Can We Take Astrology Seriously? — Mapping Light Years of Inner Space
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 These were previously an unpublished book I wrote some time ago, Homage to Patric Walker.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 5, which follows the Introduction, part 1 and part 2, chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, and chapter 4.
It seems to me that there are three major stumbling blocks when it comes to trying to persuade people that the popular understanding of Astrology — which is essentially the same as the scientific one — might be true:
1) the large distances involved between the heavenly bodies which make it difficult to imagine any effect on humans
2) the necessary interconnection and interaction between consciousness and inanimate matter
3) the symbolic nature of this interaction¹
If we could deal with these three points adequately, then I think we would have to concede that Astrology is at least possibly true. My approach will therefore be to try to construct a world-view in which these points would be satisfactorily addressed.
Does distance matter?
Even if they seem vast from our viewpoint, the distances involved are actually not all that great in cosmic terms; they are, in fact, fairly localized. Yet distance is only a problem if one assumes that any effect is material; only then would distance diminish it. However, as I pointed out earlier, to date no one has come up with any satisfactory evidence for a causal relationship between the planets and human personality. If, as many astrologers claim, the true nature of Astrology is correspondence, something can correspond to something else at any distance. The question would then change to, what is it that is making the two things correspond? We are dealing here with a psychological/psychic factor. Do such effects diminish with distance? It is generally, although not universally, believed in the world of psi research that they do not. For example, J.B. Rhine says: “It is characteristic that such experiences bear no relation to space. Spontaneous para-psychical occurrences of all types — clairvoyant dreams, visions, premonitions, and intuitions — seem to be completely independent of distance. Thought transference is as likely to occur between two people when they are thousands of miles apart as when they are in the same house”². Following a description of an experiment in which a subject scored better in clairvoyance when the distance was increased, Rhine comments: “What is known of the laws of physics governing energy transfer does not apply to these findings’ (p49). After describing some further long-distance experiments, he says: “In comparing results obtained at different zones of distance, ranging from a few miles to several thousand, one gets the clear impression that distance is of no importance in ESP success”, and makes this further observation which gets to the heart of the problem: “The average scientist will not easily accept this ruling-out of distance. He is accustomed to thinking of everything in terms of space and time” (pp 51, 52), an observation which clearly also applies to the scientists who object to Astrology³.
Rhine’s thinking is echoed by the leading Russian psi experimenter L.L. Vasiliev. In his book Experiments in Distant Influence, he notes that the London Society for Psychical Research has recorded numerous cases of spontaneous telepathy where the sender and the percipient were at considerable, sometimes tremendous, distances from one another — for example in England and Australia respectively, and goes on to describe instances of experiments at great distance. Having observed that the results at various longer distances are almost identical with those obtained at short distances , he concludes that “the length of the distance between sender and percipient plays no appreciable part” and, as if wanting to suggest that the effects are non-material, he adds “so far no one has succeeded in discovering any physical indicator or radiation produced by the brain which transmits the telepatheme”⁴.
Does consciousness interact with matter and vice versa?
At a simple level this occurs in the psi phenomena of psychokinesis and psychometry. Rhine did experiments in this area which were centred around attempts to influence the fall of dice by will-power. The general public will perhaps be most familiar with the phenomenon of spoon-bending, whether or not one believes in it, as it has been widely publicised by Uri Geller. There are also examples of spontaneous psychokinetic phenomena, for example a clock or watch stopping at the moment of the owner’s death. Jung gives an example, which is now famous because it is included in his autobiography. He was discussing parapsychology with Freud, who was dismissing it as nonsense. Jung had the feeling that his diaphragm was becoming red-hot: “At that moment there was such a loud report in the bookcase, which stood right next to us, that we both started up in alarm, fearing the thing was going to topple over on us. I said to Freud, ‘There, that is an example of a so-called catalytic exteriorisation phenomenon’ ”⁵.
There is also a widespread theory that what was once called ‘poltergeist’ activity can be accounted for by psychokinesis. Lyall Watson discusses this idea in his book Supernature: “These apparently childish tricks often seem to be associated with an adolescent, usually a girl at the stage of puberty or a teenager in a stage of emotional adjustment… The association of poltergeist activities with a person, rather than a place, is crucial. It suggests that unusual geophysical phenomena… play a less important part than forces of psychological origin”⁶.
