Phenomenology of Astrology

This phenomenological exploration, originally written in December 2013, was published in the Fall 2016 issue of Immanence: The Journal of Applied Mythology, Legend, and Folktale.

Prologue: Cosmos in Ellipsis

As I climb higher up the gray switchback staircase of rickety wooden boards my body tenses with the increasing height, even as my mind knows I am safe, that the stairs beneath my feet will support me. Already present is that indescribable bodily sense, that physical intuition that seems only able to be captured wordlessly, by something as unarticulated as an ellipsis . . . I step out onto the gravel of the roof to be met by the sight of the flaming orb of the setting Sun. This closest of stars burns the clarity from the landscape, blurring the features of the horizon line being pulled toward it: hill, forest, and stretch of ocean I can only perceive in memory as the deepening gold of sunset shatters my sight into uncountable, undifferentiable monads of color.

Sitting on the wide ledge of the roof my body settles into an accustomed level of comfort at this new height. But if I lean closer to the edge, to glance below at the street, then this indescribable bodily sense flares up once again, a seeming leap of my heart into my throat that signifies danger or delight I cannot tell. Why is it that looking down four stories at unforgiving concrete gives the same bodily sensation as looking deeply into the eyes of one I love? Wherein lies the truth of this . . .

Looking away from the Sun I turn to my left to see the Moon seated aloft in a soft indigo sky. The reverberating green echo of the Sun’s shape slowly fades from my vision as the Moon’s gentler light fills my gaze instead. The relationship of these two celestial bodies feels familiar . . . and my body knows it before I do . . . Ah yes, I stood upon a mountain exactly a month ago today, positioned as a third body between these two heavenly beings, seeing them in this same triangular relationship once again. I feel this, sense this, intuit this, I . . . this, my body . . . this: this relationship, this interaction.

Whenever I behold a celestial body ablaze in the night sky it stops me in my tracks, without fail. My body is commanded to stop, to wonder, to worship these orbs. My breath catches. It feels not unlike falling in love . . . over and over and over, with each wandering star I witness. The same as looking down from some great height, but rather it is looking up . . . No it is looking out, a looking out into the depths of space. To behold the Sun, the Moon, a thousand stars is to look up, to look out, and to look down into the greatest depths all at once. No wonder we lose our balance, no wonder our bodies react, they catch us and remind us that gravity is real.

I have seen countless sunsets but no one is the same, no one is ever worth looking away from before it has made its perfected exit. I never say to myself, “Not this time, I have seen this before.” It now becomes impossible to look away as the ocean swallows the flaming disc of molten gold. In these final moments of a day I will never see again I feel my heart pulled, as though by an emotion-laden gravitational force, toward the Sun. My heart strains within my chest to follow the Sun beyond the crashing purple waves.

Wash over me, oh descending night . . . let me drown once more in your celestial waters.

Introduction: An Experiential Astrology

“The stars are like letters which inscribe themselves at every moment in the sky . . . . Everything in the world is full of signs. . . . All events are coordinated. . . . All things depend on each other; as has been said, ‘Everything breathes together.’” – Plotinus

Go outside on a clear night. Gaze up into the sky, let the points of light that have been traveling for minutes or millennia enter into you through your eyes. I ask not what do you see, but rather, what does it feel like? Your eyes are drawn to one particular body blazing like a white flame in the western sky. A wandering planet, visible at a different height above the horizon with each passing night—only to disappear into the overwhelming light of the Sun for an extended period of time, to once again be found shining in the indigo skies preceding dawn. Your body quivers in response to this gem-like orb, truly like a bright diamond set among a net of precious stones. Beauty. How can this not be an experience of Beauty, an archetypal vision burning forth in the physical realm? You watch Venus slowly sink beyond the blackened waves of the Earth’s greatest sea, a trail of Venus-shine tracing a path directly from the planet to where your feet stand on a grassy cliff’s edge. A geometrical relationship exists between your body and the body of Venus, but you also feel a psychic connection as well: beauty shines forth from this planet, a beauty which you cannot help but feel resonating internally as well. Distill all of this moment to its essence, to Beauty.

In the ancient world astronomy and astrology were a single science, to be practiced as a unified discipline of contemplating what Plato called the “moving image of eternity”[1] that is the night sky. With the rise of modernity, astronomy and astrology diverged, astronomy to become a science solely of mathematical physics and celestial mechanics, while astrology was relegated to the realm of superstition and pseudoscience. Contemporary research on astrology, however, has come to affirm “a highly significant––indeed a pervasive––correspondence between planetary movements and human affairs.”[2] This correspondence is perceptible in the position of the planets at the time of one’s birth, as well as in the transiting movement of the planets in relation to the birth chart throughout one’s life, and the continuously changing dynamics of the planets’ relational positions to each other. The correlated expression is of an archetypal nature: the character or energy of the planets is expressed in a multivalence of ways both by human individuals and in collective cultural and natural events.

