Cosmos and Psyche

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Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New Worldview, by Richard Tarnas, New York: Plume, 2007.

The present book is a very deep cultural analysis that follows the author’s bestseller The Passion of the Western Mind, which I equally reviewed.

Abstract

In Cosmos and Psyche, distinguished philosopher and cultural historian Richard Tarnas demonstrates the existence of an astronishingly consistent correspondence between planetary alignments and the archetypal patterns of human history and biography. Based on thirty years of meticulous research, this brilliant book points to a radical change in our understanding of the cosmos, shining new light on the drama of history and on our own critical age. It opens up a new cosmic horizon that reunites science and religion, intellect and soul, modern reason and ancient wisdom.
—Source: Backcover

Review

***** Highly Recommended Lecture / No Easy Read / Astrological Knowledge Required

The present book however is much more difficult to read and really requires a working knowledge of mundane astrology. While I do have this knowledge, I still got no farther so far than Chapter 4. However, this book is, like the previous one of the author, a book that one should read several times in order to really absorb the essence, for its profundity is considerable and on first sight unfathomable.

I will ‘judge’ very little here other than to vividly recommend this book for any intellectual; it is difficult to write a review of such a deep philosophical work without letting the author speak for himself. Thus, I will give the potential reader more information about what this book is about and provide some substantial quotations.

Richard Tarnas
Richard Tarnas

Let me start by relating the chapter titles for they inform well about the structure and immense scope of the book (and the ambition of its author):

I The Transformation of the Cosmos

II In Search of a Deeper Order

III Through the Archetypal Telescope

IV Epochs of Revolution

V Cycles of Crisis and Contraction

VI Cycles of Creativity and Expansion

VII Awakenings of Spirit and Soul

VIII Towards a New Heaven and a New Earth

I shall provide quotes for each of the four chapters. I may continue at a later time to provide more quotes from the subsequent chapters.

Preface

We find ourselves at an extraordinary threshold. One need not be graced with prophetic insight to recognize that we are living in one of those rare ages, like the end of classical antiquity or the beginning of the modern era, that bring forth, through great stress and struggle, a genuinely fundamental transformation in the underlying assumptions and principles of the cultural world view. /xiii

What are the most important underlying issues that confront the human mind and spirit in our era? Focusing particularly on the ‘Western’ situation, centered in Europe and North America though now variously and acutely affecting the entire human community, we can observe three especially fundamental factors:

  • First, the profound metaphysical disorientation and groundlessness that pervades contemporary human experience: the widely felt absence of an adequate publicly accessible larger order of purpose and significance, a guiding metanarrative that transcends separate cultures and subcultures, an encompassing pattern of meaning that could give to collective human existence a nourishing coherence and intelligibility.
  • Second, the deep sense of alienation that affects the modern self: here I refer to not only the personal isolation of the individual in modern mass society, but also the spiritual estrangement of the modern psyche in a disenchanted universe, as well as, at the species level, the subjective schism separating the modern human being from the rest of nature and the cosmos.
  • And third, the critical need, on the part of both individuals and societies, for a deeper insight into those unconscious forces and tendencies, creative and destructive, that play such a powerful role in shaping human lives, history, and the life of the planet. /xiv

I The Transformation of the Cosmos

The Birth of the Modern Self

Within the time span of a single generation surrounding the year 1500, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael created their many masterworks of the High Renaissance, revealing the birth revealing the birth of the new human as much in Da Vinci’s multiform genius and the godlike incarnation of the David and the Sistine Creation of Adam as in the new perspectival objectivity and poietic empowerment of the Renaissance artist; Columbus sailed west and reached America, Vasca da Gama sailed east and reached India, and the Magellan expedition circumnavigated the globe, opening the world forever to itself; Luther posted his theses on the door of the Wittenberg castle and began the enormous convulsion of Europe and the Western psyche called the Reformation; and Copericus conceived the heliocentric theory and began the even more momentous Scientific Revolution. From this instant, the human self, the known world, the cosmos, heaven and earth were all radically and irrevocably transformed. All this happened within a period of time briefer than that which has passed since Woodstock and the Moon landing. /4

