Tag Archives: Prometheus

The Cardinal Grand Cross: some thoughts on astrology as a healing and a wounding art….

Commentaries are piling up throughout the astro-blogosphere. Angst-ridden people with greater or lesser degrees of astrological knowledge are winding  themselves up. What will the impact on our lives be, as the dramatic  Grand Cross pattern builds up in the heavens to its point of exactitude on 23rd/24th April 2014 ? To see what’s building up collectively, just read the papers. Political turmoil across the world, disasters on air and sea – these are just for starters….

Cardinal Grand Cross 2014

Cardinal Grand Cross 2014

Rather than add to the current air of nail-biting tension– addressed in his usual humorously ascerbic way by astrologer Matthew Currie, I thought I’d take off in a somewhat different direction by contemplating both the healing and the wounding aspects of the practice of astrology.

We don’t hear much about the latter dimension! But large scale panics over eg the End of Millennium Eclipse of 11 August 1999, and the Winter Solstice of 2012 (folks – we’re still here….) vividly demonstrate that  contemplating the symbolic patterns of the heavens frightens as well as enlightens us, even in this supposedly secular age.

Wounding, healing and the art of astrology

(It is important at this point to emphasise to readers who are familiar only with Sun Signs that to get ‘beyond the Sun Signs’ requires an individual’s horoscope to be drawn up for the date, place AND time of birth. Human beings are complex and contradictory. It’s not possible to approach any satisfying symbolic exploration of that complexity through the Sun or Star Sign alone.)

Astrology itself neither heals nor wounds. Having  arisen aeons ago from attempts to create a meaningful context to human life through observation of the physical movements of the planets in the heavens, whether such a framework is experienced as wounding or healing is heavily predicated upon the attitude of the individuals who choose to use it:

“The fault, dear Brutus, is  not  in our stars,
But in ourselves, that  we are underlings.”

(W.Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2)

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 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 promotes a sense of spiritual well being.

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.

I  always attempted to restore a sense of perspective on this issue by pointing out to my astrology  students that for the whole of human history most of humanity has managed to stagger through life without the benefit of astrological knowledge.

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 its healing and wounding dimensions. I was delighted by the honesty and perceptiveness of their feedback. Here is what Charlotte, 35 at the time of my asking, had to say.

Charlotte

Charlotte

(not her real name – data withheld for confidentiality)

 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 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”.

This is one person’s vivid perspective on the implications of knowing her natal horoscope. I’d be interested to have comments on this issue from my readers, either by email, or via comments left on this post. And of course  – how was that  Cardinal Grand Cross for you? 

1150 words copyright Anne Whitaker/”Charlotte” 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Harry Potter and the Joyful Child, Part 1: the Sun – and Saturn

“……..A prescription for helping to keep the Joyful Child alive ? Go and read the Harry Potter books…….. !……”

Last week saw a tidal wave of Pottermania sweeping across the Western world once again as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” hit the silver screen on 19.11.2010. Coincidentally that week I came across Issue 5 of Apollon, the Journal of Psychological Astrology, in which an essay of mine, inspired by the Harry Potter books, was published ten years ago –not long before the first Harry Potter film sprinkled its magic over the world in November 2001.

I thought this would be good timing, therefore, for giving the slightly edited and updated essay another airing – just to keep Harry Potter and his friends company in the blogosphere!

The Sun

The Sun

A Celebration of the Joyful Child

“…..he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.”  (1)

Introduction

Twice in the year, in February and July, I used to go on retreat for a week to the Orkneys, a storm-tossed scattering of green, fertile islands between the far North of Scotland and Scandinavia. It was an eagerly anticipated treat: hotel living and no domestic responsibility, surrounded by the sea and an ever-changing panorama of skies which are an artist’s dream.

An enjoyable evening during this February week ten years ago was spent visiting old friends: one a distinguished pillar of the local community, still vital in his eighties, the other an extremely witty, erudite Sheriff in his sixties. We had a splendid time – talking politics, learning about local history, indulging in that favourite island pastime of storytelling; having a good laugh.

