The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 48, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Mark Jones
Episode originally released on October 7, 2015
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 Gulsen Altay and Andrea Johnson
Transcription released September 29, 2019
Copyright © 2019 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Wednesday, October 7, 2015, sometime after 2:00 PM here in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 48th episode of the show.
In this episode, I’m going to be talking with astrologer Mark Jones about fate and free will, how these concepts relate to astrology, and different debates astrologers have over the extent to which things are predetermined. You can find out more information about Mark through his website at PlutoSchool.com.
For more information about subscribing to the podcast, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/ subscribe. This podcast is made possible by listeners of the show who pledge their support through Patreon. If you enjoy the show and you’d like to support the production of future episodes then please consider donating a dollar or more through Patreon, and in return you’ll get access to some great subscriber benefits such as access to a private discussion forum, early access to new episodes, the opportunity to take part in one of our live monthly episode recordings and more. Let’s get started with today’s topic by welcoming my co-host.
Hi, Mark. Welcome back to the show.
MARK JONES: Hi, Chris. Good to be back.
CB: All right. I wanted to start our discussion on fate, free will, and astrology with what I personally think is kind of a controversial statement that I’ve been making for a few years in order to counter what I sometimes perceive as almost an overemphasis on free will to the detriment of the concept of fate in astrology.
Here’s the statement. There’s no real approach to astrology that involves us having 100% free will because the basic premise of astrology is that there is something about our lives that is predetermined, however broadly-speaking that may be.
So the premise is that, especially, let’s say, within the context of natal astrology, you’re saying that the alignment of the planets at the moment of a person’s birth have something to say about who they will become in the future either as a teenager or an adult or what have you. You’re saying either something about their personality or the events in their life–based on nothing else but the alignment of the planets at the moment of their birth–and that seems to imply then, to me, that there’s some notion of predetermination that’s built into the basic premise of astrology.
How do you feel about that? How does that sit with you? Do you agree with that? Does that make you feel uneasy in some sense? How does that strike you?
MJ: Well, I think you’ve identified the radical nature of astrology. I mean, that is the implication of astrology on some level, isn’t it?
CB: Right. From an outsider’s perspective, I don’t think that this is like a shocking thing to assert. But I get the sense sometimes that from an insider’s perspective, because of the desire to–especially in contemporary or late 20th century–reassert free will as a basic fundamental component of astrology that in some instances maybe it went too far in almost trying to get rid of the idea of fate in some quarters.
And so, I guess that was I was trying to reassert this in order for astrologers perhaps to readjust our perception or recognize what we’re actually doing in some sense, which is making assumptions about a person’s future based on the moment they were born, and thus implicitly adopting some sort of loosely-deterministic premise. But I guess the real point of the argument then is how far does that go?
Is everything completely predetermined from the moment of birth, or are things only ‘partially’ predetermined from the moment of birth? Where do you personally come down on that issue?
MJ: Well, I approach the whole issue here–which to me has to do with meaning fundamentally–from a slightly different vantage point. I mean, I agree with you that it’s fundamental to the meaning of astrology that the natal chart means something. Like a seed or an acorn means something to an oak tree, there must be unfolded potential within the natal chart. What else are we exploring or examining?
There is some intense symbolic correspondence between the symbolic picture of the sky at the moment you were born. It’s not a literal, spatially-accurate picture as the sidereal and Vedic people would joyously point out at a dinner, perhaps at a conference, “We’re 23 degrees askew literally.” It’s not about a literal meaning, per se. This is where one has to get into levels of meaning to fully understand what’s involved, at least from my point of view.
I agree with you. It’s the radical meaning of astrology that the natal chart implies this unfolded potential, that like an acorn contains a great tree in potential. The word ‘predetermination’ versus free will from one vantage point is like a happening to a self, a personality self, or an ‘I’ das ich as Freud would call it, the ‘I’. I’m not sure, that becomes very complex, whereas I like the word ‘fate’. The word ‘fate’ is evocative to me–surprise.
CB: Oh, so you’re okay with fate.
MJ: I prefer the word ‘fate’ to the word ‘predetermined’, yes. I think one could distinguish between the two quite interestingly. It could be quite a subtle meditation on what is different between fate and predetermination. You could argue that fate involves an incursion of another level of meaning. You could argue that fate involves, for example, the transpersonal or a deeper level of meaning incarnating within the personal human that is experienced.
So something that’s experienced as if it’s fated, as if it was always meant to happen is actually a different qualitative realm of being incarnating into the narrative of the personal self. Having that degree of impact, you meet a certain person, you know you love that person you meet.
I, myself, am going to be married in a few weeks. Right early on, in the early dates, there was this hovering sense of significance about this person I had met 16 years ago, even though we were both in our 20s, and she in particular was very young. This sense of talking and having this sense of the significance, the gravitas of the encounter, that’s partly you could argue a fated or predetermined thing.
I wouldn’t disagree that it was a fated or predetermined meeting. But you could also argue that’s the descent of a qualitative dimension, where from a deeper aspect of the psyche, a sense of meaning descends into the personal reality and that that qualitative dimension accompanies this analysis of this contemplation of fate or what fate is.
The thing I don’t like about predetermination, Chris, and maybe you can clarify this to me, I just do not like simplistic biological determinism or scientific materialism. I am not with Richard Dawkins and The Selfish Gene. I am not with Sam Harris, who a friend of mine recommended I read recently. I read a book of his on Free Will which I was very disappointed with really; a very slim volume that dismisses eons of philosophical, spiritual, and existential inquiry in order to offer a primitive biological determinism, that because studies show that the brain responds to stimuli before they happen, everything’s predetermined. That’s not the conclusion that I draw from that set of data.
So I don’t like these simplistic attempts to reduce human life to a single lens, something that James Hillman, the archetypal psychologist, would have called ‘the sin of literalism’; being so concerned to see something so acutely that you actually blind yourself to every other level of meaning. Having said that, that’s perhaps not what we mean by predetermination. We describe this sense of significant events or significant fated encounters, they’re somehow embedded in the chart, and therefore, what, by implication, in the human being itself?
Do you see the chart as somehow separate from the human being? If we’re going to say that a natal chart has this encoded oak within the acorn of its potential, do we say a natal chart is just a spacetime moment? As someone said to me recently, it could be Jesus in the manger in a spacetime chart, or it could be a cockroach that was born in the manger at that exact same moment. The chart only represents a symbolic event in spacetime. It does not represent a quality of being in and of itself.
Does that influence or change anything? Is everything literally encoded in the chart in a linear, determined way for you, would you say? We’re into complex territory. I’m aware that every time we talk about any of these subject areas, we’re opening up a whole potential can of worms.
