Astrology and the Games People Play: A tool for Self Understanding in Work and Relationships

Chapter Three: Overlapping Spheres and Toxic Turf

See the Juggler's electrifying skills,
tossing the spheres, one--two--three,
now catching them behind his back
now bouncing them on his head--
Wait! One is stuck to his nose!
It stays fast, he can't get it off!
Since birth he's struggled with this.
It spurs his skill and ingenuity.

''Too close for comfort'' is one way of expressing every- one's need for necessary space, both psychological and physical.
As the old saying goes, ''don't fence me in." We all need territory--our own room, apartment, locker, desk, parking space which reflect our need for an environment that is vital for self expression. These are areas where we can express our individuality, where we can push for elbow room. In understanding the psychological dimension, space takes on an added meaning, for we need space to grow. ''Don't crowd me," is the way we express this deep need for room to discover ourselves.

If, for example, your parents ''crowded '' you, there is a good chance you didn't feel as free to be yourself. You had to develop methods of dealing with your parents, and you had to use a lot of your psyche's energy dealing with how they made you feel about yourself. Too much closeness can be toxic, causing you great pain.
Transactional Astrology puts special emphasis on noting this need for individual space. Some situations reflected in planetary positions are breeding grounds for negative energy and bring up unique problems for growth.

In looking at the Ego Spheres, it is important to note how much space the planets symbolizing these Spheres have between each other. If any combination of the Sun, Moon or Saturn are in conjunction (within seven degrees), then the planets are so close together that a Transactional Astrologer would call them contaminated Ego Spheres. This is a toxic condition that affects the clarity of boundaries between different states of consciousness and distorts a person's ability to individuate.

There are six basic types of contaminated Ego Spheres, each with their own characteristics. While they occur infrequently, their extremely strong effects on the dynamics of the personality cannot be underestimated. The general rule to remember is that the slower moving planet dominates. Saturn dominates Sun and Moon and Sun dominates Moon.

Figure 13 shows how Saturn Sun conjunction is graphically depicted in the language of ego spheres. The Adult (Sun) is dominated by the Parent (Saturn). These individuals are always trying to live up to a very strict hidden agenda in their minds, one set down by the demands of a Parent who has seriously affected the Adult's ability to grow in independence and originality. The concept of Parent and Adult are blurred, there are no boundaries.

The Parent's mind set misdirects the Adult away from maturity and rational thinking. Instead the Parent advances its own plans, confusing the Adult's world with its restrictive themes and agendas based on bias, opinions and prejudice with no regard to rational discussion or behavior. Here is the Adult who is always too hard on themselves and others. They find it difficult to have any fun, because their Parent Ego Sphere is editing the and the Adult fun must follow rules laid down by the Saturn. The result is an uptight person who when not busy putting him/her self down is equally busy pointing out the flaws of others. They will rain your parade as easily as they rain on their own.

It takes a lot of hard effort to work through this kind of a toxic Parent experience. People can become crippled by guilt.
They feel they should work harder, get more done. They feel unworthy unless they are doing the work and worrying for two.

If there is a hard Neptune aspect to this conjunction the individual can sometimes fall into compulsive attempts at ''self medication'' through mind altering drugs like alcohol, nicotine, barbiturates. Or they might be compulsively clean, not drinking or smoking, but abstaining in such a flagrant way as to be a martyr and their ''purity'' always distracts from any kind of a good time.
They make their good habits a real pain in the neck to others.
This holier than thou attitude gives them a perverse pleasure. But are they happy? No. Only momentarily less guilty.

The first thing that these individuals need to discover is that there is a different between being an Adult and acting out the parenting demands that were made upon them in their formative childhood years. Starting with those early years and working forward they need to unwind the restrictive mental cord their parents tied them up with. The goal is to start acting out patterns which allow play and delight, emotions which the Parent repressed and subverted.

Love for this individual is often seen as something earned. Affection is a reward, if it is experienced at all. Al1 this needs to be unlearned and then restructured by creating a better self image. While this is not an easy task, the best exercise is to write a biography and retell the story of your life. Pay particular attention to ways that rules were introduced and why. Be open to new ways for reframing the self concept. Begin a dialogue with your dreams with a dream log. Start a diary. This process will bring change through insight. Also there is something about the process of self searching on paper that leads to discovery.

