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Dane Rudhyar, 1971.
An Interview
with Dane Rudhyar
by Dane Rudhyar

Conducted by William Quinn

First Published in
The American Theosophist

September 1977




AT: There are those who say that theosophy has little to do with astrology; that there is little or no connection. How would you respond to this?

RUDHYAR: The term "theosophy" as it is understood today, of course, refers to the movement and the teachings or the ideas which were brought to the Western world by H.P. Blavatsky, Sinnett, The Mahatma Letters, and all that came in 1875 and thereafter. Now, in The Secret Doctrine there are references to astrology occult astrology but in a certain sense, it's very difficult to say that one relates to the other. The type of astrology which is mentioned in The Secret Doctrine is an occult type of astrology which deals with forces, with cosmic energies said to be related to certain stars to cosmic factors which are not usually taken into consideration by what is understood today as astrology, including natal astrology. You see, there are all kinds of astrology. There is mundane astrology, which deals with the fate of nations, weather, earthquakes, and such matters; and there is natal astrology, which deals with the chart of an individual person, the time he or she is born and the development of his life and character. These are two very different kinds of astrologies, and they ought to be approached in an entirely different way.
      When one is dealing with the occult type of astrology one has to presuppose a number of things which are, to some extent, implied in theosophy, yet which are not necessarily connected with the original teachings of theosophy. However, it might be said that one of the basic ways in which astrology and the validity of astrology has been explained is by the doctrine of correspondence and the so-called Hermetic principle of "As above, so below." Man is the microcosm of the universal macrocosm, and there is a certain equivalence, analogy or correspondence between the universe and man. This can be interpreted in many ways. We can have a direct kind of interpretation in terms of energy, in terms of physical or "astral" influence. But astrology can be seen and used as a symbolic language which can help us to understand what is happening in our lives. So understood, astrology does not need to assume that there are definite influences or energies emanating from Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn or any star. Your question is very difficult to answer because both the terms "theosophy" and "astrology" are susceptible to so many definitions.

AT: What are the basic differences between exoteric and occult astrology?

RUDHYAR: If you mean by exoteric astrology they type of fortune-telling or predictive astrology which we find in the newspapers or magazines, or even in a more serious way as it was used in Athens, Rome, Alexandria and Europe an astrology dealing with the prediction of events for human beings then of course it is different from occult astrology; but this doesn't mean that when you are focusing on external events there may not be occult forces operating causing these events. The point is the astrologer may not be dealing then with the essential causes of individual happenings. As to mundane astrology, it deals with collective events, involving nations, business firms, weather, etc.
      Actually, there is no such thing as "exoteric" astrology or "esoteric" astrology. There is an approach which is, in terms of occult philosophy an occult concept of the universe - and another which simply accepts traditional techniques (one might say "formulas" or even recipes) which are to be memorized and which tell you what event can be expected on earth when certain things happen in the sky in terms of the "aspects" between planets, etc. The type of astrology that most of the time I deal with is a symbolic type of astrology. It does not essentially deal with forces doing something to something else, so that events happen, but with processes unfolding according to definable cyclic rhythms. We can study and understand these rhythms, the way they operate. We can clock the sequence of the phases of these cosmic, psychic and biological processes in the development of individuals, and also social-political institutions.
      If you read The Secret Doctrine you will find many references to astrology. One quotation from Isis Unveiled is about astrology being an infallible science provided the astrologer himself is infallible. This, of course, is a very peculiar statement from a modern point of view, because no science is infallible, by any means. When HPB in that statement speaks of psychology and its relations to physiology, this also is interesting, because she seems to imply that psychology is completely founded on physiology; and that is of course, rather startling. However, she proceeds to say that in order to understand psychology or astrology one has to look at them strictly from the point of view of the transcendent spirit. Therefore, in order to understand occult astrology and to deal with it significantly, one would have to be practically an Adept. One would have to be able to operate at the level of pure forces and, in the real sense of the term, of the "astral" world or, the world of "stars."
      In The Mahatma Letters you will find a passage saying that, once he has entered the Path, the Initiate begins to operate in a world of forces instead of objects. The interesting fact today is that, in a sense, science is entering this world of forces and dematerializing objects, seeing it as a dynamic interplay of energies. When one interprets, or perceives the whole universe in such a manner, one can make all sorts of correspondences. One can assume various types if resonances between certain fundamental processes of a galactic nature, and vast cycles affecting mankind as a whole, particularly sensitive persons. But today this is something few astrologers have any concept of, or are concerned with in any way whatsoever.
      Elsewhere, HPB speaks to every individual person having a connection with some star; that every Initiate at the last Initiation comes in touch with his "Father-star." To this star, he r she can be said to "belong," in a cosmic sense. This is consistent with a traditional belief that to every human soul on Earth there is a corresponding star in the galaxy; and the galaxy was called the "womb of souls." Such occult concepts in terms of astrology are part of the theosophical outlook on the universe; but this kind of occult astrology has very little relevance to the problems, activities, and development in consciousness of a human being at this present time in our civilization.

