THE CHALLENGE OF GALACTICITY IN HUMANISTIC ASTROLOGY
The exalting myth should become a practical inspiration to greater living in the midst of present-day conditions. How can the astrologer into whose heart and mind clients pour their insecurity, their hopes, their fears, their complexes, and their torments give them a fresh, creative, and rehabilitating understanding of their past, a more dynamic approach to present crises or uncertainties, and an inner feeling of what they can accomplish if they dare face the challenge of the transformative spirit?
This is what any truly "humanistic" astrologer who takes his work to heart would eagerly like to know. But the answer to the question as above stated cannot be formulated in general terms. Spirit acts in a focal manner only in particularly defined cases, leaving to the mind the task of generalizing and symbolizing the "as-yet-unknown" in images and myths. Yet how could the next step in any situation be revealed to an eager enquirer except in the form of symbols?
Any life situation, with its personal problems, of course is the outcome of a unique set of circumstances, antecedents, and future possibilities. But it may also be understood as a single variation on one of relatively few themes. These themes are the archetypes. Man, as member of a particular culture, sees them in a special light. The quality of that light — the character of human understanding — changes as the consciousness of the collective "culture-whole," and of the individual person born in such a sociocultural field of activity, unfolds and actualizes more of the cosmic potentialities inherent in archetypal Man.
When human consciousness passes from the condition of heliocosmic centrality and materiality to that of galacticity, it inevitably is beset by a multitude of problems of intellectual and emotional readjustment. In attempting to solve these problems, individuals follow many paths of psychological enquiry. Each path follows a specific line replete with conscious and unconscious symbolism. How could this be different, in view of the often unrecognized fact that each path is based on undemonstrable premises or paradigms? Some of these, enforced by the socio-educational system, are taken for granted; but others result from a more or less intentional repudiation of what had been learned in childhood or through joining a special group.
In America today, a person seeking help from the usual psychoanalyst or psychiatrist implicitly accepts — whether he is aware of the fact or not — the paradigms of his particular variety of Western society. If he consults the typical self-advertising astrologer, an extracultural line of approach will be followed which represents an ambiguous combination of conscious and semiconscious attitudes. The counter-cultural approach of most humanistic astrologers is conditioned by a somewhat unclear form of protest against, and escape from, the premises enforced by the institutionalized mentality of our present society. This becomes transcultural if the enquirer intuitively feels that he is living in a state of transition between two cultures — one of them slowly becoming obsolete, and the other in an as yet prenatal condition — and that he must take a positive, creative, and transforming stand in terms of such a situation. He unavoidably has to use words, syntax, and data produced by the present-day group-consciousness and its instrumentalities, most of which are the products of past concepts and attitudes; yet he can see through them and reinterpret them in terms of a new vision.
The galactic approach, which it is this book's purpose only to evoke, for to define it precisely today would be an impossibility, should be called "transcultural" rather than "counter-cultural." Our present knowledge of the Galaxy is far too hazy and incomplete to serve as a solid and truly consistent foundation for a definitely "galactic" type of astrological approach. Nevertheless, if we have been stirred by an emergent intuitive feeling that mankind is now evolving toward a new and as yet unclearly formulated condition of individual and social consciousness, we can use the radically transformed astronomical picture to symbolize that state of consciousness and being to which we aspire; and by so doing we can experience our attunement to cosmic reality and galactic rhythms in a way that will transcend not merely the individualistically anthropocentric attitude of our official Euro-American culture, but the childlike devotional approach of archaic man.
Until the new model of the universe is more definite and structurally sound, such an attunement has to remain intuitive and largely a feeling-experience, except in the rare instance when a visionary mind operates; but we know enough today to see emerging a few basic facts that can be transmuted into great symbols pointing to new life realizations. The problem facing the future-oriented astrologer is how to use these symbols in an interpretation of birth charts that would reveal the manner in which the new level of reality and consciousness may affect the psychological and spiritual development of the individual he or she is attempting to guide on his or her path to self-transformation.
In attempting to solve such a problem it is first of all necessary to realize that the classical type of astrology is an ambiguous combination in which the archaic intuitions (and the terms characterizing vitalistic religions) mix with the materialistic and mechanistic concepts of the Copernican period of our Western society. The most basic ambiguity refers, of course, to the two concepts of zodiac: the sidereal zodiac of constellations of stars and the tropical zodiac of signs representing twelve sections of the Earth's orbit. Another kind of ambiguity results from considering the Sun and the Moon both from the archaic point of view which sees them as the two Lights and, in modern astrological practice, as "planets" — even though popular "Sun-sign astrology" gives an overwhelming importance to the Sun. A third kind of ambiguity resides in speaking of "fixed" stars, an appellation which is not even truly consistent with the archaic picture of the sky, for in that picture every celestial light-body was moving; the only thing "fixed" being the patterns made by the stars as the whole sky moves in a combination of daily and annual cycles.
