By Amanda Moreno
I’m sitting here trying to write a piece for this week that is intelligent and interesting. Mostly, though, I’m trying to keep it out of the personal realms. I once again find myself needing time off from putting my own story out there. So I’m trying to be objective yet relevant.
It’s not really working, though. I’m sitting here marveling at how incredible this massive obsidian arrowhead ring feels on my finger and how funny it is that I have a very strong urge to put the piece of smoky quartz to my right on my forehead and just see what it has to say.
It’s the night before the equinox/eclipse/New Moon extravaganza and I know I’ll be doing some ritual tonight, but I got sick of trying to plan out the details, because I just feel the need to let go. But I also want to make the most of these energies. They do feel huge collectively speaking, and I really am leaning into the belief that we have come through something huge and now need to celebrate and then get the heck to work. I also have a point in a natal T-square at 28 Pisces, and it’s a T-square that sure could use some healing, so…I just want to ‘do the right thing.’
Can you hear the Virgo coming through? I have three planets in Virgo, and can attest to the fact that sometimes that Virgo energy feels like a mean trick. It’s so attention-to-detail oriented, and when it’s triggered as defense mechanism it analyzes for the sake of analysis rather than for the sake of finding a solution. It also feels like it just serves as a compulsive distraction sometimes — like it’s just focusing on all the microscopic, teeny-tiny little details in order to avoid the huge, screaming, totally undifferentiated abyss looming across the way over there in Pisces, threatening to swallow up all the details. Poor Virgo.
I write that and suddenly I remember a cultural anthropology class I took once. It focused on the changing images of Jesus over time. Cultural context is everything, and at this moment I’m reminded of the surfer Jesus of the Sixties — tan, bleach blonde hair, dazed smile. Totally, dude.
I went to a lecture given by Richard Tarnas last week. It was incredible and involved all of my favorite things — the evolution of consciousness, cosmology, bridging the mythopoetic and the analytic, paradigm shift, astrology as Rosetta Stone… It also got me thinking about the ways in which it does seem that we are evolving the archetypes over time.
Towards the end of the lecture, someone asked Mr. Tarnas about whether he used traditional or modern rulerships, ending his question by saying something to the effect of how some astrologers really think it’s OK to use modern rulerships and that ‘we really have to do something about that.’
I couldn’t help but laugh. One of my least favorite facets of religion (and I include astrology in this, as well as scientism, which can be just as fundamentalist as any other belief system) is a tendency to cling to ‘truth’ as if it is a rigid structure. Nothing makes a religion lose its vitality and relevance like refusal to change. That’s not to say that tradition doesn’t have a place, nor is it to say that teachings should not be handed down, but if religion can’t remain relevant to the hearts of the people, they cannot connect, and they therefore cannot orient themselves to their experience in a way that is meaningful — resulting in chaos.
The context of our lives is always changing, and as we adapt to that, our beliefs have to as well. There was a point in time when surfer-dude Jesus hit the spot. And then came the era of 50 SPF.
The archetypes, or the gods, are at one level timeless and at another level changing. Mr. Tarnas discussed the fact that there is a real drama being played out between human and god — we are playing a role in their expression. Carl Jung posited there was a second act of creation that is perhaps just as important as the first, taking place as humanity becomes conscious. That act of creation is god/gods/goddess/archetypes becoming conscious of themselves. Cultural context is everything here.
I tend to be the type of astrologer who believes there is a place for every kind of astrology, and who places more emphasis on the importance of the astrologer wielding the knowledge with respect and integrity. In my experience, Mars and Pluto are both very much relevant to Scorpio, in that the sign represents the merging of the desires of the ego and the desires of the soul. That understanding makes sense to me and informs the way I practice and use astrology, and it’s an understanding that is supported by my observations and experience.
As we shift into what Eric has called the ‘post’ 2012 era, I’m grateful for a spiritual framework and language such as astrology that helps us to know the faces of the gods, and relate to them through individual experience. Mr. Tarnas quoted Stanislav Grof as saying that astrology is the Rosetta Stone of the psyche. It helps to bridge the mythopoetic, romantic soul with the modern, scientific mind birthed out of the Enlightenment. I suppose in that sense it helps to bridge Pisces and Virgo. And hopefully, as we step into this new phase, it helps us to ground our experience in increased awareness of both the rational and irrational so that we can heal and trust and love.
“Healing” and “trusting” and “loving” — those all seem like good themes for a ritual. I do declare success! Thank you for reading.
Thank you, Amanda. i do, in turn, declare your guided meditation today to have been a worthy and delightful read. Your piece got me out of my own head just enough (and just long enough). i truly appreciate once again how your point of view always makes such an outstanding contribution to Planet Waves!
Oh you’re so welcome. The appreciation is mutual. And just for the record, the ritual was amazing and the afterglow is still bright.
Glad your ritual worked out so well.
“Carl Jung posited there was a second act of creation that is perhaps just as important as the first, taking place as humanity becomes conscious. That act of creation is god/gods/goddess/archetypes becoming conscious of themselves. ”
I love this, Amanda — and the reminder that the problem with religion, it is said, is that those who wish to control with it attempt to solidify its moments of mystic bliss; un-doable and un-thinkable, which is why dogma is so tedious and means so little, experientially. The majik is in the moment, and in the eye of the beholder and the heart of the experience, itself — God/ess’s godding. Excellent read today, thanks for sharing so much of yourself.
So Amanda, this is great stuff. I appreciate your analytical expressiveness and support your desire to keep the personal details of your life hush and private.
I’m wondering, based on what I’ve read, if you think Gods and Goddesses are merely archetypes. As a polytheist who interacts with Gods and Goddesses, my experiences suggest otherwise. There was a time when I favored the archetypal point of view, that is, until my experiences expanded and challenged me to reach a different understanding.
Just curious. I’m not after an argument here. There are lots of different ways to think and feel and experience. I’m no master of the mysterious.
Oh, wow – what a question!
The short answer is: I have no idea.
The second thought is: I wouldn’t say “merely” archetypes. I guess what that brings to mind is that it’s all language used to categorize an experience of something so huge and vast (and unknowable…or is it?) that any of the words will likely come up short, or not hit the spot for a given person. So in that sense I don’t think of describing something as an archetype makes it less than describing it as a god. Once again, it’s all about context. I tend to use the word “god” or “the divine” to talk about what I experience as that ultimate, unknowable, mysterious energy that seems to unite everything. I went through a phase, however, when you would never hear me utter the word “God” out of disdain for the Judeo-Christian associations. Then I reclaimed the word, knowing that when I used it it meant something new and different (to me). But then I start writing about psychology or astrology, and “archetype” seems to fit just as well.
One of the things my ol’ pal Rick used to try to illustrate the importance of context to our understanding of how these concepts are put into language, or put to use for that matter, is the difference between the Christian and the Greek conceptions of “God.” The Christian says “God is Love” after experiencing, for example, something beautiful in the world – like Beauty. The Greek, on the other hand, would see Beauty and say “that is a God/dess.”
Another thing that comes to mind, for what it’s worth, is the notion that coming into contact with an archetype in it’s pure form would obliterate the psyche, or dismantle the ego. We tend to only see them as reflected through the processes in which they constellate. A mother is an expression of the archetype of Mother, and we can see that as she nurses her baby. Makes me think about the notion of coming into contact with the “face” of god/goddess. Don’t religious texts and what nots describe coming into contact with the transcendent face of god as having a similarly disruptive, if not ultimately healing (or obliterating) experience? Hm
Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. I’ve been mulling it over, coming to a point where words will be of use here, in this most welcome discussion.
I suppose I used the word “merely” because if Gods and Goddesses are unknowable, vast expressions of the psyche and interchangeable with archetypes, then we are reducing Them to a human construct, or a function of human existence, if you will. Deities, as I in my very limited way understand them, would seem to exist independently of human beings. I like the common ground you identify with regards to both of these energies that are mysterious and huge and powerful.
It might be constructive if I asked you to give me a working definition of archetype. That word gets tossed around a lot and eventually can come to mean a wide variety of things or virtually nothing at all to my mind. (I’m waiting to receive Jung’s The Red Book from interlibrary loan, which I’m hoping delves into an exploration of archetypes, so I’m going to use a definition that I just found online. Please do provide a better one.)
“Deep elements of ourselves” is one description I found of archetype. It’s super interesting to me what you wrote about an encounter with an archetype in its pure form obliterating the ego and disrupting the conscious mind. Is that perhaps one way to understand people sunk into the depths of psychosis — that they have encountered that pure energy embedded in the unconscious and broken from this contact?
There are plenty of people I’ve read of who have been obliterated by contact with the Otherworld and its inhabitants. Others, yes, healed. Or empowered. Or given guidance. These Gods and Goddesses, as experienced by their devotees, possess and express their power in various ways, some of them what we would consider constructive and/or destructive, depending. I know it’s important for me to ground myself and take extra care of my body after contact, because whooshing off into the woo-woo lands of consciousness takes a toll, and I have walked fine lines between the obliterative and the ecstatic experience.
Words are so hard for me to use in expressing myself around these matters. Ultimate, unknowable, mysterious, yes, words I use as well when describing a deity. And when I recognize this, I feel like it makes room for the experience to teach me. Not that I can grasp or “know” (as in understand) these mysterious beings, just that I can come into relationship with Them and learn, as the interactions progress. When I was growing up with fundamentalism, I rarely encountered the divine in experience, unless I was outside, and monotheism provided me with a really shitty framework to approach it or come into relationship with it.