An astrological chart is a two-dimensional representation of our three-dimensional solar system, shown from a geocentric perspective but using heliocentric calculations to predict the specific locations of the planets (Figure 1). Sometimes in the practice of astrology it can be easy to become absorbed in the planetary archetypes as symbols, as they are manifested in the human psyche. Just as astronomy has forgotten it was once completed by astrology, perhaps sometimes astrology too can forget to look back out into the starry sky to gain greater understanding, and not just to the multidimensional manifestations of the archetypes in human events. If phenomenology is meant to bring us, as Husserl said, “back to the things themselves,” perhaps a phenomenological approach to astrology may be in order, to experience at all levels the archetypal energies pulsating through all dimensions of the cosmos.

The Sun

Why is it we are so compelled to watch the sunset? On clear days the Sun is visible all through the daylight hours, yet it is usually only when the Sun is near the horizon at dusk and dawn that the desire to suspend whatever we might be doing simply to watch overcomes us. The Sun is most accessible to the naked eye at this time. The explosion of color—of rose, vermillion, gold, magenta, orange, crimson, indigo—as the sunlight passes through the greatest density of Earth’s atmosphere is like watching a cosmic painter improvise with an infinite watercolor set on living canvas. How could we look away?

The Sun in the birth chart represents the conscious self, what one identifies as, what we name ourselves, how we shine in the world, the will to be, to exist. The Sun illuminates, focuses, radiates, integrates. It is the autonomous self, the ego, the part of ourselves that says “I am.” When I gaze at the horizon illuminated by the setting Sun, the “I” that I call myself—the “I” whose personality is reflected in the position of the Sun in my birth chart, the location at which the actual Sun appeared to be from my situated position on a moving Earth—is gazing out at the Sun that contains all “I”s. Every birth chart contains a Sun, every person has a self whose personality is reflected in the planetary and zodiacal relationships to that Sun. Yet it is all the same Sun. Each one of us has a personal relationship to this celestial body that gives life to the Earth, gives movement to the solar system. When we look at the Sun, not only do we see our self reflected, we see all selves reflected back to us. No wonder it is so hard to look away.

Yet when the Sun sets the starry sky can begin to shine forth. When the self steps aside, all the other persons of our being are able to come forth and shine with their own archetypal colors.

The Moon

A few nights ago I was walking down a busy city street at night, cars passing back and forth, people hurrying in every direction, home from work, onto buses, into subway stations. Stepping around the corner of a tall building and looking up through the maze of power lines blocking a dark, almost star-less sky, I was struck by the sight of the Moon, barely a crescent of light showing on its face, yet in its darkness still visible all the way around. The dark orb appeared to be hanging so close to the Earth, a haunting reminder that not all the world is contained in the narrow field of our bustling urban lives. Yet I was amazed to see no one else stopped to stare at this fantastic apparition far more beautiful than any of the hurried activity occurring down at the street level.

The Moon astrologically represents our relational self, the emotions, feelings, the body. It is the mother-child relationship, that which cares and nurtures, and that which desires to be cared for and nurtured. The Moon is the matrix of being, the family, the home, the past, our most intimate selves. It is what our conscious self is unconscious of, sometimes invisible in its intimacy. We can become so accustomed to seeing the Moon night after night, or as a pale sphere in the daytime sky, that we forget its presence if we are too wrapped up in the overly focused narrowness of our ego-driven lives. It does not demand attention. Yet the Moon is always present, the closest celestial body to Earth, affecting the ebb and flow of the ocean tides, mirroring the ebb and flow of our changing emotions and bodily sensations.

From Earth we always see the same face of the Moon; the Moon’s rotation on its axis and its orbit about the Earth take the same amount of time. This physical characteristic gives the impression that the Moon does not rotate at all, which contributed to the long-held belief that the Earth was the stationary center of the cosmos. The maternal nature of the Lunar archetype seems to be symbolically expressed in this physical positioning; the Moon cradling the young human species in an Earth-centered universe for far longer than if the Moon had rotated on its axis.