CB: Yeah, and I’m fine with this being our preliminary or first in a series of discussions on this topic since it is such a big issue. I think you raise a really important and interesting point right at the beginning of what you were just saying there. There’s a version of fate that especially was originally associated with the Stoics but later other philosophical schools as well, but it’s the notion that fate coincides with and is the same as providence.
So this notion of a providential arranging of events for a meaning or for a purpose, that’s like a version of fate that exists out there that’s probably the more positive one in some sense. That’s also the version of fate that gives you sometimes the positive events of fate–you being in the right place at the right time in order to meet the person who’s the love of your life or what have you–the notion that fate is not this external, mechanistic thing that’s just arranging things potentially in a negative way, but instead is like the positive narrative of one’s life that’s leading one to their destiny in some sense.
And that raises the other point that you brought up which is really important, which is that fate often gets framed only in a negative sense. People object to the idea of fate or a completely fated cosmos under the premise that all negative events, or some negative or terrible or tragic or otherwise misfortunate event that befalls a person there’s nothing that they can do to get out of that or to avoid it. But by the same token, within that model of the universe that would be true of positive things as well so that some fated things would be positive. You’re fated to meet the love of your life, or, let’s say, somebody is fated to become the president or the prime minister of a country or something like that, that’s their destiny.
MJ: This is an interesting word ‘destiny’ for me. To me, there’s already an implied psychological shift here to recognize fate on one level as one thing, to embrace it and make it your destiny as another thing. You meet the love of your life, or you’re invited to run for president and maybe even you win, but what you make of that is still a process, the incursion of meaning; I would rather look at fate like that.
I would introduce, as it were, a vertical dimension to fate that it’s as if a descent of a certain qualitative dimension of being, a deepening occurs under certain situations. Even traumatic events can induce in people–and this is my experience as a psychotherapist–a deepening over time, outrageously hard though it might be. And I would not wish to draw any simplistic conclusions from suffering of that depth, childhood abuse or intense traumatic experience. Having said that, people who can stay with those experiences often experience a tremendous deepening.
So you have this qualitative dimension that it’s not just about a linear discussion of how does the cosmos work. And for me, we can extrapolate another level from this as well; there is a meta-narrative here. How does the universe work? That’s what we’re asking. What does life mean? When you’re engaging with fate and free will, you’re basically asking what’s the purpose of a human life.
MJ: What’s the meaning of life?
CB: Is there meaning?
MJ: Exactly, is there even. Yes, very good. I doubt you and I are going to convincingly just answer that in some way that’s universally applicable tonight, but we can draw some conclusions that this is a psychologically important question that is a psychologically meaningful question.
And just like you feel the fated aspect needs to be included and that looking at things only from the point of view of free will can become too limited, we must also say it can become way too limited, too quickly to go too far into the predetermined view, at least psychologically. It really behooves a man and woman to feel like their will, and their intensity, and their passion, and their life mean something.
MJ: Yeah. If Martin Luther King had just believed in a completely fated, predetermined world where you just accepted, as it were, ‘the bondage of reality’, would he have stood up against overt bondage? We can turn this and say Martin Luther King was fated to do that–clearly, on some level, he was–or you could say it wouldn’t have happened. But if he hadn’t felt within him the existential and moral and psychological and spiritual impulse to love his fellow human in an inclusive way and to act upon it, to have the courage and integrity to act upon it, then certain very momentous things may not have occurred in the world.
So we have to note that psychologically it becomes very important to include a degree of acknowledgement of the significance of the human will, whatever cosmic meanings we extrapolate on the meta-level of this discussion. People who feel that there’s nothing they can do about their problems often sinked into very serious depressive or chronically anxious states of being, and this is just not helpful, is it?
So even if one was feeling terribly cynical about the larger universal perspective, one would have to say that it’s psychologically healthier to believe in a degree of free will in your life and volition and meaning; that your intensity, that your intention, and your deepest values, and your ability to act on them count for something in the world. And I’ve found it’s a massive evolutionary step for people when they just go for being a piece of flotsam or jetsam on the waves of reality to recognizing that they have some volitional power within the direction of their little ship in the ocean of life. It’s a turning point often for people in terms of their happiness and sense of meaning.
CB: The position that I’ve taken for a large part of the last decade is that even hypothetically, if everything was predetermined, you still would have to act and behave as if it wasn’t and as if your actions made a difference. There’s a large part of things that are going to occur in your life that are not going to occur without your taking action in order to achieve them, and just because things are predetermined that doesn’t take human volition out of the picture.
In fact, even in ancient philosophy, even in the most hardcore or deterministic philosophical models like with the Stoics, their model was not that fate was just this external force that’s pushing to make you do something regardless of what your personal choices or volition is. Instead, they had this twofold model of fate where they had a concept of ‘external’ fate but they also had a concept of ‘internal’ fate. So fate was not just this external force but it was also something that worked from inside of us and shaped our very personalities, and our characters, and our predispositions towards what types of actions we would want to take and what types of actions we would take at different points in our life.
They used this analogy of a cylinder being at the top of a hill and somebody comes along one day and they give the cylinder a push, and then the cylinder precedes to roll down the hill because that its internal disposition. It’s cylindrical, and it’s prone towards rolling, and it received that external impetus to roll at that point. But if it was not for the fact that it was already like that, shaped in that way and predisposed towards rolling, it would not continue to roll down the hill.
And likewise, philosophically, that’s kind of applicable to astrology where people have external events that come along and trigger things or put them in certain situations at different points in their life; we could say that perhaps that’s something like transits like. An external circumstance, or person, or event occurs that sets off something in a person’s life, but then they have their own internal disposition, and character, and personality, and other things that are going to predispose them towards acting in a certain way when met with certain external stimuli.
Even though they make choices at that point and they take actions based on their character, to the extent that their character is something that might be inborn or derived from the astrology, or at least reflected by the astrology, there’s this question of is even your character and your internal predispositions, and therefore your actions in some sense also predetermined in some way.
MJ: It’s neat, isn’t it, on some level astrologically, transits being the external form and then the internal progressions perhaps, or the way the natal chart moves as its own clock. I remember my early astrology classes teaching transit activity as like ‘the clock of the sky’ and then progressions and solar arc directions as the internal clock of the chart ticking around. It’s nice, it’s neat. It’s too neat on one level, but I like the fact that the Stoics introduced this point. I mean, it’s clear in my acorn metaphor. An acorn leads to an oak, a different seed leads to a different tree, or a different bush, or a different flower.
And here we come into very complex notions. Clearly, one whole direction we could go here would be to look at, as it were, karma, the complex question of karma. Because when you’re talking about a particular seed leading to a particular fruit, for me, you’ve gone into the classic realm of the highest forms of Indian philosophy really and in the Christian terms, “By their fruits shall you know them.” But the ground that you come into and the particular seeds that you choose to sow is linked to a complex, karmic narrative from that philosophical tradition.
