SCENE NINE: COMBUSTION
(Leo 1° to Leo 15°)
FIRST LEVEL: ACTIONAL
PHASE 121 (LEO 1°): BLOOD RUSHES TO A MAN’S HEAD AS HIS VITAL ENERGIES ARE MOBILIZED UNDER THE SPUR OF AMBITION.
KEYNOTE: An irruption of bio-psychic energies into the ego-controlled field of consciousness.
The occult tradition speaks of three kinds of “Fire”: Electric fire, Solar Fire and Fire by friction. The three Fire signs of the zodiac correspond to these. Aries refers to the ‘descent’ of the spiritual energy of the Creative Word. In its material aspect we know this energy as electricity, and without electrical energy no life processes could exist. Leo represents Solar Fire, the energy which is released from an integrated person, either through spontaneous radiations of apparently nuclear forms of energy, or, at the truly human and conscious level (and also superhuman in more transcendent realms), through conscious emanations (e-mana-tions, from manas meaning ‘mind’ in Sanskrit. Sagittarius is related to the fire by friction, because all social processes are based on interpersonal relations, which imply polarization and often conflict.
The key symbol for Leo depicts a rising of energy from the heart to the head, a ‘mentalization’ process. However, this process is a potentially dangerous one. Thus the original wording of the symbolic scene seen by the clairvoyant referred to ‘a case of apoplexy’ – just as a person standing with their head uncovered for a long time in tropical regions could get sunstroke. The sun can destroy as well as vivify. Without it’s symbolical mate, water, it produces deserts on earth. The realization of atman, the spiritual self, the existence of a formed and steady ego – provided the ego can become a lens of pure crystal focusing the all-pervasive cosmic light of the Brahman without introducing the shadows of pride possessiveness and showmanship. But this ‘provided’ raises a very large question. The transmutation of ‘life’ into ‘mind’ is a difficult process.
This is the first stage of the twenty-fifth five-fold sequence of symbols which opens the ninth Scene. The keynote of ‘Combustion’ for the entire series of fifteen phases hardly needs interpretation. In a general sense the key word for this first degree of the sign Leo could be CONFLAGRATION. The energies of the biological drives as they irrupt, more or less forcefully, into the field of consciousness.
PHASE 122 (LEO 2°): AN EPIDEMIC OF THE MUMPS.
KEYNOTE: The spreading power of individual crises through a collectivity.
This symbol should be interpreted at two levels without evading the issues posed by its original wording. What does an epidemic imply and why mumps? The broad meaning of an epidemic is that one individual, if infected by a certain type of disease, can spread the disease to a vast number of persons in their environment, and in some cases all over the globe. In the proceeding symbol we were confronted with the individual crises, and its dangerous possibilities for the individual were implied. Now we deal with a process that affects the entire society; this obviously points out that the whole of mankind is potentially affected by, and thus, consciously or not, cannot help being involved in the critical situations faced by any individual or special group of people. Why then an epidemic of mumps? A childhood disease is implied, but it may have very serious consequences for adult men who catch it, since it affects not only all lymphatic glands, especially in the neck region, but also the testicles.
If the sign Aries symbolizes birth as a natural organism on this Earth, Leo represents (at least potentially) rebirth – at the level of the conscious and mind-based individuality. Thus in Leo man/woman, in this sense, is as yet only a ‘little child’ one might say a would-be initiate, an infant in spirit. The relation of the mumps to the sexual glands is characteristic, for the entrance into the realm of the conscious and individualized mind can affect the sex force, either through over-stimulation and irritation, or in terms of a deliberate ascetic deprivation.
This second stage symbol also provides a contrast with the first. What was an individual issue is now seen as a collective danger. Thus we are dealing with THE INFECTIOUS SPREAD OF INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCES.
PHASE 123 (LEO 3°): A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN, IN HER LONG HAIR FLOWING OVER HER SHOULDERS AND IN A BRA-LESS YOUTHFUL GARMENT.
