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Any authority can become the devil...

Liz Greene was interviewed by Nicholas Campion

It was the summit meeting of two astrologers: On 14 August 2001, Liz Greene and her colleague Nick Campion met for a long interview which was published in the American astrological magazine "The Mountain Astrologer". The common thread was the Saturn-Pluto cycle peaking in 2001. In 2010 the cycle reached its next turning point. Jupiter on his path through Aries is closing that aspect between Pluto and Saturn again in February and March 2011. Our understanding of the cycle will be further developed. Liz Greene associates historical awareness to the combination of Saturn and Pluto. It will be an issue on the world stage in one form or another. Historical awareness certainly applies to this astrological conversation covering a wide range of issues. These are still in focus or even more so currently: Does astrology need scientific research, is astrology real, is consciousness beyond astrology, is there a metaphysical explanation of astrology, is a religious or spiritual order inherent in astrology, is it a belief system, what are the esoteric concepts of astrology, is psychology a religious cosmology, what is astrologys' cross-link with art? The interview which we are publishing in selected passages gives inspiring, yet not easy to consume answers. Beyond that it shows an awareness of another kind: Liz Greene is acknowledging similarities and differences without beating on one side or the other. She can bear to stay in the place in the middle and live with the uncertainty.

Nick Campion: The Saturn-Pluto cycle is related to the independence of India and Israel in the 1940s: Two ancient cultures, the Hindus and the Jews, had their statehood restored. Would you perceive in Saturn-Pluto individuals a similar archaic influence coming through?

Liz Greene: I think they carry a long past behind them, or there is an awareness of a long past. Historical awareness is something that isn't an ingredient in everyone's worldview. Some people manage very nicely without it. Saturn-Pluto does seem to reflect a consciousness of this much longer history which goes back through cycles, through deaths and rebirths and metamorphoses, into the past. Part of its potential great strength is that there is an instinctive knowledge of the relevance of history and the fact that whatever you build historically will one day die.

Nick Campion: That idea, that whatever you build sometime will die, points to the concept of the rise and fall of cultures in line with the astrological ages. In Relating, you write about the Age of Aquarius, how God is - the gods are - now within us, no longer outside us, and science is an Aquarian manifestation. It would seem to me that you could be described as a humanist in the sense that we are now at the centre of things. Also, there's a cultural relativism, implicit perhaps in all New Age thought, claiming that every age has its version of the truth and none is necessarily superior to any other.

Liz Greene: I don't think that the astrological ages are any more real in that sense than anything else. But there do seem to be turning points in terms of how human beings define the highest good, or whatever they prefer to call God, and the ways in which they enact those perceptions. So I don't think that one age is "better" than another in the sense of having more truth. In the ancient world, the gods were perceived as being "elsewhere," and they intervened in human life. We are having a hard time defining the gods in that way now. That may not necessarily imply a greater awareness of the truth. It just seems to be what we perceive as reality now. There is a fragmenting and breaking down of the attribution of divinity to something "out there" to which we pray. That breakdown seems to be causing a lot of trouble, anxiety, and threat, and the response is the constellating of the opposite: rigid fundamentalism. It is a Promethean vision in which human beings are the alpha and omega - everything lies within us.

Whether that is true or not is the wrong question. It seems to be what we are living with, and we are going to be with it for a long time to come. We will undoubtedly make an absolute hash of it for a long time, because it breeds enormous arrogance. With every shift in the perception of deity, we lose something. We gain some new perception, and we lose something very precious. It seems to be more a question of "Can we retain what's of value from past perceptions, while allowing a new one to come in?" rather than drawing a line and saying, "We'll throw this old one out." Christianity tried to throw out the pagan worldview in a very ruthless way and, I think, paid a terrible price for the exclusion of what was of value in the previous worldview. We are in the same position now.

Nick Campion: So, when you write in "Astrology for Lovers" that, as individuals, we are constantly growing into something, do you think that human society is growing into something? From what you have just been saying, I gather that you feel quite neutral about that growing-into-something, and the something into which we are growing is not necessarily better than what we have come from.

