Individualism is increasingly becoming the driving force in shaping our society. Today it's no longer about rebuilding ruined cities hand in hand after the war, our minds are primarily occupied with creating something of our own, something separate from others.
For example to gain as many likes as possible in a virtual world. Game time. Of course this does not apply to each and everyone of us but in general, in our society, this trend prevails. Thanks to the Internet, Western wealth and stability, the individual person is increasingly coming to the force and community is not necessarily stepping into the background but is changing because of that.
This is not bad at all, quite the contrary. The more we focus on ourselves, the more we are able to find the right building blocks to contribute effectively to shaping a good society. A key role in this plays our ego.
Since individualism can lead to ego and power games on the way to a good society, which rather confuse than enrich, an individual, appropriate way of dealing with our ego is important.
Between ego tantrums and ego intimidation, astrology offers personal advice for this appropriate handling.
To even think about about these things or decide to study astrology is most definitely the fault of a six year period abroad. Over there I slowly but surely said goodbye to everything I knew about myself or to who I thought I was. This may sound slightly spiritual yet you know what I mean when you look at your own identity from a further perspective. We know that we get specific identity building blocks with us from home, our friends, our country, our culture, yet you only really see this clearly when you radically say goodbye to it all. Some do this on the weekend, others decide to spend more time saying goodbye and find themselves again in it.
Particularly beneficial for this as in my case are longer stays abroad. Far away from everyday routine, deadlocked friendships and afterwork rituals, foreign countries provide a completely new perspective on your own life. This usually is the very reason we go abroad, to gain distance from the daily routines of life. The longer we spend abroad, the further the distance to our daily lives and to ourselves becomes. Therefore traveling is a great way to shake off our home identity for a while and even lose our ego.
Two extremes I'd like to talk about concerning the combination of ego and traveling are party tourists on the one hand and yoga tourists on the other. Party tourists throw their identity out of the window and drink to their loss of identity and control, yoga tourists move away from their identity through asanas, breathing and meditation. Both ways lead to the same goal; you lay down your shell for a while. Whether one method is healthier than the other can certainly be answered, but why is it that we feel the need to discard our identity? Is it because our identity is so heavy and pulls us down? Is it because it's bad to have an ego and we'd better stay arm in arm with all drinking buddies forever and take all fellow yogis into our hearts? Would that be a perfect, ideal world, a good society? Are we bad people when we have an ego? Why do we want to get rid of our identity and our ego? Because it's bad to have one?
I think the ego's supposedly bad reputation is very widespread. Our society associates the ego with avaricious, self-righteous behavior that merely aims to achieve personal benefits regardless of the consequences. But is the ego really such a bad boy? And can you actually get rid of it once and for all? Do you then live a better life and contribute to a better society?
Today I know that you need an ego to function as an individual and to be a working part of a functioning society. However the extended period of time I spent abroad gradually convinced me that I will be a better and happier person if I drop my ego.
Especially because of the close contact with nature, learning how to surf and a relationship that above all demanded submission from me and thus left no room for a functioning ego, caused me to distance myself more and more from my ego. Sure sometimes it came out and wanted to throw its weight around with a shortboard but in the end, with each sunset just as the sun, my ego dissolved in the sea. At some point I didn't really know who I was anymore. This may sound odd but I didn't really feel the need to be anyone anymore. Life felt so much better with no defined identity, direction, commitment, job or studies. I floated like a bird in the cosmos and it felt great. At least until my flight ended.
Prior to my crash landing however I still managed to reach the absolute highlight of my ego loss journey for which I am thankful to this day.
I went after a collective dream and was rewarded with an individual insight. Hollywood called my name and I responded with a plane ticket from Bali to California to the American dream. Obvious victim to too many Hollywood movies, I thought I could make my dream as a dancer in LA come true. I felt ridiculously inspired without an old identity and found myself in a kind of identityless in-between state that allowed me to avoid self-doubt. I no longer saw myself as a definite, limited person, but rather as a part of something greater. And as a part of that I thought the world was just waiting for me.
