“The old image of “sky” rests uneasily next to the modern idea of “space.” Now depth psychology sees the image of the star-studded sky as a visualization of the flickering sparks of consciousness within the dark vastness of the unconscious psyche.” Taschen, The Book of Symbols, p. 56
Tonight, December 21, 2020, will be the occasion of a rare event astronomers call the “great conjunction.” A conjunction is an instance of two or more events or things occurring at the same point in time or space. For example, the unusually bright star in the sky that shone at the same time Jesus, the “light of the world,” was born. Or the alignment of two planets, in this case Jupiter and Saturn, such that their combined reflected lights glow much brighter than usual, a spectacle also called the “Christmas Star.”
I mention this not just because Christmas is drawing near, but also to draw parallels between the star of imagination that brings the light of consciousness and spiritual meaning to humans, the synchronistic experiences that occur when one takes the symbols and images of dreams and myths seriously, and the fact that at this particular time in our lives we are seeing an extremely rare astronomical spectacle. So rare, in fact, that the last time this happened was almost 400 years ago, and then it only occurred in the daytime sky. It’s been almost 800 years since it could be seen at night as it will be again tonight, when almost everyone in the world will be able to observe it.
Why do I emphasize “this particular time in our lives?” Because 2020 has been an unusually chaotic, disturbing, and life-threatening year. A global pandemic that has killed more than 315,000 people in the U.S. alone. A rash of incivility and civil unrest we have not seen since the 1960’s. A presidential election that has arguably been the most contentious in our history. An outgoing president of a 244 year old democracy who is the first in our history to openly consider asking for military force to keep the president-elect out of the White House a month from now. This is a move that would shatter the foundations of democracy.
All of this is happening against a backdrop of a 50 year-old “New Age” movement that began to spread through the metaphysical religious communities in the 1970’s and ʾ80s. The essence of this movement was the intuition on the parts of spiritual leaders like Christian Theosophist Alice Bailey (1880-1949) and the German visionary Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), both of whom predicted a new and superior kind of spiritual consciousness, a “New Age” of love, light, personal transformation, and healing. Astrology has likewise predicted a new enlightened Age of Aquarius.
“Astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call projected – this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations. This originally gave rise to the idea that these factors derive from the stars, whereas they are merely in a relation of synchronicity with them. I admit that this is a very curious fact which throws a peculiar light on the structure of the human mind…. Carl G. Jung in a 1947 letter to Prof. B.V. Raman
Jung believed we are wired to seek a spiritual counterpart to the objective facts of physical science and to find a way to balance the two. He called this process individuation. We’re not just scientific or economic beings; we’re also spiritual, soulful, psychological, imaginative, symbol-making beings who yearn for personal meaning and wholeness. Neither is more important or true of us than the other. Both use languages and tools we are furnished with at birth.
“Synchronicity does not admit causality in the analogy between terrestrial events and astrological constellations … What astrology can establish are the analogous events, but not that either series is the cause or the effect of the other. (For instance, the same constellation may at one time signify a catastrophe and at another time, in the same case, a cold in the head.) … In any case, astrology occupies a unique and special position among the intuitive methods… I have observed many cases where a well-defined psychological phase, or an analogous event, was accompanied by a transit (particularly when Saturn and Uranus were affected).” – Carl G. Jung in a 947 letter
Finding and understanding psychological facts is a valuable endeavor indeed for those who wish to understand the psychology of humanity well enough to help us prevent the potential catastrophes that loom on the horizon in this time of transition. Most would agree that we are in great need of more love, light, and a new and superior kind of spiritual consciousness than the one that brought us to this point in time.
Whether you find imagination and the intuitive methods of astrological phenomena meaningful and personally relevant or not, I believe you will find the experience of viewing tonight’s Christmas Star in the southwestern sky to be a moving and beautiful sight. NASA advises us to go to a place where you can see the sunset. A half hour after that you will see Jupiter and Saturn 30 degrees up from the horizon.
With all this in mind, I invite you to watch this Pam Gregory video on the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter today here. It’s quite enlightening! Wishing you a clear sky tonight, a joyous Christmas, and a healthy and prosperous New Year.