A Transdisciplinary Approach to Science and Astrology

by Alain Nègre

Summary: In the present state of contemporary knowledge, one recognizes a certain “astrological phenomenon”. Apparently, an order exists which underlies the world and may be experienced through the perusal of our birth chart, the latter reflecting the fathomless structures of our interiority. Nonetheless, with the emergence of scientific thought three centuries ago, astrology was met with new difficulties as it tried to coexist with novel approaches to apprehending the “real”. In fact, the very validity of astrology is repudiated by those who conceive of a sole level to reality (which they believe science to reveal) even though physics has recently proved the existence of at least two levels to reality. As a reaction, astrology closes itself off to scientific discourse, or, conversely, dresses itself up as a science. In an attempt to sort through the conflicts between science and astrology, this article explores the unconscious foundations which gave birth to astrology. It draws from what C.G. Jung called the symbolic function and originates in the “place” of the soul where mind and matter may potentially reunite.

The impasse over scientific astrology

Surveys conducted over the past several years prove that the belief in astrology is increasing [1] despite repeated attempts on the part of skeptical movements to show the inconsistency of astrological thought as opposed to scientific experience. From the perspective of physics or biology, such inconsistencies are easily detected. The principal anti-astrological arguments have not fundamentally changed since Ptolemy and are regularly trotted out today. However, without rehashing these eternal arguments like that of the equinox precession, it is child’s play to reveal the absurdity of the astrological word next to the laws that science has illuminated. Thus, one may easily conclude that if people continue to believe in the effect of the planets or zodiac signs on their character, qualities, flaws, behavior, and even future, it must be that the concerns of astrology are situated outside the field of science.

Before trying to clarify the ways in which astrology may be considered today, it is essential to emphasize its origin. Astrology emerged from a most ancient and harmonious model which dominated occidental culture for centuries up to the inception of modern times. This global vision governed all universal phenomena by several simple and rational principles. In particular, the planets, or “wandering stars”, the moon, and the sun were animated, even divine beings, whose movements inscribed concentric, interlocking spheres that formed a protective shell around the earth. Everything between the Earth and the stars’ fixed limit constituted a living being based on a system of correspondence, sympathy and harmony. The visible phenomena of nature were entangled with invisible forces. Reality included both the natural and the supernatural. The inner order of an individual mirrored that of the sky while being subjected to the restrictions of the sublunar realm of generation and corruption. The moral and physical constitution of a given individual, as well as the pathological predisposition of his temperament, depended on the state of the sky and the mutual relations between the planets at the moment of his birth.

At the beginning of the XVII century, this system of thought was contradicted by new phenomena which could not be integrated into the previous vision of the world. A novel mode of thinking emerged, defined with a mechanistic conception of knowledge and symbolized by the clock and automaton. Nature became an immense machine – a notion which would influence all areas of thought. The brilliant success of mechanistic science relegated astrology to oblivion until the end of the XIX century. Today, regardless of renewed popularity and attacks by skeptics, astrology barely interests scientists beyond historical curiosity about another of science’s errors.

However, with the emergence of a new physics which has called into question the mechanistic conception of a universal machine, the limits of rationality have suddenly burst. Today, we are witnessing an intellectual revolution in which the old dualities of body vs. mind and soul vs. matter no longer have the same meaning. In particular, quantum physics has found evidence of a mysterious indivisibility of matter – better known as non-locality. The enigmatic nature of non-locality stems from its opposition to classical physics by which the world may be understood through its division into minuscule parts such as molecules, atoms, and nuclei. This latter approach reaps results when one ignores the intimate texture of things, turning a blind eye to a particle’s level of reality as translated in the infinitely small figure of Planck’s constant. At this minuscule level, one must use a new form of physics, namely quantum physics. Quantum physics reveals the non-separable nature of matter and thereby presents its ultimate indivisibility. As a conclusive experiment has shown, the separation in space of two previously united particles fails to truly divide the particles, for they remain in instantaneous correlation with each other. In fact, the measurement of one particle significantly affects the other, as if unity perseveres even at great distances. Since this correlation is instantaneous, it cannot be explained by an interaction propagated at the speed of light which, at 300,000 km/s, still takes a certain amount of time.

