WHEN THE SUN IS SEEN AS A STAR
a) A Galactic Approach to the Solar System
According to a holistic approach to the nature of the universe and of humanity, what we call existence is a state of activity operating in terms of "wholes." A human being constitutes a whole. He or she is an organism, which means an organized field of interrelated and interdependent — thus functional-activities. We classify these activities according to whether they operate at a physical-biological, psychological, mental, and (for lack of better terms) supermental or soul level. Man, as a total person, is the whole that includes them all.
In man, this organized and organic field of existence has at least the potentiality of developing a unique kind of interrelationship between each of its contents; thus, an individualized character. This uniqueness expresses itself in the realization "I am this particular person." In man, therefore, the field of activity has acquired a center to which the most important portion of its activities are consciously referred. It at least seems the most important to the mind of the person experiencing these activities as his own. A mind is the form which consciousness, emerging from the field of activities of a particular person, takes — and maintains. This form is normally controlled by the ego, which refers to the particular manner in which the centrality of the whole field manifests at the level of what we call "waking consciousness."
A human being, as perceived by our "normal" senses at the present stage of human evolution, is first of all a body — that is, a biological system. The component parts of this system are cells, most of which operate in communities called "organs" (heart, liver, brain, glands of various types); others, in more loosely related circulatory subsystems or interstitial masses spread out wherever needed. Each cell is a well-defined whole with characteristic properties; it contains molecules which are also structured systems of activities organized for a specific type of work — and molecules contain atoms, which contain many elusive particles of various types. Thus, at the level of life in this Earth's biosphere we perceive a holarchic or hierarchical series of wholes, each one with a definite kind of function within the field of the "greater whole" of which they are a part. Each in turn constitutes a greater whole to its own component parts.
When a modern mind objectively considers such a series, it usually takes for granted that the series ends with the living body of animal and human beings. Yet all these living bodies operate within the biosphere of a planet which — we have at long last come to learn — is actually a remarkably well-organized system of constantly interrelated, interacting, and interdependent parts. These parts are the various "kingdoms" we clearly know and can observe (mineral, vegetable, animal, human). To these we should at least add telluric or planetary factors like atmospheric, stratospheric, and oceanic currents, and also magnetic forces or envelopes (the van Allen bands, for instance) which perhaps play a fundamental role in the harmonic operation of the entire planetary whole.
Besides these categories of activities, there may be other "kingdoms" or nodal centers of energy which our normal senses today cannot perceive. They may be considered "physical" at a different vibratory level, or superphysical. All followers of ancient religions, and many people even now living close to nature, and most present-day sensitives and clairvoyants bear witness to the existence of normally unperceived classes of entities coexisting with us in the Earth's biosphere, or in other spheres included in the total field of planetary activity which we call the Earth. They have been given many names: angels, devas, nature spirits of various types who may be the personifications of guiding energy-fields operating within the four visible kingdoms of life. Some of these "energy-fields" are perhaps directly related to solar radiations or other cosmic sources.
The belief in the existence of what seem to us normally invisible forms of life or intelligence was natural to men of archaic times. It has never entirely disappeared, whether in a naive, a dogmatically religious, or a "paralogical" (i.e., occult) form; but it was exorcised by the high priests of our classical physics and cosmology in the name of a rationalism totally subservient to a materialistic empiricism. Whether this belief is or is not based on incontrovertible facts of objective experience is not essential at this stage of our presentation. What is important is that there seems to be no valid reason whatsoever for ending the hierarchical series of ever more inclusive (but always rigorously organized) fields of activities with the human body or, as Jan Smuts claimed in his epoch-making yet rarely mentioned book, Holism and Evolution (1926), with the individual person.(1) If we do end the series there, this means that we can conceive only of three levels of cosmic activity: matter, life, and personality (which includes mind even in its highest human form) — and this surely would be a remarkable manifestation of human pride ("No one can be greater than I, man."), were it not for the belief in an all-encompassing God before Whom man is supposed to humble himself in utter devotion and self-surrender.
1. The words holism and holistic are now widely used by philosophers, scientists, and students of the arts, especially in contrast to atomism and atomistic. In my recent books The Planetarization of Consciousness and We Can Begin Again — Together, I coined the terms holarchy and holarchic to refer more definitely to the principle of hierarchy operating throughout a universe of wholes, every whole being part of a "greater whole" as well as the container and synthesis of a multiplicity of "lesser wholes." A holarchic universe is one featuring many levels of activity and consciousness.
The image of God which Christendom has featured, a few exceptions notwithstanding, can be symbolically characterized as "heliocentric." The theocentrism of the theistic "great religions" from which we have to except Buddhism in its original form, parallels the heliocentrism of the classical world-picture: an all-powerful, light-emanating Sun — the one and only source of light, heat, and radiation — surrounded by subservient dark planets; the Earth being the only sphere in which, through some fortuitous chemical good luck, living organisms and eventually men could develop.
