Each of us carries an inner beloved – an “inner other”, who is with us for every step of our lives. Creating and cultivating a relationship with this inner beloved can give us a sense of wholeness and completion distinct from any external relationship. Shamanic Astrology can give us certain clues about the nature of this being; here I offer some specific practices to guide you in coming to meet and know your own beloved.
What is the nature of the Inner Beloved?
On an astrological chart, there are two points that particularly represent the idea of “other”. One is the Descendant – that point that was setting on the western horizon at the moment of your birth. The other is the planet representing the opposite gender – Mars for a woman, or Venus for a man. (Nonbinary? See footnote.) Both of these elements of our experience are projected out on to others; if I’ve identified as a man, I expect women in my life to carry the feminine; and each of us carries a natural assumption that our needs in relationship will be met by others. But this masks a deeper truth – that these projected elements are also part of our own being.
Jung used the term “Shadow” to represent all the parts of ourselves that we’re separate from, and identified a tremendous longing that we carry to be reunited with these lost parts. He used the term “Animus” to represent the elements of the Masculine that women put in the shadow, and “Anima” to represent the Feminine that men separate from. This is a natural part of the growth of the self – we make innumerable decisions during our maturation process, saying “I’m this, I’m not that”. I’m a boy, not a girl; I’m a woman, not a man. But we carry both within us, and the resources that we’ve put in our Anima or Animus are still available to us.
The question then becomes, how do we connect with this part of ourselves? If it’s shadow material – if it’s a quality of ourselves that doesn’t really feel like our Self at all – how do we invite it in?
Recent teachings in Integral Theory offer an answer, which is to work with the three fundamental perspectives of It, You, and I, in sequence. First we describe the shadow part of ourselves – what’s it like? What gifts and inclinations does it have? What does it want? Second, we have a conversation with that part – we start a relationship with it, get to know it, using our imagination and intuition to access the shadow’s authentic voice. This practice culminates in Identification, allowing ourselves to fully inhabit the perspective of the shadow part, and receive its gifts and characteristics as part of who we truly are.
Here’s how that process works with the inner beloved, with the assistance of Shamanic Astrology. These practices should be done in this sequence, and take time to fully digest each before moving on to the next.
Third-Person: Describe your own inner beloved
The inner beloved is made of of a combination of three elements:
- Your masculine, as symbolized by Mars (for women) or feminine, symbolized by Venus (for men)
- Your relationship path, as symbolized by the Descendant
- Your own self-love.
This last is a vital and true piece – how critical are we of ourselves? How much of the unconditional love and appreciation of ourselves that is our natural birthright have we disowned, and put into the shadow? The inner beloved can hold this tremendous love, and return it to us through this process.
As an example of the astrology involved, consider a woman with Mars in Leo, and the Descendant in Virgo. Her inner beloved would combine the characteristics of both of these signs – the King / Star energy of Leo, but also the Priest energy of Virgo. He might be the High Priest! Or another way this man could show up would be as someone carries the Virgo appreciation of the relationship between nature and spirit, but who also carries the Leo gift of believing humanity to be a blessed and beloved part of that creation.
As with our own weaving of Moon, Ascendant and other elements to produce our own unique life, there are many ways the signs of the inner beloved can combine. So the signs are only a starting point – the rest of the discovery process is up to you. Remember, this being is truly a part of your own nature, so you will be guided in finding the truth of who they are.
Practices that can help you find the truth of your own inner beloved:
- Describe them to yourself, or to a friend. What do you think he’s like? What’s her nature? What makes them happy to be alive?
- Make the imagery of the inner beloved specific by coming up with a physical description. Is he tall? Is she strong? What color hair? What sort of a smile?
- Investigate the projected self-love, by letting yourself imagine what it is that your inner beloved so appreciates about you. Set aside your own judgements for a moment, and consider – if there were someone with you, that loved you absolutely, what would he or she really appreciate about you?
- Do a collage exercise – look through magazines to find images that represent your inner beloved. (This is a great way to let your unconscious do the work – your inner beloved knows what they look like!)