When an astrologer speaks of a conjunction between a star and a planet, he or she thinks only of their zodiacal longitude. But many stars have a very high celestial latitude while planets, which always move within the narrow band of the zodiac, have low latitudes. This difference in latitude takes away the meaning of the conjunction (or opposition). The usual practice therefore negates the three-dimensionality of the universe. In an astrology depending so exclusively on the zodiacal plane for its measurements and its symbols it is also unsound to speak of "midpoints." For instance, Antares, the great red star in the constellation Scorpio (but now at about Sagittarius 9°23' in the tropical zodiac, thus at celestial longitude 249°23'), has a celestial south latitude of about 4 degrees, while Sirius, the most brilliant star (longitude 103°43', or Cancer 13°43') has a south latitude of about 39° degrees. The distance in longitude between the two stars is therefore 145°42' and their midpoint would be at Virgo 26°34'. But speaking of such a midpoint would be ignoring the 35-degree difference in their latitudes; it would mean compressing the southern celestial hemisphere into a flat pancake represented by the tropical zodiac — a narrow band extending only a few degrees on either side of the ecliptic.
On the other hand, if we consider the stars Regulus (29°27' Leo and 0&½° north latitude), Spica (23°28' Libra and 2° south latitude), and Antares (Sagittarius 9°23' and 4&½° south latitude, these three are just as close to the plane of the ecliptic as planets; thus, the two sets of celestial bodies can legitimately be related to each other; and their midpoints could be considered significant. The midpoints between Regulus and Spica falls at Virgo 27°01'. Interestingly, it has nearly the same position as the (to my mind illogical) midpoint between Sirius and Antares. The midpoint between Spica and Antares would fall at longitude 226°28' or Scorpio 16°26'.
We cannot orient ourselves significantly in such a welter of uncertainties and ambiguities if we pay too much attention to the fragmentary and often contradictory information derived from a painstaking study of old records left by societies whose paradigms and basic feeling-responses we do not share. Most of these piecemeal records, in fact, came from the period of transition between the Archaic and the Classical eras, thus from the sixth to the first centuries B.C. — a period just as confused as the present one. Astrology for the individual at the very earliest began in the fourth or possibly fifth century B.C. The art of horoscopy, developed in Greece, Egypt, Rome, and later on in the classical sixteenth to eighteenth centuries at the courts of the aristocracy or for political and military purposes, represents only a transitional way of using celestial data in dealing with personal situations and events, a way adapted to a period that emphasized and eventually came to glorify the ego and its wants. The use of the zodiac in horoscopy should be related to the historical period that saw the rise of the Sun to a position of unchallenged importance and centrality, a rise which, at least as far as the Mediterranean regions are concerned, had its most dramatic manifestation in the short-lived worship of Aton, the Sun-disc, by the Pharaoh Akhnaton.
The realization that the universe is a "living" whole should not be confused with the worship of a central figure or symbol that dominates the world. In the purest and most metaphysical form of Vitalism, Space (capitalized) symbolizes the divine creative energy-substance from which everything is derived. Space finds in the stars focal points or lenses through which it exteriorizes its potential of existence, and constellations represent divine creative hierarchies, each of which constitutes a particular cosmic quality or principle. During the day, the Sun blots them out, because it brings to an all-powerful, highly centralized focus the creative life energy of the particular constellation in front of which it passes during a month of our earthly year. The Sun simply channels the cosmic power of one of twelve basic aspects of divine Space represented by the zodiacal constellations. These aspects of the cosmic energy of Space are needed by man and all living organisms on our planet in order effectively to actualize their potential of existence.
According to this vitalistic concept (or myth) the other constellations, sufficiently above or below the plane of the Earth's orbit so as not to be "zodiacal," are also immense sources of cosmic power, but mankind cannot normally use the energies emanated by these extra-zodiacal constellations. Still, the larger stars in those constellations beam upon the Earth some of their power, and human beings who somehow can respond — and whose "fate" it is to respond — to these extraordinary powers may become "possessed" by them. This can lead either to spectacular success and fame, or to equally striking failures, downfall, or unusual illnesses. Medieval astrologers retained enough of these archaic vitalistic ideas to attribute to the most brilliant "fixed stars" the capacity to bring about abnormal or supernormal conditions in the lives of the persons in whose birth chart they conjoined Sun, Moon, and anyone of the four Angles, especially the Ascendant and Mid-Heaven.
Any celestial phenomenon whose recurrence did not seem to fit into any known and understandable patterns of order (comets, for instance) was inevitably given a more or less "ominous" significance. Today, our awareness of cosmic order has acquired a new quality and has been greatly extended. As the character of what we understand by cosmic order is altered, so should the quality and level of our astrological interpretations. Galacticity refers to a newly envisioned type of order which recent astronomical discoveries evoke, though they are unable as yet to define it.
