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Astropsychological Synthesis Date Published: by Richard Idemon
Bio: Richard Idemon Richard  Idemon

Richard Idemon was a major contributor to psychological astrology through his teaching and writing. Two books of his material have been published since his death in 1987, Through the Looking Glass, edited by Howard Sasportas and The Magic Thread, edited by Gina Ceaglio, both published by Samuel Weiser, York Beach, Maine. Cassette tapes by Richard Idemon, Liz Greene, Dane Rudhyar and other world-class astrologers are available through Pegasus Tapes, 1-800-288-Pegasus. You can also contact Pegasus Tapes at P.O. Box 419, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070, on the Internet at or via email at


(This article originally appeared in Astrology Now magazine No.16, edited by Noel Tyl.)


Richard  Idemon

We are on the threshold of a new age of synthesis. After too many years of narrow, dogmatic and overly specialized attempts to corner the market on knowledge, a new feeling of humility and openness is in the air. Theorists and practitioners in all of the sciences and philosophies are descending from their ivory towers and, looking around, are finding that ideas formerly condemned as heretical at worst and useless and outmoded at best have something new to say to them. Such a change parallels events that happened when the narrow medieval way of thinking opened to the broad flowering of the Renaissance. Many fine thinkers believe we are on the threshold of a new Renaissance at present.

The same coming together is happening in the worlds of astrology and psychology. For many years, psychology was dominated by the Freudians with their deterministic medical model and later by the limited perspectives of the experimentalists and behaviorists with their armies of white rats. If astrology was given any thought at all by these practitioners, it was condemned as antirational, a primitive belief-system based on no scientifically provable premise. Or it was condescendingly tolerated as a silly but harmless pastime for those who needed to "believe in something."

For the most part, forgetting the broad premises of its beautiful language, one finds that astrology as it fell from grace became equally narrow, retiring into an intellectual stagnation, obsessively defending "results" and predictions and catering ever more to the popularized lowest level of stereotype. Constantly on the defensive, astrologers spent many years trying to prove that astrology was not heretical when the church was the establishment that needed propitiating. A small percentage who felt capable of rising to its defense did so, at much personal risk; the rest became “occult,” or hidden, keeping their thoughts to themselves and studying and researching in private.

Now the church is no longer the establishment arbiter; it has been replaced by science. When that happened, astrologers again went on the defensive. It became important to show that astrology was scientifically verifiable and statistically provable. For the scientific mind for whom proof is based only in cause and effect, astrology is still rejected and often violently attacked. Although much important research has been done and theoretical causal models postulated, with many of astrology’s tenets empirically shown by research, the physical proof is not present and science is not satisfied.

While astrologers are no longer threatened with excommunication and the stake, in many places it is still illegal to practice astrology and one who does can be subjected to ridicule as a charlatan and treated with contempt as an intellectual pariah.

As a repressed minority, astrologers have exhibited behavior characteristics of all oppressed groups internecine battles, in which every different theory is violently attacked, coupled with personal assaults of a highly poisonous nature; pompousness and boasting, covering up self-contempt; an intense desire to placate and be accepted by the establishment alternating with fury and disdain for being rejected; isolation from the mainstream of new ideas; a sense of pride in being somehow superior, and an aggressive defensiveness toward even legitimate criticism. Yet, in spite of it all, there has been kept alive a vast richness of thinking and, even if largely untapped, an enormous source of creativity.

Making Connections

While increasing numbers of psychotherapists from many schools of thought are opening their minds toward metaphysics, particularly astrology, numbers of astrologers are also questioning the traditional ways, demanding the most possible from their art and striking out in many new directions. Some of the more modern techniques and theories of psychology are in the forefront among these.

A great debt of gratitude is owed to certain "bridge-men" who had the courage and foresight to reach out of the narrow confines of their disciplines and make connections with the larger world of ideas. Carl Jung, the great psychologist, and our own gifted pioneer of humanistic astrology, Dane Rudhyar, are two such eclectic philosophers. Now there is much traffic moving back and forth along the bridges these men helped build.

