In archaic times, before there were big cities and self-perpetuating religious organizations
— and even later in remote agricultural or pastoral regions — human beings felt themselves to be part of nature. They identified their lives closely with the rhythm of the seasons. They looked to the sky for reassurance that this was a universe of order, and that above the confusing events and passions of their everyday world there must be the majestic, all-inclusive and meaningful Harmony of Cosmic Intelligences who have given form and significance to all existence here on this often cruel but beautiful earth.
The astrology of these early times was most likely very simple. Men observed the rising, culminating and setting of all
celestial points and discs of light — the northwest, southwest oscillations of the sunsets, its different altitude through the years marking the seasons. Probably later on, they sought to measure the angular relationships of the planets as they moved from day to day using the phases of the moon as an archetype of these planetary cycles of relationship, and as such, measuring to be exact, requires a frame of reference, they presumably used groups of stars along the path outlined by the periodical movements of sun and planets as milestones along that path. As in tribal societies, division by clans was general and each clan used a totem
(animals usually) as its symbolic, or perhaps psychic characterization it was fairly natural to project these totems upon the sky, thus deifying them, making them cosmic. This practice still was in use in Greece, as we can see from Greek mythology, even though in Greece the meaning of transferring heroes to the sky as constellations was more sophisticated.
It was with the Greeks, and their successors during the late Medieval and Classical period in Europe, that the relationship between man and nature — man and the universe — came to take on an entirely different character. The cause for the change was basically the development of a new type of mentality, at least among the intellectual, cultural elite. This change began to occur or to gain strength during the sixth century BC — a great turning point in human evolution (the time of Gautama the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Pythagoras, Zoroaster and other outstanding philosophers).
The development of the rational, analytical mind — of a search for objective knowledge — and social individualism (democracy) occurred while at least some of the leading thinkers realized that the earth was a sphere revolving around the sun. After the collapse of the Greco-Roman civilization, and the rise of dogmatic Christianity, we had to wait for Copernicus and the early beginnings of the Renaissance to see the new mentality overcoming officially the archaic one.
According to this approach man transcends nature and all its energies. Man as a rational, God-endowed, free-choosing being is essentially exterior to nature — which means also to whatever effects stellar and planetary influences may have upon him. "The wise man rules
his stars," by will-power, reasoning, objective knowledge of what to expect. Man was, it was believed, appointed by the Biblical God as master of everything on earth. He is to expand, to multiply, to aim at a life of plenty, of ever greater productivity. Classical European astrology is based on such an attitude.
It is the result of this western approach to existence and way of living, feeling and thinking which we are ineluctably facing today, ecologically, socially, politically, racially, psychologically and above all technologically.
A most chaotic, critical, suicidal situation.
There are nevertheless many people who are truly convinced that more of what we have now
— technocracy, genetic control, depersonalization, a police state insuring at least for most people physical abundance as a wondrous goal — will bring to us a millennium. Alas, people are confused, do not think, are afraid to lose what they have if there is any basic change.
A few persons — in increasing number — who somehow have freed themselves from emotional and intellectual bondage to the cultural patterns and psychological images of our Western traditions, are developing a new attitude to life. They are doing so slowly, confusedly, painfully, and under increasing threats or pressures from the establishment in all its pervasive aspects.
These individuals and groups are seeking to realize in various ways — some very naive and with unwholesome implications — a deep feeling of attunement to the cosmic rhythms: a dialogue
with the universe considered as an organic, unified whole
The idea of a "dialogue" between a man and God is a basic feature of the Hebraic-Christian tradition. It was recently stressed by the Jewish philosopher-mystic Martin Buber — particularly in his book I and Thou
. If we believe in such a personalized God, we can accept the possibility of an inner dialogue in which this God appears
to speak human words. The
problem is to understand how such a communication can be established at a verbal conscious level; a difficult problem!
