THE KHALDEAN: What led you to become involved with astrology?
MRM: I had girlfriends who were into astrology in a casual sense. This was as far back as 1965-66, when Tarot
and I Ching
were more popular than natal astrology. I kept on meeting people who were into astrology . . . especially Gemini women, and they all seemed to fit the Gemini psycho-mental model. By that time I had assimilated enough to have had a fair understanding of sun-sign astrology, and I knew about moon signs and rising signs. I decided to look seriously into astrology during the summer of 1967 in Palo Alto, California, largely because two young women I knew (a Cancerian and a Gemini) used zodiacal language in a sophisticated manner which intrigued me. I recall the Gemini [Ms. Stevie Nicks] said something which caused me to go to East-West Books on El Camino in Menlo Park and purchase an ephemeris, a table of houses and an old-fashioned book. In turn, I told her she had to see Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix perform. That was during the last days of September 1967.
At that time I was much impressed with Aldous Huxley and deeply involved in the psychedelic movement. Although I still held some hope of making it on the music scene as a songwriter and producer, my expectations were diminishing. The Gemini, however, was just starting her musical career and had invited me to go down that path with her, but I wanted to return to NYC . . . and she had enrolled in the local state university and didn't want to disappoint her parents by running off to NYC. Ironically, a few months later she dropped-out of college and her parents moved to another part of the country; and at first things didn't go so well for me back in New York. But both women found places in the music world — the Cancerian later became editor of two rock music magazines, and the Gemini broke through after paying dues for seven years. . . . Sometimes I feel like I'm living in an "alternate universe."
As far as I can recall, the first time I heard something really philosophical said about astrology was a week after I left Palo Alto. It occurred in the gatehouse of the Hitchcock estate outside Millbrook, New York, while Art Kleps (one of the most intelligent "Psychedelians" of the era) and I were discussing synchronicity, a subject for which we both shared a special interest. I forget how astrology came up, but at some point Art mentioned that he was an Aries and that synchronicity was at the heart of astrology.
But I suppose I was predisposed, even programmed, from early childhood, during which I had also been exposed to some basic astrological ideas, some theosophical concepts, and much about esp and reincarnation . . . Back in the mid-60s, I was seeking a modern model of the universe and of the individual which could give meaning to it all
, and to the psychic, telepathic and synchronistic experiences which had shadowed me since early childhood. The few words that have escaped my mouth since this interview started is more than enough to give one an idea of what I mean and how deep it goes. I had been exposed to everything and everybody by then, and no one seemed to have had "it." There was no one in the movement anywhere near the stature of Aldous Huxley, and he had passed away a few years earlier.
You mentioned in your milestone work, A Handbook for the Humanistic Astrologer, that you first learned of Rudhyar when you saw one of his books at the San Francisco Theosophical Library.
That occurred during the following year. I returned to NYC early October 1967, and returned to Berkeley, California for several months during mid-1968. . . . That book, The Lunation Cycle
, was first thing I read on astrology that really made sense. I figured there was something to astrology, but the usual books didn't make much sense. They said things like, "when Scorpios are good they are very good, and when they are bad they are very bad." Well, that sounds like an interesting description, but it doesn't say anything about why it should fit. The old books gave lots of fragments and tidbits. I wanted fundamental principles, so I could see for myself what was behind astrology.
The Lunation Cycle
showed fundamental principles. It made sense because it was based consistently in principles. It showed the principle of cyclicity in astrology, something that had been lost centuries ago. It's ironic that astrological thinking became conditioned by the linear mindset, which has dominated Western thought since 600 BCE. So what struck me most about The Lunation Cycle
was that Rudhyar had restored cyclicity to astrology. On top of that, the cyclic process outlined in the book and forming its foundation was in harmony with authentic theosophy. As I read the book, I found myself anticipating what was coming because I understood the cyclic process according to theosophy. Reading The Lunation Cycle
was a peak-experience. I realized Rudhyar was more than a mere astrologer.
