Astrology, Psychology, and Psi
Humans are members of the animal kingdom, but as a sub-group within that larger group, they continue to seek clear criteria with which to differentiate themselves. The most popular definition for years was the “tool-making animal,” but apes have been observed making and using tools under natural conditions in Africa. We tend to credit ourselves with being the only possessors of self-consciousness, but this capacity has also been demonstrated by apes in at least rudimentary form. In recent years, apes and even parrots have been taught to handle sizable vocabularies, apparently with genuine understanding, so our claim to uniqueness through language has been challenged. It may be that our “mental tools,” our conceptual models of life and the world, are just an elaboration of the ape’s capacity for self- awareness and mental manipulations, but I think they are probably our most defining feature.
Our sciences are mental creations, theories, models of nature, developed and tested through the efforts of many individuals. Astrology and psychology are primarily collections of models which define and describe human nature and life. And they are similar not only in their subject matter, but in their controversies. Both are plural, composed of wildly different and competing models and theories. Ask a staunch Behaviorist or devotee of Operant Conditioning what he thinks of Carl Jung and vice versa. Ask a Siderealist what he thinks of Tropical Astrology and vice versa. And be prepared to duck. Any subject which deals with humans is confronted by a complexity which is quite possibly beyond our comprehension. Ask a practitioner of Homeopathy what he thinks of Allopathy and vice versa. Ask an economist from the Keynesian school what he thinks of Supply-Side theories and vice versa. The defining criteria of humanness are our passion, really our obsession, for self-understanding, our search for meaning, and our capacity to assign different meanings to the same targets.
I recently read a book about the use of music for healing; physical, psychological, and/or spiritual. I was struck by one of the chapters which was written by a Catholic Priest who felt that he had to apologize for the “primitive” beliefs expressed in the description of creation in Genesis in the Bible. As he phrased it, the Bible describes the nature of God (and the humans which He made in His image) as composed of knowing and loving. The author accepts the current Big Bang theory of physics. If we equate the word “love” with “desire for the increased manifestation of the infinite potentials of the Absolute,” and we equate knowledge with information/meaning, I think that those early philosophers were more accurate than today’s materialistic physicists. (Many philosophical and/or psychological theorists add “will” to love and knowledge as the primary forces in the cosmos, but I think that what we call “will” is just sustained or long-range desire.) Psychic phenomena blow materialism out of the water! I think that ultimate reality is consciousness which is composed of desire and information, though most forms of consciousness in this world are not “self-conscious.” Scientists have been forced to accept that information is “real” yet they are still looking for the “ultimate constituent of reality” in smaller and smaller “particles” of physical matter-energy. They still think that consciousness is an “epiphenomenon” somehow produced by physical matter-energy.
Of course, we can’t “prove” our theories about the Absolute. When we define anything, we limit it, so it is no longer the Whole. But all of our actions are shaped by our beliefs, whether we are conscious of them or are on automatic pilot. When our habits, whether developed in this life or brought in from the past, are in harmony with the desire of the Whole, we flow relatively effortlessly in life. We are connected, in synch. Our needs are met and we help others to meet their needs. When our habits bring serious pain, it is a warning signal to analyze what in us permitted those results. It is an invitation to greater self-awareness, to modification of some habits, to growth. I believe that we come here to grow, to become a consciously participating part of the increasing manifestation of the Infinite Potentials of the Whole.
Both psychology and astrology include models of life with parallel theories. Behaviorism and Operant Conditioning describe humans as little different than the rats and pigeons used in their experiments. Animals (including humans) are considered to be blank slates at birth without any potential for inner awareness or inner control. All the power is believed to be outside the individual. If the early upbringing of humans or animals leaves them defective, they have to be manipulated by outside “experts” to train them to be more functional. This doesn’t even work very well with rats. Some of them can be quite stubborn about being conditioned into changing their habits. Behaviorism and Operant Conditioning have no personality models since they consider that either there is nothing important inside except animal instincts, or if there is anything more, it is unknowable. Obviously, they cannot conceive of a spiritual dimension in life. Sociobiology offers a more recent variation of this belief that humans are “nothing but” animals.
Most other schools of psychology have a preferred model of personality which can be defined as general, characteristic, enduring, integrated and functional properties of individuals. One of the most well-known personality theories comes from Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Like the Behaviorists, he also put much of the power outside. He conceptualized individuals at birth as a bundle of unconscious instincts and drives which were inevitably at war with the society. The “Id” represented our personal needs and desires. The “Superego” was the usually repressive, destructive will of society which was imposed on the individual and internalized as (usually unjustified) guilt. The Ego was the intellect which we create to try to mediate between the childish, emotional, unreasonable Id and the demands of society.
