The Western Esoteric Traditions (Part 5)

My summer reading: The Western Esoteric Traditions: a Historical Introduction by Nicholas Goodrick – Clarke (Oxford University Press – 2008).

In this series of blog posts, I’m tracing the Western Esoteric traditions through history, with special attention paid to the contribution of these traditions to the work of Carl Jung.


By the 16th century, the distinction between Ficino’s natural magic and demonic magic starts to blur. 

First stop, is the German humanist Johannes Reuchlin, who builds on Ficino’s magic and Pico’s work with the Kabbalah.  Now the power of words, figures, secret rites, and holy names comes to the fore and teachings in Hebrew become justified in the Christian community. 

Next up, is monastic abbot, Johannes Trithemius, who was a follower of Reuchlin and his work. Now, Christian humanists turned their attention to angelic magic, and Trithemius gives precise instructions on how to summon angels to gain knowledge from them as well as use them to send long distance messages.[1]  His 3 book treatise, Steganograhia, dealt with progressively more powerful spirits demonstrating how they are invoked by prayer, incantation, and precision timing:

  1. in his first book, he warns about the dangers of dealing with the spirits of air because they are both arrogant and rebellious,
  2. in his second book, he enumerates the spirits governing each hour and day,
  3. in his third book he connects all of the Angels and spirits with the seven (visible) planets.

Trithemius also dabbled in prediction and prohecy. His message was that each progressive age (measured in Platonic months of 2480 terrestrial years each with reference to the procession of the equinoxes through the 12 Zodiac signs), would be governed by a particular angel. Knowing his angels, as he did, this allowed him to envisage major currents in political and religious change throughout human history. His underlying thesis was that God, as the first intellect, had delegated these various angelic governors to oversee these fixed periods.

As far as history was concerned, Trithemius was unfortunate. In the end, his notoriety became confused with the legend of Doctor Faustus, which became world famous through the 17th century play (of the same name) by Christopher Marlowe.

Enter Henry Cornelius Agrippa, born in Cologne in 1486, who ushers in the 2nd Golden Age of Hermetic and Christian Kabbalistic practice. Not only does he spread the word through his travels and teachings, but having finally settled in Northern Italy, he is involved with the translation of more ancient works that become accepted into mainstream Christian thought and practice. In his mind, this was only right, convinced as he was that these writings would bring men back from intellectual pride and despair into humble acknowledgement of God’s goodness. The benefit of this approach is clear: with such mastery and revelation, men would regain the upper hand over nature, which had been lost with the antics of Adam in the Garden of Eden.

As Dr Liz Greene points out, Jung was familiar with Agrippa’s work on angels and it did influence his work with Philemon, his ‘daimon’, in Liber Novus. In this, Jung took the view from Jewish magic that ‘guardian angels’ could be pretty much the same thing as one’s daimon, which could be determined from one’s natal or birth chart.[2] This conclusion, however, was harder for him to reach than one might think, given that, as Dr Greene notes, guardian angels are usually understood to be ontologically separate from the human soul. The idea that one’s guardian angel may also be found within is on the fringe, although it is found in the work of Agrippa, where it was demonstrated that through appropriate theurgy (in keeping with the mundus imaginalis of Iamblichus) one is able to invoke his or her angelic ‘higher Self’.

Unfortunately for Agrippa, he (along with other adherents of this 2nd Golden Age) gets caught out in the crossfire of the Reformation, wherein with the new Protestant ideal, the focus is now on the frailty of man and no longer on his confident, hubristic Neoplatonist magic. Nonetheless, Agrippa’s legacy lives on, which leads us to the next link in the chain, England’s John Dee and Edward Kelly.

As advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee enjoyed support and great freedom. Hence, he was a major intellectual force in Elizabethan England. This makes perfect sense. He possessed a library of over 2,500 printed books and 170 manuscripts including the complete works of Marsilio Ficino an edition of the Corpus Hermeticm. As a result, there is no doubt  he was well versed in the current state of the hermetic and kabbalistic arts. Yet as his own major work, Propaedeumata Aphoristica (1558), made clear is real interest lay Arabic and mediaeval Oxford natural science, suggesting as he did that the celestial influence on the everyday lives of men on earth was direct cause and effect rather than sympathetic.  “Whatever exists in actuality spherically projects into each part of the world rays, which fill up the universe to its limit.” 

Overtime , however, hermetic and kabbalistic thought did leave its mark on his work, most famously in Monas (1564) which scholar, Frances Yates, suggests was really a type of magical amulet infused with astrological power, its purpose to bring the human psyche into unity. It’s important to note that other scholars offer a similarly interesting yet competing analyses of that work. 

That his personal library included work by Johannes Trithemius about spiritual (angelic) planetary governors as noted above, did suggest that he was interested in Angel magic . But because he lacked the clairvoyant gifts, he needed intermediaries hence entered, Edward Kelly, a talented medium who most certainly had a reputation for walking on the dark side. There is evidence that the believed that the noises come of voices, operations, and even dreams that he had during the period of working with Kelly were indeed the good Angels bearing genuine messages from God. He felt confident in this given that his experience tallied with those recorded by Agrippa. Reuchlin, and Trithemius.

Interestingly, although the stigma of being a conjurer finally did stick to Dee, there’s little evidence that either he or Kelly attempted to command the angels with whom they were in contact, to do their personal bidding. Although there is plenty of evidence that Dee was much more interested in learning the secrets of creation through his angelic encounters than in obtaining spiritual illumination. This does, then, leave a suggestion that like Kelly, Dee had been drawn to the darker end of the occult spectrum.

(to be continued)


[1] The word angel is derived from the Greek aggelos, or ‘one going’ or ‘one sent’, a ‘messenger’. Aggelos is sometimes used in translation for the Hebrew mal’akh, or ‘messenger’. Biblical applications of the word, both in Hebrew and Greek, refer to certain heavenly intelligences. Whom God employs in the office of messengers to carry out his will amongst humanity. Not surprisingly, the Christian conception of angels stems from much earlier Jewish ideas of God enthroned in a celestial palace, with various coming and goings on heavenly journeys with chariots. For more, see, Angelomorphism and Magical Transformation in the Christian and Jewish Traditions by Alison Greig (pp 129-144); in Culture and Cosmos: A Journal of the History of Astrology and Cultural Astronomy, papers from the 2013 Sophia Centre conference, special double issue on Celestial Magic, vol. 19 , Number 1 and 2, Spring/ Summer and Autumn/Winter 2015

[2] Green, Liz; Jung’s Studies in Astrology: Prophecy, Magic, and the Qualities of Time. London: Routledge (2018), pp.104-105.

The Western Esoteric Traditions (Part 4)

My summer reading: The Western Esoteric Traditions: a Historical Introduction by Nicholas Goodrick – Clarke (Oxford University Press – 2008).

In this series of blog posts, I’m tracing the Western Esoteric traditions through history, with special attention paid to the contribution of these traditions to the work of Carl Jung.

Byzantine Legacy

After the fall of Rome in the 4th century AD, Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, became the new centre of culture and learning and, as the result, the Alexandrian Hellenistic esoteric tradition got a facelift with an Arabic rendition of Hermes Trismegistus, The Emerald Tablet. As such, the words ‘so as above, so as below‘ became cemented into Western esoteric tradition and with them, the idea that the same forces work on earth exactly as they do throughout heaven.

As Peter Marshall observes, The Emerald Tablet is nuanced version of the creation myth of ancient Egypt with Ra symbolised by the sun and told the names of creation by Thoth, symbolised by the moon, who by uttering them brought them into existence in the single act of adaptation by reversing, as did the ancient Egyptians, the familiar Western notion of ‘Mother Earth’ and ‘Father Sky.’[1]

This opens the way for the alchemical allegory of the chemical wedding of the sun and the moon , Sol and Luna. More of alchemy in later posts, but for now it’s enough to set the scene for this development with a deep awareness of the beauty and magnificence of the creation as well as firmly cementing the four classical elements of earth, air, fire, and water into Western esoteric tradition.[2]

Marsilio Ficino and the Hermetic Revival

As the Byzantine Empire declined in the 15th century, the centre of culture and learning shifted westward, to the city of Florence where humanist thought paved the way for the revival of Platonism.[3] As wealth and patronage played such an important part in the advancement of learning in that time, it’s little wonder that with aid from Cosimo de’ Medici, the leading merchant-prince of the Florentine Republic, Marsilio Ficino now takes centre stage.

