This week, as a bonus class for the intermediate astrology class I’m teaching, I offered my thoughts on how to connect with intuition while working with the often overly analytical process of chart delineation.
I started off with an exercise.
I asked the class participants to choose a particular detail of their chart that they’d like to work on, such as the Moon in its sign, or any planet, point, or transit in a sign or house. It could be a part of their chart that they really love, something that gives them difficulty, or just an area they wanted to get some insight into. But nevertheless, something simple and straightforward, not any more complicated than a planet in a sign or house.
After giving them a minute to choose something, I asked them to write it down on a piece of paper.
And then I asked them to spend five to ten minutes contemplating that and writing a haiku about it.
I knew that would be the response.
Just to remind them, in case they hadn’t written a haiku since third grade, I explained that haiku is a Japanese poetic form and is counted by syllables: 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables.
I also offered the choice, for those more verbose, to write a waka, which is 5-7-5-7-7.
Then I discussed how poetry, meditation, and intuition can help us better understand the process of chart reading.
Here are some of the poems we came up with, including several I wrote. I am including the transcript of the talk I did, and also an mp3 recording as well.
Moon in Leo
Poor Moon in Leo
Can’t get no satisfaction
Married that Pluto
–Debbie Jacobson, Path to Transcendence
Moon conjunct Jupiter in Capricorn
Find light in winter
Find darkness in the summer
And peace in them both
–Jason Lenzini, Osiris Ascending
Moon in Taurus in 8th House
Lovely truth secretly dancing alone
Life death rebirth gripping tightly
Stable basis for every breath
I walk in the shadows of mystery
Light grasps my wrists feeling whole
–Heather Rose, Enchanted Rose, LLC
Mercury in Aries in 8th House
quick fire burns hotly
moving fast thru my lifes blood
–Beth Rennie, BethRennie.com
And these are by me:
Mars in Sagittarius
Warrior and archer
Arrows loosed and blood rises
Saturn in Sagittarius
The old man slowly
Asks the teacher to repeat
Mercury Rx in Virgo
The wrong road taken
The poet counts syllables
To get back on track
I used to write a lot of poetry I don’t so much anymore honestly but I still do a lot of that kind of creative writing and I always loved writing sonnets. And I did not make you guys write a sonnet, so be very grateful and very thankful. And so sonnets are fourteen lines and have a particular rhyme scheme. There’s two styles. There’s the Shakespearian and the Petrarchan. So they’re a little more complicated. They have to have a certain rhythm. They have to have a certain rhyme scheme and there’s a structure to them, either one of those two. It has to be the four quatrains and a couplet or else it has to be the octave and the sestet or whatever they call it, sextet, something like that, but there’s eight lines/six lines format and then there’s a three four line with a couplet format. It’s been a long time.
B: I just totally went somewhere else in this conversation. My idea of writing is I just sit down in front of the computer and start going “doodoodoo” [making sounds of typing]. It has no structure whatsoever.
Joy: So, well, and it’s funny—that style of poetry, when you follow a particular rhythm, a particular meter, which is the rhythm of the line in a particular rhyme scheme, that’s called Formal Poetry, is what they call it or sometimes they call it metric verse. Formal poetry is how I learned it. And so you’re a formalist if you write that kind of poetry. But now apparently, I was Googling this stuff because why Google anything about astrology when I can just look up poetry. So I was Googling all this stuff before class and apparently there’s now called New Formalism or Neo-Formalism and that’s got like some kind of…I don’t know, apparently that’s some kind of dirty word and bad because everybody should be free form and I don’t quite get it but I’m not keeping up with the industry really so I don’t actually know. But one of the things that I discovered… To kind of give you a little bit of context, I’ve been writing poetry since I, you know, knew how to write, and then when I was getting my first bachelor’s degree, I took some poetry classes and some writing classes and then in 2000, so ten years later, I went back to a different school and got a different bachelor’s degree because when you have a bachelor’s degree in English, why not get one in theatre because that will definitely get you a job.
B: No one gets a job in their degree anyway.