Adler, Jung, and Assagioli were psychiatric contemporaries of Freud who conceptualized personality systems which were much broader than Freud, with room for positive relationships between humans and society without the inevitable self-sacrifice of the individual implied in Freud’s conceptualizations. Jung and Assagioli also included the potential for spiritual aspirations and Adler emphasized that humans were pulled by their goals even more than they were pushed by their past, the main inner force for Freud. The so-called Neo-Freudians who modified his theories and added their own individual concepts included Horney, Fromm, Sullivan, Rapaport, and Erikson among others. Other modern offshoots of Freud include Fritz Perls (Gestalt), Eric Berne (TA), and Arthur Janov (Primal Scream). But at this point, I just want to outline some of the major approaches of psychology as it sought to understand human nature.
Parallel in time to the development of the analytic schools of psychiatry and early behaviorism, a number of personality theorists described people as collections of “traits.” Like Freud, the trait theorists suggested that people were primarily biologically determined, that is they were born with their basic natures. Early leaders who formulated lists of traits include Henry Murray and Gordon Allport. An offshoot school more recently developed the technique of factor analysis with computers to organize collections of traits into sets. Leaders include Raymond Cattell and Hans Eysenck. Sets of traits were sometimes grouped to form personality typologies.
Simultaneously, as Skinner’s fame and power in psychology was growing, his denial of any sort of freedom or dignity to humans helped to stimulate a protest movement which developed into the cognitive school of psychology. Their ideas were, of course, not totally new. The first “psychologists” who separated from philosophy in the late 1800s to define their study as a unique subject included men whose primary concern was with cognitive functions. The main addition to the current scene by the “new” cognitive theorists was the recognition that humans had intellects as well as instinctual desires. Leaders in the field included Lewin, Heider, Rogers, Ellis, Kelly, Frankel, etc., each with his own distinctive slant. Cognitive psychology has been growing in importance as operant conditioning has begun slowly declining following the death of Skinner. It recognizes the importance of our beliefs and acknowledges some capacity for inner-directed change. It is thus a more complete picture of humans, crediting them with the capacity for both desire and information, with personal drives, social interests, and (for some but not all of the cognitive theorists) higher aspirations.
A number of mostly modern theorists seem to be formulating a “transactional” system which divides the power more evenly between the individual and the group though all schools of psychology have to acknowledge that we start with some kind of inner drives which have to be meshed with some kind of outer pressures. Modern transactionalists include Walter Mischel and Albert Bandura but Gardner Murphy could be considered an early spokesman along with Silvan Tomkins and Robert Hogan, each with their own unique variations. The general tendency in psychology has been for university psychology departments to be dominated by experimental psychologists and Skinnerians seeking to be recognized as “scientific,” while clinicians who actually worked as counselors with clients tended toward the cognitive and humanistic theories about human nature.
Even in this very brief overview of psychology, it is obvious that many personality systems, many models have been formulated over the last century. It is also obvious that they promote different theories about human nature. Astrology would seem, at first glance, to be less divided. We do use the same Sun, Moon and planets though some schools accept only the five visible planets plus the nodes of the Moon while other schools accept Uranus, Neptune and Pluto but reject the lunar nodes, and others (including me) are willing to add hundreds of asteroids to the picture. As far as I’m concerned, adding genuine astronomical factors (not hypotheticals) is like moving from a five cylinder car to one with hundreds of cylinders. You have more power!
But astrology has the same split as psychology between the theorists who put most or all of the power outside the individual and those who think that at least some of it is inside and that potentially we have some capacity to direct it. Many if not most astrologers still write and talk about the “influences” of the planets. They still look for materialistic forces, some kind of vibration or radiation, which is credited with making individual character and with making things happen to individuals. They are really not too unlike the Behaviorists or Skinnerians in seeing humans as pawns being pushed around by outside forces which are beyond their control. Hindu astrology can only offer lists of “good” days for taking action, “bad” days when the person should avoid action, prayers to the gods for protection against the “evil” planets, or gems to wear which supposedly might shield the individual against the “evil” vibrations.
Astrologers who accept some form of preexistence during which we created our own character and who believe that we are born when and where we “fit” the state of the cosmos, acknowledge the role of the individual. But even these theorists may put all the power in the past. They may confront current suffering with the attitude that it is their “karma” from the past and can’t be changed by current actions. EVEN IF WE CAN’T CHANGE THE DETAILS OF WHAT IS HAPPENING, WE CAN CHANGE OUR ATTITUDES AND THAT CHANGES OUR EXPERIENCE. My own belief is that the past only explains how we developed our current habit patterns; that our current consequences are related to our current habits; that if we change our habits (which are mostly unconscious) we will change our karma, the consequences in our lives.
