Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Retrogrades and the Three Fold Path

With the exception of the earth, all planets in the solar system - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto - embark on a 3-fold path at some point on their journey around the Sun.  Relative to the earth, it appears that during these particular times, these planets follow a pre-determined path and move backwards.

The pattern goes something like this - planet moves forward and at some point, at the station retrograde, begins to move  backward and retraces its path until the station direct where it begins to move forward again. During the path, it journeys through the degrees and the signs of the horoscope three times. Once moving forward, 2nd time moving backwards and the third time moving forward again. 

These retrograde journeys are archetypal - that is,  they call forth a deep recognition of a universal journey in the human psyche.  The three fold nature of the retrograde path can be found in other aspects of the human condition.  There are 3 aspects of time - "past present and future". In fairy tales, heros and heroines must accomplish three tasks.  There are 3 degress of craftman: apprentice, journeyman and Master.  Three states of matter - solid, liquid, gas. In Alchemy, there are three heavenly substances - Salt, Mercury and and Sulfer. And the process of alchemy itself is a three fold art with alchemical process following the sequence of nigredo (black), the albedo (white) and the rubedo (red).  Carl Jung identified that psychological development follows process of unity, the duality arising from the tension of competing energies that creates psychological distress, followed by synthesis available through consciousness and awareness that leads to a new wholeness and unity. The process then begins all over again as we engage in our individuation towards wholeness.

How can we take this archetypal journey of retrograde planets and use it to add meaning and richness to our lives?   How can this three fold journey be in service to psychological development and our individuation project. 

Mars is now on the first leg of its 3 fold path starting the journey on October 17 2009. Look in your life, what began that day?  New ideas, projects or actions appeared in your life.  I started a new Self Expression and Leadership program that Saturday. My first program as Head Coach.  Mars is the planet of action, drive, ambition, outward action, and desire. It is a masculine planet which defines what drives us and how we purse our life's ambitions and goals. It tells us what motivates us and what desires drive us most powerfully. 

Mars will station on December 20, 2009 and will remain retrograde for just under 3 months, turning direct March 10 2010. During this time, outer action might be thwarted as the Mars energy is reevaluated or there might be a need to rethink some action.  

Maybe the point of reflection for this is who does Mars serve?  Does he serve some old pattern of behaviour that is more interested in outer achievement and appearances, or does it serve the deeper life force moving through the psyche? 

Christina Becker is a Jungian Analyst, Psychological Astrologer and Consultant with a private practice in Toronto, Ontario Canada. She is graduate of the C.G. Institute Zurich. Her practice purpose is to empower individuals, couples, teams and organizations on their path of transformation. Her website is www.cjbecker.com

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Carl Jung's The Red Book - The Astrology of the Confrontation with the Unconscious

Today, October 7, 2009, Jung's  The Red Book will be published by W.W. Norton. The book has been eagerly awaited by the Jungian community and contains the musings, visions and active imaginations between 1913 and 1930.   Over the last several weeks there has been lots of conversation around this volume including an exceptional article in the New York Times Magazine http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/magazine/20jung-t.html.  Following Jung's death in 1961,  the Jung family didn't know what to do with it but were relunctant to release it for publication.  The Red Book sat in a safety deposit box in a Zurich bank vault for 23 years. Many are decribing it as the most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology.   

I believe that the origins of the book can be found in 1909 when Jung and Freud's travelled to Clark University in the United States in September 1909.  Freud and Jung were very close up until this trip. Jung was tauted as Freud's heir apparent. As an young up and coming psychiatrist practising at the Burgholzli Psychiatric Hospital in Z├╝rich, Jung was applying Freud's psychoanalytic method.

Freud and Jung were invited separately to Clark University and both were to receive honoray doctorates. They decided to travel together and arrived in New York on August 29, 2009. The  conference was to take place between September 6 and 11.  The expedition is noteworthy for our discussion because the seeds of the ideological differences between Freud and Jung were beginning to be felt. Both men returned to Europe with a deep understanding that, at some level,  their paths would be different.

Over the next three years, Jung's divergence from Freud grew more apparent.  However, the correspondence and the involvement of the two men remained close until about 1912. However, the growing split between the two men in ideology was becoming evident and this difference also had institutional aspect.  Jung was then President of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) and a secret committee was formed in the summer of 1912 to displace him. It was evident to Freud and his inner circle that Jung was unwilling to be the leader of "Freud's movement"and to be under Freud's control.  He had  a direction of his own.  He also brought other interests and orientations to the conversation of psychology including religion, mythology, alchemy and anthropology.  Jung was a spiritual seeker. 