Our stepping outside to return to the hotel revealed a magical night – thick snow floating down in the still, cold air, trees blanketed, ground covered. I couldn’t resist it. Making a few snowballs, I threw them at a tree at the far end of the garden. Pretty good aim still! The Sheriff and my husband joined in – three middle aged folk, happily hurling snowballs around like a bunch of six year olds. We strolled back to the hotel, feeling very cheerful. “That kid in you is still alive and well, isn’t she?!” my husband remarked. I realised that she was, and felt so grateful for it.

Defining the Child

A great deal has been written in recent years about the Inner Child, so much so that a whole branch of the therapy industry has grown out of it, along with inner child workbooks, weekend workshops, etc. The emphasis tends to be on the wounded, vulnerable Inner Child carried to a greater or lesser extent by all adults; the focus, on attempting to heal that injured aspect.

Having been asked to write about The Child, and having reflected on the topic for some weeks, I wanted to celebrate the spontaneous, resilient, Joyful Child within all of us, explore how it fares as we mature. If we are lucky, this part manages to survive the batterings, brutalities and tragedies of existence, continuing to provide inspiration and faith that life is worth living.

Who, exactly, is this Child?

The basic stuff of which s/he is made is the element of fire, that which the gods prized so much they wanted to keep to themselves. But Prometheus stole some, hidden in a fennel stalk, and gave it to us. He was savagely punished for his misdemeanor – but ever since, we humans have had at least one chip of that magical, divine substance lodged in us. Everyone has some: some people have too little, others have too much.

What is it?

Prometheus - the bringer of fire to humans

Prometheus - the bringer of fire to humans

It’s the spark of divine light, that which tells us we are special and immortal, that we’re here for a reason, that our lives have a purpose, that we have a future worth seeking out. It fuels wonder, injects the passion of inquiry into mere curiosity, causes learning and exploration to be a joyful end in themselves.

It gives the capacity to look out at the world with a fresh set of eyes, take pleasure at what’s there because it’s new, exciting. It brings spontaneity and the gift of laughter. It fuels play, which is at the core of a response to life which is fundamentally creative and imaginative.

It is highly protective and supportive of life, especially when the going is rough, giving the hope that things will get better. It enables tough times to be survived through the unquenchable belief that suffering may be awful, and protracted – but it means something, it is not just the random brutality of quixotic gods, or fate.

It brings the capacity in extremis to laugh at the sheer absurdity of life, and oneself. This capacity can drag one out from under the worst of times for just long enough to reaffirm that life, despite everything, is worth living.

The precious creature formed from such magical substance never grows up in the sense of assuming worldly responsibilities, and never gives up on life’s possibilities and delights. It cannot be ordered forth – just appears, then disappears: will o’the wisp…….

References

(i) William Blake MS Note-Book, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1999 Edition, p 120, par 8

TO BE CONTINUED……Part 2 follows shortly…..

***************

850 words copyright Anne Whitaker  2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

***************

Preparing for 2010/11: Prometheus unbound?

Astrology is a double-edged art.

It bestows the inestimably joyful gift of awareness that we are all woven into some vast, meaningful pattern – in which the tiniest of individual threads ( you, me….) is a key part of the weave. It contributes a significant lens to the many through which we limited humans  attempt to expand our vision and comprehension of both the collective and individual patterns of life on this tiny, precious planet of ours.

Astrology can also raise fear and apprehension: it provides very accurate timings so that we can know exactly when certain energy patterns are coming to their peak. But our attempts at predicting precisely how those energies will manifest – both collectively and individually – have ranged historically from considerable accuracy to being way off the mark. As a critic wryly observed not long ago, if astrologers could consistently predict accurately they would all be millionaires by now.

