All posts here are from sections of the books: "North Node Astrology; Rediscovering Your Life Direction and Soul Purpose" and "Saturn Returns~The Private Papers of A Reluctant Astrologer" Available only on Amazon.com

To inquire about readings or for more articles on the North/South Nodes, go to: http://www.elizabethspring.com


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Your Partner's Transits; Synastry in Motion


Your Partner’s Transits

So you had an updated reading from your favorite astrologer, and you were pleased. You saw where you needed to focus your energy now, gained a few insights, and “the astrological weather forecast” looked good, especially this month. Then what’s the problem? Why are sitting there feeling so out of sorts? Why are you feeling so moody, so uncharacteristically angry, sad, overwhelmed or ---whatever! You fill in the blanks.

Consider this. You live with another person—your mate, your child, your roommate, your mother. You share a living space, but you may be sharing far more than you realize. It’s one thing to be considerate of each other’s moods, but have you thought about how your “partner’s” astrological transits are affecting you?

An interesting thing happens in relationships. And it happens in all relationships where people are closely interacting with each other---you not only pick up on the unexpressed mood of the other person, but you may be compensating for it as well.

“Compensation” is essentially what happens when two people are experiencing something together, and only one person expresses the mood of the moment. The other person compensates in a way that they feel comfortable with—for example, if you and your partner are in a restaurant and your server is painfully slow and un-attentive, one of you is likely to voice an opinion on it. The quiet person now has the choice of how to react or how to compensate for the emotions that have been stirred up. And what is interesting here is that because the frustration has been expressed already, the other person often tries to balance or compensate the situation by what they choose to say---and they have considerable freedom here because the pressure of the uncomfortable irritability has already been expressed.

Often what happens is that the less irritated person tries to make the situation better in some way. This person—let’s say it’s you---may be resisting those irritating emotions within yourself. You both have experienced it, but by being nice and suppressing your annoyance, your partner’s annoyance may intensify. Or you may choose to vent along with your partner, feeling even more fueled in your aggravation that before.

There’s a dynamic happening here that also happens astrologically and more subtly. Simply put, your partner’s aspects have a powerful effect on you because you two are acting and reacting together, in tandem, and you may be compensating and confused about the source of your feelings. The source, oddly enough, may not be arising from within you, but from your compensating reactions to the intensity/irritability/mood of your partner.

For example, my husband is now having Uranus in the 12th house opposing his Virgo Sun in the 6th house. This is not a short transit and it has many expressions of varying intensities at different times. What I am aware of, or surprised at, is simply that I’ve noticed a certain need for intimacy and closeness within me, as he seems to be retreating into his “cave” and into his various flights of freedom. I’ve also felt a certain Uranian anxiety and excitement at times, as well as a desire to break free and “do something different.” Now this is his transit, his experience, not mine. However, when he almost unconsciously responds to it—especially with Uranus traveling through the area of his chart that rules the unconscious, I pick up on the energy and respond or compensate for it. At times I’ll feel anxious about the undertow of his “pulling away” from me, and his movement towards a more Uranian freedom that he expresses very subtly. It’s not that I have such a huge urge to merge, but I’m compensating for the unspoken “unsettledness” and cool objectivity I feel emanating from him. It’s not that what I’m feeling or doing is wrong, it’s just fascinating that my astrological aspects are not addressing this!

It makes perfect sense. Two peas in a pod; one changes and the other reacts. One person has a strong transit and the other reacts both to what is said and what is not said. So….a word to the wise; look at your partner’s transits as well as your own and bring a little extra consciousness into your reactions. We can choose to practice better communication, and we can choose how to compensate for whatever mood is brought into the room by our partner. But let’s take a look at their transits and progressions, as well as our own, from time to time. If we are good astrologers, we know how deep the interconnections are, and how permeable the spaces are between us.

