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Use Your Planets Wisely

with Dr. Jennifer Freed

“I needed to write a book that gives people a sense of power, agency, and choice about bringing their energies to the highest good.”

Dr. Jennifer Freed, the Santa Barbara based master Jungian psychological astrologer, whom I have known for over 10 years, has a profound and poetic new book, “Use Your Planets Wisely.” Jennifer is also the founder of AHA! (Attitude | Harmony | Achievement), a program for underserved and at-risk youth, and a frequent contributor to Goop.

When I received my advance copy of “Use Your Planets Wisely,” I was thrilled to read it, hoping it would be as deep as the sessions I have had with Jennifer.  I am happy to say, it did NOT disappoint, but took me further into self-inquiry, acceptance, agency, and action.

Here are some excerpts of my interview with Jennifer, and a few takeaways from the book signing we hosted for local community at our flagship space The Shopkeepers. And at the end, be sure to find your focus for 2020 in the sun sign omens that Jennifer shared.

Patti:
The book opens with this quote by Rumi, which I think sums up the entirety of the work:
You’re a mirror reflecting a noble face. This universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself. Everything that you want, you are already have.” Oh, how I love this. And the tool of astrology.

I wanted to open with why I gave up on astrology and why this book is bringing me back. When you read my chart about 5 years ago or so, I was going through a really stressful period in my life and career.  I was looking for insight, maybe some answers. Before I saw you, I had seen several other astrologers. And how they conveyed what they saw in my chart just left me anxious. It was like I was being told “this is what is going to happen.” And that was it.

Jennifer:
Yes. If you’re a literal person or you’re not creative or you haven’t been given these tools to work through it, and to learn and grow, it can – it can cause anxiety. And it’s too reductive. It doesn’t talk about our agency and our free will.

Patti:
Exactly. That is why I think this book is such a game changer. There was that reading you gave me before I was diagnosed with breast cancer and you – I don’t know if you remember…

Jennifer:
I said, “you’re going to have to focus on health, we’re going to have to focus on health.”

Patti:
Yes. And what that did for me, me focusing on my health, it was such a shift.  It was the first time I intentionally went inward and decided to start trusting my own inner guidance. I had been looking for answers outside of myself, and was brought to  realize I was using astrology in completely the wrong way. Looking back on that time, and now reading your book, has brought this home for me: we are at work here!

You describe each of the planets’ so beautifully in this book, and also their influence on us in an entirely new way. Can you tell us how this book started – how you came up with the 3 “levels” of each planet that are expressed in us? And how do we know what level we’re at?

Jennifer:
I’ve been studying astrology for 35 years, and especially when I was first began studying it, I was appalled at how reductive and how fixed and stereotyping a lot of astrology books were. It didn’t match my psychological experiences, as a therapist, which is that we’re always in a process of growth and change. So don’t fix me at any one place because that is going to influence me in a negative way. So that was what prompted it. And then a good friend of mine, to whom I teach astrology said to me, “please write a book. Nobody talks about astrology like you do.” She begged me to do it. That’s how it happened.

A lot of how work and teach is that I channel from the divine of my own knowing. So honestly, what came to me is: I need to write a book that gives people a sense of power, agency, and choice about bringing their energies to the highest good. I didn’t want it to be a naval-gazing, repetitive astrology book. And then the levels just came to me. And once they came to me, it was obvious because honestly, when I wrote this book, I was really in a primitive time, meaning in a very regressed, difficult emotional time.

Patti:
It is incredible that this came out of a time that was a struggle for you.

Jennifer:
Personal pain and acting out and horrible things. I was going to therapy a lot and I also needed to have a lot more self-compassion, because when we’re in the primitive place, we’re not happy with ourselves. So the book was like a healing for me, where I identified these three levels of “primitive,” “adaptive,” and “evolving.”  

