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Astrology and Minority Consciousness

 

Article Originally published in the 1990 Winter edition of Aspects Magazine

DO YOU ACCEPT YOURSELF

AS AN ASTROLOGER?

  

This column invites you to look inward and to reflect upon how you accept yourself as an astrologer.  It explores the dangers for you, for the astrological community, and for your clients of an unconscious rejection of self as an astrologer.    It offers a tool for exploration this issue for yourself and your clients.

 

When is the last time you heard: "You are an astrologer?  Don't tell me you believe in all that stuff!".  Be honest with yourself.  What do you really feel inside when someone directs such a remark to you ?  Do you feel proud to be an astrologer?  Do you just brush the whole thing off as if nothing had happened?  Or, do you feel a little something twitching inside of you, something unhappy, something reacting to the person's remark?

 

What do your friends think and feel about your involvement with astrology?  Do all your friends applaud you for it?  Do some of your friends barely accept this side of you? Have some of your friends tried to deter you from astrology?  Do you have friends with whom you have never shared your involvement with astrology?  Have you lost friends since you became involved with astrology?

 

How about your parents, children, relatives?  As an astrologer, are you the pride of the entire family?    Or are you considered to be the weird one in whom this type of eccentricity is tolerated?  Are there any close relatives who do not even know you are an astrologer because you have made sure not to mention anything in their presence?    Such discretion may be wise.  However, how do you feel about yourself, about astrology, when you decide to make such accommodations to other people?

 

If you have had a Christian upbringing, or any contact with Christianity in your childhood, chances are that you have heard many derogatory statements about astrology and astrologers. You may have heard that astrology and astrologers should be rejected for all kind of reasons, from astrology being a mildly superstitious practice to its being the work of the Devil. You may think that, as an adult, you know better than to pay attention to such comments.  However, deep inside of you lives an inner child who, in many ways, still lives by the reality of what she was taught in the past.  Deep inside of you lives an inner child who may have been frightened by such statements.  Deep inside of you lives an inner child who may have difficulty coping with human rejection, not to mention divine eternal damnation.

 

Science not only rejects the astrological profession but makes sure to have great fun at its expense.  Intellectually, you know that science debunks astrology rather than refuting it. However, each time you hear or read the so-called scientific comments about astrology, what do you truly feel inside?  What twitches do you feel in your gut?

 

In many parts of the world, including the United States, from a legal aspect our profession is still inconsistently accepted, and in some areas, even in jeopardy.  Even if you live in a state, a county, or a town, where astrology is legal, what do you feel inside when you think of astrologers being marginally "tolerated" by the law in today's society?

 

These various forms of rejection, of condemnation, do not exist only in the present; they do not only stem from what we have heard during our childhood.  They are also part of the collective past of all people.  Relatively speaking, it is not that long ago that the Inquisition burned many of our former colleagues.  Yes, many of our predecessors sat next to many kings and queens.  Yes, century after century, astrologers have counseled world rulers. Yet, one mistake, and our head was chopped off!    History has a tremendous impact on the human psyche.  What do you feel when you think of the dangers astrologers faced in the past?   Do you ever think that history may repeat itself?

 

Finally, if you also call yourself a counselor, do you integrate astrology with your counseling?  Do you wear two totally different hats: astrologer in one session, counselor in another?  If you blend astrology and psychology, what do you tell your clients?  Do you state at the first contact that astrology is one of your tools?  Do you wait until you know more about the person?  Do you keep astrology a secret and use it behind the client's back?

 

The consequences of not owning yourself as an astrologer affect your clients, your relationships to other astrologers, and therefore, the astrological profession in general, and its place in society.

 

Last July, I attended the First International Cycles and Symbols conference, in San Francisco.  This was the first conference in the United States to link astrology and psychology.  I was excited at the prospect of finding myself among colleagues who openly blend psychology and astrology.  Was I in for a surprise!  I found that very few of us openly blend astrology and psychology.  Even many of our leaders in the field of astro-counseling, many of our teachers in that field, do not, in their private practice, openly blend the two disciplines.  I heard many state that they, in fact, have two practices: on one side, they see clients for astrological counseling; on the other side, they see clients for psychological counseling.

