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Ep. 26 Transcript: Modern & Traditional Views on Difficult Placements

The Astrology Podcast

Transcript of Episode 26, titled:

Modern and Traditional Views on Difficult Placements

With Chris Brennan and Mark Jones

Episode originally released on February 23rd, 2015.


Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: theastrologypodcast@gmail.com

Transcribed by Gülşen Altay

Transcription released November 10th, 2018

Copyright © 2018 TheAstrologyPodcast.com

Modern and Traditional Views on Difficult Placements

Posted on February 23, 2015 by Chris Brennan 

CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi. My name is Chris Brennan and you are listening to the astrology podcast. You can find the show at the astrologypodcast.com and you can also listen to us on iTunes. Today is Friday, February 20, 2015 at approximately 12:27 pm here in Denver, Colorado and this is the 26th episode of the show.

In this episode I will be talking with astrologer Mark Jones about contrasting modern and traditional views on difficult chart placements. Mark’s background is in astrological counselling and psychology and he specializes in evolutionary astrology in particular. His 2011 book was titled ‘Healing the Soul: Pluto, Uranus and the Lunar Nodes’ and his second book is titled ‘ The Soul Speaks: The Therapeutic Potential of Astrology’ and that book will be released in May of this year of 2015. You can find out more information about his work at plutoschool.com.

Mark, welcome to the show.

MARK JONES: Thanks Chris. It is pleasure to be here.

CHRIS BRENNAN: All right, our topic today is contrasting the modern and traditional views on difficult chart placements and I do have a discussion with you about this for about, I think, two years now or recorded discussion, because we have actually had a few discussions since the Northwest Astrological Conference in 2013 where I think that was probably our first actual serious conversation and this interesting question, you actually had an interesting question for me that you raised which let to not just an interesting discussion at the time but also an interesting series of discussions that we have had since then as well as a friendship and so on and so forth.

Let’s start off with what your question is, I am not sure, if I am remembering it perfectly as it was phrased at the time but what it was I guessed to set the stage is, there is a bunch of us astrologers sitting around in a lobby in the middle of this conference and we are all in a circle around sort of like a coffee table in the middle and I am sitting directly across from you and from what I recall I think you sort of lean across the table and may be I am like my brain is making this up but like sort of pathway pointed at me and directed this various sort of pointed question at me which was something to the effect of ‘Aren’t you doing harmed your clients by using distinctions like benefic and malefic in order to cast things in entirely black and white manner?’. Do you think was that more or less what you said?

MARK JONES: I mean I think that is the theoretical abstraction of what I said. I think I actually opened by saying something like I just spent my day you know teaching and you know exploring beyond the mining of the idea that there are benefic and malefic aspects in that sense you know what you make of that and I think your position this fairly very politely, really. I mean I was being playful, yes!, but there was a modicum of aggression I guess, yes!, leaning for what we are sure and you know seeing what your response would be and I guess you know just share with your audience, your response was so thoughtful and considered and I felt it had intellectual equity and integrity on a personal and you know professional level that you properly thought about the question, it wasn’t just something the bounce idea which is the reason why you and I had so many interesting conversations about this material since because you know you responded to a guy you know at least 20% being a jackass theme, you know 80% for real and you amplified the reality of the situation in a very interesting way.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, I mean that exchange, I think both of us even though it started off with you being certainly has a very aggressive question and it is kind of like a gouchie question where I think there is some circumstances where I may be ,.., I don’t know what you are expecting me to say, I don’t think you thought I would ever response and so I supposed to like burst in the tears and like run out of the room.

MARK JONES: Whereas actually you used to as incredibly elegant thing to come back to was at the end to the power of equal houses I must have a…, you know that is a great example of my first house Mars but even than that rather than from my point of view with the quadrant house system having Mars in the 12th house that conjunct the Ascendant in Sagittarius and obviously evidence in my own strong opinionation at the time. It was very elegantly done I have to say and you certainly did not cry and run out of the room and I think that is I had no idea what I was doing to be honest and I think I was lying steam after a long workshop and in which I felt that certain powerful themes about transformation and healing had been raised to me. I think this has been part of a series of one day workshop like I have done at NORWAC prior to the conference starting in which I explore themes such as astrology of healing or one was on the true and essential self I think that year we have that conversation that was I thought on and then in this next NORWAC it is gonna be the astrology of self actualization and I have been really exploring these intense themes of that emerge for me since being a therapist and really working with clients long term about issues like childhood shame or you know the aftermath of abuse, you know sexual, psychological, emotional abuse and what it means, what good and bad in that kind of way that might you know have this resonance intellectually as a subject matter in astrology might have as an impact emotionally and psychologically to a person whose had an enormous pressures on their development in these kinds of ways and what is going on with good or bad in that kind of sense, how extraordinarily loaded terms like malefic or benefic or good or bad or fall or detriment or exaltation can become in the emotional and psychological realm for an individual.You see what I mean?

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right, because you are not dealing with this some sort of like theoretical abstraction like you are actually working in the trances with clients day in day out that have serious you know psychological and emotional and another like practical issues that they are wrestling with and struggling with on a daily basis so this is a very real suppressing question to you when you opposed it, it wasn’t just something, I mean you were certainly seen in at a pointed way but you had also something behind it in terms of seen as clients you have had in the therapeutic context and thinking about the implications of how astrology is phrased and how they might interpret that and what they might do them psychologically

MARK JONES: Exactly, Chris. I mean that is just exactly. It is coming up now in the last 12 or 13 years may be nine may be somewhere between eight, nine, ten thousand clinical hours of working with people and when ‘shame or guilt’ or ‘childhood shame or guilt’ or post traumatic stress occupies the session it can really take hold off upset of anything and very much including the chart or astrology and by that I mean that clients that can be in such strong reactions to past events or ways that they were treated or ways that they lacked validation from those around them or experienced intense abuse to the level that they see their own chart as a source of shame that literally the whole chart, the whole circle, every placement . It is just somehow ‘I have got a bad chart’, the theory is when they work with me you know ‘You will see that I have a bad chart’ or ‘Here is my chart I have been told before but please don’t tell me anything direct about it because I know you can just see how’ you know, how stuff I have got it, how wrong it is you know.


