Transpersonal Theory & the Astrological Mandala: An Evolutionary Model by Gerry Goddard
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The Astro-Transpersonal Model and the Archetypal Cosmos


Participation and the Torus Model: The Possibility of the Astrological Effect: Final Thoughts



Evocative of various Eastern creation mythologies wherein a primordial splitting occurs in the Godhead itself (Watts, Campbell), I suggest an overarching narrative where all manifestation arises from a primal differentiation of the NonDual Source. Modern philosophers attempt to solve the mind-body problem by expunging dualism altogether (not simply troublesome forms such as Cartesian substance dualism) while failing to articulate an adequate monism (a naturalistic one). But the very nature of manifestation is, surely, duality. A monistic account of the manifest world, which includes mind on the the same footing as matter/energy, seems an impossibility. The Plotinian One like Nagarjuna's Ultimate Emptiness1 is ontologically prior to the manifest and is always inarticulable: "It cannot be called void or not void, or both or neither, but in order to indicate it, it is called The Void."2 As soon as we experience anything, as soon as we speak of anything, we are necessarily in duality. Within creation we can only see and understand the whole holonically, precisely because we are situated within and as a part of the whole. Sankhya, Taoism and holonic logic articulate the inevitable duality as a polar complementarity. As necessarily situated beings we cannot think, experience, or speak of anything free of entrenchment in dialectical polarities and complementarities. If we try to grasp the extent of creation from one polar face of the holonic perspective we get the monism of absolute idealism (or, less interestingly, radical materialism); if we try to grasp the whole from the other holonic face we get James's pluralistic cosmos. Holonically speaking, we get both James's 'all-form' and his 'each-form': the all-form where the concrete diversity of the world is taken up into the timeless and unifying absolute "with its parts co-implicated through-and-through, so that there is nothing in any part by which any other part can remain inwardly unaffected"(p36), and the 'each-form' where "the substance of reality may never get totally collected," where "some of it may remain outside of the largest combination of it ever made," where "things are 'with' one another in many ways, but nothing includes everything, or dominates over everything." (James 1977. pp20,145).

I suggest that the birth of cosmos from the NonDual Ground is the birth of duality, more correctly, the birth of polarity. We can enframe the origin of manifestation as a 'primal event' where 'Brahma' separates into two complementary streams—the ontological and the epistemic, the dark and the light, prakriti and purusha, pure energy and pure consciousness—which then, like two hands, touch and combine in an infinity of mudras, a metaphysical 'participation' where in terms of this primal event of splitting, 'the left hand knoweth not what the right hand is doing'.3 The physical universe, the energic infrastructure, can be understood as a forceful and expressive creation from Source initiating the process of cosmic evolution. From the 'other arm' of this same Source, consciousness emanates and involves 'down' to Gaia. The light of Consciousness reaches down as blindly creative nature rises. At this Gaian interface where 'downward' emanation meets cosmogenesis, life and situated consciousness is born, giving rise to increasingly complex life forms, bio-psychic energies and eventually—through an interface with countless other creation cycles, other universes, other lives—the unfolding of the transcendent subtle domains, a fusion of subtle energy and intensifying consciousness in multitudinous dimensions. "Man is a stream whose source is hidden, Our being is descending into us from we know not whence." (Emerson, 51,52). In our metaphor, 'God' is simultaneously awake (pure awareness) and dynamically asleep infusing all things (unconsciousness) with a presence known to mystic and poet—"And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something more deeply interfused...a motion and a spirit, that impels all thinking things, all objects of all thought, and rolls through all things."4 The universe's evolutionary unfolding occurs as God's dreaming sleep, as God's long and gradual awakening as H/She 'reaches around' to awaken Him/Herself. And much to our all-too-human dismay, it is in the nature of dreaming to include nightmares.

The Ground or Source lies both at the evolutionary beginning and at the ultimate Goal of manifestation. Rather than cosmos faintly subsisting at the farthest reaches from divinity, rather than the least real level of the Great Chain (as emanationist and perennialist theories imply), this modelling preserves the idea of a succession of ever higher levels while also affirming the so-called Romantic intuition that the universe is actually a direct and immediate expression of the power of the Divine Ground. In this way of viewing things, the genesis of immanent cosmos and transcendent soul—intuitions embracing both emanation and creation cosmologies—come together as a complementarity. The Torus model (see Fig 11) preserves the intuition that we can look down into quantum space to infer a mysterious Ground which gives rise to quantum activity while at the same time, we can be uplifted to transcendent levels which move into the Ultimate Source of things. Whether we look 'up' or 'down' we face toward the divine Source. The Source is both the Alpha and Omega, not as a linear outflow and inflow, but as a grand archetypally informed cycle/circle where creation is as real as Source and comes from and returns to Source, not by transiting the same territory, but by completing and fulfilling the cosmic cycle through the ever-new.

