FAMILIAR ASPECTS: INVOLUTION/DEVOLUTION
Leyla Rael & Dane Rudhyar
I. Growth Through Spontaneous Activity
The first half of any cyclic process is dominated by 'life' or necessity. Something new - whatever it may be - needs or is karmically impelled to be born. It has to struggle to overcome the inertia and 'unfinished business' of the past out of which it is to be born; it has to gradually steady and focus itself; establish itself in the world in a definite way; sever its connection to whatever in the formative period of its life molded and conditioned it but now hinders it from fulfilling its highest potentialities; integrate itself into its environment as harmoniously as possible; and finally, come to as full a fruition as possible in order to actually satisfy the need for which it was born, grew and developed.
This is a basic outline of the first half of any cyclic process. It is called the involutionary hemicycle, because a spiritual potentiality or karmic necessity involves or incorporates itself in matter, in the world of actual forms, during this half of the process. In terms of human beings, 'actual forms' can refer to forms of behavior, talents or capabilities, or to more concrete productions such as works of art, life-works, a business firm, an interpersonal relationship or family unit, etc. In the world of nature, 'taking actual form' is expressed in the process whereby a seed germinates and develops into a mature, flowering and, eventually, seed-producing plant. Regardless of what is developing, or the vehicle or form through which it develops, the first hemicycle of any process refers to a series of phases in which spontaneous growth in answer to a need occurs. The need may be an 'inner' one, that is, within the organism in whose life the growing is taking place, or an 'outer' one, a need in or of the environment - which can be social or psychic as well as physical and natural. Something grows and develops during the first hemicycle of a process because the need exists for what it can potentially become.
Spontaneous growth in answer to a need is subjective, instinctual and unselfconscious, carried along, as it were, on a wave of nature-born impulsions. A slender green shoot reaches up through the dark crust of earth into light. Sinking roots, soaring stem, reaching branches, light-collecting leaves. . . exquisite flower-each in turn is planthood's answer to the warmth of Sun, the love of caressing breezes and nourishing, moist earth. A baby grows in the same way. He explores, first, his own body, then the possibilities of his immediate, multi-colored surroundings because 'life' in him is intrigued. Human life grows and explores itself, not yet knowing it is itself, through him. He, and all humanity behind and 'in' him, struggle to master wiggly, wobbly limbs and walk upright; he babbles, then speaks, and 'humanhood' not yet 'I' expresses itself through his lips. To exteriorize what is latent within; to allow it to express itself through one by building the necessary forms and structures to contain it and mastering the necessary motions and tasks: this is the involutionary challenge. Through such a process, the universal within rushes out and incarnates in the particular. And in the process, the form-builder awakens. Reflected in the fruit of his labor he discovers and recognizes himself 'I'.
In this involutionary process, life moves forth spontaneously in the simplest kind of rhythm, one step after another, each step adding itself to the preceding ones in sheer impulsiveness of being: one, one plus one, one plus one plus one, etc. The arithmetic progression thus formed is an exuberant rhythm of expansion and conquest. Such a rhythm is found in the series of astrological aspects occurring between two planets' conjunction and opposition, between the time they come together in the sky and the time they face each other at opposite ends of the horizon, as far apart as they can be. It is the rhythm of the waxing Moon, each 30° Crescent-step adding itself to itself from New Moon to Full Moon. It is the rhythm of solar progress through the year, each step defining the limits of a zodiacal sign" month after month following the vernal equinox-the symbolic beginning of natural activity and biological growth.
Translated into aspects, such a rhythm spanning the involutionary hemicycle contains six phases or steps-from 0° to 30°, 30° to 60°, 60° to 90°, 90° to 120°, 120° to 150°, 150° to 180°. Seven aspects -an important number in all occult traditions - are formed: conjunction, semi-sextile (30°), sextile (60°), square (90°), trine (120°), quincunx (150°), opposition (180)°. During the waxing hemicycle of the lunation cycle, the Moon grows in size, and similarly, during the 'waxing' hemicycle of aspects between two planets, their angular distances from one another - the size of the aspects also increase. But just as important as the aspects themselves are the phases of interrelationship between aspect formation. Growth and development occur between aspects; aspects are turning points which give structure and direction to the process of growth.
A cycle of aspects between two planets refers to the process whereby the functional activities represented by each planet grow and develop in cooperation with one another. Some life-task or function that cannot be performed by either planet's function alone must be developed by both together. At the conjunction beginning the cycle of aspects, the functional activity represented by the slower planet gives, as it were, a new direction, orientation or creative impetus to the activities represented by the faster planet. As the faster planet moves away from the slower, it 'carries out' this new impulse, incorporating it into its activities. New forms - forms of behavior, interpersonal relating or relationships, sociocultural forms such as institutions, or more concrete forms like objects - are engendered along the way.
As the faster planet moves farther away from the slower planet, it - like the waxing Moon in relation to the Sun - reflects more and more of the slower planet's 'light.' The faster planet becomes increasingly capable of incorporating the meaning of the slower planet's activities into its own. Finally, at the opposition between the two planets, the symbolical Full Moon, the faster planet has become in a sense the 'equal' of the slower planet, fully manifesting in its own way the new direction given to its activities at the conjunction, reflecting back to Earth the fullness of its accomplishments.
For example, when related to human activity, a cycle of aspects between Venus and Mars refers to the need and opportunity to bring the personal-emotional nature to a new level of functioning or self-expression. This may mean giving a new value to the capacity for personal-emotional self-expression, or expressing oneself in new fields or at new levels of activities. At the Venus/Mars conjunction, the outward-bound activity-orientation of Mars gives a new direction and impetus to Venus' inwardly directed sense of value. In the earliest stages of the relationship between the two planets, the new orientation must focus itself at the level of subjective experience and overcome the inertia of past patterns of feeling and behaving. As the personal-emotional nature steadies itself at the new level or in the new direction, it must express itself as an objective factor. To do so it takes on or produces forms, the form of a relationship between persons; or perhaps another kind of creative, self-expressive ability, as in the arts, develops. The personal-emotional development or reorientation thus becomes embodied in its creations. At the Venus/Mars opposition - cycle's culmination - these forms have become, as it were, a mirror: the personal-emotional nature having created them is plainly or elaborately reflected in its creations. Through the involutionary process, what began subjectively and unconsciously has become objectively manifest and self-conscious.
Every person is born at some stage of the Venus/Mars cycle, although for now we are concerned only with the 'waxing' or involutionary phases of such a process. A particular phase in the process of personal-emotional development is 'frozen' into everyone's chart at birth, and the natal phase-relationship between Venus and Mars refers to the basic stage of personal-emotional development or self-expression which must be fulfilled, i.e., made actual, over the course of the person's life.
The same is true regarding every other possible planetary pair, for there are no times when two planets are not related in some way. They are all in the solar system together; they are all part of the whole planetary pattern. Two planets are therefore always in some phase of cyclic relationship with one another. They become in particularly significant relationship when their angular distance from one another measures to certain values. They then form 'aspects,' which refer to definite steps and/or turning points in the process. In other words, Mars and Jupiter, say, are just as related when they are separated by 100° as when they are separated by 120°. But when their relationship comes to measure in the vicinity of 120°, the quality of it takes on a particular significance; actions related to these two planetary functions should-because it is necessary for them to-lead to more easily recognized and definable types of results.
Nothing else is meant by the fact that two planets form a trine or any other type of aspect: the association of functions represented by the aspecting planets should lead to a particular type of result because that is what is needed at a particular phase of a developing process.
An aspect's presence in a natal chart attests to the fact that the need for a particular kind of becoming exists, and that the capacity for it is also there; life cooperates by 'setting the stage' and providing the necessary opportunities and challenges, even though some of these may come in the guise of crisis or neurosis, hardly recognizable for what they truly are. Again, all planets, their mutual aspects or phase-relationships not in exact aspect are integrated together into the whole of every birth-chart. Each need and potentiality of being and becoming provides an impetus, foundation and resources with which to work for all the rest - such interaction being most focal between and among patterns of interrelated aspects, i.e., configurations in which several aspects are involved.
Here we are perhaps getting a little ahead of ourselves. For before discussing interrelated aspects we should first ask, "What are the phases of becoming, the developmental steps marked by aspects of the involutionary hemicycle? How does each operate when focalized into a birth-chart?"
Phase 1 - Subjective Being
Just as a seed can be considered either a starting point or an end product, so too may the conjunction be considered the first or the last of the series of aspects. And like a seed, an exact conjunction refers to a 'moment' of pure potentiality. In practice, however, exact conjunctions are very rare, there almost always being some number of minutes, however few, either short or over two planets' occupying the same longitudinal position. In traditional terms, a usual conjunction (that is, one between planets separated by no more than 7° or, at the most 10°) can be either applying or separating. In the former instance, the faster planet moves toward the slower, toward the conjunction that will end the current cycle. In the latter case, the faster planet moves away from the slower, thus away from the conjunction beginning a new cycle of relationships and beginning the involutionary hemicycle of aspects. Both types of conjunctions refer to the need and capacity for a very special type of activity: activity close to the source. The applying conjunction refers to activity nearly withdrawn into subjective synthesis at the end of a cycle; the separating conjunction refers to activity still very subjective (beginning of a cycle).
As an applying conjunction forms to end a cycle, the need the next opening cycle will attempt to fulfill becomes, as it were, 'set' or formulated in a particular way. When the conjunction is exact, it represents the actual release of a new energy or power, of a new possibility of developing what the two planets represent together at a new level or in some new field - in order to satisfy the needs left unfulfilled by the previous cycle, in order to build upon its accomplishments in a progressive way. As the conjunction separates, the potency released at the moment of exact conjunction is symbolically distributed. At this bare beginning of the cycle, however, everything toward which the new release is directed exists only as a potentiality which has to be developed. The conjunction beginning a cycle is the symbolic New Moon - the absence of the Moon from the night-sky. This means pure subjectivity, for there is as yet nothing outward to reflect anything back to the consciousness at first wholly preoccupied with its subjective experience of new power and possibilities.
Because a process is only starting to operate, the person in whose chart a (or several) conjunction(s) appears may seem to be overly concerned with the functions represented by the conjoining planets. Such subjective experience almost inevitably includes an element of confusion and, psychologically speaking, projection activities and consciousness of the person with an involutionary junction in his or her birth-chart may reveal an inability to distinguish between inner wishes, dreams or feelings and actual realities in the outer world. For if one were able to consciously sort out new possibilities, plan to go in a particular direction and act to start 'getting there,' one would not be barely beginning a new cycle. By definition one would be much farther along in a process. New possibilities just barely beginning to be subjectively felt are meant to be fascinating, although they can be obsessively so, as well as overwhelming. This is especially so at the beginning of a cycle when a rush of new possibilities is almost inevitably juxtaposed against the lingering patterns - however obsolete or binding - of the past.
The, first category or type, of relationships between planets i.e., when two planets are from 0° to 30° apart, from conjunction to semi-sextile - therefore present the need to focus new possibilities at an existential level. This necessarily means having to meet and at least tentatively overcome the pressure of the past, or at the very least - to render its "ghosts" psychologically ineffectual. In so doing, one born with planets in conjunction gradually discovers the limits and the special purpose of the beginning of the particular cycle, at least insofar as it can be felt or apprehended in his or her life.
Two factors are especially important regarding conjunctions in natal charts: house position of the conjunction and how the conjunction is integrated into the overall planetary pattern. Through the experiences represented by the conjunction's house the person can best, and will be challenged to, exemplify - i.e., focus at the existential level in his or her life - the new possibilities represented by the conjunction. These experiences become a source of the power and material with which other related planets and aspects operate. The zodiacal sign in which the conjunction occurs merely indicates the type of power - potency - being released.
A full and conscious understanding of what a conjunction refers to is entirely a secondary matter for the person in whose chart one or several appear. Activity is more significant - than consciousness during the waxing or involutionary hemicycle. For activity at - first spontaneous, instinct-ruled or even compulsive, is what will eventually 'awaken' or give birth to a new level of consciousness, in a new way at the opposition. Consciousness thus evoked will develop and evolve through the second or 'waning' hemicycle of the process. Thus, the most significant meaning that can be given to a conjunction is an actional, or rather pre-actional one - to allow the potency it denotes to manifest in one's life, especially in the area of life indicated by the house in which the conjunction falls.
A conjunction in a birth-chart can be seen, figuratively speaking, as a 'well-spring' through which potency 'close to the source' - and therefore relatively unpolluted - can flow into one's life, if one allows it to happen. The conjunctions aspects and phase-relationships with the other planets reveal how that potency 'wants' naturally to be distributed in other areas of life; where, if there are other aspects, especially oppositions, involved, the results of allowing the conjunction's potency to operate in one's life can be more objectively manifest and consciously known and interpreted.
