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Awaken to the Mystery of the Undiscovered Self

woman gazing at landscape“A million zeros joined together do not, unfortunately, add up to one. Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual…”

In this quote from his essay The Undiscovered Self, Carl Jung is making an impassioned plea for the meaning and purpose of the individual as distinct from the mass statistic of the human population.

It is not that Jung is against community. Rather that he sees true community as made up of individuals. The essay, written in 1956, finds Jung already concerned with the reality of nuclear weapons and the cold war as well as the impact of totalitarian regimes on Eastern Europe. Jung felt that it was the essence or “quality” of the individual that stood in the way of the loss of human freedom.

He continues, “But if the individual, overwhelmed by the sense of his own puniness and impotence, should feel that his life has lost its meaning – which, after all, is not identical with public welfare and higher standards of living – then he is already on the way to State slavery and, without knowing or wanting it, has become its proselyte.”

Read more: Awaken to the Mystery of the Undiscovered Self

The Power of the Question

man gazing at landscapeA question is a departure point for a profound journey into meaning; a leap into the mystery of life's meaning. This is how I like to see the natal chart. Too often though, a hurt or frightened part of us wants an answer - and if possible, straight away!

This need for answers, whilst legitimate in many practical situations - for instance, needing to find out what the mechanic thinks is wrong with our car - can be an expression of fear or hurt in our deeper life experience. As if all of our existential fragility and pain could be reduced to a single tangible piece of information. We believe that this information is somehow locked in our chart. If we just had the key...

It seems to me that often we astrologers pride ourselves in finding an answer. Years of study and much specialized knowledge goes into being able to predict an event or life change or to position an experience of the individual in some way only through using the chart. This is often the kind of material used to showcase or somehow prove or validate astrology.

Read more: The Power of the Question

December 2016 Newsletter: Moving Past Limitation

Unsplash photo free useThe ex member of the band Blondie, Gary Lachmann, has been writing readable books for a number of years now - on various alternative thinkers from Jung and Steiner to the more occult Madame Blavatsky and Jacob Boehme. In his latest work Beyond the Robot he explores the work of writer and philosopher Colin Wilson. Wilson's great point was the very part of us designed to make day to day life easy, the automatic part that could take care of driving or idling in a boring meeting was actually threatening the full vitality of our life experience. He records the elation that the depressive youthful Graham Greene had when he played Russian Roulette with himself and survived. He records the last minute reprieve of Dostoevsky from a firing squad and the vigorous sense of life purpose that coursed through him afterwards. Wilson argued we needed to consciously remember these moments of extraordinary significance and let them elevate our lives.

I met Wilson at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in the early 1990's when I was an undergraduate. My friend and I had self-designed a course on modern poetry that a professor has kindly agreed to teach us. Wilson was teaching on what he called Faculty X - the mysterious extra factor that the Occult world explored. This helped my friend and I clarify the nature of the mysterious heightened state that some poetry would achieve; that we had become so interested in. The mystical thread held in the best poetry that we would ultimately follow back to its origins in spiritual experience and teachings.

Read more: December 2016 Newsletter: Moving Past Limitation

The Space between the Stars: The Nature and Function of the Planetary Nodes

by Mark Jones

Originally published in The Mountain Astrologer

The fact that the Moon has nodes is commonly taken into account by astrologers. What is not always known or understood is that all the planets have nodes. The essence of astrology is found within the ecliptic, since the circle of the zodiac itself is formed around it. Because the apparent motion of the Sun forms the ecliptic, it is the only body in the solar system that does not have a nodal axis.

South NodeIt is important to emphasize that there is no thing found at the north or south node of a planetary body; it is instead an abstract point in space that marks the intersection of the motion of the planet as it crosses the ecliptic. When the planet rises above the ecliptic, this forms the ascending or north node, and when the planet falls below the ecliptic, this forms the descending or south node. (See Figure, at left.)

During the Uranus–Pluto conjunction of the mid-to-late 1960s and very early ‘70s, Theodor Landscheidt initially presented a paper (1965) and then a workshop (1971) on the nature of the planetary nodes. In 1971, Dane Rudhyar published a pamphlet in the Humanistic Astrology Series: The Planetary and Lunar Nodes (CSA Press). During 1973, Dr. Zipporah Dobbins, who had attended Landscheidt’s workshop, published The Node Book (TIA Publications), which included her reflections on the planetary nodes.

