People's Astrology: Astrology Without Tables
(Note: Kee Dewdney is a killer filmmaker who used to live in Ann Arbor. Last time he came through he took me outside and showed me what he describes in this article by him - everyone should do it and try to sense this planet as the cosmic community it could and should be. And anyone else who is interested in writing astrology columns for the people should feel welcome - Genie P. )
You don't need a lot of tables of planetary motions to be an astrologer - at least not if you're casting horoscopes around present day events. Wondering what sign Jupiter is in? (Maybe you have a pressing money-matter at hand). All you have to do is walk outside! Well, that's not all you have to do right now, but that's all you'll have to do once you have:
(1) learned how to identify the various planets
(2) learned how to recognize the signs of the Zodiac
The Ann Arbor library has lots of easy to read books on popular astronomy. The best of these contain both descriptions of the planets and diagrams of the constellations visible in the northern hemisphere for this time of year. Take the book out at night, and using a soft light, (a candle is best if the wind is not blowing) try to locate as many constellations as you can. You can have a very good stone if you concentrate on the constellations of the Zodiac-but here there is certain knowledge which will put it all together beautifully in your mind.
(1) All the planets, the sun, earth, and moon lie in the same place (the ecliptic). This means that, as seen from the earth, there is a straight line (in the sense that the horizon is a straight line) along which the sun, moon, and all planets must be found. Half of this line lies above the horizon and the other half below.
(2) The constellations which lie on this line are called the constellations of the Zodiac and there are exactly twelve of them. So the constellation Scorpio, say, lies on this line but the constellation Casseiopeia does not.
(3) As the various planets go around the sun, they move in an "orderly" progression from sign to sign as seen from the earth. Since it is now August, the sun is in Leo and you will not see this sign at night since it only comes above the horizon when the sun does. In February, Leo will be visible at the top of the ecliptic around midnight. Aquarius (opposite to Leo) presently occupies this position on the ecliptic at midnight. (CHECK IT OUT).
(4) To locate the ecliptic, all you have to do is find Polaris, the "pole star". If you were standing on the north pole, Polaris would be directly overhead and the constellations of the Zodiac would almost all be visible above the horizon (an ideal place to cast horoscopes-the north pole). Since you're not on the north pole, look for the big dipper and locate the side opposite the handle. If the big dipper were full of water, a few drops might trickle down this side-draw an imaginary line in a direction opposite to these drops right across the sky and stop at the first reasonably bright star - this is Polaris. Now point at Polaris with your left arm and drop it about a foot at your hand. Then holding your left arm steadily in this direction make a right angle to your left arm with your right arm and rotate your right arm constantly preserving the right angle. As you do this, you will trace out the ecliptic. Your right arm will intersect the horizon, pass below it and continue around to the other horizon and pass above it. Almost any bright steady object you find along this line will be a planet. About one o'clock in the morning you will find Jupiter in the western part of the visible ecliptic and Mars in the eastern part.
(5) Mercury, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto are all either difficult or impossible to f ind. For these you will need tables in any case. Venus is always close to the sun since it is a very "inner" planet and this is why it always sets just after the sun sets or rises just before the sun rises. Whenever there is a total eclipse of the sun you will see the sun, (a bit), the moon covering it, and Venus, all on the ecliptic of course, with Venus either east or west of the Sun, depending on whether it is currently an evening or morning "star". (SEE?)
To keep all this (and much, much more) together in your head, you should try to feel the massive planet Earth below your feet. Try to sense its rotation and how this makes the sky appear to move as the day (or night) progresses. Now see if you can feel the earth moving in an incredibly vast circle around the sun (95,000,000 miles away), slowly enough to require an entire year for one revolution. Now feel the presence of all the other planets and the moon, as they too circle the sun. This is the living, breathing, ever-changing horoscope of your stellar environment. The less you need books (once you have REALLY USED them) the more real it will all be.
How beautiful to be able to step outside at night and say "Oh wow! The moon is in Capricorn, Venus is in Saggitarius, and. . . hm. . . let's see. . . Mars is in Aquarius and. . . oh yeah, Jupiter's in Pisces and Taurus is rising." This would be the major part of the horoscope of any baby born in Ann Arbor that night. Far out.