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from Humanistic to
Transpersonal Astrology
by Dane Rudhyar

First Published 1975

On Personal and Impersonal by Dane Rudhyar, 1929.

continued from Part Two

A human organism is "born" when it not only has emerged from the binding, watery environment of the mother’s womb, but has also proclaimed its freedom by reacting to a new open environment. Such a reaction takes the form of breathing. Air enters the newborn’s lungs. This air, rapidly circulating around the globe, has been and will be breathed by all living organisms in the biosphere, linking them in an inescapable atmospheric communion. All human beings, be they friends or enemies, breathe the same global air; and in their out-breathings they impart to it their deepest organic and biopsychic characteristics. Air is the "soul" of the biospheric environment to which man is born. It is the concrete manifestation of the unity of all earthly lives – a unity made possible by the sun’s light and the process of photosynthesis characterizing the vegetable kingdom.
      The earth’s biosphere is an "open" environment, compared to the maternal womb; yet it operates according to compulsive instinctual drives which no living organism can challenge, except man. Yet in order to be successful in the challenge, human beings have to group into societies. They develop definite ways of life, cultures and institutions, whose rhythms and biopsychic urges also bind their members.
      A human society and its culture constitutes a psycho-mental matrix, needed for the development of consciousness and individuality. But, necessary thought it be during the first phases of a person’s growth, emerging from such a socialcultural matrix and overcoming incessant pressures of one’s social environment is of a more difficult process than physical birth. Most human beings are content to grow in consciousness, feeling and mind within the molds provided by the name they receive at birth, their family and social tradition, and the type of knowledge, of standards and intellectual perspective acquired at school and in business or professional activity. They may develop as fine specimen of their culture, as "whole persons"; and in most historical periods this is, except in rare cases, all that a human being can do.
      There are times, however, when human beings of either sex can fulfill the inherent purpose of their birth, not merely being fine specimen of a collective culture, social or religious type, but by reaching toward super-cultural, super-intellectual and truly individualized state of consciousness and feeling. They can transcend the collective way of life and mentality of their class, group or nation; they can see through, and eventually transform the ego which often had to grow as an overbearing and rigid structure in order to deal with family and school pressures and the vagaries of interpersonal relationships.
      If they are successful in such a difficult and slow process, they find themselves, as it were, face to face with the universe, without cultural institutions and socio-religious prejudices or paradigms to determine for them what and how they should see this universe and act in it. They are open to forces and influences that may work toward the transformation of our culture, and of humanity as a whole – creative forces, high intelligences, perhaps divine beings, through which the vast process of human evolution and of planetary development operate. Such a transformation is not only possible, but necessary when a culture is gradually breaking down and its values have become perverted, or empty of meaning, and there is no longer real, vitalizing faith in institutions and their once great and inspiring symbols.
      We live now, all over the globe, in such a period. The challenge of total transformation – individual-personal and collective-social – is confronting us, if our eyes are open, our minds clear, and if our ego allows us to reach beyond its fears, and its insecure boundaries. When we are able to accept such a challenge, everything changes—including our approach to astrology. Our approach to ourselves, and therefore to our birth-chart – symbol of what we are as a person born at a particular time and place on earth’s surface – must be repolarized. A few centuries ago Humanism outlined the spiritual goal for human beings; how to be alive as a fully human person within the then flowering culture. But now another possibility has opened up. The spearhead of humanity has taken upon itself the crucial burden of self-transformation and world-transformation.
      For those who are able, willing and ready to meet the challenge, astrology should speak in another language; and indeed new planetary words have already taken form on the horizon of consciousness: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The integration of personality, of which Carl Jung eloquently spoke, is not a sufficiently dynamic and arousing ideal or goal. What drives the few individuals who are ready – or think they are ready – is the vision of a total transformation of the whole person. A transpersonal vision, demanding a transpersonal astrology.
      The word ‘transpersonal,’ which I began to use in articles for a small magazine The Glass Hive(1) in 1930, can be confusing, for the prefix "trans" has a double meaning. It can mean "beyond"; but its more essential meaning is "through." A transpersonal attitude may be one involving a reaching beyond the personal – and "ascent" of consciousness and will seeking to attain greater heights and "peak experiences." It is mostly in this sense that the word is used by the transpersonal movement in psychology. But a transpersonal process may also imply a "descent" of spiritual power focusing itself through a person, as diffused solar light is focused through a clear lens; and it is in this sense that I have always used it in the past.(2)
