Starting Out
By D.W. Sutton 07/28/2002

At the start of your astrological journey your thoughts and ideas about astrology tend to be vague and hazy: And the concepts you have of your unconscious 'soul' mind are probably shrouded in a vague mental fog. It is highly likely that your thoughts have been influenced by popular conceptions presented in the print and electronic media and fine-tuning these vague notions into crystal clear realities can be a challenge. Thus one of your first objectives at the start of your astrological self-awareness journey is to turn on your mental lights, clear the fog and bring these vague mental notions into focus.

Several factors influence the focus when you're taking a photo. Adjustments that consider the lighting conditions and distance influence the clarity of the image being photographed; and a similar situation occurs with a mental concept. A vague mental concept must be brought into focus and this often requires adjustments to the original concept. To bring difficult concepts into clearer focus requires much study and thought, and to enhance the clarity of a difficult concept requires creative thinking. Comprehension often occurs like a burst of sunlight on a cloudy day - but only after the necessary mental work.

Hermetic Astrology

These days life is a very dangerous and uncertain game. The newborn human soul grows and develops in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. The society in which you live is controlled by its fears and insecurities: religious and scientific deceptions abound. Hermetic Astrology is a dazzling ray of spiritual hope in an otherwise polluted and sullied global environment.

Hermetic Astrology is a totally unique life science, but at the start its uniqueness can make it difficult to understand. Twelve distinct attitudes, indicated by the zodiac signs, guide the ten dynamic (need-specific) behaviours, indicated by the planets. The unique astrological energy-pattern formed by the planets and signs in your birthchart provides a clear picture of your character or unconscious psychology; but you have never viewed yourself in this way before. Hermetic astrology provides the know-how that allows you to translate the astrological messages written in your birthchart into self-information having personal value and relevance. But at the start, Hermetic Astrology's unique way of self-learning will take a little get used to.

The Birthchart

What is the birthchart and what is the best way to view this astonishing mind-map?

The astrological birthchart is commonly defined as a map of the unconscious 'soul' mind at the time of its human birth. This means it maps, i.e. locates (as an astrological energy-pattern) the outstanding features of the soul's psychology at a definite point in time. It details the soul's psychological development up to that time. This means your birthchart provides an on-paper display of your developed psychology at the time of your human birth. It details, as an astrological energy-pattern, the thought structure of your soul. The birthchart is a rather astonishing map: a mind map that identifies your outstanding psychological features as an astrological energy-pattern. From a personal point of view your birthchart is a very reliable source of self-information.

When you look at this map you can view the dynamic forces that drive your behaviour (the planets); the attitudes that guide your behaviour (the signs); the energy mergers that influence the quality of your behaviour (the aspects); and the life-matters, activities and people that influence your behaviour (the houses).

At the start just remember that your birthchart is a very simple map. It pictures the 22 outstanding features of your psychological landscape. A map of Australia has many more geographical features and any street directory has a huge number of features. Yet a map of Australia and a street directory are easy to read when you learn how to do it. Of the 22 psychological features pictured in your birthchart 10 are dynamic features and 12 are common features and not all the common features apply.

(It is also important to understand that a street mapped in a street directory is not the actual street it denotes and that the planet mapped in the birthchart is not the actual psychological drive it symbolizes either. Maps employ symbols to locate things and your birthchart uses planets and zodiac signs to locate the outstanding features of your unconscious psychology.)

There is no need to be confused by these astrological symbols. Once you learn what each one stands for they are easy to understand. These universal symbols, and their unique personal arrangement in your birthchart, provide you with an on-paper display of your psychological landscape: They detail your lived experience and your accumulated states of consciousness up to the moment of your human birth.

It is amazing to think that something exists that precisely displays your soul's consciousness development. The birthchart is an extraordinary snapshot of your soul's consciousness structure at the time of its human birth. On the other hand it is most unfortunate that you live in age that denies your soul's existence - a materialistic-scientific age that is convinced that a vital non-material elixir of life is unnecessary to animate and explain the behaviour of physical matter. There is no science of the soul. Science denies the souls existence although there are weird rumors of a DNA created soul. Misguided material science glorifies the physical chemical and denigrates the non-physical intelligence that gives it life.

Planets and Signs

Your understanding of the planets and signs will rely heavily on your lived experience. The planets in your birthchart represent powerful unconscious desires, drives and needs and you will have to rely on your own experiences with these dynamic mental forces to understand how the planets operate in your life. You can only experience your own consciousness and you will have to rely on your experiences with confidence, indecision, joy, anger, fear and confusion (etc) to understand the thoughts, feelings and behaviours associated with each of the planets in your chart. The zodiac signs represent attitudes and deep-seated motivations. They indicate how you do something and why you do it. In your birthchart those signs where the planets (MC and Ascendant) are located attain relevance; and you will have to rely on your own experiences with how and why you do things to understand how the zodiac signs operate in your life. You can only experience your own consciousness and you will have to rely on your own experiences with enthusiasm, determination, flexibility, stability, emotion, versatility and practicality (etc) to understand the attitudes and motivations associated with the relevant signs in your chart.

