Dane Rudhyar - Photo1

Dane Rudhyar


Astrology, A Technique for the Study of Life Cycles

Astrology can be defined as a technique for the study of life-cycles. It's main purpose is to establish the existence of regular patterns in the sequence of events constituting a person's inner and outer experience; then, to use the knowledge of these patterns in order to control or give meaning to these experiences. As people learn to control the genesis, development and recurrence of their experiences, they achieve mastery. This is the goal of the 'adept' or the scientist - a goal which deals with the accurate timing of actions and the adjustment to expected reactions. On the other hand, as people give meaning to their experiences by referring them to the cycles of their individual being or of humanity at large, they develop a conscious and inclusive attitude to life. They gain understanding and wisdom, which is the goal of the philosopher. Indeed, the study of cycles that is, of periodical activities in nature, human and otherwise is the root of all significant knowledge, be it scientific or philosophical. And the study of cycles is a study of time.

There has been much unnecessary confusion as to the nature of time. And the confusion originates mainly in the failure to differentiate between 'generic' time and 'individual' time. Generic time objective time is the time measured by the calendar and by clocks; the time which makes the peasant plow the field, and reap the harvest, which establishes the normal, natural rhythm of biological functions in human bodies. It is the very matrix into which the common activities of human beings flow. Just as the social activities and common reactions to life of the average person are structured by the cultural-religious traditions and the laws of their country, likewise, at a still more basic level, people's generic activities and their objective sense of time is structured by celestial cycles. The latter not only serve to 'measure' time; they are the very substance of generic time. And the fundamental characteristic of this time, of which all of us are compelled to be aware, is that it is cyclic. It is cyclic because it is established by periodical changes in the cosmic environment of humankind that is, by the ordered activities of cosmic wholes, of which our globe is only a very small part.

Beside this objective time, valid for all human beings, there is an individual time, which is experienced by individual entities as subjective duration. It is experienced as a normally unconscious, organic psychic feeling; and this feeling eludes standardization, depending as it does upon the more or less individualized rhythm of the experiencer and upon particular, unduplicatable conditions. Subjective duration is a resultant of the state of organic wholeness. It is an expression of the particular rhythm of a particular organic whole functioning truly as a whole and not merely as part of a larger whole.

At the level of strictly animal life, duration is an expression of the rhythm of the entire species rather than of the rhythm of a particular specimen thereof; this, because individual characteristics reside in the species and not in the individual organisms manifesting the species' biological characteristics. With human beings, however, as the process of individualization begins to operate and a particular man or woman develops increasingly individual (thus, relatively unique) characteristics biological and, above all, psychological 'individual time' begins to be felt. Felt at first in the dim, almost poignant way in which the first longings of adolescence reach the consciousness, this sense of subjective duration becomes sharper, the more the person functions as an individual. Moments of great emotional stress of intense living or 'dying' arouse this latent realization; but techniques have also been devised deliberately to induce and accelerate such an inner development. Hindu yoga is a typical example of such a conscious effort to individualize time a result obtained by the control of organic energies and by a refocusing of the ego.

The co-existence of objective time and subjective duration in the consciousness of the individualized human person produces at a certain stage of evolution a deep-seated inner conflict. This conflict is parallel to, and a function  of the struggle between the collective and the individual factors of the personality; between the desire to participate in, or be subservient to, collective and social patterns, and the will to express one's unique identity; between the inbred realization that one is a part of a large whole (society or mankind) and the innermost feeling that one is a whole, unique and self-sufficient.

Astronomy and all precise sciences deal solely with objective time clock time regulated by a universally accepted standard. This standard is fundamentally the sidereal day, the period between two successive returns of a star to the meridian the time needed for a complete daily rotation of the earth around its axis.

Astrology, in so far as it is based on astronomical data, deals also with objective time and its cycles. But astrology is not merely a study of celestial cycles in themselves; it is a technique of interpretation of the meaning of these cycles with reference to the possibilities for growth in individuals. It does not or should not deal with compulsions of generic, cosmic fate; but, instead, with the opportunities which the individual has to emerge from the compelling, structuring matrix of objective time into the creative freedom of subjective duration.

