Tuesday, September 10, 2019


The Capricorn Sun-Cancer Moon opposition is fundamental to the UK 1801 chart. It describes the polarity between Leavers and Remainers: Leavers are the Capricorns who want to reset our borders and who have ambitions for the UK as an independent country; whereas Remainers are the Cancerians who feel a sense of belonging to the EU and value its care for people – being a water sign, Brexit has been a very emotional issue for them.

As ever, you can look at it the other way round: the Leavers are the Cancerians who feel they are gradually losing their homeland to a proto-superstate, and this is why they feel so strongly about it; whereas the Remainers are the Capricorns who value the EU’s attention to governance, along with being a part of the world’s No1 economic power.

However you look at it, I have always maintained that Brexit is primarily an emotional issue, for it is about where we feel we belong, who our tribe is. All the other arguments about economics etc are just so much froth. And I have also always maintained that there is no right or wrong in this, it is probably our personality type that determined whether we voted leave or remain, just as it is largely personality type that determines whether we vote liberal or conservative. This is where astrology helps, as it takes the rightness and wrongness out of other people and shows their behaviour and opinions to be the product of their soul-wiring.

The UK Sun-Moon opposition also describes the current struggle we see between Parliament and the People: the people voted to leave the EU, whereas ¾ of MPs are Remainers. Parliament could not bring itself to ignore what the country voted for, in fact it invoked article 50 by a huge majority. It was a resounding affirmation of the referendum result. But when it came to it, MPs have not been able to find any sort of consensus on how to leave, and this is because they do not want to leave. So there is paralysis.

In a mundane chart, the Sun is the government, the Moon is the people. And in recent years, Pluto has conjoined the UK Sun and is now finishing opposing the Moon. When the Tories came to power in 2011, Pluto was in the early stages of conjoining the UK Sun, which shows how defining the EU issue has been all along. Capricorn and Cancer are both conservative signs, and in the 74 years since WWII, Labour has been in power for just 21 years. Like it or not, the Tories are our natural party of government, and it is under them that this pivotal issue is being worked out.

So Parliament is the Capricorn Sun, and the people are the Cancer Moon. If Parliament prevails, there will be a nuclear response from the people, even from some remainers, who on principle want the outcome of the referendum respected: you do not oppose the will of the people when they are having a hard Pluto transit! If the people prevail, then Parliament will undergo change, because of the way Brexit will have occurred ie by ignoring the will of Parliament. My opinion is that Brexit will happen, because that is the only outcome that satisfactorily describes the conclusion of this hefty series of Pluto transits, which have also hard aspected the Angles and North Node, along with the Sun and the Moon. And Brexit will occur at the latest by autumn 2020, when Saturn and Pluto will be at the very end of their transits to the UK Moon.

And as ever with Pluto, there will be renewal. Not necessarily one we approve of, but renewal nonetheless. Just as there was in 1979, when we were at the same point with Pluto, we had been the sick man of Europe forever, and Margaret Thatcher came along.

Boris seems the most likely leader for the renewal. His Angles closely conjoin the UK Angles, and that ties his destiny in with the UK destiny. And his Solar Return for this year has Moon-Saturn-Pluto in Capricorn in the 10th – this is very weighty, and says to me that even though he only came in under marginal personal transits, he will last longer than a few months.

The current chaos-drama involving the prorogueing of Parliament, the seeming meltdown of the Tory Party and the loss of the government majority is described well by the mutable t-square of Sun/Mars-Jupiter-Neptune. Boris has natal Mercury at 19 Gemini (opposite the UK Mercury in Sag), which turns this t-square into a Grand Cross. He has mutable Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. He is at home with the apparent political chaos, he is riding it. Love him or hate him, I’ve thought for a long time that there is a destiny around him, like Tony Blair he is charmed, and that he will therefore probably pull off what he is attempting to do. He has a trickster quality to him (like that other Gemini Donald Trump) and he will probably continue to find ways of evading, or even ignoring, Parliament's attempts to control him.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


The North Node is about to cross the UK Moon (the people) at this pivotal time. The people have spoken in the EU elections, and we are just as divided as ever! However, the message is that something has to be done about the Brexit issue, or the Tories and Labour will be in meltdown in a general election.

