Though I have been practicing as a medical astrologer for almost thirty years, it only recently occurred to me that what is so obvious to me is not at all understood by my colleagues. Of course, I did know that it was difficult to explain what I do in one sentence at a dinner table, but I did not quite realize that this was equally true at banquets at astrology conferences!
To the best of knowledge, astrology and medicine were not, even in the West, regarded as two separate disciplines until some centuries ago. Before that, all educated persons were broadly acquainted with astrology, philosophy, and medicine. Interestingly, whereas astrology was generally considered to be a reputable occupation, medicine seldom was. It is only in modern times that medicine has come to acquire the status that it now enjoys.
Part of the regard attached to medicine is its identification with science. Most of us today would probably find this alliance so natural that it would not occur to us that in earlier times, medicine was far more clinical and less scientific. What does this mean?
Science requires the examination of parts isolated from their wholes, quantifiable studies, blind and double blind tests of hypotheses; and it requires credentials. A person without proper qualifications cannot have a voice in academic science. At first glance, this may seem proper; however, what it also means is that a patient cannot determine whether or not his health is improved by the treatments rendered. So, what has happened is that research is now quite isolated from clinical results. At this point in time, the public seems largely faithful to science, however, disenchantment has been mounting—and it is my opinion that part of the image problem with science is its sterility.
It is, however, a two-way street. Holistic medicine, not to mention astrology, has its critics; and this will continue to be the case so long as only doctors with the right degrees can assess treatments and so long as such persons remain more or less laboratory based rather than clinically involved with patients.
What is not so well known outside of academia is that professors in medical schools are not physicians, that they do not see patients or perform medical procedures, nor do they work with human subjects. Research, therefore, tends to involve cultures or animals that are exposed to single, repeatable measures. Often as not, the animals used were rendered “ill” in some artificial manner. In other words, the conditions studied in the laboratory often did not arise in the normal course of life but rather were induced in some inhumane manner in order to make observations. Likewise, the substances studied are usually isolated from their wholes. Either active ingredients or synthetic substitutes for organic medicines are utilized in order to hold variables to a minimum.
What has ensued from such practices is a state in which each study tends to revolve around a single basic hypothesis, a hypothesis which is narrowly defined so as to assure scientific control and opportunity to profit should there be a positive outcome of the tested hypothesis; however, the hypothesis is often as not viewed outside of the context in which the particular condition studied actually arises “in the real world.”
Laboratory Trials versus Clinical Results
The real world is clinical. This means that in the real world, real people with real problems consult practitioners who recommend or prescribe particular strategies that either do or do not shift the illness. Each “case” is different and hence quantification of results is virtually impossible—and research is therefore also not possible since clinical practices do not consist of uniform groups of carefully matched trial and control subjects. The medicine and medical conclusions that arise from such practices are hence not scientific but anecdotal.
Basically, this is the major difference between holistic and modern medicine. A vaccine may be licensed and marketed because its manufacture parallels similar tests conducted for entirely different viruses. This is not quackery, but science. However, a product used successfully in clinical practices for generations or millennia is neither licensed nor credited with validity if it was never tested scientifically.
I am not describing these matters so as to present my own work, but rather in order to clarify certain misunderstandings that I felt while speaking at the UAC gathering in Monterey.
Astrology is Clinical
My own practice has always been clinical—and so it is with all astrologers who offer consultations to clients or patients. As time has progressed, I have refined my insights and polished my protocols. However, each “case” is really the story of an individual, not a sterile trial. The problems people describe in their sessions arise in the real course of life, and these problems result in suffering. My job is to unfold inner understanding of the circumstances surrounding the disease and to shift the conditions from a state of disease to health.
With time, I was completely overworked. I opened a clinic, hired assistants, and offered courses to train others so as to have a referral network. In the clinic, I tended to see mostly people with very serious illnesses, usually life threatening ones that had already been unsuccessfully treated by allopathic means. Statistically, if even a single person recovered from such conditions, the result would be significant. However, it would not be “scientific.” Nevertheless, I have tried to summarize some of my understanding in the form of lectures and publications. For this, I have received a number of awards, including several degrees, in countries where the schism between the laboratory and clinic is not so great. I am not saying this to precipitate controversy but rather to illuminate the world of medicine and medical practice—for medical astrology does not exist apart from medicine. However, medical astrology, as I practice it, is clinical. At various times over the years, I have actually applied for grants (not successfully), but the truth is I have more faith in the cures that ensue from profound inner work than I do in treatments that address symptoms rather than causes.
Now, I wish to return to the theme of this article which is, “What is Medical Astrology?” I have begun by showing that medical astrology and modern allopathic medicine have evolved to the points they are today from rather different roots. Not only are their practices different, but their vocabularies do not even express the same understanding of illness and cure. Nevertheless, to understand medical astrology correctly, one must first understand medicine and astrology. I have given a brief overview of medicine and shall now do the same for astrology.
So, what is astrology? Basically, the horoscope is a map of celestial patterns whose influence catalyzes terrestrial experiences. The patterns mapped in the horoscope are “alchemical” in the sense that energies combine in infinitely various ways so that each instant is different from every other instant. Time is hence inseparable from “event”. The Chinese have profound ways of addressing this concept. Each moment is an event. The memory of events is contained in the vast subconscious vaults of the divine feminine. Memories are reactions to experience. What we call therefore call “experience” is really a memory. Together, memories have patterns, but their patterns are different from the celestial patterns.
Celestial patterns are archetypal. They map Divine Idea and represent Intent or Destiny. Experiential patterns are personal. They are karmic. Fate—what happens in any given moment of Time—is a mixture of destiny and karma. Ideally, in a perfectly balanced individual, the personal would resonate as a response—as opposed to reaction—to the Divine. The Chinese describe the ideal interaction of celestial and personal patterns by a human being suspended between Heaven and Earth, a person acting as an intermediary between the two realms of existence.
In the horoscope, experience is represented by the Moon and its condition by sign, house, and aspect and other factors. Soul intent is portrayed by the Ascendant and its ruler, destiny by the Midheaven. The individual is the conscious being living, likely as not, unaware of the unconscious forces that determine the Fate that occurs in each moment.
Interestingly, the unconscious forces, the patterns of celestial and personal energies, exist outside of Time. Time exists in the manifested world where incarnational experiences are taking place. In other words, the personality, the Sun, is ephemeral—as are the moments we perceive as linear Time. The subconscious, or realm of personal memory, is built of reactions to moments which we call experience. It is entirely idiosyncratic and formed out of the past. Thus, if one were to dwell in the subconscious, the past would reverberate and give the impression, emotionally, that it is repeating. This is what is called karma and why, on a personal level, it is very difficult to create new experiences.
If one were instead to become soul conscious, one would see destiny as a state of beingness, not unmanifest and waiting to happen, but complete. It is only in the personality that we think that the future has not yet happened. Likewise, from the vantage point of the soul, the past is not entirely real. Reality, for the soul, is the expression of the soul’s truth which is, as noted, complete in its “mind”.
What does this have to do with astrology?
To the extent that astrology is a tool used to guide individuals through their lives, it is important to recognize the forces which shape the moment. This does not mean that astrology is fatalistic, rather that Fate itself is born of the commingling of destiny and karma, the proportions of which differ according to the instant and the individual.
Health is essentially perfect balance. Balance between what and what? We have many ways of answering this question. Balance is ultimately an intimate issue that differs from person to person and moment to moment. Since each moment is different, part of the capacity to remain in balance depends on adaptability. In its turn, adaptability is the ability to be responsive to inspiration or destiny and to utilize this inspiration by the personality in an active and fulfilling way. If the response is inadequate or resistant, part of the energy is deflected or detoured. This creates disharmony with the moment — which, in turn, gives rise to imbalance.
Balance cannot therefore be viewed from a material angle alone. Balance is alchemical.
In medical astrology, balance on the physical level is most easily determined by the elements. The elements are constituents of the manifest realm which blend with each other to produce both form and chemical reaction. For instance, fire is found in the caustic chemicals of the digestive system. Without these chemicals, digestion would be incomplete. This, in turn, would result in fermentation, bloating, gas, and metabolic residuals which clog the system.
However, it is not sufficient to diagnose a person as “low fire.” One must also know why a person rejects or suppresses fire. An individual may be constitutionally deficient in fire and able to compensate by taking supplements that augment hydrochloric acid and enzymes or which promote the secretion of bile. However, someone with very similar superficial symptoms may have suppressed fire (rather than low fire) because expression is viewed by the unconscious as undesirable: likely to provoke antagonistic reactions from others, reckless, dangerous, or otherwise inappropriate. Fire may also be deflected.
If, however, the moment requires the expression of a certain quota of fire and the individual does not express the fire, the fire will act upon him or her from without and function as a malefic. One might view this as a sort of unwritten law, a law that stipulates what a given moment will contain. If, in this case, expression is suppressed or diverted, fire is not allowed to function in its natural way. Usually, this gives rise to symptoms of depressed fire — apathy, malaise, and so forth — or to the victim experience. With a victim, the fire is expressed outside, by someone else whose use of fire is greater. This person raises his voice, becomes bossy or arrogant, or has temper tantrums, aggressive fits, or accidents.
In a balanced expression, there are no malefics or benefics, just adequate and complete responses to the moment. In such instances, Mars does not give rise to temper or fever, but rather to decisiveness, initiative, action, self confidence, and courage. Mars is then a catalyst, a prod to movement, directed and focused movement. It is neither reckless nor brave, malefic or benefic, merely the signal for the Time for action.
Where there is imbalance, the energy is not utilized in the intended manner. This is a deflection of cosmic intent, usually in the form of blocking of energy so that the energy is suppressed or deflected. Using the same Mars example, suppression might give rise to symptoms of toxic fire: blood impurities, rashes, feelings of despair and futility, indecisiveness, fear of the future, etc. On the other hand, deflection tends, as mentioned, to draw the Mars energy in the form of another individual and to result in a “poor me” drama that suggests that others have more strength and power than the one deflecting Mars.
Medical astrological counseling has to take into account both the symptoms and the cause of problems. The advisor must understand the individual and his or her reasons for reacting as he/she does.
For example, a person with a Capricorn Moon may value caution, preparation, and thoroughness more than spontaneity. These behaviors may feel safer and hence whatever is sacrificed by deflecting Mars is viewed as a smaller loss than whatever might be risked by embarking upon enterprise at the expense of predictability. Such a pattern might be deeply entrenched if past impulsiveness has been met by criticism, reprisals, loss, and disaster; for the memory of past experiences of unskillful uses of Mars tends to reinforce the psyche in such a way as to perpetuate the resistance to Mars.
For purposes of health, what is sought in each moment is adequacy of response, and this, in the example cited, requires some utilization of Mars — regardless of the individual’s affinity or lack thereof to the energy stimulating response.
In my various attempts to describe medical astrology, I have often remarked that the horoscope is a map of Time and energies. It is not a microscope. It does not describe pathologies. Many people are disappointed that I think this. They feel that their efforts to differentiate typhoid from hepatitis through astrology will not succeed if I am right. I would not go so far as to suggest that such a differentiation is impossible. However, I am convinced that it is highly unlikely and perhaps also irrelevant.
In my practice, most people already know that they are ill, and most come to me already knowing what their allopathic diagnosis is. Some even come with a grasp of at least some of the ways they might have participated in the creation of the disease or condition. Many have some insight into the patterns that might be contributing to their lack of health. They come seeking additional understanding, insights which go deeper and enable them to address their problems on a more causal level.
Patients almost never expect me to diagnose their conditions nor even to offer a prognosis. I work energetically and generally attempt to describe patterns and alternate ways of managing energies. So, my job is first of all to facilitate deeper insight and secondly to relieve suffering through whatever interim management of symptoms is possible. Where insight is concerned, I am functioning more or less as any other skilled astrologer might except that my special ability to focus on the body-mind connection often exceeds what those not so grounded in medical astrology might see or say. Where relief is concerned, my motivation is compassion for suffering and my repertoire of treatments is entirely energetic—and old-fashioned—for I am concerned with the pacification of excess and stimulation or fortification of deficiency. In holistic parlance, this is really detoxification and tonification, but this in the broadest sense of psyche and body. The result, it is hoped will be a lessening of pain and increase of proper flow of vital force. This is what is medical about my own practice or medical astrology, but I stay well within the realm of my own expertise and do not cross the fine line of practicing medicine without a license, for what I do is not medical. In the modern age, medicine is usually defined as the prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs, surgery, or delivering of babies—and I do none of these.
Over the many years that I have been interested in healing, I have studied a truly wide range of approaches to health. Among these, Ayurveda has played a major role, but astrology still provides the major insights—and music therapy the bulk of the significant cures.
Occasionally, I am consulted by people who have an awareness of their symptoms but no names for their conditions. Either they do not wish to consult a medical doctor who performs such diagnoses or they have encountered doctors who remain baffled by the symptoms and are not able to render an opinion. In such cases, I have sometimes been asked if I could diagnose. My answer is always the same, “No.” This does not, however, imply that I am unable to impart useful advice. It merely suggests that I do not perceive astrology as a diagnostic tool in the sense they have in mind. I could as easily say, “Does it matter what the name of the disease is if the treatment will be the same?” This surprises a few people. I usually then go on to explain that all diseases have patterns, that the patterns of imbalance will usually go back to very early in life, that uncorrected patterns will become more and more complicated (symptomatically) as they remain untreated, and that likely as not, the symptoms will begin retreating when the right balancing measures are applied. In this way, I am stating a philosophy of medical astrology and healing as well as setting a conscious limit on what can be expected of me.
In fact, I prefer to work this way because names have powerful thought forms built up around them, most of which are quite demoralizing. For instance, it is seldom constructive to mention a so-called incurable disease by name because the thought forms of despair and hopelessness are often as not stronger than my more positive views of what might be done to bring about balance.
If, however, I were to say that all medical astrology can do is offer conjectures about general causes underlying symptoms, I would be doing medical astrology and myself deep injustice. In fact, I believe medical astrology is a potentially powerful holistic approach to health. I simply believe that its proper use needs to be understood, and much of the preliminary presentations to clients and patients needs to differentiate what can be expected from a medical astrologer as opposed to a physician.
By what has thus far been said, it must be quite obvious that I do not think that medical astrology and modern medicine have much in common. Medicine, as it is practiced today, essentially subscribes to the view that disease is pathological and that it needs to be destroyed or removed. It does not see disease as arising from imbalance but rather as entering from without due to invasion of microorganisms whose power for havoc is estimated as immense. To destroy these little germs, lethal treatments are used that undermine not only the vitality of the germs but also the patient.
So long as disease is viewed as dangerous, such measures will be tolerated. There is great historical evidence for the views which sustain modern medicine: fearful epidemics, dreadful suffering, and disfiguring results of disease. The plague, leprosy, poliomyelitis, and now A.I.D.S. are just a few examples of the reason for the posture of modern medicine. Posture is one matter, premises another. There is actually nothing in the annals of modern medicine that addresses the issue of imbalance . . . and, simply for the record, there is no one in holistic medicine so foolhardy as to suggest that there is no such thing as an invisible organism capable of causing infection. We no longer live in the Dark Ages, but if we did, we might find some medical tenets worthy of posterity.
The whole point is that nothing about astrology renders it fit to attack a germ. Even if one were able to identify typhoid in a chart, there is no vaccine that emerges from the alchemy of the planets to treat typhoid. What one sees instead is a constitution weakened by imbalances which render the individual unable to protect himself or herself from the ravages of disease.
If balance is the crucial issue, then the treatment must ensue from the premises. In this case, balance will correct the imbalance. In such instance, the logical treatment will not be the destruction of the germs but rather the strengthening of the weaknesses. Modern medicine has a few concepts that border on this, but I often as not find their thinking rather blurred. For instance, laboratory tests of blood may measure red and white blood counts, but the treatment that follows is often illogical. A better example would be that of reproductive hormones. If a woman’s estrogen level is high, she is sometimes given testosterone. This, to me, is absurd. It suggests that there is some vague understanding of balance, but it is seen as a kind of male-female issue whereas in reality a woman’s reproductive system is cyclical and estrogen is balanced by progesterone, another female hormone not by Jane trying to become Tarzan.
In other words, I do not think the concept of balance is well anchored in modern medicine. However, it is intrinsic to Chinese, Tibetan, and Indian medicine. It is also crucial to medical astrology.
My system relies heavily on several key factors: stress, the role of the unconscious in illness, and the elements. The elements are the easiest part of the system to teach because they relate clearly to symptoms, and many treatments are logical corollaries to the astrological information. For instance, sticking with our low fire example, if it is known that a person suffers from low fire, one can render simple but highly effective advice about ways to increase the fire through diet, herbs, and psychotherapy. The diet, if correctly implemented, will result in immediate cessation of the primary symptoms of indigestion. It will therefore usually help to prevent the imbalance from worsening. If a person overdoes the diet, he or she will eventually create a condition of the opposite: high fire. It’s logical. If an obese person dieted until reaching a normal weight and then persisted past this ideal point with the same diet, he or she would become emaciated. Likewise, if a corrective protocol achieves the optimal state, it should be adjusted so as to maintain that state rather than continued until it overcorrects to the point of folly.
If such a strategy is used, all symptoms can be gradually controlled, over a period of time. However, if the underlying causes are not addressed, the old condition will reassert itself if the corrective measures are discontinued. This may take days, weeks, or years; but it is certain that the patterns will eventually produce similar results if the patterns are not themselves changed.
So, therapy is designed to correct the patterns and eliminate thereby the causes of disease. This takes far more skill, more patient participation in the cure, and usually more time and practice. If one has a habit, an old, old habit, one can hardly expect to break it the first time one tries. Even if mind managed matter, it would take vigilance to prevent relapse and lots of skill before the adequacy of the response was satisfactory.
I sometimes use the example of my mother who learned when she was in her fifties that she was repeatedly the victim of Mars. When she first began to explore the use of Mars, she did not circle the globe on a surfboard or astound anyone with her heroism or militancy. She simply taught herself to be more physically active on days when Mars was more arousing. She did quite practical things around the house, Mars in Cancer, like cleaning cupboards, garages, and filing cabinets. She even taught me some things about astrology such as that it is easier to throw things away when the Moon is in Scorpio!
Years went by without her being a victim of Mars. With this came a gradual increase in self assurance and many other pleasant side effects that had been lacking earlier in her life when hot tempers seemed to flare up all around her.
In simple terms, it is not necessary for every Mars to become a shining knight, athlete, or pioneer. It is, however, necessary for every Mars to find some expression.
Ancient Medical Astrology
Ancient medical astrology used many tools that have gone out of fashion in the West but are still highly regarded in the East. Various precious and semiprecious stones were prescribed along with metals or alloys of metals to pacify strong planets or strengthen weak ones. Likewise, herbs were all classified according to their planetary rulerships as well as energetic properties such as hot, cold, wet, dry, etc. A cold condition was treated with warming herbs, and a fever was treated with cooling herbs.
Every food has similar classifications, and this is part of what makes a system of medicine “energetic.” Modern medicine is not energetic. It barely recognizes constitutional types and differences. All people with the same pathological conditions are given the same treatments regardless of their responses to the treatments; and people are taught to eat from the major food groups as if all bodies metabolized foods in the same way.
This makes no sense whatsoever to someone trained in any of the many branches of energetic medicine. However, it must be understood that just as modern medicine looks naïve to practitioners of energetic approaches to health, it possesses formidable powers of diagnosis which are much sought by patients.
What I would like to propose so far as medical astrology is concerned is that its history has probably never been separate from the history of medicine itself. Moreover, the schism I have described in medicine today is not new. There have always been empirical and clinical approaches to health. There have always been surgeons and herbalists, those who employ toxic medicines and those who use only benign remedies. What is new is the tremendous sway the one school of medicine has over the modern mind. What is new is the political and economic power of a school of medicine representing but one possibility in many.
There is no need for astrologers to embroil themselves in debates, but there is a need for astrologers to be realistic about what can be seen in a horoscope and then to develop the skills to apply the information in healing ways. Personally, I see herbs as the simplest natural adjunct to astrology, diet as somewhat more reliable in the long run and also more delicate, and psychotherapy of various types as the most labor intensive and insightful use of horoscopic information. Counseling skills evolve with proper use and attention to feedback and results. They are never born overnight nor handed to anyone on a silver platter. I can teach the fundamentals of my system in two-to-three years, but I have never been able to force anyone to put into practice what they learned. Some people apply new ideas instantly; others wait years before putting their toes in the water. It’s individual, but one should expect that expertise, whether of the patient or practitioner, grows with practice.
In the meantime, I would suggest following the advice of the ancients: heal thyself!
Malefic or Benefic?
Mars and Saturn were traditionally called the lesser and greater malefics while Venus and Jupiter were considered benefic, the lesser and greater benefics. One can still find authors and textbooks using this terminology, but it it not only archaic sounding but woefully misleading and inaccurate.
The simplest way to put this would be to say that for a person suffering from obesity, diabetes, or cancer, Venus and Jupiter would not be good for the health whereas Saturn might be just what the doctor ordered!
Reconsidering the Ancient Assignations
While some concepts from the past are just as relevant today as they were historically, the idea of evil planets causing harm and good planets delivering fame and fortune is seriously dated and dubious. A more psychologically appropriate way to look at the planets would be to study the affinity each person has towards a planet and his or her skill using the energies symbolized by the planet.
For instance, if we consider that the Moon is a clue to historic tendencies, then we might also conclude that a person with an Aries Moon has more understanding of Mars than someone with a Pisces Moon, all other things equal, which, of course, they seldom are. Likewise, a person with a Pisces Moon might have more affinity for Jupiter and Neptune and be uncomfortable with Mars and Saturn.
In my article on the Monastic Moon, I explain this in a little more depth. I will just recapitulate a bit for those who haven’t read that article or who forgot what it says. Imagine yourself entering a monastery, surrendering your will to God and forgoing wealth, comfort, natural instincts, and even the right to survive. In your initial training, you are told to listen but not speak. Your hair is cut and your head is covered. Your knees are bent in prayer and your head is reverently bowed. You eat modestly, often only what benefactors have left in your begging bowl. You sleep in a dank room and awaken early to perform chores and attend to orphans and sick people. You pray, you serve, and perhaps you sing or chant. You might learn to read and interpret scriptures; and you might travel and proselytize. You might also develop a rich inner life, full of imagination, vision, and wisdom.
You learn nothing much about your body except that it is to be obedient to your will. Life outside the gates of the monastery is a mystery. You have forfeited Venus: riches and sensuality. You have banished Mars: personal initiative and anger. In subscribing to rules, you have given up freedom, at least the freedom to “be different” and independent. Much of what is normal and natural for others is unknown, unexplored, and prohibited . . . and the planets that represent those undiscovered experiences cannot be expected to be as dependable in your horoscope as the planets that represent religion, philosophy, and meditation!
It’s really this simple. There are few people who are so versatile and accomplished that they have a mastery over all experiences and by extension, all planets.
Now, if we take the Aries warrior, we will assume that the subconscious has very strong opinions about what is worth a fight and when it’s best just to let matters be. It could also be prejudiced against anything that led to trouble, such as differences in viewpoints, wars, and force as a means for determining outcome. Someone who died for his beliefs in one lifetime after another may be more cautious when forming alliances, vowing allegiances, and choosing sides.
What generally happens is that the individual, being who he or she is, adheres to some of the traits of the sign, such as strong polarization, loyalty, and thrill when impassioned, but he or she may be reluctant to act on the feelings because they have precipitated so much difficulty in the past.
Based on such assessments, we conclude that the warrior either has a good or bad relationship to Mars and probably also to Saturn since those in authority issue the orders that lead to victory or defeat, glory or disgrace, advancement or death. Such people also tend to have very deep issues surrounding how to handle differences. We might say that the monk and nun were trained to understand weakness, right and wrong, and atonement. They were also taught not to force issues but rather to lead people through their difficulties into peace.
On the other hand, the warrior was trained to believe that the strong prevail and the weak do not inherit the earth. There could hardly be a greater disparity in beliefs than in this one area.
For this same reason, we can look at almost anyone’s horoscope and gauge how he or she would handle a challenge, which “weapons” they view as assets and which as liabilities. We can see whether an individual believes in compromise, in forcing issues, or in waiting for the opportunity to present a better solution, for there are those who do not resolve problems using either compromise or force, they simply bide their time.
Getting to the crux of this article, it might be argued that a planet is malefic if its strategies tend to fail for the individual in question or if the individual is blind to the energetics of the planet. Ergo, Saturn is a malefic for people who lack discipline or the capacity to make effort. It is also a malefic for those who are impatient or unwilling to prove themselves and for people who expect to be acknowledged without having demonstrated any reason to be recognized. It works against those who do not follow the rules, and a good case could be made for it being hostile to those who want to make sweeping changes or who want to reform the status quo. Saturn rewards those who uphold the systems that are in place, those who work hard, and those who are ethical, discrete, and timely
My point is that Saturn is good or bad depending on how much affinity one has for Saturn and how well one appreciates Saturn and Saturn’s modus operandi.
Returning therefore to my early statement that the traditional benefics are not healthy in certain circumstances, it might be argued that Saturn’s dietary restraint and discipline might be good for a person who needs to lose weight or lower blood sugar. Similarly, Saturn tends to restrain growth of tumors and to give people time to address their situations. Having a strong Saturn or Saturn transit is thus generally “good” for people with cancer. It might not be true that Saturn is “fun” — this probably is rarely, if ever, the case, but Saturn is at least fair (exalted in Libra) and He delivers in Time.
For the most part, people have very good or very bad aspects to the planet(s) dispositing their Moons. If one has spent many lifetimes as a warrior, it would be difficult not to have a strong opinion about Mars, but, in most cases, the warrior would not be blind to Mars. A priestess, however, might be utterly oblivious to persons who are arrogant, assertive, dangerous, and motivated by their agendas. She can therefore be caught off guard by Mars whereas this would seldom happen for a warrior. She might also lack responses that help her to defend herself, her self esteem, and her commitments to her path.
For instance, if she has taken vows of chastity, she could be thrown by an argument that she was too young and naive to understand what she was doing when she threw away her potential to become a mother. She may argue that she is mother to all the homeless children in the world, but if the warrior says she will develop many illnesses of the reproductive system if she does not allow this part of her body to experience what God intended women to experience, she may be perturbed but run out of clever answers. Moreover, if, as so often happens these days, she is violated by someone, she will tend to look to God for explanations for why she deserved the ensuing sorrow; or she may ask to be shown her lessons and try to deal with abuse by becoming more pious rather than more protective. The warrior will, of course, continue to perceive her as weak and naive because she has not learned to correctly identify the traits that make him offensive to those with different aspirations in life.
A planet seems to be malefic when our responses to it are inadequate. Thus, for the beseiged nun, Mars is a malefic if her reflexes are too slow, if her passion is blurred by tears, or if the warrior is right and the suppression of her sexuality is causing internal problems or the renunciation of her anger is forcing her to pray harder to deal with the evils he brought into her life. It is not that nuns cannot express Mars; it is that most often, Mars is incapacitated to some degree by those who have elected the path of non-violence. In such cases, Mars generally expresses through a void, generally another person.
Sometimes, a very simple behavioral change will transform those around the pacifist. For instance, we all know the cases of the enabler awakening to the fact that he or she is contributing to a bad habit in another person. When this person decides to devote his or her energies to something more worthwhile, the energy is used and not only is the issue of enabling resolved, but the person who has been on the receiving end of this charity has to change or find another sucker.
There are other ways to utilize the energy fully. A peace loving person may not like competition so sports may not be an outlet for Mars, but gardening or attic cleaning may be enough to keep the wheels moving so that one is not a target.
On yet deeper levels, there are attributes of Mars that are lofty and easy to accept. One admires warmth and idealism, courage and loyalty, and decisiveness. Cultivating these traits makes for less random Mars energy and more focus, clarity, and directed expression.
Many people have said to me that Jupiter can never be a malefic, but I disagree. There are many Jupiter traits that are not particularly redeeming: self indulgence, procrastination, exaggeration, self-satisfaction, and unwarranted optimism. Some people spend their lives waiting for gold to rain from the sky or they are so gullible they would invest in oil exploration on the top of Mt. Everest. In most cases, however, an afflicted Jupiter is more or less harmless and likeable, even if not trustworthy.
How important an affliction depends a great deal on the expression it takes and the sensitivity to that planet on the part of the individual. For instance, a person with a strong Jupiter would be sensitive to misinformation because education and ideas are important to him, but if judgment is impaired, the person may need to pass ideas by someone whose feet are on the ground before acting on the information.
The horoscope contains a simply amazing number of clues to the individual and governing patterns as well as past life expressions of the planets. For example, a Jupiter contact to Mars may be more opinionated and quick to express those opinions than Jupiter to Uranus which is more keen on truth and less dominated by narrow versions thereof. Jupiter in the 12th may suffer for the views held whereas in the 10th, the person may become well known for his beliefs.
We can also deduce a lot from the horoscope. For instance, a person with a Gemini or Sagittarius Moon will suffer from lack of education whereas someone with Moon in Aries may want to get out in the world quickly and catch up with the books later. Of course, these possibilities depend on many factors so it is not always safe to generalize, but I think it is safe to say that the more important something is, the worse it feels if that something is not happening the way a person wants.
Spirituality and Psychology: A Lunar Perspective
In the beginning, the Creator contained all possibilities. When God decided to actualize the Plan that had been gestating within, the two key components of Creation were extruded in such a way as to render them interdependent for the duration of Eternity. That which we call the masculine is radiatory, linear, and dynamic. It has life, vitality, and is the very Essence of existence. This part is “qualified” by Ideas which are expressed as purpose or destiny. The feminine is magnetic, spacious, and originally – at the beginning of the incarnational odyssey – devoid of content, empty. In my somewhat poetic imagination, I see a vast milky, opalescent Space, shimmering in her immaculate purity and Divine Innocence. Into this marvelous and beautiful Cosmic Womb, an intense Light entered and Space became filled with passionate ideas and holy love. Out of this exuberant union, Heaven was born. This is the First Cosmos and every soul came into existence at the time of the birth of Heaven. So, Heaven is our true place of birth and our original home. However, since our original birth, we have been traveling throughout Space, experiencing the many parts of Creation, retaining memories of our experiences, and expressing our uniqueness.
The soul of each of us is what I call “the true self.” To know this true self, we have to align with the source of our beingness. When this occurs, we experience purpose as a brilliant light which we sense as inspiration and express as destiny. This is half of the nature of the soul. The other half remembers the harvests of its journeys. These memories are called wisdom, and wisdom can be very practical or very profound. This is the feminine half of the true self, and this part also has the power to attract guidance (from the masculine) and to build the forms that Intention, the Father, needs to fulfill Its purpose. The true self is thus qualified by purpose and composed of memories of experience as well as the substance necessary for building in the created worlds.
Everything in Creation is thus composed of a masculine and a feminine part which are forever united by the love that joined them at the time of the birth of Heaven. Whether one wishes to express this Creation drama as the uniting of opposites, the joining of the Divine Father and Holy Mother, or as an abstract scientific wedding of an electrical force and magnetic field is not so important as the ramifications that can be drawn about the nature of Creation and of the consciousness that arises out of the perpetual interaction of polarities.
By definition, both the destiny aspect of the soul and the memory component are unconscious. Typically, the destiny is described as “spiritual” or superconscious. It is also “causal” in a very meaningful way in that it projects the energies and plants the seeds that set in motion the ripples that are experienced in the world of action and later come to be felt as karmic patterns.
Space was originally innocent; moreover, She is incapable of originating action, for She is pure responsiveness and magnetism. She has choice: acceptance or rejection. She also has the power to produce out of what She contains, but this is a process of reflection, not origination. In other words, She is a mirror of what already is rather than a designer.
These Divine Mother qualities are usually described as subconscious or psychological as opposed to spiritual, but these terms tend to limit our understanding of this part of our Divine heritage. In any event, Her Knowing is accessed by reflection which proceeds most easily through a multiplicity of associations which trigger banks of memories. Discovering what is held in memory requires the willingness to dive into waters that are more or less inviting depending on one’s sense of what the waters contain. For the sake of clarity, I would like to propose that we can swim in these waters for moments or half of Eternity itself without having any conscious recollection of where we have been or what we experienced where we were. This is like awakening with no memory of one’s dreams.
Consciousness, as suggested, arises in the true self where the polarities are wedded and interactive. Yes, one may have a mystical experience and come to recognize one’s truest purpose and “awaken” keen to fulfill this destiny. And, one may dive into the vaults of Space and return with a knowledge of all that has happened on one’s journey since the beginning of Time, but who exactly is it that “returns” to consciousness with this knowing? It is the true self, the conscious self, the intermediary between Essence and Space, the Divine Soul.
I will go a step further in this discourse. An individual may, as a result of an extraordinary experience or intense meditation become aware of his or her Essence, feel himself or herself to be more guided, more spiritual, and more “brilliant.” If such insights and inspirations do not produce more relationship to the here and now, more love for experience, and more appreciation for “life,” the result is more ideation, more thought processes, more information, not more awareness of the fullness of the true self.
Likewise, a person who develops deep familiarity with the nuances of human experience may become more psychologically sensitive without having any genuine sense of purpose. In my experience, Western culture is today experiencing just this schism between what passes for spirituality and what poses as psychology, neither branch of knowing leading to wholeness.
My immediate concern is with correct understanding of consciousness, for it is all too seldom depicted impartially. I wish to emphasize the essential purity and tirelessness of the feminine. She draws to Herself the Light that will give meaning to Her Being, and She builds the realities we experience as incarnate souls. Each of us exists because we are enlivened or vitalized by the Divine Flame and because we have been able to anchor that Light in our souls in such a way as to hold a certain part of the Divine Idea in place. The place is the Mother’s Space.
In the beginning, Space was “unconditioned”; it contained nothing but the innocence of the Mother. However, after union with the Father, Space was conditioned by Intent, a very potent force that impels Creation. Each attempt to express destiny in manifestation (or motion) results in experiences which are held in memory in the Mother’s Space. Memory is retained by Space because Space draws to Her by virtue of Her magnetism. She then holds or contains experience, something the Father cannot do because of His radiatory nature.
Astrologically, it is my belief that the Moon in the chart symbolizes the soul’s incarnate experiences. The Moon is a miniature portrait of the major focus and emotional and karmic patterns that the soul has expressed and experienced as a result of being incarnate. As such, the Moon refers to responses that operate below the threshold of consciousness as instincts, attractions and aversions, biological wisdom, and feelings. Each pattern has an explanation in the annals of involutionary and evolutionary history. None are “irrational,” but all are emotional. They are also largely personal though included in personal experience is the desire for understanding of the reason for one’s existence, insight into one’s uniqueness and purpose, and conflict over incidents, issues, and events.
In a sense that is simply overwhelming in its ramifications, every experience is judged. Experiences are judged by rudimentary survival standards as supportive of life or destructive to it. They are also colored by nuances such as tenderness, affection, risk, antipathy, reward, confrontation, challenge, etc. Experiences are judged as pleasing or displeasing to God, self, and others. My sense is that these judgments occur in the lunar nature but do not affect the essential compassion of the soul – which with its wisdom, understanding, patience, and knowledge of the facts accepts itself for who it is and tries to project more of its essential truth and beingness into the personality. From the perspective of the Moon, nothing is this clear; for the lunar consciousness has to experience the entire process of unfolding potential in a realm which often as not does not support this process. It hence has opinions about the process, the absence of support, and the suffering that disharmonies have entailed. In a way, it is entirely fair to say that the “spiritual” part of us does not experience this suffering, for it cannot hold impressions of what happens. It is an energy which has thrust itself like a projectile in a certain direction and is aware of its Intent but not the reactions that occur all around it. It is, however, the First Action and is therefore Causal in a way that the feminine perceives all too clearly, so much so that She needs to feel that there is shared responsibility for the reactions that are termed karmic.
To understand the lunar self, one must first understand its vast magnetism. It is the Womb which gestates the Idea that is the source of the life of the true self. Without this Idea, it is both barren and motionless. However, since the birth of Heaven, it has felt the intensity of the First Cause as well as all the reverberations to that Action known as reaction. In its original nature, it was pure and innocent, but ever since the First Cause, it has been holding the Action as well as Reactions in memory.
I am taking a great deal of trouble to explain this because the current philosophical as well as scientific fashions are so unclear. Polarity is seen as a struggle between good and evil in which the masculine, Adam, was innocent, and the feminine was the original temptress, the masculine assuming no responsibility for the dramas which ensued. Or, we see Cosmos as orderly and Chaos as destructive and give the feminine reign over discord and the inevitable disease and death which follow. Or, masculine is light and feminine dark. Some time back, I reached my own limit in trying to sort out the ramifications of these theories and realized that the feminine is basically the result.
Returning for a moment to our poetic beginnings, I would like to suggest that the masculine is melody, notes spewed forth with incredible force into an instrument which is feminine. It is then the form builder who must calibrate the flow of the force, establish the rhythm which will sustain the Ideas and forms which the masculine bids her to build, and which occasionally buckles under the pressure of too much energy and too little Space. Ironically, in this Divine Process, both masculine and feminine feel themselves to be the givers. The masculine shoots forth energy, light, and ideas; the feminine endows them with substance and a capacity to function in greater or lesser harmony with the Original Cause. In this, the masculine is often impatient because it does not understand the process, and the feminine is burdened because She feels unappreciated and urged to achieve more than is immediately realistic.
We then experience another schism. The masculine is idealistic, and this, of course, is good; and the feminine is realistic, and that is somewhat flat-footed and dull, not interesting enough to sustain the attention of the First Cause upon whom all ultimately depends. I am taking a position in favor of perfect balance.
I see the masculine energies functioning in the higher chakras and the feminine in the first three chakras. Let us take a moment to consider the chakras – just a few sentences because the issues are important and frequently misunderstood.
The first chakra is the place where Life is anchored in the Form. It is a place of union in which the terrestrial energies predominate because the will to be, to survive, and experience incarnation is the raison d’être of this chakra. What it needs is support to become what is expected. The second chakra is another kind of life chakra, the place where forms are built (and repaired). It is a chakra which suffers acutely from its absolute and utter dependence on its contrasexual component, which to it feels estranged because of certain events in long lost history. The third chakra is the seat where memory and emotion are anchored and where psychological experience is most deeply registered. In a sense, the first chakra is instinctual, the second biological, and the third psychological. The development, rotation, and sensitivity of these chakras depends on the heritage from the Mother.
Now, let us work in the opposite direction. The crown chakra is where Spirit or Destiny is connected to the Form. It hence expresses a celestial energy which eventually must join with the terrestrial to achieve perfect human expression. The third eye is, like the sacral center, dual. However, it is also different in important ways. The sacral has actually lost half of its wholeness (for reasons that can be discussed in a future article). The third eye is, however, obscured, for it has lost most of its capacity to function due to various obscurations which affect the vision and understanding of the spiritual force as it is expressed in matter. Ironically, the obscuration is, at this juncture, lunar; and for most individuals, this chakra functions with severe handicaps even though it is less tortured than the sacral center. Nevertheless, it very seldom works as an adequate transmitter of Divine Idea so the Ideas are very seldom manifested correctly. Then, the throat chakra is the site for the anchoring of the mental energy in much the same way that the solar plexus is for the emotional.
Between the three psychological and the three spiritual chakras is the place of balance, harmony, and understanding, the heart. In my opinion, the heart is where the balance between spiritual destiny and personal experience is expressed. The understanding that the heart has for both intention and history, future and past, and idea and feeling results in dynamic wisdom, compassion and the will to bring forth the full potential. This is the place of union of masculine and feminine and the seat of the soul.
I am acutely aware that certain “spiritual” traditions present other interpretations of the chakras, but the experiences I facilitate for my clients and students suggest that what I have just stated is what works in actual fact. There are levels of information and insight that can be reached via the head chakras, but these are mainly ideational, not based in the harmony of the soul. Likewise, there is much to explore in the personal chakras, but they present only half of the picture.
My proposal is thus that the entire Creation and the ongoing processes that we observe and experience in Creation is a bipolar or dual effort involving Essence and Space. In terms of the individual, we might consider this as a process involving masculine and feminine, but I think it is clearer if we use words such as destiny and karma.
So, with this introduction, we come, at last, to the Moon and what it represents in the horoscope. For me, it is the ultimate symbol of the Mother energy, Space. The Moon shows our line of least resistance while incarnate, what interests us, how we wish to express ourselves, and how we have reacted to events in our personal incarnational history.
Each aspect to the Moon reveals a psychological pattern, and because of the magnetism of the feminine, there is a powerful tendency to repeat patterns. We might therefore say that our entire instinctual and emotional repertoire is circumscribed by the memories held in our personal Space. Anything new has to occur because of interaction with something outside our own Space or we will merely reproduce the familiar from our own reservoirs of experience.