You went on to become a principal associate of Rudhyar and a leader of the humanistic astrology movement. Are you satisfied with the impact humanistic astrology has made upon the astrological world of the 1990s? How has astrology changed since the 1960s?
The entire world has changed since then, for better and for worse. I think the astrological world has always mirrored the social, economic and cultural worlds of the time. In many ways things have come almost full circle.
We have today a lot of interest in proving astrology with the aid of statistics. We had that in the 60s. Predictive astrology is very big just now. We hear much about the search for powerful predictive techniques, but very little about the benefits such techniques would bring, except to enhance and glorify astrology and astrologers. There's nothing new about that either, except perhaps in the rather uniquely aggressive way it is being done today. We had computer services performing astrological calculations back in the early 1970s, now the computers are on our desktops. The humanistic astrology movement has made a very broad and noticeable impact on astrology, yet I think it hasn't made a very deep impression. A lot of people pay lip service to humanistic astrology, but most don't put it into consistent practice. But there has always been problems of superficiality and inconsistency in the astrological community.
What improvements have you seen in the astrological community over the past decades?
On the whole, astrologers write better these days, though the content of newer astrological works seem rather bland and uniform. Astrological literature today appeals to a more intelligent readership than it did before the 1960s, though I think the literature in general is less intelligent that its readership.
The astrological community is younger and better educated. Yet I would like to see more people in their 20s and 30s.
With personal computers and the Web much is possible, but I think humanity has a lot of catching up to do if we are to better use current technology.
Which areas are you especially dissatisfied with?
It's not so much being dissatisfied with certain areas as finding particular situations and developments disturbing and even alarming.
First, let's get it straight, the trouble with astrology today is astrologers. There is a real lack of vision today among astrologers. If the astro-world reflects the world at large, I suppose that is to be expected. There is a real lack of vision all over. It seems we have lost our ability to envision a creative future. We can see this impairment in the media, where the future is almost always depicted in depressingly dismal hues. It is shown by a fascination with suicide and heroin in today's youth culture. In astrology it is shown as the reintroduction of fatalism and prediction into modern astrology.
One could speak of a leadership problem, but even that is a world problem. All of the heavyweight old boy and girls are gone—Rudhyar, Jones, Carter, Hone, et al. Whether we agree with them or not, they stand as paragons of integrity, consistency and intellectual honesty.
But astrology has always had its share of charlatans and unqualified practitioners.
I'm not talking about charlatans and the dilettanti. The problem with astrology today is astrologers.
You have a reputation for being highly critical and aloof. Do you think it's fair of you to at once distance yourself from the astrological community and say things like "the trouble with astrology is astrologers"?
I think merely saying so places me in the arena. I have always liked the saying, "if you're not a part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
Do you see Vedic astrology and the movement to reconstruct ancient astrology, both of which are enjoying a good deal of popularity and publicity these days, as threats to humanistic astrology?
Only to the extent that astrologers do not realize that a particular astrology cannot be validly separated from the era and culture which developed it, and only to the degree their promoters take a dogmatic or threatening stance. And even then the threat isn't to humanistic astrology — but to the mind and integrity of the astrologer who practices such astrologies, and to her clients. You see, we are not concerned with petty, self-involved issues of acceptance, popularity and professional prestige. We are not engaged in the hegemony game. We are not struggling for supremacy and dominance. We merely want people to have the information they need to decide for themselves. We want people to break themselves out of the domination-submission syndrome and to think and act for themselves. Unfortunately, for some reason such goals seem at cross-purpose with the agendas of certain powerful elements within the astrological establishment. As a result, our message is being suppressed, distorted, misrepresented and ridiculed. A lot of people are afraid of the message of authentic humanistic astrology. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you want to make prediction, fatalism and determinism the dominant forces in astrology, then humanistic astrology must be dispatched. Why? Because the humanistic approach is pretty much the only element in the astro-world capable of successfully challenging such attitudes.