Liz Greene: It could be better, but I don't think there is some dictate that says it is definitely going to be. If it is, that may have more to do with our potential rather than with some grand design of evolution. But it is a bit like a human life. By the time you get to a certain age, your experiences have begun to become cyclical, and you start recognising that you have been in that sitting room before. That could actually produce something better in terms of wisdom or in terms of navigating things better or handling them more creatively. Or it may just make people bitter and more destructive, because they get frenzied when they realise they have been there before. I think there is the potential for genuine evolution, but I don't think it's a given, and I am not at all convinced it is a plan. It is something that we could actually do ourselves, if we are intelligent enough to manage it.

Nick Campion: I was struck by your attack on New Age gurus in your book "Neptune". I just found it interesting that the outside world classifies all astrologers as members of the New Age and therefore slightly wacky, but here was an astrologer actually criticising the excesses of the gurus.

Liz Greene: I have always liked John Cooper Powys's line: "The devil is any god who begins to exact obedience." Any authority can become the devil, whether it is "New Age spiritual," in the form of a guru; or orthodox religious, in the form of the Pope; or scientific, in the form of a high-powered academic; or political, when we start giving away our capacity to discriminate.

"Truth" is an awful word because it really depends on the beholder. If we give away the necessity of struggling individually to find what we understand to be true, we are being very stupid. I didn't really make an attack on gurus as such. You can turn your doctor into a guru. You can turn your government into a guru, which is what the Russians did in the Soviet era. You can turn anything into a guru if you want to be a child who needs a parent who has all the answers. I don't think that has anything to do with the "New Age." I think it has to do with something in human beings which would rather not put in all that hard work. We are fundamentally lazy creatures, and dependence on gurus is just one manifestation of our laziness.

Nick Campion: There was something else you said about the Age of Aquarius in one of the seminars in "The Outer Planets and their Cycles". Somebody asked you when the Age of Aquarius was going to begin, and you said: "For all I know, the Age of Aquarius began last Tuesday," which I thought summed up the ridiculousness of some people's need for absolute certainty.

Liz Greene: Yes, quite.

Nick Campion: The member of the audience, by the way, responded: "I can't help feeling disappointed by what you are saying."

Liz Greene: Yes, I get that a lot. Someone is always very disappointed if I don't give an exact answer. Oh, dear!

Nick Campion: You could also be a candidate for gurudom.

Liz Greene: For many people, yes. I get clients who try to make me into one, and I despair, because I know from the outset that if someone is coming for a chart with that kind of mentality, whatever I give them, they are going to be disappointed because it won't be The Answer. In fact, I try to avoid clients who come with that package, because I don't want it.

Nick Campion: Can you tell beforehand?

Liz Greene: Usually, yes. It's a certain tone. If I ask on the phone, "Why do you want your chart done?" I can pretty quickly spot it. Sometimes it's okay, but much of the time, if someone is looking for a guru, they are not really looking for anything that astrology can usefully provide. They are looking for a parent/deity who will make them safe and give them the answers that will allow them not to be afraid any more. While I have a lot of compassion for that state - we all go through it one way or another - it isn't the business of astrology to address it. The insights astrology offers go the other way. All of them really point to: "Get on with it. Get a life and work at it." These insights don't provide cosmic answers. I think any astrologer who uses astrology to provide answers of that kind is probably not doing their job very realistically.

Nick Campion: In all your years of teaching and working with astrology, have you come to a working definition of it?

Liz Greene: Nice question! Not a definition in a "carved-in-granite" sense, no. For me, astrology is a symbolic system. It is a lens or a tool which utilises particular kinds of symbolic images or patterns to make sense of deeper patterns inherent in life that are otherwise impossible to grasp on an intellectual level, even though it is possible to experience them in other, non-intellectual ways. It is a means by which life can be interpreted in terms of the underlying patterns of its rubric. And that's why I think all the other lenses - like the Tarot, Kabbalah, mythology, literature, poetry, drama, painting, sculpture - are all not only equally valid ways of apprehending those patterns, but have fed into astrology while astrology has fed into them. I don't think there is such a thing as pure astrology. To say that is like saying there's a pure English race. Astrology is a lens, a system of symbols.

