Today most astrologers use the art as a simple divination system to help discern a person's character or to foretell events. Astrology has always been put to such uses and will continue to be so because it is a very versatile means of divination. However, astrologers who never look beyond that miss out on the fundamental richness of the tradition - a tradition that originally was developed to help people in their search for meaning in their lives and ultimately to discover connection with their source. In the author's experience few astrological schools continue the tradition of what may be called spiritual development. They certainly teach very well the methods and techniques of divination, but have little connection with the old tradition of knowledge inherent in astrology.
The Astrological Society has a school of astrology which teaches the path of development by techniques handed down by our forebears. This is not to say that the teaching is all in archaic language better suited to a bygone age. It is in modern terms with a traditional foundation. The basic approach of the esoteric school of astrology is that there is a common source for all things and that the way a human being consciously connects with this source is by a three-fold system of development. In astrological terms these three approaches are the cardinal the fixed and the mutable. That is, the approach of understanding based on observation of the world, that of pure knowledge based on direct experience and the mutable, that of the development of being (power) based on meditation. These three add up to a balanced and complete approach to the one source.
The three can be said to be the manner in which the growth of an individual occurs but the question must be asked "What is it that actually grows ?" Astrology answers this question with the four elemental substances i.e. Earth Water Fire and Air. That is there are four levels of materiality in the human being. The earth level is called the physical body, water the Sidereal body, fire the Galactic body and air the Universal body. These four have been described as the physical, psychological, spiritual and divine bodies. They all represent a level of organisation of consciousness. To illustrate this let us take The Sidereal Body. Sidereal simply means starry and therefore the astrological connection with the psychological world is through the world of a star or as we know it - a solar system. Since we live on this particular Earth and are a product of this sun's system, it will be our starting point.
As can be seen from the diagram the planets are laid out in their order from the Sun with the asteroid belt in the centre, signified by the Greek letter Psi. It will be seen that the Sun and Pluto, instead of being at the extremes of the solar system, have been placed so that they divide the Sidereal body into three parts. The planets with the signs and houses form the major elements of the horoscope. The Sidereal body shows how the planets operate in a psychological manner as essential functions or organs of the psyche. The astrological signs and houses show how these functions express themselves and how they manifest in the world.
In the diagram are four connections or pairings. These show how conscious functions are mirrored by subconscious functions and that the emotional world within is a mediator of these interactions. It is the Sun and Pluto which integrate and protect the integrity of the whole. The first pair to consider is Mars-Jupiter. Their operation is first seen in the womb. They describe the production of a new individual human psyche through - Jupiter(one cell becomes two then four then eight etc) cell multiplication while Mars operates as cell differentiation that makes one cell a nerve while another becomes a bone cell. As this process goes on and a new human being is formed, there comes a point when this situation has to change radically - birth. Here the Sun and Pluto come into play. The new individual is signified by the Sun (individual essence) and the process of transformation from the womb into a completely different world by Pluto. Pluto represents all major transformations in our lives, while the Sun represents our individual essence, which comes into being at birth. Immediately the child is born it begins to interact with the world via the processes of Earth-Moon. That is, the basic instincts to suck grasp and register irritation are the beginning of personality. The personality is a large mass of interactive life-skills which enable us to deal with the external world. The principle of Saturn also begins to operate at the same time. This is the repository of all basic judgements and understandings of the world. Out of this is born a deep level of conditioning we call world-view. This is the level where right from the beginning of life we start to construct the world from its elements - from simple things such as up and down, left and right, backwards and forwards, to cultural understanding about right and wrong. These aspects of Saturn are internalised at a very deep level.
At the same time as the above processes are developing an energy system composed of Uranus and Venus is forming. Uranus is drive, will, creativity - that spark in people which no circumstance can quench and is only shut off by death. This spark is the creator of all the energy in the system. The energy is used by Venus, the perpetuator and formed into feeling. passion, enthusiasm - impelling action and driving the system. Next comes Mercury and Neptune. Mercury is the basic sensing apparatus - our five senses. It is our contact with the world for we can only know the world by the nature of our senses. It is therefore the source of the external world in us. Mercury also sifts and sorts all information coming in according to our personality or essence. Thus the tendency is to reinforce in ourselves a particular world-view according to our makeup. As well as looking out we can also look in to the internal world whose source is Neptune, king of the great sea. This is the source of all potential all that is possible for any person . If we stop to consider what with effort is attainable then the possibilities really do seem endless.
It must be said that the Mars-Jupiter function does not stop at birth rather that their function is transformed to one of developing the world of the psyche. This is the world we call morality and according to the particular loves of an individual (which give the psyche its extension) and the judgements made through life (which give it its definition) the psyche forms a morality watched over by the essence. Unlike other planets the Sun or essence is not a function. It is a seat of consciousness - a place that the other planets can be seen from. The process of development has as its first task to shift consciousness from a personality/ego level (Moon) to this level of essence. After all, the Sun is the true centre of the solar system and its only light; the Moon is simply a reflector of the Sun and rarely a perfect one. This is analogous to the human mind. When the Essence is established in its rightful place as the conscious centre, through work and effort, then the process of integrating the Sidereal body develops to the point where it has to undergo a radical change, like the foetus in the womb. This spiritual birth opens up the possibility of developing the Galactic body and so the process continues.
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