Dreams and Astrological Psychology
The Way through the Maze of the Unconscious
by John D. Grove
John Grove has spent 40 years in a conventional professional environment of empirical psychotherapy. At the same time, he has pursued an interest in Jungian approaches to individuation, including dreamwork, integrating these where possible into his practice. His interest has also extended to the use of astrological techniques, in the form known as astrological psychology, which is generally not accepted by empirical colleagues.
In this book John reflects on how this personal dichotomy reflects the fundamental split in Western thought that is leading to today’s global crises. The subjective demands as much attention as the rational-objective dominant mindset. Individuation is as important as behavioural therapies. The unconscious parts of ourselves and their projections demand to be understood before we can become fully developed human beings.
With many examples, John shows how dreamwork and astrological psychology provide valuable twin tools to enable this process of personal integration.
He proposes to make us all our own psychologists for it is possible for anyone inclined to reflection to try to understand the puzzle of their own psychic existence.
Paperback, 128 pages. First published June 2014.
Also available on Amazon as ‘printable page format’ ebook, which provides for reading on Kindle Fire, Android, IOS and Windows devices.
Review by Sue Lewis
This slender but thought-provoking volume extends the scope of HopeWell publishers, which has, over the past ten years, made key texts by the Hubers readily available in English, and published helpful new manuals on astrological psychology and how to bring the chart alive by Joyce Hopewell and Richard Llewellyn.
In Dreams and Astrological Psychology, John Grove, recently retired from an American hospital for veterans, shares his insights into how to achieve levels of consciousness motivated more by ‘the courage to be’ than by those narrowly competitive and divisive drives to earn and possess to which most of us are encouraged to give priority, and he shows how techniques taught by the Astrological Psychology Association (APA) can combine with Jungian dream analysis to become tools ‘for reflective investigation of one’s own psyche and psychological and spiritual development’ (pp. 9 and 47).
The book opens by addressing the problem of personality disorders, usually brought on by particularly stressful circumstances and changing cultural norms. Such labels stigmatize and deprive a person of future job opportunities, perpetuating social dysfunction instead of facilitating the healing of psychological wounds and opening a way to social reintegration and psychosynthesis. Thankfully, the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-V) has at last dropped personality disorders from its diagnostic categories but much still needs to be done to bring about a ‘more holistic approach’ incorporating ‘humanistic considerations’ (p. 9).
Not only has Western society been hitherto too quick to adversely label individuals who stray from prescribed norms, but individuals have over-identified with specific career paths, thereafter suffering loss of ego when the identifying job comes to an end. The example Grove gives – familiar to him and topical in 2014, as we commemorate the centenary of the start of World War 1 and the 70th anniversary of D-Day – is that of troop demobilization and the difficulties of readjustment to civilian life. Dreams ‘can have a compensatory or balancing role in the psyche between the conscious ego and the Self which generates all dream content’ (p. 50), and many returning soldiers experience traumatic dreams re-enacting the fire fights in which their comrades were killed. Such nightmares are treated with Imagery Rehearsal Therapy, a visualization technique during which the subject reviews the images of the last dream, and then rewrites their tragic ending to create a positive outcome. According to Catherine Shainberg – with whom the Spanish Huber School have been working – similar techniques were ‘used by ancient prophets, seers, and sages to control dreams and visions’. Drawing parallels in astrological psychology, we frequently find the unconscious imagery of dreams in the Moon Node Chart and its eruption into present life is often signalled by Natal and/or Nodal Age Progression exacerbated by Transits.
According to Ira Progoff (1921-98), Jung’s ‘concept of synchronicity was originally suggested to him by his observations in studying the deep levels of the Self, especially as he noted the correlation between the movement of events within dreams and the style of interpretation that he found in certain ancient, especially oriental, scriptures and commentaries with respect to changes of destiny in the course of human life’ (Jung, Synchronicity and Human Destiny (1973), p. 3). Progoff, an American psychotherapist who trained with Jung, is best known for the ongoing Intensive Journal Method, and Grove attended two of his journal workshops at key turning points, the first when his Age Point had just crossed the Low Point in house 4, and the second as it emerged from the Low Point in house 9 at the time of his mother’s death. These intensive workshops assisted the processing of complex material from the depths in preparation for a new phase of life experience, and the journal provides the thread connecting dreams and symbols, showing a way through the maze of the unconscious, while the Age Point records their sequential order on the Life-Clock.
