The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 141, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Safron Rossi
Episode originally released on January 29, 2018
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released August 10th, 2020
Copyright © 2020 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode was recorded on Thursday, January 25, 2018, starting at 3:53 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 141st episode of the show. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe.
In this episode, I’m going to be talking with Dr. Safron Rossi about the life and work of the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung and her new book which explores his views on astrology titled Jung on Astrology.
Hi, Safron. Welcome to the show.
SAFRON ROSSI: Hi, Chris. Thanks so much for having me.
CB: Yeah, I’m really excited. So we had a little bit of a problem getting started today due to technical issues, but I think we’ve got it together. And I’m really excited about this episode because this is actually a really landmark book or really notable book for a number of reasons that we’ll discuss.
First, I wanted to start off just by introducing you to my audience and talking a little bit about your background. So could you tell me who you are and where you’re from and what your background in this field is?
SR: Yeah. So I am a professor of mythology and depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute where I teach in a program that focuses on the work of Jung and post-Jungian archetypal theory. And I’m also a scholar and a writer and an astrologer, so I kind of wear these different aspects of both scholarly and creative endeavors.
Pacifica’s in California, which I moved to in 2003 to start graduate school, but I come from New York City, so I’m an East Coaster originally.
CB: Okay. So Pacifica is also where Richard Tarnas teaches…
CB: …and a lot of his work has sort of revolved around there. Did you go to Pacifica already with some background or interest in astrology, or is that something that came up during the course of your studies there?
SR: It actually came later. So I have my PhD in mythological studies. Pretty much all my life, I have been very interested and passionate and curious about mythology and legends. I remember when I was in college and I was studying religious studies and comparative literature, I had this really strong, but at the same time vague sense that myth and legend and fairy tales were really important but I didn’t know why–meaning they were important beyond the study of culture and history and literature, but they meant something.
But you know, being 20-21, at least for me, my psychological understanding was so nascent and not very well-developed. It was in applying to graduate school and going to Pacifica and beginning to study mythology from an explicitly depth psychological perspective that that sort of intuitive knowing that I had when I was young really started to fill out through my studies.
So astrology was always in the background, but it actually wasn’t until I had finished my doctoral dissertation and was kind of in that post-partum period after any major creative project, where I went to a very small lecture that Rick Tarnas was giving in Santa Barbara. It wasn’t actually at Pacifica, but hosted through people that were related in the community sense.
CB: What sort of time frame was that? Sorry for interrupting.
SR: Around 2008-2009.
SR: And listening to Rick Tarnas talk about the planets in a distinctly archetypal sense, meaning as forces of values or styles of consciousness or rhythmic energy patterns, I was just blown away. I realized listening to him that astrology in many ways is the sort of binding bridge between mythology–the study of mythology, the narratives, the images, the complexity–and our psychological experience, meaning: How do we make sense of periods of time and times of crisis and difficulty? Somehow, astrology is the most perfect way to bridge those two areas, both the mythic sensibility and a sense of the unfolding or deepening of our psychological experience of life.
So that was it. Tarnas had me recognize what was a kind of living practice to bridge those two parts, I suppose is another way to put it.
CB: Sure, and that would have been just a couple of years after his book Cosmos and Psyche came out. So that’s a really…
CB: …rich period in terms of what he had initiated and what was going on in that area during that time frame.
SR: That’s right. You know, whenever Rick comes to Pacifica, his conferences sell out. I mean, he’s such an amazing speaker and holds that kind of balance between a deep love for intellectual and historical inquiry, and at the same time this very expansive feeling for the sort of archetypal structures or energies that are embedded within life. It’s just an amazing combination of approaches to the topic, so yeah.
SR: Cosmos and Psyche, I would say has definitely been a bit of a watershed moment, or a watershed publication in terms of modern astrology and how we think about it.
CB: Right. And your story is really interesting to me because I was watching it from the other side of the fence within the astrological community already and seeing him put out a book where he’s explicitly trying to make the case to modern intellectuals basically that there’s something to astrology, and it’s worth paying attention to and there’s the case for why.
There was always this question at the time–I remember when it came out, I was still at Kepler, and we all sat around at one symposium and read The New York Times review of it—and we were wondering to what extent it would actually bring in anybody from academia, or to what extent it would be viewed as compelling or convincing to anyone.
Hearing your story of somebody who came in from academia, who already had a PhD and been exposed to that, that it did actually feel compelling to you and drew you into the field or led to an interest in astrology is really interesting to me.
SR: Mm, yeah, very much. It was like seeing how all of these theoretical ideas–Jungian ideas about the development of the self or individuation and the way that we use mythology to amplify and personify and really deepen into that process–the way Tarnas looks at astrology, it holds both ends.
Now after having my mind blown by Tarnas–and then I started to do my own research–of course, I came to the work of other astrologers that were doing this. But yeah, it was Tarnas’ approach that kind of flipped the switch for me.
CB: Sure. At that point, obviously, you already would have had a pretty deep background in Jung, and what you came into astrology with, I’m assuming, was a familiarity with Jung and his work because of your focus on mythology, right?
SR: That’s right, and not only Jung, but also James Hillman, the founder of archetypal psychology. So yeah, I was coming at astrology with a very strong grounding in those two thinkers’ ideas who necessitate and almost make primary symbolic languages by which to understand the psyche.
CB: Sure. And that leads us then to the topic of this episode, which is that you just published a book titled Jung on Astrology, which is a compilation of excerpts of different statements that Jung made in writing over the course of his career about astrology. So how did this book come about, or what was the starting point of it?
SR: I mean, in a very simple, frank way, I was really curious about what Jung had written about astrology and kind of wanted an excuse to learn more about that specifically. And so, as no doubt you know, there’s no better way to learn something than to be writing about it, right…
SR: …or to be researching it in-depth. So that was kind of my original inspiration, which was, well, what did Jung really have to say, and beginning to gather pieces.
Routledge, who is the publisher of this book, there’s a series of books that have been called the ‘Jung on’ series. So there’s the Jung on Alchemy, Jung on Synchronicity, these different volumes that people have edited to help distill his ideas on a particular topic because he was an incredibly prolific writer. And so, there’s a lot of material to be able to pour through when you’re trying to understand his take on a particular idea.
CB: Right. The book on Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal was actually assigned reading at Kepler back around 2004-2005, so that was actually a pretty influential book on me. So it’s interesting then seeing this as a new edition in that series of breaking up Jung’s work on different topics into specific volumes that focus on them. And this was one that was missing until now, which is, what did he actually say about astrology.
SR: Right, exactly. And making it easier for people to explore that on their own I think is important. Also, I think, for me, I was really invested in trying to contribute something in this more old-school, academic way, like putting together an edited volume of an luminary’s work as a way of helping to establish this topic in a way that maybe necessarily hasn’t been represented so clearly–if that makes sense.
This is a volume that people can now assign in curriculum, whether it’s at a more depth psychologically-oriented school or in astrological programs. There’s more primary, direct understanding and exploration of Jung’s ideas and that felt like an important contribution to make.
CB: Yeah, definitely, because Jung was such an influential thinker in the 20th century on a number of different fields. Anybody that reads some of his works will see these little bits and pieces and references to astrology in different things, but there’s never been a full collection of what he actually said.
And this very much lets him speak for himself. It’s not just necessarily commentary or picking out different statements and then writing chapters of exposition about them. It’s literally excerpts from his writings that’s all in one place, so that you can for the first time point to or cite something. If anyone says that Jung practiced astrology, there’s actually now a book where you can point to exactly what that means in a very literal sense.
CB: All right, excellent. You actually co-authored this book, and you were the one that first proposed the idea of putting it together, right?
SR: Yeah, I had come up on the idea and I had been sort of sitting on it for a little while. And then Keiron Le Grice, who is the co-editor of the volume, he joined the faculty in the program that I teach in, that we now both teach in, the Jungian and Archetypal Studies program at Pacifica.
He joined the faculty. We had known one another; we were kind of acquaintances. But when he joined the faculty, just becoming colleagues, it just seemed like a really natural project to take on together, given his own deep study and practice of astrology. And also, to a certain degree, our areas of focus seemed very complementary.
Keiron, who studied at CIIS and was a student of Rick Tarnas’ and has published quite a lot on the discipline out of the Rick Tarnas school, Archetypal Cosmology and Astrology. It seemed like a really great fit for us to come together to look at Jung because Keiron has a particularly philosophical, intellectual history background when it comes to astrology–like where does it comes from and what are the various influences and ideas–whereas I come more from the mytho-poetic side–the symbolism and the roots of the images and their literary expressions and how that comes through.
So it just seemed like a really good fit and fun project to take on together–and camaraderie and all of that.
CB: Yeah, definitely. And certainly, he seems like one of the most, if not, the most prominent student to come out of or to follow in the wake of Tarnas’ Cosmos and Psyche and the school or the approach that he’s set up with that. It seems like he is definitely, not the main or only representative but certainly one of the most prominent ones in terms of the number of books and other things that he’s published over the past, I guess, decade now.
Yeah, so I can see why that would really make sense or would be a good collaboration in terms of the two of you working on this together.
SR: Yeah, exactly, and he just has a wonderful feeling for this, the validity. And I mean that in the sense of the value of the astrological paradigm in relationship to life and how it helps us make conscious and accessible these deeper experiences that we have and ways to work with them.
CB: Sure. In reading through the book over the past week, I was really struck by how much many of the basic premises or principles that that school that Tarnas incorporated into his work in Cosmos and Psyche and in that school of astrology that he set up or that approach to archetypal astrology, how many of the foundational principles were things that do seem to go back to Jung or that you can see him formulating in his writings.
I was kind of struck by that because I don’t know if I had forgotten or it had just become not clear how much of that was being drawn from Jung’s works or influenced in a very direct way early on and not necessarily by intermediaries like Rudhyar or later astrologers.
