An Inner-Active Marriage of Astrology and Jungian Psychology
Douglas Boyd

[Note: Some of Douglas's links have expired, but this does not impact the tremendous value inherent in his article. -- Starcats/3/19/01]

"The metaphysics of one era is the science of the next."
Max Born; Nobel Prize, Physics

"Only after I had familiarized myself with alchemy did I realize that the unconscious is a process, and that the psyche is transformed or developed by the relationship of the ego to the contents of the unconscious."
C. G. Jung; Memories, Dreams, Reflections: P. 209.

Astrology is an art/science based on observations of a cosmic order that has been apparent since the very dawn of mankind. Professional astrologers today and throughout antiquity have perceived the universe as one united and interpenetrating system.

Cosmic events happening in our universe (eclipses, planetary transits, etc.) are not seen as causing events on Earth, but as synchronistic (C. G. Jung's concept of 'Synchronicity' ) signatures of events happening simultaneously, an archetypal signature of the moment, which is acted out in the heavens, within the structures which compose the physical world and which is also reflected sychronistically within our own collective and individual psyche. They are in fact interconnected and reflective of each other beyond the boundaries of space and time. As above, so below.

Many Archetypal Astrologers feel that all major cosmic events, such as eclipses and transits, are actually interactive in the most personal sense. These celestial events represent a process which is also taking place deep within our own unconscious, a process which sets the inner pattern or which is 'writing the script' at an unconscious level for our personal experiences in physical reality.

"Mathematics has been and will continue to be the qualitative language of science, but astrology will become the qualitative language of the human condition." -- William Tiller - Professor of Physics, Stanford University

This ancient view of sympathetic astrological correspondence and Jung's modern concept of 'synchronicity' as an acausal connecting principle were provided additional affirmation with the introduction of Bell's Theorem regarding 'Non-Locality'. Many believe his discovery will change the face of science and how scientists understand the very nature of reality. In these experiments, a pair of particles separated by a few feet or billions of miles, display sympathetic correlations which occur instantaneously, exceeding even the speed of light. This research reveals a mechanism by which such things as Jung's theory of 'synchronicity' and an instantaneous sympathetic astrological correspondance may operate. These findings reveal that a unified field (as suggested by Einstein's concept of a 'unified field' ) obviously exists which operates beyond the previously accepted boundaries defined by science.

Additionally, this research confirms that a 'cause and effect' or mechanistic view of the workings of our universe and ourselves, falls far short of defining how the universe (and our own psyche) operates and at the least, forces science to reconsider the insights of astrology, transpersonal psychology, parapsychology, shamanism, alchemy, and Jung's theories of synchronicity, archetypes** and the collective unconscious.

In addition to the implications of 'non-locality', there are also the stunning revelations of 'Chaos Theory', relating a cosmic ordering of our universe, (as already previously defined in astrology as signs, planets, modes and elements) and still further, the possibility of other dimensions of reality as revealed in 'Superstring Theory'.

These discoveries hold far reaching implications for all branches of science and for our understanding of reality itself.

These amazing insights into the very nature of reality have been further articulated by noted scientists such as Fred Alan Wolf, Fritjof Capra, Michael Talbot, Basil Hiley, Will Keepin, Arthur M. Young, Victor Mansfield, Michio Kaku and many others.

This interconnectness which is operative beyond space and time, identified by Bell, was previously given a psychological perspective as revealed through Jung's work regarding the synchronicity displayed by the 'collective unconscious, astrology, dreams and other previously unexplainable psychic phenomena. The ancient view of an interconnected universe has been more recently confirmed by transpersonal psychologist Stanislov Grof. His research with altered states of consciouness has also confirmed that the mind is a field of energy which operates beyond the limits of time and space. From a biological perspective the research of Rupert Sheldrake concerning 'Morphogenetic Fields' has additionally redefined how we perceive and understand the mechanics of reality and how we operate within it. Sheldrake's findings biologically reflect Jung's concept of 'Archetypes' as encountered in the personal and collective unconscious. Sheldrake states;

