Evolution did not begin with the birth of human consciousness, nor even with the advent of living organisms; it began with the Big Bang, and it was several billion years before anything that we could call a life form, and then later, a truly consciously intelligent life form, would appear. It is mental-social evolution grounded in the animal-biological dimension, and specifically in the homosapien brain, which we have mapped as structure-levels I and II. Rather than plotting development from the beginning of the evolution of the universe, our model as we have so far explicated it, traces the development of human consciousness through a sequence of archetypal deep structures from the point of its original emergence beyond simple animal awareness.
Given the remarkable fit between astrology's categories and significant developmental accounts of history and psychology, just as we extrapolated forward to the higher transegoic stages that lie beyond the Outward arc, I believe that we can similarly extrapolate back to the source of the developmental process of natural evolution. This would of course be especially compelling for those who are convinced on the basis of general evidence that astrology actually works in practice. If the astrological categories were an empirical product of the formation of the solar system and Gaia (perhaps a complex formation of subtle energy fields stemming from the action of the solar system, in general conception, possibly analogous to the bending of time-space) then it would make no sense to assert that this picture could actually map the very evolution of the cosmos itself before the formation of the solar system.1 That is, we would be entitled to extrapolate back to the advent of planetary life but not before. According to the interpretive case I offer here this would take us back only one half a cycle to stage 7/1 at the beginning of level B1. In chapter 23 I argue that the logical structure of astrological truth claims mitigates against any such purely naturalistic explanation for astrological effects. Anticipating this argument and coupled with the interpretive necessity of a missing half cycle, I want to extrapolate back to the advent of the biosphere, and then back further to the Big Bang, or to whatever other conception of cosmic origins may be advanced by physics such as David Bohm's implicate order and the holomovement. While the birth of an organism cannot be reasonably said to be recapitulating the process of the birth of the physical cosmos, both the birth of the cosmos and the birth of the first living cells can be said to share, at different levels, the enaction of the same archetype, namely, the horizon. Since the horizon represents beginnings, the beginning of any differentiating and complexifying process, the ground of emergence, it is logical that in terms of the prior cosmic evolution that the beginning of things be marked at axis A/D.
In this chapter I suggest a way of mapping both the structures and evolutionary stages of cosmos and biosphere which best accords with the archetypal map we are given. Since I have no expertise in quantum physics, cosmology or biology, I offer only a crude archetypally overarching sketch of the cosmic and biospheric levels conceived in the broadest of strokes and drawing mainly on the work of Erich Jantsch, Ervin Laszlo, Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry along with other generally available information on the stages of biospheric evolution. It remains for those persons who are swayed by this model and who are also knowledgeable in these fields to fill in relevant details or critique the alleged archetypal resonances.
Four grand double levels are pictured:
1. Cosmic Evolution (A/D to N/M and N/M to D/A)
2. Biological Evolution (D/A to M/N and M/N to A/D).
3. Mental-social Evolution. (A/D to N/M and N/M to D/A). (Old levels I and II)
4. Transpersonal Development (D/A to M/N and M/N to A/D. (Old levels III &IV)
FIGURE 7 The Four Ontological Levels
In chapter 16 I introduced the new nomenclature for identifying and distinguishing the eight ontological levels: Our old levels I and II become Noospheric 1 and 2, or N1 and N2. (Level N should not be confused with point N). Old levels III and IV will now be renamed, T1 and T2. The cosmic and biospheric levels constituting a grand cycle of development prior to and subtending noospheric and transpersonal levels will be named C1 and C2 and B1 and B2 respectively.
The 'Physical ' Cosmos and the Birth of Organisms
According to systems scientist Erich Jantsch’s account of cosmic evolution, an account adopted by Ken Wilber in his later work, from out of predifferentiated chaos the Big Bang produces simultaneously both the macrocosm and the microcosm. Macrocosm and microcosm are to be mapped as parallel lines of development which converge in terms of size, rather than the macro being conceived simply as the organization of the micro on a large scale. "That microscopic systems are just subsystems of the macroscopic ones...is a view which stems from a static understanding which tempts to formulate world order in dualistic terms."(p.9) In fact, this holonic polarity which defines the foundational morphology of the universe at all levels constitutes the fundamental dialectic of all upward complexifying development. As Jantsch describes
Evolution acts in the sense of simultaneous and interdependent structuration of the macro- and micro-world. Microevolution (such as the emergent forms of biological life) itself generates the macroscopic conditions for its continuity and macroevolution itself generates the microscopic autocatalytic elements which keep its processes running. This complementarity marks an open evolution which reveals ever new dimensions of novelty and exchange with the environment. It is not adaptation to a given environment that signals a unified overall evolution, but the coevolution of system and environment at all levels, the coevolution of micro and macrocosmos.(p75).
The view that "micro and macrocosmos are both aspects of the same, unified and unifying evolution" accords with the bi-polarity of the first and second hemispheres, the individual/social bi-polar structure of the astrological picture, a way of framing things so that complementarily societies are understood as something more than simply systems of individuals interrelating to form a large structure. In fact, Wilber's Upper and Lower quadrants (individual and social) are mapped at the bottom, or physiospheric level as, microcosm and macrocosm. So in terms of the spatial characteristics which define the cosmic pre-biological level C, there seems a clear logical correspondence of the macrocosm to the astrological social second hemisphere (southern) and of the microcosm to the individual first hemisphere ('northern').
From the level of galaxies and atoms (points M & N. See Figs 7 & 10), the poles of the macro and the micro, we need to recognize two fundamental modes of development—a differentiating or precipitative mode and an additive or combining mode. While within both macro and micro domains development occurs through an interactivity of differentiation and integration, within each realm, one or the other principle can be seen as the dominant mode from a holonic point of view. Crudely put, through strong and weak nuclear forces, atomic nuclei are synthesized following which atoms combine with atoms to form molecules and so on. Under the force of gravitation, galaxies precipitate or condense out to form stars, planets and so on. "As the entire complex system plus environment evolves as a whole" (Jantsch, p.85), in agreement with the astrological model where we trace from point M to A to N complementarily with the trajectory from N to D to M, the macrocosmic line is moving toward the microcosm as the microcosmic line is moving toward the macrocosm. Jantsch and the astrological model are in accord on this feature. See Jantsch's pictures (Figs 8 & 9). The macro and micro lines of the 'physical' world converge "on cool planetary surfaces where the formation of crystals in microevolution meets with rock formations in macroevolution" (Jantsch, p94).
