Creating the New Earth Together

Posts tagged ‘Archetypes’

Archetypes, Gods and Planets and The Evolution of Consciousness

“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof: the world and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” (Psalm 24)

The Heart Nebula

Our conscious presence in a cosmic context has been more vividly and visually brought to our awareness, as well as recalled to remembrance, by pictures of the vast cosmos made with the Hubble Telescope and shared with the world by our tenaciously adventurous astronomers who keep peering deeper and deeper into the “dark space” around us. 

What they have brought to us is virtually overwhelming, certainly unfathomable. The greater wonder of it all, however, is our ability to take it all into our consciousness through our very tiny eyes and our very tiny brains. This speaks to the largeness of our Being and our shared Consciousness. We are truly Gods in the midst of Creation enjoying what We have co-created with the Great Spirit Creator, the Lord God and heavenly King, whose Earth it is, “and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.” 


With that inspirational preface, I will continue from where I left off in my previous post with a consideration of the nature of archetypes and their planetary associations as explored by cultural historian and philosopher Richard Tarnas in his epic work COSMOS AND PSYCHE.

[A graduate of Harvard University and Saybrook Institute, Tarnas is also author of The Passion Of The Western Mind, currently holding professorship of philosophy and cultural history at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where he founded the graduate program in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness, and at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara.]

As we were considering, archetypes in Greek mythology were gods and goddesses who were enshrined by heavenly bodies, such as planets and constellations. As the Greek mind evolved out of “myth to reason,” archetypes lost their divinity with Plato’s philosophical mentality: (Emphasis mine)

Plato gave to the archetypal perspective its clas­sic metaphysical formulation. In the Platonic view, archetypes–the Ideas or Forms–are absolute essences that transcend the empirical world yet give the world its form and meaning. They are timeless universals that serve as the fundamental reality informing every concrete particular. Something is beautiful pre­cisely to the extent that the archetype of Beauty is present in it. Or, described from a different viewpoint, something is beautiful precisely to the extent that it participates in the archetype of Beauty. For Plato, direct knowledge of these Forms or Ideas is regarded as the spiritual goal of the philosopher and the intel­lectual passion of the scientist.

In turn, Plato’s student and successor Aristotle brought to the concept of universal forms a more empiricist approach, one supported by a rationalism whose spirit of logical analysis was secular rather than spiritual and epiphanic. In the Aristotelian perspective, the forms lost their numinosity but gained a new recog­nition of their dynamic and teleological character as concretely embodied in the empirical world and processes of life. For Aristotle, the universal forms primarily exist in things, not above or beyond them. Moreover, they not only give form and essential qualities to concrete particulars but also dynamically transmute them from within, from potentiality to actuality and maturity, as the acorn gradually metamorphoses into the oak tree, the embryo into the mature organism, a young girl into a woman. The organism is drawn forward by the form to a realization of its inherent potential, just as a work of art is actualized by the artist guided by the form in the artist’s mind. Matter is an intrinsic susceptibility to form, an un­qualified openness to being configured and dynamically realized through form….

The Aristotelian form thus serves both as an indwelling impulse that orders and moves development and as the intelligible structure of a thing, its inner nature, that which makes it what it is, its essence. For Aristotle as for Plato, form is the principle by which something can be known, its essence recognized, its universal character distinguished within its particular embodiment.

The idea of archetypal or universal forms then underwent a number of important developments in the later classical, medieval and Renaissance periods.” It became the focus of one of the central and most sustained debates of Scholastic philosophy, “the problem of universals,” a controversy that both reflected and mediated the evolution of Western thought as the focus of intelligible reality gradually shifted from the transcendent to the immanent, from the universal to the particular, and ultimately from the divinely given archetypal Form (eidos) to the humanly constructed general name (nomina) after a final efflorescence in the philosophy and art of the High Renaissance. The concept of archetypes gradually retreated and then virtually disappeared with the modern rise of nominalist philosophy and empiricist science. The archetypal perspective remained vital principally in the arts, in classical and mythological studies, and in Romanticism, as a kind of archaic afterglow. Confined to the subjective realm of interior meaning by the dominant Enlightenment world view, it continued in this form latent in the modern sensibility. The radiant ascent and dominance of modern reason coincided precisely with the eclipse of the archetypal vision.

