Relating by Liz Greene: could it possibly be the best ever astrology book?
Life is often unfair and unjust – it seems that Relating by Liz Greene, the astrology classic from 1977, is out of print. At the time of writing (June 2019), it only appears to be available on Amazon (and presumably anywhere else) in second-hand condition (and at some exorbitant price if new). This is unfortunate, since Relating by Liz Greene is possibly the most accomplished astrological text of the past fifty or so years.
OK then, I’ll admit that I’m biased, but I don’t think it too much to claim that it is – at least – the ultimate work on so-called psychological astrology. This hybrid is largely based on the insights of Carl Jung into the complex and often unpredictable workings of the human psyche. If, as US astrologer Robert Hand has stated, the birth chart is a ‘map of the psyche’, then clearly there ought to be an interface for both modern psychology and astrology. One that can successfully illuminate both subjects. This interface turns out to be Liz Greene’s Relating.
However, some people at my local astrology group are even a little sniffy about psychological astrology, reckoning that the traditional event-based astrology (as with making detailed predictions) is the only valid one. But this is like the modern physicist ignoring the obvious ‘mystical’ implications of quantum physics as they shout, ‘forget the waffle -just show me the math’. May I remind you that when a quantum experiment shows that one subatomic particle ‘knows’ what its ‘twin’ is doing when separated by vast distances, it suggests that information gets around the Universe in ways we don’t normally consider. And that it may be time to reconsider our views.
And so, the old ‘predicting events’ approach to astrology forgets that such interpretations always have as their basis the ‘inner’ psyche – there is no world at all without Consciousness. It is common knowledge that Carl Jung, the brilliant Swiss psychologist who did so much to illuminate our inner selves, was deeply interested in (and impressed by) astrology. For anyone who ever wondered how the unconscious mind works, or even the ancient art and ‘science’ we call astrology, then Relating (subtitled: An Astrological Guide to Living with Others on a Small Planet ) is the classic work to have. One that should be in the possession of any self-respecting astrologer.
Relating made an enormous impression on me whilst figuring out, back in 1983, just how all this Jungian psychology stuff connected to the horoscopic art. It was a theme I developed for my own book Jungian Birth Charts (Aquarian Press, 1988) and, in fact, I couldn’t have written it without Greene’s superb text. To this day, I always think of both astrology and depth psychology as essentially the same.
The Jungian scheme of typology, his theories about the Collective Unconscious and the phenomenon of Synchronicity – and astrology’s planets and signs (indeed the aspects as archetypes) – are like two sides of the same coin. In other words, you can’t have one without the other, because the chart also points to psychological factors (disguised as ‘planets’) in the psyche. These often remain unconscious, working away to undermine the individual ego, and hence one’s life in general.
In particular, astrology points to the phenomenon of psychological projection, which Greene likened to ‘an image projected onto a screen’, whereupon we ‘look at the image and respond to it, rather than examining the film or transparency … which is the real source of the image.’ She explains that ‘when a person projects some unconscious quality within himself onto another person he reacts to the projection as though it belonged to the other; it does not occur to him to look within his own psyche for the source of it.’ Significantly, she adds, such a person will ‘treat the projection as though it existed outside him’.
This is the real Law of Attraction – we draw on qualities in others that we’re ignorant of in ourselves. And so there are hidden, recondite elements at work in the greater psyche, ready to trip us up, or flood the ego with emotions it cannot handle, or simply bring out the worst in us when we were trying to be good.
Relating and ‘Know Thyself ‘
The message in both astrology and Jung is also the same: know thyself. Both disciplines provide the opportunity for greater self-awareness – at least for those who are capable of it (and there lies the rub). Essentially, astrology and Jungian psychology require a new pair of eyes – you need to be able to ‘see’ how the symbolism works and – moreover – see just how universal archetypes are fundamental to human psychology, indeed, life in general. The ones who won’t get it are the materialists who cannot conceive of the source of life as anything other than ‘things’, made of matter.
Archetypes are all of life’s ultimate ‘building bricks’ that aren’t made of matter – they are what we can’t do without, what we are left with when we’ve run out of explanations. Let me explain. ‘Love’ is a universal archetype. Any and every explanation for why love exists will always fall short, certainly any from neuroscience, neo-Darwinism, or sociobiology. We simply cannot make any definitive statement about it. All we know is how it touches us, how this seemingly external force enters into us, lives through us. But we certainly cannot exist without it – and this is the point. Love is just a fact of life. It’s an archetypal experience. This is the Jungian approach.
Greene covers all of the chief Jungian archetypes which have substitute astrological symbols. The Shadow, our ‘Mr Hyde’ aspect, is to be found mirrored in the planetary archetype of Saturn, for example. We also get a clear idea of just how we operate in personal relationships, through Jung’s concept of the Anima and Animus – the archetypes which make us fall in love. Essentially, the Anima (female) and Animus (male) are the unconscious images of the ‘ideal partner’ propelling us into relationships with people who embody its qualities.
All of this sounds like it might be a little dry and technical, but Greene’s textual style has a nice, semi-academic flourish. As already stated, Relating is one of the best astrology books you can buy, certainly for its profundity and erudition – you’ll come away much wiser about yourself once you’ve finished reading. It’s even pretty accessible for those with only limited astrological knowledge, and there is nothing here to alienate the astrological beginner.
The plaudits found on the rear cover of the original paperback version (published back in the day by Coventure) are wholly justified, one from Horoscope Magazine reads: ‘If you only read one astrology book this year … make it Relating. Even if you plan to read only one book of any kind this year, Relating would still be an excellent choice.’
You may also like Simple but devastating: The Power of Now
My website is: www.astro.nu
Cover image (fair use)/Liz Greene image (Creative Commons license)
Relating can be obtained here
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