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The Problem of

by Dane Rudhyar

First Published
American Astrology
October 1948 - January 1949

To be truly "sane" in a society whose basic moral and cultural values, whose standards of collective behavior, and whose general quality of thinking and feeling are steadily disintegrating is not merely to follow the line of least social resistance and be "normal," as most people then think of normality. Sanity, during such a period of history, consists rather in accepting deliberately the challenge inherent in the position of one who is in the world, but not of the world.
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The Problem of Sanity in the Modern World by Dane Rudhyar.

Part Two
Uranian and Neptunian Crises

To be truly "sane" in a society whose basic moral and cultural values, whose standards of collective behavior, and whose general quality of thinking and feeling are steadily disintegrating is not merely to follow the line of least social resistance and be "normal," as most people then think of normality. Sanity, during such a period of history, consists rather in accepting deliberately the challenge inherent in the position of one who is in the world, but not of the world. It consists in aligning oneself consciously with those "seed-energies" which are expressions of the creative will to survival and to life-renewal in the midst of social-cultural disintegration, somewhat as the vegetable seed is a focus for the creative power of the species in the midst of the autumnal decay of yearly vegetation.

Such an alignment — implying a deliberate effort of reorientation toward all that is life and spirit, that is good and God-like — means, as we saw last month, substituting for the disintegrating patterns of society a vaster "frame of reference" in relation to which the individual can give, constructive meaning and spiritual (i.e., totally integrative and harmonic) purpose to his outer and inner experiences. This new and deliberately selected frame of reference becomes for this individual a sort of Noah's Ark within which he finds inner security and creative strength. Within it, he can know and feel himself dedicated to the service of that Power which transcends all temporary disintegration and forever works toward ever-resurgent life and spiritual progress; a Power that can be envisioned as God, Man (the creative Power active within the human kingdom), Evolution, or called by whatever name the individual chooses to define that central, dynamic, ever-creative Reality at the core of every cell as well as of the whole universe.

To reorient one's consciousness of self, one's thinking and feeling responses to life and one's behavior, away from the lesser frame of reference provided by the particular society and culture in which one is born and toward the greater frame of reference of humanity-as-whole, this means a complete metamorphosis of personality. It means ceasing to operate primarily in terms of, the established and traditional order of things represented astrologically by the planetary pair Jupiter and Saturn, and letting the transforming power of Uranus and Neptune operate within one's personality.

It is this power which draws from the entire organism of personality (and of society) those vital elements which can be brought together into the "seed" — the creative harvest, the immortal treasure, which "overcomes" the world of disintegration and the autumnal decay of mere "leaves." The leaves are bound to the particular plant on whose stem they have grown; but the seed finds the fulfillment of its destiny in freedom from this particular plant which must die with the year. The seed's allegiance is not to a particular "plant" (i.e., to a particular culture and society), but to the whole species (i.e., to humanity and to the God of this humanity) whose span of existence encompasses billions of years and cycles within cycles.

To emerge from the symbolic realm of the leaves to that of the seed, is to emerge from mortality to (at least relative) immortality. In this change all elements of the personality have to become reoriented; they have to be given a new meaning, a new purpose and direction, in terms of the larger frame of reference, Humanity. Passive subservience to the dictates of a taken-for-granted tradition and way of life must be changed into a dynamic, positive, creative quest for new values and new goals. And this change constitutes indeed a real metamorphosis, psychologically as complete as the biological transformation of worm into chrysalis, then butterfly.

Meaning of the Crises
The first phases of this metamorphic process come, astrologically speaking, under the rulership of Uranus and Neptune. What is most important to realize is that, insofar as human development is concerned, especially today, these phases do not take place, without some kind of crises. These crises are usually experienced by the individual undergoing the change at both the biological or social and the psychological level. In some cases the apparent motivation and cause of the crisis may be illness, the "change of life," or any profound bio-chemical and nervous upset; in others, the crisis may be due to some pressures from society, a political or military event changing the course, of the life, economic failure, etc. Yet, always the basic spiritual urge to metamorphosis comes actually from within — an urge that waited as it were, upon external events to "break through" into the world of consciousness and feeling.

It is this urge-upsetting, transforming, creative — which is represented by Uranus. Neptune, on the other hand, refers to changes which affect the substantial foundations of body and the personality, and (as far as nations or societies are concerned) the flow of human values, of goods, of collective feelings between classes, races and groups. Uranus acts in a quasi-electrical manner; Neptune operates in bio-chemical, feelings-transforming, depth-arousing ways. The circulatory rhythm, the chemistry of the various "fluids" (or "humours," in the Medieval sense) of body and psyche become affected by Neptune's pressure. The deep sense of relationship of self to other selves, the character of one's participation in social-cultural processes, the quality of one's basic feeling-attitude to life, love, happiness, human purpose, individual destiny, etc., are changed during Neptunian crises.