CB: So that provides us then with a good transition point, which is basically the purpose of this episode is I wanted to talk to you about the life and work of Carl Jung and talk a little bit about who he was, what he did and why his work is significant, what he thought about astrology, and then finally, what his influence was on the astrological tradition. That’s kind of a tall order, but I think we can pull it off.
CB: So why don’t we start by just introducing my audience–assuming that they have no background on who this person is. Tell me a little bit about who he was and what time frame he lived in.
SR: Okay, so Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist. He was born 1875 and died in 1961. And a sidebar: Mick Jagger and Carl Jung have the same birthday.
CB: Oh, wow.
CB: Well, not year, but you mean day and month.
SR: Well, I don’t know. Mick Jagger does seem to be really making it last a long century, but right, same day.
CB: Yeah, he does seem immortal at this point.
SR: Right. So yeah, Jung was born in 1875 and died in 1961 and lived in Switzerland his whole life. Early in his career, he was a colleague of Freud’s, which is generally a kind of well-known association. But Jung and Freud parted ways after a period of intense collaboration mainly over Jung’s differing psychological theories, which came to emphasize what we now talk about as the collective unconscious.
CB: Right, and that’s really important. Their connection is important and notable just from a historical standpoint just because of who Freud was and what his significance was in founding what essentially became the modern approach to psychology, right?
SR: Yeah, a psychology that values primarily the existence and the reality of the unconscious.
CB: Sure. And in terms of Freud, especially for some of our younger listeners who may not have a background in the history of psychology, depth psychology is a relatively recent development. It’s something that I noticed that Jung emphasized a few times in his writing–in acknowledging and reflecting on his own life and work–how relatively recent depth psychology was as a sort of science or a development over the course of the past century, right?
SR: That’s right. And without wanting to get too complex too early on, I mean, part of the reason why depth psychology is quite nascent and new is that one could argue, as Jung has in various places, that with the decline of strong and complete religious containers for people’s life experiences–meaning belonging to a religious group, or living within a kind of religious mythology–the breakdown of that in our modern era has led to great challenges psychologically for people, where one’s moral compass, one’s sense of values, one’s idea about the way the world works or the order of things, or the ultimate importance of certain things.
In losing that–which has been the domain of religious and/or spiritual practices–people began to suffer in a way and need help in managing some of these experiences. So psychology, and depth psychology in a way, is a kind of response to these collective changes that are really unprecedented in the history of humankind.
CB: Sure, and Freud was at the forefront of that in laying a lot of what became foundational principles in the late 19th and early 20th century, right?
SR: That’s right.
CB: Okay, so he’s doing that work and he was about 20 years older than Jung, and then Jung came along at one point and almost became like a protégé of Freud or something close to that. Is that maybe taking it too far?
SR: No. Actually, I think that that’s pretty accurate. In some of the last exchanges between Freud and Jung in their correspondence, Freud talks as if on the eve of Freud anointing Jung as his kind of son and heir to this field of psychology, their parting of ways was kind of planted within the middle of that. So the sense that they were very close, that Freud in some way really saw Jung as stepping in to kind of take the mantle of this field forward, I think is quite evident.
CB: Sure. And what was the time frame? In terms of the full span of their lives–because they both lived to be relatively old–they really were only associated for a relatively short span of time. But what was that time frame again in terms of when they started talking with each other and when they stopped talking with each other?
SR: Oh, my goodness. I don’t have that at my fingertips…
SR: …but yeah, I think that…
CB: I think it was like 1906 or 1907.
SR: Right, to about 1912-13.
CB: Yeah. So we’re talking about like a decade or less than a decade, but as soon as they found each other, there was like an explosion of correspondence between the two, right?
SR: That’s right. I think part of the connection between Jung and Freud, if we look at what was going on for Jung or his history, it helps us begin to understand why he was drawn to Freud. Jung underwent a long apprenticeship working with schizophrenic patients–schizophrenic or psychotic patients–at the Burghölzli Institute in Switzerland, and that’s where he became aware of the mythological or archetypal dimensions of the psyche. And it was also at the Burghölzli that Jung began conducting experiments using things such as the Word Association Test to develop the notion of psychological complexes.
So as he’s living and working at this institute with patients that are in altered states of consciousness and doing his studies, he begins to see what Freud is up to in his own work. And I think that’s where the link starts to happen because Freud was working with people who also had very challenging complexes or neuroses that were impeding the living of a relatively healthy or well-adjusted kind of a life. Their finding each other comes from both of their working with individuals that have profound difficulty and then their study is coming out of that.
CB: Sure, and this developing field of–what did they call it–’the talking cure’ in the early 20th century?
SR: That’s right. Freud called it ‘the talking cure’, yeah.
CB: Okay, so they find each other, they have this very productive period of interaction, and eventually though they went separate ways. Their differences grew to such an extent that they stopped talking with each other, right?
SR: Yeah. I mean, I think it just has to do with their firm convictions around what they understood to be indisputable or primary ideas regarding the psyche. They just had different perspectives on some of these topics and couldn’t find a way to not…
It almost feels very alchemical in the way that at some point certain chemicals are repelled by one another, right? And it just kind of feels like they came to a place where there was an intense repelling away from the way that each one was really doing their work and what they were focused on.
CB: Sure, yeah, that notion of like opposites attract but then at some point sometimes can conflict so much that they drive each other away. And it seemed like part of falling out was that Jung had some interests in esoteric and quasi-spiritual type ideas and often would try to incorporate that into his psychological models, whereas Freud did not, or that was not typically something that Freud was incorporating into his work, at least not in the same way that Jung did, right?
SR: Right. You know, Jung was always interested in topics that seemed to be outside mainstream thought. So early on, like when he was doing his own thesis research, he did research on the paranormal. And throughout his career, he was interested in esoteric traditions such as gnosticism and alchemy, he wrote a book on UFO phenomenon.
So he was both a serious scientist–he was an MD, a doctor–and someone who was extremely interested in the things that challenged the limits of our knowledge, and I think astrology obviously fits into this context.
CB: Sure, and that’s basically where astrology starts coming in, as far as we know, in terms of his writings. In some of the letters–which you guys actually quote in this book from very early in his career, I think as early as 1911–he starts talking to Freud or attempting to talk to Freud about astrology and almost convince him that there’s something to it and that he thinks it might be useful.
And interestingly, actually from your perspective and your background, he almost seems to say that his initial approach or reason, motivation for looking into is that he thinks it’ll help him in terms of his studies of mythology.
SR: Right. Isn’t that interesting? I remember the first time I came across that quote. You know, there’s something about Jung–and I’ve heard other people share this too. Reading Jung, there’s this uncanny way in which he says things that you know but maybe you haven’t just articulated quite fully.
SR: Do you know what I mean by that?
CB: Yeah, definitely.
SR: ‘Cause you just feel like you’re right there with him, and you’re like, “Yes, totally! Of course! And I couldn’t have said it, but I’m so glad that you did.” So in that particular excerpt where he talks about astrology really being like one of the keys to understanding myth–and of course, we’re talking about a symbolic sensibility–I think that’s right on.
Again, maybe some of the listeners that maybe aren’t so familiar with Freud, I think it’s kind of common parlance the idea of the ‘Oedipus complex’ coming from Freud, as well as the ‘Freudian slip’. But what was so ground-breaking about Freud talking about Oedipus in relationship to some of his patients’ fantasies about incest was that Freud was really curious and privileging the imaginal capacity–meaning the way in which we make stories in order to give expression to our particular take on reality.
So by bringing in the Oedipus myth as a way to try to understand patient’s experiences of the fantasy of incest or whatever that was, he’s showing how our psychological experience is in and of itself kind of mythological. Does that make sense?
CB: Yeah, and that’ll actually lead us into talking about that section about why his work was significant and some of the theories that he came up with. Maybe that would be a good transition point and then we can come back to talking about his chronology. Does that make sense, or should we keep going with this?
SR: No, that’s fine. Yeah, that’s absolutely fine…
SR: …because we have some of these key ideas that to kind of just touch on a little bit.
CB: Yeah, well, let’s jump into it right now because that’ll set a good foundation for discussing the rest of his career, as well as why perhaps he fell out with Freud. So what were some of the key things that Jung did in terms of his work–speaking of it in terms of his entire career and some of the key ideas or theories that he introduced which really characterize it or are characteristic of it in some way?
SR: Okay, so let’s probably go back to how I mentioned when Jung was at the Burghölzli doing his apprenticeship. He was conducting experiments like the Word Association Test, which came to help him develop the notion of a psychological complex.
So complexes, or a complex, I think one of the ways to define it is that it’s a thematic grouping of psychological contents. For example, memories, emotional responses–that usually originate in childhood. That’s why we have these common terms like ‘mother’ and ‘father’ complex, right? Like, “Oh, my god. She’s got such a father complex.”
Well, the idea there is that for a person, maybe her personal experiences with her father and then with professors or teachers or authority figures, they create a kind of energy grouping in her psyche. And so, they can get triggered in relationship to certain experiences; hence, it’s a grouping of psychological contents coming together.
But what’s interesting is that Jung eventually came to understand that archetypal or universal themes lay deeply within our own personal complexes, and I think this is one of the doors that opens to considering astrology.
CB: Right, and that’s core to his thinking, the notion of an archetype.
SR: The archetype.
CB: What is an archetype? In Jung’s thought, what was his formulation of that concept?
SR: Hmm, right.
CB: Or basically, what is an archetype, if you were explaining it to somebody who has never heard of the idea before?
SR: So an archetype is a formative principle or pattern that shapes our behaviors, our ideas. They can also be symbols that have a universal quality that have appeared throughout human history.
CB: Sure. So recurring themes or things. This is a concept that goes back to the philosophy of Plato who’s usually associated with first formulating a concept of archetypes in some sense, right?
SR: That’s right. So it does harken back to that, but there are two levels here in that an archetype is this kind of formative principle or pattern. And as Jung says, in and of itself, meaning in its most pure form, we can’t see or know what an archetype is. We only know it by the images or symbols that arise and by the ways that it’s experienced.
