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THE SELF

AN ASTROLOGICAL KEY TO AN INTEGRAL PSYCHOLOGY

Dane Rudhyar

Consider the physical organism of a human being: it is made of skin and muscles, intricate circulatory and nervous systems, digestive organs and endocrine glands and, keeping them all in consistent alignment and in their proper places, is a bony structure, the skeleton. The psyche of an individual person, even though one may not wish to describe it as an actual and substantial organism itself, is nevertheless to be regarded as having a basic structure. Within this structure are functional systems of response to experience which enable the psyche to "assimilate" this experience, to learn and grow from it, and to direct bodily activities. When Jung characterizes the psyche as "a self-regulating system" obeying "the law of complementariness, according to which the various psychic factors stand in complementary or compensatory relation to each other," he implies the functional nature of the psyche. And function presupposes structure, provided we give to the term "structure" a very broad meaning the meaning of (at least relatively) a constant pattern of operation.

A "self-regulating system" is, in this sense, a structural system. The ego is the structural foundation of the psyche; and likewise, in the realm of mental activity, logic is the structural foundation of coherent and rigorous thought.  In the modern theory of relativity, space-time is considered as the structural foundation of the universe of human experience. The ego-structure, however, is susceptible to profound modifications and differentiation. It must be understood to exist at several levels of evolutionary stages.

First, there is the generic ego-structure, which is merely "human" the root of psychic processes, the sum-total of the basic laws which regulate the psychic (or "inner") life of human beings wherever born. This generic ego-structure differentiates into several "types." Some of these form the basis of a seven-fold classification outlined by Dr. Assagioli; the others are determined by racial and national, religious and cultural even family characteristics. Finally, as a result of a long historical process of social, religious, cultural, and economic evolution  and through the synchronous action of the spirit the differentiation of individual ego structures is made possible. While the more basic structures develop during the prenatal period, the individual ego presumably begins to be differentiated as soon as the shock of birth occurs and the environmental-social impacts of the extra-uterine world are experienced. The period of individual ego differentiation seems to be essentially ended around the time of the seventh birthday. The contents of this ego will constantly increase as the experience of the individual expands. They continually change in substance and orientation. But the structure itself can be considered formed at seven (perhaps before). The ego develops further for a number of years, yet its essential characteristics are quite set before adolescence, entirely so by the age of 28.

This individualized ego-structure is the foundation of our sense of "I," and it constitutes a permanent frame of reference to which personal experiences are related. Thus related, they become conscious. Consciousness is an expression of relatedness. The ego the individuality of the person is not, however, only a bare structure. It is a structure energized or vivified by what Jung calls "psychic energy" (or libido). Astrologically speaking, the structure is "ruled" by Saturn; the energy within this structure is symbolized by the Moon the polar complement of Saturn. This energy does not remain at a steady level. It ebbs and flows, just as the Moon waxes and wanes. The ego is "I am" "I" (the structure) and "am" (the energy within it).

But what an educated American person means today when he says "I am," and what the tribesman of olden days, or the Hindu of 2000 B.C. living in the steady and static society described by the Laws of Manu, meant by similar terms are very different things. In ancient times (and even today in many parts of the world) when a person says "I" he refers to his generic ego-structure and its social-cultural differentiations. These structures are his frame of reference his ego and he knows no other. His is a collective ego structured by biological instincts and social-religious traditions, desires, and "taboos." But it is nevertheless the person's ego; he is conscious by referring his experience to this permanent psychic "self-regulating system" and in no other way (save for exceptional cases).

However, as the general process of structural differentiation proceeds in the vanguard of humankind and as individualized ego-structures appear in increasing numbers in societies whose level of civilization gradually rises, these newly differentiated ego-structures are thrust into the limelight. They become endowed with the highest value, and the individuals who can significantly and successfully refer their life-experience to them increasingly tend to forget the older and simpler frames of reference the collective ego-types. Then these collective structures slide into the unconscious, simply because they are no longer valued as significant frames of reference for the development of consciousness out of the raw materials of everyday experience. However, they do not altogether disappear. They emerge above the threshold of consciousness in dreams and under conditions of great stress. They still constitute the foundations of psychic processes; but when individualized people become so concerned with erecting cupolas, manufacturing stained glass windows, or playing organ-music in the "upper regions" of their psyche, they no longer pay attention to these foundations unless something goes wrong with the building or a social earthquake shakes the walls. These "upper regions" in which everything recognized as being of value now happens alone come to be called the "ego." The modern person's "I am" is identified with the highly differentiated structures of the psyche, for it is only through the use of these structures that he obtains consciousness. The "lower structures" the crypt and the foundations are frames of reference only for most unusual experiences which nothing "above the ground" can make significant, thus conscious. Whatever happens in relation to these "lower structures" is therefore normally unconscious. Yet these "lower structures" were once considered the ego.

