Astrology

Crisis & Collapse / 2020

Last night, I had a horrible dream: I was sitting in my living room watching as (for no apparent reason) the wall of the house next door crumbled and collapsed.


This metaphor aptly depicts what we might soon expect from a series of planetary onslaughts across the bow of the Capricorn/Cancer axis.

To understand what this means, first remember that Capricorn is ruled by Saturn and Cancer by the Moon. Thus we can expect the cold, hard reality of material events (Saturn) to seriously disrupt our domestic and emotional security (Moon) as follows:

10 January – Lunar Eclipse

With every eclipse something ends and something begins but whilst solar eclipses tend to offer new opportunities, lunar eclipses tend to bring final endings. Because this eclipse (where the shadow of the earth blots out the light of the Moon) occurs on the Capricorn/Cancer axis, we can expect a shadow of some sort to fall across the promise of continued domestic/emotional security.

11 January – Uranus turns Direct

Now comes the turning point – although the proverbial writing may have been the proverbial wall for some time in regards to an upcoming change we can no longer ignore it.

12 January – Saturn/Pluto Conjunction

A seriously powerful planetary line-up in Capricorn (Saturn/Pluto/Sun/Mercury/Jupiter) assures us a crisis of significant magnitude to catch and hold everyone’s attention. The status quo explodes and as a consequence, we are forced to take action, like it or not.

The last time Saturn/Pluto were conjunction in Capricorn was 1518, when the world witnessed the start the Protestant Reformation and the end of the Catholic Church’s stranglehold on political and religious power.

The planetary line-up in 2020 is eerily similar to that of 1518.

During this period, we can expect nothing less than the total and utter structural (Saturn) collapse and death and rebirth (Pluto) of some status quo that will play heavy on our minds (Mercury).

Because of the nature of Saturn and Pluto in combination, this will not be pretty.

Add the Sun to this planetary line-up, and we can expect this crisis to bring about a sober AWAKENING – a mature, realistic understanding that something we’ve taken for granted has come to the bitter end.

17 January – Last Quarter Moon

The Moon in Libra reactivates the Saturn/Pluto conjunction of five days ago. The last quarter Moon is always a trying time – a test – a judgement of how well we’ve dealt with that which has come before. Expect more drama, disruption, and hard choices.

21 June – Solar Eclipse / Summer Solstice

Just minutes after the summer solstice, when the Sun enters the zodiac sign of Cancer, there is another solar eclipse. We’re looking at new chapter in the story that started in January re: crisis and collapse. What’s being offered here and will we take it?

5 July – Lunar Eclipse

By this time, the Jupiter and Pluto conjunction, which has been plodding along in the background since April, will have come center stage. At last, we might expect our story to be approaching some kind of resolution.

But before getting too optimistic (Jupiter), remember that the Jupiter/Pluto cycle is associated with political power struggles arising from excessive beliefs and optimism, i.e. fundamentalism and terrorism. Likewise, we might expect some death/rebirth (Pluto) regarding Jupiter-inspired things like the legal system or governmental rules and regulations.

29 September – Saturn turns Direct

Back in January, Saturn and Pluto formed that conjunction in Capricorn, one that reminds us of that formed in January 1518.

In April, Saturn moved out of Capricorn and into Aquarius, thus alleviating some of the pressure. But, unfortunately, it’s not over yet. In May, Saturn turned retrograde and started reversing back into Capricorn throughout the entire summer reigniting the crisis experienced earlier in the year.

Finally, at long last, Saturn turns direct moves definitively away from that January conjunction. Whilst it is true that Saturn’s 2020 conjunction with Pluto has set off a new cycle that will take approximately 33 years to unfold in its entirety, at least we now have some breathing space to reflect upon what has happened and adjust our lives in keeping with it.


