When we think of the purpose of astrology – what it is used for – we might think about clarification of relationship dynamics, making career decisions, selecting a good time for an important event, assessing a potential investment, or any number of practical matters. Increasingly, however, astrologers are emphasizing another purpose for the ancient discipline of astrology: its use on the spiritual path.
Spirituality is a notoriously slippery concept to pin down. Say that you’re on a spiritual path, and folks may imagine any one of a number of possibilities. They might think that you’re headed for a cave in the Himalayas, leading a monastic life, helping the poor in soup kitchens, or speaking with departed souls. They may assume you have a meditation or yoga practice, or that you attend religious meetings regularly. They could imagine that you’re focused on otherworldly things, unconcerned about material gain and loss. They might expect that you are, or are trying to be, a good person (sometimes, when I get angry, I hear, “but you’re supposed to be so spiritual!”). Any of these conceptions, alone or in combination and along with many other possibilities, might be valid, or at least partially so.
Within the greater community of spirituality, there are in fact many diverse approaches – for example, do you strive to become your true self, or to have no self? Perhaps the best way to view spiritual awakening is not in terms of any particular form or manifestation, but as a process of becoming more aware, of expanding one’s sense of identity to become ever-more inclusive, and to extend compassion outwards towards more beings.
Fine, but what could astrology have to do with spiritual awakening? In Astrology and Spiritual Awakening, Greg Bogart makes a convincing case that astrology shows us the particular challenges and opportunities that we each face, and that it offers perspective on key turning points in our lives. That is, a person’s birth chart (horoscope) shows the tensions and potentials that – when we add awareness and conscious choice – can lead to spiritual evolution. As the author stresses, the concept of astrology as a tool on the spiritual path is not new. However, his unique take on it is certainly worth reading for astrologers and those interested in astrology and spirituality.
The book opens with a quick primer on astrology. Greg is modest in his assessment of this section, but it is actually quite a good introduction to the discipline for the absolute novice, while presenting interesting ideas for those with some astrology under their belt. His descriptions of transits and progressions, Western astrology’s primary predictive techniques, is straightforward and clear. In his drive to be concise in this chapter, the author manages to be positively elegant.
Next comes a section on how astrology can help individuals find a spiritual path that will resonate with them. This is something I offer in my professional practice, as well, and I don’t hesitate to say that I have been incorporating Greg’s insights since reading this chapter. It is one of the most useful chapters in the book, with examples from spiritual teachers like Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Aurobindo, as well as others, like Barack Obama and Jack Nicholson (read it – it makes sense!).
The core chapters of the book are on humanistic and transpersonal approaches to astrology, schools that have been very prominent since the middle of the 20th century. Deep respect is paid to Dane Rudhyar, the influential astrologer whose work decisively pried astrology away from the fatalism with which it was associated. This section of the book not only includes potentials from the natal chart, but also describes how transits and progressions activate the chart and bring potentials to the fore so that they manifest.
A discussion of the six shaktis, from the Indian spiritual tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, helps to explain how astrological aspects can be worked with in a variety of ways. Concluding the book is a series of astrological biographies of spiritual teachers. In this section, Greg goes into depth, offering an astrological perspective on the personalities and development of extraordinary individuals.
Astrology and Spiritual Awakening is truly an excellent book. It is appropriate for beginning and seasoned astrologers, and also those whose primary interest is in spirituality, psychological transformation, or evolutionary growth. Considering that the book works with a number of both astrological and spiritual concepts, it is a significant achievement that it is so concise, clear, and readable.