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The Mountain Astrologer

Alchemists of Soul

by Christopher Hardt

FluteFlute
God has made
Of me
A simple flute.

His hot moist lips
Blowing oceans of air
Through my heart
Have tuned my soul
To His.

Being human is the hardest thing I have ever done. I chuckle as I write this, but all mirth aside, it’s true. For most of my life, I have tried to satisfy the demands of our Western culture by achieving success and personal power. Like many, I worshipped at the altar of achievement, money, possessions, and the fantasy of perfectly balanced mental health. But my soul knew better and continually responded to a cosmic gravity, pulling me toward a much more meaningful journey that has been very challenging and yet equally rewarding — one that has led me to a fascinating discovery of authentic self. Certainly, as astrologers, we deal with the common concerns of family, relationships, finances, authority, and talents, to name a few, but on a much deeper level, we are engaged in the process of helping our clients to discover and work with the demands of soul. Many of our clients have charts alive with a web of difficult and dynamic aspect lines, both natally and by transit. Many have charts that indicate significant emotional challenges or karmic purposes to fulfill. How can we best serve our clients? Can we help them to create new perspectives and paradigms?

The Soul’s Journey

When we discover that our life journey is “meant to be,” this knowledge can be the seed of a significant paradigm shift from victim to hero — a hero on a quest to meet the demands of a soul journey.

I believe that our highest calling, as astrologers, is to go deep within the reservoir of a person’s chart, sense and touch the kaleidoscope of energies we find, and then illuminate for our clients the sacred portrait we see. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we impart to our clients is that of validation. Each of us longs to be heard, to be known, to be valued and understood. We, as astrologers, are Mercury embodied; we are messengers of the gods, so to speak, and the message we bring is that each person has a unique and perfectly designed path, one of incredible synchronicity. We affirm and validate the journey. This is no small thing. For those who have been beaten down by the vicissitudes of life, it is sweet nectar indeed to know that their life is no random mistake, that all their failures and thrashing about have meaning and purpose. Richard Tarnas wrote in his popular book, Cosmos and Psyche, “Is it not much more plausible that human nature, in all its creative multidimensional depths and heights, emerges from the very essence of the cosmos, and that the human spirit is the spirit of the cosmos itself as inflected through us and enacted by us?”1 Perhaps each one of us is known by an ensouled, intelligent cosmos.

The astrological chart is tangible proof of this great design and paints a picture of the soul’s journey and the meaning of this lifetime. I frequently give the following poem to my clients at the end of a reading. It approaches the wonder I feel for each person I am fortunate enough to work with.

One StarOne Star
I do not know how
In a Universe so incredibly complex
And vast
And stunningly beautiful
One Star,
Your incandescent flaming soul,
Can be so exquisitely timed
In its movements,
How, among the swirling colors
And brilliant lights
And endless energies,
Among the limitless
Kaleidoscope of possibility
There is perfect synchronicity.

I am astonished
And celebrate your beautiful soul
On this day
When for just a moment
We touch eternity.

Searching for the Authentic Self

Thomas Moore wrote with piercing insight, in Care of the Soul, that all of our problems, personal and social, are due to a loss of soul. He believes that, when the “ever-creative soul is allowed to rise up from the deep reservoir of life that is its home, we become unpredictable and not easily squeezed into the narrow expectations of what a person should be,”2 as dictated by cultural forces. He encourages us to live from the “burning core of the heart,” to be uniquely individual and dynamic, largely free of the pressing expectations of a culture that frequently separates us from our most authentic self. Isn’t this one of the primary goals of astrology, to reconnect people to the very essence of their souls?

