THE ASTRO-PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH TO SELF-EDUCATION
FROM THE GREATER TO THE LESSER WHOLE
Of all the great enemies of man, the greatest is fear. We have seen how fear arises in the process of development of the personality when the maturing individual finds himself confronted by the shadow cast by his refusal to constructively face the challenges of a new order of life and consciousness. When such refusals have accumulated through a long series of cycles, in a particular civilization or in an individual of high spiritual development, the confrontation with the Shadow can indeed become cataclysmic; but in the vast majority of individual cases, the meeting with the Shadow is experienced less dramatically as a somewhat uncontrollable fear of the unknown, making us shrink from taking the bold step across the threshold which, through the vast darkness of the unconscious, would lead into the realm of the mysterious generic and collective powers (or "Archetypes") which Goethe named in Faust the "realm of the Mothers." These un-individualized, universally "human," or even cosmic powers are indeed the "Mothers" of the eventually mature individual personality; they provide the latter with substance and energy, with psychic-mental life. But before these powers can truly operate as "Mothers" of any individual personality, they must have become "impregnated" by the divine spirit; for, without such an impregnation, their creation must remain spiritually unformed and without evolutionary meaning the mere proliferation of psychic substance multiplying itself senselessly toward inevitable disintegration. The spiritual impregnation the descent of the creative Spirit into the consecrated soul ("Mary") can be blocked by fear. The ego can recoil before the Visitation, and tightly close the gates of its psychic and mental structures. The "unhappened" is then bound to turn destructive. "Evil" is the shadow of the good that was not allowed to happen the shape of our unlived life.
The devoted and eager (perhaps over-eager!) practice of astrology in relation to one's own life often tends to give rise to an insistent, even if elusive, fear: the fear of "bad" aspects. As already stated, the fervent and concentrated study of one's own birth-chart and progressions must of necessity intensify whatever the chart contains. The personality's attention being consciously focused upon the potentialities which the chart reveals, these potentialities are thereby impelled to actually manifest with greater vigor. Anyone put in the spotlight reveals himself at his best or at his worst! Light is energy; consciousness releases power. To be conscious of a
possibility ahead is to activate its coming to a focus of manifestation. The essential point is, however, that no such possibility includes as a predetermined and set factor the human meaning of what it will be when actualized. Any possibility can become either a positive or a negative actuality. Fear tends to make of it a negative manifestation; faith turns it into a positive fact. Fear, as a first reaction or impression, may not be avoidable; yet, if fear can be transmuted into faith before the potentiality becomes an actuality, no harm need be done. Indeed, it is by means of the repeated transmutations of fear of impending changes into faith in the creative spirit of renewal that personality reaches individual maturity and power; for to reach maturity is to have won over the fear of responsibility and of losing oneself into a greater Self. An individual's power is the power he has won over the inchoate energies of nature forever running fatefully downward toward a dead level ("entropy"). The true life of personality is a life of ever-renewed victory; there are no final victories.
The central problem of the education to personality is therefore the transmutation of fear into faith. Astrologically speaking, this means acquiring a constructive attitude to one's "bad" aspects, and to any
so-called evil or unfortunate feature in one's birth-chart. Whoever develops or stresses a negative attitude of fear with regard to any and all such astrological factors rouses, consolidates, and gives added power to the Shadow. "The meeting with the Shadow" is the meeting with oneself but, if one faces oneself with courage and with faith in the Self, the Shadow vanishes. It vanishes when caught between two lights: the light of one's courage and the radiance of God's Grace.