The above-mentioned experiment leads to the conclusion that each point in the universe is connected to all other points at the quantum level. Such a phenomenon seems reminiscent of the universal interdependence described by the ancients and by which all parts of the universe are in sympathy – a concept mirrored in astrology’s insistence on universal interdependence. Some, ignoring the conditions of validity of this non-locality, have unfortunately used the experiment to affirm that the new data brought forward by modern science grants astrology a scientific dimension. Leaping at this opportunity, others have even tried to show that astrology is a science and elaborate on theories inspired by physics or biology. As with the proponents of any new scientific theory, one might ask them: “do you have proof of what you advance?” “Have you observed phenomena or conducted experiments to verify your theory?” If such is the case, these studies should be published in specialized reviews and subjected to the analysis and criticism of scientists. Micro and macro cultural and natural rhythms have undergone this process and are now recognized as examples of veritable scientific research. [2] The submission of its theories to experimentation and observation, has also allowed the recent discipline of chronobiology to become a science which accounts for the cyclical determinism of geocosmic phenomena. In the same spirit, recent conferences were presented with works that demonstrate the influence of the lunar and solar cycles on humans. [3] The belated interest in this type of phenomenon on the part of the scientific community is partially due to a perceived relationship with astrology which casts studies in a negative light. Here, the great scientist Galileo may serve as an example to skeptics. In the XVII century, Galileo refused to consider any possible effect of the moon on the earth’s tides, relegating such speculation to the realm of astrology as opposed to that of science. Today, of course, no one would deny the effect of the moon on tides and numerous other earthly phenomena.

To the extent that they respect the scientific method, works which aim to elucidate correlation or causal links between the cosmos and human beings are valuable, even if they are inspired by astrological motivations. But by no means should they be confused with astrology. What then may they prove? Quite simply that the laws of physics, chemistry and biology function when applied to geocosmic phenomena. This approach stands in great contrast to the attitude of astrology’s defenders who champion their theories with an absolute lack of proof. Such apologists only serve to further confuse a world so adrift in fragmented knowledge that it has become extremely difficult to reflect on the conditions of validity and the significance of one’s own discipline.

Those who are inclined to believe in astrology are, to some extent, comforted by the proof-less theories peddled by many of its adherents. In fact, their tactics are far from limited to the astrological milieu. Faced with a public that is fond of fascinating theories which push the limits of space, matter, and time farther and farther, certain researchers go spinning out of control. Their theories introduce notions like the soul and the psyche which science did away with in the course of its development. Of course, such reintroductions into the modern scientific method explain everything relating to mind and matter. While these scientists are ignored or upbraided by their colleagues, their aura is celebrated among astrology’s amateur public. Science has been burdened with a negative connotation since the Second World War. Thus, being an object of reproach in the scientific world may reward one with a certain amount of sympathy. Take, for example, the physicist Jean Charon who is esteemed for his writings [4] and whose work on relativity was revered by his peers. Later, Charon came to endow the electron with a soul. In the same vein and with a greater connection to astrology, the biologist Etienne Guillé began by the observation and scientific analysis of metal traces susceptible to fixation on DNA. These same metals were traditionally linked to the seven planets. Subsequently, Guillé defined “vibratory energies” with frequencies that are measured by a pendulum. [5] Regrettably, no scientific publication mentions Guillé‘s theories nor any associated experiments or observations by which they might have been proven. Moreover, it is questionable that experimental protocols could ever be conceived of allowing for the objective observation of an electron’s spiritual properties or the vibratory energies of DNA. Objection might also be raised over falsifiability or the economy principle by which arbitrary and useless entities must not be introduced in a theoretical model. In any case, it is clear that such theories may be those of philosophy or metaphysics, but certainly not of science.

