There are many ways in which this ancient psycho-spiritual practice can increase our capacity for self-awareness, and therefore our degree of consciousness. It can, for example, assist in making what's been unconscious in us conscious, help us understand and orchestrate all the different facets of our personalities, and show us how to work more creatively with the energies that move through our lives.
As valuable as this kind of self-knowledge can be, however, it is no longer enough. With the unimaginable consequences of climate change already hard upon us, the question begs to be asked: why are we allowing this relentless march towards collective suicide to continue? It simply defies all reason. So it must be the consequence of something in us that's so basic, so taken-for-granted, that we don't realize what we're doing, much less how we're doing it. Could it be something as fundamental perhaps as the way we in the emerging global techno-culture are taught to think?
In 1972, a communications theorist named Gregory Bateson, husband to the anthropologist Margaret Mead, wrote: "There will be no New Age until people learn to think in a new way." Were Bateson still alive today, he would quite likely amend this assertion to read: "There will be no human future unless
For more than 2000 years now, we've been teaching ourselves to think in a very specific way - to stand back from the world and relate to it as our object. This hard-won ability to think 'objectively' has given us great power; but the price tag for the perceptual and cognitive disengagement that the 'subject/object split' fosters is our mushrooming ecological crisis and the societal dysfunctions that seem to flow from the psychology of the split. These include the total commodification of nature, our predatory capitalist approach to economy, the rampant politics of greed and undermining of democratic process, the complete loss of any sense of common social purpose, and our glorification of hyper-individualist values.
This does not mean that we need to abandon objective thinking; just that we must teach ourselves how to step in and out of the split at will. But how does one actually do this? It requires a vehicle of some sort. Astrological practice could provide such a vehicle - that is, if 2000 years of objective thinking hadn't completely co-opted it as well! Most astrologers today simply assume that their job is to create objective models of persons or situations.
There was a time, however, when astrological practitioners thought quite differently. The archaeological record suggests that a rudimentary awareness of stellar correspondences first began to emerge during the Upper Paleolithic, around 22,000 years ago amongst peoples who were instinctually at-one with the natural world, and whose thinking was aligned with its terrestrial rhythms and celestial cycles. The anthropologist Lucien Levi-Bruhl called this experiential and cognitive state of at-one-ment: participation mystique.
Because astrological practice originated as an expression of this at-one-ment, a better understanding of the psychology of our most distant ancestors just might inspire us to use our practices today to learn how to live in this highly intelligent manner once again. Astrology won't save humanity from ecological catastrophe; but it certainly is one very good way to learn how to do the very thing that will!
To further this end, and provide for us a model, I'm inviting you to join me on an imaginal journey back to our earliest beginnings, to the very roots of human astrological consciousness. The effort this requires is of far more value than just historical interest. For reasons we'll explore, an appreciation of our pre-literate past is the best preparation we can make for our emerging post-literate present and future.
All the postings that follow then are either preparations for this journey, or important stops on the journey. Since each posting builds on its predecessors, you might want to read them in the order they're listed in the Blog Archive. To view the complete Archive, click on the diamond to the left of January. Individual postings can most easily be accessed through this listing.
I'm continuously revising and improving all current postings and, as I'm able, adding new ones. So please ignore the publication dates since they only reflect the first draft of a particular posting. Based on serious scholarship, this isn't intended to be an academic treatise; so there are no footnotes. Authors are credited however, in a very bare-bones manner, somewhere in the section in which the quotation appears.