continued from Part Three
What I have presented, whether at the humanistic or the transpersonal level, can evidently be called a "spiritual" approach to astrology.
To call it "esoteric" is to misunderstand the basic character of this approach. There is nothing hidden in it, no mysterious revelation bestowed by transcendent beings. It is an inherently simple and non-technical approach. It requires nevertheless a clear mind, a holistic way of facing all experiences, all life-experiences – especially the birth-situation which defined our existential character and basic pattern of growth. It requires the courage to remain open to all encounters, even if one experiences fear, dismay or despair; and through these encounters, to face ourselves and accept all that we are as a living being.
A holistic approach to astrology makes sense only of we deal with a birth-chart as a whole, and as a two-dimensional projection of a well-defined network of functional activities, symbolized by the planets – including, in modern astrology, the Sun and the Moon. An organism is an organized system of interacting and interdependent activities. All these activities are functions in the development, maintenance, expansion, reproduction and, whenever needed, transformation of the whole system. When we use the terms, organism and organic, in such a broad sense, they can be applied not only to living bodies, but as well to complex business firms and nations. Thus these socio-cultural and political organizations can have astrological birth-charts, susceptible of being studied in the same manner as those of individual persons.
The fundamental factors in any valid astrological study are the planets, and their inter-relationships. More exactly, what matters is the periodical motion
of these planets, and not their physical mass or composition. Astrology is a study of motions and recurrent relationships – thus of patterns of movements. The archetypal character of any organism can be defined by the patterns made by the total interplay of all its dynamic functions. What our eyes – in combination with our sense of touch and hearing, and our memory – perceive as the solid form of a body is a complex network of functional activities having a relatively constant character, thus "inertia"—which means, a resistance to change. Inertia, in the philosophical and scientific sense, would characterize whatever we assume to be "changeless" – and, for metaphysicians, this could mean God.
Man experiences everywhere changes;
yet when we say "I," we assume that at the core of the restless and at times cyclonic whirling of functional energies constituting our body and psyche, there is an unchanging and therefore mysterious "essence" or center "I." The basic philosophical revolution initiated by Gautama, the Buddha, was based on his teaching that there is no changeless center in man, as man at present knows himself. What he presumably meant was that, as a man reaches wisdom and a true knowledge of himself and the world, all his activities revolve around an open
center. Through that center – a "window" to a four-dimensional space – "light" may pour. He becomes "illumined" – a trans-personal system of activity.
In such a system, every function is more or less illumined; it acquires a meaning
that in some sense transcends the character it had when the center of the system was "closed" – that is, when that center was an opaque, heavy, resistant mass of matter or an ego. Yet the functional activity of the system remains what it has ever been, except that now it is seen by the open consciousness in its true character, and the place every function occupies in the harmony of the whole organism reveals its full significance. Above all, that place and character are accepted
for what they are – and not for what opposing biopsychic urges or socio-cultural traditions said they ought to be.
Every function is accepted, but within a frame of reference that reorients, repolarizes and helps us to transcend the biospheric (biological and psychic) concept that human beings in the mass have of themselves. We may call this frame of reference cosmic or spiritual, depending on our philosophical postulates; but in either case, it implies that "humanness" is essentially different from "animalness." For the true Occultist, the archetypal Man precedes
the formation of animals. Each animal species represents one particular aspect of that archetype – one specific type of motion and emotion, particularly expressed in that animal’s cry. Thus in most ancient musical systems, each note of their scale was identified with the cry of an animal. Man alone, when fully developed, was thought to have the ability to sound forth the whole gamut of animal tones. Man was then understood as the chording of all animal motions.
