A Sense of Place: a contribution from astro-cartography Dr Damian Ruth, Massey University email@example.com Graham Ibell, independent astrologer firstname.lastname@example.org presented in working form at Organisation, Identity and Locality (OIL) Conference1 Critical Studies of Management and Organisation in Aotearoa/New Zealand 11-12 February 2010 Victoria University of Wellington ABSTRACT This paper explores the value of an astrocartographical perspective on identity and locale. It addresses the criteria for validating knowledge, provides two illustrations of astro-cartography in practice, and concludes that there is a reasonable case for considering the contribution of astrological knowledge for the making of meaning in a post-modern world. It connects to the work of critical management theorists, as well to the aesthetic, linguistic and spiritual turns in management theory. The paper also addresses how we create spaces, and in the context of the metaphor of mapping in management, particularly strategy, it suggests that the symbolism of astrology has a much to offer in exploring our theories of identity, location and purpose. We may be seeing the beginnings of the reintegration of our culture, a new possibility of the unity of consciousness... Such integration will be based on the rejection of all univocal understandings of reality, off all identifications of one conception of reality with reality itself... It will recognise that in both scientific and religious culture all we have finally are symbols, but that there is an enormous difference between the dead letter and the living word. Robert Bellah Beyond Belief Introduction The OIL conferences occur in the context of increasing complexity within Critical Management Studies. The notion of critique is subjected to critique. But what is to be critiqued? The practice of critique is predicated on 1 see http://www.massey.ac.nz/~cprichar/oil.htm the notion of there being knowledge that can be critiqued. With this admittedly simple idea of the relation between critique and knowledge, we suggest that a process which questions the very basis for management knowledge is a fairly radical critical step. (We are not suggesting it is novel.) We take this step by exploring astrology as a form of management knowledge or at least as a theoretical resource for management practice. (Again, we make no claims of novelty.) We conduct this exploration with the linguistic and discursive, aesthetic, spiritual and other turns in management theory in mind. When astrology is considered as a discourse and an art, and connected to purpose and fate, and putting aside the inconclusive evidence in justifying it as a predictive tool, it is at least a resource for narrative. It can be seen as another way of constructing a story of a self, a tool for understanding identity, whether it be the identity of a worker, leader or organisation. There is another intriguing way in which astrology links to management, especially strategy. We are still exploring this ourselves.. Astrology is the art of interpreting a map, and the map is a prevalent metaphor in strategy theory. By taking a symbolic map, and engaging in a process of interpretive divination, the astrologer offers a picture of the world, a kind of ‘environmental scan’, to put it in traditional strategic parlance. With this knowledge, so the astrological claim goes, the entity is better equipped to engage in what strategists would call scenario planning. We would like to explore this at the conference. Another unresolved line of thought is to do with symbolic thinking. Managers and leaders are considered symbolists. Astrology is considered a symbolic art. Once we have shorn management theory of its pretensions to scientific and concrete knowledge, and dismissed the popular misconception of astrology as simplistically predictive, is there a way in which management and astrology could be mutually constitutive? Finally, to return to the use of maps, we ask if there is a way in which astrology can help us understand our locale. Places, or locations as we may know them, are products of our imaginations; a specific person, the product of a specific culture and time, ‘discovers’ a large body of water and begins the process of inventing Lake Victoria. Another person ‘discovers’ some islands and begins the process of inventing New Zealand, irrespective of prior and/or contemporaneous inventions of Aotearoa. It seems reasonable to suppose that a ‘discipline’ or ‘art’ or activity such as astrology, which is predicated on interpreting symbols and their influence, and, through its fundamental technique, oriented to latitude and longitude, would offer resources for understanding the conceptualisation of place, and perhaps of specific places. Knowledge criteria Barnett (198?) asks why astrology and witchcraft should or should not be taught at university in order to discuss how certain domains of knowledge are acknowledged or excluded as legitimate in higher education. Invoking polemical philosophers of science like Latour and Feyerabend, he deconstructs the criteria for admission, and discovers that they are far from consistent or secure. Insofar as they are understandable, it is our view that astrology passes the test. The 17th Century created the scientific gaze under which all objective knowledge would be stabilised, categorised, and standardised. In this world, that which could not be subjected to stabilisation, categorisation and standardisation was not knowledge. This attitude did not only categorise certain knowledge as legitimate and other as invalid, but disallowed certain stances towards dealing with the world. In this way esoteric knowledges and indigenous knowledges were invalidated or subjugated. Case and Phillipson (2004) describe astrology and alchemy in organisational theory as ‘insurrection of subjugated knowledges’ and remark