Today, I wish to explore a little of the terrain of that counterpart to the astrologer’s insight: the Jungian view of the soul. It is no coincidence that Jung’s theoretical premises of psychoanalysis form such a supportive and compatible adjunct to the astrology, because Jung himself was a believer in the totality of symbolic experience. If you require demonstration of this, consider this observation from Jung’s own notebooks:
“When one studies the archetypal personalities and their behaviour with the help of the dreams, fantasies, and delusions of patients, one is profoundly impressed by their manifold and unmistakable connections with mythological ideas completely unknown to the layman.” (A full discussion of this phenomenology can be found in Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy Part II).
Put broadly, he argued that many of the delusions experienced by psychotic patients could not be explained as products of the patient’s personal history and his extensive knowledge of human symbols, myths and comparative religion led him to detect parallels with psychotic material which argued a common source, a myth making level of mind common to all humanity, which he termed the Collective Unconscious. Here then is the theme, one which saturates all of Jung’s writings, that there is a symbolic subtext to all unconscious contents of the human mind, a symbolic language that is utterly consistent regardless of background, ethnicity, cultural conditioning, access to education, IQ or any other individuating factor you care to consider. The overarching frustration of Jung’s life was that there was no universally accessible language of this symbology, even if its myriad components could be successfully identified and even leveraged to gain an insight into the previously unfathomable murk of madness.
Now of course, Jung well understood the importance of astrology in this context. Most every major work of his makes reference at some point to the astrology without necessarily making any boldly affirmative statement as to its validity; there is always a simple presentation of the evidence and a ‘take it or leave it’ ambience to the material; the trademark then, of the believer, as any astrologer who has to field the dreaded “so, what do you do?” enquiries at garden parties understands only too well. Once you tap into this Jungian symbology then immediately life becomes rich with the resonance of possibility, a richness of meaning, in fact. It is no longer a simple story to understand that the feeding of the 5000 required only loaves (Virgo) and fish (Pisces), here there is a statement about the Virgo-Pisces polarity, about the material and the immaterial, and then too this:
“And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”
Again, the symbology for those who are proficient with the astrological lexicon becomes self-explanatory. Here is sacrifice and compassion, and most especially a cleansing of the soul. The hair and the feet speak to Virgo and Pisces yet again.
Jung self-evidently wanted to impress upon his readers the profound importance of the grasping of dualities and more specifically, polarities as an aid to understanding the functional mechanisms of the human psyche. “Although the attainment of inner balance through symmetrical pairs of opposites was probably the main intention, we should not overlook the fact that the duplication motif also occurs when unconscious contents are about to become conscious and differentiated. They then split, as often happens in dreams, into two identical or slightly different halves corresponding to the conscious and still unconscious aspects of the nascent content. I have the impression, from this picture, that it really does represent a kind of solstice or climax, where decision and division take place. The dualities are, at bottom, Yes and No, the irreconcilable opposites, but they have to be held together if the balance of life is to be maintained. This can only be done by holding unswervingly to the centre, where action and suffering balance each other. It is a path “sharp as the edge of a razor.” A climax like this, where universal opposites clash, is at the same time a moment when a wide perspective often opens out into the past and future. This is the psychological moment when, as the consensus gentium has established since ancient times, synchronistic phenomena occur – that is when the far appears near.” (From C.G Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, a Study in the Process of Individuation 2nd Ed. 1991).
This contains the exact self-same wisdom as told me by my own grandfather in very slightly different terms, and I quote here from his notes: “Astrology is the polarity, it is not about lists of this and that. Opposites can only be harmonised through the understanding that while they are opposed they are even so existent upon a shared spectrum and cannot therefore be separated. They are opposite and yet they are the same.”
Out of that exact insight, the astrology is given life.