It is of central significance that the transition from the pre-biological to the biological, is reached when the evolution of the macrocosm has converged, not in precise size (that awaits the mesocosm at M/N), but in creatively interactive location with the evolution of the microcosm.2 A jump to a new level, the advent of life, occurs when micro and macro converge to produce a creative interpenetrating fusion that brings forth what is at once a global superorganism (A) and a global society of organisms (D). We need to understand this first great horizontal dividing line on the vertical axis in terms of the Gaia hypothesis of Lovelock and Margulis. Both a complex and global society of the most primitive cellular life forms and an actual superorganism, Gaia is the 'breathing' earth itself as an open and evolving system in relation to the sun and solar system. Gaia is nothing other than the foundational matrix for all life on earth. The physicodynamics of the earth have evolved in interdependent relation with the action of these primitive life forms—the prokaryotes—which have formed an oxygen-producing web which covers the entire earth. From this basis, after thousands of millions of years, a higher self-organizing and composite cell emerged, the eukaryotic cell which is a hierarchical structure grounded in the prokaryote. As Erich Jantsch describes the higher order cells: "Today, the majority of all living species—green algae, higher plants, fungi, protozoa (single cell organisms) and animals—consists of eukaryotic cells. Only this new cell is capable of forming cell tissues and giving rise to multicellular organisms." (p122). The more primitive prokaryotes were then both taken up in the higher structure of the eukaryote while also continuing to exist as interdependent parts of the Gaian fabric.
The first level from A/D we have labled, stage-level C1. At the Big Bang, both time and space come into existence. At stage-level C1, the 'individual' first quadrant denotes the differentiation of subatomic particles from the point of creation—the quantum realm with all the amazing properties of quantum space. Swimme and Berry describe this early quantum state of affairs:
The first particle interactions were not fixed and determined in the way they are today. There was an element of freedom, of randomness, associated with these interactions. The electrons, positrons, the quarks, the neutrinos had not yet achieved their identity. They enjoyed a chaotic freedom of possibilities they would later be denied. (p18)
At this same level C1, the 'social' third quadrant denotes early galactic clusters, dark matter, the basic cosmological mysteries hidden in time, precisely the dimensions being investigated by 20th and 21st century astro-physics. From the level of the original subatomic particles (micro differentiation process of Quadrant 1) and galactic clusters (macro expanding process of Quadrant 3), eventually galaxies, now capable of seeding stars and heavy atoms, take form, a process appropriately symbolized by points M and N respectively. Stage N/M is the very point where the notion of a locatable 'thing' or 'entity' begins to take form; thus, most abstractly, the meridian signifies foundational structure. "Only because expansion met the obstacle of gravitation did the galaxies come forth" writes Swimme and Berry, thus revealing the dynamic action of the tenth principle (M & ruler Saturn--through the Meridian) operating as the limiting point of cosmic third quadrant expansion (i.e. as a containing force; not as a static structure). And capturing the increasing Night force dynamic of the third quadrant (level C1): "The Universe, by expanding itself and by transforming micro-ripples of space-time into macro fluctuations that fractured the universe into a trillion parts, initiated the birth of galactic clouds." (Swimme & Berry. p34). Simultaneously and complementarily, the first quadrant marks a development from baryons and simple nuclei to the primordial atoms of hydrogen and helium: "The laws constituted among the elementary particles continue, but a new weave of order emerges with the creation of these primordial atoms. Hydrogen does not enter the universe as a new thing in an established and fixed world; rather hydrogen enters and weaves a new universe." (S & B p33). "With emergence of the primordial atoms and the galaxies the creative capabilities were again transformed to a new level." (S & B p63). From the beginning of stage-level C2, at N/M (atoms and galaxies), we can trace cosmic development up to D/A, the advent of the very first life forms, the beginning of the bio-physical level B1.
Through the fourth quadrant, stage-level C2, the tenth principle denotes the formation of galaxies. As we move into the eleventh principle, first stars, and then planets condense out. "The galaxies collapsed hydrogen clouds into stars and the universe once more burst into radiance" (S & B. p34) Then, with the condensation of the planets within our particular star system, the geological earth situated appropriately in relation to the sun, would give rise to rock formations, the oceans, and the earth's chemodynamics—a vast holistic state of pregnancy, an earth about to give birth that we can map appropriately in terms of the twelfth principle. Correspondingly through the second quadrant, the fourth principle denotes the foundational atom; the fifth principle, the more holarchically complex molecule; the sixth principle, crystals and organic macromolecules (including amino acids). The equilibrium systems of crystals (6th) and rock formations/water (12th) precede the appearance of dissipative structures (Prigogene 1984) which are the conditions of "prebiotic evolution" (p.99), which Jantsch places on the micro line (our 6th) in relation to planetary chemodynamics (our 12th).
The Cross-Over Dynamic
Cosmic development is to be understood in terms of the dynamic dialectical principles of differentiation and integration or condensation and additive connection. In terms of the holonic interplay of agency (maintenance of individual structure) and communion (relational interchange and symbiosis) interpreted at the spatial level, we can say that galaxies are communal in their relationship to other galaxies which in part constitutes their reality and without which they would not be what they are. "Each galaxy is directly connected to the hundred billion galaxies of the universe, and there will never come a time when a galaxy's destiny does not involve each of the galaxies in the universe." S & B. p.77. But it is in their internal structure— defined in the strictly structural/spatial sense—that they differentiate into planets and stars etc. That is, the developmental line from galaxies to Gaia is the macro developing through a movement toward increasing agency. Opposing and parallel to this process, atoms combine in their communal mode with other atoms in their surrounding environment to move toward Gaia.
