Does astrology wound as well as heal?

It is easy enough to talk about the positive healing benefits of an astrological framework, providing as it does a major defence against meaninglessness and insignificance.

Feeling connected at a personal level to loved ones and friends is recognised as a major factor in promoting and maintaining physical, emotional and mental health and happiness. Feeling connected at a more cosmic level, which astrology offers, lets us see that we are not random accidents in time and space, but threads in the weave of a greater pattern – very small threads perhaps, but contributors nevertheless. This awareness can promote a sense of spiritual wellbeing.

There is also the sheer fun, excitement and intellectual discovery which the study of astrology brings.

Every bright light, however, has a dark shadow; in the promethean nature of our art  lies its shadow too. It is all very well to steal the gods’ fire, as Prometheus did, with the noble intention of  liberating humanity from some of its bonds with the powerful enlightenment which that fire brings.

But fire burns. It is impossible to light up the darkness of our human limitations of perception, without the hand that holds the illuminating fire being burned by it. It’s not so easy to talk about that. But it does less than justice, in exploring the impact of the astrological model on human consciousness, to concentrate on the healing aspects of the interaction, whilst glossing over the wounding dimensions. Exposure to the model brings both.

On one occasion, I asked a small group of my tutorial students, who had studied and practised for long enough to experience both the light and the shadow facets of our great art, to write something about astrology’s healing and wounding dimensions. I was delighted by the honesty and perceptiveness of their feedback. Here is what ‘Charlotte’(1), 35 at the time of my asking, had to say:

"Charlotte"

“Charlotte”

(click on chart to enlarge)

“ I’ve never really been asked to consider the wounding aspects of astrology in such a direct way before. I did have a bit of a job focusing on the question without the more positive aspects coming up all the time! I think the serious study of astrology knocked me out of the idyllic vision I had had of my family background. I had to accept that my parents weren’t perfect, and the overall effect of this was enlightening but also disappointing. It kind of knocked me into the real world and showed me things as they were which I found quite hard to come to terms with.

Seeing things in black and white on the astrological chart led to a lot of resentment on my part, raising a lot of difficult questions which I’m still working hard to understand. I think this can sometimes sidetrack me and stop me getting on with things, and lead to some disasters which might not have occurred otherwise – although I would say I do have a natural tendency to analyse things anyway. Astrology just provides more scope for this.

There is also the question ‘Why me? Why did I have to have this chart?’ which may be quite childish, but did lead at one time to some resentment at the apparent unfairness of it all. Especially when you are grappling with hard Pluto and Saturn aspects. You know you have your work cut out for you, and that life is not going to be easy. The prospect of living your life with these aspects can be quite daunting and depressing, and lead to a lot of despondency at times.

Another factor that’s hard to take on board is that (astrology shows that) you are responsible for yourself. You can’t go around blaming other people for your misfortunes all the time. You have to take responsibility for your part in the drama. It’s your stuff, and you’re the only one who can deal with it. This can lead to a lot of self criticism on my part, and a good deal of depression if things aren’t working out.

Looking at  it from a promethean point of view, Prometheus stole fire from the gods. He knew he would suffer for it, but he also, I think, knew on some intuitive level that he was doing the right thing. And in the end he was released from his suffering. Personally, I couldn’t not know. Otherwise I wouldn’t have pursued the subject as long as I have. I just hope it works out for me in the end too”.

I was moved by Charlotte’s feedback, which I think sums up pretty clearly some of the more challenging implications of having access to astrological knowledge. Perhaps we need to talk more about that…

––––––––––

Endnotes:

(1) Not her real name – withheld (along with her data – AA: Birth Cert.) for confidentiality.

 This is an edited short extract from “Astrology: a Healing and a Wounding Art” first published in Apollon, the Journal of Psychological Astrology, Issue 3, August 1999, republished as my 12th Not the Astrology Column in the Julyy/August 2017 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited byVictor Olliver.

Zodiac

850 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

21 responses to “Does astrology wound as well as heal?