We can think also of an exteriorized kind of dialogue, in which God's words are parts of a celestial language
. Astrology constitutes this language: like any language it uses symbols
and it is collective, objective and impersonal — that is, it can be used or understood by any man on this earth — yet astrological "words" are coded so that they deal with personal values. The coding refers to the exact moment of birth (first breath) and the four angles of the birth-chart which gives us a relatively precise clue as to how the impersonal planetary symbols can be personally interpreted.
A birth-chart so considered is a word (or logos) expressing the Divine Idea (or need and purpose), which resulted in your birth. This Divine Idea is the potential You. In another but identical sense your birth-chart is the whole universe focused at a particular moment and place in order to fill the need of this moment and place. The fulfillment of this need
is the one essential purpose of "You," as a particular individual person. It is what you are potentially
; your one task, in God's eye — or in terms of your organic relationship the universe-as-a-whole — is to actualize this potentiality; as much of it as you possibly can in terms of your social environment.
The difficulty in so doing arises from the fact that, while this environment needs
what "You" are potentially as a Divine Idea, those around you (parents, friends, teachers and any "Establishment" dominating this environment) very likely are not conscious of what this environment (and mankind in general) need
; or they refuse to accept God's solution (i.e., the real "You") because this would be disturbing. So, they force upon this "You" a traditional, personal and family name, a set of cultural and social imperatives, an image of what they expect you to be. All of which represents the past — your Karma
Any child meets in his parents and his society his Karma, good or bad. He is born to solve the need of his past; which is what the environment confronts him with. If this past is worthwhile, harmonious, inherently fruitful then he can fulfill it, as the flower and fruit fulfills the plant. But in a time of social and cultural breakdown, in periods of crisis and transition, the child is potentially the future solution of an intense need for catharsis and rebirth. Will he be actually
Most people hate to meet in their children the solution of their Karma and the failure of their society — so a great deal is done to actually make it as difficult as possible for the child to live according to his celestial potentialities — his celestial name. All of which is one of the main reasons for the spread of astrology today.
In our period of social as well as psychological crisis, when what is at stake is the value of Western civilization — and I include of course all Soviet countries in Western civilization — astrology can fulfill a significant function for individuals, but only
if it faces the future and does not look back to the past, especially the European past.
I believe that it makes little sense to insist that there is only one astrology which started in Egypt or Chaldea three to four thousand years ago. Neither is there only one psychology, one medicine — and indeed one science. Every great moment of history has its own
need — psychological, medical, astrological, scientific, political — a human
, an evolutionary need. The need of Chaldea's peasants, kings or priests were very different from our needs — so were the needs of Medieval Europeans. What do we need most today that astrology can meet? This is the question — not
that astrology as a thing in itself should be made "respectable" and taught in universities. We should ask first what astrology is worth today to individuals in a state of generalized crisis
I do not believe that knowledge in itself as an abstraction
, is necessarily a great and valuable thing. "Knowledge is power," you may retort. But power for what?
To poison the earth; to destroy man, individually and collectively; to create through genetic manipulations monsters or automatons?
Can astrology help human beings today in meeting constructively their crises? Today
— in our time of revolutionary crisis — yes
. It can be a means to change the traditional Western, Hebraic-Greek-Christian attitude, by leading individuals to see themselves in a new relationship
to the univers
e. To my mind, everything else is secondary.
By dealing with astrology in a humanistic person-centered spirit, we may help individuals to become aware of their own
relationship to the universe — to learn their celestial Name and give up their social name and at least some of their prejudices. Astrology can be a bridge leading to a philosophy of life valid today in terms of our crucial needs.
It is such a philosophy that I tried to formulate in my just published book, The Planetarization of Consciousness
. It is a "holistic" philosophy which deals with existential wholes — be they atoms, cells, persons, solar systems or galaxies. It is a philosophy of Form or Gestalt
as well as a philosophy based on direct experiences — experiences, not considered as ends-in-themselves, but through which
values and meanings can be understood and communicated to others. It is a philosophy of total acceptance
Total acceptance of what you really are: what you are today, and more deeply still what you were at birth as a complex set potentialities which spelt your Name. This Name is
The general and traditional approach to astrology
is that your birth-chart tells you what "you" have to deal with in this life; you, as an entity exterior to it. You should control the energies of the planets; the chart shows you the earth material you
have to control, cultivate, dominate, transform. This approach to your chart is dualistic: you and it.