on the fact that astrology and other forms of alternative knowledge and cosmology resurgent in the business world are rooted in non-European and pre-modern worlds. Scientific rationality is just one of many forms of knowledge. Liz Greene (1984:13) in her work on astrology and fate observes that ‘Any symbol, astrological or otherwise, cannot be truly grasped by the intellect alone. There are many more elusive yet equally productive roads by which the “map of the heavens” may be approached’ and on this basis she brings to bear ‘fairy tales, myths, dreams and other oddities, along with more respectable references from philosophy and psychology’ (page 14). Like the astrologer Cornelius (2003), she is impatient with those astrologers who seek in vain for statistical verification of astrology’s claims, and insist that its value lies in its symbolic value. Organisation and strategy theory is understood as a symbolic process of story-telling and is also replete with the use of ‘fairy tales, myths, dreams and other oddities’. We may change our language and labels, but in practice management remains an art of divination, and its prima matera is the written word, especially story. We suggest that astrology is a rich source of story, and that it deserves our attention along with many other hitherto excluded forms of knowledge. Casey (2004:67) observes how senior, expertly skilled and successful organisational employees are exploring ‘additional, contested rationalities’; I have observed crystals, Native American ‘dream-catchers’, and statuettes of the Buddha displayed, oftentimes together, in corporate cubicles... pictures of Sai Baba, yoga gurus and Hindu goddesses… artefacts of pagan traditions, alchemy and Wicca… employees consulting tarot cards, astrological charts and divination devices. Case and Phillipson (2004:474) cite many references on the use of astrological knowledge in organisations. Marketing executives are drawn ...by the possibility that astrological knowledge might enable companies better to target their products and services (Mitchell, 1995; Mitchell and Hagget, 1997; Mitchell and Tate, 1998; Phillipson, 2000)... similar interest amongst the financial fraternity (Anon., 1996; Brooker, 1998a, 1998b; Galarza, 1999)... books with a business focus published by professional astrologers (Bates and Chrzanowska-Bowles, 1994; McEvers, 1989) We suggest that there are specific ways in which astrology may contribute to our understanding of strategy and organisations. One way is via the use of metaphor. Mapping and metaphor The map is one of the most pervasive metaphors in strategic thinking and the story of soldiers who used a map of the Pyrenees to make their way out of the Alps is widely told. We draw two implications from the soldiers’ story. Firstly, the value of a map derives from its capacity to provide a sense of orientation, and this is more important than its factual accuracy. The second is that we create our sense of place, and a map is an aid to do so – the map is not the territory. We do not use a map in order to make sense of where we are – we create maps in the process of making sense of where we are. In this light a process which aids map-making is potentially valuable. A map is a metaphor. Through mini-metaphors and organisational stories we create, shape and make sense of where we are and where we may go. The map is not only an artefact, but a metaphorical construction and metaphors, like maps, are orientation devices. A strong theme in management metaphors is the invocation of archetypes as in Myers-Briggs, Morgan’s images of organisation, and Handy’s gods of management. Cummings and Wilson (2003) quote the story of the lost soldiers who used a map of the Pyrenees to find their way out of the Alps. They point out that how people are animated and orientated by maps justifies a more respective attitude to ‘pre-modern’ knowledge. In their discussion of pre-modern maps and mapping, they speak of a “subjective web” and then go on to discuss modern maps and mapping wherein they speak of “the triangle” and “objective grid”. The crux of the issue is the 17th Century creation of the scientific gaze under which all objective knowledge would be organized into an arboreal hierarchy with all its implications for stabilization and standardization. Management knowledge has been fashioned in this image. Concepts related to maps can also be treated as metaphors; terrain, territory, position, orientation, the high ground, coordinates, contours, scenario, and so on. Such metaphors abound in strategy theory. In each instance though, unless we are aware of the metaphorical implications of our ‘map’, we are as likely to create dust storms and cloudy conditions as we are likely to find ‘True North’ (George, 2007). The point is to do the work of mapping with a sense of its provisional and creative nature. Huff and Jenkins (2002) regard ‘mapping work as an especially strong vehicle for moving between theory and practice’ and the increase in work on cognitive mapping, fuelled by advances in mapping methods, has ‘highlighted the limitations of remaining rigidly within a cognitive perspective’ (page 2). They define a map as • • • • a visual representation that, establishes a landscape, or domain, names the most important entities that exist with that domain, and simultaneously places them within two or more relationships. A more complex map has two further characteristics. It • facilitates images of being ‘within’ the established domain, and • encourages mentally moving among entities. (page 2) We suggest that this could serve as a description of an astrological chart. We link Huff and Jenkins’ description of a map, and the idea of entities and their relationship within a domain, to the use of archetypes in management theory. Handy (1995) is one of many theorists (and he acknowledges that he is not original) who