I began writing the first edition of this book nearly thirty years ago, and now, working on a revised edition, I find myself alternately amused and embarrassed by the younger version of myself who once pontificated on nearly every page. She clearly had a lot of growing up to do; yet she seemed to know all the answers. You would have thought that she single-handedly invented metaphysics, depth psychology, and feminism.
Entering a new millenium, and having passed 60, I don't have nearly as many answers for myself, and surely not for you—and yet my clients and readers seem to find me more useful, not to mention less arrogant. Perhaps I have simply encountered many more of life's irresolvable dilemmas, or perhaps life itself is a great deal more complicated for all of us now than in the 1970s. All the same, astrology has an infinite amount to teach us, and so this revised edition is intended as a beginner-friendly guide for those who wish to go beyond Sun signs into the complexities of the birth chart.
One new factor that has become fully integrated into the field of astrology since the early version of this book is asteroids. I asked my respected colleague, Joyce Mason, to contribute a new chapter on Chiron, the most commonly used asteroid. Another change is the technology, since astrological software was hardly dreamed of in three decades ago. Today's student will delight in AstroDataBank's CD-ROM of birth data covering over 26,000 notables and other interesting folks—a software treasure that incorporates the lifetime work of Lois Rodden, long the standard-setter in data collection1. In this edition, I have drawn extensively on ADB's collection for celebrity examples of various features of the astrological chart.
One of my roles in our field over the years has been that of a trailblazer/troublemaker, and in that, at least, I have remained steadfast. Having lived for the past twelve years in the Pacific Northwest and viewing the consequences of slowly losing our forests, I can no longer countenance publishing my books on paper. In addition to being a friend to the environment we live in, you who read this in ebook format will find that there are many wonderful features that make ebooks an excellent learning tool—like searchability and hotlinks that take you directly to internet sites.
Another of the advantages of ebooks is that I was able to illustrate this new edition lavishly with photographs and other images that show the concepts I am trying to portray in graphic form. (The cost of the same images in a hard copy version would be prohibitive!) While this visual abundance began as a way to relieve the monotony of reading screenful after screenful of words on the computer monitor, it quickly evolved into a new teaching tool.
1 For more information about AstroDataBank and to get on their mailing list for birth data of newsmakers, visit http://www.astrodatabank.com.
An aptly chosen image can capture my 35 years of experience in observing people and cycles through the lens of astrology far more vividly than words alone can do2. Showing you what a person looks like who is acting out the qualities of the planet Pluto or the planet Uranus is much more direct and vivid than trying to convey these qualities in words. Know, then, that every image, every typeface color, and every symbol in this book has a meaning. Even if you don't consciously understand the images for Pluto or the Moon or Saturn, the next time you see that planet in action through the people around you, the photo will have more meaning for you.
What has NOT changed in all these years is the belief system underlying the writing. Let me explain my approach to astrology so you can take that framework into account when deciding whether or not you agree with my conclusions3. I seek a psychological understanding of the behavior and traits described by the chart. In short, I do not believe in using the birth chart as the best of all possible excuses. ("I can't help drinking, Judge, I'm a Pisces.") It is a great tool for understanding people and finding their strengths as well as their weaknesses. For instance, astrologically sophisticated therapists find that they get much faster results using their patients' astrological charts as an adjunct to their work. I also believe that we can improve, that through insight and conscious effort, we can stop behaving in neurotic and self-destructive ways. The chart can help by pointing out more constructive uses of our basic traits.
My second bias, implicit in the one above, is that the stars are not to blame. I believe that our lives are not controlled by forces out there, but are shaped by our own thought patterns. The planets only reflect what is going on. Just as the mirror does not cause us to go gray, the planets do not cause bad things to happen to us. We make bad things happen through our self-defeating, neurotic, rebellious, or neglectful behavior. If you get fired, it's easy to blame that darned Uranus for crossing your Midheaven. But why not blame yourself for all those times you came in late? Likewise, the planets do not cause good things to happen either. We bring them about by our attitudes of openness, determination, and faith in life's possibilities.
Many of the images and photos in this book are the copyrighted property of ArtToday, Inc. through their subsidiary corporation, Photos.com, an online source for high quality, royalty-free stock photos at http://www.photos.com. These graphics are used with permission under license. The images and photos in this book may not be copied or downloaded without permission from ArtToday.com. Astrological glyphs and symbols came from a variety of sources, including Art Today, Ancitita, and clip art disks by Micrographx, Expert Software, Cosmi, and Perfect Software.
This section is reprinted from my editorial in the September, 1977 issue of Astrology Today, ©1977 by CBS Publications, the Consumer Publishing Division of CBS.
