Can We Take Astrology Seriously? — Are the Planets Good Hooks for our Projections?
This is part of a series of articles I am publishing on Medium Can We Take Astrology Seriously? These were previously an unpublished book I wrote some time ago, Homage to Patric Walker. This article is chapter 8, which follows the Introduction, part 1 and part 2, chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 6, and chapter 7. (This article makes most sense if you are familiar with chapters 5, 6, and 7.)
Having suggested that symbols are an everyday reality of life, that they are a manifestation of a divine meaning breaking through into material reality, and having noted the occurrence of synchronistic events, meaningful coincidences between inner and outer, it would be easy to think that Astrology were almost proved, since these things are what it claims. Yet it is still reasonable to ask whether there is any genuinely meaningful symbolic relationship between the planets and personality, since we would normally assume that the material planets have nothing to do with consciousness. In other words, why is it that in the language of the psyche they are associated with personality traits?
As we know the planets are named after various Roman deities, some of which are closely identified with Greek counterparts. They were associated with what we would assume to be human activities or qualities, for example Mars was the god of warfare, Venus the goddess of love, Minerva the goddess of wisdom, Bacchus the god of wine and revelry. Thus it could be said that the gods and goddesses represented the essence, perhaps the source, of aspects of human behaviour. I have discussed earlier Jung’s idea that human personality is shaped, if not determined, by what he calls the archetypes. According to this view therefore, there must be some relationship between the deities and the archetypes, and the obvious interpretation would be that the divine figures are images derived from and symbolic of the archetypes, which are pure ideas and therefore not representable in themselves. Alternatively, the deities could be seen as a kind of self-portrait by the archetypes. In either case there would be a clear connection between the gods and human personality. Astrologer Margaret Hone says: “Each planet seems to represent in the person, a certain drive or urge in the unconscious”¹. Charles and Suzi Harvey say: “Whether we call them gods or archetypes, forms or ideas, these principles are the fundamental formal causes which weave the tapestry of living Creation out of the passive potentiality of matter”².
It is a big jump from there, however, to accepting that there is a meaningful connection between the gods and goddesses and the planets. The normal attributions seem rather banal — Mars is red, therefore warlike, and so on; if Astrology is true, surely it must be deeper than that. Critics of Astrology think that early humans decided to connect the planets with the gods through ignorance and superstition. At best this is a theory, and in my view is not even the most likely explanation. Rationalists tend to deny the existence of the psyche, and are therefore dismissive of anything that might be considered an unconscious process. This connecting of planets with personality could, however, be exactly that, a spontaneous product of the psyche like dreams and myths, not a decision taken by consciousness. This does not mean that the idea is automatically valid, because there is both wisdom and illusion in the psyche, but at the very least it suggests that the idea should be explored, so that we can better understand what is going on inside us. The ‘point of view’ of the psyche is often superior to that of the ego. ‘In’ the psyche is the Self (in the Jungian sense), possibly the deepest wisdom available to us. It is also described as the totality of the archetypes, which are associated with synchronicity, probably responsible therefore for any correspondence that might exist between planets and personality. It would therefore be a reasonable hypothesis that this idea which connects them meaningfully also emanates from the Self.
To explore this question adequately we need to go into areas more difficult than those I have discussed so far. Until now I have adopted an orthodox view of the planets, treating them as the inanimate objects that they appear to be. I have deliberately avoided investigating the spiritual traditions, because I wanted to see how far I could test the validity of Astrology purely from the psychological and scientific standpoints. These will still be important in what follows, but I will also open up some other areas.
Earlier I was considering the possibility that matter might in some sense be ‘conscious’, therefore ‘alive’, because of an interaction, if not an equivalence, between psyche and matter. What I have said so far, however, only takes us to an imprecise understanding of any relationship that might exist between them. What does it mean in real terms that matter is alive? We would of course assume this to be a very low level of life, human being the highest, then in descending order other mammals, animals, insects, plants. Only then would we consider matter — the animist/panpsychist viewpoint — and that would be at this low level, not in any way equivalent to human consciousness. Is that an accurate perception?
We have seen that even particles of light appear to have consciousness, in that in certain experiments they seem to choose which pathway to take, which, if true, is already a sophisticated achievement. If choice is possible at the level of the almost infinitesimally small, what might be possible at the level of a planet, which, compared to a human being, is very large? The question I am asking is this: is it conceivable that a planet might have a personality, including a sense of identity, if not in exactly the same way we humans do, at least in an analogous fashion? This seems to be an extraordinary idea, very remote from our normal way of thinking. Yet if Astrology is really true, one could argue that it must be based on such an idea. The astrologers I discussed earlier, however, do not generally talk like this; they seem to stick at the idea of a mysterious, therefore unexplained, correspondence of inner and outer, thus in their work they deal with the material planets. This is by no means the only interpretation. If there is no real distinction between psyche and matter, and if the Divine can manifest itself as both the external universe and as each individual’s deepest inner self (Atman), then it is quite feasible that it can also manifest itself as the consciousness of a planet. After all, humans have both body and consciousness. If planets have consciousness then it is possible that they have something analogous to what in humans we call a personality. This takes us back full circle to the Greek and Roman deities, who, as I pointed out above, are manifestations of hidden, inner realities (archetypes), and who, as any story-book of mythology will show, had their own personality, very much like humans.
There are two approaches to the problem of planetary personality. Either:
1) the material planets have something like a planetary soul, a psychological identity, what is sometimes called the ‘astral body’, or
2) the planets are symbolic of gods and goddesses, inner figures whose personalities are within the psyche, influencing us to the extent that we are contained there too.
Before we can explore the first idea, we have to establish whether there is an astral level at all. I trust that readers will have heard of this supposed phenomenon, even if they do not believe in it. The expressions ‘astral body’ and ‘astral travelling’ are in reasonably common parlance, and refer to a non-material entity identified with a particular person. The two reported phenomena which correspond most closely to this idea are ghosts, and out-of-body experiences. Also, some idea of this kind is clearly necessary for all religions which believe in life after death. This non-material entity is what is meant by the ‘astral’ body. (The word ‘astral’ actually means of the stars! A synonym often used, sidereal, has the same meaning. It is also called the ‘planetary world’. From an astrological perspective this is clearly intriguing. At this point I shall restrict myself to saying that etymology can often be revealing, and hope that what is meant by this terminology will gradually reveal itself.)
Do ghosts exist? I always prefer to base my thinking upon my own experience, and I have to admit that I have never seen one. I have spent time in three places that were reported to be haunted. I once stayed in a house for a single night, which the owner told me was regularly visited by a ghost, described as ‘a benign monk’. I saw nothing. When I was a student I shared a ground-floor flat with three friends during the final year. The landlord and landlady, who lived upstairs, told us that the house had a ghost, described as a woman from the Victorian era, although I did not know whether they were believable or not. I lived there for over a year, and never once had any waking experience, visual or otherwise, which suggested the presence of this ghost.
I do have two friends, however, whose word I trust, who say that a ghost sometimes visits them on the boat where they live. The woman is aware of the presence in the corner of her eye to the extent that she can describe it as a young man wearing a white shirt. When she turns to look, however, there is nothing there. The man has had a better view, having seen the entity in their bedroom, confirming the description as a young man in a white shirt. The existence of the presence is confirmed by the fact that their four cats adopt an aggressive stance, arching their backs, and so on, which shows that they sense or see him. (Although I have stayed the night several times on this boat, I have never seen anything. In fact I had already stayed there several times before they told me about it, and was therefore very surprised to hear their story.)
