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      Laboratory Science versus Clinical Medicine  

Cancer Salves

My own practice has always been clinical—and so it is with all astrologers who offer consultations to clients or patients. As time has progressed, I have refined my insights and polished my protocols. However, each "case" is really the story of an individual, not a sterile trial. The problems people describe in their sessions arise in the real course of life, and these problems result in suffering. My job is to unfold inner understanding of the circumstances surrounding the disease and to shift the conditions from a state of disease to health.










Though I have been practicing as a medical astrologer for almost thirty years, it only recently occurred to me that what is so obvious to me is not at all understood by my colleagues. Of course, I did know that it was difficult to explain what I do in one sentence at a dinner table, but I did not quite realize that this was equally true at banquets at astrology conferences!

To the best of knowledge, astrology and medicine were not, even in the West, regarded as two separate disciplines until some centuries ago. Before that, all educated persons were broadly acquainted with astrology, philosophy, and medicine. Interestingly, whereas astrology was generally considered to be a reputable occupation, medicine seldom was. It is only in modern times that medicine has come to acquire the status that it now enjoys.

Part of the regard attached to medicine is its identification with science. Most of us today would probably find this alliance so natural that it would not occur to us that in earlier times, medicine was far more clinical and less scientific. What does this mean?

Science requires the examination of parts isolated from their wholes, quantifiable studies, blind and double blind tests of hypotheses; and it requires credentials. A person without proper qualifications cannot have a voice in academic science. At first glance, this may seem proper; however, what it also means is that a patient cannot determine whether or not his health is improved by the treatments rendered. So, what has happened is that research is now quite isolated from clinical results. At this point in time, the public seems largely faithful to science, however, disenchantment has been mounting—and it is my opinion that part of the image problem with science is its sterility.

It is, however, a two-way street. Holistic medicine, not to mention astrology, has its critics; and this will continue to be the case so long as only doctors with the right degrees can assess treatments and so long as such persons remain more or less laboratory based rather than clinically involved with patients.

What is not so well known outside of academia is that professors in medical schools are not physicians, that they do not see patients or perform medical procedures, nor do they work with human subjects. Research, therefore, tends to involve cultures or animals that are exposed to single, repeatable measures. Often as not, the animals used were rendered "ill" in some artificial manner. In other words, the conditions studied in the laboratory often did not arise in the normal course of life but rather were induced in some inhumane manner in order to make observations. Likewise, the substances studied are usually isolated from their wholes. Either active ingredients or synthetic substitutes for organic medicines are utilized in order to hold variables to a minimum.

What has ensued from such practices is a state in which each study tends to revolve around a single basic hypothesis, a hypothesis which is narrowly defined so as to assure scientific control and opportunity to profit should there be a positive outcome of the tested hypothesis; however, the hypothesis is often as not viewed outside of the context in which the particular condition studied actually arises "in the real world."

Laboratory Trials versus Clinical Results

The real world is clinical. This means that in the real world, real people with real problems consult practitioners who recommend or prescribe particular strategies that either do or do not shift the illness. Each "case" is different and hence quantification of results is virtually impossible—and research is therefore also not possible since clinical practices do not consist of uniform groups of carefully matched trial and control subjects. The medicine and medical conclusions that arise from such practices are hence not scientific but anecdotal.

Basically, this is the major difference between holistic and modern medicine. A vaccine may be licensed and marketed because its manufacture parallels similar tests conducted for entirely different viruses. This is not quackery, but science. However, a product used successfully in clinical practices for generations or millennia is neither licensed nor credited with validity if it was never tested scientifically.

I am not describing these matters so as to present my own work, but rather in order to clarify certain misunderstandings that I felt while speaking at the UAC gathering in Monterey.

Astrology is Clinical

My own practice has always been clinical—and so it is with all astrologers who offer consultations to clients or patients. As time has progressed, I have refined my insights and polished my protocols. However, each "case" is really the story of an individual, not a sterile trial. The problems people describe in their sessions arise in the real course of life, and these problems result in suffering. My job is to unfold inner understanding of the circumstances surrounding the disease and to shift the conditions from a state of disease to health.

