THE THIRTEENTH STEP -
The Establishment of Larger Frames of Reference
No individual exists in a vacuum. He is related to other individuals, to groups of various kinds, to vast collectivities of men organized into societies, nations, cultural and religious denominations. He is one at root with mankind. He is an atom of consciousness within the vast ocean of intelligence, of which the multitudinous host of stars are the light-radiating spray, as this ocean breaks upon the shores of our space-time world. How could the destiny of the individual be separated from the vast web of universal destinies? How could the fleeting moment of his first salute to the universe his birth-cry remain isolated from the cycles of ever-flowing, ever-changing universal time? As every force and every mass interacts with every other force and every other mass, so the individuality of a man interacts with all other individual units of consciousness. There can be no separation, even where there is temporary isolation. We may look at the colored shapes of the tapestry of Being and admire the little curling loops of threads which make these shapes; but narrow indeed is our understanding if we fail to realize that these threads are long units weaving in and out, held together by the warp and woof of the universe.
The philosophically minded astrologer has always recognized these truths, and many have thought in various ways to discover methods by means of which they might be brought to a concrete focus of expression in astrological practice. Today some degree of attention is given to the comparison of the charts of people who belong to the same family or who are seeking to unite their lives for private or public purposes. "Astrological heredity" has been studied in an attempt to show the significant way in which the birth-charts of children, parents and more remote ancestors fall into correlated patterns, and the field such inquiries open is vast and as yet barely explored. It may be possible in this manner to isolate special emphases which, astrologically speaking, may serve to define the typical characteristics of a family especially such family as retains a striking historical individuality through several generations of significant personalities. A study of great aristocratic, religious and royal ancestral lines of families in which outstanding cultural traits are retained for a time (as, for instance, the Bach family) would undoubtedly reveal most significant material. One wonders if Chinese astrologers have done such a work in relation to the family of Confucius, the direct line descendant of whom is living today after more than seventy generations.
Another and related field of study deals with the correlations between the birth-charts of men who have become partners, or who have succeeded one another in some great public enterprise. There have been statistical analyses of the charts of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and of the American Presidents; and a few significant points have emerged. More familiar to the astrological student and of more practical value is, however, the comparison between the birth-charts of prospective marriage partners, or even business partners. Every astrologer has been asked by friends and clients to find out if such and such person would make a "good partner," and the question is legitimately answerable provided a number of factors are taken into consideration. A horary chart and if possible a study of the celestial pattern on the day of the first meeting (or the first significant and personalized contact) are also of great value when such questions have to be answered; and they should be asked and answered in the spirit of the discussion concerning horary astrology in the preceding chapter.
The factors to be taken into consideration whenever the matter of a prospective marriage or partnership is brought forth can be stated in the form of a question to the enquirer: What do you consider to be the purpose of your relationship? It is at times a difficult question to answer, especially where love and marriage are concerned. But the answer of itself is often very revealing. It is always a necessary factor in the astrological judgment, if it is an honest answer.
If a conventional and smooth type of happiness is the purpose of the enquirer, a certain kind of planetary interrelationship between the two charts could be taken as a sign that the purpose is within reach, provided the partners' natal charts in themselves, and also progressions, transits and horary indications concur. But there may be cases in which the enquirer is seeking for a union of a more stirring and creative or regenerative character. He or she may say so deliberately; or it may become evident to the astrologer, in one way or another, that underneath a more conventional statement or aim, such a purpose is the deeper reality of the situation. Then a different type of astrological relationship should be looked for between the two charts, one which does not bar conflict, crisis and opposition between complementary viewpoints. Smoothness of personal relationship may mean a spiritual falling asleep, and if the individual seeks to become ever more fully awake as a creative soul and mind, should he or she not be warned of the possible results of a relationship in which elements unfavorable to his or her purpose, though favorable to the more banal type of union, are in evidence?
This point is made here only in order to show and to stress that astrology, if it is to be used significantly and spiritually, must always include the factor of individual purpose and as well of individual function within a larger whole. A birth-chart is essentially a statement of purpose God's purpose, one might say, in producing the conditions of birth and a soul to meet them. It is thus also a statement of what the individual's aim in life should be, if true to the creative Idea in the universal Mind. In the case of the horary chart, the chart is a statement of the solution symbolically expressed by the universal Intelligence in answer to the vital need of an individual and in terms of his essential purpose.
When the astrologer seeks to advise his client in the matter of a partnership or association on the basis of a comparison between birth-charts, he should thus be extremely careful to consider first of all what the purpose of the client's individual destiny is therefore, the client's birth-chart. He should ascertain also how far the client understands this basic purpose, and what his conscious aim is in the particular instance under consideration. To give astrological advice does not mean merely to look at one or more charts and to state blandly and without concern what one sees, rightly or wrongly. It means to help the client to understand how he can best reach his true purpose of destiny. And the way to such a purpose is not always the way of conventional happiness!