MARK JONES: And it becomes like this way that the transference and the strong feelings from the past plays out and this is projection I found with astrology you know and it is not entirely untrue, you know you are bright young man, intellectually gifted, a hardworking statuses, you have learned techniques and study techniques that might genuinely help many people that I have no doubt and then that gets magically invested by the client who has been through terrible things in their life you know who journeys far to an astrology conference or seeks you out online or to go to your hometown and have a reading and they will invest the significance at times in that reading that may include the very sense of well-being, may include like how they fundamentally feel about themselves and if that is treated carefully by the astrologer and validated and supported that person might leave that reading boyd up you know with the sense of possibility and potential for the future and if it is not, if it is not handled right and you know I see a clear potential problem with terms like malefic or detriment or fall you know ‘You have got this incredibly terrible Venus or something’ you know to a woman and ‘but this is how it might help you to get out of that’ to a woman with intent shame because of say physical, emotional, sexual abuse of my parents or have father growing up, this could be caused a tremendous anxiety that could stay with her long after the reading, long after what was essentially a technical point by an astrologer weighing up the pros and cons of her chart. You see what I mean?

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and that makes a lot of sense to me and I guess so sort of drawing it back and I mean what my response to you as at the time was something to the effect that, not acknowledging these distinctions even though modern astrologers like the attempt what you are saying is that you want to be…, you wanna in consultation to be empowering, you wanna to be positive, you wanna to be something that is like a reinforcing and sort of optimistic perspective on some sense on the person’s life and part of my response was that by not acknowledging these distinctions like benefic and malefic we can sometimes do a disservice to clients by not validating this subjective experience of their life because I feel like oftentimes where the rejection of the benefic malefic distinction is coming from, is in the observation or in the philosophical position that everything works out for a reason or everything works out for the best or that everything that we go through is part of a growth sort of process or that were all evolving in some way either you know mentally or psychologically or spiritually and therefore from that sort of universal perspective or that objective perspective there is no such thing as good and bad, there is just events that happened along the way in our growth process but one of my objections to that because this has been something and the only reason that I had a good answer for you at the time and I meant to say earlier, I was also impressed by your response to my answer because you didn’t just blow me off or you didn’t just get you know annoyed and sort of double down on your position or something like that you actually realize I was giving you a reasonably well thought out response to the question that you didn’t anticipate and the way you dell with actually I thought impressive which is why we have talked so much that has couple of years so what I was saying those that ‘Well, I can acknowledge that standpoint of looking at things from the objective or universal standpoint and from a growth oriented standpoint, at some point in that process like I feel like we stop looking at and almost devalue the subjective experience of the life and in terms of a person’s subjective experience we do make distinctions such as you know I don’t wanna say good or bad but preferable let’s say or unpreferable…

MARK JONES: Exactly.

CHRIS BRENNAN: … you know everybody would prefer to let’s say something get married and have a happy and fulfilling relationship versus everybody would generally not prefer to, you know get married and have their spouse dies or something like that…

MARK JONES: Of course.

CHRIS BRENNAN:…and there is nothing wrong with those distinctions.’

MARK JONES: Yeah, and clearly you see traumatize people by definition traumatized people outer themselves, trauma is the living proof that from a personal standpoint people do not just get what they can handle you know that kind of new age mentor or saying you only get you know what god feels you can take or you know what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, trauma is the living proof that on a personal level that is not the case you know people are clearly bowled over by things, people are clearly overwhelmed by things, they are shaped by childhood events so reinforced significant trauma say like sexual abuse from a trusted friend figure or an attack from a pitiful on the street, these things shape people sense of basic safety and overwhelm a child, a child has no regret has to deal with how to integrate that so I think it is very valid point on that level.

If there is a truth to that idea that everything is universal or divine justice, I certainly feel that there is, it is a very complex level of truth, it is a level of truth related to the ultimate level of experience and in the kind of day to day in the relative world I think that we can make that distinction like the Buddhists do between ultimate truth and relative truth, within the world of relative truth people are bowled over by life experiences even they feel devastated, they feel destroyed by them and I work with people who feeled destroyed by their lives and sometimes like a phoenix from the ashes they rise up over many years at work and reclaim that and sometimes that is too much for them and I have seen both and I have seen clients on the edge of harming themselves and I have known therapists who have killed themselves so you know in this world there is no way to so cooled heal aphorism immune from these overwhelming forces.

I guess you got to be very careful, you got to really examine yourself on an astrological point, you haven’t had it technically, if you really feel that you have created techniques that can fairly accurately predict, say you know whether this marriage is auspicious or not in real terms and that can be presented in some kind of way because I guess be quite hard to me imagine that in a sort of 90% or 100% kind of way and I have never really looked at difficult aspects in that kind of a way I guess but then I am very much a therapist or a therapeutically oriented astrologer, I am always looking at not what can give an optimistic vision necessarily although I think in a reading, in a one of meeting not finding some kind of optimism together may be a failure of the situation but I am very much into a transformational offering you know and I would see a difference between an optimistic offering because some people are in a very difficult life circumstances and it does not serve them to pretend that, that is not the case.

CHRIS BRENNAN: What do you define as transformational something that takes the difficulties that they are going on through and gives them a constructive spin or how you?

