What is Preventing Astrology From Flourishing?
This is part of my unpublished book on Astrology, the sixth chapter of part 3. While taking a break from writing new material (see this article), I am using the opportunity to try to complete this project. (For what has preceded please see this list.) Part 3 is not so much about Astrology itself, rather the implications if there is any truth in it. In simple terms this means that we need to adopt a worldview completely different from the current dominant scientific paradigm. My suggestion is that we need to return to the pre-Enlightenment worldview which served humanity very well for thousands of years. (The term ‘Enlightenment’ to describe what has happened in the last 300 years I find somewhat ironic.)
I hope that readers will have been following the previous articles in order to follow my argument here. For any new readers unfamiliar with the preceding material, just make the assumption that astrology might be true, and see what you make of it.
Chapter 25: WHAT IS PREVENTING ASTROLOGY FROM FLOURISHING?
I hope that it does not require too much thought to come up with ‘science and religion’ as the answer to this question. Often these institutions are in open conflict with each other but, when it suits them, they join ranks to protect themselves from undesirable aliens like Astrology. One can readily understand the objections of science in that the philosophy of Astrology is profoundly obscure to the rational mind and impossible to prove conclusively. (Astrologers would say of course that their results, as opposed to the underlying philosophy, offer evidence.) The objections should, however, be kept within reasonable bounds and not be allowed to descend into irrational hostility. Stephen Arroyo explains the situation thus:
“The main religion of the Western world now is scientism. It’s not science, but scientism. These ‘scientists’ hold forth as the high priests of humanity, often funded by the state, and offering to ‘unravel the mysteries of life’, which is of course historically a religious function… When many scientists speak publicly, they’re not speaking as true scientists. They’re speaking as high priests of the dominant modern religion. Now scientism arises from the methodology of science being mis-applied, by taking that fruitful method (which has produced a lot of useful discoveries) and applying it as an all-embracing world view! Then there arise philosophical and religious overtones to what really is only a methodology”¹ (his italics).
He goes on to describe how this religion of scientism unconsciously shapes our attitudes, thought processes, and beliefs, a mere mental construct thus insidiously becoming society’s view of reality. This leads to a quasi-incestuous relationship between the state and the scientific community: “The official spokesmen of academia and ‘science’ (the high priests of the religion of scientism) generally enforce the standards that suit the state; and the state in turn enforces the exclusive view of reality (through laws and funding) that allows the religion of scientism to flourish” (p64). At the time he wrote the above (1984) he did not see any immediate prospect of change since “fewer and fewer people all the time bother to ask any philosophical questions, particularly those people involved in ‘science’ ”. It is not obvious that any progress has been made since then. (I can add that when people do not ask philosophical questions it is because they think that there are no questions worth asking, that everything has been sorted out, which is further evidence of their closed minds.)
The main dogma of the religion of scientism are:
1) Science is the most important of human activities; it will ultimately lead us to a true understanding of the nature of the universe.
2) Only that which can be proved to be true to the satisfaction of science is of any interest. Anything that cannot be proved to the satisfaction of science is untrue, insignificant, and can safely be ignored.
3) All other ways of knowing apart from the scientific method are invalid.
The consequence of these dogma is that science, which scientists claim knows so much, ends up knowing very little. Arroyo says (summarizing a talk by the spiritual teacher Da Free John): “The physical universe that science investigates is only a narrow portion of a wider scale of dimensions in which we participate” (ibid. p63). The situation is probably more complicated than this but, for the sake of simplicity, here I will call these other dimensions psyche, soul, and spirit. The frequently stated objection that these are the province of religion, not science, would only be valid if science accepted the reality of these dimensions, while understanding that its method is inadequate to investigate them. I would like to suggest, however, that this objection should be transcended, and that all these levels can be explored by true lovers of knowledge. That is what the definition of a scientist should be, and what it would be once a new breed of scientist had emerged after the reunification I have been discussing.
The fact that scientism is unwilling to take into account and investigate other dimensions means that it is in effect incapable of investigating Astrology adequately. Because it will allow only rules which are perceived to apply to the physical dimension, it cuts itself off from the possibility of the higher, more profound knowledge which Astrology involves. Thus John Addey says: “The reason why astrology is rejected so uncompromisingly by orthodox science is not because it has been subjected to an impartial scientific examination and judged in the light of the results. It is rejected prima facie because it is seen to be fundamentally at variance with certain widely accepted scientific concepts. If astrology is true then some of the basic assumptions of empirical science are false. ‘What mustn’t be true, can’t be true’: this is the logic which inspires the vehement rejection of astrology in scientific circles”.
