Gerry Goddard's Memorial Website Home Page


by Gerry Goddard



While astrology is certainly enriched through its capacity to incorporate ideas from outside its own field, a mature astrology, through its dynamic, bi-polar, dialectical, and archetypal structure, actually provides a powerful tool which can be applied to resolving some problematic paradigmatic differences pervading certain fields beyond its normal purview. In this paper I would like to briefly touch upon one area where the unique logic of the astrological perspective may bring some foundational clarity; namely, the issue of gender relations as integral to the fundamental dimorphism within individual and collective human experience up to the point that human consciousness -- understood as both individual and collective potential -- goes transpersonal and decisively trans-gender. The particular symbols of Mars and Venus, Sun and Moon (1) can be employed as tools to examine inherent sexist skewings within otherwise broadly insightful accounts of evolutionary development.

Part I -- the Psychological Dimension

Gender dimorphism & the astrological archetypes

Perhaps no contemporary topic arouses more controversy than that concerning the nature of gender relations and the particular imbalance of power which exists between men and women. Yet no foundational discussion -- political, historical, psychological, or existential -- can engage the root of humanity's problems without uncovering and articulating the underlying nature of gender, without engaging this conversation which is so profoundly threatening to the psychosocial status quo. The obvious inequities and injustices of society now addressed by a new emergent awareness as ethnocentrism, racism, classism, sexism and heterosexism are the manifest forms of complex underlying processes at primal psycho-social, existential, and historical levels. Before the deep feminist perspectives of the last decades were voiced, the most insightful accounts of the nature and development of human consciousness were skewed by a dominantly masculine perspective which obscured a deeper dialectical interplay of the masculine and the feminine. This dialectic has manifested through the sociocultural interactions of men and women in unequal and asymmetrical relationship within the patriarchal culture of the last several thousand years; but its roots go back further into the archeological pre-history of the Great-Mother mythic-based agricultural and essentially peaceful societies of old Europe and by contrast, into the prehistory of the sky-god mythic-based pastoralist/warriors of the 'outlying' regions; and then back still further to 'archaic-magical' times of the original hunter/gatherer bands of the earliest humans or hominids.

Although the astrological picture gives us an archetypally pure framework in relation to which real planetary movements translate into the concrete time-space realities of society and psyche, how we interpret this picture brings in the entire substance of human cultural history! As much as we would like astrology in its pristine transcendence untouched by our 'polluting' concepts to give us 'answers' to our deepest questions, these 'answers' are as much determined by the assumptions embedded in the questions that we plug into the framework as by the nature of the framework itself. In this way we are never free of the particular paradigmatic orientation that we bring to the symbols. Nowhere is this more critical than our views as to the nature of gender and gender politics which foundationally effect how we interpret the meaning of the central symbols of the Sun and Moon, of Mars and Venus.

In his article "The Astrology of Homophobia", Peter Clamp rightly points out that the astrological symbols are essentially transgender and "should not necessarily be solely aligned in human terms with physical men and women. "A woman can 'project' her Sun and Mars on to a woman just as easily as a man" and also these planets can readily "symbolize the woman's ability to direct and take charge of her life...both planets can symbolize a great many things to do with being centered, individuated, focussed and assertive, qualities which are beyond the narrow, culturally defined, stifling categories of gender". This is indeed true of the archetypal essence of the astrological symbols and Clamp's essay is an expression of an enlightened viewpoint which reflects precisely the historical stage, deep structure, and level of evolutionary development which we are potentially and hopefully moving into at this time in history. But history, which signifies the very structures of our consciousness, consists of real men and real women giving manifest form to the archetypes through archaic, matriarchal, and patriarchal periods. Archetypally speaking, the Mars and Venus principles may be symmetrical and complementary polarities, but in fact we know that Mars (as the agentic/assertive male) has dominated and even oppressed Venus (as the connective/responsive female) throughout history so that men or women coming to the birth chart consequently tend to come from different structures of consciousness. These different structures or 'ways of knowing' are not simply 'surface' features or cultural colourations -- they are universal structures cutting across all cultures at, in Ken Wilber's terms, the self reflexive 'mental-egoic level'. These are not superficial social relations and practices that can be simply changed like moving furniture around a room as in the view of liberal feminism which tends to minimize the biological and primal/physical ground of the play of bi-polar archetypes. (This is not to minimize the importance of liberal feminism as playing an absolutely essential socio-political part in the dialectics of contemporary evolution). The very foundations and superstructure which embody these relations must be transformed; but first they must be deeply understood. To understand where the individual and society is to go next, we must understand individual and collective history in relation to the astrological structures: our concepts, ideas, practices, and paradigms shot through with gender dialectics, are woven into the archetypal fabric of the pure symbols. Astrological understanding consists of unraveling these complexities!

