Astrology, Ritual and Tarot are part of Our Story, Our Culture; ancient mythologies woven through every aspect of our lives. Every myth, every story cycle we have, reflects archetypes that have survived millennia. Every archetype in turn references a story within a mythos that is reflected across many cultures and geographical spaces; they are our broader conceptual framework for what it is to be HUMAN.
The way we interpret and synthesise our experiences is defined by our archetypical systems; and the collective and ancestral unconscious they dwell in. We like to think we are reasonable creatures but we are still prey to our instincts and irrational animal selves. This is why cultivating a wild creativity, spiritual practise and honouring traditions is important for an integrated psyche – less tension, greater self acceptance and a rich creative life (yes, even if you aren’t ‘arty’ we are all creative!)
This is sacred, it is meaningful, it is valuable, even in the modern age. It is not opposed to critical thinking and empirical science. Nor should it replace these. The creative, the realm of the imagination vivifies the search for understanding, whether existential or empirical.
The search for meaning is not concerned with a universal proof, but an ephemeral truth; truth which reorients itself as the process of discovery brings us new wisdom, pain and joy. It resounds beyond the insufficiency of words and the rational mind; it instinctively understands. Non-empirical philosophies such as Astrology and Tarot are not irrelevant to the human experience because they are intuitive, nor are they blindly ‘believed’ by practitioners to be ‘true’. Truth is constructed from the symbols of planets, signs and aspects and the client’s own input. Stories of the Gods and Goddesses, heros and their battles help the seeker to see where she is in her personal growth, how she can confront an enemy or make peace with the past.
When you sit with an Astrologer, you benefit from the process of Astrology. Your personal themes at different phases of your life change and fluctuate and these fluctuations are reflected in the transits of the planets through the signs. An Astrologer is your guide on the path through the constellations, her knowledge of the Cosmic stories helps you to construct meaning for yourself. You are your own little planet, interacting in your own little way with the greater masters of fate – Venus, Jupiter, Mars and the rest. You are wandering, we all are – through this beautiful Universe, wondering what the hell is going on.
The search for meaning is neither dismissive of nor antithetical to empirical methods of research – but it does not define itself through rational methods of data analysis. Let’s not confuse the aims of one with the tools of the other.
Archetypes are abstractions of reality; perhaps purer, somehow more real, somehow eternal and incorruptible because they are irrational ways of constructing meaning. Our story cycles are our humanity and a corpus of cultural knowledge.
Many lament ‘our lack of cultural heritage’ and are searching for fixes to this longing. And it is true, much has been lost, destroyed, sold out and much evil continues to be done through colonialism and cultural appropriation. Tradition and sacred practises, if not forgotten, are hollowed out and marketed until there is no substance left. (A continuing and serious problem in colonialist cultures is the practise of stealing, simplifying and repackaging the traditions of other groups for big profit and power. White people, we need to keep checking ourselves and working at deconstructing this ingrained behaviour. If you participate in a spiritual practise from a culture other than your own, as I do, let’s work at being respectful guests and never forget the historical and ongoing privilege which we benefit from.)
There is another way – Tarot, Astrology, Palmistry, following the seasons, ritual – these are remnants of our culture; a non-linear way of finding meaning in the existential abyss as we face the chaos of life and our inevitable mortality. Look to the sky, to a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. Remember those little sayings of grandmother and godmother “stir with a knife, stir strife”, the habits of keeping house by the season, the little threads of tradition; follow them and find your way back.
Glimpse deeper truth with your a-rational mind. Listen to your dreaming and instinctive self and make space for her. Use your reason to form a wise path of action, let your intuition inform your reason, make your instinct and logic work and flow harmoniously.
Being a Krittika birthstar Asha loves to poke holes in ideas, arguments and fluffy explanations. She also has Venus Pisces so she can’t help but be mystical and is at times prone to fluffiness herself. Asha sometimes finds herself ranting against cold empiricism that sneers at the rich spirituality and traditions we have carried with us since we first painted on cave walls. She has also experienced up close, the anti-science, anti-reason attitudes in spiritual communities that makes idealistic seekers vulnerable. Without critical thinking spiritual seekers often find their vitality prey to superstition, undue influence and in the worst cases, psychological and spiritual abuse through unscrupulous false gurus, multi-level marketing pseudo-science or other exploitative situations. You can read more about undue influence here.
Asha believes that both empiricism and the spiritual are important and support each other. Without time to muse, perform ceremony which honours our spiritual beliefs, respects our forebears or helps us to find peace, we hollow out and experience the malaise of the soul – disconnection, depression, soul-dryness. Without respect for the sciences, critical thought and the experience of legitimately educated experts we become veiled in ignorance, superstition and lose opportunities to practically alleviate pain and suffering through improvements in technology, planning and education.
Asha continues to seek answers to the big questions while she is crunching her way through pre-calculus and trying to stop procrastinating. She has loved myth and magic and the power of a good story since she was little – her Grandpa would tell her and her cousins a parable from his life every Sunday. She was raised in a Baptist church but secretly wished to be a Catholic just for the icons of Mary, candles and incense. She continues to believe that God is One and makes herself known through many avatars and aspects. In this way she found herself aligning more and more with Vedic philosophy which she has been reading since she first picked up the Siva Sanhita in 2003.
Despite this eclectic range of reading and experience she believes it is very important not to mix or dilute traditions into ONE UNIVERSAL SYSTEM as the 19th Century esotercists tried to. Not only is this colonialist bs but it makes everything revert to a boring, homogenous mean. She believes in keeping the stories rich, as treasure houses of memory and wisdom – but, the storyteller must know how to tell them so that they are helpful, healing or cautionary for those listening.