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NEPTUNE - Master of Ecstasy

When men have become shaken loose by Uranian power from the grip of Saturnian egoism and from the inertia of static tradition, they find themselves floating into a new world utterly different from their old habitat. A world fluidic, scintillating with light; a world of strange perceptions — of glamorous mirages for some, of transcendental realizations for others. This is the realm of Neptune, the realm of ecstasy and mystic revelation, the realm of glamor and deceiving phantasms, the realm of hallucination and intoxication, the realm of the "astral sea", perfidious in its shallow waters, sublime where great depths balance the iridescent surface. It is the realm of the collective, where the individual either loses himself in fallacious nirvanas or receives the "Robe of Glory", the "Garment of Christ", of which all mystics have spoken: the realm of dissolution and chaos, or the realm of synthesis and transcendent consciousness in which the Face of God is beheld, and the small cell realizes the magnitude and glory of the cosmic organism wherein it moves and has its being.

The entrance to that Neptunian realm is reached through the path cut by the Uranian thirst for the beyond, that quest which makes men leave the known world of their birth, the limitations and traditions of their outer and inner environment, in search for something more extensive, more universal, more stimulating, more permanent and more free. We spoke of this quest as one pursued in two significant directions: the quest for a universal God beyond all tribal gods, and the quest for gold, bestower of a wealth which can be used everywhere and transformed into anything, at any time; a wealth that opens the doors of "society" and courts, that summons at will the glamor of countless pleasures, dreams and intoxications, God and gold are the universal givers of ecstasy. But the ecstasy that is of God is food only for saints and poets, for mystics and musicians; whereas the ecstasies which gold buys may lead all men from glamor to glamor, from dream to fallacy, until they become helpless wrecks lulled to haunted death by physical or psychic drugs.

Seen from the point of view of the individual, Neptune represents the end of the journey. It is the merging of the river into the sea, of the individual into the collective, of the one into the All. It is indeed the passage to nirvana, the final state from which there is no return as an individual personality. Thus the song of Neptune is the song of the sea, and the mauve glamor of sunset. It is the music of "Tristan and Ysolde" — its chromaticism, in which merge and are lost all tonalities, all cultural and traditional forms; its ecstatic surge toward annihilation and love; a love beyond name which is death, because absolute completion — or the illusion of completion.

But Neptune is not only an end. It is not only the acid that dissolves all walls and partitions built by Saturn at the dawn of individualized life, the glamor that covers up all defined and clear-cut outlines with a golden and iridescent mist, the lure of freedom which makes one forget duty and roots, caution and morality for the sake of coruscating mirages. It is not only the death of the individual stream into the collective sea, that disappearance of the earth-cultured and soil-loving peasant into the vast metropolitan mob of office and factory workers.

It is also the prenatal stage of a new life: a life at a new level of consciousness, a life which partakes in a more universal rhythm, which knows itself as participant in an order of being far transcending the earth-horizons of a narrow instinctual selfhood. It means embryonic growth within the Great Mother of universal Compassion, thence to emerge — as Pluto sounds the call — as a "child of God", as a true and responsible "citizen of the world", beyond national barriers, tribal superstitions and passional bondage.

Who is this Great Mother, if not "Mary", mother of Christs; Maia, mother of Buddhas? She is the one that is many and all, the Nirmanakaya of occult lore: She whose vast "being" is for the "Little Ones", the "babes in Christ", the true "Initiates", a home of cosmic love, a home vast as the sea, luminous as the winter skies over snow-covered heights. She is the universal womb of Light: the galaxy or Milky Way. And Neptune is the focal point, the path through which this cosmic love of the celestial Matrix of Souls descends upon those who have refused gold and accepted God as their infinite quest.

