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from Humanistic to
Transpersonal Astrology
by Dane Rudhyar

First Published 1975

On Personal and Impersonal by Dane Rudhyar, 1929.

continued from Part One

Astrology is therefore, as I see it, an imperfect and incomplete attempt at creating what I called 40 years ago an algebra or life. It is a complex as human existence itself becomes an increasingly varied and subtle maze of interrelationships; just as algebra had to become increasingly complex in order to bring some sort of order into the puzzling relationships between intra-atomic "events." Nevertheless, astrology can also retain a certain simplicity which it now seems to be in the process of losing under the impact of proliferating new techniques if it is understood to deal not with the multitude of surface-relationships which constitute modern man's social life, but more essentially with basic directives to be applied by individuals to the actualization of their innate potential of being, feeling, thinking and acting to the fulfillment of their destiny within mankind and the earth.
      In any case, let me emphasize once more that an astrology which exclusively, or even mainly, uses the zodiac as its basic frame of reference deals essentially with collective factors., with human nature as a product of biospheric conditions. It is a geocentric type of astrology which considers the complex relationship between the universe and collective, generic man from the point of view of the earth's center. The astrologer is perfectly justified in saying that it uses geocentric data concerning the movements of the planets and the structures of the starry heavens because these data represent the way we actually are conscious of relate to the universe. But what is meant by this we?
      What is meant is mankind as a whole mankind spread around the entire surface of the globe, and therefore (symbolically at least) forming a collective multi-cellular entity whose center is earth's center. Mankind, yes but not "I"! Human nature as a basic generic factor but not the particular potential of individualized consciousness and behavior which, according to most modern psychological ideas, it is my task to actualize as fully as I can. And "actualize" does not mean in terms of some cultural pattern of success, however widely believed in by some people of various races and types, but in terms of this particular set of potentialities of existence that is "I" I, who was born, grow up and eventually will die, either having become the whole person and fulfilled the function that was implied in my birth at a certain time and place, or having wasted away at least a large portion of my birth-potential.
      One may think of the zodiac as mandala, but it is a mandala mapping the different stages in the evolution of humanity as-a-whole. And if we follow such a line of thought it would lead us to a consideration of the twelve great evolutionary steps represented by the Ages which divide the nearly 26,000 year long cycle of the precession of the equinoxes, and perhaps to other vast cycles affecting our planet and all that takes place within its electro-magnetic field. One can also say that the zodiac as a mandala provides for us a structural framework allowing us to locate and give general and collective meaning to the basic urges or bio-psychic drives inherent in human nature that is, inherent in any human being simply and solely because he is "human."
      But I, as an individual, am not merely a particular specimen of human nature. Indeed, I can only call myself an "individual" if I have somehow emerged from the sphere where this human nature compulsively and unconsciously operates, just as "feline nature" operates compulsively and unconsciously in every tiger or lion; at least if I have sufficiently emerged from human nature to have become conscious of its power and its character and become objective to it.
      What I, as an advocate of humanistic and especially person-centered astrology demand of my birth-chart is that it should tell me how I can best manage such an emergence, how I can truly become and individual able to actualize as fully as possible my birth-potential. It can tell me these things and guide me in my process of whole-making and of liberation from the compulsive dictates of bio-psyche nature only if this birth-chart has the "I" at its center. It has to be the mandala of my individual selfhood, and not a mandala to guide mankind-as-a-whole in its millennial evolution.