The Dawn of a New Universe

Recalling the Pythagoreans’ habit of imparting their ‘noble and arduously won discoveries’ only to an inner circle of friends and intimates, Copernicus stated that he had long hesitated to publish his work lest it be despised by those too unintelligent or prejudiced to comprehend it. And despised it was, by even the most advanced and innovative thinkers of the time. /7

Two Paradigms of History

The other great historical vision tells a very different story. In this understanding, human history and the evolution of human consciousness are seen as a predominantly problematic, even tragic narrative of humanity’s gradual but radical fall and separation from an original state of oneness with nature and an encompassing spiritual dimension of being. In its primordial condition, humankind had possessed an instinctive knowledge of the profound sacred unity and interconnectedness of the world, but under the influence of the Western mind, especially its modern expression, the course of history brought about a deep schism between humankind and nature, and a desacralization of the world. This development coincided with an increasingly destructive exploitation of nature, the devastation of traditional indigenous cultures, a loss of faith in spiritual realities, and an increasingly unhappy state of the human soul, which experienced itself as ever more isolated, shallow, and unfulfilled. In this perspective, both humanity and nature are seen as having suffered grievously under a long exploitative, dualistic vision of the world, with the worst consequences being produced by the oppressive hegemony of modern industrial societies empowered by Western science and technology. The nadir of this fall is the present time of planetary turmoil, ecological crisis, and spiritual distress, which are seen as the direct consequence of human hubris, embodied above all in the spirit and structure of the modern Western mind and ego. /13

Forging the Self, Disenchanting the World

Primal experience takes place, as it were, within a world soul, an anima mundi, a living matrix of embodied meaning. The human psyche is embedded within a world psyche in which it complexly participates and by which it is continuously defined. The workings of that anima mundi, in all its flux and diversity, are articulated through a language that is mythic and numinous. Because the world is understood as speaking a symbolic language, direct communication of meaning and purpose from world to human can occur. The many particulars of the empirical world are all endowed with symbolic, archetypcal significance, and that significance flows between inner and outer, between self and world. In this relatively undifferentiated state of consciousness, human beings perceive themselves as directly—emotionally, mystically, consequentially—particpating in and communicating with the interior life of the natural world and cosmos. To be more precise, this participation mystique involves a complex sense of direct inner participation of not only human beings in the world but also of human beings in the divine powers, through ritual, and of divine powers in the world, by virtue of their immanent and transformative presence. The participation is multidirectional and multidimensional, pervasive and encompassing. /17

 

It is easy for us today, still under the influence of the modern vision that reifies modern experience and assumptions as absolute, to believe we truly understand the primal vision when we see it as simply the naïve consequence of primitive fears, wishes, and projections. But to discern more impartially the difference between these two world views, we must grasp the stubborn fact that the primal cosmos was universally experienced, for countless millennia, as tangibly and self-evidently alive and awake—pervasively intentional and responsive, informed by ubiquitious spiritual presences, animated throughout by archetypal forces and intelligible meanings—in a manner that the modern perception does not and perhaps cannot recognize. /19

 

From the time of Bacon and Descartes, Hobbes and Locke, and more pervasively in the aftermath of the Enlightenment, the modern understanding is gradually so transformed that the world is no longer seen as a locus of pregiven meanings and purposes, as had been true not only in the immemorial primal vision, but also for the ancient Greeks, medieval Scholastics, and Renaissance Humanists. With the full ascension of the modern mind, the world is no longer informed by numinous powers, gods and goddesses, archetypal Ideas, or sacred ends. It no longer embodies a cosmic order of meanings and purposes with which the human self seeks to be aligned. Rather, the world is viewed as a neutral domain of contingent facts and potential means to our secular purposes. In Max Weber’s famous term at the beginning of the twentieth century, which developed Schiller’s insight of a century earlier, the modern world is ‘disenchanted’ (entzaubert): It has been voided of any spiritual, symbolic, or expressive dimension that provides a cosmic order in which human existence finds its ground of meaning and purpose. Instead, the world is viewed entirely in terms of neutral facts, the detached rational understanding of which will give the human being an unprecedented capacity to calculate, control, and manipulate the world. /20

 

