“Here vigour failed the lofty fantasy:
But now was turning my desire and will,
even as a wheel that equally is moved,
The love which moves the sun and the other stars.”
Dante’s last line in Paradise
Last December, shortly after my mother passed away, I signed up for Adam Elenbaas’s Hellenistic Astrology course*. How little I understood then the timeliness of this course of study with its potential for reseeding and sustaining me through the subsequent changes in my personal life. The class is difficult, challenging me to discipline my study habits and to align them with the teacher’s plan and vision – for learning now, and eventually, for practicing astrology on my own.
Here goes a first attempt at articulating some thoughts I have about astrology, which like alchemy, I see primarily as a practice for deepening my understanding of the human experience, where the map can align with the territory, revealing a new depth perspective of the landscape. There are countless details yet to incorporate before this new language can begin to be more fully articulated. Astrology itself, is a big world, filled with many diverse voices and perspectives.
Astrology, in the most basic sense, is a way to see and discover the vast array of correspondences between heaven and earth, between the ideal or archetypal realm, and the everyday world of our lives and the patterns revealed over time. The astrological chart then, is an image of the skies from the perspective of Earth. The “wheel” shows the positions of the planets from two distinct perspectives:
- Primary or geocentric motion: the clockwise east to west motion that we observe from sunrise to sunset.
- Secondary, or heliocentric motion: the counter-clockwise motion of the planets relative to the constellations or zodiac.
Astrology, like alchemy, can provide yet another form or structure for an initiation into a personal experience of the eternal mysteries, the Divine will of the gods, of which we each share a portion of both their glory and fall, or what the ancients referred to as fate.
Fate: late Middle English: from Italian fato or (later) from its source, Latin fatum ‘that which has been spoken’, from fari ‘speak’.
Throughout human history, and in a variety of cultures, astrologers have provided us with the tradition of tending to the “wandering stars” as signifiers of power for their ability to move contrary to the backdrop of the fixed stars. Perhaps the awareness of this secondary motion, sparked the idea that we too, could either harness their powers, or be harnessed, depending on our knowledge and alignment with the heavens. If fate itself is a power, perhaps, we too, could understand it, or least be present to its impact upon us.
That we are situated, a human body on this tiny planet, in such a largely unknown cosmos, when not taken for granted, is humbling. Perhaps through the recognition that astrology offers us a vision of alignment with the cycles of the planets, we might feel all the more that we too, must belong. We are after all stardust! In some ways, we have lost the sense of connection to the underlying powers of any unseen world, just as we no longer remember the stories of the ancient ones.
I am grateful to have found an astrology teacher who suits me well. Adam is immersed in a variety of esoteric traditional studies (See his excellent series on the Hermetica), and views astrology as yet another practice that can mirror back to us the ways we are aligned, or misaligned as the case may be, to the cosmos. Through this embodied life, with all of its joys and sorrows, we are, all of us, offered an experience of something so much greater than what meets the eye.
Are we able to embrace the totality of our personal experience as necessary parts of the whole and so align ourselves into a radical acceptance of the need for cooperation with each other and the powers that be?
Traditional, or Hellenistic astrology, unlike more modern forms, did not shy away from the idea that each of the planets held distinct qualities and influences, and with the exception of Mercury, were considered either benefic or malefic, depending on the qualities of their illumination. Jupiter, big and bright, is considered a benefic, and brings expansion and good fortune, Saturn, with its darker nature, and the farthest away of the seven known planets, was seen as malefic, associated with the time-bound, finite qualities of living beings and, until the more recent discoveries of Neptune, Uranus and Pluto, also served as the end of conceivable time and space.
The ancients, of course, were more vulnerable to the hardships of life, and hence, to a fear of the unknown with the need to seek and find meaningful tools for survival. The idea of fate, that the heavens could “speak” our predicament, was deeply embedded in day to day existence of many peoples and often related to” divine will” whose powers were transmitted through earthly conduits, such as demigods and royalty. To seek access to the divine gifts of the gods was a way to harness power for both mystical and political practices.
While some moderns might argue that rational thought replaced the superstitions of astrology, and that we are better off for it, one must not only ignore the technological context of objective reality in any given era, but might also reflect on the condition we now find ourselves in. If for us moderns, it is no longer true that we can directly experience the state of the world through feeling her mystery, awe, beauty, fear and joy, and if we have become incapable of seeing that the use of technology and political norms has brought us to the brink of destruction, then we are left with a meaningless “nothing but” world of bucket lists, calendar dates with a heap of destruction in their wake.
The Natal Chart
As I am just beginning to learn the basics of reading a natal chart, useful patterns already begin to emerge. As I ponder the meanings of planetary positions, aspects, house placements and dignities, a story emerges that resonates deeply within me.