And that is often a big piece. I think we can see that’s a kind of an argument leveled against Jung saying that, “Well, archetypes are like these fixed, unchanging, images or ideas,” and that’s not true, at least not in the way that we more deeply understand Jung, which is that we only experience an archetype because of the way that it comes through historical, cultural, and individual valances, right? We’re all affected by our environment, our personal history, our collective history.
The simplest way to maybe think about this too is the archetype of the Trickster. The Trickster is present in all mythologies around the world, right? In the Greek-Roman tradition, we’ve got Hermes/Mercury. In the Native American traditions, we have Coyote. We have Loki coming to us from the Nordic tradition. So the Trickster is an archetypal figure who has a very defined character, and yet, the way that different cultures and peoples have rendered or manifested that figure has been very specific to both the time and the place in which those stories were told.
CB: Sure. Or even just to break it down much more simply for those maybe struggling with this, in Plato, it was the overarching concept of a tree and there are many different specific manifestations of trees that we’ve seen in the world–the idea that there’s a transcendent quality that has all of the overarching qualities of what a tree is that manifests in different ways in the actual physical world, right?
SR: Right. And then on a personal level, we can say a journey is archetypal–what it is to leave what we know and enter the world or enter a new territory, going on a journey. Whether that’s literal or even psychological, going on an investigation of something, trying to understand the journey, each person is going to have their own way of dealing with venturing out into the unknown. So the very act is archetypal, but the way you approach venturing into an unknown land is going to be very different from the way that I do.
CB: Right. And so, Jung took that notion of an archetype and then he started looking at how archetypes arose in things like mythology. Before I interrupted you with the tree example, you were talking about the notion of the Trickster and that being an archetype or concept he saw showing up in the mythology of many different cultures, in different ways, but somehow there seemed to be something behind that that was a unifying principle that was representing the same underlying concept, even if some of the details and nuances of how that story manifested in different cultures was slightly different, right?
SR: Exactly, the idea being that there are archetypal patterns to experience. There are archetypal figures that are connected in terms of their underlying structure or characteristics, that — based on the time and place in which they have come forward–carry all these unique, idiosyncratic qualities.
Not wanting to pick such a common one, but the Hero is another archetypal figure that, like the Trickster, is ubiquitous. And there is a definitive pattern to the Hero as an archetypal figure, but the way in which that can be represented seems endless–endless possibilities.
CB: Right, the Hero as an archetype in mythology.
CB: So Jung took this idea of the archetype–which seems like a really foundational principle in his thinking and in his approach–and applied it to study many different areas, this idea that there’s archetypes out there, and he applied it to mythology in the way that we’re talking about here. But he also applied it, like you were saying earlier, in psychology, that you could see archetypes manifesting different psychological scenarios as well, right?
SR: Yeah. I think the way to think about the relationship between archetypes and mythology in the way that Jung meant it was that myths, the gods, the heroes, the crazy characters are the archetypes personified. We can’t see an archetype unless it’s being enacted, and from time immemorial, they have been enacted in the great mythological stories from all cultures. It’s the way in which humans have been connected to these transpersonal values or attitudes through the images of divinity and spiritual forms.
Myths are the archetypes in motions. Psychologically, we experience those archetypal energies in our lives. As a baby, our mother and father, generally, hopefully, are the prime divinities that give life, nurture, and sustenance, and so, we attribute in a very innocent, nascent kind of a way the energy of the archetypal to the people and experiences that we have in our life.
SR: I think probably nothing hits closer to home, if people are trying to square this, as when we fall in love, right?
CB: Sure, the archetype or the concept of falling in love.
SR: Yeah, where we literally feel like something has happened to us, that there’s a power drawing us toward another person, the way life can all of a sudden seem filled with meaningfulness and hopefulness and light. I mean, all of that is really psychic energy, and so, there’s something that’s awakened. We’re connected to archetypal energy in the deeper mysteries of falling in love or being in love.
CB: Sure. And connected with this idea of archetypes is also another important concept that is often associated with Jung, or that he really pioneered and his school is known for, which is the notion of the ‘collective unconscious’. Could you talk a little bit about what that is, or how he conceptualized that?
SR: Yeah. The collective unconscious is a term that he used to talk about that deep riverbed of mythological or archetypal images that connect humanity. So talking about Aphrodite or Coyote, Hermes, all of these figures in a way live within or come from the collective unconscious because they belong to the history of humanity and not to an individual. The collective unconscious is the place where these great, formative or structural patterns of life, the archetypes, live or come from.
CB: Right. It’s sort of the realm where the archetypes are, and it’s something that exists almost out there independently of an individual life, or becomes the reason why you could have a recurring archetype that shows up in one person’s life a century or two ago, and then in modern-day, somebody has a life and they experience a certain scenario or a certain archetype in the same way or in a similar fashion. It’s because the archetypes are living in this area, called the collective unconscious.
SR: Yeah, that’s right. There’s a beautiful image that Jung gives of this. He has this really great autobiography called, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Anyone who isn’t really familiar with Jung but is getting curious listening to this, I think it’s the best first book to read. This was written toward the end of his life. And so, he has that beautiful retrospective perspective, that having lived a very full life, he can look back and talk about his main ideas theoretically, conceptually, but in relationship to his lived experience.
He recounts this dream he has where he’s in a dream-house, and he’s standing in this room in the house. It was a very nicely-appointed house, and he’s kind of impressed with himself thinking, “Oh, what a very nice dream-house I have.” He notices that there’s a stairway leading down out of this room, and he’s curious. And so, in the dream, he walks down the staircase, and down the next level, there’s another room, but it’s more rococo in style–let’s say, 17th century–so it’s a couple of hundred years older than the first room. And he’s like, “Oh, this is interesting.”
He descends another floor, and there, he’s in a more Roman-style room. And then he descends even further until he gets to the bottom, and he’s in a very primal cave-like room. That last room, that bottom room that seems to be the basement and also the foundation for all the rooms above is really an image of the collective unconscious and how going deeper and deeper in history, in time, we can come to some connected ground from which all of history, both personal and collective and cultural, emerges from, or at least is informed by.
CB: Sure. And that story’s great because it points to one of the key things that Jung seems like he was doing constantly, which was interpreting things from a symbolic standpoint as holding greater meaning or symbolism in a way that was relevant and valid–including things like dreams, which other psychologists were involved in interpreting, like Freud, who was also interested in dream interpretation, but would interpret it as being outgrowths of sexual impulses or other things like that. Whereas, Jung was interpreting things like that symbolically as containing important information that was coming from the realm of the unconscious or the archetypes, or what have you.
SR: Yeah, absolutely. I think you’ve put it really well. And I think that what you’ve said is actually pinpointing one of the key understandings that differentiate Jung’s view of the Psyche from other early theorists, and that is his sense that there is a deeper, organizing principle at work in the lives of all of us, and whatever this organizing principle is, it drives the process of what he called individuation, which may have an unconscious goal or a hidden purpose for the individual.
I think individuation is really also one of the key ideas, key theories of Jung’s. But it’s deeply life-affirming, this idea that even if we’re not conscious of it, that there’s something moving us, driving us toward a greater wholeness of who we can be. And I don’t mean that in a kind of New Age affirmation way. I mean that very much in the sense of becoming more connected to the unconscious and having our consciousness and our unconscious be in a kind of dialogue that in an of itself is related to creativity, a sense of meaningfulness in our life, a sense of being connected to something that’s much bigger than us, and yet, has our best interest in mind somehow.
CB: Right. And Jung saw this–what he called ‘individuation’–as the goal or the purpose of not just psychology, but also what each individual is moving towards or striving towards in their life as a whole.
SR: Yeah, I mean, hopefully. I mean, just in the term ‘individuation’ as the word itself suggests, what does it take to really be an authentic individual–meaning to be living life on the terms that are discretely your own, but not just from a kind of ego, willful perspective, but in the sense of what it is that really you need to fulfill or live into in your life. And knowing what that is from a depth perspective, that doesn’t come from just our goal-setting meditation. Learning what that is really comes from being in a deep relationship with the unconscious.
CB: Sure. And that becomes part of his purpose, or what he sees as his goal in what he’s doing in terms of helping people individually, in terms of psychological analysis, right?
SR: That’s right. And to me, the astrological view shares the same orientation–this idea that the chart reveals an image of becoming, that I need to fulfill my cosmological blueprint or seed. Some more explicitly Jungian astrologers talk about the birth chart as a symbol of potential, and in that sense, it’s not about just reacting to our birth chart, but rather living into it.
CB: Right. Taken from that perspective, if that’s his goal with psychology, you can immediately then see why he would have been attracted very early on to something like astrology, to whatever extent astrology could help one understand that or strive towards some of the hidden, not just psychological complexes that one has, but the things that a person is growing or moving towards, in terms of their overall life development.
SR: Yeah, that’s right. So I guess we could say that the psychological attitude to problems or symptoms that Jung encouraged was to have patients find within themselves the seed of new potential or growth. So not simply focusing on the cause of the problem or the symptom, but rather how do you approach it as being a kind of opening.
CB: Right, and using dialogue and exploration of that in order to get to the core, underlying themes, which then can in turn lead to actual healing of not just the outcome of whatever the person is suffering from in the immediate moment, but the root causes of what’s causing that in some sense.
SR: That’s right. You can say healing because hopefully that’s what happens after we’re doing this kind of big work. But what might proceed, or rather what makes that even more remotely a possibility is consciousness–meaning when we become conscious of the underlying issue, attitude, opinion, or problem that really lives underneath whatever the particular issue or situation is, the very act of being open to seeing what lies under our general purview, that is a spark of consciousness; that’s an act of connecting to something deeper.
And just that contact, so to speak, the contact of our awareness to what lies beneath our awareness that more fully informs what’s been going on, that’s the change. That’s the kind of transformative hit that can lead to healing, resolution, and if nothing else, more clarity.
