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The Planets
and their Symbols
by Dane Rudhyar

First Published in
Everywoman's Astrology

The Sun and Moon

In traditional astrology the Sun and the Moon are not actually considered as planets, but as the "lights" the Light of the Day and the Light of the Night. They symbolize the two fundamental aspects of that universal Power which ancient philosopher-mystics saw as the dynamic warp and woof of the material world.
      In the beginning was the Word, St. John's Gospel tells us. This "beginning" is represented in most systems of symbolism by the dot at the center of the circle. This dot is the "First Point," the Point of Emergence, the Creative Source, the Alpha of the great cosmic cycle of existence, the Undying Root, the "Son" who is sent by the forever hidden Father, the Germ of the Universe, etc. In astrology, as well as in astronomy, this dot within the circle represents the Sun.
The circle without the dot symbolizes space before any manifestation of existence occurs not, however, infinite and boundless space, but rather as an already limited potentiality, as a virgin field within the boundaries of which a universe will take place. The figure zero in arithmetical symbolism is not absolute nothingness; it represents a stage in which, while there is as yet "nothing," the potentiality of a defined type of existence is nevertheless present it is present, we might say, as thought in the Mind of God.
      This divine Idea or Plan becomes "in the beginning" a creative Act "Let there be light" which dynamites and fecundates the virgin field of space.
      Then "life" starts operating; and its infinitely varied operations are cyclic that is, they obey certain definite rhythms. The sequence of birth, growth, maturity, disintegration, death and rebirth occurs at all levels of existence and in an infinite variety of forms.
      It is this sequence which the lunation cycle, from New Moon to New Moon, represents in astrology; for the Moon is the most ancient symbol of the basic rhythm of life everywhere on earth. It is pictured as the Moon's crescent, because, in this form the Moon stands for the earliest period of the life cycle, when the vital forces and the energy of growth the strongest in all living-organisms.
When the Moon is in conjunction with the Sun, it is known as "dark of the Moon." The Moon is absorbed, hidden in its embrace with the Sun, and the creative Spirit fecundates dark space. Then as the Moon emerges from the radiance of the sunset in Western skies, the thin crescent becomes visible, and with it for awhile the barely visible totality of the lunar disc the virgin field impregnated by the Sun's light and power. As the lunar crescent grows in light, the ashen face of the Moon remembrance, as it were, of the moment of fecundation disappears; we witness the gradual increase of the Moon, symbol of the growth of the young organism into a fully mature and flowering expression of life in which the potentialities of existence imparted to the virgin space by the creative solar act becomes fully actualized. This is the Full Moon phase, after which the process of gradual withdrawal of the life energies begins.
      Toward the end of it we can see in the East before sunrise the inverted crescent of the Moon or rather, one ought to, say, the Moon's "descrescent." In astrology this phase has been called the "Balsamic Moon," a term whose origin is not too clear, but is probably alchemical. The life cycle has reached the seed stage; the seed falls into the damp soil of autumn to undergo a mysterious process of incubation or hibernation which will end with a new call to life by the power of the Sun and germination come springtime.
      The Sun is, for all that lives on the earth's surface, the one radiant source of power, the fountainhead of the many forms of energy light, heat, electricity, etc. The Sun in a birth-chart likewise represents the power which sustains all the activities of the body and their psychic counterparts and overtones. It is, to use an analogy, the fuel on which the engine of personality runs and most evidently the nature of such a fuel (whether it be wood, steam, gasoline, electricity, or atom power) dictates the characteristics, the type of materials used and the structure of the engine. A person powered by an Aries type of Sun force is likewise different from one whose vital energies stem from a Virgo type of solar energy.
      Every person tends normally to use the type of energy which is most readily available and most natural to him. From this one can deduce many basic traits of character, and also the nature of the experiences which the individual will attract and seek, because these experiences demand just that type of power to meet them successfully; indeed he "resonates" to that kind of opportunity and they attract each other, for everything in our lives is basically a matter of attunement of force.
      The Sun in a person's birth-chart also refers to the essential purpose of his life and to the inner power seeking its fulfillment the true "will," in contrast to the ego will or ambition of the person.
      The Moon is fundamentally the capacity of adaptation to the environment the inner and psychic, as well as the outer, physical and social environment. If it refers also to the mind, according to some astrologers, it is because mind is at first the capacity of adjustment to the challenges of daily living so that the child might make the best of them. It is the cunning of primitive men, as well as children plotting family intrigue.
      Negatively the Moon refers to moods that is, to our passive subservience to modifications of our psychic or physical environment. Our natal Moon indicates the most basic character of our feeling responses to people and to surroundings, if we consider its place in zodiacal signs and natal houses.
      Most important of all is the Moon's relationship to the Sun - that is, the phase of the ever-changing soli-lunar relationship, all the aspects of which constitute the lunation cycle of some thirty days duration for life without light would be impossible. That the disc of the Sun and that of the Full Moon are practically of the same visual size the nearness of the Moon compensating for its really much smaller size is one of the most remarkable coincidences. For man the attraction of light and life have the same power; yet he must choose which one will dominate his consciousness, and the degree to which he does so is an important factor in his ultimate character.

Read Part Two
Venus and Mars

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
Copyright © 1966 by Dane Rudhyar.
All Rights Reserved.

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