Friday, May 31, 2013

TRADE SECRETS


I haven’t properly written a blog for about 6 weeks, probably my longest gap in 7 years. Much of it due to being in Canada and USA doing astro readings. Many thanks to all my hosts in Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Shelton, Seattle and Portland. It seems like did that really happen? But I also had a great time. 
I noticed that the latest edition of Mountain Astrologer has a theme of Chart Interpretation - ‘Tips and Techniques from the Pros’ -  guest edited by Frank Clifford. And I thought well how do I interpret a chart? I tend to think there’s nothing particular about the way I do it, but there probably is, and writing this piece is how I’m going to find out. Thinking out loud.
First of all, I’m not systematic. I like to wander round the chart until eventually everything gets covered. Sometimes I’ll say how did we get an hour into the reading without mentioning the ascendant? I don’t think it matters too much where we start, sometimes I’ll go with whatever I first look at. I like to do that occasionally, just to shake things up, maybe start with Mercury or something. I think there’s an important point here, in that the intuition can need this sort of space to function.
In fact, the whole reading and its setting need space. A bit of informality and ease at the start, get it all on an equal basis, like you’re friends, bring yourself in personally, rather than you’re a ‘professional’ that the ‘client’ is coming to see. This is more important than interpretative technique. And flexibility around time – I like to work with a maximum charge and let the reading take as long as it takes. And you are doing a reading for the person who shows up, how they are now, rather than all the issues they have maybe mentioned in advance. More often than not, I’d say, the reading is about something different to what the person coming along thought it was.
The astrologer is a healer, someone who through his or her craft gains insight into what the other person needs, what is really going on, and addresses that. It doesn’t make the astrologer ‘superior’ in any way, because the same applies to ourselves. It is very difficult to see ourselves clearly, and we astrologers need that sort of feedback just as much as anyone.


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Ad Break: I offer skype astrology readings (£40 for 1 hour, £60 no time limit). Contact: Dharmaruci71(at)hotmail.com.
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And the reading is a dialogue. I’ll start out, however, telling the other person that the less I know about them the better, just for now, and I launch into the chart and hit a few nails on the head
and wow, how could the astrologer have known that? And this is important, it’s not just showmanship, it’s a process of enchantment, the creation of a ritual space in which magic happens, a universe that knows things about you, in many ways knows you better than you know yourself. Wow! The reading itself is a kind of ceremony, an archetypal invocation, and it can be worth travelling hundreds of miles for, the journey itself becomes part of the process.
But after that I need to know about the person so that I can be more specific about what I have to say. Occasionally -  if they are astrologers! - it can feel a bit like they are waiting for me to come out with my ‘take’ on the chart. But I can’t really work that way, not at any rate till well into the reading and after plenty of
dialogue: I’ll be circling round some planets and some issues, coming back to the same place again and again and then suddenly I get it, wow where did that come from, yes I think I’ve got to the heart of it.
And sometimes I can be wandering around a chart saying this and saying that, and it’s largely true, but so what? And at that point I have to trust, because eventually we do always get there, we hit on the issues that need addressing, and at that point I feel the reading is really happening and that I’ll be able to say things that help the other person.
And when I’m doing a reading, I’m always checking – if I need to – that what I’m saying makes sense to the other person in terms of their own experience. Too many people are willing to say that years ago a psychic or a tarot reader or an astrologer told them they’re like this or that, that they maybe have a gift for something, and they hang onto it like it’s a separate piece of knowledge disconnected from what they know about themselves, but which makes them feel good about themselves. And what I aim to do is the OPPOSITE of that. Of course, I also want people to feel good about themselves, we are far too good at feeling bad about ourselves, but I don’t want anyone accepting anything I say unless they know it for themselves. A reading should confirm and add to self-knowledge rather than in any way be a substitute for it. That is where prediction, which has its place, can be a bit tricky, because it can easily be disconnected from where we are now.
Time to wander onto technique for a while. If somebody is not an astrologer – which of course is nearly always the case – then I like them to have at least a vague idea of why I’m saying what I’m saying in terms of the symbols, so if it’s a skype reading then I make sure they have their own copy of the chart and I give them a brief intro as to how it works.
And I hang the chart around the Sun and the Moon. Together they are like a tree that describes the main part of the personality. The Sun is the branches, reaching up towards self-knowledge and self-consciousness. The Moon is the roots, our past, our foundation, our emotions and instincts, our source of basic nourishment. But it’s not a hard and fast distinction: it’s not always easy to tell the difference, for example, between someone with a Sagittarian Moon or Sun. The Sun is the masculine principle, the Moon is the feminine principle, and they need to be given equal weight. You are as much your Moon sign as your Sun sign. The popular emphasis on Sun signs points to a cultural imbalance, an undervaluing of feeling.
With planets in signs, the emphasis is on the ‘inner’, and with planets in Houses (based on the Asc and MC), the emphasis is on ‘outer’, our connection to the world. But it is not an absolute distinction, there is a plenty of overlap. It is ultimately an artificial distinction, which we need to live on the planet, but which is created by our brains. There is, if you like, a unity of Soul behind appearances. The fact that the planets reflect, or even cause, inner events, shows this unity.
And if I go into the Sun and Moon by both Sign and House, and synthesise where I can, then you have a pretty full picture of the person in a basic kind of way. Though quite often I don’t seem to get that far, because there is so much in a chart, and so much going on in a person’s life, that I let the current of the interchange take me to the issues that need addressing, to ensure there is proper time for that, and then I will keep referring back to the planets and how they work for that person when we are trying to sort out whatever it is that needs sorting or clarifying.
I particularly focus on the hard aspects from the Sun and Moon to Saturn and the Outer Planets. These are the main challenges, the main growth points in the chart and in someone's life. You could say that is what they most need to know about. But I’ll also look at the hard angles between the other planets, angles and the outer planets. And particularly so if the only hard aspect is say to Venus, then you know one of the main learning points for that person is probably how they are in relationships.
With Saturn, the emphasis is on the need to master what you do over a long period, to make your mark, your contribution, to be recognised by your peers for what you do, to develop the practical wisdom of experience. And because it is a hard aspect, there is also the downside of Saturn to look out for: never feeling what you do is good enough, self-doubt, unable to stop and be still and value what you are as much as what you do. Using Saturn to build, rather than deny, an inner life. That’s a big one in our culture.

