With Pluto now firmly in Capricorn, the time has come for people in positions of authority to use power wisely and responsibly. This applies to astrologers. We are in a position of power, not necessarily because we want to be, but because clients often put us there. In this article, I want to offer suggestions on how we as astrologers are in a unique position to help co-create a better global future.
Many see astrology as a belief system or a form of divination. My view on modern astrology is that it is neither of those. Taking the divination aspect, astrology can be used to look at which archetypes are active at certain times and can therefore be used as a tool to study the future or the past, as Richard Tarnas does wonderfully in Cosmos and Psyche.(i) The archetypes provide a powerful model in the study of human nature, including psychological and spiritual processes.
However, the astrological signs and planets can better be viewed not just as archetypes but as holons, to use Arthur Koestler’s term,(ii) as they include all forms of matter and non-matter. To quote Dennis Elwell, a well-known British astrologer, “...as well as the metal lead, Saturn was associated with the skeleton, gravity, the ageing process, and many other things besides”. (iii) The traditional view was that the planets were not merely planets, but “the whole area or sphere enclosed by a planet’s orbit – what today we might call a field”.(iv) I would go further and refer to them as the ‘morphic’ fields that the biologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake(v) has written so eloquently about.
The view assumed in this article is that astrology, like morphic field theory and spiral dynamics (which will be discussed later), is not a belief system but a model, although certainly not a simple one. However, although astrologers themselves often use what happens to a planet to look at levels of consciousness, this is less well documented and therefore less well known. This idea fits best with the theory of ‘Spiral Dynamics’, and I would like to expand on this in this article with a view to using the depth of knowledge inherent in astrology to add to the research being done with levels of consciousness.
We do have an effect!
One way to approach this is to use the idea that looking at something affects consciousness in the sense of awareness. Sheldrake’s experiments with “the sense of being stared at”(vi) suggest that our minds extend out and affect the objects of our focus. He sums this up with: “Our minds reach out to touch everything we see. If we look at distant stars, then our minds stretch out over astronomical distances to touch these heavenly bodies. Subject and object are indeed confused. Through our perceptions, the environment is brought within us, but we also extend outwards into the environment.”(vii)
I take this to mean that when we observe something (or we are observed) our consciousness changes. We are aware of something that we were not aware of before. We also change the object of our focus, even planets.
I want to use this idea in looking at the discovery of planets and other objects in our solar system. As we have become aware of these objects, our consciousness has extended outwards from the earth literally, but perhaps also symbolically. So the planetary system may be seen as a model for the development of consciousness. I have even heard it said that in some people, new aura layers are developing. Perhaps transpersonal planets are becoming personal.
The planets orbiting the Sun from Mercury out to Saturn have been used by astrologers for centuries, although it is unknown when the first men gazed upon them. However, the generally agreed dates for the discovery of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are documented, along with those for the newer objects Chiron, Nessus and Pholus, known as the Centaurs, and the dwarf planets Ceres and Eris. There are more objects, but I need to draw the line somewhere.
One way astrologers determine planetary meaning is to look at what is happening in the world at the time of a planet’s discovery. Taking Uranus first, the credit was given to Herschel in 1781 for the discovery. By this time the meanings given to the luminaries and planets as far out as Saturn were pretty stable, so I shall begin by looking at the Uranus field. In one huge step, Herschel’s discovery literally doubled the size of the known universe, so applying our model means that a huge jump in consciousness is required. The Uranus holon is given the themes of disruption, independence, rebelliousness, authenticity, technology, computers, change, individuality, lightning and awakening, to name but a few. The meaning has changed over time,(viii) and taking the idea of a planet as a morphic field, my view is that this field is now becoming stabilised. The late 1700s were a time of unrest. The Declaration of Independence was around this time, as was the French Revolution. There were big changes there in terms of science, with a major shift happening from Newton onwards. In fact, astrology became an outcast at this date, along with anything that cannot be proven. The traditional science of today had begun.
That the field has become more stable may be seen by the fact that things fought for then are now commonplace. The baby-boomers have done much to stabilise this field, and many of them are now able to use Uranian qualities positively. Sheldrake himself is a good example of someone who resonates with this field. He is a scientist who is authentic, not bending to the old norms and values of the scientific group. He is attempting to change the world-view by being an individual and by being independent. He also uses technology to help him with his research. He has a Promethean spark (many astrologers equate Uranus with Prometheus), wishing to bring fire and light to the masses. Astrologers could do worse than use him as a role model.
