Article: Jean Houston — Psychologist…

An Astrological Snapshot

© by the author of “Star Corridor — The Sky as Mirror to the Soul” ( )

Jean Houston: Explorer of Human Potential

(See Jean Houston’s natal astrology chart at end of this article.)

Psychologist Jean Houston, in 1977, became a focal point of controversy when it was reported that she was conducting “seances” in the White House with then first lady, Hilary Clinton. Prior to this notoriety, Ms. Houston had been enjoying a respectable career. She began her professional life as a professor of philosophy, religion and psychology. She departed from the conventional academic track when she was invited to assist researching physicians in a project investigating LSD’s effects on human personality. Her academic grounding in the humanities proved useful in identifying “the mythic, archaic, cross-cultural, and symbolic themes that seemed to recur with subjects under the effects of LSD.”

Later, pursuing a non-drug exploration of human potential, she formed the Foundation for Mind Research, along with her husband Robert Masters. Together they developed methods of evoking the enormous latent potentials of the body-mind. They explored altered and expanded states of consciousness, new styles of learning, thinking in images, thinking kinesthetically, and time distortion, all of which induce the creative process. A variety of ancient and modern techniques fertilized their work: the programming of dreams, biofeedback, neurological reeducation, and the induction of religious and other peak experiences.

The transformative quality of their work opens up “possibilities for authentically new ways of being.” Understanding the numerous unrecognized limits we impose on ourselves—awareness of the false concepts, outmoded mind-sets, shriveled aspirations, and nonsensical taboos—frees us up to rethink, re-dream, and then reinvent ourselves. In 1975, she formed the Dromenon Center in Pomona, New York, to offer workshops and to train professionals in education and the helping professions. The Dromenon Center, named after ancient Greek rites of growth and transformation, now holds multi-national seminars.

An emphasis on myth and story became essential to her work around 1980—coincidentally, the time in which she studied and lived with aboriginal peoples. “I discovered that one could go further and deeper with human capacities development work if it was encoded in myth. This is because the Great Story inherent in many myths provides the template for transformation. However ancient, myths carry the coded matrices of the next steps in human development and evolution.” On PBS she recently described myth as “something that never was but is always happening,” and suggested that myths are the compass points by which we connect to the Earth.

Among the many books Jean Houston has written and coauthored, her most recent works may prove interesting to those astrologers who incorporate myth and spirituality into their work. In her book The Search for the Beloved: Journeys in Sacred Psychology (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1987), Jean explores the nature of spiritual yearning and assists the reader in her/his own quest. It focuses on the four aspects of Sacred Psychology—the Great Wound, the Mythic Journey of Transformation, the Discovery of the Larger Story, and the Union with the Beloved (i.e. the Soul). Another of Houston’s books, Life Force, the Psycho-Historical Recovery of Self (1987, Quest Books, The Theosophical Publishing House) lays out a process, “the new dromenon,” of reflection, internalization, journaling, and synthesis of the text with one’s own experience. The process also calls for group meetings in which the material is discussed and changing patterns and viewpoints are shared.

Her book, A Mythic Life: Learning to Live Our Greater Story (1996, Harper), is a spiritual autobiography. According to a review by Publishers Weekly (Dec. 4, 1995), Ms. Houston shares how, as a child, she “absorbed a sense of wonder from her Sicilian-born mother, Mary, a former stock-and-bond analyst who claims to see angels, and from her father, Jack, a TV and radio comedy writer for Eddie Cantor, George Burns and Henny Youngman.” She states her belief that myths and archetypes provide links from our local lives to the larger patterns unfolding on the planet and in the cosmos. And, she shares her own identification with the goddess Athena. (Astrologers will note the position of the asteroid, Pallas Athena, conjoined Houston’s South Node (one’s karmic past, familiarity…) in the Scorpionic 8th house!)

The Publishers Weekly review  further describes Houston’s book, A Mythic Life, as recounting “her mystical experiences, psychedelic trips and explorations of altered states of consciousness, her myth-reenacting workshops, and encounters with Margaret Mead, Paul Tillich, Joseph Campbell, Aldous Huxley, Martin Buber and Gestalt psychologist Fritz Perls.” Earlier works by Jean Houston include The Possible Human, Godseed, and The Hero and the Goddess: a Feminine Myth of Creation (with Diane Vandenberg).

