Armand M. Diaz, PhD, is a consciousness researcher and professional counseling astrologer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, a master’s degree from Hofstra University and a doctorate from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where he won an Esalen scholarship for his study on the lives of psychic mediums. He currently is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Hofstra and Brooklyn College. In addition to astrology his interests are in the areas of Jungian psychology, the astrology of healing and the healing power of non-ordinary states of consciousness. He studied divination and oracles for many years, primarily working with Tarot and the I Ching.
In his latest book, Integral Astrology, Understanding the Ancient Discipline in the Contemporary World, Diaz describes how astrology relates to a new paradigm that is emerging in Western civilization led by transpersonal psychology, chaos and complexity theories, general evolution theory and the human potential movement.
“Leading developmental researchers are extending psychology upwards, linking it with mystical states to embrace spirituality. Coordinating fields of information both old and new, integral theorists are creating a truly holistic approach to the many ways of knowing that are part of the human experience,” he says.
In an interview with Astrology News Service (ANS) he provided these additional insights:
ANS: What is divination and to what good purpose is it applied in an astrological reading?
Diaz: To divine literally means to contact the mind of the god(s) – although I think most practitioners today have a slightly less grand view of what they are doing! Divination includes astrology, tarot and a myriad of other means and devices for accessing information that isn’t available through the senses or our other usual approaches to life – such as thinking and logic, feeling, and so on. Astrology is a means of divination because it’s a way of interfacing the physical world and the underlying symbolic patterns that inform the cosmos. Even among systems of divination, as well as psychic and mediumistic phenomena, astrology is unique because it assumes a correspondence between the two at all levels, including everyday reality.
I think the greatest value of any form of divination is that it offers perspective for most people most of the time. It isn’t about what is going to happen. It’s about understanding the patterns involved and the kinds of choices that are open to us. It’s a little like a weather forecast – meteorologists tell you if it’s going to be sunny or rain. But they don’t tell you if you are going to be dry or wet because they assume you’ll take the information they are giving you and make an informed choice.
One of the things I discovered when working with psychic-mediums is that they don’t view what they do as extraordinary, and they have no real desire to impress anyone with their skills. They see themselves as helping professionals. I think most astrologers have the same approach. Like those in most helping professions, astrologers can help people to get a different perspective on whatever issues they have.
ANS: How do academic peers reconcile your interests in Tarot and the I Ching?
Diaz: And astrology! A few express some interest. Most are bemused, but many of those eventually agree that there may be some validity to nonmaterial phenomena. It’s about the same with my students, by the way.
ANS: What are the most important things going on in the field of consciousness research and what have these to do with astrology?
Diaz: Consciousness research has, in my opinion, already successfully demonstrated that information and even conscious awareness can exist and be transited apart from physical means. Now the big question is: what is happening? A number of people, including biologist Rupert Sheldrake, are attempting to answer that question, developing working models and theories. Many of these are testable and successfully meet scientific criteria.
For astrology, the question is whether we can be included in this, and if so, how. Over the last 50 years or so, there has been a significant and serious challenge to the view that the material world is the only “real” world. A new paradigm is emerging in which consciousness is seen as an integral part of existence. Astrology and this new paradigm have followed a parallel course of development, although they have done so at considerable distance from each other.
The problem is, much of consciousness research is focused on finding out if specific information can be shared across space and time. On the other hand, astrology – as it is practiced by most contemporary Western astrologers – is symbolic in nature, and symbols are hard to measure. It’s like the difference between measuring how many words are in Richard III and measuring what the play means.
ANS: What is integral astrology?
Diaz: Integral means whole, and an integral approach to astrology is one that recognizes not only astrology but a variety of non-astrological factors, as well. Although astrology provides extraordinarily helpful information, making optimal use of it is dependent on understanding all kinds of things, such as a person’s culture, gender, and education.
Key to integral astrology is the understanding that how astrological symbols manifest – as events in peoples lives or as interior experiences, for example – is related to an individual’s degree of conscious awareness, and that’s something you can’t know from looking at a birth chart. Sometimes the emphasis is on how specific events will unfold, sometimes it’s about understanding the options that are available, sometimes it’s about how a person is feeling, or about the meaning of a particular time in one’s life. Matching the client to the right astrologer, who is practicing the right astrology for the situation, is very important.
As with many disciplines – psychology, for example – there are many different schools of astrology, each using its own techniques and each having areas of life where it will have greater and lesser value. Integral astrology provides a way of recognizing the value of all of these schools, and organizing them in a cohesive way. So the integral approach to astrology isn’t about a set of new techniques, it’s about knowing how to best apply the tools that we have.
ANS: What lessons can we learn from ancient astrologers?
Diaz: Well, for one thing, ancient astrologers actually looked at the sky, and taking a peak up there every now and then is a good idea for us, too. A contemporary astrologer could easily work from an underground location, never seeing the stars and planets. In a sense, that’s appropriate, as astrology has become more abstract and formalized over the centuries. But I feel there’s great value in connecting with the sky when you can, and remembering why it is that we began to see meaning threaded through the cosmos at every level.
ANS: What can people do to live out the best expression of the energies they’re born with?
Diaz: Astrology describes the basic, fundamental energetic patterns that inform our approach to life. But astrology says absolutely nothing about our degree of awareness, how conscious we are, or in other words, our level of psycho spiritual development. Astrology tells us what we have packed in our bags for our evolutionary journey, but not how much progress we have made along the way.
That’s why people born at the same time – like twins – can often be so very different. It also helps to explain why some people seem to be tossed around by fate, while others have a greater degree of control. So the key to living out the best expression of our energies is to bring as much awareness and compassion to them as possible.
Articles by Diaz are posted at www.integralastrology.net.