When astrology is used only to try to predict details, whether of character or of events, it is rarely helpful and can be destructive if it leads the person to think that no other details are possible. If astrology helps us to understand the psychological principles of our nature, the drives or desires which are directing our actions, we can often produce better details in our lives. We can see how to satisfy our desires in more effective ways. Of course, if we are in harmony with ourselves and our world, if we are growing naturally and easily without undue suffering, this tells us that our habits are basically constructive, that we are connected to and being guided by the Whole. We can go on “doing what comes naturally.” But major pain in any area of life is a message that something is awry. We may have repressed a legitimate personal desire and a body symptom provides information about the blocked emotion. We may have focused too much on our individuality and feel disconnected from the Whole. Astrology as a system of psychological principles can clarify the issues and point the way to their resolution. Change, integration, may still be difficult, but understanding the issues is a major step toward accomplishing it.
The primary difference between the many psychological models of personality and the astrological models is that astrology has an “external referent.” All of the psychological models as well as most of the “occult” models such as the I Ching, the Tarot, the Kabalah, and the Seven Rays are totally circular. They are made up by humans (with or without psychic inspiration) and then humans are inserted into the system. ASTROLOGY HAS AN EXTERNAL REFERENT—THE SKY AT THE MOMENT OF BIRTH. Astrology was discovered, not invented, and we are constantly improving our understanding of life by watching the patterns in the sky and comparing them with the correlated activities on earth. Eventually, the less effective theoretical correlations will be discarded if we continue to analyze our theories, to test them against life. The only other personality system which has a true external referent is palmistry. The lines in the hands can be analyzed and compared with the individual’s demonstrated characteristics. Numerology has a partial referent in an individual’s name and date of birth, but human calendars and names are human creations so the system is partly circular.
Of course, in the final analysis, astrology also gives much more than any other personality system. It is more sophisticated, more complex, more complete, than any model invented by human minds. It describes our basic character at birth and our stages of development through life, including the issues to be faced at any given time in our growth. It does not give us the details of the life since they depend on our level of self-awareness and our capacity for maintaining an inner connection with the Whole. The same astrological patterns can be manifested in very different life details. If we are stuck in habit patterns which are producing painful consequences, we may need encouragement or help to make the necessary changes. But once we develop some capacity for self-direction, when we understand the drives which are driving us, the conflicts which need to be integrated, our possible areas of excess or deficiency, our possible talents waiting to be further developed, we can consciously facilitate our own growth and consciously cooperate with, participate in the growth goals of the Infinite Potential.
I am not suggesting that we avoid other models of life. Some of them can be quite useful and that is all we can expect from any model. I just think that astrology is vastly superior to any other system that I have seen.
I’m sure that, like me, many of our readers have investigated other occult systems. Some probably share my interest in the claims of psychics who describe what they believe to be experiences on different levels of consciousness. The descriptions of the next level, usually called the astral level, vary enormously, but that is not surprising. If a visitor from outer space returned to his home to describe earth, a scene from the Amazon jungle would differ from lower Manhattan and from an Eskimo camp in northern Alaska. There is general agreement among most of the psychics whose accounts I have read that on the astral level our thoughts or desires produce immediate, visible consequences. The “heaven” of hunting and gathering peoples is described as a “happy hunting ground” where game animals are plentiful so all needs are met without effort. Muslim males are assured by “prophets” who claim to have been there that their heaven will provide them with all of the beautiful and submissive women they could desire. Fundamentalist Christians have reported “seeing” groups of happy, hymn singing members of their chosen sect in heaven and also “seeing” unbelievers being tormented by the devil in Hell. Theosophists “see” a series of “bodies;” etheric, astral, mental, causal, Buddhic, etc. Psychics “see” energy centers called chakras in the body. The problem is, different psychics “see” them with different colors, whirling in different directions, with different numbers of “petals,” etc.
If our beliefs create corresponding results on the astral level, how can we know which of these experiences are self- created or produced by a small like-minded group? The astral level sounds like the ultimate circular creation. Where would we look for an external referent? If the only feedback we get on the astral level is a reinforcement of our existing beliefs, is it possible to stay in that situation for eons? My theory is that the astral is almost entirely what we describe as the emotional elements—fire and water; that we come into this earth form of consciousness to develop our potential for earth and air, the capacity for increased objectivity. I do not think that total objectivity is possible, but maintaining a physical body and developing a cognitive intellect do move us out of what I think is for many people total subjectivity on the astral level. An interesting communication received by a medium was said to be from a deceased psychic researcher who had promised to “report back” from the next level after he died in this one. The gist of the message was that it was much more difficult to communicate rational, objective information than the researcher had anticipated. He described his experience without a body as similar to trying to function in a dream.
