Friday, February 26, 2010
Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think.
– De la Rochefoucauld.
Neither the Sun nor the Moon is a planet. The Sun is a star and the Moon, a satellite of the Earth. Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and its process is communication. Venus, the next planet, rules relating. The Greeks called them Hermes and Aphrodite. Both of them are situated between the Earth and the Sun.
The archetypal Mercury, alas, is reduced visibly today to delivering flowers and his caduceus to the symbol of the medical profession, but his process is ubiquitous in our bodies and the entire world of opposites and connections; above all it introduces the role of comedy and humor. The process points above all to duality, and the symbol of the sign it rules is II, Gemini. A more grounded sign it also rules is Virgo. If one looks carefully at the visible figure, Hermes has a winged helmet to symbolize thought. We have a two-fold brain, a two-fold nervous system, and our thoughts are quicker than his archetypal mimic, Mighty Mouse! His feet are also winged, indicating the speed of thought, and he holds the potent symbol of the caduceus, the staff holding the entwined serpents, topped by a star and a dove by the alchemists. The caduceus seems to bear a prophetic resemblance to DNA and the chakra system. The process also rules the hands and fingers. I remember a time when I was waiting for a delayed train with my ten-year-old daughter Jennifer. We used the time to count the number of ways one could use the hands to communicate! We were up to 75, including waving, saluting, clapping, vowing, pointing, scolding, tootling, etc., and had we included the hand signing for the deaf … well, you get the idea!
In the outer world, the process appears above all in the written word in all its forms and, you might not realize that writing was invented during the Age of Gemini, appearing in Egypt as hieroglyphics and Sumeria as cuneiform, and history began! History enables one generation to communicate with another. However, Mercury does not rule such recent things as the Internet, nor does Venus rule television. These are ruled by the higher octaves of Uranus and Neptune, discovered only two centuries ago.
In mythology, the oldest story, the Epic of Gilgamesh, recounts the dramatic taming of a wild man, Enkidu, the evolving friendship of the hero Gilgamesh, and their adventures, and points to the tragic ending of the realization that death awaits us all. When we read this together in a ninth-grade class, some of my students were in tears! Many of the motifs in the Epic are repeated in the Hebrew Torah and Genesis in the Old Testament. Abraham came originally from Sumeria.
What this pair of friends starts is the motif of the archetypal “twins” of buddies in human culture. My Dictionary of Mythology has at least three pages of them! Castor and Pollux, David and Jonathan, Balim and Balor, Roland and Oliver, down to Max and Moritz, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, et al! These latter also point also to the role of humor, of comedy, jokes, puns, and even punctuation marks. Take the sentence Lydia is a good woman. Then contrast it with Lydia is a “good” woman. Note the “ ” are wee Geminis!
The metals associated with the original group are telling: Sun/gold; Moon/Silver; Venus/copper; Jupiter/tin; and Saturn/lead. Only Mercury is mercury, not only not a solid nor a liquid but also a toxin. To identify with intellect alone can be toxic, indeed. I think I have already shared the only time I dreamt anything in Latin. It was Descartes’ Cogito ergo sum, but the dream added ergo scio Deus est! I think therefore I am, says he, and I am told therefore I [can] know that God is! I woke up stunned and asked Walter to write it down, which he kindly did.
So Mercury alone is in the middle, connecting them all. He is both asexual and hermaphroditic. As a positive archetype, uniting the opposites, making two into one – the zipper going up! – he is the psychopomp (love that word!) or Leader of Souls, but going down, making two out of one, he is the Trickster or worse, the Devil. Even today, cartoons convey this archetype as wickedly humorous, with horns and tail, a corruption perhaps of Pan. I remember looking forward, as a child, to his appearance in the puppet show in the park in Paris. In the Middle Ages, his antics seemed to prove that the harder he tried to be bad, his actions turned out to be good in the end. His favorite word was ‘No!” as Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust tells us point blank: Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint. “I am the Spirit that ever denies!” (Perhaps he was a Republican!) He also bemoans when asked who he is, by replying: Ein Teil von jener Krafft die stets das Boese will und stets das Gute schafft. “I am part of that force that always wills evil, and yet ends up creating good!”
In my The Beejum Book, Lonesome, the rabbit guide, is always given to saying “now and then,” “up and down,” “here and there.” Mercury is familiar in many contemporary figures such as the Roadrunner, Wiley Coyote and their equivalent; he is a fixture in every culture’s mythology: the Norse Loki, the Hindu Ganesh, even Til Eulenspiegel is a German archetype.