Other attempts to prove astrology have adopted a different tactic. Abandoning the research of celestial influence and causality, some use statistics to show a correlation between the state of the sky on an individual’s chart and his comportment. The skeptical movements, sometimes in collaboration with astrological associations, are especially fond of this approach. In every case, the results have invalidated any astral influence on human personality or destiny. Numerous examples of this type of experimentation may be found in “The Skeptical Inquirer”. [6] Astrological journals and conferences include a plethora of works which attempt to link a case of alcoholism with the configurations of the planet Neptune or an example of genius and aspects of the planet Uranus. As these studies are rarely based on more than fifteen cases, they have no statistical value. Furthermore, they are never placed in the hands of experts for a first and second assessment. While lacking in depth, such works manage to cloud the issues and furnish astrology with a falsely scientific dimension.

At this point, we might turn to two recently scrutinized studies that seem to move towards the verification of astrology. Madame Suzel Fuzeau-Braesch, research director at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, has demonstrated that 238 pairs of twins with nearly identical charts, but for their ascendants, display behavioral differences which correspond to the meanings of their ascendants. Out of 238 responses, these studies reveal 153 which are favorable to astrology. [7] Henri Broch, physics professor at the University of Nice, has exposed myriad deficiencies in Fuzeau-Braesh’s work, such as a dearth of numerous parameters, a refusal on the part of the researcher to communicate precise information on the procedures and statistical methods used, hypothetical births, and so on. [8]

An analogous attempt, albeit on a larger scale, was the work of Michel and Francoise Gauquelin. In 1955, these two researchers attempted to show the link between the position of the planets at the moment of birth and certain human traits. The most striking link studied was the “Mars Effect” by which the position of the planet Mars at the moment of birth would have an effect on athletic prowess. Almost thirty years later, in 1981, The French Committee for the Study of Paranormal Phenomena, created, among others, by Nobel laureate Alfred Kastler, worked with the Gauquelins on the same problem. [9] This succeeding study expanded on the original by enlarging the sample. It was hence revealed that, by weeding their sample, the Gauquelins had managed to find significant deviations from the standard. However, when the sample was augmented by the CFEPP, the standard deviations vastly diminished, tending towards zero. Once again, the polemic over the Gauquelins’ work is not resolved and studies continue to be carried out. For instance, Suitbert Ertel, psychology professor at the University of Göttingen, has shown that the Mars Effect increases with an athlete’s eminence. [10]

In the anticipation of further studies based on the above mentioned works, one might concede that they seem to corroborate a particular relationship between celestial phenomena and the personalities of certain human beings. Nonetheless, one cannot fail to note the weak results in favor of astrology: only 153 affirmative responses out of 238 in the twins study. Those who have truly contemplated astrology and examined their birth map will recognize that, in the deepest regions of their interiority, astrology is “true.” The sensation of psychic coincidence experienced with regard to the universe has been present since the dawn of time and has failed to be eradicated by three centuries of scientific materialism. An astrological phenomenon does exist and the birth chart reflects the deepest fathoms of the human soul. Why then does this phenomenon not find substance in statistical studies?

