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"Through the Looking Glass"
Human relationships are a complex theme. Richard Idemon is exploring it with brilliance and humanity in his book "Through the Looking Glass". In his view relationships are looking glasses/mirrors of our own unfolding process as individuals. We are constantly changing on the path of individuation. While changing ourselves our relationships will be changing, too. If you are meeting the seemingly "wrong" partners again and again it might be time for an individuation check. Your relationship patterns will tell where you are on your path. That's the moment when Richard Idemons' book comes in. It is the perfect read offering "A Search for the Self in the Mirror of Relationships", as it reads in the subtitle. Psychology tells us that human beings are searching for wholeness. People are looking for it in the outside: in their relationships with partners, children, friends and parents. If we are not whole within in the sense of being aware of our unconscious parts which include our unwanted and undeveloped qualities we will meet them inevitably in our surroundings. These "uninvited guests", as Richard Idemon calls them, lounge around us like bad vibrations. Our partners will respond to these and acting them out for us (wholeness achieved!). This relationship model is based on the depth psychology of C. G. Jung. Although Richard Idemon draws upon Jungian concepts he uses them in his own original way.
According to Richard Idemon the astrological moon plays a crucial role in relationships: "In my mind, the most basic and fundamental planet to do with love isn't Venus - it's the Moon." The moon is the key to our most basic needs. The first love experience we have is our relationship with the mother. Therefore the first part of the book is dedicated to "The Basics of Relating". It explores the ways we mythologize our own charts, how our inner child looks like, the parent-child relationship and what the lunar aspects tell about our needs. If we don't take care of those needs the likeliness of projection in relationships is increased, as Richard Idemon points out. It is also a strong indicator for symbiotic behaviour that is keeping people in dependent relationships. To identify the inner child Richard Idemon focuses on the element of the moon. An earth moon for instance feels loved when being touched, stroked, fed, and given real and tangible things as a demonstration of love. If the earth moon person is in love with an air moon person both of them soon have a problem when projecting their completely different needs because the person with the air moon feels loved when being talked to and knowing what's in the mind of the lover.
Richard Idemon states two types of relationships depending on the integration of the moon. The first is called static and has the quality characteristics: no change, no risk, safety and security are the prime goal, dependency, parent-child-symbiosis. The second is called erotic and characterized by the keywords: risky, variety, independence, adult-adult-relationship, open to change. Richard Idemon estimates an average of 90 percent living in a static partnership. Probably the situation today hasn't changed much.
In the second part of the book Richard Idemon is exploring the concept of romantic love. In his view this concept is still prevalent in western culture. It contains the medieval and Renaissance idea of courtly love and is based on the belief that a man and a woman who fall in love get married and live happily ever after. Part of this myth is also that the erotic intensity in the beginning of the relationship ought to continue for ever. The main problem with this fairy tale myth according to Richard Idemon is that it mixes up different forms of love: it confuses personal love with interpersonal and with transpersonal love.
Richard Idemon draws upon the ancient Greeks and their definitions of love to explain various forms and their respective astrological signs and planets. The four types of love in ancient Greek are epithemia, philia, eros and agape. Epithemia means plain "horniness" which Richard Idemon is relating to the "flesh" sign Taurus. Philia means an idealized or aesthetic other, a concept that Idemon associates with Leo, the first of the social signs. In Leo we conceive ourselves as clearly distinct from other people. Only then we can find pleasure in discovering the "other". The self-awakening we experience in philia leads on to eros meaning two or more people experiencing a transformation through their combination. Idemon associates Scorpio and Pluto to eros. Agape finally is a kind of godlike, detached love describing the desire to connect with the divine through a partner - and having no problem with letting him/her go and having relationships with other people. This type is associated with Aquarius and Uranus. Beyond this excursion to the ancient Greeks Idemon is also exploring Neptunian, Mercurian, Venusian and Marsian love. Thus giving a remedy against romantic love. Knowing that there are so many forms of love you will never again belief in the concept of the one and only.
The third part of the book is completely practical. An overview of relationship significators in the natal chart is given and the case of the famous dancer Isadora Duncan is discussed who had several relationships with men. A sample interpretation of synastry is also given for Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, a fabled couple whose triumph and tragedy has afflicted the decade with which they are most associated, the 1920s. Synastry is a technique which basically compares two charts with one another. It's a common technique in relationship astrology.