Nick Campion: It seems to me that, if we take the definition of astrology as a lens, this implies that the astrologer is looking at something; in that case, we can choose to put the emphasis either on what is being looked at or on the looker, the astrologer. Then we can ask different questions, examining how astrologers' perceptions determine their astrology, or we can talk about what they are looking at, what they are seeing through the lens. Does the lens distort it? Are astrologers looking at anything real? Do you believe that there is something real out there that is astrology and that we are actually looking at?

Liz Greene: It depends on what you mean by "real." The zodiac doesn't exist in concrete terms. It is the apparent path of the Sun around the Earth, which we have divided into twelve segments; each segment is assigned an image and a set of meanings and behaviour patterns. But the zodiac doesn't exist in the sense that there are animals floating out there. So, on one level, the whole system is not real. This table we're sitting at now is the kind of thing that we define as real. If you take reality as something subtler, and you approach reality as being the connections, links, resonances, or correspondences between things, then, yes, these patterns are real. But there is no way that they can be measured in a quantifiable sense, according to instruments of so-called reality. When you ask me that, the whole problem is that I don't know what you mean by real. Or, rather, I do know what you mean, but if Richard Dawkins asked, "Is it real?" he would mean something quite different by "real" than I do.

Nick Campion: I was using "real" in the Richard Dawkins sense.

Liz Greene: In that sense, no, astrology is not real. This doesn't mean that it doesn't exist or that it is not valid, but in his sense, no, I don't think astrology is real. I believe there is an objective patterning or interconnectedness or unity of some kind or a set of resonances. You can use any phrase you like, whether it is mystical or hermetic or any other language you fancy. And it does exist outside us. It's not just in the perceptions of astrologers.

Nick Campion: You open "Relating" with a powerful quote from Gerhard Dorn, talking about the unity of everything:

"Knowest thou not that heaven and the elements were formerly one, and they were separated from one another by divine artifice, that they might bring forth thee and all things? If thou knowest this, the rest cannot escape thee. Therefore in all generation a separation of this kind is necessary…. Thou wilt never make from others the One which thou seekest except first there be made one thing of thyself."

That's a very strong statement of the idea that astrology flows naturally from an understanding of the unity of heaven and earth and of the notion that the astrological experience begins with us. You also acknowledged modern, quantity-based science in the same book, and I'm wondering whether you still agree with words that you wrote 25 years ago. You said that "astrology is ... a map of the system of laws by which the energies of life operate - an astrology vindicated by statistical research and scientific investigation." Does that represent your current thinking? I am interested in that statement because it has been claimed that there has been a change in how astrologers view scientific research and statistics as a way of validating astrology, and that negative statistical results have encouraged an anti-scientific stance amongst astrologers. So, has your own view changed since 1977?

Liz Greene: I think that research is very valuable in astrology, in the sense that it can highlight patterns. Sometimes research reveals patterns that we don't expect, and our assumptions are challenged. So, yes, it is very valuable for us to do statistical research. However, I don't think it is valid from the point of view of trying to prove that astrology works, because if you have the kind of mentality that is dead-set against astrology, you will try to blow holes in the statistics anyway. And usually you can take any set of statistics and destroy it. Astrologers can pursue statistical research for their own purposes, but there is no point in trying to convince skeptics. If I do 300 charts during the course of a year for people born with the Sun opposite Saturn, and 80% of them either had fathers who left them when they were young, or fathers who died early, or fathers who abandoned them before they were born, or fathers who were cold and distant, that's statistical research. I can then say: "Well, 80% of the 300 Sun-Saturn charts that I have done have this kind of psychological pattern." It may then be useful for me to explore further what that Sun-Saturn aspect means. But if I took that research to somebody who defines statistical research in a more "scientific" sense, they would say: "Three hundred people is nothing. What you need is 3,000 and a neutral control group." Whatever you do, they'll find a way to set other tests. I think the research we do is very important for us. Whether it convinces anybody outside, I don't really care, to be quite honest. I think we need to do it for our own constant development.

Nick Campion: Then it seems to me that, in terms of definitions of research, what you have just outlined is a qualitative approach based on case studies.

Liz Greene: Yes, in small or large quantities.