CB: Sure, that makes sense. So Jung, using some of these concepts and foundational principles, he eventually developed a school or an approach to psychology or psychoanalysis and became very notable during the course of his career, and had a lot of people who followed or emulated that approach that then is a major approach to psychology today at this point, right?
SR: Mm-hmm. That’s right.
CB: Okay, so that’s part of the context then. And in terms of mainstream psychology though, as an outsider, or as somebody that doesn’t have a lot of background in this, I often get the sense that Jung and the Jungian approach–because its openness and sometimes orientation towards more spiritual or mythological or sometimes almost quasi-religious concepts–that it’s not fully within the movement of mainstream psychology, but it still otherwise has made some major contributions to it and is still a major school of psychology that’s relatively well-recognized. Is that more or less accurate, or how would you frame that?
SR: Yes, I think that is accurate. I mean, one way to approach this point is why is Jung’s work significant in the field of psychology. And for me, I would say that it has to with the way he attempted to meld together the wisdom of the past with modern psychological understanding and methods of treatment.
The Jung psychology is one that grows organically from traditional understandings, particularly in the realms of spirituality, religion, mythology, and comparative symbolism. And in an era where psychology was becoming increasingly behavioral and rationalistic, Jung insisted on the importance of a spiritual life because that has been the core of the human experience from time immemorial. Why all of a sudden would the spiritual life really not be so important? It’s a really big question.
SR: And I think it’s the same issue today; it hasn’t changed very much. Mainstream psychology is very behavioral, very rationalistic; there’s a great investment in neurological exploration–all of which ought to be explored. But when you read the orientations and principles of cognitive-behavioral and other schools of psychology, it’s a very different sense about the life of the soul and the value of our symptoms and suffering.
Looking at it from the perspective of the past, the life of the soul and the issues that come through our suffering are callings from the Spirit. They’re openings for a different perspective or the budding of wisdom of some kind. So it’s a very different way of thinking about the life of the soul.
CB: Sure. I mean, even just setting that apart is an acknowledgement of the notion of the soul or the psyche as having some sort of spiritual component versus maybe a more mainstream psychological approach of seeing things in purely almost physiological terms or something like that.
SR: Or mechanistic, right?
SR: To me, that piece about bridging the wisdom of the past in relationship to our contemporary issues, needs, and vision of treatment is just really key when it comes to Jung.
CB: Sure, and that brings us…
CB: Sorry, go ahead.
SR: No, I was going to wax poetic about the importance of history, but I think the point has been made.
CB: Yeah, and we’ll actually circle back around there, but we can loop back now to his story because that then provides us better context to understand that split with Freud. Because almost right there in that split with Freud, there’s something for us looking back, almost a century later now, where we can almost see what became of modern psychology in some sense and some of the reductionistic thinking.
Even though large parts of Freud’s thinking have since been rejected or are not necessarily still part of contemporary psychology, there’s something about the motivations and some of the reasons behind their split that’s very interesting today, now looking back at what mainstream psychology is versus what Jung’s approach is and the things that he did incorporate into his work. Is that accurate? Am I taking that too far? I’m not sure.
SR: Yeah, I don’t know.
CB: I realize that’s partially depending on what school of psychology that you’re looking at perhaps, or maybe it’s difficult to make a blanket statement about an entire field like that.
CB: But I guess I was just thinking of the extent to which Jung was open to incorporating other things like astrology into his work and recognizing what you can almost classify as metaphysical concepts–like the idea of an archetype, or the idea of a collective unconscious–that are almost quasi-metaphysical or spiritualistic-type concepts. I’m not sure to what extent those are usually recognized by mainstream psychology today.
SR: I mean, I think that’s right. This goes back to Jung’s lifelong fascination with the occult and esoteric traditions and topics. But again, I think if we see them as having been at one point–whether it’s divination, or alchemy, or astrology–really central, symbolic languages that lived at the heart of certain cultures and at certain periods of time, and were taken for granted in terms of their truthfulness or their view on reality, Jung was recognizing them in that way. Meaning that, astrology, for example, had for centuries been understood to be an absolutely valid way of understanding individuals, periods of time.
And so, he didn’t take as a privilege our modern position to say that, “Well, it doesn’t make sense anymore.” You see what I mean? He really valued these esoteric traditions as having been the containers of knowledge for the past, and therefore, can still be containers of knowledge today if we know how to work with them or look at them with a more psychological, metaphorical, symbolic sensibility and not as literal fact. You see?
CB: Right. I think we can understand–having outlined some of those things in terms of the ideas that were key ideas in his thought–why then very early on in his career, he would have developed an interest in astrology. One of the quotes I pulled out of the book, at one point, he said that, “Astrology was the first form of psychology, which is a very young science dating from the end of the 19th century only.”
So he’s recognizing modern psychology as a relatively recent development, that many of the things that he’s trying to do with psychology are many of the things that he’s recognizing and can see pieces of already pre-existing in astrology; not only in terms of things like the use of natal charts in order to look at–whatever you want to call it–psychological complexes, but using astrology as an access point for understanding archetypes, especially through the planets and the planets themselves being an excellent access point for understanding core archetypal dynamics that are in different parts of the world.
SR: That’s right. I mean, absolutely. And we can even take the word ‘archetype’ out of that and just say that Jung understood astrology to be this ancient symbolic language that provides insight into the workings of the psyche.
It’s like how do the elements of the psyche–which of course are partially the archetypes–work? How are they working for this particular individual, right? What are the challenges? So yeah, you’re right on.
CB: Right. And finally, now that we can talk about the planets, astrology in general, and what his thoughts were, we can immediately also relate that concept of an archetype back to something astrologically because one of the things that’s come up a few times over and over again actually in the podcast. I think it was in the last episode, we were talking about Saturn and the concept of Saturn, and we read an excerpt from the 2nd century astrologer, Vettius Valens, and then we read an excerpt from just the significations given in Tarnas’ work, Cosmos and Psyche.
And one of the things that holds together the astrological tradition and how they deal with the planets is it’s always this long list of significations because you can’t actually articulate an astrological archetype; it’s like this transcendent concept that can manifest in hundreds of different ways. All you can do is understand the hundreds or thousands of different manifestations, and then through looking at all those different significations, you start to develop in your mind a concept of what the overarching notion is, but there’s still something where you can’t articulate necessarily, or you can’t put into words.
You can’t use a single word or sentence that will bring together that entire concept in all of its many manifestations. Instead, you just have this idea that Saturn can represent these many things, for example.
SR: That’s right. Yeah, I think that’s great. And I think in many ways, you’ve just said in another way what I was saying about the difference between an archetype and an archetypal image. You can’t say what Saturn is, but you can talk about all the ways Saturn works us, shows up, how we experience it, his qualities, his characteristics, right?
And so, in that sense, those are all the archetypal images, whereas the archetype, Saturn, it’s beyond our ken. We can’t fix it, we can’t name it, but we can talk about it in relationship to how it appears.
SR: Yeah, exactly.
CB: All right. So Jung was a psychologist, but he was a psychoanalyst. I’m not sure. What is the correct–I guess he’s referred to as a psychiatrist?
SR: Well, he was a psychiatrist, but Freudians and Jungians call themselves psychoanalysts as well, so there’s always a lot of different terminology. He was a psychoanalyst…
CB: And he did that work with individual people, in direct one-on-one sessions, but he also has this very strong academic background where he was very extremely well-read. He seemed to have loved to read literature on ancient history and ancient authors of philosophy and religion and science and occult matters and all sorts of different things.
It seems like part of the necessary understanding in terms of who he was and what his contributions were is he had this tremendous breadth of understanding of the past, in terms of trying to understand the past and draw various insights from what people were doing that could be relevant in modern times, right?
SR: Yeah, I’m so glad you brought that up. And I think your use of the word ‘tremendous’ is right on. I mean, the breadth of his knowledge and his curiosity is just really astounding when you start digging into his work and to see all the directions he went it, yeah.
CB: Yeah. So German was his first language, but it looks like he read Latin, and it looks like he may have also read Greek. Do you know if he had training in Greek offhand?
SR: I don’t know for a fact, but my understanding is that that would have been par for the course in terms of a classical education.
CB: Right, during that time-frame, in the late 19th, early 20th century.
CB: So that’s really interesting because it’s different than today, where he would have had the ability to go back and read the primary source texts in their original language. Moreover, he didn’t just have the ability to do that, but he did. And you can see in his writings where he’ll talk about a gnostic text from the 2nd century and he’ll actually quote it, or he’ll talk about the work of Nostradamus and he’ll actually cite some specific passage.
CB: So he was very interested in not just studying primary sources, but also talking about and analyzing them in some sense.
SR: That’s right. And I have to admit this is one of those moments where I just feel like I was born in the wrong era. I don’t know about you, but I would have loved to have learned Latin and Greek in school.
CB: Oh, yeah, that really killed me, especially having to try to learn some of that in my work with Hellenistic astrology; yeah, that would be tremendously useful. And the thing that’s cut off a lot of more recent modern astrologers who’ve come about in the late 20th and early 21st centuries is our lack of language skills has cut us off from the earlier tradition until recently when some translations have started to be made.
One of the things that I’m actually surprised about in reading your book is it’s been 10 years–because I’ve been focusing on Hellenistic astrology–since I read any of Jung’s work, and so I read it at a much earlier stage in my career, and I was very interested in his theories on synchronicity and wrote a term paper on it in 2005, but then moved on to other things. But coming back to his work and reading your book now with all of his writings, I’m really struck by how much he was drawing on the earlier tradition, and how he also seems to have been aware of a lot of earlier astrological sources.
It wasn’t just that he had an academic approach to studying mythology and religious studies, psychology and things like that, in astrology, he also had the ability to read primary source texts and he appears to have done that, and that seems to have informed his astrological understanding to some extent.
SR: Right. And I think we’re going to learn a lot about this very shortly because Liz Greene is just on the verge of having published a two-volume work on Jung, also with Rutledge, so this is very exciting. Maybe you know a little bit about this already, this anticipated work?
CB: I mean, I just saw a reference to it in one of your footnotes.