MARK JONES: Well, I mean let me give an example, I mean this is not a total answer but it is an example how I might work in a certain way. I mean I pretty much suspended a reading once , I mean I just troll intense hopes and I didn’t really continue to read the chart because it emerged talking about the difficult relationships signatures in the chart that the individual having the reading was being actively beaten by that current boyfriend on a regular basis, he would come round to the house to date time, to have date night and after a couple of beers he started hitting them around the house and I turned in quotes the reading I mean I acted like a therapist I guess, I tried to stop, I tried to lay a boundary around the trauma and remember speakings lady again many years later and she come to see me give a talk conference, and she would realize how much more I had to offer astrologically in a way than I had offered her and she was quite upset about it and I put my hand on her shoulder and I looked through her eyes and ‘Well, you know that day I have made a profound point’, I said you know ‘ you gonna draw a line around your house this person never gonna come into your house again, you gonna bless your house in this way, you gonna create as a safe space for your recovery from these emotional dynamics we have spoken about’, you know I took the gamble to that was worth doing and what happened and she said ‘I did do that, he never came around, he never beat me again after that reading’ and I said ‘that’s why sacrificed you know further astrological information that you might have wanted at that time because that felt like an abstract compared to the reality of situation you were in’ and she acknowledged that and was quite mood and was crying and she was still somewhat frustrated, she hadn’t had the other side of me but I mean I made that judgement call and I would make it again.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and you mean that brings up a really important point which is that and it is important in these discussions because the primary way that you are framing and contextualizing questions like this is within the context of you know what would a client think?, you know or how would affect the client? whereas that is not always necessarily the way that I am framing or contextualizing this question of is benefic and malefic are valid distinction at all from a technical standpoint even amongst discussions between astrologers? and that is important point because those were almost like two separate discussions; one you know should we used terms like that, that do sound more black and white or more good and bad or what have you within the context of a consultation setting versus this other discussion that has to take place which is that, is that a valid distinction period because some astrologers you know such as I think Eric Meyers who I had a debate with last year argue that they are not, there is no sort of validity to that this distinction even from a purely technical standpoint regardless of if we are talking about clients or talking about amongst astrologers or what have you.

MARK JONES: Okay, this raises a number of interesting points; one in recent times this is only come very recently, the idea has occured to me that we might want to start almost different names like a client orientated astrologers or there might be a term for astrologers who focus primarily on readings and how astrology as a living transformational tool, well may be changed people’s lives as opposed to like research astrologers people who want to you know research the cultural origins of astrology or write history books about it you know essentially examined it as an archaeology as an architect rather than a living transformational tool and there is nothing wrong with that but I would argue that is a completely different pursuit and may be very hard to distinguish because certain very bright people in that realm may rise up to be very high place in certain institutions and then people project outside as project that means that they are very very focused on using the chart as a living transformational tool and that person to go and see to get this how and then she that might not be the case.

And then the other question is you know what do I think about what the benefic and malefic I guess underlyingly you know from a technical level? because I am a technical astrologer too and I think that was what makes my perspective quite unusual in a way in that yes, I am an out to out therapist and I have a private practise in therapy and you know I don’t always have people’s charts within the…, I mean I increasingly do but I am also an out to out astrologer, I have done hundreds of hundreds, if not thousands of readings you know just one of readings as an astrologer you know as an astrologer who is also a therapist, fine but reading a chart I do have a method, I teach schools. Now in my method, I would very much say this acknowledgement of difficult placements so I for example develop ideas like trauma signatures from the perception of Uranus as a kind of aspect to transpersonal mind but I do not have the traditional ruling of benefic and malefic you know like Venus in Pisces is exalted or something…


MARK JONES: … I don’t experience that in obvious way and that could be, I am completely open to this, a paradigm lineless on my part, not following a traditional astrological method but you know for example a friend of mine Venus in Pisces was very very lost soul when I was growing up and he was the only…, you know he had multiple ethnic backgrounds who grew up in a middle class of village in the middle of you know Fletcher and Reagan era with me and you know everyone was white you know Protestant in this village apart from him and he was my best friend and certain psychic pressures really collapsed on him and there was classic case of…, you know schizophrenia is often linked to people who have made a huge cultural transition that the next generation that are born to the people who travelled from another country to a place often pronto mentally honest, he collapsed the schizophrenia but there was always this kind of insecurity how to about you related to himself as he was trying on always different costumes and he had this glorious main of hair on this beautiful aura, he was a really attractive person, he was a sweetheart really but Venus in Pisces caught hein him was just destroyed by… , he went through was a very vulnerable caught hein so it is never been something…, I never related to the quality of a say an exaltation as if it is just meant that something in extremely shown out of that person’s life in a successful way but may be I am misunderstanding what those things mean.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, I mean one of the issues that I ran into with Eric is the tendency I think for sometimes modern astrologers to hear about certain placements like that like exaltation or fall or something like that and then they take them account in isolation where with your friend for example well, you know he may had Venus exalted in Pisces and on the surface that might have been theoretically more favorable placement for certain things related to Venus in his life that is not to say that Venus couldn’t have had some other let’s say quote unquote affliction in some way which could have completely reversed and supposed it gains it would be indicated by otherwise placement of exaltation and so sometimes when we get into discussions like this when we are talking about one of example charts I ran into, actually, no actually, I used that as an argument point with Eric actually because I knew some of the examples that he wanted to talk about and I brought them with me and showed how almost one of the examples where he wanted to pointed out how you know a planet being on sign and being its exaltation or what have you, was not in fact a favorable placement in this person’s life I was able to demonstrate and almost every example he picked up that there were other major counteracting factors that he wasn’t taken into account and in that way it is kind of I don’t wanna say a bad argument but you have to be careful about making arguments like that because in the same way that I think you know a sceptic might say you know all astrologers that do sun sign astrology think that the world is neatly divided into twelve segments and that is obviously not the case in astrology let’s say in fact if you look the birth chart there is hundreds of factors that we take into account, it is not about just this one thing and therefore it is a kind of like a false argument to frame purely in that way.

MARK JONES: Yes, so we come to a kind of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and in the overall paradigm of traditional astrology if I have got this right a whole complex series of fact is we would want to bring to bare on the question how a chart might play out then it would be very important, obviously then, for this high degree of integrity and skill in operating like that you know that is not the way.