 

Those who blend the two fields are extremely cautious in doing so. Most usually wait a few sessions before introducing the concept of astrology to clients who come for psychological counseling.  At the conference, during a panel on this issue, several reasons were given for delaying the introduction of astrology.  One reason, unfortunately, is very legitimate: the fear of losing one's  counseling license by openly declaring oneself an astrologer. Another reason opened my eyes to the core of the issue:    one person said that he waits five or six sessions before introducing astrology to his clients "because I do not want my clients to think I am flake".  I believe this man does not inwardly fully  accepts himself as an astrologer.

 

At first, I was saddened.  Then I thought about what I had heard. I remembered that, not so long ago, I too experienced difficulty going into the business world and stating: "I am an astrologer". I also thought of several of my astrology students and the struggle they have identifying themselves to the world as astrologers.  I then realized the depth of the lack of confidence we astrologers carry about our professional self-image.  Pondering on the content of Anne Wilson Shaef's book "Women's  Reality", and Joan Ticknor's "Manual for Multi-Cultural Training:  Prejudice, Discrimination and Racism" broadened my thinking.

 

From these two books, I realized that we astrologers have a perception of the world different from other people.  As astrologers we live a different reality from the reality of most people, a reality many of us have - or have had - difficulty expressing in today's society.  We are dealing with discrimination, social conditioning, stereotypes, prejudice and oppression.  Group studies verify that our issue about integrating ourselves into society is a typical minority issue.  To me, a minority is not only determined by ethnic background, socioeconomic class,  gender, or religion.  A minority is any group that cannot express itself within the society in which it lives, regardless of the reasons.  This is why I consider that   AS ASTROLOGERS, WE HAVE A MINORITY CONSCIOUSNESS.

 

Joan Ticknor explains how social conditioning takes place:

 

"The norms and standards for society are communicated and passed  on directly or indirectly through television, newspapers, schools, movies, text books, parents, teachers, people in authority, peers, etc.  These beliefs and assumptions concerning norms and standards are absorbed, consciously and unconsciously, to a greater or lesser extent by all members of society.  The norms become the ideal for conduct, attitudes, and feelings, i.e., become 'the only  way to be.'  Anyone not falling within these standards is  considered somehow 'wrong', or 'not OK.'  This becomes justification for misinformation and mistreatment (i.e., stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination and racism)."

 

What were your answers to the questions asked earlier in this column?  Did you brush them off as irrelevant?  If you did, you may have become numb to the issue of oppression of astrology today.  "Victims of oppression, Ticknor writes, many times, become  numb and unaware of the oppression.  They suppress knowledge of the situation because it is too painful to know."  The effects of oppression become unconscious, and therefore, more dangerous.

 

One of the consequences of minority consciousness is called internalized oppression.  Joan Ticknor defines it as "the internalization of society's negative beliefs into one's self-image:  The person accepts society's view of her or himself as the 'way she or he is', 'the way things are.'  Negative judgments about that person become internalized and result in a self-image which reflects these negative ideas and beliefs.  This usually becomes the expectation, and a self-fulfilling prophecy, which acts as a hindrance on development of the intellect and spirit".  Guilt has been assumed, the minority member truly   becomes a victim who feels he or she deserves mistreatment.

 

I believe our internalized oppression is reflected, among other places, in the poverty level of most astrologers.  How many of us truly support ourselves and live well from astrology alone?   How much are we able - or willing - to pay for seminars, workshops and conferences?  How much are we willing to financially reward our teachers and speakers?  How much are we willing to charge professional rates for our services?

 

"The second major effect of internalized oppression on minorities,   Ticknor continues, is that the individual comes to dislike not only him/herself, but also her/his own people.  (If one does not like and respect oneself, it is impossible to like others in the same category.)"