These motions, however, became perverted. Predatory animals developed as men also allowed themselves to be dominated at times by particularly strong biospychic drives accentuated at the expense of the harmony of the whole man. Because there is in man the latent capacity to transform himself he wields the power to use separately at least some of his functions (and potentially all of them, as demonstrated by great yogis). He can "individualize" his sex urge, his natural biological and psychic drive for expansion and dominance of his environment. This power is inherent in the archetype Man, because it is only through such a process of isolation, individualization, and exaggeration of any one of his functional activities that a human being can become fully and objectively conscious of the character and scope of each function
. Symbolically speaking, he learns how to isolate the colors which white light synthesizes. He links these colors with at least some of his functions. A man "sees red" when angry. But what is anger? Only the power to mobilize his energy when faced by a situation to which he gives the value of being inimical, insulting, dangerous or morally repulsive – and this may be a situation which actually originated within his own nature, for the typically angry person is most often projecting upon external beings or objects the anger he feels against his own past and his own weakness.
These remarks have much relevance to the astrological situation, for just as we see in some animal species symbols of anger and predatory activities, many generations of astrologers have also given to the "red planet," Mars, a mostly destructive meaning. Yet all that Mars represents in astrology is the power to mobilize potential energy stored in the organism and thus to act – and physical action means the contraction of the muscles, whether they be the muscles of the arm and legs, of the tongue or the penis. The same applies to the functional activities – whether at the psycho-mental or the biological level – represented by Saturn, Jupiter and all other planets.
The humanistic astrologer should try to convey to his client the message that all these planet-symbolized functions have their places and meaning in his or her nature,
and that the pattern of the interplanetary relationships (the "aspects" between planets and the gestalt
of the whole chart) can produce a particular type of harmony characterizing his or her individuality as a human being. The astrologer should not be concerned with events, but only with the response the client has given, is now giving, and is likely to give them. The astrologer translates in existential terms the message which the whole sky gave to the newborn as the later related himself for the first time with the universe through the act of breathing. The message essentially is how
best to use
all the capacities for action inherent in the newborn’s nature so as to become an effective and conscious answer to the need of his or her environment – thus to the need of the universe at that particular time and place. The form of the universe, as it is focused at the birth-place and moment of the first breath is like the plaster mould into which bronze is being poured. That bronze takes the form of the inner side of the mould. Each man has the form of the universe’s need
, where and when he is born.
Successive events are means for the development of the potentialities inherent in that form, which the birth-chart as a two-dimensional mandala represents. If man were a plant or and animal, the responses he gives to these events effecting him would always be the most adequate, considering the limited possibilities for response of the organism as a whole. It would be a holistic response in which all organic functions are involved. But man need not respond in such a manner. He may respond only with a part of himself. He is pressured by his family, his culture and society to give definite and traditional sets of responses to well classified types of events. Such pressures nevertheless are necessary for the development of an objective and reflective type of consciousness, of a thoroughly formed and thinking mind able to affect the responses of the organism, even in opposition to the natural tendencies of this organism. Man develops his individuality largely by learning through more or less drastic experiences what he is not
. Through isolation and conflicts, and by putting one part of himself against another, he learns the workings and the nature of every part. He learns through crises.
A basic question therefore arises: How to deal with these crises, including illnesses, emotional tragedies and mental chaos or dissociation?
The ordinary answer given by our modern society, its doctors and psychologists is: Calm the crisis. Remove the symptoms. Compromise and be normal again, but more careful, less intransigent, and more adaptable to external conditions. This is a spiritually defeatist answer which poisons our soft and decaying civilization.
The humanistic psychologist-astrologer’s answer differs. He welcomes crises as signs of growth. He attempts to help the client or patient reorient himself toward the causes of the crisis, to reassess his goals as well as his motives, to accept what is, but in a new and holistic manner – that is, as raw materials which though born of an original unity, have so differentiated and developed at cross-purpose that now a calm, persistent, all-inclusive process of re-integration is necessary which eventually should lead to harmony, inner peace, wisdom and compassion.