In Wilber's Four Quadrant model we see Micro and Macro mapped at the lowest levels of the Individual and Social quadrants. But this does not reveal the developmental dynamics of differentiation and integration, specifically the Day and Night forces of the astrological model. And contrary to Jantsch's precise model, biosocial communities— which indeed fall in the domain of the macro (our second hemisphere)—are not a simple continuation of the macrocosmic differentiation process. Although the sequence, galaxies to stars to planets to rocks is a logical differentiation or 'condensation' (the rising Day force through the fourth quadrant), the linear step from planetary rocks to ecosystems and societies as depicted in Wilber's model seems to be rather arbitrary and logically nonsequential despite all entities falling within the macro category. Similarly, while atom combines with atom to form a molecule and molecule combines with molecule to form a cell (the rising Night force through the second quadrant), the next step in this logical sequence is not simply cell combining with cell to form a multicellular higher level structure but is rather a process involving both macro and micro across Q2 and Q4, namely, the Gaia system. Galaxies, planets, rocks, ecosystems, and societies (see Jantsch) are indeed macro just as atoms, molecules, cells, and organisms are micro. But something changes with the convergence and direct interactivity of macro and micro which Gaia represents. Gaia is a fusion and total convergence of the macro and micro lines, the interpenetration of earth's chemodynamics and crust with the prokaryotes: "The autocatalytic units in this system which make possible the formation of a dissipative structure far from equilibrium and maintain the through-flow of the various gases are none else but the prokaryotes". (p.116)
After this confluence, a simple parallel continuence is not logically feasible. (See Fig 10). This difference between the cosmic and biospheric levels in terms of the individual/social distinction in relation to the differentiation/integration trajectory is reflected in the fact that there is something logically different between the macro sequence of galaxies to planets on the one hand and the macro sequence of ecosystems to societies on the other. The difference between 'individual' and 'social' in the cosmic and biological levels is also reflected in the fact that there is something logically different in terms of a parallel coevolution between the structural relationship of molecules and planets on the one hand and the interactive relationship of organisms and societies on the other. The astrological model demonstrates that the advent of life is precisely the coming together of the macro and micro lines which in Wilber's model do not converge. As we cross the horizon and move into level B1, the astrological model continues to arrange these sequences in the appropriate macro and micro categories but is now mapping the beginning of a totally new level, the level of self-organizing life. A new deep structure within the hierarchy is being adequately mapped at the end of cosmic evolution and at the beginning of biospheric evolution.3
In Jantsch's modelling, the macro/micro distinction is taken as the sole criterion of parallel development and, as such, it fails to adequately reveal the the relevant dialectical dynamics. Nevertheless, Jantsch describes the macro line as an increasing differentiation or condensation which forms the stars, planets and rocks:
[A]ccording to the simple condensation model...the formation of stars is imagined in such a way that clouds of interstellar matter...condense into a multiplicity of protostellar clouds....in the case of the sun, the protostellar cloud reached beyond the orbit of Pluto...it is estimated that the sun contracted within a decade from a diameter corresponding to the orbit of Mercury. (p.89).
On the other hand, the micro line is an additive and associative line. But societies (at any level) are additive so that, while they still fall within the macro category, they are actually the logical (archetypal) continuation of the original micro line. The astrological model reveals this logic as we move up from point N across point D into the third quadrant (the trajectory from N to D to M through the Western hemisphere). That is, within the individualizing lower hemisphere, atoms (4th) come together to form molecules (5th) which come together to form simple prokaryotic cells (late 6th); then these cells associate, not directly to form the higher level eukaryotic cells (a transformation which does not occur until phase 8/2, level B2), but to form Gaia, a socially related interconnected fabric which forms the basis for all future societies constituted by more complex organisms. Gaia is both macro and micro—the result of an interpenetration of the physical crust and its elements (12th) and the emergent dissipative structures and prokaryotes (6th). Gaia is both superorganism and a global social network—an undifferentiated penetration at D/A of the first and seventh principles. Hence Gaia can be symbolized only by the horizon and not solely by the ecosystemic and social seventh principle. Jantsch has Gaia modelled on his macro line which is not quite correct. Contrary to Jantsch's diagram, prokaryotes do not stand in relation to Gaia in the same logical sense that molecules (5th) stand in relation to planets (11th). Logically speaking, molecules do not interact with planets, but prokaryotes do interact with the planetary chemodynamics to form Gaia which then, as an integrated superorganism, produces higher level living forms and their social orders—"the biosphere creates its own microscopic life." (Jantsch, p.9) Just as we cannot go in a simple linear sequence from planets to Gaia to ecosystems (as does Jantsch and Wilber), we cannot go—in parallel—through a simple sequence from molecules to prokaryotes to eukaryotes. Gaia means the relational web of prokaryotes and the earth's physico-dynamic structures and elements. Prokaryotes therefore lead, through their next step, to the social dimension (i.e. prokaryotes in the late sixth point toward D, the ground of the seventh principle and subsequent social eco-systemic formations—not a simple continuation of the individual micro line). But prokaryotes also persist as individuals which stand over against the social fabric (D) and in association with it, logically, from point A. It is their relation to Gaia which forms the next stage of hierarchic stratification to form the substructure of eukaryotic cells (phase 8/2, level B1). This is no simple linear sequence. The prokaryotes, in integral association with the earth, produce the Gaian fabric and, in individual-based association with the planetary conditions created by the Gaian fabric, eventually produce the eukaryotes and their ecosystems. Thus, with the formation of the living cell from dissipative structures (6th) in relation to planetary chemodynamics (12th) in far from equlibrium conditions, a new level order of life is generated from D/A.
In summary, we do not see organisms coming together with other organisms to form a superorganism along this same line (from N through the second quadrant). Rather, once point D is reached, this associative and connective trajectory from point N (atoms) begins to produce societies. From point N and beyond point D, the biological level's further associative connection now manifests as society, based on the proto or foundational society, Gaia—that is, Gaia seen as a global society (other than as a superorganism at A). Since Gaia is the combination of prokaryotes (6th) and earth's physico-dynamics (12th), then, as said, Gaia appears both as proto-society (D) and as planetary superorganism (A). As sixth principle prokaryotes come together as the logical next step, not to form a new hierarchic multicellular organism, but to form a social web at D, so does the twelfth principle planetary crust, hydrosphere, and proto-biosphere come alive as one superorganism—not a superorganism as solely a hierarchy of prokaryotes, but as a blended marriage of the society of prokaryotes (D) with the unity of planetary earth (A). So Gaia at A logically forms the prototype of the new biological Level I of living multicellular autopoietic organisms in relation to their ecosystemic and social environments at D (7th).