To objectify the world is to remove from it all subjective categories, such as meaning and purpose, by perceiving these as projections of what are now regarded as the only true subjects, human beings. This in turn tremendously magnifies and empowers human subjectivity: the felt interior capacity of the human being to be self-defining, self-revising, self-determining—to be both outwardly world-shaping and inwardly consequential and autonomous. It makes possible a new freedom from externally imposed meanings and orderings that had previously been seen as embedded in the cosmos, and that had typically been upheld and enforced by traditional structures of cultural authority, whether religious, social, or political. (…) Depriving the world of subjectivity, of its capacity for intentional significance, by objectification and disenchantment radically enhances the human self’s sense of freedom and autonomous subjectivity, its underlying conviction that it can shape and determine its own existence. /21

 

The history of the human mind’s movement from a state of participation mystique to a more fully differentiated mode of awareness is in many respects the history of the human mind itself. Impelled by the powerful human drive to achieve ever-greater autonomy relative to the conditions of existence, virtually the entire evolution of human consciousness has served this psychological and epistemological impulse to distinguish the human self from the world, subject from object, part from whole. The Promethean project seems to be intrinsic to the human condition. Yet this project has been carried out most vigorously and brilliantly by the Western mind, above all by the modern mind, that avatar and apex of Promethean progress. /21-22

 

What once pervaded the world as the anima mundi is now seen as the exclusive property of human consciousness. The modern human self has essentially absorbed all meaning and purpose into its own interior being, emptying the primal cosmos of what once constituted its essential nature. /22

 

By the late modern period, the cosmos has metamorphosed into a mindless, soulless vacuum, within which the human being is incongruently self-aware. The qualities are now located exclusively in the human mind and psyche. It appears that this evolutionary trade-off has fostered the emergence of a centered autonomous self, one decisively set off from yet dynamically engaged qualities with which the human being is uniquely identified. The forging of the self and the disenchantment of the world, the differentiation of the human and the appropriation of meaning, are all aspects of the same development. In effect, to sum up a very complex process, the achievement of human autonomy has been paid for by the experience of human alienation. /25

The Cosmological Situation Today

The disenchanted cosmos impoverishes the collective psyche in the most global way, vitiating its spiritual and moral imagination—‘vitiate’ not only in the sense of diminish and impair but also in the sense of deform and debase. In such a context, everything can be appropriated. Nothing is immune. Majestic vistas of nature, great works of art, revered music, eloquent language, the beauty of the human body, distant lands and cultures, extraordinary moments of history, the arousal of deep human emotion: all become advertising tools to manipulate consumer response. For quite literally, in a disenchanted cosmos, nothing is sacred. The soul of the world has been extinguished. Ancient trees and forests can then be seen as nothing but potential lumber; mountains nothing but mineral deposits; seashores and deserts are oil reserves; lakes and rivers, engineering tools. Animals are perceived as harvestable commodities, indigenous tribes as obstructing relics of an outmoded past, children’s minds as marketing targets. /32

Richard Tarnas Portrait
Richard Tarnas Portrait

In Search of a Deeper Order

Two Suitors: A Parable

I believe that the disenchantment of the modern universe is the direct result of a simplistic epistemology and moral posture spectacularly inadequate to the depths, complexity and grandeur of the cosmos. To assume a priori that the entire universe is ultimately a soulless void within which our multidimensional consciousness is an anomalous accident, and that purpose, meaning, conscious intelligence, moral aspiration, and spiritual depth are solely attributes of the human being, reflects a long-invisible inflation on the part of the modern self. And heroic hubris is still indissolubly linked, as it was in ancient Greek tragedy, to heroic fall. (…) What is the cure for hubristic vision? It is, perhaps, to listen—to listen more subtly, more perceptively, more deeply. Our future may well depend upon the precise extent of our willingness to expand our ways of knowing. We need a larger, truer empericism and rationalism. The long-established epistemological strategies of the modern mind have been both relentlessly limiting and unconsciously ‘constructing’ a world it then concludes as objective. /40

 

To encounter the depth and rich complexity of the cosmos, we require ways of knowing that fully integrate the imagination, the aesthetic sensibility, moral and spiritual intuition, revelatory experience, symbolic perception, somatic and senuous modes of understanding, empathic knowing. Above all, we miust awaken to and overcome the great hidden anthropocentric projection that has virtually defined the modern mind: the persuasive projection of soullessness onto the cosmos by the modern self’s own will to power. /41