For heavy duty evil, we look to Pluto/Hades, yet both names in Latin and Greek mean “riches.” This is the wealth implicit in the alchemical nigredo, the black shit, as it were, that like manure in time can fertilize growth on many different levels.
We have witnessed just recently the morality play of the golfer Tiger Woods as a Prodigal Son. Whatever you may think, I truly believe his remorse is genuine.
Dorothy L. Sayers, the detective story writer, was also an Oxford Inkling and friend of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and that group. Few realize that she was also a theologian, and a Gemini, to boot! She authored one of my favorite quotes:
The fires of hell are the flames of God’s love rejected.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The Sun and the Moon form a hierosgamos, as Jung would call it, a sacred marriage: the archetypes of the King and the Queen in alchemy and fairy tales. Why, is a lengthy subject! The Sun is a star and the Moon is a satellite of the Earth, reflecting the Sun’s light differently every minute as it rotates the Earth every mo(o)nth. The Sun is static, as it centers the solar system, but the Moon is in constant motion; the number associated with the Sun is 12 but there are 13 lunations in a year. So the Moon kicks the wheel, as it were, and keeps things happening as it reflects the light of Spirit into our every moment. The ancient Sumerians already noticed the relationship of women’s periods every month and so assumed that the Goddess was resting during the dark of the Moon. Cramps? But they also observed the four stations of its light and came up with the idea of weeks of seven days, which we observe to this day.
The Moon’s physical impact upon the Earth is incredible. Not only the impact on the tides, but on liquids everywhere, including our bodies. Studies have been made that a wee tide can be observed in a cup of tea, that the city of Moscow rises and falls an inch or two, that sap in trees rises at its behest, that the green of vegetables responds to a waxing moon and root vegetables to a waning one. Posts are better set on a waning moon, bamboo knots at full moon, and most human contracts signed at the dead of the moon (12 hours before a new moon) come to nothing. All this was considered old wives’ tales, but science and many farmers know the reality. Years ago, Russian soldiers would play a trick on their buddies by leaving their steel (not stainless steel) razors on the windowsill at full moon, dulling them. There are volumes of further examples.
Psychologically and astrologically, the Moon is logically our Ego, acting as the matrix of consciousness. This may be a matter of dispute today, but my diagram (see CREDO XCVII) proves what the Kabbalists and such great astrologers as Dane Rudhyar and others agree upon.
Identification with the Ego is the huge problem of our time. Our inner Sun is the individual wick holding the flame of our Divine Guest, which is the same flame shining through the personal lamps of our psyches, but when we identify with our Ego, we think that’s all we are. After all, the Self lies in the Unconscious. Jung said that the longest journey most of us make is from the consciousness of the head to the heart, where only Love can approach the mystery.
The Moon spends about 2½ days in each sign, and in our charts it progresses every 2½ years and maintains a time relationship with the transiting of Saturn around the zodiac, so life comes in at least three stages if lived to the full. At 87, I am almost there!
Simply summarized, the first 28 yrs seem to be spent picking up the karma or lessons learned or yet to be learned. Our childhood seems to make us choiceless recipients of parents, siblings, neighbors, schools, and environment. However, by age 7, there is a shift in individual consciousness, and there are rituals in various cultures to mark this. In Hinduism, boys are given a red string to wear, signifying a shift from the mother’s influence to that of the father. Roman Catholics offer Confirmation rituals at that age. At 14, or whenever the individual Moon opposes its natal place, a girl is likely to have had her first period and a boy’s voice changes, and both acquire the characteristics of adolescence: pubic hair, breasts in girls, muscular growth in boys. Psychologically, esoteric teaching has it that we acquire another sheath in our aura. The “tomboy” in girls vanishes and they become more emotional and vulnerable, and often frictions occur among them; boys become more rebellious and form teams or gangs, or undergo ceremonies of joining their tribes, as among natives or more formally the celebration of a Bar Mitzvah. The underlying premise is that the adolescent is readying himself to become an independent, responsible adult. Jung adds the important concept that the inner feminine in a boy becomes his anima and the masculine in a girl becomes her animus. These, in turn, get projected out onto the opposite sex with varying amount of intensity and form the stuff of human comedy or tragedy according to which scenario adults knowingly observe. I was a classic tomboy myself who underwent such a transformation, projecting, I seem to remember, a serious passion for an actor in Mutiny on the Bounty in 1936, whose name I think was Franchot Tone! These are broad strokes, but I am also convinced that the genuine suffering some children go through over a broken doll or toy may well be a reliving of a memory of some poignant loss as an adult in a former life! Who knows? As you read this page, you probably think of all the exceptions, and collectively there are indeed so many shifts in history, but the physical realities persist: Women act out their clock far more visibly than men, especially as they age. It is harder for men, yet old men visibly soften and old ladies often grow random whiskers.
