The Principle of Correspondence:
As above, so below; as below, so above.
Correspondence is a tricky term in Hermetic philosophy. It has been, perhaps unfortunately, associated with a modernized view of Cause and Effect. When one is confronted with the preposterous notion of astrology the immediate retort is usually, “but how can the planets affect our lives here on earth?” That is a fair question of course, but the idea is not that a planet is causal to human behavior. That belongs more to Greek mythology where the planets as gods watch over and meddle in the affairs of mortals from their safe space at Olympus! Correspondence can be thought of as a law of simultaneity. The face in the mirror is both the original and the reflection.
Looking for a physical cause, such as energy or particles from distant planets interfering with the human nervous system, is probably not a good idea. Correlation does not imply causation. In a crime scene, the forensic clues are connected to the crime, but one is not superior or causal to the other. If you don’t know what crime was committed the forensics will help you reconstruct it. Conversely if you know the crime you will know what forensics to look for.
If one is keen to study astrology he will probably have to accept that he will never understand how it actually works. This is of course anathema to the rational mind. While the positioning of the planetary orbits in an astrological chart is a rational exercise, the subsequent interpretation of it is entirely dependent on the expertise of the astrologer. The same goes for every form of divination from tarot to tea leaves.
Most people are attracted to these magical arts for the entertainment value at least. The subject is challenged to perceive something surreal beyond the coarse brush strokes. It is the experience that gives value. People don’t go to just any astrologer like one might go to a dentist; it is important to find the right astrologer – the one that awakens the latent serpent power within! After all, if there is anything at all to astrology, the astrologer is peering into your soul.
Outside sanitized laboratory conditions, the environmental conditions are never consistent between one moment and the next. There is a predictable rational component (one that can be measured) and also an irrational component. If you are taking measurements of gravity, it is a robust experiment in that variations in wind or air pressure are generally negligible so long as you are using heavy objects. But if you are measuring the freefall of a feather then the time it takes to hit the ground is too unpredictable.
The placebo effect is like that; irrational. I may be convinced that I have healed myself from a disease through a healthy and positive attitude. But when the experts with measuring instruments ask me to do it again, I probably cannot. Too many variables have changed, not least being put on the spot that would augment any creeping doubt.
The criticism leveled at divination as being anti-science is actually correct; if we take the established meaning of the word ‘science’. Noone is disputing it. For the scientist this is a deal breaker. The attitude of the diviner however is, so what?
The magical arts are not intended to conform to the objective requirements of science. They are provable only in the occasions that they work. It is the medium – the man in the middle – who is the most critical component of the experiment; he is the prism through which the light rays of reality have to pass through. And if he is having a bad day, then the experiment probably won’t work. Where science values objectivity, divination values the subject. There is very little compatibility between the two and it is left to the individual to manage his own flexibility to float between these two antithetical value systems.
In the old days when a physician was called to the house of an ailing patient, along the way he would look to the environment for clues of his patient’s affliction and whether it was curable. In horary astrology the time that the client visits the astrologer is used, together with any environmental clues. This practice of reading omens and auguries from the natural environment pertains to animism.
For the diviner to maintain this connection with the environment, he must live impeccably and with self-discipline. He must tend to his own physiology and thoughts as he would care for his garden. Like a warrior that prepares himself for battle, nothing is left to chance.
The Principle of Correspondence pervades all reality. The legend of Narcissus in ancient Greece tells how he falls in love with his own reflection and, upon finding out that it is his own image and therefore cannot consummate his love, becomes disconsolate. So he sets about seeking out his own image in others in order that he might finally be able be satisfied through union with another. It is this constant seeking for affirmations of self that underlies all human interaction.
Noone is able to hear what another says if the message does not already conform to what we already think we know. Social interaction is the art and practice of finding affirmations in the social environment just as the augur looks for affirmations in the natural environment. These affirmations exist as correspondence between the seeker and his world.
The modern type of astrologer or tarot reader is self-indulgent. Unless they understand this principle of correspondence, and with discipline they become empty as mediums, they will end up using their clients for their own affirmations. The ‘sincere’ new age types who set themselves up in these arts invariably become little more than agony aunts and relationship gurus.