There are also at least two instances of spirits appearing in the life of Carl Jung. A famous one is included in Memories, Dreams and Reflections, where he describes a weekend of bizarre phenomena which culminate in a group of spirits demanding that he write a text which is now known as The Seven Sermons to the Dead³. Also, on a video entitled Artist of the Soul⁴, one of Jung’s daughters tells of a ghost which haunted the house he had built at Bollingen. She used to sleep in a tent, and every night awoke with a jolt because she had the impression that a man was poking his head through the opening. When she angrily asked her father why he had built a house on top of corpses, he made fun of her. Several years later, however, he wrote to her telling her that she had been right. While digging to extend the house a skeleton had been discovered. Jung gave it a proper burial, erected a tombstone, and fired off a three gun salute in the dead man’s honour, after which the ghost was not seen again.
There are also ‘out-of-body’ experiences, which are most frequently reported as taking place during an operation after life-threatening accidents⁵, although they may also occur in other situations, dangerous or otherwise. Upon recovery, the people concerned subsequently tell how they remember looking down from the ceiling on their own body on the operating-table. A typical statement is: “I still felt as though I had an entire body form, even while I was outside my body. I had an airy feeling that’s almost indescribable”⁶.
These are the type of stories which provide direct anecdotal evidence for the astral level of humans. Indirect evidence may perhaps be suggested by amputees’ experience of phantom-limbs (although other explanations are possible), the ability of certain organisms to reassemble themselves despite having been minced into pieces, for example the hydra⁷, and by certain dream experiences. For example, while asleep one night in the flat referred to above, I was confronted by a female ghost-figure, which in the dream I understood to be the one which haunted the house. What it means to meet a ghost in a dream obviously depends upon what we understand a dream to be. At the time I had no theory of dreams whatsoever. Several years later I had experiences which led me to adopt a Jungian understanding, which in my own words I would describe thus: dreams are stories created by a hidden superior intelligence, to provide the ego with otherwise unavailable truths, if it can be bothered to pay attention. The implication of this theory is that the ‘world’ in which dreams takes place has no reality; it is imagined in some way. Even though this still seems to be true of many dreams, I am no longer quite so sure that it does justice to all of them. Since dreams are products of the psyche, and for some people the word ‘psyche’ is more or less a synonym for the astral level, it is possible that dreams might incorporate some examples of astral activity.
Upon reflection I realised that I had myself experienced another type of dream. Examples of the first category described above are often long, complicated, with many details of place, objects, and so on. The second type, on the contrary, are very short, with little detail. The typical pattern is as follows: in a very sparse setting I am with someone whom I know well. We exchange a few words, usually no more than one sentence each, which are very meaningful in the context of our lives, and then the dream ends. Such a dream could be understood along the same lines as the first type, the hidden intelligence creating the dream to show me the direction in which the relationship is heading. If we think of dreams astrally, however, another interpretation is possible. Perhaps I am meeting my friends at the astral level, in order to make a communication that would not be made in our everyday lives. Another way of saying this would be that our souls are meeting during sleep.
A clearer example of the astral level in dreams is the following. An acquaintance of mine relates that while asleep he visited the new flat of his brother in America, which in ‘real’ life he had never seen. When he later went there, the flat was more or less as in the dream. To his brother’s amazement he was able to say things like, “I see you’ve moved that vase”. This dream suggests a real inner experience, and thus adds a new dimension to our understanding of them, over and above the first category⁸.
Even if we accept the ideas that I have expressed so far, we still have to go further in order to address the fundamental question being discussed, for the astral entities might be exactly that which animates living organisms, making the difference between animate and apparently inanimate matter, which includes the planets. What about an astral level for the earth, and the other planets? Is it completely outrageous to think this?
There is actually nothing new in such an idea. It was an ingredient of Astrology in its early days, as Michael Baigent explains: “The Sumerian word utu means both the Sun and the power which motivates it — in other words, the power of the Sun god is seen as immanent in the Sun. Similarly in the case of Venus: the planet is worshipped as being the repository of the goddess Ishtar, who is immanent in that planet and who controls and animates it. They did not, however, believe the planets to be the god or goddess”. Thus it was “a very ancient cosmological conception: that the planets were conduits for divine energy”⁹. Stephen Arroyo explains how the same idea flourished in India: “In many ancient cultures, the planets were considered to be either actual celestial deities, or at least the embodiments of spiritual forces or agencies. In certain branches of Hinduism, the planets were regarded as the ‘Lords’ which the Supreme Lord appointed to rule over the various regions of creation and to mete out one’s karma… It is often said that the Sun and Moon seen with the physical eyes are mere reflections of the Sun and Moon sources of power on subtler planes”¹⁰. The idea was also prominent amongst the ancient Greeks, amongst whom Plato is the best known subscriber¹¹. He inspired the neo-Platonist tradition including Iamblichus who said: “We say that [the spiritual sun and moon and the rest] are so far from being contained within their bodies that, on the contrary, it is they who contain these bodies of theirs within the spheres of their own vitality and energy”¹². Then in medieval times, especially during the Italian Renaissance, the soul of the world was called the anima mundi. (Since first writing this chapter, I have discovered that the German philosopher/scientist Gustav Fechner believed that plants, the Earth and stars were possessed of souls.)
If this last idea is true then it forces us to reconsider the problem of planetary influence across distance. Where is the soul of the planet located? How far do any fields emanating from them extend? Elwell — who quoted Iamblichus — goes on to say: “For the earliest astrophilosophers, then, ‘Saturn’, ‘Jupiter’, and so forth were not only ‘there’ but ‘here’, and man lived within the supersensible bodies of the planets just as he lives within the earth’s atmosphere. So it was unnecessary to visualise mysterious rays impinging on the earth across the distances of space”.
Just because these people all believe it, does not of course prove it. I mention this tradition merely to show that the idea has recurred down the ages in highly intelligent people, and deserves our attention for that reason. Not surprisingly, it appeals to astrologers. For example, N. Chidambaram Aiyar, translator of the Brihat Jataka, says in his introduction: “The difficulty in conceiving active agency as possessed by the planets when viewed in the light of huge inert balls, will be removed when we suppose that each planet possesses a soul”¹³.
Surprisingly, a similar idea is beginning to emerge in modern science, albeit in a more limited form. I am referring to the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock, as expounded in his books Gaia, a New Look at Life on Earth¹⁴, and The Ages of Gaia¹⁵. (The following quotes all come from the former.) According to this hypothesis the Earth is “…a single system, a kind of mega-organism, a living planet” (Pviii). Because there are optimum values “from which even small deviations could have disastrous consequences for life” (p9), the planet can be seen as “…a vast being who in her entirety has the power to maintain our planet as a fit and comfortable habitat for life” (p1). This last phrase is very important, because it implies a hidden will-power which would be strongly suggestive of life, even of consciousness. In support of his idea Lovelock presents a wide range of very compelling evidence in these texts, which I enthusiastically recommend to anyone who has not already read them, including:
1) the composition of the atmosphere which suggests a “violation of the rules of chemistry to be measured in tens of orders of magnitude” (p9). “Our experiments… convinced us that the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere was so curious and incompatible a mixture that it could not possibly have arisen or persisted by chance... Amidst apparent disorder relatively constant and favourable conditions for life were somehow maintained” (p62). Specifically there is a great need for maintenance of the oxygen level: “The constancy of oxygen concentration suggests the presence of an active control system, presumably with a means of sensing and signalling any departure from the optimum oxygen concentration in the air” (p69).
