Studies in Astrology

by

Elman Bacher

Volume VI


Chapter IV

Design

   In the first article of this series, we discussed the point, the line and the circle as the three foundations of symbolic art. The point is infinite subjectivity; by correspondence it can be the unknowable, it can be Father-Mother God, it can be the potential of God-hood of the individual human being. The horizontal line to the left, from the point, is the process of chemicalization of the potentials of the point. The end of the line symbolizes the state of utmost chemicality corresponding to the utmost density of matter in the Universe, our solar system or the total physical body of the human, the sum total of his manifested potentials. The circle is the symbol of the infinite perfection of objectivity. Remember that the horizontal line has polarity; its ends are two points from which emanation can be made. In the astrological symbol, the first Point (the Center) initiates emanation by the process of chemicalization; the second point (the left extreme of the line) initiates emanation by process of fulfilling the potentials of the center. The drawing of the horizontal line to the left from the center symbolizes involution; the drawing of the circle, using that line as radius, symbolizes evolution; a completed circle symbolizes the inherent perfections of all potentials of the central point in fulfilled manifestations; it symbolizes the essence of ideality which man seeks to realize in all of his evolutionary experiences; the circle, in its perfect beauty, symbolizes the fulfilled manifestation of an archetype--in the case of our subject, that archetype is humanity. These three symbols are (as symbols) archetypes; from them all other archetypal symbols are derived.

   Design is the cosmic Law of Order applied to the shape and structure of manifestations. Shape is the external appearance, the condensation of the form of the matrix; Structure is the interrelationships of etheric and physical parts and factors of a manifestation. Structure is the total result of the emanations from the matrix-center and shape is that which is visually perceived of structure.

   All factors of a manifestation are designed because each factor is significant to the purposes of the total manifestation. In other words, the design of all parts is in accordance with the laws of the essential nature of the manifestation; the design of the completed manifestation is the objectified external appearance of the subjective archetype. Think about the "design of parts" and "external design" of mammal (human being, horse, whale--"mammal" being an archetype). In which ways are their internal and external designs similar? Think of quadruped (leopard, beaver, antelope, yak); bird (eagle, duck. ostrich, humming-bird); reptile, insect, fish, etc. consider the tremendous significance of design in the natural world. Flowers are a fine subject for this kind of study because the beauty of their design includes that of shape, color, and fragrance; the fragrance of the flower is as much a part of its design as are its shape and color. All animal life has a design in its timing for reproduction and gestation; human life has designs of relationship and work-activities, intellectual development, and spiritual illuminations. Enjoy yourself thinking about the manifold designings by which life expresses its powers.

   Because our principle subject of study is astrology, by a pictorial (graphic) art, we will confine our observations concerning design to those analogies between astrology and the art of painting which has, as its abstraction, the art of line-drawing. Design is everywhere evident in the arts music, dance, poetry, drama, etc.--but we must, for conciseness, confine ourselves to these two arts, which most directly correspond to astrology.

   If we can imagine ourselves exercising the faculty of sight for the first time and being totally unaware of the identifications and purposes of material things on this planet we would see, as far as our awareness would be concerned patches of color. We "see three-dimensionally" only because we have exercised sight for many incarnations, and except for the brief period in infancy when we are reorienting ourselves to this plane, we are accustomed to perspective. But, hypothetically for the moment, being totally unaccustomed to perspective we would see everything in terms of two- dimensionality. Looking into your room you see what you recognize as "large or small" of glass, cloth, wood, etc. Forgetting identity and perspective, the only "substance" you see is color manifested by the designed shapes of the things you perceive. Color is inherent in substance, but the design of substance shapes the color, or colors.

   Now--design in astrology--and a beautiful subject it is!

   As a factor in the pictorial essence of astrological symbolism, the circle of the astrological mandala is the framework for that which the astrologer studies. Remember that the frame-work of our visual perceptions is the circular extent of our eyes' scope of action. We do not see through a square or rectangular frame--the design of our eyes makes it possible for us to see everything through a circle.