Instead of waiting it turned out that the world was already light years ahead. I saw the reality of the dancers in America and quickly felt out of place. Even though I looked for all dance studios in North Hollywood, visited them and took lessons, I quickly realized that it wasn't such a great idea to leave my healthy self-doubt at home. It was hard to keep up and the curiosity and excitement that brought me to America quickly turned into frustration and disappointment. I realized that here I didn't find what dancing meant to me, which is self-expression and joy. So I had to look somewhere else.
At the absolutely right time yoga came crawling out of its hiding place and I turned away from dancing to devote myself to this 'sport'. Previously in Bali I had already attended a lesson, now in LA I signed up for a beginner's intensive course.
We were a small group of four people who decided to get to know the trend sport from the ground up in a very relaxed circle. Before we jumped into any poses, we discussed the philosophy of yoga. The atmosphere was very pleasant and authentic. After the hectic, competitive dancing, it was the first time I really felt like I had arrived in California.
Alone in America, driven by the idea to live a dream, the essence of yoga spoke to me directly. I was curious, open and hungry for life and new knowledge. The course fulfilled me to the degree that I had hoped for in dancing.
As luck would have it, one day I was the only person who came to the course. The course was taught in the so-called Mysore style which meant that we practiced alone, our teacher watched and then corrected us. Since no one else was there this time I was meant to go through the poses all alone. Instead of watching me to correct my poses, my teacher grabbed a small booklet, swung into a for me impossible cross-legged position and started reading from it.
So I did my yoga flow and my teacher talked to me the whole time, in a language I didn't understand. Sanskrit. At first it was completely awkward and I felt so strange but the more I just concentrated on my breath and my poses the faster I managed to blank out the weird situation. Not only that, my breath began to move into a rhythm with the words of the foreign language.
I spent about half an hour breathing, posing and half listening. I didn't understand the words that blurred into a melody but the less I listened, the more another part of me consciously perceived the words.
The mixture of strangeness, my own breath, the depth of words that my mind didn't understand but another level of me and the energy of my teacher brought me into a very different state. It was as if I understood something before my mind had a chance to grasp it.
When my lesson was over I walked to the bathroom feeling dazed. There in the mirror I caught a glimpse of my reflection and couldn't help but to take a longer look. I looked in the mirror and as I stared a little closer, my reflection began to change. I saw myself twice and slightly distorted. I looked more closely, looked deeper into my eyes and everything blurred. My reflection began to change kaleidoscopically. It was like being under the influence of drugs. It was more than strange but also so interesting that I didn't want to stop staring at myself. I tried to understand what I saw and at that moment I understood something absolutely essential to me to this day. That was the moment I realized that there was so much more underneath my body than I'm able to see from day to day. Not only did I realize that I was more than a body I actually saw it in the mirror right in front of me.
I experienced transcendence. I'm not saying this for you to admire my spirituality but rather to point out that each one of us has already made such experiences.
Whether it happens at a sunset, looking into the eyes of a loved one, on a day that offers too many coincidences to just be any normal day, when the first snow falls, when you and other people achieve something together, whenever - experiences in which the world is strangely quiet and you feel like something greater than just a body, more or less like a part of God in France, is really not so uncommon.
This experience personally filled my heart with so much joy that I could hardly believe it. The perspective on my own life changed abruptly. Before that I had already made some experiences leading me into this direction but never before was it so crystal clear and, above all, visible, in my own reflection. I knew it was a small, insignificant experience in the bustle of life so I was all the more aware that I wanted to hold onto it.
I knew it would be very easy to forget about such experiences or at least not label them as special. But I did not want that. I knew that I had encountered something that had been missing in my life so far and I didn't want to lose it again under any circumstances. I wanted to bring this transcendent experience into my reality. I wanted to hold onto it and not lose it. I wanted to always take it seriously, I didn't want it to be taken away from me and I wanted to live my life accordingly to it. It was logically then for me to tattoo my face.
When I came back to Germany with a fresh facial tattoo less people were thrilled. It was so hard for me to keep up with what I had experienced and to keep it in positive memory. I felt very misunderstood and had a difficult time coping with it. That's why, as soon as I filled my travel fund, I flew back to Bali. I couldn't really face my home, more specifically, I didn't know which person I was at home.
On one hand I had an urgent need to be part of society, to fit into the reality of Germany, on the other hand I had absolutely no clue how. It was a dilemma for me because what brought me so much joy and set free such truth in me, in my eyes wasn't feasible in a German context. If I think about it today my heart still feels quite heavy.
