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astrotherapy

The value of astrology. . .is not its power to predict what the gods have in store for humans, but its ability to reveal the god-like powers that reside in  the depths of every human being.  --Glen Perry, Ph.D.

Questions of truth or falsity belong to the realm of the rational and are irrelevant to the value of the imaginal. . . .To insist that Moon/Saturn contacts must needs be depressive or Mars/Pluto explosive (in other words, actually true) is to kill the imaginal and rob it of its power to be  therapeutic. . . .Astrology viewed as an imaginal discipline conveniently avoids all questions of whether it is true or not, diffusing much of its critics [sic] furor. --Brad Kochunas

I do not know why I believe what I believe, as it comes from the heart and not the head. --Brad Kochunas

Astrology is part of our past, but astrologers have given no plausible reason why it should have a role in our future. --I. W. Kelly

Astrotherapy uses astrology as a guide to the transformation of personality, to self-actualization and self-transcendence. Astrology is studied for its power to aid in psychological healing and growth. As far as I know, there are no licensed "astrotherapists." The term is used to refer to counselors and therapists of all sorts who use astrology in their counseling and therapy.

According to defenders of astrotherapy, most critics of astrology misunderstand how human destiny is actually linked to the heavens. Frederick G. Levine, author of The Psychic Sourcebook: How to Choose and Use a Psychic (New York: Warner Books, 1988), claims that modern astrologers are more holistic than their ancient counterparts. The contemporary astrologer doesn't believe in anything so crude as direct causal connection between the heavenly bodies and a person's destiny. He or she believes in the interrelatedness of all things.

[T]here are larger patterns of energy that govern all interactions in the universe and...these patterns or cycles are reflected in the movements of stars and planets in the same way they are reflected in the movements of people and cultures. Thus it is not that planetary motions cause events on earth, but simply that those motions are indicators of universal patterns.

To back up his claim, Levine cites Linda Hill, whose credentials he establishes by noting that she has been "a New York astrological consultant of 14 years' [sic] experience." Says Ms. Hill, "I don't think anyone knows exactly why it works; it just works. Carl Jung used the term synchronicity. It's simply a synchronization....We are somehow synchronized to the celestial patterns that were present at our birth."

In short, astrotherapy uses astrology as a kind of projective personality test, useful for unleashing one's hidden creative powers, for delving into the subconscious mind to discover hidden beliefs, drives, truths, and perhaps even one's cosmic synchronicity!

Dane Rudhyar is seen as the father of astrotherapy. In the 1930s he applied Jungian psychological concepts to astrology. He liked Jung's notion that the psyche seeks psychic wholeness or "individuation," a process Rudyhar believed is evident in the horoscope.

Rudyhar's work is carried on today by Glen Perry, who boasts a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Saybrook Institute in San Francisco, a regionally accredited (WASC) graduate school "dedicated to fostering the full expression of the human spirit and humanistic values in society."  In astrotherapy, says Dr. Perry, "astrology is used to foster empathy for the client's internal world and existing symptoms, and promote positive personality growth and fulfillment." He thinks astrology is both a theory of personality and a diagnostic tool, yet he provides neither arguments nor evidence to support this notion. Here is an example of how astrotherapy uses astrology:

...Saturn opposed Venus in the natal chart indicates not simply "misfortune in love," but the potential to love deeply, enduringly, and responsibly along with the patience and determination to overcome obstacles. While realization of this potential may require a certain amount of hardship and suffering, to predict only hardship and suffering with no understanding of the potential gains involved is shortsighted at best and damaging at worst.

How Perry knows this is not made clear. Other claims, equally profound, do not require argument or evidence because they are vacuous: "the horoscope symbolizes the kind of adult that the individual may become." Still other claims are nearly unintelligible: "What the individual experiences as a problematic situation or relationship can be seen in the chart as an aspect of his or her own psyche. In this way, the horoscope indicates what functions have been denied and projected, and through what circumstances (houses) they will likely be encountered." "Simply put," says Perry, "the goal is to help the client realize the potentials that are symbolized by the horoscope." What systematic analysis and methodological tools he used to arrive at this notion are not mentioned, much less how one could go about verifying the specific symbolizations of any given horoscope. He does, however, seem to rely heavily upon questionable psychological concepts promoted by Jung and Freud.

