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Planetary Archetypes . . . . . . . . . . Man in a Cosmic Context

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about….  Rumi

Thank you, Rumi, for your rumination. The world is indeed too full to talk about, so I will simply write about it.  In this series, I’ve been considering the history of archetypes and its parallel evolution with that of human consciousness. The source of my research is Richard Tarnas’ epic book COSMOS AND PSYCHE, which I am finding incredibly fascinating and enlightening a read and study.  

In the previous post I shared Tarnas’ research into the history and evolution of the concept of archetypes and how human consciousness has evolved with it, as though the archetypes and human psyche are intimately blended and impacted by one another. (It may well be that the human psyche itself is the originator of the concept of archetypes.)  In this post, I will share the planetary aspects of the author’s perspective gained in his exhaustive and detailed research.

Listen to the Message of the Planets Aligned

It is not by happenstance that this material has come into my hands just prior to the time of the current planetary alignment, which will end on February 20th, two days before this post will be published. My consciousness is attuned to the energetic messages being transmitted to Earth at this pivotal and chaotic time when the most powerful person in man’s world is about to be chosen by the citizens of the United States of America—who are divided amongst themselves with fear and hatred governing hearts and minds. There is an encoded message for us in the music streaming from these aligned spheres, and one message I am hearing is

“Nothing is wrong. Everything matters. Let not your hearts be troubled. Let love fill them and radiate without concern for results.” 

As I write, I am aware that some of my readers may not have space in their minds and hearts to think and care much about these cosmic events. There is so much to keep up and deal with in our lives these days. And with one’s “nose up against the grindstone,” so-to-speak, one is understandably oblivious to the larger drama of life taking place in the cosmic context.  I say this not in judgment or criticism but with compassion for the busy human state. For reasons that are emerging even as I write, these larger events taking place in our cosmic habitat have projected themselves into my consciousness for consideration at this time.  So I will indulge them and give them due consideration—and I do welcome and appreciate comments and feedback from my readership, which fluctuates up and down with the subject matter.  Currently it’s up, so I’ll keep moving with this consideration—the next one already presenting itself in the back of my mind and having something to do with myths and memories of Paradise.  Hmm, sounds inviting.

Asking your forbearance, I burden you once again with an excerpt from COSMOS AND PSYCHE for your consideration and, hopefully, your edification and intellectual pleasure.  My mind loves to be engaged by truth—not that what follows is true at all levels, as there is always a higher truth.  This author writes from a higher level of consciousness than simply scientific and mental. It’s his spiritual perspectives, which he shares amidst all the astronomical and astrological data, that draws me to his writings—and to sharing them here. (Emphasis mine) 


The astrological thesis as developed within the Platonic-Jungian lineage holds that these complex, multidimensional archetypes governing the forms of human experience are intelligibly connected with the planets and their movements in the heavens. This association is observable in a constant coincidence between specific planetary alignments and specific archetypally patterned phenomena in human affairs. . . . It does not appear to be accurate to say that astrologers have in essence arbitrarily used the mythological stories of the ancients about the gods Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mars, Mercury, and the rest to project symbolic meaning onto the planets, which are in actuality merely neutral material bodies without intrinsic significance [I cannot agree with Tarnas here, as all material forms, especially the planets, have spiritual, or vibrational, significance.] Rather, a considerable body of evidence suggests that the movements of the planets named Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mars, and Mercury tend to coincide with patterns of human experience that closely resemble the character of those planets’ mythical counterparts. That is, the astrologer’s insight, perhaps intuitive and divinatory in its ancient origins, appears to be fundamentally an empirical one. This empiricism is given context and meaning by a mythic, archetypal perspective, a perspective that the planetary correlations seem to support and illustrate with remarkable consistency. The nature of these correlations presents to the astrological researcher what appears to be an orchestrated synthesis combining the precision of mathematical astronomy with the psychological complexity of the archetypal imagination, a synthesis whose sources seemingly exist a priori within the fabric of the universe.

Here is where the distinction between the ancient philosophical (Platonic) and the modern psychological (earlier Jungian) conceptions of archetypes becomes especially relevant.  Whereas the original Jungian archetypes were primarily considered to be the basic formal principles of the human psyche, the original Platonic archetypes were regarded as the essential principles of reality itself, rooted in the very nature of the cosmos.  What separated these two views was the long development of Western thought that gradually differentiated a meaning-giving human subject from a neutral objective world, thereby locating the source of any universal principles of meaning exclusively within the human psyche. Integrating these two views (much as Jung began to do in his final years under the influence of synchronicities), contemporary astrology suggests that archetypes possess a reality that is both objective and subjective, one that informs both outer cosmos and inner human psyche, “as above, so below.” 

