“I gradually gained the distinct impression that in some sense everything that occurs during one alignment is implicitly present and contributing to every subsequent one, as if it were a continuing and cumulative historical development.” – Richard Tarnas
I’m right about in the middle of Cosmos and Psyche. Thought I’d drop a few interesting discoveries and reflections along the way!
Tarnas continues to reveal archetypal and synchronistic significance to Pluto-Uranus alignments in history. This book, for me, has been a confirmation of cycles and patterns that I’ve intuitively noticed but did not have a language for over the past few months. I described it as “underlying patterns in history, where things come full circle and the living past intersects the present.”
Tarnas describes the archetypal forces of the corresponding planets to be a kind of living energy which exhibits a memory of past alignments. What occurred in past conjunctions seems to be present in future ones. The past lives in the present.
“It seemed to me that whatever was achieved, experienced, suffered through, painfully or joyfully brought forth during one cyclical alignment somehow remained present and causally efficacious (in both the Aristotelian and Whiteheadian senses) during the following alignments of the cycle, making possible and informing new developments.
To give one example, during an earlier alignment, the seeds of evolutionary theory (Erasmus, Lamarck) are planted. During the next alignment, Darwin’s Origin of Species explodes into popular culture. The influences and forces present are not discontinuous.
“Thus each era, each event, each cultural phenomenon, and each individual life that coincided with a specific planetary alignment seemed to me best regarded not in isolation but rather as having been deeply shaped by and carrying forth within it what happened in preceding alignment periods of that cycle… what is worked out and brought forth at each moment is never lost, nor is it truly isolated in its individual or local context. Rather at some deeper level it participates and endures in a much larger collective unfolding.”
Inspired by Teilhard’s work and my own observations, might it also be added that this rhythmic “unfolding” of an archetypal force can be related to the concept of punctuated equilibrium? In 1972 (an important Uranus-Pluto alignment as well, mind you) Stephen Jay Gould posited an alternative view of evolution:
instead of a slow, continuous movement, evolution tends to be characterized by long periods of virtual standstill (“equilibrium”), “punctuated” by episodes of very fast development of new forms.
I’m certainly no scientist (well, not a hard-scientist at least), but the evolution of life on earth appears to follow a similar pattern: previous mutations have direct relationship to future mutations, creating a dynamic but steady “progression” of morphology in species. In the same way, human societies appear to exhibit or recapitulate the same pattern of growth, stability and collapse, followed by the emergence of a new culture or civilization. Curiously, after the rise and fall of human societies over the past 200,000 years, there are now roughly 7 billion of us at the brink of a planetary civilization.
Is there any kind of significance in this nearly archetypal evolutionary pattern?
During the 1960’s and 70’s, during the last Pluto-Uranus alignment, a whole new wave of scientific and cultural breakthroughs occurred. Punctuated Equilibrium, Epigenetics, Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis, Lynn Margulis’ theory of symbiosis, Thomas Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” — just to name a few. They all share a common theme in deepening our understanding of life, culture and even science itself (seeing science scientifically). They helped us cultivate a greater or deeper self-reflective consciousness.
They are also very “big picture” oriented, noting larger cycles, progressions and larger “wholes” which had not yet been explicitly recognized. Margulis and Lovelock proposed a more holistic view of life on Earth, far more complex than previous evolutionary models. Their story is not yet over.
The cycles of time are more like spirals. The past intersects the present, and the revolutions of science and culture become charged with the momentum of the past, allowing an intensity that was not present before. Like a kind of “archetypal momentum” new emergent properties are now possible that were impossible during the last turn of the spiral. I’m hoping that future scientists can begin to think more creatively and use these ideas to discern new patterns that were never thought possible. In short, here’s hoping for a modern continuation of Teilhard de Chardin’s work (not to mention Sri Aurobindo and Jean Gebser) that takes into account anthropological, mythological, evolutionary and even astrological data. Or rather, may the same impulse that had driven them to their life’s work manifest in our day and age.
Personally, I find it interesting that I began to read Lovelock, Kuhn, Deleuze, and William Irwin Thompson as we began to enter the next Pluto-Uranus alignment (square) in 2007. Since last fall I’ve also been reading Teilhard and Carl Jung, who had huge significance during the last square in the 1930’s as well as the turn of the century. Both Jung and Teilhard had important events happen in their lives during WWI that lead to the development of their life’s work.
We’re quickly approaching a time that may resonate with the past events. Perhaps now, more than ever, we can tap into their living energies and help turn the page of history again with new scientific and cultural breakthroughs.