“Had it turned its powers and resources to an imaginative investigation of astrology, science would have had literally no difficulty at all in discovering the truth about it! It is an outstanding illustration of how all scientific enquiry is conditioned by the framework of subconscious metaphysical assumptions in the mind of the scientist”².
We saw in chapter 1 how irrational, and unreasonable scientists can become when their religion is threatened; they behave in fact just like the fanatical devotees of normal religions. Astrologers are accused by such scientists of being credulous and superstitious. A definition of ‘superstition’ is “unreasoning awe or fear of something unknown, mysterious, or imaginary, especially in connection with religion; religious belief founded upon fear or ignorance” (Britannica World Language Edition of the Oxford Dictionary). Now that we understand that scientism is itself a religion, we can see that this is a perfect description of these scientists’ attitude towards Astrology, although they would obviously find it very difficult to see that for themselves. Isn’t it strange that those who are so intolerant of superstition are riddled with it themselves? On this topic the astrologer Robert Hand notes: “However fallacious the assumptions and practices of the craft of astrology may be, the primary resistance to it goes far beyond its mere truth or falsity… Reactions to astrology run the entire range from fear to loathing… I have dubbed this resistance to astrology astrophobia, the fear that astrology might be true!”³. It is obvious to observers that such extreme emotional reactions do nothing to prove the falsity of Astrology. On the contrary they make one wonder what the scientists have got to be afraid of, given that they are so convinced of their own position.
Neither I nor Arroyo are criticising genuine scientists. As he explains he is only against the “power-hungry, rigid-minded authoritarians who misuse their authority, who have lost the true spirit of science, and who completely lack any intellectual honesty” (p58). There is nothing wrong with the fact that the scientific method is of only limited applicability, as long as it is recognized as such. Scientism believes that by adopting these dogma, by restricting itself thus, it is creating a methodology which can establish truth. One crucial rule, for example, is that only experiments that can be repeated are of any value. I would suggest that it is clear to everyone else that if science adopts these dogma and methodology, it is limiting its applicability to a very small category of phenomena, since many events are one-offs or unprovable. Just because something cannot be proved does not mean it is not true. (Also, the insistence on repeatability again means restricting knowledge to the physical dimension. Unfortunately, even this knowledge is likely to be limited and inaccurate, since it will either ignore or not know how to deal with the effects that the other levels are having upon the physical.)
If the advocates of scientism were capable of adopting the psychoanalytic, spiritual attitude of ‘man, know thyself’, they might perhaps seek to observe and evaluate the contents of their own minds instead of letting their intellectual rigidity equate its own private opinion with universal truth. Instead of a long reflection on the question ‘why is it that I am so hostile to Astrology?’ we get ‘I am completely right and anyone who disagrees is ignorant, gullible, superstitious and so on’. In therapy parlance this is a clear case of inflation. Believing that it alone is capable of understanding the universe, scientism assumes the mantle of God.
Since it is incapable of providing any alternative viewpoints itself, I will offer this one from Aniela Jaffé (a Jungian writer): “Any statement that pays no heed to the mystery of the psyche is false from the scientific standpoint”. She elaborates: “In nuclear physics, which, like the psychology of the unconscious, is brought up against irrepresentable factors, there is, according to Niels Bohr, a complementarity between the clarity and the tightness of a statement, so much so that a statement which is too clear always contains something false. Bohr’s wish scrupulously to avoid anything not right moved him to a conscious renunciation of excessive clarity”⁴. Bohr’s attitude is very profound, and worthy of long reflection; it shows a real appreciation of the limitations of the scientific method, and a willingness to be open to what is required to gain a deeper understanding.
