One of the most noticeable features of the astrological paradigm is its grounding in cyclic rather than linear time, linear time being the fundamental shape of human recorded history since the Hebrews. However, following the breakup of the Newtonian notions of absolute space and time, the foundational nature of cyclicity has, in our day, come back into fashion in the form of ideas such as a cycling universe pulsing from big bang to big crunch to big bang, and as the discovery of the natural periodicities of both inorganic and organic processes. Nevertheless, time's one-way arrow—both as irreversible entropy and the seemingly contrary emergence of ever more complex systems—is still with us. Consequently, a satisfactory model of nature and consciousness must appropriately combine both cyclic and linear time.
The hemispheres, quadrants and each of the twelve principles signify a unique yet multivalent archetypal configuration. The zodiac can be viewed as a cyclic process of development beyond its function as a twelve-fold typological schema. In terms of a simple cycle conceived in pre-modern cyclic time within a largely 'fated' cosmos, movement is traced from Aries (spring equinox) all the way around to Pisces and then back to the Aries point to begin a new cycle—the “cycle of eternal return”. But rather than pure cycles that illustrate simple change and development within an established pattern, the cycles are actually spirals depicting emergent properties mapped as an evolutionary trajectory with reference not only to the two horizontal axes (Horizon and Meridian) but also to an implicit vertical axis. Viewed in this way, we can represent different levels of consciousness mapped as ascending spirals of evolutionary development or as descending spirals of regression through time. Psychological astrologers are normally inclined to view the optimal development of the 'self' as an upwardly spiralic cycle unfolding from Aries all the way through to Pisces. Aries (the first principle) is then more primal than, say, Virgo (the sixth principle), but in subsequent cycles of development, the new level of Aries would optimally signify a higher level of development than the Virgo stage of the previous cycle. But no principle, or person manifesting the principle, can be said to be innately higher or lower than any other by virtue of its simple location on the two-dimensional wheel.
In fact, it is centrally significant that in mapping our 'softer universalist' (chapter1, p15) astro-transpersonal model we cannot meaningfully say of archetypes (i.e. in this case, the twelve signs/houses) that any one stands 'higher' than any other as they do in Wilber’s holarchically nested model where, for example, conceptual reason stands higher than, and fully enfolds, mythic imagination.
Yet there are indeed earlier and later stages and levels of development, evolutionary and devolutionary trajectories, optimal and pathological expressions, lesser or greater dimensionalities, For example, psychologically speaking, a lower level of the first sign Aries includes instinctual precipitous action and aggression while a higher manifestation would be pioneering courage, strong and appropriate assertiveness. Astrologers have called these higher and lower expressions or manifestations of each archetype, the higher and lower octaves of a sign, house or planetary configuration which in terms of spatial modelling, require mapping along an axis at right angles to the two axes describing the zodiacal circle.
As any developmental line—of an individual or culture—proceeds from one archetypal configuration through another, each subsequent astrological category does not (as already said) stand higher than the previous category even though optimally a higher level is reached. The emergence of a subsequent dimension (e.g. Taurus following Aries; Gemini following Taurus) is a product of a certain relative limit reached, a certain learning that takes place in terms of the former at a particular level; but rather than being subsumed in a ‘superior’ subsequent (horizontal) archetypal structure, the former structure optimally continues to grow and develop along with the subsequent archetypal structure once the breakthrough to the new level has occurred through the subsequent structure (i.e. Taurus, Gemini et al).1 Rather than stage/structure 1 being subsumed into stage structure 2 etc. the ‘higher’ is the total structure of 1 and 2, with 2 as the leading-edge of further development (Fig. 5.). In this way the important height dimension of perennialist models is preserved without their overly objectifying and essentialist structuralism. Unlike Wilber’s deep hierarchical structures, the astrological formative principles and categories go all the way from the ‘bottom’ to the ‘top’.
Nevertheless, as the neoJungians claim, development does in fact proceed through repression and subsumption (but only on the Outward arc); that is to say, mythic imagination, in fact, eventually gives way to conceptual reason through the dominance of the prevailing paradigm which affects further developments while marginalizing earlier dimensions which will need to be later redeemed. Most importantly, an adequate map must reveal the dynamics of this repressive process of stratification without logically enframing the subsuming process as if it were genuinely integrative. Athough Wilber argues that repression and patriarchy are simply ‘unfortunate’ deviations from the optimal pattern of successive differentiations and integrations, it is interesting that his holarchic model, even if unintentionally, actually enframes and legitimates the hegemonic West, male dominance, and the historical logocentric imbalance by mapping cosmos and consciousness through a sequence of holarchically nested containments. But clearly, the astrological picture is no stranger to the hierarchical or height dimension of Wilber's 'Great Chain' conception, a philosophical viewpoint that has tended to arouse many suspicions.
The Astrological Mandala as Reflecting Psychological Developmental Schemas
It is possible to identify a broad consensus among varied developmental psychological schemas that is reflected in the astrological twelve-fold mandala where we view the astrological picture as a grand cycle of development within a particular life span from birth to death. From such a perspective, where the first principle symbolizes the purely dynamic, instinctual and relatively undifferentiated infant state, the most primitive form of the self arising out of the womb of nature (symbolized by the twelfth principle of the previous cycle), the second principle will symbolize the formation of a 'body-ego' identity taking shape through its awareness of its distinction from other bodies and from objects in its environment. Following this development, language and logic undergo significant development under the third principle constituting the basis of the mentally constructed self concept signified by subsequent principles. By the time we get to the seventh principle we are looking at a post-adolescent development of social and relational skills. From here, social development continues all the way through to the twelfth principle where in the later stages of one's life there will optimally be a letting go of worldly attachments, or at the highest possible level, a reuniting with the matrix in a condition of full Cosmic Consciousness.
But such a linear account from Aries to Pisces is not adequate as a transpersonal model. This account compresses within the life cycle of an individual, the arc of all possible levels of development from primal levels to the highest transcendent. Since few individuals ever experience transpersonal levels, the optimal cycle of a maturing individual actually unfolds through successively higher levels and deep structures from birth to maturity as a young adult, but thereafter levels off (at least in our historic time) to continue its optimal maturation within the band that Wilber has termed the deep structure of the mental-ego—that is, exploring and actualizing the endless potentialities of the ego structure rather than transcending it.