Can there be symbolic connections between consciousness and matter?
The concept which most clearly addresses this issue is synchronicity, a term coined by Jung to describe the experience of meaningful coincidences which have no causal connection, and yet which symbolically connect inner states of mind with outer events. As his work on this topic is now widely known, I will refrain from explaining it here⁷.
So is Astrology just ESP + synchronicity?
The concept of synchronicity seems immediately appealing in relation to Astrology, and many astrologers do make reference to it. It dismisses at a stroke the demands of scientists for evidence of causal connections; there aren’t any - synchronicity is according to Jung’s definition acausal⁸. Unfortunately these examples are comparable only in a loose sense to the principle which is assumed to apply in Astrology, for in each case an inner state seems to act as a catalyst for an outer event. This has also usually been true in my experience of synchronicity. However, I have never come across an astrologer asserting that the current map of the solar system is formed in response to the birth of an individual with a certain personality; if anything it would be the other way round. So these examples merely point to the possibility of meaningful interactions between psyche and matter. We need to go further than this if we want to establish a connection between synchronicity as described so far and Astrology.
Yet, because of these common factors, I would like to suggest a provisional hypothesis: whatever is behind astrological effects, if indeed there are any, is of the same general nature as psi and synchronicity. Firstly, as we have just seen, distance has been found not to be a hindrance to ESP, nor does distance slow down the effect. Obviously it has been impossible so far to conduct interplanetary ESP experiments⁹, but there is no reason to assume that the extra distance would be an inhibiting factor. If distance is no problem in psi, why should it be a problem in Astrology? Secondly, synchronistic events show that a symbolic connection between inner states and the outer world is at least possible.
It is reasonable to ask whether synchronicity can actually be considered as a manifestation of psi, since it clearly does not fit easily into any of the usual categories — telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis. However, it does fit into a broad definition of phenomena generated by the psyche which defy the known laws of space and time (paranormal events). If we can be allowed to place Astrology alongside — if not actually inside — this category (psi plus synchronicity), then we already have a lot of evidence in its favour. We do not even need to say ‘independent of time’, which some psi events are, for the very nature of Astrology is to fix in time¹⁰.
In fact it is possible to take the concept of synchronicity further. The suggestion is that there are hidden connections not apparent to ego-consciousness. In his foreward to the I Ching¹¹, a book which obviously attempts something very close to Astrology¹², an outer reading of the inner, psychological situation of the individual, Jung discusses the principle at some length, and here he is much nearer to the idea of correspondence which is normally assumed to be at the root of astrological relationships. I have selected some passages which seem to be especially relevant:
- “The moment under actual observation appears to the ancient Chinese view more of a chance hit than a clearly defined result of concurring causal chain processes. The matter of interest seems to be the configuration formed by chance events in the moment of observation, and not at all the hypothetical reasons that seemingly account for the coincidence. While the Western mind carefully sifts, weighs, selects, classifies, isolates, the Chinese picture of the moment encompasses everything down to the minutest nonsensical detail, because all of the ingredients make up the observed moment” (Pxxiii).
- “There are even astrologers who can tell you, without any previous knowledge of your nativity, what the position of sun and moon was and what zodiacal sign rose above the horizon in the moment of your birth. In the face of such facts, it must be admitted that moments can leave long-lasting traces” (Pxxiv).
- “Whoever invented the I Ching was convinced that the hexagram worked out in a certain moment coincided with the latter in quality no less than in time… The hexagram was understood to be an indicator of the essential situation prevailing in the moment of its origin” (Pxxiv).
- “Synchronicity… a peculiar interdependence of objective events among themselves as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers” (Pxxiv).
Here we have moved on from the idea of a single psychological state provoking an extraordinary outer event, and reached a general correspondence of inner and outer. It is not surprising therefore to find that astrologers are sympathetic to this conception of synchronicity, and express themselves in similar terms:
1) Margaret Hone accepts that it is “not easy to formulate a definition (of Astrology) to suit all”, but comes up with the following: “a unique system of interpretation of the correlation of planetary action in human experience,” commenting that “few will find any disagreement” with it. She goes on to state that “there is a constantly moving relationship between the very large moving objects in (the universe) such as the Sun, Moon and planets, and the small moving objects such as human beings and animals”¹³.
