Why Astrology?  

- Food for Your ‘Beginner's Mind' -

 © 2001-2009 by Melanie Lichtinger

 


Content:

In Alignment with the Universe…
Astrology as an Experiential Art
Astrology as a Language of Symbols
Astrology Promotes Healing
Does Astrology Work?
Sun Sign Astrology?
Why Does Astrology Work?
How Does it Work? 

Epilogue

 

 

In Alignment with the Universe…

The universe is an ongoing creation - and so is the unfolding of our lives.

The universe is not static. The way it presents itself is impermanent and ever changing, according to a beautiful order-within-chaos mechanism that has fascinated all of humanity, challenged scientists, enchanted poets and artists, inspired mystics, spiritual teachers and practitioners, and triggered ultimate questions in every human being throughout the ages.

Creation is an ongoing process of transformation that all life forms participate in: Co-creation of all that is.

Creation is like an extremely sophisticated infinite symphony, an orchestration of energies conducted by an ‘invisible hand', a cosmic dance in space. Everyone of us as a ‘microcosm' participates in the macrocosmic symphony and dance. There are no ‘wrong steps' in that dance, and there is no ‘out of tune' in that symphony. No single living being is obsolete. Every one of us fits in magically, with the contribution of their uniqueness.

Our human life on planet Earth /Gaia is an ongoing transformational process of creation as well. The cells in our bodies have a certain life cycle, as they come into being, fulfill their function, and then die and are replaced by new ones. Equally, our life as a whole is continuously dynamically unfolding .

Certain stages of our lives, like childhood, adolescence, times of relationships, work place periods, projects we launch, etc.,  all have such ‘life cycles'. They come into being, mature, and decease. In order to grow and mature, we must not hold on to an old, outlived stage when it's time to move on.

Tibetan Buddhist teacher Kalu Rimpoche uses the metaphor “The body is a hotel whose guest is consciousness. Soon, this traveler going from country to country will take off for new destinations, leaving behind the hotel that hosted him”. Even  within this lifetime, there are many ‘deaths' and ‘reincarnations'. The stages and periods are like residences at hotels. We would not stay at one hotel forever, if we wanted to explore the country or several countries. So we have to move on.

Kristin Zambucka in her book “The Sun Eaters” (1) puts it beautifully:

“The whole nature of existence is to renew…
Face the death of every moment
Die to things that are over and spent
Let go of the relationship whose course has been run
Or the situation whose colors have been shown
It is finished
Drop it
You have had the best of it
Let it go
Die to the old self
Slough it off like a serpent shedding its skin
It is a secret of life…to die to things that are no longer beneficial
Die every day in the shadow chamber of sleep
Then arise reborn
And taste the miracle of regeneration”

With every decision and action we take, we co-create our reality, our circumstances of life. Manifestation is a dynamic of action and attraction. Astrology can show us how to be in alignment with our life purpose and with the specific energy of any given time, so that the transformations of life are more conscious, and co-creation and manifestation can run more smoothly.

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What is Astrology?

Astrology as an Experiential Art

Astrology is based on universal, timeless symbolism, and speaks to us on deep and meaningful levels, as artistic expression often does.

And as with a piece of art, engaging the holistic, intuitive, ‘right brain' side of ourselves is essential to understand and align with the symbolism, and to have access to the ‘big picture' and the underlying meaning of a horoscope.

The work of an astrologer can be seen as an interpretation of art - the beautiful piece of art that an individual horoscope with all its rich symbolism represents. 

In our daily life experiences, each one of us can recognize and directly experience the astounding variety in which the omnipresent astrological symbolism continuously manifests itself. With some basic astrological knowledge and practice, we can develop a sense of how alive astrology is. This process enhances curiosity and a fresh, childlike, and ‘beginner's mind' approach to learning how these symbols keep coming to life, in the world around and within us. Learning about astrology experientially is an exciting process I have been fascinated with for many years.

We can also engage in creatively expressing these universal symbols (especially signs and planets), through artistic media (like collages) or drama, and thus become an artist or actor of astrology - while avoiding the temptation of  over identifying with them, and becoming 'archetype possessed'.

As we learn to recognize and integrate the astrological symbolism, a whole new dimension opens up, which broadens our horizon, and awakens a sense of oneness with the universe while remaining in the stillness of our center, the 'hub of the wheel'..

