An important principle of depth astrology, which is really an extension of all its other principles, is that we can transcend our charts. We carry our natal charts within us all our lives, but as we develop a center within ourselves, learn to trust our inner guidance and become more attuned to universal energies, we are less at the mercy of the stresses indicated by our planetary positions.
Perhaps we have Uranus opposition Venus natally; we may resist being tied down by a loved one, and as a result form relationships with people who fear to make a commitment, people who give us the freedom we seek by refusing to be fully available or by leaving us after only a brief period of time. Throughout our lives we may resist the limitations which occur in a committed relationship, but our fear of these limitations does not have to prevent us from forming meaningful commitments.
In time, we may become more aware of the kind of freedom important to us, more able to define what we are able and unable to tolerate in a relationship, more capable of expressing our needs to others and forming relationships which allow us to satisfy the more important of these needs. We may begin to experience and draw from the light at the center of our being, therefore becoming a source of illumination to ourselves as well as others. Through this process we may experience such fulfillment in who we are that we are less at the mercy of what we may have considered in the past to be important needs. Our Uranus opposition Venus may at times remain a source of conflict—an occasional yearning to break free and explore new relationships, to have more territory we can call our own—but its stresses may no longer dominate our consciousness.
The analogy of a marionette theater is useful in describing the natal chart. As we expand our awareness, as we become more capable of rising above our charts and directing our energy rather than being driven by our lower nature, as we become more familiar with the expressions of each of our planets and aspects and develop a lifestyle which incorporates all our conflicting needs, we become the puppeteer rather than the puppets in our own cosmic drama. We are no longer tangled in our own strings, but rather situated above the stage, directing the show.
We may, at this point, ask if our aim is to actually take control over our planets, to be the puppeteer or conductor of our planetary symphony, or if our aim is to surrender ourselves to God, the universal Will, the divine plan or whatever we choose to call the highest forces in the universe. These two approaches, of directing and surrendering, may at first seem contradictory. However, when we understand that this divine force operates at the center of the universe and helps us to develop a central Self that integrates all our divisive selves, the contradictions dissolve.
If we are to become the directors of our cosmic dramas, then our task is to make sure that the Self that is directing is not our ego, not our lower needs and desires, not one or two of our planets, but rather a Self that transcends those planets, a center of consciousness which incorporates and yet extends beyond our planetary selves. Developing and becoming attuned to that higher center is, of course, a lifetime (and perhaps many lifetimes) process.
Let us consider some of the ways we can, consciously or unconsciously, begin to transcend the lowest dimensions of our charts and unfold our highest potential. First, we are constantly being given new opportunities for self development by transits and progressions which awaken new channels of energy in our natal charts and introduce us to alternative ways of feeling, thinking and acting.
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Throughout the year, the inner planets are forming every conceivable aspect to our natal planets. Every 27-30 years, our progressed Moon allows us to experience internally all of the signs and come to terms emotionally with each of the planets it aspects. Saturn too completes its cycle around the chart every 29 years, and urges us to concretely apply each of our planets, to bring our current phase of each planet's expression to completion so that we will be ready to experience the next phase.
In the course of a lifetime, the trans-Saturnian planets aspect all our natal planets; although they may not complete an entire series of aspects to any one planet as they journey through a quarter or more of our charts, they introduce each of our planetary selves to three different modes of transformation—the shattering but liberating tumults of Uranus, the dissolving but also transcending mists of Neptune, the annihilating but renewing power of Pluto.
Our solar return charts too are guides to our becoming—revealing yearly possibilities for unfolding our potential, for integrating planets, signs and houses which may be at odds in our natal charts. Years during which planets in natal square or opposition are in conjunction, trine or sextile in our solar returns are years during which we can most easily discover alternative means for expressing and integrating these energies. When, for example, transiting Saturn trines our natal Moon or solar return Saturn trines either our solar return or natal Moon, we may learn how to blend these energies advantageously. We may discover how to commit ourselves to an important task or person, to stabilize rather than repress our feelings, to experience the satisfactions of behaving maturely and responsibly in many phases of our lives. If we remain aware of how we are integrating these two planets, then we can apply the lessons we have reamed the next time we allow ourselves to be depressed or oppressed by our natal Saturn/Moon square or opposition.
Second, our relationships provide us with opportunities for becoming. When we are close to other people, particularly when we are sexually involved with them or sharing the same living quarters or otherwise interacting with them in powerful ways, an energy exchange occurs. We influence them; they influence us. Their presence leads us to behave in ways which may surprise us because they are activating latent parts of ourselves or opening new channels of expression.
Comparing charts, we may discover that our highly afflicted Venus, oversensitive and prone to self deception when at the mercy of its Neptune opposition, or frequently demanding and restless in love when expressing the lowest dimensions of its Jupiter square, responds differently to people whose planets trine or sextile it. We may even enter into a satisfying marriage with someone whose Mars sextiles our Venus and whose Saturn trines it, someone whose Martian sexuality and vitality stimulates us without encouraging us to engage in unrealistic fantasies or expectations, and whose Saturn awakens in us a sane and mature love, feelings of loyalty and the desire and capacity to form solid and enduring ties.