I suspect that most of what psychics are predicting for the near future on earth are scenarios which they themselves are creating on the malleable astral level and they can’t tell the difference between the astral scenes and the future of the physical earth. I think that is how and where Atlantis was created, building on Plato’s original myth which was his version of world-wide myths about floods. As Santillana and Von Dorchend suggest, (see page 42 in this issue of The Mutable Dilemma) I think these myths referred to the Precession of the Equinoxes when the constellation of the former Age where an important cardinal point was located appeared to sink into the ocean and a new constellation rose to take its place. The cardinal points were crucial in ancient astrology, marking the points where the relative lengths of day and night shifted. Periodically, the old age ended and a new one was born and the hero (Gilgamesh, Hercules, etc.) had to go down to the bottom of the sea to get the new measure from the old King. Out of this ancient tradition, modern psychics have created astral (imaginary on the physical level) polar shifts and major parts of whole continents rising and sinking. As more and more psychics tune in to the astral creations, they add their thought forms to the scenarios to further elaborate and strengthen them. This expanding chorus impresses the gullible but it does not make it any more likely that any of the scenarios will ever be enacted on the physical level.
At least while we stay on the physical level, we can test the theories and predictions. That is the great bonus of astrology—it can be tested to a degree that few other theories permit. William James said “It only takes one white crow to prove that not all crows are black.” It doesn’t take much effort to test the simplistic details offered in traditional astrology. The work of the Gauquelins demonstrated that twelfth house planets often marked famous and highly successful people, demolishing the old idea that they had to be negative. Test what you read and hear in astrology!
The current psychic predictions of disaster are already failing their test. Edgar Cayce said that the big earth changes would begin in 1967. We are still waiting. The recent book on new interpretations of Nostradamus which I have mentioned repeatedly in the past has already failed the test of earth reality. Prince Charles was not crowned King of England in May 1992 and San Diego did not sink into the ocean in May 1993. An American psychic, Scallion, also predicted a major earthquake in southern California in early May 1993. It was supposed to open a huge crack to begin the process of the west coast of the U.S.A. going down, to be followed by land all the way into the Rocky Mountains. The latest prediction which I have received from my friend, Bodo, who keeps me informed in this area, was made by a woman psychic in Montana. She claims that St. Germaine and Hilarion are providing information to her. (They are two of the “masters” of Theosophy who are increasingly popular as sources for psychic channelers). On June 18, 1993, Sharline Martin says that she was psychically “told” that July 27, 1993 would begin the “reign of terror” in southern California. She may have flunked the reality test by the time you get this very late issue of The Mutable Dilemma.
Test what psychics predict against astrology! If we were really going to have widespread catastrophe, it should be indicated in the horoscopes of everyone living in the targeted areas! I do not see anything like that! I do see continued economic pressures and the potential for human tensions over race, religion, ethnic cultures, etc. In light of the conflict patterns in the May 21, 1993 eclipse when calculated for southern California, I wrote previously that a quake this summer was a real possibility—most likely east of L.A. like the rest we have been having during the last six years. So far, all is calm, and the stress may be limited to the aftermath of the Denny trial which has started and the continuing financial anguish. As I have reported before, some scientists have predicted weather extremes during this decade due to the recent reverse movement of the Sun and the Barycenter (the center of mass in the solar system). Other than the Medjugori warnings which were accurate for the tragedy coming to Yugoslavia, the only accurate psychic predictions that I have seen have involved the freaky weather.
Also, test the psychic predictions against the past. The theory of tectonic plates does suggest that continental plates continually push against each other. One may be pushed under the other or they may grind sideways against each other (as in California and Turkey) with consequent earthquakes. But the fastest moving plate today is the Australian one with India on its prow pushing up the Himalayas and its movement is approximately two inches a year. The largest known past earthquakes have raised or lowered the ground level up to 20 or 30 feet. To talk of lowering the Rockies in a period of five years to bring the Pacific Ocean to Boulder, CO is astral fantasy.
I’m sure that what we know is nothing compared to what we don’t know, but I think this physical level offers us a chance to learn more in a way that can’t be duplicated on the more subjective astral level. Watch your feedback from life. It is your report card letting you know how you are doing. I am convinced that the Whole includes infinitely more than the physical and astral levels, and sooner or later, we are all seeking to become conscious participants in that unimaginable Whole.