CB: And then Nick Campion mentioned it to me in an email, asking if I was aware of it. But I’m actually extremely interested in that now, having just heard about it in the past couple of days because that’s my next question. In developing his approach to astrology, at least by 1911–as we learn very quickly in your book–astrology became a lifelong interest for him and something he integrated and used almost continuously.
I’m very curious: What were his sources? And what sort of astrological influences did he have both early in his career as well as later on?
SR: Yeah, me too. So what I understand is that the Jung family gave Liz Greene access to his library–Jung’s personal library–as well as the suitcase or two of papers that Jung’s second daughter–Gret Baumann Jung, who was an astrologer–had kept. Liz Greene has had that unseen material from the suitcase, as well as access to his library.
And so, the first volume of her work is Jung’s Studies in Astrology, and it’s a review, commentary–I’m not exactly sure how it’s been framed–but we’re going to be basically invited into understanding who he was reading, who influenced the way that he was looking at astrology, and how he was using it in his practice. So that’s very, very exciting.
CB: Yeah, that’s going to be incredibly interesting, so I look forward to checking that out. And even just reading through your book and some of the excerpts that you guys picked out in order to demonstrate his references to and statements about astrology, some of the references he was making, he cites, at least a couple of times, the work of Bouché-Leclercq who wrote a book titled, Greek Astrology in French, in 1899 or something like that, the very end of the 19th century. It became the standard academic work on Greco-Roman astrology, and for the most part, has been for the past century, and he cites that.
So what it means is that Jung, like any good academic, basically did a literature review of contemporary academic scholarship on astrology in the early 20th century, relatively early in his career, and then he also went back and read some of the primary source texts.
SR: That’s right.
CB: So that in and of itself is interesting. Sometimes I feel like there’s been a movement over the past 20 or 30 years in the astrological community for astrologers to become more involved in academia. And often one of the things that you’ll see that will set apart an astrologer that has some academic training is that they’ll do that process of the literature review, and they will take into account both contemporary discussions and scholarship on the subject. They’ll also go back and focus on primary source texts and citing those texts and the discussion and critical analysis of them.
Something that makes Jung’s work very unique–and this is where it becomes interesting–is the question of could we classify Jung as an astrologer and how do you define that topic. I would actually argue that using the definition of an astrologer that I usually use that Jung was an astrologer. If that’s true, if you could classify him as an astrologer, he would have actually become or have been in retrospect one of the most notable and influential astrologers of the 20th century.
When you were writing this book, obviously, he’s not usually classified as an astrologer; he’s not usually treated that way. How did you feel about him? How would you classify him having read his works in the way that you did, or in the way that you put this book together?
SR: Hmm. Wow, that’s such an interesting, such a great question. Well, I think I’d like to hear your definition of an astrologer. Like how do you use that term?
CB: Sure. So I would distinguish between an astrologer, let’s say the term ‘astrologer’ as a generic term, and the definition I use is that an astrologer is–it’s sort of a three-part definition–a person who 1) believes in astrology as a legitimate phenomenon, 2) has some background or training in the techniques associated with astrology; so actual advanced training in astrology and its practices, and 3) actively uses it or applies it in their life in some way on a regular basis.
That distinction is important because there’s lots and lots of people–actually I would argue the majority of the astrological community that you would consider to be astrologers who actively practice and use astrology and are enthusiasts about it–where their primary income is not necessarily through doing astrological consultations.
So somebody like that you could classify more as let’s say a professional astrologer where their primary vocation is practicing astrology. But there are lots of people–because of the weird place that astrology occupies in society–where that’s not primarily what they’re known for, even though it’s the thing that they’re passionate about, that they spend most of their time doing, even if it’s not their primary income.
And he’s one of those people who even though his primary vocation and what he’s known for is being a psychologist, he spent a huge deal of time not just studying astrology and writing about it and talking about it, but also in some of the excerpts in your work, it sounds like he was not infrequently casting charts for some of his clients that he was talking to in order to get psychological insight from that. So he was actually practicing astrology as part of his practice as a psychoanalyst. And to that extent, I think we could actually classify him as an astrologer.
SR: Yeah. I mean, I think your definitions are great. There are qualifiers for using ‘an astrologer’. I think Jung–and I think this is going to be made even more clear when Liz Greene’s work comes out–clearly he had an astrological practice.
Just thinking about his other fields of interest, I guess we could say that he was also an alchemist, if we are exploring his deep study of alchemy and his coming to recognize alchemy as being the historical backbone of his psychological theory.
SR: I think that it…
CB: No, that’s a really good point because he’s an alchemist, he’s a religious studies scholar…
CB: …a historian.
CB: He’s a doctor.
SR: A doctor, a phenomenologist. A huge part of the work of a psychologist is to be present to the phenomenological appearance of symptoms and responses.
CB: Right. But that really does become an issue in the history of astrology in general because sometimes some of the most prominent “astrologers” or people who had influence on the field of astrologer were polymaths that were good at a number of different things. Ptolemy, for example, in the 2nd century, he wrote influential works on optics, on geography, on astronomy, on harmonics. He also wrote a book on astrology, and the book on astrology ended up being one of the most influential ones.
So then there’s the question, can you call him an astrologer versus somebody like Vettius Valens who’s a contemporary? That was his primary vocation and he didn’t write works on other fields.
Is Ptolemy still an astrologer is actually something that’s debated, but I can also think of other people like Richard Tarnas who became prominent by publishing The Passion of the Western Mind. And through some of his other works, since he has other interests, the question is, is Tarnas an astrologer versus his primary vocation, or is the thing that he’s primarily known for in other circles something else.
SR: Hmm, right–cosmologist, philosopher, historian. Yeah, I like the ambivalence or the lack of clarity around these frames. And the reason for that is that I don’t like the way–at least in academia–there’s been this really overwrought form of specialization, that people become specialists on one particular topic and consumed by knowing an inordinate amount of information around a very particular inflexion of a religious tradition or genre of literature, whatever that is.
Which is not to say that I don’t respect that kind of deep dive that people do. But I think it’s when people are–like you were saying with Ptolemy–linking overarching areas of interest that creativity really happens. And so, I like not having a clear sense of it. I like our complexity because I think that our complexity of interests more honestly reflects the complexity of our nature.
CB: Sure, definitely, and especially for people like Jung or people like Ptolemy where their broader project or agenda is a grand, unified field theory, which brings together many different fields and many different specializations and approaches. So to attempt to peg them with any one of those, it almost ends up being inaccurate for that reason…
CB: …because they’re creating something much larger than any one field. And additionally, to further backtrack on my earlier attempts to peg him as an astrologer, it’s interesting reading some of the excerpts in your book which include some of his private correspondences with different people, which includes actually some prominent astrologers from the mid-20th century, where he corresponded with or wrote letters. You have excerpts from letters he wrote to Andre Barbault, the famous French astrologer, as well as B.V. Raman who was a very prominent Indian astrologer in the mid-20th century.
And one of the things that’s actually really interesting, comparing some of those correspondences that I noticed versus when he was writing to Freud is that often, when he’s talking with the astrologers, he comes off like a psychologist who’s being approached by astrologers and then talking about the field as if he’s outside of it. Whereas in some of those brief snippets of the astrological discussions where he’s talking with Freud, he comes off like an astrologer who’s trying to convince Freud that he should pay attention to astrology. So there’s this weird, sort of interesting dynamic in terms of that; even in terms of his interactions with people during his lifetime.
SR: Yeah, it’s nice that you picked that up. I mean, I guess it’s that old thing, you know–know your audience.
CB: All right. But despite all of that and despite those discussions, one of the things that becomes clear in reading your book and the different excerpts is throughout different parts of his life, you have different chapters where it talks about the way that he thought about and attempted to formulate how astrology worked and what it was capable of and why it was doing what it did.
It was really interesting to see what had become some of the formative principles and philosophical positions of modern astrologers or contemporary astrologers in the late 20th and early 21st century that would have become core principles for us were first fully formulated in Jung’s work.
And to the extent that that’s true, that’s why I would say that he became–even if that wasn’t his primary vocation–one of the most influential astrologers of the 20th century just because he ended up laying down a number of foundational principles that later astrologers who were influenced by Jung incorporated into their work–like Dane Rudhyar, or Liz Greene, or Stephen Arroyo–and through that, that ended up seriously influencing the modern astrological tradition.
SR: That’s right. Yeah, and I guess this kind of brings us back to the idea of the way Jung said astrology is really ancient psychology. So in some sense, I mean, not to be circular in the response, but yeah, if we pierce astrology back again that way–that it’s an ancient, symbolic psychology–there we are.
CB: Right. And I think there’s a way in which that’s definitely true, but one of the things that’s interesting for me is having gone back and looked at the way that astrology was practiced in the 2nd century, while there was sometimes a psychological component–or there would be chapter on studying character analysis or the psyche or the soul of the individual–a lot of it was very much oriented towards concrete statements about concrete, external events in a person’s life or predictions.
Jung was part of an early development in early 20th century astrology where there was a push towards making astrology more psychological or using it in a more psychological context. And I think that’s the way in which he was influential, and maybe we talk about and focus on from here on out what was his influence on the astrological tradition or to what extent did he influence it.
SR: Yeah, great.
CB: So I think that’s maybe the biggest thing. This book–now that we have all of his statements and writings about astrology that you can fully assess–you can trace back where some of the core themes and concepts that show up so prominently or have become commonplace in modern astrology. You can actually trace a lot of those back to statements that he made starting in the early 20th century.
SR: Right. I think specifically talking about psychological astrology as its own–I guess we would say a general orientation to astrology that looks particularly at psychological interpretation–is largely based on some of these few Jungian principles. The first is, in the most primary sense, in exploring the unconscious, our self knowledge deepens and expands.
Psychological astrology seeks to draw attention to and work with the unconscious aspects through the symbolism of the birth chart, and in this way, our awareness is expanded when we connect experiences and issues to the archetypal patterns in the chart. This recognition of the reality of the unconscious is really primarily a depth–both Freudian, but particularly Jungian–psychology. So I think that would be the first primary thing that comes up.