Astrology and psychology share an immediately apparent commonality in the derivation of their roots from the Greek logos. Logos, an extremely important word-concept to the Greeks, referred not only to "thought," the rational principle in the universe, but also to "discourse," or discussion. It was not thinkable to the Greeks that truth could be arrived at without the discussion and exchange of ideas. The explorations of Socrates and Plato would not have been possible without dialogues. Both astrology and psychology are branches of the science 0f philosophy: both are concerned with investigating the facts add principles of reality and of human nature and conduct.

From the earliest records we have of man as a "thinking animal," we are touched and awed by his attempts to understand and interpret his own behavior. He began a never ending search to find out why he sometimes felt alienated and disconnected from himself, his fellows and the universe of nature around him. He searched for ways to feel whole again. -This "divine discontent" gave impetus to questions that almost never could be answered directly or literally, but could be approached in terms of metaphor and symbol. Stared at directly, truth is elusive; approached subtly, it speaks. Speaking in the metaphorical languages of myth and legend, fairy tale, epic, and an openly wondering anthropomorphic observation of nature, this questioning was translated into art, philosophy, religion and science.

From then until now an apparently elusive dream of man has been to unite himself with his universe through some kind of universal language of the human condition.

The Quest for a Universal Language

Such a language would of necessity be symbolic rather than literal, because it would have to be broad enough to bind together concepts on countless levels and many different cultural and individual perceptions of reality. The word symbol is the key here; derived from the Greek synbollein, it means, “to throw together; to bind.” This language must be flexible enough to be capable of reaching across many shades of meaning and therefore it must be metaphorical, from the Greek meta-pherein, “to extend across, reach beyond.” It must have a system (from the Greek for “to place together”) and a logos, founded on rational thought capable of discourse. It must not be static, since if it is to be a language of the human condition, it must be capable of dealing with the growth process. It must have the capacity to show how we evolve, again from the Greek, evolvere, “to roll out, unfold.” Finally it must be both objective, observable in realities of time and space, and subjective, adaptable to individual interpretation.

In these words and the concepts that go with them, we see the Greeks’ intense concern for communication, bridging across, reaching and extending. This connecting and unity was fundamental to their world-view and is fundamental for any universal language.

Whenever a new symbol-system is created, man makes a quantum leap forward in his ability to communicate and conceptualize. Such was, the case when, moving from cuneiform and hieroglyph to an alphabet, a simple language symbol-system was created. Another gift from the Greeks, musical notation, gave music its symbolic language, freeing the musician from dependency on memorizing sounds and opening up immense creative and interpretive possibilities, as the alphabet freed the storyteller and the teacher. Mathematical symbology opened the possibility for science and philosophy to begin to explore and communicate quantitatively.

Yet these will not do as languages of the human condition because they lack a significant meaning. The expression A2-B2 contains symbols that are useful to the mathematician but, which have no inherent meaning unless we arbitrarily assign them one. A series of notes combined into chords and phrases can be played and enjoyed; but, again, they lack intrinsic meaning.

Hermann Hesse touched on this quest for a universal language in perhaps his greatest novel, Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game). In this book, a universal language employing both symbol and metaphor was used in practical, esthetic and spiritual ways in a highly civilized utopian province in the indeterminate future, called Castalia (named for the spring at Delphi sacred to the Muses and Apollo, the god of rational thought). Unfortunately, however, Hesse never described the rules or a system for his fictive game.

In their struggle to understand the human condition, psychologists have set up many different structures or models, with whole dictionaries full of new terminologies.

In their struggle to understand the human condition, psychologists have set up many different structures or models, with whole dictionaries full of new terminologies. There have been, hundreds of models with their own separate languages and followers, yet none of them, including the father of psychology, Freud himself, has succeeded in having a language of the human condition generally accepted as a least-common denominator language of psychology.