Disagreement about allowable orbs notwithstanding, we should perhaps enlarge our conception about conjunctions, and learn to see aspects in a birth-chart as having been dynamically formed, that is, as stations along a continuum of meaningful relationships. Two planets in the same sign (or even in adjacent signs and not yet 30° apart) still carry the quality of the beginning of a cycle. They are still distributing the 'close to the source' potency of what was released at the exact conjunction in a relatively spontaneous way. If a third planet 'waxing' away from the two conjoining ones happens to aspect or broadly oppose the degrees on and following which the separating conjunction has spanned, the third planet's function (and house) can act to focus or objectively manifest the possibilities - still in their formative phases - of what the conjunction released. In other words, a planet opposing even a widely separating conjunction (perhaps especially a widely separating conjunction, for its potency is more 'widely' distributed and its subjectivity less intense) helps to focus and challenge to actual manifestation the power and possibilities released and made available through the conjunction. This is perhaps most dramatic when conjunctions of historical significance (Jupiter/Saturn; Saturn with Uranus, Neptune or Pluto; Uranus with Neptune or Pluto; Neptune/Pluto, etc.) aspect and therefore need to be in some way, depending on the aspect, focused through 'personal' planets in natal charts.
Phase 2 - Focusing
Phase 2 begins when the relationship between two planets spans 30°, the faster planet being now 30° ahead of the slower one. In the soli-lunar cycle, this approximately coincides with the appearance of the Crescent Moon - literally 'the growing one' usually about two-plus days after New Moon. What gives added significance to the Crescent phase is that a dim outline of the full Moon disc very often surrounds the brightly lit slim Crescent. This vague outline of the Full Moon is not, however, the result only of the developing relationship between the Sun and Moon per se. The light surrounding the Crescent is not the same lunar-reflected solar light as illuminates the silver sliver. It is solar light reflected first onto Earth, then onto the Moon - thus, "Earth-shine."*
cf. The Lunation Cycle by Dane Rudhyar (Shambhala Publications: 1971).
The symbolism of the Crescent Moon is thus complex and many-sided. First, its appearance simply indicates that the cycle between the Sun and Moon has proceeded far enough for some of what the cycle represents to be seen, that is, objectively manifest. The Crescent or beginning of Phase 2 signals the end of the period of extreme subjectivity symbolized by the New Moon and Phase 1. At least some of the power released at the conjunction can and must be 'put to work' in Phase 2. Complementing the Crescent, symbol of beginning, the dim outline of the Full Moon surrounding it foreshadows, as it were, the culmination of the cycle. As the relationship between the two planetary functions begins to manifest outwardly, some vague hint of 'where it may be going' may be dimly perceived. This vision, however imprecise it may be at this point, is meant to be an enticing promise of fulfillment to come. Such enticement may be necessary, since Phase 1 fascination with new power and possibilities may have worn off by now; as subjectivity lessens, more mundane concerns make themselves felt.
Because this presentiment of fulfillment is symbolized by Earth-shine, however, it has a special meaning. Not only has the soli-lunar relationship developed sufficiently to be perceived (the Crescent Moon), it has developed enough to include a third, most important factor, the Earth. While cycles of relationship most obviously involve two moving bodies other than Earth, they are nevertheless viewed from Earth and given meaning in human terms, according to what they present to human consciousness from its point of view on Earth, and according to the human capacity - developed in the Earth's biosphere - to render celestial phenomena meaningful. The Crescent Moon surrounded by Earth-shine thus refers to the symbolic 'awakening' of the Earth to soli-lunar development thus far. The Earth, the home of Man, is the symbol of Man. Here, its reflected light symbolizes his vaguely dawning first awareness that he needs to grow and develop in a new direction, however imprecisely he envisions it. The Earth-shine refers to man's capacity to participate in subsequent phases of the now three-way developing relationship. However uncertain their efficacy or outcome, the imaginal and actional capacities are stirred into manifestation during this phase of a cycle. One can and must play one's part in coming developments.
Ideally then, the semi-sextile in a birth-chart represents a very natural initial focusing of a vision of something toward which - to work and aspire. The power of imagination awakens, and with it a desire to manifest the substance of one's imaginings. The question is at first, "How to?" but at this phase it is premature. Images of possibilities must first become focused. The question might rather be, "Whence do the images arise?" In Phase 2 of the involutionary hemicycle, they 'descend' as it were to the level of personal experience from the level of superpersonal potency. What was purely potential in the beginning takes the first step toward directly involving itself in actual form. Effective action follows imagination, and imagination forms and focuses will so that subsequent action can be controlled and purposeful. Everyday activities referring to planets in Phase 2 relationship should be imbued with a sense of greater possibilities. The semi-sextile is thus no more a 'weak sextile' than the sextile is a 'weak trine.' Every definite and clear-cut relation has its meaning and is one link in the chain of relations.
As Phase 2 progresses, an urge to mobilization surfaces and intensifies, especially around the middle of the phase, when the two planets are separated by about 45° - in a magnetic field, an angle of maximum intensity of forces. Here imaginal and actional momentum is tested in two ways. Whenever one takes or even contemplates taking a step toward some future fulfillment, all the pastward resistance or inertia within one rebels and refuses to take the step. Resistance here can mean simple uncertainty or hesitation expectable at the beginning of a cycle, or it can refer to more deeply entrenched patterns of fear or preference which are carry-overs from a past that has yet to be entirely assimilated. Fear must be met; prideful preference must give way to the promptings of greater possibilities.
This becomes essential as the second challenge of Phase 2 is met. As the person with planets in Phase 2 relationship (especially in or near semi-square) matures and emerges from subjective enthrallment with a sense of new powers, he or she encounters the 'real world' for the first time. As subjective dreams and wishes are seen beside objective realities, some degree of shock or surprise maybe experienced. Two 'worlds' inner and outer must be reconciled; peace must be made between the two. Frustration, engendered by the apparent gap between some imagined 'utopia' and the outer, inferior, perhaps inflexible reality one faces, should not be allowed to team-up with and feed inner resistance. If this occurs, the capacity for futureward activity becomes at least temporarily paralyzed, and a premature sense of frustration develops. If, however, the focusing of vision so necessary and indeed natural in phase 2 has been allowed to occur, outer obstacles overcome or humbly side-stepped by faith in a more long-term process nurture rather than thwart a growing sense of capability.
Here again, no aspect or phase-relationship exists in a birthchart by itself. What is important is the relationship of all planets and relationships to one another. Excellent examples of focal Phase 2 relationships are found in the life and chart of Alan Watts, the British-born Zen scholar and promoter of Oriental philosophies in the West. First, Pluto and Neptune, both in Watts' seventh house, are approaching semi-sextile, being at his birth about 281/2° apart. Because these two planets move so slowly, this Pluto/Neptune relationship is common enough in the horoscopes of persons born in the years surrounding Watts' birth in 1915. But Watts' Sun in the first house at 15° Capricorn broadly opposes them both-or more properly, opposes the midpoint of the forming semi-sextile. In this way, it potentially focuses into Watts' individual being and destiny what the Pluto/Neptune semi-sextile represented. Watts' Moon is also in Phase 2 relationship with Neptune; it is in the eighth house, about 42° -a semi-square - ahead of Neptune.
The Pluto/Neptune conjunction before Watts' birth released in 1891-92 the potency for an almost 500-year-long process of universalization, which in our century has manifested through Phases 1 and 2 as an increasing globalization of human activity and consciousness. Watts, the quintessential, almost provincial Englishman by birth and education, nevertheless played a significant role in what he himself considered the most significant development of the 20th century: the meeting of Christianity and Buddhism in the West. He wrote extensively about Zen and Eastern thought, long before it became fashionable to do so or to sit zazen or practice meditation. In fact, his life-work contributed greatly to bringing such practices to the attention of Westerners, especially in America where almost the whole of his adult life was spent.
Watts' work, however, was in no way divorced from his own 'personal,' everyday life and essential being; as the Pluto/Neptune/ Sun configuration required, it was focused through them. Watts felt that he had to help bridge the philosophical, psychological gulf between East and West in the outer, academic and intellectual world, but he in fact had also to reconcile the two approaches and overcome the cultural inertia within himself. He tried to accomplish the former - and wound up doing the latter instead, thus paving the way for an outer, social and religious integration to follow later - by becoming an Anglican priest in 1945. He hoped to bring what he felt was the wisdom of the East into the Western Church. He nevertheless left the ministry some five years later, having realized that the social and religious institutions of the time were not broad enough to accommodate his purpose. Yet in spite of outer obstacles, a vision of possibilities had become firmly focused within him, and like a stone dropped into the middle of a pond, the ripples spread in widening circles.
The waxing semi-square relationship between Watts' Moon and Neptune was perhaps less happily manifest during his life. Married and disillusioningly divorced several times, he could never seem to reconcile the outer realities of a monogamous society with his subjective wishes and dreams. Nevertheless, he lived his relationships in his own way - viz. the title of his autobiography-endeavoring as best he could to overcome the inertia of obsolete patterns of response and relationship.*
*cf. In My Own Way by Alan Watts
Before moving on to consider Phase 3 of cyclic relationships between planets, we can illustrate another important point using Alan Watts' chart as an example. (It may be a premature digression for some students, but it may be helpful for others at this point.) Being able to see how a birth-chart forms dynamically, can be a great aid
in becoming able to interpret it significantly. For understanding from a truly process-oriented point of view the dynamics behind aspect and chart formation can lead to understanding dynamic processes of human development. Understanding what the Pluto/Neptune conjunction historically represented, 'watching' it separate and release its potentiality through the first decades of the 20th century; visualizing the Sun coming 'round to oppose the middle of its span at Watts' birth, potentially focusing some aspect of the developing Pluto/Neptune cycle in and through him and his life (even watching the Moon conjoining the Sun before his birth, the soli-lunar cycle developing, passing over and including the Pluto/Neptune semi-sextile by the time of Watts' birth); and understanding at least some aspect of Watts' life as a manifestation of the Pluto/Neptune/Sun potentiality: all these steps in thinking are process-oriented keys to interpreting Watts' life and chart. Once the principles behind such a many-sided 'seeing' are fully assimilated, they 'work' for interpreting all charts and lives.
Phase 3 - Organizing
Phase 3 begins with the astrological aspect sextile, but no distinctive shape is produced at this phase of the lunation cycle. Instead, the Moon gradually increases in size, reflecting more and more of the Sun's light to Earth. Similarly, during this phase of the cyclic process between two planets, gradual growth and expansion continue on the basis of the initial release of power (Phase 1) and its subsequent focusing and the overcoming of inner resistance (Phase 2).
While the first phase (0° to 30°) refers to the actual release of new potentialities and the subjective, captivating sense of new power and possibilities attending such a release, the second phase (30° to 60°) can represent a reaction to it. The release of power must become focused, resistance to the focusing arises and must be overcome during Phase 2. During Phase 3, both 'action' and 'reaction' must be integrated within a wider, more inclusive field of activity. This means that at the sextile, the creative impulse, having at least somewhat freed itself from the pressures of the past, and having at least tentatively acquired some kind of form (or direction), these forms can begin to take advantage of environmental opportunities for their growth and development. They can begin to become more focused and useful within the environment in which the cycle is developing - and opportunities for their development will present themselves, if all has gone well with the previous phases, because the initial release of power symbolized by the conjunction was in answer to a need which must begin to become concretely fulfilled.
Forms focused during Phase 2 can begin to take on a life of their own. By analogy, this is similar to the way a seed germinates and develops into a maturing plant. Phase -1 and 2 polarize each other as the rootlet is polarized by the germ whose up-springing it supports. Phase 3 then adds branches in both directions. Roots branch out to explore the depths, seeking a broader base of nourishment; leaves unfold to capture and transform radiant 'light' into 'life.' The new possibilities, by now at least partial or tentative actualities, anchor themselves in the realm of objectivity.
The sextile is thus a relation indicating a syncretic capacity, the capability to draw upon and synthesize materials from a number of sources. It thus refers to the capacity for the practical type of organization which makes everyday life possible and significant. Involutionarily speaking, organization means differentiation. Each developing organism must learn to do what it does best. It becomes a specialist. As specialization occurs, a particular organism becomes increasingly able to work with materials available from a wider variety of sources, and to organize them according to the direction of growth in which the cycle is proceeding.