The North Node moves on to cross the UK MC on 11 Dec, so the run-up to that moment will also be pivotal. In this case, it involves government (MC) rather than the people (Moon). The obvious point here is 31 Oct, when the UK is due to leave the EU.

It seems almost certain that the Tories will elect a Brexiteer leader. The final vote (when it has been whittled down by MPs to 2 candidates) is taken by the Party members, and they will vote for a Brexiteer. It seems likely to be Boris, because of the close fit between his Angles and the UK Angles, and the 10th House emphasis of his Solar Return. If it is Boris, it is likely to be short, because Uranus will be putting him there in the end-stage of his opposition to Boris' MC ruler, the Moon. Uranus will start to retrograde in mid-August, so whatever he thought his leadership would be, it will quickly become something else. In additIon, Saturn will be backing into an opposition with his MC, and that is difficult too. But Boris is a trickster, and Uranus may help him perform some surprising manoeuvers in this very tricky situation. 

Key to this is the DUP. They don't want a united Ireland, but they don't want a hard border either. If there is a no-deal Brexit, there will, officially at least, be a hard border. If the DUP withdraws its support for the government as a result of this prospect, Corbyn would have the numbers to win a no-confidence vote, and that would lead to a general election. But as we have seen, the people are not happy with either Tories or Labour at present, so that would not be a good move. But Corbyn is an ideologue, and may take this course nonetheless.

Who knows what will happen. We are in astrological outcome time. The UK has been subject to Pluto hard-aspecting our Sun, Moon and Angles over the last 7 years, and he is currently backing into his final almost-opposition with the Moon, as Saturn completes his run through of the UK Chart. So it looks like there will be some sort of outcome this year. The last time we were in this position - ie Pluto completing his long sweep over the UK chart - was in 1979, and Thatcher had just been elected. So expect a rebirth of some sort in the coming years. The stuckness has been the expression of the transit period, rather than its outcome, which we are entering.

I reckon it's going to be a no-deal Brexit in October, the Tories having stayed in power by all sorts of arm-twisting of the DUP. Boris may do something dastardly behind the scenes to ensure this. And the arrangement that will be more visible will probably be some kind of practical solution to the Irish border question, whereby the border is officially hard, but everyone will ignore it. A practical way of thinking that gets things done, and which is what should have happened, but which is beyond the imagination of the bureaucratic EU and the bureaucratic Theresa May.

Sunday, April 28, 2019


The EU began as a response to the trauma of 2 World Wars - and probably further back too, to Napoleon. The founding idea was that Europe would unite politically - in an 'ever closer union' - so that these wars could not occur again. My contention is that, to a degree, this was trauma speaking, rather than 'emotion recollected in tranquillity'. It was only 13 years after the end of WWII, which is no time at all for a collective to process the past. Hence the rush we have seen towards political union, a process that should take centuries for such old and distinct cultures. That rush, and the rigidity around it, seems to me to be the voice of unprocessed historical trauma.

The UK has not been subject to the same trauma: we have not been invaded at any point. So many of us look on quizzically, wondering what all the rush is about, and feeling uncomfortable with the encroachments on our sovereignty, which are not happening organically. In this respect I think the UK, with its vote to leave, is acting as a mirror to Europe, as a brake that may give pause for reflection. Our history with the EU is probably far from over. We may, over time, be part of a reformed EU, one that is no longer afraid of the individual sovereignty of its member states.

The chart for the EU (or EEC as it then was) has Sun in Capricorn, an ambitious leadership. The Moon, the 'people' - or maybe, the member states - is in Taurus, showing that economics is at the heart of this project. 

