The term "Depth psychology" has come into the modern vocabulary with the work of Freud and his disciples, of Jung, of Kunkel, etc. The reason for such a term is that while the academic psychologists before Freud dealt almost exclusively with the superficialities of the conscious life and motivation of human individuals (or, if they reached beyond, with a strictly transcendent "soul" having a heavenly source), Freud and the men who followed after him sought to probe the roots of human consciousness, the unconscious depths of man.
The aim of these depth-psychologists was not only to probe, but to heal. And they had such a purpose because, as doctors of body and mind, they were coming constantly upon an increasing number of cases in which the sickness of pathological disturbance could not be explained merely in terms of external organic behavior. Something deeper than the obvious and the seen seemed to be the cause of the disease; something that must be found at the root-level of organic biopsychic existence, below the threshold of consciousness.
The use of the term "below" is in a sense figurative, and it is based on the analogy of the plant-life whose roots are below the surface of the earth and whose flowers bask in sunlight. The dark soil is "below;" the clear sky is "above." "Heaven" and all things of the spirit and of God are seen to be of the "above" realm; and it may be that this localizing in space of spiritual and conscious elements of human being is the heritage of the early agricultural civilizations of mankind in which the symbolism of the yearly cycle of vegetation became the very foundation of all spiritual thinking.
However, these agricultural civilizations, and the vitalistic religions or fertility-cults derived from the life-experiences of their human beings, fundamentally differed, in their approach to life-forces and to the earth-below, from our supposedly "Christian" civilization. For them the "dark" soil was as wholesome (indeed "holy") as the "light" realm, though in a different way. There was a dualism of sky and earth, of fecundant spirit and fecundated earth; but it was a creative polar dualism, not an ethical opposition — not good and bad, but male and female, active and receptive. Each of the two polarities was as important as the other in the production of life; each needed the other, for neither had value of itself alone.
Results of Greek and Christian Ideals
With the stress upon the rational and the conscious which Greek culture developed, and with the type of Christian transcendentalism which came to pervade European culture, the psychological situation changed completely. The earth, the body, the irrational life of the instincts, and particularly the sex-urge, all received a negative valuation. They were not only below in physical space; they were "low." And while all ancient vitalistic philosophies (and even Hindu Yoga) considered the progressive ascent of root-forces to the flower-and-seed consummation as the symbol of the ideal life for the individual man, "Christian" Europe in most cases condemned altogether as impure, or apologized for, every element related to the earthly roots and the irrational depths of the human person.
The obvious result has been that when these root-forces come normally to be aroused in the springtime of every human life, the tendency has consistently been to feel ashamed of them, to regard them as of a low order of value, and in many cases to repress them violently in a kind of moral panic. If allowed to operate more or less healthily as biological urges in sex and instinctual emotions, nevertheless the consciousness of the individual has sought to become completely divorced from, and normally unaware of them. The consequence could not be anything else save, either a convenient split in the personality — each part going its own way in a kind of mutual tolerance of each other — or a ruthless suppression of all depth-urges and a focusing of the ego and the will upon seeming "heights" of consciousness.
In the first case, the person may live a "normal" existence in terms of the social and quasi-ethical standards of our quasi-Christian society; but such a normality (which often hides hypocrisy) is an expression of collective superficialities. There is no real individuality, because the true "individual" is symbolically the "seed" of a cycle of growth in personality, and without root-force there can be neither flower nor seed. There is no real "sanity" either, as we defined previously this word, for real sanity is based on the wholesome use of the creative forces of the whole person.
In the second case, the repression or apparent suppression of the depth-urges and of the irrational elements causes, first, a quasi-fascistic and autocratic rule of an ego, using moral precepts and self-will as the fascist Leader uses a strong police force; then, sooner or later, the long-repressed root-energies turn negative, perhaps organize themselves as a deliberate power for destruction and disintegration, and a violent revolution — a psychological crisis — occurs in the personality. The revenge of the roots is terrible indeed! It may bring insanity and murder or suicide to the personal life. It has brought the ghastly catastrophes of world-wars, concentration-camp psychology and atom-bomb mass-destruction to a humanity which had seen its depths aroused over a century ago by the Industrial Revolution and by an amazing increase of the world-population.