   "Seeing" is done in two ways--or in two "octaves." One is "physical seeing"--perception of physical things by exercise of a physical faculty which is the focus of two similar organs on one thing, or "point." The other is "intuitive" or "spiritual" seeing which is done by focus of "bi-polarity," and the circle of the astrological wheel is also the symbol of the "frame-work" of this "seeing." The astrologer looks at the horoscope with a focus of both of his generic elements--this focus is the single eye of understanding; he draws on his intellectual resources to calculate the chart and study its elements from a technical standpoint but he also draws on the resources of his memory-of-experiences in past incarnations as male and female to perceive the spiritual values of the factors contained in the chart. An astrologer functions as a composite of both polarities when his intuitive perceptions are ignited by concentration on a chart; he understands the consciousness of both sexes and is able to evaluate the astrological indications accordingly. East-west, north-south must be studied in any chart of any human being. We are all causers and reactors to the effects of causes-- and always have been. The astrologer, focussing the bi-polarity--the Center- Point--of his consciousness, is able to perceive the objective and subjective evaluations of astrological placements and patternings; in other words he perceives, through the circle of his spiritual insight, the tendencies of the person whose chart is being studied from the stand-point of his being a "Causer," and a "Reactor to the effects of causes." The astrologer must know the life of the Spirit as well as the life of the body (Consciousness and Action)--"subjective life" and "objective life."

   Because a horoscope is what it is (a symbolic picturing of the interpretation of life-principles by an individualized consciousness in incarnation), we do not do horoscopes of discarnate persons or sub-human archetypes. Impress your mind with this thought: The circle is not the basic design of the horoscope; the cross of the vertical and horizontal diameters is. The circle is only because the ascendant-radius is, and the ascendant-radius is only because the point is. The circle is, in fact, the last factor in astrological symbolism because it is the manifested perfections inherent in the potentials of the point. A blank circle does not show the action of bi-polarity, therefore it cannot he considered the basic design. The basic design must fulfill the purpose of indicating the action of bipolarity because that action is what life is. All other factors obtainable, a horoscope can be done without drawing a circle; but to have any horoscope at all the ascendant-degree is imperative--having the ascendant-degree you automatically have the cusp of the seventh house. Having these two factors presents the picture of basic complementation, and that factor, more than any other, is the design of essential bi-polarity of the individualized consciousness--the life-essence of life itself.

   The horizontal diameter, because it is a line, is not of itself--and cannot be--a design; but because its extremities touch the circumference of the circle it serves to create a design within the wheel. This design of two semi-circles is the arch-symbol of symmetry and symmetry is the bi-polarity of design;"male-female" is the symmetry of sex and "masculine- feminine " or dynamic-receptive " or " expressive-reflective" are the symmetries of GENDER. This horizontal line which serves to "activate" the potentials contained within the circle is the symbol of all differences between the polaric expressions of the universe or, correspondingly, of human nature. A diameter of a circle does not "divide" the circle into "two things;" it activates the polarity of everything represented by the contents of the circle which are, in turn, emanations from the central point. Further, the diameter, which is the two-fold aspect of the ascendant-radius, is the picturing of the bi-polarity of the central point, "unfolded" in the simplest and most direct manner possible. The lower and upper semi-circles, then, are the fulfilled expression of each polarity--the two, reunited, form the complete circle which is the total composite of polarity. "Male and Female" are the words which symbolize the chemicalization of polarity-differences on the generative plane of being. Now, to consider the design of the bipolarity of each polarity; keeping in mind always that everything represented in a horoscope is emanation from the central point:

   The relationship between two planets which we identify by the ninety-degree angle is the square--arch-symbol of congestion of potentials. In its appearance as we use it, it rests on a horizontal base and its two sides are verticals--variations of the archetypal symbol of the Cross--"compressed" within limitations implied by the circumference of the circle. This registration of the square-design is called "evil" by some because it pictures a tendency to remain "unexpressive"--therefore "dead," which is "anti-Life." The "pain" implied in this registration is the ignition of potentials by evolutionary forces working through human consciousness in order that the life-potentials may be released against a "built-in" inertia. This square, applied to the contents of a circle, touches the circle at four points (those corresponding to the mid-points of the second, fifth, eighth, and eleventh houses), the fixed signs of the zodiac, the power resources of desire-love. The regeneration of these resources is the great "integral magic" of alchemy--the apex of spiritual endeavor. But these points being "mid- points," do not coincide with the cusps which, in turn, are emanations of the "I AM" of the one ascendant-radius. There is only one representation of the square-symbol that not only coincides with the house-cusps but is structurally symmetrical and equilibrated: the square whose angle-points are the cusps of the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth houses--the cardinal signs of the Great Mandala, which are the structure-points of basic human relationship. And "inertia" and "counter-active-to-inertia" (the polarity of life-processes) is represented in this square in a remarkably illuminating way since it deals directly with the "humanity of relationship."