The Moon being in Scorpio's House and square to Chiron describes the traumatic shared history that is at the root of the project. Chiron is also conjunct Venus, which is the EU's relations with its member states. And, as Brexit has shown, those relations are troubled - irremediably so, Chiron would suggest. And with Uranus forming a t square with Moon-Venus-Chiron, there will be rebellion if you force the issue of union.

Now here is what is interesting - the UK Venus at 16 Aquarius is conjunct the EU Venus-Chiron at 15 Aquarius. So the role of the UK has always been to stir up this trauma, probably just by being the awkward squad (Aquarius). 

And here is something else: the EU's Angles are at 29 of the Mutable signs: this is the worst time to begin something. You need Cardinal signs to initiate effectively. Beginning under Mutables is not a true beginning: rather, it is going with the flow of something already there, which was the trauma of the wars, a reaction to it.

In the coming years, with the UK refusing to be part of the EU under its current structure, and with Neptune moving ever closer to those Mutable Angles, we may see a softening, the EU feeling it can drop its guard a bit and allow individual countries their own relationships with the EU. And, with the generations passing, the EU's leaders will be more remote from the wars out of which it arose, and less compelled to force the issue of union.

Thursday, April 25, 2019


This is a painting from Jung's Red Book. I have it on my wall. The Red Book is the product of the WWI years, when Jung was being initiated into the spirit world at a deeper level. It would be called the shaman's illness in a Siberian culture, when the spirits make you an offer you cannot refuse - not, at any rate, if you want your life back. What is required, in a way, is a commitment to your own soul. And the Red Book is largely an account of Jung's conversations with a spirit guide, Philemon. That is why it was not published until recently, after his son, who was concerned for his father's scientific reputation, had died.

The painting depicts the solar voyage of consciousness towards its goal. But accompanying the ship, unseen, is a sea monster. Coming to terms with those depths - with Pluto, if you like - is the real purpose of the journey. There is no goal, nowhere to travel to, that is just a delusion of rational ego-consciousness, what is nowadays called 'spiritual bypass'. 

There is only the ever-closer approach to the centre, to who we always were. And this is a theme of the 2nd Saturn Return, when we can let go of the striving, and trust in what emerges from within. And we can trust it because, instead of judging and fighting him, we have formed a relationship with the sea monster.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


In London, Big Ben went silent in 2017, and will remain so until at least 2021. In Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral has been partially burnt down. For both countries, national symbols have been damaged or suspended. In the UK, we have Brexit. In France, there is a level of protest unseen since the 60s.

Both countries are subject to major Pluto transits - in the case of the UK, in opposition to the Moon (the people). In France, in opposition to the Moon-ruled Ascendant (using the horoscope that Nick Campion suggests.) For the UK, Pluto has finished his crossings, and it seems that Brexit as we knew it, that rude struggle between 2 opposing and equally matched forces in the population, is just about dead. The eventual outcome is far from clear, and will probably not be so until the autumn/winter, when both Pluto and Saturn move away definitively from their opposition to the UK Moon.

As for France, Pluto will be exactly opposing her Asc all of next year, so it would seem the protests are far from over. And with the burning of Notre Dame, that they go to the heart of who France is, just as Brexit does for the UK. But I don't know the ins and outs of French politics, so I will leave it there.
Next year's Saturn-Pluto conjunction will no doubt play a major part in giving new direction, a new story, for both countries.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

The Second Half of Life

Jung: “I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among those in the second half of life - that is to say, over 35 - there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given their followers, and none of them has really been healed who did not regain his religious outlook.”

This process of finding a 'religious' outlook in the second half of life is described by the series of outer planet transits that everyone has in their forties. It is a time when - archetypally - we move from the received and extraverted values of society to listening to the voice within. Of course, some of us may have done that from a much younger age, but there is usually still a struggle between who we feel we are expected to be, and the direction in which that mysterious voice within is taking us.

