I shall begin by stating the events which led me to the study of astrology
and to the development of the stand I have taken in my presentation and interpretation of the principles of astrology. To these principles I have sought to give consistent, logical and psychologically sound applications, regardless of what traditional astrological beliefs and practices have been, and of the varied claims contemporary astrologers are making, valuable as these may be from some points of view.
It was while staying in Hollywood near the Krotona Institute, then the American headquarters of the Theosophical Society in America, that I became interested in astrology. I had my birth-chart cast and interpreted by mail by Hazelrigg, a then well-known astrologer, and during the winter season of 1920-21 I took a course from a woman who was teaching in a conventional way how to erect and interpret a chart.
My main interest then was composing music and becoming immersed in Oriental philosophy and music. I nevertheless studied charts as occasion arose and my first "professional" work was done in the fall, 1928. Around the fall equinox 1930 I was introduced to Marc Edmund Jones, then living and teaching in Hollywood. Immediately afterward I went to New York and it was then that I received the fist mimeographed courses on astrology which Marc Jones was then sending to the members of his Sabian Assembly; however, I did not join his group or attend his classes, nor did he ever ask me directly to do so.
I was very interested in the philosophical vistas these courses opened and by the logical, consistent formulation of the ideas they presented. The next winter while in Boston, I wrote seven small booklets entitled Harmonic Astrology
, containing the substance of lectures I had been giving. One of these was reprinted last Mach 1972 in The Aquarian Agent
. During the summer of 1932, while quite ill and penniless I wrote a circular, Harmonic Psychology
, most of which was quoted in my now widely read book, The Astrology of Personality
In this circular I quoted Carl Jung, whose discourse given at Wilhelm's funeral I had read two or three months before. I did not get fully acquainted with Jung's ideas until the summer 1933 while staying at Mrs. Garland's ranch in New Mexico where I read all his then translated books. At once the idea that I could develop a series of connections between Jung's concepts and a reformulated type of astrology came to me. It just happened that a year before a friend of mine, Ivah Krupp Bradley, had given my booklets on Harmonic Astrology
to a man she had causally met, Paul Clancy, who was starting, without adequate resources, a small magazine intended to popularize astrology. He liked very much what I had written and asked me to reprint my six booklets in his magazines. The magazine failed; but in 1932 Clancy started a new one, American Astrology
I met Clancy that fall in New York where I passed the winter. I told him of my ideas, and he said enthusiastically that he would publish anything I would write along these lines. I did, and the magazine became a great success in 1934. Alice Bailey, who, I met early in 1920 in Hollywood, liked my articles, and suggested I should write a treatise developing their contents. She offered to have the book published at the Lucis Press which she and her husband had started in connection with the Arcane School, a new theosophical group. In this book, The Astrology of Personality
, my main ideas on astrology, on holism and on the cyclic process of existence are contained in seed. It was written during the summer 1934-1935 in New Mexico, and completed in Hollywood in 1936.
Though I never joined the Arcane School, I had great admiration for Alice Bailey's utter dedication to her work, and for her personal courage and strength of character. I was impressed by her earlier books, especially Treatise on Cosmic Fire
which she was writing when we met in 1920, and, touched by her offer to take the risk of publishing my large volume. I not only dedicated it to her, but referred in several places to the ideas she was promoting, in so far as they were related to H. P. Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled
and The Secret Doctrine
, which had meant so much to the development of my historical sense and my deeper mind.
As years passed, difficult experiences led me to repolarize somewhat my general philosophical approach
and to question many things I had accepted at first unquestioningly. As many letters has come to me from people who had become extremely disturbed by some astrologer's analysis of "good and bad points" in their charts and by irresponsible predictions, I became forcibly aware of the psychological danger involved in careless astrological statements about birth-charts. I therefore tried to stress the psychological responsibility of the practitioner, and to develop theoretically a consistent approach to those astrological factors which were more particularly related to the individuality and the potentiality for growth of the person whose chart was being studied. I increasingly emphasized the need to take a holistic approach to the birth-chart, and to stress the Houses as much, if not more than the zodiacal signs. The shift in emphasis from the zodiac to the Houses seemed to be particular significant and indeed essential after Cyril Fagan promoted the "sidereal zodiac" giving to what had been the traditional basis of astrological interpretation an ever more ambiguous character.
