|After reading an excerpt referencing astrology from the book, “How A Master Works” by Ivy Duce, I felt moved to write about my experience with and perspective about astrology. Below is the excerpt and underneath the excerpt is my response.
Ivy Duce had visited Meher Baba in India, and on her way back to America she went to see an astrologer in Delhi. The astrologer had a copy of the Bhrigu Samhita and the Arun Samhita, and read an ancient chart for Mrs. Duce’s daughter Charmian. The chart covered Charmian’s life in detail, with one statement for each year up into her eighties.
Ivy Duce wrote about the reading in a letter to Baba’s sister Mani.
Baba dictated the following to be included in Mani’s reply to Ivy Duce:
“Baba says that you and Charmy, who have the rare good fortune of being among his close fold and deeply connected with him, are safe in his care, and should not let any astrological pattern affect you or rattle or worry you… For although he does not radically change the course of individual karma (of those connected with him), he does alleviate and modify it greatly when he thinks fit, and often hastens the working out of some karma whereby it is unwound in a much shorter time and gotten rid of… Whereas we think of time in the measure of years, he knows and sees to the untangling of the karmic maze of many lifetimes…You should therefore give no countenance to mantras and astrological indications which might apply to the general man who has not the good fortune of coming into the orbit of a Perfect Master’s grace, and the much rarer opportunity of being within the circle of the Avatar… He does not mind your being interested in astrology as an interesting subject, but does not want you in the least to be swayed by or involved in it, for your own good… Baba says that when he breaks his silence, you will understand everything – all your questions will be answered in that understanding which embraces everything.”
I am intrigued by Meher Baba’s exact words to Ivy Duce about astrology. What does it mean to be interested in astrology but not swayed by or involved in it? To me this means that if one is interested in astrology, one should take it lightly in a sense (not unlike other subjects of study in the world of Maya,* or illusion). To not be swayed by it means, for me, to not fall into the trap of making presumptions or predictions about myself, life, or others using astrology, but rather to attempt at all times to live in alignment with my highest inner truth. In my experience astrology can help to increase understanding, self-acceptance, and faith in the perfection of the big picture. I don’t use astrology to tell me what something means or to try to figure out what will happen in the future. Instead, I use astrology as a tool for self-discovery. It is an exploration and practice of finding meaning through observation of what is (and what is changes as consciousness changes).
In 1932, Meher Baba stayed at the home of Marc Edmond Jones in Hollywood, for one week. Marc Edmond Jones was the foremost astrologer in the US at that time. It was not long after, that Western astrology began to take a sharp turn towards a more psychological orientation (which makes me wonder about Baba’s role in this redirection). Subsequently, Dane Rudhyar, the father of modern astrology (who also met Meher Baba), came into prominence. Rudhyar wrote, “As I see it, the first and immediate purpose of astrology is not to predict events in terms of statistical probability, but to bring to confused, eager, often distraught persons a message of order, of ‘form,’ of the meaning of individual life and individual struggles in the process of self-actualization.” (Interestingly, in the Awakener Magazine, Filis Frederick wrote, “Dane had cast Baba’s horoscope and seen Him as the great World Teacher of the Age.”)
The way astrology was used in the past was more like fortune-telling and making predictions for the future. Modern astrology is quite different. It is a psychological tool for understanding oneself and helping one to live more authentically, more at peace, and to find one’s way towards fulfilling one’s greater potentials. I never think of astrology in fatalistic terms. Each aspect shown in a chart can manifest in an unlimited number of ways, and in accordance with one’s spiritual journey. Astrology is what we make of it. Perhaps the chart is an illustration of our sanskaras,** but it does not determine our future. We affect our future by how we respond to our current circumstances.