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Astrology as a Language of Symbols

Words are written symbols and acoustic sound combinations that stand for certain experiences and are used to communicate those experiences. Let's look at e.g. the English words ‘tree, flower, cloud, mountain, computer, above, eating'.

In another language, the same(?) human experiences are put into different letters and sounds:

Baum, Blume, Wolke, Berg, Computer, oben, essen (Geman) and arbol, flor, nube, montana, ordenador, abajo, comer (Spanish).

Astrology communicates human experiences through symbols. The basic symbols used in (Western) astrology are universal and have been used for about four thousand years. Over time and in different cultures, new manifestations of those symbols have been added, in accordance with the cultural development.

The symbol of the planet Mercury (the fastest moving planet in our solar system, in mythology known as the speedy, clever, resourceful messenger of the gods, the trickster, patron of merchants and thieves etc.) stands for functions of the mind, communication, learning, information processing, crafts and trade, and also means and ways of travel and transportation. These are some typical human experiences and functions of the symbol ‘Mercury' which is also related to the Tarot card #I “The Magician”.

Over time and in different cultural contexts, these basic human mercurial experiences have found different ways of manifestation. In the 19th century, letter writing and printing, mail, bicycles, coaches and trains were known, but not yet cars, passenger air planes, telecommunication systems, cell phones, computers, Internet, e-trade and email,  etc. - some examples for additional Mercury manifestations of the 20th century. In the 21st more new ones are being invented and accessed continuously: Google, Facebook, YouTube...

Similarly, new forms of expressing other planetary symbols, like Venus (the principles of love, beauty, and connection), the Moon (emotions, habits, needs ,and care), and Jupiter (expansion, wealth, and status) etc., are constantly collectively created and individually experienced, while other ‘outlived' ones disappear.

The symbolic principles will always remain though, because they are part of the universal human condition. Humans will always communicate and think, experience love, beauty, and expansion, in one way or another.

The famous Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung called those basic experiences of the human condition, regardless of the culture and the time in which we experience them, archetypes. Astrology helps recognize those archetypes in human expression as such, and identify and diagnose in which specific ways these archetypes operate in an individual person.

Astrology is a language insofar as it focuses on these symbols and provides tools to interpret them. Applied astrology is therefore the translation and interpretation of these abstract, timeless, universal and archetypal symbols into the client's daily life experience. 

An important function of the astrologer is in my view to diagnose the archetypes behind problematic experiences that the client presents, and explore with them alternative and more evolved and integrated ways of living with the energy of that archetype, so that the client can transition through it and ultimate release the charge of it.

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Astrology Promotes Healing

Healing is derived from ‘becoming whole' (again). Wholeness is healthy.

It is a basic principle of healing to honor and support the parts of the body and psyche in their integration into the whole of a human being, so that they can fulfill their purpose to sustain well-being.

Astrology offers ways to understand ourselves or others better, by carefully looking at the wholeness of a human being as a wonderful, unique composition of the different sides and functions of a personality that is always more than the sum of its parts. Humanistic, psychological astrology has therefore a holistic, synthesizing, and synergistic approach. It shows how the parts relate to one another, how they keep unfolding over time, and how this process contributes to our life creation.

By honoring the path and meaning of one's life, the insights gained through astrology can be an important starting point for the healing process of oneself or of a relationship with a significant other.

In relationships, astrology can help heal (making whole) the relationship, by recognizing and acknowledging the individual contributions, as well as the ‘character' of the relationship as a  co-created 'product' of the partners. -

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Does Astrology Work?

Critics say astrology is simply based on self-fulfilling prophecy, according to the principle “you get what you focus on!”. Also the issue of ‘selective perception' and 'placebo effect' are often brought up in a critical discussion about the validity of astrology. The bottom line of both principles is that we perceive and seem to magically manifest whatever we direct our attention to and whatever we strongly believe in.

It is certainly true that somebody who resonates with and believes in the workings of astrology and gives it a lot of attention by studying it, sharing their findings with others etc., they will agree and continue to find evidence that “the world works according to astrology”.

This mechanism applies equally to every other discipline, such as science, philosophy and other belief system, however. If we identify with it and study it, we tend to see the world though that specific lens.