   In the exact center of a piece of paper place a point. From the point, draw a line horizontally to the left about two inches long; retrace back to the point and draw another line vertically upward the same length; retrace back to the point. On the upper side of the horizontal and on the left side of the vertical write the word "male." Now, from the point, a two-inch line to the right, back to the point, a two-inch vertical downward, back to the point; you have created the "lines of force" in the design of basic human-relationship. Place the symbols of the cardinal signs appropriately, according to the Great Mandala. Now, the angle made by each pair of successive lines from the point is a right-angle, the same as is found at the structure points of the fixed sign square. Aries and Capricorn represent "inertia"and "action" in this way: Aries is the "male begotten;" Capricorn is the male begettor.

   Give this careful thought: the "tendency to evil" which is symbolized by the design of the square means this: the tendency to continue to express from a level of protracted spiritual inertia. When we do not grow and unfold, we retrogress; retrogression is the supreme blasphemy because it represents a counteractive to the fulfillments of life. The static potentials of immaturity must be released and fulfilled, and "immaturity" is the relative UN-fulfillments on any level, octave, or cycle. To look at our design again, the angles and lines of force in the cardinal figure and the fixed-sign square:

   In the cardinal figure, draw a little arc near the point connecting the lines representing Aries and Capricorn; draw another little arc connecting the upper-horizontal and the left-vertical of the fixed- square. These two arcs enclose two expressions of "right angle; " the cardinal is "open," the fixed is "closed"--at least as far as relationship with the entire designs are connected. The Aries-Capricorn right-angle unfolds the upper-left quadrant of its wheel; the fixed-square right-angle focuses the up- per-left quadrant of its wheel. Do you see how the design of the square aspect, in its essential nature, depicts potential for unfoldment and potential for congestion? Draw arcs in both figures, analogous to these two, relating Capricorn-Libra to the upper-right quadrant of the fixed-square, Libra-Cancer to the lower-right and Cancer-Aries to the lower left quadrant; each open central right-angle of the cardinal "cross" has its potential for congestion shown in the corresponding angles of the archetypal fixed-square. These two aspects (polarities) of the square-design show the "counter-thrust"- -against each other-of the dynamic and inertial tendencies of human consciousness. Every "immaturity" ("child-hood-ness") of consciousness must transcend the inertial tendency to fulfill itself in the symbolism of the circle. The dynamic and congestive "angles" in these two figures-since each angle is a relationship of two factors of the potentials of the point--is the eternal urge of cosmic polarity through human relationship-consciousness to fulfill the potentials of the archetype "humanity."

   The study of astrological symbols as pictures is a fascinating mental and esthetic exercise. These symbols, for the most part, have been used from ancient times as delineations of realizations of life- principles. This discourse will pertain to the geometric essence of these symbols as they may be correlated to the geometric values of the graphic Art of Drawing, the abstraction of the Art of Painting.

   After having experienced incarnations for many ages, we have a subconscious or instinctive reaction to geometrical designs as picturings of Cosmic principles, actions, processes--and their chemicalizations in Form. The essential designs which the artist uses to present his concepts of archetypes are themselves archetypal As a graphic art, astrology pictures the consciousness of the archetype "humanity"-the basic resource of all human conceptuality. The archetypal quality of astrological symbolism (" simple-ism") is such that the meanings of the principles represented by them become more basically comprehended as the consciousness of the human being is clarified by the alchemies of regeneration. This clarification results in a distillation of power which, through artistic manifestation or interpretation, serves to stimulate, vivify and illuminate the consciousness of less evolved persons. As the consciousness of the artist is "impregnated" by at-tunement to inspirational forces, does the power of his consciousness, released through his artistic work, "impregnate" the consciousness (inner knowing) of individuals; the result, on both octaves, is the "birth"of a new level of realization. The response of the artist and of the individuals to the impact of inspirational forces is alchemy of a subtle, but very powerful, kind. It is magic that is closely akin to the magic of love because, in both, archetypes are perceived in degree. The inertia of self- isolation is decrystallized and the divine is glimpsed. Every such experience of a person responding to the inspiring power of manifested beauty is a degree of "Hermetic Marriage"--realization of "re-union with the Higher Self."

   Because designs are emanated from line, let us consider the gender of straight lines, which are the abstractions of curved lines. The vertical is dynamic and stimulative; the horizontal is quiescent and receptive. As such, these two symbolize causation and reactor to, or effect from, causation, respectively. The diagonal which connects a vertical and a horizontal is the dual-generic reflection of both. (The gender of curved lines is determined by the quality of the straight line which connects the two ends.) The vertical, by itself, stimulates what? The horizontal, by itself, reacts to (or is affected by) what? When the arms of a right-triangle are a vertical and horizontal the diagonal hypotenuse is opposite to the right angle and reflects that which is generated by the jointure of the two lines. As such it is analogous to the relationship of a child to his parents who reflects, to a degree, the qualities of both father and another. Every straight line enclosed by a circle ignites the potentials of the contents of the circle; therefore, the vertical and horizontal diameters together ignite the contents of the circle in a four-fold way--the quadrants initiated by the cardinal signs; each semicircle is therefore "ignited" in a two-fold way which results in the picture of the sympathetic vibration which attracts Father-Mother-Son- Daughter together to form the "enclosure" of the human-family pattern. Two kinds of vertical and horizontal are qualified by the four diagonals just as "man-woman" is qualified as "parentage" by the children they beget.