Given that religion is equally irrational and impossible to prove, one might think it might be more sympathetic to Astrology but, as we know, this is not the case. If we adopt a long-term historical perspective we can see that this attitude is really nothing more than the current fashion. Saint Augustine, the dominant figure of early Christianity, was vehemently opposed to Astrology. (However, other now less famous Christians from the same era were openly in favour of it. For example Synesius of Cyrene, who “maintained that astrology can prepare one for the nobler science of theology”. He believed in a cyclic view of history and that “the universe is a whole, in which the parts are bound together by sympathy”. Also Julius Firmicus Maternus who wrote “a massive defence of astrology that is still regarded today as a classic”. He believed that the astrologer “mediates between human souls and celestial beings”, and that “the human soul itself is a spark of that divine mind that exerts its influence through the stars”⁵.)
Several centuries after Augustine, however, Saint Thomas Aquinas, the leading Catholic thinker of his age, under the influence of a revised theory by the philosopher Plotinus, was a convinced believer in Astrology. Also, according to Toonder and West, “most of the Renaissance popes consulted astrologers on a more or less openly acknowledged basis. Melancthon, Luther’s right-hand, was an ardent astrologer, and Luther himself was not above providing the preface to an astrological work by Johannes Lichtenberger”⁶. Currently the tables have turned back the other way, but who knows whether this state of affairs will last?
Although it may prove to be only a passing fashion, we nevertheless have to deal with the current attitude as it stands. Christianity in its various manifestations considers and condemns Astrology as at best pagan, in that false ‘planet-gods’ are being ‘worshipped’ instead of the true God, and at worst Satanic. Neither of these claims stands up to serious examination. I have now read thousands of pages of astrological writings and not once have I found any suggestion of ‘worshipping’ the planets, whatever that might mean, merely observing and interpreting. Furthermore all the writers who address the ethical implications talk purely in terms of greater harmony and compassion; I will let Cordelia Mansall speak for all: “The foundation of the birth chart… is the principle of ‘At-one-ment’ and tells of the need for each of us to work towards understanding our unique individuality in order to fully utilize our energy resources to create a better life for all. It is the ideal that is at the heart of all religious and spiritual teachings”⁷. Could such a sentiment be called Satanism?
The purpose of all the great disciplines of Religion, Science, and Philosophy should be the search for truth, and anyone engaged in any way in this endeavour should seek to remain open-minded at all times. It is obvious that there remain vast areas about which we know very little, yet all three disciplines fall so easily into the trap of pronouncing that their current theory is the ultimate truth, and then beginning to worship it. It could all so easily be different, however.
If these people could overcome their prejudice and open themselves merely to the possibility that Astrology might have some validity, then we could discover some important truths about the cosmos and the way it expresses itself. For example, Christianity insists that there is one God (monotheism), gaining this impression mainly from the Old Testament of the Bible, which is an English translation of a translation of a book put together by a completely different culture. The original version of the creation story in Genesis says Elohim, which is a plural word, possibly therefore “the gods” rather than “God”.
So the reason that we have “God” in our Bible is that along the line someone was either not a very good translator, or deliberately changed the text to fit their own beliefs. (I am aware of one version in which the editors/translators actually admit that they did this because Christianity is a “monotheistic tradition”.)
All the traditions that I have been investigating — Pagan, Aboriginal, Native American, the Bushmen, Hindu, Greek, Egyptian, Incas — are polytheistic. This does not prevent them, however, from understanding that behind the great diversity there lies a transcendent consciousness in which everything is united (thus polytheism within monotheism). In my view, the statement ‘there is one God’ is merely a mistranslation or misunderstanding of the true statement, God is ‘the One’ — the unity, the ultimate spirit.
What these traditions have in common, especially the tribal ones, is a belief in ancestor spirits (gods) specific to their culture, and having a special relationship with it. It is not difficult to see in the Old Testament that Yahweh is an analogous divine being for the Jewish people, a father-figure sometimes protective, sometimes angry and destructive, who makes covenants with his people, and who will lead them to the Promised Land. This is made crystal clear in the first of the Ten Commandments: I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20 vv2–3). This not only affirms the personal relationship between this particular god and his people, it draws attention to the fact that other gods exist, presumably those of other nations. This interpretation is made even clearer in the Knox version: “Thou shalt not defy me by making other gods thy own”. To identify such a figure with the ultimate Spirit on the grounds that there is only ‘one God’ seems to me therefore misguided; for another culture to adopt this figure as their god because there is only ‘one God’ seems to me bizarre.
