Good and Evil in Astrology
The evil of the good and the good of the evil are – unfortunately, unfortunately! – ineffaceable facts. – Carl G. Jung
In psychiatric circles Karl Menninger once raised an important point: Whatever happened to sin? According to Menninger it’s too easy to explain (immoral) behavior. We may try to find explanations for all kinds of behavior patterns without classifying them wrong or without speaking of sin or evil but there are always cases where this might just mean either blindness to a deeper reality or even encouraging immoral behavior. There are reasons for immorality, and in therapy they are important and meaningful, but the question is, whether we should use the same arguments outside therapy, for instance in astrology.
Formerly it seemed to be a common practice among esoteric types to see black magic or evil entities lurking around, but nowadays many New Age extremists, as well as astrologers, seem to accept anything seeing nothing as wrong or sinful. Even the word sin seems to be like a red rag for many. Thus we might well pose the question: Whatever happened to sin in astrology? Or whatever happened to our sense of good and bad. In practical work every astrologer – every day – makes choices involving morals and values, good and evil, whether he or she chooses to use those terms or not. And many clients may be confused if the astrologer doesn’t make any distinctions between good and evil.
GOOD AND EVIL
Each of us has to find out for himself what is permitted and what is forbidden – forbidden for him. It is possible for one never to transgress a single law and still be a bastard. And vice versa. – Hermann Hesse
Astrologer Marion March once stated – in her esoteric astrology course – that there is no good or bad, only good and evil for each of us. According to March the only criterion is the law! But would we really want to live in a world where the only moral criterion would be the law? I most certainly wouldn’t. Look around you, everywhere you see things that are not against the law, yet your basic common sense tells you that they are not right either, not by anyone’s standards. The law as such is seldom a good criterion for anything: As Martin Luther King said, nothing Hitler did in Germany was against the law.
In a primitive level of development the law may sometimes be enough, but for a more developed man there are always higher laws, both in spiritual and in practical life. For instance, F. G. ‘Buck’ Rodgers writes in IBM’s Business Conduct Guidelines: “First, there is the law. It must be obeyed. But the law is the minimum. You must act ethically.” Often it may be tempting to leave evil out of our astrological considerations, because then we do not feel a need to fight against evil, we can ignore evil if we like. It’s so uncomfortable and old-fashioned to think about sin – just be positive and don’t think or talk about such horrible things!
Yet as C. E. O. Carter said, evil is astrologically very real, it is an illusion to assume that evil is meaningless or non-existent. According to Carter Mars, Saturn and Uranus represent evil, Venus, Jupiter and Neptune are good. Of course, nowadays we do not usually make such clear distinctions between planets, for us each planet has its bad and good sides. It’s like C.G. Jung said: “In the end, after all, there is no good that cannot produce evil, and no evil from which some good cannot come.”
For instance, Saturn may create exceptionally responsible and ethically discriminative decent people – in other words, people whom almost everyone would call good, and with whom most of us would like to be associated with because of their integrity and trustworthiness. Often they are people who help others to see the value of good ethics and high behavior standards in general.
And the so-called good planets, Venus, Jupiter and Neptune, can create truly charming and very attractive types, many of them people with good ethical standards, but these same planets may also produce some laissez-faire types with no scruples in doing strangest things. Or they may create overly tolerant people, for instance astrologers who, just like Marion March (Sun opposite Neptune in the ninth equal house), claim that “there is no higher or lower”. Or like the New Age guru, Rajneesh (Sagittarius), for whom the world is perfect … “nothing is good, nothing is bad”. In other words: same pulp everything…
INDIFFERENT OR EVIL ?
Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil. – Elie Wiesel
Lavater said that we should not trust anyone who says that everything is good or evil, but yet we should trust still less anyone who is indifferent. Astrology – especially it’s esoteric side – is strongly influenced by Neptune, which may sometimes make morals and ethics a tricky subject for astrologers. Neptune sees other and higher worlds, thus also worlds where everything truly is good and perfect – or beyond good and evil – but most of the time we are not there yet. As long as we still live in this world, things will always be more complicated. Here we still have to deal with good and evil.
According to Dion Fortune on the “seventh level” – and only on the seventh level – there is no difference between a positive and a negative power, on our level there is a difference. For Dion Fortune (Sun widely opposing Neptune-Pluto) there is even “such a thing as organized and intelligent evil”. Whether that is true or not, in practical life most of us will recognize the difference between good and evil, although it may not always be easy to decipher how we do it, and even less how it works out in some concrete cases. Studying good and bad in the astrological map – as in life in general – is like the story of the evil mother-in-law you cannot see even with a microscope. Yet, most of us would recognize such a mother-in-law if we happened to meet her in our personal lives.
