Monthly Archives: November 2013

Contemporary Astrology and the Big Picture: Linda’s Challenge

This comment on my last post from Linda Leinen, a faithful and much appreciated supporter, is so interesting that I thought I’d turn it into the next post! Linda blogs at The Task at Hand and her writing is brilliant. Check it out….

From Linda:

This isn’t a criticism, or even a cogent observation, because there’s too much I don’t know about all this. But my sense of things, after my years in Africa, is that some differences in culture and world view are so fundamentally different that a synthesis, a grand, overarching explanation for human behavior, just isn’t possible.

Part of the difficulty may also be an irony. The worldview of many Liberians I knew more closely resembles that of antiquity than of our modern culture. We no longer speak of the gods controlling every aspect of human behavior and worldly events – but some of my friends saw gods everywhere, determining almost mechanistically what was possible.

If I framed it as a question, I suppose it would be – how does modern astrology deal with cultures that haven’t even made it to pre-modern, let alone post-modern? It’s really an interesting thought.

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And an interesting question! I have been so busy dealing with the demands of the ‘real’ world this week that I haven’t had time to address your question in the virtual world until now.

Whilst reading the introduction to a new book pulling together the perspectives of a range of modern astrologers on Transpersonal Astrology, I came across this statement which strikes me as relevant in responding to your question:

“The emergence of a transpersonal perspective  (bringing together insights from the fields of psychology, progressive spirituality, the human potential movement, non-reductionist science, and philosophy), is reflected….in....an increased awareness that life is far more complex than can be appreciated by our immediate senses…..There is a palpable eagerness to seek alternative ways to understand the human condition and to expand our experience of life’s great mystery…..

As humans.we are clearly enveloped within a system not of our design but of an intelligence that transcends and includes us, as if we are each nerve cells in a larger brain. Incorporating the transpersonal perspective is an act of yielding to this broader reality instead of choosing to couch the phenomena of astrology in only familiarly personal ways….”

(Transpersonal Astrology Explorations at the Frontier (2013) Produced and Edited by Armand Diaz, Eric Meyers & Andrew Smith, pp 1,2)

This transpersonal perspective can be seen as flowing into the broad category of ‘archetypal cosmology’ which I talked about in the previous post. This mode of seeing proposes that the great archetypal patterns shaping human behaviour both at the individual and collective level, patterns revealed in the inter-relationship between planetary cycles and earthly life, are  in fact fundamental to the cosmos itself.

Viewed in this way, perspective on human culture in the broad sense, and individual life in the tiny sense, changes its locus from the personal to the transpersonal.

Thus the “grand, overarching explanation for human behavior” which you talk about in your question shifts: from the human world with its many, continually evolving viewpoints – depending on geographical location and mores –  to locating all life on tiny planet Earth within the vast teleology of an unfolding and evolving Cosmos.

Thus a truly contemporary astrology  can play its part, as Diaz, Meyers and Smith so eloquently put it, through “….  yielding to this broader reality instead of choosing to couch the phenomena of astrology in only familiarly personal ways….”

To ground this reflection in actual practice: as a contemporary, transpersonal astrologer I find it deeply supportive of my attempts to lead a meaningful life, to see the interweaving of the symbols in my personal horoscope with the ever-changing energies of the solar system in which we are temporally located, as an unfolding pattern charged with meaning, set in the context of a much Bigger Picture.

This challenges me to live out my tiny spark of energy in this vast Cosmos with as much conscious awareness and positive choice as I can manage.

My experience of clients coming to me for help is this: assisting them in seeing that this life’s grapples take place within a context of larger meaning where every positive effort – although we may not see its immediate fruit – helps the Bigger Picture to unfold, is greatly supportive to them.

Having a sense  that our tiny lives are a potentially useful and creative part of …. life’s great mystery….may not remove life’s difficulties, but it certainly empowers both me and my clients in coping with whatever life on planet Earth chooses to throw our way.

