Monday, October 11, 2010
I wish I could be like mythogical Merlin here, magically bestowing answers and comfort, but instead, you have me, your friend and mentor, who is more humbly "a reluctant astrologer." If I were him, I would be sharing with you how the Soul has such strange ways of mirroring the ancient esoteric saying: "that which is above to that which is below." I would add too, that one is not to fear the dragons in the forest, but that the dragons in the psyche must be loved and appeased first.
You have serious questions about the "shadow side" of astrology--that there appears to be ways to make astrology "prove anything" because there are so many different ways of approaching this art. It's true that I don't see astrology as a science, with definitive repeatedable rules. But is anything that "speaks" to such questions as fate, destiny, character, and cosmology, that way? I don't think we can speak of these questions that way. We can't deny our free will, and yet we can't deny the Mystery that we live within...
So, this mystery of astrology is illusive at times--with its "smorgasbord" of systems, or dialects---it doesn't present a united front. It’s the ‘shadow quality’ of our work for sure. But there are two things that are important to remember: all astrology is here to remind us that we are part of a larger cosmos, plan and purpose, and that we can trust in a pattern that is greater and wiser than ourselves. People need to know that. They need to see how their particular story, with all of its gifts and woundness is part of a larger sacred story. And I believe, as the ancient Hindu's believed, that "Goodness" exists at the heart of it.
We go to astrology because we want “to know ourselves” so we can make better choices—but we want to know about ourselves without someone pathologizing, shaming or blaming us. We want to understand why we do what we do, and astrology—no matter what “dialect system” it uses—gives us a way to talk deeply about ourselves and our inner struggles.
But you ask about the different "language dialects" between systems---such as the Vedic vs the Western, or the different house systems, such as Placidus vs Koch....well, I think most astrologers are simply drawn to a person who uses a particular method, and who shows them that it works --not tells them! And then they find a way to work within that language system as well. Astrology is like a romance language, derived from a similar root, and a "table is a table" whether we name it in French or Spanish. A table exists, just as a language exists, so it's ironic when someone says "I don't believe in "astrology" because I then feel like saying: "You don't believe in Spanish or French either?"
And of course, just because one person primarily uses the birth chart and asteroids and another relies on planetary progressions and transits, doesn’t make any of them wrong or better. It's a language that speaks to the Soul, and different dialects speak clearer to some people more than others. The ideal in any system is to be able to see a theme repeated several times in different ways—sometimes called the rule of three: you see a theme repeated three times, you know that what it points to carries weight….some truth.
So not only are systems, orbs, aspects, and "readings" not perfect “black and white” paradigms, but people are often profoundly paradoxical! Like the planets that are held within the mandala of the chart, people have many sub-personalities, and are constantly in the process of changing as well! What underlies a good reading-consultation often has much less to do with the mechanics of the astrologer’s technique than something else--something most astrologers use almost unconsciously. Let me get back to this in a moment....but first your question--
Underlying all astrological technique is the shadow of the unspoken fear--- is there a better way or a more accurate way to do this? How do I know if this is the best way? These thoughts are uncomfortable, and most of us confront that nagging uncertainty by being certified within a certain tradition, or we proclaim to offer an eclectic approach depending on the circumstance and client.
As a counseling astrologer, you know that I went back to school in my forties to get a Master’s degree in counseling psychology (with an emphasis in the work of Carl Jung.) And most of my astrology teachers used the tropical Placidus house system, and viewed the planets as mythological archetypes within a spiritual mandala. They saw the transits and progressions as challenging turning points along the process of individuation. I liked that! I liked seeing how the astrological elements related to the Jungian modes of sensing, thinking, intuiting, and feeling. And I liked Steven Forrest’s evolutionary astrology and Alice Howell’s wise “kitchen table” wisdom. I liked Jungian astrologer Liz Greene’s depth as well as other British astrologers…. so I find that my eclectic brand of astrology fits ‘just enough.’ And when asked: Is astrology based on science, or synchronicity? I launch into Jung’s theory of synchronicity, and I’m off and running…that's my style.
But I’m still uncomfortable with variations of your “shadow question” such as—if the precession of the equinox’s is true, then isn’t Vedic more accurate in the predictive sense? And if the asteroids are archetypes why not use them more? And how can I justify my use of orbs and aspects? I don’t know, but I am most “reluctant” when it comes to predictive astrology, such as the Vedic, because we truly can’t know how anyone is going to “play out” their signs and aspects. We can’t step on anyone’s free will choices, and isn’t that wonderful?
I like to think that just as a carpenter will have his or her own reasons for using a particular tool for a given situation, we also need to have many tools and techniques for different people and questions. We might want to say, unlike using an authoritative text such as the Bible, that astrologers have to intuitively choose which technique to use to draw forth a response---and that what is more important is that we should be trying less to prove a point than to inquire into the client’s truth.
My bias is that my best “readings” are not the ones in which I rely heavily on prediction, but when the metaphors I use allow the client to see deeply into their life. I know this is happening when they start talking more than me, and when they start looking at the question behind the question that they presented initially. And isn’t the point--- to put the technique secondary?
So perhaps the answer is to be found in finding that “sacred place or temenos” where we engage with our Self or with our client in a way that resonates with the process of deep inquiry? Does it matter what astrological language we use? Perhaps it’s not about the Jungian evolutionary approach, or the Vedic approach, as much as it is about affirming what we, or our client, already knows to be deeply true.
So….what do we want? I think the hope is that there will be a synchronistic moment of “ah-hah” when there’s been an accurate mirroring of that which is above, to that which is below. Isn’t that what we long for---when some piece of the client’s truth and the astrologer’s technique rise up to a little epiphany together! Ahh…. then there is that felt moment of meaningfulness that makes all considerations of proof of technique secondary.
And so this is what I offer you: the idea that the technique that brings in the "magic of synchronicity" is already embedded in most systems---the idea of deep listening and creating moments of connection and silence. Perhaps that is our only safeguard in truth-seeking; not forcing our predictions or symbolism or bias on our client, but honoring instead the idea that we are acting as Hermes did—as a communicator; as an instrument of the Divine.
We are looking at the Shadow—that’s delicate work! We’re looking at the blueprint of the psyche, and in those moments of listening with the heart we get a chance for the Spirit to enter; for what the Jungians call the numinous moment--- when we—or our client-- look at the chart and see the answers projected there---upon the clear sky of the heavens above and the gods within.
Ah…feel like I’m waxing a bit poetic here—but you got me going! Hope this helps~