In his book, Astrology, Psychology and the Four Elements, Stephen Arroyo said,
"In scientific terms the chart shows your energy field or what the clairvoyants call the aura."
In my book, Charting The Soul: Astrology, Characterology And The Human Energy Field, one of the main themes is that psychology, astrology and clairvoyant perception of the human energy field are three overlapping and complementary ways of understanding a human life. On a similar theme, contemporary philosopher Dr Richard Tarnas, author of Passion of the Western Mind, has said he believes that,
"Psychology textbooks of the future will look upon modern psychologists working without the aid of astrology as being like medieval astronomers working without the aid of a telescope."
For the purposes of this article I am going to focus more on the psychological material in the book, the area that is probably most familiar to many astrologers. A more detailed exploration of the spiritual approach – the structure of the human energy field and the appearance of the planets on the level of 'energy' – I shall leave for another article.
What is Characterology?
Characterology is a term used to describe five different character types emerging from five stages of child development. Characterology is an awkward word and it is not widely understood even in the world of psycho-therapy. Yet I have found the study and understanding of Characterology to be a revelation of profound importance in my work as an astrologer, an energy healer and a process facilitator.
The idea originated from the work of Willhelm Reich, one of the founding fathers of psychology. Reich believed the five 'character types' were the outcome of defence mechanisms developed as a result of trauma experienced in one of five stages of child development; thus, trauma experienced in early infancy would result in a different kind of defence to trauma experienced later in childhood. Reich believed that wounding experiences in childhood were not only at the root of mental health issues but also affected the physical development of the body. So, he described each character type as having distinct features of physical appearance as well as a recognisable psychological profile. For example, people with the Schizoid defence would have long thin gangly bodies whereas those with a Masochist defence would have short stocky bodies.
Two of Reich's students, Alexander Lowen and John Pierrakos, went on to create the body-mind approach known as Bio-Energetics and expanded on the descriptions of the five basic character types. John Pierrakos' wife Eva, was a gifted psychic who channelled a body of profound psycho-spiritual discourse known as The Pathwork. John Pierrakos took characterology a step further to develop Core Energetics adding a spiritual dimension to the descriptions of the character types e.g. noting how the different types affected the functioning of the chakras in the aura or energy field. Just as Reich made the link between the psyche and the body, Pierrakos extended this idea to make the link between the psyche, the body and the aura or human energy field.
The energy healer, Dr. Barbara Brennan (author of Hands of Light and Light Emerging), began her career as a research physicist working for NASA. Brennan had been gifted, from childhood, with psychic awareness and eventually she left the world of material sciences to pursue her interest in healing. Brennan became a student of John and Eva Pierrakos and the understanding of characterology and the appearance of the five character types in the Human Energy Field (HEF) became a major aspect of Brennan's approach to healing. Brennan saw how psychological issues block the flow of vitality in the body and also the flow of life force in the HEF. Just as Reich saw that a release of tension in the body can release blocked emotions, Brennan saw that dissolving blockages to the flow of energy in the HEF can both release emotional states and help to bring about the healing of diseases in the physical body. In 1982 Brennan founded the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, which went on to become a major world centre for the study of the psycho-spiritual approach to healing.
The psychologists of the 20th century tended to focus on pathology; childhood trauma and the development of psychosis and defence in patients with serious mental health issues. However, the stages of childhood development are a universal human experience and so every person has traits of the five character types to a greater or lesser degree. When we understand that the five character types are present in the makeup of all people then we notice that the different character types also bring specific gifts such as intelligence, compassion, creativity, courage and wisdom. Rather than focusing only on wounding, each of the character types can be seen as a necessary stage in the development of the personality. And when we include the spiritual dimension, the focus shifts away from the emphasis on trauma to include the nature and the divine essence of the incarnating soul. The gifts associated with each stage are important expressions of the creative process of living in the manifest world and seen from the spiritual view we can see the character types as five vital stages in the soul's journey of incarnation into the world of matter.
