PROLOGUE - 4
As all processes of existence imply a time factor, time has essentially a cyclic nature. Time, in its most basic sense, is a structuring factor. For instance, the motion of the earth both establishes the reality of time for our consciousness and primarily structures our organic and psychic growth. The length of an organism's life-span conditions fundamentally its character and the possible scope of its responses to its environment and its awareness. As the life-span increases for man there is little doubt that extremely important changes in human society and human psychology will occur — indeed, are occurring.
Of course from the strictly existential point of view of the official modern mentality, what appears as the important factors in the change are a vast number of new "events" and new types of interpersonal, social-cultural, economic and political relationships. The historian trained in our present day universities is almost exclusively focusing his attention on these existential, factual events — and on every bit of information that can be gathered concerning such events. Thus this type of historian sees only ever-changing and almost unpredictable happenings. He does not dare — and perhaps could not afford to, if he wanted to keep his college job — to present to the academic fraternity vast structural concepts such as have been thought out by "generalists" like Spengler and Toynbee, to speak only of recent historians. Yet, without such encompassing and "cyclic" historical concepts, what meaning is to be given to the chaotic facts and the confusing events of our century?
Academic historians usually retrench themselves behind the hackneyed statement that history actually does not repeat itself. Of course it does not, if we are speaking of precise events — though even at that level of existential happenings many very striking parallels and analogies can be pointed out. But if we think of the structure of a cycle of civilization, of definite turning points, crises of growth, collective decisions and characteristic failures of nerves or class-blindness, etc. — and even of the type of personages who focus as it were the meaning and direction of crises and decisions — then we can indeed see emerging before our mind's vision the over-all time-pattern which beats, as it were, the basic rhythm of historical changes.
We can visualize such time-structures as well in the field of planetary evolution; and the periodical motions of the planets are the percussion players. The whole universe is indeed filled with rhythm. It is an ordered universe, and this order, in time, manifests as rhythm. The universe is a symphonic structure of infinite complexity; yet within man's field of experience a multitude of rhythms can be recognized, each of which establishes cyclic processes. Some of these processes affect the whole biosphere; others condition the growth and disappearance of human societies and civilizations; lesser ones form the warp and woof upon which the life-patterns of individual lives are embroidered.
It is by studying such structural factors that we can gain the kind of perspective upon the present trends of our society which permits us to foresee the structural outlines of history-in-the-making. What such a study can reveal is not precise existential happenings, but rather the rhythm of observable processes. Knowing what these processes have produced up to now, and knowing their structural character and basic rhythm, we can gain a "structural knowledge" enabling us to time rather accurately expectable crises and turning points, and to understand what is at stake in these crises — thus the meaning of whatever concrete events will take place at these nodal points of a history yet in the making.
Knowing this meaning can be of tremendous psychological value, especially to individuals caught like seemingly helpless corks in the momentum of bewildering whirlpools of events. As Victor Frankl, the great Viennese psychologist, has stated in his books (cf. From Prison Camp to Existentialism), a man can stand almost any terrible situation, including torture, if he can see in it some kind of meaning and extract from it the feeling that it is structurally related to some larger pattern of growth, perhaps as a "test"; but men will break down and collapse if even much less strenuous events can only be seen as totally meaningless. The search for meaning is the most vital function of the mind and the feeling-intuition of man.
Most men of course accept unquestioningly the set of values and meanings with which they have been provided since birth by family, religion and culture. But when this set of meanings falls apart and loses its convincing and will-mobilizing power, then psychological chaos is impending. The individual will seek escape in neurosis, psychosis or hallucinogenic drugs — or else, finding in his own individual depth (and perhaps in the very acuity of his tragedy, despair and emptiness) a driving power that as yet had been latent, he starts on his own upon a crucial and often crucifying search for meaning.
Then, however, he may become an easy prey for charlatans, pseudo-teachers and fortune-tellers; for he must at all cost try to establish within himself a new sense of direction. He must strive to get a clue as to what some to him very mysterious, yet psychologically needed, Power expects of him. He hungers for a knowledge of the future — whether it be his own personal future, or the future of his people and even of humanity as a whole — for in this future lies perhaps the revelation of a life-purpose for him, of his place, function and meaning in the universe.
Statistical knowledge and the extrapolation of the past into the future offer very little that makes sense to the individual. Will such a "scientific" approach make much sense to mankind as a whole, if perchance some vast planetary cataclysm, or the coming of far-advanced "space people," were to render totally useless and meaningless all the curves of predictable growth for the establishment of which millions of dollars are being spent? The basic question today is indeed whether or not the social, psychological and biological or telluric processes and modes of human response which we have known in our limited experience of the past may not be made obsolete and superseded by basically new developments. We can perhaps expect a totally new "mutation" of mankind or a basic transformation of society. Without such a most radical development is there indeed any hope for a humanity faced with massive hunger and nuclear disaster? Any type of extrapolation from the past along lines pursued by official computer-based calculations of probability lose all validity if we are at the threshold of radically transforming events which result from the operation of cosmic or planetary forces, or of transcendent superhuman minds. And our academic, political or business mentalities have no way of relating to even the possibility of this kind of operation or "intervention."
There is nevertheless a way of discovering the manner in which planetary and cosmic processes reach points of crisis and as a result may play havoc with all our modern scientific prospects for the future. It is a way as old as thinking man; but unfortunately today a way so filled with distorting accretions and so compromised by psychological vagaries and abuses that it seems unacceptable to minds trained in the logical and analytical techniques of rigorous thinking. It is the way of astrology.
Let us try to see what is actually the essential nature of astrology, and how a combination of basic astrological and historical thinking can be used as a truly meaningful, broad and inclusive method for a deeper understanding of the vast process of change in the midst of which mankind is presently floundering in a state of utter confusion and dismay.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1969 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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