Since the flourishing of the modern world view in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, astrology has become the marginalized poor cousin of recognized knowledge disciplines, excluded from serious consideration of its possible epistemological merit. That astrology has not 'proven' itself to a science largely grounded in an objectivist and quantitative paradigm is to be expected. The idea that a ‘bunch of lifeless rocks’ moving around the sun could be significantly related not only systemically to certain bio-physical dynamics of Gaia, but synchronistically and archetypally related to the most subtle and complex dimensions of human experience is an idea that has been consistently rejected a priori by naturalistic physicalists, even by those of a new-science persuasion. But that astrology be denied its rightful place in the field of transpersonal studies—the field that profoundly challenges the prevailing paradigm through its serious investigation of the transcendent—is neither understandable nor acceptable. For the transpersonalist who embraces a transcendent ontology, there can justifiably be no such a priori ontological grounds for the exclusion of astrological synchrony.1
Astrological correlations, if valid, are precisely that which call into question a strictly materialist ontology, and the quest for astrological validity must necessarily recognize a different logic than that which confers truth value solely to purely objective scientific statements. What is of significance in astrological truth claims is not the claim of a specific fact/fact correspondence but the revelation of meaning and synthesizing pattern. This is precisely why the truth value of astrology is not scientifically testable. Astrology's real power and larger purpose is not to demonstrate scientifically a correspondence of planetary fact and earthly event, state, or process but to deduce the symbolic meaning of any factual correspondence (i.e. between the planetary configuration and the psycho-social-event complex) in such a way that constitutes real knowledge and not simply random imagination and invention (though these are an integral part of the epistemological process). The fact that at some level a concrete fact/fact correspondence can be found (physically, psychologically, spiritually) in no way explains the more subtle and complex levels of meaning, unless astrological meaning is entirely derivative of empirical observation by itself—which it is not. It is only through the postulating of complex (non-naturalistic) meanings that a planetary event can be said to correlate with an earthly condition at all. According to Richard Tarnas(1990):
If astrological correlations are real, then the underlying Copernican, Cartesian, and Kantian basis of the modern world view is undermined at its very foundation. It does this in three ways: First, in answer to Copernicus, they [astrological correlations] suggest that the universe is patterned in a way that relates in time and space directly to the human species, that centers on this Earth, that centers even on individual human beings...Second, in answer to Descartes, astrological coincidences suggest that the physical universe is patterned according to certain formal principles or archetypes that are not merely mechanistic but are vividly personal and humanly meaningful...and that therefore the world is not a machine but is ensouled, an anima mundi...And finally, in answer to Kant, these astrological coincidences suggest that the universe can indeed be known by the human mind, because the universe's operative principles are principles with which human experience is directly and intimately familiar from within — that is to say, the universe's operative principles are archetypes which are both subjective and objective, simultaneously informing not only human experience but also planetary motions. As Plato affirmed, the categories of the human mind are also categories of a universal mind, the two minds being intimately connected. [my emphasis] (pp. 4-5)
Astrological meanings somehow transcend and inform who we are, or who we are is unfolding through our conscious participation with the symbols, rather than the symbolic meanings being simply our inventions projected upon the physical reality conceived in terms of the astrological geometry. The formative archetypal principles cannot be located strictly within the psyche as Jung attempted to do in his middle 'Kantian' period. But as Tarnas points out, later on Jung came to adopt a view of archetypes "as autonomous patterns of meaning that appear to structure and inhere in both psyche and matter, thereby in effect dissolving the modern subject-object dichotomy. Archetypes in this view were more mysterious than a priori categories—more ambiguous in their ontological status, less easily restricted to a specific dimension, more like the original Platonic and Neoplatonic conception of the archetypes." (1991, 425. See Jung 1973, 1959.) Rather than the strictly psychological concept of archetype, it is this more transcendent view of archetypal principles that superintend both consciousness and world, both psyche and cosmos which is suggested by astrological correlation. Just as mystical experience cannot, legitimately, be summarily rejected on the grounds of mere subjectivism or even pathology but must be investigated on its own terms, so too astrology must properly be investigated in terms of the epistemological structure and logical form of its own truth claims—claims which, grounded in a connectivity of subject and object, articulate meaningful connections among varied apparently noncausally related phenomena.