2) In similar vein Cordelia Mansall says: “Since astrology is the study of the mirror image of life upon this Earth with the patterning of the planets in our solar system, all knowledge of human existence is reflected in that mirror”¹⁴.
3) Lindsay River and Sally Gillespie state: “The understanding of astrology has been broadened by Jung’s development of the idea of synchronicity. This concept explains how events which happen at the same time (such as a child’s birth and a particular pattern in the heavens) may be interrelated without one being the cause of the other. The planets do not cause events or determine character by having an effect on human life. Rather they are indicators of the particular energy of each moment”¹⁵.
If we accept the existence of synchronistic events, we then have to consider how the effect is achieved. It has all the appearance of a hidden intelligence which knows the inner world of the person, and which is capable of drawing into the scene other humans, animals, and perhaps inanimate matter, presumably without any of these being consciously aware of the role they are playing. Even more disconcerting is the fact that to some extent it is operating independent of time. In the first of Jung’s examples¹⁶, the disorientated M. de Fortgibu was presumably being drawn to this particular residence before M. Deschamps was offered plum-pudding, and had the thought about the former. Therefore the fact that in the future M. Deschamps was going to be offered plum pudding and have a certain thought was the ostensible ‘cause’ of M. de Fortgibu losing his way in the building, in order that the thought and his arrival might be simultaneous. Thus we are talking of a hidden intelligence that is organising the world — perhaps the universe — in a way that is remote from the conscious awareness of its inhabitants. Could this same hidden intelligence be responsible for connecting the map of the solar system in a symbolically meaningful way with the new-born human personality? And if it is, what implications would this have for our understanding of the universe?
We seem to have been confronted once again by the issue of the distance involved; can synchronicity operate over such distances? To think in such terms, however, is probably missing the point. We are making the assumption that the planetary bodies are in fact separate from us and exist at these enormous distances. Yet synchronicity points to a vast network of hidden interconnections. If everything in the solar system is interconnected, it is possible, even probable, that everything in the universe is interconnected. And if the whole universe is underpinned by the cosmic intelligence that synchronicity suggests, then the problem disappears; distance becomes meaningless, for the alleged separation is illusory. Everything would be part of one giant entity in which there would be no impediment to simultaneous effects.
It is no surprise therefore to discover that many astrologers believe exactly that. The idea is summed up in these words by Charles and Suzi Harvey:
“At the heart of astrology is the concept that all things, from atoms to universes, are part of one another and of one over-arching unity. Part and whole are seen as identical in essence (but not in function), intimately connected and in continual resonance with each other. This cosmo-ecology is seen not only as applying to our Earth within the solar system, but equally to our solar system within our galaxy, around which our sun carries us in about 230 million years. And again beyond the galaxy to the super-galaxies and super-super galaxies,” wheels within wheels”, extending outward to the ultimate oneness of the Infinite One”¹⁷ and ¹⁸.
Perhaps there is some kind of correspondence between inner and outer, but what is corresponding to what?
If we return to the idea of an I Ching consultation, extraordinary though the mechanism is through which the results are obtained, the book is nevertheless merely achieving the purpose for which it is intended, obtaining an answer to a question for an individual, thus revealing the hidden meaning of the moment; there is therefore an obvious connection. Yet the two phrases which I italicised from Jung’s forward - “all of the ingredients make up the observed moment”, and “the hexagram was understood to be an indicator of the essential situation prevailing in the moment of its origin”, could just as easily have come from an astrological textbook relating to birth-charts. If the essential situation of the solar system, or even the cosmos, prevailing in the moment of a birth is an indicator of that individual’s personality, what kind of weird phenomenon are we dealing with?
