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Astrology Articles
Article Title: Living the Drama of the Horoscope
Date Published:
- by Jeff  Jawer
In its several-thousand-year history, astrology has been practiced in many forms. In our present era, we can take great pride in the advances in our field that have changed astrology from a fatalistic belief system to a humanistic practice. We've gone from the doom and gloom of ancient astrology to the self-deterministic model pioneered by Alan Leo and expanded by Dane Rudhyar and others. We have learned that our relationship with the heavens is ongoing and dynamic rather than fixed and rigid.

Our relatively new philosophy of astrological practice has enabled us to combine elements of modern psychology with our age-old methodology. A client is now usually directed to the possibilities in the chart. Squares and oppositions are recognized as challenging opportunities for change and growth. Those friendly sextiles and trines are seen as possible avenues of gain that must be activated by human will. However, in spite of these advances, much of modern astrology remains strictly a mental experience. The astrologer talks, the client listens; the client talks, the astrologer listens. We have become Freudians without the couch. Our clients tend to be well-educated individuals who willingly engage in this basic dialogue. The difficulty here is that words alone can not convey the full meaning of the birth chart. Emotions and actions are left to the client. The astrologer is often little more than a translator of astrological symbolism.

New Directions

The origins of astrology are enveloped in the dim light of a distant age. It is thought by some that astrology is as old as time, that it began with the first sunrise and will end with the last sunset. The belief that astrology was common to all ancient peoples is documented by historical records. We find astrology in almost every culture in the world. Without reference to the Sun, Moon and planets no agricultural society could have ever developed. Without astrology there would be no clocks or calendars to measure time's passage. Astrology's function, however, expanded well beyond the simple requirements of agrarian society. Its true function was, and still is, to explain our relationship with the cosmos. The ancient gods and goddesses of Greece and Rome, usually associated with specific planets or parts of the sky, tell much of the story. The "humanization" of the gods can be seen as an attempt to bring cosmic principles down to human levels.

Who among us truly knows Jupiter? Astrologers generally do not sit and meditate under the evening sky to understand its meaning. Instead, we have created, over time, a series of myths or stories to describe planetary influences. But, the new planets our modern astrology have changed our understanding of the original planets. The function of Saturn as Gatekeeper or Lord of the Dead has been largely superseded with the discovery of Pluto. Perhaps this is because our current technology allows death to take place on a massive scale unbounded by wealth or social class. Saturnian fences can no longer protect us from environmental excesses. How have the relatively new planets Uranus and Neptune changed astrology? Is Jupiter no longer nurtured by Piscean compassion? Has Saturn lost control over our Aquarian impulses? These questions cannot be answered by ancient theory; they can only begin to be answered by experience. Dane Rudhyar has said that every culture has its own astrology and that to know astrology you must know the culture in which it is being practiced. We can only understand what astrology has become today by examining the historical currents of our times.

The twentieth century has seen an explosion of ideas, techniques and radical political and social change. It began with the rise of Freud and his psychoanalytic theories and has continued to the present when all beliefs, all practices and methods, are being changed and challenged daily. Why then have astrologers remained glued to their charts? Why must a natal T-square be only a diagram on a chart form? Isn't a T-square a pattern that describes human behavior and feelings? A typical reading takes place between two individuals seated together looking over the chart form. The astrologer describes, the client either responds or doesn't. We offer sage advice, give warning and encouragement to those who come to us. Our methods, however, are little different from those of our predecessors. We practitioners of this so-called uranian science often hesitate to exceed the boundaries prescribed by our teachers. This is no longer the world of Alan Leo or Evangeline Adams. While we have been patting ourselves on the back for rejecting the deterministic model of the ancients, we too often fail to move astrology from the head to the heart, from the mind to the muscles.

Astrological Psychodrama

Astro-Drama is the theatrical presentation of astrological principles. Although its roots stretch back to the festivals of the ancient world, its message has been lost among the books, papers and articles that overwhelm us.

In the distant past, people related to the planets as living things. Jupiter did not represent bounty; Jupiter was bounty. Saturn was not a symbol of privation; it was privation. The ancients recognized the essential energies of the Sun, Moon and planets as real, not symbolic. Periodic celebrations of the planets enabled our ancestors to keep in touch with their energies. Specific planetary dances were another way of remembering the planets. The modern student of astrology often begins learning from this ancient base with a sense of excitement. But the student can easily become lost; technique can replace touch; method can replace feeling. Wisdom is lost.