The concept of archetypes evolved further over the decades, which Tarnas details further. I will conclude with his summary of its evolutionary journey: 

It was not until the turn of the twentieth century that the concept of archetypes, foreshadowed by Nietzsche’s vision of the Dionysian and Apollonian principles shaping human culture, underwent an unexpected renascence. The immediate matrix of its rebirth was the empirical discoveries of depth psychology, first with Freud’s formulations of the Oedipus complex, Eros and Thanatos, ego, id, and superego (a “powerful mythology,” as Wittgenstein called psychoanalysis), then in an expanded, fully articulated form with the work of Jung and archetypal psychology. Jung, as we have seen, drawing on Kant’s critical epistemology and Freud’s instinct theory yet going beyond both, described archetypes as autonomous primordial forms in the psyche that structure and impel all human experience and behavior. In his last formulations influenced by his research on synchronicities, Jung came to regard archetypes as expressions not only of a collective unconscious shared by all human beings but also of a larger matrix of being and meaning that informs and encompasses both the physical world and the human psyche….

Finally, further developments of the archetypal perspective emerged in the postmodern period, not only in post-Jungian psychology but in other fields such as anthropology; mythology, religious studies, philosophy of science, linguistic analysis, phenomenology, process philosophy, and feminist scholarship. Advances in understanding the role of paradigms, symbols, and metaphors in shaping human experience and cognition brought new dimensions to the archetypal understanding. In the crucible of postmodern thought, the concept of archetypes was elaborated and critiqued, refined through the deconstruction of rigidly essentialist “false universals” and cultural stereotypes, and enriched through an increased awareness of archetypes’ fluid, evolving, multivalent, and participatory nature. Reflecting many of the above influences, James Hillman sums up the archetypal perspective in depth psychology:

Let us then imagine archetypes as the deepest patterns of psychic functioning, the roots of the soul governing the perspectives we have of ourselves and the world. They are the axiomatic, self-evident images to which psychic life and our theories about it ever return …. There are many other metaphors for describing them: immaterial potentials of structure, like invisible crystals in solution or forms in plants that suddenly show forth under certain conditions; patterns of instinctual behavior like those in animals that direct actions along unswerving paths; the genres and topoi in literature; the recurring typicalities in history; the basic syndromes in psychiatry; the paradigmatic thought models in science; the worldwide figures, rituals, and relationships in anthropology.

But one thing is absolutely essential to the notion of archetypes: their emotional possessive effect, their bedazzlement of consciousness so that it becomes blind to its own stance. By setting up a universe which tends to hold everything we do, see, and say in the sway of its cosmos, an archetype is best comparable with a God. And Gods, religions sometimes say, are less accessible to the senses and to the intellect than they are to the imaginative vision and emotion of the soul. They are cosmic perspectives in which the soul participates. They are the lords of its realms of being, the patterns for its mimesis. The soul cannot be, except in one of their patterns. All psychic reality is governed by one or another archetypal fantasy, given sanction by a God. I cannot but be in them. 

There is no place without Gods and no activity that does not enact them. Every fantasy, every experience has its archetypal reason. There is nothing that does not belong to one God or another.

Archetypes thus can be understood and described in many ways, and much of the history of Western thought has evolved and revolved around this very issue. For our present purposes, we can define an archetype as a universal prin­ciple or force that affects–impels, structures, permeates–the human psyche and the world of human experience on many levels. One can think of them in mythic terms as gods and goddesses (or what Blake called “the Immortals”), in Platonic terms as transcendent first principles and numinous Ideas, or in Aris­totelian terms as immanent universals and dynamic indwelling forms. One can approach them in a Kantian mode as a priori categories of perception and cogni­tion, in Schopenhauerian terms as the universal essences of life embodied in great works of art, or in the Nietzschean manner as primordial principles sym­bolizing basic cultural tendencies and modes of being. In the twentieth-century context, one can conceive of them in Husserlian terms as essential structures of human experience, in Wittgensteinian terms as linguistic family resemblances linking disparate but overlapping particulars, in Whiteheadian terms as eternal objects and pure potentialities whose ingression informs the unfolding process of reality, or in Kuhnian terms as underlying paradigmatic structures that shape scientific understanding and research. Finally, with depth psychology, one can approach them in the Freudian mode as primordial instincts impelling and structuring biological and psychological processes, or in the Jungian manner as fundamental formal principles of the human psyche, universal expressions of a collective unconscious and, ultimately, of the unus mundus.