In birth-charts, semi-sextiles usually link planets in zodiacal signs of opposite polarity and in adjacent houses. Adjacent signs and houses are in Phase 1 and 2 relationship to one another. Like any Phase 1 and 2 relationships, they stand in relation to one another as action and reaction. Sextiles, however, usually link planets in signs of the same polarity and in houses separated by an intervening house: inclusion is the key. As the subjectively-felt creative impulse beginning the cycle matures enough to include external realities, the environment accommodates and includes the steadily growing forms.
When interpreting sextiles - actually all aspects - in birth-charts, we should realize that what they represent is, in a sense, cumulative. A particular aspect focused in a birth-chart refers to a specific kind of developmental step which must be taken during the life of the person whose birth-chart it is. The implication is that the previous steps leading to that particular aspect are somehow - historically, hereditarily and/or karmically - condensed into some kind of past which is nevertheless active as a foundation for the present and unfolding life-pattern. On the other hand, the dictum 'ontology repeats phylogeny' is as valid in relation to human development ex utero as it is in relation to the development of a fetus in the womb. We see this working in cases where young children manifest some special kind of talent early in life. Often, it vanishes or 'goes underground' - the child loses interest in it in favor of other, perhaps more fashionable pursuits - around puberty or adolescence. Depending, of course, on the child's birth-chart and life-pattern, this may refer to an old form which has become obsolete and must be allowed to disintegrate or to become transformed into something else. Or, in order to reawaken the talent at a more adult level or to allow it to become transformed, the youth may then have to pass through a developmental process similar to the one we are discussing here - as it were, from the 'beginning,' symbolically a conjunction, regardless of any natal aspect.
Thus, while every aspect refers to a phase of a larger interplanetary process (some including yet also encompassing one human lifespan), it also refers to a personal 'mini-process' which must be gone through during a person's life. Presumably, this is because every new birth is, in a sense, a conjunction - a release of new potentialities which must be actualized through a process of structured growth and development. This 'mini-process' involves all the biological and psychological growing and developing we do in order to become able and willing to take the steps to which particular aspects in our chart refer. The actual outworking and schedule of this 'mini-process' its timing and the circumstances through which it develops, is what progressions and transits in relation to the natal chart refer to. In other words, in order to actualize fully, say, a sextile in a birth-chart, one must allow the subjective sense of possibility or capability to surface in the psyche (conjunction) as one matures. Inner resistance must often be overcome, one's talents must be allowed to develop and express themselves through form (Phases 1 and 2), and a certain kind of 'shock' at dealing with the 'real world' may have to be experienced. Then (Phase 3), when environmental (relational, social, historical, etc.) opportunities present themselves, one must be willing to take advantage of them - or at least not be too quick to say "No," or "I can't." The importance of allowing this mini-process to run its course becomes increasingly significant as squares - Phase 4 - in aspect relationships are reached.
Phase 4 - Deciding
The square (90° aspect) marks an especially important turning point in a cycle. In the soli-lunar cycle, it is marked by the distinctive shape of the First Quarter Moon. The growing inside curve of the Crescent Moon has now become a straight line, a cutting edge slicing its way across the night-sky. What gives added significance to this phase in the lunation cycle is that when the Moon reaches about a 90° angular distance from the Sun, it crosses the orbit of the Earth, and moves away from the Sun and the place of the previous soli-lunar conjunction (New Moon), going toward the orbit of Mars and the place where the Full Moon will occur. The lunation cycle symbolism thus implies cutting away on two accounts, for the straight edge of the Quarter Moon not only cuts across the night-sky, but also across the Earth's orbit. In human terms, cutting away literally translates as 'decision.' It means a release from 'source,' because at First Quarter the Moon is no longer pushed, as it were, by the power released at conjunction, but is geared toward or 'drawn on' to the opposition by the 'promise' of the Full Moon.
This basic 'change of gears' occurs in any cycle at the 'waxing square'-that is, when a faster planet is, say, 82° to 98° ahead of a slower one and moving away from it - and it can be more clearly seen if we picture the developing cycle as a vibration or wave. What results is a figure called a sinusoid, which looks something like a horizontal letter S, or two half-circumferences of opposite polarities, one below and one above a line of equilibrium represented by the cycle's conjunction and opposition. The involutionary hemicycle with which we are concerned here is represented by the hemicircle below the line of equilibrium.
Looking at this figure, it is clear that if we start from A as a point of departure, we will, on reaching B, have completed one quarter of the cycle - a 90° arc. The two points A and B are related by an angle of 90° - a waxing square. In terms of the involutionary process, it is easy to infer from such a picture that the creative impulse involving itself in form since the conjunction beginning the cycle (A) reaches the apex of its involvement at the square (B); the involutionary process 'bottoms out; as it were. If the process is to proceed to a full, healthy culmination (C), however, not only a 'bottoming out,' but a basic change in direction is necessary. Further motion along the arc AB will not lead toward C but away from it. Activity AB must now be redirected to BC, by overcoming the inertia of motion (momentum) AB and the pull of centrifugal force leading 'off track' to what we have marked as B'.
We can envision this situation metaphorically by picturing a car traveling along the sinusoid figure, about to turn the corner of the waxing square. The car is impelled into the curve by its own momentum and the angle of the road. But about halfway through the turn, the driver must take over the steering mechanism. If he fails to do so, centrifugal force will pull his car off track and perhaps crash it. This can be averted only by a successful self-steering maneuver which changes the direction of the car's motion away from B' and definitely orients it toward C. The car emerging from the curve is of course 'the same' car, unchanged in its structure and appearance.
But the driver's capacity to steer the course before him - which is nevertheless not 'his own' in the sense of being his personality's or ego's creation - has been challenged by the experience and perhaps irrevocably transformed.
At one level, we can understand from the foregoing that a person with important waxing squares in his or her birth-chart has at various times in his or her life to meet 'squarely' the need for clear-cut decision - to allow the situation to be faced to develop by not shrinking from opportunities (Phase 3) or being narrowly bound to an attitude of resistance (Phase 2). When an opportunity to 'seize the moment' presents itself, even if it takes the form of a crisis or requires severance from well-familiar, comfortable patterns - especially if it requires such repudiation of whatever of one's past conditioning has become obsolete - the key to 'squaring' oneself with life, can be summed up in two words and an exclamation point: Do it!
But what really is implied and at stake in such a crisis?
We can think of it as a 'crisis in action' requiring definite acts of self-assertion able to break the momentum of obsolete past conditioning. If the 'ghosts' of the past had to be met and at least tentatively overcome at earlier phases of the process (particularly during Phase 2 and at the interplanetary semi-square), they must definitely be banished at the square. If the inertia of past patterns antedating the beginning of this new cycle had to be checked early on, or worked out by meeting and working through past-conditioned psychological projection, such inertia must definitely be broken now. In other words, whatever in the past focused, molded and conditioned earlier forms through which the process operated at that time and was thereby brought to its present state, but which now hinders further development toward the fulfillment of the cycle, must be repudiated. This means a basic reorientation away from subservience to and dependence upon the past - no matter how beautiful the tradition or satisfying the sense of security - toward a reliance on a deeply felt and experienced intuition of what some future, more autonomously achieved fulfillment could be. It means the need for a definite kind of emergence into maturity where the planetary functions involved in the square are concerned. It means the need for taking a stand, becoming committed, and acting out the commitment. The waxing square can thus be called an aspect of individualization. It forces one to emerge from the womb of parentage, of culture and tradition, to stand on one's own feet and foundation, facing the world as a true individual rather than merely as a particular person -a specimen of one's lineage and times.
Behind this individualizing 'crisis in action' - behind the need for this kind of future-oriented, self-assertive, decisive action - is also what we can think of as a 'crisis in incarnation.' For incarnation, or the taking on of form, is the aim of the involutionary process. Having focused and steadied itself through earlier phases of the process, the creative impulse beginning the cycle now needs to be given definite form to actually operate as an objective factor in the world. Having at least tentatively overcome the inertia of the past (Phase 2) and adapted itself to operating through available material in current environmental conditions (Phase 3), the creative impulse seeks definite manifestation.
When such a phase is reached in a cycle between two planets, it means that through earlier phases of the cyclic process the functions represented by the planets have been sufficiently steadied in relation to one another, within some tentative form, to definitely take on a solid anchorage in the world of physical and social realities. The person with a significant waxing square in his or her birth-chart is called upon to be such an anchor, the vehicle or 'focalizer' through whom a definite kind of form-building activity can operate, relating the two planetary functions and preparing the way for the culmination of their relationship.
But how is this need for definite form-building activity different from what we encountered as 'focusing in form' in earlier phases of the process? Why call this need for 'incarnation' a 'crisis'? Answers to these questions can be approached through understanding the meaning of the term crisis, which comes from the Greek crino, "to decide." De-cision, in turn, literally means "cutting away," and any crisis or decision involves choosing among alternatives, leaving one or some of them behind and embracing others. At least two factors present themselves in any crisis or decision, but the most fundamental choice at stake in major turning points of life is not between the two or more mutually exclusive outer possibilities we are presented with. Most deeply and fundamentally, it is between two basic inner qualities, one of which eventually predominates as the spirit in which all outer decisions are made. The two inner qualities are courage and fear. Behind all more superficial choices, the waxing square as a turning point in a overall process, which spans yet also encompasses our present life-cycle, presents the 'choice' between these two.
Let us stress here that the kind of decision symbolically called for by waxing squares in a birth-chart need not take the form of traumatic, or even dramatic events, encounters or psychological crises. We often make what turn out to be the most significant decisions of our lives without realizing how important they are or to what they will lead. When major life decisions do come in the form of crisis, it is often an indication that some more fundamental decision had not previously been courageously taken, or that some underlying, essential life-issue has been met with inertia or in a spirit of fear. So-called "sins of omission" - especially those of which we remain largely unconscious, so deeply ingrained is the fear and inertia called up in response to meeting the situations engendering them - are often far more dire in their consequences than "sins of commission." What we fail to do out of fear, either when it is necessary for it to be done or for us to be able deliberately to do it, often comes back to 'haunt' us in a sharper or more menacing form than what we may have actually or even wrongly done out of ignorance or misunderstanding.
Any waxing-square crisis not met, or met in a negative, fearful way, engenders not only consequences which have themselves to be met and corrected, but also more fear - which in turn forces us to meet other eventualities in a negative way, thereby creating a vicious, self-perpetuating pattern. When fear comes to dominate a person's actions, feelings and will, all growth and forward motion imperative and ideally vigorous at this phase of the cycle - ceases. Outward or severe inner crises may be necessary to 'force the issue,' as it were. They have the possibility of creating in us perhaps sufficient tension, or even desperation, to enable us to break the bonds of our own fear or inertia and take a step we would otherwise be unable or unwilling to take. Crises help us avoid the pitfalls of so-called "sins of omission" by forcing us to do something doing anything being better than doing nothing whenever fear and inertia have reached paralyzing proportions.
In saying all this, we do not mean to stress the crisis-producing aspect of the waxing square at the expense of its constructive - form-building - side, for both are important at this phase of the process. In order for any new structure to be built - safely and to last to fulfill its function - deep foundations must be dug to support it. As high as the proposed structure is to soar, that deep must the foundations go. They must rest on a bedrock of conscious and courageous commitment, not on the shifting sands of changing personal moods and whims. Such excavation is often difficult work. Tools grind against encrustations, dirt flies and the builder's knuckles - or worse - are inevitably skinned and battered. His back aches and his muscles may protest, but his is useful, practical work. The waxing square, unlike the succeeding trine which can be overly idealistic, is an aspect of practicality, of having to deal in concrete ways with the planetary functions involved.
In actual practice, one must be extremely careful to distinguish between this waxing, involutionary square - when, again, the faster planet is ahead of the slower and separating from it - and the waning square which will occur during the second hemicycle. In addition, here as with the semi-sextile, semi-square and sextile, the terms applying and separating should not be confused with the terms waxing and waning. Only in relation to the conjunction are the terms applying and waning or separating and waxing synonymous. Thus, there are, in a sense, four kinds of squares: applying and separating waxing squares, and applying and separating waning squares.
If we call planet x the faster planet, and planet y the slower, a waxing square forms between them when, say, planet x is in Cancer and planet y is in Aries. The same type of waxing square occurs when y is at the beginning of Aquarius and x is at the end of Aries. The waxing square is applying when x in Cancer is at 10° and y in Aries is at 15° - there are 85° between them, but this distance is increasing to 90°. The same is true of x at 27° Aries and y at 20° Aquarius. There are also 85° separating the pair, but there will soon be 90°. Waxing squares separate when, after the planets have exactly squared one another, more than 90° separates x and y, with x still ahead of y. X at 20° Cancer is separating from a waxing square with y when y is at 17° Aries. X at 70° Taurus separates from waxing square with y when y is at 5° Aquarius.*
*As we'll see later on, this is a very different picture from what occurs at waning squares, when from a process-oriented point of view planets are separated by more or less than 270°, and waning squares can also be applying and separating. An applying waning square would occur with x at 10° Capricorn and y at 15° Aries. A separating waning square would occur when, after the exact square between x and y, x had reached, say, 20° Capricorn, and y had moved to 17° Aries.