I began thinking about Astro-Drama in early 1977 when taking an intensive program in astrological study. I was reminded that, while psychology has been bursting with new methods in counseling, astro- logy in delineation has remained a straitlaced, sit-down affair. In the 1920's, Dr. J. L. Moreno began his pioneering work in group psycho- therapy and psychodrama. His methods enabled individuals to break from a conservative therapist-patient relationship into something less structured and more natural. The techniques of role-playing which make up a large part of psychodrama and gestalt therapy can be applied to astrology as well. For example, a client mayhave natal Venus in Scorpio square natal Uranus in Leo. This aspect can be described by the astrologer as a spasmodic attitude toward love and relationships. We may find that the client is unable to maintain long-term relationships, that he feels his self-worth demands erratic or unpredictable behavior. The essence is simply that the Venus principle of love and value must be continually stimulated by new occurrences or unexpected responses. We could tell the client this and might be able to find its cause. Perhaps the family situation did not provide a stable foundation of love and appreciation and, in defense, unusual behavior was required to gain attention. In psychological terms, we might say that the client has an aversion tostable relationships, that these do not nurture or support the aims of this person. Of course? there are few among us who desire such unreliable relationships, but this is what this person must work through.

The Square: Venus vs. Uranus or Mars or . . .

In an Astro-Drama workshop in Baltimore, I worked with the natal charts of several individuals from the audience. I worked with specific aspects within natal charts. Instead of talking about them, we played them out. A young man with Venus in the 6th house square Uranus in the 3rd was the first to play. I told him that we would play a scene in which I would be Uranus and he would be Venus. We were lovers, I said, and I (as Uranus) was coming to tell him that I was going to leave, to break off our relationship. Of course, as Uranus I gave him little warning; my urge was to be free, not to accommodate. He, as Venus, was surprised and hurt by this. When I told him I had come of age and was now ready to leave, he resisted. His Venus is Scorpio would not allow me such freedom of action. I reminded him that he had taught me to get the most out of myself, that his emotional support enabled me to be as free as Uranus in Leo truly is. His response was, "But I made you everything you are. You can't leave me."

This unrehearsed skit clearly demonstrated Venus in Scorpio's need for control in relationships. The young man was saying what he felt, not what he thought he should say. We left the problem unresolved for the moment and switched roles. Now I was Venus left in the lurch and he was free-wheeling Uranus. He expressed his need to be himself and to be free from me. I held on as only Venus in Scorpio can. The result was that, simply by role-playing this aspect, the young man began to have a greater sense of its meaning. We were not professional actors, but we played our characters true. Here were Venus and Uranus talking about their conflicts not in the abstract, but in a lifelike situation. I can't promise that the young man is no longer chal- lenged by this aspect. The nature of this square will be with him always, but now it is something alive and tangible to him. He knows how it feels to be suddenly cut adrift; he knows how much he needs to free himself from possessiveness and jealousy. The exchange was not calm, easy and intellectual. It was lively and real. Astrology came to life.

The use of Astro-Drama in counseling is modeled after Moreno's work in psychodrama. The idea is not to judge, but to present possibilities, so that choices made in the real world will have the benefit of astrological insight. The process of getting up and "being" the planet reduces intellectual defenses and promotes real feelings. Perhaps the key to successful Astro- Drama is a basic understanding of the "characters" involved— the planets. If I asked you to be venusian, I'm sure you could do a reasonably accurate portrayal of that gracious beauty. Those playing Mars are encouraged to display the passions that this planet emits.

Venus-Mars aspects within and between charts are often reliable indicators of the needs to love and to act. For example, we could take an individual with Mars in Libra in the 1st house square Venus in Capricorn in the 4th. This person may act with awareness of the need to balance self-assertion with social propriety. Mars in Libra in the 1st is saying, "I want to do my own thing, but I want someone to do it with." The Mars urge in Libra describes the need for cooperation and compromise. Venus in Capricorn in the 4th, however, is saying that love comes through self-respect, that the individual feels valued through his ability to maintain inner control and discipline. This Mars wants to open up to others while Venus wants some distance. We might role-play this by having the individual begin expressing Mars. He might be seeking partners or validation in others. We could ask Mars to get others involved in his activities. Another person might play Venus in Capricorn. "It's no fun unless I make the rules" or "I don't need to get involved in your silly games." Venus would be aloof in Capricorn. Its character naturally stands apart from one so desperate as Mars in Libra. Mars entreats, Venus retreats. The client playing Mars will have a chance to see how much he tries to draw others into his world. The conflict with his own Venus may bring home the conflict within himself.

The Astro-Drama does not theorize, but creates situations where these energies can be faced. Role reversal is then used for the client to center on his Venus side. Others may play that politely pushy Mars so that he may see how he comes across. In the end, the client should have a clear picture of these two needs. The goal is not to eliminate this conflict; it is an important ingredient in his growth. Awareness, however, might allow him to better recognize his needs and meet them accordingly.

There is no compromise within squares. The astrologer's job is not to turn squares into trines, but to show the client the range of possibilities available to him. We might discover that Venus' needs in Capricorn require the dynamism of Mars in Libra. One must cooperate in order to gain authority. It is simply the balancing-out of these energies that is needed. Knowing one can be pushy is only a sin if one fails to learn how to push judiciously. Social significance is failure only when it destroys cooperation with others.

The astro-dramatic model for aspects is particularly valuable in couple counseling, when the conflicting energies comes from two different individuals and are more clearly defined. The person with Mars in Libra in the first may need the companionship of his partner when her Venus in Capricorn in the 4th feels resistant to new experiences. Mars will be taking Venus into areas that are unfamiliar to her. This could upset her need for that which is tried and true. A scene between these two would go a long way to clarifying and validating feelings. You don't have to be like the other person, but you need to understand and respect your differences.

Other Role-playing Possibilities

The use of Astro-Drama can be extended into several areas. We can use the influence of aspects to describe the differences between an individual with Mercury square Saturn and one with Mercury square Neptune. We could create a scene in which the participants are asked to observe and comment on an emotional scene between two other people. The Mercury-Saturn person will be asked for specific observations and advice on how to deal with the situation. He can be directed to be firm and sure in his comments. The Mercury-Neptune might be asked about his feelings. His comments needn't be so specific but should deal with the emotional aspects of the issue. We might expect Mercury-Saturn to try to delimit the problem, to reduce it to workable terms. The Mercury-Neptune person may be less directly helpful, but could provide a buffer of understanding between the disputants. In this case we are asking each individual to play out his own chart. What we will have demonstrated is that people look at things differently; that individual perspective is not a matter of right or wrong, but a matter of personal expression. To increase understanding, we might again have the two change roles. Mercury-Saturn will now be called upon to be neptunian. We will solicit his feelings and impressions but not ask for conclusions. Mercury-Neptune will now be asked for some concrete advice. We will have found that the first run-through was easier and more natural. The second, however, may do more to broaden the participants' abilities to express themselves with greater perspective than before.

The Drama of Teaching . . . and Learning

Much of my original work with Astro-Drama has been with actors and dancers. We were producing a play based on the meanings of the planets. It was therefore necessary to teach astrology to the performers. We began initially with a brief discussion of astrology-its origins its purpose and its methods.

The modal principles of cardinal, fixed and mutable motion were our first objective. Every activity can be measured by its beginning (cardinal), center (fixed) and end ( mutable). Breathing was used to demonstrate this tripartite perspective of motion. First, take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, let it go. (This exercise is from Bil Tierney's excellent book Basic Astrology for a New Age.) Through this technique we are able to recognize that action must indeed have its beginnings (intake of air), center (holding), and end (releasing). The performers were able to develop the concept of modality through their own breathing.

Next we used walking to demonstrate the same principles. As they walked around the room the participants were reminded to be aware of the moment their feet left the floor, the slight hesitation before stepping down again and then replacing the foot on the floor. Here again action is used to demonstrate modality. Beginning, middle and end (cardinal, fixed and mutable) become concepts of action and being. The lesson was easily learned.

The next problem was the presentation of the elements. I briefly described the qualities of fire, earth, air and water. The group was then led through a movement improvisation based on the elements. With my direction, they were able to experience the energy of fire. They were asked to feel the heat, to move like flames, to be fire. In our first improvisation, one of the dancers decided to do Leo, fixed fire. He curved his arms and bowed his legs as if he were a pot-bellied stove. The fire that he expressed was not active like the others, but he kept moving his arms slowly to simulate the radiation of heat from a central source. The others flickered like flames, jumped to their capacity. and produced a room full of wonderfully fiery energies.

To understand the earth signs, the performers were directed to move through space with an awareness of shape and texture. I reminded them to pay attention to the "feel" of the ground as they moved. They moved more slowly now, with all efforts directed toward feeling their bones and muscles. Some were relatively still, in pose; others explored the shape of the rooms, the texture of the floors and walls. For air, the performers were directed to feel the breeze in the room. The heavy movements of earth were changed to light and gentle steps. I asked them to rely on their minds, to experience the gentle currents of their thoughts. In the water segment, the performers were directed to their innards. Gut feelings, security needs, and emotions were called forth and allowed to waver through the water dance. Individuals flowed, glided and melted in the room.

