The Power of Intentional Astrology
by Steven Forrest
Transiting Pluto is sitting right smack on my Sun. The “god of hell,” right up my nose. And yet, despite all doomsayers, I am still alive. When I was a young astrologer, I might have seen that transit coming and bet anyone five dollars that it would kill me. That was my training. I would have lost five dollars too.
Funny how fear gets in one’s blood as we learn astrology. There’s so much of it out there. Many of my private clients come to me knowing a little bit of about the planets—enough to be dangerous. I mention an upcoming transit of Pluto or Saturn in their charts and they grow pale, as if it’s some kind of death sentence. As most of you know, I constantly preach against that kind of astrology. Am I immune to the fear? I’ve got a student who adds a cool little colophon to her emails—“Start listening to your own lectures.” That’s a good reminder . . . for me, as much as for the rest of us.
Not to be Pollyanna here. Transits of Pluto can definitely bring us face to face with real darkness. They often offer us a chance to face our deepest fears—although “a chance” makes it sound too much like an option we might “choose not exercise.” The reality is that Plutonian times very often do correlate with the things we most fear standing right there before us, complete with sulfurous breath and fire coming out of their noses. Ask any experienced astrologer and you’ll get the same response: in Plutonian times, there is a real pattern of people being confronted with death, disease, betrayal, divorce, or grievous loss.
But then there are the people who “get lucky,” and nothing of that unpleasant nature happens. They seem to have “dodged the bullet.” What can we make of that phenomenon? Is astrology imperfect? I actually doubt that—but astrologers themselves are a different story. We are all imperfect. And the task of each generation of astrologers is to become less imperfect, to let reality speak to us through the fog of error in our books and traditions.
Pluto brings nightmares to life. We can’t dismiss that statement. But, as we have seen, predictions of Plutonian doom are not completely reliable. Pluto is sitting on my Sun now and I’m basically fine—so far.
(See how the fear creeps in?)
(But there are still a few live Sagittarians over the age of fifteen walking around, as you might have noticed, and every one of them survived Pluto conjuncting his or her Sun between 1995 and 2008.)
A few lines ago, I wrote that Pluto transits offer us “chance to face our deepest
fears.” So what do you fear? Death, disease, betrayal, divorce, and grievous loss? Of course. Everyone fears those. But what about success? What about prosperity?What about your own power? Those fears are not nearly so widely discussed, but they are very real. Failure can feel very safe and secure. Poverty can be a fabulous excuse. Avoiding our power can get us off the hook of our larger responsibilities to the human community.
When “nothing bad happens” during a Pluto transit, never think that you just “got lucky.” That’s not how the universe actually works. The reliable Plutonian principle here is not gloomy predictions about awful things happening; the reliable prediction is that you will have a chance to face your fears, whatever they are. You have grown strong enough to integrate some unconscious material. To your conscious mind, that material is “PG- 13,” and you are now fourteen. You are ready. Maybe you weren’t ready a year before.
Something that previously would have simply scared you to no good purpose can now make you stronger.
What are these fears? Your chart will tell you. That gets into the technical side of astrological analysis. To learn the details, you might read The Book of Pluto. In what house and sign is your natal Pluto? What aspects does it make? Where is transiting Pluto currently? What issues is it triggering? Answer those questions and your chart will define the basic DNA of the fear.
In evolutionary astrology, one bedrock principle in Plutonian times is always to have a look at the Moon’s south node. That reveals our deepest underlying blindness, which we assume to have its origins in a prior lifetime. Pluto transits always trigger our deepest issues and the south node always defines those issues, so the two are forever linked. That’s true even if Pluto is not making any aspects to the nodes or it rulers.
Always, every transit you experience has a high potential meaning—something connected to your evolution as a soul. A good rule of thumb is that ultimately the easiest possible path for you lies in embracing that soul lesson rather than in fighting it. In my apprenticeship programs, I have often taught a class entitled, “Intentional Transits.” The idea is that we look at the chart, not as a tool for making predictions, but rather as a guide to what we are learning and how to best navigate those questions. Instead of a crystal ball, we have a kind of wise counselor who can aim us “intentionally” toward the right, and ultimately most painless, expressions of the current astrological energy.
Each planet holds different teachings. With Pluto, a good way to frame the question is to ask yourself, “what do I fear here?” Then think about how you might overcome that fear. And again, always remember you might fear good things even more than bad ones.
