Planetary and Social Cycles - 1
The study of cycles is very complex and elusive. Cyclic activities are found at all levels of existence, from the cosmic to the atomic level. The physicist and the ecologist concerned with fall-out and atomic waste products speak of the "half-cycle" of radioactive materials; the biologist studies what is now called the biological clocks establishing the rhythms of all life-species; the astrologer analyzes the patterns of unfoldment of planetary cycles, of which there are many and of different types; historians who are not content with collecting information seek to outline the cyclic rhythm of growth, maturation, and decay of human societies; and, should he be following a hint given by H. P. Blavatsky, the theosophically oriented student of occult processes concerning the activities of at least the trans-Himalayan Brotherhood pays attention to the century cycle.
All these cycles are of different lengths. Because they refer to very different kinds of processes, they unfold presumably according to different rhythmic patterns. We have already spoken of a seven-fold rhythm in the lives of human beings; and, according to The Secret Doctrine and other occult treatises, this sevenfold division of cycles is basic in the operations of what has been called "the life-wave." It defines the succession of Rounds, Races, sub-races, etc.
On the other hand, in many instances, particularly in the case of seasonal activity during the year-cycle, the process of cyclic activity is best understood in terms of a fourfold operation. Because the zodiac essentially is a projection of the year-pattern upon the sky, as seen by human beings living in relatively temperate zones of the Earth's surface, it has primarily a fourfold character. But a threefold division of cycles is also well known, which in combination with the fourfold pattern produces a rhythm of twelve beats, from which we draw the measure of the months of the year and the zodiacal signs.
The periods of revolution of the planets around the Sun — when considered in relation to that of the Earth's revolution, let us not forget — in several instances reveal such simple rhythms at work. Jupiter's revolution lasts close to twelve of our years; Saturn, thirty years; Uranus, eighty-four (7 x 12) years. The revolution of the Moon around the Earth lasts close to twenty-eight (4 x 7) days. If one takes Uranus' period as a unit, Neptune's cycle has twice, and Pluto's cycle three times its length. However, these figures are not strictly exact, and no cycle at the existential level seems ever to be measurable in terms of precisely an integral number of shorter cycles; a coefficient of uncertainty always exists wherever a relationship between two cosmic factors is at stake. Simple numbers and geometrical figures belong only to the realm of archetypes.
The second of the "Three Fundamental Propositions" on which, according to HPB, the Secret Doctrine of Occultism is based, refers to the universality of cycles(1). She writes:
The Secret Doctrine affirms: (2) The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane . . . the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see the absolutely fundamental law of the universe. (PROEM, p. 16-17)
This universal pattern of periodical flux and reflux refers to the already mentioned differentiation of an involutionary hemicycle — the descent of Spirit, level after level, into ever more crudely material conditions of concretization — and an evolutionary hemicycle representing an ascent of consciousness through a differentiated form or material structure (i.e. a "body" at the level of the Earth's biosphere). Such a twofold pattern is essentially dualistic and demonstrates the operation of two principles, which Chinese philosophy names Yang and Yin. These principles alternatively wax and wane within an at least relatively closed system of activity
(an organism), one of them waxing as the other wanes.
This type of dualistic pattern is typified by the cycle of the year. In my book The Pulse of Life (Shambala Publications, Berkeley, California), I have spoken of the two Yang and Yin principles as the "Day-Force" and the "Night-Force," because during six months of the year (from the winter solstice around December 21 to the summer solstice around June 21) the length of the day increases as that of the night decreases; and the reverse process operates during the six months from the summer to the winter solstices. Such a rhythm produces four characteristic moments dividing the course of the entire cyclic process into four sections. In the year cycle there are the four seasons respectively beginning at the four crucial moments of the year, the two solstices and the two equinoxes. The solstices are times of greatest disequilibrium between the day force and the night force; while at the equinoxes of spring and autumn these two forces are of equal strength. However, at the vernal equinox the day force is mounting in power and thus is the dynamic and dominant force, as far as all external manifestations of life are concerned; while at the fall equinox this day force has a subsiding negative character, and it is the night force which is the positively dynamic factor.
The equinoctial and solstitial moments of the year cycle establish the fourfold pattern which most typically characterizes the zodiac. A similar fourfold pattern referring essentially — though this is not usually understood — to the space surrounding the newborn is shown in the birth-chart with its four "Angles" produced by the horizon and the meridian.(2)
Though it is a space pattern, it can also be referred (and is most often related by astrologers) to the daily rotation of the Earth around its axis — a rotation which produces the alternation of days and nights, of the waking and the sleeping (and dreaming) states of consciousness. Night consciousness is "subjective"; day consciousness, "objective." There again we can speak of two polar principles, subjectivity and objectivity, which can also be referred to the coupling, darkness and light — or again, in the Chinese world-view, Yin and Yang.
cf. The Secret Doctrine
I:174. "Metaphysically speaking, it is of course an absurdity to talk of the 'development' of a Monad, or to say that it becomes 'Man.' But any attempt to preserve metaphysical. accuracy of language in the use of such a tongue as English would necessitate at least three extra volumes of this work and would entail an amount of verbal repetition which would be wearisome in the extreme. It stands to reason that a Monad
cannot either progress or develop, or even be affected by the changes it passes through . . ."
Yet HPB differentiates "three great classes" of Monads and the "stages" they pass through. Later on (I:177) she writes: "As the spiritual Monad is One, Universal, Boundless and Impartite, whose rays, nevertheless, form what we, to our ignorance, call the "Individual Monad" of men ... It would be very misleading to imagine a Monad as a separate Entity trailing its slow way in a distinct path through the lower Kingdoms, etc." (I:178) Yet it is what many books seem to describe. Return
For a discussion of the astrological Houses, read my book The Astrological Houses: The Spectrum of Individual Experience
(Doubleday, N.Y. 1972). Return
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1975 by Dane Rudhyar
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