These exercises were designed to create "pure" environments, to enable the participants to actualize the elemental energies rather than simply discuss them. Afterward, we talked about our feelings regarding the different exercises and found that some people felt more at ease doing some elements and less able to do others. One woman found that fire was very difficult for her to conjure up. Others had difficulty with other elements. We found that the lack of emphasis on an element in the natal chart often coincided with these responses.

The next step was to direct the performers through the signs of the Zodiac. At this time we used improvisational music to back up the commands I gave. We began with Aries. All the participants were seated on the floor. At my command (punctuated with a loud drum crash) they jumped up to begin life. I asked them to be newborns, to thrash and push against the world around them. As the group crashed about, I kept reminding them to be, to act; not to think. The room was full of wild energies as the performers began to exhaust themselves through this simulated process of birth or beginning. Taurus provided a natural contrast to the Arien activity. Slowly, softly and gently they were led to a state of comfort and ease. "You have earned your place here in Aries; you have battled for life and now you may rest and enjoy." The Taurus movements were slow and easy. The group was invited to enjoy the feel of their newfound bodies. They gently pushed against one another and enjoyed the touch of flesh. This peaceful moment was then changed to the flickering moods of Gemini. "Look up," I said. "Everything is interesting to you. Talk, communicate, discover. Don't dawdle; there's another interesting sight around the corner." The room was filled with buzzing, as whispers, jokes and bits of nonsense filled the air. Movement in one direction was quickly changed to another direction. "Attention must scatter. To the winds!" I cried.

These first three signs demonstrate a very primitive aspect of being. Pure action (Aries), physicality (Taurus) and mentality (Gemini) were unattached to personal feelings. In Cancer the performers were reminded of their inner selves. Clutching stomachs, they looked inward to remember who they really were and where they came from. Every motion was filled with feeling; nothing could be excluded. The group became a mass of almost sobbing individuals, home at last. Leo then offered the opportunity to take that self and express it openly. Grand gestures and displays were encouraged while other played children's games. Each vied for attention, but alas, not all could be monarch. We ended Leo with a reminder that even the greatest of kings required help in his endeavors. In Virgo, the troupe moved carefully and lightly. Attention was drawn to the most minor details. As this coincided with the end of the day's session, we used the time efficiently by cleaning up the room as part of the exercise!

This experience of the first six signs enabled the performers to "remember" their astrological meaning when it came time to play their roles on stage. Eventually, over thirty performances of our original play MoonMyth were given. An interesting sidelight was some information given me by the man (a Pisces, of course) who played Neptune. He knew that his character was highly suggestible and should respond subtly to the forces around him. As he moved on stage, his actions were changed according to the planets with which he came in contact. He would move with the tides of the Moon, but would become fixed water when he was with Pluto. When close to Mars, he saw himself as water crashing on the shore and varied his character accordingly.

The Three-Legged Table

The use of improvisations with astrological novices is a valuable teaching technique. Henry Weingarten has used planetary role-playing in his NASO school in New York. He has demonstrated the nature of a singleton planet by separating himself from the class seated before him. The concept of this "isolated" planet was easily understood when put in this real-life situation.

I've used Astro-Drama to demonstrate the dynamics of T-squares in several workshops. One example was for a chart which had the Moon in Aries in the 9th opposing Mercury in Libra in the 3rd and square Uranus in the 12th in Cancer. Here we have a dynamic situation in which the mind and the emotions appear to be at odds. Uncontrollable impulses leap from the unconscious to further confuse the issue. One person played each one of the planets in this pattern. The Moon in Aries person was pushy and impatient for action. He kept insisting that his feelings come first. The Mercury in Libra person kept equivocating. She tried to reason with the Moon, but could not give him the single answer he was looking for: As Uranus in the 12th, I waited for inopportune times to burst in with emotional irrelevancies.