In regards to my horrible dream, the wall (Saturn) of my neighbor’s house (Moon) may have collapsed (Pluto) in January but the dust didn’t start to settle until the end of the summer. Towards the end of 2020, my unfortunate neighbor will finally learns if he or she is can rebuild or need to relocate.

Astrology

When the ‘sun is spent’…

One of the perennial philosophies asserts that only in eternity (i.e. God, Plato’s forms, Aristotelian essences) can constancy be found. All else is subject to mutability, change as the result of time.

In Book Eleven of his Confessions, St Augustine questioned time in relation to God (the stable Truth) and His creation of the temporal world. He concluded that time – past, present and future – could be nothing more than a conscious act of human representation.

Whether or not this is true, I suggest that at least in his secular poetry, John Donne, the metaphysical English Renaissance poet, shrewdly manipulates his representations of time in order to explore ideas about constancy and mutability in new and thought-provoking ways.

One of the most interesting, at least for this time of the year, comes with his poem A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, in which Donne uses the winter solstice to help his speaker come to grips with a difficult situation.

Someone important to the speaker, likely a lover or former lover (suggested by the speaker’s address to ‘other lovers’), has died.

It is indeed a dark time.

Yet the cycle of death is now complete – ‘this time to the Goat is run’ – (i.e. at the winter solstice, the sun enters Capricorn, ‘The Goat’, in order to die and be reborn). Because ‘spring’ is connected through rhyme with ‘thing’ (‘I am every dead thing’), there is hope of regeneration not only for the sun but for the speaker as well. In turn, this will ‘fetch new lust’ (the goat being associated with the genitals and the union of male and female powers).

The desolate speaker takes solace from the next (‘summer’) solstice – ‘let me prepare towards her’ (emphasis added) for after ‘midnight’ comes the new day.


With this, Donne has effectively reset the clock and put the difficult situation into new perspective and with similar reflection, you can do the same.


With Saturn and Pluto coming ever closer form their historic conjunction in Capricorn in mid January 2020, we can expect this solstice to be both a time of crisis and contraction. On so many levels, it spells the end of innocence, the end of an era that as with the speaker in Donne’s poem, we have little choice but to face with honesty and humility. Just as St Augustine reminds us, all in our temporal, material wold is subject to change as the result of time.

Yet as with Donne’s poem, this solstice offers the opportunity of true transcendence and healing if, and only if, we choose it to be.

Intention matters.


‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,
Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
         The sun is spent, and now his flasks
         Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
                The world’s whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compar’d with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
         For I am every dead thing,
         In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
                For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death: things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
         I, by Love’s limbec, am the grave
         Of all that’s nothing. Oft a flood
                Have we two wept, and so
Drown’d the whole world, us two; oft did we grow
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
         Were I a man, that I were one
         I needs must know; I should prefer,
                If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, all some properties invest;
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light and body must be here.

But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
         At this time to the Goat is run
         To fetch new lust, and give it you,
                Enjoy your summer all;
Since she enjoys her long night’s festival,
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year’s, and the day’s deep midnight is.

A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, being the shortest day – John Donne

Astrology

Karmic Dilemmas


Today, I attended a fab networking event for the ladies and the question was raised about karma.


Whether you believe that karma is about actual past lives or something more along the lines of what your higher self (or soul) wants to work on during this lifetime, this is my take on a few astrological considerations.


General shape of the natal chart – here, we are looking for empty spaces (i.e. quadrants or hemispheres rather than single houses). Energy ‘flow’ in the chart is important to pinpoint blockages as well as overcompensations.

I have absolutely nothing in the 3rd quadrant, which governs my personal development through relationships, socialisation and intellect. I’ve been married twice and have far too many university degrees. Overcompensation? You can bet on it.


Chiron – is also a big karmic factor and guess what, he’s conjunct my 7th house cusp! Is he telling me that I’ve suffered prior ‘wounds’ in relationship that had to do with balancing my own needs and that of the ‘other’? If so, then not surprisingly does this often manifest as the typical Libra refrain (I have 4 planets in Libra) – ‘I’ll do anything for you to stay in the relationship’. The karmic lesson here involves learning to love myself so that I’m not so dependent on the love from my ‘significant other’.