Nick Campion: The issue of whether there is anything in astrology that is "out there" and "real" often comes down to the claims astrologers make for particular techniques or ways of constructing a horoscope and the house system. Competing house systems is one of the main problems in astrology from that point of view, quite apart from the problem of the sidereal versus tropical zodiacs. How do we decide which house system to use, let alone which zodiac? You once said that "you should use the house system that works for you." That sounds like you are putting the astrologer in the centre of the equation, rather than the astrology.

Liz Greene: Only in part. I think that all these different structural approaches open a window on something, but it is a narrow window and no single one of them reveals the whole landscape. I think that's why they all have validity to some astrologers but not to others.

Nick Campion: So would you agree with astrologers who say that astrologers get the clients that they need?

Liz Greene: Yes.

Nick Campion: If you follow that idea through, then it is a very provocative one: There is a client somewhere, in a distant place, who is suddenly moved at a particular time to phone you up and ask: "Can you read my chart?" Is there a sense in which you are summoning that person?

Liz Greene: I don't know if it is summoning. I think we are back to resonances again. Let's say the Saturn-Pluto opposition is coming into square to your Sun, and that represents some kind of symbolic picture of what you yourself become at a certain time. You experience, or are buffeted by, or get in touch with, a particular kind of energy. It is both inside you and outside you. You may experience certain kinds of things in your life connected with that opposition. How you deal with them is very individual. You may say, "Right! This is a very hard, tough aspect. I am going to do a Ph.D. under this one" and make some use of it. Or you may lie back and be a victim and say, "Oh, someone's broken into my house" or "There's a riot down the road and they burnt my car" or whatever. The nature of the experience is connected to how able you are to deal with what you are at that moment. But equally, as an astrologer, you may get a whole run of clients who are resonating to what you are going through. So, you may see lots of Scorpios, lots of Capricorns, or people who are getting hit by that opposition themselves. People may come to you with a mirror that in some way resonates to the same thing you are resonating to. I don't think the astrologer summons the client. Rather, when you arrive at a certain point, things that resonate with that will come into your life. It is not causal.

Nick Campion: If you use the word "resonating" to a materialist scientist like Richard Dawkins, he would no doubt have a physical explanation of what resonance is. Are you using the word in a poetic way?

Liz Greene: Well, it is also literal. If you hit a tuning fork, and there is a properly tuned guitar sitting next to it, there will be an audible resonance. However, if the guitar tuning is imprecise, there will be nothing. That kind of resonance happens on a physical level.

Nick Campion: Does that mean that we all respond to the music of the spheres?

Liz Greene: I think that we are part of the music, too. It is a chain of constant chords and resonances.

Nick Campion: Let's go back to your example of the Saturn-Pluto opposition. If somebody with that transit can choose either to be a victim or to pursue a very structured path, like taking a university degree, then what is the nature of that choosing? Is the ability to make a choice itself linked to another astrological pattern in the chart?

Liz Greene: No. There is something that operates within resonances which psychology calls consciousness. I certainly don't have a definition of what that is, except that it is Mercurial. Consciousness is like the Mercurial figure in alchemy. It isn't limited by or bound by astrological patterns. Consciousness inhabits and expresses through those patterns, yet it can operate outside and within and around them, and it is what allows us to make choices. I think that it's what transforms our way of responding to these patterns. Either we simply are the pattern and we enact it blindly, which is what happens in all the animal kingdoms, or we bring that element of consciousness to bear. The pattern doesn't then go away, but it gets more notes in its chord.

Nick Campion: Are you saying that consciousness is somehow something extra to astrology, something beyond astrology?

Liz Greene: Yes, I think it is.

Nick Campion: That sounds like what the Neo-platonic philosophers would have called Soul. They would have said the Soul is above the body, above the stars, even. But if consciousness is beyond astrology, what about the so-called conscious planets in the horoscope, like Mercury, Venus, and Mars, as opposed to the outer, unconscious planets?