The three of us had a confusing, circular conversation that did little to explain how to deal with these diverse energies. We were tense and just a bit out of control. Astrological practice has taught us that a T-square is a three-legged table: the energies involved are out of balance and can be a primary source of stress for the individual. We can find a way to balance these energies by positing a planet in the open leg of the T-square, in this case Capricorn in the 6th house. We obviously needed some control of our functions in order to have the Moon, Mercury and Uranus work together rather than against one another. A fourth person was called upon to play a hypothetical Saturn in Capricorn. She immediately calmed us down! She would not permit any part of the pattern to take control, throwing the others out of balance. She caused us to see how we functioned as parts of a whole individual, rather than as mere pieces of a chart. This Astro-Drama was able to demonstrate how the different planets pull at one another in a stress pattern. The building nature of the square aspect could only be fulfilled through control of the energies involved. The individual whose chart we were using could clearly see the challenges she faced between her objective perception and her subjective emotions. Playing the planets brought them to life and clearly outlined the nature of the stress in her chart. Application of the fourth-planet technique opened up doors for her by showing the necessity for order within herself. She is now able to recognize that emotion needn't pay for perception and vice versa. Each has its function within a well-integrated person. By physically placing ourselves in the T-square pattern, we were able to visualize the different directions and drives represented in the chart and were therefore better able to understand its meaning.

Another way of teaching using Astro-Drama is to ask students to describe the planetary or Zodiacal energies behind their everyday activities. Washing up in the morning and brushing the teeth remind us of Mercury's attention to detail. Rushing to the car to get to work on time is a lesson in martian haste. The rigid discipline of the old classroom teacher is reminiscent of Saturn's realm. Those of us in astrology will often use these terms to describe our experiences. "That guy sure is saturnian." "That guy (the one with the nervous tic and the endless monologue) is quite mercurial." Our astrological school, therefore, is in front of us each and every day. There is no activity of human experience that cannot be described in astrological terms. The beginning student is encouraged to use lists of planetary and Zodiacal traits to relate life to astrological literature. Everyday we see before us expressions of the planets in human form. Just as Astro-Drama is designed to feed more than our minds, it can also take learning from the classroom and apply it to real life.

Astro-Dramatic Heritage

Perhaps the performance aspect of Astro-Drama comes closest to recreating the astrological festivals of the ancient world. On a night with the Moon in Aries (and hopefully in aspect to Mars) we could celebrate martian energy. Games of speed and quickness may be part of the program. Discussions of firsts (first love, first job, etc.) may ensue. The participants may be treated a bit brusquely to reinforce Mars' message. The group may then play scenes in which their natal Mars can be portrayed. A person with Mars in Scorpio may try to get others to do his work for him, while the one with Mars in Virgo may be extra sure to take care of himself. Evenings such as these can be devoted to different planets. The goal is to get the group in touch with the essences of each planet. Red headbands for Mars night or billowy clothes on a Jupiter evening can enhance the atmosphere. We may not, of course, get to know Jupiter or Mars in a literal sense, but the joy, the hope, the aspirations that Jupiter symbolizes can be vividly portrayed within the group.

These planetary celebrations serve several purposes. They offer instruction in astrology, they bring insights to the participants, and they unite the group through a shared experience. Remember, we are all the planets; only by touching each and every one of them can we be whole. The celebration of planetary energies harkens back to the Saturnalia of old. The pure expression of these energies can serve as a link with something more primitive, but also perhaps more real than all the books in the world. While some might consider it a bit dangerous to simulate the Mars energies of a group of people, I have found that real expression of these energies releases them so that we may be free of their excesses. The actor who has played Mars in over thirty productions and rehearsed his role several dozen times more has told me that he feels very peaceful and loving when the play is through. Perhaps the polarity principle best expressed through the Chinese Yin-Yang was activated. He was such a good Mars that he created a space for the expression of Venus within himself!

Ground Rules

For those interested in running an Astro-Drama session there are just a few simple rules. The first is that someone has to take the role of the director. This person is responsible for organizing the group and leading it. In psychodrama, the director is often a trained therapist whose skill in the game should be matched with intuition and sensitivity. When you begin to open people up, you need to know how to put them together again. The director should be well-versed in astrology, with the ability to think on his feet. It is the director's job to see that the participants experience themselves and their charts in a constructive manner. This is not to say that an individual with Venus in a T-square with Saturn and Neptune should be told that love and relationships come easy, but that these energies are both purposeful and workable. It is the job of the director to be adept at both diagnosis and prescription. There is little value in exposing sensitive areas unless you are willing and able to deal with them.

The session can work in several ways depending upon the make-up of the group. If you are doing a one-shot-that is, dealing with people with whom you are unlikely to work again— then clarity and simplicity are most important. You can begin by discussing your ideas about Astro-Drama and what you would like to accomplish that day. It helps if the director has sufficient self-confidence to allow him or her to be open and relaxed. It is important to remember that skilled acting is not the goal, but that honesty is. Using our charts to avoid aspects of our being is another no-no. To say that I have the Moon in Scorpio in the 8th and therefore will not be able to open up emotionally is like saying that I came from a bad home and can never be successful. The horoscope is a map of as well as to our- selves. Each planet, house, sign and aspect is a key that will enable us to open and grow. We all have all twelve signs in our charts. The goal of our work is to know ourselves so well, to be ourselves so completely, that we become freed of our individual bondage and are able to draw on all the forces of our universe.

