Unmasking the daemon
There are all sorts of ways of working out our life’s purpose. In regular, mundane, everyday terms, we might go about this by getting some sort of careers advice. But even this pragmatic view of individual purpose feeds into a wider sense of who we are, what our lives mean, how we learn about this meaning and then live it out. One way to understand all this is found in James Hillman’s The Soul’s Code, where he works with the idea that we each have a guiding spirit, or daemon, to show us the way.
This is an idea which stretches back out of sight into the mists of time and right across world cultures. It comes to Hillman via Plato and it was his idea that, before we’re born, we freely choose a set of life circumstances and, after, are assigned a guardian whose job it is to ensure that we live accordingly. Hillman says that our whole fate is held within us as a newborn child. We aren’t victims of later circumstances but are living the unfolding of a life we participated in choosing. Now, it has to be said that, as with everything, this way of thinking simultaneously frees and limits. There are various ways in which it does this but to be brief, on the one hand, there’s the positive gloss that the patterns of our childhoods, our troubles, and so on, form a meaningful destiny which we’ve had a hand in, even if it doesn’t feel that way. On the other, it might be understood in a negative sense where we’re bound by our circumstances and limited regarding any progress we might make. This understanding is particularly difficult since it’s contrary to the way we think of ourselves in modern western culture.
Nevertheless, in accepting that we each have both an interior growth direction and a guiding spirit, we can now work with the idea that, at some level, we always know the way forward. And yet it doesn’t necessarily feel this way. Quite often it really isn’t clear what our next step should be. Other times, it seems clear enough at the time but then it transpires that we’ve made a mistake. So how might we avoid these two pitfalls? In other words, how can we be sure we’re always working in sync with our destiny and according to the nudges of our guardian spirit? Well of course there can’t ever be any such surety but here are a couple of ideas which allow us to proceed in that comforting belief.
First, having got to know ourselves the best way we can, we’re then ready to employ a very valuable way of looking at things which confirms our choices as part of our purpose and destiny. It’s all to do with an attitude held when using divination. It doesn’t matter which divination system is used but, in preparation, the individual decides on the set of rules in order that there’s the grammar and language available to answer the question posed. Once this is done, the question is asked, answered and then action is taken accordingly. Crucially the course chosen becomes the only one possible. There can be no wondering what might have happened in alternative universes, no debate about whether the wrong choice was made, and no other beating around the head of that nature. The attitude has to be quite simply that what was chosen was right and the outcome is the one which the daemon and gods supported (because divining has to do with negotiating with the gods, whether one believes in them or not). This might seem like a sleight of hand but it isn’t. It’s both correct divination and healthy psychology.
The second idea relates specifically to astrology. It works on the assumption that the astrological chart is the blueprint of a life, the key to coming face-to-face with one’s guiding spirit and the means to get to know him/her as the chart ruler - or, in tech-speak, the Almuten Figuris. There isn’t total agreement on how to work out the Almuten Figuris but one way is to assess a series of five life-supporting chart points in order to discover planetary strength in these places. In other words, the astrologer needs to work out the essential and accidental dignities of the seven traditional planets in the degree of the Sun, moon, ascendant, Part of Fortune and the previous new or full moon (syzygy) which fell closest to the birth.
Point values awarded to each planet are as follows:
Domicile ruler +5 points
Triplicity ruler (day ruler by day or night ruler by night only) +3
Then 7 points are added for the day ruler of the chart and 6 points for the hour ruler.
Now points are added for accidental dignity, so:
1st house +12
It’s now that the astrologer reaches a position to add everything up, find the highest scoring planet and, thereby, discover the Almuten Figuris. Now the planet who calls the shots and whose concerns (which are understood through chart position, aspects and house rulerships) have most to say about the purpose and pivotal concerns of the given individual has been located. Or, another way, we have unmasked the daemon.
One last thing for now: using the astrological chart as a blueprint and choosing a guiding spirit through a divinatory system doesn’t abdicate personal responsibility for a life and place it in the hands of the planets and a fixed destiny. It still remains for us to understand what it means personally to have a certain planet as a chart ruler and to work with these meanings for the best, as we understand it. But once we’ve understood (and, again understanding is an evolving process which shifts from day-to-day) we make our decisions and live with them. We award these decisions the dignity of being exactly right at the time to fulfil our purpose and destiny.