The myth of Prometheus, who stole the gods’ fire in order to use it for humanity’s enlightenment and was savagely punished for his hubris, is a salutary one to contemplate as we think of astrology’s double edge. Fire warms us, lights up the dark, protects us – but it can also burn the hand that bears it. All illuminating knowledge, everything which takes humans a step forward into the light, also casts a dark shadow.

And here we are, as another year and decade begins, contemplating one of the astrological calendar’s most dynamic and exciting cycles. The fourteen-year cycle of Jupiter and Uranus, which last took place at 5-6 degrees of Aquarius in February 1997, is coming to an end. The new one zaps zero degrees Aries with its lightning bolt in June 2010.

 

Prometheus

Prometheus

And the myth of Prometheus, powerfully connected to the planet Uranus,

becomes once again startlingly relevant.

Now read on….

Astrology as a healing and a wounding art 2: the student/practitioner’s view

Please click on link to read the first article in this series of 3:

‘Astrology as a healing and a wounding art 1’


Part Two: From art to actual life – the student / practitioner’ s view

In further pursuing the exploration which my chance encounter with Lisa had begun, I asked my ongoing students for their comments. I was particularly keen to receive feedback from those in my monthly study/supervision group who had been students and practitioners for seven to eight years or more, feeling that they would have a more rounded perspective to offer, based on going through many different stages in their relationship with astrology.

They were asked to reflect on the healing and wounding aspects of working within the astrological model, from the viewpoint of the impact their involvement had had on their personal lives.

Here is their feedback which I found rich, eloquent and varied.

1) – Marie (52) –

Marie's Horoscope

Marie's Horoscope

“I came to astrology when you read my chart in May ‘87. Suddenly, after twenty one years, old pain I had partly buried, partly learned to live with, resurfaced.  I had to come to terms with it,  heal it, if I were to live with myself.  I had had a difficult time when I was nineteen.   At the time of the consultation, Uranus was squaring the Uranus of those events in 1966, and Pluto was conjunct my Chiron –  for me, astrology has always been a healing tool.

More recently, it helped me through the period of my father’s death in 1993 by enabling me to detach and accept by understanding the process.The Uranus/ Neptune conjunction was exact, squaring his 19 Libra sun. At the moment of his heart attack, the Ascendant was exactly conjunct my natal Chiron; Mercury was squaring my Chiron when he died.

For me, astrology is an invaluable tool. I trust more now in my own intuition, especially where the timing of events is concerned. I think we all subconsciously know when the time is right to take a decision, make a phone call, accept an offer or whatever. I   regularly run up charts for significant moments and find the Ascendant reveals the flavour of the moment, the Moon the timing of the event, Mars the motivating force underlying it and Mercury often literally brings the message.

An interesting example of this is when I began to realise that the house I lived in was playing a part in my healing process.  Being convinced of the significance of certain moments in time, I ran up a chart for the exact moment my husband and I  entered the house for the first time as owners.  It was Hallowe’en 1984 and the sun was at 8 Scorpio conjunct my Chiron.  Not only that, the house’s Chiron was conjunct my Moon and Node at 7 Gemini, the Moon was on my Ascendant and Venus on my MC.  Even more incredible, the Ascendant of the house chart was 29 Cancer 27, which turned out to be the Jupiter of  W.G. Morton, the artist who had  had it built in 1912 – his Jupiter was 29 Cancer 30 !   Morton’s  ghost haunted the house ; I   felt I could help him let go and move on.  My Pluto at 11 Leo is exactly conjunct his Moon and IC at 10 and 11 Leo.

These amazing synchronicities prove to me how finely tuned our lives are, and what a gift astrology is in helping me interpret the meaning of my life, face up to the dark side of my nature and co-operate as best I can with transits as they ebb and flow.

We don’t always get what we expect. My Mum’s Sun, Venus and Mars are at 2,6 and10 Sagittarius respectively.  With Pluto crossing these degrees and also opposing my Moon Node conjunction at 7 Gemini, I was scared I was going to lose her.  She is 84 ; when I looked ahead to these Pluto transits, it seemed a likely outcome. I’m sure you would agree that  projecting fear onto upcoming transits is one of the most obvious facets of the wounding side of astrology…….