It would perhaps be more reasonable therefore to describe Judaism not as monotheism, rather as monolatry, “the practice of worshipping one god to the exclusion of others while recognizing that there are other gods”⁸. Danah Zohar (who was the subject of my previous article) considers the Judaeo-Christian attitude somewhat simplistic: “A passion for simple, singular truth is not unique to children. Ever since Moses returned from Sinai with his message of the One God, the West has rejected polytheism in all its forms”⁹.
Yet this is the kind of ‘reasoning’ which prevents serious examination of the validity of Astrology. According to the views that I have been exploring, all beings are a microcosm of the Divine, a view which the Bible shares since it says that God (or Elohim, the gods) created man in his(!) own image (Genesis 1 v27). There should therefore not be any problem with the idea that the One is expressing itself through lesser gods and goddesses (planetary energies, holons), since they too emanate from it. We would then not have to worry about simplistic objections of the type that stars cannot be responsible for human destiny because God is the sole master. As West and Toonder say: “Since the fundamental doctrine of astrology presumes the coherence of the universe, and purports to be the means of understanding the divine will of the macrocosm as it manifests itself in the microcosm of men, there can be no fundamental rift between astrology and any genuine religion”¹⁰. Astrology establishes a direct relationship between the individual and divine revelation.
Although science and religion are perhaps the major obstacles to an acceptance of Astrology, Stephen Arroyo has identified a further problem in the role governments and the media play¹¹. Although it is probably going too far to suggest that an organised conspiracy is operating, the more likely explanation being that the people concerned have been swallowed up by society’s prevailing world-view, the end result is effectively the same. Arroyo talks about “the ‘enemies of truth’ (who)… have a vested interest; they’re busily organizing and consolidating power; they’re projecting phony images of astrology to the public”. These are not just the scientists, there are “media sensationalists misrepresenting astrology”. He goes on to say that “the media still ignores the facts, still ignores the value and the modernization of astrology that has occurred… The media totally ignores significant scholarly work in astrology” (all italics his).
He quotes Newsweek magazine, whose staff is “so completely ignorant of astrology and so irresponsible” that they can write: ‘Except for the millions who follow the horoscopes in the local paper with unfailing hope and longing, nobody has a good word to say for astrology. Its premises are dismissed by sensible folk, its pretensions mocked, its impositions upon the gullible lamented’ (August 30, 1982). Arroyo wonders, “Who have they been talking to? They’re just talking to themselves in their heads and not paying attention to what’s really happening at all! The facts have been completely ignored!”
Along similar lines Geoffrey Cornelius discusses the response to research by Vernon Clark who, instead of testing the claims of astrology, decided to test the skills of astrologers, and found that they were actually very good. He says: “Never again will it be possible to dismiss the astrological technique as a vague, spooky, and mystical business — or as the plaything of undisciplined psychics — or as merely the profitable device of unscrupulous quacks. Those who, out of prejudice, wish to do so will have to remain silent, or repeat these experiments for themselves”¹². Cornelius comments: “We should not be surprised that these results received no scientific coverage whatsoever. It is simply a fact of life that research astrologers have long since learned to accept: that it is virtually impossible to find a reputable science publication prepared to carry material, however convincing and from whatever source, that might lend credence to the astrological hypothesis”.
As he points out, however, there was one striking exception to this normal rule. On one occasion an astrological experiment was given enormous coverage. You may be surprised and wonder why this should be. It was because the experiment, which included the cooperation of a group of astrologers, appeared to disprove astrology. The results were published in Nature, which ensured that they received wide press coverage. This happened despite the fact that, in Cornelius’s opinion at least, the experiment was a “classic demonstration of bad science” and “misapplied statistics… (It) manifestly broke down through poor design and through freak circumstances…, and this breakdown is self-evident in the report and figures given… Yet despite this it was accepted uncritically by Nature, together with the author’s unscientific assertion that the results ‘clearly refuted’ astrology. We may be certain that, had the results favoured astrology, the editors of the journal would have scrupulously sifted through for the slightest ambiguity — if the study had not gone straight into the bin at first sight” (ibid. pp73–73). (On this point, please see the response by Cosmic Program. This is quoted in full in the Appendix at the bottom of this article.)
