Astrology, as a continuous body of knowledge and as a discipline, is a vast and only barely glimpsed into terrain of consciousness. To study astrology is to first and foremost study the annals of Time. The Malay word for time is Masa. It has its roots in the Sanskrit and refers to the concept of a Month, which is in turn tied to the time cycle of the Moon. It was the waxing and waning of the Moon that allowed us to understand the concept of a month: as a unit of measurement and of time.
And Time, as a discipline and as a continuum is so vast–especially when we speak of Cosmic Time–that it would be impossible to understand Time without some type of measurement system. Over thousands of years, we have defined, fine-tuned and tweaked our understanding of Time. We have come up with an array of calendrical calculations in order to map the mythical starting point and passageway of Time.
In 46 BCE, Julius Caesar, who was later assassinated for being a dictator, decreed that the year would be made up of twelve months of approximately 30 days each to make a year of 365 days and a leap year of 366 days. The Gregorian Calendar is now the default standard for time measurement, but it is by no means the only one.
There were, are, and quite possibly will be, numerous other ways to measure Time. Some of these measurements, these time-keeping mechanisms, are specific to certain communities, creeds and cultures. We have, over the course of human history, transplanted and used measurement systems which do not accurately measure the passage of time.
Even a commonly-used system like the solar calendar can be ‘upside down’ between the Northern and Southern hemispheres. It seems, on the surface, that a uniform measurement of time is not exactly possible–especially when we take our environment into account and consideration.
People speak about the four seasons–spring, summer, autumn and winter–but where I was born and raised, there are no four seasons. There’s the wet season and the dry season–which are not always mutually exclusive, mind you. It was the monsoon that defined the measurement of time in Southeast Asia. You may dream of a White Christmas, but you can forget about having one in Australia where the deadeningly dry heat will probably bake or at least roast you alive.
Before you, or anyone else, embarks upon any journey of astrology, you will have to decide which time measurement system you are going to use. The most commonly used ones are the Sun and the Moon–with good reason, no doubt. There are also mixed systems such as the lunisolar calendar as well.
But is there another way to understand time beyond the time-measurement abilities of the Light Bodies of the Sun and the Moon? Ask any star-keeper and they will tell you about Jupiter–whose orbit goes on for 12 years. And then there’s Saturn, whose orbit lasts 29 years. But we don’t usually turn to these planets to measure or keep time now, do we?
Generally speaking, and in the context of modern time, methods of temporal measurement, or chronometry, take two distinct forms. The calendar, a mathematical tool for organising intervals of time; and the clock, a physical mechanism that counts the passage of time. In daily life, the clock is consulted for periods less than a day whereas the calendar is consulted for periods longer than a day.
The ancient timekeepers who created astrology perhaps had a more intimate relationship with the stars than we do. They built their monuments and their edifices in line with certain celestial phenomena. The truth is, too much of this knowledge has been lost, destroyed or been distorted in someway. Scientists may assert that their ‘tests’ clearly show no evidence for the viability of astrology as a discipline and as a continuous body of knowledge.
The fact that we, or should I say Julius Caesar, created his own system of time and told everyone else to follow it–does not negate the fact that there may exist many other systems and measurements of time… But who in the world is counting?