Western developmental psychology describes the dimensions of consciousness from primal levels only up to and including the personal self or autonomous ego in its mature relation to other selves within the matrix of culture, those stage-structures from infancy to adolescence which, according to Wilber, recapitulate the historic evolutionary processes established up to the present. So if we are to picture the developmental stage-structures of the normal individual (ontogenesis) at our time in history, they will coincide with the historical stage-structures (phylogenesis) only up to the maturation of the mental-ego. When we look at the stage-structures identified by Wilber from human beginnings to the mature mental-ego, and through the psychology and practices of the human potential school to Wilber’s subsequent 'centauric' or self/body integrated stage, we are struck how natural the fit is between the meanings of the first six principles and his main stages. These stage-structures are not Wilber's invention, even though they receive his ontological interpretation; they constitute a more or less synthesized consensus across developmental schemas: Piaget, Loevinger, Neumann, Kohlberg, Erickson, Maslow, Kegan etc.2 We shall be exploring these astro-deep psychological correspondences in detail in the next chapters, but we need to outline the sequence briefly here in order to clarify the logical structure of our astrological mandala. (See chapters 7 & 8 for the first six principles—Aries to Virgo, or rather, Aries/Libra to Virgo/Pisces).
Using Wilber's terminology which combines that of Jung and Gebser: Clearly informed by the first principle is the archaic uroborus, a largely embedded and undifferentiated state of emergent consciousness where, as primitive hominids or as the recapitulating infant, one lives in-the-moment without a sense of time, completely unselfconsciously. The transition from the first to the second principle (and further maturing through the second) marks the magical/typhonic stage or the formation of the 'body-ego'—the sense of being a self through identification with one's body as distinct from other bodies. Following this, the transition from the second principle to the third principle informs the mythic/membership stage: an emergence of language in the form of mythic narrative giving cohesive form to the ever enlarging and awakening social unit. As language and logic continue to develop under the third principle (first, as Piaget's concrete operational level, then later, in conjunction with the unfolding of the fourth and fifth principles, as Piaget's more abstract 'formal operational' level), the mental-egoic level family constellation conditions the individual's complex 'self-concept' under the fourth principle. This leads to the development of the social ego or persona, the social self esteem and identity issues of the fifth principle. Thus the fourth and fifth principles, grounded in the higher levels of the third, constitute the rational mental-egoic structure in its early to middle stages corresponding to the development of the older child and the adolescent (recapitulating historical developments from the Rennaisance to the modern era—see chapter 14). Wilber's 'mature-egoic' level, and the basis of the 'integrated' or 'centauric' level, then, refers to the transition from the fifth to the sixth principle. The normal pattern of mature adult development as pictured in the various models of humanistic psychology constitutes, not a transcendence of the ego structure to something higher, but a set of modifications and 'translations' of the fundamental mental-egoic deep structure. They are, in Wilber's terms, 'shallow' or horizontal modifying structures that do not represent further developments of deep structures lying beyond the mental-ego.
If we are going to make the claim that the astrological model is a grand overarching model of consciousness from beginnings to transcendence in a way that includes, yet goes beyond the deep structure of the mental-ego, we need to be logically consistent in the way we define the principles of the two hemispheres (i.e. Upper and Lower, Southern and Northern hemispheres).3 It is clear from the work of Wilber that Western developmental schemas do not map the transpersonal domains and cannot map the full sweep of possible individual and collective evolution. If we seek to map the entire life cycle of the modern adult on a single spiralling scale (Aries to Pisces) we are actually mixing two sorts of logic. The broad stages from infantile uroborus to the childhood body-ego to the adolescent mental-ego have to be mapped both horizontally and vertically. But in terms of typical development, the diagonal line of development will level off within the general mental-egoic band. If we are to continue the same logical sequence after the mental-ego structure has unfolded—and if we are to adhere strictly to Wilber's scheme, after the 'integrated' centaur has become established—then subsequent stages will unfold as successively higher trans-egoic deep structures (this doesn't give us the consensus meanings of the second hemispheric principles). In mapping an overarching model, if we are articulating the first hemisphere in terms of the evolutionary deep structures and their recapitulation in childhood and adolescent development, we cannot then go on, without committing a category error, to extend the line of development and define the second hemisphere simply as the normal adult refinements of the mental-egoic structure. We would be articulating the two hemispheres in different logical terms. This is the sense in which the Western systems are necessarily inadequate by themselves for fully articulating all the deep structures including the trans-egoic levels. Wilber's perspective in its broadest outline offers a solution to this difficulty.
As said, normal adult development beyond the basic structure which is in place at the end of adolescence, is not the advent of a new higher level structure but consists of modifications, maturations and the unfolding of possibilities within the deep structural parameters of the general ego level. So if we are mapping the entire Great Chain, where we have defined the first six principles in terms of the generally accepted stages and deep structures of development, logic requires that the subsequent second hemispheric principles should, as we continue the grand upward spiral of development, map out the trans-egoic or transpersonal deep structures. Of course, on the face of it, this is not how these principles have been generally conceived. There is a general correspondence between the first hemisphere and Wilber's stage-structures up to and including the mature mental-ego level, but no such apparent correspondence between the second hemispheric principles and his trans-egoic structures—his 'nature-psychic', 'low and high subtle', 'low and high causal' and 'ultimate' levels.
As normally understood the second hemispheric principles picture the stages of post-adolescent or adult development where the self, developing through the first hemisphere, then moves out and functions in the larger social and public sphere. The first phases of development from infancy to adolescence are actually a recapitulation of evolutionary history where the person unfolds 'upwards' to reach the common or collectively accessed deep structure of consciousness which is our mental-ego with its formal operational modes of thinking, moral reasoning, and action (reaching back about four thousand years and achieving something like its present form about two or three centuries ago). Most adults, as they mature, psychologically and morally, do not go beyond this level to access any higher deep structures. So the developmental upward curve levels off so to speak and needs to be modelled as a near horizontal developmental line cycling around within a vertical band which we can call the mental-egoic deep structure. We shall see that the stage-structures of the third quadrant, in addition to their mental-egoic and integrated level meanings, actually need to be defined at a main level below where they have normally been defined (i.e. at the mental-egoic level) before we can begin to understand them as the first levels of the transpersonal—but this takes us ahead of our story.