Markedly, the modern rational-empirical paradigm of the last few centuries has been singularly incompatible with the symbolic astrological zeitgeist, explaining it as a mere psychological projection upon a planetary Rorschach. But new paradigmatic developments which have come to challenge the prevailing modernist view and rescue meaning and values from ‘mere’ subjectivity now find increasing alignment with the findings of astrology. Now, as she emerges from her underground banishment, a new synergy becomes possible between serious astrology and new interdisciplinary and transpersonal fields, especially since the vocabulary of these emerging new perspectives already shapes the interpretive and symbolic language of the serious psychological and biographical astrology of the last few decades.
Rather than a search for a new metaphysical 'god's eye view,' I see the present astrological account as a conversation and a narrative which seeks to offer an adequate, coherent, yet inevitably open-ended account of the development and structure of consciousness. It is precisely an interdisciplinary explication of astrology's archetypal principles which will reveal the holistic synthesizing capacity of astrology to reflect an unlimited 'point-of-viewness' without collapse into postmodern relativism. I believe that when articulated in terms that engage and modify the profound insights of several new paradigmatic and post-Cartesian viewpoints, the astrological mandala offers us a grand overarching model of consciousness. The astrological language is not fixed and distinct, but is ever evolving, inextricably entwined with emerging new concepts in other fields, yet its archetypal categories offer a universal, metaphysical and ontological framework, a 'philosopher's stone' by which we can bring a new level of the 'perennial order' to the burgeoning chaos of postmodern experience. Although the fundamental universal principles of astrology stand firm, the astrological language will continue to evolve in its capacity to embrace and express the complex dimensionality of human experience in relation to the natural cosmos interpreted symbolically and archetypally. The sense in which the astrological mandala offers us a universalist framework which, rather than totalizing, is quintessentially multiperspectival, is affirmed by these words of the noted perennialist Frithjof Schuon:
When speaking...of the understanding of ideas, we may distinguish between a dogmatic understanding, comparable to the view of an object from a single viewpoint, and an integral or speculative understanding, comparable to the indefinite series of possible views of the object, views that are realized through indefinitely multiple changes of point of view....a dogmatic affirmation corresponds to a point that, as such, contradicts by definition every other point, whereas a speculative formulation is always conceived as an element of a circle that by its very form indicates principally its own continuity, and hence the entire circle and the Truth in its entirety. (p.6)
If we are going to make the claim that astrology's twelve-fold mandala (the zodiac and the circle of the houses) can give us a valid picture of the fundamental structure and development of human consciousness rather than just one more convenient metaphor for categorizing experience (which is at least implicit in serious astrologers' interpretations of cosmic patterns as developmentally meaningful), then we must be willing to subject the astrological model to a rigorous comparison with the most adequate of the new paradigmatic and transpersonal models of consciousness. Any such interdisciplinary marriage should be carried out in a mutually modifying and enriching way rather than trying to subsume one set of concepts into the other.
For example, if we tried to understand the basic structure of the twelve-fold mandala in terms of, say, Freud, Jung, or Assagioli, we would be seeking to clarify and enrich the language of astrology by severely bending, shaping and limiting it. It is better if we can articulate an overarching astrological model in such a way that the framework of a Freud, a Jung, or an Assagioli can be discerned through tracing the subtle and complex lines of their most salient insights through its all-embracing topography. "I would rather turn to astrology to expand psychology than reduce astrology to the psychological,"says Thomas Moore (1996, 320). In this way we can expand beyond such thinkers to incorporate other more recent thinkers who have gone beyond to explore other dimensions so that an astrological model emerges which is capable of synthesizing a variety of views. Such an approach should reveal interesting parallels and correspondences as well as some inevitable discrepancies. But if all these approaches are talking about consciousness from a transpersonal viewpoint, despite their interpretative differences, they should not be completely incommensurable. Any discrepancies may be due to incoherences or inadequacies within one or more models, but might also be due to having adopted different experiential vantage points in relation to the same proverbial 'elephant'.