You could ally it in the biological scientific system to genetics and epigenetics, and this is where even biological determinists are having to rewrite their theories. Previously, the fantasy was if we can decode the genome, the human genome, and find all the different DNA and RNA signatures, we’d somehow understand reality. Just like the Newtonian fantasy that if you understood every particle in the universe and the way it was moving, you could somehow predict the future–the clockwork fantasy of reality, or Laplace’s ‘demon’ as it was called; the super intelligent creature that knew everything, where it is at every point and therefore can somehow know entirely the future–quantum indeterminacy has shown the Victorian fantasy that that was in many ways.
Epigenetics has shown the fantasy that biological determinism is on one level in that it takes environmental triggers to adapt certain genetic responses regardless of the hardwiring. Some of them will only switch on under certain environmental triggers; certain seeds of potential within you will only grow under certain circumstances. A child might be born with a brilliant capacity for music. If they’re never exposed to music that might not emerge. Or they might be brilliant mathematically, but if they grow up as a peasant farmer in a culture that knows no such tradition, it may not emerge.
Coming to this complex discussion, why are people born into these circumstances? Why is Mozart a child genius and someone else isn’t? Or even more particularly, why is one person abused and treated terribly, and they grow up and they abuse their children and treat them terribly, and someone else is abused in very similar circumstances and just as terribly and they grow up, and they have some satori one night, some awakening, stood there in front of the mirror and they vow to themselves they will never harm their child like they were harmed?
What is that? Where is this capacity to change the previous chain of being that seems to have gone on for endless cycles? There are whole family systems where one parent abuses a child, the next generation of children abuse the next generation. It goes on to generations and someone stands up and says, “No, this could be different.’”
CB: As an astrologer, you usually say that there’s some astrological thing either in the chart or in the transits or what have you that coincides with those transformational shifts when a person makes the decision to do that, right? And if that’s true, does that mean even those shifts of making that volitional change to break with the past, are those predetermined?
MJ: Well, this is where it’s interesting. Let’s say, you, Chris Brennan, the great Chris Brennan discovers a formula for pattern-breaking, as I call it. I call this the ‘pattern-breaker’, the person that breaks the chain of violence or abuse.
Let’s say you discover a complex series of interactions between the Jupiter cycle, Saturn being in a certain phase and, I don’t know, some Uranus series of transits that are possible within a certain parameter that might lead to these things. I bet if you looked back through the generations of some family where this has gone on for six or seven generations, you would find other moments when those set of conditions came together, but the person…
CB: But they weren’t actualized.
MJ: Yeah, exactly. The person that they occurred upon or within, or the person who was within that occurrence, within the cosmos, the psyche of that person just simply was too blinded by hurt, too blinded by vengeance, was not able to. You could call it a close flyby. This angelic or higher intelligence or this other possibility brushed by them–almost like you feel the wing on the cheek–and yet was not noticed in the cycle of tears and violence.
And that’s where it becomes really interesting, to fail to recognize the spark of human ingenuity, to fail to recognize in Socrates’ terms, the daemonic, the spark of indwelling genius, the contact that can be made if the person is still enough, if the person is dedicated enough. It misses something vital about life.
Now you could turn it around. This is why purely intellectually the fate and free will argument can never be answered on a purely intellectual level because you can just say Socrates was fated to have that insight. You can just say that simplistically; it becomes almost tautological in the end. You can say anything and then go, “But it’s fated to be like that.” You could even say it’s a ‘free will’ universe, but it was fated to be a ‘free will’ universe; it just goes around.
CB: An argument that comes up oftentimes is, for example, modern astrologers will look at something like the Saturn return and you’ll see very clearly some people hit that transit and it being an important turning point in their life, and then having a choice to make in terms of getting certain things under control in their life–growing up and going to the next level–or at least in terms of the things that are within their control in their life, and let’s say, failing to do that, failing to make the necessary changes or restructuring or readjustment at that time and falling under hardship as a result of that.
A lot of the dialogue in 1970s and 1980s astrology was pointing to that and saying that they’re both having the same transit, which is a Saturn return, but there’s different outcomes, and therefore that’s where free will comes in, and free will becomes this catchall answer to why different people experience certain transits in different ways.
But one of the things I’ve noticed is incorporating other techniques that we didn’t know about a few decades ago like sect have made it so you can more easily see that people with day charts, for example, tend to experience their Saturn return more constructively and people with night charts sometimes tend to experience it as more challenging. That removes in many of those cases what was previously seen as a wildcard factor of free will, and it turns out that it was just an absence of certain techniques that could have told you astrologically which way it could’ve gone.
MJ: We have to be careful here. I think there’s two things going on. We have to be careful of the fantasy that through technique or insight we can explain reality in a total way. For me, this is Heisenberg. If you want, in linear-thinking terms, quantum mechanics has shown the Newtonian fantasy to be just that, a fantasy.
But we have to be careful in just human terms. It’s an egoic fantasy of control to want to be able to explain reality in some total way and therefore feel safe about it. It manages base anxiety about existence in a way; it’s an ego-led, mental project.
CB: It’s literally a criticism of astrology in general.
MJ: Exactly, and that’s the more radical implication of The Soul Speaks and my therapeutic analysis of astrology. We have to be very careful about the magician fantasy within it that explains everything purely through linear technique, purely through the mind and misses the human being, and misses the real richness of life.
But what I also hear going on here is a genuine concern of a sincere, morally-integroused, young man who felt that perhaps this free will wildcard was being bandied around in a sightly holier-than-thou, pompous, even judgmental way. This is a shadow of a certain personal, psychological, self-help, New Age, even spiritual viewpoint where people are blamed for bad things happening to them, or getting cancer and dying, as Ken Wilber found in the remarkable Grace and Grit about his life with his first wife Treya who died of cancer. The judgmentalism of some of their spiritual, New Age friends, it’s something wrong with Treya. It’s her issues because she hasn’t worked on them…
MJ: …now she’s going to suffer this. I think you naturally rail against that on a personal level. There’s something about you as a person that just senses that there’s something off about that, and you work assiduously and hard to find these narratives that expand on that in a way that doesn’t leave people feeling judged and humiliated on that kind of level, and I commend that. I think that’s entirely valid. I just think we have to keep it in check, this fantasy.
This is something that people don’t always perceive about my work, that it includes an intensely radical critique of some of the fundamental premises of astrology and not just one school of astrology, like ‘astrology astrology’. I said it in a keynote talk at NORWAC once, “If you see astrology on the highway, kill it,” which is a reworking of a Zen Buddhist phrase, “If you see the Buddha on a highway, kill him.” Don’t have idols. Don’t have these gods that you worship blindly.