Further Ramifications of Rudhyar's Bi-polar Dialectic
Even with all the levels made explicit, the mapping of a simple linear spiral from Aries to Pisces is clearly not adequate as an overarching model. Before we can make sense of the astrological model both as cycles of 'normal' development and as an overarching transpersonal model picturing the deep structures from primal to transcendent levels, we need to go back and incorporate another idea implicit in astrology that is powerfully articulated by Dane Rudhyar. This is the idea of the primacy not of the single principle, but of the bi-polarity upon which the symbolic meanings of any astrological opposition are based. No individual exists alone. Any individual is what he or she is in relationship to another individual, as distinct and as common. Relationship is not derived from the prior reality of the individual, nor is the individual derived from the prior reality of relationship. Both come into existence at the same time; both are mutually sustaining. Consequently, we are logically required to understand the cycles—both the grand spiral and the numberless near horizontal cycles which comprise it—as a sequential upwardly spiralling progression through the axes. In light of Rudhyar's emphasis on the cyclic and bi-polar perspective, we need to conceive the map both vertically and horizontally in bi-polar terms as a simultaneous lateral and vertical movement from the first/seventh to the second/eighth to the third/ninth axis and so on.
But usually when we speak of the history and development of human consciousness, the formative dialectic of agency/communion and individual/collective factors is inadequately modeled. Such a lack reflects not only the bias of patriarchal psychology and history, but also an unclear relation between psychology and sociology, the conscious and the unconscious, consciousness and world, the original 'ground' and ego-transcendent levels, and an unclear relation between the Promethean or 'masculine' heroic individualizing urge and the equally formative integrative and 'feminine' urge to human relationship and connectedness. (See chapter 4)
As has been said, the astrological model is based on the principle of a dynamic bi-polarity resonant to the Taoist metaphysical concept of the yin and yang—a dialectical interplay of archetypal bi-polar principles at the core of evolving consciousness. Rather than focussing on the figure and leaving the background in shade, astrology's uniqueness lies in its central framing of the logical relation of particular and context, self and 'not-self', psyche and world, agency and communion, individual and collective, male and female, consciousness and unconsciousness as the foundational dialectic that drives development. The foundational and generative bi-polar axis is the horizon—the dialectical relation of Aries and Libra, the 1st and 7th principles (see Fig 2). The forceful, self assertive Aries stands in complementary but dynamic tension with the relational and accommodating Libra. In larger terms, the differentiating impulse to self development stands in dialectical and complementary relation with the connective impulse to social development from the so-called pre-personal and pre-patriarchal period to the personal and patriarchal and then to the post-patriarchal period along an 'Outward arc' trajectory of evolution. Rather than conceived as simple spirals unfolding from Aries through Pisces, each facet stands in complementary and dialectical relation to its 180 degree opposite to form an upwardly cycling movement of a sweeping axis from Aries/Libra to Taurus/Scorpio all the way to Pisces/Virgo—a trajectory of bi-polar spirals reminiscent of the structure of DNA.
In chapter 4 we touched on the idea of a spiralic Outward and Return arc of evolution. Ken Wilber (1980) in his earlier work, when he was still somewhat influenced by the Jungian models, borrowed from the Hindu or Brahmanic tradition the metaphor of a linear and upward spiral based on the concept of the Outward and Inward arcs of evolution. The Outward arc is described as the Path of Pursuit or self assertion and the Inward arc, the Path of Return, or increasing self realization. In this schema, the outermost point represents the most mature form of the dualistic and distinct ego (Wilber's integrated centaur) that marks the most advanced forms of individual and collective evolution at present. As we turn the corner, we begin the journey 'back,' and it is through such openings as experiential and transpersonal therapies and deep meditational practices that we begin to realize 'higher' and less divided levels of consciousness.
The spiralic sequence 1/7 to 6/12 (Aries/Libra to Virgo/Pisces) marks the Outward arc while the upwardly spiralic sequence from 7/1 to 12/6 (or from Libra/Aries to Pisces/Virgo) marks the Return arc, the domains of the trans-egoic or transpersonal (Fig 6). Each of the four deep structure-levels shown here (each constituted by three substructures) is informed by the crossing of the axes by the double spiralic trajectory. In terms of the Outward arc, the six categories of the lower hemisphere refer to the development and structures of selfhood while the six categories of the upper hemisphere refer to the dialectically related structures of society and the collective (or, in terms of an individual’s birth chart, the participation of the self in relational and community life). In terms of a reverse tracing of the axes back over and directly resonant to the Outward arc structures, the Return arc transcends the selfhood and society meanings of the two hemispheres of the Outward arc while sustaining their core particular and universal meanings (see chapters 16, 17 &18).
It is this conception of things which most perfectly resonates to the structure of astrology with its two hemicycles; that is, when we conceive the hemicycles against a vertical developmental axis. The Outward and Inward arcs cannot be simply equated with the first and second hemispheres but with the two relationships of the hemispheres projected along the vertical axis. Dane Rudhyar has termed these the involutionary and evolutionary hemicycles. The first hemicycle, the involutionary hemicycle, denotes the process where "a spiritual potentiality or karmic necessity involves or incorporates itself in matter, in the world of actual forms....To exteriorize what is latent within; to allow it to express itself through one by building the necessary forms and structures to contain it and mastering the necessary motions and tasks; this is the involutionary challenge" (1980, p.29,30). According to Rudhyar the second hemicycle is characterized by a complementarity of devolutionary and evolutionary processes. The waning of the life force, the dropping away of forms built up during the involutionary hemicycle come optimally to serve the evolutionary drive of the second hemicycle. "While the change from involution to devolution is natural and continuous, the change from involution to evolution requires a kind of mutation or 'quantum leap' from one level, the level of 'life', to another—the level of 'mind' or growth in consciousness." (1980, p.75) Rudhyar is using the terms 'evolution' and 'involution', as does Coomaraswamy himself in his talking of the Outward and Return arcs. But in Wilber's use of these terms, 'evolution' includes both hemicycles with involution ontologically preceeding evolution. In agreement with Wilber, I apply the terms evolution to both the personal and transpersonal levels—our Outward and Return arcs—but I understand the fundamental dialectic of involution and evolution in somewhat different terms than Wilber (see chapter 23). Nevertheless, Rudhyar’s distinction of the meanings of the two hemicycles does point to an essential difference between the Outward and Return arcs, the first hemisphere being the dominant tone of the Outward arc and the second hemisphere being the dominant tone of the Return arc. A profound shift of direction occurs at the outset of the Return arc which, most significantly, is not a fundamental infrastructural feature of Wilber's model but which is importantly preserved in our astro-transpersonal model.