Put in these terms the idea sounds remarkably like the old mystical idea “as above, so below”, or “the microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm”, the best known expression of which in a religious context is the quotation at the heart of Hinduism from the Chandogya Upanishad, “Tat Twam Asi”: That art thou. The meaning of this statement is that the individual self (Atman) is identical with the Universal/Cosmic Self (Brahma) which in the West we might call God, but which in this context I am going to call the One. This idea is also at the heart of Western spirituality: “Pythagoras, and Plato after him, taught that man is a microcosm, and that in him are contained all the laws applicable to the macrocosm of the universe. This is a fundamental principle of astrology”¹⁹. The goal of the Hindu spiritual quest is to experience this identity of Atman with Brahma, to attain “God-consciousness”. We may note in passing that this idea is the essence of all mystical traditions: the Christian, the Qabalah, Sufism, Jainism, Gnosticism, and also Buddhism if one can overcome the difficulties of terminology. The goal of the spiritual path is for the individual consciousness to (re)unite itself with the Divine, which it already is and always was. This state of being is normally described as one of enlightenment, and by reaching it one attains liberation, or salvation — Nirvana, Moksha, Satori, Union with the Tao etc.²⁰
This sounds very close to the Jungian concept of the Self. Compare these passages from various close associates of Jung:
- “Symbols of the self, the archetype representing the ‘essence of psychic wholeness’, cannot be distinguished from God-symbols”.
- “The archetype of the self is ‘nameless, ineffable’, a hidden X whose concretisations are indistinguishable from God-images”²¹.
- “The aim of the individuation process is a synthesis of all partial aspects of the conscious and unconscious psyche. It seems to point to an ultimately unknowable, transcendent ‘centre’ of the personality, which — paradoxically — is at the same time its periphery — and is of the ‘highest intensity’, possessing an extraordinary power of irradiation. This centre and periphery Jung calls the Self, and he terms it the origin and fulfilment of the ego”²².
- “The organizing centre from which the regulatory effect stems seems to be a sort of ‘nuclear atom’ in our psychic system, (therefore a microcosm)… Jung called this centre the ‘Self’ and described it as the totality of the whole psyche, (therefore the macrocosm)…”²³.
Is this relevant to Astrology? The question I originally asked was: if Astrology is a matter of correspondence, what is corresponding to what? We clearly have a candidate here — the individual self, Atman (which after all is what is portrayed in the birth-chart), corresponds to Brahman, the Self corresponds to The One.
Unfortunately it is not quite as simple as that. The terms Atman and Self, especially when thinking astrologically, suggest consciousness, a psychological content, whereas the solar system and the constellations are material. On the face of it Tat Twam Asi does not equate consciousness with external matter. We would therefore need to take an extra step. Either:
a) the material universe must be seen as a manifestation of the One and can carry the hallmark of its maker or source, or
b) we would have to contemplate something along the lines of Pantheism, “the doctrine that regards God as identical with the material universe or the forces of nature” (Collins Modern English Dictionary).
In either case the Atman and the material universe would both be seen as manifestations of the Divine, and it is clearly possible that they might correspond with each other in some way that we cannot easily put into words. Hinduism does in fact contain a strong pantheistic element. Ray Billington explains: “Brahman literally means ‘vast expanse’, but is commonly translated as ‘the Absolute’. In the earliest Upanishads, the word refers to the primal creative (or procreative) source of the cosmos, the world that is made manifest. In this sense there is little to distinguish Brahman from the Creator God of other religions²⁴. Later, a pantheistic element was introduced, when it was taught that the universe and Brahman were identical: ‘All this is the brahman’, it is stated (Chandogya-Upanishad III.14)”²⁵. Should this be true, there is a definite implication that God is both consciousness and matter²⁶.
If the material universe, which is undeniably in a state of constant flux, is in some sense God, then it follows that, at any given moment, the Divine has a unique material form and pattern which then changes constantly. And if Atman is truly identical with, and is the microcosm of Brahma, then is it not reasonable to say that the astrological horoscope represents a picture of the correspondence between the two — a ‘snapshot of The Divine’ — which is manifested in the personality of one individual born at that moment, who is after all a universe in miniature, and contains the God image within?
How is it that consciousness affects matter?
There is no common agreement about the relationship between these two; widely differing philosophical and psychological positions are held. Yet, in order to make meaningful statements about a possible interaction between them, it is necessary to establish some kind of theoretical understanding.