This principle is fundamental in any valid self-education. The only way to absorb a shadow is as every photographer knows to catch it between two sources of light. Not to increase the intensity of one source, however spiritual or divine note well! If God or any great "Master of compassion" appeared among us, the light He would emanate would generate the darkest kind of shadows, unless all people could match, at least to some extent, His light with theirs. This is why whenever Avatars (or Manifestations) of God occur on earth (because of an irrepressible evolutionary need), they arouse at once powerful enmity in at least a few; they drive unyielding egos to irrational hatred and insanity. Martyrs fall to ghastly tormentors as, confronted with the divine Light, those who cling desperately to their old privileges and their cultural idols are compelled by the very terror this Light causes in them to enact the blackest deeds. For these deeds, according to old Gnostic teachings, any Christ-being must suffer and atone (as well as for the failures of His accepted disciples), because the blackness of the deeds is in direct proportion to the glaring
intensity of the Light. For this reason, no God-like personage will reveal his light to those with rigid egos unless he must do so for an evolutionary all-human purpose, knowing fully the tragic effects of such a revelation, and the sacrifice it would require of him.
If, on the other hand, a person contains a strong light in his own soul, then that light should burn brighter in response to the divine radiance, and, as a result, the very structure of his psyche becomes translucent and transfigured. This capacity for translucency and transfiguration is the ability in an individual to assimilate divine Grace (in Greek, Charis, whence Charity), what the Sufi mystic calls the baraka of the Teacher, or what Sri Aurobindo defines as the Mother-force. The process of assimilation of this downflow of Grace out of the great compassionate heart can also be called a process of theosynthesis analogous to the life-process in the vegetable kingdom known as "photosynthesis." Photosynthesis is the process by which the green leaves of a plant under the impact of light-rays chemically transform the carbon dioxide and water of the atmosphere into the sugar or starch-like compounds (carbohydrates) necessary for the plant's growth and indirectly, for the growth of all animals who feed on plants. Through this chemical transformation (and through it alone!), the energy of the Sun is "fixed" into the plant, assimilated and made available for the sustenance of all life on earth. This is the essential function of the vegetable kingdom in the economy of earth-life.
Similarly, there is some element in human nature which is able to "fix" and assimilate the energy of spirit emanating from "divine" Beings. The diffused energy of the universal spirit is absorbed by the human organism through the breath; and we may speak here of "pneumasynthesis" (from pneuma which means both breath and spirit), a process of assimilation in which the red corpuscles of human blood play a part analogous to that which the green chlorophyll of the leaves performs. But besides this process of spiritual absorption, which has been considered by some occultists as the basic factor making possible (in due time) ego-differentiation and individualization, one should also speak of the process of "theo-synthesis" which operates at a higher level in terms of pure consciousness and of "mind-substance." The Greek word theos means "god," but it does not have to refer to the Christian concept of a personal God. In the Gospels, the terms "Kingdom of Heaven" (Heaven being a translation of the Greek, makarios, which means "the Sky") and "Kingdom of God" appear to be interchangeable. Theos is cosmos considered a unity. This unity can be microcosmic as well as macrocosmic. Thus, at a high stage of spiritual development, a person can radiate a "divine" energy the baraka of the Sufi Master as well as God, whose
"Grace" manifests as the Holy Spirit. A human being immured within his ego-walls, shuts himself off from these "gift-waves" of divine Love and Mercy. He is then like a plant growing in a dark cave.
By this process of theosynthesis, the human mind, in the spiritual organism of the individualized and conscious Self, "fixes" the energy of divine Grace, as the leaf fixes the energy of sunrays in its chlorophyll granules. It is this energy which feeds the "Body of Christ" (or in Buddhistic and Taoist philosophy, the "Diamond Body") within every human being who is spiritually ready to give it birth "in his heart." This readiness is measured by the quality as well as the intensity of the person's faith. Faith in what? Not in a personal God who dispenses salvation to the sinful soul; but faith in the "spiritual fullness" of the universal Whole within which the individual comes to experience himself as a participant. A person's birth-chart, when significantly understood, is a localized and individualized expression of this all-encompassing spiritual fullness the pleroma (spiritual fullness) of the whole sky focused upon the point of birth at the exact time of the "first breath." The process of theosynthesis is the assimilation of the Idea of God (archetype) which the birth-chart formulates in geometrical patterns in the sky, and of the Energy of God which was released through this birth-sky and is released through it at all times and all its progressive modifications, if we turn our minds to God in faith, as the green leaf turns itself toward the physical Sun.