At the biospheric level, the upper hemisphere (third and fourth quadrants) properly signifies the species mind, social cooperation and general adaptive interactivity with the natural environment, while the lower hemisphere (first and second quadrants) signifies the dynamics and structure of the particular organism as well as its evolutionary mutations and differentiations. The second/first hemispheric dynamic symbolizes the co-evolution of organism and environment where living forms effect profound changes in the physical environment and are in turn profoundly altered by it giving rise leading to ever new and more complex species. In accordance with the astro-archetypal geometry, just as the deep structures of the preliving cosmos, the noosphere, and the theosphere (levels C, N & T) consist of two substructures, so too does the biosphere. From Big Bang to Gaia, following the same cyclic rhythm as our original Outward and Return arcs, the emphasized tone is first hemispheric (atom to molecule to cell to organism). And now from Gaia to humans the emphasized tone moves through the second hemisphere, signifying that at the animal level, emerging mind and consciousness is, from the beginning, a species or group mind, a collective unconscious; everything is invested in the species. Just as the body-ego at level N1 provides the foundation for the mental-ego at level N2, so does structure-level B1 provide the foundation for the development through B2 of the vertebrate nervous system and brain capable of an increasing degree of individuation in which further evolution is driven more and more by acts of indeterminate or individual 'free' choice.
I’ll briefly sketch the historical developments in parallel to the astrological principles:
We begin with stage/level 7/1 grounded in the horizon's Gaian web of prokaryotes interactive with the earth's physicodynamics and chemical constitution, a global web of bacteria still existent and foundationally active today. I think we can describe stage-level 7/1 as reaching back approximately 4 billion years and spanning perhaps 2 billion years of biospheric development from bacteria to the advent of more complex cells, the eukaryotes. Energy for survival was ensured through scavenging and later through photosynthesis. During this long period profound alterations in the chemical constitution of the atmosphere occured. Those cells with the capacity to utilize the heavy carbon in the atmosphere became the most successful, leading to a decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide while the absorption of hydrogen from the ocean by these early life forms gradually increased the levels of atmospheric oxygen which would eventually threaten them with extinction.
Then approximately two billion years ago, a new cell, a cyano-bacterium, emerged which was capable of utilizing oxygen, giving it an energy advantage over other cells. Further mutations of this line would lead to the development of a more complex cell produced first through a form of parasitism—the eukaryotic cell already mentioned. Here, I believe we reach the next great phase represented by the 8/2 structure. The advent of sexual reproduction with its consequent genetic diversity as well as the emergence of predation or heterotrophy and development through cellular symbiosis is captured by the archetypal meaning of the 8/2 structure. Note that the textbook meaning of the eighth principle is sex and death as well as issues of interpersonal power dynamics, of being absorbed by or absorbing the other. What at the noospheric level becomes human tribal interactivity, rituals around sex and death, political power undercurrents, sado-masochism and so on is at the biospheric level, this primal cellular sexuality and symbiotic coevolution, an eighth principle dynamic fusion achieving a new complexity through a greater differentiation and integration of the individual/social relation, i.e. the organism/ecosystem relation. Swimme and Berry describe this critical step, a step from the Archean aeon to the Proterozoic aeon through which emerges a new developmental dynamic, an intensified co-evolution and more complex organism/ecosystem relation:
The first heterotrophs pushed relationship much further. They began to specialize in certain forms of prey who in turn coevolved — who adjusted genetically to their role as the prey of a particular kind of predator. The form, functioning and biochemistry of the prey began to reflect the form, functioning, and biochemistry of the predator, and vice versa. The predator heterotroph no longer lived in the symmetric world of the autotroph whose relationships with any one creature were the same as those with any other creature. Rather, the predator was vitally interested in one direction above all others, and in one form above all others, and in one form above all others, that of its prey. (S & B. p 105).
It was the preservation of new achievements through sexual reproduction within a particular species group that would eventually lead to the emergence of complex multicellular organisms through stage 9/3. "It is not multicellularity by itself that is the emergence of a new and higher-order autopoiesis. Multicellularity enabled new subjects to appear in the universe," (p109). This new organism "appeared with a mind of its own, training ten thousand cells on its particular aims." Clearly we see here, appropriately under the 9/3 principle, a complexifying leap producing mind.
The proliferation of multicellular marine life continued through stage 9/3 until symbollically approaching the M/N axis, a stage which would mark the transition from the Proterozoic eon to the first stage of the Phanerozoic eon where first a massive glaciation wiped out 80 to 90% of the world's species.
The emerging animals at the start of the Phanerozoic strove to increase in size until they entered the range of their optimal existence. This range of the optimum for multicellular creatures is the mesocosm, a domain in between the microcosm of the molecules and the macrocosm of planets and galaxies, a realm with its unique dynamics. If any creature from any phylum of Earth’s life were to be expanded toward the dimensions of the Milky Way, or shrunken to the dimensions of helium, the creature would perish far, far before it reached either of those other two realms. (Swimme and Berry. p114)
Most abstractly, the meridian signifies the foundational structure of each grand level; at level C it symbolizes the atom and the galaxy, the micro and macro. Advanced organisms including humans are situated at the midpoint between the macro M and the Micro N. So it is most archetypally appropriate that at this place in evolutionary development we reach the Meridian. During a relatively short period of time, the so-called Cambrian explosion, "the most primordial creativity responsible for fashioning the fundamental body plans would soon be finished. The animal phyla that survived the early catastrophe are all Earth would ever see. No new phyla would appear. All future animals would employ the same structures that appeared at that time." (p115). It was during this period that life, beginning with plantlife, would in tenth principle globalizing fashion, come to colonize the land. It was at this time that the necessary structures were formed for survival on the land, conferring the tensile strength necessary to support larger and more complex organisms under the influence of gravity (the Saturn principle). Here was established the architecture of the wood cell, the hard shell, the exoskeleton, and then eventually the endoskeleton which would allow the unconstrained growth of the brain leading to its most complex form in the human species. In nature's fundamental geometry, its basic designs or ideas, the basic phyla, the meaning of the ninth principle is expressed. Then in their actual further development, in the organic structural engineering through which these basic patterns were realized in ever more complex forms and specifically in the shell and skeletal structures, we see clearly the handprint of Saturn and the tenth principle.
