Astrology by Stephen Arroyo

Stephen Arroyo’s “Astrology, Karma, and Transformation” was the first substantive book on astrology I read, and I was fortunate to have discovered his writing very early in my studies. Even as a novice, it was fairly obvious that Arroyo was a special astrologer, and a careful writer who took great pains to make sure he got his point across as unambiguously as possible.

A number of reputable astrologers with thriving professional practices have arrived at astrology by way of psychology and related disciplines. They bring to astrology a certain understanding of the human condition seen up close that grounds their work in the material of real life. Stephen Arroyo is one such astrologer, who obtained a Master’s degree in psychology, and wrote his Master’s thesis on integrating astrology and psychology. That he had the courage to attempt this for an M.A. in Psychology immediately made a big impression on me.

His book, “Astrology, Psychology, and the Four Elements: An Energy Approach to Astrology and Its Use in the Counseling Arts” arose out of his thesis, and established a pioneering synergy between two fields that were essentially tied at the hip. It was not that Arroyo was the first to explore the connection between astrology and psychology, for even Carl Jung had written about it decades before. Rather, Arroyo was one among several psychological astrologers who was laying out the symbiotic relationship between these fields to a new audience.

In Arroyo’s writing I discovered an honesty and earnest appeal that went beyond technicalities. In his, “The Practice and Profession of Astrology”, he flails at the extreme lengths to which astrologers had gone to accommodate every point of view as a credible theory, no matter how absurd, in a misguided attempt to be “holistic” and “inclusive”:

“We should be broad-minded! But broad-mindedness, tolerance of other people’s views, is not the same thing as a naïve, almost fanatical open-mindedness with no discrimination. It does seem to me that there is a great need for a strong dose of self-analysis and discrimination in the astrology field today.”

It appeared that he was building a bridge, helping me cross the open waters that divided science and astrology, because he recognized the scientific rigor of questioning and analysis was still essential, even if one were to be working with material that was not technical in nature. His writing was simple, yet extremely powerful. Often I would reread paragraphs from his books, and newly appreciate the key insight in his words. For instance, he writes this in his “Astrology, Karma, and Transformation”, about the astrological symbolism of the planet Pluto:

“The great energy of Pluto comes from a source that is not at all obvious and which we might call transcendental. This is the reason that Plutonian energy always manifests in terms of opposites, for that which is truly transcendent can only be understood by ordinary consciousness in terms of opposites: the light and the dark, the joy and suffering, the spectacular show followed by the inevitable backlash.”

As if to correct the balance of his writing which generally leaned toward weighty issues such as karma, Pluto, fear, and so on, he wrote a later book called “Exploring Jupiter: An Astrological Key to Progress, Prosperity, and Potential.” Jupiter is the expansive optimist of the planetary cabal, and is bang in the midst of the action whenever life is being lived to the full. While light-heartedness is not one of the chief traits in Arroyo’s work, his writing did fall under the spell of Jupiter in sufficient measure for him to say:

“Jupiter’s boundless enthusiasm appals Saturn and leaves him incredulous at such a perpetually positive attitude.”

You don’t need to be an astrologer to understand the time-worn duality at play: the gregarious bon vivant who is forgiven his trespasses while his play-by-the-rules friend assiduously paints inside the lines; the eternal optimist who effortlessly invokes benevolence while her conscientious friend works hard to be deserving; the risk taker who is prone to gambling while his pragmatic companion lays a cautioning hand and keeps a careful eye on the checkbook.

“In essence, Jupiter may be regarded as living proof of the power of positive thinking. If one radiates open-minded, tolerant, high-spirited joy in living, it does tend to attract positive responses in return.”

Relationships are a predominant concern for all of us, and the horoscopes of the individuals in a relationship can be compared, matched, and overlaid on one another to provide the kind of insight into a relationship that can be surprisingly insightful. Arroyo was a master at relationship astrology (not surprising at all, considering he had Sun in Libra!), and brought a deep understanding of human relationships to the fold. He writes about his approach to relationship counseling using astrology in “Relationships and Life Cycles; Modern Dimensions of Astrology”, which I appreciate for its simple power.

“This is also true of the opposition of Mercury to Mercury. They think, ‘Gee, it’s always so much fun to talk to you,’ but they’re not always communicating. They’re just getting a kick out of that stimulation, but wait until they have some problems and have to iron out their problems by being logical and by really communicating and listening. That’s where the Mercury-Mercury squares and oppositions get much more problematical.”

This Mercury-Mercury opposition that Arroyo describes is generally overlooked in the astrological analysis of compatibility. After all, isn’t it small fry compared to the much juicier inter-aspects that involve the heavy-hitting outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, or at the very least Saturn? Yet, anyone who has been in a long-term relationship understands how truly important it is to have a healthy, ongoing communication with the partner, to know not just when to talk and when to listen, but also how to understand and make oneself understood.

Over time, I have come to truly appreciate Stephen Arroyo’s back-to-basics approach to astrology, the ability to boil circumstances down to the essentials when confronted with the complexity of human life. His approach to dealing with life’s vagaries is to use astrology to illuminate the essential underlying themes, and work on them with full awareness, repeatedly, until you can arrive at a place of equanimity.

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