Now, Vedic astrology and the current movement to revive ancient Greek astrology are two different things involving two different groups of people. You are correct in saying Vedic astrology is enjoying much popularity in the West. I think much of that has to do with the sterile character of the astrological community over the past decade. Vedic astrology is something different and amusing. And some are always attracted to and fascinated by foreign doctrines supported by the glamour of holiness and ancient authority. But don't get me wrong, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Vedic astrology in the context of the culture which developed it and for those who want it. But the difficulties of importing Vedic astrology into the modern world are the same as those of imposing any ancient astrology upon men and women living on the threshold of the 21st century. Things are becoming troublesome, however, because some want to promote ancient astrologies as holding some sort of absolute, universal value making them more valid and truer than any contemporary astrology can ever be.
I find claims that every significant event in one's life, including the moment and circumstances of death, can be accurately predicted with the aid of certain astrological techniques rather disturbing. The proprietors of ancient revivalism even insist we possess very little, if any, free will and that attempts to exercise it are almost inevitably doomed to failure and disaster. Some plumb to daring new depths and engage in slippery sophistry letting them have it both ways: to speak irresponsibly and to say they didn't.
I am shocked and alarmed by some of the stuff I see in the serious astrological press. I want to read you a "letter to the editor" recently published in the newsletter of an organization dedicated to increasing the acceptability of astrology and furthering the recognition of astrologers in the business and professional world. It exemplifies how power-hungry and self-destructive astrologers can be.
"Go [Project] Hindsight Go," the writer cheers, "and whomever else can come up with purely fatalistic techniques that can get astrology back to its real 'where our art comes from.' Once again, our goal should be to terrorize the masses with our amazing occult powers!"
I suppose the writer thinks talk of that sort will scare the public into accepting astrology and letting astrologers have their way with our lives.
Getting back to Vedic astrology, I have one more thing to add. The chief representatives of Vedic astrology in the West seem to be sincere and scholarly gentlemen. But I think the Vedic community should be careful how it positions itself on the issues of determinism and prediction. There are many finer aspects of Vedic astrology which are being overlooked because so much attention has been placed on its reputed predictive power.
You have brought up a lot of interesting and very sensitive issues which I would like to explore deeper. I have a few prepared questions. May I put them to you?
You may try.
If an asteroid were named after you, what would be its astrological attributes?
Don't be ridiculous. You should read my article on "The Trouble with Asteroids." I'll get around to publishing it on a website one of these years. The chief issue with asteroids in astrology is that they are not natural wholes, but fragments, debris. Unfortunately, in the 1970s this garbage was introduced into astrology without much thought; and typically, a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon.
If you could date any astrologer, past or present, who would it be?
Can't I choose one from the future?
I don't think so. Here's another: Which person from the past would you most like to have as an astrological client?
Marie d'Agoult, H. P. Blavatsky, Sigmund Freud, Frederich Nietzsche, Alexander Scriabin and Mata Hari.
If you could change anything about your chart, what would it be and why?
I would take comet Chiron and all those asteroids out of the print-out so I could see the real planets.
According to your rather infamous reputation, you are one of those people who did more before you were 25 than most do in a lifetime. What do you look forward to most at this stage of your astrological career?
I never really thought of it as an "astrological career." It's all a part of this whole . . . . crazy life I've been living. I suppose if I thought of it more in "career" terms I wouldn't be so poor . . . and maybe less infamous. Besides, at least 98% of the astrological work I've done has been performed freely, done without remuneration. I've done hundreds of consultations for nothing more than a meal, and I've spent hundreds of hours on the phone doing consultations for free, and freely helping and advising astrologers. I say this because some seem to think I'm dead or something because they don't see me at the conferences — circuses and trade shows. Also some people think I'm doing nothing because I refuse to submit to the main English language serious astrology magazine. The editors of that publication have regarded themselves as collaborators and feel it's their privilege to make all sorts of unauthorized revisions, revisions they refuse to allow writers review before publication. Some people in astrology are desperate for recognition and will do anything to see themselves published.
Well, back to the other, you certainly seem to be involved in the humanistic astrology movement, which you have been identified with more than any person other than Rudhyar. Which brings us back to the issues we were discussing earlier. The second mobilization of the humanistic astrology movement seems to be taking a more uncompromising stance under your direction than the attitude assumed by Rudhyar 28 years ago.