The impact of the split with Freud left Jung profoundly disoriented resulting in a schism in his identity.  Jung held considerable standing at the time as a psychiatrist with published papers, lectures and an active practice.  Yet he resigned a number of these public positions. He describes in Memories, Dreams, Reflections  that he struggled with psychosis. The following years, Jung descended into disorientation and the confrontation with the unconscious. We are now able to experience this journey first hand.

The astrology of this is also very interesting.  Uranus went into Jung's 12th house of the collective unconscious in 1906.  Uranus would stir up both the deeper, darker levels of Jung's unconscious as well as a desire to approach the unconscious in a different way.   At the same time,  Neptune was transiting his 6th house of work. collective consciousness,  and daily routine causing misunderstanding, confusion. The manifestation of this particular transit suggests that his path of advancement mysteriously blocked by someone who will not confront him directly. Jung was not aware of the secret plot against him and experienced it as a great betrayal.

Uranus Neptune was opposed each other 10 times in between 1906 and 1910 highlighting the principle of renewal and revolution of worn out patterns against the principle of spiritual impulse in human beings.  Jung was compelled through the Zeitgeist of these two powerful influences as well as from his own background to revolutionize psychoanalysis to incorporate the spiritual component. It was this direction that Freud could not understand. This time also was the birth of Einstein's Theory of Relativity and the transition into the 20th century world-view. 

In 1912, Uranus crossed his ascendant and oppose his Sun in Leo causing a revolution and disruption to his public persona and sense of identity.  It would be the overriding influence for much of the coming two years and expose all that was false in the way that Jung's identity and presentation in the world. Jung would write later that the journey of individuation required that the individual remove himself or herself from the collective and divest oneself of  the identification with collective norms and values. Individuation is an uniquely individual path towards wholeness and consciousness.

The images in the RED BOOK started as Jung descended in the unconscious beginning in 1913 and continued until 1930. The most intense of the journey lasted until 1916 when he emerged from the disorientation with a new sense of himself. He has written that the content of the book would be the basis for everything that he did since then.

Christina Becker is a Jungian Analyst, Psychological Astrologer and Consultant with a private practice in Toronto, Ontario Canada. She is graduate of the C.G. Institute Zurich. Her practice purpose is to empower individuals, couples, teams and organizations on their path of transformation. Her website is www.cjbecker.com 

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 4th Full Moon - Self and Other

“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.” – Carl Jung

Yesterday's Full Moon opens the question of relationships with the tension between the me energy of Aries and the we energy of Libra. It seems that the energy brings up the universal questions of self and other and how do we remain ourselves and be fully in relationship.   Power exists in relationships when we are attached to what the other has to be rather than accepting what is.   Love exists in the committment to both self and other.

Christina Becker is a Jungian Analyst, Alchemical Astrologer and Consultant with a private practice in Toronto, Ontario Canada. She is graduate of the C.G. Institute Zurich. Her practice purpose is to empower individuals, couples, teams and organizations on their path of transformation. Her website is www.cjbecker.com

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

That's My Story and I am Sticking to It

Is your glass half empty or half full?

The journal Circulation of the American Heart Association recently published a study that showed that our attitude towards life has a direct bearing on our physical health.  The study followed 97,000 women for 8 years. The seminal conclusion was that optimism is an important factor in our resilience to illness. Women who were optimistic  had a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease and dying from a major illness.  Conversely, the study showed that women who were negative, mistrusting and cynical were more likely to die over the same time frame. 

The study’s conclusions are not revelations to the spiritual traditions but they do reveal that mainstream medicine is taking seriously something that alternative researchers and spiritual teachers have known for a long time – that psyche, mind and the body are an integrated system.  Our emotions and thoughts affect the body’s bio-chemistry and thus our physical well being.   Our thoughts and words create our world, our reality and our placement in it.   They operate as dialogues running in the background of our lives. 

Many psychological theories and spiritual traditions have defined this phenomenon - voice in the head, self talk.  Eckhart Tolle in his book A New Earth  explores the difference between what happens and our story about it   Buddhism calls it dukkha. Roughly translated, it means suffering, pain, sorrow, dissatisfaction, pessimism, and bitterness.  Indeed bitterness in the western world is so common and so destructive that psychiatrists are discussing whether to add it as an official diagnosis in the DSM – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  (In a later blog posting I want to look at bitterness and wisdom and what transforms bitterness into wisdom)

Carl Jung developed the notion of complexes to describe the filter, the lens with which we interpret the world.  He defined a complex as a cluster of related but often repressed ideas and impulses that compel characteristic or habitual patterns of thought, feelings, and behavior.  

Anyway you look at it,  the suffering that the ego creates for our soul occurs when we view the world through a particular lens or filter and refuse to accept what is.  It is the thoughts that we have about our world and our place in it that creates suffering and illness.

To heal the symptom, James Hillman argues in Healing Fiction, we must heal the person, and to heal the person we must first heal the story in which the person has imagined himself.