While astronomy seeks to establish the existence of order in celestial phenomena, astrology's function is to transform this observed order into a "myth" — that is, into a series of consistently interrelated symbols able to give a vivid and experienceable direction to the slow and always uncertain progress of individuals and societies toward an ever fuller actualization of the potential inherent in Man as an archetypal reality. The zodiac, with all the immensely ramified and diverse interpretation of its twelve signs, is a myth. In its present form, it presumably is the legacy of a group of wise men forming some kind of "Occult Brotherhood" or of priests who eventually become known as "Chaldeans," and in some instances "Sabaeans," though we cannot be at all sure how these names originated or what group of men these terms first designated. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica ("History of Astrology") astrological concepts reached the Greek world "through a Babylonian sage, Berosus, who founded a school about 640 B.C. in the island of Cos and perhaps counted Thales of Miletus (639-548) among his pupils." But what remains of Berosus' writings is now generally called "apocryphal" and what he claimed to have been records of an immense antiquity are discredited by modern historians, who insist on condensing the periods mentioned in many ancient books, whether of Babylonian or Indian origin, into a very few thousand years.
From the point of view I have taken, whenever "facts" are susceptible of so many contradictory and changing interpretations, it is best to think of validity rather than of truth. Whether the zodiac of twelve signs does or does not have an immense antiquity, its use in a present form is conditioned by classical concepts based upon the need to deal with situations created by more or less individualized human beings and their problems. These situations did not exist in the archaic past of at least our present mankind; and the possibility that they may be deeply modified by conditions that will exist in a "new age" has to be faced. The galactic approach to astrology, which I am suggesting, is an attempt to face this possibility by interpreting in a creative spirit the new discoveries of astronomy.
The zodiacal concept should therefore be reinterpreted, even if at present for practical reasons, the astrologer cannot dispense with it. It is a basic frame of reference; but as I pointed out in the first part of my book The Astrological Houses, it would lose much of its importance in a truly "person-centered" type of astrology in which a three-dimensional "birth globe" would replace our present two-dimensional birth charts. Here again a careful distinction between what we rather ambiguously call today the zodiac and a general division of any cycle into twelve phases, each of which has a characteristic meaning, is imperative.
When the "esoteric astrologer" sees in the zodiac a mythic picture of the descent of "the Soul" into matter and its reascent toward its original spiritual state, what he does is to use the annual, celestial journey of the apparently moving Sun as a symbolic drama in which the Sun is represented by the Soul. Yet what he symbolizes or celestializes is in fact the seasonal cycle of vegetation in temperate north-hemispheric regions — thus the process of life in the biosphere. This is logical and significant in societies based on agriculture and cattle raising, but this myth loses most of its relevance when applied to the problems of a modern egocentric individual whose personal experiences have very little to do with the seasons. Still this radical change in the basic life pattern of human beings does not take anything away from the archetypal meaning of a twelvefold division of a cycle and of the space around a man standing on the surface of the Earth, or of the geometrical solid, the dodecahedron, whose cosmic significance was stressed by Pythagoras and Plato.
Such a twelvefold scheme can be applied to a revitalized concept of astrological Houses, when the individual is seen actually standing at the center of a three-dimensional mandala, his "birth globe." It could be used in galactic astrology, if we knew enough about the structure of the whole Galaxy — which unfortunately we do not. We do not even know whether our solar system is part of a subgalactic system and whether our Sun revolves around a larger star or participates in a subgalactic community in which the principle of galacticity, rather than that of solar centrality, operates.
Because of our ignorance, people may say that the very concept of galacticity is premature. But so are all social utopias and philosophical-ethical dreams! They announce and attempt to formulate in broad terms what sooner or later must come. By imprinting the ideal upon the consciousness of human beings and small groups or communities, these dreams make possible the seemingly impossible. They gradually permeate and transform the personal practices, feelings, and behavior of an increasing number of individuals who have been moved by the vision. At the very least, they raise basic questions; and the ability, and the courage, to ask questions that go to the root of concepts and challenge generally accepted paradigms are essential factors in human evolution.
One can only move step by step. To speak of "humanistic" astrology was one step. To go from the humanistic to the "transpersonal" concept founded upon the principle of galacticity is a further step. It is a step to be taken by the astrologer as a human being, rather than a memorizer of textbooks featuring either old procedures or new techniques whose importance is claimed to be demonstrated by statistics of questionable validity. It is not so much what we can find in and add to an astrological chart that matters, but rather how we look at the chart and what our conception is of man and man's destiny or purpose in the universe and how we can significantly formulate it in terms that will inspire the client.
