BETTER SELF-AWARENESS with

 FRANCOISE FRIGOLA, M.A.

 
Home
About Françoise
Professional Services
Articles
Lectures
Workshops
 
Contact
 
 

COUNSELING ASTROLOGY #1

Article Originally published in the 1989 Spring edition of Aspects Magazine

 

LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN

 

Strange  title  for  a  column  on  counseling?   Not if the basic principle of counseling is to guide the client to the awareness of what he wants to do rather than to tell the client what to do.

The  ability to listen with an open mind and a compassionate heart is the key to counseling.  Astrology is only a  tool  --  a  major tool, certainly  --  but only a tool which supports and validates the process of both the client and the astrologer.

This first column  explores  the  general  role  of  astrology  in counseling  and  provides  examples of successful and unsuccessful counseling.  Future columns will present more detailed ways to use astrology as a counseling tool.

In counseling, the natal chart  becomes  a  map  of  the  client's psyche.    Touching  a  person's  psyche  is  sacred  work  to  be approached with awe, respect, care, compassion, and patience.

The chart shows the energies a person  was  born  under,  not  the energies a person is stuck with.  The energies that existed when a person  was  born  move  constantly. Movement of energy within the person is reflected and symbolized by the movement of the  planets in the sky.  Planets do not rule life in any way; they are only a symbolic reflection of the energies a person experiences,  of  the changes happening in and around a person.

The natal chart shows the client's potential but does not show how the  client used her potential.  Only the client knows, and, as we shall

see, knows only  to  a  certain  degree  how  she  has  used energies available  to her.  The astrologer has to ask questions, offer information undogmatically,   tentatively, following up  the client's  reaction  with  sensitively-worded questions and careful listening.

If  the astrological chart does not show how a client has used her potential, it  shows  even  less  how  the  client  will  use  her potential in the future.  Predicting a client's future is probably the  most  harmful information a counseling astrologer can offer a client.

A prediction projects the astrologer's ego and  needs  on the client in the form of a more or less detailed specific event.

A prediction locks the client into expecting a  situation  without giving  her  free  choice.  If the prediction is of a negative and restrictive nature, the psyche tends to accept the  defeat,  gives up hope,  and by believing in the negative event, invests it with its best chance to occur.   On  the  other  hand,  a  constructive prediction may  not necessarily occur because usually it involves change, and the psyche tends to resist change  in  any  form.   In addition,  what  may seem  positive to the astrologer may well be experienced as negative and destructive by the  client,  and  vice versa.  The client's inner strengths and inner conflicts are reflected  by the  planetary aspects in the natal chart.  Just as the concept of benefic and malefic planets and aspects is long gone, the  concept of  hard and soft aspects also ought to be considered obsolete.  For example, a trine denotes harmony between aspects of the  self, but it  also  symbolizes  a tendency to overdo.  A square denotes tension, but can also indicate a saving grace, an ability to  take action,  to get  things  accomplished.   In  other  words,  one's interpretation  of   aspects   should   not   differ   from  one's interpretation of anything in astrology:

 

Nothing is good. Nothing is bad.

Everything is an opportunity.

 The  client's  inner  strengths  and  conflicts  have been greatly influenced by the psychological environment in  which  the  client was born and raised.  The emotional atmosphere in the environment, its joys, and especially its unexpressed tensions, are absorbed by the psyche  and  become  the  bases  of  behaviors  that  can  be experienced later  as  facilitators  or  barriers  to  growth  and happiness.

Usually, the client arrives with a well-defined external  problem. Usually  also, the client has no idea what the inner basis of that outer problem is.  The work of  the  astrologer  is  to  help  the client  understand  his  behavior  in relation to its inner roots. Ideally, the astrologer should achieve this before giving  support for changes in the client's life.

A few years ago, I visited a client in his office (see  Chart  1). The client  shared with me his difficulties in sustaining a close relationship.   His  seventh   house   of   relationship   is   in Sagittarius.   Jupiter,  ruler  of Sagittarius, is in Cancer.  The Moon, which rules Cancer and symbolizes the concept of the mother, is squared by the Sun which represents the concept of the father.

This  combination of planetary aspects and placements indicated to me the possibility that, soon after  a  relationship  began,  some argument  would arise that would bring an end to the relationship. My client confirmed that he experienced a repetitive cycle of this nature. I explained that, somehow, during  his  childhood,  there was  some unexpressed  tension  between his parents.  He absorbed this tension, never learned  to  resolve  it,  and,  unconsciously based  his behavior in a relationship on the behavior learned from his parents.  My client  was  very  puzzled,  for  he  had  always experienced his parents as getting along very well.

 

As  a few other questions had also come up about his childhood, he got up and called his mother.  He hooked up the speaker phone so I could hear the whole conversation.

To  my great surprise, he told his mother that there had been some tension between her and his father when he was a child,  and  this problem  between  them  was the reason for his current problems in relationships!

The  mother  immediately answered that this was not the case, that he was a wanted child and had always been very loved.  I shook  my head in agreement with this statement.  I suggested he ask her how her  husband and  she  resolved  conflicts.  She was adamant: "We agreed long before getting married that we would never argue  when angry.   We  agreed that  we would cool off before discussing any issue.  So, usually, we would talk in the evening  after  you  and your brothers were asleep."

