Martin Comtois has been a student of Astrology and various forms of Mysticism for most of his life. He began his astrology practice 12 years ago and through the perils of analysis developed a passion for Jung and his work. In reading Jung’s alchemical works his astrology was greatly influenced and his practice enhanced by the concepts of analytical psychology. We are thrilled to have Martin join us this Friday, February 25th, for our monthly lecture, The Philosophical Rose and Healing the Soul. Read our Q & A and come prepared to be inspired or click here to register!
Is astrology useful for doing ‘shadow work’; how might that be employed?
Jung used the astrological chart to get insight into the psychic economy of his patients. He taught his daughter Gret the techniques of drawing charts because he found the process painstaking. She later became an astrologer in her own right and lectured on the subject in the 1970ies. Liz Greene one of the better known Jungian astrologers has a book called The Psychopathology in the Natal Chart, unfortunately the book is out of print but you can get it on digital format. So yes the chart is an amazing tool for shadow work and is a clear guide on the path of individuation. The natal chart and the process of analysis with the client soon reveals the shadow and the work that needs to be done to integrate it back into consciousness. The chart also reveals and intimates the work of developing a relationship with anima and the animus followed by the process of the hieros gamos or sacred marriage. It is all mirrored in the chart and the transits just as it is in dream work. As such the chart reflects the whole process of individuation. In my 13 years of practice using the techniques of analytical psychology I have learned to show this process to my clients using their natal charts and their dreams. This is quite a process to witness and my studies into Jung’s Alchemical work has helped me deepen these understandings. Of course the integration of the shadow can be glanced upon in the anamnesis at the beginning of the work with each client. Just by getting to know the clients history and his very human struggles he reveals to you where his shadow haunts him. The chart can guide your analysis by providing an objective view of the ancestral lineage particularly that of the parents giving you an invaluable tool for analysis. This is the purpose astrology served in Jung’s practice and these techniques can be integrated into any analyst’s work granted they have an interest and understanding of the art of Astrology. This is what I seek to contribute in the work of The Healer and the Dreamer.
Can astrology be used to map our complexes; from the natal chart or how?
Yes, Jung points to the planetary alignments in a natal chart as the constellation of psychological complexes in the client. In astrology the “aspects” which mark the angular relationship between the planets form the dialogue between the archetypes so that an angle between Mars and Venus will tell a lot about how the person expresses their need to assert themselves in relationships. The patterns revealed by the aspects in the natal chart point to the psychological complexes in the individual. The very word constellation which Jung uses repeatedly in his work on complexes points to the alignments of the planets. Stella in latin is stars so that constellation is a planetary alignment. When Jung points to complexes he often uses the word constellation to refer to these psychological patterns. What would take prolonged effort in analysis to reveal these patterns can be seen in the astrological natalchart . This is how Jung benefited from the practice and how many of his ideas became, excuse the pun, constellated.
How does an understanding of astrology give insight into dream work?
The synchronicity of astrology and dream work is the very basic foundation of my practice. When a client approaches me for a reading I instruct him or her to keep a dream journal. In the session I first read the chart and then consider the dream material after the chart has been understood. The dream material always confirms the conclusions we have reached and contribute significantly to the reading. The effect that this has on the client is profound and it provides an initiation into a dream practice. As I follow the client in his integration of the initial reading and dream material we see dreams and transits as guides to integration and individuation. I’m not a trained Jungian analyst, I’m an astrologer first and foremost but the integration of analytical psychology and my study of Jung’s collected works have helped me develop these understanding. Like Jung I’m an intuitive thinking type and I have found his collected works to be the guiding force behind my growth as an astrologer. Of course the work of Liz Green has also helped me tremendously in the course of my studies. She was trained in London as a Jungian analyst in the 70ies and soon thereafter became a practicing astrologer. Her book the Astrology of Fate is a great study of fate and destiny from the Jungian perspective where she uses case material with chart and dreams to show the value of working with these symbolic arts.
How does astrology help us to see The Other clearly (how do we look beyond our projections?)
Another fabulous question but a little more difficult to approach. Again these answers are just brief summaries and could be dealt at more length and in more depth with references and examples. In astrology we have a technique called Synastry which is the superimposition of the chart of one individual over the chart of another related individual. This type of chart analysis defines the astrology of the relationship between the two individuals. This type of analysis is most challenging and requires tact and insight. I feel relationship counseling and the lifting of projections to be very difficult in intimate relationships. So first I do personal sessions with each member of the couple to make them familiar with their shadows and complexes before I proceed to the joint synastry relationship counselling. Again this is a most challenging art and requires much patience and understanding on the part of the analyst astrologer.
How does astrology confirm (or correct/guide) that we are on our ‘right path’?
That is the most often asked intention that your clients come to you for as an astrologer. The chart is the most objective and greatest tool for confirming this aspect of individual destiny. It also reveals ancestral gifts and curses and can be a great tool for gaining clarity on ones path to individuation This has been the role that astrology has played for thousands of years and it is why Jung was so interested in the art.
6. Jung warned of the hazards of adopting Eastern approaches to our psychology; are there significant differences – and potential pitfalls – between Eastern and Western astrology?Another great question that opens into a long hallway. The best treatment of this question is in the Secret of the Golden Flower and in Jung’s eulogy for Richard Wilhelm. But he also approaches this in his essay on the transference especially when he speaks to the principle of sublimation. He also deals with this in detail in volume 11 Psychology and religion. These are complex ideas but in essence the practice of eastern techniques create in the extroverted western mind a feeling of sublimation which is actually a very tricky dissociation. It leads to a certain type of megalomania with results in an inflation that can be very dangerous. It can lead to what we call a God complex. These types of inflations are also prevalent in western practices especially among the theosophical and anthroposophical circles. Living on Vancouver Island these are t most frequent encounters that make our work so difficult. There is also a very similar dissociation or sublimation among the psychoactive substances that are currently gaining popularity among some segments of the healing field. These practices lead to a sort of possession that resembles the effect that we see clients that do not fully comprehend the effect of in eastern philosophies on the western mind. Again these are the daily fares of an analyst on Vancouver Island. In terms of eastern and western astrology they cannot really be compared as they are completely different and based on a much different cosmology. One is based on the sidereal Zodiac or the actual position of the constellations in the sky. The Western system is based on the geocentric procession of the equinox making zero degrees of Aries the Spring Equinox point. I personally spent ten years of my life in a Hindu monastery but choose western astrology because of the contribution that Jung made to the art. Jung’s contribution to western astrology is not a small one. He is the first one to have spoken of the Age of Aquarius and his influence in the development of what we would call psychological astrology is foundational.
If you would like to register for Martin Comtois’ The Philosophical Rose and Healing the Soul, click here to register!