Astrology Secrets Revealed by ERIC FRANCIS

Shadow Material


January 20, 2005


Dear Eric,


I have read Jan Spiller's Spiritual Astrology, and found useful the part where she described the 'static' and 'dynamic' versions of signs and placements. That is, how one acts when one is closed-off or denies growth, versus taking the challenges and living with awareness.


Have you ever considered doing something similar? It might be useful for those who don't realize they have some inhibiting habits or for those who would like a reference for recognizing those who are 'static'. For instance, your horoscopes always point out how to be using things positively; a constructive way of giving direction. I really like that.


But in addition, might there be a 'shadow scope'? For those dealing with a difficult person, we might like tips on how to handle someone in a 'static state'. A set of horoscopes that might mention that if your difficult Aquarius, for instance, is about to have Chiron cross his natal Sun whereabouts, what might that do? The difficult person, probably, is not reading Planet Waves or Jonathan's horoscope, and won't benefit from your positive outlook. But others might carry the constructiveness if they know the 'guidebook', so to speak.


An idea.


Hugs to ya,


- - Jenn



Dear Jenn,


This may be the most relevant question ever sent into this column -- and we've had some really exceptional ones. The reason I say this is because it addresses two critical issues: how newspaper astrologers handle the astrology in their columns; and how astrologers in general handle what psychologists call "shadow material."


It also speaks to the presumptions that astrologers must make about human nature, particularly in a public forum where we don't know who we're talking to, or what is going on in their lives.


For an astrologer, being able to admit and handle shadow material -- all that dark stuff that most people stuff into denial -- is what makes you worth your salt. The ability to assist others in processing it rather than turning it against them is the basis by which we might actually help someone rather than bring disaster into their lives.


With an actual client, it's a lot easier. You can sit there and listen to their story, see a personal chart with exact transits, and ask them specific questions. You can get a feeling for their patterns and the specific way they were influenced as a child, and work with both.


But every bit of astrology writing that appears in public -- including prepared reports -- must make presumptions about who is reading, including assumptions directed to their astrological signs and placements, and others that address human nature in general.


Sally Brompton (Jonathan's colleague at the Mail on Sunday) has a "Devil's Advocate" page on her Internet site, where she quotes a guy named Daniel Finkelstein's 2004 article poking fun at newspaper astrology in the London Times.


"I'm also concerned that everyone's star sign carries admiring references to their acumen and moral strength," he writes. "Why don't I ever open the paper to find: 'You are a buffoon and August will be a disaster. You may be faced with a challenge but you will weasel your way out as you always do'."


Well, I had to think about this for a while. And in doing so, I reflected back on the past 10 years of horoscopes I've written, where I made just that same presumption of acumen and moral strength. Trust me: I know what petty, manipulative dorks people can be; I know well how sheepish they often are; I watch them betray their friends, tell their 'white lies', hoist the flag of unmitigated hypocrisy and delay making the basic honest decisions that will help themselves; and in doing so, ultimately take the role of their own worst enemy.


And as a personal astrologer, I've been around countless times when they have finally decided it was time to pick up the pieces of their lives; to do what is right for themselves; to speak their personal truth, and concede that love is more important than money; or to decide that sex really does matter, even when they are 54. I have contact with the aspect of the human spirit that really does want to live truly, make positive decisions and get out of bad scenes; the part that wants to be real and paint and write and stand up to abusive partners or mean politicians. Many times I have heard the voice of the person who really cares, and the regret for not caring in the past. I know there is an aspect of every person, very close to the core, that wants to live passionately and be daring and free.


This is the aspect of human nature that I've decided to speak to -- and, as a result, strive to reach in people. Human beings have a tendency (not 100%, but a tendency) to respond on the level at which you're speaking to them. For the most part, if you treat people as if they are intelligent, they will respond intelligently. Sometimes it takes a while for people to respond; sometimes they never do; sometimes it's only possible to have an effect in a small way.


In addressing readers this way, it's not my intention to overlook the shadow side of nature, or how difficult the world is. I am keenly aware of both facts. For me, this is where the real soul work of writing a horoscope column enters the scene. I feel it's my job to look at the whole planetary picture, to see the dark and the light, and then solve or at least simplify the equation: and then address the better angel of human nature.


Presumably, this is who we are hoping will respond. Surely it's who I intend to respond to -- and from what I have seen, it's true.


In addressing the issue of relationships, I pass this ethos onto my readers. But my firm position is to treat the self -- that is, the self of the reader -- as being of primary importance, and the other -- the reader's partner or love interest -- as being of secondary importance. Without self-awareness and the prerogative to make decisions, what else actually matters? And how can we betray ourselves and be of service to others?


Part of the crisis on the planet is that we don't often have a dependable source of thought forms that allow us to conceive of our problems in a way they can be solved; we don't often have an encouraging voice to help us keep going, and make our lives into what we want; we barely feel that anybody understands.


Horoscope writers do have the opportunity to take this role, but speaking for myself, this is the philosophy that guides my columns.