In an ongoing Astro-Drama group you can afford to be a bit more personal and experimental. In psychodrama, the group will discuss their feelings in the beginning of the session. Then the group and the director decide which persons to work with. The ongoing sessions allow the group to deal with personal issues in greater depth with follow-up at future sessions. Insights gained can be applied to real life, and the results can be reported back to the group.

Beginners with little or no knowledge of astrology can participate in simple Astro-Drama sessions. Sun signs alone are often enough to touch responsive chords in the players. For example, we could take a Leo and a Pisces and ask them to play the role of a politician giving a major address. It will be interesting to see if the Leo is more effusive than the Pisces; perhaps not, as we know that all the factors in the chart contribute to personality. However, we are likely to find that the participants unwittingly play their Sun sign stereotypes. You could inform the players about some of the basic meanings of their signs and have them proceed from there. You could, again, have them reverse roles so that the Pisces is called upon to be more flamboyant while Leo might be asked to be a bit more low-key.

You cannot predict what the participants will do (which is part of the fun). At one workshop, we used a man who had some severe aspects to his natal Moon. I asked him to play a role in keeping with that purported stress. He tried, but he couldn't be what I asked him to be. Instead, he played his role with a sense of balance and understanding that was surprising. His comment was that he used to be much as I described, but had learned enough to eliminate most of the negative sides of his chart's behavioral manifestation. This was a beautiful case of an individual living up to the highest potential of his horoscope. In this case, the Astro-Drama was unsuccessful only in that it did not turn out as expected. In reality, however, we learned about growth and saw it demonstrated through the openness of this man. His unwillingness to be other than what he really was was not a hindrance to the game, but a very positive variation of it.

You can operate an Astro-Drama workshop on several levels. The Sun sign exercise mentioned above is particularly good for beginners in astrology or the Astro-Drama form. The director must have a ready supply of skits for the players. These will come from his ability to synthesize astrological components so that they tell a story. If the director is adept enough with astrology and groups to be spontaneous, this will allow an easier flow of energy. Planetary subjects make good Astro-Dramas. At one session in Atlanta, another astrologer and I worked on Venus and Mars in relationships. The Venus in Scorpio who wants to hide his love away was matched with the Mars in Sagittarius person who wants more open relationships. We created a situation in which they were out on a date. Well, you know old Venus in Scorpio didn't want any crowds around while Mars in Sagittarius was ready to invite the whole world in! This scene clearly allowed the group to see the differing needs of these individuals. The purpose was not to make fun of or ridicule anyone for their differences, but to recognize them. The end product is not a society in which those with Venus in Scorpio avoid those with Mars in Sagittarius, but one in which we can understand and respect one another's differences. Again, referring to the Zodiac common to all of us, I feel than an important lesson is for each of us to avoid our own traps. Being flexible (mutable) allows possibilities that are broadening, not restricting.

Couple Counseling

In the Venus-Mars Astro-Drama, we worked with two people's charts, but we could have worked with planets within one, chart as well. Perhaps, however, it is in couple counseling that Astro-Drama has the most potential. Here is a situation in which two people have a relationship. The conflicts and challenges they create for one another earl be avoided by separation, but the lesson is that you will be met by challenges within your own chart, so why not work out with others that which is part of yourself.

The technique of synastry is basic to couple counseling through astrology. Its premise is simple: that the planets in one chart affect those in another. If you have Venus in Cancer and I have Saturn in Cancer, then that is a very important aspect for us to work out. We share the need to deal with issues of emotional security, but we may meet them in different ways. Venus in Cancer can become secure through closeness; Saturn in Cancer through self-sufficiency.

The effect of Saturn on Venus and Venus on Saturn is easily demonstrated in the Astro-Drama. Saturn represents limits and boundaries; Venus, love and acceptance. The Venus person can role-play the graciousness and relatedness of this planet. The Saturn person should move slowly, with great care. Saturn's energy places barriers around all it encompasses. Perhaps Saturn can physically hold Venus while she struggles to get away. In true venusian fashion, she may try to charm her way out of this bind. She needs to please, but may feel that Saturn is smothering her. Saturn, in turn, may be covetous of her beauty and reluctant to let her go.