The evolutionary trajectory from the advent of biological forms capable of rudimentary experience to the threshold of trans-egoic consciousness can be seen as an interface of universal Consciousness and Cosmos. The direction of evolutionary flow moves from the energy arm (thrust) to the consciousness arm (pull) of the Absolute. In this sense, universal consciousness participates with the cosmic energic infrastructure to bring forth biological life capable of eventually supporting (or receiving) a reincarnating 'individual' soul. Parapsychology and transpersonal psychology provide evidence that soul and matter, though intimately related, are distinct—the body dies and the soul departs, reincarnates etc. This does not resurrect Cartesian substance dualism which is based on the mistaken identity of consciousness with the subject pole of the logically polar subject/object epistemic structure (see chapter 20). Rather than pure consciousness, the 'individual reincarnating soul' is the ontological mergence of consciousness and subtle trans-cosmic energy forms evolving from and returning through the reincarnational process to the bio-noospheric level. Alan Watts captured one half of this picture, the immanence half: "We do not 'come into' this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean 'waves,' the universe 'peoples.'" (1966, 6). But all of life is a confluence both of something that 'comes out' of nature and of something that 'comes into' it, and nowhere is this more critically so and dramatic than with the human being where the cosmic dance of spirit and matter—birthing both destructive dualities and the ecstacy of the possible Union of the Left and Right Hands of God—eventually reaches crisis proportions as it has in this late modern to postmodern period.

From a transpersonal perspective, the evolution of humanity is taking place not only on the earthly plane but between lives and within the collective unconscious. At the transpersonal levels, 'between-life' souls have evolved from the original interface of cosmic energy forms and pure emanating consciousness through countless universes. They are not higher level existences, like Christian angels, informed by original involution waiting to be reawakened, but rather, like once-human bodhisattvas, they are products of the dance of creation and involution.

The Torus model does not conflate the involutionary 'drop' of individuated soul (Overself) into biological matter following conception with the original involution which kindled biospheric life, even though these processes are archetypally resonant. Their resonance is captured by Plato's story of the waters of Lethe where souls about to re-incarnate (metempsychosis) are bathed in its waters of forgetfulness. The birth of the cosmos and the reincarnational birth of souls at a later stage of evolution, can both be seen as a kind of forgetfulness—the deep unconsciousness of nature. The partial 'drop' of the 'overself' into the animal body, and its consequent optimal 'upward' development, takes place in the 'up and down' terms pictured in our bi-polar cylindrical model, terms which we see as more or less formally articulated in the Bardo Thodol. This 'falling back'—including the reincarnational cycle—occurs from the not-yet-permanently-attained nirvanic state. The Torus model accounts for the apparent duality of the physical and psychic realms where the oversoul incarnates 'into flesh' and then leaves the body at death. After the soul leaves the body, the biological organism decays back into its cosmic or prebiological elements, for living cells are born at the confluence of spirit and cosmos.

I believe that this rendering is more adequate than the pure Emanation model where the manifest world is a "superabundant overflow of the One", where "the physical universe is the most resricted emanation of the One, and closest as it were, to nonbeing" (Hixon, 1995, 102, 97). Not only is the linear involution/evolution and Neoplatonic emanation metaphor overly male in the phallic sense, it is also an excessively Apollonian and idealistic rendering of the cosmos. For one thing, pure involution does not provide a plausible metanarrative to account for the wild, creative and uncertain dialectical ride that characterizes evolution. Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, in different ways, intuited a profound Dionysian dimension of existence, the force and power of which is necessary to explain both the creative power of the cosmos and also its darkness and 'terrible' face, the immense suffering of pre-human and human incarnation (picture the second and third perinatal matrices and Bache's account of the matrices as certain realms of the Bardo connected with the phylogenetic unconscious) and the blind struggle for survival, despite the overarching presence of an ordering principle. If we are seeking a better, though never truly adequate understanding of the ontology of 'evil', it is this domain of raw struggle and suffering which must be acknowledged as somehow at the core of things. Our metaphysical mapping, even if it may seem in denial of his more openly pluralistic vision, opens the space for these words of Raimondo Panikkar:

Evil forces us to experience our contingency, our incapacity of having a neat and coherent picture of Reality. It opens us to the abyss of the Divine from the other side, as it where. It cures us from any superficiality and sense of self-sufficiency. It spurns us into our personal jump into Life and does not cover the risk. It is part of the Mystery. (1992, 246)

The history of human barbarity cannot be explained by theories of repressive civilization or simply 'unfortunate' or atypical incursions of alien barbarian attacks, for where did this culture come from; how did these violent warrior tribes come into being? In the post-Darwinian and post-Freudian era there has been a strong liberal humanistic trend toward emphasizing the ecological and cooperative features of nature and the nobler qualities of earlier tribal/nature unions—a movement offsetting the narrow reductionisms of Freud and the neoDarwinians. Nevertheless, there remains an irrevocable blind and terrifying force in nature acting through animal instinct which is still operative and even amplified in humans, evidenced by the continued presence of oppression, inequality and human suffering throughout history. As Swimme and Berry describe, "Violence and destruction are dimensions of the universe. They are present at every level of existence: the elemental, the geological, the organic, the human. Chaos and disruption characterize every era of the universe."(pp51,52)

As he reached toward the East for a completion of his understanding which he never quite achieved, Schopenhauer, in his postulation of a blind striving Will (a partial characterization of level C), was groping toward something very important that arose from his Western mentality. But the missing idea from the Schopenhaurean paradigm is the idea of the two arms of God and that in some ultimate and mysterious sense the left hand cannot know what the right hand is doing until the circle becomes complete; and it can do so only through the participation and mediation of intelligent life in the universe, an Hegelian and evolutionary idea which Schopenhauer, much to his own detriment, viciously rejected. Until that time of spiritual understanding, existence, as the Buddha taught, is a path of great suffering. What I am referring to here as the 'Right hand' (the left/right terminology is arbitrary) brings all the force and power of the irrevocable and apparently blind Schopenhaurean Will but without justifying the total pessimism of this philosopher, for it was this other hand (i.e. Spiritual illumination) that he was really looking for, rather than for the impossible total annihilation of the self. The Right Hand might be seen as the complete unconsciousness of God, metaphorically, God in a state of deep sleep, a state where the living bodily function continues without the illumination of consciousness. To continue this metaphor, level B would signify the beginning of REM sleep and level N the still unsuccessful attempt to awaken. Or the Right Hand (bottom of the Torus diagram) might be seen as the Great Mother in both Her beneficent and terrible aspects. Unfortunately, Schopenhauer was unable to embrace the beneficent, obsessed as he was with the terrible aspect— psychologically, perhaps tying in with his unresolved relationship to, and rejection by his own mother.

I question the adequacy of the story of Involution where pure Spirit (Consciousness) forgets itself (avidya) through a series of 'step-downs' until the lowest level is reached—the level furthest from pure consciousness, namely, the realm of matter, which then begins to unfold through evolution level by level back to the One. On the contrary, the universe—its physical and biological forms—is the generative force and vehicle for the soul's development and eventual transcendence. Explaining all ontology by the involution of Consciousness asserts an idealist monistic substance ontology in which all forms are ultimately reducible to consciousness, thus perpetuating the inadequacies of Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophy.5 The Buddhist "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" does not reduce everything to consciousness; it is not ultimately idealist. Wilber has described the nature mystic's experience as projecting higher spirit onto lower nature. But not only is nature a direct expression of the Source, such nature mysticism can be seen as the participatory perception of the unsullied, even though simple, presence of involved spirit in Gaia. Such a pure expression of spirit is a simple purity which indeed has become lost through the difficult passage of evolution, a passage which is an incredible and open adventure of creation, rather than a series of unfoldings reversing involution. 'God/ess' comes to endlessly fulfill His/Her infinite potential by manifesting as both yang and yin, 'reaching around' with hands which come to embrace and enfold one another until returning to Source through ultimate mystical illumination, a condition where energy and consciousness have again become One.

