Today’s newsletter is going to be a bit different than most. Yes, it will be about astrology, but I’d like to share my personal experience of Saturday’s Inferior Conjunction between the Sun and Mercury. First, let me say that on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 12:58pm PDT, the Sun and Mercury aligned together. It is called the Inferior Conjunction when it occurs while Mercury is retrograde. It usually occurs in the middle of the Mercury retrograde cycle and can bring about a shift that can be important for us, especially if we can be aware of it. What can happen is that a new ‘seed’ idea can arise within us than has the potential of taking off and leading us into a new direction. Yes, Mercury will continue to be retrograde, but that only means that there is more to process as we attempt to integrate the new idea into our consciousness.
For me, this several day period was intense as I was feeling pushed to clarify issues that I have been concerned with for a long time and wanted to better understand. The issue began with what the nature of the comet Chiron actually is. It has been long termed the ‘wounded healer’, which is fine, but has always felt incomplete. The research then led into some very interesting and unexpected territory.
Chiron was discovered in Pasadena in 1977. Astrologers look closely at what is going on at the time of any planetary body is discovered to help define the nature of that archetypal force. However, sometimes what is happening is still below the surface, so any immediate attempt to know the meaning of a new force, requires patience and some humility. What astrologers did was look at the mythology around Chiron and try to interpret from that what that body represents. But, mythology is not the only way to know about these things and, in fact, can be misleading. First of all, Chiron, a very unusual centaur, was a healer, long before he was wounded. He was also an immortal being. To only call him a ‘wounded healer’ is just off the mark, unless that wound is different in nature from what we think of usually.
Armed with these questions, I began research with some help from one of my students who sent me a link to a wonderful article written by Candy Hillenbrand. She had time on her side and noticed that in 1977 several things occurred which could tell us a great deal about Chiron, beyond the notion of the wounded healer. One in particular was the work of Ken Wilber who began publishing his books in 1977 and which continue to this day. Wilber, who was first referred to as a champion of transpersonal psychology, began to object to the clashes within that movement and changed his terminology to ‘integral’ psychology and then even began to cease using the term psychology which he regards as a dying field.
What was interesting to me is that Wilber spoke often of what he called the Centauric level of consciousness. Yes, this was occurring at the time that Chiron was discovered. He referred to it as “the great level of the Human Potential Movement, of Existentialism, of Humanistic therapy, all of which take as their assumption the integration of mind, body, and emotions into a higher-order unity, a ‘deep totality.'” Paralleling this insight is the fact that the human potential movement really began to flourish about the time of Chiron’s discovery in 1977, and, as mentioned earlier, Wilber’s first book (The Spectrum of Consciousness) also appeared at that time.
Wilber has attempted to create a unified, integrated system, but for reasons that I can only guess at has refused to include astrology. Wilber is as inclusive as it gets, but there’s no room for astrology? Why? Well, this is where it gets personal for me, because my sense of this is that his understanding of what astrology is about is pretty much the same as the average person. Astrology is and certainly has been predictive in nature. That would totally violate not only Ken Wilber’s sensibilities, but anyone who was aligned with the Humanistic or human potential movement, which has been growing ever since the 70’s.
It has been my view that the teaching and practice of astrology is antiquated. It is unacceptable to the mainstream Western mind in many, many ways. We live in a world that not only values free will, but more importantly, often makes efforts to overcome the programming from early childhood that blocks our ability to grow even more free and able to make better choices so we can progress, grow and self-actualize. If this is what Wilber objects to, then I’m on board with that. I reject it too.
The irony of this is that I began seriously studying astrology around the time Chiron was observed. And, from the beginning I was also studying Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and the astrologer Dane Rudhyar. To me they were all coming from one basic set of ideas. And even though I was living in Kansas, I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. I was at odds with most astrologers from the very first.
Predictive or deterministic types of astrology emphasize the past and future, not the present. And it is only in the present that we can do anything to develop and grow personally. Predictive astrology places each of us as effects of an impersonal, clockwork universe where there is no freedom or choice. As Hillenbrand says, “the preoccupation of the predictive astrologer is certainly to ‘stand tiptoe to foresee the future.”If we translate these Humanistic concerns of spontaneous freedom, choice, and focusing on the present, to the practice of astrology, we can see that a Humanistic astrological approach must necessarily embrace such qualities. On the other hand, a “predictive” or deterministic type of astrology and this includes natal as well as dynamic approaches, will tend to emphasize the past and the future. She states further that ‘the emphasis is on what might happen, on fatedness and forecasting events, not on what is. Spontaneity is thrown to the winds and in its place we find an obsession with predicting and preparing for an unknown future. This kind of astrology totally takes us out of the present and out of having power to influence anything.
So, what does this mean for astrology? It doesn’t have to mean that astrology must be dropped from one’s thinking, as Wilber believes. It means instead that astrology must go through a paradigm shift. This is where Dane Rudhyar comes in as he provided that very thing. Candy’s article mentions him as well. Rudhyar wrote many books and articles, but the impact of his work didn’t develop until the 70’s and early 80’s. Some of his greatest work was shortly before his death with the publishing of “Beyond Individualism” and “Rhythm of Wholeness.” Rudhyar was able to build a bridge between astrology and the human potential movement as he broke free from the old ways of predictive astrology. Instead, he thought in terms of holism and cycles of action, from which a person could learn and grow as they took up the challenges of life.
What Hillenbrand saw was that Chiron was very significant in Rudhyar’s chart. It is conjunct his mid-heaven, opposed his Sun and trined a Mars, Neptune, Pluto conjunction in Gemini. This brings us back to Wilber’s references to Centauric or Existential levels of consciousness and its bridge to higher levels of consciousness. To both Rudhyar and Wilber life is lived in the moment and is best lived when we face our fears, especially the fear of death. If we recoil and become ‘careful’ we hold back, inhibit and freeze our entire being. There is no vision, no risks, and no growth.
This is the clarity that this Inferior Conjunction brought to me. It took me over and overwhelmed me in its exciting concepts that can completely change how astrology is seen and practiced. This is the essence of the way I teach and is the mission of this School. Astrology can become a tool for transformation and growth. Just not in the way it has been practiced in the past. Chiron seems to have brought us to a new day for humanity and astrology can take its rightful place in that emergence. And now I understand that Chiron has been a huge part of my own process the entire time.
You can read Candy Hillenbrand’s article here: