Sunday, 12 April 2009

Psychological astrology - An outer planet astrology?

The battle between traditional astrology and modern psychological astrology continues and it seems that in the last few years traditionalists have gained the upper hand. Many astrologers who started out as modern, engage themselves in ancient text studies and have considerably changed their interpretations. Modern astrology can be vague, inarticulate and unclear, says Robert Hand in an article published in the Astrodienst website. But why did he, and various others, get involved with it in the first place? They must have found some element of truth in it. Robert Hand, at least, admits it.
No matter how much traditional astrologers scream and shout that people haven't essentially changed over the years, the fact remains that a modern person growing up in the west is more scientifically inclined than his/her ancestors. Which means that we cannot easily accept the "brutality" of traditional astrology. We may face more or less the same problems, but our mentality has indeed changed and it's difficult for us not to reject statements like: "Oh my God, Venus is your 7th house ruler and it's retrogade, in Aries, conjunct Saturn in the 6th house! This is disastrous for your relationships!" It may very well be so, but we need a different kind of initiation into this kind of thinking. Psychological astrology provides just that. Because it is, loosely or not, based on a science and it presents its' "truths" with a grain of salt, it enables us to become familiar with astrological terminology and not fly away in horror from an apparently "fatalistic"world view, which may be denied by traditional astrologers, but, despite their sincere efforts, haven't been able yet to convince us otherwise . Psychological astrology, therefore, has provided a great service to humanity. It facilitated the transition from a scientific mentality to a more inclusive one.
What's more, Alan Leo or Dane Rudhyar did not just wake up one morning and decided to revise astrology in order for it to suit the needs of modern man, as traditionalists would have us believe. An astrological revolution of some sorts was inevitable because of an undisputed fact: the discovery of the outer planets. This is where traditional astrologers are incoherent, inconsistent and unconvincing. One thing's for sure: they hate them. They can laugh about the asteroids, the centaurs, the trans-neptunians, the mathematical points and everything else modern astrologers seem to be quite fond of, but when it comes to Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, they are baffled. They would much rather they disappeared, because no matter how hard they try to forget all about them, the outer planets have a tendency to make their presence felt at the most inopportune times. Some of them, like Olivia Barclay and Lee Lehman, use them sometimes in their readings, which of course makes no sense, because it implies that the traditional methods are incomplete, doesn't it? Even John Frawley, possibly the most traditional of all astrologers, shifts from "they are not visible from Earth and so they have no meaning whatsoever" to "Well, OK, they may have some kind of meaning, but the same thing can be deduced from other factors in the chart". I'm sorry, but either they have a meaning or they don't.
On the other hand, modern astrologers fell completely in love with the outer planets and they seem to practise, what I call, an outer planet astrology. The outer planets seem to work regardless of the sign they are in. Their signs show where the changes are happening on a global scale, but it really makes no difference on a personal level whether your Moon opposes Uranus in Libra or Uranus in Scorpio. The only change in the interpretation would depend on the Moon sign and not on the Uranus sign. The outer planets seem to impose their presence on the sign they are in, rather than be affected by it. They don't appear to be weak or debilitated no matter what their sign is. As a result, modern astrologers tried to apply the same principles to the personal planets, ignoring essential dignities and debilities. There is no such thing as a weak or debilitated Venus, it's just "different", they say, whatever that means. Even so, and in spite of the fact that they are psychologically-oriented, I fear that modern astrologers, with a notable few exceptions, don't adequately stress the pain involved in being "different". Even if contemporary society has become more tolerant towards "being different", people who deviate from the norm can still experience excruciating pain and have to learn to live with it. Some of them manage to do so quite successfully, but this doesn't alter the fact that it's terribly unfair to have to go to such lengths in order to ensure your survival, which for others is a given. So when you see in a chart a Moon in Scorpio, I don't know if you are doing your client justice by only focusing on his passionate temperament and neglecting to mention what hell life can be sometimes. Or even think the unthinkable, that, judging their whole chart, you may have an evil person staring you at the face, whether it's possible to change that or not. Even for Jung, evil is a necessity.
On a final note, the outer planets seem to fit very well with their modern depictions. They appear to be connected with the psychological transformations a lot of modern writers talk about in depth, Liz Greene in particular. But as it is unsafe to ignore a progressed Sun conjunct natal Pluto, with transiting Pluto squaring at the same time this progressed aspect (an upcoming reality for some of the people belonging to the Pluto in Libra generation), it is equally unsafe to completely ignore tradition because we run the risk of our interpretations coming up short. It seems imperative that the two opposing schools of thought find a way to blend. The sooner the better.