Thus far I have considered mainly the relationship of individuals to individuals in partnership or limited groups. But we should never forget that human beings are not born as individuals; that the status of individual selfhood is reached by human beings only after a very long process of historical evolution. First, came the tribal group a biologically rooted organism of unconscious human beings kept integrated by the compulsive power of tabus and of the law of a deified Great Ancestor. Gradually tribes evolved into kingdoms ruled by kings and priests, expanding through conquest and becoming increasingly heterogeneous because of blood-mixture. As a result of social and racial, economic and religious conflicts, the types of society and of states found in the pre-Christian era developed about the time our Western kind of astrology reached its traditional form in Chaldea and later in Greece and Alexandria.
Archaic astrology did not deal with individuals, simply because no human being at the time was actually considered to be an individual, except the king or high-priest and this only in a symbolical, rather impersonal (or super-personal) way. Astrology then had a strictly collective purpose. It sought to establish an ordered foundation for all social and agricultural activity on the basis of the order displayed by the heavens. Astrology was entirely "mundane"; that is, it dealt with affairs of state, weather and agriculture, with the outcome of wars and the destinies of empires. As the king and the kingdom were entirely identified with each other, charts erected for the accession of the king to the throne, were considered as valid expressions of the nature and destiny of the kingdom during that particular reign. The emphasis, however, was not placed on the king as an individual, but upon the "office." The king (or high-priest or any holder of office) was not considered as an individual man, but as the incorporation of a collective tribal or state function. The function was important, not the person fulfilling it. If marriage between two persons was decided upon by a study of their birth-charts, the matter was, for many centuries, one to be solved primarily with regard to the biological and social-economic productivity of the prospective couple. Marriage, too, was regarded exclusively as a social function; not as a partnership between individuals.
All astrology dealt therefore with collective "offices" and "functions," or with the anticipation of natural events (inundations, storms, droughts, etc.) Birth-charts were not erected as indicators of the destiny and character of individuals, considered strictly as isolated individual entities, until the Greco-Latin period especially in Rome and Alexandria. From then on, astrology was divided into two basically distinct fields: natal and mundane, the former dealing with "individual souls"; the latter, with "collective destiny," state offices and natural phenomena. Because the last ten or more centuries have been characterized (especially in the Western world) by an extreme of confusion concerning the relationship between collective and individual factors, these two branches of astrology have not been clearly enough differentiated. "Natal" and "mundane" techniques have been mixed, and the new factors in human society have not been given their due recognition in adequate astrological procedures.
The last decades, however, have witnessed interesting and probably very significant attempts to regenerate mundane astrology and to discover techniques which would fit the entirely new conditions in which groups and nations act and interact in the modern world. Among the most widely known I shall mention:
1. The erection of corporate "birth-charts." Since Roman Law recognized the fact that business organizations or similar types of groups are entitled to the legal status of "personality," the field has been open for considering nations as vast collective persons with individualized characters, such as culture, language, general temperament, destiny and collective purpose. As collective persons, nations could be given "birth-charts," national planetary rulers and all that belongs to the field of natal astrology in the same way in which a corporation is given a birth-chart erected for the time of incorporation. However, such a corporate national birth-chart can be said to exist only when some kind of Covenant, or specific collective Act, can be referred to: election, signing of document, proclamation, or the like.
In such a case, whoever is born as part of the nation thus "incorporated" participates in the collective national purpose, whether or not he is aware of the fact. This participation becomes an integral part of his own individual purpose, and must be recognized as such. This was not true in ancient societies in which a state was the creation of a king, expanded by the king's marriage, etc. There was a "state" but no "nation" and no corporate national birth-chart, only the chart of a "reign," or at best of an "ancestral tradition" dominating all the subjects of the kingdom with the power of an instinctual root-compulsion; and the difference between root-compulsion and participation in a corporate purpose is very great indeed!
2. Geographical areas and zodiacal rulership. In Ptolemaic astrology "zodiacal rulerships" were attributed to rather vaguely defined regions of the then known world each broad region being correlated to a sign of the zodiac. The zones of rulership radiated in a somewhat peculiar manner from the Mediterranean sea, center of the civilization of the period. In the course of centuries, these zones became the dwelling places of numerous nations; so that rather dissimilar nations still retained the same zodiacal sign as ruler (for instance, France and Italy, under Leo; England, Denmark and Germany under Aries, etc.) The validity of these rulerships has been challenged and modified by astrologers; new rulerships have been attributed to cities, provinces, etc. This has led to much confusion.
