Astrology is Astronomy brought down to earth and applied to the affairs of man. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Astrology is best known for its power to describe character and for its ability to ‘look into the future’. These are certainly two important applications. However, the basic principles of astrology can be applied to almost every area of life. In this chapter we will look at what to expect when consulting an astrologer and some of the many and diverse areas in which astrology can be applied to obtain a fresh perspective and dynamic understanding of life.
Consulting an Astrology – What to Expect
Most astrologers in the English-speaking world work with western tropical astrology, as taught in this book, although there is now a growing number of Vedic astrologers in the West who practise sidereal astrology following the ancient Hindu tradition. The work of this rich tradition is beyond the scope of this book.
As astrology tends to be a subject which, like psychology, benefits enormously from life experience, few astrologers qualify before their Saturn Return, when they are about 30 years old. About 80 to 90 per cent of astrology students on most courses are women and probably 80 per cent of practitioners at the present time are females. This is probably because women usually have better access to the right-brain functions associated with poetry, imagination, the metaphorical and the symbolic, and a natural interest in people an their psychology. These are essential qualities for working fully and effectively with astrology. An increasing number of astrologers will also have some kind of additional training in counselling.
Like doctors, astrologers work by personal consultation, usually from an office within their own home and sometimes in alternative health centres. Very few astrologers are sufficiently affluent to have their own secretary or receptionist, so the consultation is normally booked directly with the astrologer herself, who will take the preliminary details and possibly some case history.
The Essential Information
The information required by all astrologers is the date, time and place of birth. The time of birth is essential, but this can be problematic as in Britain the time is only recorded on the birth certificate in Scotland, except in the case of multiple births. If you were born in a hospital or a nursing home your time of birth will be on your original birth records, which the authorities are obliged to keep until you are 21. After that your records may be less readily accessible or even destroyed.
Astrologers vary a lot as to whether they want to take a detailed case history before the consultation. Some astrologers prefer to work ‘blind’, allowing the chart to speak for itself in terms of its pure potential. They will then relate that potential to the actual life history later in the consultation. Most astrologers will ask you to reason for the consultation and any special issues that you would like them to consider.
A typical first consultation or reading of a natal chart with an astrologer will last between 90 minutes and two hours, and sometimes longer. Prior to your arrival, the astrologer will probably have spent at least an hour preparing your natal chart, usually with the help of a computer, looking at current trends and probably making notes. If it is a first consultation the astrologer may well have prepared the chart several days earlier and have had it mulling over in the back of her mind for some while.
When it is not possible to meet in person, some astrologers work very effectively by phone. Some will also supply a reading dictated on to a cassette. A few astrologers will provide written reports. These, however, are very costly as a full written report would be unlikely to take less than one full day to prepare and write up.
Fees vary considerably. A first consultation is unlikely to cost less than £50 with a follow-up hourly rate of £20. A top astrologer in London will charge at least £40 per hour which, allowing for preparation time, will mean that the first consultation could be about £90 or £100.
At the simplest level, an astrologer can interpret your horoscope as a pattern of character traits, aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses. This approach is purely descriptive, the astrologer is attempting to sketch out a personality profile in words and images. If you have a lot of fire in your chart and a strong ninth house, you will be seen as impulsive, energetic, intuitive, idealistic and mentally adventurous. If you have a strongly placed Saturn in the first house as well, you will also be described as serious, self-doubting, ponderous, but reliable and conscientious too. These and other contrasting features of your character will be identified, together with the inner tensions and creative potential they involve. It will then be up to you to go away and draw your own conclusions.
An astrological consultation will reveal valuable insights about your personality and the dilemmas your experience in life, but it will not change deep-seated behaviour patterns or heal psychological wounds overnight. However, since we humans are blessed with the faculty of self-reflection, we can choose to go beyond a mere description of our character and actually engage with this knowledge in a deeper way. If you find that the beauty of this language really speaks to you, astrology becomes a kind of wisdom path can lead to empowerment and desired life changes. This takes time, commitment, and the development of self-analysis.