Element balance and imbalance – here, we are looking for (1) no and/or (2) four or more planets in either fire, earth, air, or water. Again, we’re looking for overcompensation and fixations. I have lots of air but no water in my chart and I often dream of water, not of drowning but of being constantly flooded. Water represents emotions. I don’t deal well with emotions. Put air and water together and you have rain storms. Too many of those at once and there’s flooding.


Moon and the South node –  here, we are looking for deeply instinctual patterns, something that I’ve done over and over before and so keep doing because it is so easy. My Moon is in the 12th house, the most karmic of the houses. This definitely has to do with ‘mother-stuff’ (I spent years on ‘mother’ in my therapy – and I do mean years) and of course emotions. Or rather, it has to doing with being ‘detached’ from my emotions because otherwise it causes too much personal pain with which I cannot deal. Don’t be surprised to learn that my South Node is in Cancer. This is something that I’ve done gazillions of times before.

Doesn’t this tie in a bit too nicely with my lack of ‘water’ and recurrent ‘mother issues’?


What does your chart say about your karma?

Astrology

Dreamland

Have you had a dream that you just can’t forget?


It isn’t just who did what to whom but more the underlying tone of feeling expressed; anxiety, anger, panic, confusion.


The whole thing just doesn’t make sense and it’s queer – queer enough to hold your attention and queer enough to make you a bit nervous about going to bed at night.

We experience all sorts of dreams informing a variety of different subjects. We’re led to believe that this is the way we process that which happened during the day and in many regards, that’s probably true. But according to Liz Greene, the Jungian analysts, at the base of each and every dream is something churning away in our psyche that is trying to break through into consciousness.

In this respect, dreams are the answers to the questions that we didn’t realise that we needed to ask. Questions that are well documented in our birth charts by aspects and connections about which we’d rather not know. Most of the time, the dream fades away and we forget about it. But when the time is ripe (by transit or progression) these dreams make themselves known is such a way that they no longer can be ignored. 

Some time ago, I had a dream that still haunts me today. I had inherited a flat in New York City from my parents, a flat that I’d never even known that they’d had. Even though I had a key, I had trouble finding the door. When finally I was in, I discovered that the flat had been empty for some time. I was amazed, however, that there were so light and sunny rooms to explore.

Could I live here?


At the time, transiting Uranus was making a trine to all of my planets in Libra in my 4thhouse, symbolising my ‘home’. With help from my therapist, I came to understand that I have what I call the ‘Henry James’ syndrome.  Most of his novels explore themes where naïve Americans go back to their European ‘roots’ to obtain the education and polish they believe they didn’t get in their native land.

But eventually (like Henry James himself), they must come to terms with their roots or risking aimlessly wandering like the little boy who refused to grow up, Peter Pan.


As I’m still living in Europe and haven’t been back to the United States in almost 16 years, I’d hazard a guess that I’m still doing my Peter Pan. Little wonder this dream won’t leave me alone. Now I’ve got another set of transits (Pluto in Capricorn) that may force the issue.

Stay tuned.

This story is not yet finished.

Astrology

The name of the game is shame?

I don’t know about you, but I often worry about whether by taking poor decisions, I might be making myself bad karma. Mind you, I’m not even certain what karma is, much less how it might work but I’ve always been told that ‘what goes around does come around’ and for the most part, that seems to be true.

Yet, is comeuppance guaranteed? I mean, considering all that’s happening in the world of politics at the moment, I really do have to wonder. Might it be that some folks are so blessed that they can do whatever they want without consequence? 

Regardless, I opt for sensible guidelines and given that Saturn and Pluto are together dancing their jig in Capricorn, I’ll take my lead from them and so ‘shame’ will be the name of my ethical game.


