In Rudhyar’s view of the Cosmos, a fundamental principle of astrology is the Cycle. In “Tropical” astrology, the zero point is the first day of the Northern-Hemisphere Spring, when the northbound Sun crosses the Equator, and the Angles between the planets are as seen from Earth. In “Sidereal” astrology, the zero point is a particular Star in the Sky. These were the same several millenia ago, but no longer, as there is a slow drift in the way the Earth is oriented. As always, it’s Both/And, but we use Tropical astrology, ‘cuz that’s what we’ve learned. In Western Cultures, most astrology is Tropical, and it’s just called “Astrology.”
The basis of Tropical astrology is that the strongest effects relate to the Seasons – Aries being the first month of Spring, Cancer the first month of Summer, Libra the first month of Autumn, and Capricorn the first month of Winter. Much of Tropical astrology follows pretty easily from that – we see spontaneous Creation happening everywhere in Aries, Moms nurturing their new offspring in Summer, folks beginning to think about Collaboration in Autumn, and getting serious about it in Winter. Of course that’s all on its head in the Southern Hemisphere, but the Colonial European mind hardly noticed that. An honest Tropical Astrology for the South would start Aries on September 21, though of course it would be Both/And.
We go through all that because once we realize we’re looking at the planets from this perspective, we see that we can watch the Planetary Cycles unfold in the Night Sky. We need one more piece of information, though. The planets (including the Sun and Moon as “planets”) move from West to East. It’s the Earth that spins the other way. So the Sun and Moon appear to move from East to West because what we’re seeing is the daily rotation of our own Planet. If we want to watch the other planets move in the sky, we need to take a fish-eye snapshot of the Sky every night at midnight. Arranging those snapshots as a time-lapse video, we’d see the motion of the planets as seen from Earth. In that video we’d see the Stations and Retrogrades and Cycles.
So, getting down to Cycles on our imaginary midnight time-lapse video, we’d see the red planet Mars trotting across the Sky and returning to the same benchmark location every two years. The fourth-brightest object in the Sky (after Sun, Moon, and Venus) is the white planet Jupiter. It would take twelve years for Jupiter to make one complete journey across the Sky and return to the same benchmark. Of course they’d be invisible half the time, because they’d be on the other side of the Earth.
So Mars will make six round trips for each of Jupiter’s round trips, and we can watch Mars pass Jupiter in the Sky every two years. In real life it turns out to be two-and-a-half years for Mars to catch up again with Jupiter, because in the two years while Mars was looping, Jupiter was moving too. So the next Mars-Jupiter Conjunction – or Jupiter-Mars Initiation – will occur further along in the Zodiac (later in the year) than the last one.
When Mars passes or Conjuncts Jupiter, we refer to it as Jupiter Initiating Mars. The reason we do this is because we aren’t really looking at the planets, we’re looking at Energies they represent. It’s an ancient and very useful tradition to personify Energies and Entities. “Moderns” consider that a horribly primitive and “superstitious” thing to do, but they do it all the time, when they personify one another and their exploitative gods like Free Market and Cause & Effect. Everyone has their Mythology, and when you hit a nerve in conversation with someone, you know you’ve stumbled onto Mythology that they’re Fundamentalist about (that is, they assume their metaphors are literally True). As if Truth were knowable!
If they had any sensitivity, they could see that Trees and Rocks have just as much Life and Individuality as they do, and have a lot more to say than they do, if for no other reason than the Trees and Rocks have been around a lot longer. If you personify your car, it’ll be more reliable, last longer, and tell you when it needs help. It’s simply a matter of Respect to personify everything. Do we really think the Wind will talk to us? Don’t be silly, if we did we’d be a nutcase, right? It’s symbolic. The Wind represents an Energy, and pretending to personify it helps us to understand it.
It’s a classic error of thought to confuse a Symbol with its Referent – we all do it all the time. We see a snapshot and we think of it as a Landscape. We do Google Earth and we think we’ve been there. We see a body and assume it’s a person. We see an incident and believe it’s a trend. We see a Star and think it’s an Omen. But of course it’s Both/And. And since it’s all a hologram anyway, the only difference between the Symbol and the Referent is the quality of the projector. How incredibly arrogant to think that the Wind doesn’t talk – and listen! You just stay out of the nuthouse (if you want) by telling people what they need to hear so they don’t freak out. Either/Or people have very fragile Egos that are threatened by anything outside their narrow Birdcage.
So we personify Mars as a whippersnapper running around Doing a lot of stuff and kicking up a lot of dust in the process, and we personify Jupiter as a more stable source of Wisdom and a symbol for Expansion. These personifications aren’t arbitrary; they’re based on millennia of observation. When Mars is lit up, often so are tempers. But of course that’s self-reinforcing; if we know Mars is lit up and we see someone coming with a fresh Sunburn, we might think they’re really angry and run away – or strike first, just in case. And the traditional astrological interpretations are laced with millennia of negative Either/Or thinking, which we need to discount.