Some of astrology’s premises, for me–what are potentially contemplative, deep questions like the fate/free will discussion we’re beginning to have here–are co-opted by the ego’s desire to have control over reality in the way that it kind of ‘hires’ the mind. It kind of pays the mind. It gives the mind payoffs for chasing that fantasy down and using its enormous abstract power to somehow explain reality to this ever more universal, ever more fantastical level, and somehow that will mean that our lives are meaningful, somehow that will give us control, somehow we will be safe because we can explain it all.
And I say, psychologically, in simple terms, that’s just not true. It’s just a bullshit fantasy, to be frank. It’s simply a kind of existential avoidance of the fundamental vulnerability of being a human creature.
CB: It raises a couple of points. One of them, just circling back, is this question, do the techniques that an astrologer uses impact their views on fate? I mean, if an astrologer uses certain techniques are they going to have one view of fate, and if an astrologer uses other techniques, are they going to have a different view of fate?
MJ: I think that’s true. I think that’s a very subtle question. I mean, that deserves a paper of its own in a way, but I think it surely would imply that they would, at least potentially. If your whole thing is sort of horary–just answering questions about certain things–or studying electional principles as opposed to the most ‘hippified’ fantasy you might have of someone like me studying a chart for human potential, the capacity for psychological maturity or growth, or to achieve their true potential, it’s surely implying a different working dynamic, isn’t it?
MJ: But reality is big enough to contain both of those and more: the mystery, the great mystery, the infinite totality of all that life is and has been and will ever be. The foreverness of life in all directions, forever without end is big enough to contain all the possible imprints of it, and this is where we realize another level.
There is something to the creation of your own reality story, however misinterpreted it’s been by films like The Secret, which pretend to be this great spiritual revelation, which is clearly nonsense. It talked about some practical manifestation dynamics, which in classic American fashion became a kind of ‘how to become a millionaire’ story, but it’s not a great spiritual revelation.
It seems to me that you have to come back to how vibrant life is, and how mysterious life is, and how vast it is, and how inclusive it is, and that it can contain all these different astrological paradigms and all these different people that have different relationships to fate and free will, and it transcends them all. And in the greatest moments of life, it would seem to me–moments like Gandhi’s march to stand for Indian freedom, or the enlightenment of the Buddha under the bodhi tree, or just some moment of significance in your own life when everything seems to fall into place and you know you have to love this particular person, or work as an astrologer or a healer in this particular way, or do this particular thing–fate and free will seem to come together in those moments. They’re not necessarily mutually exclusive, not from the human experiential point of view. Life seems to include them and transcend them.
You’ll forgive me for going mystical, if I talk about some of the moments where my soul has arisen in the face of the divine presence, when I have arisen and felt the edges of the power of the infinite totality of all that is, and I felt this overwhelming spontaneous love for it, that felt like an act of free will to give that love, and yet it felt utterly preordained, utterly fated.
It’s like what else would one do in the face of the totality, so naked, so alone before the vast alone? How else would you respond? There is no other response; no other response was possible. There are certain acts that transcend fate or free will. They are both given freely, utterly fated, and yet transcend them both.
And sometimes it seems to me, in the marketplace of modern humanity, choice is the great enemy. You can have 15 different cable channels, 6 different cop shows tonight. You’ve got a smartphone that could’ve taken you to the Moon and back in the ‘60s, the processing power, and someone’s playing Angry Birds or Tetris on it.
It is like choice, infinite choice in a marketplace sense becomes superficiality and certain deepenings in life come out of necessity. And I use that word specifically in the Greek sense, Ananke, that necessity is something that deepens you in response to the chosen burdens of your life. You are deepened by the gravitas of choosing certain commitments that also don’t feel like a choice paradoxically.
I would argue that the most profound human things are often a complex dance, like an alchemical fusion of fate and free will. It’s like fate and free getting it on; fate and free having sex or something. The greatest human experiences are a weird fusion of I utterly choose, I utterly assent to this, and yet it feels like it is totally beyond me. It’s totally significant in a way that’s beyond my choice. It’s like it’s happening of its own; it’s happening because it’s happening…
MJ: …and I’m just there. I’m just included within the largess of it just happening. And that’s a very complex mystery to me that I find myself articulating in this moment in perhaps even a slightly different way than I ever have done before.
It seems a complex mystery to me and that’s why the fate and free will debate–at least when it’s being held in genteel and considerate circumstances like between the two of us this evening–needs to lead beyond just the intellectual or philosophical discourse and include the overall human experience because just purely as an intellectual narrative it can’t be resolved.
The linear mind on its own cannot resolve the fate/free will paradox, just as the linear mind you could argue on its own can’t actually resolve reality in a very satisfying way; not on its own, not without heart, not without soul, not without the recognition of the mystery that is beyond the mind. And again, that’s something with perhaps radical implications on the field of astrology if people found that an interesting idea.
CB: Sure. So going back, you mentioned something briefly which was The Secret and the Law of Attraction…
CB: …which I think is important because that’s become–I don’t want to say dominant; it kind of has. It’s become a significant school almost in and of itself in the astrological community in terms of sort of a ‘free will’ banner that’s being taken up by some astrologers, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a recent thing. If you go back even to the 1960s, 1970s, if you look at a book like, let’s say, Robert Hand’s Planets in Transit…
CB: …he has this pretty common thing that he says several different times that I think he’s getting from Jung or getting from some of the Jungian trends that were emerging and being integrated into astrology at that point in the ‘70s. It was this idea that internal psychological dynamics that are not fully realized and worked out within the native’s psyche become projected and become externalized as external events in the person’s environment and life or in other people that the person attracts to themselves.
MJ: Yes, it’s a famous quote from Jung. The unconscious dynamics that are not realized are realized externally as fate. Yeah, that’s what he actually says.
CB: Okay, so that became a really mainstream thought in contemporary astrology over the past 30 or 40 years even before The Secret, and The Secret is obviously taking that to the next level and is taking it to its fullest extreme.
MJ: Yeah, yeah, I see, this is really important. And if I may be so bold, if I can come in, in this way, it’s important to realize the delusional aspect of The Secret, at least the movie. I have not read the book; the book might be slightly deeper. I know that the authoress wasn’t particularly happy with elements of the film. I watched the film. The film is not very good.
CB: Yeah, I fell asleep halfway through. I tried though.
MJ: Yeah, it’s awful. It’s a co-option of a potentially subtle and powerful idea into garbage, and that’s clearly a very dangerous thing. Almost feeling cynical, one could say that Sun sign columns in Cosmopolitan magazine–I’m sure someone’s going to turn around and tell me they’re a really quality astrologer that writes for some magazine, and I’m sure on some level they are, but it misses the point.
Reducing to the cliche of 1 of 12, as if you’ve got these 1 of 12 things and that means your week or month is going to be the same as someone else with that 1 of 12 in the great body of humanity just seems like nonsense to me. That’s what happens when you denigrate something as subtle as astrology into a simplistic form. Well, The Secret denigrated powerful insights to do with consciousness and turned it into a cheap and tawdry form…
MJ: …being completely co-opted, by the way, by the materialism of the modern American fantasy of life.