Another major sign for me that we can ‘do’ Uranus in a more positive way is the winning of the US Presidential fight in 2008 by Barack Obama. On that day, the day the two gods Saturn and Uranus confronted each other across the heavens, Uranus won the bout. Obama is truly a symbol of a grown-up Uranus holon. The Uranus field is not only becoming stable; we are seeing how to co-create positively with it.
Neptune, discovered in 1846, is associated with séances, spirituality, Eastern philosophy (Madame Blavatsky was an important figure around this time), hospitals, and later with art, compassion, music or anything that relates to another realm. Negatively, it is also associated with addiction and victimisation. The link between all these is that they are areas where there are no borders or boundaries. The way science is moving is an acknowledgement of the Neptunian theme, the idea that we are all one, that things that we cannot see affect us, that imagination and thoughts have an influence on us.
My view is that the generation being born now is the one that will stabilise this field. Our generation may not have been able to reach the tipping point to change this field into something we can use positively. Children today are all happy with computers, technology and the fact that they have rights and are individuals. It could be said that they have Uranus in hand. However, they are suffering from our inability to provide schools for their sensitivity, also a Neptunian characteristic. Many children have allergies, or are thought to have attention problems, or are labelled borderline, perhaps because we don’t understand that they are on a different level or are learning how to be part of a global world and to use skills such as telepathy. Perhaps the levels of addiction among children will finally alert us to the fact that we need a global ‘twelve step’ programme, a programme that actually emphasises positive Neptunian ideas of letting go and trusting in a higher power, alerts us to the need to understand children in other ways and make major changes in our education system. Unfortunately, to quote Einstein, “The significant problems we have, cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” We need a new mindset or consciousness level.
Pluto was discovered in 1930, and is therefore associated with gangsters, Hitler, atomic power, and control. Pluto is, to my mind, still a very unstable morphic field and we are mostly seeing the negative side of power. There are few people with influence in the world who can use power in an authentic and pure way. Mandela might be an example. Obama promises to be. Even though Pluto is now deemed a dwarf planet, the morphic field is still strong and being added to. The renaming is important because it puts Pluto on an equal level with the other dwarf planet holons, but that will take time to stabilise. It could be said that the world values the planets’ qualities more than those of the dwarf planets, and also that the dwarf planet characteristics are equal in importance to each other – i.e. the Ceres holon is now just as important as the Pluto one. It is therefore interesting that Ceres, known as a planet since 1801, then an asteroid and now again a planet, albeit a dwarf, is on the same level as Pluto. Ceres, a grieving mother, rules grain and has control over the seasons. She has a lot to teach us about global warming and genetic manipulation of food. Perhaps in today’s world we need to honour her as much as power (part of the Pluto holon). Astrologers take note! Eris is more of a worry. With her discovery, we are bringing a bloodthirsty woman into consciousness. She is a powerful feminine archetype who loves war. Being new, she has a very unstable field, but the parallels in the world can clearly be seen in our apparent lust for conflict and war. We need to find the positive side of the powerful feminine.
It seems to me that we have a number of people at different consciousness levels. Astrology has no way of identifying these. If we look at a chart, we don’t have any idea about where someone is in terms of what might be called spiritual development. This is why I found the model called Spiral Dynamics very exciting for astrologers. It was named by Don Beck,(ix) who used an original idea from Clare Graves. Ken Wilber expands on the model, which shows levels of consciousness, in his book Boomeritis,(x) sometimes very humorously. There are now colours for the levels, which unfortunately don’t seem to have any significance. The model itself, however, is very interesting. Although at the moment it is used mostly for business purposes, it can also be applied to many other areas. By combining astrology with a model that is being taken seriously, we may be able to give astrology more credence, better press and a higher profile. I think that Spiral Dynamics can be taken as a metaphor for our solar system, with the planets related to levels of consciousness.
