We have all had life-changing moments. Some, we only recognise retrospectively. Others hit us like lightning bolts, metaphorically pinning us to our seats. Literally, in my case. I remember it well, that scuffed red velvet chair in that rented room in a friend’s scruffy flat. I was twenty-nine years old (Saturn Return, anyone?), embarking on social work training. Navel-gazing, therefore, was the order of the day – in fact of that whole year.
There I was, seated on that chair, reading Carl Gustav Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Seven years previously, I had embarked on pondering how I could improve myself as a consequence of deciding to face up to the unsparingly honest comments of a good friend on aspects of my behaviour at that time.
Following that, at twenty-seven and an astrology dismisser, I had encountered astrologers, astrology and an initial dip into my horoscope which had shocked me with its accuracy – especially its uncomfortable ability to pinpoint, as well as the plusses, those minuses in our character which so often get projected onto others.
The whole tenor of my self-challenging and self-learning at that stage was this: by gradually dragging into conscious awareness as much as possible about the difficult and dark sides of myself, I thought I could perhaps in time get rid of them, along with those contradictions in my character and behaviour which were causing me so much stress and pain.
This being the quest, I suppose it was inevitable that extensive reading should eventually bring me to Jung… then, sitting comfortably on that red velvet chair, I read this:
‘…Therefore the individual …has need, first and foremost, of self-knowledge, that is, the utmost possible knowledge of his own wholeness. He must know relentlessly how much good he can do, and what crimes he is capable of, and must beware of regarding the one as real and the other as illusion. Both are elements within his nature, and both are bound to come to light in him, should he wish as he ought to live without self-deception or self-delusion…..’ (i)
The lightning bolt was realising the futility of trying to cast my dark energies as ‘bad’ and trying to suppress them. In that truly life-changing moment I saw that the work ahead lay in creatively facing, owning and constructively channelling that vital energy which flows from sincere attempts to reconcile the opposites which are inherent in the whole of life.
Since we are each a tiny chip of Life’s vital force – something which astrology illustrates wonderfully through the medium of our horoscopes – we need to own and work with the whole spectrum, not just the shiny end.
I have had a lifelong interest in science. I see it as one of many lenses through which to explore why we are here and what it may all mean. In an open-minded world, astrology and scientific exploration would go hand in hand. Happily, in some quarters now they actually do!
Being a person with many twelfth house planets, I’ve been driven all my life to set our tiny personal lives in the context of the Big Picture. Both science and astrology have provided huge help in this. It has struck me for a long time that contemplating the Big Bang, the best scientific theory currently available to us regarding how our universe began, is a wonderful starting point for work on reconciling the opposites.
That vast explosion which gave birth to everything we can conceive of, was an event of monumental destructiveness. But it was also an event of monumental creativity without which we would not exist, nor would the glorious beauty of this world.
Chaos theory has in its turn shown us that we live in a vast energy field, rippling with ever-repeating patterns from the vast down to the minute. This maps well onto astrology’s archetypes: we can regard each planet as a mini energy field, each offering a range of possible manifestations arising from the same recognisable core.
Jung put the links between the vastness of universal energies and our tiny human existence very succinctly:
‘…Our psyche is set up in accord with the structure of the universe, and what happens in the macrocosm likewise happens in the infinitesimal and most subjective reaches of the psyche….’ (ii)
Contemplation of all this inextricable interweaving of what we culturally term ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ energies, via what I have understood both from science and from the teaching and practice of astrology, has helped me greatly in the never-ending process of reconciling and uniting my own opposites. I truly hope I have been able thus to offer out some inspiration via my vocational path, to clients, students, and readers over the years.
Here is an apt last word on the topic from ‘Alice’, taken from an article I wrote a long time ago, asking students for their feedback on ‘Astrology as a Healing and a Wounding Art’ (iii):
‘…The more I learned about the interacting energies within my chart, the more I could accept myself and stop having to put on an act. The energy I had previously been using to keep Pluto well at bay, could now be directed towards more constructive pursuits. I felt freed. The healing had begun…’
PS: I’d love to know what happened to that red velvet chair!
This post is a slightly edited version of my bi-monthly column for Dell Horoscope Magazine ‘The astro-view from Scotland’ from the March/April 2019 Issue.
(i) and (ii) From Late Thoughts, last chapter of ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ by C. G. Jung, published 1962 (recorded and edited by Aniela Jaffé.) (iii) From Apollon, The Journal of Psychological Astrology, Issue 3, August 1999.
1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Dell Horoscope Magazine 2019