Jung’s posthumous Memories, Dreams, Reflections(1961) provided the Hubers with autobiographical data with which to illustrate the ebb and flow of the life cycle. Memories and The Red Book (2009) recount Jung’s visions of ‘rivers of blood’, symptomatic not only of personal crisis but also of impending war, and his example inspired Grove, many of whose dreams have ramifications in the social and global context stretching well beyond the critical personal moment, and their precognitive nature becomes clearer with later reinterpretation.
One of the most fascinating parts of Grove’s life story, and one of the most successful in terms of integrating narrative, dream imagery, and astrological significators concerns his relationship with his mother. Saturn in Virgo, situated at the top of his chart, personifies an anxious maternal presence hovering over him, but only attached to other planets in his chart via a trine to the North Node. So, in 1973, when his Age Point conjuncted the North Node at the beginning of house 5, he dreamed that, like the Fool of the Tarot, he was standing at the edge of a cliff but that, instead of a knapsack on his back, he had his mother. So he put her down and jumped across the precipice alone, setting out on his hero’s journey (p. 73).
In his explorations of the anima – the feminine within man – and the archetype of the Great Mother, Grove emphasizes the roles of Saturn, Moon, and Venus and presents a convincing case that makes interesting reading and merits further research.
His description of the problems faced by the woman who ‘becomes her “father’s daughter”, creating a bondage to her animus with the idealized paternal preferences taking priority over her own ego needs’, hence ‘a victim of her own unconscious effect on men’ is also lucid and perceptive (p. 75). In the example he gives, the animus distortion is exacerbated by the woman’s unaspected Sun, detaching the complex generated by an abusive father figure from the rest of the aspect structure. Thankfully, its self-destructive pattern was eventually turned around through deep therapy and the story has a positive ending.
Less satisfactory is Grove’s attempt to relate such issues specifically to harsh aspects between the masculine planets Sun and Pluto/Mars. Although the position of the Sun and its aspects describe the father, the conditions in which a woman finds herself cast as an anima projection of men in general, struggling to be taken seriously and become her authentic self, usually involve distortions to the softer planets of relationship like Moon and Venus, thrown off balance by the detachment of Uranus, glamour of Neptune, and intensity of Pluto. At the level of personal contact, various issues are addressed by Louise Huber’s meditational journeys of the Moon as emotional ego, initially responding in the instinctual manner of its exoteric sign ruler, meeting obstacles generated by the opposite sign and its ruler and learning difficult lessons, before returning to its natal sign attuned to its esoteric ruler and centred in the soul (The Planets, pp. 239-284). In addition, the difficulties experienced by a warm and harmony-loving Venus combined with the powerful intensity of Pluto cannot be ignored, and research being done by a member of the Astrological Lodge of London on rape victims, who have unwittingly attracted such abuse, comes up with Venus/Pluto combinations time and again.
There are some brilliant cameos in this study and a key to planetary and sign glyphs would make it more accessible to the psychotherapist who is not an astrologer. For the astrologer unfamiliar with dream-work, Grove introduces instructions on processing and categorizing dreams that offer useful procedures for working with material from the unconscious.
