SCENE TWENTY: GROUP-PERFORMANCE
(Capricorn 16° to Capricorn 30°)
FIRST LEVEL: ACTIONAL
PHASE 286 (CAPRICORN 16°): SCHOOL GROUNDS FILLED WITH BOYS AND GIRLS IN GYMNASIUM SUITS.
KEYNOTE: The need for physical activity and play, especially in adolescence.
Society has learned that a balanced combination of intellectual study and physical activity is necessary for the harmonious development of the human personality. Adults often forget this under the pressure of money-making and other duties, and this symbol reminds us of it.
This is the first stage of the fifty-eighth five-fold sequence which begins Scene Twenty of the cyclic ritual. It shows how we normally depend upon physical stimulation and EXERCISE for the maintenance of our health, and therefore of an equally healthy society.
PHASE 287 (CAPRICORN 17°): A REPRESSED WOMAN FINDS A PSYCHOLOGICAL RELEASE IN NUDISM.
KEYNOTE: The escape from bondage to social inhibitions and a reliance upon the wisdom of the body.
Under the pressure of religions that have created a sharp and unwholesome division between soul and body, society has produced strict codes of values regarding the play of natural instincts, and has glorified them under the name of "decency" and "modesty." The growing trend toward nudism — which of course has nothing to do with the "pornographic" display of one's body — is a welcome protest against the depressing and neurosis-generating puritanism of the past. Men and women are demanding a psychologically as well as physically healthful freedom of the body as a means of overcoming the hypocrisy and constrictions of social behavior.
In this second stage symbol we see how our society has been able to repress and distort the natural activity of the human body and its sensitivity to the elements. Thus a contrast is established between healthy youth at play and the neurotic subservience to a socio-religious tradition. The symbol is a call for RELEASE FROM INHIBITIONS.
PHASE 288 (CAPRICORN 18°): THE UNION JACK FLAG FLIES FROM A BRITISH WARSHIP.
KEYNOTE: The protection afforded to individuals and groups by powerful institutions in charge of maintaining order.
This symbol reflects conditions prevailing in the past when Great Britain's fleet was policing the seas under the international principle of the freedom of the seas. Times have changed, but the concept remains valid. Power is required to maintain social order and relatively peaceful interpersonal as well as international relationships. Alas, this power can easily be misused under the pretext of preserving "law and order." Justice and compassion must balance social power, and especially the power of privileged groups. Where this symbol appears, the need for protection may be in evidence — or it may be a warning against using power for selfish advantage.
This is the third symbol in the fifty-eighth five-fold sequence. It brings to us a realization of the ambivalence of POLITICAL POWER, its value and its dangers.
PHASE 289 (CAPRICORN 19°): A FIVE-YEAR-OLD CHILD CARRYING A BAG FILLED WITH GROCERIES.
KEYNOTE: Rising to the occasion when asked to assume social responsibilities ahead of one's normal development.
What seems to be implied at this stage of the cyclic process is the value of early conditioning in teaching one how to fulfill the responsibilities of everyday life in our modern society. This twentieth scene of the complete process has been entitled "Group performance," and today it is evident that Children at an early age are expected to assume a family role which at times will strain their natural capacities. This is part of the accelerating pace of our technological society.
This fourth stage symbol evokes the possibility of meeting a certain type of social opportunity which normally may seem premature. A pattern of ACCELERATED GROWTH can thus be established, with both positive and negative aspects. Rushing ahead of one's natural development may be damaging; yet we are living in a particularly dynamic period of man's evolution.
PHASE 290 (CAPRICORN 20°): A HIDDEN CHOIR IS SINGING DURING A RELIGIOUS SERVICE.
KEYNOTE: The fulfillment of the individual's creative function through his participation in a group performance consecrated to a transcendent realization of unity.
In great cathedrals and other religious edifices the choir is normally hidden behind the altar or above the nave. It symbolizes thus more perfectly the supernal harmony of "heaven" — or the music of the spheres. The ideal of social participation is exalted to its highest manifestation, for the choir also represents the multifaceted and polyphonic unity of the community in its transcendent state of perfect harmony. Within this harmony the individual who has overcome his egocentric separativeness and developed his higher consciousness finds fulfillment in super-personal togetherness.
This is the fifth and last symbol of this fifty-eighth sequence. It presents us with the purest form of group-harmony, the most basic yet most difficult fulfillment of the social state. At the level of the individual person this "hidden choir" would refer to the polyphonic integration of all faculties in their most spiritual manifestations: the ideal of PLENITUDE of being.
SECOND LEVEL: EMOTIONAL/CULTURAL
PHASE 291 (CAPRICORN 21°): A RELAY RACE.
KEYNOTE: The value of competition in developing group-consciousness.
Here we are no longer dealing with competition between individuals, but with competition between groups of individuals who take turns successively in order to maximize the group effort and the possibility of outstanding results. The whole of civilization is a vast kind of relay race in which groups of people and generations carry the torch of what we call "progress." Major achievements result from the sum total of human strivings.
