James Hillman’s The Soul’s Code meets astrology
An astrologer finds validation in James Hillman’s thesis that your inner evolution is coded from birth. An astrological metaphor: your star sign
GUEST COLUMN: ALAN ANNAND — As a working astrologer, I find that the members of my profession are often cast in the role of oddballs, out on the fringe of society’s “healing arts” professions.
Unconsciously or not, this has given some of us a collective insecurity complex, such that we’re frequently found clinging to the hem of the Establishment’s skirts, pleading for recognition like some little kid in need of a hug.
Little wonder that, when the least evidence of our legitimacy comes to light, we embrace it with all the fervor of a re-born Christian who hears the Messiah is coming to town.
The last time this happened was in the 70s, when the research of French statisticians Michel and Francoise Gauquelin turned up “significant” evidence that the angular positions of planets had a bearing on professions. Since then, however, we’ve wandered in the wilderness with little more than faith to keep us going.
Enter James Hillman and The Soul’s Code
Today there is, if not a Messiah, at least a kindred voice on the scene, in the person of James Hillman (pictured below) — Jungian psychologist, scholar, and author of twenty-plus books, one of which should be required reading for all astrologers.
The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling was first published in 1996, and has since been reprinted in a trade paperback version. On the copyright page, its catalogue headings are listed as: (1) Individuality, (2) Individuality in children, (3) Fate and fatalism, and (4) Gifted persons.
Hillman’s central thesis, illustrated by several fine biographical sketches, is that “remarkable” people, ranging from serial killers to renowned artists, are essentially born, not made.
This flies in the face of conventional psychological wisdom which says that early childhood conditioning is the greatest determinant of what a person will make of themselves years down the road.
Neither nature nor nurture forms us
To the contrary, Hillman asserts that it is “neither nature nor nurture” (neither genetics nor environment) that dictates the outcome of a life. Rather, it is an innate quality possessed by each person, the spark of individuality that, like a master code for a person’s life, sets the menu from which he or she can choose to pursue their destiny.
Hillman favors the Greek term daimon as a substitute for the complementary notions of “guardian angel”, spirit, or soul, all of which imply an over-arching intelligence that provides a road map for the life. This is the “soul’s code”.
Thanks to the daimon, the adult’s true fate is already known to the child, and it is this knowledge that guides the child unerringly, despite all the obstacles imposed by parental and societal norms, in the inevitable direction of its fate.
The Acorn Theory
Hillman calls this his “acorn theory”, which proposes that each life is animated by a particular image that calls it to its destiny.
Plant an acorn in a corn field, it produces an oak, not a corn stalk. Let mother encourage or discourage, it makes no matter, the little child-soul knows where it’s going and will have its way in time. The daimon is in the driver’s seat.
Readers with an appreciation for astrology might well wonder whether the “soul’s code”, this animating image conferred by fate, could be an academic euphemism for the astrological birth chart.
Although Hillman never gives his readers an explicit nod in this direction, his occasional references to astrology encourage us to believe that he is familiar with its basic principles and practices.
He is perhaps even sympathetic when he says, “There is in each of us a longing to see beyond what our usual sight tells us. A revelation of the invisible in an intelligible form leads us to the astrologer.”
Alan Annand is an astrologer with 28 years experience, professionally trained and certified in both western and Vedic (Hindu) astrology. He is also a palmist and the author of five novels, as well as several articles on astrology which you can read on his website.
Alan’s last column for Soul’s Code was: And you thought you only had one type of karma.