The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 148, titled:
Jung on Synchronicity and the Mechanism for Astrology
With Chris Brennan and guest Keiron Le Grice
Episode originally released on March 16, 2018
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released December 19, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode is recorded on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, starting at 1:12 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 148th 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 Keiron Le Grice about the concept of synchronicity as formulated by Carl Jung and its use in modern times as an explanatory principle for astrology. Hi, Keiron, welcome to the show.
KEIRON LE GRICE: Hello, Chris. Thank you for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
CB: Yeah, I’m excited to have this conversation with you because you are one of the co-authors of the recent book, Jung on Astrology, which was the subject of an episode with your co-author in January. And I had a great discussion with Safron Rossi about that book, but I wanted to have you on in order to talk about one of your major contributions to that book, which was a major piece, where you wrote an introduction to the section dealing with Jung’s views on astrology.
You did a really good job of breaking down his views on that topic. And so, I thought that would be a good subject for our discussion today.
KLG: Yeah, great. I mean, the way Safron and I approached the project, we edited the book, co-edit it. So it’s mainly Jung as you would have heard from Safron; it’s mainly Jung’s own writing. And then we did introductions to the four main sections of the book.
And part four, as you said, covers Jung’s various explanations of astrology, his attempts to understand how astrology works; so I wrote the introduction to that. In the course of putting together the material, it occurred to me that there are at least seven somewhat distinct ways that Jung actually attempts to theoretically understand how astrology might work. So that’s what’s included there in that part of the book; these seven different but overlapping explanations.
CB: Sure. And I just thought that was a brilliant breakdown and analysis of his views and how his views sometimes changed or sometimes overlapped, or sometimes even contradicted views that he had at different points in his life.
Yeah, so I want to go over that today, but first, maybe we should start at the beginning. I just wanted to introduce you to my audience, so could you tell me a little bit about your background and your training in terms of both academically and in terms of astrology?
KLG: Yeah, yeah. Well actually they overlap quite considerably. I first got into astrology when I was 16, the summer before I turned 17, and around the same time, I started reading Carl Jung. So this was 1989. My undergrad degree then was in philosophy and psychology; that was at the University of Leeds in England. But I think like many people who study academic psychology, one finds that there’s not really a lot of space in the curriculum for depth psychology…
KLG: …Freud or Jung. So that was kind of disappointing to me, but I was pursuing my studies of Jung privately outside of my undergrad studies. And so, yeah, that was a real spiritual awakening for me, I guess at the time. When I got into astrology, I was meditating and reading Alan Watts and Paramahansa Yogananda and all those kinds of thinkers. So my own introduction to astrology came alongside the beginnings of my spiritual path, I suppose. Jung has been a very influential part of that.
Yeah, so that was my beginning. And then when I got toward my late 20’s, turned 30, I really wanted to do graduate studies in something to do with Jung or transpersonal psychology, and I eventually ended up going to San Francisco to study under Richard Tarnas and a number of other prominent scholars at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
So before that, if I just go back a little bit, in my late 20’s, I took it upon myself to try to formulate my own worldview. Because I had been using astrology through my 20’s, and yet I knew that in terms of the dominant understandings of the nature of reality that it was just impossible to try to account for astrology, yet I knew it was true. I knew that it had validity. I had done readings. I used it to illuminate my own life over the years. So I felt this kind of dissonance, and I wanted to try to articulate a worldview in which astrology would make more sense.
This was as much for me as for anything else. So I began taking notes, copious notes actually. I was listening to Joseph Campbell Power of Myth videos, reading Jung again, and I really got into the new paradigm sciences around that time too. So what began as a personal project to articulate a worldview then evolved into a book.
So I had this idea that I was going to write a book. Originally, it was going to be called The Astrological Matrix, and it eventually became years later The Archetypal Cosmos.
So I was kind of steeped in the theoretical understanding of astrology and grappling with these issues at that time and then I came across Richard Tarnas’ work. The Passion of the Western Mind is Tarnas’ historical narrative of the evolution of the dominant ideas in the Western worldview from the ancient Greeks through to the postmodern, and I was really struck by that.
I knew Tarnas was also an astrologer, and obviously, it’s pretty rare to find such an erudite academic who’s also interested in astrology and practices astrology. So I happened across Tarnas’ Prometheus the Awakener around about the same time. So I had these two books by Tarnas, and I just felt that I wanted to study with him and that would be the logical move for me.
So 2004, I moved to San Francisco, and I did a master’s degree in a program called Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness.
CB: And that was at CIIS?
KLG: Yeah, that’s right. That was at CIIS, California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where Rick Tarnas is a professor in that program.
CB: That’s really interesting timing. Because that’s right about the time that his major work on astrology came out, Cosmos and Psyche, around 2005, right?
KLG: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, it was a pretty exciting time to be there for that reason because Rick was giving classes on archetypal astrology. The class that really had the biggest influence on me was called Archetypes, Arts, and Culture. And so, around that time, he was presenting this material in classes and finishing the final work on Cosmos and Psyche. So yeah, it was very exciting to see that appear in 2006.
And then I went back again to San Francisco because I’d been living in the UK on-and-off between periods in America. So I went back to San Francisco in 2007 to do a PhD in the same program, in the same field, and that’s where I kind of developed the thesis I’d begun in my early writing on The Archetypal Cosmos, and it became my doctoral dissertation and later became a book. So yeah, I was lucky enough to be enriched by all the studies I did with Rick Tarnas and other scholars at CIIS and that kind of informed and illuminated what I’d been working on before that.
CB: Okay, brilliant. And The Archetypal Cosmos was published in 2011, right?
KLG: Yeah, I think it was. So I got my PhD in 2009, and I had done a little bit of teaching then in 2010 at CIIS. So yeah, I think it came out in 2011.
CB: And then you were also part of the group that founded the Archai journal around like 2009, right?
KLG: Yes, that’s right. Yeah, so there was a lot happening at the time. Yeah, there was another guy there called Rod O’Neal who also had his PhD in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program. He graduated just before me, and he had written too on archetypal astrology. He’d done this big historical analysis of New England Puritanism in terms of outer planet transits.
So yeah, we collaborated with another guy called Bill Streett who also studied in the program, and we launched the journal. I think the first issue came out in 2009—I think you’re right—and then we produced more or less one issue a year for the next three years. So four issues in total under my editorship.
So yeah, there was a lot happening in the field at the time, it was seen as very new. And I think Cosmos and Psyche had this catalytic effect and the Archai journal was a natural follow-on in many ways from Rick’s publication.
CB: Yeah, there was a real sense at the time that you guys were attempting to push and to create a new sort of discipline in terms of that specific formulation of astrology and cosmology and mythology and everything else in a sort of academically—not suitable—but academically-friendly format in some sense.
KLG: Yeah, yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, it’s always somewhat challenging if you’re trying to launch an academic journal on astrology given the views that prevail in many parts of academia towards astrology. But we felt we wanted to aspire for rigor and a kind of empiricism that I think astrology could benefit from: establishing evidence for specific world transit correlations, for instance, as Rick had done in Cosmos and Psyche.
So there was that dimension to the journal and also a focus on theory and further articulating how it might be that planets could be related to archetypes in the depths of the human psyche, which that’s an assumption that informs archetypal astrology. And archetypal cosmology is the name we gave to the bigger field that includes the theory as well as the practice of astrology.
Because I think that assumption for many people is a huge stumbling block when it comes to engaging with astrology. People say, “How on Earth can a distant planet have any relationship to the depths of my inner world?” And in the normal way of thinking, it does seem incomprehensible. So maybe we’ll get to this when we discuss Jung’s explanations, but that was part of my own project to try to make that relationship, which is demonstrable. You can look at world transits and you can see the correlation, but I wanted to try to understand it theoretically.
CB: Right. Well, I think that provides a good segue then into our main topic today. For the most part, astrologers oftentimes are just practitioners who are working with the sort of outcome or the end result of some sort of phenomenon that the mechanism behind it is not clearly defined or often very well understood.
But occasionally you will have different major thinkers in the field of astrology attempt to wrestle with the question of how does astrology work or why does this work. Because most normal educated people when they come across something like astrology, as you said, will just immediately dismiss it out of hand and say that can’t work or that’s not possible, and therefore, it’s not even worth exploring as a field to see if it is working or if there’s anything to it.
But one of the major thinkers in the 20th century who did attempt to craft or did wrestle with this is one of the major astrologers of the 20th century actually. What I ended up arguing in my show with Safron was that Jung—depending on your definition of ‘astrologer’, if you define Jung as an astrologer, which I argued that you perhaps could—then he would have been one of the most influential astrologers of the 20th century, if not the most influential.
Because he actually did attempt to and to some extent was successful in creating a somewhat new theory for how astrology works, and that ended up becoming eventually the dominant theory or led to the basis for the dominant theory for how astrology works by the late 20th century, and that was the development of his concept of synchronicity.
So why don’t we start then at the beginning of that just by defining it. So what is synchronicity? How would you define it?
KLG: Well, that in itself is a difficult task. Jung presents at least five different definitions of synchronicity. I won’t go through them all, but maybe I’ll give a working definition that your listeners could use for now as we kind of develop the concept in a more complex way. So synchronicity is, according to Jung, ‘a meaningful coincidence’. A meaningful coincidence (i.e., it’s something more than a regular coincidence).
I remember this one example, Marie-Louise von Franz, a prominent Jungian who worked with Jung and helped him with his writing. She gave an example that if you were in an airport and you blew your nose, at the moment you blew your nose, a plane crashed. Now that would be a coincidence and it would be a bizarre one, but it wouldn’t be a synchronicity, that it’s not meaningful or doesn’t seem to be meaningful.
So this is key to understanding synchronicity. It’s a coincidence of usually an external event, something that happens in one’s environment, and an inner meaning. Subjective meaning, ultimately in Jung’s view, often tends to arise from archetypes. So the oft-quoted example of synchronicity is from Jung’s own life, and I’m sure many of your listeners will have heard it, but it’s worth repeating just because it’s become paradigmatic and a way to begin to think concretely about what synchronicity is; but it can all be very abstract of course.
CB: Yeah, and especially for many of my listeners who are people just getting into the field of astrology and may not have heard about it. So with some of those things, we don’t even have to take it for granted that they know about it, as they very well may not.
KLG: Of course, yeah. And I think even people that do know synchronicity and do know of it, it’s very complex to think through. So the example that’s become paradigmatic, Jung was treating a female patient, and he reports that she was trapped in a kind of Cartesian, rationalistic worldview (i.e., she wasn’t really open to the idea that there was a greater meaning in life; there’s some kind of spiritual meaning in the world).
And the day before—the night before her next session with Jung, she had a dream of being given a piece of jewelry in the shape of a golden scarab beetle. So the next day she went to see Jung and was recounting the dream in Jung’s office, and just as she was telling Jung about the scarab, there was a tapping sound on the window behind Jung. Jung turned, opened the window, and grabbed in his hand the nearest equivalent to a scarab beetle in Switzerland.
So he took the insect in his hand and turned to the woman and said, “Here is your beetle.” And she was so stunned by that improbable coincidence that it punctured her certainty of her rational worldview. And Jung reports then that therapy could proceed as she became more epistemologically open to the possibility that there’s meaning beyond what we know of consciously; meaning beyond the human sphere.
CB: Right. And there was some broader thing where they had been like working together for a long time, but weren’t making progress. I thought he described her almost as like a difficult patient or something. And he didn’t feel like their therapy was really helping necessarily until there was this weird, sort of miraculous type of event, where she’s telling this story about having a dream about a beetle, and then there’s this wrapping at the window, and then he picks it up and hands it to her. And she has this really important moment where something very weird has just happened, and then as a result of that they then did start making progress in their therapy sessions from that point forward.
KLG: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, Jung connected the scarab beetle through Egyptian mythology to the symbol of rebirth, and this is what seems to have happened. It seems to have been a rebirth in some sense from the woman’s very entrenched and perhaps impenetrable rationalistic worldview to the possibility of there being deeper meaning in life, and on that hinged progress in her therapeutic relationship with Jung. Yeah, so the rebirth archetype, as Jung would say, kind of stood behind the synchronicity; manifesting its meaning through the synchronicity. And that’s something we can perhaps discuss too.
CB: Sure. And that’s what you mean in terms of that there was a meaningful coincidence of a subjective sort of mental state on her part where she was describing this dream and was trying to explain to him the significance it had to her, and then there was an objective external event that was acausally-related.
Her recounting the dream to him didn’t cause the beetle to come to the window—like she called it to him or something like that—but that it just coincided in time. That inner event and that outer event happened to coincide at that precise moment in time, and they both recognized the meaning of that parallel occurrence in time. And that’s what gave it its characteristic quality, coinciding at the same moment in time and having the same meaning between the subjective event and the objective happening.