With Uranus, creativity – or the spark of life - is the keyword. That is why there is often an apparently misfit or unconventional nature. But as long as you are creative, in the sense of new ideas and ways of being that aren’t just re-arrangements of the old, and you don’t settle down, you’ll do OK. The trouble comes when you want to be like everyone else and play safe. That is when Uranus gets disruptive and even destructive.

With Neptune, Imagination is the keyword. Neptune reminds us that the world isn’t divided up like we think into self and other, inner and outer etc. Neptune presents the world to us like that, but also takes us to what is behind appearances. We are connected to each other and everything and with Neptune we need to feel that as part of our everyday experience. It is very much a feeling thing. If we shut that out and keep our reality in boxes, then we will look for that feeling in other ways – addiction, madness, fantasy. With Neptune, you lose contact with reality unless you include non-ordinary reality in your life. To know who you are, you have to give up trying to define yourself in narrow, box-like ways.

With Pluto, Power is the keyword. The power to live, to keep living and keep unfolding, like life does spontaneously wherever you look. And doing this by being true to yourself, the whole of yourself, not editing yourself into acceptable and unacceptable pieces. Life doesn’t think like that. With Pluto, we need to take Nature as our guide. Pluto is associated with depth psychology and the acceptance of ‘demons’ because of this natural movement of our being towards wholeness. There is a kind of authenticity, a strong presence, a power to
someone who is true to themselves in this way. It is not just demons we need to be true to, or what appear as demons, far from it, it is talents as well, becoming good at something can also be a threat to our sense of who we are. And as the Gospel of St Thomas says, if you bring forth that which is within you to bring forth, it will save you. If you don’t, it will destroy you. Until, that is, you can’t bear it any longer and you square with Pluto!

So that for me is often the focus of a natal chart reading: the various ways in which the outer planets are trying to get in on our lives and make us more than we are, and the ways we resist that.