The Outward arc (1/7 to 6/12) signifies the development of consciousness through a Promethean drive (from pre-modern to modern to a still unfolding but increasingly maturing ‘postmodernity’), an emphasis on the agentic pole dominant ‘over’ the communal pole (self over other, male over female), building ever more complex and largely stratified, rather than optimally integrated structures of consciousness. The Return arc is a process of deconstruction of the dualistic and divisive Outward arc structures from a more inclusive space of transcendent yet immanently grounded awareness. The Outward arc builds the ego and collective institutional structures: The Return arc does not consist in building further and ever greater superstructures on the basis of the ordinary self/world structure; it is not an accessing of new and hierarchically ordered structures beyond those of the Outward arc through an androcentric and agentic Promethean striving onwards and upwards. Rather, as we move into more subtle and rarefied levels of consciousness, we are called to deconstruct and 'bring up into' the higher space of transpersonal awareness the now transformed self/world structures of the Outward arc. Transcendence is an accessing of higher onto/epistemological domains through a radical re-organization, a deep transformation involving a total deconstruction of self and its experienced world(s) revealing higher and more subtle levels of ‘consciousness already’.
Since the ego cannot develop except in distinction from the non-ego (as individual stands to society, psyche to nature, male heroics to female cooperation), the development of egoic consciousness on the Outward arc necessarily occurs over against unconsciousness. Contrary to Ken Wilber’s pre-trans distinction, a stable transcendence is therefore not possible without our 'going back' and awakening to all the marginalized levels, not only to uncover the individual's buried history (de-repressing the personal unconscious—as Wilber agrees) but most centrally, to engage the ‘species unconscious,’ that psychic dimensionality which has been built up through the dialectical interactivity of individual and collective consciousness through the history of the species.
Coming to manifest a higher archetypal meaning of the Libra/Aries (7/1) axis, the turning point from Outward to Return arc is necessarily mapped as a new and transformative relation to the Other where the 'other' is not required to do 'catch up', but rather the self (or dominant group or culture) awakens in the Other to all that which has been rejected and marginalized through the process of its own development, requiring a surrender and a mutual awakening through a synergy of male and female, West and East, first and third world, urban and indigenous. The difference between the transpersonal levels on the one hand and the pre-personal and personal domains on the other is that the transpersonal is an integrative joining, a flowing together of the conscious and the unconscious, once the (previously inevitable) divisive structures begin to be deconstructed. Rather than a pure transcendence, this opening into the larger space of transpersonal awareness is immanently grounded in body and nature. As we turn and enter the Return arc, it is through a transpersonal embrace that all deeply rooted dualisms and divisions of the Outward arc begin to be reconciled; the epistemic losses, dialectically established on 'the other side' of our 'partial' epistemic gains, can begin to be redeemed.
The Jungian theorist Erich Neumann describes the self as emerging out of an unconscious collective matrix and from there evolving or individuating into ever higher egoic forms thence, by allowing the emergence of certain unconscious potentials, to find a balance point—the self—between conscious and unconscious domains. This way of expressing it tends to equate 'collectivity' with the 'unconscious', placing the 'collective unconscious' in an inferior or regressive relation to the developing ‘individual’ ego. Apart from the question as to "How, by re-uniting with something 'lower', do we access something 'higher' or transpersonal?" such a perspective adopts Jung’s somewhat slanted identification of developing consciousness with the agentic and primarily male ego rather than with the dialectic of individual and collective, agency and communion, male epistemology and female epistemology. Neumann's Jungian account does not articulate the formative processes at work; namely, the ongoing push/pull between the urge to individual distinction and the urge to collective cohesion. The drive to connection which underlies the development of relational and social dimensions is not something past, something less or something unconscious. Such a dialectic manifests historically precisely as the development of consciousness itself. It is this dialectic which is recapitulated through the child's pre-oedipal dynamics with the mother and in the adolescent's developmental tensions involving self, peer group and parents. This dialectic manifests also through the normal life of the adult as the dynamic of autonomy and relationship, individuality and social adaptability, the need for self actualization and creative expression on the one hand and the pull of social responsibility and service on the other.
Consciousness develops both as individual and social/collective forms precisely as a result of this dialectic. Wilber in his earlier accounts speaks of the historically primal pre-egoic and mental-egoic stages, but fails to adequately map the dynamic interplay of part and whole, self and world, individual and collective occurring at each stage. Consequently, the picture finishes up being skewed toward the individualizing pole of the process, whereas in a more adequate model of consciousness, the total bifurcated structure must be topographically modeled at each stage. As the ego, or individual self, differentiates and evolves, it does so only through its interdependence with increasingly differentiated social structures (first and second hemispheres) which are not reducible to the principle of individualization or explainable simply as a conventional and regressive 'maintaining force' controlling individual assertions. Simply put, self and society develop together, though the creative individual has the potential to pull ahead of the conventional mainstream—and in fact does so as the leading edge of evolution, but without violating the holonic polarity of individual/social and agency/communion. In his later works Wilber (1995 etc) moves toward correcting this individualistic and agentic slant by carefully correlating individual and social structures (including their exterior and interior forms) side by side all the way from primal to more advanced levels, but still the critical and formative individual/social polar dialectic is not explicated while ‘individual holons’maintain an ontological priority over 'social holons'.