Sun Trine Moon

I am standing on the precipice of a mountain gazing westward, into the molten fire of the setting Sun. One hundred and twenty degrees to my left, an angle my body can hold within itself as I gaze in both directions, the waxing Moon rises over the further arches of a vermillion and rose stained ridge. I can feel the relationship of Sun and Moon within my body, somehow feeling my heart as the third point in this harmonious triangle. “We grasp external space through our bodily situation,”[3] Maurice Merleau-Ponty writes. Standing between rising Moon and setting Sun I know their relationship because my body is in relationship to each of them. “We also find” Merleau-Ponty continues, “that spatial forms or distances are not so much relations between different points in objective space as they are relations between these points and a central perspective—our body.”[4]

I am a full participant in this moment. My body is in relationship with these two powerful celestial bodies that light up our world, that pull all of the existence I know forward along its spiraling path. “For us the body is much more than an instrument or a means; it is our expression in the world, the visible form of our intentions,” the phenomenologist says.[5] This seems to hold true not only for my own body, but each body I am able to witness: the flaming Sun, the pregnant Moon, blazing Venus as it becomes visible in the cooling hues of the sky, the point of light that is Saturn that appears not long after Venus makes her debut, and the solidity of the Earth beneath my feet. Each are bodies giving visible form to their intentions.

I turn to my companions standing next to me and say, “This is a transit. Can you feel it?


A couple years ago I was out walking through Golden Gate Park in the later evening. In the darkness of the park I saw through a gap in the trees the shining, soft orange light of Jupiter. It was the only light in the sky, dazzling between dappled purple clouds. I left the path to stand in the darkness of the trees, to focus all my attention upon this planetary body, this planetary being.

As I gazed with openness and curiosity upon Jupiter it appeared to grow brighter, and I almost felt as though a communion was arising between us. As dark clouds passed over the planet it still managed to shine through radiantly. I was suddenly reminded of the moment in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King when Sam looks up at the smog covering the desolation of Mordor:

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach[6]

It suddenly dawned on me that part of the archetypal nature of Jupiter is Hope. I had the sense I was looking directly at the Divine and feeling Hope, an uplifting and elevation of spirit, a buoyancy and joy I could not explain. The Shadow of our times, the great devastation of our Earth, will also pass in the end. There is always Hope.

Encountering The Archetypes

Sometimes the planets want to speak to us. This is the only way I can describe what such a connection feels like. Once, in a meditative state, I closed my eyes and gazed upward towards the heavens and could feel that all the planets were so excited I finally was listening that they each were telling me who they are all at once. It was an overwhelming deluge of colors, emotions, images, sensations, processes; it was far too much to take in. I begged them, please come one at a time.

One by one, beginning with the Sun, each planet introduced itself, revealing how their multidimensional and multivalent appearances in the incarnated realm were really all unified into single archetypes in the transcendent realm. With each planet I encountered qualities I had learned of before, and yet other qualities which were new to me. The Sun, radiant presence, gold, singularity of vision, shone through me, through everything; nothing else existed in that light. The Moon, cradling and being cradled, softness, a silver sheen of lavender comfort, holding in warmth, fullness and settled contentment. Mercury, a quickening pace as my thoughts raced to catch up, a rapid quill spelling, articulating, word, glance, taste, touch, sound, senses singing. Venus, a verdant green of flowering beauty, vines growing in curls that turn into exquisite art, the silver sparkling of dew under leaves, mirroring a reciprocity of love and heart-warming presence, the shiver of pleasure and desire. Mars, a flaming red heat burning through me with energy, action, anger, force, violence, blood, rushing in a hiss of fiery passion. Jupiter, uplifting to a panoramic sweep of glory and triumph, images of great civilizations flourishing in their crowning moments, a spiraling climb to the grand arches of the Kingdom of Heaven, laughing, just laughing, releasing into giggles, soft joy, lips kissed by a smile.

The smile faded into a serious fixed gaze as Saturn entered my field, making me sit straighter, feeling the structural strength of my bones, my skeleton, holding me erect and steady, the stability of age-old institutions weathering through time, weathered away by time—Time who eats his children—feeling my body slowly decay in death, yet somehow feeling reassured by this, again and again in repetition, that all things must come to an end, and with that final acceptance at last can come wisdom.

Lightning quick Uranus burst through, not settling into a single color or image, always overturning, breaking out, breaking through, a pace impossible to follow as sparks of genius flew off of every new idea to explode in firecrackers opening up ever unexplored future horizons.