This first symbol of the fifty-ninth sequence stresses one especially dynamic aspect of "group performance." Wherever this symbol appears, it emphasizes the value of group cooperation and of necessary give-and-take. One must seek to relate and adjust one's strength to the challenge presented by competitors in DYNAMIC INTERCHANGE.
PHASE 292 (CAPRICORN 22°): BY ACCEPTING DEFEAT GRACEFULLY, A GENERAL REVEALS NOBILITY OF CHARACTER.
KEYNOTE: The realization that one may grow through defeat as well as, and perhaps more than, through success.
While the preceding symbol referred to the drive toward success in culturally organized collective endeavors, this one presents us with the possibility of turning apparent external defeat into an inner spiritual achievement. We have recently seen how
totally vanquished nations (Germany and Japan) have leaped forward and achieved great economic success. Much depends on the quality of the will and the inner integrity of the person.
At this second stage we find what seems to be a paradox, but the spiritual life is always paradoxical. The great sinner can become the most renowned saint, and a medieval Pope a criminal. What matters most always is INNER STRENGTH.
PHASE 293 (CAPRICORN 23°): A SOLDIER RECEIVING TWO AWARDS FOR BRAVERY IN COMBAT.
KEYNOTE: The reward offered by society for the fulfillment of individual responsibility.
The fact that "two" awards are emphasized makes us believe that this may refer subtly to the recognition by the community that, whether he succeeded or failed, an individual who discharged his duty nobly under unusual circumstances is entitled to the respect and appreciation of the collectivity he served so well. What is implied here is a constant give-and-take between society and the individual person. Each one should be able to trust the other.
This third symbol of the fifty-ninth five-fold sequence extracts, as it were, a common element from the two preceding scenes. The Keyword here is RECOMPENSE, i.e. a compensation for a well-done performance — a balancing of accounts.
PHASE 294 (CAPRICORN 24°): A WOMAN ENTERING A CONVENT.
KEYNOTE: Total commitment to a transcendent goal.
A convent is a place made available by a community which believes in the possibility of reaching a world-transcending state of consciousness. It is made available to individuals who may be variously motivated. To some it is an escape from the intolerable pressures of family and society; to others it represents the possibility of pursuing in peace a spiritual ideal to which the whole being aspires and is totally dedicated. The important point, in this phase of the cyclic process, is that the existence of a convent expresses another aspect of the relationship between the society (its religion and culture) and the individual. In the preceding symbol society rewarded the individual for a noble performance in its service; here society accepts the fact that beyond its daily normal patterns of behavior and commitments, another way of life exists which, in a higher sense, also has social value. In the old Hindu society dominated by a rigid caste system, the ideal embodied in the sannyasi — the wandering holy man or yogi meditating in a forest or a cave, who had entirely given up all that caste implied — was seen to be the very culmination of the social process.
In this fourth stage symbol we see the paradoxical nature of the social process operating more strongly than ever. This derives from the fact that man's nature contains in seed the possibility of overcoming and transcending itself in acts of complete denials and of surrender to a "higher" Law or quality of being. All spiritual techniques are indeed paradoxical. Rigid discipline conditions pure inner freedom. The final goal is the attainment of TRANSCENDENT SECURITY.
PHASE 295 (CAPRICORN 25°): A STORE FILLED WITH PRECIOUS ORIENTAL RUGS.
KEYNOTE: The use of cultural and artistic processes as means to enhance personal comfort and appreciation.
Corning after the preceding symbol this one brings us back to the material, yet esthetic, aspect of the benefits a society can bring its members. A "rug" always implied to some extent something on which a person stands or sits. It is a foundation for cultural "under-standing," and as such it can have a magical or sacred meaning, as in the case of prayer rugs. The "woman in a convent" probably knows only the bare floor, because her goal is one of transcendence, of surrendering comfort as well as cultural patterns. But to the social elite, or even to the oriental devotee praying to his god, society offers the relative comfort of beautiful rugs so he may meet the universe, not merely in terms of the support the natural soil gives, but protected by and securely established on the mental-spiritual as well as manual achievements of those who keep the cultural symbols alive.
This is the last symbol in the fifty-ninth five-fold sequence. It shows the beautiful products of dedicated and inspired group performance at the level of tradition. It emphasizes the value of RELIANCE ON TRADITION.
THIRD LEVEL: INDIVIDUAL/MENTAL
PHASE 296 (CAPRICORN 26°): A NATURE SPIRIT DANCING IN THE IRIDESCENT MIST OF A WATERFALL.
KEYNOTE: The ability to perceive the hidden and creative spirit of natural phenomena.