With time, I was completely overworked. I opened a clinic, hired assistants, and offered courses to train others so as to have a referral network. In the clinic, I tended to see mostly people with very serious illnesses, usually life threatening ones that had already been unsuccessfully treated by allopathic means. Statistically, if even a single person recovered from such conditions, the result would be significant. However, it would not be "scientific." Nevertheless, I have tried to summarize some of my understanding in the form of lectures and publications. For this, I have received a number of awards, including several degrees, in countries where the schism between the laboratory and clinic is not so great. I am not saying this to precipitate controversy but rather to illuminate the world of medicine and medical practice—for medical astrology does not exist apart from medicine. However, medical astrology, as I practice it, is clinical. At various times over the years, I have actually applied for grants (not successfully), but the truth is I have more faith in the cures that ensue from profound inner work than I do in treatments that address symptoms rather than causes.


Now, I wish to return to the theme of this article which is, "What is Medical Astrology?" I have begun by showing that medical astrology and modern allopathic medicine have evolved to the points they are today from rather different roots. Not only are their practices different, but their vocabularies do not even express the same understanding of illness and cure. Nevertheless, to understand medical astrology correctly, one must first understand medicine and astrology. I have given a brief overview of medicine and shall now do the same for astrology.

So, what is astrology? Basically, the horoscope is a map of celestial patterns whose influence catalyzes terrestrial experiences. The patterns mapped in the horoscope are "alchemical" in the sense that energies combine in infinitely various ways so that each instant is different from every other instant. Time is hence inseparable from "event". The Chinese have profound ways of addressing this concept. Each moment is an event. The memory of events is contained in the vast subconscious vaults of the divine feminine. Memories are reactions to experience. What we call therefore call "experience" is really a memory. Together, memories have patterns, but their patterns are different from the celestial patterns.

Archetypal Patterns

Celestial patterns are archetypal. They map Divine Idea and represent Intent or Destiny. Experiential patterns are personal. They are karmic. Fate—what happens in any given moment of Time—is a mixture of destiny and karma. Ideally, in a perfectly balanced individual, the personal would resonate as a response—as opposed to reaction—to the Divine. The Chinese describe the ideal interaction of celestial and personal patterns by a human being suspended between Heaven and Earth, a person acting as an intermediary between the two realms of existence.

In the horoscope, experience is represented by the Moon and its condition by sign, house, and aspect and other factors. Soul intent is portrayed by the Ascendant and its ruler, destiny by the Midheaven. The individual is the conscious being living, likely as not, unaware of the unconscious forces that determine the Fate that occurs in each moment.

Interestingly, the unconscious forces, the patterns of celestial and personal energies, exist outside of Time. Time exists in the manifested world where incarnational experiences are taking place. In other words, the personality, the Sun, is ephemeral—as are the moments we perceive as linear Time. The subconscious, or realm of personal memory, is built of reactions to moments which we call experience. It is entirely idiosyncratic and formed out of the past. Thus, if one were to dwell in the subconscious, the past would reverberate and give the impression, emotionally, that it is repeating. This is what is called karma and why, on a personal level, it is very difficult to create new experiences.

If one were instead to become soul conscious, one would see destiny as a state of beingness, not unmanifest and waiting to happen, but complete. It is only in the personality that we think that the future has not yet happened. Likewise, from the vantage point of the soul, the past is not entirely real. Reality, for the soul, is the expression of the soul’s truth which is, as noted, complete in its "mind".

What does this have to do with astrology?

To the extent that astrology is a tool used to guide individuals through their lives, it is important to recognize the forces which shape the moment. This does not mean that astrology is fatalistic, rather that Fate itself is born of the commingling of destiny and karma, the proportions of which differ according to the instant and the individual.


Health is essentially perfect balance. Balance between what and what? We have many ways of answering this question. Balance is ultimately an intimate issue that differs from person to person and moment to moment. Since each moment is different, part of the capacity to remain in balance depends on adaptability. In its turn, adaptability is the ability to be responsive to inspiration or destiny and to utilize this inspiration by the personality in an active and fulfilling way. If the response is inadequate or resistant, part of the energy is deflected or detoured. This creates disharmony with the moment — which, in turn, gives rise to imbalance.

Balance cannot therefore be viewed from a material angle alone. Balance is alchemical.

In medical astrology, balance on the physical level is most easily determined by the elements. The elements are constituents of the manifest realm which blend with each other to produce both form and chemical reaction. For instance, fire is found in the caustic chemicals of the digestive system. Without these chemicals, digestion would be incomplete. This, in turn, would result in fermentation, bloating, gas, and metabolic residuals which clog the system.