© Elizabeth Spring April, 2008 (If you are interested in your partner’s transits and progressions, then consider having a chart comparison done---one that would include both a synastry chart reading of your birth charts, as well as a look at the transits that are effecting you both in different ways now. Check out home website for details: http://www.elizabethspring.com/

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Uranus Transits


Uranus Transits

The Constant Invitation of Uranus Transits

“We are constantly invited to be who we are….”
R.W. Emerson


'When I'm sixty-three'…or twenty-one, forty-two, sixty-three or eighty-four years old, something rather magical happens---or can happen. Uranus transits happen to everyone at approximately these ages and we play them out 'well' when we savor the epiphanies and opportunities rather than trying to maintain the status quo. It may feel like we're falling or coming apart, but Uranus aspects are truly opportunities to 'soar' rather than dive. These are the years of radical new beginnings that give us the chance to become more of who we really are. Henry David Thoreau once noted: "We are constantly invited to be who we are." Uranus transits are the constant invitation.

Whether you're falling down, waking up or dancing to your own drumbeat, there are times when you may wonder—isn't there a different way to do this? 'Diving gracefully' is always a good option if you are falling, but there are times when if you want to soar you're going to have to break the rules. These periods of Uranian liberation call for you to challenge the status quo---but how do you know when you should 'color outside the lines' and when you should respect 'the lines' that others have made?

Although it's a bit simplistic, we could say that we respect the limits during Saturn transits and break the limits during Uranus transits. Look to see what area of your life—what house-- Uranus falls in on your natal chart. This is where you have divine dispensation to break the rules! One might even say that you are not only given permission to do things differently in this area of your life, but that you must do things differently and authentically here—you are called-- in this area of your life-- to be radically honest and a little more daring than ordinary.

For example, if you have Uranus in the Fourth house there is a subtle divine imperative that you rebel against your family of origin in some way. You don't have to do it dis-respectively and you don't have to stop loving and communicating with them. However, you are called to break the rules of the family myth here—as the family myth may sound like this: 'Isn't it funny how all the men on this side of the family are bi-polar?' Or 'Isn't it funny how all the women of this family marry abusive men?’ With Uranus in the fourth house you probably have heard some variation of a 'not-so-funny’ theme like this handed down the family line and you're going to need to make a conscious effort to break this family legacy.

For you to survive spiritually there are times when you need to learn to stand up to authorities and separate yourself from what has been culturally ingrained in you. You may think you are already aware of these influences and that you did the work of rebelling against these cultural imperatives when you were 21 ---or before. Yet it may have taken you to the Uranus opposition at the age of 42 to realize how deeply you were programmed to be a certain way. Maybe it took that long for you to divorce the wrong person you married, and to reclaim your Soul. Uranian times call for you to challenge yourself and rebel against your own assumptions about what’s right for you.

Radical acts of reclaiming ourselves and daring to break the rules can happen at any age and are specific to you alone. However, it's almost as if the Universe gives you a chance for enlightenment or liberation at those ages when Uranus metaphorically 'turns the lights on and off' in your life. What was going on for you at the Uranus waxing square at 21? The opposition at 42? What could happen at the waning square at 63 and the return at 84?

At 21 years our culture says we are now an adult, but in fact, most of us have been in school or in less-than-empowering positions for most of this time. Our parents and the culture have exerted pressure, overtly and covertly, to mold us into something. Now we have the first chance to say---"but this is now my time and I want to find out who I really am." So we summon our courage—often with the help of our peers and abundant sources of alcohol—to dare to move out on our own into whatever may await us. But it's usually not till we're close to thirty, and have the first responsibilities of true adulthood—at the first Saturn Return, that we commit to a deeper level of our truth and make major and usually sobering ‘Saturnian’ life-style changes. But that's only part of the story.