Arroyo also refers to the work of Barry Lynes (which I previously outlined in chapter 24), who uses Astrology to make accurate financial forecasts which affect markets, thus governments and nations. This was reported to “many, many editors of major magazines and newspapers, the head of the Federal Reserve, the head of the Treasury, and many other media people”, yet “not one of the media people ever printed it or put it out. It was buried by all of them”. Lynes himself has contributed an essay to Mann’s book The Future of Astrology³. The power of his language is such that any effort by me to convey it would fail hopelessly. I am therefore going to let him speak for himself: “Television network personnel have known about economic and political turning points weeks or months in advance. White House aides have consulted astrologers. Numerous and scrupulous examinations by psychologists and psychiatrists who sought to discredit a breakthrough astrological ‘floor’ for a new psychology have proved futile. Panels of experts have found a little-known, but testable and provable astro-psychology which explained their toughest cases. These were not proponents of astrology. They were antagonists”.
He refers to the eventually exposed 7-year cover-up of information supporting Astrology that I discussed in chapter 1, the effect of which was that “astrology was kept from mainstream acceptance. Countless potential studies and uses were delayed”.
“Politicians, economists and journalists (permitted) the 1985–98 world deflation to hit without warning or planning”, and “in the real, dirty world of mass suffering, political conflict, and war, astrological contributions which might have saved millions or made their lives somewhat more tolerable never were attempted”. “The seemingly small ‘wrongdoing’ of three academics has had enormous ramifications… Yet the academic communities have taken no action against the men who perpetrated this deed... The press wouldn’t even report the fraud…” “So the “fate of nations” is ignored because editors of leading newspapers prefer to play it safe and the ethical committees at leading universities look the other way”.
These are his views on the behaviour of the Establishment:
“Problems are swept under the rug. The prevailing political, scientific and economic views are shamelessly parroted. The traditional dogma is never challenged”. “The truly radical new discoveries which transform entire industries, entire sciences and entire societies are repressed, censored, squelched. Sometimes this happens because of powerful interests who are on the watch for what threatens them even if it would benefit society. Sometimes it happens because of widespread insecurity and a reluctance to risk one’s career” (p175).
And this is what he thinks about the behaviour of “the media, academia, economic think-tanks, political advisers and all who help shape a nation’s policies”: “No mainstream recognition has been permitted. A black-out persists. The majority of astrology books published by the large publishers continue to be drivel. Nothing on the economic links, the political links, the verifiable psychological links or the new, emerging climate links has come forth… Even worse… evidence has been manufactured and facts manipulated by opponents to prevent the recognition of astrology”.
As an example of the last point, he offers the following example: “On 26 July 1985, CSICOP member and UCLA Physics Professor Bernard J. Leikind appeared on the enormously influential late night talk show of Johnny Carson. Leikind lied to America by saying “astrology was not based on anything… scientific tests have been made… we never find anything”. They found something, and they altered the results rather than admit their self-serving assumptions were wrong”¹³.
I think it is fair to say that Barry Lynes is a pretty angry man.
Perhaps a less obvious obstacle to Astrology’s advancement is the state of our own minds. I have suggested that in ancient times Astrology arose, not because of gullible, superstitious attitudes, but because it expressed peoples’ experience, which fitted with what in modern language we would call quantum physics and Analytical Psychology.
How could ancient peoples have discovered the truths of quantum physics through experience? For the leading minds of the twentieth century, using advanced technology, it took an extraordinary intellectual effort to make the necessary breakthroughs, and even they were tempted to resist their experimental results, struggling to accept their own conclusions. For the general public it remains an amazing theory that we have to learn; we could never have worked it out for ourselves. For the Native Americans, however, as discussed earlier in chapter 19, things were somewhat different:
“The Sioux idea of living creatures is that trees, buffalo and men are temporary energy swirls, turbulence patterns… that’s an early intuitive recognition of energy as a quality of matter. But that’s an old insight, you know, extremely old — probably a Paleolithic shaman’s insight. You find that perception registered so many ways in archaic and primitive lore. I would say that it is probably the most basic insight into the nature of things, and that our more common, recent Occidental view of the universe as consisting of fixed things is out of the main stream, a deviation from basic human perception”.