Rather than thinking of shame as a punishment, as we are often wont to do, I figure shame keeps us from doing things that the person that we want to be ought not to do. In this context, shame is not a painful conclusion but a joyous opportunity.


For Buddhists, shame is the frontline defence against inappropriate actions. Such action not only produces negative karma (locking you into the painful cycle of rebirth) but also leads to difficult rebirths.

Even non-Buddhists find inappropriate actions to be trouble.  Folks tend to get annoyed when one steals, murders, and cheats.  Likewise, they shy away from those who frequently lose their temper and fail to honour their commitments.  Indeed, during the course of a single day, you are confronted with a whole host of activities that someone considers inappropriate. If you wished to comply with all of them, you might as well just stay home.


In reality, we cannot always abide by an external set of rules when deciding what we should or should not do.


Yet assuming that you do want to be ethical, then what standard might you use? I suggest using your own ‘sense of shame’.

Astrology

The art of the mini-holiday

Monday is governed by the Moon and astrologically, the Moon is about emotions. It only makes sense that if we want Monday morning to go well as we’re returning back to work from the weekend, that we’ll need to pay closer attention to getting our emotions in balance.

Recent research suggests that we can do just that by treating our weekends like a mini-holiday or vacation. Even better, research suggests this can be accomplished by a change in mindset rather than by rushing off spending precious time and money on travel.

The idea is simply that you go into the weekend instructing yourself to treat it as a holiday rather than a ‘regular weekend’. This does not mean you completely neglect household chores but that you spend a little less time on them than usual. It also means that you’ll need to resist spending time catching up upon ‘work’ stuff that didn’t get finished earlier.


Stay in bed a little bit longer with your partner and eat a bit more, treating yourself to, say, a favourite breakfast. 


Mindset shifts such as these have a powerful effect.

Research shows that by slowing down and paying more attention to the particular activity at hand and the people sharing it with you, allows everyone to take more pleasure. Get creative; listen to your favourite music whilst running errands or sip a margarita whilst folding the laundry. Even if you can’t afford to take the entire weekend ‘off’ , you can still carve out a piece of the weekend to be fully in the moment, savouring a fun activity. 


Mind you, this approach is not for every weekend because if it were, then by becoming the new ‘regular weekend’, it would lose much of its therapeutic value. But when used judiciously, this simple reframing technique allows you to make more of your time off without a huge investment.

coaching

The Art of Persuasion

For success in any meeting or information exchange, the following four steps are essential:

gain their confidence and they’re putty in your hands…
  1. Build trust and rapport with your audience and thus set the scene to your advantage.
    • The quickest and easiest way to build rapport is to assume that you already have it.
    • Simply imagine that the persons with whom you’re speaking are very dear and close old friends. As the result, your body language and attitude will change subtly and without overtly trying, you’ll make your audience feel comfortable and at ease.
    • Smile and make eye contact in a non-threatening and confident manner.
    • The more confidence you inspire in your audience, the more willing they are to respond positively to your suggestions.
  2. Fix the desired outcome for the meeting firmly in your own mind.
    • Be very clear regard exactly what behaviour you desire from the others as the result of the meeting – i.e. sign here, go there, or simply, accept this or agree with me.
    • Ensure that everything you say do during the meeting is aimed at bringing them to that final result (see below for ideas) and then ensure you overtly ask them to do whatever it is that you want them to do.
  3. During the course of the meeting deliver at least one hook or incentive designed to appeal to each attendee.
    • Although you may not know much about your attendees, you have statistics and astrology on your side. Each person must fall into one of the 12 zodiac signs – cover them all – at least briefly – in your delivery:
      1. Aries – appeal to her need to take action now.
      2. Taurus – appeal to her need for simple, practical solutions.
      3. Gemini – appeal to her natural curiosity. 
      4. Cancer – appeal to her need to feel safe and secure.
      5. Leo – appeal to her need to take centre stage.
      6. Virgo – appeal to her need to get it done and done right.
      7. Libra – appeal to her need to maintain harmony.
      8. Scorpio – appeal to her need to get to the bottom of things.
      9. Sagittarius – appeal to her need for exploration and personal adventure.
      10. Capricorn – appeal to her need to earn responsibility and respect.
      11. Aquarius – appeal to her need to challenge the status quo.
      12. Pisces – appeal to her need to help someone.
  4. Carefully choose the words you will deliver – keeping in mind the benefits of the following techniques
    • Develop YES sets – get them on a roll with answering a series of simple questions with a ‘yes’ and chances are they’ll keep rolling on in the affirmative.
    • Anticipation Loops – keep them paying close attention through the entire meeting by delivering only partial explanations with a promise to explain more fully, later.
    • Agreement Frames – everyone feels better when others agree with them – so meet any objections with the following – ‘I agree with you and (not but) I add this…’.
    • Awareness Patterns – innocuous little words like NOTICE, REALISE, EXPERIENCE, SEE, and AWARE are all great for slipping in ideas under the radar. For example, ‘’I’m certain that you realise that our numbers aren’t great this quarter and that means some redundancies.” If they question anything here, it’s more likely to be either (1) whether they did realise the numbers weren’t great or (2) whether in actual fact – the numbers weren’t great. This leaves them much more likely to accept (as a given) whatever comes after that, i.e. your main aim – redundancies.

coaching

The Art of Communication

Communication is an artform; it’s also a two-way street. 

But before you even open your mouth, do yourself a favour and pay attention to the person you’re about to address and gain some crucial insight into how he or she processes information. 

We can each process only 5-9 chunks or nuggets of information at a time and so we use ‘meta-programs’, or unconscious filters, to ‘select’ them from the shower of stimuli we constantly receive. These patterns run behind the scenes in our brains. They are so automatic that we usually don’t even realise they’re there. But they are there. So, if your favoured ‘meta-program’ differs from that of the person to whom you’re about to speak, you’ll want to adapt your communication style.

match your meta program to theirs for best results

Research suggests that there are six basic ‘meta- programs’ that most of us use to varying degrees. Here’s how best to approach them:

  • First decide your own patterns and preferences.
  • Next advance to the person with whom you are desirous to communicate and test them out.
  •  If you meet with enthusiastic nods, you’re on the right path but if you get a stern-faced response or anxious questions, try something else. 
  • This approach works equally well at work, at home, and with friends/neighbours/acquaintances.
  • The focus is always on having whatever it is that you wish to convey enjoying a good reception and being understood.

