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Review: "The Dark of the Soul"

by Liz Greene

Reviewed by Karin Hoffmann.

What else would we expect from Liz Greene: this is a fascinating and complex book which explores the human psyche in a psychologically and astrologically well-founded manner. It is a book that apparently deals with 'the others' - with psychopaths, madmen and scapegoats. And yet, the reader can feel that this also concerns him or her, and thus the book becomes highly personal.

In all three parts of the book, Liz Greene explores extreme states of the psyche astrologically. They are transcripts of seminars she held at the "Centre for Psychological Astrology".

Part I: The Psychopath

What are the characteristics of a psychopath? How does a person become a psychopath? Is the potential to become a psychopath hidden within each of us? What makes the difference?

Starting from a general perspective and leading up to the particular, the author explores the psychological and astrological signatures which are commonly associated with psychopathic behaviour. After a detailed explanation of the clinical definition of psychopathy, Liz Greene looks at several examples of people who are considered psychopaths. What do the 'Oklahoma bomber' Timothy McVeigh, Charles Manson, Slobodan Milosevic, Dr. Mengele and the 'Moors murderess' have in common?

Can we see the psychopath in the horoscope?

The Dark of the Soul
Order at:
www.midheavenbooks.com

It is fascinating, for example, that Moon and/or Venus often play a dominant role in charts of people whom we consider as psychopaths. In fact, the charts of a lot of allegedly "unfeeling" and "cold-blooded" psychopaths have an emphasis of the water element. Surprising?

From a psychological point of view it becomes clear that these people have often had difficulties to cope with their strong sensitivity and emotions in their past. They found it easier to lock their feelings away and keep them 'water-tight' so that they didn't have to feel them. But they have found other outlets for their watery side: they use their strong capacity for empathy to 'slip into their victims' skin' and find out about their weaknesses and fears in order to exploit them ruthlessly. To the psychopath it may "only" feel like striking back, like a revenge for their own hurt feelings...

So, are all people with an emphasis on water psychopaths? Or:

What makes the difference?

In her exploration of people who are considered as psychopaths, Liz Greene searches for indicators that distinguish the paths of those people from the paths taken by the 'ordinary'.

The comparison of charts of supposed psychopaths and 'completely normal' seminar participants shows that the horoscope can indicate which themes a person has to deal with in the course of their lives, however, it doesn't tell how these themes will manifest on a concrete level. The horoscope doesn't show whether someone turns into a psychopath or not.

An accumulation of certain astrological signatures can point to difficult psychological structures or patterns which can suggest a tendency towards psychopathy ("illness of the soul"). However, the astrological signatures by themselves do not suffice to recognise the potential for becoming a psychopath or to explain such a development of these "sufferings of the soul". As always, the environment, socialisation, family patterns and history play an important role - and not least: the level of awareness and the free will of the person concerned.

Even for experienced psychological astrologers, who should consider the above as self-evident, it is essential to remind themselves that this is the case. It is all too tempting to discover the "illness" in the horoscope, especially when dealing with such extreme states of the psyche. However, once these states are manifest, the chart can help to better understand the inner structures and patterns of personality.

Part II: Mental Health and Madness

What is normal? Aren't we all a little 'mad'?

Liz Greene explicitly uses the word "madness", despite the politically correct tendencies in psychology. In this part of the book she explores a phenomenon from which many of us would rather keep their distance.

The author describes the phenomenon by telling about the myths which explain the different types of madness. In ancient times, people believed that madness was sent as a punishment by the gods whose concerns had been neglected or disrespected by this person. This view may appear antiquated at first sight but it soon acquires actuality when we start looking at the 'gods' as 'the gods within ourselves', the gods who are part of our own soul. All parts of our soul want to be recognised. If we neglect them too much, they will "run amok" or at least show themselves in ways which we would not consider "normal" anymore.

In modern psychology, and with the discovery of the Unconscious, the gods were 'banned' into the depths of the psyche. We can view them as archetypal patterns in which the madness manifests.

Did you know, for example, that Dionysos' madness can result from the denial of the irrational, of chaos and the imagination? It manifests itself in excess, ecstasy, loss of personal boundaries and intensity of feeling. Astrologically, these themes correspond to Neptune, Jupiter and Saturn. Structure and chaos are in conflict. It is caused by the suppression of the powerful life force which then bursts out and destroys.

Aphrodite takes revenge on those who deny or suppress their passion. She punishes them with erotic obsession to the extent of destruction. Astrologically, we can look at the signatures of Venus, Pluto and possibly Neptune.

But also Hera, Artemis, Uranus and some other gods would punish disrespect with madness. These are also covered extensively in this chapter.

It becomes clear that the different disorders (or diagnosed mental diseases) are "exaggerated versions of the individual's innate temperament, which have become excessive because the "I" or Ego has lost - or never possessed - the capacity to stand its ground." The wounded "I" is resonant to "mad" strategies for dealing with these inner powers. The Ego cannot contain and direct these powers but is helpless and at their mercy. Liz Greene compares the Ego which cannot cope with the conflict between opposing forces to a football that is tossed to and fro between them.

