Scorpio Rising

When I was a child, my Aunt Thelma would wait for the Scranton Times-Tribune to check out Sydney Omar’s daily horoscope column.  She would sip her coffee and read the daily prediction for whoever was sitting around the kitchen table.  I was always polite, but never really thought he was very accurate.  Looking back though, I guess her enthusiasm for things like astrology planted a seed within my curious mind.  Scorpio is my rising sign and I believe it is responsible for my desire to look beneath, to plumb the depths.  Fast forward many decades and I am devoted to promoting another type of astrology, psychological astrology, as a vehicle for growth and change.  I have the feeling that if more people really understood astrology, they could benefit greatly from a consultation.  Psychological astrology is not predictive nor is it a psychic art.  It is, however, a wonderful tool to support a deeper understanding of the self, especially if incorporated as a tool in psychotherapy. 

Here is what Carl Jung had to say about the matter: “Obviously astrology has much to offer psychology, but what the latter can offer its elder sister is less evident. So far as I judge, it would seem to me advantageous for astrology to take the existence of psychology into account, above all the psychology of the personality and of the unconscious.”

So, what can modern psychology learn from astrology?   I do believe that the natal chart (given an accurate date and time of birth) can act as a map for our greatest potential.  From childhood on through our adult years, we can look at factors influencing our journey, depending on the planets and the way they communicate with each other.  Imagine the zodiac wheel is a big conference table.  When we are born, the planets are sitting in assigned seats and each seating position designates an integral part of us.  As time passes, the planets move around the table, each trying out the comfort or goodness-of-fit of each other’s seats and roles.  Their perspectives and behaviors change, depending on their position around the table.  We grow older and our inner dynamics evolve with the time and culture. 

When I look at a client’s natal chart, I do not automatically assume my deductions are correct, but it sure gives me a good starting point of questions to ask and where to look with the client about healing.  The process is similar to Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) or parts work.  We begin to look at presenting issues and what planets or tensions in the chart might be worked with.  So, for instance, if I am feeling impulsive, angry, or competitive in relationships and my Mars is in Libra, I might be looking at how to express my Mars in a more constructive way.  I can then focus on Mars, dialog with my Mars, write about my Mars, do artwork to express my Mars and ultimately own and understand the process of my issue from a deep place of self-awareness.  

Of course, this approach does not work for everyone, but I encourage the reader to be curious and investigate further before discounting the potential of astrology to assist in the healing process.  There are some pioneers out there who have written about psychological astrology, and here are a few:  Noel Tyl, Richard Tarnas, Glen Perry, and Liz Greene.  If you lean more toward a belief in reincarnation as a vital part of the the soul’s journey, Steven Forrest and Jeffrey Wolf Green should be on top of the list.

Are Men Really From Mars?

If you identify as a man are you from Mars?   I am a woman and I have a Mars, so does that mean I’m not from Venus?   Well, the answer is we all have a Mars and we all have a Venus and it gets tricky when we assign gender to planets.  Personally, I like to keep gender out of the discussion when it comes to planetary energies.  Our understanding of astrology and ultimately our understanding of ourselves is sculpted by our culture and customs.  In our culture Mars and Venus are highly charged with gender stereotypes and these prevent us from going deep into a place of knowing the true Self.  Certainly, they prevent us from getting beyond the superficial.   

Here is a more helpful way to look at the planets without getting mired in the dogma.

There are two categories of energy that planets manifest:  yin energy and yang energy.  Yin  pulls energy inward; its process and focus are internal.  Yang pushes energy outward, is dynamic and external.  Each planet also possesses the essence of an element (earth, water, fire, air).  These elements interact with yin or yang energy, creating a unique dynamic.  So, let’s use Mars and Venus for examples to illustrate how this works.  Mars is yang and the element is fire.  It rules the first house, our beginning, our act of continually becoming.  This calls up images of extroversion, boldness, courage, initiation, and high energy.  Venus is yin energy and is earth, making it more an inner process of harmony, grounding, sustenance, and beauty.  In this way we can see that the planets have much more to teach us if we look beneath the surface of stereotype.

Now that we have tweaked our vision of Mars, let’s take a peek at this planet’s upcoming retrograde and what that might mean for us.  For those who do not know what retrograde is, it is a perceived change in the movement of a planet through the sky.  The planet appears to be traveling in reverse, but it is an illusion created by our view of the retrograde planet from the earth.  The earth’s orbit is moving faster than the retrograde planet at a particular time of the year. 