I recommend this book
This period begins with Uranus opposition Uranus, which has the function of breaking up the landscape of the received values that have given us our sense of acceptance and identity, and opening up fissures, abysses that may be terrifying to peer into, but which reveal the voice of our deeper self that has always been there.
Now the picture gets confusing as to what happens when. But it is often a long, confusing period anyway, because the paradigm shift, the re-orientation is so radical. For many of us, the period will have begun with Pluto square Pluto rather than the Uranus Opposition, because of Pluto's elliptical orbit; for anyone born now, the Pluto square will occur after all the other outer planet transits.

So it is best to see this period as a bunch of influences, and create a story dependent on the order in which they occurred for you. And put it all together as a Creation Myth, much as we can see the Big Bang as a creation myth described by the outer planets: Uranus lit the touch paper for this utterly unpredictable event, of everything suddenly coming out of nothing; Pluto was the enormous creative power in that tiny singularity; Neptune was the Primordial Imagination that contained the vision of a Universe; and Saturn put all the pieces together.

So we can see all these influences running alongside each other as we are born into the second half of life. Pluto square Pluto will be the time when we are made an offer we cannot refuse, of that seed of new and more authentic life that is trying to push through, and which can make us ill if we deny it; Neptune square Neptune is the whisper, the longing for the life we have always secretly wanted to lead, the magical thread of Self that has followed us since childhood; and Saturn opposite Saturn is a re-assessment in this reality of what has value for us, the perhaps painful realisation that what we had strived for over a long period now means little to us.

As we approach 50, the Chiron Return presents itself. Chiron, as the bridge to the outer planets, is telling us to listen to their drumbeat from now on, or our life will not work, it will be 'wounded'. Chiron is also a teacher, and having been through this long initiation, we will have learnt something important that we can impart.

Monday, April 01, 2019


The below chart for Northern Ireland (based on the UK 1922 chart, under which a separate Northern Ireland came into existence) was hugely sensitive to transits around the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. At the time, Neptune was conjoining the Midheaven and Pluto the Desc. It doesn't get stronger than that. 

At the moment, Neptune is squaring the NI Sun, and Pluto is opposite its Moon. So there is huge inner change going on, even though it looks outwardly the same. And these inner changes are setting the scene for Pluto crossing the Capricorn MC in a few years time. The emphasis with Angles, as our points of connection to the world, is outward. Capricorn concerns boundaries, and these were made more porous (with Eire) in 1998 as Neptune crossed.

Pluto crossing (exactly in 2023) sounds to me like an irrevocable and permanent change. And Catholics could be in the majority as soon as 2021 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-43823506) So this looks to me like a United Ireland sooner than we think, currently being energised by the issue around the Brexit backstop and the DUP fears around anything which might lead to unification.

And then there is the EU. I use the EEC (see below) chart for when the organisation came into practical existence. For the people/individual countries (Moon), the EU is essentially a shared (8th House) economic (Taurus) institution. It is the political aims that have caused the problem, with their threat to national sovereignties. I am NOT criticising those aims, just trying to observe. In 2020, Uranus will conjoin the EU Moon. Brexit has electrified and unsettled EU countries, and this theme will continue for 2 more years. Uranus breaks up the landscape, the old certainties, allowing for deeper changes to follow in its wake.

In 5 years time, Neptune will hard aspect all the Angles of the EU. You cannot hang on rigidly to old ways of doing things under Neptune, for they dissolve beneath your feet. It will be an issue of the soul (Neptune) of the EU and how it manifests practically (Angles). It seems to me that because the individual countries regard the union as essentially economic (Moon in Taurus in the 8th), we will see a dissolving, or a limit, to the aspiration for political union (which is unlimited, 'ever closer', in the founding document, the Treaty of Rome). 

This will allow the UK to normalise its relations to the EU, particularly as the hard border in Ireland will no longer be an issue, Ireland being in the process of re-uniting.