"specific morphogenetic fields (consider Jung's 'archetypes', Plato's 'Ideas', or the astrological signs and planets as further examples of morphogenic fields ) are responsible for the characteristic form and organization of systems at all levels of complexity, not only in the realm of biology, but also in the realms of chemistry and physics. These fields order the systems with which they are associated by affecting events which, from an energetic point of view, appear to be indeterminate or probabilistic; they impose patterned restrictions on the energetically possible outcomes of physical processes. If morphogenetic fields are responsible for the organization and form of material systems, they must themselves have characteristic structures. ...the structures of past systems affect subsequent similar systems by a cumulative influence which acts across both space and time. "

The current evidence reaches beyond any one camp in the scientific community as evidenced by the diversity of systems and scientists offering very similar views regarding an interconnected universe.

In fact, these recent findings have left many physicists and other scientists sounding much like the alchemists, astrologists, shaman and mystics who have long held the belief of an interconnecting unity throughout the universe. These types of ground breaking observations are forming a common link between science and spirtuality, a link which may allow for a greater cooperative effort between these previously separate camps. We have arrived at that day which Jung asserted would surely come.

"Sooner or later nuclear physics and the psychology of the unconscious will draw closer together as both of them, independently of one another and from opposite directions, push forward into transcendental territory, the one with the concept of the atom, the other with that of the archetype."
-- C G Jung; Aion (1951). CW 9: Part II: P. 412

"That we can now think of no mechanism for astrology is relevant but unconvincing. No mechanism was known , for example for continental drift when it was proposed by Wegener. Nevertheless, we see that Wegener was right and those who objected on the grounds of unavailable mechanism were wrong."
-- Carl Sagan

The view of mind as a 'field of energy' is reflected historically in the work of Plato, Ficino, and virtually all Hermetic traditions worldwide which span the annals of recorded history.

In the 'Ennead', noted alchemist Plotinus relates that astrological influence is based on a principle of cosmic unity. Everything manifests itself from a Divine Source, all things are interconnected with one another and as such are 'signifiers' (archetypes) of each other within a divinely regulated plan or system.

This same hermetic cosmology underlies Ficino's 'natural magic', a system based largly on the adepts inner action with the operative components of the psyche as revealed thru astrological symbolism, its timing and structure. This inner-active 'opus' was achieved through what was later defined by analytical psychology as, 'active imagination'. The imagination allowed access to a meaningful (in both the subjective and objective sense) inner image and allowed for a co-operative inner action with the image itself. This inner image was a bridge which sympathetically connected the adept to the underlying collective astrological archetype in order to achieve a harmonious expression of the collective archetype within the sphere of the adepts physical reality. This system of 'natural magic' became a means to provide an inner active access to the components of the personal and collective unconscious and which also provided a structure and timing for the psyche based on the astological archetypal model.

Notably, among the recent discoveries of quantum physics, is the necessary or unavoidable involvement of the observer at a sub-atomic level (ie., at a creative or a pre-formative energetic level in relation to physical manifestation), with whatever one is engaged in or observing at any given time. Quantum physics has shown that realtiy is maleable, a concept which was fundamental to the inner opus of alchemical traditions.

These new possibilities suggested by quantum physics in regard to the mind as a 'field of energy' not limited to the physical brain and which operates beyond the previously mechanistic boundaries of science, should begin to allow for a serious consideration of this ancient inner active astrologically based methodology.

Modern psychotherapists and the new physics have begun to merge with the beliefs of the worlds great alchemists, astrologers, philosohers and ancient eastern mystical traditions who have long held that all things are intimately interconnected and that our inner world is directly related to our experienced reality in the outer world. Astrology reflects this ancient wisdom and provides an archetypal map (and timetable) of each persons individual life script, while Jung's psychology provides us with a rich personal framework and proven contemporary techniques for allowing a direct conscious participation and heightened understanding of this dynamic process.