Rather than viewing the process only from the male perspective which is to see the separative heroic martian ego (first quadrant) as the point of the exercise, the astrological model, when adequately interpreted, offers a more balanced picture of the formative dialectic. In existing models, nature, matrix, the collective, the feminine, are modeled more as background unconsciousness—predifferentiated and primitive. Without the astrological map, our tendency would be to model the formative dialectics of distinction and connectedness, male and female, separation and cohesion, individual and collective in a linear and upwardly directed spiral or around a circle through successive stages of complexity. While such a picture would constitute a more correct model than the Neumann model described above, it would still be inadequate.
Thus is formed a dynamic three dimensional model—a holistic, interpenetrating, holographic, ontological whole within which consciousness journeys and unfolds through a pluralistic and participatory epistemology. It remains to explicate this model further in terms of its architectonics and the complex and multivalent richness of the four quadrants, the twelve signs, the two hemicycles, and the four deep levels of consciousness. Fully articulated, this model avoids some of the foundational logical problems that arise with mapping successive levels of evolutionary development in terms of nested deep structures as does Wilber (despite his later refinements). By holding the templates of various transpersonal and overarching developmental accounts of history up to the astrological archetypal map, we open the logical space within which a more adequate story or metanarrative can emerge that at best offers a synthesis of existing models and a resolution of their most troublesome differences.
The Four Great Stage-Levels
Upward spirals crossing the horizon and the meridian (the solstices and the equinoxes) against the vertical developmental axis reveal that the infrastructure of our astrological model consists of four grand archetypal stages of the development of human consciousness mapped both horizontally (cyclically) and vertically (evolutionarily). The twelve principles project three vertical subgroups within each primary deep structure. The deep stage-structures are pictured as four hierarchic bands or layers along the vertical axis, broadly corresponding to Wilber's cosmological schema. These consist of:
Level I — primal body-ego, actional & instinctual/vital.
Level II — conceptual consciousness and mental-egoic interiority.
Level III — transcendent level of soul, or realms of mystical experience.
Level IV — ultimate spiritual/transcendent level.
Within each vertical band we see the interplay of dialectical principles mapped across the circle and producing horizontal and cyclic translations gradually effecting an 'upward' transformational or evolutionary movement from the 'lowest' state of embedded consciousness up through egoic and dual forms of self consciousness, and then up further and beyond to transpersonal levels.
Cosmic and Biological Evolution
In terms of an overarching map of the Great Chain of Being, there are actually four deep levels which need to be depicted beneath level I of the diagram shown above which map the development of the physical pre-living cosmos and the development of the biosphere up to the human brain. In agreement with Wilber, any model of the development of consciousness must be able to give an account of human psycho-social development in relation to the development of the natural cosmos. Without adopting materialism or idealism and without needing to recruit perennial philosophy as evidentiary, we can readily identify at least four broad ontologically distinct domains; namely, the non-living, the living, the human, and the trans-human domains. Despite the best efforts of empiricists and naturalistically inclined academic philosophers to explain sensory perception strictly in terms of quantifiable non-living processes, the realm of biology with its animal sensation and feeling is distinct from the underlying pre-biological physical infrastructure, not simply as a new and ‘supervenient’ property of atoms and molecules, but as an entirely new and non derivative deep ontological structure. Similarly, though contrary to the views of some deep ecologists for whom humans are simply one other variety of biospheric life, human beings, though embodied, are unique and distinct from animals, not precisely in terms of emergent reason, but more because their essential being is one of myth, reason, language, culture, values, freedom, choices, and responsibilities. As Cassirer states, "Instead of defining man as an animal rationale, we should define him as an animal symbolicum." We find "in man a special type of relational thought which has no parallel in the animal world. In man an ability to isolate relations—to consider them in their abstract meaning—has developed. In order to grasp this meaning man is no longer dependent on concrete sense data...he considers these relations 'in themselves'."(pp 26,38) Heidegger also argued that to be human is not naturalistically reducible to being a clever animal: “Dasein4 is a being that does not simply occur among other beings. Rather, it is ontically distinguished by the fact that in its Being this Being is concerned about its very Being.” (Heidegger. p 53). The question at hand then is that having identified these domains, how are we to map them?
I believe that the astro-transpersonal map best discloses the relation of cosmic evolution, biological evolution, human psycho-social evolution, and transpersonal evolution within an overarching archetypal nexus—precisely those domains (adopting the terminology of Teilhard & Wilber) of the physiosphere, the biosphere, the noosphere, and the theosphere. Further, if one recognizes the validity of astrological correlations, then the model must show how the planetary dynamic geometry, the physiosphere, can significantly reflect a certain archetypal mapping of the human world, the noosphere, without ascribing mythic or magical properties to the planets. (Goddard 1996 & chapter 23).
The big bang, the appearance of sensory life, the advent of human consciousness and the transpersonal threshold—those foundational 'quantum leaps' which both connect and differentiate the broadest domains—occur at the points where the dialectical developmental spirals cross the horizon and meridian. Much of this book is taken up with explicating the human noospheric and trans-human or transpersonal levels, but in chapter 19, by mapping the bare lineaments of pre-living and biological evolution in terms of the astrological structure situated beneath and antecedent to the noospheric level, we arrive at an overarching model from Big Bang to Transcendence conceived within an archetypal framework which combines the noospheric and transcendent levels with the natural cosmos and biosphere.
Our initial account of the Outward and Return arcs of the evolution of consciousness will assume the existence of the biologically modern human as the necessary infrastructural condition for all levels of awareness from primal to transcendent. This assumes that physical-energic processes— the complexifying neuronal pathways as the product of a long natural evolutionary process—are fully present and immanent within the noospheric deep structure just as the process of ongoing formation of the Earth’s topography and its physico-chemical constitution has been inextricably tied in with biological evolution through a co-evolutionary process “where living beings and their environments stand in relation to each other through mutual specification or codetermination” (Varella, Thompson, & Rosch, p.198). The noospheric or psycho-social human level, though as real as the biosphere and cosmos, can no more be understood independent of the biosphere (including the human brain structure) than living cells can be understood as independent of the molecules and atoms which comprise them. Of course, in terms of ontogeny, childhood psycho-social development through stage-level I is concomitant with continued biological maturation, specifically, of the higher brain functions, a development which may be seen as recapitulating our earliest hominid (pre homosapien) history where the post-ape brain continued its developments in relation to level I social and technological inventions and discoveries.