The historical evolution of the ego in humanity somewhat repeats itself during the first years of babyhood and first of all during the embryonic period of intra-uterine life. What Dr. Kunkel with the keenest insight called the transition from "the primal We" to the egocentric type of consciousness (cf. particularly his outstanding book Character, Growth, Education) is the change from the earlier foundational and instinctive frame of reference to a new and more differentiated one which comes to be known exclusively as the ego, because consciousness depends more and more entirely upon its use. However, the ego is not (as Jung says) the "center" of the conscious. Rather it is a frame of reference in relation to which the raw data of experience becomes conscious. Neither should it be considered as a "sham center" (Kunkel), but as a psychic structure (within which energy ebbs and flows) conditioned and differentiated by a particular set of social-cultural, hereditary, and environmental pressures. These pressures constitute the "mould" (or karma) that gives form to the ego-structure. They are the totality of the experiences of humankind, and a particular race, culture, family to which the newborn child adds its own set of experiences, as determinant of the more individualized portions of this ego-structure.

However, can one speak of experiences without implying an experiencer? Is there not more to the ego than structure and energy a mysterious something that, for lack of a better term, one is almost compelled to call a "center?" Indeed, I believe that wherever there is a definite and relatively permanent structure with energy circulating through it, we can speak of some kind of dynamic center, or center of gravity. We should speak even more of a point of influx of energy, a fountainhead of power. But one cannot understand what this fountainhead is, or means, unless one realizes the nature and origin of the psychic energy which fills the ego-structure; and this leads us to consider a transcendent reality, the Self.

For reasons of psychological experience and philosophical understanding, I believe that it is necessary to assume the reality of a Self. Behind or beyond the "I" (which can be shattered by the pressure of social chaos because it develops as a function of collective experience or individual reactions to social conditions) there must be a more permanent factor which Oriental philosophers have called the Experiencer, the Watcher, the Admonisher, the Ingatherer of all the fruits of human activities,  the Divine Witness. But we must be exceedingly careful in determining its character, meaning, and function. This Self as we conceive it is to be essentially regarded as a universal factor, even though it can become more or less "individualized" in human personalities. Because it is universal we should not give it a geometrical position. We should rather call it Space, or the wholeness of the Whole, or the Great Harmony or with the Chinese, Tao.

In astrological symbolism, the Sun is usually made to signify the Self Dr. Assagioli's "higher Self" and the Moon, the "conscious (or personal) self." But these two celestial bodies should be considered as sources of energy-radiation rather than as "centers." The Sun even in the modern heliocentric system is not a true center. It is one of the two foci of the ellipses which constitute the planets' orbits. The Sun is the common focus of all these orbits, the focus which they all share Dr. Kunkel would say the "We'' center. But each orbit has another focus which is strictly its own, which it does not share. It thus is far more significant to say that the Sun is the source or fountainhead of energy for the entire solar system. Indeed some occultists have called the Sun "a bundle of electromagnetic forces," a veil thrown over the "real Sun." This "real Sun," however, should best be understood as the space defined by the orbit of the planets. The real Sun for the Earth is the space circumscribed by the Earth's orbit. This space should not be considered, however, as an empty something; but, instead, as fullness of being. It is the true symbol of the Self. At a higher, because more inclusive, level of universality, the Self takes the symbolic appearance of the space of the galaxy, then of the entire universe. It is always "space." The energies streaming forth endlessly from suns and stars are inter-related in space and harmonized in a continuum of relationship which is the substance, or substratum, of universal being.

The stars, however, are simply points of emanation of energy. Indeed, energy streams through them, rather than from them. They are fountainheads. Likewise this "Self" which modern psychologists regard as "the center of the totality of the psyche" is not the reality of the Self, but rather the point of emanation of light, spirit, intelligence, creative power, and tone. "Through" it that essential quality of being which is an aspect of divinity, one of the "attributes" or "names" of God, radiates; it pervades the whole of our individual nature. We "live, move, and have our being" in this emanation of the Self. But this Self, being universal, cannot reach our consciousness or affect our particularized mode or condition of existence unless the "energy of the Self" is focalized unless it passes through a sort of symbolical lens or fountainhead through which it reaches the sphere of our personal being.