If we choose quantum physics as a fascinating explanation of the world, we will see phenomena in the context of quantum physics. If we choose Buddhism or Jungian Psychology as our ‘favorite' explanation or world view, their respective teachings will be our guiding light, but also our lens, for understanding the world and the human psyche. If we are fascinated with astrology because we can personally best relate to its teachings and symbolism, we will recognize those phenomena that we encounter in astrological terms.

Of course, practically, we will most likely identify with a combination of teachings and as a result find their evidence in our experience.

In my understanding, all these ways of explaining the world have their validity and offer valuable insights to humanity. They co-exist and don't compete with each other for representing ‘the truth'. They are like facets of a beautiful gem which reflect complementary parts of and ways of looking at the ‘Big Mystery', the numinous.

It depends on the preference, resonance and affinity of the individual to find out which facet(s) would best speak to them and be their 'medicine'. Different things work for different people, and there are many keys to the many doors that lead to understanding and freedom from a 'default reality matrix'. For me and many others, a very valuable key is astrology.

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Sun Sign Astrology

So what's with the phenomenon of newspaper and online columns for sun signs? Simply consuming the - often very good - entertainment value of the column is not only a very limited way of seeing astrology. Unfortunately, these columns oftentimes simplify and distort the value of astrology, which inevitably harms astrology's public reputation.

Most people know their ‘Sun sign', but assume ‘Sun sign astrology' as presented in the media is everything astrology consists of, in terms of content as well as purpose. This is where simplification and distortion sets in.

First of all, this kind of astrology over generalizes, by putting the emphasis on one single factor of the individual birth chart, which is the zodiac sign of the Sun at the day of birth. Usually, there is a certain time frame attached (like “Aries: March 20th  - April 19th ”) which can be additionally simplifying, because for readers with birthdays on sign cusp days, it isn't known without exact calculation whether at their specific time of birth the Sun was still in the previous sign or already in the next one.

The zodiac sign of the Sun is just a fraction of the intricate, highly complicated, individual personal horoscope. In one's birth chart, it can be the only factor positioned in that Zodiac sign' (e.g. Aries) or even in that element (e.g. Fire). This can be a reason why a horoscope owner might not highly identify with the qualities of ‘his/her' sign or element, if he/she only knows about ‘Sun sign astrology' and therefore might be somewhat reserved or rejecting towards astrology altogether, without realizing what in-depth astrology has to offer.

If however a horoscope owner has more planets in that sign and/or the Sun is strongly positioned in the chart, he/she might be more inclined to trust and look for guidance through astrology, even if he/she is only familiar with ‘Sun sign astrology'.

But only by casting an individual birth chart, all factors of the personality can be considered, and the whole of that human being can be addressed.

When a ‘Sun sign column astrologer' makes statements about certain ‘sectors' or areas of life, like relationships, family, friends, children, job, etc., he/she refers to certain houses in the birth chart. In order to do that (e.g. to tell ‘Aries' Sun persons about their love life), the ‘Sun sign astrologer' who doesn't implement personal data, would assume that the Sun and the Ascendant of the Aries born people are in the same sign (Aries), that their Sun is in the first or late twelfth house and that their Ascendant is at the beginning of the sign (Aries). The person in other words has to be born shortly before or after sunrise. These conditions of course, only apply to a small fraction of humans! 

Some astrologers intentionally work with sunrise charts for the columns or when the birth time is unknown. But I would doubt the validity of such a virtual chart.

On the other hand, the predictive and  advice giving style of most ‘Sun sign columns' is very simplistic and not empowering, if taken seriously by the reader.

Some readers just take the entertainment part of such a column and forget about it shortly after consumption. In those cases, ‘only' the reputation of astrology is affected, but not the individual. Many people however look for orientation in their lives. If somebody is interested in addressing him-/herself to astrology for that purpose, I would highly recommend that they find out about the rich benefits and in-depth insights that can be gained from an individual horoscope consultation.

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Why Does Astrology Work?

Orthodox science in its strong Saturnian orientation criticizes that the workings of astrology cannot be proven with scientific tools, which are based on evidence of a physical or otherwise measurable connection between cause and effect. As there is no scientific proof that the magnetism of the planet Venus or other scientifically measurable criteria have certain effects on the love life of human beings, the connection between Venus and love is not validated scientifically, and therefore denied altogether.

What can't be proven with their tools and formal, materialistic logic doesn't have validity for orthodox science.

However astrologers don't assume that the magnetic field or other physical components of the planets literally influence humanity in a causal way. This would merely be another materialistic and deterministic world view. What astrology describes and interprets is the non-causal, synchronistic orchestration of ‘above' (macrocosm, our solar system in relation to the Zodiac) and ‘below' (our earthly, individual and collective experience).

Synchronicity means, two or more events happen together (Greek: syn-) at or around the same time (Greek: chronos = time). Psychologist C.G. Jung reminds us that when synchronicities happen, it is not a mere random simultaneity, but there is a meaningful correlation between events A and B. They appear together for a reason (Link ‘Synchronicity').

As mentioned before, astrology looks at symbols that stand for the basic functions of human experience (archetypes). The planets' symbolism still has a connection to the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other cultures' gods and goddesses who were ‘patrons' of these human experiences. The names of most planets directly relate to Roman gods.

In modern times, humanity has lost touch with the realm of these deities, which were created out of the mythology of those ancient cultures. What lives on are the archetypal expressions these deities have given shape to. In antiquity, archetypes were collectively symbolized through deities. Nowadays, there are other deities that we revere or fear collectively and individually. We just don't think of them as gods and goddesses.

Celebrities and political or spiritual leaders or tyrants typically embody idealized or demonized qualities that the collective sees in them or rather projects onto them, enabling them to become ‘living myths or monsters'. Some examples are J.F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Princess Diana, James Dean, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II, Pope John Paul II, The14th Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbatchev, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Adolf Hitler. Even though, all of these people are or were multifaceted individual human beings, each one of them also in a charismatic way represents a combination of certain archetypes.

Also certain belief systems, ideologies and teachings, like Communism, Capitalism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Earth spirituality, Wicca etc. symbolize certain human archetypes. And then, within those belief systems, a dynamic between certain archetypes can often be found, which can be best described as a polarity between the idealized parts versus the rejected ‘enemy' parts. Interestingly, these split-off parts might actually point out to shadow material of that world view.

With some awareness, the archetypes can be found everyday in a multitude of ways. What an exciting exploration!

Astrological symbolism describes these archetypes. In astrology, e.g. Venus stands for the human experience of love, affection, attraction, closeness, pleasure, appreciation of beauty and art, etc. People in whose chart Venus is emphasized indeed express or at least validate those Venusian qualities stronger than others. Because of the synchronistic correlation, those people are carriers of Venus energy.

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How Does Astrology Work?

Astrology's basic components are the triad of               

                                   Human Being / Event

 

 

                    Time                                                  Place

The triad plays itself out in our lives in myriad ways. We experience it strongly, when we feel we are “in the right place at the right time”, which we might call serendipity.

It is only human to wonder whether we can optimize our life, by choosing the ‘right' time for starting a venture, the ‘right' person to live with, and the ‘right' place to live in. Though, I believe, there is no absolute ‘right', and on the other hand, everything is right and perfect as it is, on a spiritual level. It is only the mind that wants to control and optimize a situation, in order to attain happiness and be free from suffering.

Therefore, I don't offer astrology as an ‘insurance' against suffering or a tool to control the future, by telling the client “what the planets will do to us”. This would be ultimately just the flip side of fatalism. The tool we would use in order to presumably control the future would ultimately control us like a drug, by making us dependent. And we would also become dependent on the ‘dealer' - the astrologer!

As an astrologer, I don't see myself as an all-mighty seer, fortuneteller, ‘future insurance broker' or oracle and I don't want my clients to become junkies. I believe no human being can concretely foresee and predict the future, which means: tell what concrete event will happen to another human being or to a group of humans or how another human being will decide and act in a given situation. And it is a blessing that this is beyond our power.

One important gift astrology can provide is to describe how the archetypal, universal energies are orchestrated at a given time and how they resonate in an individual person's life. This doesn't mean however that the person is determined in his/her actions or decisions. The power to freely choose is always available.

There are many ways to respond to the astrological energies. In an astrological consultation, we can discuss options and alternatives of how to be in alignment with those energies and use them wisely, rather than merely react to them, which often implies feelings of victimization.   

Applied astrology can be a constructive and empowering way of understanding oneself (via the natal chart) and significant others (via relationship incl. children's charts) better. It can also help us to find out where our main life focus (children, home, career, relationships, groups and friends, health and work) might turn towards at other places in the world than in the region we were born at (Astro-Worldmap and relocation charts).

