Transpersonal Theory & the Astrological Mandala: An Evolutionary Model by Gerry Goddard
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This book bridges two fields—transpersonal theory and archetypal astrology, two fields that I hope will eventually experience a more friendly and more synergistic relationship than they have experienced until now. My goal is to present an astro-transpersonal model of consciousness that will be of interest to readers from both the transpersonal and astrological communities. For transpersonalists who are open to seeing what the deep logic of astrology might have to offer the debate on evolutionary models of consciousness yet who lack any prior astrological knowledge, easily accessible information on the standard meanings and relations of the twelve principles is provided in a single brief chapter. For astrologers approaching this work with an interest in the deep logic of their subject and its interface with cultural and transpersonal studies, yet with perhaps only a sketchy familiarity with Jungian, humanistic, and transpersonal perspectives, the relevant ideas of transpersonalism are revealed as we go.

I have long had the conviction that astrology as expertly practiced is indeed more than the 'mere' play of human imagination on geometric patterns formed by insensate planets, but for the skeptical non-astrological reader not prepared to accept the objective validity of astrology, the indisputably subtle and sophisticated astrological twelve-fold mandala can be approached in its softer sense as a heuristic. So for the astrological agnostic, the door has been left open as to the question of astrology's objective 'validity'. As a work in transpersonal theory my concern is to present an integrative model of consciousness evolution that incorporates the main insights of certain major contemporary models while offering a possible reconciliation of some of their significant differences. As a work in astrology my concern is to articulate the twelve-fold astrological mandala in terms of such an evolutionary model so as to reveal the holistic interconnection of the various empirically revealed facets (the signs and houses) in a systematic way rigorously engaging contemporary transpersonal viewpoints beyond existing astrological processive narratives. For serious astrologers, this work provides a philosophical and cosmological foundation for astrological psychology, but rather than a purely abstract and essentially dissociated theory, it finds its fulfillment in the inspirational and living insights of astrological practice.

Most significantly, here is a way of modelling dictated as much by the deep archetypal logical structure of the mandala as by the transpersonal content we are bringing to it. Beyond the elegant artistry of astrology's symbolic language and rich practice as it captures the harmonic and sympathetic resonances between human and cosmos, if astrology is objectively valid, then it must, when properly articulated, illuminate and reflect the process of individual and collective unfolding—precisely that overarching process which current transpersonal theories attempt to capture. Consequently, one would expect to find some degree of accord between both of these languages which strive to understand the cosmological and psycho-spiritual 'shape of things'.

The significance of astrology—whether taken as objectively valid, pragmatically useful, imaginatively inspirational or psychologically transformative—has become clear for many over the last several decades largely due to the competent and clarifying work of a number of astrologers. Dane Rudhyar, Charles Harvey, Liz Greene, Stephen Arroyo, Robert Hand, Glenn Perry and Richard Tarnas are among those who have articulated the archetypal language of astrology in the humanistic and depth-psychological terms of our contemporary world while applying these insights to a powerfully transformative practice. Astrology finds its validation not only in its capacity to speak meaningfully and effectively to the individual, but also in its capacity to offer, through its embrace of the insights of several disciplines, a broad model of history, culture, and consciousnessthe concern of the present project.

I need to point out that I am not inventing any grand and totally new theory; rather, I am drawing out some of the implications of certain existing theories, bringing together two large and complex givens—but in a unique way. The first given is the astrological mandala itself. In my attempt to establish a case for the deep logic of astrology and to avoid begging the question, the astrological categories are defined solely through their consensus meanings without the addition of meanings drawn, or even seen to be drawn, from the conclusions of the present work. The second given is the domain of already existing transpersonal theory: I am taking the central ideas of several important contemporary theorists, who themselves incorporate many antecedents, and am placing them up against the astrological map. Something very interesting results from this confluence. So rather than being a metaphysician working out a new system or an artist painting a picture from scratch, I am constructing a collage with carefully chosen and highly esteemed materials lying close at hand. But the surface upon which I am pasting my materials is neither a two dimensional nor a blank canvas. It is a dimensional framework whose structural logic gradually reveals itself through this very process of construction. Rather than offering any definitive critique of the works of Wilber, Washburn, Grof and others, I engage what I believe to be many of their most important insights and central claims along with certain insights of numerous other thinkers, offering criticisms and possible reconciliations or alternate modellings when appropriate, and in the process crafting the astro-transpersonal model of consciousness.

