Imagination and Reality

Nick Kollerstrom

As Voyager II flew past the rings of Saturn, it viewed their strangely regular patterning, seemingly defying the laws of physics. Astronomers had hypothesized that ‘shepherd moons’ must exist nearby, which could somehow aid the rings to sustain their entropy-defying symmetry: especially programmed to detect these, Voyager II could not find any more. Outrageously, the ‘spoke’ patterns continued to appear as an out-radiating pattern through the various ring-layers, as if superimposed upon them. “We are now at the point where we had hoped not to be and are looking desperately at other solutions,” said the head of the Voyager II imaging team. (1) Others would say that they had then arrived at a most desirable position, from which the very being of Saturn/Chronos could be appreciated.

Each of the planets has such a mystery, an astronomical mystery. For me, astronomy and astrology are two sides of a coin, the abyss between them a mere deficiency of perception. That mystery is something which the astronomer hopes to ‘solve’ one day. But, say it is not soluble. Say the absolutely regular patterning of Saturn’s rings remains as baffling to astronomers as the Red Spot of Jupiter. Then what? Circles only exist in one place in the solar system, and that is around Saturn. Take another astronomical fact, that the angle between the magnetic and rotational axes for Saturn is negligibly small, a mere 1 degree.

Astronomers theorize about this. However, the astrologer can (I suggest) perceive what is really involved, namely the signature of the planetary being as Paracelsus used the term. By using the imagination, one perceives what really exists. We see the being of Saturn in the astounding symmetry of those rings and in the firm right angle between the axis of revolution and the ring system.

The poor astronomer by contrast merely analyses the ammonia and methane in the atmosphere, and bleats about more research being needed. The wonderful significance of his discoveries of the continuous lightning flashes all around Jupiter or the iron-pink skies of Mars bypasses him completely. His machines have discovered and analysed these phenomena, but his training tells him he is not to use his imagination and so he cannot see the meaning.

In ‘Space Probes and Planetary Images,’ (2) I discussed this problem and would here like to develop the theme. In 1960 a radio telescope managed to penetrate the dense mists of Venus and for the first time ever we gained information about the rotation of Venus. It turned out to be rotating backwards, in the reverse direction to what it should be if the planets had condensed from a large vortex around the Sun, and its period turned out to be exactly linked in with the Sun and Earth, so the same part of Venus faced Earth at each inferior conjunction.

“Resonance”, the astronomers said. Resonance means an energy transfer between two systems oscillating at the same frequency. For example, if a tuning fork is twanged it will sound louder if placed on the piano. No one could explain how any such energy transfer (such as supposedly causing the Moon to face Earth) could here be operating. It was further known that a fairly exact ratio existed between 5 inferior conjunctions of Venus every 8 years. What I am saying is that the astronomer is never going to be able to apprehend the significance of these number-ratios within the terms of his science.

We may as well recall that science as it came to birth in the seventeenth century involved, to quote the science historian Koyre.

“the disappearance—or the violent expulsion—from scientific thought of all considerations based on value, perfection, harmony, meaning and aim, because these concepts, from now on being merely subjective, cannot have a place in the new ontology.” (3)

Francis Bacon explained how the imagination had to be tied down and suppressed in favour of abstract reasonings involving number and weight. Bacon did actually favour a sobered-down or ‘rationalized’ astrology (4), however on that stony ground the poor thing could hardly be expected to flourish.

Never in the annals of time seen by any astronomer, the meaning of these number patterns in the Dance of Venus was first revealed in the 1980s. “Venus, the Heart and the Rose” looked at the marvelous significance of the patterns woven by Venus against the stars, as they emerged from the astro-researcher’s computer screen. (5) Let’s say it loud and clear: “No astronomer ever noticed it.” (A description of the pattern was given by Mike O’Neil at last year’s Astro Research Conference.) The reader might suppose that this would be a matter of keen interest to astronomers—but, wait a minute: this concerns pattern, harmony, meaning. Is that astronomy?