Another astrotherapist, Brad Kochunas, makes it clear that one of the chief virtues of applying astrology to the inner life rather than to outward patterns of behavior, is that it takes astrology out of the realm of the scientific, where it has not fared too well when it has been thoroughly examined. Kochunas calls this concern with the psyche "the imaginal perspective" and says it

is not concerned with whether something is true or not but rather with its usefulness for the task at hand. Questions of truth or falsity belong to the realm of the rational and are irrelevant to the value of the imaginal. It is the functional validity and not the factual validity which is primary for the imaginal perspective. Does something work for a person? Is it useful in the sense of providing depth, meaning, value, or purpose to an individual or community? If so, then there is little call for its cultural degradation, it has power.

Here he proudly cites Barbara Sproul's Primal Myths (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979). At least Kochunas, unlike Perry, firmly locates astrotherapy in mythology and proudly proclaims it to be outside of the realm of science. His message seems to be very simple and straightforward: If you can find satisfied customers, you have a valid myth.

Max Heindel, on the other hand, extends astrotherapy to all forms of healing and calls it a science, declaring it to have two basic laws: "the Law of Compatability [sic]" and "the law of Systemic Receptibility." A brief quotation from Heindel's work will demonstrate to the astute reader why I will not bother to review these "laws."

At the time of conception the Moon was in the degree which ascends at birth (or its opposite); the vital body was then placed in the mother's womb as a matrix into which the chemical elements forming our dense body are built. The vital body emits a sound similar to the buzz of a bumblebee. During life these etheric sound waves attract and place the chemical elements of our food so that they are formed into organs and tissues. So long as the etheric sound waves in our vital body are in harmony with the keynote of the archetype, the chemical elements wherewith we nourish our dense body are properly disposed of and assimilated, and health prevails no matter whether we are stout or thin, of rosy complexion or sallow, or whatever the outward appearance. But the moment the sound waves in the vital body vary from the archetypal key-note, this dissonance places the chemical elements of our food in a manner incongruous with the lines of force in the archetype. . . .

The general rule is: From the time of the New Moon to that of the Full Moon stimulants produce the greatest effect and sedatives are weakest. Decrease the dose of stimulants and increase that of sedatives. The exception is: When the Moon increasing approaches a conjunction to Saturn give larger doses of stimulants and smaller doses of sedatives.

We are not told from what ancient spirit these theories were channeled and we are left to guess at the origin of such thoughts. One will search in vain for anything resembling ordinary science in Heindel's writings. One will find, however, a belief in the music of the spheres.

What is one to make of the new astrology which seems to place itself outside of the realm of empirical testing and outside of a concern for empirical truth or falsity? This is seen as progress by the astropsychologists, but for those of us who prefer our delusions to be rooted in terra firma, astrotherapy is just one more in a long line of  "crazy" therapies.

See also astrology, enneagram, and New Age psychotherapies.


further reading

articles

Dean, Geoffrey and Arthur Mather and Ivan W. Kelly, "Astrology," in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal, ed. G. Stein (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996).

Kelly, I. W. (1997) "Modern Astrology: A Critique," Psychological Reports (1997), 81, 1035-1066.

Kelly, I. W.  "Why Astrology Doesn't Work," Psychological Reports, 1998, 82, 527-546.

websites

A Transdisciplinary Approach to Science and Astrology by Alain Nègre, professor of Electronics.

Occult Principles of Health and Healing ch 11, "Astrology as an Aid to Healing," by Max Heindel (who thinks astrotherapy can heal the body)

Last updated 30-Dec-2013

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