The troublesome questions are as follows: what, if anything, is responsible for matter, or does it just exist? How does consciousness come into being? Which comes first? In simple terms, the argument is between the schools of materialism, which believes that only matter exists, and idealism which in its extreme form states that matter is an illusion dependent on mind. Since the whole history of philosophy has failed to come up with answers which have gained universal assent, it is unlikely that I shall do so here. As I am making a case for Astrology, I will clearly be trying to suggest a theory which will allow the type of interaction that it suggests. In order to do this I am again going to turn to the psychology of Jung and study the development of the concept of the archetype in his thinking²⁷. The following account is by his follower, Aniela Jaffé. The opening statement shows that Jung tends towards the idealist end of the spectrum:
“The reality that transcends consciousness and appears as the spiritual background of the world is, in psychological terms, the unconscious, …a boundless realm that remains hidden because it is not connected with the ego-consciousness”. Having “analysed fantasies and delusions of the insane and engrossed himself in comparative mythology” Jung understood that “analogous images and myth motifs are to be found at all times and wherever human beings have lived, thought, and acted. From this ‘universal parallelism’ he inferred the presence of typical dispositions in the unconscious that are ingrained in man’s make-up. As unconscious operators they constantly arrange the contents of consciousness everywhere in accordance with their own structural form, thus accounting for the similarity of the imagery. Jung called these inner dispositions or propensities archetypes, and characterised the conscious contents and motifs arranged by them as archetypal.
“The word archetype comes from the Greek; it means the ‘prime imprinter’ … In psychology archetypes represent the patterns of human life, the specificity of man. As they are unconscious quantities, they themselves remain irrepresentable and hidden, but they become indirectly discernible through the arrangements they produce in our consciousness: through the analogous motifs exhibited by psychic images and through typical motifs of action in the primal situations of life — birth, death, love, motherhood, change and transformation, etc. The archetype per se stands like a ‘producer’ behind the archetypal motifs, but only these are accessible to consciousness”²⁸.
She then discusses the development of this idea in Jung’s thinking. One passage to which I would especially like to draw to your attention is the following:
“He dropped these terms (‘inherited pathways’, ‘deposits’) because they implied something that had gradually been built up, a specific content passed on by heredity, whereas he had come to see that archetypes are structural elements inherent in man’s nature from the start. The archetype per se is timeless, it is ‘pure, unvitiated nature’. Its origin is hidden from us and lies beyond the bounds of psychological and scientific knowledge. ‘Whether this psychic structure and its elements, the archetypes, ever “originated” at all is a metaphysical question and therefore unanswerable’. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that they are inherited as irrepresentable dispositions in the unconscious, the timeless constants of human nature. On the other hand, the arrangements they produce (archetypal images and ideas) are formed anew in each individual life as time-conditioned variants of the timeless motif”²⁹.
A discussion then follows about the “archetype as a structuring factor in the psychic realm, and instinct as an organiser of an a priori nature in the biological realm”. This leads on to the section that it is critical to my argument:
“In the course of the years Jung constantly attempted new formulations of the ‘idea’ of the archetype and its projected ‘model’ that would be truer to reality… The final and crucial corrective, advanced in 1946, was the at first sight astonishing assertion that the ‘archetypes… have a nature that cannot with certainty be designated as psychic’. He drew this theoretical conclusion from the fact that the real nature of the archetype as a content of the collective unconscious remains unknowable, that it is a ‘metaphysical’ entity and as such not susceptible of any final or unequivocal definition. From then on he described it as ‘psychoid’, … an adjectival concept expressing the possibility of something being as much psychic as non-psychic… The concept of the psychoid archetype added an altogether new dimension, for the possibility of an archetypal ‘imprinting’ of the physical and inorganic world, and of the cosmos itself, had also to be taken into account. Jung went even further and saw in the psychoid archetype the ‘bridge to matter in general’. The rigorous separation of psyche and world is abolished. In 1951 he wrote: ‘The deeper “layers” of the psyche lose their individual uniqueness as they retreat farther and farther into the darkness. “Lower down”, that is to say as they approach the autonomous functional systems, they become increasingly collective until they are universalised and extinguished in the body’s materiality, i.e. in chemical substances. The body’s carbon is simply carbon. Hence “at bottom” the psyche is simply “world” ’. ” ³⁰
In a nutshell, the suggestion is that there are hidden blueprints, that is to say ideas, called archetypes, which are responsible for creating both the contents of consciousness and matter in the forms that they are³¹. In particular I would like to draw your attention to the phrase that I italicised, an “archetypal ‘imprinting’ of the physical and inorganic world, and of the cosmos itself”. If the archetypes are responsible for creating and shaping the cosmos, the Self being described as the totality of the archetypes — the same Self which is Atman, which is a microcosm of Brahma(n), which is responsible for personality — then the clumsily expressed objection of the sceptic, “How can the planets be causally responsible for personality?” is answered. According to this way of thinking both the planets and the personality are creations of the archetypes. Human personality is not derived from the map of the planets, they are both simultaneous manifestations of the same blueprints. So, not only has one of the major criticisms against Astrology been potentially dispensed with, it has been replaced by a theory which can actually explain it³².