"In Jungian psychology there is a clear appreciation that great transformative wisdom resides in the inner world of our dreams, fantasies, and feelings. However, synchronicity shows, that occasionally, this wisdom, this transforming meaning, expresses itself in the inner and outer worlds simultaneously. Appreciating this re-enchants and divinizes the world. From an astrological perspective, we might say that wisdom continuously speaks to us through planetary motions."
-- Victor Mansfield; Physics and Astronomy Department, Colgate University

This quote by noted astronomer Victor Mansfield echoes the same ancient wisdom revealed in Ficino's astrological system of 'natural magic'. By combining techniques employed in analytical/Jungian psychology (personification, active imagination) with biofeedback and the structure, timing and archetypal landscape of astrology, we are afforded the means to harmonize, participate or co-create with the cosmic expression or archetypal signature of any given moment much in the tradition of the great alchemists themselves. As the alchemists surely realized, we do not need to feel 'fated' or helpless when dealing with stressful transiting aspects or by aspects found within the natal (birthchart) description itself. Equally this allows us a means to develop and bring to life the potential suggested by the flowing or harmonious aspect configurations in the natal and transit charts. The process of our own 'individuation' (coming to wholeness or connecting to our astrological archetypal foundations) and the ability to develop the fullest potential described by our birthcharts (and subsequent transits and progressions to the birthchart) is greatly enhanced through the application of these inner active techniques in ways normally reserved for alchemists, shaman and other spritual adepts. Joscelyn Godwin in her work, "Annals Of The Invisible College", relates;

"The philosophic side of Hermetism is based on the doctrine of correspondences. In the Hermetic ascent, each planet corresponds to certain powers of the soul: Mercury to the intelligence, Venus to desire, Mars to anger, etc. The human being is thus a microcosm, containing in little the same energies as the macrocosm. If we picture earth at the center of the universe, the soul has acquired these energies on its downward (or inward) journey from the celestial regions through the planetary spheres. It emerges into earth life via the womb, full of potentials and tendencies that are delineated by its natal horoscope. Through life it works with these potentials, hopefully refining them so that they emerge as virtues. If this is accomplished, the soul when it leaves the body at death is light and unencumbered, and well able to rise upward (or outward) to the place of its origin. If instead the energies have coagulated in vices, then the upward journey will be difficult and the soul may even remain trapped in the earth's atmosphere, a torment to itself and a bane to its fellows."

Further, Frances Yates in her study of hermetic traditions and in particular commenting on the work of Renaissance alchemist and sage Marcilio Ficino stated;

"...Images would become forms of the Ideas or ways of approaching the Ideas at a stage intermediary between their purely intellectual forms in the divine mens and their dimmer reflection in the world of sense, or body of the world. Hence, it was by manipulating such images in this intermediary 'middle place' that the ancient sages knew how to draw down a part of the soul of the world . . . There is, further, in Ficino's words, the notion that the material forms in the world of sense can be, as it were, re-formed, when they have degenerated, by manipulation of the higher images on which they depend.

As Jungian Analyst and noted Psychological Astrologist Liz Greene states relating to the work of Marsilio Ficino in her outstanding work, "The Astrology of Fate";

"For Ficino, the world of images whether these were derived from dreams (his own) or myth (Greek and the synchronistic mythic variations of the first centuries AD) were a kind of middle ground , a place in between the abstract and inaccessible world of imageless Ideas and the dense world of Moira-bound matter. For Jung, likewise, symbolic products of the psyche hold the borderland between the formal world of the archetypes and the daylight world of consciousness. These images are the 'stuff' in between, the anima mundi or soul of the world."

"Ficino's anima mundi bears a strong relationship with the 'objective psyche' as Jung calls it, the indefinable world-stuff which stretches across the boundaries between psyche and body, between spirit and substance, which belongs to both and to neither, and which is accessible to us through the images of our dreams and fantasies. Work on this stuff in accordance with one's natal pattern , suggests Ficino, and one builds the connecting link (or participates in a link which is already existent but unexperienced) between God and his creations, between Ideas and corporeal reality, between archetype and instinct, between freedom and fate."

"The planets, in Ficino's new astrology, are not only physical bodies in space but images within the psychic world of man and metals within the earth itself. ...The planetary images as Ficino conceived them are the bridge between worlds, through which the individual can slowly unite what is below with what is above, so that, in the worlds of the Corpus, the miracle of the One may be accomplished."

