Chatting with an airport stranger about the current pandemic, he like others believes he had it prior to its “official” arrival in the United States. Humans like beginnings, middles and endings so illness, too, must have a birthdate. But many, including this airport stranger, believed they had the illness as early as late fall 2019.
How do they know?
Amongst the symptoms that are similar to cold and flu are two that stand out – the loss of taste and smell.
As he mentioned these symptoms, it occurred to me that if we have only five sense (taste, touch, sight, hearing and smelling) that without taste and smell, we’ve lost 40 percent of our perceptive abilities.
If you couldn’t taste, feel touch, see, hear or smell, would you exist?
Descartes famously concluded that because he had thoughts, he had existence. The Buddhists consider “object of thought” a sense – our reality being the collective objects of thought. Descartes might have been onto something big, but remained in the human realm.
What does it mean to lose 40 percent of our senses? While taste and smell don’t seem as important as sight, hearing and touch, we might be missing more than pleasure.
Senses allow us to perceive but also screen for danger. If in the Middle Ages (and modern day Russia) taste was absent, think of the ease with which poisoning could occur. No one would taste the hemlock in the stew.
If we had to give up a sense, smell seems like it might be the easiest to relinquish, reducing pleasure but maybe not as much a danger-screener as the other senses, although it is needed to avoid being caught in a fire. But first let’s examine the idioms involving smell.
Something smelling “fishy” indicates something doesn’t feel right. Since fresh fish tends to decay quickly, even fish lovers can understand this. Smell prevents us from eating rotten food but extends to the avoidance of rotten situations.
But how about when someone says “I smell a rat?”
Rats, like any other object on earth, emanate smell. But unless you have a rat infestation, do you more often see them than smell them?
Smelling “a rat” is to sense the trickery and deception of others and suggests our sense of smell is somehow involved. Maybe there’s a science behind hormones emitted when we trick and deceive. Smell here also implies discernment, the ability to know without strings of logical formulas that something is not appropriate for us.
If we can’t smell, will trickery and deception run rampant?
Astrology of Senses
Astrology weekly provides what it calls “generally accepted significators” of the five senses in Western astrology. It’s assigning a planetary ruler as such:
Sight – Mercury
Touch – Venus
Taste – Mars
Smell – Jupiter
Hearing – Saturn
On this website of Vedic astrology senses are described in relation to the elements of which there are five (as there are in Chinese astrology):
The Five Organs of Sense
The Sattvic attributes of the Five Elements are the Organs of Sense. They are as follows:
Ether is ruled by Jupiter and causes the Sense of Hearing. Through Hearing we acquire knowledge from Sound. For a person to be able to hear, Ether must be present. Conversely, for someone to have poor hearing, Jupiter must be afflicted in the horoscope.
Air is ruled by Saturn and causes the Sense of Touch: Through Touch we acquire knowledge from Tangibility. For a person to be able to feel touch and differentiate the object of touch, Air must be present. Conversely, for a person to not be able to feel or lack acquiring knowledge through touch, Saturn must be afflicted in the horoscope.
Fire is ruled by Mars and causes the sense of Sight. Through Sight we acquire knowledge from Light and Colors. For a person to be able to see, Fire must be present. Conversely, Mars must be afflicted in a horoscope if the person has poor eyesight.
Water is ruled by Venus and causes the sense of Taste: Through Taste we acquire knowledge from Flavors. For a person to be able to taste, Water must be present. Conversely, Venus must be afflicted in the horoscope if a person has a poor sense of taste.
Earth is ruled by Mercury and causes the sense of Smell. Through Smell we acquire knowledge of Odors. For a person to be able to smell, the Element of Earth must be present. Conversely, a person has a poor sense of smell if Mercury is afflicted in the horoscope.
Because the organs of sense are Sattvic, they are elevating in nature and pure when the organs of sense are working properly. They are Sattvic because one acquires knowledge through their organs of sense.
Smelling Rats in the 21st Century
From a Western planetary perspective, for me Mercury seems to rule all of the senses as it’s the interpreter of reality. Mercury as messenger of the gods is the link between the energies represented by “the gods.”
The Vedic perspective makes sense to me more than the planetary alignments. Having always had the nose of a bloodhound, the relation to earth seems accurate. And relating each sense to acquisition of knowledge is quite insightful.
If we gain knowledge from our senses and lose two are we losing 40 percent of our knowledge?
In early 2020 at the “start” of the pandemic, we had a great lineup of planets in two earth signs – Taurus (Uranus) and Capricorn (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto). Neptune was (and is) in Pisces which according to the website noted above relates to taste.
Capricorn is also associated with authority. In early 2020, the governments of the world all responded to the global pandemic in the same way. This is a first in our known Earth history. Pluto has been in Capricorn since 2008 but is in its final phase of this sign and bringing our destruction, transformation and evolution in this area to conclusion.
Since this great lineup of planets in Capricorn, there is no longer in my country (if there ever was) logical and rational conversation but arguments about what is real. While the spiritual side of me is pleased that we are finally questioning what is in front of us, the practical side of me understands there is danger if there is no shared reality. The arguments have become so weak from a logical perspective that there is no reason to even talk anymore (which actually might solve a lot of problems).
If we can’t share reality, then maybe the sense of discernment is no longer necessary. Maybe as our life moves from physical to digital, we no longer need smell and taste. Maybe we only need sight and hearing for life lived via a computer or phone.
Is touch the next sense to go? I suppose we need that to use our phones and keyboards.
Can we live with sight and sound alone? Are we sure that everything we see and hear is real? How often are we fooled by smell in contrast to sight?
How will we “smell” the rats?