Transpersonal Theory & the Astrological Mandala: An Evolutionary Model by Gerry Goddard
Return to Contents

- 10 -

Holonic Logic and the Astrological Mandala

Agency and Communion, Individual and Social

The usual way we interpret the birth chart as a whole is from the point of view of the particular individual at stage-level II. This means that the categories of the second hemisphere, quadrants three and four, are normally understood as the particular individual's relational and social development, his or her interface with the collective whose general structures are already laid down. But in this work we are concerned with laying down the mandalic infrastructure in the first place, which means that the third quadrant is to be understood as the primal development of society underlying the development of the mental ego and its social structures.

From the point of view of the individual's birth chart the first quadrant has to do with self and self assertion while the third quadrant has to do with relationship and basic social interchange evolving from direct face-to-face modes toward more global forms. In this usual view, the horizon locates the core-self at the A pole, and the experience of the 'other' or, more precisely, one's relationship to the 'other' at the D pole. In chapter 4, we spoke of the psychological polarity between agency and communion, the assertive and autonomous self versus the relational and connective self (we'll be looking at the gender implications of this in Chapters 11 & 12). In light of the fact that through the first quadrant the individualizing Day force is increasingly dominant, we might be tempted, in correctly equating the agentic pole of the developing psyche with the Q1 Day force, to correspondingly identify, given our usual personal individual perspective, the communal pole of the developing psyche with the Q3 Night force which is increasing through the third quadrant. But in terms of the simultaneous historical development of individual and collective this would contradict the either/or logic of the relation of agency and communion. According to this logic 'the more agency the less communion, the more communion the less agency'. Ergo, since the third quadrant Night force is increasing in tandem with the first quadrant Day force, the two principles cannot stand in either/or relation to one another. To identify the Night force of the third quadrant with the communional pole of the first quadrant individual would falsely imply that in simultaneous parallel with the increasing agency of the self through the first quadrant, there would be increasingly nuanced modes of inter-personal relationship and connectedness unfolding through the third quadrant. In the birth chart of an individual which is imposed over the fundamental mandala this is the case since the second hemisphere which denotes the social structures already present is, as said, interpreted from the point of view of the particular individual's social experiences and development.

It is an agentic and assertive self rather than a relational self which develops through the first quadrant (rising Day force). Historically, there is in parallel, a relational coming together of people to form ever more complex social orders through the third quadrant. Human society begins with small groups based on blood and kinship operating through direct person-to-person connectivity—a state where individual communion is more or less in balance with individual agency. The Stage I process of social and cultural growth through the third quadrant begins with direct, concrete and instinctual individual communion but gradually takes on forms which are less immediately communal and more requiring of a developing individual agency—a process which becomes especially apparent by the time the ninth principle is reached. The original close, socially unified and empathic group mind (the original form of psychic connection and individual communion) recedes as society complexifies. At this primal level I, the third quadrant has to do more with the development of society, of socio-cultural structures, than it has to do with the development of human interpersonal relationship per se. But once Stage-level II structures are in place, then the third quadrant does indeed signify, at this same level II, the maturation of intersubjective relationship and direct communal participation by the individual; and this is exactly how the birth chart of an individual is normally understood—that is, from a level II perspective. So the increasing Night force through the third quadrant (Stage-level I) is about something 'more than' and even 'other than' personal relationship, and actually finishes up, if not devouring connection, giving it a lesser, even though still foundational status.

As the development of society proceeds through an often violent social and cultural blending, the original person-to-person contact, though still basic, is more and more replaced by a social order which expands beyond blood and personal interaction. Eventually, as small bands and tribes gradually blend and intermix to form larger social units, the instinctual and emotionally empathic personal level of contact and interchange, although remaining structurally foundational, has less of a directive part to play in the complexifying machinery of public life.

Historically, the third quadrant signifies the development of society parallel with the developments of the individual through the first quadrant. So, as said above, the interplay of the Day and Night principles is to be understood differently within each quadrant than across opposing quadrants; that is, the interplay is to be understood differently whether applied to the individual or to the society. Consequently, if we are going to equate the Day force with the concept of agency and the Night force with the concept of communion, then we must define the different ways these concepts apply alternately to the individual or to the society, or in Wilber’s (1995) terms, to either the 'individual holon' or to the 'social holon'. At the end of chapter 3 I gave a brief account of Wilber's four quadrant model in terms of the nature and relationship of individual and social dimensions—the so-called individual holon and social holon. In appendix 1 I offer a critique of this relationship that points toward the following, and I believe more adequate, mapping from the astro-transpersonal perspective.

