The Astrological Journal July 2019
Victor Olliver's Editorial
Radical Astrology and root canals
Because my trade is in words, I periodically focus on certain terms and phrases and wonder about their usage. The tribute to Dr. Ben Dykes in this issue - he is one of the world's leading translators of old astrological texts and has done much to recover long-forgotten techniques - got me thinking about 'traditional astrology' as a label. Traditional? The word can mean long-established, orthodox, conservative - even, "the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way". The adjective is not wrong, then - but I wondered whether 'Radical Astrology' might be more pertinent. In ordinary parlance, we tend to use 'radical' to mean something extreme or challengingly new; yet in Middle English, the word has to do with roots, with origins. 'Radical' derives ultimately from the Latin word 'radix' which means root (in astrology, many of us use this word for 'natal'). Is not 'modern astrology' rooted in the old methods and approaches that fall within the purview of what we call traditional astrology, from William Lilly and others right back to Greco-Roman sources, if not earlier? I must confess that I dislike the adjective 'traditional' because it sounds fusty and dusty and rather inflexible - but perhaps I am the one at fault. Even so, Radical Astrology sounds sexily interesting and demanding, plainly of the root (if not tradition).
'Radical' is certainly a word used to describe the Extinction Rebellion (XR) ecological movement whose peaceful demos in April brought parts of London to a standstill. We could say that XR's mission is to reset our values to the needs of our 'root', Mother Nature herself. But 'radical' in this context more probably means revolutionary and uncompromising. Language can be a pliable thing. Mandi Lockley attended the XR demos, took street photos (reproduced in her feature) and has now analysed the XR charts. Is XR just another short-lived spike in activism by a bunch of fashionistas filling time in a gap year (remember the Occupy movement? RIP) or a long-distance player committed to turning the world green? Her analysis is not entirely pessimistic.
The tapping or disguising of primal (or root) energies is one of many themes in Andrea Head's epic and compelling essay 'Pluto and the creative arts' - a survey of the planet's correlations in the charts of writers, artists and others. I was especially interested in her comments about masks and how in many cultures the use of ritual disguise protects the wearer from Pluto's malign energies. She writes: "Artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani (all with strong Scorpio/Pluto contacts in their charts) were inspired by the African mask".
Incidentally, when I saw the photo of the masked XR demonstrators, I had to have it for the cover. It 'killed' two birds with one stone - Pluto and XR. Is the black hole the ultimate root of all existence? From which galaxies are born in monstrous expulsions of matter? No one knows, yet. But do turn to Rod Chang's piece on the astrology of black holes. Regions of chaos they may be, but Rod has found an astrological use for them. Charts at the ready.
This is the editorial from the July 2019 edition of the Astrological Journal, the UK's premier astrological magazine.