PRINCIPLES OF ASTROLOGICAL INTERPRETATION
Interpretation, in order to be fully significant and creative, must needs be individual. No man, therefore, should tell another man how to interpret his experience or any life-structure and event with which he is confronted. All that can be done is to establish a few general principles of interpretation which are universally valid, and which may serve as milestones in the process of interpretation, which should be determined, for each individual, by the manner in which he has succeeded in interpreting the basic fact of his experience: himself.
The interpretation of a birth-chart is no different from the interpretation of any life-situation, nor from the interpretation of a work of art or of a personality which one meets for the first time. Granted that, in order to interpret an astrological birth-chart, one should first of all be thoroughly cognizant of the general significance of astrological facts, or rather symbols; granted that a knowledge of the contents of the preceding chapters of this book is a prerequisite to an interpretation which would be true at least to the attitude to astrology which we uphold — it still remains that in astrological interpretation there is nothing either more mysterious or less mysterious than in any other instance of life-interpretation. Universal principles have been stated, defining the general character of the symbols used. It is for the individual to let these symbols organize themselves into wholes of significance within his own particular structure of understanding.
It sounds very simple, and yet, evidently, it may be very difficult. The beginner will "not know how to start." He will stare at the chart in dumb bewilderment, and nothing will happen. Or else he will tabulate every factor he can think of and look in textbooks for what each factor is said to mean. And if he tries to add these separate meanings, he will — barring exceptional cases — find a hopelessly confusing situation, in which many factors will negate as many others. Establishing an average will prove of very little use, as human beings are not so conveniently simple as that procedure would suggest them to be. Especially, they are not sum totals of separate factors, but rather an organic relationship of relations between factors. Shall one therefore start with the "factors," or with the "relations between factors," or even with the "organic relationship between relations"?
Every potential interpreter must decide for himself — according to the nature of his own understanding. Some will go from the whole to the parts, then to relations between parts, and again will reconsider the whole as an organism of relations. Others will just as wisely analyze parts, then relations between parts, and will sum up by centering the meanings already determined around some center of significance, or "focal determinator."
There is, however, a primary operation, not mentioned so far, which is really the foundation — though ordinarily an unconscious one — of the subsequent process of interpretation. Such an operation is implied in the very first look which one casts at an astrological chart; for every man, looking at a chart to be interpreted, will have or should have determined, clearly or not, as a background for further investigation, what he is looking for. By this rather blunt statement we mean his a priori attitude toward whatever data are included in the chart. Some interpreters will have decided beforehand, unconsciously if not deliberately, that they are looking for good and evil planets, benefics and malefics, good and bad aspects, fortunate and unfortunate signs and stars. They will scan progressions for fortunate and unfortunate events. Other interpreters will look for the picture of a human being and a destiny, and will interpret this and that planet or sign as an etcher deals with black and white values, a painter with chiaroscuro.
In other words, two basic attitudes toward interpretation are possible — and many secondary blends of these two, besides: the ethical and the esthetical attitudes. We have already defined in general these two approaches to an evaluation and understanding of life in our chapter "Astrology and Analytical Psychology." What remains to be done is briefly to show how the esthetical attitude operates precisely in the field of chart-interpretation. The working of the "ethical" attitude hardly needs to be discussed, as every textbook of post-medieval and even modern astrology, and the ordinary type of astrological practice, are sufficient exemplifications of the ethical method and of its dualistic valuations: good and evil. But the "esthetical" approach is still a mystery for an overwhelming majority of astrological students.
The reason why this is so is undoubtedly that any interpretation and evaluation of life and of its two basic elements — such as male and female, the Chinese Yang and Yin, light and darkness, positive and negative — have thus far been established at the physiological-natural level of consciousness. In other words, man's vital attitude has thus far been based on his instincts, and colored by the result of instinctual activities. Light and summer were good because life was safer and easier when both were in the ascendancy; but darkness and winter were bad because life was more unsafe and harder when they held sway. In a similar way, there was an ethical under-valuation of woman and an over-valuation of man; for a man was better able to work for his life in the "jungle," and a woman was weighed down by physiological difficulties.
Until recently mankind has been in the strictly physiological stage of its development — as we saw in the first chapter of this book. The Hindu Puranas speak of this stage as that of "hand and sex power." A most interesting characterization! "Hand power" refers to muscular activity, and in terms thereof the passive-woman pole is seen as inferior. As for "sex power," it all depends upon the way sex is considered. As the manifestation of the creative force and of life, sex makes of the woman, as mother, the positive: thus matriarchy. But as a mode of "activity" (muscular and otherwise), it makes of man the positive. The type of environment in which human tribes lived had undoubtedly much to do in determining which attitude was held. As a result, we have the conflict between the matriarchal and the patriarchal systems.
