In this issue, Ryuji Kagami invites us to constellate, Maggie Hyde calls inthe law, Graeme Tobyn travels far and goes nowhere, and David Bird fancies Mr Combustable.
Although it is not as fashionable as before to say so in the astrological community, I must admit that I am a 'psychological' astrologer. In recent years we have seen a rapid revival in traditional and classical astrology. As Maggie Hyde says in her remarkable book "Jung and Astrology", most modern psychological astrology has lost astrology's beautiful Saturnine structure and frame of reference, and so reading Lilly and other historical astrologers is a great experience. I thank Olivia Barclay, Robert Hand, and many other revivalists of our own time for this.
However, I still feel I am a 'psychological' astrologer. This is not because I use a Jungian model of the psyche approach to astrology, but because, if we look closely at the word 'psychology' itself, we will realise that it is meaningless to take a stand for or against psychological astrology.
I have seen the arguments against psychological astrology, suggesting that it reduces astrology to a vague, subjective, within-skin phenomena. It is also suggested that because astrology can predict apparently concrete and objective events, the psychological approach is far less powerful than traditional astrology. This seems a convincing argument, but the matter is not so simple. Any 'event' is an event, which is, or will be, experienced by someone. If there is no one who tells the story, how do we recognise it as an event? If there is no astrologer who casts the chart, how can astrology work? We always participate in the event. This is the point that Geoffrey Cornelius makes when he discusses the difference between astrology as divination and the 'machine of destiny' approach.
We experience all events through our psyche. This is the soul's function. To borrow James Hillman's words: "soul refers to the deepening of events into experiences". But here we have to be careful. Soul is not personal. It is not like a little person living in our head. Rather, soul encloses us. We are in soul, rather than soul being in us.
I have found James Hillman's description of soul to be very helpful in understanding astrology and reconciling its two camps, the psychological and the traditional. Hillman often criticises modern psychology and his attack on academic psychology and psychotherapy is sometimes similar to the attack on psychological astrology made by traditional astrologers. In short, according to Hillman, modern psychotherapy reduces experience to the humanistic and the personal. Yet if we go back to the ancient roots of psychology, that is, to the logos of the soul, we cannot reduce the psyche to the personal. Hillman's approach seeks to re-discover soul, true psychology. He uses Keats' word for this move - "soul-making". To see things from the viewpoint of soul, not subjectively or objectively, is the soul-making process. Hillman's major work on this theme is "Re-Visioning Psychology". This impressive book discusses soul and soul-making and consists of four main chapters, each one discussing one aspect of soul's activity. These four aspects are the most important functions of soul, and Hillman refers to them as Personifying, Pathologizing, Psychologizing and Dehumanizing.
Now it seems to me that we can see all of these four functions in our own astrological work. First, personifying. The soul personifies. It sees the world as a person, or finds everywhere living entities with their own logic and will. And in astrology, of course, we encounter planetary gods. When Hillman suggests, "we can describe the psyche as a polycentric realm of nonverbal, nonspacial images" and "we are imaging the psyche's structure to be an inscape of personified images", we are easily reminded of horoscopes.
Next, he talks about pathologizing. The soul pathologizes. Soul manifests as illness, fear, agony. When do we look at charts? Is it not when we have problems? So we often find pathologized planets in charts. This reminds me of Jung's words, "the Gods became sick!" Hillman's third function, psychologizing, does not mean reducing everything to psychological jargon. On the contrary, it is looking at things in terms other than those in which they are apparently presented. It is 'seeing through' from the point of view of soul. Is this not astrology itself? We see the apparent phenomena but we refer to charts, and look at an event from a different angle, looking through the surface and finding planetary symbolism. Finally, we come to de-humanizing. This is the process of seeing the soul as not our own. Soul is not mine, and this evokes a sense of fate, and of cosmic meanings.
I cannot do justice in this brief article to Hillman's complex ideas, so I suggest you read his text yourself, but I hope I have been able to give you some sense of what he is saying. In short, for Hillman and archetypal psychology, psychology is NOT just talking about psychological types, personal history, playing with jargon, talking about traumas and so on. Rather, it is the process of seeing the world from a different perspective, from the point of view of soul. Hillman calls this 'psychologizing' and I believe we need a similar word to describe our astrological practice, our 'astrologizing'. Taking a lead from Jung, I will call this process 'constellating'. When we look at a chart, we see through the event or problem and find astrological symbolism. Whether it is an external event or an inner feeling does not matter. Often these two cannot be distinguished. A symbol unites, and does not allow a distinction between these dual realms. As astrologers, we see the world through the stars and, I believe, such constellating adds a vivid sense to our life-experiences.
Ryuji Kagami (Akihiro) is one of the most eminent and popular astrologers in Japan. He appears regularly in the media and writes various sun-sign columns, as well as academic books and articles. He holds a Masters Degree in Comparative Culture and Jungian Studies, and is one of the people responsible for introducing psychological astrology into Japan. He has translated many books into Japanese, including Liz Greene's 'Relating', Maggie Hyde's 'Jung and Astrology', and James Hillman's 'The Soul's Code' and 'Force of Character'. He is a council member of the Japan Transpersonal Association.
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