Using Astro-psychology with homeopathy
The term astro-psychology (1) denotes how a person’s natal horoscope can help understand their psychology, including the potential at birth on all levels from a holistic perspective. Being astrologically literate entails being able to read a birth chart to derive the meaning of the positions of all the planets in all the signs. Astro-psychology has, of course, no formal connection with homeopathy nor with psychology but is a very useful adjunct to both.
In a letter to the Hindu astrologer, B.V. Raman,
on 6th September, 1947, Carl Jung wrote: "Since you want to
know my opinion about astrology I can tell you that I've been interested in
this particular activity of the human mind since more than 30 years. As I am a
psychologist, I am chiefly interested in the particular light the horoscope
sheds on certain complications in the character. In cases of difficult
psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further
point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often
found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise
would have been unable to understand. From such experiences I formed the
opinion that astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist.” (2)
Jung, too, wrote about his study of astro-psychology and of particular interest is his own research on marriage relationships in relation to planetary positions and astrological signs. He seemed to adopt an objective viewpoint and to be convinced that here was something worth studying that could be of use to the psychologist (3).
With his immersion in anthroposophy followed by the encounter with Jung, it is not surprising to learn from his daughter, Sarah Schaleger, that Edward Whitmont drew up the charts of his patients as a matter of course. He quotes Gauguelin’s study of birth charts showing possible correlation between planetary positions and a person’s occupation. He combined psychology with astrology and, as we know, went further by bringing in homeopathy, being perhaps the first to combine them in his practice as a triad of disciplines. Sadly, he never wrote about his experience.
Some astrologers think that astro-psychology works not in a causative, but in a symbolic way. In other words, there is no celestial or cosmic mechanism that causes a person to have a certain personality at birth but, rather, the birth chart may be viewed in a slightly similar way to an I Ching or tarot reading, albeit more permanent. Whitmont’s discussion of non-causality (4) suggests that he may have possibly thought along these lines although he did not mention astrology specifically in this context.
Jung, on the other hand, raised the possibility of a causal connection and, more recently, there have even been scientists, swimming against the stream, who have ventured with their own theories to that effect (5). A scientific explanation may one day be forthcoming although, most likely, from within a new scientific paradigm. In the meantime, it must be realised that a causative explanation implies that, alongside genes and the psycho-physical environment, there are astro-morphic forces which act as a third factor in determining and shaping our constitutions and personalities. If, as homeopaths, we are prepared to accept that, then awareness of these forces can at times inform our prescribing and case management.
Astro-psychology and homeopathy
There have been several articles in the homeopathic literature over the last few decades about using the elements of Fire, Earth, Air and Water to help understand the patient - mainly stemming from the map of elements developed by Israeli homeopath Joseph Reeves, which many teachers call the ‘Circle’ of elements, but which Misha Norland has renamed the ‘Mappa Mundi’.
There has been almost nothing that looks at how we can use a patient’s birth chart to help us understand the patient apart from focusing on the elements. An unpublished final-year dissertation proved to be a step in this direction, attempting to link certain constitutional types to particular sun-signs (6).
Instances of where astro-psychology can be helpful in the homeopathic context:
~ When our understanding of a case is limited, with no idea of what to give.
This especially applies after several prescriptions have failed. Also, where the person is obviously sick and suffering but no medical diagnosis is forthcoming, and / or when the symptoms are all common ones, or there are too few symptoms in the case (the two-legged stool) - then techniques involving the natal chart and transiting planetary positions may help to elucidate what is going on in the inner psychology of the patient. (An example of this will be given later.)
~ In case of uncertainty about whether to prescribe for the central dynamic (expressed by the natal chart) or for a ‘happening’ - an acute or chronic acute, a ‘side issue’ that seems to manifest as a recent ‘layer’ and often seems unrelated to the central dynamic, delusion, or sensation.
Sometimes, this can be due to an astrological transit (the positions of particular planets as they move now in relation to where they were on the birth chart). Jung wrote: “I have observed many cases where a well-defined psychological phase, or an analogous event, was accompanied by a transit (particularly when Saturn and Uranus were affected).” ³
~ The natal chart can be useful, too, in counselling clients about their relationships with others, or in helping them understand their own ‘stuckness’.