Such a picture undoubtedly represents a definite and significant milestone in the evolution of human consciousness — as does the development of the ego in man, for the ego seems to be the inevitable form which the process of emergence of individuals out of the matrix of the tribal society had to take. A personal God, ruler of the universe and originator of changeless "laws of Nature" — the Sun, the great autocrat of his own system, the whole of which (the "heliocosm") he controls as his private possession — the ego of the individualized person, also ruler (in theory) of the personality and of the body that should be his obedient slave: at these three levels the same concept operates. This concept was needed in order that the process of individualization could work and man feel himself a "free and responsible" individual. Unfortunately, the ideal of individualism — which inspired the social-political concept of democracy — failed to operate at the level of a spiritual type of individual selfhood, a selfhood integrated within a universal community. Similarly, the heliocentric picture of the solar system, at least for a long time! did not stress the fact that our Sun is also a star within a larger cosmic whole, the Galaxy. And the worship of a personal God, an all-powerful Lord of Hosts may not be the most spiritual approach to the ideal of divinity — as many mystics, especially Meister Eckart, have tried to make clear.
The basic issue I am stressing here is that the classical heliocentric world-picture was a projection upon the dome of the sky of the human need for an individual center within his personality — but a need which was inadequately formulated and which made of the "I am" center of man's total person an autocratic, proud, jealous, and warlike ego. This ego may inevitably be the first step in the development of the "I am" center; but it is a step that should be followed by another. A way to understand objectively the difference between the ego and the spiritual center of which it is at best only one aspect, is to realize that, as I have said above, the Sun is not only the dominant power in his system of planets, but also one of billions of stars in the Galaxy. In other words, the Sun can be seen in two distinct roles; and likewise the center of man's being can function, both as ego and as one of billions of "I am" centers in the universal community of Man.
To come to a vivid, inescapable, and total realization that the ego-Sun is essentially but one galactic star constitutes essentially the first stage of the transformation of man, as in most cases he is today, into "more-than-man" — and symbolically into a galactic being, a "star." This transformation is necessary as the foundation of a "Galactic Revolution."
When the Sun is seen as the star it fundamentally is, a galactic frame of reference takes form in the consciousness of man, and it brings to all the patterns and events of our traditional solar system a potentially new meaning. The planetary facts at first remain what they were. The orbits, the speed of revolution, and the cyclic interrelationship between their positions in the sky seen by human eyes do not change; but the interpretation of these facts is altered. The long-used traditional names acquire a different meaning — and this unfortunately causes semantic problems. The entire solar system is seen in a new light, the light of the relationship it has to the Galaxy. This light brings into a sharp relief the difference between the planets that revolve within Saturn's orbit — including Saturn itself — and the trans-Saturnian planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
What I mean by the relationship which the solar system has to the Galaxy is the fact that from the "holarchic" point of view I am presenting, two forces are active within our solar system: the gravitational pull exerted by the Sun, and another force, the nature of which we may not as yet really understand, "galactic power." And this term, galactic power, should be understood to mean the power of the type of energies — and better still, of the quality of existence — pervading the whole of galactic space. The relative strengths of these two forces changes according to the region of the solar system one considers. In the region bounded by Saturn's orbit, the power of the solar autocrat is dominant; beyond Saturn, galactic power overcomes solar power. Yet throughout the whole system the two forces are active; they are active within man, because every cell of man's body exists in galactic space as well as in heliocosmic and biospheric space. The space of any "greater whole" includes the more differentiated spaces of all the "lesser wholes" which it contains and whose activities it organizes functionally with reference to its needs. In most instances the "lesser wholes" are unconscious of the needs of the "greater wholes," yet their overall life patterns (their "destinies") are subjected to those very needs.
If we truly understand this picture of the universe, we should see that central to it is the concept of a hierarchy of spaces; and space, during a period of cosmic manifestation, actually represents the manner in which all the organized systems of activities operating in any region of the universe are interrelated and interacting. Space is not an empty container into which material substances are poured; it is the interrelatedness of all activities. As these activities are operating at different levels of organization or planes of existence — the quality of their interaction and interdependence varies with each level. There is a hierarchy of levels or scopes and rhythms of activity, and thus a hierarchy of qualities of existence. Existence at the biospheric level in the earth-field has a different quality or character than at the heliocosmic and galactic levels.
Thus, when I speak here of galactic space I am referring to the special character of the relationship between entities (i.e., organized fields of activity) which we call "galactic" because we perceive their activities as essentially different from and superior to those of entities that exist on dark planets radiating no light. These cosmic light-radiating entities we call "stars"; and our Sun is one of them — and by no means one of the largest and most brilliant or more centrally located.
Galactic space is space within which stars are related to one another. Heliocosmic space is space within which planets and other material entities are related to one another. Biospheric space is space within which living organisms enter into relationships with each other. These spaces differ in the character or quality of the relationships operating within them, yet the larger space contains the narrower; therefore man who normally acts within biospheric space is also pervaded with galactic space and affected by the relationship between the stars — though normally he is not aware of this. His consciousness does not operate at the galactic level; even less can he physically act at that level. However, consciousness is always ahead of concrete activity, the latter operating on a collective basis.
While physically limited to the tribal level of sociocultural activity within a local environment, human beings could nevertheless be conscious of what "life" in a general sense meant; and they projected that meaning upon the sky, which they saw filled with the One Life differentiating through creative celestial hierarchies. When, through travel, mankind became aware of the spherical nature of the Earth and of the biosphere as a whole, the consciousness of the more evolved minds began to picture the universe in heliocentric terms — and the classical picture of the universe arose, which then astrologers interpreted in individualistic and event-oriented terms for men who tried to act as solar autocrats — or at least as autonomous individuals. Today it is increasingly possible for men to overcome the gravitational pull of our Earth and to travel in heliocosmic space. Such a physical achievement becomes then the symbol of the possibility for any consciousness attuned to a quality of existence broader and more inclusive than the collective norm to reach the level of galactic existence.
