“I’m in an everything’s-unraveling-around-me season right now and, honestly, if I didn’t have astrology, I’d be such a train wreck. Just knowing the ultimate meaning of transits and what they’re here to accomplish in me at an inner level, and knowing that it all starts to wane by the end of 2019… is a lifesaver right now. I’m not sure where I read this, I think it was Elizabeth Gilbert quoting Rob Bell: he defined despair as “the feeling that tomorrow will be the same as today.” I’m not saying I’m there, but I surely would’ve been if I couldn’t see the end of it on an ephemeris. And while the end of 2019 seems far away right now, it also looks doable because I know (which is different from having faith) that this too shall pass. So, I’m choosing to focus all my energy on how grateful I am to have the knowledge of this richly textured, profoundly meaningful craft in my life right now; grateful that I wasn’t given a choice in this matter either; that the wand chooses the wizard. Because this wand… it’s everything.”
I wanted to begin with this excerpt from my Instagram stories from a few days back because I was in the throes of the Scorpio full moon when I wrote it (which is astrological shorthand for ‘the raw tone of the moment was not watered down by my usual defence of trying to make everything funny’), and it lucidly captures the core of every astrological consultation: the hunger for meaning. It also establishes that I, the astrologer, do not get to skip the ‘bad parts’ just because I see them coming.
Can astrology help you chart out your personal journey?
This brings me to psychological astrology; the synthesis of astrology and depth psychology—specifically, Jungian psychology (after the famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung). Astrology through a Jungian lens isn’t about warding off ‘malefic’ transits with gemstones and talismans, but about considering the natal chart—the snapshot of the sky at the precise moment of birth—as a map of the psyche, presenting a detailed picture of an individual’s conscious and unconscious wiring.
Engaging with the natal chart this way can provide invaluable insights on the whole person: temperament, defence mechanisms à la Freud, unconscious drives or shadow elements including parental complexes, personal myths, and on and on—I hope I’ve established by now that your sun sign is about two per cent of your natal chart!
But what does any of this have to do with the average person’s concerns, which are far more mundane? “I can’t seem to sustain interest in any job for more than six months, what do I do?” or “Why do I keep falling for people who are unavailable?” are just a few examples of these common worries. The short answer is, everything. The natal chart analysis can shed a tonne of light on recurring themes and patterns in our lives that are often painful—in relationships and otherwise—and how our own unconscious colludes with the outer world in creating these patterns. This is what Jung meant when he said, “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate.”
Translating the stars
This is not to say that there is no actual fate at work, and we can, by becoming conscious, control the cosmos. Of course not. But understanding the chart as the powerful diagnostic tool that it is, can go a long way in helping us get out of our own way.
In the psychological context, even predictive astrology (which is a broad term comprising techniques both ancient and modern) is not so much about “what’s going to happen” (as if one has no say at all in the unfolding narrative of one’s life), but “what is the meaning of this time?”
My role, then, is to act as a translator of the stars—helping my client understand the subjective experience, which may very well be unpleasant or even painful in the context of ‘teleology’ or the big picture meaning of that experience.
Because if you know that a transiting Pluto—the archetype of death and rebirth—is what’s hitting you right now, you can choose to consciously work with this cycle and what’s being asked of you (letting go, massive psychological transformation) to move on to the next stage of your personal hero’s quest, instead of being trapped in the hamster wheel of recurring psychological patterns. An astrologer can help you locate the effects of an astrological phenomenon on your natal chart and see how it fits the larger story.
For the sceptics…
In a time when there is widespread disenchantment with organised religion on the one hand, and a pervasive meaninglessness that one runs headlong into Netflix binges on the other, psychological astrology offers a middle path. The richly symbolic language of astrology feeds an innate, archetypal longing for ‘more’ in even hyper-rational individuals, while providing enough grounding and ‘legitimacy’ with the psychological approach.
As Ameya Nagarajan, a self-confessed rabid rationalist, sums it up, “The tragedy of rationalism and atheism is that whatever happens in your life, good or bad, is down to you, and you feel its weight even more because you believe you have control over the known world. When, in fact, you don’t. Astrology… made me feel like I could understand things even if I couldn’t control them, and I could work on myself to be less susceptible to the swings of life.”