Some people are natural self-analysers. Others will benefit immeasurably from the experience of psychotherapy where someone else analyses and, over time, teaches you to self-analyse. Add astrology to this activity and you suddenly have a much more powerful experience of understanding what is going on. In this way, astrological insights can help us work through negative conditionings and to see that when it comes to forming our inner attitude, there is a choice.
When the astrologer moves from giving descriptions of personality of relating energies in the chart to the actual personal experience of the individual, the astrologer is also acting as a counsellor. Increasingly now, astrologers undergo some kind of therapeutic training which enables them to listen effectively and to mange the emotional responses of clients, rather than just impart information. If you wish to work more deeply with astrology as a tool for self-awareness, it is important that the astrologer you choose has experience and training in counselling. The Faculty of Astrological Studies offers a two year Counselling Within Astrology course (correct at time of writing), and the Centre for Psychological Astrology offers a broad base of knowledge in psychological theory and requires students to be in individual therapy for a minimum of one year. A list of qualified astrologers is available through the Faculty of Astrological Studies and the Association for Professional Astrologers (see Astrological Resources, page 247).
Some astrologers are beginning to work with astrology as a framework for longer-term therapeutic work. C G Jung’s daughter, Frau Gret Baumann Jung, was a great pioneer of this approach. Each of her therapeutic clients was given an introductory book on astrology and asked to study the basic principles so as to be able to work within that archetypal framework. She believed that the value of inner work was greatly enhanced by astrological symbolism, and that it encouraged within her clients both a sense of responsibility and a desire for self-knowledge. Astrology’s ability to enrich the meaning-making process makes it a central tool for all people who seek a greater experience of freedom in their lives.
Life Trends – Forecasting the Future
What will happen to us? What is our destiny? Astrology can never answer these questions in absolute terms. The astrologer looking at a chart cannot see ‘events’ and people written on it. The astrologer sees in a chart combinations of energy and patterns of ideas which experience has shown are likely to manifest in certain ways. By studying the chart it is possible to see the kinds of issues that are likely to arise in the person’s life. If the astrologer knows how an individual has responded to certain kinds of patterns in the past, and also knows the current circumstances, it becomes more possible to make reasonably reliable inferences about the way that things may develop.
By the same measure, knowing the kind of energies which will be to the fore at a particular time, the astrologer will suggest ways in which they can most constructively be directed. Thus planetary patterns which an astrology textbook might associate with the breakdown of a relationship may in practice express themselves as a ‘breakthrough’ which transforms rather than breaks the existing relationship. Ultimately, how the chart expresses itself is not preordained but a matter of individual consciousness and choice.
Almost everyone who decides to consult an astrologer wants to know what will happen to them. But destiny is, in fact, simply another expression of character. To the astrologer, they are one and the same thing. To take a simple example, a person with the planet Jupiter prominent will tend to be optimistic. Because he is cheerful, people will like him. This jovial type will tend to see the opportunities in any situation and people will be inclined to help. Thus he appears to be ‘lucky’ as ever-new vistas open up for him. By contrast, someone with Saturn in a dominant position at birth will be inclined to pessimism. The saturnine type will focus on life’s problems and may spend much time and energy defending against ‘what may happen’ and in becoming self-reliant. In the longer run, the eternal optimist may start too many ventures and finish none of them, take too many risks and waste his resources. By contrast, Saturn’s disciple, who has carefully put aside resources for a rainy day, and who has finished each project as it comes along, may well end up as a person of substance who has made a real tangible difference to the world. In each case, however, character has led the way and an astrologer merely reads the signatures of character and its implications.
Astrology cannot ‘foretell the future’ as such. It can, however, look at the qualities of a particular period and, like a weather forecaster, make intelligent conjectures about the kind of issues we are likely to be facing.
Relationships make up a crucially important part of most people’s lives. Indeed, the world’s literature, film and media industry, not to mention the work of psychotherapists and psychiatrists, would shrivel to almost nothing with the challenge of human relationships. So, not surprisingly, there is a whole branch of astrology devoted to the study of the way people are likely to get on with each other.