The Reality of the Symbol

It must be concluded that astrology is not easily captured by statistic’s coarse nets but rather should be perceived in relation to our interiority. Astrology moves in the realm of a more subtle reality, far from that studied by natural science. The latter refuses ambiguity – a rejection which is patent in classical physics. But, as will later be discussed, even as quantum physics reveals dualities such as that of the wave and the particle, the act of measurement leads to the manifestation of a unique, well defined event. Modern science finds its roots in the rupture with the use of ambivalent logic like that manifested in astrology and in the myths of archaic thought. However, in the most profound core of our psyche, we feel the presence of contradicting forces. Most of the astrological texts underline this ambivalence in the interpretation of symbols. To take an example from Sun sign astrology, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, former president of the republic, well embodied the qualities associated with his sign, Aquarius. From the moment he took office, he was an innovator, walking down the Champs-Elysées, visiting prisoners, meeting with refuse collectors, and spending time with ordinary people in their homes. But the values of his opposing sign, that of Leo, were also very apparent in Giscard d’Estaing. For example, he admired Louis XV and the tradition of the royal hunt. He reintroduced the ancient custom of the kings of France, insisting that no one sit opposite him during meals. And of course, one might refer to the former president’s admiration for Bokassa’s diamonds. Such contradictory aspects of an individual cannot be rendered by statistics which separate opposing terms and refuses to include the aspects of one term in another. The science of statistics allows the unveiling of real phenomena but remains limited to the objects of natural science in which the notion of the soul has disappeared. If it were to be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that the stars tend to determine the destinies of high level athletes or the distinct characteristics of twins, scientists would be obliged to take these phenomena into account and integrate them into an already existing or new discipline. In any case, it would be wise to avoid a new anti-astrology a priori like that once mounted against Kepler’s idea that the Moon influenced tides or Newton’s theory of remote forces which was reminiscent of alchemy. If, as with Kepler and Newton, the studies of Fuzeau-Braesh and Ertel were confirmed, entire sections of the scientific corpus would be cast in doubt, thus making way for progress. However, in no way would such discoveries give astrology a scientific label. At best, astrology would renew science. I will return to this last possibility in an ensuing discussion of Kepler. Fortunately, the long refined methodology of science allows us to see our world more and more clearly, even permitting us to withdraw our projections. Whatever may evolve, astrology will remain astrology, constantly returning to that subtle and infinite reality even if the Mars Effect and the twin studies fall into the realm of science.

In fact, the fine-spun reality of astrology is that of the symbol. The proponents of a scientific astrology often decry such an affirmation, declaring: “What? You say that astrology is merely symbolic?” An inherent scorn for the symbol is revealed in their offended protest. And so, something which, in the history of our own culture and in many contemporary non-western cultures, constitutes a reality as real as material reality, is downgraded to a blatantly inferior standing. It is this rejection of the symbol which explains the current exclusion of astrology by universities and cultured circles. If, in today’s word, astrology gains no acceptance as an authentic field of study, this resistance is not simply due to the shameless exploitation of astrology which can be observed throughout the media. Astrology’s low standing is more likely a result of the devaluation of the symbol over the past two centuries. Obscured and diluted, the science of the symbol has become so very enigmatic that it has lost its original sense and finds itself applied to myriad elements such as traffic lights, logos, mathematical signs and dream images. Hence today’s difficulty in differentiating between the aspects of astrology which fall into the field of natural science and the true nature of astrology which is that of the symbol, existing on a transcendental and metaphysical plane of essences.

Unfortunately, the social sciences disparage astrology and limit their study to the perspectives of sociology, history and ethnology. Nonetheless, rather than abandoning astrology to horoscope charlatans, it is of interest to examine the causes for the field’s current resurgence. In other words, instead of letting astrology become a belief and feeding the sterile debates between science and parascience, it seems of greater interest to explore astrology’s own reality. While astrology cannot be a natural science, it can no better be a science like psychology. The false conception of astrology as the equivalent of psychology is abetted by the insistence on psychology which pervades contemporary culture. Fundamental examples of such a tendency may be found in seminal works like The Astrology of the Personality [11] and From Psychoanalysis to Astrology. [12] Astrologers are thus led to the false belief that astrology supplies conceptual or practical tools that may be used in “astrotherapy”. In reality, astrology provides no conceptual tool like that generated, for example, by the founders of psychoanalysis.

