The Planets Within – Toward a Shamanic Astrology

“Know that you are another world in miniature and have in you Sol and Luna and even the stars.” – Origen Homiliae in Liviticum 5, 2.

Astrology was born and nurtured within the context of a world view which is either completely forgotten or considered to be only of academic interest in the majority of first world societies. To forget this interconnectedness is to settle for a trivial astrology or none at all.


Many readers will be familiar with the Hermetic dictum, “As Above, So Below” but we can also talk of what is without is within. Every possible element of physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual state are under the governance of one or more of the seven sacred planets and luminaries. This includes considerations such as chakras

So the chart isn’t only descriptive, it actually provides keys for those who wish for a deeper understanding, Usually, the initial motive for doing so is some form of suffering. One wants to understand the source and by doing so be confronted with realistic choices. The elements of the chart become as it were animated. In fact, the chart can be the doorway for shamanic experience, but none of this can happen if the client has no interest in learning some basic elements regarding the planets and luminaries, first and foremost. That is to say, they will do well to attempt to connect with these energies

With the exception of horary and to some degree electional charts, questions asked tend to be more complex than most clients would likely realize. To get the full benefit of the treading, the client cannot be entirely passive. Unfortunately, most clients have little or no interest in this. The most disappointing readings are done for those  who say something like “I don’t want to know about the planets, I just want the answer.”

The problem is that understanding how astrological elements play out in the various levels of being is actually a large part of the answer. A refusal to attempt to connect with the sources results, to one degree or another in a fast food version of astrology. This is of course among other things a hopelessly deterministic view of things, but the irony generally extends to include a flat denial of anything pre-ordained. The cosmological nature of astrology demands some degree of acknowledgment if the reading is to be much more than skin deep in its reception.

What the naysayer is actually suggesting is that his or her problems  are not really theirs, that the chart is such an abstraction that it cannot be approached or isn’t worth approaching. That is to say it’s a denial of correspondence, either “As Above, So Below” or that what is *outside* has nothing to do with what is within. The reader of the horoscope is seen as nothing more than a fortune teller.

This is where the shamanic approach can be employed to great advantage. There is a surprising amount of confusion about what shamanism really is. Many people  with whom I’ve spoken, have difficult getting past the cliched trappings of the “Witch Doctor,” a nomenclature employed to denote “Primitive” in a negative, even derogatory sense. I have even been told I have no right to be a shaman because I’m *white,* which among other things shows a very great ignorance of indigenous European people. All Shamans will tell you they facilitate access to the spirit realm.

This is true but we also need to remember that every element of creation has a spirit. which is inexorably connected to what some shamans refer to as Great or Divine Spirit.  The true shaman doesn’t follow man made laws, but follows spiritual ones.  This has sometimes given the impression of the shaman as somehow feral, which is actually fair enough.

It is an inestimable tragedy that humanity has mostly lost any true sense of belonging to the natural or divine order and it will be the death of us.. When we see *nature* as *other* we have already ceased to be conscious of the interconnection, and equality of all beings. A sane person would not consider an owl or a polar bear as expendable,

The shaman can and does facilitate access to the spirit realms, thus facilitating insight and retrieval of spirits. A world that contains an island of plastic the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean and allows natural crops to be replaced by cloned ones is in great need of a radical wake up call. It is of the utmost importance that we remember who we really are. Astrology can be a powerful tool in this regard, both personally and in the larger context of humanity,

When applied through the medium of shamanic astrology, we can access the planetary energies in a personal yet universal way. No two charts are the same, so what we have is something very personal. However, like a mandala inner and outer are represented and laid out in a cosmic map to be discerned by the shaman

There are only seven planets and luminaries and the basic meaning of each one is actually quite easy to grasp. There is of course a vast depth of meaning that only a great deal of study and practise can realize. This blog does contain articles on all planets from a traditional point of view, as well as the nature of the humours and so on for those interested in this. There is also an extensive library of mostly primary source texts for scholars of the Art.wt0082_1s

Start with the luminaries and personal planets. The social planets, Jupiter and Saturn will come later. To begin with, think of the differences between the Sun and Moon. We might ask what is solar energy in astrology. The Sun is it’s own light and moves outward. The Moon is reflective of the Sun, with no light of her own, yet she turns the tides, regulates vegetative phenomena and mirrors the menstrual cycle.,

Your natal chart is inseparable from yourself, so the most important thing is to be willing to experience the various energies . In mythologies from all cultures and in all great literature and art we see these archetypal forms in dynamic expression. The reading becomes experiential rather than a transfer of information to a more or less passive recipient. I believe that astrology is yet to realize its golden age

12 thoughts on “The Planets Within – Toward a Shamanic Astrology

  1. Thanks. Enjoyed that. In I wrote:

    Indigenous spirituality doesn’t have this renunciative flavour at all, wherever you look. And that says to me that this deeper experience of life through the body and nature is what is natural to people, and that the ideal of freedom from material entanglement is a corruption.