Yet despite the saturation of the symbols with historical content, the archetypal polar logic of the symbols can be a guide to clarifying some of the theoretical confusions in various models of the development of human consciousness. What is most remarkable about astrology is that our deeper understanding of these planetary polarities reveals the very foundational dynamic polarity which centrally constitutes and informs the individual psyche and the course of history. Fundamentally, these symbols are to be understood in an archetypal, entirely gender neutral sense as symbolizing the interplay of yin and yang, agency and communion, individual and collective, intentionality and relationship, assertion and connection, outward expression and experiential interiority, and the interplay of consciousness and unconsciousness. Yet in terms of an overarching view of evolution and human development, the relation of consciousness and unconsciousness is to be understood not only as a lateral dynamic interplay of polarities (where the Sun/Moon relation shares the same polar logic as the Mars/Venus relationship), but as an overall linear movement from an originally largely unselfconscious condition of absorption in nature to an increasingly complexified and differentiated level of self-consciousness; namely, as a developmental movement from an organic, instinctual, material, pre-reflexive, mythic, and primal lunar level to a rational, self reflective, conscious and mental-cultural solar level. As contemporary psychology sees it, we grow and develop by becoming more conscious; that is, we develop through a movement from a lunar to a solar level. In this sense, the Sun and Moon are taken to symbolize, respectively, the 'rational' and autonomous self and the 'instinctual' and conditioned body, individualized mind and collectivized nature, science and myth, the path of autonomous individuation and the tendency to regressive fusion, the egoic self and the infant/mother 'uroborus'.

Overlaying the polarity -- the tension within each of us, both male and female -- of the need for relational connection (Venus) and the need for assertive independence (Mars), is the more complex and all-containing interplay of consciousness and unconsciousness. Then still further, giving manifest form to this complex of bi-polar principles, is the concrete psychosocial interplay of gender. Because of this double sense which the Sun and Moon symbols are made to carry, we need at least two axes -- horizontal and vertical -- along which to conceive the multiplicity of symbolic meanings in order to avoid logical category errors -- precisely those conflations which lie at the heart of modernist and patriarchal culture but which can also be found, in a different way, in certain feminist conceptions of history. When taking the Moon to naturally symbolize the mother, whether as the matrix of nature or as the personal mother, we then quite reasonably deduce that the Sun, as 'not-nature' must symbolize transcendent mind or spirit, and as 'not-mother', 'not-woman', must signify the father. Extending this to all men and women and combining the symbolism of the Sun and Moon as the path from the primal/instinctual to the rational and advanced level with the sexually differentiated assertion/connection dynamic (Mars/Venus translated into the Sun/Moon symbolism), we can begin to see the root of gender inequity, the devaluing of the feminine. Reason, autonomy, independence, and consciousness (cultural public life) have become identified with (and belong to) maleness, while body, instinct, dependency, and unconsciousness (detailed, practical and foundational domesticity) become identified with (and belong to) femaleness!

Here is the very conflation of history: and history has made us what we are! This conflation constitutes the truth of the human condition -- it is exactly that which has shaped our society and each of our psyches even now, even among the most aware of us today! What is unacceptable about such a conflation is that we finish up with a symbiotic and oppressive asymmetry, not an equal and complementary polarity. We cannot avoid the problem simply by saying on the one hand that the Sun and Moon are actually equally male and female or, on the other, that the relationship of the Sun and Moon has nothing to do with the developmental interplay of consciousness and unconsciousness (or spirit and matter). The challenge is to understand how and why the gender identifications have come about and where we 'must', or rather, where we are 'developmentally required' to go from here.

Sexist skewings of Sun/Moon & Mars/Venus

Contrary to traditional patriarchal thinking, the development of mental-cultural solar values beyond the organic/instinctual lunar domain does not privilege the male either archetypally or biologically at the brain-nervous system level. But in fact Solar selfhood has been, for complex and deep lying reasons, the domain of males from which females have, for the last few thousand years, been excluded. How has this come about? There are clearly biological differences between males and females on average symbolized aptly by the Mars/Venus relationship even though at the same time, in a non gender sense, all individuals are constituted by this polarity. In terms of natural selection in relation to varied environmental/geographic conditions, such differences (completely prior to intellect and creativity) may be emphasized or de-emphasized (pictured as a convergence or divergence of the gender differentiated bell curves). Because of the lunar function of childbirth and lactation the Moon is biologically biased toward the Venusian feminine so that in the early cultures (which had not yet evolved to a solar level), the central principle was that of the Lunar feminine, the Great Mother, or Great Goddess. But this would be replaced by a repressive patriarchy established through a dominant male pantheon of gods and later the One male God. What was the nature and what was the reason for this change which can be seen either as a developmental step or a retrogression? This question must be addressed psycho-socially, historically, and archetypally. In order to map a more adequate picture of the structure and development of consciousness than existing accounts -- traditional, transpersonal, and feminist -- we must understand the nature of the psycho-social gender polarity and begin by tracing the way that the fundamental androcentric distortion has skewed the perspectives of twentieth century psychology.

Through feminist research and theory (Gilligan, Chodorow, Dinnerstein, Baker-Miller), it has become apparent that the ideal of self development, of the formation of an 'autonomous' 'individuated' and distinctive ego, embodies an essentially male paradigm of selfhood. In identifying the predominant mode of self formation through separative distinction as male, these theorists are implying that there is another equally valid way of self formation, not simply an alternative to the achievement of autonomous selfhood such as staying home and looking after the kids (and later, one's aging parents) rather than developing an empowered self out in the world. This latter view (which may be historically true to some extent but there is more going on here) would simply see the problem as the exclusion of women from the opportunity to develop an autonomous self, while failing to perceive that the prevailing paradigm of self development is critically lopsided and partial and in some deep way biased toward a distinctly male perspective. I believe such a view is implicit in the liberal feminist position which misses the archetypal gender dialectic as it manifests at biological and original primal experiential levels -- this inadvertently supports the patriarchal paradigm while allowing women more freedom of participation within it, thus perpetuating the dangerous one-sided destructiveness of society. It is as if we argued (as it seems does Clamp) that Mars and Venus are not gender related except by a projection of random conventions!