A simply physical action like this might have two results. First, Saturn may overpower Venus, not allowing her to escape. This would show Saturn's holding power. Second, Venus could entreat Saturn to release her. Success here would show Venus' ability to gain through charm. A couple with a Saturn-Venus conjunction may try this in several different scenes. If the con- junction is in Gemini they may struggle with ideas; in Cancer, through their feelings, etc. The Venus person may actually feel the dominance of the Saturn person. This could be telling them about some real restrictions within the relationship. The Saturn person may feel himself weakening to the charms of the Venus person and may be charmed into letting her go. These could demonstrate some of the less workable aspects of the relation- ship.

However, we might find that Saturn is gentle and provides Venus with protection, not restraint. On the other hand, we may find that Venus appreciates Saturn's sense of duty and will positively reflect this through pleasing and self-satisfying actions. In real life, all this and more is likely to occur with such a couple. All the Astro-Drama does is demonstrate it and give the participants a chance to express themselves in a safe, playful environment. It is therefore very important that the group feels a sense of trust for the director. The idea is to have people open up. There are no right answers, no applause; only the satisfaction of learning something meaningful about yourself. Toward that end, the director should be very careful to ensure an environment of trust and freedom. One of the better ways to do this is for the director to use his own chart to reveal his frail- ties. It is only by confronting situations that may be embarrassing that we can become the divine fool-a fool to some, divine to others. We cannot exceed our present limits until we are willing to make mistakes!

Returning to couple counseling: We should remember that role reversal is one of the best ways to understand your partner. If your Venus is being smothered by the other's Saturn, then your moment to play Saturn will let your partner know how you feel about control, repression and so forth. We can go further with couple counseling by utilizing the recently popular technique of the composite chart. This mathematical combination of two charts produces a third chart that is said to represent the couple together. Stresses within the composite chart can also be role-played through Astro-Drama. A couple with a composite Venus-Pluto square, for example, may find that they love each other deeply but still act destructively with one another. The underlying meaning is that the Venus principle of love needs to be pushed to its limits. Each can play Venus, and each can play Pluto. Venus will be trying to please, saying that every- thing is o.k., wonderful. Pluto can glare at Venus; he may call her names or declare that her love hasn't the depth of a thin wafer. Pluto might also play the part of the reluctant lover, the one who needs to be drawn out time and time again. As the couple plays this scene, they may discover what it is that they want from one another. A long-standing, compulsive relationship that is destructive in nature may blossom through the compost heap of years of abuse. Situations such as these, however, demand more than one simple play. The natal charts should also be used to highlight the nature of the relationship. In the end, though, it is the couple who must take responsibility for themselves and be willing to deal with the sludge they drag to the surface.

The "Doppelganger"

One of the primary techniques of psychodrama is that of the double. A double is a person who moves with the central character and adds ideas or feelings that the central character may not be expressing himself. It is the role of the double to present alternatives. Usually two doubles are used at the same time so that the central character has two perspectives in addition to his own. In a situation where a person is playing out his doubts as represented by Neptune or Saturn, we can have one double support and the other tear down the aim of the central character. For example, a person with Neptune and Saturn square the Sun could be working a scene in which he has to confront his boss about some issue. Two differing emotions may be at work here. The saturnian one is about taking control and being firm, while the neptunian one may favor flexibility. The central character can do a soliloquy in which he talks about what he should do. As he paces, the Saturn double can follow behind exhorting him to be forceful, to demand his rights. On the other side, the Neptune double can chip in with advice to lay low and try to go with the situation. The central character talks to these doubles as if they were his own inner voices. Neptune suggests the gentle approach, Saturn demands results. In either case the central character is exposed to choices which may well represent the range of response he actually feels. This technique can be particularly valuable for individuals who are about to undergo some intense transits or progressions. Instead of living in fear of Saturn going over your natal Moon, you might have a session in which you foreplay possible consequences of this transit. The actual experience of discipline or reorganization that Saturn demands may clearly demonstrate the positive potential of this transit.

Limitations and Possibilities

The only limits of Astro-Drama are the limits of astrology and the players. Anything that can be measured astrologically can be played through the drama. We could, for example, imagine a meeting between two great historical figures and play them out. We could, as easily, play out the charts of our parents. In any case, the key is the application of basic astrological principles to real life situations.

We can be Richard Nixon's chart and show how Jupiter in Capricorn allowed "necessary" but illegal activities to take place within his administration. Certainly Nixon's sextile between Jupiter and Venus in Pisces may have led him to believe that he couldn't possibly be removed from office. Would you like to be that Venus in Pisces, so sensitive yet blind to others' perception of him, while pompous Jupiter declares that this could not possibly be happening to a man in his position? We could even do the charts of nations to better understand their conflicts and common interests.

