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Prayer for Images
letting reality sing, plus I'm raising my prices!
In my recent interview with Kira Ryberg about purpose and profession, Kira reminded me of psychologist James Hillman’s theory of the image.According to him, we are born with an innate seed of ourselves that cannot be blamed on our family or material circumstances. He sees this seed, or acorn as he calls it, as an image. He tells us “the innate image of your fate holds all in the copresence of today, yesterday, and tomorrow. ” We do not grow into it so much as reveal it presence within us, always whole and complete, through the journey of our lives.
This completeness is the very nature of an image; the whole thing is revealed at once. Words and thought, on the other hand cut things up and distinguish. Understanding our image “holds the pieces” of our fragmentary mind and experiences “together in a pattern of meaning” (76)
Trusting the images is also where it gets juicy. In his book series on the four elements and their role in the imagination, Gaston Bachelard tells us “ [a] literature that would place images before ideas would give us time to live such wonderful metamorphoses. This is where the real magic lies!”.
Images are magic. They hold unfathomable depths. It’s why we etch pictures onto our talismans. It’s why looking up at the sky can often yield more insight than merely thinking about it.
Finding Your Images
Only we can really say what our mind palace looks like, as well as what picture hangs in the central chamber of the main hall.
Astrology can, however, give us some hints and tricks for understanding our own.
Fixed stars are a part of astrology that are necessarily shaped by the myths and images we have imposed upon them over the millennia. As my friend Ash has put it, the stars are pure story, unbound by the mechanistic clock-like movements of the wandering planets. It also means, whereas myth is often shoehorned into our understanding of the planets, they are intimately involved with the stars.
Contemplating the images depicted by the constellations is a key way to understanding your own image. If your heliacal rising star is Spica, then wheat, the universal Goddess, sacred temples, etc may be part of your central image. If it’s Menkar, then sea monsters, vast oceans, and sacrificed maidens may be part of it. But, as Bachelard would agree, I would also recommend not just naming the actual star, but going out and looking at it. “When we fix upon one star in the anonymous sky, it becomes our star” Bachelard explains, “it twinkles for us”.
Next time you step outside at night to stargaze, spend some time with one in particular. Notice if it conjures any images or dreams. The gaze itself is a form of meeting, because everything we look at “looks back at us familiarly, with either compassion or love”. The love is not incidental. We should feel some type of way about images.
Though the decans are a form of dividing the signs, they, too derive from the farthest spaces of the universe. Originating in Ancient Egypt, they began as a way to divide up the year into 36 distinct “seasons,” each led by a certain deity and a fixed star that existed within that slice of sky. By the time we reach Hellenistic Greece, each decan has been given an image, many of which are fantastical in nature, just like the images connected to the decans in Vedic astrology.
These images were added not for any explicit purpose, other than to give voice and shape to the spirits animating them. Working with these images, or contemplating them, in other words, can give us profound connection to the divine and, considering our own natal decans, our place therein.
Their placement above even the fixed stars in the Corpus Hermeticum reminds me of the Platonic idea that our souls originate in the stars; perhaps our eternal image does too. From the beginning the decanic images have been fantastical. For the image of Gemini I (which Mars is currently traversing), Ibn Ezra describes “a woman standing in the air, and she can sew”. The Liber Hermetis tells us the image of Virgo I “is a serpent put together awry. Its head is the likeness of the moon”.
It’s an interesting contradiction; relying on fantastical images to reflect and shape our characters, purposes, souls in reality, but one that a poet like Bachelard insists upon. He describes the imagination as “the faculty for forming images which go beyond reality, which sing reality”. I love this last phrasing because it shows that even our most fantastical images are still connected to our lives on earth but in a way that shows joy, creativity and hope. We are here to embody the impossible, to evoke what we have been told we can never invoke.
Let’s look at an example.
Kurt Cobain was born when the third decan of Virgo was on the horizon. Ibn Ezra assigns to it the image of “a white woman who is self laudatory; she is wearing a dyed mantle, her hands are leprous and she is praying to God”.
His heliacal rising star is Deneb Algedi, the tail of the sea goat.
You can’t get to the meaning of these images with the mind; they must be gazed upon, met, in order to understand the meaning they have in your life.
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My books are currently open for September (including a few August dates!). My current offering include natal (which can be general or focus in on a certain area of your life), transit/year ahead, relationship, and fixed star consults.
Of all these readings, fixed star parans is the branch of astrology you, gentle reader, may be most likely to know the least amount. And that makes sense; it’s only been in the past few decades that this ancient tradition has been practiced by contemporary astrologers.
But stargazing is universal, a relationship people have been practicing for as long as we’ve been looking up. Throughout history we keep looking up because the stars make us feel things and have proven, time and time again, to have deep relevance to our terrestrial lives.
But, as I always like to tell my clients; my words about them don’t do the stars justice. Once you get a taste for the stars personally connected to your chart, you are struck with a knowing that is a feeling, often of deep recognition. My friend Janet does an apt job at describing them here:
Again and again these stars prove to be our cosmic homecoming.
And remember: I will be raising my pricing on September 2nd! Book before then to secure my lowest prices 🌀
If you still want to know more, check out my essay “Why Fixed Stars,” or feel free to leave a question about them in the comments below (though please, no questions about your chart).
For now, I will leave you with this video, made my friend of the newsletter, Dan Waites. Dan. is quick becoming one of my favorite mundane astrologers and has been releasing videos about the astrology of current events for the past few months. His latest video is about if the internet will go down during this current Age of Air, though I highly recommend his whole catalog!
And remember: I love your comments. Leave any fixed star questions or perhaps some thoughts on your own image below 🌳
Until next time,
You can find this theory in his book, “The Soul’s Code,” where all the Hillman subsequent quotes in this newsletter comes from