The UK, as the 2nd biggest economy in the EU, and Germany's biggest EU trading partner, is too big too ignore. Historically, I think Brexit will be seen as the hugely disruptive event that triggered a limit to the EU's political aspirations, in the interests of economic partnerships.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Astrology is ruled by Uranus, and one reason for that is because astrology belongs on the unacceptable edge of modern culture. But not on the popular level, where astrology seems quite acceptable! : and that maybe illustrates Uranus' rulership of Aquarius, the common man/woman.
Within astrology, I'd say Uranus describes those with sympathies for conservative politics, as most astrologers seem to belong to the liberal consensus, to the extent that some even hold their noses around those of a different persuasion. 

This is in the UK, at any rate. In the US, I've been surprised at how many astrologers get annoyed with me for criticising Donald Trump. That said, what I would go so far as to call the liberal prejudice dominates there too: hence the now infamous panel of reputable astrologers, 11 out of 12 of whom predicted Hilary Clinton would win the last election. 

These astrologers were probably all pretty good on a technical level: this shows how much we need to purify our intentions, stand apart from worldly one-sidedness, before we attempt our sacred art. And, maybe, the degree to which this is not understood in modern astrology, even at a 'high' level. This 'hollow-bone' quality takes many years to forge, it is very different to technical competence, which is the easy bit.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

On Gurus and Finding the Gold Within

I've just watched a great documentary series on netflix: Wild, Wild Country. It is the story of Rajneesh and his followers in Oregon in the 80s. A cult that went wrong, bigtime. They created a city in the wilderness, took over the local town, and ended up with a huge arsenal of weaponry; there were also incidents of poisoning and attempted murder against their enemies. Of which there were plenty. They attracted huge national opposition.

Fundamental to this story is the propensity that I think we all have, or have had, to idealise teachers. There is plenty of it in the shamanic world. And I think it is normal to do so. We come staggering along, maybe confident and competent in a worldly sense, but with little idea of who we are on a deeper level. That is not something we are taught :) And so we project all that good stuff onto a teacher. I think it is a natural process. A good teacher does not need those projections, and does not create a 2-way street, a kind of love-in if you like, with the pupil. All teachers will claim they don't want followers, but it can be hard to resist the flattery of people thinking you have the answers. I think it's very difficult for a teacher not to slide into this one, at least some of the time.

And I think a crucial point is finding that guide within ourselves. As I say, it is natural and necessary to seek it outside ourselves to start with. But then we have "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!" A friend was telling me how at a certain point in his life his spirit guides, who had always been there for him, refused to help, that there was an important decision he had to make on his own.

In my 20s and 30s I was around a Buddhist set-up, and all it was about fundamentally was me finding what I call my 'metaphysical autonomy'. Once that happened - and it was like a deep eruption after many years preparation - it was all over, and I was on my shamanic way :)

One of the main people they interviewed for the Rajneesh series was the guy who had been their lawyer. He must be about 70, and 'the Bhagwan' is long dead. But this guy is still under the spell. He still describes 'the Bhagwan' as 'the master of masters' - like, how can you know that? Another person they interviewed, who went to jail for attempted murder, has broken the spell, but it took many years. This process can take a long time, and it may never happen in someone's lifetime. And it may be incremental. Few people can admit to giving power away to a teacher; we think we are autonomous when we are not. It is seen as 'faith' to put the teacher's judgement before one's own, and arrogance to do otherwise.

And it is about knowing that we have all the guidance we need within. It is not something we can will into being, and it is easy to kid ourselves. It is a profound psycho-spiritual event that is like finding gold. And even then we can dip in and out of it. The path then becomes about allowing the gold to take root, to permeate our being.