I have had the privilege of reading a proof of Humanistic Astrology Revisited. What is your response to those who will undoubtedly be concerned that you are attempting to polarize the astrological community with that remarkable work?
That is a deserving question. First, one needs to realize that every great culture develops its own astrology, which is designed to meet the particular needs of that particular culture at a particular time and place, and regardless of cultural boundaries, there probably have always been two fundamental approaches to astrological knowledge — the sacred and the profane.
Since the "rise of the individual" around 600 BCE and the development and deployment of "natal horoscopy," profane astrology has figured largely, if not exclusively, in the public and professional view of astrology. From time to time, however, individuals trained in the theory and practice of astrology have attempted to give publicity to the very real problems and dangers of profane astrology and to restore to astrology its sacred aspect. Such corrective attempts aim to realign astrology with the highest and finest principles, goals and needs of the age. Some have been so penetrating and uncompromising that they were often mistaken for unbridled attacks upon the entire field of astrology, so ingrained is the belief among astrologers and the public alike that astrology is just another word for fatalism, determinism and prediction.
Are you saying you are not as uncompromising as Ficino was during the 15th Century?
That's not what I'm driving at. Besides, Ficino's Disputation Against the Judgment of Astrologers
wasn't published during his lifetime, though he talked much and wrote a lot of letters concerning issues figuring in it. His one-time disciple, Pico della Mirandola, used Ficino's unpublished work as the basis for his own ruthless and well-circulated attack on astrology. My point was simply to show there have always been two fundamental approaches to astrological knowledge — the sacred and the profane.
Then one needs to realize that the situation is much different today than it was when the humanistic astrology movement first saw light. In some ways the movement has made a lasting impression, but the aims and features of humanistic astrology have never been well understood.
The current hunger for high-powered predictive techniques within the astrological community contributes much to today's situation. Such interests are probably cyclic and are no doubt related to social, political and economic climates and marketplace pressures. Humanity as a whole is passing through a crucial phase in which we are required to take the next step ahead. During such times movements rise which feed on the fear, insecurities, resentments and feelings of inadequacy and inferiority of a certain segment of the human community. Rather than envisioning a creative future, some fail and can only dream of reviving a long lost golden age.
For the past several years, members of the humanistic astrology movement have been content to work more or less quietly. We have always realized that humanistic astrology isn't for everyone, and we don't impose ourselves. The purpose of the first mobilization was to publicize the existence of a holistic, humanistic, non-predictive approach to astrology during a time when astrology was suddenly being taken seriously by a new generation of educated people in search of life's deeper meaning. Because the movement was so successful in realizing that goal, the informal group founded by Rudhyar known as the International Committee for a Humanistic Astrology, which I directed from 1972 onward, eventually retired. Humanistic astrology was still very much alive, of course, but by the late-1970s Rudhyar and I felt the ICHA had accomplished its purpose.
But things have now come full circle. We now need to work to give greater visibility to humanistic astrology and to promote a better understanding of its nature, principles, features, concerns, aims and goals. The idea isn't to impose anything or to steal the spotlight, but the fact is humanistic astrologers represent a sizable population of the astrological community. Indeed, we are a much larger population in the West than Vedic and ancient astrologers, but Vedic and ancient astrologies enjoy far more attention in the astrological press than does humanistic astrology. So it is time to work harder to assure authentic humanistic astrology remains within view of anyone interested in serious astrology.
I don't think it is fair or realistic to suggest I'm doing anything to polarize the community. If indeed there is a polarizing element in the community, it was there long before I wrote Humanistic Astrology Revisited.
If the work seems a bit uncompromising, it is because others have set the ante very high. A better question would be: "Why is the serious astrological press focusing so much attention on predictive, Vedic and ancient astrologies?"
Our chief aim is to state the nature of humanistic astrology and its concerns as clearly and definitely as possible, allowing the astrological community and the general public to make an informed decision on the important and very broad, all-encompassing issues at stake.