The privileged classes of the Western world used this depth-arousal for their own interest, as the ego of a person uses some great inspiration or success to feed its egoism and greed for fame or power. Thus we witnessed the social tragedies of the post-Napoleonic era, the nationalism and imperialism of the Victorian age, with its incredible smugness, repressions and hypocrisy. And the revenge of the roots followed — the collective wholesale insanity of this decade, and of the preceding ones.
What is to be done about it?
Freud went at the task with a mental surgeon's knife. He uncovered the decay of our personal roots, just as other men uncovered the ghastly abuses, exploitations and perversions of the roots of our Western society. In keeping with the negative trend of modern medicine, from Pasteur on, he sought to cure mental diseases by exposing and removing their infectious causes. In order to do so the disease had to be made an entity, to be given a name: complex So-and-So, etc., as physicians neatly catalogue virus or microbe, and try to kill them by introducing new poisons into the organism.
Christ and Buddha said: Hatred cannot be cured by hatred, but only by love. But our Western civilization cares little for Christ's words; and seeks always and everywhere to "murder the murderer." Freudian theories and practices have exposed evil, and as well released more evil.
Carl Jung's main contribution to depth-psychology was to realize that the disintegration of a narrow ego can only be overcome by positive efforts at integrating the personality as a whole with reference to a broader field of integration. Truly this new integration needs in most cases to be preceded by a cleansing or "catharsis" of both the ego and the lesser psychic depths into which unwelcome energies and mental-emotional contents have been repressed and in which they are festering, thus poisoning the entire personality. Yet this cleansing phase is meaningless and ultimately ineffective unless it is constantly referred to what will follow: the new and broader integration.
To heal is not to remove diseased cells or to kill a destructive germ or "complex;" it is to produce greater health. No insanity is ever cured, unless the patient is stirred into being reborn into a more inclusive and more creative sphere of consciousness, in which then he can act as a power for greater sanity in the society whose collective perversion and frustrations were mostly responsible in the first place for his insanity.
The Challenge to Astrology
And what has this to do with astrology, the reader will no doubt ask?
It has a great deal to do with it; because throughout the European era astrology, in its own way, has been made to deal most of the time with the superficialities of the conscious existence of human beings who wanted not to live more richly human and wholesome lives as creative persons, but rather to be more successfully normal in terms of the things which their society considered of importance, and in the traditional way this importance is evaluated: happiness, love, money, health, friends, inheritance, profession, etc.
A personal life may be superficially full of all the things which socially and materially are considered good and valuable, yet it may ignore altogether the energies and faculties of an inner life richly fed by the psychic "depths" of human being. These energies and faculties do not belong to the realm of "events" and of merely conscious responses to external gains or losses; they deal with profounder realizations of spiritual values and creative powers. They deal with creative transformations, rather than with the pain or pleasure, gains and losses, found in an existence bounded by forms.
The "whole man" is not the conscious or rational man alone. Consciousness is much like the spotlight upon a theatrical stage; the ego is the field which this spotlight illumines, the structure of this field of consciousness and its boundaries — which depend upon the shape, quality and orientation of the beam of light. But the players and objects on this stage of the human personality come from the surrounding darkness, and from beyond the sets or cyclorama. A type of astrology or psychology which deals only with external events and outer expressions (or gestures) of personality is one which recognizes only what the spotlight touches. It therefore tends always to turn into mere fortune-telling or simple character-delineation. It does not help the person to be what he or she potentially is in fullness of life and understanding. It is not a "way of understanding;" and still less a "way of healing."
This "surface-astrology" accordingly stresses the solar factor of zodiacal position above everything else. The Sun is the symbol and source of consciousness, as it is of light. The conscious world is the lighted world-lighted during the day by the steady Sun, during many nights by the waxing and waning Moon-the world in which things happen and facts are facts. Originally each of the two "Lights" of astrology (Sun and Moon) had their own fields or switch-boards: the solar and the lunar zodiacs. There was clear consciousness by day; and the realm of fancy, imagination, feelings by night — unsteady, changing, full of mystery. And this dualism was profoundly significant indeed, for all real life is always an expression of polarity and interrelatedness between two sources or types of energy.
Solar astrology and the solar zodiac won, perhaps around the time of the beginnings of Greek culture or before. Astrology gradually ceased to be, in the main, an approach to the mysteries of life in the universe and in man. It began to cater increasingly to the preoccupations of conscious egos, their wishes and needs, their fears and hopes, their greed and ambitions; and as we reach the late Greek and Roman periods very little seems to be left of the ancient "mystery-knowledge."