CB: Sure. You don’t have to defend The Secret, but let’s just say the pre-existing notion of externalizing internal things and attracting those to yourself.
MJ: Yes, well, this is the complexity of Jung, you see, the danger of approaching someone like Jung, naively or literally, without having engagement with, as it were, what Jung had undergone in himself and the context in which Jung said a certain thing. I can attest to this personally–rather than staying in some abstract discussion form–when people reach a certain point where they’re doing what I call withdrawing certain basic projections about the world or other people.
Those bits of basic projections might be, “The world owes me this,” or “My girlfriend (my boyfriend, my parent, my friends), they ought to take care of me. They ought to treat me this way because that’s the way I want to be treated.” And then it includes certain childhood fantasies like, “Mommy should have loved me like this, therefore everyone I now meet should have love me like this.” When you begin to withdraw that energy from the world, profound changes begin to occur to you psychologically, existentially, and then in terms of actual manifestation in your life.
It will radically change your life if you withdraw your projections from the world in that naive form. If you withdraw the psychodynamic fantasies that were built up in the early years of life, and you understand them consciously in the present, contemplatively as an adult, that will change your life including the way things happen to you, including the quality of relationships that you attract. I’ll give an example.
In a certain period of my practice, during my Pluto square, a series of young women in their mid-to-late 20s to early 30s came and worked with me, who essentially had never been alone. Because they were pretty young women, they would always have a boyfriend, and none these boyfriends ever worked out.
Upon exploration, all of these situations had some context in early childhood; the father had left the mother or a stepmother had come in and the way she treated her. All these different, unique stories–I’m not trying to collapse them all into one big puddle–but the common thread was early childhood experience creating some shard of unworthiness in these otherwise lovely, sociable, pretty young women where they would manifest these boyfriends, disappointing boyfriend situations, time and time again, over and over. And in almost every single case, when clearly explored in the context of therapy over a certain period of time, those people went on to more satisfying relationships.
It doesn’t mean all their lives panned out brilliantly or that their relationship was some rosy, Hollywood, beautiful rom-com every moment of every day, but the basic psychological block was shifted about why relationships, for example, would always end the same way, or boyfriends that would say one thing and two or three months later were clearly a completely different type of person and disappointed them.
So it has this psychological acuity to it–Jung’s point on a series of levels–but if you simplify it, if you just apply it like a linear context, and if you apply it in reverse and assume everything that happened to you is because of something going on in you…
MJ: …then you can become a paranoid wreck, and clearly many people in spiritual communities are a paranoid wreck. The simplest thing–someone cuts them off in traffic, “Why did it happen to me?”
I had a drummer in my band in my 20s, a French drummer, a lovely guy: 9th house Pluto, Uranus, very, very focused on religion and meaning. One time, our black cat called Faust was asleep on a doorway–he managed to fall asleep on the top of the door, in the arch on the kitchen door. I don’t know how he had fallen asleep there. This was a cat that used to like to fall asleep on my bass amp even when it was playing. That’s a 150-watt Marshall bass amp, and he would like to sit on it.
And this drummer kind of walks into the kitchen and opens the kitchen door clearly, and the cat falls on his head; he squeals, calls out. For ages, Jean-Marie would walk around the kitchen, “Why did this happen to me? Why? Why? Mark, you must look at my chart. Mark, you must talk about this, a black cat falling on my head.” It was like the great question of the night and for days to come why this thing had happened to him. This is the danger, the collapse if you ‘reverse mean’ what Jung said.
Jung was talking about powerful implications of the individuation process which was a qualitative expansion and deepening of your being, and within those terms, what he said makes sense. Simplified and abstracted from those terms–and particularly then try to become a universal catchall in reverse–it becomes quite dangerous to actually interpret the world.
I remember in the final stages of the Golden Dawn, from my reading, there’s something called the ipsissimus stage, the final stage; it’s one that Crowley fantasized he’d gone through. During this stage you were supposed to interpret everything that happened to you, even the most trivial things as if it was a direct message from God. I know that a few people went insane trying to follow that path. There’s clearly a danger of an inverse, heightened significance to everything. You know, sometimes stuff just happens.
I’ll say one more thing. So many implications open up, it’s hard to stay grounded. But the danger of course with astrology is when you say that a moment is like a tree ring, or it’s like going down and having ice cores from the Antarctic or something; you go 500 meters down and you’ve gone back thousands of years.
Looking into this slice of time like a natal chart and realizing the unfolded meaning within it we were talking about early on, you could hypothetically just want to look at charts all the time, wouldn’t you, explain reality all the time. So you’d be having a chart for this moment, the moment Chris and Mark have their fate and free will discussion. We’d be looking at that chart and saying, “Oh, my God! What the implications of that?”
CB: I am looking at the chart for that, by the way.
MJ: And perhaps that chart’s interesting, I hope it is, and it would be interesting to hear your perspective on it. But at the same time, clearly one could just be doing that ad infinitum, like one of those pictures where a painter is painting a picture in a mirror, an infinite regress. You could end up looking at charts all the time and not living your life and not participating in the flow of being because they are so abstractly interesting hypothetically.
To me, you have to be very selective. This radical power that you intuit I think is from what you said about predestination and the birth chart proving it’s not a 100% free will universe. Whether I agree with that extrapolation from it, I certainly agree that it’s radical what the birth chart implies, and I found that to be practically true.
An attorney the other day who had no interest in astrology, I looked at his chart with him. The very fact that I could say certain things about his mother and his life just from the chart blew his mind. The fact that there could be embedded significance like that changed his life. For weeks, he stopped worrying about why everything had happened to him the way it did; he’s come back. Anyway, what’s the chart for this moment like?
CB: It’s not that important. One of the points that you raised and that might be worth discussing is this question I’ve had and I’ve posed a little bit rhetorically. Could things still be completely predetermined even if astrology itself isn’t capable of fully describing everything about a person’s fate or a person’s life?
Essentially, the question boils down to is astrology itself an imperfect system, or is astrology is a perfect system, but there’s just too many variables for one astrologer to fully understand and know at any given time? This becomes an argument about the efficacy of astrology and the efficacy of astrologers in making, let’s say, predictions about what will take place in a person’s life.
We all know that there’s like a million charts that you could look at if you’re trying to do, let’s say, some kind of event-oriented astrology or predictive-oriented astrology, but there’s almost too many charts that are operative at any one time in a person’s life: their natal chart, there’s the relocated chart. And then there’s the chart for them and their spouse, or the chart for other family members or other people that they’re interacting with in their life and the synastry or the composite charts between them.