Astrology can be understood as a technique for the discovery of one's own individual structure of being. And this structure is the foundation of individual immortality; for immortality is the power to dwell in a world of one's individual making, and to hold the structure of that world intact (and one's creative thought-powers firmly established within it), even against the shock of disintegration of the biological organism which we call death. Immortality is the victory of subjective duration over objective time. It is the triumph of the consciousness of being a whole with a unique identity over the consciousness of being merely a part of the human species subject to generic and social patterns of living and behavior.

The individual birth-chart, erected for the exact first moment of independent existence as a living organism (the first breath), is a cosmic symbol of the individual structure of being.

But an Astrologer (or one's self) must be able to see it as such! If one thinks of the birth-chart as the mere reading of a clock of objective time for a particular moment; if they add up the positions of the Sun, the Moon and the planets as a person looking at a clock adds up the indications given by the hour, the minute and the second hands; then, what they discover is only the sum-total of compulsions which the newborn must meet according to the laws of action and reaction of their generic human nature. Indeed the newborn is seen, then, as merely a combination of natural drives, ancestral tendencies and unavoidable allegiances to environmental patterns.

If, on the other hand, one is able to visualize the entire birth-chart as an individual and indivisible structure revealing the potentiality of manifestation of a unique and original identity, creative of its own subjective duration and establishing the beginning of its own era dawning point of its immortality then, one can perform a spiritual function. They evoke and summon forth the image of the wholeness of the person whose birth-chart they study. This is a spiritual act because spirit deals only with wholes. Spirit is the wholeness of every living whole; and it is, in its operations, that which ever tends to reestablish wholeness, balance, harmony, integration, health, plenitude of being wherever there is the consciousness of lack, of need, of greatness yet unrealized, of fullness yet unattained. . .and, at the same time, the faith which alone can open the gates of the empty structure to the inrushing tide of spiritual abundance.

Objective time establishes limitations and boundaries for human beings because it is the product of the activities of vast celestial cosmic bodies within the electro-magnetic fields of which humans appear as a most unimportant part. The position of the Sun, or the Moon, or any one planet or star in a birth-chart represents, therefore, the particular kind of subservience the person experiences in relation to the natural energies symbolized by the cyclic motion of this one celestial body productive of objective time. Likewise as a child is born into a certain family belonging to a certain social class, this fact indicates his subservience to the particular kind of social prejudice or preferment which is associated with that class. It is a limiting fact. To be born on July 30th of any year is a limiting fact. It establishes one's particular mode of subservience to  the factor of solar vitality the Leo kind of response to this solar vitality.

If, however, the birth-chart is seen as a whole as the 'Name' of the individual-in-the-making the wholeness of it represents the particular potentiality of freedom of the person from this, that or the other natural energy and social prejudice which tend to clock their reactions to life. To see the birth-chart as a whole means seeing it as a complex relationship between the many factors it contains: planets, cusps, nodes, parts, etc. A sum-total is not a relationship. To add up the indications given by separate factors has statistical value; it has no spiritual meaning. Spiritual meaning is an expression of relatedness.

Likewise, a tone produced be a great musician on a violin is a complex entity, composed of many overtones, each of which has a particular frequency, dynamic intensity, phase, etc. When we hear the tone, we hear an organic synthesis of all these component sound-vibrations, and what we call the 'timbre,' the moving quality, the emotional power of the tone are the results of the relatedness of all these sound-vibrations. This is the 'character' of the tone; just as the character of an individual is an expression of the relatedness of all the constituent parts of their total being. And character is creative freedom.


The Two Basic Kinds of Astrological Aspects and Cycles

The above considerations constitute a philosophical introduction to the study of what the astrologer calls 'aspects'. If a person is born with the Sun at Aries, 1st degree, and the Moon at Cancer, 1st degree, the astrologer says that the person was born with a 'square' of the Sun and Moon. What this means in intellectual and geometrical analysis, is that the positions in zodiacal longitude of the Sun and Moon formed a 90 degree angle with reference to the center of the earth. If the angle had measured to 120 degrees, the aspect would have been called a 'trine'; if 60 degrees, a 'sextile'; if 45 degrees, a 'semi-square'. If the two celestial bodies are on either side of the earth (as far as their longitudes are concerned) and thus on two opposite points of the zodiac, the aspect between them is an 'opposition'. And if the two bodies are found on the same degree of the zodiac, they are said to be in 'conjunction'.