In typical bi-valent fashion, the meridian functions as both a limiting force and as a foundation for a new beginning. Where the meridian stands as a limiting force, it symbolizes the exoskeleton of insects and arthropods. Although by itself the exoskeleton prevents further evolution of the brain, it serves a greater evolutionary purpose; without insects there could be no more complex forms such as mammals. But as the foundation of that which is called to develop through the next stage-level, the tenth principle symbolizes the endoskeleton and backbone of the vertebrates who alone carried the evolution of the brain beyond the B1 global bio-physical interface to eventually become the carrier of consciousness in the higher mammals and humans. The Paleozoic era which roughly corresponds to the 10/4 structure, came to an end in another great extinction eradicating approximately 80% of the world's species and marking the beginning of the Mesozoic era which I believe can be understood as corresponding to our 11/5 structure.
At this phase of evolution in the wake of a mass extinction of species, a unique situation occurs described by Swimme and Berry:
Mass extinctions rip apart the accomplished interrelatedeness of Earth's community. The remnants...cannot rely on what was effective previously, but often must develop new ways of relating to enveloping realities. With the ever-recurring genetic spontaneities, the surviving species have a plethora of new ways of life to explore. The advantage for such species is the very vacuity of the world, which addresses each new anatomical or behavioral invention with the same shrug of the shoulders—"Go ahead, try it out." The tight constraints of a world of rich community such as the later Paleozoic, were replaced by the "anything goes" world of the decimated Mesozoic era. (pp119-120)
Without an actual destruction of the phylogenetic ninth/tenth principle infrastructure, here is a release from the constraints of the global tightly knit tenth principle order which allows a free developmental experimentalism, bringing forth new increasingly individualized life forms—clearly an expression of the Aquarian/eleventh principle breaking with the established tenth. At this stage, the development of the brain in dinosaurs, birds and early marsupial mammals takes a clear leap forward beyond the reptilian brain. The eco-systemic web, having reached a maximum by M/N, is now 'broken open' to allow a new stream of individual development, a development which brings new forms of society, for example, the herd behaviour of many dinosaurs. A form of collectivism beyond the purely systemic group-mind behaviour (of insects for example) is emerging, a social ordering only possible once a certain degree of individual differentiation has occurred. This is precisely the archetypal prototype of the eleventh principle which is apparent at the noospheric level as the Aquarian pattern of individual free association replacing earlier instinctual-biological collectivization.
Toward the end of the Mesozoic era came the development of flowers with their reproductive fecundity which outstripped that of the conifers. "The flowering plants quickly diversified and spread throughout the continents. Their ecological success depended on such intricate symbioses, in what is sometimes called a survival of the most cooperative." (a key concept for Aquarius) (S & B. p122,123). Such changes in the planetary plantlife favoured the birds and early mammals over the dinosaurs who had evolved to feed on the gymnosperms. Then, at the end of the Mesozoic (Cretaceous) came the mass extinction of the dinosaurs as we move into the Cenozoic era symbolized by the 12/6 stage. It was precisely the extinction of the dinosaurs which allowed the development of mammalian life and the larger brain. In this period placental mammals (the 12th principle as womb) would flourish, eventually bringing forth hominids and eventually, homosapiens—the birth moment of human consciousness from out of the womb of the animal species mind, the beginning of noospheric level N. While some other higher species such as whales, great apes, early hominids, or even elephants had already crossed this point, only homosapiens could truly give birth to a whole new ontological level—the noospheric level.
Although my concern in this chapter is simply to suggest the correspondence of the evolutionary stage-structures and the astrological principles, it should be briefly mentioned that just as the Return arc of consciousness (level T) involves a downward interactivity with and affect upon the noospheric level (level N), so too does level B analogously stand in such a relation to level C. According to the Gaia hypothesis there is a vertical interactivity between the physico-dynamics of the Earth (top of level C) and evolving life (level B), so that developments through the stages and phases constituting level B are, to some extent, determined by and in turn determine geological and climatic changes such as tectonic shifts, continental drift, ice ages and so on. Various extinctions and also consequent evolutionary leaps and adaptations are testimony to this vertical interactivity as an essential component of the evolutionary process. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the effects—global warming and mass extinctions—that we humans are having on levels B and C.4
In an account of cosmic beginnings there is no need to commit to the precise physics of the Big Bang which, as new scientific theories come into fashion, is subject to possible change. But whatever the precise scientific theory, here is the emanation of the archetypal ground of this universe and possibly other universes, from some Ultimate Source. Rather than understanding the horizon at A/D as the Big Bang, some thinkers believe it more adequate to understand it simply as the beginning of manifestation, the emerging ripples of the quantum vacuum seen as the eternal fundament of any manifestation. Or the beginning may be seen as the 'collapse of the wave function' where a 'virtual' particle/wave becomes either a wave or a particle out of an undifferentiated sea of potentiality. The ground level—the quantum vacuum—can be seen as the archetypal cosmic ground of all that is to unfold beyond it. So what 'reality' is at its foundation, if we mean the reality of the cosmos or of nature, is an undifferentiated, possibly infinite, potentiality from which emerge through interactivity or 'dialogue' at all levels, particles and waves, individuals and collectives, particulars and fields. The 'collapse of the wave function'5 refers in quantum mechanics to that moment of observation where a complex set of probabilities are reduced to a single actuality. As Danah Zohar describes so simply:
According to the Uncertainty Principle, the wave and particle descriptions of being preclude one another. While both are necessary to get a full grasp of what being is, only one is available at any given time. Either we can measure the exact position of something like an electron when it manifests itself as a particle, or we can measure its momentum (its speed) when it expresses itself as a wave, but we can never measure both exactly, at the same time.(p26)....While we can measure wave properties, or particle properties, the exact properties of the duality must always elude any measurement we might hope to make." (p27). "At the moment of observation, or measurement, previously unobserved electrons that were both waves and particles become waves or particles." (p41)....something about the act of observation (or measurement) collapses the quantum wave function." (p42)...The quantum wave function contains many possibilities, and it can be up to us which of these will be elicited. (45). "Nothing in quantum theory itself suggests that observation or the observer 'creates' reality (the properties of subatomic particles). At the moment of observation, some dialogue between the quantum wave function and the observer (be this man or machine) evokes, and thus gives concrete form to, one of the many possible realities inherent within that wave function. But there is already the potential for some very definite sort of reality there—the wave function of a table can't collapse into a cat or a kangaroo. It can become only a table. (p48).