Attempts to streamline astrological content by linking Jungian insights with teachings of the astrologer Maureen Demot (1941-2001) and the Huber approach are not entirely successful. For example, at the bottom of p. 43, Grove seems to translate a diagram that appears on p. 197 of Anthony Stevens’ On Jung (1990) to describe the attitudes and functions of an extraverted thinking-intuitive into an assertion that the North and East hemispheres represent extraversion in an astrological chart whereas South and West hemispheres are associated with introversion. Jung’s mandalas shift, and astrological charts do not align with a compass pointing towards the North Pole. They almost invariably face South, looking upwards to the noonday sun at the Medium Coeli (MC), and the individuality axis in a Huber chart ascends from the Imum Coeli (IC), midnight, or Northern angle deep in the unconscious house 4 to house 10 on the most exposed, outward-facing Southern angle at the top. The Jungian polarities between intuition/fire and sensation/earth or thinking/air and feeling/water enhance our understanding of the elemental temperaments but do not form oppositions in the astrological chart; they form semi-sextiles, squares, and quincunxes, and an overload of planets in one element countered by an absence of planets in another can help us differentiate between conscious personality and unconscious archetype. In Grove’s chart, the steamrolling earth/fire dynamic challenging stereotypical values and keen to share his perspectives is represented by a quincunx from Sun in Capricorn in house 2 to Pluto in Leo in house 8, giving defining character to the 4-sided Ambivalence Figure that dominates his aspect structure. Regarding the other positive/negative polarity, Grove has 4 planets in air, and the frequency of water imagery in his dreams compensates for his lack of planets in water.
Jung’s theory of synchronicity as ‘an acausal connecting principle’ evolved over many years, to cover not only meaningful coincidences in time but also the alchemical and unifying unus mundus outside time. Although Maggie Hyde, in Jung and Astrology (1992), explored synchronicity in some detail, relating it to traditional and psychological astrology, she was dismissive of esoteric astrology and ignored the Huber method which, unlike the psychological astrology of Liz Greene, is not ‘hopelessly mixed… with fairy tales, myths, dreams and other oddities’ (The Astrology of Fate, p. 14, quoted by Hyde on p. 92). Hyde nevertheless recognized that synchronicity opens the way to new consciousness, as does Grove insofar as it ‘attunes us to meaningful psychic correspondences and goes beyond what is accepted in prevailing empirically based psychotherapy’ (p. 10).
With consummate care, the Hubers blended their astrological method with Assagioli’s psychosynthesis, avoiding Jung’s mythological amplification while keeping a spiritual perspective in mind, and, by developing three charts as recommended by Alice Bailey for the New Age, they established connections between Age Progression in the Natal Chart, in accordance with the ticking clock of life on earth, and Age Progression in the Moon Node Chart, which is set in indeterminate time and may equally well be representative of a shadowy landscape illuminating recently repressed material or of a treasure trove of ‘karmic inner resources, a gift from a former life’ (Grove, p. 70). The Natal and Nodal Age Points, which connect both the timed and the timeless principles in synchronicity, converge every 36 years at the Crossing Point. Sometimes the impact of the Crossing Point is evident in external events, but at others it represents an interior change. When writing about his Crossing Point on 11 December 1997, Grove discovers that his vocation ‘lies in expressing the connections between the living and the dead through dream messages’ and ‘sharing this kind of knowledge’, and he is at his best when relating and illustrating this ongoing process as new patterns of reality formulate in consciousness.
A further dimension is referred to by Kieron Le Grice, who states that ‘synchronicity is not only a dialogue between the conscious self and the unconscious psyche, as one might conclude when considering the purpose of dreams, for example, but a dialogue between the self and the world, between our rational mind and the mind of nature, as it were. Indeed, synchronicities can actually be construed as the symbolic revelation of deeper spiritual meaning within nature, a form of revelation impelling the individual along the path of individuation, furthering the realization of the Self’ (The Archetypal Cosmos , p. 127). Here we move into the realm of the House Chart to consider what the world might require of us.
Dreams and Astrological Psychology is a significant book that raises a lot of issues and demonstrates how dreams, imagination, and astrological psychology might unite in developing a level of consciousness more attuned to our evolving world. We are now into the second wave of interest in transpersonal astrology, and astrological psychology has all the essential ingredients for raising consciousness and working with new dimensions. I hope Grove will continue with this work and that other astrological psychologists will be motivated to contribute articles if not books to demonstrate the soundness and wisdom of our method and the important role it can play in evolving consciousness.
Sue Lewis, Conjunction 62, 2014