Thursday, 27 June 2013

Spica: The Online Postgraduate Journal for Cosmology in Culture

Hot on the heels of the publication of issue 1(1) of Correspondences: An Online Journal for the Academic Study of Western Esotericism earlier this month, another online, peer-reviewed, open access journal devoted to an area of this exciting topic has just surfaced. Spica: The Online Postgraduate Journal for Cosmology in Culture is - as its title suggests - the product of postgraduate students studying the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, part of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David's School of Archaeology, History, and Anthropology. Edited by Rod Suskin, it contains contributions from a number of students on the newly introduced correspondence course, who have converted some of their best course essays into papers for public consumption.

In his guest editorial for Spica, Nick Campion, the specialist in the academic study of astrology who runs the course, praises the creation of the journal, and notes that MA research can often provide "a valuable contribution" to emerging fields such as that which he studies. As a masters student myself, this is a sentiment that I agree with wholeheartedly and its great to see an academic higher in the hierarchy openly praising the achievements of those of us a lot lower down on the ladder. Indeed, it is two master's degree students - Aren Roukema and Jimmy Elwing - who are the masterminds behind Correspondences, and it just goes to show that you don't have to have a PhD or a professorship in order to contribute to the vast sum of scholarly knowledge.

Although my research has so far never focused on astrological and astronomical beliefs in past cultures, I think it's wonderful that scholarship is at a point where "unorthodox" subjects such as these can gain growing acceptance and publication. The mindscape of the scholarly community, largely rooted as it is in the tradition of western rationalism, has all too often deemed the study of astrological beliefs pointless due to the perceived irrational nature of astrology itself. However, even though astrology might lack a rational base as a scientific discipline, it is still a widely held belief across the western world, and has been intricately bound up with astronomy in past societies; for this reason the study of past astrologies is a hugely valuable part of studying past cosmologies and mindscapes. Spica might only be a small contribution to that new field, but it is certainly a welcome one.

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