Chat with Renn Buttler

renn buttlerThis chat was conducted by the Guild president, Joan Morton in January 2015.

Joan: When did you first became interested in studying astrology and what sparked your interest?

Renn: Right after high school, I went down to live with my mom in San Francisco for three months at the end of 1977. A friend of hers did my chart and then in September 1979, on our farm in Alberta, I discovered a copy of The Astrologer’s Handbook by Sakoian/Acker, that someone had left behind and have been deeply involved in astrology since that day. In December 1979, I went to live at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA for a year and spent several more years there in the 1980s. I was able to have many fascinating conversations with Richard Tarnas, as well as doing weekend workshops with Robert Hand and Joseph Campbell.

Joan: Your book “Pathways to Wholeness” is subtitled ‘A Map for the Inner Quest’ – can you tell us how the title relates to your astrological work and insights?

Renn: The full title is Pathways to Wholeness: Archetypal Astrology and the Transpersonal Quest. I believe that one of the most important purposes of astrology is to encourage people to explore their own psyches, to undertake the hero’s or heroine’s journey into the human unconscious. This usually begins with facing leftover traumas from childhood and birth, and then deepens into a determined search for higher meaning, i.e., a spiritual quest.

Joan: Your book draws on the work of Richard Tarnas and Stanislav Grof – can you explain how their work relates to astrology?

Renn: Grof made some epochal discoveries into some deeper dynamics of the human unconscious that had not yet been articulated in Western psychology and Tarnas was able to connect Grof’s work with the core meanings of the outer planets. This topic is too involved for a short answer, so I have attached two articles I wrote for anyone interested. (email your request to President Joan Morton at:

Joan: Can you explain what is meant by Holotropic States and Holotropic breath work?

Renn: Grof coined the term “holotropic” from the words “holos” meaning “wholeness”, and “trepein” meaning “moving toward”. Holotropic or non-ordinary states have played a central role in the ritual and spiritual life of humanity going back at least 30,000 years. The most common methods for entering these states have included various breathing maneuvers, meditation, fasting, trance dancing, sleep deprivation, sensory overload or sensory deprivation, and the responsible use of psychedelic states. Holotropic Breathwork is a variety of these practices which Stanislav and Christina Grof developed as a non-drug substitute for his earlier research with LSD Psychotherapy.

Here is my description from our workshop notices: Holotropic Breathwork™ is a technique of self-exploration that utilizes the healing power of deep breathing, evocative music, focused bodywork, and mandala drawing to enter holotropic “moving toward wholeness” states of consciousness. Following in the tradition of the shamanic practices, rites of passage and mystery religions of pre-industrial and non-Western cultures, we create a supportive and caring space in which participants’ own inner healer can select the most relevant material and bring it up for processing. These sessions are helpful for people seeking relief from physical tension or emotional pain, an opening of creative channels, or a deepened connection with the inner Divine.

Joan: Do you use your Certification in Holotropic Breathwork and Transpersonal Psychology in your personal astrology readings or are they separate processes – could you explain?

Renn: Well, the personal experiences I’ve had as well as the growth in my conceptual understanding from this training, certainly plays a role in my astrological practice. They’re not distinct. However, in a consultation, we talk about a person’s psyche, their relationships, emotions and psychological issues, as well as gifts and opportunities, whereas in a Holotropic Breathwork workshop they have a deeply experiential session.

Joan: Which of the current ‘world transits’ do you believe is most potent today?

Renn: The Uranus-Pluto square is the dominant alignment of the decade. But in the shorter-term, the Saturn-Neptune square, and the Jupiter-Uranus trine are powerful.

Joan: What advice would you give astrologers who want to learn to provide in-depth astrology readings?

Renn: I think exploring one’s own psyche is very important and then referencing those inner experiences with one’s transits. Looking at the charts of friends and family, and public figures whose archetypal dynamics and expressions are highly visible is also helpful.

Joan: What is the greatest value to clients from having an Astrology reading based on Archetypal Astrology? 

Renn: Archetypal astrology is focused less on events and more on the meaning behind events. It can also help people face and resolve certain archetypal energies – especially Mars, Saturn and Pluto – that routinely cause problems for many people.

Joan: Do you see any value or any need for astrologers to take formal training and certification?

Renn: Well, I certainly see the need for a code of ethics and professional responsibility. And training is always good. One problem with certification as I see it, at this point, is that there are so many schools and disagreements within astrology – whatever certification you have will contain the bias of your particular teachers and may be omitting other essential points.

Joan: What inspires you to continue as an Astrologer?

Renn: I believe that astrology will play a central and fundamental role in the new paradigm, an emerging world view which reconnects human consciousness with the cosmos and higher patterns of meaning. When combined with experiential forms of psychotherapy and self-exploration, astrology can help us come to terms with our shadow energies, especially fear, greed and aggression, which could have a major positive effect on the current global situation.

Joan: What aspect or pattern in your chart do you find most challenging?

Renn: Moon conjunct Saturn within one degree, in Capricorn in the 6th House.

Joan: What aspect or pattern in your chart do you like the most or find the most helpful?

The one I like the most is probably Mercury conjunct Venus. But Jupiter trine Pluto is probably the most helpful. (Smile from Renn!)

Joan: Is there an astrology teacher(s) and/or book(s) that have influenced you more than any other?

Renn: Rick Tarnas, Robert Hand, Liz Greene, Caroline Casey, and in my formative years also Reinhold Ebertin, Karen Hamaker-Zondag, Steven Arroyo and many others.

Joan: How involved are you with your chart on a daily basis?

Renn: I think about my transits every day.

Joan: Do you teach astrology? Can you explain what you teach and how you teach?

Renn: I’m creating a slide-show course that will embody my research in the astrology of film and actors, art, music, philosophy, literature, history, mythology and psychology, and will be offering webinar classes for small groups beginning this spring. I’m also going to team up with other archetypal astrologers and present a monthly webinar to the public, which will include astrological commentary on current events and psychological insights into what is happening.

Joan: What do you see for the future of astrology?

I believe it will move further away from the fortune-telling tradition and closer to a more psychological approach that encourages people to explore their own psyches.

Joan: What direction are you focusing on in your personal studies and practice? 

I’m really excited about the webinar events and classes. I also have another book germinating in my mind. With transiting Pluto conjunct my natal Moon-Saturn, and Uranus squaring my Moon-Saturn, there will obviously be sustained opportunities for unusually deep inner work, which I’m looking forward to.

Renn’s talk at the Guild is on March 12, check it out

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