Creative Connections & Client Communications

Counseling Insights, December 31, 2007

Thematic Apperception Test

I like to dramatize how a core sense of horoscope analysis can be established naturally, simply, even if we were to use pebbles in the sand, let alone planets carefully positioned in celestial reality. If we draw a circle in the sand and drop ten stones on it, what kind of pattern do we get? What might the pattern tell us? Who put the pattern there? --Horoscopes were actually ‘constructed’ in this way a long time ago (especially the Arabs in the 11th century).

This was the thinking that led me to the founding of Hemisphere Emphasis significances (“Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology”, pages 5-34; Analytical Techniques, select “July 15, 1999”). A fundamental of the horoscope within is reliably, undeniably established.

The idea had germinated within me for a long time, from the works of celebrated psychologist Henry A. Murray, with whom I was privileged to study at Harvard.

Murray invented/established the famed Thematic Apperception Test for psychological analysis. This test is comprised of a series of pictures designed to capture the attention and interpretation of the viewer and bring to the foreground of discussion personal problems projected into and perceived there among the pictures during the test. The pictures are waiting to be given significance and a story-line; the viewer provides that from his or her own feelings, thoughts, life situation ... “What is happening in this picture? … How does the situation end?”

“Patients” were asked to view the pictures and say what they saw. The ‘bottom line’ was ‘what did they see being acted out and what was bringing the pictographic drama to a conclusion?’. –This is so understandable now. With every advertisement we see today, with every photo we view, we read a story into it, our story. But Murray was postulating and dramatizing this in the 1930s and 1940s. People viewing his 30-something cards were reporting repressed aspects of their personality. Projection allowed the release of these anxieties. Things were coming to the foreground through the ‘safe’ imagery of the photographs. –And they still do today!

Eventually, I thought that it was not unreasonable to apply this conceptualization to the graphic horoscope depiction of personal potentials. We know that the symbolisms are indeed organizing themselves meaningfully through the birth moment … like pebbles upon the sand. We must be able to see ‘something” there. What do we see? How relevant is what we see to the individual human condition?

Try your own test! On a piece of paper, draw a big oblong. See that as a view-box window onto a stage-setting. Next, draw a group of figures (7 or 8) roughly in the bottom left quadrant. Then, in the upper right quadrant, drawn a clean, clear, singular figure. –Now, connect the upper singular figure with the group at the lower left with a curving double line… like a road … an “S” … from the upper right corner down toward the left, passing the group, and veering off to the lower right corner. –There you have it! Now look at the picture.

Your mind is undeniably buzzing with the significances of the upper right personage (notice how you’ve humanized the drawing) in relation to all the other people ‘huddled’ (notice whatever verb you picked) in the lower left corner! The upper right figure is “preaching” to the lower left group. Who is that figure? It runs the show! What show? How are the others reacting?

You are concocting a developmental story, just as you could with a powerful astrological symbol in the 8th or 9th, say, opposed and/or quindecile to other planets in the 1st and 2nd Houses.

Our minds perceive interactive drama, just as our news reports interpret and report on interactive event drama. Our sensitive perceptions are valid; they are right; they are reliable.

See the singleton drama in Bill Gates’ horoscope [October 28, 1955 at 10:00 PM in Seattle WA], for example. The Moon stands alone at the Midheaven. It is “dressed” in Aries garb: the reigning-need message is to be “numero uno” and that message is directed mainly to Mars within the group “below”, Mars ruling the profession/status 10th. –In such simple terms, we begin to see a drama unfolding within life development. We can begin to anticipate behavioral development, tensions with the environment.

Going further, we see two figures huddled to the Northwest: Saturn and Venus, aloof, out of touch socially, relationally, hiding a private sense of not being lovable [peregrine island, Saturn ruling the 7th and Venus ruling the 11th]. –and so it goes.

Look at Nelson Mandela’s horoscope [July 18, 1918 at 2:54 PM in Umtata SAFR]. The lone Uranus figure rules all (final dispositor), all in terms of social caring, a message of humanity (Uranus rules the 3rd and is in the 3rd). We see the ever so smooth relationship between this Uranian thrust and Mandela’s social outreach (the trine with Venus on the seventh cusp). –and so it goes.

In George W. Bush’s horoscope (July 6, 1946 at 7:26 AM in New Haven CT) we see no commanding, inspiring lone figure opposite the self-protecting defensive group in the East. This is the horoscope waiting to be led!

------We need to adjust our eyes to see the deceptively random placement dramas in horoscopes. After all, on behalf of our clients, we project their personality into the astrological symbology … the overt dimensions and the repressed. Our experience and sensitivity make it work, establishing the relationship between the horoscope and individual reality.

Next Update: April 1. In the meantime, please know that immediately following this essay is an archive of some 70,000 words, over 70 essays in this department that should earn your interest.


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