This of course is elementary astrological and astronomical knowledge. Every student of astrology knows also that when the angular relationship of two planets is less or more than a few degrees different from the exact values mentioned above, it is still necessary to consider it an aspect. If the Sun was at Aries, 1st degree, and the Moon at Gemini, 27th degree, or at Cancer, 7th degree, they would still be 'within orb' of a square aspect the orb allowed depending mostly on the speed at which the various planets move.

What is not usually very clear in the mind of persons interested in astrology, is the difference there is between the indications derived from (1) the zodiacal or house position of a planet, and (2) the aspects between two or more celestial bodies.

Indications of the former type deal with particular moments in the cycle of motion of the one celestial body considered, this cycle being studied with reference to some static earth factor. To say that a person was born with the Sun at Libra, 1st degree, means that the Sun had then covered half of the time it takes to move every year from one vernal equinox to the next; and the vernal equinox is the conventional beginning, with reference to the plane of the earth's equator, of the yearly cycle of the Sun's apparent motion in the sky. Likewise, the position of a planet in the seventh house of a birth-chart means that this planet has described half of its daily circuit of the sky since the moment it arose on the eastern horizon the conventional beginning of this type of celestial cycle.

The equator and the horizon are earth factors and are considered as fixed circles of reference. Zodiacal or house positions refer thus to the cyclic motions of a moving celestial body, with reference to a fixed circle of reference on earth. This fixed circle of reference represents humanity at large (the earth equator) or a particular human being (the horizon of a particular birth-place); and therefore the position of the moving celestial body represents the effect this body has upon humanity, or upon a particular person, at a particular moment of its complete cycle.

If the Sun's yearly cycle 'clocks' as it were, the periodical development of the basic vital forces operating every year within the human species as a whole, birth with the Sun at Leo, 7th degree, means that the human organism reaching independent existence (first breath) under such a zodiacal position of the Sun will have their basic vital forces operating according to the characteristic rhythm inherent in this particular moment of the Sun's yearly cycle (i.e., at the end of July). Their basic vital forces will be conditioned by this moment of the Sun's cycle; this conditioning is a compulsion of objective, generic time.

On the other hand, if we consider a trine aspect made by two celestial bodies, the Sun and the Moon, this trine indication refers, not to the positions which the Sun and the Moon occupy within their respective cycles, but instead to the angular relationship between the two moving bodies. We get no indication whatsoever as to the zodiacal positions of either Sun or Moon by saying that they form a trine, or a square, or a conjunction. We only know that there is a definite relationship between these positions, whatever they may be. Such aspects, therefore, belong to the realm of relatedness. They deal with the relationships between two or more moving celestial bodies when this relationship is referred to the earth's center.

Here we must qualify the preceding statements, by adding that Astrology uses two different kinds of aspects and indeed two different kinds of cycles. We have to differentiate between cycles of positions and cycles of relationship.

A 'cycle of position' is one which deals with the successive positions of a moving object with reference to it's starting point. If the motion is periodical, the object reaches at the end of the cycle exactly the same position from which it started. The rotation of the earth around it's axis produces such a cycle. If we define the sidereal day period it creates by charting the apparent motion of some star, we find that a star that was on the meridian at the start of that day will be found again on the meridian at the close of the cycle. The sidereal periods of the planets constitute cycles of positions; and the cycle of the 'progressed Moon' throughout the zodiac, from it's natal position to the same position more than 27 years later, has the same character. The moving celestial body is seen forming aspects to its position at the beginning of the cycle or to any other point which remains fixed while the celestial body circles on.

What such cycles of positions measure is the course taken by any dynamic impulses from start to finish. There is no question here of relatedness. What is studied is the series of effects resulting from an initial dynamic cause. It is as if a seed were watched becoming a full-grown plant, and the latter again bringing forth a seed while leaves and stem disintegrate and all this cyclic development occurring in vacuum without any interference or anything contributing to it.