Astronomy has provided us with visual material on which we can begin to build a picture of what takes place within galactic space. Such a picture at present is still uncertain and full of mysteries. Yet astrology can begin to interpret in symbolic terms the relationships between the stars moving within this galactic space.
Human beings are not stars, but what occurs in the realm of stars and in terms of a galactic quality of existence may be used as a symbol of a slowly developing type of human consciousness, whose more-than-individualistic — and therefore symbolically more-than-heliocentric — character can be referred to the quality of existence of the galactic dimension of space.
The essential factor in this transformation of man's consciousness is the transmutation of the "solar" I into the "galactic" We. In this We-consciousness the principle of interpenetration operates. This is the galactic dimension of existence. In it, the sense of the separateness of isolated (i-sol-ated!) entities (which are strictly and exclusively what they are) vanishes. Everything not only is related to everything else, but, I repeat, every entity, every mind too — interpenetrates every other entity. As the consciousness of an individual person is able to operate in this spiritual dimension, it begins actively and transformatively to participate in the process of integration of humanity at the level at which the formation of a "pleroma" (or fullness) of Man is possible — the level of the spiritual mind or supermind. At that level unanimity in consciousness prevails, yet each participant in the pleroma — or as a true occultist would say in the "White Lodge" retains the ability to operate.
This level of functional differentiation is symbolically that of the heliocosm — Sun and planets. The two levels — galactic and heliocosmic — are related not only by the fact that the heliocosmic Sun is also (and primarily) a galactic star, but by that other less obvious fact that the planets beyond Saturn (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and probably at least another planet I long ago named Proserpine) are in the solar system but not of it. Their allegiance is to the Galaxy. They are agents for the dissemination of the galactic quality of existence. I have spoken of them as "Ambassadors of the Galaxy" — but they are the kind of ambassadors at least part of whose function is to draw the consciousness of human beings toward the Galaxy. They are radically transformative, indeed subversive forces at work in the solar system.
A transformative kind of activity always has its place in any formal system of personal or collective human organization — and symbolically in the organization of any Sun-centered type of ordering. Neither is it absent from the biological level, where it manifests as the capacity for mutation in every living organism. It is present in the world of the biosphere, because at the core of the planet Earth, there must be a point at which the action of the Galaxy is felt. Because galactic space pervades all living organisms, the mysterious core of the Galaxy can reflect itself upon or within their innermost space which vibrates, at least potentially, to the quality of galactic space — the quality of interpenetration and of star radiance.
While biological mutations occur only in the cellular or molecular substance of the seed's nucleus, at the level of the human consciousness, the process of transformation of the heliocentric into the galactic mind seems to occur in a central region of the head. That region is directly linked with the "heart center" where the spiritual Sun of man — atman, Krishna, or Christ — can be symbolically located. The two centers are one, just as the Sun is also a star.
b) Planets of Organic Functioning
Once we realize that the Sun is a star, and as such participates as an atom or cell in the galactic whole and is firmly rooted in man's mind, it is easy to understand how the solar system naturally divides itself into two areas. The area bounded by Saturn's orbit and the one that extends outside of it and includes the trans-Saturnian planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto — just as the life of an active participant in a national organism is divided between a private and a public part.
In the area bounded by Saturn's orbit and dominated by the power of the Sun, everything refers to the organization of a system of activity able to operate as a steady and relatively permanent organism. Three basic principles of operation are at work: 1) the principle of formal exclusion, which establishes the particular form of the living organism and the self-regulated character of its operations: "I am what I am, and nothing else"; 2) the capacity for self-maintenance and growth through expansion and metabolic assimilation; 3) the principle of self-reproduction, and biological self-multiplication — and at the human level, also of self-expression in creative symbolic activity within a socio-cultural environment.
These three principles (or powers) are represented in astrology by what in the past I have called the "planets of organic living" (d. The Practice of Astrology, 1970) or "planets of the conscious" (d. The Astrology of Personality, 1936).(2) Of these planets, three revolve around the Sun outside of the Earth's orbit: Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. Three of them, if we include the Sun as the fountainhead of the energy making life possible on our planet, operate within the Earth's orbit; the other two being Mercury and Venus.
2. The student is referred also to two other books, New Mansions for New Men (1937) and Triptych: The Illumined Road (1968) for different approaches to an understanding of the planets and the solar system.
As the Sun is the center of the field of organic living, Saturn in the language of astrology represents the circumference — the boundaries of any life-field. Saturn's rings constitute a visually clear symbol of the circumscribing, but also focusing character of its activity. It is the principle of Form dividing the field of experience into outside and inside areas. Such an activity sets boundaries which at first and for a long time operate in terms of rigid and fearful exclusion. But exclusion is necessary as long as the organism's functions are not stabilized, and a sense of security is not established according to the organism's capacity to insulate itself from external materials which it should not absorb, because it cannot assimilate them. To assimilate anything is to make it "similar to" what is being functionally used in the inside area of the organic field of activity.