Liz Greene: No planet is guaranteed to be conscious. The planets should be seen as representing patterns. If an individual is aware of the pattern within them, the planet is being expressed consciously, but, just because it is an inner planet, that doesn't necessarily make the pattern conscious. Experience has taught me that. People may wander around totally unconscious of what the Moon means in them or what Venus means in them. Whatever pattern of motivation the planets represent is part of human nature, but we can be totally oblivious of it. We project it, we are at its mercy, we are buffeted by it, we become it, we identify with it, we're run dry by it, but we are utterly unaware that it is us. It looks like it is "out there" or it is happening to us, but it is in us - it is us. The fact that it is inner, though, is no guarantee of its being in any way connected with consciousness.

Nick Campion: But how do we know when we are actually being conscious of something?

Liz Greene: Hard to explain, that one. It has something to do with a sense of standing in a still centre and being aware - not just on an intellectual level but all the way through - of something that you know as your self, but at the same time you are not identified with it. There's some kind of space between you and it. So, if I am having a Mars transit today, and you say the wrong thing and I get really angry, then if I am unconscious of that anger, I just become angry. I don't even know I am angry. Out come the abusive words, or I take a swipe at you, or I pour my water over you. There's nobody home in the sense of a conscious individual. I have no idea of what I am about to do, what I am about to say, what I feel. I just act and then I say: "Oh, I am terribly sorry, I just lost my temper, I didn't mean to." However, if I am aware, then I hear what you said, and I know I am angry, and at that moment I may even know why I am angry. I may feel the anger, but I am not the anger, which means that I can say to myself: "Did he really mean that? What has he triggered in me?" I can then work on it; if I am still angry by the time I have finished working on it, I can then say calmly: "Are you aware of what you have just said? It was very offensive." Or I can just keep my mouth shut, because I realise that my anger has nothing to do with you: It is my problem.

Nick Campion: Then our own internal thought processes seem to be crucial. If we do see astrology as a language, then could we talk about that conscious state of mind as being Geminian or Virgoan, perhaps? Is it analytical?

Liz Greene: I don't think that it involves analysis. Some people may think it out in concepts, but consciousness is something that can be watery, fiery, or earthy as well. It is a quality of awareness, which means that one is not identified with what one is experiencing. One stands outside it, not dissociated from it, but outside it enough to actually recognise it. You can recognise it on many levels; it doesn't have to be intellectual.

Nick Campion: If a transit is a signature, then that reminds me of the astrological aphorism, one popular with Charles Carter: "The stars do not compel, they incline." Geoffrey Cornelius added: "They don't incline or compel, they signify." In that sense, are transits best seen as signposts rather than causes?

Liz Greene: I also think the planets signify. I don't believe they impel, compel, dispel, or "do" anything. They are simply signatures.

Nick Campion: One of the prevalent themes throughout all your work is the dynamic idea of astrology as a process or astrology as a path, and that we are all on a journey to somewhere. As I read what you wrote about Saturn-Pluto on my way here, I realised that you were also emphasising the concept of process and the passage through growth and decay that comes with linear time, which is evident through nature, society, and the human psyche. You also state that "these are esoteric concepts." On another occasion, when a member of the audience at a seminar tried to involve you in discussion of reincarnation in relation to Saturn and Pluto, you responded: "I really don't know about the metaphysical side of all this." So, what I'm asking is whether you, personally, have a metaphysics which influences your astrology or a grand metaphysical explanation of astrology? Or does it just not concern you?

Liz Greene: It concerns me on a personal level in the sense that I would like to know what in hell we are doing here. So, I will certainly raise the question. But I don't think that astrology itself contains metaphysics. There is no belief system attached to it. People bring belief systems to it; in a sense, you can't avoid doing that, because every human being has a set of preconceptions. So, it is impossible to say: "Well, I am not bringing my belief system to astrology." Everything I have just said reflects my belief system. I can't guarantee that the patterns that I perceive in life are really there. But I am pretty sure that something like them is there, because enough other people have been perceiving them for millennia. But as far as reincarnation, evolution, and questions about where the spirit goes after death are concerned - Do we have souls? Do we go to heaven or hell? Should we be Christian or should we be pagan? - I really have no idea. I don't think the answers to these questions are relevant to astrology itself. Astrology is simply a set of symbols describing patterns. If we impose a spiritual or religious or metaphysical order on those patterns, that's fine. But it is a personal imposition and not something inherent in astrology itself.