I went through a similar phase with respect to using the word “God.” I’ve been all over the map with regard to how I understand or do not understand that word. And I anticipate that will continue to be the case. I’m certain of virtually nothing. I know very little. Just curious about learning.
Now I’m wondering about how Gods and Goddesses (as I understand them in my funky monkey brain) shape our archetypes and their expression in our lives. Or if they do.
(A few years ago, I read this great piece of writing by a blogger I admire who was speculating that if our unconscious material ever became fully conscious that we would do nothing but sit hunched over, ceaselessly drooling all over ourselves, while occasionally muttering, “Wow.”)
Anyway, I thank you again for delving into this discussion with me. The common ground you’ve identified between archetypes and Gods and Goddesses seems to illuminate and obscure, all at the same time. Ain’t that life, though?
(Regarding the paraphrase of the blogger: That’s a fair description of what I used to do after attempting to watch FOX “News.” If that can happen after encountering the shadow of a specific group, uh oh.)
Oh, let’s see here… My “Jung for Beginners” comic book thing defines archetype as: Universal patterns or motifs which come from the collective unconscious and are the basic content of religions, mythologies, legends and fairytales; emerging in individuals in the form of dreams, visions and fantasies. The archetype carries specific energy and is capable of acting upon the world.”
My go-to definition is something along the lines of: Archetypes are primal energies that guide and orient instincts.
What the hell does THAT mean? I might have to rethink that one.
The Red Book is incredible, but I don’t think it will give you an “understanding” of archetypes in that it’s essentially Jung’s personal writings and paintings from the four years he spent exploring his unconscious, and therefore he hadn’t really formulated his own theory of the archetypes (a concept which actually ‘originates’ with Plato).
I highly recommend “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” which is Jung’s biography (the first three chapters or something like that are written by him, and the rest is put together by someone else). It’s the most accessible thing Jung ever wrote. I believe I have a paper floating around here somewhere that I wrote several years ago about archetypes that I’d be happy to send to you – just email me (email@example.com).
As to the blogger’s speculations, that’s quite interesting. I’d almost say the opposite in some ways. The incredible repression of our unconscious material seems to have led many people to be doing just that, at least metaphorically speaking (er…and sometimes literally…). For so much of the world, however, the repression of unconscious contents actually results in the flinging of all kinds of primitive and shadow material in the form of warfare, hate crimes, ecological degradation, etc. By bringing the unconscious material up for review we get to learn what it feels like energetically in our bodies so that we can do something creative with it rather than just letting it destroy us…
Hello again, Amanda. I couldn’t see a way to reply to your reply in this thread.
So based on the definitions you’ve shared, I see plenty of room to understand Gods as archetypes and archetypes as Gods. My experience bends me toward Gods as Themselves, but when I think about how astrology orients toward them as expressing energies in our lives, personally and transpersonally, I orient myself toward that point of view.
I’ve read “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” but it has been a few years. I’ll have to check it out again. Thanks for the suggestion!
I’ll be sending you an email in the next few days. I would love to read that paper.
So nebulous, this stuff, and I ask myself a lot, “What does that even mean?” Which is why it’s so helpful to have discussions like these.
I appreciate you lending me the value of your knowledge and experience. Blessings.
Gods, goddesses are role models as are archetypes, which forms you take from those you respect and admire can have a powerful healing loving energy which can influence behaviour and create positive change
Amanda, I loved your take on Virgo energy. I can relate with Virgo Sun/Pluto/Mercury. There is coming a time when I must learn to shut the mind off for longer periods as it just over works itself without knowing.
My MidHeaven at 28 Pisces Has made this last week and the current moment something profound, still attuned to what is unfolding, and determined to ride this wave for all its worth. I believe my journey has started a new leg and it is powerfully beyond anything I could have managed before – but now seems new and what has passed is become dream like. I seem to be releasing myself from a past that never was or has no bearing on where I am moving. Old things have passed away, all things are possible now. Where this train goes only heaven knows – but I seem not afraid!
On the question of Archetypes or Gods – I think the archetypes are the symbolism that is imprinted within our collective psyches as guides back to our spiritual truth, which we have been separated from. They are our internal connection to home. They also tell the story we are here to unravel. They work on every level of consciousness so they must be beyond language. They hold use subconsciously aware of our interdependence and interconnectedness. That’s – Just my two cents worth.
I’m feeling the whole new leg of the journey thing in a big way, too. It’s kind of lovely. I’m actually experiencing blocks to mental loops that have been with me for years. Like… my mind just can’t go there. Of course, there’s still the part of me that’s trying to chime in and say “by not analyzing the hell out of this, you’re leaving yourself open to betrayal and sudden shock,” but… well, I’m trying to trust.
Great piece, and discussion! Good to find you here!
Karen! Oh, I miss you so much! Good to find you here, too