In constructing our astrological model of consciousness, we are not simply establishing one more model to stand alongside the existing models. Most ambitiously, we are seeking to demonstrate the unique adequacy of the astrological map to incorporate what is empirically indisputable and conceptually convincing in a number of important current transpersonal models (primarily, the perspectives of Ken Wilber, Michael Washburn, Stanislav Grof and Richard Tarnas) while reconciling their crucial foundational differences. In fact, it is the inherent logical and ontological structure of the astrological framework, when systematically articulated in terms resonant with new paradigmatic overviews, that will give us a purchase on certain fundamental questions and limitations that arise in existing models. At the same time, our account must accord with the traditional, basic agreed-on meanings of the signs, angles, hemispheres and quadrants—the cyclic, bi-polar and dialectically conceived topographic structure of the astrological map which constitutes the infrastructure behind the cyclic movements of the planetary ‘Gods’. What new paradigmatic model better promises to reconcile all these polarities than astrology?
In reply to the critics of neoperennialist universalism, the meanings of astrological symbols are not fixed essences that describe the way things precisely are beyond our experience of them, behind their manifest qualities. Rather, these symbols are dynamic multivalent nodal points of an archetypal network that both allows and gives rise to an indefinite array of possibilities as they are creatively engaged by emergent consciousness. They are not imposed frameworks or boxes that constrain the diversity and indeterminacy of life’s expressions—a constraint on experiential and transpersonal diversity that Ferrer attributes to the universal structures of neoperennialism. The particular sort of universalism inherent in the idea of the astrological archetype is free of the box-like restrictions suggested by the concept of foundational deep structures or universal frameworks.
What we have to understand about perennialist universalism is the inevitable inexactitude and metaphoric nature of its basic claims. Universals can never be precisely articulated so their truth or validity can never be decided on the basis of concrete evidence or dismissing them as a prioris. We are constituted as both particulars and universals—the one cannot be reduced to the other; the one does not stand higher than the other. There are different stages and different levels but at each stage and level, what is must be described in both its universal and particular aspects.
Astrology reveals an ontological ground of things while disclosing an unlimited freedom. Any one archetypal principle has a multiplicity of possible expressions at each of various levels, although the essence of the expressions of one archetype can never blur with the expressions of another even as they come to interact and intertwine producing ever new complex patterns and influences. For example, in planetary terms, the expressions of Jupiter always involve an expansive inclusiveness and consequently, can never slide over into a Saturnian separative contraction even though these two archetypal colourations continually blend and mix to form the phenomenal palate of manifest existence. 2
The deep astrological logic does not literally map the actual stages and structures of developing consciousness a la various developmental psychologists and by Wilber's structural-hierarchic scheme or Washburn's bi-polar dynamic and object-relations stage model. Rather, it maps the constitutive archetypal principles that can be seen to underlie, generate and inform, through individual and historical experiential participation, the deep self/world and individual/collective forms at all levels of evolutionary unfolding and individual psychological development. In this sense, our structuralist and universalist model is constituted by fundamental principles that are deeper and more multidimensional than the alleged deep structures (e.g. body-ego and mental-ego, concrete operational and formal operational cognition etc.) which these archetypes have brought forth. In the participatory mode of knowing and being as articulated by such thinkers as Tarnas and Ferrer, where personal and transpersonal worlds are enacted rather than waiting to be discovered, such an archetypal nodal network lies behind the deep structures, developmental levels, stages and personality types that constitute the basic categories of developmental and transpersonal models. It would appear that Ferrer's difficulty in accepting a universalist perspective is that he understands postulated universals (at least in much of the existing literature) as fixed ontological entities, hard frameworks, or substantial essences. But what if they are more like creative multivalent founts capable of indeterminate and creative spontaneity yet producing arrays that can be recognized as sourced by the same 'living' universal principle? If this notion is intelligible then we can speak of more than one universal and can hence relate these universal principles to one another in various dynamic and flexible structural arrays — and also speak of different levels of each as in ethical and cognitive developmental levels.
