An Astrological Key to
the Meaning of Sex for Modern Man
The many and varied ways in which frustrations and inhibitions in the field of sexual activity lead to emotional blockages and psychological twists or breakdowns of personality constitute the subject of the most popular phase of modern psychology since Freud. It is doubtful, however, whether the subject of "sex" — in the broad modern sense of the term — is understood in all its implications by most people, including many psychologists. It is not fully understood whenever sex is considered to be always fundamentally a manifestation of the instinct for biological reproduction. The psychological problems referring to sex can indeed never be satisfactorily solved in our day and age unless a distinction is made between the impersonal-instinctual and the personalized-conscious aspects of sexual activity.
Sex is one thing for the man of a tribal and agricultural society whose basic attitude to life and thought are conditioned by the rhythmic processes and the problems of earth production and seed increase. It is quite another thing to the ego-controlled personality of a modern city dweller. To the former, the sex urge is an impersonal manifestation of the tides of fruitful life hemmed in with social-religious tabus. He is acted upon by life as he performs sexual acts. Indeed the real actors in the performance are the male and female cells, the rest of the organism merely supports the essential performers, and whatever psychic and emotional factors enter into the performance are like "overtones" of the fundamental rhythm of universal life. To modern man, on the other hand,
sex has become primarily an answer to a personal emotional need; and in this answer individual traits and attitudes are decisive and determining factors, while the strictly biological urge for racial reproduction has become a taken-for-granted, perhaps inevitable, yet often deliberately denied or hated, element.
The development of this modern approach to sex has run parallel to that of the historical process of psychological differentiation and individualization which has transformed the basic character of human consciousness and human responses to life. Human beings have become, in various ways and in varying degrees, individual persons structured by separative, self-conscious, and more or less intellectual egos. They have become so by struggling to assert their independence from the collective tabus of their tribes or societies and from a blind and strictly compulsive subservience to the rhythms of the organic powers of life within body and psyche. This independence, however, usually is of a superficial kind. Its cherished foundations collapse easily when the pressure of basic instincts and glandular activity reaches a slightly unusual degree of intensity. Yet, even though the controls of the ego may be inadequate, the existence of an individualized ego structure is sufficient, not only to repolarize the entire conscious attitude of the individual toward sex, but also to call forth a more or less active and decisive response of the spirit. The ego's development and its self-assertions produce a profound need in the total human being. A host of problems and a series of crises are inevitably experienced. To these the spirit within man has answers, and the one basic answer is the process by which spirit individualizes itself and becomes incorporated within the structure of the ego, radiating thus through the whole personality.
This answer is the "incarnation" of the power of divine Sonship into the individual man who has become oriented toward the spirit and an adequate chalice for the spirit's incorporation. By considering the incarnation of Christ into the man Jesus — thus the union of divine and human natures — as a unique event never to be duplicated, because forever sufficient to the wholesale redemption of mankind, most Churches have taken men's attention away from the f act that this process of individualization and incorporation of the spirit into the conscious and differentiated human individual is the one basic fact in the spiritual development of all men. Whether or not the union of God and man in Christ-Jesus was a unique event — perhaps in that it marked the beginning of a vast cycle in human evolution — and whether or not Christ is the "only begotten Son of God," the spiritual fact remains, beyond all theological interpretation and dogmas concerning the nature of Christ, that in every human individual the spirit can potentially individualize and incorporate itself, and man has latent within him the "God-seed" within which the spirit can become active in a personalized way.
If this activity of the spirit occurs — and it occurs in answer to the need of the ego, when the ego is ready — a process of incorporation of the spirit begins with what might be called the "germination" of the God-seed within man. And this God-seed, in a general or symbolical sense, is the two-lobe brain (minus the cerebellum which is the "animal brain") with its root-like cerebro-spinal system of nerves (one tap-root, the spine, and many nerve-rootlets branching from it). When spirit becomes truly active at the center of the head, the entire human being gradually changes. It is a very slow change, but one in which the individualizing spirit is the essential factor, and the eventual goal is the full incorporation of the spirit.
