The latest issue of The Mountain Astrologer has an article by Brad Kochunas which kind of bothered me.  The article is called “In Praise of Melancholy,” so I expected to love it in light of my recent article “The Joy of Sadness.”  Kochunas writes:

Our psychological orientation via the humanistic transpersonal perspective is that we should spend our lives enthusiastically committed to seeking personal growth, self-actualization, peak experiences, liberation (i.e., expanded perspective)

so far so good…but here’s where he loses me:

and – with the recent emphasis on positive psychology – happiness.  This manic search leaves us with a lopsided vision of the world.  I might argue that life is too precious and brief to exhaust it seeking enlightenment.

Kochunas then goes on to ask: “Is it possible that the pervasive presence of depression in our nation arises from the inevitable voices of Saturn and Pluto trying to be heard in a culture bent upon endless growth while denying both decline and demise?”  Yes, absolutely?  But one can experience deeply the darkness of Saturn and Pluto yet still use those experiences for personal growth and ultimately the ability to walk in and out of the dark realms without getting stuck there.

This portion of the article really annoyed me since this speaks directly to the work that I do in my own practice:

[A]strology has followed [the field of psychology] in its efforts to assist clients to find happiness, success, health, wealth and the reassurance that they are living their lives in a manner that will get them what they want. This narcissistic focus has brought about a loss of soul, a dismissal of Fate and a secularizing perspective to astrology.  There is a certain hubris and shame in the idea of using the vast pulsating energy of the cosmos, the very power of the gods, as a tool for satisfying egoistic desires for personal comfort and gain. … [T]he Fate of the moment is complete as it is and in perfect accord with the heavens.

My own life experience is completely at odds with this entire attitude.  If I had been told as a younger person that my Moon/Pluto conjunction and Saturn/Sun/Neptune stellium consigned me to the life of misery that I was experiencing, and that I should just realize that my Fate of the moment was perfect and that I should not attempt to grow stronger and more spiritually aware in a way that would bring me greater joy and yes, happiness, I would have killed myself right then and there.

My personal theology is that a kind and loving Universe has provided us with gods in the guise of the planets who come to us as teachers.  We do not arrive on Earth fully formed, like automatons living out a life that was mapped out for us and marching in lockstep with our Fate.  The gods in our chart say, here are your challenges and your gifts.  How are you going to use them to fulfill your destiny?  Are you going to continue to grow, or are you going to sit back and allow yourself to live a reactive life?

I understand that a great many more traditional astrologers look at the kind of transformational astrology that some of us practice and shudder at the lack of structure and definition.  No cookbook explanations that work for everyone – no specific patterns of delineations that are followed the same way each time for each client.  Of course I agree that to live a life focused on personal gain is a shallow way to use your precious life, but I believe at the  core of my being that the ever-unfolding process of spiritual awareness and wisdom is the reason that we come here at all.

This seems a rich topic for discussion, yes?

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