Feb. 1, 2011 — That the Arab streets might be turning into a battleground for social justice at about this time was anticipated in the 2006 award-winning book Cosmos and Psyche by controversial author, philosopher and social historian Richard Tarnas.
Tarnas is the founding director of the graduate program in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He studied intellectual and cultural history and depth psychology at Harvard, earned a PhD in psychology from the Saybrook Institute in San Francisco, and worked and lived for more than 10 years at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif., eventually serving as the institute’s director of programs and education.
His work is controversial because he’s one of the few educators in the country doing serious social research involving planetary cycles. At Esalen with psychologist Stanislav Grof and others he began the qualitative study that eventually examined thousands of individual astrological charts.
“It was astonishing how the planetary alignments consistently and precisely correlated with human experience. The archetypal principles associated with the planets and the correlations uncovered were undeniable and uncanny in their subtlety and specificity,” he said.
These patterns have permeated and shaped history over time, he suggests.
For example, at the time of its publication five years ago, Cosmos and Psyche offered a heads-up on an approaching alignment of the slow-moving planets Uranus and Pluto that has only now begun to form in the heavens. The planets will remain “in aspect” through the year 2020.
Tarnas said the years 2007 – 2020 would likely bring a new infusion of the cultural impulses and archetypal dynamics that emerged during the 1960s, which is the last time these planetary energies were in major alignment.
He points out that archetypal Uranus represents the principle of change, freedom, rebellion and revolution and is associated with unexpected phenomena of all kinds. Pluto, recently reduced by astronomers to dwarf planet status, is in fact a celestial heavyweight and the archetype for power itself.
“Pluto is the archetype of primordial energy and the universal life force that impels all evolution and transformation. It compels, empowers, overwhelms, transforms, destroys and resurrects. And, at its deepest level, it involves the mystery of death and rebirth,” he explained.
Tarnas points out that characteristic themes observed for this cycle in past centuries include heightened impulses for radical social change and cultural creativity, accelerated technological and scientific advancement, the empowerment of progressive and reformist political movements, intensified feminist, civil rights and countercultural activity, an increased drive for freedom and autonomy at both the individual and collective level, and pressure towards radicalization in many spheres of action and ideas.
Also identified with the cycle is intensified ecological activism, large demographic shifts and the activation of mass energies and mass movements of various kinds.
“Generally speaking, Uranus-Pluto eras have tended to bring forth the catalyzing of powerful forces in many forms, the awakening of a will to power than can be both creative and destructive, and a tangible intensification and acceleration of human experience,” he said.
In Cosmos and Psyche, Tarnas noted that while all of these specific themes have been strongly in evidence during past Uranus-Pluto alignments, precisely what will happen during the current 15-year cycle can’t be known in advance. But an intensified striving for equality and self-sovereignty could be on the immediate horizon, he predicted.
He said a more detailed analysis of the 2000 – 2020 time period is published in the current issue of the Archai Journal of Archetypal Cosmology.