The Interior Quest

Throughout their lives James, Freud and Jung pressed the scientific mind beyond its conventional limits to engage realities known by visionaries and poets, mystics and initiates. Striving to combine the intellectual rigor of scientific observation with the intuitive insight of the poetic and spiritual imagination, depth psychology attempted to bring the light of reason to the deep mysteries of human interiority, yet often witnessed the converse: the light of reason reevaluated, transformed, and deepened by the very mysteries it sought to illuminate. /46

 

Depth psychology offered an evolving frame of reference that opened the horizon of authentic religious experience to engage the mysteries of human existence beyond the constraints and mutual antagonisms widely characteristic of teh world’s religious traditions. (…) The discovery of the unconscious was thus significant on many fronts, with multiple implications needing to be addressed—not only psychological and therapeutic but cultural and historical, philosophical and political, existential and spiritual. Jung described that significance in the strongest possible terms: ‘We have not understood yet that the discovery of the unconscious means an enormous spiritual task, which must be accomplished if we wish to preserve our civilization. /47

Synchronicity and Its Implications

Jung believed that synchronicities generally seemed to serve the same role as dreams, psychological symptoms, and other manifestations of the unconscious, namely, to compensate the conscious attitude and move the psyche from a problematic one-sidedness toward greater wholeness and individuation. Not only did the unexpectedly externalized pattern of meaning seem to represent more than mere chance coincidence; it also appeared to serve a definite purpose, impelling the psyche toward a more complete psychological and spiritual realization of the individual personality. This self-realization was achieved through a deeper integration of conscious and unconscious, which ultimately required of the individual a discerning surrender of the usual conscious attitude of knowing superiority. In this view, the perceptive interpretation of synchronistic phenomena, as with all expressions of the unconscious, rather than inflating the egocentric importance of the individual in a narcissistic manner, could correct precisely these tendencies and open the psyche to a larger vision. /53-54

 

Synchronicities seem to constitute a lived reality the experience of which depends deeply on the sensitive perception of content and nuance. For synchronicities have a shadow side, as in the exaggeration of the trivial to discover a self-inflating meaning. Another form this shadow can take is the paranoid’s morbidly narrow interpretation of coincidences in terms of other people’s malign plots cunningly directed at the self, or psychotic delusions of self-reference. Such interpretations are, as Jung once suggested, pre-Copernican, egocentric. They center the world of meaning naïvely on the old narrow self, inflating the separate ego or persecuting it, and thereby evade the more complex and often painful emergence of the individuated self that is in dialogue with the whole. Such an emergence requires attending to the claims and communications of the larger cosmos of the unconscious. A painstaking cultivation of self-knowledge must be undertaken in order to avoid succumbing to mere projection. Discriminating such events requires a self-critical awareness of unconscious tendencies towards narcissistic distortion by which random or peripheral events are continually transformed into signs of an egocentric universe. No less crucial is the development and balanced interplay of multiple faculties of cognition—empirical, rational, emotional, relational, intuitive, smbolic. A capacity for acute yet balanced discernment has to be forged, founded not only on an alertness to meaningful pattern but also on a disciplined mindfulness of the larger whole within which the individual self seeks orientation. /55

 

Jung’s later work thus intimated the ancient understanding of an ensouled world, of an anima mundi in which the human psyche participates and with which it shares the same ordering principles of meaning. /57

 

In each case of synchronicity, Jung discerned an underlying archetypal coherence that linked the otherwise unconnected events, informed the larger field of meaning, and gave to the time of the synchronicity’s occurence a specific fundamental quality. (…) The empirical conformity between the event occuring in the external world and the archetypal quality of the internal state of consciousness suggested that the active archetype could not be localized as an exclusively subjective intrapsychic reality. Rather, both psyche and world, inner and outer, were informed by the archetypal pattern and thereby united by the correlation. It was specifically the experiential potency of this spontaneous archetypal resonance that seemed to act as a healing solvent on the hardened polarities—between self and world, subject and object, conscious and unconscious—of the person experiencing the synchronicity. /58-59

