I recently returned from a personal workshop and talk with the wonderful Stars community in Minneapolis and from a very successful time at the Norwac Conference in Seattle where I gave a small workshop, some talks and a keynote talk, The Price of Healing. In addressing the entire community I attempted to draw meaningful observations from my experience of being an Evolutionary Astrologer alongside my experience of being a Transpersonal Therapist and Hypnotherapist in private practice. I made some notes before the keynote talk. I never normally do this but I sensed the importance of the topic. Of course when I got into my flow during the talk I never even looked at the notes. I enclose, unedited the notes I made below. They now look like a related but different topic than the one I spoke on and I enclose them here.
Worldview or Basic Ground – as Astrologer’s we have some kind of interest or faith in human potential or we would not bother to look at charts, certainly for others, or really for our own development.
Ernest Becker – cultural projects as attempts at immortality – the ego seeking to deny death and establish significance. It is in this heroic project that the seeds of aggression and destruction can be sown on the individual and collective level. My immortality project, my religion, my science, my version of astrology is the way…
Death of the heroic ideal – Transformation of the heroic ideal as central to the Astrology of Liberation and arguably to the community as a whole.
- The linear mind cannot conceive of the whole of reality
- We generate multivalent symbolisms to deal with this problem with reality
- The map is not the territory. A good map is just a doorway to the territory
- Astrology is, at best, a doorway to the real…
- People respond well to encouragement of their potential
- Astrology can encourage this potential, or it can become a defence against it
Astrology as defence
- Rationalization as defence: with your Venus-Pluto it is so interesting that you were abused…
- The notion of abreaction: to cry or be touched is a problem to be cleaned up.
- The Causal delusion: overt – my Mars transit caused me to have a fight with my friend. Subtle – looking to chart to validate personal success or cosmic position.
- Magician complex – the astrologer seeks to prove astrology through their acrobatics – don’t tell me anything about yourself let me show you what astrology can tell you about you.
The Importance of Transference
Although it is obvious that a deeper transference will develop in long-term psychotherapy work it does apply potentially to the one off astrology consultation and it seems particularly remiss that this is not focussed on in the astrological community:
- Transference can begin with a phone call or even an email
- Transference can evoke a physical similarity with figures from a persons past, through looks, tone of voice or body language. Looking like someone’s relative can be a very mixed blessing.
- Transference can evoke sensitive gender issues. Someone maybe very uncomfortable or overly eager to discuss certain subjects with a certain gender astrologer or therapist.
- Simply by being the ‘Astrologer’ of ‘Therapist’ that the supplicant-client comes to for advice indicates the potential for parent-child transference in the power imbalance of the relationship.
The Importance of Counter-Transference
- If I am treated like the client’s father I may through some unconsciousness of my behalf start to act the way that father used to act. I may find myself telling the client off in a manner that I never would normally do, as I am hooked in the pull of their transference
- The relationship in the room is a ‘third force’ – the relationship is a field effect and evokes the unconscious of the two participants as well as the consciousness.
- Where two or more are gathered in my name. The power of the field to hold the transpersonal dimension.
Science/Religion and Astrology: all are symbols, all are myth making. Religion overt mythology of a particular culture holds the revelatory potential of the transpersonal. Science uses mathematics as its own symbol language and attempts to formulate symbolic formula in order to create natural laws for the physics of nature. Standard Cosmological Model for example which can explain and predict how galaxies form with astonishing accuracy – yet has anomalies, so it cannot account for the level of spin the galaxies for which dark matter has to be invented….
Newtonian universe to a relative universe. Heisenberg’s uncertainty paradox. The limitation of the observing mind to catch the reality. Astrology is another such impossible attempt to capture the potential of each moment – not through the wave-particle paradox but through the symbolic formation of a map for every space-time event. Such attempts are critical to human evolution and understanding and yet they are always doomed to fail – reality itself in all its Mystery will always outshine the explanations.
The Human Factor
- No matter how well prepared for a reading or class you are there will always be surprises – the surprise of the ‘other’. Can we allow the I-Thou (Buber) of that encounter or are we so narcissistically wounded and controlling that we try always to control the student or client to fit our will.
- No matter how brilliant your approach or how interesting the client the pragmatic reality of astrological counselling is that only a handful of key points from the reading will be retained. What are they? Can we help underline them for the client? Are we prepared that our very human response to their suffering might be a part of those key remembered points as much as a detailed analysis of their progressions?
- Most people who come for a reading are stuck in some way (this is slightly more overt in psychotherapy but only slightly…) Even if a person professes that they are coming just to be open to what Astrology has to offer is at least implying a certain degree of doubt or confusion about their future. And why shouldn’t they! Who does not experience such feelings?
Stuckness can refer to a number of important points
- A core issue that the reading may actually help illuminate or even resolve. The Evolutionary Axis of the chart (Pluto and the Nodes) or the relationship between Saturn and Uranus can symbolically show a great deal about that potential. The chart of the exact appointment time cross referenced to the natal chart can show a lot of what is possible in terms of what the person might be able to absorb in the reading.
- Stuckness may refer what we might call generally existential issues, sexuality, spirituality, how to find meaningful work without joining the rat race which are simply big themes in many peoples lives. As often as not they need to be lived through as much as changed, though small adjustments might be realistic.
- Stuckness may refer to a personality disorder or mental health issue of a more serious kind. For example a borderline personality disorder. This may then become its own issue. Whilst an astrologer need not be a therapist – as both myself I would advocate that the astrological counsellor learn about the BPD, NPD and the various social anxiety disorders and eating disorders and have requisite literature on these subjects.