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The Sun Thing


“Back to the sun thing again.”

The publishing industry is in turmoil. The effort to create, adapt to, and benefit from change is feverish on every front. How will things shake out? Will Amazon rule? Will the e-book rule? Will bookstores disappear? Will writers be able to make a living from their work? Apprehension reigns in this industry, but another more general question arises: Is there any aspect of modern life that is not in turmoil?

That question sent me to the bookshelf for Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas, which was published back in 2006. As stated on the flyleaf, the purpose of the book is “to demonstrate the existence of a direct connection between planetary movements and the archetypal patterns of human experience.” Tarnas is a professor of philosophy and psychology who has always been interested in the esoteric. An earlier book, The Passion of the Western Mind, is a narrative history of western thought, a besteller, and now required reading in many universities.

I think of his interest in astrology as a search for correlations that can illuminate the moment. We are currently influenced and will be until 2020 by what he describes as a Uranus-Pluto square. The 1930s and 1960s were also influenced by this alignment, and Tarnas speculated back in 2006 that we would face similar challenges. These include the following, summarized from text:

  • Heightened impulses for radical social schange and cultural creativity
  • Accelerated technological and scientific advance
  • Empowerment of progressive and reformist political movements
  • Intensified ecological activism
  • Changes in the global balance of power
  • Intensified feminist, civil rights, and countercultural activity

Of course the list looks very stressful, and the times are. However, Tarnas discusses another correlation at the beginning and at the end of this work that serves as reassuring set of bookends. He points out that the current moment astronomically is most comparable to a period of time beginning in about 1500 that was a high point in human history. It coincides with the birth of what he terms the “modern self.”

In 1512 Copernicus introduced his heliocentric hypothesis that revolutionized our sense of place in the world. During about one generation, Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, Erasmus and Thomas More, Pico della Mirandola, and Martin Luther took the stage, and transformation began. Interestingly enough, this brief span of years was also a time when the printed book emerged as  a new medium of universal communication. It caused the cultural creativity and dynamism to spread like wildfire.

So here we are in another era convulsed by change. However, the paper book may be yielding to the electronic book as the foremost means of sharing the thoughts of a rapidly evolving mind. As uneasy as the revolution makes many of us, we have to concede that electronics may be a much more powerful medium of communication than the printed book at a critical juncture in history.

If one is open to the idea of astrological influence, this is a moment when history can be reassuring. Richard Tarnas is the kind of intellectual giant who can, in fact, open the mind to this possibility. And at this moment, all we may need is some catalyst like the heliocentric hypothesis–an idea that is scientifically accurate but not yet provable about our role in the world–to cause transformation to begin. One wonders if that idea could be the human influence on global warming. Back to the sun thing again.

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