The idea of the involution of spirit actually makes logical sense only if there is already some sort of structure for spirit to 'involve into'. This may invoke the Western dualistic spector of Manicheism where spirit encounters an already existent and morally dark matter, but in our model Spirit and the Demiurge are simply different modalities of the One (not to be identified with absolute object or absolute subject a la Spinoza and Fichte respectively). In order for a pure emanation model to possibly make sense, a model which does not recognize such an ultimate polarity at the root of manifestation, there would actually have to be a two-phase involution. First an involution to create a stable entirely unconscious nature as infrastructure (level C), then another involution of spirit which combines with level C (through certain specific planetary structures, and according to the specific conditions that allow the later emergence of life as cited by the anthropic principle) to bring forth living forms allowing more and more of an involution of spirit producing increasingly complex patterns of experience. At some point of biological complexity—namely, the human—this evolved soul (the marriage of spirit and energy) can enter, leave and re-enter the structure eventually to return to highest source. But, rather than awakening as level B, such an absolute level C ontological unconsciousness merely serves as the ever 'sleeping' substratum of level B—hardly the evolutionary reawakening of previously swooning Spirit. The level C cosmos itself is not moving 'back toward God' through successively higher layers of consciousness. Presumably, according to the pure emanational model, at the end of time within any cosmos the bottom end is eventually lifted up back up into Source—electrons etc. apparently realize themselves as pure spirit! To me, even if refined beyond this crude account, such an explanation is clumsy and an unnecessarily complicated story called forth by the need to save an exclusively emanational cosmogonic doctrine. Rather, as in our modelling, like the biological body which at death 'falls back' into the physiosphere, the cosmos will 'fall back' into the Ground Source at the death of the universe (surely to be reborn as other universes).

Now since level B cannot be explained simply as an emergent (or supervenient) structure beyond level C, nor level C explained as a step-down from level B in a purely involutionary process, the account I have outlined implies an overarching duality (not a Cartesian substance duality) informing the evolutionary process, which compels an articulation of the ontological relationship between two generative principles that arise simultaneously as and from two poles of the Absolute: namely, pure consciousness and pure energy (cosmos). We might also name them the Divine Mind and the Divine Power. We see here a DNA-like double spiral which arises from Source and merges back into Source, but not in the sense of something emerging from Source and then disappearing back into Source but as a 'living' current which passes through the Torus as the unfolding of cosmic, biological and human evolution.

The archetypal forms both constrain and allow the diversity and unpredictability of creation. They do not prescribe a predictable unfolding of that which was priorly enfolded. To pick up an example from chapter 22, Grof (1998) cites the nature of the chess game which, while constituted and constrained by its rules, can give rise to countless possibilities on the board, so that analogously, the universe may be such "that only the basic parameters of creation are clearly defined, but the final outcome in detail remains unpredictable even for the Divine." (p45) As said, the astrological archetypes are not deep structures like boxes which rigorously contain, restrain and define. They are creative principles, dynamic and multivalent nodes of an archetypal network which, nevertheless, confer a universal shape and form to things, a kind of Ultimate and complex algorithm which allows an infinite diversity and indeterminacy. These archetypes are precisely the 'forms' which constitute a middle ground between an excessively constrictive structuralist universalism and an openended creative constructivism and postmodern (nonnihilistic) relativism. But things are not entirely open and unpredictable in that the phenomenology of these domains is constrained by the archetypal infrastructure all the way up. They are constrained by the torus itself and the archetypal structure all the way from Source (as creation) back to Source (as reception) moving in a counter clockwise direction as in our model.

Participation and the Torus Model

Replacing the subject/object epistemology, the 'participatory epistemology', as formulated especially by Tarnas and Ferrer, suggests an indeterminate reality of unfolding possibilities being enacted or brought into beingan unfolding psyche in participation with an evolving cosmos, rather than a particular ‘nature of things’ correctly or incorrectly perceived. Understanding that cosmos is not a fixed prestructured something simply to be objectively known (and manipulated), psyche can enter into a more sensitive and attuned relationship to cosmos so that the deeper secrets (or emergent possibilities) of both psyche and cosmos can and do emerge, thus enacting reality in each moment. So rather than cosmos being seen as dead or devoid of meaning while psyche possesses all life and meaning, or conversely as in idealism, cosmos being seen as reducible to mind, Reality is actively participated as a living relationship. An articulation and embrace of the participatory paradigm is what is needed to free ourselves from the present epistemic restraints.

