June 02nd, 2015

Create Your Own Archetype and Call It: You


“We are stardust, we are golden.” — Joni Mitchell

Your wife just gave birth to a baby boy. You’re sanctioned a father now. And all of the experiences that accompany fatherhood await you.

You are a woman who just turned 68, and with this new chronological phase arrives an array of feelings and sensations. Your wisdom continues to develop but you pause now, to consider your options: To share your knowledge with others or live a quieter life of solitude.

Viewed from the archetypal realm, the new dad will soon be channeling the archetype of The Father. And the older woman is now ready to embody the archetype of The Crone or The Wise Old Woman.

But what does any of this mean?

As I’m typing this right now, I don’t feel the archetype of The Writer possessing my mind and my fingers on the keyboard. It’s just me, enjoying the process of sleuthing syntax and feeling a dull ache in the low of my back.

Another question.

Can’t the two individuals mentioned above have their own unique life experiences without the depersonalizing intervention of an archetype?

Yes, they can. And they do. And archetypes need not be involved.

Archetypes are not literal structures that, once evoked, descend and encapsulate us within Platonic bell jars. But this is the conjecture that spurs everything that’s been written about, expounded upon and woven into the world of modern astrology.

Why are we hypnotized by archetypes?

My theory goes like this: In an attempt to explain the human predicament — the big questions about ‘who we are’, ‘what we are about’, ‘where we are going’ — we’ve cut ourselves in two and crawled up into our heads: The conceptual realm of the archetypes.

By abandoning a full-bodied experience of reality, we feel safer from life’s unpredictable and impermanent nature. Human bodies (and lives) have a short run. Archetypes are forever.

Many Annoying Questions

What do those archetypal dimensions have to do with the you that is sitting here, right now, reading this sentence? The you that is a unique phenomenon, the you that there is only one of, and will only ever be one of within this particular moment within the time/space continuum — and future moments too.

If you abandon the archetypal scaffolding (and as astrologers many of us have been cornered into this conceptual framework for decades), you’re left to fend for yourself. The rawness and freshness of your being becomes the ‘lens’ that life is viewed through.

What if your style of being a father is completely revolutionary to the category of ‘being a father? What if you bring to the ‘father-child’ relationship a way of being that has never been documented? Is an inspiration to other fathers in-the-making?

Why must we be cut off from our ‘is-ness’ and have our lives circulated through something that is essentially an imaginary, lifeless concept? This makes no sense. Worse, for astrologers, it generates a force field of nonsense that hovers around the sensitive relationship between the astrologer and her client.

If, as an astrologer, I can not communicate with my client without employing archetypes, then I have cut us both off from the human experience of engaging in an inquiry that is present-based, vital and alive.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

The planet Mars’ bio-field does not filter through an archetype before registering within the flow of a client’s life experience. Mars exists, the planet is real, it is a life form unto itself. |

So when I am working with a client and we are discussing the themes related to the planet Mars, I want to know how she experiences this particular aspect of her nature. What is her relationship to the qualities that, heretofore, astrologers have assigned to the planet Mars? Not the Mars archetype, but the planet — the being, the angel or cosmic entity — that is Mars as the planetary body exists in real time within the living field of present-time reality.

Planets are living beings, not chunks of dead rock floating around the Sun. If I’ve no living relationship to Mars within my own life experience how can I possibly discuss the Martian experience with my client? Read more

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December 17th, 2014

A Mystical View of the Christmas Tree

An Astroinquiry Favorite
from December 2009

I’ve always put up a Christmas tree. Despite the halfhearted participation (and groaning) of my boyfriends, I’ve faithfully, right after Thanksgiving, headed out and bought (or here on Vashon, cut down) a tree to lug home. It’s a ritual I rarely miss.

After visiting India some years ago I returned home in the winter and the notion of putting a bauble-laden tree on display felt absurd. This is a rite of passage for anyone who ventures to India: Your brain cells are rearranged and you never view your world, or its customs, the same. I know that was true for me as a Westerner. Christmas in America, after the dust and squalor of India, felt gluttonous. So I skipped the holidays that year — though I missed having a tree in the house.

I enjoy the act of arranging the colors, textures and lights on a tree. It’s similar to making a painting, the alchemy of conjuring art. Simpler, but no less magical. I especially love the ricochetting of light amidst the ornaments, as it envelops the tree at nighttime. As I’ve grown older I’ve come to understand that the ritual of displaying a tree is a sacred act — although I’ve never fully understood why.

Most of us are familiar with the historical origins of the Christmas tree. Its association with the pagan rite of celebrating the solstice. When the light of the Sun ‘returns’ in the Northern hemisphere and begins its increase and ascent, the radiance grows stronger and longer through the ensuing months. Trees would be displayed to honor the burgeoning of light and life. And the fruits and trinkets that would decorate the tree honored the bounty, the wish of a successful harvest in the year to come.

And yet the historical perspective never impressed me much. I mean, none of those facts would drift through my mind as I’d lounge on the couch in the evening — no matter my age — and stare at the tree until I fell asleep. Nope, another set of mysterious associations would encircle me and send me into a reverie. And it wasn’t until I came to the conclusion of one of my favorite books this year that I began to make sense of my devotion.

Martha Heyneman‘s book The Breathing Cathedral is a fantastic interweaving of the cosmologies of Gurdjieff, Dante, Aquinas, Stephen Hawking and others, into a new model, a new interpretation of the universe we inhabit. I was drawn to the book because, as a longtime student of Gurdjieff’s teachings, I was intrigued to see how Heyneman, a zoology student turned poet, was bringing Gurdjieff’s teachings forward and marrying them to the world of science.

The last chapter of her book is titled O Christmas Tree, and at first the subject — the family Christmas tree — seemed an odd way to summarize all that she’d explored in the previous chapters. But in the end I understood completely. Read more

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May 11th, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day Moms


My mom turns 85 this year. And she is still a raucous, vibrant, glinting gem. It’s interesting to me that when I hear her voice on the phone she sounds like she is in her 40s.

I’m grateful that both of us lived this long to move into a phase of our relationship that is so relaxed and friendly. (I think 30 plus years of counseling, therapy and spiritual practice — on my end –might have helped with that).

Too, it’s peculiar how as I age I seem to be catching up to my mom. Like the time gap is closing, the parent child matrix falling apart.

Gurdjieff once noted that we don’t really understand or can know what it feels like to be truly alone in life until our mother has passed; and more and more I sense the truth in this sentiment. Which fuels more of my gratitude.

To all the moms out there. Thank you!

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April 21st, 2014

Gurdjieff’s Solar/Lunar Dychotomy


To simply consider the Full Moon invites Luna directly into your head.

The evolutionary process has burrowed her image deep into our cerebral cortex. We can’t escape her colossal, fat roundness — pushing out the boundaries of our inner vision.

The Sun radiates and sustains whereas the Moon reflects and craves, as Martha Heyneman writes, always the Moon “…is tugging at everything on her side of the surface of the earth. She sucks on the very rocks. As she passes overhead the earth’s crust rises a few inches beneath her and is elsewhere compressed, kneaded as a cat kneads your stomach.”

Astrologically we associate the Moon with Mother, but is that correspondence correct? According to the Russian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff the Earth and the Moon are in a kind of symbiotic relationship with one another. As he explained to P.D. Ouspensky, as recounted in the book In Search of the Miraculous: “The moon is a huge living being feeding upon all that lives and grows on earth. The moon could not not exist without organic life on earth, any more than organic life on earth could exist without the moon.” Gurdjieff describes the Moon as a planet-in-the-making that depends on vital forces generated by life on Earth to continue her process of ‘warming’. The Moon’s evolution. This is a very different understanding from what Western astrology teaches us.

Why do we often feel anxious during the Full Moon? And why is the Full Moon phase considered one of heightened spiritual activity? Consider the phases in life when you’ve changed homes, ended a longterm relationship, lost your job, or experienced the death of a loved one. Psychologists consider those four ‘life events’ as some of the toughest emotional adjustments we ever make. Within the realm of planetary and luminary aspects, the moment of the Full Moon corresponds to a similar set of shocks. Read more

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March 02nd, 2014

Time and the Retrograde of Mars and Saturn


To stall is to procrastinate. That’s the usual association we make with the word. And procrastination implies a conscious kind of non-action on the part of the procrastinator.

But there is another definition taken from the world of aviation. A mechanical stall is a malfunction in the flight of an aircraft in which there is a sudden loss of lift that results in a downward plunge. “The plane went into a stall and I couldn’t control it.”

Can you relate?

With both Saturn (the prime timekeeper) and Mars (momentum itself) in retrograde motion, our direction, our sense of time, our desire (Mars) for a forward direction (Saturn) — all of our leaning toward and lunging for is, well, suspended — left dangling. So when someone asks you, “What are you up to?” You can say, in all honesty, “Just hanging around.” Or if you’re a more melodramatic type: “Man, I’m going down.”

So, while you’re falling why not pick a card — any card.

Of all the various versions of the Tarot’s Hanged Man (Pamela Colman Smith’s glowing, haloed figure or Aleister Crowley‘s eerie ankh-hung Spiderman) I like the simplicity of Robert Place‘s rendering — taken from his Alchemical Tarot deck. I also think Place’s Hanged Man is more true to the initial stages of frustration one experiences when she first notices that her airplane has gone into a stall.

Place animates his Hanged Man with a thrashing motion of the body and an angry, perplexed countenance. The man is definitely rebelling. And all that he has acquired within the normal, forward motion of time, is falling from his hands. Read more

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