The applying waxing square and the separating waxing square symbolize different phases in the decision-making process. The applying waxing square archetypally refers to a turning point in the process which has not yet been reached, to a decision which has not yet been made. The person with such an aspect in his or her chart has to 'steer through the curve,' as it were, and make the decision. A separating waxing square indicates that a decision has, on some level, already been taken and a direction committed to. It is up to the person with such an aspect in his or her horoscope to work out that commitment, to involve himself or herself in the building process proper.
Phase 5 - Expressing
The trine (120° aspect) begins the fifth step or phase of the involutionary hemicycle. In the soli-lunar cycle, no distinct shape of the Moon is produced, for after having, as it were, stepped across the Earth's orbit, it continues gradually to grow. What had been a concave curve at the Crescent and a straight line at First Quarter has now become convex. The 'direction' of the cycle is definitely outward now. This fifth step in the cycle thus refers to creative expression and outward application. It represents the means and the opportunities, arising as a result of committed and deliberate action toward an end felt and acknowledged to be necessary, to integrate what is now more autonomously developing into a workable and productive way of life. What was released as a potential answer to a need at the conjunction should by now have become established enough to begin to fulfill that need, at least for the person in whose life the development is occurring.
From a process-oriented point of view, aspects in natal charts are, in a sense, cumulative. They represent the next step to be taken on the foundation of earlier phases which have already occurred. Because they operate in terms of what we have called a 'mini-process,' recapitulating these earlier phases and focusing them into the present life-situation, a person with significant waxing trines in his or her horoscope may appear to have to meet and take major life decisions whether or not waxing squares are also central. But as previously mentioned, one often makes what turns out to be a very significant decision without realizing the decision is anything extraordinary. At the time the decision is made there is no way of knowing what larger implications a seemingly minor matter may eventually have. Such a pattern is typical of what can be expected in association with waxing trines, because this aspect follows and therefore qualitatively includes or builds upon the waxing square. Something in us responds to a challenge or opportunity, but at this phase of the cyclic process, it may not be necessary - or even desirable from a more inclusive perspective - for that 'something' to be the conscious 'I' or ego. This is still the involutionary hemicycle, during which spontaneous activity is most important, more important than consciousness or understanding.
In the subjective experience of a person with waxing trines in his or her birth-chart, decisions may thus carry an aura of pleasant inevitability, or feel as if they have already been made. Such a person often has the feeling of merely 'going through the motions' when making decisions, of meeting a situation whose outcome, while uncertain in terms of the form it will take, is nonetheless never really in question in terms of the response the person will offer. After the hard decisions of the waxing square have been taken and outer obstacles surmounted, one can begin to envision an ideal of 'where' the process is going. One can be fascinated and carried along by this idealism.
A contemporary psycho-spiritual guide has summed up in psychological terms this involutionary process focused into every natal trine:
The process of growth begins with an image of its goal, though this image does not consciously direct itself. It simply appears. Even when it is not in the visual form of a specific image, it is present; and it expresses itself then as a nonconscious knowing of what is true in principle. It is present as an image of the new condition which the psyche is engaged in bringing to actuality. It is a goal that is an active factor in the person because it is a potentiality working to fulfill itself. Neither the goal nor the manner of its fulfillment are thought out in advance; nor are they rationally decided upon. The entire pattern discloses itself as it acts itself out; and often it is only in the course of this enactment that the person discovers the nature of the goal he is truly seeking. . .
Many instances of this come to mind in the lives of creative persons. One thinks, for example, of Herman Melville as a young man going to sea on a whaling ship with no possible way of knowing that the seeds were being planted for one of the world's great expeditions into the dimension of symbols.
The writing of Moby Dick lay completely in the future, but something drew him forward towards it. His experience at that time, as throughout the later creative years of his life, was as though one of his legs stepped forward on its own without his deciding it, and the other leg was forced to follow and step a little further. Thus, he was drawn on towards attainments without limit, never knowing the ending nor even the immediate goal. He did not decide it, and yet something within him forced it to be.*
*Ira Progoff, The Symbolic and the Real (New York, Julian Press, 1963), pp. 76-77.
The astrological significance of Dr. Progoffs thoughts is increased when we realize that the Sun and Moon formed a waxing trine at Melville's birth - and that the Sun also trines Saturn.
Nevertheless, even such a trine is no more a 'given' in a birthchart or life than a square or sextile. An immature, recalcitrant or rigid ego can pervert or call a halt to even the most potentially creative processes in life. One with involutionary trines in his or her horoscope must be willing to follow the rhythm set by his or her process as it unfolds. Like Melville, he or she must allow the necessary steps to be taken, one 'foot' to follow the other. For even Melville's novel didn't actually write itself. On an archetypal level, it may have formed and focused itself in his consciousness seemingly without effort on his part. Yet his was the hand that actually wrote out the words, page after page after page. His was the patience and perseverance through which creative expression could operate.
These last mentioned qualities-patience and perseverance are crucial to a successful and actually productive Phase 5 relationship between planets. For at the middle of the phase, the sesquiquadrate or sesqui-square (135° aspect) occurs. It performs a similar function in the second quarter of the cycle as the semi-square (45° aspect) did in the first quarter. At the middle of Phase 2, the momentum of barely nascent imaginal and actional stirrings is intensified and tested; at the middle of Phase 5, the decision and commitment elicited by the waxing square is tested. What has been committed to at the square takes on, as it were, a 'life of its own' during Phase 4. During Phase 5 it has the possibility of fully expressing itself. But it does so in an environment whose realities have to be met, acknowledged and taken into account. Just as the semi-square represented the 'shock' of a first encounter with a 'real world' challenging the extreme subjectivity of the conjunction, the sesqui-quadrate refers to a similar awakening, now to the realities-both inner and outer-of what was implied in the decision made at the square.
The trine uses and thus exhausts the dynamic energy definitely focused and directed in a particular way at the square. As the sesquiquadrate, a 'second wind' is required. The practicality of the square and the idealism associated with the trine must work together to overcome whatever obstacles appear to slow progress toward the accomplishment of a goal more clearly perceived now than ever before. This phase of the cycle requires forceful but controlled striving and outreaching; substantive growth, a general keynote of Phase 5, thereby follows.
Phase 6 - Improving
The quincunx or inconjunct (150° aspect) brings the means and opportunities represented by the trine to a more specific focus, and it begins the sixth and final phase of the first hemicycle of activity. Whatever adjustments in expression, action or application are necessary to bring the whole cycle to successful culmination at the opposition should now be made. In this sense, the quincunx is a 'last chance' aspect. For the opposition represents a definite end - and therefore potential crystallization-of whatever precedes it. Metaphorically, it is like taking a timed examination in school. When the bell rings to signal the end of the period, one is finished and hands in his paper, whether he has gone through all the material or not. The results are in - Iacta alea est - and on that basis one will pass on to the next form or not.
Subjectively, the quincunx often manifests as a sense of dissatisfaction-dissatisfaction with self in a psychologically mature person, blaming and frustration with others in the person not yet awakened to and accepting of the realities of what surrounds him or her. Such acceptance does not need to imply passivity or the willingness to accept what one knows and believes to be wrong. It simply means awareness, on the basis of which one can act appropriately to correct or improve what in oneself or in one's environment falls short of what seems possible and desirable.
This sense of dissatisfaction with self arising at the quincunx is, however, a new and significant development, for a real sense of 'self is just beginning to dawn. The struggle to improve (Phase 6), to consciously overcome resistance and shortcomings (Phase 5), to 'steer one's own course' (Phase 4) during the second quarter of the process begins to give one a sense of being alone in one's strivings, of being separate. This awareness, however, is not a true and full expression of selfhood. For individual selfhood ideally and archetypally will begin to blossom only as the opposition forms and after the cycle culminates. The sense of separateness experienced at the quincunx is preliminary to it.
The person with significant quincunxes in his or her birth-chart may experience either an exaggerated sense of self-importance or an undue preoccupation with shortcomings. Underlying both may be a compensating yearning for belongingness, for unconditional acceptance which, regardless of actual circumstances, may seem insatiable. But since it goes hand in hand with true selfhood, true relatedness is only achieved at and after the cycle culminates. The kind of belongingness sought and possible before the opposition forms may represent instead a longing to 'return to the womb' - to the subjectivity of the conjunction-and dissolve the structures of selfhood that have been slowly and perhaps painfully taking form during the involutionary process. Thus, while self-improvement is the significant task of Phase 6, the emphasis needs to be on improvement rather than narcissistically on self. The person with planets in quincunx relationships is asked to meet and assimilate experiences which have the power to adjust and refine the expression of what is symbolized by the two planetary functions involved.
This improving, refining activity paves the way for the cycle's culmination, the opposition (180° aspect) which both ends the first hemicycle of activity and begins the second. The distinction between applying and separating aspects is again crucial. Two planets nearing but less than 180° apart form an applying opposition ending the first hemicycle. Two planets having already exactly opposed one another and now (or at birth) separated by more than 180° form a separating opposition which occurs at the very beginning of the second hemicycle. Here, as the first hemicycle ends, we are primarily concerned with the former, and will take up the matter of the latter in Part 11 of this chapter and in Chapter 4.
In the case of the applying opposition, something needs to be brought to fulfillment, to objective manifestation - or rather, something objective in relation to the two planetary functions involved needs to be allowed to fulfill itself through the life-pattern of the person whose chart contains an opposition, always a most significant aspect and basic axis. This is still the involutionary process whereby a creative, spirit-born impulse acts spontaneously through us, in answer to a need - if we let it. 'Letting it' has a different quality and different implications at each step of the way, that is, each aspect of the involutionary series requires of us a different kind of cooperation or, at the very least, non-hindrance.
This kind of non-interference with integral, spontaneous processes becomes more difficult the more one becomes aware of oneself as a separate 'I' or ego having definite desires and dislikes. Indeed, the more one is conditioned, as in our culture, to think of himself exclusively as a separate, 'rugged individual' (who is nevertheless not an 'individual' in the deepest sense of the term, but merely conditioned to be as 'rugged' as he fears, or is taught to imagine, everyone else is), the more difficult an accepting non-violence to natural processes becomes. Such an attitude is often dismissed out of hand or even ridiculed because it is mistakenly associated with weakness and indecision.
The kind of objectivity and personal-emotional detachment necessary to bring a cycle to successful culmination are, however, very different from weakness and indecision. They are achieved only when a person is courageous and inwardly strong enough to free himself or herself from the tyranny of unconscious projections and compulsive, conditioned behavior. The person in whose chart an applying opposition forms a significant axis is asked to meet and assimilate experiences which have the power and possibility of breaking such psychic bonds and thereby freeing and transforming the compulsive behavior tied to them. What results is not to be confused with coldness or indifference, either. For a person with an applying opposition in his or her natal chart has also the possibility of bringing to culmination and concrete, outward manifestation in his or her life something expressing a fullness of relationship between the opposing planetary functions.
As the exact opposition nears, the two planets, like the Sun and Moon at Full Moon, face each other from opposite sides of the Earth. The faster planet symbolically 'reflects' as much of the slower planet's 'light' as it can. Since what is represented by the faster planet has distributed, incorporated and been reoriented by the functional activities represented by the slower planet throughout the previous hemicycle of aspect-relationships, the two sets of functions together can now be called upon to do what neither separately or in relation to other planets could previously have accomplished.
Metaphors summing up the cyclic process thus far abound. What began as a stirring deep within a seed implanted in dark, humus-rich soil now culminates in a blushing bloom. What began for the newborn as the potentiality of individual selfhood culminates in midlife as a sense of identity. Having emerged as its builder and begun his labors in earnest at the symbolical waxing square, the mature individual now faces the products of his labor. He sees not only what they are, but himself, his identity, reflected in them. As the process proceeds from this moment of realization - which literally means to 'make real, to 'thingify' - much depends on this first meeting of 'I' and 'It' or 'The Other.' Not only what is seen, but how the seer responds to it is crucial.
Under the illumination of the symbolical Full Moon - a 'harvest Moon' - the involutionary process comes to a close.