Any form of an interior practice should, I think, take nothing on faith, but keep all questions front and center. As well, questioning need not deter one from engaging the practice. As with other forms of contemplative practices, trusting in the process as a potential for opening oneself deeper into reflection becomes another precious gift.
My prayer is for the humility to release me into current life changes; to stay with this new practice; to trust and accept in tending to the work, and that it may bear fruit worth sharing.
- Along with the Nightlight Astrology class experience, I am also grateful to KoneKrusoKronos for his astrological reflections that can be found here:
- And also to astrologer, Lynn Bell, another source of inspiration, especially around much needed emerging insights into my relationship with my mother.
- And to Adam Elenbaas, whose meditation on the upcoming eclipse, July 16 can be heard here: Lunar Eclipse in Capricorn: The Nature of Love and Suffering
15 thoughts on “Meditations on Astrology”
Thank you ❤
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What great information! I just started a new blog dedicated to trying out all kinds of new hobbies and documenting the process. My most recent post is about my birth chart! Check it out!!
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Pingback: Meditations on Astrology — Theoria – Rexton digital
I love your title, Debra! This is pretty much what astrology has been for me since I was a child and teenager: meditation.
What I have here, pardon my link for expediency and refresh on my part: https://fiestaestrellas.com/2014/06/13/conceptualizing-astrology-the-universe-and-you-2/ is an older piece I wrote back in 2014. I want to review it and update it or scrap it because I have shifted, but the “new” has not quite arrived.
It’s neat to have known you before your love for astrology really caught fire 🔥 (in its current form, because I’d say it was there when I met you) and to see how you found the perfect teachers and influences.
I’m so sorry for your mother’s passing. I imagine her influence and I wonder about your grief process. I hope you are able to allow that space for yourself. Sending lots of love.
At this stage for me astrology has become so much more rooted internally in my personal practices and in ritual as I delve into another way to dance with my planetary influences! My work is mostly private at this point but I find having study groups and fellow journeyers working with the same processes helps a lot, as I am doing at my Medicine Woman apprenticeship and have been studying as shamanic practitioners for years now. In the past I did chart readings and it is also a deepening of practice and relationship.
I feel always as the beginning and it’s so refreshing!
Happy studying to you!
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Thank you for the link and the note! I look forward to reading your post and reconnecting here. For now, I am using the tropical zodiac. And yes! You rightly point out that an existing love for astrology is becoming more deeply rooted.
I’ll write more later… lots of changes going on right now. I’m in the last few weeks of full time employment and am also getting ready to move to North Carolina in August to be closer to my family. Lots of changes, but life is good!
I look forward to catching up with you.
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I am so impressed that you are doing a Hellenistic astrology course. I can see this as a career for you. I discovered astrology in 2001 and in the same year I went to an “astrology camp” in Poland. It was quite an experience. I remember someone telling me there to think twice before I continue studying it because astrology has a way of turning one’s life upside down, because so much insight brings about chaos and revolution. Well, it certainly did that for me in that memorable year.
I am a Gemini with Mercury (retrograde) in Gemini conjunct my Sun. Maybe this is why I cannot commit to one type of astrology but try to look at all of them at once. But the whole sign houses suddenly grabbed me when I heard about them the first time and I think they make so much sense.
Debra, I hope we can continue our conversations here in the blogosphere. If you ever visit Europe, I’ll be so happy to meet you or host you – I mean it. I am sorry that I accidentally unfollowed your blog. I have no idea how and when that happened.
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Ah, wonderful, Monika! We have a bit of catching up here and lots to share about astrology. I accidentally unfollowed Linda’s blog. I have no idea how that happened, so I understand. In fact, I hadn’t noticed!
Looking forward to our conversation. I am going into semi-retirement next month and moving to be closer to family. I’m so excited to have the time to dedicate to studying astrology, reading and writing more here.
Now that I have a few moments, I wanted to thank you for the wonderfully generous invite to visit you! I hope that someday I am able to!
I chose to study with Adam because he really emphasizes the importance of astrology being incorporated into other spiritual practices that we have. I agree with you though, and I also sense a shift in the astrological community, that we don’t have to strictly embrace 100% of any style of astrology. Adam sees Hellenistic astrology as covering the history and the foundational ideas that the ancients had from their observations of the behavior and qualities of the planets, and their relationships to each other. Astrology and astronomy had yet to be divorced from each other. I have always enjoyed the night sky, but now, being more aware of the positions and aspects of the planets, that same sky takes on new meaning.
