Centauric Consciousness and the Humanistic Movement: The Implications for Astrology

Post date: Jan 28, 2013 10:05:32 PM

According to Wilber, the Centauric level is "the great level of the Human Potential Movement, of Existentialism, of Humanistic therapy, all of which take as their assumption the integration of mind, body, and emotions into a higher-order unity, a 'deep totality.' "[27] Paralleling this insight is the fact that the Human Potential Movement really began to flourish about the time of Chiron's discovery in 1977, and, as mentioned earlier, Wilber's first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness, also appeared at that time.

Humanistic therapies possess certain identifiable qualities. They focus on the development of autonomy, freedom, integration, authenticity, spontaneous will, intentionality, the search for meaning, and self-actualization. Wilber has labelled the Centauric therapies as "Humanistic-Existential," for he also includes the insights of the Existential philosophers on this level. The Existentialists, of the likes of Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Husserl, Sartre, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Simone De Beauvoir, were all preoccupied with the major dualisms of self vs. other and being vs. nullity.[28] This is why many of the writings of the Existential philosophers display such an intense preoccupation with death, alienation, angst, and despair. According to Wilber, it is at the Centauric, or Existential, level "that the counsels of the Existentialists are of such value, for they point out that on this level at least, I can find meaning in my life only by facing these two major dualisms through an act of will."[29]

All of this has profound implications for the type of astrology most compatible with Centauric consciousness, particularly in respect to that thorny dilemma of fate versus free will. Wilber states that the will is generated on the Centauric level. The central realization here is that "if I cannot choose my fate, I can nevertheless choose my attitude toward it." And herein lies our free will, or, as the Existentialists would put it, our "Existential freedom."

Wilber elaborates, quoting Rollo May: "In effect, I choose to be what I am — 'we are our choices.' This does not necessarily 'change the fate, but it greatly changes the person'. And there is no asking how this is to be accomplished — one simply does it, for that is our freedom: 'My first act of free will is to believe in free will.' "[30] What this suggests for astrological practice on this Centauric/Chironic level is that an awareness of one's ability to choose is crucial. I would suggest that the Centauric/Chironic astrologer attempts to enable and empower his/her clients through encouraging in them a sense of their own freedom and power to choose their attitude in the face of fate. The fate versus free will argument is therefore viewed from an altered perspective. It is no longer a question of fate versus free will, but of fate and free will. A Chironic type of astrology, I suggest, embraces a both/and approach to this issue. It resonates with the well-known Serenity Prayer — accepting what we cannot change, changing what we can, and knowing the difference.

Another aspect of the Humanistic-Existential therapies that is relevant to a Centauric type of astrology is the focus on the "here and now." According to Wilber, the mode of time on the Existential level is "the immediate, vivid, and living present,"[31] and it is this awareness or translation that is used by many Existential and Humanistic practitioners in their therapeutic work. In Emerson's words: " … man postpones and remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future."[32]

Fritz Perls' Gestalt Therapy is a fine example of this type of now-focussed therapy. The client is encouraged to "suspend 'mental chatter' and focus awareness on the immediate here and now. The therapist will watch … for any flight from awareness into thought."[33] According to Wilber, the Egoic-level therapies emphasize an exploration of the past, while the Centaur-level therapies actively discourage it. At the Centaur level, one focuses on the present but is not confined in it, rather grounded in it. The centaur "can still see the past and the future, still remember yesterday and plan for tomorrow, but it can see them as movements of the present."[34]

If we translate these Humanistic concerns of spontaneous freedom, choice, and focussing on the present, to the practice of astrology, we can see that a Humanistic approach must necessarily embrace such qualities. On the other hand, a "predictive" or deterministic type of astrology, and this includes natal as well as dynamic approaches, will tend to emphasize the past and the future. The preoccupation of the predictive astrologer is certainly to "stand on tiptoe to foresee the future." The emphasis is on what might happen, on fatedness and forecasting events, not on what is. Spontaneity is thrown to the winds and in its place we find an obsession with predicting and preparing for an unknown future.

Wilber points to numerous Humanistic therapists who he says belong to the Centauric level. These include Rollo May, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Erich Fromm, Fritz Perls, and various others. Each of these Humanistic therapists and theorists has stressed the importance of self-actualization and meaning, and this too provides a meaningful context for a Centauric/Chironic, or Humanistic, approach to astrology. Self-actualization, according to Maslow, is an impulse "toward actualizing more of our potentialities," toward becoming a "fully evolved and authentic self," to be the very best we are capable of becoming.[35]

According to Wilber, the search for meaning in life rests deeply on the Centauric, or Existential, level of consciousness. He offers some interesting insights on this subject that again tie into the way we may approach a Humanistic type of astrology. On this level, "meaning is found, not in outward actions or possessions, but in the inner radiant currents of your own being, and in the release and relationship of these currents to the world, to friends, to humanity at large, and to infinity itself."[36] Wilber stresses that finding meaning in life also involves accepting death in life, and this, recall, was the philosophical approach of the Existentialists. Life has no meaning because we fear death, and this recoils as a fear of life: "I have to be careful in life — I have to hold back, inhibit and freeze my entire being … there is no vision of my life and its meaning as a whole."[37] In facing death, we embrace life.

I like to consider what it is that attracts us to astrology, and I have long suspected that some of our deepest motivations may have their basis in fear: fear of not having control, fear of not knowing, fear of uncertainty, fear of chaos, fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of fate, and, of course, fear of death. What better antidote to this fear than the practice of a type of astrology which claims to know that fearful future before it arrives, which attempts to render the uncertain certain and the unknowable knowable.

Humanistic astrology, on the other hand, is very much concerned with the Centauric notions of self-actualization, meaning, freedom, and integration, which brings us to Dane Rudhyar.

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