Graham Pemberton
18 min readOct 6, 2023

Astrology — Towards a New Worldview, part 2

This article is part of my unpublished book on Astrology. (For what has preceded please see this list.) It is the second part of chapter 19, which is the beginning of part 3. In the first two parts I have tried to tried to establish a theory as to how Astrology might work. In this next part I discuss what I think are the implications if this is true.

For Medium, for reasons of length, I’ve separated chapter 19 into two articles. In the first one, I discussed the relationship between Astrology and the Perennial Philosophy. In this second part I discuss what that might mean for society.

chapter 19 (part 2): TOWARDS A NEW WORLD-VIEW

If Astrology is true it strongly suggests that life has some meaning; there is some kind of divine plan.

Humanity has a great need for meaning in life. The desire to know how and why we are here pervades philosophy, science, religion and the arts. Despite thousands of years of speculation, however, no definitive answers have been found. The failure to find meaning often results in depression and alienation in individuals, and the bleak visions of writers like Beckett, Kafka, Sartre have mass appeal. This means that thousands, if not millions, of people identify with them. Yet when offered something which may provide some hope, many humans react with hostility and treat it with derision. Why should that be?

One factor is clearly that Astrology contradicts some preconceived, but not necessarily consciously articulated, ideas that people have about the nature of the world. Probably the more powerful factor, however, is the one that I was discussing in chapter 17, humanity’s desperate attachment to the idea of freedom, the need to feel in control. Jung was especially aware of this problem. In the epigram that I chose at the start of this book he said: “Security, certitude, and peace do not lead to discoveries”. He also refers to it several times in Man and His Symbols: “A man likes to believe that he is the master of his soul”. “The one thing we refuse to admit is that we are dependent upon ‘powers’ that are beyond our control”. “Consciousness naturally resists anything unconscious and unknown. I have already pointed out the existence among primitive peoples of what anthropologists call ‘misoneism’, a deep and superstitious fear of novelty… But ‘civilized’ man reacts to new ideas in much the same way, erecting psychological barriers to protect himself from the shock of facing something new. Many pioneers in philosophy, science, and even literature have been victims of the innate conservatism of their contemporaries”¹.

We can now see, if it was not already clear, why so many people, including scientists, are opposed to Astrology. When expressed in the language of the third quotation, it is easy to recognize the phenomenon, and I am sure that you will be able to think of numerous examples. Unfortunately it is more difficult to recognize this dynamic when one is responsible for it from the other side.

Scientists sometimes give the impression that because it is their job to pursue truth with relentless dedication they are above such psychological weaknesses. I would suggest that this is not the case and that scientists are just as capable of irrational behaviour and prejudice as anyone else. The problem is often bound up with a particular world-view which shapes their whole life’s work, although they would often be unaware of this, and vehemently maintain that their research and results are ‘objective’. When others come forward with ideas which suggest that their world-view is erroneous, there can be a furiously hostile reaction. The thought that one’s whole life-work may have been a waste of time, having been based on false assumptions, in effect that one has been living a lie, is an unpleasant proposition. Yet it is an obvious principle of logic that if the basic premises are false then any conclusions derived from them are likely to be worthless.

Astrology of course is not a new idea, rather a very old one. What is new is the idea that Astrology might after all be true, despite the noble, valiant efforts of rational science to eradicate this superstitious nonsense from our minds. Don’t Jung’s words describe perfectly the outrageous behaviour of the scientists described in Chapter 1, these seekers after truth who erected “psychological barriers to protect themselves from the shock of facing something new”?

One element in the world-view of many Western scientists is an unshakeable faith in the human mind as a perfect tool for understanding reality. They believe that they can perform their experiments without any psychological preparation, and then write them up without any great insight into the nature of consciousness and the psyche. (Many scientists in fact deny the existence of the psyche completely.) Because they are so rationally oriented they have a tendency to believe that everything is explainable, and that one day everything will indeed be explained. They therefore refuse to entertain the possibility of anything irrational or mysterious. This was initially a problem for the quantum physicists, who found it very hard to come to terms with the results they were obtaining. Fortunately they had the courage to enter the madness, rather than deny it, and eventually, as Jim Morrison (of The Doors) sang, managed to “break on through to the other side”, theoretically at least.