The word God may be replaced here by many others. What I am discussing is purely factual psychology. It is also astrology, once astrology is seen as a method of self-education and as a path toward the fulfillment of the essential harmony (rather than the "law") of our individual being.
The core of this fulfillment is the process of theosynthesis, the action of the greater Whole upon the lesser whole, man as an individual, and the response of this individual person to the downflow of cosmic forces consciously focused through the lens of a clear and open mind. But this process of fulfillment would be meaningless if the astrologer did not have a holistic approach to the birth-chart. The absence of such an approach can totally vitiate whatever traditional knowledge of a psychological character has been transmitted to us from the archaic ages before it became personalized in Greece and Alexandria.
The first and basic principle of this holistic approach can be stated as follows: The only true and valid "I" is that which includes the whole of the personality; thus, the whole of the birth-chart. Anyone who, looking at one single factor in his birth-chart, says "I am this or that" commits a basic sin against wholeness which means also "holiness," wholesomeness, and health. It is very much the same as when the ruler or executive of a nation identifies his rule with the interests and prejudices of only one class or group of people in the nation. Every planet in a birth-chart is a potential "pressure group" trying not only to attract the attention of the ego (the government), but to control its judgments and decisions. Every function of the personality seeks to be the dominant function around which every other function and feeling revolves. By identifying itself with
such a dominant function, the ego throws the whole organism of personality out of balance and harmony. This is the cause of much, if not all, personal misery and in a sense, the source of evil the result of mistaking the part for the whole.
In the average psychologically undeveloped person, one function after another usurps the prerogative of the "I" and forces this "I" to become identified with itself. The "I" is thus like a cork floating helplessly on the surface of a pool churned by winds blowing from all directions. There is no stability, no possibility for the divine purpose of the personality to be visible to the ego whose only task is to keep from splitting into many fragments. If, however, the ego manages to get a firm grasp of the psychological situation, it may find itself driven to act as a dynamic ruler; but, in such a case, what actually happens is that it rules under the driving power of some particular motive which excludes other motives basically essential to the wholeness and health of the personality. For instance, the ego's rule may be given its direction and special character by a dominant passion, such as greed or the fanaticism of puritan morality. In either case, the ego rules by suppressing some vital parts or functions of the total organism of personality. The result may be a spectacular life driven by a one-pointed energy toward a set goal. Yet it is not a "wholesome" life. It is a fanatic life, in which "God" cannot normally manifest, because God is absolute Harmony. The process of theosynthesis cannot operate adequately or completely in that life, because the substance of divinity is, above all, characterized by its harmonic quality, its balanced rhythm. Even if such a substance could be assimilated by the soul, it would at once deteriorate, poisoned by the discordant emphasis of the fanatic life. Any type of fanaticism makes it impossible to reach the condition of a fulfilled and spiritually mature personality. However, I must add that in the process of differentiating and individualizing the ego-structure, one-pointed devotion to one particular goal, however limited and narrow, is often a temporary necessity. It is perhaps a necessity; yet, it must be regarded as a tragic necessity, for it inevitably leads to the formation of a deep shadow, which in turn will have to be absorbed and neutralized by a play of lights when the soul is recovered enough from its fanaticism to absorb light by
theosynthesis and gradually match the illumination that comes from the divine Source with its own radiance.