Between the Sun-center and the Saturn-circumference stretches the field of organic living. Jupiter, the largest planet of the heliocosm, represents the capacity to assimilate, and through assimilation, to expand. If the Jupiterian type of expansion is to be wholesome, it should operate within the Saturnian boundaries. Yet when the latter becomes over-rigid or over-exclusive because of fear or shock-producing experiences, the Jupiterian force tries to flow outward through gates in Saturn's walls by seducing or corrupting the keeper of the gates; or, if this is not possible or safe, it attempts to compensate for Saturn's rigidity by building in imagination some kind of heavenly field in which the Sun-force would spread across endless space without limitations or (at the level of mental activity) without rigorous definitions and logical exclusivity. Imagining such a kind of Jupiterian space-field extension is, however, very different from actually transforming Saturn's power. The mind may refuse to see or deny the existence of the fortified walls; but they still stand, and they remain an even stronger obstacle to the galactic transformation, because the Jupiterian will to expansion, seeking to ignore or deny all limitations, stresses more than ever the strictly solar aspect of the Sun. Because Jupiter only sees in the Sun the source of ever-greater abundance, the Jupiterian optimist or religious devotee actually becomes ever more unable to see the Sun as a star.
Jupiter finds in Mercury a helper, and often a conniving slave. The two constitute a coupling, but because they operate at a different level than the Sun-Saturn pairing, the meaning of their relationship is also very different. The Jupiterian power of assimilation and metabolism needs a system-regulating nervous system. Jupiter may be the successful manager, but he would be helpless without an efficient executive secretary, or a well-integrated bureaucracy, and today a battery of computers — all of which refer to Mercury's function in any complex field of organic living or socioeconomic organization. Yet if Jupiter tries to expand along lines of compensatory and unsound dream-activities and these may refer to pseudo-mystical or exaggeratedly devotional experiences, inasmuch as Jupiter can be related to religious activity — Mercury may confuse as well as excite the Jupiterian type of consciousness by hiding the dream-quality of its compensation for Saturnian rigidity under the glamor of intellectual self-justification and magnificently empty words, or of specious arguments.
The coupling of Mars and Venus operates in terms of another type of organic function. Mars is the often but not necessarily aggressive desire to reproduce the particular and personal form of one's selfhood by stamping its outlines repeatedly upon some receptive or weakly self-defined entity in the neighborhood. It seeks to fill outer space with replica of what one feels one is. At the biological level, this desire is the urge to have an abundant progeny. We see it operating in the Biblical story of Abraham, who envisions the land filled with generations of people all descending from the seed-pattern of his physical and intellectual being. This is biological immortality. We find it a physical reality in the authentic uninterrupted line of direct male descendants from Confucius, spanning nearly eighty generations. It is also exemplified in the numerous descendants from Mohammed.
Such a biological self-projection is made possible by Venus, which traditionally "rules" over the sperm and ovum-producing glands, testicles, and ovaries. In its highest meaning, Venus refers to the creation of archetypes, which are "mind seeds." Occultists have referred to Venus as the source from which archetypal Man emerged. This archetype became concretized on our Earth which, as a planet, moves midway between Venus and Mars, and therefore symbolically represents the outcome of their conjugated activity. Mars delivers the goods which Venus engenders. As ruler over all outgoing activity, and therefore of the muscular system in all its subtle as well as gross manifestations, Mars depends upon Venus for directives; that is, it depends upon the value-judgments (good or bad, desirable or undesirable, to be loved or to run away from) with which Venus provides it.
In modern astrology, the Moon is often paired with Saturn, because the two represent respectively the mother image and the father image in a person's consciousness, but not necessarily the actual character of the physical mother and father. The Moon should be considered as the symbol of an organism's capacity to adjust to the ever-changing conditions of everyday living and to repair itself. If the Moon represents the mother, it is because when the human baby is born he or she is helpless, and it is the mother — or it may be a nurse — who sees to it that the baby lives in the best conditions possible. Later on, the grownup child should develop his or her own capacity for adjustment and adaption; and he does this through "feelings." These represent the higher and conscious aspects of the unconscious and compulsive instincts of a purely animal organism. The Moon may refer also to the spontaneous type of intelligence which is also a refinement of animal instinct and is almost exclusively geared to survival.
One more important factor is found in the heliocosmic field that extends between the solar center and the Saturnian circumference: the ring of the asteroids. Recently, the asteroids have been brought to the astrologers' attention and an ephemeris has been calculated for the larger of these,(3) but I already discussed the asteroids' importance in New Mansions for New Men and, in a different manner, in an article published in American Astrology magazine in October 1936. To the astronomer, the asteroids are a very large number of relatively small chunks of matter revolving between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter at the place where, according to Bode's Law, a planet should be found. This law, popularized during the last part of the eighteenth century but actually discovered by David Titius in 1751, established a rather mysterious relationship between the distances of the planets from the Sun. It stimulated efforts to identify whatever was located in the region of the solar system where the expected planet should be found; and on January 1, 1901 the largest of the asteroids, Ceres, was sighted by Guiseppe Piazzi from an observatory in Sicily. Many others were discovered during the last century, and there may be many thousands of very small ones. The four larger ones are said to have diameters ranging from 118 to 478 miles.
3. Cf. Eleanor Bach's book, Ephemerides of the Asteroids Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta (New York: 1973).
The size of the asteroids is not the important factor in trying to discover their meaning in the total structure of the heliocosm. What is significant is the large number of them and the fact that they swarm between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It actually is the place which each planet occupies in the solar system — the region of heliocosmic space in which it revolves — that gives it its abstract or archetypal significance in the celestial language of astrology, especially when that place is also interpreted with reference to the Earth's orbit. Similarly, the functional meaning of any organ of the human body derives to a great extent from the position it occupies, at least in the archetypal form of Man.