Uranus "trans-forms;" thus it changes the form, structure, implications and meanings of the individual being. Neptune dissolves the old substances, the very stuff of personality; bringing in their place unfamiliar elements and a type of response to people and situations which eludes classification and which no traditional mould or frame of reference can contain. Above all, the Neptunian crisis produces, a puzzling and often chaotic release of irrational ideas and almost disturbing sense of identification of the self with non-personal values, with feelings, people, and factors of ordinary experience, which the cultured and rational mind had learned to despise, ignore or repress as worthless.

During such a crisis the individual is likely to be pulled compulsively by the "common life," the "common man," the unformed and the universally diffused. Moral values, intellectual concepts and instinctive reactions lose much of their sharpness and clarity, because everything seems to be in everything else, every man or woman seems lost — yet perhaps strangely aglow — within the common humanity of all human beings. Distinctions are obliterated by a sense of essential likeness and incomprehensible unity.

This is the chrysalis state, the "Dark Night of the Soul" of which St. John of the Cross wrote and which all mystics experience. And the poignancy of such a state of being and of consciousness is such that men, feeling it approaching, have lost sanity, or escaped into intoxication and the "artificial paradises" which drugs (physical or psychological) provide. To know that this condition of at least intense emotional disturbance is a crisis of growth, which has a purpose, a cycle of its own and an end, can mean the difference between faith in the ultimate glory of the process and hopeless despair; between sanity and insanity, life and death.

He who can envision the butterfly while being dissolved into the Neptunian chrysalis stage, may suffer agony; but he will not lose faith in himself — or lose "face" with himself, and others. And insanity means always, somehow, somewhere, a loss of faith; which accounts for the terrific increase of insanity in the Western world and particularly in the United States, for so many men, women and children have lost any real faith in themselves and in life, any vital sense of purpose and of the meaning of spiritual growth.

Social Crises
There must be crisis, because the change from the narrower to the vaster frame of reference is bound to arouse the resistance of the ego, which had become identified with the established and taken-for-granted value and goals of the Jupiter-Saturn realm. The ego, in the individual person, acts startlingly like the "ruling class" in a mature society. Both the ego and the ruling minority (the aristocracy") cling obstinately to their privileges and to the social structures which guarantee them: customs, traditions, legal machinery, religions beliefs and priesthood, specialized educations and inherited wealth preserved through the principle of primogeniture — i.e., in inheritance of most of this wealth and privilege by the oldest son — in the social field. It takes therefore a Uranian crisis to shatter the belief in the validity of these privileges, proclaimed by the intellect to be "of divine right." It takes a Neptunian crisis to level down and renew from the depths of psyche or society up, the accepted beliefs, inbred attitudes and traditional behavior (ethics) of a whole people or a personality.

The study of what happened in the field of European society (including its two "frontier" extensions, America and Russia) during the Uranian eighteenth and the Neptunian nineteenth centuries shows plainly what occurs likewise when personalities are stirred and ploughed under, as it were, by Uranian and Neptunian crises. All that has taken place in the classical-European society (typified by a Louis XIV, who boasted "The State, I am it") about the time of the discoveries of Uranus and Neptune in the sky of man's perceptions, happens practically to any man experiencing these two types of crises. Uranus brings disbelief, rationalistic and scientific enquiries, repudiation of the old privileges and religious doctrines, revolution and a new freedom — and we had the "Era of Enlightenment," and the French and American Revolutions with their "Cult of Reason" and their Masonic ideals of democratic group-organization spreading into the political instrumentalities of republican parliamentarism.

The Uranian type of revolutionary democracy, however, does not yet destroy actually the substance of classes and of social-ethical behavior, because it can change only the form and political structure of society. Likewise, the individual who experiences a Uranian crisis is inspired, aroused by new ideas and ideals, filled with divine (or devilish!) discontent and restlessness, but at root he remains still substantially the same person, as to his sense of culture and of value — just as a Washington and a Jefferson remained in spite of their revolutionary attitudes and political philosophies, cultured representatives of the aristocratic elite of Western society.