Ficino had been searching for a type of spirituality that fit his needs and in Plato’s work, he found it. With the backing of Cosimo, Ficino began to translate original Greek manuscripts into Latin. It was during this endeavour that he got his hands on a copy of the Corpus Hermeticum. At that time, it was believed the Hermeticum was much older that it has turned out to be. Thus Ficino and his followers regarded Hermes Trismegistus as a contemporary of Moses and as such, the work was seen as a philosophia perennis, which although predating Christianity, anticipated its arrival. Doubtless, this allowed the ideas in that work to be more palatable to the Church.

The result was an intriguing cosmology, or a psychologically spatial orientation of that which is ‘me’ as well as that which is other than ‘me’, that put God at the top of a hierarchy populated by orders of angels, the planets, and the elements as well as various types of plants, animals and minerals. 

But what made Ficino’s cosmology unique was the role to which he assigned to the human soul. In keeping with Plato’s Symposium, in which Socrates identifies love is an active force holding all things together, Ficino attributed this active influence of thought and love to the human soul, which he believed could reach out and embrace all things in the universe. More than just a formal intellectual model, this new cosmology acted as a map for the travels and ascent of man’s individual soul. In his own contemplative life, Ficino gave personal and practical slant to this idea and combined it seamlessly with his Christianity. 

For thus our soul becomes most like to God, who is wisdom itself. According to Plato, in this likeness consists the highest state of happiness. 

Ficino, a letter written to Cosimo de Medici 

Most importantly, in the hands of Ficino, the Hermetica offered the opportunity to gain power over nature, through what is now known as natural or sympathetic magic. For Ficino, this magic was most easily accomplished through astrology. He believed that the planets and all things celestial, sowed the seeds of God’s divine plan into the material world through archetypal energies resembling rays. Wisdom, one’s key to happiness, would come from judiciously absorbing as many different rays as possible.

By withdrawal from earthly things, by leisure, solitude, constancy, esoteric theology and philosophy, by superstition, magic, agriculture, and grief, we come under the influence of Saturn.”

Marsilio Ficino

As Dr Liz Greene reminds us, not only was Carl Jung very familiar with Ficino’s work, but he relied on it extensively in his own work in the Liber Novus. For example, the Old Scholar, with whom Jung communicated in that work, was a grief-stricken recluse, echoing the Ficino’s association of Saturn with grief and solitude.[4]  As noted in an earlier post, Jung’s most important spiritual guide in Liber Novus, who was known to him as Philemon, was a Saturnian figure with Aquarian leanings. As Dr Greene also reminds us, Philemon provided Jung with his wisdom, his insight, and his understanding of the workings of the psyche – in essence his own cosmology – which Jung then translated into his psychological theories. Philemon’s approach to all of this through astrology, is directly traceable to the work of Ficino. [5]

Pico della Mirandola and the Kabbala

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, a contemporary of Ficino, upped the ante in developing an even more powerful variety of Renaissance magic by incorporating into Ficino’s approach, the Jewish Kabbalah, a mystical concept used by Kabbalists to signify the self-emptying aspect of the creator.

God (known as Ain Soph) withdraws his Light in order to create a vacuum allowing a single thread of his Light to traverse the darkness in a series of ten concentric circles called Sephiroth – collectively known as The Tree of Life.  Each Sephira, connected by twenty-two pathways, acts as a vessel containing some of His Light; thus each represents an aspect of God.

For the Kabbalist, the ‘Tree’ is not only a diagram of God’s unfolding creative impulse, but also a path for spiritual union with the Divine.  Legend has it that after the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, angels brought the Kabbalah down from Heaven to teach Adam how to recover his primal bliss.

Although primarily a system of contemplation, the Kabbalah also has a magical side. As a means of approaching the Sephiroth, seventy-two angels could be invoked by one knowing their names and numbers as well as the appropriate arrangement of Hebrew words, letters, and/or signs.

According to Pico , Ficino’s natural or sympathetic magic was weak and ineffective unless used in combination with the Kabbalah. He said that whereas natural magic aims no higher than operating upon the material world and the stars, the Kabbalah can be used to operate beyond – to influence the super celestial spheres of angels, archangels and God (the first cause), Himself. Such practise however, could be dangerous and the ecstasy that results may cause the death of the body, a way of dying known as the “Death of the Kiss.”

Not surprisingly, Jung’s spirit guide, Philemon, was also knowledgeable with the Kabbalah. It was shortly before Jung’s kabbalistic vision of uniting the divine male and female, that he’d experienced a serious heart attack in 1944.[6] Indeed, the English occultist, Dion Fortune, attributed her well known book, The Mystical Qabalah, to the wisdom that Philemon had communicated to Jung.[7]

I would commence my mental rehearsal up the sacred names, and would suddenly find that I was aware of mental pictures only… I maintained my concentration on the images arising in consciousness, and did not allow it to wander… Out of the Sky over the water a vast angelic figure began to form, and I saw what I felt to be an archangel bent over me in a vast curve.

Dion Fortune

In his famous Oration on the Dignity of Man, Pico marked the change between the medieval mind and the modern mind; man alone has been given by God the freedom to make of himself what he will, and it should come as no surprise, drawing on the that overwhelming message of the Corpus Hermeticum, that in doing so he should strive to become like God, to know God as an equal – because only like understands like. The stage is now set for the develop of further invocational magic.

(to be continued)



[1] Marshall, Peter. The Philosopher’s Stone: A Quest for the Secrets of Alchemy. London; Macmillan (2001).

[2] As Peter Marshall suggests, nothing stands more powerfully than the words of the Emerald Tablet themselves:

  1. True it is, without falsehood, certain and most true. That which is above is like that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above, to accomplish the miracles of one thing. 
  2. And as all things were by the contemplation of the one, so all things arose from this one thing by a single act of adaptation.
  3. The father is therefore is the Sun, the mother the Moon. 
  4. The wind carried it in its womb, the Earth is the nurse thereof. 
  5. It is the father of all the works of wonder throughout the whole world. 
  6. The power therefore is perfect. 
  7. If it be cast on to the Earth, it will separate the elements of the Earth from that of Fire, the subtle from the gross. 
  8. With great sagacity it doth ascend gently from Earth to Heaven.
  9. Again it doth descend to the Earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and things inferior.
  10. Thus thou wilt possess the glory of the brightness of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly from thee.
  11. This thing is the strong fortitude of all strength, for it overcometh every subtle thing and doth penetrate every solid substance. 
  12. Thus was the world created. 
  13. Hence there will be marvellous adaptations achieved, of which the manner is this. 
  14. For this reason I am called Hermes Trismegistus, because I hold three parts of the wisdom of the whole world. 
  15. That which I had to say about the operation of the Sol  is completed.

[3] As Louis Dupre explains in his excellent book, Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993. P. 96-97 and 149), underlying the humanist movement in all its variations, is the idea of human responsibility for bringing all creation to its destined perfection. Since the 15th century humanists were focused on finding the right models for telling an essentially unchanging story, it’s not surprising that in their hands, ancient learning again takes centre stage in new form.

[4] For more on this, see discussion at pp. 75 in The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus, (Routledge, 2018) by Dr Liz Greene

[5] Ibid, p. 119.

[6] Ibid,  p. 99.

[7] Ibid, p. 101.

The Western Esoteric Traditions (Part 3)

My summer reading: The Western Esoteric Traditions: a Historical Introduction by Nicholas Goodrick – Clarke (Oxford University Press – 2008).

In this series of blog posts, I’m tracing the Western Esoteric traditions through history, with special attention paid to the contribution of these traditions to the work of Carl Jung.