In the process of living our adult lives, parts of us never get a chance to be expressed. In order to raise the family and/or pursue the career, we live our lives with parts of our essential nature sacrificed. We tell ourselves that some day we will take up singing/painting/writing again, but at the moment we have to handle 2 kids or 2 jobs and we have to make enough money to pay for the cell phones as well. But when we approach 40, the awareness comes to us that we're at mid-life and we're closer to our death than our birth---and by 42-ish the lights have been blinking on and off just enough to remind us that if we're going to do 'it' we better start now or we may never do it at all. So we have the first classic mid-life epiphany of waking up to the preciousness of time. Many people will marry, divorce, move across country, or take up ‘guitar playing’ at this time.

We may be shocked by how liberated we finally feel when we act on what appears to be impulse at the Uranus opposition. But that impulse has had years of pressure building up behind it. And yet if we should miss this chance, we get another chance for living our deepest truth at the waning square of Uranus at age 63. We may have thought that the time for new beginnings has ended. Not so!

It's worth taking a moment to think of what makes 'an elder' an interesting and vital person. What gives charisma to an older man or woman? Could it be that they don't care so much about what other people think about them any more? This Uranian attitude is one part simple acceptance of themselves and others, and one part 'detached wildness.' This quality of wildness looks more like a wide smile and a quick laugh than a purple hat with a red feather.

At each of these Uranus cycles—at 21 and 42 and 63 and 84 we get a new chance to answer the voice within us that calls for more unique individuality. Even at 84 when Uranus returns to its birth position, there’s a part of us that opens up to ways of seeing things differently. Personal epiphanies abound at age 84 and people often notice a renewed sense of well-being and a feeling like a ‘breath of fresh air has come into their lives’. Some people, such as Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell ‘completed’ their lives at this time.

The closeness of death itself stimulates us to recover our core individuality. You are being called at these Uranian ages to allow a radical honesty to arise within you---and to take up the 'yoga of doubt and questioning' and turn questioning into 'questing'. Being true to yourself requires courage, but life helps us as we approach these 'Uranian times.' You don't have to know all the answers and figure it all out yourself. These are the times when you can expect help from the Universe by the occurrence of unexpected events--- unusual feelings, new opportunities, and paradoxical situations. Not all will be pleasant, but the effect will be to move you to the next stage of your life journey.

Uranian transits are times to answer inner restlessness with a 'Yes'! Try something liberating and freeing---make a little noise; cause a little havoc, give up trying to be too self-sacrificing. (If a child is always 'too good' don't you become suspicious? What is being repressed? Why are they saying they're bored?) At these ages you have a ‘divine dispensation’ to break the rules-- so ask yourself: how have I allowed life to dampen my energy? What's inhibited me? What still resonates and stimulates me when I think of it?

Einstein once said: 'God doesn't play dice with the universe.' I don't think God plays dice with us either, and no event is without the potential for using it for creative liberation. The writer George Eliot wrote: 'It is never too late to be what you might have been.' Experiment with that idea, and let your mantra be: ‘Let's do something different.’ And if you should fall or fail then 'point your hands in the direction you are going, and dive gracefully. At the very least, you may inspire someone watching you.' But chances are, you'll soar.

Elizabeth Spring © April 2008
www.elizabethspring.com
Elizabethspring@aol.com 401-294-5863

Elizabeth Spring MA is an astrologer and psychotherapist working in Wickford and Newport, RI. She has a degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in the work of Carl Jung, and teaches astrology workshops at the Boston Jung Institute. She has written many articles for newspapers and magazines which can be read on-line on her website at www.elizabethspring.com Elizabeth’s bio, teaching, and speaking schedule can be found on her website as well. This article originally appeared in the ezine: Star-IQ in April, 2007.






Friday, April 18, 2008

Archetypal Astrology


Archetypal Astrology


Archetypal astrology is another name for Jungian astrology, a “creature” that Carl Jung never invented, but a name that astrologers like myself use to describe the way we work with the symbolic language of astrology. Archetypal astrology is a movement away from quick predictive astrological answers and a continual calling to track the movement of the Soul through time. It’s a blend of the best of both worlds, and an attempt to move away from the worst of each.