The Archetypal Cosmos

In the course of his career Jung’s attention was increasingly drawn to the ancient cosmological perspective of astrology, which posits a systematic symbolic correspondence between planetary positions and the events of human existence. Here was the thesis, widely accepted in most other cultures as well as in earlier eras of the West, that the universe is so ordered that the movements and patterns of the heavens are synchronously correlated with the movements and patterns of human affairs in such a manner as to be both intelligible and meaningful to the human mind. /61

 

Of course, astrology had not been held in high esteem during most of the modern era, for a variety of compelling reasons. Certainly its popular expressions have seldom been such as to inspire confidence in the enterprise. More fundamentally, astrology could not be reconciled with the world picture that emerged from the natural sciences of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, wherein all natural phenomena, from the motion of plants to the evolution of species, were understood in terms of material substances and mechanistic principles that functioned without purpose or design. /62

III Through the Archetypal Telescope

The Evolving Tradition

Astrology in its most general definition rests on a conception of the cosmos as a coherent embodiment of creative intelligence, purpose, and meaning expressed through a constant complex corespondence between astronomical patterns and human experience. The various celestial bodies are regarded as possessing an intrinsic association with specific universal principles. Both these principles and their astronomical correspondences are seen as ultimately grounded in the nature of the cosmos itself, thereby integrating the celestial and terrestrial, macrocosm and microcosm. As the planets move through their cycles, they form various geometrical relationships with each other relative to the Earth within the larger cosmic environment. These alignments are observed to coincide with specific archetypally patterned phenomena in human lives. (…) The astrological tradition initiated by the Greeks in Alexandria in the Hellenistic era, during the centuries immediately before and after the birth of Christ, was embedded in a classical world conception deeply influenced by Pythagorean and Platonic thought. It had earlier roots in ancient Mosapotamian celestrial observations from at least the beginning of the second millennium BCE, and was shaped by ancient Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian cultural influences. (…) As an overarching view of the universe and the cosmic position of the human being, astrology was singularly pervasive in the classical era; it transcended the boundaries of science, religion, and philosophy. /73

 

In Europe, in the wake of the Enlightenment of the late seventeenth and eighteenths centuries, astrology virtually disappeared from scholarly discourse and the world view of the educated. Lingering principally in the form of popular astrological almanacs, it underwent a gradual revival during the nineteenth century with the growing European interest during the Romantic period in esoteric traditions and later in theosophy. Finally, in the course of the twentieth century, a widespread rebirth of astrology took place, beginning in England and spreading to North America and the rest of Europe. /74

Causality and Correlation

At least on the basis of the principal categories of data I have examined, it seems to me highly unlikely that the planets send out physical emanations, like electromagnetic radiation, that causally influence events in human life in a mechanistic way so as to produce the observed correlations. The range of correspondences between planetary position and human existence is just too vast and multidimensional—too manifestly ordered by structures of meaning, too sugestive of creative intelligence, too vividly informed by aesthetic patterning, too metaphorically multivalent, too experientially complex and nuanced, and too responsive to human participatory inflection—to be explained by straightforward material factors alone. Given as well the consistent nature of correlations involving the Sun, the Moon, and all the planets of the solar system from Mercury and Venus to Neptune and Pluto, irrespective of their size or distance from Earth, any causal factor resembling gravitational influence seems to be equally improbable. I believe that a more plausible and comprehensive explanation of the available evidence would rest on a conception of the universe as a fundamentally and irreducibly interconnected whole, informed by creative intelligence and pervaded by patterns of meaning and order that extend through every level, and that are expressed through a constant correspondence between astronomical events and human events. Such a view is concisely reflected in the Hermetic axiom ‘as above, so below,’ which describes a universe all of whose parts and dimensions are integrated into an intelligible whole. /77

 

Rather than anything resembling the linear mechanistic causality of the conventional modern understanding, what is suggested by the evidence is that an archetypal causality that in crucial respects possesses Platonic and Aristotelian characteristics, yet is far more complex, fluid, multivalent and co-creatively participatory than previous conceptual models—whether from physics, philosophy or astrology—have been able to accommodate. /78

 