As noted earlier, all western Traditions are based on the cosmology so as above so is below with a more or less direct connection between the divine reality (logos) and our human lives in the earthly realm. 

Hermeticism

As might be expected, it all began in ancient Egypt around the time that Alexander the Great (332BC) founded the city of Alexandra. Cultural change (urbanisation and the Greek rationalism which made gods too difficult for most people to relate to) brought in the first of these traditions, Alexandrian Hermeticism. 

The city of Alexander was a melting pot of cultures so it only makes sense that its spiritual tradition followed suit quickly becoming a clearing house for both Greek and Eastern ideas , myth, and religious practises and beliefs. The best known texts of this period are those attributed to Hermes Trismegistus – whose attributes were also a melting pot of the Egyptian god, Thoth and the Greek god Hermes (known as Mercury in ancient Rome). 

Thoth was a lunar deity in service to the solar god, Ra, and for the ancient Egyptians, everything lunar was vital not least because the moon was considered responsible for the periodic flooding of the River Nile. It’s little surprise then that Thoth was at the top of divinity heap, considered to be the supreme law giver especially regarding magical and occult powers. Likewise, Hermes, the psychopomp (the spiritual guide of a living person soul) was also a lunar deity and considered responsible for the timely functioning of everyday life.

Although both Thoth and Hermes had serious clout, they also had a lighter more playful side in the sense they were identified as trickster gods. This allowed people to relate with them more easily than they had been able with other gods.

In time, Hermes became associated with the concept of Logos, one of the most complex concepts of the Hellenistic world meaning nothing less than the natural order of things –  the very rhyme and reason of creation. Thus it was through Hermes that the people could find Logos, or divinity,  within themselves, as did Carl Jung through his connection with Philemon, his spirit guide in Liber Novus, who, as Dr Liz Greene reminds us, was also a hermetic figure. 

The primary text of Alexandrian Hermeticism is the Corpus Hermeticum, which itself is a collection of 17 different treatises written in Greek in 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Throughout most of these treaties, the character Hermes Trismegistus, plays the role of initiator to various other characters into wisdom and mysteries. However in the famous first book Poimandres (The Divine Pymander), Hermes receives a lecture from the god Nous (Supreme intellect).

 “Because of this, unlike any other living thing on earth, mankind is twofold – in the body mortal but immortal in the essential man. Even though he is immortal and has authority over all things, mankind is affected by mortality because he is subject to fate; thus, although man is above the cosmic framework, he became a slave within it.”

(Book 1 (Discourse) of Hermes Trismegistus: Poimandres, [15].

The overwhelming message of Corpus Hermeticum is that it is the work of humans to become like God, to know God as an equal – because only like understands like.

This is to be accomplished through contemplation of the divinity that pervades the whole of nature. Look for symbols because all symbols point to God. Learn how to read the symbols, and you will know God.

Therefore according to the hermetic tradition, the purpose of esoteric (spiritual) practise is to find our own divinity, our own connection with God, through our intellect. This is achieved through discourse with the hierarchical entities (mundus imaginals). In essence, it is this initiation, development, and maintenance of bonds and relationships between revealed and concealed worlds that is known to us as magic.

It is this ‘essential man’ (or spirit) that Nous mentioned (see above) that we are attempting to reconnect. Eventually, by climbing that hierarchal ladder with help from the various entities, we will transmute the baseness of the material world and once again become one with God.[1]


Neoplatonism

Closely related to Hermeticism, is pagan Neoplatonism, which like Hermeticism, perceived the primary aim of man is to tread a spiritual path allowing him to ascend to his divine origins, from which he’d fallen into earthly existence. Neoplatonism flourished between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD and was especially popular with the wealthy inhabitants of the later Roman Empire.

According to Plotinus, a leading figure in this moment, the hierarchy of Hermeticism could be divided into three readily discernible parts: (1) the Higher Soul (World Soul and that of individuals), (2) Intellect, and (3) Lower Soul or Nature. Each level was a constituent part of living, breathing Logos and each consisted of exactly the same stuff, albeit the lower down the ladder, the more imperfect that would be.

As with Hermeticism, Plotinus believed the point of all esoteric practice (i.e. magic) was the purification and ascent of the soul into unity with the Divine through use of correspondence, or sumpatheia (sympathy). As Dr Liz Greene explains, sumpatheia means ‘happening with’, or ‘experiencing with’; ‘two apparently unrelated events, conditions, or objects that occur simultaneously and reflect a shared hidden meaning, root, pattern, or divinity. According to Dr Greene, this is precisely what Jung meant when he coined the new term ‘synchronicity’, in order to make the old magical ideas more palatable to the scientific community. [2]

Porphyry, a disciple of Plotinus, added the flourish of strict asceticism to the process whilst Iamblichus, a disciple of Porphyry, streamlined and formalised the process with formulaic (theurgical) manipulation of symbolic objects as well as methodology to achieve ‘divine possession’ of the gods through mediumship.

According to Iamblichus, ‘the eyes of the body’ cannot tolerate a vision of the gods except through the mediation of perceptible symbols such as gemstones. As Dr Greene also reminds us, although we still do not understand why humans respond psychologically to certain gemstones (and in particular to their colours), nevertheless, we do. Like all symbols, gemstones have potency and consumers are more willing than ever to accept this at face value. [3

Proclus, the last major pagan Neoplatonist strengthen the connection between spiritual ascent and properly focused theurgy, thus laying the groundwork for Renaissance magicians like Ficino.

Gnosticism

A major current in Christian thought, Gnosticism follows a game plan of achieving spiritual knowledge (gnosis) of God and the higher realities (archangels, cherubim, seraphim, guardians, et al) that operate in the same plane as God.

But although one may aspire to know God, God remains always unknown and unknowable. Gnosis is as close as you’ll get, and for some Gnostics, that could only be achieved through redemption through Jesus Christ.

Also in contrast to Hermeticism, wherein there was no duality in the sense that everything in the world is recognised as of divine origin, with the Gnostics comes the concept of good vs. evil.

For the Gnostics, the material world (one of illusion) populated by humans was not a creation of God, but instead of an inferior (or perhaps even evil) being known as the demiurge.

Overall, Gnosticism is a pessimistic view of the fallen nature of man and a rejection of the fundamental good of all God’s creation.

(to be continued)


[1] It is worth nothing that in this sense, spiritual, unlike the common English usage, refers to a material substance, the Stoic conception of a higher, finer matter that sustains life, movement, and thought. See Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a new English translation with notes and introduction by Brian P. Copenhaver (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p 99, note 1.5.

[2] See The God in the Stone: Gemstone Talismans in the Western Magical Traditions by Liz Greene (pp 48); in Culture and Cosmos: A Journal of the History of Astrology and Cultural Astronomy, papers from the 2013 Sophia Centre conference, special double issue on Celestial Magic, vol. 19 , Number 1 and 2, Spring/ Summer and Autumn/Winter 2015.

[3] Greene, The God in the Stone, p. 51.

The Western Esoteric Traditions (Part 2)

My summer reading: The Western Esoteric Traditions: a Historical Introduction by Nicholas Goodrick – Clarke (Oxford University Press – 2008).

Carl Jung was heavily influenced by Henry Corbin, a renowned 20th century scholar of Islamic esotericism. 

A central aspect of Corbin’s work was the idea of the imagination as both ‘cognitive and creative’. In line with the Persian philosophers whom he had studied, Corbin identified the human imagination as ‘an autonomous world of intermediaries, the mundus imaginals, where visions, apparitions, angels, and hierarchies occurred independently of any perceiving subject’. 

Corbin concluded that this world of hierarchies is as ‘real and objective’ as the material world in which we carry out our everyday lives. But because these intermediaries are not as dense as the material objects populating our everyday world, they are not easily perceptible. To access mundus imaginals, we must use our active imaginations rather than the sense of sight, smell, and touch, through which we usually navigate.

