Three Centuries of Crisis - 1
Today's most evident historical fact
is that mankind has never known as rapid, intense and radical a period of change as during this and the two preceding centuries. The most similar period of transformation was no doubt that covering the first centuries BC and AD , but it may be objected that this period had reference mainly to the Mediterranean world from which we have inherited our present European-American culture - even though there were also basic changes occurring in India at the same time, especially the rise of a new form of Buddhism (Mahayana Buddhism) which was to spread fairly soon afterward to Tibet, China, and later Japan. Today, however, the crisis we are living through is global. Every continent and every human collectivity is affected by it, and indeed finds itself in a state of upheaval.
This fact must be given significance. If we believe in an ordered universe and an inherently structured process of human evolution, the historical fact must fit into a most important place in the pattern of cycles affecting the evolution not only of mankind, but of our entire earth — if only for the reason that man today has presumably in his power to destroy most of life on this planet as well as to commit a global suicide. You cannot brush off these facts. We should make every conceivable attempt — tentative and incomplete as these may prove to be in the eyes of men born five or ten centuries later — to discover the meaning of the facts by situating them in time. And this means looking for relevant and illuminating clues wherever we can find them; even if it is difficult (or impossible indeed) to find clues which seem relevant and illuminating to every man and woman in our age of confusion, of undigested data and unintegrated intellectual disciplines.
To the astrologically minded person a most fascinating clue is given by the discovery of three until then (presumably) unknown planets in our solar system — in the 18th century, Uranus, in the 19th century, Neptune, and in the 20th century, Pluto. It is easy to say that the reason why these planets were discovered is that man had perfected both new instruments (telescopes and sensitive photographic plates) and new intellectual methods (algebra, calculus, etc.). Both these instruments and these methods were needed to establish the presence of these distant planets, and of a variety of smaller celestial bodies in our solar system (mainly asteroids). But to say this simply transfers the significance from the cosmic to the intellectual level.
The discovery of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto is not mentioned here as the cause of our world-crisis, but as the symbol of its significance. What is particularly fascinating about it is that one can show that the over-all character of the basic changes which occurred during the 18th century — at least in our Western culture which constituted the spearhead of evolutionary development at that time — is truly "Uranian." Likewise the 19th century period (especially around the time of Neptune's discovery) is characteristically "Neptunian"; and the same is true of the connection between Pluto and our present century.
But how do we know what the terms Uranian, Neptunian and Plutonian signify? — it will be asked. There are two ways of answering this question. Most astrologers would say that experience has proved that these newly discovered planets affect human beings or national and local events in definable ways; and that therefore each of these planets can be said to have a characteristic "nature" and "influence" upon human affairs, as a multitude of facts can easily prove. And this can hardly be denied by anyone who has carefully studied astrology for a few years.
However the answer I have given is that the solar system as a whole is an organized system in which the distance of a planet from the Sun establishes its essential character. This distance conditions the length of the planet's "period" (i. e. the time it takes to revolve around the Sun); and the solar system can be considered as a vast clock with many hands moving with different speeds and thus establishing cycles of greatly different lengths.
This, however, does not tell the whole story. Astrology, when we look closely at what it is able to interpret and give meaning to, appears as a symbolic language in which the structure in space and time of larger wholes (like the solar system) is related to the structural development of lesser wholes (an individual person, or humanity-as-a-whole). Astrology is indeed the practical application of a holistic philosophical approach to existence. According to this philosophy, every existential whole is contained within a greater whole which in turn is a lesser whole contained within a still greater whole. An organized system of existential activities is therefore both the container of lesser wholes, and one of the contents of a greater system. A molecule contains atoms, but is one of the many contents of a cell. A human being contains billions of cells and the human kingdom (or, more realistically, the planet Earth) contains billions of human beings.
This is a very fundamental principle in as much as it defines two spheres or realms of activity in any organized wholes. Any whole that we have ever observed can be said to have some sort of more or less central core — because it originally emerged from some kind of "seed" or was integrated around a dynamic center (as for instance the void around which a whirling motion is formed). Most of the organized system normally is subject to the centripetal or gravitational pull of that core or integrating power; but there is also, at least in a potential and latent condition, a circumferential part of the whole which is affected by, and in due time becomes increasingly affected by the pull of the larger whole which totally surrounds and contains the smaller system.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1969 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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