Sooner or later, every individual seeks to expand the field of his activity and, by gaining a wider experience, to find a broader consciousness of life and selfhood. Every individual, consciously or unconsciously, acutely or dimly, feels this urge to be more than he is. We may call this urge ambition; but to call it so does not solve the problem to which it gives rise. Because ambition too often manifests under negative or destructive ways, the use of this term tends to confuse the issue.
We seek expansion; there are a number of ways in which as a social person once can legitimately, safely and sanely expand. In astrology, these ways refer to the various fields of experience represented by the ninth house of the birth-chart. However, if one is to expand safely and sanely and to become one's "greater self," the person has to orient himself correctly as he enters these fields. He has to approach the matter of expansion with a constructive mental and emotional attitude. If he does not, he is defeated even before he starts; his experience of self-increase ultimately turns bitter and toxic, leading to some kind of illness or insanity, mild or acute as the case may be. What then is the right, constructive attitude?
Before we can define in practical terms what this attitude demands of the individual, we need to understand clearly the foundations of personal development from which the urge to self-expansion derives its strength and dynamism and the general direction in which it normally operates in our present-day society. The first point to consider is that human expansion takes place essentially at two levels: the organic and the social.
From the time of birth, the human organism increases in size. This increase is merely the prolongation of the prenatal development, and it is due to the assimilation of external foodstuffs. The growth is instinctive and compulsive biological and natural. Nevertheless, this process of growth can be interfered with through improper and insufficient nourishment, as the result of psychological and social pressures or obstructions of many kinds experienced by the child in his environment. The problems which arise in these early fields of human experience should be referred astrologically to the second, third and fourth houses of the natal chart.
Through these houses in their initial aspect, the physical organism of man is built. The individualizing spirit which incarnated at the time of the first breath gradually learns to adjust to, and more or less to control, the basic materials provided by heredity and environment. In the process, he develops individualized traits and faculties of his own which he tries spontaneously (when allowed to do so) to exteriorize and display. In the process, he becomes conscious of what he is, of his desires and of his failures in attempting to satisfy these desires (fourth and fifth natal houses); then he seeks to improve his techniques, to reform his ways and to gain a new orientation toward other people and the way of working with other people (sixth house).
The individual's truly conscious and responsible life begins only as he gains a vivid and real sense of relationship to others whom he meets as an individual, that is, of his own free will. As he meets them fundamentally as equals, he begins to feel that, together with them, he will be able to work out some new phase of activity and gain new experience which he could not reach alone or in the protected field of his home environment.
The human being becomes, thus, a social entity. He participates more or less consciously in the complex whirl of activity which constitutes society; he experiences, profitably or not, the result of this participation (seventh and eighth-house fields of experience). He is in business — the business of living in society, as a social unit in the midst of a multitude of other social units.
It is at this point that the real question of conscious and deliberate expansion poses itself and a variety of specific problems gradually arises. The business of living in society can be met in a positive or in a negative manner. We can so thoroughly and unquestioningly conform to the traditional patterns of our society that we become a mere cog in the social machine. We act according to set and rigid precedents. This may bring to us vast profits. We may become bigger social units, successful creatures of the way of life of our society; but we remain creatures, not creators, however big and powerful we may be according to ordinary social standards.
We may also infuse into the necessary element of conformism, required in the business of living, the transforming of imagination, emotion and will of the true individual self. We may learn to use the patterns of the group to which we belong as a means to impress upon society our vision and the purpose for which we were born as individualized spirits. Then we act as creators, even though we may be temporarily ignored, repudiated and unsuccessful according to the usual standards of our generation. We may not become bigger social units; yet we may become greater individuals — provided we do not break down or collapse in the attempt, a constant danger!
In either case, we need to orient ourselves consciously toward the many activities of society. We need to know where the various relationships which we have made fit into the larger pattern of the present-day world; how we and our associates can ride upon the expanding tide of society or how we can use adverse social winds to reach our goal. In numberless ways, we should learn how we can use intelligently the tremendous energies generated by human cooperation and production, whether in business or in the realm of culture.
The natal third house refers to those experiences which one can have with single persons in one's immediate environment or with the small tools needed for everyday personal living. There the individual learns to discover the extent of his abilities, his power, his persuasive strength by trying them against this or that relative or neighbor; he may learn how to become a passive creature of his environment and to avoid hurts by pleasing this or that person.