However, it is not sufficient to diagnose a person as "low fire." One must also know why a person rejects or suppresses fire. An individual may be constitutionally deficient in fire and able to compensate by taking supplements that augment hydrochloric acid and enzymes or which promote the secretion of bile. However, someone with very similar superficial symptoms may have suppressed fire (rather than low fire) because expression is viewed by the unconscious as undesirable: likely to provoke antagonistic reactions from others, reckless, dangerous, or otherwise inappropriate. Fire may also be deflected.

If, however, the moment requires the expression of a certain quota of fire and the individual does not express the fire, the fire will act upon him or her from without and function as a malefic. One might view this as a sort of unwritten law, a law that stipulates what a given moment will contain. If, in this case, expression is suppressed or diverted, fire is not allowed to function in its natural way. Usually, this gives rise to symptoms of depressed fire — apathy, malaise, and so forth — or to the victim experience. With a victim, the fire is expressed outside, by someone else whose use of fire is greater. This person raises his voice, becomes bossy or arrogant, or has temper tantrums, aggressive fits, or accidents.

In a balanced expression, there are no malefics or benefics, just adequate and complete responses to the moment. In such instances, Mars does not give rise to temper or fever, but rather to decisiveness, initiative, action, self confidence, and courage. Mars is then a catalyst, a prod to movement, directed and focused movement. It is neither reckless nor brave, malefic or benefic, merely the signal for the Time for action.

Where there is imbalance, the energy is not utilized in the intended manner. This is a deflection of cosmic intent, usually in the form of blocking of energy so that the energy is suppressed or deflected. Using the same Mars example, suppression might give rise to symptoms of toxic fire: blood impurities, rashes, feelings of despair and futility, indecisiveness, fear of the future, etc. On the other hand, deflection tends, as mentioned, to draw the Mars energy in the form of another individual and to result in a "poor me" drama that suggests that others have more strength and power than the one deflecting Mars.

Medical astrological counseling has to take into account both the symptoms and the cause of problems. The advisor must understand the individual and his or her reasons for reacting as he/she does.

For example, a person with a Capricorn Moon may value caution, preparation, and thoroughness more than spontaneity. These behaviors may feel safer and hence whatever is sacrificed by deflecting Mars is viewed as a smaller loss than whatever might be risked by embarking upon enterprise at the expense of predictability. Such a pattern might be deeply entrenched if past impulsiveness has been met by criticism, reprisals, loss, and disaster; for the memory of past experiences of unskillful uses of Mars tends to reinforce the psyche in such a way as to perpetuate the resistance to Mars.

For purposes of health, what is sought in each moment is adequacy of response, and this, in the example cited, requires some utilization of Mars -- regardless of the individual’s affinity or lack thereof to the energy stimulating response. 

Medical Astrology

In my various attempts to describe medical astrology, I have often remarked that the horoscope is a map of Time and energies. It is not a microscope. It does not describe pathologies. Many people are disappointed that I think this. They feel that their efforts to differentiate typhoid from hepatitis through astrology will not succeed if I am right. I would not go so far as to suggest that such a differentiation is impossible. However, I am convinced that it is highly unlikely and perhaps also irrelevant.

In my practice, most people already know that they are ill, and most come to me already knowing what their allopathic diagnosis is. Some even come with a grasp of at least some of the ways they might have participated in the creation of the disease or condition. Many have some insight into the patterns that might be contributing to their lack of health. They come seeking additional understanding, insights which go deeper and enable them to address their problems on a more causal level.

Patients almost never expect me to diagnose their conditions nor even to offer a prognosis. I work energetically and generally attempt to describe patterns and alternate ways of managing energies. So, my job is first of all to facilitate deeper insight and secondly to relieve suffering through whatever interim management of symptoms is possible. Where insight is concerned, I am functioning more or less as any other skilled astrologer might except that my special ability to focus on the body-mind connection often exceeds what those not so grounded in medical astrology might see or say. Where relief is concerned, my motivation is compassion for suffering and my repertoire of treatments is entirely energetic—and old-fashioned—for I am concerned with the pacification of excess and stimulation or fortification of deficiency. In holistic parlance, this is really detoxification and tonification, but this in the broadest sense of psyche and body. The result, it is hoped will be a lessening of pain and increase of proper flow of vital force. This is what is medical about my own practice or medical astrology, but I stay well within the realm of my own expertise and do not cross the fine line of practicing medicine without a license, for what I do is not medical. In the modern age, medicine is usually defined as the prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs, surgery, or delivering of babies—and I do none of these.

