Although many astrologers use the lunar node axis and other placements to discern past lives and karmic situations, there’s little scientific evidence that we actually have past lives. The many anecdotal stories about memories of distant lands and people have many convinced that reincarnation is part of our reality, while some astrologers offer the alternative of genetic inheritance. Perhaps the closest we can get to remembering past lives is through regression therapy, which in itself contains a variety of techniques to access past lives. In Understanding Karmic Complexes, Patricia Walsh has combined her knowledge of Evolutionary Astrology with past life therapy to create a fresh new look at astrology’s twelve basic archetypes. For those unfamiliar with Evolutionary Astrology, this is a branch of our celestial art/science that bases chart interpretation on the lunar nodes, with the South Node representing what we bring into this life – including talents and gifts as well as psychological wounds and other troublesome features of the psyche. The North Node represents what we need to integrate into consciousness for the psyche’s growth, or as preferred by the Evolutionary astrologers, the soul’s growth.
Jeffrey Green and Steven Forrest teamed up to lecture and publish some books on Evolutionary Astrology, though their respective techniques differ. Green wrote one of two forewords to Understanding Karmic Complexes, where he clarifies Evolutionary Astrology and the fact of reincarnation. The other foreword is written by Roger Woolger, an expert in past life regression, and the one who trained this book’s author in past life regression techniques.
In her introduction to this book’s material, Walsh explains in detail these two ways of accessing past lives. In Evolutionary Astrology, the primary indicators are Pluto by house and sign, the North and South Nodes by house and sign, and the planetary rulers of the North and South Nodes. One may also consider any planets aspecting these placements, and so one eventually considers most of the chart’s planets. But the procedure helps order the placements by importance, with Pluto and the point opposite receiving the highest priority. Then, the aim in past life therapy (PLT) is to identify the past life problem areas that carry over to the present life. These are called imprints, and when brought into full consciousness, they can be worked on and healed. Imprints may be discovered by using dreams, phobias and fears, exploring somatic pains, and guided imagery into past lives. This section also describes what happens at death and after death in a state of consciousness known as bardo.
The fun begins in chapter one, which is devoted to the Aries archetype. Walsh uses the common set of correspondences that the sign = house = planet. So if one has the North Node in Aries, she reads that the same as having the North Node in the first house or the North Node conjunct Mars. Each planet has a yin and yang expression, so that the yin side of Mars is Scorpio. Venus’s receptive side is expressed through Taurus, while her assertive side is found in Libra. Mercury rules both Gemini and Virgo, with the more modest Virgo being the receptive, yin side of Mercury.
Through twelve chapters (one for each sign), the reader will become thoroughly entertained and intrigued by the many past life experiences as they are correlated to the astrological messages encoded in the horoscopes. In the Aries chapter we understand how this archetype can bring psychological wounds through specific cases studies – a woman with Mars on her South Node, a man with Mars conjunct his South Node in Gemini, but placed in the first house, another with his South Node in Aries. In each case, we learn the lessons along with the clients about initiative, fear of competition, rage and anger, primal instincts, will and power – and one of the most common themes – the wounds of the soldier, both physical and psychological. The lessons of the Taurus archetype are about material survival, and the attending mechanism of “shutting down to survive.” In Gemini, we find past lives having to do with delivering messages (or failing to deliver a message) and the karmic consequences.
Each chapter contains the author’s wisdom and insights that bring past life experiences into present conditions. Throughout Understanding Karmic Complexes, the reader is introduced to a variety of psychological processes unavailable in other astrological texts.