Of them all, perhaps no one has come closer to recognizing and answering this need than Carl Jung, who turned to other cultures, the historical and mythical past, to mysticism, dreams, and mandalas, and to astrology, for his theories of the archetype. This great bridge-man was, however, a Moses. Although he pointed the way to others he seemed never to have made the leap himself into the Promised Land of a universal language. He touched upon astrology but never pursued it deeply enough, coming up instead with his much more limited groups of types and functions.

After all this time, is it just an ideal dream to hope that such a universal language of the human condition can be found? The answer is that it cannot be “found,” because we have always had it! It has been with us from the very beginning, in differing forms but in all times and most cultures. Often debased, distorted, misused and misunderstood, but still vital today, it is enjoying a worldwide rebirth.

Of course, that language is astrology. It fulfills all the requirements. Properly used and understood, it is both a metaphorical and symbolic language flexible enough to be capable of many shades of meaning on many lovers of perception. It has both a system and a logos and is perfectly designed to deal with the process of evolution. It is not static unless its interpreters are static. It has concrete meaning, yet is infinitely variable in combinations. It is both objectively observable in time and space, yet subjectively adaptable to various interpretations based on individual and cultural differences. It is the,true language of the human condition and, I daresay, will be the universal language of psychology and the helping professions before the century is done. (Editor’s Note: This article was written in 1977.)

All working psychological models can be categorized in astrological language, as many therapists are finding, to their delight and amazement (and, I should add, in some cases, their ineffable horror!).

For example, where Freud might say that the ego bridges the gap and acts as arbiter between the primitive id and the civilized superego, and is created in part by the struggle between the two, the transactionalanalyst might refer to the “child” and “parent” in conflict for dominance and the “adult” who resolves the differences and is formed in the process. This can be pictured clearly and in more detail astrologically. From the perspective of Earth, taking the planets in their relative speeds through the ecliptic, fastest first, we see this structure:

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Leaving out the modern planets, we find the Moon (id, child) at one end of the continuum and Saturn (superego, parent) at the other. Midway between the two is the Sun (ego, adult). Graphically presented in symbolic language, astrology “throws together” two very different systems of psychological thought within one picture.

Naturally, this doesn’t begin to touch on all the possibilities. When these three planets are considered by sign, house and aspect, and the gestalt of the chart as a whole is considered, individual indication can be surmised exceeding by far in useful detail and potential for understanding the most complex of psychological tests devised. The resulting information can then be translated back into language understood by the Freudian or the transactional analyst.

Limitations of Linear Thought

Astrology has been limited heretofore as a psychological language by the narrowness and negativity in interpretation as presented in the majority of traditional texts. Turned aside from the wide avenues of its metaphorical meanings, astrology, always adaptable, became a reflection of the linear judgmental/deterministic thinking that has been the legacy of Western civilization since Aristotle taught that “A is not B” and Paul brought dogma to Christ’s teachings. A society that could live by such linear propositions as saved/damned, good/evil and right/wrong provided a fertile absolutist soil for an astrology that conceived of its world in terms of malefics/benefics, good/evil aspects, afflictions, falls, detriments and debilitations. Such supersimplified pablum, offering easy, neat answers to complex questions, always has appealed to the uneducated and lazy and from time beyond memory has been used by rulers to control their people. It was not only astrology that fell victim to this kind of thinking. Traditional therapists, the majority of whom still subscribe to the medical model, still see behavior in terms of normal/abnormal, sick/healthy and adjusted/maladjusted.

With such a world-picture there is little room for growth and evolution, for finding one’s own uniqueness, to individuate in one’s own way and at his own speed. These things are most difficult in a society that equates conformity with normality and differentiation with sickness. Fortunately, humanistic and holistic movements in both astrology and psychology are growing rapidly today. Perspectives are changing.