Over the many years that I have been interested in healing, I have studied a truly wide range of approaches to health. Among these, Ayurveda has played a major role, but astrology still provides the major insights—and music therapy the bulk of the significant cures. 

Health Assessment

Occasionally, I am consulted by people who have an awareness of their symptoms but no names for their conditions. Either they do not wish to consult a medical doctor who performs such diagnoses or they have encountered doctors who remain baffled by the symptoms and are not able to render an opinion. In such cases, I have sometimes been asked if I could diagnose. My answer is always the same, "No." This does not, however, imply that I am unable to impart useful advice. It merely suggests that I do not perceive astrology as a diagnostic tool in the sense they have in mind. I could as easily say, "Does it matter what the name of the disease is if the treatment will be the same?" This surprises a few people. I usually then go on to explain that all diseases have patterns, that the patterns of imbalance will usually go back to very early in life, that uncorrected patterns will become more and more complicated (symptomatically) as they remain untreated, and that likely as not, the symptoms will begin retreating when the right balancing measures are applied. In this way, I am stating a philosophy of medical astrology and healing as well as setting a conscious limit on what can be expected of me.

In fact, I prefer to work this way because names have powerful thought forms built up around them, most of which are quite demoralizing. For instance, it is seldom constructive to mention a so-called incurable disease by name because the thought forms of despair and hopelessness are often as not stronger than my more positive views of what might be done to bring about balance.

If, however, I were to say that all medical astrology can do is offer conjectures about general causes underlying symptoms, I would be doing medical astrology and myself deep injustice. In fact, I believe medical astrology is a potentially powerful holistic approach to health. I simply believe that its proper use needs to be understood, and much of the preliminary presentations to clients and patients needs to differentiate what can be expected from a medical astrologer as opposed to a physician.

By what has thus far been said, it must be quite obvious that I do not think that medical astrology and modern medicine have much in common. Medicine, as it is practiced today, essentially subscribes to the view that disease is pathological and that it needs to be destroyed or removed. It does not see disease as arising from imbalance but rather as entering from without due to invasion of microorganisms whose power for havoc is estimated as immense. To destroy these little germs, lethal treatments are used that undermine not only the vitality of the germs but also the patient.

So long as disease is viewed as dangerous, such measures will be tolerated. There is great historical evidence for the views which sustain modern medicine: fearful epidemics, dreadful suffering, and disfiguring results of disease. The plague, leprosy, poliomyelitis, and now A.I.D.S. are just a few examples of the reason for the posture of modern medicine. Posture is one matter, premises another. There is actually nothing in the annals of modern medicine that addresses the issue of imbalance . . . and, simply for the record, there is no one in holistic medicine so foolhardy as to suggest that there is no such thing as an invisible organism capable of causing infection. We no longer live in the Dark Ages, but if we did, we might find some medical tenets worthy of posterity.

The whole point is that nothing about astrology renders it fit to attack a germ. Even if one were able to identify typhoid in a chart, there is no vaccine that emerges from the alchemy of the planets to treat typhoid. What one sees instead is a constitution weakened by imbalances which render the individual unable to protect himself or herself from the ravages of disease.

If balance is the crucial issue, then the treatment must ensue from the premises. In this case, balance will correct the imbalance. In such instance, the logical treatment will not be the destruction of the germs but rather the strengthening of the weaknesses. Modern medicine has a few concepts that border on this, but I often as not find their thinking rather blurred. For instance, laboratory tests of blood may measure red and white blood counts, but the treatment that follows is often illogical. A better example would be that of reproductive hormones. If a woman’s estrogen level is high, she is sometimes given testosterone. This, to me, is absurd. It suggests that there is some vague understanding of balance, but it is seen as a kind of male-female issue whereas in reality a woman’s reproductive system is cyclical and estrogen is balanced by progesterone, another female hormone not by Jane trying to become Tarzan.

In other words, I do not think the concept of balance is well anchored in modern medicine. However, it is intrinsic to Chinese, Tibetan, and Indian medicine. It is also crucial to medical astrology. 

