In my rickety, but somewhat wiser old age, I may regret this blog post, but for now I’m committing to it like a good 3rd House Aries Moon should! It’s bold and risky, just the way Aries likes it. By the time you get to the end, you may wonder how on earth I can dare to shake up the solid foundations of astrology so brazenly. Well, I’ll offer up a few credentials. Five years of intense studying at two of the world’s finest schools, enough extra-curricular reading to qualify for three Masters, and a bank of rather unusual spiritual out of body experiences and intense mystical initiations and I’ve truly learned a thing or two! In essence, I learned by adding layer upon layer of complexity in the wisdom I gained, and then by pulling it all apart and letting it all go again. True wisdom is actually very simple.
Hundreds of seemingly disparate ideas began to all connect together like a seamless web. It was only when I read ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael A Singer, that the single notes of the harmony finally merged together into one beautiful chord. First, you must undergo the pilgrimage, in order to realise that the answer was right there at the start anyway!
When I started out on the rich road to astrology, and as I sat with my clients, they, and I, made one big assumption. That what we were looking at was a natal chart that reflected the map of the Soul. I think that’s correct to some degree, but what I noticed was that we had a belief that the chart was a deeper layer of that person. It seemed to represent a set of clues as to the true hidden nature of the person, as though we do not yet fully know ourselves. The more I worked with people, the more I observed that we are all characterised by one uniting principle. We all have problems, or a better way might be to say we all face challenges. These challenges seem to be metaphorical hurdles we must leap over before we can meet our whole, fulfilled Self. There’s a tendency to want to know ourselves better by having an astrology reading. It’s as if we believe our knowledge of ourselves is somehow incomplete, and we are seeking to get to know ourselves better through this tool. But what part of ourselves don’t we yet fully know? What is it we are looking for?
Spiritual teachings abound teach us that we are made up of two essential parts; the constructed personality and the indwelling, whole and complete witness. The personality is our performance on the stage of life, and the witness is the unchanging observer. The essence of most spiritual teachings is that we must become fully aware of the witness.
Singer’s message is simple and it permeates through every page of all the books he’s written. He asks ‘how do you know you are feeling sad?’ Or, insert any emotion or thought or physical experience at the end of that question. It’s simple, and yet incredibly liberating. If we are aware of an emotion or a thought, then that awareness must be separate to the experience. That awareness must be who we truly are.
But when you sit with an astrologer, generally, you’re not looking to find where your awareness is. What you’re doing is looking for more and more parts of your personality so you can build a fuller picture of who you are. You’re looking for parts of your personality that seem hidden or mysterious. But why? I sense we are all driven by a relentless need to know who we truly are. We all sense there’s a greater part of ourselves, a spiritual part, and we’re all looking for it in our own way. But let me ask this: how can the watcher find the watcher? How can the looker, look at the looker? That spiritual self that we sense in ourselves, is this ever-present watcher/witness or looker. If the watcher is searching for itself, then it will certainly never find it! We can only watch what is not us. Much the same as it’s totally impossible (without a mirror) to look at your own eyes, it’s also impossible to look at yourself.
This is what we use a natal chart for, we use it to try and look at ourselves more clearly, more deeply, but all we will ever see, is what is not truly us. So if the natal chart does not contain, cannot contain the essence of our true spiritual Self, what does it contain?
In my view, it contains the diagram of the constructed personality – otherwise known as our Karma! The natal chart is a diagram of the non-self. I believe it contains the entirety of our own personal mental image of who we are, and that’s all it is – a mental image. Much like a software programme contains the coding that constructs the front-facing design of the programme, a natal chart contains the complex mental programming that makes up our multi-faceted personality. In this way, yes we can look to the natal chart to get to know ourselves more, but do we really want to get to know the non-Self more? Or would we prefer to discover our true Self? I don’t believe we will ever find our true Self while we continue to use the natal chart as a way to keep building the empire of our own personality. Here’s the first punchline:
If we are not prepared to let go of ourselves, and our self-image in such a way that it feels earth-shattering, as though we are dying, we will never get within light years of our true selves.
In my field I’m surrounded by people (myself included) that collect natal chart placements like those sew-on badges you get at girl scouts. We go around declaring ‘I’m a Gemini Moon so I…’, insert suitable verbs on the end! Useful, if you do wish to continue building the empire that is ‘yourpersonality.inc’!
There comes a point when one realises that the only way out of suffering, and the only way to discover your true inner spiritual essence is through a monumental letting go of your entire constructed personality. Astrology, in the wrong hands, is a dangerous tool because it reinforces individual, unique personality like nothing else! If we provide readings that show people their uniqueness, their individuality and how they can be more ‘them’, then we are cultivating a generation of super-personalities that will never get within a light year of their own true essence.
So where on earth does all this leave us? Should I throw away my astrology hat and call it a day? No. Here’s why. Because in all my adventures through the world of ‘self-improvement’, I’ve never come across any other tool that can get us as close to our spiritual essence. But here’s the second punch line:
We must use astrology not to continue constructing the individual separate self, but to help us become aware of this separate self, and deconstruct it piece by piece, until all that remains is the witness.