This, along with the work of other academics and scholars, leaves us with six fundamental characteristics of western esoteric spirituality: 

  1. Correspondence –  all constituent levels of being (stars, planets, humans, animals, plants, minerals, humours, and states of mind both healthy and diseased) are linked together through a series of correspondences. Imagine two violins. Sympathetic or corresponding  vibration occurs when two strings are tuned to the same pitch. When one is plucked, the other will sing out in ‘in sympathy’. The connection between these various levels of being is not causal, but symbolic. As Dr Liz Greene reminds us, the gods have left their traces in the material world for us to find and this is done through symbols. Humans don’t invent symbols. We discover them through our active imagination. Dr Greene says we use symbols to coax the gods to come down to earth and partake with us through ritual and this is precisely what Jung did whilst writing Liber Novus.
  2. Living nature – all things in nature are alive, full of divine energy or soul. It is through this divine energy or soul, that Marsilio Ficino, an accomplished magician and protégée of Cosimo de Medici, one of the most powerful men in Renaissance Europe, lived what he referred to as a ‘well-tempered’ life in cosmic harmony with the divine plan. This plan was charted in the heavens and so it is no surprise that Ficino was also an accomplished astrologer. In Ficino’s solar system, there were only seven planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto had yet to be discovered). Ficino believed that in order to thrive, soul needs exposure to each of those planets. For example, the Sun symbolizes the qualities – insight and imagination – that are uniquely human. Thus solar energy is associated with consciousness, rational thought, and the pursuit of truth and honour.  Cultivate solar energy through solemn music, all things gold coloured, nutmeg, heliotrope, myrrh, honey, crocus, corn, cinnamon, aloes, lions, swans, beetles, and chickens. Visualize a king on a throne in a yellow garment, along with a raven and the form of the sun.
  3. Imagination and mediations – as mentioned earlier, it is through our active imagination that we establish a cognitive and creative connexion with mundus imaginals. As Goodrick-Clark reminds us, where the mystic typically seeks a direct and immediate connexion with God, for the esotericist, this connection is made through the intermediaries that extend up and down the hierarchal ladder. In essence, this is magical thinking –  a unique type of consciousness – participative of mode of thought whereby participants gain awareness of the Inter relatedness of all things in the world by a means of simple , but we find, sense perception. In this sense, magic does not seek to fix or change the objective world.[1] Dr Greene reminds us that when we coax the gods to come to earth and partake with us through ritual , we have invoked them not to ‘fix’ our outer world, but instead to ‘fix’ our inner world – in other words, to transform us to live, as did Ficino, in harmony with the divine plan. 
  4. The experience of transmutation – as noted above, as the result of esoteric work we must expect to experience change in some uniquely manifest way. This is not an intellectual pursuit. For Jung, the arrival of his Philemon, his Saturnian daimon with Aquarian leanings, was a key moment in his life. Dr Greene suggests that Jung stopped working on Liber Novus in 1929-1932 because he needed to understand what was meant psychologically by Philemon as symbol of his ‘inner’ self.  As the result, he developed psychological models like perhaps synchronicity to explain what had resulted for him as the result of his esoteric work. Jung believed synchronistic experiences mirror deep psychological processes that further ‘individuation’ – the process by which we gain understanding of our place in the world. He believe that synchronistic experiences always involve an archetype. Consider the case of the Golden beetle. While Jung’s client was relating a dream which she’d received a gift of a Golden scarab (a large dung beetle held sacred in ancient Egypt), Jung heard a gentle tapping on the window. He opened it and caught a beetle whose green gold colour was the same as that of the Golden scarab his client had described. When Jung related that the scarab was a classic rebirth symbol depicting the archetype of self-transformation , exactly the issue with which she’d been struggling, the client was shocked enough to breakdown her resistance to therapy. Here you can see the connection between magical thinking (i.e. synchronicity), symbols, and personal change of transmutation.[2]
  5. Concordance – the idea here is that all of these western esoteric traditions (perhaps also some or all of the eastern traditions) are linked together in important ways and perhaps even stem from a single source (prisca theologia).
  6. Transmission – most esoteric traditions suggest that the fullness of their teachings can only be passed from master to disciple through an established path of initiation. In other words, book learning or even personal experimentation will never be enough.  

Finally, and very importantly, Corbin and other esoteric scholars have demonstrated that the esoteric traditions and ideals come back into fashion whenever the world order as we currently know it starts to fall apart. This is exactly what happened in the European renaissance revival of all of these traditions and we will see more examples of this in future blog posts.

(to be continued) 


[1] Campion, Nicholas, Editorial (p 1-8) in Culture and Cosmos: A Journal of the History of Astrology and Cultural Astronomy, papers from the 2013 Sophia Centre conference, special double issue on Celestial Magic, vol. 19 , Number 1 and 2, Spring/ Summer and Autumn/Winter 2015.

[2] For more on this, see discussion at pp. 116-117 in The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus, (Routledge, 2018) by Dr Liz Greene.

The Western Esoteric Traditions (Part 1)

My summer reading: The Western Esoteric Traditions: a Historical Introduction by Nicholas Goodrick – Clarke (Oxford University Press – 2008).

Western esoteric traditions have roots in religious thinking reaching far back into the Hellenistic era and before. In the Renaissance, ancient texts thought forever lost were rediscovered. This led to a revival of an interest in and the practice of magic, astrology, alchemy, and the Kabbalah. After the Reformation, this continues with the development of theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry and for me, most importantly the analytical psychology of Carl Jung.

As Dr Liz Greene makes clear in her scholarly study, The Astrological World of Jung’s Libre Novus: Daimon’s, Gods, and the Planetary Journey (Routledge, 2018), Jung used ritual magic and astrology in his own personal work which underlaid much of his psychological theories.

Jung’s most important spiritual guide in this work was known to him as Philemon, a Saturnian figure with Aquarian leanings (Saturn being the planetary ruler of Aquarius), who was not only a wise man but also a magician (in the sense of the tarot trump, The Magician). Interestingly, Philemon was also a gardener, who quietly cultivated tulips in his own garden as might any pensioner. Not only did Philemon guide Jung along his own spiritual journey in much the same way as did Virgil with Dante, but he also provided Jung with a much needed sense of spiritual meaning. 

Jung’s work with magic and astrology demonstrates not only is there a place for esoteric traditions in modern science but also, if we are to become all that we as men and women can be, an important link must be made between irrationalism and progressive rationalism. Indeed many Great Western thinkers such as Nietzsche and Kierkegaard have also expressed grave concerns about where progressive rationalism might take the human race.

As I hope to make clear in my blog posts over the next few months, a solid understand of western esoteric tradition is essential for anyone involved with an/ or interested in working with visions, apparitions, and even angels.

Indeed, it is the view of Dr Liz Greene (expressed in a series of lectures given in 2017 regarding Jung’s Liber Novus) that the current popularity of guardian angels is a substitute religious pursuit. As organised religion becomes less popular people become ever more desperate to find meaning and purpose in their lives, something that transcends the boundaries of their personal Egos.

But I hope this book will also give me more insight into the subjects and ideas that I addressed during my pursuit of my MA in Study of Religious and Mystical Experience at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Because first and foremost, according to Goodrick-Clarke, behind any work involving western esotericism lies a spiritual experience.

(to be continued)

Astrological Anxiety (2)

This is the second in a series of blog posts based on the work of a fabulous astrologer, Acyuta-bhava from Nightlight Astrology. I’ve thrown in my two cents here and there as you might expect, but many thanks to Acyuta-bhava for having put this in place in the first place.

To this point, we’ve defined astrological anxiety as follows: ‘I’m warned in advance that a ‘cosmic weather front’ is coming through. OMG, what do I now do?’ In important respects, this anxiety is very much like the existential anxiety addressed by philosophers like Heidegger. As Heidegger reminds us, we expect life to progress with logical linearity over which we remain in conscious control at all times. 

That, however, is not how it works.