Today, we accept the reality of the gay issue, which has always been part of humanity. Think of Sappho of Lesbos, and realize that in ancient Greece gay warriors were welcomed into the military, because of their fierce desire to protect their lover!
The second 28-year cycle comes with Saturn’s first return. It dawns on us that we are mortal! If our karma was metaphorically to eat boiled eggs and we didn’t do that the first round, we now get them scrambled or poached, but it’s still “eggs” on another level! Here we become the true heroes or heroines of our lives, going to work, starting families, dwelling away from our parents, acquiring, above all, new experiences, and usually identifying with our Ego, until at some point we begin to think that life is just “one damn thing after another,” and finally we may experience an emotional crisis that forces us to look inward to seek that center of Self, which, don’t forget, dwells elusively in the Unconscious. If you remember the diagram, the Ego is on the circumference, going around in circles, searching (and both of those words come from the Latin circare, meaning to circle). But we look and hopefully find the radius of “the Only Way” of Hagia Sophia, the feminine gift of Spiritual Wisdom, which is also full of joy. All cultures speak of Wisdom as feminine. There is a whole chapter in The Dove in the Stone devoted to her many other names. Only the Roman Catholic Church translated Sophia into spiritus sanctus, a masculine noun (!) that made all the referring pronouns of the Trinity male. I rest my case. The Greek and Russian Orthodox did not agree! The Dove is the only visible symbol in Catholicism pointing to the feminine, all of which Jung has written about.
The third 28-year cycle is the most important of all! If you think of the first in terms of an apple tree blossoming, the second the long summer of green apples, the third is the ripening of the fruit and the apples falling to the ground – the gift to the future of others. You can understand why Jung felt old age the most important one of all. The idea of people retiring and playing shuffleboard, or being put away in rest homes, etc., seemed to him a tragic waste. Unfortunately, today we have the specter of Alzheimer’s and dementia on an unforeseen scale. I, myself, thanks to a horrifying toxic reaction to doxxycycline last summer was paralyzed briefly, and aged almost 10 years in three months! plus other stressful matters, facial shingles, hip displaced, computer crash among them! Now I have a bad case of forgetting names!! This, combined with lack of use of right hand and ongoing paresthesia for 13 years, makes every day a challenge. But I am blessed with help on many levels and so am able to continue so far with these CREDOS …
Jane Wheelwright, Jungian analyst, wrote a short book on the animus in aging women. She pointed out that when it becomes extraverted it enables the woman to give of herself to others and the collective, but, if not, the woman may become a dominating matriarch or worse, a complainer and a burden to others. I am struck by the number of Jungians alive today, living to the full as they age. In the past three decades, we had the privilege of meeting analysts James Kirsch and Werner Engel in their nineties, Margit van Leight-Frank, Edith Wallace, and the dear man who lived to be 100, James Henderson. The other profession I might mention is that of symphony conductors. It must be the power of music filling them with good vibrations!
Forgive my rambling, but as I am 87 now, I have been blessed by meeting so many wonderful people and going to so many places in the world, I feel such gratitude! My grandma King was born in 1854! and when I was 16, I met Emilie Bardach in Switzerland, who was the last love of Henrik Ibsen! I have also been “one touch away” from so many great souls.
When I lectured to 1200 people at the ITA Conference in Davos, Walter and I sat out later under a pine tree to picnic. Marie-Louise von Franz passed and bowed under the branches and without a word kissed my cheek and walked on!
I truly have been blessed!
Monday, February 1, 2010
As the Sun shines upon my heart, so may my heart shine upon others! – The Upanishads
One Sunday in 1945 I was sitting on the fire escape outside of my flat in Greenwich Village, and I had an epiphany. The Sun shines and it didn’t have to! What started existence in the first place??? What makes a YES! necessary before a “no!” can come to deny it. There has to be something to deny … This may sound crazy but it took my breath away. This then was the essence of that mystery word FIAT! This was also before I studied Astrology and eventually began to understand it as a symbolic language of archetypal processes.
With that in mind, stop and think about the Sun in the Solar System. 1) It is the only star; 2) it actively gives out light, heat, and life; 3) the circumambulating planets are receptive and reflect that one light in different ways; 4) its astrological glyph is a circle with a dot in the middle; this glyph you find is also used for gold, which never tarnishes (aha!); 5) it is associated with the greatest value; 6) in the body, it rules the heart and when the heart stops, we leave that body for a return to a greater life; 7) it rules the spine and the right eye in men, the left in women; 8) in mathematics it rules One which is in every number and 12 as in the Zodiac, the Constellations, the Tribes of Israel, the disciples of Christ. (For many more, see my The Web in the Sea); 9) in geometry, it rules the point and the circle; the sphere and the dodecahedron. It is hidden in every atom as energy!