Meaning of the Ninth House
The ninth house, on the other hand — the polar opposite of the third — deals with those facts and lessons of experience which derive from our effort to understand and to come to terms with the ceaselessly expanding vistas of human association and human commerce. There we learn to assimilate the treasure of human knowledge which is passed from generation to generation and to which every generation adds the harvest of its many experiences. There we seek to relate ourselves, as a thinking (thus a social-cultural) person, to thought itself. We study the process of thinking, the generalizations and abstractions of the human mind, the laws conceived by that mind as tools for understanding and for ever more successful group activity.
Thus, the ninth house is said to refer to philosophy, to the abstract mind, to law. It is also related to long journeys, foreign affairs, diplomacy; finally, it is the field of religion and mystical or prophetic experiences. These varied meanings are all expressions of the basic and ultimate purpose of the house, which is assimilation of all that is unfamiliar or distant and the inclusion of all that is at first alien, disturbing and seemingly unusable. To include always more, to assimilate that which constantly challenges you with its differences, if not its antagonism: these are the requisites for true conscious expansion. They alone can make man greater and true to his destiny.
The above mentioned characteristic meanings of the ninth house should, however, be studied more closely, for much is hidden in words such as law, metaphysics, religion, prophecy, etc. — much that every thinking individual, eager to sustain and implement his personal growth, should truly understand rather than merely take for granted.
First, the concept of law. There seem to be several kinds of laws; we speak of the "laws of Nature," of "moral law" and of the many laws which the government of a country decrees or votes in order to define precisely what people should or should not do in certain situations. However, we should realize that all laws represent a generalization and codification of the common experience of human beings able to share the results of their experience over more or less long periods of time.
Jurists and lawyers speak of the "common law" in contradistinction to the more officially stated and recorded type of law proclaimed by king or parliaments. But whenever a law is not founded upon a common experience of value, it is a command, an edict or a temporary experimental regulation: it is not actually a "law," and it cannot be enforced very long — unless new circumstances prove its utility.
The true process of lawmaking can be seen clearly in science. We say usually that the scientist discovers a law of Nature. But by saying this, we beg the question, for no one would know whether Nature acts according to what we call laws unless it was the common and consistent experience of men that some well-defined causes are followed by certain effects.
Actually, therefore, a scientific law is simply a generalized statement saying: it has been the common experience of trained observers that, under well-defined conditions, specific results follow certain actions or phenomena. The scientist generalizes upon the recorded experience of trained observers in order to enable other men to expand in safety the field of their activities, to protect themselves collectively against either familiar or as yet unknown dangers, to live a more abundant life, etc.
As to the concept of "moral law," this is a projection of an ideal of human conduct which the spiritual elite of mankind has demonstrated to be the effective way to reach expansion in the direction of the next evolutionary step which humanity is slowly preparing itself to take.
Buddha, Pythagoras, Jesus, St. Francis constitute examples of what the average individual may become millions of years hence. The Sermon on the Mount establishes a pattern of interpersonal behavior which, if rightly practiced, must produce a type of spiritual expansion that is safe and sane and leads to a more inclusive and more abundant life, of which "love" (agape, in Greek) is the motive power.
Religion, too, is a way of dealing with the urge for human expansion. In all its forms, it seeks to help individuals to meet and assimilate a broad category of unfamiliar experiences which otherwise might be frightening and dangerous. This category of experiences refers to any and all contacts with a realm of forces and with psychological processes which transcend the normal experience of the average man and, thus, confuse and bewilder him because he is neither able to dismiss them nor to understand or assimilate them.
It does not matter how a particular religious philosophy or theology interprets supernatural or extra-sensorial experiences. The point is here that it gives us a convincing interpretation, thanks to which the experiences are given a cause that fits within the ordered scheme of the universe which we are ready to accept. We needs this sense of order just as much as — or more than bread.
If there were no religion, people would go mad when faced by these irrational or transcendent experiences. Men do go increasingly insane when, as today, the traditional interpretations of religion seem to lose their validity. Yet these experiences, whether seemingly external (like the apparitions of saints or demons) or more obviously internal (like fears of the unknown, vague feelings of self-loss in the universe, ascetic urges, sudden changes of consciousness, etc.) are integral parts of one's effort to become more.
