By Daniel Giamario
After many years now of co-hosting our Shamanic Astrology monthly membership calls with Cayelin about current astrological and astronomical events, we have noticed a certain pattern of feedback. Usually it’s in the camp of one or both of these two questions:
“What does it mean?”
“What is the appropriate practical application of this information?”
These are important questions because in order to answer them, we need to go straight to the heart and deepest essence of Shamanic Astrology. I would like to take this opportunity to explore the territory that is opened in asking and attempting to answer these questions.
Meaning Versus Intent
It would be safe to say that one of the most common questions asked of astrologers is, “But what does it mean?” With 45 years as a counseling astrologer, I can pretty easily hold forth regarding the possible meanings of astrology for an individual’s chart or a night sky alignment. And I believe that, at times, experience and insight can be valuable in pointing to the possible ways that the material might unveil itself.
Personally, however, I am averse to being the ‘answer man’ because it strengthens our human tendency to give away our power. I have found that there are two major negative and potentially dangerous projections that a person can direct at an astrologer:
- The wizard archetype, wherein people assume that the astrologer has the answers because of a special or otherwise secret knowledge that only he or she holds
- The archetype of the astrologer as mother or father. In this case, an all-loving, caring and giving person who will take care of me
Astrologers really need to be on guard around allowing either of these projections, as we can easily fall into the role of co-conspirators in these dynamics.
In truth, however, the essential emphasis of Shamanic Astrology lies elsewhere. Meaning is not absolute in that it changes over time and is far more history and culture-bound than we generally realize. Shamanic Astrology therefore works more with an investigation of potential intent, rather than the more concrete realm of meaning.
Through the lens of Shamanic Astrology we know that symbols, archetypes, and mythologies are evolving. Major shifts happen when the Equinoxes and Solstices move into different constellations. We each hold, at our core, a cosmology or mythos that helps to inform our lives. Studying the archetypal patterns in Shamanic Astrology, as well as developing a personal relationship with the visible night sky and the movements of the heavenly bodies through the backdrop of the constellations and foreground of one’s personal chart, gives an individual powerful tools to facilitate the evolution of their own personal myth.
The skilled Shamanic Astrologer therefore seeks to shed light on the emerging intent of the chart and/or the transits or cycles, examining this individually and collectively.
How to do this? The best way is to directly experience for oneself the personal and collective impact of the seasons, cycles, and patterns of the stars and planets.
Each month during the membership call, Cayelin and I offer 15-20 different possibilities of when and how one might work ceremonially with the sky. We never expect newcomers, or even more experienced Shamanic Astrology members, to tune in to every one of these calls. And certainly there is no expectation upon any of us to know the precise meaning of these alignments.
The majority of the unique insights and specific ways of working with the chart and the sky that have emerged within the Shamanic Astrology paradigm came about as a result of many, many direct experiences on the land and with the sky.
Shamanic Astrology is a living, breathing, experiential paradigm that invites participation as often as possible in the potent timings that occur each and every month. As Shamanic Astrologers, this is our daily practice. In our monthly calls, we are offering to you the information you need to assist you in doing the same.
What Does Ceremony Have To Do With Astrology
In order to look at the intended result of an experiential and ceremonial approach to astrology it is helpful to offer several parallel examples from other traditions.
- In the mystical traditions of Christianity (as well as Sufism), it is suggested that the devotee pray ceaselessly. An individual would start with a regular prayer habit, that would then evolve into a path wherein the life becomes an ongoing, living prayer.
- In a variety of meditational practices, an individual can start with a regular meditation practice, e.g. once or twice a day, which could then evolve into a practice of being in a state of meditation all the time. At that point, there is no separation between a morning or evening practice and the rest of one’s life. Meditation has become an uninterrupted and perpetual state.
- My mentor, Dane Rudhyar, writes about living a symbolic life. You start somewhere, learning this or that system of symbols, and continue from there until the entirety of your life is experienced symbolically.
In the Shamanic Astrology Mystery School (SAMS), we have facilitated many experiential journeys and trainings at known sacred sites. I like to call these hierophanies, a word that has Greek roots “ἱερός” (hieros), meaning “sacred” or “holy,” and “φαίνειν” (phainein) meaning “to reveal” or “to bring to light.” Whether these sites are entirely natural (as in a sacred landscape or a great mountain), or of human construction (such as standing stone circles or kivas), a person with ceremonial intent can have a first-hand taste of the majesty of As Above, So Below.
At these potent times our consciousness and physical presence align at a point of center, where the great mystery of all that is – is symbolically represented. These are powerful experiences, as has been evidenced by peoples across history and around the globe. Sacred places can lift us out of time, out of ourselves, and out of our everyday frame of reference. It is also important to note here – and I am not the first to observe this – that any place on earth can be perceived and experienced as a hierophany or sacred site.
Let go into the mystery
Let yourself go
There is no other place to be
…You’ve got to dance and sing
And be alive in the mystery
And be joyous and give thanks
And let yourself go. ~Van Morrison
Shamanic Astrology as a Spiritual Path
The intention, then, is to develop such a depth of intimate connection with the seasons and cycles of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars that eventually we experience that connection all the time. In our ordinary lives, ceremonially engaging with the astrological timings and cycles is as practical a path to awakening as prayer or meditation. In this sense, having a ceremonial relationship with the seasons and cycles and stars and planets is the spiritual practice of Shamanic Astrology.
As lofty as all this might sound, every journey begins with a single step! Our monthly calls are designed to offer as many clues as possible to help you get started on your own personal journey of As Above, So Below.
For those of you who are already engaged in this regular practice, the monthly calls are a fertile ground for new suggestions and ideas to take you more deeply into the emerging edge of this auspicious time on the planet as we experience the beginning and the end of a 26,000 year cycle . This is a time unlike any other time in our known history. Within these practices, therefore, it makes sense to worry less about meanings and instead, as did the astrologers of old, be open to being informed directly by Great Mystery.
This is Not a ‘One Size Fits All’ Mystery School
For those of you with less interest in the night sky or the ceremonial aspect of Shamanic Astrology, there are of course other options. Many classes offered by SAMS do not feature the night sky or ceremonial aspects of the paradigm. Our Managing Director, Erik Roth, conducts regular calls with members who prefer more basic material, including chart interpretation.
Nevertheless, as a genuine Mystery School, the uniqueness of Shamanic Astrology stems from the union of astrology and astronomy from a ceremonial perspective. We will always offer full certification training in Shamanic Astrology that includes the night sky cosmology as well as our unique version of chart analysis and processes of initiation. At this time, I am not aware of any other school of astrology that offers these comprehensive teachings.
A final note about the use of the word “ceremony”. I love to contrast the word ceremony with the word ritual. Ritual is doing the same thing over and over again in the same way, such as in a Catholic Mass. Whereas ceremony is always fresh, inspired by that precise moment in time and the uniqueness of the events transpiring just then. It’s more akin to divination. In Shamanic Astrology, what we do is ceremony, not ritual.
There is a woman who weaves the night sky
See how she spins, see her fingers fly,
She is within us, beginning to end,
Our grandmother, our sister, our friend.
She is the needle, and we are the thread
She is the weaver, and we are the web.
We are the flow, and we are the ebb
We are the weavers, and we are the web.
She changes everything she touches
and everything she touches changes.
*A traditional medicine song, also known as the Spider Woman Song. I call it the Virgo song because it beautifully embodies the Virgo dedication to the sacred work. We often use this song in our SAMS trainings.
Edited by Barbara Taylor
grateful for these definitions, clarifications.