Astrology

The Ace of Pentacles

I have been realizing how indebted I am to one particular tarot website for the interpretation of the Ace of Pentacles in the tarot deck.  All of the other cards-- and I'm particularly interested in the Minor Arcana here-- I have come to an understanding of through the Enneagram, particularly thanks to Sandra Maitri's in-depth explanation of the nine Enneagram types' psychological patterns, but the Aces don't lend themselves that easily to transfering meaning from the Enneagram to Tarot.

The Astrological Money Report

 Image from astro.com

Image from astro.com

Everyone who wants to understand their gifts and abilities with respect to wealth-building should get a copy of their astrological money report.  I had bought mine last year from the notable astrological report provider Astrodienst (astro.com), but the quality wasn't that good.   Their personality and relationship reports were good, so I was dissapointed the money one wasn't as good.  Whoever translated wasn't a native English speaker.

Then yesterday, I get an e-mail saying that they've revamped the report and re-written it so it's more clear.  I read it through today (20 pages, with wide margins), and I was way more impressed with the writing quality. 

It's 50 bucks US, which is going to be about 65 dollars Canadian.  As an astrologer told me once, it's our birthright to be able to provide for ourselves and build, with our gifts and abilities, a stable financial future for ourselves and our loved ones.  This report is useful for helping you understand what you bring to the table, what you value, how you make spending decisions, and how disciplined you are at saving, just to name a few things.

Worth it.

Your Astrological Sign versus Your Enneagram Type

 Shadow qualities of the Leo. I have this magnet on my fridge.

Shadow qualities of the Leo. I have this magnet on my fridge.

I find it fascinating to note how peoples' Enneagram type is contained or at conflict with their astrological birth chart. You can have synergy between the two, or you can have a real battle to get the shadow stuff integrated into a workable dynamic where you can get some flow in your life. 

Someone could be having a veritable war within themselves if they've got two very different, conflicting energies that don't get along, and it can result in a stop-and-go quality to your life's flow where nothing really gets off the ground.  On the other hand, they can have complementary energies and life unfolds without much inner searching.  For example, Donald Trump is a fun-loving Gemini with an ascendant in pushy Leo and a Sexual Enneagram Type 8- there are quite a few overlapping traits those three archetypes share.  Not much reason to sit and ponder his approach to life because there's little inner conflict prompting him to do so. 

There are many tools you can use in coaching.  Obviously I think everyone in the mental health profession should know the Enneagram, but astrology can step in and help sometimes.  You can describe to someone the essence qualities of their Enneagram type, and their levels of health, and they can develop an awareness of their red flag moments, they can develop an awareness of their bodies and be able to "catch themselves in the act", (they can even learn about the Greek/Egyptian shape and volume associations and claim them as their birthright), but just like the unfolding process is sped up and enriched by adding the Enneagram to a meditation practice because it gives you a visual -the map of the psychic structure that you're unfolding- so also astrology can also speed up and enrich the process by helping you understand the energy with which you're unfolding.  Libras unfold on their tiptoes, dancing to some kind of romantic operatic ballet, Leos unfold in a pimped out Jeep driven by frat boys with a bunch of girls in bikinis in the back seat, Scorpios unfold in a safe with multiple combination locks, and Virgos unfold in an Amish dress with a full-length slit up the side.  And you can be male or female, and any Enneagram type with any instinctual stack and still have this other energy to reckon with.

I have four planets in brash and loud Leo, but you wouldn't have been able to tell I had any Leo at all until maybe a few years ago because that big energy was so curtailed by the introverted, inward-directed movement of the Self-Preservation Enneagram Type 4.  I knew I was intense, but I didn't know how to give expression to it.  Type 4, especially the Self-Preservation subtype is underexpressive, melancholic and self-doubting; Leo is arrogant, the life of the party and the center of attention.  You have to figure out how to have these two huge archetypal energies work together in sync within you.  It's learning to dance with your shadow instead of this jerky movement back and forth between repressing/disowning your shadow, and wanting so badly to express it and having it coming out in awkward ways.

Your astrological sign is another level of archetypes you have within you.  You're complicated.  If anyone knows another good way to describe the interplay between the two systems, I'm curious and I'd like to hear about it.

Why I use Tarot Cards

  Tarot cards are an intuitive way of getting a beat on the energy of a particuar situation.   Image from Fortune Magazine. 

