Do you see no way out from your challenging natal placements? You may have an intellectual understanding of your natal square or opposition — and it’s all well and good to say, “I’ll just channel this energy into a healthier behavior that’s still ‘true’ to the meaning of the aspect” — but how exactly do you do that?
Say you have problematic behaviors that you repeat over and over. You may be continually drawn to addicts or abusers or moochers, or find yourself in friendships with women who try to top you or steal your boyfriend, or you get love addicted over and over, driving past your boyfriend’s house six times a day. It doesn’t matter what the pattern is, so much as this: as hard as you try to change your behavior, you just can’t make much progress. You’ve tried psychotherapy, self help books … the list goes on. Is it the power of the planetary aspect, or the fact that the more you repeat the pattern, the more your neural connections get reinforced? If you keep riding in the same groove, it becomes more and more difficult to forge a different path.
One solution is to look at the many permutations or expressions of an aspect. Take the two planets involved in your challenging aspect, and draw two columns. Under each planet, write down every possible meaning associated with it. You can match every manifestation in Column A (say, Venus) with every manfestation in Column B (Saturn). [I learned this two-column technique from Sue Tompkins in Aspects in Astrology. (See page 63 of Element Books, 1989.) You can buy a book like Key Words for Astrology (by Hajo Banzhaf and Anna Haebler) to use as a reference.] Inevitably, you will find “healthy” and “unhealthy” manifestions of every aspect, since every planet has its light and dark side. For example, “steady, serious commitment in relationship” can be an asset, while “witholding affection” is a liability. Is recovery as simple as choosing a “healthy” combination of influences and then forcing yourself to change your behavior to be in alignment with that expression?
The problem is that many of us don’t have the vocabulary to change our behaviors. To use the Saturn-Venus example: it’s one thing to be committed to a partner, it’s another to actually make that work, especially if you keep sabotaging your relationships by not telling your sweetie you love him, or by being rejecting or cold. You just can’t help yourself!
Astrology is just the starting point for healing. It points the way, but it doesn’t do the work. Astrology is primarily an intellectual art/science, and true healing relies on emotional and somatic (bodily-based) transformation.
Here are some tools to help you find a way out:
- Psychotherapy. I’m biased, because I earned an advanced degree in counseling and was in therapy for many years. If you are with a very good psychoanalytically-influenced psychotherapist, she will not just listen to you talk about your problems — she will bring attention to the relationship in the room, i.e., the one you have with her. Inevitably, whatever problems you have with people in the “real world,” you will bring into the psychotherapeutic relationship. You will (unconsciously) try to get her to treat you in a specific (familiar) way, one that is usually based on your relationships with your primary caretakers. Through studying the dynamics in this relationship, you have the potential to heal these patterns, partly because she does not respond the usual way to whatever behaviors you use to elicit, say, abusive or patronizing behavior from her.
- Study the natal charts of famous people who have similar aspects to yours. If you have access to a database like AstroDataBank, you can sort by aspects, and find, for example, many famous people who have (or had) Venus in hard aspect to Saturn. Read their biographies, identify this archetypal pattern and see how they dealt with it. (I will admit that I have not practiced what I preach here, but I think it can open up possibilities for you.)
- Engage in healing or spiritual modalities that are congruent with the outer planet in your natal aspect. Pluto is in my First House, and I have found that Plutonic practices are healing for me. I cannot articulate exactly how they have transformed my life, but I do know that if I were not doing them on a regular basis I would be much worse off than I am now! Two practices that have worked for me are Holotropic Breathwork and the Five Rhythms. I have been doing the latter for about four years, and I truly believe I am honoring Pluto by totally letting go and surrendering to whatever sh*t needs to come out (over the course of 2 hours of intense movement). Other Plutonic practices might include shamanism or magick. Uranian practices might include being a riot grrrl or activist, creating shocking art, using technology (hacking, virtual worlds) to alter your state of consciousness, inventing. Neptunian practices can include meditation, selfless service, chanting, the use of music/art/film/hallucinogens to transform your consciousness.
Unless you are “saved” by the grace of God — a spiritual awakening of the kind that relieved Bill W. of his alcoholism — you will need to apply lots of hard work to the task of healing. As discouraged as you may feel at times, just pick yourself back up after you have fallen.