Horses on the Hillside

I’ve been reading about an Italian monk from the 13th century, Ristoro d’Arezzo. He was known by Leonardo da Vinci and was most likely a friend of Dante, so he was in good company. Evidently, he studied the astrological charts of all his horses. Their temperaments and their health problems were all considered. Some horses had a more powerful Mars than others, and that made them real runners, and some had a strong Mercury I guess, so they would, I don’t know, learn Italian much quicker or something.

I sort of chuckle, but there are probably people doing this very thing in several parts of the world today. In order to manage the finest horses in the world, they would use every skill that’s available to them. One of those skills is astrology, and why not?
Skeptics of astrology object, and we all have to listen to their bellyaches on occasion. I smile and nod, and leave them feeling that I at least listened. I’ve tried to explain things to them, but often it is like debating with someone whose mind was made up long ago, and what astrology really is at heart is not accessible to them somehow.

So here is the best illustration I’ve been able to fashion to show the true nature of astrology: the story of the horses on the hillside. We won’t use their birth charts, but horses make for a good setting to create this short illustration. I formulated this while kayaking. I like to spend time ambling around on flat water. Ambling is faster than a walk, but slower than a canter.

Let’s say you are kayaking on a calm lake on a crisp October day, not unlike today. Above the shoreline, you can see a horse pasture with a few quarter horses grazing on the slope. The Sun is shining, and there is a small cloud. The cloud creates a small shadow, as it would. Maybe the shadow is only as big as a house. And you notice that when the shadow slowly moves over the horses, they move twenty or thirty feet, to continue grazing with the warm Sun on their backs. Then the shadow slowly moves and in ten minutes it catches up to them. Again, they move to stay in the sunshine.

This is how astrology works. The shadow of the cloud is planetary symbolism, and the cloud is the planet. So the shadow is astrology. Now, a scientist can measure that shadow, but it won’t be easy. The borders of the shadow are visible, but the shadow has no weight and it can’t be touched or sampled. All we can mainly do is observe its effects. The shadow only partly resembles the actual appearance of the cloud, yet its dimensions and movements are totally created by the cloud. The shadow will effect all the grass and trees as it passes, the horses are certainly changed by the shadow and the air itself will change due to the shadow. The change in temperature and humidity will also be slightly adjusted due to that shadow.

The cloud (the planet) causes the shadow. Mars symbolism is caused by the planet Mars. The themes it produces do not look like the planet Mars, just as the cloud’s shadow does not look exactly like the cloud. This does show in minor ways, however; red is certainly associated with anger and high energy just as the planet itself is red. But the Mars style aggression, drive, and power that moves through our lives is determined by the movements of the planet.

Mars does not send its energy all the way to Earth, just as the cloud does not send its energy into the shadow. It is the very fact of the cloud that creates the effect on the hillside, and it is the very fact of Mars that such cycles are created on Earth.
The horses did not move because of the cloud. They moved because of the shadow. We can study the effects of any planetary body, say Jupiter, here on Earth through astrology because we are studying the effects of its movements, not the effects of the ball of gases that make up Jupiter itself.

I sort of like this metaphor because I love horses so much, even that horse of my youth that used to try to bite me every time I put on his saddle.
The metaphor also shows the subjective nature of astrology. It is about the natal birth moment and it only applies to the person being born at that time and place. The shadow didn’t effect me while I was out in the kayak, because I wasn’t in the moment and the place of the shadow. Your planet symbolism does not always apply to my life, because I am from a different time and place.

It gets more complicated when we ask, well, what is the Sun in the metaphor? Because there would be no shadow without the cloud, yes, but there would be no shadow without the Sun shining angles to the cloud, and the Sun’s location determines where the shadow falls. The Sun is what gives the shadow its nature. It is the obscuring of the Sun by the cloud that creates the change in temperature in the first place.
I’ll leave that to you to think about. It took me about eight days of kayaking to come up with the first half of this theory, maybe next summer I’ll revisit Weatherhead Hollow and I’ll figure out the second half. By then we’ll have a better model to share with the skeptics.

After further reading I found that Ristoro d’Arezzo is best remembered for his description of a solar eclipse on June 3rd, 1239, perhaps the most detailed record of an eclipse before the 18th century. But I am most fond of Ristoro for another reason: he disagreed with scholars of the day who thought that the stars actually twinkled in their natures. He theorized that the twinkling was actually something that happened in our own eyes. Now we say these twinkles are caused by movements in the atmosphere, that’s the theory today. But a twinkle in our own eyes, now that’s my kind of scientist.

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