by Hand Week 3
week, I mentioned that we would examine the issue of whether
astrology was a form of magic. We’ll do this, but before I get there,
I want to look at the issue of psychological and humanistic astrology,
and how it stacks up with regard to the matter of astrology as a challenge
to science as we know it.
I have been receiving emails about some of the ideas raised in the first
two weeks of this series. Within the next few installments, I will take
some space to talk about some of those emails.
and Psychological Astrology
the twentieth century, especially after World War II, a new kind of astrology
came into existence. Its roots can be found even before the war in the
work of Dane Rudhyar and Marc Edmund Jones, but flourished after the war,
especially in the 70s and 80s. It was a particular kind of psychological
astrology that not only sought to use astrological methods for personality
evaluation, but to use astrology as a kind of roadmap for individual development.
new astrology I am referring to is astrology as a tool for understanding
human potential. In time, this kind of astrology has become broadly known
as humanistic astrology, a term coined by Rudhyar and his disciples. In
this article I will be lumping psychological astrology (insofar as it
has human potential as goal) and humanistic astrology together. There
are some differences in style, but the same comments apply to both.
kind of astrology is satisfying in many ways. It speaks to our need for
self-understanding; it fits in with the general ideal of human potential;
and by stressing growth and increased awareness, it liberates the astrology
client from very depressing and counter-productive ideas of fate and destiny.
I think that we can say that humanistic and psychological astrology is
a most useful development, and I do not want what I am about to say to
be considered in any way a detraction from its merits. The issue that
I am discussing here is not whether this kind of astrology is good, bad
or indifferent, but rather how it fits into the issues that I am addressing
Astrology Emphasizes Experience, Not Objective Reality
general, humanistic astrology (and for that matter all kinds of astrology
that emphasize character and personality rather than fate and destiny)
seems to pose a less serious challenge to the scientific paradigm than
traditional astrology. It has been proposed by many psychological astrologers
that the only reason why one can discuss fate at all in a birth chart
is because a birth chart indicates psychological predispositions, and
these in turn influence the way we see things and how we react to them.
The chart indicates fate only insofar as fate is the result of either
perception or behavior. “Character is destiny.” According to this model,
nothing can possibly be indicated by the birth chart that doesn’t have
its origins in the individual’s behavior as influenced by the individual’s
perceptions and experience.
example, a traditional textbook might say that Saturn conjunct the Moon in
the Fourth House indicates a difficult early life and the likelihood
of a parent who was not very nurturing. A humanistic text might not disagree
with the quality of the effect but would emphasize that the cause of the
psychological effects of the astrological combination was the individual’s
experience of early life, not necessarily the reality of
that early life. According to this model, the chart does not describe
objective reality as much as it describes the individual’s experience.
And for the record, I want to say that there is a great deal of merit
in this viewpoint. But I am not sure that it is the whole story. We’ll
come back to that.
and Psychological Astrology Seen as More Compatible with Science
and psychological astrologies do present science with the birth chart
dilemma as described in the first two installments. And because most practitioners
of these kinds of astrology do use transits, progressions and directions,
these astrologies also present many of the other challenges to the scientific
viewpoint that I have already mentioned. But there is a perception, I
believe, that an astrology that limits itself to the nature of subjective
experience, in which most, if not all, of the phenomena take place within
the individual’s psyche, makes astrology more compatible with science.
And it is certainly believed that it makes astrology more compatible with
and depth psychology both speak the language of myth and fable, which
arise entirely out of human consciousness (or more accurately human unconsciousness).
For the most part, except for in the belief of some of the more radical
Jungians, this language does not come from nature, as it exists independent
of human consciousness. This is actually quite different from astrology,
which suggests that the language of myth and fable does have roots in
nature apart from the human psyche.
or wrongly, many humanistic astrologers have connected their practice
of astrology to psychology, a discipline generally regarded as intellectually
respectable. This brings up a difficult issue. Have some astrologers wedded
themselves to psychology in order to give themselves a sense of legitimacy
that they would otherwise lack? Perhaps some have. But I do not regard
this as a principle cause of the wedding of humanistic astrology to psychology.
It is simpler than that. We are all people who live in the turn of the
twentieth to twenty-first century. We have been raised in the contemporary
worldview as much as anyone else. This means that we “believe in” science,
even though we may question some of its tenets and some of its consequences,
both philosophically and environmentally.
Week: I will examine some of the ways in which we contradict our own efforts
to make astrology fit in.