I have heard a story, referenced at times, when the topic of astrology arises within the Baba world. It goes something like this: followers of Meher Baba, who were interested in astrology, found that their lives began to disagree with their charts after coming into “the orbit” of Meher Baba. This statement confuses me, because it is based on a premise that implies there is only one interpretation of a birth chart, and that it remains static over time. In my understanding of astrology that premise represents a misunderstanding of how astrology works. Astrology is a language of symbols, and by definition, the very nature of a symbol means that there are an infinite number of meanings and expressions of it. So when someone comes into “the orbit” of Meher Baba, or any path of spiritual truth, their lives and consciousness will of course change and perhaps rapidly. But because an astrological chart cannot be limited to any one analysis, but rather only suggests influences which may be expressed in different ways at various levels of consciousness, the chart still encompasses these higher possibilities. I would go on to say that any perceived limitations of the accuracy of an astrological chart are more reflective of the person trying to understand or interpret it, but not the chart itself.
I have heard that Meher Baba said astrology is a perfect science, but he also said something along the lines of that it takes a Perfect One to interpret it perfectly. Similarly, the Talmud says, in reference to astrologers, “They gaze and know not at what they gaze at, they ponder and know not what they ponder.” As an astrologer, I understand this and do not presume to know anything. Astrology can be thought of as a symbolic language. Having some fluency in this language, I do my best to articulate the symbols and express them in ways that might offer help to people — in a dialoguing process, and reflecting back what they already know within. Astrology can be immensely helpful in naming things, putting puzzle pieces together, and validating experiences. Exploring the multifarious possibilities suggested in a chart can provide clarity and meaning in relation to challenges, and offer glimpses of pathways towards healing and hope.
There are 7 Principles of Evolutionary Astrology (a term for psycho-spiritual astrology), by Steven Forrest, which resonate for me. These principles support the differentiation between the type of interpretation that might “sway” one vs. the type that hopefully enhances self-knowledge and a sense of well-being. From “The Inner Sky”:
1. Astrological symbols are neutral. There are no good ones, no bad ones.
2. Individuals are responsible for the way they embody their birth charts.
3. No astrologer can determine a person’s level of response to his birth chart from that birth chart alone.
4. The birth chart is a blueprint for the happiest, most fulfilling, most spiritually creative path of growth available to the individual.
5. All deviations from the ideal growth pattern symbolized by the birth chart are unstable states, usually accompanied by a sense of aimlessness, emptiness, and anxiety.
6. Astrology recognizes only two absolutes: the irreducible mystery of life, and the uniqueness of each individual viewpoint on that mystery.
7. Astrology suffers when wedded too closely to any philosophy or religion. Nothing in the system matters except the intensification of a person’s self-awareness.
In my experience, astrology is a useful psychological tool for some people, and it need not be used or seen as an “occult” practice. “Everything has something to do with spirituality. It depends on how it is worked out…” (Meher Baba). Yet, I readily acknowledge that Baba, or any God-realized being, is far beyond any subject of study or form of typology that may used to classify or understand things of this world.
*Maya: (from Sanskrit) has multiple meanings, usually quoted as “illusion”, centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us. ~Wikipedia
**Sanksaras: (from Sanskrit) are the imprints left on the subconscious mind by experience in this or previous lives, which then color all of life, one’s nature, responses, states of mind, etc. ~Wikipedia
About the Author: Marlena Applebaum, M.A. in Counseling Psychology, offers astrological counseling for psycho-spiritual exploration, understanding, and transformation. Astrology utilized in this way can be a missing key for deep inner work and can shed light on the path towards greater harmony with the natural rhythms and cycles of one's life journey. Marlena’s approach to astrology is to share the potentials and opportunities she sees while exploring how the symbols and archetypes are manifesting uniquely for each individual. Astrology is a wonderful tool for self-knowledge and a help in times of challenge or transition. It can facilitate tremendous insight and peace, as well as provide timelines for certain archetypal or energetic influences affecting our lives and inner states of being. Consultations, written reports, and gift certificates are available — for birth chart exploration, current influences, relationship analysis, and timing for important events — in person or over the phone or skype. For more information go to marlenaapplebaum.com.