I became thus increasingly concerned with the need for reorienting both the traditional concepts and the practice of astrology on the basis of my general philosophy of existence. This philosophy is broadly outlined in my recent book The Planetarization of Consciousness
but it had been developing since 1928 and especially after various crucial developments in my life in 1938-39, 1941-42 and 1954. Such a philosophy, while based on metaphysical principles well known in China and India, seeks to reformulate an approach to psychology, philosophy, metaphysics, ethics and interpersonal relationships, freed not only from the materialistic biases of our Western tradition, but also from the glamour surrounding so much of what today passes for esoteric "revelations" and unprovable occult claims.
This is a period when, especially among the confused and rootless American youth, everything seems acceptable that introduces unfamiliar ideas and practices, especially so if these have been considered unacceptable or dangerous by our official Western mentality. Often very little discrimination is used to investigate the validity of statements haloed with exotic glamour or made by persons claiming fascinatingly unusual experiences or powers. Rarely does one find people intent on evaluating what is presented to them on the basis of principles which can be applied to the whole of human existence, and on the basis of the consistency
with which they are applied.
This is partly due to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of empiricism, according to which a nearly total dependence upon "facts" and "experiences" takes the place of general ideas and of reliance upon intuitively felt, but at once consistently developed principles. Obviously both approaches should be used; but the foundation of knowledge that is creative and free from the confusing randomness of personal experiences rests, I believe, upon metaphysical principles underlying personal claims and so-called "facts." These facts can be interpreted according to a passing mood or hastily formulated opinion, or be influenced by an emotional attraction for a forceful personality.
Astrology is a particularly fertile field for the growth of unsubstantiated personal opinions based on the astrologer's unavoidably limited experience. For this reason, the present trend toward a "scientific," statistical and critical analysis of traditional statements filling astrological textbooks is a much to be welcomed development. However it also carries the same germs of tragic misapplication as does all modern Science, especially in its technological aspect. "Facts" can be used to destroy the integrity of the human person, even if they are correctly ascertained; because, when presented to that person by another individual (or in a book stating them), the knowledge of these facts may utterly confuse or even kill as well as heal and make whole. Facts have no value except in relation to the consciousness which perceives them
Of course, truly ascertained new facts can and do change the consciousness of those who know them; but, of crucial importance when new facts are top be brought to the attention of a person, is the usually unasked question, "Is that person capable of making a constructive use of these facts?" Unfortunately, scientific research today is not interested in the human
results of its discoveries, and still less concerned are the people who gain fame and make money from such discoveries. This unfortunately applies also to quite a few astrologers as they speak to their clients.
We are dealing here with issues that today are crucial and also very difficult to meet intelligently and consistently. They force us to question the long range value of the mass-dissemination of what we call scientific knowledge, unless
the disseminating process takes into consideration the "humanistic" factor. By the term, humanistic factor, I am referring to the reaction which the popularized knowledge can be expected to have upon the average person being confronted with it. However, the dangerous possibility inherent in such a humanistic preoccupation is that knowledge may become jealously guarded by an "elite" able to control its dissemination — alas, in most instances, to control it for its own advantage and the maintenance of acquired or inherited privileges. We have continuing examples of such a possibility in politics, in economics, and also in such an organization as the American Medical Association.
As I see it, the only way to avoid such a danger of control by a self-perpetuating and power-hungry group
is to stress principles rather than a multitude of data; philosophy rather than the endless proliferation of scientific or pseudo-scientific "research."
It was the realization that what was happening in astrology parallels or reflects in many ways what I saw occurring in our society which led me in February-March 1969 to initiate the International Committee for Humanistic Astrology. In the series of six booklets which followed — now available in one volume entitled Person-Centered Astrology
— I tried to formulated clearly the distinction between an "event-oriented" and a "person-centered" astrology. I extended and reformulated the concept of "aspect" and planetary gestalt
, the meaning of astrology nodes, and I presented basic ideas applicable to the holistic interpretation of a birth-chart.