The most characteristic attitude among contemporary astrologers hold astrological knowledge to be ultimately emancipatory rather than constricting, bringing a potential increase of personal freedom and fulfillment through an enlarged understanding of the self and its cosmic context. In this view, knowing the basic archetypal dynamics and patterns of meaning in one’s birth chart allows one to bring greater awareness to the task of fulfilling one’s authentic nature and intrinsic potential, as in Jung’s concept of individuation. The more accurately one understands the archetypal forces that inform and affect one’s life, the more flexibly and intelligently responsive one can be in dealing with them. To the extent that one is unconscious of these potent and sometimes highly problematic forces, one is more or less a pawn of the archetypes, acting according to unconscious motivations with little possibility of being a creative participant in the unfolding and refining of those potentials. Archetypal awareness brings greater self-awareness and thus greater personal autonomy. /78

Archetypal Principles

It was not until the turn of the twentieth century that the concept of archetypes, foreshadowed by Nietzsche’s vision of the Dionysian and Apollinian principles shaping human culture, underwent an unexpected renascence. The immediate matrix of its rebirth was the empirical discoveries of depth psychology, first with Freud’s formulations of the Oedipus compelx, Eros and Thanatos, ego, id, and superego (a ‘powerful mythology,’ as Wittgenstein called psychoanalysis), then in an expanded fully articulated form with the work of Jung and archetypal psychology. Jung, as we have seen, drawing on Kant’s critical epistemology and Freud’s instinct theory yet going beyond both, described archetypes as autonomous primordial forms in the psyche that structure and impel all human experience and behavior. /82

Planetary Archetypes

The astrological thesis as developed within the Platonic-Jungian lineage holds that these complex, multidimensional archetypes governing the forms of human experience are ingelligibly connected with the planets and their movements in the heavens. This association is observable in a constant coincidence between specific planetary alignments and specific archetypally patterned phenomena in human affairs. It is important for what follows that we understand the nature of this correspondence between planets and archetypes. It does not appear to be accurate to say that astrologers have in essence arbitrarily used the mythological stories of the ancients about the gods Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mars, Mercury, and the rest to project symbolic meaning onto the planets, which are in actuality merely neutral material bodies without intrinsic significance. Rather, a considerable body of evidence suggests that the movements of the planets named Jupiter, Saturn, Vengus, Mars, and Mercury tend to coincide with patterns of human experience that closely resemble the character of those planets’ mythical counterparts. That is, the astrologer’s insight, perhaps intuitive and divinatory in its ancient origins, appears to be fundamentally an empirical one. This empiricism is given context and meaning by a mythic, archetypal perspective, a perspective that the planetary correlations seem to support and illustrate with remarkable consistency. The nature of these correlations presents to the astrological researcher what appears to be an orchestrated synthesis combining the precision of mathematical astronomy with the psychological complexity of the archetypal imagination, a synthesis whose sources seemingly exist a priori within the fabric of the universe. /85

 

In Jungian terms, the astrological evidence suggests that the collective unconscious is ultimately embedded in the macrocosm itself, with the planetary motions a synchronistic reflection of the unfolding archetypal dynamics of human experience. In Platonic terms, astrology affirms the existence of an anima mundi informing the cosmos, a world soul in which the human psyche participates as a microcosm of the whole. Finally, the Platonic, Jungian, and astrological understandings of archetypes are all complexly linked, both historically and conceptually, to the archetypal structures, narratives, and figures of ancient myth. /86

 

It seems to be specifically the multivalent potentiality that is intrinsic to the planetary archetypes—their dynamic indeterminacy—that opens up ontological space for the human being’s full co-creative participation in the unfolding of individual life, history, and the cosmic process. It is just this combination of archetypal multivalence and an autonomous participatory self that engenders the possiblity of a genuinely open universe. /87

The Planets

In retrospect, the discoveries of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto appear to have coincided with the emergence of three fundamental archetypes into collective human experience in a newly constellated form, visible in major historical events and cultural trends of the eighteenth century (Uranus), the nineteenth (Neptune), and the twentieth (Pluto). The centuries of their discoveries in each case appear to have brought forth in the evolution of human consciousness the rapid development and racical heightening of a distinctive set of qualities and impulses that were also systematically observable in precise natal and transit correlations involving those specific planets for individuals and eras throughout history. /100