Linda, I hope this goes some way toward answering your question! It may be a little longer than you were expecting….

Zodiac

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800 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Armand Diaz, Eric Meyers & Andrew Smith 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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What is astrology? Part Two

To read “What is astrology? Part One”, click HERE

Modern-day astrology is very different from the fate-ridden pronouncements of the past. The twentieth century saw big shifts in our understanding of science, history and culture which moved us from the Modernist era of  ‘grand narratives’  describing with confidence and conviction the way we are as humans, to an altogether less certain set of perceptions.

Just as modern science has shown us that there can be no absolute objectivity since the presence of the observer can be shown to influence the outcome of the experiment, so we now live in a Postmodern era where we understand that we are embedded in the unfolding action of the plot of life on Earth. Thus we shape our ‘reality’ even as we are living it – and indeed recognise that there are probably many ‘realities’. Absolute truth is not what it once was!

Astrology, too, has moved with the times although there are still many reputable and respected practitioners who stick closely to traditional methods of interpretation and prediction rooted in antiquity. Knowledge of astrology doesn’t result in harmonious agreement – even if it is to differ! – amongst astrologers. Far from it. In that respect, we are just as riven with conflicts and disagreements as any other human group.

Modern psychology, rooted in the great insights of Freud and then Jung who was basically a mystic, more eclectic and open minded in his knowledge base than Freud, has had considerable impact on how astrology is now taught and practised.

C.G.Jung

C.G.Jung

In antiquity, the planets were seen as gods whose interaction with and action upon humans’ lives determined their fate. Jung’s great contribution to the modernising of astrology in the 20th century was his formulation – from the study of universal myth – of the concept of the collective unconscious, an updating of the ancient idea of the World Soul.

This collective unconscious comprises a group of energy patterns or archetypes, an idea taken from the Greek philosopher Plato, which are present in all cultures across the world and which shape every aspect of human behaviour.

Jung’s view was taken up by the first of the great psychological astrologers Dane Rudhyar in the middle decades of the twentieth century, and further developed by other astrologers, most notably well-known Jungian analyst, astrologer and author Liz Greene whose fusion of mythology, Jungian psychology and astrology further shaped the model known as Psychological Astrology which has become very influential in the thinking of many contemporary astrologers, myself included.

In recent years there have been further exciting steps forward into a synthesis, under the broad category of ‘archetypal cosmology’, which proposes that the great archetypal patterns shaping human behaviour both at the individual and collective level, patterns revealed in the inter-relationship between planetary cycles and earthly life, are  in fact fundamental to the cosmos itself.

These contemporary ideas, put forward by cutting edge scientists such as Brian Swimme, depth psychologists such as Stanislav Grof, and cultural historians such as Richard Tarnas, take us back to the ancient concept of the ‘anima mundi’ or World Soul. Through their work we are being offered a new route: in the words of contemporary writer and astrologer Dr. Keiron Le Grice, toward “…an emerging world view that reunifies psyche and cosmos, spirituality and science, mythology and metaphysics….”

Zodiac

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

What is Astrology? Part One

This is a question which I am happy to be asked by  open-minded people who genuinely wish to find out more about the wonderful body of knowledge which lies behind the popular mask of  Sun Sign astrology.

It’s been asked  so often of late that I thought I would reply  – in a two-part post. I would be interested to have your responses, whether you are an experienced practising astrologer or an enthusiastic beginner.

How do you as a practitioner answer the question “What is Astrology?”

What do you, an interested beginner, think astrology is?

Here, for what it is worth, is my take . I hope you find it of interest!

“Six thousand years ago, when the human mind  was still half asleep, Chaldean priests were standing on their watchtowers, scanning the stars.”

(Arthur Koestler from The Sleepwalkers)

This wonderful universe

The story of humanity is one of an unending attempt to create some recognisable order from the chaos of our earliest origins. In order to survive and evolve as a species, we have  created contexts for ourselves over many millennia from our interpretations of the world around us.

