Enlightenment! What a topic – and something I have been rather obsessing over. It will be no surprise to astrologers that a natal 9th House Pluto could indeed lead to such obsessions. I guess there are worse things to be obsessed with.
This writing piece has been triggered by an update from my wonderful teacher Steven Forrest, who announced he was shortly to be speaking at the 2023 NORWAC conference with a talk entitled ‘Reconciling Astrology and Spirituality.’ Well, it’s that reconciliation that I have been focused on and that this article explores, and to be frank, I have deeply struggled with that reconciliation for a long time.
Many Moon cycles ago, I asked Steven about this. I had had a classical 9th House Pluto moment – I had needed faith, meaning and purpose in my life and thought I had found it through astrology. I busied myself investigating every detail of the craft, finding meaning to my pain, purpose to my life. Alongside this, I had spent many years in ‘search’ of enlightenment. No surprise there either, with Neptune in Sagittarius in 12th House, square Venus in Pisces. I read hundreds of spiritual books and attended endless spiritual retreats and sat at gurus feet. In typical Pluto fashion, I thought I had finally found ‘it’ – whatever ‘it’ was. I thought I had really understood what the state of enlightenment was, and how astrology was a direct map to that state. Wrong again!
But not entirely…here’s why.
I had a direct experience of the stillness, emptiness and oneness that so many spiritual teachers try to describe. A fleeting glimpse into that unknown, indescribable bountiful void. In that place, and true to what the teachers had all said, there was no tension, no resistance and no sense of ‘I’ or ‘Self’. When I returned, I looked at my chart, and all the placements and coloured lines. I considered how can these points of tension and tendencies BE here, if this is the path to Enlightenment? How can ANYTHING at all be here, if this chart is so intimately and directly connected to Enlightenment and to the Soul?
I asked Steven about this, and in my state of total existential despair and crushing 9th House Pluto realisation, I said ‘But Steven, all this means that the natal chart is nothing more than a map of the Ego.’ In 5 short minutes I had totally lost my faith, my religion. Astrology wasn’t mapping the Soul at all – but the Ego! Now what?
I loved his response, he said that the chart was a ‘path’ to evolution, which ultimately arrives at Enlightenment. It points the way. I didn’t really understand the deeper meaning of this until now. I had clung on to the idea that the chart represents the Soul, I had not been prepared for how I would feel when I realised it represented the Ego. Steven’s brilliant response didn’t really alleviate the terrible existential despair I was feeling though. What did, was a short, rather intense burst of sitting with multiple clients.
Recently I attended a mind-body-spirit fair, where 14 beautiful Souls sat across my table as I read their charts. 90% of those people were, spookily, 9th House Pluto people! It’s as though I had a mirror reflecting back at me the deeper meaning of that powerful placement. All of them were rather attached to some form of meaning or truth. Even when I gently challenged one particularly strong truth-seeker, she announced that she was totally open-minded and not in any way attached to one kind of truth. And yet, she was extremely attached to the idea of their actually being a higher truth. We’ll unpack that in a moment.
As my own inner experiences of no-Self, no-I continued to unfold, and as I continued to let go of the need to assert my own Will in my life, the world of astrology and my own natal chart started becoming redundant. I was losing all connection to astrology as I began to realise that indeed, the natal chart DOES map the Ego and not the Soul. Don’t worry, by the end of this article, astrology experiences a rather beautiful renaissance.
We sit at the astrologers’ desk because we want to know who WE are. We want to know ourselves more deeply and to discover what makes us truly unique and special. Yes, it is rather narcissistic when you think about it. Astrology is fundamentally Ego based and Ego driven. And like any other form of therapy, it is a little narcissistic.
The balance of signs and the occupation of certain houses describes our focus, our desires, our interests and aspects of our nature and motivations. The part of us that is Enlightened, the part that has no sense of Self or I, doesn’t have desires, motivations, needs or interests. The chart of an Enlightened One would simply be completely empty – indescribable! An Enlightened One would have no attributes at all.
So what use is astrology for those that seek Enlightenment? For those that earnestly want to evolve ever closer to the sense of ‘no Self?’ Is it really all that useful to sit with a map of the Ego we are supposedly trying to transcend?
It’s all tied up with the sign of Aquarius.
In Aquarius we individuate. Somehow we have gotten all tied and tangled up with collective beliefs, society beliefs, other people measuring our worth, the pleasure that material things can bring. There is a great deal of focus for Aquarius in astrology on becoming an individuated personality. I don’t argue that, but there is a bigger picture here with this sign.
How can we discover this sense of no-Self if that sense of self is so intrinsically tied up with the world we live in? We are concerned to a greater or lesser degree with what others think of us, we are concerned with material survival, and we are concerned with meaning and purpose amongst many other things. In Aquarius it goes much further than simply becoming a rebel and going our own way – that is just the start.
I believe the end-point of Aquarius is to have individuated totally from all attachments to the collective, to the material world. I don’t believe that this means not being in it and engaged – quite the opposite. I believe the Aquarius intention has been achieved when the Soul is fully in and engaged with the world and life, but completely detached from it. They are emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically present and engaged, but what happens does not matter. What happens and what unfolds has no direct impact on the substance or essence of that Soul at all. They are in the world, but not of the world.
This is the higher wisdom of Aquarius, I believe. And why is it so vital to arrive at this Aquarian place? Because if one tiny atom of that Soul is still affected or shaped by the world around them, there is a bond. That part of themselves has a certain conditional state – that it will respond this way or that way dependent on the environment around them. Still attached in some small way.
If we are to experience the no-Self, no-I state which is naturally present in all of us, all the time, it requires total surrender of this bonded state. Non-surrender is a state that only comes about due to resistance. We can only surrender when 100% of us is in non-resistance. Even one atom of resistance can hold us in bondage to the world like a tiny bit of glue.
Once we have fully individuated – which means no part of us is in bondage, no part of our state is conditional upon the environment around us anymore, we are free to surrender fully. And surrender is not something we ‘do’. It is not something we arrive at, or reach. Surrender is the natural state we are all in, but is masked by the level of resistance and therefore bondage we have. We believe our reality is this bonded, conditional outer environment. Our true reality is this ever-present state of surrender and pure awareness.
Enlightenment is reality without resistance.
Aquarius has to do with the ‘without resistance’ bit. Each time we are guided or shaped by our outer world, we resist that natural pure state we are already in.
So yes, Aquarius is the Exile – but the one who exiles themselves from this conditional bondage with the world and society, not the one who exiles themselves from people or life.
What does all this have to do with the natal chart and Enlightenment?
Read PART 2 to find out!