    And this is exactly where Pluto takes us. The Underworld is a place of authenticity, of wholeness, where we are asked to acknowledge and honour the whole of ourselves. Maybe collectively as astrologers we have not asked ourselves rigorously enough what our philosophy is. Are we fully a part of the western esoteric tradition, or do we need to reject a central plank of that tradition? In a way Pluto makes astrology ‘shamanic’: a religion of ‘this world’ inhabited by spirits, by gods such as Pluto and Mercury for whom we are the mediators.

    • Regarding your comment that “indigenous spirituality doesn’t have this renunciative flavour at all, wherever you look” I’m not sure what you are referring to. Certainly I didn’t write, nor do I think, that shamanism has a “renunciative flavour.” On the contrary, the shamanism of which I speak fully embraces life in all forms.

      I’ve been practising traditional astrology for several years, so to get into a discussion about a planet I don’t use would be pointless at best. I’ve made the case for the traditional planets on multiple occasions on this blog. The debate regarding traditional vs. modern has been repeated over and over again, with a rather small return on energy spent.

      • Hi there, you got me wrong slightly, I wrote the above in the context of my own article, I didn’t mean you had suggested shamanism was renunciative at all!

        Anyway, didn’t realise you don’t use Pluto, hadn’t really thought to be honest :)

  2. I am a black shaman with apprentices world wide and have been an astrologer for thirty seven years. Shamanic or Shamanism is a term for physical and non physical personal actions and experiences, that is based and/or experienced from from half human and half non-human experiences including animal and avian shape shifting for higher level shamans (sorcerers can also, but that does not make them a shaman because their animal is a projected illusion where shamans actually are the animal or avian). Shamanism is nature (consciousness communication of mother earth) based not human or human mind based knowledge.

    This is a simple explanation… there are several types of shamanic humans, some are trained and some are born, some practice the more feminine (yin) SOUL and some the more masculine (yang) MIND BODY…

    1. Ceremonial, Shamans – WHITE Offer guidance and service and mostly knowledge from current or traditional Rituals for community.

    2. Healer Shamans – YELLOW the main practice is to work with the fragmented aspects of the human and their dis-ease, connecting it to past life karma, and how it effects their current dis-eases of their mental and physical body making a bridge with soul retrievals and healing rituals.

    3. Fauna and Flora Healer Shamans WHITE who use natural healing remedies from earth, to make medicine from herbs roots, herbals and plants for.. the physical body.

    4. Black Shaman – (BLACK) Healer Shaman, Ceremonial Shaman, Medicine Shaman, Death and Life Shaman, Walker in between the world and gates, leaving the body, Demon Slayer, Exorcist, Karmaless. Black shamans are the closest to Tibetan, Zen, Sufi, Tao, before it split into two separate practices (religion and shamanism), Guru Rimpoche is a good example, both enlightened (karmaless) as a Buddha and a black shaman.

    XX. Drug Shamans (ayawaska peyote etc) Dark side of Neptune… Plant hallucinogenic drugs to induce a high – but leaves the person’s vision clouded by the Neptune drug illusion that clouds the persons perspective. Most people are addicts who partake more than a few times.

    I will leave you with my quote “Pluto may rule Hell, but Neptune Is Hell” …. Phoenix