In The Quantum Self, Zohar attempts to construct a theory of the quantum mind, connecting ideas in quantum physics to human freedom and choice in a way that is more than metaphoric and seeking a ground for the "actual physics of human psychology and its moral and spiritual implications." (p.11) It is doubtful whether it is possible to derive the human mind from the quantum vacuum, yet the so-called metaphoric resonances are more significant than 'mere' analogy; rather, they are archetypal enactions at different levels of the Great Chain of Being. Consequently, we can say that the mind can very much be characterized in the quantum fashion, as does Zohar in terms of the periphery of virtual probabilities which, like the collapse of the wave function, moves into the classical concretion of a specific idea or choice.
Despite Wilber's denigration of the significance of the new physics limited as it is to describing the bottom levels of the hierarchic perennialist model (the lower regions of the Upper Right quadrant in his four-quadrant model), through the establishment of archetypal resonances all the way down, the new physics is indeed relevant to the working out of a more satisfactory paradigm. By exposing the paradoxes at the bottom levels, the new physics has indeed helped to open us to the archetypal commonalities of lower and higher levels. While N/M (beginning level C2) signifies the relation of microcosm and macrocosm which constitutes the manifest order (the very infrastructure of the physical and biological forms), A/D signifies the more paradoxical particle/wave relation which underlies the particular either/or nature of the quantum realm. But the macrocosm/microcosm relation is deceptive in that it seems more logically simple than it really is. The macrocosm is not simply the microcosm writ large. As we have seen, both exist in a parallel, even though a convergent relation—and that convergence results in life. Nevertheless, both macrocosm and microcosm have a tangible and simultaneous reality which is not entirely dependent on consciousness or perception bringing them into being. But prior to the N/M dualism (galaxies and atoms) stands the A/D either/or polarity. Here is the fundamental 'either/or' nature of things, the wave or the particle. Such a bi-polarity of wave and particle is not peculiar to the quantum realm since it applies equally to the living realm in the form of the polarity of collective and individual. Just as we cannot know an entity as particle and as wave simultaneously, neither can we comprehend simultaneously the individual and collective aspect of any being. It is not until the D/A axis is reached at T1 (old Level III) that this polarity can begin to enter consciousness as a 'both/and'. So all manifestation (from A/D, level C1 to D/A, end of Level N2 ) is structured by the complementarity principle, the foundational either/or of the manifest realm which shapes our very perception of reality—the very 'water' in which we 'fish' are swimming. At the horizon, as the first form of the A/D archetypal dialectic, the physical cosmos rests on the uncertainty/complementarity principle (Bohr/Heisenberg) while at a higher turn of the spiral the biological universe rests on the individual/collective, assertive/connective holonic bi-polarity.
Expressing the archetypal polarity of our model, Zohar writes: "The extent to which correlated nonlocal influences exist between apparently separate bodies or events depends on the extent to which a system is in a 'particle' or a 'wave' state. Particles behave more like separate individuals [Q1] and are less correlated; waves display a greater grouplike correlated behaviour pattern [Q3]." (p.37). The basic choice, freedom and intentionality characterizing noospheric A/D indeed directly resonate archetypally with cosmic A/D, the collapse of the wave function, the concretization of the act (or particle), and more deeply, with the beginning of things. The movement from the threshold to the transpersonal to the ultimate merging with Source marks the final transformation of this either/or dynamic, the dynamic which has informed the manifest cosmos and human society. The nonliving physical cosmos appears to constitute the 'basement' of the double spiral perennialist hierarchy of being, and is constituted by the same foundational archetypal categories as are all higher levels.
Something 'Prior to' or Subtending the Big Bang
Now whether cosmic beginnings are best understood in terms of a Big Bang or through some other scientific explanation, the nature of a nonrandom cosmogenesis has given rise to different scientific accounts. Ervin Laszlo points out that models such as Prigogene's chaotic structures (dissipative, nonequilibrium) from which emerge higher levels of order—as valid and significant as they are—are insufficient by themselves to account for the increasing order of the universe because they would lead to nothing but creative diversity and divergence. Even, as important and valid as is Sheldrake's theory of morphic resonance and biological morphogenetic fields, it paints an essentially conservative picture in which the universe and its life forms tend to adopt certain habits which preserve the past rather than generating new orders, consequently, insufficently accounting for the divergence and emergence of the new. From the beginning, something is going on which suggests a process of cosmic self referential ordering. Although it is conceived within a different and more classical conception of physics, David Bohm's theory of the holomovement, an 'implicate order' or substratum of the manifest or explicate order, also points to the apparent source of the cosmos beyond manifestation—namely, to a kind of disturbance or informing ripple within the holomovement rather than to a dramatic Big Bang. But according to Laszlo, Bohm's more classical theory does not give rise to a truly evolving universe but rather one that simply brings into manifestation that which already exists in an implicate order, one that 'subsists'.
Bearing in mind both the validity and the limitations of such theories as those of Prigogene and Sheldrake, Laszlo emphatically rejects the notion of randomness as a satisfactory explanation for the eventual evolution of living forms. He writes: "A random process in a randomly constituted universe could perhaps produce atoms, molecules and crystals, but it is unlikely to achieve the higher rungs of complexity; the fine-tuning of the universal constants required for this process, is statistically improbable." (p.194). In the moments just following the Big Bang, things had to be precisely what they were for generating the heavier elements beyond hydrogen and helium which were neccessary for the eventual formation of planets and of life. Laszlo asks, "How is it that the values of the universal constants were precisely tuned to the evolution of life at a time when life in the cosmos could not yet have evolved?" (p.203) For Laszlo, such increasing order is a convergence possible only in a self referential cosmos; that is, in a universe capable of learning. "Because at present the universal constants are finely tuned, we may assume that the current cycle has not been the first. For the self-referential scenario, the evolution that the standard scenario views as the complete lifetime of the universe is but one of a potentially infinite sequence of evolutionary cycles." (p.208). A level of order lying beyond the usual big bang theory, or its variations, is implied. "The universe we observe was not created out of an unexamined pre-existing vacuum, but arose as a new cycle within an already existing cosmic background." (p.202) A reality must be postulated as lying in some sense prior to the manifest universe.