Although I had some difficulties during and after my experience abroad I'm glad that I've experienced all ups and downs. By having the time and the opportunity to put off my ego and identity for a longer period of time I've achieved something of immense importance for myself. I'm happy that I've experienced things that made me let go of my ego because with a solid identity I would have never gone to America alone, just to pursue a dream, and would have never reached a milestone in my personal development. Letting go of my ego and identity has made me a stronger person. Therefore I completely agree with the winning strategy of world renown boxing coach Martin Snow:
“Whatever identity you have, whoever you were or whoever you thought you were has to die because if that person walks into the ring, they will not walk out of the ring. When I step into the ring, I don't know who I am. I literally don't know who I am. All I see is a guy over there who wants to take my head off and all I can focus on is attack. That's all. I have no ego.”
Yes, I think you can achieve great things by dropping your ego and identity, yet I think this only works temporarily. Even if life sometimes feels like a boxing ring, a boxing ring is not real life. Real life demands identity and a functioning ego.
To use the words of astrologer Steven Forrest:
"Every human being is a web of conflicting emotions. We are plagued by memories and hunches, lured by dream scenarios. We love. We fear. We create. We know about the tragedies of life. If a traffic cop stops us because we drove fifty in a tempo thirty zone he doesn't ask us to tell him all this. To be effective in the world we need to simplify ourselves. We need to express the richness of the psyche 'streamlined' and concise.
This form may only be a pale reflection of what we really are, but we have no choice. Although it may seem two-dimensional compared to our true nature, life requires that we have a personality and personality is always the role we play not what we really are. Personality is always a mask."
Most people are probably aware of this and hardly waste any thoughts on it but when I read these words for the first time I experienced a huge aha moment.
On one hand, the scales fell from my eyes realizing that it's not possible, or has to be possible always, to wear one's innermost and greatest transcendental experiences on the sleeve and on the other hand that you even have to wear a mask. That this is not considered cowardly and falsely, arrogantly or aggressively really knocked me out of my socks. To be honest it was a great relief because I was almost ready to rather be no one and somehow manage my way through life than having to pretend to be someone who I wasn't truly on the inside.
I'd rather be nowhere than in the wrong place.
By now I clearly see that this thinking lacks balance. I understand that I don't always have to be understood. That in the end nobody really understands you anyway. Everything one says is filtered and understood by the listener through his or her own experiences. So in specific terms, no one really understands you correctly. In addition, it's not possible to explain something so deep to each person and demand for it to be understood. I think finding something like this is something special and reserved only for the best friendships and strongest connections. Of course, I wasn't aware of this because the experience shook me to my core and I felt it was so essential that I wanted to share it with every human being and wanted everyone to experience it as well.
Today I'm slightly more relaxed. Of course, it's still a matter of heart for me that people come closer to it but I know that such experiences are not the only important thing in life, and above all that life doesn't work that way.
Life, our society, works thanks to our ability to express our essence in public succinctly, so that we are an effective part of the whole and thus the whole works.
But what if we allow ourselves more time to decide which ego we want to take on?
What if we realize that we have a choice? If we realize that we are not victims of our past but are always able to choose who we want to be? That an ego is nothing stuck, given by birth, heavy, bad but rather something valuable and essential to our survival which is up to us to form and create?
What if the ego is our chance and ability to express our innermost selves? What if an ego is solely made for this purpose? Shouldn't we then be much more interested in getting to know our innermost selves rather than polishing a false mask?
Yes, it's absolutely not easy but what if we know we have the opportunity? If we all realize how important an ego is for our society in total and if we all realize, above all, that it is a path to the right ego, a process that takes time? When we realize that an ego has nothing to do with big watches, red Trump heads or a lot of money but with self-knowledge, self-esteem, courage and beauty? Wouldn't we then be more willing to let go of false masks or stop hiding ineffectively behind masks that are too small anyway?
Wouldn't that be much better than pretending we always had everything under control when in the public eye, and would we therefore also stop expecting this from others? Wouldn't that put less pressure on us and give us more time and freedom to go and find our true selves before accepting any mask?
Wouldn't we then move away from a consumerist society to an advanced society that realizes that it makes no sense to buy things before we even know our true dimensions?
