The obvious meaning of the term business requires no explanation. The word is on everybody's tongue; there are few Americans who are not concerned about some kind of business, whether they pass their time clipping coupons from stock certificates or go through the daily routine of factory, shop or office work. To be in business or to profit from business makes of business "everybody's business."
Thus, colloquially used, the word actually comes closer to its original meaning; the word business signifies simply the condition of being busy — busy meaning, according to the original Anglo-Saxon term, active. In French, the corresponding word is affaire, meaning that which is to be done.
In order to be active and to do something, we have to enter into relationship with some kind of material upon which we work or with some person with whom we act. In our complex society, practically any type of activity requires coming in contact with other persons. It calls for some kind of buying or exchange, some form of association, however temporary.
The important point here is that when we buy something or when we associate our efforts and skill with those of another individual, we follow precedents. Our activity, the way we approach and deal with the other person or group of persons follows a more or less predetermined pattern. Essentially, there are two kinds of precedents: there are instincts, which not only the body must obey, but which are also deep compulsions within the emotional life; there are social, religious and cultural customs and traditions which normally direct our activities into generally accepted collective forms of behavior.
An individual may try to rebel against following these instinctual-emotional and social-cultural patterns of activity (also of thinking and feeling); but even in our democratic society which recognizes the theoretical right of the individual to be self-determined and free in his expression, the individual's freedom is considerably limited by common customs, moral traditions, laws and regulations. We cannot run naked in the street; we cannot go into a store and simply take what we like or even what we need to save us from starvation; we cannot kiss spontaneously a stranger who attracts us or slap a police officer who objects to our jaywalking or to the speed at which we drive.
In ancient tribal societies or in modern totalitarian states like Fascist Spain or Communist Russia, the freedom of the individual to act as he pleases is even more limited; it is, indeed, practically nonexistent. Everyone has to conform in every way to collective patterns according to rigidly enforced laws. One is even expected to conform in one's thoughts and feelings.
We must realize, however, that the need for adhering to various types of group patterns of behavior is found wherever, there is life. It is present, at first, as sheer biological necessity. What we call instincts are manifestations of this necessity. We must conform to instinctual patterns of behavior in order to perpetuate and to reproduce ourselves as living organisms, as human bodies. When tribal societies are formed and achieve an increasing degree of social stability and group consciousness, the purely unconscious instincts of the animal are extended from the biological to the psychic and social fields of collective behavior. Taboos, rituals and traditional precedents compel every member of the tribe to conform rigidly, basically, for the sake of collective biological, social and cultural survival.
Even today, we are trained from the cradle on to conform to a large number of definite patterns of behavior and of thought — by our parents, teachers, friends. Nonconforming brings punishment or, later on, social isolation and ostracism. The question, therefore, is not, in actual practice, whether or not we have to conform, but how much we are compelled to conform. The compulsion can be an internal psychological one (we can be compelled by our unconscious emotional reactions, fears and complexes) or it can be external and enforced by what we call law.
In other words, there are some areas of living (or fields of individual experience) in which conforming and following group precedents are necessary for personal or group survival. There are other areas in which conforming may or should not be required; still others where the compulsion to conform is a threat to progress and sanity and kills all spontaneity and creativity — leading, thus, sooner or later, to atrophy, crystallization, paralysis and death.
The fight for individual freedom and for allowing creative self-expression is, therefore, a struggle to reduce the extension of the areas of living in which we must conform or else suffer worse deprivation. It is a struggle between the will to transform what is today (in order to create a richer future) and the pressure to conform to what has proved valuable or necessary for survival in the past. This struggle goes on incessantly in the world. It goes on in the cosmos as well as in human societies and within the individual personality or the group. It gives rise to basic and often most tragic conflicts.
The Eighth House
The problems these generate are difficult to solve; yet if not solved, they tend to lead to insanity and bio-psychological disintegration. A whole nation can become insane and on the verge of disintegration; witness, for instance, Nazi Germany. These problems must, thus, be understood; first of all, they must be resolutely faced. Astrologically speaking, they are to be faced in the eighth house of the natal chart.
This rather mysterious house (or field of individual experience) had quite a bad reputation in traditional astrology, and it is still defined in most textbooks as the "house of death" — but also of "regeneration." What is meant by these terms, death and regeneration, is in most cases not made clear or else the explanation is quite unconvincing. Particularly the usual explanation fails to show logically why this house of death should follow the seventh house, which is described as the field of intimate partnership, conjugal love and, in general, of opportunity.
The deeper interpretation of the eighth house rests with the fact that as individuals meet, trade, associate, love or hate, they at once have to face the necessity to conform to predetermined patterns of group behavior; if they refuse to conform, they must face the consequences of this refusal — which can mean death, but also, in some cases, regeneration.
We do not need, however, to discuss the matter in such extreme personal terms. The conflict between the need to conform to social patterns or precedents, and the eagerness to make any new association or opportunity produce an unprecedented harvest is the cause of the major problems everyone has to face in business and in the business of living which underlies all industrial or commercial activities.