All realms of human relationship, from family life to tribal and national social organizations, have been pervaded by the more or less conscious physiological type of valuation. Moreover, all that has seemed valid for the vast majority of men has been the effort to perpetuate at all cost the physical organism in a condition of relative physiological health and psychological happiness. Thus everything that tended to disrupt — even temporarily — health and happiness (plus prosperity) has been evaluated as evil; while that which consolidated or established health, happiness and prosperity has been considered good. Everything that gave rise to a sense of pressure or weight, to any disturbances from the happy normality of home, religion, and traditional behavior, has been labeled "bad." Thus Saturn and Mars are malefics. Squares are bad aspects. Oppositions, and the doubts they generate (as necessary stimulations to further efforts of understanding) are also bad. But the expansive Jupiter and the home-building Venus are benefics; and trines which bring in new perspectives and new plans are good aspects.
As, however, man's consciousness begins to establish itself at the psycho-mental level, and to conceive its relation to a greater Whole, the power of which it may deliberately focalize as the foundation for super-personal yet conscious activity, the matter of maintenance of the physical organism, the problem of health-happiness-prosperity, and the instinctive fear of that which might break the comfort of blood-relationships and earth-born traditions — all these take on different valuations. At a transitional stage the "good-bad" consideration seems for a time strenuously emphasized, though there is a transference of the focus of discrimination — as we can see in Christian ethics; but later still, life begins to be considered truly "beyond good and evil" — and even beyond happiness. It begins to be seen from the point of view of the creative artist, who knows well that "blacks" are just as necessary and just as significant as "whites" in a black-and-white drawing; that without both there could be no form and therefore no significance. Then the esthetical attitude toward life is born — the attitude of "operative wholeness," the goal of "release of power through significant form." For such an attitude there are neither "good" nor "bad," but only degrees of actualization of meaning through forms conveying more or less purely and precisely such meaning. Every life is a work of art which either successfully conveys the meaning that prompted it into being, or turns out as a formless, inexpressive, unconvincing, trite, "wishy-washy" conglomeration of inchoate efforts that have led nowhere — or else as an almost blank sheet of substance but vaguely suggesting commonplace, utterly non-individual, and meaningless shapes.
The following statements — in a somewhat negative way — may serve as postulates of the esthetical attitude toward astrological interpretation:
A. There is no bad planet. Every planet has a definite function. Every function is necessary to the achievement of organic wholeness. Elimination is as valuable as assimilation. The boil which frees the system from poisons is as valuable as the flesh which rounds up the angles of the bones.
B. There is no bad aspect. Involution is as necessary as evolution. The destruction of forms that have become dead shells and the release of the power they held are as valuable as the building of new forms. Tensions are as valuable as ease, and more creative.
C. Each zodiacal sign is as good to be born in as any other. There is no better birth-month or birth-day. What matters only is to fulfill the life-function or "quality" revealed by the sign or degree-symbol.
D. No birth-chart is better than any other. One is always better for some one purpose. But as all purposes are equally valuable and necessary in the economy of the greater Whole, each man's chart is better for the purposes of his life than is anybody else's.
If there is any "evil," it lies in the absolute identification of the consciousness and of the "I" with only one particular phase of one's totality, instead of with the wholeness of being. Evil is thus over-emphasis; or rather, it is the fact of the "I" being bound to and biased by such an over-emphasis. Any planet, in that sense, is "bad" where it flares up into a prominence which negates the compensatory operation of its polar opposite. Any element of a chart, when it is seen to dominate utterly and to pull to itself the nearly total energy of the field of consciousness, becomes ''bad.'' Sooner or later its domination must be broken, if the man is to achieve wholeness.
This does not invalidate "focalization." But to focalize the totality of one's energy for the fulfillment of an individual — and even more, of a super-personal — purpose, is one thing; to identify one's "I" with one single part of the wholeness of the being, so that all other parts become thwarted in their development, is another thing. Only the latter can be called ''bad,'' if one insists on using such an unfortunate qualification! And even such a ''badness'' may easily be a purely temporary matter, which turns out to be a valuable phase of a development which proceeds by sharp contrasts. Thus we must be careful lest we transfer the ethical valuation of "good" and ''bad'' to the new level, and call the whole "good" and the parts "bad." Where there is at least relative evil is not in the part being a part, but in the wholeness of the whole abdicating to a part which claims to be or to rule the whole. In that sense, evil is to become what one is not; and good, to fulfill what one is. The law of life, the good law, is the law of fulfillment of dharma, that is, of that which one inherently and archetypally is.