Wouldn't we experience more fun, material satisfaction and fulfillment and at the same time spare the planet?
Yes, we have to function, but I think we should spend more time functioning properly. I think that, not only will we function better ourselves, but also our entire society. People with the right ego present the suitable building blocks for an effective and holistically functioning society. Searching for solutions to the problems of our society in the outside world is, as we are beginning to notice more and more clearly, not sustainable enough. But what if the solutions to the problems of our society are not outside of us, but in the complexity of each and every one of us who has managed to channel that individual complexity into an appropriate ego and that way is able to make a purposeful and valuable contribution to our society? Doesn't it then make more sense than ever to see our ego as something precious for its creation we should take our time?
I assume it took Darth Vader quite a long time to decide on his getup since he had to impress and influence not only a city but an entire galaxy.
Transitioning to the stars, astrology offers black-on-white insights on this complex topic which are easy to read. How, I will explain below.
In astrology the so-called ascendant provides information about our ego.
Let's see what Steven Forrest has to say:
"The ascendant represents the mask, the social identity we hide behind and through which we express the rest of the horoscope."
To illustrate this let's take a look at my birth chart.
First of all we have to find the ascendant and look up in which zodiac sign it is. The ascendant is in the center left of each horoscope. In my case the ascendant is in the zodiac sign Leo.
We then go on and find out what kind of meaning an ascendant in Leo has:
(Hajo Banzhaf, Anna Haebler—Keywords for astrology)
[It goes without saying that the horoscope is always holistic. The above statements about the Leo ascendant thus apply only conditionally, in relation to the entire horoscope. Furthermore it should be noted that a horoscope does not necessarily make statements about how a person really is. On the contrary, it shows how a person could optimally develop according to his or her abilities and assets.]
As Steven Forrest mentioned before, the ascendant is the social identity we hide behind and through which we express the rest of the horoscope. Another important part in this plays the so-called ruler of the ascendant.
Steven Forrest says:
"The ruler of the ascendant takes this centering process a step further. Imagine it as the ascendant's ambassador which has been transferred to another part of the horoscope, but still acts in its service. Wherever the ruler of the ascendant may be, its activity plays a pivotal role in developing the sense of being an independent, contrasting personality. The planet helps to define oneself . "
As we've already found out, my ascendant is in the zodiac sign Leo. Now let's see which planet rules the zodiac sign Leo.
We see that the sign Leo is ruled by the Sun:
We now also see in my birth chart that the planet Sun in my case is in the zodiac sign of Cancer in the 11th house.
So what does all of that mean?
It means that I most feel like an independent, contrasting person of my own when I wear a Leo mask to express themes of the 11th House in the style of Cancer.
To get to the specifics of this, we need to know which themes are being presented by the 11th house and with what kind of energy the zodiac sign Cancer in my case affects the 11th house.
(Hajo Banzhaf, Anna Haebler—Keywords for astrology)
And the 11th house:
(Hajo Banzhaf, Anna Haebler—Keywords for astrology)
The fact that my ascendant (AC for short) is in Leo and its ruler, the Sun, is in the 11th house in the zodiac sign of Cancer, means that I feel most like a distinguished personality when I confidently express (Leo) humanitarian goals (11th house) in an emotional way (Cancer).
I leave this sentence so simple to make the principle of this procedure as clear as possible.
Even if the sentence sounds a bit odd I wouldn't mind being defined by the world in this way. Much more than that I would feel understood. That's the ego I feel in tune with, one my innermost self feels content with and no need to add or explain anything.
[Since other planets, to be exact, Venus, Mars and Jupiter are at my ascendant, they also have an impact on my ego. So if there are planets directly at your ascendant, their influence can not be ignored and it's worth getting to know the energies of the affected planets.]
To find your own ascendant you need to have your birth details ready: date of birth, birth time and place of birth.
Having your birth chart at hand you have your ascendant and are also able to see in which house and zodiac sign your ascendant's ruler stands. Connecting the info as I've explained above will provide you with the necessary information about your ego. *
Here you can create your own birth chart:
* Keep in mind though that a horoscope needs to be looked at holistically. Although you might find out information about your ego, do not take everything literally. The rest of your horoscope most definitely plays a great part in defining your ego. Humans are complex creatures after all.