The transpersonal philosopher-astrologer has no quarrel with the humanistic answer: but he is looking at the situation from a transcendent point of view. Crises and conflict in man are not only means to achieve self-consciousness and, through overcoming, and eventual peace of mind and a wisdom that the culture of the individual limits as well as defines; they can be used as an alchemical process of transmutation of energy which, if successful, can transform man into more-than-man. They can be sharpened by the consciousness of a more than personal purpose, as tools to cut through the inertia of past habits, memories and fears. They can be made into instrumentalities to focus energies which do not radiate form the Sun and are reflected by the planets, but instead which emanate from galactic realms and higher dimensions of space and consciousness.
All crises can be used; but especially those that can be linked with the transpersonal planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
How can the be used? This of course is the great question that no one can completely answer in general terms for, as already said, transpersonal guidance only deals with unique situations and individuals who meet them on the background of a unique past.
The problem brings with it its solution. The important factor is how this problem is formulated, which in turn conditions the manner in which the answer takes form. Crises which more pointedly reveal hidden presence of transformative forces at work can usually be referred to transits of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto; or progressions of other planets reaching the natal positions of these trans-Saturnian "agents" of the Galaxy. The probability of such crises can be estimated from the aspects these natal positions outline; but one never can tell whether the person whose chart is being considered will be ready to meet these transformative or cathartic opportunities when they arise, and not being ready, he would not recognize them for what they are.
I have spoken of astrology as "the conscious way" of growth and transformation. The mysterious Chinese word TAO has been translated as "the conscious way." If it can be so translated, it is because consciousness arises from the meeting of opposites; and TAO is what emerges form the constant interplay of the opposites. Yin and Yang. The conscious way is the truly human way because man alone can absorb the shock of the opposites and become transfigured by it. In order not to break down, he has to have accepted as fully as possible what he is. He has to be convinced that the manner in which his biopsychic functions operate, if they are allowed to operate in terms of their own nature, is the best way for him
– the way of strength and victory in all life’s contests.
We come back therefore to the prerequisite of all profound transformations: an awareness of what the natural rhythm of one’s function is, in contrast to the way in which the pressures of tradition and environment have sought to mould according to collective values. Yet such an awareness can only be reached by accepting these pressures as teachers of what one is not
. That is what the Hindu calls Karma Yoga. The conscious realization of dharma – the rhythm of one’s own natural destiny, and the purpose one is born to fulfill – emerges out of the performance of one’s karma. The future is born out of accepting the past, yet refusing to repeat it. The present moment is the instant of crisis, in which acceptance and refusal meet. We, as individuals persons, are the meeting place. There will be action, if the meeting is to bring forth its fruit, meaning
. But the meeting place only experiences the action; it
does not act.
All fundamental transformations take place in
the person, but not by
the person. The individual is the field of transformation. The birth-chart is a field of potential transformation. Will the potentiality ever become actuality? A field needs rain to bring out its inherent fertility. This "rain" may be the symbol of the transpersonal guide’s love and understanding – sufficient moisture, yet not a torrent to wash out the seeds. Even a gentle rain may not penetrate the soil of hard clay. The earth may have to be ploughed by sharp blades of anguish or pain.
What then can be the transpersonal astrologer do when asked for guidance? As his basic task, he should consider helping his client realize the potentialities of self-transformation implied in the latter’s birth-chart at the time of the consultation, and the areas of his life and personality in which a change can best take place. He should help the client not only accept, but welcome the possibility of transformation in whatever situation he finds himself. In order to do that it is evident that the
In this connection, the age of the person, and what it applies
, both generally and socioculturally is of primary importance. The "now" moment occurs within cycles and subcycles enclosed within the limits set by the generically defined life-span of a human being in present-day conditions of existence. These limits are relatively indeterminate; yet they are determined enough to give specific meaning to some basic human life-cycles – especially the 7-year cycle, and the 28-year cycle which, in human beings with the mental-spiritual capacity for self-transformation, is archetypally repeatable at three levels: thus 84-years – the time it takes for Uranus to evolve around the Sun. Of course some individuals develop more rapidly or more slowly than the norm in any particular culture, class and geographic region. But underneath those differences, yet never losing sight of them, one may detect an archetypal pattern of human growth. Each age has its own basic possibilities and tasks; and the first thing young people should learn today is not to be in a hurry
, and not to think (as some do) that at 20 or 25 they have already wasted their lives and have no more chance! Youthful frustrations, physical or psychological tragedies and apparent failures are most important indications of what can be used constructively to rise above the mass-consciousness of one’s environment
; but what they meant and the potentiality of achievement inherent in them often can only be fully understood by referring to the astrological factors (natal, progressions, transits, etc.) related to them.(1
The most important help astrology can offer may well be to foster an understanding of how the past can be reinterpreted as having been the still unrecognizable yet necessary means of accomplishing a transformation which may be just ahead. It may be now
– if the realization or revelation triggers a "sudden enlightenment," a relative kind of satori
. When a low caste barber, hearing the Buddha speak of nirvana, poignantly asked him: "But could I, a barber, reach nirvana?" and the Buddha answered: "Yes, even you, a barber," the man suddenly "reached nirvana."