I have italicized many words and sentences because people so often fail to see what is essential in a text or a lecture. They "feel" that it sounds beautiful and true, but often do not bother really to think over and meditate upon what has been said. In many instances the very best students do no realize all the implications of a stand they claim to have taken. For various reasons, perhaps valid ones, they may not fully relate the means they use to the purpose of their practice. This may be for self-protection, or in order to be able to fulfill a role their social environment demands to see performed; but, valid as the reasons may be, if they are not consciously and clearly formulated in their own mind, the end result is more likely than not some kind of confusion.
      The worst enemy of the individual attempting to emerge from the mass-vibration of his culture and of his more or less unconscious urges and ego-patterns is confusion. Alas, today, an extraordinary amount of confusion prevails not only in astrology, but in psychology, medicine and nearly all intellectual pursuits, the arts included. This is so because we are living through a transitional period. We still cling emotionally and often fearfully, to the past and to ego-saving devices, while our creative mind and more individualized and idealistic aspirations are reaching "to the stars." But in order to reach to the stars as an individual, free from the collective past of the human race, one must first of all be centered. The individualized consciousness of a man has to be established and steady at the center of a vast mandala, his universe. It is truly "his" individual universe. It is a universe with which he can directly communicate and of which he can learn to decipher the great message of his birth: birth at a particular time at a definite point of the earth-surface his center. He should be able, sooner to later, to communicate without intermediaries from his center to the cosmic center most people all "God."
      If the preceding has been well understood, the importance of deciding between the use of a person-centered and that of a zodiacally circumscribed chart-form should be evident. Only a chart in which the center is occupied by the person living on the earth's surface, and the horizon and meridian are exactly perpendicular can be considered a mandala for the individual to use as a form or guidance in the process of self-wholemaking and of conscious emergence form the mass-vibrations of human nature. The typical European continental chart which is now finding a large number of devotee in the U.S. is not a mandala for the purpose of individual integration and self-actualization, because its structural pattern does not refer to the direct, visual relationship of the individual to his personal universe. It may, but it does not always, use a horizontal line to represent the Ascendant-Descendant axis. Only in relatively infrequent instances is the meridian line (linking the Mid Heaven and I.C.) perpendicular to the horizon. It is a distorted mandala which must equally deviate an intuitive perception of the whole person-centered picture.
      What such a zodiacally circumscribed chart-form does is to emphasize collective rather than individual factors. It gives them a permanent, unchangeable, absolutely fundamental value and power. It emphasizes the power of the environment and human nature over the person attempting to actualize to the full his birth-potential.
      It is, of course, this power which accounts for most events the individual person meets, as he makes such an unceasing effort to fulfill his destiny as a conscious and stable individual person. This fulfillment is the only goal that spiritually counts, provided it is sought and worked for in the service of humanity. But no one can truly "serve" according to the essential purpose and meaning of his life unless he has emerged as an individual from the collective matrix of human nature symbolized in astrology by the zodiac. Stressing the zodiac in the birth-chart means, therefore, stressing the power of that form which a human being must emerge and become free, if he is she is truly to become and individual.
      As I see it, individuation does not mean only to become a "whole person," according to certain style of life. It implies freedom from the Collective and from an unconscious, compulsive bondage to the values of one's particular culture values which a person takes for granted because they have been stamped during childhood upon his sensitive mind by the teachings and even more the example of his elders, and also by the ambiance of his society.