The "real" world of science, as well as of psychology and of occult philosophy, is the world of forces or energy. With reference to a living organism, energy manifests as process. We cannot approach the study of human nature in a vital or effective manner until we are ready to interpret what we observe in terms of process, that is, of structure-defined operations based on cyclic manifestations of energy. Energy, however, must be focalized in order to be operative, in order to emerge from a condition of universal potentiality into one of individualized (or particularized) activity. Any organized system contains such points of emergence or fountainheads of energy.

In our geocentric universe, the Sun and the Moon constitute such sources of energy; but while the Sun is a "point of emanation" of energy, the Moon (and the planets) are "reflecting lenses"; they reflect a portion or aspect of the solar emanation. Analogically speaking, the energy which circulates through the ego-structure of the psyche is the reflected energy of the Self. We call it "lunar" energy. The Moon itself, however, does not symbolize the ego, but only the source from which flows the psychic energy circulating through the ego. This psychic energy (the libido as defined by C. G. Jung) is reflected energy: that portion or aspect of the energy of the Self which the ego-structure is capable of containing and utilizing. Its ebbs and flows are measured astrologically by the periodical motions of the Moon.

Thus, in studying the human personality, we have to carefully distinguish between two types of energy: (1) the direct (or "solar") energy of the Self pervading the whole of the personality (body and psyche), and (2) the portion or aspect of this energy reflected (by the symbolic "Moon") into the ego-structure and the body the psychic energy or libido. While the former is essentially steady and constant, the latter is subject to ebbs and flows. What this means in terms of body-functions is clear enough, for we can readily see that while the heart and the lungs (above the diaphragm) are in a continual and relatively constant state of functional activity, the other organic functions (metabolism, glandular secretions including those of the sex glands muscular activities, nerve responses, etc.) are subject to daily ups and downs, as well as to definite cyclic modifications throughout the entire life-span.

There is likewise a distinction between the "solar" and the "lunar" types of energy operating through the psyche. The former is steady, simple, "pure" like a clear and all-pervasive tone vibrating through our inner being, yet unheard by all but a very few individuals whose spiritual "ears" (consciousness) have been opened. It is the tone of the spirit within, the direct emanation of the Self, the heartbeat of the Living God or of the God-yet-unborn which may come to "breathe" within us as a fully individualized Presence (Solar Being). Then, there is the "lunar" energy which animates our ego-structured feelings, moods, desires, emotions and our pride, which, when hindered or congested, becomes the substance of our complexes, fears, rebellions, loneliness, and anxieties.

This "lunar energy" is, I repeat, that portion or aspect of the energy of the Self which our ego-structure is able consciously to contain and to put to use. It provides us with the power to make daily adjustments to our environment and to the requirements of our society, culture, religious tradition, etc. It is therefore conditioned by collective factors; and yet, it also enables us to deal with our inner experiences, to develop an individual sense of values (Venus-symbol) and individual modes of thought (Mercury-symbol). This two-fold orientation of the psychic energy is symbolized by the fact that, half of the time, the Moon is outside of the Earth's orbit (our total being) thus, related to the outer world and the planets of initiative (Mars) and social relatedness (Jupiter and Saturn) while, the other half of the time, the Moon is inside of the Earth's orbit, and thus related to the inner planets, Venus and Mercury.

The average, so-called normal, human being lives almost exclusively in terms of his ego-structure and the ebbs and flows of psychic energy caused by the varying orientation of the "reflecting lens" which focuses the useable portion of the energy of the Self. The ego-structure determines the character of his "I"; the variously oriented psychic energy, his ever-changing "am-ness." "I am happy I am angry I am bad I am sick" says the individual. The adjectives which qualify the "am" are expressions of changing moods and feelings, reactions to the environment, or to inner pressures. There is no stability in that realm of the ego because, while the essential structure of the ego (the individual character of Mr. So-and-So) may remain relatively unchanged as the sense of "I," the energy which substantiates this sense of "I" (its indispensable "am") flows in a constantly altered direction and always carries new stimulants to the instrumentalities of the consciousness as the blood carries hormones and toxins, minerals and antibodies, in ever varying proportions to the brain.