“Esoteric” astrology, in large part influenced by the Theosophist movement in the last century, tried to reclaim the lost spiritual values in an astrology that was, at that time, and for centuries before, almost totally dominated by mundane practice. Good intentions aside, the esoteric astrologers generally fell victim to the same trap of linear value judgment thinking as their more mundanely oriented colleagues. How much difference does it make if the mundane astrologer describes Saturn in the fifth house as “delay or denial of children” as compared to the esotericist’s “Suffering must be endured in connection with children because it was here you failed to live up to your responsibilities in a past life”? In either of these deterministic perspectives, how can the individual struggling to grow toward consciousness take responsibility and active steps toward furthering his own evolution? In both cases, he is but a passive recipient, a reactor to what the “chart indicates for him” or to what his “past karma has accrued for him.” Many astrologers cause enormous harm with this kind of determinism, then neatly get themselves off the hook of any responsibility for the outcome by reciting that old saw about the stars “impelling but not compelling.”

This is not by any means to imply that astrology has not an important function to play in the mundane world of things and events and much to say about our spiritual process as part of our evolution. But the old interpretation of the symbols simply will not do for helping the questing human being deal with his problems and discover the path for his growth and development.

A woman with Uranus in the seventh house went to an astrologer for a reading. Her marriage had just ended in a divorce. She was hurt, confused, feeling bitter and full of blame and guilt. She needed support, validation and guidance. A mundanely oriented astrologer told her that “Uranus is debilitated in the chart and is naturally unstable and does not promise success in marriage,” and then went on to say, “Saturn in transit squaring your Uranus has caused the marriage to terminate.” The astrologer then went on to advise her to “marry an Aquarius next time, or someone who is an inventor or in modern communications.” Without any more insight into the dynamics of herself or her failed marriage, the woman left the session validated in her feeling that she was being put upon by the universe and was a helpless victim of that debilitated Uranus and transiting Saturn! She then went to a more esoteric astrologer, having been told she might expect a more spiritual perspective.

Here she was told that the reason her marriage failed was that “Uranus is malefic and afflicted in your chart. This indicates that you left your spouse abruptly in a past life. What happened to you is only karmic retribution. Your spiritual task in this lifetime is to learn to devote yourself only to large groups and to forget about marriage. Should you marry again the same thing will most likely happen.”

This woman later became a client of mine, appearing for her counseling session in a rather shattered emotional state after these two encounters. Indeed, I wondered why she hadn’t given up on astrology entirely. After trying to repair some of the deterministic damage, we began slowly exploring some of the dynamics of her past relationship and what her attitudes about herself were. She gradually began to become aware of a pattern running through her life in which she always seems attracted to brilliant but unstable men who have something out of the ordinary about them. Her relationships always seemed to work as long as things were kept free and open. She always had managed abruptly to terminate these relationships when she felt her independence threatened. Her projection on men was that they were erratic, and never to be completely trusted. These words were her own choices used in describing herself and her picture of the world. Together we examined how Uranus was a symbol for these attitudes, and how, in her fear of being trapped in an intimate relationship, she had deliberately always sought out unstable or unavailable men. In her marriage, she constantly blamed her husband for not providing “magic” for her and was extremely erratic in her affections toward him, continuing to see some of her old boyfriends in what she claimed were merely platonic meetings. When her husband subsequently began seeing an old girlfriend, she accused him of fickleness and inconstancy, complaining that “like all men, he was not to be trusted.” It is not necessary to pursue the unfolding of her story to its obvious conclusion.

What is important is that in our time together no judgments were given, no results predicted, not a word of advice stated. Instead we explored together how her consciousness, in this case focused quite a bit on those qualities symbolized by Uranus, had affected her relationships and how she might best deal with that part of her nature. Much of this was very painful—such exploration usually is; but we both felt that she had grown and that her life had taken on a new and deeper meaning.

In the beginning it is not easy for astrologers to give up the linear judgmental/deterministic system most of us originally learned and to begin to see the language in a different way—circular and metaphorical. It is of course never a question of one system being “right” and another being “wrong.” (That would be linear!) The question to propose is how to utilize the astrological language in its deepest and fullest sense and how to maximize the facilitation of personal growth and knowledge for ourselves, our clients and students.

