by Hand Week 8
Comments on Psychological Astrology
received a lengthy and well-thought-out letter from Glenn
Perry, Ph.D., a person that we have to take very seriously
because he is not only an extremely thoughtful astrologer, but is also
well-known as a practicing psychologist. Most of what he said in his email
to me is also contained in the slightly edited version in the feedback
section of this column.
think Glenn objected to my rather secular view of psychology as applied
to astrology—that is, a psychology that is not especially connected to
any spiritual or metaphysical tradition. And it is true, I agree, that
most humanistic and psychological astrologers do have a rather strong
metaphysical bent. Insofar as psychological astrology “transforms psychology
into a more spiritual and metaphysical model,” such astrology can hardly
be accused of being an attempt to make astrology conformable to the rationalism
of conventional science. I have no problem with any of that.
astrological system that postulates, or is based on a spiritual or metaphysical
view of some kind, is not part of the problem that I have been addressing,
whether or not I personally agree with the spiritual or metaphysical views
in question. It is only when there is a psychological astrology that attempts
to make astrology a system of behavior and experience without such a spiritual
or metaphysical foundation that it comes under the domain of my objections.
I agree with Glenn that most practitioners of humanistic and psychological
astrology do at this time operate out of some kind of spiritual foundation
that is completely at variance with materialistic science.
the following is a statement that Glenn made that I would like to address
in greater detail. Glenn wrote:
the primary attribute of a psychological approach to astrology is its
focus on integrating the birth chart, and thus the human potential for
growth and change. Outside of this primary focus, there is probably
no uniform psychological approach, although I would be willing to argue
that there are probably very few psychological astrologers who are not
of all, I think Glenn has given about as elegant a one-sentence definition
of the psychological approach as anyone could do. I also agree that outside
of that definition there are a tremendous variety of approaches. But what
I want to focus on is that primary emphasis for a moment.
can argue endlessly as to the reasons for focusing on human potential,
whether or not it was to make astrology easier to fit into the mainstream
of modern thought, or whether it was born out of a modern and genuine
concern for development of human potential. Both, I think, are true at
some level, and on the conscious level I think that the second is much
more true. Yet it is this focus on the inward state and subjective state
of the individual that I think constitutes the flaw of most psychological
pillar of the philosophy of science is the attempt to get at universal
truths that exist independently of any observer. Once it was thought that
there was a knowable, objectively real kind of truth—a kind of God’s-eye
view of things. More recently, it has become acceptable only to try to
approximate such a truth whether or not it does actually exist.
the radical distinction between subjective and objective truth is a centerpiece
of the philosophy of science. Modern third and fourth wave psychology
has tried to give some legitimacy to the subjective. This is in contrast
to science, which has relegated the subjective to a very inferior level
of validity. Psychological astrology follows in this course.
position, as I shall make clear, is that the entire notion of subjective
versus objective has to be rethought, and any system that emphasizes the
polarity in any way may be part of the problem rather than part of the
Is Much Weirder than Generally Supposed
the next few weeks, I am going to be suggesting that the actual foundations
of astrology are not merely the result of spirit, mind or psyche operating
in a realm of matter and energy, but that the universe is much more intrinsically
spirit, mind or psyche than it is matter—a very ancient point of view.
difficulty here is that I have used several of the most undefined words
in the entire metaphysical tradition of the West: spirit, mind and psyche.
I do plan to present definitions of these words that I am going to use
in these columns. I plan to do the same with other such words, such as
soul and consciousness. I do not suggest that my definitions will be the
only correct ones or even the best ones, but I do want you all to know
exactly what I mean when I use these words.
I continue to develop my ideas in these columns, I want us all to keep
one basic thing in mind. Astrology is not just strange; it is extremely
strange indeed, and if it is true, it may require going back to some of
the oldest ideas in Western philosophy and evaluating them anew.
week I will get back to horary astrology and related issues.