I’ve kept a page from a journal of mine from 1988. I wrote that I was going to get a private counseling session and that I thought a quick “tune-up” would do me good (at the time, my career and my marriage were both suffering) and get me perfectly back on track again. Ha! What an innocent I was. I’m still getting tuned up. However, I no longer expect to be fully balanced and perfectly adjusted. It seems I was made to dance under a storm-clouded Moon. I’ve learned, too, that the soul has little concern about personal calendars or clocks. It works its own way in its own timing. Indeed, I frequently remind myself (and my clients) that “the soul knows.” The movement of soul — perhaps a heavy Chiron or Pluto transit, for instance — is never convenient but always necessary. Let’s do our clients a favor and communicate that it’s perfectly okay to be human, to be on a soulful journey.

At one time, not too long after I learned that a quick tune-up wasn’t possible, I became hell-bent on recovery and fixing all the things that didn’t work in my life. Oh, my — the books I read, the affirmation cards, the seminars and workshops and retreats and 12-step programs. I think I must have the equivalent of a doctorate in self-help, with Saturn being my advisor and coach, demanding an effort that, at times, found me on my knees begging for relief and calm winds. Finally, though, in the odd timing of soul, I came to love my tattered self and learned to live with some grace, forgiveness, and gratitude. It’s okay to work with the frustrating and embarrassing material symbolized in our charts by heavy red aspect lines and other conspicuous planetary placements. One great gift we learn from a dynamic and challenging life is compassion and understanding that we can share with others.

Once Lost, Now Found

Lost and
foundThere seems to be a fundamental law of the Universe that it profits us, as astrologers, to be aware of: Destruction and creation share an intimate and constant relationship. Something must first be destroyed to make room for something new to be created. This process is the sign of a living cosmos. Indeed, this is life — the ongoing process of creation and destruction — and it is present in every portion of the cosmos. We see this process, this continual movement and evolution, in the zodiac chart. I try to be aware of this process every day and not resist it, because as the Borg used to say on Star Trek, “Resistance is futile.” I know that if I attempt to resist this process, a cosmic two-by-four will most likely flatten me, and frankly I’ve got enough splinters on my balding pate! This is a valuable perspective to share with clients who are working through powerful transits or all-consuming lifetime issues of soul.

I am reminded of the classic quote from Nietzsche: “It is returning, at last it is coming home to me — my own Self and those parts of it that have long been abroad and scattered among all things and accidents.”3 Is this not an apt description of what may occur when a wise astrologer counsels a client. And what are the lost parts of our selves that we recover? Certainly, as we become aware of the various facets of our astrological charts, we are better able to identify parts of ourselves that may have been obscured or “lost.” The process of developing an awareness of the intricate kaleidoscope of energies we each embody helps us to integrate them into the whole. How fascinating and rewarding it is for us, as astrologers, to help others in this work!

I must confess that, at times in my life, I have been lost and separated almost completely from the knowledge of my own soul and purpose. But it seems to me that being lost can be, for many of us, part of our evolutionary process. Perhaps one must be lost before one can be found.

Currently, I am experiencing a rather significant transit of Neptune and Chiron square my Midheaven, which can wash away one’s sandcastle ego. At the same time, I am in the midst of transiting Pluto square my Sun and Moon. What I have learned is that the confusion and doubt caused by Neptune is a prerequisite to discovery. The energy of Neptune causes me to search, to re-evaluate, to question, with the primary aim of helping me come to authenticity and integrity of soul. Pluto’s concurrent transit is neatly designed to destroy whatever is inauthentic so that I may discover whatever within myself is truly authentic. Change is constant.

Fabric
I sense a gentle fabric
Stretching from the distant past
Upon which is woven
So many of my names …
Priest, Poet, Warrior,
King and Fool.

And a constant Presence
Tells me
My eyes
Have never closed.

Perhaps death then
Is simply
A silken veil
I will brush through
One more time.