Archetypes and Stereotypes

To begin using astrology as a metaphorical language, we might start with the signs. Webster defines sign as a “conventional symbol representing an idea. The 12 signs, the basis of our astrological language, are not physical, have no functions per se, but exist as ideas or symbolic representations of a process of growth and evolution inherent in all nature from the macrocosm of the universe to the microcosm of unicellular life and, of course, to man. As principles of a 12-fold process of evolution, a symbolic master plan in a manner of speaking, the signs are best conceived of as archetypes. This term, popularized by Jung to explain his theory of the collective unconscious, is highly important to a metaphorical concept of astrology. An archetype is simply an enlarged example of a universal principle expressed literally as a “stamp” or “pattern.” Some of Jung’s archetypes were named “Wise Old Man,” “Great Mother,” “Merry Prankster,” and “Puer Aeternis (Eternal Child).”

As an archetypal system degenerates, it begins to turn into one of stereotypes. This can only happen when the principles it represents are taken literally. Unfortunately, as there usually remains a seed of truth in the stereotype, it is assumed by those who don’t understand the system of which it is merely a fossil remnant—to be a total statement of truth. This is really what popularized Sun sign astrology is all about. Easy paste-up labels on linearly arranged pigeonholes. Therefore, Leos are proud and playful; Geminis, scattered and curious; Capricorns, rigid and ambitious.

Each time those of us who ought to know better play the “Sun sign Game” and identify ourselves as “a Leo” or “a Gemini,” we are contributing to a literal, stereotypical astrology rather than to the great sweep of an archetypal and metaphorical system. This has done astrology untold harm throughout many years and long delayed its acceptance as a legitimate field of inquiry for thoughtful and educated people.

To further understand the idea of archetype, we might consider some more contemporary ones. If I were to describe my friend Jack as a “Peacock,” of course you would not literally expect a feathered beastie to walk into the room, answering to the name of “Jack”! Instead, you would understand that I meant that allusion metaphorically, not literally. For my choice of image you might surmise that Jack is a rather pompous, strutting type, perhaps proud of his appearance, elegant and somewhat supercilious.

If your sister Edie is a typical “Jewish Mother,” I would understand that does not necessarily mean Edie is either Jewish or a mother. But I would assume that she is highly maternal, perhaps possessively so, that she binds loved ones to her with an umbilical made up of service and guilt, and that she has tendencies toward being smothering, overnurturing and dependent.

Rosemary might be a “Vamp”: not literally a vampire, but a seductive, alluring and devouring woman. Ed is a “Dr. ]ekyll & Mr. Hyde”— an unreliable, volatile and multifaceted person. An “Earth Mother” would be sensual, natural and prolific. And a “Schoolmarm” would be orderly and correct and a bit prissy.

It doesn’t require too much stretching of the imagination to connect these familiar modern archetypes with astrological stereotyping. You’ve probably already done so! The Peacock seems to describe the characteristics of Leo, and the Jewish Mother, Cancer. The Vamp is obviously Scorpio and Jekyll/Hyde a Gemini. Taurus is the Earth Mother and Virgo the Schoolmarm. To take this analogy to its ultimate absurd conclusion, one might imagine the following dialogue: “Hi, Alice. Well, here’s my new baby. He’s a beautiful little Jewish Mother.” “Oh, Joan,” replies Alice, “how nice! You know I’m a Vamp myself, and really get along well with Jewish Mothers. My boyfriend is one.” “I’d never have guessed you were a Vamp, Alice, you sure don’t act like one. I’d have guessed you were a Peacock or maybe an Earth Mother.”

“Me a Peacock? God, I can’t stand them. I was married to one once and that was enough for me. If you weren’t such a typical Jekyll and Hyde, Joan, you’d remember I told you before I was a Double Vamp!”

