotheses and theories that can potentially be linked to existing concepts in science and applied psychology.
My central thesis is what I call environmental cosmology. In this view of astrology, each individual exists within a specific environment that is defined by reference frames based on natural symmetries. These frames of reference are the familiar astrological signs, houses, and aspects. It is the organization of these frames of reference as process symmetries that is responsible for astrological effects rather than the causal mechanisms described in physical science. Process symmetry, based on the Hermetic maxim, “As above, so below,” is used in all astrology but is unrecognized in other fields. Yet this symmetry, which I also call cosmological symmetry, suggests the natural relationships between microcosmic and macrocosmic features that are found in such phenomena as holography, superpositioned and entangled quantum states, and real world applications of fractal geometries.
The foundations of astrology, I suggest, rest on the organizing principles of: nativity, correlativity, coevolution, correlation, and correlevance, which define the astrological concepts of origin, space, time, number, and pattern respectively. If astrology is a discipline, then it is necessary for astrologers to agree in principle on organizational rules that separate astrological concepts from non-astrological concepts. Concepts that are outside of agreed upon principles, which might for example be the various attempts to measure the Great Year by the positions of the constellations, would then be identified as being speculative and outside the normal organization of astrology.
Astrological concepts have changed over the centuries and I am an advocate of realigning some of the archaic language of astrology to the actual language used by modern astrologers and to some proposed updates. For example, the concepts of celestial influence, rulership, correspondence, and divination can be better developed and represented by the modern concepts of symmetry, property, correlation, and interpretation. Such an update would avoid the obscure and negative connotations of the archaic terms that have led to misunderstanding of astrology by many modern thinkers. Even without these changes, astrology describes the workings of personality far better than the fundamental psychological notions of ego, persona, anima, animus, libido, and unconsciousness. Astrology should avoid association with unrelated concepts borrowed from psychology.
Theory, applied concepts, and cross-disciplinary connections
I have developed simplified models and testable hypotheses from key concepts of applied astrology. These include:
- A theoretical model of the primitive zodiac that associates the cardinal signs not with seasons, stars, or mythology but with the mathematical structures of hierarchy and equality described as universal values.
- A new model of the astrological frames of reference interpreted as a universal and innate grammar of identity.
- A refinement of the hypothetical model of signs as being values, houses as being skills, and aspects as being beliefs.
- The hypothetical identification of signs, houses, and aspects with accepted psychological models and testable metrics, such as those developed by Howard Gardner and Daniel Goleman.
- A new model of instrumental planetary properties, by which the individual uses the planets as a toolkit to adapt to the changing circumstance of life.
- A new model of environmental adaptation. This is a psychological and evolutionary mechanism of planetary extension and transference by which the individual identifies values in the signs, tests beliefs in the aspects, and develops skills in the houses. This sequence is timed by prograde and retrograde planetary motions.
- A hypothetical model of six love styles adapted from psychological research on erotic, manic, ludic, pragmatic, storgic and agapic types of love expression.
- An extended model of personality complexes based on the “vicious circle” versus “virtuous circle” dynamics of harmonic planetary configurations.
- An examination of a maturity model of universal age development, adaptation, and growth with predictable stages and identity crises.
- A new model of bonding and relationships based on a psychological mechanism of strength doubling through planetary transferences and identity exchanges.
- A reductive model of psychological stress dilemma resolution as a three-state method of astrological counseling.
Accomplishments and community involvement
I have attempted to improve community awareness of mainstream astrology as well as the scientific investigation of astrology, through my writings and activities:
- Published the quarterly journal Above & Below - Journal of Astrological Studies (1985-1988). Authors published included: Michel Gauquelin, Judith Hill, J. Lee Lehman, Geoffrey Dean, Douglas Smith, Pricilla Costello, Françoise Gauquelin, Donna Van Toen, and others.
- Developed the interpretive knowledge base for Expert Astrologer software (1994).
- Raised funds for and commissioned a special study of the legal standing of astrological practice in Ontario and Canada, providing the necessary precautions for practice within defined legal rights.
- Authored and published Environmental Cosmology: Principles and Theory of Natal Astrology, Cognizance Books, (2004).
- Published peer-reviewed scholarly articles in ISAR International Astrologer, Correlation, and Journal of Consciousness Studies.
- Advocated anonymous peer review of published articles that contain astrological claims. Distributed a procedure for anonymous peer review, which itself was developed through peer reviews.
- Advocated methods of rating and ranking of data in all statistical evaluations of astrology. This one method alone will separate a large amount of the good research from the bad.
- Advocated for accurate accounts of astrology in various resources and media, based on the scholarly works of qualified experts in astrology. Experts are those who know the subject matter and provide criticism of claims against the subject.
- Engaged in numerous discourses with critics of astrology in letters, social media blogs, and extensively in Wikipedia.
- Published “Clearing the logjam in astrological research” in Journal of Consciousness Studies (2016).
The planets are instruments of personality that the individual learns to use with the satisfaction of skill.
The center of the universe is the native point of consciousness.
The individual is native to consciousness as much as that consciousness is native to the individual.
Within an environment, phenomena at cosmological boundaries are not independent but are involved in process symmetries between systems of microcosms and macrocosms that must be described as a whole.
Influence is where the boundaries of individuals intersect at the fringes of suggestion and intention.