Modern science has shown us that we are part of an interconnected universe of mind-boggling complexity, in its minutest essence a vast energy field, ever moving and changing to the shifting dance of waves and particles – chaos and order forever interweaving, forever returning to and arising from the Quantum Vacuum, or in Buddhist terminology the Void, or in Western spiritual terminology, the Ground of our being.

The vivid quotation from the philosopher Arthur Koestler illustrates the origins of the ancient art and science of astrology – literally ‘the study of the stars’, whose basic precept “as above, so below” demonstrates that our modern understanding that we live in an interconnected cosmos is not a new idea at all.

It has been around ever since we fragile humans, vulnerable to the vagaries of a tempestuous earth with its storms, earthquakes and floods, began to evolve a context of meaning by plotting with increasing sophistication as time went on, the movements of the heavenly bodies in the starry skies above us.

From observing the regular patterns and cycles followed by those heavenly bodies, and recording with care what links there seemed to be between such movements and the ebbs and flows of human life, the early astrologer/priests began to be able to determine (with varying degrees of accuracy – prediction in any field of endeavour has never to this day become an exact science!) the fate of the king and the nation according to the movements of the planets.

Personal horoscopes plotting the patterns of individual life were unheard of until the first century or so AD.

To be continued….

To read Part Two, click HERE.

Zodiac

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450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Who’s afraid of the big bad comet….? Answering Mem’s question

“Here in the southern hemisphere we have a comet “Ison” appearing on the horizon at dawn in the constellation Leo… any thoughts about the representation of this comet? Or comets in general appearing?”

Cheers Mem Warren

Comet Halle-Bop

Comet Halle-Bop

Now that Comet ISON is heading for a close encounter with the sun in late November 2013, the Internet is again abuzz with UFO ghost tales, not to mention doomsday theories, mysticism, and miscellaneous strange ideas that go bump in the night.

Comets have inspired dread, fear, and awe in many different cultures and societies around the world and throughout time. They have been branded with such titles as “the Harbinger of Doom and “the Menace of the Universe.”

They have been regarded both as omens of disaster and messengers of the gods. Why is it that comets are some of the most feared and venerated objects in the night sky? Why did so many cultures cringe at the sight of a comet? To find out, click HERE

Then click this link to see wonderful pictures of the current Ison comet streaking through Leo! http://www.space.com/…

And check out this link for a very thorough discussion of every aspect of comets: http://cse.ssl.berkeley.edu/segwayed/lessons/cometstale/com.html

Now you know!

ps……and I have a very personal memento of the Halle-Bop comet of 1997. At that time we had an artist living next door. He knew I was an astrologer, and loved sky-watching, especially following the lunar cycle. One evening, he appeared at the door with a very special painting – his own version of the Halle-Bop, including the crescent moon – especially for me. He is dead now, but I still cherish that picture. Here it is:

Halle-Bop/Crescent Moon

Halle-Bop/Crescent Moon

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Zodiac

300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Answering a challenge: “Is it true that REAL astrologers do not charge for their services ?”

Horoscope” ‘s Question:

Is it true that REAL astrologers do not charge for their services as it is against the code to take profit out of a gift from God to help people? I read this and saw a medium on tele say it.  In these circles it is donations given based on good work.Is this true at all?

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(Readers with some knowledge of astrology will know that the planet Mercury is currently in its retrograde phase, ie it appears from our standpoint on Earth to be travelling backwards in its orbit.They will also know that tricksterish Mercury can cause all kinds of communication disruptions during this time.

The question above, which I have just received, is a case in point! It came in this morning via  an email from the webmaster of the local West End Website here in Glasgow UK where I write an occasional column. Despite being sent the link, I was unable to trace its location or the time it was left….the webmaster may be able to help out!

In the meantime, here is my answer to the anonymous writer’s question – one with which I am sure my fellow astrologers will be quite familiar….)