By contrast, the mystics of Hinduism and Buddhism have been studying the nature of mind for thousands of years. It is an absolutely fundamental idea in Eastern philosophy that its natural state is one of illusion about the nature of reality (maya), and ignorance (avidya). The implication is obviously that, before one can trust the mind as a valuable tool, a lot of psychological training should be undertaken beforehand. (Bringing the mind under the control of ego-consciousness is the aim of Raja Yoga.) Jung discusses some of the psychological problems facing Western science as a result of this deficiency in preparation:

“I know enough of the scientific point of view to understand that it is most annoying to have to deal with facts that cannot be completely or adequately grasped. The trouble with these phenomena is that the facts are undeniable and yet cannot be formulated in intellectual terms”.

“Even a scientist is a human being. So it is natural for him, like others, to hate the things he cannot explain. It is a common illusion to believe that what we know today is all we ever can know. Nothing is more vulnerable than scientific theory, which is an ephemeral attempt to explain facts and not an everlasting truth in itself”.

“Our present lives are dominated by the goddess Reason, who is our greatest and most tragic illusion. By the aid of reason, so we assure ourselves, we have ‘conquered nature’ ”.

“The rational intellectual does not yet know that his consciouness is not his total psyche. This ignorance persists today in spite of the fact that for more than 70 years the unconscious has been a basic scientific concept that is indispensable to any serious psychological investigation”².

How many scientists take a basic course in psychology and self-awareness before embarking upon their careers?

When I said above that society is organised as if materialism were true, I was amongst other things referring to the fact that we treat life as if we are completely free to do what we like with it, which would be the case if it were a random accident, and there were no God. For example, the education system teaches many subjects — the national curriculum — to all pupils. Eventually each person is free to choose a career which presumably, if there are no pressing financial issues, will in some way be in accord with the individual’s temperament and personality. From the education system’s point of view, however, it could just as easily have been something else; there was no sense that the individual was being prepared for something that they were ‘born to’.

I have already discussed in chapter 17 the Jungian idea that the Self , which I have described as the basic subject-matter of Astrology, carries with it exactly that, a sense of vocation, of destiny. By definition such a thing could not be chosen by the ego. It therefore follows that, if we want a deep, fulfilling sense of meaning in our lives, if we do not want life to be like T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland, or the world described in the Del Amitri song Nothing Ever Happens, where there is much activity but it is all just meaningless repetition, then the ego has to give up its desire to be in control and surrender to something beyond itself. There is meant to be a meaning to our lives. In many cases this may never be discovered, precisely because the ego so desperately wants to retain control, refusing to explore the irrational recesses of the psyche in which it participates, so that the Self is never uncovered.

The meaning of our lives, the reason for the creation of each individual being may remain buried, but never goes away. It lies dormant, manifesting itself in depression, alienation, existential crises of all kinds. Nor do the irrational forces disappear merely through being denied. As Aniela Jaffé, a follower of Jung, says: “Whether known or unknown, it is the hidden operator behind our lives… Called or uncalled, affirmed or denied, the god will be present. Man cannot escape being destined by the self even in his freedom, but the possibility of an experience of meaning lies in recognising its imprint”³.

Astrologer John Addey is also very interesting on this point: “Post-Renaissance humanity has come to accept a totally false view of the nature of free will, and to believe that it consists in subjugating the environment to our own self-interest (usually a very narrow self-interest) in defiance not only of the natural order but, often, of the moral order too. This is a totally false kind of freedom… Taking the long view, we can see that it is not until man has been forced to the realization of just how far, and in what respect, he is not free, that he will be able to see clearly wherein his true dignity and liberty do consist, and that these, when they are realized, stand above nature and above all the fatal revolutions of the heavens”⁴.

In logic one cannot derive accurate conclusions from false premises. In social terms one cannot build a healthy, functioning society on a false view of the world. As physicist Danah Zohar points out: “Philosophy was once the queen of the sciences. Its pursuit was associated with a love of wisdom and its insights enlightened the most profound developments of the human spirit… When something goes wrong with philosophy, something goes wrong with us all”⁵.

Our society is therefore badly in need of a change of underlying philosophy. Atheistic materialists deny spiritual levels, arguing that people turn to such ideas for reasons of comfort, that they have succumbed to illusions which help them to avoid facing the gloomy reality. Yet it is not to make us feel better that we need a new philosophy. It is because the old one, even before we consider how it is leading us to self-destruction, fails to explain the universe, even on its own terms. As West/Toonder say: “Scientists deplore the search for spiritual significance behind physical facts. Nevertheless, the physical facts supporting astrology continue to accumulate and it is impossible to account for these facts in materialistic terms. And since these facts are not isolated, since they do not comprise a miraculous new spiritual science of their own, but relate to all the recognized orthodox branches of science, it becomes increasingly and embarrassingly clear that these disciplines cannot be explained in materialistic terms either”⁶. And that was in 1970!

Astrology in its pure form is not a complete answer, but the world-view upon which it is based — QMAP and the Perennial Philosophy — should become the dominant factors in the realignment. In that it synthesizes the Perennial Philosophy, quantum physics, and Analytical Psychology, Astrology could therefore be the most important element in a shift to a new world-view.

We therefore need to rid ourselves of previous false views. Some of these are:

  1. The error of seeing matter as pre-existent. This is an assumption, not a scientifically tested conclusion, derived from the, in my opinion, false premise that God (i.e. a transcendent reality) does not exist. Everything scientific derived from real experiments points to the opposite conclusion. Here is an alternative astrological viewpoint: “Astrology describes the ebb and flow of the primary, divine, creative ‘ideas’, the ‘mind stuff’ which shapes and informs all of life and consciousness, For everything in the cosmos is essentially ‘mind stuff’. All around us we see matter which is embodying particular ideas. Whether we are looking at a book or a flower, we are looking at the effect of ideas”⁷.

But who or what is having these ideas? The only meaningful answer is God, however that entity is conceived. How do we know that God is responsible for matter? In an absolute sense we cannot know. If materialism is true, however, and the universe is a random accident, how is it that there is so much organisation in it? There are extraordinary structures and patterns in matter, some of the ‘ideas’ that the Harveys are referring to in the last quotation. Biologist Lyall Watson puts it like this: “If evolution depends on chance alone, then there would seem to be equal opportunity for awkwardness and ugliness. But nature very seldom turns out like that. Even its least enduring designs are intriguing, and the successful ones take your breath away. Most often they do this by their simplicity. By the way they solve complex environmental problems with economy and austerity, producing solutions that not only work well, but are also aesthetically satisfying… Every day spent (on the beach)… one comes face to face with miracles of design”⁸.

2) Matter (i.e. the brain, the genes) is not solely, if at all, responsible for personality.

Professor Susan Greenfield of Oxford University, mentioned above (in chapter 19, part 1), is an important figure in modern science. (Her reputation is such that the BBC honoured her by asking her to present the annual Dimbleby Lecture at, as they saw it, the highly significant turn of the millennium. Later in 2,000 she was also given the opportunity to present her ideas in a 6-part TV series.) She has been researching the brain for 30 years, and, to her disappointment, has not as yet managed to understand how it generates consciousness. Physicists like Danah Zohar would not be surprised by this for she knows that “consciousness cannot be accounted for (in cognitive science)”⁹. This does not prevent Greenfield from saying, however: “I am convinced there isn’t a single aspect of our lives that doesn’t reside in the sludgy mass of our brain-cells. I am convinced that one day we will be able to interpret even our most intense, spiritual feelings in terms of the workings of the brain” (Programme 1, 18/7/00). Interestingly, on 29/11/99 she had appeared on BBC’s Start the Week programme with quantum physicist Julian Barber. This provided an opportunity to find out if she knew anything about this subject. During the discussions she said: “As far as I understand it, quantum theory is very much meshed with your subjective perceptions”. So she has read up on quantum physics enough to know that, but not that, according to the most common quantum view, the body including the brain is the creation of consciousness. “Our brain..is all we’ve got”, she had said a few moments before. Earlier in the programme she had noted that “mind is often juxtaposed to brain and regarded as something mystical and sort of airy-fairy”.

What is it that convinces her that everything can be accounted for by the brain? It cannot be her experimental results, otherwise she would be able to announce how the brain accounts for consciousness. So it is not evidence, rather her absolute faith in the materialist religion. She advises us that we should not find the idea too upsetting that “we might be reduced to a mere pile of neurons” while promising that “in the course of this series we will try to reveal the basic brain processes that lie behind every aspect of our mental lives”. What a mouthwatering prospect! This was the first programme in the series. I was therefore looking forward to obtaining an explanation in terms of the brain of telepathy, precognitive dreams, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, out-of-body experiences, the wisdom of myths, and so on. For some reason — dare I suggest that it is that Susan Greenfield avoids areas that might upset her theories — none of these topics were addressed in the series. They were probably too mystical and airy-fairy.