But almost invariably, the reason someone will want a reading is because they are going through a period of change that is more intense than usual, and they want to make sense of it.

And that comes down to hard outer planet transits. Quite often if you point out that say Neptune is squaring someone’s Sun and they are having a really hard time of it, they will want to know when it’s going to be over, with the unspoken idea of hanging on grimly until that time and then going back to as they were before. In a way, that’s quite natural.

So my job is to show someone how to BE in that transit. For now, their life to a large extent IS that transit and they need to live it.

Saturn transits have a different quality to outer planet transits. Saturn is a planet we can see with the naked eye, he is conscious, we can work with him. With Saturn transits, we need to think about things, clarify them, get things to happen, move things on, work hard. If Saturn is e.g. crossing the top of your chart, then it is time to take your career/vocation to a new stage, a deeper stage, which may or may not mean doing something different, and it may only quantitatively be a small part of your life, but it holds the most meaning for you (remember Saturn is moving from the end of the 9th into the 10th), and it is time to put that into the world to a degree that you haven’t previously. It’s about setting practical goals, in a spacious kind of way, so that you can express in the world whatever has meaning for you.

With the 3 outer planets, you don’t have the same control as you do with Saturn. Saturn is about taking charge, taking control of your life, whereas Uranus, Neptune and Pluto require a degree of surrender to a wisdom that knows us better than we do ourselves.

That’s the thing these transits show us, that we may have one idea about our life, but life itself often has another idea. It’s like some blueprint for what we could be that is kicking in, and of which we only have glimpses. The course of our own lives and the way we lose control at times of major change shows us that life is NOT the blind chance that the Darwinists would have us believe, life has its own designs, but understanding those designs is forever beyond us.

So these outer planet transits are highly unpredictable in their outcomes, because they are taking us to places we have not yet experienced. So my job is not to tell you about the port to which your ship is headed – I cannot know that – but how to steer your ship, what type of storm or heavy seas you are encountering. And not to drop anchor and try to sit out the storm, that won’t work. If it is a storm. It may not be, you may just be going from strength to strength, but then you probably wouldn’t have come to see me the astrologer!

And if you’re honest with yourself, you know that the old you, the old way of life no longer feels right, and that you’re not yet ready for the next stage, and that is the way I take the transits from something as it were external, to something you know for yourself.

Relationships are a classic one here. You’ve got a major transit to your Venus and you want to know when it’ll be over because you want a relationship and you’re maybe in your 40s and worried that you’re going to get left on the shelf (Nonsense, people of the same age continue to fancy each other!). Or rather, you think you want a relationship. Because the transit is changing you in that area, and as I say, if the right person walked through the door now, you wouldn’t recognise them, because you are not the you that you will be when the transit is over! And if you are honest, though you may feel lonely right now, you know that you don’t feel ready for a relationship. And usually people seem to agree with this when they stop and think.

With Uranus transits, you need to live with a certain amount of instability. It is not a time for putting down roots or trying to make things last. It is about welcoming in new elements, seeing things in new ways, treat it as an adventure, in which what is new in your life may or may not last. Like all the outer planets transits, it can be quite uncomfortable, unless you are used to having that planet in your life anyway through the natal chart. You can have major parts of your life suddenly taken away from you, and that can be very painful. But even if it seems to come at you from the outside, so to speak, and to have had nothing to do with anything you have done, there is always this mysterious synchronicity between inner and outer, that provides an inner meaning to the unwelcome outer event. And it may be years before you can look back and see the necessity of that disruption in terms of your life moving on, it may just seem pointless and like it has removed all the meaning from your life. But under Uranus, it’s kind of guaranteed that you’ll also be waking up in certain ways, new abilities, new opportunities that weren’t there before coming your way.

