Friday, April 30, 2010
Watch a rerun of the movie Gone with the Wind. The actors are all gone, yet they are still visible. Take a glass of water and pour a teaspoon of salt into it. The salt disappears but is still there. This is the essence of Neptune’s processes: illusion and dissolution! Neptune offers an alternate level of reality. The thing to remember is that unlike Uranus, which is a higher level of Mercury’s communication, Neptune’s process involves images or imagination. As the higher octave of Venus, its impact is basically only transiently visual.
As I hinted in the previous CREDO on Uranus, Neptune is the companion and opposite of Uranus. Neptune was discovered by two German astronomers in 1846. After much observation of its historical impact, it has come to be viewed as ruling the yin process of dissolving, in contrast to the active yang of Uranus.
At the mid-40s of the nineteenth century, the Romantic Movement was in full bloom in the Western world. The visual arts, which heretofore had always been clearly defined, gave way its borders to loose and shaded swaths of color, giving permission to such great artists as Cezanne and Monet; music, which had always had clear standard rhythms, surrendered to such as Debussy; literature gave us Goethe and Schiller, Blake, Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley. Coleridge’s lines In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree: where Alph the sacred river ran . . . were written under the influence of drugs, which are ruled by Neptune.
Goethe’s The Sorrows of Werther, a tragic romantic bestseller, was the first book to be hailed worldwide. As evidence for that, my own ancestor, sea captain Thomas Holden, brought back from China six framed illustrations of it, hand painted on glass. These required painting the eyebrows before the face, requiring enormous skill, and the features have a slightly Chinese cast. This was the period of Die blaue Blume, the blue flower, a name given the Romantic Movement. America became a contributor as well with Poe, Melville, Emily Dickinson, and of course the Concord Transcendentalists Emerson, Thoreau, and Bronson Alcott. I hope you get the idea of the “spirit shift” that took place. A kind of early globalism was afoot, as the first translations of Hindu philosophy had finally reached Germany.
In science, the Curies discovered radium. Ether was found to help in pain-free operations, and idealism of all kinds, led to the Civil War and the abolishing of slavery, and one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln.
There is not room here to add the equivalent shift in Russia, but just think of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky!
The end of that century gave us Freud, Adler, and Jung and the discovery of the inner psyche, which has been likened to the outer process of the discovery of the interior of the continent of Africa. One could say that globally and culturally speaking, the nineteenth century was one of the most significant in history.
If Uranus rules occultism, Neptune rules mysticism. The impact of the Eastern religions began to impact the West, and for the first time in centuries women teachers outside of the church began to be known – Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Movement; Mary Baker Eddy founded Christian Science in Boston. She came first to my great-grandfather John Wilson of the University Press in Cambridge with her manuscript of Science and Health, which he published. The list of shifts in the collective is endless!
The main essence of Neptune is actually the shifting of consciousness, but this leads us, alas, also to many negative aspects of Neptune: drugs of all kinds, including alcohol, leading to escapism. To quote William James, “Alcohol is the poor man’s search for mysticism.” These drugs are still with us.
In the twentieth century, Dr. Stanislav Grof’s work with LSD has led to holotropic breathing, which alters states of consciousness. This I witnessed personally when I was teaching at Esalen. A group of South American doctors hyperventilated to music and within minutes were having visions of past lives!
Neptune rules transient images, from dreams to the ersatz reality of movies, of television, and the inner ersatz provided by cocaine, meth, or fumes of glue. Yes, even perfume is ruled by Neptune, as are oil, gas, fog, clouds, and the faculty of imagination per se. Add to the list psychics, ghosts, photography, oceans, poetry, dance, music, and best of all, yoga and meditation.
The most profound contribution is our growing awareness of the esoteric side of all the exoteric religions, called mysticism. For Islam, it is Sufism; for Judaism, the Kabbala; for Hindus, Vedanta; for Christians, the emerging Inner Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church, with its rejection of married priests (stay tuned!) nevertheless has had its great share of mystic saints and visionaries, such as St. Francis and St. Teresa; the latest perhaps Teilhard de Chardin, in particular. His work, however, remained unpublished or unaccepted until after his death!
Even our sense of time passing is Neptunian. It is a paradox because it is always NOW! Neptune’s process, of course, has always been with us, but now we recognize it: Neptune is the ruler of Pisces and the entire Age known as the Christian Era, now coming to a close. It ushered in Jesus Christ, and his life of love and suffering death gave a complete reversal to the preceding Age of Aries, with its psychological coming of the Ego. The difficult message is that the human Ego as center of consciousness is needed to point to the Christ Within or atman, the Jungian Self, but must learn to surrender to it. All these proper names are just labels, and we should remember that they hide archetypes with many other names. Mystics know, experience, and love. Tolerance and interfaith is natural to them.
In the past, Dionysus, Bacchus, the worldwide ecstatic dances, past and present, Woodstock included, the contemporary power of singers to mesmerize crowds – all these are Neptunian, as is idealism and the concept of agape or transpersonal love, compassion, personal acts of random kindness. Spiritual gatherings, prayer groups, the many study centers all over the world fostering inner growth, all have Neptune in common. Today, it almost seems that to be spiritual is more meaningful than to be religious. The only difference seems to be that the strict dogma and dos and don’ts of religion are being rejected as hampering genuine individual growth. We seem to witness this in the drama of Fundamentalism of all stripes digging in and resisting the inevitable coming of the shift to individual responsibility to the collective!
We need to realize that a new Aquarian commandment is emerging:
LOVE THY NEIGHBORS THEY ARE YOURSELF!
Having no DSL, I am unable to participate in Facebook, Twitter, and the like, let alone texting or iPods, but the downside of these might be that a great part of a whole generation is living by choice in a Neptunian world of alternate reality and that the four natural elements of Nature will be required to bring us back to the significance, as Jung points out, of In-carn-ation, coming into the gift and privilege of flesh and blood in a material life. The recent volcanic eruption, the earthquakes, floods, fires, and tornados seem to suggest this. As I was writing this, Neptune’s fury is being expressed in the dangerous explosion and catastrophic oil spill threatening our whole Gulf Coast!
Now that I am facing my departure from my painful wreck of a body at 87, I am only too keenly aware. Not yet! I pray, I still have more CREDOS to come!
PS, I feel a need to apologize for trying to express too much in too little space. Please forgive this! I just hope that you can catch one seed of thought and nurture its meaning so it can flower in your own soul!
Friday, April 23, 2010
The Precession of the Equinoxes is very complicated to explain. Basically, the 12 constellations of the sidereal Zodiac, the great ellipse of the visible stars discovered by Hipparchus in the second century BC, occupy varying arcs of space. The Point of the Vernal Equinox is determined by the moment the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, the projection of the Earth’s equatorial plane onto the celestial sphere of the Zodiac. At that instant, the Sun, obviously, is in the Zodiacal plane, and if you draw a line like a clock hand from the Earth through the Sun it will intersect the Zodiac at the Point of the Vernal Equinox. However, this Point is not fixed; due to the Precession of the Equinoxes, it transits backward through the constellations of the Zodiac at the rate of 1 degree every 72 years. This backward movement, indicated by the word precession, is caused because the pole of the Earth, the axis of rotation, does not stay in a fixed orientation, but moves slowly in a circle, taking about 26,000 years, Plato’s Great Year, to complete the circle. At the beginning of the Age of Aries, which was arbitrarily set by Hipparchus and has created much confusion, the Point of the Vernal Equinox was at 0 deg. of the constellation Aries, but due to the Precession of the Equinoxes it currently has almost finished moving through Pisces and is approaching Aquarius. So the “dawning” effect comes as it crosses the interface and approaches the first star in Aquarius, rumored to be in 2012! Phew!
Thus, in a way, the discovery of Uranus could mark the real dawning of the “New Age” of Aquarius, the Age of the Common Man. This happened in the year 1781, and a German musician called Wilhelm Herschel was playing the oboe in an orchestra in Bath, England. He was an amateur astronomer who built his own telescope. One night, he thought he might have discovered a new planet, and he must have exclaimed “Ach, Du lieber!” He communicated this to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and they checked it out and must have exclaimed, “By gum, he’s right!” There was no religious conflict whatever, just enlightened science.