While I maintain with Tarnas and others that astrology works, galactic and planetary cosmos exists prior to psyche, and while advanced psyche (6/12 and 7/1) approaches 'reality' most adequately in a participatory manner going beyond the exclusive subject/object manner, I believe that there is nothing inherent in the general participatory view which mitigates against the multilevelled archetypal structuralism of our astro-transpersonal model, even though one who accepts the participatory view is not constrained to accept this particular structuralist view. I suggest behind the formative interactivity between some indeterminate cosmic factor and an indeterminate human psychic factor, participation refers to the original marriage of the Day-Consciousness and Night-Unconsciousness of Source, or of the Left Hand and Right Hand of God/dess. Such a participation at the birth of life in the universe brings forth the fantastic diversity of living experiencing forms (cells to complex organisms). We are the whirlpools and eddies formed by the interaction of pure divine Being-Awareness and pure divine Dynamic-Energy. Reality's essence, our essence, is a spontaneous, expressive becoming with a general drift toward the light of pure Awareness—a process certainly not without its back eddies and stagnant pools. This metaphysical picture is a structuralist model but is unlike modern structuralism which grounds its structures in biological and/or historical processes. God/dess comes to know Itself as Manifestation, as the diversity of evolving living forms, the being/knowing/becoming of all living forms in their epistemic and active interactivity. Out of this fundamental being-knowing-relating, human psyche and culture emerges through the differentiation of subject/object and subject/subject epistemic modes.

The Possibility of the Astrological Effect

According to those of us who find that astrology works in terms of natal charts and planetary transits both through history and in the lives of individuals, astrology's most startling and revolutionary implication is that the dynamics of the physical cosmos are not only formatively tied in with biophysical processes on earth (in light of the new physics, no longer such a radical claim in principle), but also with the subtle dimensionality of the mental and even, at least to some extent, the spiritual. But humans are evolving and complexifying living structures, whereas the dynamic planetary geometry has not complexified beyond the physical, pre-biological level C. Surely, even if we recognize an open, evolving, 'living' universe with emergent properties not reducible to previous levels, the astrological claim is still counterintuitive since the question remains as to how this non-complexified planetary picture can constitute any more than the crudest framework for the time-space manifestation of events at higher and more complex levels. In short, it remains to explain how the movements of large and apparently simple rocks can possibly tie in with levels of consciousness that can never be 'reduced' to the level of physics. Attempts by such systems theorists and evolutionists such as Ervin Laszlo to tie in levels of biology, mind and even extrasensory or transpersonal states to fundamental subquantum fields, as valid as they are up to a point, fail to adequately account for these higher levels. For example, Laszlo (1993) 'explains' the Stevenson account of the past-life memories of small children (complete as Stevenson's study is with corroborating and concrete data) as a condition where, "the child's as yet fuzzily operating brain reads out from the psi-field images and behaviors that match his or her own dispositions." (p190). So the primary question for our present purposes is not whether astrology is valid, but how can it possibly be valid? Or put another way, even given that the evidence may be overwhelmingly compelling, how can it possibly work? To address these questions is pertinent to evaluating the deepest significance (the strongest version) of the astro-transpersonal model. But at the outset it should be noted that the failure of naturalistic reductionism to explain the alleged astrological effect certainly does not automatically refute either astrology's validity nor its logical possibility. The question as to how astrology can possibly work (even if in practice astrology seems to work) in the face of the inadequacy of reductionism to account for the astrological effect presupposes the question as to the logical nature of astrological knowledge claims.

To pick up the point first introduced in chapter 2, astrological insights, interpretations and statements do not properly make scientific claims; they do not assert a correspondence of planetary fact and earthly event as predictable systemically related events or causally interconnected parts of the spatial nexus. Rather, over time, astrological practice has generated a set of core thematic or archetypal ‘stories’, metaphors, and concepts which in some mysterious way seem connected with certain astronomical configurations within the solar system. It continues to be noticed that a particular planetary configuration associated with a particular symbolic story tends to occur simultaneously with earthly events and psycho-social states and conditions of a character meaningfully resonant with the particular story. The recognition and identification of such simultaneities of meaning derives from the fact that such earthly conditions (including the whole range of experience and not simply the objectively measurable) can be understood most adequately in the particular thematic terms that have, over time, come to accrue to the relevant planetary configuration. This body of knowledge—the rich and complex meanings of the astrological categories—cannot satisfactorily be explained away as random imagination and invention, though, as in the arts and humanities, imagination, intuition and invention are an integral part of the process of actual astrological interpretation and application.