Beyond Psychological Astrology
Among the various branches of astrology, it is 'psychological astrology' which has constituted the major developmental and interiorizing step beyond astrology's older externalized, concretized and fatalistic historical forms. 3 Symbolic meanings have been enriched through the languages of existential and humanistic psychology, Jungian psychology and the new spiritualities from Eastern and Western mystical, occult and perennialist traditions. But for an understanding of human psychology in its integral relation to culture, for an understanding of individual development in relation to collective evolution, we must look toward an astrology which goes beyond the still individualistic bias of psychological astrology. Along with transformational meditational techniques from Eastern disciplines, indigenous shamanic practices, relational encounter, and deep experiential and transpersonal psychotherapeutic methods, a multi-disciplinary astrological vision can provide the intersubjective and universally connective dialogue necessary for a collective manifestation of shared individual spiritual experience celebrating the biosphere, the noosphere and the theosphere.
Although much of Western psychology has tended to be exclusively subjective and egoic in orientation, psychological astrology includes the spiritual dimension found in Jungian depth psychology and in the later developments of the humanistic 'human potential' schools. Nevertheless, concern with personal liberation can be an overly interiorized and exclusively transcending quest which needs the integrative grounding of an historical and evolutionary vision. Such a vision is present in the transpersonal models that we'll be incorporating into our account—models that reveal a synthesizing, connected, collective and global ground for integrating our transformative and transegoic experiences. The development of a mature transpersonal psycho-historical astrology implies the articulation of a symbolic language saturated with the deepest cultural insights of the age, insights which constitute real developments and which are unearthing truly universal depths.
The teleological approach—i.e. the development of consciousness as the telos of evolution rather than simply expressive of diversity and spontaneity—explains history in terms of overarching principles and universal or 'deep' structures. The Romantic evolutionist Henry Bergson resisted not only the mechanistic view of nature but also the teleological or finalist view as positing intellectualist constructs which artificially constrained the essential emergent freedom of existence as a pure self transcending becoming. Allegedly, such a freedom is denied by the idea that nature is moving toward the fulfillment of a prearranged plan. Yet a view of history as 'meaningful' beyond merely invented human meanings, if referring to the broadest outlines and deep structures within which the complex and contingent details of history and culture continue to unfold, does not constrain freedom but constitutes the necessary condition for any freedom. This view does not exclude such 'new science' perspectives—ideas resonant with Bergson’s notion of indeterminate and spontaneous emergents—as the natural phenomena of 'self organization' or emergent properties, Sheldrakean morphogenetic fields, and morphic resonance; rather, it places them within an archetypal map. Morphic fields, subtle energies, and emergent properties still do not explain consciousness; only an archetypal conception can relate these entities to consciousness. The truth that both biologically naturalistic factors and consciousness factors are involved in historical development is captured by Jean Gebser:
Biological and consciousness mutations are...similar in their spontaneous, non-temporal creation of new genera, potentialities, or structures which, having been once acquired, are hereditary. But there is also an essential difference: biological mutation leads to a specialization of functions within a particular environment—a minus mutation. Conscious mutation, by contrast, unfolds toward overdetermination: toward structural enrichment and dimensional increment; it is intensifying and inductive—a plus mutation. (1985, 38).
The open indeterminacy and variety of detail at any level of the Great Chain of Being does not preclude the presence of a sacred Pythagorean-like ontological geometry within the broad parameters of which the details of creation spontaneously emerge including Sheldrake's morphic fields and cosmological habits.