Here’s a fine 19th century account of Venus’ motion:

“Venus is not to be seen at all times, and to those who are not acquainted with her movement she seems to come and go as she pleases. For months altogether the Star of Evening is hidden from mortal eyes. But every movement of the seemingly capricious planet is known to those who study the almanacks. Each step of the Queen of Beauty is given with prosaic detail as she moves along her path, but to those who do not pay much attention to astronomy there is undoubtedly a charm in the way she suddenly makes her appearance as the leading lady in the celestial drama.

“It is a beautiful clear evening, the Sun has just set, and in the golden glory of the western sky a beauteous gem is seen to glitter. A few weeks later the Queen of Beauty has risen higher above the horizon and rides, an even more brilliant object in the sky, long after the shades of night have descended. She only occasionally attains her full splendour, but at such times she outshines even Sirius even twenty times. Then again she draws near the Sun and remains lost to view for many months, until she enters upon a new cycle of changes after an interval of a year and seven months.” (6)

That interval of a ‘year and seven months’ is the period over which Venus traces out one of the five ‘hearts’ in its mandala, which form a complete ‘rose’ every eight years. (A dancer performing this sidereal dance would revolve just 12 times in that 8-year period so that she came to face Earth at each nearest approach.) The Venus mandala image would make a fine flower-garden, with a brass pagoda, or Venus-image in bronze, at its centre.

Digressing, there is one artist whose paintings always remind me of Venus and its metal copper, and that is Maxfield Parrish. Glorious copper hues irradiate his images and the hair of his Venus-figures. At noon on his birthday (July 7, 1870) Venus was conjunct the Moon and Mars (both within 1 degree) and in opposition to Saturn.

What I call Mercury’s rock-and-roll sunrise, whereby the Sun rises over Mercury, stops, sinks down again below the horizon, and then again rises and moves against the sky—this shows or at least points to its mutable, quicksilver nature. Day and night blend and blur curiously together. Mercury has no business having a day at all. It should be wholly phase-locked into facing the Sun all the time, if there is truth in the theories of astronomers as to how the Solar System came into being. However, it turns out to have a day of a period which interacts curiously with its year. The ‘terminator’, the line separating day and night, reverses direction owing to the fierce accelerations to which Mercury is subject.

The mystery of Mars: perhaps not so deep as those of the other planets, but it’s still there. Mars is without any magnetic field, yet totally covered with iron. How could it have managed that? The Moon is said to lack any magnetic field because it has no nickel-iron core, being rather light and small. The next planet out, Jupiter, has so vast a magnetic field that it would appear the size of the Moon in the sky if it were visible. Its huge magnetic storms reverberate across the solar system, and that’s without even having an iron core. So how come Mars missed out on the action?

Galileo wrote of the Sun that:

“.... it is rather like the heart of an animal, in which there is a continual regeneration of the vital spirits, which sustain and give life to all its members.” (7)

Satellite data supports Galileo’s opinion. The cycles of the Sun’s pulsating activity, as its plasma circulates around the solar system, these are cardiac in their nature. No astronomical textbook will be found to discuss the fourfold structure within the Sun, hardly something they are keen to cope with. Or, what about the grandiose reversal of the solar magnetic field every 11 years, in its 22-year cycle? Solar physicists talk about their magnetohydrodynamic model, which is their way of saying they haven’t a clue as to how the solar magnetic field can keep flipping over in this periodic manner. These facts are the stuff of obscure specialist journals, until we perceive them with the eye of imagination, as revealing wondrously the functioning of the heart-centre of our solar system.

Incidentally, astrologers should distinguish between what astronomers really know about the Sun and what they merely surmise. We know that its corona is hot, say half a million degrees centigrade, and that the photosphere beneath is relatively cool, say 5,000 degrees C. That is a temperature gradient. That gradient may possibly reverse so that it becomes much hotter again inside the Sun, but that is speculation. The astronomers surmise (I’m told) that Sol is a non-reactive nuclear reactor, temporarily on the blink because certain peculiar particles (neutrinos) which it ought to be emitting are not in fact being emitted.