2) the maintenance of temperature despite non-constant output from the sun: “Right from the beginning of life, around three and a half aeons ago, the Earth’s mean surface temperature has never varied by more than a few degrees from its current levels. It has never been too hot or too cold for life to survive on our planet, in spite of drastic changes in the composition of the early atmosphere and variations in the sun’s output of energy” (p48).
3) the maintenance, despite expectations, of the level of salt in the ocean at an almost precise level, which is essential for the survival of living organisms (p85 et seq.).
Everything can be included in this process: “The large animals, plants, and seaweeds may have important functions, but the greater part of Gaia’s self-regulating activity could still be conducted by micro-organisms” (p106), and the reasons for the otherwise obscure activities of animals may thereby be explained: “It is worth asking ourselves whether the movements of migratory birds and fish serve the larger Gaian purpose of phosphorus recycling. The strenuous and seemingly perverse efforts of salmon and eels to penetrate inland to places distant from the sea would then be seen to have their proper function” (p98–99).
To put it simply, there are various processes going on in a human body which we would immediately recognise as being indicative of life, however that is defined. Lovelock’s suggestion is that analogous processes are happening at a planetary level. For example:
1) “body temperature is adjusted by a consensus decision arrived at by the brain in consultation with other parts of the body as to the most suitable temperature for the occasion” (pp 49–50), thus sweating and shivering are means by which the desired temperature is obtained. As the planet also achieves the same result, there must be an analogous process (his search for the Gaian thermostat is described on pp 49–57).
2) The thyroid gland performs a function (the creation of iodine-bearing hormones) without which we cannot live. Lovelock suggests that “certain large marine algae, laminaria, may perform a similar function to the thyroid gland but on a planetary scale” (p110).
3) As stated above, the planet has some means of controlling the salinity level of the oceans. Lovelock compares this to the complex function of the human kidney, which “to achieve its aim of regulating the salinity of our blood… purposefully segregates individual atoms. In every second it recognises and selects or rejects countless billions of atomic ions” (p53).
The last example points to an important indicator of life, that of information processing. The kidney is monitoring, processing with apparent intelligence. This fact leads to difficult speculations about probably impossible questions. Does the kidney know what it is doing ? If not and the process is somehow dependent on the brain, does the brain know what it is doing, and why it is doing it? Who or what is it that knows? What is certain is that our ego-consciousnesses are completely unaware of these physiological processes and, with the possible exception of advanced yogis, completely unable to influence or control them.
These questions lead on to another important one. If we accept Lovelock’s hypothesis that the planet is a living being, to what extent is it conscious? In his fascinating preface to the 1995 edition he points out that the original text contained an important disclaimer, saying that the reader should not think of Gaia “as if she were known to be sentient”, although it was sometimes hard to avoid giving that impression “without excessive circumlocution” (Pix). This apparently had little effect because most scientists appeared not to notice it, including one critic who “referred to it scathingly as a fairy story about a Greek goddess” (Pxii). The hostility which met the original book gradually waned, however, and the science of Gaia gained respectability, but at a price. Lovelock describes it thus:
“This local and partial acceptance of the real science of Gaia, after twenty years in the wilderness, was not without conditions. Important among them is the demand that the new science of Gaia, geophysiology, must be purged of all reference to mystical notions of Gaia and the Earth Mother”. He says that he is willing to accept these restrictions in that “the problems of our ailing society inhabiting an unhealthy planet are serious and this is no time to quibble over the rules” (both quotes Pxi), although he then acknowledges the need for “poetry and emotion” (!) alongside the science (Pxii).
It seems that he is being prevented from expressing what he really thinks by considerations of scientific politics. Imagine what it would be like if professional astrologers could only operate under rules devised by Richard Dawkins! I do not wish to press the point too far, because it would almost certainly not help Lovelock in his work to find his ideas being used in support of Astrology. Let me just say that fortunately I am not bound by the same considerations, and can entertain the possibility that the anima mundi may be conscious or, put more cautiously, exhibit certain features of consciousness.
This is the theme of another book very relevant to my argument, The Awakening Earth by Peter Russell¹⁶, who takes the Gaia hypothesis as his starting point, and then goes further. He begins by discussing the reactions of the astronauts to seeing the planet from space, and those of Earthbound humans upon seeing the photograph. What for Lovelock was an intellectual idea seemed to become a reality: “The view of Earth from space brought with it… the realisation that the planet as a whole may be a living being… The whole planet appeared to be alive — not just teeming with life, but an organism in its own right” (p5). The role of humanity in such an organism is obviously a complex question. Russell entertains two contrasting theories: we may be a planetary nervous system or brain, alternatively a kind of planetary cancer.
It is not important here to go into all the details of his argument, which explores both scientific and mystical avenues; let me go straight to his conclusion and say that Russell does believe that the planet, as an independent entity, is conscious. If we accept this as a hypothesis, the unresolved question is then what level of consciousness the planet has currently reached. As I suggested above, all kinds of purposeful physiological processes can take place in humans at an unconscious level. None of the factors that Lovelock cites as evidence of Gaia imply that there is a conscious being experiencing them, in the same way that no human physiological processes stop merely because we are asleep — not that we are aware of them even when awake. Given that his book is called The Awakening Earth, it is clear that Russell perceives the planet to be in a state of sleep. He believes, however, that the awakening of the planet will be the next significant evolutionary step:
“If humanity were to evolve into a healthy, integrated social super-organism, it would signal the maturation and awakening of the global nervous system. Gaia might then achieve her own equivalent of self-reflective consciousness, and a fifth level of evolution — the Gaiafield — might emerge. Gaia would become a conscious, thinking, perceiving being, and also a being functioning at a new evolutionary level with faculties quite literally beyond our imagination” (p211).
If the planet has the potential for self-reflecting consciousness, then surely it has the potential for personality. I am not aware of anything that I could say that would prove this idea, or if it is even provable; we are too far away from the experience. So everything that follows is tentative; I am saying it as a kind of ‘brainstorming’ session, to open up new areas of thinking. Hopefully you will be able to think of even better examples than I have.
According to the ideas that I was discussing earlier, each area of space-time can enfold the greater whole, as in the hologram effect. At that time I was referring to the individual being, the microcosm of the whole universe. If that quantum mechanical idea is valid, then it should equally be true that the individual is a microcosm of the planet, as an intermediary stage, and perhaps even a microcosm of a nation, which might also have its own ‘identity’. Astrologer Liz Greene says: “A nation is made up of individuals, but it is a psychic entity unto itself, and countries have birth charts”¹⁷. Here it may be possible to make some useful comparisons. Lovelock explored the possibility that physical processes at a planetary level are analogous to human ones; I am asking whether it is possible to apply the same type of investigation to psychological processes.
