The Holistic Approach

The philosophy of holism assumes that the entire universe is one whole system and that, within the great whole, there are lesser wholes whose structures, patterns, and functions correspond completely to those of the greater whole. The astrologers and philosophers of medieval times used the microcosm-macrocosm concept to express this idea: i.e., the whole universe is, in microcosm, within man; and, in turn, the starry patterns in the heavens were seen as the Grand Man or the Cosmic Man. An example of this sort of correlation may be seen in comparing a single atom to our solar system. The atom is a microcosm of the macrocosmic solar system. This same notion was called the "principle of correspondences" by the English metaphysical poets. The important thing about this approach is that, by studying the cycles and patterns in the greater whole (the planets), we can learn about the cycles and patterns within man himself.

The holistic approach does not assume that causality is the ultimate law of the universe; for if indeed the universe is one whole, how can anything ultimately cause anything else? Rather, the ancient law of correspondences between parts of a whole is a more appropriate way of looking at holistic phenomena. C.G. Jung calls this law of correspondences "synchronicity," an a-causal connecting principle; and, in reference to astrology, he points out that whatever is born or done at a particular moment in time inevitably bears the qualities of that moment. Jung uses the example of a connoisseur of wines who can judge merely by a taste the type of grape, the area where it was produced, and the year of vintage. This law of synchronicity explains why the horoscope is drawn for the moment of the individual's first breath, for that is the time when the new-born child begins his individual rhythm in tune with the greater whole of all life around him.

Another psychologist, Zipporah Dobyns (1971) explains her view of synchronicity this way:

I believe that the planets are part of the order of the cosmos primarily, and, as such, their patterns are enormously useful clues to the same order which exists everywhere. I believe that the role of the planets in maintaining or creating the order is minimal in comparison to their value as a map or blueprint of the order, (p. 8)

This same idea is expressed throughout ancient and modern literature and philosophy. Emerson, for example, writes: "The Laws by which the Universe is organized reappear at every point and will rule it." Lincoln Barnett (1951) further states: "Einstein's objective in the broadest sense is to show that all forms of nature — stars, planets, light, electricity, and possibly even the tiny particles inside the atom — obey the same universal laws." The primary use and value of astrology is the application of this knowledge of universal laws in our individual lives.

More than any other modern astrologer or philosopher, Dane Rudhyar has clearly and comprehensively expounded a holistic approach to astrology and, indeed, to psychology, philosophy, and all things that touch upon man as an individual person. During the past fifty years, Rudhyar has published dozens of books and hundreds of articles dealing with astrological, psychological, cultural, and philosophical subjects, the best known of which are The Astrology of Personality (1936), The Practice of Astrology (1968), Birth-Patterns for a New Humanity (1969), The Planetarization of Consciousness (1970), and An Astrological Study of Psychological Complexes and Emotional Problems (1966). In addition, he has developed what he calls "Humanistic Astrology," a new and modern approach to astrology which is entirely compatible with modern psychological techniques. More than any other person, Rudhyar has presented astrology in a thoughtful and sophisticated way that blends perfectly with the most hopeful insights of modern science, philosophy, and psychology.

The philosophy underlying all of Rudhyar's works is that of holism, the basic premise of which is that existence manifests at all levels in terms of wholes, i.e., organized fields of interdependent activities. For Rudhyar, astrology is man's most complete language of the form, structure, and rhythm of functional wholes. In one of his earliest books, The Astrology of Personality (1936), Rudhyar refers to astrology as an "algebra of life," that is, a way of understanding the order inherent in all life, individual and collective. Furthermore, he has this to say about astrology in one of his more recent works (1969):

Astrology, when we look closely at what it is able to interpret and give meaning to, appears as a symbolic language in which the structure in space and time of larger wholes (like the solar system) is related to the structural development of lesser wholes (an individual person, or humanity-as-a-whole). Astrology is indeed the practical application of a holistic philosophical approach to existence. According to this philosophy, every existential whole is contained within a greater whole which in turn is a lesser whole contained within a still greater whole. An organized system of existential activities is therefore both the container of lesser wholes, and one of the contents of a greater system, (p. 35)

Astrology, as I see it, essentially is dealing with cycles of motions and cosmic (or bio-cosmic) rhythms. It is dealing with "form" or gestalt — with structuring principles inherent in every organized system of activities; thus in every whole. It is not a question of literal, direct, external influence exerted by some celestial body upon entities living on this earth. Astrology is a way of studying and understanding the arrangement or organization of a few essential functions and drives in every organized whole of activity. In olden days this concept was expressed as the structural correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm; but originally it was the entire earth which was seen as the microcosm, analogical in basic structure to the whole universe. Only later on, as the process of human individualization proceeded and individual persons emerged from the all-pervading and totally controlling matrices of tribal societies, did such individual persons come to be regarded as microcosms — a fact which Jesus powerfully affirmed when he said: "The Kingdom of heaven is within you." (p. 93)

Even so eminent a scientist as Teilhard de Chardin confirms the value of a holistic approach to life, as, for example, when he writes that the simple can be understood only in terms of the more complex. The psychologist Rollo May (1960) says much the same thing:

... it is only a half truth to hold that the organism is to be understood in terms of the simpler elements below it on the evolutionary scale; it is just as true that every new function forms a new complexity which conditions all the simpler elements in the organism, (p. 686)

The Energy Approach

At the present time, the holistic philosophy is for many people the most aesthetically and intellectually satisfying approach to astrology. Yet there is one other approach to astrology which is only now beginning to take clear form and which holds the possibility of resolving many of the differences between advocates of other points-of-view. This approach deals with the essential energies and energy patterns operating through individuals, and these energies are symbolized by the planets and signs in the horoscope. Part II of this book is an attempt to present in a systematic way this approach to astrology, a point of view which focuses upon the fundamental energies which enliven each of us. The energy approach to astrology is in essence a holistic approach, for it incorporates all dimensions of man's life simultaneously. It should be stated at this point, however, that much work is presently under way which sheds light upon the subtle energies within man and the specific forms of energy in all of nature. The fact seems clearer all the time that a blind adherence to a purely causal thought framework will never enable us to develop a comprehensive theory of astrology and may even prevent our understanding the proper uses and rationale of astrology. As the Swiss physician-astrologer Alexander Ruperti (1971) writes:

Where Paracelsus speaks of identity of Macrocosm and Microcosm, where Rudhyar speaks of the principle of sympathetic resonance of all parts of the universal whole, where Jung speaks of a synchronistic principle governing identical manifestations of psychic phenomena in terms of time, modern astrology, because it follows the scientific attitude, insists on objectifying such correspondences into a law of cause and effect. In this way, modern astrology betrays its ancient heritage to the fetish of scientific respectability.

Astrology's true role has been, and should continue to be, that of demonstrating the existence of universal order at the level of development where man's attention is focused at any given time. The time of astrology's usefulness in bringing order to physical plane existence is over. Modern science is far better equipped now for this task than is astrology. But at the psychological level, man's nature today is in chaos, and it is for this reason that we suggest that astrology's highest mission, in terms of modern man's crucial needs, is to present a proof of the existence of harmonic order at the psychological level, (p. 6)

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  • mathias
    Is humanistic and holistic the same philosophy?
    2 years ago

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