To summarize the preceding section, the metaphysical ideas which lead one to suppose that Astrology might be true are as follows:
1) The cosmos, if not actually itself the One, is a manifestation of it at one level (Pantheism). This implies that the universe is a system, or even an organism, a conscious being, that is also to say a unity.
2) The individual consciousness is a microcosm of the Divine consciousness (Atman = Brahma).
3) At some level, consciousness and matter are not different concepts, but have the same nature. The operation of the archetypes would enable the pattern of the solar system to be a reflection of personality.
I believe that these ideas, together with the concept of synchronicity, would adequately deal with the first two objections I originally mentioned: the problem of distance, and the interrelationship between psyche and matter. It is therefore not surprising to find astrologers expressing themselves in these terms. Charles and Suzi Harvey are especially eloquent on this subject:
- “Astrology views the cosmos as an intelligent and harmonious whole. It sees it as being shaped and unfolded constantly by cyclical processes in which we, as conscious, reflective human beings, can participate. Whether we choose to reflect rationally on these cosmic processes or not, we participate in them intrinsically at every level of our being. This is the astrologer’s world view — that we are each a universe in miniature”.
- “Astrology… is a language, science, art and craft that deals with the ever-changing qualities of time. Astrology studies the paradox that in each moment of space-time there is a point of access to the Eternal. It shows that each moment, such as of our own birth, is a seed containing a specific blueprint for the unfoldment of the infinite potential of one facet of the Great Jewel of Eternity”.
- “Astrology’s noble secret is rooted in the fact that she preserves an ancient understanding of the temporal cosmos as: the flowing image of the Eternal God Thought; a living, intelligent, purposeful entity in which part and whole dance together”³³.
Further to this, here are some quotations which suggest that in the astrological way of thinking the microcosm/macrocosm correspondence extends even further down to the physical level:
The Harveys: “…the ONE expresses itself at each level of creation in very different ways. We see this principle at work in genetics. Hence the possibility of cloning and the re-creation of an entity from a single cell of the original whole… Every cell in an organism contains the instructions for making the whole organism. A blood cell and a skin cell and a hair cell contain identical genetic information, although their actual manifest functions are quite different. At the most basic level, they are each made ‘in the image of the one’, and yet each just gets on with its own job. The ‘wholeness’ of the body needs each cell to do just that”³⁴.
Mayo/Ramsdale: “The creative system of cells extends beyond man to the Sun, planets and distant galaxies. Each cell has its central nucleus, brain, controlling intelligence. The Sun is the heart or nucleus of the solar system. The galactic centre is the nucleus of our galaxy. And so with all stars and galaxies of stars”³⁵.
Cordelia Mansall: “The moment of conception has now been captured on film. In that instance of time, it is possible to see that the fertilized ovum begins to rotate bearing a startling resemblance to the shape of our galaxy”³⁶.
And finally, here is a quotation from the Harveys which states that every material object manifests the Divine consciousness: “The Cosmos itself, and each part of the cosmos including we human beings, is ‘made in the image’ of the ONE, the ‘God Thought’ which thinks creation into existence. In this way, the essential pattern of the ONE is both literally and metaphorically present in every part of Creation, from super-galaxy to solar system, to man, to a cell in the body, to an atom and to the last and least of things”³⁷.
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. In saying this I understand that not all astrologers think in this way, especially regarding point 1. These are, however, the objections that critics frequently come up with.
2. The Reach of the Mind, Pelican, 1954, p46
3. Compare Carl Jung: “The fact that distance has no effect in principle shows that the thing in question cannot be a phenomenon of force or energy… We have no alternative but to assume that distance is psychically variable, and may in certain circumstances be reduced to vanishing point by a psychic condition” (Synchronicity, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972, p24).