The Six Metaprograms

  1. General/Specific– this pattern controls how much information should be given and how best to be deliver it.
    • People running with a ‘general’ program, are likely to respond well to a conceptual overview but people running with ‘specific’, need lots of details so they can build their own view up step-by-step.
    • Research shows that about 60% of people are ‘general’ whilst only 15% are ‘specific’. This leaves about 25% responding equally to both.
    • To discern which you’re dealing with, ask the person about a  project or hobby with which he’s currently engaged. A response with lots of detail (he said/she said, I feel, they did), provided in specific steps with plenty of adverbs and adjectives tossed in, suggests he/she operates on the ‘specific’ program. Alternatively, someone operating on the ‘general’ program will probably give you a brief, comprehensive overview and/or summary often presented in short sentences delivered in random order.
    • Beware that context matters. Even someone usually operating on the ‘general’ pattern will, from time to time, need details.
    • Equally, you can tell much from someone’s written communication – emails, for example. If their usual style is to keep it short and sweet, then match it and do the same. If not, adjust your own electronic missives accordingly.
  2. Proactive/ Reactive– this pattern deals with how best to channel energy during the communication.
    • Some people are more inclined to initiate things than others – and so when you’re dealing with a ‘proactive person’, you need to always be pushing forward. These folks do not like delays and want to get started at once.
    • By comparison, a ‘reactive’ person wants to consider all the options/implications of situation presented to him/her before doing anything. These folks are great at research/analysis as well as fire-fighting and problem-solving.
    • 60-65% of people have a mix.
    • Spot the ‘reactive’ person by his or her ability to sit for long periods of time. Also, he or she will tend to use long, incomplete, and convoluted sentences. They will use passive verbs and conditional words like should/could/would/might.
    • Give the ‘reactive person’ plenty of time to think – if you push, they will not respond well. Use the alternative strategy for the ‘proactive’ types who are ready to get started right away. 
  3. Toward/Away-From– this pattern is key when trying to motivate someone to do something.
    • People take action primarily for one of two reasons – they want to move ‘toward’ something (like a target or goal) or they want to move ‘away from’ something (escape).
    • The ‘away-from’ folks are problem solvers – they look for potential problems and thus can avert crises.
    • The ‘toward people’ tend to be self-starters – give then a goal and they’re on it.
    • Each of these polarities tends to judge the other poorly – ‘away-from’ people think that ‘toward’ people are naïve or sloppy because they don’t see potential problems and the ‘toward’ people think their opposite is negative or cynical.
    • A few questions will help you to tell the difference – when asked what is important to them and why, they’ll reveal their type in their answers – do they want to succeed or not to fail.
    • About 40% of people are ‘toward’ and 40% are ‘away-from’. This leaves a grey area of about 20% in between.
    • To motivate the ‘toward’ people, use words like – get – attain – achieve – accomplish – advantage – obtain.
    • For the ‘away-from’ people, use words like – fix – avoid – prevent – wrong – solution – remove
  4. Sameness/ Differencethis pattern is key when it comes to selling change especially in a fast-paced environment.
    • Those with pure ‘sameness’ (5%) feel comfortable in a highly stable and unchanging environment – consistency their mantra.
    • The ‘difference’ folks (about 20%) thrive on change and love to switch jobs frequently as well as reinventing and reorganising their environment/organisation.
    • About 65% of people are ‘sameness’ with allowance for some minor changes/improvement that are more evolutionary than revolutionary. Some of these folks (10%) can tolerate even more difference as long a major change doesn’t happen too frequently – every 3-4 years is good for them.
    • To tell where someone sits on this spectrum, ask them what is the relationship between something important (for example, their job) between last year and this year and then listen carefully:
      • the ‘sameness’ person will tend to focus on things that haven’t changed – although he may toss in a few difference and make comparisons like more – less – improved – better – fewer.
      • The ‘difference’ person will point out all that is new and different and may even be surprised you asked the question.
      • Other people will mix and match the differences and those things unchanged – listen to their emphasis and their assessment of both sides of the equation.
    • When explaining to people about ‘change’ – adapt your weighting of ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’ according to their preferences.
    • Choose words ranging from – as usual – similar – better – identical – improved – revolutionized – upgraded – more – fewer
  5. Options/ Proceduresthis is about how one tackles his/her work – do they rely on the tried and tested approach or look for new, improved alternatives.
    • ‘Options’ folks (40%) like choice and variety – and are great for deciding how something should be done but not necessarily doing it themselves. New projects are started with zest but following through to finish is less predictable.
    • ‘Procedures’ folks  (40%)  believe there is a ‘right’ way to do something – start with point A and move through these procedures to get to point B. Too many choices are not helpful. 
    • About 20% of people are a mix.
    • The ‘options’ folks says things like  I can or I could whilst the procedures folk say I must or I should.
    • To influence the ‘options’ folks use words like – possibilities – choice  – play it by ear – options  – break the rules – variety.
    • To influence the ‘procedures’ folk, use words like – right – tried and tested – first, second, and then (this or that).
  6. Internal/ Eternalthis is about giving/receiving feedback  – there is an optimum approach and amount.
    • ‘Internal’ folks tend to believe they’ve done a good job regardless of what others think. Their own judgement of their work (measured against their own standards) is what matters most.
    • Give these folks much space as possible to make their own decisions and when that is not possible, negotiate the standards to be used for measuring in advance. Generally, these folks don’t want feedback and when they get it, they tend to ignore it.
    • For ‘internal’ folks, a set of advance instructions is informational only.  Use words like – you may wish to consider – only you can decide – here’s a suggestion – up to you – what do you think?  
    • By contrast, ‘external’ folks love lots of feedback – they need to know on a fairly consistent basis ‘how they are doing’. Use words like – I’ve noticed – word in the street is – statistics show – opinion is

