Sunday, May 17, 2009

The vernal equinox: Science and mysticism

A recent newspaper carried an article, "The vernal equinox: Science and mysticism," which contrasted the different views of what the vernal equinox means to an astronomer and an astrologer. The article, posted on the newspaper's web site, drew criticism from some members of the public for taking astrology seriously and giving it credibility. I would like to attempt to clarify and amplify the astrological view.

The vernal equinox is one of two places in the sky near which the planets spend an equal amount of time above the horizon as below during the course of a day. Astronomically, the equinoxes represent points of equilibrium. Astrologically, the equinoxes represent an axis of equality. This axis of equality is to be contrasted with the axis of extremes or hierarchy, which is represented by the summer and winter solstices. These two axes are natural symmetries that define the framework of tropical signs used in Western astrology.

When the planets in their cycles cross this axis of equality, the planetary urges, acting from within individuals and collectively in society, are thought to express values of equality, as distinct from the values of hierarchy, which are represented by the solstices. There are two ways in which values of equality can be expressed. We can value cooperation and we can value competition among equals. The vernal equinox is thought to be the point where competition is most highly valued, whereas the autumnal equinox is thought to be the point where cooperation is most highly valued.

Planets near the vernal equinox tend to reflect the values of competition in our corresponding interests and desires, which are to break down old hierarchical values to create a new order, whether on the personal, social, or collective level, depending on the planet involved. Initiatives for the new order may potentially be expressed through fitness programs, performances, competitions, innovations, explorations, or any pioneering effort. As a planet passes over the vernal equinox, a new hierarchy of values begins through competition. This emerging hierarchy will later peak for that planetary urge when it arrives at the summer solstice.