4. Wildwood House, 1976, pp 149, 150, 155, 170
5. Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Collins Fount, 1977, pp178–9
6. Book Club Associates, 1974, p151
7. If you would like to read up on it, please see Synchronicity, Carl Jung, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972, and Synchronicity, F. David Peat, Bantam, 1987.
8. We must be careful, however, to make it clear what we mean by that. In Jung’s examples (see footnote 16) we could argue that various psychological factors — the association in M. Deschamps’ mind between plum-pudding and M. de Fortgibu, the mother’s longing to see the photograph, Jung’s client’s dream and her need for a breakthrough in her analysis, the imminent death of the male client — led to, attracted, that is to say ‘caused’ the outer events. So when we say ‘acausal’ we should understand the added qualification, ‘according to all the known laws of causality’.
9. although astronaut Edgar Mitchell attempted during the 1971 Apollo 14 mission to establish contact with four selected subjects on earth. See Arthur Koestler, The Roots of Coincidence, Picador, 1972, p18.
10. Aniela Jaffé, an important associate of Jung, actually makes no distinction between ESP and synchronistic events, including the former as a category of the latter. (See The Myth of Meaning, Penguin,1975, p150 and p33.)
See also Liz Greene: “One thing is becoming increasingly apparent both to psychology and to physics, and that is that in the realm of the unconscious, mind and body aren’t separate things, they’re all mixed up. A psychic image and an event coincide. They are part of the same stuff. Jung calls this synchronicity. It seems to lie behind what we call parapsychological phenomena” (New Insights in Modern Astrology co-authored with Stephen Arroyo, CRCS, 1991, p28).
11. trans. Richard Wilhelm, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968
12. Especially horary astrology, when a horoscope is cast for the moment when a question is asked, and a reading is then given.
13. The Modern Text book of Astrology, L.N. Fowler, 1978, p16
14. Discover Astrology, the Aquarian Press, 1991, p11
15. The Knot of Time, Women’s Press Ltd., 1987, p11, their italics
16. Jung’s examples in his book Synchronicity are: a seemingly trivial repeated connection between the eating of plum-pudding and a certain M. de Fortgibu, the famous example of a scarab beetle which turned up at his window during a consultation with a woman who had dreamt of a scarab beetle and was telling Jung about it at that moment, a woman being reunited with a lost film several years later by complete chance, and flocks of birds landing on a roof at the time of a death of a relative three times.
17. Principles of Astrology, Thorsons, 1999, p28
18. The other astrologers express the same idea in their own way:
- Margaret Hone as footnote 13, p16
- River and Gillespie as footnote 15, p7
- Jeff Mayo and Christine Ramsdale, Teach Yourself Astrology, Hodder Headline, 1996, p2
- Derek and Julia Parker, The New Compleat Astrologer, Mitchell Beazley, 1984, p58,
- Cordelia Mansall, Discover Astrology, the Aquarian Press, 1991, p15.
19. J. A. West and J. G. Toonder, The Case for Astrology, Macdonald & Co., 1970, p64
20. For those readers who may think that their ‘self’, whatever that might be, does not feel much like ‘God’, let me say that the ‘individual self’ in this context does not mean the everyday personality associated with ego-consciousness. In A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism it is defined thus: “From the Rgvedic expression for ‘breath’ or the ‘animating principle’ it developed into the most important Upanisadic notion of ‘inner self’, referring to the innermost essence of man…” (A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism, Karel Werner, Curzon Press, 1994, p37).
Ray Billington says: “The Atman is the essential self, universally acknowledged to be a mystery, in the literal sense of ‘that which is waiting to be unfolded, or revealed’ ”. (Understanding Eastern Philosophy, Routledge, 1997, p33)
21. as footnote 10, p42, p79. See also pp 42–47 and p85.
22. Jolande Jacobi, The Way of Individuation, Hodder and Stoughton, 1967, p49
23. Marie-Louise von Franz in Man and His Symbols, Carl Gustav Jung, Picador, 1978, p161, my insertions. See also p167, and p208 where the Self is described as “the innermost nucleus of the psyche”.
24. There is a difference between Brahman, the ultimate ground of being, and Brahma the Creator ‘God’, thus the source of everything, but, in order to avoid lengthy explanations, I have chosen not to make anything of it here.