The Astrology of Characterology
I was lucky enough to study at the Barbara Brenan School of Healing in the late 1990's, a few years after I had completed training at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London. Inevitably I began to explore the question – if characterology is a fundamental part of being human, then how do the five character types show up in the horoscope? Because we are talking about stages of child development I started by looking primarily for planets in aspect to the Ascendant, the Moon and the Sun. I spent a couple of years researching this while completing the advanced training at BBSH and discovered consistent relationships between specific planets and the five character types. What follows is a very brief summary of what I found.
#1 Schizoid Stage
The first developmental stage, which Reich referred to as the Schizoid stage, extends through the gestation period to labour, child birth and the early days of life.
The Issue: The issue that arises in the Schizoid stage is the primal terror of mortality – of being born into a vulnerable fragile biological body, with the constant threat of physical death and the dread of annihilation
Psychological Wounding: If the infant experiences trauma such as hostility, neglect or abuse from parents during this stage they go into a primal state of shock as an instinctive way of coping with terror. In the Human Energy Field this appears as signs of freezing, shattering and fragmentation, a retreat into the upper mental chakras and avoidance of emotion and connection into the body.
Spiritual Gift: The Schizoid type are happiest in the realms of the mind and their gift is genius, inspiration, intuition and connection with the Mind of God. In the HEF this appears as brilliant electric light around the 6th and 7th chakras, which can extend far out into the cosmos.
The Planets: The key words for the Schizoid stage are shock, shattering, fragmentation, disassociation from the body, mental ability, intuition, genius and inspiration. The planets associated with the Schizoid stage are Uranus and Mercury and the signs of Aquarius, Gemini and Virgo.
In Charting the Soul I give a case history and chart interpretation of the rock star Jimi Hendrix to illustrate the wounds and the gifts of the Schizoid type.
#2 Oral Stage
The second stage is known as the Oral stage, extending from birth through the first 18 months of life.
The Issue: During this stage the infant is totally dependent on parents for nurturing and protection. The issue for the Oral stage is the fear of abandonment and deprivation.
Psychological Wounding: When the infant experiences trauma during this stage they develop a profound fear of abandonment and the feeling that inside they have a bottomless pit of need. In adulthood they can develop issues around co-dependency, addictions and eating disorders and the tendency to collapse. In the energy field this appears as weakness in the lower chakras, problems with holding boundaries and the tendency to merge with the energy field of others
Spiritual Gift: On the soul level the gifts of the Oral type are caring, compassion, empathy and communion. These souls can have psychic abilities, the capacity for mystical contact with the Divine and the experience of celestial love. In the HEF this appears as a beautiful pearly light illuminating the 6th chakras.
The Planets: The planets associated with the Oral stage are the Moon and Neptune and the signs of Cancer and Pisces
In Charting the Soul I give a case history and chart interpretation of the film star Marilyn Monroe to illustrate the wounds and the gifts of the Oral type.
#3 Masochist Stage
The third stage is known as the Masochist stage. It extends from 18 months to 3 or 4 years of age as the child learns to walk and talk and become increasingly independent.
The Issue: The issue that arises in the Masochist stage is individuation and autonomy as the child develops their sense of being a separate individual capable of self-expression and enjoying independence and personal freedom.
Psychological Wounding: challenges at this stage come from overly controlling parents who impose unhealthy restrictions and limitations that serve to undermine rather than to strengthen the child's fragile sense of autonomy and personal boundaries. The child is overpowered and defeated and though they may resort to varying forms of resistance underneath there is deep sense of shame and the decision to retreat. In the energy field this appears as a hollow, blocked or collapsing 3rd chakra and also often blocks to the 5th chakra.
Spiritual Gift: In the Masochist stage the focus is on establishing a strong sense of identity, personal freedom and authentic self-expression. So the gifts come through the expression of personal creativity and highly developed communication skills. In the HEF the creativity may appear as delicate complex patterns of expression and a well-developed 5th and 6th chakras.
The Planets: Pluto is one of the main signifiers of the Masochist character, (and the sign of Scorpio). The other indication is when there are afflictions to the Sun (e.g. hard aspects from Saturn, Pluto or Chiron)
In Charting the Soul I give a case history and chart interpretation of the actor and film director Orson Welles to illustrate the wounds and the gifts of the Masochist type.
#4 Psychopathic Stage
The fourth stage is known as the Psychopathic stage, extends from age 3 or 4 to five or six years old.
