Written by Pierz Newton-John
Astrologers often get caught on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, there is a part in all of us that longs for the sanction of our society, for the status of confirmed truth, even if we may sometimes enjoy imagining ourselves as someone who "saw further" than the rest. A lot of time and words have been expended on apologias to science, attempting to justify astrology on the basis of everything from "undiscovered forces" to quantum theory, yet always falling far short of anything resembling a scientific theory. On the other hand, we buck against the whole philosophical basis of science and decry scientists as blinkered bigots.
It's a thorny problem: how can we justify astrology, which ascribes psychic qualities to non-living matter, when our whole scientific paradigm denies the existence of qualities, per se, and believes only in the reality of the quantifiable attributes of the world?
Yet perhaps if we listen to what astrology teaches us about the world, instead of seeking to find an explanation that will allow it to fit into existing categories of understanding, astrology could open the door to a different way of knowing the world, in which qualities are considered a primary and irreducible reality. Astrology demonstrates that qualitative energies are not mere projections; they are inherent to the world. They constitute its soul.
This statement is, of course, an unforgivable heresy from a scientific standpoint. According to science, the only thing that is real in the world is its material structure. The qualities of things are regarded as purely subjective constructs, insignificant by-products of the brain's processing.
The World Soul
Once we make the leap of allowing the world to possess intrinsic qualities, we must admit the presence of something akin to an imagination in the world itself, an anima mundi, or world soul. Our current materialist paradigm sharply divides "imagination" from "world", seeing the former as belonging entirely within the brain of individual humans, the latter as consisting of external, purely material structures void of any imaginal dimension.
It is not only astrology that belies this view. Flashes of clairvoyance or precognition and striking synchronicities are phenomena that just about everyone has experienced at some time or another. The more deeply one delves into this kind of experience, the more one is forced to recognize a dream-like underpinning to reality. This dream world interpenetrates our ordinary reality, present everywhere and nowhere. Different traditions refer to it with different terms. Sufi scholar Henry Corbin termed it the mundus imaginalis, or imaginal world, coining the word "imaginal" to denote a kind of reality that is neither physical nor purely imaginary. It is the realm within which the dead, the angels, demons, and archetypal presences move.