KEYNOTE: The will to meet the challenge of age in terms of our modern society’s glorification of youth.
While the original reading of the symbol over fifty years ago spoke of the mature woman having dared to bob her hair, today a similar kind of rebellion against aging and the customs of late middle age would manifest itself in different ways. The meaning of the symbol can be extended to any desire an individual woman would have to claim her right to experiences of youth which may have been denied to her, especially when according to the fashion of the day such experiences are considered highly valuable.
This third stage symbol implies a reorientation of one’s ideal of action in relation to the collective mentality of the social environment; more particularly, a refusal by the individualized consciousness to be bound by biological or social standards. The Keyword: INDEPENDENCE
PHASE 124 (LEO 4°): A FORMALLY DRESSED ELDERLY MAN STANDS NEAR TROPHIES HE BROUGHT BACK FROM A HUNTING EXPEDITION.
KEYNOTE: The masculine will to conquer his animal nature and to impress his peers with his skill in performing the ancient traditional power rituals.
This symbol may be interpreted at the strictly social level – the hunter’s trophies, his pride in showing them to members of his high-class club, etc. But if one refers to the higher spiritual-mental implications of the sign Leo, one can see in this picture a reference to man’s capacity to overcome the animalistic tendencies of his bio-psychic nature according to certain traditional procedures. The implication of being ‘formally dressed’ is that an important if not the most important, goal the individual had in developing this capacity has been to ‘prove himself’ – to others, as well as perhaps to himself.
PHASE 123 (LEO 5°): ROCK FORMATIONS TOWER OVER A DEEP CANYON.
KEYNOTE: The structuring power of elemental forces during the long cycle of planetary evolution.
Dwarfing the time allowed to individual human beings, the vast periods of geological evolution not only awe our imagination, but allow the slow yet magnificent work of elemental forces as they mold landscapes and canyons, rocks and mountains. This symbol points to our need to acquire a much vaster perspective on what we are able to do - and on our yearning for prolonged youth and our pride in masculine achievements. The works of nature should make us feel humble and help us to 'planetarize' our consciousness.
This first stage symbol concludes the first level sequence. It stands in broad pictorial contrast to the first, or rather it seeks to impress us with our vanity as creators of forms and mental achievers. To the dramatic and proud Leo type, it presents a picture of IMPERSONALITY.
SECOND LEVEL: EMOTIONAL/CULTURAL
PHASE 126 (LEO 6°): A CONSERVATIVE, OLD-FASHIONED LADY IS CONFRONTED BY A "HIPPIE" GIRL.
KEYNOTE: The need to transcend our subservience to fashion, in morals as well as in clothes.
This refers to the ever-changing pageant of social values, as ideals of human relationship succeed one another, one generation facing in the next an antithetic picture of what it has been brought up to consider worthwhile and decent. The confrontation may lead to great bitterness, yet it should show us the impermanence of most of what society impresses upon our collective mentality.
This is the first stage of the twenty-sixth five-fold sequence of phases of the cyclic process. We are dealing now with cultural values and the emotional impact they have upon our character formation. Whereas the first degree of Leo dealt with an individual crisis of reorientation, the sixth degree refers to a collective, cultural and social crisis which challenges us to realize THE RELATIVITY OF SOCIAL VALUES.
PHASE 127 (LEO 7°): THE CONSTELLATIONS OF STARS SHINE BRILLIANTLY IN THE NIGHT SKY.
KEYNOTE: The power of basic spiritual values which refer to man's common humanity and to all enduring archetypes.
The experience of the night sky with its multitude of stars, especially brilliant in all the countries from which astrology came, is just as basic and archetypal an experience as that of sunrise, full moon and seasonal changes. Every people on this Earth has developed the concept of constellations, probably because of a need to find order in existence and to personalize everything that could be given a permanent form. Such personalizations can be called "psychic projections," but the projection concept should be worked out both ways. If man projects his basic human nature upon the star-filled night sky, is it not just as logical to say that the universe projects its own forever-evolving patterns of order upon human nature? In either case we deal with archetypal factors which endure through a long series of generations.