From a holistic (or gestalt) point of view, it seems quite illogical to single a few asteroids out of the swarm they constitute just because they are a little bigger and more easily detected, even if they have been individualized by mythological Greek names. If one does this, comets whose appearances are seemingly periodical should be given an astrological meaning. The satellites of all planets should also be considered. What is important in the asteroids is that they constitute a definite class of celestial bodies; thus we should see in their collectivity the manifestation of some basic factor or structural principle existing in at least a certain type of solar system, and thus constituting a significant "word" in the symbolic planetary language of astrology.
Such a word was revealed to man's consciousness during the nineteenth century, around the time when two other great words, Uranus and Neptune, were also coming into use because mankind needed them in order to better understand a newly developed aspect of the human personality. When referred to what was happening during the last century, this celestial word can be translated in our rational-cultural language as "fragmentation."
The idea that the asteroids were produced as the result of the explosion of a planet has apparently been challenged quite recently; yet it remains the most likely hypothesis. Even if these thousands of fragments did not result from a planetary explosion, they still can be referred to a fragmentary state of existence and consciousness — a state of atomization and nonintegration. If now we consider the series of planets from the Sun outward, the fact that this "asteroidal" condition of existence is seen to succeed the type of vital activity symbolized by Mars gives us a rather obvious clue to its meaning. Martian activity rushes ahead impulsively and emotionally. In it man's desire-nature and his muscles are tensed for aggressive action toward the attainment of whatever is wanted. But does aggression always reach its goal? Our environment is full of other aggressors who may resent and fight against our outward activity. Even if we do not have to fight in order to get what we want, we often scatter our energies in the pursuit of so many desired objects, too many interests, too many excentric yearnings; we become feverish with activity and haste, and our body and/or psyche break down.
As I see it, this is what the asteroids' belt as a whole symbolizes. However, the disintegrated or disintegrative condition which it portrays can be cured, and the cure is provided by Jupiter. Jupiter tells us that Martian individualistic activity in the pursuit of emotional satisfaction, or even of biological needs, can be transformed into group cooperation, through which success may be achieved, where relentless and ruthless personal aggressiveness would only lead to self-fragmentation and karmic bondage. The belt of asteroids may be a symbol of the karma of past activities that were inharmonious or spiritually disintegrative. Standing as it does at some kind of midpoint between the Sun and Saturn, it is a reminder of the material implications of heliocentric consciousness. Asteroids seem to be strictly material entities without atmosphere, magnetism, and internal fire — without life of any kind. May we not see in them the dark reflection — the shadow of the Galaxy, whose billions of stars radiate light? Every material life organism casts a shadow. Every muscular Martian action generates toxins in the contracting cells. Has not the Industrial Revolution cast a deep shadow upon the collective consciousness of the Western people?
The fact that Uranus and Neptune were sighted within the same period that saw the discoveries of the asteroids should be considered significant, for the two discoveries refer to the realization, at least by a few free and open minds, of the positive and the negative possibilities inherent in the Industrial Revolution, and in all it brought to mankind. The planets Uranus and Neptune opened the way to a radical alteration of all the implications of human existence, both individually and in sociocultural and political groups — an alteration that can lead to a galactic type of consciousness and organization because whatever these two planets represent, they point the way ultimately at the "galactization" of mankind.
On the other hand, the asteroids symbolize the fragmentation and atomization of Western society and of its once-homogeneous religious and cultural tradition. When, in the twentieth century, Pluto was discovered and a great amount of increasingly smaller asteroids were identified, the centrifugal character and the explosiveness of individualistic claims and ambitions reached such a dangerous level that it had to be either brutally or subtly checked by some form of Plutonian totalitarianism — Fascism and Communism, or in the "free" world, big business, directing men's minds and feelings through the use of relentless propaganda which deeply binds while producing an immobilizing illusion of freedom.
In the language of astrology, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto as agents of the Galaxy may be very disturbing words, because wherever the Saturnian power inherent in all that has form and boundaries has become materialized into the fortified citadel of the human ego, these words refer to life-challenges and upheavals of many types. Nevertheless, the crises thus induced are cathartic means leading to an inherently constructive and potentially glorious end. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are agents of transformation; and at the human level, processes of transformation are integral parts of the total organism of personality. They constitute a fourth level of functional activity, whose purpose is to allow a fourth dimension of consciousness — the galactic dimension — to operate.
When this dimension operates in a sufficient number of human beings, a contagion of transformation spreads and in due time alters the collective foundation of culture and society. We are today witnessing the spread of a contagion of change with its feverish ups and downs and the attendant suffering. It should open the door to an inrush of galactic forces — a "descent" of spiritual, transforming power impregnating the global space of the Earth as well as mankind as a whole. A global civilization may then take form which symbolically would reflect the essential character of the Galaxy as a whole. By then, the Galaxy will have been understood for what it is at its own level of activity, and no longer only according to our present heliocentric perceptions and materialistic concepts. It will be seen and felt as a cosmic whole of radiant interpenetrating stars in perpetual transformation — a pleroma of dynamic centers of galactic consciousness that, whatever they may actually be at their own cosmic level, can be used as magnificent symbols inspiring men to become more than men.
c) Planets of Transformation and Transcendence
Any thorough process of transformation must deal directly with the energies which produced the forms requiring radical alteration. As we saw earlier, the three fundamental functions operative in living bodies (or even in steady sociocultural systems) are symbolized in the heliocosmic system by Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars: i.e., the principle which produced circumscribing but also focalizing, forms (Saturn) — the principle of assimilation and expansion within the limits defined by Saturn (Jupiter) — the power of outgoing activity serving the purpose of the organism and in man, the ego (Mars).
Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, which move outside of the Earth's orbit, regulate the relations of the organism with other organisms and with the environment as a whole. The Sun, Mercury, and Venus, which are inside the Earth's orbit, refer to internal functions. The Sun is the fountainhead of the life force (Prana) and determines its specific rhythm in the individual organism — thus providing the energy to whose expansion Saturn will set boundaries. Mercury symbolizes all mental processes, thanks to which the Jupiterian social sense can produce a language and a culture transferable from generation to generation. Venus generates archetypal values and gives moral judgments which guide Martian impetuosity and aggressiveness.
Each of these three pairs of function — and especially Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars — are the targets for a three-pronged galactic challenge represented by Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. It is a challenge to transformation and transcendence, and more basically to a repolarization of the psychic overtones of organic activity and a reorientation of the consciousness and its central principle, the ego.
We spoke previously of the fact that every area in the solar system is also part of the total space of the Galaxy, and thus is pervaded by galactic energies. However, in any system rigidly limited by the Saturnian principle of formation on the basis of exclusivism and separateness, these galactic energies are of a nature transcending the system's normal possibility of resonance. These energies exist within the heliocosmic field in a mostly latent state insofar as the everyday operations and the ego-consciousness of human beings are concerned at our planet's present stage of evolution. Everything within Saturn's orbit gravitates toward the Sun; it is biologically oriented and conditioned by the compulsive and instinctual forces of the biosphere and the even more material spheres of our globe. The basic challenge offered by Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto is that of realizing the existence of another and opposite kind of gravitation — the gravitation exerted by the galactic center. It is the challenge of accepting being reoriented and repolarized. What the trans-Saturnian planets demand is therefore a change of loyalties. This also implies a new perspective on life and all its organic activities, a new sense of relationship to all there is and to the bare fact of existence. Eventually, a new sense of time and a new capacity for action in space — galactic space instead of heliocosmic space — will take form in the consciousness.
Such a radical transformation may be interpreted by the modern mind as a raising of vibrations which enable the organism to resonate to galactic energies. It can also be seen as the removing of a great variety of obstacles produced by the Saturnian ego-consciousness and its allegiance to narrow concepts and emotionally binding loyalties. This occurs at the level of the individual person and also in any tribal, provincial, or national type of society, culture, and religion. Once these obstacles are removed and the limitations transcended, man is able to respond to energies, feelings, and thoughts at a new level of great inclusion and more spiritual valuation.
This process of transformation and repolarization does not require that we move from the Earth to some other place. The "new life" is not elsewhere; galactic space is not far away or above us in some mythological, transcendent heaven. Galactic space pervades each of us. We live in it; but we do not truly understand this fact as long as Saturn and the ego make us blind and insensitive to it. Saturn's facts obliterate galactic facts; yet these two kinds of facts are essentially the same. But the man with a transformed consciousness sees them in a different light. Nothing is denied; everything is transfigured. Once the transformation is accomplished, the biological Sun is more radiant than ever, because we see it not only as our autocratic Sun but also as a galactic star. As long as our consciousness and identity is attached to a physical body, this Sun sustains us biologically, but when the transformation is achieved, this Sun ceases to blind us by its glory. It no longer prevents us from realizing the galactic fact that as an individual center of consciousness we are the physical expression of one star in the Galaxy. This star is our father-star, our spiritual identity within the vast company of galactic stars. To know this fact with indisputable and irreducible knowing gives to our living inner security and peace. It is true "salvation."
Today this process of transformation and transfiguration can be seen to operate at two levels. In its most essential aspect it operates within the individual person, a process which the occultist refers to as "the Path." It leads by gradual steps — the true great Initiations — to supermental consciousness and perhaps conscious rebirth in immortal selfhood. Today, however, the whole of humanity — and probably the planet Earth as a whole — are involved in a process of accelerated change of which some esotericists (4) speak as a planetary Initiation. This change can be related to the transition between two great ages, usually called the Piscean and the Aquarian ages — and perhaps between still larger cycles than the procession of the equinoxes. It is because of that change, and the development of intellectual powers which made the Industrial Revolution and modern technology possible, that the three trans-Saturnian planets have been discovered and the existence and structure of the Galaxy (and other spiral nebulae) has been ascertained. These planets provide us with new "words" in the celestial language of astrology, which can help us formulate the major historical phases of the planetary transformation.
4. Esoteric philosophy refers to theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and all other forms of serious Occultism.
The first phase occurred toward the close of the eighteenth century, when the divine right of kings and the value of the rigid forms of institutionalized religion were challenged. It has been called the century of enlightenment, because it brought to Western civilization new social, psychological, and intellectual ideals, and it opened the door to the Industrial Revolution that was to change humanity's way of life. The discovery of Neptune in 1846 symbolizes the character of all that was occurring in the Western world and, through colonialism all over the globe. If the Uranian eighteenth century shattered in revolutionary terms the established aristocratic and dogmatic patterns of Europe, releasing the potentiality of human freedom and true democracy alas, only the potentiality! — the Neptunian nineteenth century in many ways, and as much as the present stage of human evolution allowed, dissolved the strongly entrenched loyalties of human beings to rigid class structures and provincialisms. It forced the larger industrialized nations to encompass the whole globe in order to satisfy their need for raw materials and foreign workers. The variety of racial-cultural "melting pots" thus produced should ideally have become alchemical retorts for the transformation of national and class consciousness and the emergence of humanitarian, nonexclusive, and international organizations, whether at the social-political or the religious level; but these largely failed in their attempts because of the power of entrenched Jupiterian privilege and the greed of ambitious men.