Thus Neptune is a symbol of universal compassion and of at-one-ment. For Neptune eradicates all differences, all distinctions, all separateness. Beyond Uranus, symbol of the original genius of the individual Soul, Neptune is the cosmic "melting pot" in which all particular characters and formations vanish and are blended into either a synthesis or an undifferentiated chaos, out of which in due time a new type shall emerge. Thus it is the symbol of the "confusion of castes" which the old Aryans, progeny of the Saturnian Golden Age, thought to be the source of all evil. Today it is the symbol of the proletarian and communistic movement, which is the great leveler of distinctions and the eradicator of privileges and classes; yet which, by the same token, can also be a powerful anti-cultural force, inasmuch as culture is rooted in distinction and particularity of genetic-geographical characters. Neptune represents the cosmopolitan ideal, that aspect of civilization which knows no boundary and tends to make all people uniform and monotone in customs, dress, thought and behavior. And yet such a "civilization" is only the shadow of the true and universal Living Civilization, of which Neptune is also the symbol and the promise.

The modern German struggle against civilization and communism, and for culture, race-purity and State-tribalism or paternalism, is the struggle between Saturn and Neptune. The well-known description of Oswald Spengler, in his Decline of the West, of the conflict between an extolled cultural ideal and a despised concept of civilization, is this same conflict in which, however, the purely negative and amorphous aspect of Neptune is the only one Spengler recognizes. In a sense, it is also the struggle between paganism and Christianity, between all tribal forms of worship or ethics and the universal type of religion or spiritual philosophy of which Christianity and the original Buddhism are the outstanding examples.

Unfortunately, very few people today really understand the significance either of world-civilization or of what Buddhism and Christianity brought to humankind. In spite of our international contacts through modern methods of transportation by air, rail and water, in spite of telegraph, telephone, radio and motion pictures, most contemporary human beings are still very much attached to old nationalisms and antiquated cultural biases. The tragedy is that such an attachment no longer means that the human being is vitally and fruitfully rooted in the soil, drawing from it sustenance and stable power or a solidity of response to life. Man today is fundamentally and physically uprooted and rootless. And it is because he senses his helplessness and his lack of vital stability and power that he clings so desperately to mental molds and nationalistic fetishes.

This has been made evident by the reaction of our mature generations to the World War. The return to classical forms in the arts, the return to nationalism in politics, the return to such a stable organization as the Catholic Church in the realm of religion — especially of course in Europe — have all been the results of psychological fright at the threshold of the Neptunian realms. The League of Nations is a Neptunian ideal. But nations, afraid of losing their Saturnian "rugged individualism", have fought against it or perverted it.

The conflict between Saturn and Neptune is that between individualism and collectivism, nationalism and internationalism. It is one of the dominant features of this twentieth century. The opposites will have to be reconciled, integrated — just as culture and civilization must become harmonized as vital ideals of harmonic humanhood.

Uranian scientific activities have broken down the partitions between nations and cultural groups, as well as between set castes and classes. The Machine has made the world physically one. But it has accomplished this by uprooting men. And men have not had the spiritual courage to face their physical rootlessness and to build a new Neptunian organization established at a higher level, at the level of substantial Spirit, within the unanimous realization of the unity of all men. Men have yet to feel psychologically inter-related, united, as a planetary organism.

The Machine cannot do that for them — even though motion pictures and radios are doing their share of the work. Something else is needed: a planetary psychologizing of humankind. Men must lose their fears. Individualism is based on fear. Yet more deeply still perhaps than fear, it is the result of that most basic of all impulses, the impulse to be a "particular" being, to belong to a "particular" group, to have a home in a "particular" place. And unfortunately, the negative aspect of such a desire is the hatred of all that is different; the contempt of the "Elect" for the "barbarians".

Therefore cultural and social exclusivism has been the rule in the past, fortified by religious fanaticism. And we are heirs to such Saturnian shells and venom. The old snakes and creeping things of the slime are still alive in us. We are no longer vitalized by earthly roots, but we are bound by chains of traditional viewpoints which no longer give us power or stability, yet keep us prisoners to old hatreds and old prides. Mental chains are more cruel than physical bondage to the "good earth". They keep our souls narrow while our limbs speed on aimlessly in cars and aeroplanes. They force us to misuse the Uranian Machine, and make us so desperate in our empty lives that we yearn for negative Neptunian intoxications, for physical or spiritual "dope".