Alchemy

The Daemon of Carl Jung

In Plato’s Republic(The Myth of Ur), souls cue up to choose their next life and are assigned a daemon – an overseer for that life. In classic astrology, daemon could be determined using one’s natal chart and as the result, it was incumbent upon the individual to establish contact with (or invoke) his or her daemon. In many respects, this was exactly what Jung was doing whilst writing and illustrating the Red Book, which he considered to the ‘prima materia’ for his life’s work.

Daemon can be understood as fate – but not fate in the sense that it comes from outside us. Instead, daemon is our personal unconscious pushing through the creative impulse to encourage us to accomplish that which we are meant to do. Naturally, you may choose to reject or ignore Daemon (or your fate) but there is a price to be paid. Equally, following Daemon (either eagerly or begrudgingly) does not guarantee you an easy ride.

Carl Jung had Aquarius rising. This means that Saturn, the ruler of Aquarius was his daemon, or at least it was in his eyes although not all astrologers (classical or modern) might agree.

When it comes to daemon, it isn’t so much that Saturn the planet was running the show but instead the symbolism surrounding Saturn. According to the 3rd century Neo-Platonist, Iamblichus, symbols are the footprints of the gods, wondrous tokens sent down from above. In this sense, a symbol can never be a man-made design. Symbols pre-exist and hence carry energy that exerts power over us not unlike Jung’s archetypes.

Jung

Jung believed it was vital that he understand his daemon – no, more than that – he was determined to establish a personal relationship with his daemon and it is highly likely this was accomplished through magical ritual.

To that end, the Red Book, Jung communicates with several different Saturnian figures (Elijah, The Old Scholar, The Anchorite, The Librarian, and the Professor) that culminate with Philemon (whose name, Jung always wrote in Greek, most probably for magical reasons).

Several key points are of significant interest regarding these Saturnian figures and as ought to be expected in many respects they are all deeply paradoxical.

  • The Saturnian figures in Red Book are all associated with rocks and stones – imperishable – belonging to and of the earth – present in the beginning of time on earth and presumably present at the end. It is not surprising that this stone/rock motif comes up often in Jung’s writings. He had been fascinated with them since youth.
  • Jung’s Saturnian images are all old men – SENEX – they are also thinkers –seekers of wisdom (as opposed to knowledge). Philosophers. They are magicians, too. This is in keeping with the writings of Marsilio Ficino, a 15thcentury Italian scholar who appears to have heavily influenced Jung’s work.
  • All Jung’s Saturnian images are recluses and sad. These are in keeping with traditional associations with Saturn.
  • Several of Jung’s Saturnian images are associated with religion and more specifically, religious experience. Not all of them are complimentary or supportive of religion. Indeed, Philemon is always shown as lame and this might well be suggesting a connection with the devil. Philemon, after all, did always have a serpent hanging around.
  • Philemon was also connected with Mercury, the hermetic figure and the philosopher stone. Hermes Trismegistus, who controlled both the sun and the moon was semi-divine and he is, in essential ways, very much like Philemon (who was also a magician – possessing his own grimoire). This highlights the importance of the ancient art of alchemy. Saturn is lead, the metal of transformation and redemption.

