The Practice of Astrology at the Transpersonal Level - 1
In order clearly to understand and practice what a few years ago I began to call "transpersonal astrology", an astrologer should fully realize what it is not. It is not classical European astrology, based on the approach formulated in Alexandria by Ptolemy and later by Roman and Medieval writers. It is not popular fortune-telling. It is not what is now known as esoteric astrology, and it does not deal with what is considered to be a "soul chart", nor is it Uranian astrology or cosmobiology. Though it is based on the holistic and psychological foundations characterizing the "humanistic" or "person-centered" type of astrology I first formulated in The Astrology of Personality, a strictly transpersonal approach to astrology has a different orientation and gives to the astrologer-client relationship a rather unprecedented character. It interprets astrological data in terms of a new set of values.
Transpersonal astrology addresses itself specifically to human beings whose problems and expectations derive from the fact that they are (or consider themselves to be) not only autonomous, self-motivated "individuals", but individuals who realize that mere satisfaction — the growth and fulfillment of their individuality at a strictly personal and social or cultural level — is not an end in itself. They see in such personal fulfillment and happiness, at best a phase, in a transformative process that should lead to a higher and more inclusive level of consciousness and activity, a "spiritual" state.
Such individuals constitute only a small minority in relation to the masses of mankind, but because our society is now passing through a state of crisis with a potential of either global disaster or radical transformation, the number of individuals who are aspiring to a really new and at least relatively transcendent state of being is steadily increasing. These individuals are experiencing a profound dissatisfaction with present-day conditions not only of living, but of thinking and feeling. They do not want merely to grow bigger and better as personalities, but to become transformed into a new type of human, or an even more-than-human being. They therefore do not find deeply satisfying or especially inspiring and transformative answers in either the now-popular forms of psychology and quasi-psychotherapy represented by humanistic psychologists and the various forms taken by the human potential movement, or in the broadly psychological type of astrology which merely describes their character and how they should handle their conflicts or opportunities for growth at a purely personal level — a kind of growth that would mainly make them feel happier, more confident, and better able to function at home and in various social situations.
As I have stated at the close of the last chapter, an individual today more than ever before may be faced by the need to choose between fulfillment as a social person within the collective framework of his or her culture and radical transformation. What is usually called "growth" leads only to a more or less individualized form of fulfillment that does not deeply challenge the collective assumptions of the culture and the way of life of society, or at least of one's peer-group or social class. This kind of growth may modify the character and personality of a human being; it may have extremely valuable results at the psychological level, or even extend the field of consciousness through the blending of several cultures and their approaches to self-development. But as long as the position of the "I-center" in the personality remains secure unchallenged, growth is personal not transpersonal.
An individual solely, or even primarily, intent upon a personal kind of happiness and fulfillment — what he or she may wish to call "the integration of personality" — should seek advice and guidance from a person-centered type of astrological interpretation. Such an interpretation is basic, and even an astrologer employing a definitely transpersonal approach has always to keep it in the background.
Both the process of personal growth and the process of transpersonal transformation start from the same place: where the client "is" (or stands). They both have to begin with what he or she congenitally, socially, and individually is, and especially from what his or her mind is able to understand. But from the transpersonal point of view, whatever state of life the individual has reached, and whatever he or she possesses (psychologically speaking), are there to be used in the best manner possible to fuel the fire of transformation. On the other hand, in a person-centered type of astrology, all this personal material is considered as a field of more or less undeveloped substance to be refined and interrelated, usually according to the prevailing sociocultural model or plan, in the building of a smoothly operating, loveable, and successful personality.
In both cases, the natal chart provides the fundamental data that have to be considered, but after these data are understood, the focus of attention of the two types of astrologers changes. The person-centered, humanistic astrologer thinks of how best to help the harmonious development of the birth-potential along sociocultural lines; the transpersonal astrologer, tries to evoke (for the individual eager for self-transcendence), the possibility of using every opportunity, every tension, every crisis as means to gradually overcome the inertia of his or her past, of social and mental habits and prejudices and, above all, the resistance of the "I" to changes that would undermine its centralizing and controlling authority.
While in a person-centered type of interpretation, the process of change is given the basic meaning of the actualization of the innate potentialities defined by the birth-chart, and every progression is seen as an opportunity for growth — easy or difficult as it may be — a transpersonal interpretation considers every step on the road as a particular way of preparing for a radically transformative change. At the individual level of consciousness and activity, self-actualization refers to the fulfillment of what a "seed" sown in the past contains in potentiality. But, from a transpersonal point of view, what takes place during the progress of growth of an infant into adult has in youth the purpose of allowing the past (karma, whether "good" or "bad") to exhaust its as yet unspent energy, so that after maturity and midlife, the individualized consciousness and will may freely and safely repolarize themselves and use every opportunity for self-transformation and a future seed-mutation.
The ordinary person thinks he or she looks to the future while striving to actualize and fulfill his or her personality in terms of the goals publicized by society and culture; but what is actualized is a prolongation, and in most instances only a superficially modified repetition, of the genetic and sociocultural past. We have to choose between allegiance to a past we seek to fulfill in our own personal way, and consecration to what for us, as mature human beings, is a possible future state — the transindividual state. Once such a choice is made, every astrological aspect is interpreted as an opportunity for transformation on the way to the "star".
Such a transpersonal interpretation of astrological data is in most cases significant and called for only after an individual has reached at least relative maturity. Yet we are today increasingly confronted by children and teenagers (some quite rebellious) who are sensitive to the possibility of radical transformation — even if it is only a naively formulated dream. The old ancestral seed has lost much of its power; the old karma may soon exhaust itself, and this leads to a deep, poignant feeling of emptiness whose cause and meaning are not understood. Then a transpersonal approach can be of great value, if it is adequately and sensitively presented.
The momentum, memory, and attractive power of the ancestral past and the old karmic patterns usually linger on for a long, long time, even when the vision of future possibilities has startled the consciousness, only perhaps to be discounted or laughed at by the mind. Then too can a transpersonal astrological and psychological interpretation be an important factor, for it can help the client gradually to reinterpret all the events of his or her past. By giving a new and transformative meaning to past events — especially past traumas, frustrations, and psychic injuries — the past is actually changed. It is transpersonalized. Every tragic occurrence may be consciously understood as a necessary step in the process that may eventually lead to the transindividual state.
The astrologer has first to be able to use such a transpersonal approach, but it should evident that he or she has also to answer to his or her satisfaction a crucial and determining question: is the client ready — has he or she the will and, even more than merely the desire, indeed the ability to deal with his or her problems in a transpersonal manner?
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1980; by Dane Rudhyar
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