These are the words of Gary Snyder being interviewed by Lee Bartlett in California Quarterly (1975 Vol 9). The implications are extraordinary. Somehow these people had a direct experience of quantum reality. (This quotation opens up the question whether this was the experience of all the people, or whether it was the special privilege of the shaman, who then shared his or her insights. Even though the latter is possible, for the sake of simplicity in the discussion I will assume that the former is the case. The passages I quoted in chapter 21 regarding the Bushmen, Aborigines etc., suggest that the quantum experiences were experienced by many.) Why do we not see matter in this way? Why do we not see the interconnectedness of all things?
I have taken this quotation from the book The Spiral Dance¹⁴ by Starhawk, the adopted name of Miriam Samos (p32). This is a compilation of modern Witchcraft, a word which makes many people recoil in horror, given that it has been so badly misrepresented down the ages. I do not want to go into a full explanation and defence here, and shall restrict myself to saying merely that there is nothing in the literature, unless there is some deception, which should cause more alarm than, say, the Native American tradition¹⁵.
Having confirmed that Witchcraft’s mythology and cosmology are rooted in the same quantum view of reality as these ancient shamans, Starhawk then adds: “This view of the universe as an interplay of moving forces… is a product of a very special mode of perception. Ordinary waking consciousness sees the world as fixed; it focuses on one thing at a time, isolating it from its surroundings… Extraordinary consciousness, the other mode of perception that is broad, holistic, and undifferentiated, sees patterns and relationships rather than fixed objects. It is the mode of starlight: dim and silvery, revealing the play of woven branches and the dance of shadows, sensing pathways as spaces in the whole.
“The magical and psychic aspects of the Craft are concerned with awakening the starlight vision… and training it to be a useful tool…
“Ordinary consciousness is highly valued in the Craft, but Witches are aware of its limitations. It is, in a sense, a grid through which we view the world, a culturally transmitted system of classification. There are infinite ways to look at the world; the other vision frees us from the limits of our culture” (p32).
She links the two modes of seeing to the well-known modern idea of the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and believes that if we could see more from the right hemisphere we would see the world in a quantum way: “This is the starlight vision, which sees the universe as a dance of swirling energies, which ‘does not postulate duration, a future or a past, a cause or an effect, but a patterned, “timeless” whole’ ”(p34)¹⁶. If we compare this passage from Stephen Arroyo, which is almost identical, we might say that the right hemisphere would help us to see the world in an astrological way: “Implicit in the reality that astrology reveals is a holistic paradigm, which shows the interrelatedness of man, the planets, and all the rest of creation within a dance of energy that exhibits all-at-oneness that transcends the space/time limitations that traditional scientists tend to believe in”¹⁷.
Starhawk also speaks about three areas of consciousness: the Talking Self, the Younger Self, and the Deep Self (which correspond approximately to the modern psychological concepts of the conscious, the unconscious and the Jungian Self), and then says that “(Witchcraft’s allegiance is) to the power of symbolic action that unlocks the starlit awareness of Younger Self, and opens a free flow of communication between all three selves at once” (p37).
If we put these two ideas together, then Starhawk’s Witchcraft can be seen as an attempt to recreate a way of seeing the world through quantum mechanical, thus astrological, eyes and also an early version of Analytical Psychology, that is to say, an attempt to create a direct experience of QMAP, the original way of looking at the world. (Compare Timothy Freke/Dennis Renault: “To live in this awareness is to live synchronously in the physical and spiritual worlds. They are not separate. They coexist and interpenetrate each other”¹⁸.
This way of seeing may be necessary in other fields: “The very same process of deconstruction and resynthesis is similar to that described by some creative artists, who say that they have to ‘rid’ themselves of old, habitual ways of seeing and learn to see the world in a new way. Matisse: ‘Everything we see in ordinary life undergoes, more or less, the deformation brought about by acquired habits… The effort necessary to get out of this rut requires a sort of courage; and that courage is indispensable to the artist who must see things as though he saw them for the first time; you have to see the whole of life as you did when a child’ ”¹⁹.