To help illustrate this, let’s use the wisdom of Aquarius, Pisces and a 1000 piece puzzle. If you jump ahead straight into the personality dissolution of Pisces, without first totally individuating – you will drown. You will merge into Oneness with no solid sense of self. In other words, sure you’ll be at one with God, but you won’t know it, because there’ll be no witness. Here comes the true meaning of Aquarius: Aquarius isn’t about individuating from other personalities. It’s about individuating and breaking free from your own constructed personality. Subjective attachment is the game of the constructed personality, and objective detachment is the game of the fully individuated being. Once you have individuated in this way, you can then fully release and let go of your old constructed personality in Pisces, leaving you with only the great witness – your true Self. You will be enlightened – and, you’ll be aware that you’re enlightened! If you complete 950 pieces of a 1000 piece puzzle and then break it all up again, you’ll never know the full picture. If you complete all 1000 pieces and then break it up, the puzzle has gone, but you’re now conscious of the full picture. We need to get the full picture, before we can totally let go and ‘die before we die’.
And this is where astrology and the natal chart makes its comeback. The natal chart is simply the 1000 piece puzzle. Once you have all the pieces, it’s time to face monumental Aries courage and release it all. It’s time to wave goodbye to your natal chart, and to your entire personality. Granted, 99% of us will spend our entire life as the puzzle builder, and only a few will realise the inherent futility of having a personality, and break the puzzle up. You do not reach or find your true, spiritual essence, you simply remove everything that’s preventing you from experiencing it.
So, we can use a natal chart to show us all the missing pieces of the puzzle. Mercury in the first house square Pluto in the 9th for example, might communicate that we have a few unconscious belief systems about the nature of our identity, and this needs bringing to light. But here’s the key: we are not ‘bringing things to light’ in order to keep them and add them to our growing empire of personality. We are bringing them to light in order to fully release them – both the so-called negative traits we find, and all the positive ones too. What’s mapped out in our natal chart is not hidden parts of our whole self, but rather what’s in the way of the already whole, complete and present witness that is Self. You cannot look for yourself in a natal chart, you can only look for the mental images that are in the way of your true Self.
Let’s finish up with a little more wisdom from Singer. In his book he writes: ‘Your consciousness is actually experiencing your mental model of reality, not reality itself’. Sounds suspiciously like the 3rd and 6th house doesn’t it? I have another blog on this topic, but it’s my view that the entire natal chart is a mental model of reality and the gold at the end of the rainbow lies tucked away in the 6th house and in Virgo. When we strip ourselves of a constructed personality, we can finally witness reality as it actually is, and within that unfiltered, unembellished reality lies the pure witness Self.
He also writes: ‘what differentiates a conscious, centred being from a person who is not so conscious, is simply the focus of their awareness. It’s not a difference in the consciousness itself. All consciousness is the same’. Our awareness is pulled in every which direction and a natal chart is where your awareness is being most strongly pulled. This constant tugging in the form of planets, signs and aspects, lures you from the seat of pure consciousness. Our only task is to resist the lure, and return to the seat of pure consciousness.
The truth is that most if us do not want to surrender our entire personality, because we are not aware of there being anything ‘left’ afterwards. Fair enough I say. Some will play a very deceptive strategy to keep hold of their personality, they will teach themselves all about the ego and become very spiritual and practice constant ego release. But here’s the thing, these folk are now giving themselves a new personality label. It matters not if you are known as a hedonistic drunk, or a spiritual guru, personality is personality, identity is identity. What does having no personality feel like? I have only merely glimpsed it. At first it feels like death. Then, it is simply an all-pervading, all-permeating presence. It feels like life. You hold onto nothing, and every moment is fresh and brand new.
Radical, earth-shattering surrender is to let go of all personality, to dare to become no-one at all. Astrology can be a dangerous way to keep reinforcing the ego, or, if used wisely, it can be a handy checklist of all the specific elements of personality that for you, hold the strongest lure, and that need surrendering. My Neptune in the 12th house in Sagittarius can either be ‘I am a deeply spiritual, seeking person’, or it can be recognising that I need to completely surrender that identity, or need. You just keep on surrendering until there’s nothing of ‘you’ left. Once you’ve had a glimpse of the so-called ‘nothing’, you realise that the nothing you so fear, is in fact the ‘everything’ that you have been looking for!
I’m going to leave you lingering with three more poignant quotes from Singer’s book. I’ll let you ponder on just how deeply they connect with the practice of astrology.
‘What if consciousness were to remove its focus from your personal set of thoughts, emotions and sensory input? Would you become untethered from the bonds of your personal self?’
‘True freedom is very close; it’s just on the other side of the walls of your house. Enlightenment is a very special thing. But in truth, one should not focus on it. Focus instead, on the walls of your own making that are blocking out the light.‘
‘Who are you that is lost and trying to build a concept of yourself in order to be found?’