I want to talk about my journey through different ways of doing astrology, because I think it parallels some of where astrology may fruitfully go in the future.
Modern or psychological astrology was born partly as a reaction against an older, fate-based approach in which the planets and stars are forces outside of us, and astrology tells of us of the events that happen to us largely outside of our control.
That view has its limitations.
In modern psychological astrology all of the features of the chart are inside the individual, and the purpose of astrology is to analyze the different parts of the psyche. You try to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
In the latter part of the 20th century this merged with a largely New Thought approach that talks of viewing everything in the chart as positive, and that you can make of your life whatever you will, with enough effort and positive thinking.
That view also has its limitations.
I was first drawn to traditional astrology around 4 or 5 years ago. I was increasingly disappointed with what I saw as the shallowness and vagueness of much of modern astrology. I felt that it left out a lot of dimensions of life, especially where things happen to us outside of our control.
So, I immersed myself in the practice of just traditional astrology for around 3 years. I eliminated the modern outer planets and asteroids, went back to Whole Sign houses, and worked at interpreting charts in terms of external events and actual outer circumstances. In this system the chart is not inside of me. Rather, it is a map of the world I inhabit, and much of the chart describes external circumstances and events in my life.
That greatly enriched and deepened my practice of astrology. However, I feel like I am now starting to bump up against the limitations of that approach.
A study group I am in recently did a reading for a person who had a really difficult chart, and had dealt with a lot of really hard and abusive situations affecting her and her family. The reading picked up on that. However, this person had grown greatly through the experience, and had a certain solid centeredness and inner strength.
Psychological growth had happened, but I could see nothing in the traditional techniques that let me see that growth. We change through the years in response to life events, and I needed to include techniques that focused on inner growth and evolution.
So, along with profections and primary directions, which are primarily event techniques, I needed to add in secondary progressions, which seem to focus on inner growth.
So, now I am back to including modern astrology techniques in my work. I have added back the outer planets, along with numerous asteroids and the trans-neptunian planets of the Uranian school. I’m experimenting with dials and midpoints, multiple house systems, and other perspectives or windows into the chart.
I still use the core traditional techniques, and they serve as the skeleton or basic structure of the chart. I start with them and return to them to keep a sense of proportion.
So I now do psychological astrology also. However, my approach to that has changed and deepened.
Yes, the chart describes something inside of me, but it is not just inside of me. Along with describing external events, there is a sense in which we are open to a larger psychic reality within us. Even describing my ‘inner’ order, it is a larger order that I am part of, rather than an order that I contain. There is an ‘outsideness’ even to my insideness.
I think that is where traditional and modern approaches to astrology can fruitfully converge. Push the psychological approach far enough and you get to a point where Outside and Inside converge. I view a larger order that I am part of and participate in. External events and internal movement in my consciousness are equally part of that order. In that approach, the chart is not inside me, I am inside the chart.
In traditional astrology the planets started out as gods external to us. In modern astrology they became ‘just’ psychological forces. Now, for me, the planets are again gods, forces larger than me and outside of my control, that manifest both within me and outside of me.
For me, traditional and modern approaches to astrology are not opposed. They are different approaches to a larger order that includes both dimensions. Astrology has gotten much larger, weirder and more wonderful.