It is clear that this conflict between the requirements of conforming to laws and customs, and the desire for unprecedented profits (psychological as well as financial) reaches an extreme of intensity at times when entirely new opportunities for personal and group expansion and desires arise. They arrive when there is a business boom, when the possibility to make trading and human association extraordinarily profitable occurs.
This has been the case in an unparalleled manner since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution some 150 years ago. Not only have the concerted activity of individuals and the pooling of individual resources and individual abilities or imaginative ideas produced enormously profitable results (thanks to machines and technological procedures), but the number of human beings able to work productively together has vastly increased during the same period. The effect has been a fantastic increase of what we call today business. Men have driven themselves to a never before experienced fever of activity; they have done more things (affaires) than ever, and they had to do them in association. Any kind of association produced immense results; limiting this associative activity to precedents could only limit the profits — at least of those who engineered and led the group activity.
Thus, precedents were thrown overboard in America (and to a much lesser extent in Europe); American productivity boomed. It was the age of rugged individualism and even more rugged and ruthless associations (trusts, cartels, etc.). The result is modern commercialism.
The fruits expected by the partners as the outcome of their association can truly be of many kinds. What establishes the worth of a relationship is not only whether it conforms to precedents or it makes new paths for the activity in common of the associates, but it is also the nature of the results expected of this relationship.
We have two factors to consider. The purpose of the relationship is the primary factor; then comes the way in which the associates work toward the realization of this purpose — the technique of realization. This technique may be conventional and according to precedents or it may be original and defying precedents; it may conform to a social or business norm of behavior or it may transform the ways of custom and demonstrate a new principle of conduct.
If what is expected of the association by the partners is a customary type of production and profits, the tendency is to follow technical precedents; if any modification is introduced, it is superficial only and it does not defy tradition. If, however, the association is formed by individuals for new and unusual purposes, it is more likely that conformity to old ways of doing things will not be considered valid, except perhaps as a temporary expedient or a camouflage.
In an astrological birth-chart, the character and quality of the approach of the individual toward all basic life associations (whether of the conjugal or the business or cultural types) is shown at the descendant and in the natal seventh house. The fulfillment of the definite purpose of the life as a whole is to be referred to the zenith (or midheaven) and tenth house — though it is implied in the individuality of the person (ascendant and first house) as a "God-given" potentiality. It is in the eighth house, however, that the solution of the problems attendant to the practical working out of the life purpose through human associations is to be looked for.
There the business of living is seen in everyday operation; there the practical, concrete issues it raises have to be met; there ideals of relationship, love and conjugal happiness or the plans for business profits have to be made into workable realities. This is not a place for dreams or for beautiful words. The eighth house is a field of experience where substantial realities are to be built by constant efforts, prolonged and repeated activity, whether according to precedent or along radically new or partly new lines.
In the second house (the opposite of the eighth house), the incarnating self, the "breath of spirit," finds itself active within a body and hemmed in by human nature. The self has to deal concretely and practically with the materials of the body and the vital energies of generic human nature. It has to use these materials or become completely involved in them and "materialized."
In the eighth house, it is the social consciousness of the individual and his approach to steady associations, to love and partnership, which find themselves confronted with the rules and the customs of his society. He may approach people with great ideals of love and sharing in his heart, but he has actually to meet these people within the framework of social-cultural order.
What will this framework do to his ideals? Will he have to conform to regulations, hypocritical phrases and the many rituals of society; to compromise utterly in his contacts with others, in his marriage life? Will he, on the contrary, defy convention with rebellious ardor? If he does, will he see his ideals shattered and his sanity questioned or will he prove himself victorious, a reformer, a creative pioneer and the father of new precedents? These are questions which the natal eighth house raises in every chart.
To suggest solutions for the many problems related to this eighth house is not an easy matter. Yet the intuitive astrologer should be able to show to his or her client some kind of basic line of orientation along which the client should best be able to deal with the difficulties he will tend to meet in practicing the business of living. If he deals successfully with these difficulties, he will experience a regeneration. He was born as an individualized "breath" or life impulse; but now he is reborn as a social person able to participate effectively and productively in the organic pattern of activity of his group, his nation, his civilization.
The term, social, as used here, may be applied to any kind of group. The group may be an occult brotherhood, a church, a transcendent spiritual community. Thus, the pattern of activity in which the social person participates may be a ritual, a magical ceremony of whatever may be imagined as a transcendent spiritual work on so-called higher planes. In all cases, this participation means the rebirth of the individual within the group; this rebirth requires at first conforming to the group pattern, just as birth necessitates the acceptance by the incarnating spirit of the limitations of a material body and of the functional rhythms of the life which circulates through this body.
However, conforming may mean a complete and passive self-loss of the individual into the material body and its vital functions (in the case of birth) or into society and its customs (in the case of social rebirth); or else conforming may be a deliberate procedure undertaken as a means to become accepted by the group so that the power of the group may be used sooner or later for a creative and transforming purpose — the individual's purpose. These constitute the two possibilities open to every man and woman in the eighth-house field of experience, the negative and the positive approach. No astrologer can tell which approach you will take.