This may be a myth; but what it obviously intends to say is that any block on the path to self-transformation – any belief forced upon the young and not so young person by society and culture, or by physical traumas or illness – can be dissipated, if a sudden light is focused upon it. That light could come from a meeting with an illumined personage that reveals the falseness of the traditional belief obscuring the spiritual reality; but in less extraordinary circumstances it is the light born of the understanding of the entire life-process of actualization of the birth potential – a process having many phases, some of which may be very difficult to go through, to accept without resistance and to understand as prerequisites for an individualized and conscious
type of transformation and an eventual entrance into a "trans-natural" and transpersonal realm of being.
A past crisis may be understood by the study of the position in zodiacal signs and houses of all the planets, and particularly Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, at the time of the crisis, and by the aspects they made to each other. The usual astrological techniques apply here as with any other approach; but the levels of interpretation, and especially the purpose polarizing the quality of the interpretation and its possible results
, differ radically according to the type of astrological approach. Whether the astrologer intends to assist his client in reaching a state of "personality integration" and fulfillment, or in transforming more radically the frame of reference and the implications of his existence, in both cases the natal Houses should be given a dominant place in the interpretation.
The Houses of a birth-chart reveal the category of experience through which the planets – i.e. the functional activities of the person – can most effectively and meaningfully achieve their purpose of destiny; and experiences – not merely events – are a key factor in both transpersonal and humanistic approaches. The only difference between the two approaches is the end purpose these experiences are understood to serve. It should be evident, nevertheless, that in order to understand these experiences, one must also be aware of the nature (or mode of activity) of the energies at work throughout these experiences and this refers to the positions of the planets in zodiacal signs.
The four Angles of the chart – the cross of the horizon and meridian – are perhaps the most important factors in an interpretation geared to a transpersonal approach, for they should reveal the truly individual framework within which the alchemical process of transformation has to operate. Perhaps more than anything else in a birth-chart the Angles (and their symbols) give a clue to the individual conditions in which transformation is possible and/or expectable. However, because it is so often difficult to ascertain the exact degree of these four points in the space surrounding the new born, a basic uncertainty may prevail – and perhaps this is as it should be!
A mystery always seems to hover around the process of transformation. Much may be understood about it – the forces at work, the obstacles to be dematerialized, the inertia to be overcome; yet some essential factor most often cannot be pinpointed. Uncertainty remains concerning the ultimate response of the individual to the possibility of meeting every experience as a phase in the process of metamorphosis. The center of the mandala may be open; but what quality of light or power may flow through it, and whether or not the open center would suddenly close in fright if it experienced the downflow; these may remain unknown. They may be unknowables.
The transpersonal philosopher-astrologer should always allow for the existence of the unknowable. He is dealing with a mystery – with man’s essential freedom: the freedom to fail, and thus to begin again, perhaps wiser and more open to the Divine, because he has met in his deepest depths the experiences of fear and despair – man’s greatest enemies – and he is still trying, always trying.
1. This word, achievement, literally means "coming to the head" – thus the making conscious. Return
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