KLG: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there are a few different things there that you’ve captured in summary. I mean, one is this idea that there’s an inner meaning, something that is private to you or I, or in this case, to Jung’s patient. How could the world know that she’d had a dream, or the universe know or whatever it is? How could there be any objective recognition that she’d had a dream of a beetle? To the normal way of thinking that seemed impossible because we naturally think our inner world and our sense of personal subjective meaning is personal and private to us.
So it seems inexplicable. It’s almost as if the world knew what she was thinking or brought forth a symbol through the manifestation of the beetle at the window in order to emancipate her from an entrapment in this Cartesian worldview.
CB: Right. I have actually a really brilliant statement to that effect in your discussion of synchronicity in I think chapter four. It’s chapter four or chapter five of The Archetypal Cosmos; it’s on page 126. But you say: “This is why instances of synchronicity are so perplexing, for it is as if the cosmos knows what we are thinking and feeling; that the cosmos itself is aware of our personal situation and seeks through symbolic line of communication to convey a message to us about our life.”
KLG: Yeah. I mean, I tried to convey that sense—and there are a few things with synchronicity. I mean, there’s the idea that these things are just so improbable that it just seems like beyond the possibilities of chance. I mean, it could be chance that a beetle happened to crawl up the wall outside Jung’s office and tap on the window at the very moment that the patient was describing a dream of a beetle. I mean, it could happen, but it seems so unlikely.
I mean, presumably, that had never happened before in Jung’s therapeutic life and work as an analyst; now that’s what one would assume. So it’s startlingly improbable and that adds to the quality of that experience, which is often numinous. ‘Numinous’ is a term that Jung borrowed from Rudolf Otto, and it really means something like ‘spiritual power’.
If you have a sense of being in the presence of God, or in the presence of Great Mystery, and you have a tingling sensation, and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, that’s a numinous experience. And often synchronicities are of that quality; they are numinous. They come over us like revelations almost, partly because of the improbability, but partly because it seems to suggest that we live in a field of meaning that we’re not normally aware of.
As I said in that quote that you read, it’s as if the Universe knows on some level what we’re thinking or feeling, and the symbolic synchronicity manifests in response to our need. Jung would argue that synchronicities are often compensatory. By that, he means that we all have what he calls ‘one-sided’ viewpoints (i.e., we tend to be somewhat limited in what we understand about ourselves and our life at any particular moment).
So the unconscious, the unconscious psyche in Jung’s view tries to compensate for that limited viewpoint by bringing forth dreams primarily to round out the individual’s view, but also, synchronicity. So if there’s sufficient energetic charge in the psyche, then it seems to be possible for a synchronicity to break through, so that the compensation, the introduction to a more holistic sense of what the true meaning of our life is manifests, not then inwardly through a dream, but externally through an external event.
So that’s another aspect here, this relationship between inner and outer, between mind and matter; and it’s a legacy of Cartesian philosophy, although the inner/outer distinction predates Descartes. But the Cartesian idea is that there are two kinds of substances: there’s mind, which we have access to through our inner worlds, and then there’s matter, which is extended substance in Descartes’ view and can be measured, and so forth.
And these two worlds in the Cartesian view interact through the brain. But synchronicity seems to suggest that mind is not only within the human brain, it’s not just an encapsulated realm within the head, but it’s actually in some sense inherent to perhaps the entire world, the entire universe; that there’s some inner dimension to what we would ordinarily imagine as being just matter, just the material world with no interiority, no mind.
We think of mind as something that’s purely human, that is in the human head, and therefore, the world itself doesn’t seem to possess an interior dimension; it doesn’t convey meaning to us. Human beings, we tend to assume, bring meaning to the world. We are the locus of meaning, the source of meaning, so it’s very jolting to think that the world itself can convey meaning to us.
CB: Right. And I don’t want to do this too much, but I just want to do it one more time because it was so good. I was just re-reading the chapters last night from The Archetypal Cosmos, and the way that you stated this was just so perfectly succinct. I just want to read a paragraph again really quickly, if you don’t mind; this is from page 127.
And I’d recommend everybody get this book because you just do a really good job, as you did on Jung on Astrology in summarizing and presenting some of these concepts in a way that makes sense and is compelling. So you said: “Through synchronicity, it is as if the Universe itself were seeking to make the individual conscious of the deeper meaning of their life situation.” And then you go on to say later that: “The existence of synchronicity radically challenges the modern Western philosophical assumption that meaning is present only within individual human minds, suggesting rather that meaning is in some sense present throughout Nature; that meaning is inherent in the cosmos as well as the psyche; a supposition that is central to the astrological paradigm.”
And then just one more. You say: “That meaning exists outside man implies that this meaning is not just present in and perceived by the individual human mind, but is in a sense transcendent or transpersonal; overcoming the apparent division between subject and object, mind and matter.” So really the core theme there, which is really mind-blowing, it’s like sometimes it’s almost easy to understate the point.
But the point is the idea that meaning might not be something that is just subjective to human experience as individuals, which is how we’re used to thinking about it, or maybe in terms of the modern scientific worldview how people are used to conceptualizing meaning as just something that’s subjective and each individual has it on their own. But in this context, what you’re saying is that meaning may actually be something that’s more broad and more universal; that meaning might exist in the cosmos independent of just our individual subjective experience.
KLG: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you’ve summarized it very well. As you were reading those quotes, I was thinking of a quote from Jung himself. He said, and I think I have this right: “Synchronicity postulates a meaning which is a priori to human consciousness and apparently exists outside of man.” That’s more or less that. Synchronicity postulates a meaning which is a priori to human consciousness and apparently exists outside of man.
So the idea that meaning is a priori means ‘pre-given’. There is a pre-given meaning. We are born into and live within a field of pre-given meaning that is inherent to the world itself. We’re not aware of that normally except when we have moments of synchronistic experience, which can be a wide range of things.
Often people will be struggling with some problem in their lives, and they’ll go along to the bookstore perhaps and just randomly pull out a book and open it on a certain page, and lo and behold, that page discusses the very problem they’ve been so preoccupied with. And you think, “Wow, how could that happen?” You turn on the television and there’s a talk show that’s addressing the thing that you’ve been so concerned with maybe for the last few days and that helps you resolve the matter. It’s as if in synchronicity that there is ‘one psyche’ in a sense. We are all in this psyche, and we all participate in a shared field of meaning.
And if you think of it that way rather than as separate individual, each with their own private minds separate from the world and separate from animals, that if you think instead of ‘one psyche’ in which we live—as Jung said, like ‘fish in the sea’—we’re like fish swimming in this warm, cosmic psyche. If you think of it in those terms, then it becomes less incomprehensible to understand how, for instance, the beetle could arrive at the window at the very moment that the patient is talking about a beetle because then it’s just ‘one psyche’. The beetle’s existence is not unrelated to Jung’s patient’s existence. They are participating in one field, as it were; like one atmosphere.
Jung said the collective unconscious, the collective dimension of the psyche is like an atmosphere. So it’s like the sea; it’s like an atmosphere. We’re all in it, but we tend to assume that the mind, the psyche is in us and it’s encapsulated in us. So this view kind of reverses the commonsense way or the dominant scientific way of understanding the nature of the human mind and how that’s related to the world and to other minds and to existence as a whole. I think that’s why synchronicity is so important.
CB: Right. And one of the directions that Jung starts hitting with it is this idea that the cosmos itself, instead of being this sort of like inert, dead thing that we happen to find ourselves in, this notion that the cosmos itself is almost alive, or has consciousness, or has what they call the Anima Mundi or the ‘World Soul’; that there’s something alive and conscious that we’re living inside.
And that’s actually a direction that you actually take in your book as well in terms of starting to view the cosmos almost as a living organism of some sort. And you argue in your book that that’s a much better way to understand and sort of view what’s happening, and that once you start viewing things from that perspective, you start understanding how something like astrology could make sense.
KLG: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think Jung hints in this direction. He stops short, I would say, of fully articulating that kind of position. But he often speaks, for instance, of reality as being what he calls a Unus Mundus, which means ‘a single, undivided, unitary reality’. We come to think of reality in terms of opposites, that I’m here and you’re there. We have an inner world and that’s separate from the outer world.
The term Unus Mundus features a lot in alchemy. Jung made detailed studies of alchemy, but he uses this term to refer to the fact that existence is this unitary whole. And that even though we seem to be autonomous beings with our own private minds and our own will, really we’re situated in this unity and we’re not usually aware of it. Perhaps something like synchronicity and something like astrology reveals to us that lost sense of unity and can help us connect to this a priori field of meaning in which we live and breathe; that’s the idea.
CB: Right. I think Tarnas has a diagram early on in Cosmos and Psyche where he shows the usual way that we’re used to thinking of it. There’s like a circle that represents the self, and then there’s a circle that’s separate from that that represents the external reality, and they’re completely separate circles.
But then in this other conceptualization, the two circles are put together, almost like an overlapping Venn diagram of self and external environment; instead showing that they’re is overlap or an intertwining or less of a separation between the psyche of the individual and the cosmos than we’re usually used to thinking about or assuming, and that’s part of what synchronicity occasionally gives this sort of unexpected insight into.
And what gives it its uncanny, sort of numinous, almost supernatural power is that it’s not a typical experience, but instead, it’s these unexpected, one-off experiences that suddenly make you realize that there’s much more overlap than you would normally assume and then what the implications of that are.
KLG: Yeah, yeah. Again, well-expressed. The idea for Jung is that—now I won’t get into too much detail on this view—as we’ve developed psychologically over the centuries collectively, the conscious ego—like what we normally think of as our ‘self’, the personal identity, the ‘I’ principle—has become ever more powerful, more developed, more differentiated. And so, we come to this sense of identity where we experience ourselves as separate, autonomous, self-willing individuals; autonomous agents. But behind this psychological experience, Jung argues that there’s this earlier sense of living in a participation mystique, the term that he uses.
So at the level of the unconscious, there’s this kind of underlying unity that we are not normally aware of. So this term participation mystique means inhabiting a world in which the individual and the environment or nature are not sharply differentiated. It’s not me here or my ego boundaries and the world over here, rather there’s no clear differentiation between what is ‘me’ psychologically and what is the environment.
And this is for Jung a characteristic of a premodern, archaic mode of being in the world. So if you think of an archaic tribe, for example, or someone living in the jungle or forest having a sense of being one with nature, not that this is necessarily a good thing, but the idea that the woods are populated by spirits, or there’s a spirit who lives in the mountain. There’s no capacity or little capacity at that stage to differentiate between what is psychological (i.e, what is my fear or wish or my desire) and what is actually external. And then the whole evolution, the development of the modern West especially has furthered the separation, the differentiation of consciousness, the ego consciousness from that world of participation mystique.
And so, we’ve grown into a mode of psychological existence that emphasizes the autonomy and separation of ego, but synchronicity seems to kind of put us back in touch with that undifferentiated unity of the state of participation mystique. And so, it can happen, we can get a synchronicity, as Jung would say, when there’s a lowering of the threshold of consciousness, when consciousness is not clear.
When we fall into darkness about what our life’s meaning is, when we become lost, when our need is great, the moment of great peril, when we really need something to help us—that’s when a synchronicity can break through. And it comes out of this underlying but lost sense of participation mystique and it occurs, as Jung imagines it, when energies withdrawn from consciousness fall into the unconscious; at charges up the unconscious. And that energetic charge—and I think Jung is speaking somewhat metaphorically here—but the energetic charge in the psyche enables a synchronicity to break through. It’s the power that enables the world to respond, as it were, to the needs of one’s situation. Does that make sense?
CB: Yeah. And one of the areas where Jung then took that as a psychologist was using synchronicity as a guide to what he called ‘individuation’ or ‘finding the self’. And that’s one area, because of my lack of background in Jungian psychology, that I’m not fully clear on. Could you explain what that process of individuation is and what role synchronicity played in that?
KLG: Yeah, well, I will try.
KLG: Again, it’s obviously a huge topic and a complicated one. But basically, the idea is that, well, when we say ‘self’ in normal speech—myself, yourself—we’re referring in Jungian terms to the ego; that’s personal identity. But Jung introduced this other term ‘Self’ rather confusingly I guess, but it’s often written now by Jungian authors with a capital ‘S’; so the big Self, the deeper Self, that kind of idea.
And individuation then is the process by which the ego—the separate ego, normal personal identity, personal self—comes into relationship with this greater Self. You can think of the Self more concretely as something like ‘the God within’. Jung describes the Self as ‘the incarnate God image’. He says elsewhere that the experience of the Self is virtually indistinguishable from an experience of God. He won’t say that it is God because he is kind of cautious making those kinds of statements.