Our problem is not to condemn a Spenglerian "civilization" and machines out of our automatons' lives, and to yearn for the stability of the limited and formalistic cultural state. It is to understand really what civilization means, and by utilizing fearlessly machines and the new powers freed by science, to transform utterly our social and political structures. We still put electric bulbs on top of make-believe candles, and engines in front of automobiles, because once we had candle-light and horse-drawn carts. And these are but symbols of our general bondage to traditions, of our inept lack of imagination, of our fears in facing the unknown, of our slowness in adjusting our lives and the creations of our minds to new vistas and new ideals.

These new vistas and ideals should repolarize man's consciousness toward the realm of Neptune. They should encompass the whole planet, in terms of social-political organization. They should lead us to a sense of spiritual unity and freedom which would make dreams of "universal brotherhood" realities on earth. We need universal bodies in every possible sense of the term; and such bodies are typically Neptunian. Neptune is the builder of organizations which are all-inclusive and which leave no pariah outside of the gates; the builder of "organisms of light"; that is, of organisms whose substance emanates from whatever has reached the stage of wholeness — for every entity that is whole and perfect emanates some degree or kind of "light". This is the positive aspect of Neptune, that it collects the perfume of all flowers, the halos of sanctity of all holy men, the radiant glow of all synthetic understanding, the wisdom of all the wise — and out of it all makes the substance for a new universal manifestation of being, for that "body of light" which is the true "home" of the Soul.

He who has gained that "home", that Sva-rupa — or form of pure Selfhood — need no longer fear the vastness of a world without obvious Saturnian boundaries. He need no longer feel rootless and deprived, because he has reached a realm of universal solidarity in the Light, which is more solid, more steady and more significant than the heavy dirt of this earth and the binding exclusiveness of cultures bounded by climates, by blood and by ancestral gods.

In its negative aspect, Neptune represents all manner of illusion and deceit, and the mental, moral and psychic confusion which takes hold of one who has surrendered his fortress of self to that glamor which, having so many facets and names, is really nameless and formless. With every age this Neptunian glamor takes new aspects. At times men have lost themselves into the glamor of nirvana, into the dream of self-annihilation, or rather of a self-centered bliss that meant loss of contact with the many, escape into oneness or holiness. The glamor of sanctity took many Christians to devotional paradises which essentially were but psychological mirages. Even light is a glamor, as it plays upon all things; even its glory is a veil that may lead astray from that central reality, the "Heart of the Sun" — the point of Silence and ineffable Darkness which is the incomprehensible essence of God; "God's utter poverty", as a mystic said. And all great mystics took care lest they be caught into the Neptunian glamor of the Glory of God, and thus forsake the deeper God whose essence hides at the innermost core of the Light — which to us must be considered absolute Darkness.

There is also the glamor of freedom; the illusory sense of escaping destiny and the limits of our particular nature — be those limits considered in terms of parental inheritance and early environment, or in terms of Soul-ancestry and karma. The will to freedom is often but a psychological escape into the formless and the un-moral. That freedom which is not found in fulfillment, and only thereafter in transcendence, is usually but the impatience of a youthful soul, as yet unaware of its essential participation in a "greater Whole" — be it society or some more cosmic organism of which each of us is, potentially, a cell.

And there is also the glamor of being a part of some "greater whole", of basking in the sense of being diffused, expanded, released into the substance of that "greater Whole". At the highest level, this is the beatific enjoyment of a so-called "cosmic consciousness", which is but too often a regressive loss of selfhood into archaic images and into maternal security. It is the return to the Mother, the return to the Church, the return to instinctual primitivism, in which men, in the bliss of forfeiting the burden of their individual souls and their too conscious minds, see themselves merged into the vast ocean of the "Great Mother" that welcomes all, yet dissolves all. Subtle indeed is the discrimination one must develop in order not to confuse the progressive ecstasy of conscious selfhood, illumined by a greater Consciousness of which one is an organic, individuated part — and the regressive glamor found by the weary, disillusioned, perhaps unconsciously defeated soul, when it loses its identity in the mirage of "cosmic consciousness". Heavy indeed is the burden of self. But to drop it and let oneself flow rapturously backward into archaic ecstasies is not the way of the "Sons of God". Selfhood can only be transcended by active fulfillment and participation in some greater and more universal Self.