This brings us back to Ms. Houston’s White House “seances.” Conservative John McLaughlin of the (riling and bombastic) weekly television program “The McLaughlin Group,” of the late ’90’s described Hillary Clinton’s meditative dialogues with the late Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Ghandi  as “kooky,” “spooky,” and “dorky.” Such remarks led Jesuit writer David S. Toolan to come to the defense of Ms. Houston. Toolan was familiar with Houston’s work, having attended her workshops on the medieval Grail legend and a year-long program titled “The Mystery School.” Mr. Toolan took strong exception to ex-Jesuit McLaughlin’s statement that “New Age ‘theology’ is . . . really very un-Christian, very un-Jewish, very un-traditional in its genesis and expression.” In Toolan’s article “Hillary’s Guru,” (America, Aug. 31, 1996, America Press Inc.), Toolan responded: “Jean . . . might invite you to speak to Francis of Assisi, the Persian mystical poet Rumi or Rabbi Akiba and the Baal Shem Tov—not mainstream habits unless you happen to be a practicing Catholic, Sufi, or Orthodox Jew. But given that many in Ms. Houston’s audiences are estranged from church and synagogue . . . or are unfamiliar with meditative practices. . . she will often ease people into such ‘other worlds’ by suggesting dialogue with a secular saint—say Mrs. Roosevelt, Gandhi, Golda Meir or Martin Luther King Jr.  . . . The point is to open our narrow, self-absorbed and inevitably depressed lives to the imaginal world of soul—and a wisdom and a community greater than our own.”

I found many of the main themes in her life and work reflected in Houston’s birth chart: a 9th House Sun-Uranus conjunction—unconventional academic pursuits, cultural studies, controversial philosophies, ahead of one’s time; Neptune in the 1st House and Jupiter in Pisces—strong identification to the spiritual and to the multi-dimensionality of life—and of myth; Mercury, the Midheaven’s ruler is in Aries (leadership) exactly conjoined Saturn in the 8th House—a deep, methodical, disciplined probing of the mind; Jupiter in Pisces in the 7th trine to Pluto in the 11th house—imparting wisdom, teaching others through transformative groups and principles; and, Jupiter in the 7th house of business and marriage partners, along with a strong 8th House—her partnerships with fellow psychologist and author Robert Masters, their professional work together and their marriage.

The geometry of the points in her chart—the larger aspect patterns—becomes mesmerizing. Consider her Mars. With Sun-Uranus andNeptune, it forms a Grand Trine in the earth signs, and fire houses. Yet, Mars teeter-totters with Pluto atop the Mercury-Saturn fulcrum, forming a cardinal T-Square. Therefore, her actions (Mars in 5th) express her creativity and the inherent talents of her Grand Trine but would tend to  invite controversy as well (opposing Pluto, trining Uranus-Sun). Mars and Saturn are in mutual reception, they relate as a team, working in tandem. And, whew!  This same busy, and intense, Mars also loosely sextiles Jupiter, which exactly trines Pluto. Last year’s [1996’s] media hullabaloo demonstrated the interplay of  Ms. Houston’s T-Square quite dramatically:  Ms. Houston mourns the loss of Hillary Clinton’s friendship because of the media-forced “letting go” (Pluto, 11th) that resulted from their shared White House activities (Mars, 5th). She felt vulnerable and afraid (Saturn) of the effects of the media barrage on her reputation.

And here is a chart in which you wouldn’t want to miss the influence of the subtler aspects.  Quintiles are quite prominent in this chart. (The 72º quintile, or one-fifth of a circle, represents an influx of creative energy, even genius.) The transformational themes (Chiron, Pluto) of her work are further accentuated by her 10th House Chiron in three quintile relationships: with both Mercury and Saturn (<1º orb) and with Neptune(<2º orb). And her Sun is in a quintile relationship with Pluto. And her Moon is in a quintile to both Mercury and Saturn (<1º orb).  These subtle angular relationships connect to the larger aspect patterns, adding more complexity to “A Mythic Life.”

 “A” rated birth data from The American Book of Charts, by Lois Rodden.   


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