Now, during the waxing First Quarter square of Uranus and Pluto, it seems an opportune moment to assess the importance of the revolutionary idea of the planetary nodes as originally presented at the onset of the current Uranus–Pluto synodic cycle. In the intervening decades, the recognition of the nodes’ importance — with some exceptions, such as the teachings of Jeffrey Wolf Green — seems to have slipped from collective awareness. I believe that the significance of the planetary nodes is worth our while to acknowledge at this time.

Read more: The Space between the Stars: The Nature and Function of the Planetary Nodes

One to One: Psychotherapeutic Insights for the Astrologer

by Mark Jones

Originally published in The Mountain Astrologer

Counseling SessionThe ideas presented in this article are meant as a commentary on the nature of two people coming together for an astrology reading. In exploring psychotherapeutic ideas for astrologers, I am not arguing for a psychological astrology, that is, a psychological method as the underlying astrological approach. This article is designed to introduce core insights from the world of depth psychology to assist the astrologer of any technical persuasion to understand some of the issues and dynamics that can arise when any two people meet for the purposes of guidance or healing.

An astrology reading involves a counselling dynamic. It sounds simple, but there is an underlying radicalism to what I am asserting: that regardless of your astrological approach — traditional, evolutionary, psychological, Vedic, medical, etc. — when an individual consults you for advice, help, and support, a therapeutic relationship comes into being, if only for one hour.

Furthermore, this is the case whether or not the client (or even, for that matter, the astrologer) is conscious of it. An astrologer may feel that they are simply disseminating their specialised information to a client; however, there is still a counselling dynamic that will stir certain forces within the client’s — and, potentially, the astrologer’s — unconscious. The reading may not occur in person; it may be recorded or in writing. Nevertheless, it includes a counselling aspect to the relationship.

Read more: One to One: Psychotherapeutic Insights for the Astrologer

Review of Healing The Soul

Healing the Soul: Pluto, Uranus and the Lunar Nodes by Mark Jones, Raven Dreams Press
Softcover—268 pp.—$24.95 (ISBN 978- 0-9840474-0-6).
ISBN 978-0-9840474-0-6
$24.95

Healing the Soul by Mark JonesBased on the author’s core belief that ‘you cannot begin to heal any problem until you understand its origin,’ this profound book by psychotherapist and evolutionary astrologer Mark Jones takes us right to the Plutonian heart of the soul issues we are here to heal and resolve.

Trained as a Psychosynthesis psychotherapist as well as with Jeffrey Green’s Evolutionary Astrology school, Mark has combined his experience with both approaches and created a step by step astrological methodology to work with soul issues.

Arranged into four main sections, the first part of this excellent book addresses ‘the Pluto Complex’. As expressed by the author ‘through Pluto, we become aware of the central evolutionary concerns stemming from deep within the soul…our deepest unconscious security needs and as a result, those behaviours that we default to under stress’. Hence Mark describes the Pluto complex as revolving ‘around the tension between ego and soul’. He includes a very helpful and depthful cookbook section on Pluto in the Signs and Houses.

The second section of the book describes the importance and nature of the Nodes of the Moon including Planets in aspect to the Nodes and a description of the Nodes by House and Sign.

Read more: Review of Healing The Soul

Book Review: Healing the Soul

Healing the Soul: Pluto, Uranus and the Lunar Nodes by Mark Jones, Raven Dreams Press
Softcover—268 pp.—$24.95 (ISBN 978- 0-9840474-0-6).
Reviewed by Mary Plumb
This review originally appeared in the Feb./Mar. 2015 issue of The Mountain Astrologer and is reprinted with permission.

Healing the Soul by Mark JonesMark Jones’ Healing the Soul is a detailed discussion of his work as a psychosynthesis therapist who uses the astrological chart as an entryway into understanding the hidden forces that guide a person’s life. Although his astrological approach primarily follows the methodology introduced by Jeffrey Wolf Green, Jones makes a strong contribution to the genre with his rich psychological and spiritual foundation and his considerable therapeutic experience. He writes that his approach is “formed by the intersection of Robert Assagioli’s Psychosynthesis, Green’s Evolutionary Astrology, the spiritual teachings of Mahayana Buddhism, Esoteric Christianity and the integrative work of Dr. David Hawkins.”