There’s the chart for the house that they live in. Even this podcast has a chart today which I’m sure we’re interacting with in some way during this very important discussion on fate and free will. There’s too many charts and other astrological variables going on at any one moment in time for any astrologer ever to fully be able to comprehend and take into account. And so…
CB: …as a result of that, even if hypothetically everything was completely predetermined, I think the general point that you’d have to come to is that it’s not possible for any astrologer to fully know and comprehend everything about a single person’s fate, and in that there is a sort of free will in just not knowing and not being able to know fully.
MJ: Brilliant. There is a freedom from the known, and this is inspiring to students of astrology as well who can project this fantasy that maybe even the likes of you and I–God help them–kind of know everything when we’re looking at a chart. Because it’s not just that astrology cannot work out reality–and it can’t–astrology is not a perfect system. But even to the extent that it is a perfect system, no one astrologer could ever contain all the variables and no computer program could either.
It’s also true that you can’t even read a chart fully. I mean, you could just try and spend your whole life reading one chart…
CB: And still only skim the surface of what’s there.
MJ: …and fall short at every implication, exactly. On one level, you could never exhaust it. That is part of the nature of life, again, it’s weird superabundance which is actually liberating when you get into the spirit of it. But clearly, it freaks out a part of the mind that would like to know everything.
I think this is extremely liberating insight. I mean, yes, I guess from one respective it limits the power of astrology, but from this perspective it also limits the power of biology, medicine, zoology, any form of -ology, any form of attempt to impose the mind’s abstract, comprehensive power to systematize reality, label it, conceptualize it. It falls short of describing the inexplicable, inexhaustible mystery of life.
So astrology just fails like many other scientific and philosophical disciplines fail. Hence, really the arts evolve towards poetry and music as the attempt to explain or refer to the inexplicable, but to do so symbolically rather than linear fashion because it can never be exhausted, it can never be described.
MJ: I think this is a liberating insight, and I think it helps liberate people to realize you don’t have to understand all of astrology. And in fact, on a practical level, if you’re seriously listening to this, wanting to be an astrologer, it’s extremely impractical to try and learn everything about astrology. It will not help you read charts. You’d be better off choosing to develop particular methods–Chris teaches something, I teach something, some other astrologers teach–that feel like it’s a fit for you and developing that till you’re good at it.
I mean, it’s actually dangerous, even if you’re interested in helping people or even just understanding your own family and friends and yourself. It’s actually dangerous to try and understand too much of astrology abstractly because it won’t help you read charts in a very coherent fashion. You have to develop your own way of choosing what’s right for you to deepen into.
MJ: There’s a freedom. There’s a weird freedom. Certainly, it’s a freedom. Whether it’s as simple as free will, certainly there’s a personal, existential freedom in recognizing the impossibility of knowing and therefore the permanent failure of astrology in the face of ultimate meaning.
CB: Yeah. While astrology is imperfect, still what it reveals does have startling implications for the nature of the universe…
CB: …and for issues like fate and free will, and it certainly does imply certain things even if the astrologer’s ability to fully understand them or predict them is not going to be 100%. I think this is interesting because you brought up materialistic or biological determinism and the movement in some quarters of the scientific and skeptical communities where the scientific and sceptical communities have coalesced with the atheism communities in contemporary, modern society, in 21st century, intellectual society.
I’ve been thinking it’s really interesting–especially after talking to Samuel Reynolds on my previous episode about astrology and science and then getting ready tomorrow to record part two of that which is on astrology and religion–just the issue of astrology and the way that it brings up some of these implications, and some of the things that it implies about the nature of the universe not being completely meaningless or purposeless, having a lack of purpose–that our lives via fate and via the notion that there are some things about our lives that are deliberate or purposeful or meaningful–be an interesting contrast to what Richard Tarnas or what some other people call the ‘disenchanted cosmos’.
The idea that the cosmos is just this mechanistic, billiard-ball-type situation that doesn’t have any real meaning or purpose, astrology provides an interesting contrast to that, but it does so interestingly through the idea that some things are predetermined in this sort of providential sense. There are some interesting ways in which I think astrology is going to interact with that prevailing mainstream sentiment when it comes to science and skepticism and atheism in the 21st century. It’ll be interesting to see how that works out in the long term.
MJ: Yes, I agree. I couldn’t agree more. It occurs to me that astrology may yet have an important philosophical, metaphysical, and even spiritual role in that dialogue, in that it does seem to imply intense purpose to me, that somehow the symbolic map of the moment that you’re born could reveal as much as it does.
Whatever the ultimate failings of astrology to explain everything, the natal chart in the right hands is an extraordinarily powerful tool. Where did this come from? Why? Why would it be there? If there weren’t these encoded levels of meaning in life, how would we be seeing these encoded levels of meaning within a symbolic picture of the night sky or the day sky when someone is born? How is that possible without that?
To me, it’s a very concerning situation that many of the great, bright minds of the contemporary world ally themselves with primitive existentialist philosophy, or intensely, consciously, willfully reductive philosophy; it’s a great shame. The phrase ‘disenchantment’ comes from the work of Max Weber who analyzed the rise of capitalism out of the work ethic and the spirit of Protestantism, and it’s a very interesting thesis of his with implications.
Once we threw away Christianity–which clearly had some dirty bath water–we threw away the baby too. If you don’t have the capacity to feel your life’s meaningful, if you don’t have the capacity to relate to a transcendent ideal, or a higher moral purpose, or some kind of principle of integrity then you reduce your life through your own consciousness. And some very fine people, some very bright, kind, moral people through a reductive intellectual stance, change within energetically from my point of view.
From my point of view, Chris, really on a personal level, I’ve been pretty frank on that level tonight with some mystical asides. People have a certain quality of light, and even some people who deny that such a light exists within a soul have that light because of their unconscious goodness, because of their morality and integrity. And whatever your philosophical position is ultimately–and you seem to identify with the Stoics at this point, and they seem like fairly clever chaps, as do you–you have a certain integrity which gives you a certain light from my point of view, otherwise I wouldn’t find it so interesting to talk to you in this way.
And yet, much of the modern movement in the intellectual life is to move away from the recognition of that, and then within that some people still have it, but it becomes somewhat dimmed through never paying it any attention. And then some people seem to lose it all together. I mean, you can even see in Richard Dawkins’ physical appearance these days, how this handsome, brilliant, young biologist has become strained and possessed by some sort of archetype that isn’t doing him any good.
To me, it’s the great danger of the human condition at this point–not to make any ultimate philosophical statement about it or play some religious card–but to turn away from the inherent light and creativity of the soul is extremely dangerous both individually and collectively. It is the potential selling out of that which is most valuable in the human condition, that the potential in a diamond is turned into cheap, plastic jewelry: tawdry, paste copies. And that’s one of the dangers of the modern experience: tremendous technological and intellectual prowess, lack of value, lack of meaning. It’s a very precarious situation; it’s a very profound point to explore.
