Interpretating the Birth-Chart
at the Transpersonal Level - 1
While transpersonal astrology deals primarily with a dynamic process of transformation,
the birth-chart, I repeat, is the starting point
of that process. It is like a seed which will develop into a full-grown tree, but in the case of a human being, this "tree" has within itself the potentiality of becoming such a transparent structure that through it
the glowing form of a deva
(nature-spirit or dryad) may be able to reveal itself and, by so doing, affect and "spiritualize" the surrounding "forest" of mankind. A deva is a personification of a particular current of life-energy, which in its primary nature is a differentiated aspect of solar energy. A human being is a particular aspect of Humanity-as-a-whole which, spiritually considered, is the planetary Being that encompasses all that exists within the field of activity and consciousness of Earth, Gaya.
Transpersonal astrology is essentially concerned with the possibility, inherent in every human newborn, of achieving a state of symbolic "transparency" enabling the spiritual power that archetypal Man represents to radiate through him or her, and to do so consciously and as an individual form of selfhood. This possibility can be said to be inherent in the human seed (the fecundated ovum), yet its actualization
depends entirely on the fact of being born as a baby within a collective society with a particular culture
. Left alone on a desert island, the newborn would die, or if — as apparently has happened — a baby were to be adopted by an animal able and willing to provide milk and protection, the child would grow as an animal in whom no self-conscious mind could develop. Without such a mind, there is no actual and effective humanhood
This is why the moment of birth (the first breath) is used in the practice of astrology rather than the difficult-to-ascertain moment of conception. An embryo is not "human" in the strict sense of the term. One might say it is "alive", just as a seed is alive — but a human being is not merely
a living being. It is, in the broadest sense of the term, mind in the process of development — a process which may lead to individualization, and on the basis of individual selfhood, to a transindividual state of consciousness and activity.
This process of mental development is complex and at first totally conditioned by culture. The first phase of the process produces a personal psyche which results, on the one hand, from the passive acceptance of family and sociocultural values and goals and, on the other hand, from a self-assertive and rebellious drive for independence which is the central factor in the formation of an ego, as I have defined the term. At the individual level, the drive for independence becomes the center of the field of consciousness, the "I". But in the process of individualization, a polarization occurs; symbolically speaking, two "areas" are formed in the total field of the personality — the field of consciousness centered in the "I", and the soul.(1
) The soul retains strong links with the "lower collectivity" — the culture-whole and its collective assumptions and traditions — but it can also become a quiet lake upon which the presence of "higher collectivity" will be able to reflect itself, generating in the whole personality exalting or disturbing feeling-intuitions through significant dreams or so-called "peak -experiences".
Whatever form the processes of personal growth and individualization take, they have a starting point and, as we have just seen, the birth-chart represents this "first point" of human existence. The birth-chart, the positions of the planets and their complex geometrical relationships (astrological "aspects") within the framework defined by the natal horizon and meridian, have to be studied. This study deals with the static
aspect of astrology, whereas progressions and transits refer to its dynamic and transformative
aspect. But even the apparently static features of a birth-chart can also be understood as a mere snapshot freezing an unceasing process of cosmic change within which planets, stars, and galaxies pursue their cyclic courses. No absolute
beginning or end can be attributed to this process, yet human beings instinctively think of an at least relative beginning, the act of divine creation, as they project their experience of birth and death upon the universe.
The birth of a human being is the "relative" beginning of a process which, from the transpersonal point of view, can have an illumined and translucent end. This end is conditioned, but not determined, by the birth-chart as a whole. In order to help an individual to work consciously toward such an end, the astrologer using a transpersonal approach should be able to see the planetary components of the birth-chart in a new light.
Cf. my use of this term in Chapter 5. Return
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