Obviously such a picture of growth in a vacuum is a pure abstraction. It does not correspond to reality. No impulse is allowed to develop without it's course being modified by other factors. We see this symbolized in astronomy and in the cycles of celestial bodies. For instance, we speak of the solar year as the cycle of successive returns to the solar equinox point; and this cycle (which is the actual foundation of the astrological zodiac) thus considered is a cycle of positions. Cancer, 1st degree, is the point of the zodiac which is in a 90 degree angular relationship to the initial position of the Sun at Aries, 1st degree; Leo, 1st degree, the point of the zodiacal cycle 120 degrees or 4 months distant from this same spring equinox considered as a fixed point of reference.

Actually, the spring equinox point is not fixed. It moves backward according to a much larger cycle, that of the nearly 26,000 year long cycle of 'precession of the equinoxes' caused by another type of celestial or earth motion. The combination of these two cycles is what we actually have to consider, if we wish to be true to the experienced facts and not merely deal with abstractions. The later have great value in terms of intellectual analysis, and we could hardly do without them; yet they are not the substance of reality.

Likewise the concept of cause and effect is a most useful tool for analyzing the behavior of phenomena, and in a limited abstract sense it is true, as the laws of Newton (challenged now by Einstein) are true; nevertheless it is only a concept. In reality what we experience is not a simple sequence of causes and effects, but a complex situation in which a vast number of action-and-reaction sequences (or 'world lines') interpenetrate, act upon each other, and make it impossible for anyone to isolate a particular cause and effect relationship, except by cutting off a piece of the universe a piece of the total reality of human experience observing it in an intellectual test-tube.

This means, in other words, that every whole is an integral part of a greater whole. A cycle, likewise, is always the sub-cycle of a larger time sequence; and while there is theoretical cause-and-effect relationship between successive lesser cycles operating at one level, yet there is also a constant action of the greater cycles upon their lesser component periods, a constant action of the whole upon the parts. The only reality to be experienced is a multiple, protean, many-dimensional relatedness between all there is. Thus, all truly real cycles are cycles between two or more factors, each of which is active, is moving, is forever changing. All fixed frames of reference are for the purpose of intellectual analysis only.

The world of reality for human beings is thus a world of creative relatedness and, at the biological level, creative relatedness is first of all sexuality. As long as life is able to manifest only by means of the multiplication, by successive segmentations of an original cell, no progress is possible. Where propagation operates only along one line of ancestry the compulsion of fate is unavoidable. Possibilities of evolutionary variations appear only where two or more lines of propagation concur; that is, where male and female entities, each with its own particular background and ancestry, blend their projected energies in the sexual act. This act gives rise to what is called in modern physics 'the co-efficient of indeterminacy'. It creates an irrational mystery. It produces the potentiality of freedom constructive or destructive as it may be. It polarizes on earth the activity of the spirit, which is pure and spontaneous creative activity, forever original and 'free'.

Where there if sexual contact between male and female entities, unpredictable variations occur and the determinism of objective time is broken. Cycles cease then to be produced by the progressive development of one impulse spreading through an abstract vacuum. They begin in relationship, and what the cycle measures is the unfoldment of this relationship between two or more factors. In this process of unfoldment the creative New occurs or at any rate may occur. Thus, 'cycles of relationship' are cycles which begin in the 'conjunction' of two moving celestial bodies, reach their climax in the 'opposition' between these moving bodies, and come to an end as a new conjunction occurs. This new conjunction does not occur at exactly the same point in the sky as the previous one did, because no relationship is static. It must be either progressive, or regressive.

Sex, however, as productive of a cycle of relationship between two polar units, is only the beginning of the work of the universal spirit. Sex is the conjunction of two lines of evolution for the purpose of bringing forth new biological and psychological variations. But eventually the bringing together of two lines is not enough. Many more lines must reach a state of confluence. As this occurs a higher level of freedom, of indeterminacy and of spiritual expression, is reached.

This is level of the true 'spiritual Communities' the level at which the individual identities of human persons who have won their freedom from the present mass-vibration of humankind 'flow together' in a vast stream, a vast cycle of universal humanity creative of the 'next step' in human evolution. But it is also the level of all truly 'organic' activities the activities of a living body, or personality, with its polyphony of functions simultaneously at work.