All dissolved, and no sense of myself remained as the oceanic azure oneness of Neptune washed over all that had come before, containing everything in its synchronous holism, a peaceful oblivion of floating in a flowing celestial realm of watery image, ethereal spirit, imaginal soul, transcending all boundaries.

And with a rendering tear the ocean ripped apart as a volcanic chasm, Pluto, gaped open swallowing all in titanic destruction, a violence so deep it was beyond fear, rather a pulsing of life impulse to survive or perish, pushed and pressured by the unbounded force of desire, teeth, torn flesh, corpses, pushing through the excrement, massive desolation laying waste, decomposing, turning over, evolving through pain, passing through the white hot burning fire and from the dead ashes reborn . . .

Then white light. All the colors melted together, every image unified. Only light.

Such an encounter with the archetypes I felt at every level of my being. It is like hearing the story of the entire world all at once. It is a distillation of everything into the passing of but a few breaths, a bracketing of everything, to be able to fully experience everything. An archetype is a phenomenological reduction of experience, a reduction that distills being down to its essence. Return to the things themselves. Look to the night sky, the planets want to tell you who they are—who you are.

When the starry night passes, so comes the dawn. The self is reborn from the multitudinous matrix of being. Yet as day shines forth, one can still feel the stars radiating behind the blue sky.

Works Cited

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. The Primacy of Perception. Edited by James M. Edie. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1964.

Plato. Plato: Complete Works. Edited by John M. Cooper. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1997.

Tarnas, Richard. Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. New York, NY:             Viking Penguin, 2006.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings, New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1954.

[1] Plato, Timaeus, trans. Donald J. Zeyl, in Plato: Complete Works, ed. John M. Cooper (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1997), 1241, 37d.

[2] Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, (New York, NY: Viking Penguin, 2006), 68-69.

[3] Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Primacy of Perception, ed. James M. Edie (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1964), 5.

[4] Merleau-Ponty, The Primacy of Perception, 5.

[5] Ibid.

[6] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1954), 901.

Setting Sun

Jupiter and Hope

As I was walking through Golden Gate Park last night I began to feel arising in me a deep feeling of compassion, of heartfelt love and lament for all around me. It was the desire to cry and smile simultaneously. In the darkness of the park I saw through a gap in the trees the pure shining light of Jupiter. It was the only light in the sky, dazzling between between dappled purple clouds. I left the path to stand in the darkness of the trees. I had the feeling in my body of beginning a sacred journey, and wondered, only momentarily, if this might be the beginning of what it was like to have a spiritual emergence.

As I gazed with true love upon Jupiter it appeared to grow brighter as a communion seemed to be arising between us. As clouds passed over the planet it still managed to shine through radiantly. I was suddenly reminded of the moment in The Return of the King when Sam looks up at the smog covering the desolation of Mordor:

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach[1]

It suddenly dawned on me that part of the archetypal character of Jupiter is Hope. I had the sense I was looking directly at God and feeling Hope. The Shadow of our times, the great devastation of our Earth, will also pass in the end. There is always Hope. I felt the drive within me knowing one day we will succeed with the power of Hope.

Work Cited

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings, New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1954.

[1] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1954), 901.

An Archetypal Glimpse into Teilhard’s Evolutionary Vision

This essay has now been published in Issue 4 of Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology.

Science and religion have been in an antagonistic battle of refutation since the dawn of modernity. Few have sought to reconcile them, and many would call it futile even to try. However, the Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin brought a revolutionary way of thinking to the two world views that provides a vision of their harmonious relationship. Writing in the first half of the twentieth century, Teilhard, who had a scientific background in paleontology, sought to express the evolution of the cosmos as a divine teleological journey culminating, thus far, in the human being. Teilhard believed the unique self-reflective quality of the human, and the human capacity for Christian love, would ultimately lead to a divine convergence of the human community upon what he called the Omega Point, or the Cosmic Christ.

Throughout his life Teilhard had an immense sense of hope and optimism for the future, in spite of the tremendous suffering he witnessed during his life, especially as a stretcher-bearer in World War I. His ideas on the psychic capacity or interiority of all forms of matter have provided the seeds for subsequent thinkers, such as Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, and Mary Evelyn Tucker. Their work addresses the inherent subjectivity of the cosmos, and the implications of Teilhard’s cosmology for creating a confluent relationship between humanity and the Earth community. In his lifetime, Teilhard’s innovative thoughts were resisted by the religious and scientific communities alike, yet, in retrospect, he is truly emerging as a visionary thinker far ahead of his time.