Figure 14 is the Transactional Astrology chart for a client of mine whose name has been changed to protect her anonymity. We will call her Kari. Kari came from very strong German parents who barely escaped from the pogroms and death camps. Kari was very strictly raised. Love was doled out on a merit basis. She had an older brother who did everything right, who won great grades and became a successful lawyer. Kari's own opinion of herself was very poor. She was brilliant, a good student, a hard worker, an honest person. But she didn't know how to relate to people. She came across as a person who was very conservative, a rule watchers a good time spoiler--the person who knows how late the hour is and is the first to say it's best to get on home.

In her late thirties, she hasn't married. She works in a technical profession in the television industry, but wants to get married and have a child. Two men have proposed to her, yet she has refused them as too boring. Kari prefers to date wild men who will never marry who are abusive to themselves and to herself. A psychologist might consider this "projection," finding someone who is acting out that wild part of her personality that she can't express. Kari's relationships always start out with what I call the ''fixer-upper theme". The men are talented men, down on their luck, they just need some parenting, someone to keep them from the booze, pot, card tables, whatever. Kari nurses them back to health then they leave her, often with a terrible confrontation.

Kari loves the nursing and she loves the fight. The nursing proves she can be loving. The fight proves that her values are right, even though she loses the man. I tried to suggest that she was trying to be a mother surrogate and that the separation was
what happens when boys decide to leave mother. Kari is a good worker, she had taken to going to a lot of what I call ''hug'' workshops, New Age relationship work. Slowly she is starting to loosen up, to get a better insight to her overly structured personality. She is learning to allow herself to be herself. She is lucky.

For our toxic pattern work here it is important to note that in Kari's Parent conjunct Adult, the Ego Spheres share the same aspects with the same planets, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and Pluto. The Parent's influence is working with the same planets as the Adult, making it double difficult for the Adult to gain the necessary distance, psychologically, to exercise its own individuality. Everything blurs as the Adult's options are dominated by Parent's blurred boundaries. How can one grow up when what it is to be an adult is distorted? Saturn conjunct Moon (Figure 15) symbolizes the Parent energy contaminating that of the Child. With this configuration the Parent refuses to understand the Child's emotional needs and imposes upon the Child the Parent's emotional expectations.
Sometimes individuals with this problem act like little adults when children, they become rule mongers who want everyone to have to obey. They tell on people in school for rule infractions. There is a bit of the bully in this profile. The Child/parent can't stand seeing other children having fun, so an attack is launched, either by outright physical dominance, or with psychological dominance.

As adults these individuals can still be perceived as an angry child who didn't get enough play tine to discover who he/she was and what delighted them. Delight has no place in the Parent dominated Child. Work is the main theme. The other is rebellion. The Child may be come a split personality. One half is a perfect little angel, the other a vicious devil. The devil is the Child's angry statement about having a punishing parent. These children are so mad that any authority becomes fair game for secret if not open assault.

Figure 16 is the chart of a man we will call Frank. Frank has the Parent/child or Saturn Moon conjunction. Frank was quite unstable. He was brilliant as a production manager, but the rest of his life was chaos. He would get into wild crazy activities which can only be described as a child in rebellion. The Parent could not keep his Child repressed. At times the Child would come out in crazy ways. He would have orgies at his home. Then the Parent would assert its power and he would suddenly join a very expensive health gym, go on a special diet, buckle down and get a lot of work done. But this good behavior wouldn't last for long. After awhile his Child would want puerile sex and Frank would go to Vegas and buy hookers. He loved it when one of his girl friends would dress up like a dominatrix to excite him. What is this image of the whip and leather dominatrix but that of a dominating parent?

Frank loved power struggles. He thought he was good at winning. His drive was child-like. During the Olympics in L.A. he got competitive about Olympic pins, gaining a massive collection. He loved to make bets, to ogle women passing by, to bate the unions, to ''out Cadillac'' his competition. Frank was often with people but he complained of feeling all alone. Perhaps he hoped that competition would give him a break through and one of his wins would deliver him unto himself.

Frank had married three times when he came to see me. He was not afraid of the altar. He loved the struggle to see who was really on top. Actually, he was really a large Bronx playground bully. In his session with me he tried to draw me into some competitive games. Just how good an astrologer was I? Who had I really helped? Did I think I was psychic or what? After an initial consultation, I referred Frank to a hypnotherapist where he was able to reduce his regressive struggle between inner Parent and inner Child. He is now married for the fourth time and at this writing the marriage is working.

The Adult/child contamination is represented by the Sun/Moon conjunction (Figure 17). This configuration is developmentally confusing, for the Adult imposes its energies into that of the Child, often robbing something from the childhood. In theory the Adult dominance of the Child is not as negative as that of the Parent/child (Saturn conjunct Moon). However making such a distinction is a close call. The Child is expected to perform to standards not his own. There is the quality of the nerd to some of this, of the boring. The Adult/child contamination may act like the little professor. They will seek to appear uninvolved, concerned only about facts, happy to offer critical or objective opinions sometimes in an abrasive way.