Nevertheless, the interested "reader" undoubtedly will still ask how he or she can actually apply the concepts this book features in his or her interpretation of personal charts, and whether the "fixed stars" should be given more importance than is usually attributed to them. To these questions I can only make tentative answers, the best that, at this time, I can formulate.
The fact that at present most astrologers refer to the Sun and the Moon as "planets" is already an indication of a break, confused though it be, with a strictly heliocentric approach. Neither can it be considered a return to the archaic approach. It implies that the astrologer thinks of the ten planets (Sun and Moon included) as symbols of ten basic functions operating in any organized system of interrelated and interdependent activities. This is the humanistic astrologer's approach — a holistic approach. An "organic" interpretation is established between all the factors marked on a circular birth chart, and the latter represents a mandala at the center of which the individual "I" stands as an integrative principle. There is nothing wrong in that picture, as it effectively symbolizes the present human situation. All that a consideration of the potentiality of "galactization" of human consciousness adds to that picture is a new and repolarized interpretation of the meaning to be attributed to (1) the Sun; (2) the trans-Saturnian planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto; and (3) the stars.
(1) According to our galactic interpretation, the Sun should be given a twofold meaning. As a Sun, center of a system of planets, it is the source of the basic life energy. I have often spoken of it as symbolizing the particular kind of fuel on which the engine of personality runs — there being at least twelve such kinds of fuel, each represented by the Sun's position in a zodiacal sign, and therefore by the special kind of relationship between the Earth and the Sun at birth.
On the other hand, the Sun considered as a star — one among billions within the Galaxy — symbolizes the characteristic set of possibilities of consciousness and outer activity defining the human kingdom, and the archetype Man. Thus the actual physical relationship of the Earth to the Sun at the moment of birth of a human being symbolically indicates the manner in which this particular newborn organism is attuned to one particular aspect of the entire potential inherent in Man, and reflectively and biopsychically in "human nature." If we were to mention only twelve such aspects of human nature, we would obviously speak in too general terms — which is why the popular Sun-sign astrology has so little validity, especially as it studies only the Sun's position in the zodiac. A finer kind of analysis is required which refers to a more individualized level of human values. The symbols of the 360 degrees of the zodiac, theoretically refer to such a level. I have discussed these symbols and their meaning in my book An Astrological Mandala. The "Sabian" set of symbols which I have reinterpreted may not constitute a final statement concerning the significance of the zodiacal degrees, but at present it is the most significant available — significant not only by its contents, but as well in view of the extraordinary manner in which it was obtained (d. Part 1, Chap. 2: "The Sabian Symbols: Their Origin and Internal Structures").
The symbol of the zodiacal degree on which a person's natal Sun is located gives some indication — ambiguous though it be in many instances — concerning the particular aspect of human nature an individual person would develop if he or she fulfilled his or her innate human potential in tune with the vast overall pattern of the Galaxy in whose activities the Sun participates. In simpler terms, the degree position of the natal Sun refers to the essential purpose of the individual's life, provided one understands the word "purpose" in a sense that transcends the social category of culturally determined purpose.
For the sake of illustration I shall take the birth chart of the great German occultist and philosopher, Rudolph Steiner, a man of many philosophical, occult, educational, and artistic talents, a clairvoyant and the founder of the Anthroposophy Movement. He was born with the Sun at Pisces 9°20'; and the 10th degree of Pisces carries the following symbol and interpretation:
AN AVIATOR PURSUES HIS JOURNEY, FLYING THROUGH GROUND OBSCURING CLOUDS: Man's ability to develop powers and skills which, by transcending natural limitations, allows him to operate in mental-spiritual realms. . . . He does so as an individual in command of powerful energies, but also as heir to the industry of countless innovators and managers . . . . the symbol evokes the achievement of mastery. [An Astrological Mandala, p. 274.]
Such a symbol is certainly befitting, though one should evidently not deduce from it that Steiner was a "Master"! He simply represented the flowering of a long cultural tradition, probably directly or indirectly related to the Rosicrucian Movement.(1)
1. His chart is printed in my book Person-Centered Astrology (Lakemont, Ga.: CSA Press, 1972).
Another example is provided by the birth chart of President Dwight Eisenhower who was born when the Sun was on the 22nd degree of Libra — and only 5 degrees away from Uranus. The interesting degree symbol, as in most cases, should not be interpreted literally, yet it points to a quality which it may have been Eisenhower's function to demonstrate in his very special life.
A CHILD GIVING BIRDS A DRINK AT A FOUNTAIN: The concern of simple souls for the welfare and happiness of less evolved beings who thirst for life-renewal. In this symbol, the connection between "child" and "birds" implies a spontaneous, naive rapport at the spiritual level, a soul-touch at the level of pure feelings. . . .The Keyword: solicitude.