The prevailing paradigm of self development -- a Martian and separative paradigm -- legitimately arises from something deep in the masculine experience which marginalizes and devalues the feminine and cannot be characterized as one generic, 'one-size-fits-all', mode of being. The feminist theorists cited above are implying (if not quite explicitly in these terms) that the account of individuation as separation, distinction and autonomy constitutes only one pole of a more complex bi-polar psychic structure and process which includes, as essentially equal and opposite to the agentic/assertive mode, the dimensions of relationship and connection everywhere evident in female experience and behaviour.(2) This other mode of self formation, exemplified by women, is still concerned with the differentiation of a distinct self, but is a process which differentiates first in order to relate rather than to act separately. We see here within the astrological picture, a confirmation of the dominant male actional and epistemological orientation -- agentic, assertive, competitive, separative -- as the Mars archetype, and the feminine orientation -- communal, responsive, cooperative, connective -- as clearly the Venus archetype.

The connective pole which is rejected by men in their own self formation, is almost exclusively relegated to women and held to be essentially inferior, or at least secondary. The male understands relationship -- the communal pole -- as the primal fusion with the mother against which he had to struggle in order to establish his autonomous identity, in order to accomplish the primal differentiation which all selves -- male and female -- must accomplish. The female does not fail to establish a self, or succeed only in establishing a weaker self because of her remaining more 'fused' with mother. But she does not establish the kind of separative and assertive self (Mars) as primary. It is the agentic (Sun/Mars) self which has become paradigmatic for self or ego, unfolding according to the traditional patriarchal mythology of the hero. It is as if the Sun's primary valency was Mars. Of course, as astrologers aware of the essential logic of the 'trans-historical' birth chart, we can see most clearly how one-sided this view of the 'self' really is.

As we have said, archetypally the Sun signifies the development of a conscious differentiated selfhood, the essential birthright of both men and women, yet it is a dimension which has been historically hijacked by the agentic, assertive, Mars principle. The Solar self is then, in our phase of history, not the Sun connected to Mars/Venus but the Sun connected to Mars primarily! So solar selfhood and consciousness, the dominant societal orientation, is not the Sun, but Sun/Mars, the masculine mode of selfhood which develops by drastically separating from the Lunar mother-matrix. As the feminist object-relations theorists Nancy Chodorow and Dorothy Dinnerstein define it, since the primary parent is female, the male identity, formed at the primal/instinctual pre-oedipal period of development, is formed as 'not-woman', whereas there is no such decisive and extreme differentiation from the mother by the (same-sex) daughter, although a more gradual differentiation of distinct selfhood does take place.

There was always an obvious difficulty in denoting the Sun as the self and the Moon as mother, as feminine, as anima, without implying that women were immature, that they had not developed an autonomous self and so on. If the male unconscious is anima and developing consciousness, as Neumann describes it, possesses a masculine character as it emerges from the feminine unconscious and collective matrix, then anima is clearly the lunar feminine as the sun is the masculine. But then the conscious of women must be the moon and the sun the animus, meaning that women are essentially unconscious in that they do not develop a powerful, autonomous solar consciousness. However, if they do develop their solar selves, they are by definition seen as 'animus possessed', the mirror of the 'anima-possessed' male who fails to differentiate from the lunar mother/matrix. Despite the deep archetypal insights of Jung and his recognition of the centrality of polarities in the interplay of the conscious and the unconscious, such sexist skewings pervade his account of individuation which is especially relevant to astrologers because Jung has been so important in the formation of contemporary psychological astrology!

Two modes of the Sun/Moon Relation

We can see that the difference in structure between the conscious selfhood achieved by the sexes cannot be reasonably symbolized by the Sun and the Moon but rather by the polarity of two different modes of Sun/Moon relationship; namely, a Sun distinct from and 'above' Moon, and a Sun in more balanced connection with Moon (the term 'balance' here is not equivalent to the idea of the 'integrated psyche'). The "self" cannot then be properly symbolized by the Sun but by the Sun/Moon relationship (3) In the male, the Sun is separate and dominant over the Moon -- the moon is controlled and repressed -- drawn out by a primal biological and early son/mother relational situation symbolized by the separative Mars principle. In the female psyche, the Sun and Moon, although distinct, are still connected, still in some sort of non exclusivist balance -- that is, up to the point that patriarchy 'allows' women any development of the Solar principle (as worldly social participation and empowerment). Women have been kept lunar (operating only in the private lunar sphere) by the patriarchal structure which affirms the Sun and the Moon as simplistically symbolizing the difference between the sexes. Only when the implications of the bipolarity, not of the Sun and Moon, but of the two kinds of Sun/Moon relation, are fully recognized intellectually, existentially, and collectively, can we move toward true wholeness! Wholeness means an integration, not of the Sun and Moon principles per se, but of the two modes of Sun/Moon relations in relation to the Mars and Venus principles operating in 'both/and' relation within the psyches of individuals of both genders as well as coming to constitute the structures of collective consciousness, not just in terms of gender but of a balance between partness and wholeness. (4)

The natural and biological equal complementarity of the female Sun/Venus self to the male Sun/Mars self has been denied through outright oppression and exclusion. Men's alienated lunar function is projected onto women who are expected to identify and act out the mother archetype maintaining the absolutely foundational and necessary, yet devalued infrastructure of all male achievements. Historically, femaleness has functioned as the relational/familial Moon/Venus glue which maintains fundamental social cohesion which has allowed individualistic male heroics. The connective function -- the realm of Venus and the Moon -- has been understood as more primitive, as a primal fusion with mother and matrix from which the developing self -- Mars and the Sun -- has had to break free in order to achieve autonomy. The connectivity and relational capacities of woman then, by definition, are seen as operating at a more primal, unconscious and less individuated level. Because of the male's separative development, the 'matrix' viewed as feminine became a projection onto women which they then had to carry. Relational competence is seen as presupposing autonomy (seen in Sun/Mars terms) and hence it would follow that more men reach it than women; a blatant contradiction of fact!

Every psyche 'contains', or is centrally constituted by, an archetypal interplay of two poles; namely, a need for autonomous assertion (Mars) and a need for connective relationship (Venus). While both these needs and ways of experiencing are originally intertwined or predifferentiated, as consciousness develops (i.e. as the conscious self), one or other of the poles (it can't be both at the same time) tends to act as the primary structural nucleus of consciousness. This fundamental polarity of agency and communion, autonomy and connection, dictates, according to socio-cultural expression arising from the situation of mother as primary nurturer (Chodorow, Dinnerstein), that consciousness will constellate around one pole more than the other pole which will remain relatively unconscious. (This polarity will be expressed as a proportion rather than all or nothing). Where 'agency' constitutes the nucleus of differentiating consciousness as it does historically in most males, the experience of separation and distinction, the self as the self/not-self structure (the boy, being male is not-mother, and hence, not-other) is central. But where 'communion', the experience of relationship and connection, constitutes the nucleus of differentiating consciousness as it does historically in most females (the girl is the same as mother), (5) the nature of the self is structured by a 'self/self' connective identity. According to Chodorow and Dinnerstein, such primally formed gender asymmetry cannot be turned around until men become more and more involved in the early childrearing and nurturing situation so that the mother is no longer the sole primary nurturer. In Part II we will look at the way that this polar asymmetry has manifested as the oppressive dialectic of patriarchal history, itself to be understood, despite its horrors, within a larger context of evolutionary development.

Part II -- the Collective Dimension

Transpersonal Historical Accounts

Though not identical, the individual and society are inextricably intertwined; similarly, psychological development from infancy to maturity is intertwined with history. Given the holographic nature of astrological archetypes, their capacity to immediately bridge both individual and collective, there is no language more equipped than astrology to articulate and directly picture the correspondences or homologies between the 'deep structures' which unfold through individual development and the deep structures which have unfolded and, hopefully, are yet to unfold through history. (6)

Evolutionary transpersonal perspectives affirm a teleological unfolding of consciousness from an original state of pre-differentiated unselfconscious fusion with a living nature (anima mundi) through an increasingly differentiated, and dualistic sense of a mentally constructed egoic self, distinct and even alienated from a 'disenchanted' material world, and then ultimately to a realization of supra-personal or 'divine' possibilities lying beyond the divided self. But there is disagreement as to what constitutes the path to these higher levels that lie beyond the modern and postmodern forms of the 'mental-egoic self'. There are different viewpoints as to what constitutes the relation of 'mythic' society to 'rational' society, the 'instinctual body' to the 'mental-ego', unitary awareness to self consciousness, the pre-modern to the modern, the 'higher' to the 'lower'. In one view, akin to a Romantic and Jungian perspective, the transcendence of egoic dualism involves a process of reuniting with the original "ground" or totality (seen as the feminine), recapturing an original unity that was lost -- but now in full all-embracing consciousness where all previous dualities and conflicts are reconciled and resolved. In another view, the view of the transpersonal thinker Ken Wilber, while anything lost or repressed indeed needs to be recaptured, transcendence is actually an opening to something higher and entirely new. According to Wilber, seeking the 'higher' by idealizing the instinctual life of the body, the 'wisdom' in nature, the innocent spontaneity and blissful unity of infancy, or harking back to a historic time before 'things went wrong' -- all these are simply ways of seeking the higher by regressing to the lower.

The grand narrative of an original unity which eventually lead to a divisive separation and loss followed then by a reconnection with matrix (on an individual and hopefully, on a collective level) indeed captures an essence of the historical movement and validly points toward an eventual reconciliation with that which had been lost. But this account does contain certain limits which open it to trenchant critiques by Ken Wilber who is in turn vulnerable to critiques by the 'eco-holistic', 'new science, multicultural, "Jungian, and eco-feminist schools. It is beyond the scope of this essay to go into these. But I want here to offer my own modification of this "unity to separation to reconnection" narrative; a more adequate account, I believe, which is logically implied by certain insights of feminism and the bi-polar archetypal structure of the astrological mandala.

According to cultural historian, philosopher, and astrologer Richard Tarnas, the trajectory of history has up to now been an archetypally Promethean and 'masculine' project in which separative autonomy has been a necessary and inevitable step in a farther reaching teleological unfolding of human consciousness involving an eventual reconnection with the matrix from which one originally separated, yet now in full consciousness. But this metaphor of primal separation can actually be seen as growing out of a very real psychological condition; in fact one that primarily characterizes the male perspective as distinct from the female! While it is correct to point out that the male story has in fact been paradigmatic, to describe the transpersonal as a reuniting with the matrix from which the self originally separated is actually to take the male story as paradigmatic! As Tarnas describes it, "the masculinity of the Western mind has been pervasive and fundamental, in both men and women". Indeed it has! But an adequate transpersonal and evolutionary account must not itself by informed by the masculine perspective!

In the Jung/Neumann account of the development of consciousness, from an original state of individual/collective, conscious/unconscious fusion, there emerges a self in a dynamic relation to the 'collective' and 'collective unconscious' 'Ground'. Such a view pictures developing consciousness as an increasingly expanded and distinct self sense struggling against a matriarchal collective unconscious, increasingly 'interiorizing' collective unconscious powers within its own separate self structure, while differentiating from the ground unconscious. There is a general painting of the unconscious, the collective, as less developed, more primitive and 'down below,' a kind of powerful though lesser ocean (where the hero must later dip back down into in order to gain the 'treasure') which the self, as it struggles upward, is in danger of regressively falling back into. Such a view, while deeply insightful, carries androcentric implications, for although it purports to be a picture of human development, is actually, centrally, a picture of male psychology which historically marginalizes the female by identifying women with collective, unconsciousness, and primal nature placing the feminine beneath the male as something primitive, something which consciousness, identified with maleness, needs to fight against, distance itself from, and place itself above! It is misleading to adopt, as the fundamental metaphor, a notion of 'original fusion' as a tiny ego embedded in a Cosmic Ground which then leaves the Ground, goes on a journey far from the Ground and then returns to the Ground. Wilber is correct that this metaphor is untenable.

But notwithstanding the above arguments, the movement beyond the dualistic patriarchal stage and structure does indeed imply a reconciliation with and inclusion of that which had been background; namely, the feminine (i.e. the mode of 'differentiation-for-relationship') which had been marginalized by the dominant mode. But such an all-embracing reconciliation cannot be adequately expressed as simply a re-uniting with the original matrix of nature -- the unconscious 'ground'. This describes the male's need, who from his separative Sun/Mars dominance, needs to de-repress and reconnect in some way with the Moon. But what the male has done, and what the male is called to do is only part of the picture -- albeit the part that has gotten all the attention and therefore tends to be regarded, even by theorists, as primarily formative. The higher level integration (threshold to the transpersonal) which is our next evolutionary step implies a uniting of the male and female modes of original development: a uniting and balancing of agency and communion in the largest sense and in the gender sense without the divisive structures. The foundational division within mental-egoic consciousness is not the male 'self/not-self' division specifically (self and mother; self and matrix, conscious and unconscious), but the division that exists in all of us between the agency and communion -- the Mars and Venus -- poles of our being.

For the male dominant or Promethean society, this means that the masculine must now acknowledge, reconcile with and reclaim the marginalized and forcefully repressed feminine. But this is not to be symbolized by the Sun reconnecting with the Moon; but by an individual and collective space opening up so that the two modes of Sun/Moon relation can be integrated and balanced according to the principle of 'both/and' rather than 'either/or'.(7) It is of central importance to see that even the Venusian feminine connective mode has historically operated as an 'either/or'. Specifically, this means that men must now contact and awaken their communion (Moon/Venus) while women must contact and develop their agency (Sun/Mars) -- both moving more into balance without wild swings of the pendulum. But the generic non-sexual division between agency and communion, autonomy and connection, within both men and women -- not yet a truly integral relation -- still exists in an 'either/or' bi-polar and seesaw relation. Agency forcefully rejects and represses communion whereas from the communion pole, agency simply remains relatively undifferentiated, or through male oppression, forbidden for women to develop. So in this sense, the course of history for the last few millennia at least can be characterized as masculine because the assertive masculine epistemology (Mars) has inevitably come to dominate over the relational feminine (Venus)!

History and the whole complex dynamic structure of consciousness must be understood not by the dominant mode of maleness alone but by the interplay of the masculine and feminine principles and the interactions of real men and women. As we have seen, where the male's differentiation from the mother is that of separation producing distinction, the female's process of differentiation is that of emergence producing relationship. It is the interaction of these different modes (inclining to the Mars or Venus poles determining two sorts of Sun/Moon relation) which has determined the course of history! It is not the separation from the matrix (the particular male issue) which is the fundamental division at the core of the mental-egoic deep structure. Rather it is the archetypally inevitable division of agency and communion, autonomy and connection which informs the fundamental bi-modality of self development. In this more encompassing dialectical interplay, as consciousness increases and complexifies it is the male way of knowing and experiencing which achieves dominance over the female way of knowing and experiencing. It is the interplay of these gender differentiated epistemologies which constitutes the formative force of development, not the adventures of an agentic self which separates from matrix and then finds its way back -- the story which tends to colour and skew the post-Jungian view of development. Only in relative unconsciousness, or in super-consciousness, can an archetypal polarity manifest as anything other than a state of relative division and imbalance! It is in the nature of archetypal polar logic -- e.g. the two faces-one vase gestalt picture -- to appear in various degrees of 'either/or' unfolding between the 'both/and' ends of unconsciousness and superconsciousness.

But it is not only the prevalent androcentric perspective -- whether in its more Wilberian (8) form or in its more dialectical, depth psychological and 'Romantic' form -- which is imbalanced; feminist perspectives can also be imbalanced in another way. Liberal feminists emphasize the female's legitimate need to develop agency -- a more differentiated and solar nature with less grounding in lunar values -- without equally emphasizing the need for men to reconnect with the Moon; rather, they implicitly tend to accept male Sun/Moon separative differentiation as paradigmatic for optimum personal empowerment and autonomy without challenging the foundational dichotomous skewings of society. On the other hand, 'deep feminist' and 'eco-feminist' perspectives -- especially because they lack an adequately articulated transpersonal dimension -- tend, from a gynocentric perspective, to commit an imbalance from the other side of the coin. Like the 'New Age' with its emphasis on holism, the feminist perspective sometimes tends to embrace the connective pole as primary. Where the old and still prevailing paradigm centralizes the Mars pole, these perspectives centralize the Venus pole. But the higher level integration which I believe is our path to the transpersonal is actually a new connection possible only after the division between Venus and Mars and the accompanying dominance of Mars over Venus (the either/or nature of the 'Outward arc'). It is important to understand that Venusian connection and relationship do not bridge the foundational gap between Mars and Venus as some believe who hold the feminine principle itself to be the corrective new paradigm of holism (see Eisler below); rather, it is only one of the poles.

The Feminist Historical Account of Riane Eisler

Just as they constitute a dialectic within the individual and also between individuals -- most centrally characterizing the foundational gender dimorphism of society -- the Mars and Venus principles are also to be seen as characterizing collectives and the historical interactivity of collectives. Nowhere is the merging of collectives more formative historically and developmentally than in the series of cataclysmic encounters which occurred several millennia BCE between the ancient agricultural and essentially egalitarian 'matriarchies' and the pastoralist 'dominator' warrior/hunter bands invading from the outer fringes of old Europe and the Mediterranean. Riane Eisler in her classic work, The Chalice and the Blade (1987), points out that these peaceful agricultural societies were organized around the spiritual veneration for the Great Mother or Great Goddess and, though by no means utopian, were essentially egalitarian in nature, where men and women enjoyed a cooperative equality in private and public life.

Eisler characterizes two kinds of societies: those based on 'partnership' and those based on 'dominance'. We see here two societal forms each constellated around primarily either the Mars or Venus principle. (9) These old 'linking' cultures were almost totally destroyed and replaced by the patriarchal 'dominator' society we have known ever since. Minoan Crete especially achieved quite a high degree of cultural and technological sophistication without the development of domination hierarchies, thus challenging the conventional notion that such levels of left brain sophistication presupposed patriarchal and hierarchical modes of development. These Goddess societies do show a fairly high degree of solar development beyond the lunar level (in the vertical sense) demonstrating that some significant degree of solar (i.e. culturally conscious and intellectually sophisticated) development is indeed possible while remaining grounded in the lunar without excess repression and division. Insofar as Eisler's evidence shows that certain gylanic(10) societies (e.g.Crete) were, in certain respects, as advanced as the later Greek patriarchies, what it does show is that solar development is possible -- at least up to a point -- when primarily linked with Venus. Under friendly 'Venusian' geographic natural conditions, men and women coexisted under the Moon/Venus principle (the Mars/Venus relationship weighted toward the Venus pole). It was along this line -- within the archetypal Venus pole protected by natural boundaries of distance serving as automatic fortifications against the peripheral warrior bands -- that we eventually see the beginnings of Solar more advanced culture. But this was a Sun/Venus development; not Sun/Mars. And it would not be a truly higher level integral Sun/Moon/Mars/Venus culture for millennia -- and not even yet.

Eisler points out that these peaceful societies were not 'matriarchies' in that, unlike the polar opposite of the later patriarchies, women did not dominate men; they were socially equalitarian. But she downplays the fact that the male and female related under the Venus principle as primary, which was only one pole of the larger global picture. The fact that these societies were not dominator should not obscure the fact that the feminine principle was primary! This simply testifies to what we know the nature of the Venus archetype to be, since even when Venus is the primary value, it is by its very nature non-dominant! In fact, Eisler considers these societies to have constituted the next step in human evolution, attaining a higher degree of complex egalitarian order, and that they were unfortunately destroyed by the ('bad') dominator societies which had not 'evolved', thus setting back evolutionary progress several millennia -- an unfortunate detour of development! It follows that we now need to go back, rediscover and pick up that point before the 'unfortunate digression' of history Despite the absolutely central importance of Eisler's account drawing on evidence from numerous archeological discoveries and scholarship (Childe, Gimbutas, Mellaart etc.), I believe that Eisler's interpretation of her most important evidence is as one-sided as the more androcentric accounts of historical development.

Eisler's understanding of cultural evolution embodies an implicit 'ethical' bias: her concept of development means movement toward the 'better' which implies peace and cooperation rather than dominance and conflict. Implicit in her concept of 'development' is that 'linking' societies are good and are alone capable of higher developments, while 'dominator' societies are bad and not capable of any real development (except technologies of dominance and war) -- in fact it would have been better if they had never happened. Certainly, if we could realistically describe an actual historical movement from earlier conflict and dominance to increasing peace and cooperation, we modern liberal humanitarians would all willingly call this evolutionary development which would certainly satisfy our ethical sense. The slaughter and injustice against all, but especially women, has indeed been horrendous so it is admittedly difficult to think in terms of 'development' on the face of it. But such a linear and progressive 'improvement' is certainly not what has happened historically. Eisler fails to see that development ultimately leads toward the global and universal; that it inevitably involves the encounter of diversities, and the fundamental diversity is between societies organized around either the Mars or the Venus principle. Since Eisler's account of what constitutes cultural evolution contains an implicit ethical bias, her tracing of these two modes -- 'partnership' and 'dominator' modes -- along different and distinct lines, means that her concept of cultural development must be ruled out of court prima facie. The only possible development for Eisler takes place within the line which is already ethical and not possible for the line which is outside of ethics, namely the dominator line.