By honoring the planetary symbols we honor the gods and goddesses within us, and we can call these parts of our inner psyche by whatever name we choose—planet or mythological symbol—but we’re still following the same gods home. Astrology’s foundation is in mythology and psychological observation, and Jungian psychology is grounded in symbolic mythological thinking. The conflict or difference between the two appears to be mostly a matter of language, style and respectability.

Astrology has had a bad reputation throughout history because of its connection with fortune telling, and it is because of this taboo quality that most Jungians have chosen to focus on astrology’s sister: alchemy. Although alchemy is rooted in astrological thinking, it doesn’t carry the taboo and therefore can be presented in more respectable circles. Jung was warned by his colleagues to not venture forth into the world of astrology and mysticism or he would risk his credibility. So he astutely chose to examine the symbolism of the unconscious through the avenues of dreams, myths, and alchemy.

Archetypal astrologers, evolutionary astrologers, and Jungian astrologers are all delving deeply into the inner world of archetypal symbolic images…to the Soul. This is the language we all use no matter what we call ourselves. There are many paths to the Soul and to self-knowledge, and the simple advantage of astrology is the speed at which we can learn about ourselves---if we are open to hearing. That’s the catch. Astrology can open insightful doors quickly but most of us are not able to hear. Jungians would say that we have this “resistance” to hearing as an egoic self-defense, and theories abound about the rightness of this resistance. That’s probably why most astrologers have a certain blindness about their own charts….we can see our client’s complexes and t-squares but not our own. Well, granted we do see them, but how much do we really allow ourselves to know about our own shadow qualities? It’s not an easy quick process.

The combination of astrological insight and the slower process of Jungian counseling together allows for one to open up to insights at the right time and in a context of the safe “container” of the therapeutic relationship. Astrology may be too quick, and Jungians may be too slow (they can hold their client’s hearts forever!) but the combination of the two—what is called archetypal astrology—might just be the very best form of counseling and soul work. ~elizabeth spring

Interested in archetypal counseling? Inquire: elizabethspring@aol.com or browse: www.elizabethspring.com

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jung and Astrology


"Astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity." C. G. Jung

We often believe our true Self is housed in our personal myth; in the story of our lives. I think that's a mistake. I believe we're larger than that, and Carl Jung believed that too. He delved into the personal and collective unconscious and found that we are richer and deeper than we know. He understood that we are not as small as our life stories might imply, and yet I'd also add that we are "never quite as real or large as advertised."
Jung believed that we get to know ourselves, and our Souls, through rediscovery and reconnection with the archetypal world, and that we interact with this world through symbols. According to Jung, our Soul speaks to us in this language of images through dreams and through archetypal symbols. Astrological planets are archetypal symbols, and our birth charts are a unique “map of our Soul” that can illuminate the relationship between our conscious and unconscious mind.

By understanding the symbols in our unconscious through dreams--or through understanding our planetary archetypes in our birthchart--- we can take steps to break free of our more compulsive, repetitive, or “default” patterns of behavior. Astrologers believe that individual unconscious patterns are left as an “imprint” that can be read on the birth chart—as Jung said: “The individual disposition is already a factor in childhood; it is innate, and not acquired in the course of a life.”

When we think of Carl Jung today, we often think of him as representing the archetype of the “wise elder man.” He points us in certain directions---as if to say: “Look to the mandala, look to alchemy, look to your dreams, look to the images in your unconscious and in the collective unconscious, look to astrology.”
Like a good father or wise man, he points us in directions that are helpful, but he doesn't dogmatize or preach. He was an imperfect man too, who was a product of his time and culture, yet he was wise enough to say: “Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.” (From: On the Psychology of the Unconscious)

Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud were psychiatrists and theorists who were ambitious men. Freud counseled Jung not to delve into the astrological world view as it could destroy his reputation as a reputable and scientific scholar. (Ira Progoff in America also warned Jung in a letter that Americans would not take him seriously if he delved into the taboo astrological world. And although Jung was not one to be told what to do, we could speculate that he might have chosen to focus more on astrology’s younger sister, “alchemy” in order not to be tarnished by astrology’s bad reputation at the time as a fortune telling craft.) Jung and Freud eventually parted ways because of their many differences in opinions.

