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Jung on Synchronicity and the Mechanism for Astrology

Jung on Synchronicity and the Mechanism for Astrology

In episode 148 of the podcast Keiron Le Grice joins the show to talk about Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity, and its applicability to astrology as a possible explanatory mechanism.

Keiron is the author of the recent book Jung on Astrology, which was discussed in episode 141 with his co-author Saffron Rossi, as well as the book The Archetypal Cosmos.

In Jung on Astrology Keiron identified seven distinct theories of astrology that Jung entertained during the course of his life, and in this episode we have a wide-ranging discussion about Jung’s views on each of these possible mechanisms.

Keiron is a professor of depth psychology and archetypal cosmology, and chair of the Jungian and Archetypal Studies specialization at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

For more information about his work see his website www.keironlegrice.com

Below you will find the show notes, which contain some of the points we touched on in the episode, followed by links to download or stream the recording of the discussion.

Show Notes

  • Introducing Keiron and talking about his background.
  • What is synchronicity?
    • Meaningful coincidence.
    • Of subjective and objective happenings.
    • An acausal connecting principle.
    • Golden scarab beetle story as paradigmatic case of synchronicity.
  • Characteristics of a synchronistic experience:
    • Meaning, coincidence of inner/outer, improbable, uncanny, archetypal, numinous, purposive, acausal.
  • Why is synchronicity important? Demonstrates the following:
    • Meaning exists outside of human consciousness.
    • Relationship between mind-matter, psyche-cosmos may be more fluid.
  • Synchronicity as a guide to individuation. Finding the self.
  • Synchronicity as applied to astrology.
    • Generally a modern reformulation of/replacement for theory of correspondence
  • As contrasted with causal influence of the planets.
    • Causal conceptualization had been dominant since Ptolemy in 2nd century.
  • The place of synchronicity in Jung’s explanations of astrology
  • Jung’s entertained multiple explanations of astrology.
    • Up to seven possible explanations, with some overlap and contradictions.
    • Each examined in seven sections in Part IV of Jung on Astrology.
  • 1) Sympathy of all things, microcosm-macrocosm correspondence.
    • As above, so below.
    • Mirroring
    • Common in esoteric thought, but also Stoicism.
    • Incorporates world soul idea. Anima Mundi.
  • 2) A projection of the collective unconscious into the heavens.
    • Comes up especially in his works on mundane astrology.
    • Partially derived from his conclusions about precession.
    • Astrological meanings come from archetypes in the unconscious psyche.
    • Implies that the astrologer is working under a bit of a delusion.
    • Runs into an issue with whether the unconscious is purely internal or external.
  • 3) Divination.
    • Largely comes from his failed statistical experiment on synastry.
    • Initially he thought it was causal, but later decided he had influenced the outcome
    • Maggie Hyde’s Synchronicity I and II from Jung and Astrology.
      • Synchronicity I: objective, meaningful, acausal pattern in nature.
      • Synchronicity II: subjective participation of observer in external events.
        • Astrologer cannot escape their own subjectivity.
        • Astrology involves collusion between astrologer, client, and symbols.
    • Makes it equivalent to doing a tarot reading.
    • Works due to psychological investment of astrologer and client.
    • Could work then even if chart data is wrong (famously argued by Cornelius)
  • 4) Physical mechanism, such as solar radiation.
    • Jung rejected other physical mechanisms like vibration from Theosophists
    • Later in his life he was still open to possible causal mechanisms (c. 1958).
    • Recent scientific theory about solar radiation.
    • Synchronistic and causal explanations may be simultaneously valid.
    • Would then make astrology a natural science.
    • His vacillation on this is surprising given that later astrologers in the 20th century would use his work on synchronicity as the basis for an entirely acausal view.
  • 5) Time having qualitative properties.
    • Famous statement: “Whatever is born or done at this particular moment of time has the quality of this moment of time.”
    • Astrology as an expression of the quality of time
    • Time doesn’t just have duration, but also quality, meaning.
    • Astrology functions like a cosmic clock or watch.
    • Fate is identical to time.
    • Synchronicity may have replaced this theory by later in his life.
  • 6) Numerology
    • Number has symbolic meaning
    • Not just quantitative.
    • Number as an ordering principle.
    • Having transcendental archetypal qualities.
  • 7) Astrology as synchronicity
    • Consistent acausal parallelism or correspondence.
    • General orderedness that runs through reality.
    • Synchronicity on a grand scale.
    • Transcendental psychophysical background.
    • Psyche and cosmos interconnected, not separate.
    • An underlying principle of order
    • Arises out of and subsumed some of the previous theories.
  • Explanations are not mutually exclusive in Jung’s thought.


A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 148 transcript

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  • Bernadette Brady has formulated a strong, coherent theory of astrology in her book A Place in Chaos. As I understand her theory, and I believe Mr. Le Grice intuits this as well, there is no underlying order nor superficial order nor is anything random. There is no above and below, and no inner and outer.

    There are only patterns of organizing principles in constant flux at multiple levels of complexity. These patterns are scale invariant and mutually affecting. Obvious causality is merely relative simplicity and relative directness. Non-obvious causality, Brady explains, such as prayer, can also be simple but is relatively indirect. Free will, therefor, is not an absolute but actually a variable which physics calls Degree of Freedom; and fate is manifest predisposition (like that quirkily unique cylinder knocked down a chaotic hill).

    Hopefully Brady’s recognition will come, maybe even from a close consideration by Keiron Le Grice?

  • Hi Chris. I am a new listener to your Astrology Podcast. I want to thank you for the excellent guests and conversations you are making available to all of us. I’ve spent many hours listening to past episodes and am learning a great deal. I feel I’m attending a perpetual astrology conference right here in my cabin. Thanks so much.

    • Thank you, I appreciate it! That is exactly what I’m going for at this point, in terms of people feeling like they are attending high level astrology talks each time, from the comfort of wherever they happen to be listening to the podcast. I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to do this work over the past few years through the support and encouragement of listeners, so your feedback means a lot.

  • Another excellent ‘cast. I was almost sure you two were going to reference another famous “coincidence”: when a bookcase (as I recall) made one or more sharp, mysterious sounds in the midst of a vigorous dispute between Jung and Freud.

  • Excellent episode, this is a rare podcast that I’ve listened to twice and may even revisit. Discussions like this distinguish your show from others I’ve encountered. You obviously put in lots of thought and preparation and I’m quite happy to support your show.

  • Excellent episode. Excellent guest. I definitely learned a few things about Jung’s ideas I was not aware of & I’m looking forward to reading the book. Interesting to hear the trajectory of Jung’s thoughts on mechanism over the year.