The tendency to conflate interpersonal relationships with collectivity, with the group-mind, reflects precisely the conflation of Quadrant III at primal Level I with Quadrant III at the mental-egoic Level II. But it is also reinforced by a prior conflation of two ways of viewing the twelve-fold mandala: one, as a picture of the human psyche autonomously and connectively operating through the birth chart and two, as a picture of historical and evolutionary development. Historical and evolutionary development tends to be viewed as a picture of the collective (phylogenesis) as distinct from the individual (ontogenesis). But more correctly, both phylogenesis and ontogenesis must be understood in terms of a complex individual/social dialectic viewed from two different standpoints—the individual and the collective. So when we speak of individuals recapitulating historical developmental stages we are speaking of a recapitulating dialectic of individual (Q1) and society (Q3). The two hemispheres must be viewed as the individual/social dynamic from the point of view, alternatively, of the individual and of the social.

It is already clear that individual agency refers to the structure and maintenance of the autonomous and distinct self while individual communion refers to the individual's relational exchanges with others.When viewing the socio-cultural unit we must apply similar holonic criteria. Taking any society or socio-cultural unit—group, tribe, or later on, a nation—the social unit stands in both distinctive and connective relation to other social units at its own level of complexity. Hence, social agency refers to a distinct and self maintaining group or society which, in the homogeneity of its collective ethos and its agentic distinction from other groups and social forms, allows and promotes maximum face-to-face individual communions within its own cohesive form. That is, the agency of the 'social holon' refers to its cohesive structure which allows and encourages a range of individual communions while placing a preventative counter pressure on the developing agentic individual, or more precisely, a counter pressure against the individual becoming more agentic than he or she is communal. Rather than referring to its own nature as consisting of relating individuals, the communality of the social holon actually refers to a society’s or group's active relationships with other social units, its intermixing with, or enculturation of other societies and cultures which allows, and is in fact facilitated by, the development of individual agency. So in quadrant 1, the Day and Night forces refer to the agentic and communal modes of the self. In quadrant 3, the Day and Night forces refer to the agentic and communal modes of society. As said, the agency and communion poles of the individual psyche exist in an 'either/or' relationship. The same holds for the agency and communion poles of a particular society or culture. But between the developing individual and the developing society and culture there is a more complex developmental relation between the poles of each.

The small bands and tribes constituting original society were each defined by a distinct mythos and its own peculiar web of ecological relations (i.e. varied environments, friendly or unfriendly), standing numerically distinct from, though with occasional interactions with other tribes. So we can say of the original form of society that it allows and maintains maximal person-to-person interchange with minimal deviation from the group's norms, rituals and taboos, yet values individual initiative when it furthers the interests of the group. That is, the group's constituent individuals are more directly and concretely interconnected through group-mind than they will ever later be. Similarly, society is, at this point, as homogeneous and as numerically distinct from other groups as it ever will be. From the simple and primal level where the individual and the social are barely distinct, society develops by becoming more communal and interactive blending with other societies, a process simultaneous with the increased agency of society’s constituent individuals. The more society takes a communal form, the more the individual can (and is required to) operate in an agentic mode since individual agency operates against the conformist, familial and traditional pressures and taboos of society at its early agentic phase.

As society complexifies through the mergings of geographically adjacent groups, its increasing size comes to render impossible direct face-to-face interaction in all circumstances. New social structures are necessarily forged to maintain social functionality as the ties of blood, kinship, natural social roles and pecking orders (inherited from higher mammalian social organization), and direct friendship are no longer adequate to ensure social cohesion. Society begins to take the form of a holarchic web where interactivity between one social node and another requires, not face-to-face communion, but an ability for abstraction and for non-personal behaviour; persons must become more agentic, less purely defined by a single group or mythic structure.