You seem to see it as a clash of the titans. Could you tell us more about the larger issues at stake?
They are the largest, most encompassing and pervasive issues imaginable. What sort of astrology we practice and how we practice it is actually a corollary of how we face larger questions. The real difference between members of the humanistic astrology movement and revivalists or determinists lies in our worldview, in our image of cosmos and anthropos, and in our view of the nature and destination of individual and collective human evolution.
Are you saying an all-embracing paradigm shift in astrology is at the root of the clash?
The paradigm shift, which isn't such a bad phrase but has been clichéd, isn't at the real root. There is something much deeper, the eternal movement of Wholeness and the sweep of human evolution. For some time now humanity has needed to take its next evolutionary step ahead. This particular step isn't easy and things can go wrong, like falling backwards or being paralyzed with fear and inertia. The paradigm shift is a part of the evolutionary movement drawing us into the future, it is inspired with the power of Wholeness enabling us to envision and work for a creative tomorrow.
Most of us have yet to acquired much understanding of what is really involved in today's paradigm shift, but that's a lot better than wanting to return to never-neverland or to an archaic past.
Over the past decade a number of books have been published which place Jungian and mythic spins on astrology. Rudhyar's The Astrology of Personality, which was originally published in 1936, was probably the first astrology book to bring Jungian thought into astrology. How do you respond to claims that humanistic astrology is just another word for Jungian astrology?
It's a misinformed opinion. Statements of that sort are rooted in the fact that many intelligent and well-meaning people read a single book on humanistic astrology—or perhaps merely skim a book by Rudhyar—and make sweeping judgments about the nature, origin, aims and scope of humanistic astrology. Our literature is quite extensive, especially if one includes all of Rudhyar's books written since the 1930s. I am astonished by what some of the best minds in astrology have had to say about humanistic astrology and Rudhyar's contribution. I often hear or read of someone claiming Rudhyar didn't go far enough in certain areas. They often go on to present what they believe are their own new and unique themes— themes Rudhyar explored in-depth decades ago.
Now, it is true that in his first astrology book, The Astrology of Personality,
Rudhyar made an attempt to integrate much of Jung's psychology with astrology. But we have to keep a few things in mind before leaping to the unnecessary conclusion that Rudhyar was just a Jungian, which is far from true. First, back then Jung's psychology was one of the very few alternatives to Freud's. Remember, modern psychology was still quite young and there wasn't the multiplicity of psychological approaches and systems we have today. Jungian psychology was the closest to what a holistic astrology required. So Rudhyar used it because it was acceptable for the exigencies of the time, and because its language and concepts were finding their way into the minds of the intelligentsia of the day. Importantly, Rudhyar saw many things differently, including personality, individuation, archetypes and the place and value of metaphysics; and he went on to make his own contributions to psychology, such as Beyond Individualism.
Reducing humanistic astrology to Jungian psychology makes as much sense as reducing Jung's psychology to Freudian analysis.
As you mentioned, over the past several years quite a few interesting and well-written books have been published which deal with astrological themes from the angle of Jungian psychology and mythic studies. They are valuable contributions to their field, but I think that field isn't as much astrology as it is Jungian psychology and mythic studies.
That's fine with me, I'm not putting them down. But I think it is invalid to take things to the point where one imposes a mythic or Jungian interpretation upon astrology. I see this happening when people astrologically interpret the planet Mars, for instance, according to the mythic descriptions and literature of the god Mars. The same goes for grafting Jungian archetypes onto astrology. The place and meaning we give any astrological factor needs to be consistently based upon the core principles and frames of reference of the particular astrology we use. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we shouldn't draw on mythos
and Jungian stuff, but we had better understand something about it and
test how well its symbology integrates with the core principles inherent in our astrology and its frames of reference.
Aside from all that, I think Jungian psychology as it is used by today's astrologers is a weak and rather useless (or narcissistic) form of psychology. People who want to avoid their core-issues seem to find it attractive, the same goes for focusing too much on mythos
. They are both great distractions, detours into side-issues and narcissism. The more I hear astrologers talking that stuff, the more I see it that way. As C. G. Jung said, "Thank God, I'm not a Jungian!"