I mean I have chosen to specialize really in looking at charts for what you might call soul or like personal essence, how does a person’s highest truth of that true potential manifest in this life? and that is how I look at a chart is a window to that potential. Now I certainly see challenges of in that, I see potential for that childhood developmental blocks, carmic trauma brought into childhood trauma you know I am relatively speaking a specialist in analyzing charts to see those kinds of traumas so we might work with this very specific focus on like trauma signatures, complex patterns of carmic memory that tend to then play into early childhood experience which then tend to become the emotional and psychological foundations of an individual’s life which may then unconsciously dominate their relationships or their working life or their creative life in a way that they got no idea how to do anything about, feels like it’s beyond them and it could be very very painful and then the usefulness of that is to try to find you know the unconscious roots of these more complex factors underneath so I very much sympathize with this idea of being very delicate how we would explore, you know in a sense the chart as a crime scene, you know you would want to be in a crime scene investigated, you would want to just come in and see the blood on the wall and see there is a knife over there you know just necessarily equated the tool, the knife might have been used to chop vegetables and the blood sort of something completely different.

I am very aware that is not a simplistic process and I think that is why I am very interested to see really on a personal level Chris you know, the work you do another’s of you know similar caliber as you could self, candies traditional, hellenistic techniques be brought forward in a way that has sufficient examination and experiential evidence from working with people and giving readings and analyzing historical another figures to offer something that will help in that delicate balancing at, you know.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, definitely and I think, I mean I wanna go back to something you said earlier which is may be distinguishing between those that focus on the theoretical sort of side of astrology versus the practical side and in seeing clients and I think on some level that is valid distinction because I think it is important to distinguish between those two things because they are kind of different processes; one of which is seeing clients and one of which is figuring out what the theoretical principles are of astrology and developing the techniques in the way that is theoretically consistent and that draws out not just a theory but also the philosophy and you know helps with the practise but one thing I will say is that, I don’t think that I mean most astrologers that still engage in discussions about like the philosophy or like the theoretical foundations of astrology they often do see still clients so it is not that, there is this complete distinction where there is just like we have the practising astrologers and then we have the guys just go off and just think about or theorize things but often there is a lot of overlap between those two because all astrologers rely on if they are full time astrologers, they rely on seeing clients typically is their primary income so you do see them sort of implying some other techniques in the field.

And additionally for that reason it is not just a matter of sort of archeology when you see somebody going back and researching some of the older techniques or what have you but I would more like in a two the way that we have sort of like theoretical physicists who sometimes you know work out problems or work out things conceptually or sometimes are focused on creating as sort of intact or integrated conceptual models but then those conceptual models are often put to the tests then if they hold up then it becomes sort of a standard and if they don’t then they are rejected and that is probably closer analogy I think to what some astrologers that are doing that are focused on some of these conceptual issues at the same time is you know applying techniques to clients.

MARK JONES: Exactly and you see the idea would become that one’s theoretical visioning and I myself for ink engaged a project in that I mean after the book on the ‘Therapeutic potential of astrology, the Soul speaks’ that comes out in May I will be going back to working on the book on the Planetary Nodes which is one of my great sort of research contributions to astrology if you like or things across to this, anyway, so and the idea would be that kind of research would feed the client work and then the client work would feed that kind of research because you would have direct feedback from living people.

What I find this, it becomes this fantasy, these two things that go on; one is practical problem like you said people need to make a living and see clients and that happens to therapist too, you get therapist, you know often all the therapist you have done it for years and then they don’t want it any more, they don’t have any way to make a living and that becomes his own problem and I have always said to myself, hand on hard if I didn’t wanna work people anymore and I would have the courage to trying to something else instead but the theoretical issue I think is, this is paradigm sometimes of the astrology because it is this magical thing, because it is like its highest potential almost window to the soul, you know people gonna come along and the astrologers just gonna perform this reality to them, they just gonna come along like to a magic show and say magical Chris Brennan, this very bright studician man he has read all the ancient books that I haven’t read, is gonna perform this reality for me and of course I have been experimenting as a therapist, it is completely other reality where to me the client is the central resource for the reading or it is a combination of the client, their chart and me but mainly the clients and their chart and they dance together so instead of trying to predict somethings or make assessments based on a technical phrase or let’s say that Venus and their relationship to themselves or their intimate relationships in their life, I will just ask them, I will just go how do you feel about yourself? and how are your relationships in your life? and as they talk to me I will also have the chart memorized usually in my mind and I will let that then so to speak to me about what they are saying but I will ground it and what they are saying so that it always has this living relationship to where they are coming from. The danger of the research astrologer that is you know say variant to Saturn Uranus midpoint has this, the total expression of everything you know…


MARK JONES: … is that every client that comes from the door has a Saturn Uranus midpoint reading whether that was the real critical issue for that client or not. That is the danger for me that the research fantasy you know my hobby my hobby horses Laurence Sterne, Laurance’s Tristram Shandy would put it you know my intellectual think of fires me up is then just what every client gets whether that was the critual thing going on to them or not which is I always start by going how can I help today? and that is too elicit you know what is going on for you in your world so I can link this strange circle with all these symbols on it to your life, not the other way around, not trying to stretch your life to fit my theories of astrology.


MARK JONES: Yeah, that is really interesting territory for me.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah and I think that I mean that is interesting in and of itself that is probably worth discussing like the typical it is a pretty standard sort of inversion of what I think client would expect when they normally come into see like an astrologer or coming into see like a Tarot reader or someone else that is…, I mean I guess it depends on your definition of what astrology is but let’s say if our classifying is a type of divination or a type of fortune telling or what have you like a most people coming of the street expecting you to tell them things about their life and for our large part of the later part of the 20th century that was sort of the new approach that was taken the inversion where because of the integration with sort of therapy or with counselling astrologers stopped trying to just make blanket statements based on a chart or make predictions just based on chart placements where I from the start sort of impressed the client almost because it is more of a parley track on some level, that is not a parley track, it is actually if you can do make statements about a person’s life that are actually valid and relevant based on where the planets were at the moment of their birth that is actually very interesting and impressive, but that is not…

MARK JONES: But it is a magician’s act, isn’t it?

CHRIS BRENNAN: It is depending on what your point is like if the point of a consultation session is to get like deep psychological issues and work through things like what you are doing then yeah, that is like a distraction and a waste of time because then it is more like you establishing some sort of authority or that you can do this rather than doing something that is practically valuable in terms of working through the client’s issues which obviously you can get too much quicker, if you just ask them what is your issue? and then you started looking at the chart and being able to contextualize their issues within the context of their chart versus trying to look at the chart immediately, guess out all of the hundreds of things that are going on what their primary focus is at that time.