Astrology and Depth Psychology

To sum up, one might say that astrology belongs to neither social science nor to natural science but, on the other hand, may be the object of a science: a science of symbolic forms, of religion or of the psyche. Today, an individual who looks into his astrological chart or solicits its interpretation commits a psychological act. For his part, Freud cast aside astrology and other “occult” disciplines, banishing them to what he called “the black sludge of occultism”. Jung, on the other hand, believed that no element of human invention may be scorned, for everything has a meaning in the overall schema of things. Today, what was once seen as originating in the stars is now understood as a projection of the unconscious, and astrology may be interpreted only from this psychological perspective. Jung affirmed that the greater part of things considered psychic resided in the animated matter of the universe: “Since the stars have fallen from heaven and our highest symbols have paled, a secret life holds sway in the unconscious. That is why we have a psychology today, and why we speak of the unconscious. All this would be quite superfluous in an age or culture that possessed symbols.” [13]

Jung awarded a distinct and separate reality to this interior world which he saw as having been projected onto the outside world. He deserves credit for having empirically rediscovered the soul of the world, comprised of the multiple gods of nature which he called the collective unconscious or the objective psyche. For delving into astrology and other “ghosts of centuries of imagination”, Jung was suspected of mysticism and even magic. However, he acted as a true scientist, describing his methodology in the following manner: “I observe, I classify, I establish relationships and sequential organization between observed events, and I even show that prediction is possible. When I speak of the collective unconscious, I do not present it as a principle, but rather give a name to the totality of observable events, that is to say, archetypes.” [14]

As Michel Cazenave explains [15] , the clearest definition of the archetype is not that of an original image nor of the condensation of archaic residues of some unconscious substance. Instead, it is an empty form, an a priori form of perception, a structure of the unconscious which emerges in the world of the senses and remains hidden while taking form in archetypal images or symbols. Cazenave mentions the objective kinship between archetypes and the forms of Lacan’s collective field as well as the empty but formative unconscious of Lévi-Strauss and contemporary anthropology’s works on kinship.

Like Freud, Jung solicited the empirical method while rejecting an exclusively causal interpretation of psychic phenomena. The latter are even more clearly oriented towards an end or path to be followed which Jung called individuation or the fulfillment of the “Self “: the archetype of human totality. With his bold hypothesis of Synchronicity [16] , Jung suggested that certain aspects of reality which remain outside the causal description of nature may be understood as synchronistic phenomena without regressing towards archaic forms of magical causal thought.

Thus, by the light of Jung’s work, the planets and the zodiac signs are not archetypes, but rather archetypal images or symbols. In astrology, Mars, Mercury, and Venus represent the potentials of aggression, of initiative (Mars), of communication (Mercury), and of love (Venus), inherent in us and which we project onto those planets which seem to best incarnate these qualities. And the feeling of psychic coincidence that we may have in relation to the universe of our birth is not due to the physical influence of the planets, but instead to the fact that we are born in synchronicity with the universe of our birth. As Jung contended, “we are born at a given moment, in a given place, and we have, like celebrated vintages the same qualities of the year and of the season which saw our birth.” [17]

Astrology and the potential unity of the world

Through his collaboration with the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, Jung came to the conclusion that the unconscious is not limited to the domain of psychology, but rather is related to the structures of matter. Thus, matter and psyche are no longer two separate, antinomic spheres. Their roots originate in a common original structure which Jung, echoing the philosophers of the Middle Ages, called the unus mundus. Astrology draws from this source. And science, through its roots, shares the same soil. For, the real history of science reveals how its founders worked from symbolic forms that rose from the unconscious. [18] Kepler, father of new astronomy in the XVII century, was a devotee of astrology – an aspect of his personality tagged by science’s XIX century historians as the “bad part”. Nonetheless, new translations of Kepler’s works [19] reveal the integration of astrological symbols with his scientific research. They were, in fact, intermingled. They guided Kepler towards groundbreaking hypotheses which are the foundation of modern science. Newton, Kepler, and all the great innovators of science needed the symbolism of alchemy and astrology, or other elements, in order to invent. In any case, the roots of science always originate outside of its own field. Thus, as they are built upon a similitude between the unconscious psyche and the exterior world, one might say that all scientific or religious attempts to order chaos and mold reality are projections of the unconscious. Of course, science does not confine itself to the level of vision. Instead, it puts into place a process of discrimination and organization which, in physics, results in laws that are expressed by mathematical language. The human mind tends to seize these visions as if they were eternal truths, but the moment comes when observed events no longer coincide with a given vision or hypothesis and no longer correspond with the relevant scientific theory or model. At this moment, we recognize them as projections and the hypothesis in question must be abandoned for new approaches.

