An Open Letter to the Astrological Community

by Philip Levine, M.A.



April 14, 1996

For several years now I have been writing and speaking on a subject for which I have deep and strong feelings. I feel somewhat qualified to do so because I love astrology, have practiced for over 20 years, and have extensive experience as a psychotherapist. This latter experience (as well as my own childhood, marriage, group involvements) has helped educate me with regard to so-called dysfunctional dynamics like addictions, co-dependency, shadow, projections, and cult mentality.

In a general cultural and evolutionary sense, unless humanity faces, owns and integrates its collective and individual shadow, there is no hope for saving the planet from our own self-generated destructive program. All around us we see degradation of the environment, loss of young people to senseless violence and meaninglessness, and increasing abuse and violence, particularly towards children. I could go on, but enough of that sermon.

What do I really want? I have been trying with remarkably little response for several years to ask the astrological community to engage in a little self-examination. We as a group have the same tendencies as any other group -- we project our shadow onto others, we scapegoat, we deny responsibility for our weaknesses and shortcomings. As helping professionals, we have a greater responsibility to be honest about ourselves, our activities, and our motives. This is of course something we would rather avoid, because it is painful to diminish our cherished ego-ideal and our picture of ourselves as dedicated servers.

We have a unique opportunity in this time of planetary crisis, as Rick Tarnas described in his talk at UAC last spring. We carry the tradition of a unitary universe, one in which we as humans are meaningful participants. This unitary view has been lost and the separatist view has dominated until now.

I think it is time that AFAN provided an ongoing forum for such self-examination. There has been a mentality of us-against-them, of we poor victimized and misunderstood astrologers and them scientists, skeptics, media people, etc. I seriously doubt that it's so black and white. We astrologers deserve a good deal of what we get, and there are plenty of astrologers out there cultivating the stereotypical image that the media and others like to ridicule.

If AFAN should ever like to support such a forum, here are some suggestions for topics for discussion:

1) The dominant model in today's astrology (conferences, books, and practitioners) is one of prediction. Why don't we do some serious examination of why this is so? Of our poor record for accuracy? Of our continued prediction with little or no re-examination of prior misses? Of our motives for being so obsessed with the subject? Isn't it about control? Didn't most of us become astrologers (at least in part) because of an unconscious need to find a greater sense of control of our lives?

2) Why is there so much defensiveness about exploring such issues? Why are there the typical dysfunctional family-style arguments that we should present a unified front against a hostile world, and that such self-examination would do no good and only weaken us? Why don't we stop and look at what we are doing? Where are we going? Why don't we question the assumption that the pursuit of cultural respectability by pursuing statistical tests and the mimicking of lawyers and doctors and accountants is a good thing, when it is taking us further from our real identity and our roots? What good is it to be accepted by a sick culture, and what good is it if our acceptance costs us our souls?

3) Sometimes I just can't believe that a group of such dedicated people who share a calling from the universe itself can narrow our focus so much and forget who we are, where our art comes from, and what it is truly capable of doing. Don't sell out the sacred mystery of astrology and turn it into one more soul-less 20th century ego game or diversion or entertainment. Why isn't there more in conferences and in our literature about the deep and mysterious soul-content of astrology? Why is so much of it about techniques, new asteroids, new computer programs doing more and more esoteric things? I am not saying there is anything wrong with these, only that they are not balanced by an inner, subjective and spiritual exploration. It is up to us to lead astrology in this direction, not to use the excuse that the public is hungry for techniques and asteroids. The public is starved for the inner life, but often just does not know it. We must lead, break the stale patterns of our traditional (I mean traditional in the recent past: same old NCGR, UAC, AFA stuff) patterns. We need new blood in our leadership, not the same people over and over. We need new vision. We as a group are as conservative as any group when it comes to change and to protecting the past.

Perhaps Uranus in Aquarius does not herald the arrival of our time to lead, at least not yet. Maybe it means it's time for our own internal revolution, a revolution in our own house, before we are capable of any kind of leadership.

4) Astrological consultations can be very powerful in helping clients to go into themselves and confront themselves. Astrologers who sit on their throne of expertise with all the answers are not serving the clients or our profession. Am I wrong that this describes the majority of astrologers as well as the unspoken model implied in conference lectures, articles, etc.? How easy it is to believe that the better I appear to my clients and the more I get them to believe I am credible, skilled, and right, the more they will respect this profession. What motives does this REALLY serve? It is an astrologer of substance, one who has done his or her inner work, that can best serve the client and our profession. I know many individuals who follow this path, but it should be our stated and championed ideal, our model, not the lawyer-style or doctor-style consultant. It's not about what clothes we wear or what our business cards say, or how professional a facade we present, it's about who we are inside. Where does our profession and its organizations promote the improvement of the astrologer on the INSIDE of their being?

5) Last, for now, is the fact that we live in an age of extreme addiction to certainty and to knowledge. The nemesis of this addiction is mystery, emptiness, uncertainty. Can't astrologers stop being used by needy clients to enable this addiction? Can't astrologers be willing to sacrifice the mantle of superior knowledge and climb into the mysterious emptiness that the client is facing and empower and validate the client's need to find their own answers there? The model for astrological consultation is so power-driven: the astrologer has the knowledge, the skills, the techniques, and the client has nothing but fear, problems, and dependency on the astrologer. The medical profession has been trying to address this imbalance and has been seeking ways to empower the patient. Why aren't WE?

I know it's not easy reading such a tirade. I have been guilty of everything I attack here. I admit some of my passion is about cleaning up these areas of my own nature. I know that such a forum would be messy. I don't mind mess. Chaos precedes creation. No chaos, no creation. We talk a good game about Pluto, transformation, breakdown, Uranian rebellions. Where is it in OUR community?

Would you please see that this proposal goes where it needs to. If you would just like to engage in a personal dialogue, that would be fine, too. Thanks for listening.


Philip Levine


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1995 Philip Levine