  1. Hi Petros,

    It is going to take astrology a long time to sort out this rift, in the meantime, the student needs to research with open eyes.

    The difficulty lies not with these two branches of astrological philosophy, but with the "only one way" mentality that permeates our western cultures.

    When there is only room for one "true astrology", we cease to teach astrology and begin to teach astrological dogma.

    Ancient writers were no less prone (and sometimes more so) to the "only one way" mentality as contemporary authors.

    While many traditionalists are in search of, and some claim to have found, "the true" ancient astrology, as many psychological astrologers are trying as hard to defend the ultimate authenticity of "the modern" astrological craft.

    If we simply give up the notion of absolute truth in astrology, and start to use its various branches for their intended purpose, it all becomes a lot clearer.

  2. Thank you Rodney for your comment. I agree with you completely. What really bothers me is that you are supposed to take sides. It is still considered unthinkable to practice both branches of astrology at the same time. The traditionalists especially are very outspoken and never miss a chance to denounce psychological astrology. Modern astrologers, at least, seem to be more reserved in their criticism.

  3. There are a lot of traditionalists who were originally interested in modern astrology, only to be heavily disillusioned when they found out how little traditional substance it has.

    Traditional astrology has the advantage of longevity and was written by high-level academics. It is fairly natural, then, for those of us who are impressed by such things, to gravitate towards such an appealing branch of astrology.

    Unfortunately, traditional texts were written largely by professors who had to maintain the air of authority to maintain their funding. They are therefore written in an authoritative tone that inspires a form of fundamentalism.

    So when you put it altogether, you have academically dis-affected astrologers finding authoritatively written academic astrology texts from antiquity, and you have the beginnings of what has become Astrology's own fundamentalist movement. It was bound to get nasty as they found a voice for their dis-affection

    The angry reaction from modern astrologers who have a strong financial interest in the integrity of the modern craft is equally disappointing.

    Exclusive binary logic (If I am right then you must be wrong) is not going anywhere, any time soon. It has been with us for at least 3,000 years.

    As students and progressive teachers, we need to take ourselves above the fray. If we don't allow ourselves to be persuaded by the sanctimonious and sarcastic arguments, there is a LOT of great information to be retrieved from both sides of the divide.

  4. And one other thought... I have no problem combining both approaches, though I work hard at keeping frames of reference intact.

  5. There are some basic differences, though, aren't there? It seems that sometimes you have to make a choice. For example, sex and the 8th house, work and the 6th house... This is wrong according to traditional astrology. How do you combine the two different approaches in cases like this?

  6. I determine the way I read the chart by the question I am being asked.

    People who want a psychological profile should be answered using signs and houses as described by modern astrology.

    People who want material answers to material questions should be answered using traditional methods.

    People who want specific answers to horary-type questions should be answered using my best horary technique.

    The only difficulty with this approach is if the astrologer believes a house, planet, or sign can only mean one thing. This is a fault inherent in the astrologer, it was never the case in astrology, not now, and not ever.

    At the end of the day, the client approaches the astrologer for answers. I believe that the client is "drawn" to the astrologer who has their answers. If I did not believe that, I would not read astrology.

    Your best answer, given with due respect to yourself, your own "guiding principle", and your client, is the answer the client needs to hear from you.

    "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer along with money returned if the client has only one question. A reference to someone who can answer their question is also useful.

    Does this help?

  7. Yes, Rodney, it does. Thank you very much for your input!