Tarot cards are an intuitive way of getting a beat on the energy of a particuar situation.  Image from Fortune Magazine. 

This summer, my landlady needed a cleaning agent to kill some pests, and I knew I had exactly what she needed, although it was nowhere to be found in any of my likely storage places.  A few days after I'd promised her I could help her, I decided "what could it hurt if I asked my tarot cards?"  I did a three-card reading and the answer I got was that it was "behind [or after] addictive substances."  I don't have any addictive substances amongst my possessions- illegal anyways- but the closest I could think of was wine bottles, so I went to the storage room and checked at the back of a shelf behind some bottles, and voila- there it was.

Two days ago, I read an article on Fortune Magazine about how more and more executives are turning to psychics, astrologers, and tarot card readers to make important business decisions.  From the perspective of the service provider, this is a good business to be in if you know your shit.  Some of them charge up to 800$ an hour to give their clients insight into their competitions' business.  I have worked with three astrologers- one of them studied with Carl Jung's daughter, and she charges 400$ CDN for 80 minutes.  Most of her clients are executives, as she inadvertently revealed in a huff of impatience with me one session.  She can afford to be picky; she books a year in advance, and she expresses a certain displeasure with you if you don't take the opportunities that she tells you about.  Mr. M and I were referred to her by a former Pepsi exec and Fortune 500 VP that we met at a workshop.  He'd used her to get through a divorce and found her to be extremely helpful.

Through experience, I have learned to take my horoscopes with a healthy dose of salt and rely more on personalized readings from astrologers who are actually reading my chart.  I do really like one website, though, for their horoscopes: astrolis.com.  One day this past May, after having read their horoscopes for a good year, I decided to click on the "tarot" section, wondering what baloney they were going to try and feed me, and when I clicked on the three cards, three cartooney pictures were revealed.  I read the descriptions beside the pictures, and the sentiments in the card mirrored the general gist of what I was going through, so I asked another question and clicked on the cards again. 

That was the beginning of my adventure with tarot cards.  Since then, they've forwarned me about a break-up, warned me what it would be like if I went back to an old boyfriend, told me [correctly] that my next boyfriend would be younger than me, helped me understand why someone was being cold with me, pointed me in the right career direction, and helped me make good decisions while apartment hunting.  Right now I'm using them to find something else that got lost last summer.  They can be insanely tricky to read due to multiple meanings, or their meaning can be clear as day- the more you use them and sit and think about their meanings, the better reader you become. 

Yes, there's a lot of hokiness out there, and you do need to be careful.  My ex and I visited a palm reader for kicks last summer in an old, smoky, run-down house in Philadelphia, and she was way out to lunch.  On the other hand, I had a tarot card reading a month ago, and she was off on some things [and I knew it], and embarassingly accurate in others.  You can find quacks and frauds just as easily in a financial planning company or a law office as you can in a psychic's youtube channel.  You can also find people who are grounded and wise in both places.  Neither needs to be discounted wholesale, you need to follow your gut- ask a trusted friend for a referral.  And of course, you get what you pay for.  400$ or 800$ an hour is going to give you much better quality information from someone with much more experience than someone who charges 50$ an hour.

Open letter to the National Science Foundation

I was watching some Bill Nye videos online today, and there was a dismissive comment made about astrology being a pseudo-science.  I guess I'm really late to the astrology table and I haven't learnt to cower in fear before the scientific community, I suppose, so I was really surprised.  Everyone I've introduced astrology to has had their jaws drop to the floor with how accurate it is.  So I decided to google, "Astrology pseudo-science", and it turns out I'm on the wrong side of current thinking on astrology among scientists.  Well, I aim to change that. 

Tonight I wrote a letter to the National Science Foundation, who, every second year, survey Americans on, among other things their views and opinions on scientific matters.  One question asks respondents, "Do you think astrology is scientific?"  And to the horror of the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, in 2014, 45% of Americans thought astrology was somewhat or very scientific. I admire these guys a lot, but I disagree with them on 1) the validity of the question's wording, and 2) their interpretation of the statistic.

What does it really mean to "believe in" astrology, and how can the NSF encourage a little more sanity and groundedness around Americans' spirituality?

Hi there, my name is Erin Mulligan and I'm the owner of Rhode and Company in Canada where we (I for the moment) advocate for better spiritual literacy.  We also advocate for scientific literacy, just so you know; we just believe one is no greater than the other. 