Firstly, let me describe the model. There are two tiers containing different levels (memes). The model maintains, as do many other systems, that we are at the stage of a major consciousness leap. The idea is that there is a certain percentage of the population at each level. Research has also been done(xi) to find out what the percentage of world leaders is at each level. In Figure 1, the colours of each meme are given with their names and qualities (very briefly, as they each contain a lot of information that matches better with the holon principle). The Population/Power column gives the percentages of population at each level and an estimate of how many leaders are at that level of consciousness. The Years column shows an estimate of how long the level exists, and the planet column shows my attempt to match each level with a specific planet.
|1st Tier||Population / Power||Years||Planet|
|Beige - Survial Sense
|0.1 % / 0 %||100'000||Moon|
|Purple - Kin Spirits
Harmony and Safety
|10 % / 1 %||50'000||Venus|
|Red - Power Gods
|20 % / 5 %||10'000||Mars|
|Blue - Truth Force
Order and Purpose
|40 % / 30 %||5'000||Saturn|
|Orange - Strive Drive
|30 % / 50 %||1'000||Jupiter|
|Green - Human Bond
|10 % / 15 %||150 (around year 1850)||Uranus|
|Yellow - Flex Flow
|1% / 5 %||50 (around year 1950)||Neptune|
|Turquoise - Whole View
|0.1 % / 1 %||30 (around year 1970)||?Chiron|
Figure 1: Spiral Dynamics model with suggestion for planet for each meme(xii)
This table has since been updated to the table shown in Figure 2.(xiii)
|BEIGE||0.1 %||0.4 %||8.6 %||6.2 %|
|PURPLE||10 %||12 %||12.5 %||20.0 %|
|RED||20 %||18 %||24.6 %||20.6 %|
|BLUE||40 %||30 %||30.3 %||20.6 %|
|ORANGE||30 %||27 %||18.8 %||35.2 %|
|GREEN||10 %||9 %||2.7 %||1.1 %|
|YELLOW||1 %||3 %||1.7 %||1.6 %|
|TURQUOISE||0.1 %||0.6 %||0.8 %||1.3 %|
|TOTAL||111.2 %||100 %||100 %||100 %|
1. D. Beck & C. Cowan,
Spiral Dynamics: mastering values, leadership and change,
Blackwell, 1996, pp. 300-301.
2. Email communication Don Beck, 29 Jan 2002. (Corrected for 100% total.)
3,4 Email communication Alan Tonkin, Chairman: Global Values Network, 18 Feb 2003. Based on QuickSCAN survey of 639 respondents, 80% of which favour GREEN/YELLOW/TURQUOISE.
Figure 2: Updated version of percentages at each level as of 2003
Since 2003, Coral (otherworldly and enlightened) and Teal (as distinct from Turquoise!) have been added after Turquoise, but little has been said about them other than they might be a higher version of Red and Blue. The suggestion is that the system is open-ended and will continue to develop as human consciousness develops.
This implies that only an estimated 2.5% (2003) of the population are at the second tier, i.e. that the jump in consciousness necessary to take us to an integrated global, holistic view in the world can be achieved by very few people. 6% of people in power are ready to do this. I imagine Obama might be one of these. The highest proportion of the population and leaders are at what I have called the Jupiter and Saturn levels of Blue and Orange, so I will concentrate on these levels and above. However, I will mention that the Red level is a good match for Mars! One colour they got right. The Blue level is almost textbook Saturn, with its good and bad properties. That we are still at this level can be seen by what is happening as I write this (June 2009) with the measures being taken for the pandemic Mexican Swine ’Flu (not to mention the global financial crisis). The fear that is being created and the slaughtering of the poor pigs who are getting the blame, the isolation, the science, the restrictions on trade, all show very strong Saturnian qualities. We are still operating under the auspices of this level of consciousness.
The Orange level, which I have associated with Jupiter, is not such a good fit, but it does have a lot of similarities with the planet. I think Green also has some Neptunian qualities as well, so if I had made the model I would have changed it slightly! Anyway, back to Orange and Jupiter. It should of course be as old as the Saturn level, although perhaps Saturn being the most distant known planet for a long time, had more attention, and was therefore a bigger field. The SD model is only a theory; perhaps we astrologers know better!
