The concepts of “Seriality” and “Synchronicity” in Astrology
How are the concepts of “seriality” and “synchronicity” relevant to astrology?
Towards the end of his career, the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung postulated the term “synchronicity” as a concept serving to illuminate a specific type of relationship between interior states of consciousness and external events. With synchronicity, a meaningful coincidence occurs between one’s internal state and the world outside. Jung titled a short work on the concept Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, emphasizing his belief that the interrelationship between internal states of consciousness and the external world is not bound by cause and effect but something more nebulous to define, something like “meaning.” Synchronicity is often used colloquially to refer to any random coincidence, such as shouting “four” as four geese fly overhead. If the event has no meaningful import for the individual then the event is simply a coincidence and not a synchronicity. Thus, stories of synchronicity often abound when people are in states of crisis, transformation, or pushed to extreme limits–meaningful times in life.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Austrian biologist Paul Kammerer advanced his little-known but thought-provoking theory of “seriality.” Kammerer supposed that events, objects, or occurrences of a like kind assemble together in space and time through unknown and acausal means. Kammerer defined seriality as “a lawful recurrence, or clustering, in time and space whereby individual members of the sequence-as far as can be ascertained by careful analysis-are not connected by the same active source.”
(1) Where Jung’s synchronicity deals with the relationship between subjectivity and the external world, Kammerer’s seriality is more concerned with patterns and groupings of objects that occur in the environment. Many of us have had the experience whereby we encounter a new word for the first time and, surprisingly, we encounter it numerous times after its initial introduction into our lives. For instance, someone rolls off a particularly mellifluous sounding word in conversation, “insouciant,” that piques your curiosity but you have no idea of its meaning. Shortly after hearing it the first time, you read it in a book, someone else uses it in conversation-and someone else. This clustering of the word “insouciant” is an example of Kammerer’s notion of seriality, and for Kammerer, much to his critic’s disagreement, this patterning was not random but meaningful.
Building upon Kammerer and Jung’s ideas, astrology might be thought of as a multi-dimensional system of perpetual synchronicity and seriality in which a patterning of outer events and experiences is in continual congruence with our internal states.
Hence, there is a continual, meaningful coincidence between planetary positions and the quality of one’s subjective experience; there is a flowing synchronicity between internal states of consciousness and the meanings ascertained by astrologers of houses, planets, and signs. When one experiences an important Saturn transit, qualities of experiencing the world in a particularly “Saturnian” way will manifest: inner criticism, hesitation, fear, inhibition, caution, restraint, negativity, darkness. In keeping with Jung’s definition of synchronicity, the connection between archetypes and states of consciousness are acausal; neither is causing the other, but both maybe said to be reflections of some third, transcendent, ordering principle.
To add Kammerer’s notion of seriality to the astrological equation, not only will subjective states be congruent with planetary alignments but certain patternings or clusterings of like-phenomena will organize that will reflect the meanings of an archetype or archetypes. For instance, Saturn may be transiting natal Mars and one gets in a bone-crushing car accident; one feels very constrained, ineffectual, and depressed; the doctors who administer treatment are cold, clinical, and matter-of-fact; the hospital environment is sterile, sanitized, and colorless; and the accident was perpetrated by a societal authority figure driving a black Mercedes Benz. This grouping of phenomena is very much in keeping with the archetype ascribed to Saturn in meaning and tone.
As an explanatory principle, one may suggest that archetypes are a transcendental principles, non-local fields that attracts or order similar phenomena beyond the normal constraints of time and space: planets, bones, car crash, restricted body movement, depression, and cold authority. The archetype, like a magnet, exerts an influence upon different phenomena like iron filings, but in this case, we can’t see the magnet, only the iron filings.
(1) Peat, David. Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Matter and Mind. 1987.