Ficinos system of natural magic, in which astrology interphases with psyche thru the use of 'active imagination' in a dynamic and co-operative fashion, represents the most effective and essential application of astrological wisdom. This is where 'the rubber meets the road', in the most intimate and personal sense. This is where we begin to participate with the energetic template, in the form of an inner image, which shapes the various manifestations of our experiences in physical reality. Imagination brings astrology to life as both experiential and inner - active and moves astrology far beyond the function of merely informing the intellect.

I believe that combining science and some of its techologies with traditional wisdom affords us many new possibilities for actively engaging in our own evolution or what Jung qualified as the 'Individuation' process. One example is the use of biofeedback to facilitate the creation of the 'middle place' (alpha/theta brainswave levels are associated with enhanced imaginal capacity) as a point of interphase between the ego and the astrological archetypes of the unconscious as suggested by Ficino. The fundamental importance of this essential inner 'opus' was later re-emphasized in Jung's Depth Psychology.

"The essential thing is to differentiate oneself from these unconscious contents by personifying them, and at the same time to bring them into relationship with consciousness. That is the technique for stripping them of their power. ...the very fact that the unconscious presents itself in that way gives us the best means of handling it."
-- C. G. Jung; "Memories, Dreams, Reflections"

Learning to still the mind, an important initial step which allows this inner focus and the subsequent personification of the astrological archetypes to develop, can be difficult to master in either an analytical or alchemical setting. As is often the case, the simple things can be the hardest to master.

The ability to access a deep meditative state was essential for the execution of the critical inner opus or natural magic performed by the alchemists. What the alchemists perceived as 'natural magic' was actually an interaction with unconscious components of the psyche through 'active imagination' while in deep meditation.

Today the process of cooperatively encountering the realm of our own unconscious is made much easier by combining inner-active techniques such as 'active imagination' with modern biofeedback technology. Biofeedback is essentially a consciousness training device which has been effectivly used in a wide variety of medical and psychological applications in order to learn or train the mind to achieve altered states of consciouness. This in turn allows for greatly enhanced inner imagery and focus. Some people have the ability to access altered states of consciousness more easily than others but the great majority have never developed this often dormant skill. I have found that almost anyone can develop this ability with the initial assistance of biofeedback technology.

Biofeedback systems are now a very reasonalbe and affordable option for anyone having difficulty (or not) attaining deep meditative states. Many excellent portable (can fit in a shirt pocket) GSR units from a variety of manufacturers, which 20 years ago cost more than a $1000, are now around $100 due to many recent technological advances. Many of the hundreds of clients I have worked with in clinical settings, who were unsuccsesful with more traditional systems of meditation, were amazed at how quickly this technology assisted them in developing rich inner imagery and focus, very often in fact, within the first few sessions. Again not everyone needs this type of assistance, but for many this can greatly assist this process.

I believe, and this is reflected in virtually all ancient hermetic systems, that we are in fact creating the conditions of our experiences in life in an alchemical dance with the archetypes (the planets and signs of the zodiac) in the personal and collective unconscious. The state of our conscious relationship to these archetypes and further, the relationship between the archetypes themselves at the moment of birth form the foundations for our experiences in life.

We receive continuous feedback about the conditions of our relationship to these archetypes (planets and signs) in a gestalt form (be it stressful or harmonious) when we encounter these archetypal figures within the reality of our dreams. As an element of and a process within our own psyche, we are provided with a direct means of engaging consciously in this alchemical dance with these astrological archetypes (the planets, signs, modes, and elements) on a personal level thru the creation of a 'middle place' between consciouness and its unconscious archetypal foundations.