Such original societies with either a dominantly Venusian or Martian character can be understood quite naturalistically as originally having formed in response to friendly or to hostile natural environments, a foundationally formative condition of the world of nature. Since Mars, at the primal physical level of evolution, comes out most decisively under adversity -- fight or flight -- the unfriendly natural addresses of some societies brought out the dominant Mars principle. In answer to those who would Romantically venerate the Great Mother, the 'Great Mother' is as responsible for birthing those 'nasty' warrior societies as for birthing the peace loving agricultural societies. Contrary to Eisler, evolution was never truncated, but entered another, albeit most 'difficult' (and often horrendous) phase. It makes no sense to speak of the 4000 year 'setback' or 'detour', since evolution wants to integrate Mars and Venus. Connection in the sense that Eisler envisions it is not the higher integration of Mars and Venus. As we have said, wholism is not Venusian 'linking' -- it is Mars agency plus Venus connection. Eisler's way of holding this most important historical evidence indicates a lack of understanding (in our terms) of the Mars and Venus principles, of the dialectically driven process of history and cultural/psychological development. Where development proceeds for any length of time constellated around one of the dialectical poles, sooner or later there will be an encounter with the other pole. When we are dealing with archetypal polarities like Mars and Venus, if one is primary, sooner or later the pendulum has to shift to the other pole -- Jung's enantiodromia. Venus societies which had grown up within the natural protective 'fortifications' of distance could only last so long. Venus dominance will eventually swing over to Mars dominance, then gradually back again, at best, given enough time, to a middle ground of integration. (Eisler does actually recognize this pendulum effect in terms of backlashes to actual historical periods of gylanic 'resurgence').

Eisler automatically rejects the possibility that development in some way involves struggle and violence, by insisting that 'gylanic' societies already contained all that was necessary for further development; namely, those conditions of partnership and equalitarianism which we are now coming to value. Her utopian views as to what lies ahead are similarly slanted toward the Venus pole by treating androcracy as a mistake -- a merely false model of society -- which will just disappear, rather than as a mode as rooted in 'reality' as her gylany. Eisler is conflating the earlier state of Venusian dominance with the next step beyond our present predicament which is the equal polarity of Mars and Venus with neither Mars nor Venus being primary -- rather being consciously integrated both individually and socially. The earlier agricultural and 'connective' societies were not integrations of agency and communion -- they were communion based! Following her vision we would see a repeat of ancient history where certain future gylanic societies having somehow eradicated (rather than consciously integrated) their so-called androcratic elements would fall victim to persistent androcratic societies.

Historically, the dominator societies which grew out of the encounter of the original Martian and Venusian societies could not be reduced, as does Eisler, to 'power over' politics and economics. These dominator societies which would lead to the Greco-Roman civilization, the Eighteenth century Enlightenment, contemporary human rights and feminist movements, actually marked an important development of consciousness; namely, an awakening to the transcendent principle beyond nature. Anything positive over the last few millennia from Jesus to the best of Enlightenment ideas, rather than being seen as the possible outcome of the original encounter, are ascribed to a continuance, or a reawakening of the original connective or gylanic societies prior to the invasions! As Wilber points out, the Great Mother was still nature and myth bound. Reason in service to technology, whether peace or war, was not yet truly abstract reason (not fully self reflexive and universalistic), a mode of consciousness which would come to replace both myth and 'nature pantheism'. These developments arose from the albeit tragic encounter of Mars and Venus collectivities. Eisler attributes higher cultural development to the peaceful societies and a lack of development to the warrior societies. But both forms of society existed on a higher level of development (Wilber's 'mythic level') than the primal archaic level. (11) It seems that Eisler's sole criterion of development is that of 'stable social order' and relational connection. But stable social order is a collective principle which at this level is the Venus principle. Naturally, such an order could not have developed under the Mars principle of strength and power; but to call the one less developed is to overly limit the concept of development (unless it was indeed something like 'Neanderthals' attacking 'Homosapiens').

Concluding thoughts

Nevertheless, the existence and significance of patriarchy -- or the 'androcracy' of the last millennia -- is better explained by Eisler's historical evidence than by the more gradualist and theoretical account of Wilber. Wilber describes the repressive side of patriarchy as the differentiation of mind and body which unfortunately went too far into dissociation and repression. But we do not need to resort to this more psychological and insufficiently historical explanation that 'natural' differentiation just 'happened' to go too far into repression. Warrior cultures are as 'natural' as peaceful cultures, but they eventually and inevitably take over the globe. In this sense Eisler is right to put the repression into one pole, then see this pole as repressing the peaceful pole. But we need to understand the deeper dialectical dynamics which archetypal logic requires. As collectivities inevitably encounter one another and (dynamically) merge, Mars dominates Venus but does not absolutely destroy it. As Eisler points out, many peaceful cultural elements of the original Neolithic societies were adopted, but she does not seem to recognize that this was a step in a long and slow process to a possible higher level integration of Venusian and Martian elements which has already been partially realized.