And thus we are led in thought back to the great Hindu book, the Bhagavad Gita, which says, in the third chapter:
"Therefore perform thou that which thou hast to do, at all times unmindful of the event; for the man who doeth that which he hath to do, without attachment to the result, obtaineth the Supreme . . . It is better to do one's own duty (dharma), even though it be devoid of excellence, than to perform another's duty well. It is better to perish in the performance of one's own duty; the duty of another is full of danger."
To become what one is; to become the fullness of what one is; in other words, to live whole — even if this wholeness is subsequently to be focalized utterly upon one task, to the performance of which every element of the being contributes by deliberate transference and psychic substitution — such is the ageless and universal ideal for the individual. It means the perfect correlation of all values within the personality on its way toward full individuation. It means the perfect correlation of individual and collective factors in the creative, ceaselessly operating. The collective provides the substantial elements; the individual provides a form of organization, or structure — which is the exteriorization of the monadic "quality," which in turn is the spiritual identity of the creative. And out of this ever-active, ever-sounding chord of being and becoming — of becoming operating in and through being, of being substantialized and made operative in and through becoming emerges the creative wholeness of the organic whole.
Astrology illustrates, exemplifies, provides applications for all these correlations. But it too must be understood whole. It too must be integrated in and through an esthetic approach which alone can reveal a totality of meaning. We have seen previously how this correlation of being and becoming can be perceived in and through the interaction of birth-chart, progressions, directions and transits. Here again we can point to the fallacy, evident in so much present-day astrological practice, of considering birth-chart and progressions apart from each other. An aspect between progressed planets means little, unless it be related to the birth-chart, to its radical planets, and to the houses in which the aspect operates. Day-by-day aspects are still less significant to an individual, unless they are seen as "transits" proper — that is, referred to the natal chart. Everywhere the genius of astrology is to be found in correlations, in groupings, in balancing lights against shadows, blacks against whites, formative against destructive agencies — accepting all of them equally as functions of the organic wholeness of the whole, discriminating against none — yet, let us not forget, accepting every element of being as valid only when such an element is in its proper place at the proper time.
Perhaps a musical analogy will help focalize our meaning. We spoke of the birth-chart as the "chord of individual being;" and, at least by implication and together with our previously studied time-analysis, as the score of the symphony in which being and becoming interplay for the purpose of ever fuller and more manifest wholeness. What the astrologer should discover is the "tonality" of chord and symphony. It is this tonality of which we spoke a moment ago as "the organic relationship of relations between parts." Only he who can uncover this individual tonality of a personality and a destiny may be called a real astrologer. For thus only can he prove that he has the power of "holistic perception" which reveals to him the wholeness of every whole.
Concerning the Procedure of Interpretation
From the point of view of the analytical phase of interpretation — and there should always be such a phase, were it only in order to check up on what is revealed by "holistic" perception very little needs to be added to what has been already said in previous chapters. The two fundamental steps of the analysis refer respectively to the "subjective form," constituted by the relation of the dial of houses to the signs of the zodiac (viz., the zodiacal positions of the cusps, intercepted signs, etc.), and to the "objective form," constituted by the zodiacal positions (signs and degrees) and house positions of the planets, singly and as a group. These two steps in the analysis are to be followed by a third one, as the result of which secondary "factors of relation" between planets, planetary orbits and cusps will be determined: Nodes and Parts.
Then comes what we have called the "time-analysis of the birthchart," establishing a general "structure of becoming" as an expression of the fundamental individuality of the native. This should be followed and modified by a study of the periods determined or suggested by the progressed motions of all the radical planets, and by the transiting motions of the slower planets (Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter) through the expected span of the native's life.
We purposely said "a study of the periods" of these progressed and transiting planets; for what is valuable at this stage of the process of interpretation is to determine the general form of the becoming of the personality, and a general formula showing the cycles during which the outer world (the collective-society-planetary conditions) will further, and those during which it will hinder (or deepen through opposition and strain), the development of the personality as a whole and in relation to its several basic functions.
The periods of planetary progressions are the component factors in this "form of becoming of the personality" — and not any particular aspect between two progressed planets. A particular aspect situated in a particular sign and house (or usually in two particular signs and houses) may have significance in terms of a particular type of event or trend of events. But this significance is so intermingled with the meaning of a dozen other factors, there are so many possible ways of interpreting its probable operation and of locating it, either in the physiological or in the psychological realm — either in terms of emphasis through lack of something, or emphasis through too much of that thing — that an absolutely accurate prognostication of events through progressions, directions or transits is practically impossible. It is possible and startlingly accurate in some cases; but woefully inaccurate, either in the time element or in the manner of its actualization, in just as many other cases. When, therefore, one realizes the great influence, psychologically speaking, that a prediction may exert upon a sensitive person — and we all are subject to influence, some unconsciously, others consciously — one should also realize how nefarious a wrong prediction may be.