This isn’t the place to follow the bizarre theories of modern astronomy. What is more important for astrologers is that when Tom Shanks re-analyzed the Gauquelin data on his San Diego computer, he found the trait ‘lyrical’ for eminent persons born at sunrise. (8) Sons of the dawn tend to be ‘lyrical!’ William Blake would have understood perfectly: Apollo with his lyre.

When I look up at the Full Moon I exclaim, “Ah, those titanium-dark lava seas.” The ‘man in the moon’ is made up of huge frozen lava seas, billiard-table smooth and charcoal-dark, packed with high-melting point heavy metals like iron, uranus and titanium. Titanium was very fashionable a few years ago for iridescent earrings and jewelry, but its main use is in alloys for supersonic aircraft requiring a high melting point. So, how could a little Moon have acquired enough heat to fuse those lava seas? Worse, why didn’t those heavy metals gravitate inwards to form a core if they were molten, why stay on the outside, right on the surface? They found up to 10% titanium in Luna’s lava seas, while on Earth one hardly finds above 0.5% concentration of titanium in the soil. Then, what about the marvelous coloured beads they found, glassy and of different hues, scattered about the surface?

We are really much further from having a credible theory of the Moon’s origin and formation than we were before the Apollo missions. Directly opposite theories seem equally credible, or inadequate. Its surface is a surreal dreamscape on which rational explanations can find no foothold. It continues to flow in a charming manner, red or purple, or sometimes brilliant white for a moment, and teams of amateur astronomers patiently log the glows as they shimmer across its surface. (9) One is reminded of William Blake’s land of Beaulah, “A soft, Moony realm where Contraries are equally True.”

The Moon’s long silvery ray patterns stream out from craters, but sometimes just touch the crater edges tangentially, thereby ensuring that their presence remains a complete mystery. The craters continue to look unlike anything which should have resulted from either impact or volcanic theories. No doubt the Red Queen would have explained it to Alice in a few words.

There is after all only one sky above us. Planetary energies express themselves in and through their physical being, not just in some spiritual limbo to which astrologers have access. Let us hope that astrologers and astronomers can learn to communicate on this matter.


1. New Scientist, 27th August 1981

2. ‘Space Probes and Planetary Images’, N.K., A. A. Journal 198-

3. Alexandre Koyre, Newtonian Studies, 1965, p.7

4. Patrick Curry, Prophecy and Power, 1989, p.61

5. Venus, the rose and the heart, a computer study, N.K., A. A. Journal, January 1989. I have yet to see an earlier computer version than Mike O’Neill’s. U.S. Astrologer Dane Rudhyar did sketch it by hand and may be its originator, yet the whole appeal of the pattern lies in its computer precision.

6. Mary Proctor, The Book of the Heavens, 1924, p.98

7. Letter to Monsignor Pietro Dini of March 1615, quoted in Astrology in the Renaissance, Eugenio Garin, 1982, p.11 The rather neo-Platonic quote continues: “....just as the Sun, while nourished from without, sustains the source from which this light and prolific heat continually emanate, which gives life to all the bodies which surround it.” Galileo believed the Sun was the centre of the universe.

8. Tom Shanks has not yet published this, but reported it at an astro-research conference in London, as being the one trait adjective he had found significant for the Sun, in his analysis of the Gauquelin data.

9. The project is conducted by the Lunar Section of the British Astronomical Association.


The preceding article is reprinted from the January/February 1991 issue of the quarterly journal of the Astrological Association of Great Britain. We appreciate the A.A.’s permission to offer the material to our readers.

Nick Kollerstrom is a frequent contributor to the A.A. journal. For information on membership in the A.A. including a subscription to the journal, write to Angela Cornish, 396 Caledonian Road, London N1 1DN, England. Tel: 071-700 0639 Fax: 071-700 6479

back to top