When we refuse to accept this, we get into big trouble. Religion is meant to keep us out of this trouble, yet it seems that more often it plunges us deeper in the thick of it. That’s because we fail to understand that true religion is not the same as organised religion. True religion, practiced everyday, helps us to connect with the divine. In the words of Heidegger, to accept that ‘time is no longer a reckonable sequence’ but instead, ‘an inexhaustible inescapable presence’. Organised religion tends to tempt us to move closer to this understanding only in great times of personal need and/or the major religious events/festivities like (for Christians), like Christmas and Easter. 

We often think that we don’t need religion because we tend to define it with the stuffy set of rules that came along with any religious upbringing/training we might have had as children. But in reality, however much we might like to think otherwise, the religious impulses – i.e., the impulse to connect with the divine plan – is innate – alive and well within us. 

When that impulse is thwarted, (or misdirected)  we not only feel bad (in the sense of suffering), but we tend to act out that impulse in ways that go over the top. For example, thwarted religious impulse can result in religious fanaticism and/or ‘drama queen’ displays of childish superiority. In other words, when our true religious impulse is thwarted, our emotions – the powerful passionate stuff, get channelled in ways (politics, money, obsessive dieting, securing the best schools for our kids, whatever) that do us more harm than ever they could do us good. 

This is where astrology comes in. 

Properly approached, astrology helps us to be sober about our lives in the sense that we make life choices in line with the divine plan, of which, like it or not, we remain an integral part. By its very nature, astrology, used correctly, should thus not make us anxious, but instead quietly confident that we are (or are not) on the right path.

By contrast, if astrology is causing us to stress out about the future, we are not approaching either it or our lives soberly. In this sense sobriety does not mean without great passion or pleasure. What it does mean is that we do not allow our need for great passion and pleasure to drive our lives. 

The upshot of this is that some people are simply not cut out for astrology – be they practitioners, students, or clients. The goal of astrology, handled correctly, is allow us to be content and steadfast in where we’re headed. The goal of astrology is not to aid us in expending energy to attain that which, for reasons we may never understand, is unattainable.

When you find yourself getting worked up about what comes next and asking astrology to help you prepare for it, you’d be better off leaving astrology – and indeed, all forms of divination – alone. 

Astrological Anxiety (1)

This is the first in a series of blog posts based on the work of a fabulous astrologer, Acyuta-bhava from Nightlight Astrology. I’ve thrown in my two cents here and there as you might expect, but many thanks to Acyuta-bhava for having put this in place in the first place.

Astrological anxiety – what is it? 

It goes something like this – now with the benefit of astrology, I know a little bit what to expect and that somehow makes everything worse. I’m warned in advance that a ‘cosmic weather front’ is coming through. OMG, what do I now do? This knowing puts a good deal of pressure on me to somehow prepare for the storm but as don’t yet really know what will happen, I can’t really do that. Is the resulting tension I feel the same as existential anxiety?

In many important respects, the answer is yes, it is.

As existentialist Heidegger reminds us, ‘time is no longer a reckonable sequence’ but instead, ‘an inexhaustible inescapable presence’. In other words, real time, unlike time displayed on clocks and calendars, is primitive, primordial, spooky; real time, as understood by Heidegger, is all that man has and will ever have. Scandalously, sadly, said real time is also shorn from otherwise comforting pre-Reformation notions of eternity.

Thus, it only makes sense that having called our attention to this existential reality, astrology serves us best not in trying to tell us what will happen but instead to more fully understand our situation so that when that cosmic weather front does hit, we will be in a position to release false expectations and accept what does happen. To accomplish this, we need to give up our attachment to the qualifiers ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This does not mean that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things alike won’t happen; astrology is not meant to help us to detach from this reality. Instead, astrology is meant to help us to realise there is a divine, cosmic plan – and each of us is part of it even though there are cycles and themes that are beyond us and and our ego-focused view of the world. To develop such a realisation is a mission statement – both for the astrologers but also for clients and students of astrology.

The goal is to develop a mindset that is accepting of both what we have in front of us as well as what is behind of us – a mindset that helps to us to think of our ‘karma’ not solely as gifts and challenges carried over from the past but instead as a divine connection between the past, present, and future.

Astrology helps us here. For example, you might think of the astrological symbolism as an expression of the ‘thought forms’ in the mind of God. When you reflect upon this more deeply, you might see astrological symbolism as something more more transcendental – more meaningful than how much money will “I” have (or not have) tomorrow and/or will ‘I’ get this or that job or marry this or that man/woman. 

One of the significant benefits of this deeper approach is to flip ourselves out of the Ego-based game of ‘ how much more do I need to do – or get- have ‘ (i.e., the Western  ‘rat race’ – also known as ‘who’s on top and who’s on the bottom) and into a more serene, conducive state of true ‘happiness’.

As the Buddhists are happy to remind us, happiness doesn’t mean not having more, but instead means not surrendering one’s entire peace of mind to having it.

(to be continued)

The Art of Effective Authentic Communication for the 21st Century

The research is clear: you are 3 times as likely to get the job or close the deal when you are authentic in your communication. Yet authenticity also has its downsides.

If you’re concerned about getting the balance right, keep reading!

Why authenticity?

Recent research shows that 71% of people believe that when trying to make a good impression – land a deal or get a job – their communication strategy should cater to the interests, preferences, and expectations of the person(s) they are trying to impress. 

But that same research is clear that people are 3 times more likely to get their desired outcome when they are genuine – or authentic – in their communication. 

Yet evidence is also clear that too much authenticity can backfire bigtime. Consider the woman who had just been promoted to manager and during her first meeting with her new team announced that although she ‘really did want this job, it was scary and so she will need everyone’s help.’ 

Some may think her honest and brave whilst others would write her off as weak and ineffective. Others might be willing to give her a chance but nonetheless, they are already prejudiced in their thinking. 

Years later, that same manager admitted that on that first day on the job she learned that ‘being authentic doesn’t mean that you can held up to the light and people can see right through you.” 

In other words, for effective communication you need to get the balance right. But how? Your first step is to understand what authenticity means for you.

‘Sometimes just being yourself is the wrong thing to do’.

Authenticity is a loosely defined concept spanning a broad and complex expanse of subjects and history. 

Political philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), is generally considered to be the founder of modern authenticity. He believed that authenticity demanded nothing less than complete honesty, however uncomfortable or isolating. Later thinkers have reached differing conclusions. For example, 19th century existentialist, Soren Kierkegaard, said that when it came to authenticity, one must set aside theories, cultural customs, and even well- intentioned advice. For him, consulting one’s own conscious was the only way forward. 

In the 21st  century business context, things again are different. Professor Herminia Ibarra, Author of The Authenticity Paradox (HBR – Jan/Feb 2015) suggests that doing what feels natural can backfire with seriously damaging consequences. 

So to get on with your career, must you choose between being a fake or a failure? Professor Ibarra says absolutely not!

Instead, you must remember that the ‘self’ to which you’re being authentic is not fixed but flexible. People change as they learn and grow. Being authentic requires more than just being comfortable. It’s impossible to learn and grow without moving from your comfort zone. 

Equally it’s impossible to develop an effective, yet authentic style of communication if you aren’t willing to practice and learn. And don’t forget that research suggests this is especially challenging for women, many of whom struggle when being authentic means discrepancy with social and cultural norms. 

Talk like TED

In his bestseller, Talk Like TED, Carmine Gallo stresses the importance of making an emotional connection with your intended audience. 

He says ‘great communicators reach your head and touch your heart’. Unfortunately, most forget the ‘heart part’ to their detriment. According to Gallo, effective authentic communication requires that you speak passionately to, and create a meaningful connection with, your audience. 

Astrologically, this comes down to your natal Moon. It is through the qualities and characteristics uniquely connected with the zodiac sign in which your Moon is found that you create a safe, secure, and naturally passionate connection with your audience. If possible, choose the kind of space in which to communicate most effectively. 

