Astrology as illustrative and reflective, rather than causative
I love this quote from Chris Brennans new book on Hellenistic astrology:
“Despite the formulaic nature of astrological omens, the astrologers themselves did not necessarily think that there was a direct causal connection between celestial and earthly events. Instead, the celestial omens acted as signs or indications of the future that were sent by the gods, and not as causes of the events that they correlated with. The stars in particular were seen as a sort of ‘heavenly writing’ that was inscribed across the sky. Naturally, as Rochberg points out, ‘the notion of the stars as a heavenly script implies their capacity to be read and interpreted.’ Thus in the earliest Babylonian strata of astrological tradition, astrology was seen to be a type of language.”
This supports what I often say, that the planets do not cause things to happen, rather they merely reflect ones karma. The birth chart is an illustration of ones sanskaras for a given lifetime, and there are various techniques to look more closely at a specific timeframe within the lifetime... We are drawn to astrology to gain insight, understanding, and acceptance of the complexity of circumstances we find ourselves in and the attributes we came in with, as well as the inner and outer events and developments that unfold over time.
It appears that some ancient astrologers placed great value on endeavoring towards acceptance of life as it is and developing forbearance, equanimity, and contentment regardless of circumstances (as revealed by, not caused by one’s astrology). The Vettius Valens (c.175 CE) quote at the beginning of Chris’s book is incredible: “Those who engage in the prediction of the future and the truth, having acquired a soul that is free and not enslaved, do not think highly of fortune, and do not devote themselves to hope, nor are they afraid of death, but instead they live their lives undaunted by disturbance by training their souls to be confident, and neither rejoice excessively in the case of good, nor become depressed in the case of bad, but instead are content with whatever is present. Those who do not desire the impossible are capable of bearing that which is preordained through their own self-mastery; and being estranged from all pleasure or praise, they become established as soldiers of fate”
This strikes me as counter to the modern concept of “manifesting” one’s desires and dreams. I resonate with Valens and appreciate the realism and dignity of his words. I am still certainly a proponent of trying one’s best to improve one’s self or one’s lot whenever possible, as that may also be part of the path, but striving for equanimity and acceptance if or when certain things seem unchangeable is just as worthwhile.
I have studied Bach flower essences for many years. Recently I have been offering suggestions to astrology clients (if they are interested) about which remedies may assist them in their life situation, healing, or growth process during current planetary influences or for natal chart placements. These remedies help to balance things on the subtle sphere and work on the vibrational level with the tremendous challenges of being human. They can ease one’s inner response to the effects of trauma, relationship issues, spiritual growth crises, difficult decisions, troubling emotional patterns, psychological complexes, and even physical complaints (as everything is connected).
The planetary positions at birth (the birth chart) show a symbolic picture of the types of assignments a soul chose/or was given to work on in this incarnation. It is impossible — and in actuality it is unwanted — to know exactly how things will manifest, as that is part of the mystery of life. But astrological symbols do reveal archetypal clues that provide insight for wherever one is in their expansion of consciousness at a given time. Each person has a unique path towards Self-development, and I’m grateful to astrology for reminding me of that — every time I look at another unique birth chart. The Bach remedies are one tool to help along the way. If you are interested in hearing suggestions for remedies in conjunction with an astrological consultation, please let me know so that I am sure to remember to include that. :)
“Health depends upon being in harmony with our souls.” ~Edward Bach
An Eclectic Approach ~ Modern and Ancient Astrology
There are countless ways to practice astrology and within Western astrology alone there are a huge variety of systems, paradigms, and techniques from which to choose. Throughout the years of my own study and practice I have found that it serves me to remain open to all the different paradigms that I encounter, while also remaining focused and not overly diffused with too many different techniques at once. My biggest learning is always through direct observation, so when it comes to where I put my attention within the wide variety of approaches, my eclectic approach is based on personal experience of the usefulness and relevance of a particular concept or system.
When I began studying and practicing astrology, I was mostly exposed to Modern Astrology and Evolutionary Astrology. This is mainly what is out there nowadays, has many merits, and no doubt still forms the foundation of my understanding of astrology. As time went on, however, I began to encounter more Ancient or Traditional Astrology and I found these frameworks to be equally valuable. For instance, I certainly honor the modern practice of paying close attention to the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, as well as Chiron), as I and many people and clients I know experience monumental internal or external events in our lives that correspond with the transits from these planets. The Uranus/Pluto square from 2012 to 2015 is a palpable example of this, being unfathomably intense for many especially those whose charts were directly lined up with the degrees of this life-changing, era-defining square (By the way, the last exact pass of this square is on March 16th, 2015).
On the other hand, I found that shifting to the Whole Sign house system (the oldest house system known); using the antiquated classification of planets in dignity, exaltation, detriment, or fall; and looking to the ancient rulers vs. the modern rulers, for example — are all undeniably useful to me when I analyze a chart. I didn’t necessarily want to adopt these older techniques, especially ones that appear on the surface to imply a value judgement, but when I investigated them I couldn’t help but notice their definite relevance. Through contemplation I realized that instead of seeing a planet that is in detriment or fall as a “bad” placement, for instance, the classification is rather a tool to acknowledge when an aspect of one’s self or one’s life (as symbolized by the planet) is experienced as inherently more challenging or uncomfortable than other planets that are more “favorably” placed. These challenges are of course not “bad,” just as squares and oppositions (aspects known to be associated with more challenges) are not “bad,” but a planet in detriment, for example, may represent a part of one’s life where one undergoes more suffering and requires more work or adjustment. I view this type of inner work or challenge as part of the divine intelligence within all of Reality, reflected perfectly in the birth chart, and for the purpose of learning and spiritual growth for the individual.