You may be asking, "If that's true, then what is the point of astrology?" That's like asking a surgeon the point of a diagnostic x-ray, an architect what all those blueprints are for, or a tourist why a road map is needed. The chart is a sort of map to show you the way...it's not the chart's fault if you make a wrong turn or elect not to take the best route.
In other types of divination, we recognize more readily that the tool doesn't create the problem but only maps the terrain and points the way. In palmistry, for instance, we realize that a line on the palm does not cause you to live your life in a certain way; it only shows that you do live that way. Nor do we feel that the act of dealing a Tarot spread causes a situation to come out the way the cards say. We recognize that the cards only reflect and describe what the situation may be if you follow a certain course of action. If you choose to alter your behavior, the situation can change. To go to an even greater extreme, let's consider tea leaves. Predictions can be made from them, but surely the tea leaves are not to blame if you don't heed their warnings. People don't go around saying things like, "My life was just wonderful until I drank that cup of tea"—unless, of course, there was arsenic in it!
So why do we accept it when people say things like, "Neptune has totally ruined my life," or, "Saturn has destroyed my marriage?" It's better to say that all charts are descriptive. The chart does describe you, but it doesn't cause you to be that way, nor does it limit you to a negative expression of your potential, if that is where you are now.
At the time I wrote the first edition of this book, I would have been classified as a militant metaphysician, steeped in the absolute certainty typical of the 1970s that if you changed your thoughts you could change your reality. In this system of belief, it is not external conditions that determine your experiences; instead, your inner attitudes, beliefs, emotions, and needs act as magnets to attract the outer, tangible circumstances of your life to you. Like too many metaphysical sophomores, I would probably have concluded that if you faithfully did your affirmations and visualizations and then your reality didn't change, you were doing something wrong—that you were among the metaphysically challenged! Now I am more moderate in my position and not such a pie-in-the-sky optimist—to a limited extent, I have come to believe, quite reluctantly, in fate. No doubt the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.
I believe, as many astrologers do, that before we are born we participate in creating a plan for this lifetime so that our life experiences can provide the greatest possible growth. Our birth charts carry the code for this plan, and so astrology is a useful study for understanding and working with the challenges we have set for ourselves. We must also consider the extent our options are influenced and at times even limited by the current track that humanity as a collective is pursuing. The unfolding of that collective destiny, many of us in this field believe, is revealed by the natal sign placements and transiting signs of the outer planets—Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto4.
Another preference I have is not relying on karma to explain away the things that happen to us. While I certainly believe in reincarnation, in practice it is an iffy concept to speculate about. We don't generally have the wisdom to know why certain experiences or specific
4 Detailed exploration of these ideas is beyond the scope of this volume, but you may wish to read my ebook series about the outer planets, The Outer Planets and Inner life. Visit my publications website, http://www.moonmavenpublications.com for more information.
people are sent into our lives. If we dimly discern the reason, it is often only in retrospect.
Many times "punishment" isn't the point at all—certain painful experiences are sent to help us become stronger and to push us out of the ruts we've gotten into. Much of the pain is of our own doing in this life—nobody told us to keep beating our heads against the wall. Such experiences are not karma but neurosis—self-defeating patterns that we keep on repeating long after we could have moved on elsewhere. "Karma" is often just a label we use to avoid examining our own part in creating a painful experience...another wonderful excuse.
Unfortunately, many people do use astrology as an excuse, just like those who study a little psychology—or listen to too much Oprah—then spend the rest of their lives blaming their parents for what's wrong with them. Astrological cop-outs shift the blame on a grander level—"the stars." And what a superlative excuse — who'd expect you to straighten out your life when the mess is due to something as distant, vast and out of your control as Neptune or Uranus?
Individuals who are in the process of evolving will learn the same thing from both astrology and psychology—that as adults, we bear the ultimate responsibility for our behavior and ourselves. We attract external events and conditions through our inner conflicts, needs, and attitudes, be they conscious or unconscious. Wrong thinking and wrong actions are the roots of the greater part of our troubles. Examine your thoughts, actions, and emotions in a problem situation to see how you may be contributing to or provoking the mistreatment you get.
What you will discover is that every difficult feature of the natal chart and every transit or progression can lead us to positive, constructive insight and action that will help us move along the spiritual path. We have the opportunity to grow by mastering adverse circumstances, inner conflicts and difficult times that we go through. With that in mind, we can regard difficult aspects, transits, and sign placements as opportunities to grow.
Astrology, in its higher uses, is a map for living our lives. The true usefulness of the astrological chart is that it gives us a better perspective on ourselves, so that we can appreciate our own individuality and potential, and then work toward their most positive expressions. Put another way, your chart is only an instrument panel where you take readings on the course of your life. YOU ARE STILL THE PILOT!
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