This rather wacky Alice-in-Wonderland conversation suddenly takes on a more sobering if ironic note when you realize that if you substituted the astrological sign stereotype for the popular archetype, you would be listening to a very typical conversation among the modern astrologically oriented. Indeed, all one need do is attend any astrological conference or gathering to hear this dialogue and its derivatives in every nook and cranny!

As soon as we begin to free ourselves from stereotypical identification with one or more signs as “my signs” and dismissing the qualities represented by the others, and instead recognize that the archetypal qualities of all 12 signs principles are manifesting themselves somehow in each one of us, we are well on the way toward integration and becoming whole. Interestingly, it is very often the signs in which we have no planets at all that turn out to be psychologically dominant in our lives through such mechanisms as overcompensation, repression or projection.

A Prismatic Model

Imagine, as a model for the human condition, a crystal prism. The clear white light of the Sun would be refracted and broken down into the 12 colors of the spectrum. Instead of identifying these 12 wave frequencies in terms of visible colors, suppose we imagined each of them to be connected with a universal principle or archetype. As in the rainbow, all the colors would always be present, but due to particular individual circumstances related to temperature, atmospheric conditions, moisture and so on, some colors would seem more dominant than others at a particular moment.

This model would be paralleled in our individual prism of consciousness: it would be circular like the Sun, or our own mandala, the horoscopic wheel. All archetypes would be present in all people but some would become dominant in certain individuals, some apparently more “recessive.” Many planets in air signs or cardinal signs, for instance, might show a dominance in those areas, a psychological “path of least resistance,” or the most normal and natural way for a person with such placements to behave and to see his world. Other areas, water signs and water houses, for example, may have few or no placements, indicating a psychic “path of most resistance,” an area in need of more effort toward integration and consciousness. In our circular system, we must not consider either dominant or recessive psychic energies to be good or bad, but only as signs to draw our attention to the process in which one molds many seemingly disparate and paradoxical facets into one whole functioning individual.

These archetypes, which we might call frequencies of consciousness, if they were universal enough, would serve as models not only for the evolution and process of individual conscious but also for those of an entire species or any entity with a collective consciousness. Certainly it seems that they would serve beautifully as a psychological model. To function thus successfully, the archetype should be formed of combinations of qualities visible in the physical world and paralleled metaphorically in the behavior of man.

Among these qualities must be Polarity. This would necessarily be so, for evolution is due to the interplay and tension between the energies variously referred to as Yang, masculine, positive, active, expressive, light or Apollonian, and those referred to as Yin, feminine, negative, reactive, repressive, dark or Dionysian. Jung himself remarked that the process of realizing the self, or integrating a whole person, is due to the tension and struggle between the conscious and the unconscious.

Our 12-fold prismatic model, reflecting this struggle and tension and flowering open; should show alternating qualities of Yang and Yin, light and dark, just as nature does in its cycles of days and seasons. The first of the 12 archetypes should be Yang, indicating the positive, outgoing and creative characteristics of the Alpha or beginning, the power needed for the emergence from the collective chaos/potential into individuality. The last should be Yin, the passive, surrendering of individuality at the end or Omega, and the regathering into the collective. In the growth process, each quality evolves or “folds out” of the one before, only to be superseded by the next.

All forces in nature have a Modality, a characteristic action or motion. There are three: centrifugal, proceeding outward from the center; centripetal, drawing inward toward the center; and fluctuating, dispersing in several directions, resulting from the combination of the first two modes. Or as physics states: when an irresistible force meets an immovable object, energy is released. These modalities, as part of our metaphorical model, are known to the astrologer as cardinal, fixed and mutable.

Since matter occurs in various Forms—solid, liquid, gaseous or energy—our metaphorical human model also operates on four levels of form or “type.” These differentiated ways of being were roughly paralleled by Jung in his usage of the four types he called sensation, feeling, thinking and intuition. In keeping with our archetypal system and making up part of the frequencies of consciousness of which the archetypes are composed, we would see that the form which we refer to as solid, metaphorically applied to the human being, would imply a response on the physical, desire or sense level. Liquid would seem to correlate to the emotional, psychic, feeling level gaseous, to the communicative, rational or cognitive level; and energy, to the creative, spiritual, action level. These four ways of being correspond to the water, earth, air and fire functions known in astrological language as the elements.