Zodiac SignStyle
AriesNeeds to be constantly ‘doing’ – preoccupied with finding a worthy challenge or other avenue to self-gratification – tendency to be pushy, impulsive – even reckless – when threatened, likely to be provocative and argumentative. Potential place of communicative delivery – a sports stadium, battlefield, or boxing match.
LeoNeeds to be noticed, admired, and appreciated – preoccupied with one-upsmanship (“I can do it better than you can”) – tendency to be generous and loyal – the ‘life of the party’ – when threatened, can quickly become the quintessential ‘drama queen’. Potential place of communicative delivery include a party, playground, or theatre.
SagittariusNeeds everything to be light and lively – preoccupied with travel and finding adventure – tendency to teach/preach and share ideas – gregarious – when threatened can become arrogant and haughty. Potential places for communicative delivery includea university, church, airport, or courthouse.
GeminiNeeds constant stimulation (chaotic and curious) – preoccupied with drawing conclusions and making connections – tendency to be a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ – scattered – when threatened, can become gossipy (even traitorous) and cynical. Potential places for communicative delivery include a classroom, newsroom, or bookstore.
LIbraNeeds to be pleasing and harmonious – preoccupied with attractive surroundings – tendency to redress imbalances – play ‘devil’s advocate’ – when threatened can be critical and judgemental – especially when there appears there is no way to be ‘liked’. Potential places for communicative delivery include an art gallery, interior design centre, or beauty salon.
AquariusNeeds to learn and discover – preoccupied with what makes people tick – tendency to spout own views and beliefs as ‘the truth’ – especially when it comes to politics – when threatened, likely to become disruptive and/or seek an abrupt change of scenery. Potential places for communicative delivery include a convention hall, conference room, political rally.
TaurusNeeds to feel physically safe and comfortable – preoccupied with retaining control – tendency toward possessiveness – ‘what’s yours is mine but not vice versa’ – when threatened, can become vengeful especially if feeling betrayed. Potential places for effective communication delivery include a restaurant, farm, or massage parlour.
VirgoNeeds to feel useful and productive – preoccupied with health and well-being – tendency to feel nervous or ill-at-ease when everything is not ‘just so’ – when threatened, can become supersensitive and highly critical. Potential places for communicative delivery include the workplace, health clinic, lab, employment agency.
CapricornNeeds structure and boundaries – preoccupied with clear-cut guidelines and rules – tendency to feel responsible and do his/her duty – when threatened, takes up the drawbridge and retreats behind the castle walls. Potential places for communicative delivery include the corporate boardroom, top of a mountain, or in a walled (well-tended) garden.
CancerNeeds to feel emotionally connected with everyone – like a chameleon, instinctively blends in to his environment – tendency to take up role of caretaker – “Here, have my homemade chicken soup.’ When threatened, clams up and/or gets seriously annoyed. Potential places for communicative delivery include home, restaurant, or museum.
ScorpioNeeds to keep a close watch on the situation – like a sharp-eyed eagle, always on guard – tendency not to reveal underlying motivations but anxious to fully comprehend those of others – when threatened, can provoke ‘crisis’ as smokescreen. Potential places for communicative delivery include a trauma centre, operating theatre, or brothel.
PiscesNeeds to be in a sympathetic, understanding environment – preoccupied with helping others – tendency to fantasize and day dream – when threatened, melts down and/or disappears. Potential places for communicative delivery include rest home, bar, or spiritual retreat.

Gallo identifies four key elements of good verbal delivery; (1 rate of speech, (2 volume, (3 pitch, and (4 pauses. To be successful, all need to be carefully managed. Yet how can you manage them until you are au fait with your default communication style? 

Astrologically, this is symbolised by your natal Mercury, which informs the way you think, learn, and process information. Mercury also informs the primary concerns upon which you’ll naturally focus during any communication as well as your choice of delivery and words.  

Zodiac StyleDefault Communication Style
Ariesquick off the mark – initiates and competes, leads, and arouses. The first one to try out new things. Generally, not interested in anyone’s feelings.
LeoSelf-confident and self- assured – warm, bright, encouraging – makes things happen, tends toward exaggeration and has difficulties focusing on other than his/her own views and ideas. Not necessarily in touch with own feelings.
SagittariusSparkles with optimism and adores spreading his/her ideas. Assumes the world is filled with meaning. Sometimes talks too much and often is emotionally evasive and defensive. Quickly grasps the bigger picture
GeminiMercurial –simultaneous thoughts and impressions all at once – curious and experimental, open to new experiences and ideas. Lively (chatty) communicator with short attention span.
LibraA preoccupation with relationship and balance. Incisive and rational. Objective and (impractically) fair. Difficulty with resolution – there’s always so much more that could (should) be considered. Loves debate. Shies away from difficult emotions.
Aquarius Tends to live in own head. Preoccupation with right and wrong, should and should not. Visionary, utopian, rational, inspirational, just, and idealistic. Tendency towards reform although easily wedded to own ideas and perceptions. Often, ‘truth’ (whatever than means) comes before social acceptability. Self-reflective and usually unemotional.
TaurusTends to be slow off the mark and reluctant to commit or comment. Very concrete. Inclined to notice and focus on importance of values such as safety, comfort, and security. Stubborn re: change.
VirgoUsually needs time to digest and (re) consider – very discriminating (potentially myopic) and practical. Quick to pick up on and point out both good and bad points especially about health and work issues.
CapricornTends to be ractical and organised, down to earth. Plodding but ambitious and persevering – rather like the tortoise in his race against the hare. Known more for hard work than optimism. Tendency to be cautious and wary. Dry wit and dark humour.
CancerUsually subjective and depending on mood, can easily pick up on – or completely miss – that which is going on around them. Persuasive. Instinctively knows what to say – focus on survival needs – jobs, security, food.
ScorpioSignature is strategic and probing – looks for motivation – believes there are always strings attached. Cautious and circumspect. Instinctively distrustful. In touch with the unconscious, this is Mercury in his Psychopomp hat.
PiscesOften perceptive, emotional, contradictory. Can have problems with boundaries. Creative, intuitive (if not telepathic), as well as secretive. Scattered thinking a real possibility yet observations are often of highest accuracy and clarity. Focused on the seriously bigger picture.

Now what?

Yet every subject, situation, and audience is also unique unto itself and so for effective, yet still authentic, communication, you will need to both understand and adjust your default style and for that, you’ll probably be needing some help. Do this with a clever mix of neurolinguistic programming, astrology, and Aristotle.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve been reading, then why not sign up for an astrological coaching session now?!

Karmic Astrology (12)

In posts to date, I’ve investigated many different way to astrologically identifying your past and future karma using invaluable information gained by attending workshops/retreats led by July Hall many years ago as well as a very special technique, the Draconic chart, which I learned about from Christeen Skinner, a clever and articulate financial astrologer here in the UK.


To demonstrate how this all fits together, Ms KS, has volunteered to have her chart, as well as that of her husband, used as a case study. 

SUMMARY

In prior lifetimes, Ms KS gave up her personal power in service to groups whose agendas were of a political and social nature. The position that she played in those groups (of which her now husband might well have been a member) was not 100% above board and involved conning or otherwise using clever communication skills to ensure that what people saw was not what they got.

This might have operated in the healing arts or other positions ‘of service’ – perhaps as a courtier.

During this incarnation, Ms KS is asked to take back her sense of self and personal power but that won’t be easy. In those prior lifetimes, she developed (or adopted) an inflated – or haughty – sense of self that will all too easily slip back into play during this lifetime if she’s not careful. Likewise, she will struggle with ‘learned helpless’ during this lifetime – take the easy way out – and shuffle-off sideways without confrontation. Holding her personal ground in a practical yet pleasant way is key to success.