AT: How can astrology aid an individual who is seeking self-synthesis?

RUDHYAR: What can be seen from a birth-chart is the general pattern, the general structure of the organization of the total human being as a person, both as a physical organism and as its reflection (or its higher level of activity) in a psychic organism. The planets are believed to represent ten basic functional activities operating within a human being. As the One Life-power emanates from the sun the center of the solar system - it passes through various concentric spheres. The One Power transforms itself into electricity, magnetism; and at a different level of activity, it takes the form of sociocultural functions. All these activities are manifestations, or rather differentiations of the basic solar power which on earth operates as the one Life-force.
      Every human being has a different kind of organization based on a particular set of relationships between the basic functions of his nature. These refer to the nervous system, the heart, the brain, the liver, the glands, etc. In every individual person these functions operate in a different way; they are interrelated in a different manner structurally. Thus the astrological birth-chart can be seen to constitute a kind of blueprint (a kind of x-ray picture) of the way all the life-centers, energies or functional activities are interrelated whether they cooperate with each other in an easy, smooth relationship, or they are under tense relationship. When studying a birth-chart a good astrologer should be able, as it were, to "decode" the celestial language of the solar system. He or she should be able to get a picture, or an intuitive realization, of how all those different functions which constitute a total human being operate. The astrologer can see objectively and thus better understand why certain things happen in a person's nature, why we tend to do certain things under certain conditions. Above all, by studying the location of the planets in the zodiac and particular natal houses of the chart, the astrologer could discern the best way in which the functional activities of our nature can be used to fulfill our dharma that is, the focal purpose of our life as individual persons. An objective picture is thus available which completes and may illumine our purely subjective feelings.
      The great difference between analytical psychology of the Jungian type and astrology is that the Jungian analyst depends completely on concrete physical data on things which have happened, on the way the person "feels," on (most often) puzzling dreams, and therefore in general on what the person tells him. The psychologist has existential data, but he doesn't know how they are related. If he knows a great deal about human nature and the usual behavior of different types of human beings, he can infer how these existential data are related, but he has no idea how they will develop in the future. He cannot see the entire life of the person with a whole view, whereas the astrologer has before him an abstract picture of the whole life in its seed potentiality. He can discern a pattern of relationship between the different factors which concur in building a particular character, and may reveal to the intuitive student the dharma of the individual. In other words the psychologist has existential knowledge but doesn't know anything about archetypal knowledge; and I must add that what Jung calls "archetype" is something entirely different from what I speak of as archetype.
      There are other astrological factors which are just as important as the natal chart per se. I am referring to the "progressions" and "transits." These can reveal how that which is only potential at birth can actualize itself into a complete and fruitful, or possibly unfruitful kind of potentiality. Just as an acorn passes through a process which leads it to become a full-grown oak, the birth-chart passes through a process, year after year, day after day, which enables the person to actualize his birth-potential.
      By having a picture of the process as a whole, and seeing how that process develops, phase after phase, through a series of turning points which usually implies some sort of crisis or reorganization of consciousness and life activity one is then able to get an entirely different perspective on one's life. Such a perspective can even transform what has happened in the past, because an event remembered as a terrible traumatic shock may be reinterpreted as having been a necessary condition for the development of some new faculty on whose development the whole life afterward has depended in a highly successful manner. Indeed, we cannot say that any event is good or bad; only whether or not it served the purpose of the life or dharma of the person. In a certain sense, traumatic events always do serve the purpose of the dharma, but the individual may not be able to see it is so. He may be so completely shocked and depressed by the event that he simply is not able to use it constructively.

