Interpretating the Birth-Chart
at the Transpersonal Level - 6
Angles: Root-factors in
Personality and their Transformation
At whatever level one may study and apply it, astrology is based, not only on relationships, but on cycles of relationships. At one time for convenience sake I differentiated between cycles of position and cycles of relationship.(8
) The former, I said, refers to the cycle defined by the return of a planet (or of any regularly moving factor) to a fixed point in the sky — for instance, the lunar cycle of 27 and 1/3 days defined by the return of the Moon to a conjunction with a fixed star. But because of the "precession of the equinoxes", stars are not "fixed". Everything in the universe is moving — and moving with reference to everything else. The transpersonal approach, not only to astrology, but to every mode of interpreting the human experience of unceasing change, is essentially a dynamic approach.
Yet human beings also experience stability and permanence, and the most precious feeling of permanence for most people is the feeling of being I, myself — a feeling so precious that the sense of identity it produces has to be considered immortal and even in some metaphysics, absolutely indestructible. For many, if not most astrologers, this "I" — as a "spiritual entity" — is thought to be outside
of the birth-chart, separate from and (theoretically) able to rule it. Yet, as I have stated, the "I" of which a person is often so proud and wanting to immortalize is largely the product of biological and sociocultural conditions of life. It is the center of the mandala of personality, but that center could not actually exist without an existential framework that gives it not only power but, even more fundamentally, concreteness. Such a framework is represented in person-centered astrology by the four Angles of the birth-chart.
I have spoken of the Angles as the "roots of the individualized consciousness," as the four characteristic types of activity which participate in the building and development of a conscious and stable center within the whole human being. I have also characterized the Ascendant as the symbolic point of sunrise at which the "I" can most effectively discover its purpose and at which "illumination" may be received.
The meanings I have already given to the four Angles are essentially retained in a transpersonal interpretation, because as long as the consciousness can be radically influenced by biological and chemical needs or pressures, the power of the "roots" has effectively to sustain the process of transformation — until the possibility of existence at a transphysical level is definitely actualized, in which case astrology is no longer applicable. Astrology interprets physically based events and developments
, even if they are called psychological, mental, or occult.
Astrology is of value at the transpersonal level because it can reveal the meaning of the sequence of events and crises during the process
of transformation and thus assist the traveler on the Path to understand where he or she stands, and why certain problems and resistances have to be met. It is no longer of any value once the process is completed and the physical plane is left behind, unless perhaps the now-transphysical being centered in the "star" returns in some manner to the ordinary world of merely human beings to pursue in a subliminal and presumably hidden way the line that had been his or her dharma as an individual person.
Wherever and whenever this dharma remains a motivating force, the four Angles which were the "roots" that brought substantiality and earthly power to the "I" retain their original character. But as the transpersonal process unfolds, what was the "closed-center" mandala of personality should become an "open-center" mandala. The central area of the mandala had previously been filled by the "palace" of the I-centered consciousness and will. But what had once been the solid and majestic throne on which the power of individualized selfhood was glorified
as the absolute reality of human existence becomes an area of mysterious emptiness, while the larger space of the mandala is filled with the progeny of the "marriage" of soul and mind.
In such a mandala, the circumference ceases to have the character we attribute to Saturn, lord of personal boundaries and of precise and rationalistic formulations which bind while they define. At this level Saturn is to be seen in its mythological aspect as "ruler of the Golden Age", the age of truth and innocence during which every human being is purely and solely what he or she is meant to be — the true exemplar of his or her dharma. The Saturnian mind is a crystal lens through which the universal focuses itself into the personal. When the open-center mandala is flooded with the light and power of the greater Whole, the boundaries of this smaller whole become translucent and, I might say, transpowered
. Power passes through them and radiates beyond them, inspiring and blessing all the beings the illumined individual touches — and touching them ever so little transforms them.
This, however, can only gradually occur. It occurs when the four fundamental faculties displayed by the I-centered consciousness — sensation, feeling, thinking, intuition(9
) — and the fifth principle emanating from the I-center, the will, have become repolarized and transmuted. This is at least one aspect of the alchemical Great Work — another aspect being the transubstantiation of matter, once it is freed from the constraints and often the perversions brought to its basic substance and modes of operation by sociocultural and personal-individual factors.
On the transpersonal way, what is represented by the four angles of the birth-chart that has become an open-center mandala becomes subservient to the light that flows through the open core. This light is symbolically the light that circulates throughout the galaxy and is actually the spiritual essence of the planetary Being whose multi-faceted and multilevel manifestation in the Earth's biosphere we speak of as mankind. But this galactic light — which a Christian mystic might think of and adore as the ineffable love of Christ — has also a focalizing center giving it a particular rhythm, tone, and intensity. This center is a particular star. It is the star at the zenith of the birthplace at the time of the first inhalation of air, because this zenith point is the symbol of the link
between an individualized form of consciousness and the cosmic, all-embracing consciousness of the galactic Being.