Then came the forties of last century, the Industrial Revolution and the entrance of Neptune into the field of human consciousness. Then the very foundations of behavior and human relationship among men and women of the West became ploughed under by modern industry, modern ways of making a living, modern machines, modern home-conditions, modern education. Popularism in politics, materialism in philosophy and social-historical thinking (the German School, Marxism, Darwinism, etc.) actually razed down the structural patterns of all social processes during the century stretching from, 1830 to 1930. In 1930 Pluto became noticed, and a new tide of events began, energized by the "will to integration;" which means totalitarianism of a sort, either in terms of the hard and condensed seed utterly consecrated to a new life and society, or in terms of the ruthless gangdom seeking to arrest for a while the destruction of all life and value, the inevitable trend toward the formless unity of "pure matter," the humus of decayed vegetation.

When Do Crises Occur?
Seeking to discover the periods in the life of an individual when Uranian and Neptunian crises can be expected, the astrologer will naturally study the transits of these planets through the natal chart. Being very slow planets, their secondary progressions are usually negligible, unless they were located at birth within a couple of degrees of some particularly important planet or of one of the four angles of the natal chart. However, primary directions, Radix directions and the measure of the arc (one degree per year) between Uranus or Neptune and the most basic factors of the natal chart, should also give very significant indications.

The simplest and safest method for the average student is nevertheless the consideration of the transits, because transits actually refer to the impact of the "greater whole" (the sky, the universe) upon the microcosm, the individual personality; and the process of metamorphosis which we are studying here is started by a positive "act of the spirit." It is "God" who wills men to progress from the lesser to the greater. It is the purpose and energy of this greater divine or evolutionary Power, and not man's will, that operate as "prime mover." It is God, Life or Spirit that challenge man, by upsetting man's settled foundations of existence, of belief, of value. Therefore, the moving index of Uranus or Neptune in the sky, year by year, is the best sign of the incoming challenges to the ego, to its privileges and its rule over the energies of the bio-psychological organism of personality.

Such challenges, however, cannot be timed with certainty; nor can, above all, the intensity and the results of the crises which follow be determined before they happen. Too many factors are involved in the process and in the quality and character of the individual's responses; first of all, the condition of the society to which the individual belongs at the time has a great deal to do with the sharpness and extensiveness of these crises. If the whole nation or class is itself in a state of upheaval, the individual crisis tends to be more devastating; unless the very pressure of the external chaos rouses from the individual a tense "will to order at any cost" which, either may lead to swift overcoming and the great gesture which may make one victorious (for a time at least), or to a rigid and frightened refusal to face the inner crisis, because the entire will to survival of the person is occupied with the mere search for everyday subsistence.

A particularly strong challenge may lead to some kind of breakdown of mental equilibrium or moral balance, to a split of personality (as the unwelcome challenge and the part of the personality affected by it is simply cut off from the ego-consciousness), to physiological illness and cellular-organic disintegration. Neurosis, psychosis, tuberculosis, cancer and nerve-diseases may be the result if the crisis turns negative. But no one can say whether the crisis will turn negative, or be successfully resolved, sooner or later, with spiritual victory and spiritual growth as the outcome. Even temporary insanity, a crucial sickness, an apparent giving way to destructive habits may be the first phases of a crisis which will eventually lead to an inner transfiguration, to growth in consciousness from a narrow to a wider "frame of reference" — perhaps at the time when a second crisis will challenge the individual away from his passively accepted degradation or his state of invalidism.

It is also well to realize that the outer manifestation of the crisis may not coincide exactly with the Uranus or Neptune transit. The real crisis may be an inner one, or it may represent the focusing of a greater historical-social crisis upon an individual destined to play an important part in its solution. The familiar case of Franklin D. Roosevelt is an excellent illustration of such possibilities. His attack of infantile paralysis at the age of 39 1/2 was the outer expression of a Uranus-Neptune crisis; but it is shown astrologically to be but the final event in a process of transformation which had begun some seven years before.

The attack of polio occurred in August 1921, and cannot be accounted for by any outstanding progressions; but the conjunction of Mars and Neptune in Leo 14° 11' (squaring Roosevelt's triple natal conjunction of Saturn, Neptune and Jupiter in mid-Taurus, and opposing his Aquarian Venus, Sun, Part of Fortune), obviously timed the physical event, bringing to an end the Neptune opposition to Venus and the Sun.

Neptune had reached by transit its opposition to F.D.R.'s natal Sun in October 1919, then in late July 1920, finally in May 1921. This nineteen month period indicates the over-all span of the transit-crisis; and we see it heralded at first by a heavy illness (pneumonia, etc.) contracted in France in September 1918, with Neptune opposing the midpoint between Venus and Sun (Aquarius 8° 34'), with Saturn in Leo opposing Uranus in Aquarius (having just made a transit over F.D.R.'s natal Mercury).

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