The sort of mind and matter connection which is reflected in the planetary configurations is of a special order and has nothing directly to do with the issue of the relation of mental states and biological brain states. Astrological practice does not identify the actual mind/brain correlates, nor explain or describe the nature of the mysterious relation of any particular experience to its correlative brain state. The mind/cosmos connection that is demonstrated is of a different order. Also, when we say that the astrological symbol relates and connects the interior (mind) and the exterior (world) we do not mean that it is the same as any idea or image which interprets and maps the objective world. This would simply place it as belonging to the interior—the imaginative myth-making faculty of the human being which can be interpreted naturalistically (barring transpersonal and parapsychological evidence). This would not challenge any prevailing paradigm and would suggest nothing about the ultimate nature of things. We mean that the astrological symbol stands in a meta-relationship to both the experiential cum behavioural phenomena and the meaningfully corresponding planetary occurence.What is most remarkable and philosophically significant about astrology is that its symbolism is grounded in a time/space map and not simply projected upon the physical world from human imagination.

While including a physical fact/fact component at one level—the human phenomenon and the simultaneous planetary formation best characterizable in the same thematic terms—astrological correspondences are recognizable only by interpreting the planetary configuration as a meaningful abstraction. The sets of earthly phenomena being 'connected' by the abstraction, logically and necessarily lack a naturalistic connection among themselves. Such a meaningful abstraction would remain simply subjective and experiential with no metaphysical claim, were it not that we discover that every time such an abstraction becomes apparent to us, a particular and thematically resonant sort of planetary configuration occurs. So we have the correlation showing up in time/space, not solely as a correlation of a larger cosmic fact with an earthly fact, e.g. Pluto/Uranus and the French Revolution, but the correlation of a fact, namely, the simultaneity of Pluto/Uranus and the French Revolution, with a meaningful abstraction, namely, the thematic of titanic, Promethean and Revolutionary forces of change in the name of new and liberating values (see Tarnas, 1993, 2006). This is but one tiny piece of evidence among an immensely larger body of evidence that reality must not only be explicated scientifically but also must be explicated metaphysically, which involves taking into account the astrological effect.

It is only through postulating complex (non-naturalistic) meanings that a planetary event can be said to correlate with an earthly condition at all. To cite a simple example, it is only through an abstract universal, 'force' or 'thrust', that the following list of phenomena may be meaningfully connected; namely, a sudden explosion, a hammer hitting a nail, an athlete winning an event, a boxing match, a display of physical courage, a display of moral courage, an act of social self assertion, a condition of strong intention, an expression of anger, a condition of empowerment, a pure non-egoic yet clear and forceful action of a Zen master. There is no way that this list constitutes a set of phenomena that are naturalistically interconnected. From the naturalistic (and nominalistic) point of view, the concept 'force' does not exist in reality (there are physical forces, bio-physical forces, psychological forces and spiritual powers but no concrete 'force' to be found at the essence of each) but is merely a universal concept, solely an invention of the mind that sees or makes up patterns and which cannot be an existent universal principle in this or in any other realm. But this is precisely how and where a legitimated astrology comes into the picture and demonstrates that such a universal concept actually does have a concrete concomitant, not a concrete factor that can be demonstrated as physically connected (as for instance through morphic fields) to each of the phenomena (as above) that are not physically connected to each other, but as a concrete fact that correlates with each of the phenomena in the set interrelated to one another only by virtue of and through the universal concept. A legitimated astrology constitutes proof that certain classes of physical events, namely planetary configurations, correspond, albeit mysteriously, to certain abstract universals.

Just how the realm of gross physical planetary movements and the cosmic geometric structure come to 'embody' the archetypal principles that manifest at all levels from the bio-physical through the mental to the transpersonal and spiritual has been debated. It is unintelligible to assert the astrological symbol's identity with, or metaphysical embeddedness in the astronomical configuration (as in some sort of pantheistic or panpsychist account). But because certain general types of astronomical configurations tend to correlate with certain general ranges of potential experience and action (empirically observed with interpretive sensitivity), we can speak of a principle underlying and describing the larger possible range of meanings and possibilities inherent in the correlation. Vaguely explicated concepts of the interpenetration of mind and matter, hermetic or holographic resonances of 'above' and 'below,' alleged holarchic containment of organisms within Gaia and Gaia within the solar system, and even Bohm's rich concept of the Implicate Order appear inadequate. Yet it is here that astrology has a powerful and critical impact upon the formation of a new paradigmatic model by demanding that we take this most mysterious astrological effect into account along with everything else (i.e. altered states of consciousness, mysticism etc.) in our construction of any overarching evolutionary model. While the present astro-transpersonal model maps the archetypal structure of evolving consciousness and cosmos, a valid astrology (birth charts and transits) maps nothing less than the interface of the time-space cosmos and the archetypal cosmos.