The discovery of Pluto in 1930 at the time of the great Depression affecting the whole Western world provided man with a symbol of what inevitably happens when nations, groups, and individuals keep relentlessly pursuing the way of ego-aggressiveness, lust for power, and sensationalism, refusing to surrender old privileges and obsolescent beliefs. The inner darkness explodes into outer violence and ruthlessness. To the "white" Terror, the "red" Terror answers with even greater cruelty. Deception and destruction are accepted as principles of conduct. Everything tends to be reduced to its barest essentials, but in spiritual darkness the essential becomes the absurd. The glamour of ideals vanishes, leaving what had failed to be true to the ideal totally denuded. Yet Pluto opens the way for eventual rebirth, wherever chaos accepts to be fecundated by a new revelation of cosmos, and a new vision of universalistic order takes form within the purged consciousness.
We may not as yet have reached a situation of sufficiently widespread chaos to make a collective acceptance of a new order possible on a large scale, but certain individuals can always separate themselves from the mass of humanity still wedded to the compulsions, the violence, and the repetitive patterns characterizing activities in the Earth's biosphere. Individuals can leave the highway of evolution where the process of transformation is slow and hesitant, and enter "the Path." It is always in some sense the Path of Discipleship — even if the guru is not active in physical embodiment — because it implies both the readiness and will of an individual to "ascend" toward a higher spiritual level of consciousness and existence, and the "descent" of a being operating at that transcendental level and, out of compassion, ready to help (and indeed to involve himself in) whoever makes a sincere and consistent effort to take the Path of accelerated spiritual unfoldment.
In the symbolism of astrology this Path leads from a planetary and heliocosmic to a galactic type of consciousness and activity. As the individual treads this dangerous and tortuous Path, he or she has to meet the challenges represented by the three planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Whereas on the highway of life a man walks with all human beings more or less at his own stage of evolution, thus as part of a collective sociocultural tide which pushes him along through crests and troughs, on the Path of Initiation the individual walks alone, surrounded by invisible alien presences and encountering one test of sincerity, courage, endurance, and discrimination after another. He walks "in the footsteps" of many who before him have followed this path. He may meet the remains of some who have fallen by the wayside. In the darkness, he may have to feel the soil under him to make sure it is still "the way and the life" and not some byways leading only to glamour-loaded illusions or dreary intellectual desert. Occasionally, he may have a glimpse of a star to whose radiance his deepest being resonates, or he may have the fugitive vision of a being watching over him and pointing to some yet distant summit ahead. Whatever happens, he has to "walk on " — the great injunction given by Zen Buddhism. He has to keep in motion, for mobility is health and holiness as well; and the motion seems constantly to accelerate, the walk more demanding. The demands increase in intensity and difficulty.
Why should anyone seek that Path? This could be done in two ways: positively, because he has seen a vision — however imprecise — of a superhuman goal to which his whole being responded, and of a state of being that fascinated his consciousness. He may have experienced the presence or the inner call of a radiant being who was both himself and far more than himself. Or he may have sought the entrance of the Path negatively, because of emotional rebellion, restlessness, divine discontent, or a total dissatisfaction with the highway filled with mass-men — or perhaps simply because, for no conscious reason, he had to. But, whatever may have started him on the Path, he has to meet repeatedly and at different levels the Uranian demand for transformation, the Neptunian call for transmutation, and the deep relentless Plutonian call for transsubstantiation; that is, a radical change in the structure of his mind — in the quality of his responses to every aspect of everyday life and interpersonal relationship — and finally in the very substance of his inner, and eventually perhaps his outer being.
This threefold change in form, in feeling-response, and psychic mental substance constitutes a redirection, repolarization, and reassessment of the person's loyalties. It has traditionally been symbolized by the metamorphosis of worm into butterfly. It implies a change of the level of existence — from the biological to the spiritual-mental, from dark planet to galactic star. A new frame of reference has to be built and thoroughly tested by crucial experiences. The old heliocosmic field ruled by the Sun and bounded by Saturn has to become transfigured by the realization that it is a small section of the vast galactic space. The ego-ruled individual must cease to consider himself the center of a universe structured by his desires and his fears, his ambitions and his frustrations. He must accept his role as a servant of a greater whole. Outwardly this greater whole is humanity, called by some occultists "the great Orphan." In a higher sense, it is the brotherhood of radiant "star-beings" who successfully have trodden the Path and now guide man's evolution.
The change is truly a radical metamorphosis and inevitably it involves deep crises. This means, in terms of astrological practice, that the presence of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in a natal chart refers to life-processes and events which can be regarded either as constructive challenges to transformation into the "new man," or as drastically upsetting to the "old man" in everyone of us, and often as totally destructive of whatever did refer in social terms to the old order, or biologically to physical or psychological health. The positive and negative evaluations apply to what the planet represents in a chart according to its place in the zodiac and the house-circle; and either both possibilities or only one of the two may be experienced. As these three trans-Saturnian planets specifically challenge a double trinity of cis-Saturnian planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars — and Sun, Mercury, Venus), the problem of ascertaining whether they will actually refer to constructive or destructive events, or to both, can only be solved — and this only most tentatively — by also considering the positions of the planets being challenged.
