PROLOGUE - 2
Astrology today can, and I believe should, be considered a symbolic language
— indeed a great mythos
that could inspire and lead to much needed psychospiritual realizations many of the people who have recently been made to vicariously experience a totally new picture of the universe and the Earth, and who have acquired therefore a new sense of space and of cosmic organization. Technology has provided us with a distant view of our planet as a whole, experienced thus as the homeland of a humanity compelled, mostly against its will, to realize its fundamental unity in spite of constant international, religious, and ideological conflicts. But the science that produced this technology has not been able to create out of its discoveries symbols that could move and illumine the minds and souls of individuals, and still less of nations.
We need such symbols. Yet today only a small minority of vanguard minds are able to deal significantly with even symbols of the past, and attempts at creating new ones have mostly been failures or only temporary successes artificially induced by the media. Astrology, however, has kept spreading — but most of the time for superficial reasons. It has spread partly as a protest against the materialism and spiritual emptiness of our society, and against the academic institutions still hypnotized by the empirical method and the rigor of intellectual thinking — and partly as an escape from the responsibility of making decisions for which no rational reasons could be found for moving in one direction or another, so complex and filled with "unknowables" our modern society has become.
Astrologers, eager to acquire an intellectual respectability and a legal status long denied to them, have sought to "prove" the validity of their "science" by empirical research and statistical methods; but in the meantime, modern science itself, especially since the revolution induced by Planck and Einstein, has increasingly become a symbolic language. A holistic approach is gradually challenging the atomistic character of "classical" science. The worldview evoked by a new breed of "philosophers of science" reaches far beyond the rational. Some of the most progressive and farseeing physicists are touching almost transcendent fields of existence and evoking through their complex mathematical symbols the feeling of the inter-relatedness of everything to everything else — a feeling that has been sung for centuries by mystical poets and interpreted in cosmic terms by great seers and occultists. The field is indeed being prepared at all levels for a planet-wide refocalization of human consciousness and a reorientation of collective, as well as individual, hopes and desires. Astrology can play a significant role in the process — provided
it does not cling to obsolescent "classical" ideas and a kind of practice that does not help or inspire increasingly individualized and self-actualizing persons to transcend their old habits of thinking and feeling, and repolarize their energies.
Such a help is needed badly. People everywhere need understanding as well as guidance. They are confused by a multitude of options which they are unable to evaluate because they lack the required perspective and clarity of mind. The problem is how this needed help and guidance is to be given and, first of all, on what basis?
The only basis I can find practical and effective as well as philosophically — and even aesthetically — significant is a multilevel approach to the human being. In terms of cosmology, or "cosmontology", this approach leads one to consider the universe as a hierarchy of fields of existence or systems of organization. It leads to the concept, not merely of "holism" in the sense Jan Smuts used it in his seminal book, Holism and Evolution
) but of what I have called holarchy.(2
) In its application to human psychology and the future possibility of humanity's development, the concept of holarchy inevitably leads to the realization that a state of more-than-individual (or "transindividual") existence is not only a possibility, but the only unglamorous, realistic and practical way to give meaning and direction to the present day struggle of individuals and nations toward what many people, often naively, call the New Age.
of a really "new" Age can be seen in the interrelated cycles of planetary and cosmic motions, if properly interpreted, but cycles do not determine what will happen. They only evoke the possibility of the happenings and if it happens, something of its basic character
. Man alone can decide what actually and concretely will happen — at least at Man's own level of existence.
Humanity is only a part of vaster wholes — the planet, the solar system, our galaxy — and these wholes hierarchically set the cosmic and planetary stages; yet, on the stage of the Earth's biosphere Man is a crucially important performer. Humanity no doubt has a role to perform, at least broadly defined by its place within these vaster wholes. The "score" is not of Man's own making, but the performance is nevertheless his, for better or for worse; and every truly individualized human being is a responsible aspect of Humanity-as-a-whole. The whole acts not only in
the individual, but through
the individual. The whole realizes itself in and through the acts, feelings, and thoughts of its individualized participants who have become open to its descents of power. As this occurs, the transindividual state of existence is reached.
The way to such a state is what I call the transpersonal path
. In no basic sense is it different from what esoteric traditions have spoken of as the Path of Initiation; yet this hoary and haloed word, Initiation, can be seen in a new light once the human being who is to tread the path leading to it has actually emerged from the chrysallis-state of bondage to the particular culture that had formed his or her mind and conditioned his or her feeling-responses and behavioral habits.
Transpersonal astrology is astrology reoriented and repolarized to meet the needs of such individualized, or
individualizing, human beings. It is not intended to meet the needs of every
human being. It cannot be significantly and validly used by every
astrologer; but neither should the controls of an atomic reactor be given to any college graduate having majored in ordinary physics. In the last chapter of this book I shall speak of the serious responsibility incurred by anyone using a truly transpersonal approach.
In closing this Prologue, may I stress the fact that every
system of, or approach to, astrology may answer the need of, or fulfill a valid function for, at least some
human beings. This is why a multilevel understanding of what is possible, meaningful to and especially required for a particular client is necessary. Moreover, at every level, the Astrologer — and this applies as well to the psychologist and psychotherapist — can approach his or her relationship to the client in two basic ways. The choice of the way depends on the astrologer's temperament, training, and philosophy of living. Both ways can be valuable, depending on the circumstances and the character and state of development of the two persons involved in the consultation. What these two ways imply will be the first topic I shall consider.
This will lead to a study of the meaning, value and purpose of symbols. Then I shall attempt to throw light on each of the four basic levels at which the data provided by astrology can be interpreted. There must be different levels of interpretation because the consciousness, and the energies of human beings can be focused at any one of these levels — and at times the focus of the consciousness oscillates from one level to the next.
Operating at the fourth level, however, is still for most human beings only a future possibility, and in the majority of cases a distant one at that. Yet, because mankind is today passing through a crucial crisis of reorganization and transformation, an increasing number of individuals, whether they are conscious of it or not, are seeking to work toward the concrete realization of this distant transindividual future.
For this reason, a greater understanding of what is involved in the transpersonal path of radical transformation is imperative. I can only hope that what I have written will assist those who are ready to gain such an understanding and to separate the possibilities inherent in our stage of evolution from the glamour and the ghosts of past eras.
(London & N.Y.: MacMillan Co., 1926). Return
The philosophical and cosmological use of the concept can be found in my book The Planetarization of Consciousness
, now in its third edition (N.Y.: A.S.I. Publishers, 1977). At the time I wrote the book, however, I did not use the term publicly. The term itself is used and explored from various points of view in other works of mine, for example, We Can Begin Again - Together
, Occult Preparations for a New Age
and Culture, Crisis and Creativity
, as well as in my already-mentioned most recent book. Beyond Individualism: The Psychology of Transformation
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