Saturday, October 26, 2013

Astrology at the Edge of Consciousness -

By Adam Elenbaas via realitysandwich.com (Thanks Connie) 



Before I drank ayahuasca for the first time, almost a decade ago, I considered astrology as a prescriptive and superstitious occult subject. It was about fortune tellers and palm readers and people who took your money to say generic things about your psychology. But after only a few cups of the Amazonian potion, the subject of astrology suddenly became intensely interesting, clearly multi-dimensional. Following several undeniably "planetary" experiences during ceremonies, I realized that I needed to look deeper in order to understand the ancient art of astrology. What I found got me so excited that within a few years the subject became a life calling. Now it's my fulltime profession.


It all started with a ceremonial vision of my birth

There is a vague memory. The sound of rushing waters and sequencing lights. Then nothing again. I'm floating in the dark, with only the dimmest awareness of anything but the warmth and the dark. Then I hear my mother. Scream. And then again the sound of rushing water and the whirling of colored lights all around me. Then another scream. Now there is something. There is an event. I am part of the event. Someone else is part of the event. Time and space. Scream. Then rushing water and the lights again: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, white, and then black. One two three four five six seven lights into white and then black. Rushing water. Scream. Like whitecaps breaking and foam cresting over waves against rocks. Lights, strobe white into black and then scream again. Something is pulling me, a hand, a finger, a touch, a cord, a bright hot white light tunneling up from down in the deep dark black. Scream. Rushing water. Now crown. Heat. Light. And crown. Heat. Light. And crown. The bud is breaking the soil. Eyes blinded by the light. Heaving breaths and hard hands and scream, scream, scream. I am alive. And scream, light white hot, scream. I am here. I hear laughter, and here I feel skin. And here I am born again. Son of man. Mother sighs relief. Born again. And father beams. Born again born again. July 16th, 1981, Lexington Kentucky, 2:32 am, northern hemisphere, earth, orbiting around the sun, neighboring planets follow in their places with thousands of humming asteroids. The sun is hurtling through space, moving around the galaxy's white center, and galaxy upon galaxy is traveling like jellyfish through infinity.  

"Adam Joseph," my mother and father repeat. "Welcome," they say. "We're so happy you're here." The name Adam means "Man of the Red Earth," or "First Man," and Joseph was the dreamer. My parents are preacher and nurse. Outside of the hospital, the moon is approaching full and preparing to make a lunar eclipse. I won't learn of this until I'm thirty years old.

I don't just passively observe this vision of my birth. It's not just a drug vision or some far out cartoon images appearing in my head. I can feel the vision of my origin down to my bones, so real that it feels like I'm trying to birth myself out of my own body, right out of my eyes and ears and mouth and bottom and even out through my joints. The energy contractions and the visions of my beginning are so strong that it feels like every bone in my body might break. I cry out incoherently in the mesa, and then I clutch my stomach and fall forward from my knees, vomiting into my purge bucket yet again. The moonlight is streaming into the mesa. The shamans are singing icaros in full force and people are suffering and meditating deeply throughout the mesa.

In the morning there is a man with a home video recorder asking people for permission to film them. He wants to document our thoughts and experiences from the ceremony. I'm sitting on a log in the early morning sunlight, out behind the ceremonial lodge. He asks me, "What did you see?" "I saw my own birth," I said. "What was it like?" he asks. "It was profound," I said. "I'll never forget it. Whether I was remembering my actual birth or experiencing some kind of reenactment, it doesn't matter. You can't forget something like that. I don't even know what else to say." Then we talked for a while longer about other things. Four years later I would become a professional astrologer and devote myself to the study of birth charts and the planets. That's how it started...

Astrology 101 from the Plant Teachers

From that ceremony forward I studied astrology... even before I ever reached for my first astrology book. Because as soon as you start considering the cycles of life, and the symbolic significance of the different stages of life on earth, you are doing astrology. This is where astrology begins... it begins on Earth. It begins by understanding the archetype of Earth...of the way in which human consciousness is wired, and of the seasons and the elements. Earth is the first archetype we learn when we study astrology, because it's our home planet. The most basic idea in astrology therefore comes from living life on Earth.... it's the realization that what exists outside of us on earth is intimately connected to what happens inside of us. In fact, there is sometimes literally no separation between the two.

In my early ceremonies in the jungle, life and death were so closely related it was overwhelming. It was hard to tell whether the jungle was teeming with life and birth and abundance, or whether it was a sink hole of death and violence and chaos. The two were intertwined like the same vines and serpents that snaked their way through my earliest visions... most of which connected me very deeply, again, to the experience of life on EARTH.

The next step was for me to learn about the Sun and the Moon. Contemplating the Sun and the Moon on the evenings and mornings of ceremony was paradigm shifting. It was the first time I ever felt something like an ancient evolutionary memory. Just looking at the Sun or the Moon, or sitting in their presence, everything felt brand new, almost like I had never recognized these big balls of light before in my life. And the realization was simple...without these lights I wouldn't be here.  I could almost feel the story of life developing on the planet... of microbes and bacteria swimming and eventually creatures crawling onto the land and millions of plant and insect species swarming....and just like that I had received astrological teachings about the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon. No books needed.