Archetypal astrology provides a unique entry point into Teilhard’s ideas, as one can gain deep insight by looking at the positions of the planets when he was born and comparing their associated archetypal character with the ideas he developed over the course of his career. The birth chart is so rich and multivalent in its symbolism that such an inquiry cannot be exhaustive, nor can it do full justice to the brilliance and complexity of his work. However, key examples from some of Teilhard’s essays in The Activation of Energy and The Heart of Matter, as well as his masterwork The Human Phenomenon, can illustrate how the planetary archetypes permeate his life work.[i]

Teilhard was born May 1, 1881 in Sarcenat, France, with a stellium of seven planets in his natal chart (see Figure 1). In sequence, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, Sun, Neptune, Venus, and Pluto are all within the orb of archetypal influence to each other. It is the nature of a stellium, which is a conjunction of three or more planets, that the planets most distant from each other within the stellium may not be within the regular orb of influence, 10°–12°, of a conjunction with each other. However, the archetypal fields associated with the planets situated between them activate the archetypal energies associated with the further planets and pull them into a mutually stimulating relationship.. In Teilhard’s chart, the planet Uranus is also in a 120° trine alignment to this stellium, in closest aspect to Teilhard’s Sun, Neptune, and Venus. Midpoints, which are the axis points calculated between two planets on the circle of the birth chart, are also archetypally operative in Teilhard’s chart, as can be seen in his Sun-Mercury-Pluto combination.

Figure 1

Teilhard was born with the Sun at the mathematical midpoint between Mercury and Pluto. The archetypal combination of Mercury and Pluto can often be observed in someone who is a deep thinker, who strives to look beneath the surface of reality. This trait is clearly evident in Teilhard, who delved into the core of things with an investigative passion, searching for the psychic interior of matter. Mercury relates to seeing and thinking, while Pluto relates to what lies beneath the surface. Teilhard argues that consciousness was present in matter from the beginning. During the course of evolution, consciousness and matter complexified in concert with one another, leading to the self-reflexive consciousness present in human beings. In the opening of The Human Phenomenon, Teilhard persuades his reader to perceive differently, to see deeper into the nature of the world. He writes that “the history of the living world can be reduced to the elaboration of ever more perfect eyes at the heart of a cosmos where it is always possible to discern more.”[ii] He also focuses on cultivating new senses to aid in this seeing, including “the sense of spatial immensity,” “the sense of depth,” and “the sense . . . of the organic,” all of which relate to the Plutonic character of mass, depth, and primordial biology. [iii]

To get a deeper understanding of the components of Teilhard’s stellium, it may be helpful to first look at the conjunctions in discrete combinations. The first two planets in the stellium are Mercury conjunct Saturn. While the Mercury-Pluto archetypal complex is expressed in the depth of Teilhard’s writing, the Mercury-Saturn combination can be seen in its careful, disciplined organization. Every chapter is divided and subdivided into numbered or lettered headings, his arguments are laid out with bullet-point precision, and each of his sentences is structured according to a distinct patterning. He takes the immensity and complexity of the universe and distills it into clearly articulated, logical arguments. As an example of the multivalence of the planetary expressions, Teilhard’s Mercury-Saturn complex also correlates to the posthumous publication of his work. Saturn relates to both negation and death; Teilhard’s religious superiors denied him the publication of his work until after he passed away.

The part of Teilhard’s chart that is arguably most central to his philosophy is the triple conjunction in his stellium of Neptune, Venus, and Pluto. Neptune correlates to the transcendent, spirituality, religion, and the divine; the archetype of Venus encompasses love, beauty, and harmony; and Pluto archetypally relates to biological evolutionary drive and transformation. The central purpose of Teilhard’s work was to marry biological evolution and Christian spirituality. Neptune, Venus, and Pluto are also conjunct his Sun, which relates to the impulse to illuminate and radiate; this aspect can be seen in how these ideas shine forth as the primary focus of his writings. The trine of these planets to Uranus, which relates to innovative, rebellious brilliance, among other things, can be seen in his presentation of both a new science and a new spirituality.[iv] He is a rebel against both scientific and Christian orthodoxy.

Teilhard was a Jesuit priest, devoted to a life-long practice of the Christian faith, which is one of the expressions of his Sun-Neptune conjunction. According to his philosophy, the telos of the universe is towards unity, a convergence upon the Omega Point, characterized by Neptune’s quality of oneness. He writes in The Human Phenomenon, “To be more is to be more united––and this sums up and is the very conclusion of the work to follow.”[v] The impulse “to be” is represented by the solar principle, as is the desire to be central and integrated; meanwhile Neptune unites that which has been divided and differentiated because it can dissolve the boundaries of distinction.

