(Part 2)

portrait mundus volubilis

The Risks of Psychological Interpretation

When reading a birth chart, we must be careful not to use psychological interpretation with too much certainty and too narrow a scope. Otherwise we may end up believing that we know more about the other person than they themselves do. Would we walk down the same road as Freud did in his analysis of Dora, for example, claiming that his patient was lying and/or was in denial rather than reconsider his interpretation?

My major criticism of Freud's way of treating Dora is that he was repeatedly and highly controlling of her and that he used gaslighting and other indoctrination methods to pressure Dora into accepting his interpretations about her unconscious desires and complexes. […] Freud's overriding need to prove his theory right led him to insist on the validity of his interpretations, speculations, and inferences. In Ornstein's words, "He practically fought Dora's subjective experiences in order to establish the validity of his own (more experience-distant) dynamic-genetic explanation".
What Did Dora Want? The Abuse of Power in Freud's Analysis of Dora. In: Gaslighting, the Double Whammy, Interrogation, and Other Methods of Covert Control in Psychotherapy and Analysis. Theodore Dorpat - J. Aronson - 1996

When we make a mistake in our literal interpretation, we can quickly prove ourselves wrong. But when it comes to the psychological dimension, we run into all kinds of complexities: projection, rationalization, etc. – the list is endless.

Some elements of the natal chart will inevitably talk about the native as a “child” and also their “child(ren)”. Where do we draw the line between literal and metaphorical information? How much of the “offspring” indicated in the map depicts an actual child and to what degree is it symbolic in the Jungian sense?

baby mundus volubilis
"The child is potential future. […] This agrees exactly with our experience of the psychology of the individual, which shows that the "child" paves the way for a future change of personality. In the individuation process, it anticipates the figure that comes from the synthesis of conscious and unconscious elements in the personality. It is therefore a symbol which unites the opposites; a mediator, bringer of healing, that is, one who makes whole."
The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. C. Jung-R. Hull - Princeton University Press - 1980. [278]

The Problem of "Meaning"

An experience is inaccessible from a binary “symbolic/literal” axis because it can unfold both ways (and more) at once. So how is it possible at all to interpret a natal chart and say something both about the physical and the psychological reality of the native without becoming dogmatic? The problem of “meaning” is so complex: what exactly are we looking for?

No matter how much we study and research, no matter whom- and whatever we encounter, all will feel “meaningless” until we connect to their (and our own) animating force.

In animism, knowing is intimacy

The distinction between the inner and the outer is very important in symbolic thinking, but it is irrelevant from an animistic perspective. Reality is one and all phenomena are mixed: nothing is purely inner or outer, pure spirit or matter.

The function of consciousness in this context is not to connect, disconnect or transmute the inner with/into the outer, but to engage deeply with who- and whatever surrounds us. Its role is to form an intimate relationship between what is distinctly human and Life itself. Cats offer and share their catness, birds their birdness and humans their humanity. Here, there is no need to define what makes a cat or what makes a human being.

to be continued...
Suggested reading

the natal chart from an animisitic perspective 01

When we start studying astrology, we usually begin with identifying and defining elements of the horoscope. And there comes a phase when we need to switch from creating a “patchwork” of information to actually being able to make sense of it all. There are many authors who discuss how to combine a list of keywords into a synthetic whole (in all the senses of the word). But this kind of interpretation will always be our own construction, and we have to keep that in mind. Otherwise chances are that we won’t notice when planets, signs and houses do not “behave” as we expect them to. Read now

goddess Nut - mundus volubilis

In ancient Egypt, the goddess Nut was the mother of gods. She was the night sky; and the Milky Way in particular. Alternatively, her body can be interpreted as the path of the stars, and she might even have been one specific constellation. Naked, in her full feminine beauty, she was bending over the Earth with her two hands and feet touching the North, East, South and West. Read now