In Alfred Einstein's birth chart the Sun is located on the 24th degree of Pisces, thus symbolized by:
ON A SMALL ISLAND SURROUNDED BY THE VAST EXPANSE OF THE SEA, PEOPLE ARE SEEN LIVING IN CLOSE INTERACTION. Keyword: centralization.
Whatever the symbol meant in Einstein's personal and spiritual life, it is interesting to note that his now officially accepted Theory of Relativity challenged the concept of spatial infinity and led to the picture of "island universes." He centralized many new discoveries and ideas into an integrative concept, and by this he presumably fulfilled his destiny and life purpose.
Very often the symbol not only has to be reinterpreted in relation to the particular life situation; but the individual may not be able to meet in a positive spiritual manner the archetypal task confronting him. The case of Benito Mussolini, the symbol of modern Fascism, is significant if we remember that his fascistic movement was born out of the fear of a newly spreading wave of Communism in Italy after World War I.
A CONSERVATIVE, OLD-FASHIONED LADY IS CONFRONTED BY A "HIPPIE" GIRL: This refers to a collective, cultural, and social crisis which challenges us to realize the relativity of social values.
In this quaint symbol we see a new ideal of existence challenging the old order. Mussolini chose to meet the confrontation by ruthlessly destroying whatever and whoever seemed to proclaim the need for the reform of an obsolete system.
(2) I have stated in previous chapters that Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, while they are in the solar system, are not of it. They represent a three-pronged attempt to lead man's consciousness from a Sun-Saturn, three-dimensional state of relative bondage to the four-dimensional galactic level. I consider such an interpretation of the character and function of the trans-Saturnian planets essential, for it alone enables the astrologer to give a positive and transformative meaning — cathartic though it might be — to a multitude of outer events and inner confrontations which our society, and most psychiatrists and psychologists, are not able to evaluate in a constructive, spirit-oriented light.
Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto symbolize whatever in human life today can help both the majority of individuals, and the various cultures and socio-religious groups still demanding people's unquestioned allegiance, to accept the present crisis (and the impending new ones) as the only means for them of emerging into a wholesome and spiritually oriented state of existence. Even a psychotic episode, or, at the national level, a cataclysmic series of events (whether telluric or man-made) can become the means for radical transformation and spiritual rebirth. But this only happens if at least the main characteristic of the future condition is envisioned, thus becoming a consciously held and longed for ideal toward which man must strive. A profound lassitude and a disgust with present conditions are not sufficient, for these may only precipitate premature and aimlessly disruptive gestures that doom the revolt to futility.
There must be Uranian vision if Neptune and Pluto are to be fully accepted as hierophants leading us to the new life; and without the compassion and broad understanding of interpersonal relationship represented by Neptune, the type of activity symbolized by Pluto tends to be drastic and ruthless, even if intellectually and coldly justifiable under the prevailing conditions. Thus, the manner in which these three galactically polarized planets are related to one another — by aspects, by "Parts", and/or midpoints(2) — should be carefully studied; and this not merely in a strictly analytical manner but in terms of the holistic picture arising from their interrelationships. That picture has to be compared with the one produced by the planets between Saturn and the Sun; the latter being studied in terms of the already-mentioned pairing of complementary planets (Jupiter-Saturn, Venus-Mars, Sun and Moon, and of the potentially transformative, if not cathartic relationships between Uranus and Saturn, Neptune and Jupiter, Pluto and Mars — and also in another sense Pluto and Mercury — two aspects of the mind.
2. The astrological Parts — often called "Arabian" — are indices of the state of the relationship between two celestial bodies moving at different speed when this relationship is referred to the Ascendant or to the other three Angles. The most-used Part is the Part of Fortune, relating the position of the Sun and the Moon to the Ascendant of a person's chart. It is calculated by adding the longitudes of the Moon to that of the Ascendant and subtracting from the sum the Sun's longitude. I have thoroughly discussed the Part in The Lunation Cycle (Berkeley, Ca.: Shambhala Publication). The Parts of Uranus to Neptune and Pluto, and of Neptune to Pluto, can be calculated in the same manner.
The midpoint between two planets simply represent, at least in theory, the zodiacal place at which their activities blend in a most focused manner. They are considered "sensitive points"; and obviously there are many of them, as in theory each pair of planets has two midpoints in opposition to each other.