The Issue: During the Psychopathic stage the child begins to develop awareness of gender and the issue of relationship. The child may 'fall in love' with the parent of the opposite sex and they need safe relationships with both parents in which to explore the expression of their sexual identity.
Psychological Wounding: Problems occur when the parent of the opposite sex oversteps the boundaries and engages in some form of seduction of the child, at worst, serious sexual abuse but often something more subtle. This sets up an impossible triangle when the confused child becomes consumed by the idea that they are secretly the 'beloved' of one parent and pitted in rivalry against the other. This is the stage most prone to narcissistic wounding when the child comes to believe that they are required to be extra special in order to win the love of the parent. There can be no good outcome for the child and the issue for the psychopathic character is betrayal. In the energy field the Psychopathic type has a classic split between the 2nd and 4th chakras with an over-expanded energy around the heart, a top-heavy energy field and a lack of grounding.
Spiritual Gift: In their passionate and romantic quest for love the child in the psychopathic stage can become fiercely heroic and the gifts of the psychopathic stage are charisma, courage, initiative, leadership and integrity. In the HEF the gifts appear as radiant golden light emanating from the 3rd and 4th chakras.
The Planets: The planets associated with the Psychopathic stage are Mars, the Sun, Jupiter and Aries, Leo and Sagittarius and the Fire signs that they rule, Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
In Charting the Soul I give a case history and chart interpretation of the artist Frida Kahlo to illustrate the wounds and the gifts of the Psychopathic type.
#5 Rigid Stage
The fifth and last stage is known as the Rigid stage, extending from age 5 – 7 when the child is moving away from the protection of life within the family and moving out into the wider community.
The Issue: In the Rigid stage the child is learning the rules of social acceptance, the laws, values and standards of their family and community and what it takes to succeed in their world.
Psychological Wounding: Difficulty occurs in this stage when the parents and the community have a strict code of behaviour enforced by overpowering discipline. The child gives up on the spontaneous expression of their own essential nature in the effort to match up to the tribal formula for success. This is the stage when the voice of the Superego is anchored firmly into the psyche and the child can become obsessed and driven by some ideal of perfection. In the energy field this appears as an overall stiff, unyielding quality and the sense of a dark, empty gulf separating the outward focused energy of the HEF from the beautiful Light of Essence at the core of the field.
Spiritual Gift: The Rigid type seeks worldly success and they become adept at manifesting results in the material world but the cost is often that they lose contact with their authentic inner nature. However, later in life, if they regain a sense of their true essence, their worldly skills stand and them in good stead and the gift of the rigid type is wisdom born of experience and the ability to manifest results. In the HEF the gifts appear as immense core strength and grounding like a deep rooted tree connecting heaven and earth and radiating light and wisdom.
The Planets: The planets associated with the Rigid stage are Venus and Saturn and the signs of Taurus, Libra and Capricorn.
In Charting the Soul I give a case history and chart interpretation of the philosopher and archaeologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to illustrate the wounds and the gifts of the Rigid type.
Charting the Soul
It took ten years of writing to reach the point where I was finally ready to publish Charting the Soul: Astrology, Characterology and the Human Energy Field. This is a big book; I am told it is entertaining and a good read. I am also told that sometimes the reader has to pause for serious thinking time to integrate these new ideas. My message goes beyond the information about the character types or about the human energy field and the profound energy vibration of the planetary archetypes. This book is about Awakening to the presence of the magnificent light of the soul that is seeking expression through the unique essence at the heart of every life.
Author: Rebekah Hirsch
Rebekah J. S. Hirsch is the author of Charting the Soul: Astrology, Characterology and the Human Energy Field. Rebekah is a mature, experienced, professional Psycho-Spiritual Astrologer. She originally trained with Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London. Her approach is a synthesis of astrology, psychology and energy healing, and should be of particular interest to students and practitioners of Brennan Healing Science, Core Energetics, Bio-Energetics, Hakomi and Psychosynthesis. Rebekah has worked as an astrologer for 25 years and offers lectures, training and workshops around the country. She is also a visionary painter, making images to represent the energy patterns of the horoscope as they appear in a person’s Human Energy Field.