There is yet another way to look at the ‘birth - time - place' triad:

Every birth (or other significant beginning) of a being or event is, in our human experience, related to a certain time and place. The time continuum and the place in the world are our human reference points. And all of existence is embedded in cosmic rhythms. The underlying philosophy of astrology states that birth and other events happen when the time is ripe to mirror exactly what is coming into existence at that place. There is a meaningful correlation between the specific quality of that time and the characteristic qualities of the born being (or started event). Time and ‘birth' mutually correspond with one another. The place provides the possibility of its manifestation in matter. Whoever and whatever comes into being at a certain time participates significantly at that specific ‘time quality' (= the energy of that time) and also starts their rhythms from that time on.

When getting married, starting a business or a job, moving to another city, etc., this new phase in life has a certain ‘character' which has to do with the energy of the time when it is started, combined with the energy of the person(s) involved. That venture will from then on undergo certain cycles, which are also related to the person(s) involved. When we start these ventures, we participate in the specific characteristic of the starting time (‘time quality'), which we can only control to some extent with our preparations. Time will tell how the starting experience will actually evolve. And from that moment of 'birth' on, the venture enters rhythms and cycles and evolves its initial ‘character' which astrology can determine and describe.

This applies even more so to the birth of a child. The parents much less control over the time and circumstances of birth of their child than over planning their wedding or move etc. Research indicates that it is the child who induces its own birth by emitting certain hormones. And every parent will confirm how little influence they actually have on the child's character and life path which follows its own rules, rhythms and cycles…

Every being responds to these cosmic rhythms differently and precisely according to their disposition. Just as humans with different biological constitutions respond differently to exposure to certain conditions, like heat, cold, viruses, etc., different ‘cosmic constitutions' that can be seen in a horoscope, make a person inclined to respond differently to certain time energies.

Just as in every cell of the body the complete genetic information of the DNA can be found, so does the abstract image of a specific birth chart indicate a ‘cosmic blueprint' of that person by which the unique character can be diagnosed astrologically. That is why after a session clients are often amazed how accurately astrology helps to describe them and what's going on in their lives (= how they respond to the cosmic cycles).

Following the analogy with the genetic blueprint, a certain constellation in a birth chart and its unfolding over a life time makes us inclined to act and respond in certain ways to given live conditions, according to our unique character and inner dynamics. Similarly, when finding out about certain psychological dynamics in ourselves (through astrology or other means of diagnosis), we can choose to keep acting them out or projecting them onto others and keep running into the same old problems over and over, or we can decide to follow the path of self understanding and integration and work with them constructively, so that the best of their energy is released.

When receiving a weather report that announces rain and wind and temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius, the ‘weather report client' is free to wear their swim suit and sun glasses (and get angry with the weather) or align himself/herself with the conditions by wearing a water proof coat, hat and boots, and enjoying a stimulating, invigorating walk by the ocean…

Similarly, with the help of astrology, it can be determined what the energetic ‘weather' of the ‘time quality' will be like and how we might choose to respond to it creatively, in order to align ourselves with ease to the natural flow of manifestation and life unfolding.

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Epilogue

Ultimately however, and from a spiritual perspective, the path leads to detachment from any identification in the mind and to pure awareness and observation of everything we create in our minds and everything that happens - which astrology is able to describe, as a correlation between ‘above' and ‘below'.

The mind always tends to be busy with evaluating the past and re-enacting it emotionally, or with planning for the future, in order to control the circumstances of life, so that pain can be avoided and (the image of) happiness can be attained.

The core of who we are and the only place where creation happens is the present moment, also called the Now. In my understanding, holding that awareness of being in the Now and living out of it is what spiritual teachings call enlightenment.

I believe, the awesome correspondence of cosmos and life on Earth is not there to put us even more into our minds. A direct experience of those synchronicities talks to us of the precious, present moment that holds this cosmic correspondence together, the Now. Remembering that this is the experiential core of astrology can deeply touch our human core.

 

(1) Kirstin Zambucka, The Sun Eaters, Honolulu, HI: Harrane Publishing, 1991, p. 7

(2) According to astrological convention, the fixed star Sun and the satellite Moon are also called ‘planets', along with the 8 other planets of our solar system

 

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