Neptune transits often involve learning to trust. Neptune is the planet that shows us that we are looked after, that there is a benign aspect to the universe, and that yes change can be difficult and confusing, but there is some kind of gift, some kind of soulfulness in store for us as we progress through the transit and stop trying to control our lives. I often notice a battle with Saturn here. Saturn is very good at trying to boss Neptune around, and because Neptune isn’t very tangible, it can seem like the right thing to do. Keeping it all together (Saturn) while inwardly you are longing just to give it all up (Neptune) and go where the spirit takes you, but can you trust that? Sensible, right-thinking people say no, just keep it together, you’re doing proper work, earning proper money, you are busy, don’t give in to this weakness! And sometimes with Neptune you can be a bit maddened, you don’t know what is real any more, but as with all the outer planets, a big part of the change is letting yourself be taken over, letting yourself if you like be prompted from deep within and trusting that, going with that. And that can take a lot of courage, but it gives you your soul, and that is perhaps what Neptune is about more than anything, living from the spirit: waking up in the morning and going with its promptings, which aren’t necessarily anything deep and mystical that you have to fish around for, but simply what you are feeling here and now, and if you go with that, then over time it will deepen and become a sure guide.

Pluto and Neptune are probably the 2 deepest transformers. I can’t always tell the difference between them. My own experience of Pluto in the 90s was that the life-force, the ability to get up in the morning and do my day, had been switched off, and it made me realise that it wasn’t mine, I wasn’t calling the shots like I thought I was, and I needed to go about things in a very different way if I wanted that life-force back. I think Pluto brings you back to what is most basic. He takes apart the civilised veneer, and shows you what is really driving you. It is a time when bits of you that have been left out, maybe since childhood, reveal themselves, having of course been there all along but without you knowing it, beyond a sense of something not being quite right, something missing.

So I think the way through a Pluto transit is to be true to yourself, true to whatever is going on, and be prepared to start your life all over again on the new foundation that is slowly slowly being built.
These periods can last for years. There is a crucible of which you are only half aware in which much of you is bubbling away, like a chrysalis which as a horrible child if you ever pulled one apart, you would have seen to be full of green liquid, looking nothing like the butterfly it was eventually to become. And during these periods it can feel like you are treading water with your life, nothing comes of anything new that you try to bring into your life, and you can want to tear your hair out, and like with the other transits, particularly
Neptune, you start to feel inadequate and like a loser because you can’t just get on with life like you’re ‘supposed’ to. You are wandering on the plains of Hades. You are deeply internal, your gaze is directed inwards, and if you can recognise this and value this and be true to whatever you are feeling and not try to put it all into words, then you will be helping instead of hindering the transit.

Part of the problem we have with transits is cultural. In ancient Greece and India, the highest form of activity was contemplation. In ours, the highest form of activity is being busy. If we’re not busy, then we feel bad about ourselves. If we are busy, even if the activity really bores us, we feel a sense of virtue, we are a ‘good’ person.

So you can see why this attitude, which is deeply ingrained, creates a problem with how to be during a major transit, when we are needing to let the old fall apart and remain in a state of uncertainty until the new arises. I think this state of uncertainty and inwardness is good for the soul, it forces us to find a way of valuing ourselves that is not based on being busy.

And because of the way our culture is, getting a take on being ‘busy’ is often a major part of the transformational process, whatever the transit, assuming it’s big enough to kybosh our old way of living.

4 comments:

Unknown said...

Thank you so much Dharmarucci-- this was well presented and an informative piece that really made me stop for a whole day and keep coming back to it. In your "wandering" about, you have expressed prfound thoughts in a way I can comprehend!

LotusLady9 said...

Once again your insights have brought much needed perspective to my unsettled mind!

Melody said...

My reading style sounds a lot like yours - great post!

Jassi J said...

When you looked into my chart I knew it was just coming out of you, “those
challenging aspects to all angles is indicative of deep issues;
finding how to express myself, a career / vocation, a constant feeling of being trapped and a sense to move on, a home, a partner.
You try to throw it away and it keeps coming back, it is a wound
that does not heal.” From one day to the next, asking myself
what to do with my life?
There it is. Our culture keeps telling me to achieve, attain respectability, material wealth and security. It comes down to; I know who I am, but I doubt it because the culture keeps reminding me, 'you need to build something solid,' keep busy.
And I see how intuitively you operate, time to write your blog, how amazing it is that to be truly busy is spontaneous and knowing inside what to do as you do it.