"As far as I could see, the tradition that might have connected gnosis with the present seemed to have been severed, and for a long time it proved impossible to find any bridge that led from gnosticism - or neo-Platonism - to the contemporary world. But when I began to understand alchemy, I realized that it represented the historical link with gnosticism, and that a continuity therefore existed between past and present ... This was of course a momentous discovery. I had stumbled upon the historical counterpart of my psychology of the unconscious. The possibility of a comparison with alchemy and the uninterrupted intellectual chain back to gnosticism gave substance to my psychology"
-- C G Jung; Mysterium Coniunctionis, Collected works. V 14, (p 227-231)

Astrologers feel that specific heavenly events are enacted here on the Earth -- at the same moment ('synchronicity') as they manifest in the universe. Another way to say this is that we are an interactive part of the cosmos which interpenetrates and surrounds us and can play a part in that cosmic moment as cooperative participants since these cycles and planetary relationships in the cosmos are also acted out within the realm our own psyche.

Many Psychological or Archetypal Astrologers hold with the concepts found in Jungian psychology relating to the need and also our ability to establish a conscious connection with these unconscious archetypes (the evolutionary force represented by the planets and signs of the zodiac) thru the alchemical/analytical process of 'active imagination'.

"it seemed to me desirable to discuss in some detail the process which underlie both alchemy and the modern psychology of the unconscious. I am aware, and hope I have also made it clear to the reader, that merely intellectual understanding is not sufficient. It supplies us only with verbal concepts, but it does not give us their true content, which is to be found in the living experience of the process as applied to ourselves. We would do well to harbour no illusions in this respect: no understanding by means of words and no imitation can replace actual experience."
-- C.G. Jung, Alchemical Studies, Pg. 348

By establish a conscious relationship with these archetypes, as they are represented (personified) in our own unconscious, a 'middle place' or bridge between the conscious and unconscious mind may be established, allowing us to harmonize with the universal moment and its greatest potential expression in physical reality.

"...astrological coincidences suggest that the universe can indeed be known by the human mind, because the universe's operative principles are principles with which human experience is directly and intimately familiar from within ~ that is to say, the universe's operative principles are archetypes which are both subjective and objective, simultaneously informing not only human experience but also planetary motions. As Plato affirmed, the categories of the human mind are also categories of a universal mind, the two minds being intimately connected.

What is most remarkable and philosophically significant about astrology is that its symbolism is grounded in a time/space map and not simply projected upon the physical world.
... we need presume that 'reality' is multileveled beyond the simple sensory/empirical level. The symbol is our way of understanding something which is ineffable, yet something 'real' which lies beyond us and is beckoning us 'forward' (or 'higher' or 'deeper' depending upon our preferred metaphor). These symbols appear to 'work' by general agreement, hence astrology becomes a technology of self knowledge and transformation, a direct participatory and largely dialogical process."

-- Richard Tarnas Ph D--"The Passion of the Western Mind"

The process for the expression of these archetypes is displayed by the aspects (both natal and by transit) formed by the planets in our own unique natal (birth) description. Using 'active imagination' to encounter these archetypes at the alpha/theta level affords us the opportunity for maximizing the inherent potential of easy or flowing aspects in, or by transit to, our own natal or birth chart. Additionally, this inner-active process allows us to harmonize the potentially disruptive effect of stressful aspects as well.

We interact with these archetypes in a symbolic gestalt naturally in our dreams and may learn to bring our conscious awareness into this process by using biofeedback or other meditative techniques to interact with these archetypes as they exist in our own unconscious, the place where the script for our life experiences are actually written. Resistance to the expression of the celestial and planetary (archetypal) energies, both natally (birth) and by transit, can set the stage for disruptive events due to our resistance to, or an unawareness of, this cosmic process. As Jung pointed out;

"The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his (or her) inner contradiction, the world must perforce act out the conflict...".

The inner-active technique of accessing consciously the unconscious elements of the psyche is a means for differentiating these components as Jung suggests. This has been emphasized and revealed as a powerful transformational process through the efforts of Transpersonal and Jungian Analytical Psychologists by having their clients pursue a very similiar alchemical process using 'active imagination' and other inner-active techniques to approach personified dream figures and other archetypal components of the psyche. The work of famed psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli established the importance and relevance of an inner-active approach to the components and process of the unconscious through his developement of a system he termed as 'Psychosynthesis'.