The Evolutionary Axis, taught by Green, includes strong emphasis on Pluto, an analysis of which “provides the baseline understanding — the context — for the entire birth chart.” Jones writes comprehensively about this key idea in Chapter 1, “Pluto: The Poet’s Cookbook.” Further on in the book, he summarizes that he has found the Pluto placement to describe the “central compulsion — the orientation of the soul to a certain way of experiencing reality over multiple lifetimes.”

Chapter 2, “The Moon’s Nodes,” covers the next main factor used in Evolutionary Astrology work, again in detail, e.g., “skipped steps,” orbs, and planets square and conjunct the nodes. (Although Jones’ typical client work does not involve regression, the detailed case history he presents in this section includes insights from his regression sessions with the client after she spontaneously entered a past-life experience.)

Read more: Book Review: Healing the Soul

The Poisoned Apple Part 2

Snow White Apple

The Poisoned Apple Part 2: Snow White and the Poison Apple

“All alone my dear… the little men are not here?” So says the face of the crone as she appears at the window of the home of Disney’s Snow White who is making gooseberry pie. “It's apple pies that makes the men-folks mouths water,” continues the old lady in a voice of calculated sweetness, “Wait until you taste one.” As she brings the poison apple to the maiden the birds in the trees, recognizing her malign intent, swoop down to attack her. Although temporarily thwarted the canny queen in witch form feigns a “poor heart” and is led into the house by the kindly girl for a rest.

Inside the witch plays a new trick, telling Snow White that the apple is a magical one. Here we have the power of the partial truth as an even more enchanting lie: this is a “wishing apple – one bite and all your dreams will come true.” “There must be something your little heart desires,” she says, warming to her role, or someone? Of course there is. Snow White wishes “that he will carry me away to his castle where we will live happily ever after” and bites into the red fruit with the words, “Oh I feel strange.” The exultant queen witch cries aloud, “Now I will be the fairest in the land!”

Read more: The Poisoned Apple Part 2

The Poisoned Apple Part 1

Poisoned Apple by Roberta Tocco

The Poisoned Apple: the dialogue between Religion and Science and the formation of the modern world-view.

Image courtesy of Roberta Tocco Photography

Over a series of posts I will engage in an extended meditation on the dialogue of Religion and Science and the way that the relationship between the two has been crucial in the formation of the modern world-view.

Astrology and Psychotherapy (alongside Existential and Spiritual concerns) will be brought to bear on the analysis both as a perspective for understanding but also as part of the subject matter.

So, for example, astrology will provide perspective through analysis of birth charts, and themes of history through transits as well as being the subject of analysis itself; for example the differing ways that religion and science have attempted to engage with or deny astrology and its precarious status in the modern world.

Part 1 - Apple for Teacher

“Late that autumn of 1925, Robert did something so stupid that it seemed calculated to prove that his emotional distress was overwhelming him. Consumed by feelings of inadequacy and intense jealousy, he ‘poisoned’ an apple with chemicals from the laboratory and left it on Blackett’s desk… Fortunately, Blackett did not eat the apple; but university officials somehow were informed of the incident. As Robert himself confessed to Ferguson two months later, ‘he had kind of poisoned the head steward. It seemed incredible, but that was what he said.’”

Read more: The Poisoned Apple Part 1

Astrology and Witch Hunting

On the Tricks of Demons

witch trialsIn his 1563 book, On the Tricks of Demons, Johann Weyer, a Protestant physician, questioned the capacity of old peasant women to fly on broomsticks and become the sexual consorts of demons. He wrote, “Love men, kill errors, fight for the truth without any cruelty.” This sober, sincere and rather kindly man wondered if many of these poverty stricken old ladies were not just suffering from depression (melancholia) and mental illness; issues more than exacerbated by the prolonged torture they would suffer at the hands of their interrogators.

This appeal to sanity and compassion was not enough to stay the hands of Jean Bodin, whose On the Demonic Madness of Witches is an extended critique of Weyer’s appeal for moderation. Bodin points out how torturing and burning these old women was nothing compared to the eternal damnation that awaits them and which the general public, witness to this orgy of violence, needed rerminding of! Near his death, Bodin published Drama of Universal Nature (1597) in which he wrote: “There is nothing in the world...pleasanter to behold, or which more deliciously revives the mind, or which serves us more commodiously, than order.” The feminine is the antithesis of this dubious “order.”

