E520B Calling and the Soul's Transformations

It is a narrow view of soul that confines it to the individual and the world of the personal psyche. What is the intersection of individual and universal soul?  One name is magic. Another is a calling.

Instructors; Joseph Crane and Enid Newberg (6-week course)

The essence of the soul’s journey is the discovery of a larger sense of who we are and how we live in the world. The experience of being "called" asks that we trod the difficult path to transform ourselves and our world. Whether or how we act upon that call that is our soul’s “vocation.” There is an entire cultural history around these universal experiences.

For astrologers, we will work with the many expressions of soul – including material – within astrology’s symbolism, and will see how natal charts can depict one’s calling.

We’ll also explore varieties of transformation through ritual, art, and nature. Finally, we’ll look at our role within our society and its many expressions of living together – cultural, social, and alas, political. We explore roles of the person within culture, society, and history, roles that can be soul-diminishing or soul-expanding.

The first two classes uncover the soul’s sense of calling and how we fall from that calling, and how we return, from the viewpoint of astrology, philosophy, religion, and art. The three classes that follow are about transformations of soul and world, first looking at alchemy from traditional and modern interpretations, then ritual, magic, and art. The final class is on the soul as inclusive, belonging to nature and to our current society and culture – including its politics.

Calling, Fall, Return

What is calling?

It is one of the most important activities and expressions of soul. Some individuals act early upon their calling and carry it out successfully – but they are often the exceptions. Indispensable seems to be an awareness of the larger world in which we live and our potential impact. We must take the first step of moving from the personal to the global – or cosmic – and appreciating that we can make a difference in the larger world. The symbols of astrology provide a template for this process.

Is it part of the soul’s nature to fall and return?

In modern thinking, the “call” is away from unconscious conformity and habitual thinking and behavior and moves us toward authentic being, a process that can occur many times in our lives. The traditional metaphor, however, is cosmic and personal – the soul descends from the heavens downwards and lands on earth; and return is a literal journey back upwards through the heavens. We will compare different approaches from long ago that have strongly influenced our understanding today, that are part of our “cultural DNA”.

Transformations of Soul and World

The next weeks survey the journeys of transformation.

First, by looking at the many traditions and interpretations of alchemy that transforms the world’s matter and the individual soul simultaneously. We’ll note hermetic traditions and Jungian interpretations and focus on the Alchemical Marriage of the Sun and Moon as emblematic of the reconciliation of the soul and the world. Alchemy is both psychological and spiritual process, one that works directly with the processes of nature.

We then survey a universal and primordial form of the human soul’s self-expression: ritual. We’ll compare the solar motion upwards with the lunar motion that utilizes material at hand for purposes of transformation and inclusion into a world of divinity. We’ll touch upon ritual practice and theory multiculturally from Eastern Tantra to Western Theurgy (“god-making”) to modern neo-pagan practices that many of us do. What are the ritual elements in music and the arts? 

And finally we look at magic and the magical practices of astrology, and showing connections and distinctions between sympathetic and ceremonial magic. The Renaissance gave us an oasis in time when magic and astrology and philosophy fused to create the strongest expressions of soul within the Western tradition. In particular we’ll look at Marsilio Ficino’s juxtaposition of traditional astrology and sympathetic magic to encourage his students to live in greater concord with the heavens. We’ll also survey Ficino’s rendering of the role of music and dance in the cultivation of soul.

The Included (not Occluded) Soul

The final week surveys responses to the feeling that the soul belongs to something larger than itself. There are profound traditions, East and West, traditional and modern, of nature as the primary means of enhancing soul – and of degrading nature as the means to diminish soul.

How does our being in human community – societal, cultural, political, and global – enhance or diminish soul? How does place enhance or diminish soul? And what about people? Does not our cultural and political life also represent a calling from the cosmos? Is this also how the soul can feel most alive? Can astrology help us understand how this applies to us personally?


The required book is: 
Cousineau, Phil, Soul: An Archeology. (1994) Harper/San Francisco

This book has a large number of excerpts from works from ancient through modern times that all relate to different perspectives on soul. Many of these excerpts will be on the reading lists for all three of these short courses on soul (E520A, E520B, E520C).

The soul’s crises and cultivations are one of the reasons we work with astrology. And this concern for the soul has been part of astrology throughout its history. E520 is a three-part program that is the most comprehensive treatment of soul and astrology offered anywhere. It traces the connections between our ideas about soul in philosophy, religion and astrology, through Western and Eastern history and practice. It will introduce you to a range of perspectives and applications that can aid in living a good life and help sustain the spirit through life's transitions.

 No prerequisites, just an interest in astrology and exploring your own and other's deep philosophical and spiritual questions about soul