Interview in The Mountain Astrologer (Oct/Nov 2013)

Patricia Walsh


Healing the Soul's Wounds

An Interview with Patricia L. Walsh by Moll Frothingham

Patricia L. Walsh occupies a fascinating position at the crossroads of Evolutionary Astrology and Past-Life Regression Therapy. She studied personally with Roger Woolger, founder of the Deep Memory Process, and became his chief trainer in the United States.

She is a graduate of the Jeffrey Wolf Green School of Astrology, founded by the internationally renowned author of the seminal book, Pluto: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul (Llewellyn, 1985).

Patricia's work in these two fields led her to write Understanding Karmic Patterns (Wessex Astrologer, 2009), based on thousands of case studies of past-life regressions. She also contributed to Insights into Evolutionary Astrology (Llewellyn, 2010; Rose Marcus, editor). Based in Sarasota, Florida, she maintains a busy schedule training, consulting, and lecturing around the world. In addition to her books, more information on her work is available on her website:

Patricia Walsh

My initial encounter with Patricia came at her first NORWAC lecture in 2009; I was impressed that her astrological insights were informed not only by her experiences in Past-Life Regression Therapy, but also by her long-term studies of esoteric and shamanic practices. I conducted a phone interview with Patricia after her return from a training workshop in Australia, with follow-up questions via e-mail between hurricanes in Florida and workshops in New York. Whether Patricia is lecturing at a conference, fighting off the effects of jet lag, or writing on a computer, her intellectual curiosity, breadth of knowledge, and personal warmth come through vividly.

In light of the work she does, I was particularly eager to discuss two current topics with her: the increasing concern over the symptoms of post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in our returning veterans and the growing awareness and adoption of shamanic healing methods in the United States. I began our conversation with the latter topic.

Moll Frothingham: In the last ten years, I've noticed more and more books in the metaphysical section of bookstores devoted to "shamanic healing." Have you noticed a growing interest in shamanic practices, in terms of the work you've been doing?

Patricia Walsh: I think that the inter- est in going back to Earth-centered ways has a lot to do with the direction that the collective needs to take, which is paying more attention to our interconnectedness — Mother Earth, Gaia, and nature-centered consciousness. But on the esoteric side, what I also find interesting — and have seen a lot in my work with groups — relates to what Alice Bailey said in her works: that souls reincarnate in groups. What that means is that certain archetypal themes get repeated through generations. I think the particular generations that we're tapping into — those herbalists killed during the Middle Ages, the witch- burnings ... I think a lot of those souls have reincarnated. Which brings us back to people who work in modern- day practices as alternative healers — herbalists, naturopaths, etc. Many of them are the returning herbalists, the wise women, the ancient ones.

This idea of souls reincarnating in groups is true, generationally, and when we look at that astrologically, that's Pluto by sign. There is also a resurgence of interest in understanding "shamanic" ways of healing and living. The term "shaman" is often quite misused and homogenized because of that, and it is not a term that anyone should apply to themselves. I typically say that my healing work is based in shamanic principles, because it is ... but that does not make me a shaman, or shamanka, to be more precise.

MF: What was your path to astrology? Were the works of Alice Bailey instrumental in that?

PW: If I were to say that I had a religion, it would be the way that the divine expresses itself through the human psyche. That is one of the most awesome things that I continue to observe and delight in. At the same time, the way that the divine expresses itself through the natural world is pretty mind-blowing also!

But how the divine expresses itself through the human psyche, from the archetypal to the individual to the egoic consciousness — it's absolutely fascinating to me! In grammar school and in high school, I was reading everything I could on psychology. I was reading Jung and Freud, and then I was into esoteric literature — Alice Bailey was a big part of that; in the Bailey material, there's a whole branch of esoteric astrology. And then the psychological astrologers, especially Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas, really caught my attention.

But in my passion for understanding the human psyche — what makes us tick, what is being expressed through us — astrology was a natural thing for me to reach out to. It's a map or a tool, another way to understand the psyche.

MF: Did you ever have an "Aha!" moment where something just clicked and you thought "this explains so much," which shifted your interest into a deeper exploration?

PW: I started out in high school with The Only Astrology Book You'll Ever Need (by Joanna Martine Woolfolk), which gave me the foundation. Then there were the psychological astrologers. When I came across Jeffrey's work on Pluto and the evolutionary journey of the soul, that tied together everything I was intuiting and observing regarding the human psyche; he described
it in a way no one had done before. So, when I got that, I thought: "This is the only astrology book I'll ever need!" [laughing]

MF: Jeffrey Wolf Green (for those unfamiliar with his work) uses Pluto as the symbol of the soul's conditioning, then looks at the nodal axis, the rulers of Pluto and the nodal axis, and the aspects connected to them. Other astrologers have talked about the Moon or the 12th house as the karmic past. Have you found in your work any astrological signatures that "pop out," in terms of karmic conditioning of our past lives?