“All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable,” says the Malleus Maleficarum and as Brian Easlea in his sensitive and considered book Witch Hunting, Magic and the New Philosophy writes, “Whatever else it is, the Malleus Maleficarum is a misogynists’s textbook.” This triumph of misogyny was published by two Dominican friars in 1486 in which it was argued that God allows a certain amount of evil in order to celebrate the triumphant response of the righteous in stamping out the cursed sections of humanity; more often than not, the feminine. The tricks of Demons tolerated in order to incite the treats of the righteous; a process for which they argue there can be no due legal process because of the inherently satanic nature of the accused...

Read more: Astrology and Witch Hunting

Florence and the Renaissance Man

AssagioliRecently I was fortunate enough to go to Florence. I turned this into a mini vacation, in Tuscany first (Pisa, Lucca and Montecatini Terme) and then Florence itself. Whilst the vacation was good, despite the crazy driving of the Italians (truly scary in their capacity to pull out of junctions and parking spaces at the side of the road with no indication) the real focus of the trip had come about through an opportunity created by a great friend who I trained in Psychosynthesis with from 1999-2002.

Already friends, training together, as the babies of the course (by age and therapeutic experience at least) far from wiping out the friendship as some on the training thought would happen - including the course director at times, mind you her comment when we turned up for the start of the second year was a surprised “Oh I didn’t expect you two to come back”! - Training together, alongside shared journeys into Kabbalistic magic, the Findhorn community in Scotland, Buddhism and writing (amongst other things…) cemented a shared creative drive. When as a student, I was struggling to complete my first homework in Evolutionary Astrology it was Keith that I turned too to help me think through the psychology of the birth chart on that depth level.

Keith, a Psychosynthesis Therapist working in a university and private practice, had the university support a trip to the Psychosynthesis conference in Rome in which he presented an excellent paper, Paradise Sustained, which can be read here - http://keithhackwood.com/paradise-sustained/

A paper that rather ruffled some of the expensive older Italian feathers: a Psychosynthesis community in Italy somewhat notorious for closed ranks. Will Parfitt (http://www.willparfitt.com/) who gave a keynote address at the end of the conference singled out Keith’s approach as representative of a future potential for the Psychosynthesis community. For those who wanted to there was a trip to Florence to the Psychosynthesis Institute, basically the old home and workplace of Roberto Assagioli. Keith had written to the conference organisers previously about his friend, an author and international speaker who could not make the conference but would love to see the homestead of Psychosynthesis (no actual lie…) and I have this good friend to thank for what turned into a profound encounter for both of us with the private papers of a renaissance man some of whose work has been wilfully concealed from the world. Even it appeared the very people who had trained us!

After an introduction and brief tour of the house by the group of women visiting and, it was revealed, organising a recently discovered batch of material from Assagioli’s private archive that had only been opened up because the attic room it was stored in had come in danger of water damage from a leak. These boxes were literally ordered into the basement to be stored away (the symbolism of the layers of the unconscious and the attempted repression is almost comical) and yet one writer in residence who was assisting could not help herself but have a look in the box. Thank you, Pandora.

Read more: Florence and the Renaissance Man

In Memoriam: Roger Woolger & James Hillman

In Memoriam

“Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.”

~Tennyson, the first lines of In Memoriam, for the death of his friend.

Roger WoolgerThe end of 2011 saw the deaths of two figures whose work has shaped my understanding of the understanding of depth psychology and the realms of potential offered by expanding psychology into the realms of the transpersonal and the soulful power of the imagination. One was Roger Woolger whose book Other Lives, Other Selves opened up the doors of perception into the world of prior life regression in a way that was totally cognisant of the therapeutic power of such a perspective.

Read more: In Memoriam: Roger Woolger & James Hillman

The Unlived Life

“You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the school of Architecture. Ever seen one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War 2 than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.”

From "The Unlived Life," section of Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.

