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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

Seeing The World Through Archetypal Eyes

Tarnas (1995) reminds us that Jung brought us the concept of archetypes, which are “autonomous primordial forms in the psyche that structure and impel human behavior and experience and that are expressions of a collective unconscious shared by all human beings” (pp. 4-5).  Jung found that these enduring primordial forms “constantly arranged the elements of human experience into typical configurations and gave to collective human psychology a dynamic continuity.” Archetypes, Jung believed “while taking on the costume of the moment in each individual life and each cultural era, permeated each experience, each cognition, and each world view” (p. 5).  Richard Tarnas, in Cosmos and Psyche in explaining archetypes, quotes Archetypal Psychology founder, James Hillman, from Re-Visioning Psychology:

Let us then imagine archetypes as the deepest patterns of psychic functioning, the roots of the soul governing the perspectives we have of ourselves and the world. They are the axiomatic, self evident images to which psychic life and our theroies about it ever return . . . . There are many other metaphors for describing them: immaterial potentials of structure, like invisible crystals in solution or forms in plants that suddenly show forth under certain conditions; patterns of instinctual behavior like those in animals that direct actions along unswerving paths; the genres and topoi in literature; the recurring typicalities in history; the basic syndromes in psychiatry; the paradigmatic thought models in science; the worldwide figures, rituals, and relationships in anthropology.

But one thing is absolutely essential to the notion of archetypes: their emotional possessive effect, their bedazzlement of consciousness so that it becomes blind to its own stance. By setting up a universe which tends to hold everything we do, see, and say in the sway of its cosmos, an archeytpe is best comparble with a God. And Gods, religions sometimes say, are less accessible to the senses and to the intellect than they are to the imaginative vision and emotion of the soul.
They are cosmic perspectives in which the soul participates.  They are the lords of its realm of being, the patterns for its mimesis.  The soul cannot be, except in one of their patterns.  All psychic reality is governed by one or another archetypal fantasy, given sanction by a God, I cannot but be in them.
There is no place without Gods, and no activity that does not enact them. Every fantasy, every exprience has its archetypal reason. There is nothing that does not belong to one God or another. (Tarnas, 2006, p. 83)

Hillman’s son, Laurence (1999, online), an astrologer, [Link to website] invites us to see the world around us archetypally, in order to get a grasp on the Zeitgeist through astrology, which he feels “allows us a way to imagine the world differently; it is an alternative way for understanding human reality” (p. 5): 

Zeitgeist literally translates into “the ghost or spirit of our time.” While Jung gives our dreams such tremendous importance, a place where the archetypes appear in symbols, I would like to invite you to see the world around you as what my colleague Ray Grasse calls a “Waking Dream” in his book with the same title. It describes this wondrous idea that the archetypes surround us constantly, that we need not be asleep to experience them, and that reading the symbols in any moment allows us to enjoy the archetypes in action at that time. (p. 1)

In this section, we will explore these different “cosmic perspectives” in which we participate, focusing on the four outer planetary archetypes: Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, and we will consider how the “heavens are gathered.”  First, for those unfamiliar with astrology, an archetypal excursion is offered where we can take a brief look at astrology. After that, these cosmic players are introduced through their "Bio’s from the Cosmic Playbill," as it were.  Then, we will see how these outer planetary players act and interact with each other, in what Tarnas (2006) calls “planetary archetypal complexes,” as we explore how these planetary archetypes played out during the era of the turn of the Twentieth Century, and also in the depth psychology.  This section sets the stage for the later astrological aspects sections in the rest of the Kaleidoscope of Culture.  We will linger for a bit here at the turn of the century, to set a foundation, because this is the time that two of our cultural pieces— Disneyland and Mary Poppins (Stevenson, 1964)—imaginally look back upon. [link to Walt Disney's chart as an example] Handy little archetypal figures of the planets are available for you to click on in case you want a reminder of their archetypal meanings.  They are located at the top right under the spiral galaxy. ∆RC[in2]


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