MARK JONES: Exactly, you exactly right, you know as this person whose was trained to work people with have a longer periods of time, whose set that with an individual may be for one hour in a hotel somewhere at a conference to summarize all those years of working with hundreds of people and ………. into this one hour and to waste my time may be trying to sacking guess some astrological signatures to see if I can, like you say almost like impressed them or something, what happens if you just drop down entire game, what happens if you just surrounded that, what happens if you can just breath in a confidence that you are there as an empowered human being to serve the higher good of everyone but especially this person who is come before you who is asking you as a supplicant you now to help them with some degree of guidance so I look at as guidance rather than divination which totally keys into Roberto Assagioli, the Italian doctor who created the Psychosynthesis really arguably the first really spiritual that psychology, he called his name for the therapist was a guide, the guides of the person, the guide that to true potential and you are there to serve it and then everything becomes practical then everything like you say it is much more rapid to go what is your real issue and then you see the realities the whole hour can be spent on that real issue rather than this fantasy that I have to do the routine you know the dog and pony show, the magic show you know I have to the this soaring heart and disappearing it, otherwise I can’t call myself an astrologer any more…

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah and there is obviously…

MARK JONES: …what is more important. Yeah.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Well, and there is obviously something in pillock about that because then you can zero in on you know they describe their issue and then it is clear what their describing fit symbolically in terms of some Saturn transit that they are having and therefore you can then discuss that and discuss the duration of it or the extent of it, when it began and when it ends and what other things might be connected to it versus you know narrowing in on some other transits or progressions or what have you that may be occuring in their life and might be coinciding with other sort of issues that are going on in different areas of their life but it might not be their primary focus at that time.

I guess the counter argument though or the part that makes me think that there might be still be something valid to you know being able to just look at a chart from a highly technical standpoint and zero and precisely and what the person’s primary issues were without hearing from that miad or before talking to them is the sort of accusation that is often level against astrologers by sceptics and such of cold reading and so the fear of or the question of if you needed to sit down and pull up what the person’s main issues are or accurately describe this person’s personality or the rough outlines of their life without hearing anything about them or knowing very little about them, could you do it? and that is an important and sort of valid and is still interesting question to me as sort of a side thing in terms of practising astrology in the 21th century and being able to demonstrate its validity and sort of precarious position that astrologers are in, where we aren’t usually recognized this having any validity and therefore things like that or the ability to do things like that does have some sort of objective value even if it is not as practically useful in a context of like a psychological you know consultation or something like that .

MARK JONES: Although it is clearly useful when applying to future questions, certain analysis of history, questions you couldn’t identify but you have got someone’s chart but you don’t know the events surrounding it in particular, incident or what have you. No, I hear you. I mean, I think this precarious position that astrology is in is actually a fundamental factor in obvious, I mean what I observe as a therapist is the this kind of astrology is mirror entertainment shadow that is also has this unconscious almost Christian fear of the devil’s work you know magic, the occult kind of, it is also mirror entertainment or some dark or shadow in the collective psyche, pushes astrology to the fringes and create essential insecurity you know in the profession in a way because you could be a major figure in the world of astrology and yet you are still a laughing stock in the larger cultural marketplace and that is quite difficult for people when they have spent all their lives studying this really rather intensely complex subject on one level and I think it is an issue in our larger community.

And I will say this, I mean I have a method and I teach a method and this method can just read charts but it reads them the most profoundly when you outlined the symbolism of the chart to the consciousness of the individual, for me the alchemical wedding, you know the union, the yoga, union of astrology for me at its profounded is, is the union of the soul of the individual, the being of the client, the native, have you gonna put it and the symbolism, the highest realizations in that chart and that does involve a method with me, you know it is not just a completely subjective thing and in the sense when I am asking what a therapist would call that presenting issue you know why you are here today, I am trying to create a lead into authenticity, the sense that they could come here and really put themselves into this and be  committed to it and transform. I am not necessarily accepting that the first thing they say is the deepest reason why they have come, some people about clear …


MARK JONES: …but some people are going to articulate that reason through speaking, through speaking they will reveal more about themselves which I can outline it to the signatures in the chart and then you know the method of that I do have that was outlined in ‘Healing the Soul’ really quite a technical method in its own way and then so behind what the reason why they say they come they are may be deeper reasons, fine but also the reasons why they say they come also have to be respected and they are also giving you a sense of where they are coming from as a consciousness and this is where in the debate you are having I picked out for me at least I think the essential point is the consciousness of the client, the consciousness that their concerns, their intentions where they are really coming from and even if you like from the point evolutionary astrology where they are in the evolutionary journey of their soul because it would make a massive difference to how the symbolism of the chart plays out or is interpreted, do you think consciousness is the great hidden factor in the astrology chart and the difficult placement, the person has at one level of consciousness, let’s say the level of consciousness is, ‘I am radically different, unusual and I am a freak and affiliated but I have to maintain my individual out, all costs of  voice of world would take it from me, I don’t wanna sell out a man’ and you interpreted stressful aspect from that point of view, you know it is all true a certain lands in that being, that is the how to experience themselves but profoundly individual but somehow also always proud to being a victim or swallowed up by other authorities or life as if it is gonna claim that back versus saying interpreting the chart of like a Lama, a Tibetan Lama, he is just clearly in a different space than most people, you know the Dalai Lama’s chart is gonna play out in a certain way that might actually be quite profoundly different from someone had a very similar chart who isn’t you know coming from the place where the Dalai Lama is coming from.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and I mean you know even from the traditional standpoint, the second century Ptolemy said that astrology is contextual that you have to take into account the background of the client like that somebody from…, I mean he used an example that was like a original like somebody from like the Middle East with their cultural customs and background would have a different interpretation and somebody from Rome or what have you in the second century with the Roman sort of cultural customs and values and backgrounds and their social status and their gender and so on and so forth so that it is like valid.

