The Family Inheritance – Parental Images in the Horoscope

The Family Inheritance - Parental Images in the Horoscope

Juliet Sharman-Burke

This volume offers new insights and a compassionate approach to our psychological inheritance. It explores in depth the images we carry of our parents and our experience of the kind of relationship they created with each other, which is also the kind of relationship we tend to create ourselves in adulthood. Parents are patterns, and no amount of effort can eradicate these inherent patterns which are passed down to us over generations. Rather than avoiding our roots, we must learn to understand, live with, honour, and express them as creatively as possible.

Part One, Images of Mother and Father in the Natal Horoscope, presents material on planets in the 4th and 10th houses as they reflect the individual’s perceptions of the parents in the birth chart. Family patterns associated with the planets are explored, as well as how the parental unconscious may affect children and the hidden psychological dynamics of the family inheritance which drive all of us in adulthood. Planets placed in the parental houses are carefully examined, not as a means of “blaming” one’s family background, but in terms of how they reflect the individual’s own experience of and feelings toward each parent, and how greater consciousness of these feelings and experiences can help to break destructive patterns and release creative energy for the individual. Seminar participants contribute their own experiences of planets in the parental houses, creating a lively interchange.

Part Two, Zodiac Myths and their Correlation with Parental Images, emphasises the enormous value of looking at charts through mythic eyes. This seminar concentrates on the parental signatures in the horoscope by exploring the meaning and ramifications of the zodiacal signs at the MC and the IC, and the myths associated with those signs. The myths of the zodiac are told and discussed psychologically, particularly in terms of how they reflect the images of the parents – their personalities and behaviour – as seen through the eyes of the individual. Myths are invariably embedded in and disguised by personal experience, and the discovery of the mythic backdrop underpinning the personal experience of the parents can be enormously healing, not only for the individual but also for his or her actual relationship with the parents. Group participation in the material fleshes out the archetypal images and gives direct and immediate insight into how these mythic themes are enacted in individual lives.

Review by Mary Plumb- The Mountain Astrologer, December 96/January 1997

This volume is one of the first offerings from the newly formed Center for Psychological Astrology Press. The books are edited transcripts of seminars given recently at the Center, which was founded in London, in 1983 by Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas. The books of Greene, Sasportas, and other current teachers at the Center – particularly Charles Harvey ( the current Co-Director with Greene), Melanie Reinhart and Erin Sullivan – are well-known to American astrologers and this marks the first time that their lecture material is available to a wider audience.

This is a very exciting development, particularly for those of us on this side of the pond, who have yearned for a glimpse of what transpires at the well-known school. To any reader who may be unfamiliar with their work, the CPA Press states that, “The volumes in the series are meant for serious astrological students who wish to develop a greater knowledge of the links between astrology and psychology in order to understand both the horoscope and the human being at a deeper and more insightful level.”

Juliet Sharman-Burke is an analytic psychotherapist as well as an astrologer. This book holds a basic premise the belief that one’s individual destiny of problems are intricately linked with those of the parents and that one’s unique person can develop only as those family patterns are discovered and faced.

Sharman-Burke believes that psychological concepts, theory, and archetypes need to be absorbed into the psyche to have an effect and for change in an individual to begin to occur. I think this is a great strength of this book. Having originated as a live seminar, there is an animated tone throughout, and the author’s rendering of mythic tales, as well as the vivid responses of those present, records a hint of this process of assimilation and, indeed, includes the reader as well. I was touched by the stories here, as well as visiting my own family inheritance yet again.

In Part 1, “Images of Mother and Father in the Natal Horoscope”, she gets us in the mood by telling the story of the bloody House of Atreus. Various acts of hubris, quarrels, madness, vengeance, and murder follow the family until Orestes, the grandson of Atreus, finds himself in the provocative situation where any act he takes promises dire consequences. But, act he must, and the Furies descend and begin their torture. Athene, goddess of wisdom, eventually decides that he has suffered enough for the sins of the family, grants him his sanity and frees his children from the curses which has been on his family for so many generations.

The story is told as an example of the depth of the u unconscious family inheritance. Orestes, however, begins to change the narrative when he fully faces his family curse. Here we have an intersection of astrology and psychology: Sharman-Burke believes that we can help our clients extricate themselves a bit from the u unconscious elements of the family story by helping them to see their lives in a larger context. Like Bruno Bettelheim and many others, she believes that myth and fairy tale are fertile guides for this endeavor.

Part 1 covers the MC/IC and 4th and 10th houses as indicators of parents. After briefly explaining what seems to be her consistent use of the 4th cusp for father and 10th for mother, she places the Sun in those houses, and begins to explore. How might the self-awareness and search for identity, symbolized by the Sun, be tied to the respective parent and how would that manifest? She gives examples from her own clients and her listeners give their own, often touching, impressions. The format continues with the Moon and the other planets, all considered when placed in the 4th or 10th houses.

Part 2 is entitled “Zodical Myths and their Correlation with Parent Images.” With a mention of Liz Greene’s Astrology of Fate, which she recommends to her audience, Sharman-Burke proceeds confidently through the mythic landscape. She tells stories of each of the twelve signs, including the origins of the constellations, and questions how they each might be experienced in a real parent when placed on the MC or IC. These are generous tales, told in some detail and with fresh insight. The most famous players are all here – Zeus, Hera, Prometheus, etc. – but we also meet the cloud maiden, Nephele, and Apollo’s sister Eos, the goddess of the dawn, and many more. She listens to the response, the living stories from her audience, who give pictures of their own parents. Many, again, are quite moving and deeply felt, and some sweet and funny. God-like though we may be, we are continually brought into the fertile realm of the human story.

Throughout the book there is a gracious flow between speaker and audience; she does a lovely job of probing, and yet is sympathetic to the responses, gently steering onward to cover all the material. She consistently and kindly guides her audience back to themselves and their own issues about their parents, regardless of how seemingly easy it is to project one’s difficulties.

There is much enticing material woven alongside the announced topic i.e., Sharman-Burke’s ideas about using astrology with parents for their children are particularly good. although it is a brief section in the book, her sensitivity to the unconscious patterns in a family is obviously born of an experienced practitioner.

Sharman-Burke has a warm, inviting, light touch, and she is well at home with myths and their contemporary players. I would highly recommend this book to those beginning a serious investigation of psychological astrology. Being non-technical it is suitable for beginners as well as inter-mediate students, and to all of those who are attracted to an intuitive and imaginative approach to astrology. It is rich reading for all who would agree with the author that “for our own self-development we are well advised to look within”.

Although I read the book in manuscript form, the CPA Press books are hard cover, with sewn binding and acid-free paper. It is an elegant and simple presentation.

© Copyright 1998 The Mountain Astrologer

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