Known as ‘synastry’ (literally ‘combined stars’), this branch of astrology provides a powerful means of studying the dynamics which are created in all kinds of relationships be it between lovers, teacher and pupil, business partners, parent and child, and so on.
By comparing and combining the different birth charts, the astrologer can provide valuable insights about the way in which people are likely to get on with each other and the kind of dynamics which will probably emerge in the relationship.
This type of comparison goes way beyond the grossly over-simplified sun sign ‘compatibility’ charts, beloved of popular articles on astrology. Whilst different sun signs can be more or less compatible with one another, the comparison of charts is much more complex. In fact, a compatibility of moon signs is usually much more important than sun signs for a long-term relationship of any kind. Likewise, the idea that different astrological types will have different kinds of relationships is essentially sound.
Whether it is our relationship with a lover or a colleague, with our parents, our brothers and sisters, with friends, employers, fellow workers, our own children or with society at large, astrology will have something to say. The principles of astrology can be used to understand the kinds of things we will seek in a relationship and the kinds of issues that relationships are likely to bring up for us.
We can also learn why different relationships bring out different sides of our personality, why we feel upbeat and optimistic with some people and down or awkward with others.
Astrology can be an invaluable adjunct to helping decide the kind of work or career someone might find most suitable and rewarding in relation to their innate skills. The birth chart cannot say that someone will be a musician or a social worker or an accountant. It can, however, indicate that, say, music or the care of others, or the effective and creative handling of resources, are likely to be things they will enjoy and at which they have a good chance of finding personal satisfaction and success.
Equally, the birth chart can indicate areas of work and finances which are more likely to bring problems or upsets. The individual in who chart Uranus features strongly may find it difficult to work in a subservient position and find themselves constantly at loggerheads with authority figures. The strongly Neptunian type may be drawn by their deeply compassionate nature to helping others, yet find it difficult to look after themselves and protect their own boundaries and resources.
By drawing out and clarifying different talents and aptitudes, the astrologer can help the individual to obtain a larger picture of the kind of work and career they are likely to find rally satisfying, and in which they will feel motivated to work hard to succeed. Or, in the case of workaholics who are determined to make life tough for themselves, astrology may help to identify those areas where they may benefit without so much stress and strain.
In the ancient world and until the end of the 16th century, astrology was always a central part of a doctor’s university training and medical practice. If you studied medicine you automatically learned astrology as a means of helping you with both diagnosis and prognosis. Rightly so, for the affinity between each part of the body and the planets and signs of the zodiac can give a medically trained astrologer invaluable clues as to underlying tensions and stresses and the weak areas of the body where problems are likely to manifest.
By studying the chart of an individual and the chart of the moment when he or she was taken ill, or took to their bed, the astrologer can make deductions as to the kinds of issues that are likely to be involved in the illness and the likely critical points in the days ahead. Likewise an astrologer with a medical background and training can use the birth chart to help better understand the kinds of physical problems an individual may experience, the kinds of precautionary and dietary measures to take, and the kinds of therapy that may be most beneficial to them.
However, no one without some kind of medical training should attempt to use the birth chart in this way. Just as an ill-informed reading of a medical encyclopaedia can quickly make one believe that one has typhoid fever, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s, so too can novice astrologers immediately believe the medical worst of difficult patterns in a chart, or of difficult times ahead for themselves and their nearest and dearest. All major transits and progressions to sensitive parts in the natal chart can express themselves in part through the body. The transits of Saturn, Chiron and Neptune are particularly prone to express themselves in physical terms.
An astrologer with a knowledge of medicine can use astrology to understand the processes going on within an individual at both a psychological and a physical level. For example, someone with a prominent but poorly integrated Mars in their chart is likely both to be prone to unnecessarily forceful, aggressive behaviour and to be accident-prone and run fevers.