A patient of mine was convinced that her mother-in-law disliked her, and would not believe her husband when he said this was not the case. In the course of homeopathic treatment, we spent much of one session focusing on the issue that concerned her. With the mother-in-law’s date of birth, I was able to ascertain that the she had been unable to demonstrate affection in a normal way, and her coldness was not directed at my patient in a personal way but was part of her personality structure. That transformed my patient’s understanding of her mother-in-law’s behaviour and made her seeming coldness much easier to deal with for my patient.
An instance of where homeopathy can assist research into the nature of astro-psychology:
One criticism incurred by astrologers is their tendency to make the person fit the birth chart or vice versa. My term for this is ‘automatic convergence'. One way to minimise it is by attempting to predict which planets one would expect to be involved in the central dynamic of their natal horoscope. (That is done once the first consultation is over, and from one’s accumulated knowledge of the patient’s story and personality.) This then can be checked against the actual birth chart on the computer to test the accuracy of the astro-psychological theory.
A limitation of that method is that, without the time and place of birth, one is unable to ascertain a person’s rising sign, nor the exact position of their moon. Another, is that the prediction rate is in proportion to one’s acquired experience.
If the principles of astro-psychology have not just been adopted as received wisdom, then procedures like this can help the open-minded practitioner to test out the theory of astro-psychology. According to Karl Popper (7), no theory can be regarded as scientific unless it is capable of being proved true or false, and this is the philosophical bedrock of all modern science. To do that is not always an easy task and even some seemingly scientific theories fail to meet the criterion, String Theory in theoretical physics being a current example of this.
The method of experimentation outlined above, while not without flaws and caveats, might go some way towards satisfying Popper’s ‘falsifiabilty’ criterion and therefore partially solve the problem of 'automatic convergence'.
Different ways that the birth chart may be used in homeopathic analysis:
~ Assess what element each planet is in, to find out the overall balance of the four elements.
This can be for various purposes, one of which is to get an idea of the kingdoms. A predominance of Water might suggest a sea remedy; if all Earth, then one might think of the mineral kingdom or certain plants; if all planets and lights (lights is the old word for the Sun and Moon) are in Air, that might make one consider a gas or certain imponderables; and I will leave you to consider what might be suggested by having almost all planets in Fire.
Of course, these are maybes and possibilities. We must always consider the polarity between Fire and Air, and Earth and Water. I had a client once whose chart was all Earth but her spoken imagery was all watery. She seemed to be compensating for what she lacked. Most people, though, are a mixture of elements, which makes the choice of kingdom less easy. I find in case analysis with students and colleagues that there is a tendency to rush into a decision on the kingdom too early and with inadequate information. Only very occasionally do I use the elements as guide towards finding the kingdom, and only when there is a clear predominance of one.
~ Look at the the central dynamic of the chart (the pattern of lines drawn in the centre circle between planets) and get a feel of the effect.
Very occasionally, the pattern alone can give one an idea for a particular remedy or family of remedies. This should of course, if at all possible, be borne out by the symptomatology. Are there one, or two, planets that are controlling everything? What are they and how do their astrological qualities relate to the symptomatology, dynamic or story of the patient.
Example: What impression do you get from the central pattern in the chart below? It belonged to a patient of mine. Ignatia had helped her greatly in 1995 while her husband was suffering from motor neurone disease, but stopped working soon after he died, and for several years nothing worked at all. All her symptoms were common symptoms, such as lassitude and tiredness, with hundreds of remedies listed for each symptom and with very few modalities. Eventually, I was forced to prescribe on her chart alone.
The pattern we see at the centre looks like a two-dimensional form of what, in geometry, is called a Five Simplex, or Hexateron.
I immediately thought of a crystal of some kind and, in the days before the internet could furnish us with instant information, I prescribed Adamas, partly because over several years, with a dying husband and two wayward and disturbed teenage daughters, she had coped amazingly under huge emotional pressure without ever showing the sign of an emotional crack (and the structure on the birth chart appeared to be a very strong one). The only other minor characteristic of a diamond was that she always seemed emotionally very flat when arriving for a consultation, but left with sparkling eyes following some humorous banter at the end of the consultation, (shining from reflected light). I had also heard somewhere that in their natural state, before being cut, a diamond only has six sides.
