A Journal of Inner Work and Therapeutic Arts
Immanence and Identity in Plural Personality
Richard Dagan

Studies Index...

Embracing the Shadow:  Dynamics in an existential crisis.

23-30 November 2013

In The Saturn Engagement we looked at a series of aspects formed by transiting Saturn and affecting most areas of the radix, recently, and over the course of the next few years. On 20 November T♄ ☐ ♇ became exact.
It was the high point in a week of existential crisis.

This aspect last occurred in 1984, during stretches of January, March, and October — periods characterized by deep engagement with the personal shadow.

Radical Pluto squares the Taurus stellium:
[Algol] Sun [Capulus] MercuryRx Moon Lilith [Hephaestus, PTAH]

The stellium is also trine Mars, Juno and Saturn, which combine to positive effect in making productive use of the ♇ squares. The Sabian for ♄ (13º ♍) is "A strong hand supplanting political hysteria", a very apt descriptor, it turns out; and equally apposite is the Sabian for ♂ (23º ♍): "An animal trainer" (Sabian Symbols in Astrology, ME Jones. 1969).

As a group, the squares between ♇ and the ♉ stellium function as a forge for self-development and refinement.

♇ ☐ ☉ presents continuous challenge to the organization of personality, cohesive expression of inner drives and will, formulation of self-concept, and identity stability.
Cf. ☉ ☐ ☍ ♇

♇ ☐ ☿Rx — The scout planet has an orbit of about 88 days, and appears to reflect the period of buildup/breakdown I experience in self-concept formations and associated schemata; there is an inner tension, an anxiety, a sense of doubt and vulnerability borne of introspective acuity combined with a profound need to grasp and transcend neurotic constructions, to know where I stand.
Cf. Rx ☐ ☍ ♇

♇ ☐ ☽ presents an equally profound need to purify what are experienced as baser emotions. Cf. ☽ ☐ ☍ ♇

♇ ☐Lilith is of signal importance in the radix. At 13º 50' 23" ♉, Lilith is trine ♄ and the ♍ complement, as well as || ☉.


The temperature was minus 14C before dawn that morning as I walked in solitude beneath a brilliant waning gibbous moon. Rounding the corner and approaching St. Anthony of Padua Church, I came upon a statue I'd not seen before — Mater Dolorosa — mounted on a pedestal in place of the Virgin previously positioned there. Six knives protruded from her chest, three on the left, three on the right, arranged on each side in staggered descent, guards touching. I found it odd and dissonant.

Mater... An empty space for me in many respects — memory of terrifying maternal violence and anger, dissociation and disidentification, lack of trust, the need for vigilance, cold and distant. My strong sense of being without origin, alien... Internally male and female, yet neither...

There is a pattern in the radix, a trinity, involving Lilith, Nephthys, and Juno, focused on the Lilith from the Part of Identity...

In the above chart, Lilith is the focus of a kite formation with fixed star Zuben Eshamali (♃ ☿ influence, arouses "spiritual and mental forces") and the Part of Identity (18º07' ♏ at apex — note that T♄ is approaching exact conjunction here, 9-10 December), with ♄ (Juno♂) in the left flank, Nephthys in the right. Lilith is also BQChiron Rx in the 5th house, ♏ cusp, ruled by ♂ ♇.

"Portrayed as a goddess of the night who tames wild beasts", write Demetra George and Douglas Bloch in Asteroid Goddesses, Lilith "represents the principle of repressed anger and conflict resolution".

Astrologically, Lilith, linked with Toro (Sp. "bull", representing the principle of boundless strength and power). forms an intermediary step in the octave progression between Mars and Pluto and addresses the issues of personal, sexual power and repressed anger. In interpersonal relationships, her responses range from complete withdrawal to bickering and sexual manipulation to skillful negotiation and compromise. [...] In chart analysis, a prominent Lilith displays the quality of personal independence and a refusal to submit to another or compromise one's beliefs as well as the potential for resolution. (2003:189ff)

In The Once and Future Goddess, art historian Elinor W. Gaddon traces Lilith's reputation as a sexual temptress "to later Hebrew legend in which she first appears as Adam's intended wife".

Insisting on equality in their relationship ["we are both equal because we both come from the same earth"], she refuses to have sex with him in the conventional position because she i9s unwilling to lie beneath him and runs away. Remaining forever outside of human relationships or regulations, Lilith surfaces in medieval Hebrew esoteric tradition as a demonic creature, possessed by an insatiable sexuality. She holds dominion over all instinctual, natural beings. [...] Once Lilith, like the Neolithic Bird Goddess, helped women in childbirth and nursed infants. In a seventh century BCE tablet inscribed with a prayer chanted by Assyrian women giving birth, Lilith appears as a winged sphinx. In medieval Jewish texts she becomes the dreaded demon who causes small children to die in their sleep. 1989:123ff)

The Burney Relief, aka Queen of the Night

Image Credit: Wikipedia. Babelstone.
Lilith, ca. 2000 BCE. Bas relief teracotta. (Possibly Inanna/Ishtar or Ereshkigal.) Rectangular, baked clay relief panel; modelled in relief on the front depicting a nude female figure with tapering feathered wings and talons, standing with her legs together; shown full frontal, wearing a headdress consisting of four pairs of horns topped by a disc; wearing an elaborate necklace and bracelets on each wrist; holding her hands to the level of her shoulders with a rod and ring in each; figure supported by a pair of addorsed lions above a scale-pattern representing mountains or hilly ground, and flanked by a pair of standing owls.
Known as the "Burney Relief",
or "The Queen of the Night".

The pursuit of inner mysteries and the struggle for perfection indicated by Lilith combines well with the Saturnian emphasis of structure and boundary definition. Lilith contributes to the stellium an unchallengeable creative energy and inner authority; external limitation and restriction are rejected unequivocally in the absence of equality and inclusiveness, willingness to communicate and compromise.

I mentioned earlier that Lilith is trine Saturn and the Virgo complement, and is parallel Sun. To explore the significance of these dynamics, I will briefly digress at this point to consider radical karakas.

In the Jaimini system of astrology, a tradition in Vedic astrology, karakas
(Skt. karaka, a general term for "significator", root kri, "action") are considered extremely important in the analysis of spiritual potentials and determinants.2 The Jaimini Upadesa Sutras mention both 7 and 8 karakas, but seven are commonly referenced, determined on the basis of longitudinal degree, highest to lowest, regardless of sign. Atmakaraka (Skt. atma soul + karaka) is the significator of the soul's desire.

Sun is considered the natural Atmakaraka in all natal charts, but there is also a personal, "moving" or "temporal" significator, the Chara Atmakaraka, which is identified as the planet of highest longitudinal degree — Sun is considered here, and some schools allow Rahu, but not the trans-Saturnian planets. The Chara Atmakaraka indicates the lesson the soul is here to learn.3  Barbara Pijan reviews these significators of persons and events at Jaimini Karaka 1-7.

As presented by Gary Gomes, in descending order, the karakas are:

  • Atma Karaka, the indicator of self
  • Amatya Karaka, the indicator of career
  • Bhadri Karaka, the indicator of siblings and father
  • Matri Karaka, the indicator of mother and education
  • Putri Karaka, the indicator of children, intelligence and creativity
  • Gnati Karaka, the indicator of strife, disease, and sadhana (spiritual practice)
  • Stri or Dara Karaka, the indicator of marriage and partnerships in general

Pijan shows the association of each karaka with one or more houses:
AK= 1st;    AmK = 2nd, 10th;    BK= 3rd, 9th;    MK= 4th;    PK= 5th;    GK= 6th, 8th, 12th;    and SK/DK= 7th.4

Sun is both Atmakaraka  and Chara Atmakaraka  in my geocentric radix, but perhaps it's problematic to apply Jaimini concepts in that context. I find it interesting nonetheless, and the Lilith parallel all the more meaningful in result.