II. Growth Through Letting Go
The second half of a cycle is characterized by the operation and interaction of two complementary processes. They are best characterized by the terms devolution and evolution.
Devolution is the continuation and reversal of involution, of the 'life' process begun at conjunction. At the opposition, the cycle's culmination, having exhausted the possibilities for growth inherent in the involutionary process, the vital energy fueling the cycle, like the Moon after Full Moon, begins to wane. The particular forms built as vehicles through which the cycle came to culmination begin slowly to disintegrate as they are no longer needed and the 'life force' is gradually withdrawn from them. Such is the process whereby annual vegetation withers and eventually dies after having produced flower and fruit; such is the inevitable "way of all flesh" after mid-life. And so too is one facet of any truly total and multi-level process of development. Assimilation and deconditioning must necessarily follow intense activity and experience of a new phase of growth may later proceed on as 'clean' and unambiguous a foundation as possible.
Devolution's polar complement in the second hemicycle is evolution. While the change from involution to devolution is natural and continuous, the change from involution to evolution requires a kind of mutation or 'quantum leap' from one level, the level of 'life,' to another-the level of 'mind' or growth in consciousness. During the second half of the cycle, the purpose of life is to develop consciousness. As the power of 'life' wanes, consciousness, awakened in the light of the symbolical Full Moon, develops. As 'life' - which operates spontaneously and unconsciously in answer to a need - devolves, 'mind,' which operates consciously toward the fulfillment of a purpose, evolves.
In this chapter we are primarily concerned with the operation of the devolutionary process, and we will discuss the evolutionary process and its special rhythm in the following chapter. Nevertheless, the operation of the two is so interwoven that, at least at first, we will have to consider them together.
The operation and interaction of these two complementary 'energy directions' is made abundantly clear in the often-used symbol of the birth-death-rebirth cycle of annual vegetation. When we outlined the involutionary process characterizing the first half of a cycle, we likened it to the process whereby an implanted seed grows into a mature plant: germ, roots, stem, branches, leaves. The culmination of the cycle - astrologically the opposition aspect - can best be symbolized by a completely formed bud, a potential flower. Contained in the nascent flower is also another kind of potentiality, the seed. While the first hemicycle develops the power of a seed to grow, the second hemicycle develops the power of a new seed to form and function.
After the cycle culminates, the seed develops within the unfolding flower. In order for it to embody the full functional capacity of a seed, two things must happen. First, fertilization must occur to form a seed; second, the seed must be released from the parent plant. Fertilization refers to the possibility of beginning the evolutionary process. It includes not only the possibility of mutation, but it also stresses interaction with the environment, for external factors (wind, insects or human beings) are in many cases necessary for cross-pollination to occur. The process leading to the release of the seed refers to the realm of devolution; as the seed forms within the flower, it in a sense kills the plant that bore it. Having produced the seed, the plant becomes an obsolescent form. The seed deprives of energy the antiquated forms which are incapable of fulfilling the new need of the time - i.e., the fertilization of the seed and its internal development. Only as the flower withers and the plant disintegrates is the seed released from bondage to the dying structure. Only when it is released can it bury itself in the soil enriched by the decaying organic matter of the plant and its preceding generations - and only then can it truly fulfill its functional potential.
The seeds released by a plant are, of course, biological seeds, insuring the perpetuation of the species the following spring. The seeds forming at the culmination of cycles of human experience are 'mind seeds' - also insuring the continuation of strictly human life, but at a level other than the purely biological. 'Mind seeds,' like plant seeds, also require fertilization and cross-pollinization. In human development this occurs through interpersonal and social relationship, and relatedness to works given special value and attention.
Like biological seed-fertilization, relationship can be both evolutionary and devolutionary in character, and at least at the beginning of the second hemicycle, these two processes are inseparable. Relationship is devolutionary insofar as through it, the limitations and shortcomings of the growing consciousness are revealed. This should lead to the evolutionary aspect of relationship in which the growing consciousness becomes aware of its heretofore unconscious and limiting values and assumptions. This evolutionary awareness in turn fuels the positive aspect of the devolutionary process in which what were unconscious values and assumptions reveal their obsolescence and are 'let go.' Relationships thus force the questioning and breakdown of taken-for-granted, habitual patterns of behaving, thinking and feeling which no longer 'work,' or elicit positive responses from working-materials, partners or associates.
Thus, evolution and devolution most constructively interact in the second half of a cyclic process when devolution takes its toll on whatever developed as temporary vehicles during the first hemicycle. These unconscious assumptions and forms of feeling and behaving were necessary to the involutionary process, but after the cycle's culmination, they become obsolete and stand in the way of conscious evolution. As these 'empty shells' are 'let go' and allowed to disintegrate, the developing consciousness is freed to give a new, more timely, appropriate and responsible rather than reactionary meaning to its purposeful participation in life and social processes and events. As objective consciousness, and the power of 'mind' to formulate meaning, develop in scope and acuity, they further challenge whatever stands in the way of the next evolutionary step.
Each half of the overall cyclic process thus essentially refers to a different realm or level of experience and development - the first hemicycle to the outworking of 'life' through spontaneous, unconscious activity in answer to a need; the second hemicycle to conscious, mental and group-participatory evolution, part of which necessitates and is facilitated by the devolution or devaluing of what predominated during the first hemicycle. Each of these processes involution, devolution, evolution-operates according to its own rhythm and 'schedule.' Each is represented astrologically by its own series of aspects formed according to principles exemplifying and befitting it. We have already outlined the rhythm of involution dominating the first hemicycle of a process, and in Chapter 3 we will explore in full detail the 'syncopated beat' according to which conscious evolution proceeds. What we have now to do is to understand, at least briefly, the rhythms of devolution - the inexorable continuation and reversal of the 'life' process as it operates throughout the remainder of the arithmetic series of aspects.
After the opposition, since the faster planet has moved as far away from the slower planet as it can, it begins to return toward it-actually toward the two planets' next conjunction - and the distance between them decreases. According to the way aspects are considered in usual astrological practice, aspects formed after the opposition decrease in size, in angular value, and the order of aspects formed during the waning or devolutionary hemicycle is essentially a reversal of the order of aspects formed during the waxing or involutionary hemicycle. The waning quincunx follows the opposition, then the trine, square, sextile, semi-sextile and, finally, the conjunction beginning a new cycle. The semi-sextile, for example, occurs as Phase 1 of a six-phase process in the involutionary hemicycle; the semi-sextile of the second hemicycle ends both the devolutionary series and the entire cyclic process. Similarly, the quincunx ends the involutionary series in the waxing hemicycle, but in the waning hemicycle it is the first aspect formed after the opposition.
This reversal indicates great differences in meaning between the (so-called) "same" aspects in the two hemicycles. Unfortunately, practically all astrologers do consider these two types of aspects waxing and waning, involutionary and devolutionary - identical in meaning. This is due to thinking of aspects merely as categories of possible interplanetary or even zodiacal relationships, and not as connected phases of ongoing, cyclic processes. From a process-oriented point of view, a particular aspect has significance only in terms of the place it occupies, the function it performs, in the structure of a whole cycle of relationships. It is quite as senseless to believe that a waxing and a waning square have the same significance as it would be to say that the summer and winter solstices have the same meaning in the seasonal cycle of the year beginning at the spring equinox. Youth has not the same character as old age, even if one sometimes speaks of a second childhood or 'adolescence in reverse.' Even if we consider the shapes of the Moon at the first and last quarters, we see that they are oriented in opposite directions. So are the Moon-crescent after the New Moon and the Moon-crescent (or decrescent) before New Moon.
If two opposite stages in planetary relationships are called by the same name and measured exclusively in terms of the same angular value, it discourages the practice of properly differentiating between their meanings. This confusing situation need not, however, be perpetuated. Rather than thinking solely in terms of a series of angular values decreasing after the opposition - i.e., 150°, 120°, 90°, 60°, 30°-we can also continue the series of angular values and phase relationships begun at the conjunction. What we work with then is a series of increasing angular values: Phase 7, opposition to quincunx (180° to 210°); Phase 8, quincunx to trine (210° to 240°); Phase 9, trine to square (240° to 270°); Phase 10, square to sextile (270 ° to 300°); Phase 11, sextile to semi-sextile (300 ° to 330°); Phase 12, semi-sextile to the conjunction beginning the next cycle (300° to 359° 59').
Both ways of considering and measuring waning aspects can be revealing. Measuring in terms of decreasing angular values tends to stress the devolutionary facet of the second hemicycle, since the emphasis is indeed on decrease and the reversal of the involutionary sequence of aspects. The decreasing angular values are actually measured in relation to the coming conjunction beginning the next cycle. The sequence from that perspective shows devolution merely as a clean-up process between two involutionary hemicycles. It stresses the devolutionary process's function of clearing up the life arena of useless or potentially harmful debris, so that the next lifecycle can start on a clean foundation, the remains of the previous involutionary phases having been fully broken down into 'humus' which will nourish the next sequence of involutionary activity. This way of looking at the devolutionary process fails to show that the ultimately radical clearing-up process operates hand-in-hand with a process of consciousness development, without which the next involutionary process would merely repeat the past one - mistakes, failures and all. The phase-denominated, increasing angular value way of considering the second hemicycle aspects tends toward integrating at least some hint of this evolutionary process into the devolutionary sequence. It - and even more the series of aspects we will study in Chapter 3 - points to the second hemicycle as a continuation of the first in the sense that 'reaping' follows a period of 'sowing. '
From another point of view, nothing is actually changed by measuring the aspects in one way or another, as long as one clearly recognizes that second hemicycle or waning aspects are different from first hemicycle or waxing aspects, and as long as one understands the interrelationship of major processes operating through the cycle as a whole. Generally speaking, waxing (involutionary) aspects refer to the instinctual building up of the relationship between the two planetary functions involved. During the second hemicycle, the fruit of the relationship is reclaimed. Devolutionarily, the emphasis is on the breakdown of the interplanetary relationship, which releases, so to speak, the 'seed essence' of the 'harvest.' What use is made of that harvest as it is released, how and for what purpose it is assimilated and incorporated into the life-pattern of the individual or the community, are concerns of the evolutionary process.
As an example, we can continue the illustration of the Venus/ Mars cycle we began and left unfinished earlier in this chapter. To recap what we said regarding the first hemicycle of relationships between the two planets: the conjunction beginning the Venus/Mars cycle referred to the need and opportunity to bring the personal emotional nature to a new level of functioning or self-expression. At the conjunction, the outward-bound, activity-orientation of Mars gave a new direction and impetus to Venus's inwardly directed sense of value and capacity to give form. The new orientation had, first, in the earliest stage of the relationship, to focus itself at the subjective level; then, at the waxing square, to be allowed to 'burst forth' or definitely 'incarnate' in the forms Venus built. During Phases 4, 5 and 6, a commitment to creative, autonomous endeavor had to be established, sustained and refined in order to complete the involutionary process. By the opposition, the cycle's culmination, the personal-emotional nature has become embodied in its creations, whether these manifest as actual forms such as works of art, forms of behavior, or psycho-emotional exteriorizations such as interpersonal relationships, etc. Reflected therein are the unconscious and compulsive values and desires of their creator.
The opposition between Venus and Mars refers to the need and opportunity to bring expression at the personal-emotional level to objective consciousness. This can occur only when the personal-emotional nature becomes aware of its creations as separate from itself. True relationship with them, rather than mere subjective reaction to them, becomes possible. In this relationship, objective consciousness can be born, and the forms created during the first hemicycle of activity can be consciously made to fulfill an evolutionary purpose. Before this can happen, the nascent consciousness must become aware of and overcome habitual patterns binding self-expression to instinctual, biological imperatives operating at the involutionary level.
In the first stages of the Venus/Mars cycle after the opposition then, the nascent consciousness must disidentify with the strictly biological operation of the two planetary functions. This can be accomplished primarily through interpersonal and social relationships, in which the personal-emotional nature becomes conscious of itself, of what it has become, by relating with what it has created during the first hemicycle. This relating provides awareness-stimulating feedback which forces the nascent consciousness to become aware of the values (Venus) on which activity (Mars) had previously been based. As Venus moves back toward Mars, she symbolically 'gathers in' the harvest of their relationship - a harvest of meaning giving new purpose and value (Venus) to activity (Mars) at the personal-emotional level. As this occurs, the basis on which self-expression has operated heretofore has to be re-evaluated.