Where do I want to be and what do I need to do to get myself back from the primitive into the evolving… but also know that there’s no linearity. None of us grow spiritually like this ever. We do this, we do that. We see this in ourselves and we can also see it in others: someone can be doing great, and then now he can be an asshole. So when you’re really honest with yourself, a book like this allows you to take inventory. That’s how the levels came about, and then it was very clear that this is the way to write the book.

Patti:
And also, with these new interpretations of the myths.

Jennifer:
Yes – that’s another piece of it. We have had 3000 years of patriarchy and it’s left women out of the conversation. The Roman and Greek myths are predominantly sexist tales, even though they have protagonists that are women.

Patti:
Amazing, timely, true… and so interesting and relevant. How long did it take to write?

Jennifer:
It came fast – I really committed and made space for it, wrote in three months.

Patti:
Practicing for over 35 years gives you a certain mastery I’m sure.

Jennifer:
I’d say, you know, you’re never really an expert. But I have a mastery because I’m always learning from clients, and they’re the experts on their own lives. For example, I may put something out there, but maybe a client gives it back to me in a different way than I’d never thought of that archetype. Then I keep learning.

Patti:
This book really meets us where we are at, and gives us tools to keep growing – so even if I am operating at a primitive level, how can I move to that more evolved expression?  Which I thought is so empowering. Each of these levels are in all of us.

I took a note when I was reading the book that says, “Use Your Planets Wisely,” is like love. You can’t think love. You have to actually do it. And it’s hard to explain. It’s not a concept, it’s an action.

So how, how do you practice moving through those levels and for yourself?

Jennifer:
Like how do you. t’s a constant meditation. The same for anyone. But since I have the knowledge, and I have a great partner who will help me realize when I’m strange, I think it’s a relational thing. For example, I may be in places where I’m a leader and I’m managing people and sometimes I’m really unskillful and sometimes I’m profoundly in the “flow.” Just like you.

I think part of it is being willing to get the feedback and part of it is being open to get the feedback.  And so if I show up in a relationship where somebody feels wounded or not appreciated by me, that’s information: I’m not in the place I want to be.

Jennifer:
I just had this happen the other day in a conversation with a good friend, and I did not show up how I wanted to be… it was a “What the hell was that?” And then I had to go look at what part of my psychology and cosmic DNA was activated in a reactive way.

And then you’re looking at what happened, and if you find something, it “I did this.” So I wrote him right back… that I regret how I showed up. My thing in life is that I’m not going to be perfect. I have no perfect issues luckily, but I am going to try to be as accountable and responsible as I can be. So when I screw up or when I occur as somebody that’s not helpful to other people, then I try to go back as quickly as possible and make the repair.

That’s my philosophy. Just do the repairs, do the repairs. And in that we learn – you know, in the hard things happen – that where there’s so much growth.

Patti:
We have all been there. It’s so painful.

Jennifer:
Right. But we can grow. And whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of that, it’s like, wow, that thing just happened between two friends or something… and it’s so uncomfortable… but under it all is, “I didn’t mean to cause you pain.”

And then you know, there’s all this growth that happens, and how can we recover? Because it’s not for me, it’s not an ego thing that I’ve made a mistake. It’s just the operating system, not being at its best. That’s how I think of it.

Patti:
After I read your book, I noted this great quote by Rebecca Solnit, something like “the stars we are given, the constellations we make. That is to say stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them.” And I wrote that perhaps we can’t see lines like that, but those are the stories, the shape of it. I love the fact that there’s like all this raw material out here – the stars – and we are tasked to connect the lines, we have to connect the lines and that’s kind of what this here on earth is for.

Jennifer:
And that is lifetime work. We are moving too fast sometimes, thinking that we’re going to get this right away and then… how come we don’t get it already? I tell my students to slow down. This is a lifetime work to understand yourself and understand how to learn this. I think that we forget that anything worthwhile is usually a long-term project. It’s a long-term project, long term work and project work in progress order.

Patti:
And so much more than we’ve ever imagined.

Jennifer:
Yes. It’s like love not being an answer, but a practice. One of those things we’re going to be working on for a long time and one you can always come back to that will show you who you are.

X Patti

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