How can astrology help a person while in the process of integration and self-liberation, and in fulfilling his or her destiny? Not by the negative device of telling what is wrong with the human nature of the person, or by foretelling future events. Help here means guidance along the lines marked by the essential structure of the birth-chart and the whole solar system at the time of birth, and also as the process of individuation and destiny-fulfillment unfolds year by year. The guidance must be based on a holistic perception of the chart or charts being considered. It must be an attempt to make as clear as is possible, at the time and under the circumstances of the contact with the individual, what the chart indicates to be the best possibilities of action or reflexion and meditation.
      This can be done only if the astrologer has come to understand that the astrological mandala outlined by the sky at the place and time of birth reveals not what necessarily is, but rather what should be. It does not tell how the basic drives in the human nature of the individual will eventually operate, but instead how they should operate, if the individual destiny is to be fulfilled, whatever be the external means for this fulfillment.
      The means may be pleasant or unpleasant, easy or difficult, inducing happiness and well being or causes of pain, sorrow, and repeated crises. This is of no importance. No one will ever profit from knowing which of these alternatives is "most likely" to unfold. The person who deliberately seeks to actualize as completely as possible his birth-potential as a would-be individual should not dwell in his brain consciousness upon the nature and results to himself of the means, but only on whether he can marshal the strength, courage, wisdom or equanimity to make a meaningful and eventually constructive use of them. The "means" I am speaking of here are simply the things which every day will confront him; but at that time they confront him, and not before. Nothing is more futile, and often more dangerous, than predictions of external events or inner changes whose modes of operation can never be definitely ascertained on a strictly astrological basis. Most predictions can be to some extent self-fulfilling either directly or indirectly. The fear of a predicted crisis, subconscious as it may be, is a negative kind of self-fulfilling.
      What, then, is the function of the astrologer, if it is not to indicate what his client is to face, and not even to analyze his character with the use of statistical techniques based on collective values and mass averages?
      The astrologer's function is very similar to that of a spiritual guide. He may not have the ability to see clairvoyantly where the client stands in his development, and what are his weaknesses and strengths at the personal and superpersonal levels; but he has in front of him a "celestial message" or "revelation," the client's birth-chart and also his own birth-chart considered in relation to that of the client. What he theoretically should be able to see in this client's birth-chart is what the universe (or God) sought to achieve by the birth of a human being at that particular time and place. Essentially nothing else; but this alone should be the astrologer's concern indeed the concern of any individual throughout his life.
      What we call "events" are generally speaking means to produce, in the best possible conditions what the birth of a person was meant to achieve. The only modification one should make to such a statement results from the evident fact that, as any man is born in a family, community, and nation and within the earth's biosphere, he is unavoidably subjected to a multiplicity of pressures which tend to distort, sometimes tragically, the rhythm of destiny inherent in his birth situation. He may be caught in maelstroms of war, revolution or epidemics; or, put in more occult terms, his individual dharma may be swept away by and become meaningless in a destructive precipitation of collective karma upon his racial group or his nation. He may survive the crisis, but it may have permanently distorted the pattern of his individual destiny, because too much power was released for him to withstand as an individual.
      One can say, of course, that it was part of the person's karma to be placed in such devastating life-situations; but, as I see it, the birth-chart should not be interpreted in terms of "karmic retribution." The past is past; what the birth-sky reveals is how to build the future that is, how to actualize what is only potential at birth. The birth-chart is a set of instructions. I repeat that its essential meaning lies NOT in giving you a diagram of what your character and organic body-structure are, but in showing you how in your particular case, the ten basic energies of human nature should be used to the best advantage; that is, in order to enable you to consciously work with all of them at all times. In modern astrology, these basic energies are represented by the ten planets (Sun and Moon included). Where these planets are located indicates where (by zodiacal sign, and especially by Houses) they can be used by you to produce the most valuable results not necessarily valuable in terms of social success, health or money, but in terms of the only thing that should concern you, that is, the actualization of your birth-potential.
      I have ceaselessly repeated during the past 40 years that there are no "bad" planets, signs, Houses or aspects. Everything in the birth-chart is as it should be. But it is there to be used consciously and effectively. It is to best used so that it may serve the purpose of self-actualization and of liberation from the compulsions of human nature and collective patterns of society and culture. I have repeated that astrology has value only in so far as it helps man to tread "the Conscious Way." It can help not only to expand but to objectivize the consciousness of an individual and in a larger sense, when vast planetary cycles are considered, the consciousness of mankind in its dealings with the biosphere, the whole planet and eventually the solar system (what I call the "heliocosm").
      Events come into a man's life in order to make him conscious of what his life is about. As we are still so involved in the collective patterns of value and meaning, the events have very often indeed to hammer at the shell of our unconsciousness, or at the fortress of our ego. The study of our birth-chart, and of progressions and transits, should help us to realize the meaning of what happened as it happens and more often than not after it has happened, because our mind then is probably clearer, more objective. This is what humanely and spiritually matters. We can change the past by giving it the meaning of a prelude to our fulfillment instead of a heavy weight of frustration or guilt.