Since the main concern of this book is with explicating the structures and development of consciousness given the advent of the human brain,until the last chapters we will proceed with the four-stage four-level modelling of the psycho-social and transpersonal levels.
The Dialectical Logic of the Four Levels
Stage-Level I: The primal level is constituted by the dialectical interplay of the first and third quadrants beginning at the horizon A/D moving successively from stage 1/7 through 2/8 to 3/9. The dominant tone is the first quadrant.
Stage-Level II: The mental-egoic level is constituted by the dialectic of the second and fourth quadrants moving successively from the meridian N/M and stage 4/10 through 5/11 to 6/12. The dominant tone is second quadrant, or rather, first hemispheric including both first quadrant and second quadrant structures.
Stage-Level III: The first main level of transpersonal awakening, or integrated/soul or mystical experience is constituted by the dialectic of the third and first quadrants moving successively from D/A and stage 7/1 through 8/2 to 9/3. Note that this is a reversal of Stage One with the third quadrant now as the dominant tone.
Stage-Level IV: The spiritual/transcendent including Wilber's High Subtle and Causal levels is constituted by the dialectic of the fourth and second quadrants moving successively from meridian M/N and stage 10/4 through 11/5 to 12/6. Note that this is a reversal of Stage Two with the fourth quadrant now as the dominant tone.
Stage-Levels I and II constitute the 'Outward arc', while stage-levels III and IV constitute the Inward or 'Return arc'.
Further Ramifications of Rudhyar's Day and Night Forces
In his important work, The Pulse of Life, Dane Rudhyar illuminated the archetypal structure of the twelve zodiacal signs in terms of a cyclic waxing and waning of the 'Day force' and the 'Night force'. In so doing he fashioned a key with which we can unlock the deepest secrets of the astrological mandala. The Day and Night forces symbolize the archetypal interplay of individualizing and universalizing forces. Differentiation and integration, analysis and synthesis, partness and wholeness, assertion and relationship, agency and communion, male and female—these multiple valences of the fundamental Day and Night forces appear in the human world as irrevocable dualities framing the constant interplay of human consciousness and unconsciousness. On the Outward arc of development, these polarities will appear to human consciousness as the fundamental 'either/or' tensions of existence—the whole painful story of human history. But as we open to the realms of the transpersonal on the Return arc through the interpenetration of consciousness and unconsciousness, such dualities increasingly come to reveal themselves as the interdependent and complementary ontological polarities that they fundamentally are.
Astrologically, (based on Northern hemisphere astronomy) the maximum Day force occurs at the summer solstice (beginning of Cancer); the maximum Night force at the Winter solstice (beginning of Capricorn). At the equinoxes the forces are briefly in balance but moving in different directions. Such a conception adds rich texture to our understanding of the archetypal essence of the twelve signs or principles. As Rudhyar explained, in Aries, Taurus, and Gemini (1,2,&3) the power of the individualizing Day force decisively overcomes the power of the collectivizing Night force which goes increasingly unconscious. In Cancer, Leo and Virgo (4,5,&6), the individualizing Day force, though still dominant, now gradually decreases in its power as the Night force begins to emerge from the unconscious depths breaking the surface as it were at the equinoctual Libra. So in both Aries and Libra (1&7) there is, in terms of the conscious and the unconscious, agency and communion, an equivalent intensity of Day and Night forces; but the obvious difference between these signs is that they are both decisively moving in opposite directions, the one forming the autonomous self, the other forming society. In Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius (7,8,&9) we see now an increasingly dominant and collectivizing Night force and an increasingly unconscious Day force. In Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces (10,11,&12), the Night force, while still the dominant power of consciousness begins to wane as the Day force begins to arise from the depths of unconsciousness to break the surface at the equinoctual Aries.
Despite Rudhyar's richly poetic and inspiring illuminations of the signs' meanings, his particular formulation on the face of it fails to mesh with any of the existing transpersonal views of the development of consciousness. But our vertically conceived model takes this movement of the Day and Night forces and combines it with Rudhyar's central insight as to the inherent bi-polar structural nature of the twelve principles so that we can now deepen our previous explication of the four grand stage-structures of consciousness/world at different levels of evolutionary unfolding by mapping the waxing and waning of the Day and Night forces in terms of a dialectical interaction across the axes through the full cycle from bottom to top.
Mapping the Four Stage-Structures in Terms of the Day and Night Forces
Stage-level I: The first stage of development must be understood, not as the first quadrant considered by itself, but as a dialectical and simultaneous interaction between the first and third quadrants. Following Rudhyar's cyclic account, through the first quadrant, the differentiating and particularizing Day force is increasing and dominant, while the integrative and universalizing Night force is decreasing, hence, increasingly unconscious. But simultaneously, through the third quadrant, the Day force is decreasing while the Night force is increasing. Building through the first quadrant, symbolized by the increasing and dominant Day force, is individual conscious selfhood. Building simultaneously through the third quadrant, symbolized by the increasing and dominant Night force, is the social matrix of this self. Within the first quadrant, the self under the waxing Day force is building in repressive tension with the waning Night force. The reverse form of this building tension is occuring through the third quadrant, but the successive structures of selfhood (Q1) each exist 'within' or are consonant with, successive structures of society (Q3). Unlike the Day and Night forces within each quadrant which stand in 'either/or' relation, both self and society (in Wilber’s later terminology, individual holons and social holons) across the quadrants are building interdependently and simultaneously. So the relationship of the Day and Night forces is to be interpreted somewhat differently within each quadrant than across opposing quadrants. By the time we get to the end of the first/third quadrant dynamic, we see the maximum Night force at point M standing 'over against' the maximum Day force at point N totally unlike the equinoctial balance across points A and D.