And then but this is actually a huge topic, this could be may be the main topic for a large part of the rest of the episode which is this other thing that is coming to play because I don’t know like I have been trying to see if I could find this in traditional texts but I think it is a more of an modern idea and it is one of the major contrasting differences when it comes to difficult placements, is that modern astrologers oftentimes will say that the way in which a placement manifest has to do with the person’s consciousness and their level of consciousness or level of spiritual evolution and I really have some sort of like visceral reaction to that because it sets up this kind of hierarchy of like spiritual evolution and there is an implication to at which I think definitely came out in Eric’s position, in Eric’s work that those who more spiritually evolved have less bad things you know quote unquote subjectively negative things happen to them but instead the more positive or constructive versions of the astrological placements or transits or what you have will tend to be more dominant in their life and I think there is a huge assumption it is being made there that is not necessarily correct, I mean sometimes people that are very, how you can even quantify that let’s say spiritually evolved or people like you know Tibetan monks or what have you still have very terrible things happen to them in the practical, physical plane.

MARK JONES: God, yes. Look at the Dalai Lama, having to flee Dharamsala so the Tibet mountains for the danger………. and killed and many young monks and nuns were tortured and killed to absolute horrific levels. I mean I was talking to a Lama about it at once whose his own cousin had been forced at gunpoint held to a Buddhist nun to kill animals with  a small knife and his bear hands breaking all his vassa, otherwise a Buddhist nun would be hurt and then shot in front of him, you know torture enacted on these peaceful, loving focused, spiritual community, beings, it is very sad, terrible things happened. Look at Christ you know he got christified one of the most painful death, the Romans invented christification because they are amused to say this and then knew how much it hurt, to have you chest collapsed into your own lungs, you had the pressure held up like that and….

CHRIS BRENNAN: I mean if Christ was more spiritually evolved, would he have had a more positive like you know more positive experience whatever transit he was having when he was christified? I mean…

MARK JONES: Yeah. Well, and that is an interesting question because could you argue that he was the great? However it would be personally if early bad experience something, today you are christified. I mean I am gonna guess….

CHRIS BRENNAN: No, finish what you are saying because actually I would agree with that conclusion that sometimes it is unfortunately and that is even hard position to take but I think a lot of traditional astrologers are gonna end up coming to that position and I don’t know that is gonna be popular you know sometimes there are fixed or predetermined things that are not found that do almost seem like they are an important part of the person’s life or what they are here to do and that is not something in…

MARK JONES: Yes, elevated to him, in Steiner’s term, in Mystery of Golgotha, the christification event was the shining, was the way he or the larger him the Christ rather than Jesus may be or I don’t wanna split too much but you know the essence of spiritual mission shown out to the world, my true nature does not change when my body is tortured and killed and that is a very profound spiritual truth in my view and I would bound to the Christ on that level personally and without being anything like a conventional Christian in most people’s eyes.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, most traditional, most conventional Christians don’t practise astrology and discuss people’s past lives and future and past incarnations most of the time. There might be a domination I am not familiar with like a…, yeah.

MARK JONES: Yeah, clearly, actually it turns out to be really interesting example. Christ christification in personal terms is an actually…, is a terrible thing you know he was publicly vilified, he had a joke court…, joke tribunal like several is going on all around the world you know even as we speak, peep as a mockery of a trial, he is vilified the things he didn’t do, he is whipped and beaten has he carries own cross and then he is christified upon it along…, you know the Romans crucified thousands of thousands of people and it is become one of the greatest, even if you are not a Christian let’s just see even you don’t believe astrological truth of that, it is still one of the most powerful myth, one of the most powerful impact, just as an idea, the radicalism of early Christianity which was like a revolutionary thing has just taken hold and just shaped western culture, remarkable so yeah certain inequitable things or the making of this, certain terrible traumas when those people who can become like the phoenix and rise from the ashes of they form themselves, they are stronger of then, their eyes have been opened to a new kind of love, the love that can take in suffering of the world rather than run away from it or reject it.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and that sort of just brings us back to this question about a person’s level of spiritual evolution at somehow being related to or having some relation to or dictating how they will experience natal chart placements or transits and because I think we are this comes in sometimes is in modern astrology the way that I have observed it as sort of I don’t wanna say in objective observer but stepping outside of it, sometimes it has a sort of like fetch factor in order to account for the why the acknowledge I think even the traditional astrologers would acknowledge those sort of wide spectrum of different manifestations of a specific placement that since we are talking about things in terms of archetypes, there is many different manifestations of a specific placement and sometimes in order to sort of skirt that issue I don’t know if I should phrase it that negatively, of skirt the issue because that is not necessarily but to certain extent that is what’s happening is, the issues being skirted by saying it is completely up to the person’s consciousness how this manifest or it is completely up to the level of spiritual evolution of how this manifest and I mean there is something appealing about that from a practical consulting astrologer standpoint because then you don’t have to say, this is probably likely how you gonna experience that you can leave it open so that you can say well it could be, there be you know this constructive thing or you could have this sort of nightmare scenario and it is up to you to figure that out but one of the ways that might backfire that I fear and actually I think Demetra George brings this up in her book Astrology of the Authentic Self which I highly recommend because she is trying to merge modern and traditional astrology and she is wrestling with some of these issues, but one of the things that she points up is that, that approach well it is meant to make things more empowering and more free will oriented by leaving that spectrum open and it can sometimes backfire by implicitly putting it on the client and saying if this works out poorly it is because you are not very spiritually evolved or there is something wrong with you inherently.

MARK JONES: Exactly, Ken will went through this experience with his wife Treya in the book Grace and Grit you know then all new age friends turning on her because she had cancer and because she wasn’t getting better from it and she went on to die from it and it is judged on you because you didn’t juice enough or you didn’t you know get in touch with the deeper forgiveness what if healed the body. Now to me it is fundamental misunderstanding of karma and manifestation going on here. You see your evolutionary state does dictate a level of your awareness, yes! You do have almost complete autonomy about the kind of awareness that you have, the place that your consciousness is in, even when something good happens or when something terrible happens but that does not mean that you control the manifestation, manifestation is an interlocking series of events, there is individual karma, collective karma, nations karma you know the history of just some conflict that you are involved in, you know a bomb goes off, it doesn’t matter if you are Tibetan Lama or whatever if you are in the centre of the blast. There are collective situations and complex factors around manifestation if something terrible happens to you she were attacked on the street or I believe there was an example in the previous discussions say like raped or something, the idea that this is your fault is a complete misunderstanding of karma and it projects onto karma the western notions of sin, it really is a kind of unconscious Christian legacy, being misapplied to eastern philosophy.