The value of astrology does not depend upon its predictive accuracy, for then it would have relatively little value, save in the hands of spectacularly gifted astrologers, able, through a combination of "horary" and "natal" astrology, to "hit the mark" in an amazingly great proportion of cases. It depends rather upon the fact that it provides us with "formulas" of being (birth-chart) and of becoming (time-analysis, progressions, etc.) which enable us to extract the most significance out of what is happening or what has happened. If we assimilate that significance thoroughly, we are then able to face whatever will happen: 1) with an integrated, unified front; 2) as a bestower of creative significance. By so doing we shall be able to "transfigure" the future; not changing the "form" of our being or becoming, but making that form glow with meaning, harmony and light — as Jesus glowed on the Mount of Transfiguration. He shone with Christ-light, with the power of universal energies and contents — yet He remained in form and individuality, Jesus: Jesus who had become "Christed."
To go back, however, to the periods of progressions; If we see in Mussolini's chart that at the age of 46 his progressed Sun will conjoin Uranus and trine Neptune, that may not give us so much direct information as to events then likely to occur. In fact, as far as can be gleaned from his outer life, relatively little has corresponded at that age to a progressed aspect which should be capital in Mussolini's life, inasmuch as the trine Uranus to Neptune encompasses all his planets and thus plays a most basic part in his being and destiny. It is true that the agreement with the Pope was signed (February 11, 1929) around the time of maturation of the progressed aspects; but granted that this is the correlation wanted, how could an astrologer studying the chart, say in 1900, have predicted such a concrete event? Moreover, why should this Lateran treaty be of such significance astrologically in Mussolini's destiny? However, we may approach the above-mentioned solar progressions in another way.
We can determine the aspects made by the progressed Sun ever since birth. To begin with the later ones: In 1916 the progressed Sun squares the radical Saturn; in 1917 the radical Moon, in 1922 the radical Mars; in 1923 it comes to conjunction Part of Fortune; in 1927 to sextile Jupiter; then in 1929 to trine Neptune and conjunction Uranus; and in 1930 to sextile Venus. Then periods of progressions are determined by considering the time elapsing between two aspects. The period of Sun-Moon square operates from 1916 to 1917; the period of Sun-Mars square ends in 1922. Finally, the Sun-Part of Fortune conjunction period begins witnessing the "march upon Rome" and Mussolini's accession to personal power.
The periods before this last one are all based on square aspects ever since the square of progressed Sun to Neptune in 1898 (age 15); and before this series of squares, there were only sextiles (to Moon and Mars). This at once establishes — from the point of view of the basic solar progressions — several well-marked life cycles. Up to the age of 15, a period of sextiles — the routine of growth through maternal influence (Moon) and paternal influence (Mars). Then from 1898 to the early spring of 1922 we have a period of struggle to bring down into manifestation and ideal, the struggle to be born as a figure of destiny: all squares, symbols of incarnation and involution.
The year 1922 is dominated by a new type of aspect: the first solar conjunction — with the Part of Fortune. This now means "emphasis." Emphasis on what? On what the Part of Fortune represents. The Part of Fortune is the "Ascendant" of the Moon. It "distributes" and focalizes the Moon's power. Moon represents the life of the personality as an element of becoming; it represents also "the public," the collective confronting the individual. Thus the period of emphasis or accentuation shown by the conjunction Sun-Part of Fortune focalized the power of the collective upon Mussolini's individuality, accentuated the power of his own personality. In the tenth house it emphasized authority and public activity; in Virgo, a cleansing process (even symbolized by the Fascists' using castor oil on unwilling politicians).
It would be futile, however, to find a day or month when this conjunction specifically operates. What is to be understood is rather the general meaning of a period. Likewise, when we speak of the sextile progressed Sun-Jupiter, we refer to the period of 1923-1927, a period of establishment (sextile) of authority (Jupiter). Then from 1927 to 1929 we come to the period progressed Sun-trine-Neptune and conjunction Uranus. Obviously, we have then a period during which the power of the collective unconscious is predominant. All Mussolini's planets are enclosed within the trine Neptune-to-Uranus. As the Sun comes to conjunction Uranus it obviously ends a period of personal emphasis and reaches beyond into the unknown, as it were; into that which is unaccentuated and not brought out by planetary activities. Mussolini reaches then beyond what he is as a personality; but before he does that he has rounded up his personal life by taking steps which close one period and open another. This is the meaning of the Lateran Treaty — a ubiquitous, subtle, Neptunian meaning; and of the definite establishment of the Italian "corporate State" which, though outlined during the Jupiter period (1926-1927), becomes implanted into the mind of the nation and its collective unconscious only after 1927.