I have a suggestion for changes to the wording in your question on your Science and Engineering Indicators poll about opinions on astrology.
 

You ask if Americans think astrology is scientific, but my guess is you're actually trying to gauge if people think it's accurate, or useful, or if they make decisions based on what they learn from their chart.  Am I right?  Of course it's not scientific.  You'd have to change the definition of science in order for a wisdom tradition to squeeze into the Aristotilean delineation around logic and reasoning.  Asking if astrology is scientific is like asking if women are men.  Clearly they fall into very distinct categories; one is for knowing the outer world, and the other is for knowing the inner world and they use different skill sets entirely.  You certainly wouldn't use science to measure someone's emotional intelligence, so why is astrology- a beautiful, robust, and incredibly useful system being measured against its "male" counterpart? 

Carl Jung would have called these two categories I'm referring to as the masculine and feminine principle, or the animus and the anima; Asians would call it the yin and the yang.  My guess is it's probably a little out of science's grasp to try and measure a mystic tradition, so why go there?  As far as I know, astrology isn't trying to impress science, just like women aren't asking men, "Am I a legitimate human being?" and Italians aren't asking the French, "Are we French enough for you?"  Astrology is a language unto itself that takes many years to learn, and decades to master.

By selecting, "yes, I believe it's scientific" pollsters are opened up to guffaws by actual scientists like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, who know that you need to meet a certain set of standards to say something is scientifically valid- a legitimate pursuit, but not astrology's aim.  Asking people to judge if astrology is a science necessarily makes them look foolish because astrology is in an entirely different epistemology, just like the Buddhist practice of mindfulness is a third and equally powerful epistemology.

Self-knowledge correlates with higher emotional intelligence, which in turn correlates with better leadership skills and reported life happiness-- all skills neceessary for getting the world's population out of some of the toughest dillemmas it's ever faced.  And yet the inner world is a very vague and mysterious place sometimes.  Ask any wife if their husband can clearly articulate why they always [fill in the blank with something that annoys the hell out of them], or ask any man if their wife can do the same.  Just like women's medicine has always baffled male doctors, so we don't expect male scientists to automatically "get" a feminine spirituality*.  It takes a motivation to start with usually, like a divorce or a death in the family, or a serious illness, and then a journey begins.

Not only do we call on society to honor the male and female principle, but as Jung also said, we have both the feminine and masculine within each of us, meaning all of us have the impulse to explore and learn about our outer worlds, as much as to explore and learn about our interior world.  In men, the latter impulse is discouraged, as you are probably well aware, and as the numbers of STEM graduates reflect.  Making "believing in astrology" a lightning rod for scientists by getting pollsters to conflate it with science does nothing to encourage the self-knowledge journey (which, by the way, happens in men later in their careers, often as they're retiring and can't have the same impact as if their aha! moment happened in their 30's).

On the other hand!  We agree that making decisions based on horoscopes in the newspaper or online is quite a bad idea.  General horoscopes like that are written in very, very broad brushstrokes based on the 12 ancient archetypes.  Not always, but sometimes they can be quite accurate-- I got into astrology because I read a horoscope that said I was going to double-book myself that week, and that Wednesday, I actually triple-booked myself.  It made me do a double-take.  However, I have also then gone on to make the mistake of basing decisions on what I read on a horoscope from the internet, and now that I've learned my lesson, I just get readings done by a  professional astrologer which are more accurate because they have my specific birth data.  So I no more advocate for sloppy spiritual practices than you do for sloppy scientific ones.  My astrologer, by the way, studied with Carl Jung's daughter and is one of the most highly sought-after astrologers in the United States.  She was recommended to me by a male 50-something American angel investor, a former Fortune 50 executive who has his own spiritual practice now.


The mission of my company is to raise the profile of ancient self-knowledge traditions that grew out of Socrates' admonition to know yourself before pursuing any other kind of knowledge.  Science, math, and engineering are wonderful and meaningful pursuits, but in order for their practitioners to be fully "in touch" with reality, they need to be counterbalanced by the feminine principle of the dark, mysterious, inner, and the spiritual.  These characterisitics are notions that balance out the brazen, often unfounded over-the-top self-confidence and old-boys' club mentality that has gotten our environment into some pretty deep trouble.