Genetic Echo

I have a theory that seems very plausible and has helped me to unravel my own baffling and complex lifetime, besides helping many clients I have worked with. For me, this carries more weight than a theory, since it seems to clarify much that cannot otherwise be explained. I call the concept “genetic echo.” It seems that we are inseparably connected to past-life energies. The passions, fears, dreams, callings, vows, and relationships of our ancestors come to us and have a “voice” or an energetic presence in our lives. Thomas Moore alludes to this phenomenon in his book, Original Self, and writes of “the world the dead have made for us.” He states furthermore: “The living and the dead have equal roles,” and “the soul is a community of many interior persons.”4

Perhaps our DNA acts as a receiver of information, energies, and memories of our ancestors. I submit that this idea is rather Jungian in approach and akin to Jung’s theory of a collective unconscious. The soul that inhabits each of us is connected to the energies of past lifetimes in a most profound and complex way.

Comforting the Wounded Soul

Flute sculptureAs astrologers, what comfort can we give the deeply wounded soul? How can we explain the drastic disparity in circumstances that people experience? How do we counsel the suffering and the weary? What do we do when we see a chart that indicates a seriously challenging lifetime for a client? Answering these questions would be meat for another entire article, so for now let me just suggest a few things. First of all, for many who have been deeply wounded, there comes a time when one discovers that the wound itself can be sacred. It can be the fountainhead of a life of service, a life of profound compassion and care for others. The wound can lead to incredible insights and self-love. Perhaps the wounded soul has accepted the challenge of dealing with the most daunting circumstances in this lifetime, in order to break the cycle of generations of abuse or suffering. This person is the courageous one who will change the path of future generations. Or perhaps this person will satisfy karmic demands on an evolutionary path.

The suffering that one may experience can be nearly unbearable, but the journey, however challenging in this lifetime, is often one of great courage. I have the deepest respect for the souls who undertake such a journey. And of course the wise astrologer points to the lessons that the client’s soul is yearning to learn and experience, no matter how painful the process may be. Essentially, we become doctors of soul, way-showers, and even alchemists of soul. We can help to turn suffering, sorrow, and confusion into purpose, meaning, and understanding.

What does this all mean? For me, it speaks of a very complex Universe, one in which we are all connected by an underlying energy that enlivens and links us to one another, to our ancestors, and to all that is. Astrology is a very eloquent and remarkable system that demonstrates a vast synchronicity and connectedness. As astrologers, we have the wonderful opportunity to place our most perceptive fingers on the pulsing energy of each individual soul and its chart. Blessings to each of you as you are led to do this work.

References and Notes:
1. Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, Viking, 2006, p. 492.
2. Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, HarperCollins, 1994, p. vi.
3. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 121.
4. Thomas Moore, Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality, HarperCollins, 2000, p. 4.

Image sources:
Flute1: CC0 Public Domain, by Liblicas via pixabay.com
One Star in the Universe: CC0 Public Domain, by skeeze via pixabay.com
Lost and Found: CC0 Public Domain, by JanBaby via pixabay.com
Flute2: CC0 Public Domain, by blickpixel via pixabay.com

First published in: The Mountain Astrologer, Aug/Sep 2011.

Author:
Christopher HardtChristopher Hardt is the parent of five children and three foster sons. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University, with a bachelor's degree in Sociology and Psychology. He is also a poet, wilderness guide, and practicing astrologer. He has studied the works of Tracy Marks, Steven Forrest, Robert Hand, Stephen Arroyo, Liz Greene, and Sue Tompkins. Christopher's birth data are: September 25, 1950; 3:21 p.m. PST; Los Angeles, California. He can be contacted via e-mail: christopherchardt@gmail.com

© 2011/2017 - Christopher Hardt - published by The Mountain Astrologer

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Current Planets
24-Nov-2017, 04:33 UT/GMT
Sun25' 2"20s34
Moon46'23"18s03
Mercury2356'35"25s46
Venus2057'26"17s03
Mars2027' 4"6s59
Jupiter939'10"13s44
Saturn2659'48"22s27
Uranus2512'10"r9n12
Neptune1127'59"8s07
Pluto1737'12"21s46
TrueNode1759' 7"r15n26
Chiron2422'31"r1n16
Explanations of the symbols
Chart of the moment
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