In light of a rising tide of new paradigm thought which embraces an ever evolving science (i.e. science in the sense of the discoveries and perspectives of those scientists who have gone beyond the old scientistic reductionism), we are certainly justified in viewing history as a grand and overarching history of the evolution of consciousness beyond a simple series of developments explainable in terms of an ordinary history of ideas. As Owen Barfield puts it, '...the progress of ideas has been as much, or more, a function of the evolution of consciousness than its vehicle.' (p.104.) Increasingly shared by diverse and distinguished thinkers, such a view of history is grounded and justified on the basis of arguments that by no means presuppose an astrological belief system despite astrology being eminently suited to the embrace of such a vision.
When conceived within an archetypal and teleological context, astrology reveals itself as a picture of the structure and development of consciousness from its primal beginnings through the amplified tensions of the rational/egoic phase on to higher levels of integrative transpersonal awakening on individual and collective levels. And further, as a particular knowledge discipline in dialogue with the transpersonal community, astrology can come to play an ever more significant cultural part in the continued developments of consciousness.
The language of astrology is rooted in the very logic of ancient mythology. According to Jung (1959), “the primitive mentality does not invent myths, it experiences them. Myths are original revelations of the preconscious psyche, involuntary statements about unconscious psychic happenings…Not merely do they represent, they are the psychic life of the primitive tribe.”(p.154). In his Origin and History of Consciousness, the Jungian theorist Erich Neumann, identifies the deep psychological structures which generated the originally concrete mythic stories that lay upon the cultural surface of an evolving and developing consciousness. When subject to the insightful analysis of a Neumann, (or a Joseph Campbell, an Ernst Cassirer or a W. I. Thompson) ancient myths reveal their meanings as reflective of deep formative and developmental processes of the psyche; meanings and processes lying beyond the fully conscious knowledge of their creators. "Just as unconscious contents like dreams and fantasies tell us something about the psychic situation of the dreamer, so myths throw light on the human stage from which they originate and typify man's unconscious situation at that stage." (p.263). But what exactly are myths? In the words of Joseph Campbell (1972):
Mythology is like the Greek god Proteus....[it] has been interpreted by the modern intellect as a primitive, fumbling effort to explain the world of nature (Frazer); as a production of poetical fantasies from prehistoric times, misunderstood by succeeding ages (Muller); as a repository of allegorical instruction, to shape the individual to his group (Durkheim); as a group dream, symptomatic of archetypal urges within the depths of the human psyche (Jung); as the traditional vehicle of man's profoundest metaphysical insights (Coomaraswamy); and as God's revelation to his children (the Church). Mythology is all of these. The various judgments are determined by the viewpoints of the judges. For when scrutinized in terms not of what it is but of how it functions, of how it has served mankind in the past, of how it may serve today, mythology shows itself to be as amenable as life itself to the obsessions and requirements of the individual, the race, the age. (pp.381,382)
According to Mircea Eliade (1959), myths cannot precisely be said to be products of the unconscious "for the mode of being of the myth is precisely that it reveals itself as myth, that is, it announces that something has been manifested in a paradigmatic manner....modern man's 'private mythologies'—his dreams, reveries, fantasies, and so on—never rise to the ontological status of myths, precisely because they are not experienced by the whole man and therefore do not transform a particular situation that is paradigmatic."(pp 209-211)
From the creation myth of the uroborus to the Great Mother to Isis and Osiris and to the epic of Gilgamesh, these myths mark distinct structures of consciousness and their transitions. For example, in describing the highly formative Gilgamesh story, the mythologist W. I. Thompson writes: "Gilgamesh is the quintessential ancient man, trying to create an ego through slaying the spirit of the forest, rejecting the deadly embrace of the goddess....When the male-bonding pair of Gilgamesh and Enkidu defy the goddess Ishtar and seek to slay the spirit of the forest to make a name for themselves, they are declaring a war on death that is at the heart of the paradox of individuation. Osiris, who is at the threshold of the transition from prehistoric culture to historic civilization, is clearly a more ancient and transitional figure than Gilgamesh, for he is not the distinct and highly individuated personality that Gilgamesh is." (p.159,163).