But basically, the idea is that the Self is like the universal, great human being within us. It’s like God within. So individuation is the process by which the ego, the normal human identity, brings itself into closer alignment with God’s will, or as Jung put it, ‘God’s secret intention for us’. And so, synchronicities can be read as hints, clues, signs that we can use to bring our ego consciousness into alignment with the way of things, like the Tao. That’s another way that Jung defines the Self, the Tao; this idea that there’s preexisting meaning in the nature of things. And if you can align yourself with the Tao, you align yourself with the flow of meaning, the flow of life energy.
So the Self for Jung is the center of the whole psyche, it’s not just the center of consciousness. It includes the unconscious; this vast realm of the psyche which we’re not usually aware of. And it’s in the unconscious that our deeper life meaning resides. So individuation is that process by which we are trying to come into a relationship with this deep life meaning to discover what it is that the Self, or God, or Life, or the Tao would have us do.
And synchronicities can be, as I said, clues that enable us to maybe change our life direction or to recognize the meaning of our life situation, so that we’re not totally trapped and preoccupied with our personal problems, but can kind of step out of that a little bit and see things more clearly with an archetypal view, an archetypal ‘eye’ perhaps. So that’s how I see the role of synchronicity.
I guess centuries ago, people might have said synchronicities were like omens, or they were portents, or maybe they were manifestations of one’s fate. And it can feel like that sometimes when you have a synchronicity, that your fate is being disclosed to you. This is what you must do with your life; like an epiphany of what your next act should be. And then there’s also a sense, slightly different, but there’s this emergent meaning; something that’s trying to come through you and manifest itself through you in your life. So the idea of the Self as an emergent sense of wholeness and a connection to the unity of life, as I said earlier.
So all these things inform individuation. I mean, it’s probably the central concept of Jung’s psychology. So obviously, more could be said on this, but in terms of synchronicities, that’s how I at least tend to understand their place, that they are these clues. We mention ‘signs’ often in common parlance: “I need a sign. What am I supposed to do with my life? Give me a sign.” There’s something of that in synchronicity.
Often the sign won’t take us where we want to go. There’s often a collision between what the ego would like to do—our conscious wishes, our conscious intentions—and what the Self would have us do. And so, a lot of the struggle of individuation is how do you bring your own personal will into alignment with the dictates, the impulses of the Self.
CB: Sure. Okay, that makes sense. And one of the big things about synchronicity that’s important here is that it’s based on the coinciding—usually at the same moment in time—of two things that share the same meaning or are connected through having similar meanings, or like an equivalence of meaning, but otherwise are not causally-connected. They’re not influencing each other, at least directly through some sort of direct ‘billiard ball-type’ interaction. The woman retelling the dream about the scarab beetle didn’t cause the beetle to come to the window because the beetle heard it or something like that. It just happened to show up at the same moment in time and to share the same meaning.
KLG: Yeah, yeah.
CB: And so, this is where astrology then becomes—or this is where synchronicity becomes relevant to astrology. Because since at least the 2nd century, astrology had been conceptualized or the dominant view in terms of trying to explain how astrology works was the works of the 2nd century astrologer Claudius Ptolemy. He tried to put astrology on a more secure, scientific footing in his time by reconceptualizing astrology as working through the planets influencing life on Earth through some sort of causal mechanism, through some sort of celestial influence.
And this became basically from the 2nd century forward into modern times part of the dominant theory about how astrology worked, or how astrologers were able to do what they do with astrology. Somehow the planets were thought to influence life on Earth, or individuals, or events, or what have you—whatever astrologers are casting astrological charts for.
But one of the things that Jung did when he developed this theory of synchronicity is he was developing it and applying it to a few different areas, into a few different things like just trying to describe what happening, for example, in that incident with the client with the scarab beetle, but he also started taking the theory and applying it to other fields. And one of the fields that he applied it to was astrology, as a potential explanatory principle or mechanism for astrology, right?
KLG: Yeah. I mean, I think he was motivated by the desire to have empirical evidence. He was very aware of the zeitgeist at the time, that science was dominant. He was a committed empiricist himself, so he wanted some evidence to say, “Look, there’s some proof here that synchronistic correlations do indeed occur, and I can prove that statistically.” So that led him to do an astrology experiment which didn’t work out very well; and I’ll say a little more on that in a moment.
But yeah, that was his motivation to get involved with astrology, in part. As you said earlier, he was an astrologer in the sense that he used astrology. So he knew that it worked. He knew that it was a helpful therapeutic aid. He knew that it was connected to mythology and alchemy, and so forth. So he was aware of the rich lineage of astrology, but he was trying to, as in many other parts of psychology, was trying to present his theories empirically, so that they would be more readily entertained, if not accepted by the scientific community.
CB: Right. And he wasn’t content to just use astrology as a tool, but he wanted to actually develop an understanding of why it was capable of working, or why it was capable of doing what it could do within a broader context of an overall sort of philosophy or cosmology in some sense.
KLG: Yeah, yeah, I think so. I mean, he never really did that explicitly, and I think that’s why Safron and I felt the book, Jung on Astrology, was necessary. If you look at Jung’s studies of alchemy, there are three large volumes dedicated to alchemy and then alchemical writings in other volumes too. But on astrology, there’s not one dedicated volume of the collected works of Jung’s published writings on astrology; it was scattered; it was scattered far and wide.
So it was a problem that had clearly preoccupied Jung, I think particularly in the 1950s. If you read Jung’s letters in the 1950s, so many of them are to do with synchronicity and astrology, and so forth, but he didn’t in his formal writing set forth his views on astrology. And the closest he came was in the monograph he wrote on synchronicity in the 1950s; that contains the astrology experiment.
But you’re right. Yeah, he was clearly impressed by what astrology could bring to the table in terms of its insights. It could illuminate, as he said, certain problems in the therapeutic process that he had been unable to see himself. So it was kind of this therapeutic tool or kind of map of the psyche as it’s often called now, astrology.
And so, Jung knew that it had this efficacy, but he, like many of us—like most of us, I imagine—was somewhat perplexed by how it could actually work. So yeah, one of the things that comes out in this book is Jung groping first in one direction then in another as he tries to understand for himself I think as much as anything how it is that planets, signs, houses could indeed be connected to human experience.
CB: Right. And for me, the most brilliant part of this book, of Jung on Astrology, was in Part IV of the book, basically the last, I don’t know, quarter of the book, you guys dedicate it to exploring excerpts from Jung’s writings, and you identified at least seven different explanations of astrology that he entertained at different points in of his life, or in different writings throughout the course of his life.
And some of these are not necessarily completely separate because there’s some overlap and there’s some instances where different explanations contradict each other. But at least you can see what we have here and why it’s important is because Jung was so well-read and was such a deep thinker that was able to draw on so much in terms of his background in studying the history of philosophy, and religion, and psychology, and all these other things, in addition to astrology.
When he attempted to formulate different theories, he was drawing on a large part on both the ancient and contemporary astrological traditions in attempting to do so. And so, some of this formulations actually end up being almost like if you were to attempt to do a meta-analysis of different theories for astrology down through time; most of them would pretty much fall into one of these seven areas for the most part, I think. And so, that’s why I was interested in your analysis, and I hope we can go into that now about these seven discrete explanations for astrology that you were able to kind of tease out of Jung’s writings.
KLG: Yeah, yeah, I’d be happy to discuss those. I mean, the first one, you mentioned Jung’s breadth of knowledge. The first, I call it an explanation of astrology, but again, he doesn’t present it quite in these terms. So the first one is mostly from a section called Forerunners to the Idea of Synchronicity. So in the Synchronicity monograph, he’s introducing this phenomenon that he knew would be radical in terms of how it was read and understood by his audience; because synchronicity, as we’ve already seen, contradicts so many of the assumptions on which the Western worldview is based (i.e, the idea of meaning outside of human consciousness, the inner/outer connection beyond Cartesian interactionism; it contradicts the notion of causality). So he was radical in many ways.
So Jung I think, again, somewhat strategically wanted to show that the idea of synchronicity didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s not something that Carl Jung had thought up one day at home, or that he had had these very bizarre experiences. No, he was determined to establish that there were many historical precedents to the theory. And so, yeah, that’s what he did in the first section that we cover in Jung on Astrology in Part IV.
So in terms of its relevance to astrology, I mean, I think many of us who practice astrology are familiar with the idea of ‘as above, so below’, the microcosm-macrocosm correspondence. These are ancient axioms or ways of explaining astrology that poetically at least make sense to us. But Jung was I think trying to show how these grow out of ancient theories of correspondence—a key one—or the sympathy of all things; the idea that somehow the macrocosm of the universe itself or the celestial heavens are within each of us individually, within the microcosm of the individual. And so, this is one way that the correspondence between the planets in the heavens and what’s happening in the individual life are explained. Somehow the celestial heavens are replicated within each of us. We see a similar notion in Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious.
So Jung believed that each of us at birth inherit the same psychic structure, a deep psychic structure, and it’s the same in everyone; the collective unconscious is in you, is in me, is in each of us. And it’s a collective dimension of our experience, and it contains the archetypes, these formative principles, these universal themes, motifs, and patterns, and powers that animate human experience. So in that sense, the collective unconscious is a bit like the macrocosm within the microcosm of the individual in the ancient view.
Yeah, so Jung set forth these ancient views, pre-modern views of understanding astrology, and I think he does that partly to show that the current, dominant worldview, the dominant scientific worldview and the way that we today in academia and science today readily dismiss astrology is somewhat peculiar to the modern era; it rests on the assumptions that have come to the fore in the time of science.
But if you go back just a few hundred years, there was a more open receptivity to phenomenon such as synchronicity: the idea that, for example, God might reveal Himself through miracles, or the idea of omens, or the Chinese idea that to understand a discrete event or a thing, you have to consider not only that separate thing, but the whole picture; everything ties together; everything is interconnected. And this is something that we moved back to in some sense through modern physics.
One of the insights of modern physics is that there are no hard boundaries between one entity and another, and that even forces that exist between entities kind of merge in one, undivided field of energy. And so, we’ve kind of come back towards a recognition of the idea that reality is a unitary whole, an undivided whole. And Jung was keen to explore these kinds of ideas. He had a relationship with Einstein, and especially with Wolfgang Pauli, a prominent physicist in the first part of the 20th century.
So in this ancient view, we see the beginnings of Jung’s own formulation of synchronicity. He wasn’t suggesting reverting to an ancient view—he wanted to present synchronicity as a modern theory—but he was also eager to point out that these ancient views of correspondence, ‘the sympathy of all things’, the microcosm-macrocosm correspondence were in some sense forerunners to the idea of synchronicity. As he said, synchronicity replaces the obsolete idea of the ‘sympathy of all things’.
CB: Right. So the first theory or explanation of astrology that he entertained or at least he explored from the ancient world, especially from the Greco-Roman tradition where it was actually pretty common in some esoteric traditions—like in Hermeticism—but was also prominent in Stoicism was this idea of ‘cosmic sympathy’, which gets oftentimes gets narrowed down to the Hermetic axiom ‘as above, so below’. Just this idea that there’s a mirroring between what happens with the individual and what happens out in the cosmos or in the broader world in general, especially in terms of the planets.
KLG: Yeah, that’s right. I think most astrologers would go along with that view, the idea of ‘as above, so below’. But I think what interests me—and I think partly is the axiom’s motivation too—is how do we explain that in modern terms? Because obviously, if you’re trying to give some kind of theoretical justification for astrology, or persuade a scientific audience of astrology’s potential validity, it’s not going to be enough to say, “Well, there’s a microcosm-macrocosm correspondence, and ‘as above, so below’.” That’s poetically evocative, but it doesn’t I think carry enough weight for the modern mind today which needs detailed explanations, plausible theories.
KLG: And so, I think Jung moves from that premodern understanding of astrology and then proceeds to try to introduce synchronicity as another kind of explanatory principle; it’s one of the ways he tries to understand astrology at least.
CB: Right. And he takes sort of elements from that idea and incorporates it into synchronicity, as we’ll talk about later, because synchronicity basically becomes his seventh explanatory principle that he eventually develops for astrology as he explores all these other ones. And of course, the ‘cosmic sympathy’ idea, at least in Stoicism, partially incorporated the idea of the cosmos being alive, and the idea of the World Soul being infused throughout the entire body of the cosmos.
And that became their physical reason for how something like ‘cosmic sympathy’ could exist and how you could have a connection between different parts of the cosmos that otherwise appear to be unconnected, because they’re sort of connected through this Soul that’s been diffused throughout everything. And I know Jung mentions that a little bit within the context of this theory as being relevant or being one of the necessary things that would have to be relevant in order for it to sort of work in some sense.
