Life is often unfair and unjust – it seems that – at the time of writing – Liz Greene’s Relating, the astrology classic from 1977, is only available second hand (on Amazon) or at some exorbitant price. This is a downright tragedy for Western civilisation, since Liz Greene’s Relating: An Astrological Guide to Living with Others on a Small Planet is quite simply the best astrology book penned in the last hundred years. Possibly ever.
OK then, I’m biased, but it’s not too much to claim that it’s – at least – the ultimate work on so-called psychological astrology. This hybrid is largely based on the insights of Carl Jung into the complex and often unpredictable workings of the human psyche. If, as Robert Hand stated, the birth chart is a ‘map of the psyche’, then clearly there ought to be an interface for both modern psychology and astrology. One that can illuminate both subjects. This interface turns out to be Liz Greene’s Relating.
However, some people at my local astrology group are even a little sniffy about psychological astrology, reckoning that the traditional event-based form (as in predictive work) is the only valid one. But this is like the modern physicist ignoring the obvious philosophical implications of quantum physics as they shout, ‘forget the waffle -just show me the math’. The old meat-and-potatoes approach to astrology (even the brilliant John Townley once told me the Jungian/archetypal view is ’bogus’) forgets that outer event-based interpretations always have as their basis the ‘inner’ psyche – there is no world at all without Consciousness. Jung’s Synchronicity is just as much about the external as it is the internal world. In the end, there is no difference between the two.
It is common knowledge that Carl Jung, the brilliant Swiss psychologist who did so much to illuminate our inner selves, was deeply interested in (and impressed by) astrology. For anyone who ever wondered how the unconscious mind works, or even the ancient art and ‘science’ we call astrology, then Liz Greene’s Relating is the classic work to have. One that should be in the possession of any self-respecting astrologer.
The book made an enormous impression on me whilst figuring out, back in 1983, just how all this Jungian psychology stuff connected to the horoscopic art. It was a theme I developed for my own book Jungian Birth Charts (Aquarian Press, 1988) and, in fact, I couldn’t have written it without Greene’s superb text. To this day, I always think of both astrology and depth psychology as essentially the same. The Jungian scheme of typology, his theories about the Collective Unconscious and the phenomenon of Synchronicity – and astrology’s planets and signs (indeed the aspects as archetypes) – are like two sides of the same coin. In other words, you can’t have one without the other, simply because the chart also points to psychological factors and archetypes (disguised as ‘planets’) in the psyche which often remain unconscious, often working away to undermine the individual ego, and hence one’s life in general.
In particular, astrology points to the phenomenon of psychological projection, which Greene likened to ‘an image projected onto a screen’, whereupon we ‘look at the image and respond to it, rather than examining the film or transparency … which is the real source of the image.’ She explains that ‘when a person projects some unconscious quality within himself onto another person he reacts to the projection as though it belonged to the other; it does not occur to him to look within his own psyche for the source of it.’ Significantly, she adds, such a person will ‘treat the projection as though it existed outside him’.
This is the real Law of Attraction – we draw on qualities in others that we’re ignorant of in ourselves. And so there are hidden elements at work in the greater psyche, ready to trip us up, or flood the ego with emotions it can’t handle, or simply bring out the worst in us when we were trying to be good.
The message in both astrology and Jung is also the same: know thyself. Both disciplines offer us the chance at much better self awareness for those capable of it. This is because both astrology and Jungian psychology require a new pair of eyes. You need to be able to ‘see’ how the symbolism works and – moreover – see just how universal archetypes are fundamental to human psychology, indeed, life in general. The ones who won’t get it are the philosophical materialists who cannot conceive of the source of life as anything other than ‘things’, made of matter.
Archetypes are all of life’s ultimate ‘building bricks’ that are not made of matter – they are what we can’t do without, what are left with when we’ve run out of explanations. Let me explain. ‘Love’ is a universal archetype. Any and every explanation for why love exists will always fall short, certainly any from neuroscience, neo-Darwinism, or sociobiology. We simply cannot make any definitive statement about it. All we know is how it touches us, how this seemingly external force enters into us, lives through us. But we certainly cannot exist without it – and this is the point. Love is just a fact of life. It’s archetypal.
Greene covers all of the chief Jungian archetypes which have substitute astrological symbols. The Shadow, our ‘Mr Hyde’ aspect, is to be found mirrored in the planetary archetype of Saturn, for example. We also get a clear idea of just how we operate in personal relationships, through Jung’s concept of the Anima and Animus – the archetype which makes us fall in love. (Essentially, the Anima or Animus is the unconscious image of the ‘ideal partner’ that propels us into relationships with those who embody its qualities.)
All of this sounds like it might be a little dry and technical, but the style has a nice, elegant semi-academic flourish. As already stated, Liz Greene’s Relating is one of the best astrology books you can buy, certainly for its profundity and erudition – you’ll come away much wiser about yourself once you’ve finished reading. It’s even pretty accessible for those with only limited knowledge, and there’s nothing here to alienate the astrological beginner. The plaudits found on the rear cover of the original paperback version (published back in the day by Coventure) are wholly justified, one from Horoscope Magazine reads: If you only read one astrology book this year … made it. Even if you plan to read only one book of any kind this year, Relating would still be an excellent choice.’ Go on – get yourself a copy. Even if it’s only second hand!
Images (fair usage): Wikimedia Commons