Neuroses and psychoses of many types (though not all types, evidently) are the result of such an effort, when it is frustrated, premature or occurring under too adverse conditions. The effort may be neither deliberate nor even consciously felt as such; yet it is operative simply because man is man and not mere animal, because we can — and, therefore, must strive (even if only in the slightest degree) to become more.
This striving is just as natural to humanity as is the evolutionary trend which makes family groupings expand into tribes, tribes into nations, nations into empires or federations and eventually into a world community. This expansion of social groups occurs, by means of travel, of trade, of intermarriage and of diplomatic or educational exchanges. These various means are all to be referred in astrology to the ninth house; they indicate that a process of absorption and assimilation of foreign and alien elements is taking place. It is not basically different from the process of assimilation of transcendent, irrational, superpersonal experiences which goes under the name of religion. The ultimate purpose and function of any true and universal religion is the development of a "spiritual communion of souls," whether in this or another world.
The deeper function of astrology is also to lead individuals to a sense of participation in a universal order of which the visible sky and the motions of planets and stars are significant manifestations. If your birth-chart is the symbol and signature of your true personality, then because this chart is the actual projection of the whole sky, you are yourself the whole universe in miniature — a small cosmos in which the vast universe (macrocosm) can be seen focused on Earth.
But so is your neighbor, your friend — and your worst enemy! You are all one and the same vast universe, but seen at different times and from different places on the surface of the Earth. All planets operate in you, as well as in the criminal or the saint. The same human stuff is there in all men; only the relative proportion, the arrangement of elements, the balance of the various functions of human nature differ. If you truly realize this, your approach to your enemy and to the heathen and the gangster must change. The change should mean an expansion of consciousness, for it will mean growth in your ability to include the alien and the as yet unknown. It will mean greater understanding, greater love — and one more step taken toward your own latent and as yet unrevealed divinity.
Two Ways of Expansion
Expansion may be based on cooperation, peaceful inclusiveness and love; it may come as a result of killing and "eating up" what you find around you. In the first case, we progressively becomes more than what we are; in the second, the greedy and voracious person becomes merely a bigger man. He becomes, socially and psychologically, fat. These two ways of expanding represent essentially the two basic approaches to the problem of expansion and, thus, to ninth-house experiences. A third way would be, however, the completely negative approach: that is, the refusal to expand.
Each way produces characteristic challenges and problems. One type of problem arises from the refusal to expand or the inability to make oneself desire expansion in one realm of activity or another; also from the repeated frustration of this expansive urge through conjugal, family or social pressures; perhaps as the result of having been shocked by unusual and premature experiences of a transcendental or socially tragic nature.
Another type of ninth-house problem is the consequence of the constant effort to absorb more than one is able to assimilate; this may mean more food, more, wealth, more social or political power — even more learning, more unrelated facts, more experiences with foreign people or alien philosophies, too many dreams.
Problems also develop out of the attempt to cooperate and to love, where no response comes to love and cooperation. To help others where no assistance is asked of you, to heal where healing is deliberately resisted and unwelcome this, too, leads to difficulties. To avoid them or to deal with them, knowledge, understanding and wisdom are needed. Psychology, philosophy, religion, the study of law and custom are meant to give us such a knowledge and understanding. But we must seek that knowledge, welcome the understanding and reorient ourselves deliberately toward our "greater life." We should do so in a manner that is truly our own if we want to gain a deeply valid and personally useful harvest and, on the basis of this harvest, achieve our individual life purpose: that for which we were born as spiritual entities in an earthly body.
The "manner that is truly our own" is implied in the ninth house of our natal chart. As in the case of any house, we should study the zodiacal sign on this ninth-house cusp, the position of the planet which rules this sign and the aspects it makes to other planets, the contents of the house (i.e., how many zodiacal degrees it contains and what planet, if any, is located in it).
What you will not be able to discover, however, is whether you should seek expansion by traveling afar rather than through a deep study of philosophy or law or through the path to profound and transforming religious experiences, cosmic consciousness or prophecy. You can see indicated a general approach to any and all experiences of expansion into vaster fields of activity, consciousness and understanding. You can see, symbolically stated, the path to your "greater self" and the best way (the, to you, natural way) to proceed as you go along; but you will not find anything telling you precisely: "This is what you should seek." The path may lead you to and through many fields.