Where does this light emanate from? Is it free, or is it fated? I don’t know. These are complex questions, and my best answer has been today to suggest both. But if astrology can play a part in recognizing this dynamism of being, this meaning encoded, I think that would be a wonderful thing. It certainly gives me an inspirational sense of what it means to be an astrologer.
CB: Yeah, I think I’m sympathetic to the modern, secular, scientific viewpoint because I would probably hold that view myself if not for astrology and some of the implications that it raised that I immediately was fascinated by when I stumbled upon the concept of natal astrology, and the implication that there might be some broader meaning or purpose in each individual’s life than one would think if one wasn’t aware of astrology in its more advanced forms.
MJ: That’s a gift from my point of view. What did astrology do but lead you down the rabbit hole, take the blue pill, or whatever color it was? It’s psychedelic, isn’t it, astrology, in its implications. Just the single point that you made right at the beginning, just what it is, that a natal chart could mean anything at all is a totally radical notion of psychedelic intensity and literally transcends purely linear notions of reality and causality. The fact that a natal chart could mean as much as it does alters reality, premises of reality, in and of itself.
CB: Right. I think that’s a great analogy, and unfortunately, it’s become overused in modern times. The idea from The Matrix of taking the red pill or the blue pill has taken other not-great meanings in recent times, but it’s actually a good analogy in terms of the potential that astrology presents.
In The Matrix itself, in the movie, the underlying realization that you had once you took the red pill, you take the red pill and what happens is that you choose to learn about the ultimate nature of reality. The ultimate nature of reality was that reality was a construct and that once you stepped outside of it, you could see the underlying code, and you could see that everything was this fabrication or was something that could be read separately.
It’s not a great analogy because The Matrix itself had a lot of other implications about other things, dragging in different religious and philosophical notions, but I always liked the analogy that The Matrix had. I saw it as a modern-day analogy that was used in ancient times, just the idea that astrology to some extent is showing you the code underlying reality. Even though everything seems to be working independently on its own, there’s some sort of underlying structure to it that’s tying things together and is providing and underlying structure or meaning that you might not be able to sense with just your normal sensory perception.
MJ: Astrology as the machine code.
CB: Yeah. In ancient times, in Mesopotamia, they used a very similar analogy where they said that astrology was the ‘heavenly writing’. The planets form a kind of script which gives messages from the gods or from the cosmos about things that were occurring either currently or presently or would occur in the future with respect to what was happening in the world. And so, even in ancient times, they almost had this conceptualization of a code that tells you what’s underlying reality and what the clockwork is underlying things.
MJ: Well, this is territory for a whole other discussion in a way. It’s like Jacob Boehme, isn’t it, The Signature of All Things. The ‘machine code’ metaphor, The Matrix-type metaphor takes it in that scientific direction, and clearly The Matrix had this sort of this dystopian and alien element to it too. A lot of these modern, sci-fi visions do because, for me, they fall short of the abyss created by the modern dilemma which Nietzsche wrestled with so profoundly.
In many ways, Nietzsche fell into the abyss that gazes back into you. After the death of God, how do you find higher meaning? Nietzsche was obsessed with higher meaning, but without the sacred or the divine, the struggle to stay with it. And this is part of the dystopian fantasy because you realize from one perspective that human life is a sort of game or charade, or like Shakespeare said, a play, where you strut and fret upon the stage.
In Indian terms, this was called maya, the great dance of illusion, or Indra’s net. It’s an incredibly complex, interwoven points of light of all the different interacting sentient forms of life in this sort of matrix basically. It kind of has a relationship to Indian philosophy and the Gita. Behind all of this, what is the substance from which the net is made? Or what is that which remains? What is the light, or what the Buddhists call sunyata? What is the shining, luminous emptiness that remains behind the net?
You see, it takes a big leap to go from the source code or the machine code into the emptiness to find the other emptiness, the shining, luminous emptiness that is empty of the code. It is empty of Indra’s net, is empty of the forms but is still presence, presence without content. And presence without content is the key to the underlying structure of reality from the point of view of the great spiritual traditions of the world, and to the extent of my limited experience, I find that a satisfying conclusion. That seems to correspond with the deepest experiences in this individual consciousness, at least.
Now that has an enormous implications as well, but it’s hard for the modern mind to make the leap. The modern mind begins to grasp the code–whether it be DNA and RNA, whether it be intelligent astrologers analyzing astrology and all these different modern and ancient techniques, or it be philosophers contemplating post-modernity, Nietzsche, Derrida, phenomenologists–but they fall short of the leap. You have to understand the charade, or the play, or the strutting and fretting, but also see the context in which the play takes place. And to me, that’s where a certain grace or mystery enters the element of fate and free will.
For me, one of the most interesting questions we talked about–and you seemed to go with me on it further than I thought you perhaps might–was that idea of Chris had then come up with the formula for pattern-breaking, or for why one person goes through difficult experiences, comes out and makes something of it and someone else doesn’t; whatever that formula was that I made up, something to do with the Jupiter and Saturn cycle, particularly Uranus transits or whatever.
CB: I mean, I agree to a certain extent. We didn’t fully touch upon one of the implications about levels of spiritual development as being relevant in terms of whether the person makes the choice to change or not.
MJ: Or just openness, even a moral dimension. But there’s also a mystery, isn’t it? There’s just a mystery. I contend, talk to anyone who’s done a lot of healing work or therapeutic work or whatever–whether they be a masseuse, or a therapist, or a Reiki practitioner–if you’ve just done thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of hours with hundreds and hundreds of people, they will have a story about the mystery. They will have a story about the unpredictable element, or the person that just sat down and they just knew they were going to respond–the client is just ready–and the person that years of intense effort and there’s still only minimal steps; there is just this mystery.
Freud encountered it and wrote about, in my view, relatively bitterly at points in his life. It could be argued he dreamed up the whole idea of the thanatos, the death impulse, and certain aspects of his later writings on the superego to explain why analysis failed so often. And you could be cynical and say it’s because Freudian analysis is so flawed as many people have done after Freud. But on another level, the human compassion of Freud just saw people’s problems over and over again and then this occasional mystery of why something shifts.
There is this extremely profound mystery that occurs, and in the deepest healing, if you become used to it and you begin to pay attention to it–this normally subtle, this normally hidden dimension of the healing process that can’t be explained rationally–it tends to occur more; more clients tend to have that mysterious something. Sometimes it’s the people who have had the most abuse, the people who appear to be at the lowest of the low, and then this weird kind of light just seems to turn on in the room through the most cruel darkness. I’ve sat with that a number of times now and it changes you.
