The Uses of Astrology in the Counseling Arts

The previous chapters have already outlined some of the primary values and uses of astrological insights within the domain of psychology in general. Astrology is equally applicable to other areas of the counseling arts, whether they be marriage counseling, child and family counseling, specific types of psychotherapy, or merely the sort of counseling that many of us do in our everyday lives, whether or not we have the title of "psychologist." Since the most important theoretical considerations have already been dealt with quite thoroughly in previous chapters, in this chapter I simply want to point to some specific and practical applications of astrology in the whole area of counseling. As most readers probably know, there are many types of astrology, complete with their particular symbolic correlations appropriate for the subject at hand, and there are many applications of the basic astrological laws. But it is in the area of the counseling arts that I am particularly interested, and so I feel that sharing some of the insights I have gained using astrology everyday in a rather large counseling practice might be of some relevance to the reader's experience.

I especially want to emphasize that counseling is an art and that it is in the one-to-one counseling situation that astrology's symbols come alive most immediately. The art of counseling is an interchange of energy with another person, a way of elucidating the realities of the client's total life situation and individual way of being. Although one can improve one's abilities in the counseling situation by experience, devoted practice, and penetrating self-examination, the art itself cannot be taught. Since every individual is different, his or her particular way of utilizing astrology in counseling will differ from any other person's approach. I myself am not particularly interested in playing the "guru" or in structuring my professional practice in such a way that people come to me expecting me to do all the work, all the talking, and to deliver to them all the answers to their own individual dilemmas. It is clear to me that the openness of the client in each situation in fact determines how much help or what depth of increased self-knowledge he or she will gain from our interchange. This is true in every life situation: we program what we will receive by how much we are willing to give and how open we are to facing the truth about ourselves. The fact that some astrologers continue to play the role of fortune-teller or all-knowing channel for cosmic wisdom is merely an indication that such practitioners have their ego too wrapped up in that role. Astrologers, no matter how they see themselves or how the public may view them, are merely human beings like any others, with limited knowledge, limited understanding, and limited experience. They differ from other people only in that they have studied (hopefully with some depth) this system of cosmic symbols which provides them with a tool that can enable them to penetrate below the surface of ego, self-deception, and social roles.

In the everyday practice of astrology as a profession, it is of the utmost importance that the practitioner's intellectual honesty be uncompromising. In other words, if he doesn't know an answer to a question, doesn't understand some aspect of the birth-chart, or doesn't really have a rapport with the person at a certain level, he should not hesitate to say so and therefore to ask for help or clarification. I realize that most astrologers are often confronted with a client's desire to dump all responsibility in the astrologer's lap and to project the image of "guru" onto the astrologer. This is a game that the ego loves, and it is therefore easy to fall into such a role without realizing the real implications of doing so. However, one should realize that merely giving advice without also giving a means of deeper understanding is of little value, for each person must do his or her own work and must, through his or her own experience, arrive at the higher awareness that enables the person to outgrow or to transcend the difficulty. At the same time, the astrologer should realize the power at his disposal and the amazing sensitivity to suggestion that human beings have, and he should use that power with the utmost caution. It is better to say nothing than to make an unfounded guess based on insuffi cient understanding merely because of the ego's insecurity or because of the client's demands. As Zipporah Dobyns has pointed out, behind the astrologer's statements, as far as the client is able to perceive, lies the power and authority of the cosmos. This is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. In addition, one's intellectual honesty should extend to the point where the counselor should freely state his own particular philosophical beliefs and ethics if they are interfering with his ability to deal objectively with a particular person or situation.

The relationship between the astrologer and client is as deeply personal as that between a doctor and patient. The quality of that relationship is inevitably a determining factor in the ultimate outcome of the consultation. Therefore, no astrologer should feel hesitant about referring a person to another astrologer if he or she feels that some tension or resistance in a particular relationship makes it impossible to deal effectively and openly with the client. There is no question of who is the "best" astrologer. There are simply different types of astrologers for different types of people. What one astrologer is not able to understand or to deal with may be precisely the greatest strength of another practitioner. It is not only the particular system of astrology or specific kinds of astrological techniques used, therefore, which determine the quality of astrological practice; it is more importantly the quality of relationship and the depth of self-knowledge which illuminate the one-to-one interchange. Without the benefit of the person-to-person interchange in astrological work, it is impossible to use astrological procedures in the deepest way and with the greatest possible benefits. Although doing a chart for someone one hasn't seen can indeed be helpful to the person, that individual would generally derive much deeper understanding from personal contact with the astrologer. For, without immediate personal contact, it is impossible to know (unless one is truly a gifted psychic) the level of awareness with which the individual will respond to his or her inner and outer circumstances.