So science, like astrology, is a projection by the unconscious onto the unknown. The knowledge of the unconscious is an unknowing knowledge which Jung described as a “cloud of knowledge” and named “absolute knowledge”. Only at this level of the unconscious’ absolute knowledge, where the potential unity of the universe lies, are science and astrology one and the same thing. It is when man or mankind become aware of the knowledge of the unconscious, that symbolic forms, scientific concepts and physical laws can be generated. But, at this stage, a new level of reality emerges – that of developed manifestation. Here, religious systems find their uniqueness and scientific disciplines are defined. Here appears the distinction between archetypal forms and the empty forms of archetypes. According to Jung, archetypes, the nuclei of the unconscious, cannot be perceived by the conscious but rather are empty matrices which the conscious fills with the particulars of a dream or the elements of a distinct culture. Hence the absurdity of debates about the validity of such and such an astrological system and especially about the equinoctial precession. For roughly 2000 years, the Western world has used the mobile zodiac of signs because it best incarnates the constantly changing occidental way of life. At this level of manifestation, it is therefore an illusion to seek unity between the different systems of astrology or to seek a relation between science and astrology. Hence, the need to have a vertical vision of reality.

Recognizing the existence of different levels of reality

Today’s scientific spirit is slowly abandoning a strictly materialistic conception of the world and accepting the reality of a world outside immediate reality. Aside from Jung and the physicist Pauli, numerous researchers, physicists, and philosophers of science have come to the hypothesis of a transcendental field, such as that in the implicate order of David Bohm [20] , the veiled real of Bernard d’Espagnat [21] , and the subquantum field of Ervin Laszlo. [22] The paradox is that physics, which in the positivist XIX century wanted to explain everything on a sole and unique level, has been obliged to consider at least two different levels of reality:

- The reality of macroscopic objects of every day life, governed by the Aristotelian view of identity, non-contradiction and of the excluded middle. In other words, a table is a table and not a chair.

- The reality of quantum objects, already evoked in regards to the phenomenon of non-locality, which is the expression of the universe as a certain, indivisible totality. If we try to understand the behavior of these objects by the means of classical logic, we find ourselves in a labyrinth of paradox. Such is the case of light which was first interpreted as a corpuscle and then, with the XIX century wave theory as a wave, until the emergence of quanta theory in 1930. Since then, we have envisioned light as being made up of novel entities that are both wave and particle. Thus, classical logic, based on the principle of identity, non-contradiction and the excluded middle, must cede its place to the logic of the included middle. This included middle reveals another level of reality where that which appears disunited and contradictory (wave or particle) is perceived as united and non-contradictory. Certain physicists cannot make room for this concept. Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond compares the situation to that of the first explorers who, once disembarked in Australia, “perceived in the streams where they sought gold, strange beasts with beaks and fur which they baptized ‘duckmoles.’ The Aborigines already had a name for the animal: ‘mallingong’ (or boondaburra). Unfortunately, this name was replaced by the heavy and scholarly ‘ornithorhynchus’ (or ‘platypus’ for the Anglo-Saxons) since the creature was not the combination of a duck and mole, but rather a newly discovered being. Similarly, the physicist who manipulates light with his instruments and describes it in equations sees that in neither case is light wave or particle nor sometimes one and sometimes the other, as is too often said “. [23] We therefore move to a new level of deeper reality where identity, non-contradiction and the excluded middle simultaneously disappear.

