ADRIAN: How do you envision life sometime in the future, in a world where astrology is common knowledge?
RENN: (Laughs) Well, you know Adrian, I don’t spend that much time speculating on that, because it just seems like we are so far from that point. People really should read The Role of Astrology in a Civilization in Crisis by Rick Tarnas, where he talks about the incredible disjunction between what we all know astrology to be (i.e., a language of the soul, the constant series of synchronicities and evidence for a connection between the Microcosm and the Macrocosm, between Cosmos and Psyche) and compare that to astrology’s status in the modern scientific worldview which, as you said already, is considered “the gold standard of superstition”. For the modern world view, astrology is really considered beneath contempt.
However, one idea would be a cable TV channel devoted to archetypal astrology, kind of a CNN of astrology. There could be ongoing comments on the transits, references to other periods and events that shared those same transits, special interviews etc. – like an ongoing archetypal weather report. I believe that in the future people will spend more time thinking about their emotional, relationship, and spiritual lives and less time obsessing over their portfolios. Astrology is a language of our emotional experience and is a beautifully concise language for talking about it.
By the way, I think the mainstream news programs should also be reporting every week the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. If people spent more time focused on their inner emotional lives, with astrology as a great language for referencing that process, they will spend less time grasping on to material substitutes such as the inordinate pursuit of wealth, status, or prestige, strategies which are ultimately futile and dissatisfying – not to mention pushing the earth’s ecosystems beyond the breaking point.
However, it’s important to keep astrology in perspective. In one of Grof’s recent books – Healing Our Deepest Wounds – he says that even a total paradigm shift in our intellectual viewpoint will not be enough to reverse the suicidal, destructive, and self-destructive tendencies of humanity. What is needed is transformation of individuals on a psychospiritual, emotional level. The most important purpose of astrology, for me, is to encourage people to undergo this inner quest, to explore their psyches.
I think troubled teenagers could benefit greatly from access to holotropic types of self-exploration, for example. Not only Holotropic Breathwork but other similar, careful and responsible techniques, in which young people who are interested could release some of the chaotic energies from of their psyches and have the kind of initiatory experiences that were so fundamental in many of the non-Western and preindustrial societies. Many teenagers are drawn to dangerous situations – they seem to create their own rites of passage through risk-taking, through fast driving and now we’ve got this problem of young people leaving the West and joining terrorist groups. They’re drawn to these kind of high pressurized, dangerous, aggressive situations that have a religious or pseudo-religious idealism, and I think that, at some point in the future when young people have access to genuine non-ordinary state experiences again, many of those same energies that are being acted out now in an aggressive way could be worked through and released from the psyche in more helpful ways.
ADRIAN: What is the most interesting synchronicity that happened to you?
RENN: (Laughs) I would have to take some time to think about that, can we come back to this question?
ADRIAN: What’s your idea about the future of holotropic research?
RENN: Well, I think that Holotropic Breathwork is now available on every continent, in many countries of the world and most likely is going to keep growing and spreading. But there will be other techniques, holotropic in nature, which share the same basic elements that will also be good, and I think that are always valuable for people to try.
Anyone who is depressed for example, or has a strong physical symptom that has not been shown to have a medical basis, such as headaches or feelings of nausea, or pressures and pains in various parts of the body, should consider trying a Holotropic Breathwork session at least once and see if he or she resonates with, to see if perhaps he or she gets some relief from the symptoms, before going for antidepressants or other medical interventions.
As far as psychedelics, there is such a wide range of sets and settings that people can approach with these substances. Probably the ideal would be healthcare funded centres, run by professional psychologists and nurses and psychiatrists, who have done their own inner work, places where people that need to can come in and book a session and do the pre-interview and be supported in a responsible way and have some sort of aftercare and so on. That would be the ideal situation. Below that there is a full range of levels of safety, right down to the least safe which would be young people popping high doses of psychedelics in situations where they’re surrounded by strangers, or not necessarily the most trustworthy company.
You know, I thought of a synchronicity. This is not the most amazing synchronicity I’ve experienced but it just gives an example of how they work. I had been been working on a number of writing projects for basically 21 years at the time Pathways to Wholeness was published. This book is only about one quarter of the total work that I put into all these different writing projects. So I’ve been busy as well as working afternoon shifts four days a week at a group home with physically, mentally and emotionally challenged adults. So for the last 20 years I have essentially been able to go swimming at one of the beautiful lakes around Victoria, an average of about twice a year, some years two or three times and some years not at all. And then last week my transits were transiting Jupiter trine my natal Venus and transiting Venus trine my natal Jupiter, so I had Venus-Jupiter both ways. And it just fit into place that I was able to go swimming at this most paradisean, beautiful spot at Upper Thetis Lake three times in one week on my days off, with three different friends. I had a great time, like being on an exotic holiday. Now this week that I’ve got Mercury square my natal Saturn it’s like I’m just kind of back to the grindstone and it almost feels impossible to get out there logistically, and so that’s just what you’d expect with transits like that.
I mean I wasn’t thinking about those transits when I had all those opportunities to go swimming and lying around, it just happened. When things like that occur, you look at the transits and think… you know, if I had those archetypes activated for my whole life, if I had a highly aspected Venus-Jupiter without Saturn involved, my whole life would be more like a holiday, which for some people, not many, it is.
It’s very interesting to reflect on these kinds of synchronicities. They are so common that, when Venus is highly aspected by transit, I ride my bike down into the heart of James Bay where I live and I`ll just run into a friend, just by coincidence, we’ll sit down and have a chat or go for a walk. These transits are what’s called in chaos theory “strange attractors”, they seem to draw towards one events that fit their thematic character. Additionally, at the same time you selectively perceive things based on your transits. Objectively the outer world can be the same, but when Mars is activated you will see the more martial and conflictual qualities in the world or when Jupiter is activated, the more expansive and benefic themes.