"The Magic Thread"
"The Magic Thread" is the transcript of Richard Idemons' last week long seminar. An advanced introduction to his method of chart interpretation it introduces the labyrinth as a metaphor for the work of an astrologer. Astrologers would need such a "magic" thread like in the greek myth where Ariadne gave Theseus a thread helping him to find the minotaur in the center of the labyrinth. In the first years of practice every astrologer knows the feeling of getting lost when viewing a chart and trying to put the many things together: the signs, the planets, the aspects, the houses, the elements. Richard Idemon offers guidance playing the role of Ariadne .
He introduces a system which counts the various factors of a chart thus producing a set of data. This system helps tracking down the main themes of a person. The chart factors are basically divided into superior and inferior functions. Superior means that the person has easy access to the qualities the factors symbolize. Inferior describes a quality that is underneath - it is unconscious and not easily expressed by the person. A speciality of this system are the missing functions. These and singletons are top factors because they draw a lot of psychic attention. Anything that is absent in a chart is likely to exert a powerful unconscious influence over a person, as Richard Idemon poignantly shows in the second chapter.
If you ever wanted to understand the psychological impact of a missing element then I warmly recommend this chapter. This is the best I've ever read about this topic. Richard Idemon has such a profound knowledge and understanding of the number of faces a missing element has that you really get the essence.
Besides you get much astrology in action. Richard Idemon is unwinding the thread of Ariadne in various case studies. Most of them are his clients. Two chapters (6 and 7) are dealing with complex family issues such as child disability and sexual abuse. Another chapter is dedicated to "The Ascendant as Mask" which is referring to the Jungian definition of mask. In this chapter Richard Idemon presents the charts of two historical figures. The first is the famous author Ernest Hemingway and the second the less known poet Hart Crane. Both were born exactly the same day (21.7.1899) but approximately 12 hours apart. The ascendants of the two fall in opposite signs - virgo and pisces mirroring each other. These perfectly chosen and interpreted examples show Richard Idemons original gift as a teacher: He brings the theory of the Ascendant to life.
The book finishes with a discussion of questions which inevitably rise when working with clients. If you need practical advice in counseling you get some useful ideas here.
"Through the Looking Glass" and "The Magic Thread" are deeply grounded in psychological astrology providing many valuable insights. Richard Idemons' original style makes them a timeless read. Practicing and studying astrologers will profit from their ingenuity. However, beginners of astrology might be lost because the basics of astrology is taken for granted. The title "The Magic Thread" might also be misleading if wrongly understood. The book doesn't provide a magic instrument which supersedes serious horoscope interpretation. The contrary is true. One gets a lively impression of the sweating work of chart interpretation - and the struggling with it. A help in the labyrinth of the book is the index at the end of "The Magic Thread", so key terms can quickly be looked up. The index is lacking in "Through the Looking Glass". I think the fact that these books are available at all is what really counts here.
Above all I recommend these books because of the warm and engaging personality of Richard Idemon. His passion and compassion brightly shine through the pages. In his teaching astrology really comes to life. Practicing with all his heart, his brilliance, originality and honesty, Richard Idemon is still outstanding.
Reviewed by: Trudy Baumann
The Magic Thread / Through the Looking Glass
Wessex Astrologer, Bournemouth, 2010 (originally published 1996/1992)
You can order the books here:
Richard Idemon died more than 30 years ago - in 1987 - only living to the age of 49. He was among the pioneers who introduced psychology to astrology in the seventies and eighties holding seminars together with Liz Greene. His books "Through the Looking Glass" and "The Magic Thread" give a lively impression of his work which was revolutionary at that time. They preserve a wonderful spirit which is still inspiring readers today.
Richard Idemon was a teacher with all his heart and highly estimated by students and fellow astrologers. Donna Cunningham, one of the grand old ladies of astrology now, took classes with him in New York. A passionate and gifted speaker Richard Idemon was invited at conferences all over the world in the heyday of psychological astrology.
Although a born teacher Richard Idemon didn't write a book during lifetime. He endowed a literary trust to publish his work. Thus the transcripts of two week long conferences became available for the public. Howard Sasportas, likewise a big name in astrology, edited "Through the Looking Glass" which appeared in 1992. It's the transcript of a seminar given in 1985. Gina Ceaglio, a fellow astrologer and friend, edited "The Magic Thread", the transcript of Richard Idemons' last seminar given in 1986. It was originally published in 1996.
These books have been out of print for a while. Thanks to Wessex Astrologer they have a revival as reprints. The significance of the books is considerable. They have made an impact on astrologers. The readers of the Astrological Journal have recently been asked which books influenced them most. The answer was: Richard Idemons'.