Aspects and houses

Even though you regularly experience pleasure and pain - comfort and discomfort, your understanding of these two dynamics of life is most likely shallow and misguided. Any genuine life science must consider pleasure and pain and a map that details your soul's consciousness structure must display astrological factors that record its experiences with pleasure and pain. These birthchart factors are the aspects (formed by the planets). The idea that a soul can evolve its consciousness without having experiences with pleasure and pain is not an observant idea. (All life-forms experience pleasure and pain.) The aspects do add a degree of complexity to the birthchart, but once the concept of pleasure and pain, and the precise influence of each aspect, is clearly understood the self-information provided by the aspects is easier to learn and comprehend. Your lived experience has provided you with a wealth of astrological knowledge - you just didn't know it at the time; and you will have to rely on your lived experience when learning how each aspect operates in your life. Your own separation experiences, obstacle experiences, luck experiences, opportunity experiences and friction experiences will provide the real-life practical experiences with pleasure and pain that will allow you to understand the aspects and how they operate in your chart.

Your lived experience also provides a wealth of information about your external environment. In fact, it is highly likely that your knowledge of your external environment exceeds your knowledge of your internal environment. (Men, in particular, focus more on the external environment while women tend to focus more on their inner emotional selves.) The birthchart's unique way of organizing the external environment into easily identified compartments (houses) and Hermetic Astrology's clear explanation of this external environment provides a unique perspective on how your internal drives and external demands have co-produced the life you've lived and the person you've become.

The houses pictured in the birthchart detail the external (outer-world) environment and this is easy to understand because you can see, hear, touch, feel and taste this environment. Generally people have poor environment scanning skills, but Hermetic Astrology, due to the way the external environment is organized in the birthchart, permits an easy assessment and evaluation of the outer-world environment. The real problem is that most people are unaware of the very important role played by the environment in their development. They are unaware that circumstance shapes the life and that the environment provides the circumstance.

At the start a very real obstacle hindering your capacity to understand your astrology is a general lack of information regarding your psychology. There is something called human nature. This recognizes that there are certain thoughts, feelings and behaviours common to all human beings; but there is no science of human nature informing you of your own thoughts and feelings and how they influence your conduct. This general lack of understanding regarding your thoughts, feelings and impulses can slow down and frustrate your efforts to understand your unconscious psychology as pictured by your astrology. (Hermetic Astrology is in fact a superb science of human nature.)

On paper the different parts of your psychology are easily identified and seem quite straightforward. But problems do arise, especially when all the individual bits have to be integrated into a unified consciousness where one bit is strong, another bit is weak, another bit is behaving well and another bit is behaving badly. The planets and signs represent psychological features that are easy to identify. Houses represent external environments that are easy to identify but things get a little complex when a planet in a sign and house depicts an unconscious energy pattern that, to have personal relevance, must be translated into a behaviour that is doing something. It's not easy.

In the end your capacity to bring this astrological image of yourself into focus depends upon the clarity of your thoughts regarding the various bits of astrological information pictured in the chart. The hypothesis, verified by scientific astrological research, is that your developed consciousness at the time of your human birth is pictured by the astrological energy pattern displayed in your birthchart at that time. This means you can pro-actively use your birthchart to acquire factual self-information. You can translate the astrological information into self-information and use this information to make your life better. With this objective firmly held in your in your mind your hazy mental images of the planets, signs, aspects and houses will crystallize into valuable self-information that you can use to guide and control your personal development.

The Soul

Very early in your astrological studies you will move to the realm of mind - not conscious mind, but unconscious 'soul' mind: And you will have to carefully clarify your vague notions of this dynamic unconscious life force. The term 'unconscious' is used simply because the conscious portion of the mind is unaware (or unconscious) of the unconscious portion: Soul (or mind) has a conscious and unconscious portion. The mental image most people have of their unconscious 'soul' mind is usually a vague blur. And to make the most of your astrological pursuits you will have to bring your mental image of this dynamic life force into clear focus. The developing process in photography produces a visible (photo) image from a negative image and in a similar manner your mental processes need to produce clear mental concepts of your unconscious 'soul' mind from your original vague ideas.