The period of the sextile Sun to Venus is also a very short one. It presumably refers to Mussolini's emotional life; yet adds conscious individual meaning to that which at first referred to great unconscious factors (under the Sun to Uranus-Neptune aspects). After this, a new period begins, characterized by the coming trine of progressed Sun to Pluto, then to Saturn, Moon and Mars. These periods are expansional. They refer to the formation of new ideals, of new relationships, new alliances. The future will show whether they are to be interpreted positively or negatively. In 1939 the progressed Sun is scheduled to enter Libra; Mussolini will be then 56. A period of his life which began in 1908, when he went to Trento, will then end.(1)
A similar analysis could be worked out by considering not only the progressed Sun, but all progressed planets; again by studying the periods constituted by the motions of the slow planets, after birth, as they transit over important places in the radical chart. Here we have, of course, a very complex and multifarious series of aspects, and the greatest care has to be exerted in order to isolate the most significant factors. But the idea that periods are more significant than the exact aspects marking their boundaries is also valid — especially as with slow-transiting planets these are periods during which, because of alternation of direct and retrograde motion, they pass back and forth over sensitive points of the charts. Periods determined by the transiting motion of a slow planet through a whole house are particularly significant. They show the way in which circumstances and collective forces basically affect the various phases of individual being and destiny — phases symbolized by the houses.
Then there are also to be considered the 28-year and 7-year cycles of the axes of the chart, especially what we called the cyclic motion of the Point of Self. These cycles can be studied in terms of their beginning, their mid-point and their conclusion. They show the inner workings of the process of individuation at its three successive levels — sometimes referring to concrete happenings, but then only insofar as they focalize critical transitions in the general process.
Finally, the primary directions and certain precise transits (as eclipses and multiple conjunctions) can be studied to sharpen the contours of the picture already drawn. There is a school of astrologers who lay the basic emphasis upon primary directions, and who therefore would very much object to our relegating them to the end of the process of interpretation; but they must not forget that our "time-analysis of the birth-chart," which we placed first in the study of becoming, gives general indications similar to or almost identical with those found through the simplest method of directing (or through the Radix directions). These, we believe, are not only as effective as the main primary directions, but because of their smaller number are much more valuable to a structural grasp of destiny as an individually determined and significant whole of becoming. The other types of directions may be very significant in a detailed analysis, or whenever a close study of the total correlations of astrological factors related to a known event or period of the life is required; and in such cases all the transits have also to be considered. But, for the psychological purposes of personality-integration and life-interpretation, which are the main motivations of our approach to astrology, primary directions of the complex type not only demand too much time and too many calculations, but their very multiplicity almost defeats their purpose; for where you have so much to choose from and to organize in order to determine events or meanings, the attention easily becomes scattered and essentials fade out, obnubilated by the pageant of nonessentials.
Focalization Through Chart Rulership
Before we conclude this chapter, one more point needs to be mentioned, as it occupies an important place in the practice of medieval and modern astrology: the matter of planetary rulership.
The principle of planetary rulership rests upon the idea that the basic modes of biological and psychological activity (planets) have various types of "affinity" for the basic types of life-substance (signs of the zodiac). Affinity of such kinds have been determined in traditional astrology, for reasons not always clear or philosophically evident. Thus a planet is said to "rule" one, or usually two, zodiacal signs, which are considered as the planet's "houses." It is said to be "exalted" in another sign. To these positive valuations are added negative ones. In the sign opposite from the sign of its rulership the planet is in its "detriment;" in that opposite from the sign of its exaltation it is said to be in its "fall." Positive valuations are named "dignities;" negative valuations, "debilities." The above-mentioned are the most important among dignities and debilities, they are "essential" dignities or debilities. To these, however, are added a series of "accidental" dignities or debilities, such as arise from the planet being in an angle and well aspected or not afflicted, from its being swift in motion, increasing in light, etc.
The value of such qualifications is obvious. It enables the astrologer to give quantitative valuations to the planets and thus to ascertain their relative importance and relative weight in a particular situation or in the make-up of a particular personality. Thus a "weak" Saturn will not be able to neutralize a "strong" Jupiter, and in all aspects between these planets the Jupiterian quality will have the greater weight. Thus a kind of third dimensional perspective will emerge out of the recognition of this quantitative factor. Some planets will stand out like stars of first magnitude; others will recede into the background as stars of lesser magnitudes. Thus also a certain type of "focal determination" will become possible, as in the case of a most dignified planet among weak brothers or sisters.
Where the difficulty comes is in the philosophical or ''holistic'' justification of the traditional valuations. Because of such a difficulty, new systems of "rulership" are every so often devised, usually in an attempt to remedy two of the apparent weaknesses of the system: The fact that Sun and Moon rule only one sign each, while the other planets, up to and including Saturn, rule two signs each; and the other fact, i.e., that the newly discovered planets (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) rule no definite sign; or if signs are attributed to them (as Aquarius to Uranus, and Pisces to Neptune), then two of the "older" planets are each left with only one sign to rule. The confusion, however, looks worse than it actually is, and we may be able to clear up much of the apparent difficulty.