Nick Campion: Would you say that astrology itself is a belief system?

Liz Greene: No, I wouldn't, any more than any symbol is a belief system. I don't know what symbols are, except that they seem to emerge organically as containers of a multitude of conflicting and complicated patterns that are connected in some way. We don't manufacture them, and we certainly don't believe in them. They are there anyway. We perceive them, notice them, and make connections between them. "Believing" in astrology makes no sense to me. It is nonsense to say, "I believe in it," because belief is something you do when you have no direct experience. Astrology is something that requires experience and hands-on work to see whether it conveys any meaning or relevance. So, it is like saying, "Do you believe in your car?" No, I just drive it. I have no idea how it runs, but if it works, well, fine. People who say they believe in astrology are either using the wrong word or don't know what they are talking about. You can believe in God or you can believe in reincarnation, because we have no direct experience of these things. There are people who would say they know there is a God and that it's not a matter of belief. Okay, I can't argue with that. Maybe they do. Some people say they know there is reincarnation, because they remember the 16th century when they were burnt at the stake. Well, I am not in a position to say they are idiots or are delusional - or that they are fantasising something profoundly relevant, symbolically. I just don't know, and because I don't know, I don't feel it is appropriate to bring this into an interpretation with a client.

Nick Campion: You said that belief and skepticism were two sides of the same coin. This reminded me of a conversation I had with Alexander Ruperti at a British Astrological Association Conference around 1985. He was a student of Alice Bailey's and was deeply philosophical and very influenced by theosophy. He started getting very critical of Jungian and psychological astrologers, saying, "Oh, they don't know what they are playing with because they psychologize everything." I had an insight then that the theosophical astrologers who began the development of modern psychological astrology in the early 20th century had a spiritual metaphysics that was integral to their astrology, one that Ruperti accepted. But the psychological approach to astrology can, in fact, be deeply skeptical because it would argue that, if you believe in archangels and ascended masters (as a theosophical astrologer would), then such beliefs might be no more than your psychological projection.

Liz Greene: Yes, they might be. But looking at things psychologically doesn't mean that numinous experiences are therefore necessarily a sublimation of a pathology. Metaphysical beliefs can exist totally appropriately on their own plane. Putting a psychological perspective on astrology simply postulates that, whatever these numinous experiences are, it is human beings who report them. Whatever it is that is being reported, psychology is not in a position to assess its truth or untruth. It is just that human beings bring their own psychological processes to bear on what they are perceiving. So, if a devout Catholic has a numinous experience, they are going to say: "I saw the Virgin Mary," while an Australian aborigine is going to say: "I became one with the land," and a Hindu will experience enlightenment through Krishna. Individuals create their own lenses through which these experiences are perceived. All that psychology can say is: "Okay, something extraordinary has happened, but we don't know whether they are angels or not." Personally, I am not in a position to say whether angels exist or not. I haven't the foggiest idea. But I am interested in the person who comes to me saying he or she saw angels, because that immediately brings in the individual and their psychology - and it is a good idea to know what kind of person you are before you assume that everything that angel said to you is the truth. That way, at least you have some room to breathe with it and to navigate round it.

Nick Campion: In "Neptune", you wrote that "psychology itself, of course, may be simply another, more subtle kind of religious cosmology, as the anti-therapy lobby claims. The gap between the scientific edifice of psychoanalysis and the channelled esoteric teachings of Alice Bailey is not so great as one might think." Aside from sounding quite skeptical, I like the idea that psychology is a religious cosmology.