For instance when Walt Whitman (Neptune on the ninth cusp) said that there is in fact no evil, we might see it as an example of Neptunian lack of discrimination. Or we might decide that Whitman is talking about Dion Fortune’s “seventh level”. But in practical astrological work we are usually talking about a more mundane level where denying evil or ‘sin’ altogether may be just a sign of Neptune clouding the ninth house issues. The Sun in the ninth house might see things more clearly: “The Devil’s latest cunning trick is to spread a rumor of his death”. (Giovanni Papini, the Sun on the ninth cusp).
Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality. – Arthur Schopenhauer, a Pisces, Sun conjunct Saturn
Neptune has a special gift of universal compassion, but Neptune needs Saturn to use this gift wisely. Saturn can teach us to take ethics and moral issues seriously, but without Neptune Saturn may lack compassion. “Good ethics is the will of God”, wrote a Finnish theologian Osmo Tiililä (a Pisces with Saturn-Neptune conjunction in dwads). In the most difficult cases Neptune is the only planet that can truly decide what is good for all concerned, and thus the will of God. But knowing this and doing something about it isn’t the same thing. Without Saturn all that compassion and ability to understand both parties, or all the parties concerned, will never amount to much. Theories and intuitions do not help victims, they do not console those suffering in the hands of evil. You have to put your theories and intuitions into practical use. For this Neptune needs Saturn. And, in fact, all the planets, especially Mars.
In a typically Neptunian way, many Neptunian philosophers see evil as having no substance in itself, evil means just a lack, overdoing, perversion. “The wolf in sheep’s clothing now goes about whispering in our ear that evil is really nothing but a misunderstanding of good and an effective instrument of progress”, wrote C.G. Jung, “and nobody realizes what a poisoning this is of man’s soul.” Anyone truly encountering evil – for instance physical or mental violence in their personal lives – will value more the Saturnian view expressed by a Saturnian philosopher A.J. Ayer (Sun opposite Saturn) who said that philosophers are intellectual trouble-makers because they cannot take things as they really are, they just mess them up.
Lin Y’utang (Libra) said that too much learning means that you can no longer see anything as being right or wrong. In other words, the simplest human being may be able see the evil much better than scientists who sometimes actively avoid discussing evil because they see it too unprofessional or moralistic. Scientists and many other professional, astrologers included, rather leave such issues for Christian theologians and priests. Yet in their personal lives even scientists often talk or think about evil; they just keep their moral judgments to themselves. And the same goes with astrologers.
FACING GOOD AND EVIL
It is more important for an astrologer to have the right attitude than to know all the tricks of the trade. – Maria Moore and Marc Douglas
If the client of an astrologer faces a situation which causes deep moral scruples, he or she might find it hard to take seriously an astrologer who never talks about good and evil, or for whom everything is equally good. The client might see any astrologer who avoids value judgments as callous, blind or indifferent. Or even siding with the evil. “The deadliest sin were the consciousness of no sin”, wrote Thomas Carlyle (Sagittarius, Sun opposite Saturn on the Ascendant). An astrologer without a consciousness of sin or evil, will be unable to help clients who have to deal with evil. In practical life there is no such thing as moral neutrality, not in astrology, not anywhere. It is like Aristotle said about science: if we advance in science but go backwards in moral issues, we are not advancing, we are backsliding. Science is not neutral, neither is astrology: it is an embodiment of values.
Astrologers and counselors are human beings, and like other human beings they have their own agendas, they are after something, they want to prove their point, to express their world views, to be right, to earn a living. They cannot avoid expressing themselves and their personal values in everything they do. If they are not vocal about their attitudes toward evil and sin, they will still express them unconsciously in their interpretations, and also in the way they treat there clients. I think that clients would benefit if astrologers would reintegrate their views of good and evil into astrology explicitly and knowingly and publicly instead of letting their attitudes creep into their behavior and interpretations through the back door.
Being positive is great but the whole attitude becomes distorted if it is used to deny evil, and thus to shut reality out, which also means letting others to bear the burden of fighting against evil. Not taking a stand simply means becoming unable to understand or help clients who are truly fighting against evil. For anyone truly having to decide how to meet and overcome unavoidable evil, New Age platitudes of the power of positive thinking or of creating your own circumstances feel like denigration. To be of help the astrologer has to be courageous enough to face evil instead of hiding behind well-meaning but empty platitudes and thus giving more power to evil.
Thus, although we may theoretically assume – or hope – that there is no such thing as true evil, in practical astrological work such an attitude is usually just a cop-out, because most astrologers will sometimes meet a client whose most pressing problem is how to face evil according to the highest moral and ethical standards. In short, clients who are trying to avoid evil whenever possible, but who’d rather fight than close their eyes or turn away when they face unavoidable evil. They need astrologers who accept the fact that as long as we live in this world, moral issues are of utmost importance in everything we do, because there is often evil in the good and good in the evil, thus good and evil are hopelessly mixed up, both in astrology and in life.
There is actually one thing worse than evil itself and that is indifference to evil. – Joseph Fletcher