At the waning square, the consciousness is thus forced to turn inward again, to question the previously taken-for-granted assumptions and values on which activity at the personal-emotional level operated. Some old forms of expression based on old values reveal themselves to be obsolete, to be out of tune with new values and purposes gradually being recognized and assimilated. The old forms of personal-emotional expression must be 'let go,' and, finally, released. As the cycle ends, consciousness at the personal-emotional level again withdraws into subjectivity. It yearns for a new creative impetus, for an opportunity to begin again, at a new level, to develop new forms of personal-emotional self-expression. The Venus! Mars conjunction beginning the next cycle refers to the release of just such a potentiality. It comes in answer to that need, and also in order to stir into actual operation the new, yet unrealized and latent capacities 'seeded' during the now-ended second hemicycle.
Again, we repeat, everyone is born at some phase of the Venus! Mars relationship, although we are now concerned only with the waning phases of the cycle - and these primarily from a devolutionary point of view. For the purpose of intellectual analysis and understanding, and in astrological textbooks such as this one, the devolutionary and evolutionary processes interacting throughout the second hemicycle can be somewhat separated. But in actual living, especially in the lives of persons in whose birth-charts waning aspects qualitatively or quantitatively predominate or form significant patterns, this is not necessarily the case. The operation of the two processes may be sequential or simultaneous, in the same or in different areas of life, clearly distinguishable from one another or not. Only the 'active intuition' of the astrologer or 'life interpreter' can pierce the 'meaning-enigma' of the client's birth-chart and life-pattern.
Phase 7 - Realizing
Much has already been said about the metaphorical and theoretical meaning of this pivotal phase in the cyclic process. The most basic significance of an opposition in a person's birth-chart is that it defines a particular set of functional activities (planets), life areas (houses) and modes of operation (zodiacal signs) in which the person will be challenged to repolarize his or her being. Such repolarization entails breaking away from the level of being at which 'life' holds sway. It means transferring the center of one's being from the level where what is represented by the opposing astrological factors operates unconsciously, compulsively and essentially rooted in biological imperatives, to the level of being at which 'mind' - objectivity and conscious understanding - dominates and purposefully directs activity.
Such a picture may seem very abstract and unrealistic to astrologers used to defining oppositions simply as more or less irreconcilable conflicts between what is represented by the opposing astrological factors. Oppositions may indeed manifest in people's life-patterns as such conflicts, but a truly process-oriented point of view indicates that this usual definition is not so much wrong as it is incomplete. It does not take into consideration the meaning of the conflict, what it is for in the client's life. In order to understand the situation as a whole, the astrologer/life-interpreter must go beyond this obvious and merely descriptive definition of what most significantly is a dynamic process in a person's life. He or she must ask: "What is my client to do about or with the situation confronting him or her? Is such a conflict really 'irreconcileable?' If it is not, how can it be resolved? Does its solution involve the client 'choosing' one pole of the situation - i.e., what is represented by one set of the opposing factors - over what is represented by the other?" The most basic question of all is: "What can meeting such a situation mean in the overall development of the client as a human being, indeed as an individual person?"
In order to answer these questions, we must realize that latent in the natures of people with Phase-7 oppositions in their birth. charts is a high degree of development of the planetary functions involved in the opposition(s). The person has been born at the apex of a cycle developing what these planets represent. While the 'seeds' for their development are within his or her nature at birth, the genetic, familial and/or social circumstances into which he or she is born provide the 'flower' or matrix within which they can develop in an actual, existential way. Such development occurs throughout the 'mini-process' of the person's maturation. As the person develops and each set of planetary functions manifests its own kind of 'fullness,' a contrast sharpens between what the two sets represent, and the polar nature of the planets is emphasized. Hence, perhaps the most challenging and potentially deeply repolarizing oppositions occur between planets whose functions are by nature polar - e.g., Sun/ Moon, Sun/Saturn, Moon/Saturn, Venus/Mars, Mercury/Jupiter, Jupiter/Saturn, Saturn/Uranus, Jupiter/Neptune, Pluto/Mars.
When each set of functional activities first expresses itself in the person's life, it may seem to do so more or less independently of the expression of the other set of functions. This apparent unrelatedness or even antagonism is because the opposition emphasizes polarity in the early stages of its 'mini-process' development. Both sets of polar activities initially operate in the life-pattern unconsciously and compulsively, perhaps through the genetic constitutions or personalities of the parents, or through other circumstances over which the person has little or no control or even awareness. As conflicts and contrasts arise, they may even result in psychological complexes. In order for the purposeful, functional nature of such conflicts to operate, they must be allowed to 'come to a head.'
The person must, first, allow to come to objective manifestation what each 'side' of the opposition represents, even if it means conflict or, initially, neurosis. Then, his or her task is to allow the conflict to generate within him or her sufficient dissatisfaction - 'energy' or 'fire by friction,' as it were - to enable an awareness to develop of what is at the root of the problem. In other words, the person must realize that no solution to the problem is forthcoming unless he or she is willing to find out and experience what really is behind and implied in the situation. If the person accepts to be the field in which the problem resolves itself - rather than insisting on an external or technical solution to what is really internal and not subject to the manipulations of technique - he or she has the possibility of becoming objective to both sides of the polarity. Perhaps with a little guidance, he or she can come to see and accept the wider developmental context in which the situation occurs.
Objectivity and acceptance eventually become detachment, which 'breaks the spell,' so to speak, of unconscious compulsion binding the operation of the opposing planetary functions to 'circumstance' seemingly 'outside' the person. As the person accepts to look at the situation as a dynamic, potentially growth-producing aspect of his or her life and being, both 'sides' of the conflict are integrated into a larger picture. The problem is 'solved' insofar as the person rises in consciousness to a level at which the conflict-aspect of the situation ceases to be the central factor. What takes its place is the challenge to express, harmoniously but dynamically - and above all, consciously - an integrated fullness of what had previously, in another form, conflicted.
Successful polarization thus ultimately actualizes a person's latent capacity to bring to objective manifestation a creative fullness of what is implied in the relationship between the two sets of opposing planetary functions. This brings the previous, prenatal involutionary development between the two opposing functions to culmination and 'flowering' in and through that person's life. It makes of him or her a potential agent through whom can be satisfied the need in answer to which the cycle began and proceeded. For this last-mentioned reason, it is often most valuable for the astrologer to refer back in the ephemeris to the previous, prenatal conjunction of two natally opposing planets. The zodiacal sign in which the conjunction occurred, any close, major aspects it may have made to other planets at the. time, and especially the meaning of the conjunction's Sabian degree: all these are symbolic clues amplifying and making more explicit what underlies the opposition-situation, and therefore what kind of repolarization, in what arena of life, is required of the person meeting such a situation.
For the person in whose birth-chart two planets are in Phase-7 opposition, failure to meet the life-experiences they refer to in such a way as to facilitate repolarization ultimately means being swept away by the devolutionary process in which crystallization and degeneration dominate. The possibility is there for the person to become more or less permanently 'suspended' between the horns of a dilemma. In extreme cases, the result can be a sort of psychic or psychological paralysis. The devolutionary rhythm then takes its toll on whatever it is to which the person is consciously and compulsively bound. Since repolarization and birth in objective consciousness have not occurred, the person can find no meaning - no broader developmental context - within which he or she can integrate the painful 'letting go.' It rather appears to him or her as a 'no win' situation, one in which he is 'damned if he does, damned if he doesn't' i.e., painfully bound to a conflict with no apparent solution, but afraid to let go of the conflicting elements because they have become structural factors around which coheres an otherwise unintegrated personality or life-pattern. Degeneration follows such crystallization, and as any particular situation degenerates, the tendency is for it to become essentially reconstituted in the life in another form. But past failures - the 'sins of omission' - tend to accumulate and complexify the situation. Successful repolarization becomes increasingly difficult and unlikely-but certainly not impossible.
Phase 8 - Sharing
Phase 8 begins with the waning quincunx, and it is therefore related in meaning to Phase 6, which began in the first hemicycle with the waxing quincunx. While Phase 6 represented the necessity of refining and adjusting expression, Phase 8 refers to the need to fine-tune vision, to adjust oneself to the realities of what one is now able clearly and objectively to see.
Phase 8 also occupies a similar position in the second half of the cyclic process to the one occupied by Phase 2 in the first hemicycle. For just as Phase 2 initially focused the subjective, actional possibilities released at the conjunction, Phase 8 focuses the objective possibilities of consciousness-development released at the cycle's culmination, and the ability to give meaning to experience steadies and grows. If the repolarization required during Phase 7 was not successful, Phase 8 can refer to a reaction to and/or compensation for the failure. It does so in terms of crystallization and progressive degeneration - illness or fruitless neurosis.
In the lives of persons with significant Phase 8 interplanetary relationships in their birth-charts, this distinction between success and failure may not be very clear-cut. For conscious understanding can develop on the basis of what we like to call positive experience as well as on the basis of what human beings fear and consider negative. Phase 8 relationships between planets challenge the growing consciousness to go beyond such moral and ethical dualities as positive/negative, good/bad, right/wrong, etc. They refer to the need to meet experiences in such a way as to widen the scope of one's understanding to include all necessities in their proper relationships to one another. This may mean having to accept what is in lieu of wishing for what 'should be' in a moral or ethical sense - and at the same time trying to bring to consciousness and work toward what is possible, what 'can be' in a progressive, evolutionary sense. It may also mean operating, at least initially, on blind faith, or in terms of a parrot-like repetition of affirmations in which one does not wholeheartedly believe. This may be necessary as a foundation, but truly inclusive understanding eventually needs to be based on a focusing and sharpening of the kind of mind that actually sees the necessity and interprets the interrelatedness of various factors and experiences. What needs most to be 'let go' during this phase of the process is exclusion-the notion that experiences are exclusively good or bad, that one will accept growth only in particular forms. Openness and inclusiveness become increasingly necessary as the waning sesquiquadrate approaches at the midpoint of Phase 8.
The waning sesquiquadrate is related in meaning to the semi-square encountered at the midpoint of Phase 2, for the sesquiquadrate is also a semi-square - 45° - from the opposition. Here the growing consciousness naturally begins to disseminate or apply to external reality its steadying vision and understanding. As it does so, it emerges from the realm of self-referential illumination, where it is primarily concerned with itself, its own pain, pleasure or process. As its attention turns outward, it may be shocked by the realities of the 'real world' into which it is awakening. Such a shock may force it to expand its growing understanding to include external realities. Its capacity to give meaning is enhanced and broadened by such an exchange. The question prematurely asked during Phase 2 becomes appropriate and significant here: "How to?" - how to reconcile the difference between what one sees and what one internally envisions? The answer: by exchanging ideas and ideals with others, and by working with others toward the fulfillment of shared goals and needs. Such working relationships provide new materials-new understandings and unfamiliar visions - which, as Phase 8 draws to a close, must be integrated into a workable philosophy of life.
The waning sesquiquadrate is also related in meaning to its counterpart in the first hemicycle, the waxing sesquiquadrate of Phase 5. Like the waxing sesquiquadrate, the waning sesquiquadrate can also involve struggle, but in the second hemicycle the struggle is to understand, to let go of exclusive points of view, to include the understandings and the needs of others in one's point of view, and to begin to assimilate the meaning of what one now sees.
Phase 9 Understanding
As the faster planet increasingly moves back toward the slower one, it symbolically 'brings' with it the harvest of the interplanetary relationship thus far. The waning trine and Phase 9 refer to such an 'ingathering,' a harvest of meaning with which one can purposefully work. The flower may have faded as the seed develops, but the fruit, protecting the seed until it is mature enough to be released, progressively ripens. While the waxing trine creatively focused the nature of the slower planet through the expression and activities of the faster one, the polarity is reversed at the waning trine. The functional activities of the faster planet enrich and bring new meaning - and eventually the necessity for questioning and re-evaluation - to the functional nature of the slower planet.
The waning trine is also related in meaning in the second hemicycle to the sextile beginning Phase 3 in the first half of the process, for it occurs 60° after the opposition, when the planets are separated by an angular distance of 240°. Opportunities to focus growing understanding, to work constructively with others toward the actualization of a shared vision, present themselves. By taking advantage of these opportunities, the person with waning trines in his or her birth-chart discovers what his or her special integrative and expressive capabilities are. He or she thus fulfills the waning trine challenge to focus in his or her life the harmonious, conscious expression of what has been developing thus far in the cycle - i.e., the 'harvest' of the interplanetary relationship. Creativity typical of the waning trine is not only based on outward expression as it was in the first hemicycle at the waxing trine. Creativity here is in addition based on 'intake' and responsiveness - on the ability to respond at the level of holistic understanding, of intuition giving meaning to the entire situation in which any event, encounter or experience occurs.
