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On Timing, and Mapping the River

One of the drawbacks, I think, of modern astrology is how it stripped the complex, and interweaving timing techniques from astrology, leaving us with a scant handful of techniques with little sense of what to do with them, and no idea how they could fit together. Prediction in modern astrology is anything but systematic, you generally have a scattered assortment of transits or transit-like techniques (i.e. solar-arc directions or secondary progressions), and no real way to integrate them. Possibly you have solar returns, but a stripped down version, no where near the level of sophistication and precision of the annual techniques in the late medieval Islamicate period. And beyond tracking the cycles of some of the slower moving planets, there is very little treatment of longer periods of time, like you see in the vimshottari dashas of Jyotish. Modern astrology, following the lead of Allan Leo, has largely shied away from timing, seeing it as unenlightened, too fatalistic.

Arguably though, astrology is the study of time— the idea that time has some sort of qualitative property, and that we can observe and make judgments about it. And without symbolic timing techniques, we lose half the story, the richness of the chart as lived out moment to moment in the individual’s life. For me, timing techniques are what makes the chart come alive, what translates abstract concepts into concrete events and experiences. When you go from the static snapshot of the natal chart into the overlapping and multilayered systems of timing, you are giving the life room to breath, and understanding that the only way to truly understand someone is to take their life in context, as a moving and constantly changing thing. And when you see the life in context, things appear less doomed. As a whole, the river of fate may look terrifying in the overwhelming power of its flow, but through a robust analysis of timing we are able to deftly navigate through its rapids.

Slowly, I think astrologers are starting to reevaluate timing, as the techniques of the hellenistic era like profections and zodiacal releasing have become, if not widely practiced, at least known about. And through the work of brilliant scholars like Dr Olomi, astrologers are starting appreciate the innovations of the Islamicate astrologers, and the robust, systematic framework of timing that was developed during that period. My hope is that this continues, and that contemporary astrologers move towards an approach that is able to follow the stream of time through its many tributaries, over its waterfalls, and swim through its lush, hidden pools.

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