But he, just as some other traditionally rooted astrologers, is also a fan of Liz Green, and others who have more of a psychological and modern take on astrology, especially in chart reading. I think that whole sign houses create a cleaner approach where one doesn’t have to do back flips to understand the meaning of the houses. I am also a fan of using the Thema Mundi to assign rulerships, and to keep clear of blurring the meanings between houses and signs. It seems both fair and valuable for astrology to read Vettius Valens and others from that time period, but just as fair to read Alan Leo and Dane Rudhyar.
Having said that, I am just now beginning to derive meaning from my natal chart. It’s a very slow process of putting the pieces together, and applying them to both my own character and to the patterns in my life and relationships to others. There’s so much there, and much of it is spot on, where some of it has the power to reveal what three years of therapy might not get close to!
Another piece of advice from Adam is to keep a daily moon journal in order to get a sense of the moods of the moon through the signs and houses. I have been doing this for six months and am just beginning to notice some patterns in the shifting of energies and moods. I would say that more time is needed to feel comfortable with seeing correlations.
Anyway, I have a long way to go, I think, before I can feel confident in reading charts. I am smitten though!
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Debra, thank you for providing those links to my blog, we appreciate it.
Its also very nice to see your insights in the study of Astrology, and share them, Astrology its little understood in our day, even if practiced by many, few grasp its importance beyond the casting of a chart.
One of the reasons, I never went into it professionally, was the limited scope most people use it for, frankly I realized early how boring was for me to study a chart of any person to answer particular questions about their mundane interest, as for richness , and love, rather than use it as an Alchemical tool for Spiritual transformation.
I know, people look for help, and guidance, sometimes based on the common ego concerns we all hold, and its nice if we can be of some service.
I kind of smile, just this morning, just casually, a person of the Aries sign, we had a long conversation about his many ventures, he has started, on his life just to abandon them for x, or y reasons, and the many times he hits his head symbolically, and physically.
I was able to talk to him into focus more into seeking richness into his Spiritual life, a different perspective, rather than give him advice into what new material venture he should launch himself into.
We all are the Crucible, were the lower metals subjected to very high temperatures, need to be sublimated into Gold.
Blessings to you Debra. 🙂
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Ha ha, yes, just search Youtube for astrology and you’ll find thousands of “astrologers” willing to reassure you that NEXT month, all your dreams will come true!
One of the reasons that I chose to study with Adam Elenbaas is that not only does he have a spiritual practice in Bhakti yoga, but his style of teaching astrology includes an emphasis that without some sort of spiritual practice, any meaning derived from the study will be diluted in terms of applying it to one’s life.
It’s extremely challenging in modern culture to keep a practice. Not only are there so many temptations to seek out fast-food style entertainment, there are plenty of charlatans and gurus out there willing to dangle a carrot in front of your face if you’d only follow them. It’s definitely a radical notion (perhaps it always has been), to see and live one’s life for the purpose of communion with the sacred or divine through one’s own direct experience. It’s especially difficult to keep a foot in both worlds.
Glad that you liked the post. Thank you for your note!
It is great to see you do an Astrology post! I am sorry to learn about your mom’s passing. I would imagine you have discovered how your chart reflects all major life changes you are now experiencing. Glad you found teachers and mentors who ” align” with your particular worldview. No doubt you will be an awesome practitioner if you choose to work with clients. After all we, both share the wonderfully uniquely insightful Scorpio/Gemini signatures that speak to emotional intelligence, sharp insights, and uncanny research and interpretation skills.
love to you,
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I was hoping you would comment here! After all, you did read my chart and have helped spark my renewed interest in astrology that has been fermenting for a few years now.
It’s amazing that astrology found me before I realized I would greatly benefit from digging deeper into the study and practice of it. Feel free to weigh in, but one pattern I see in my chart that seems aligned to the timing of my two marriages, both of which have now ended in divorce, is Uranus conjunct sun in the tenth house and conjunct the midheaven using whole sign houses. I see that both Saturn returns and the heavy Uranus seem to align with the sudden changes in the ending of both of these marriages.
I also suspect that Neptune conjunct the ascendant, along with a ton of strong mercury aligns with my love of both language and having a tolerance for ambiguity.
A lot of stuff has been surfacing around my mother since her passing, although it feels like a delayed reaction in a sense. I feel her presence a lot lately, as if she is with me, redeeming both her wounds and mine. It’s lovely, but has been a painful slog, as it should be. Suffering, as I am sure you know from your own challenges, is humbling.
More will come later, including, I’m sure, revising what I see, as I dig in deeper.
I hope that you are doing well. Any thoughts about this year’s eclipse season?
I look forward to more conversations with you about astrology…
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I would enjoy continuing this conversation with you offline, via email, etc
PS I really love the art you chose, incredibly gorgeous. 🙂
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Yes! Let’s do that. Do you still have my email address? It’s pteronine @ gmail.com (minus the spaces, of course)
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