When a girl or boy graduates from high school or college, a phase of life ends. During this phase the child — later, the adolescent — finds himself on the receiving end of his relationship to his family, community and, generally speaking, to society. He had not asked to be born into this family and society. He was born, weak and unable to make his own biological and psychological-mental adjustments to his environment. It was right, therefore, as well as necessary, that his family and society should attend to his needs, guide his growth and bring him as it were up to date on the evolutionary road of human progress.
When the youth reaches his twenties, it is usually taken for granted that he is biologically, psychologically and intellectually developed to the point where his relationship to society can reverse its polarity. He has received; now he is expected to give. His elders confront him and ask of him that he decide the nature of the contribution he can and is willing to make to the maintenance, the expansion or the transformation of his society.
There was a time, not far distant, when the youth actually had very little choice in making this decision. If a boy, he was expected to follow in the footsteps of his father and to begin his apprenticeship in the same profession, trade or occupation. If a girl, she was to marry a man whose class and way of life were more or less closely determined by her father's standing in the community and the size of the dowry he was able or willing to provide. In either case, there was a degree of flexibility in the determination by the parents of the manner in which the children would have to play their parts in society; yet, basically, the family tradition and the success of the father established the type or level of participation expected of the youth.
The only thing asked of the young man and woman was that they should discharge well the duties established by past examples and fulfill significantly and nobly the function in society which they had been led to assume, whatever it be.
In our days, especially in the United States, the situation facing the youth out of school or college is very different. There are cases, of course, in which the child is pressured into pursuing the same career as his father, into taking over the ancestral business; he may spontaneously and readily fit himself into the patterns which father or mother has built and which brought them success, at least of a sort.
Yet, basically, in modern life, the youth has a freedom of choice concerning what his or her life occupation shall be; within a particular profession, he or she can introduce a new approach, truly his or her own, different ways of doing things and other goals. Marriage not being a social compulsion, the girl can pursue a career or work in an office or factory; indeed, she very often is obliged by economic necessity to work for a living — and she must choose what she wants to do.
Where there is such an individual freedom of choice, new problems arise. How is this freedom to be used, and to what end? What does a job or career mean to me personally? What do I expect from it? What shall it give me, and — just as important — what shall I give to it; what am I willing, ready and able to give to it? What can I do best?
Back of these questions, there are still deeper ones which more or less insistently call for some kind of answer; above all: what is the meaning of my relationship to my community, my society, my culture? What is the value of what I have been taught in school and in church, of the example my parents presented to me, of my schoolmates and friends behavior? How much is it right for me to conform to what everybody calls normality? How much should I try — indeed, how much can I afford to try to be myself — an individual — with a "relatively unique temperament or destiny and relatively original ideals?
It is not easy for the youth to answer these questions. As a result, many protect themselves by not asking them! They look in books at some official list of occupations, at how much these pay, what advantages they offer, what special training they require. The boy or girl gradually eliminates many possibilities; if he cannot make up his mind as to the rest, he may go to an expert in vocational guidance and submit to intelligence tests, aptitude tests, personality tests, hoping to be given an objective and scientific answer as to what he is best fitted to do, what is most likely to bring him success and happiness.
Such testing procedures are, in essence, analytical; they may help to eliminate various fields of activity which require definite aptitudes (physical, intellectual or psychological) which the youth lacks. They do not usually seek to bring the youth face to face with the central question: What should my purpose be in selecting my life work?
To make enough money to have a comfortable home, keep up a family in fine style and to become a respected member of the community — these are what one could call the normal purposes of the socially well-adjusted boy. The same type of ideal, with differences of function, would be normal for the well-adjusted girl, eager to be a mother and have a lovely home.
In following these patterns of social normality, the youth acts on the basis of a collective consciousness and of collective ideals — very much as did the young men and women who had no freedom of choice in their professional or conjugal lives. But the modern youth has freedom; freedom means, whether one likes it or not, responsibility for the choice — responsibility for the use to which this freedom is put, for the purpose directing the way it is used.
The responsibility may be rejected, and no real attempt may be made to discover a truly individual purpose guiding one's selection of his life work. Then the line of least resistance is followed and freedom becomes bondage — bondage to an attitude of passive acceptance or of violent rejection of the example given by the parents, the relatives, the friends; bondage to one's emotional reactions to experiences in the home or the school; bondage to one's psychological make-up.
