Archetypal Astrology

In our time of continued germination of Grof Legacy Project USA, we encourage those interested in Grofian studies to explore the field of archetypal astrology. 

Stan often tells the story of his past dismissal of astrology as non-science, until he realized, along with his friend and colleague Richard (Rick) Tarnas, that transit astrology was an astounding correlational predictor of potential experiences in nonordinary states. 

Excerpt from Archetypal Astrology and Nonordinary State Experience by Jay Dufrechou:

Trained as a medical doctor in the 1950s, and conducting research with LSD in psychiatric research centers in the 1960s and 1970s, Stanislav Grof was perplexed that there seemed to be no way of predicting the types of experiences people would have during psychedelic sessions. The variability of individual LSD sessions was in contrast to the expectation that pharmacological substances were useful in medicine, including psychiatry, based on their predictable effect on patients.

At the Psychiatric Research Institute in his home country of Czechoslovakia, and later at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Grof and his research teams used standardized assessments and common psychological tools with patients and research subjects in the effort to understand what experiences people with particular conditions or tendencies might have during psychedelics sessions. Grof understood that psychedelics functioned as “relatively unspecific amplifiers” of the contents of the deep unconscious, but was looking for ways to predict what unconscious contents would manifest for particular people. Consistent with the reports in the literature from others conducting similar inquiries, Grof concluded: “the results of the tests developed and commonly used by Western psychology were essentially useless in this regard.”

Grof continues the story:

"Ironically, when 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.

"The radical change in my attitude toward astrology has been the result of collaboration with psychologist and philosopher Richard Tarnas, my close friend and colleague. For over three decades, beginning in 1976, we have been jointly exploring the astrological correlates of mystical experiences, psychospiritual crises, psychotic episodes, psychedelic states, and holotropic breathwork sessions. This 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. Our systematic study of the correlations between the nature and content of holotropic states and planetary transits convinced me that a combination of deep experiential therapy with archetypal psychology and transit astrology is the most promising strategy for the future development of psychiatry and depth psychology. (Grof, 2009/2011). 

Grof, Stanislav (2009/2011). Holotropic research and archetypal astrology. Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology, 1, 65-85. 

The founder of archetypal astrology, Rick Tarnas is the author of the groundbreaking text, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View.  Currently in the latter stages of production is a 10-part documentary series, Changing of the Gods, inspired by the work of Tarnas. The series features leading figures in the fields of history, psychology, spirituality, political activism, technological innovation and consciousness research. Using the lens of archetypal astrology, Changing of the Gods paints a sweeping journey across historical cycles of revolution and world-changing transformations that deliver us into “the fierce urgency of now.”

Available through the public programs offered by the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) are two lectures by Tarnas in the past year exploring the astonishing correlations between contemporary world planetary transits and tumultuous current history. 

Along with the contributions of Rick Tarnas, learning opportunities in archetypal astrology are available through contemporary astrologers aligned with our programs, who we anticipate will lecture in our courses. 

Becca Tarnas

Scholar, artist, and counseling astrologer, Becca is an editor of Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology. She received her PhD in Philosophy and Religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. Her dissertation is titled The Back of Beyond: The Red Books of C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Becca now teaches at both Pacifica Graduate Institute and CIIS, as well as several other online education platforms. The author of Journey to the Imaginal Realm: A Reader’s Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Becca also lends her voice to th audio version of Stan's encyclopedia, The Way of the Psychonaut. 

Becca's website offers a selection of her essays, lectures, paintings, poems, stories, plays, and travels for the enjoyment and inspiration of others.

Becca offers astrological consultations scheduled well in advance through her website. Her consultations explore both the natal chart—the position of the planets at the moment of one’s birth—as well as personal transits—the relationships formed between the continuous movements of the planets and the natal chart. Her approach invites dialogue with the client, learning their story and perspective, welcoming questions and conversation, and creating a therapeutic learning environment for the client. 


Renn Butler

Renn studied with Stanislav Grof and Richard Tarnas at the Esalen Institute in California beginning in 1980. He was in one of the early breathwork training programs with Stan and Christina Grof and certified as a facilitator in 1989.  Renn offers workshops in British Columbia and abroad, as well as archetypal astrology consultations with clients around the world.

Renn’s first book, Pathways to Wholeness, about astrology and psychedelic experiences, was published in 2014, followed by The Archetypal Universe in 2018, which focuses on dreams, and Oh, Goddess in 2020 about relationships. His six-month online course in Archetypal and Holotropic Astrology has received enthusiastic reviews. Renn has a B.A. in English and Religious Studies and is in discussion about pursuing a doctorate with Ubiquity University. He worked part time as a health care worker with physically, mentally, and emotionally challenged adults for over thirty years and lives in Victoria, B.C.








Monika Wikman

Often collaborating with Diane Haug in teaching the work of Carl Jung alongside Grofian psychology and experiences of holotropic breathwork, Monika obtained her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego, and her doctorate from the California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego. She graduated as a diplomate from the Jung-Von Franz Center for Depth Psychology in Zurich, Switzerland. Although not currently accepting new clients, Monika has worked for several decades as a Jungian analyst in private practice.

Monika is the author of Pregnant Darkness: Alchemy and the Rebirth of Consciousness, using alchemical imagery, emblems and myths to explore the depths of the human soul. In the words of master storyteller Marcie Telander, "From Pregnant Darkness flows the bounty of the Great Feminine in her most galvanizing and healing forms made clear and applicable to modern life through the ancient mystery tradition of alchemy."