MEETING CRISIS SUCCESSFULLY
LIFE IN THE "PSYCHOLOGICAL CENTURY"
One of the most characteristic features of the personal and social life of men and women at the present time is the emphasis being placed upon psychology. This new focus of interest extends to nearly all fields of human activity, from medical psychiatry and psychoanalysis to advertising and psychological warfare or "peace fare." There are many types and schools of psychology and psychotherapy for mentally disturbed or completely sick individuals; and there is practically no field of business, social institution, or branch of government in which the preoccupation with and the use of some sort of psychological technique are not to be found.
When we think of the European Middle Ages, at the time of the Crusades and when the great cathedrals were built, we think at once of the tremendous role which religion played in everyday affairs. Today, this role is increasingly being taken by psychology. Modern life is ever more completely conditioned and influenced by psychological ideas and preoccupations. Our twentieth century may come to be known as "the psychological century," even more than as that of the discovery of atomic energy. Actually, both the new emphasis on psychology and the discovery of atomic energy are related to a basic historical fact: our Western civilization, which our ancestors took for granted and relied unquestioningly upon, is in a state of complete crisis. Not only do individuals live from personal crisis to personal crisis and in a state of psychological as well as economic insecurity; nations and groups are facing a seemingly
unending series of crises and conflicts, "cold" or "hot." The basic root of this nearly universal state of crisis is the enormous social and economic changes which have been brought about by modern science and modern technology.
All of this is well known; but what is usually not clearly enough understood is that the increasingly more widespread emphasis upon the practical use of psychological techniques is the direct result of the need to meet this universal state of crisis. Psychology, in all its modern forms, is an attempt to deal with crises — no crisis, no need for psychology!
There are many kinds of psychology; but all of these can be broadly divided into two categories according to the basic attitude they take toward any and all crises. What is a crisis, whether in the life of an
individual or in the life of a nation and society? What meaning has a crisis? Obviously, the problem of how to find a "solution" for a crisis must depend upon what the psychologist (or the social-political reformer) thinks the crisis not only was caused by, but was intended to produce.
With these words "intended to," we come to the very crux of the
problem. Some psychologists accept the idea that all crises are, basically if not superficially, purposeful. According to them, a crisis is a phase of the process of growth of either an individual or society. It has a definite aim and meaning with reference to the overall development of the personality or the collectivity passing through it. It is necessary for this development — as, for instance, the usual crisis of adolescence is necessary for the full development of a human body and personality. The crisis is necessary, but the form it takes is not inevitable. The state of change and transition, the fact that there is disturbance, are necessities of human experience; but social change does not need to mean violent revolution, any more than a personal crisis of growth needs to produce illness, neurosis, or insanity.
However, if there is acute neurosis and a more or less prolonged state of definite bio-physical crisis, the question naturally arises: What should be the final aim of the treatment? What are the results to be sought by the psychoanalyst, the healer of body and soul? This is where the schools of psychology basically differ, their difference being the outcome of two essential approaches to human nature and to the meaning and purpose of the relationship of individuals to society and to the universe or to God.
According to one type of psychology, the goal of the cure is to
re-establish the state of normality which had been disturbed by one cause or another. According to the other type, no cure is real and significant unless the patient emerges from the crisis a greater human being than he was before and thereby fulfills the implicit "spiritual" purpose of the crisis. In the field of psychology which Freud opened, these two attitudes are clearly seen, though sometimes the two are somewhat combined; this should be of very great interest to the astrologer who sees himself essentially as a psychologist and helper of human beings, for he too has to define his approach to and interpretation of past or future crises which he may see in his clients' charts.
There are various kinds of crises clearly foreseeable by means of astrological techniques, and the interpretation the astrologer will give to them must necessarily depend upon what he himself thinks of crises in general. He may think of crises as deviations, tragedies pure and simple, as things to cure and quickly forget about; or, he may regard them as necessary phases of a process of growth, as experiences from which a rich
harvest can and must be gathered, experiences without which no "maturity" is possible — however dark, tragic, or seemingly destructive the crisis may be.
The first type of psychology may be called normative: the goal of the treatment and cure is to make the disturbed person "normal again." Normality is, obviously, a relative matter and can be defined only with reference to the general standards of a particular culture and society. Thus, most "social psychologists" are normative psychologists. Freud also belongs to this category because his approach is essentially pessimistic and without a real sense of spiritual purpose for the individual as an individual.
The second type of psychology may be called metamorphic because it considers all crises as — at least potentially — means to induce and produce some kind of inner metamorphosis. Human life is seen, moreover, as absolutely requiring recurring and periodical processes of metamorphoses
—thus, crises — because without them, the person remains merely "one of the mass," normal perhaps, but patterned after a collective type or culturally accepted mould. To be truly an "individual" is to have emerged from, and risen out of, the collective norm of the society of the day; this emergence can take place only by passing through crises of some sort, through real and basic experiences of metamorphosis. These experiences are usually stressful and painful, and always disturbing; yet they must be welcomed, understood, and assimilated if there is to be real individual maturity. . . and perhaps, to some degree, "genius" or the spiritual
attainment of a true "disciple of Christ," who is "in the world but not of the world."