Choosing the Best Time
To everyone there is a season; and a time to every purpose under the heavens - Ecclesiastes 3
If you want to launch a boat it is usually simpler to wait for the tide to come in and float the boat off the shore than to push the boat down the beach and across the shingle. Astrology can be used to elect – that is choose – the optimum time to start any particular project. Hence this branch of astrology is technical known as ‘electional astrology’. The principles of electional astrology can be applied to any enterprise that has a definable starting moment.
Choosing the right time for undertakings has always been a major role for the astrologer. It is now public knowledge that President Ronald Reagan never made any major initiative without optimising the changes of success by getting the timing right. From his first inauguration as Governor of California to his declarations for the US Presidency, none of the major decisions in his life were taken without astrological advice. As Reagan’s aide Donald Regan testifies in his autobiography, the time of the signing of the Test Ban Treaty with Gorbachov was arranged to chime in with the heavens, rather than procedural convenience, much to the chagrin of the military.
As a result, someone who was generally considered to be a relatively simple soul managed to win almost every contest he entered, and to succeed in putting bills through Congress despite being head of a minority Government.
Getting married is a major venture for anyone, and if you have a choice, it makes good sense to plan the timing of this event. This will have implications for years to come, and can optimise the chances of mutual understanding and a long-lasting and happy bond. Indeed, throughout the Indian sub-continent and much of Asia, few couples will get married without first ensuring that the day is a propitious one for them. In this case the astrologer will look at the possible dates and see:
- which dates and times yield the most harmonious charts;
- the relationship between the chart and the charts of the bride and groom.
Likewise if success is going to hinge upon the wellbeing of one or two key people, then it is a good idea to choose a time which will bring out the best in them and minimise the sense of stress and strain.
The time to start any particular project will depend both on the nature of the work being undertaken and the chart of the people most closely involved with it. If you are starting a project you want to develop quickly and to catch the public eye, you will need to choose a different kind of time from a project which requires plenty of peace and quiet and a slow, steady approach.
By analogy, if you are arranging a mail-out and want to optimise the chances of it going smoothly and your communication being read, it is a good idea to ensure that Mercury, planet of communication, and the Moon, which rules the mood of the moment, are well placed. The kind of placement the astrologer will choose will be dependent upon the kind of mail involved. If the desire is to encourage a sense of optimism and wellbeing the astrologer will want to choose a different kind of climate to one which is suggesting that people enrol on a course of study, or purchase life insurance.
No matter how good the starting chart for a venture, it cannot of itself make up for lack of sound preparation and good management.
Choosing the Best Place
We are each born at a particular place on Earth, and our birth chart is normally calculated for that place. But there is a sense in which each one of us is also incarnated on to the earth as a whole, as part of the world soul. This may sound like a poetic flight of fancy. In practice, this is found to be an extremely valuable reality. For example, we may have been born in Britain at midnight, placing our sun in the fourth house (see Chapter 7), the position of the home-loving individual who tends to a private rather than a public life. If we move to the other side of the world to New Zealand, where it would have been midday when we were born, and recalculate our chart for Wellington, say, we will find the Sun will be in the tenth house, of public affairs and personal career achievement. Suddenly, from having been a relatively retiring, domestic individual, we are likely to find ourselves out in the limelight, perhaps seeking public office and playing a more authoritative role within the community. And for everyone there will be places in the world where the Sun comes to the fore, and place where it can hide away and obtain some peace and quiet. In short, there are different places where different faces of the soul can thrive.
Such Relocation Charts, as they are called, have been known about since early this century. If you were trying to decide whether to go to Malaga or Corfu for your holidays you could relocate your chart to each place to see what aspects of your chart are brought to the fore at each resort. It would then be possible to choose the place that looked more likely to bring out the kind of energies you would find enjoyable for a holiday.
However, you may be a businessman or woman and want to know which areas of the world are likely to be especially advantageous for you or for your company’s products. To calculate a chart for every major city of the world would be out of the question. Happily, with the advent of the computer, the brilliant American astrologer Jim Lewis was able to develop a program, known as Astro*Carto*Graphy, which plots the positions of the planets at the time of birth on to a map of the world. This, and other imitation astro-locality programmes, enables the astrologer to identify immediately where in the world different planetary energies will come to the fore.