Dating for this archetype is difficult. They want everything to go by a script. They will find spontaneous conversations, open expressions of feelings, intuitive activities (governed by the Moon) hard to get into. At work these individuals are often the super employee, the yuppie who takes off like a rocket. Yet there are problems with authority, problems with not being able to fraternize with peers and fellow employees.

Figure 18 is the Astro-analysis chart of a woman we'll call Diana, the daughter of a prominent Los Angeles, psychologist.
Diana had been super straight super achiever in high school and college. She'd gone to camp every summer as a child and performed well. She was independent. She had a problem. She knew very little about love. She knew how to get ''positive reinforcement'. by following her father's prodding (Saturn square Sun and Moon). She was always quite responsible but never seemed to have fun, rather she had ''satisfactory feedback."

The reality of her plight came to a crisis when her father divorced her mother to marry a patient who had been in therapy with him for twelve years. This fall from grace of the father also caused a suspicion of the rules he had taught her about fun and a fulfilling life. Also she took ''losing my father to other women'' hard with great anger (Mars conjunct Sun and Moon). Her father broke his own rules by marrying a client. In her anger she wondered if her father was having sex with this woman in his consultation room.

Actually Diana's rebellion produced a real psychological rebirth. The boring Diana faded out and a more real one took her place. While it was a struggle, her skills were such that she could cope. She saw me from time to time to work on her inner child notebooks. In these consultations I was able to witness her growth and share the thrill that she was experiencing as she worked through her new awakening. One of the great things about TriAstral analysis is seeing people grow, seeing them overcome the challenges of circumstance and be strong enough to chose their destiny their own path.

It was a dance class and experiencing the freedom of motion that lead Diana to herself. Through dance she got in touch with her inner child. Also she utilized the Mars and Uranian energy active in both spheres. As a physically mature person she had the insight to want to defend her Child and by working with her whole body in motion she was able to start a process, a play-like process which brought her to a happier, more spontaneous life.

The most restrictive and toxic configuration is when all three Ego Spheres are clustered together in a conjunction or stellium, see Figure 19 A, B and C. Here the Parent has contaminated the Adult and Child. The self is a blur and there are no boundaries, Saturn rules the three ego spheres like a dictator. There is a sense of a controlling air about this individual.. It is like the Parent Ego Sphere is the thought police and has a stake out monitoring the Adult and the Child.

The pervasive influence of the Parent restricts the emotional polarities and openness of the responses. For example, the swing of this type's personality can vary. On one hand there can be a strong drive to be efficient, to keep up high discipline, to perform with control and always keep the goals in mind. The place of play is reduced, the emphasis on achievement is high.

Still, there is also the flip side which can manifest in the potential capacity for near fanatical obedience and loyalty to a person or a cause. This person can join extreme clubs, societies, or merely get overly zealous to please the boss. There is often a sadistic streak working here. The Parent Ego Sphere considers that nearly everyone has been raised soft, therefore everyone should have to work hard. Look out if this psychological type is your foreman or manager, for the driving whip is truly in the hands of a person who will use it. This driving anger is fueled by an on going sense of desperation, a fear of not measuring up, of being jealous of other people who have made it because they had it easy or got the breaks.

Curiously there can often be a blind loyalty to abusing parents, parents who are falsely seen as saints but who are in reality not at all like the projected image the child is carrying. The Child deludes himself that his or her parents were great, that their upbringing was great, that their parents were self sacrificing. Upon investigation a classic case of denial will often be seen at work here. The wish projection is that the parents were great, the denial blocks off the real facts. Excuses are made. Dad was a great dad, he was hard, tough, didn't raise any sissies and he would have gone farther if he had gotten the breaks. In truth Dad was a fearsome drunk who bitched about work all the time and had low self esteem which his child picks up on.

Usually the Adult Ego Sphere enables a person to maintain an independent sense of reality, of emotional balance. But in this pattern the Adult is also overwhelmed by the Parent' prejudices, disinclinations and reality tests. When fun is rejected, a perverse idea that work is fun develops. A stern puritanical ethic is okay in certain circumstances. Work becomes a way to badger other people. Fun is making other people get to work. Obviously this has limitations, who has this Parent ever made happy?

