Book review: Cosmic Loom – The new science of astrology
Dennis Elwell (born 1930 in Stourbridge, England) is a British astrologer who began lecturing astrology worldwide in 1963, gaining a reputation as an original thinker who was an advocate for the rehabilitation of astrology. He wrote Cosmic Loom – The new science of astrology and published it for the first time in 1987. As he wrote in the preface, it is a book recommended to the “intelligent inquirer”, a book about the philosophy of astrology, about the principles which lies behind astrology. The book starts with a great statement: “the greatest truth in the world is also the most neglected”, in fact a synthesis of the situation in which astrology is and was in the last centuries.
1. The Stubborn Witness
In the first chapter the author presents the “stubborn witness” of astrology by several case studies, researches (one is about the axis around 20-23 Cancer and 20-23 Capricorn which speaks about sadism, criminals) which prove more or less that astrology works. Unfortunately, astrology must fight for a better place in a hostile world where is underestimated and, often, defied with ignorance by people who don’t have even a clue about what astrology really is. An astrologer feeling is expressed very well by the author:
“anybody who sets out to plead the case of astrology fells like a salesman who must get his foot in the door and talk fast, so much is against him”.
Of course, for this bad perception of astrology are also responsible those “astrologers” who are using “astrology” to foul people, like those who write “star sign” columns: “this precious knowledge has fallen into the hands of buffoons” as the author wrote.
There are many valuable thoughts in this chapter, in this book, and I would like to mention the idea that planets are not influencing people or vice versa, but is a matter of synchronicity (see C.G. Jung – Synchronicity, An Acausal Connecting Principle, 1973), a very important concept which is not understood nowadays (2011) by many astrologers:
“there is no direct influence of the planets, and many thoughtful astrologers would say there is no indirect influence either, merely a kind of synchronization between the “up there” and the “down there”.
2. Hidden Strands of Meaning
From views like:
“Here we are, centers of consciousness […] perhaps ultimately a cloud of energy interacting with other clouds of energy”,
to questions like: “What are we?, What is the universe?”,
the author tries to convince us that we can find answers with astrology. In this chapter he makes an attempt to demonstrate to the reader the benefits of astrology by generating an extended discussion about the role of Saturn, his significance of analyses, limitation, restriction, boundaries, and his connections with structure, time, age, gravity.
3. The Weaving Pattern
“Never was a time more favourable for demonstrating that astrology works, or for investigating the how and why. The communication explosion has placed unlimited data at the disposal of researchers.”,
says the author and tries to show how astrologers can understand the meaning of planets using patterns:
“understanding the world around us depends on our power to perceive these patterns of meaning, to make the right connections, recognise what belongs with what. It is not easy.”,
for example on 23 August 1985, when Uranus was on the upper meridian at London, on 3 different TV channels were transmitted movies with subjects close related with bombs (signified by Uranus in astrology). Like in the previous chapter are presented several examples of planetary combinations, aspects, midpoints, eclipses and the related events.
Instead of conclusion, we remember what JBS Haldane said:
“The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, is stranger than we can imagine.”
4. Learning the Language
“Nobody can understand the magnitude of the challenge astrology presents to the accepted view of the universe without learning a little of its symbolic language.”,
and this “little effort” will be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do, I would say. The author presents the basic symbolism of astrology: fire, air, earth, water, cardinal, mutable and fixed signs, the polarity dry – moist or cold – warm.
Also we can find here a long story about Chiron and some practical examples about the relations between Saturn – Neptune, Jupiter – Venus, Saturn – Mercury, etc.
5. Consciousness is the Currency
In this chapter one can find some very interesting observations about the periods when Uranus, Neptune were discovered. For example, Uranus discovery in 1781 was symbolized by revolutions (American, French revolutions) and words which appeared or received their modern meaning in that period, like: reform, individual, revolutionary, originality, unortodoxy.
Neptune discovery in 1846 was symbolised by the 1848 revolutions which was described by EJ Hobsbawn in The Age of Capital (1975):
“all possessed a common mood or style, a curious romantic – utopian atmosphere and similar rhetoric, for which the French have invented the word quarante – huitard. Every historian recognises it immediately: the beards, flowing cravats and broad – brimmed hats of the militants, the tricolours, the ubiquitous barricades, the initial sense of liberation, of immense hope and optimistic confusion.”,
by the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848, increase of international shipping by sea and words which appeared or received their modern meaning in that period, like: idealism, humanitarian.
6. Is there a Cosmic Will?
In a rather elaborate essay the author argues that there is a cosmic will (even he states that everybody should answer for himself) and we should try to act according to that will, being aware of it through astrology.
