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Galaxy: Circles, Cycles, Circulation Date Published: 11/14/2002 by Michael Erlewine
Bio: Michael Erlewine

Author Michael Erlewine Besides being the author/astrologer behind our top-selling Astro*Talk, TimeLine, and Friends and Lovers report programs, Michael is the man who founded Matrix back in the late '70s. Michael and his brother Stephen Erlewine (Stephen is still head of all astrological programming for Matrix) built Matrix into the leading producer of astrology software.

For many years Michael lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he was much in demand as a counseling astrologer specializing in relationship and vocational advice. He also taught astrology at local schools and colleges, working with groups of as many as 1,200 people.

Michael is also known for his entrepreneurial drive which, in addition to Matrix, led him to create the All Music Guide - the largest music database in the world - and the All Movie Guide, as well as several award-winning websites, including

Michael also founded the Heart Center Library, the largest astrological library in North America that is open to the public. He remains curator of the works contained in this library, tapping this resource for one of his pet projects - a complete astrological encyclopedia.

Today Michael lives in the northern Michigan community of Big Rapids with his wife of 33 years and his family. He still does occasional private astrological counseling as people from around the world continue to seek his advice.

Those interested in a personal reading by Michael may contact him at:



One central idea emerging through recent Cosmic research is the use and value of various astrological coordinate systems (Geo, Helio, Galactic, etc) as best representing the different levels of our experience. The word CENTER can mean both the same and yet different to individuals. The center about which our life appears to revolve is sacred to us in its ability to reveal or communicate to us the essence or identity of ourselves. The Center for each of us always refers inward to our essence, and yet the Center or Lifeline of one individual may be a new car at one point in his life, a new wife, or a child at another point. At each point, the Center is inviolate although the outward form of what we take for our Lifeline to the Center constantly is changing.

The different kinds of Center may be conveniently expressed in the various coordinate systems of astrology. The origin or center chosen should most correspond to the center of gravity, the "kind" of question or inquiry or level being considered. Thus for a study of the personal differences and circumstances and the specific terms of our life, we traditionally use the Horizon Coordinate system to the Zodiac with its familiar M.C., ascendant, houses etc. Studies of the general terms of mankind (mundane astrology) involve consideration from the center of the earth or Geocentric Astrology. For a study of the motion and relation of the bodies in our Solar System considered as a functioning whole, the Heliocentric Ecliptic system with the origin at the Sun center would be appropriate. In this coordinate system, we could examine the archetypes of life and consciousness, and in general questions traditionally referred to religion, perhaps more recently also considered by some as Psychological. In like manner, Galactocentric and super Galactocentric coordinates are appropriate for dynamical studies of the larger or more cosmic structure of our reality. For each of us, there are moments and even days when our awareness is truly of or in synch with Cosmic Dimensions.

There are different levels of truth or reality. What is essential as a kernel of truth to one may appear to another as one example among many of a larger ordering or structure. When we each refer to our center around which we revolve, we share in the idea of centers and yet different ones among us revolve around or consider what is central or essential differently. All reference to different centers points out simply the lack of Identity or that these seemingly different levels or centers (in fact) form a continuum — a continuing experience or identification.

In other words: all of these larger systems such as the Solar System, Galaxy, and so forth include us within their reaches like a mother holds a child within her womb. We are the children and particular representatives of the Earth, and the Solar System, but also of the Galaxy and beyond. Their nature, identity, and self is Identical with our own. In fact, we have come through this "outer space" through all the time there is to BE HERE NOW: Ourself.

All discovery is Self discovery and identification is circulation!

Our consciousness continually circulates from more particular awareness to more "cosmic" awareness and back again. The exercise of various coordinate systems, like exercising our muscles, can serve to remind us that all reference to centers (all referral in fact) indicates an attempt to achieve circulation (circle or cycle) of identity — .to RE-MEMBER or remind ourselves of who we already are and have always been. In other words: All discovery is Self discovery and identification is circulation! Cosmic events and structure are a very consistent and most stable reference frame through which to come to know ourselves. The use of these inclusive meta-coordinate systems is not the symbolic process some suggest, but the symbol in fact is real. We are not working with analogies or, if we are, the analogy is complete down to the specific example through which we discover the virtual process itself — our Life.

