[Editor's note: we are honored to present this excerpt, second in a series from astrologer Jessica Murray's new book At the Crossroads, An Astrologer Looks at These Turbulent Times (July 2012), a new collection of published essays available now.]
I have found astrology very useful as a lens through which to look at our confused, exciting, tormented world. It can also be used to identify our unique place in this world, for each one of us has a creative part to play. But any system that encourages us to see the long view is useful.
Any language that allows us to step back from the personal way of looking at things, and even from the societal way of looking at things—stretching our viewpoint all the way to the cosmic way of looking at things—is going to help us. All true wisdom paths offer essentially the same teachings about the purposefulness of each individual life, and about the need to identify with the present moment.
At this point in Earth’s evolution it is urgently necessary that we cultivate a new approach to learning, a new way of deriving meaning about ourselves and the world. The trove of knowledge humanity has accumulated at this point in history is nothing if not impressive, both mechanically and technologically. But we have some catching up to do where right brain understanding is concerned.
The hard sciences have sent us careening into the modern era, but they’re not much use in the soul department. Ours is a dis-ensouled age, as Richard Tarnas puts it. It isn’t just knowledge we need right now, but wisdom. It’s going to take spiritual maturity to heal the Earth and the beings upon it, starting with ourselves.
The essays in this book consider the symbolic meaning of certain hot-button current events, the underlying premise being that the ascendancy of a movie star, or the election of the first mixed-race president, or a debt crisis in the cradle of Western civilization are symbolic of something the whole group is going through. Mass events bubble up from the collective mind as part of a growth process by which humanity becomes aware of itself.
Astrological archetypes work as an interpretive schema because “real life,” just like dream life, is a flow of symbols. An angry dog barking at you on the day of a Mars transit is a symbol. So are big collective happenings, like political movements, oil spills and tsunamis. Astrology provides a marvelously precise and subtle vocabulary with which to talk about the meaning of these things.
But you don’t have to speak the language of astrology—certainly you don’t have to “believe” in it—in order to benefit from the distance it provides. Like all symbolic languages, including those of folk tales, parables and dreams, astrology helps us stand back from our literal world and find meaning on multiple levels.
Observing life from this kind of distance is not a luxury but a necessity in an era like this one. Amidst the cacophony of our information-saturated modern lives, it is perhaps harder than at any other time in history to achieve clarity of mind. Every society on Earth right now is struggling. Old structures are falling apart everywhere in preparation for more life-affirming replacements.
First and foremost, we need to maintain a compassionate detachment from the day-to-day dramas and the media-generated nonsense that passes for reality. Those who meditate or pray know how much easier a stressful day can become after copping just a few minutes of psycho-spiritual distance. This kind of distance, however we get it, allows us to see meaning in the apparent chaos. We start to feel we are part of our environment for a reason.
With enough perspective we can not only understand, but appropriately respond to these intense times, rather than merely react to them. I believe that each of us chose, on a soul level, to incarnate into this epoch. For me it’s a given that we each have all the resources we need to respond creatively to whatever arises.
But to do so we need a worldview that confers meaning on global traumas, as well as on our own. Thus equipped, we not only avoid going insane in the face of insanity in our environment, but we can find our soul-appointed role within them.
Learn more about astrologer Jessica Murray’s new book At the Crossroads, An Astrologer Looks at These Turbulent Times (July 2012), here.