7. Your Cosmic Self
“The astrologer has this piece of paper he often consults, which he comes to regard as “his” chart. But this chart does not really belong to him: in a more meaningful way he belongs to it. The chart represents a moment of time of which his birth was a part, and he is not the exclusive possessor of the potentialities of that moment. Everything else being born around that time belongs to that time too, not only other people, but creatures of all sort, from microbes, up through dung beetles, to the higher orders. And not only living organism, but projects, physical objects, ideas.”
Can one find a more beautiful description of the astrological chart? With other words, we are a “screen capture” on the time – universe display, a “moment” in the development of the world. In fact we are a way of development of that “moment” which can manifest in everything which took life (started) in that moment like: ideas, material things, animals etc. Very nice and subtle idea. It seems like it really is a book for the “intelligent inquirer”, as I wrote in the beginning of the review.
The time – birth chart is a seed which may not develop as it should, or, with the author words:
“So we are not automatically the person we are created to be. We do not invariably make the contribution we were designed to make. There are so many obstacles, psychological and circumstantial.”
This conception makes place for free will, we can see that the author is not an adept of faith, destiny, but he believes that people have liberty of choice.
Chapter 7 it really is a chapter of wisdom.
8. Become What You Are
In this chapter the author continues on the same line of thinking like in chapter 7, starting with a quotation from Erich Fromm, in his Man for Himself (1947):
“Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality.”
and another argument for free will:
“The horoscope does not show what we automatically are, but the person we are created to be.”
In the middle of those precious theories, the author shows that to become what you are is a task which can be sustained with astrology by analyzing a chart and giving advices about the natural state of that person (even so considered “bad aspects” can have a good effect). Astrologers should try to make people understand how they really are:
“You meet people who have been told they must not become what they are, but should try to be somebody else. Aries is told not to be pushy, Aquarius not to be so impersonal, Capricorn not to be so self – centered. From birth onwards Gemini tends to be lectured by parents and teachers about his inability to concentrate, to do one thing at a time. How can you possibly do your homework with the radio on! But the astrologer’s job is not to try to turn a person whose whole being resists concentration into someone born under another sign, such as Capricorn or Scorpio, for whom one – pointedness may be essential for right development.
On the contrary, the task is to encourage Gemini to raise his natural inclinations to the level of sophisticated skills. Gemini should be told: Do as many things simultaneously as you can. Take a simple assignment or operation and make it as many-sided as possible. After all, to be able to handle parallel lines of activity expertly is a valuable asset in many walks of life. […] So whatever job Gemini is doing, the advice must be to make it as multiple and diversely interesting as circumstances permit. Everything possible should be done to encourage versatility, because that is the key to successful Gemini self – expression.”
Then, the author makes other valuable observations for each zodiacal sign, for example in the case of Sagittarius:
“To function properly Sagittarius must have an inkling of what it is all about, and especially some well-defined social or moral values. The Archer needs some mark beyond himself, beyond the expedience of the present situation. And again, Sagittarius often has to be encouraged to keep exploring and experimenting, an essential element which may be lost in middle life when the curiosity natural to youth has faded. These people may not realise it, but getting into a rut brings about a more certain deterioration of their personalities than life’s adversities.”
In conclusion, try to evolve the way your chart shows, don’t run from your personality:
“While astrology never promises automatic success, we shall not win any glittering prizes if we are working against the grain of our cosmic development”.
9. Living with the Stars
The author presents astrology like a science which can help us different areas like: predicting and understanding events, counseling or psychotherapy situations, creative thinking and problem solving.
10. The Far Edge
“Everything we learn about the connection between ourselves and the heavens points to a universe which is far stranger in its operations than even the theoretical physics of our day – itself light years ahead of the common sense of the fabled man on the Clapham omnibus – would ever suspect.”
Yes, it is. Far. Maybe if we wouldn’t be so “blind” and would try to use astrology efficiently like a science things would be better:
“But how important would be for humanity if astrology, by not fitting into any familiar picture of reality, had all the time been testifying to an utterly different reality, the true reality! How sad if that reality had to wait another thousand years for its flowering because the clues to its existence had been left neglected!”
In the final, other examples of how astrology works: the massacre of Thomas Watt Hamilton in Dunblame, princess Diana death, the sinking of Titanic etc.
MY EVALUATION: 8,85
Conclusion. It is a good book about the philosophy behind astrology, about what astrology is and how it should be looked by people. It is one of the few books which shows in a modern view what astrology really is: “the greatest truth”, as the author writes. On the other hand the chapters and their content seems to be incomplete, maybe the multitude of practical examples are not very well chose, maybe are too many or the line of thoughts is not in a natural order, but reading the book gives you the sensation that something is missing, that is not expressing a complete, clear philosophy of astrology. Mircea Eliade, one of the best historians of religion and philosophers, said that “a good thinker will not be a good writer”. I am sure that Dennis Elwell is a good thinker. My evaluation is 8,85.