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The Horoscope as Childhood Dream: the birth chart of the Research Society of Process Oriented Psychology - by Graham Ibell

posted 31 May 2014, 13:32 by Mark O'Connell   [ updated 31 May 2014, 13:36 ]

I was particularly moved and stimulated by Julie Diamond’s plenary presentation at the recent IAPOP conference in London, “From RSPOP to IAPOP – 25 Years of a Learning Organisation”. In it she shared with us the evolution of the international process work community, from its beginnings in Zurich, and as it unfolds in response to many complex layers of influence. One of these layers caught my attention – the organisation’s underlying myth, as reflected though the ‘childhood dream’. To explore this, Julie took us back to the first meeting of 44 students, teachers and analysts, who met on Sunday 7th February 1982 to discuss the forming of a society dedicated to Process Oriented Psychology.

 Although I wasn’t around then, and know very little of the history of the organisation, I became interested in this date, and what the horoscope of this moment might reveal in terms of its guiding myth. As I listened to her talk, I became captivated by the notion that a horoscope (of an organisation or a person) can be seen as a symbolic reflection of a childhood dream. So what, I asked, might the astrological chart of the RSPOP organisation tell us of it as an organisation, and how might it reflect its childhood dream, or guiding myth? 

I have drawn the chart for 8:00pm, Sunday 7th February, Zurich. This was the time that the meeting began. Clearly this is not a ‘birth chart’ in the strict sense, as the organisation was formally formed at a later date (and the chart for this would also be of interest, carrying with it other strands of the organisation’s myth), and Process Work itself, as a system, had been forming and gathering, perhaps, an ‘unofficial’ organisation for many years beforehand. This chart gives us a potent and fascinating look into the myth of the RSPOP as an international school or movement, and, I believe, into Process Work itself[1].

There are so many things of interest in this chart (above). Firstly, the Moon is in Leo – this suggests a spirit that feels most at home when involved in a central role in society, a midwife to meaning in an evolving world. A sprit that deserves to shine, wanting acknowledgement that it’s special, a child of the gods/esses. This Moon is conjunct (around the same part of the zodiac as) the Sun in C.G. Jung’s chart[2]. The Moon in a chart connects with Mother, with lineage, ancestry, hinting at a parent-child type relationship. Interestingly, Jung himself extensively researched Moon-Sun interactions in charts of couples (where they are also very common), helping him formulate his ideas on synchronicity.

There are many other interesting and telling connections with Jung’s chart, including RSPOP’s Chiron (17 degrees of Taurus) conjunct Jung’s Moon in earthy Taurus[3]. This could be seen to symbolise, in part, that RSPOP carries something of the wound that it experiences in Jung’s relationship with body/physicality and seeks to right it. On it’s own, this Chiron could represent a challenge to the organisation’s ability to relate to the sensate, material world. This is where it hurts and things seem unfair. Where the organisation feels vulnerable, and might defend or protect itself. And equally it might learn acceptance of limits and imperfections (quite a challenge to an idealistic and proud Aquarian/Leo combination) 

This Chiron in the RSPOP chart, by the way, is also conjunct Freud’s Sun[4] (16 degrees of Taurus), Carlos Castaneda’s Moon[5] (14 degrees Taurus), and Richard Feynman’s Sun[6] (20 degrees Taurus) revealing further connections with Process Work’s lineage. It also comes up in the chart of RSPOP UK Co. Ltd., formally created as a charity in 2003: it has Sun and Mercury at 15 and 16 degrees of Taurus respectively [7] 

This is an unusually striking highlighting of a very small area of the zodiac: 15-20 degrees Taurus. What’s the significance of Taurus? Taurus, being an earth sign, carries themes of the body, physicality, materiality, pragmatism. It’s a sign of centripetal consolidation, bringing things inwards in order to construct something lasting, offering a stable and secure resource. Being ruled by Venus, there is sensuality, pleasure, gentleness and beauty associated with it. Some authors link it with the Earth herself, picking up Taurus’ connection with nature, fecundity and fertility. 

With Arny’s Uranus[8] (carrying the themes of innovation, rebellion, evolution, invention, freedom from bondage, eccentricity, experimentation etc.) at 18 Taurus it seems as if these people have directly and indirectly inspired his urge to move the world forward, and change the way we view substance, the body, and how we relate to earth (Taurus). And with RSPOP’s Chiron at this same point, wisdom, grit, and realism can be forged as the organisation works with bringing some of the work of process work’s forbearers down into an imperfect and scarred world.