Karma to me, action or the implied principles of karma is all to do with memory, universal memory and the individual long term memory, it is to do with accumulated habits and patterns and emotional psychological memory of life times so it is to do with certain areas of experience you have been drawn to, it is not the same as you did something terrible and therefore you gonna get something terrible back, that is like an old testament view karma, it is like a judgemental God coming down to you know punish you of your sins, this isn’t part of the psyche of India and you know the great Hindu and Buddhist nations that produce the concept of karma really and offered it to the spiritual traditions of the world, they didn’t have that mentality about it, it is much more impersonal, if you look at the Bhagavad Gita and Christian’s conversations with Arjuna, it is much more impersonal level of response, it is not about ‘right or wrong’ or ‘good or bad’ in a Christian judgemental sense and even actually we could say the unconscious Christian shadow, the legacy of Christianity has an impact even on this discussion about difficult aspects that are concerned about good and bad his link to sin and you know God and the devil you know whether you are good or personal whether you are  committed to a mortal sin that kind of thing and we have got this huge shadow over these issues in our collective unconscious that I think confuse the issue.

In a goodness there is not guarantee that everything will happen to in your life is good. If you are good in a world surrounded by selfish murderers you will get hurt you know if you are good person who has sensitive values who wants to help a hurt person on the street and you grow up in some gangling territory well or your compressor wanna get that first killed to show off that bodies they are right for the gang then you are just…, you are in trouble, aren’t you? It is a collusion of values. In a goodness is one thing how it manifests in the world is based on all sorts of other factors

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay and I think that is something I can get on board with in terms of framing ideas of consciousness being relevant in or even evolution of consciousness for that matter in that way like I say only get nervous about it when it becomes outlined and sort of intermingled more with like the Secret in the sort of launched attraction type thinking where you know your personal sort of consciousness or your will in some sense the way you are directing your attention towards things completely dictates the manifestation of things in your physical life so that becomes almost like a very egocentric type thing or you can control your own world and material circumstances if only you change your consciousness and what there is something to that I don’t wanna completely like remove the element of consciousness and the element of personal evolution and self motivation and things like that in order for people to constructive changes in their life, it is just harder when you are talking about things that are outside of person’s control, especially things that have to do with hardship. Last night, Leisa Schaim and I were coming back from a talk in Boulder where Rick Levine had given a talk, one of the things she pointed out just in conversation is oftentimes like modern astrologers fate is only discussed within a negative context that we only talk about like fated events and there are often argue against when we are talking about negative things but oftentimes modern astrologers don’t acknowledge or don’t seem to realize I guess or taking to their contextualization that sometimes you could have a completely predetermined event theoretically that is positive like you know meeting someone, you would later…

MARK JONES: Of course.

CHRIS BRENNAN: … get married to or you know on the subway randomly that day or something like that and that is another element of that probably needs to be integrated into discussions like this at some point.

MARK JONES: What so I say discussion number two that we have fate and free will could be a possibility because that is the deep conversation, just to say one thing about the Secret by the way. I mean the Secret just makes me laugh particularly the film, I haven’t read the book may be it is better but the film just made me laugh hysterically. I mean the idea that is the greatest spiritual secret ever told or you know it had hidden for centuries in our view, just made me prettily cry with laughter and you see what it does, it takes an idea that what you hold in mind and the things you focused on with your will and your mind and your imagination and your heart will tend to manifest more easily which is true and it tries to make this into this glorious you know revolution, you can make the world the way you wanted, you can totally create your own reality and it is just a question asking God for how many millions he is gonna give you next year and you know if you are not millionaire in three years time you have not been working hard enough and that is where the fantasy of America, the fantasy of the new world, the fantasy of constant expiration in growth you know when we run out of earth, we will make it space through you know star trek or whatever, the final frontier expansion the ever positive idea it is just all to do with human unconscious fantasy, there is nothing to do with spiritual reality you know.

The some of the greatest spiritual teachers of all time the great Tibetan Lamas and Masters, they lived in simple huts or caves you know to be paid attention to the changing of the seasons, when someone they love died they cried, when something funny happened they laughed, you know it is not about having some big house in California and twisting and manipulating reality to get your own selfish egoic needs math, that is not the evolution of consciousness, that is actually spiritual materialism which Chögyam Trungpa wrote you know genius analysis in a book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, it is just a ego fantasy place onto spiritual platform so we have to watch that kind of thing constantly especially the way that a kind of pseudo spirituality is outlined with astrology to trying to make everybody feel better and I agree totally with this idea at least fated events whether you know I have questioned the fate and the predestination is the same thing, I think things can be intensely fated without being predestined…


MARK JONES: …if I make sense and something all I have to think about myself, I have to explain what I mean by that but…

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, I look forward to and will be grateful that should definitely be very next discussion and may be in order to bring surround a full circle to our topic, one of the things I would like to say is, just sort of coinciding the point that it is not necessarily a good idea to use terms like benefic and malefic in their most extreme sense in the context of a consultation and that is something I am wrestling with a somebody who is reviving a lot of these ancient techniques that do tend to be a bit more deterministic and prediction oriented but also precise about being able to say specific things about where a person will encounter some of the most challenging or difficult parts of their life.like what their area of life they struggle with the most and some of the greatest hardships versus some parts of their life that perhaps will tend to go to smoothest for them and where the least amount of effort will be needed in order for positive or constructive things to happen and the way that phrase some of those things in the context of consultation is something that I am still working out and struggling with and trying to come the terms with and I do at least at this point, agree with the modern position that even my middle ground between those two is that we can use these terms and discussions amongst astrologers and I don’t think it should be like the 1980s where I guess like ………………… remove and they made a standard policy so that the terms benefic and malefic could not be used in any astrology books.