Especially important in the first stage of the study of a birth chart are the transits of the trans-Saturnian planets over the Sun, the Moon, and the four Angles. These, and the age of the person whose chart is being studied, are matters for primary consideration, together with the age at which "progressed New Moons"(3) and Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions occur — and the natal Houses in which they take place. For instance, the House in which the last conjunction of Uranus and Pluto around Virgo 17° fell can give an important clue to the character taken by the urge for self-transformation (or collective reform and rebirth) in the life of the individual. If this individual was open to change, and consciously or unconsciously did not block a potential transformation, the House in which the conjunction occurred should tell the most significant field — in which this process of partial metamorphosis, or at least of repolarization could have been focused. In the U.S. chart (with mid-Sagittarius rising(4)) this Uranus-Pluto conjunction fell in the ninth House, dealing with expansion, foreign adventure, diplomacy, philosophy, and religion — and 1965-66 were the years in which the Vietnam War became a crucial and transforming issue, and the use of psychedelic drugs polarized the Youth Movement. The conjunction occurred in the first House and close to the Ascendant of our ex-President who for better or for worse — was then planning his 1968 electoral campaign.
3. For a study of the "progressed lunation cycle," see The Lunation Cycle, Chap. 7.
4. Cf. my book The Astrology of America's Destiny. I stressed there the significant fact that Neptune crossed the Mid-Heaven of this U.S. chart when the atomic project was undertaken. Uranus made the same transit when Nixon was elected in 1968; Pluto was at the same degrees during the 1972 Presidential campaign; and Neptune will cross the United States natal Ascendant in 1976 — our Bicentennial and another Presidential campaign.
The Houses in which the long sextile of Neptune and Pluto is taking place — and, in people born around 1900, the House in which the 1891-92 conjunction of these planets occurred — should also be carefully considered, if the individual is truly susceptible of responding to such a global call for reorientation and spiritual, mental rebirth. All such aspects — especially in most cases conjunctions, oppositions, and squares — refer to the potentiality of individual or collective experiences stimulating the process of transformation. In fact, every aspect, transits, or progressions in which the trans-Saturnian planets are involved may produce such a stimulation. In such cases, the astrologer whose consciousness is galactically oriented can intuitively sense the opportunities for transformation coming to himself or his clients; and bringing these openings to the consciousness may offset the usually strong, instinctual, resistance to change. It "may"; but, in many instances, this can also generate fear, if the possible change is seen as a future possibility and thus as a challenge one may not be as yet ready to meet at the time.
Astrology should not be considered a predictive science. The astrologer's task is to help the individual to understand the deeper, more objective, and transformative implications of what is taking place at the time of the consultation — or at most the nature of trends which have already been recognized by the client, but seem not to have been understood for what they could mean if faced in the spirit of spiritual growth.
The fundamental problem for the astrologer is, therefore, how to evaluate his client's ability to react constructively to what is mentioned to him as a possibility or trend upon which he should focus his attention. Extreme care is needed if unwholesome psychological reactions are to be avoided. The essential fact to bear in mind is that whatever Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto may seem separately to indicate — whether as concrete events or trends of personal development — these indications refer to a threefold process that should be seen as a complex whole. What is at stake is the manner in which a human being can best and most significantly travel on the Path of self-transformation. It is one Path, one process. It begins in the darkness of the jungles of this Earth — natural or man-made as these jungles may be — and it ends in the light-consciousness of which our Galaxy is the celestial symbol and factual representation.
(3) If we attempt to give a precise or episodic meaning to what classical astrologers called "fixed stars" we actually have very little on which to base a convincing judgment. A book like Vivian E. Robson's often-quoted The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology (London, 1923) provides us with a collection of data from Hellenistic, medieval, or classical sources upon which it would be not only unwise, but often psychologically dangerous, to rely. Other books like the otherwise valuable Encyclopedia of Astrology by Nicholas de Vore (New York 1947), can be even more destructive in the interpretation of what the stars indicate when they conjunct the Sun, the Moon, and the natal Angles. Sooner or later some "scientific astrologer" will make an exhaustive statistical study of the stars' presumed influence, probably when near the Ascendant and/or the Mid-Heaven; this is likely to produce more problems and unfortunate results when the statistical data — which might be valuable in terms of large groups are used to give advice to individual clients, statistics having no value when applied to individual cases.
Planets have meanings in the solar system because of their hierarchical rank — or, more simply their distances from the central Sun. They also acquire meaning because of their positions in the system relative to us, observers on the Earth — thus, geocentrically; Venus and Mercury being inside, and the others outside, the Earth's orbit. These meanings are archetypal and fundamental; from them a great variety of secondary, tertiary, etc. characteristics can be deduced, referring to superficial features and personal reactions. Unfortunately, as I have already stressed, the interior structure of the Galaxy is mostly unknown. Our traditional knowledge of stars has been geocentric; men noticed their brilliance or their faintness, the geometrical designs (constellations) they formed in the sky. Today, by complex observations and calculations, astronomers are able to deduce their "absolute" luminosity and their relative distances; but we are left with a vast amount of uncertainty. If there is a subgalactic system to which our Sun belongs together with the most brilliant stars we perceive, we do not know its structural organization inside of a space-field whose diameter may measure some 10,000 light-years.