While the rising Day force through the first quadrant signifies the self, developing forcefully and agentically, overcoming and repressing its own communal needs (falling Night force), the rising Night force through the third quadrant signifies social development occurring through an ever larger blending of social and cultural units. There is an increasing marginalization of personal interchange and blood/family connections symbolized by the falling third quadrant Day force (the falling Day force meaning a decrease of social agency). So the dialectical tension operating in the 'either/or' mode across the quadrants is pictured in the inverse relation of the rising Q1 Day force (the developing agentic self) and the falling Q3 Day force (the agentic mode of society). Similarly, the rising Night force in the third quadrant (social communion) is in dialectical tension with the falling Night force (individual communion) in the first quadrant. The agentic increase of self (rising Day force in Q1) is actually unfolding in tandem with the communal increase of society (rising Night force in Q3), both contributing to each others' developments.

By the end of stage I and the beginning of stage II, a most interesting extreme yet interdependent duality results. Self development can proceed no further through acting assertively against the counter pressure of natural and social order. Purely agentic individualism has gone as far as it can go; it now has to allow the inward emergence of the communing night force so that its agentic consciousness can gradually become more integrated and in balance with its communal needs. Correspondingly, society (as early empire and later as imperialist expansions of large nation states) has expanded to monolithically homogenize so much diversity that there is now an archetypal impulsion to move in a direction that allows more cultural diversity and group distinction (the rising Day force through the social fourth quadrant).

So in stage I we see individual and social development unfolding from an order of nature at the horizon through a process of increasing distinction and differentiation coming to establish a humanly constructed order at the meridian. Point N marks the consolidation of self-reflective interior selfhood (nevertheless, such interiority continues to develop through the second quadrant, though informed by a dialectic different from first quadrant selfhood). Point M, the maximum communality of the social holon, marks the consolidation of an ever more inclusive social and public order. The third quadrant Night force (social holon in its increasingly 'communal' mode) has actually taken on a masculinist expansive devouring of other societies since the hierarchical social unit is driven by all-powerful agentic male leaders, but what they are driven toward is global inclusion as colonization and empire. Social communion during the patriarchal era was driven by male heroics, dominance and expansion. But as it comes back toward a balance with social agency in the postmodern period, the second hemispheric Night force (social communion) becomes more a conscious I/Thou communion across international differences where there is less of a totalizing thrust of universalist domination. While globalization obviously continues to develop through the fourth quadrant (i.e. second hemispheric Night force is still dominant), it is now driven by a complex dialectic operating at two levels: 1.) a continuation of the level I process (masculinist heroics and empire-building) through European hegemony and colonization and also through reactionary elements within the present corporatist-based internationalist movement and 2.) through co-operative internationalism and universalist ethics promoting national, social and cultural diversity that exemplifies the increasingly balanced interplay of the still dominant though proportionately decreasing Night force and the increasing Day force through the fourth quadrant.

The emergent self-reflexive mental-ego at N, and the overaching institutionalized cultural paradigm and political structure at M, have, in actuality, mutually informed one another. While these two polar forces have, through stage I, increased in unison, they nevertheless manifest to human consciousness as a duality—the push and pull between public and private, inner and outer domains captured by these words of Jung (1933): "[T]here is a vast outer realm and an equally vast inner realm; between these two stands man, facing now one and now the other, and, according to his mood or disposition, taking the one for the absolute truth by denying or sacrificing the other." Historically, what unfolds from here can be seen as a response to this foundational existential condition. Nevertheless, N and M represent the extremes of inner and outer, the tiny individual and the great cosmos, the citizen and the government (and most fundamentally, the microcosm and the macrocosm—see Chapter 19). The individual qua individual has no active place within the collective; the collective has no active place within the individual, even though both are interdependently informed at the same level of the Great Chain of Being. Here are the extremes of subjectivity and objectivity, individual expression and social restraint. To human self-consciousness these structures seem a powerfully irreconcilable duality—ultimately that between the human sphere and the divine. This duality of N and M represents the confrontation of individual and collective consciousness constituted by the either/or dialectic between the Q1 Day force and the Q3 Day force; between the Q3 Night force and the Q1 Night force. (For a more detailed historical account see chapters 13 & 14).

From N/M onward, we see a gradual integrative movement of the Day and Night forces both within the individual and within society. Through Stage II, the Day and Night forces are no longer in the same 'either/or' relational tension that they were in Stage I. While the result of Stage I was the establishment of two extremes of subjectivity and objectivity, inner and outer, individual and state, the final outcome of Stage II will be the realization (on the mental-social level) of the codetermination of individual and social quadrants—Q2 and Q4 signifying the developments of democracy and later feminism and postmodern epistemology.