Using astro-locality techniques, it is possible to find parts of the world that will assist in one’s enterprises and self-knowledge, both generally and at particular times in your life. However, such methods need to be used with caution. If your birth chart shows that you have a strong but problematic Jupiter, which makes for joviality but also for over-optimism and extravagance, it may not be advisable to go rushing off somewhere where you can practise your generosity to the utmost! That said, the use of astro-locality can reach parts of your personality and potential that other methods cannot. If a change of scene is as good as a rest, astro-locality can be invaluable in helping us choose the optimum scene.
Judging the Moment
Someone may already have decided that they are going to start a particular course, or go on holiday at a particular time, or have got married. There may be little choice in the matter. In such cases the astrologer can highlight the main kinds of issues that are likely to arise and point out where the greatest potential and problems are likely to be.
Many astrologers look at the chart for the time that a client first contacts them and the time of the first appointment. Such charts can be highly revealing of the main issues concerning the client. So, too, a chart set for a ‘first meeting’ can be extremely revealing of the significance and future course of the relationship. The late poet laureate, Ted Hughes,, who had a good working knowledge of astrology, described the astrological factors surrounding his meeting with Sylvia Plath in his poem ‘St Bartolph’s’ in Birthday Letters and concluded:
That day the solar system married us
Whether we knew it or not.
Asking Questions – Horary
One of the simplest and richest forms of astrology is the specialist area of ‘horary’ astrology which is based on the chart for the ‘hora’ or ‘hour’ – the time a pressing question is asked, or when it is received by the astrologer. In recent years a growing number of astrologers have begun to specialise in this ancient type of astrology. It can be very valuable in throwing light on specific issues, such as ‘Should I take the job?’ Such a question may have deep psychological as well as practical implications. A study of an horary chart for such a question can be expected to reveal something about the background to the question and the issues involved, practical information about the timing, and, in the hands of psychological horary practitioner, something of the larger personal issues implied in the question.
This is based on the idea that the moment when someone feels sufficiently moved to contact an astrologer with a pressing question will be a moment which will in itself reflect the nature of that question. This is often the case to a striking degree. In fact, in India, anyone regularly consulting an astrologer will expect the astrologer to know what they are calling about from the chart for the moment of their enquiry.
Astrology and Literature
All great writing, be it in the form of a novel, drama or poetry, touches on an archetypal level of understanding of people and life. This is why mythology and such archetypal studies as astrology, kabbala and tarot have always had a deep fascination for artists of all kinds. Some of the great literary giants of the past and of this century have drawn their insight, imagery and inspiration from astrology. In the medieval world, Chaucer and Dante; in the Renaissance, Marcilio Ficino and Shakespeare; in this century such giants as James Joyce, W.B. Years, André Breton, Henry Miller and Herman Hesse. Amongst contemporary writers, Lindsay Clarke and thee late poet laureate Ted Hughes acknowledge the power of the starry archetypal elixir.
Because astrology speaks so graphically of the inner motivation, conflicts and dynamics within the human psyche, it is an admirable tool for penetrating into the mind of the writer and can be used very effectively as an instrument for literary criticism and understanding. We know of more than one literary doctorate and several biographies which have drawn, often unacknowledged, on astrology for their insights into the creative personality of their subjects. Indeed it could be said that anyone engaged in biographical studies who ignores the astrological dimension is denying themselves a rich blueprint of the person’s life.
The Astrology of World Affairs – Mundane Astrology
This is the most ancient use of astrology. Its name comes from the Latin mundus, meaning the world. It studies how the dominant planetary sign positions and patterns are likely to express themselves in the world cultural, economic and political affairs. By studying the birth chart (or charts) of a national it is possible to asses the way in which the prevailing astrological climate is likely to affect the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the time. There are probably no full-time mundane astrologers at present. However, an increasing number of astrologers are familiar with interpreting charts for the kinds of trends and events that are likely in any period. Mundane astrology can provide insights into current affairs and can make informed forecasts about future political and economic trends for the world as a whole and for individual nations.