Before trying to make any observations about the planetary personality, however, it is necessary to establish a basic model of human personality with which to compare it. There are many approaches to this subject, and many models used in the various Psychoanalytic and therapeutic schools. It would take a long time and serve no useful purpose to spend several pages trying to include everyone’s point of view. I intend to use the model that makes most sense to me, derived from personal experience and observation; it fits most closely with the ideas of Jung and Psychosynthesis¹⁸. The definition of personality that I am going to use, which is in no sense meant to be a rigorous, scientific one, is as follows: a combination of psychological tendencies and traits which distinguishes one individual from another. The different traits, for example greed, shyness, decadence, competitiveness, generosity are not specific to an individual; there seems to be a great stockpile available to the whole of humanity. But each person has a particular blend of some or all of them¹⁹. Each trait, or a combination of them, can sometimes acquire the status of an inner figure, and this can reasonably be called a sub-personality, many of which are instantly recognisable: the victim, the rebel, the authoritarian, the hedonist, the cynic, and so on. These sub-personalities can be placed in three categories:
1) those with which the ego feels completely comfortable and is willing to reveal to the outside world in general, and also those which the ego is willing to reveal to some people, but not necessarily to others, for example one’s boss. Jung, amongst others, calls this first category the persona or mask, since it conceals the second category²⁰.
2) those which the ego knows about, but chooses not to reveal to the world, for whatever reason — fear of disapproval being the most common.
3) those which are so unacceptable to some content of the psyche that the ego itself is unaware of them. This situation often causes enough suffering for the individual to seek help in therapy, where this process is termed repression.
These various sub-personalities tend to lead autonomous lives within us and are often in conflict with each other, as would obviously be the case if an anarchist found himself cohabiting inside one individual with a capitalist miser, for example²¹. The solution to these problems is for the ego to discover the lost sub-personalities, allow them into consciousness, and then try to take responsibility for their integration into a harmonious whole. The analogy frequently made in Psychosynthesis is that of the conductor (the ego) and the orchestra (the sub-personalities which need direction, which cannot by themselves create the music). This process begins by trying to ‘meet the needs’ of the alienated sub-personalities, in effect treating them as one might treat people in the outside world²².
These ideas also feature in Analytical Psychology. Jung calls the third category the ‘shadow’, a term which conveys the nature of the hidden, repressed sub-personalities. This shadow has to be integrated into the conscious personality before progress can be made. Another Jungian model of the personality is that of the four functions — thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. These are considered to be different means of relating to the world, but usually the ego does not have access to them in equal measure. Each person can therefore be described as belonging to one of various categories. Psychological progress is made by developing the other, relatively neglected, functions. This process bears some relation therefore to the one described above, in that the neglected functions can be compared to the repressed (unconscious) sub-personalities.
The other Jungian idea which seems relevant is that of the Individuation Process. There is a definite and repeatable pattern involved as it manifests itself in the individual (namely Shadow, Anima/Animus, Self), which I do not intend to describe as I have nothing to add to the comprehensive accounts already available²³. What I want to concentrate on here is the implication of this idea, namely that in the psyche within each individual there is a potential process of evolution taking place.
In a successful individuation one might therefore expect to see consciousness going through various phases. Also essential to Jung’s theory of personality and individuation, is his idea that the psyche consists of opposites, (apart from those related to the four functions of thinking/feeling, sensation/ intuition) so that inner conflict, at a certain stage of life at least, is unavoidable. This idea fits closely with that of repression which I discussed above. When describing the third category, I said “some content of the psyche” causes the sub-personality to be repressed, because surely the ego would need to be aware of a content in order to repress it. However, it is often said in psychoanalysis and related fields that the process of repression is itself unconscious. The agent was therefore not the ego; given what I have just said it seems possible, that it was the opposite sub-personality. In my hypothetical example, an anarchistic sub-personality would feel uncomfortable next to a capitalist miser, and therefore try to deny its existence. The effect of this is to spare the ego the conflict which would result from experiencing the tension of the opposites.
It may also be useful to mention some analogous material from the psychology of Freud. As is well known, he separates the psyche into the ego, the superego, and the id. The ego and the id are seen as being in conflict with each other in that the ego represents the tendencies towards civilisation and order, whereas the id represents the anti-social forces of naked instinct — aggression, primitive sexuality, greed, for example²⁴. This clearly reflects the Jungian idea expressed above; we may equate the ego with the persona (what is acceptable to the world), and the id with the shadow (the repressed, unacceptable contents). The superego is seen as a form of internalised parent, related to conscience. Freud’s view was therefore that we have no alternative but to suffer as a consequence of the incompatibility between the demands of the ego, the id, and the superego²⁵.
These are some of the processes taking place within the psyche of each individual. It is now time to see whether the same processes can be seen to be operating at the level of nations and the planet. An example which immediately springs to mind is that of the recent developments in Russia, formerly part of the USSR²⁶. Communism, in its manifestations to date, is a very authoritarian system, which tries to control the lives of its citizens; to achieve this it enlists the services of a strict Secret Police, to whom citizens are encouraged to report any fellows whom they suspect of deviant behaviour. The government has an ideology (Marxism) which is presented as absolute truth. Significant aspects of this ideology, to which I shall refer later, are its atheism, and its anti-psychoanalytic stance — it repudiates Freud, and probably has not even heard of Jung. Alternative philosophies are not permitted, and dissent in any form is also not tolerated; those deemed guilty may find themselves in prison or mental hospitals. Artistic freedom is not tolerated, and writers and painters are expected to produce works conforming to and celebrating the dominant ideology. The goal towards which Communism is striving is anti-individualistic; citizens are not permitted to be enterprising and make a better life for themselves through their own efforts, but are employed by the government on more or less equal wages in an attempt to wipe out the hated class systems of the West, and are expected to surrender their individual life to the greater ‘good of the State’, a perverse caricature of the idea I am considering, namely the ‘personality’ or ‘soul’ of the nation. (The outward manifestation of this anti-individualist tendency is that in photographs citizens of these countries are often seen to be dressed identically.) The strict government controls come close to eradicating crime, and any form of (perceived) sexual deviance.
So what we see here is an extreme form of national superego engaged in a desperate attempt to repress the national id (shadow), thus the dynamics of the individual psyche are acted out at a national level²⁷. When the USSR collapsed and the ‘reform’ process started, what had been repressed suddenly exploded into consciousness:
1) an exaggerated (by our standards) capitalism, where a wealthy business elite suddenly emerged alongside a desperately poor underclass, the former apparently completely unconcerned about the latter, despite seventy years of Communist education trying to teach them otherwise.
2) crime became commonplace, including the sudden rise of a powerful Mafia.
3) there was a sudden outburst of previously forbidden sexuality. Two examples which spring to mind are:
a) a report on BBC2’s Newsnight programme about the sudden emergence of Rock music in Russia, which incorporated stage displays far more provocative than those seen in the West, where they almost certainly would be banned, including full-frontal (female) striptease.
b) a feature on the Channel 4 programme Eurotrash, which showed busloads of young Russian women being ferried in from outlying villages to watch male-striptease shows. Some of them got so excited that they spontaneously climbed onto the stage in order to participate. In the words of the commentator they ended up “virtually shagging on stage”.