Several decades ago Albert Ross Parsons (and later Sepharial) sought to establish a direct correlation between bands of earth longitude and zodiacal signs or constellations, on the principle that the earth globe could be considered as a microcosm of the macrocosm, the celestial sphere. Granted that such a correspondence between the celestial sphere and our globe is possible, two problems must be solved: A. Does the correspondence refer to constellations, or to signs of the zodiac? B. From where do we have to start that is, what longitude on earth corresponds to Aries 0Ί?
According to Parsons each geographical continent and region corresponds to, and has affinity for, one particular constellation of fixed stars always the same. This type of correspondence might be said to be the same as that according to which Aries "rules" the head, Taurus the neck, Gemini the shoulders and lungs, etc. Man is seen as the microcosm and the universe as the macrocosm and the correspondence between the two has proven its worth beyond doubt in natal astrology. Symbolical diagrams have been made in which a man bent backward, with feet touching head, is encircled by the zodiac, Aries at the head, Pisces at the feet.
In such a symbolical correlation, however, what should be made to correspond to the human body, I believe, is not the zodiac of constellations, but the zodiac of signs. In other words, it is the first month after the vernal equinox i.e. the beginning of spring which corresponds to the head, not a group of fixed stars; and the feet are connected with the last of the twelve divisions of the solar year rather than with the constellation Pisces. This same type of equivalence could be used, substituting the earth's globe for the human body. However, the difficulty then is of deciding which longitudinal section of the earth's surface corresponds to the sign Aries and by implication to the human head. It has been assumed, in England especially, that the Greenwich meridian corresponds to Aries 0Ί'; but such an assumption can certainly be challenged. The problem refers to what we might call "occult geography" and the field is too big, its implications too far reaching, to be discussed here.
The type of correspondence which Albert Ross Parsons was interested in was, however, one in which the entire celestial map of the constellations could be focused upon the entire globe of the earth and particular stars would be connected with particular geographical locations. But, from this point of view, it is fairly evident that one should take into consideration the fact that the zodiacal longitudes of stars change constantly, due to the cyclic movement called "precession of the equinoxes." If the celestial sphere is projected upon our globe, the equator and the ecliptic are two circles which intersect each other; and their points of intersection (Aries and Libra 0Ί') shift constantly westward, accomplishing a complete circuit in about 25,868 years. This shift can be related to the often mentioned "westward march of empires." It can be taken to mean that a projection of the star-pattern (constellations) upon our globe should likewise shift. Thus the constellation which could be said to "rule" England in the year 1000 A.D. is now ruling the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. It will rule once more what remains of the British Isles around 27,000 A.D.
It is upon such a type of reasoning that Edward Johndro established about twenty years ago his system of geographical astrology, and sought to help individuals to discover the location to which their own birth-charts attuned them most favorable. Another astrologer, Paul Councel, worked along similar lines, but on a different basis, giving to the phenomenon of precession of the equinoxes an interpretation which differs fundamentally from the one accepted by modern astronomers. The practical problem is, in either case, how to determine the geographical longitude on which the spring equinox or vernal Sun is to be projected at any specified time. Johndro placed Aries 0Ί' today at about 30Ί longitude West. Councel says that the vernal equinox was in 1932 at longitude 35Ί50' West (cf. "Cosmic Causation in Geophysics," 1945). Both calculations seem to me not to conform exactly enough with the actual historical events recording the westward sweep of the main focus, or foci, of human civilization during the last millennia unless of course one gives to our European civilization a somewhat peculiar meaning. Here again everything depends upon one's interpretation; and provided one does not seek too obviously to make history fit a preconceived pattern, the historical validity and significance of the parallelism is presumably the only criterion we have in determining which longitudinal belt corresponds to which zodiacal sign or constellation.
The matter cannot be discussed further here. All that I wanted to show was that, if such a theory of shifting zodiacal rulership for regions of earth longitude is correct, a man born anywhere on the globe would also find himself related to a constellation and a star by virtue of his birthplace. But as these geo-celestial relationships are shifting according to the 25,868 year cycles of civilization, what this actually means is that a man's life can be seen as occupying a definite place (thus function) in this vast precessional cycle. This is his largest "frame of reference" and his exact place in it can be determined by the longitude of his birthplace at the time of his birth. If this is understood, it can also be admitted that a man can modify his place and function in this "frame of reference" by changing his residence which opens a very interesting field of investigation, provided one understands what is really at stake.
Moreover the place and function of an individual in the large "frame of reference" of the 25,868 year cycle can be measured, not only by the place of his birth, but also by the generation to which he belongs. If one could be certain of the time when the precessional cycle began (a matter unfortunately not yet settled either! ), each generation could be said to belong to a particular fraction (zodiacal degree) of this precessional cycle. For instance, if the vernal equinox is today (and approximately since 1916) located within the second degree of Pisces (which means that the Aquarian Age would begin next century) then every person born, let us say between 1844 and 1916 would "belong" to the third degree of Pisces. This degree would set his collective, over-all "human" significance in terms of the development of civilization and of mankind in general in so far as time-values are concerned. Then if he were born at a place "ruled" by, say, the first degree of the constellation Taurus. this fact would establish the nature of his participation in the larger cycle, as far as space-values are concerned.