In my estimation, Space does not contain historical accounts of our journeys. Rather, it contains the results of experiences and whatever modifications to experience that have occurred. I like to think of memory as a sort of computer file. To access a memory, you have to have an association which will trigger a recall. These associations generally have emotional content rather than “feeling.doc” as an access code. In other words, a specific feeling, rage, grief, abandonment, hopelessness, etc. is the key to a vault containing memories of a similar vibration, but the vibrations are filed in much the same way that we group files onto floppy disks or into folders. If a current experience follows the overall pattern of the previous experiences, the file remains essentially unchanged; however, if something new happens which is different, the file is overwritten and, in my view, permanently changed. For example, if a person is afraid of losing the affection of someone important, but the current most important person makes skillful efforts to “erase” the fear, the “loss” file will eventually be changed. Moreover, if, as a result of introspection or psychotherapy, one accesses information that helps to explain a pattern, the pattern will be modified. For example, if one discovers that part of the reason that people abandon each other is that they feel they do not deserve lasting relationships and that one has oneself left family and partners in the past (past lives), then one may conclude that more steadfastness within oneself may change the view that one does not deserve these qualities in another. The subconscious is not always governed by guilt, nor is it the rule that everything is tit for tat: “You left me, now I’m leaving you. We are thus even and the karma is ended.” I suspect, this does not end the karma at all, for it is not events but vibrations that are the key here.
I am simultaneously working on four separate books revolving around my understanding of the Moon – so you must realize that whatever can be said in this article is just touching the surface of a big area of inquiry. This said, I feel that the Moon describes many basic instincts, most of which reside below the threshold of everyday awareness. The easiest way I can describe this is to say that if we had access to our instinctual memories, we would easily recognize old karmic foes and be able to differentiate them from friends. Animals have access to just such instincts and must find human behavior quite confused. Likewise, we would know our affinities and aversions, which foods, for instance, were likely to cause allergic reactions (and why); and we would not have to consult an allergy specialist about our diets. To see how ridiculous this is from the standpoint of one’s instinctual nature, try to imagine a chimpanzee collecting samples of all the leaves in his jungle, carting them off to some fifteen story medical center, and asking someone in a white coat what he should and should not be eating. Most people have lost touch with this biological wisdom and do just this, often with inconclusive results; but I suspect that Aborigines and Bushmen find this human behavior dumbfounding.
If this sounds exaggerated and absurd, then take the extreme opposite perspective and think of some sincere spiritual seeker sitting year after year on the same rock in an effort to discover, through meditation and enlightenment, what every angel and star no doubt knows about itself. Now, do you see that we are incredibly “unconscious?”
In any event, we will continue to focus on the Moon. Next, we need to consider the Moon in terms of every psychological idiosyncrasy that individuals have. One person feels competent, another feels he or she will never measure up to what is expected. One is afraid to say what he or she thinks, another speaks up fearlessly. In today’s world, many people spend years in therapy trying to understand why they are the way they are. Many have to begin at even more rudimentary levels by asking how they are before “why?” If we really were conscious, we would not need to ask another person how to understand ourselves or what we would become if we understood ourselves. Moreover, whatever issues we have about why we react or behave as we do is not a part of “destiny” but rather a part of personality, that which many are seeking to define and others to elude.
Pir Vilayat Khan told a wonderful story at a lecture I attended many years ago. It seems that he and a psychologist were counseling the same individual. The psychologist was urging his client to develop her ego and sense of self whereas the spiritual teacher was urging her to transcend the personality and to dissolve the ego. As I indicated at the beginning, this schism has become very strong, but it is not probably what divides East and West so much as what divides Essence and Space. Personally, I do not feel we will succeed in sustaining our parts in Creation until we balance the polarities represented by what are often felt to be irreconcilable dualities.
Yet, for the very reason that Creation Itself is a marriage of energies, we must find the place of balance, and when we do, we will discover that it is also a place of dynamic equilibrium, harmony, and inexpressible love . . . but I am jumping ahead a little.
Besides storing memory, Space, as suggested earlier, also provides the substance for building forms. For this reason, I use the Moon as the major determinant of constitutional type as well as physiological functioning. For those who have followed the logic thus far, they must then understand that besides there being such a thing as type, there is also a reason for every uniquely individual manner of bodily functioning. Fear, for instance, is cold and contracting whereas courage is warm and expansive. How the body works will depend on whether there is inhibition or overstimulation of the flow of energies through the psyche and the form built by that psyche. There is therefore always a connection between feelings and function, and therefore it is also unlikely that any condition can be cured by physical means alone. This is the basis of much of my work in medical astrology.
I recognize that each topic introduced in this article could be expanded much further, but suffice it for now to conclude by saying that the entire content of the feminine is the result of conclusions drawn about experiences remembered by the feminine . . . Who can never be causal since She is responsive, not initiatory. If She therefore sometimes appears dark and sometimes deep and wise, it is because of Her process and experiences, not because of Her basic Nature which is, as I have labored to point out innocent, divinely innocent.
However, because the Mother of Creation was originally innocent does not mean that Her children have not had experiences which have made them angry or sad. It is therefore neither wise nor proper to ignore feelings or their causes. Feelings which perturb the natural harmony require recognition and acknowledgment, healing and rebalancing. Moreover, healing does not imply surrender of grievances or forced alignment with the Original Cause. Healing entails understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, common sense, and even a measure of humor as well as a hefty dose of love, beginning with love of self and ending with appreciation for the process the self has endured and sometimes enjoyed.
In Space, all is in process and as yet far from the ultimate perfection that is inevitable. Perfection is inevitable because the First Cause is the strongest force in Creation, and everything will eventually be drawn into harmonious vibration with this Cause. In the meantime, we are all engaged in a process that is both demanding and fulfilling, inspiring and challenging, and it serves us to recognize this fact in our own lives as well as in the lives of those with whom we share our journeys. It will also speed our healing if we remember how sensitive the magnetic component of each of us is to any inference that it is expected to be perfect and is not yet so. Moreover, if the feminine is touchy about the pressure She feels to complete the Ideas which first impregnated Her, imagine how She feels about being blamed for everything that has not remained instantly responsive and harmonious with the First Idea? Both Her Nature and Her dilemma need to be understood entirely differently: She is innocent and therefore blameless; She is responsive and therefore not Causal; She is also obedient to pressure since it is Her only hope for survival as neither She nor Creation are viable without Loving Light.