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Dear Ms/Mr/ X (I am assuming ‘horoscope’ is not your real name)

thank you for raising this interesting question. Before getting down to discussing the issue of  payment of fees for any  professional service, whether the professional is for example a highly trained,well qualified and experienced astrologer, lawyer,  or accountant, it is important to clarify a few points for you.

Your question strongly suggests that you associate the practice of astrology in some way with the practice of mediumship. They are two separate activities. Thus a comment on how mediums operate cannot usefully be applied to the practice of astrology.

Popular Astrology

Secondly, it would perhaps help you if I made clear that there are broadly speaking two main types of astrology. The first type, popular star sign or sun sign astrology, is the kind which most people know about. Perhaps that is the type of astrology you have in mind in asking your question?

This astrology functions as popular entertainment, in which the point of reference is the twelve Sun or Star signs under which individuals are born, depending upon the time of year, eg Scorpio, Aries, Leo, etc.

The predictions offered on the basis of this limited focus entertain millions of people across the world on a daily basis. No-one with any real intelligence seriously can believe that one-twelfth of the human race are all doing roughly the same range of things on any given day, month, or year. It’s entertainment!

Popular astrology as found in the media can only give a very general picture of one dimension of the person. It’s simply NOT possible for this astrology to describe in any detail  who you are. It’s like trying to tell the story of a complex play with reference to only one character on the stage.

Using this analogy, you  can only get a view of all the characters on the stage of your life from the map which an astrologer draws of the heavens at the particular TIME and PLACE, as well as DAY, of  your birth.

 Astrology In-Depth

This map or Horoscope or Birth Chart can then be used as a tool to mirror back to you, as lucidly as possible, with great care for your sensitivity and level of awareness, what the different characters are on the stage of your life and how they interact with one another.

Example Horoscope

Example Horoscope

click on image to enlarge

After many years of doing readings professionally – and keeping my hand in by occasional informal readings during my long sabbatical – I think the central thing that an individual gains from an astrology reading is confirmation of who they actually are: what their  strengths and weaknesses are, what their gifts and their difficulties are. It gives them more confidence and courage to be themselves.

It is a very powerful and potentially spiritual experience to have a stranger, who knows nothing of you, describe your essential qualities accurately from a map drawn of the heavens for the moment you entered this world.. This helps you to see that we are all interconnected and part of the One, whatever name you choose to give that vast, indescribable Mystery.

Qualifications and Training

I have a university degree and three post-graduate diplomas, the third of which involved three years’ travel to and from London in order to meet the stringent requirements required to obtain my Diploma in Psychological Astrology in 1998. This included one year of mandatory personal therapy in order to have the experience of being a client myself .

I am not alone in having made considerable efforts and allocated a great deal of time and money to becoming skilled and competent at my profession.Whilst not wishing to speak for my colleagues, all the astrologers I know and with whom I associate are well-educated people of considerable intelligence and integrity who share the same core values as I do regarding the importance of treating our fellow human beings with sensitivity and compassion.

I consider that I owe this to the often vulnerable people who come looking for help and clarifiaction, often at turning points in their lives. Their experience, and mine, is that an astrology reading can be of considerable assistance.

And now, about money….

However, in the process of being useful people in the world, astrologers, like anyone else, need to eat, put a roof over their heads, and bring up their families. We also need to pay for our office rent, professional indemnity insurance and organisational memberships as well as the many other expenses involved in running a professional practice. For example, my work is regularly supervised by a highly skilled and experienced colleague whose fees are £60 per hour. Other astrologers will have similar arrangements.

Ms/Mr X, are you suggesting that we can live in this world and practice our profession with compassion and integrity, without charging realistic fees to cover our living costs?

I do hope this answer has adequately addressed your question, for which I thank you. It has given me an opportunity to offer to non-astrologers a clearer idea of  what it is that professional astrologers actually DO…

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Zodiac

Zodiac

1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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