The Elements

My system relies heavily on several key factors: stress, the role of the unconscious in illness, and the elements. The elements are the easiest part of the system to teach because they relate clearly to symptoms, and many treatments are logical corollaries to the astrological information. For instance, sticking with our low fire example, if it is known that a person suffers from low fire, one can render simple but highly effective advice about ways to increase the fire through diet, herbs, and psychotherapy. The diet, if correctly implemented, will result in immediate cessation of the primary symptoms of indigestion. It will therefore usually help to prevent the imbalance from worsening. If a person overdoes the diet, he or she will eventually create a condition of the opposite: high fire. It’s logical. If an obese person dieted until reaching a normal weight and then persisted past this ideal point with the same diet, he or she would become emaciated. Likewise, if a corrective protocol achieves the optimal state, it should be adjusted so as to maintain that state rather than continued until it overcorrects to the point of folly.

If such a strategy is used, all symptoms can be gradually controlled, over a period of time. However, if the underlying causes are not addressed, the old condition will reassert itself if the corrective measures are discontinued. This may take days, weeks, or years; but it is certain that the patterns will eventually produce similar results if the patterns are not themselves changed.

So, therapy is designed to correct the patterns and eliminate thereby the causes of disease. This takes far more skill, more patient participation in the cure, and usually more time and practice. If one has a habit, an old, old habit, one can hardly expect to break it the first time one tries. Even if mind managed matter, it would take vigilance to prevent relapse and lots of skill before the adequacy of the response was satisfactory.

I sometimes use the example of my mother who learned when she was in her fifties that she was repeatedly the victim of Mars. When she first began to explore the use of Mars, she did not circle the globe on a surfboard or astound anyone with her heroism or militancy. She simply taught herself to be more physically active on days when Mars was more arousing. She did quite practical things around the house, Mars in Cancer, like cleaning cupboards, garages, and filing cabinets. She even taught me some things about astrology such as that it is easier to throw things away when the Moon is in Scorpio!

Years went by without her being a victim of Mars. With this came a gradual increase in self assurance and many other pleasant side effects that had been lacking earlier in her life when hot tempers seemed to flare up all around her.

In simple terms, it is not necessary for every Mars to become a shining knight, athlete, or pioneer. It is, however, necessary for every Mars to find some expression. 

Ancient Medical Astrology

Ancient medical astrology used many tools that have gone out of fashion in the West but are still highly regarded in the East. Various precious and semiprecious stones were prescribed along with metals or alloys of metals to pacify strong planets or strengthen weak ones. Likewise, herbs were all classified according to their planetary rulerships as well as energetic properties such as hot, cold, wet, dry, etc. A cold condition was treated with warming herbs, and a fever was treated with cooling herbs.

Every food has similar classifications, and this is part of what makes a system of medicine "energetic." Modern medicine is not energetic. It barely recognizes constitutional types and differences. All people with the same pathological conditions are given the same treatments regardless of their responses to the treatments; and people are taught to eat from the major food groups as if all bodies metabolized foods in the same way.

This makes no sense whatsoever to someone trained in any of the many branches of energetic medicine. However, it must be understood that just as modern medicine looks naïve to practitioners of energetic approaches to health, it possesses formidable powers of diagnosis which are much sought by patients.

What I would like to propose so far as medical astrology is concerned is that its history has probably never been separate from the history of medicine itself. Moreover, the schism I have described in medicine today is not new. There have always been empirical and clinical approaches to health. There have always been surgeons and herbalists, those who employ toxic medicines and those who use only benign remedies. What is new is the tremendous sway the one school of medicine has over the modern mind. What is new is the political and economic power of a school of medicine representing but one possibility in many.

There is no need for astrologers to embroil themselves in debates, but there is a need for astrologers to be realistic about what can be seen in a horoscope and then to develop the skills to apply the information in healing ways. Personally, I see herbs as the simplest natural adjunct to astrology, diet as somewhat more reliable in the long run and also more delicate, and psychotherapy of various types as the most labor intensive and insightful use of horoscopic information. Counseling skills evolve with proper use and attention to feedback and results. They are never born overnight nor handed to anyone on a silver platter. I can teach the fundamentals of my system in two-to-three years, but I have never been able to force anyone to put into practice what they learned. Some people apply new ideas instantly; others wait years before putting their toes in the water. It’s individual, but one should expect that expertise, whether of the patient or practitioner, grows with practice.

In the meantime, I would suggest following the advice of the ancients: heal thyself!


Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2000, 2001


What is Medical Astrology? || Acute versus Chronic Disease
Storks and Stars || Monastic Moon || Fire: The Power to Change
Psychology and Spirituality || Constitutional Type
Venus-Mars || Weight || Lunar Herbs
Soaring Spirit with Tears || Medicine Name
Sleeping Woman || Ego Light and Loving Light


Poulsbo, Washington