The soul (or mind) is a dynamic, thought-built, life force. At the start (following its involution) it evolves in two environments - the physical, visible earth environment and the non-physical, invisible astral environment, and it accumulates, as states of consciousness, all the experiences it has with both environments. Both environments provide the soul with experiences that are necessary for its development. But no two souls have the same experiences. These experiences ensure the soul develops mental skills, and when it has acquired the necessary intelligence it builds and manages a human body. Your thoughts, feelings, emotions and impulses originate in your soul-mind: It is where all your experiences are recorded as memories. Your soul is an intelligent, self-organizing, body of thoughts, feelings and impulses and it is a glorious privilege to be born a human soul.

The brain is simply a reception centre for information coming in from the external physical environment and the internal astral-soul environment. It permits the soul to process all the information coming in via the physical senses and to initiate an appropriate response. The brain is a brilliant biological creation, but the intelligence that built it, and then directs and manages its biochemical activity, is simply astonishing. The nervous system, brain and endocrine system allow the soul to control and direct the body's electrical and biochemical processes. The brain's sophisticated electrochemical activity allows the soul to experience self-consciousness: And self-consciousness allows you to become aware of your own existence - a significant and glorious development in your evolution. Self-consciousness allows you to think and feel - it allows you to consciously recognize and know your unconscious thoughts, feelings and impulses. Your soul is the source of your thoughts, feelings and impulses, thus all your behaviours, whether constructive or destructive, are natural to you.

As a source of self-information the birthchart is your most valuable possession. It details the structure of your mind-energy system and the strengths and weakness in your system. Hermetic Astrology explains what you can do to correct the weaknesses and enhance the strengths.


Concentrated mental effort (deep thinking) is required to comprehend hard to understand concepts. Your starting point is your current level of understanding. The following thoughts and concepts can be used to guide your efforts.

The first thing to remember is that your unconscious 'soul' reality is influenced by the inner-world astrological environment and Hermetic Astrology clearly explains this environment. Your soul is made of astral (thought) substance. It resides on the astral plane where it is influenced by the astral plane's thought environment. The astral energies radiated by the planets and zodiac signs are the outstanding features of this dynamic thought-environment. Each planet radiates an astral frequency that corresponds to a particular thought and feeling. An aggressive unconscious thought for example is reproduced in the brain as an electrical impulse (thought) having the same frequency as Mars. On a more practical note Hermetic Astrology reveals how you can make your life better. The idea that you can use astrology to enhance your personal development must neutralize self-defeating fatalistic notions that encourage self-destructive behaviours like helplessness, despair and despondency.
The planets indicate dynamic unconscious urges that drive your behaviour; the zodiac signs indicate attitudes and motivations that guide your behaviour; the aspects indicate mind-energy mergers that influence the quality of your behaviour and the houses indicate the people, activities and life-matters that influence your behaviour. And while Hermetic Astrology provides clear theoretical explanations of these four factors your lived experience provides the practical evidence that will allow you to understand how the planets, signs, aspects and houses operate in your life.

In other words you can't rely solely on Hermetic Astrology to explain who you are. Your lived experience provides very important practical information that you must access when translating your astrology into meaningful self-information. The self-information provided by the birthchart must be validated by your lived experience; and the self-information provided by your lived experience must be validated by your astrology. Your astrology and your lived experience are both valuable sources of self-information.

To make the most of your astrological studies you will have to bring your concepts of the planets, signs, aspects and houses into clear mental focus. This means you will have to constantly fine-tune your original concepts. You should employ creative imagination with practicality when clarifying your concepts; and you should develop a critical, questioning attitude.

Those people who deny or ignore their astrology (and most people do) are the ones most likely to blindly replicate its energy pattern as a lived experience - usually with adverse consequences. And while some people are afraid of the future, others have no interest in knowing what their future holds, but astrology does not predict inevitable events.

At the start it is important to develop a sense of order and sequence about your study plan. Every time you look at your birthchart realize it is a 100% reliable source of self-information and that you can use this information to maximize your personal development. When your skills permit you should start to create a vision or mental image of the 'you' pictured in your chart. You should then create a vision of your future-self - a vision that should motivate your personal development.

Endnote: Hermetic Astrology very often presents a personal challenge. It categorizes behaviour as constructive or destructive. A beneficial behaviour has productive outcomes and a destructive behaviour has adverse outcomes. Such knowledge presents an invitation to behave better. Whether you accept the invitation is a matter of personal choice. The consequences of your bad behaviours will have to be confronted sooner or later; and the need to choose between a selfish or altruistic lifestyle can present a personal crisis. The decision to live a more productive, altruistic lifestyle usually marks a major turning point in the life. The life will then experience the satisfaction and happiness that is the natural outcome of meaning and purpose, but will not necessarily run smoother. Whatever your code of conduct your life will always encounter problems.