Experiential Astrology

Experiential AstrologyFrom the Map to the Territory

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Pages:228 pages


Experiential Astrology revisions the horoscope as a map to access and experi­ence the autonomous forces represented by the planetary symbols and the twelve archetypes of the zodiac. By changing the traditional terms of “planets, houses and signs” to Forces, States and Styles, the author invites you on a journey through the celestial language to discover the very heart of the human condition. Experiential Astrology features interpretive techniques culled from over thirty years of astrological study and practice including: The Nodal Axis, the Four Asteroids, Chiron, Transits, Yods, T-squares, Grand Crosses & Grand Trines, Planetary Forces as Sexual Realities & much, much more...

Read an Excerpt

The Embodiment Bias
of Experiential Astrology

Numerous systems of astrology exist throughout the world and almost every culture has its own star-mapping system informed by its history, mythology and cultural bias. Due to so many cultural and religious differences, these astrological systems often disagree and even find fault with each other. The system I have been studying and practicing since 1985 is Western Tropical Astrology. As a European born in Finland and raised in eastern Canada and in California, Western Tropical felt like a good fit.

As a 12th house Scorpio Sun conjunct Scorpio Ascendant, I enjoy exposing and exploring the contraries within human nature, not as dualities but as complex expressions of a larger changing totality. I view each astrological sign and planet as having a bright side and a dark side, its brilliance and its shadow. I also assume that all twelve signs exist within each individual as different facets and dimensions of personality at various degrees of expression and latency. We may be more multi-faceted than we think or, more to the point, we may be more multi-faceted than we can think.

I don’t believe the planets control our fates. I interpret planetary symbols in the horoscope as a colorful language of living forces residing within the Body itself and in the world we inhabit. These forces seem autonomous — meaning they are not always under conscious control. More often, they find expression through us without our conscious awareness. When these forces can be recognized and accepted, they can be more consciously integrated into our personalities — if that’s what we want. These forces are symbolized by the planets, the Sun, and the Moon in the natal horoscope. Using this map to gain access to the vital territory of our actual lives forms the basis of this book and why it’s called Experiential Astrology (hereafter referred to as XA).

This book was written for those with a rudimentary grasp of the Signs, Planets, Houses and Aspects, and an eye for new ways of seeing and thinking. The origins or the ancient history of astrology will not be covered, nor will any arguments be presented for or against its academic legitimacy. Certain ideas here will contradict tradition, such as the notion that some planets are "exalted" or in "detriment" or "in their fall" depending on the sign they’re in; or that there’s such a thing as a "bad" or "horrible" chart. Nonsense! Here in the 21st century Aquarian age, these archaic ideas appear to me as symptoms of a previous Piscean Age pathological victim-bias. The aim of this book is to offer methods, insights and opportunities to test and determine the value and purpose of astrology for yourself. And, maybe, dismantle the victim archetype within you as you go.

The study and practice of XA requires critical thinking, intuition and imagination. Critical thinking can help discern the difference between the map and the territory, the chart, and the actual life it represents. Intuition supports a more direct experience of the living forces represented by the planetary symbols. Direct experience means experience minimally mediated by dogma, rigid and overly literal thinking, morality and the compulsive need to be right. When critical thinking and intuition can work together in more meaningful ways, imagination is free to explore more poetic interpretations of astrology. Sometimes an uncanny accuracy follows a more poetic interpretation, something that makes no sense to the analytical mind, yet occurs nevertheless. I3: Intellect, Intuition, Imagination.

Everyone has a bias informing how they know truth, whether they’re aware of that bias or not. In astrological language there can be at least twelve ways to know truth, symbolized by Jupiter, its house, and sign. For example, my natal 6th house Jupiter in the fixed earth sign of Taurus symbolizes how I know truth through the senses in somatic, embodied experiences and by its utility and application. This also expresses the bias behind this book. It’s a pragmatic philosophical outlook that may or may not appeal to those biased by more heavily theoretical orientations. As Taurus also symbolizes what we value and find worthwhile, whatever I find worth learning typically becomes integrated, embodied in me, and put to work.

The Paratheatre Influence

I never went to Astrology School. I confess to not always knowing why or how astrology works. Whatever I do know about astrology comes from personal experience with interpreting well over a thousand charts since 1985. I also confess to being on a parallel path of Paratheatre (group ritual work) for over forty years (refer to my book, State of Emergence, Falcon Press). Though astrology was never incorporated into Paratheatre, the universal forces symbolized in any horoscope were always present in this group ritual work where we learned to access, experience and express these forces in movement, dance and vocal creations that were often cathartic and transformative. (paratheatrical.com)

Universal forces, such as the powers of Earth, Water, Fire and Air — substances within the Body itself — are a mainstay in paratheatrical and astrological work alike. Paratheatre nurtures and expands the faculties of intuition and imagination through a series of somatic methods for "making the unconscious conscious" within a physical discipline of self-expression. Through Paratheatre, I came to experience the physical body, with its many invisible, interactive bio-systems, as the embodiment of the so-called Subconscious mind.

By accessing and expressing the internal landscape of impulses, tensions, emotions, sensations, images and the deeper ancestral and archetypal currents, paratheatrical methods opened up an internal spectrum of humanity — the beautiful and the grotesque, the brilliance and the ignorance, the love and the fear, the weak and the strong. XA encourages firsthand experience of the living forces symbolized in the horoscope. As such, this approach can be loosely defined as animistic and shamanic. Not saying I’m a shaman, though some may think so.

Throughout four decades of ongoing Paratheatre work I eventually came to understand my own chart not just as a map, but as a kind of door to a confluence of forces interacting with each other and the world beyond. This experience increased my empathy when interpreting the charts of others. I don’t just read charts but experience something of the world each chart represents. This exhausting process is also why I can only interpret one chart per day. My job as "astrologer" is all about languaging my perceptions. When words fail, as they often do, I examine the client’s natal Mercury placement for insight on how they might process information to learn how to "speak their language."