So did Jung believe in astrology and use it? The answer is yes, as we see here in Jung’s own words from a letter that he wrote to the Hindu astrologer, B.V. Raman on the 6th of September of 1947. Jung wrote:

"Since you want to know my opinion about astrology I can tell you that I've been interested in this particular activity of the human mind since more than 30 years. As I am a psychologist, I am chiefly interested in the particular light the horoscope sheds on certain complications in the character. In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand. From such experiences I formed the opinion that astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call 'projected' - this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations."

The kind of astrology I practice is archetypal and evolutionary. I believe Jungian psychology is a rich foundation upon which to draw inspiration and knowledge, and Jung himself was a powerful yet invisible mentor in my life. I also draw from the “evolutionary” school of astrology with my background in Theosophy and as an apprentice to Steven Forrest’s School of Evolutionary Astrology. This evolutionary overlay on the Jungian base allows me to look at the possibilities of reincarnation and karma, and to construct a parable or myth about the past life lessons and experiences as shown on the birth chart now.

Because the re-incarnational parable is not fact-based but instead is a largely unconscious emotional memory, I look to the nature and arrangement of the planetary archetypes to detect what the Soul in this life is trying to learn and experience. Usually, we repeat the same karmic patterns until we become conscious of these invisible energy patterns and choose to not to repeat them.
I believe that our life direction and soul purpose is to “heal oneself” and that we do this by “knowing” and “remembering” our Self on a very deep level. This is the work of a lifetime, and I do not believe we are fated to endlessly repeat old patterns, nor are we bound by any predestined hand of God. But we do come into this life with the mixture of past life karma, free will, and the spiritual curiosity to experience both joy and love, struggle and pain. It’s a mixed blessing for sure. ~ Elizabeth Spring © 2008 Curious for more info? Check my website: www.elizabethspring.com

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Existential Astrology (Part Four)


So where does Existentialism fit in with astrology? Existentialism focuses on the process of becoming an authentic human being in a world that appears to be devoid of a benevolent God. It offers us a place to stand that doesn’t throw us into a place of philosophic despair, but instead tenderly holds our humanity and proselytizes courage instead of dogma. And in some ways, I see it as a precursor to astrological thinking.

If we see existentialism as an unsettling inquiry into the nature of life, and if we see it like many others have, as a sense of disillusionment and philosophic “dread,” then we might also see it as a beneficial stage in acquiring sound astrological thinking. In the past it has been seen as a dark night of the soul time, or a “morning sickness” or as Jean Paul Sartre said, nausea” in response to the inauthentic life of mainstream culture. I would venture to add that it feels like the place in our philosophic journey where we question our life and don’t try to insert easy solutions. We wait, we try to live authentically, and we work at becoming a person of integrity.

Existentialism can also be seen as a stage in the process of spiritual evolution if we see it as a reaction to the fantasy of ungrounded beliefs, hyped-up nationalism or pre-packaged religions. It can even perhaps be seen as a stage, like pregnancy, that is preparing for something greater. I see it as a philosophic stance between the naïve acceptance of unquestioned religion and the acceptance of the mystery of spiritual gnosis, or knowledge based on experience. This “existential” way of seeing and being seems to come before any openness to a “greater mystery” which could be described as the perennial philosophy that lies at the heart of every religion.

The willingness to be open to an experience of the “numinous” ---which could be understood as a sense of the holy or the presence of Spirit--- requires an attitude of both openness and critical discernment that existentialism often contains. (Although not all existentialists would agree---they’re an unruly bunch!) For those of us who do astrology, we struggle to discern what is real and useful and true, while also holding to the place of acceptance of the cycles, life rhythms, and the numinous idea of synchronicity. And we offer our clients an open “weltanschauung” or world view that allows them to place our ideas within their philosophy. So we can see astrology as not being a religion but an intuitive art of the Spirit where we can track the movements of Spirit in time.