It is vital that you be well-grounded in understanding the basics of astrology to exploit Astro-Drama fully. You need to understand, not parrot, the meanings of the planets, signs, houses and aspects so that you can recognize them in their myriad combinations. This ability is equally vital in traditional astrological counseling. While some may succeed through textbook interpretations, the skilled counselor knows how to bend the rules, to see between the lines and make interpretations that are meaningful in real life situations. Armed with this skill and the desire to engage your heart, guts and soul, you are prepared to do the work of an Astro-Drama director.

The planet Pluto entered Leo in 1937 and permanently exited that sign in 1957. The first known appearance of Pluto in the sign of the heart center has brought great changes to our world. The death-of-ego concept that carried such force during the sixties is primarily part of the energy of those born during this period. For us this lifetime is one in which the ego must indeed die, but only to be born again. We cannot negate ourselves in some aimless trip to Nirvana. We must consciously and knowingly drag ourselves to the bottoms of our hearts to see that of which we are made. As we enter this Age of Aquarius, we cannot forget its opposite sign, Leo. The death of the ego is only a temporary measure whose purpose is to regenerate the heart center. We have become intellectualized (part of the price of this Aquarian era), sophisticated and detached. But Pluto, like fear, cannot be avoided. It will haunt us like a shadow until we bring it into the light of day. Pluto in Leo demands that we experience our child-self, that we know ego, feed it, kill it and then resurrect it with a greater sense of purity and purpose.

The idea behind astrology is that it gives meaning to an otherwise chaotic universe. Through Pluto in Leo we have attempted to return to the roots of our creative processes. We can hear inner voices of primitive dances and crude ceremonies from a distant ethnic past. We cannot let this lie, but we must bring to the surface this memory of shared experience. Aquarian mentality is only viable when balanced with Leonine courage.

Astro-Drama is not a new idea. As mentioned earlier, in some ways it might be the oldest form of astrology. There are people in various parts of America and Europe who are experimenting with it. Astrological celebrations in Scotland and therapeutic application of Astro-Drama in Berkeley and Boulder herald the rebirth of this approach to astrology. I do not, however, advocate the elimination of traditional astrological counseling. Some great work is being done in our field, work we can be proud of. We should not, though, ever be so proud and self-satisfied that we are afraid to experiment.

The nature of any creative activity is that it is constantly regenerating itself with new ideas and techniques. You can plan an expansive Jupiter Astro-Drama in which the attendees are clothed in large, billowy garments. You can have a Saturn night on straight-back wooden chairs and play out your identity needs. The only limits are those of imagination. Perhaps a simple way to test this technique on yourself is one I sometimes do in bed late at night. I talk to my chart, and it talks to me! My Mars in Leo is demanding action and attention while Saturn in Cancer tenaciously holds me back. If these planets do not live for you then you should be reading some other magazine. Astrology is alive, the planets are alive, we are alive. The integration of all of these is life, from the astrologer's point of view. It is the realization that we live with the planets, not because of them, that makes our work worthy. If your Saturn is giving you trouble, give it trouble! Talk back to it; ask it why it is holding you down, why you are afraid, why you won't budge.

Astrology and the planets hold no meaning without human beings to experience them. Reference again to the great Dane Rudhyar reminds us of the alchemical nature of time and place. Each culture has its astrology. Each sees the planets through the lens of its own time, place and history. This implies that we are not poor victims, but vital creators of all we see, of all we touch. Astro-Drama is one part of this moment, a way to be all we can be.


Copyright: Matrix Software

Bio: Jeff  Jawer

Jeff Jawer is available for astrological consultations and can be reached at (888) 287-9143, or by email: Jawer@bigfoot.com. He has been a professional astrologer since 1973 and holds a special B.A. in The History and Science of Astrology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is professionally certified by the American Federation of Astrologers and by the City of Atlanta's Board of Astrology Examiners, on which he has served.

A founding member of AFAN, Jeff has served two terms on its Steering Committee. He was also one of the founders of UAC and is a member of its Executive Board. Well-known as a counselor, writer and teacher with dozens of articles in books and journals, Jeff has spoken four times at The World Astrology Congress in Switzerland and is a regular columnist for The Mountain Astrologer. He lived and worked in France for over two years and continues to teach summer seminars there.


Other articles by Jeff Jawer:

Astrology and Intimacy   
The Deconstructed Horoscope   

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