Stage-level II: By the end of Stage I and the beginning of Stage II—marked by the meridian axis N/M—both the Day and Night forces have reached their maximum extremities in their respective quadrants picturing a condition of maximal difference, a kind of interdependent yet extreme duality that needs to be carefully interpreted. From this point on, through the dialectical interplay of the second and fourth quadrants, these polar forces begin to move toward a new balance. In the second Quadrant, although still consciously dominant, the Day force is now decreasing, while the Night-force, still below the threshold of consciousness, is on the increase. The opposite condition holds for the fourth quadrant. The Stage II movement leads again to the axis of the horizon, which we can now label D/A since it constitutes a repolarization of the original balance at A/D.
The development of consciousness on the Outward arc signifies the development of individual embodied consciousness unfolding from predifferentiated states, where individual and group mind are blended, toward more complex differentiated mental-egoic structures. The dominant tone of the first two stages of the first hemisphere is the Day-force. As said, the Outward Arc of development is marked by an overarching Either/Or which manifests as the dominance of the first hemisphere over the second in accordance with the Grofian account given in chapters 3 & 4 (notwithstanding what will later be described as a switching of the poles occurring at the advent of patriarchy). That is, the individualizing principle is symbolized by the primacy of the first hemisphere in dynamic relation to the second hemisphere. Following the dynamic dialectical process of differentiation and distinction in Stage I which reaches a maximal distinction by N/M, the individualizing principle continues to be dominant through the second quadrant. Yet through the second quadrant, the Day force is gradually waning in power and is increasingly called to incorporate the integrative Night-force. At the same time, through the course of the fourth quadrant, the collective integrative principle gradually yields to the collective differentiating principle.
Stage-level III: The horizon at D/A marks the beginning of the Return Arc and the accessing of higher levels of development beyond the mental-egoic. A repolarization of the original Q1/Q3 dialectic begins to take place, but now with the integrative Night-force as the dominant tone. We shall label this dialectic as Q3/Q1, but rather than operating as an apparent duality as did the Outward arc, the Return arc operates as a both/and. It is not a simple dominance of collective over individual factors that characterizes this stage, as if in reverse of Stage-level I. Rather, the 'both/and' refers to the capacity of a higher trans-egoic and transformed consciousness to see behind the apparent duality of the world—projected as the duality is from the archetypal polar yin/yang of existence—so that self and world, self and other, consciousness and unconsciousness, all dualities which informed the very structures of the Outward arc, come to interpenetrate and embrace one another in full awareness. The third and first quadrants are now realized as the connected holonic polarity that they always were, as constituting two poles of the same overarching structure. Unlike Stage-level I where development was driven by an increasing self/other dynamic, in Stage-level III the further development of the one pole now enhances the distinct but non-dual development of the other.
Stage-level IV: The transformative re-integration of the original and primal split has taken place in Stage III (Q3/Q1) reaching a completion by meridian M/N (the repolarization of the original dualistic N/M). The M/N axis marks the transition to Stage IV (Q4/Q2) which includes the final and the highest of the transpersonal dimensions. This fourth stage unfolds as the re-discovered Stage II interplay (Q2/Q4) now unfolding as Q4/Q2, a balanced interplay of individual and collective, transcendent and immanent at the highest level, once and for all transforming the levels of the Stage II mind. So in Stage III and IV we see that the dialectical either/or of the Outward arc has given way to the integrative and all embracing both/and of the Return arc.
A deeper and more precise explication of the four Stage-levels in terms of the bi-polarity of individual and social holons and their dialectical relation across the quadrants is necessary in order to adequately articulate its holonic infrastructure. This has been provided in chapter 10, a chapter that the reader may choose to skip at least until the end of the book where I provide a more rigorous philosophical explication of the logical infrastructure of the astro-transpersonal model.
The Nature of the Astrological Model
The astrological principles or archetypal deep structures must be understood as informing both evolutionary /developmental processes and the psycho/social forms and structures established at each stage. In this way, from any point on the developmental spiral, consciousness can be mapped as a twelvefold structure relating the various dimensions of the psyche and its interface with the socio-cultural matrix of the individual from its particular developmental stage-level on the vertical axis. Each of these twelve-fold archetypal structures inform and enframe psychological states and behaviours, cultural forms and social institutions that are increasingly complex as we go higher and higher. Each subsequent increasingly complex form can be said to holarchically include all the lower level structures, though not in the step by step fashion described by Wilber. For example, while we may speak of the formation of the infant body-ego under the second principle, the body-ego structure does not refer solely to the second principle. Rather, it is a compound structure taking form at the second principle stage to be pictured as a relative integration of the first and second principles as structures. This is to be mapped on the vertical axis as well as on the horizontal, since it represents a clear evolutionary upward step. For example, the first principle produced the structure of the uroboric neophyte self, and historically, the early hunter/gatherer. But as the body-ego forms, the primitive uroboric first principle structure remains in some form at the core of the holarchical identity of the body-ego. The early farmer may come to largely replace the hunter gatherer, though some of these skills and ways of perceiving may not be entirely lost and may be remembered and reverted to in the case of agricultural failure. Now as the second principle unfolds and the body-ego develops, it comes to include both the first and second principle structures marking a higher level on the vertical axis. It is not just the second principle itself that is pictured as higher, but rather a compound structure consisting of the first and second principles. Each principle does not simply come to form a subordinate part of the larger compound structure unfolding through the subsequent principle. Each principle as a process actually represents a dimension of being which goes on developing at higher levels once subsequent principles and processes have unfolded. This is a fundamental and most significant difference between the astro-transpersonal model and the infrastructure of Wilber's model.
In this multileveled sense of each successive horizontal principle, the first principle denotes the dynamic assertiveness of all structures, not just the assertiveness of the uroborus and early body-ego. Following the advent of the mental-ego, the first principle becomes the intentional and attentional application of will power according to mentally and conceptually conditioned factors. Yet, at the same time, the more primitive elements of desire and aggression remain deeply embedded within the compound first principle (Aries) structure. The will and intentionality of the fully developed ego at stage-level II, overlays the primal competitive, spontaneous, and assertive instinctuality of primitive individuals or infants. Once the structures of level II have become established, the earlier axes 1/7, 2/8 and 3/9 will be defined at the mental-egoic level (though still including the primal structures within the personal subconscious). These egoic level qualities overiding the earlier structures are illustrated by the horizontal cyclic movements within the vertical mental-egoic band.