All this is primarily a concern of the evolutionary process in which the waning trine plays a significant part, and we will discuss the aspect of the situation more fully in Chapter 3. What is significant here is that especially as the waning trine separates from exact, its devolutionary facet - the catabolic side of relationship and of what has occurred since the opposition - becomes increasingly apparent. Since the opposition, consciousness has, ideally, been growing through relationship, which first acted in its evolutionary, fertilizing mode. As consciousness increasingly focuses, and 'mind' becomes formed enough to be able to give constructive meaning to 'life' or experience - no matter what it may be - this growth turns destructive, as it were, of the cohesiveness of what was built up during the first hemicycle. In other words, through Phases 7, 8 and 9 in general, relationship and the need to understand and integrate in meaning all experiences have pointed up the necessity to question the basis on which one previously acted. This is why waning trines in birth-charts often refer to involvement in relationships which turn out to be upsetting to the status quo. The most obvious encumberances of consciousness brought over from the first hemicycle assumptions, dogmatic ethical assertions, taken-for-granted values and beliefs, etc. - must be recognized as such and 'let go.'
Just as in the first hemicycle the waxing square forced one to dig down to bedrock in order to build on a solid foundation, the waning square forming at the end of Phase 9 forces the growing consciousness to plumb the depths of what it rests upon. From the opposition, and particularly from the waning trine, to the waning square, the growth of understanding undermines the foundations on which activity previously operated. As the waning square approaches, old forms of relating, feeling or behaving - or more concrete forms such as tools, social institutions, etc. - reveal their inappropriateness in the light of new understanding. They no longer fit in with new ways of thinking, nor do they elicit positive results from the material with which one is working or from partners or associates to whom one is related. As the waning square forms, a tension toward the definite breakdown of all that has become obsolete develops. What was an actional crisis in the first hemicycle becomes in the second a crisis at the level of understanding and values - a challenge to radical re-valuation out of which new insights, new values and a new philosophical basis can eventually emerge. Persons born with planets in Phase 9 relationship nearing Phase 10 relationship are challenged to meet and assimilate experiences helping to focus in their lives just such an ideological crisis.
Phase 10 - Revaluing
Like the waxing square (90°), the waning square (270°) is a particularly important turning point in a cycle. In the lunation cycle, the beginning of this phase is marked by the distinctive shape of the Last Quarter Moon, the first definite shape formed after Full Moon. What had been the round fullness of the Moon-disc has gradually diminished to a hemicircle, reminiscent again, as at First Quarter, of a straight-edged scythe slicing across the night-sky. The straight-edge of the Last Quarter Moon is oriented in the opposite direction than the First Quarter Moon's, Here again, also as at First Quarter, the Moon crosses the Earth's orbit. But now it comes back within it, moving toward the orbit of Venus, toward the Sun and the place where the next soli-lunar conjunction (New Moon) will occur.
The lunation symbolism again implies cutting away-'decision.' The crisis or decision is not at the actionallevel, at the level of 'life,' as it was at First Quarter. It is now at the level of consciousness, of understanding - of 'mind' - a philosophical, ideological parting of the ways. When the Moon crosses the orbit of the Earth going 'inward'-toward the next New Moon - the cycle is symbolically no longer operating on the actional momentum established at First Quarter and reaching culmination at Full Moon. it is rather 'drawn on,' as it were, by the promise of the next conjunction, the Moon's reunion with the Sun. As the Moon crosses the orbit of the Earth, it symbolically begins the return to 'source.' Renewal will soon be necessary, and possible.
The sinusoid figure again provides a graphic illustration of these significant points. After the involutionary process 'turned the corner' of the waxing square (B) and stabilized in the direction of the cycle's culmination (C), motion in this general direction continued, even after the line dividing the two hemicircles from one another was passed. Before the opposition (C), the direction of activity was 'outward,' toward developing objectivity and becoming conscious in terms of the individualizing process, toward actualizing. the potentiality of individual selfhood. After the opposition (C), consciousness develops, at least at first, along the same lines it 'awakened': relationship. The initial upward thrust of the second hemicircle seems to imply a kind of 'ascent' or expression of consciousness. A relatively minor 'course correction' occurs at the waning sesquiquadrate, midway between the opposition and the waning square (D). The waning square presents another significant turning point. Now, our metaphorical driver steers into the curve fully conscious. Midway through it, he is forced, as it were, to yield to centripedal force, to allow his car to be pulled inward, back toward source, the next conjunction (A1), rather than 'off track' to D1. The decision here does not involve 'taking over' as it did at First Quarter; now it involves-in its devolutionary aspect - 'letting go.'
Thus, the last quarter square is, like the first quarter, a moment of crisis and reorientation. The decision now involves 'cutting away' at the level of consciousness: severance from whatever in an individual is still rooted in a taken-for-granted collective past. For the beliefs, dogmas and assumptions beginning to be questioned at the close of Phase 9 are those inherited from parents and collective, tradition-perpetuating institutions such as churches and schools. From the devolutionary point of view, the person with significant waning squares in his or her birth-chart is challenged to recognize and root out internally whatever is still bound to this collective past. If such severance does not occur, bondage to the collective past forces the person to meet experience on the basis of handed-down solutions and techniques which' cannot provide valid and workable ways of meeting present problems because they developed in a different, no longer existing context, in response to a different set of circumstances, needs and available materials.
Like a seed forming and drawing nourishment from a dying plant, a person's mind is fed and formed by collective images impressed upon it since birth. In the development of a seed, a moment comes when its connection to its parent plant must be severed, or else both the seed and the remains of the plant will return to the soil together. If the seed is not separated far enough from the parent plant, the strong chemicals released by the decomposing structure may pierce the seed's protective covering and render it ineffectual, unable to weather the winter and germinate in the spring. So too must a person who aspires to true individuality and inclusive understanding sever his psychic connection with collective-cultural values and beliefs.
Thus, the person with significant waning squares in his or her birth-chart is called upon to be the vehicle or 'focalizer' through whom some kind of reorientation or 'revolution in consciousness' can operate- no matter how limited or wide in scope its effects may turn out to be. The person will, first, be challenged to probe deeply into taken-for-granted beliefs and values - his or her 'own' and those of the culture having impressed itself on consciousness since birth. Some set of life-events or circumstances will prompt such probing. They are significant in themselves insofar as they reveal the general area in which the person must confront what is at the root of consciousness. The outcome of the situation, whatever the actual circumstances may be, depends on this inner probing being carried out and not evaded. It must be done not only courageously, but, above all, honestly.
This last-mentioned quality of consciousness is perhaps the key to meeting successfully the challenge of the waning square. For something-some set of values, beliefs, ideas-to which one is attached has outlived its usefulness and has become obsolete; mental structures, like the flowers of spring and the husks of autumn, come and go according to the eternal rhythms of birthing and dying. The inexorable rhythm of life, of change, decrees that whatever is obsolete will, in time, disintegrate. But whether it does so while one's being and consciousness are still attached to it, depending on it to fulfill some function it can no longer perform - or whether the old structures fail and disintegrate after one has 'moved on' to operate on the basis of more vibrant and life-giving foundations - ultimately depends upon the degree to which one is truly honest with oneself when confronted with the need to re-assess and re-evaluate one's basic beliefs.
If one does not meet such a confrontation honestly, one remains attached to obsolete ideas, and no-longer-valid assumptions and images structure one's thinking and behavior. Solutions to life's problems founded upon such values fail to 'work.' Time after time, they fail to produce the kind of results one hoped would follow. Anger, resentment, resignation, bitterness: such is the harvest of the failure to let go when letting go was necessary and appropriate. Self-righteousness and a tragic sense of isolation can develop in a rigid, crystallized ego, which mistakenly thinks itself victorious over change. Degenerative diseases, whether of mind, body or both, nevertheless set in. In the long run, change always wins.
If, on the other hand, one does meet such a confrontation with one's values and beliefs honestly - which mayor may not occur the first time it comes up - some cherished images inevitably emerge tarnished, revealed as 'rusting' and obsolescent if not completely obsolete. From the devolutionary point of view, the second part of the waning-square challenge is indeed to let them go, and in some cases, to help to hasten their demise both in oneself and in others. The person having successfully faced the first challenge of the waning square is thus asked, for ultimately constructive purposes, to be part of a destructive, or destructuring process, which helps to break down whatever in himself, his community or society is no longer positively contributing to evolutionary progress, but instead stands in the way.
We have stressed here the devolutionary or 'catabolic' facet of the waning square, but in actual practice one should neither dwell on nor minimize its difficult side. What a waning square refers to in a person's life must be seen in the context of a whole process, in terms of its function of impelling someone to question the meaning of everything accepted since birth. This is, unquestionably, a difficult task, especially if one resists doing it when it is necessary. To question everything, however, does not mean that one is required to discard everything, to "throw the baby out with the dirty bath." On the contrary, the waning square is a kind of winnowing mechanism of the cyclic process, asking us to separate the kernel of experience from the husk. One does not throw out the kernels, just the husks - but of course one must be able to tell the difference, and not be attached to the husks simply because they have seemingly 'always been there' and one has become used to seeing them.
This kind of mental focusing and discriminatory ability - using the term discriminatory in its original and positive sense, not as it has recently been popularized sociopolitically - results from meeting the ideological crisis of the last quarter 'squarely: It provides the foundation on which the waning square can also operate in a positive, evolutionary way. As a person meets the crisis of the waning square, focuses in on some basic issues and breaks away from unquestioned subservience to collective dogmas, that person becomes ready and able to contribute positively to the harvest of human experience. The mind is open and free, yet also sufficiently focused to release new images - 'kernels' or 'seeds' - 'mind-seeds' - pregnant with truly evolutionary possibilities. Having met and assimilated experiences both catabolic and focusing at the level of mind, the person embraces the possibility of becoming more than merely a member of a 'demolition-derby' team. He or she becomes, potentially, an architect of a new future.
The necessity to begin reorganizing consciousness around such new, but as yet vague and indefinite images increases as the waning sextile, the beginning of Phase 11, approaches.
Phase 11 - Reorganizing
After the Last Quarter phase of the soli-lunar cycle, the Moon continues to wane, to move within the Earth's orbit back toward the Sun - back toward 'source: The directional momentum established at Last Quarter stabilizes. Symbolically, consciousness has been forced inward, back on itself for radical reassessment and revaluation. Yearned for now are new images around which consciousness can reorganize, a new or renewed connection to some vital wellspring of energy and archetypes.
The aspect beginning Phase 11 is the waning sextile, occurring when two planets are separated by an angular distance of 300 degrees. It is related in meaning to both the waxing sextile beginning Phase 2 of the overall cycle, and to the waxing trine beginning Phase 5; for the waning sextile is both 120° from the opposition or the fifth aspect formed during the second hemicycle, and 60° or two 'steps' before the next conjunction. Significant also is the fact that in this second hemicycle the sextile follows the square, while it preceeded it in the first half of the cycle.
While the waxing sextile referred to the need and latent ability to spontaneously organize inchoate materials into new forms which revealed their purpose as they developed, the waning sextile refers to the need and latent ability to reorganize understanding having been disrupted by a radical crisis of revaluation at the waning square. The most significant question surrounding this reorganization is, "Around what set of new or renewed images will reorganization take shape? To what source or 'resource' will the increasingly subjective consciousness turn, to fill what it experiences as a vacuum, an inner emptiness created when obsolete values and ideas were recognized as such and rooted out? From whence will revitalizing images arise? Whither will they lead?"
Such are the kinds of questions the waning sextile poses and challenges us to answer. Depending upon our point of view, on the perspective from which we view this aspect, the answers we offer differ. On one hand, we can look at the waning sextile primarily from the point of view of its beginning Phase 11 of the overall process, as the phase following the waning square's 'crisis in consciousness.' Having reassessed and found wanting many sociocultural values and fashions in 'thinking-feeling' of relatively recent vintage, consciousness may seek renewal in the very ancient past - symbolically, the conjunction long ago beginning the nowending cycle. In an attempt to drink again of clear and unpolluted waters close to source, consciousness goes, as it were, upstream, against the flow, to seek whatever may remain of the spirit behind the original creative impulse.
If, on the other hand, we consider the waning sextile primarily as a sort of second-hemicycle trine-l20° or five 'steps' from the cycle's culmination-consciousness may seek its new foundation in the present, depending upon its own and its associates' resources and understanding, as these have developed since the cycle's culmination, on the foundation of what was realized then. The 'source' to which consciousness turns is symbolically the opposition, and its focus is on the present rather than the past, on meeting current problems-perhaps, symbolically, trying to clean up the 'river' having become dirtied and polluted by the residual effects of past mistakes, whether these have been 'sins' of comission or of omission.
