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The Asteroid Known as “Poppycock”

August 7th, 2008 · 2 Comments · Astrology

A month ago I attended a lecture on the asteroids given by a relatively well-known American astrologer who should perhaps remain nameless, since this sort of “specialty” scarcely deserves any more publicity.

The asteroids are thought to be the remnants of the proto-planetary disk, a Saturn-like ring of space-junk beyond the orbit of Mars which, during the formative period of the solar system, was prevented by Jupiter’s large gravitational force from being able to coalesce into one or more separate planetary bodies. Despite this, the asteroids have nonetheless been dignified by assigning them names.

At last count, according to the International Astronomical Union, there were 14,525 named asteroids. Many early discoveries were named after gods and goddesses, and in tropical astrology, the insertion of Pallas, Athena, Vesta, Juno and Chiron into horoscopes was popularized by some astrologers with specialized ephemerides from the 1980s onward. Nowadays, having exhausted the pantheon of the gods and goddesses of all civilizations, asteroids are named after their discoverers, their favorite movie stars, or less prosaically, Beer, Pecker and Zero.

The speaker illustrated asteroids’ utility by looking at a few select charts to show how asteroids named after their significant marital partners turned up in proximity to a planet or angular point in their charts. And who wouldn’t be amused to know that the transiting T-square involving Mars, Venus and Saturn were aligned respectively with the asteroids Johann, Lorena and Pecker when Lorena Bobbitt cut off husband John’s penis while he slept?

But is astrology’s only purpose to entertain us with such hindsight? Could any asteroid-smitten astrologer have predicted John’s fate that night, knowing the disposition of the transits and the aptly-named asteroids? Could anyone have warned John Bobbitt that he should sleep only on his stomach? Not a chance. And here’s why.

With 14,525 asteroids spread over 12 signs, that’s1210 asteroids per sign, or 40 asteroids for every degree of arc. The speaker suggested an effective orb of three degrees between an asteroid and the planets or angles of a chart. That would embrace 120 asteroids on one side of your ascendant, and another 120 asteroids on the other side. In other words, for every single point in your chart, you’d be looking at 240 asteroids. And that’s just considering the conjunction!

With so much noise, a radio engineer would ask you, how can you hear the signal? From an astrologer’s point of view, we’d be faced with such a multitude of asteroids to choose from, how would we ever know which was meaningful? And even if we could choose a significant asteroid by whatever standard (none offered by the speaker) how could we possibly begin to interpret it, unless it was a well-known deity, historical figure, or geographical location we could look up in Wikipedia?

Let’s see. My descendant is conjunct the asteroid Dudleymoore (yes, that’s in the catalog), and in university I thought his co-star Bo Derek was so incredibly hot in the movie Ten that I had a big poster of her over my bed. Wow, asteroids rock!

Is it just me? Am I the only one who can do simple math? Am I the only one who applies critical thinking to such ill-conceived propositions? Am I the only one to say, this is just barely amusing in hindsight, but where’s the application in counseling and forecasting?

Just because it’s up there in the sky doesn’t mean we have to credit it with any meaning. But don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and spend the rest of your astrological life devoted to the asteroids. I won’t lose any sleep worrying about the clients who’re going to flock from me to you.

The great astrologers of antiquity didn’t need space junk cluttering up their charts. Neither do we.

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