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Dane Rudhyar, 1929. Photo by Edward Weston. Image copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or circulation is strictly prohibited.
Dane Rudhyar
Hollywood, 1929.
Photograph by
Edward Weston.

If you want to know what astrology really stands for if you want an "experience" then read Dane Rudhyar.
Henry Miller

Part Five
New Opportunities: 1930-1936

Rudhyar passed the winter 1930 in New York, working on various projects and articles. Lectures were given at the Roerich Institute. In June Rudhyar married Malya Contento, who he had met through Will Levington Comfort. The booklet Paths To The Fire was published during September 1930, stating in original terms occult concepts relating to the cyclic evolution of mankind. During the winter 1931 Rudhyar wrote a mimeographed course Liberation Through Sound which incorporated in a different way some of the ideas already formulated in the book The Rediscovery of Music. It showed how a musical culture can be characterized by the basic intervals which it uses. Hindu, Chinese, Pythagorean European musics (in the plural) were treated in-depth, and related to states of consciousness applicable to the development of the individual. A series of lectures were given in Boston and for the music school of the Henry Street Settlement in New York.

Dane Rudhyar with Malya Contento, c. 1930s. Image copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or circulation is strictly prohibited.
Rudhyar and his first wife, Malya Contento

     After his marriage, Rudhyar met the philosopher, occultist, astrologer Marc Edmund Jones, whose astrology classes Malya attended. Marc Jones gave Rudhyar mimeographed courses on astrology which he was sending to members of his group, The Sabian Assembly. These were quite remarkable courses presenting astrology in far more sound and deeply philosophical light than had ever been available. Rudhyar had kept his interest in astrology and occasionally had interpreted charts for inquiring friends; but the MEJ courses showed him how much wider the scope of astrological thinking could be. Although Rudhyar had already written on "A Philosophy of Operative Wholeness," it wasn't until this period that he became aware of and deeply interested in Jan Smuts' Holism and Evolution, a remarkable work that carried further and in a new way the ideas of the French philosopher, Bergson, whom Rudhyar had studied in Paris. Carl Jung's depth-psychology also attracted his attention in 1932 and especially during the summer 1933, while Rudhyar stayed as a guest on the ranch of Mary Tudor Garland in New Mexico.
      All these influences began to act upon Rudhyar's mind and he saw the possibility of working out a practical as well as conceptual synthesis under the title of Harmonic Astrology. Astrology's place in this synthesis was seen as a means to demonstrate in a concrete and effective way the workings of cyclic and holistic patterns in the lives of individuals and nations as a personalized application of his philosophical and psychological concepts. It implied no fundamental break with the more esoteric and archetypal approach he had held under the influence of Blavatsky's momentous works, but rather an anchoring of the basic concepts of occult philosophy to the level of the everyday existence. This enabled him to get in much closer touch with the reactions and aspirations of people who, intuitively if not clearly, could respond to his ideas.
      An unexpected opportunity to reach a vast American public came in 1932 and especially 1933 when Paul Clancy, originator of American Astrology Magazine, became enthusiastic about Rudhyar's ideas and plans. Clancy more than anyone else, is responsible for the popularization of astrology, not only in the USA, but all over the world. His first magazine failed in 1932, but he start another again in 1933. Rudhyar's articles began to appear in Clancy's very small magazine. In 1934 a large distributor placed American Astrology on many newstands, and its phenomenal growth began at once. Paul Clancy requested more and more articles, and Rudhyar began to write two or three long astrological articles monthly for the magazine, providing him, for the first time, with a regular and dependable income.

The Sabian Symbol Connection
The Sabian Symbols are a set of 360 symbolic images, each symbol depicting a particular degree of the zodiac. For instance, AN UNSEALED LETTER is the symbolic image for the thirtieth degree of Leo. Although Rudhyar had no role in their clairvoyant discovery in 1925, in the minds of astrologers today Rudhyar, more than anyone else, is most closely linked with the Sabian Symbols. The close identification of the Symbols with Rudhyar has a twofold foundation. Firstly, he was responsible for first bringing them to the attention of the general public by publishing a condensed version of the Symbols in his first astrological book, The Astrology of Personality. Secondly, his 1973 reinterpretation of the Sabian Symbols, An Astrological Mandala has been the principal volume on the Symbols since its publication.
     Gavin Kent McClung, a personal friend and student of Marc Jones, states in his article The Prophetic Sabian Symbols, that "after Marc Edmund Jones and the clairvoyant Elsie Wheeler discovered the Sabian symbols, Jones placed in storage the cards on which they were recorded. He felt that making scientific use of the symbols in astrology might not be possible. At the time (the mid-1920s), Jones and others were involved in the scientific reorganization of astrology itself, and in various types of occult investigation.
      "When he came to realize that it might never again be possible to re-create the situation that had allowed the original discovery of the Sabian symbols, Jones decided to publish them. In 1931, the symbols became available to students in a mimeographed series of lessons called 'Symbolical Astrology', which included interpretive vignettes for each degree, together with elaborated versions of the images originally obtained through Elsie Wheeler's special gift.
      "At that time, Dane Rudhyar became interested in the symbols. He saw their potential, and in 1936 brought them to wider attention in the world of astrology by including a condensed version in his book The Astrology of Personality."

      Rudhyar soon started an enormous astrological production spanning decades. New astrological magazines appeared, and their editors asked Rudhyar for regular contributions. Soon Rudhyar wrote under pseudonyms, and over the next four decades he contributed literally thousands of articles on all kinds of topics, more or less related to astrology articles dealing with astrology, philosophy, world-affairs and celebrities in all fields. Alice Bailey, after reading Rudhyar's 1934 articles, urged him to collect and amplify them in a book which her Lucis Publishing Company agreed to publish. And so was born in 1936 the now famous Astrology of Personality, which Paul Clancy greeted as "the greatest forward step in astrology since the time of Ptolemy. It represents the birth of a new epoch."
      So began Rudhyar's astrological career which astounded and shocked many of his older friends at a time when "thinking people" generally regarded astrology as an archaic superstition. Forty years later, during the late-1960s, the situation greatly changed, and Rudhyar at long last came into his own. His musical work had faced strong opposition from composers who had become devotees of Stravinsky's Neo-Classicism, following the end of World War I and Stravinsky's forced exile from Russia. Rudhyar opposed this neoclassical and formalistic trend which enthroned the ideals and patterns of European classicism, of the supremacy of pope and king. He pointed out, at a time when an outcry against Fascism swept over the intelligentsia and young musicians, dancers and artists, that the music of the 17th and 18th centuries was actually the expression of a culture which was based on a Fascistic type of social order. He showed how the C major scale and the rule of the tonic were symbolic of the very things against which the devotee of Neo-classicisrn were emotionally fighting. This closed to him many doors, especially those leading to foundation grants. Thus the new opening along astrological lines came out at the right time; for the Great Depression and the Income Tax were making it extremely difficult to enlist the interest and patronage of wealthy music lovers.

Read Part Six

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