In April 2001 she was successful in her application to be appointed to the House of Lords. A member of the committee who made the appointments, interviewed on the radio, said that candidates were chosen if they were “very knowledgeable” and had been “highly successful in their field”. He might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

Once we take in the quantum viewpoint, and understand that matter is not pre-existent, we do not have to think of it as the only possible source of personality, and can consider alternatives. Here, for example, is a spiritual possibility, that of Gary Zukav: “The soul exists outside of time…. Souls that have chosen the physical experience of life as we know it as a path of evolution, have, in general, incarnated their energies many times into many psychological and physical forms. For each incarnation, the soul creates a different personality and body”¹⁰. (This is the first time that the idea of reincarnation has been drawn into my discussion. Since the validity or otherwise of Astrology does not depend on it, I do not intend to discuss its merits here. I imagine, however, that many astrologers believe in it, since most manifestations of the Perennial Philosophy include reincarnation.)

Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi expresses the same idea in different language: “The change that takes place is enormous, not only to the body but to the psyche which now finds itself completely locked into a fleshy vehicle… The psyche incarnated is focussed into a particular psychological matrix into which the body grows. Unlike the scientific view, Astrology holds that the body conforms to the psyche and not the reverse. Thus a person slowly fills out, during his life, the already existing form that was crystallized at birth”¹¹.

It is not a question of who is right and who is wrong, it is merely a question of being open-minded. If (Michel) Gauquelin (discussed in part 1) were not so infatuated with the materialistic world-view, he might realize how many unproven, and therefore unwarranted, assumptions he is making in this passage: “Astrological or not, planetary influences are difficult to explain. Is a child’s personality determined by astral rays which mark it with an indelible stamp? A child comes into the world fully formed with all potential elements inherited from its parents. We cannot accept that the planets have an effect on the chromosome structure of the child’s cells and that it can change and redistribute these to bring about a change in the personality. The planet would not be able to add anything that the child did not already have. The effect of the planets would seem to be more acceptable if their role could be associated with heredity”¹². He is devoting his life to a study of Astrology, agonising over questions like these. He is making the enormous assumption that the psyche, and therefore personality, operate subject to physical influences, obviously because, in accordance with the materialist view outlined above, he believes that they are the by-product of matter. He may be right in thinking this, but it is clear that he has not considered any alternatives, for example that psyche is a different level and operates according to its own laws. He claims to be an objective, scientific researcher into Astrology, and yet he has allowed his powers of discrimination to be completely wiped out by the materialistic philosophy which has taken him over — ‘possessed’ him to use the old-fashioned terminology — without his even realizing it. How is it that he can completely ignore the thinking of Rudhyar, Ficino, Plotinus, Plato, Pythagoras? One would think that he hadn’t even heard of them, let alone read them¹³.

These are probably the two most significant reorientations needed, but once the start has been made by establishing the falsity of the premise of materialism, all sorts of areas can be opened up for debate and the conclusions re-examined, for example:

  1. Darwinism, neo-Darwinism, as a complete explanation for evolution.

It would take far too much space to go into this question in detail here. The basic point of contention, however, is the claim that life as we know it has evolved as a result of natural selection acting on random mutations. Here is physicist Paul Davies discussing the problem: “The component parts of (eyes and ears) are so specifically interdependent it is hard to believe that they have arisen separately and gradually by a sequence of independent accidents. After all, half an eye would be of dubious selective advantage; it would, in fact, be utterly useless. But what are the chances that just the right sequence of purely random mutations would occur in the limited time available so that the end product happened to be a successfully functioning eye? Unfortunately it is precisely on this key issue that neo-Darwinism necessarily gets vague”¹⁴. (Another scientist discussed in this book who is critical is Danah Zohar [see The Quantum Society, pp127 et seq. and 139 et seq.] A more spiritually oriented writer who gives a criticism on the basis of levels is E.F. Schumacher in A Guide for the Perplexed.)