Teilhard’s central focus on the human in his work is clearly reflective of Uranus trine his Sun. He expresses the Promethean character of Uranus giving the fire of consciousness to humanity, in his emphasis on the exceptional self-reflexive quality of human thought. Sun-Uranus can correlate to the unique, individual human personality that must, in Teilhard’s view, be cultivated for the ultimate spiritual convergence at the Omega Point. This theme is suggested not only by Teilhard’s Sun-trine-Uranus, but also by the presence of Neptune in the aspect, which is in a 2° conjunction with Teilhard’s Sun. Neptune, which symbolizes spirituality and transcendence, as well as unity, correlates to the convergence on Omega.

Through his study of evolution, Teilhard was in the process of discovering and developing a new form of mystical Christian spirituality. He wrote in his essay “The Stuff of the Universe,” that “Far from being shaken in my faith by such a revolution, it is with irrepressible hope that I welcome the inevitable rise of this new mysticism and anticipate its equally inevitable triumph.”[vi] His words express the Uranus-trine-Neptune complex in his natal chart, with the Uranus archetype bringing a new revolution to the Neptunian realm of mysticism.

Many of the qualities of Teilhard’s new mysticism are archetypally conveyed by the rich, dynamic conjunction of the two outermost planets, Neptune and Pluto. He writes of the need for “a Christ who can be and is commensurate with the universe, in other words a God­––the God we look for––of evolution.”[vii] He greatly fleshes out this concept of an evolutionary God in his essay “The Zest for Living,” in which he describes “zest” as “nothing less than the energy of universal evolution, which . . . wells up in what is most primitive . . . in each one of us.”[viii] For Teilhard, it is the human responsibility to cultivate this primordial zest, or energy, through the knowledge of religion. The Plutonic imagery is evident in his descriptions of evolution and primitive energy, as well as the zest for living itself, which manifest in the realm of Neptunian religion or spirituality. “A zest for living, the zest for living . . . would appear to be the fundamental driving force which impels and directs the universe along its main axis of complexity-consciousness.”[ix] The “zest for living” and the “fundamental driving force” relate archetypally to Pluto, while “consciousness,” in this context, is reflective of the Neptune archetype in combination with the Sun.

Faith is a motivating force in the zest for living, but for Teilhard humanity needs what is “no longer simply a religion of individuals and of heaven, but a religion of mankind and of the earth.”[x] In the essay “From Cosmos to Cosmogenesis,” Teilhard redefines and expands his conception of God, describing “the primordial transcendence of this new evolutive God,” “a God of cosmogenesis––that is a creator of the ‘animating’ type.”[xi] Not only is the Neptunian-Plutonic imagery clear in the description of primordial (Pluto) transcendence (Neptune) and a God (Neptune) of evolution (Pluto), but the archetypal nature of the trine to Uranus comes through in the characterization of God as animator, the bringer of the spark of life.

In the conclusion of “The Zest for Living,” Teilhard pulls both Venusian and Uranian themes into his evolutionary mysticism, by writing of “the vital charge of the world . . . in its higher, immediate, and most heightened form––love, as an effect of ‘grace’ and ‘revelation’.”[xii] Uranus relates to the “vital charge” and awakening of “revelation,” and Venus relates to love and grace, with grace particularly reflective of the archetypal combination of Venus with Neptune. The final paragraph bears the themes of Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Venus, Mercury, and even the Sun: “The zest for life: the central and favoured ligament, indeed, in which can be seen, within the economy of a supremely organic universe, a supremely intimate bond between mysticism, research, and biology.”[xiii] The “organic universe,” the “zest for life,” and biology relate to Pluto, mysticism to Neptune, new research to both Uranus and Mercury, the “supremely intimate bond” and even the word “favoured” to Venus, and the “central ligament” reflects the Sun as the archetype associated with the center.

A specific look at Venus in conjunction with each of the two outermost planets illustrates Teilhard’s thinking further. Archetypally, the Venus-Pluto aspect comes through in his descriptions of “an amorized universe,” and also “a cosmogenesis of union in which everything, by structure, became inflexibly lovable and loving.”[xiv] Teilhard sees the ultimate harmony of physical and biological evolution; his view of the cosmos as a teleological cosmogenesis, a universe in an evolutionary process, bears the mark of the Pluto archetype, while the amorization and harmony reflect Venus.