Would you tell us something about the practice of humanistic astrology, about how a humanistic astrologer looks at astrological charts? What sort of techniques are used?
That would require a series of articles. For now I'll merely mention a few points. First, the main thing is to approach astrology, astrological charts and one's clients with a holistic attitude, informed by an understanding of the fundamental principles of the philosophy and metaphysics of Wholeness underlying the humanistic approach. That means seeing the birth-chart and the person as a whole. From such a perspective, the birth-chart is a seed-pattern of what the person could grow to become, though he or she may not. Progressions and transits to the birth-chart are viewed as opportunities, challenges and crises met during the lifelong process of self-realization. Crises or difficult experiences are not seen as unpleasant events to be avoided but as experiences through which the next step ahead in that process may be realized.
In terms of interpreting a birth-chart, we look at a chart's whole-pattern or gestalt. For instance, has the chart a "hemispheric" or a "see-saw" gestalt? Are all the planets within a single hemisphere of the chart or divided into two opposing groups? There are several recognized gestalt patterns and Marc Jones did the pioneering work in this area. On that foundation, we take a closer look at the hemispheres and quadrants occupied with planets, at empty sectors, containments, centers of gravity, groupings and configurations, and try to identify accentuations and areas of focus. We consider whether the Sun and Moon are above or below the horizon. Does Mercury and Venus rise before or after the Sun? Are they direct or retrograde? What is the Moon's speed and latitude.
We give attention to the lunation cycle, the phase of the cycle of the Sun and the Moon, and especially whether the lunation cycle is in its waxing hemisphere (before the full moon or opposition) or in its waning hemisphere (after the opposition and before the new moon or conjunction). Humanistic astrology is holistic and cyclic, so we view all planetary pairs in this manner. For instance, there is a real, dynamic difference between a waxing square (90º phase-arc) of any two planets and a waning square (270º phase-arc). To view them as identical is like saying our experience of the summer solstice is just like that of the winter solstice because they are both 90 days from the spring equinox.
Additionally, we take a process-oriented view of cycles. Humanistic astrology is a cyclic astrology, and it restores cyclicity to astrology. We have quite a number of techniques at our disposal, and many of them are of "ancient" origin. In fact, humanistic astrology, and the Sabian astrology presented by Marc Jones, probably carries a greater wealth of "ancient" techniques than any other modern astrology. Yet we don't use a particular technique just because it is old or new, or popular or in vogue. We place a lot of value on consistency and any technique used must make sense according to the fundamental principles of our holistic and cyclic foundation. Old techniques used are first thoroughly re-examined and given new meaning in the light of our approach. But we like to focus on essentials. If we need to look deeper into a particular area, we can do so while still sticking to essentials with the aid of planetary pairs and their parts (of which we have 1,080), cyclic midpoints and other cyclic factors.
We also realize any astrological information may be interpreted on a number of levels of meaning.
Because we are concerned with individual persons, their self-revelation, self-actualization and eventual self-transformation, we give precedence, so to speak, to the cross of the horizon-meridian (and the twelve houses) over the circle of the zodiac. We do so because the latter is the most individualizing factor of the birth-chart, while the zodiac refers to twelve basic types of collective or generic human energy. This being so, a strictly humanistic and "person-centered" astrology requires a chart graphic in which the horizon and meridian are depicted as perpendicular axes, as well as a "space-oriented" system of house division, such as the Campanus or the Porphyry.
I suppose everything I've just said will elicit questions, but we have merely scratched the surface here and haven't really made an attempt to examine the hows and whys behind the outlined procedures.