However, as Pluto stripped away all that was unnecessary in her life, she began to give away her money and her jewelry and to talk about her death in a very matter-of-fact way. How  could she see us enjoy our inheritance if she’d gone?  Better still, she began for the first time in my life to tell me she loved me and  was proud of me, words I had waited for all my life. I no longer live in fear of her death, but accept all our time together now as a bonus.  During this period, Chiron was also busy. On the day she gave me , out of the blue, a large sum of money, Chiron was 2 Sagittarius ,conjunct  her sun, and the IC of the moment!

I can only sum up by saying that whenever I feel I’m stumbling around in the dark, astrology restores my faith in life by reconnecting me to a sense of meaning  and purpose.”

2) – Andrea (39) –

Andrea's Horoscope

Andrea's Horoscope

On the whole, I’ve been very lucky with the astrologers I’ve met. Almost all have been good people, good astrologers and have definitely helped me on my way. From a personal viewpoint, astrology has helped me to open my heart and my soul to a way of being centred on self-acceptance and love; I’m not sure I would have managed that otherwise. I’ve learned to treat myself with a bit more sympathy and understanding – and hopefully treat other people the same way. My experience of astrology has opened me to the deeper mysteries of life – even if I can’t put that into words or fully understand it, I know it’s there. That’s such a healing experience, because the sense of awe makes me want to try harder to be responsible for my life, to live it in a positive way.

Having said all that, for a while I didn’t look at the Ephemeris or any astrology. Partly, the reason for that is that astrology can turn me away from my own life. That seems a complete contradiction to what I’ve just said.

Maybe, for me, this is the wounded/wounding side of astrology  – being so busy reading astrology, looking at charts, thinking about aspects, looking at planets, transits, progressions, or midpoints meant I was too busy to live my life in the present – I would be thinking about the past or looking to the future.

Recently, when looking at my transits, (which I hadn’t looked at  for  months) I had a sharp intake of breath as I saw Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and progressed Moon all triggering off planets in my natal chart. The sense of trepidation  was almost overwhelming. I have to work hard to just meet life as it comes. For me, that’s a real challenge – astrology can help me to be more aware, but I have to resist the urge to think I know what it means before I get there.”

3) – Charlotte (35) –

Charlotte's Horoscope

Charlotte's Horoscope

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 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. “

4) – Alice (35) –

Alice's Horoscope

Alice's Horoscope


“ My first experience with ‘real’ as opposed to ‘Sun Sign’ astrology was at night school. My birth chart was not what I had expected. I was a true Sagittarian, adventurous, lucky, fun loving and optimistic, wasn’t I ? Oh yes – I was pleased with my grand trine in fire. That made sense; but a meek, mild, service-seeking Virgo ascendant was not exactly me. Oh well, I suppose I could come across that way to some people.

Then I see it – a small black glyph sitting right on top of my Ascendant. It must be a mistake. I feel like scrubbing it  out. I don’t want Pluto there on my lovely chart. I’m nothing like a Scorpion type – moody, emotional, secretive, jealous, controlling. My Venus sitting smugly in Capricorn does not enhance my frame of mind. I take small consolation from hearing it is earthy and loyal. I feel cheated, and continue to long for Venus in Taurus.

Gradually over the term, astrology stripped me of my pre-conceptions of myself, and left me exposed to the facts. I could no longer carry on in blissful denial of the deeper, darker side of my nature.

A significant  turning point came when I was asked to explain the types of things which had been happening to me, since I was experiencing my Saturn return at that point. I couldn’t explain. I hadn’t a clue what was going on. Where did I start? My teacher then summarised, in a couple of minutes, the way I had been feeling and how it was all part of a process. The light had been switched on. It was an amazing experience. I felt understood, accepted, and not alone.

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.”

to be continued

1900 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page