Erich Neumann is able to tie in the individual developmental stages with overarching historical and collective developments, thus unifying human psychology and history, a history which is more than solely a cultural history of ideas.
When we speak of the stages of conscious development, we mean...the archetypal stages, though at the same time we have repeatedly stressed their evolutionary and historical character. These stages, with their fluctuating degrees of ego consciousness, can be shown to be archetypal; that is, they work as an "eternal presence" in the psyche of modern man and form elements of his psychic structure. The constitutive character of these stages unfolds in the historical sequence of individual development, but it is very probable that the individual's psychic structure is itself built up on the historical sequence of human development as a whole. The concept of the stages can be taken as much in the "Platonic" as in the "Aristotelian" sense; as archetypal stages of the psyche's structure they are constituents of psychic development, but they are also the result and deposit of this development all through human history. (p.264)
And just as the myths now reveal the deep structures of which they were then largely an unconscious expression, so to do the traditional stories of the astrological symbols now reveal their deeper archetypal meanings in the light of new paradigmatic insights in the social sciences and the humanities.5 Contrary to Ken Wilber’s demeaning of the cognitive significance of myth, allegedly confined as it is to expressing a concrete mode of thinking developmentally inferior to logical and conceptual thought, “…neither the negation of myth by scientific intellect nor its transmutation into logos by philosophic intellect can exhaust the essence within myth. The mythical has to be restored to the existential whence it originates in an elemental sense and within which the core of the content of its meaning can be accorded anew an existential interpretation…”(Nishitani, 173,174)
Even within the Anglo-American philosophical tradition the falseness of the notion of bare ‘facts’ and objectively describable behaviours by transcendent ahistorical agents becomes apparent as the radical centrality of historically situated narrative and story is increasingly recognized by such philosophers as Richard Rorty and Alasdair MacIntyre.
Empiricists such as Locke and Hume, tried to give an account of personal identity solely in terms of psychological states and events. Analytical philosophers, in so many ways their heirs as well as their critics, have wrestled with the connection between those states and events and strict identity…Both have failed to see that a background has been omitted, the lack of which makes the problems insoluble. That background is provided by the concept of a story and of that kind of unity of character that a story requires. Just as a history is not a sequence of actions, but the concept of an action is that of a moment in an actual or possible history abstracted for some purpose from that history, so the characters in a history are not a collection of persons, but the concept of a person is that of a character abstracted from history. (MacIntyre p.217).
Such distinguished figures in the field of developmental psychology such as Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Carol Gilligan have identified and empirically demonstrated the 'existence' of deep universal structures which unfold through individual cognitive and moral/affective development. This ontogenetic developmental work has been paralleled and affirmed through the findings and formulations of numerous other developmentalists such as Jane Loevinger, Abraham Maslow, Erick Erikson, etc. Then beyond this, in addition to Erich Neumann above mentioned, Jean Gebser, Jurgen Habermas and Ken Wilber have established homologies between individual and collective structures; correspondences of psychological development with broad historical stages and structures, tying in ontogenesis and phylogenesis, psychology and history as an evolutionary unfolding beyond the biosphere of what Teilhard de Chardin described as the 'noosphere', formed through a teleological process which he termed 'noogenesis'. where "the earth gets a new skin. Better still, it finds its soul." (p.183)
In tracing such an evolutionary developmental sequence, the transpersonal theorist Ken Wilber (1995) follows Habermas in identifying common basic structures as applying to both individual and species development. As he paraphrases Jurgen Habermas:
[A]n individual human being and its sociocultural environment evidence the same basic structures of consciousness (correlation of micro and macro), and further, these same basic structures can be found in the evolution of the individual and the species (ontogenetic and phylogenetic parallels.)...Habermas's point is that, just as an infant today develops from preconventional (magic) to conventional (mythic) to postconventional (rational), so the species itself evolved from magic to mythic to rational. It is the same basic structures of consciousness underlying both the micro and macro branch in both their ontogenetic and phylogenetic evolution, and it is the same developmental logic (holoarchic in nature, I would add) that governs their evolution.(p.150-151).