This second stage symbol once more stands in perfect contrast to the preceding one. The nearly unchanging patterns of star groups are opposed to the sequence of ever-changing fashions and social ideals. The Keyword here is PERMANENCE.
PHASE 128 (LEO 8°): A COMMUNIST ACTIVIST SPREADING HIS REVOLUTIONARY IDEALS.
KEYNOTE: The emotional and ideological attempt to return to a state of non-differentiation and chaos as a prelude to a new type of order.
This symbol, beyond all present-day socio-political controversy, represents the activity of destructive or catabolic forces (one aspect of the Indian god Shiva) in answer to the type of confrontation suggested by the symbol for Leo 6°. The old order is confronted by the youthful drive for a new way of life and a new sense of values. As the old order refuses to yield its prerogatives, this refusal polarizes violent revolutionary action. The revolutionary may have beautiful dreams of a "classless" society free from greed and harsh struggles for survival, but the first practical result of his activity almost inevitably appears as "chaos." Yet chaos is a state of being that calls for a new descent of the power to reorganize and differentiate. Alas, such a descent most often is still based on old concepts, and one witnesses a struggle for personal and dictatorial power.
This is the third stage of the twenty-sixth sequence of five phases, and ideally it could show how the vision of a cosmic order (stage two) might heal the potential conflict between an obsolete Establishment and its youthful challengers (stage one). But reality today presents a more cruel picture of CATABOLIC ACTION.
PHASE 129 (LEO 9°): GLASS BLOWERS SHAPE BEAUTIFUL VASES WITH THEIR CONTROLLED BREATHING.
KEYNOTE: The need to involve one's most spiritual and vital energies in the creative act' if it is to produce significant and beautiful new forms.
The breath represents the power of the spirit, animator of all living manifestations. Because the glass blower uses his breath to shape the glass vessels, he is a fitting symbol of how deeply any creative individual has to involve his total being in his creation. He is also using the fire of the spirit — transpersonal inspiration — or, in another sense, the fire of deeply felt emotions. Any creative activity which does not involve both the "breath" and the "fire" cannot transform into beautiful artworks — or indeed into any new form of order — the raw materials, remains of the past (the "sand").
This fourth stage of the twenty-sixth sequence symbolically shows us the technique required in true and successful transforming activity. It always implies CREATIVE INTENSITY.
PHASE 130 (LEO 10°): EARLY MORNING DEW SPARKLES AS SUNLIGHT FLOODS THE FIELD.
KEYNOTE: The exalted feeling that rises within the soul of the individual who has successfully passed through the long night which has tested his strength and his faith.
The cold air of night having precipitated upon the field of man's consciousness the moisture of his deepest feelings, this widely spread dew is blessed with the light of significance by the rising sun of the new day. Even tears can be transformed into jewels in the light of victory over night and sorrow.
At this fifth stage of the present sequence we see the potential culmination of the process which began on a note of social and cultural crisis. The would-be reformer has to meet many emotional problems as he begins his work of creation. Creation means transformation; the reformer is actually a transformer if he is truly a creative and inspired individual open to the spirit that "makes everything new." The building of a new society, and of one's renewed personality as well, is just as much a process of artistic creation as the making of a delicate glass vase or a symphony. The Keyword is TRANSFIGURATION.
THIRD LEVEL: INDIVIDUAL/MENTAL
PHASE 131 (LEO 11°): CHILDREN PLAY ON A SWING HANGING FROM THE BRANCHES OF A HUGE OAK TREE.
KEYNOTE: The power of tradition as it shelters the beginnings of individual self-expression.
The great Tradition of mankind has been symbolized by a vast tree, every spiritual Teacher being one of its many branches issuing from the one trunk of a primordial Revelation. As a man begins his spiritual journey he is like a child in a state of excitement, playing with rhythmic up-and-down moods. He plays with words and concepts which "hang" from the "branches" of the Tradition — and often the whole quest is mainly a game for him. Yet he is securely held by the tree, protected by its foliage from too great and burning a light.