So we see Jupiter as the Wizard, and Mars as Micky Mouse running around trying to replicate the Wizard’s tricks while supposedly doing the Wizard’s bidding. Or, since it’s always Both/And, you could see Micky as Jupiter and his broomsticks as Mars. Either way, as we all know, delegation leads to trouble.
But the point is that in astrological Cycles there is a faster planet, the Delegatee, and a slower planet, the Delegator. At the beginning of a Cycle, the Delegator Initiates the Delegatee, or assigns a task to the Delegatee, or confers Shaktipat to the Delegatee. Over the course of the Cycle, the Delegatee attempts to carry out the task. We usually say that the faster planet Conjuncts the slower planet, and that the slower planet Initiates the faster planet, but they’re the same thing. While slower confers Wisdom, faster provides Experience – though with less opportunity for contemplation and integration.
The task, or Energy of the Cycle – we can and should personify Cycles as well – is strong at Initiation, but only for those who aren’t Denying it. Those who are heavily invested in the old Cycle that just died, and still hoping to keep making profits from it, will be looking the other way and hoping the new Energy goes away. In the 1960s, Pluto Initiated Uranus at 18 Virgo, “An Ouija board,” and there was Magic afoot. And lots of Muggles working hard to Deny it. The Guru Pluto (History personified) gave the Initiate Uranus (the Individual personified) the assignment of manifesting an Ouija Board on Earth – which we can interpret (among many other possibilities) as restoring the Realm of the Fairies, and restoring the Magic of the Human-Soul connection and respect for all Entities and Energies.
Then, as the Cycle develops, the Energy becomes less obvious. Through the 1970s and Eighties and Nineties, as Uranus moved away from Pluto, Magic was a lot less apparent. Till Uranus reached its Sextile (two Signs apart – Creative Grace) to Pluto, and Harry Potter launched, to become the most popular book series ever. Harry’s mom JK Rowling was born in the mid-sixties with Uranus two degrees shy of Pluto and closing rapidly. JK has a Grand Cross (Uranus/Pluto Opposite Saturn, Square the Nodes) and a Grand Trine (North Node-Mars-Pallas) – echoes of the current now. The Uranus-Pluto Initiation itself Opposed both Saturn and Chiron (Magic and Miracles, with Focus); Harry Potter (the book launch) has Uranus Septile Chiron (double Magic) and Quintile Saturn-Vesta (Learning to Focus on the Sacred).
Fast forward our time-lapse video to 2012, and Uranus comes ’round to Square Pluto. That’s when Magic becomes a part of everyday life. With Retrogrades and Repeats, the Uranus-Pluto Square repeats seven times, till 2015, so we aren’t near done yet with our Ouija board.
So Mars (Action) has just been Initiated by both Jupiter (Expansion) and Lilith (Instinct), Lilith will be Initiated by Jupiter this December, and Jupiter and Lilith will both soon Initiate Pallas (Boundaries). Pallas Initiated Mars in early June. Mars is the fastest planet here (2 years per round trip), Pallas next (4 years), then Lilith (9 years), then Jupiter (12 years). Lots of new Cycles beginning, with Jupiter the High Priestess…
- Mars-Pallas (“Workmen drilling for oil“) or Actively setting Boundaries
- Mars-Lilith (“A car wrecked by a train“) or Acting on our Instincts
- Mars-Jupiter (“Game Birds feathering their nests“) or Actively Expanding
- Pallas-Lilith (also “Game Birds feathering their nests“) or setting Boundaries that respect our Instincts
- Pallas-Jupiter (“A large Diamond in the first stages of the cutting process“) or Expanding our Boundaries
- Lilith-Jupiter (“Venetian gondoliers giving a serenade“) or Growing Instinctively
We pay particular attention to Lilith because her these-boots-were-made-for-walking act so mirrors the push for gender equality that characterized the 1960s. In the chart of the 1965 Pluto-Uranus Initiation, Venus was overtaking Mars near the South Node, with all three Conjunct. The implication is that during the current 140-year Uranus-Pluto Cycle, our Androgyny (in the best sense of the word) will be dredged out from beneath the Emotional Holding that has been keeping it hostage.
The exact Mars-Venus Initiation occurred ten days after the Pluto-Uranus Initiation, at 11 Sagittarius, “In the left section of an archaic temple, a lamp burns in a container shaped like a Human body.” That’s a very unusual Symbol, laden with potential. Left usually represents Source and consequently the Feminine. Rudhyar’s take: “The value of the ‘return to the body’ advocated by modern thinkers in order to balance the stress on intellectuality and objective consciousness.” You can see in the current trend toward oppression of Women by the Olde Male Power Structure, a desperate effort to extinguish this Sacred lamp.
The Olde Male Culture is deeply invested in the Intellectual and its “objectivity” because it can define the “objective” with Logic, without ever revealing the exploitative Assumptions that underlie its Logic. Even the “religious” elements of the Olde Male are Intellectual. They’re based not on Spirit, Energy, or Emotion, but on Ideology. The Colonial perspective is all about objectifying Other.
Thanks to martin for several corrections; see Comments.