PW: Rather than coming up with a theory and projecting that onto somebody's past, because I was doing and teaching regression work, I collected several thousand case studies. I was doing that for my own fascination and study. I am quite fortunate to have access to so many people's psyches, and the ability to observe them in trance-state therapy. So, I would have somebody's chart, and regress them or hear their session, or observe them in training, and I'd write their past lives — along with the deep emotional imprints and traumas that came up — on the back of the chart. When I flipped the chart over, their experiences were described so clearly in the exact way that Jeff Green's Evolutionary Astrology describes them. The baseline archetypes that their psyche would return to over and over again, in various past lives, would ultimately relate to Pluto and the nodes, not only circumstantially but — more importantly — by emotional karmic complexes. The other dramatic illustration that I saw involves the special rules that apply in Evolutionary Astrology, such as when there's a square to the nodes. This is one of the departures from regular karmic astrology, which has taught for years that we're always moving from our South Node to our North Node. Whereas in Evolutionary Astrology, when there's a square to the nodes, it's saying that the archetypes of the South Node, North Node, and squaring planet are all part of the soul's past history. And that they're being brought up again in the current life, often experienced in the form of a crisis (external or internal), so that the soul can rework that t-square.

For example, say someone has a Libra/Aries nodal axis being squared and Libra was the South Node: If they were only coming from the South Node, the kind of past-life memories that they would go into would have a lot to do with relationships and injustice and seeking harmony — also swinging between extremes and psychological splitting, which also belong to that archetype. But when I looked at case after case of these squares to the nodal axis, these Libra South Node types would have had past lives as loners — as pioneers and warriors — which is clearly the North Node in Aries, and this was their own psyche's memory coming up with these images through regression.

MF: And these case studies are the basis for your book.

PW: I didn't realize I was collecting material for a book until I had several thousand case studies sitting in boxes! Then, after a comment from a friend, I realized that what I had was of value for both the astrology and transpersonal psychology worlds.

MF: What kind of response have you gotten to the book from these two worlds?

PW: [laughing] Just look at my calendar! I'm booked through 2014.

MF: Have you run into resistance from astrologers who don't believe in past lives or from past-life regression therapists who don't believe in astrology?

PW: I don't find that discussing things on a "belief-only" basis makes sense to anyone, and I don't have any inter- est in "converting" nonbelievers. I have my experience, and others have theirs. From years of working with both astrology and regression, it is more a matter of experience for me now rather than belief. I prefer to discuss things from a point of similarity rather than differences ... so I don't get into those "believer– nonbeliever" debates.

For example, I knew a woman who was "born again" and very strong in her faith; she talked to me about a healing she had received during a group session with a minister. She had relationship issues, basically fueled by a repressed memory of abandonment by her father. The pastor asked her to hold out her arms and say "Don't leave me"— she found herself in tears, and the repressed memory came back, opening up the door for her to heal that old wound. She was so excited when I told her that is similar to the work I do in regression and that those are also known techniques used in psychodrama and Gestalt therapy. The difference is that I leave open the possibility that past-life memories might also come up — doesn't matter if you believe in them or not. If you are open to simply let the subconscious speak, I will treat it as if it is a "real" memory and go from there. She couldn't wait to get on the mat and regress! Despite her belief system, she did have "past-life" memories and was quite surprised herself. I feel that she was open to it, because I was open to her.

Roger [Woolger] used to say: "It doesn't matter if the conscious mind believes or not, the subconscious is a true believer." I have actually found lots of similar discourse with those of radically different belief systems. In fact, two years ago, on my way out to NORWAC to speak, I sat next to a missionary on the plane. We started discussing "deliverance" work — basically exorcism — which is a part of my work also. We had the most fascinating conversation about the similarities of his model and the, let's say, more shamanic or psycho-spiritual ways of doing the same work. So, if I can find that in those worlds, I'm not going to waste my energies "arguing" with supposed colleagues. [laughing]

MF: You trained for two years with Roger Woolger and his Deep Memory Process. Had you already been aware of Jeffrey Green's work, or was it something that came when you began to work with past-life regression?