      Seen from a broad perspective, the ascent of consciousness and the descent of transforming power constitutes a single bipolar process; but in the life of a particular individual, one of the two polarities, or directions usually is emphasized. Each movement has its own requirements, its special modes of activity and its characteristic features. The mystic seeks union with the Divine; the avatar (or in a more limited sense, the truly creative genius) carries the transformative power of the Divine into the field of society and culture – perhaps even of matter itself. He fecundates this field with "seed ideas" and with the vision of the next phase of achievement in the evolution of planetary humanity. In both the avatar and the mystic, the I-sense – which today actually means the personal ego – has to be transformed and transfigured. But the mystic seeks either to make of his consciousness a quiet lake unrippled by ego tensions or conflicts, so that the light of the Divine may reflect itself upon the inner mirror of the pacified heart, or to completely lose himself in a "unitive state", while the Avatar and the "inspirited" (rather than merely inspired) genius or hero, uses his mind, his feelings, and even his total person as an accurately formed lens to focus the flow of whatever spiritual energy it is his burden of destiny to impress upon his mental, psychic, social or material environment. In many instances this energy has initially a destructive character – for the new reality has to emerge phoenix-like, out of the ashes of the consumed past; yet it need not totally shatter the obsolescent forms, if their inertia can be overcome by the fascinating power of the new vision.
      In all cases, a challenge to total transformation is presented – however gentle and persuasive the presentation. In the preceding part I spoke of the person’s birth chart as a mandala, saying that "no mandala makes sense unless we know to what its center refers." I stated that, for the humanistic astrologer, the mandala birth-chart should have man at its center, and not the earth globe. But we must go a step further. The center of the mandala may be a massive dark material – a physical body with its biological wants, or a matter-oriented ego. It can also be a "window" through which supermental light may pour. Closed center, open center. The higher purpose of astrology is to provide the individual human being with a knowledge of how best to act so that the closed center of the ego may open up to the power of his or her inherent destiny (dharma). As it fulfills, or at least sincerely and one pointedly attempts to fulfill this purpose, astrology acquires a transpersonal character.
      Transpersonal astrology develops on the foundation that humanistic astrology has built. It occupies itself not only, and in a sense not essentially, with what a person is, but what that person should be; that is, with what he could be if his actualized birth-potentialities were unreversably and effectively dedicated to the process of transformation, not only within his own nature, but within his socio-cultural and even geographic environment.
      Transpersonal astrology has a purposive, teleological character. It implies guidance; and therefore it makes extraordinary demands upon the astrologer, who should combine in himself or herself psychological understanding, openness to spiritual inner promptings, a basic knowledge of the character of the astrological symbols being used, and an impersonal love for whoever is seeking guidance. Technical proficiency is required of the astro-psychologist to the extent that his or her mind should be not only able to erect a correct chart for the exact moment and place of birth, but completely at ease with the "words" of the astrological language symbolizing basic conditions of human existence. Yet the transpersonal astrologer must go beyond the mere use of learned techniques, because every person confronting him with problems, uncertainties or fears is a unique case which has to be approached also in a unique way. The elements of the case are general, but their combination, and the place and time of the meeting, are particular and unrepeatable. They must be accepted, understood and used as a unique coming-together of two human beings, the astrologer and the client. It is this coming-together which should call down the descent of spirit – some might say, of divine "grace" (charis).
      Spirit is always focused upon and through particular and unique situations. God is that being who is totally focused at every point of space and every moment of time. Every horoscope potentially is such a focusing of divine purpose and intelligence. The transpersonal astrologer, if true to his or her high calling, should be able not merely to transmit a "celestial" message, but to translate the cosmic or archetypal into the existential, and to evoke the consciousness of his client (and the client is, for of all, himself) the outlines of the way following which what is potential and unconscious at birth not only can become consciously actualized in the months and years ahead, but already has been actualized, in most cases but partially and semi-consciously or unconsciously during the past years.
      To understand the past is far more important and constructive than to try to evoke an always uncertain (even if probable) future, for the present is dominated by the memories, the ghosts or engrams, and the expectations of the past. To say that one should live totally in the present is only a partially and relatively valid statement. A person may focus his attention upon the "now"; but the quality of that attention has been conditioned by the past – by a myriad of acts of attention and inattention. The quality CAN be changed, if the present center of consciousness is able to give a new and constructive meaning to depressing past events and responses. A person can be led to the realization that what had seemed, and is remembered as shattering and maiming experiences were actually a necessary prelude, either establishing existential foundations of truly individualized living, or shattering the Images, idols and prejudices imposed upon the growing person by family, culture and society – or even, if one can go that deeply into ancient roots of superpersonal being, by the traumas, failures and unfinished business (karma) of ancient personalities. These had been the present person’s predecessors in a series of "impersonations," each of which had attempted to express and actualize in earth-living one of the many aspects of a metaphysical Soul-potential (or Soul-filed) and at least were but partially successful in the endeavors, if not temporarily defeated.(3)