The relatively strong and stable Ego has the capacity to appease the inner gods and use their powers constructively. It is certainly worthwhile to work at becoming such a stable Ego.

It is interesting that Liz Greene considers break-downs to be potential break-throughs. Rigid structures break down and contain the potential for change and for healing the self. A break-down can therefore be a "transitory form of madness".

The "madness" of others can help to encourage some thoughts about our own lunacies or follies and our own "everyday madness".

Part III: The Scapegoat

In the third part of the book Liz Greene states that turning "someone into a scapegoat [...] is a universal problem". The scapegoat is part of every mythology and every culture, modern and ancient: She explains that in so-called primitive societies, the scapegoat ritual is part of a religious framework which aims at the cyclical renewal of a society through ritualised cleansing of its sins.

Again, Liz Greene approaches the theme from a mythological and archetypal perspective, followed by reflections on the individual and collective meaning in our daily lives. Again, we are dealing with ancient motives and patterns which 'populate' the individual as well as the collective psyche. We all carry elements of the scapegoat within us but some identify more with it than others. Astrological patterns or constellations can help us understand why a person or a nation turns into a scapegoat or its opponent, the persecutor.

While being a scapegoat used to be a "sacred" task in ancient times, we have lost this connection in our modern world, and we only associate suffering with this role. In mythology, the scapegoat - and the word can be taken literally, since it was indeed a goat that was sacrificed or sent into the desert - played an important role, because it took on the sins of all and atoned for them as a representative of the others. In Christian culture, this concept is represented by Christ who takes upon himself the sins of the people and dies in their stead. Thus, the scapegoat used to be both impure and sacred. It was a "vessel for healing". Who would nowadays look at it that way?

Most of the time, the scapegoats are "the others", those who don't conform with the current norm, who are different and who deviate from the collective because of some special feature or peculiarity. In short: those who are unique in some way. This peculiarity or uniqueness might consist in kingdom or foreignness, in physical or psychological illness, in madness or magical powers. The astrological symbol for uniqueness is the Sun. We tend to search for the scapegoat outside ourselves because, unconsciously, we feel that there is a scapegoat or persecutor within each of us. Scapegoats are very common in areas like race, religion, social class, or sexuality. On a psychological level, criminals, for example, who are turned into scapegoats, take on the shadow projections of the collective. They are outsiders.

Liz Greene extensively discusses the scapegoat as a psychological complex and comes to the conclusion that, when confronted with the scapegoat, we find ourselves in a room full of mirrors. The scapegoat always deals with parts of ourselves which we consider "bad" and therefore don't want to acknowledge as parts of ourselves. It is easier to project them onto someone outside.

The astrology of the scapegoat

Taking Slobodan Milosevic as an example, Liz Greene shows which astrological factors play a role in developing a scapegoat complex. Milosevic even finds himself in the double role of the scapegoat. On the one hand, he becomes the persecutor (in Kosovo) who turns all people other than Serbs into scapegoats, and on the other hand, he himself is made a scapegoat by the Western nations and the USA exactly for doing this.

It turns out that the most significant factors are Saturn, Chiron and Pluto, and to a certain extent Neptune and Uranus. These are often in aspect to the Sun, Moon or the personal planets. This personality is especially receptive to the current Zeitgeist which is symbolised by the outer planets. People with hard aspects between Sun and Saturn, for example, might tend to take the collective's opinion of themselves very seriously. This can lead to fear of not being 'good enough' - a central part of the scapegoat complex.

If a complex assumes control over the psyche, it avails itself of the horoscope and uses it to its own ends, and the way the signs, aspects and houses express themselves is coloured by this archetypal pattern. It is not the indivudual who is at the center of things, but the complex determines what happens.

The meaning of awareness

The more aware we are of the topic of the scapegoat - individually as well as collectively - the more likely we will be able to find creative expressions for the complex: for example, by being a helper rather than a victim. The less aware we are, the more helpless we are and at the mercy of the complex.

Liz Greene recommends that we find ways to work with the scapegoat complex so that its original, sacred meaning can once again resurface. We cannot rid ourselves of the complex but we can deal with it in more creative ways. By consciously accepting the sacred task of the scapegoat, we can reconnect with the Divine.

Conclusion

All three parts of the book are fascinating to read, and the most important message for me personally is this: It is always easier to see the crazy, bad or unwanted things in the other, but we are always thrown back onto ourselves nevertheless - if we allow it to happen. Now, how do I deal with the fact that I have the astrological signatures of psychopaths, madmen and scapegoats or persecutors in my own chart? What makes the difference between me and them? Is it not that much, in the end?

A book which offers many astrological and psychological insights into the dark sides of the soul. A book that raises questions that are all but easy to answer. A book that makes us think about ourselves. In my opinion, it is worth facing up to the "Dark of the Soul".

 

Review of:
Liz Greene:
The Dark of the Soul.
Psychopathology in the Horoscope.
CPA Press.

This book can be ordered at:
www.midheavenbooks.com

 

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