The same is true at the more normal level of men's relationship to society. The glamor of a social life, the loss of self in an empty round of parties, social functions, amusements, or even cultural devices for spiritual forgetfulness, is a real temptation to those in whose life gold has power. Gambling is another glamor, Neptunian inasmuch as it involves this peculiar mirage of the individual yearning to be lost in a sense of social power. At the positive pole we find, instead, the joy and ecstasy of conscious and formed organic participation in the rhythm of the national life, the ecstasy of the creator of social values, who knows himself expanded into the communal life in which he struggled and won as an organic part; the realization that every atom of his own individual being has borne to him a progeny in which he will spread himself, and through which he will reach immortality as a social Institution. Thus Edison's individual selfhood burns in every lamp, and his soul sings in every phonograph, which his genius summoned. This is true "cosmic consciousness"; just as the essence of "Christhood" is that in every human heart there is burning the small flame of a potential "Living God" that is the being of Christ universalized, protean, beyond form and particular conditions — yet only in the sense that it flows through and permeates all conditions and all particular forms.

This all-pervasiveness, this ubiquitousness, this protean and multitudinous state of being is the reality of true spiritual Ecstacy. It is Neptunian fulfillment. But for one who deliberately, and with burning compassion for the woes of men, strives toward such a fulfillment, how many there are who succumb to the easier lure of multitudinous intoxications! How many there are who drink the cup of dream-laden wine, rather than the Grail of Christ-love! So many indeed, that in all ages a strong symbolic association of ideas has been made between the intoxication bestowed by wine and the ecstasy of the mystic's realization.

In our age of "psychological complexes" and abnormal psychology, men and women come more than ever to alcohol and drugs to release them from the grip of subconscious repressions and inhibitions. The fight between Uranus and Saturn in every "civilized" human being is so bitter and cruel that men are exhausted by the strain. To Neptune they go for relief and peace. Of old, such a relief was found in monasteries and convents; today we find it in drinking, in psychic phenomena, in mediumship of all sorts, in speed driving and flying in everything that helps us to forget ourselves and gives us the glamor or ecstasy of freedom and of being "out of gear". Out of the gears of individual selfhood; rolling freely on and on. But what if brakes wear out?

Neptune is also "relief to the unemployed". It is social security dispensed by society to those thrown out of their natural self-expression in work by the machine-age, those who left the earth for the pavements of hard Saturnian cities. Social help, the Whole's care for its parts, is a necessary adjunct to civilization. It is Neptune's answer to problems raised by Uranus, the inventor and builder of our machines and our sciences.

In the realm of religion, this answer takes the form of "divine redemption", salvation by the Grace of God, salvation by the blood of Jesus. At the crucial time of the sixth century B.C., when seeds of the new civilization were first sown, Buddha, symbolically speaking, put upon men's souls the burden of a greater consciousness than they could normally assume. He led them, through rationalizations too sweeping and too daring, to mental and spiritual lives which were too broad and too encompassing for the masses of mankind. Following upon the spiritual vibration that his coming imparted to the whole planet, Pythagoras and the Greek civilization brought to men more mental concentration than they could stand. Buddhism degenerated into spiritual selfishness, Greek thought into sophistry. Thus the religion of compassion of the Boddhisatva in India, the religion of compassion of the Christ in the West, were needed to soothe and to save; to take the burden from crushed souls and wearied minds.

This is the answer of the Nirmanakayas — universal Beings beyond manas or individual selfhood. The universal must rescue the individual. And the universal does so through those Holy Ones who gladly assume the burden and the sins of the world. This assumption, and this sacrifice that is ultimate bliss, are the highest leit-motives of Neptune. This is the melody sung through the great Gongs and Bells which in their mystical shape tell secrets of Neptunian organization, the Bells that blessed from high belfries the cities and fields of intellectual Europe; the Bells also which were "Voices" to a Joan of Arc, and led her to that martyrdom in which a nation found birth.

This edition copyright © 2008 Michael R. Meyer
All Rights Reserved.

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