This article is about Pilates and Astrology: how practitioners and professionals are forced to place “Classical” or “Ancient” in order to differentiate it from types which have little to do with the original system and yet call themselves this way and deceive the community.
Accidentally finding out about Joseph Pilates while doing astrological research
A few years ago, when I was collecting natal charts of people which are conducive to being away from home, that is, people who spend time abroad, work abroad, study abroad or settle abroad and come back years, only to return to the same foreign country, or natives permanently settling abroad and even dying there, one of the nativities I came across was that of Joseph Pilates.
I knew nothing of this remarkable man, although I recognized his surname and read that it was he who developed the Pilates method. He called it Contrology. While the latter, focuses on physical conditioning, its principles are universal and can be applied to one’s emotional, mental and spiritual health as well. I checked the accuracy of Jo Pilates’s horoscope, checked for the indications of being abroad and emigration and moved on to other nativities.
It was not until I was finally able to understand the ancient astrological text which covers the topic of being abroad and emigration (found in the Anthology of Vettius Valens, Book II, chapter 29-30, from the 2nd century CE) as well as to discover the identity of the vital missing Lot of Being Away from Home, a few years later, that I began paying more attention to the 100+ natal charts I collected for the purposes of my ancient astrological research.
When I decided to offer Zagata’s Tutorial on Being Abroad and Emigration from Antigonus and Valens, the astrological chart of Joseph Pilates (1883-1967) was one those I decided to include and hence write about it and research the native’s life to a greater extent.
Jo Pilates’ nativity
When studying Joseph Pilates’ life, I was captivated by him and decided to start practising Pilates
Upon studying the biography of Jo Pilates I was immediately captivated by the strength of this man’s will and his visionary nature. I mean, he had this incredibly broad perception and his utilized knowledge from Eastern, Western and ancient sources and making it into a comprehensive system, whose whole is far greater than its parts. More than that, when I read how useful the practice of Pilates is, I was hooked. What I ended up doing was purchasing one book on Pilates, then another, and then another, and incorporated the exercises in my practice. I will tell more about this in part 2 of this article.
The big similarities between Pilates and Astrology
The goal of the current article is to show you that, from a certain perspective, Pilates and Astrology have a lot in common.
Now, you will have noticed that I bracketed the words “Classical” and “Ancient”. Why did I do that? I gave a similar striking analogy between “dark” chocolate and “Ancient” Astrology in this article. The answer is that even though Joseph Pilates wrote 1-2 books on his method, which are still available, and had students who passed along his teachings, what the Pilates method has become over these few decades is severely watered down, simplified and hyped to the point where it is actually called into question whether these modern versions are Pilates at all.
Please note that Joseph Pilates died in 1967, which is only 50 years ago. In other words, it only took a few decades for the authentic Pilates, the system developed by Jo himself, to be modified so much so that those who follow the original teachings have to call it Classical Pilates.
The emergence of modern types of “Pilates” and “Astrology”
Now, compare this with (horoscopic) Astrology, which is about 2000 years old. The same thing happened to it, although it involves more factors due to its nature, namely being used by popes, kings, aristocracy, bankers, military, etc, etc. Astrology got so much so watered down after 1650, and even more so in the 19th and 20th century, that those who followed the original system had to add names to their astrological practice. Like: Ancient, Hellenistic, Classical, Medieval, Traditional, Renaissance, etc.
Again, the sad thing is that modern Western astrology is only about 100 years old. 100 years against 1,800 or more. And yet, because the vast majority, at least in the West, practise the modern astrological branch, those who practice the ancient one, have to put use that name to differentiate their practice from that of the majority. The same is true of Pilates.
In fact even more so, because the man who actually created the method was actually alive and taught people. This is unlike the founders of Ancient Astrology, whose knowledge can only be accessed by sources that are tertiary at best. I mean, a translation of a translation, with one author being separated a few hundred or more years from the original source text/s.
One who is well familiar with both the history of Astrology and the Pilates method may counter by saying that the former was practised by far fewer people in total compared to latter. Moreover, there was no obviously no internet back then. The printing press (in the West) was not created until the 15th century, which made it far more difficult to distribute books.