This is a good segue to the last example I will mention, regarding what I resonate with from Evolutionary Astrology. Evolutionary Astrology suggests that the birth chart is a reflection of what is needed for the soul for spiritual growth in this lifetime. My view is that the birth chart is a perfect illustration of one’s karma (the results of past impressions and actions) in this lifetime. The birth chart is literally a blueprint for how one is fulfilling one’s spiritual purpose and direction in this incarnation. Yet it is an illustration made up of symbols and full of moving parts, not a black and white, simplistic, or static depiction. Therefore it requires on-going exploration and can manifest in a multitude of ways, which will also invariably change over time as a person’s consciousness expands. I am always delighted to learn how people are living their charts. it is always more perfect then I could have imagined by looking at the chart alone.
In my experience, the deepest and most meaningful learning about astrology comes from experiential observation and involvement. Book learning is essential of course, but for instance, to truly understand the intensity of a transit from a slow moving planet to your birth chart, living through it or watching someone close to you live through it, is entirely different than reading about it. The theory you studied suddenly becomes tangible and is clearly manifesting before your eyes, and yet at the same time it is infinitely more complex and varied in its expression than you could have imagined. The same goes for truly understanding another human being, let alone yourself. It is a lifetime study. As an astrological counselor, I can study a natal chart for hours and hours, days, and weeks, but it would still take time to truly and comprehensively know the native (the owner of the chart). I may be able to quickly speculate about trends in character, predispositions, challenges, gifts, themes of the past and future, and various timelines of various archetypal influences affecting the individual, etc. And all of this can be immensely helpful for people in terms of inspiring self-understanding, self-permission to be who one is, as well as to give encouragement, patience, and strength with one’s life situation. Read more...
However, to really know a person, in a deep sense, and what it means to have a combination of particular planets in particular signs and houses with particular aspects, it takes time and keen observation. That is why I like working with people for a series of sessions over a period of time. We can go so much deeper into personality, life, or relationship dynamics, all of which the chart will illustrate in perfect fashion. Yet it takes time to unravel those mysteries written in a symbolic language. Like any relationship, it takes time and participation with someone to get to know them beyond the surface appearances or presentation. The same is true in a relationship between a counselor and a client and between an astrologer and a chart.
I love this quote by Stephen Arroyo regarding “the art of not giving advice.” My thoughts exactly.
“What then, one might ask, does an astrologer do? What is his purpose? What can he legitimately offer people if not specific advice? He can offer his insight, his understanding, and his support; and he can provide, with the help of astrology, clarification, a sense of order and meaning, a possibility of gaining higher awareness, and a sense of the ultimate implications of the present situation. Astrology used in this way provides a means by which people can more effectively deal with their lives by recognizing their participation in cosmic cycles, thus helping them to gain a true perspective on themselves and their dealings with the outer world. A birth-chart is not a static thing that one simply “gets done.” It is rather a map which can help the person along the road of self-discovery and self-realization.”
“The basic mind-body constitution is determined by:
*The souls karma (subconscious conditionings) and dominant state of awareness prior to conception. *The mind-body constitution of the parents. *the mental and emotional states of the mother. *Conditions in the mother’s environment prior to giving birth. *The planetary aspects which prevailed at the time of birth.”
~Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda
Wonderful intro to AstroPsychology by Glenn Perry (he articulates so well something Ive often tried to explain - that the birth chart is not fixed, but rather it reflects and embodies our ongoing evolution):
“The traditional way of interpreting charts is to focus on character delineations and fated events, treating both as relatively fixed outcomes. Conversely, a psychological approach views the horoscope as an evolving story that reflects a process of growth over time. Character and events are still delineated, but no longer in terms of fixed outcomes; rather, events are interpreted as vehicles for facilitating a process of characterological development. Read more...
As character evolves, so also does ones narrative of the outer world. As the upgraded, revised story supplants its more limited predecessor, this leads to increasingly satisfying experiences that reflect an evolution of the inner story. In effect, the astrological chart is a kind of living document, or life script, which allows for continuing amendments and revisions. I especially like the word ‘script because it not only conveys the idea of story, but also of a set of instructions that are written down, as in ‘a script to follow. That, in fact, is my thesis: the astrological chart is both a story and a set of instructions for living-that is, for evolving.”
“The reality, as I have come to understand it, is that the future is not fixed, and that therefore it cannot be reliably predicted. Consciousness interacts with vast archetypal fields of possibility and probability. What actually happens is the result of the collision of both forces.” ~Steven Forrest
When interpreting relationships, natal indications prevail over compatibility indications
Exploration of compatibility for partnership or marriage between two individual’s natal charts is one of my favorite uses of astrology. In analyzing compatibility, however, it is important to remember that no matter how many significant connections or marriage indicators there are between two people, one must first acknowledge the predispositions regarding partnership within each natal chart. If the natal chart shows stressful aspects or placements to planets in the 7th (partnership) house, and most importantly to the ruler of the 7th house, as well as the condition of Venus, who presides over love and relationships, for instance, then no matter how strong a connection is or how compatible the charts looks with another person’s chart, the experience in partnership is going to be geared towards major growth (i.e. full of challenges) for that person. And likewise, if a natal chart suggests more harmonious aspects and placements regarding partnership for the individual, then less compatibility with someone else’s chart may still correlate with a relationship experience that is mostly enjoyable for the individual with more harmonious natal placements.
Visit the Happiness Series. Its a great resource for all kinds of inspiring, uplifting, and helpful information! Check out the Astrology section to read some of my articles. So far they have featured: