ADRIAN: Do you have a favorite aspect in your chart?
RENN: You know, I don’t want to offend any of the gods and goddesses, so I better not comment on that (laughing).
ADRIAN: If you were to meet face-to-face with an archetype, which one do you prefer and what would you ask?
RENN: (laughing) For how long?
ADRIAN: It’s your choice! An hour or a year…
RENN: If it is for an eternity, I guess Neptune, because Neptune represents blissful infiniteness and eternity, the timeless serenity of Absolute Consciousness. But I don’t think too many astrologers would have a problem choosing Venus if it was just for a day… but I don’t think it’s possible to experience the archetypes, let’s say in a Holotropic session, without experiencing their opposites as well. So in order to reach states of artistic rapture or spiritual ecstasy within your psyche in a session, you have to have probably in the same session an earlier point where you experienced total catastrophe, and total energy blockage and failure. Then it breaks through and you get to the positive side of the gestalt. They always go in pairs, the dualities in the material world present themselves in a very powerful and condensed way in this work and so to get one side you have to be willing to face the opposite, but they always resolve on the positive side. The positive side is stronger, but you have to be willing to face the negative side too. I think it’s nice to have a variety which is what the Universal Mind seems to enjoy as well.
ADRIAN: Astrology deals with predictions, and you are a good astrologer. Do you know how your life will look in the future? How often do you reflect on such subjects?
RENN: I don’t know when my last breath will be. It could be in one second or it could be in decades. I really don’t know and I don’t think there is any astrological system that can predict that kind of thing. If there were it would be very easy to verify that with computers. Death is a very clear-cut variable, and they would have found it by now.
I think about the future a bit, but I find it better to stay focused in the present. There’s enough happening in the present, including my own emotions. There’s always something inside and it’s important to stay with it. Projecting into the future involves the mind, and as soon if you do that too much, you’re cutting yourself off from your feelings and maybe projecting into the future: oh, no, something terrible is going to happen! When really all you know for sure is that there is anxiety in my gut right now, and it’s important to stay with it and feel it without trying to change it. That’s the way to consume it and release it, so I find the present is more important. Tarnas talks about that too, in archetypal astrology we focus more on the present and the past, trying to understand the deep history, the meaning of events, the archetypal energies underlying events.
Sometimes, occasionally, we look into the future and at best we can only suggest the general range of possible outcomes and expressions but not the exact outcomes. I guess in my inner self-exploration I’ve had enough of the very sweet transcendent experiences to convince me that our consciousness is all going to the same place eventually. It’s where we came from, essentially like drops of water in the world, no matter whether they’re in a glacier or in a river or lake, sooner or later every drop ends up going back to the ocean. That is our true home and our true destination and everyone goes there; that’s the final resting place. This is the Divine Ocean, the Universal Mind. We’re always still there, actually, a part of it, we just forget for awhile.
ADRIAN: Is astrology able to awaken us to this perspective?
RENN: I think it can help. It is one of the systems that can help remind us. I mean just the fact that there are synchronicities, all these meaningful connections indicate that there must be some kind of higher intelligence orchestrating events, reminding us that there’s something else going on, other than just human brains. That really there is a vast Universal Intelligence that seems to be in touch with all the parts and which enjoys connecting things together, in ways that we can’t always see and will never be able to see all of or even a fraction of. But we can see just enough to remind us that it is our true essence. It’s humbling and also inspiring.
ADRIAN: What would you say to a skeptic?
RENN: Well, they’re so many of them, I don’t have enough energy to talk to everybody. When someone says “Do you believe in astrology?” I say “do you believe in gardening”? I don’t really see astrology as a belief system. It’s simply a way of working with energies that are happening all the time. I think many people trained in the Cartesian-Newtonian world view, the current scientific model which is a leftover from the 17th-century, believe that if society opens more to astrology, somehow all of the gains and benefits of modern science and technology will be lost. And that it’s an either-or situation. Either people pursue higher meaning in life and engage in technologies to open to it, or they enjoy pragmatic technologies and the benefits of science. I think it’s possible to have them both. A person can be grounded and realistic, can accept the laws of physics, and yet have a rich inner, spiritual life.
Grof is first and foremost a scientist, and he showed that is possible to study holotropic states in a scientific way. The crudest way, and an approach that he has not been involved in, would be to hook up people’s brains with electrodes, or examine their brain waves with other sophisticated technology. But that’s not the most interesting approach in my opinion. The most interesting way is for researchers to have their own experiences along with studying the experiences of their clients, their session reports, and their level of well-being after sessions. This is the appropriate way of collecting data in the study of inner subjective experience. We can then also correlate that data with other variables, such as their astrological transits.
I think that people with solid scientific minds who are open to self-exploration will find that there is a tremendous amount they can contribute and probably end up having very satisfying and meaningful careers. There is a vast frontier of possible studies and topics that people could do research on in the burgeoning holotropic and psychedelic fields.