In effect, planetary archetypes are considered to be both “Jungian” (psychological) and “Platonic” (metaphysical) in nature: universal essences or forms at once intrinsic to and independent of the human mind, that not only endure as timeless universals but are also co-creatively enacted and recursively affected through human participation. And they are regarded as functioning in something like a Pythagorean-Platonic cosmic setting, i.e., in a cosmos pervasively integrated through the workings of a universal intelligence and creative principle. What distinguishes the contemporary astrological view is the additional factor of human co-creative participation in the concrete expressions of this creative principle, with the human being recognized as itself a potentially autonomous embodiment of the cosmos and its creative power and intelligence. 

In Jungian terms, the astrological evidence suggests that the collective unconscious is ultimately embedded in the macrocosm itself, with the planetary motions a synchronistic reflection of the unfolding archetypal dynamics of human experience. In Platonic terms, astrology affirms the existence of an anima mundi informing the cosmos, a world soul in which the human psyche participates as a microcosm of the whole. Finally, the Platonic, Jungian, and astrological understandings of archetypes are all complexly linked, both historically and conceptually, to the archetypal structures, narratives, and figures of ancient myth. Thus [Joseph] Campbell’s famous dictum: 

It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation. 

. . . .  For conceptual clarity, then, when we consider the meaning and character of each planetary archetype in the following chapters, it will be useful to understand these principles in three different senses: in the Homeric sense as a primordial deity and mythic figure; in the Platonic sense as a cosmic and metaphysical principle; and in the Jungian sense as a psychological principle (with its Kantian and Freudian background)—-with all of these associated with a specific planet.

For example, the archetype of Venus can be approached on the Homeric level as the Greek mythic figure of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love, the Mesopotamian Ishtar, the Roman Venus. On the Platonic level Venus can be understood in terms of the metaphysical principle of Eros and the Beautiful. And on the Jungian level Venus can be viewed as the psychological tendency to perceive, desire, create, or in some other way experience beauty and love, to attract and be attracted, to seek harmony and aesthetic or sensuous pleasure, to engage in artistic activity and in romantic and social relations. These different levels or senses are distinguished here only to suggest the inherent complexity of arche­types, which must be formulated not as literal concretely definable entities but rather as dynamic potentialities and essences of meaning that cannot be localized or restricted to a specific dimension.

Finally, alongside this essential multidimensionality of archetypes is their equally essential multivalence. The Saturn archetype can express itself as judgment but also as old age, as tradition but also as oppression, as time but also as mortality, as depression but also as discipline, as gravity in the sense of heaviness and weight but also as gravity in the sense of seriousness and dignity. Thus Jung:

The ground principles, the archai, of the unconscious are indescribable because of their wealth of reference, although in themselves recognizable. The discriminating intellect naturally keeps on trying to establish their singleness of meaning and thus misses the essential point; for what we can above all establish as the one thing consistent with their nature is their manifold meaning, their almost limitless wealth of reference, which makes any unilateral formulation impossible.

This discussion is directly relevant to the outcome of our earlier consideration of free will and determinism in astrology. If I may summarize that thesis in a single statement: It seems to be specifically the multivalent potentiality that is intrinsic to the planetary archetypes—their dynamic indeterminacy—that opens up ontological space for the human being’s full co-creative participation in the unfolding of individual life, history, and the cosmic process. It is just this combi­nation of archetypal multivalence and an autonomous participatory self that engenders the possibility of a genuinely open universe. The resulting cosmological metastructure is still Pythagorean-Platonic in essential ways, but the relationship of the human self and the cosmic principles has undergone a metamorphosis that fully reflects and integrates the enormous modern and postmodern developments.

Our philosophical understanding of archetypes, our scientific understanding of the cosmos, and our psychological understanding of the self have all undergone a profound evolution in the course of history, and they have done so in complexly interconnected ways at each stage in this development. Our experience of all these has evolved, century by century, and thus our theories have as well.

Theories abound in the mind-made world, but they only tend to confuse rather than clarify understanding. The questions I ask are: “Who is it that is trying to understand? And what self?”  It seems that the self who is looking IS the self who are trying to “psychologically” understand.  However, as we know, a state cannot observe itself.  I am reminded of words attributed to Saint Francis:  “What you are looking for is who is looking.”

There is one final excerpt I wish to share from Richard Tarnas’ book in which he speaks to where we are now in the 21st century relative to a century-long planetary configuration.  I think you will enjoy his take on the archetypal profile presently at play in the human psyche shaping human behavior and global events.

In the next series I will do my best to offer clarification and enlightenment from a higher perspective. Until then, I greet you in Rumi’s field “beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing.” 

Be love. Be loved.








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