It also then becomes possible to know the shadow. With the Rajneeshis, all goodness was projected onto 'the Bhagwan', and all evil was projected onto those who opposed them. This is no different to Nazi Germany, where Hitler carried the ideals, and the Jews carried the shadow. And the Bhagwan was also divided in this way: when his senior disciple left, he publicly rounded on her and denounced her. She was now the enemy. It was immediate.
From The English Magic Tarot Deck
And I think it works something like this: when you live from your inner sense of guidance, you have all you need. You're not needing to prove anything to the world or to other people. Or at least, not to the same degree. So we become able to admit to our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, because doing so does not take anything away from who we are. In fact, there is a sense of it adding to who we are, but not in an ego sense. 

The worldly path involves building a sense of ego, and this is seen as normal. It is why we admire people who are rich or famous or royal. Admit it: if a celebrity walked into the room, you'd feel differently to if a regular guy walked in. I know I would. And this way of seeing the world is often carried over into the 'spiritual' world, where people want to become a 'name'. It is certainly true of the shamanic world, where it has in places become normalised.

But it's all just vanity, and misses the point. When a Chippewa Cree teacher used to come and stay with me and run events, he refused this sort of self-promotion. He would limit himself to a factual description of his background and training, and didn't want himself put out on the internet. I can go with that. And the people still came.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

The Depth Psychology of Shamanism

I have a strong interest in both astrology and shamanism. And at the moment it's the latter that I'm writing more about. And I have a shamanic blog that's been on a bit of a backburner, but now I've started putting a lot more on it and building a (free) subscriber list. So if you are interested, go to www.shamanicfreestate.blogspot.com and you can sign up at the top right of the page. Meanwhile, here is one of the articles from that blog:

In 1997, I was organising some shamanic journeying at a small festival in the UK, and the space was packed for each session, like 70-80 people. The word shamanism had a buzz to it, and I think it still does, even though it can also be a cliché.

But the buzz was genuine, and I think it was about people wanting a taste of the Otherworld, something which has almost become a race memory, because it has been so squeezed out by religion and then science. But it is still there in us, this desire for an untrammelled experience of Spirit, that feels ancient, and that is not hedged around by dogmas of what is and is not possible.

It is Spirit that ultimately teaches us about Reality, not humans and their books. Shamanism – a recent, western phenomenon – is about that return to a direct experience of Spirit, that connects us to a universe that is so much more than the literal, material universe of modern science.

That taste of the Otherworld is, for some, enough as an accompaniment to their regular existence. For others, it is not enough. Or we may think it is enough, but the spirits have other ideas!

And this is where the idea of the 'shaman' comes in. A slightly problematic word, as it carries connotations of spiritual stature, which ain't a good thing to claim. And a shaman is technically also a healer and diviner, a spirit consultant.

But the spirits can drag us kicking through that initiatory journey without the end result being a healer. You may end up as a counsellor, or an artist, or a stand-up comic - or as Mozart: what was it that spoke through him if it wasn't the Otherworld? Or you may be nothing in particular that you can put a name to! You just have that look in your eye that says I've been somewhere else.

As Leonardo da Vinci said: “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

Or as the Ancient Mariner said:
"I pass, like night, from land to land;

I have strange power of speech;

That moment that his face I see,

I know the man that must hear me:

To him my tale I teach."

The Ancient Mariner
The archetypal event has become, for us, the shaman's illness, which will often bring him or her to the gates of death or madness, and once she has accepted the wishes of the spirits to be a vehicle for them, he recovers.

And I think this illness, this trial, this ordeal, needs to be interpreted broadly within our shamanism, even though the original definition was quite specific. And I think we need to be quite broad too about 'the spirits'. Yes, some of us will have guys upstairs that tell us stuff, or who work through us. For others, it may just be this other place in us, and when we speak or act from it, there is some kind of deeper wisdom or insight there, that may not even make sense to us at the time, but we learn to trust it. The so-called 'mid-life crisis' (which can go on and on - see The Middle Passage by James Hollis) has a resonance of this type of ordeal.
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As an astrologer, I encounter these trials in the form of Neptune and Pluto acting on people's charts. I had my own experience of Pluto for much of the 90s: after 10 years running Buddhist institutions, I was unable to do anything for several years. Anything I tried to do wouldn't work. And it was like the plug on my life-force had been pulled. I realised that it is not 'I' who lives, it is something from deeper within that calls the shots, and it was saying we're not going to let you carry on in that wilful way, we're going to fuck with you until you listen to us. And there was this deep, magical pull towards that other voice. 