  1. Astrology is what it is.It neither wounds nor heals.It is a tool for deep enquiry into the self and others.We have free will and can use it to move forward or we can say poor me,I have a really difficult chart,I am a victim.That takes away our power and what we should do is give thanks for our difficult aspects and rise to the challenge.To give a personal example,I have Mercury opposite Pluto and suffer from dark and sometimes paranoid thoughts,I have learnt through meditation and other work to not take these thoughts seriously because they are only thoughts and are not real.Astrology is a true blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, David. I wouldn’t disagree with any of what you’ve said here…When I have time tomorrow, I am going to post the longer essay from Apollon, from which this short extract is taken. You might be interested in reading the whole of what I had to say on the topic. Thanks for contributing! Anne

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      • Thanks Anne,I will look forward to that.

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      • Hi David

        I’m not able to load the pdf of the Apollon Issue 3 here – if you go over to http://www.cpalondon.com/apollon.html you will be able to find and download Issue 3, as well as the other five issues of Apollon if you wish. My essay “Astrology as a healing and a wounding art” is on page 5 of Issue 3. Liz Greene’s “Wounding and the will to live” is very well worth reading, and also appears in that issue.

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  2. Via Facebook:
    25.5.18:
    Mara Owens:
    Yes it can , dependent of the wisdom or lack of that presented by the astrologers attitude

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Agreed, Mara…but also certain kinds of knowledge can burn, eg when you know your own chart and can see a major planet coming to trigger off a stellium of several planets. Much though you realise it’s going to be a great growth opportunity, you can also expect it to bring tough times. I know of what I speak, having a six planet stellium in one sign in the twelfth house. I don’t so much have transits as demolition jobs! But I’ve weathered each one, and come out ( eventually) strengthened.

    If you ( or any other readers) would like to read the very much longer essay I wrote on this a long time ago, here it is:
    https://anne-whitaker.com/2009/08/21/astrology-as-a-healing-and-a-wounding-art/

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  4. Via Facebook:
    25.5.18:
    Mara Owens:
    My chart is set up for just such “demolition jobs” occurring influenced by being the agent for breaking the hold of Ancestral, Familial, and Personal Karma. Im reminded of the Chinese Coin observance “Crisis :: Opportunity “ & “May you live in interesting times” The Japanese art practice of filling cracks in broken vessel with gold to accentuate, rather than hide the damage, or throw the vessel out deemed ruined. Too often I’ve had astrologers describe my chart, transits and aspects framed in judgmental negative manner rather than a nuanced study of more benefit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this, Mara. I like to think that my own lifelong process of filling those cracks with gold – eventually – has helped me to be realistically positive and supportive to my clients’ processes…

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  6. Via Facebook:
    25.5.18:
    Shelagh Carter:
    Maybe Astrology doesn’t so much wound directly but rather exposes or illuminates – brings into consciousness – the wounding that has already taken place and lies hidden – buried deeply in the subconscious – waiting for the right timing and a transit of Pluto, Chiron or Saturn to awaken it and allow healing to take place. In my – limited – experience of reading charts the client will always recognise the ‘truth’ of what the chart shows, even if that truth is a painful one. For most of us as adults the worst that can happen to us probably already has and we spend the rest of our lives trying to make sense of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Via Facebook:
    25.5.18:
    Mara Owens:
    Shelagh Yes, just as Chiron was already a wise, skillful healer, metaphysician, who had separated himself out from among the other Centaurs well before receiving a wound that could not heal and continued carrying out his same work. It’s more the astrologers that treat a clients with difficult chart as the Biblical Job was judged, mistreated, scorned and rejected by even family and friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. These are important points to raise, Mara. Those of us who choose to enter the helping professions, from whatever perspective including the practice of astrology, bring our own wounds into our professional lives; this is why I think a minimal level at least of counselling training and supervision is important If we are to offer healing from our own woundedness and the compassion that ideally brings, rather than inflicting wounds on others by, for example, the unconscious misuse of power in relation to our fellow human beings who are vulnerable in their own ways – just as we are.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Via Facebook:
    26.5.18
    Bob Ruth Hoole:
    My introduction to astrology was promoted by a vivid dream and it has been a blessing. That is not to say the journey has not had it’s dangers. The Saturn Pluto issue is particularly frught. My introduction to it’s demands could have been handled better. No matter how knowledgeable the astrologer you will receive this information packaged in their particular worldview. I feel this is because today’s astrology has been heavily influenced by the Greeks and a deep fatalism. The Greek gods were an irracsable lot whose morality could be brought into question. If this is our model of the real, I suppose that’s what we get. I like to feel there is an alternative one that unifies, potentially, these warring fractures. Dreamwork has a great deal to give here, revealing, as it does the unity under the surface chaos and subsequent pain. Or, dare I say with the Bible” underneath are the everlasting arms”.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for this thoughtful contribution, Bob. As the owner of a Saturn/Pluto ‘chip’ myself I can empathise with what you say. Check out my recent reply to Mara – awareness of our own woundedness as astrologers should ideally bringing a degree of humility and compassion to our practice. But – as the late master astrologer Donna Cunningham points out In her writings about dreadful things astrologers say to their clients – humility and compassion is often woefully lacking…

