|Management of Measurement Constructs
Managing the Spirit - moving from idealization to strength By guest astrologer Hiroki Niizato
Astrologer Hiroki Niizato lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. He is a highest-honors graduate of Noel Tyl’s Master’s Degree Certification Course in Astrology and is a long time practitioner of Eastern meditation. His writings and services can be seen on his website and blog: HolisticAstrologer.com
The word "spirit" conjures up various images in our mind - At its most noble end, we see heroes such as Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. transforming the world through the strength of their spirit. In conversations we say, "Your words have lifted my spirit" or "the defeat has crushed his spirit." Used in this way, "spirit" is the internal force that drives and motivates us - it is our self at the most essential core, which some philosophies consider to be identical to the spirit of God.
On the other hand, many perceive “spirit” as an external force that influences us for good or evil. Here we become vulnerable to outside forces that are generally perceived to be more powerful than we. Those who follow this way of thinking try to influence these forces through some kind of intervention: prayers to the spirit, protective ornaments that carry the power of beneficial spirit, rituals designed to appease the gods, planets, etc.
Regardless of which perception we hold, the word "spirit" suggests great power. Because of this, it seems self evident that a purely external view of the spirit is disempowering, leading to a generally passive, fatalistic orientation toward life.
So, how do we, like the heroes mentioned above, learn to internalize the power of spirit, or the power to control our own destiny?
And as astrologers, how can we help our clients to do so?
Experience tells us that merely saying "you have the power to control your destiny" isn't quite the answer to help people who are confused, passive, or feel generally out of control. I suggest substituting "psychic energy" for the word "spirit" when taking a therapeutic view. When people feel chronically confused, powerless and ungrounded (these are all Neptunian words describing the archetype's shadow), we suspect that the psyche is either too fragmented or the energy is being diverted away from the present moment.
The aim of Buddhist meditation teaching is to restore the original oneness of psyche by withdrawing it from the "attachment to ten thousand things." This is a good metaphor for what the astrologer/therapist aims to do with a client suffering from internal schism: we collect parts of ourselves (our “spirit”, if you will) that were fragmented into little pieces, in order to regain the prodigious amount of psychic energy we had as children.
Many psychologists trace the source of schism to the "primal wound" caused by the failure of initial relationship with one's parents. From this, a defense mechanism such as idealism is born within the child, and this will continue to consume his psychic energy well into adulthood.
In natal analysis, we can anticipate the occurrence of idealism through Mercury’s involvement with Venus or the Sun, perhaps along with emphasis on Jupiter and Neptune, i.e. their involvement with each other, or to the Luminaries.
A man’s horoscope ("Frank", born November 29, 1960 at 00:40AM in Buffalo, NY) suggests the idealistic nature through the involvement of Mercury and Venus, as well as the connection between Jupiter and Neptune. The horoscope shows a great deal of tension pressing the Moon ruling the 11th and Venus ruling the 2nd in the T square: we sense the fear and pain of feeling unworthy or unlovable. The Moon is locked away in the 8th, and Pluto in the 12th squares the Sun, “a blanket over his hand grenade”: we feel the short circuit of emotions draining his power, creating difficulty in communicating his perspective to the world. –Defensively, idealism tries to cover all these over.
When I first saw "Frank", he spoke with very little emotion in his voice, and had the Pollyanna-like "Everything is fine, just the way it's supposed to be" attitude in his conversation, even though it became clear that he had serious financial and relationship issues that he wasn't dealing with. It was difficult for him to get through his own idealistic defense mechanism, but he eventually did, and started to face the problems realistically.
Idealism as Defensive Structure
Many survivors of physical or sexual abuse initially believe that their family didn't have a problem, or that they had loving parents, or what happened to them was nothing out of the norm. It is as if there is an internal illusion of a beautiful garden, cast on top of a dungeon or a graveyard. When such idealistic defense is in force, what the client unconsciously knows to be true is suppressed by her conscious mind, creating a huge, ongoing pressure within the psyche to maintain the false story.
The "graveyard" may not only have to do with abuse; it could be abandonment or rejection from the parents, and perhaps later, rejection experienced from peers and/or the opposite sex. Idealism could take the form of a distorted parental image, or false self-image (through aggrandizement or self-deprecation.) Whatever the case may be, when so much energy is invested in keeping up an illusion, little energy is available to make positive changes or self assertion.
How does the idea of "spirit" enter into the minds of wounded, confused people? In the best case, it may serve as the catalyst to start the process of unification; this can be observed in the effectiveness of spirit-oriented groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to encourage recovery through reality based thinking, mixed with the awareness of spirit. The participants no longer deny the problem they have ; then the help from a spiritual source is sought, and internalized spiritual strength. In this way, false idealization is confronted, and then directed into a thought of spirit that doesn't conflict with reality.
But perhaps in many cases, the concept of "spirit", i.e. powerful external forces outside of one's control, may be absorbed into the passive, idealized worldview: "I may have a problem now, but because of this new program (religion, meditation etc.) that I just started, soon God (or any other representation of external spirit) will make everything better"; or "So it is because I have Saturn square Venus that I always have a problem in love! Now it all makes sense." In either case, the confrontation with reality is avoided through directing the attention away from self and all its problems. –The answers are within.
Communicating Reality Based Awareness
Faced with such wounded clients, what is an astrologer to do?
First of all in a consultation, the client's consciousness has to be directed to the self instead of away from it, and this is achieved through the focus on client's behaviors in real life.
Consider the importance of questions like "how tall are you and how much do you weigh?" during a phone consultation. They may appear out of place or even irrelevant, but they serve to anchor thought. Asking practical questions like this can save astrologers from being drawn into the maybe-too-wonderful picture the clients paint of themselves. The question helps to bring things down to earth.
If a client's voice seems to lack energy or emotion, where is the energy being short-circuited? In the case of "Frank" (see above) the short-circuit existed in the emotional realm, numbing his senses from the fear of financial and relationship destruction. If Mercury is closely conjunct the Sun (the "combust" position in the traditional text), it may be that the mind is fragmented ("burned up") through the short-circuiting.
We may lose many 'parts' of ourselves this way while growing up, ending up burned, fragmented and with little energy to claim our own spirit. The role of a therapeutic astrologer may be to detect where the psychic energy is being short-circuited and to help the clients reclaim and recognize the power of spirit within themselves. The focus on reality and mundane issues may not be as exciting as the discussion of past lives and metaphysical theories for our “spiritual” clients, but it is the grounded road that leads to their ultimate empowerment.
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.