This mode of perception seeks to re-establish contact with the archetypes. Marsilio Ficino (a significant figure of the Renaissance) must therefore have had a similar intention to Starhawk when he developed a method called Orphica comparatio, in which he sought to “pursue images of the phenomenal world to their archetypal origin… The re-emergence of the pagan gods in the quattrocento takes on an entirely new, and urgent, relevance... A vision is given of our origins in the archetypal world, mundus archetypalis”²⁰.
a) Ronald Hutton: “In many ways the essence of all modern paganism is consecration; the attempt to make persons, and places, and objects feel more sacred, more invested with inner power and meaning which connects the apparent to a non-apparent world”²¹.
b) Liz Greene: “When you work very deeply with the unconscious, you can spy on that process of materialisation”²².
c) Luis Alvarado: “The motive force of the Qabalah is above all practical. It is to be used so that subject and object merge. The Qabalah facilitates the union of ego and archetype”. “Our ancestors experienced the Gods directly”²³.
If we could consistently see the world in this way, perhaps the truth of Astrology would be as obvious to us as it was to the ancients.
How can we do it? We badly need to. On this point I could easily quote the whole of Man and His Symbols, but a few references will have to suffice. According to Jung: “For the sake of mental stability and even physiological health, the unconscious and the conscious must be integrally connected and thus move on parallel lines. If they are split apart or ‘dissociated’, psychological disturbance follows”²⁴. So, according to this view, our modern, Age-of-Reason consciousness, far from being the crowning glory of Western civilization, is revealed as a kind of illness.
In this passage one can clearly see parallels between Jung and the language of Starhawk: “The symbol-producing function of our dreams is thus an attempt to bring the original mind (the unconscious, the Younger Self) of man into ‘advanced’ or differentiated consciousness (the Talking Self), where it has never been before and where, therefore, it has never been subjected to critical self-reflection. For, in ages long past, that original mind was the whole of man’s personality. As he developed consciousness, so his conscious mind lost contact with some of that primitive psychic energy. And the conscious mind has never known that original mind; for it was discarded in the process of evolving the very differentiated consciousness that alone could be aware of it.
“Yet it seems that what we call the unconscious has preserved primitive characteristics that formed part of the original mind. It is to these characteristics that the symbols of dreams constantly refer, as if the unconscious sought to bring back all the old things from which the mind freed itself as it evolved — illusions, fantasies, archaic thought forms, fundamental instincts, and so on” (p88).
Another therapist who is very relevant to this point is Stanislav Grof. In modern psychological language this other way of seeing would be called an “altered state” of consciousness. Tribal societies have often used psychedelic substances (mushrooms, plants) to achieve altered states. They also have long rituals involving intense rhythmic dancing.
Grof started his career in Czechoslovakia, using LSD, when it first became available, as an experimental tool to see whether it could help psychiatric patients. He believes strongly that it can²⁵. He eventually moved to the USA, and continued his work there. When the use of LSD became illegal, Grof developed a technique which has the aim of achieving the same altered states without the drug. He calls this Holotropic Breathwork (which is a trademark of his organisation). One of the techniques used is to play tribal music, including long periods of drumming²⁶. During his career Grof has therefore used both the methods (psychedelic drugs and specific musical rhythms) favoured by the ancient tribes. It is therefore fair to say that Grof has transferred to a modern therapeutic context tribal practices aimed at obtaining the altered state, younger self, quantum, astrological world-view. That is exactly the type of experience the participants have. As well as having to deal with material from the personal unconscious, sometimes they enter into a ‘mystical participation’ with the world in that they identify with plants, stones, animals etc., which sounds similar to the life of the Bushmen described in chapter 21. Sometimes they meet deities from all sorts of cultures, talk with them, identify with them. This can be thought of as contact with the archetypal level, and sounds like the aspirations of Starhawk, and the life of the Aborigines, the Incas, or the Taoists.
It would seem therefore that the means of obtaining a direct experience of the astrological world-view are becoming available to us. I hope that this does not sound too much like a direct advertisement for Grof’s product, but these are the type of experiences that we need in order to transform our thinking.
I’ll close this chapter with two interesting quotes. Jung ties together all my different threads in this particularly illuminating passage: “On the one hand (our modern consciousness) is a child of the Church; on the other of science, in whose beginnings very much lies hid that the Church was unable to accept — that is to say, remnants of the classical spirit and the classical feeling for nature which could not be exterminated and eventually found refuge in the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages. As the ‘spiritus metallorum’ and the astrological components of destiny, the old gods of the planets lasted out many a Christian century. Whereas in the church the increasing differentiation of ritual and dogma alienated consciousness from its natural roots in the unconscious, alchemy and astrology were ceaselessly engaged in preserving the bridge to nature, i.e., to the unconscious psyche, from decay. Astrology led consciousness back again and again to the knowledge of Heimarmene, that is, the dependence of character and destiny on certain moments in time”²⁷.
