By Daniel Giamario
Introduction by Barbara Taylor
Shamanic Astrology is an evolving system of astrology sourced and developed since 1970 out of the direct experience of founding astrologer Daniel Giamario. Since that time Daniel’s experiential and ceremonial work with the night sky has invited widespread participation, shaping and informing a philosophical and theoretical framework unique in the astrological community.
As with any paradigm,* Shamanic Astrology does not impose a rigid or mechanical approach. Rather, it is a distinct and open-ended framework that invites creativity and flexibility in future contributions to this particular field of astrological theory and practice.
As a pattern or a model, the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm has unique features that form the foundation of this particular approach to astrology. The purpose of this article is to briefly enumerate these features at their current (2015) stage of development.
A more in-depth exploration of this material can be found in The Shamanic Astrology Handbook, by Daniel Giamario with Cayelin K Castell, revised and updated in 2014.
Part 1: The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm Essential Principles
There are two underlying assumptions that inform the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm:
1. We do not incarnate into this life as a ‘blank slate’, as expressed in the idea that individuals are born without mental content and therefore all knowledge comes from one’s life experience or perception.
The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm holds that attitudes, habits, addictions, and expectations exist prior to encounters with our parents or the culture or historical time period we are growing up in. In other words, there is a (personal) nature before we experience nurture.
This nature includes DNA, family history, possible past-life material, and a mysterious “other” component which could include a karmic package separate from DNA or family, similar to what author James Hillman described as the “acorn” in referring to the mysterious daemon, or inner awareness of divine powers guiding a person’s life.
2. Our life has meaning and purpose, that includes an “original intent” directing us toward our life purpose. The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm is therefore more like Jungian psychology in that the bottom line for Shamanic Astrology is the quest for meaning and purpose, rather than the pursuit of sex, will, power, or even survival. Even if there were no existence of a higher meaning or purpose or some transcendent, implicate order, our essence as a human being is nevertheless to create meaning and purpose.
Part 2: The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm Philosophical Framework
1. The priority in applying Shamanic Astrology is to describe the intent of the soul’s journey. This intent can never be quantified, thus the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm cannot be proven by the use of statistics or deterministic scientific methodology.
2. Within the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm, there are no dualistic or hierarchical judgments of good-bad, higher-lower, or right-wrong. Further, this system perceives the doctrine of “rulerships” (including astrological concepts such as detriments and exaltations) as a relic of the past that traps an individual in historical relativity. The evolution of the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm includes a continuing attempt to eliminate all manner of hierarchical language.
3. The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm is not a system of prediction, but rather an inquiry into original intent that leads us to consciously align with our personal intent (as revealed in the individual chart) as well as with universal intent (in co-creation with Great Mystery).
4. The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm recognizes that objective time does not exist, therefore it is ultimately not possible for even the most gifted astrologer or the best astrological system to completely know or predict what will actually happen. This is because the astrologer is also a part of the greater unfolding of the One Reality (Great Mystery), and can therefore never be truly objective to it, or outside of it. It is, of course, possible to get close to this knowing and this is a good part of the thrill and value of astrology.
Part 3: The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm Foundational Elements
A unique understanding of the natal Moon
In this paradigm, the Moon position represents one’s lineage, or who we were before our encounter with parents, culture, or the historical time frame we incarnated into. In Shamanic Astrology the view of the Moon has no connection to gender, including Masculine and Feminine elements.
The Moon most clearly indicates the Mystery School we have previously mastered or have most closely identified with in the past. (When I began using this approach, the only other astrological school that had a similar, but by no means identical view in seeing the Moon as related to the past was Esoteric Astrology. However, they also considered the Moon as something dead or spent, with no relevance to the current life.)
In this Paradigm, the Moon is our lineage and comprises our attitudes, addictions, expectations, and an innate skill set. The Moon is our instinctive foundation, but can be a hindrance when we are over-identified with it. Our Moon can instead be used in support of current life purpose.
(More recently, I have noticed other astrologers beginning to share in this view. Much of mainstream astrology nevertheless maintains a rather patriarchal view of the Moon as exclusively female or mainly connected to feelings and emotions.)
1. A unique approach to the Ascendant, as well as the other chart angles
In the 1970’s, much of how mainstream astrology interpreted the Ascendant included things like: physical appearance; how a person presented him – or herself to the world; personality features; or the persona. The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm sees it quite differently.
The Ascendant clearly indicates the primary Mystery School being explored in the current life. The directional flow of the soul’s journey is toward the Ascendant and it is almost always something quite new to the individual. Esoteric Astrology also sees it this way.
It’s interesting to note that in the original formulation of horoscopic astrology, the word “horoscope” meant the Ascendant and did not refer to the rest of the chart. The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm has a specific way of viewing the other three angles on the chart as also being entirely about current life intent.
2. The use of the Lunar Nodes by House position creating 144 Storylines
The 144 storylines of lineage are determined by the South Node House with the Moon and the 144 storylines of current life intent are determined by the North Node House with the Ascendant. The 12 house placements create 12 different versions of each of the 12 signs. The resulting 144 possible storylines are nuanced expressions of the basic archetypal patterns of life, that are revealed through the interweaving of the core meanings of the Moon, Ascendant, Lunar Nodes, and Houses. In this paradigm, whether referring to the lineage or the current life intent, these storylines are referred to as “the 12 jobs in the 12 tribes”, or “the 12 majors in the 12 Mystery Schools”.
4. Since 1999 the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm has used the Whole Sign House System exclusively.
This is an ancient house system that simplifies the houses and eliminates confusion in several areas of chart interpretation. A discussion about this preference can be found in the The Shamanic Astrology Handbook.
