Understanding Astrology - The Basics Part 2
In an earlier post “Understanding Astrology -The Basics” I presented Astrology as a complex science and art different from how it is normally perceived in pop culture. In this post I want to touch upon what astrology does and why it is invaluable in self development and also how we understand world events.
It is not possible to understand astrology from a rigid science-materialist stand point, and this is one reason why the practise of astrology has been debunked over the years. Astrology challenges the current paradigm of a random godless universe, because everything about it implies a purposeful universe, rich with meaning, and imbued with intelligence; the practise of astrology implies that there is a hidden order in all apparent chaos, an idea now backed by Quantum Physics and a migration from science-materialism to panpsychism (the idea that the universe is essentially alive at all levels and not mechanical in nature)
There's a saying in astrology : millionaires don't use astrology, but billionaires do!
Astrology is deeply connected with natural law: universal principles or laws of the nature of reality i.e. existing non-changing conditions, which have their basis in nature, reality and truth, and which are not made or caused by humankind. The practise of astrology re-connects us to natural law, and in my view our survival as a species is dependent upon us all returning to live in accordance with nature, rather than against it as we mostly do today.
I’m not going to go too deep into how astrology might work, but suffice to say through observation and correlation it is clear that the movements of the planets and what they symbolise, consistently coincide with periods of change and development at a global scale, and these same planetary movements also coincide with life developments at a personal level using the birth chart.
Richard Tarnas, a professor of philosophy and psychology, covers extensively in his book Cosmos and Psyche, how planetary cycles correlate to cultural development throughout history. For example the cyclical relationship between Pluto and Uranus correlates time and time again with the emergence and progress of human rights movements, as well as technological advancements that have radically changed our world. The Saturn-Jupiter cycle is closely connected with the financial system and stock market.
In order to grasp astrology we need to become symbolically minded, which is linked to the right hemisphere of the brain. Symbols are multivalent; they embody several meanings at the same time. In astrology the prime symbols used are the planets and the star signs. Each star sign and each planet represent archetypes, a concept developed by psychoanalyst C.G Jung. Archetypes can be seen as the underlying patterns of all life experience; they are the invisible building blocks, which when combined, generate every aspect of our inner and outer reality; they form the blueprint of our personal existence.
The concept of Archetypes goes back at least to ancient Greek philosophy, and is a complex topic of its own, too large to cover in this post, but in essence astrology is able to track these archetypal forces and gain profound insight about why things unfold as they do.
Here are a few examples showing the multivalent nature of symbols:
Mars symbolises the innate urge within all of us to take action on our desires, it is the urge to separate from Source, and to become individual. On another level Mars correlates to sexuality, and our ability to assert ourselves in life. Other expressions of this archetype, especially when imbalanced, can be anger, frustration, selfishness, violence and the drive to dominate others.
Saturn symbolises structure and form, and it correlates to the experience of limitation. Limitation is a crucial part of life, without which there could be no experience of separateness e.g. individuality. One of the fundamental limitations is the experience of time; we are all born and we will all die at the physical level. Structures make possible the world around us, comprised of plants, rocks, buildings, roads, and society itself, replete with social customs, governments, financial systems, health care systems, communication systems, legal systems etc, all of which belong to Saturn’s domain. Structures organise around natural hierarchies and thus connect to the notion of authorities and the idea of inner authorship and self-determination. By extension relative to the patriarchal model, Saturn can symbolise the father or authority figure in one’s life. Negative expressions of this archetype can be a need to control everything, being too rigid and judgemental, and being closed to new life experiences.
Taurus symbolises the experience of embodiment and incarnation, and by extension to the impulse to survive, and thus how we relate to resources. At the heart of Taurus is the notion of core essential needs, without which we would not survive, and needs then become the basis of what we value. The Earth element aspect of Taurus, ties it to grounded practicality and the impulse to work with physical matter; to do things and to get things done. The earthy aspect of the sign also correlates to nature and Mother Earth, to food and the sensual pleasures of life such as sexuality as a procreative force, materialism and financial wealth accumulation.
The birth chart (natal chart) is much like a snapshot of the heavens in symbolic form, taken from the time and place we were born, and it provides a complex pattern of symbols. From one perspective the circle of the chart can be seen as the domain of the psyche itself, then divided up into sectors with the planets symbolising various functions within the psyche. The word psyche is of Greek origin meaning soul; the earliest researchers of the mind chose this word I think with erudite insight, and key psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud and C.G. Jung did much to further our understanding of the inner world.
We are so much more than our Sun-Sign
In this way, Venus in the chart represents our core essential needs, the nature of our values, and our approach to relationships, while Mars represents how we assert ourselves, our creative drive and our ability to take action in the world.
These functions are then flavoured by the star sign they happen to be in, and take on specific characteristics, for example Mars as the function of action taking can have very different characteristics from one person to another, which of course makes us who we are.
Mars in Aires ~ The Initiator: is impatient, impulsive, keen to take action, more likely to act without worrying too much about consequences, and feels frustrated if things are moving too slowly.
Mars in Capricorn ~ The Goal Getter: on the other hand will tend to be more cautious and considered, action taking will be tempered by the need to make plans and to follow rules or instructions. Action taking will also be applied to the need to set specific targets and goals, and unlike Aires, to consider possible outcomes and consequences.
Mars in Pisces ~ The Visionary: in contrast will have a lot less immediate energy and drive because the tendency is to flow with universal forces and not cut against them. The desire impulse is toward the spiritual and the transcendent.
The relationship between natal Mars and Venus sheds light on how we operate in terms of needs and desires. Do our desires coincide with needs, or are they opposed, where we need one thing and desire another? How the archetypes of Mars and Venus function within us, can be particularly significant in relationship issues, where the types of partners we find attractive may repeatedly fail to deliver on our needs, until we understand how to integrate these forces internally.
Perhaps the most useful part of astrology is not so much that we can see ourselves mirrored in the symbols of the chart, but more that through understanding the archetypes, we are able to decode the lessons we came here to learn, or put another way, we can better understand what we need to do in order to optimise our potential, through self awareness and self development.
For example in relationships, if one partner has Mars in Capricorn and the other Mars in Pisces, as both individuals become aware of this aspect of themselves, it becomes easier for the Mars in Capricorn person to understand why their partner isn't as driven to achieve goals and why they may spend a lot of time contemplating existence. On the other side the Mars in Pisces individual can begin to understand their partner's need to get things done, and to need more plans and be less comfortable just going with the flow. This simple awareness allows both partners to appreciate the other more, move into mutual respect and avoid relationship tensions based on lack of awareness.
In addition to this, transit charts, which map the position of the planets at any given time, can be brought together with the birth chart to map personal cycles of growth and development throughout life; we can learn more about where we are headed, and about the underlying purpose and meaning of life events, such as the loss of a job, or a house move, or even a death in the family. We can look back at past events and come to more acceptance as we gain insight as to why things happened the way they did. Following our transits can also prepare us for future events - not so much telling us what they will be, but rather to give us the tools and resources to meet our destiny as it unfolds.
Astrology offers us a means by which we can learn and appreciate the cosmos and our place in it. It teaches us how to honour life as it unfolds as a purposeful enterprise undertaken by the soul, which carries over from life to life. Understanding one's birth chart whether by oneself or with an adept astrologer, often initiates a profound and powerful change in one's life, where either we feel seen and understood perhaps for the first time in our lives, or suddenly we become aware of our inner reality in a whole new way. The more we study life through the lens of astrology, the more we see the underlying order of things, and the more we learn to relax into the life we were born to live.