What Laszlo is referring to here involves the issue of the anthropic cosmological principle, a principle explored extensively in historical, philosophical and scientific-mathematical terms by Barrow and Tipler. The anthropic principle grows out of the observation that pure chance at the beginning could not possibly explain the later advent of carbinaceous living forms, because early conditions had to be almost precisely what they were to allow the later evolution of life. In its so-called weakest form, the WAP (the weak anthropic principle) states, in effect, that originating conditions had to be what they were in order for there to be humans to later come to observe them. Despite the apparent tautological nature of this formulation, it nevertheless (beyond its usefulness in physics in the understanding of the processes of heavy element formations in stars) suggests that pure naturalistic chance as an explanation of things both at the beginning and at the advent of life is simply not an adequate paradigm. The naturalistic thinker who wishes to avoid mystical notions such as God or an originating teleological Ground is compelled to look to theories such as an infinity of Big Bangs which would allow the advent by pure chance of a cosmos capable of giving rise to living forms. This need not concern us here —as with many of the scientific-mathematical demonstrations and hypotheses presented in Barrow and Tipler within an essentially scientistic and naturalistic paradigm. Below when I suggest, in passing, the theory of many worlds, I do so on strictly metaphysical and transpersonal grounds, and not out of the need to account for the anthropic principle.6
Stating that "though they are not observable in themselves, fields are just as real as any other physical entity", (p.129) Laszlo postulates a fifth field beyond the known four fields: the gravitational, the electromagnetic, and the strong and weak nuclear fields. The manifest and particulate world in its constantly ordering divergent and convergent process is to be understood as interactive wave forms within the quantum vacuum, Laszlo's psi field. "In the emerging paradigm the real face of quanta is the wave-aspect; the corpuscular aspect is but the 'phenomenon' created in the context of experiment and observation....When we measure quanta, we must know that we are measuring wave-patterns in a sub-quantum field." (p.212, 213). According to Laszlo:
How the facts of nature are generated cannot be understood in the simplest possible scheme by taking the interactions of quanta as 'primitive' (that is, unexplained) givens. The interactions in question are already highly complex—they have been generated by prior interactions. The simplest possible scheme by which to bind together the observed facts has to be grounded at a deeper level: at the level of the field that interconnects the quanta. This level, as we said, must be assumed to be highly structured and information-rich. It is the level of the quantum vacuum: where the interactive dynamics that generates the observed facts is rooted. (p.224,225).
In light of such a fundamental dimensionality postulated as subtending the manifest universe or preceding the Big Bang scenario, it is interesting that Rupert Sheldrake rejects the idea that nature's laws are in some sense grounded in a prior order, seen as a teleological and Neoplatonic cosmos. His view that nature's laws are like habits establishing long-standing behavioural grooves rather than like Platonic forms or pre-existing principles, may well be valid in terms of the mathematics of the physical, but his morphic fields and morphic resonance themselves constitute the phenomenon of habituation which is a characteristic of the cosmos which itself must be derived from some prior 'order'. But this order does not have to be so monolithically teleological and predetermining as linear Neoplatonic conceptions would imply. I believe that the proposed order which determines even Sheldrake's fields is the archetypal picture which we (albeit, most sketchily at the cosmic and biological levels) are trying to articulate through the principles of astrology.
An Alternative to the NeoPlotinian Involutionary Model
By first extrapolating back to the origin of the biosphere at D/A, and back beyond that to the Big Bang (perhaps the resultant of possible previous 'big crunches' and big bangs), we arrive at the cylindrical bi-polar model in Fig. 7. According to Wilber such levels or deep structures are constituted by the prior involution from the Source at the top, dropping down layer by layer and fading off into the virtual and bottomless darkness. But such a view of this lowest of domains does not coincide with views such as Laszlo's which infer a dynamic and formative dimensionality lying beneath the manifest cosmos and giving rise to the quantum world. The notion of involving spirit fading off into the bottomless darkness and then springing back, simply does not seem plausible. For instance, if things are as Wilber describes them—"holons all the way down"—what point, does it reach before it springs back, if the cosmos is bottomless? I suggest that the 'bottomlessness' of the quantum world is indeed a correct intuition, but it would need to refer, not to a 'turn about', but to an emergence or emanation from the Ultimate Source or Creative Void (at the 'bottom'). Nevertheless, Wilber is correct at locating Source 'above' —beyond mind, soul, and spirit. But how do we understand a Source both at the bottom and at the top? The answer is surely that the two Sources are the same Source; consequently, our bi-polar spiralic cylinder actually curves back upon itself.
So it is that our cylinder needs to be seen as a hyper-circle and cycle, a cosmic Torus (doughnut) which maps the evolving universe and its increasingly conscious life forms. Such a modelling accords in part with the ancient Hindu myth where Brahma falls asleep as endless worlds (the sleep of Brahma is not dead matter but is immensely creative, perhaps analogous to an active dream of Brahma) and eventually, through describing the trajectory of all manifestation, comes back to a full awakening to Himself. At all levels, astrology displays the wisdom of circles and cycles rather than straight lines and I believe that given the elegance of the archetypal resonance between the mandala and the torus—the circling spirals and the hyper-circle formed by them—the torus model is the logical consequence of our cyclinder model. Many features of the multifaceted transpersonal vision are better described by the torus than by the linear involution/evolution and neo-Plotinian emanation model. Such an involutionary drop away from Godhead or Absolute Source followed by an evolutionary 'return', whether conceived as emanating rays of spiritual light or as concentric ever more contained and limited circles, remains a linear series of steps even if conceived as a cycling back and forth along many strings as Wilber later introduces in his more multidimensional model. It is from this base-line metaphor that androcentric distortions arise as well as the spurious accusations of triviality that Wilber directs against the foundational physics of such as Capra, Bohm, or Wade (and others, especially those who adopt Bohm's implicate/explicate concept). I wish to suggest another and more satisfactory way of envisioning the base-line metaphor of creation which combines both 'masculine' and 'feminine' metaphors evoked by contemplation of the Torus hyper-cycle.