Joy: So thus I’m a tarot reader. So I took a poetry class then too and got a chance to kind of go back into doing poetry again which it had been a long time since I had done it. Not a long time, I’ve always liked poetry and I had been writing a lot, but I took it in a class, which is a different way of doing it. And so had a chance to write some sonnets again and realized then at that time having done it before and having a chance to really dig into it again that there was something for me that was extremely creative and in fact liberating about being forced to stick to a formula, being forced to stick to a structure, counting the syllables, you can’t say that line because it’s too long, and I have to change it and I have to refine it and I have to reduce it. You know. You can’t say that line, it’s too short, you have to lengthen it. And follow the rhythm, follow the rhyme scheme and even though that sounds very limiting, which it is, of course I have Saturn conjunct my Sun so you guys know I love this stuff, I love having structure imposed upon me, it’s my place where I shine, it allowed more creativity for me that way than writing freeform verse, and also there was… it’s almost like a high that you get, like a little chemical, dopamine, I don’t know what the heck it is, but it’s something that gets released
B: It’s totally combining your creative, intuitive with your
Joy: with the structure.
B: with the structure, with the left brain.
Joy: Yeah, so that’s exactly what it is because it brings both of those into balance because you have the imposed structure of that left brain along with the freedom of the right brain. And again, I don’t know, I honestly don’t know if, I mean, was I always more left brain and that opened up my right brain, was I always more right brain and that opened up my left brain, or if I was always very balanced, but I’m certain that it brought me into more balance. Whatever I was. I think that process brought me into more balance. And so that’s why I wanted to share this idea with you. Doing the haiku is a simple way of doing it with the 5-7-5. And on our handout, that had two lines but a bunch of links, what I included was links to other formal styles of poetry, the sonnet, the villanelle, the sestina, and I also include a link to the haiku. Those are just some of the basic ones we learn back when we’re taking poetry classes. They all have that particular structure that has to be followed.
I think in many ways, a lot of what happens for people is that there is a “I’m going to do my right brain activities now, and here under these circumstances, and then I’m going to do my left brain activities under these circumstances.” And even when we’re trying to integrate them, it’s kind of like Heather was talking about, I want to meditate first, and then I want to do the reading, which is fabulous, and I recommend daily meditation, meditation and/or ritual work, I think that’s one of the best things that you can do, every single day to get rid of the outside stuff, connect to yourself, be aware of who you are and what your connection is to Spirit, and then have that because you’re reminding yourself of that every single day, you have that when you’re doing readings, you have that throughout the day when you’re interacting with other people, and so on and so forth, things don’t take you off balance as much, and all that kind of stuff, and then yeah, you can get in a pillow fight and then go and do a reading because you’re not like, oh, I’ve never connected with myself today or any time this week, and it’s just like, yeah, I know how to connect with myself, I do it constantly, I do it every single day, I do it morning and evening, or whatever, and then yeah, you can just step into a reading with no preparation at all and have both those sides going.
B: Isn’t the very process of having a process, though, left brain, even though it’s a right brain activity? The fact that you actually have a process is left brain? ‘Cause I mean it takes some structure
D: That makes sense. I mean, that makes sense.
B: To put it together. People don’t think
B: about it that way, but, I mean, you’re actually using both sides just by the very fact that you
Joy: Sure, yeah.
B: have a process.
Joy: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s it, I mean, the process is, in and of itself, it is an integration, absolutely.
B: People think it’s all woo-woo, but it’s not…you’re using everything you have when you’re doing all your stuff, you just don’t realize it, some people don’t embrace their right brain as much or don’t embrace their left brain as much, or they don’t know that it’s already there,
B: Even those astrologers you were saying have been studying this for twenty-five years but are uncomfortable giving a reading it’s just because they haven’t embraced the right brain information that they have they actually have it they’re just not comfortable with it.
Joy: Yeah, yeah.
B: It’s that process, that a-ha moment where, “Oh yeah, I’m already doing that, ok.”
Joy: Yeah, yeah. So, in terms of doing readings and doing this kind of work, I mean I like to look at that chart.
Well, and I’ll tie this back to that meditation thing that I was talking about before. So like Jason mentioned that he does the fourfold breath, the fourfold breathing or the square breathing, which is breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts, hold for four counts. And you can do it at your own pace, slower is a little bit better, but you gotta find your own rhythm with it. And one of the things that it does is it gets you counting the breath, so you’re not just like allowing your mind to kind of slip off into never-never land, you’re having to stay mentally focused on the count. The other thing when you just count breaths: in and out – one, in and out – two, in and out – three, that’s another one where you can just drift off. There’s one like that that I try to practice and I just invariably fall asleep or something, I mean I just can’t stay with it. But the four in, four hold, four out, four hold, is easy, you don’t have to get past four. And so it’s easy to keep with it, it’s easy to stay focused.
A lot of those meditations also will use a physical focus as well. Either focusing in on a place in the body whether it’s an energy center, or whether it’s a physical point in the body. In Reiki we do a lot of hara breathing, which is, the hara is the energy center below the naval and so we do a lot of breathing into that and just by shifting awareness to the physical position in the body, it keeps you physically connected, it keeps you connected to the body and not drifting off.