The Evolution of Human Consciousness

I bring this consideration of archetypes and the evolution of their meaning to the human experience of life on planet Earth forward for the overview it provides of the evolution of human consciousness and how we human beings viewed the larger cosmic context in which we live and have our being. For one thing, how we have desperately sought out God and our origins in the external world, hoping to find both “lo here or lo there.”  

Finally, after all these decades, our consciousness has evolved sufficiently to bring to our awareness the awakening realization that the “image and likeness of God” is within us and is who and what we are.  The Archetype of all archetypes is the Light from which all things are made. I love this passage from The Gospel of Thomas:

Jesus said: “The images are revealed to people. The light within them is hidden in the image of the Father’s light. He will be revealed. His image is hidden in the light. . . .  You are pleased when you see your own likeness. When you see your images that came into being before you did, immortal, invisible images, how much can you bear?” 

The Archetype of Man is God, is Spirit, and is hidden in the Light of Love. Our Sun is the origin of the light that encompasses Earth and all the planets. In that light is the essence, the Truth, that makes all things created what they are, what their purpose is in the larger Design, and how they function as integral and essential parts in the One Whole.  As the current planetary alignment draws to a close in six day on February 20th, let us let Love be the Archetypal Spirit that moves us forward as we co-create the New Earth.  

I will conclude this series with my next post. Until then,

Be Love. Be loved.

Happy Valentine’s Day !


Astrology, Free Will and Determinism

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.”

I rarely ever read my horoscope in the daily newspaper. Born on the cusp of Taurus and Gemini, I’m usually undecided about which sign is more influential in my life. Most likely Gemini, as I tend to avoid making decisions and simply do what’s obviously needed in the moment.

In considering the astrological influences of zodiac signs and planetary alignments in our lives, the question naturally comes up as to how much control we have individually and collectively over our lives and the unfolding of global events. A friend recently responded to my previous post addressing this very question.  

When I consult someone regarding their astro-chart (which I do occasionally) I always preface what I say with advice that there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ astrological influence, although, through personal interpretation/judgement, such opinions are often made. I say things like, “You are the master of your own ship”. The focus on mastery/maturity allows for proper conscious behavior as these cosmic influences ebb and flow around our little ‘ship’ of being. Cymatics is an interesting subject in this respect which confirms that there are larger patterns within which we live and have our being. We don’t control the larger pattern of life, our sun/solar system/universe…we can only align with this reality, or continue to try resisting it, to our eventual demise! One wants to ‘go with the flow’ here…or expect a capsized/cataclysmic experience. — Donald White

Don echoes the words of the poem Invictus: 

“It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” 

Richard Tarnas bumps up against the issue of free will and determinism in his research into the history of planetary alignments and their impact on the human psyche, which he published in 2007 in his epic book COSMOS AND PSYCHE, Intimations of a New World View. I think he addresses the issue quite thoroughly: (Emphasis mine) 

Free Will and Determinism

Because the question of free will and determinism has long been the most exis­tentially and spiritually critical issue in all discussions of astrology, I will offer a few preliminary remarks here.

There is no question that a substantial part of the Western astrological tradi­tion supported a relatively deterministic interpretation of cosmic influence (a tendency even more marked in Indian astrology). For numerous schools and theo­rists of ancient and medieval astrology, the horoscope revealed a person’s destined fate, and the celestial powers governed human lives with a more or less rigid sovereignty. The widespread reemergence of Western astrology in the course of the twentieth century, however, arising in a new context and at a different stage in the West’s cultural and psychological evolution, brought with it a deeply trans­formed vision of both the human self and the nature of astrological prediction. The most characteristic attitude among contemporary astrologers holds astro­logical knowledge to be ultimately emancipatory rather than constricting, bring­ing a potential increase of personal freedom and fulfillment through an enlarged understanding of the self and its cosmic context.

In this view, knowing the basic archetypal dynamics and patterns of meaning in one’s birth chart allows one to bring greater awareness to the task of fulfilling one’s authentic nature and intrinsic potential, as in Jung’s concept of individua­tion. The more accurately one understands the archetypal forces that inform and affect one’s life, the more flexibly and intelligently responsive one can be in deal­ing with them. To the extent that one is unconscious of these potent and some­times highly problematic forces, one is more or less a pawn of the archetypes, acting according to unconscious motivations with little possibility of being a co­creative participant in the unfolding and refining of those potentials. Archetypal awareness brings greater self-awareness and thus greater personal autonomy. Again, this is the basic rationale for depth psychology, from Freud and Jung on­ward: to release oneself from the bondage of blind action and unconsciously mo­tivated experience, to recognize and explore the deeper forces in the human psyche and thereby modulate and transform them. On the individual level, as­trology is valued for its capacity to articulate which archetypes are especially im­portant for each person, how they interact with each other, and when they are most likely to be activated in the course of each life.