Most modern psychologists do not talk about this process. For them, the goal for modern man is to be described almost exclusively in terms of the integration of the personality. But the integration of personality is an evolutionary process, reaching from the depths of earth nature to the Sun, from atom to cell, from cell to organism, from primitive to civilized man. On the other hand, the process of incorporation of the spirit, of which I speak here, is an involutionary process, a "descent" into man. It is not a rise from depths to heights, or as in the Hindu Kundalini Yoga, well known to modern occultists, from the base of the spine and the floor of the pelvis to the crown of the head. It is a gradual conquest and spiritualization of man's total human nature from the head to the feet.
Such a head-to-foot sequence of progressive phases of unfoldment should not surprise the astrologer. Astrology, as we know it in the Western world, was presumably developed by wise men (Chaldeans?) who formulated its symbols in order to record for posterity this very process of incorporation of the spirit. This was done at a time when, the era of strictly tribal societies being near its end, the arising of crucial problems caused by the future generalized growth of the ego and of the intellectual mind in individualistic societies could be foreseen by men of spiritual vision. As we already stated, the process of incorporation of spirit in man is the direct answer to these problems; and the sages of old sought to record in the series of zodiacal symbols the twelve basic steps in this process.
Every astrologer knows that the first zodiacal sign, Aries, corresponds to the head. Taurus, to the region of the neck, etc. But what seems not to have puzzled astrologers is the fact that the sign made to correspond to the sex organs and sexual activity in general, Scorpio, is an autumnal sign — thus, related to a time when physical nature becomes dormant in preparation for the winter sleep. Should we not consider one of the zodiacal signs of spring (particularly Taurus, a symbol of fertility ruled by the planet of love and of all seeding processes) as the astrological focus for all sexual activity, if by sex we mean the biological function of reproduction of physical organisms? Obviously, the glandular and chemical activity of sex is stirred in all nature during springtime. Life moves forth, tearing leaves and blossoms out of stems, stirring love in human bodies and souls. Yet, Taurus is related to the throat — not to the genitals. What is the meaning of this seeming discrepancy?
The meaning is, first, that the sequence of zodiacal signs at the human level refers to the involutionary process of incorporation of the spirit in personality and its radiation in creative works through personality. What is more, at this truly human level, sex has a meaning profoundly distinct from that of instinctual biological reproduction, even though biological reproduction is a generic necessity; a necessity which, however, can be used by man as a vehicle for the expression of personality — either creatively or disintegratively.
If we consider the series of zodiacal signs in terms of the process of incorporation of spirit, we find that Aries, the first phase of the process, represents the "germination" of the God-seed; that is, the arousal in the brain of a new vision and new images under the impulse of the spirit's desire — the desire to experience, to feel and to love, to communicate with others, and through communication to build the foundation of a true communion in spirit of all men. In Taurus, the germinating God-seed sends its roots into the region of the throat; and as this occurs, the power of speech is aroused. Through vocal tones the Word may become incarnate and active among men. In Gemini, the spinal center which controls arms and lungs (the center of the cross of spine and extended arms) is reached by the spirit which then expresses itself in mental activity and in the power to fashion things and to associate images into concepts, words into sentences. And the Cancer phase represents the further incorporation of the descending spirit into personality; that is, into the power to gain full objective awareness of self through a bio-psychic organism.
What the desire of the spirit envisions and images forth in Aries, becomes in Taurus voice and utterance — but not sexual activity. Animals are seized by biological urges, whose unconscious compulsion leads at once to sexual acts; but in human individuals who have felt the power of the spirit, biological compulsion is overshadowed by the spirit's desire, which is true love; and sexual acts are replaced by the long courtship expressing itself in the many utterances and the songs of love. These, in a collective human sense, are the substance of all that comes under the term "culture." A truly cultured man is a man in whom the desire of the spirit for life and for love, for human comradeship and beauty, expresses itself in harmonic, restrained and meaningful actions. He does not act in unconscious glandular compulsion and unrestrained haste or excitement; but instead he acts out consciously the vision and the great images that have been aroused within his brain during the Aries phase of spiritual germination.