In my sidereal radix, on the other hand, Mars is Atmakaraka (29º 51' 14.51" ♌) and Mercury, next highest in degree (29º 06' 05.44" ♈) is Amatyakaraka, "the 2nd highest degree = 2nd- and 10th-house indicator; Significator of the hoard, collections of capital wealth and knowledge; Significator of the career, leadership roles, social rank; Agents = advisers, counselors, attorneys, partners".4  In descending order the other karakas  are Moon (BK), Saturn (MK), Venus (PK), Jupiter (GK), Sun (DK).

The graha [planet] that obtains the highest longitude in the chart is the Atmakaraka. It is the significator of the soul (atma). It is the king of the chart. Being the significator of the soul, the 12th house of liberation is seen from the Atmakaraka in the Navamsa [D-9 chart] to find [...] the Ista-devata [...] who would guide the soul towards liberation from the bondage of life and death.

Pijan — Graha in 12th from atmakaraka or Lord of the 12th bhava from atmakaraka within the navamsha is said to indicate the nature of the Ishta-Devata, one's guiding spirit in life. This guiding spirit may be a deity who is well known or a private assistant who serves as agent and messenger on the astral plane.

The graha obtaining the second highest longitude is called Amatyakaraka. It signifies the mind. Its role is that of a Minister who guides the king. It is the Amatyakaraka who guides the destiny of the person towards attainment of the desires of the atma. Being the protector of the soul, the Palana Devata (the deity who sustains oneself in this world) is seen from the 6th from the Amatyakaraka in the Navamsa. [...]

Here's a very succinct tutorial from Dr. Neeraj, frequent contributor to the Light on Vedic Astrology forum, on finding your Ishta devata, referencing the Atmakaraka and the Navamsa chart:

Atma Karaka is the planet that has the highest longitude in one's natal Chart.
Atma Karaka in Navamsa is called the "Karakamsa".
The 12th from the Karakamsa determines the "Ishta Devata".
The 12th house from the karakamsa is called the "Jivanmuktamsa".
This is the house signifying the emancipation of the soul and we have to examine this house in order to find one's Ishta Devata.


I am much more experienced with Western than with Vedic astrology or Jaimini, so it's entirely possible that I've erred in the findings that follow, but, using the Navamsa chart above, considering the aspects thereof, and the correspondences provided by Dr. Neeraj it appears that:

  • Ishta Devata, 12th from Atmakaraka,
    is Rahu in Scorpio → DURGA5,6
    but Saturn is also in strong aspect → SHIVA | VISNHU.
  • Palana Devata, 6th from Atmakaraka, is Ketu in Taurus
  • Dharma Devata, 9th from Atmakaraka, is the Lord = Sun → VISHNU | RAMA | SHIVA.7
  • If there is a graha in the Jivanmuktamsa, it signifies the Devata.
  • If there are more grahas than one, we choose the strongest.
  • If there is no graha in the Jivanmuktamsa, we can see whether any grahas are aspecting the 12th.
  • If no grahas aspect it, we can take the 12th Lord as Ishta Devata.

Below are the presiding deities for each planet who will be
your Ishta Devata as per your Horoscope.
Sun — Vishnu/Rama/Shiva
Moon — Krishna/Shiva/Parvati
Mars — Hanuman/Subramanya/Sri Narasimha
Mer — Vishnu
Jup — Vishnu/Sri Vamana/Dattatreya/Sai Baba
Ven — Maha Lakshmi/Parashurama/Maa Gouri
Sat — Shani Dev/Hanuman/Kurma/Shiva/Vishnu
Rahu — Maa Durga/Varaha
Ketu — Ganesh/Matasya
Ascendent — Kalki

Interesting, certainly something to think about, but really, with respect to the Navamsa, the only thing that strongly impresses me is the fact that we see four planets in Sagittarius (6th house) ruled by Jupiter → VISHNU; plus Jupiter and Sun in Capricorn (7th), ruled by Saturn → Hanuman/Shiva/Vishnu/Krishna → SHIVA. Both deities resonate.

And this too is interesting, from Hindu Dharma Forums, Yajvan, 2006:

With the following grahas as the Atmakaraka, the native needs to:

  • Sun (Surya) – learn humility and to overcome pride and self importance.
  • Moon (Chandra, Soma) – learn the meaning of compassion, and the concern for others, as part of his/her spiritual progress.
  • Mars (Mangala) – learn the meaning of ahimsa (non-violence) as part of ones spiritual progress.
  • Mercury (Buddha) - learn to speak with truth (sat-vak), speak to uplift others and meaningful speech.
  • Jupiter (Brihaspati or Guru) – assume the role of protector. Learn to respect their own guru’s/teacher’s and the traditions. Key is responsibility.
  • Venus (Sukra)- Control the physical passions of excess.
  • Saturn (Sani) – eliminate giving pain, grief or sorrow to others (compassion)
  • Rahu – with Rahu, one may be inflicted with deception, or being cheated, yet the native cannot inflict deception to others.
                 Being straight forward in personal dealings and forthright.
  • Ketu – Ketu does not become an Atmakaraka – He is the significator of Moksha, and is beyond the realm of these actions above.

Returning now to Lilith parallel Sun and the ♇ squares to the ♉ stellium, we confront the problems of traumatic experience, narcissistic deficits and compensations.

The danger in any self-focused approach is as obvious as the type of traumata that might lead to its adoption, and the negative emotions that might accompany it. Narcissistic compensations may manifest in efforts to gain power or status in the outer world (10th house), to become dominant, attain a position of authority and control over others. The ♇ influence challenges this, breaks it down. Withdrawal is an option, so too avoidance. But none of this will do, because the deeper objective, the underlying goal is pursuit of inner mysteries, understanding and enlightenment. And that is also mediated by ♇ in the 1st house, necessitating attention to inner growth, personal in nature and transpersonal in consequence. What are the dynamics of the process?

Smelted from cognitive and affective ores, freed from deficient and deleterious forms, purified "metals" are transformed and harmonized, a process engaged by ♇ in the core kite formation —


JUNO, 2nd Century AD. Louvre.
© Marie-Lan Nguyen (User:Jastrow)
Wikimedia Commons, 2009.

We've twice indicated the importance of Saturn, Juno and Mars, trine the ♉ stellium, and we've described Junoas part of a Mater trinity thematically focused on the issue of identity (Juno△ Nephthys △Lilith☍ Part of Identity). Now we note that ♄ Juno♂ represent the marshalling of persistent and disciplined effort to identify, analyze, and work through problems, including the option to come to terms with processes and principals active in self, consolidating, coordinating, structuring and re-structuring.

Juno is the significator of relationships — she symbolizes the principle of relatedness. She is protector of the state, guiding spirit and protectress or every woman: just as every man had his genius, every woman and every goddess had her juno,8,9 who accompanied her through life, from birth to the end.10  Though this is a comparatively recent development, and one of which I remain tentative in some respects, I can accommodate Juno as an abiding constant, a protective, guiding and nurturing influence, making it important to relate with all aspects of self, the various principals in gestalt. I say "tentative" because, in fact, imagos like bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Chenrezig, Kwan Yin — male or female, depending on the culture)11 come closer to the mark in this sense, an immanence of succor and compassion, the essence of my solar experience at age 15. Problems experienced in the mother-son relationship served to emphasize constellation of transcendent but implicate presence, addressing the need to be understood and cared for. Juno is quite different from Hera, her supposed correlate, who is proscriptive, punitive, and vindictive, the very thing I would avoid, an element of the personal shadow, something like my mother (whom I've undoubtedly demonized from remembered terror and by projection of my own violent and destructive potentials, with which I had to come to grips in dramatic events during my early twenties).

