Alchemy is of particular interest to me.
I now can see that the Archetype of “The Alchemist” is a powerful force in my psyche, and that I chose to study Chemistry (and continue to work in a lab as a Forensic Chemist) because it’s the closest thing the modern world has to Alchemy.
For me, Alchemy represents the bringing together of opposite, supposedly incompatible elements to create something greater than the sum of the parts. This image resonates with me on so many levels; but is particularly apt for both my MBTI type and my astrological birth chart.
Like many other INFJs, I’ve always had an acute awareness of the bipolar nature of consciousness; partly derived from from my own self-awareness, but also from observing other people over many years. I eventually decided to learn how to apply these insights on a practical level; to be better able to advise and counsel other peopl;, so I eventually undertook private training at my own expense in a number of disciplines, including MBTI-style personality typology and NLP. With these skills, I’ve had some success helping other people deal with psychological issues, both informally and on a semi-professional level. Ideally, I would have liked to become a full-time therapist/coach, but for various complex reasons, I haven’t yet achieved that goal.
However, my INFJ typological makeup serves me extremely well when I work one-on-one with another person. A particular strength of mine seems to be recognising and resolving unconscious internal conflicts in other people; a type of psychological alchemy, if you like. In my experience, these hidden internal conflicts are often the root cause behind a great deal of human psychological and emotional suffering.
But the alchemical themes are also present in my more mystical side; and this is perfectly captured and symbolised in my Astrological birth chart. In fact, the only reason I (as a supposedly sceptical scientist) finally accepted the validity of astrology was because of the incredible accuracy and descriptive detail contained in my personal chart. Luckily my mother, an extraverted sensing type, remembered the exact time I was born, so my birthchart is highly accurate. To confirm this, I drew up charts for all my friends and family (they are very tolerent of my eccentricities!) and attempted to interpret them for everyone. The defining moment for me was when I began to be able to tell that the birthtime I had been given was inaccurate, because the chart “felt wrong” for an individual. Every time this happened the other person went back to their parents and confirmed that I had been right. Once the correct details were supplied, the chart then made sense and (once correctly interpreted) provided an accurate and profoundly meaningful picture of both the outer and inner experiences of the subject. This was the final convincer for me that astrology was indeed a valid, meaningful and even practical discipline.
And the most striking features in my own birthchart are the numerous oppositions; to list just the most obvious:
Ascendant in Taurus exactly opposing Neptune in Scorpio.
A stellium of planets (Sun, Mars, Venus and Mercury in late Sag/early Cap) opposing the near Full Moon in Gemini .
And, less obviously, the emphasis on the opposing elements of Fire (intuition) and Earth (sensing):
Chart ruler Venus (due to Taurus rising) in Sagittarius (Mutable Fire)
Venus conjunct two fiery planets (Sun and Mars), also in Sag.
Several planets in fire houses (Uranus and the North Node in house 5, Pluto on the cusp of the 5th/6th, Sun/Mars on the 8/9th cusp, Mercury fully in the 9th).
Ascendant in Taurus
Uranus and Pluto in Virgo
Mercury, Midheaven and Saturn in Capricorn.
Several planets in earth houses (Moon in house 2, Pluto on the cusp of the 6th, Saturn in house 10)
All this Fire/Earth dichotomy has repeatedly played out in my actual life as an intense power struggle between my strong, conscious dominant Ni function (Fire) versus my equally strong but much more unconscious inferior Se (Earth). It’s basically the irresistable force meeting the immovable object. The practical effects of this metaphysical puzzle on my personality and psyche has been to cage all of that intense inner fire within an impenetrable outer rocky shell. One of the major challenges in my life has been learning how to externally and healthily release some of that inner fire without blasting big holes in the protective earthy exoskeleton.
And astrology has finall provided me with the secret key for bypassing this unwinnable conflict, and instead harmoniously tapping into and combining the best qualities of both elements. I’ve known for quite some time that the Ascendant and the other earth planets form a natural harmonious trine (triangle) between the 3 Earth signs, but it’s only recently occurred to me the same trine is also placed in all three of the fire houses (1, 5 and 9). Because Mercury is part of the Earth trine, and is closely conjunct the fiery personal planets in Sagittarius, it provides a conduit linked to both the Ascendant and also to Pluto in Virgo. Pluto itself is in exact trine with the ascendant (10 degrees Taurus/Virgo) and loosely conjunct Uranus in Virgo for the extra Zap-Pow factor.
In less esoteric terms, the secret is for Mercury (the conscious mind) to divide and focus the flow of fiery energy (Ni)towards the Ascendant (my physical body) in two directions, some needs to flow directly from the 9th to the 1st house and the rest indirectly via Pluto/Uranus (to include the strong unconscious forces in my psyche). This essentially means my body must serve as the safe meeting point for the two conflicting energy streams.
So basically, I have to get up off my lazy ass and move! Too much time spent locked inside my head is deadly for me, I need to be physically engaged to stay healthy and sane. I’ve kind of always known this; I have always enjoyed non-competitive physical activities such as walking, swimming, cycling and, most of all, dancing. One reason I like working in a lab is the physical aspect of moving around the lab and tinkering with equipment and instruments, though lately I’ve been forced by the changing demands of modern times to spend more and more time at my desk (where I am right now, writing this instead of working )
And my lifelong favourite hobby has been an abiding interest in railways, both the real thing (which has involved many happy hours exploring the world via rail travel) and also in minature via the medium of model railways, which provides both a creative outlet and also a means for an ethereal INFJ-type to develop certain practical Sensing-related skills (such as painting, woodwork and electrical wiring).
So working out a better balance between Fire and Earth provides a variety of healthy and pleasurable outlets for my Earthy side; but there’s a less tangible (but equally beneficial) spiritual reward for my inner Fiery soul to enjoy from this new psychological peace accord.
But that’s for another time, as I need to finish up and go home for some R&R.