The modern youth seems to be free to select the profession he or she wants; but what does the selecting? Is it the true self of the young man or woman or the complexes which have been built through years of disturbed childhood and confused adolescence? Does he select a career just because his father had one diametrically opposite, because "Mom knows best" or because of a sense of inferiority or unconscious guilt, perhaps as a punishment or an escape, as a release for an overaggressive attempt to compensate for some deeply felt inferiority or to forget some basic childhood hurt?
Psychological tests may help to answer such crucial questions — crucial inasmuch as they may determine whether the whole life will be colored by inner frustration and unhappiness or will produce truly fulfilling experiences. Yet the usual tests alone cannot do much in many cases unless they are accompanied by a long and deep process of psychological re-education also, a costly one, beyond the financial capacity of the average person. Can astrology give answers which would be more easily available, more simple, yet reaching deeper to the core of the problem?
I would hesitate to say enthusiastically yes to this last question, knowing fully how extremely difficult it is for even a psychologically minded and efficient astrologer to give real and basic help to a person faced with the problem of selecting an occupation. Nevertheless, there are points of very great importance that the astrologer could clarify for his client, basic issues of a psychological and spiritual character which the study of the person's birth-chart can help to decide effectively, provided a rather new approach is taken to the whole matter of vocational guidance through astrology.
The central issue is that when a man or woman decides upon a life work he or she should be choosing the means by which what he or she is, as an individual, can be demonstrated and made effective. The part an individual assumes in the vast system of activities of society establishes the field in which he should be able to prove himself and his worth. Every person must, in some fashion, give this proof, the proof of works — "By your fruits you shall be judged." Where can he give it most satisfactorily?
Roles of the Various Houses
In astrology what the individual is, in a relatively unique and original manner, can be seen by considering the ascendant and first house of his birth-chart, erected for the exact time and place of his first breath (his first act of independent existence). The ascendant, however, refers to the potentiality of being — the as yet unrealized, unexpressed, unfocused character of the individual-to-be. This potentiality then becomes concrete actuality through the gradual building of a definite personality. The heredity (second house) and the environmental influences (third house) provide the infant with materials (physical, psychic and mental which become absorbed, assimilated and incorporated in the field of experience of the fourth house (the place where personality is built, the home, the root foundations).
In the seventh house, a person having tried to express himself spontaneously and to release the extra energies not needed merely for maintaining his body (fifth house), having been bruised and hurt and having tried to learn better (sixth house) enters into the field of human association with a more or less conscious or steady readiness to cooperate with others. Association, cooperation, partnership mean essentially activity in common. In the seventh house the individual learns to adjust his activity so that it fits with that of other people, adding something to the others' actions and receiving in return.
In the eight and ninth houses the individual becomes more deeply and vitally concerned with and involved in common forms of activity. He learns from precedents or rejects them, perhaps with immature emotional excitement. He studies the laws or customs regulating all social intercourse; he expands his understanding of the varieties of human temperament by studying history, philosophy, by traveling. As a result of all this, he "comes of age" (at least theoretically) and is, or should be, ready to prove himself by contributing to his society and to the human race.
What the youth should contribute to his society is what he essentially is. Every newborn is a new element that humanity needs. If as a grown individual the person fulfills his true nature, he thereby solves his own problems and meets also the need of his society, the need which he should meet — for every man is born when and where he needs to be born for his own soul growth and, as well, when and where he is needed. The basic question to answer is, therefore: What is my true nature; what is the truth of my individual being?
Everyone is born to live the truth one is. Alas, often one finds oneself, as one is born, surrounded by social lies and personal fallacies. He is made to mold his mind after obsolete social patterns, to polarize his feelings in response to parents, teachers and older playmates who may have failed to demonstrate their own truths as individuals. The adolescent becomes confused and cannot see or sense what he is and what he is born for. Not realizing what he is, he does not know either what is his real contribution to society. In his doubt and confusion he tries to decide what to do by conforming to some average standard of normality.
One may be a success in the world. People may think he has contributed much to his society. But if his life comes to feel increasingly empty, it may well be that he has not contributed what he was meant to contribute; he has not contributed his truth.
Seen from such a point of view, the problem of finding one's life work takes on a twofold aspect. First, the youth should discover what he is; then he should try to find a field of public or professional activity in which he can best make his own characteristic contribution to society.
The best place may not mean the easiest! The best profession or occupation is the one in which he will have experiences which will stimulate him most to be his true self and to give of his true self.
If it is your characteristic contribution to bring spiritual light to people, you may well do so most effectively in very dark social conditions. If you are meant to stir, rouse into action, take the initiative, break old patterns, the best place to do so is likely to be where there is inertia, senseless conformity to routine behavior or worship of traditional cultural patterns.