KLG: Yeah, and again, well-expressed. And I think that Jung moves back towards the idea of a World Soul, an Anima Mundi, through his later speculations on synchronicity in the 1950s. In the late 1950s, he kind of through his own psychology will see this more. Through his own psychology, it’s as if he came back to that ancient view of something like an Anima Mundi or a World Soul in which all individual psyches exist. It kind of goes back to the idea that I mentioned earlier of the individual psyche being like a fish swimming in the sea, where the sea is the Anima Mundi or the World Psyche, if you like, or the Cosmic Psyche.
So we see Jung introduce the forerunners to his theory of synchronicity. He engages with this notion of ‘the sympathy of all things’. He was very influenced by the I Ching as well and the Chinese idea of the correspondence between all discrete phenomena. Yeah, by the end, as far as he gets in the 1950s, in terms of his speculations on synchronicity and on astrology, that kind of leads him back almost to this ancient view of a Cosmic Psyche of some kind.
CB: Sure. And I think the Stoics used this analogy when they were trying to explain cosmic sympathy. If I can restate this correctly, I’m not sure if I will, but as a person, you have your body, your physical body, which is kind of like the physical universe and everything that we can see within it, but then each individual has a mind or a soul. And sometimes you can think about moving your finger, and from an external standpoint, you see your finger move, but there’s something within you that’s animating you in terms of your soul which is then motivating or pushing for the finger to move physically or in the physical world.
That was the analogy that they used or roughly something like that for the rationale for cosmic sympathy. Although in things I’ve read, it never gets fully articulated in a way that anybody fully went into it and fully explained it in a way that was clear. It’s always this kind of mysterious concept that shows up most commonly in esoteric texts and is not ever something that’s fully fleshed out.
KLG: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think that’s a fair assessment. I mean, one other idea that came to mind as you were saying that is this notion of a ‘pre-established harmony’. The god as a prime mover initiated the external world of events and the inner world of thoughts, feelings, and so forth at the same time; like setting two things in motion that exist in parallel. And so, there’s this pre-established harmony between the inner life and the outer life. So that’s a way of understanding the inner-outer relationship that’s not based on a mechanistic, causal system.
So normally, we have a thought, a conscious intention, and then that’s somehow translated through brain impulses to our nerves, and that causes a physical action and then we can act in the world. So there’s this causal ‘A’ causes ‘B’ causes ‘C’ model that prevails in the way we normally understand things. And that’s obviously a view that’s pursued in science, but there are other ways of understanding the inner-outer, mind-matter relationship, and some of those are more compatible with or consistent with astrology.
So one of those ways is this idea of the pre-established harmony or a kind of parallelism. It’s not that the mental world influences the physical world or vice versa, but the two just exist in a constant correspondence. There’s a constant correspondence between inner and outer.
CB: Right. And that’s a good correction because actually the analogy I was attempting to use there wouldn’t be a good one, because in that conceptualization, the person is causing their finger to move by sort of willing it to happen. And that’s not necessarily the conceptualization when it comes to the cosmic sympathy idea.
KLG: Yeah, I think that’s perhaps true. I mean, the mind-matter question is a very complex one, and philosophers have spent centuries trying to resolve this. But I think that the key point perhaps then is that the ways that we tend to think about mind and matter today are not really helpful to us in trying to understand astrology or synchronicity for that matter; there would be a dualism. And not only dualism, but more specifically ‘an interactive substance dualism’ where the mind is somehow associated with the brain, maybe encapsulated in the head, that man interacts with matter through the brain. This comes out of Descartes, as I mentioned earlier.
And then the other view is a materialism which is increasingly prominent of course, the idea that really there’s no such thing as mind, or that mind is just an epiphenomenon of the brain. So the brain is firing neurons and we have this experience of being minds, of being conscious beings, but that really is spurious and all that exists is matter, and matter can be understood in terms of the mechanistic interaction of forces. This view came out of classical physics, Newtonian science, and remains prominent today even in the face of quantum physics and relativity theory, which has really dramatically changed things.
But we retain this Cartesian, mechanistic/materialistic view of the world, which when we think about astrology, it’s a problem because we tend then to say, well, how can Mars, the movement of Mars, influence my experience of anger here on Earth? I feel angry. How on earth could that be related to the movements or the positions of Mars or the relationship of Mars to another planet? In terms of causal influence, that seems to us very problematic.
Gravity, obviously, is one way this can be understood. But I remember that Carl Sagan, the famous cosmologist, said that the gravitational force from the midwife and the doctor at birth is more powerful than any planet, considerably more powerful. And so, the force of gravity is just too weak-acting at distances to account for in a causal sense how a planet might influence us here on Earth.
Similarly, the weak and the strong nuclear forces don’t act over long distances. And electromagnetism is the fourth force and that can be shielded by the flow of charges, electromagnetic charges, so it also can’t act over long distances. So in terms of the four known forces in science, none of them can account for how a planet, a distant planet, might have any bearing on human life on Earth.
KLG: So it’s problematic, but the problem comes out of this causal way of construing the relationship between planets and human experience. What Jung brings to us in synchronicity, which we’ll get on to in a moment, is an acausal way of understanding how the planets might be related to human experience. And so, it kind of pulls us away from the dominant paradigm into a different perspective on the problem of astrological correspondence.
CB: Right. That’s really important because that’s an important bit of context for what Jung was struggling with. He’s part of the first or second generation of astrologers, of people that started practicing astrology and taking it seriously again in modern times in the 20th century after it had fallen into disfavor in intellectual circles in the 17th and 18th centuries, partially because the physical or causal model for astrology that dominated up to that time, which was Ptolemy’s model, which he put in place in the 2nd century.
Basically, he took some prevailing scientific theories of the time, which was the notion that the planets emitted or influenced life on Earth, and through influencing varying levels of heat and moisture, they caused different events to happen, either in the lives of individuals or in terms of natural events like the weather, earthquakes, or other things like that. And during the course of the Scientific Revolution, one of the things that was developed was alternative cosmological theories which displaced and in some instances disproved things that were necessary for Ptolemy’s theories to work; and therefore, kind of removed those as reliable or reasonable explanations for astrology.
And so, by the time Jung comes along, we’re in a completely different cosmological and scientific context where we don’t really have any known physical mechanism that could account for astrology. And so, part of what he was struggling with was how do you come up with an explanation that makes sense for how astrology can work in a modern context.
KLG: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s that issue, and then there’s the issue of the Copernican Revolution and a shift from a geocentric to a heliocentric understanding of the solar system. That was kind of another hammer blow, I guess, to the ancient Medieval view of the universe.
CB: Which is funny because as all astrologers today know that’s really not a big issue for astrology, it just was for unique reasons—that we don’t have to go into—in Ptolemy’s cosmology. Because Ptolemy’s cosmology required the Earth to be at the center of the solar system for what he was saying to make sense in terms of his explanation for how astrology worked, and it had to do with the distances of the celestial spheres relative to the Sun.
CB: And Mars was seen as excessively hot and fiery because it was on the celestial sphere that was just above the Sun. But when you remove the Sun from the center of the cosmos—or when you remove the Earth from the center of the cosmos, it kind of yanks that whole cosmological model out from under its feet and that’s what caused problems. We don’t have to go fully into that.
KLG: Yeah, I think there’s just a prevailing mistaken assumption that because the geocentric view of the solar system is no longer valid that therefore astrology is no longer valid from those people outside of astrology at least. It’s one of those objections that would come up along with the causation, the lack of a causal mechanism.
And I think the other big one would be the idea of astrology being fatalistic, which contradicts the modern assumption of free will. It’s, again, the Cartesian ego with the existential burden placed on it that it can ‘will’ its own life, make its own life, and it’s free to choose what does in the world. That’s a modern assumption that we all to a greater or lesser extent live by. And therefore, the idea that our lives could be in some sense preordained or fated—which is not what most astrologers would assume, again—it’s a perception of those outside of the field.
Wait a minute, astrology tells me that in two years, I’m going to get my dream job or move to a different house or something. That’s been problematic I think to the capacity of astrology to be accepted by the modern mind. But yeah, it’s a bigger conversation.
CB: Yeah, I think we could be here all day if we get into that too much. I mean, it is worth saying at least with the first point you made, astrologers cast charts from a geocentric perspective because that’s where we are. The individuals live on Earth…
CB: …and that’s a really easy thing to dismiss for the same reason that if you’re trying to launch a rocket ship off of Earth, then you want to do the calculations for where you’re launching the rocket ship from, not from the Sun, even though you know that the Sun is the center of the solar system.
KLG: Yeah, yeah, that’s nicely put. I’ll remember that one.
CB: All right, so within that context, on the one hand, Jung is basically like a classics scholar because he has classical training. And he must have had some training in Greek and Latin because he’s reading a lot of these texts in some instances in the original language it seems. And he’s citing Greco-Roman authors, he’s citing Medieval and Renaissance authors he’s exposed to.
And one of the things he plays with in that first theory was the idea of cosmic sympathy. But then the second distinct theory that you sort of pulled out or set aside as one of the theories that Jung seemed to entertain at different points is the idea that astrology is somehow a projection of the collective unconscious into the heavens, right?
KLG: Yeah, yeah. Let me say a little bit about that because I think that this is perhaps the position that Jung states the most often, and it’s become influential—became influential I think in some approaches to psychological astrology especially. I remember reading it in Rudhyar. Dane Rudhyar saw astrology as a kind of projection. He put that in The Astrology of Personality in—was it 1934 that it came out?
CB: Right. Because Rudhyar was basically like the first major astrologer who started just incorporating tons of thought from Jung into his astrology.
KLG: Yeah, absolutely. Well, basically the idea here then is that the causation that appears to exist between planets and human experiences/behavior in Jung’s view is not caused by the planets, rather the cause is the psyche, so the collective unconscious. The archetypes in the collective unconscious are the agents that bring forth certain experiences, and astrology is, as you said, a projection of the inner world of the psyche onto the heavens.
So it appears as if Mars or Venus or Jupiter or Saturn are these causal factors that are affecting events and experiences on Earth, but really, Jung says, this is not so. What’s happened is that human beings have projected onto the heavens and what they’ve unconsciously projected the inner world of their psyche, which in Jung’s view is structured by these archetypes, these formative factors, the order and principle to project the archetypal reality of the psyche into the heavens.
And so, it appears as if there are cosmological causes and reasons for human experience, when in fact—this is Jung’s position in this particular case—the causes are psychological. Now Jung’s led to this conclusion in part because of the phenomenon known as ‘the precession of the equinoxes’.
CB: Right. He comes to this conclusion from a really weird direction, but this actually grew directly out of him trying to wrestle with the issue of precession and why the tropical zodiac would still work even though the tropical signs are no longer in alignment with the sidereal signs.
CB: And this was his fallback, or this was his attempt to rationalize that, that maybe we’re just projecting the meanings onto the tropical signs.
KLG: Yeah, I mean, the idea that the sign Aries 2000 BCE was directly aligned, precisely aligned with the constellation Aries. But since that time, there’s been this precession of the equinoxes, a backward movement, so that the spring point at the beginning of Aries is no longer aligned with the constellation Aries, but is now at some point in Pisces, or maybe even in Aquarius.
So this means that if you look up—Jung makes this argument in the book—if you look up with a telescope at the constellation Aries, and you’re expecting to see your Sun there because that’s where your Sun sign is, you would be surprised to discover that the Sun is not in Aries, but is aligned with the constellation Pisces perhaps, or Aquarius; so it’s moved. So there is no longer an alignment between the signs of the zodiac and the constellations after which the signs were originally named.
So Jung therefore reasoned, well, it can’t be then that there’s a causal influence of the constellation of stars because the signs are no longer aligned with them. But he seems to use that fact to then fall back on this idea that astrology is nothing but a projection. It can’t have any astronomical basis because of the phenomenon of the precession which has made things out of alignment. Therefore, because it can’t have an astronomical basis, Jung reasons, it must be psychological and it must be projection.
CB: Right. And it’s like a really weird line of thought in Jung’s work because it just assumes right from the start that there’s actual astronomical meaning or way that you could derive symbolic meaning from the tropical signs of the zodiac; or it assumes that all of the meanings that were developed for the signs of the zodiac were originally all from the sidereal zodiac, when in fact the two were roughly aligned around the time that most of the astrological meanings were developed for the zodiacal signs, around the 1st century BCE.
So it’s kind of a weird argument on his part where he’s aware of this, but he doesn’t know how to work out the issue. And so, he sort of throws up his hands in frustration and says, “Well, maybe it’s all just projection.”