Ken Wilber in Boomeritis says of Orange “I want to achieve and win and get somewhere in my life. I like to play and win and I enjoy competition.… Gather the data, build a strategic plan, go for excellence.”(xiv) We are still operating at this entrepreneurial level, striving and driving for bigger and better things, but perhaps on a personal level. The negative qualities come to mind: greed and judgment, religious stubbornness, scientism. And dare I mention politics? Orange of course, like Jupiter, has some great qualities: seeing the big picture, global strategies, hope and faith, and we are seeing these too.
Wilber associates Green with the baby-boomers, hence the title of his book. This is the generation, I believe, tasked with getting to grips with Uranus, ready for the leap we are now in. The dates do not fit well with the discovery for Uranus; however, this is just an estimate and I would suggest that a field takes a while to take hold. Wilber on Green: “We can all come to understand who we are and how wondrous it is to be human if we will only accept that everyone is equal and important.… Each spirit is connected to all others in our community;… Groups of people working together are the best way to advance knowledge.” His summary says, among other things: “Promote a sense of community and caring; promote gender equality, children’s rights and animal welfare; basis of value communities.”(xv) Although some descriptions are a bit Neptunian (refresh spirituality and bring harmony to all beings of Gaia), most sound pretty Uranian to me. Perhaps it is encouraging to think that 15% of our leaders already operate from this level.
The second tier. Is this Neptune consciousness? Or higher? Or to quote Wilber again, “The leap into hyperspace of integral awareness”? Yellow and Turquoise are combined in Wilber’s book as holistic or integral. Second tier understands the Spiral, and that we are operating at different levels. Each meme is important and still relevant. It is a tier that “works for both the enjoyment of self and the good of the entire Spiral of development” and “discovers personal freedom without harm to others or excesses of self interest.” (xvi) It does sound like an integration of Uranus and Neptune, with perhaps a bit of Chiron thrown in. The date for Turquoise does roughly match the discovery of Chiron. ‘Holistic’ is a term often used in association with Chiron, or to quote Melanie Reinhart,(xvii) the Shamanistic ‘Soul Retrieval’ – to become whole again (after something having been cast out). Interesting in the myth is that after Chiron arrives on the scene, Prometheus (read Uranus, read astrology) gets reinstated to his rightful place among the gods – some hope there…
We know, as no other can, about the positive qualities that Neptune, Pluto, and with increasing ability, Chiron and Ceres, can offer at these levels of consciousness. Not only can we affect these planetary morphic fields by what we say and write about them but also, if new science is to be believed about where we place our attention, by what we think about them. Do we not have a duty within the astrological community to negotiate with these heavenly bodies to get the best out of them? To make the fields positive? Can we not help our planet by passing on our unique knowledge with positive messages to our clients about how they too can use these energies? This way we can co-create both with our clients and the heavens, a better world.
(i) Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View.
(ii) Arthur Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine.
(iii) Dennis Elwell, Cosmic Loom: the New Science of Astrology, p.47.
(iv) Dennis Elwell, Cosmic Loom, the New Science of Astrology, p.43.
(v) Rupert Sheldrake, The Presence of the Past, Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature.
(vi) Rupert Sheldrake, The Sense of Being Stared at and other unexplained powers of the human mind.
(vii) Rupert Sheldrake, Seven Experiments That Could Change the World, pp.106-107.
(viii) See paper by Faye Cossar, ‘The Three Histories of Uranus’, at www.astrozero.uk.co.
(ix) Don Edward Beck and Christopher C. Cowan, Spiral Dynamics: mastering values, leadership, and change..
(x) Ken Wilber, Boomeritis: a Novel That Will Set You Free.
(xi) Outside the scope of this article.
(xii) Spiral Dynamics Model: Don Beck, from the
original idea from Clare Graves. Percentages from Spiral
Dynamics, pp.300-301. The years from Spiral Dynamics,
Descriptions for colours taken from Ken Wilber’s ideas on Spiral Dynamics Model in Boomeritis, pp.23-30.
Numbers for population and people in power at each level and number of years from Don Beck, Spiral Dynamics, pp.300-301.
(xiv) Ken Wilber, Boomeritis, p.88.
(xv) Ken Wilber, Boomeritis, pp.95-96.
(xvi) Ken Wilber, Boomeritis, p.104-5.
First published in: The Astrological Journal, Sep/Oct 2009
Faye Cossar, is an astrologer and therapist of twenty-eight years’ standing in Amsterdam.
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