The following is a brief excerpt from an interview I did with Adam Sommer – followed by some current reflections.
AS: I love that idea. I’ve thought a lot about how astrology helps us to evolve as human beings, and what comes to mind right now is its ability to contextualize a person’s life experiences. Astrology can help people begin to see past events in their lives as meaningful, even though they often appear to be random and challenging.
MJ: I feel that’s an incredible service. One of the primary things to emerge in my astrology readings is the acknowledgement, and then validation, of what’s already happened to someone. It provides a seemingly objective, archetypal validation of the soul issues and psychic material they’ve come into this life to resolve. This is even more important when I work with older people who have lived a large part of their lives already; the reading is not going to be about a new star on the horizon, or what will happen when they grow up. They’ve already had many life experiences that they may or may not understand.
So, I think you’re right about the sense of meaning the chart can bring. I read a science book recently where the author compared a sensible idea to a stupid idea. The example cited astronomy as the sensible idea and astrology as the stupid idea. It was an otherwise good book, but, yet again, astrology gets ridiculed! It’s ironic to me that in our materialist, rational culture, the things that get ridiculed often carry enormous beauty and meaning. I experience over and over in my therapy sessions with young, intelligent, kind, moral people with successful jobs that they’re struggling to find a sense of their own meaning, of who they are and why they are here. What we’ve lost in all the brilliance of these vast technological advances in our world is our sense of meaningful participation in the larger cosmos.
As I reflect on the above – a section from a podcast I did with Adam Sommer that was turned into an interview for The Mountain Astrologer – I am struck by one of the central problems of the modern age: that we have more technology in our cell phones than in the Apollo spaceships and yet bubbling under the surface of our technologically advanced, and in many ways protected lives, we have an underlying problem with existential angst and a day-to-day experience of anxiety and pressure that is manifesting as a mental health crisis, a drug epidemic (legal and otherwise) and a struggle to find a consistent sense of purpose in even many of the brightest and best.
Whatever the world thinks of astrology – and sometimes the field does not help itself (with its wild claims and distinctly selective data testing) – it carries implicit within it a sense of the meaning and joy of the birth of the human child into this living and sacred cosmos. The natal chart itself comes into existence with the first breath and, more importantly, it is an acknowledgement of the meaning and purpose contained within that first breath. Astrology itself implies (even if every astrologer does not explicitly say so) that the birth of a human being is a meaningful act of creation through the powerful work and gift of the mother, who, in bringing a child into the world, brings the child’s fate or destiny into the world at the same time: the soul’s journey woven like a tapestry into the symbolism of the natal chart.
This is why Dane Rudhyar – when contemplating that essential question “how can Astrology truly help people” wrote;
“How can astrology help a person while in the process of integration and self-liberation, and in fulfilling his or her destiny? Not by the negative device of telling what is wrong with the human nature of the person, or by foretelling future events. Help here means guidance along the lines marked by the essential structure of the birth-chart and the whole solar system at the time of birth, and also as the process of individuation and destiny-fulfillment unfolds year by year. The guidance must be based on a holistic perception of the chart or charts being considered. It must be an attempt to make as clear as is possible, at the time and under the circumstances of the contact with the individual, what the chart indicates to be the best possibilities of action or reflection and meditation.” (from humanistic to transpersonal astrology – available for free from khaldea.com)
Note that Rudhyar equates action, reflection and meditation. In that equation, he is emphasizing that the meaning of life is frequently found in living it, and not just on the material plane (of apparent success or failure in the world) but in the psychic plane of meaning and the spiritual plane of wisdom. He is alluding to the fact that astrology and the natal chart can help us understand and accept our place in the Cosmos as much as it can point to a particular path of action and that this acceptance of our place in the grand scheme of things is just as important than said action. So for Rudhyar astrology is not about good or bad planets, about predicting our course of action rather it is about guiding us into the best possible orientation to our life experience, understanding our purpose as an individual in relation to all of the rest of life and above all promoting a sense of acceptance of the precious value of our brief life on this green earth, beneath these luminous stars. And that, in my ways of seeing things, is a beautiful thing.