KLG: Yeah, that may be true. I mean, I think as well this kind of explanation relies upon a Cartesian separation of the inner world of the human psyche, of the human mind, from the outer world, particularly from the heavens. Of course it could be that the mind is not just within you and within me, the psyche is not just in you and in me, but somehow adheres throughout existence. And so, if there’s some psychological dimension to outer space then that challenges the view of astrology as projection.
But the idea I think in projection is that there’s this encapsulated psyche, albeit, with a collective unconscious that’s within each of us. And because we share the collective unconscious, we each project the same psychological structure onto the heavens. The heavens are a suitable medium for projection. They’re unknown, mysterious, dark, with some kind of mathematical order, which is pretty much how Jung describes the collective unconscious.
It’s the dark, unknown realm of the psyche. It has this order within it, the order of archetypes. So this view depends on the idea that the inner realm of the psyche and the outer realm of the cosmos, the universe, are separate, and therefore, one projects across this Cartesian divide from the mind onto the heavens and that is the basis of astrology. But as we’ll see later on, Jung in many ways goes far beyond a Cartesian psychology, a Cartesian position; he contradicts it. The very notion of synchronicity, of an inner-outer correspondence based on meaning blows open the Cartesian view; it blows it apart.
So Jung, on the one hand, is introducing this view of projection, that astrology is projection. On the other hand, he’s contradicting that in his own theories of synchronicity and the nature of archetypes, which we’ll get onto this in a moment. But he basically believes that archetypes are not just within the human psyche, but they fall in with the processes of nature; they fall in with matter, with physical processes.
So this is later in his life, he’s saying about archetypes, “I used to think of them as inner, formative principles, motifs, and myth, themes of religion, and so forth.” The archetypes were the factors that gave rise to these mythic themes. However, later on, when he realized that archetypal themes like rebirth were manifesting not only in the human mind, but also in the appearance of scarab beetles at windows, then he thought, “Well, wait a minute. Archetypes must have some connection to the material world too. Otherwise, how could that be possible?”
So there’s a contradiction here in Jung’s view of astrology as projection. Yet, as I said, it seemed to become quite influential in the way that astrology was understood from a psychological perspective in the 20th century.
CB: Sure. I mean, at least in terms of Rudhyar to some extent, it seems like synchronicity became dominant. It’s like astrologers adopted—and you referred to this at one point in your book—sometimes uncritically Jung’s views on synchronicity. And that’s actually one of the things that I found the most fascinating about your essay in Jung on Astrology, where you introduced this part of the book and you identify these seven different explanatory theories that Jung seems to have entertained at different points in his life.
So much of late 20th century and early 21st century astrology has become modern Western astrologers just adopting and adapting some versions of Jung’s theory of synchronicity for their own purposes, and oftentimes, modifying it, and it’s interesting when you break down these seven different theories. Seeing Jung himself continue to struggle throughout his life and go back and forth between different theories, and alternate or sometimes not have a clear idea necessarily that was one of the most fascinating things that I found about that.
KLG: That’s right, yeah. I mean, he never totally rejected a causal explanation, as we’ll see. So yeah, I mean, Jung was certainly contradictory in many ways, but this is a difficult topic. I’m kind of sympathetic because it was a real struggle, as it would be for any of us to try to understand just how astrology works. There’s some element of mystery I think that can never quite be fully penetrated. But the aspiration to try to better understand how astrology might work I think is a good one, an ennoble one.
I think Jung was perhaps too close to his ideas to see how you might use his own ideas to present, in my mind, a more cogent explanation of astrology in terms of synchronicity; and I’ll get on to that in a moment. But yeah, you’re absolutely right that he was moving back and forth between one position and another—sometimes astrology is synchronicity, sometimes it’s projection, sometimes it’s based on causal influence, and so on—and so, he doesn’t really arrive at a settled position, I think we can say that.
CB: Sure. And so, I think that’s important. It’s interesting looking at it from that perspective, at some of these different theories, because we’re talking about this guy’s entire adult life and his writings and his personal letters, as well as his published public writings over like a 50- or 60-year period. So he did change and sometimes he was influenced by different experiences he had or different struggles that he had within astrology.
So one of them, as we were just talking about, was precession, and then some of the conclusions that he drew from precession, or the way that he attempted to rationalize the answer to that question for himself where he continued to use the tropical zodiac. Another one though, which leads to our third category of an explanation that Jung entertained as a model for astrology was astrology as divination essentially. And this one’s interesting because this one largely seems to arise primarily out of a failed attempt to do a scientific statistical experiment on the concept of synastry in astrology, right?
KLG: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, this goes back to what I mentioned earlier, that Jung had this wish to try to put astrology and synchronicity on a firmer empirical ground. And so, he did this experiment where he studied various combinations of the Sun and the Moon, the Moon and the Ascendant, the Sun and the Ascendant in the charts of married couples—husband and wife—and compared that to unmarried couples.
And so, he conducted this experiment and it seemed at first when they did the calculations that this did indeed prove that astrology is statistically valid. And so, obviously, you can imagine there was some excitement around that. But then later, Jung went back to the calculations; I think he was working with a team of maybe statisticians; he certainly had some assistants. But he went back and looked at the figures again and realized that there had been serious errors made in the calculations; and in fact, they found that there was no statistical correlation between the respective charts of married couples relative to unmarried couples.
So most people perhaps would be deflated by this, by the errors, but Jung took the error to be itself significant and said, “Wait a minute, something like synchronicity seems to be happening here. Because I, Carl Jung, was so emotionally invested in the outcome of this experiment, perhaps even in spite of my attempts to be scientific and empirical. I was so invested in this that somehow the unconscious colluded with the experiment to make it seem as if there is indeed a statistical, valid correlation when in fact there wasn’t.” So he talks of a ‘secret, mutual, connivance’ between the psyche, the unconscious psyche of the experimenter, and the actual experiment.
And one can imagine—and Maggie Hyde explores this area in her book, Jung and Astrology—one can imagine that something like this takes place when we’re doing chart readings. I think of those examples where you might do a reading with the wrong chart. You know, you put ‘7:00 AM’ when it’s ‘7:00 PM’ and then you do the reading, or you get the date wrong or something.
Somehow if you can do a reading based on the wrong chart, you can still convey some insight, right? In spite of the incorrect data, you can see that astrology somehow works, and I think this is comparable to doing something like a tarot card reading. One uses something like synchronicity or synchronistic guidance to choose particular cards in the deck when you’re doing a reading, and then that helps to illuminate the qualities of that moment or the situation that you’re in. You ask a question, you get an answer.
So this is one way that Jung used synchronicity in his explanation of astrology. Whether or not there’s any objective truth in astrology, somehow the unconscious believes there is, or is invested in Jung or an astrologer having a positive view of astrology. And then this creates the emotionally-charged situation that allows synchronicities to manifest. And so, astrology becomes something like a means to divine the moment, the quality of the moment, whether or not there’s any kind of objective, Platonic, Pythagorean, archetypal basis to astrology. So that’s the view of astrology as divination.
CB: Right. And it’s interesting because when he describes this experiment in I think his essay on synchronicity, he says that he went into it thinking astrology was a causal science. I think he got these synastry rules from Ptolemy or something; this idea that in married couples, you would expect to see their Suns conjunct, or their Moons conjoining or their Ascendants, or some combination thereof. And then his initial results came back finding different variations of that, but then in the end, once he realized it wasn’t statistically significant, he decided that his own subjective expectation in wanting to find that outcome actually caused it or influenced in some way the results that he initially received.
And so, you did an interesting breakdown then where you referred to Maggie Hyde’s book, and how from that experiment, she distinguishes between two different versions of synchronicity that Jung seems to have articulated. And one of them is ‘Synchronicity I’, which is there is this objective, meaningful, but acausal pattern that’s sort of occurring objectively out there in nature versus ‘Synchronicity II’, where the subjective participation of the observer is actually influencing in some way external events; and therefore, the astrologer cannot escape their own subjectivity. And astrology itself in that model of as divination involves to some extent some almost collusion between the astrologer, the client, and the symbolism that’s involved.
KLG: Yeah, absolutely. And of course, it might be that both forms of synchronicity are valid; that there is some kind of objective framework there; some objective archetypal order in the nature of things. And yet, I think those of us that do astrology will know that there are synchronistic factors at work when we’re doing chart readings. I mean, why does one choose to say one thing in one reading and another thing in another reading? I mean, it’s not like a scientific reading of a chart; it’s an art; it’s a magical art in some ways.
And so, I think that’s what emerges from this view of synchronicity as applied to astrology as divination; it’s the creative act of divining the moment. But that doesn’t, to my mind, mean that there can’t also be an objective framework of archetypal meaning, and we’ll come to that in explanations six and seven.
CB: Sure. And I mean, this has become—I guess I could describe it as a somewhat dominant theme in modern times, especially through the work of Geoffrey Cornelius and in book, The Moment of Astrology, and also, Maggie Hyde’s work, and their explication of this concept of astrology as divination. And Cornelius famously argued in The Moment of Astrology that this the reason why, at least in his experience, that sometimes even doing a chart reading where the data ends up being wrong, somehow that could still produce a very compelling reading because of this mutual connivance, or because of this collusion almost where astrology is working partially due to the psychological investment of the astrologer and the client.
I mean, I’m not personally onboard with that approach myself just because I do think there is some objective validity to astrology, even to the extent that it’s based on synchronicity. But it’s interesting, as you said, as a potential component to astrological phenomenon, where there very well may be this subjective field of experience that’s taking place, especially in terms of a client reading where there may be other factors involved besides just whatever the actual external synchronicity is.
KLG: Yeah, yeah, I think that’s true. I think that principle seems to me to be at work in doing readings, but so too is projection. I mean, I think we’re always projecting. This is an insight of depth psychology that we never really experience reality as it really is, but we experience what we bring to reality as much as what reality is in itself. Actually part of the work of individuation is self-knowledge, so that you learn to shed the veil of illusion and see more clearly, see the facts of things rather than reality distorted by projections.
So I think in astrology, no doubt, projection is at work. People find in their own particular astrological theory what it is they want to see; it would be difficult for that not to be taking place. And likewise, I think that surely there’s this synchronistic element to the subjective act of working with astrological meanings through charts, in birth charts, in transits, and so forth; I think both are in play.
And as you’ve said the divinatory view of astrology has become popular, perhaps dominant, particularly in the UK, not so much where I learned astrology in California: archetypal astrology, archetypal cosmology. So there’s a complex array of different perspectives out there and I think that’s one important one.
CB: Right. And part of that is because since the 1980s, there was a revival of the practice of horary astrology in the UK. And a lot of the traditional revival there was centered around the practice of horary, which is much more similar in practice to something like casting tarot cards or what have you.
CB: And so, it’s much easier to make that connection versus something like mundane astrology where you’re like watching world cycles play out over the course of centuries, or even natal astrology where you’re casting a chart for the birth of an individual and then watching transits that were foretold decades ahead of time eventually play out in a person’s life in a specific way, so there’s different elements.
But what’s just interesting here about this one, the third explanation that Jung played with, was just, again, this is something that arose out of almost like a crisis or a problem that he had when he conducted this scientific experiment, and then it went in a way that was perplexing to him. And so, he tried then to rationalize and come up with an explanation for it after the fact, and this was one of his attempts to sort of explain what had happened in that experiment.
KLG: Yeah. I mean, you could say that maybe he was trying to ‘save face’, but then he didn’t have to go ahead and publish it. So he couldn’t have been too embarrassed about the way it went, although I think he was maybe a little embarrassed about the errors. But he saw it as a genuine phenomenon that emerged through this error, the error in calculation.
And it’s related to what I said earlier about the lowering of the threshold of consciousness. For synchronicities to happen there’s a kind of return to that undifferentiated, unclear world of the participation mystique where everything’s connected beneath the surface. So when consciousness becomes clouded or emotionally-possessed or blinded in some sense, that creates the conditions in which there can be this lowering of the threshold of consciousness and the unconscious world of the participation mystique can break through.
And so, I think that maybe something like took place here, and maybe it does in some kinds of divinatory readings where there’s an emotional context to the reading—that you’re going to find out information about your life or a particular problem that you’re grappling with—there’s a charge because it’s an archetypal situation.
You’ve got the High Priest/High Priestess archetypal situation where you’re going to learn something that’s deeply important to you about your character or your life, your fate, whatever it might be, and then that lends a charge to the situation which makes possible in this particular view of synchronicity the manifestation of synchronicity.
CB: Right, right, that makes sense. I mean, there’s one other point in that before we move, which is just there’s an issue with divination where chance is this huge factor. Divination, especially in the ancient world, was always defined as foretelling events that happen by chance or through a random allotment of something that comes together by chance.