5. In the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm, there is no special emphasis placed on Sun signs.
The over-emphasis on Sun sign typecasting is viewed as a remnant of patriarchal and monotheistic consciousness and is therefore limiting and outdated.Instead, the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm views the Sun as the symbol for the manifest expression of Great Mystery itself. The Sun therefore, is not to have any archetype projected onto it, including soul, self, or ego. Rather, the Sun is the energy or fuel that the seasons of the Earth’s cycles contain and express.
6. The dynamic and evolutionary flow of the soul’s journey is described using the technique of viewing the chart as three movements in a symphony, or three acts in a play, or a dialectic of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. This view reinforces the priority of intent, as opposed to a rigid and static description of personality. Further, this approach describes the soul’s journey as a developmental process symbolized by the birth chart.
7. A unique approach to the use of Venus and Mars
Rather than the popular over-emphasis on the Sun sign, the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm perceives the sign of Mars on a man’s chart to be the archetype of current life intent for a man. Similarly, the sign of the Venus position on a woman’s chart indicates the archetype of current life intent for a woman. There are therefore 24 different and specific expressions of Masculinity and Femininity and these hold considerably more archetypal significance than the Sun sign.
Note: Topics 1-7 are covered extensively in the Shamanic Astrology Mystery School (SAMS) Scripts and Archetypes Online Course
8. The Inner Sacred Marriage Process
In this paradigm, the Mars position by sign for a woman initially indicates a projected longing, or the archetype of relationship that she will tend to look for outside herself. A man’s Venus position similarly indicates his initially-projected archetype of his longing for wholeness. Whether successful or not in literally manifesting this projection, these archetypes offer a significant clue for what needs to develop internally in order to arrive at inner wholeness. The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm therefore posits that the path of relationship can become an addition to one’s wholeness, rather than maintaining that a partner is necessary in order for a person to feel complete.
9. The Six Relationship/Partnership Axes
The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm uses an innovative approach for discovering the current life intent for partnership and relationship. These six paths are derived from the pairing of the Ascendant/Descendant.
Note: Topics 7 – 9 are covered extensively in the SAMS Sacred Marriage and Relationship Course.
10. Transit cycles are perceived as indicating the varieties of initiation
This paradigm divides the cycles of initiations into three worlds or realms of experience.
- Upper World (Celestial World), using Neptune and Uranus
- Middle World (the ordinary, apparently linear world of objective reality that occurs in real time) using Saturn, Jupiter, and the Lunar Nodes
- Lower World (or Underworld), using Pluto and Chiron. During the course of a lifetime, these cycles of initiation do not flow in a linear fashion. Any type of cycle could conceivably follow any other type of cycle. And importantly, as with all other aspects of the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm, the various initiatory processes are never perceived as being either “good” or “bad” but rather what is needed to achieve the intent of the initiation cycle.
11. The Shamanic Timeline
In addition to the cycles of initiation as indicated by the transits of the outer planets, the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm uses a unique approach to the planetary cycles as measured from their positions of birth – such as the Saturn Return, the Jupiter Return, etcetera. Using this technique, it is possible to know which initiatory processes a person is undergoing simply by knowing their age.
Note: Topics 11 and 12 are covered extensively in the Shamanic Timeline and Cycles of Initiation intensives (See New Online Timeline Course).
12. The use of Synodic Cycles of Venus, Mars, and Mercury
The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm pioneered the reintroduction of the use of synodic cycles into modern astrology. The knowledge of the phases of these cycles helps to place an individual chart into the context of a much larger story. In addition, the synodic planetary return cycles are a crucial ingredient of the Shamanic Timeline. The Shamanic Astrology Mystery School has an entire course dedicated to synodic cycles.
13. Knowledge of the Turning of the Ages
The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm introduced the phrase “The Turning of the Ages” in the 1980’s. This knowledge and direct experience of the intersection of the zodiac and the plane of our galaxy with the solstices and equinoxes over time provides a larger context for understanding the importance of our current era including the end and beginning of a 26,000 year cycle. From this foundation we have the basis for understanding how the astrological signs and symbols, as well as the human and mythic storylines, change over time. Note: SAMS Cosmology/Night Sky address these issues in depth.
14. The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm integrates the sign (seasonal zodiac) with the Sidereal zodiacs (the 12-fold divisions of the sky or constellations). The logo for the Shamanic Astrology Mystery School beautifully illustrates this integration (found on cover of The Shamanic Astrology Handbook). Note: Topic 14 is also detailed in SAMS Cosmology/Night Sky Intensives.
15. The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm stems from the unique chart analysis techniques combined with continual connection and direct experience with the night sky, including regular, kinesthetic experiences of the seasons, the cycles of the Sun, Moon and visible planets, along with the constellational patterns.The insights of the Shamanic Astrology Paradigm are derived primarily from this personal, direct relationship, equally valuing astrology and astronomy. In fact, the full certification track for an initiated Shamanic Astrologer requires the night sky component. The aim of this Paradigm is for practitioners to form a personal relationship with the planetary and stellar patterns.
16. The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm has a ‘naked eye’ emphasis
Shamanic Astrology is designed to be functional at any time in history, with or without the aid of technology or telescopic enhancements.
17. The Shamanic Astrology Paradigm recognizes as its foundation the Hermetic dictum, As Above, So Below, As Within, So Without
Within this paradigm, this is not merely an intellectual philosophy but an actual reality, requiring the knowledge and experience of the seasons and cycles of the earth in space. This reality is part of a perennial, magical world view and is not the same as the scientific, cause-and-effect, and more deterministic ‘modern’ world view.
For additional insights on this unique paradigm, be sure to reference The Shamanic Astrology Handbook, by Daniel Giamari0 with Cayelin K Castell, revised and updated in 2014.
* Paradigm, as defined in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradigm