Jung’s method revolved around his discovery of medieval alchemy as a metaphor for psychological process, the “opus” of turning lead into gold, which is the work of a lifetime—turning the raw material of unconscious dimensions of character into a wider locus of the self, not entirely controlled by the conscious ego, but consciously engaged in an on-going process.
Another ancient tradition which was foundational to Jung’s formative thinking, though hovered in the background of his theory, is astrology. While Jung often used astrology in working with his patients, and was a key forerunner of 'psychological astrology' within the astrological world, he was intent on the project of creating his language of analytical psychology, which would not be inimical to the scientific milieu. Because alchemy was not a living cultural practice, it could be used purely as metaphor. In contrast, astrology was alive and well, and subject to the prejudices of the dominant cultural values. While his references to astrology as a symbolic tradition throughout his work are numerous, he avoided directly utilizing the language of astrology in his psychological formulations.
Astrologers instead took up the incorporation of Jung’s psychology. His contemporary, Dane Rudhyar, applied Jung's method of translating archetypal systems and symbolic images into the language of psychological process to traditional astrology, which influenced a line of Jungian analysts, astrologers, and archetypal philosophers. Among many besides Rudhyar who have influenced my work are Liz Greene, Karen Hamaker-Zondag, Alice O’Howell, Charles Poncé, Darby Costello, Stephen Arroyo, Robert Hand, Erin Sullivan, Clare Martin, Richard Tarnas, and Nicholas Campion. Though many Jungian psychoanalysts are familiar with astrology and use it in their work, its language continues to function within its own rich domain, and has never separated from its ancient roots wherein matter and mind share a continuous field of energy. This is its value—in symbolically diagraming universal qualities of energy, or archetypes, which activate our individual consciousness. The complex nature of astrology’s function in our current psyche and culture—its regressive pull towards magical determinism as well as its progressive challenge to be in a more conscious partnership with the life forces operating within us as well as around us—is the subject of my ongoing interest and research.
My method of using astrology within my analytic practice follows these formats: If an analytic client is knowledgeable about astrology, I can work with them psychoanalytically using their chart to the degree they find useful. If an analytic client is new to astrology, but interested in working with it, I will first refer them to a professional astrologer for a general consultation, and we can then use it according to their level of knowledge. With an existing client, I avoid shifting out of our therapeutic relationship to give astrological readings in the traditional sense, though if they want to use their chart to gain insight into a particular problem, I can look at a particular aspect of their chart—a natal configuration, or a current transit—and incorporate these insights into our ongoing work. Outside my psychoanalytic practice, I will do chart consultations from an analytic perspective, focussing on a psychological issue a client wants to address; follow-up sessions are available.
The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism 15C