I am an astrologer and an experimental psychologist. For the past two and a half years, I have been a professor of psychology at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. Big Rapids is a small town on the western side of the lower peninsula of Michigan famous for being the home of FSU and Matrix Software, founded by Michael Erlewine.
Michigan may be a “blue” state, but Big Rapids is decidedly “red.” FSU and Matrix are blocks apart in distance, but worlds apart intellectually and energetically. Matrix Software markets worldwide over the internet, maintaining a low profile in town, with no storefront, and not even a sign on the door to identify themselves. Most residents of Big Rapids and people from the University do not know that they exist.
I moved to Big Rapids to work for Matrix and then became a professor at FSU, an academic community strongly dominated by the Western “science” mentality that rejects all forms of metaphysics without study of the content. With that background, I conducted an innovative research project with two different classes in Sensation & Perception, a junior level psychology course for serious psychology and science majors.
First, some intriguing background on the origins of experimental psychology and psychophysics, the quantification or measurement of conscious, perceptual experience. Introductory psychology students learn that Wilhelm Wundt had the first psychology laboratory in history at the University of Leipzig, Germany in 1879. Wundt was an experimental psychologist, and his laboratory was actually an S&P lab, where his first experiment involved the measurement of reaction time to visual stimuli. There is more to the story, however. It was exactly 29 years earlier, a complete Saturn cycle, that Gustav Theodore Fechner, also a professor at the University of Leipzig, awakened on October 22, 1850, with a flash of genius and inspiration. Fechner awakened with information that established the methodology for psychophysical measurement (the method of limits, adjustment, and constant stimuli) that is still in use today. So important were his discoveries, that October 22 continues to be celebrated in Europe as “Fechner Day.”
Fechner was born on April 19, 1801 in Gross-Sarchen, Saxon at 5:00 p.m., giving him a 29-degree Aries sun. His 8:37-degree Libra ascendant conjoins the south node, and trines a 8:50-degree Gemini Venus in the 9th house. Given recent discussions in the ISAR newsletter relative to the moon’s nodes, I find their symmetry with his 1st and 7th house cusps intriguing. Whether that south node represents “karma,” “the public pulse,” the “tide of the times” or “needle of the compass,” it is a significant point and a focus of energy. In this case, I feel it highlights Fechner’s discovery and destiny.
When we do a bi-wheel using Fechner’s natal chart (inner) and transits for the morning of October 22, 1850 (outer) we see an amazing configuration. (Please note that I put the sun on the ascendant for the transit chart, assuming he awakened at sunrise, though the exact time is not critical.) Fechner’s natal sun, transiting sun, Uranus, Pluto (and possibly transiting ascendant) were all in the last decanates of Aries and Libra, the Sagittarian and Gemini decanates. Their respective ruling planets, transiting Jupiter and Mercury, formed a stellium conjunct Fechner’s natal ascendant and south node.
Transiting outer planets Uranus and Pluto were conjunct his natal sun, in direct opposition to transiting sun. The fiery, pioneering spirit of Aries under which he was born, combined with the depth of Pluto and the sudden insight and originality of Uranus within a degree. This planetary configuration was catalyzed as though sparked by opposition to the transiting Libra sun. This combination apparently triggered those long slow transits of the outer planets on his natal sun like a lightning bolt.
The Jupiter/Mercury conjunction represented expansion, universality and intellect, in an airy trine to their planetary dispositor, Venus, ruler of Fechner’s chart in his 9th house. The results were monumentally brilliant insight of epic proportion, with Fechner being a channel for this historical scientific discovery. Sagittarius is the natural ruler of the 9th, and natal Venus is in Gemini, repeating the Jupiter/ Mercury theme. The Sabian symbol for the 9th degree of Gemini is a quiver filled with arrows. You could say that Fechner got a bulls-eye!
We should never underestimate the power of the subconscious mind. Gustav Fechner’s natal chart shows an exalted Cancer moon conjoining his natal midheaven at the top of his chart in the 10th house. Fechner was a distinctly lunar individual, and the methodology of psychophysical measurement perhaps incubated, as do many great inventions, in his mind as he slept. The rest is history.