First of all, we shall set down the traditional scheme of rulerships, as follows — adding at the outset that positive signs (every other sign beginning with Aries) are called the "day houses" of the planets, the negative signs the "night houses:"
POSITIVE SIGNS NEGATIVE SIGNS
(Day Houses) RULING PLANET (Night Houses)
This at once shows that Sun and Moon are considered as a unit, in terms of rulership. They always have been put in a special category as: the "lights" — a valuation which is, as we often said, an expression of the old geocentric astrology interpreting celestial phenomena as seen, and not in terms of such a scientific intellectual knowledge as that which today constitutes heliocentric astronomy.
Now, we may repeat the same table, but this time giving to the three newly discovered planets the sign to rule which has seemed appropriate to most contemporary astrologers:
It is easy to see that what is happening is that, following the example of the pair Sun-Moon, each of the traditional planets is being given a "mate" to which one of the planet's two original "houses" is delegated as a domain over which to rule. From this a new type of planetary pairing is to be deduced. In a previous chapter we studied the traditional coupling of Saturn and Moon, Jupiter and Mercury, and Mars and Venus. We modified such an arrangement so that the Earth became consistently the center or hinge of the coupling of "inner" and "outer" planets: Mars-Venus, Jupiter-Mercury, Saturn-Solar photosphere; — and the three "planets of the unconscious" — Heart of the Sun. In this latter scheme, deduced from the structure of the solar system as known to modern astronomy, the Moon — as a satellite of the Earth becomes the factor of linkage between the intra-orbital and the extra-orbital planets.
And now we see another type of coupling emerging from Chart B. Because Sun and Moon were respectively the ''light of day" and the ''light of night," the Sun logically rules a positive (day) sign, and the Moon a negative (night) sign. From this can be derived a general explanation of the emergent process of polarization of all planetary rulerships.
Let us reconsider Chart A, and imagine that the Moon is not included, and that the Sun has its day and its night houses (Leo and Cancer), as all the other planets have. We have then the series of planets in their actual order, beginning with Sun and ending with Saturn (not, of course, counting our Earth). If, on the other hand, we correlate that series with the series of zodiacal signs beginning with Leo, we have a very orderly arrangement, into which the newly discovered planets fit well — except that Pluto is made to rule Aries and not Scorpio:
SUN. . .Leo URANUS. . .Aquarius
MERCURY. . .Virgo NEPTUNE. . .Pisces
VENUS. . .Libra PLUTO. . .Aries
MARS. . .Scorpio ? . . . Taurus
JUPITER. . .Sagittarius ? . . . Gemini
SATURN. . .Capricorn MOON . . . Cancer
We believe that such an arrangement is most significant, but only in terms of Man-the-Individual; or of consciousness. The first six terms of both series refer to the conscious. Starting in Leo on the path to individualization with great solar spontaneity, Man reaches in Capricorn full and concrete individualization as an "I am" — in a personal or a planetary sense. Then he begins to assimilate the beyond, the contents of the collective unconscious — and this is the path to individuation. Through Uranus, universals pour into the particular ego; through Neptune, the walls of the ego become trans-lucid to the beyond (or they dissolve altogether, most unfortunately); through Pluto, a new beginning is made: the universal Order is born at the core of the transfigured particular. The Moon, at the end of this incomplete series, obviously stands for that principle of universal relationship which marks the end of the path to individuation; just as Saturn stood for the principle of relationship-within-a-set-form which marks the end of the path to individualization. Obviously, the Moon is actually only the negative aspect of that principle of universal relationship. She symbolizes only physiological motherhood and the integration of elemental life-agencies; whereas whatever shall take her place at the end of the series that begins with Aquarius should represent spiritual Motherhood and the integration of universal Life-forces and Ideas at the psycho-mental or spiritual level — thus perhaps the Galaxy (Milky Way).
Looking at Chart B from another angle (and now reversing the places of Mars and Pluto), we can also say that Saturn is to Uranus, Neptune to Jupiter, and Mars to Pluto as the Moon is to the Sun. Stated in such a manner, the situation is also quite clear and significant. Uranus is the breath of the creative "I am" of which the merely conscious ego is but a sort of night-reflection; just as the Moon reflects in a pale way the integrative fire of the Sun. Likewise, Pluto represents cosmic beginnings in a way which Mars and its impulses, limited by physiological conditioning, reflect only faintly and in a personal way. As for the pair Jupiter-Neptune, it may be seen that the function of form-dissolution symbolized by Neptune has to be considered as a negative (or night-pole) of the Jupiterian function of expansion of the life-contents of the form.
However this may be, the above interpretation — while probably not acceptable to all — does at least give a coherent picture worth studying in all its implications. Other students of astrology may prefer Marc Jones' position, refusing to attribute any rulership to Uranus and Neptune or to any trans-Saturnian planets that may be discovered, because the very idea of rulership is not consistent with the meaning of such planets. Rulership is the symbol of organic relationship between activity and the organized substance involved in such activity; and where planets refer to the trans-organic (that which is beyond the limits of an organic whole) there can be no question of rulership. The answer to this, however, is that a super-physiological organism is forming in individuals who have reached a certain point in their development, and that the trans-Saturnian planets are trans-organic only insofar as the physiological organism is concerned, but are the very formative agencies which are building, in all men attuned to their positive-creative nature, a psycho-mental organism.(2)
The difficulty attending a coherent interpretation of planetary rulership is even more evident where the "exaltation" of planets in certain zodiacal signs, and their "ecstasy" on a certain degree of such signs, are concerned. So we shall pass on and discuss only briefly the main uses to which the theory of rulership has been put. It dominates completely the divinatory branch of astrology called "horary astrology" — and perhaps it is from horary astrology that it has come to "natal astrology," the only kind of astrology studied in this work. In natal astrology, the theory of planetary relationship not only creates a sort of linkage between planets and signs — which is very valuable theoretically and logically — but, as we saw, it serves as a means to invest some planets with the characteristics of "focal determinator." As such it has been used consistently in two manners; the first, very much in use today; the second, very seldom taken into consideration.
The first way of singling out a planet, to make it serve as a center of significance, is to find what is called the "ruling planet" or "ruler of the chart." This is usually determined by the sign of the Ascendant. The planet ruling this sign becomes the ruler of the whole chart. The rationale of this method is clear. The Ascendant represents the factor of individual selfhood, the monad, the fountainhead of the life and destiny which the chart as a whole symbolizes. Therefore the planet functionally dominating this Ascendant becomes naturally the dominate life-function of the personality. However, in the case of planets rising close to the Ascendant, or when a planet, wherever situated in the chart, "disposes" of all or most other planets,(3) then two or more planets may divide the honors of chart-rulership.
The second way of singling out a planet as a focal point of the interpretation is the determination of the Almuten. The Almuten is found by tabulating the essential and accidental dignities and debilities of each planet according to a set of quantitative valuations (5 points for this dignity, 3 points for that), subtracting the sum total of debilities from that of dignities (or vice versa), and thus discovering what planet has received the highest number. That planet is the strongest in the chart. It is said to determine the "temperament" of the native. The method is very similar to that for the determination of an I.Q. — and perhaps it works just as well — whatever that means in the reader's estimation! Mussolini's Almuten seems to be Saturn; with Jupiter a close second. This throws an interesting light on his personal character; in contradistinction to the character he has made himself as the vehicle for a super-personal, racial Idea.
While such types of "chart-rulership" are indeed susceptible of releasing a great deal of significance, we would rather stress the type of "focal determination" discussed in the chapter "Form and the Pattern of Planetary Aspects" — that is, a type which singles out some group-features of the chart as a whole, and considers that feature as the focal point of the interpretation. For instance, we would say that, in Mussolini's chart, the facts that all the planets are contained within a trine of Uranus to Neptune, and that all of them, save Uranus, are located in the South-West quarter, constitute the most significant "focal determination." These facts center the multifarious meanings of the many astrological elements around one primordial significance; and from that, a kind of interpretative perspective emerges which seems to us more valid or more revealing — at least in view of our approach to astrology — than that which would result from giving quantitative valuations of strength or weakness to every separate planet.
With this brief study of some of the main principles upon which a technique of astrological interpretation can be built, which would be consistent with our approach to astrology, we must bring to a close this section consecrated to a reformulation and reinterpretation of the fundamental elements of astrological symbolism. Astrology, defined as an algebra of life, is absolutely protean in its manifestation, and multifarious in the wide diversity of its approaches to particular phases of interpretation. Wherefore we feel most acutely how incomplete has been the reformulation presented in the chapters of this second section. Nevertheless we trust that fundamentals have been established on a coherent basis of both symbolical-logical and psychological understanding; and we may be able in some not too distant future to study at much greater length, and in relation to many more practical instances, some of the astrological factors the meaning of which we have here outlined.
