Saturday, February 20, 2010

Planets and Archetypes 4

Planetary Archetypes

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 is important for what follows that we understand the nature of this correspondence between planets and archetypes. 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 and 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. Rather, a considerable body of evidence suggests that the movements of the planets named Jupiter and 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.3

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.4 What separated these two views, of course, was the long development of Western thought that gradually differentiated a meaning-giving human subject from a neutral objective world, thereby necessarily locating the source of any universal principles of meaning within the human psyche. Integrating these two views (much as Jung began to do in his final years under the impact of synchronicities), contemporary astrology suggests that archetypes possess a reality that is both objective and subjective, informing both outer cosmos and inner human psyche ” as above so below ”with the human being playing a pivotal role in the specific inflection and participatory enactment of the universal archetypes' concrete manifestation.

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, which 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 ”but again, with the crucial 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 shifting planetary patterns reflected in the archetypal dynamics of human experience. One could also say that the macrocosm is embedded in the collective unconscious, with the human psyche a microcosmic vessel of the cosmic whole. In Platonic terms, astrology affirms the existence of an anima mundi informing the cosmos, a world soul in which the human psyche participates. 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 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.

So also Jung: I hold Kerenyi to be absolutely right when he says that in the symbol the world itself is speaking. 5


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