It has been a short logical step to bending the top of our cylinder down and around to link up with the bottom to form a hyper-cycle, a cosmic Torus within which the bipolar spiral unfolds all the way 'up' and back to the Source, but in such a way that the full arc of creation is maintained (see Fig 11). The Torus model actually provides us with a way of understanding the foundational interplay of evolution and involution so as to preserve the idea of evolution as a free and indeterminate dynamic creativity rather than as an unfolding of that which was priorly implicated or involved. Yet at the same time, this model preserves the notions of emanation, involution and telos.
I suggest a cosmogonic metaphor as an emanation from the Source of two arms suggestive of the primary Yin and Yang of Taoism. Metaphorically, we are saying, "From the One arises Two, from the Two arises Many". In the diagram of the Torus, the lower arc, the one which gives rise to the cosmos, I call (arbitrarily) the 'Right Arm', The upper arc I call the Left Arm. The Right Arm signifies the Yang, or positive pole, the dynamic of creation, of becoming out of darkness. The Right Arm marks the active creation of the 'material' cosmos (and endless manifest 'cosmoses', perhaps suggested by the 'many-worlds' hypothesis of quantum theory), not in the Deist sense of the creator of a blind mechanism but rather, as the direct and inevitable expression of the 'unconsciousness of God', the night of God. The 'Left Arm' is the negative pole, the Yin, and the final or telic cause—the consciousness of God, the Day of God. This brings us to the question of the nature and relation of spirit and matter, consciousness and the preliving cosmos; it brings us to the traditional mind-body problem and specifically to the way our model bears upon this issue.
FIGURE 11 The Torus Model
1. The issue of whether, in terms of astrology's own claim to legitimacy, we are logically entitled to project the picture back to the cosmic level prior to planetary formation, is addressed in chapter 23.
2. If we are seeing this also in terms of size and not solely creative interactive location, then it is interesting that according to Barrow and Tipler (1988, p12), the mass of a planet is the geometric mean of an atomic mass and the mass of the entire universe, while the mass of a human is the geometric mean of a planetary and an atomic mass. We can play with these facts so that if our point M is taken to signify the entire universe, that is, all galaxies, and point N the atom, then the horizon, as the earth itself, is rightly situated at the convergent midpoint of M and N. But if we are interpreting M as a specific galaxy, say, our Milky Way, while N signifies the atom, then the horizon should fall somewhere between the size of the earth and the size of a cell which accords more with how I am interpreting the horizon at Gaia.
3. It is precisely when this convergence on the horizon happens again, that we see the advent of homosapiens where 'species intelligence' has come more into a balance with emergent 'individual intelligence'. Then again, the convergence denotes the balancing of conscious agency and communion at the advent of the transpersonal.
4. Consistent with our astro-transpersonal modelling, Frank Poletti has called for a bioregional astrology which takes into account the archetypal interconnectivity of the physical, biological and human levels, which looks "at the dynamic interaction between transit cycles and bioregional landscapes to see how they together co-create the metapatterns of human culture." He asks,"Do specific regions and cultures express certain archetypes more saliently than others because they have been particularly suited to channel or bring forth specific energetic potentialities of the earth's larger wholeness? Is it possible that the archetypal complexes could have influenced not only human cultural evolution but the earth's geological evolution as well, such that uniquely tailored bioregions were deliberately developed in order to express a specific archetypal pattern on earth?" He concludes, "This hypothesis suggests that human culture can be seen as a further participatory enactment of Gaia's own latent archetypal patterning that was to some extent deliberately developed during the course of Gaia's geophysical evolution."
5. There are arguments that the collapse of the wave function through consciousness brings back mind/matter dualism. The physicist Eugene Wigner is a proponent of the view that it is the observer's consciousness which collapses the quantum wave function rather than the physical apparatus, including the eye and brain which are aspects of the physical measuring setup. As Jeremy Hayward writes: "Wigner himself maintains that this whole argument shows that the laws governing consciousness must be entirely outside of the laws governing matter. And so the duality of mind and matter is reborn." (p23) And as Zohar concurs: "Those who conclude that consciousness collapses the wave function because its nature is essentially nonphysical commit themselves and quantum physics to the old Cartesian view that mind and matter are separate entities. They view consciousness as something necessarily outside the physical world and thus as something alien to it." (p43) I believe that this possibly valid view does not imply Cartesian dualism which is an altogether inadequate articulation of the genuine intuition of duality which results from the bi-valency of the original emanation from Source as mapped by the Torus model. The Source is foundational to both the cosmic ground of potentiality (Right) and the realm of pure archetypal spirit (Left). So in a sense, consciousness is indeed alien to matter mixing up as it were as the path of evolution and realizing their essential identity only at Source, not even as high level Spirit (Level IV). This view obviates the need for the panexperientialist thesis (Whitehead, Griffin) which puts mind back into the cosmos at the subatomic level by ascribing a shadow of consciousness, a prehension, to subatomic particles. But this questionable and anti-intuitive notion is really a strategy to save the naturalistic view of the cosmos, albeit at some cost to the old materialist world view.
6. In the stronger interpretations of the anthropic principle presented by Barrow and Tipler which express not only the inevitable outcome of intelligent life but a concept of cosmic evolution where intelligence is seen as even eventually taking over the cosmic process itself (the final anthropic principle FAP), the process is interpreted in purely concrete and material terms as the colonization of the galaxy by human intelligence and its self replicative extensions (Von Neumann probes etc.) which in the terms of 'artificial intelligence' thinking are seen as 'living beings'. From the transpersonal perspective and specifically the astro-transpersonal model we are presenting here (and without without eliminating the technological possiblity of intersteller space exploration), 'the evolution of the universe' does not mean the ever-evolving physical cosmos but the evolution of physical forms or instruments capable of receiving the involution of spirit, first as Gaia—cellular life cum physical Earth—then as self-reflexive mind-bodies.