Friday, May 06, 2022

Embodying the Sky Spirits

 I do Astrology. And I also do Shamanism. They are both in my bones, and they don't feel separate. Shamanism tells us that we belong to the natural world, and that world is alive, it is inspirited. That includes rocks and water. And the sky: that is where astrology comes in. If you are an astrologer, then your spirits - at least, some of them - are in the sky.

The ancients knew this. The sky spoke to them. Nowadays, we have to make a case for it. The sky spirits tell us stories about ourselves. When we do a reading for someone, we are passing on some of those stories, because we have the gift of listening to the sky. The sky stories about other people also speak to us. There can be sky stories about the world too: that is mundane astrology.

In a way, it is no different to reading a novel or watching a film. They too tell us stories, they may be about other people, but they are also about ourselves, which is why they grip us. The novelists and film directors are also passing on stories from the spirits, but they wouldn't put it like that, not nowadays. Maybe they don't have words for where the stories come from, or maybe they call it the Unconscious. Whatever they call it, it is a special place, a sacred place, even, that creative centre in you from where the stories come unbidden.

As an astrologer, you get a sense of the planets speaking through you. You can't pin it down, and you can't say exactly what came from your head and what came from the planets/spirits. It's not like that. But they are there as presences, one way or another. This is inspiration, which means to breathe in: we are breathing in spirit.

I offer Zoom astrology readings, by donation. Contact: BWGoddard1 (at) My books, Surfing The Galactic Highways and The Medicine Wheel are available for pre-order on Amazon (or by post from me now.)

Astrology easily becomes cerebral, because it is a complex subject. There are ten different planets, 12 Houses, 12 Signs, and a range of aspects between the planets. There are also any number of asteroids and techniques.

Complexity gives us more information, it gives us nuance. But it easily also takes us away from the felt symbolism. The stronger you are feeling the symbolism, the more the sky spirits can speak through you. In a way, you don't need more than the Sun and the Moon. We have such a strong relationship with them, that goes back hundreds of thousands of years. When we tell sky stories, we are also drawing on their collective power that has built up over time, which is a mysterious and wonderful thing. 


 If you call your chart to mind, and picture where the Sun and the Moon were on the sky at the moment you were born, that will tell you something that is both simple and powerful. You may not have words for it, but in a way that doesn't matter. It is the feeling of connection to that powerful god and powerful goddess that matters.

 Everything you need to know about yourself is in that felt sense. That sense of the planets is physical, visceral. This is something we can be shying away from in the retreat into complexity. It is easier to juggle concepts in our head: the felt sense makes demands of us, and maybe we can only take so much of that.

 For myself, this is where Shamanism comes in. Shamanism takes the spirits seriously. It would have no truck with anyone attempting to make astrology 'scientific', as though these magical stories can be reduced to simple, repeatable concepts that validate our art. That is a grotesque idea. It disrespects the spirits. It is hubris.

But even with Shamanism, we are limited by our cultural background, that in the Middle Ages divided Body and Spirit, and then perpetuated that division through the modern scientific split between Body and Mind. The split came about because people used to dance in churches. I kid you not, it seems so unlikely. But that is what they did in the Middle Ages, alongside the priest. (See 'Dancing in the Streets: a History of Collective Joy' by Barbara Ehrenreich.) When you dance, you become inspirited, you feel your own connection to the divine. And if you are trying to control people, as any religion worth the name will attempt to do, you can't have people making their own connection to the divine. So dancing was banned, and the body became the realm of the devil. Or, nowadays, the 'dead' matter that is the vehicle for our consciousness.

Not only did they ban dancing. Astrology too was proscribed as a practice that summoned demons. And of course, they were right. Astrology done properly does indeed summon the spirits, the gods, and they were seen as competition by the church.

Modern Shamanism exhibits the Body-Spirit split through the way contacting the spirits is taught: through lying still while a drum is beaten. It works, I am not dissing it. But Shamans in the far East dance when they go to the spirits: or rather, the spirits dance them.

Any kind of ceremony we can do honouring the sky spirits before we do a reading, or even look at our own chart, will invoke this felt sense of the planets, which is also a sacred feeling. We don't talk about it lightly, and certainly not to those who dismiss astrology.

You can let the planets-as-gods move through you through movement or 'dance' (which isn't quite the correct word). If Pluto moves through you, welcome him, but be also in awe: he doesn't come lightly and is liable to be ruthless, even brutal, in the way he changes your life. But always so that new life can push through.

Pluto and Neptune are the two outermost, and most recently discovered, of the astrological pantheon. One is below ground, ruling the Underworld; the other is the Ocean. They are also, obviously, in the sky. But part of the meaning of their arrival, perhaps, is to take astrology away from an ascensionist model, and into one of immanence, of incarnation, of embodiment, in which Saturn also plays a key part.

I will be co-leading a 5 day event in North Wales from 22-27 June 2022, entitled 'Embodying the Spirits', in which we shall, hopefully be edging out of the old cultural divide between Body and Spirit and into the spirit dream of our bodies. The spirits love to be embodied. It is suitable both for people who work shamanically and astrologers, since we all work with spirits. There are still a few places left

This retreat will combine embodiment journeying, dream sharing, ceremony and walks in Snowdonia.

The venue will be Cae Mabon, a magical and jaw-droppingly beautiful eco-retreat in North Wales: a fairy-tale village hanging on a steep hillside, with stunning views across to Snowdon.

Barry Goddard has been involved with shamanic practices for 25 years, and before that Buddhism for 16 years. He has recently published two books: The Medicine Wheel, and an astrological book, Surfing the Galactic Highways. He lives on Dartmoor.

Emma Edgington lives near London where she teaches shamanic journeying and healing and is the creative director at Knowing Healing Hub.

Prices vary from £299-£369 p/p with the option to camp or book shared accommodation. A 50% deposit is required to assure your booking. Prices include food and accommodation.

For all enquiries and bookings please email Barry at

1 comment:

Ant said...

i get the feeling uranus/neptune,and pluto are taking over saturn's role in guiding us,since now we have the internet represented by uranus,movies,and stuff that merges cgi,and reality represented by neptune,and groups like nations being undermined by groups represented by pluto,so no wonder nations like usa have a even higher stress level now than in our past,and younger groups here in the states are getting the most stressed,then nations in europe follow us in the high stress category,and if more insightful astrologers like you barry could help people adjust to this stress,since it seems the trio of u.n.p as in uranus,neptune,pluto seem to create fires in us,i wish we could down,since it seems like the next time these 3 get back to current seasonal positions what we consider nations like the u.s,and u.k might not be the same.