 

In other words, astrologers internalize society's negative attitudes about astrologers and therefore generate negative feelings and beliefs about themselves and all other astrologers. I believe that a few of the ways astrologers express internalized oppression at the individual level are the war of the house systems, the orb of aspects, the validity of asteroids, Sideral versus Tropical.  In communication between astrological organizations, even though great progress has occurred, withholding cooperation between local chapters is another way to play out internalized oppression and the lack of trust astrologers have for each other.  Of course this behavior exists among most groups.  However, most groups become a minority as soon as they identify themselves as different from society.  They acquire minority consciousness and behavior.

 

The third major effect of internalized oppression, according to Ticknor, is that victims become victimizers: "the tendency after being hurt and feeling victimized is to hurt others who are weaker - the next one down in the power structure."  In most minorities  'the next one down in the power structure' are the children.  For astrologers, I believe 'next ones down' are our clients and our students.  Our clients come to us because they need help, often because they are in a crisis.  They look upon us as authority figures.  Consciously or not, we are in a position of power.  This is why it is of utmost importance that we reevaluate our self-concept as astrologers in order to eliminate any possibility of unconsciously victimizing any client.  Our students are often in a similar position.   In addition, they are the ones who will continue - or stop - the victim-victimizer cycle.  The choice is ours.

 

I have found great wisdom in the Arabic Part of Astrology as defined in R. Granite's "The Fortunes of Astrology" as Ascendant + Mercury - Uranus.  Natally, by sign, house and aspect, the Arabic Part of Astrology provides information about our self-image as astrologer, and our about client's concept of astrology.  Like any  other point in a chart, it provides further information by relocation, secondary and solar arc progressions, and the transiting planets aspecting it.  I have found it very useful in helping my students - and myself - cope with astrological identity crises.

 

I experienced my own struggle with astrology in terms of physical fear, as if something physical and terrible was going to happen to me if I declared myself an astrologer.   With Scorpio rising, I already have a tendency to consider the world as a dangerous place to be.  My Arabic Part of Astrology is at 6 Cancer, sesqui-square (135 degrees) my ascendant, validating the physical aspects of my fears.  Being in my eighth house, my Part of Astrology reinforces my Scorpio energies. It is trine my Chiron, in Scorpio, in the twelfth house.  Maybe this combination gives me a vantage point on the dark side of astrology!  On the lighter side, however, the Cancer position was validated at the end of my last counseling workshop, when a student said: "I get it!  Your clients are your  children and your are a very good mother!"  Today, transiting Uranus is at 5 Capricorn 43, opposing my Arabic Part of Astrology which seems to fit this column!

 

Converting the degree of the Arabic Part of Astrology to years and the minutes to months (5 minutes to a month) can indicate an age when a psychologically significant event occurred.  In the course of this event, the person possibly made a decision that is now preventing self-acceptance as an astrologer.

 

Our own personal difficulties, if not attended to, can easily get in the way of our client's growth process.  When we do not deal with our problems, at best, we are unable to offer good consistent guidance to our clients; at worst, we may become the unconscious victimizers of those who come to us for help.

 

The issue here is not to confront anyone but ourselves. The issue is not to get on the bandwagon to convince anyone but ourselves about astrology.  The issue is to look deep within and find the parts of ourselves that are not totally convinced about astrology. The issue is to change some of these parts, and to learn to be aware of and at peace with, the parts of ourselves that we can't change - the parts that reject and will always reject astrology.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Granite, Robert Hurzt, "The Fortunes of Astrology", ACS, San Diego, 1980.

 

Schaef, Anne Wilson, "Women's Reality", Harper & Row, New York,  N.Y.   

Ticknor, Joan, "Manual for Multi-Cultural Training: Prejudice,  Discrimination & Racism", Part A, Preliminary Printing, Phoenix, AZ, 1989.

 

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 Aquarius Workshops' program chairperson, ISAR's vice-president, and a member of AFAN and AAP.

 

 

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