And so, for the tarot cards that’s like the shuffling of a deck of tarot cards that should just randomly result in whatever random cards come out, but then it turns out that that arrangement of cards at that moment for whatever question was asked actually has symbolic meaning. And there is the divinatory mechanism or synchronicity there underlying that approach to divination or other forms of divination like that.
And astrology in that context, for example, like with horary astrology, is casting a chart for whatever random moment that somebody asks a question to the astrology. And whatever the alignment of the planets happened to be at that moment is completely chance or is outside of anyone’s control, and that alignment of planets will then reflect the question as well as the outcome or the answer to what was asked at that time.
But then you have this question—because one of the assumptions then that Cornelius and others that make that astrology as divination argument make is that horary is not just this weird, unique thing; but instead, it’s representative or endemic of what all other forms of astrology actually are. But there’s the question of do all other forms of astrology have that same chance-like characteristic to them?
Unlike the tarot cards, which don’t exist in the specific state that they end up with at the time of the reading until you shuffle them, does the fact that the planets are already pre-existing out there as objectively-positioned and fixed significators or fixed elements—in things like mundane astrology or natal astrology—remove the ‘chance’ characteristic enough that it can’t necessarily fully qualify as divination in the same way?
KLG: Yeah, those are great questions. I’m inclined to the view myself that there is some objective order and that is the basis of astrology. And that’s revealed cosmologically through the arrangements of the planets and it’s revealed psychologically through an archetypal order in the unconscious—that’s my own viewpoint.
I think on chance, synchronicity perhaps changes our view of chance a little in that the selection of tarot cards, for example, or the choice of the particular moment to ask a question in horary astrology, or the formulation of the question itself might emerge from some kind of unconscious guidance; that there’s some meaning coming through.
We know that the particular selection of a card, seemingly random, can actually reveal the workings of the unconscious, even though it seems like consciously or intentionally choosing cards. Why choose one card over another? It’s as if the act of doing that, or throwing the stalks of the I Ching, allows the unconscious to express itself in that moment. And that too may tap into the archetypal qualities of that moment, even though it seems to be wholly subjective or random or chance drawing of something.
As Jung said, when we get onto time, whatever is done or born at a particular moment in time has the quality of that moment. So it might be that—to move into that area—that what seems to be chance, what seems to be arbitrary and random is in fact the medium through which some kind of deeper meaning can come through.
CB: Sure. Definitely. Oh, yeah, I wanted to qualify one statement I made which is just natal astrology might still have a chance-like character to the extent that the moment a person is born is outside of anyone’s control, and so, somebody could arguably characterize that as a chance-like moment for somebody you cast a chart for. Even though it seemed predetermined in some sense in retrospect in terms of the actual moment that it occurs, it’s kind of up in the air, unless you have a cesarean section and it’s deliberately chosen, in which case, that would be controlled. You have a child, right?
KLG: Yes, that’s right. A nine-year-old boy.
CB: Was he born randomly or was it chosen?
KLG: Well, who knows? It didn’t seem random. Yeah, I mean, it was not a straightforward birth, but it wasn’t cesarean. But yeah, I think it’s related obviously to the questions of fate and free will. It seems to us in life that we’re making many free choices. But ultimately, do we really know where those seemingly free choices come from? Decisions often just automatically come over us from somewhere.
KLG: And so, it’s terribly difficult…
CB: You’re leaning into fatalism there. I’m actually surprised for you to say that or to articulate that in that way.
KLG: Well, I often say that for me astrology is not fatalistic. As to the question of whether there is fate, I don’t know. I’m inclined to the view that Joseph Campbell put forward, the idea that there’s a transcendent fatality in life, and one often becomes aware of it only in retrospect. You look back and it seems as if your life had to be that way, although in the moment, you’re burdened with free choice; you’re having to make decisions.
It may be that fate and free will, as it’s often said, are two sides of the same coin; that’s my view. But I don’t look at the chart and think, well, this shows me exactly what a person’s like or reveals their fate; I don’t have the view of astrology. But as a personal view, I do incline to some kind of acceptance of what seems to be to me a transcendent fatality working through our lives, our choices.
CB: Sure, sure. I was just kind of messing with you because I know that that’s a topic of much focus to some extent in the archetypal astrology school in terms of a rejection of too much of an overt or restrictive concept of fate or fatalism being associated with astrology.
KLG: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. Maybe I lean a little bit more towards the transcendent fatality notion than others. It occurs to me that participation—which is a prominent concept in archetypal cosmology—the idea that we participate with the gods somehow, we therefore can by conscious awareness and intention inflect or change the way that archetypes are expressed. So there’s this participatory notion of the conscious ego in kind of dialogue with the unconscious and being able to manifest or direct certain archetypal energies in specific directions to an extent. However, it occurs to me that even the very act of participation is itself already archetypally-conditioned.
So even if we think we have a brilliant creative idea—which seems to be unique and novel and our own willing, our own choice—that comes through us, that comes over us, and at no point are we outside of the archetypes so that we can objectively interact with them in a kind of undistorted way. Jung was fond of saying we’re in the psyche, we can’t get out of it.
There’s no Archimedean point outside of the psyche from which to view it objectively, so we’re always being conditioned by our archetypes, like our birth charts. Our astrological birth charts are always coming through us, and it can come through us in different ways. But the very act of participation is itself colored, conditioned, perhaps even unconsciously driven by archetypes; that’s my view.
CB: Right. I mean, even though fate is often conceptualized as like this external force that’s being impressed upon people from the outside or from the environment, the Stoics had this distinction between an ‘external’ fate and an ‘internal’ fate, and they said that they both worked kind of in unison together. And they used this analogy of a cylinder that’s at the top of a hill. Somebody gives it a push, which is the external event or fate of the cylinder, but then the cylinder—because it’s cylindrical, and therefore, prone towards rolling—will then roll down the hill itself.
And I always thought that was an interesting analogy for natal astrology where a person goes through life and at certain moments does have these external circumstances or events that occur to them that are like external impulses or external fate; but then they also have their own internal predisposition based on the birth chart in terms of their character and their personality and their inclination towards certain actions they’ll be predisposed towards, like the cylinder rolling down the hill, given whatever the external impulse is. So there’s a whole dialogue we could have about that at some point, but maybe we can shelve that.
KLG: Yeah, I think we better. I mean, the only thing I would say to that is I wonder how distinct the external circumstances or the internal predispositions are because often stuff is elicited through circumstance. Jung said that sometimes in circumstance you can see the other face of the unconscious (i.e., the conscious constellates particular circumstances in order to work its purposes through us, for example, or bring its meanings forth through us).
KLG: One other thought on that—we must move on, you’re right—but just the idea of causation. You can see the human experience as a causal chain. So an event in childhood causes something else, causes something else. ‘A’ causes ‘B’ causes ‘C’ causes ‘D’—we can understand life in those terms, like a causal deterministic model, but it might be that working through those causal chains of events is a different kind of cause, something like an ‘archetypal cause’—or what Aristotle called ‘a formal cause’, formal causation, final causation—where causal chains are the means by which some pre-given, organizing meaning or pattern are manifesting through our experiences.
So I just thought I’d mention that because that thought was triggered by what you were saying about the example from Stoicism.
CB: Yeah, that makes me think of the ‘time twins’ issue as applied to the issue that you just raised as maybe an explanation or where I would go with that. I was just rereading some of your excerpts from Jung on Astrology, and he cites that often repeated legend—which I’m not sure is true or if that’s even necessarily the point—but the idea of the guy that was supposedly born in England at the same time as a king, who had a remarkably similar life but just relative to his station in life compared to the events that happened to somebody that was more eminent. There was a sort of archetypal or formal similarity between some of the events that they had at different times in their lives. Maybe that could go along with what you were saying in terms of that.
KLG: Yeah, yeah. I think it’s often the case of discerning the common, underlying themes even if the surface details seem to be different. At the level of universals, two people with similar birth charts are going to be experiencing similar manifestations of that. But at the level of specific concrete details—what they do with their lives, who they marry, where they live, and so forth—that’s going to look wholly different, and I think that that’s an insight that runs through and informs astrology.
CB: Right. And Tarnas has a specific statement about this in Cosmos and Psyche, but I forget how he formulates it. He says that astrology is not strictly deterministic, but it’s archetypally deterministic, or something like that.
KLG: Archetypally predictive and not concretely predictive.
CB: Perfect. All right, so that then leads us to number four, which is explanation number four, that Jung explored as a principle or a rationale for astrology. And what’s really interesting is even later in his life, one of the things you point out in the book is that he was still open to possible causal mechanisms, and he was still entertaining recent scientific theories, like one about solar radiation as being a potential explanation for astrology.
And this really surprised me because, like I said, by the late 20th century, most modern Western psychological astrologers had adopted his theory of synchronicity as a way of providing an explanatory rationale for astrology that was just completely without any sort of causal mechanism whatsoever. And so, it was curious to see that Jung himself was still wavering, or was still vacillating, or was still open to the idea that there could be some causal component and said perhaps that it could be both—that synchronistic and causal explanations might be simultaneously valid.
KLG: That’s right, yeah. I think he said somewhere that the unconscious doesn’t give a jot for either/or explanations: ‘it’s got to be causal or it’s got to be synchronistic or divinatory’, but it could be both. Because of the unconscious, ‘yes’ and ‘no’ can be true simultaneously; he made that argument.
KLG: I don’t really know what to make of this shift. He seems to have been influenced by what he read. In some ways, it’s simpler if we could say, “Well, yeah, astrology could be explained in terms of some kind of emitted force,” that’s a lot simpler. But if you want to understand astrology in an acausal way, then I think one has to look at quantum physics and things like systems theory, complex views of reality that in some sense go against our commonsense view of the world; and so, that makes it more difficult.
But yeah, I think there’s a big part of Jung that was a scientific empiricist. He was a Kantian. He followed the Kantian belief that we can only know the limits of the psyche, so he wasn’t metaphysical; he tried not to be metaphysical. But yeah, he had this empiricist streak, and I think it was probably quite alluring for Jung to think that, as he said, one day astrology could be recognized as a natural science. So he moved from this view of astrology as a mantic method, divination. He moved back and forth from there to the idea that it was causal and then to it was both.
KLG: Yeah, he seemed to be in a period of confusion around that time, but I do think Jung’s most cogent explanation of astrology lies elsewhere in neither of those possibilities.
CB: Sure. It was just interesting because a lot of this comes from his letters in the 1950s, towards the end of his life.
CB: He actually says in one of them that you quoted at one point that he needed to go back and revise what he had written in the synchronicity essay. And I think he was referring to the results of the experiment and the direction he went on astrology as purely divination. He was thinking by the 1950s that he might have to revise that as he was entertaining or at least playing with there being some causal mechanism perhaps.
KLG: Yeah, that’s right.
CB: Okay. So that was number four.
CB: The fifth explanation was this sort of general idea that time has qualitative properties. And this was what was underlying his famous and often quoted statement that “Whatever is born or done at this particular moment of time has the quality of this moment in time,” right?
KLG: Yes, that’s right. I think that’s something that astrologers would concur with. I mean, that seems to be what astrology does, it looks for qualities of particular moments: the quality of the moment that someone is born and how is that revealed through the symbolism of the birth chart.
So yeah, I think that’s been influential on astrology. Although you may have noticed that, again, Jung is not consistent and by the end of that chapter has retracted this idea and said that actually time is empty. Time is defined by the events that take place in time and is itself actually nothing. So he said the idea that time has qualities is a tautology (i.e., it’s a circular truth). And so, he’s trying to rephrase or reformulate this view of astrology as a reflection of the qualities of the moment of time in terms of a broader theory of synchronicity.
So he spends a lot of time and a lot of effort trying to articulate this theory. I think it was The Visions Seminars or The Dream Seminars, I forget which, there were several pages of detailed analysis of how time is related to energy and fate is related to time, and he really goes to considerable lengths to explain this view. So it’s obviously something that he entertained very seriously, but then he came to this later insight that time is empty, and maybe it goes back to Jung’s Kantianism.
Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher, had this idea that space and time are not out there in the nature of things, rather they are just categories of the mind; they are a priori categories. So we construct our reality as if things occupy their own regions of space and time, as if things move in temporal sequence from ‘A-to-B’, but that’s the mind constructing an unknown reality into intelligible categories of experience.
So given that view, if Jung believes that time is just a category of the mind, following Kant, then perhaps he was unwilling to then say time is this kind of medium that contains qualities that then shapes events and experiences that take place in time. You can see how those two things are quite contradictory.
So this doesn’t come out in the book. This is just what I’m surmising that this is why Jung felt that he needed to retract the idea that things that are born at particular moments of time have the quality of that moment. I don’t know, it’s a complicated one.
