In a letter written by Jung to Freud a hundred years ago he explains his views on ‘astro-mythology’ as he termed it then. He sees that the Zodiac is an imaginal projection of the human psyche on to the heavens. You can see what he means. There is clearly an analogy between the process of human birth, maturity and death, and the rising, culmination and setting of celestial bodies. And, incidentally, since these bodies rise again it seems quite legitimate to infer that we too are reborn.
Those of us who speak the words of projection claim, by doing so, a position as spokesperson for a small part of the collective unconscious. For thousands of years a small number of people in their community took it upon themselves to keep alive the ongoing evolutionary interpretations of what the Zodiac means. It is happening still and embracing larger numbers of people than ever, and expanding in depth too. There is great subtlety brought to bear on planetary meanings, signs, houses, aspects, Sabians, and so very much more.
It is our task as part of this powerful tide of opinion to do two things: First and foremost to keep it alive, secondly to express through these symbols our best hope for the future. Astrologers carry exceptional weight especially when it is considered quite how ill-defined, ambiguous and unproven the concepts that we juggle with are. Yet, by the million, clients come and change their perceptions, and sometimes decisions, as a direct result of a consultation.
There is not one placement or aspect that is inherently bad news – each one can be interpreted in a helpful way. Life includes struggle and without it would lack meaning and be devoid of purpose. So challenging aspects are exactly what is wanted at certain times because without them we could not struggle. Deep emotions, troubles and even grief can be seen as important, helpful parts of the larger life-journey that we are all on.
I once witnessed a mature woman astrologer interpreting the chart of a young single woman and she actually said this: “You will not ever settle in a relationship with x planet in y house”. I was so angry with her that I actually interrupted the reading and told the young client how better to see that aspect in an entirely positive light. I also explained to the older woman what the phrase ‘black magic’ means. Of course we all must face our demons at some point – and we can guess what kind of demons they might be by looking at the horoscope – so the astrologer has a duty to help the client come to terms with the darker side of their character – but this can be done with humour and empathy, and above all else with a positive approach. It is our job to help people not curse them.
When we study aspects we use a degree of inexactitude. For example, we might say Moon is square Venus when the first is at 13 Pisces and the second at 15 Gemini. Orbs address the question of how wide is an allowable level of difference between the numbers; the orb is the size of the gap between actual and exact. There is no agreed definition of what is permissible, and we have to make up our own minds about how wide we choose them to be.
This applies as much to transits as it does to birth charts, so the exact conjunction of say Saturn and Pluto, which occurs on 12 January 2020 may not be the moment when its influence shows - it almost certainly will not be. In fact it could be months earlier or later, and will very likely be obscure until astrological historians look back from a future date.
In a birth chart reading we all have our own methods and principles, so each of us decides how big an orb to have, which affects the lines printed on the chart, and how much importance to give each of them.
Personally, I use tight orbs...something like this:
Conjunction 10 degrees; Opposition 8; Square 5; Trine 4; Sextile 3; Semi-square 2; Quincunx 1.5 and yet other astrologers, even the big names, vary up to quite large ones. It depends on several factors I would say:
Mars in Capricorn
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Sometimes grumpy and hard, this is the champion of endurance tests, the uncompromising goat – patient, reliable, disciplined and faithful, whose strength grows as it is challenged. In and out of the bedroom, after careful thought and with extraordinary stamina, its actions are decisive, irreversible and intractable. Quite capable of cold, merciless anger, this is the most formidable long-term opponent, employing a mixture of Machiavellian strategy, commonsense and resilient doggedness to achieve its purpose no matter what resistance in encountered.
I recommend this website as an important resource for anyone wishing to study history from an astrological perspective.
Scientists and other materialists disparage the validity of astrology because it does not conform to their methodology; yet esotericists awaken the part of mind that goes beyond limits of rationality – as of course does love, genius and imagination. The learning process is not especially esoteric at all; it conforms to normal learning practices. We need to apply ourselves to study what others think, then to find new interpretations and understandings and bring our own knowledge into some useful application. We trust that our point of view is valid, even if it contradicts accepted ideas – despite the danger of affirming a foolish understanding simply through lack of skills and insight. We address this point here, by offering a way to track the transit of slower moving planets through the individual degrees and keep a diary of the events and feelings we encounter. I suggest that at first we include only Saturn – which crosses a few degrees per month – and Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – which typically show in only one or two.
In order for this process to be instructive it is necessary to come to terms with each of the variables: a) The planets’ core meanings in our lives; b) The qualities of each stage of a transit; c) The significance of personal events; d) The mystery of the Sabian Symbol for each degree.
Stages of a transit
A planet appears to move both forward and backwards, and so typically crosses the same degree three times, although it can be once or five times. Here are the nine stages typical of a transit.
Stage 1 Approach Forewarning
Stage 2 First hit Shock
Stage 3 Moving away Assimilation
Stage 4 Retrograde approach Reminder
Stage 5 Second hit Echo
Stage 6 Going back Revision
Stage 7 Second approach Preparation
Stage 8 Third hit Realization
Stage 9 Moving on Application