“Shamanic Astrology” Chapter Excerpt
This is an excerpt from Benjamin Bernstein’s chapter, titled “Shamanic Astrology,” from the new book Transpersonal Astrology: Explorations at the Frontier.
Shamanic astrology starts by acknowledging that each planet is an intelligent being. Not only do the planets have consciousness, they are also responsive to invocation. So the most distinctive feature of shamanic astrology is that it involves direct communication with a planetary consciousness. This is done in order to improve its functioning in the client’s life.
I know of several others who say that they practice “shamanic astrology,” and each one does something quite different. So when I speak of shamanic astrology, I am referring only to the particular way that I practice it.
This chapter will open with a brief overview of shamanism, followed by an overview of the shamanic astrology process. I will then look at the origins and development of shamanic astrology and the process of planetary energy integration.
Next I’ll provide an example of a shamanic astrology consultation, followed by two shamanic astrology clients describing their sessions and their downstream effects. I finish with a 10-step summary, to give you an easy reference for doing your own shamanic astrology sessions.
Finally, a semantic note. I find it awkward to use phrases such as “he or she,” “him or her” and “his or her” when referring to a person of unspecified gender. I have chosen to use gender-neutral plural pronouns such as “they” and “their” instead. While such usage may be grammatically incorrect, my hope is that it will give you a smoother reading experience.
Shamanism, which could be thought of as mankind’s original global religion, is common to indigenous cultures worldwide. The word “shaman” commonly refers to any practitioner who moves into altered states of consciousness to interact with the spirit world.
A shaman embarks on these visionary journeys to heal individual or societal imbalances at the causative spiritual level. Once this is accomplished, health and harmony are re-established physically, emotionally and mentally. Because shamanism accesses the unlimited power of the divine realms, it can often accomplish cures and healings that modern Western medicine would consider impossible.
Shamanism holds an animistic worldview. From this perspective, everything is alive and conscious: not just humans, animals and plants, but rivers, mountains, trees and stones. Even the Earth herself f has a vast global consciousness, which includes everything on the planet.
A shaman sees physical forms as the tip of the iceberg. In the non-physical dimensions, even tiny rocks and crystals can be perceived as huge beings who embody vast wisdom. These allies, as well as psychoactive master plants such as ayahuasca, San Pedro, and peyote, possess a power and intelligence unimaginably greater than our human brains’ limited abilities. All of these allies can assist the shaman, who invokes them in his healing work.
Many humans have not yet awakened to the fact that we live in an ensouled, intelligent, and unconditionally loving universe. Fortunately, more and more of us are now experiencing this reality. I have had powerful experiences of this indescribable consciousness during shamanic ceremonies, and so speak from direct experience.
While I awakened to this broader reality with the help of ayahuasca and San Pedro, many people routinely experience these extraordinary states without the use of such entheogenic (God-revealing) plants. These other modalities include dancing, drumming, dream work, vision quests, fasting, meditation and more.
The Essential Role of Western Astrology
Although direct connection with a planetary consciousness is at the heart of shamanic astrology, traditional Western astrological analysis is still an indispensable component. When I do in-depth shamanic astrology with a client, most of the session still looks like a standard astrological consultation. We examine the core meaning of a planet, as well as how it relates to the chart. This can include the planet’s sign, house, aspects and house rulership(s).
As we do so, I dialogue with the client. I describe low- and high-side manifestations that they are likely to have experienced, based on how that planet integrates into their chart.
For optimum results, it is important that the client openly shares details about how this planet has been operating in their life. Most critically, they must specify how the planet is currently challenging them, and describe the high-side behavior they would prefer it to manifest instead. This provides the information needed to construct an invocation, which will help harmonize the planet’s behavior.
Origin and Development of Shamanic Astrology
I had to feel my way into practicing shamanic astrology, since I learned it on my own. This modality arose spontaneously as the shamanic plant spirit ceremonies I was attending opened my consciousness to other dimensions.
When I first started practicing shamanic astrology, each consultation could last two hours or more. We would invoke every planet in the chart, starting with the Sun and working our way out through Pluto. After invoking the energy of that many planets, both the client and I would end up in a profoundly altered state. If the client came in person, I had to make sure they were grounded enough to drive!
With experience, I discovered that it is not always necessary, or even desirable, to invoke every planet in the chart. For a competent astrologer, it is usually a straightforward process to translate a client’s specific issues into their chart’s archetypal forces. Then it is only necessary to invoke the relevant planets and/or points.
One thing I was pleasantly surprised to discover is that one can invoke virtual points as well as physical planets. These can include the Ascendant, IC, Descendant, Midheaven, and the Lunar Nodes. As with the planets, each of these points has a distinctive energetic feel that becomes familiar over time.
One change I incorporated as I developed shamanic astrology was how actively I involved the client in the invocations. Initially, I did them on my own, while the client simply listened and received the planetary energies. While this worked, I observed that invocations are even more effective when the client actively participates. So now I say a few words of the invocation at a time, then have the client repeat them. An invocation can be very detailed, and can take several minutes to verbalize.
How to Read the Rest
This ends the chapter excerpt. To read the rest, as well as 15 additional cutting-edge essays by other authors, buy Transpersonal Astrology: Explorations at the Frontier now! Or you can learn more about the book.