It would seem, however, that we don’t discover new planets until the collective consciousness of mankind is ready to deal with its process. Everything about Uranus is contrary, even its moons. Its slogan could be Why not? Its discovery coincided historically with not only the American and the French Revolutions but also the Industrial Revolution, the end results of which were not only to overthrow monarchies in favor of democracy but, in time, to free millions of women from hours and hours of housework and enable them to pursue their intellectual and artistic interests, something hitherto only the wealthy could afford! We should be grateful. Just think of the slogan of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity! All are Aquarian concepts, and Uranus rules Aquarius. (Previously, it was ruled by Saturn, which was thought to rule both Capricorn and Aquarius.)
This period was the time of the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, the founding of what was to become the United States of America and the republic of France. It should be noted however that the oldest modern democracy was that of Iceland in 930, with its Althing or representative governing body, followed by Switzerland on August 1, in 1291. The ancient Greeks, of course, had the idea first, only to be subsumed by Alexander the Great’s empire.
Herschel wanted to name the new planet after King George the Third, but then it was suggested that the planet be called Herschel. However, it seems, he demurred. Somehow, the sequence of Roman gods ending in Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Herschel didn’t seem fitting! To this day, though, in India, the name Herschel is mentioned. Oddly, the glyph for the planet resembles both an H and the early television antennas, and television broadcasts are ruled by Uranus! The images, though, are ruled by Neptune.
Uranus soon became the ruler of the sign Aquarius, the symbol for which is the double row of waves, which suddenly makes sense as invisible waves of energy. Electricity, telegraph, telephone, radio, today’s texting, and all such communication are ruled by Uranus, as the higher octave of Mercury.
Some astrologers feel that Prometheus would have been a better choice of name, because the nature of the Greek god Ouranos was of the older generation of gods. He was the sky god, whose wife was Gaea, the earth goddess. Prometheus was the god who brought fire to mankind.
Uranus has a positive, yang, nature. It rules the occult. The next planet out is Neptune, which has a receptive, yin, nature. It rules mysticism.
Parents of children in whose charts Uranus is prominent should be aware of this. I myself have Aquarius rising and Uranus (fortunately intercepted in the first house, which internalizes its process), so, as a child, I would instinctively do the opposite of what I was told to do! My mother caught on, and got around this by daring me to do things. “Of course, you couldn’t pack your suitcase in time for us to leave . . .” I showed her! When she wanted me to read a book, she would hide it, and I would find it myself, and so forth. I drove my beloved husband Walter nuts trying to follow his directions in backing a car into a tight space. On the other hand, Uranus rules intuition and may account for a few insights. Needless to say, it rules astrology.
Everything going on in the world today points to Uranus: space exploration, technology, Facebook, Twitter, texting, sex without emotional involvement, globalization. The new direction seems to be that everybody is going to discover they are everybody! As the Age of Aquarius looms, we need to heed what Mother Theresa put in a nutshell. She said: I believe in person to person and that God is in everyone.
The opposite sign to Aquarius is Leo. Aquarius is an air sign, transpersonal, intellectual, unemotional, so the fire sign Leo is the balance offered by ‘person to person’ and the importance of Love! I am amused when I put money in the tollbooth and the green light flashes Thank You! or when people, such as myself, sign off with love on a computer, though I mean it! Social Security checks can arrive in an envelope but there is no love in it. All this is Aquarian. This is the Shadow of the coming Age: the lack of Love. Our architecture demonstrates it. Windows in skyscrapers don’t open, air conditioners can then circulate disease, etc. We cheat nature with plastic but are conquering outer space. Children are glued to texting rather than meeting and socializing.
Years ago I had an Aquarian friend who was writing a book on the seven mysteries of life but forgot to water his horse, and it died of thirst!