Here again, however, we may add — as a final restatement — that astrology in its essence is not bound to any particular application or field of application; that its truths are not empirical in character nor dependent for their success on one realm of life or another. Physicists may conceivably find that their approach to the problem of determining the nature of the atom or of distant galaxies is all wrong, and that their experiments have been so devised as to leave out the main factor in intra-atomic or in cosmic behavior. Yet such a discovery would in no way invalidate group-algebra or any of the mathematical symbols which have been used to establish present-day interpretations, and could be used to build new theories. The number 10 remains a valid symbol even if the ten apples grouped by it into numerical relationship turn out to be peaches. Likewise consider a square of Jupiter to Saturn; we may now say that it refers to "spiritual testing and tribulations," but such a saying has validity only in terms of what we call "tests and tribulations" in our understanding of human psychology. Modify this psychology, and the meaning of the square will change.
And lastly, astrology does not offer interpretations as clear-cut and objective as does modern physics. The ideal of modern science is anonymity and objectivity — that is, the total suppression of the individual element. This does not mean, however, that modern science does not give us "interpretation;" for so-called "scientific laws" are, after all, generalized interpretations of processes and congeries of facts. But such generalized interpretations — arrived at by way of mathematical symbolization — are not considered really valid until there is left no known individual exception, and until a relatively absolute assurance that the future processes will always work out in terms of the laws is made possible for every one concerned.
As a result, modern science is obliged to ignore the individualness of every living entity. It reduces every such entity to its generic type, and ignores or denies the individual factor and its uniqueness. And what is unique in any living whole? At first, in the evolutionary process which leads from amoeba to man, it is only the most infinitesimal detail of organic disposition. Then, as evolution proceeds on its course toward greater differentiation, the small individual detail of super-structure is magnified until an organic system becomes adequately developed for individual differentiation. The individualistic super-structure not only coalesces with the generic structure, but more and more influences it.
Then in man we find, within his total organic structure, a generic under-structure (the Great Sympathetic system) and an individual super-structure (the cerebro-spinal system); and the latter is seen increasingly to dominate the former. Then we say that "mind rules matter;" which means mostly that the individual rules the generic or collective, especially when we refer to "mind" as "Universal Mind," which is merely the operative wholeness of the "Greater Individual" emerging slowly out of the planetary evolutionary process as a "Greater Person," — the God-of-the-end of the planetary cycle.
Astrology, as we understand it, complements modern science, insofar as it deals essentially with the individual super-structure rather than with the generic-collective under-structure. Through the study of the "first moment" of the life-cycle it reaches individual being and individual form; and because it does so it is able also to unveil the mystery of significance, which is a purely individual factor. What it is able to grasp of the life-process of becoming itself, is principally in terms of structural periods of destiny rather than in terms of set concrete events. Nay more, astrology can only really know the way this process of becoming appears to the individual being. It does not know events in themselves so much as crises in the curve of an individual destiny. In other words, by this knowledge of form it reveals the individual to the individuating; and leads the individuating to a perception of the individual significance of individuation as a process.
This is what "life-interpretation" means. It is the perception of individual form and of individual significance by an evolving or individuating personality. This personality is a composite, an aggregation of factors and elements. As these become harmonized by such a "life-interpretation," revealing their potential individual form and significance, the fulfilled and integrated Living Person emerges. Again let us repeat that it is the emergence of this Living Person which constitutes the goal of astrology — or at least of that astrology which we called "Harmonic Astrology." Some further facts related to such an emergence will be discussed in the following "Epilogue."
1. This was written in 1936. World War Two began in Summer 1939. [Editor]
2. It seems valuable to quote the explanation of planetary rulership which Marc Jones gives in his course Temple Astrology (Lesson XXV):
"What is here brought out is the existence of astrological domains, or boundaries of character which might be described as race character limits in and through which individual character is to be defined. Aries must always have some of the extension of Mars, and Pisces always some of the expansion of Jupiter, not through any necessity of astrology or the celestial scheme, but because the race has established itself in this fashion. The dignities of the planets involving a permanent relationship with the signs (for a 25,000-year cycle at least) are known as essential dignities, and when the planets are placed in positions of strength or weakness in terms of dignity the native is shown as tending towards or away from the racial norm upon which his well-being and proper growth is largely dependent. This modifies the interpretation of the known facts of his life as these are bent upon the problem of his horoscope, but of course the actual planetary significations remain absolute, with or without dignity."
3. A planet "disposes" of any other which may be found in the sign which it rules or in which it is exalted. In Mussolini's chart the Sun is in its own "house" Leo and disposes of Mercury, also in Leo. But Mercury "disposes" of Pluto, Saturn, Moon and Mars in Gemini (ruled by Mercury) and of Uranus in Virgo (also ruled by Mercury). Then the Moon disposes of Jupiter and Venus which are in Cancer; and Venus disposes of Neptune in Taurus. Thus directly or indirectly the Sun is seen to dispose of all planets in the chart. It is co-ruler with Mars, ruler of the Ascendant.
The Astrology of Personality