AT: How might astrology be used in determining the most effective means for a concerned individual to serve humanity?

RUDHYAR: That is to some extent the consequence to what I have been saying. It is not enough, from my standpoint, to achieve some sort of personal integration, to see yourself as a whole, and to be able to live as a more or less integrated human being. Real integration and the realization of one's whole being never has its full value unless it is seen with reference to a larger frame of reference, the nearest of which to us is humanity, or at least the community in which one is born and one operates. There is always the possibility a relatively frequent one that the person who is "integrated" becomes so enamored of his own selfhood and his own integration, and is so self-satisfied and blissful in his own personal kind of nirvana, that he becomes an unrelated cell in the body of humanity. And unrelated cells are potentially cancerous.
      We can take as an example what occurred in early Buddhism among Hinayana Buddhists. In those days the Buddhist mentality was often entirely geared to the attainment of nirvana for the individual, regardless of what happened around him. Another example would be the lives of certain Stoics in ancient Rome who lived beautiful lives in the villas around Rome; they were very nice to their slaves and perhaps had become Christians, yet they allowed the Roman empire to decay, because they felt there was nothing they could do about it; they were perhaps satisfied with living happy lives at home, without sullying their feet with the mud of the Roman Establishment.
      We sometimes have to make a very crucial decision: How much will we serve by achieving a sort of inner perfection, a personal perfection which might radiate to a few people around us; or will we accept another alternative which means that, though we might not be perfectly at peace or must cope with great tensions, we nevertheless could use these tensions to produce certain transformations in society or to help revolutionary movements which can constructively transform society or even "destructively" sometimes, because God is as well the destroyer as the builder.
      What you can see to some extent in the horoscope is how you can best use the transforming power which is associated with the planets beyond Saturn Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. You can see in what natal houses they are located and, therefore, what kind of experience will best provide the means for you to transform yourself and to help as a transformative agent. It may be in a matter of service; it may be in a matter of creative activity; it may be in a matter of finance; in may be in a matter of reform. You can see to some extent the most definite line in which you can operate with the best advantage to fulfill your particular dharma in this particular life. But, of course, what I have just said is very general and it has to be interpreted in terms of the particular situation which concerns the person.
      This is why an astrologer should also be a psychologist, and to some extent a philosopher and seer; he can help the person to get a more objective picture of the possibilities inherent in his life-situation. As a psychologist he might be able to point out to you with an authority based on his experience of human nature: "This is really your best line." It may be that family or friends say you must "feel," and that too much thinking is not good for you; yet your chart might show very clearly that you should develop your mind more, and that, while there is a certain blockage in your feeling nature, this is quite significant because it may help you to go in the direction which is truly yours. The trouble is that we are not allowed to be what our dharma is: we do not live spontaneously according to our "fundamental nature." We are part of a family, part of a school situation, part of society; all of which impose images upon us that may not be congruent with the pattern and schedule of fulfillment of our destiny. Thus astrology can sometimes help to clarify and make us understand better where we stand, and at least to some extent, what we are here for. But, of course, interpretation is needed a decoding of the symbolic hieroglyphs of the sky.


Read Part Two


Reprinted by permission of The American Theosophist,
Copyright © 1977 The Theosophical Society in America


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