The potential healing, I trust, lies in the squaring earth sign of Taurus. The Green Movement, with its wind propellers for energy, the solar roofs, and attempts at organic rather processed foods, hopefully also will generate a greater reverence for nature, life, and love. Not a return as such but another spiraling into the appreciation of meaning in life. I cannot do better than to again recommend the book by the atomic physicist Gerald L. Schroeder, The Hidden Face of God, which in exploring the subatomic world (Uranus/Aquarius) ends up, without a word of preaching, in proving the undeniable existence (Sun/Leo) of Spirit.
Lovingly, a Scorpio with Aquarius rising,
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I had a visit recently from a well-known Christian theologian and scholar, a dear friend, and I happened to mention the repetition of motifs between the Old and the New Testaments, in the Bible. For instance, the three sons of Noah: Ham for the Hamites, the blacks; Shem, the Semites, for the Jews; and Japheth, the Japhethites for the rest of us. (The yellow and red folks were not yet encountered.)
These were obviously eponyms, as are the Three Magi or Kings or Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, who come to Bethlehem to present the newborn Jesus with gifts of myrrh, frankincense, and gold. Both groups represent humanity symbolically.
Even more remarkable is the Old Testament coincidence of the vision of Ezekiel I:10 mentioning the sequence of the man, the lion, the ox, and the eagle. These happen to be the astrological icons of the four fixed signs and their elements: air, Aquarius (man); fire, Leo (lion); earth, Taurus (ox, bull); and water, Scorpio (eagle). In the wheel of the zodiac, these four signs form the fixed cross of those four elements. These are repeated in the cardinal and mutable quaternities, making up the twelve signs of the zodiac. Each of these four is expressed through one of the three modalities (cardinal, mutable, or fixed) of each element, like the Hindu gunas. Water, for instance, can be fixed ice, mutable liquid, or cardinal vapor. Jung, himself, puzzled over the symbolic import of three and four. Astrology holds that answer for me. Three answers the question HOW? Four answers the question WHAT? Four is the number of the manifest world. Squares and cubes can be measured.
At this point, it should be noted that having only four elements, when today there are over a hundred, was not a sign of ignorance but a description of profound archetypal and symbolic process, as today in Jung’s four functions.
In the New Testament, they reappear as the icons for the four Gospels!
Matthew – Aquarius (man), air; the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Mark – Leon (lion), fire; the actions of Jesus Christ.
Luke – Taurus (bull), earth; the natural earthly life of Jesus Christ.
John – Scorpio (eagle), water; the mystical, esoteric aspect of Jesus Christ.
Those of you familiar with art will recognize these icons in medieval manuscripts, and if you have been to Venice, you will have seen St. Mark’s Cathedral and the raised statue of the lion.
Marie-Louise von Franz pointed out that in medieval monasteries the monks would meditate and discuss certain parables and sayings of Jesus from each of these four points of view. My own CREDO LX, “The Global Return of the Prodigal Son,” is an example, come to think of it, of applying the motif politically.
Jung’s Four Functions of the psyche follow the same pattern:
Intuition – water, the direct, nonrational expression of Self,
Sensation – earth, the practical expression
Thinking – air, the intellectual expression
Feeling – fire, the personal opinion expression
We must remember that we each have all four functions, but one tends to dominate and acts as the superior one, while the inferior one may operate even unconsciously.
Once, in a workshop, I put a china cup in the middle of the circled group. I asked them to write down their observations in single words. They had three minutes, and I used a stopwatch. The results were astonishing! The sensation people described its composition and uses, the thinking people, its origins and symbolic references. The feeling people described their personal opinion of its aesthetic qualities, positive or negative, but the intuitives, without exception, wrote down words that when read out could not by themselves conjure up a cup!!
I even humorously would assign the four elements to biographies of Jung: M-L von Franz’s intellectual Jung: His Myth in Our Time – air; Barbara Hannah’s earthy Jung: His Life and Work; Laurens van der Post’s mystical Jung and the Story of Our Time – water; and Deirdre Bair’s comprehensive book outlining his life’s actions, Jung, a Biography – fire. There are now many biographies, but each will fall into one of these categories, depending on the superior and auxiliary functions of the author.
Phew! That’s more than enough and I hope not too much!