It is in the framework of these new epistemological landscapes opened by quantum physics that one may situate astrology and determine its eventual connection to science. For this, a new rationality must come into effect – an open rationality which permits dialogue between differing sciences and inner experience. This new approach is taking form under the name transdisciplinarity. The name touches upon the two meanings of the prefix trans: that which is beyond all disciplines and that which traverses all possible disciplines. Article 3 of the Transdisciplinarity Charter specifies that “transdisciplinarity complements the disciplinary approach. Out of the dialogue between disciplines it produces new results and new interactions between them. It offers a new vision of nature and reality. Transdisciplinarity does not seek a mastery in several disciplines but aims to open all disciplines to what they have in common and to what lies beyond their boundaries.” [24]

Science, with its protocols, demands, and specific means of existence, operates on a completely different level than that of the mind-inspired quest for innerness embodied by astrology. Each decode the same potential unity of the real while working from differing levels of being. In his vast inquiry into the relationship between science and the soul, Michel Cazenave distinguished a hierarchy of four levels of existence between ourselves and Being, helping to demonstrate where and how science and astrology are profoundly united yet totally distinct.

1- The beings or entities : level of the psychology of the conscious and of phenomena that are relatively separate, and studied by classical macroscopic physics. Here dwells the excluded middle (a is a and not b). For example, Mars is the planet Mars and not the planet Venus.
2- The Totality of being : level of the total psyche personified in an individual, of phenomenal relativist physics and phenomenal quantum physics. Particular entities originate from these actual globalities.
3- The plane of Being: realm of the potential totality of the objective transcendental psyche, of the unus mundus, of the real at the roots of quantum physics where paradoxes and complementary pairs are found (conscious-unconscious, wave-particle). The associated logic is that of the included middle (a is at the same time a and b). It is also the place of archetypes and astrological symbols which may signify one thing as well as its opposite. For example, the symbol Mars may be manifest both in the destructive behavior of a serial killer and in the healing hands of a surgeon.
4- The Being: unknowable and imparticipable, beyond all contradiction and all identity as a is neither a nor b. [25]

Astrology, like any symbolic art, draws on the last two levels of the above structure where the objective psyche and matter coincide in their potential unity. Science, for its part, only deals in separate, multiple and actualized objects from the first two levels. But, as Cazenave insists, these four levels are mirrored in each other, the last referring to the first.

The Zodiac as a mirror of the Being and as a reading grid

Thus, while neither astrology nor archetypes can be explained by science, we may perceive reflections of astrology in science. Some contend that the future may therein be deciphered. However, with the exception of certain works in mundane astrology, one might safely say that most astrological predictions would come out false if exhaustive studies were conducted. The supposed accuracy of certain predictions thus lies in simple statistical odds. If isolated national and world events, such as the changing of a government majority or the fall of the soviet block, have been successfully predicted, this accuracy most likely stems from the predictor’s sense of history and geopolitics. Astrology does play its part, but only as a resonance on the grid of possibilities that makes up the infinite game of “astrological aspects”.

Apparently, the solitude which often accompanies power leads certain heads of state to surround themselves with astrologers. We may only hope that their official advisors adopt the scientific methods of futurology which, while less poetic and spectacular, are better adapted to the modern world. For everything dealing with projections on the future prior to the astrology/astronomy split may be found today in scientific predictions. In fact, one of science’s roles is to predict the future while specifying the limits of this predictive power. Astrology should no longer attempt to assume such a role. In fact, one might note that neither the founders of psychoanalysis nor contemporary therapists have encouraged predictive practices. The unconscious knowledge of absolute knowledge that resides in the deepest layers of the psyche allows one to “fly over time”. In fact, this knowledge is out of time or moreover, it is distributed throughout all dimensions of time including the past and the future. Nonetheless, it is a diffuse knowledge, not allowing for the precise and exact description of a future event. One may simply obtain the more or less beclouded image of emerging possibilities which Marie-Louise von Franz calls the “quality of possible events”. [26] The use of astrology to meditate on the unconnected events of the past in order to stitch them together and invest them with meaning remains valuable. However, too much speculation about the future, can become detrimental for it turns one’s attention away from the here and now. This distances astrology from its only possible meaning at the dawn of the XXI century: to present us with the contradictions arising from the non-integrated aspects of our personalities as reflected in the birth chart, and to permit a dialogue with these contradictions, ultimately leading to the awareness of the Self – the essential wholeness of our psyche.