We may also add a category called Perspective, an orientation in time and space. The view of the world to the worm is vastly different from the eagle’s. The perception of the universe is much broader in time and space to the old person than it is to the infant. In our metaphorical model, we might name these perspectives personal (the ego-development and survival stage where the focus is mostly on self), social (the process of becoming aware of and interacting with others), and universal (the expansion of the vision to the collective or transpersonal level). Astrologically, the personal perspective would relate to the first four signs, social to the second four and universal to the last four.

Our model is as shimmering and fluid as the rainbow, since we are concerned ultimately with the process of growth metaphorically expressed, not with results, “right answers,” or value judgments. Therefore, none of these qualities need be expressed dogmatically. Instead their themes are open for rhapsodizing by the artist who interprets them.

Making the Model Come to Life

By simple synthesis, we can put together, as an example, component qualities of Yin polarity, fluctuating modality, feeling type and universal perspective and assemble by process of induction that archetype known as “Pisces.” But that is not enough; it is only part of the picture, because that which we name Pisces is in itself only part of a greater whole. It cannot be properly understood without relation to its place within the entire schema, the process of 12. For unless we understand where it is coming from (the qualities/signs that have preceded it) and where it is in the process of going to (qualities and signs following) and what it is completed through (quality/sign opposite it) and so on, we have simply a static description that leads us down the well-worn path once more toward stereotype.

Hamlet may be understood and appreciated on one level by those scholars who enjoy the beauty of the verses by scanning the pentameter or researching historical allusions buried in the play. Others enjoy reading it for the sweep and excitement of the plot. But to be fully realized, the play must be performed— and not just performed, but viewed by an audience. This is a process, a conceptualization fulfilled. Process has motion, concepts are static. Only in this way, with all the component parts, interweaving and interrelating, does it truly come alive. On all levels of consciousness we are then touched: our physical senses are delighted by the sounds of the poetry, texture and colors of costumes, beauty of graceful movement, our thinking function is fascinated by the wit and wisdom in the lines and the dexterity in the author’s handling of ideas; our feelings are moved and touched by identification with the suffering mortals exposing their lives before us; spiritually we are renewed after the catharsis of tragedy. We feel more truly human, more hopeful, more at one with ourselves, our loved ones and all humanity. Such is the power to bind in anything taken as a whole.

Anything may be “understood” in a number of ways. To break it down into its component parts gives one picture and to see it functioning as a whole gives another picture. But to see it in process, actively relating to all the qualities and components of its system, is to make it come alive!

It is not yet completely clear to me whether astrology, as its concepts and processes become more and more accepted by other disciplines, will continue to any great degree to exist as a separate field of study and practice. Philosophers, theologians and social scientists may reclaim the theoretical part for them solves. Psychotherapists and physicians, once aware of the value of astrology both as a diagnostic tool and as a process of healing and growth, may claim the counseling part for themselves. As more is discovered about our cosmos and its effects on the behavior and consciousness of man, scientists will claim the research credits for themselves. Terminology will probably be changed for the protection of ivy-encrusted reputations, but the principles will be the same. Under other names, astrology may be absorbed into the university, the laboratory and the church, and the stereotyped astrologer will zany little old lady in a flowered hat.

The handwriting is already on the wall, and many of the things referred to above have already begun to happen. If astrology is to survive and earn the position of respect it so truly deserves, massive changes in consciousness will be required among all those who love and study it.

Stumbling Blocks

Astrology’s most natural allies at this time are the humanistically oriented psychotherapists who are receiving more and more attention and respect all the time. Eclectic and experimental, open to using whatever works, many of them already work with theories and techniques as widely varied as meditation, chanting, ritual, tarot, I Ching, yoga, acupuncture and so on. It is not such a great leap for them to recognize that astrology may provide the language for the human condition that has so long been sought. Many of them, indeed, are already using it in their own practices. But there are stumbling blocks to its further large acceptance.