Davies later mentions a discussion in which Heisenberg pressed Bohr for an explanation on this very point: “Bohr conceded that the idea of new forms originating through pure accident ‘is much more questionable, even though we can hardly conceive of an alternative’ ”(p182). Exactly! The problem is in the limitations of the mind. If we free our minds, other explanations become possible. The alternatives of which Bohr cannot conceive are staple fare for Eastern religions, Kabbalists like Halevi, and astrologers like Harvey and Arroyo. Also, John Addey was actually rather witty on this point. Discussing Eysenck’s criticism that astrologers cannot explain how Astrology works, he said that astrologers can explain, it’s just that scientists won’t accept their explanations: “Apart from that, we would only point out that all the evidence suggests that scientists do not reject astrology because they have no explanation for it but that they have no explanation for it because they reject it”¹⁵.

2) The implications for medicine.

If the assumption is made that the body is primary, then all treatments have to be directed to it, whether or not the origin of the illness is physical. If however, like Halevi, one considers the possibility of “four levels of physical, psychological, spiritual and Divine experience that occupy the same location in Time and Space in a person”, so that “a human being is composed of four different bodies, each one corresponding to the level of reality of each of the four great Worlds that make up Objective Existence”¹⁶, then it is possible to talk, for example, of “disorders of the subtle body”, which, if approached from a materialist perspective, would be completely misunderstood and treated inappropriately. (This is the problem currently being addressed to some extent by the psychosomatic approach to medicine. Compare Hartmann: “There are natural physicians, and there are artificial physicians… The latter see the exterior of things, but the former see the interior; but the inner man is the substantial reality, while the outer one is only an apparition”¹⁷. Also Dr. Yeshi Donden, physician to the Dalai Lama: “Health is the proper relationship between the microcosm, which is man, and the macrocosm, which is the universe. Disease is a disruption of this relationship”¹⁸.)

3) A reorientation of Western religious traditions.

a) Mainstream Christianity has stressed faith rather than experience, and has ignored the study of the human physical and psychological aspects. In some ways Hinduism and Buddhism can be seen as an almost scientific attempt to understand the human psyche and the body, and the true spiritual nature of reality. Gerald Heard describes the problem in these terms: “The second great mistake of Western religion.. is (to have) neglected psychology and psycho-physiology… Whenever there was any search for these things the church ruthlessly persecuted the seekers… It is the West which has made experiment and religion seem an impossible combination… Tied to an inadequate world-picture, lacking a psychology, fearing experiment, it had to end in the last and worst mistake of brutal intolerance”¹⁹.

b) Without elaborating on the point, which might become a book in itself, I will just say that the Christian churches could profitably spend time using Astrology to understand the Divine Will, rather than seeking to impose their limited moral views on others.

I could go on, but that should suffice, in case there was any doubt, that there is no shortage of things to work on. With all this in mind, we can now ask what our next step as a society should be. That will be the subject of the next article.

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Footnotes:

1. Picador, 1978, pp 72,70,17

2. ibid. pp80,82,90

3. The Myth of Meaning, Penguin, 1975, p27

4. in The Future of Astrology, A. T. Mann (editor), Unwin Hyman, 1987, p53

5. The Quantum Society, Bloomsbury, 1993, p113

6. The Case for Astrology, Macdonald & Co., 1970, p214

7. Charles and Suzi Harvey, Principles of Astrology, Thorsons, 1999, p31

8. Dark Nature, Hodder and Stoughton, 1995, p9

9. as footnote 5, p109

10. The Seat of the Soul, Rider & Co., 1990, p34

11. The Anatomy of Fate, Penguin, 1995, p91

12. as footnote 6, p65

13. This book was published in 1987, towards the end of Gauquelin’s life. It is not clear whether he was writing specifically for this book, or whether the essay is from earlier work. I have given him the benefit of the doubt therefore, and mentioned only those astrologers he should have heard of at the start of his career. If this was written in 1987, he should also have heard of Addey, Harvey, Arroyo etc.

14. The Cosmic Blueprint, Unwin, 1989, p111

15. A New Study of Astrology, Urania Trust, 1996, p64

16. as footnote 11, p36

17. Franz Hartmann, The Life and Doctrines of Paracelsus, John W. Lovell, 1891, p292

18. quoted in The Practice and Profession of Astrology, Stephen Arroyo, CRCS, 1984, introduction

19. in Vedanta for the Western World, edited by Christopher Isherwood, Unwin, 1963, p55

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I am a singer/songwriter interested in spirituality, politics, psychology, science, and their interrelationships. grahampemberton.com spiritualityinpolitics.com