To the average person, concerned almost exclusively with his ego and his family, such a type of larger frame of reference can have but little meaning. He may be caught in a crises civilization, such as our World-Wars; but he is swept by collective forces, of which he has no consciousness and over which he has no control. It is only the individual who is a public leader, in one field or another, who can be said to deal consciously with such larger issues affecting nations and civilizations.
The astrological relationship of such a man with vast collective issues is two-fold: on the one hand, his birth-chart can be compared with the corporate chart of the group or nation in which he actively participates and this shows the relationship between his individual life-purpose and the basic purpose of his collectivity. On the other hand, both the time and the place of his birth establish his two-fold subservience to the type of all-human, planetary (or "divine") forces which are affecting the general processes of civilization in so far as his generation and his country of birth (and, secondarily, of residence) are concerned. Unfortunately, the exact character of this subservience can only be determined astrologically when astrologers succeed in firmly establishing the exact starting points, in time and space, of this 25,868 year cycle of precession of the equinoxes.
Mundane astrology, properly speaking, does not deal with individuals as such, but only with the relationships they have with large-scale collective issues. Too much attention, I believe, is placed upon the charts of Presidents or Prime Ministers in seeking to forecast trends in the nations whose destinies they seem to control for awhile. What matters, rather, is the relationship between the leaders and their nation's charts or the charts of their assumption of office. Mundane astrology, at the level of conscious action by conscious individuals, is a matter of inter-relationship between charts thus, its extreme complexity today. And at the level of unconscious subservience to the rhythm of the march of civilization, mundane astrology refers to cycles which constitute still uncertain frames of reference thus, its lack of accuracy.
Mundane astrologers, in ancient times, laid great stress upon the cycle of conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn (at 20-year intervals) and upon eclipse cycles. Today Jupiter and Saturn are but secondary indicators of social changes in a world in which tribal and national boundaries no longer contain the tides of human interchanges; and their cycles are being superseded, in all world-wide issues, by those of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, which subdivide approximate 500 and 1000 year cycles the basic measures. Yet the death in office of American Presidents elected under a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction reminds us of the validity of such a cycle. Thanks to the work of Charles E. Jayne, eclipse cycles have also been given a new meaning in terms of a study of the geographical paths traced on our globe by the shadow of total eclipse. Larger cycles are thus coming to light.
The fact that now human beings are beginning to leave, for increasingly long periods of time, the surface of our globe and even the gravitational field of the earth is posing new theoretical problems to the astrologer. We may have to devise in the future a new kind of "solar system astrology"; and I have discussed at various times (cf. World Astrology 1944 -1945) what I consider to be a more sound approach to "heliocentric" astrology. The advocates of a "sidereal zodiac of constellations" which they claim should supersede the "tropical zodiac of signs" may also be paving the way for a significant study of the relationship of the earth to the galaxy as a whole. Our sun is but a minor star in this vast array of celestial bodies, the galaxy, which most likely is the most characteristic unit of cosmic organization; and the cycle established by the revolution of this sun around the core of the galaxy about 400 millions of years should some day be considered. Even today the discoveries of Professor Piccardi suggest that the ever-changing angle formed by the plane of the earth's equator and the basic plane of the lens-shaped galaxy is related to slight but significant changes in the operations of living organisms; this through the intermediary of the water contained in the body, for water seems to be most sensitive to an as-yet unknown galactic force.
Vast perspectives are indeed opening up to the human mind. Will our official science, fascinated by technological problems and refusing to accept any concept which does not fit in with the method of a rigorous and strictly intellectual approach to thinking, prove to be able always to satisfy man's restless search for universal meaning? I, for one, doubt it. Other approaches will have to be devised, incorporating the strictly scientific methods, but also accepting the guidance of and the data provided by other than merely intellectual faculties.
The place astrology will have in the new global civilization which we see emerging before our eyes can hardly be predicted. If it is to have a significant place, it should abandon the present-day popular aspect which commercial interests appealing to the insecurity and restlessness of modern men and women have unfortunately (but inevitably) featured. In any case we should never forget that astrology did represent the primordial search of human beings for measurable order and basic meaning in their collective and individual existence; and the search is never ended.
This search is quite distinct from the urge to control our environment by technological means in order to provide maximum convenience and physical comfort to the largest possible number of human beings. The future of astrology does not rest, I believe, with its becoming some sort of statistically validated science; it depends rather on its capacity to balance and complement scientific, technological thinking by upholding a holistic search for ever more universalistic patterns of order revealing an ever deeper and inclusive realization of the meaning and rhythm of existence in an ever-widening world of human experience.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1969 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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