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Tip o' The Week # 84 - A Palden Jenkins Guest Tip:

Oh Fukus & Astrobabble Continued

Dear [firstname]

I have received a lot of feedback from my last "Tip."   I especially enjoyed one from an old friend, Astrologer Palden Jenkins.  I met him on my first day in Glastonbury at the first Samhain Earth Mysteries Gathering in the Assembly Rooms in 1983.  Palden is an astrologer who not only can make a good birth chart, but who also actually knows a lot about the stars in the heavens as well.  Since then, we have had a number of adventures together including organizing OakDragon Gatherings and 100 Monkey events, not to mention an exciting series of Mens' Group meetings here in the Land of Avalon. 

Several years ago Palden left Glastonbury and moved to West Penwith, Cornwall, UK.  He also regularly visits Bethlehem, Palestine. He is currently involved with:
  • humanitarian work in the Middle East and community development in Britain;

  • communication: writing, speaking, broadcasting, photography and websites;

  • insight: counsellor, adviser, historian and geopolitical expert.

I do miss being able to just drop on and talk about anything that I might be in to at the time.  Here is his take on my 'Tip o' The Week # 83' - "Oh Fukus & Astrobabble":


Palden Jenkins

Palden Jenkins

In your original piece, you talk about the sidereal and tropical zodiacs, implying that the sidereal zodiac came first and somehow the tropical zodiac was invented later on. I'd suggest that the reverse is demonstrated in the stone circles since, if we look at astronomical alignments, it's not the rising or setting points of stars that predominate, but the seasonal/cyclic rising points of the sun (the ecliptic) and the moon - and these are based on the solstices and equinoxes, or Earth's solar orientation, and the intersection of the moon's orbital plane with the ecliptic (the lunar nodes and the eclipse cycle). 

That is, what mattered to ancients was what happened here on Earth, in terms of detectable subtle-energy time-variations. Remember, of all planets in our solar system, the most important to us is Earth (the horizon, meridian and houses in an astrological chart). Or, from an earth-energy viewpoint, it is the modulating resonances of earth energy which matter, these being influenced by the resonances of the other planets - since we live in an interdependent energy-system, the solar system. But it is the Earth's resonances that matter primarily, even though they are influenced by cyclic solar system resonances.

Though the stars certainly play a mythic role in ancient cosmology, when we get to cyclic measurement - which is what astrology and archaeoastronomy are all about - the stars and constellations present a big problem. Stars represent major energy-nodes in a constellation, but the constellations have no boundaries or over-arching spatial, numerological or geometric logic to them. The constellations are stick-men with space around them, not boxes with walls or cusps. But if we take the solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarters we get a neat eightfold division based on identifiable, measurable time-periods and solar orientations, which is clearly demonstrated in the alignments of many ancient sites of northern climes. (In more southern climes such as Egypt, where alternation of light and dark was less emphasised, and where such issues as the fluctuations of the Nile were crucial, they based their calendar on the heliacal rising of stars such as Sirius, but not on all stars or constellations - and they mapped and subdivided their calendar from that point in time. *)  If we subdivide the quadrants of the solstices and equinoxes by three, we get a really neat number, 12, which divides by 2, 3, 4 and 6, which is very satisfying numerologically and cosmologically, and it's a really good way of mapping time, just as one might map the magnitude of an earth-energy line by identifying harmonics.

(* A note: it also goes to show that 'shamanism' and other ancient mysteries were not 'isms' or rationally-comparative systems at all, because they were based on the localised experience of the wise ones of any area, which was very variable. In Britain the Great Ocean was to the west and in China it was to the east, for example. Or in NW Europe, solstices and equinoxes were important, whereas in Mexico, Israel and Egypt respectively such things as the cycles of Venus, the Shekinah and the helical rising of Sirius were important, differently in each place.)

So I would suggest that, while the stars have played a role in furnishing ancient peoples' cosmologies, or perhaps even in tracing such peoples' perceived extraterrestrial origins, it is the tropical, earthbound calendrical periods that mattered (at least in the Old World, or NorthWest Europe) to astrologers and time-keepers, even from very ancient times. This is not an abstract construct as such, since it is rooted in earthly seasonal experience - it's agricultural and 'political'. If anything, it is the constellations which are constructs, since they are Rorschach images which reflect different cultures' perceptions of how the stars are organised.  But they are not useful in measurement - and this is the crucial bit. I think the confusion came up in Ptolemy's time, when tropical zodiac signs and ecliptic constellations somehow acquired the same Latin names. Perhaps it's one of history's bigger errors!

Precession has been known about for at least 10-15 millennia, if the work of Bauval, Hancock and others is to be believed (generally, I think they're more or less right). I don't think there has been any misunderstanding over precession until recent times, when modern astronomers, who believe ancients could not have understood precession (or known of Uranus and Neptune), latched onto the idea that these silly ignoramuses just got confused over sidereal and tropical zodiacs, primitive as they were.  Even the Hindu sidereal zodiac is not actually based on stars - it is a twelvefold subdivision of the heavens using one stellar datum-point as its anchorage, and it doesn't really use real constellations at all. The ecliptic constellations are by no means uniform in extent. Even when using the four 'royal stars' as stellar anchor-points, one of them is not located in an ecliptic constellation.

Anyway, fuckit, we do what we do, and it seems to work quite well.

Hope you're well. Love from the end of the world.  Keep up the good work with your Tips - they're almost always interesting!



Happy Imbolc!
May any seeds or projects
That you planted last Autumn,
and have been lying dormant through the Winter,
Now begin to move on their own.

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Sig Lonegren
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Somerset BA6 8JE?
+44 (0)1458 835 818