This begins the twenty-seventh five-fold sequence of symbols; it deals essentially with the release of emotional intensity at various levels of the individualized consciousness as it reacts to the newly developed potentialities of the mind. We are dealing at this first stage with the SPONTANEOUS ACTIVITY OF THE INNOCENT MIND.
PHASE 132 (LEO 12°): AN EVENING PARTY OF ADULTS ON A LAWN ILLUMINED BY FANCY LANTERNS.
KEYNOTE: Group-relaxation in fashionable surroundings as an escape from work routine.
While the preceding symbol dealt with the simple and spontaneous pleasure of children, this one refers to the more or less standardized and fashion-dictated relaxation of adults who have left behind their day's work and are exchanging pleasantries and gossip. The "lawn" and the "lanterns" are cultivated; the type of mind displayed in the animated conversations, stimulated by liquor, is thoroughly socialized and not always innocent. The great Tradition has become reduced to a mere social fashion.
This second stage symbol contrasts with that of the first phase. We have now reached a stage of SOPHISTICATION and involvement in externals and superficial intellectuality or wit.
PHASE 133 (LEO 13°): AN OLD SEA CAPTAIN ROCKING HIMSELF ON THE PORCH OF HIS COTTAGE.
KEYNOTE: The quieted mind's recollections of crises and joys long past.
The sea captain has steered the ship of his ego-consciousness through seas and storms, maintaining the integrity of his individual selfhood while in close contact with the collective Unconscious. Now retired, he may try to distill wisdom from his many experiences and from his victories over elemental forces. The "swing" of the child-consciousness has now become a "rocking chair" from which one can contemplate past as well as present scenes, gently moving as waves roll over the shore. Peace at last.
At this third stage we find the consciousness of old age, after having witnessed the spontaneous play of children close to protective nature (Leo 11°) and the fashionable social parties of escaping adults (Leo 12°); three phases of mental development. Keyword: QUIET RECOLLECTION.
PHASE 134 (LEO 14°): A HUMAN SOUL SEEKING OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUTWARD MANIFESTATION.
KEYNOTE: The yearning for self-actualization.
Behind the many rhythms and drives of individual existence, beyond the child, the adult and the old man, stands the soul seeking always to manifest itself through the personality. This is the transpersonal urge of the spirit, expressing itself in many ways during the whole life span. But most avenues are blocked, and the soul waits until it can wait no longer. Then comes the dramatic release, which may mean a joyous carnival or madness.
The fourth stage of this twenty-seventh sequence brings a transcendental clue to the technique of living: Let the soul speak out! Allow the power of the true tone of your being to manifest itself smoothly, easily, unobstructed — or expect a variety of consequences. LET the soul manifest!
PHASE 135 (LEO 15°): A PAGEANT, WITH ITS SPECTACULAR FLOATS, MOVES ALONG A STREET CROWDED WITH CHEERING PEOPLE.
KEYNOTE: The more or less sensational release of energies in a form dramatizing the unconscious aspirations of man's primitive and instinctual nature.
This last picture of the series dealing with the ninth scene, "Combustion," recalls in a collective sense the dramatic event represented by the first (Leo 1°). The street pageant, perhaps a tumultuous carnival, brings men and women to a peak of emotional excitement, and perhaps incandescence. But the pageant had to be planned carefully by individual minds that sought to express themselves in the process of giving a concrete form to the desires and expectations of the collective crowd. The theatricality of the Leo type is fully expressed here.
This is the fifth stage of the twenty-seventh five-fold sequence of phases. At this stage the mind of the individual is able to give a public DEMONSTRATION of his ability to sway the multitudes by a dramatic presentation of popularized ideals. This leads to a new scene on the cyclic journey around one's own universe, symbolized by the signs of the zodiac.
An Astrological Mandala