I had better not, but it might help give a better understanding of where I am coming from if I add this: I am from a very unusual background. My maternal grandparents were involved in theosophical activities, and my Welsh maternal grandmother was a herbalist and such — a Welsh witch. I was introduced into this sort of thinking at the age of four, when my mother introduced me into telepathy and started grooming me as a narcissistic projection. There were other very powerful and unusual existential and psychological factors, which I won't go into here, originating during childhood, and in my family, which moved me along a life-course leading to an involvement with early days of the psychedelic movement. I was placed next to key people in the movement while still a teen-ager, which opened the way to even more unusual experiences and opportunities. By age eighteen I was living on my own in the Village — New York's Greenwich Village. I had a magical touch of sorts; remarkable things and coincidences often occurred in my presence. People liked having me around and I moved in artistic and musical circles. What I encounter in these circles, as well as my relationships with the more significant women in my life, probably "influenced" and reinforced my particular outlook and approach to life, as well as contributing to my metaphysical views. I was one of those people who seemed to always be able to get backstage or into the backroom of the clubs and venues. So, over the past two or three generations I have met a lot of people, in many different fields, before they became successful, notable or famous or Icons . . . Indeed, I have known the Icons of my generation. All of these experiences instilled in me a highly developed sense of self-reliance and destiny, and contributed to a certain approach to life which is probably embodied in me more than in anyone else in the astrological community.
Astrologers today seem to be afflicted with the "I can't get no respect" syndrome. They want to be accepted by the mainstream culture and academia. They are desperate to put a "PhD." after their name and "Dr." before it — and some will even fake it. In short, they are struggling to gain the acceptance and validation of mainstream culture — as it is
. They are wannabees seeking authority, power and control, and there's not much true creatively there. Their struggle is not my struggle. I am working to transform the world, in that sense I am a social-spiritual revolutionary.
So, is it true you are one of the first young people to experiment with LSD-25? That you were a "proto-hippie".
I was one of the original NYC Acid Freaks, if you know what that means. We Freaks played a large role in bringing metaphysics, astrology, Asian philosophy, and all that into popular awareness during the 1960s, though I didn't care much for the way things were being promoted by Leary and some others had to say back then, nor did I think much of what passed for "metaphysics" back then. There was a lot of glib, "cosmic" talk about astrology and metaphysics — anything "cosmic" was popular. Tarot
and I Ching
were much more popular in the early days of the counterculture than astrology, probably because natal astrology required deeper study, extensive calculations and costly reference books . . . we didn't have computer services back then. The whole scene would have been more intelligent if Aldous Huxley
had lived a few years longer; his passing, on the same day that JFK was assassinated, allowed Leary to assume the leadership role, which in my view caused the psychedelic movement to develop along superficial and sensationalistic lines. The metaphysical ideas floating around the counterculture were fragmented, lacking any real foundation or fundamentals. A holistic, integrating factor was missing. That's part of the reason why so many of the more intelligent members of the counterculture were attracted to Rudhyar.
Are you saying that LSD was responsible for astrology, yoga, gurus, meditation, ecology, student protest and that whole package bursting onto the scene of the late-60s and 70s?
Yes, of course, for bringing all those things into the mainstream at that time. Everyone who was "there" knows it . . . at least you can't separate it. The situation is entirely different today, and it is difficult for today's younger people to imagine how fast things were happening throughout the Sixties, and the very significant large role LSD played
in the speed of change. What happened in the mid-1960s was inevitable in the 1940s, when we were born. LSD was a part of a whole package, which included things like, at least in the U.S., the sameness of the early experience and up-bringing of our generation — we are the best educated generation and we all had a rather similar education, and we were the first to grow-up with television, which gave us a huge common experience, as did music. And the 1950s and early-60s were incredibility future-oriented, there was a brave new world out there, ours for the taking. But a "spark plug" was needed, and that was LSD — there would have been no combustion without LSD and rock music. And the war, the draft and social injustice, which had an impact on all of us in a rather immediate and personal manner, provided an initial ground for collective action and rebellion. The sequence of things back then is important. Each year of the 1960s had its own character, each year brought vast, multi-leveled changes. Astrology and metaphysics didn't really start taking hold until 1968-69, then expanded greatly during the first half of the 1970s . . . and faded in the 1980s with the rise of the personal computer. But all that will have to be taken up later. Anyway, the reason so many people became fascinated with astrology, metaphysics and anything cosmic or psychic back then had much to do with LSD experiences, or because they were surfing the wave of "fashion" we created . . . or they were on sort of a collective contact high. But, again, there was more involved. And, of course, it all ties in with the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions of 1965-66
I've heard you are down on professional astrology. The remark "the trouble with astrology is astrologers" seems to confirm it. I've even heard that you want to "remove the intermediary of the astrologer," whatever that means. Is all that a part of the agenda of the humanistic astrology movement?