Adamas broke the log-jam of ‘no change’ in the patient, improving her energy, mood and physical symptoms whenever they returned, where no other remedy had acted.
~ Some homeopaths use the principles of traditional medical astrology (8).
Medical astrology is an ancient system that associates the planets and signs with particular parts of the body and specific tendencies to illness. It is very occasionally employed by homeopaths, as when choosing herbs and supplements.
~ One can look at the transits of the planets as they are affecting the person now.
A transit in astro-psychology is a method of interpreting the continuous movements of a planet in terms of its effects on a person. To do that, a comparison has to be made between the position of the planet at a given moment and that of other planets fixed in the natal horoscope (the two-dimensional map of the psycho-physical forces active at the moment of birth). Specific attention is given to the angles that these transiting planets make with the natal planetary positions of an individual (called ‘aspects’).
Why has the patient come to consult a homeopath now? In the case of a sudden flare-up, what might have caused it, if no other external cause is apparent? When is the transit due to finish? Might the patient’s chronic flare-up be due to a transit and, therefore, be self-limiting and, if minor, not needing homeopathic intervention? Alternatively, with the apparent onset of serious disease, what was the exciting cause and could a transit be responsible? Should we treat it at all, or prescribe only for the central dynamic structure of the birth chart? Although the latter is only the potential, and not a disease, it does reveal much, in depth, about the person and their constitution.
This brings up the general question of causation. Caution is needed for, if a transiting planet can sometimes cause a health phenomenon, can we be sure that our homeopathic prescribing acted curatively, or was it just that the transit had come to an end? We should remain forever cautious about ascribing credit to a given remedy prescription.
However, it is still of course possible for a patient suffering from a challenging transit to derive great benefit from the homeopathic prescription that helps them weather a period of physical or psychological instability thrown up by such a transit. It can often help them manage what otherwise might be a frightening and confusing period.
This raises another important point for prescribing astro-psychologists. If a flare-up of chronic complaint occurs at the start of a major transit and the chosen remedy palliates well but does not cure, it is not necessarily the wrong remedy, although that is of course a strong possibility. It maybe that the effect of some transits, whether physical or psychological, is just too strong even for the simillimum.
For those open to such explanations the fact, too, of being aware of why it is happening often helps patients cope with their instability during a transit.
~ Provings of planetary light
For homeopaths who use astro-psychology, there exist, too, the provings of Sol, Luna, Light of Venus, and Light of Saturn with, hopefully, more to come. To skeptics, most of them will never be more than the reflected light of the sun, however, there are cured cases suggesting that this light is somehow transformed into a number of different healing medicines, possibly bringing with it an accumulated memory of the dynamic of each of the planetary bodies.
They may sometimes be indicated as remedies in patients where a particular planet is central to the dynamic inherent in their natal horoscope. They might, too, sometimes be effective when prescribed for the effects of a specific planetary transit. However, as yet, there is a paucity of recorded cases.
Homeopathy, astrology and psychology are two of the most fascinating humanistic disciplines. They can be an invaluable combination. For finding the simillimum, astrology is not needed every time, yet it remains in our toolbox for when needed and as a constant support.
On this hundredth anniversary of Whitmont’s birth, perhaps it is a fitting time to form a group of like-minded, astrologically literate, astro-psychologists who practise homeopathy. Those interested may contact me via email@example.com.
3 G.C. Jung - Collected Works, Vol. 8, pp 459-483 edited by Sir Herbert Read (Routeledge & Kegan Paul).
4 Edward Whitmont - Psyche and Substance, 1980 (North Atlantic Books).
5 Dr Percy Seymour (Astronomer) - The Scientific Proof of Astrology, 1997, St Martins Press, New York (and 2004, Quantum).
6 Lyn Ringuet - Comparing Homeopathy and Astrology (Arsenicum and Virgo), London School of Classical Homeopathy, 1997 (Not Published)
7 Karl Popper - Logik der Forschung, 1934; ‘The Logic of Research’, 1959.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
C.G.Jung; public domain
Keywords: Astro-psychology, homeopathy, Carl Jung, Mappa Mundi, astrological transit