On another plane, astrology is called the “mother of the sciences”. One might imagine that astrology’s rich symbolic structure could inspire science to elaborate new tools, aimed at the exploration of the constantly elusive aspects of the real. As Jung contended, archetypes carry out an overall movement known as circumambulatio. [27] By this, he means that they rotate around the central archetype, the Self – orchestrator of the overall organization. The zodiac of the 12 signs is a mandala (symbol of the totality) which perfectly illustrates the wheel of archetypes. It is harmoniously structured by the numbers and principally by the numbers four (the elements of fire, earth, air and water) and three (the qualities which are cardinal, fixed and mutable). In fact, it can be considered as a rich reading grid that uses a potential conceptual language, a sort of “qualitative mathematics”. Thanks to its square and opposition features, the circular structure of the zodiac allows for both a diachronic and synchronic reading. Well before it permitted the delineation of an individual or collective narrative, astrology was perceived by the ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Indian, and Islamic traditions as the reflection of creation and the evolution of the world. Before anything else, astrology is therefore cosmogony. Today, scientific cosmology brandishes proof to show that the universe has a history. The universe had a beginning, will have an end, and by certain interpretations, is susceptible to cyclical evolution. Remarkably, the different stages of this history match the meanings behind the twelve signs of the zodiac. [28] As new cosmological theories lose footing in the approach towards time zero, the zodiacal structure may clarify certain relationships, perhaps leading to a new scientific approach to the singularity of the universe’s origin. Of course, this use of astrology must not confuse the manifested totalities studied by science with the potential totality illustrated by the zodiac.

The truth of astrology

Those who attempt to prove astrology through science perpetuate the early century belief of Bertrand Russell for whom “the only truth is science”. This scientific vision of truth is a prolongation of the traditional conception of truth which has dominated occidental thought since Aristotle. For this philosopher, “true discourse is similar to things” (De Interpretatione). The same concept then returned during the Middle-Ages when Aquinas insisted that truth is adequacy and in Descartes’ conception that truth equals certitude because it guarantees rectitude, an accord with the represented object. More recently, Kant mirrored Aristotle when he wrote that “it is only by judgment, in other words, by the relationship of an object to our understanding, that one finds truth and error”. [29]

Astrology’s truth cannot be defined by these philosophers’ terms. The individual who meditates on his planetary blueprint does find adequacy between the representation of the universe at his moment of birth and his inner life. But, as far as astrology is concerned, this remains a correspondence of symbolic proportions. And no symbolic system of interpretation is absolutely true, the symbol being characterized by its polysemy and multivocal abundance. The symbol’s opaque language opens to infinite interpretations. Unlike scientific language which seeks to explain and give account of natural phenomena, symbolic language such as that of astrology demands interpretation and guides us towards the core of our interiority. The natal chart is not a conventional representation. It is a path of a hidden meaning, the meaning of a new unity through which we merge with the archetypal structure of our very being.

The truth of astrology is thus the truth of the symbol. While another truth assumes adequacy of the thing, astrology’s truth belongs to the essence of Being. This is not a truth of agreement but of unveiling, like that in Plato’s cave. Plato and the neoplatonic tradition gave truth this status and, during the Middle Ages, Saint Bonaventure reflected a similar vision, meditating that truth “does not come from existing matter, for matter is contingent, nor from its existence in the mind, as this would be mere fiction if the thing were not truly present. Rather, it ensues from the exemplary nature of the divine archetype which decides the properties and the mutual sequence of all things based on the sketches of eternal wisdom”. [30] This notion of an essential truth is found in Jung’s process of individuation through which man perceives his own, singular verity. And so unfolds the truth of the Self which is also that found through meditating on one’s birth chart.


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