As society complexifies (through stage-level I) beyond face-to-face community, the primarily communing individual is called to become more agentic in order to negotiate the connections to other communities and to people in those communities beyond one's own—communities having somewhat different, even if only superficially different, beliefs and practices. More and more persons are called to become more agentic as society complexifies through the process of combining and connecting the smaller groups through the process of social communion. Like atoms combining to form a molecule, the original units (social agencies) remain largely intact with a majority of individuals remaining largely communal (even through the Middle Ages, the early form of the M/N structure) with a minority (mostly males) taking an agentic leadership role to negotiate the interconnecting fabrics. So even while individual development through stage I occurs through an increasing duality, a distinction of agency and communion within the individual sphere, this duality is expressed by the few, while most remain at the original levels of the social hierarchy confined within their home/community space of operations.

In this sense, stage-level I inevitably takes on the form of a social dominator hierarchy. At level II the metaphysical and the social structures part company; the spirit of levelling to ordinary life and the affirmation of human equality in the modern period become, not a deviation from natural hierarchical development but a natural evolutionary development resulting in a valid postmodern levelling; I mean valid in most of its deconstructive aspects, except when it continues a naturalistic and positivistic essentialism that outlaws the transcendent and the realms of the paranormal as 'merely' linguistic constructions.

So the overarching differentiation of individual and social by N and M embraces an either/or dualist extreme between the agency and communion poles within each sphere. In the individual sphere this manifests as gender dimorphism and class division defining the identity of the dominant or paradigm individuals. In the social sphere this extreme duality of communion and agency is manifest as the condition of socially enforced empire but comprised of agentic social units — villages, fiefdoms, families, clans constituted by predominantly communal individuals (remember at this point we have said that individuality is maximally agentic, but not for the majority who remain at the bottom of the heap). Through level II we see a process of 'catch-up' by increasing numbers while a new dialectical process—a shift of direction—impels leading-edge development, particularly through the postmodern period. So level I, in both metaphysical and real terms, does indeed follow Ken Wilber's paradigm of holarchy, namely, the hierarchic stratification of atoms forming molecules forming cells, but Level II does not follow such a hierarchic model even as 'higher' level structures emerge.

Through stage-level I, the increasing distinction between the more agentic and the more communal persons (leaders and chiefs; homemakers and artisans) eventually divides along gender lines. This is the stage where society is indeed a hierarchy of agentic social units with a few agentic individuals maintaining the meta-structure—eventually, the Empire. So (as was pointed out in chapter 9 concerning the nature of Capricorn) it is agentic individuals who sit at the top of the social structure and who drive the process of social communion, a social communion informed by the agentic impulse of individuals forcing different units together (Remember that individual agency is in Janus-faced relation with social communion together informing hierarchical complexity). But increasing expansion through hierarchy and patriarchy reaches a limit point after which the dialectics begin to shift toward a new telos. Through stage II as social communion and agency on the one hand and individual agency and communion on the other come more into balance, the principle of social development becomes increasingly less hierarchical. One of the most significant markers of this process is the development of democracy, the break with the global church through science and secularization, and most recently, the development of feminism and the new psychology where healthy individuals neither marginalize nor allow themselves to be marginalized by the other sex, bringing their assertions into better balance with their communions—logos with eros, reason with imagination, focus with contextuality, subject/object with subject/subject knowing, (I/it with I/Thou), individual autonomy with group resonance.

With the advent of the Protestant reformation and the rise of science affecting the breakup of the hierarchic structuration and cultural homogenization maintained by Church and Empire, there is a spread of agency among individuals, gradually correcting the most extreme imbalances of power. Beyond the old imperialism and colonialism, the interplay of social communion and individual agency from 4/10 through 5/11 takes on a more complex and sophisticated form, although such expansionist processes indeed continue through the modern period. But the modern nation-state emerges as a region asserting a new social agency, a new sense of social identity established by individual communions but now within a national rather than a tribal identity (though such a tribalism continues to rise into the twentieth century, for example, as German romantic 'volkish' movements and into the twenty first century as various reactionary fundamentalisms). The nation state condenses out of Empire through the differentiation process (the rising Day force through Q4) rather than through further inter-societal integration. The beginning of this shift gives rise to the dynamics of modernization leading toward a gender balance and a relaxing of extreme class divisions. Nevertheless, new class divisions based solely on economics are established through a largely unrestrained capitalist system rooted in stage-level I where excessive individual agency leads to global control and where the principle of 'social communion' unfolds in its lesser octave through a process of homogenization and mass commodification. Such an unrestrained capitalist system has slipped through the web of individual communal responsibility made possible through the dominance of the masculinist Enlightenment's liberal individual rights orientation over the 'feminine' collective/connective orientation, the latter manifest in its more masculinist form as the Marxist perspective.