More recently the seminal and profoundly ground breaking work with altered states of consciouness done by Dr. Stanislov Grof, has revealed the powerful transformational effect realized through connecting the conscious mind to its archetypal foundations which actualizes the healing potential and wisdom of the unconscious. An inner-active approach to psychological astrology similarly connects us to these archetypal components as well, providing us with, as Dr Richard Tarnas of the California Institute of Integral Studies has phrased as, "A redemptive reunification of the individuated self with the universal matrix".

This inner-active process allows us to APPLY the insights afforded by psychological astrology by establishing a 'middle ground' or meeting place (the alpha/theta level of mind using biofeedback) for our conscious awareness to connect to our unconscious foundations through 'active imagination' and inner dialogue with these planets (archetypes as inner sub-personalities) in order to harmonize ourselves with the aspect relationships (the aspects between the planets or archetypes) found in the birthchart, both natally (birth) and by transit. A marriage of Jung's psychological methodologies and insights with the symbolism, structure and time table found in astrology greatly enriches our intellectual understanding of ourselves but we realize our greatest potential when we actually APPLY Jung's concepts in an inner-active encounter with our astrological archetypal foundations in order to bring the fullest transformational potential revealed by these archetypes to life. By personalizing our relationship to these archetypes through direct imaginal encounters, we participate in a rich and ancient heritage of self discovery and actualization in a fashion which closely mirrors the pioneering efforts of Grof, Jung and Ficino thru a direct experience of our unconscious dynamics.

"Man know thyself and you shall know the gods and their energies." -- An inscription above the entry at the Temple of Delphi

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
Jesus Christ; Taken from the Gnostic Gospels uncovered at Nag Hammadi.

"One who laughs, one who cries;
One says hello, one says goodbye;
One says things I don't understand;
Makes me feel like half a man."
Bruce Springsteen

A little about Alchemy, its origins and its influence on Shakespeare and many other important historical figures such as Shelley, Yeats and Keats. Also a short biography of a most influential and remarkable man, Marcilio Ficino, who was instrumental in the re-emergence of a "natural magic" or alchemy in the west.

"The primary function of the human being is to imagine."
James Hillman

This is a selection from Jungs book, "Memories, Dreams, Reflections", relating one his many inner adventures

"In order to seize hold of the fantasies, I frequently imagined a steep descent. I even made several attempts to get to very bottom. The first time I reached, as it were, a depth of about a thousand feet; the next time I found myself at the edge of a cosmic abyss. It was like a voyage to the moon, or a descent into empty space. First came the image of a crater, and I had the feeling that I was in the land of the dead. The atmosphere was that of the other world. Near the steep slope of a rock I caught sight of two figures, an old man with a white beard and a beautiful young girl. I summoned up my courage and approached them as though they were real people, and listened attentively to what they told me. The old man explained that he was Elijah, and that gave me a shock. But the girl staggered me even more, for she called herself Salome! She was blind. What a strange couple: Salome and Elijah. But Elijah assured me that he and Salome had belonged together from all eternity, which completely astounded me . . . "

"The creation of unity by a magical procedure meant the possibility of effecting a union with the world -- not with the world of multiplicity as we see it but with a potential world, the eternal Ground of all empirical being,
... On the basis of a self known by meditation and produced by alchemical means, Dorn "hoped and expected" to be united with the unus mundus ...
He created man, a "little heaven" that "bears in itself the reflections of many natures similar to the stars."
C G Jung - "Mysterium Coniunctionis" pg. 534

"My preoccupation with the psychology of unconscious process long ago compelled me to look about for another principle of explanation, because the casuality principle seemed to me inadequate to explain certain remarkable phenomena of the psychology of the unconscious. Thus I found that there are psychic parallelisms which cannot be related to each other casually, but which must be connected through another principle. I am therefore using the general concept of synchronicity in the special sense of a coincidence in time of two or more casually unrelated events which have the same or a similar meaning."
C.G. Jung (The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, CW 8, p. 441)

**Archetypes. The structural components of the collective unconscious.

"The concept of the derived from the repeated observation that, for instance, the myths and fairytales of world literature contain definite motifs which crop up everywhere. We meet these same motifs in the fantasies, dreams, deliria, and delusions of individuals living today."
C.G. Jung (Civilization in Transition, CW 10 par. 847)

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