What I probably did not emphasis enough in my presentation is what could be called "the mandala
approach" to astrological charts. Such an approach was mentioned already in my 1936 book The Astrology of Personality
. The present popularization of the mandala concept (especially through the beautiful book by Jose and Miriam Agruelles, entitled Mandala
) makes the use of the phrase "the mandala approach to astrology" particularly significant at this time. It also should bring more clearly than ever the meaning of the difference between person-centered
and zodiacally circumscribed
astrological charts — between the continental European, and the traditional English-American chart-forms.
In The Astrology of Personality
I defined a mandala as "a magic circle containing a cross or some other basically fourfold formulation," adding that "every birth-chart is the mandala of an individual life. It is the blue-print of the process of individuation for this particular individual. To follow it understandingly is to follow the 'conscious way,' the way of operative wholeness, that is, the way of the active fulfillment of the wholeness of being that is Self" (as Jung understands this term).
As the Arguelles' book Mandala
The universality of the mandala is in its one constant, the principle of center. The center is the beginning of the mandala as it is the beginning of all forms and of all processes, including the extensions of form into time . . . The center is symbolic of the eternal potential. From the same inexhaustible source all seeds grow and develop, all cells realize their functions — there is a structural law, a cosmic principle by which perceptible forms are sustained and which governs the processes of transformation in all things. This can be realized only because the center principle manifests itself through man in the same ways as it does through a flower or a star; in it we may discover our cosmic commonality — our community . . . At the core, each man is the center of his own compass and experiences, his own cardinal points, North, South, East and West.
We are defined not only by our place on the physical level, but by our position in consciousness, and these are an interdependent whole . . . . universally inherent in man's consciousness, the mandala has continually appeared in his construction, rituals, and art forms. From its various manifestations we can derive three basic properties: A center — symmetry — cardinal points.
(Mandala, p 12-13)
The basic factor in a mandala being the center, it follows that no mandala makes sense unless we know to what its center refers. In my recent book The Astrological Houses
— The Spectrum of Individual Experience
I discussed at length (Part One) the evolution of astrological concepts, stating that while archaic astrology was locality-centered
(as were all ancient cultures) European astrology since the early Renaissance was geocentric. In European charts the center of the earth-globe represented the center of the circular chart; all measurements, including the horizon, were made form the center of our planet.
A locality-centered astrology causes no problem: the earth is flat, the horizon of the locality is the surface of the earth; celestial bodies rise, culminate, disappear in the "underworld" then rise again. The center of whatever chart was used — and Indian astrologers still use the "square chart" which is actually some kind of magical figure without a circumference
(a most revealing point!) — was the center of the locality which for any tribe (or even super-tribal kingdom) is considered to be the actual center of the world. What matters for such an astrological approach is how the rising, culminating, and setting celestial bodies (stars as well as planets and the two "Lights") affect the tribal locality and the fate of its center; i.e. the village, the city centered around a palace or temple, or at times a plaza, (and open center) which could lead to the "ancestral Root" of the tribal organism.
Once astrology became truly geocentric, many problems arose, which are still unsolved today. The two-dimensional archaic locality scene became a three-dimensional global puzzle. The entire astrological picture had to be redrawn and reinterpreted; but, as I explained in The Astrological Houses,
this was only partially and confusingly done. Once circular charts
came to be used for individual charts
, the geocentric point of view introduced a peculiar ambiguity. The chart was designed, and its data were calculated, as if its center was the earth's center; yet, if this chart had been considered the birth mandala of the individual person, that person
, living on the surface and not
at the center of the earth, should have been the chart's center. Evidently the birth-chart was not considered a mandala to be used by a particular human being to assist him in the process of "individuation," i.e. of becoming a whole person. What the birth-chart represented and still represents today for most astrologers is a set of influences acting upon a person's environment (the earth's biosphere) and affecting in him "human nature"
a collective, generic factor.
Here is the fundamental difference between what I have called the "person-centered" and the "event-oriented" types of astrology. Such a difference is not absolute, for evidently the two can be integrated
, but one should not attempt to reconcile
them, or to gross over the differences. Above all, one should try to take a stand determined by one's thorough grasp of the implications of both approaches, and to use the tools for interpretation which precisely fit what one wishes to convey.