The dimorphism that Eisler most significantly and insightfully identifies as foundational to the structure of patriarchal society is not a simple dualism of males and females where males dominate females, but a complex dualism between two fundamental modes of social organization (and consciousness); namely 'partnership' (gylanic) where males and females are equal and cooperative, and 'dominator' (androcratic) where males dominate females. And this has been demonstrated historically, though as Wilber would point out, such peaceful societies existed only at the mythic level. So rather than a simplistic division between males as (being from!) Mars and females as (being from!) Venus, we have here a distinction between two different modes of the Mars/Venus relation in relation to the Mars and Venus principles at what may be thought of as a meta-level. The astrological model agrees with Eisler that human development is constituted by a fundamental dimorphism -- absent as a central idea in Wilber's scheme -- but it cannot affirm Eisler's unbalanced interpretations, interpretations which lack an archetypal, perennialist or dialectical concept of history. What is needed is a truly feminist transpersonal model of consciousness.

Notwithstanding the profoundly important substance of the work of Wilber and Eisler, the astrological model with its multivalent polarities is more adequate to map the overarching dialectics of early developments than either of their explanatory accounts regarding the role and nature of gender. Contrary to Eisler's call, rather than focussing on getting rid of the 'bad' dominator elements and valuing only the 'good' connector ones, we need to focus on integrating both in a higher synthesis. This is precisely what is called for at our point in history.

What is needed is a more adequate account of the Mars/Venus and Sun/Moon polarities and the relationship of these polarities to each other -- a relation of relations -- in terms of historical evolution and contemporary individual psycho-spiritual development deconstructing sexist skewings in accounts, including that of Jung, and incorporating the findings and insights of deep feminist and transpersonal models of consciousness. Astrology enables us to keep in mind the underlying equality of archetypal opposites, even as their dialectical interplay produces temporary imbalances which constitute the various psyches and societies which exist at different historical stages and places. It is along these lines that I envision the creation of an overarching feminist astro-transpersonal model.




(1) I have followed the androcentric convention of stating the polarities as Sun and Moon, Mars and Venus, masculine and feminine, men and women, agency and communion in that order when the order could well be reversed. Interestingly, the order I have used is inconsistent with the commonly used phrase 'yin and yang'.

(2) For example, in the area of moral development, Carol Gilligan has brought a 'connected knowing' perspective and an ethics of care and responsibility more natural to women to complement the 'separate knowing' perspective and ethic of rights and principles mapped by Lawrence Kohlberg and derived almost exclusively from studies of men.

(3). In this sense, Jung was correct in distinguishing the ego and the 'self' where the 'self' is the totality of the psyche, hence more properly symbolized by the Sun/Moon integration -- his path of individuation -- than by the Sun. But in modelling this as the conscious solar ego and the unconscious lunar anima we get the sexist skewing which is certainly inadequate to describe the actual integration necessary at the threshold of the transpersonal.

(4) This is an important logical point to be made: in the part/whole relationship, it is readily understood that the whole cannot be divided up into the parts as the ultimate constituents. But neither can the parts be ultimately absorbed into and lost in the whole. A true new paradigmatic holism includes both part and whole simultaneously and non exclusively. Hence, Venusian connection is not higher or greater than Martian distinction and division. Holism refers to a higher level integrative balance of Martian distinction and Venusian connection, something of which few of us are truly capable as yet of manifesting through our larger being.

(5) The more marked sense of 'difference' in the girl's psyche comes at the later and less primal Oedipal stage as 'not-father', hence, 'not-other'.

(6) A 'deep structure' is a universal or cross cultural structure of consciousness; for example, Piaget's cognitive structures and Kohlberg/Gilligan's structures of moral reasoning. In this context, we are looking at such dimensions as self reflexive consciousness as distinct from both primal subconscious 'participation mystique' and trans-egoic or transpersonal Unity states.

(7). In this metaphor, development is driven by an archetypal interplay of polar opposites where the beginning is characterized by an unconscious and undifferentiated 'balance' of sorts between these dialectical principles. As consciousness develops the polar principles become more differentiated, but as they do, they function increasingly in 'either/or' terms since a truly conscious integrative balance of both is not yet possible. A truly 'both/and' integration is possible only at transegoic levels even though a movement toward a higher level 'both/and' is historically manifest as new paradigm developments of which a necessary restructuring of gender is an integral aspect.

(8) 'Wilberian' means, 'as in the perennialist model of Ken Wilber' which has been criticized as allegedly incorporating the logocentric, androcentric, and hierarchical thinking which has informed the dominant mode of European thought since Plato.

(9) Her 'chalice' and 'blade' representing the essential technologies of the peaceful and warrior societies are, of course, more specifically symbolized by Venus/Saturn and Mars/Saturn.

(10) Eisler's term 'gylany' refers to the 'partnership model' both historically and as a current model of evolutionary development. It incorporates the root of the feminine 'gyne' and the masculine 'andro' linked by the letter l.

(11) See Ken Wilber's works; but briefly, these deep structure/levels are: (1) pre-egoic and egoic levels: Archaic, Magical, Mythic, Mythic/Rational, Rational, and Centauric. (2) Trans-egoic or transpersonal levels: Nature/Psychic, Low Subtle, High Subtle, Low Causal, High Causal, and Ultimate.


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