      Total transformation can only emerge out of total acceptance. The human being who is willing and ready to be a self-actualized and truly individualized person must find no fault in what he essentially is. He essentially is a celestial archetype; he is born at a particular time and in a particular location because the all-encompassing Harmony of the universe dictated that such an archetypal solution to a particular need in the three-dimensional world of physical existence should take form as a human organism. This archetypal solution is "coded" in the language of the sky as the birth-chart of a particular person. The humanistic astrologer tries to present to his client’s consciousness a concrete, existential picture of what the chart signifies – the tensions to be resolved as well as the special abilities, the conflicts to be harmonized, the possibilities of disintegration to be avoided, and the opportunities that can be expected for individual self-fulfillment. In other worlds, he tries to assist the client in what Carl Jung calls "the integration of the personality" – how to be a whole person.
      The transpersonal astrologer sees the astrological situation with which he is dealing in a different light – a sharp, penetrating light that illumines and guides a process of transformation. In that light, everything in the chart is to be used for transformation; and this may mainly be self-transformation, or in a more fated, because transpersonal way, the transformation of the individual’s socio-cultural environment in which his destiny is to act as a transforming agent. In such a light a basic conflict shown in the birth-chart need not be "harmonized" in terms of individual fulfillment; it may have instead to be used as a dynamic instrumentality able to produce definite effects in whatever has to be transformed. The goal is not personal happiness, but effectively focused action. Any individual seen as a "transforming agent" is essentially a warrior – whether he or she acts at a physical, cultural. Social, religious, or "occult" level. A book can be an act – an act of faith in man’s capacity for transformation. So can a symphony or the performance of an unusual and "revolutionary" musical work whose tones are meant to arouse psychic-emotional energies or mystical realizations in the hearer. Great paintings, great dramas can act in the same manner, whether for religious or socio-cultural purposes.
      According to such a transpersonal ideal, the birth-chart of a person is like a complex gong-tone in which many fundamental tones interact to produce a stirring vibration arousing some definite quality of existence in everything able to resonate to it, as it speeds through Earth-space. I am referring here not only to the magnificent large gongs of China and Indonesia, but as well to the bells of medieval cathedrals and even of humbler churches, in whose tones Joan of Arc heard voices that, through her deeds, transformed France and European culture. A birth-chart can be seen as a bell calling all the persons its "native" will meet to the process of transformation; but evidently, the native, whose chart it is, must have accepted the whole of his nature as a transforming situation. He must accept the crises, the perils, the suffering and anguish of the part of destiny that, by transforming him, will open his consciousness – nay, more, his total person – to the "descent" of the superpersonal power that, through him, but not from him, will transform others.
      The transpersonal way is a dangerous path. One should seek and follow it only if all else had proven empty and meaningless; if it is one’s "calling," one’s vocation. It is not necessarily related to great intelligence or unusual faculties and parentage. I repeat that the transforming action may operate at any level at which human beings and social groups live and have their being. It operates through symbols – symbols that have power.
      Astrological symbols have power because they are born out of the universal experience of light and order bestowed upon man by the sky. Power is concentrated in the symbols of all religions, the great myths based upon the lives of avatars and national heros – Krishna, the divine statesman and inspirer; the meditating Buddha; the crucified Christ; St. Francis embracing the leper; the emperor Charlemagne whose magnified struggles against Islam made him the hero of great epics; the Persian prophet, Baha’u’llah, chained for weeks among criminals at the bottom of an empty cistern and there realizing his avataric destiny consecrated to the unity of mankind; Sri Aurobindo who in his Pondicherry retreat sought to bring down into the realm of earth-matter the subliminal light of the "Super-mind" – to cite but a very few.
      There are as many paths to transformation as there are moments of time. Each moment calls for a possible new way to cut through the dark jungle of the biosphere and the chaotic karma of mankind. At each moment, and from a multitude of places, the great call resounds which John the Baptist voiced in the sadly translated wordMetanoia — which does not mean "repentance," but total transformation. This call resounds today in the space of our disintegrating Western civilization, as of old it did across Palestine. Its resonance could transform astrology as well as all the knowledge and the techniques – scientific and artistic – pompously taught in universities still bound to "classical" patterns. But such a transformation demands astrologers who, patiently but irrevocably, allow the transforming process to operate in their lives and have an irreversible faith in what it will bring to them and to the world, however distant its achievements and difficult the "walking on."

1. Rudhyar’s Glass Hive articles are now included in CyberWorld Khaldea’s Rudhyar Archival Project. Read On 'Personal' and'Impersonal' for the first statement on "transpersonal".  Return

2. Cf. Modern Man’s Conflicts: The Creative Challenge of a Global Society (Philosophical Library, New York; 1948), particularly the chapter entitled: "The Transpersonal Way and the New Manhood." [Parts of this out-of-print book are planned for inclusion in CyberWorld Khaldea’s Rudhyar Archival Project.] In my book Occult Preparations for a New Age (Quest Books; 1975), Part III, much more is said concerning the transpersonal way and those who full tread it – avatars, geniuses and heros. [CyberWorld Khaldea’s Rudhyar Archival Project hopes to bring you this important material].  Return

3. For a philosophical interpretation of the concept of reincarnation, read The Planetarization of Consciousness, Part Two.  Return

Read Part Four

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1972 and 1975 by Dane Rudhyar
All Rights Reserved.

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