In astrology, these two approaches to personal or social crises are to be referred to the pair of "social" planets (Jupiter and Saturn), and to the transcendental or "metamorphic" planets (Uranus and Neptune), respectively. Each of these pairs operates at a special level of activity and consciousness. At the Jupiter-Saturn level, the crises of emergent individuals and potential geniuses, saints, or apostles appear as deviations from the social norm. At the Uranus-Neptune level, they are to be regarded as more or less tragic, but necessary, processes of rebirth and self-discovery.
The same distinction applies to crises like wars, revolutions, or economic collapses in the case of nations. From the second point of view, the greatest tragedy is not that there should be war or revolution, but that after the conclusion of these crises, the government and the people might have only one basic thought — to return to normalcy and the "good old days," to go back to the same old home and the same familiar and
"normal" behavior as if nothing had happened! Indeed, we in America know only too well what this attitude means, for we have held it, as a people, after each of two World Wars; as a result, while we won the wars, we have, in a very real sense, lost the after-war, the peace that was to be
We — and most other nations as well! — lost it so far because we have not been able to give to the war tragedies the meaning of a great process of inner, spiritual growth for the whole of humankind.
No war is ever really won that ends with the idea of re-establishing the "status quo" and the pre-war level of normality. It is necessary to
"maintain" the general structure of a way of life which has proven valid; but there would have been no crisis, no challenge to growth if something had only to be "maintained." Growth comes from the new creative acts, the transformations required to meet the challenge of the crisis; if there is challenge, purposeful challenge by life or God, it is because a new creative impulse has become necessary or because the old impulse has bogged down and there is need for some kind of purgation or catharsis.
With the planets Uranus and Neptune, we reach the level of catharsis and metamorphosis, of purgation and rebirth. If we are hypnotized by Jupiter and Saturn, we are bound to see Uranus's and Neptune's activity as destructive; yet the two remote planets are actually our liberators. They challenge us to be greater individuals, to grow by creating our own future greatness as individuals. These challenges bring crises. Thanks be to God for these crises! Yet we must be victorious — or else defeat is costly and tears us down. How can we be victorious? In what does the victory consist? The answers to these questions differ with every individual case, and particularly with the age of the individuals confronted by these Uranian and Neptunian crises. Here, astrology can be of very great assistance to the psychologist, in that it can time the occurrence and the probable length of crises. It can point out the purpose of the crises, what they are meant to transform in the life and temperament of the individual. Knowing this, even if only in general terms, we can consciously work with the crisis-producing process of metamorphosis, instead of rebelling against it and its intended end results.
In geology, "metamorphic" rocks are rocks transformed by intense volcanic heat and pressure. In psychology, a metamorphic Uranian crisis is also a release of intense spiritual and psychic heat and pressure which can melt and recrystallize the most basic elements of the personality. It can do it, but it need not do it. The aroused energies, the utterly disturbed life conditions and emotions may well settle down after the crisis and leave only scars, weariness, or the resigned readjustment of social normality
along the ways of the past. Yes, everything is "as before": peace is restored, the old routines are re-established, the patient is "cured" — but God has been defeated.
There is often no worse defeat than a meaningless "victory"; and the greatest of tragedies is a crisis that has been in vain. We endure suffering, catastrophe, insanity of a sort perhaps, the personality ploughed under, the structures of the ego shaken loose and the net result nothing: no growth, no rebirth, only a panicky or self-satisfied reorganization of this same ego along the same old lines, yet with the ghastly feeling — unacknowledged and subconscious as it may be! — that it all happened in vain. Humanity is today sickened by such a collective feeling, a mixture of guilt, hopelessness, and deep soul fatigue. Our insane asylums are overflowing. The only solution is a new type of psychotherapy — and
astrology — centered around the deliberate arousal of the creative factor in every individual.
Astrologically, the problem revolves first around a deeper understanding of what Uranus and Neptune represent in a birth-chart — of what they can mean — and then of the cycles of transit of these two planets. I say transits only because the planets move too slowly for secondary progressions to mean anything, save in a relatively few cases when Uranus and Neptune make close aspects to other planets. Only such aspects may become exact, during the lifetime, by direct or "converse" progressions. A number of astrological textbooks list completely negative meanings for so-called "bad" aspects of Uranus and Neptune; even the presence of these planets in natal houses is often given a mainly destructive interpretation. As already stated, such an interpretation is, at best, valid only where the life and purpose of an individual are seen solely from the point of view of a Jupiter-Saturn type of social and personal "normality"; where ease, static happiness, comfort, and social-economic success are considered the ultimate values for human beings. But we are not living in a static society. Ours is an intensely dynamic age — an age of upheavals, constant change, and of spiritual as well as social metamorphosis.
