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by Dane Rudhyar

First Published
Horoscope Magazine
August 1967

This accessible article, which requires no prior knowledge of astrology, discusses the nature of "objective" time and "subjective" time. It is an excellent introduction to the meaning and significance of progressions in astrology.
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Philosophers and poets have long discussed and still talk about the nature of time. Physicists take a more practical approach inasmuch as what they deal with are measurements; and they measure distance in time with clocks of one kind or another, just as they measure distances in space with an international standard of length — a platinum bar one meter long (a little over three feet) which is kept, or used to be kept, in the basement of an official building in Paris, France. Of course, physicists use far more "sophisticated" measures of time and space which have to do with the wave length of some atomic particles or with the speed of light (a light year being the distance covered by a ray of light during one year). But the principle is not really different from that which Egyptian, Chaldean, Mayan, or Chinese astrologers recognized when calculating a calendar enabling their people to regulate their life activities according to the periodic motions of the Moon, the Sun, Venus, or to the appearance above the horizon of some so-called "fixed star" at a certain time of the year.

Astrology, as we know it, deals essentially with the measuring of time. The processes of life on earth "take time," and that time can be measured by celestial clocks. Actually, this phrase, found in most languages — "to take time" — is a very peculiar one. Is time a substance you, I, or the universe can "take," lose, spend, or give to somebody who needs it? Is time our property to deal with as we choose? On the other hand, we are told to wait for the time, to expect the fulfillment (or the end) of time. This suggests that time moves quite independently of our desire for activity. The mystic, and a host of contemporary pseudo-mystics lured by the glamour of "cosmic consciousness," tell us that time is an illusion and that everything is "now," in the timeless moment.

This is all very confusing, is it not? How can one really experience timelessness as long as biological processes go on in the body of the experiencer? Is there any conceivable moment "When the Sun stood still" and your heart ceased to beat and all cellular activities stopped, except in death? But all sorts of activities still go on in the cells of a corpse. Wherever there is activity, there must obviously be time; and there is activity or motion everywhere. Could it be that activity and time are the same fact, seen externally as activity and internally as time?

What is a living organism or an individual person if not a complex system of interrelated and interdependent activities? Man is not only a system (i.e., an organized whole) of physiological activities (body); that system somehow expands into, or is connected with, an equally complex organization of psychological activities (mind, feelings, imagination, will, etc.). Is it not logical to say that because a human being is active at two levels, he experiences time also in two different ways? Accepting this as a hypothesis, we would then say that time for a conscious and thinking-feeling-willing individual person is known, on the one hand, as objective time (the time of physical activity) and, on the other hand, as subjective time (the time identified by psychic-mental activity).

Two Levels of Human Activity
This may sound very profound and philosophical, but actually nothing could be simpler. A man lives at two different levels of activity — we all know that! When we try to solve a difficult problem or we are reliving a deeply moving experience of love, ecstasy, or panic, "time" then means something different than it means when we are repeating mechanical actions on an assembly line in a factory, typing countless legal forms, or driving from home to office trying to beat the traffic — or also when we watch an organic process like the slow opening of leaves or flowers in early spring.

Novelists and poets tell us how a few minutes of blissful love can seem to last forever or, on the contrary, how when deeply interested in some work or play, "time passes so rapidly." This kind of time belongs to the category of "subjective time." It is a phenomenon of consciousness. We cannot measure it by the standard according to which we measure the time of cosmic or biological activities — i.e., the revolution of the earth around the Sun, the growth of a plant, etc.

An astronomer, a physicist, the supervisor of work in a factory deal only with objective time. They investigate every natural or social phenomenon with their clocks (and also their yardsticks). They measure everything; their thinking is strictly quantitative. The one big clock that has been used since men were able to think objectively — that is, with their intellect — is the sky. The day, the month, and the year are measures of time which men have been able to read on the clock of the sky for countless millennia.