In a sense, this link may be called the "Higher Self." It is rather SELF — the metacosmic principle of Unity, ONE — operating as and through a "star." It operates when this star succeeds in arousing the closed-center mandala of personality and its individualized and autistic I-center to the realization that its mandala-space constitutes but a single drop in the vast ocean of galactic space. This space, however, should be thought of as an "ocean" of light. Within it the illumined individual can become a gem of translucent and sparkling beauty — and ancient esoteric traditions in Buddhist lands have spoken of the Diamond Soul.
The precisely structured and polished substance of this Diamond Soul is the product of the indissoluble union of the soul and the mind. It can be symbolized astrologically by a chart in which the fourfold pattern created by the cross of horizon and meridian is essentially replaced by an hexagonal division
. This sixfold structure makes it possible for the light of the "star" to radiate through the darkness of the biological level. The number 6 symbolizes the union of spirit and matter. In astrology, each of the six powers that are differentiated aspects of the galactic light that pours through the open center of the chart-mandala is considered a bipolar unit — masculine and feminine.(10
) Thus the birth-chart has twelve houses, two successive houses constituting one unit. Seen at the lower levels, such a chart is only the biological reflection
of the spiritual Form, the Diamond Soul. This spiritual Form becomes filled with light and love when what was at first only a body, then a person, and later on an individual, reaches the transindividual state. The human "I" then becomes the agent of a star — the "Son" of a divine Being.
Until such a culmination and completion of the transpersonal process is actually reached, the framework of the houses based upon the fourfold division defined by the cross of horizon and meridian — each of the four sectors being subdivided into three areas of experience — retains its fundamental meaning as the pattern of operation for karma at the human stage of evolution, at least once the mind — the essential human factor — begins to develop concretely and, in the course of time, independently of biological compulsions and cultural assumptions. But on the transpersonal path, karma is being transmuted into dharma; therefore the character of the twelve basic areas of human experience represented by the natal houses is gradually raised to a higher level, or rather to the level of what I will call transobjectivity
Transobjectivity is not subjectivity. It refers to objective and concrete experiences which are no longer taken to be what they would appear to be to most people — i.e., as mere physical events — but are instead understood as symbols of archetypal phases of universal processes. In other words, transpersonal individuals live their lives-in-transformation not in terms of particular circumstances
given a strictly personal or perhaps aleatory interpretation, but in terms of universal principles
and archetypal, non-personal meanings and purposes. They see through
what others would call personal problems or interpersonal forces. Such a way of life is therefore quite radically different from what is advocated today in terms of purely "personal growth" and the instant satisfaction of every desire, sexual and otherwise — just as it differs from the way of life of people who pass their lives determined by the assumptions and traditions of their society and culture.
The practice of transpersonal astrology is extremely difficult, because one has to see through
what is considered the usual meaning of every factor being studied — and this includes both astrological factors in the client's birth-chart, transits and progressions, and
existential factors in the client's life. One has to sense or intuitively perceive what is possible through
what is. One has to sense the pull of the future in the hesitations that confuse the present state of consciousness. And if the astrologer is sure of the exact moment of the first breath of his or her client, if thus the exact zodiacal degree of the Ascendant of the birth-chart can be surely ascertained, the symbol of that degree(11
) can be of profound significance as a clue to the character of the client's dharma, and therefore to the spirit in which he or she is able to proceed along the transpersonal way. But the interpretation of symbols is not easy; many extremely intelligent individuals bring to the task a socioculturally-molded mind; they allow themselves to be impressed by the external implications of a pictorial scene instead of trying to discover the deeper workings of basic principles through
appearances. The transpersonal way is indeed always a way through what it is. It is the evocation of the possible, even through the impossible.(12
Cf. The Lunation Cycle
, Chapter 1. Return
Cf. Chapter 4, p. 81. Return
ln my book, An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformation and its 360 Symbolic Phases
(New York: Random House, 1973), Part III, pages 304-311, I relate the six basic powers of the Diamond Soul — or in a cosmic sense, of the Anima Mundi
(the World Soul) — to the six pairs (masculine and feminine) of zodiacal signs. One evidently can consider the twelve zodiacal signs as the Houses — or traditionally the "mansions" — of the Sun. The solar system as a whole becomes a cosmic mandala, for at that level the astrologer should be able to understand that the Sun is not merely a mass of matter in the plasma state, but more truly a "window" through which the power that whirls through galactic space constantly pours out upon the contents of the heliocosm. Occultists claim that we do not see the real Sun, but only what pours through it. Return
Such an approach, however, has (astrologically speaking) valid and workable meaning only in terms of a truly galactic kind of astrology: and we do not have as yet sufficient knowledge of the whole
Milky Way to attribute a realistic significance to its component stars or groups of stars.
For a study of the Sabian Symbols for each degree of the zodiac, I refer the reader to my book An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformations and its 360 Symbolic Phases
, (New York: Random House, 1973). Return
In the spirit of the latter portion of this chapter, I also refer the reader to my book An Astrological Triptych
, specifically Part II, "The Way Through" (Santa Fe: Aurora Press, 1978). Return