ADRIAN: Amazing discoveries! Can you describe how all these summed up in the birth of a new worldview?
RENN: Well, Tarnas writes that the cosmology of a worldview, of an existing paradigm or governing belief system of a culture, is the physical setting and place, the context within which that worldview exists and flourishes as well as this sense of the higher meaning of it all: what is the state of the Cosmos or the Universe?
I think that there have been many parts of the new paradigm which have been being born and coming into the mainstream, gradually growing for a long time but Cosmos and Psyche really presents now for the first time a coherent cosmology. I believe we finally have the setting for the new worldview, we can finally say okay and this is how we are now seeing the Universe, this is the furthest extent that our perceptions and our scientific explorations and knowledge have revealed about what the Universe is and it definitely does return to us some of the lost elements in Western civilization that we had already discovered but then left behind: Plato’s idea of the meaningful connections between the macrocosm of the archetypal realm and the microcosm of human experience and sense that there are higher archetypal principles, so for Plato, all experiences of beauty are an emanation of the archetype of the Beautiful.
Pythagoras’s great discovery of the importance of mathematics and the incredible way that numbers interact with each other, in harmonics and so on is also an important part of the astrological archetypal worldview, so Tarnas refers to it as a Platonic-Pythagorean cosmos. What archetypal astrology does now is returns soul to that cosmos. By contrast, in the final forms of the Newtonian-Cartesian modern worldview, all consciousness, reason and purpose was located in the human brain alone, in the human being who existed in an essentially unconscious universe that was run by simple mechanistic laws . . . there was no higher meaning or purpose or intelligence.
But now in this new worldview we rediscover that there are conscious archetypes, cosmic principles that are operating both in the cosmos at large – we can observe them in the patterns of history and in the experiences of the psyche of all humanity, the collective psyche, and as well as in our most personal intimate self-explorations, in our souls. The same principles and patterns and archetypal processes that happen within our own beings are also operating in larger being of the Universe.
I think Grof’s research essential laid the deep concrete foundations over the river, while Jung and others also contributed, and Tarnas’s work represents the bridge itself, a kind of high, paved road for the mainstream culture, a respectable path for many professors and students and the intelligentsia of the world to go across into this new worldview which has very powerful implications for the future of humanity. When people feel connected with the Universe and have a sense of being embedded in a meaningful cosmos permeated with higher intelligence, they’re much less likely to take the negative destructive actions against nature and against other people.
That current global crisis is essentially an outgrowth of the modern worldview in which people feel separate from each other and from nature and many of us are just locked into cycles of consumption which don’t really satisfy but we keep on trying to fill the void with material things, and acquiring more and more without really looking at the consequences to the people around us, the other life forms around us, the ecosystem of the planet as a whole. We often don’t see the big picture and we’re also not seeing ahead in time – we’re not looking at the effects on other generations, the pollution of our air, water and soil.
When people explore their own psyches in these holotropic states they automatically develop ecological awareness, this doesn’t have to be taught, they automatically see that we’re connected with part of the world – whatever we do to some part of nature or to other people we’re essentially doing to ourselves and if these things don’t affect us immediately then they certainly will affect our children, maybe our future lives – for people who believe in reincarnation that would be an additional ethical context they need to live their lives within. I might incarnate in my next life in some flooded out nightmare country that is of one of the casualties of rising sea levels or super storms or droughts and all the other problems associated with climate change.
If I wanted to sum up what this new paradigm is about, it would be a revaluing of the subjective side of human nature. We have become experts in manipulating nature and the outer world, and materialistic science has given us vast powers to improve living conditions or potentially improve them, to create and build things, to use technology and that’s all great. We can maintain the material benefits that science has given to us. But we have left behind the subjective side of our human nature: feeling, conscience, perception, a sense of connection and I think there is a desperate need for us to reclaim the interiority of our psyches and when we do that then we also see the interiority, the consciousness and awareness in the world around us.
ADRIAN: And archetypal astrology is the language of these very qualities…
RENN: Yes, it’s a language of feelings, of emotions, of subjective experience, of varieties of perception, of different aesthetic qualities, it’s a very concise language to talk about relationship issues and it can give us a lot of validation for when we’re going through difficult periods, it can show us that they have a time limit and the sort of general direction that these challenging times might be taking us, so that we can cooperate with the energies and go in that direction. They can also help to curb us when we are in a period of inflation or extravagance or overdoing things and excess and show that these also have a time limit, i.e., don’t think that this lucky streak is going to last forever. It can help us deal with our aggression issues when they come up, when we’re more likely to feel more aggressive or when the people around us are, specific types of aggressive feelings and what are some of the most effective ways of channeling those and dealing with them in helpful ways rather than aiming them at other people or at nature. The same for many other subcategories of archetypal energies and how we can deal with those.
Also, archetypal astrology is very encouraging and validating and I would say that it is the intellectual accompaniment of holotropic experiences which are actual personal experiences, rather than sitting passively and imbibing what a religious authority might say is important. You are having your own experiences of spirituality, you are getting your own answers, you’re having your own direct experiences of the numinous, of the Divine, these things can go a long way toward undoing feelings of fear and overcoming the fear of death and I would say that the spread of these kind of holotropic types of self-exploration including the responsible use of psychedelics, ayahuasca and other indigenous plant ceremonies, also with the nondrug techniques like Holotropic Breathwork and similar techniques and other ways of entering non-ordinary states such of meditation, trance, dancing, fasting and all the other time-honored technologies of the sacred, are so important now. There’s an urgent need for these things to spread and to be used in a responsible way and for young people to have access to them in rites of passage so they don’t just turn to gangs or to terrorism and other really negative and destructive substitutes for these genuine rites of passage which our ancestors had.
So I would say at the core of the paradigm shift is an opening to these kinds of non-ordinary states. Grof says that in order to drive a car in traffic we want to be in the “moving toward matter” mode of consciousness, the hylotropic mode, but in order to find higher meaning in life we have to periodically enter the holotropic or “moving towards wholeness” mode of consciousness. Most, if not all non-Western and preindustrial cultures have had ways for people to enter into these states and I believe that we can maintain the best that modern science has given to us while reclaiming these lost dimensions of the psyche and lost techniques of self-exploration: healing rituals, the mystery religions, the rites of passage and shamanic journeys that we left behind in our Promethean advance. We went so fast in the development of our intellects and of science that we now need to let the emotional side of our nature catch up and I think that there is a very pressing need for governments to allow responsible legitimate researchers to continue, to resume their research projects with psychedelic healing in addictions work and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder, also sexual abuse and just birth trauma in general.
I would see astrology essentially as a way to encourage people in those journeys, to say this is a great time to do it or don’t be surprised if you suffer a for awhile in your session but it will be cathartic, there’s a finite amount of these negative things in the psyche and it’s very valuable to face them.