25. Understanding Eastern Philosophy, Routledge, 1997, p34
26. In this context it is interesting to note that, on the one hand, the psyche generates images of the Self as a physical, cosmic being: “Just as the Self is not entirely contained in our conscious experience of time (in our space-time dimension), it is also simultaneously omnipresent. Moreover, it appears frequently in a form that hints at a special omnipresence; that is, it manifests itself as a gigantic, symbolic human being who embraces and contains the whole cosmos. When this image turns up in the dreams of an individual, we may hope for a creative solution to his conflict, because now the vital psychic centre is activated (i.e., the whole being is condensed into oneness) in order to overcome the difficulty”. As footnote 22, p211.
On the other hand the Self can be symbolized by inanimate matter; von Franz goes on to say: “In many dreams the nuclear centre, the Self, also appears as a crystal. The mathematically precise arrangement of a crystal evokes in us the intuitive feeling that even in so-called ‘dead’ matter, there is a spiritual ordering principle at work. Thus the crystal often symbolically stands for the union of extreme opposites — of matter and spirit.
“Perhaps crystals and stones are especially apt symbols of the Self because of the ‘just-so-ness’ of their nature… Men have collected stones since the beginning of time and have apparently assumed that certain ones were the containers of the life-force with all its mystery… For while the human being is as different as possible from a stone, yet man’s innermost centre is in a strange and special way akin to it… In this sense the stone symbolizes what is perhaps the simplest and deepest experience — the experience of something eternal that man can have in those moments when he feels immortal and unalterable” (p221).
Or again: “The Self is often symbolized as an animal, representing our instinctive nature and its connectedness with one’s surroundings… This relation of the Self to all surrounding nature and even the cosmos probably comes from the fact that the ‘nuclear atom’ of our psyche is somehow woven into the whole world, both outer and inner. All the higher manifestations of life are somehow tuned to the surrounding space-time continuum” (p220).
27. This subject is extremely complicated, so that I do not propose anything more than enough of a summary to try to make my argument clear, and refer interested readers to relevant texts. If you do not want to trawl through Jung’s Collected Works, see for example Complex, Archetype, Symbol by Jolande Jacobi (Princeton University Press, 1971). Also, there is a selection of Jung’s writings in a section called The Development of the Idea of the Collective Unconscious and of Archetypes in The Essential Jung, Anthony Storr, Fontana, 1986.
28. as footnote 10, pp 14–16
29. pp 17–18
30. pp 22–23. Her quote from Jung is taken from The Psychology of the Child Archetype in The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. Compare Liz Greene: “(The penetration to the deep archetypal figures) seems to be the point where the artificial division of what you consider to be your outer and what you consider to be your inner life breaks down”, and “one thing is becoming increasingly apparent both to psychology and to physics, and that is that in the realm of the unconscious, mind and body aren’t separate things, they’re all mixed up. A psychic image and an event coincide. They are part of the same stuff”. As footnote 10, pp27, 28.
31. Here is one example which conveys the extraordinary implications of this idea. The chemist Kekulé was trying without success to understand the molecular structure of benzene. He then dreamt of a snake with its tail in its mouth, which he interpreted to mean that the structure was a closed carbon ring (see Man and His Symbols, p26). This image is also known as Uroboros, a symbol of the original perfection of the undifferentiated, preconscious state of wholeness before the separation of the ego. So, ‘in the opinion of’ the intelligence which creates dreams, an archetypal image which can explain the nature of the psyche also stands behind the physical structure of matter.
For a discussion of the structure of crystals and other matter in relation to the archetypes see Jaffé, The Myth of Meaning, chapter 4.
32. In suggesting that the archetypes are responsible for astrological effects, I am in no sense claiming originality, since this is the standard understanding among many leading astrologers, for example Liz Greene, Dane Rudhyar, Stephen Arroyo, the Harveys.
33. As footnote 16, pp 27, 1, and 3. The same ideas are expressed by:
- River and Gillespie, as footnote 15, p7
- Mansall, as footnote 14, p20
- Minor White in The Astrologer’s Handbook, Frances Sakoian and Louis Acker, Harper Perennial, 1989, Pvii.
34. as footnote 17, p29
35. Teach Yourself Astrology, Hodder Headline, 1996, p2
36. as footnote 14, p62
37. as footnote 17, p29