From yet a third point of view, we can consider the waning sextile primarily as two 'steps' before the next conjunction. The attempt at reorganization then turns consciousness toward the future, opens and prepares it for it. Rather than seeking an unpolluted source upstream, or trying to clean up any particular 'harbor,' this solution follows the flow to the sea, to the Source of all sources, Ocean of all potentialities. The deepest possibility here is some kind of prophetic anticipation - a sort of psychic pre-echo such as occurs acoustically on LP records sometimes-in which new images are intuited or resonated to 'in advance,' images so new that a cycle developing what is potential in them will not begin until after the coming conjunction definitely releases them.
All of the above refer to possibilities for the person in whose birth-chart waning sextiles predominate or form significant patterns. To recapitulate an ancient past, undoubtedly very beautiful and vibrant at its far-distant source; to solidify and express a present built on and at the expense of that past; to anticipate a future in which both are resolved yet superceded: these are the possibilities of what waning sextiles can mean in relation to the planetary functions involved. The key to all is reorganization, with an emphasis on the re. For there is no prophetic anticipation of new images unless old ones have definitely been let go. There is no truly now-oriented expression unless 'now' is no longer merely an extension or possible repetition of the past. There is not even any true recapitulation of the ancient past unless what is revived is really of source - eternal and ageless, not dated and of limited applicability.
Some form of creative expression often results from or stimulates reorganization of consciousness in the life of a person with planets in "Phase 11 relationship in his or her birth-chart. Creativity is latent in his or her nature, for the waning sextile is, as we're pointed out, the 'trine' of the second hemicycle - 120° or the fifth 'step' after the opposition. But what is expressed and the spirit behind its expression now are not the same as the ebullient creativity typical of the waxing trine. The term creative isn't quite right either, because rather than bringing something new into existence, creativity at the waning sextile deals more with reorganizing or rearranging old materials in an especially evocative way. What are evoked are indeed new possibilities - possibilities so new as to be 'seed possibilities' - conveyed through forms so radically different from anything produced under prevailing principles of esthetic or intellectual organization that they can only be called 'seed forms.'
Seed forms are the bare, spare, essentialized and condensed expressions of the end of a cycle. They at once recapitulate the ancient yet eternal past in which the cycle was rooted, pose the unsolved problems of the present, and anticipate as yet unknown and unknowable future solutions. They are conveyors - evocateurs - of understanding and vision rather than concrete forms serving utilitarian purposes. They may be philosophical or psychological systems, or symbolic and evocative works of art. Whatever they are, they are geared to a future of which their creator can see only the structural outline or prenatal glow. They carry consciousness to its limits, to the threshold of what can be known and consciously apprehended about the future. Their function is to implant in the minds of their creators and public alike the seeds for future development.
As Phase 11 proceeds, the waning semi-square forms. It is 45° - again an angle of maximum intensity of forces in a magnetic field from both the waning square and the coming conjunction. It is related in meaning to both the waxing semi-square and sesquiquadrate, for it also occurs 135° after the opposition. What is symbolized midway through Phase 11 is almost the mirror-reverse of what was significant during Phases 2 and 5. In the first half of the cycle, nascent future possibilities had to focus themselves, meet and at least tentatively overcome the inertia of the past (Phase 2). Actional capacities were stirred into motion, and expression became outward, vigorous and potentially explosive by the middle of Phase 5 (waxing sesquiquadrate). Now, as the cycle ends, consciousness turns increasingly toward whatever it intuits as a new or renewed source of creative potentiality. While the creator (or appreciator) of seed forms may feel himself or herself to be the product of the past - which indeed he or she is - his or her deepest identification should be increasingly with the future, unborn though it may be. Creativity may thus be intensely subjective and potentially implosive, for the person focusing the waning semisquare phase of the cycle in his or her life and birth-chart identifies with a future which few others can imagine or relate to. The person will be inwardly impelled to scatter seeds of potential rebirth - 'seed ideas,' 'seed forms' - while being challenged to embody seedhood or seed-likeness.
Thus, the functional activities represented by the semisquaring planets, the fields of experience represented by the natal houses they occupy, will be those through which the challenge to 'seedhood' will come. The environment in which the person operates may be hostile or relatively receptive to the futureward vision he or she endeavors to embody and exteriorize - most likely the former. In either case, the person with planets in waning semi-square relationship will be challenged to become outwardly self-sufficient and inwardly dedicated - like a seed, totally self-contained and consecrated to participating in a process which is understood and accepted as far greater than the span of the person's own life and consciousness. Like Moses and the Promised Land, the seed-man or - woman of even the most prophetic vision cannot actually 'enter' the future. The pressure of karma, of the unfinished business of the past of which the person is indeed the product, is too great. At this phase of the process, all one can-and must-do is to see and point the way.
This most humbling of all 'lessons' increasingly hits home as Phase 12, the final phase in the process, begins.
Phase 12 - Releasing
The waning semi-sextile begins the final 'step' of the psychlic* process. In the lunation cycle, the Moon is again a slim Crescent, or more properly, de-Crescent, for it is oriented in the opposite direction from the Crescent beginning the cycle. The inverted lunar Crescent rises for a few days ahead of the Sun announcing the new day. Like the Phoenix descending into consuming flames from which it will rise again, the Moon is soon caught in the fiery embrace of the Sun, and disappears from view until after New Moon. What occurs between the two Crescents, when the Moon is absent from the nightsky and darkness prevails, is thus unseen - a mystery - a most profound transition between a cycle now ending and another yet to begin.
*This was an interesting typographical error that I thought I would leave here. - LR
In more human terms, the Moon's absence from the night-sky symbolizes the subjectivity to which consciousness returns at the end of a cycle. It has, ideally, utterly repudiated reliance upon what is external and traditional, dedicating itself instead to cultivating a vision of an unborn but increasingly compelling future sustaining it from within. Outwardly, deeper issues may seem, mysteriously, to take care of themselves, to be subsumed in a largely unconscious process of inner assimilation and transition. Problems of daily living, must still be met, and since traditional solutions are no longer relied upon, answers and the inspiration for new approaches must be sought within.
On one hand, such an inner search can mean an anarchic 'every man for himself': "Don't bother me, I'm doing my own thing." While each individual must seek an inner source of inspiration, at the collective level alternatives replacing traditional approaches to daily living will arise, and they will come through especially open and enterprising individuals. Some individuals rising to the challenge of seedhood during the last phases of a cycle manage to both free themselves from collective cultural domination and 'return' to serve the collective by becoming dedicated channels through whom new images can be implanted in human consciousness. They do not become caught up in the kind of atomistic individuality possible when traditional constraints have been abandoned. Neither do they spurn the possibility of being actively related to a greater whole or greater process in favor of "doing their own thing."
In birth-charts, waning semi-sextiles are not usually considered significant aspects, possibly because they refer to matters not usually requiring a great deal of conscious attention or even understanding from the person in whose chart they occur. This is often true unless - and this is a significant unless - the Phase 12 interplanetary relationship is particularly focal in the birth-charts overall planetary pattern (gestalt), in more exteriorizing aspect to a third planet, or very close to (in orb of) conjunction. An example of the first instance would be, say, a see-saw* chart in which two planets in waning semi-sextile occupy one half of the pattern. An example of the second instance would be what occurs faster planet A were 300 behind slower planet B, and either one or the midpoint of both were aspected, say squared, opposed or trined, etc., by planet C. Such situations would tend to bring out into the open a process of assimilation and qualities of being which would otherwise remain more internal or subjective.
*cf. Person-Centered Astrology by Dane Rudhyar, p. 175ff.
In these types of situations we see lived out (at least potentially) the inner workings of what otherwise occurs subjectively when a cycle ends. The person whose chart contains significant Phase 12 interplanetary relationships - especially as they approach conjunction - develops and matures to focus in his or her being the essence of both the accomplishments or 'successes' and the unfinished business or relative failures of the entire now-ending cycle. Both sides of such a polarity are latent in his or her being. Here the task is living out the two. This means manifesting in more or less objective or subjective ways both the assimilated harvest of a by - now degenerated past and an openness to an as - yet unknown and uncertain future which is, ideally, increasingly acknowledged to be necessary.
Thus, at the close of the cycle, as at the beginning, consciousness and activity are poised, as it were, midway between past and future. An internal polarization at final conjunction complements the one we saw operating at the interplanetary opposition. The more deeply one probes past experience for new solutions and inspiration, the more wanting and empty of vital, compelling meaning past experience reveals itself to be. The more consciousness tries to project itself into the future, to intuit in some relatively definite way what a new creative impetus might bring and mean, the more it falls back upon itself. Since it has been formed and molded by the past, a steady vision of a truly new future will always elude it: old bottles should not be used to hold new wine. A truly new future is always more than merely an extrapolation of the past.
This Catch-22 characterizing the end of the cycle can manifest in a variety of ways in the lives of persons whose birth-charts contain significant waning conjunctions. Such people often learn to deeply mistrust the traditional past represented by the conjoining planetary functions and operating in the natal house occupied by their conjunction. Whether through rebellion or inner compulsion, they may be driven to seek new directions for these functions' expression. As long as a person is the product of the past and/or rebels against it, he or she is bound to that past. The connection to the past cannot be truly left behind until one comes in touch with a vision of a future so compelling that it irresistibly dynamizes being, consciousness, activity and incinerates pastward ties. Like Moses and the Promised Land, a person cannot 'enter' or even envision a truly new future in that future's own terms-until and unless the past in him or her is released.
The kind of release providing the 'way out' of the end-cycle Catch-22 is more than a simple, conscious letting go. It is deeper, indeed more mysterious. It is one thing for a dying plant to release seeds; it is another for the seed to 'release' the plant that bore it, to allow it to die. Yet it is precisely this more internalized release which enables the seed-in-the end to become - after a period of dormancy - the seed-in-the-beginning. The two are not the same: this spring's germs are not 'the same' plants as died last fall, nor will this summer's roses be 'the same' flowers that blossomed last year.
What then transforms the 'seed-in-the-end' into the 'seed-in-the-beginning?' What is the 'out' of the Catch-22 past/future polarization ending the cycle? What calls down into the realm of human consciousness and experience a creative release of truly new potentiality? We may say with St. John, "In the beginning was the Word," but the creative Word is always what it is - a particular, focused spiritual impulse - in answer to a need, a need clearly focused and formulated at the end of a cycle which acts as a vessel, as both an emptiness needing filling and as a container capable of receiving and holding a creative downpour. As the vessel is formed, to such a shape will the malleable, molten contents conform later on.
Thus, it is useless for the person caught in the end-cycle polarization to turn exclusively to either the past for solutions or the future for inspiration. The person with a (or several) waning conjunction in the birth-chart is instead challenged to identify being, consciousness and activity with the need for a new creative impulse in which both the past and future are united. Such a person lives the duality inherent in the end of the cycle, and his or her life and being give form and formulation to what is needed next. This need - as it is lived is what will summon forth the release of truly new potentialities beginning the next cycle. To the quality of the way the need is formulated, the quality of spiritual impulse answers. It gives to the unfinished business and decaying remains of the past an opportunity to become reincorporated into living structures in a transformed way.
Just as one can call half-empty or half-full a 12-ounce glass containing 6 ounces-or concentrate on figure or ground, or the image of a chalice or the two profiles forming it - so too can a need be lived in one of two basic attitudes. One can focus upon the facet of personal lack, on emptiness, confusion and frustration. Or, one can emphasize the quality of meta-personal service behind making oneself a vessel fit to call forth and receive a new potential fullness. To live an open-ended need instead of a closed solution either culled or extrapolated from past experience represents the greatest release and deepest 'letting go' of all. It is to sacrifice what the personal ego wants and envisions for what the higher, transpersonal intuition senses but cannot grasp. It is to die into the lesser so that the greater can later be born and, like a seed, to allow a kind of 'empty,' dormant interlude between two cycles to do its mysterious work.
As the cycle comes to a close, Oroboros curves back upon himself, swallowing his own tail. The seed-in-the-beginning has now become the seed-in-the-end, waiting to be transformed into a seed-in-the-beginning, It occurs not 'again,' for all is new - and yet the same: eternal, Aeonic. So subjective and protectively self-enveloped has consciousness become that it cannot communicate the difference, nor needs it to. It is and does the difference and the sameness of the task: Seedhood waits. . . and waits. It is not 'patient,' for it knows not that time, an objective measure, passes. It is one with the inner rhythm of the cycle. In spring, warm Sun, caressing breeze and rain, blessed rain, will be answered by a green, upspringing germ. Again, yet ever anew.