It’s literally like sitting with dying people. When you sit with someone and they die, the room changes; the whole feel, the whole experience of being there changes when they die. It’s this kind of level of mystery when certain types of people have been struggling incredibly hard–and they’re physically and sexually abused, small children, or been through terrible loss, or violent, suicide attempts, or psychotic breakdowns–and they come through this; it’s like that level of change in the room. It changes you when you observe that and it seems to transcend obvious explication, let’s put it like that.
CB: Yeah, I definitely recognize the ability of people to grow and change during the course of their life and to have major breakthroughs, breaking away from things that held them back or that affected them negatively in the past, as well as the reverse; a person who has everything and then throws it away or loses it for whatever reason.
I guess the question is are even those breakthroughs predetermined in some way–if the astrology coincides with them and actually shows them–since the fact that all transits are predetermined. If a person has their birth chart then you could open up an ephemeris–they sell an ephemeris which gives you all the transits for the next hundred years–you know that that person’s going to have their Uranus opposition at the age of 40 or what have you. Whatever breakthrough or whatever they experience at that time–at least to the extent that the astrology coincides with something that in terms of the astronomy was predetermined–the question is are even those breakthroughs themselves predetermined. I’m not sure if that’s a question that we can answer because it could go either way.
MJ: Certainly, there are windows of opportunity, but it seems that people respond to those– as you were saying earlier, the Saturn return question–whether the person by temperament matures or doesn’t and then faces some kind of crisis later on. I mean, I‘ve been through so many transits personally that people have projected all sorts of things onto me.
I remember being at the NORWAC conference in Seattle when Pluto was crossing my Ascendant and all these horror stories being thrown at me in the bar area as people were talking. None of those things happened to me at all. In fact, nothing external happened in my life at all when Pluto crossed my Ascendant other than a shift internally from having just quietly gotten on with my work relatively, hermit-like, to increased exposure, a sort of call to come out and take part in more things. It was very subtle, a powerful shift over that period of time. It just seems to strike people in different ways.
Okay, so we explored a relatively contentious statement–although I don’t actually disagree with it necessarily–that just by the fact that there’s a natal chart and it means something the cosmos does not have 100% free will. At least within relative terms, I would agree with that from a different standpoint to you, sure.
Certainly, I’m more comfortable with the word ‘fate’ than I am ‘predetermination’. I hope I explained that correctly because I feel fate can include this incursion of meaning from a higher realm rather than just in the linear nature of space and time, this has to happen at this particular point.
CB: Right, it’s not a purely mechanistic thing. I use the term ‘providential’ as an implication to it.
MJ: Yes, exactly. I like that. Well, perhaps part two of our meandering journey through fate and free will could start with me starting with a contentious statement.
CB: That’ll be good.
MJ: We can have a discussion about that because I’ve just thought of what that would be.
CB: Okay. Do you want to give us a preview, or are you going to save it for a surprise?
MJ: Well, I can’t remember exactly what I thought. I thought I would actually read a small section from Rudhyar that I can give you just for the sake of contemplation upon the theme. My subjective remembrance of it is basically just the idea that–and I referred to it earlier with Jesus and the cockroach, which I owe to someone else, God bless them.
Rudhyar says at one point, consciousness animates the chart, being animates the chart. In the manger, the baby Jesus is born at the same moment a flower opens its bud, at the same moment an insect is born. They all have the same chart. They’re all within a few feet of each other. So it’s like you were saying with the Stoics with the cylindrical-based object at the top of the hill. Because it’s in its nature, it rolls.
MJ: It’s in the nature of an acorn to grow into an oak. It’s in the nature of a mustard seed to come up and be a mustard plant, or a rose to be a rose. So the next way of approaching this might be to come at it from the other point of view. Is Rudhyar right? What are the implications that consciousness animates the chart, that the chart is just a particular spacetime moment and the ‘is-ness’ or the suchness of a thing is crucial then to what the chart is?
Do we accept, for example, the Aristotelian notion of entelechy, that everything in life that is a seed wants to grow and become a tree or a shrub or a flower; that life itself wants to know itself and realize its own potential for its own sake, for the sheer joie des sens [sp?], if you like, the sheer effulgence of lifeness? Life, under the right circumstances, give it some sunlight, give it some water, it will grow. What it is that’s growing, what it is that’s embedded within the significance of the chart becomes crucial. Is that an astrological issue, or is that actually as much to do with consciousness?
CB: Definitely, and that’s a nice point end on. I’ll just say really quickly that Aristotle’s final cause, the notion of a thales in Greek–the notion of an end, or a purpose, or an aim, or a goal of some thing–the same root word was actually used in the common term used to talk about astrology which is apotelesma.
For example, Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos, the original title in Greek was Apotelesmatics; it was the study of outcomes or the study of ends of things. So originally in astrology, 2,000 years ago, the purpose was to study the ends of things or the goal or the purpose by studying the inception or the beginning of it, whether it’s a person or an event or what have you. Anyway, so that’s that.
MJ: Very good. Very interesting.
CB: Yeah, so maybe that would be a good point to integrate in our discussion. All right, well, I think we made a lot of progress today. You fully adopted a deterministic model with all of your points which I appreciated.
MJ: Free will. Let’s chase it from the building, no.
CB: Right. Mark has become a rabid determinist in the past 45 minutes. All right, well, thanks a lot for joining me for this discussion. What’s your website again?
CB: You got anything coming up? Your book launch was successful, I assume, over the past couple of months since we talked about it?
MJ: Yes, and then I did a couple of webinars on Jupiter and Visions of Meaning for the Astrology University. Next steps, Chris, are on October the 21st, the Counseling Skills for Astrologers program–a combination of audio recordings and accompanying essays; 12 lessons in all; approximately 90 minutes to two hours each audio within an accompanying essay–will be released on the Pluto School, and that is essentially really focusing on psychology and counseling dynamics.
For the concerns of an astrologer, that’s it’s whole orientation. But it is not about astrological method or astrological perspectives, and therefore remains egalitarian, and hopefully, at least on some level, suitable for anyone practicing virtually any form of astrology in that it just brings up what it is to be in a counseling dynamic, what it is to try and put across information or meaning to a client and things that someone might wish to consider, analysis of relational dynamics of things that can come up and things that can go wrong, and then looking at psychological models such things like developmental theory, and then looking at the evolution of psychology and psychotherapy itself to try and provide a practical but deep, transformative tool for astrologers.
CB: Excellent. A lot of people really loved your book after we did the interview a couple of months ago. I’m sure anybody that was interested in that will be really interested in taking some of the things that they learned from your book to the next level in that course, so I’m glad that it’s already together and you’re getting ready to launch it.
MJ: Thanks, man.
CB: All right, well, thanks for joining me. You’ll be back again hopefully before too long for the next part of this discussion.
MJ: I look forward to it. It’s been a pleasure, Chris, thanks.
CB: All right. Well, thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.