As a star, the Sun evidently is involved in interactions among the stars of our Galaxy. This involvement operates in the galactic dimension of cosmic existence, just as the interrelationship between the planets of our system has meaning in terms of heliocosmic values. Mixing the two levels, galactic and heliocosmic, can only produce confusion, especially when we consider astrology a language in which symbols of different orders are used. On the other hand, we are compelled to accept the possibility that what occurs at the higher, more inclusive level of the galactic whole affects the conditions of existence of the lesser units within it.
We should try to differentiate between star-to-star relationships thus how our Sun as a star is directly affected by its relation to other galactic stars — and the general condition prevailing at any time within the entire field of the Galaxy.
In the first case we are dealing with changes occurring in our Sun, changes transmitted to the Earth's biosphere by solar rays and according to the state of the entire solar and interplanetary field of activity; while in the second case we are considering how anything on this Earth is affected by the overall state of galactic space, a space in which we exist, just as fishes live in the sea. This is similar to the way in which a factory worker is affected not only by the reaction of the owner-manager of the factory to laws and regulations passed by the State and to the policies of his friends or competitors, but by the overall "state of the nation" to which both he and his manager belong — i.e., by the general economic situation (the cost of what he has to buy) and the mores of his society.
In the language of astrological symbolism, the state of the galactic "nation" should be measured and interpreted by taking the galactic plane (also called galactic equator) as a fundamental plane of reference. This galactic plane is easily visualized, since our Galaxy has the shape of an elongated disc with a bulging core. In order to measure the position of stars in the Galaxy in relation to its equatorial plane, we need a starting point. Before 1961, this starting point was where the galactic equator crosses the celestial equator (an extension of the plane of the Earth's equator) in the constellation Aquila; but in 1961, astronomers decided to use a different point, and galactic longitude is now measured eastward from the center of the Galaxy in Sagittarius. One of the reasons for the change was to conform to the position of a ring of hydrogen radio radiation exactly at what is now galactic longitude 0°. Galactic latitude is measured north (positive) and south (negative) of the galactic equator. The four directions of the galactic plane are said to be toward the constellations Cygnus, Carina, Sagittarius, and Auriga, and our Sun is moving in the direction of Cygnus or Hercules, and away from Carina. Moving toward Auriga would be moving toward the rim of the Galaxy; moving toward Sagittarius, toward the galactic center. The Sun, I repeat, is far away from the galactic center, and located on the inner edge of the Orion arm of the Galaxy.
The basic question is: Should a modern astrologer attempting to think in galactic terms, retain the old strictly geocentric and empirical approach to the assumed "influence" of single stars, or is it possible for him to adopt a more holistic and truly galactic approach, interpreting the stars' characters in terms of their position in the Galaxy as well as of their nature and "age" as stars?
It seems evident that we lack sufficient knowledge to follow the second line of approach; we can nevertheless embody a certain amount of logical consistency in our attitude. As long as astrology anywhere in the sky, might have, not on planets of our solar system, but on the consciousness and character of an individual human being living on the surface of our globe and facing his own sky, then, any star to which that individual can relate, consciously or unconsciously, may be worth considering and endowing with meaning. The problem of determining such a meaning remains extremely difficult, and our classical tradition may not be relevant to the state of consciousness and social behavior of a modern individual. One thing, however, seems certain, on the ground of logic and consistency. A star should be endowed with an "influence" only if it is found to rise (at the Ascendant), to culminate at the zenith, and to set in the West — and possibly if it is at the nadir, affecting the root of individual being. This influence should have nothing to do with the character of the zodiacal sign in which it would be placed if its position were reduced to celestial longitude. Neither should Ptolemy's practice of characterizing a star's influence in terms of the nature of two planets be considered valid in theory, even if it may possibly give a vague idea of what the influence might be, if it is felt at all.(5)
5. For more information concerning the traditional classical interpretation of the "fixed stars," see Appendix.
Such an influence need not be felt, and probably is not felt in an individualized manner if a person's mind is not sufficiently evolved to respond consciously to galactic values; yet an individual may become involved in a collective response, for instance as resident in a country or town, or as member of a persecuted race or religious organization — just as it is reasonable to suppose that the Sun, as a star, is affected at all times by the condition of the galactic field in which it moves. This effect is most likely transmitted to the entire solar system, in the form of radiations. These may influence the Earth's climate, producing drought or deluges, ice ages, and perhaps even earthquakes, which in turn may more or less crucially affect the lives of individuals.
I do not feel that our knowledge of such matters is reliable enough to warrant the type of pronouncements that fill astrological textbooks; and I must once more stress the fact that even scientifically reliable statistics would not indicate how a particular individual can be expected to respond to the factor having been statistically studied. If an astrological factor is constructive in 75 per cent of the cases, the individual client confronting the astrologer can always belong to the 25 per cent for whom it may have a destructive or no effect at all. This may seem obvious to any thinking person; yet it appears not to be, judging from the kind of statements one constantly hears in astrological circles.
