In my opinion it is a zany piece, of interest because it raises questions about Grof's authority, an authority invoked by some exponents of 'quantum holism' - the belief system that is arguably more accurately characterised as quantum mysticism and that encompasses phenonema such as remote healing, precognition, reincarnation, dowsing and other matters that are not endorsed by Australian law, irrespective of any valorisation in "wisdom traditions".
Elsewhere in this blog I have been snarky about Grof's statements regarding reincarnation: if you feed LSD to a cancer patient that individual's statements regarding a past life as Marie Antoinette or Cleopatra might be construed as a confused recollection of a bad movie rather than hard proof of reincarnation or what the sublimely weird World Futures guru Ervin Laszlo describes as those who are "no longer living in the familiar form in this world but are alive nonetheless". Gotta wonder about the credibility of people who use 'quantum' to describe ghosts and who claim that you can receive messages from said ghosts via a valve radio.
In 'Holotropic Research and Archetypal Astrology' Grof reveals that -
after years of frustrating effort I finally found a tool that made such predictions possible, it was more controversial than psychedelics themselves. It was astrology, a discipline that, even after years of studying transpersonal phenomena, I myself tended to dismiss as a ridiculous pseudoscience. I came to realize, however, that astrology could be an invaluable tool in the work with both psychedelics and with other forms of non-ordinary (or "holotropic") states of consciousness such as those induced by powerful experiential techniques of psychotherapy (primal therapy, rebirthing, and holotropic breathwork) or occurring spontaneously during psychospiritual crises.Grof claims that his work -
has shown that astrology, particularly the study of planetary transits, can predict and illuminate both the archetypal content of non-ordinary states of consciousness and the timing of when particular states are most likely to occur.After the standard sniff about 'Western science' and 'materialism', a materialism incapable of discerning deeper truths, Grof laments that -
the emphasis that astrology puts on the moment of birth does not make any sense in academic psychology and psychiatry, which generally do not see biological birth as a psychologically relevant event. Academic and clinical psychiatrists typically use a very narrow conceptual framework limited to postnatal biography and the Freudian individual unconscious. They do not usually recognize the perinatal level of the unconscious pertaining to the deep-seated memory of the birth trauma and its powerful influence on the adult personality and biographical experiences. The rejection of the psychological significance of birth is based on the highly questionable assumption that the brain of the newborn cannot register the traumatic impact of the birth experience, because the process of myelinization (formation of the fatty myelin sheaths covering the neurons) in his or her brain is not fully completed at the time of birth.Never fear, it seems, if you are confronted by nasty materialists and others who think that astrology and alchemy are hokum. Grof responds that -
Since the 1950s, however, several decades of systematic research of holotropic states have generated vast amounts of data that undermine these basic assumptions of materialistic science and bring supportive evidence for astrology.A sceptic might raise her eyebrows at the claim, often seen in World Futures, about "vast amounts of data" and "supportive evidence".
Those observations are claimed by Grof to reveal -
1. the existence of transpersonal experiences that point to an ensouled cosmos permeated with consciousness and creative cosmic intelligenceOh, "direct experience of spiritual realities"!
2. the possibility of direct experience of spiritual realities, including archetypal figures, motifs, and realms, and empirical validation of the authenticity of these experiences
3. the critical psychodynamic importance of the birth experience for the psychological development and life of the individual
4. the existence of synchronicities that represent an important and viable alternative to the principle of mechanistic causality
5. the striking correlations between the psychodynamics of the birth process and the planetary archetypes associated with the four outer planets
6. the extraordinary predictive potential of astrological transits for the nature, timing, and content of holotropic states of consciousness
7. the recognition of the profound connections between the archetypal pattern of birth charts and COEX systems in the individual psyche
8. the relationship between astrological world transits and patterns of incidence and diagnosis of psychopathology.
We have observed innumerable cases in which subjects described information about past eras or specific historical events, or detailed subjective descriptions of animal behavior or plant life, that the individual had not known nor had access to prior to the experience, yet which proved upon subsequent research to be accurate. Challenging the most fundamental assumptions of materialistic science, transpersonal experiences suggest that human consciousness is continuous with the inner nature of the universe, which from this perspective appears to be a unified web of events in consciousness permeated by interiority and intelligence. Such experiences provide empirical evidence suggesting that the individual human psyche is part of a greater psyche that has no boundaries and is essentially commensurate with all of existence.Not very surprising, given his statements elsewhere about transcending
the limits of a specifically human experience and tune into what appears to be the consciousness of animals, plants or inanimate objects.Quite ... nothing like tuning in to the consciousness of a brick, some sea-weed or the Atlantic Ocean. ("It is possible to experience the consciousness of all creation, of the entire planet or the entire material universe.")
In this article Grof goes on -
Most academic psychologists and psychiatrists have so far considered Jung’s idea of the archetypes to be unfounded and speculative and have refused to take it seriously. However, modern consciousness research has confirmed the existence of archetypes beyond any reasonable doubt by showing that in holotropic states of consciousness they can actually be directly experienced. I have published in other contexts case histories illustrating how transpersonal experiences involving archetypes can provide new information about mythological realities of cultures unknown to the experient and open new therapeutic possibilities (Grof 1985, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2006).I do love the "beyond any reasonable doubt".
Why stop there? Grof explains that -
An important characteristic of the archetypes is that they are not confined to, and do not originate from, the human brain, but operate from transcendental realms and exert a synchronistic influence on both individual psyches and events in the physical world. The marriage between astrology and archetypal psychology based on Jung’s work represents an extraordinary advance in both fields. It brings the mathematical precision of astronomy into the interior and imaginative world addressed by depth psychology, enriching enormously the possibilities of theoretical speculations as well as clinical predictions.Some people do not agree with Grof. He responds that -
The tendency to think in terms of direct causal influences is one of the major reasons why astrology has been so vehemently rejected. I remember one of my discussions with Carl Sagan about transpersonal psychology during which he heatedly told me and others: "Astrology is total hogwash; as I am standing here, I have more influence on you than Pluto." He clearly thought about this subject in terms of masses, distances, gravitational forces, and other physical terms. This is an approach that completely misses the point. Critics of astrology like Carl Sagan do not understand that astrologers are using a sophisticated paradigm that assumes a synchronistic relation between the planets, the human psyche, and the external events. To understand astrology, we must think in synchronistic terms.Synchronicity?
The first indication that there might be some extraordinary connection between astrology and my research of holotropic states was Richard Tarnas's recognition that individuals who experienced major psychological breakthroughs and awakenings tended at those times to be undergoing major personal transits involving the planet Uranus, often in combination with Jupiter, while those undergoing more difficult and psychologically constricting periods tended to be undergoing transits involving Saturn. Eventually, he came to realize that this simple dichotomy was part of much more complex patterns of correlation involving all the planets and a wide range of psychological conditions and stages of transformation.Perhaps we should put a giant alfoil beanie over maternity wards when the big bad planet Uranus is in the neighbourhood. Equip all expectant women with parapsychological bling such as the Tesla Shield? Or just slaughter a few goats, some white chickens and the occasional human sacrifice?