This is a specialist area of mundane astrology which has major implications for international economic planning. Astro-economics studies the relationship between astrological cycles and such tings as the business cycle, the ebb and flow of stock markets, commodity prices, currency fluctuations and business confidence. Certain planetary cycles are especially strong movers of markets. Most notably, the 20-year cycle of Jupiter and Saturn, and its 10-year half-cycle, seems to regulate the alternations of optimism (greed) and pessimism (fear) of the markets.
The importance of the Jupiter-Saturn cycle has been independently noted and verified by non-astrologers such as the American economist Clifford Matlock, and most recently by the Cambridge economist Dr Hamish Watson. The triple Jupiter-Saturn cycle of 60 years marks major longer-term shifts in economic confidence. The sixth part of the cycle, the 3.33-year cycle, marks out the main features of the shorter 40-month business cycle.
Each of the planetary cycles has its own particular area of resonance. So, for example, the c. 12-year Jupiter-Uranus cycle marks major phases in technological innovation whilst the c. 40-year Saturn-Uranus cycle is significant for the harnessing of technology and plays an important part in the timing of shifts in the US stock market in particular. The 12-year Jupiter-Neptune cycle is found to be related to inflation and periods of euphoria in the markets. The c. 2-year cycles of Mars with Jupiter and Saturn mark out the intermediate ebbs and flows within the cycle of optimistic and pessimistic business sentiment.
Not all markets respond equally strongly to the same cycles, or necessarily in the same way. So, for example, there will be differences between emerging markets and mature markets, between those economies which are strongly focused on primary materials and those that are focused on services industries or high technology.
Financial Investment and Speculation
A growing number of stock, commodity and currency traders use astrological indicators to hep guide their understanding of the timing of likely trends in the market and changes in individual stock prices. Astrologers who specialise in this area can often identify key days when the market is likely to make dramatic moves or major reversals. Indeed, it is sometimes possible to pin down the precise hour or even minute when a particular market is likely to turn. Equally, it is often possible to indicate when changes will occur in particular sectors of the market or when specific shares are likely to become the focus of attention.
This type of information ought to make astrologers wealthy. However, like every other application of astrology, it is not enough to know the timing. It is also important to have an intimate understanding of the way markets work and the trading experience and the financial discipline to know when to stay with one’s judgement and when to cut one’s losses. Few astrologers have these market skills. When an individual has combined these skills, as in the case of ‘the guru of Wall Street’, the late W.D. Gann, the result can be phenomenal.
Another key use of financial astrology is evaluating the prospects of individual businesses from the chart for the incorporation of the company. A study of such charts can identify periods of growth, setbacks, tensions and possible mergers and takeovers. Likewise, an astrologer who specialises in this area can evaluate the stock prospects of a quoted company from a chart set for the time of its first trade on the stock market.
Astrologers are increasingly being used within companies to help with such matters as long-term planning, choosing times to launch products, open branch offices, enter into negotiations, arrange mergers and takeovers, assess competitors, help with personnel selection and generally give another perspective on business decisions.
Of particular value to businesses with an international exposure is the ability of astrology to give insights into areas of the world which are likely to be especially beneficial to them, and to prove some indication of the likely stability or otherwise of emerging nations and markets.
Astro-Drama and Experiential Astrology
We are all constantly expressing our charts in endless ways on many different levels. But when we come to try and understand it with an astrologer in order to work more effectively with our potential, he or she will of necessity have to translate it into ideas and words and images. Whilst this can give us a valuable intellectual understanding of the dynamics within us, it cannot fully evoke the experience. Astro-drama and ‘Experiential Astrology’ workshops are a means of directly experiencing the patterns of one’s life as revealed in the birth chart through acting them out with other people. For some people the experience of actually engaging in a drama with other people the tensions and contradictions of, say, Sun opposite Neptune (the principle of transcendent collective unity), can be deeply revealing and healing in a way that no amount of intellectual discussion can achieve.