1) In alchemy it is the goal of transformation of lead (Saturn) to gold but non aurae vulgaris, not “ordinary” gold. Think Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice! 2) In the Rosarium at the end is the picture of the Sun looking to the right as if acknowledging a greater invisible Source. 3) In Jungian psychology, it represents the goal of individuation which I, personally, see as the “Divine Guest” that lights every wick of the individual Self. The flames of that “fire” are all the same flame! 4) In myths and fairy tales it rules kings, royalty, solar heroes (think Joseph Campbell) avatars, Leo as lion king, fathers, emperors, figures of power and authority, chiefs, and, collectively, monarchies and governments, CEOs. A common mythical theme is the country ruled by an usurping King (ego) and the country is in bad shape!
Given the fact that if the Sun were to go out, it would take only 8 minutes for us to find out(!), it is not unreasonable for people to have been Sun worshippers for it is a visible testimony to the source of our being. The Roman Sol Invictus is an example.
Nowhere is the current split between science and religion more evident than in the scientific, astronomical attitude towards this heavenly center! By science’s self-limiting definition, it cannot allow itself to speak of the word Love! And yet on another level that is the mystical truth our Sun gives proof of.
God is making love in your heartbeat twenty-four hours a day! as Dadaji pointed out. For anyone questioning the existence of God, keep in mind that the best we can do is what Jung spoke of as the imago Dei or our personal image, which varies according to our current experience. For me, as I expressed in my very first CREDO, the only way I can approach the matter is I feel it as a “vast certainty.” “The Tao that can be defined is not the Tao.”
That there are many different kinds of Love is obvious: Eros – physical; philia – brotherly; agape – transpersonal.
The Hindus take it for granted that there are different ways we approach the matter of relating to God: 1) as father to son; 2) son to father; 3) friend to friend; 4) mother to child; 5) Beloved to Beloved!
All the archetypal processes have negative aspects in common: weakness, excess, or Shadow. In the case of the sun in its symbolic role in human nature (notice lower case!) in the chart or psychological expression, weakness denotes an obscuring of the light, as in a dirty glass lantern; the result is cowardice, Mr. Milquetoast, lack of self-confidence. Excess on the other hand, results in a bombastic nature, a Know-it-all, a show-off or a tyrant. Hidden in all three is hubris, pride, the conviction that “I am the doer.” The Shadow is pride; Satan is a fallen Angel.
I have written the true story of the thirteen-year-old boy who, influenced by his religious studies at school, came home determined to be a saint. He gave up his bed, slept on a mat, became a vegetarian, got a summer job requiring long bike rides in the heat. He was obedient to his father, helpful to his mother, and patient with his pesky sisters. About a week later, his mother got up in the night to go to the bathroom, passed his door, and heard sobbing. She knocked, entered, and found him pounding the floor and crying, “It’s not FAIR! It’s not FAIR!” He explained further, “I’ve tried to be good and now I’ve fallen into the greatest sin of all! I think I’m better than other people!!!” The mother tried to comfort him, but when she returned to bed she was puzzled as to how to help him. She prayed for an answer, and, in a way, her reading Jung might have helped.
The next morning, she had to change the empty paper towel rack. As she took out the cardboard tube, the light shone through it. She had the answer! She stuffed one end with a tissue and told her son to look through it. “Duh!” said the boy. Then she whipped out the tissue and told him to look again, “Duh!” Then she explained, “The light comes through the tube not out of it!” I may have told how this helped me myself when dealing with applause, at lectures – you just send it back up the tube to your inner Sun, the Divine Guest.
I may have told this story before, but it later entailed a synchronicity. A group of friends that have met monthly at our home for over twenty years for discussions wanted to give me a birthday surprise. Each came with a written tribute and began reading them, After about four, I grinned and told them the story above. As I was telling it, my daughter Beth walked in with an empty paper-towel tube and threw it on the burning fire!!! She is unable to attend because she has to go early to her job, so her appearance alone was a surprise. Believe me, I now keep such a tube in my study as a teaching prop to this day!
So as each of us has an individual centerpoint or wick of Self, the flame of the inner Sun is the Divine Guest who is waiting to be recognized consciously as bringing Love as well as Life to your heart!