Teilhard’s Venus-Neptune conjunction shines archetypally in his sense of Christian love. The convergence of humanity and the noosphere upon the Omega Point is ultimately achieved through a universal love, a loving of human center to human center, carried out by a love of the Cosmic Christ. “In other words, what we have to do is to love one another––because love is equally by definition the name we give to ‘inter-centric’ actions,”[xv] as Teilhard describes in “The Atomism of Spirit.” He continues: “The fact that the infinite and the intangible can be lovable, that the human heart can beat in true charity for its neighbor seems simply to be impossible,”[xvi] but Teilhard posits that such universal love between all humans is possible through spiritual convergence on the Omega Point through a love of the Cosmic Christ. If all the love of humanity unites through each individual coming into loving relationship with Christ, then that love is also extending through Christ back to each individual. Teilhard describes the need to transcend personal love relationships, represented by Venus, so they can be dissolved, spiritualized, and universalized by Neptune. When this universal love is achieved humanity has reached the Omega Point.

The attainment of Omega, the ultimate convergence of humanity in the noosphere, is the ultimate moment of both transcendent unification but also bears an “external resemblance to a death” or a “terminal paroxysm”[xvii] of the previous human situation. As part of his seven-planet stellium, Teilhard has a 10° conjunction of Saturn and Neptune, which is reflected in the above observations. The Omega Point is a conjoining of Saturnian material reality with spiritual transcendence, reached at the moment of Earth’s termination. Omega is “to unify the real” in “the concentration on itself of what we call ‘consciousness’ or ‘spirit’,” Teilhard writes in “The Activation of Human Energy.” [xviii]

At a young age Teilhard sought the divine in what was incorruptible, starting with iron, moving on to geology, and finally to the realm of spirit. What he desired was something of “Consistence: that has undoubtedly been for me the fundamental attribute of Being.”[xix] His Saturn-Neptune complex also clearly comes through in his statement: “The truth is that even at the peak of my spiritual trajectory I was never to feel at home unless immersed in an Ocean of Matter.”[xx] Saturn relates to the hard, the consistent, and the material, while Neptune comes through in the realm of spirit, consciousness, and oceanic imagery. Another illustration of his Saturn-Neptune can be seen when he writes “Matter was the matrix of Consciousness; and, wherever we looked, Consciousness, born of Matter, was always advancing towards some Ultra-Human.”[xxi]

Teilhard’s vision of the evolutive drive toward complexity-consciousness also carries the mark of the Saturn-Neptune-Pluto archetypal combination, with Saturn bearing the details of complexity and Neptune the realm of consciousness, while Pluto is related to the evolution and transformation inherent in this process. The ultimate convergence upon Omega, which preserves the individual personality within the transcendent unity, indicates Saturnian differentiation within Neptunian oneness.  Teilhard’s Sun-Neptune complex can also be seen here, as the Sun relates to the individual personality. In his personal life, Teilhard’s dedication to his conservative Roman Catholic faith through every hardship, until his death, can also be associated with the qualities of Saturn-Neptune.

In the essay “A Clarification: Reflections on Two Converse Forms of Spirit,” Teilhard compares two approaches to unity, one of expansive Jupiterian quality, the other of Saturnian concentration. This essay is one example of Teilhard’s Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, which also conjoins his Sun-Neptune. He describes two paths to unity: “The one involves relaxation and expansion, the other tension and centration.”[xxii] Conclusively, Teilhard favors the way of tension and centration (Saturn), describing the other method as belonging to “youthful mankind” who would “try immediately to embrace all”[xxiii] when striving for unification with the divine. Nevertheless, despite his rejection of this path, it is still reflective of his aspect of Jupiter trine Uranus, which correlates to youthfulness and expansion of perspectives. Additionally, the Jupiter-trine-Uranus can be seen in Teilhard’s overall sense of cosmic wonder, in his abundance of new ideas, and the expansive new horizons which are constantly opening up to him.

Although he lived through a deeply transformative and disruptive time, surviving two world wars, and witnessing immense suffering as a stretcher-bearer in World War I, Teilhard had an overwhelming optimism concerning the future of humankind. In “The Moment of Choice,” an essay on World War II, Teilhard still sees such devastation in service of ultimate good: “The height of a peak is a measure of the depths of the abysses it overtops.”[xxiv] He sees the way forward as “the road of comradeship and brotherhood––and that is as true of nations as it is of individuals.”[xxv] The optimism of his Sun-Jupiter conjunction is colored by the Venusian qualities of relationship and love, as the planet  Venus is also part of his stellium. Teilhard’s sense of hope in regards to the future is directly related to his faith in technology, which is reflective of his Sun-Jupiter trine Uranus, describing his progressive age as “not an industrial age but rather an age of research.”[xxvi] Humanity’s innovative, technological genius, associated with Uranus, is key to the ultimate convergence of the noosphere upon the Omega Point.