What’s your story?

Christina Becker is a Jungian Analyst, Alchemical Astrologer and Consultant with a private practice in Toronto, Ontario Canada. She is graduate of the C.G. Institute Zurich. Her practice purpose is to empower individuals, couples, teams and organizations on their path of transformation. Her website is www.cjbecker.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Moon in Virgo: Walking the Labyrinth

I walked the labyrinth in High Park this morning in honour of the New Moon and my birthday. It was part of the ritual that I wanted to create for the day to create a new beginning for this year. It turned into so much more.

The journey started when I had a synchronistic encounter. I ran into my homeopath - a woman who was instrumental in the treatment of me and my beloved cat Artemis who succumbed to cancer last March.  This synchronicity created the atmosphere of something awesome that was about to happen. The healing element was present.

I reached the Labyrinth and left my purse with all of my outer persona outside of the circle - phone, wallet, identity etc. I entered the circle and said aloud  "I am open to hearing whatever spirit has to say to me." Throughout the walk I felt my heart open and felt joy love and gratitude exist in a place deep inside of me. I could hear someone say "this is all you". The circle of the labyrinth contained me. It provided safety and protection.   My senses were heightened in this open hearted place - the wind rustling through the tall grass, the bird song. It was as if my being has tuned itself into nature and danced with it.

Three quarters of the way into the centre, I saw a homeless man walk towards the labyrinth and sit on the benches that surround the circle. His clothes dirty. He was in his  30s. Thin from the lack of food. Dark curly hair and a beard. He sat with his back was to me.

At this point, the experience transformed into a dream or a vision.  I continued to walk. Mindful of my persona lying on the ground inside the outer circle and potentially in danger, and outside the labyrinth itself, a personification of whatever was homeless in me smoking a cigarette. I didn't see his face but his back, the part of himself that he couldn't see.

The unconscious will often be personified as masculine in the dreams of a woman. His physical appearance could have been a personification of my animus.

I continued to walk and reaching the centre.  I faced both persona and homeless.  After a couple of minutes, the homeless man put his cigarette out, looked at me briefly, got up and walked into woods. I was still in the centre of the labyrinth. At this point, I started my way out feeling touched by spirit and clear on the need to integrate the homeless aspects of myself. The parts of myself that I have disowned and relegated to living in the woods.

There was something of this experience that reminded me of the Saturn Uranus Opposition - the configuration so influencing this New Moon. It was as if the two symbols reflected either side of the opposition.  Saturn symbolized by the purse lying on the ground - the status quo, the blackberry, the pieces of identity, the structure around who I am in the world.  The Homeless man -the outcast, the rebel, the energy that lives outside of the system and all that Saturn relegates to the unconscious -the woods in High Park.

The danger with all oppositions is to identify with one pole and project the other.  The lesson to learn might be is to recognize - as I did from the centre of the Labyrinth - that both aspects are from the same whole and to explore the possibility of revolution with the existing structure.

Christina Becker is a Jungian Analyst and Psychological Astrologer. Her practice purpose is empower individuals, couples, teams and organizations on their path of transformation. Her website is www.cjbecker.com .  

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pluto Station Direct - Return from the Underworld

The planet Pluto changes direction today and begins to move forward again after seemingly moving backwards since April 4, 2009.  Planets when they are retrograde don't actually physically stop and start moving backwards. It is our perspective from the Earth viewing planets as they move around the Sun.  We just think that planets move backwards and from our vantage point they do.

Human beings need to make sense of our world.  Jung wrote that we have a "spiritual instinct" - a hardwired inclination to create meaning, and places ourselves within the cosmos.  Astrology and the planets provide a fertile ground to project ourselves and then to come to know ourselves again from a different perspective.

The key in understanding retrograde planets is "re".  It comes originally from medival latin and means again and anew. It is a time to re-flect.

Pluto is the planet of transformation and its retrograde periods can be particularly intense and troublesome. Pluto's return from the underworld brings with it hidden aspects of our personality and our garbage. Our lesson is to learn to let go of aspects of our lives that no longer serve our individuation project.  If we resist this process, then the lesson will be that much harder to integrate.

With any retrograde planet especially an outer planet, there are key dates on the journey. These dates provide benchmarks or markers along the path for checking in with life and see what is happening around a particular situation.

Check in with your life around these dates and journal what was going on for you at that time. 
  • December 15 2008 - the Journey began with Pluto arriving at the same place where it is today.
  • April 4 2009 - Pluto turns retrograde and the process of reflection begins
  • June 23 2009 - the turning point of the journey 
  • September 11, 2009 - Pluto turns direct and whatever has been hidden emerges to be integrated into our lives

Christina Becker is a Jungian Analyst and Psychological Astrologer. Her practice purpose is empower individuals, couples, teams and organizations on their path of transformation. Her website is www.cjbecker.com .