The astrological categories can be seen in terms of the kind of cosmologies, paradigms, values etc. that they, through human participation, generate. While they may be seen as constituting epistemic structures, the way they are organized within the whole, the overarching pattern, is ontological and not merely historic nor rooted in biological structures. If astrology is a valid discipline and not simply a device or heuristic, the archetypal structure precedes even the development of the cosmos, a claim no more fantastic than the stronger form of the anthropic principle. We have seen that modern cosmological physics expressed in the form of the anthropic principle, whether in its weak or strong versions, recognizes that the physical constants at the beginning of the universe must be almost precisely what they in fact were and are for there to be life at all. This not only rules out chance as a final naturalistic explanation of things, but also identifies the structural parameters for later biological and human developments, developments of a complex brain and the self-reflexive consciousness associated with it and through which the universe comes to know itself through human mediation. We see here a naturalistic formulation of the telos of development where the human being (brain and mind) is inevitably interconnected with the structure of the cosmos whereby the general shape of human phenomenology is intertwined with the nature of the cosmos. Beyond the physics of the Anthropic principle, our structuring principles, which manifest concretely in their full diversity at biological and noospheric levels through participating consciousness, must be understood metaphysically—parameters understood in one sense as that which is 'allowed' rather than determined (Varella) and in another sense as describing the fundamental evolutionary imperatives at each great stage of evolution.

The dynamic planetary structure functions as the ground condition, a hard time-space structure which accords with the fundamental archetypal forms, setting up the basic framework for that which evolves beyond it in time-space and identifiable through the astrological effect. It follows that levels B, N and even T must have been formed by the same archetypal design, a design which includes the planetary structure and everything else that evolves beyond it. We have mapped this feature by understanding cosmic evolution as beginning at A/D level C and moving through two stage-levels, C1 and C2, to reach D/A at the beginning of the evolution of life, bringing with it the first shadow of experience. That the same theme, say, the contraction/expansion theme of Saturn/Jupiter, happens to appear on all levels or dimensions is itself not significant. But that these archetypally related themes are astrologically united in space-time by virtue of certain gross physical factors at the planetary level has profound implications for any adequate model of the cosmos. We cannot reduce archetypal themes to the gross physical structure (or for that matter, to any manifest level, for the archetypes are that which constitute, in the largest sense, each level) nor can we relate the phenomena of one level to the analogous phenomena of a prior level by empirically tracing lines of development through successive layers of complexity, as, for example, by tracing the evolution of the brain structures or by following the sequence of Piaget's cognitive functions.

From the planetary structure per se we cannot derive, a priori, any concrete content at levels B, N and T; we can only observe—through our meaning structures—what is the case at each level. But we happen to see that whatever unfolds, at whatever level, conforms to the fundamental structure—like the organ systems of the body around the endoskeleton—the skeleton remaining critical and therapeutically relevant as in chiropractic. The content of these structures at the higher levels is being created through participatory consciousness. So we are indeed 'reading into' these structures like putting flesh on the bones, which is what serious critics actually claim. We are creating our reality as we go. But we are doing this only in ways that are called forth and broadly allowed by the archetypal structures themselves, expressing that which is teleologically evolving beyond those ground physical structures yet which has been informed by the same transcendent/immanent principles as the base line structures themselves were formed.

I feel we are entitled to say of astrological configurations that they function as the time-space ground condition of the vertical chains of archetypally analogous phenomena at all levels of emergent consciousness and meaning only because we live and unfold in an archetypally informed universe—where 'universe' includes the physical dimension and everything that lies beyond it. The planetary dynamics are themselves informed by the same archetypal ground as the biological and the mental. If we can articulate the way in which the astrological principles articulate the deep structures of consciousness/world within the evolutionary paradigm, we are then fully entitled to say that, as they unfold at ever more subtle levels of our understanding, the astrological principles (even if the way that we have so far articulated them is crude and lacking in sufficient nuance) indeed are the universal principles which inform the cosmos from the unconsciousness of subatomic matter/energy to the divine consciousness of Spirit. The astrological phenomenon is precisely that which affirms the foundational unification of the spatio-temporal and the archetypal at the cosmic level. We may be tempted to describe astrological insight (theory and practice) as a participatory relation to astrological archetypes, but I think this precise way of framing it is misleading. Consciousness (i.e. embodied human awareness) does not participate with the foundational archetypal categories. Rather, the archetypes are those terms within which participatory action-knowing occurs and enacts its worlds. In their movements, the planets, each discovered to be associated with a particular protean archetypal mode, strike like hammers upon the archetypal strings of the Kosmic instrument, resonating up and down in terms of the archetypal channels which constitute not only the cosmos itself but the numberless entities constituting the biosphere and noosphere. Through astrological practice—the study of the astrological/astronomical formations—one becomes aware of the particular strings being hit as they produce their generally unconscious 'effects'. Yet such an astrological process can be transformed and recreated through insight into the greater possibilities of the particular archetypes involved.