The Sabian symbols make several references to nature spirits Here we are dealing with the revelation of the spiritual or psychic forces related to the element water. Water binds all living cells in a wholesome interplay. It symbolizes the constant flow of vital energies, the fluidity of a consciousness which finds itself stimulated by change. The great cycle of water within the earth's biosphere (oceans, clouds, rain, river) symbolizes the basic phases of universal life processes, the ascent and descent of emotional energies and of love. We can personify these phases and speak of "the soul of nature," and at a cosmic level of "the World-Soul," anima mundi. Water is the substance of the telluric manifestations of this soul. It is a magical substance, and modern chemists are rediscovering in their study of its unusual behavior in certain situations what old Alchemists in their own way no doubt understood.
This is the first stage of the sixtieth subcycle, and it presents us with a deep intuition of super-physical energies which at the end of this five-fold sequence we will see fully mastered (Phase 300). The consciousness here becomes sensitized to the downward flow of OCCULT ENERGY in its bountiful natural aspect.
PHASE 297 (CAPRICORN 27°): PILGRIMS CLIMBING THE STEEP STEPS LEADING TO A MOUNTAIN SHRINE.
KEYNOTE: The ascent of the individualized consciousness to the highest realizations reached by the spiritual leaders of its culture.
We hear a great deal now about "peak experiences," but this symbol tells us that they depend to a very great extent upon following a path that many have trod before, under the inspiration of the great Teachers and Sages of our race. The shrine is built by the unceasing dedication of perhaps generations of men. The pilgrimage is hallowed by the devotion of many, even though each person finds on their own mountaintop what to them seems a unique and transcendent revelation.
In this second stage symbol we witness the rise of the human consciousness; the preceding symbol spoke of what one may picture as the "descent" of the energies of nature which, like water, flow down toward a lower level of intensity. It is man's supreme task to rise like fire, impelled by a vision they share with their companions. The Keyword: UPREACHING.
PHASE 108 (CAPRICORN 28°): A LARGE AVIARY.
KEYNOTE: The enjoyment of spiritual values by the soul able to familiarize itself with their implications.
Birds symbolize spiritual forces, and the aviary presents us with a picture of these forces or desires contained within a mind open to the light of psychic or Soul realities, and bringing joy and harmony to the consciousness. The strenuous ascent represented by the preceding scene changes into a picture of familiarity with inspiring experiences. Yet this familiarity may
also suggest a lack of spontaneity and of the thrill of discovery. To use modern terms, the peak experiences have become those of a high plateau, at which level one may lose one's sense of direction at times.
This is the third stage in the sixtieth sequence of phases which lead to group mastery of cosmic energies. The youthful effort to reach the summits of cultural and spiritual attainment has settled down into a complex state of inspiration — a state which at times may bring confusion because of the multiplicity of the voices to which one has become open. One may speak here of CLAIRAUDIENCE, meaning a capacity for being responsive to many inner voices.
PHASE 209 (CAPRICORN 29°): A WOMAN READING TEA LEAVES.
KEYNOTE: The ability to see the Signature of hidden meaning in every occurrence drawing one's attention.
Man has always sought to interpret the meaning of events or situations which baffle him in terms of specific omens or "Signatures." The reading of tea leaves is only a commonplace modern version of a certain type of procedure used by priests of all ancient religions. The practice is based on a realization of "the relation of everything to everything else" — a definition of astrology given by Marc Jones. Dream interpretation in depth psychology belongs to the same category, as it is based upon the establishment of a close connection between the unconscious and the conscious. But in dream analysis the individual unconscious, at least at first, is mainly referred to, while in omens (or modern fortune-telling at its best) one relies upon the power of occult forces or entities to convey the information that will clarify confusing situations.
This fourth stage symbol can be referred to a specific "technique" of understanding or evaluation. What is implied is the ability not only to perceive the facts of everyday existence, but to see through these facts and discover how they are related to the realm of basic meanings or archetypal processes. This is essentially what is meant by true CLAIRVOYANCE, the capacity to see in everything the Signature of deeper realities.
PHASE 300 (CAPRICORN 30°): A SECRET MEETING OF MEN RESPONSIBLE FOR EXECUTIVE DECISIONS IN WORLD AFFAIRS.
KEYNOTE: The power to assume responsibility for crucial choices arrived at after mature discussions with those who share this power.
We are all aware now of the work of secret committees in the White House and at all levels of the government. The student of esoteric philosophy believes in the existence of what has been called an "inner Government" which has the power to direct or guide the evolution of our planet and of mankind. Some people speak of "occult Hierarchy," or of the "White Lodge." Here again what is at stake is a "seeing through" the facts of telluric processes and human history — assuming that these facts are at least in part the outcome of the decisions of a supreme Council of quasi-divine Beings. Obviously the symbol can also refer to what occurs at the more ordinary level of business and politics. At any level, it refers to the highest form of social interaction.
This is the last symbol belonging to Scene Twenty and related to the zodiacal sign Capricorn. We see in it the culmination of social responsibility and a reference to EXECUTIVE POWER.
An Astrological Mandala