The astrological birth-chart as a whole is the symbol and effective representation of such  harmonic-polyphonic group activity. Thus, every planet is like a singer in the choir of personality. Each has its own rhythm, cycle and function within the polyphonic fullness of personality. Each is an organic center in the total organism of physio-psychological humanity. Each has its own cycle of positions, if one chooses to analyze it as a separate factor within the fixed framework of the natal houses or of the zodiac; yet, these cycles of positions are only abstract entities for the purpose of analysis. The living reality of the birth-chart is the confluence of all planet's cycles, from which is born the 'chord of personality'. It is the chord which is the spiritual Name of the person. It defines the structure of their individuality and its cycle of development.

Humanity functions essentially in two realms. We will speak of them as the realm of 'life' and the realm of 'individual identity'. By life I mean here the instinctive capacity inherent in a whole to produce other wholes with similar organic characteristics according to a generic pattern common to many such wholes. And I define individual identity  as the capacity inherent in an organism to retain its unique and individual structure of selfhood and to perpetuate it, symbolically or actually, through a series of consciously produced manifestations. There is symbolical perpetuation in the case of the artist, the inventor or the statesperson who images themself forth and projects their personality into some social achievement enduring through the ages. This is 'social immortality' within the process of civilization. Immortality becomes, however, an actual fact if the individual person is able to retain the full consciousness and structure of their own individual identity even after death disintegrates the physical organism; and to that end all spiritual practices have originally been devised.

In other words, human beings live according to two basic types of impulses. They follow the first when they seek instinctively and under emotional-organic compulsion to reproduce their racial characteristics in a physical progeny. They are moved by the second type of impulse when they seek to attain social responsibility and fame, or some kind of individual immortality. The line of demarcation between these two types is far from being clear-cut, yet it exists nevertheless and it serves to define two realms of human activity and two essential categories of human goals. The power of 'life' operates in unconsciousness; but the striving after the perpetuation of one's 'individual identity' implies conscious activity and deliberate, individually made decisions. On the one hand, the life-urge is compulsive in nature, exclusive in its operations, and rooted in glandular, organic activity. On the other hand, the attainment of individual immortality demands the recognition of individual freedom and the acceptation of consciously assumed responsibility within the larger framework of humanity as a whole whatever might be the way the individual mentally pictures this 'larger framework' according to his philosophy or religion.

The birth-chart can be said to reveal the seed-potentiality of immortal selfhood. But it does so only if the entire sky-pattern at birth is seen as the first moment of a new and complex cycle, as the beginning of an individual era. If each celestial body is merely studied in relation to the place it occupies in its own period of zodiacal revolution, then no real individual beginning is considered, but merely one moment among an infinity of other moments in the endless sweep of objective time. Then also, the person represented by the birth-chart is considered as one human being among the endless millions who are born and die as parts of the human species, without being able to perpetuate their as yet immature identities. Every human birth can be the 'beginning of an era', in terms of subjective, individual duration, for the person being born; or else it is but a fleeting instant in a vast cycle of objective time which drives all human creatures toward some distant evolutionary goal.

Astrology can function according to one or the other of these possibilities; but obviously only an astrologer who is themself established in the realm of 'individual identity' can fully and perfectly interpret a birth-chart in its spirit-revealing wholeness. Yet, to say this should no more deter the student of astrology in their efforts toward such a goal, than should the failure of medicine to understand the complex operations of the life-force in the whole organism (and indeed in even the simplest cell) stop a physician in their attempts to heal the sick. . . because they are not a Christ! The important thing is to realize that the spirit within a person manifests only within and through the individualized wholeness of their total being, that is, within the relatedness of all their functions and all their powers. No one function is spiritual or the opposite of spiritual. No one psychological drive, faculty or power is of itself spiritual. Spirit is the consecration that comes to the wholeness of an individual whole. It is the 'identity' of this whole its uniqueness, its capacity to be the origin of a cycle of subjective duration; thus, to be creative and original.


The Lunation Cycle