When medieval Europe installed big clocks and bells on the church steeples and the belfries of their city halls, they actually did something quite remarkable. They brought objective time from the cosmic level of the sky to the social level of the city-community. This was a most significant change, the importance of which relatively very few people recognize. Later on, wristwatches came; and objective time became a decisive factor at the personal level of human consciousness — with equally significant results. This introduction of objective time into the greater part of modern life of everyday activity produced a profound change in our "inner life" — particularly our life of feelings and our intuitive thinking (i.e., a thinking open to the vast tides of universal processes). It has had the effect of altering and depreciating our sense of subjective time. It has compartmentalized our thinking and brought technological standards of measurement into our most intimate inner life and even his loving. It has "quantitized" love into sexual accomplishments — how long, how many times, etc.

Two Approaches to Astrology
Astrology is very much involved in this because one can well say that there are two basic kinds of astrology: one which extends astronomical measurements of objective time to the realm in which we experience physical events and an astrology which uses such time measurements mainly, if not exclusively, as indicators (or symbols) of what takes place in subjective time as inner experiences.

These inner experiences are in the great majority of cases conditioned by outer and physical changes occurring in the processes of growth or disintegration of the human body and the social environment; but "conditioned" does not mean "determined." The great trouble with our modern city life, industrialized and now computerized is that it relentlessly produces enormous social-technological pressures which inevitably tend to force into our inner life practices, measurements, and values which belong to the objective, physical world of activity and to objective time.

This results in a deep, even if subconscious, feeling of loss and a subsequent rebellion against all manifestations of objective time and quantitative technical measurements. It is this revolt which today is leading a vast number of youths to the use of drugs which can block the ticking of the clocks of objective time and let the consciousness roam more or less rapturously (or, in some instances, fearfully and destructively) in the intensely subjective landscapes of the psyche. There, time has only a subjective meaning and a consciousness value which is not measurable by clocks; yet it is time just the same! The car driver who coasts in neutral does not stop the turning of the wheels or the mileage counter. Another kind of power conditions his car and his consciousness, perhaps fatefully so — viz. the universal power of gravitation. It can be an uncontrollable kind of power and the result can be catastrophic (i.e., psychosis) if the driver suddenly tries to awaken from this out-of-gear state and to put the car in gears. This is an illustration, of course, but one which may be revealing.

In ancient times, the essential purpose of astrology was to establish a calendar for agricultural and tribal communities — that is, to provide a series of celestial clock measurements for practical communal use. The seasonal rhythm of the two Lights (Sun and Moon) and of the rising of important stars were clocking weather changes, inundations needed for watering semidesert fields, sowing and harvesting times, etc. Later on, the cycles of the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn and similar factors were considered most important time measures or social activity, particularly wars and the starting of journeys and enterprises. Astrology dealt then with objective time and physical events.

When ancient astrologers made horoscopes for kings, it was because kings were the symbols of the state and of the principle of order and productivity in the tightly woven tribal-social life; they were not considered as individual persons. Only much later did astrology become "personalized" and horoscopes made for individual persons of importance. But then it dealt still with objective time — that is, with physical plane events. Psychological preoccupations and character analysis were introduced still later.

It may well be that it was the Arab astrologers who — together perhaps with Syrian philosophers influenced by the Christian preoccupation with individual souls and their salvation — introduced decidedly "subjective" and psychological concepts in astrology. I refer particularly here to the complex system of "Parts." In such a system, while the sky clock and its solar, lunar, and planetary "hands" are still used as an objective foundation for measurements of time, the end products of the study are purely symbolical and abstract points, the Parts. These Parts have a basic meaning only when we consider them to be indications in subjective time. They refer to conditions in the inner lives of individual persons — even though they can, to some degree and in some cases, be related to actual events and objective facts.

The relation can be there because man has no inner life unless he is first a physical organism operating in terms of objective time. At this level of organic physical existence, the actual movements of the planets operate as clocking indicators of body changes and physical-social pressures; but man does not operate at that level only. As an individual person, he has a more or less well integrated and intense inner life; there, subjective time operates. At the birth of every individual person, his or her individual clock is set; it is set to operate in subjective time. Every man's inner life operates according to a "calendar" of his own. He has his own sowing, ripening, and harvesting seasons. This inner process refers in astrology to the "progressions."

The Meaning of Progressions
The concept of "one day after birth equals one year of actual living" is a symbolical concept. The most actual and concrete way it can be justified is — as I wrote some two years ago in this magazine — by saying that, while the building of the physical organism in the womb takes nine months, the three months more needed to complete a whole year cycle refer to the development in seed of "intelligence" and of the basic psycho-mental faculties of the future full-grown person. These ninety days after birth constitute a kind of "prenatal" stage as far as man's inner life is concerned — a stage during which his psyche is still completely enfolded by his mother's psyche. During these ninety days, the seed patterns of the individual as a thinking-feeling-willing person which will (or may) become actualized during approximately ninety years of actual conscious living are established; and this is the reason why the symbolical equivalence of a day after birth and a full year of actual living gives results which are considered to be valid.

The approximate 90-day period after birth represent, thus, the individual calendar of the person who is about to grow to full humanhood. The outstanding factor in this post-natal period is the soli-lunar relationship — that is, the fact that after birth there are likely to be two or three New Moons and Full Moons. These establish the basic pattern of the inner-life development during the whole span of the person's existence as a physical organism.

I have discussed in many places the importance and meaning of these 30-year long "progressed lunation cycles" in a human life — particularly in my book just published, The Lunation Cycle: A Key to the Understanding of Personality. These cycles and their most characteristic phases (New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, Last Quarter, and Balsamic Moon), when properly analyzed and evaluated, help us to know what time it is on the clock of our inner life. Within such a frame of reference, the positions of the "progressed planets" find their most meaningful places.

But this clock of our inner life is very different from the physical clocks we are used to and which are attuned to the rhythm of the earth's rotation around its axis and, in more complicated clocks, also to the rhythm of the seasons and the apparent yearly path of the Sun along the zodiac. It does not strike inevitable hours. It does not refer to inevitable events.

Let me stress here that the planets' transits in the sky day after day, year after year are not to be confused with the progressions. The former deal with objective time, the latter with subjective time. The transits of Uranus over a particular degree of Virgo affect every human being born with the Sun on that degree; they are indisputable "facts of life." But a person's response to these facts depends primarily on his natal chart (the blueprints of his individual nature) and secondarily on his progressions — i.e., on the subjective time it is in his inner life.

For instance, a person will respond differently to a "difficult" transit if his progressed Moon is waning or if it is waxing — if the soli-lunar relationship is harmonious (sextile, quintile, trine) or if it is inharmonious and tension-generating (semi-square, square, sesquiquadrate) depending on what has happened since the start of the lunation cycle, perhaps the Full Moon. A difficult transit synchronized with a progressed New Moon can introduce a factor of strain, confusion, or conflict in the whole 30-year-long lunation cycle — or at least during the first seven and fifteen years of it. This can be a very important point to consider.

If at the time of a progressed Full Moon (i.e., when the progressed Moon opposes the progressed Sun), a planet like Saturn or Uranus is conjunct either of the luminaries, or squaring them both, it is likely that this progressed Full Moon will disrupt in some manner what had been built in the consciousness of the person since the progressed New Moon. The natal houses in which the progressed New Moon and Full Moon occur also constitute major factors.

General de Gaulle had a progressed New Moon in the spring of 1940, when France fell under German attack. This was his call of destiny. He was starting as an individual person a new cycle of his life with tremendous energy (Mars in Pisces was sextile the progressed New Moon in Capricorn), while so many other men were collapsing under the heavy aspects of transiting planets in Taurus. He rose as a great symbol and a world figure — even though the transiting planets in his natal seventh house were coming to an opposition with his natal Sun.

The progressed lunation cycle which began in 1940 will end in the fall of 1968, a couple of degrees before a conjunction with progressed Jupiter. Whether he lives to begin a new 30-year cycle or not, his influence is likely to grow. He experienced his progressed Full Moon at the time of the Algerian rebellion of the fall of 1954, with the progressed Sun sextile Mars (in the natal sixth house) and trine Neptune and Pluto. This set the stage for the fulfillment of what had begun in 1940. The progressed Sun reached de Gaulle's natal Jupiter a couple of years later; and in June, 1958, he was in full authority in France. Even though faced by ruthless enemies, they did not succeed in assassinating him. His subjective time did not allow the objective time — astrologically manifest through drastically adverse aspects a very few years ago — to gain control over his indomitable individuality.

Miracles in "Subjective Time"
Let me return now to what I wrote in the beginning of this article concerning time and the strange way in which we speak of taking, borrowing, giving, spending it as if it were a commodity which we own.

If, as I stated, activity and time are the same fact seen externally as activity and internally as time, the taking, spending, giving, etc., of time refer not to time as an internal, subjective factor — a factor to which the term duration can also be specifically applied — but to the speed or tempo of our activity. It is the speed or rhythm of our activity which can be modified by us; we can be slower or faster in what we are doing. We can stop being active and allow others to be active while we wait for their achievement, etc. But it is conceivable that the total amount of activity we can perform from birth to death is limited in a quite precise measure. It was said in old India that the number of breaths during a man's life span was precisely determined at birth; this was one of the reasons for breath control in yoga and for the stress made upon slow, deep breathing.

Whether this is actually true or not, I cannot say; but the idea at least symbolizes the fact that any life cycle begins with a definite amount of potential energy, which we use (or spend) in being active — and in speaking of "activity," I refer to all the physiological processes which go on within the body and which are measurable, as well as to outer activity. "Objective time" refers to activity. There is objective time in the universe so long as planets, stars, and galaxies move and chemical or alchemical reactions go on within these celestial bodies and as well in interstellar and intergalactic space. This cosmic activity not only occurs in time or generates time, but it is time — objective time.

If energy equals activity and activity equals time, we can say more or less validly that we "spend" time and that we have only a certain amount to spend. What apparently complicates the matter is, however, that we do not exist alone or unrelated to any other human or superhuman (divine) beings. We participate in the activities of our community, of humanity as a whole; whether we are aware of it or not, our physical body is a participant in the vast rhythm of activity of the earth's "biosphere" — the realm of living beings. If so, it is quite conceivable that we may, on certain occasions, draw to ourselves energy which belongs to the realm of humanity-as-a-whole considered as a vast organism. How can we do it? I would say only if we succeed in identifying ourselves with the rhythm, the purpose, and the life of this great whole, humanity, "in which we live, move, and have our being."

Perhaps this is the deepest, most realistic purpose of religion, for religion — at least for most human beings today — is that which provides us with means (symbolic or real) to expand our consciousness so that it may become attuned to universal forces and universal forms of mind and love — which we call "divine." If such expansion and attunement are real, steady, and consistent, we may be able to become the recipients of more-than-individual types of energy. A great and much-beloved leader may, thus, be sustained by the nation-as-a-whole which he guides and, in a sense, which he symbolically "impersonates." Any man perhaps may receive the gift of divine grace if his activities become attuned to a divine rhythm of activity and serve the purpose for which the universe exists.

The key is effectual attunement. This is first of all a matter of what happens in our consciousness, thus in our inner life and, therefore, also in terms of "subjective time." There we see the mysterious factor of free will at work — the unpredictable, the miraculous.

It is to this essentially unpredictable factor that astrological progressions refer. These progressions indicate the conditioning, the nature of what might take place; it locates potentialities of events, but the location is in subjective time. No one can tell precisely what objective event will take place at this point or exactly when in objective time. No one can tell whether the activity induced will be positive or negative. The distinction between "good" and "bad" aspects makes even less sense in terms of progressions than in relation to the natal chart. It can only generate fear — and, through fear, the possibility of attunement to great fields of activity is eradicated and man's inner life may become a veritable hell.

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
Copyright © 1967 by Dane Rudhyar.
All Rights Reserved.

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