But in addition to the psychological evolution of the modern self with its in­creased sense of dynamic autonomy and self-reflective interiority, perhaps the most significant factor in the emerging emancipatory understanding of astrology is a deepening grasp of the nature of the archetypal principles themselves, the subject to which we now turn.

So, let’s have a brief look into the nature of archetypal principles—and the first thing to do is define what archetypes are. For that, we have Richard Tarnas to fill us in on the history of archetypes, at one point considered by the Greeks to be gods who populated an enchanted Universe. In other words immortals embodied by material forms, such as planets and constellations. In the more contemporary mind, the archetype is the prototype that informs things and events, the immanent “form” that makes things what they are and shapes their behavior.  Tarnas explains the concept within its historical context giving us a view into the evolution of the word “God.” (Emphasis mine)

Archetypal Principles

The concept of planetary archetypes, in many respects the pivotal concept of the emerging astrological paradigm, is complex and must be approached from several directions. Before describing the nature of the association between planets and archetypes, however, we must first address the general concept of archetypes and the remarkable evolution of the archetypal perspective in the history of Western thought.

The earliest form of the archetypal perspective, and in certain respects its deepest ground, is the primordial experience of the great gods and goddesses of the ancient mythic imagination. In this once universal mode of consciousness, memorably embodied at the dawn of Western culture in the Homeric epics and later in classical Greek drama, reality is understood to be pervaded and struc­tured by powerful numinous forces and presences that are rendered to the hu­man imagination as the divinized figures and narratives of ancient myth, often closely associated with the celestial bodies.

Yet our modern word god, or deity or divinity, does not accurately convey the lived meaning of these primordial powers for the archaic sensibility, a meaning that was sustained and developed in the Platonic understanding of the divine. This point was clearly articulated by W. K. C. Guthrie, drawing on a valuable distinction originally made by the German scholar Wilamowitz-Moellendorff.

Theos, the Greek word which we have in mind when we speak of Plato’s god, has primarily a predicative force. That is to say, the Greeks did not, as Christians or Jews do, first assert the existence of God and then pro­ceed to enumerate his attributes, saying “God is good,” “God is love”and so forth. Rather they were so impressed or awed by the things in life or nature remarkable either for joy or fear that they said “this is a god” or “that is a god.” The Christian says “God is love,” the Greek “Love is theos,” or “a god.” As another writer [G. M. A. Grube] has explained it:

“By saying that love, or victory, is god, or, to be more accurate, a god, was meant first and foremost that it is more than human, not subject to death, everlasting …. Any power, any force we see at work in the world, which is not born with us and will continue after we are gone could thus be called a god, and most of them were.”

In this state of mind, and with this sensitiveness to the superhuman character of many things which happen to us, and which give us, it may be, sudden stabs of joy or pain which we do not understand, a Greek poet could write lines like: “Recognition between friends is theos,” It is a state of mind which obviously has no small bearing on the much­ discussed question of monotheism or polytheism in Plato, if indeed it does not rob the question of meaning altogether.

In one perspective, “monotheism” and “polytheism” can be understood as one and the same reality. “Out of one many,” as we are reminded of this oneness on our currency by the words “E Pluribus Unum.” The Master Jesus stated this truth in his final words to his disciples before his departure: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Today we call these “mansions” levels of Consciousness.  Consciousness is, in reality, all there is. One Consciousness with many levels, or differentiations. Out of the One God spring many “gods,” or points of Light, focal points that differentiate the One Light of Love, of Truth and of Life.  And so, we have one Sun in our solar system that focuses the Light of the Galactic Center, which focuses the Light of the One Consciousness for creation in this corner of the Universe.  Is this differentiation perhaps the foundation upon which the concept of archetypes is based? 

This, in my view, is all indicative of the process underway of remembering the “Truth” that makes us free of our current limitations in consciousness and awareness.  We are remembering that we ourselves are focal points of the One Light of Love, of Truth and of Life. We are awakening to the larger cosmic context of our journey through time and space as angels, if you will, or gods, in our Father’s House of many mansions.

I will continue with this discussion in my next post. Until then, 

Be love. Be loved.




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