Jupiter, Saturn and the Benjamin Franklin Conjunction | Opinion

When we see structures like the great pyramids in Egypt or the temples of ancient Greece, we marvel at the technological and engineering genius of ancient peoples. When we look at paintings by Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo, we realize that some who were born hundreds of years ago displayed genius most modern artists could only pray for.

Yet for many reasons, when it comes to the life of the psyche, we arrogantly cling to the delusion that nobody understood much until the 19th or 20th centuries. Modern psychology was devised in the 1880s; we seem to think no one paid much attention to the inner workings of the mind until then. In truth, we understand less today about the mysteries of the mind than ever. And we live in a less enlightened, rather than a more enlightened, age when it comes to humanity's understanding of our place in the cosmos.

Within the context of the arc of human history, what we call "sophisticated" today isn't always so sophisticated. Many so-called serious people fail to recognize the psychological significance of Greek gods and goddesses, or they'll respect astronomy but deride astrology. They'll gaze at a Saturn-Jupiter conjunction, considering themselves advanced enough to understand the science but too intelligent to respect the mystery.

Yet hundreds of years ago, truly serious people respected both. Astrology was simply psychology before there was psychology. Today's "mental health experts" have nothing on the astrologers who warned Antony and Cleopatra to stay the hell away from Octavius.

A few of those serious people were founders of the United States of America, who knew exactly what they were doing when they aligned the Cancerian birthday of the United States with a Scorpio election day and what was originally a March 4—Piscean—presidential Inauguration Day to form an astrological Grand Trine. They were also the ones, by the way, who made a picture of the Great Pyramid at Giza with the eye of Horus shining from its capstone the centerpiece of the Great Seal of the United States.

Do we think that they, of all people, lacked intellectual depth?

Now is not the time to lock any doors to either perception or understanding; we should certainly not be discounting ancient sources of knowledge out of hand. One thing that should be clear to everyone by now is that modern humanity is not doing so well at navigating the ship of our fate through turbulent waters. That is not for lack of scientific achievement. Our problem is not on the outside, but on the inside. As humanity's material prowess has expanded, inwardly we have shrunk.

Saturn and Jupiter approach conjunction behind Statue
Saturn and Jupiter approach conjunction behind Statue of Liberty Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

In 1948 these words were spoken by our first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Omar Bradley:

Man is stumbling blindly through a spiritual darkness while toying with the precarious secrets of life and death. The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. This is our century's claim to distinction and progress!

How I would love to hear an American general speak that way today; if one tried, would he or she not be laughed off the set?

The idea that we have everything all figured out is preposterous, and anything which offers deeper wisdom into the nature of the universe and humanity's relationship to it should earn our respect—not mockery. Brute force isn't the only source of strength, and spiritual devotion isn't a sign of diminished intellectual perspicacity. But one says such things today at the risk of nullification in the public square. The narrow-mindedness of today's intellectual hall monitors represents a fundamentalism as dangerous to free thinking as was the Christian Church during the Middle Ages. Today's dogmas and doctrines may be new, but they are still dogmatic and doctrinaire. They can't put people under house arrest or burn them at the stake anymore, but they can still ruin people's careers.

Our intellectual gatekeepers have very narrow ideas about what's "scientific," though quantum physics today is sounding more like an ancient metaphysical tome than a Newtonian treatise. "The more I know about physics, the more I want to know about metaphysics," said Einstein. Some have absurd notions of who is and who is not a "mental health expert," dismissing prayer and meditation as serious influences on the psyche. And they smugly dismiss ancient systems of philosophical or metaphysical thought as belonging to the intellectual immaturity of dangerous clowns and fools.

Such gatekeepers should perhaps step aside now and let the human mind do what the human mind does best: figure things out for itself, unobstructed by orthodoxies of any kind. The prevailing Western worldview of the last 150 years has exalted us materially but devastated us spiritually, leaving humanity on the precipice of global ruin. The narrow box of intellectual modernity needs now to be opened up to whatever truths, old or new, that humanity in its inherent and eternal wisdom comes up with. Prepackaged conversation lacks life force just as much as prepackaged food does, and open-mindedness is a prerequisite for progress in any system.

America is still a free society, and we can talk about whatever we want to talk about. But there are invisible walls that keep a fairly tight control on who and what gets to be taken seriously. Even worse, the self-appointed guardians of all things serious hold on tenaciously to their power. And we must call them on it. Modern politicians, mainstream media and the pseudo-intellectual wardens of the mental prison that dominates our culture—those who presume to determine what is and is not acceptable, what is and is not smart, and what is and is not achievable for the human race—are not appropriate gatekeepers, but rather the witch doctors of our day.

Humanity will continue to escape all forms of mental tyranny, however subtle or insidious might be its appearance at a particular time. Despite all resistance, people will continue to dream, new civilizations will continue to flower and we will continue to gaze at the stars.

Marianne Williamson is a Newsweek columnist, best-selling author, political activist and spiritual thought leader. She is founder of Project Angel Food and co-founder of the Peace Alliance, and was the first candidate in the 2020 presidential primary to make reparations a pillar of her campaign. She is the author of 13 books, among them Healing the Soul of America and A Politics of Love.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.