We may, on the other hand, discover that our articulate and consistently rational Mercury in Virgo now experiences difficulty organizing and communicating its thoughts with this same partner whose Mercury in Pisces closely opposes it. Our struggle for clarification and better communication may in time lead not only to deeper understanding with our loved one, but also to a more intuitive, imaginative and wholistic thinking process, and to the capacity to speak in a more feeling way and to allow our latent creativity and spirituality to surface.
The important people in our lives not only activate different facets of our charts; they also enable us to develop qualities and modes of being that may not be indicated by our natal charts alone. We may, of course, lean on their trines and sextiles to our afflicted planets and depend upon them to ease our conflict; then, when and if these people depart from our lives, we may be suddenly confronted with those conflicts and disturbed that we have not made progress in resolving them. But we can also learn from their influence upon us, become aware of how we express our afflicted planets in their presence, so that if in time they disappear from our lives, we can apply what we have learned and consciously continue to express our planets in favorable ways. It will not be easy, but if we've really reamed from the experience, it will certainly be possible.
Astrology as a Path into Internal Depth
One important approach of depth astrology, related to its emphasis upon the acceptance of all our planetary selves, is that of allowing ourselves to become emotionally, creatively and spiritually involved with our birth charts rather than merely using astrology as an intellectual exercise. The transformation that is possible within us is not likely to be positive unless we allow ourselves at times to put aside our head knowledge and really experience our feelings, experience the fear or isolation of our Saturn, the hunger of our Moon, experience the insecurity, chaos and perhaps even terror that may be unleashed within us under outer planet transits. We might experience the extreme tension, nervousness and restlessness of Uranus, the confusions and vulnerabilities of Neptune, the release of powerful emotional and sexual energy of Pluto.
Our own fear of being out of control, at the mercy of our feelings, adrift in an abyss that threatens to engulf us in some unknown darkness may easily lead us to switch into our minds as soon as something new happens to us, and to attempt to interpret our experience astrologically without first fully allowing ourselves to feel what is taking place inside. Once experienced fully, the desolation of Saturn may lead to an enriching solitude and satisfying productivity; the sleep-like fogs of Neptune may awaken our creative inspiration; but unless we allow ourselves to journey deep into our own experience, for however long it takes to enlighten us, we are likely to become stuck on the periphery, afraid to go into feelings which are extremely uncomfortable, and therefore unable to discover the new and invigorating states of consciousness and activities to which they may lead.
Usually, we judge an experience as positive when it feels good, and consider it to be negative when it feels bad. But we can view our lives from a long-term perspective, in terms of the meaningfulness of each of its phases and in terms of our personal development and the aims we seek to fulfill. Then we are likely to discover that some experiences which feel good, which we consider to be positive, are actually destructive; likewise, some experiences which feel bad, which we view as negative or destructive, are actually constructive. Buying a six-course dinner at a French restaurant when we are unable to pay our rent and are 20 pounds overweight may be enjoyable but destructive; being abandoned by a lover whose insecurities have prevented us from pursuing further education may feel devastating, but may lead us to discover what we really want and to feel free to go after it.
So often we struggle with transits and resist the changes they bring upon us because we are afraid of experiencing pain, anxiety, loss or fear, even though such feelings in time may lead to a deeper peace of mind, even though they allow us to leave behind people or lifestyles or possessions or places which were harmful to us, and to embrace, in time, more satisfying alternatives.
In order to integrate ourselves, develop a lifestyle that constructively expresses each of our planets, and fulfill the potential of our charts, we must seek not to feel good all of the time, but rather to become more capable of experiencing and valuing uncomfortable feelings and states of mind—pain, isolation, nervous tension, oversensitivity, obsession in order to fulfill aims that are far more important than momentary satisfactions.
We must therefore begin to assess our experience in terms of ultimate gains, in terms of our own personal and spiritual growth and our contribution to society rather than in terms of pleasant or unpleasant feelings. One way is to consider the possible long-term influences; another way is to do all we can to deepen our faith, so that we trust that time will reveal the constructive implications. We can also develop trust in the wisdom of our subconscious and the wisdom of the universe, confident that we are being provided with experiences which will aid our soul's evolution, even though the meaning of those experiences may not be revealed to us for many years.
The Astrology of Self-Discovery: An In-depth Exploration of the Potentials Revealed in Your Birth Chart
by Tracy Marks.
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About The Author
Tracy Marks combines her training in counseling and psychotherapy with many years of experience in astrology. Currently her main interest is in developing responsible uses of astrology as an effective tool for self-discovery. This article was excerpted with permission from her book "The Astrology of Self-Discovery", published by CRCS Publications, PO Box 1460, Sebastopol, CA 95473. Book may be ordered from the publisher ($13.95 + $2.25 shipping) or by clicking on the cover to the right.