What I am discussing here is the process of development toward harmony and wholeness, a process which must take into consideration everything the chart contains and which is oriented toward an intuitional perception of the chart as a whole. The chart is a "chord" of energies and functions. What counts in it are not the component tones considered as isolated factors, but the harmony of the whole. Thus, the astrologer on the path to personality integration should first of all establish in his consciousness a "harmonic" realization of the wholeness of his birth-chart. In this realization nothing is to be left out; nothing is to be seen as evil, or unfortunate, or particularly hard. Likewise, no birth-chart is to be considered as unique. It is a formula for integration; it is not "unique." By using this chart as a principle of harmonization, the individual can become an integral whole; but so can other people born at the same time or close to it. There is nothing "spectacular" in any birth-chart. None is inherently "better" or "more fortunate" than any other. Some depict a relatively smoother path than others, but every person has latent within him the power necessary to harmonize his personality and make of it a chalice for the reception of the power that ceaselessly flows from the cosmic Whole to the open consciousness of man. If the task is harder, the power is commensurably greater: the proportion between the difficulty and the power necessary to overcome it is basically the same in all individuals. It is, in the field of personality-development, what the speed of light (C) is in
the Einsteinian formula, E=MC², which measures the relationship of energy (E) to mass (M). It is a "constant" of the spiritual world, the world of divine Grace which means, of light.
In his previously mentioned book, Dr. Kunkel analyzes some of the main difficulties to be overcome in the process of self-education: How can we "get rid of the ego or the idol" and "find our real center"; how to transcend either rebellion against or passive obedience to moral laws or God's commandments; how to navigate between the dangerous rocks of "unrestricted self-expression" and "repression." Kunkel offers as basic methods what he calls "confessional meditation" (accompanied with "conscious sacrifice") plus its complementary pole, "positive training." And he adds these characteristic words: "What does God want you to discover, or to understand, or to do? This question is the first beginning of your spiritual reaction." Astrologically speaking, this means: What does this birth-chart want me (who is the wholeness of it) to discover, to understand, to do? Why these squares? To what refusal to act or refusal to understand and be illumined do they refer? And as this progressed Sun of
mine meets my natal Neptune, what mysterious alchemy of consciousness must I learn to perform; with what metamorphosis of ego must "I" cooperate "I" that am ego, yet far more than ego; "I" that am the potentiality of total, all-inclusive Selfhood.
The natal Sun is not the Self. It is only the celestial symbol of the source of the energy of the Self, which means, of spirit. The Self is the whole birth-sky localized and focused by the place and time of our first breath. This Self is God-in-us the universal Whole focused into the core of our total being as an individual person. As we study any event (past, present, or adumbrated in the future), any trait of our character or any recurrent failure, misfortune, or dream, our study must always be referred to this Self, to this wholeness which we potentially are, yet which we have to concretely become and express. Whether a so-called benefic or malefic,
every planet and every configuration of planets is a path to our Self, and as we consciously and deliberately tread these paths, we should never lose sight of the wholeness of our chart and never lose faith in our ability to reach that goal and become the harmonic totality of our being, the Self in us.
The Christian mystic spoke of the "practice of the presence of God." The astrologer in his quest for psychological and spiritual wholeness could well try to never lose sight of the Presence of the Cosmos, of which the whole sky is the potent Image and symbol. We can not (except at a Planetarium) actually and visibly experience our birth-sky; but we can visualize our two-dimensional birth-chart, and evoke that which in us is the Archetype of the Self. We can live in the presence of the Sky. This is, etymologically speaking, what is meant by the word "consideration" (from sidera, stars). "To consider" literally means to commune with the stars. It is to feel, think, and act in terms of the vibrant wholeness of any moment, of any situation, and of our individual nature. It is to place ourselves and all that is ours within the frame of reference of the total Sky. And by the total Sky, I mean not only the visible heaven, but also those parts of the whole universe which can only be seen from the antipodes; thus, the "inner world" of depth that forever complements the "outer world" of height the inner world which is also we, for we are eternally the Whole, experienced from one particular point. To realize this is to open one's total being to the downflow of a transfiguring Light, to assimilate that Light through the spiritual process of theosynthesis. As we do so, we too, like green plants, can change the atmosphere of the Earth. We can provide "food" for the multitude of still un-whole and discordant egos yearning for peace and harmony.
Astrology and the Modern Psyche