CB: Sure, an astrologer using especially the birth chart in particular as an access point for doing that, for doing something essentially that you would otherwise try to do through just talking with the client or the patient or what have you. But for Jung, in one of the excerpts, he said if he had a difficult case, he would sometimes default to the chart in order to get a better access point for what he would otherwise try to approach more indirectly.
SR: Right, like when I’m working with a client and they’re maybe talking about their desire to be in a relationship in a much fuller way, and they’re trying to express that by talking about what’s going on. But when I’m looking at their chart and I can see that they have a Saturn-Venus opposition, just that symbolism of seeing that Saturn-Venus opposition, recognizing that, that’s giving me access to a sense of distance or difficulty or fearfulness around the Venusian need for intimacy. That helps me become more resonant to what the person is saying to me or where the challenge really is.
So it isn’t always getting caught up in the specifics of what’s happening in the relationship here and now, but rather what’s the underlying challenge or tension that the person always experiences when it comes to intimacy. You see what I mean?
SR: I think that’s the way that Jung was talking about it. The chart can help us cut through–not cut through, but maybe see through more quickly into those core, archetypal configurations, so to speak.
CB: Right. Just knowing from the astrologer’s perspective that there’s some sort of Venus-Saturn archetype, or there’s some archetype that’s operating in the person’s life that might be represented or can be accessed by understanding what a Venus-Saturn combination means–and then perhaps talking to them about some specific scenario that they’re struggling with in their love life, or some desire that they have, or some issue that they have specifically–and the astrologer being able to recontextualize that or look at it in the broader sense as being a manifestation of this broader theme that’s a recurring theme throughout their life, and being able to address it from that perspective rather than just focusing on the specific or particular manifestation of one particular instance of, I don’t know, getting dumped or something versus a recurring Venus-Saturn theme that’s manifesting in their life.
SR: That’s right. Yeah, for sure. And I think we can even take it another step further and say how can we then talk to the client about learning to more deeply value the gifts that come with that Venus-Saturn and not just try to find ways to get around it. That’s what I was meaning earlier about this sense of living into our chart, living into that which is drawing us forward in terms of individuation, which includes our difficulties and challenges and incapacities. So yeah, I think that’s right on.
CB: Sure. So it becomes much more process-oriented because there’s that underlying goal of individuation. And there’s more emphasis I think on psychological development rather than just attempting to make concrete predictions about what will happen in the person’s life; instead, trying to use the chart and the astrological placements–whether they’re natal placements or transits–as an access point for psychological growth and internal growth rather than just talking about material or external circumstances.
SR: That’s right. So I think that would be another one of those main principles that seem to be taken from Jungian psychology, which is this emphasis on psychological development. So astrology as a guide to the way in which we deepen or expand is expressed in a number of ways, far most being that the perspective that the birth chart is symbolic of an individual’s soul, their potential.
It also reveals how people experience life; their perceptive attitude towards certain fields of experience. And the chart also shows us the nature of our complexes and our calling, so that in working with the chart, with those perspectives, then there is all of these opportunities for suggestions on how to approach different areas of our life and valuing those different gifts and challenges that come with it.
SR: And I think–sorry, go ahead.
CB: No, go ahead.
SR: Well, are you familiar with the writing of Alice O. Howell?
CB: Yeah, a little bit. I’ve read one of her books a while back.
SR: Yeah, she was a Jungian analyst and also an astrologer. She actually passed away a couple of years ago. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet her in person, but I know a couple of people that did, and she just struck me as being one of those salty-wise women.
She has this amazing quote that I included in part of the introduction to the book, and I wanted to read it here because I just think it’s so appropriate. She writes that “The birth chart is, in potentia, a treasure map to the individuation process or greater awareness of the self, and I am using Self in Jung’s definition of the word as meaning the center and totality of the psyche. The chart will impel us unconsciously, as do our complexes, until we become more conscious.”
I just think that really encapsulates this idea that the chart is a way of working with our psyche. It’s a tool for development.
CB: Right, that it’s indicating areas in which you will have growth and sometimes challenges that might come up. But the purpose of even looking at those challenges–one of the major developments in modern astrologer–was reframing “challenging” planets or challenging placements as being opportunities for growth and transformation.
And that’s really striking seeing that as something that seems to originate with Jung, even though that’s become commonplace and it almost seems obvious to us in a modern, early 21st century context. When I see Jung talking about some of these concepts, I understand how that contrasts with how, as contemporaries, we’re talking about astrology–like Alan Leo, or even in Germany. I did a previous episode in December about Elsbeth Ebertin and some of her mundane predictions and things like that; that was not their orientation.
While there was certainly a trend–especially with some of the Theosophical astrologers–towards a more spiritual, New Age astrology and the idea of spiritual evolution or growth in some way, with Alan Leo especially, there was push towards astrology being used more for character analysis. There was a major, radical departure going on here in the way that Jung is talking about how astrology should be used in a psychological context.
Jung, himself, primarily seems to have influenced the astrological tradition through intermediaries because he got picked up very early on by figures like Dane Rudhyar who started talking about and incorporating some of Jung’s ideas as early as his 1936 book, The Astrology of Personality. And then later you have people like Liz Greene who became very popular and seriously integrated lots of things from Jung’s psychology, as well as other figures that you guys cite in the book at one point, like Alice O. Howell or Stephen Arroyo.
It’s through those intermediaries that Jung has this major impact eventually on the astrological tradition, especially in that generation that came in, in the 1960s and ‘70s. But it was surprising to me, seeing the excerpts in your book, how many of the foundational principles of modern astrology that he had already either stated or eluded to already in some of his writings pretty early on.
SR: I really, really value hearing your perspective because I think you have a much stronger perspective and arc on the history of astrology. So it’s great to hear the way that you’re really seeing the influence that Jung had and where it slots in and starts to ripple out. It’s great for me to hear you talk about this.
CB: Yeah. And just my process of reading this book over the past week has been interesting as a result of that. I was surprised, and I think some people will be surprised reading this because these are ideas that have become commonplace. But you have to realize that so many of them actually were somewhat unique, or ideas that become more well fleshed out, or have become standardized as an approach or a school of astrology, like archetypal astrology, and the approach to astrology that Richard Tarnas has set up, and how many of the foundational principles, where he seems to have been influenced by Jung.
I think that was the other thing that was interesting there as well; not in a negative way, in lifting things or not giving acknowledgement, since he clearly does and recognized Jung and the important role that he played, but I was just surprised. Sometimes when you come in as a later or a more recent generation, there are certain assumptions that are being made by your contemporaries, or certain things that everyone’s doing that you assume are commonplace.
But when you go back a few decades and you see less and less, or you see fewer and fewer people making the same assumptions or making the same statements, you realize sometimes how recent certain conceptualizations are. For example, that was something we talked about a few months ago with the nodes, and the idea that the North Node has to do with your future and the South Node has to do with your past lives or something.
While that’s taken oftentimes as commonplace now, it’s a relatively recent development over the past few decades. There’s certain concepts like that that I saw or recognized as relatively recent in the broader context of things, but where you could really see Jung as being the originator in some sense.
SR: Right, it’s really terrific because it’s so important. I guess this is more on our scholarly tip, but it’s so important to be cognizant of these waves and shifts of ideas because it informs the field; it informs the very assumptions that we make. And with enough time between trends or paradigms of understanding, we can look back and begin to see larger patterns at work in a field of study, which is so interesting.
SR: So yeah, I think this is an important part of the astrological field which circumscribes these aspects–not just astrology as practice, but the history of ideas and what informed them.
CB: Definitely. And that provides a good segway to the last section, which is just some of the theoretical assumptions behind astrology and the formative influence that Jung played on those because there are a few other concepts like that that it seems like we can trace to him. The big one, or one of the really important, almost “elephant in the room” is his work on synchronicity and the theoretical conceptualization underlying how and why astrology works.
This is such a big topic that it almost deserves an episode on its own, so we don’t have to go too far in attempting to articulate here; but you guys have at least a chapter. I think you identify seven different ways or formulations that he had during the course of his career about how he tried to conceptualize how astrology worked, and one of the major ones was his attempt to articulate the concept of synchronicity.
Could you talk a little bit about that, or what that was as a concept and how he conceptualized it?
SR: Yeah, but just to underscore what you said, this is a huge topic. It would be really great if you had another interview/conversation with some people on synchronicity, and I think Keiron would be terrific in this regard.
CB: Yeah, and I will. We had some technical difficulties, otherwise, we would have had him on today. He wrote the introduction to Part 4 of the book, where these seven different conceptualizations are articulated?
SR: That’s right. And this is just a little side note about the way the book was constructed; we actually divvied up the sections. Keiron worked on the first and the fourth: the first being the context of astrology and Jung’s ideas, and then the fourth being the theoretical ideas around astrology. So those were his fields and I took care of the two in the middle of the book.
It’s so huge a topic–just in terms of depth psychology–but in the most, hopefully, simply rendered sketch I can give synchronicity can best be defined as the connection between events, and that connection is not causal–meaning it’s not a mechanical, causal event, that because the Sun is in Leo, it’s then emanating leonine energy and affecting people with that kind of leonine attitude, and they’re going to go about and do leonine kinds of things for the day, or the month, or whatever that is; that’s a mechanistic, causal image. Synchronicity talks about the connections that happen between events that are acausal.
Psychologically, we most frequently talk about an inner experience and an outer event are experienced as connected, but solely through the meaning that we make between the inner and the outer, rather than any cause-and-effect link between the two.
CB: Right. And this is partially important because although there was an earlier astrological tradition that used or conceptualized astrology as working a purely symbolic sense, or through signs or omens or divination–like in the Mesopotamian tradition–from the 2nd century forward, due to the influence of Ptolemy, there was a strong trend in the astrological tradition that conceptualized astrology as working because the planets emitted some sort of physical mechanism or force which influenced life on Earth and people, and our characters and destinies and what have you.
