Frederick Woodruff is an astrologer and Corridor correspondent from Vashon Island in Puget Sound. For his summer report, Frederick welcomes summer in the Northern Hemisphere and reminds us to engage with our imagination as producers, not just consumers.


Frederick Woodruff’s career as a professional astrologer spans four decades. Artists, writers, and creatively motivated folks consult with him regularly to better comprehend the cycles that define their unique narratives.

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With the arrival of the summer solstice, we’re introduced to the first and most dynamic of the three water signs in the Zodiac—the sign of the crab, Cancer.

Each of the three water signs—Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces—is associated with the world of the imaginal and the imagination. However, as a cardinal water sign, Cancer is the most energized and compelling sign within the element. The sign might seem reserved, but this is more of a tactic that Cancer folks employ. They are subtly reading the environment, checking the vibes, sussing out the smoothest way to bring forth whatever is simmering in their imagination.

So, this time of year is a great time to question what constitutes imagination. When the solstice occurs on June 20th, see if you can notice the sudden shift from Gemini's ‘thinking’ realm (the preceding sign) to the ‘imaginary’ world that Cancer occupies and draws sustenance from. Creative folks talk and write a lot about imagination, but what is the imagination exactly?

Plato described and likened the imagination to a mother or a womb “that partakes of the intelligible but is yet most incomprehensible. According to Plato, the imagination is a place of origin, a nascent world where the immaterial gathers in a kind of metaspace before it moves or descends into matter.

Of course, humans experience this process through consciousness. The sequence goes like this: The imagination activates—we have a vision or an idea and then act on that reverie or notion—or not. But more and more people are not acting on the content of their imagination, and that’s becoming a problem. Passivity is swallowing up the creative space, leaving each of us mindless consumers, voyeurs, detached from the courage to create.

The Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich equates Plato’s commentary on the imagination with what he calls “precategorical…space.” This imaginal or precategorical space describes the mysterious orientation of the Zodiac’s three water signs quite well. This is a liminal place, this domain that Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces regularly access.

Each of the water signs is gifted with prescience (sometimes called psychic abilities) and ease with what’s considered marginal (the content in life that many people often ignore, miss, or just aren’t interested in). And maddeningly, the water signs are often considered irrational. You ask them to explain their reasoning for something, and they’ll say: “I dunno, it just doesn’t feel right to me, I can’t explain why.”

So, in our science-driven culture, the water signs’ contribution to life is often dismissed as ‘too emotional, too nonsensical, or too strange.’ The imaginary realm that the water signs dominate is considered less substantial than contemporary culture’s Cartesian take on reality. Of course, regardless of one’s sign, we all have an imagination. And we all have an opportunity to engage with our imagination and experience the satisfaction of giving it expression.

But it seems that many of us have grown distanced from our innate creative capacity. Why is that so? A significant reason involves the disruptive effect of the computer (or phone) screen. Instead of engaging with our own imagination and its byproducts, we are mesmerized by the endless stream of images and videos that consume our attention throughout the day.

More and more, we’re reading about screen addiction, so I won’t repeat those statistics and studies here. But what interests me is ‘why’ this is happening. What does the addiction symbolize?

If a picture or an image is a byproduct of the nascent space of the imagination, it seems that there is a sort of reverse psychology at play with our dependence on our devices (especially on social media, where the ‘endless scroll’ hijacks our attention). It’s like we’re gorging ourselves on imaginal input in the hopes of being able to return to and abide in the very place (the imagination) that gave rise to the images in the first place.

There is a big difference between a consumer and a producer. When we do nothing but absorb images wholesale—without investing in their creation—we are robbed of experiencing and working within the mysterious middle ground we must pass through to give birth to anything in life—to bring forth any sort of innovation from the realm of the imaginal.

“this time of year is a great time to question what constitutes imagination”

Ask any artist, writer, chef, gardener, designer—anyone involved with creative expression—and they will tell you that bringing ideas or visions forward from the imaginal realm is hard work. True, anyone can have an idea, but what it takes to midwife that idea into reality is arduous and fraught, often with fear (especially the fear of failure).

Why is this? Because encounters with the imagination—working consciously within its ecology—mean beginning with an attitude of ‘not knowing.’ For something to come forward from the imagination, there must first be a blank canvas, a blank piece of paper, or a bolt of cloth placed in front of it.

All of us are creators. Our culture’s manic focus on celebrities and the world of ‘influencers’ makes a lot of us feel subpar when it comes to our unique contribution to the creative process, but this is bullshit. We all have an imagination, and we all need to experience both the excitement of experimenting with it and the peace and nourishment that comes when we abide in its mysterious precategorial nature.

As the writer Tom Cheetham notes in his book on Henry Corbin‘s Sufi-infused cosmology, The World Turned Inside Out; we all long for the imaginal and the realms of the imagination.

