Friday, July 24, 2009

Carl B. Smith September 07, 1952 - June 24, 2009

Carl was my brother, my mentor, and my friend. He was an outstanding astrological theorist, an extraordinary mathematical intellect, and a tenaciously practical metaphysician.

His memorial in the US was conducted on the July 22, 2009 eclipse, which occurred less than 20 arc-minutes from his natal MC.

In early childhood, when I saw something in the evening sky, it was Carl I went to in order to identify it.

His love for astronomy and his fascination with electronics are my earliest impressions of him.

His experiments in hypnotism represent my first meaningful contact with Carl. He remained mindful of the power of suggestion in all of his dealings, and he took extraordinary care when he was reading for others.

Carl had a matter-of-fact way of dealing with the extraordinary and the mysterious that would eventually become his personal trademark.

A deeper relationship with Carl developed for me many years later when, struggling with my own feelings about our father’s death some 7 years after the fact, it was a long and involved conversation with Carl, a conversation that took place over the course of a week or more, that began the process of healing for me.

Carl suggested that it was not only possible, it was in fact necessary, to be thoroughly practical in all matters of metaphysics if one ever hoped to grasp its principles.

Over subsequent years, that long and involved conversation stood me in good stead as I developed my own matter-of-fact approach to asking life’s largest questions and learning its deepest mysteries.

I don't think Carl ever saw himself as my mentor, he just happened to have useful answers to a few of my biggest questions at a couple of important junctures in my life.

Our next coming together was on the topic of Astrology some 10 years after that first conversation.

At that point he shared with me the the 50 or so keywords into which he could distill his 25 years of astrological research, and insisted that I find my own words for each energy signature.

In the exchange that ensued, Carl and I became collaborators and friends.

My own 20 year study of the human condition filled out Carl's keywords in a flash, and an astrological synthesis was born. Carl had developed a mathematical synthesis of the astrology chart, which we have since determined to represent a very accurate picture of how a person sees him or her self, and his or her place in the world.

Carl was nobody’s saint. By his own description, he was self-centered and anti-social, and somewhat insane. He didn’t particularly like himself, and saw no reason why anybody else should like him either. He was not unhappy, in fact he was one of the more contented and centered souls I have known, he just didn’t think of himself a nice person.

It was, ironically, his matter-of-fact acceptance of his many flaws that made it easier for him to share the parts of his life that could benefit others. He loved to help where he could.

His obsessive, tenacious belief in the right-ness of his own cause, coupled with his genius for numbers and his extraordinary attention to detail, afforded him a level of focus that is uncommon among those with better social graces and a more certain hold on reality.

Carl’s genius lay in his fascination with patterns in numbers, a genius that presented itself in fields as diverse as astrology, astronomy, and meteorology. In the art of astrology, he has made a lasting contribution to mathematical synthesis within that art, and in meteorology, his analysis of solar cycles has inspired ground-breaking research into the Sun’s effect on our changing climate.

It was my great pleasure to meet with Carl one final time in June 2008. We spent a few days recapping our many adventures, and it was my solemn duty, as his reader, to prepare him for what lay ahead, the day before he went to the doctors to see about a problem that had developed in the previous months.

Carl’s life has not been marked by landmark discoveries, but there is every chance that his work may inspire a few.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'

Isaac Asimov

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Astrological Roots: The Hellenistic Legacy, by Joseph Crane. Book Review:

Astrological Roots is a "must-have" volume for anyone who is interested in ancient astrological technique, but has no desire to abandon the 300 years of astrological development in the post-enlightenment era.

This is the first clearly written "how to" book for ancient astrological techniques that embraces, rather than alienates, the modern astrological practitioner.

When I think of how dry and dusty a work like this could be, I am very glad that this one is neither.

Joseph Crane has a clear and compelling writing voice. He is clearly interested in the subject matter and succeeds in keeping the narrative moving. He manages to make time to clear up the differences in cultural assumptions between the ancient authors and the modern era, yet he never seems to get bogged down with it.

Crane picks up his readers "where they are" and takes them from things that are easily and commonly "known", to shed light on things previously unknown. He expands the base of astrological knowledge methodically and sensibly, without trying to accomplish too much in one volume.

This volume says a lot about techniques, giving clear and simple "how to" steps that make it possible for anyone to try them. He also says quite a bit about how technique is applied, and is honest when a technique is listed but has no ancient references for how it was applied.

I was pleased to see several of his charts featured in virtually every chapter in the knock-down-drag-out style of the ancient authors. I was less amused by a peppering of celebrity charts that illustrate individual points, however I am also aware that many charts illustrating isolated points form the stock-and-trade of the modern astrological author, and adds to the book's appeal to modern astrologers. I'm just a bit of a curmudgeon in that regard.

I would like to see a companion volume that fills out the many uses for these ancient techniques, and investigates a few other techniques that were introduced in the middle ages.

Mundane and Horary volumes would be likewise welcomed.

As a long-time dabbler in the ancient forms of astrology, I find this book indispensable for the clarity with which it lays out the reasoning for the techniques described, and the application to which those techniques are put.

It is a volume that provides great insight for both the ancient Astrology purist, and the modern astrologer alike.

Astrological Roots lays the foundation for the bridge that will eventually span the cavernous rift between modern astrology and its ancient past.

I highly recommend this book to all students of astrology.