Traditional psychology literature rarely mentions that many great psychologists throughout history were interested in metaphysics and the location of human consciousness. That list includes William James, Carl Jung, Wilder Penfield and Gustav Fechner. Psychology claims a cognitive revolution, with a virtual explosion of information on the human brain and neurophysiology over the last 10-15 years due to modern neuro-imaging techniques. Yet, scientists still have not located consciousness in the human mind.
I personally believe “scientists” will never “find” it because the essence of human consciousness is the eternal soul.
Anthropologists acknowledge that, historically, all cultures demonstrate belief in a form of spirituality. However, the soul cannot be quantified, weighed, measured or grown in a petrie dish. Ergo, Western science may continue to miss the boat as they refuse to acknowledge the intangible. Correspondingly, the “Amazing Randi” will probably continue his attempts to discredit astrology and metaphysics.
People like me will continue to seek ways to research and demonstrate our knowledge of astrology and metaphysics.
I was born on June 13, 1953 at 10:02 p.m. in Bay City, MI. My interest in metaphysics may stem from a tight Saturn-Neptune conjunction in my 9th house, the home of higher education, in trine to natal Gemini sun in the 5th. That trine is intersected by Pluto in Leo in the 7th which forms a sextile with all three. I am Saturn ruled with a Capricorn ascendant and with North Node in Aquarius in the 1st house. I sense that I was born to teach, born to be an astrologer, and a bit of a pioneer. It follows that I would be interested in bridging traditional to non-traditional knowledge in a university setting. I suspect Big Rapids was the setting for this to occur because, in AstroCartography, it is on my Pluto line, representing a good location to do some research.
I did not go through the regular bureaucratic channels to do research on astrology and metaphysics in my Sensation & Perception class, because, had I gone that route, the experiment might not have received approval. Instead, I mentioned my plan to the chairman, who stressed that the methodology of scientific research was primary, and that I was free to determine the content for the class project myself. When I proposed to do a pilot project relative to “extrasensory perception” to question its validity, and see whether or not astrology and metaphysics had value or worth, the majority of the class was excited. Given the option of taking part in this experiment or doing a traditional research project, I got 100% participation by 18 students. One young lady approached me afterwards to show me her colorful Pisces tattoo.
More than one student expressed initial skepticism, citing their “scientific” or “religious” beliefs. I welcomed their skepticism and asked them to be open-minded and objective as we looked at the material.
Most of my students were college juniors and seniors, born in 1981 and 1982. This class was held in the winter semester of 2003. I collected their birth data. In 1981 and 1982, both Pluto and Saturn transited the last decanate of Libra, as did Mars. Many of these students had the natal Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Libra, with close contacts to my Saturn/Neptune conjunction in my 9th house.
I wanted to use astrology more powerful than sun sign astrology. I began with information from “The New Astrology” by Suzanne White, which cross-references the twelve signs of the Western zodiac with the twelve signs of the Eastern zodiac. This information represents 12 to the second power, or 144 possible combinations, such as “Libra Dog” or “Aries Pig.”
I paraphrased brief descriptions for each student’s astrological correspondence from White’s book and other sources and then broke them into groups of 3 without names on the descriptions. Each group was asked to discuss the 3 unidentified descriptions, and determine 1-1 correspondences to match their group members. Two of the six groups got them all right, two groups each got one correct out of three, and two groups made no correct matches. By chance, you might expect 33% accuracy, and we got 8 out of 18, or 44% accuracy, which was better than chance. Following discussion, I realized that group dynamics and social interactions represented uncontrolled variables that confounded the results.
I decided to give my students even more powerful, more individualized astrological information, via the Matrix report writer “Heaven Knows What” based on the work of Grant Lewi. The results were much more impressive. Ten students found the report very accurate in describing themselves, seven students gave the report a “mixed review” and only one student said the report was not very accurate.
My students were also introduced to aura photography. A woman (who chooses to be unidentified) came to Ferris and set up her specialized camera to snap an aura photograph of each student. As she explained swirls of color in each photograph, I recognized that she was a gifted psychic who used the pictures as a focus from which to channel. After she left, I asked my class to vote on whether or not there was “anything to this,” and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Fifteen students said yes, and two said no (one student was absent that day).