Second Person: Meet your inner beloved
Once we have a good description, it’s time to shift from the third person – using “he” or “she”, describing your inner beloved as if they are in another room – to the second person, where we use “you”, and talk directly with them. Have a conversation – move from describing them to really getting to know them.
It’s important to set aside some time for this process, to create the right setting for the conversation. Turn off your phone, close your door, and plan to spend at least 20 minutes. Drawing on the work we did in the third person, bring your inner beloved to mind. And express the invitation, especially if you haven’t done this sort of work before – let your beloved know that you want to spend some time with them.
From there, there are a number of options:
- Journaling is a good way to start. Having invoked the presence of your beloved, use a journal to write out a conversation. Just start writing your own thoughts, then shift perspective and write back what your inner beloved says.
- Ask your beloved questions about your life. Suppose you’re faced with a decision – ask their advice. This works especially well with relationship questions – if you’re not sure about asking someone out, or about how to work out an issue with your existing partner, get advice from your inner beloved. She or he knows you best, and wants you to be happy and successful in relationships – jealousy is not part of the picture.
- Bring your beloved forward during meditations. Here, the focus isn’t on verbal dialogue, but in simply being with your beloved, as you might when silently holding an external partner. Reach out to her energetically with your love; allow his love to come all the way into you. There’s no end to how deep this practice can go.
- Before going to bed each night, extend a conscious invitation to your inner beloved to come to you in your dreams.
At first, some of these practices might feel a little artificial, as though you are “making up” the beloved’s responses and presence. There’s always a little truth to that at the beginning, but keep going – holding this space and these practices creates a doorway that your true inner beloved can come through. You’ll soon be surprised at what emerges.
There’s no hurry to go to the next stage. The domain of the second-person relationship, the I and Thou experience, is where love is more deeply felt. Let yourself fall in love here, and let yourself receive the deep love and support of the beloved.
First Person: identify as the inner beloved.
Here we shift from the back-and-forth dialogue of the 2nd person relationship to identification – experiencing yourself as the inner beloved. Let go of your current gender and identity – give that Self you carry around all the time a little rest – and explore what it’s like to be the beloved.
- Write as the beloved. Write about yourself from the beloved’s perspective. Write about what you love and appreciate about the Self, what you hope will happen for the Self.
- Go for a walk, maybe in a quiet space like a forest path, or maybe just around your home. How does it feel to move as the beloved? How does your body move differently when the beloved is taking it for a walk?
- Look at the Self in the mirror (again from the first-person perspective of the Beloved). Feel the love in your heart for this precious being.
- Feel the qualities that you carry as the beloved – look again at the astrological elements identified above, and own them as your own. How do those signs feel? How do you want to bring those qualities in service to the self?
Ultimately, through this practice, we work towards unification with these formerly separate components of the self. What was once something outside of ourselves, that we yearned for, has now become part of ourselves, making us whole. The practices of identifying, connecting with, and abiding as the inner beloved all make it more possible to come into union with the beloved, and to own their qualities as our own. This is what we call the Inner Marriage, or Sacred Marriage – the union with the other half of our own soul.
There’s a fear that people often feel when contemplating these practices; it usually goes something like this: “If I’m whole and complete on my own, does that mean I’ll always be single?” The answer is quite to the contrary. Once we come into completion in ourselves, once we are no longer looking outside of ourselves for a completion that can’t be found there, we become much more suitable partners for whatever divine beings come our way.
Blessings on your union.
Footnote on gender and sexual orientation: For those who are drawn towards same-sex relationships, my recommendation would be to still use the opposite-gender planet (Mars for women, Venus for men) to identify the sign elements that compose your inner beloved, but to go ahead and envision the beloved as having the gender that makes sense for you.
For those who are non-binary or gender-questioning, I expect you’ve already had to integrate much of this work, but you may continue to find shadow/beloved elements in either your Mars or your Venus. In any of these cases, the Descendant remains a reliable guide.