When the Sufis talk about imagination, they do not refer to it as fantastical or fanciful. Imagination, within their cosmology, is an actual mode of perception. This is an important distinction to grasp. So, imagination is a mysterious womb-like place for the psyche to create from. And it is also a way to perceive life.

In our typical reductionist, mechanistic world, we seem to think that if we can see enough images—at our beck and call via an application or piece of software that generates virtual reality—we will experience the actual space that is part and parcel of the arrival of the imaginary. But this is like looking at a picture of a strawberry rather than eating and tasting one.

If we were to slow down and stop to consider what an image actually is, we might sense the lure to the imaginary realm. Instead, and especially in the age of electronic connectivity, we scroll through hundreds of images a day and then spend the evening streaming Netflix and watching hours more without once registering the place from which the image originates. And I don’t mean a cloud server owned by Amazon.

We each need a vital, personal relationship with that imaginal space within ourselves—that creative womb world that Plato described—to feel fully human and engaged as designers, not just passive consumers. As Cheenahm explains—and offers as a warning:

“In our drive to recover the spaces of the Imagination, we have taken refuge in the Image. Television, movies, video screens in every classroom, magazines, billboards—the world is full of Images, all coming from the outside, according to someone else’s agenda. They are immeasurably powerful.

We are driven by it by a kind of perverse necessity: the more we need space for the things of the soul, the more we seek images to fill the space that we no longer create for ourselves. And yet, fewer and fewer of us know the source of this panic or where to turn in response. And so we continue to search for new disciplines of the imagination and are caught by each in turn, disoriented and confused in a world that will not cohere.”

This summer, make it an experiment to minimize image consumption while increasing the time you spend contemplating the mysteries of your own imagination and the images, stories, and sensations you wish to contribute to the culture.

Here are your horoscopes for the summer:

ARIES (MAR 21-APR 20): This month’s vibe shifts between feeling energetic and languid. You’re attempting to push and pull at the same time. This toggling can wear down your battery. Here’s some advice from the author Carl Rogers: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

TAURUS (APR 21-MAY 21): Mars’s movement through your sign redefines the term rockin’ and rollin’. Your life has become a mixture of breakdown and breakthrough. Relief arrives during the full Moon on June 21. Suddenly, you see clearly how all the puzzle pieces fit. One chapter closes as a new one arrives.

GEMINI (MAY 22-JUN 21): With Jupiter traversing your sign for the next year, you have a cosmic opportunity to showcase all your skill sets. Now is the time to establish what you want to achieve by the end of the year and then stick to the plan. Momentum and optimism are on your side.

CANCER (JUN 22-JUL 22): The full Moon on the 21st, finds you reconsidering the different facets of key relationships. But it’s the new people you’re meeting now who will make you wonder the most. Consider Maya Angelou’s advice: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

LEO (JUL 23-AUG 23): This is an excellent season to rekindle your daring spirit and test your courage and focus. Sometimes, obstacles or setbacks are necessary in life. External hurdles allow us to see where we need to refine our knowledge. Depending on the subject, you might need to consult with teachers or experts who can assist you in fine-tuning your aim.

VIRGO (AUG 24-SEP 23): What if you used other words to describe low energy or depression? Don’t be trapped by language. Experiment with new ways of defining your reality. Be at peace with yourself. As Virginia Woolf once wrote: “No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”

LIBRA (SEP 24-OCT 23): Your ability to see the future as bigger and better is at a peak this summer. Use your discretionary skill to counter any inflationary fancies that might drain your bank account. Yes, you’re feeling lucky now, but you also want to maintain your quality of life by acting soundly.

SCORPIO (OCT 24th-NOV 22nd): Passions are running high this summer. You're eager to explore new potentials and promises. If you aren’t in a committed relationship, this is a great month to mingle and meet a potential mate. You operate best when partnerships and intimate exchanges with others stimulate your imagination.

SAGITTARIUS (NOV 23rd-DEC 21st): Discovering new approaches is like prospecting for gold. If you look in familiar places, you’ll find that you’ve already exhausted that source. Decide to venture off the beaten path this summer, increasing your chances of discovering new insights and solutions to existing quandaries.

CAPRICORN (DEC 22nd-JAN 20th): If you feel trapped by an existing situation, see if you can reframe or rename what’s happening around you. Language can be illuminating. It can also be limiting if we react automatically to whatever impression a word or definition generates. Different words can create different assumptions.

AQUARIUS (JAN 21st-FEB 19th): The poet T.S. Eliot wrote: “The end is where we start from.” Take this to heart as you prepare for a long process of disassembling the past. Retain only what is absolutely necessary to commence in a new direction. Old goals won’t serve you now—see the world around you with new eyes.

PISCES (FEB 20th-MAR 20th): You’re at a crossroads right now, but taking only one path over the other isn’t going to work. This means you’ll benefit by living your life right now as if you had a twin. There is your day world and your night world. How will both of these points of view come to co-exist? That’s your riddle for the new season.


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