Splitting the world into the Communist/Capitalist divide, the situation prevailing during the period of the Cold War, is in itself very reminiscent of two sub-personalities, a pair of Jungian opposites struggling for supremacy in the world psyche. As I said above, when sub-personalities are antagonistic to each other, they tend to deny each other’s existence. Exactly the same process occurred inside the two systems, which strove desperately to maintain their purity, free from the perceived stains of the other. Thus in the USA — the outstanding candidate for a model of capitalism — which claims to value the freedom of the individual as one of its highest ideals, there was the spectacle of the McCarthyite ‘witch-hunts’, persecuting citizens with alleged Communist sympathies. If you wished to visit the USA, the visa application asked whether you had ever been a member of a Communist organisation, and presumably you wouldn’t have been let in if you had. In the Eastern block, even physical barriers (e.g. the Berlin Wall) were erected to protect the system, any attempts at reform or liberalisation were ruthlessly suppressed (Hungary and Czechoslovakia), and when ‘dangerous’ activities were planned, e.g. cultural events like ballet tours, extensive efforts were made to protect the members from the influence of the opposing system, and conversely there was great excitement and celebration when someone managed to escape the clutches of the minders and defected to the other side. (This scenario was normally a Communist block person escaping to the West, but there are good examples of the reverse process when Western citizens who sympathised with Communism, and who spied on its behalf, if caught sometimes managed to escape, or were exchanged and then settled in the Eastern Block.)
At this point I would like to introduce a further idea into the debate, which is the well-known Taoist symbol:
This is called T’ai-ch’i-tu, and represents the religious or mystical concept of a Oneness from which everything else emanates, the first stage being a splitting into two contrasting but complementary universal energies, the yin and the yang, which are represented by the black and white portions of the diagram. The whole universe is thought to be derived from the complex interactions of these two energies, which can be seen as the ultimate blueprint for the whole principle of opposites within the psyche. As can be seen from the diagram each energy is perceived as containing its opposite in seed form, the implication of which is that when one tendency reaches its extreme, it has the tendency to transform itself into the opposite²⁸.
I would suggest that this is a phenomenon which can readily be observed in the lives of individuals, and which I would describe as follows. There is a longing for an experience of one’s true identity. The ego, however, tends to identify itself with one sub-personality which therefore dominates it and controls it. The opposing sub-personality lives on at an unconscious level, where it gains energy. At a critical moment, the ego subliminally perceives that its identification with one sub-personality does not represent an experience of true identity, and therefore surrenders to the energy of the opposite one, which at the time seems more valid in that it offers new hope, the promise of inner truth. Examples would be of extreme fluctuations between political or religious points of view, ‘normal’ citizens suddenly ‘dropping out’, or a hippy mentality suddenly getting a job and adopting bourgeois values.
We have just seen an example of this at the national level, Russia’s sudden conversion from Communism to Capitalism. It seems very unlikely that the USA is on the verge of returning the compliment, yet there is a sense in which the USA, and to a lesser extent other Western Capitalist countries, tends towards a mirror-image of the former. I said above that the dominant ideology of Communism contained an anti-psychological stance, and that it tried to stamp out crime and any (perceived) form of sexual deviance. There is a similar trend in the USA, where under a different name, a similar ideology struggles for ascendency. In its extreme form it is called Christian Fundamentalism, but it spreads out to encompass other various groups of the Christian right-wing. It is not as dominant as Communism was in the USSR, but it certainly aspires to be — one area of the country is known as the ‘Bible belt’. Amendment 1 of the American constitution guarantees the separation of religion and State. In the year 2,000 election campaigns leading up to the choice of presidential candidates, however, according to a BBC news report that I saw, none of the candidates felt that they had a chance unless they stood on some form of Christian platform. In August 1999 the Kansas Board of Education decided to replace the teaching of evolution in state schools by fundamentalist and Creationist material, a decision described by New Scientist magazine as “just the tip of a titanic iceberg”²⁹. The contents of the ideology are on the face of it opposing, atheism versus a monotheistic religion, but to my mind Marxism is merely a different type of religion or, if you prefer, a substitute for religion — it was treated, along with its founding fathers (e.g. Lenin), with just as much reverence by its adherents. Jung expresses it thus: “The communist world… has one big myth… It is the time-hallowed archetypal dream of a Golden Age (or Paradise), where everything is provided in abundance for everyone, and a great, just, and wise chief rules over a human kindergarten”³⁰. He then goes on to show how we in the West are subject to the same kind of thinking; in fact, doesn’t that actually sound like some versions of Christianity?
Furthermore the aims of these two ideologies are surprisingly similar. There is a determined attempt to repress all expressions of bad behaviour, with special emphasis on ‘deviant’ sexuality, for example prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, and even ‘normal’ sexuality if not conducted within marriage. Christian fundamentalism is obsessed with the maintenance of ‘family values’; in the USSR something surprisingly close was promoted. Marxism, as noted above, is atheistic; Christian Fundamentalism claims to be a religion and yet it is totally opposed to all other attempts to express the spiritual dimension, namely all other religions and their practices, and also all forms of spiritual experience, including anything psychological or psychic³¹. In a nutshell it attempts to be a religion without spirituality, which it replaces with a set of beliefs in which one must have faith, and becomes thereby an affair of the mind. It is therefore much closer to an ideology, and in that sense, given the surprisingly similar aims, it seems to be some kind of strange mirror image of Marxism. If we remove the political and religious language, which tend to promote the illusion of contrast, I would say that in both the USSR and the USA, we see a moralising superego posing as an ideology making a determined attempt to suppress the national id.
With regard to Jung’s idea of the four functions, they are often presented diagrammatically in the form of a cross, resembling the four points of the compass. Every time I see this I am strongly reminded of the map of the world, where the same four tendencies dominate in the same areas. For some reason Greenwich in London has acquired the status of being the dividing line of the world, so that the Americas are always seen as the West, and so on. The thinking function is presented at the north of the compass, and so it is in the world. Europe, especially northern Europe, more so than anywhere else, has a long tradition of philosophy and rational thinking, also of a ‘thinking’ approach to the arts, for example, the mathematical architecture of Bach, and the love of form, structure, and symmetry of Mozart. Also the populations are often described as being out of touch with their feelings; there is the case of the English with the value they place on the ‘stiff upper lip’, and the Germans are often thought of as being dour and humourless.
Sensation is seen at the western compass point. Thus in the USA we have probably the most materialistic culture in the world, where peoples’ status is judged by their income, where identification with one’s possessions is very strong. There is also a love-affair with food — restaurants serve massive portions, the breakfasts are especially famous — to the extent that obesity is now a serious problem. (A news report that I heard recently said that cinemas are having to replace their seats with larger models, because Americans just can’t fit into them anymore!) In South America, which is poorer and where the citizens are therefore not so able to indulge in material acquisitions, the civilisation is nevertheless very sensation oriented. If I may take Brazil, by far the largest country, as being representative of this sub-continent, there is a strong emphasis on the physical. There is a reputation for living for the moment, which is expressed through sexual freedom and an unwillingness to commit to relationships. ‘Partying’ is a top priority, as can be seen in their love of the carnival, including the famous samba, and the life of the beach.