In order to encourage thoughtfulness, groundedness, and sanity around spirituality, I ask you to please re-think how your astrology question is worded.  I believe you can make a difference in western mentality by changing it so people aren't forced to choose between astrology and science. 
 

All my best,

Erin Mulligan

Rhode and Company

 

*By calling astrology feminine, I don't mean to exclude men from the practice or benefits of astrology.  I just mean it calls for a kind of intuition that Jung associated with the anima.  Any man can develop it, just as any woman can develop characteristics associated with the animus.

Next step: Now that gay marriage is legal, let's go all the way with gender issues

I wrote this manifesto last night.  It started off that I was just going to write "I fucking love immigrants" somewhere on my site- I couldn't figure out where, so I was like, "I'm just going to write a manifesto, and I'll include that in there. (I don't know why but I just love immigrants sooo much.  They've added so much to Regina over the last 30 years.)  So but the rest is good too- that's my call-to-action for the Western world.

  Carl Jung recognized that we all have the male and female principle within us.  Maybe not like this.  Maybe in a more ethereal way.   Image unattributable because it's from one of those leech sites with all those ads.

Carl Jung recognized that we all have the male and female principle within us.  Maybe not like this.  Maybe in a more ethereal way.  Image unattributable because it's from one of those leech sites with all those ads.

1.  We call for equal status for science, math, logic, and capitalism on the one hand; and mysticism, the void, spirituality and myth on the other.  In Jungianism, these two elements are the animus and the anima; the male and female principles; in the Asian tradition, the yin and yang.  They both originate in similar times and cultural contexts, and they should be rejoined together after millenia of separation.  Neither is superior to the other, nor can they operate fully without the other.  Both are needed for balance in all areas of life. 

  Copernicus was a physician who studied astrology.  The two fields have a surprising amount of overlap.   Image from Wikipedia.

Copernicus was a physician who studied astrology.  The two fields have a surprising amount of overlap.  Image from Wikipedia.

2.  We champion A) self-knowledge (inner) education for the corporate and scientific (yang) communities; and B) business and tech (outer) training for communities of a yin inclination.  Both sides need the other to be fully in touch with reality, because in both camps, our egos viciously lead us away in search of false realities, cementing our antimony.  The future of the planet depends on learning about the interior world as much as the exterior world, and vice versa.

3.  We believe that when more people practice mindfulness, and learn to apply the Enneagram, and other self-observation and self-knowledge tools, the world will be a better, healthier, and safer place.  Self-knowledge engenders leadership; emotional intelligence brings about more "presence", as opposed to reactivity and craving, which the Buddha warned against.

4.  We call for political leaders with a mindfulness and self-awareness practice instead of those who are identified with a particular party.  When self-awareness practices become mainstream, bi-partisanship can be achieved, opening us up to more creative solutions to the world's problems. 

5.  We fucking love democracy.  In the end, though, the capacity for self-awareness is going to be more radical and effective than democracy is currently. 

  New immigrants to Regina, 2013 .  Image from cbc.ca. 

New immigrants to Regina, 2013.  Image from cbc.ca. 

6.  We also fucking love: immigrants, female orgasm, the internet, entrepreneurship and venture capital, High Maintenance (although sobriety's great), Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrology, New York, LGBT, history, pictures from your vacation, sarcasm, and this.

I'm pretty sure Amy Schumer Meant to Say Something a Tad more Nuanced

Amy Schumer wrote a skit for Bill Nye, and it's funny but not funny.  Here it is. 

I love Amy's sharp mind- that girl has been on fire lately with her skits, and I have all the respect in the world for Bill Nye, although I don't know him that well.  I just know he's a comedian-scientist who explains things to the public, and I'm all over that. 

When I saw this skit, though, I was a bit dismayed.  On the one hand, I agree that the affirmations movement started by Louise Hay in the late 1970's to "claim" support from the universe can be miscontrued to mean we can take in bits and pieces of reality and reject other, more glaring ones, in response to which Bill Nye says sarcastically, "We now know the universe is essentially a force sending cosmic guidance to white women in their 20s."

Ha.  Amy and her girlfriend just show us how spiritually retarded the West is, but that doesn't mean we need to quash the impulse behind trying to make sense of life's tangled strands.

 Amy Schumer in The Universe, Uncensored.

Amy Schumer in The Universe, Uncensored.