I see astrology as being balanced between an attitude which is both Saturnian in its efforts at discernment and Neptunian. Existentialism is Saturnian in its no-nonsense approach to the harsh realities of life, and although the art of astrology is more Neptunian, it doesn’t make a case for a God of a certain creed or fantasy. Astrological thinking instead implies that in this Saturnian world we are poised and resonating in a balance between the heavens above and the earth below, and that here there are cycles, seasons, and predictable movements that allows space for Neptunian mystery.

Some people would say this is a ‘stretch’ but I like to think of the idea of existential astrology as the initial philosophic place we stand in, and from there one goes forward into one’s own Neptunian or astrological cosmology. I’ve chosen to embrace “evolutionary astrology” which posits the belief in reincarnation and the evolution and growth of the Soul through time---but this is not for everyone.

On my spiritual journey, existentialism played a crucial part in my transition from Catholicism to a belief in the Soul’s evolutionary journey. After leaving Catholicism I lived and waited in an existential space until life and astrology began to show me more. And what opened up for me was an awareness that the numinous spirit could never be bounded or understood completely by any one system or religion or even astrology. However, how delightful it was to find that there are prints left in the sand from the path of Spirit! That there are clues in the heavens and the seasons and the archetypes as to how to navigate a life. The markers are all around us, and astrology is one such pathfinder. The existentialists have a favorite mantra: “existence precedes essence” implying that we are always in the process of becoming who we truly are. I would add that living an astrologically aware life helps us to discern the essence of who we really are, thereby making the process of “becoming” a conscious one--and that is indeed a profound gift.
© Elizabeth Spring www.elizabethspring.com

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Existential Astrology (Part 3)


I believe it sometimes takes a heroic effort to create meaning and love out of a life that feels devoid of both. We need a sense of purpose to hold us in hard times---as author and Auschwitz-survivor Victor Frankl wrote: “Suffering minus meaning equals despair”. He felt that if one has a sense of responsibility towards someone or some work, he will never feel the urge to throw away his life. He felt that if one knows the “why” one can bear the “how.”

The Existentialists wrote passionately about this kind of struggle to wrest meaning out of meaninglessness, and like a scrawny kid developing muscles, they believed we all have the potential to create meaning and live an “authentic life.”

The existentialists were writing to motivate us to consciously develop our sense of meaning and purpose, whereas the psychologist Carl Jung felt that the issues lay more in the realm of the unconscious. He developed a theory of consciousness in which he expressed his feeling that all neurotic behavior after mid-life was due to lack of a spiritual focus. He saw that most people turn to “spirits” rather than to Spirit, and told Bill W., the founder of AA—that only an experience of Spirit can counteract the spirit of alcohol---or as he said in Latin: “Spiritus contra Spiritum.” But today we take Spirit literally in religion and drink, and then find that aggression--- whether jumping off a bridge, abusing a child, or going to war--- is often a last resort, done half-consciously. Jung offers us other possibilities to consider.

Conscious change has a better chance of happening when we dare to look at things through the eyes of ‘Spirit’ and when we understand what Spirit uniquely means for each of us. Existentialists remind us that we create our essence with each responsible choice, and that there are innumerable ways to be authentically present. Jungians would point to the center of the circle-mandala (which shows up in all cultures as a religious symbol) and explain that there are as many ways to the center of the Self as there are people alive. Astrologers would spend hours talking about the relation between character and fate; arguing that a change in character alters one’s fate. But nobody has said that any of it’s easy. Even so, I invite you to look at things differently as you read through these musings, and ponder how these three ‘ingredients’ might change your life in subtle but profound ways.