At the end of the semester, the class was pleased overall, and my two biggest skeptics softened considerably. The gal with the “religious” convictions wrote, “Through introspection and maybe with a bit of push from the cognitive dissonance I have been experiencing, I am less skeptical. I like to think of this as another way of God communicating with us. After all, He created the heavens and the Earth. So it only seems logical to me now that in His grand scheme of things that my exact birth, in place and time, would be calculated by God and describes who I am.”
One year later, I decided to conduct very similar exercises with a second group of 22 students, also college juniors and seniors taking my Sensation and Perception class. Initially, they were less receptive, and one young lady opted to do a traditional research project rather than participate.
I sought avenues to provide even better astrological information to my students, to introduce them to good, scientific astrology. I decided to commission a local husband and wife team of astrologers and metaphysicians, Michael and Jacquie Smith, from SOS Consulting of Big Rapids, to do some work for me.
Michael ran acrophonology on each student’s name from a computer program. I only received 18 usable responses due to absenteeism of one student, and two print-outs with typos that needed to be eliminated. The results were impressive. Fourteen of the students felt the descriptions were accurate, one said inaccurate (too general), and three deemed the reports mixed. Of the “believers,” one student wrote: “On the name thing, I would say it is 98% dead on. It is crazy how much it sounds like me. I would like to know more about it.”
Jacquie studied the natal charts, progressions and transits for each student, and hand wrote individual horoscopes for each person. She said that it was a difficult task, given that so many of the students were born in the same year, with very close outer planetary positions, and, in more than one instance, students were born only days apart. This was the last assignment for the class, and 20 of them participated. The results of this exercise were extremely good!
I told the class that some horoscopes were based upon actual birth data and that some were bogus. In truth, they were all based on actual birth data. I then asked the class to vote on whether they believed they got their own horoscopes or “imposters.” Eighteen of 20 said the horoscopes were real. One believed that hers was bogus, and one said that her horoscope was “half-right.” My personal opinion is that the gal who believed her horoscope was bogus is not very self-aware.
I would like to provide the birth data for the most impressive reading made by Jacquie Smith for one of my students. “Miss X” was born on March 28, 1983 at 9:45 p.m. in Battle Creek, Michigan. The transit date was April 10, 2004. Jacquie recognized that transiting Saturn was square Miss X’s natal sun in her 8th house (Jacquie uses equal house system). She also saw that Mars (chart ruler, classical astrology, Scorpio rising) had just gone into Miss X’s natal 8th house. Jacquie guessed that a relative, possibly the father, had just died. Miss X confirmed that, indeed, her father had recently passed away. Miss X did not seem to be upset or grieving. Jacquie and I both noticed that her natal Saturn was retrograde in the 12th, conjunct natal Pluto, and surmised that she had probably been estranged from her father when he died.
Despite the methodological flaws, typos, group dynamics, student absenteeism, and other confounding variables in this class project, I can glean some important conclusions that may be of interest to the astrological research community.
First, the general public, including “scientists” and “religious devotees” when able to keep an open mind, can benefit from, become more receptive to, enjoy and recognize value in astrology, metaphysics and psychic arts when exposed to good material.
Thanks to technology and computers, today’s report writers are of high quality, producing results far superior to ‘sun sign astrology’ columns in newspapers. Albeit high quality, the automated report writers cannot match the quality of the professional astrologer.
My students learned through demonstration that the most accurate horoscopes were made by a practicing, full-time professional astrologer. Chart analysis requires synthesis of so many variables that, realistically, the computer can’t equal the quality of the professional astrologer. Computers can only be programmed to apply branching logic. They do not have and cannot apply the wisdom, intuition, experience and heuristics utilized by a professional astrologer. My second and most important conclusion is that, like medicine, astrology is truly a science and an art. The best we have to give is the best we have to give.
Thank you to my department chair, my students, my aura photographer, Michael and Jacquie Smith, and the editors of ISAR. I appreciate the opportunity to conduct this project and to share these findings with the astrological community.