URANUS challenges most specifically Saturn and the Sun, thus the circumference and the central source of the energy that operates within the heliocosmic field bounded by this circumference. Uranus refuses to accept the limitations to the radiating power of the Sun imposed by Saturn, whether it be at the biological level (bone structure) or at the psychological level of the ego and its exclusivism. Uranus does not affect the Sun as a star, but by overcoming or at least deeply upsetting Saturn's powers, it transforms the mode of operation of solar energy. Uranus acts in swift releases of energy which often have great destructive impact upon whatever stands in their way. It is, in a sense at least, an action resembling that of the lightning or, in other cases, of violent wind. It may strike unannounced Saturn's fortifications and thus the long-accumulated or carefully engineered defenses of the ego.
When Saturn's power and the old patterns guaranteeing the security of the ego and social privileges have broken down, Uranus can act as inspirer and as the capacity to adapt to the new rhythms of a galactically-oriented consciousness. Above all, its function is to keep the path to the galactic center open. It induces a state of total availability to whatever has to happen. Such a state of openness and availability stands in sharp contrast to the inertial, habit-dominated, and tradition-worshiping Saturnian condition.
NEPTUNE is the "universal solvent" of which alchemists have spoken. It dissolves all that Uranus has shattered. While Jupiter refers to the process of expansion inherent in all life organisms — and also in modern business corporations — and to the greed for the kind of power that never seems completely to satisfy personal ambition, Neptune represents the attitude of detachment from every quantitatively measurable object, or from social gains and prestige, demanded of every aspirant to a spiritual condition of existence. Non-possessiveness and compassion characterize that planet, whose symbol is the sea. But in its negative aspect, Neptune represents glamour in all its forms, and intoxication with whatever reflects, and sometimes is a caricature of cosmic consciousness and of the unitive state which the great mystics have sought to describe in often confusing allegories. Mercury, representing the mind conditioned by biological or social-cultural drives, is adept at presenting us with reflections instead of realities. Neptune challenges our dependence upon mere intellectual abstractions and social-Jupiterian fashions in thought.
PLUTO's keynote — which few astrologers understand — is purity. Pure water is water containing no extraneous material; thus a pure combination of hydrogen and oxygen, h2o. Pluto is the power that impels, and most often compels, any living organism and any individual human being to cast aside all that is not its own essential nature — its "truth of being," its dharma. It is therefore a strongly cathartic agent. It cleanses and purifies, and usually not in a gentle manner. If Pluto challenges Mars, it is because the latter represents the often intemperate desire to flow out to whatever Venus in us makes us feel attractive. "Martian" actions, however, most often result in reactions which bring to the emotionally outgoing organism or ego materials and thoughts that are foreign to its nature. Such a type of activity is haunted by the yearning for self-expression, an expression conditioned, if not entirely determined, by social patterns or mere fashions. Pluto forces upon our egocentric consciousness the realization of the futility and the danger of emotional and ambitious outgoings. It ruthlessly destroys all glamour. It deconditions us and leaves us bare and vulnerable, but — if all goes well — sober and purified.
As the disciple advances on the Path and becomes repolarized by galactic forces operating through the three trans-Saturnian planets, new faculties begin to appear within the broadened and heightened field of existence. What was only latent, as part of the vast potential inherent in human nature, becomes actualized.
URANUS can be related to a new faculty of vision — thus, to clairvoyance. The true clairvoyant is able to "visualize," usually in terms of symbols or of oracular messages, the character and meaning of any situation to which he directs his attention. The symbol he perceives has an inclusive quality. In principle, at least, it reveals the essence of the whole situation — not merely some of the superficial aspects of this situation or what the person, under the control of the Saturnian ego, thinks it is (or, even more, wants it to be).
NEPTUNE brings to the disciple on the Path at least the foreshadowing of what true compassion and holiness mean. It enlarges the consciousness so it is able to respond to all conditions of existence and to accept all there is simply for what it is. It transcends intellectual categories and class or color prejudices, because it operates on the basis of total inclusiveness and impersonal love-agape (Christ-love) or the compassion of the Bodhisattva who vows to help all sentient beings until they reach liberation from the Jupiter-Saturn complexes of separative and spiritually dark existence.
PLUTO, in the spiritually developed individual, symbolizes his "ultimate concern" for what underlies all existence, a supreme reality transcending all movements of existence that are the outcome of limited and limiting desires and local or transitory evaluations. It refers to the power generated by true occult concentration; thus to yoga and all related forms of self-discipline and ego-transcending meditation. It focuses all the energies of the living organism upon a center of immoveable consciousness. At this center, the power of the galactic center — the divine within, yet beyond us — can be experienced. Upon this point, the star which every individual human being potentially is — can focus its light. And the star's galactic rhythm may be felt by the whole organism, now able to resonate to it, in the silence of all neutralized motions and emotions.
When Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto have done their work, the boundaries of the heliocosm — the protective but isolating outer layers of the disciple's aura — have become translucent. Galactic light can pour through them without any resistance. The chemical energies of "life" have been transmuted into the nuclear forces of "spirit." Man, though still "in" the world, is no longer "of" the world.
When a sufficient number of individuals have reached that state, a transformation of the physical aspect of our planet will inevitably, yet gradually, take place. The galactic community of Man, of which some eighteenth-century visionaries dreamed, can become a fact.
The Sun is Also a Star