Jung was one of the first figures who came along relatively early in the 20th century and developed or put forward this theory that the mechanism underlying astrology, that astrology could work not through some sort of physical mechanism, but instead, through some sort of acausal mechanism, which he referred to as synchronicity.
SR: Right. And so, a synonym for synchronicity is “meaningful coincidence.” Again, let’s take our birth chart as an example. The location of the planets at the time of our birth do not cause us to have the characteristics that we have, rather there is a meaningful coincidence between the planetary alignment and our psychological character or state.
SR: And I think another way that we could say that using, again, more Jungian language is that the planetary alignment and the personal experience are connected because there’s the constellation of an archetype, right?
SR: The planetary alignment gives us an image or a symbol by which to say, “Oh, is that what’s going on,” you see?
CB: Right, or in even more simple language to say that it’s a reflection of what’s happening rather than being the direct cause of what’s happening. The common analogy that’s used by most contemporary, modern astrologers is the way the clock on the wall says that it’s 5:00 PM right now. It’s reflecting the time, but it’s not necessarily the cause or the reason why it is that time.
In the same way, the planets can somehow reflect things that are happening in a person’s life, or can reflect psychological complexes, or their character or personality or what have you without necessarily being the cause or the reason that a person is the way that they are.
SR: That’s right.
SR: But I think the thing that’s really important from Jung’s perspective about synchronicity is something is in synchronicity when it’s meaningful to the person–do you know what I mean–when it strikes you that it has a sort of weight or a force; or it seems to clarify something in terms of what you need.
And so, that I think dovetails into the awakening or healing capacity of astrology. You, as a practicing astrologer too, the way someone can experience a huge amount of relief or a sense of being seen or being validated by the way that you can talk about the symbols of their chart, or the transit that they’re experiencing, they feel met in a very deep way. The potency of that sense has to do with the meaningfulness that comes between the event and the person. You see what I mean?
CB: Yeah. And that’s part of a broader issue of the distinction between the way that Jung was trying to explore an articulate this idea of synchronicity–of this broader phenomenon that he was seeing that was almost an explanatory principle for weird, fringe stuff that would happen occasionally in a person’s life or in consciousness–versus the way that the astrological community and astrologers later adopted or appropriated aspects of that as an explanatory mechanism for astrology; different astrologers, like Maggie Hyde, for example, who you cite at one point in the book. Her book on Jung and astrology really talks about the disconnect to some extent between the way that Jung talked about synchronicity versus the way that astrologers sometimes use that term to explain what they’re doing.
SR: Yeah, I think so.
CB: Yeah, so in terms of the distinction between synchronicity, it’s a huge and broad topic, so I think we’ll save that for the full exploration of that for a future discussion. But just the idea that he introduced the notion–or at least discussed it in a contemporary context–and was one of the first authors to discuss the idea that astrology might not work through causes or through causal forces, but instead, there might be another principle at play that explained the mechanism for how astrology could work, even if the planets are not literally influencing life on Earth.
SR: Yeah, great.
CB: All right. So the very last thing that I wanted to mention in terms of his contributions to the astrological tradition or influence on the astrological tradition was his use of mythology as an interpretive tool in order to understand the archetypes underlying astrology. This is another one of those areas where even though it has become commonplace in contemporary astrology to use the name associated with the planet or a celestial body, or to use the mythology or the story associated with that name in order to understand what it means in astrology, it’s actually a relatively recent phenomenon to some extent. It was not done as explicitly in the earlier astrological tradition, as you might expect, given how common it has become today.
And I can really see in some of these excerpts where you spend a lot of time talking about or having excerpts from some of his discussions about mythology where he would use that as an access point for understanding the planets, or sometimes using the planets as an access point for mythology. That started a very rich tradition which especially ramped up with figures like Liz Greene of looking to the mythology of the planets in order to understand their astrological meaning.
Sometimes even in an astrological consultation, astrologers like Demetra George, they would see a certain planet being prominent in a chart, and they would talk about the myth associated with that planet and use that as an interpretive device or a device for exposition in astrology. And it’s interesting seeing that, again, as an almost principle that Jung is pioneering in his work in a very basic form that would eventually become more prominent later in the century.
SR: Yeah. Again, it’s terrific to hear that reflection of yours in relationship to the longer arc of astrological practices and ideas, looking back to Jung and the way we understand mythology from this depth perspective by working with the stories.
And this is whether I am working with an astrological client, or if an analyst is working with a patient, but talking about Persephone being abducted or taken down into the underworld and being separated from everything she knows– that story and just that image of helping someone imagine into it and imagine into how they feel–there’s a resonance between the story and their own experience, at that point, of depression or loss of a relationship or of something important to them that is so much fuller of an experience than talking about the concept of depression or loss. You see what I mean?
Or even to talk about a transitive Saturn, I mean, a transitive Saturn for us astrologers, it’s like we’re full of rich, amazing images that go with that. But when we’re talking with a new client or someone that hasn’t really done this work before or isn’t in the tradition in some way, that doesn’t mean anything. We might as well be talking about infantile regression and compensatory processes. It’s all conceptual language that can very often draw us away from the life of the experience that we’re having.
I think mythology, as I had said earlier, it’s the archetypes personified. It’s the archetypes walking around in bodies and engaging in certain actions and having certain storylines always being what’s going on. And so, we’re actually seeing in motion these great orienting principles to life, and they’re much easier to connect to in story form.
So I think that it’s a valuing of the imagination and it’s a valuing of mytho-poetic language, which is another way to say that storytelling and reading good stories, or being drawn to stories helps us see ourselves or feel the resonance of our situation with the character in a way that can actually render some illumination/awareness/perspective on our situation.
SR: So I think that’s the psychological use of mythology that, as you said, found a very rich and vibrant thread in astrological practices.
CB: Right, and his interest in and familiarity with both the astrology as well as mythology and mythological studies, and the thing tying them together, this notion of the archetypes, and therefore, the notion that these ancient myths are not just stories that somebody made up a long time ago. But instead, they can hold deeper wisdom and insight and can be used in a very tangible way to evoke very primal feelings and notions, especially within the context of an astrological consultation because of the almost interchangeability between myth and archetype and astrological symbol.
SR: Yeah, that’s right. And this will open the door to a whole other conversation, but I think it’s really important too to just note that Jung’s working with mythology really came into play in his working with schizophrenic and psychotic patients. As he was listening to their stories about what was happening and what they were experiencing day by day, he started to notice interesting images or figures that they were talking about. And as he started to do research, he found that in these fantasies were ancient mythic figures that he knew for a fact that that person at the Burghölzli did not have any personal knowledge of; they didn’t study Peruvian mythology or whatever it was.
So it was actually in a very phenomenological way that Jung began to see that in the depths of psychic chaos and experience, psychic fantasy–and I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense, but just in the psychological life and stories that we live–mythological images and symbols and figures were arising from basically the collective unconscious and were walking around in people’s dreams and in people’s fantasies, in their psychoses.
I’m just saying this because I think it’s important that people understand that that connection was made by Jung because of what he was seeing happen in his patients, and that led him to then more deeply study mythology because he realized that there are underlying patterns that people experience in relationship to certain situations.
And so, the more we can come to recognize the pattern (i.e., recognize Saturn’s transit, just to make a connection there) then we can more readily get a sense of what’s going on for this person.
SR: What’s needed? What’s missing? What’s blocked? You see what I mean?
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. And that became then a whole interpretive approach, an approach to doing astrology in the late 20th and early 21st century in terms of using myth as a rich resource and as a tool to draw on, in terms of past myths and using them in that in a consultation in order to connect clients and help them to understand the archetypes that they’re manifesting in their life or that they were dealing with.
But also, even in a more research-oriented way, it became a new principle that was somewhat new, to some extent. Or at least I would argue that it was somewhat where astrologers were developing new understandings of celestial bodies that were initially or sometimes solely predicated on the myth associated with the name that was assigned to the celestial body rather than a different approach that should be more empirical–in terms of looking at the transit of this planet happened at this point in time and this event occurred–and then developing or inferring what the celestial body means based on that. But instead, astrologers often will first go to the myth, and they’ll say there’s this new celestial body that’s been called Sedna or Eris or what have you.
Oftentimes now, the first access point for attempting to understand the meaning of the celestial body is what is the myth associated with that name, under the premise that the name given to the planet was not random. But instead, through synchronicity or what have you, it was well-given or given in a way that does actually invoke or match what the symbolic meaning of the celestial body is.
SR: Right. I think this is such a great piece that you’re bringing in here. The two lights and the five planets up until Saturn obviously are on point. You have a couple of thousand years of quantitative and qualitative research to have us understand this. And so, there is this sense that, wow, it’s just amazing the synchronistic or the synchronicity that led to the naming of those planets to those particular divinities and all of that.
And your point is also very apt, I think, which is at the same time, we have to stay very open and aware of the phenomenological evidence or data that shows up when we’re looking at the influence or effect of certain planets or asteroids or whatever that is. I think a really beautiful example of this work is Rick Tarnas’ slender volume, Prometheus the Awakener. Are you familiar with this?
SR: So basically, he does what you were in a way suggesting, which is Uranus in many ways is not really a great name or a great god for the Uranian planetary effects; they don’t really square to one another.
CB: Right, that’s the thesis of his argument at least.
SR: Right. And so, he instead looks to Prometheus. Drawing very heavily on biographical data and sketches, he looks at the Uranian effect as really being more evocative of a Promethean archetypal pattern; and I think it’s wonderful and deep at the same time.
So there’s both; at least that’s how I heard you. There’s a sense of we have to hold both, at times, the fittedness, the rightness between the naming and the characteristics or qualities or energy, however you will, of that particular astrological factor. But we also have to really pay attention to its lived experience and does that make sense.
CB: Right. What’s one of the interesting legacies of Jung in pioneering the mythological approach is that it’s become a mainline, interpretive principle, but sometimes it proceeds or is taken to extreme instead of any sort of empirical observation. The pioneering of that approach over the course of the past century has had that as an interesting side effect.