PW: They happened concurrently. I was living in Germany, in relative isolation from the English-speaking world. So, I wasn't plugged in to a lot of what was happening in the U.S. I was under- going my own personal transformation — this was in the '90s — my own "Underworld initiation," which was basically my Pluto square. So, as you can imagine, my whole world was turned upside down, and I was "dismembered" and "re-membered." I went through hell, and during that time my own kind of shamanic work started to wake up in me. I found Jeffrey's book around that time but never had any personal contact with him. I had already been working with the human psyche a lot, in soul retrieval and soul fragmentation, studying how the psyche reacts to trauma and correlating that to the astrological chart. I moved back to the U.S. in 1999, and I met Jeffrey and Roger both at the same time.

MF: Wow!

PW: [laughing] Literally, at the same time!

I trained with Roger for two years in Deep Memory Process and then apprenticed with him for another two years — four years of training — and then he asked me to become his chief trainer in the U.S. So, that's when I really delved into the regression work. What Roger was teaching was more of an externalized way to guide the person through their journey, rather than the more shamanic mode — where I'm diving into a person's psyche and finding the soul fragments and bringing them back.

I really liked that model for a lot of different reasons. At the same time, I realized: "This Jeffrey guy is on the planet, and I can go study with him!" So, the two formalized studies happened simultaneously.

MF: Can you describe what the for- mal study with Jeffrey consisted of?

PW: I first participated in the online message board he had at the time, which involved lots of personal mentoring from him and the community. Then he was offering two 5-day training sessions over the course of a year in Colorado, somewhere in the early 2000s, which I signed up for right away. Unfortunately, he became ill, and an announcement went out that the training was cancelled. I was quite disappointed, but then Jeffrey came to me in a dream and told me the trainings would happen again; he just needed some time to recuperate — awfully nice of him to let me know! [laughing] Well, they were rescheduled a year or so later. In fact, the first day of the first training was the exact moment of my transiting Uranus opposition, which not only denotes the archetype of astrology itself but can also indicate a new life direction. It was during that training that I started cooking up the idea of writing my book.

Patricia Walsh

MF: Were there any surprises, or differences, with Jeffrey as a teacher in person, compared to what you'd experienced through his writing?

PW: As a teacher and mentor, he was always quite kind and supportive of me. I had expected him to be a bit harsh, since I had only seen some early videos of him where he was that way — he is Mr. Pluto, after all! But that was not my experience of him; in personal work or readings with him, he always zeroed in directly, gently, and of course with great profundity. I was so fortunate to be in those classes because they were the last he ever did. The depth and wisdom of the entire paradigm of Evolutionary Astrology is not captured in his books. I think it would be impossible to do so anyway — you only get that in person or as you engage in the study of it.

MF: You mentioned Roger's approach, in terms of shifting away from the shamanic form of doing the soul retrieval for someone and instead having the person them- selves doing it. In your book, you mention Peter Levine and Waking the Tiger, which is a book about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how it's uncompleted fight-or-flight response, how the survival energy gets frozen and needs to reach a point of completion. Would this reliving through past-life regression be one way to complete that cycle?

PW: Modern trauma theory applies to the human psyche in the present life as well as the past life. So, you can have past-life characters within you that are traumatized because of unfinished business or specific overwhelming events that occurred to them in the past, and they remain frozen in the psyche. Now, Levine is talking about fight, flight, or freeze, and that's really what forms trauma — you can't fight, you can't flee, so you freeze. And all of the impulses that were held in the psyche, the body, and the emotions at that time remain frozen.

Levine's methodology is slightly different. In regression work, we go back to the past-life character that's holding that particular freeze. The reliving of the past life is 50 percent of the healing. The rest is worked out in what we call the After-life, or Bardo state of that past-life character, where they are allowed to bring to completion what they were unable to complete in their own past life.

For example, a woman in a past life has her baby snatched from her arms and is then killed. Let's say that past-life woman's self is still living in you, horrified that she couldn't save her child and then dying with huge guilt and fear. This is where shamanism is really useful. Because it talks about the propensity of the soul to fragment and to dissociate and lose parts of itself when it experiences trauma.

So, back to our woman: A part of that past-life woman's soul can literally be frozen in time, in that moment of shock. How might that be influencing the person in the current life? They may fear having children; they may go ahead and have a child but have an abnormal paranoia about the safety of that child.

In our work, the idea is that the traumatic impressions are held through all of the subtle (energetic) bodies. You hold karmic imprints, not only in your physical (etheric) body, but also in your emotional and mental energetic bodies, which are shed at death but "recollected," in a sense, each time you reincarnate. You essentially pick up where you left off. In regression therapy, the reliving of the past life is waking up the trauma and bringing it back to consciousness — that is the first part of the "soul retrieval" — then going through the death experience and into the After-life, finishing the unfinished impulses, which releases the soul fragment that's been stuck there for a couple hundred years or more!