Although it is primarily connected with his Saturn-Neptune conjunction, Teilhard’s profound understanding of suffering is, in many ways, reflective of his entire birth chart. A single sentence he wrote in “The Spiritual Energy of Suffering” shines with each of the planetary archetypes conjoined in his stellium: “The astounding Christian revelation of suffering . . . can be transformed into an expression of love and a principle of union.”[xxvii] The “astounding Christian revelation” relates to a Jupiter-Uranus awakening of the Neptunian spiritual realm, while suffering relates deeply to the Saturn-Neptune complex. The positive transformation of the suffering reflects Jupiter and Pluto, while the expression of love is both Mercurial and Venusian, and the principle of union is that of Neptune.

Neptune and Pluto, as the slowest moving planets in our solar system for which astrologers have adequate research, correlations, and consensus on their meanings, only conjoin approximately once every 493 years. Their conjunction is therefore the rarest of all two-planet world transits. These conjunctions have marked the beginning of each major epoch for the last three millennia of recorded human history. Teilhard was born in 1881, at the beginning of the most recent Neptune-Pluto conjunction. A consistent pattern has been observed in astrological correlations that when a new, innovative, or transformative idea, invention, or creation is born it is reflected in the current transits but may not yet impact the current paradigm and thus remains relatively hidden. However, it appears that while the idea has been seeded under a certain transit it will often come to full fruition under a subsequent transit of the same planets. In Teilhard’s case, his monumental philosophy, which so clearly reflects his natal chart, may indeed be such a seeding. His dream of humanity’s convergence on the Omega Point may someday blossom fully under a future conjoining of the spiritually transformative planetary archetypes Neptune and Pluto.


Hand, Robert. Planets in Transit: Life Cycles for Living. Atglen, PA: Whitford Press, 2001.

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre. The Activation of Energy: Enlightening Reflections on   Spiritual Energy. Translated by René Hague. London, England: William Collins Sons & Co Ltd., 1978.

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre. The Heart of Matter: The Important Spiritual Autobiography of One of the World’s Greatest Thinkers. Translated by René Hague. London, England: William Collins Sons & Co Ltd., 1978.

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre. The Human Phenomenon. Translated by Sarah Appleton-Weber. Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2003.

Tarnas, Richard. Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. New York, NY: Viking Penguin, 2006.

Tompkins, Sue. Aspects in Astrology: A Guide to Understanding Planetary Relationships in the Horoscope. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 2002.

[i] The interpretations of the planetary archetypes put forth in this essay come from a long astrological tradition, but are primarily grounded in the work of Richard Tarnas, Robert Hand, and Sue Tompkins, courses presented at the California Institute of Integral Studies, lectures from the Institute of Archetypal Cosmology, and from my own experience and practice.

[ii] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Human Phenomenon, trans. Sarah Appleton-Weber (Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2003), 3.

[iii] Teilhard, The Human Phenomenon, 5.

[iv] The trine is called a “soft” aspect and tends to have a more confluent, flowing, harmonious quality in comparison to the “hard” or “dynamic” aspects of the conjunction, opposition, and square. The 60° sextile is also considered a soft aspect.

[v] Teilhard, The Human Phenomenon, 3.

[vi] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Activation of Energy: Enlightening Reflections on Spiritual Energy, trans. René Hague (London, England: William Collins Sons & Co Ltd., 1978), 383.

[vii] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy, 383.

[viii] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy, 231-232.

[ix] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy, 235.

[x] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy, 240.

[xi] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy,  262.

[xii] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy,  242.

[xiii] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy,  242.

[xiv] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy,  266.

[xv] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy,  47.

[xvi] Teilhard, The Human Phenomenon,  212.

[xvii] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy,  262.

[xviii] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy,  393.

[xix] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Heart of Matter: The Important Spiritual Autobiography of One of the World’s Greatest Thinkers, trans. René Hague (London, England: William Collins Sons & Co Ltd., 1978), 18.

[xx] Teilhard, The Heart of Matter, 20.

[xxi] Teilhard, The Heart of Matter, 45.

[xxii] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy, 219,

[xxiii] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy, 220.

[xxiv] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy, 14.

[xxv] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy, 17.

[xxvi] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy, 354.

[xxvii] Teilhard, The Activation of Energy, 248.