Forms of Correspondence

The birth of any being of phenomenon—whether a person, a work of art, a cultural movement, an historical phenomenon, a nation, a community, or any other organism or creative emergence—is seen as reflecting and embodying the archetypal dynamics implicit at the time of birth, and creatively unfolding those dynamics over the course of its life. /103

 

The archetypal potential symbolized by the planetary alignments at any given moment is thus observed both in the collective dynamics and cultural phenomena that occurred at that time (world transits) and in the lives and personalities of individuals who were born at that time (natal charts). These individuals then embody and unfold that dynamic potential in the course of their lives, and the timing of this unfolding development is observed to coincide with the continuing planetary movements of the world transits as these form specific geometrical relationships (personal transits) to the natal planetary positions. (…) An archetypal complex can be conceived of as the experiential equivalent of a force field or a magnetic field in physics, producing an integrated pattern or gestalt out of many diverse particulars. Any given archetypal complex always contains problematic and pathological shadow tendencies intertwined with more salutary, fruitful, and creative ones, all of which inhere in potentia in each complex. /105

Personal Transit Cycles

Awakenings, Rebellions, Breakthroughs: The Uranus Cycle

An especially noteworthy pattern of correlation I observed occurred when transiting Uranus formed a major aspect to the position of Uranus itself in an individual’s natal chart. As we will see, all individuals undergo the sequence of major geometrical alignments of Uranus to its own natal position at approximately the same ages. I found that each such alignment appeared to coincide with periods in which there was evident a greater than usual potential for sudden radical shifts and breakthroughs of various kinds. This pattern of apparent archetypal activation in coincidence with the Uranus transit cycle became particularly clear when I began to examine in detail the biographies of major cultural figures with whose lives and works I was familiar. For example, I discovered that when Galileo made his first telescopic discoveries between October 1609 and March 1610 and then quickly wrote and published Sidereus Nuncius (‘The Starry Messenger’), which heralded the truth of the Copernican theory and caused a sensation in Europen intellectual circles, he had the identical personal Uranus transit that René Descartes had in 1637 when he published his equally epoch-making Discourse on Method, the manifesto of modern reason, and the foundational work of modern philosophy. Moreover, this also happened to be the same transit Isaac Newton had in 1687 when he published the Principia, the foundational work of modern science. /110

 

Galileo, Descartes, and Newton, for example, all completed their revolutionary works when the transit was at its mathematical peak, within 1º to 2º of exact alignment, something that with this transit occurs altogether for approximately twelve months in the course of an entire lifetime. /112

Assessing Patterns of Correlation

The challenge inherent in any attempt to examine and assess evidence for planetary correlations arises from the inescapable reality that no single correlation between an individual’s personality and birth chart, nor any single correlation between a specific biographical event and a specific personal transit, could in itself ever constitute decisive evidence for the astrological hypothesis. Nor even could any group of such correlations, though certainly the larger the group and the more vivid the correspondences, the more suggestive the evidence. Ultimately, however, I found that it was the enormously vast and ever-increasing body of observed correlations involving all the planets—each with its specific corresponding archetypal complex of meaning, with the planetary alignments coinciding again and again with strikingly appropriate events, personality characteristics, and precise timing—that taken in its entirety constituted a highly coherent and compelling body of data. /135

IV Epochs of Revolution

From the French Revolution to the 1960s

I was encouraged to examine the possible existence of historical correlations with planetary cycles when I encountered a number of highly suggestive paterns in which certain cyclical alignments between the outer planets coincided with major historical events and cultural trends of a distinctive character, as if the specific archetypes associated with those planets were emerging on the collective level in periodic cycles. In astronomical terms, these world transits consist of major extened alignments between two or more of the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto). Rather than personal transits of a planet in the sky to a planetary position in an individual natal chart, world transits are configurations between two or more planets concurrently aligned with each other in the sky—alignments relevant to the entire world, so to speak, rather than to a specific individual. These alignments, such as conjunction or opposition, can last a year or more, and in cases involving any of the three outermost planets with each other (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto), even a decade or longer. /141

 

For example, Uranus and Pluto were in alignment not only during the entire decade of the 1960s, when they were in conjunction, but also during the entire decade of the French Revolution when they were in opposition, from 1787 to 1798. This was of course an era whose character was conspicuously similar to that of the 1960s, to which it has often been compared. /144

 

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