"God" is no beggar, creating a symbolically true but specifically disappointing creation such that we should have to "touch up" his creation or make the ends meet. The ends already meet! It is we who will change first our attitude and then our approach to this creation. And these changes in attitude, these reorientation in approach to what is unchanging or everlasting in life, represent the specific areas where the exercise and use of various coordinate systems of understanding our life become important to present day astrologers. To discover our own orientation and inclination — that we are already perfect representatives of all space and all time, acting out in detail through our persons events of a so called "cosmic" nature that occur in space at remote distance and times.

That supernovae and black holes are not simply) some ever-distant cataclysmic events, but are (rather) part of our own everyday experience acted out in fact by persons within the galaxy of our own experience. That the goal of our study and our inquiry into astrology is to re-present and re-veal the nature of ourselves and our intimate circulation and connection and identity in the Heart of the Sun , Heart of the Galaxy, Heart of the Supergalaxy. In a word that all identification is circulation (a continuing or circle), and all Inquiry, questioning and search can but end in the discovery of our Self whether "writ small" in the corners of our personal struggle or "writ large" across the very heavens. Again: all self discovery , all Identification is re-discovery and simple: CIRCULATION.

Local Attraction

As we look into the Sun during the course of a year and describe the qualities of those who are born in the various signs, we succeed in defining NOT the position of the Sun. but that of the Earth in relation to the Sun.. This illustrates an important axiom: All inquiry into greater centers does not reveal the nature of that center (in itself), but rather reveals our relationship to that center. In other words: centers serve to mirror or reflect. Their nature is to reveal to us not their intrinsic nature but our own. REVELATION is the sign of communication with greater centers or planes. Revelation, not of some far off distant entity or "God," but always of ourselves and the "God" in us. In a discussion as to the qualities of the centers of the Galaxy and Super Galaxy, we can understand that inquiry into the direction of the Galaxy will serve to reveal the nature of our own Sun, while inquiry into the Super Galaxy will serve to reveal the nature of our Galaxy. The idea presented here is that it is the nature of Higher Centers to reflect and respond to more particular or local centers.

At this point another very significant Axiom emerges. The experience of physical attraction (traction = to draw across or towards) or gravity is primarily a local phenomenon. For instance, we directly respond to the attraction we call gravity of the center of the earth. Our Earth responds to the center of the Sun, the Sun to the Galaxy, and so forth. Yet as individuals we are not aware of the pull of the Sun on the entire Earth, or again: attraction or gravity is a sign of a local phenomenon.

This perhaps will make more sense in our practical affairs if we put it this way: A sign of our communication with higher or "vaster" centers (or "God") is not a physical gravity (graveness) or attraction, but always an ENLIGHTENMENT, releasing, and accepting of the nature of the particular terms (terminals) of our existence. Knowledge of so-called inner planes exhibits itself to us through a process of reflection or mirroring of our self rather than through the presentation to us of something new or somehow "other."

In other words, Higher Centers mirror or reveal to us, reflect our own self and do not exhibit a greater intrinsic attractiveness or gravity than we already have. In other words, inquiry into centers reveal to us our own essential sense of attractiveness. In fact, it is the nature of centers to be non-material or non-physical, by definition. Our inquiry into this realm is limited only by our fear of reluctance to see our self in this mirror, and seeing through the back of the mirror has always been a sign of Initiation. To sum this up, greater centers mirror or reflect our own self and nature, revealing to us our essential identity as already a part of a larger whole, and enlightening us of (or from) our "grave-ness" and the burden of an apparent loneliness or separation from that whole.