Needless to say, many human beings do act impulsively as merely earth-conditioned and instinct-driven creatures. They act in terms of glandular chemistry, not of spirit-born culture; in terms of uncontrollable passion, not of the love imagery created by the spirit's desire. Indeed, in the very vast majority of men and women now living it seems that even though a conflict may be experienced between these two alternatives of behavior, the driving energy of blind propagation is still the dominant factor.
Yet the very fact that this purely biological urge in many cases becomes a violent and torturing passion, that human beings are often haunted and maddened by what they call "sex," shows plainly that this kind of sex is no longer the unconscious springtime activity of vegetable and animal nature. Something has happened to it. It is no longer a manifestation of Taurus fertility. A dark torment cries out through it; fear and despair are behind the yearning to lose one's insulated ego in a union with another; it may even become a passion for death through the gates of lust.
This darkness and passion are associated with Scorpio; yet they represent only the negative aspect of this sign. Scorpio symbolizes "human" sex — sex as an expression of personality, as a release of the power generated by the establishment of an individual, and at least relatively isolated, ego. It is only because this ego is often not able to bear its isolation and loneliness; because it is tortured by a sense of inferiority, fear and insecurity, that its expression in and through sex is permeated with anguish, jealousy, possessiveness and lust. Sex, then, is not a creative expression of personality, but instead an escape from personality, a form of suicide of the ego; and therefore sex can become, as lust, the gate to the "black path" of self-destruction — the more so, the more spirit has been aroused into activity within the structure of this ego.
This arousal of the spirit does not mean that all problems are henceforth solved! The descent of the spirit into the human organism can end in spiritual defeat, if the energies of earth-nature overwhelm its rhythm and distort its character. Defeat may indeed be experienced by the spirit at each of the twelve basic steps of its incorporation in the bio-psychic personality. But one of the most dangerous steps is probably that represented by Scorpio, or it is there — in the realm of conscious and personalized sex — that (at the present stage of evolution of most human beings) the ego lets go of the self and turns negative in a critical manner.
Men are as yet so basically insecure and lonely as individuals that their egos are dark with fear and anxiety. In personalized sex this fear and anxiety are released, under whatever form they originally took in the early development of personality-escape from self and inner weariness, jealousy, greed, boredom, a sense of guilt, etc. Yet, if the ego had not been formed under the pressure of insecurity and as a result of a violent, passionate severance from the wombs of family, religion, society, then sex would mean the release of the creative strength of the ego. If it had this positive significance in the life of personality, the spirit, in its process of incorporation and "descent" into the total personality, would then be able to experience one of its basic powers in and through sex consciously and creatively used. Scorpio could become the field for the creative expression of an integrated personality transfigured by the spirit, and no longer a whirlpool destroying whatever energy of an insecure, defeatist and tragic ego is caught by its vortex — as is so often the case in our day and age.
Scorpio is the fifth sign in the zodiacal sequence beginning with Cancer, and the fifth phase of any life process of the type studied in astrology can always be said to carry the meaning of "self-expression" — creative or destructive — as can be seen from the traditional characteristics of the fifth house in the usual type of birth chart. Scorpio refers thus to the self-expression of whatever originates in Cancer, and Cancer has the meaning — of a focus of integration within strictly defined and conscious boundaries.
For the man who has emerged from the womb of family and tribe this focus of integration is the ego. It is an individualized field of consciousness structured by the definite realization "I am this particular person with this particular individual character." Most civilized men today have become, in varying degrees, individual personalities. However, used in such a way, the term "personality" refers to the end-result of an evolutionary ascent from the roots of generic nature. It is the fruition of a particular culture, a particular society, in response to the challenges of a particular geographical and Psychical environment. Thus one can say that humanity is expressed in personality; human nature aspires to and blossoms forth in the individual person (cf. C. G. Jung, "The Integration of the Personality" p. 281).