But then you run into instances like Tarnas’ argument about Uranus, where as you just said, he basically argues that the myth of Uranus doesn’t actually match the astrological interpretation of this body, but instead the myth of Prometheus matches much better the interpretive value that astrologers have empirically found to be associated with that planet.
That raises the question, does that mean then that not all myths that are associated with certain celestial bodies will synchronistically be appropriate? And therefore, if that’s the case, that raises a whole philosophical and practical issue about what’s become a mainstream assumption that most contemporary astrologers make about your starting point for generating astrological significations based on mythology.
SR: Right. Not to throw another thing in the pot here, but I think it’s also often much more rich when talking with people about their experience, when I’m working with the client, that I’m not necessarily talking about the myth of Saturn in relationship to a Saturn transit that they’re experiencing, but rather some other mythic figure who is very evocative of the sense of discipline and a sense of really needing to stay with fundamentals and be sorting and seeding things because there are other figures and stories that give form to that particular archetype.
And so, I think it’s important to be more multiplicitous in even the way that we mythologically amplify the planets or the asteroids.
CB: Sure, that makes sense. Well, maybe we could do a follow-up discussion at some point about the use of mythology as an interpretive principle in astrology and we could expand upon that more.
SR: Yeah, I’d love that. I think another thing that fits into that is the inclusion of feminine figures; feminine figures in relationship to what we generally characterize as masculine gods. So yeah, that would be fun.
CB: Right, one of the points I think Demetra George made early on in her work with the asteroids was that the majority of the planets were named after men or ascribed to male deities, and there were only two female deities–which is the Moon and Venus–and it was only with the discovery of the asteroids over the past few decades that suddenly we’ve started to have female celestial bodies or drawing on the mythology of those.
SR: Right, but there are many different figures that we could talk about as being Jupiterian that are feminine. Just think about Demeter–this mother-nurturing goddess of the grain. All she wants is for things to grow.
I mean, if we just look at her values, we could say, well, there’s something very Jupiterian about that. And in relationship to someone’s chart or their particular situation that might be so more of a connecting figure for them to think about rather than talking about Zeus and whatever he’s getting up to. You know what I mean?
CB: Okay, yeah, that actually makes a lot sense. So not adopting too strict of an approach to only sticking with one mythology, but instead, the multivalent nature of different planetary archetypes can lend itself towards using different myths that are actually appropriate within the symbolism of a planet.
CB: Got it. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense actually. That would broaden and sort of resolve that issue for me that Tarnas’ argument about Prometheus brought up, which is what are the implications of that if something’s almost been misassigned a mythology, you might say.
SR: Right. And if we’re talking about archetypal patterns, how could we even consider limiting the whole constellation of what we would call Saturnian experience to one myth, one figure?
SR: I mean, that seems very reductive in some way. Isn’t it more rich to become more connected to the qualitative characteristics and to begin to identify those in many different valences, many different figures and styles of expression?
When I talk about archetypal astrology, to me, that’s an archetypal approach. If you’re following the archetype, you’re not getting caught in one figure that renders it.
CB: Right, that makes a lot of sense.
CB: All right, well, I think that starts to bring us to the end of this discussion. So are there any points about Jung to wrap it up? Jung, eventually he passed away in 1961, and his work has had a profound influence on a number of different fields, but especially astrology, I think, as we’ve gone through some of these different topics.
And I think people who get this book–and I would highly recommend that all astrologers do get this book–it’s going to become a core, assigned or required reading text for most astrologers in their library in order to understand the true foundations of modern astrology and many of these concepts that we’re talking about and using, or that we take for granted here–like the use of mythology, or the use of archetypes, or the references to synchronicity or what have you.
Was that your intention? What was your intention with the book? Was it more of just an odyssey that you went through, and where do you feel like you ended up at the end?
SR: Well, I just want to say thank you so much for what you just said. That feels so affirming of what was the hoped-for end product, which was a book that felt like a real addition to understanding the perspective and influence of Jung on astrology in general.
And we did it also for the other side, which was for psychologists, psychoanalysts, Jungians that were also looking for ways maybe to step more fully into embracing the astrological tradition. I just think there’s so much that can be done there as well, hoping that it spoke to both sides of the conversation.
CB: Sure. It’ll certainly be harder I think for anyone who’s interested in Jungian astrology, with this book out there, to overlook or ignore that component of Jung’s thought, now that it’s all collected in a nice, concise, but relatively comprehensive volume like this.
I mean, the other thing that’s really striking about it, just from an external observer’s standpoint, you are two academics who are talking about astrology in a mainstream publication from a major publisher, and you’re talking very openly about the subject, even despite that. Also, talking about it, you’re not downplaying it.
I was almost struck a few times by how you were still talking about it as if it was a legitimate phenomenon even though you were talking to an academic audience. And I realized part of that is because you can get away with that, because it’s in the context of talking about Jung who himself thought it was a legitimate phenomenon. But I almost would have thought that you would hold back a little bit more than you did from treating it so openly or being so open about your own astrological views, both you and your co-author.
Another interesting thing from an academic standpoint is seeing some of the results of Tarnas’ school and some of that work that’s happened and some of the results of that. Astrologers have wondered for a while now what would be the results if some astrologer’s trying to push into academia and would any headway be made, and this book is easily one of the most notable developments in terms of that in quite some time.
SR: Thank you. Yeah, thank you very much for saying that. And I think you’re right to locate Tarnas in this development. I think you’re right that there’s a lot to be said about the impact of Cosmos and Psyche. And I’m sure there are other factors too, but you’re painting a very persuasive picture.
CB: Sure. Well, I mean, the thing about Cosmos and Psyche when it came out is we didn’t know is this going to be the watershed moment where everyone starts taking astrology seriously; in some ways, it was slightly disappointing because it wasn’t.
One of the things that’s really interesting in talking to you and seeing your work and seeing this book is his work did influence some people in a very significant way, and did influence subsequent generations in a way that might not have been immediately clear or immediately perceptible. But now, we are starting to see the results of that and it’s a big deal.
SR: Yeah, it is. And I just want to say too, your contribution just with doing the podcast–as I’ve said a couple of times–your sense of the history and development of the study of astrology and the practice of astrology, and your interest in really drawing attention to that, contextualizing things, it’s a really important part of establishing this field at these various levels.
Whether it’s academic or it’s more praxis-oriented, or more spiritually meaning oriented, I feel like pieces are really coming together to shift the field in a new way. I don’t know. I think something’s afoot I guess in the most vague, intuitive way that I can say that. We’re coming into a new valence of talking about what we’re doing, and to me, that’s really exciting.
CB: Yeah, definitely. I feel the same way. All right, well, I think this is bringing us to the end of this discussion. It’s been a long, winding road, but I’m really excited. I’m really glad that we got a chance to do this today, so thanks for joining me.
SR: Thank you so much for having me on your podcast, Chris. It has been a wonderful experience.
CB: Awesome. So let’s talk a little bit on where people can find out more information about your work and some of the things that you’re working on right now, or some of the things that you have coming up. You have a website, right?
SR: Yeah, I have a website; it’s the ArchetypalEye.com. And I have a blog where I’m doing some occasional writing. I also do astrological consultations. So people can find more information about those things by visiting my website.
I also have a new article in this newest edition of The Mountain Astrologer, so people can check that out. It’s not about Jung. It’s about Neptune and the myth of Ariadne. So harkening back to the last topic we touched on, looking at Neptune’s influences from a feminine figure.
And lastly, I’m going to be at NORWAC, the Pacific Northwest Astrology Conference in March, and then also, at the UAC, United Astrology Conference in May, in Chicago, where I hopefully will get to meet you in person.
CB: That’s great, so you’re going to be speaking at that conference. So yeah, we’ll actually meet for the first time there in Chicago, in May. And what’s your talk on that you’re giving there?
SR: I’m going to be talking about James Hillman, the archetypal psychologist, looking at his major work, Re-Visioning Psychology–which was written in 1975, and nominated for the Pulitzer–and how some of his ideas in Re-Visioning Psychology can really open up our way of looking at astrology itself; so the way we practice from a more psychological perspective, but drawing on Hillma’s work in particular.
CB: Brilliant. That should be great. I’m looking forward to that. I know a lot of people who’ve been on the podcast over the years are going to be there at that conference, and I’m really excited about it.
SR: Yeah, great.
CB: And then I think your co-author is doing a workshop here in March as well that I wanted to make sure we plug. He’s giving a workshop on the archetypal nature of Neptune, I believe, right?
SR: Yeah. So Keiron’s been doing a number of workshops on the transpersonal planets through the Institute of Transpersonal and Archetypal Studies. And they have a website–it’s ITAS-psychology.com–or people can Google ‘Institute of Transpersonal and Archetypal Studies’.
In March, the 3rd and 4th, in Manhattan, he’s going to be doing a workshop on Neptune. So some East Coasters might be keen to do that, which would be terrific of course.
CB: Brilliant. Yeah, I would definitely recommend checking that out, especially if any of the approaches or concepts that we have talked about during the course of this episode have been interesting to anyone or have been new concepts or things that you want to follow up on.
I think the work that both you guys are doing really exemplifies a lot of the best threads of that, so I’d recommend people check out those events and check out those websites for more information.
SR: Great, thank you.
CB: All right. And your book is titled, Jung on Astrology. When was it published? Is there a date?
SR: It was published in October of this past year. It’s only a few months old, so still fresh.
CB: Brilliant, okay. And people can find that on Amazon or in fine bookstores everywhere; I definitely recommend people check it out. Hopefully, we can do a follow-up discussion at some point on mythology and astrology, and I’ll try to talk with your co-author at some point about maybe doing an episode on synchronicity or something like that.
SR: Terrific. I really look forward to more conversations with you, Chris. This has been a great pleasure.
CB: All right, excellent. Well, thanks for joining me.
CB: I think we’ll close up for the day. So thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.