Steven PressfieldPressfield, the author of the Legend of Bagger Vance and a historical novel on the battle of Thermapolyae is making the extreme point that what emerges from the depths of ourselves that we do not live out creatively, will ultimately turn instead to destruction. Steven Forrest posted a link to a news page on Facebook today that asserts "nearly forty per cent of Europeans suffer mental illness." This is of course a masterly example of the caution (nearly) and bold co-existing and the marvellous use to which statistics can be put as this list includes those suffering from dementia and alcoholics just as much as it does people being medicated for depression (as a salient commentator on the posting suggested we may indeed pathologize the normal issues and stresses of life to a nonsensical level). 

Read more: The Unlived Life

New Book Announcement!

Hello everyone. I'd just like to make a quick announcement. I've been working on a book for the last few months, and I'm excited to announce that the major work is complete and the book is now in the editing process. The book is tentatively titled: Healing the Soul: the Lunar and Planetary nodes in Evolutionary Astrology. We're hoping to release the book near October, just before the next Evolutionary Astrology conference this fall.

Pluto the Goat

mountain goat unsplash rights

“My idea, then, is that a great work of art often has at its center a long floating leap, around which the work of art in ancient times used to gather itself like steel shavings around the magnet. But a work of art does not necessarily have at its center a single long floating leap. The work can have many leaps, perhaps shorter. The real joy of poetry is to experience this leaping inside a poem. A poet who is ‘leaping’ makes a jump from an object soaked in unconscious substance to an object or idea soaked in conscious psychic substance.”

So wrote Robert Bly in a pamphlet in the 1970’s reissued recently in Leaping Poetry, a magical essay on art, interwoven with many of his free flowing translations of poetry from around the world. This is his statement of the meaning of freedom, of a spacious movement inside one’s being that resides at the heart of a poetry that has the capacity to move us. This is the space, the impulse towards soaring inner freedom, that I propose lies at the core of the Capricorn archetype, a principle normally associated with the structures of society and consciousness and the nature of conditioning: within the heart of the home of Capricorn lies the deep seated yearning for inner freedom.

So powerful is this need that many defenses (Saturn) are created by the psyche under the aegis of Capricorn, many armoured layers of protection against this potential leap of consciousness, this impulse for freedom. One part yearns for the leap, another part, fearful of chaos and all that might ensue in the new life (born free) generates restriction, born from anxiety. In this way we psychologically chose to participate in the strictures of conditioning that appear around us. By implication just as we chose them through fear, we could un-chose them as an act of liberation.

Read more: Pluto the Goat

The Problem of Evolution

In recent posts I have been discussing the issue of lack of meaning in the modern world and that Evolutionary Astrology in its radicalism (claiming insight into the nature of the Soul’s desires and the present and past life selves it manifests to explore those desires) can only be understood by a return to meaning implied by the understanding of symbolic correspondence epitomized by the hermetic maxim, “As above, so below”.

Now I wish focus a little on the meaning of the term ‘evolutionary’ and by exploring that as a theme in and of itself, how that might illuminate the context overall of a truly Evolutionary Astrology.

Henryk SkolimowskiI was recently introduced to Henryk Skolimowski, a Polish professor of Ecological Philosophy, in whose writing I’ve discovered a free-thinking, mystical utterly reverent radical viewpoint about the spiritual dimension of our current struggles as a civilization.

He offers a supremely optimistic counter to the lack of vision implied in the idea of world-as-machine that is so implicit in our technological fantasies and waste. As part of this vision Skolimowski honours the importance of evolution, the problems it poses to our understanding in the face of its scale and the joy of the life force that, in its dynamism and variety, shine forth:

“Yet we have a problem with evolution. It is so large. It cannot be contained in any definition. It is expressed in everything, but it cannot be expressed in words. In wanting to catch evolution in a net of words we are chasing the continually evasive phantom of becoming. How can we comprehend the totality of evolution, while we cannot express its meaning in crisp definitions? By pointing at this Enormous Phenomenon of Life in its various processes becoming. The glory of evolution is the slimy little amoeba beginning to react to the environment semi-intelligently. The glory of evolution is the first eagle stretching its wings. The glory of evolution is the first monkey using a stick as a tool. The glory of evolution is the Vedic hymns conceived in silence and expressed then in ecstatic rapture. The glory of evolution is the monumental Principia Mathematica Philosophia Naturalis of Newton, attempting to express all visible nature in quantative laws. The glory of evolution is our reflective mind reflecting on the glory of evolution."

Read more: The Problem of Evolution

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