Liz Greene: I think schools of psychology are like that, in that their teachings tend to become dogmatic world views. Each school of psychology - with its language, hierarchies, maps of the mind, formulations of what lies at our centre and where we are going - does crystallise in exactly the same way that any religious or spiritual group crystallises. The terminology is what traps us. If you train as a Freudian, the Oedipus complex can become accepted as a reality, if you haven't got your eyes open and are not alert. The concept becomes a form through which you then identify other people's behaviour. But it isn't "real" any more than the planets are, in astrology. If you are a Jungian (and I have heard Jungians do this), you may talk about Jungian models as if they really exist. They used to do this all the time when I was doing my training. Someone would say, "Oh, I had an anima experience," because they fell in love and had a little affair on the side. The event is defined as though the anima is a real thing, a fixed point on an objective compass. But it isn't. So, it is psychology's jargon which turns it into a religious system, just as religious terminology makes religion into a system. People mistakenly use language as though it were a concrete structure that is the reality itself, whereas it is only language, and the thing it is describing is the same, whatever language you use. You don't make it more or less real by using different words.

Nick Campion: Do you think Jung himself thought that the anima was something real and concrete?

Liz Greene: I don't know. I suspect that he didn't. He was very tricky. But I think that he presents it as a system for the same reason that most psychologists present their systems. Don't get me wrong: It is not that I think language is a bad thing and that psychological language or astrological language shouldn't be used. I don't think that at all. It is just that to take it literally calcifies it.

Nick Campion: There has been quite a movement in astrology over the last 15 years to go back to a more literal astrology. The whole so-called traditional revival in astrology, while opening up knowledge in one sense, can also provide a safe haven for astrologers who are looking for certainties.

Liz Greene: Well, the same thing has happened with religion. We are all very scared; at any time when there are odours wafting up of chaos, or of things breaking down and shifting at a rate of speed that we can't control, then a kind of panic sets in on a collective level. Then there is very much a movement toward structures that will sustain us, and this has afflicted astrology as well as every other area. And it isn't necessarily a bad thing either, because fear is fear, and safety is very attractive at such times. But it is always a good idea to have one's tongue firmly in one's cheek - even if you need a more literal approach - and to have some understanding of why it is needed at that time.

Nick Campion: Perhaps it's also good to have a sense of irony. In The Outer Planets and Their Cycles, you use the term "enantiodromia" in connection with the history of Israel. What you mean is a sense of cosmic irony in which events turn out the way they are not supposed to. Is this linked to the concept of the shadow?

Liz Greene: Enantiodromia occurs when an attitude becomes very, very extreme. It then has a tendency to flip into its opposite and start behaving exactly like the thing it is running away from. It isn't just to do with the shadow. What happens is that, when you make an effort to keep anything out because of a deep fear or because you are simply not ready to deal with certain things, then you pull all the way over to one side. The further you pull, the more extreme you get and the more you lose the place in the middle where you could actually contain opposites. It is very mysterious how this works. You then take on the face of the opponent and begin to behave exactly as the opponent does, all the while accusing them of doing the very thing that you yourself are doing. You and they are doing the same. The issues and ideas polarise between two camps, or two people, or two groups, or two collectives that have something secretly very much in common. But neither can bear to stay in the place in the middle and live with the thing in common.

Nick Campion: There is a vast world out there in the arts that astrologers often ignore - particularly in the visual arts - work constructed by people who were influenced by the same mode of thought as astrologers.

Liz Greene: My favourite painters, Moreau and Redon, were steeped in astrology, mythology, and hermetic thought, and their visual images are wonderful. As you say, astrologers don't utilise cross-links with the arts enough, even when they are describing the same thing.

Nick Campion: Whereas astrology necessarily converts symbols into words, the visual artists don't have to do that. They can just stay with the images.

Liz Greene: A lot of clients don't have the privilege of doing that either. Many clients cannot think in terms of intellectual formulations of what a planet is doing. If you show them a picture or tell them a story or give them a passage from a novel or a line of poetry, it may click, whereas all the pontificating in the world on a verbal level is not going to get through. So, it is of value, not just for opening our understanding of ourselves, but in working with people.

The original article appeared in the American astrological magazine "The Mountain Astrologer" (Dec/Jan 2002). The edition is still available on their website www.mountainastrologer.com

© 2011 Selected and introduced by Trudy Baumann / Astrodienst AG.

© 2001 Nicholas Campion - all rights reserved

Current Planets
23-May-2017, 00:06 UT/GMT
Sun24' 4"20n34
Mercury78' 3"10n50
Neptune146' 8"7s04
TrueNode2834' 2"r11n58
Chiron2812' 4"2n47
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