Intuition is seen at the eastern point of the compass. From the East have emerged the great ‘intuitive’ religions of the World — Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism — in which an intuitive understanding of reality is valued more highly than thinking, and the mind is in fact usually perceived as being an obstacle to spiritual development.
At the southern point we find feeling. This is the hardest of the four to talk about as it is the hardest to define. It is easy to assume, when one considers that feeling is contrasted with thinking, that it must be something to do with ‘feelings’, the emotions. This is not what Jung means, however. He says: “Feeling is primarily a process that takes place between the ego and a given content, a process, moreover, that imparts to the content a definite value in the sense of acceptance of rejection (‘like’ or ‘dislike’)… Hence feeling is a kind of judgement, differing from intellectual judgement in that its aim is not to establish conceptual relations but to set up a subjective criterion of acceptance or rejection”³².
Put in these terms, I have to accept that there is no obvious parallel between feeling and the southern part of the world map, Africa. Yet there is another sense which I find meaningful. I have described Northern Europe as the home of thinking, because of its long tradition of philosophy and scholarship. Intellectual achievement, it seems to me, is something that human beings have added on to their basic nature, one of the later developments of the evolutionary process. As far as we can tell no animals are engaged in it nor strive after it; in fact it is one of the most significant differences between us and them. We can therefore assume that it was in no way a feature of human lives in earlier stages of our evolution. Africa is believed to be the place where human life began, therefore the place where we were very close to nature, driven by our instincts. Even though there are examples of tribes from the Amazon Jungle, the Aborigines and Maoris in the Antipodes, and others in Indonesia, Africa is usually seen as the primary example of an area where there were many primitive tribes. (It is interesting that all of these are Southern Hemisphere, however.) These peoples seemed to have access to powers that we ‘civilised’ people would find hard to understand or replicate, in relation to healing, tracking and hunting³³. They also seem to have an instinctive understanding of the psyche and its needs, as can be seen by the importance attached to rituals, and to initiation ceremonies³⁴.
So there is a sense in which Africa represents the opposite of Europe. I think that it is obvious to say that the more intellectual, the more ‘up in one’s head’ one becomes, the more remote is the possibility of remaining in touch with this ‘primitive’ level of the psyche, of living by instinct. So I am going to use ‘feeling’ to mean this state of primitive relationship between consciousness and psyche, in that it is irrational and non-intellectual. In his writings Jung was very fond of the word ‘chthonic’ which means ‘related to the earth, or to the Underworld’, so that it describes perfectly this state of unconscious closeness with nature. As an example, I can cite one of my own dreams which expresses perfectly the themes I have just been describing:
“It is night in a wooded area, at the bottom of a railway embankment. Something indefinable flies down from the top right hand corner of the scene. A voice shouts out ‘Oh no, a train!’ I then realize that what I saw was the back half of a horse which had obviously been split in two by the passing train. It is now lying motionless next to a tree. I look for the rider, expecting to see half his body, but cannot see him.
I see a negro, lying in some mud — he may have been the back half of the horse transformed. He seems dead, but stirs to life.
I and he are sitting on a bench talking. I am reading ‘L’Etre et le Néant’, a somewhat tatty copy. We seem to be getting on well…” (The dream continues)
To give a full interpretation of the first part would require too much space here, and is not relevant to the argument; I have included it purely to put what follows in context. The second part uses North European philosophy to portray my over-intellectual attitude of the time; Sartre’s Being and Nothingness is a difficult product of a pathologically sharp and over-analytic mind, and was a book that I had read and previously revered. The dream suggests that this attitude is outdated — the book is “a somewhat tatty copy” — and shows, rising out of the mud, a therefore truly chthonic figure, an African negro representing the opposite attitude. We then sit on a bench together, and get on well, clearly showing what element I most needed in my own healing process.
It is my hypothesis therefore that Africa, the southern continent on the world map, symbolises a chthonic, non-intellectual level of the psyche, and that this is a reasonable interpretation of ‘feeling’ in the context of the four functions. When I say that, some further ideas immediately occur to me. Firstly in the so-called ‘primitive’ tribes, ritual dancing and drumming ceremonies are very important, in which intense levels of group emotion are generated. The northern attitude is often described as cold (including being sexually restrained etc.), so it is easy to see that the African attitude represents heat or passion, a high value being placed on the emotional content. So it is interesting to note that between Northern Europe and black Africa, there are areas which seem to represent some kind of overlapping, or synthesis, of the two attitudes, over and above the blending of skin colour. In Southern Europe we have the Latin people, who are reputed to be more ‘hot-blooded’ and ‘passionate’ than their Northern neighbours; they especially have the reputation for being better lovers. Their culture is closer to that of the chthonic African than ours. I am thinking especially of Italy, which has a long tradition of scholarship and education, but which nevertheless includes the Renaissance, a period when ancient mystical ideas were revived and flourished. We can also note that the dominant religion, Catholicism, is a more ‘feeling’ orientated religion, including more mysterious and ‘magical’ elements, compared with the more intellectual Protestantism, which was born in Germany, one of the great centres of the North European intellectual and philosophical tradition. In North Africa (and the Middle East), where the skin-colour also seems to be some kind of synthesis of black and white, the dominant religion, Islam, seems closer to the Protestantism of Northern Europe. They are both monotheistic, with a strong emphasis on moral behaviour, the role of worship, and a tendency to be suspicious of spiritual experience, and anything mysterious. This would seem to be in agreement with the Taoist symbol shown above, in which each tendency contains its opposite, as some kind of counterbalance to the dominant one.
The implication of this idea, namely that each tendency, especially when it has reached its extreme manifestation, transforms itself into its opposite, has also been revealed in recent events in history. For many years, every time I saw or thought about the map of Africa, I was immediately reminded of the T’ai-ch’i-tu. This symbol is normally presented as above, but there is no obvious reason why it could not also be shown thus:
Here, contained within a mass of black, is a white spot, exactly the condition of Africa before the recent transformation of South Africa. At the uttermost tip of the ‘feeling’ continent was a tiny reservoir of North European rational Protestantism, which went to extraordinary lengths to separate and protect itself from its opposite, which it considered to be an ‘inferior’ form of humanity. (Compare Jung’s use of the term ‘inferior function’ in relation to his map of the personality.) Eventually, however, the extreme tendency could not sustain itself, and the country transformed itself into its opposite, with black rule³⁵.
The final question that needs to be addressed is whether or not there is a planetary individuation process. Astrology of course assumes that there is one, revealing itself through the progression through various ‘ages’, for example Pisces, Aquarius etc. It is very hard for an individual human to acquire the necessary detached viewpoint to assess the validity of this idea. I suggest, however, that if the phenomena I have just been describing do exist, then they are examples of unconscious processes in the hypothetical planetary psyche, and therefore that they point to the existence of an individuation process. Even Marxism, which is atheistic and which one might therefore expect to believe in the random, accidental nature of the universe, on the contrary believes that there are meaningful patterns in the evolutionary process, as expressed in the concept dialectical materialism, the end product of which will be the triumph of the proletariat — the achievement of its ‘destiny’, a strange concept for atheists.
Do other planets have personality?