CB: Yeah. I think it’s important though because he’s trying to articulate something that seems like it had been a foundational principle in astrology, a foundational conceptual principle on some level for at least 2,000 years at that point. In the 1st century BCE, the concept of natal astrology was developed and the idea that the alignment of the planets at the moment you were born would indicate something about the quality and future of your life. And then that idea was also extended to electional astrology and the notion that casting a chart for the moment that something begins will indicate both the quality of that event as well as its future.
It seems like he’s riffing on concepts like that in order to come up with some of these statements that time doesn’t just have duration, but it also has quality or meaning. And therefore, astrology itself functions like a cosmic clock or a watch, and it leads from that to these notions and these arguments of fate being identical to time. And it seems like some of those statements ended up being tremendously influential on later 20th century astrology because astrologers did pick up on some of that in order to try to articulate that basic premise of natal astrology or electional astrology, horary astrology, or what have you.
KLG: Yeah, I think maybe Jung was too hasty in rejecting that idea. We’ll see when we look at the seventh explanation that he has this view that the collective unconscious, certainly at its deeper levels, is spaceless and timeless (i.e., space and time don’t exist in the unconscious, in the collective unconscious). However, he then suggests that it’s as if the timeless, spaceless realm of the unconscious manifests in a series of discrete moments in time. This is how he’s kind of thinking through the issue of synchronicity; we’ll look at this more closely in a moment, I’m sure.
But I think the basic idea here then is that it could be that time does have these particular qualities because time in Jung’s other view is a manifestation of the timeless world of the unconscious into empirical phenomenological moments of reality—temporal moments, ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’—when in the collective unconscious, ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ exist simultaneously, or there is no time. So there’s kind of this idea of an unfolding of moments of time out of the unconscious with each moment having a certain archetypal quality. And I think that’s what astrology gets at. It gets at that quality.
KLG: I can see why Jung rejected this view or explanation in terms of time, but I’m not entirely convinced that it was the right move.
CB: Yeah. He came up with different interesting ideas throughout the course of his life through partially his own personal reflections, but also, through exploring different traditions. And so, one of the great things about him then is his ability to articulate things that he’s observing through some of those classical or historical studies.
And I think one of the things that’s useful here is he literally encapsulated something that was on some level being taken for granted by the astrological tradition. Whether or not he at another point in life felt that it was fully compelling as a complete explanatory rationale for everything or whether it was too strict is almost sort of like another matter.
CB: But that does tie into the sixth explanation that you identified, which numerology basically was one of the other explanations that he played with and the idea that number has symbolic meaning. It’s not just quantitative, but it also has meaning in some broader symbolic or interpretive sense.
KLG: Yeah, I can explain how Jung got to this perhaps. So he first of all discovered that, as he put it—I’m paraphrasing—the unconscious uses number as an ordering principle. So number is ‘the archetype of order’, as he says.
What he found was that, for example, if someone was in a confused, turbulent psychological state, they were going through some major life transformation, they would be inclined to produce mandala symbolism, which is like a circle with a fourfold, quaternity structure. Jung himself painted some of these when he was going through his own transformation between 1912 and 1918.
So he recognized that the unconscious seems to be structured by number: oneness, duality, tensions of opposites, the quarternity motif in the crucifix/cross, and in mandala symbolism. So that led him to this conclusion that number is the archetype of order. And then later on, again, in the 1950s—and this comes through most clearly in Jung’s letters—he moves beyond a view of archetypes as just being psychological.
So certainly before the Second World War, there’s this idea that the archetype is a formative factor in the unconscious psyche; it’s psychological. But then later, he introduces this idea that the archetypes are ‘psychoid’, which is a term that he wants to use to suggest that the archetypes are not only psychological (i.e., they not only manifest in our dreams or fantasies). You might dream of a wise old man—a ‘wise old man’ is an archetype, an archetypal motif—that’s a psychological manifestation of an archetype; or you might dream of being reborn, for example, to go back to our earlier mention of the rebirth archetype.
So you can have a dream or a fantasy that has an archetypal motif or theme in it and that’s the psychological side of the archetype. But Jung realized that in synchronicities—and I mentioned this a moment ago—the archetypal theme also seems to be evident externally in the external world. If you encounter an unusual animal, the symbolic meaning of the animal is related to what you’re going through psychologically, as in the scarab beetle example, for instance.
So archetypes Jung recognized were not limited only to the psyche, but they come to us from the world as well. They seem to inhere somehow in matter. And so, this term ‘psychoid’ suggests that. It suggests that at the deeper level of the archetype, it’s neither psychological nor material, but something that is neither of those, but also, perhaps both; a neutral third thing; so this is a shift in Jung’s view of archetypes.
Now if he believes that numbers are archetypes (and numbers manifest in the inner psyche, as I explained), and if he believes that archetypes are psychoid (so they’re not just in the psyche, but manifest in the external world), then it stands to reason that numbers are perhaps responsible not only for the order of the psyche but for the order of the whole universe, which is something close to a Pythagorean view of number as being like a transcendent form, an eternal form that manifests in the structure and the order of our experience of reality.
So I very quickly there traced something like an argument that shows how Jung moves towards something close to a Pythagorean view of the world. And in his letters in the 1950s, again, he’s basically acknowledging that he felt that Pythagoras was on the right lines, and so forth, and similar kinds of statements.
So what we have—perhaps in terms of astrology—is this idea that the planetary order, the configuration of relationships between the planets as they move in their orbits and the archetypal order in the psyche both arise from something deeper; a deeper numerical, transcendental order that is something like a Pythagorean, Platonic, objective order in the nature of things, and the physical universe (the cosmos) and the psychological psyche both derive from the same underlying numerical order.
Now Jung doesn’t make that argument quite as explicitly as I’ve made it there. I just joined the dots on various statements that he’s made, and I kind of present an argument that this is how astrology could be understood in terms of Jung’s own thinking in a way that is consistent with Jung’s own thinking, but he doesn’t really make this explicit.
CB: Right. And it makes sense that he would go that direction to viewing the archetypes potentially as numbers or being equivalent to numbers because I think that’s the direction that Plato went as well in his conceptualization of the ‘forms’ or the eidei, or his conceptualization of the equivalent of Jung’s archetypes on some level, even though it was conceptualized very differently, because archetypes are viewed as these transcendent qualities that are informing nature in some way in all of the various manifestations of certain things.
But you had an interesting breakdown that maybe you could repeat here—I don’t know if you already stated it—of just an early example of the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4, and how those could be seen as having an inherent meaning, just following that Pythagorean conceptualization: ‘1’ represents unity, and ‘2’ represents duality and what have you.
KLG: Yeah, yeah. And as I mentioned, for Jung, this is a psychological manifestation of a numerical order: so ‘1’ being unity, as you said, or the beginning, it’s the first number; ‘2’ being duality and the tension of opposites. Jungian psychology really is centered on this idea that our experience of reality is structured by opposites: high and low, male and female, light and dark, good and evil, and so forth.
And individuation is learning to live with the tension between opposites and to try to reconcile them, and they’re reconciled through a third principle. Jung refers to what he calls ‘the transcendent function’, which is the capacity of the psyche to bring forth a symbol or a third position that unifies the opposites. And so, that’s the nature of the ‘3’; the unification of the tension of opposites in some kind of emergent principle.
And then ‘4’ has to do with quaternities and the notion of a consciously-realized wholeness. So in the mandala drawing, you get a circle. A circle symbolizes wholeness, but usually an unconscious wholeness. And then the imposition or imposing the fourfold structure on the circle suggests the realization of that unconscious wholeness in actuality in consciousness.
So this is how Jung understands number. And he chose the idea that number is not just an instrument of accounting, as we tend to assume—‘1+2+3’—but numbers actually are entities, transcendent, metaphysical entities in their own right; this is Platonic, Pythagorean view. So yeah, it’s, again, something that is very much at odds with the way we normally construe reality today in terms of a scientific view of the world, but it’s an idea that Jung approached through synchronicity.
CB: Right. And you can immediately see why Jung would have gone that direction with astrology because of some of the clear numerological things that are built into some parts of Western astrology. For example, the distinction between male and female or masculine and feminine signs does probably derive from that Pythagorean view of odd numbers being masculine and even numbers being feminine.
And so, that’s why Aries, the first sign after the Vernal Equinox, is conceptualized as masculine, and Taurus is conceptualized as feminine because it’s the second. In other areas, Jung would have seen things associated with the conjunction, for example, with the number ‘1’ versus the opposition being associated with duality and the number ‘2’.
CB: And then that sort of shows up in the difference between the 1st house being associated with ‘the self’ versus the 7th house being associated with ‘the other’ on the other side of the opposition, and other ways where numerology has explicitly been built into astrology; to whatever extent it was a deliberate construct, or perhaps to whatever extent it just sort of naturally arose that way if these numbers do have these actual transcendent qualities.
KLG: Yeah. I mean, I think arguably number archetypes are the basis of astrology in its entirety. If you think of the signs and houses that the division into 12 is based on, that’s the lowest common denominator of 1, 2, 3, 4. And aspects, as you said, you mentioned the conjunction, the opposition. The square is obviously based on the number ‘4’, the trine on the number ‘3’. So the qualitative nature of the relationship between the planets and aspects seemingly reflects this Pythagorean archetypal view of number.
CB: Right. And the notion that some aspects are harmonious and others are disharmonious.
KLG: Yeah, that’s right. And no doubt Jung was influenced by his reading of astrology too in this. I mean, Liz Greene just produced two books published by Routledge. One of the books looks at which astrologers Jung was reading and what he learned from them. That would be an interesting area to explore too because obviously, I think there’s going to be a two-way relationship here. We’ve been concerned mostly with the way Jungian ideas have influenced astrology, but on the other hand, astrology no doubt influenced Jungian psychology too.
CB: Right. Yeah, I’m really excited about those books. I think they were supposed to come out last month, and I just got a notification that they’re finally being shipped. Although a few of my friends in the UK already got theirs. Have you gotten yours yet?
KLG: I haven’t yet. I had communication with Liz last year, and I think she said February. Yeah, I think February was the date that she gave me. So I’m glad to hear that that’s in the pipeline.
CB: Yeah. I’m hoping at one point, once I get the books, to maybe interview her because I’m curious about that. In your book, I was able to see some of the sources that Jung drew on, and I know he was drawing on some contemporary scholarship on ancient astrology. He cites Bouché-Leclercq’s L’astrologie grecque at one point, which still today is seen as the main academic treatment on the history of Greco-Roman astrology that was published in 1899.
CB: And he would have picked up some of the Pythagorean stuff with the aspect doctrine there, but I’m curious to see what else he had access to, which hopefully Liz Greene will talk about in her book.
KLG: Yeah, I will tune in for that one, certainly.
CB: Definitely. All right, we’re finally there after 2-hours-and-20-some-odd-minutes I think to the seventh conceptualization of astrology that Jung eventually entertained. I think you argue in your book that this came to be his final and primary conceptualization, is that correct, which is astrology as synchronicity?
KLG: Yeah. Again, it’s not that Jung makes this explicit as an explanation of astrology. It’s an explanation of synchronicity, which by inference one can apply to astrology, so I just want to make that clear. While I don’t think it’s a creative mash of Jung, but I try to use what’s there in Jung to present, to my mind, a more satisfactory, more cogent explanation in terms of Jung’s own concepts.
Actually part of my motivation for wanting to do this book was to do that very thing, to allow a reader to see how Jungian ideas could support the kind of explanation of astrology that he articulates in this seventh section; so it’s kind of a ‘pulling it all together’ explanation. And it’s not a simple one to follow—so I encourage your listeners to go away and study what Jung said directly—but basically it’s this idea that Synchronicity I in Maggie Hyde’s scheme, the idea that synchronicity is not just specific instances where meaning breaks through or is divined, but is an explanatory principle that is on par almost with causality; it’s another kind of explanatory principle like causality.
So Jung introduces this idea of what he calls an ‘acausal, general-orderedness’ saying that synchronicity is an expression of this underlying principle of order, a general acausal orderedness that seems to run through reality. So this goes hand-in-hand then with this idea of this underlying order, with the idea that reality is a Unus Mundus, a single, undivided whole. And it’s connected to another idea that Jung put forward—that is that there’s what he calls a ‘transcendental psychophysical background to reality’; a transcendental psychophysical background.
So what I do is pull these various little streams together to try to show how there’s an explanation of astrology here. So there’s this idea that there’s an underlying background to reality, a psychophysical background, and that this reality, this background order or ground has its own underlying order. There’s an order intrinsic to reality, and then this underlying order manifests as the physical world, the universe, and the psyche; and it’s kind of each moment bringing forth the order into a sequence of temporal moments. It creates the phenomenal world moment by moment.