By some, Juno is thought to indicate the "soul mate". In my radix, however, Juno is square Chiron Rx — in fact the entire 2nd-house ♍ complement square the 5th ♐, including Kornephoros, Vx,CeresRx, ADITI Rx, and the Galactic Center — a conflict certainly worked through if not entirely mediated by the 4th-house Part of Identity, focused in 10th-house Lilith conjunct Moon, which Juno trines. The wounds must be attended to, though in most cases they are not removed; rather, constructions predicated of them are distilled and eliminated to make way for new.

The dynamics of that work-through process are more complex, also involving 12th-house Uranus (|| ♇) and 9th-house Jupiter (△ ♅), both engaging Saturn: Jupiter trine Uranus quintil Saturn opposition Jupiter — but the goal is inevitably psychospiritual development and transpersonal awareness.

With Saturn's transit through Scorpio, however, a series of significant engagements are made that, particularly in the case of T♄ ☐ ♇, bring to bear an existential review and cathartic transformation. Alan Oken interprets ♄ ☐ ♇ as indicative of "great dissatisfaction with life and a deep desire to annihilate existing forms" — it is "cruel and harsh [...] very destructive to the established order", with potentially "violent and self-destructive tendencies" (1974:259).

We're looking at a transit here, not an aspect in the radix, so the influence occurs over a limited period; nevertheless, its impact and long-term consequences can be enormous. And it's further complicated in this instance by T♄ opposing the Taurus stellium, which means the latter is challenged by radical ♇ and this transit.

On the other hand, T♇ at 10º4'34" ♑ is direct, moving toward exact trine with radical ♄ at 12º35' ♍ around 11 February, 20 June, and 15 December 2014, and comes very close one last time in late September 2015; in these instances and in the T♇ aspects that follow, the stellium and the Virgo complement are trined. The purge we're undergoing now is a necessary precursor.

We've already alluded to the personal shadow with respect to Juno and Hera, for example,
but let's consider the concept in greater depth.

Personal shadow takes many forms but thematically remains fairly consistent, essentially the reverse of what I aim to achieve, what I want to be, how I might think of "me" and "we" in the multiplicity. It is, to paraphrase Jung, "the thing I have no wish to be" (CW 16, para.470) — and that which I attempt to come to terms as it presents internally and in social interaction. Shadow is considered a living part of the personality, of the personal unconscious, engaging instincts, influenced by the collective unconscious and archetypal factors. It may be consciously apprehended, as an actual presence, or observed after the fact in affective markers of significant intensity, e.g., obsessive, possessive, and aggressive responses, or in projections, and in dreams.

Kwan Yin

Kwan Yin.

In the melancholic process I experience, shadow presents through memories which irrupt to conscious awareness and feature some experience of personal inadequacy and failure, instances in which I have inadvertently or intentionally caused harm, overestimated my abilities or knowledge, made egregious error or otherwise demonstrated lack of worth or merit, failed to contribute to the well-being of others, failed to achieve anything — all of this accompanied by extreme reaction that would eradicate the imperfection, which, ultimately, is me. The errors thus revealed were perpetrated by me in response to desire for personal gain or relief of pain.

These irruptions are abreactions which ultimately result in cathartic release but, during the process, I do not remember that; indeed, so intense is the discomfort, and so unrelenting, that it soon involves suicide imagery and a yearning for death. The suicide ideation is very real, clearly "seen" and "felt". As I write this, I recognize that it occurs as disidentification, decathexis, and deconstruction are taking place — I remember reading of a shaman's description, his flesh stripped from bone leaving only skeleton, then being entirely rebuilt and renewed. The process is not under my control, and much of it is beyond my grasp. At a certain point, having endured this onslaught (and I do not know or see what else to do until this point is reached), I can shift my focus to immanent deity in a sacred action not like putting out the fire, but walking into it. And by grace, then, there occurs a transformation, a transcending.