So through stage-level II a new dialectical relation of individual and social drives development; no longer does consciousness develop primarily through the tension of increasing agency against the press of social conformity (i.e. social agency compelling individual communion as the primary dynamic) but as an increasingly complex interface of individual and society. Culture is no longer imposed from above (by church authority) but is created more and more by autonomous people (democracy, participation, scientific humanism). The ‘holonic logic’ that informs such a process must be a convergence rather than a divergence. In this process new socio-cultural groups, movements and associations are formed by active individual agents coming together in new modes of individual communion; new social agencies arise within the globalized (maximally communal) social structure involving new types of communions among relatively agentic or autonomous individuals. But this process not only takes a liberal progressive form, it also manifests as the reactionary resurgence of fundamentalist religious groups of a highly social agentic nature constituted, as they are, by communal and essentially unconconscious conforming individuals. Society complexifies away from structured hierarchies to processive fusions, diffusions, integrations and differentiations. Such a shifting and changing requires a new level of sophisticated autonomy along with new capacities for interpersonal association. In the postmodern capacity of the individual to equally embrace agency and communion we see fewer individuals confined to operating immediately and connectively within family, community or particular cultural belief systems. Rather, 'integrated' people range freely across family, community, nation, world, and across cultural milieus.


We have seen that a process of development through stage I is one of increasing differentiation and dualistic distinction. Development through stage II (the second and fourth quadrant dialectic) is necessarily grounded upon this primal separation. Within each quadrant (Q2 and Q4) the Day and Night force are gradually moving toward an equalization yet still grounded on the primal separation and repression. While stage I (mostly 1/7 and 2/8) unfolds from a predifferentiated state at primal concrete and organic levels, stage II brings forth a symbolic and mental structure grounded in the conceptual/linguistic 3/9 phase. The foundational infrastructure of this mental level is the primal bi-polar distinction—both the intrapsychic repression and the social suppression/division. The formative process of the stage II structure is impelled by the need for an integrative rebalancing of the foundational division at the core of things; through stage II, integration can occur only within the realm of 'mind' through the constructions of both 'psyche' and 'society'. While still largely fused with the collective through stage I, the body-ego is more and more asserting its distinctiveness. Born of these distinctions, the stage II mental-ego is now trying to unify—not to further distinguish itself through a separative tension. But the urge to such a unification and reconnection can be accomplished only by symbolically rising above the primal split rather than being able to heal the split. So the original primal split (consciousness born through tension with unconsciousness) cannot actually be re-integrated in stage II. Rather than a true integration of level I and II, a vertical compound structure is formed which is precisely the nature of the psyche at this stage. Again, this is significantly different from Wilber's overarching conception which pictures these levels as optimally enfolded within an holarchically integrated structure rather than, as in our model, forming, in necessarily dialectical fashion, only a relatively integrated and stratified structure.

Despite the mental-ego's integrative drive, the fundamental split remains and becomes the determinative force behind the efforts to heal it. The second quadrant mental-ego is then caught in an existential conflict—its fundamental project is impossible. “Man is a useless passion” cries Sartre. Such a complex predicament is absent at the simpler level of the first quadrant body-ego. It is the compound structure of the primal body-ego and the mental-ego: the total structure which is driven, through its existential pain, to seek liberation upon the Return arc. Stage-level III (the Q3/Q1 'both-and' dialectic) consists of an awakening to the fundamental polar connection underlying the original Q1/Q3 split which occured between the self and the other, the self and the world at the original primal, instinctual and sensory level. But we will see that even stage III—though it is transpersonal, going beyond the mental-ego—does not refer to the full integration of the mental-ego and the body-ego structures and levels. That integration and the consequent transcendence and liberation does not occur until stage IV (the Q4/Q2 'both-and' dialectic). We will be addressing these transpersonal issues in chapters 16, 17 & 18.

Continue to Chapter 11