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Astrology and Archetypes in Counseling by Galeet Farrow (Gollan)


For the last twenty years, I was a closet astrologer, afraid my peers would shame me or shun me for my interest and passion in the art of astrology. As it has become more mainstream and acceptable, I have slowly brought my two worlds together – counseling and astrology. The marriage of these arts has opened for me new ways of connecting with clients and conceptualizing their symptoms. For clients, it has helped them relate differently to themselves, their struggles and to deepen their compassion and understanding of others. A 2017 PEW research poll suggests 30% of Americans believe in astrology, including those from Christian backgrounds. What I have seen, is a significant increase in interest particularly in the younger generations. It shows up in their dating worlds and many are checking their horoscopes on popular apps on a regular basis. Yet, the types of places this information is often sought can be superficial at best or unethical at worst. A few of the statements clients have made coming into counseling include:

“I really like him, but he’s an Aries so I shouldn’t date him!”

“Oh my goodness we click so well, his moon is Pisces and so is mine, we’re soulmates!”

“You can’t even date in this city without knowing your big 3 (Sun, Moon Rising sign)”.

These statements and many more suggest the need for counselors to engage clients in discussion of their beliefs, especially when they may have limited knowledge but are still using it to make serious decisions. One of the many benefits I have found in infusing astrological discussion into the counseling relationship is that it can help clients depersonalize the negative traits and look at themselves more objectively; it also helps them see the positive qualities embedded in the challenges. Just as in narrative therapy we ask a child to give the anger a name and externalize it so that he isn’t shameful but rather can work more consciously with that part, astrology offers clients these archetypal understandings of their challenges and allows them to work with it without shame and embarrassment.

As I said, I’ve been deep in the world of astrology for over twenty years, and a licensed professional counselor for twelve, but only in the last few years have I more openly embraced the benefits of bringing them closer together in the counseling context, and it’s had surprisingly positive response! For me, it has infused my practice with a fresh way to talk about attachment, archetypes, and the personality and behavioral challenges clients come to counseling for help with.


Archetypal Perspective

Carl Jung’s interest in astrology and its relevance to the archetypes is easily accessible with a little bit of astrological information. From an archetypal perspective, everything we encounter has a quality. Everything is stamped with the energies of life that make up that moment. Each moment is but a microcosmic experience of a larger macrocosmic archetypal story line. What I mean by this we’ll explore with an example of a love story: two lovers meet and fall in love, yet there is of course a struggle or barrier. The girl’s mother doesn’t approve of him, and she is young and torn, still very influenced by her family she decides to end it. She regrets this decision and tries to get back together but he cannot, they are both deeply heartbroken. This story has been played out so many times, of course the details are different, but the overarching theme the same. This is well depicted in all its drama as Romeo and Juliet, the star-crossed lovers. This is but one archetypal story that make up our human existence. Every experience we have has happened in some unique way for others many times throughout history. We are sharing in the stories of life itself, living and breathing through us. The energies of life are also clearly dramatized in mythology, we relate more to some characters than others, as those are the stories we embody more acutely.

These themes are present in movies, books, and all throughout history. When we come to see that every moment of time is a reflection of some combination of archetypal energy, we begin to experience ourselves and the world differently; we become more vitally alive, more present with life as it expresses itself through us and we connect back through time and history to all the people who also walked through our stories. Understanding this larger view can help clients with existential anxiety and broaden the experience of life into a more interconnected, intergenerational life experience.

Most important to me when I am working with a client interested in the spiritual dimensions of life, is to help them see that they are inextricably connected to the natural world, to the patterns and processes of life. In my book, I discuss astrology in relation to the seasonal patterns and to the lifecycle. It is so important for those experiencing existential isolation, anxiety, and disconnection to be able to see and feel that they are a part of the pattern of life, they are not forgotten. We literally cannot be separated from all of life. With this understanding, comes a connection and trust that whatever is happening in their world is a part of the cycles of life just as surely as the sun rises and sets and the seasons come and go. From that perspective, more trust in the process of life can develop. With trust, comes new perspectives where one can ask, what am I learning from this experience? What is this showing me? In what way is this challenging me to grow or heal? How can I rise to the occasion of expressing the higher energy? From this perspective the client can move into a trust and connection with life and look at oneself with a growth-oriented mindset. From the archetypal perspective, the client is moving through their own mythological story, one chapter at a time and embodying the necessary energies and gaining the needed skills for the next phase of their journey. For me as a clinician, if my clients can leave with that attitude towards life, I have helped them gain invaluable skills to approach any future challenges that may arise. This is one of the most important outcomes of therapy: self-sufficiency.


Astrological Basics- The Elements

In applying this knowledge, in a clinical or educational setting, I often discuss the elements because these are understandable to everyone, even children! In fact, many children’s books and movies have themes revolving around the elements (Ninjago, Avatar: The Last Airbender and for those old enough to remember Captain Planet). Every sign has an element it is associated with. There are 4 elements in astrology: Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Each element has 3 astrological signs. It is easier to think in terms of elements rather than signs because everyone, including yourself, already understands the nature of these elements we interact with every day.

Fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

In simple terms, Fire is expressive and passionate, yet sometimes temperamental and forceful in doing things their way. There is also an impulsivity in fire, a “spark” if you will. This is simply a part of being a fiery passionate person, both the benefits and challenges. A person with a lot of Earth is going to be grounded, slow to change and reliable. They aren’t going to jump excitedly on new ideas as they prefer the tried and true. Thus, they might frustrate others who find them to be “stuck in their ways”. Yet, by honoring what has come before, they hold the safety of stability which again points out the benefits and challenges that are inherent in the quality of the element. A Water dominant person will show a lot of fluidity, flexibility, and intuition. Others sometimes find them not reliable, as they flow with what they feel in the moment. Yet, often they are in tune with the subtle changes of energy and notice slight shifts in others moods. Lastly, the Air signs are cerebral, analytical and enjoy factual knowledge. They often are highly sociable, likeable, harmonious and blend well with others, but can tend to lose themselves easily in that blending. Astrological thinking is different than the linear thinking we are used to, it is more circular, relational, and metaphorical.

An important concept to understand, is that each planetary body is in a sign. What we typically think of as our astrology sign is just the “Sun sign”. There is a Moon sign, a Mercury sign, a Venus sign and so on. Sometimes, people don’t relate to their Sun sign. This is why looking at the elements, we can say this person is “fire dominant” even if they are not a fire sign. To read this in a chart would take more in-depth astrological training and is beyond the scope of this article. However, what I can teach here is that some planets move faster and some slower. The Moon moves the fastest and therefore is the most unique from person to person – it is the most personal. In astrology, it represents the emotional self, how we react instinctually to life. Often, it can show qualities of the childhood, home, mother or father. This is one of the most important placements in a chart regarding a person’s personality. It is an easy and accessible part of astrology for discussion. It can illuminate what type of coping mechanisms might be most beneficial for clients. Under stress, a Fire Moon might do best to call a friend or do something strenuous to outlet the energy; whereas, a Water Moon might be better to write a poem or listen to a song. An Air Moon, might get out of the house and talk to others or go for a bike ride; whereas, an Earth Moon might be happier to get out in nature, read a book or take a bath. This type of knowledge helps clients claim the positive aspects of their personality and see how it is directly related to their challenges, as the struggles and gifts always come together. Understanding their nature more fully can assist them in managing their needs in a more conscious way.


Ethical Considerations in Application

One thing I pay attention to when using astrology with clients is when they use it as a reason for being stuck in a negative behavior. “Well, I’m a Taurus, so I can’t help but procrastinate”. I often talk about higher and lower uses of an energy. For example, a fire can burn down an entire forest, which is devastating, yet it is also fire that warms us on cold nights, cooks our foods and brings us together in community. There is a balance point of understanding the self, the energies we are (both their gifts and challenges) and holding ourselves accountable to taking steps towards higher expressions of ourselves.

It is important that we as humans acknowledge the difficulty of gravity, the struggle to get up from the destructive aspects of these forces into their higher expression. Self-compassion can be particularly important when a person is struggling against a negative use of an energy that they cannot yet transform. Often these patterns of use are long standing and multigenerational. For example, the Water energy can be emotionally manipulative, often playing the victim or using emotionality not to take responsibility for their part. Encouraging people, even if they cannot yet control it in the moment, that they ARE making good progress in being able to see it in hindsight. There is a huge gap between cognitive understanding of these concepts and the application. Learning cognitively, that as an Earth person, they tend to be stubborn and recognizing that is they bring stability, is very different then in the moment learning to be more flexible. The behaviors can take time to follow the mental understanding. A helpful metaphor is that we are “shining the light of consciousness”, this is the most important intervention. Even if you cannot change the behavior at all, it is okay! Just don’t look away, don’t go into unconsciousness, denial and acting without awareness. Stay with the behavior and notice it consciously, witnessing (not judging) the self, if possible, but rather acknowledging the energies at play. The more we can keep the light of consciousness focused on the behavior the more it will naturally begin to change.

Another important element to address with clients, is that many of them are gaining astrological information from YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and other social media sites. Sometimes these are predictive or “worst case scenario” fearmongering. Often, they are broad brush stroke statements which are stated as facts and not one of many possibilities. Many times, I have encountered clients who have sought me out after having a psychic reading or other predictive service that scared or upset them. I do not recommend any type of prediction as I believe this is disempowering and ultimately harmful to clients.

Even seasoned astrologers lack the ethical training therapists receive. They may feel they are being helpful to the client by warning them of impending doom next year, meanwhile our client with a serious anxiety disorder has now found a new focal point of tension. For me, this is why it is so important that we can engage clients in these conversations who are interested in astrology and are ingesting this information elsewhere. Helping clients to release predictive and future seeking interpretations and exchange it for a deepening relationship with the source of life. Engaging them in learning to trust themselves and their ability to navigate and grow through experience. Ultimately assisting clients in understanding the dynamic play of archetypal energies as expressed in the people and scenarios in their life, seeing themselves as the main character in their own great story. Thus, they can show up to life with determination, strength, and integrity as they walk through their stories which are the essence of life itself.


Galeet Farrow is a licensed professional counselor and approved clinical supervisor. She is an author and Associate Faculty at Prescott College where she developed the Sacred Psychology emphasis in the undergraduate psychology dept. She is currently developing a therapist training model in Microchakra Psychology in conjunction with its creator. She serves clients in private practice and offers training and workshops to those interested in this and similar topics. Contact her at yourstarswithin@gmail.com or visit yourstarswithin.com




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