When we get to the spirit world, we essentially let that part know (in a variety of ways): "It's over. You can do now what you couldn't do then." The first thing that woman is going to want to do is find the soul of that baby and hold it again. We allow and guide that past-life self to have its completion in the After-life, because we come from the understanding that it has been literally frozen there and still needs healing. Levine does the completion without the context of the past lives.

MF: Are you talking about going back and forth between the "resourcing" (images/memories that are calming in nature) and the trauma?

PW: Right. To us, in regression work, it happens in two stages. The reliving is the opening of something, and the Bardo work is the resolution of what you've opened up. That resolution happens through the use of psychodrama, through the use of Gestalt, and all these other wonderful principles we apply, from a psychological understanding as well as the shamanic.

MF: How long does this work usually take? Is it done in one session or several?

Patricia Walsh

PW: Most people have a shift, sometimes a major one, after only one session. It is hard to generalize, since each person's psyche is quite unique. Some healing is immediately quantifiable, such as in cases where unexplained life-long phobias or fears are simply gone after one session. In other cases, when working on, say, an "abandonment complex," we can find several layers that contribute to the issue, and each needs to be worked through. The truth is often that a soul repeats certain traumas through many lifetimes, so there can be several lives that need to be worked on. But you can also sometimes get to a core life that holds the charge of the whole complex, and when that is worked with, it is like a ball of yarn that unravels ... the entire complex softens.

MF: Does the relive/Bardo process generally heal the problem, or do you use or recommend other techniques in terms of "aftercare" — continued therapy, meditation, flower remedies, crystals, or the like?

PW: I don't think that any one thing is the answer or solution. Each one of my clients is different; some need other methods as well, which I often recommend. There is also a lot of integrative work they can do after sessions, such as continued dialogue with their own past-life characters, meditative work, drawing, journaling — all are recommended. To me the soul speaks in image, myth, metaphor, and story. All of these things, like dreams, can be revisited and, upon doing so, deepen and reveal more each time.

MF: One of the other things Jeffrey talks about is Uranus and Aquarius as signatures of trauma. Have you found that to be true in your case studies?

PW: I think it's clear why I do the work that I do: I have an Aquarius South Node in the 11th house (double signature)! I tell this to my classes: I was so dissociated coming into this life that I literally used to follow myself to school. Many of my memories of the playground are looking at the back of my head. That's how totally fragmented I was coming into this life, most of it prior-life trauma. My childhood was not so hugely traumatic. There was trauma, but not to that extent!

In Evolutionary Astrology, part of the archetype of Uranus, Aquarius, and the 11th house describes the propensity of the psyche to fragment and the nature of the trauma that causes the fragmentation. The next archetype — Pisces, Neptune, and the 12th house — describes the propensity of these fragmented parts to dissociate and to become lost, or frozen in psychic space.

MF: We're hearing a lot more about PTSD in terms of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and concerns about how they're being treated. Clearly, they're experiencing a lot of present-life trauma. Have you been working with soldiers?

PW: I've had the opportunity to work with World War II veterans, Viet Nam veterans, and veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Each war's signature of the trauma is certainly different, on a psychological level, yet the same mechanism of PTSD is present in all these veterans.

MF: Can you speak on the different aspects of the signatures? Obviously, a lot of Pluto in Cancer people were fighting in WWII. Do you see that, in terms of the archetypes and the war they fought, or are there other signatures?

PW: The WWII veterans fought what was considered by society an "honorable war." As opposed to the Viet Nam veterans, who came back shamed, because society was unable to deal with what was going on. So, they became scapegoats. Right there is a huge psychological wounding that exists in one generation but not the other.

The interesting thing about the WWII veterans is that they came back feeling well-received by society, which is archetypally the way that the warrior is able to return. In some ancient tradittions, the warrior would be initiated to become a warrior, leave and go fight the war, then come back and go through a process of reintegration into the tribe or society. In one African tradition, they had a "washing of the spears" ritual, and the returning warriors would live in isolation for a period of time, working through various cleansing ceremonies before they were reintegrated into tribal life.

The WWII veterans were able to put themselves back together because they were welcomed back with the sup- port of their society. But they never talked about what happened to them. I know of WWII vets who had incredible guilt about things they'd done. Nobody talked about that; nobody talked about the dishonorable acts that soldiers were forced to do. That was their warrior code — to "man up," so to speak.

