What Astrology Is and Is Not
I understand astrology as supplying insight into the purpose for life rather than providing descriptions of the cause of its events, and look to the horoscope to find an inner meaning for inspiration regarding what to do rather than an external principle to blame for what has happened. And this is the way I think it works: there is a subjectively comprehended correspondence between one's perception of celestial movement and the personal experience of events as having meaning.
As we look for patterns we find them, ignoring what we are not looking for— their more random context— as not relevant; and this is precisely because they are not relevant. I believe this subjective association of the distant skies to our immediate selves is due to the accumulated layering (over the thousands of years of an evolving human condition) of mythic meanings associated with repeated observations of celestial patterns among the stars and celestial events such as the seasonal movements of the sun and the moon with their occasional eclipses.
In the earliest days, long before television, people would sit on hilltops and point out starry configurations for one another, inventing stories about how they came to be arranged that way. These stories were of course projections of human events into heaven that became eventually, concomitantly, reintrojected as heavenly validations of the continuing human experience. Every culture that I know of named the days of the week after the planets that moved through the skies, for instance, and every calendar sought to reconcile the differing orbits of the sun and moon.
If astrology can be thought of as a language, it can be thought of as the original psychological language, that is, a language that grew to describe and explain human nature, even as that human nature evolved, in an ongoing feedback mechanism that perpetually influenced what it observed. Just as whatever language a poem is written in will inevitably shape the poem, so astrology, to this day, seems to shape the psyche that it describes.
So it's not that there is an objective etiological correspondence between events in the sky and events on earth. Instead, locked within the human condition, we unconsciously establish a teleological relationship between the celestial events that we perceive and the personal events that we experience, in an attempt to find some kind of purposive meaning in what takes place in our lives.
Perhaps general principles such as nodal axes may have a theoretical interest well worth the research, but my own interests focus much more upon a specifically clinical, therapeutic circumstance. Most astrologers still pursue a diagnostic rather than a therapeutic approach to the birthchart: diagnosis (to my mind) conceptualizes an unresolved condition and names it, while therapy participates in the unresolved condition with the intention of bringing it to a resolution.
Back in the 1970s I developed a therapeutic method that came to be known as experiential astrology; it was designed to allow the client to experience the horoscope as a form of temenos, within which processes involving guided imagery and psychodrama encourage an emotional catharses by means of a conscious encounter with archetypal material encoded within the birthchart.
This is necessarily a subjective process that works directly with the individual client's existing psychological state. A student of mine once returned this process to the objective level of determining a diagnosis by situating himself (instead of the client) at the center of the client's horoscope and "channelling" the meaning that I would prefer the client discover for himself.
I make little use of astrology in my practice today, and that only on the anecdotal rather than the statistical level. That is, I do not make specific use of astrology unless a client were to refer to some subjective experience of it, which I would then explore in much the same way that I would explore the meaning of a dream, that is, to get at its significance as it is experienced by the client.
There is a problem with the academic belief that that which is fated can be revealed in advance by any purely intellectual pursuit; instead, I believe fate is revealed only by paying attention to (and participating with) the unwinding of destiny as it takes place, in real time. Fate is (I believe) the story that unwinds throughout the dialogue that inevitably takes place between our dreams and the world in which we find ourselves.
As our dreams are played out in the world they become changed, just as the world is changed by our dreams; any attempt to reason out an oracular preview of this great enterprise implies, I think, the sort of hubris that confuses the human mind and amuses the gods.
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