Some wonder how astrology could work if it’s based on the incorrect notion that the sun and stars revolve about the earth rather than vice versa.
However, it’s not the science but the symbolism of astrology that answers that question.
The Fourfold Interpretation of the Symbol used in modern Western astrology is based on hermeneutics, a model of meaning and interpretation developed by early Christians searching for meaningful ways to read the Bible.In this regard, reading an astrological chart is akin to interpreting a ‘divine sign’, which is the literal meaning of divination.
Psychological astrologers believe that this is not so much about a chart as a ‘thing’ to be interpreted but instead about the ‘interpretational act’ itself. As we’ve learned from CG Jung, when you choose to interpret something a symbol, you will intentionally (even if unconsciously) force your world to conform.
The four levels of interpretation used are as follows:
- Literal– the letter teaches you the facts – this level presents that which is an objective truth to be observed and verified. It is an astronomical ‘truth’ that there exists a planet named Mars that takes 686.971 days to pass through the 12 signs of the zodiac. Likewise, it is an objective truth that you have Mars in Leo in your natal 10th house.
- Allegory– what you should believe– this level expands the literal sense by pairing observed objective truths to subjective life events. Here the astronomical fact that you have Mars in Aries in your 10th house is interpreted to mean that ‘you tend toward being a reforming crusader in a highly visible public career.’
- Trope– how you should act – this level reveals the context of the interpretation and allows you to interact with it. The term ‘trope’ comes from the Greek tropos, to turn, as in the tropic of the Sun’s turning at the Solstices. Moved by the literal and allegorical ‘truths’ you’ve observed and interpreted, you now turn toward that ‘truth’ and take the necessary actions to implement it. With Mars in Aries in the 10th, you literally turn your life around by taking the steps necessary to become that reforming crusader so visible to the public eye.
- Anagoge– what to hope for– this level, signifying the symbol as something through which the turn of the trope turns, is reflected in the astrologer’s desire to predict. Here you enter the world of the daemon, which manifests as a power from outside rather like providence or fate. Although you may have taken all necessary actions to secure your place as a reforming crusader in the public eye, powers beyond your control may block your efforts. It’s through the predictive powers of astrology that you can weigh up your options and with that ‘vision’ of the future, choose how best next to proceed.
If this all sounds a bit complicated, it is as you might expect with any theory. But the good news is that getting real results with your natal chart is much more straight forward although you will still need to wade through some symbolism.
Origen (fl. 3rdcentury) is credited with first identifying this method. He developed a three-level interpretation of the literal, moral, and mystical sense of Scripture. His mystical level was later divided into allegory and anagoge. By the time of Tomas Aquinas in the 13thcentury, the four levels of hermeneutic had become widely accepted as a means by which Scripture was to be interpreted although modern fundamentalists have for the most part moved backwards in time using only the literal level of interpretation.