  3. Peter,
    I love reading your blog and observe how you expose and develop your thoughts. As all good astrologers and philosophers, your mind operates through principles and not facts. All your arguments are conceptually logical and stick to the theory level, leaving the reader with this nice sensation of expansion of horizons, just like Jupiter does.
    But Jupiter always comes with a Great Red Spot, and to observe and identify principles and theories in everyday life events is a lifetime art. Sometimes an argument can be, in principle, perfect, but when observed as real life event, can be completely flawed.
    I observe this thinking about your ideal/essential astrologer-client relationship. Whenever you meet a real fleshy-boney client, he/she is a stranger, you probably understand all about his/her chart but you don’t know him/her.
    I do agree with you, that in principle, the person that asks for the answers only is paradoxically asking and denying at the same time. Yet, what if the fleshy-boney creature that asked for a quickie horary reading actually had spent years on spiritual studies that you don’t know about? What if the fleshy-boney creature is a just a rebel bookworm autodidact allergic to people?
    Imagine a feral cat showing up in your backyard asking for food. You know the cat needs shelter, care, structure. The feral cat only knows he’s hungry. You decide then that it is a nice idea to bring him home and offer all he needs. But the cat is not domestic, and he feels trapped and suddenly runs out for good, because deep inside he feels an urgent need of freedom. In the end you could think “the cat is asking and denying at the same time, what a paradox”.
    (I know you will hate this metaphor, and you will probably find a flaw in it!)
    But this is the Great Red Spot of your beautiful Jupiterian argument.
    I usually don’t like criticizing like this, I find it petty, but I’m sorry I had to, for reasons that only you and I know. I admit that when you make any criticism you are much more elegant than me. When I grow up I wanna be like you.
    In sum, I believe that studying essences and how they manifest in material events is a neverending art and many times you can make mistakes. For me, it is not much hard to reach the essence (of planets, signs and houses) through the study of texts and descriptions, but the other way around is extremely difficult.
    For example (and this is an honest example with no hidden message or double speaking):
    A few days ago I cut an ongoing process cold turkey, saying, “I don’t do complicated and disharmonious”. Since then, I got stuck in this event, thinking, this behavior correspond to what planet? One could say it is an ill-dignified spoiled lazy Venus, or maybe a quickie harsh violent Mars probably in Aries, or just that temperamental and careless ill dignified Moon. My first choice though was Saturn. A grave and just Saturn that uses his reaper because it is the right thing to do.
    But then I thought that I probably interpret everything wrong, that in the end it is probably a lazy Venus, and that I’m always biased seeing Saturn everywhere, and that I have no objectivity at all.
    What is above is below, but to reach above from below is easy, the hard part is to see the above, below.

  4. Yara,

    Let me first say that you write beautifully. Thanks also for your kind words regarding content on this blog. I won’t be able to respond to all points, but I will do my best given the time available. First, let me say though that I’m not always so expansive and most certainly acknowledge limitations as part of the nature of things. Nevertheless, my chart is in fact very Jupiterean, so points well taken

    I’m intrigued by your comments regarding “fleshy/boney” people, which is everyone, and the idea that they are different from their chart. If that is what you are saying, you are saying a lot about astrology across the board. Yes it does take a lifetime and I have spent about 46 six years studying / practising astrology as well as going to great depths to study the underpinnings of astrology and her sister arts.

    You wrote ” Yet, what if the fleshy-boney creature that asked for a quickie horary reading actually had spent years on spiritual studies that you don’t know about? What if the fleshy-boney creature is a just a rebel bookworm autodidact allergic to people?”

    That is a very good and a very practical question. In the article I specifically exclude horary for the very reasons you offer. I cannot this minute think of an application of horary that would be useful in shamanic astrology.

    I find the metaphor of the feral cat very interesting. Most people I should think, and certainly me, would first offer the cat food. The cat is wild so you probably couldn’t just pick it up and welcome it into your home. It’s likely to scratch, bite and hiss wildly. Knowing cats, a feral one may decide to make your home his or her own, not the other way around. I cannot imagine why anyone would be surprised if the cat just goes its own way when it’s good and ready. It was never a prisoner, only in need of food.

    Finally, I must disagree regarding hermetic dictum. It is just as easy to see the above in the below than the other way around. If you look at a tree, a fountain or a fire you will know what I mean. This works as well in astrology, but the art takes a very long time to learn

    • Let me rectify:

      What I meant is that the map is not the territory. Their intrinsic correspondence is undeniable, of course. Maps augment the perception of the territory and help you to build your own paths. Some people read a map once, and easily navigate the territory and arrive where they want. Other people don’t even need maps, they simply know where to go through intuition. But I know people that have a terrible time with maps, and hold the cell phone tightly, checking the gps at every corner, interpreting again and again, at every minute, afraid of losing the right direction and turning at the wrong corner.

      Each fleshy-boney is unique. Don’t assume everyone can read a map and associate to the territory just as easily as you can. Some people have their limitations.

      Btw did you see your Great Red Spot again? You get the best view of it, if you sit in Saturn’s rings. It looks lovely, believe me.

      I think I misinterpreted your text, adding horary astrology, but I did it because you used the word “fortune telling” at some point. Sorry!

  5. I understand. But a map of physical or even political elements isn’t really the same as an astrological chart. Perhaps a closer approximation might be a mandala as cosmic map.

    The natal chart is a map of essences and the dynamics of all elements represented in the chart. This is not a fossilised artifact or something that can be inextricably separated from its *owner.* You are correct.

    Not everyone can read a map, much less a nativity, because it takes appropriate temperament, great devotion and decades of study to even approach mastery. This is why a seasoned astrologer can be extraordinarily helpful in a broad range of matters and there will always be those who cannot receive the information they ask for a number of reasons. These people are quite rare .

    Saturn’s a bit nippy this time of year, so I will have to embrace my inner Jupiterean *red spot.* until the weather improves and fares become more reasonable

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