The Zodiac as a Dynamic Process - 8
The Zodiac which is used in our astrology has very little, if anything at all, to do with distant stars as entities in themselves. It is an ancient record of the cyclic series of transformations actually experienced by man throughout the year; a record written in symbolic language using the stars as a merely convenient, graphic way of building up symbolic images appealing to the imagination of a humanity childlike enough to be more impressed by pictures than by abstract and generalized processes of thought. The essential thing about the Zodiac is not the hieroglyphs drawn upon celestial maps; it is not the symbolical stories built up around Greek mythological themes — significant as these may be. It is the human experience of change. And for a humanity which once lived very close to the earth, the series of nature's "moods" throughout the year was the strongest representation of change; for the inner emotional and biological changes of man's nature did correspond very closely indeed to the outer changes in vegetation.
Humanity, however, has been evolving since the early days of Chaldea and Egypt. Such an evolution has meant basically one thing and one thing only: the translation, or transference, of man's ability to experience life significantly from the biological to the psycho-mental level. At first, mankind drew all its symbols and the structure of its meanings from biological experience. Man, experiencing life and change essentially as a bodily organism, sought to express his consciousness of purpose and meaning in terms of bodily experience. These terms were the only available common denominator upon which civilizations could be built. Even so-called "spiritual" teachings (for instance, the early forms of Yoga or Tantra in India) stressed sexual, and in general "vitalistic," symbols — and corresponding practices.
Progressively, however, leaders among men have sought to center their experience and the experience of their followers around a new structure of human integration: the individual ego. Thus the need has arisen for translating all ancient techniques of integration and their symbols into the new language of the ego — an intellectual and psychological language. It is because of this need that astrology came into relative disfavor and was replaced by Greek science, logic and psychology as a commanding power in Western civilization. The language of the ego features rationalistic connections and analysis; and in his eagerness to develop the new function of "rigorous thinking" Western man has tried in every way to repudiate or undervalue all organic experiences and all techniques which had enabled his ancestors to give cyclic meaning to their life and to deal with life-situations as wholes of experience. Transcendent idealism broke man's experience in two and created the fallacious opposition of soul and body.
Yet an "occult" tradition kept alive throughout the cycle of European civilization. It tried to re-interpret the symbolism of astrology, and of similar techniques of human integration, at the psychological level. Alchemy and Rosicrucianism were outstanding examples of such an attempt, which had to be veiled in secrecy because of the opposition of the Church. A bio-psychological kind of astrology developed in obscure ways, in which four functions of the human psyche answered to the four seasons of the year and the symbolism of the Gospel became mixed with that of "pagan" lore. And all the while the old traditional forms of astrology, as codified by Ptolemy, kept in use, but mostly as a means to satisfy the curiosity of individuals and the ambition of princes or kings.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1943 by David McKay Company
and Copyright © 1970 by Dane Rudhyar
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