DETAILS

Ms KS

Natal Chart (Ms KS) – (inside ring)

  • Ms KS has Gemini rising and Mercury, the ruler of her chart, in Leo in the karmic 4th house.  
    • Clustered at her Gemini ascendant, we find Venus (12th house) and Mars (1st house) in Gemini, although they are too far apart to be considered in conjunction.
    • Ms KS was not so pleased when I reminded her that Gemini can be quite indiscriminate when it comes to telling the truth – this does not mean that Gemini is immoral but rather more amoral – if in doubt, revisit the Greek/Roman mythological surrounding Mercury/Hermes – who is known as the ‘trickster’ god for good reason. 
    • Also consider that Boris Johnson, current prime minister of the UK, has an unusually high dose of Gemini (Sun, Venus, Mercury and Mars) ­­­in his natal chart: Boris spends a good deal of time defending himself of claims that he’s a liar. 
    • This is not to suggest that Gemini tells untruths (I myself have two personal planets in Gemini and believe that energy to be truly charming). But it is to suggest that the relationship that Gemini has with the truth can often be perceived by others as, how shall we put this, ‘challenged.’
    • Mercury in this chart is in Leo in the 4th house – this suggests communication during past lives (4thhouse) was ‘self-aggrandizing’ and ‘boastful’ and ‘self-serving’ (with a casual nod to truthfulness) and being in the 4th house, is quite possible something that ran in Ms KS’s birth family. 
  • Next, we have a Sun/Jupiter conjunction in Cancer in the 2nd house. 
    • On the plus side, this is the signature of an upbeat person who has a knack for finding the silver lining in the darkest of clouds. Ms KS is a very caring and considerate person, perhaps , however, sometimes to a fault. Although her chart is reasonably well-balanced elementally (i.e. there is a nice distribution of planets in the fire, water, air, and earth zodiac signs), Ms KS does have an imbalance of mutable planets, leaving her more than capable of ‘slip-sliding’ away from trouble, which of course is also the nature of Cancer the crab. 
    • The karmic question asked by the Sun in any chart is ‘who am I’ – both in this incarnation but also in respect to prior incarnations – this is not as easy a question to answer as you might think – remember that inscribed over the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi is the ancient Greek aphorism ‘know thyself ‘. Good advice for certain but before you can follow it you need to dig deeper into the very nature of the self that you wish to know. To learn more about this, you may wish to consult an informative book: Selfie: How we became so self-obsessed and what it doing to us by Will Storr. 
    • The karmic lesson of Sun in Cancer is to develop a healthy vulnerability in her relationships, especially with those whom she considers to be part of her ‘family’ or ‘tribe’. 
    • Add Jupiter to the mix, and this suggests past lives where MS KS had in ‘inflated’ sense of self-worth – haughty – and above her station. With the Sun/Jupiter conjunction in the 2nd house, there’s a suggestion that this is something with which Ms KS has grappled over many lifetimes and has for the most part come to grips with this and hence that knack for finding the silver lining in the darkest clouds is considered a karmic resource – none the less, there are suggestions (see below, for example, Moon in Capricorn) that this comes at quite a price. 
  • The Moon in Capricorn is in the karmic 8th house, although again a bit too wide of the mark to be considered in opposition to the Sun/Jupiter. 
    • Nonetheless, in this chart, the Sun and Moon are linked. The price for keeping a tendency for an inflated sense of self-worth in check comes with some deeply engrained – and highly unconscious – emotional patterns of thought and haviour of being cold and judgemental, a fortress of stone and an impenetrable heart. 
    • In the 8th house, this plays out in the way that Ms KS shares both herself and her personal resources with others – think Ebenezer Scrooge before his reformation. 
    • The 8th house is a highly karmic house suggesting many lifetimes of perfecting this way of relating to others. I figure that there is no such thing as good or bad in karma, but instead it’s about finding balance and so I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that Ms KS developed this fortress of stone/impenetrable heart in order to compensate for being too open to the judgement of others.
  • Mars in Gemini is square to Saturn/Chiron in Pisces across the 1st and 11th houses.
    • Mars in contact (in this case, by square, suggests a constant tension one tends to ignore until it blows up in his/her face) with Saturn suggests present life feelings of powerlessness/helplessness in the face of knowing that one needs to take action.
    • The suggestion is that in prior lives, Ms KS abused her personal will (through communication) and because the 1st /11th houses are involved, this was carried out as part of a group, in which she shared radical ideas/ideals.
    • There is also a suggestion that Ms KS may have given away her personal power for the ‘greater good’ of the group and as the result, fears (or is blocked) taking it back to use for herself.
    • In karmic astrology, Chiron symbolises the wound of the soul, and because he is found is the 11th house of Ms KS, the suggestion is that this occurred as being considered an ‘outsider’ or ‘outcast’. With Pisces involved, there is also a suggestion that the wound as to do with loss of one’s own contact with the divinity. When we chatted about this, Ms KS did say that as a young child, she resisted her parents attempts to make her attend Sunday School because it made her feel that she as if she were being ‘controlled’ by religious dogma. Healing with Chiron in the 11th house comes from the realisation that one size doesn’t fit all and what’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander. It seems that Ms KS is well on her way to healing her Chiron wound, which only makes sense as she ‘enjoyed’ her Chiron return back in 2018. 
  • In the 6th house, we have a Neptune conjunction with the South Node in Scorpio (the North Node being in the karmic 12th house in Taurus). 
    • Although that Neptune/South Node conjunction does not make an aspect with any of Ms KS’s personal planets, and hence is purely a generational marker, I consider it important because the nodal axis is involved and as we will see, it provides good clues as to what the types of karmic patterns that Ms KS has developed during past lives. 
    • Neptune is the planet of seduction and glamour as well as illusion and disillusion. The suggestion here is that in regard to healing (6th house), Ms KS may have been a charlatan, perhaps a courtier, who masted the art of indiscretion through flattery pretending to yield to his or her superiors in order to assert power over others in a most oblique and graceful way. 
    • As the South Node is involved, the suggestion here is that MS KS has honed this art – these skills – this craft of subtle, yet fascinating power games to achieve her own ends over many lives. This comes easily to her. she also has to work extra hard to be more truthful more direct and more grounded (North node and tourists). 
  • The generational signature of a close Pluto/Uranus conjunction in Virgo shows up in the 5th house of Ms KS. 
    • This symbolises a political vision which combines an urgent need to destroy old forms and attitudes in regard to ideologies quite possibly having to do with unjust wars (as was the case during this time at least in the United states with the Vietnam War). 
    • Although this generational signature does not tie to any of the personal planets of Ms KS (thus suggesting that this is not her personal karmic responsibility during this incarnation), it does raise the important question of why do we reincarnate in a particular time and place? I’m guessing that the answer to this has to do with that Neptune in Scorpio (in the six house , the House of Virgo closed parentheses the only other generational marker that strongly resonates in the chart of mis KS. Yet looking at her Draconic chart (which comes up next) this  urgent need to destroy old forms and attitudes was not really ever part of Ms KS’s karmic game.

Draconic Chart (Ms KS) – (outside ring)

  • Along with that natal Neptune/South Node conjunction, we now have the draconic Moon in Scorpio in the 6thhouse. 
    • Again, the Moon represents deeply engrained and largely unconscious behaviour and emotional patterns and karmically, functions very much like the South Node. This puts extra emphasis on Scorpio in prior lives and again in the 6th house.
    • Again the image of a con-man, a charlatan, perhaps even a courtier, who used subtle manipulation(Neptune) to take advantage over others. However tempting it is to suggest something along the lines of a psychic vampire or even a black magician, if that were the case, I’d expect to find Pluto (‘power over’ others) lurking around in a prominent position – and he’s just not there – in neither the natal nor in the draconic charts. With Neptune is involved, the power plays are accomplished not with guns but with smoke and mirrors – sleight of hand, fascination, and glamour. 
  • Interestingly, the Natal North Node in Taurus (where Ms KS is heading in this lifetime) is still right on top of that Sun/Jupiter conjunction – in the draconic chart, now in Taurus in in the natal 12th house, the most karmic house of them all. 
    • This suggests that in prior lives, Ms KS had plenty of Taurus energy but somehow lost touch with it and so in this lifetime, her goal is to gain it back. 
    • This might be going out a bit on a limb, but I have a feeling that because Saturn/Chiron in the draconic chart is now in Aquarius at the MC, or the top of the natal chart, this is all connected with that natal Saturn/Chiron in the 11th house – see above – re: in prior lives Ms KS abused her personal will (through communication) as a member of a group, in which she shared radical ideas/ideals.
    • If that were the case, then Ms KS did not do that alone. Her social status/career were tied up in a partnership, likely with a spouse (draconic MC sits on the cusp of the natal 7th house).
  • Finally, both the natal and draconic charts continue to point to communication in past lives as being the source of present life challenges. 
    • Again, the emphasis on amoral, gossipy, loose affiliation with the ‘truth’ Gemini is highlighted. In the draconic chart, Mercury now in Gemini is sitting right on the natal ASC – Ms KS’s window on the world in this incarnation. 
    • Again, the notion of a courtier who had to bow to the will of others and sing the party line – and bow to the will of others – in order to survive comes to mind. Yet with the draconic Venus in Aries, when it comes to love relationships, in prior lives Ms KS most certain got around – yet again, this fits in with the idea of a courtier, one whose challenge is both to be noticed as well as to be seen as a source of pleasure to others without getting too attached to anyone or anything except her next ‘challenge’.