Add to this that the price of astrological books was very expensive and that Astrology, as the highest science, requires knowledge of astronomy, spherical geometry, geography, etc. and the number of people practising it is greatly reduced, and this does not even take into account the levels of literacy, and it become crystal clear that this argument is correct.
After all, millions of people practise Pilates every day. In other words, the more some knowledge is circulated, the greater the chances that changes will be introduced to it, for better or worse. Especially if it does not require other disciplines to be studied.
Astrology comes from the Divine, its principles are eternal and nothing new can be added to this knowledge
A very important point arises now. It is here where perhaps, only perhaps, Pilates diverges from Astrology. What I mean is this: Astrology comes from the Divine. It is the highest knowledge in terms of physical existence (it deals with operation of Spirit upon body). Its principles are eternal. As a result of this, one may only rediscover certain truths which are contained in the System that was originally given to humanity.
This does not, of course, mean that astrologers cannot make valuable contributions.
They can. However, it is one thing to know the System intimately, and it quite another to try and reinvent the wheel by introducing so many variations that inevitably result in watering it down, in decreased accuracy, in focusing on the parts and not on the whole, etc, etc.
So, there is no such thing as progress in Astrology. Again, its principles are eternal. What can happen is the understanding of those principles may increase and one may, after years of research, start rediscovering certain insights, (which are there to begin with, but one must be capable of noticing them) resulting in increased accuracy and comprehension of the whole.
Some of those that practise modern Western astrology claim its techniques are superior to those in Ancient Astrology
Now, when it comes to specific techniques, not to the eternal principles, one may argue that modern astrological techniques work better in certain circumstances. This is quite a statement! To be taken seriously, the astrologer in question needs to be thoroughly familiar with Ancient Astrology.
How many of those who practise the modern astrological branch have studied the ancient/classical one in detail? 1%, 2%, or even less?
The point is that it is ridiculous to make statements about a given system/teaching without spending the necessary time to learn that system in the first place.
Conversely, the majority of those who practice the ancient astrological branch have studied the modern one. Some of them have even done that for many years. I wrote in this article how I bought over 100 (of the supposedly best) modern astrological books when I took up Astrology and I still could not read a chart. I was beginning to question whether the whole thing is for me. It was not until I signed up for an astrological course (that was pre-20th century) that my understanding improved. Even with it, this was only the beginning. It was not until I returned to the most ancient (surviving) sources and spent a few years of intense study and practise, which continue to this day, that my understanding and accuracy increased a lot.
Unlike Astrology, the Pilates method was created by a man
As far as Pilates is concerned, it differs from Astrology in that it was created by a man and not shared from the upper planes. However, one may argue that the principles in (Classical) Pilates are, if not eternal, then inseparable. In other words, that the system is entirely holistic, just as (Ancient) Astrology is. Anyone who is well familiar with what Jo Pilates taught will know this to be the case. The 6 principles in Pilates are always to be considered together.
Whether the original Pilates method/Contrology can be improved
The question here is whether Pilates can be improved? Whether the benefit one gains from the system taught by Jo himself can be increased by adding more/different exercises?
Again, as with Astrology, the only way to answer this is by someone who has studied, to the necessary depth, both the original system and some of the modern ones. Taking into account that, as with Astrology, it takes some time, how many of those who practise what they call “Pilates” can speak on the original system as taught by Jo Pilates? How many of them know, let alone can perform, the 200-300 exercises he came up with? How many of them have experienced their benefits? Not many, right?
It is those that practise modern astrology that move to Traditional Astrology, not the other way around
It is almost the same as with Astrology. While I don’t claim to personally know that many practitioners of the ancient/classical branch, not one of those that I know has given it up for the modern branch.
On other hand, the vast majority, me included, have studied the modern astrological/psychological branch. We have seen that modern Western astrology flatly does not work when it comes to what Astrology was meant to do. I mean, to predict, to give concrete, practical and unambiguous information. I do not mean to flatter clients and psychoanalyze them, pretending this is Astrology and not astrological psychology.
When it comes to Pilates, I just started practising it this month. For this reason, I don’t know anyone personally who practises it, so can’t say whether they have studied the original system of Jo Pilates and gave it up for some of the modern ones.