My aim in these newsletters is to share ideas and thoughts about evolutionary astrology. It is not a personal blog, at least not in the sense of making sure you all know about my current mood, hair emergency, or choice of breakfast cereals. But in this edition of the newsletter, I’m using myself as an example. I am not immune to the hard side of Pluto, of course. Whe it squared my Moon, my marriage ended and I lost my home. When it first contacted my Sun, I lost a young family member under very tragic circumstances. That hurt badly and I’m still shaken by it. Grief arises; you go through it; it passes.
My Sun is in the second house, so it relates to money and possessions. Recently I experienced two minor material losses. These are trivial stories, but once we unpack them, they will carry us into deep waters. Both were very weird. First, I lost a case of telescope eyepieces. I’d had them since I was a kid peering at planets through my 6" reflector on the roof of my building in New York. I was emotionally attached to them.
And they just went poof. Gone. No idea why or how. Ditto for a light backpack to which I’d also grown very attached—I hike a lot and that pack and I had leapt merrily across many a gully and many a rattlesnake out here in the Anza-Borrego desert where I live. I missed it as much as I missed the eyepieces.
Pluto hitting my second house, and I experience two material losses. No big deal, but clearly astrology in action.
Against the backdrop of the amalgam of all human suffering, the loss of my eyepieces and my backpack are small potatoes. But they are a classic example of how astrology works, trivial in and of themselves—but rich in the contemplation of their meaning. At the first level, I was simply invited to face the fear of material loss. But always with the second house, it is helpful to consider that there might be issues of self- worth and confidence involved. Money and dignity: what strange bedfellows—but you often find them in bed together.
I grew up poor; I internalized that reality. I am not poor anymore. I was ready spiritually to face that fear of lack. And . . . this sounds really dumb . . . I realized I could buy new eyepieces and new hiking equipment.
But for me it was actually rather profound. I could face my fear of material loss and my historic adaptation to lack. The events of those losses were nothing. But they afforded me a chance to face a fear and to claim a power.
That set the stage for some Plutonian magic.
Right after all that, a philanthropist appeared on the scene, eager to support my work. Out of kindness and generosity, he has funded me to write a new book. I’ll be starting on it this summer. Right now, I don’t want to yack about the specifics of the book. Suffice to say that it will be another one to put on the shelf next to The Inner Sky or any of the others.
More to the point, I do not believe that this generous gift—(there’s a high, bright face of Pluto hitting a second house Sun)—would have come to me if I hadn’t primed the pump by realizing that I could be generous with myself and buy myself new eyepieces and a new backpack.
That’s how the universe actually works when you stop practicing the astrology of fearful prediction and begin practicing the astrology of magic, evolution, and intention. These archetypal fields are vast, and there is no escaping them. That is your fate. Your power lies in making choices that trigger the higher purposes and potentials of these archetypal fields. That is intentional astrology. It worked for me and it can work for you too.
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Photo credit: "Rosa" by Manu Jobst at Kunstfabrik
Venus in Leo
Venus enters Leo on June 6, 2015. To get a taste of the Venus in Leo vibe, consider musician Tori Amos, who has both the Sun and Venus in Leo natally. As Steven likes to say, Leo exudes "quiet dignity." You can see that quality here in this lovely image of Tori Amos, who always shines for the camera. Although style is an important component of her stage presence, her flair for the dramatic comes through her live performance, which is grounded in personal songwriting and a leonine creativity that springs forth from her natural exploration of self. In sharing her self through her work, she has cultivated one of the largest and most devote fan bases of any musical artist today.
More well-known folks with both the Sun and Venus in Leo:
- Geraldine Chaplin
- David Duchovny
- Coco Chanel
- Valerie Harper
- Claude Debussy
- Wes Craven
- Barbara Eden
- Tori Amos
- Alexandre Dumas
Venus Retrograde 2015 Dates
June 21 Start of Venus retrograde shadow period with Venus at 14° Leo
July 25 Venus stations retrograde at 0° Virgo
September 6 Venus stations direct at 14° Leo
October 9 End of Venus shadow period as Venus clears 0° Virgo
In this live webinar, Steven will explain his system for identifying the most important transits and progressions in a timing reading. He will update his guidelines, called "The Four Nets," in the context of what he has learned since The Changing Sky was first published by Bantam Books in 1986.
In the First Net, we see all the astrological biggies-major transits to the Sun, for example. By the time we get to the Third or Fourth Nets, we are looking at events we might safely ignore in a 90-minute reading - unless the earlier Nets have come up empty. This is a strategic, orderly, and effective method for organizing one's approach to a transits/progressions analysis. It puts the necessary bridge between abstract, piecemeal theory and the realities of the counseling room. These skills mark the major distinction between a perpetual student of astrology and an effective, professional-level astrological counselor.
Date: Saturday, July 11, 2015
Time: 9am Pacific Time (convert to your time zone)