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

09/09/09 - Symbol of an Ending and a New Beginning

For many people, today is a particularly auspicious day. It is the last single digit configuration of its kind for at least 1000 years.

If we just look at the symbolism of the number "9" we might get a sense of why we have attached significance to the day. Carl Jung wrote in Man and his Symbols:
"Nine has been a magic number for centuries. According to the traditional number symbolism,  it represents the perfect form of the perfected trinity in its threefold elevation"  (p. 367).  
The number is the last single digit before beginning of a new cycle that starts with 10.  In the Tarot, the ninth card in the deck is the Hermit. This major arcana card reflects the archetypal energy of completion, introspection and space. 

Therefore the number Nine is a number of completion.  It is also a number of gestation, birth and intiation.  It takes 9 months for a human child to gestate. I have seen in the dreams of my clients that the psyche will have the same gestation as an individual births a new perspective or attitude. We could see that the number Nine reflects the culmination of awareness as it ends a cycle

As human beings we have a need to make sense of our place in the cosmos and we create symbolic systems to add meaning to our lives.

Whether you believe or not, this is a good day to reflect or meditate on:
  • what have you accomplished over the last 9 months;
  • what goals do you have;
  • what are you thankful for;

Christina Becker is a Jungian Analyst, Psychological Astrologer and Consultant.. Her practice purpose is to "empower individuals, couples, teams and organizations on their path of transformation" Her website is www.cjbecker.com .

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Shadow, rage and when it is too late to take it back

In Toronto this week, there was a tragic accident involving a bicycle courier and a former cabinet minister of the provincial government. This incident has dominated conversation and news reports. The details of the accident seems to suggest that the bicyclist and the driver were  involved in a "minor collision" at the beginning.  Something in the altercation escalated, with courier holding onto the car while the driver apparently tried to dislodge him.  The bicyclist died and the driver of the car has been charged with criminal negligence causing death.

On Thursday morning, the Globe and Mail published an article on the physiology of rage, that fight or flight reaction that lies deep within the body. The journalist reported that people in this state of rage feel as if their bodies have been taken over or that they are so not present that they forget everything that happened.  The heated emotions of anger and rage take our ego's ability to reflect, and discern. It is in those moments when passion, anger, fear, and frustration get the better of us and we lose our ability to get out the situation only to emerge with the world fundamentally different from when it was only a moment before.  In fairy tales, this kind of psychological experience would be personified as demon possession.

Coining the word `shadow`was one of Carl Jung`s significant contribution to modern psychology. His definition is `the thing that we do not wish to be" The shadow reflects all that is in us that we refuse to acknowledge and deny out of shame, guilt or embarrassment.  Like the Jewish banishment of the goat into the dessert,  the shadow becomes the scapegoat.  We all know the story of Dr.Jeyyll and Mr. Hyde.  Dr. Jekyll is an upstanding Victorian doctor by day and by night, his alter ego is the demonic monsterous, Mr. Hyde.  Modern examples of the shadow are seen everywhere.  

The usual manifestation of the shadow is polarization - we and them. And the story has elements of a growing polarization between the established, collective structure and values pitted against marginalized bicyclist. Each side blaming and demonizing the other. Ultimately as Pogo once said "we have seen the enemy and he is us."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

100 Years of Psychoanalysis in America

100 years ago this week marks an important turning point in the development of Freud's psychoanalysis and Carl Jung's analytical psychology with arrival of Jung and Freud in America.

In August 1909, Freud and Jung set sail for the United States with colleague Sandor Ferenzi to attend the Clark University Conference on Psychology and Pedagogy. The ship docked in Hoboken New Jersey August 29 1909. The conference held between September 6 and 11, 1909 would introduce the European analytic movement to the Americas and lead to Jung's later distance from Freud and the development of his brand of psychology.

When Freud received the invitation to speak at the conference in late 1908, he declined believing that he needed a holiday more than taking the long journey across the ocean to speak. Carl Jung apparently grasped the significance of this adventure and urged Freud to accept. It wasn't until the dates were changed to September and Freud was offered an honorary degree did he accept. Unbeknownst to Freud, Jung would also be offered a place on the schedule and a honorary doctorate.

Tensions existed between the two men on the crossing. They would tell each other their dreams and analyze each other symptoms as hidden feelings and beliefs about the other. Upon entering the New York Harbour, Freud apparently commented on how surprised the Americans would be to hear what they to tell him. Jung believed that Freud was overly ambitious. Freud had the same belief of Jung as well.

More information on the celebration of the Centennial can be found at the Clark University http://www.clarku.edu/micro/freudcentennial/