Whereas Viet Nam veterans didn't get that ritual acceptance when they returned. They were left to deal with their pain, but because of that and the generational differences, more of them spoke openly about what had happened.

The Iraq vets I've dealt with (and this has lot to do with training methods) — I don't know what boot camp was like in WWII, it may have been the same — but they are literally trained to become psychopathic killers. There are clear examples of that, just in the marching songs at boot camp. Here are some sample lyrics:

Throw candy to the children
Wait until they gather round
Lock and load your M-16
And mow them suckers down.

So, when they come back, there is no re-entry into society. They've been indoctrinated to become calculating killers, remorseless and, yes, psychopathic, and they come back trying to deal with that.

Patricia Walsh

MF: Thinking of the generation fighting this war, that would be a lot of Pluto in Scorpios, wouldn't it?

PW: Pluto in Libra, Pluto in Scorpio.

MF: In terms of what you (via Alice Bailey) said about souls reincarnating in groups, it's interesting that the Pluto in Cancer WWII veterans received support at home but had to deal with the internal trauma of holding onto guilt. While the Pluto in Leo Viet Nam vets were shamed at home but then had the opportunity to express their individual experience. Now we have two Pluto archetypes, Libra and Scorpio, fighting the present wars. Do you have thoughts on why these two archetypes "chose" this particular war, and what their different healing methods or karmic lessons might be?

PW: Well, the unfortunate truth is that every generation for the past several thousand years has been touched by war, regionally or locally. So, along with seeing it as a generational issue, it is truly a collective wound that each generation struggles with either healing or perpetuating. In brief, I would say that a part of each of those archetypes — Libra: extremity and the issues of war vs. peace; and Scorpio: intensity as well as a sort of Armageddon/complete annihilation consciousness — affect those generations' experience of the wars. An intriguing fact is that the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was fought mainly by the Pluto in Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius generations since Pluto was in the late degrees of Capricorn into Aquarius at that time.

I haven't worked with enough Iraq veterans to see if there is a reincarnational correlation yet, but it's interesting to consider. The pretense of the cur- rent wars was about our country being threatened by terrorist invaders. So, the patriotism that was aroused in these young men is what caused some of them to sign up. The truth is that thereis no boot camp training that can prepare anyone for the reality of their first kill, or seeing their comrades blown up. That is where the deepest trauma is formed; then there is the fallout of disillusionment that sets in ("What is this fighting about?") and then, in the cur- rent wars, the political lies and the realization that it might all have been just about oil, resources, economics, and not the "glory" of protecting one's country. A Pluto in Libra person might feel that more as having done the "right thing" — followed others' expectations — and the letdown that comes from it. Whereas Pluto in Scorpio might feel it as a complete betrayal.

MF: Obviously, your fascination with the human psyche has taken you in many different directions. Is there one that especially surprised you?

PW: The human psyche always surprises me with its creativity and ability to heal itself, given the right container. The revelation of the "divine orchestration" that lies behind our everyday existence and that comes up over and over is amazing ... so much so that we have a saying in the work, which everyone subscribes to: "You can't make this sh*t up!" When you open the psyche to the past-life layer, the ancestral layer, the collective and present life — and see the resonance and how exact each experience in someone's life is and interconnected with all those layers — it's true: You can't make it up. [smiling] On the other side of that, I've seen a lot. Not to say I am jaded, but I'm not sure much can surprise me anymore ... of course, having just said that, I am sure the universe is cooking something up!

MF: What is the next arena piquing your interest?

PW: After working for more than a decade with the wounds to the soul, astrologically I am focusing on the potentials of evolutionary growth now ... as symbolized by Pluto and the North Node. That has always been the aim and outcome of my healing work anyway: to release what holds people back from their evolutionary potential. I am also thinking of ways to expand the "experiential" approach that I like to work with when doing astrology, since for me that is where deep learning and transformation happen.

MF: Any plans for another book?

PW: I have three books cooking right now: One is astrologically based, along the lines of what I was just talking about — evolutionary potential. The other two are in the regression and ancestral/ earthbound spirit work areas.

MF: It has been a great pleasure talking with you!

© 2013 Moll Frothingham – all rights reserved

Seattle native Moll Frothingham graduated from Smith College and trained for two years in Evolutionary Astrology with Laura Nalbandian (see TMA's June/July 2012 issue). A frequent lecturer at NORWAC, she practices astrology, art, and writing in the Pacific Northwest. To con- tact her for a consultation, e-mail: mollfroth@