With this idea in mind, let us resume our investigation as to the nature of the Galactic and Supergalactic Centers. We can expect the Galactic Center to exercise considerable greater physical attraction than that of the local Super Galactic Center. In fact, one of the identifying features of the Galactic Center (G.C.) at work as revealed in chart analysis is a certain "macho" like quality, a sense of strength and power perhaps typified in the zeal and self-righteousness of certain extreme religious factions. Or more simply: the tendency in the qualities of Sagittarius and Capricorn of sterness and physical action or "power."

Another way to put this is the great ability and power of the G.C. as represented (when strongly aspected) in the natal chart to move and attract others. We find this feature in the charts of great political and religious leaders who possess the power to move nations to action. The G.C. figures in these charts in the traditional astrological ways — by conjunctions and other aspects to the Galactic Center. We may contrast this "macho-like" quality found in the G.C. to the qualities that indicate the presence of Super Galactic Center (SGC) in natal charts. Here we look to the traditional qualities of Virgo and Libra — that of care, service, reflection, and love. Perhaps the best representative of the Super Galactic nature occurs in Eastern Buddhism in the Idea of Compassion and especially in the beloved figure of the Bodhisattva, a being who is literally devoted to the service of all life until ignorance vanishes in every one in complete identification of self as one with "God".

We do not find the SGC as physically powerful and moving as we do the GC. In the West, the traditional god figures are more fierce and full of the "fire and brimstone" approach than of the endless care and service as typified in some of the Eastern traditions.

In fact, only in these times we are now living are the "servile" qualities associated with Virgo sun sign coming to be appreciated as a power in themselves. In other words, the SGC represents a non-material or essentially a passive power rather than the more active kind of power as seen in the Galactic Center Idea. In the Bible it repeatedly says "This came to pass.. that came to pass". The passive genius. Not active in the "doing of things" but rather active in the "undoing of things" that is: helping things to pass from this world. This is a non-material or spiritual task and genius equally to be valued along with the more active One-who-does-things or brings-things-to-be in this world. We way see these two Archetypes at work in the world, and they may be conveniently studied in their local representatives.. The Galactic and Super Galactic Centers and Planes.

So Inclined

"As Above, So Below — but After Another Manner," familiar as an occult maxim, might be the perfect description of what is involved in the various astrological coordinate systems and their transformations. It is easy to communicate the concept of "Wheels within wheels" (larger systems containing within them smaller systems), and this has resulted in the popular idea of the chakras or planes (planets) of our experience and self as an ascending hierarchy of levels, each inclusive of the preceding level. What is not generally appreciated but becomes increasingly clear when we examine the actual structure of the various cosmic systems is not only the idea of larger systems embracing the small systems within them (levels). but that each larger system is also differently inclined to the preceding one. It should be understood that aside from the often tedious mathematics involved in coordinate transformations, there is an accompanying philosophical or psychological adjustment to be made, a shift in viewpoint, a change in the approach or attitude to the subject.

So, there is not only an expansion in perspective when we move to a larger coordinate system, but also a reordering of our sense of direction. This is what makes it so difficult for an individual to see beyond his present dimension and get a feel for what is perhaps his inevitable future. There exists what are termed "event horizons" beyond which we cannot understand how life can go on. an example of some event horizons: puberty, marriage, child birth. and death, to name a few of the classics. We cannot see beyond our present sphere into what our future might be like in these other dimensions because we cannot help but conceive of these events in terms of our present line (linear) of thought. To pass through these event horizons involves total change. We do not watch our own change for we are what is in fact in transition or change. We are changing.

The idea presented here should be obvious: crossing of an Event Horizon involves simple reorientation on our part, call it a change of approach or attitude. The new dimension or sphere we enter turns out after our adjustment or change to reveal our previous or past life in new light. We see our old behavior and opinions differently in our new approach to life. It is very difficult to communicate the difference to one who has not yet had that experience. What has changed perhaps most is our INCLINATION. We do not want the same things we did want, or want them in a different manner. We are no longer inclined such that we feel the way we used to. Our life now revolves around a different center than before — a wife or child, for instance.