Planets are conceived as centers of actual influence determining events of the conscious life; and their positions in the zodiac define the way events come about through their dictates. This parallels the manner in which the psychologist considers the ego and its will as ruler of the personality; various mental traits or faculties, and clearly defined emotions or moods, being catalogued and defined by set characteristics — just as the classical text-book of astrology lists the set meanings of the planets' zodiacal positions and of their aspects, the latter combining these set meanings in various ways.
Man the Microcosm
With the Medieval Alchemists, the Rosicrucians, Boehme, and above all Paracelsus, astrology was conceived very differently. Man, the individual person, is a microcosm (or small universe) qualitatively identical to the macrocosm, the great cosmos. All that is basically or qualitatively in the latter is, at least potentially, in the former. All that is diffuse energy in the universe of incomprehensibly vast distances can be, indeed is destined to be, condensed power in the fully developed and mature man or woman, the Adept or Christ-Individual. Man is the whole sky and the whole earth in potentiality. How can this cosmic potential be actualized as the perfect person, in whom is celebrated the Marriage of Heaven and Earth, and the Incarnation of the "Son of God" in the "Son of Man," through an ever-recurrent "Transfiguration"? — this is the one question that spiritually counts.
Once it is understood, not only intellectually but with the whole of the organism of personality, that, as the old Hermetic precept says: "As above, so below," then the very idea of "depth" changes. Earth is depth; sky is height. But the earth is potentially as the whole sky. Every power and virtue in the one is to be found latent in the other. What is latent can be exteriorized by means of a "formed personality" structured by an ego which is no longer an end in itself (a proud ruler in a fortified castle), but an instrumentality to activate and release all the powers within the microcosm, man.
The structural and formative pattern (or archetype) of this ego is the birth-chart. This chart is a means for the accomplishment of the "Divine Marriage" of Sky and Earth within the human microcosm. It is through this birth-chart that the diffuse energies of the universe can be concentrated into conscious and individualized powers and faculties. The chart is thus, in a sense, a focusing instrument. It focuses the Universal into a particular, born at a certain moment at a particular point of the earth's surface.
Understood in this way, the birth-chart is far more than a collection of planetary positions in the zodiac, far more than a "map" of future events in the normal life of the merely conscious ego; it is a magic symbol and a key to the fecundation of the Earth by the Sky. The Earth, here, is however not the whole globe; but the point of its surface where the person is born. This is the natal "field" of personality; in it, the whole universe all around it implants its energies in a particular way — or one can say also, it is God's Idea of what this particular person is meant to be.
The essential factor in this birth-chart is, as a result, the cross of horizon and meridian which defines this "field" — and not the zodiac. It is moreover the pattern of the whole Sky in relation to this cross — and this means in practical use, the over-all planetary pattern in relation to the four Angles (Ascendant-Descendant-Zenith-Nadir); the other House-cusps being more secondary. In this "planetary pattern" the two Lights, Sun and Moon, are of course included, but their-old predominance is diminished. The well-known idea of Alan Leo that the Sun represents the Individuality, the Moon the Personality (in the Theosophical sense of the term, not in the modern psychological sense), and the Ascendant the Body is, needless to say, entirely irrelevant according to the above approach to the birth-chart.
Such an approach can be given, in one sense at least, the name of depth-astrology, because like Carl Jung's psychological approach, it seeks to bring to birth out of the depth of earth-consciousness (the "field" defined by the natal horizon and meridian) a fullness of individual being through the fecundative activity of great Sky-powers (Jung's "archetypes"). These images, powers or archetypes of the unconscious of men and women are neither "good" nor "evil," fortunate or unfortunate, divine or hellish; and likewise no planet should ever be considered in itself, a "benefit" or "malefic," and no aspect is of itself good or bad. They are the instrumentalities through which (symbolically) the diffuse energies of the universe are impressed upon the total organism of personality. They are gates through which these energies are channeled into concentrated operation in man's total personality.
In order to live a vibrant and abundant life and be in fact a "microcosm" man must be able, and willing, to use to the full these concentrated cosmic energies. And in order to use them the "gates" through which they are channeled into man must be clear of obstacles, and harmoniously adjusted to one another in their operations. True health of body and true sanity of mind are normally the results of such a condition of openness and balanced adjustment.