When you do mala work you’re touching a bead and you actually roll the bead back and forth between your fingers to remind yourself to stay physically present. And so no matter how much the mantra is something that will really drag you away out of your body, you have to go to the next bead so your body is engaged again and it takes you to that next bead and that’s when you’re integrating the physical body with the spiritual plane of the meditation.
Same thing with the chart reading, you have to have your analytical brain focused on to read the chart while your intuitive brain has to go out into the ether and search for the words and the metaphors and the relevance to this unique person sitting in front of you, and so it’s the exact same thing but instead of grounding it physically it’s more like grounding it into your brain.
And the same thing with tarot reading, the way I do it, which is not obviously the way everybody does it, it doesn’t have to be, when I’m looking at the cards, I do look at the cards and I do look at the images on the cards, and I do work with the actual physical illustration that’s sitting before me that I’m looking at, as well as working with the titles of the cards, and the astrological associations and the qabalistic associations and things like that, those all play into how I’m reading and so I can’t just go out and suddenly just be talking and doing a reading from somewhere else, I’m constantly bringing myself back into the groundedness of the analytical component of what are the images in this picture, what do I remember about the title of the card, about the astrological component of the card, and so on. And obviously it’s the best process for me because that’s what works best for me so it’s not going to be best for everybody.
But I also, in terms of teaching the integration of these two, the analytical and the intuitive mind, this is what I can recommend. The more that you can balance the intuitive process with an analytical process, the more balanced you can ultimately become, and the more power you can get from your tool. And the more the tool actually turns, and I’m working on a blog post on this very topic, and the more the tool turns into an instrument, which is different, because you can’t say, people are always like, you don’t need to use a tool, just do it, so I wrote, seriously, like if Yo-Yo Ma shows up at an orchestra hall and says, I left my cello in the cab, they’re like, oh, you don’t need your cello, just do it. And I actually, I said he lost his cello, and I’m like this obviously would never, I mean what famous, world famous musician would lose an instrument, so for some reason I had the idea of checking Wikipedia and it’s like, yes, he left his cello in a taxicab once! He really did! How can you do that? That’s like a parent losing a child.
B: It happens!
Joy: Lose children all the time, so anyway, yeah, I’m working on a blog post about that. Once you become really integrated that way, then you’re not just working with a tool, you’re actually working with an instrument, what you bring to this, as well as what the instrument brings to this, that creates something more than just the instrument by itself or just you by itself.
B: I will definitely remember this for next time someone says, “uh, uh, a tool”. Well, yeah…
Joy: So, um.
B: Very good explanation.
Joy: Oh, thank you. And the same thing, and obviously I used tarot because that’s the one I use more often but also I think it’s good to step away from what we’re looking at and look at something else and then step back.
So the astrological chart, which is a little bit more abstract than a tarot card, in some ways, it depends on what kind of deck you’re using, but it’s still more abstract, and it has a lot more info, like memorized info that has to be utilized. So that astrological chart, that’s what we’re working on balancing, we’re working on balancing all of that form, all of the analytical form but using that to keep us grounded just like our meditations.
They’re the beads, they’re the beads on the mala, you know, Mars in Sagittarius transiting the 6th house is a bead on a mala, and then discovering what it’s about. “Oh, it’s about anticipation, because Mars is a hands-on warrior, he wants to get into the fray, and stick a sword in somebody, but in Sagittarius, that’s the beginning of the battle.”
You watch movies, so you all know, that the warriors start moving together the first thing that happens is the arrows go. That’s the first thing that happens because the arrows move the farthest and they can hit that opposing army way sooner than you can stick a sword out and poke somebody. So when the arrows go, Mars is like, “Now the battle’s started!” But he can’t do anything yet. And that’s what Mars in Sagittarius is all about. So that’s when we use our, our, our, um, our … planet in, all of a sudden all the words go because I don’t know why.
So we use our planet in our sign as that bead on the mala and then when our imagination in that meditation runs off and wants to go somewhere, then it finds that information, like oh, this is like a warrior that’s trying to fight but can’t yet because he’s not close enough. And then we come back and we go to the next bead. And it keeps us, just like that mala, it keeps us focused, but dreaming, but then focused again.
Source: Astrology 2, Class 7 recording, Aug 21, 2016, 1:00:30 to 1:20:22.
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Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into the most active and one of the largest tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a reader and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.
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