This interdependence of process and structure implies that developmental unfolding is not simply a uni-directional and linear process where the unfolding of higher levels of the previous structures can be understood solely in terms of extending spirals through the full cycle. It is necessary to understand that further developments of any principle's structure are actually dependent on primitive developments occuring in the subsequent principle. To use an example which is actually ahead of our story, the mythic and narrative structures of the farming and Great Mother period symbolized by the 2nd/8th stage, could not have happened if early linguistic social cohesive forms had not already begun developing under the 3rd/9th axis.
In primal stage I, the first and third quadrants (the 1st/7th and 2nd/8th axes specifically) are clearly defined at the experiential immediate, organic, and sensory level. In the mental-egoic stage II, the second and fourth quadrants are clearly defined in terms of the mental/cultural symbolic level. Significantly, unlike Wilber's hierarchical model, our model avoids the error of mapping structure-level II directly over structure/level I. That is, the mental-ego level does not stand higher than and totally inclusive of the primal body-ego level. As said, principles 1/7, 2/8 and 3/9 continue to develop at higher levels along with the mental developments through stage II. Most importantly, the topography of the model maps their relationship on both horizontal and vertical axes within the dialectical bi-polar cyclindrical structure.
Astrological consensus generally describes the first two principles of the first quadrant, Aries and Taurus, at both primal and mental-egoic levels—symbolizing aggression and basic emotional/physical security issues as well as courage, dynamism, strength and practical competence and productivity. While Gemini and Sagittarius are mental rather than concrete, organic and sensory, they actually constitute the transition from the first to the second stage; they are initially oral, mythic, poetic, intuitive and narrative prior to the development of concept-based logic. But with the third quadrant, the astrological consensus is not so clear: at least our usual understanding of it does not clearly differentiate primal and mental-egoic levels. While Scorpio has clearly retained its primal meaning covered by a thin veneer of rational-egoic 'civilization', Libra has actually lost its primal concrete, sensory and organic level meaning all together. This is perhaps because, in the course of historical development, the primal third quadrant at level I has sunk into collective unconsciousness, or rather the original interconnectivity with the natural environment was submerged in the purely social and interactive. In the primal sense Libra constitutes the concrete, interactive and cooperative basis of original and foundational social units embedded in their natural sensory environmental landscapes (social agency supporting individual communion and connection). This nature-embedded group mind has been decisively overlaid by level II interpersonal mental-egoic forms.
The first quadrant at level II does not imply a full repression into subconsciousness of the first quadrant at level I but is, more simply, layered over it. But, as normally articulated, the seventh principle is actually a repressive overlay of the primal level by the roles, manners and customs of the advanced patriarchal rational-egoic and nature-repressive level II societies where relationship becomes a bridging of distinct egos. It is the domain of the primal feminine molded into roles which support the patriarchy. Nevertheless, the entirely 'other' quality, of the seventh principle and the dynamics of unconscious magnetic attraction/repulsion and projection—along with its sensory-aesthetic Venusian quality—does indeed reveal the primal or foundational nature of the seventh principle.
As said, the vertical dimension has always been implicit within the astrological mandala; psychological astrology with its transformational concerns would never have made sense without it. But so far, the levels have not been systematically mapped, even though our basic understanding of the symbols includes the concept of both transformational and pathological movements involving higher and lower octaves. Wilber makes a distinction between vertical transformational developments and horizontal translational developments. When we map the astrological model vertically as well as horizontally, we see that horizontal 'translations' are actually our horizontal holoarchic cycles and dialectical tensions. Our model maps the horizontal translations and cycles within each band of the vertical spectrum as well as the vertical transformations themselves. Hence, as normally understood, the six principles of the second hemisphere (Libra 7 to Pisces 12) do indeed refer to states of normal adult development, but only at one general level; namely, the mental-egoic level situated within one vertical band of the cylindrical model. All the twelve principles need to be articulated from the bottom to top (from primal to mental-egoic to transcendent levels) so that the deep structures and the horizontal cyclic translations can be revealed in such a way as to go beyond the hierarchic rigidifications of Wilber's model and the transpersonal limitations of Western developmental models. The twelve principles are not only describable in developmental and processive terms, or as archetypally informing the evolutionary unfolding of the deep structures, but they also denote the multi-faceted psycho-social structures present at any point on the upward spiral of development. In following the natural implications of the astrological logic in these terms, we shall significantly part company with Wilber's model. Wilber's manner of relating egoic and transcendent structures does not adequately map the holoarchic 'translational' process at each level of the vertical spectrum as does the astrological model.
1 For example, a dwindling food supply and population pressure in hunter/gatherer culture (Aries) may set a contingent limit which propels agricultural learning and the emergence of a new mode of farming consciousness (Taurus). But this ‘limit’ does not constrain with any finality the potentiality of the Aries dimension, even as hunter-gatherer culture—an early expression of the Aries dimension—becomes part of the buried strata of history and the collective psyche, rather than integrated holarchically into the subsequent (Taurus) dimension. Aries consciousness goes on developing in accord with subsequent emergent structures, but will eventually be called to develop in a way which is no longer distorted by the stratifications of earlier historical development. This example of the historical movement from Aries through Taurus etc. occurs in dialectical relation to the simultaneous Libra through Scorpio etc. process, a dialectic which describes, among other dimensions, the inevitable encounter of warlike and peaceful societies (‘dominator’ and ‘linking’ societies—Eisler) where Aries, once the hunter, now becomes the warrior and conqueror, eventually moving society toward the repression of women and all aspects of the feminine, including feminine epistemology—process, contextualism, conversation etc.—through institutional hierarchy, war, genocide and imperialism.
2 See especially his Integral Psychology charts.
3. Astrologers also identify the Left and Right, Eastern and Western hemispheres, thus forming the four quadrants which begins to suggest Wilber's Four-Quadrant model. See chapter 21.
4. Heidegger uses the German word 'Dasein' to refer to the unique form of being that humans are, insofar as the human is the (only) being for whom being is an issue.
Continue to Chapter 7