Abdominal Surgery

At the same time, I felt like I’d had major abdominal surgery, and that I’d been brought about as low as I could be, to this faraway place. And after a few years I had a dream telling me to pursue shamanism - as well as something else, which was a trick dream that catapulted me out of my old life.

And since then there has always been this place within me that is a kind of dark wisdom, that I can forget about sometimes, but when I'm coming from there I am aligned with my life. It is the glittering eye of the ancient mariner. And in the last few years it's been happening all over again, but under Neptune's rule, and I'm still in the thick of it, so I can't say too much. But it's been like this overwhelming call that I haven't quite known what to do with.

Pluto with his hellhound
The classic story behind Pluto, who is Lord of the Underworld, is that one day he abducted Persephone, daughter of the nature goddess Ceres, who went into mourning and the earth went into permanent winter. Eventually it got sorted, but Persephone was by now Pluto's wife, and spent half her time in the underworld.

So this is a good way of understanding the shaman's illness. There is another side to life, beyond what is presented to us by society, and you can be taken there forcibly by the demands of the spirit, which has no regard for conventional niceties and sanities. And in a deeper kind of way, you grow up, move on to the next stage - as did Persephone, in becoming Pluto's wife.

A traditional society understands this ruthless dimension to Spirit. As Holger Kalweit writes in Shamans, Healers and Medicine Men: 

“The suffering and exhaustion that accompany a vision quest do not correspond to the mild and gentle style of modern psychotherapy. Westerners do not want to have to exert themselves to solve their problems.” (p102)

And Goethe understood what happens if you resist the call:

“And so long as you haven't experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.”

So this initiatory journey that the shaman undergoes isn't just about acquiring magical powers under duress. I don't think it is like that. The main emphasis is on the development of psychological depth, in the sense of moving beyond the narrow, conventional self that tells us how to live, and whose rules are shared by the other members of society. That kind of living is 'normal', it gives a kind of psychological security to many people, and it is necessary for the stability of society.

But that ain't what the shaman lives by. No, he/she has another loyalty, a deeper loyalty, that is not to the rules and 'shoulds' of the tribe, but to the spirits, to the daimon, to the Otherworld, to the Jungian Self. And that other place to which we have our loyalty is more real, for it recognises that the world isn't what it seems, it is not to be taken at face value, for it is only one pole of existence, the other being the spirit world, and these 2 poles are profoundly interconnected. The world is not an absolute, it is fluid.

So it is this loyalty to the Otherworld that is the real qualification to be a healer - or whatever. It is the shaman's wholehearted response to the imperatives of the Otherworld and its values that make him/her a shaman. Once you have that new basis to your life - that look in your eye - then the spirits will allow you to be a healer, or require you to be.

Of course, this is a kind of ideal scenario, because we are human, and we fuck up, and sometimes people have real healing abilities who seem in other respects to be such messes.

But the principle remains, and it is the 'depth psychology' of shamanism referred to in the title. It involves a radical turning about, so that the guiding principle of our lives becomes not what society expects, nor is it based on our personal desires, but on a commitment to something beyond us, that also is us, and that is more real than a purely conventional notion of existence ever can be.

It is a completely different basis for living, and that is why the shaman's illness can take him/her to death's door: the conventional, which is so deep-rooted, has to die. It can almost be like I cannot continue to live like I have been, so how can I live? And the answer is there within, and always has been.