It is helpful to understand how much life has changed in the past 200-400 years for the average person. Many of us might take these significant changes for granted. What was the average lifespan in 1600? Some have suggested it was around 45 years. If a person lived until they were 50 or 60 years of age they were considered to have lived a long life. Moreover, life was always tenuous. To make it through the winter was never a certainty. There was great fear of crops failing, plagues killing large numbers of people and livestock, and the ever-present fact or possibility of war. Fear of starvation was a very real thing to our ancestors. People lived with death every day of their lives in ways we do not appreciate today.
Astrology reflected these facts of life. The practice of astrology was regarded by many as a reliable form of information that was used to predict concretely many things such as, what the winter would look like, whether or not there would be war or a famine, etc. People went to an astrologer for concrete predictions and would act accordingly. Astrology helped people prepare for what they thought was coming. This view of how astrology should be practiced still exists today. For example, there is one astrologer in England today that regards the only role of astrology is only to concrete predictions. He calls it ‘real astrology.’ Any other kind is dismissed. Many in the astrological community also feel this way. There is even a revival of medieval and ancient astrology, sometimes at the expense of a new, modern view. This view may be simplistic to more psychologically oriented astrologers, but we may want to remember that psychology itself only began in 1850 and is still truly in its infancy. The notion that the ‘unconscious’ exists at all began just over 100 years ago as the theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung became known and somewhat popular. Thus, psychology itself is actually a very recent phenomenon. Also, the field of psychology has been fighting from the beginning to establish itself as a science. It has resisted any attempts to link it with religion, spirituality or any concerns with Soul. This is why many in psychology today still reject the works of Carl Jung and other psychologists who delve into the fields of depth or transpersonal psychology. And, the idea of combining psychology with astrology was been rejected out of hand. There has not been openness to even looking at the question of whether astrology could offer anything to the psychology and therapy, until recently. This is why we do not hear more about the great value astrology can make to psychology and therapy today. The times are changing however, for there is a stirring of something new on the horizon.
Astrological counseling is a relatively recent practice that is just coming into the open. Universities like Pacifica Graduate Institute, California Institute of Integral Studies, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and many others, are paving the way for this newly emerging field to gain both public awareness and credibility. I am grateful to offer this service in addition to the astrology classes being taught as an opportunity for you to have the chance to avail yourself of the many advantages of this new field of practice.
Linking Astrology with Depth and Transpersonal Psychology
There are some people who may be moved to choose a non-ordinary path that goes beyond the modern views of psychology. This type of person is asking different questions and wants different things from life. They are asking questions such as, “What steps can I take to grow spiritually?” Counseling for this type of person will include the development of an awareness of one’s conditioning or programming and the effort to release that conditioning in favor of the adoption of ‘higher’ viewpoints and considerations. Why? Because the old programming is seen as blocking us from becoming all that we are capable of being. While the discovery of the nature of one’s programming is also a part of the normal therapeutic process, in transpersonal psychology it takes a prominent place in the work one must do and is considered to be a necessary prelude to developing truly new viewpoints.
Two new fields are emerging in psychology today that have tremendous potential in the way that astrology will be practiced in the future. To me the two fields are not separate in that they are both concerned with helping people achieve a higher level of understanding about both themselves and the world in which they live. Their histories are different, however. Depth psychology has developed from the work of Dr. Carl Jung, who was very focused on developing a theory that would integrate the conscious and unconscious minds of a person. He saw that in each of us is both our own personal unconscious and even deeper still, the ‘collective unconscious.’ This meant to him that all of us by virtue of our being human share archetypally, the same collective issues and themes. He saw that these themes emerge in us through our dreams as well as in our daily lives.
The aim of Jung’s approach is to help a person widen their perspective so that a state of holism and integration can be reached. This is a process he called ‘individuation.’ What I took from my studies and practice of his work is that the individuation process enables a person to expand their view of life from being involved only with personal ego, a small way of living and being in the world to an understanding that one is participating in an archetypal world, of which they are a part. To become aware of how this is operating, one can become able to consciously live the highest expression of their specific nature, which is archetypal and is indicated by one’s birth chart. We can consciously seek to attune with the spiritual qualities of each archetypal theme until our lives are both ennobled and empowered. ‘Individuation’ is also considered to be concerned with living in a holistic and integrated way. In part, this can be achieved by assisting the patient to become conscious of his ‘Shadow’, or unconscious desires and motivations, so that one could accept them and integrate them into the personality in a constructive, rather than destructive way. Interestingly, Jung kept some of his metaphysical/spiritual beliefs and interests quiet so that his work might be accepted by mainstream psychiatry. In his later years, he became much more open and even published a book titled “Synchronicity” which is essentially an astrological analysis that was beautifully done.
Transpersonal psychology developed differently, though they seem to me to express two sides of one process. Many people familiar with the history of transpersonal psychology are shocked to discover that the person who first coined the term was the astrologer, Dane Rudhyar. He did this in 1930, some 40 years before the time when these ideas began to take root. This fact is only known by a few people in psychology or astrology. In fact, few astrologers are aware of the nature of Rudhyar’s great contributions.
There are several definitions of transpersonal psychology, but the one I offer to you is this. Transpersonal psychology is concerned with the process whereby human beings can become vehicles for the qualities and powers of the Divine, wherein we begin to embody these qualities and become aware of our own divine nature. The second important idea is that the human being is not yet complete, or even fully human. We are still evolving. This idea suggests something very important, which is that when we work on ourselves, we are also working for humanity itself. We begin to see that when a person progresses spiritually, the entire world is helped. There is much more to this field than these two ideas, but this will give you a good start.
My Astrological counseling practice is founded on the idea that I will meet clients where they are. Some are not interested in the transpersonal approach and this is fine. However, there are some who are seeking to self-actualize or grow to higher levels of consciousness. Astrology united with spiritual counseling can be very helpful in this process. The implication of this view is that the following fundamental question must be asked. “Why am I not aware of my divine nature?” This means that this type of work requires a deep examination of one’s conditioning or programming which is seen as blocking us from experiencing our own true, divine nature so that we prepare ourselves for an opening to truly new ways of Being.