If the chart is "good" you are lucky; if it is full of "bad aspects," well, you have to learn to overcome them. They are outside of you. "Rule" your stars!
My approach is essentially different. You are
your birth-chart. The chart is not something you have to change; you are not a god external to, judging your earth-nature. The chart is what you are meant to achieve
, and it tells you how to achieve it — that is, by fulfilling the potentialities it outlines. It is a set of instructions — what the universe wants you to be; your function in it, and how to best go about achieving it.
Theoretically you should fulfill this function spontaneously, naturally — because that is the real "You" in relation to the universe. But you are not born out of nothing. The past surrounds your emergence as a potential individual person. And this past (in the shape of family, society, culture, religion, morality, tradition) tries to make you develop and grow according to their will
Of course the mind of the child needs such a family, social, cultural womb to grow, just as your body needed the mother womb to develop its organs to maturity — and these wombs (physical or social) can be beautiful. They can also, as today in most cases, be chaotic places — especially the social-cultural womb.
The point is however that they do not represent the celestial You. They do not, in many cases, help the development of the special individual potentialities which constitute this You. If you are to become what this You is meant to be
— i.e. to actualize these potentialities — you have to emerge from this collective social past, to become truly an individual.
You can do so, unconsciously, driven by rebellion, ambition, passion, by pain, tragedy, by learning to discover what you are by experiencing what you are not. But there is also a conscious way of discovering your celestial Name — that is, what the universe wants you to be; and to understand the need of the world to which you are meant to be an answer.
This conscious way can take many forms. Meditation
is one of these. Study
and the development of a mind able to pierce through the shams and illusions of your social environment is another way. Devotion to a person
who, being himself free and aware of his celestial identity, may show you a way to self-realization and self-actualization, is also a way. And astrology
can be still another way if
it is approached in the manner I mentioned, and which I have tried to suggest in my many writings.
Such an approach is necessarily very different from the traditional one, because it has an altogether different purpose, and therefore it must
give to many astrological factors a different meaning, or rather a different value
The most obvious change, of course, refers to the idea that some planets, aspects, zodiacal signs or houses are "good" — others "bad." If a chart is to be judged good or bad, or better than another, it is evident that telling a person that "he is his birth-chart" can have very negative psychological effects. Just as if a mother keeps telling a girl: "You are a bad girl," this too is bound to be psychologically destructive. It creates a negative image in the child's mind.
This is why I have kept repeating since 1933 that an esthetical approach to the birth chart must replace an ethical one. The chart must be looked at as a whole, every part of which fills a necessary, valid purpose — even if this may mean a destructive or rather catabolic purpose. Any organic whole must contain functions which break-down foodstuff into chemicals that can be assimilated and eliminate waste-materials. Death is part of the life-process. The idea that life is good, and death bad is a spiritual absurdity.
Obviously some events are more agreeable and easily met than others. Some functions in the body cause pleasure and comfort; others bring at least a feeling of tension, if not pain. It is more agreeable to enjoy meeting a loved one than to fight in a war — but it may be a war for liberation, necessary for the fulfillment of your celestial potentiality, or more simply a cathartic, mind-renewing crisis which, if not faced squarely
, would lead to stagnation or a dreary sense of dull resignation.
Acceptance — conscious and total — is not what people have so often called "Christian resignation." But such a total acceptance, peaceful if not serene and joyous, can never come to any individual haunted by the concept of "good" and "bad," fortunate or unfortunate. I have used, long ago, the term "the will to destiny," because here again if we separate destiny and individuality — if we oppose these two, the one to the other, or if oppose "free will" and "determinism" – we can never know what total and conscious acceptance means.
is the particular way in which the basic components of human nature are organized in your total person — a unique way. Destiny
is the natural process according which the potentialities inherent in that unique arrangement, will be actualized — unless some more powerful pressures, psychological social, thwart or deviate this process.
