The ever popular Richard Idemon describes how the interwoven symbols in the horoscope are made up of a single thread, which when unravelled – like the magic thread of Ariadne, lead us through the maze to the heart of our own chart and our own nature. Transcript taken from several seminars and edited by Gina Ceaglio.
The Magic Thread – Astrological Chart Interpretation using Depth Psychology
- ISBN 13: 9781902405469
In the 1980s, Richard Idemon taught at his school in San Francisco and reached countless astrology students through his lectures in the United States and Europe. Although he was dying of an incurable disease, he vowed to fulfill the many requests to put his keen observations in book form. In 1987 he died at the age of 49 before he could fulfill that promise, but a few of his colleagues pieced together transcripts from two seminars he gave in 1985 and 1986.
These transcripts became the only two books by Richard Idemon, and both are classics. The first one, Through the Looking Glass, is a Jungian approach to understanding relationships according to the dynamics found in the natal horoscope. The second book, The Magic Thread, provides a unique and powerful method for interpreting a natal horoscope. Based on Jung’s theories of dominant and sub-dominant functions, this technique looks for the oddball in the chart, the one that stands out because it’s the only planet in a sign or is otherwise a “singleton.” Idemon was one of the original proponents of blending psychology with astrology. His brand of Jungian psychology has since become mainstream, but at the time, his perspectives were innovative and unusual. He used mythology and archetypes to explain planetary patterns. When discussing myths, he referred to three levels of myths: personal, social, and transpersonal. These in turn had correspondences to signs and planets.
The first four signs are highly personal and are oriented toward “me first,” while Leo through Scorpio are the social signs and act in terms of “me and you.” Sagittarius through Pisces are called the transpersonal signs, and operate on the “me and the universe” level. Following Jung’s system, the psyche operates from one of four functions, which are sensation, thinking, feeling, and intuition. These correspond to the four elements, so that if one has a preponderance of earth, then she is a sensation type. Or those with many planets in the air signs are thinking types.
Another way to categorize the planets is by their modality, i.e., cardinal, fixed and mutable signs. Those with many planets in any one of these three modalities use that modality as their dominant function. Jung noted that most people have a dominant and sub-dominant function. We express ourselves through the dominant function with ease and comfort. For Idemon, the most interesting part of the horoscope is the inferior function, which is the part of the chart that individuals have problems expressing or recognizing. It’s a psychosensitive area that is difficult to integrate, and can lead to compensation of other forms of dealing with hidden contents of the psyche. The singleton – the planet that is the only member of an element, modality or group of signs – generally represents the area of focus that becomes a problem area. Singletons take an enormous amount of psychic energy to deal with the stress, and so they become the key to chart interpretation. If someone has zero points in one of the elements, this becomes a missing function, and can lead to eruptions from the psyche, what Idemon calls uninvited gods. The first third of The Magic Thread discusses the psychological terms and how they connect with astrological basics. Included in these chapters are explanations of psychological defense mechanisms – denial, repression, projection, sublimation and compensation. For anyone interested in astrology who hasn’t had any college courses on psychology, here’s a good place to start. The middle chapters show how Idemon gets to the essence of a horoscope via several case studies, including analyses of Nazi criminal Joseph Mengele and Christian moralist Jerry Falwell. The last third deals with how to manage missing functions and the curious charts of Ernest Hemingway and Hart Crane. These two have both been recognized for their literary genius, and they were born on the same day, but with different Ascendants. Because the format is a seminar, the audience questions engender many spontaneous insights. Readers will benefit from underlining interesting passages and the kinds of perspectives that you can’t find in a more organized reference book.
Before he became an astrologer, Idemon was an actor, and his confidence and charisma shine through his lectures as well as shaping his understanding of psychodynamics. For example, to describe the air function, he refers to famous actors. Actors with the missing function of air are of two types, either incredibly articulate, like Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, or Peter Ustinov. They have learned their craft by over-compensating. Or there’s the “scratch and mumble” type, like Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, and Jack Nicholson. We like these actors because we identify with their struggle to get their stuff out.
Idemon sees the horoscope as a labyrinth, a complicated structure of interwoven symbols. The singletons and missing functions provide a thread, that when followed, can lead to the heart of the chart. And from his theatrical background, we get his view of planets as actors. The signs they’re in are the roles they play, the houses are the set or stage on which they’re operating, and the aspects are the dialogues that go on between them.
Many pages of this book contain comments on planetary pairs, so that readers become familiar with specific combinations that can then be applied to chart interpretation. All in all, The Magic Thread is a gem that you’ll treasure for a long time.
Chris Lorenz – Dell Horoscope