Many of these principles are graphically revealed through the study and exercise of the various astrological coordinate systems. For instance. what appears in one system as isolated and singular entities that are apparently unconnected, when viewed in the perspective of another system define the basic shape of the system itself. How often in our lives does some singularity appear as if an other and foreign entity, but later, when we have experienced several of this type as representatives of a kind at first unfamiliar. This same event becomes recognizable to us and loses its threatening quality.

I cannot apparently recommend strongly enough the exercise of these various ways or systems for understanding our universe to astrologers practicing today. Let us examine briefly some of these larger systems and their systems and their Centers. For those of you interested in a more thorough description and catalog of of the various members of these systems see my book: ASTROPHYSICAL DIRECTIONS (1976, American Federatin of Astrologers).

Cosmic Systems and Their Centers — A List

1. Solar Sysytem
Center: Sun

2. Local System (Gould's Belt)
This is a group of some 10.8 stars of which the Sun is a member. The Local System, originally thought to be a minute galaxy embedded with the Milky Way, is considered to be an ellipsoid of 700x200 parsecs with the long axis parallel to the New Galactic Longitudes 160 deg/340 and located in Orion-Cygnus spiral arm. The centroid of the Local System is in Virgo at about 15deg25' with nodes to the Ecliptic at 10deg22' of Sagittarius (North node) and Gemini. The system is inclined to the ecliptic by about 66deg. Note — positions are of the Epoch 1950.0.

3. Local Galaxy ... The Milky Way
Estimated to contain 10 to the 11th stars, The Galaxy is a disc-like structure with a diameter of some 30,000 parsecs, a central elllipsoidal nucleus of about 4000 parsecs, and an average disc thickness of several hundred parsecs. The nodes and center (about 26-degree of Sagittarius) in relation to the ecliptic are given elsewhere. The Sun is located some 10,000 from the Galactic Center.

4. Local Group of Galaxies
The local group includes about a score of member galaxies...the largest of which is the Andromeda Galaxy (M 31), our galaxy, and M-31 revolve around a common center of mass roughly in the direction of 27-degress in the Sign Aries.

5. Local Supergalaxy
Our Galaxy is part of a vast flattened super system of galaxies some 40 megaparsecs in diameter, with the center (at 1 degrees of Libra) in the great Virgo Cluster some 12-16 megaparsecs from our Sun.


© Copyright: Michael Erlewine





Other articles by Michael Erlewine

Erlewine, MichaelSaturn: the Sequencer

Erlewine, MichaelThe Value of the Heliocentric/Geocentric Comparison

Erlewine, MichaelThe Astrology of Local Space

Erlewine, MichaelThe Counselor: Midwife of the Psyche

Erlewine, MichaelTidal Vector Forces: Lunar Phenoma

Erlewine, MichaelBurn Rate: The Retrograde Phenomenon

Erlewine, MichaelThe Uranian Signs

Erlewine, MichaelTibetan Astrology

Erlewine, MichaelOutline of Major Tibetan Techniques

Erlewine, MichaelThe Tibetan Calendar: The 12 Months of the Year

Erlewine, MichaelTibetan Astrology: Appendix A

Erlewine, MichaelAstrological Signs

Erlewine, MichaelThe Planets, Signs, & Houses

Erlewine, MichaelZodiac Cycles and Signs

Erlewine, MichaelAstro*Map Hi-Res 1988

Erlewine, MichaelLocal Space Astrology — Relocation

Erlewine, MichaelLunar Gaps: Taking Advantage of the Lunar Cycle

Erlewine, MichaelThe Lunation Cycle: East and West

Erlewine, MichaelScience and the Lunation Cycle

Erlewine, MichaelInterface: Planetary Nodes - Part I

Erlewine, MichaelInterface: Planetary Nodes - Part II

Erlewine, MichaelGalaxy: Higher Order Structuring

Erlewine, MichaelThe Galactic Nucleus

Erlewine, MichaelHeliocentrics

Erlewine, MichaelOur Roots in the Sun



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