The Moon, in astrological symbolism, thus represents the focus of the conscious attention. It is often connected with the mentality, in the sense that it indicates the direction of the process of relationship and adjustment to "objects" which constantly produces new consciousness, and consolidates or challenges old conscious data and types of adjustment or complexes. When the Moon is in close contact with Venus and Mercury (the two planets inside of the Earth's orbit thus, representing mainly the individual's "inner functions"), it symbolizes a state of inward or introverted attention. The individual in this state has the possibility of reaching a consciousness of "solar" values. Mercury and Venus astrologically "rule" the breathing function and at least some aspects of the thyroid's activity and these have a close relation to the heart's rhythm. Psychologically speaking, through his mind (Mercury) and his sense of value and sympathy or love (Venus), the individual in due time emerges from bondage to his particular ego-structure into the universalistic world of the Self. He breaks through Saturnian walls, and becomes aware of the light and power of the Self.

In order to describe this process, the old Chinese philosophers differentiated between the individual with a closed centrum and the one with an open centrum. The former would be an individual whose ego-structure is shut tight to the universal world of light. His consciousness is cramped, or entirely absorbed by the problem of maintaining its structure against every conceivable impact and encroachment; indeed, he is either insecure or in constant fear of losing his spiritual integrity. In the other case, we find an individual in a state of structural relaxation, or "openness to the world," breathing deeply and freely, in trust, faith, and inner mental-emotional security. The core of his ego is like the open diaphragm of a camera, letting light stream through.

In the first case, the consciousness is filled exclusively with "lunar" contents, determined solely by the ego-structure. The only "light" in the inner life of the individual is that of the "Moon" the nexus of psychic energies from which the power of the Self is reflected. In the second case (the open centrum individual), the "diaphragm" of the psyche is wide open, letting the "solar" light (the energy of the Self) flood the consciousness. The individual is "illumined." This open diaphragm through which this light pours appears to the consciousness as an inner Sun. It becomes indeed, as Jung describes it, the effulgent center of a new and radiant personality. It is not really a "center," however, as much as an opening through which the various emanations of the Self the Holy Spirit pour into the ego-structure.

Before this diaphragm relaxes and opens, the ego-structure is dark, or Moon-lighted. As it opens, the ego-structure becomes filled with "solar" light and spirit. This is the Transfiguration. But as Jesus descended from the Mount of Transfiguration, his features were still those of the man born of Mary (the symbolic "sea" of human nature). Yet, now, they shone with light. He had surrendered only his darkness to God, his "lunar" self his mother-complex, anima, and unconscious shadow. He had become "Christed" with the vibrancy of his individualized "orbit" of Selfhood, and of a still vaster cosmic "orbit."

Thus, we find that the general structure of the solar system provides us with a most adequate symbolic representation of the totality of a human person and this fact establishes a foundation for all astrological interpretations. As we seek to gain a vital and dynamic understanding of human nature and individual personality, the following points are of essential importance:

1. The "real"-world is a world in which energies operate rhythmically within relatively permanent structural systems. It is a world of "processes" and of constant inter-relatedness of energies within definite spaces.

2. We have to distinguish two types of systems (or coordinates) in human beings, and two types of basic energies which we can call "solar" and "lunar." The former refers to the Self; the latter, to the ego. Self is to be understood in terms of space (primarily the orbit of the Earth and later the space covered by the entire solar system); ego, in terms of structure. The energy circulating within the ego-structure is a reflected portion of the energy emanating from the Self.

3. The ego-structure is molded by racial, ancestral, and cultural factors, and, in its individualized "upper level," by the child's reaction to his environment. It is thus conditioned by collective influences. The limited, particularized consciousness of the ego is sustained in an unsteady manner by the ceaselessly ebbing and flowing psychic energy reflecting this structure by the Moon-factor. The Moon symbolizes the "focus of attention" of the consciousness, that upon which a portion of the energy of the Self reflects itself becoming then modified and differentiated as psychic energy within the ego-structure.

4. The inner planets, Mercury and Venus, are focalizers of "solar" energy within the Earth's orbit. They establish vibratory paths or links between the ego-consciousness and the Self. The planets outside the Earth's orbit are external organic foci which link the individual psyche to the larger world of society. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto represent the transcendent agencies through which the Saturn-bound ego-consciousness is transformed and repolarized under the inflow of direct "solar" energy. The individual Self (Earth-orbit space) is thus reoriented and finds itself (through a process of "psychosynthesis") a functional participant in a spiritual Group or "Communion" (the entire solar system). This is the "solar" We, itself a participant in a still vaster pleroma.

5. On these principles can be built a truly integral and harmonic psychology, in which the elements of psychic and bodily structure, energy and process, are seen related to a Self whose symbol is Space, the spiritual and creative fullness of vibrant being.

 

Astrology & the Modern Psyche

 

Mindfire