What — some puzzled readers may ask — is the value of astrology? In my view, it is to help people meet and assess their experience in terms of a more-than-subjective and more-than-personal frame of reference — a holistic frame of reference in which every aspect of the personality, and even life event or transforming experience, finds its most significant Place and function as one particular phase of the lifelong process of growth and actualization of innate potential.
If I did not personally believe in the possibility for astrology to provide this kind of help, I would have had nothing to do with such a field of enquiry; and it could best be left to fortunetellers and entertainers. Predictions referring to the material systems constituted by a very large number of units studied by physicists and chemists are valuable for increasing man's control over a potentially inimical environment and in organizing everyday or even long-term behavior; but predictions relative to psychic-mental and individualized human factors can be not only self-fulfilling; in the long run they unavoidably tend to materialize and mechanize our "image of man." The outer results at first may appear impressive in material terms, yet the eventual outcome is bound to be spiritually blightening. It can also be physically destructive, and mankind today is compelled to face such a possibility.
This is the main issue, and not whether this or that kind of technique, new or hallowed by its antiquity, is more or less productive of results which can be nicely tabulated; that is, whether or not "it works." Just as any national language "works" for the citizens of that nation, whose minds have been trained to think and communicate in terms of the set of symbols and vocal sounds of which the language is made, so any consistent and widely used astrological system and technique can work for the astrologers trained to use it regularly and intelligently. It works for them, because it is the system and technique best attuned to their mentality and to the mentality of the clients they attract.
In the same manner a Freudian psychologist normally attracts men and women for whose problems a Freudian analysis, at least at first, provides the best solution. The solution may produce new problems, which in turn may demand a Jungian or Transpersonal investigation, for man's consciousness is not static. Meeting a difficulty at one level may lead to the challenge of dealing with a higher or deeper level of awareness, and at this level a more meaningful set of disturbances or opportunities for growth may be revealed. The same thing is true with regard to an astrological approach. The popular Sun-sign astrology dispensed by newspaper columns and magazine articles may pave the way, however crudely and ineffectually, to a person's awareness of being "influenced" by extra-personal and super-social factors, and therefore of participating in the rhythm of the universe. It may be a naive awareness, based on most general and — in the way they are formulated — even unsound concepts. But is it not what also happens with established religions, in which the statues of saints or the image of a bearded fatherly God sitting on a throne somewhere in Heaven are being offered for worship? Yet such naive anthropomorphic practices can and do "work" for the person with a total unquestioning faith, and miracles do happen for them. The real question in such cases is not whether the miracles "actually" happen, but whether the happening produces lasting individual growth in consciousness, or leads to a deeper bondage to the level of consciousness which made the mysterious event possible. Statistics as to what percentage of very sick people making a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France are miraculously cured would have no meaning whatsoever, because it is not the physical facts that matter, but the human being's state of consciousness and his or her capacity to become more than he or she was at the start of the process.
Even if it seemed on the outside to be glorious, a strictly ordered civilization of human automatons would be the most tragic failure mankind could experience. Humanity is experiencing today severe and perhaps decisive planet-wide crisis because it is dominated by our Western culture which failed to ask sufficiently basic questions, or rather that gave tragically benumbing materialistic answers to the fundamental ones: What is Man, and what is the meaning of Man's existence? The astrology now being practiced in America and Europe, whether at the fortune-telling or the statistical-scientific level, is the product of a collective mentality whose controlling rationalistic and egocentric patterns originated in ancient Greece and Alexandria, and further crystallized in Rome. The time has come when the classical concepts and procedures should be transformed in response to the emergence of a new spirituality able to repolarize completely and to expand the consciousness of constantly larger groups of human beings becoming aware of new levels of existence and new possibilities of growth as individuals.
It is to them that this book is dedicated. This book is certainly not a definitive statement. It is meant to be a call for reorientation and transcendence, an attempt to evoke as yet unenvisioned possibilities, a challenge to creative understanding. If it speaks of remote planets and far more distant stars, it is because astrology is today more than ever a convenient, because popular, means for the symbolization of man's ability to attune his consciousness and his life to the rhythms of ever-greater realms of existence. If we understand these rhythms and all the implications of a galactic dimension of consciousness in which all forms of existence interpenetrate in unceasing contribution to the supreme harmony of the cosmic Whole, we may then succeed in projecting this understanding upon that aspect of our minds whose work is to build new structures of individual and collective behavior; and mankind at last may emerge from the era of conflicts and frustrations, of hunger and pollution into the age of planetary harmony and plenitude of being.
The Sun is Also a Star