Mars will station retrograde on September 9 and will stay there until November 13, 2020. Mars stations retrograde about every year and a half or so.  If you would like to see where Mars retrograde will be impacting you, locate between 28 degrees to 15 degrees Aries in your birth chart, give or take 5 degrees on either side.  What house does Aries rule in your chart and which of your planets are in Aries?  Do they make any significant angles (conjunctions, squares, oppositions, sextiles, or trines) to other significant points or planets?   

In general, retrograde Mars can be a time of overdrive, making it difficult for some to relax.  Retrograde motions tend to direct energies inward and Mars is a planet that is yang, so it isn’t quite comfortable hanging back and listening to the grass grow.  It’s a bit like gunning the accelerator of your car and at the same time pushing down on the brakes.  Tension can build from a slow boil to a burst of scalding steam if we don’t mind our minds and our bodies!  Making sure to eat nutritious foods, getting adequate exercise and taking time to rest and relax are all ways to manage these potentially volatile energies.  Mars retrograde can make it difficult to face situations head-on, so you may want to postpone any confrontation or launch of a major project.  If you can’t, then using a journal or some other tool for self-awareness can be a godsend.  It will allow you to sort feelings and to defuse any untended psychological land mines.  Retrogrades are always a fantastic opportunity to grow in our understanding of our selves as we take our yearly trips around the Sun.

Other astrological points of interest for September 2020:

Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn are still hunkered down in Capricorn.  Pluto will remain in retrograde throughout the month, but Jupiter stations direct on September 12 and Saturn stations direct on the 29th.  This threesome will be squaring Mars (which will be in retrograde).   Look at 17 to 25 degrees Capricorn is in your chart.

Full Moon in Pisces, September 2 at 1:22 a.m.   The Sun in Virgo brings a sense of realism and focus to our dreams but be careful not to limit your imagination.

Sun enters Libra at 9:31 a.m. on the 22nd.

New Moon in Virgo, September 17, bringing a focus on how we serve ourselves and others and how we strive (or don’t) to be the very best version of ourselves.

(Much gratitude to Sarah Bachman for allowing me to display her wonderful graphics along with this post!)

New Paradigms Evolving

Carl Jung was a serious student of astrology and spent much of his adult life exploring it. He proposed that the human psyche could be understood through the study of symbols, myth, and archetypes (or universal principles) and astrology is based upon these.  Through what he coined ‘synchronicity’ (simultaneous events that appear to share meaning but have no causal relationship), a person’s astrological birth chart could point them in the direction of deep understanding of the self.

 In 1932, Jung began a relationship with Wolfgang Pauli and their dialog spanned decades until Pauli’s death.  Pauli, a pioneer in the development of quantum physics, worked together with Jung on understanding how physics and psychology are integrated, and astrology was one topic they explored.  Now, I am not a mathematical whiz nor am I deeply schooled in theoretical physics, but none of my education included an appreciation of quantum mechanics.  I am guessing most of us have grown up with a fairly cut and dried Newtonian approach to the way we interpret our world, especially the unseen.  And this Newtonian approach seems to make mysticism and science mutually exclusive.  Somehow, the fact that many of our brightest lights in science were inspired by mysticism has been lost in the drying of the ink in the history books.

Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, and Erwin Schrodinger gained inspiration from the Vedas (ancient Sanskrit texts that are primary to Hinduism).   Albert Einstein once reflected, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift”.  I believe there is much evidence that science, psychology, and mysticism can work together to interpret our human experience and can help us navigate this meaningful and rich landscape that is our lives.

When I was starting out as a psychotherapist in the 1990s, some of my colleagues made fun of me because I talked about things like meditation and energy.  Fast forward to 2019, and it seems most folks are on board with mindfulness, meditation, and things like acupuncture and tapping.  I am again taking a bold step into woo woo (though I find that astrology can be perfectly accurate and not so woo woo at all!).  This is not the newspaper sun sign kind of astrology that rarely makes any sense.  This is astrology based upon the language the planets in our solar system speak as they travel through the 12 signs of the zodiac.  Indeed, working with what we call your birth chart (a diagram of the heavens at the precise moment of your birth), astrology can be an excellent tool for self-discovery, understanding and personal growth (plus, it is a heck of a lot of fun!).

As a psychotherapist, I cannot tell you how helpful a client’s astrological chart can be.  Your birth chart is unique to your individual life process.  I like to call it the ‘Earth School Orientation Sheet’.  It can show you  where the greatest potential for growth and development resides in your life.  Most importantly, though, it is a process, a conversation between us,  and not some type of predictive monologue where I tell you who you are.  You already know who you are!  I am there to help you uncover the treasure, the gold.  My dream is that more and more therapists will begin to speak the language of astrology and they will use it to help their clients in ways that traditional talk therapy cannot touch.