uses gods as archetypes. He uses the ancient Greek gods to symbolize four distinct management cultures or philosophies; the club (Zeus), role (Apollo), task (Athena), and existential (Dionysus) cultures. There are many other examples of archetypes in management theory, some of them consciously created, for example; the portfolio organization of stars, cash cows, question marks and dogs; the organization as machine, brain, computer, and so on; the leader as priest, artist, manager. Of interest to us is that organizations and strategies are designed on the basis of perceived givens, and that this process of design and the assumptions that shape perceptions are rarely made explicit enough. As management theorists, were are able to accept this kind of analysis and use of imagery as a creative act, a kind of storytelling. The stuff of management is symbolic and the act of management is the telling and enactment of stories. In it is this context that we suggest that astrology, and specifically, for the purposes of this paper, astro-cartography, has something to offer. Astro-Cartography Astro-Cartography is a relatively technical branch of astrology that is described in detail by Lewis & Irving (1997), Cozzi (1988) and Davis (1999). It displays an astrological chart (a geo-centric mapping of planetary positions of longitude, normally for the birth moment of a human, enterprise or similar) on a geographical map in such a way that it shows where on the earth each planet (in astrology this refers to the conventional planets with the addition of the moon and sun) was found at each one of the four key ‘cardinal’ points in the diurnal cycle: precisely on the eastern horizon (rising), on the zenith (culminating), on the western horizon (setting) or on the nadir (anti-culminating) at that moment of birth. (Traditionally in horoscope charts, east is on the left.) These four cardinal points have been seen for millennia as key positions of manifestation, where the qualities and energies associated with the specific planet are likely to be experienced externally in someone’s life. These, if you like, are places where one is more likely to meet the god. In archetypal astrology, linked with the school of archetypal psychology and with strong neoplatonic origins, the planets are seen as gods, or ‘living’ representations of archetypal qualities. So, for example, the line of Mars (the archetype associated with assertion, will, power, passion, competition etc.) on a person’s astro-cartography map shows where on the earth Mars was at the zenith at the time of birth, and therefore where the person is more likely to find an external focus for their assertion, will, power and so on. For simplicity in this paper we focus on only one of the four cardinal points, the zenith position which is most associated with public, visible, career, and goal-oriented expression. Cozzi (1988: 111) says of such a position “An untiring effort toward goals is promised”. Lewis & Irving (1997:178) say “A powerful drive for success and social accomplishment urges you on… though … you will not get where you are headed without encountering the real danger of accidents and injury”. This ‘god’ or ‘force’ is mapped as a line circumscribing the globe, showing exactly where on the earth the planet is on one of these cardinal points. Convention extends the planet’s influence to include a band of several hundred kilometres either side of each line. In the next two sections we illustrate the symbolic and story-telling power of astro-cartography. We first provide a basic analysis of an aspect of a natal chart, which is the most familiar use of astrology, and then an example of the less familiar organisational natal reading. The first example is a reading of the chart of the famous New Zealander Sir Edmund Hilary, the other a reading of Fonterra, New Zealand’s largest company. This allows us to make what we think is a reasonable case for suggesting that astrology can provide a resource for theorising about organisation, identity and locale in the Antipodes. Sir Edmund Hilary To show how we might use astro-cartography at a personal level, we will use the birth chart of Sir Edmund Hillary. For reasons that will become clear, we will illustrate our discussion in this paper by concentrating on the conjunction (i.e., the longitudinal positioning of planets in the same part of the zodiac) between Mars and Pluto in Sir Edmund’s chart. According to the literature this combination in a birth chart brings “superhuman power”, “the attainment of success through excessive effort”, and “the ability to demonstrate extraordinary force and vigour, great selfconfidence, the obsession to work without The natal, or birth, chart of Sir Edmund Hillary showing the conjunction of Mars and Pluto circled. any break, great ambition” and “has the reputation for being singularly ruthless and fiercely competitive” producing “a person who might say to themselves, unconsciously if not consciously: ‘I will win, I will fight, I will survive at all costs’” (Ebertin, 1940:162-3). Moreover, “people with this combination are usually capable of extraordinary courage and powers of endurance… and [it] is useful for those who physically push themselves to and beyond the limit: dancers, athletes, mountaineers and the like” (Tompkins, 1989: 222-5). This is a quality inherent in the psyche of Hillary, and given it’s in his birth chart it is something he must work with throughout his life. Seeking an appropriate vehicle for expression of such a strong combination is always important, and clearly for him this was mountaineering. We can now demonstrate how this tough combination was, for Hillary, focused or brought out more acutely on particular parts on the globe, places where he would probably meet these qualities- either in himself or in his immediate world. These are the places highlighted by the ‘lines’ that encircle the globe where these two planets are on one of the four cardinal positions mentioned above. As noted, of the four types of line it is the zenith that suggests the greatest likelihood of publicly oriented or visible expression of this most tough archetypal combination. According to Lewis & Irving (1999:186-7), the places on the globe that highlight a Mars–Pluto combination suggest areas “where you may encounter extreme situations”, and involve yourself “in a battle for supremacy over powers which at times seem almost superhuman in nature”. “Everything”, they suggest, “becomes a contest and a compulsive concern with the masculine image… and proving yourself”. “The military and intensely demanding athletics are career areas which can focus this otherwise unmanageable energy productively”. With these lines crossing within only a few kilometres from Mt Everest one can see how clearly Hillary’s astro-cartography reading gives a specific and historically significant indication of where he is most likely to deliver this “almost superhuman power” through an “untiring effort towards [a] goal” as indicated in his natal chart. This being a ‘line’ encircling half the globe one might, if course, ask Mt Everest why does it find its expression in Hillary at that specific spot? This is Map of northern Nepal and surrounding countries showing the Pluto and Mars lines (zenith) for Edmund Hillaryʼs natal chart. where the interplay of the personal and the archetypal come into consideration. Hillary was a mountaineer. Had he been a sailor, he would probably have met his ‘god’ (this Mars-Pluto conjunction) somewhere in the ocean on that line of longitude. This technique has obvious applications in management, for example in the selection of personnel, particularly in international or multiple site settings, in order to focus and/or develop skills and opportunities, as well as in strategic planning. It might be interesting, for example, to consider the implications of setting up a new office on the Mars-Pluto line of the CEO. On the other hand, research on trait theories of leadership have been inconclusive. The questions are Do we have a story-telling mechanism here, and what are the implications for organizing? Fonterra The chart of the New Zealand dairy giant, Fonterra, provides another example of the precision of astrocartography. The astrology of organisation and nations, referred to as mundane astrology, has a long tradition (Baigent, Campion and Harvey, 1984). As in natal astrology as chart is drawn for the moment an organisation or nation came into being. Clearly, unlike with a person, there can be many such birth moments for an organisation. Thus several charts can exist for the same entity, each describing a different facet of the organisation. Convention – and experience – dictates that for companies the incorporation process represents the legal and financial birth, laying down a fundamental picture of something like its ‘soul’. For a nation, it is often its independence, or a pivotal charter or treaty. Fonterra’s birth chart is drawn for the date and place of the co-operative’s incorporation, with the time of 12:00 midnight, as is the convention in such charts (Stathis, 2001). One could also make a study of the 3 organisations that merged to form Fonterra, all with their own history and ‘soul’, which would be of relevance to the understanding of this company. But for the purposed of this paper, it is sufficient to explore a use of such a company chart with reference to astro-cartography. We are concerned with the time of the Sanlu milk scandal in September 2008, in which the Sanlu dairy company, 43% owned by Fonterra, was adding a chemical to milk powder in order to increase its protein content, unbeknownst to Fonterra. At this time, Neptune, the planet symbolising deception, deceit and obscuration was in moving through a part of the zodiac strongly linked with the Fonterra’s Sun, symbolising its leadership and ‘life force’. Astrologers would interpret this as a likely time for the company to suffer from something confusing or shady, in which the leadership may not thinking clearly nor be able to see things as they are. This analysis highlights when we are likely to see a particular confrontation with the gods, in this case the deception and obscuration of Neptune. Neptune line Astro-Cartography map of NE China and the Koreas for Fonterra Co-op Group Ltd. showing the site of the factory at the centre of the Sanlu scandal, in Shijiazhuang, and the position of the Neptune (zenith) line. What astro-cartography adds to this is that it can point out where such confusion or deception is likely to occur. In Fonterra’s astro-cartography map highlighted for China we can see the Neptune (zenith) line passing within about 400km of the Shijiazhuang, base of the Sanlu Group. This would suggest that Fonterra at this time could have done well to put extra-special effort into investigating all operations relevant to its business carried out within this eastern portion of China. A related example is given in Phillipson (2000), where a business astrologer, using the techniques of location astrology, was able to prevent major fraud in her client’s business through recommending thorough investigation of the company’s stores that were found along a similar Neptune line. This claim does seem to tempt us back to the predictive power of astrology which we have dismissed. References Baigent, Michel, Nicholas Campion and Charles Harvey (1984): Mundane Astrology: an introduction to the astrology of nations and groups. Antiquarian Press, Thorsons, Wellingborough, UK. Cornelius, Geoffrey (2003): The Moment of Astrology: origins in divination. The Wessex Astrologer, Bournemouth, England. Cozzi, Steve (1988): Planets in Locality: exploring local space astrology. 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