The twentieth century may be the Plutonian century. But before Pluto can be approached and experienced in a positive, constructive manner, humans must have learned to successfully pass through the
upheavals and the crises of growth represented by Uranus and Neptune. If Pluto is to establish the foundations of a rebirth into a wider sphere of life, the individual must have been renewed by Uranus and cleansed by Neptune. These last two planets are symbols of "the threshold." One can stumble over a threshold and land in a hospital; or one can enter through
it, into a new life. It is only as the latter alternative is realized not only as a possibility, but indeed as the only desirable goal, that one may successfully meet the challenges presented by Uranus and Neptune with a minimum of disturbance. It is Uranus's function to reveal this goal to the individual with a downpour of new light — blinding as it may seem at first. Once the new vision, the new goal, is accepted, then Neptune can constructively proceed to change the chemistry, the very substance of an individual's
personality. If the person refuses to change or even admit the possibility of change, then life will either break him down or will leave him stranded in his small egocentric world with his gradually emptier successes and virtues or his "average" follies and sins.
Where Uranus is in the birth-chart, look for the place and the field of experience in which deep personal change, self-transformation, or tragic revolutions are most likely to come; try to learn to understand and welcome the purpose of the metamorphosis — to work consciously with it. Where Neptune is in the natal chart, look for that biological and psychological function and that realm of experience or field of personal development which should become reoriented, renewed, and "trans-substantiated" ("chemically" changed or repolarized) during your life. Here, however, it must be made very clear to anyone interested in astrology and in his own (or his friends') charts that Uranus remains for seven years and Neptune for about thirteen years in one zodiacal sign. Thus any interpretation of these planets' natal positions in a zodiacal sign refers to any person born within a seven-year and a thirteen-year cannot period, respectively. This means that the interpretation must be very general indeed and that it simply cannot apply to specific illnesses or traits of character, for these are obviously not shared by everyone born during such periods.
Take, for instance, the case of Uranus in Scorpio. Uranus passed through this sign from 1891 to 1898. Every person born during this
period, therefore, had in his makeup the presumed characteristics of "Uranus in Scorpio." Some kind of Uranian "common denominator" in all
these persons must be found if "having Uranus in Scorpio at birth" means anything at all. What can it be? It must be something as elusive as the traits which make an Englishman appear and act "English," a Frenchman "French," etc. These types of collective traits are not easily defined, especially in a few concrete terms. However, the generation born in the "nineties" of last century, in most cases with Uranus in Scorpio (and always with Neptune and Pluto in Gemini), is the one which was in its twenties at the close of World War I and lived through the "Jazz Age." It experienced a generalized rebellion against sexual taboos. Not every
individual did, and it would be senseless to state that all sought to break sexual conventions, but it can be said that the Uranian challenges to self-transformation for these people took the form of crises related to the use of the type of vital energies associated astrologically with Scorpio — sex being only one among the several aspects of the bio-psychological functions to which Scorpio refers.
Every generation (using the word to mean, really, an "age-group") has a basic approach to the solution of a basic problem of personal growth. This approach is conditioned by past cultural and social influences, by the parents' behavior, by social-economic and political pressures. The presence, for a few years, of one of the most remote planets in a particular sign of the zodiac symbolizes this approach. It establishes an accent in consciousness which works in two ways: in the way of unconscious or irrational root energies (the zodiacal signs in which these planets are at birth), then in the way of conscious behavior and attention (the sign through which the planets pass at the time of the crises).
Thus, the Jazz-age and its Uranian crises of restless rebellion, self-transformation, and release from Victorian age standards were based most typically on a Uranus-in-Scorpio foundation; but they carried the outer, conscious, accentuation represented by Uranus in Pisces (1920-27), some of the most symbolic features of which were the wholesale disregard of the Prohibition Act, the search for excitement, intoxication, dramatic self-expression, etc. In its late teens and twenties, this Uranus-in-Pisces age-group experienced World War I's heaviest military holocausts, and it has had to carry on the world's business through the salvation or disintegration of our "Piscean Age" culture — perhaps leaving to the Uranus-in-Aries group the challenge of releasing (Aries) a new creative impulse whence may be born a new society.