Arcane language. Traditional astrology’s rather arcane language is intimidating to those who are not already open to the long process of familiarizing themselves with a very specialized prediction-and-result oriented astrology—which is of course as foreign to the world-picture of holistic astrologies as it is to that of holistic psychologies. By approaching our language metaphorically and symbolically we can bridge the gap (a narrow one at present) between ourselves and these new-wave therapists. By understanding human growth as a combination of accepting responsibility for our own lives and a process of unfoldment of all our total possibilities for uniqueness, we are right in line with the most advanced therapies.

Counseling as an art itself. Another block exists to keep that narrow gap from being bridged. It is simply that psychotherapists are counselors who have had to submit to many hours of supervised counseling training in order to work with clients. Some are good and some are bad, but all of them have been trained. Astrologers are counselors who, for the most part, have had no training in counseling and little if any supervision.

Counseling is an art, and, as can be said about the practitioners of any art, some folks have natural talent approaching genius, some have a little talent that with training can become better, and some just don’t have it. Most artists submit to a period of apprenticeship in their craft where they work with a master or teacher who helps them grow and develop in their own way, supervising and correcting the most obvious mistakes. Of course there are always the few exceptions who are such naturally gifted improvisers that willy-nilly somehow they usually stumble on the right way to handle each situation. (Of course, we all hope/assume we are one of these exceptions.)

Three important points here: first, to be a talented chart interpreter has nothing to do with whether one is a good counselor or not. Secondly, whether one chooses to call himself a counselor or not, every; time he engages in dialogue about a person’s life and its problems he is counseling, whether he calls the process a “reading,” an “interpretation” or anything else. Finally, it would seem only morally and ethically just to make oneself as trained and competent as one can if one is going to take on the enormous responsibility of being a “helping person.”

I don’t necessarily mean that one need return to school and get a degree in psychology or social work, although many of our colleagues of all ages (some with very many years of experience as astrological readers behind them) are doing just exactly that. There are courses in counseling offered in most colleges and in some areas privately. In most communities, volunteers are eagerly sought after in many different settings such as prisons, clinics, hospitals, orphanages and the like. In almost every case, trained supervisors will gladly share from their experiences in counseling with the volunteer. Besides, work on a volunteer basis is wonderful karma yoga and food for the soul. Also there are veritable libraries of books written on counseling techniques available to anyone with the price of a library card.

With astrologers and therapists taking the risk of departing from narrow, conventionalized ways of thinking and practicing and gradually moving toward each other across the bridge of metaphor and symbol, it cannot be too long before astrology becomes what it has always seemed destined to be: the universal language of the human condition. Neither being taken over by the other, these two great arts may merge their identities With other philosophies and spiritual movements to form the basis for a healing and belief system designed for a new age.

In the preface to the second edition of Toward a Psychology of Being, the late Abraham Maslow, known as the “Father of Humanistic Psychology,” referred to his hopes for a new fourth wave in psychology to follow the Freudian, the behaviorist/experimentalist and the humanistic. He said:

I should say that I consider Humanistic, Third Force psychology to be transitional, a preparation for a still “higher” Fourth psychology, transpersonal, transhuman, centered in the cosmos rather than in human needs and interest, going beyond humanness, identity, self-actualization and the like.... These (new) psychologies give promise of developing into the life-philosophy, the religion-surrogate, the value-system, the life program that . . . people have been missing....

Maslow goes on to say that we need something “bigger than we are” to be awed by and committed to. Without too much hubris, we, as astrologers, may feel we know what Maslow was envisioning. We are the seed-men and -women of that new fourth wave. And the planting time is now.


© Copyright: Richard Idemon





Other articles by Richard Idemon:

Idemon, RichardHological Astrology – A Powerful Tool for Diagnosis and Healing



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