This, however, is not the only possible meaning of personality. The word means etymologically "an actor's mask" (persona) as used in large theatrical performances in ancient Greece and Rome. These masks were meant not only to portray in strong outlines a definite emotional expression or type of character, but also (because they contained a small mouthpiece) to carry the actor's voice farther. Personality thus can mean an instrumentality for the release of something. It can mean an agency for the activity of the spirit. This involutionary instead of evolutionary meaning is the one meaning to be considered as we deal with the zodiacal process of individualization and incorporation of the spirit. Spirit takes concrete form in personality. It descends into the structure of the ego, the integrated field of individual consciousness, and, as this descent (or "birth") occurs, the consciousness, the ego and the entire earth-born personality eventually become transfigured. If this descent of spirit into personality takes place in the symbolical Cancer, then the release of the creative power of this transfigured personality can be said to occur in Scorpio (fifth sign after Cancer). This possibility reveals the essential, spiritual meaning of Scorpio, once the negative traits of the ego have been "redeemed" and transfigured by the incorporation of the spirit within this ego. It points to what could be the spiritual or spirit-conditioned reality of sex in individualized and conscious human beings.
We may not, from this, grasp as yet very clearly what the goal is — i.e. the full spiritual meaning of Scorpio — yet we should be able to see the direction in which the descent of the spirit must seek to reorient man's conscious attitude toward sex. Only through such a reorientation can modern man's basic emotional problems be solved, at least insofar as these are rooted in sex.
The goal of the creative release of the spirit-illumined personality in Scorpio can be understood in a general sense by realizing that the ninth sign after Scorpio is Leo. And what does Leo symbolize if not "solar" man that is, an individual from whom the spirit radiates forth in conscious splendor! Leo is the child of spirit, and this spiritual progeny is a conscious progeny. It may take the form of an actual child, whose parents were able to endow with a radiant spirit-polarizing psychic organism as well as with a healthy body; and it may also be the "Christ-child within the heart" of Christian mystics, the "Diamond Body" of Asiatic occultists — a body of light, vehicle of spiritual man's immortality. At whatever level this creative act of the spirit-illumined personality be focused, the outcome is a "work of the spirit." Spirit has created a progeny through a conscious, individualized and consecrated personality; while in the case of the merely biological and instinctual kind of birth, it is the compulsive and "blind" power of life that operates through unconscious bodies.
This distinction is basic. It gives the one essential key to a really convincing and effective understanding of the problems disturbing, and often shattering, the emotional lives of most modern men and women. These problems arise because humanity — at least the most advanced portion of it — is now being reoriented and repolarized from the level of compulsive and unconscious life processes to that of consciously individualized and inherently free (because self-determined) acts in and through which the "inspirited" personality expresses itself and releases its powers. This reorientation of human activity presupposes clear consciousness and at least the first stage of the individualization of spirit. It presupposes an ego. If the ego is oriented to the spirit in positive self-assurance and in the security that can only be founded upon faith and the love that is of the spirit, then, this ego becomes the "temple of the living God" — or at least the scaffolding making the erection of this temple possible. But if the ego is filled with fear and anxiety, poisoned by the toxins of a violent emergence from the psychic wombs of family, religion and society, then it finds itself compelled to unburden its fears, or to seek an escape from unbearable loneliness and weariness, through dark or meaningless, brutal or frantic attempts at sex-expression.
Modern man's sexuality is conditioned by the character and quality of man's ego. The ego is the source; sex, the outflow into whatever the ego is able to envision as the purpose of its being — or, so often alas! the purposelessness of it. The emotional life of the individuals of our day is conditioned by these two foci: ego and sex. Around them, in most cases, it whirls in disharmonic and unstable ellipses; and its orbit is strewn with ghosts and frustrations, with the torturing of futility and tragedy. The only hope for peace and truly creative harmony is spirit-illumined understanding.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1966 and 1976 by Dane Rudhyar
All Rights Reserved.
Web design and all data, text and graphics appearing on this site are protected by US and International Copyright and are not to be reproduced, distributed, circulated, offered for sale, or given away, in any form, by any means, electronic or conventional.
for full copyright statement and conditions of use.
Web design copyright © 2000-2004 by Michael R. Meyer.
All Rights Reserved.