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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

Brave New Map

Maps are important, because they help us to situate ourselves, to get our bearings, and make sense of the world around us. Maps are especially helpful when you find yourself in a strange place. I think that the unconscious would definitely qualify here. Maps are useful because they can tell us not only where we are, but also what to expect along the way, in terms of the landmarks, cross streets, etcetera. Maps can also help us find our way from one place to another, and they can keep us from getting lost. Briggs and Peat (1989) were thinking about maps at the beginning of their journey into chaos theory, and they explain:

Maps are imaginative pictures which allow thought to bring into focus aspects of reality that might otherwise be lost in details. With a good map we can appreciate some features of a reality we could otherwise miss, and we can actually explore this reality in a way that would actually be impossible without the map . . . . Maps simplify reality in order to emphasize certain points. (pp. 31-33)

In Looking Glass Universe, Briggs and Peat (1984) note that David Bohm “insists that we keep in mind that our maps and words are never absolute ‘things’ . . . . At best we communicate an insight, at worst, an illusion” (p. 103). They remind us that Bohm considered an “insight” to be an act or angle of perception and not a fixed truth. So, with this in mind, we will more closely explore the perinatal level of Grof’s cartography of the psyche, but before we do, we will learn why Grof's cartography is a brave new map! the book LSD Psychotherapy (Grof, 2001) contains many color picture of mandalas produced to record experiences from LSD sessions, which gives a feel for the nature and variety of experience of the different perinatal matrices.

Grof and Tarnas (2002, seminar) found that the transits of the four outer planets, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were a reliable predictor of a person’s experience during holotropic nonordinary states and people’s experiences would often reflect these archetypal dynamics. Grof (2001) notes that the predictive tool, astrology, ironically turned out to be even more controversial than his work with LSD! Psychology of the Future (2000a), in all versions but the English language one, contains a chapter entitled “Psyche and Cosmos” which talks about holotropic states of consciousness, Archetypal Psychology, and transit astrology. In that chapter, Grof explores the supportive evidence for the ancient science of astrology that Grof garnered from modern consciousness research. Psyche and Cosmos Chapter

Grof and Tarnas have worked together for several decades and have systematically studied the correlations between the nature and content of holotropic states and planetary transits. Tarnas, an accomplished scholar and astrologer has extensively studied these outer planetary transits. His first book on the subject Prometheus the Awakener (Tarnas, 1995) is an archetypal study of the planet Uranus, which Tarnas metabletically argues, should have been named Prometheus. Tarnas’s most recent work Cosmos and Psyche (2006) dovetails with his acclaimed text The Passion of the Western Mind (Tarnas, 1993) and traces different the outer planet transits throughout history.

Grof and Tarnas (2002, 2004 seminars), in describing the perinatal matrices and their astrological correlates, use examples from various movies, art, literature, and music. During my coursework, I found that I kept running into this same death-rebirth pattern in different classes, and I created a game to demonstrate how this pattern showed up, along with explaining the matrices and their outer planetary archetypal correlates. So, I will follow in their footsteps, using different media to give a feel for the different matrices as I present: Monomythopoly: Eternal Return Edition™, following Nietzsche’s lead to deal with great tasks through play. Then, in the following section, the "Kaleidoscope of Culture," we will get to look at various different planetary archetypal aspects and see cosmic play in action.


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