As far as the individual person is concerned, the presence of Uranus in one or the other house of the actual birth-chart is usually the most revealing factor. It establishes the field of personal experience in which Uranian crises of self-transformation are essentially to be met — or, one might say, the focus of the crises. The natal house in which Neptune is found indicates the type of confrontations in which an individual can most typically renew the very substance (or "chemistry") of his nature and his character or ego. Through such a type of confrontation (and each natal house represents one type), the personal ego's limitations can be dissolved and the individual may realize his spiritual freedom — the next problem, thereafter, being what this freedom is for, the purpose of it. These indications coupled with those given by the symbols associated with the
exact zodiacal degree on which the planets were located at birth are, in nearly all instances, most revealing.
Wherever transits of Uranus and Neptune are studied, both planets should be considered together. Serious crises tend to occur more particularly when both form aspects to important natal planets at the same time. In some cases, Uranus or Neptune will transit the natal Sun, Moon, or "ruling planet," while the progressed Sun or Moon will be in square or opposition to the natal Uranus and Neptune. These are usually decisive cases in which the challenge will come, as it were, from both inside and
outside. The inner life is ready to change; and under the pressure of this interior, spiritual, and perhaps biological necessity to change ("progressions"), a chain of striking events will bring matters to a very sharp focus, profoundly disturbing the individual's social or family life ("transits"). In any case, the important thing for the individual is to understand, accept, and work with the process of metamorphosis and not to rebel against or shrink from it in fear or emotional dismay. This, however, usually requires much spiritual courage and a steady, objective mind or an intense faith in God. Where these are lacking, the stunned ego either collapses and opens itself to the invasion of irrational or destructive forces or shuts its gates so tightly that it will be very difficult to open them again. At best, another crisis will be tragically necessary to shatter them and, thus, make the delayed process of growth operative.
The condition of the social and family environment deeply affects our ability to successfully meet personal crises of self-transformation. Where this environment is itself chaotic, as during wars and revolutions, the tendency for individual breakdown becomes much stronger. Yet there are souls who, just because the world is in chaos, succeed in summoning from their own spiritual core the power to stand steady and strong in contrast to this outer chaos. Whether or not a personality can summon such power is a matter that no one can ever determine on astrological grounds alone, for any astrological indication can be either constructive or destructive in its ultimate results.
The combined cycle of Uranus and Neptune lasts about 171 years. There was a conjunction of these two planets in 1821, in early Capricorn; the next one will occur in 1992, in mid-Capricorn. The conjunction of
1650 in mid-Sagittarius has often been associated with well-known upheavals in England. The year 1821 marked the time of Napoleon I's death and the early beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and the generalized Romantic Era. The opposition of Uranus and Neptune was the world-wide symbol of the first decade of our present century. The process
of global metamorphosis begun by humanity around 1821 reached its point of potential fulfillment then. However, because humanity had been so unsuccessful in wisely, ethically, and spiritually managing the tremendous new energies released after the 1821 conjunction, the opposition of the two "metamorphic" planets brought the beginnings of a vast process of world-wide cleavage and destruction. The rise of Japan, following that of Imperial Germany, and the first (unsuccessful) phase of the Russian Revolution after Russia's defeat in Manchuria, started this destructive process. Our "World Wars" are actually phases in the global "civil war" of a humanity which has clung to the social-political ghosts of "imperialism" and "absolute national sovereignty," allowing these ghosts to poison the minds of those who are slaves of greed and lust for wealth and power, those who are also bound to obsolete institutions, ideologies, and social-religious biases.
The last square aspect of the present Uranus-Neptune cycle (1821-1992) became exact in October, 1953 (with Saturn, moreover, in conjunction to Neptune), and repeated in 1954 and 1955 (with Jupiter then in conjunction to Uranus). Quite obviously, a phase of catharsis (a
"purging" of crystallized, dead materials in the social-political body of humankind) is inevitable. Such is the world-wide crisis which our ancestors' and our own follies and "sins" against the Creative Human Spirit have made necessary; and it can take a variety of forms. Humankind will obviously be, and now is being, "tested"; but while the "last quarter" phase of a cycle can be a time of breakdown of old structures no longer useful to life, it is also the time when the seed which will be the foundation of the future cycle is taking definite form. Within the period from 1955 to 1992, this "seed" can be expected to grow.
Actually, it is the seed which, as it grows within the fruit, kills the plant which bore it. The future, when ready to be born, makes the past obsolete. This is the meaning of all crises. Those who win are those who go fearlessly toward the future and, while retaining in their own substance and memory the spiritual values produced by the past, do not hesitate to relinquish the outer forms of this past. Every crisis is a death to the "has-been." It is the gestation of what "must be" if the individual, the nation, and the human race are to be consummated. Those who stand in the way of this consummation must suffer and experience tragedy or death — until they accept, welcome, and clearly understand the divine purpose. The individuals who do accept, welcome, and understandingly assimilate the new goals of evolution, for themselves and for humanity, become the "seeds" of the new cycle. They are the "parents" of greater tomorrows, the fountainheads of more abundant living.
Astrology and the Modern Psyche