In his concise and illuminating 1963 book, The Symbolic and the Real, Ira Progoff analyses the psychoanalytic movement as arising from the loss of stability occurring in western culture at the end of the nineteenth century. This is the collective loss of religious meaning (Nietzsche’s proclamation ‘God is dead’) and societal structure through the Industrial revolution that will culminate to the great wars of the twentieth century. Psychoanalysis is a genuine attempt to find a new kind of meaning to stabilize a new sense of identity in that changing world.
The importance of understanding the origins of depth psychology is clear when we recognize that almost all modern psychological or counselling based Astrology owes elements of its approach (whether people realize it or not) to the insights that originated with that movement and the multiplicity of developments that have occurred since pioneers such as Freud and Jung.
It is also not hard to observe that the loss of religious meaning and the stability of social contracts within society that began with the Industrial revolution has continued unabashed and that the collective milieu that produced the original movement of depth psychology is outdone by modern culture in which the pace of change is almost unimaginable: the curious reality that there was no real home internet usage prior to the 1990’s is illustrative in a world where I now have to routinely take question from my mother, a senior, on how to download photos or film.
Progoff notes a clear shadow in Freud’s work that he sees as limiting the experience of the human seeking assistance in orientating to this multifaceted world experience, that of seeing analysis only as a diagnostic tool. I believe this model of seeing the struggle of the individual as a pathology that must be analysed and manipulated still shadows many of the healing modalities current in the world today.
This is the medical fantasy that underlies the phenomenal success and profits of anti-depressant medication, of endless statistical reports on the mental health of the affluent wealth and the rise of certain short-term cognitive focussed counselling or coaching techniques. This medical fantasy, alongside the prominent technology as salvationmyth reached its zenith during the transit of Neptune through Aquarius. On February 3rd 2012 Neptune entered Pisces where it will remain until 2026.
Neptune in Pisces: the Healer as Evoker of Persons
Evoker of Persons is Progoff’s phrase of the role of the Healer (Therapist, Astrologer) in inviting the fullness of the being of both themselves and the others with whom their work to take central stage in the work, and in life. Progoff makes a critical point about the failure of the medical model for people who are just starting to get in touch with their inner life:
“…The culminating experience by which new capacities of awareness open to such persons to give new content and meaning to the activities of their lives, often looks deceptively like illness while it is still in its early stages. If it would be diagnosed and treated in the light of pathology at that point in its genesis, all the possibilities of development would be cut short before they had a chance to grow.”
He has named the greatest shadow of the current movement to give children as young as six or seven medication and the experience of many that I work with for which I can take one representative example to illustrate - A young man has a panic attach watching the movie Vanilla Sky at college and in the fall out from that experiences leaves college to return to his parents who do not know how to help and he is taken into psychiatric care for a week and then medicated for the next decade. What young man does not panic, I am tempted to say watching that film, but in all seriousness, what sensitive person does not experiences a crisis towards the end of college facing the world outside?
To be able to follow such a crisis without undue fear or resistance is potentially to deepen the deeper life within the individual. The response shown above, that could have been more sensibly handled by an old school practical general practitioner, illustrates the fear that many modern people (including doctors and psychiatrists) have encountering the inner life of another, and by extension, the life within.
With Neptune in Pisces over the coming years the hidden world within will become of central importance within the collective and individual life: many will run from its invitation into the forgetful arms of addiction, denial and resistance and yet many will not be able to stop themselves from falling into the world within. Can we help them?
“The ethical conduct of life in our civilization can be altered on the basis of these experiences…” writes Progoff: i.e. if we can allow the individual the safe space to discover the meaning of their falling within then we serve the evolution of the individual and the collective in which they can enrich through transcending the mass anxiety that dominates many collective structures (including the therapeutic) at this present time.
I hope that many, who like me, are interested in the fusion of a transpersonal therapy with a psychological or evolutionary Astrology (alongside many other healing modalities) can act as agents of this change, evokers of people’s true potential free of this collective fear of the life within, the most enriching mystery of all. As the life within, lived deeply, leads to the greatest encounter with the soul of the world.