Monday, September 10, 2012

Astrology: Interpretation or Propitiation?

I have had Jung’s idea of the objective reality of the psyche in my mind today. It sort of inverts the usual way we think about things, in that the mind is by definition subjective, and everything else ‘out there’ is objective.
So what it is saying is that the mind is not us. Kind of.  Or rather psyche, the Greek word for soul (which psychology would do well to remember.) The psyche is ‘out there’, it is not under our control. It has its guiding presences, separate to our usual notions of our self, which have been there all along.

If you think about it, what we think and do is emotionally based. We do things because we want to. We are not in control of what we want, it presents itself and we act.

I am in control of my thinking, up to a point. But I am thinking about this subject, writing about it, because I want to. And the wanting came from somewhere else.

Poor human beings, thinking they are in control! We are like the froth on the ocean. But there is a powerful, meaningful, numinous presence there that makes sense of everything once we see we are the froth. A bit more than froth, but not a lot more.

I often say that the planets in astrology are the different bits of us. I suppose that is a good starting point. But they are also not bits of us. They are separate from us, they have their own life, they are gods. All the significant forces within us are not us. We are each directors in our own play. The script is there, and we can be creative with it up to a point. The actors are there, and each actor needs to be left to play his/her part in their own way. With us, the director, paying full attention.

So I think when it comes to chart interpretation, we can either see the chart as ‘my’ psychology (which has its place), or as a bunch of gods that need to be propitiated. This is clearest when it comes to the outer planets, Uranus Neptune and Pluto. These planets are invisible to the naked eye and are therefore outside the bounds of ordinary consciousness.

I wrote a piece a couple of years ago in which, looking for a direction forward, I did a ritual to Neptune. It took me, on and off, a couple of days driving around Cornwall. 2 weeks later we had found a house to move to (although that hadn’t been my specific intention), the move went smoothly, and a new life slowly began.

Neptune is what you imagine, what you dream, and at the time (as now also) I was undergoing some major Neptune transits.

So that can be the way of it. We may not know the way forward, but the gods surely do.

During that ritual time, Mars turned up in my van one night. Huge, in his armour. So the inner planets as well, they are not us. I think that Pluto, who turns up regularly, was also there. Yeh, he just told me. I remember now.
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And it’s about bringing astrology away from numbers and towards a relationship with the gods. Because that’s what astrology is about, it is about creating this living relationship. If astrology draws you, it is the gods drawing you, commanding you, even, taking you to your encounter with fate.

Astrology cannot be learnt in classes, though they can help. You become an astrologer when, like the tribal shaman, the gods choose you. They may make you ill until you learn to listen. They can keep you ill for decades if necessary, or keep your life just not working whatever you try. That is what I think a lot of these modern diseases like ME are: they are soul diseases. But we do not have the elders or the traditions to recognise it.

And to be an astrologer, you need to know something. Real knowledge that only the gods can give you, often by tearing your old life apart, getting you to look beneath the surface of life, beneath the conventional wisdoms and superficial judgements. You taste the dark earth.

This is why astrology’s search for respectability is such a fool’s errand. The judgements of the market place, of the academy, of science, of the man in the street, of institutional religion are superficial. They do not hear the same drum. Their considerations are more obviously practical, and in a way that is fair enough. Religion included: its concerns are largely influence and control. And that includes astrology-as-religion.

If the gods have their eye on you, if Pluto has abducted you, you cannot live by the same rules as other people. Your gaze is turned somewhere else. You can pretend to be normal, but people will often feel there is something different about you. And it’s really important not to care about what other people think, and really important to care what the gods think, so to speak. It can be difficult not to mind what others think, but learning that is central, it forges who we are. Without that, where is the pressure to change? It’s a matter of loyalties and where they lie.

 And there is such freedom in this. It’s not like the gods ‘telling’ you what to do. It’s more like you are free, as Jung put it, to do what you have to do. The spirit is free. But again, this is easier said than done, because where are the usual sources of security, what can you hold on to? It’s rather like death and why we’re afraid of it. But if your life is those gods, then I don’t think it matters if you are alive or dead.

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gawd_almighty said...

Stirring stuff. It reminded me of something I heard recently in an astrology lecture: "Enlightenment is the ego's greatest disappointment" - a line we would all do well to meditate on for a few years or so. I am one of those people who has suffered from a 'soul disease', as you put it, and I agree that it was that very disease that pushed me in the direction I needed to go, a route diametrically opposed to the demands of my ego.

Darren said...

So how does one listen to these gods/forces? How do you go about it?

Dharmaruci said...

I don't know, really. You just follow the things you really want to do.

reikimargaret said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. Your insights and words rocked my Pluto in the first house conjunct my ascendent and gave me some peace of "mind" to keep going down this path to which I am lead. Cheers.

Kate Sholly said...

Reading your blog is amazingly synchronous with my experience the last 48 hours. I've been reading a book by Jeffrey Raff, called "Jung and the Alchemical Imagination." He describes what he has done to listen to these inner forces — the Self, the planets, whatever we prefer to call them (or it). What you say about the ego accepting its truer status as "froth" is the essential step — our surrender and dedication to living the desires of our wholeness. And how beautifully those parts show up in astrology charts and give us the opportunity to imagine what is being asked of us and the meaning of our difficult life experiences. I'd sure like to see this subject worked into a brief article. I admire your honesty and courage to put these ideas forth. Nobody enjoys the thought of letting go on this level, and, consequently, astrology is still mainly used to help us make gains for the ego's desires.
Kate S.

Nic said...

Lovely post, a joy to read as I watched my inner landscape. It is a honest conversation that sets the reader free.
Yes, we do what we want when moved by emotions. But, we can also do what we want when moved by the mind and the will. All three are powerful sources to move on with life and evolve. They have their own light, their own way of expressing the gods energy.

Sara said...

"You can pretend to be normal, but people will often feel there is something different about you. And it’s really important not to care about what other people think."
Is that why those two creeps who mugged me on my own back steps suddenly looked terrified and ran away, back in 1987? Geezo pete, DR, they ran as if I'd brandished a flaming sword at them, and they had a gun. I had nothing. I've never seen people suddenly look so terrified, and all I did was stare at them.
Good column. Your insight keeps me coming.

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed your writing for a long time, but that was just about the best post ever.