Skip to content

Astrology and the Spiritual Path

Master’s Musings ~ June 2022

How can astrology really be part of a spiritual path?

Steven Forrest
The most familiar metaphor for spirituality is “transcending one’s ego,” yet astrology often seems to be reinforcing our identifications with our egos rather than helping us release ourselves from their grips. So much of what we wind up talking about in practicing our craft revolves around our personalities, our needs, and our desires – and yet the most fundamental thrust of mystical spirituality lies in somehow realizing that we are far bigger than those ego-appetites.
In our student Q&A call on May 18, this exact question came up. One part of my response included a reference to a rejection letter I got from a publisher back in the late 1970s. I’d written a book based on a statistical study of astrology – (or, more honestly, it was a book in which I pirated data from a more academic sociological study that was employing me at the time.) The project was officially called the Urban Policy Study and it was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. In pursuit of the usual social science goals, we had gathered people’s birth dates among other things. That meant that I was able to mathematically link various personality variables with people’s Sun Signs. It worked pretty well too! I could prove statistically, for one example, that Cancers were the shyest group, that Scorpios were the most depressed, and so on. None of it was very inspiring, but it was valid science. I was also in my twenties and still a little wet behind the ears, so I thought I’d quickly become a famous astrological zillionaire. One rejection letter I received included the fateful words, “The thrust of modern astrological publishing is egocentric, and we expect it will remain that way.”
Ouch – but bull’s eye. My book was never published. That was heartbreaking at the time, but I now see it as an unmitigated blessing. That book would have pigeon-holed me as “a statistical astrologer,” and that was not where my path lay. But that one editor who rejected me was correct – much of the body of astrological literature, both then and now, underscores the ego. It enshrines our “personality traits” and encourages us to focus on human differences as if they were set in cement.

How can we reconcile any of that with any notion of “transcending the ego?” It’s a serious issue and one with which any kind of astrology purporting to be “spiritual” needs to reckon.

We had a dozen really excellent questions in that last student Q&A call, so I was under a lot of time pressure to keep things moving. I felt like I had five minutes to respond to an issue that could occupy sages on Asian mountaintops for months. I hope that what I said in the call was clear and helpful. The subject feels important enough for me to dive back into it here in the context of this newsletter, and perhaps to go a little deeper.
First, a big belated Yes indeed to that book editor – most of what is published under the banner of astrology is purely egocentric. That’s not quite the bitter indictment that it sounds like though!  For example, psychotherapy is mostly centered on the ego too – although in this case labeling it  “the conscious mind” makes the idea go down a little more easily. And psychotherapy can be very good for people. So can psychological astrology, and for similar reasons. The ego is not the enemy, in other words. We need our egos or we would just stare into space, probably drooling – and the more we fine-tune our egos, freeing them from their various snakes and lizards, the better off we are, both spiritually and practically. We could say, echoing most of the saints of history, that the spiritual path “lies beyond the ego.” Fair enough – but I would rather say that the spiritual path routes through the ego, and that a healthy ego is an essential part of it.
If you are driving to that sacred mountain top, you’re going to need a car in order to get there. That’s the ego. The trick is to keep your attention on the mountain top rather than on how cool you look in the vehicle you are driving.
Astrology is a big tent. There are many branches in it. We can speak of Hellenistic astrology, Cosmobiology, Jyotish, modern psychological astrology, and so forth. We can make another division, realizing that in terms of spiritual levels, humanity runs from kindergarten through the 12th grade. There are forms of astrology – and astrologers – to address the perceived needs of the most primitive souls, along with forms that speak to the most evolved ones among us, and everything in between. Our field is vast and that’s probably a good thing.
Of all the forms that astrology takes, it is we evolutionary astrologers who are probably the most unabashedly “spiritual” in our orientation. Put simply, we see our existential and psychological lives – the ego’s life, in other words – as reflections of far deeper journeys unfolding against a background of many lifetimes. We use that metaphysical language – and, generally, the clients we attract are people who are looking for that kind of broad perspective too. How can we give them what they need? How can we do our best work? How can we really help them? After all, we are employing the same basic tools that the silliest Internet pop astrologer is using – signs, planets, houses. Astrology is indeed about tuning up the old ego, and like that book editor, we can “expect it will remain that way.” Ego is the focus, and yet we are aiming for something beyond it. It’s a pickle, for sure.