I do not doubt that after reading these pages many an astrologer or student of astrology will still feel uncertain as to what to do with a chart according to the principles I have stated. Especially in America, but also in Europe, the demand for clear-cut, easily applicable, easily proven techniques has become insistent. Yet a new technique without a new consciousness can prove not only futile, but at times devastating. The use of modern technology in the hands of military men of all nations men who consciousness is still operating in terms of tribal warfare and of the extermination or enslavement of souls if not bodies has proven how terrible the combination can be. Astrologers obviously do not handle such power-weapons, but the widespread use of certain quasi-mechanical or statistical techniques of analysis could, I believe, create an intellectualistic ambiance which would have definitely negative psychological results more so than the superficial yearning for having one's fortune told. A legalization of astrology, and its being officially taught in universities, could well produce very unpleasant results. The U.S. Navy has already used the lure of popular astrology in a T.V. program promoting enlistments.
      We are in an age when brain-washing of one type or another is given great scientific credit and credibility. The prediction business in terms of political polls can have very harmful results, because it creates an atmosphere in which tentative decisions are made without any sense of responsibility. Statistical statements are excellent means to avoid responsibility and to manipulate the opinion of the unwary.
      The modern analyst and scientist would undoubtedly answer that the methods "work"; and this seems, to them, to be all that matters; but the atomic bomb also works. Napalm and widespread defoliation and the old military policy of a "scorched earth" can also work, at least up to a point. So can hypnotism, brain-washing and torture when ruthlessly carried out. The basic issue in the life of an individual or collectivity should never be whether anything "works," or success is thereby achieved, but the quality of what is achieved. If the achievement increases the fear, the basic insecurity, the physical or mental pollution of the organism of a person, a social group or a nation, then it is a failure, not an achievement.
      What is tragic today is that even some of the most intelligent individuals have been induced by the glamour of technological achievements to interpret the perversion of human values, through an overwhelming emphasis on quantitative procedures, as a great success for mankind. Quantity does not necessarily detract from quality; but the concentration of millions of minds upon strict measurements, upon often specious experiments following methods which already at the outset determine the outcome of the experiment, upon statistics which selects only certain features and ignore the rest such a concentration can create a general intellectual atmosphere crystallizing into a collective mentality which, from the humanistic point of view, works against spiritual values.
      These things have been pointed out by many thinkers; but they have not been applied to astrology. As I see it, they have to be applied to astrology, because that field is experiencing today a situation somewhat paralleling the general social situation caused 150 years ago by the Industrial Revolution. To say this evidently is to take a very broad, long range view of the astrological field. But we are now at a turning point. Later on it might be too late to turn back; and turn back to what? To Ptolemy of the 17th century European astrologers?
      The only men who dealt with the spiritual aspect of astrology were not professional astrologers, but great minds like Paracelsus, Boehme and the most eminent Alchemists which preceded them. These men had to hide their approach and their knowledge under a heavy clock of symbolism in order to escape the condemnation of the Inquisition. So far it is not necessary for the truly humanistic astrologer to do so, but "condemnation" can take many subtler forms not only in a totalitarian society, but in a pseudo-democratic country where certain officially upheld and quasi-dogmatic attitudes and beliefs control quite effectively the collective mentality of the mass of the people.

A person-centered astrology, not only founded upon a humanistic approach in the basic, non-dogmatic and not anti-religious sense of the term, humanistic but also challenging the validity of popular beliefs and expectations, has evidently not a "mass appeal." This does not mean that it can appeal only or mostly to our present intellectual elite, because the collective mentality of such an elite is still permeated with materialistic, quantitative and analytical concepts, and with what I consider a false ideal of individualism, of progress and of personal success. Since I began to speak of "humanistic astrology" the many hundreds of unsolicited letters which I received asking to join the movement have come mainly from young people, the great majority of whom are struggling to overcome the official college-mentality of our culture. The problem these young people are facing is how to define convincingly, even to themselves, what they are searching for. Yet they are today our only hope for a "humanistic" future. And a social order founded upon qualitative values and upon that freedom which actually means allegiance and commitment of spiritual principles.
      The first principle is that the individual person should be able to stand, erect and open, at the center of the universe around him. Erect in the "tallness" of his or her own truth of being; open to the downflow of the "star" at the precise zenith of his own destiny what he was born on this earth-surface to perform for the sake of mankind and the whole earth.
      When I speak of a person-centered astrology I refer to a kind of astrology, and to the type of astrological tools, which can be used to assist the individual to stand, consciously and deliberately, at the center of a great mandala: his own particular universe. Ideally he should be able to stand without crutches and to read by himself the message of the sky his birth-sky and the yearly evolving sky overhead. Yet, sometimes, an intermediary may be needed, so to clarify issues and individual problems. A person-centered astrology has only this one essential purpose: to clarify the meaning and purpose of what daily existence and daily relationships bring to the individual who is committed to significant and purposeful living. Such a commitment implies a "structured" living.
      As I speak here of "structured living" I do not have in mind the type of structuring imposed from the outside by collective socio-cultural patterns though these of course can be accepted as directives, provided they have been objectively studied, understood and consciously assimilated. I mean a kind of structuring which is the concrete manifestation of an individual's essential relationship to his universe. To work out this relationship consciously and in utter intellectual and emotional honesty beyond all tricks of the ego this is what fulfilling one's destiny actually means.

