by Nancy Humphreys on June 21, 2013
Ben Wright’s colorful cover illustration for the August/September, 2009 issue of The Mountain Astrologer recently caught my eye again.
I noticed the ancient Chinese Yin-Yang symbol in the middle first. Around this symbol I saw a circle consisting of the eight ancient Chinese trigrams. What were these things doing on a magazine devoted to astrology? Then I spotted an outer circle showing attributes of the 12 houses of the Zodiac. Aha!
These disparate images on Wright’s cover all lie within an ancient Chinese eight-sided figure called a bagua. The bagua, sometimes transliterated as “pakua”, is an octagonal tool that’s used for feng shui. Feng shui is the ancient Chinese “art of placement” of buildings and of objects within those buildings. Feng shui is intended to protect and facilitate the flow of energy that affects the people who dwell or work inside buildings or homes.
In her introduction for Simone Butler’s article in the August-Sept 2009 issue of The Mountain Astrologer editor Nan Geary wrote: “This article is presented in the spirit of exploring the combination of feng shui with Western astrology.” Two other articles in the issue also explore the links between the assortment of images found on Ben Wright’s fanciful cover. Today I want to delve deeper into the connections suggested by the cover and these three articles in that issue of The Mountain Astrologer.
A common ancestor for ancient knowledge systems?
In 2008, I wrote a three-part series for Daykeeper Journal that looked at possible links among the I Ching, tarot, and astrology. As a librarian I view ancient systems like these three as compact, portable ways to store and share information among peoples who might be non-literate. These ancient “knowledge” systems are also structural precursors of the two main ways of that libraries in the United States, and elsewhere in the world, use to organize books.
I’ve long wondered if perhaps these ancient wisdom systems had a common ancestor, a pre-literate system that reflected archetypal kinds of symbolic information found in the human mind itself. I suspect there could have been a prehistoric time, a pre-Tower-of Babel era, when peoples all over the earth had a grand unified theory of everything that was expressed using a common symbolic language.
I decided it was time to go back and look again for links between the eight I Ching trigrams, feng shui, and astrology brought together in the autumn 2009 issue of The Mountain Astrologer. When I did, I found a missing link between the I Ching, lunar astrology, and feng shui. And I was inspired by Simone Butler’s article to come up with a different kind of connection between feng shui and Western astrology.