The Price of Knowledge

This is not an "Everything You Need to Know About Astrology" book nor does its author claim any final authority on the topic. Though some traditional astrological ideas are presented, this book intends to rock that boat and get you, the reader, a bit wet. A few secrets will be shared here that some may regret knowing about. Such is the price of knowledge. Whatever you know, or think you know, gets constantly tested against the greater unknowns of life itself. As all true knowledge-keepers eventually discover, the more we know, the more we realize how much we don’t know.

Gaining knowledge can be humbling that way and if it’s not, you’re still probably eating the menu instead of the meal. This is why critical thinking can be necessary for telling the difference between an idea or belief and the reality and experience it represents; the map is not the territory. In this way, XA can be used to fine-tune our BS detectors (BS also stands for Belief System).

If you can point your BS detector at yourself, you may start seeing through the BS of the world, and the BS of other people. However, some things once seen cannot be unseen. As you discover more truth about yourself, the world and others, it’s up to you to find ways to live with more truth. Truth can be cruel. Telling the truth without compassion can feel just like cruelty. Whether that’s the self-torment of not living up to some ego-ideal or torturing others with your big truths posing as "absolutes", there’s no need to make any truth more serious; truth is already serious enough by itself.

My process of reading the charts of others follows two-steps: 1) I say what I see and 2) I say what that means to me in the most honest and compassionate ways I know how. Based on client feedback, my astrological interpretations now register anywhere between a 70–80% accuracy rate. This heady percentage can easily persuade others, as well as myself, that I may be right most of time. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t like the feeling of being right most of the time. As an artist (of cinema, theatre, music), just the idea of being right most of the time makes me laugh, and then makes me nauseous. In my art life, I have come to know uncertainty as a creative state and need to remain open to unknowns just to stay creative.

Astrology can be crazy-making and the mental health of more obsessive and hyper-analytical astrologers can be at risk. To sustain my mental health, I minimize the self-delusion of "being right most of the time" by thinking of all perceptions as gambles. I rely on client feedback to determine the degree any of my interpretations are true or not for them; the customer is always right or, at least, I hope so. I also interpret everything in a chart as tendencies, not absolutes. Though some tendencies can appear strident enough to simulate absolutes, I still consider them tendencies. Those looking for absolute answers to Life’s Big Questions may be disappointed with this book. For those who can still think for themselves and have the imagination to keep dreaming, this book was written for you.

Antero Alli
Portland, Oregon

Editorial Reviews

Not only does Alli deliver a series of snappy sections treating standard techniques with real freshness; he also shares original insights available nowhere else I’m aware of. These bona fide secrets, proffered in a conversational style…add great value to Alli’s solid primer. Recommended for anyone wanting a dynamic and exquisitely illustrated guide that distills a good deal of the most useful knowledge of 20th-century astrology.

Virtual Stargazer Virtual Stargazer, "astrology in the post-mythical age"

Alli offers a view freed from the confining, overly literal tone that haunts some sectors of astrological lore. Describing astrology as a language through which we can experience the planets as living forces, he reframes astrological topics with his unique approach.

Mary Plumb Book Review Editor, The Mountain Astrologer

The book's subtitle, 'From the Map to the Territory’, recalls the work of Alfred Korzybski and General Semantics. Not surprisingly, Antero Alli had a close relationship with Robert Anton Wilson, who (I think) wrote his doctoral thesis on Korzybski, who had an abiding concern with how a merely symbolic understanding did not facilitate, and often hindered, a person’s freedom of action. You will find in Antero’s book a delightful attention to language—something missing in many astrological books—but fitting, even necessary here, given that we should move through the astrological symbols into empowered, insightful, creative action.

Tim Lyons author of Astrology Beyond Ego

Century after century, Mercury remains Mercury. The miracle Antero Alli has created in these pages is that he manages to shock us into seeing the symbols freshly. He succeeds without becoming so 'creative' that untethered imagination erases their living essence. Even if you are a seasoned astrologer, Experiential Astrology will make you feel young again, as if you were opening your first astrology book for the very first time.

Steven Forrest author of The Inner Sky

It’s amazing that Antero Alli, an astrologer who has practiced for over 35 years, has created an astrology book as fresh and imaginative and unpredicta­ble as Experiential Astrology. I, too, have practiced astrology for over 35 years, and I was continually surprised and delighted while reading Antero’s subtly revolutionary revisioning of the ancient art. His approach is emotionally intelligent, intuitively savvy, and provocative. I'm grateful for the inspiration he has offered! This book will continue to serve me well in the future.

Rob Brezsny author of Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia and the weekly column Free Will Astrology

I love reading Antero's writing because he is a true innovator. Antero reminds me how wide our perspective can be and how vast the cosmos is. And Antero is also an artist of language, a poet. Throughout the book, he casually drops bombs that combine powerful depth of perception with the creative magic of poetry.

Rick Merlin Levine Professional Astrologer

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About the Author

Antero Alli

Antero Alli is the author of Astrologik; Angel Tech: A Modern Shaman’s Guide to Reality Selection; The Eight-Circuit Brain: Navigational Strategies for the Energetic Body; Towards an Archeology of the Soul; The Akashic Record Player: A Non-Stop Geomantic Conspiracy; A Modern Shaman's Guide to a Pregnant Universe (with C.S. Hyatt); The Vertical Oracle (with Sylvi Pickering-Alli); and State of Emergence: Experiments in Group Ritual Dynamics. Antero is also a practicing astrologer, a prolific underground filmmaker, and an experimental theatre director.