A few brief words about the background of my transpersonal and astrological orientations may be of interest. Having received an academic training in analytical philosophy, I was impelled by inner necessity to quit this particular intellectual cul de sac where powerful tools were being set to a too narrow purpose. With what had become an unfashionable metaphysical spirit and with a secret interest in the paranormal, I soon sought needed intellectual cum spiritual direction in the Eastern mystical teachings as they were then being introduced to the West by D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, Evans Wentz, Lama Govinda, Philip Kapleau and several other writers and practitioners. Somewhat later, after a few undirected experiences with psychedelics followed by a brief involvement with formal zen practice, I was challenged and inspired by the radical teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi in particular. I tried without a teacher to put these insights and teachings into an intense on-going moment-by-moment practice over an extended period with radical interior results. I would experience what many in the West would encounter; an overwhelming need and struggle to reintegrate certain ineffable and altered mind-body-energy states—both deeply sublime and profoundly disturbing—with my ongoing life situation and relationships. Simply 'getting rid of the ego', getting off the wheel of samsara, was not the 'master game' after all. When one sets sail on the great ocean in a small and leaky boat one cannot go far without turning back—though one may have seen and experienced much, and brought back much, both deepening and disorienting. For this immature and unequipped mariner setting off alone, a stronger and more sea-worthy vessel would have to be built—a long slow maturation of the self-in-the-world. To become one with the great ocean does not mean to foolishly set sail and drown in the ocean; the great traditions with their teachers and sanghas have always known this.

Shaped by a subconscious and unchallenged paradigm of individual salvation, and despite the emphasis of teachings such as Krishnamurti on the timeless and the necessary detachment from the collective/historical, I was eventually drawn to the idea of a more gradualist spiritual evolution. The world was not static after all, a relentless wheel of ignorance from which to seek escape. Rather, the world demanded our participation without which there could be no individual liberation. Despite apparent overwhelming evidence to the contrary, not only were some individuals evolving but the collective was actually evolving as well. The 'samsaric wheel' demanded our involvement for its necessary transformation. I would later look to the works of Jung and the Jungians, and to the transpersonalist Ken Wilber who spoke of the nature of the ego as a particular stage of development, clarifying the important difference between ego loss and ego transcendence, not to mention the more prosaic yet essential ego maturation. These diverse thinkers became deeply influential in the way I would again address the original philosophical questions that had continued to dog me, but now I would hold them and formulate them within a new metaphysical context.

I eventually found in astrology (which I came to in the late 1970's) a symbology both resonant to the archetypal conception of Jung and amenable to both humanistic and transpersonal interpretations. Here was a language that could articulate the interface between the two 'worlds' of soul and concrete manifestation, that could offer a bridge from my self to the mysterious 'other', that could guide me to a true appreciation of the other's difference, of the rich diversity of human nature. Most startlingly, this language was apparently grounded, beyond pure 'psyche', in concrete space-time itself! I feel it has helped me to forge a somewhat more sea-worthy vessel in which soul and intellect have become more comfortable companions.

I have come to believe that not only does the Kosmos have its physical and phenomenological topography, it also has its archetypal topography the mapping of which is the function of astrology. In this work I wish to demonstrate that the deep logic of the astrological infrastructure, when adequately understood in terms of the larger new paradigmatic and transpersonal conversation, reveals the largest archetypal categories that inform the development of both individual and collective from primal fusion to autonomous self to transpersonal realization grounded in the evolution of the cosmos and biosphere.

Continue to Chapter 1