In attempting to help a person to discover his or her true vocation, the astrologer will find in this person's birth-chart indications which refer not so much to a particular professional activity, but rather to a basic nature of the contribution which the person could make effectively in almost any profession. What counts is the type of experiences which the profession provides, not the profession as a thing in itself. What matters essentially is not the job, the place, the exact type of work you engage in, but what you can contribute to people and to the job out of your own personality and in a (relatively) unique way.
For instance, you have Libra on your birth-chart's midheaven, the essential character of the contribution which you can make to your society is one which deals with values, particularly with group values. This Libra type and Venus type of contribution can be made obviously in the field of culture because culture is based on a certain set of values which are defined and applied, directly or symbolically directly through social and group behavior; symbolically through the fine arts. But the sense of value is not limited to the cultural field. It is needed in every realm of social and personal activity. Libra refers to the establishment of significant groupings of human beings — thus, to all associations which have a significant purpose in terms of human, national, spiritual unfoldment. If you have Libra at the midheaven, you may realize your vocation in organizing groups in any professional field, in bringing more value, more beauty, more harmony to any place in which you work. You do not need to be an artist or a beauty parlor operator or a fashion designer.
There are several types of astrological indications which can be and have been used in vocational guidance; but anyone using them should realize at the start that in our modern society, there is practically no hard and fast line separating one profession from another; that the job you hold does not, in most cases, classify you irrevocably as one type of human being; that manual work can be as respected as intellectual accomplishment and basketball coaches in colleges make as much money as and are often better known than the college presidents.
Moreover, changing one's occupation is a most common occurrence; a we are not tied down to a single job. But the person is irrevocably what he is. He brings himself to any job, any career. The problem is not so much at first one of discovering a one's abilities as of finding out what one is ready and emotionally free to do with one's abilities.
The Midheaven of Your Chart
The individuality of the self is shown astrologically at the ascendant; therefore, a study of the ascendant and of the planets in the first house is a most important factor in real vocational guidance. Nevertheless, it still remains true that the zodiacal sign at the cusp of the tenth house (midheaven) indicates, together with the planetary ruler of the sign, what your essential contribution to society basically is. The way in which you should demonstrate your true self and the power of your true self is shown especially by the planet ruling the midheaven sign. The house of your natal chart in which this planet is located should tell where (that is, in what field of experience) your essential contribution to society can best be made, at least under normal circumstances.
For instance, if you have Libra at the midheaven and Venus in the fourth house, your home, considered as a field of activity, should be an excellent place to demonstrate your sense of value, your culture, your ability to bring harmony and beauty to others. If you are an artist or writer the indication is then that you should work in your home rather than in a public office. In a more spiritual sense, it means also that you should build within your own personality this sense of proportion, of value, of harmony.
An interplay between your public life (symbolized by the tenth house) and your private life (fourth house) should be in this case your goal. You should dare to express publicly and professionally your true "I am" (the Venus symbol) — and, in a more superficial sense, your emotional experiences. On the other hand, the spontaneous contribution you made to society in your work or in your group contacts with people should become the very material you can use in your own personal development. You will grow by giving out what emerges from the depths or center of your personality.
In astrological practice much importance is also given to a planet (or planets) located in the natal tenth house. In my opinion, however, such a planet should not be considered as indicating any particular occupation or profession, but only the kind of experiences the individual is likely to meet in any profession he or she may have.
For instance, Mars in the tenth house will not necessarily make of you a military man, an ironworker or a surgeon, that is, it will not lead you necessarily to a Martian profession. But in whatever profession you are engaged, you can expect to have to use your Mars function — your power of initiative, your emotional energy. You will be called upon to lead, perhaps to open new paths; you should throw yourself completely and in a very personal, intimate way into what you are doing. If you find yourself following a conventional path with no desire for initiative or direct action, if you fear being personally involved in your activities as a participant in some public or professional function or cause, then you should know that you are not living up to what God (or life) expects of you. You are blocked by some complex or parental influence which you should try to understand and face courageously.
If it is Jupiter which is located in your tenth house, you should know that it is natural for you to be called upon, in however small a way, to accept some responsibility for or in a group. If you refuse to identify yourself with a social position or an image of authority and to use the power and prestige of it for whatever you feel to be constructive, then you cannot expect to live your life fully and without a sense of frustration.
If, Saturn being placed in your tenth house, you scatter your interests and seek ambitiously to expand "all over the map" instead of bringing your experiences in your public or professional life to a clear and steady focus of expression, then you may be headed for a fall — or at least you will not avoid the depressing feeling that you have failed in your God-appointed life task.