So it is possible that the Earth is alive, is in the process of developing some rudimentary self-reflecting consciousness, and possesses something akin to personality. In other words it is like a human being but on a bigger scale. We now have to consider whether or not this is true of the other planets. One can accustom oneself to the idea that the Earth may have personality, strange though the idea may at first seem, because there is so much life here. The other planets, however, (including the moon and sun in line with astrological thinking), seem completely devoid of any life at the level of thinking beings, and most appear actually dead, in that they have no atmosphere and are therefore seemingly unchanging. Are these accurate perceptions?
If the Earth is a living being, and the universe is a living being, then it is likely that the solar system is too, in which case the component parts would have to be seen as also alive. At the very least they are living in the sense that all matter seems alive, as suggested by quantum physics. In a human being, who no one would deny is alive, there are parts which are as good as dead — toe-nails, teeth and bones — but which seem to acquire some semblance of life through being integrated into this living being — nails grow, for example. Perhaps in the same way there are apparently inanimate parts of the solar system, namely other planets³⁶.
This is an appropriate point to introduce the work of another astrologer, The Anatomy of Fate by Z’ev Ben Shimon Halevi³⁷. This will lead to a consideration of the second idea mentioned above, that of inner planets. Before I go on to discuss his most important ideas, however, I will round off my last point by mentioning Halevi’s thinking about the solar system as a living organism. He certainly does not sit on the fence:
- “Taking a step back into deep space we may perhaps glimpse the solar system as a complete organism if we can break our normal Earth-orientated standpoint… Seen from our deep space position it would appear, in the galactic time scale, to be like a kind of cosmic firefly with the planets weaving a series of orbital sheaths round the glowing spine of the Sun as it moves towards the star Vega” (p52).
- “The notion of the solar system being a living entity in its own right is not so strange as it appears at first sight when we consider the bacteria within our bodies and how we are the equivalent bacteria to the Earth” (p53).
- He also talks of “the ancient visionaries who saw themselves as existing inside the body of the solar system much as the cells live within the body of a man. Indeed the analogue was taken yet further with the Sun seen as the heart and the planets viewed as the organs of the body of the solar system. The Earth for instance was considered as a most delicate planetary organ governing the health of the solar system, rather like the human skin that is continually being born and dying as it serves our physical organism ‘ (p52) (38).
By now we are familiar with the idea of the small region of space-time enfolding the larger; this manifests itself in physical organisms in the tendency for similar processes to be replicated at the different levels. So it seems to be at the psychological level. Each individual human contains sub-personalities. The planet, as I hope I have shown, seems to have its own version of this phenomenon. If the solar system is also a living organism, then, according to this way of thinking, it should include a principle analogous to that of sub-personalities, which are possibly represented physically by the planets.
We have seen that there is strong evidence that the Earth is an organism (Lovelock), where humanity seems to play the part of the planetary brain, or perhaps nervous system. If we go one stage further the Earth could be seen as the brain or nervous system of the solar system, in that it appears to be its centre of life. This is an idea in accord with a way of ancient thinking, as described in the last quote from Halevi above. There it refers to the physical level, and we are dealing with the psychological. According to Halevi, however, “the solar system is….the physical base of a very subtle cosmic organization” (p52). Thus we seem to be talking about astral levels for planets and the solar system, in the same way that many believe that humans have an astral body. We could extend this principle to the galaxies and the Universe itself.
If all this is true, we can arrive at a completely different explanation as to how the planets influence human personality. Each individual human consciousness is a hologram of the Earth’s consciousness, and a hologram of the solar system’s consciousness. The astral levels of the other planets are also included in the solar system’s identity. In some sense then our astral level overlaps with those of the planetary entities, since we are all part of the macrocosm which is the soul of the solar system. All questions about the ‘vast distances’ between us and them therefore become completely meaningless.
This is exactly what Halevi believes. His book considers Astrology from a different perspective to those I have mentioned up to this point, which all stem from a traditional approach. He is from a mystical, or what is sometimes called esoteric, tradition, specifically that of the Qabalah. In simple terms, whereas the other authors begin as astrologers and as a consequence find themselves confronted by metaphysical issues, Halevi uses Astrology as a tool with which to express his esoteric philosophy, a means to an end rather than an end in itself. This enables him to offer this alternative explanation to the key question of how Astrology works. In his preface he states: “Astrologers often describe in great detail the effects of this or that celestial configuration, but rarely define the causes or the mechanism of how they actually influence us. The answers are to be found in the ancient Teachings behind Astrology which add the spiritual dimension and indicate the Divine purpose to the anatomy of fate”,
It is difficult to understand his astrological point of view without background information about his metaphysical system³⁹. Put simply, he believes that in addition to the material universe, there are three other levels of existence, named, in ascending order from the material, the world of Formation, the world of Creation, and the world of Divine Emanation. The lower worlds are the creation of the higher ones.
The world which directly concerns us here is that of ‘Formation’, which is his name for the astral level, which he also calls the Planetary or Subtle World. Another term for this may be what Jungians call the ‘unconscious psyche’. The example which I gave of astral travelling in dreams directly connects the two concepts. This link is very important because in Halevi’s way of thinking, there is an inner (psychological) universe from which the outer (material) one is derived and to which it corresponds. He talks, for example, about an effect which “cannot be seen directly in the macrocosm but can easily be observed in the parallel system in the psychological or interior solar system” (p44)⁴⁰. From the point of view of my investigation this is an essential concept to grasp, even if you find it incredible, because in his view:
“The World of Formation is called the planetary world because it is at this level that the subtle planetary principles operate. They do not work, as many people believe, from the physical motions and positions of the planetary bodies. These are merely the material foci in the fourth and lowest World of Existence” (p33).
That concludes Part I of my book. My purpose so far has been merely to discover ideas and create a world-view that would allow Astrology, not to assess their validity. Halevi’s intriguing belief in an astral universe seems bizarre according to modern thinking, yet it was always likely that an explanation for Astrology would include some bizarre elements. In a sense, however, he is merely making more explicit the ideas that I quoted from other astrologers in chapter 2. They frequently referred to correspondence, without really explaining the full implications of this term.
We are therefore now faced with the following question: if Astrology is true, is it because of outer or inner planets? That will be the major theme of Part II.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. I have written in the past about other topics, including spirituality, metaphysics, psychology, science, Christianity, and politics. All these articles are on Medium, but the simplest way to see a guide to them is to visit my website (click here and here).
1. The Modern Text book of Astrology, L.N. Fowler, 1978, p19
2. Principles of Astrology, Thorsons, 1999. The quote comes from an interesting passage, pp35–36.
3. Collins Fount, 1977, p214 et seq. Experiences of this nature would seem to have been everyday fodder for William Blake, who appeared to be in regular contact with spirits.
4. Mystic Fire Video MYS-76397
5. See, for example, Life After Life, Raymond A. Moody, Bantam, 1976.
6. Moody, p35. I am not aware of a case in which there has been any suggestion that other people, for example the hospital staff, see the floating entity, unlike many cases of ghosts.
7. Described in The Cosmic Blueprint, Paul Davies, Unwin, 1989, p103
8. I mention the story of my ‘encounter’ with the ghost merely because it might be evidence of the second type. I still think, however, that it was an example of the first type, even if to this day I do not completely understand it, and I do not believe that I did in fact meet the ghost in question.