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  11. Alanna Morgan

    Thanks for the wonderful question. After reading the comments what comes to my mind is Lilly’s statement: “I did conceive the good angels of God did first reveal astrology to mankind.” Which makes me think that it all is for the good as long as the motivation (and skill level) of the astrologer is up to the job of conveying angelic wisdom. Life is wounding so how can astrology not be wounding as well? But the hope and aim is that the wound be one that ultimately heals a more profound wound … I was hyper-careful in my choice of words as a consulting astrologer and often felt the presence of “angels” attending the readings. This is not, I gather, an uncommon experience among astrologers.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you very much for this thoughtful, profound comment, Alanna. Yes, one has to be as you put it, ‘hyper-careful’ in one’s choice of words in consultation. It is also important in my view, to ask for guidance and support from the Unseen before each encounter, and to offer thanks afterwards. And yes, those angels…well, there is much to say about this topic…

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  13. Anne- I tend to process internally before I comment on anything written that deeply resonates as this post and Charlotte’s response to your inquiry did. I’ve enjoyed reading some of the comments as well. All have been very insightful for me. Astrology, in general, provided a much broader perspective on life in general and my life, in particular. Like most people, I feel my chart is “challenging” and I often have to dig deep to find the blessings and lessons of some of my life experiences. And I am grateful for people who provide additional lines of sight into aspects I cannot see or understand as an experienced astrologer does. Astrologers, coaches and spiritual directors have been powerful guideposts to keep me from falling into the dark holes of depression, which used to consume me. Thank you.

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    • And thank you, Carrie, for this deep, honest and thoughtful contribution. I also know that the perspectives offered by astrology can help us to see that we are not just helpless butterflies pinned to the board of Fate – but living ‘chips’ of energy participating in some larger pattern of meaning which invites us to play our small but unique part. This is a strengthening vision, in my view. It helps us to withstand the gales of life which at times batter us very hard. The shifting universal dance revealed by the astrological cycles also tells us that ‘…all things must pass…’

      Liked by 1 person

  14. The healing comes in the conversing, sharing with those who think differently.

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  15. Thanks for this post. The more extensively I study my own chart as well as the charts of my loved ones, I find myself plagued by anxiety at times. I get so caught up in some of the more negative aspects and placements that I kind of torture myself with the possibilities of what can go wrong.

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    • You are welcome, H A!

      Yes, there is a price to pay for having this kind of knowledge and we all go through those kinds of fears at times. If it’s any comfort to you, I really have a pretty challenging horoscope – but I work with what I understand ( bearing in mind that much of what goes on with our lives is unconscious until the Unconscious decides it’s time to erupt in some way or other in order to push our growth – if we are prepared to rise to the challenge) and as I have grown older and survived and grown through some very tough transits I find myself much more pragmatic and much less fearful. On balance, I would much rather know astrology and benefit from its at times hard-won gifts, than be without its guidance.

      Also – there is a lot of damaging dross out there that passes for astrological interpretation…be careful and discriminating in what you read, and who you consult.

      All good wishes with your studies
      Anne

      Liked by 1 person

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