Here’s how I reconcile what we do in the FCEA with the deepest realities of our spiritual lives. It starts off with a statement that will sound pretty harsh: your birthchart represents your karmic predicament. That means that where you’ve got planets, you’ve got problems. (We've all got planets and we’ve all got problems, end of story). Well, not exactly – because all of those planets also represent solutions.

Do you talk too much? That’s a Mercury problem. What’s the cure? Learn to listen better. That’s a higher response to Mercury. Everything in the chart is like that. Everything has a double meaning. Everything astrological is a problem and everything astrological is the solution to the problem. What evolutionary astrology does is to chart the path between the low, self-defeating response and the higher ground. Thus we use the ego – and clarify, purify, and strengthen it – in order that it stops hindering us and starts serving the evolutionary needs of the soul.
In the East, the great enemy of the soul’s growth is generally referred to as attachment. In the Western Judeo-Christian tradition, the First Commandment is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Strip it of the Bronze Age language, and that commandment is about attachment too. It means don’t let anything become more important to you than surrendering to your own divinity. Keep your spirituality front and center – and don’t let any attachments get in the way.
But what are we attached to? Hint: it’s not always just money, power, and looking hot. What we are attached to are the less conscious responses to each configuration in our charts. We’re not that way out of some innate perversity either – once again, the chart simply holds a mirror before your karmic predicament. It reveals your attachments. There’s nothing to be ashamed of except complacency.
Say you have Mercury in Leo in the 3rd house. Again, let’s say you talk too much, just like that silly Internet astrologer might tell you that you do. What’s actually driving that behavior? A need for attention. What drives the need for attention? An underlying insecurity. There’s the attachment. You were born with it. Maybe through nodal analysis, we can even figure out why you were born with it. But either way, there it is. All your friends can see it. Maybe you can see it too – and if you can’t, maybe an evolutionary astrologer can help you become aware of it.
  • Where conventional astrology can actually become an obstacle to spiritual growth is when it implies that you “will always talk too much” because that’s the meaning of that chart configuration. You were born with it, so you are stuck with it. But ask the evolutionary astrologer about the cure. Here’s what you will hear . . .
  • Start with Leo – we suggest that you aim to cultivate the generosity of the good king or the good queen. That aspiration motivates you to listen to other people because it would be cheap of you not to grant them that attention – hey, you are the king, after all! You can afford it.
  • Then you take the risk of expressing yourself creatively, which means being vulnerable and painstakingly real in what you say.
  • That sense of risk generates compassion in you toward others who might be stepping out on the stage in the same risky way. That compassion makes you a better listener.
In all that I just wrote, note the basic fingerprint that distinguishes evolutionary astrology from all the other forms. We just described that 3rd house Leo Mercury as a path rather than as a “trait.” In one simple statement, we define what makes evolutionary astrology different from all the other forms.
  • We underscored the fluidity of what we call the personality rather than reinforcing the illusion that it is fixed and stable.
  • We turned an attachment into something entirely different – a yoga, or a spiritual discipline, what Buddhists would call a “skillful means.”
If anyone ever accuses you of reinforcing people’s egos with your work, this is where we make our stand. Your chart represents a path, not a personality profile. It’s a path that confronts you with your attachments and offers you a cure for them. And curing them is the essence of everyone’s spiritual journey.
In a nutshell, evolutionary astrology helps you know where to put your foot next on the spiritual path. And if you always have a good answer for that one, you’ll always be doing just fine, on track eventually for Enlightenment. It may be miles away, but at least you are heading in the right direction.
And the alternative to the spiritual path? Actually, there isn’t one.
Steven Forrest
June 2022