So it’s the idea really of the unconscious that’s this creative matrix or ground that has an intrinsic order, and then the order manifests, as I said, as the universe and the psyche moment to moment. Now if that’s the case, then it could be that the order of planetary configurations that we study in astrology and the order of archetypes in the psyche are in fact expressions of one-and-the-same underlying transcendental order.
So that I think is where Jung’s late speculations lead him towards. But again, he comes to this through synchronicity. He doesn’t really apply it to astrology, he just kind of hints in that direction, but this explanation draws on the idea of astrology as synchronicity. It’s related to the first category of explanation, the ancient view of the Cosmic Psyche, ‘the sympathy of all things’, correspondence, the microcosm-macrocosm relationship, and so forth. It draws on this idea that moments in time have certain archetypal qualities or are patterned by certain archetypal qualities.
It also draws on the idea of numerical archetypes as being intrinsic somehow to this underlying order. And so, I think you can see how there are elements in these various explanations that Jung proffers over the course of his life that come together in this seventh category, but it certainly requires a close reading.
I think I make the comment in my introduction to that part that it kind of strains the powers of comprehension to really get what Jung means here, that this is what he seemed to be groping towards.
CB: Sure. It’s not something that he ever really fully articulated in that he didn’t like write a book about astrology and synchronicity, but he, through his various writings, sort of hinted at this notion of astrology working through a sort of consistent acausal parallelism or correspondence. And that idea of it being acausal is important because that is then contrasted with a causal view of astrology where the planets are directly or indirectly influencing life on Earth. In this conceptualization, the planets do not influence or cause events to happen, but they’re instead just mirroring them or acting in parallel or in unison with them.
KLG: Yeah, I think it’s the idea that the planetary configurations are kind of a symbolic, physical manifestation of the depths of the psyche, and so, they’re connected to the archetypes. The same order that is present in the depths of the collective unconscious, I think we can see a physical manifestation of that in the order that’s presented to us in the heavens. And this is an idea I pursue in The Archetypal Cosmos with the help of Jung and with the help of certain perspectives in the new paradigm sciences, but that’s a conversation for another day.
CB: Sure. Yeah, definitely, I’d like to follow-up on that. But one of the important points here—especially in the direction that astrologers later took it—is the idea that this is consistent. So it’s unique, or as applied to astrology becomes a unique form of synchronicity or application of synchronicity because it’s not most of the time a one-off, or a spontaneous or unexpected event necessarily. But instead, it’s something that’s happening more consistently out there in terms of the planets mirroring what’s happening in individual lives or on Earth rather than something that’s spontaneous or not happening regularly, right?
KLG: Yeah. I mean, it’s the idea that there’s an objective order that is somewhat independent of human consciousness, if I could put it in those terms. Whereas if you think back to the other side of synchronicity that comes out of the subjective participation in particular moments that are revealed through a sudden emergence of a synchronistic episode, or in divination, and so forth, this idea, as you just said there is that synchronicity or a general acausal orderedness is an explanatory principle that tries to account for the existence of some kind of consistent and coherent correspondence between the inner world and the outer world.
And astrology seems to rest on that kind of more-or-less permanent synchronicity, that the planets are always in relationship to the archetypes and the unconscious. If Saturn and Pluto, the planets, are in alignment, then the Saturn archetype to do with the old, the senex, shadow, inferiority, and the Pluto archetype to do with the underworld and death/rebirth, power drives, and so forth come into interrelationship because they are reflections of one-and-the-same order (i.e., the order that gives rise to the positions of the planet Saturn and the planet Pluto is the same order that gives rise to the coming together of the Saturn archetype and the Pluto archetype). It’s the kind of idea that there’s this more-or-less permanent, constant correspondence between inner and outer, and that the planets and the archetypes are part of that correspondence.
CB: Right. And so, this in modern times is important because then it side steps the issue of their not being a known physical force or mechanism whereby the planets or stars or other celestial bodies could literally directly or indirectly affect things that would account for the number of things that astrologers say that astrology can do or is capable of telling about your life. But instead, it becomes sort of an explanation about how the movements of the planets and the stars could symbolically and sort of instantaneously be relevant in some way, in terms of depicting and describing and being useful in order to talk about what’s happening on Earth or what’s happening in a person’s psyche.
KLG: Yeah, yeah, that’s well-summarized. Yeah, it moves beyond the causal explanation in presenting this idea that there’s some kind of deeper connection between the cosmos and the psyche that is pre-given; it’s a priori. The nature of our reality is such that there is this symbolic correspondence between the heavens and the depths of the psyche.
I’m quite fond of this line from Joseph Campbell, “Our depths are the depths of space.” I use that to open one of the chapters in The Archetypal Cosmos. “The seat of the soul is there where the inner world and the outer world meet,” is another quote that I use. I think a lot of thinkers, certainly thinkers that I’ve referenced seem to have identified something like this correspondence that rests on an underlying unity to reality; a unity that we’ve lost because we exist in our often Cartesian world, within our separate egos, are scientifically-trained view of reality. And this view in many ways contradicts that and requires a different kind of worldview and perception of just what reality is.
CB: Right. And that’s so crucial because of, as we said at the beginning of this show, somebody coming in from outside of the astrological community could hear of the concept of astrology and then just immediately reject ever exploring it on the basis of saying that’s not even possible within the context of any sort of current scientific thinking, in terms of gravity not being strong enough, or the other forces also being too weak to exert that sort of action at a distance.
And this is an explanatory—it’s sort of the answer of the astrological community, or the attempt to articulate the answer that the astrologers have had for thousands of years in terms of how astrology is working and why it can work, which is introducing a completely different property to the universe that otherwise hasn’t been articulated up to this point, but is almost necessary in order to understand how astrology can do what it does.
And once you understand it, it can then sort of explain how some techniques could even be viable, or why you would be able to look symbolically at certain things that otherwise are just apparent phenomena, like even Mercury retrograde or something like that, which is an apparent phenomenon from our standpoint or vantage point here on Earth. It’s not that Mercury is actually moving backwards in the solar system at those points in time, but instead it’s just an apparent phenomenon and could still be symbolically-relevant.
KLG: Yeah, yeah, I think that’s right. I think the whole idea or the whole project of trying to address the theoretical basis of astrology is one important element if astrology is to achieve greater recognition and acceptance, which I think we hope we will because it’s for too long been on the outside of the paradigmatic boundaries of academic discourse and eschewed by science, and so forth.
I think that if there is a more plausible explanation theoretically of astrology and that can be presented alongside empirical evidence of the kind Rick Tarnas has presented in Cosmos and Psyche and other studies by other astrologers and in the Archai journal, I think then you can start to build a more compelling case. Clearly, there are some people who are not going to be persuaded. But I think for those people who are seeking deeper meaning in life, I think astrology caters to that.
To bring this back to the idea of individuation and the self, a key part of that, as I mentioned, the key part of individuation is tapping into, how does my life fit into the larger scheme of cosmic meaning? And how do I live in a way that’s aligned with what the self, or the Tao wants me to do? And I think astrology, along with synchronicity and along with other practices such as dream studies, can be a really valuable help in that endeavor.
So I think it’s important today when many people have lost or are not persuaded by traditional religions. In many ways, we live in a post-Christian era in the West, and people are searching for spiritual meaning and guidance and orientation, existential orientation. And where are they going to go for that if the only narrative is secular consumerist society and material science, and so forth? That doesn’t really cater to the needs of the soul.
And so, I think something like astrology, synchronicity, and other practices can be really helpful for people who are trying to find their own way and are no longer held and guided by a traditional myth or religious framework; they’re trying to find their own way to individuate. And yet, here’s a means, using astrology, to understand, how am I directly related to the archetypes? Astrology is a kind of map or portrait of what the archetypes are doing at particular moments. So I think therein lies its value.
CB: Sure. And because it fundamentally posits that meaning is not just subjective and internal, but meaning may actually exist externally in the cosmos itself, and the cosmos might be relating back to individual lives and reflecting some sense of meaning in this weird way.
KLG: Yeah, yeah, that’s right.
CB: All right, brilliant. Well, yeah, I think that might be a good stopping point here. So there’s a whole other direction, where at some point I hope we can follow-up on this and do a follow-up discussion, which is how you’ve tried to incorporate some of Jung’s theories of synchronicity and incorporate them into the thinking of other modern or contemporary philosophers and scholars who have been working in other fields and in other areas in order to create a sort of holistic explanation in some way for how astrology works and what the nature of the cosmos is, if this is a legitimate phenomenon. And that’s really the subject of the past few books that you’ve written, right?
KLG: Well, the first book especially, The Archetypal Cosmos. I’ve written two books on astrology. The Archetypal Cosmos emerged from a dissertation; and my dissertation, the subtitle was A Theoretical Synthesis of Jungian Psychology in the New Paradigm Sciences. So I draw on the ideas of people such as physicists David Bohm, Fritjof Capra; Sheldrake who’s a biologist who developed a theory of what he calls ‘morphic resonance of formative causation’. I reference Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the famous Jesuit paleontologist in the 1950s who wrote a lot on evolution in relation to Christianity. And then the work of Brian Swimme, contemporary cosmologist, and Rick Tarnas of course, as well as Jung.
So yeah, it’s an attempt to synthesize many what seem to me to be compatible ideas in the hope of trying to articulate a more coherent worldview in which astrology makes more sense. So yeah, I’d love to come back and talk about that some other time.
CB: Brilliant. And we were also talking before we started recording about your other book, which is titled Discovering Eris, which was not just on the recent discovery of that planet and the attempt on the part of astrologers and yourself to determine what it means astrologically. But also, you said that you did sort of like a meta-review and tried to outline a specific approach or articulate an approach for how astrologers derive meaning from planetary bodies and newly-discovered planetary bodies, right?
KLG: Yeah, yeah. I mean, this is relevant to an understanding of synchronicity and synchronicity’s place in astrology because many astrologers I think have made reference to the fact that historical events seem to mirror the nature of the planet at the time that it was discovered (i.e., the French Revolution occurring alongside the discovery of Uranus, and Uranus being thematically-connected to revolution, that kind of idea).
So yeah, I mean, I began the Eris book in 2007. It was originally a term paper and then it grew inordinately large, so it became a monograph. But yeah, I was curious to try to understand what Eris might mean, and to do that I thought, well, let’s look at the ways that astrologers have discovered the meanings of other planets and what are the principles we can use: like looking at the myth involving Pluto, for example; or the Prometheus myth with Uranus; Neptune is Poseidon, the ruler of the seas, and so forth.
So that’s one approach. Another one was to look at historical synchronicities, as I just mentioned. So I looked at what was happening around 2006 over a span of, I don’t know, 10 years, something like that, to see if I could discern anything that was unique archetypally to that moment in history that might have a connection to Eris. So I think in the end I identified six principles, so yeah, I’d happily come back to talk about that book as well.
CB: Brilliant. Yeah, I think both of those would be great follow-up discussions to have since they’re very much tied into synchronicity and its application to modern astrology in a theoretical context, in terms of figuring out what its implications are, how it explains astrology, and what its implications for the cosmos are; but also, in a practical sense, how astrologers actually work with synchronicity and use its application in astrology in order to do things practically, like study and develop an understanding of what certain planets mean.
KLG: Yeah, yeah.
CB: Cool. All right, well, thanks a lot for joining me today. I thought this went really well, and I think we covered all of the main points that I wanted to touch on in terms of synchronicity. Is there anything else that you wanted to mention about that, or about the book, Jung on Astrology, before we wrap up today?
KLG: No. Obviously, you’ve heard me speak about it, but it’s better I think to read Jung directly. That was the hope when Safron and I began work on the book, that we wanted to give Jung a chance to speak for himself. So I encourage you, if you have interest in this area, to read Jung for yourselves.
I’ve given something of my interpretation of Jung here, so it might be that in returning to Jung, you see a different angle. So I think that’s why it’s important to go to the primary source here if you can. So no, that’s everything. Thank you, Chris, for your wonderful questions and commentary. It’s been really a pleasure to be on the show, and I do hope I can return one day to talk about another topic.
CB: Definitely. Well, thank you for authoring this book. I mean, I think this was a landmark book, and I’m glad that you did it because it was much needed. Because like you said, there wasn’t any collection of just all of Jung’s writings and thoughts on astrology until this, and I think it’ll make a big difference going forward in terms of people being able to access that and read his writings for themselves and then develop their own thoughts on it, in addition to your really useful commentary and everything in the process. Yeah, so thanks a lot for joining me today.
KLG: Thank you. All the best.
CB: All right, and thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.