In The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus, Dr Liz Greene suggests that because Philemon drew together Saturnian ideas and images from a number of ancient disciplines and cosmologies, he allowed Jung to build a workable bridge between the pagan and Christian aspects of his own world view.

Those  of us who are interested in similarly understanding the complexity of our own daemon, or chosen ‘fate’, might be well-advised to perform similar invocations and explorations. Dr Greene reminds us that during that difficult period in Jung’s life, his work with Philemon and predecessors gave Jung a connecting thread of meaning that helped him to understand his situation. Likewise, we may also turn to our daemons for help when things get tough.

Never forget, however, that working with daemons is not for the faint of heart. Jung’s daughter reported that things ‘went bump in the dark’ in the house when Jung was working with Philemon – things that we might well call supernatural.

coaching

The Benefits of Magical Thinking

21 million Americans suffer from Paraskevidekatriaphobia or fear of Friday the 13th. Yet, according to a 2008 Dutch study, Friday the 13th is statistically safer than other Fridays because people either choose to stay at home or those that do venture out, take more care than usual.     

13Yesterday, I was privileged to attend a lecture at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum entitled The Natural Origins of Supernatural Thinking given by Professor Bruce Hood (Bristol University). Hood provided curious anecdotes such as that cited above in a very matter of fact way. As an experimental psychologist specialising in developmental cognitive neuroscience, his major research interests include discovering the cognitive processes behind adult magical thinking.

According to Hood, we humans are pretty much hard-wired to develop beliefs as a way to make sense of our world and these beliefs carry with them manifest consequences. We’re also hard-wired to impose structure and order in our lives by developing certain rituals around those beliefs (touch on wood) and one of the most intriguing involves what Hood calls sympathetic magic – or the belief in naturally occurring correspondences (or sympathies) between things such as food, colours, animals, gem stones, fabrics, plants, and days of the week. Imagine two violins. Sympathetic vibration occurs when two strings are tune to the same pitch. When one is plucked, the other sings out ‘in sympathy’.

The implications of Hood’s work for coaching are two-fold:

1.    When someone believes that she cannot do XYZ, then at least until she changes her belief, she probably can’t do. Likewise, if she believes that she can do ABC, then, it’s a pretty good bet that she will. One of the primary goals of coaching is to eliminate (or strengthen) such beliefs as needed and this is why a good coach focuses less on asking ‘why’ than ‘what’. For example, if I ask my client ‘why’ she feels so terrible, then in answering, she is only reinforcing her negative beliefs about herself. But in answering the question ‘what’ situations make her feel terrible and what do they share in common, she has a genuine opportunity to examine the origin and triggers of her beliefs.

2.    Let’s face it, change is hard work. If it weren’t then New Year resolutions would stand a better chance of success. But if my client creates a ritual or talisman that can rely upon in times of stress to remind her of the changes she’s chosen to make, she’s in a stronger position. Even better, if her chosen rituals and talismans are in line with long-accepted sympathies, she might accomplish even more. For example, if she has an important meeting or interview set for Thursday, she might tap into the ‘luck’ traditionally associated with Jupiter, the planetary ruler of Thursday. Choosing to wear a royal blue dress or suit or maybe a piece of lapis lazuli, turquoise, or amethyst jewellery reminds her of this ‘luck and who knows but that this might give her little extra boost.

Certainly Professor Hood would not be surprised if it did.

In his book Supersense: From Superstition to Religion – The Brain Science of Belief, Professor Hood reminds us that Tony Blair always wore the same pair of shoes when answering Prime Minister’s Questions and that John McEnroe notoriously refused to step on the white lines of the tennis court between points. He also reminds us that President Barack Obama played a game of basketball the morning of his victory in the Iowa primary and continued the ‘tradition’ the day of every following primary.

Let’s face it, most are us are more into magical thinking than we might like to admit and according to both Hood and those Dutch researchers, this is probably not such a bad thing.

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