Figure 20 is that of Lilly. Lilly's father was a wild canter in the oil fields of Texas. He was a hard drinker and lived a life of hard work and hard drinking. He was abusive and Lilly married at eighteen to get away from her father. While her husband proved to be no better than her Dad, at least she could divorce him, which she did . Lilly moved to California and got involved in the great expansion. She was tough, a hard worker and became a real estate agent, married another agent and they built a rich life with two kids and a great house.

Still Lilly's psyche had a homing device that enabled her to find a man like Daddy, a man who would mistreat her. Her second husband proved he could not handle affluence by drinking and running around. He claimed Lilly had nagged him to death, that she wanted his ''balls.'' Divorce number two came along and Lilly hit the bottle. She worked herself ragged. Things hit bottom when she got arrested for drunk driving. She had to spend some time in jail and then joined AA . After all this she decided to consult with an astrologer.

Lilly needed to overcome drinking and a negative self image brought on by parental abuse. She was able to work with a journal for eighteen months, keeping an emotional diary that enabled her to see the pattern of her thoughts--for herself. Sober and more aware of her self destructive urges Lilly is back at work and thinking about buying a restaurant.

It is important when one sees any of the contaminating formulas given in this chapter to take an especially close look at that particular chart and ego sphere formation. Toxic patterns such as these are powerful and can have a very pervasive effect. Consider it like a dye in water. Once a dye is there is affects everything in someway, it is like putting salt in coffee, even a little is too much.
This is not to suggest that all individuals with these configurations are doomed, like some tragic position in a chess problem where checkmate is forced. Rather they are situations which have definite probabilities for being tricky. And by definition if something is known to be difficult or complex, people will have greater problems handling it. Coping skills must be learned.

The key here is to know when the astrologer should be frank about a toxic situation and when to be subtle. Knowing how to shape the communication of advice is as important as the advice. The metaphorical approach is one that gives an image which in relatively clear.

A dramatic way to show a person how toxic contamination works is to take a glass of water and gradually add salt, starting with a little and adding only a little more, until the water is too salty. Don't explain why, exactly you are doing this. The dramatic effect is such that the impact will be anchored deeply. And the final result is: What if that were the only water available for you to drink? Salty water does not quench a thirty, it creates a compulsive need for more water, but the water is contaminated.

When the water is acknowledged to be too salty, ask how they would get the water to be drinkable again. Some will offer the idea of adding something to offset the salt. But the clear or scientific headed individuals will realize that the only way to get clear water is to boil and condense the steam.

Once this basic metaphor is grasped, tell the person to imagine that their Parent Ego Sphere is the like the salt, contaminating their psyche. And their task is to reclaim their Adult and Child from this toxic spill. If they are to experience self growth, at least in terms of Transactional Astrology Analysis, they must distill their true nature. To do this they must find a way to pull their own personality out of the Parental toxins that have contaminated it. This means personal work.

The first work to be done here is mindfulness, to be mindful of your consciousness and what you are doing. You must be aware of your actions, you must take the time to be an observing ego and watch yourself, just watch yourself, and not being judgmental.

The second is to realistically keep a journal of thoughts and actions. Seeing thoughts written down can in and of itself be therapeutic. Secondly rereading a diary gives one a chance to see patterns more objectively, to see where to set goals for change.

The third thing is to understand that healing is a process of integrating old feelings with new positive affirmations about the future. Become very aware of your bad habits. Give them names, personalize them. Now they can disappear like some of the bad friends you've already managed to exclude from your life.

The fourth is to make personal audio or video tapes, on your own: about your life and what you see yourself doing and what you want to do. If it is an audio tape, listen to it in the car. Keep revising the tape, updating it, saving a few of them for review at a later time. This process of working with the recorded voice produces dramatic change.

One of my clients beat a bad eating habit his mother had encouraged. He made a tape upon which he called his eating personality Mr. Clean Plate. He called his Mother Mrs. Seconds. Clean Plate personified his mother who was always putting more and more food on the plate. What a sense of maternal nature gone out of control! The feeder, the nurturer, the pusher all rolled into one toxic parent.

Mr. Clean Plate died a real and metaphorical death. My client learned to push food away and refuse to eat more. He became mindful of his real appetite. This victory over food enabled my client to take a new attitude about himself. He was a winner.

Anyone can be a winner. That is my heartfelt philosophy. Work with an open heart and a will to be the best you can be and there will always be results. There will always be change. Not as fast as sometimes desired, but if the will is strong the changes will accrue. Motivation is very important as well as a clear metaphor of the problem. With this basis in solid insight, the results will be rewarding. Always be aware of your mistakes and keep learning how to improve. You will discover that your positive personal habits will build a healing process for the psyche to grow and mend.





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