Relationships

  • More often than not, we get an ever more detailed picture of someone’s karma through looking at the connections he/she makes with important others in the present incarnation. 
  • Often people come and go into our lives without making a huge impact. But we all know that some persons – regardless of the amount of time we’ve actually spent with them – make a huge and lasting impact on us and our lives. Especially when we choose to strengthen the bond either by marriage, partnership, or other close family relationship. 
  • Ms KS was especially interested to discover what she might have to learn from her relationship with her husband. The results actually were not so surprising:
    • The husband of Ms KS has a grand earth trine (Mars/Saturn/Venus)– and karmically these are gifts to be reclaimed during the current lifetime. Yet more often than not, trines can be the ‘slippery slope to hell’. The incarnating soul often responds to further development of these gifts with an attitude of ‘why bother’. The attitude suggested here (and confirmed by Ms KS) was one of a strong-willed person who demanded everything to be ‘his’ way whilst at the same time playing an unconscious script in his head of ‘I don’t deserve to be loved’.
    • The ‘why bother’ response is suggested by his Moon in Pisces in close conjunction with the North Node, which suggests that for him, the goal of this incarnation was to do with developing behaviours that would allow the sharing unconditional love with takin on the burdens of others/or paying the martyr. 
    • At the same time, he has a stellium of planets in Libra (Sun/Uranus/Mercury/Jupiter) which put the emphasis on finding balance in the essential dance of give/take in relationships. 
    • His draconic chart suggested he’d lived similar lives dealing with similar issues multiple times. 
  • Enter Ms KS – who because in synastry (comparison of his and her charts on a grid to see where they interact) her natal Saturn in Pisces is closely conjunct his Moon/North Node in Pisces has some karmic debt to repay to her husband from prior lifetimes. The composite chart (putting the two charts together to make one that symbolises the relationship a whole). Here we find the classic signature of the teacher/student karmic aspect and the sense that they both had something difficult to teach each other in his lifetime. 

This is the final post in this series on Karmic Astrology, so thank you for reading!

If you’re interested in learning more about how your prior lives (psychological and otherwise) impact your life now, book for an astrological coaching session now.


Karmic Astrology (11)

In prior posts, I’ve investigated several different ways of astrologically identifying your past and future karma using invaluable information gained by attending workshops/retreats lead by Judy Hall many years ago. We’ve looked at the Sun, Moon, nodal axis, and karmic relationships (through synastry). Now it’s time to look at a completely different significator of astrological karma, the Draconic chart.

A Different Kettle of Fish 

Like the Tropical zodiac (developed in ancient Greece) used by western astrologers and the Sidereal zodiac (older than the hills) used by eastern astrologers, the Draconic zodiac is a method of assigning the planets (and other important points) to one of the twelve zodiac signs.

  • The Sidereal zodiac lines the planets up against the fixed stars or constellations. 
  • The Tropical zodiac (now 28 degrees out of sync with the Sidereal) is a moving target. It lines 0 degrees Aries up with the vernal equinox which, because of the earth’s wobble on its axis, shifts ever so slightly each year.
  • The Draconic (Dragon) zodiac is a completely different kettle of fish. Although based on the tropical zodiac, it realigns all planetary placements in keeping with the north lunar node (the dragon’s head). It is the cosmic dance of the two lunar nodes which plots the predictable point at which the moon will cross and crisscross the ecliptic (or the apparent path of the sun through the sky). 

Traditionally, the lunar nodes are more spiritually inclined than the rest of the planets/points; the north lunar node heralds your future, your destiny, whilst the south lunar node symbolises your past, as well as what’s holding you back.

The upside of this is that whilst both the Tropical and Sidereal zodiacs rely completely on the Sun’s movements, the Draconic captures the cyclical waltz between the Moon and the Sun. It is for this reason that the Draconic zodiac is believed to capture the essence of a soul (or higher self) incarnating into the earth plane as well as documenting the karmic strengths and weaknesses through multiple incarnations (rather like the Akashic Records).

Destiny Calling

Where the tropical natal chart and the draconic charts intersect, there’s much information to be gained; in essence, this is destiny calling.

As you can see, the structure of the chart (natal chart on the inside and draconic, the outer wheel) remains the same but the planets and angles will have changed sign. In my Draconic chart, my Tropical Sun has shifted from Libra to Sagittarius. Indeed, although using the traditional western Tropical zodiac, my chart is primarily air (6 planets), using the Draconic zodiac, it is primarily fire (6 planets)- Leo and Sagittarius.

This suggests that once upon a time, I was spirited and full of trust in myself and my intuition but at some point in my karmic journey, I lost faith in myself and my direction, my connection with divinity (Draconic Chiron, the wound of the soul in the 9th house). As the result, I developed an obsequious tendency to give over to the needs and wants of others. In essence, this became ‘who I am’ (Draconic South Node in Libra conjunct my natal Sun in Libra). You might say that I sacrificed myself – my solar essence – to keep the peace. That probably isn’t far from wrong, from what I’ve experienced in this, my present, incarnation.

Nevertheless, a firm Leonine appreciation of ‘self’ and my personal creative spark is a unique karmic gift during this lifetime. This is shown by my natal Pluto in Leo close contact to my Draconic Jupiter in Leo – both in my natal 2nd house.

I might well have gotten carried away with a desire for power as the result of my learning and wisdom (all those draconic planets in Sagittarius in my natal 6th house of service and healing) and preserving my reputation as grounded and practical wise woman/healer (draconic MC in Taurus), but I have the opportunity in this lifetime to reclaim that gift.

Often these opportunities comes as the result of transits to the natal chart and I can only hope that when transmitting Pluto conjuncts my natal North Node at 29 Capricorn (mean node) in 2023, I’ll make serious progress on achieving the authority and respect that I’m meant to achieve during this lifetime.

As my draconic Pluto at 23 Libra is intimately connected with what I consider to be my communication karma (Mercury/Neptune/Saturn in Libra), I am hopeful that the Pluto transit to my natal North Node in 2023-2024 will finally see one of the novels that I’ve written published (i.e., I will be heard!).

Further, the reason that I started this series of blog posts on karmic astrology was because I was having some serious troubles with my karma (psychic attack – yes, WOW – look, I’d never have believed it either before this – but it actually did happen – even my husband and cat got the message something weird has been going ‘bump in the night’ for me for the last couple months – although the two dogs seem oblivious). I am trusting that karmic blockages holding back ‘being heard’ are now being cleared both by my own efforts and especially those of two very gift healers.

I’d hoped to be able to see this clearing of the blockage (as well as the reason/source of the attack) either my natal or draconic chart or both, but I haven’t.

Or, rather, let’s rephrase that – although years ago I had transiting Neptune square my natal Neptune (i.e. the life is one big soppy mess), I’m currently getting transiting Neptune square my draconic Neptune (in Sagittarius). OK, well, I did say that Neptune is the lynchpin in my communication karma – so who knows right? Life is again on big soppy – – psychic – mess – but on a completely different level – fingers crossed, handled correctly, Neptune can be immensely healing.

Time will tell.

(to be continued)