In The Astrology of Personality
I tried to show that all forms of existence are based on the interaction of two principles: the Collective and the Individual. I stated that the zodiac refers to the Collective, the circle of Houses to the Individual. (The book was written before Fagan brought forth the issue of sidereal vs. tropical zodiacs.) In defining the zodiac I used a long quotation from Alan Leo's book, Casting the Horoscope:
The zodiac that we use is really the Earth's Aura. It is a sphere or ovoid, the poles of which coincide with the poles of the Ecliptic and its middle or equatorial plane is the Ecliptic . . . For some reason at present unexplained, this sphere is polarized in one direction. This sphere is divided into twelve parts like the sections of an orange, and it is these sections which constitute the "signs" of the zodiac. We are, however, chiefly concerned with its equatorial plane, for it is this which we measure in signs or degrees, and which determines the zodiacal position of a planet.
Now it is clear that since this sphere or aura remains constantly "floating" in one position while the Earth journeys around the sun, the sun's rays will successively pass through each one of the signs. If you place a lamp in the middle of a table, and walk once around the table always facing one particular corner of the room, the rays of the light will have shone upon each part of the head in turn — the nose, left cheek, back of the head, right cheek, and so on . . .
It need hardly be mentioned that the "aura" does not turn round each day with the rotation of the earth on its axis, but that the Earth spins round withinit, like the wheel on a gyroscope. (p.247)
Seen in such a light the zodiac represents the cosmic (or rather planetary) environment of man. This environment, for an individual, constitutes the potentiality of immensely vast types of relationship which mankind-as-a-whole can experience. It is a generic and collective factor. It can also be spoken of, perhaps more literally than most people might think, as a kind of placenta for the embryonic earth-body. The placenta is the formative area, the area from and through which the building life-energies of the universal macrocosm feed and vitalize the planetary microcosm, the earth's biosphere.
This is not what the siderealist astrologer — and indeed the average person — think of the zodiac; for they believe that it actually refers to immensely distant groups of stars. If it is so, it seems to me hard to understand how the belief — that those constellations affect in very specific and often trivial ways, the character and the banal events of man's existence — can be reconciled with our present day "Scientific" picture of the universe. If the earth is one planet in a small solar system whose sun is one of several billion of other stars revolving in perhaps 200 million years around a mysterious galactic center, our globe is but a small dot surrounded by these billion of stars on all sides
. If somehow these groups of stars have an effect upon life on earth — all lives over the entire globe at practically the same time so short is our time-scale — why should the zodiacal groups (those related to the plane of our earth's orbit) have such a far-reaching influence upon the earth, and not the other stars?
The only answer I can think of is that somehow the radiations from these zodiacal constellations are amplified and focused (or it could be stepped down) by the sun — and also by the moon and the planets moving more or less along this orbital plane of the earth (the ecliptic) — in such a way that they are able to affect, and indeed according to astrology, to mould men's organic functions and character. But what an explanation this is from a scientific standpoint! It must have seemed quite a natural belief for the locality-centered archaic star-gazer; he pictured himself a mysterious celestial sphere rotating around a flat stationary earth and moment after moment focusing upon us a succession of powerful beams emanating form the big projectors (stars) mounted inside of that sphere. But for our scientific minds
and on the basis of what we consider the sun, the moon and the planets to be, is not this explanation I have just suggested quite remarkable.
Either the zodiac has very little to do with actual constellations of stars, or else our present-day scientific world-picture, strictly limited to physically measurable vibrations, fails to give us an idea of the more fundamental reality of stars, sun and planets and of our relation to them.
If as astrologers we accept the second alternative, why not have the courage to say so and to take a positive stand rather than sheepishly align ourselves with the mass of believers in the quasi-absolute validity of the scientific methodology? If we do not want to choose between these alternatives, the only other way is to say, as I do, that astrology is a symbolic language
. It is a language attempting to formulate, by means of symbols based on the common experience of men facing the all-surrounding sky, an immensely complex structure of relationships between the universe and man; relationships which we cannot explain in other ways. We cannot satisfactorily explain them according to our present-day methods of scientific analysis because these methods, at least so far, have not proven applicable to the level — or the kind of space-time structure — at which these cosmic connections actually operate. We can perceive only their more or less confused reflections upon the stormy sea of our earth-existence.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1972 and 1975 by Dane Rudhyar
All Rights Reserved.
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