Finally, here is some food for thought: “Religious morals, in a healthy society, are best enforced by drums, moonlight, fasting, dancing, masks, flowers, divine possession”²⁸.
APPENDIX (Cosmic Program’s response to the material in the text about that study)
Sorry but you may be interested to know that this was analysed by Ertel et al. and refuted however, Nature is looking the other way because no one cares about fairness or scientific integrity when it comes to astrology. If not too late, you can perhaps add this re this joke of a Nature publication which is still cited, to this day, as gold standard against astrology “Shawn Carlson’s 1985 study, published in Nature, which ended with a devastating verdict of astrology, is scrutinized. The design of Carlson’s study violated the demands of fairness and its mode of analysis ignored common norms of statistics. The study’s piecemeal analysis of sub-samples avoided testing the totals for astrological effects, as did the neglect of test power, effect size, and sample size. Nevertheless, a correct reanalysis of Carlson’s two astrological tests reveals that astrologers matched profiles of the California Personality Inventory to natal charts better than expected by chance with marginal significance (threeway forced choice, p =.054), and that a positive result was replicable by a different assessment method (10-point rating, p =.04). The results are regarded as insufficient to deem astrology as empirically verified, but they are sufficient to regard Carlson’s negative verdict on astrology as untenable.”
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- The Practice and Profession of Astrology, CRCS, 1984, p28
- A New Study of Astrology, Urania Trust, 1996, p171, p172
- in The Future of Astrology, A.T. Mann (editor), Unwin Hyman, 1987, p36
- The Myth of Meaning, Penguin, 1975, p28
- source, Astrology, Louis MacNeice, Aldus, 1964, p132
- The Case for Astrology, J. A. West and J.G. Toonder, Macdonald & Co., 1970, p82
- Discover Astrology, The Aquarian Press, 1991, p29
- as footnote 3, p28
- The Quantum Society, Bloomsbury, 1993, p107
- as footnote 6, p76
- as footnote 1, pp43–46, also p181 et seq.
- in The Moment of Astrology, Arkana, 1994, p64
- CSICOP was the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal — it has since been renamed. It was anything but scientific, however, rather pathologically sceptical. Lynes is referring to the fact that the Committee falsified the evidence in a study that appeared to suggest some truth in astrology.
- HarperCollins, 1989
- Compare Ronald Hutton: “The most colourful charge ever levied against pagan witches is that they worship devils, and this can only be sustained by those who firmly believe that any deity or deities except their own must automatically be demonic. Like Tanya Luhrmann before me, I have never encountered anything remotely resembling Satanism in my entire experience of pagan witches. To do so would, indeed, be something of a conceptual impossibility, as belief in the Devil itself requires a Christian cosmology, and modern Pagans of all kinds do not perceive any inherently evil forces to exist in the non-human world” (Triumph of the Moon, OUP, 1999, p407).
- quoting Robert Ornstein, The Psychology of Consciousness, W. H. Freeman, 1972, p79
- as footnote 1, p59
- Principles of Native American Spirituality, Thorsons, 1996, p29
- Danah Zohar, The Quantum Self, Flamingo, 1991, p233
- Noel Cobb, foreword in The Planets Within, Thomas Moore, Lindisfarne Press, 1990
- as footnote 14, Pxi
- New Insights in Modern Astrology, with Stephen Arroyo, CRCS, 1991, p28
- Psychology, Astrology and Western Magic, Llewellyn, 1991, p28, p55
- Man and His Symbols, Picador, 1978, p37
- Descriptions of this work can be found in Realms of the Human Consciousness, and LSD Psychotherapy.
- A later book which discusses these sessions is The Holotropic Mind. There is also a set of audiocassettes called The Transpersonal Vision, which is especially interesting in that Grof includes significant autobiographical material, as well as discussing his whole life’s work in detail.
- Psychology and Alchemy, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968, p34
- Robert Graves, Food for Centaurs, New York, Doubleday, 1960, p6. Quoted by Starhawk, p36.