What is astrology? Part Two

To read “What is astrology? Part One”, click HERE

Modern-day astrology is very different from the fate-ridden pronouncements of the past. The twentieth century saw big shifts in our understanding of science, history and culture which moved us from the Modernist era of  ‘grand narratives’  describing with confidence and conviction the way we are as humans, to an altogether less certain set of perceptions.

Just as modern science has shown us that there can be no absolute objectivity since the presence of the observer can be shown to influence the outcome of the experiment, so we now live in a Postmodern era where we understand that we are embedded in the unfolding action of the plot of life on Earth. Thus we shape our ‘reality’ even as we are living it – and indeed recognise that there are probably many ‘realities’. Absolute truth is not what it once was!

Astrology, too, has moved with the times although there are still many reputable and respected practitioners who stick closely to traditional methods of interpretation and prediction rooted in antiquity. Knowledge of astrology doesn’t result in harmonious agreement – even if it is to differ! – amongst astrologers. Far from it. In that respect, we are just as riven with conflicts and disagreements as any other human group.

Modern psychology, rooted in the great insights of Freud and then Jung who was basically a mystic, more eclectic and open minded in his knowledge base than Freud, has had considerable impact on how astrology is now taught and practised.

C.G.Jung

C.G.Jung

In antiquity, the planets were seen as gods whose interaction with and action upon humans’ lives determined their fate. Jung’s great contribution to the modernising of astrology in the 20th century was his formulation – from the study of universal myth – of the concept of the collective unconscious, an updating of the ancient idea of the World Soul.

This collective unconscious comprises a group of energy patterns or archetypes, an idea taken from the Greek philosopher Plato, which are present in all cultures across the world and which shape every aspect of human behaviour.

Jung’s view was taken up by the first of the great psychological astrologers Dane Rudhyar in the middle decades of the twentieth century, and further developed by other astrologers, most notably well-known Jungian analyst, astrologer and author Liz Greene whose fusion of mythology, Jungian psychology and astrology further shaped the model known as Psychological Astrology which has become very influential in the thinking of many contemporary astrologers, myself included.

In recent years there have been further exciting steps forward into a synthesis, under the broad category of ‘archetypal cosmology’, which proposes that the great archetypal patterns shaping human behaviour both at the individual and collective level, patterns revealed in the inter-relationship between planetary cycles and earthly life, are  in fact fundamental to the cosmos itself.

These contemporary ideas, put forward by cutting edge scientists such as Brian Swimme, depth psychologists such as Stanislav Grof, and cultural historians such as Richard Tarnas, take us back to the ancient concept of the ‘anima mundi’ or World Soul. Through their work we are being offered a new route: in the words of contemporary writer and astrologer Dr. Keiron Le Grice, toward “…an emerging world view that reunifies psyche and cosmos, spirituality and science, mythology and metaphysics….”

Zodiac

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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3 responses to “What is astrology? Part Two

  1. This isn’t a criticism, or even a cogent observation, because there’s too much I don’t know about all this. But my sense of things, after my years in Africa, is that some differences in culture and world view are so fundamentally different that a synthesis, a grand, overarching explanation for human behavior, just isn’t possible.

    Part of the difficulty may also be an irony. The worldview of many Liberians I knew more closely resembles that of antiquity than of our modern culture. We no longer speak of the gods controlling every aspect of human behavior and worldly events – but some of my friends saw gods everywhere, determining almost mechanistically what was possible.

    If I framed it as a question, I suppose it would be – how does modern astrology deal with cultures that haven’t even made it to pre-modern, let alone post-modern? It’s really an interesting thought.

    Like

  2. Hi Linda
    I really like this question to which I am in the process of framing an answer in my head – but it has been a very busy day and I hope to have time tomorrow to post my answer: be warned, it involves 4%matter, 23%dark matter, and 73%dark energy….

    Like

  3. Pingback: World Soul (anima mundi) | Earthpages.ca

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