I’ll pick up on one other connection between the RSPOP and Jung’s charts: Saturn and Pluto are in significant relationship in both charts (and in Arny’s chart too). This relationship carries with it the themes of toughness, endurance, extreme effort and discipline and persistence, fascination with death and dying, constant urge for renewal, deep searching, the occult, the shadow, collective transformation etc. Individuals with such a configuration are often strongly drawn into probing deeply into the mysterious workings of the world. Alchemy could be seen as a Saturn-Pluto activity. 

One a collective scale, these configurations often manifest in wars or violence, as the world is forced to face its shadow. They are times of collective purge. Things get stirred up, so we may know our underbelly. In the early 1980s, during the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto that RSPOP was ‘born’ into there was massive slaughter in the Iran-Iraq war, the Falkland Island war, and the fiercest part of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.  In 2001, when Pluto and Saturn were opposite one another, we saw 9/11, and the beginning of the ‘War on Terror’. This planetary alignment affected the RSPOP chart profoundly, as it fell across a highly sensitive part of the chart (the Midheaven/IC). I was interested to hear that the organisation was audited that year, and received some damning publicity: surely this is part of its process of getting to know itself deeply.[9] 

It will be interesting to see how the organisation experiences the next Saturn-Pluto alignment of 2009-2011, another, arguably even more potent, time of deep collective change.[10] 

At the initial meeting the I Ching was consulted, and Ku, hexagram 18, was cast: “Work on That Which Has Been Spoiled”. How appropriate that the horoscope for this meeting has Virgo rising! The rising sign of an entity (organisation or person) reveals its style, how it goes through life, something of its outward personality, of its outer path through life. Virgo, the sign of the fixer, the worker bee, the assimilator, the researcher, the practitioner, sorter and healer.  Process Work must be of practical use in the world. Also, we see in the chart a connection between the Sun and Chiron, reflecting a motivation to bring light and awareness to where there is suffering and wounds. 

Julie talked of the High Dream amongst those present at that first meeting, of inclusion, that everybody should be in on it all. Democracy. It’s exciting to see the Sun in the RSPOP chart - signifying something of the highest ideals of an organisation, or it’s guiding purpose, it’s heroic calling – is in Aquarius, the sign of equality, democracy, idealism, principles, human potential, the group (as opposed to the individual – Leo), friendship etc. Sometimes linked with the myth of Prometheus, who stole fire for humans from the gods and was punished, this suggests a core organising belief in the organisation is to do good in the world, even if it risks being ostracised or misunderstood. 

This Aquarian Sun is also beautifully shown in the organisation’s lack of hierarchy, its structure being one more of a network of interconnected though independent nodes. Julie likened it to an ‘open source community’, a very Aquarian concept indeed. 

The founding meeting occurred only hours before a full moon, when Sun and Moon are directly opposite one another from the perspective of Earth. Full Moons bring the qualities of reflection, self-observation and self-awareness. It’s strongly linked with an emphasis on relationship, on seeing oneself through the eyes of another. This is an organisation that values awareness and relationship, and thus might be unable to pursue goals ‘single-mindedly’. It can also signify polarisations within the organisation, a more solar versus and more lunar attitude. 

It also reminds me of a polarisation Julie explored in her presentation: something like Process/Tao (creative, energising, spontaneous, organic, individualistic, messy) versus Society/Structure (collaboration, nourishment, accountability, rigid, impersonal). This I can see symbolised in the opposition in the chart between Moon in Leo on the one hand (Process/Tao; always following the creativity of the universe, the child-mind) and Sun in Aquarius (Society/Structure; responsible, aware of others, system-oriented). 

And, moreover, a significant planetary relationship is moving over the very positions that the Moon and Sun were in at the founding meeting: Neptune is presently between 18-21 degrees Aquarius (RSPOP Sun is 18 Aquarius), and Saturn is around 17-18 Leo (RSPOP Moon is 11 Leo). With Neptune representing our urge to connect with source, to merge with life itself, to go beyond separateness and flow with the current, and Saturn representing the principles of law, structure, limits, separation, consolidation, and material reality, one can see that this polarisation is being put strongly into the spotlight. Flow versus Structure. 

And I believe I can feel, hear and see the reflection of this in so many ways within the wider Process Work community, from the struggles to hold onto the dreaming (Neptune) as the UK programme applies for accreditation (Saturn), through the polarisation of the two schools in Poland into (in the words of one of their students) one more structured, the other more flowing, through the formation of the IAPOP, to what I’ve gathered is a fairly major ‘restructuring’ of the organisation in Portland, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. 