In all of my books I have developed various elements of the themes I have attempted here to state as clearly as I could. In closing I want to say most emphatically that I do NOT consider my approach to astrology, and to human existence in general, the only valid one. It certainly may not be valid or even at all possible for a larger number of human beings indeed, for the great majority of human beings, whether living in the Western world or in the "Third World" tying to catch up with the mentality of the European-American peoples.
      Now that astrology is heavily popularized by the media, and accepted or tolerated by many college-trained minds, the average person (especially the middle-aged person), intrigued by what he or she reads about Sun-signs and astrological claims, quite obviously expects from the astrologer what he has read to be the purpose of this "ancient science"; i.e. predictions; or if not predictions, at least some kind of character analysis similar to what psychological tests are supposed to provided. I am perfectly aware of this fact, and therefore of the pressures under which a "professional" astrologer has to work. I am equally well aware of what is required for such a work. I know that any procedure which under these conditions will make a quick "judgment" easier and more "effective" is most valuable during the usually brief astrological consultation; and when I say "effective" I am using this word in terms of the client's typical response: "How could you know that! Astrology does work, etc." The situation is very much the same as the one which in the relationship between a very busy medical specialist and his patients who health problems most be solved in twenty minutes, as he looks over the results of a few standardized tests.
      From the point of view which I have stated, both the astrological and the medical situation make very little sense. They can produce good results in many instances; but the question is again, what do "good results" mean? A doctor may relieve symptoms by giving drugs to his patients. Is the patient as a whole person healed? Has the astrologer, with the use of his analytic tools which enabled him to discover more or less how his clients "ticks," really helped the latter to enter upon the "conscious Way" of self-actualization and emergence as an individual?
      It is only fair to add here that every little step ahead which opens new vista and shatters some cultural prejudice or dogmatic attitude can be of value; the minds of people have to be met where they are. But this does not mean that a general mental atmosphere has to be produced which brings glamour to the process of merely satisfying rather low yearnings for easy and quick solutions to personal problems. What the German philosopher Count Keyserling many years ago called "the culture of making things too easy" does not provide a realistic foundation for self-actualization and for a significant emergence from the mass-vibration of a society glorifying the ego and the trappings of a spurious kind of individualism.
      When people seem to complain that they have to read twice my books in order to really understand what I wrote, I always feel like asking if they would expect to be a concert pianist by at most playing twice a passage, or to solve problems in calculus after reading once a textbook on mathematics. Living a life of self-actualization and transcendent development is the most arduous process there is in our materialistic and competitive society dominated by profit values and ideals of personal self-aggrandizement at others expense.
      It is evident that many astrologers in any epoch of history mainly think of astrology in terms of conformism if not to the goals of financial profit, at least to popular expectations and the wishes of their client's ego. I believe instead in an astrology of transformation just as I believe in a philosophy, a music, a psychology which essentially aims at the transformation of human beings. Entertainment has it place; superficial curiosity may lead to an eventual desire for new points of view; everything has its place and can be valid, if it stays in that place and does not claim to be something else, using crude or subtle forms of glamour to hide the difference.

During the 40 years or so that I have been definitely and intently working with astrology I have stated as clearly as I could where I stood. During that period, I have altered somewhat my approach to the formulation of my ideas; but I believe that my basic stand has been consistent. Where the emphasis has changed this was due to an increased ability to see through a number of rather deceptive claims, and to define more sharply what I felt I could best offer to the new generations. The terms I am using are not idea. Both "humanistic" and "person-centered" fail in many ways to convey all that I wish to state. The humanistic label can cover a broad spectrum of activities and beliefs; and, as I have explained in many places, it was selected in 1969 to indicate a stand which somewhat paralleled that of the humanistic psychologist. It essentially indicated an alternative to the superficial game of fortune-telling, and to the serious business of statistical research and quantitative devices for chart-interpretation.
      The term "person-centered" is used to show the basic difference between my approach and the collectivistic geocentrism of a zodiac-based astrology. My approach is oriented to the possibility of developing in every person a steady eagerness for self-transformation and independence from the socio-cultural patterns of the past. On the belief that there is latent in every man and woman the power to be greater than they are, more creative, freer, yet more deeply committed to a process of world-transformation, I stand, I hope to awaken the sleeping god in every person. By sounding the true "name" of an individual one may arouse to life the divine in him. Every person is a "celestial," if only he gains the strength and has the courage to stand by the truth of his being and to fulfill his place and function on this earth by following the celestial "set of instructions" revealed in the sky.

Read Part Three

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1972 and 1975 by Dane Rudhyar
All Rights Reserved.

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