Do you remember reading about those “French Café sitters” who would earnestly debate existentialism for hours over coffee? Jean Paul Sartre was the unacknowledged sage of the group. But his strident atheism and fictional dips into the theatre of the absurd were not endearing to most of his friends. Rather it was Albert Camus, with his humanist agnosticism and compassionate sense of the importance of “responsibility” that gave existentialism a heart.

The existentialists believed that we live in a world devoid of innate meaning, but that our free-will choices and decisions really matter. By attempting to live a life based on our values and not just the cultural norm, they believed we create an authentic life and create meaning for ourselves and others. “Existence precedes essence”, they would say, and they believed that the life choices we make need to come out of a deep connection with our personal values. For them, to live an in-authentic life, based on bourgeois unreflective values, would create such a false existence that our lives would begin to crumble as we saw our shallowness reflected in other people’s eyes….thus Sartre’s comment in his play, "No Exit" that “Hell is other people.”

Camus was not a stranger to these ideas, but embraced them and became politically and socially active in the French Resistance Movement in World War II and espoused a softer and more humane response to the radical ideas of these times. As a rebel with heart, this author of “The Stranger” was an outsider at times, but also perhaps a precursor to the beat generation in the US that evolved slightly after his time.

Both of these men, and the Existentialists that came before and after them, felt the uniqueness and isolation of the individual living in a world that so often feels hostile or indifferent. For them it didn’t matter if God did or did not exist because ‘He’ seemed indifferent to the plight of their time--- living during and between the World Wars--- when their Judeo-Christian backgrounds didn’t hold up well to the level of evil they were seeing, nor to the level of alienation they witnessed in the techno-industrial working world. They passionately caught on to the idea that what could possibly carry us out of this meaninglessness is our courageous use of freedom of choice--

Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus challenged the religious assumptions of their time and crossed a threshold of thinking after which they were mocked as being pessimistic, pedantic, and weird. They hadn’t invented these ideas, but popularized them in their novels and in their “café conversations” that were heard and documented around the world. Yet there were other thinkers who went before them who led the way. The basic tenets of existentialism were first presented by Soren Kierkegaard in 1843 in his book Either Or and later developed by Martin Buber in 1923 in his book I and Thou and then again in 1927 by Martin Heidegger in Being and Time.

Today, one could say that existentialism is the philosophy that underlies all our academic, scientific, and psychological assumptions. In polite society, there are no metaphysical assumptions allowed anymore. Existentialism could be called the current religion of the modern world. One could make a case that existentialism is the philosophy that most people really believe, no matter what their ‘religion’ is. This is because whether it’s the old American dream of “from rags to riches”, or Napoleon Hill’s power of positive thinking, or the New Age creation of our own reality, there is a sense that we have an almost terrible freedom, and that we are more powerful and responsible than we would like to believe. It’s uncomfortable to believe this, and most of us find economic or personal dramas to excuse us of the responsibility of this freedom. But as uncomfortable as it is, if we dig deeply we’ll find gold.

The early existentialists were like lonely heroes. They proselytized action and encounter with life as coming before any innate meaning. They urged us to heroically force life to mean something---to choose values and act from those values again and again against a culture that unwittingly tries to disempower and hypnotize us all into a collective sleep. The existentialists were champions of creative people and those who sought freedom in which to make their choices. And they knew how hard it was---as Camus said:

“If there is a soul, it is a mistake to believe that is given to us fully created. Rather it is created here, throughout a whole life. And living is nothing else but that long and painful bringing forth.”

In that long and painful bringing forth there’s a tendency to lose a sense of meaning from time to time, and just as you must stop the bleeding when an artery is cut, you must also stop the bleeding away of meaning. Otherwise, we lose energy and creativity as depression and inertia steels over us. And when we look to the creative giants of our day, we see that even productivity itself isn’t a guarantee against loss of meaning---Van Gogh was an example of that.

In the next post we’ll look at the link between existentialism and astrology, and particularly in navigating one’s life direction and soul purpose. ~elizabeth spring http://www.elizabethspring.com/ elizabethspring@aol.com