This Neptune-Saturn opposition is a configuration that’s been around for about 3-4 years, particularly though 2006-7. And can be seen, when looked for, everywhere. One author puts it as an alignment of disenchantment/re-enchantment[11]: a period of disillusionment, perhaps, but also one in which hopes, dreams, ideals, yearnings can be reasserted, realised, expressed in the world of form. It is interesting, though not too surprising, to see them in close relationship in Arny’s chart, and a slightly less-strong relationship in the RSPOP chart. 

And, the influence of this pairing extends to all the charts briefly discussed above, with planets around the 14-20 degrees Taurus, as Neptune and Saturn are 90 degrees (a highly significant ‘square’ relationship) from these planets in Taurus. This, to me, highlights that what is going on in the wider Process Work community at the moment concerns not only the organisation, but also something of the spirit of Process Work itself, in its connection with its roots and lineage. 

One of the last times that these two planets were in significant relationship was in 1988-1990 (a conjunction), when RSPOP relocated to Portland. Then in 1998/99 (a ‘square’, or 90 degree angle), which may also have affected the work of the organisation, as it fell on Mercury in the RSPOP chart, the planet concerned with teaching, information, communication, ideas, mental processes etc. 

At present (2007-2008) Uranus is moving across the RSPOP’s Descendant, marking a powerful, though unstable, period of transition – a time to break out, to liberate, to forge different relationships with the world, with other organisations and modalities. Here’s an opportunity for Process Work to get to know and experiment with hitherto unknown aspects of itself, particularly through the stimulus of relationship with those outside. What an appropriate time for the IAPOP conference! 

As inspired by the ideas of Geoffrey Cornelius in his seminal work ‘The Moment of Astrology’[12], I like to see a horoscope as a divinatory device. In this case, with the above chart of RSPOP we are divining for something like the spirit of the organisation, asking something like what is the organising myth of this organisation? And as I hope is clear, the chart reveals some rich and relevant answers, of which I have only just begun to unfold. Thus, through the horoscope, I feel we can get another perspective on the Childhood Dream of an organisation, a person, a relationship, or even a country. This can be both what the Dream itself may be (from the static chart), and how it might unfold over time (from the subsequent planetary movements through the chart). 

Also, I am interested in ‘Local Space Lines’, planetary vectors that circle the earth and hold the energy of that planet, particular to the person/organisation (for example the Local Space Lines for the RSPOP chart shows Neptune, the planet of Dreamland, going almost directly through Portland!) 

I’m excited by this, and plan to explore this connection further in some way in the dissertation for my Process Work training.

[1] Another crucial chart for an organisation or movement is that of it’s founder, which seems to act as perhaps the major guiding influence on the unfolding of that organisation or movement. Ie for a take on the guiding myth of Process Work and its evolution, we would study Arny’s chart. From Jungian psychology, for example, the individuation process is a strongly Solar myth, a reflection of his Leo Sun (Leo being the sign most strongly related to individuality and self-expression).

[2] C.G. Jung born 26th July 1875 NS, 18:52:50 UT, Kesswil, Switzerland.

[3] Julie mentioned the supposed Jungian’s ‘undeveloped sensation function’. This, I believe, can be seen reflected in the Moon in Taurus in square relationship with Uranus, suggesting a tendency to cut off from the body.

[4] Sigmund Freud born 6th May 1856, 6:30pm, Freiberg, Moravia.

[5] Carlos Castaneda born 25th December 1925 NS, 2:00pm EST, Cajamarca, Peru.

[6] Richard P. Feynman born 11th May 1918, unknown time, New York City, USA.

[7] The chart of RSPOP UK Co. Ltd. Has Sun and Mercury at 15 and 16 degrees of Taurus respectively (formed at 19:42 BST, 6th May 2003, Camden, London, UK)

[8] I don’t feel I can include Arny’s birth details until I have his permission or his support in this work, which is why I have kept the exploration of both his chart and the interactions with the RSPOP chart to a minimum.

[9] RSPOP UK Co. Ltd. was also formed during the opposition phase of the Pluto-Saturn cycle (2001-2003), linking it in with the themes mentioned above, as well as with the RSPOP, Arny’s and Jung’s charts.

[10] As Uranus will also be involved in the configuration. The last time this occurred was in the mid-1960s, perhaps the last time of widespread social revolution.

[11] Richard Tarnas (2006): Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a new world view, Viking Penguin, New York, USA

[12] Geoffrey Cornelius (2003): The Moment of Astrology: origins in divination, the Wessex Astrologer, Bournemouth, England.