"As for cognitive development" specifically, Wilber (1995) continues,
[T]he empirical conclusion of developmentalists from Silvana Arieti to Piaget is that there are indeed certain onto-phylo parallels in the evolution of deep structures (not surface structures), as Arieti explains: "What is of fundamental importance is that the [ontogenetic and phylogenetic] processes to a large extent follow similar developmental plans. This does not mean literally that in the psyche ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, but that there are certain similarities in the [two] fields of development and that we are able to individualize schemes of highest forms of generality which involve all levels of the psyche in its [two] types of development."(p.151-152)
Thus, history is to be understood most significantly within the terms of these broad structures or fundamental principles which have only in recent decades been articulated.
If astrology is indeed a picture of the deepest formative principles of the individual psyche and its developmental unfolding, then in terms of the insight of certain contemporary new paradigmatic thinkers as to the homologies between ontogenetic and phylogenetic structures, it follows that astrology is also a picture of the deepest formative structures of the history of evolving consciousness. This means that not only the optimum forms of individual and collective development but also its lesser and all-to-common pathological forms need to be understood in terms of its categories. Astrologers, of course, have always known that astrology works on collective and individual levels. The astrological principles are the constitutive factors behind the cultural-linguistic developments of history and can be readily explicated in such a way as to explain and generate the successive deep structures of consciousness. Lying deeper than the linguistic and contingent cultural factors which along with biological structures are normally held to explain the diverse forms of experience and behaviour, these epistemological (and ontological) principles shape experience and the sorts of worlds the experiencers inhabit.
Within an historical and developmental context, the astrological model is called to picture the great transitions from matriarchy to patriarchy, from the primal tribal magical/mythic exteriority to the Greek and later modern rational self-conscious interiority; from the old organic, animistic and holistic womb of nature to the atomistic and disenchanted cosmic mechanism. Then beyond the rational/empiricism of Descartes, Locke and Hume and their failure to establish objective certainty, we arrive at the critical philosophy of Emmanuel Kant, that late Enlightenment philosopher who first identified the necessarily constitutive role of the subject in experience and who stands as the doorway to our postmodern zeitgeist. With the ending of the possibility of certainty and objective knowledge, the radical and shifting cultural and linguistic subjectivism of the postmodern era opens up a creatively rich chaos where the endless dimensionality of the human psyche appears as seamlessly interwoven with the scientific cosmos into a fabric of endless indeterminism.
But our contemporary postmodern era is also characterized by a state of fragmentation and cultural levelling, a psychological and spiritual vacuum stuffed full of materialist and consumerist values feeding on a culturally deprived mass of humanity. The most life-affirming response to this general condition—even an end of 'civilization' as we have known it—is the cultural integrative quest producing new paradigmatic intellectual models articulated through a multidimensional and multiperspectival logic capable of challenging radical relativism on its own terms. Beyond this point, psychospiritually speaking, lie the transpersonal dimensions themselves—domains accessed by increasing numbers of individuals employing a variety of transformational technologies within varied cultural and spiritual contexts and communities. When directly experienced by those who have achieved a psycho-relational maturity, these trans-egoic levels begin to unify body and mind, subject and object, self and other, individual and social, person and nature, 'this world' and the transcendent or trans-egoic realms. Yet in terms of dominant collective institutions and practices, what lies beyond postmodernity and these deeper integrative responses to it remains uncertain. An adequate model should provide the general lineaments of the archetypal shape of the possible, even if uncertain, future of the human species and the biosphere.
1. For the most evidential and extensive empirical and scholarly interpretative account of concrete and cultural dimensions of history from the Ancient world to the present (philosophical, artistic, political, religious, scientific, intellectual, popular) in remarkable coincidence with the archetypal meanings of certain contemporaneous outer planetary alignments, see Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a new World View by the eminent cultural historian, transpersonalist and astrological researcher Richard Tarnas.
2. Tarnas— multidimensionality and multivalance of the symbols (Cosmos and Psyche).