Are you just starting to offer readings to clients, or would you like to add another tool to your readings toolbox? Perhaps you’ve heard the term “therapeutic metaphor,” which is often associated with the work of the psychologist Milton Erickson. Storytelling is an art that could be 500,000 years old, if it began with the Neanderthals, or perhaps 80,000 – 100,000 years old if it began with H. sapiens. Mythology, folklore, and fairy tales, some of our oldest forms of storytelling, contain nuggets of psychological wisdom from the collective unconscious and probably number among the oldest forms of therapeutic metaphor. Those ancient tales share some structural features with the work of modern master storytellers such as Stephen King, Úrsula K. LeGuin, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, and your favorite novelists.
Learn how basic storytelling and fiction-writing techniques, combined with the archetypal symbols of astrology, can help you create powerful illustrations for natal or dynamic aspects in your clients’ charts. No previous fiction-writing experience is necessary.
- Bruno Bettelheim. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. 3rd printing. Knopf: New York, 1976.
- Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run with the Wolves. Reissue. Ballantine: New York, 1996. (Almost anything she’s written is excellent and accessible, but Women Who Run with the Wolves is a good place to start.)
- LeGuin, Ursula K. The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction. Berkley: New York, 1982. (Steering the Craft is also excellent, but start with The Language of the Night.)
- Marie-Louise Von Franz and Kendra Crossen. The Interpretation of Fairy Tales. Revised edition. Shambhala: Boulder, 1996.
Classes are held weekly.
Class Meeting 1:
- Why tell stories to illustrate aspects or themes in readings?
- Handout: Anatomy of a story from a (non-experimental) fiction writer’s point of view
- The main character needs to learn something or change somehow by the end of a reading’s story. Otherwise, it’s a vignette, not a story.
- In readings’ stories, also present the alternative of what the character may feel if he/she doesn’t change or learn something.
- Examples from popular culture: find the basic anatomy of a story under all the details.
Class Meeting 2:
- In-class fiction-writing exercise. I won’t collect those — the point is to see how few elements there can be in a story, and how we CAN invent things on short notice. (But the brave might want to read what they wrote.)
- Elements of a story: character, plot, setting
- Signs-planets-houses archetypal fields handouts.
- Handout for inventing characters
- Adding helpful other characters and problematic other characters
- Three possible story setting templates that are usually adaptable to different charts.
- Meanings of aspects when seen as conflicts or possible help (for storytelling).
- An in-class “worked example(s),” using the signs / planets / houses archetypal fields handouts.
- Practice in class with character (planet), plot (what that character wants, what its conflict is according to natal or dynamic signs / aspects, and setting (what houses are involved).
Class Meeting 3:
- Chart handout: a famous person whose identity isn’t given.
- In-class discussion: What planets, signs and houses might be usable in what types of story?
- If you’re stuck.
- In class, analyze and amplify one of the handout chart’s natal hard aspects.
- More practice with aspects in this chart.
- Homework for next class (graded) – Submit the homework by the Sunday night before class. Write your own story for a different hard natal aspect in that chart, one we didn’t cover in class. Your stories don’t have to be Litt-ra-chure (literature)! Imagine you’re writing something simple, like a children’s story, or telling a friend about a movie. I want to see character, plot / wants / conflict, and setting, all derived from that hard natal aspect, and also how the character could feel if he/she doesn’t learn anything. Tell me how the details of your story relate to the details of the planet, sign, house or aspect.
- Extra credit: Optional, add a supportive character, shown by a flowing aspect to one or more planets in the hard natal aspect.
Class Meeting 4:
- Read and discuss homework stories in class
- Practice inventing stories for a dynamic aspect example, based on the same anonymous chart.
- Discuss the famous owner of that chart.
- How the nodal structure of a chart can easily lend itself to storytelling.
- In-class demo of a story based on that same chart’s nodal structure.
- Other different story templates, using the same chart.
- Based on what you’ve learned, discuss in class where story details came from in that chart.
- Homework: graded. Due the Sunday night before class. Given another unidentified famous person’s chart, describe the energies around the person’s South Node by sign, any conjunctions to the SN, the SN’s house, and its planetary ruler (its sign, house and any conjunctions). This is a character description and setting only, no plot yet — who the SN character is, what it wants, its attitudes and assumptions about the world, where it “lives” or hangs out, etc. Add what details in the chart led to your description’s details.
Class Meeting 5:
- Discuss students’ SN character/setting descriptions HW (grades kept confidential).
- The arc (plot line) of a nodal story is from SN to North Node.
- Working with the NN in stories: sign, house, any conjunctions to its ruler(s).
- Describe a NN character and setting in class, for the same chart.
- The person’s identity is revealed.
- In class, for the same chart, describe blocking forces (planets in hard aspect to the nodes), personify them, and give them a setting.
- HW: graded, due the Sunday night before class.
1. In the same chart, describe characters shown by any helpful forces, based on flowing aspects to the nodes or their rulers.
2. Opposing Forces: Invent another character with a problem, described by a hard aspect to the chart’s nodes that we’ve discussed in class, and with a setting—a problem that could affect either node.
3. Helpful Forces: Now describe how a flowing aspect to one or more of the planets in the hard aspect above could help relieve some of the pressure of that hard aspect. You can use the character you described in part (1), if that planet makes a flowing aspect to a node.
Class Meeting 6:
- In class, discuss homework.
- In class, collaborate on constructing at least one story for that chart’s nodal structure (preferably a story we haven’t already made up in class). Add how the person might feel if he/she doesn’t work well with the aspect(s) and doesn’t learn anything, or very little.
- In class, look at more unidentified famous people’s charts. Students come up with stories about the nodal structure before they learn who the person is.
- Final exam:
I. Part One: On the didactic material (theories) and good practices in fiction-writing. “Closed book,” honor system. Multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, short answers. 15 pts.
II. Part Two: “Open book,” honor system. Given an unidentified famous person’s chart, create a brief story for their nodal structure, including all aspects to it, and using what you’ve learned in the course. Add how the person with that nodal structure might feel if they don’t learn anything. 25%
Time to complete both parts, 10-14 days