Along with these simple teachings, I realized that the Sun and the Moon carried even deeper and more symbolic resonance. For example, under the light of the Moon in a ceremony an entirely different world emerged compared to life under the Sun. Under the Sun things were starkly contrasted -- this rock, that hut, this river -- but under the light of the moon everything swam together fluidly and mysteriously.  It was simple realizations like this that inspired my interest in astrology, and the point is that this is what real astrology is all about. This is where it comes from. It starts on Earth and it describes our consciousness to our consciousness.... It describes our experiences through all the beautiful and complex relationships we have with the world around us.
  

Birth Charts and Theory Books

Ayahuasca has been my primary astrology teacher, ten times more than books or abstract theories. And yet there comes a time where we must learn the traditional "systems" of astrology in order to become proficient readers. What got me interested in learning the full language of astrology was having my birth chart read for the first time. I met up with a friend in Union Square, New York City, and she read my birth chart. The information she provided felt like a dream I had been trying to remember my entire life (no BS fortune tellery generalizations either). When I asked her about the birth chart she said, "The moment of our birth is very special. The birth chart shows us where all the planets were at, and in what angles to each other, at the time you were born. And from this you can understand a lot about a person... though it's not really a hard science to read these charts. It's more of an art form."

I'm so thankful she explained it this way, because this is still how I see it today; this is how ayahuasca has always taught me astrology, and this is the most fundamental difference between astrology as "prescriptive" or "fatalistic," and astrology as magical and artistic. The main idea behind birth chart astrology, really the only one you need to consider, is the idea that the map of the planets at the moment you were born creates an oracular porthole for you to consult with during any moment or phase of your life journey. It's not that the birth chart will tell you what's going to happen, as much as it is that the birth chart reflects what is happening, what types of patterns we tend to create, and what creative options we have for evolving through each and every situation of life.

Before we can read these patterns for others, or even consult the chart ourselves, we have to learn the language of each of the signs, the planets, the houses, and the angles (not to mention dozens of other technical pieces of the puzzle). In many ways it's like learning to play a musical instrument. You have to labor through scales and memorization, and you have to practice, practice, practice before you can start playing the instrument fluidly, without thinking about it,  and with your own heart and soul.

Astrology is the same way. To read a person's birth chart in a truly cathartic way, it's not about learning a hard science or ascertaining the ultimate truth about a person's soul or the planetary weather. It's more like learning how to sing a song or play jazz music. Each astrologer will sing the chart differently, though a fair amount of the musical structure will remain the same because of the fixed positions of the planets at the time of a person's birth.

As my study of the traditional astrology texts advanced (and it still continues -- there's 3,000+ years of the stuff!), ayahuasca helped me to go beyond theory and the technicalities, and led me into the multi-dimensional divinatory "Art" of reading the planets and stars. Not by coincidence ancient astrologers even talked about the study of astrology as "the music of the spheres." And since the dawn of astrological planetary research, the most masterful practitioners have always learned their craft both academically and in accompaniment with practices like meditation, song, prayer, fasting, and special rituals. Most people never get that far because they trip their feet on the doorway of the word "science," a word that too often gets thrown out in front of a firsthand experience of astrology.

I'm mentioning ayahuasca as my teacher here, but it's really not about the ayahuasca. It's about cultivating our intellectual understanding of the system of astrology along with the multi-dimensional reality of what it means to walk a spiritual path and to do spiritual growth work. When we approach astrology without doing this work, astrology becomes a pseudo-science (rather than a music or a magic). It becomes a "cheap trick" rather than invoking "The Trickster." It becomes about a determined future rather than a co-creative and inherently open reality.

Astrology at the Edge of Consciousness

Nowadays my favorite parts of astrology have little to do with hard theory, though studying hard astro theory is like the metronome of my work. Really my favorite part of doing astrology is what happens when a person walks into my office and sits down for a reading. Let's say they start telling a story about their brother or sister... meanwhile I'm simultaneously dealing with the same subject in my life and my chart. By speaking to my client and feeling into the resonance I share with them during a session, knowing both charts at once, I'm able to guide my clients while also guiding myself. Watching astrology happen both on and off the client's chart like this is amazing; it's as magical as any form of shamanism I've ever practiced and as sacred as any temple I've ever entered.

Instead of looking at astrological transits and saying, "This is going to happen in this area of my life," I'm more likely to sit down and meditate and speak to the planets, personally. I'm more likely to ask them to help me understand my own patterns and karmas at a deeper level. And by doing so I participate in the astrology happening in the different areas of my life, rather than looking at the unfolding of events like the giant arms of a mechanical celestial clock. I see each and every one of the planets like guides and teachers. The outcomes and movements, though predictable, have almost more to do with our ability to speak with the planets and make conscious decisions in collaboration with them, than they do with "what sign and house the planets are occupying and what that means technically."

I'm really hopeful for the future of astrology. I feel like the more that people expand their consciousness, the more likely it is that astrology will be understood in the proper way.


There are days when I'm embarrassed to admit that I've chosen astrology as my professional path. Much of the time, when I tell people my job, they stare at me blankly, or they laugh, as if I'm not being serious. I often wonder if this career path will support me into old age. I would look to the planets in my birth chart for definitive answers to ease my future anxiety, but they always say the same thing: "If this is the music you love, if this is what's in your heart, then stop worrying about the future and keep singing your song!"

1 comment:

angelicview said...

I have never been much into Astrology - or Ayahuasca, for that matter. But this story is magical and unique. Loved it! <3