It has become customary among people interested in astrology to say: "I am a Leo," "I am a Sagittarius." What is meant by such statements is that the individuals in question were born when the Sun was located in the zodiacal signs Leo and Sagittarius. Zodiacal signs — which must be clearly differentiated from zodiacal constellations (groups of actual stars) — are simply 30-degree sections of the path which the Sun describes in its apparent yearly motion from one spring equinox to the next — more precisely, from two successive northward crossings by the Sun of the celestial equator.
The Sun is in Aries when it is located from 0 to 30 degrees away from the vernal equinox point (Aries 0°). It is in Taurus when it has traveled from 30 to 60 degrees from this same starting point of the yearly solar cycle. To say, "I am a Taurus native," means, thus, that one chooses to characterize one's own nature or human type by using as a "frame of reference" the apparent motion of the Sun every year from one vernal point to the next.
The position of the natal Sun within this zodiacal frame of reference defines what we call the "birthday" of the person — at least, within the limits of accuracy of our modern calendar. The birthday is, thus, exclusively a "solar" factor and has meaning solely in terms of the significance of the Sun.
It should be clear that any other important natal factor which has a regular cycle, for which a precise and logical starting point can be easily ascertained, might also be used in the same way as we normally use the Sun in order to determine a different kind of "birthday".
For instance, a planet like Jupiter crosses the equatorial plane northward at regular intervals; these crossings could be considered (and are so considered in mundane astrology) as the beginning of a Jupiter "year", lasting nearly twelve solar years. Then, the position of Jupiter at birth could be defined with reference to this Jupiter "year"; when Jupiter returns to its natal place, a person could then be said to have his "Jupiterian birthday".
Such a procedure would be followed in any civilization which would consider the Jupiter factor as being more basic than the Sun factor and which would base its calendar upon the cycle of Jupiter instead of upon that of the Sun. This would be logical and feasible, whether or not it has ever been done.
Actually, because astrology and the use of a calendar began in societies mainly concerned with agriculture and the need to establish as clearly as possible the rhythm of seasonal changes, the position of the Sun — the one basic source of heat and light — has always been featured in the making of a calendar. It has not, however, always been featured as exclusively as it is in our present "solar calendar". There have been so-called "lunar" calendars, and the Islamic calendar still belongs to this category.
It is incorrect, however, to call "lunar" any calendar or time pattern which is established by considering as the basic unit of time the period from one New Moon to the next-that is the "lunation cycle". Such a lunation cycle is soli-lunar, not really lunar, for it refers to the recurring period of the successive conjunctions of the Sun and the Moon. New Moons and Full Moons are not, strictly Speaking, "lunar" factors; they are phases in the relationship of the Moon to the Sun, as it is seen from the point of view of the Earth.
The Lunation Cycle is a cycle by the related motions of the Moon and the Sun. It belongs, therefore, to a different type of cycle than the yearly cycle of the Sun from vernal equinox to vernal equinox. The former is a "cycle of relationship" — the latter, a "cycle of positions". The distinction between these two categories of cycles is basic and must be made if astrology is to have solid and logically consistent foundations.
This distinction is that between the "sidereal" and the "synodic" periods of the planets. The former refers to the regular motion of a planet to a (theoretically, at least) fixed starting point. The vernal equinox point, a characteristic star which is supposed to be "fixed", constitutes the beginnings of such cycles. The year, the sidereal day, the transits of a planet from its natal position to this same position years later are, all "cycles of positions"; they refer to the distances of a moving factor (Sun, earth meridian, planet) from one set point to this same point again. Only one basic factor and its motion are considered.
On the other hand, where "cycles of relationship" are studied, two moving factors are considered. The cycle begins at the time of their conjunction, climaxes at the time of their opposition, begins again at the next conjunction. Not only the lunation cycle belongs to this category, but all usually called "cycles of planetary conjunctions" — such as the well-known cycle of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions, which lasts about twenty years.
The soli-lunar cycle extending from New Moon to New Moon is, in my opinion, just as important in practical astrology as the cycle of the solar year; but while it has a most fundamental and recognized place in mundane astrology and in all agricultural and climacteric approaches to the study of astrology, it is not given sufficient meaning in natal astrology, in psychological-astrological studies and also in the type of personal guidance featured in astrological magazines.
We consider as basic the twelve-sign zodiacal cycle of the Sun (the year) and the twelve-house pattern derived from the daily motion of the horizon and meridian of the Earth, both of which are "cycles of positions". But just as basic are all "cycles of relationships" between planets, the prototype and model of which is the soli-lunar cycle — the measure of the true monthly periods of time. This period, the month, is necessary as a vital intermediary between the year and the day — just as, philosophically speaking, "mind" is the necessary intermediary between the realm of "spirit" (the Sun and its yearly rhythm) and that of "material body" (the Earth and its daily rotation).
There is but one Latin word for "mind" and "month", mens, from which also is derived the word for "measure". Mind — and also in a certain sense, soul — belongs to the middle realm in all trinities of principles of being. Mind is the "formative principle"; this principle, which is the controlling factor in all actual manifestations of life (i.e., in all "organisms"), can be understood only in terms of the interplay of polarities — the yang and yin of old Chinese philosophy, the solar and lunar factors in Alchemy and in the more profound systems of modern psychology (particularly C. G. Jung's).
To study only the Moon and its sidereal real "cycle of positions" is to ignore the meaning of mind and soul, for these elements of our most vital nature are expressions not of a lunar factor, but of a constantly evolving soli-lunar relationship. This relationship is symbolized and actually represented in astrology by the lunation cycle, whose cyclic series of phases are not lunar, but soli-lunar.
Truly, we may say that the "phases of the Moon" are changes in the appearance of the Moon only. Actually, however, we do not see the Moon itself as a body; we see the solar light which this body reflects. The Moon has no phases, really. It is the light of the Moon which varies and has phases; it varies because it is the expression of the relationship between the Sun and Moon. To ignore this distinction is to be philosophically blind to one of the greatest and most basic realities of life and organically embodied existence on earth. It is to miss the central key to the most potent of all mysteries.
Of itself, the Moon is nothing — as, of itself, mind is either nothing or (in some cases) a power for destruction. The Moon has vital power, meaning, purpose only as that which gives form to and distributes organically and harmonically the "ray" of the Sun. Likewise, mind has vital power, meaning and purpose only as that which gives form and individualized being to the "divine spark" as that which builds a "soul-organism" as a dwelling place for this "spark" emanated from the one Divine Father.
This is not merely metaphysics or spiritual psychology. It is the most practical of all keys to the everyday life and, as well, to the achievement of the great work to which Alchemists, Occultists and Theosophists of all ages have guardedly referred. It means that, in the cyclic development of the soli-lunar relationship through the monthly lunation period, we can find the most profound, most vital, most practical pattern of unfoldment for the powers of personality — a guide to the actual living of our organic, personal, psycho-mental life.
It is only through the living of this life that we can ever hope to realize and to fulfill spirit in ourselves — individualized spirit, God imminent, the Christ within. Spiritual living is not away from the earth but at the core of the earth-born organism which is represented, in blueprints, in the birth-chart of the individual — at the core and through it! Indeed, it is through the illumination and the clear, objective vision, of which all Full Moons are the ever-renewed symbol.
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