 

At that instant, my client remembered his father leaving the house furious  and his mother crying while washing the breakfast dishes. He realized that he had witnessed his parents  argue  but  he  had never witnessed  the  resolution  of any conflict.  Therefore, he never learned to resolve conflict within  a  relationship.   There are  many classes and books on conflict-resolution these days from which my client could now benefit.  A few  months  later,  he  was happily experiencing an on-going relationship.

 

Not all consultations are as easy as this one.   Not  all  clients are that  willing or able to bring up issues, face them, and make so drastic a change.  When clients are less  self-reflective,  are overwhelmed, or are unwilling to accept responsibilities for inner chnges,  then the key to counseling is to ask questions, listen to answers, hear the planetary archetypes at work.

One  of  my  experiences  with this reality involved a man born in Central Europe during World War II (see chart 2).  Since his  time of birth was uncertain, I could not rely much on house placement. His retrograde Saturn  conjuncting  Mars,  opposing  Mercury,  and squared by  Jupiter  spoke to me of a restrictive father image as well as restrictive  authority  figures.   My  client  would  have experienced these  restrictions and internalized them in terms of action (Mars), communication  (Mercury),  and  expansion,  freedom (Jupiter).   In addition,  this  man's  Sun  in  the male sign of Aquarius emphasized his identification with the father image.

At the same time, and possibly in  conflict  within  the  client's conscious  understanding  of  himself,  the chart denoted a strong mother influence.

However, at the time of the consultation (mid-November 1987),  the transiting  planets  directed  my  attention to the concept of the father and its influence on my client's current life: Pluto square Pluto, Uranus semi-sextile Mercury  and  sextile  Jupiter,  Saturn quincunx Saturn, Jupiter square Saturn, Mars having squared Saturn a few  days  earlier  and now squaring Mercury before conjuncting Jupiter.  In addition, Neptune was within a  two-degree  orb  from squaring Neptune.

The  client  talked  about his difficulties at work and especially his difficulties with his various managers  with  whom  he  argued quite a bit and who, of course, were always at fault.

I explained  that  often  our  current  behavior  stems  from  our childhood  experiences,  and  went on talking about what the chart described in terms of father image.  I  did  not  talk  about  his father,  but about his concept of father and of authority figures. I was rapidly interrupted: "I was born during the war, in a little village in Central Europe,  and  I  was  the  only  man  within  a hundred-mile  radius;  therefore,  I  cannot have any problem that relates to my father."

Needless to say, I never saw that client again!

But I learned!  I especially learned to ask.  I learned  that,  no matter  what  the  chart  indicates  to  me,  it  does not tell me anything about the client's awareness.

Hopefully,  I  had  not  done  too much harm (except, maybe to the astrological profession!).  But I have  heard,  and  been  at  the receiving  end  of,  many  statements  about personality made in a dogmatic and abrupt manner by  a  person  interpreting  the  natal chart.

When a client listens to an astrologer, she experiences the  "it's about  me"  feeling.   A few good 'hits' about the person's traits are not hard to find and these hits are the 'magic' of  astrology. While the  client  is  usually  delighted to hear such 'right-on' statements about herself from someone who does not know  her,  she is  also  in  a most  vulnerable  position.   This  is when the astrologer can do the most harm.

 

Describing the person to herself, like  predictions,  creates  the risk of  locking  the  person  into  the  character  traits  the astrologer describes.  The astrologer has to  remember  that  what looks  like strengths in the client's chart may have been diverted or distorted in a devastating way at some time in the  past.   The chart  does not indicate how the client has used her potential nor the difficulties it symbolizes.

 

I recently saw a woman whose chart clearly indicated  difficulties relating  to her womanhood due to the influence of both the mother and the father.  The chart made me suspicious of her  relationship to  her mother.   Carefully  I said: "Tell me about your mother". The answer was: "She is  my  best  friend."   However,  little  by little,  during the consultation, elements of strain and question marks started to emerge from  the  client  about  her  mother.   I simply  had to ask her to hear what she was saying to bring her to the awareness that she had to look at herself as a woman  who  had absorbed  and learned both positive and negative concepts from her mother.

 

The answer the astrologer may get when asking a question is:  "You tell me!".  This is the perfect time to demystify astrology.  This is  the  perfect  time  to explain to the client that astrology is only a tool to help him  understand  better  his  journey  through life, that the planets do not rule our lives but are sign posts to better awareness, better self-acceptance and self-love.

FRANCOISE-THERESE FRIGOLA uses the astrological chart as a guide to teach her clients to understand inner conflicts and inner strengths.  Her Master's degree integrates transpersonal psychology, astrology, and spirituality.  She writes and lectures on self-awareness and self-growth.  She is currently ISAR vice-president.

Other articles on Counseling Astrology by Françoise Frigola

  1. Listen, Listen, Listen
  2. First Contact with a New Client
  3. A New Client is Coming
  4. Leading the Client to Self-understanding
  5. When The Chart Says One Thing and The Client Another
  6. The Consequences Of Change
  7. From Casual Counseling To Professionalism
  8. Considering Ourselves Professionals

 

 

Stop surviving,

Start living!