The patterns of the birth chart can also be deliberately explored through painting, music and dance. Such non-verbal approaches bring about another level of understanding which, through by-passing the intellect, reach directly into an emotional and physical level of consciousness. This can at times produce responses that reach down to the individual cells of the body. In this way, habitual patterns of energy which are blocking self-development can begin to be re-expressed in more constructive ways.
Astrology and Magic
In the East there is a long tradition of working with astrological patterns through appropriate prayers, mantras, rituals, the use of gem stones, amulets and appropriate dietary considerations. This was also common in the West in the Middle Ages as a major branch of ritual magic and alchemy. The great Renaissance philosopher Marsilo Ficino advised working with astrological ‘magic’ to better balance the birth chart. For example, if you are having problems with the Mars principle of self-assertion, then by making an especial effort to honour Mars by wearing red, eating hot and spicy food and generally identifying with the principle, he becomes your friend rather than your enemy.
Astrology and Mystical Contemplation
It is possible to think and work with astrology as though it were an impersonal, mechanical process like heat or light, electricity or gravity. Yet the experience of anyone who has been working with astrology for any length of time is that it does not obey precisely measurable ‘laws’. Even in those areas where astrology appears for a while to be most reliable and mechanical as in the actions of the stock market, planetary processes have a habit of suddenly finding alternative, but symbolically appropriate forms of expression. The more one watches the astrological at work in individuals, in companies and countries and in the daily news, the more one is aware that these cyclical processes, whilst predictable in terms of timing, have a mind of their own as regards expression. One is, as it were, watching the ebb and flow of consciousness within the world.
For example, the events of 1989, under the Saturn-Neptune conjunction as the old order (Saturn) dissolved (Neptune) were as much music, art and poetry as mechanics. The rigidities of apartheid evaporated in South Africa. The Berlin Wall crumbled. The monolithic Soviet Union disappeared almost overnight. Whilst individuals, such as Mikhail Gorbachev and Václav Havel, were involved in these events, such as individuals appear to the astrologer as spokepersons for these Ideas of History. The Ideas were flowing through every cell of consciousness in the collective, creating a momentum to which the world leaders responded.
So likewise, during late 1997 through into 1999, as Saturn forms its square phase to Neptune, the world has witnessed a crisis in ‘the new economic order’ that the West believed it ad established in 1989. The heavens once again indicate to the world that it is not adequately honouring both Saturn and Neptune. The flow of international speculative capital (Neptune) has been destroying local economies (Saturn) and ignoring the need to control (Saturn) speculative greed (Neptune).
Plato said that ‘the true philosopher is a spectator of Time and Eternity’. The astrologer, by contemplating the instruments of time, the planetary movements, is enabled to become a witness to the workings of the Eternal Archetypes in her own life and the life of family, friends and the famous. Everywhere the astrologer looks she is, through her science and art, enabled to glimpse ever deeper levels of meaning and purpose behind the seeming tragedies, trivialities and triumphs of daily life.
The work of the astrologer, both personally and with clients, is to endeavour to bring an awareness and understanding of these processes at work within the individual soul and the collective. Ideally, this work can enable us to live a life of increasingly conscious resonance with the pattern of living Ideas portrayed in our chart. For, as Plato points out:
By a life in conformity with the Ideal, a light, as from a fire, is enkindled in the Soul and there it nourishes itself.
The more we are in tune with our inner nature, the more alive we become. This goal is summarised by the great fifth-century Neo-Platonic philosopher and astrologer Proclus in his The Theology of Plato in what could be considered to be the astrologers’ credo and goal:
We must say therefore, that there are divine dances ... the dance of the Gods ... and that of divine souls ... the revolution of the celestial divinities, viz. of the seven planets ... and the whole life of a philosopher is a dance. Who then are those that honour the Goddess in the dance? Not those who dance well, but those who live well through the whole of their present existence, elegantly arranging their life, and dancing in symphony with the universe.
In the following chapters we will be focusing on natal astrology. However, the principles of this ‘algebra of life’ are generally applicable to each of the other branches discussed in this chapter. The planets, signs and houses retain their same essential meanings, as do the aspects.