What this skit does is completely flatten the mystery of the starry night sky and our millenia-old connection to and fascination with it.  Nye and Schumer wave their hand in the face of the complex understanding that the first peoples had of the planets and stars that kept time and anchored stories for thousands of years.  The heavenly bodies and their stories essentially provided the means of survival for the human race, allowing it to progress from nomads and shepherds to civilizations who farmed and experimented with animal husbandry, giving way to civilizations who brought us philosophy, mathematics, logic, morality, and art, which eventually gave way to the development of the three major mystic traditions, Christian mysticism in the tradition of the Desert Fathers, Kaballah from Judaism, and Sufism from the Muslim heritage.  The universe was found to have spiritual laws before rationality was even beheld by Socrates.  Rationality is underutilized today by certain personality types, and overutilized by others.  We all need a balance of the two to exist with integrity in this world. 

Carl Jung talks about the ying and yang of the divine masculine (knowledge) and divine feminine (context).  The former Catholic monk, Thomas Moore, says reason and ego can only take us so far.  They CAN take us far, and we need that element, but the wisdom, -- and the emptiness of the other side of the wisdom-- is also needed. 

No one wants to appear foolish, so we use our rationality to defend ourselves from the unknown, but we all know people who have been forced into the unknown with an uncurable illness or a divorce, and any transformation that has taken place in the lives of those survivors has come because they embraced the unknown, the mystery, that which is not defined, the vaccuum.

This blog is a call for a conscious "staying" with the discomfort around the paradox of reason and science on the one hand; and mystery and ancient wisdom on the other.  As long as we have one without the other, we're incomplete beings. 

I don't blame Amy for making fun of people using random t-shirts as signs to validate their immoral behavior.  But I disagree with how she used Bill Nye to invalidate any use of mystery at all.  Poking fun of those who don't know how to read the signs of the universe is kind of funny, but let's not do it at the expense of the "yin".   Any ignorance around it needs to be met with sane formal and information education on how to use it, so we can not only become more intelligent about the universe, but also operate more intelligently within the universe.

"Terra non est centra mundi"

The best quote I've heard all month came from Paul Holdengraber, the director of public programs at the New York Library who said that he approached all his subjects with "a euphoria of ignorance", which is exactly how I feel about my course.  Like him, I'm producing Science and Alchemy School because I'm fascinated by the topic, and I'm excited to have some really great speakers enlighten us as we learn how two profound systems of inner growth-- astrology and the Enneagram-- are modeled in our planetary system, and how, in turn, we are, in our biological make-up, products our planetary system.  We belong to each other.  Not only is the universe's unfolding a fascinating story, but it's the cradle for our own psychological unfolding, and as both narratives come together in the 21st century, enabled by technology and research, there is also profound meaning.  Science and mysticism are revealing themselves to be intertwined in fascinating ways in our modern-day universe, so these are exciting times.

Another quote I heard this week was from Russ Hudson's talk on the historical context of the Enneagram.  "It takes time for ideas to cook."  That's an understatement.  In about 150 AD, a Alexandrian astronomer, astrologer, and mathematician named Ptolemy wrote Almagest, which became the standard textbook on astronomy for generations of students to come.  Indeed, for the next 1200 years, it held its place as the authority on the planets and stars, how they moved around the earth, which was the centre of the universe. 

  Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish cleric.  His ideas weren't accepted until centuries after he died.   Image from Wikipedia.

Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish cleric.  His ideas weren't accepted until centuries after he died.  Image from Wikipedia.

It took a man named Nicolaus Copernicus in the mid-sixteenth century to get the gumption- and the science together- to challenge Ptolemy's ideas, and his resulting book was ignored by the Church.  Copernicus was a Polish cleric who studied religious law, medicine and astrology, (since it shed light on the nature of his patients' illnesses), and as he did so, found that Ptolemy's calculation tables were a little cumbersome.  Over the course of his adult life, he developped a heliocentric model of the universe, and his ideas didn't become accepted until the 19th century. 

Talk about taking a while for ideas to cook.  Yesterday, Joanne Wilson profiled a city in South Korea that decided to go without cars in one particular neighborhood for one month.  It took TWO YEARS to convince everyone to get on board.  People just didn't think it could be done. 

I love new ideas.  I soak them up, although sure I get threatened by my fair share of them.  But I like to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible so I'm never taken by surprise.