Whether the types of Pilates and Astrology, which have diverged from the original system, can still be called with these names
To get back to the purpose of my article, the question arises whether anything other than Ancient Astrology is really Astrology. Whether anything other than the method taught by Joseph Pilates is really Pillates. This question must quite simply be answered.
Another question, which one may argue is even more important than the above one, is why do practitioners claim to be practising Pilates/Astrology and do not mention the original system their practice is derived from?
In other words, why do these people not make it explicit that what they practice is an innovation, something that is derived from an older source? Why do they not say out loud where they diverge from the original system? The implications for all this are horrific!
MILLIONS purchase books and courses and attend lessons and end up practising what they believe to be Pilates. It is not.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS or more purchase books and course, attend lectures and conferences, and end up practising what they believe to be Astrology. It is not.
Purchasing 2 books with Pilates on the title and them not representing the original system
As a concrete example, after doing some research, I ended up buying what is considered by some to be the best book on Pilates. When the book arrived and I opened it, it turned out to be an innovation of what Jo Pilates taught. In addition, the illustrations were so female centric that it really turned me off. I am sick of publishers who are not upfront. For cryin’ out loud, just say that you are overwhelmingly targeting a female audience! There is no need for leotard. Pilates can be done with regular clothing. I will call this one book 1.
I researched more and found the real deal. It is called the Complete Book of Pilates for Men by Daniel Lyons. The author presents the System that Jo Pilates actually taught. While men are the target group, women would certainly benefit from the book as well. After all, Jo Pilates worked with so many women, and he was teaching them these very exercises.
The author, Daniel Lyon, along with Peter Fiasca, Alycea Ungaro and many other practitioners, follow the original teachings. I will call this one book 2.
I was about to start the Pilates Beginners Program in book 2 when I read reviews saying that the exercises are too advanced for absolute beginners and one must have core strength if they are to be successful in them. Otherwise they risk injury. A certain book was recommended that beginners can start with before they build up their strength, and I bought that book. This is book 3. It was again described as the best or one of the best on the subject.
When it arrived, I, again, noticed that it is an innovation of the original method. Yes, there were also women in leotards. Yes, the author did not bother to be upfront and say how they diverged (let alone why) from the teachings of Jo Pilates.
For the record, both book 1 and book 3 contain all or almost all 40 mat exercises as taught by Joseph Pilates. However, the authors rarely distinguish them from the other exercises in their books. Again, this is not Pilates.
I don’t care what people practise as long as they are upfront about what it actually is
My goal is, of course, not to attack anyone. I don’t care what anyone practises as long as they are upfront about it. By upfront, I mean to write this on the cover of their book and not deceive people into buying and thinking they practise Pilates. After all, the terms quality and standard are constantly used in Pilates due its watering down. Well, how about you authors begin to apply these to yourselves rather than just write about them?! The same, of course, goes for Astrology.
On the other hand, I would never deny that some of the modern “Pilates” exercises I am doing, while building my core strength, are beneficial. I can feel their effect on my body, and I already have a few favourite ones.
Again, even though what I say is true, I am a beginner. I am yet to experience the full beneficial effect of Pilates. It will take a few years before I can master all or almost all of the original Pilates exercises. Then again, I am not in any hurry, for just as one cannot force mental progress with Astrology, this is even more true of physical progress and Pilates.
Always read the original sources of a given system of knowledge
So what is the bottom line?
Well, whenever possible, ALWAYS read the primary sources first.
I say this because even I myself, due to being new to Pilates, allowed to be swayed by the experiences and opinions of others, rather than buying the original book by Joseph Pilates.
Did I make a mistake? I did. Am I sorry for it? No, I am not, because, thanks to my astrological/holistic thinking, I was quickly able to detect my mistake and start looking for sources that are closer to the original. Moreover, I learned valuable knowledge about human anatomy. I got advice on tennis injuries and many others – information that is not present in the books of Joseph Pilates, or in book 2.
So the bottom line is I just wish people knew what they were getting themselves into. Again, this does not mean they would not derive benefit from the modern types of Pilates (unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the modern astrological branch save for the solar arc directions). They would most certainly do. What they would be deprived of, however, is contact with the original System, how it came to be, why it is structured the way it is, etc.