It's no big secret that I have always been interested in removing the intermediary of the astrologer, who is sometimes imposed between the person and the cosmos, much like the clergy imposes itself between the devotee and God. It's not that I'm down on astrology as a profession, but self-reliance figures in humanistic astrology, and ultimately that extends to "removing the intermediary of the astrologer." I wouldn't say it's part of the agenda of the humanistic astrology movement, though it certainly figures as an ideal, as you can see for yourself from this passage in Rudhyar's From Humanistic to Transpersonal Astrology.
It reads, "Ideally [the person] should be able to stand without crutches and to read by himself the message of the sky — his birth-sky — and the yearly evolving sky overhead. Yet, sometimes, an intermediary may be needed, so as to clarify
issues and individual problems."
This is one of the reasons why my books emphasize essentials and fundamental principles. Learning and understanding the holistic, universal principles upon which astrology is based — at least the humanistic and transpersonal astrologies I have represented since 1968 — can radically transform one's entire outlook. Today the world needs a critical mass of creative individuals to understand, live by and disseminate such principles, and to realize transformation to a new level of being, activity and consciousness.
Understanding fundamental principles isn't so difficult if one tries, but one must exercise self-devised, self-induced effort to translate such understanding into a living, transformative power in one's life and in the world.
That naturally leads to my next question. Would you say few words about transpersonal astrology — the step beyond humanistic astrology. Is it an authentic spiritual tool or practice? How does it differ from its precursor? Is it for everyone or better left to spiritual adventurers willing to endure its perils?
That opens a large and very important area which necessarily involves a lot of philosophical and metaphysical preliminaries. It will have to be the subject of another dialogue. But I think I can say a few general words touching upon the inquiry.
I'm never quite certain what people mean when they speak of "spiritual practices" and "spiritual tools." First of all, it sounds as if they are trying to market services and products. And the word "spiritual" is rather carelessly used these days. So even to speak of the spiritual dimensions of what is beyond humanistic astrology requires the definition of quite a few terms, which will probably become apparent in what I say next.
In the philosophy of Wholeness, the term transpersonal is used in a very specific way, and we use it in the sense of beyond and through
the person. It refers to a very specific quality of being, activity and consciousness. The radical repolarization of identity and consciousness from the biological and psychological to the spiritual-mental level provides the requisite foundation for transpersonal activity, which is the chief aim of transpersonal astrology. Through a process of repolarization or modulation, one's personality is purified and one's mind is restructured and transformed into a mind of Wholeness. Together, personality and mind may then act as a translucent lens bringing into existential focus a downflow of transcendent, transpersonal power and consciousness.
Although there isn't a strict line of demarcation, humanistic astrology focuses more on the horizontal realm and on the socio-cultural and individual levels of interpretation, while transpersonal astrology focuses on the "transindividual" level of interpretation and is primarily concerned with vertical relationships linking the transformed individual with a greater planetary or cosmic Whole, as well as with a unique spiritual Quality, which is popularly referred to as the "higher self." Humanistic astrology aims at self-fulfillment and actualization, and eventual
self-transformation. Transpersonal astrology aims at radical transformation, not only self-transformation but also social and cultural transformation. Everything about one's birth-chart, and especially transits to it involving Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, is used to realize such transformation.
How can we keep informed regarding your work and humanistic astrology?
Visit CyberWorld Khaldea at www.khaldea.com.
Finally, what advice have you for novice astrologers.
The same I have for everyone: Question everything.