You can help the natural development of this process, not
by making frantic or tense efforts to "will" it, but by removing obstacles from its path. You are
your celestial Name, but you usually do not know that there is such a Name, such a "You." You know only the ego, the at least partially false or inauthentic you which is the result of the pressures of your family and society, and of your organic, instinctive reactions against such pressures. If you do not react at all, then you are nothing but an ego, moulded by your tradition, your environment. You may be happy and lead an affluent suburban existence — but quite useless to the universe and to God, except perhaps in so far as you produce children who will rebel against you.
Astrology, as I see it, is one basic approach to the conscious and total acceptance of what
you are; and it may lead to the discovery of who
you are. But it is rather clear to me that the factors we use in our astrological charts are not always the most significant ones. There is of course the problem of the sidereal versus the tropical zodiac, and even deeper still of whether we are not giving to zodiacal positions and to the zodiac as a whole a far too important role or meaning. There is also the even more complex problem of the Houses — not only what method of calculation should be used, but the fact that we probably do not use the concept of House in the way that would best fit the new kind of astrology of which I am speaking.
We should be realistic, rather than bound to old traditions which were probably very meaningful under ancient social and personal conditions, but which today do not, I believe, fit the real need of this time.
Again, what is this need? Well, the most revealing indication of this need is the rather sudden fascination of a vast number of young people with astrology. I do not believe such a situation has ever
occurred in all human history. It therefore is tremendously significant, as are all unique phenomena.
If you think, as many people do, alas, that these young people are rather crazy and their views are perverted by fanatics, drug-addicts or communists intent on destroying our wonderful society — which actually does a very good job of destroying itself! — then what of the middle-age and old people who after all started this renewal of interest in astrology?
One may attribute this renewal and the always spreading interest of the new generation to one cause or another; but the only point which really matters is: How can astrology meet this evidently new, because unprecedented, situation? How can we meet fully, significantly, creatively the new need which this situation reveals?
As my time is up I can only say here that it must inevitably be by a basic revaluation of the meaning and the purpose of astrology;
for it should be obvious that what the youth of today wants of astrology — at least the youth that is struggling to find a new way of life — is not what the Chaldean priest-astrologer, the bored aristocrat of the Roman Empire, or the Renaissance prince sought in astrology. In our depersonalized technological society in which soon every person will be tagged, numbered, classified and watched by the authorities, astrology gives us the realization that, beside being a social unit statistically evaluated, we are essentially an integral part of the universe.
We have a celestial Name, and not merely a Social Security number and thumb-prints or voice-prints in police files. We want to understand this celestial Name, live fully and meaningfully all
the implications of this Name, accept consciously and totally its cyclic rhythms of growth.
But to do so we have to be able to look at our birth-charts, progressions and transits in a way free from the good-bad ethical notions of a Western society in disintegration. We have to see this chart as a mandala
, a sacred symbol of our potential divinity — to meditate on it — to welcome all its aspects and periodical changes as new openings, as an opportunity for unceasing rebirth.
This is the conscious way of individual personal growth. This is what astrology can be if it is to fill the need, the crucial need of future-oriented men, women and adolescents. This is the challenge. May we have the creative vision and mind-freedom to meet it! And let us use astrology not
for astrology's sake but for man's sake, that individuals may become more free and more eager to build a new civilization in tune with the universe — a new earth for a new heaven.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
All rights Reserved.
| Art Gallery
| Rudhyar Archival Project
Web design and all data, text and graphics appearing on this site are protected by US and International Copyright and are not to be reproduced, distributed, circulated, offered for sale, or given away, in any form, by any means, electronic or conventional.
for full copyright statement and conditions of use.
Web design copyright © 2000-2004 by Michael R. Meyer.
All Rights Reserved.