Art by Andy Kehoe - https://www.andykehoe.art/
Confusion, depression, restlessness, a sense of futility and lack of direction. Stagnation or hyperactivity, fear…The list of these all too common states of mind and feeling can go on and on. We all experience them - each in our own private way – hidden or exposed. And it seems like today more than ever before, we seek to put order in the chaos of our personal struggles, or at least try to make some sense of how we fit as individuals in the big picture of the world around.
The circumstances we were born in, our family and specific culture, still try to impose a set of rules and expectation on who we should be or what we should do with our lives - to define the concepts of success and happiness for us and expect conformity. And until fairly recently, hardly could anyone dare not to conform without facing the fate of becoming an outsider.
Yet, cultural frameworks and universal recipes are less and less convincing to modern men and women who are drawn towards self-realization and individuation. They no longer seem to work, at least not for everyone. ‘Find a well-paid job, buy a house, have children and you will be happy!’ Not necessarily. Your journey may be focused on so many different roles in so many different areas of life. What about personal vocation, for example? This certainly doesn´t mean the same thing for everybody. For some it’s a specific career, for others – a kind of service to the community or participation in a group cause. Yet for others, it is the development and expression of a skill or talent. And in some cases, equally valuable, vocation lies in homemaking and the raising of children. There can be as many options as there are people on this planet. And that’s what’s confusing.
Approaching from such a philosophical angle the day-to-day issues and demands of the stressful and competitive times we live in may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Digging deep in search for answers to pressing personal problems can be scary and too impractical for most people who are looking for quick resolutions and concrete recipes to alleviate their emotional pain. Anything that helps simply keep them functional and in constant motion. Anything that ensures efficient action, but does not demand change. Why over-complicate things when they are already complicated enough?! Because oversimplification can be even more destructive in the long run…
So, in our search for inner balance and fulfillment, a realization starts to emerge - that an individual path is to be sought. One that calls for self-discovery and deeper knowledge of our individual make-up. It also means a renewed sense of relatedness to everything that surrounds us, so we can find our place in the ‘big play of life’. Something that will make us see more clearly what our individual role in that play is, without confusing it with somebody else’s. A starting point for forming a strategy and vision.
The study of astrology, and the personal birth chart in particular, can be a way to orient ourselves in the mess of clashing inner moods, complex human relationships and the very common tendency to sabotage ourselves by adopting lifestyle practices that are completely incompatible with our own nature. It is only one of a myriad of possible ways. But to me, astrology is the most comprehensive, all-encompassing and person-specific tool for psychological analysis.
Astrology is a symbolical language and for those who explore it, it opens up a world far beyond superficial and inaccurate newspaper Sun sign columns. But despite its revived popularity in recent decades, its reputation is still controversial and it is often associated with fortune telling and dubious occult practices. It still remains largely unknown and misunderstood. And not surprisingly, considering the existence of many unscrupulous individuals who claim to be able to ‘tell your future’ through astrology or are quick to pass moral judgement and dub character traits as good or bad based on what they ‘see’ in the natal chart. Some succeed in satisfying people’s curiosity, as we are all hungry for any information which can clarify our life choices and give us some direction. The more specific the instruction, the better.
Trouble is, predictions often get realized not because of some predefined ‘fate’ the astrologer has been able to spot in the chart, but merely as self-fulfilled prophesies. ‘Saturn transits your 7th house this year and it means your marriage is going to break up’, you’ve been told. The marriage may possibly end, but that was only one of many available scenarios revolving around relationship issues which the chart reflects. Yet, believing in that one in particular when someone readily pointed it out is the strongest factor behind its actualization.
It is not my purpose here to defend astrology or convince anyone to believe in it. I can only urge whoever is interested in the matter to do their own research and make up their own mind – without prejudice. Personally, I am yet to meet someone who would at the same time know anything about the subject and refute its immense value.
So, what is a birth chart and how can it be helpful in practice?
The astrological birth chart is simply a map of the Sky at the time and place of birth. It is a piece of astronomical data. A register of where all planets in our Solar System were placed on their path around the Sun at that particular moment and from our point of view here on Earth. It is a still image of the giant clock of the Universe where everything is in constant motion. At any time, all elements in it form a unique pattern of relationship to one another and that pattern becomes the personal fingerprint or the musical score of whatever is born at that moment. A couple of example birth charts:
It is basically assumed that we are all integral parts of a large cosmic organism, a big whole made of smaller wholes, but all related in a way similar to how the head, heart, stomach, arms and legs relate to the body. So, the motion of the planets in the sky is said to affect human beings not because planets exert some magical power influencing our actions, but simply because we are mini models of exactly the same thing they represent. When something is born, a new cycle begins which is in synchrony with the state of the Universe at that moment. Our personal clocks are set at the time of birth and from that point, they follow an individual path.
Astrology cannot say what is going to happen to you, but it can help map out in time the moments of critical turning points in your lifetime. Properly read, these can provide specific tips on where our potential is concentrated and how best to play out our cards. Every one of us has a specific set of qualities and the task is to use and develop as many of them as we can, keeping as closely to the instructions of our individual code as possible. Knowing what they are places a compass in our hands which helps navigate through the vast sea of available options we can choose from. Still, it is a matter of free will whether or not we decide to stick to the instruction manual.
There is nothing positive or negative in a birth chart and no chart is better or more evolved than another. They are all neutral, but all factors in them are inter- related and should be interpreted as a whole picture. Natal astrology deals mainly with three pieces of information which make up the birth chart – the planets, the Zodiac signs and the astrological houses. These can be illustrated as a theatrical performance.
On a circular scene divided in sections similar to pizza slices, a complex play unfolds. The scene itself is the territory of the chart where all acts happen. In every separate part of it (each of the 12 houses), something different is the center of attention – family, education, health, relationships, career etc. Planets are the actors in the play. They represent psychological functions we all have – Mercury is the mind, the Moon stands for our emotions, Mars – the physical energy, Venus - our value system and so on. Depending on which houses planets occupy in the chart we get to see where the dramas of our lives happen. And the 12 signs of the Zodiac are symbolical names of the 12 distinct costume styles our actors wear. Aries, Scorpio or Aquarius carry qualities which build character and indicate what hidden agenda our actors will be motivated by and what means they will use to play their specific role. The scene is set, actors dressed up in position and engaged in a complex dialogue which would last a life time.
And we are only just scratching the surface…
Radilina Shanova, February 2018