In usage other than Jungian, "shadow" represents to me an effort to reveal that which needs attention and resolution, crucial to the developmental process. Relationship with immanent divinity is fundamental, containing all of this. Everything, the voices, visions, sense of companion presence and guidance are all made sensible in that context, as is the drive to identify problems of flow, feeling and perspective, and the unequivocal drive to work to the harmony and growth of the whole.

Even the Fire is Cool

In the midsummer heat, the gate is closed and we're wearing monk's robes,
In addition, there are no pines or bamboos shading the rooms and corridors,
For a peaceful meditation, we need not to go to the mountains and streams;
When thoughts are quieted down, fire itself is cool and refreshing.

The last two verses were spoken by Zen master Kaisen Joki, head abbot of the Buddhist temple Erin-ji, just before he and his fellow monks were burned alive by Oda Nobunaga soldiers when he invaded Kai Province in 1582 — attested by
Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture (1938).
Popular saying in Japan:
Shintõ o mekkyaku sureba, hi mo mata suzushi.
Literal translation:
"If you quiet down (lit. destroy) your mind, even fire is cool."

When he defeated neighboring Takeda family, one of the latter took refuge in a Zen monastery. The Oda army demanded his surrender into their hands, but the abbot refused, saying, "He is now my protégé and as Buddha's follower I cannot give him up." The besieging general threatened to burn the entire monastery, together with the occupants. As the abbot was still unyielding, the edifice, consisting of several buildings, was put to flame. The abbot, with a few monks who were willing to join him, was driven up to the second floor of the tower gate, where they all sat cross-legged. The abbot, demanding that they express whatever thought they had on this occasion, told his devotees to prepare for the last moment. Each gave his view. When it came to the abbot's turn he quietly recited the following lines, then he was burned alive with the rest: "For a peaceful meditation, we need not to go to the mountains and streams; When thoughts are quieted down, fire itself is cool." — Studies in Zen, DT Suzuki, 1973:72-3.

The poíima at left is based on a dream dreamt a day or two after the peak aspect. The young man did not want me to use him as a medium for my own desires; he had anxieties of his own, and my desires merely added to his burden, confuses and endangered (dissociated) him. Concern with the validity of such self-descriptors such as "psychic", "medium", "empath", "counselor", "clairaudient", "clairvoyant", "healer" — all of which and none of which apply to me with regard to capability and presentation — necessitates thinking about rather than doing, and that requires mechanisms by which to cope with anxiety and uncertainty, because nothing is being accomplished. I am not looking, not listening, not tuning in to other's needs and desires, not appreciating their stories, because I'm not tuning in to my own.

But in this exercise, over these past 8 days, I have.

From the catharsis there follows an indeterminate period of quiescence in which new insight presents via vision or voice.

I may write at length, paint, process the material in some other way.

A new schema or conceptual structure emerges, and a revised sense of direction.

Dreams, in this process, are particularly important.

Message from and assessment of a dream...
Three times in angry emphasis
his index finger stabs my chest
STOP USING ME [he shouts, and more]
if you were really [so attuned]
you'd've seen that problem BEFORE
anyone suffered injury.
[I asked an unnamed familiar
wanting a smoke to push past
my own anxiety working
not even thinking what he faced
how he felt his needs injuries
but he agreed became two then
three against foes none seen inside
for i was not looking maybe
afraid mystified occupied
by the Greater Unrevealed no
longer trying dissatisfied
a failure disenchanted by
"truth" but who was he to say
who was he anyway this young
man now standing up to i
puer aeternus uncertain
but clearly angry determined
to seek his way at least to try
to interact until he find
inside and out more dimensions
than he can count and then attest
to that reality and heal
STOP USING ME he shouts and FEEL.]