In the remainder of this chapter, I will simply list some of the values that astrology can contribute to the counseling arts. These are my own personal values and are naturally associated with my particular experience and with my particular attitude toward life.

1. The Hindu holy book Bhagavad Gita states that the "mind is the slayer of the real." A modern author has written, "The death of ego is the birth of everything else." Utilizing astrology can provide a perspective upon and a detachment from our mind and ego patterns in order that we may again occasionally perceive what is real; for, as long as we are victimized by these patterns, we are in total darkness. The birth-chart reveals these patterns in a clear way that enables us to deal more effectively with our habits and with ourselves.

2. Astrology helps one to develop patience; for, when it is seen that the primary structural aspects of one's existence are subject to an already-established periodicity and cyclic rhythm, it is much easier to dwell in the present with a patient acceptance of the here and now and with the knowledge that the present phase will end when it has outlived its purpose. The kind of patience that can develop with the aid of astrology has been defined by one author as "an active alignment with the timing of God."

3. Astrology provides a pattern of growth and development that is far superior to any other psychological tool. It indicates what one should be working on, the essential meaning of a particular experience or phase of life, what inner patterns one is coming to terms with, the approximate duration of any particular phase of experience, and an accurate way of timing crucial changes in life.

4. Astrology enables one to tune in on his or her inner powers and to use the power of thought, will, and creative vitality to mold a better way of being. By paying attention to astrological cycles, we can see when we have the opportunity to develop new approaches to life and when we will be tested to see if our present approaches are truly fulfilling and creative.

5. Astrological study or familiarity with astrological practice through a counseling experience enables one to understand more deeply the Universal Laws that pervade all of life and help the individual to rely upon these universal truths in one's own inner life. Among these laws are: order, compensation (or balance), cause and effect (karma), vibration, cycles, polarity, "what ye think ye become," and "like begets like."

6. Astrology in the counseling arts reveals how any experience fits into the larger pattern of order that constitutes one's basic life structure or life plan.

7. Astrology gives us a sense of perspective and a means of gaining awareness on our lives, so that we don't get "hung up" on one experience, frustration, or blockage. It can get us in touch with the dynamism and cyclic nature of all life.

8. Astrology can provide us with faith in something greater than mere ego consciousness and therefore faith in one's real self.

9. Astrology helps the counselor or therapist to get inside the client, to attune to him according to the client's own nature rather than projecting his unconscious assumptions on the individual. It also enables him to choose appropriate treatment or therapy for a particular person.

10. Astrology can provide us with the key to the initiations (i.e., the crucial times of confrontation and marked growth) in every person's life, a pattern and need which is ignored by Western culture.

11. Astrology provides a means whereby the client's deepest feelings and unconscious yearnings may be brought to awareness and given form. What originally was a vague, troublesome annoyance can then be transformed into a reservoir of newly-liberated creative energy, often giving the individual a clear sense of new direction and meaning in life.

12. Astrology enables the person to determine the type of activity in which his or her life-energies can flow with the greatest amount of ease and satisfaction.

13. Astrology can help people to have a greater confidence in themselves by confirming the intimations, feelings, and inner knowledge that they may have been afraid to express or to trust. Rather than the often-voiced criticism of astrology that it makes one weaker by depending on forces outside the self, the proper use of astrology can help an individual to develop a greater degree of self-reliance and self-confidence. So often, a person feels deeply that he has special abilities in a certain area, for example, but the lack of confidence or trust in self may make it difficult to act upon this feeling.

14. Astrology can help us to know that "all the world is a stage" and that we are merely playing a part in this vast drama. Such a realization can give us a sense of perspective and humor that alone makes life easier to deal with. And, in addition, such a realization leads one eventually to consider the ultimate questions of life: Who is the actor in this drama? Who is the director? And who is the author?

15. Astrology shows us that within us are many interacting dynamics, that our being in the material world comprises many forces, needs, and urges. Astrology helps us to identify with the totality of this living process rather than identifying, as most people do, with one or two limited dimensions of experience.

16. The use of astrology in the counseling arts enables the counselor to help the person to align himself with the truth of his nature and being, rather than molding him to fit a man-made theory of how he should be.

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