MARK JONES: I did not know that.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, he actually told me that, I learned that not too long ago and had a spirited discussion with him at the ISAR conference in September where he told me that he had been trying for years to get rid of those terms and I told him, well that I was bringing them back.

MARK JONES: That went down well?

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, he did not appreciate that so but my point that I will coincide though and I will coincide to ………….. and to you and another modern astrologers is that I think that we can use these terms and they still have some valid conceptual or theoretical role to play in astrology but in the context of a consultation I think it is more appropriate and useful and productive probably to use I say synonyms but to use or euphemisms in some way because it almost sounds like too negative but it is a type of euphemism to say challenging or to say you know difficult or difficulties or what have you may be you would classify those as still being too extreme but I think maybe alternates like that or more.

MARK JONES: No, it is about exercising caution, isn’t it?, out of respectful the unknown subjective experience of the person before you and how they might internalize it and go away with it and to pay attention to the legacy of the reading that is not just the extrovert time you spent with him, the hour, 90 minutes, whatever, that is about the legacy of the reading what their left with go away.

And I will say two things here; one I am really excited and I want to publicly notchy in the direction of your forthcoming book eventually and to read more about certain you know traditional and ancient techniques myself and make informed decisions about them because of the good scholarly work of other colleagues and two you know for the rescue of ‘The Soul Speaks’ promoting going to great length this therapeutic astrology book to put certain points across and I am developing a counselling skills for astrologers sure vision programme, serious of MP3 downloads and accompanying essays that will be released you know alongside the book so that I can express the people certain points about this legacy of the reading and what people go away with and this will be non denominational if you like, you know it is not about evolutionary astrology or Mark’s method or you have to follow Mark’s method to follow the counselling skills for astrologers programme. No!

I have create a program to just any, any practising astrologer who just wants to think about client dynamics and I have summarized the some of the best information in 20th century psychology and translated it into how it could be directly useful for an astrologer in a reading and that is it, no denomination, no you have to be looking at outer planets, you have to follow my method Pluto, Uranus and the Nodes. No! None of that, just you know what is going on when you sit down for consultation with someone and how is the work of Carl Rogers help to hinded that?, what is ………got to offer to that?, what were Freud and Jung thinking about these things?, how can you think about these things?, how might you deal with it if someone active trauma comes up that still is going on in the client’s life?, is not theoretical what is she happening to them still in the present, how are you handle that?, how are you handle you know if the client starts to telling you how is this meant so much to them? and they are crying and they can leave the room and you gone over time and you don’t know what else to say to them or client that freaks out at you and just gets angry because you said that they have got difficult Mars and you have made some guy feel emasculated so these programme will be exploring having trained as a therapist, having been a practising therapist for 13-14 years, having had years of supervision as a therapist and it is this missing component when you become an astrologer and no one supervises you or may be for a brief time you carry on e mail exchanges with the person who taught you or the little group that supported you but when I started to work as a therapist all my early client were was examined in depth by a group and by a very experienced individual therapists doing it for decades and this is the missing component for me in the world of astrology and I am offering this programme and really you know the illumination that is come from being a therapist for years to trying help the profession in a larger way than just my kind of astrology or even just modern astrology, nevermind just the evolutionary astrology and just say that anyone who is just serious about working with people and may be really offering them something in their life, some real guidance that there are certain principles and certain key ideas that they might want to contemplate for doing that so that they are ready for it so they are not put off by because it can be overwhelming I have worked with people really talented astrologers who gave up, who had their own little business going from telephone or Skype and little office somewhere and for variety of reasons couldn’t handle it, you know one of readings never having any feedback about how it work out for the client, feeling that for too alone in the world and for others it was just a lack of discussion then about you know the way they did interpreted the chart was that the right way and these are very difficult questions for people starting out and a lot of people never work with clients because of these fears and concerns and I am trying to address these in a much more systematic and in a much more honest and rigorous way.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah and I think that is very needed and I am definitely looking forward to your book coming out in May, especially because one of things that is interesting to me that I have noticed is that, there is now because the revival of traditional astrology is 10 or 20 years old now, I am starting to see students come in and people starting to get into practise now at this point that they are gone past the point of students and actually seeing clients but there are people that came in through traditional astrology and like picked up William Lilly’s 17th century textbook on astrology and that was their introduction to astrology and that they have stayed more or less in that area and one of the things I am…, I don’t wanna say concerned. No, I am someone concerned about is that in bypassing modern astrology some traditional astrologers now are missing out on the parts of modern astrology that were very useful in terms of those skills of client consultation skills and consulting and therapeutic rules and sort of pointers that are very crucial when you do have these discussions with people and those are things that I have the benefit of getting because I came into modern astrology and then went into traditional but if you just came in through traditional you might not get that right away because you can’t…, you know Lilly doesn’t tell you what to do if a client you know breaks down into tears at the end of consultation with them, he just tells you how to predict you know whether they will when the lottery or get married or what have you.

Yeah, I think that is very valid. I am looking forward to that and I am hoping that is one of the next things that traditional astrologers needed to do is more clearly define some of the rules of what is appropriate or what is not appropriate in the context of a consultation or consultation setting and I think looking at pointers going through guides like your book could be very useful in that context.

All right. Well, I think that brings us about to the end of our hour. Thanks for joining me. I look forward to talking you again next time and you have may be fate and free would be a good discussion topic for a future episode.

MARK JONES: Well, we can just stop with that small dynamic………………..

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, I am sure we can talk quite a while about that.

MARK JONES: Well, thanks for having me Chris.

CHRIS BRENNAN: All right. Well, thanks for coming on.

All right. Well, that is it for this episode. Thanks for listening.If you enjoyed it please rate us, give us a nice rating on iTunes, subscribe to the podcast through the e mail subscription list on the sidebar and check out Mark’s website which is plutoschool.com.

All right. Well, we will see you next time.