9. From the Omens of Babylon, Arkana, 1994, p81, p185
10. Astrology, Karma and Transformation, CRCS, 1992, p26
11. John Addey reports that: “Plato says in the Laws that we are not looking at ‘lumps of dirt’ but spiritual existences of some sort”. A New Study of Astrology, Urania Trust, 1996, p8.
12. Quoted in The Cosmic Loom, Dennis Elwell, Urania Trust, 1999, p43
13. Quoted in Astrology, Louis MacNeice, Aldus, 1964, p189
14. OUP, 1979, revised 1995
15. OUP, 1989
16. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982
17. New Insights in Modern Astrology, CRCS, 1991, p201
18. This should not be taken as implying criticism of any of the other models, however, which are obviously valid for their own followers, and which may provide other useful examples of the type of ideas I am about to discuss.
19. Compare Dane Rudhyar: “We therefore face the human being through his birth-chart mostly as a psychological entity. He is a particular, unique being. There is no other being exactly like him. Yet we realize also that this unique being is a compound of elements which are found not only in him, but in a multitude of other beings… This unique being is a particular chord, or combination, of collective elements. What is individual therefore is the structural framework within which the collective elements are organized more or less adequately. It is the form of the self”. (The Astrology of Personality, Servire/Wassenaar, 1963, p211)
This approach, however, would not be accepted by all astrologers. For example Dennis Elwell, discussing the fact that people seem to think that the only question that can be asked of the horoscope is “what is the person like?”, says that this is probably the least fruitful of all the questions available to us, and that traits are not the best way to understand nature. Here, however, I am not trying to provide a model acceptable to Astrology, merely trying to establish a way of thinking that would allow it.
20. Compare Luis Alvarado: “The word personality comes from the Greek persona, mask, implying a mask through which sounds something transcendent: the personality is the mask through which the collective unconscious becomes manifest, or sounds through. The mature personality is thus capable of containing the many voices of existence, voices that are archetypal”. (Psychology, Astrology and Western Magic, Llewellyn, 1991, Pxviii)
21. Compare Freud: “The different latent mental processes inferred by us enjoy a high degree of mutual independence, as though they had no connection with one another, and knew nothing of one another”. (On Metapsychology, Penguin, 1991, p172)
22. For further discussion of the Psychosynthesis approach to subpersonalities, see What We May Be, Piero Ferrucci, Turnstone Press, 1982, chapter 4.
23. See, for example, Marie-Louise von Franz in Man and His Symbols, Carl Jung, Picador, 1978. Also Jolande Jacobi, The Way of Individuation, Hodder and Stoughton, 1967.
24. I would express this idea differently. From my perspective the ‘tendency towards civilisation’ is another subpersonality, just as the antisocial one is. The ego itself has no content but, as is often the case, identifies itself with the social sub-personality.
25. Compare Freud: “From the point of view of instinctual control, of morality, it may be said of the id that it is totally non-moral, of the ego that it strives to be moral, and of the super-ego that it can be super-moral and then become as cruel as only the id can be”. (On Metapsychology, p395)
26. I should say in advance that I have never visited a communist country, and what follows is therefore an impression gained from the Western media. It is clearly only an approximate over-simplification, and may be an exaggeration. I hope nevertheless that it is not too much of a caricature.
27. Compare Freud: “How is it that the super-ego manifests itself essentially as a sense of guilt (or rather, as criticism — for the sense of guilt is the perception in the ego answering to this criticism) and moreover develops such extraordinary harshness and severity towards the ego? If we turn to melancholia first, we find that the excessively strong super-ego which has obtained a hold upon consciousness rages against the ego with merciless violence, as if it had taken possession of the whole of the sadism available in the person concerned. Following our view of sadism, we should say that the destructive component had entrenched itself in the super-ego and turned against the ego. What is now holding sway in the super-ego is, as it were, a pure culture of the death instinct, and in fact it often enough succeeds in driving the ego into death, if the latter does not fend off its tyrant in time by the change round into mania”. (On Metapsychology, p394).
28. On these two points, compare Ray Billington: “The duality of yin and yang is, then, held to be integral to the universe in all its manifestations, both as a simple matter of fact and as the clue to its unfathomable mysteries”, and “each extreme returns eternally to the other: neither can be without the other, since wholeness is contained in duality: the one is in fact two”. (Understanding Eastern Philosophy, Routledge, 1997, p108)
29. Issue April 22nd 2000, p33
30. Man and His Symbols, Picador, 1978, pp 73–74
31. Freud and Psychoanalysis have been included in a list of areas that could “open the door” to the occult in More Understanding the New Age, Roy Livesey, New Wine, 1990.
32. Psychological Types, Princeton University Press, 1971, paras. 724 and 725
33. At this level the type of person I am talking about is depicted in a modern context by the character Crocodile Dundee, who, although he is white, has learned through experience about this way of life.
34. I hope that I am not mistakenly saying that the understanding was instinctive rather than intellectual. I am basing this opinion on Jung, who travelled to Africa in order to study these tribes. He was very fond of pointing out that they were capable of performing religious rituals without being able to explain what they were doing or why.
35. Thinking in this way can help to give some psychological insight into the nature of racism. The South African whites projected onto the outer negros their own negros, the inner figures who could redeem their chronic one-sidedness, but of whom they were terrified. They would have done well to learn from Edward Edinger: “Modern man urgently needs to re-establish meaningful contact with the primitive layer of the psyche... I mean… the primitive mode of experience that sees life as an organic whole. In dreams the image of an animal, a primitive, or a child is commonly a symbolic expression for the source of help or healing” — just as it was in my dream. None of this means, of course, that in the modern day actual black people are ‘primitive’, the dream symbolism is referring to a distant era. Unfortunately many people are incapable of separating the two. (Ego and Archetype, Shambhala, 1972, p100)
36. Compare Ingrid Lund: “Is it fantastic to conceive of God, or at any rate of the Solar Logos, as embodying His universe, with the Sun at his heart and the planets, including Earth, as vital organs of His being?” Quoted in Astrology, Louis MacNeice, Aldus, 1964, p224
37. Penguin, 1995
38. Compare Dane Rudhyar:
- “As the Bible and all occult books say, men are cells in the body of the Lord”.
- “The signs of the zodiac represent anatomical divisions of the Earth-body. However, it is not the material planet which is to be considered, but the planet as a field of relationships…”
- “The whole solar system, seen as a complex life-organism, becomes a cosmic personality”. (The Astrology of Personality, Servire/Wassenaar, 1963, p244, p298)
39. In order not to overcomplicate this text, I am going to restrict my explanation to that relevant for an understanding of the current argument, which I accept does not do justice to his subject matter. Interested readers should refer to the original or other Qabalistic texts. Halevi has also written a brief explanation of the Qabalah called The Tree of Life, Gateway Books, 1997. See also Principles of the Qabalah by Amber Jayanti, Thorsons, 1999, and The Elements of the Qabalah by Will Parfitt, Element Books, 1997.
40. Compare also: “What is called Brahman, that is what this space outside a man is; and what that space outside a man is, that is what this space within a man is; and what that space within a man is, that is what this space within the heart is”. (Chandogya Upanishad in Hindu Scriptures, Dominic Goodall [ed.], Phoenix, 1996, p112).