Final Thoughts

By bringing together the essential structural elements of the astrological mandala in a potent confluence with some of the most compelling insights from transpersonal theory, we have crafted a model of the development and structure of consciousness. This model incorporates the most salient and foundational features of certain diverse and often conflicting streams of thought while offering a conceptual reconciliation of their most critical differences. The resultant synthesis carries important implications both within and outside the field of astrology. Within astrology, the aim of this book has been to draw out the implicit foundational symbology of our astrological 'Rosetta Stone', articulating the forms and textures of its kaleidoscopic facets in the terms of cultural and individual development. The various meanings and traits associated with the twelve signs and houses have been drawn together into a unifying picture which meshes, as a valid astrology should, with a powerful consensus beyond astrology. The theory provides an astrologically enriched account of developmental psychology including the higher levels of soul and spirit, demonstrating the internal coherence and broad theoretical adequacy of the astrological picture. We now have an overarching theory and coherent model in relation to which various meanings of the symbols as advanced by astrologers can be tested and articulated more deeply within a cohesive whole. In its complex differentiations and interconnections, such a far reaching account guards against committing common category errors or a mixing of levels when one is creatively engaged in spontaneous astrological interpretation. Yet the astrological archetypal structure is ever deeper and richer than any particular account can express, our account remaining but one way that these principles can be understood, namely, in terms of that participatory journey called the history of the West.

For those who are not astrologers, I hope that I have gone some way toward demonstrating the unique capacity of astrology's logical architecture to establish an integral meta-perspective on the nature of cosmos and consciousness. In this spirit, I offer the astro-transpersonal model as a model uniquely capable of synthesizing seemingly incommensurable perspectives in transpersonal thought, a contribution to that ongoing conversation called transpersonal theory. I leave it to the reader to choose between the strong version and the weak version of the astro-transpersonal model. If the astrological effect is real—the strong version—then I believe we are impelled to adopt an archetypal/astrological/dialectical/double-spiral/multileveled onto-epistemological account of the universe. For those who are sufficiently compelled by the deep logic of this model yet cannot accept the strong version, I leave you with this thought: It is particularly significant that I could not have conceived of the cartography of this transpersonal map without following the fundamental shape of the astrological mandala and where it guided my thoughts. Astrology's basic logic was not developed specifically in order to provide hypothetical answers to recently formulated philosophical questions but gradually took shape through an ongoing empirical process, growing from its roots in the ancient world. Theorists of evolution and consciousness should properly take notice of such a remarkable coincidence.


1. Notwithstanding Ferrer's critique of Wilber's false ontologizing of Nagarjuna, p.102-103.
2: Nagarjuna quoted in Zimmer, p.521.
3. In expressing this metaphor we might consider the distinction made in Hinduism between Nirguna and Saguna Brahman: without qualities or gunas on the one hand; with qualities or gunas on the other. Though the distinction between Nirguna and Saguna Brahman may be understood as the distinction between Godhead and personal God, I suggest we consider it more as the nondual distinction between the Unmanifest and the Manifest as a whole. While there is no duality or otherness that distinguishes Nirguna from Saguna, all distinction and duality lies with Saguna. Nirguna remains Nirguna even as Saguna is present as manifest becoming. That is, the Unmanifest is not altered in the event of splitting
as all worlds, all beings, come into and pass out of existence.
4. William Wordsworth. "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey," In A Treasury of Great Poems English and American. Selected and integrated by Louis Untermeyer. New York, Simon and Schuster. 1942.
5. Relevant to an ambiguity in Wilber’s overarching cosmology, a pure emanation doctrine is also at odds with a panexperientialist-holonic account. While a model of pure emanation or involution of consciousness is thoroughly idealist in that it implies that energy is ultimately reducible to consciousness, in a holonic understanding neither complementary term of the holonic pair, interiority/exteriority or individual/social is reducible to the other. Certainly, a radical emanation model is not coherent with a panexperientialist account unless the term Spirit (or 'Consciousness' as synonymous with Spirit) is an entirely different concept not referring to interiority as such. But then it would be hard to see what relevance the posit of level C interiority has to explain the 'sudden' appearance of consciousness at level B.


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