   Designs and line-formations not only imply shape and form but also action, releasement, congestion, involution, evolution, staticness, radiation, gravitation and many other kinds of life-action. To be static means to be "poised between preceding and succeeding movements"--and movement is cosmic alchemy. Nothing in manifested life is eternally static but this state of equipoise is just as important as movement because radiation of power succeeds focus of power. The chemicalized Universe is Nature 's agency of focussing her powers so, actually, the word "static" means "focalization;" it does not and cannot mean "dead" or "un-living." From this stand-point, let us consider a few "static" astrological symbols.

   All symmetrical symbols convey an impression of being static because they are laterally balanced, but there is a world of difference between symmetrical symbols which are open and those which are closed. The most static astrological symbols are those for the square-aspect and the Sun. Of these two, the square-aspect (because it completely lacks curve or diagonality) is the more static. This square, with horizontal base, is "all up and down, and straight across" with "inflexible" angles and a complete lack of fluidity or adjustability. It is the solidification of the four right-angles inherent at the central point and its "personality " may be described as: compression, rigidity, leashed power, implacability, heaviness, im-movability, crystallization, self-righteousness, opinionatedness, prejudice, fear-ignorance, the "letter of the Law," and gracelessness. Since its astrological meaning, as a symbol, is congestion of potentials we get an impression of "strength" from the square-aspect symbol but it suggests strength that is not being used, muscle and intelligence that are not being exercised. Love-potential corroded by hatred and self-interest (of the wrong kind). The square is "definite" and "clear-cut;" so, we recall, are its effects. When we experience the stimulation of our square-aspects (life-forces trying to jar us loose from congestions in inertia and immaturity), the square speaks to us in "his" blunt, forceful, and uncompromising way. "Idle" is like "square people," who express themselves with definiteness and very telling effect, but who are somewhat lacking in tact or graciousness. The square is the picture of "two-times-two"--the essence of formal structure and therefore the essence of what is known as "classicism" in art. Classic art is preoccupied with symmetry of structure and clarity of outline, whatever its medium. Mediocre classic art is "congestion on form" and "lack of inspirational powers; " great classic art happily weds the two. Aspects, art, human-nature, or what-not--the square is power in a state of relative inertia; study drawings that are focussed on the square-design; what is your reaction to them?

   Circular designs, by their essential nature, are of two principal types; the static-circular is radiative, the mobile-circular is convolutive. The three arch-radiative astrological symbols are those of the Sun, the wheel itself and the sextile aspect; the first two are closed, the third is open. Of the three, the sextile is the most radiative because its "rays" are not bounded. Only the point in the center of the Sun-symbol makes it suggest radiation; the circle of the symbol is really a picture of fulfillment of the potentials of a specific archetype. The astrological wheel is a "large-scale Sun-symbol "--the lines of force of which are the twelve basic octaves of "I Am," which, in turn, is the chemicalized potential of the central point. The three diameters, or six radii, represented in the sextile symbol are the Spiritual Trinity of the fire and air signs--the masculine polarity of male and female sex of humanity. It pictures, by its "unbound- ness, " the universality of alchemy centered in the Unknowable, Father-Mother God or the individual human-being. The effect of radiative design is one of impact and illumination--the "sensation" which accompanies alchemical exercise. When you experience the "impact" of an alchemical effort, your solar-plexus is analogous to the center of the sextile symbol, with relationship to your body. The emanation from your charged or regenerated consciousness can extend indefinitely into the world of other people and conditions If you focus your charged consciousness on one thing or one condition, then you "bind it with a circle." Look at the Sun, Moon, and stars when they are shining with full light; look at people's faces when they smile; what do we do to express a friendly greeting? We radiate by extending a hand to the other person who takes it in one of his. This is the interlocking of the fire and air trines of the sextile lines-of-force to create a two-fold magnetic interchange. Radiative design reaches out to us from the center of its theme as people reach out to us and we to them. A radiative design representing an extremely unpleasant subject can repel us, as unpleasant people do, and as we do when we are unpleasant. When the subject itself is of an inspirational nature the "sextile radiation" can charge us with an impact of beauty and inspiration that conveys a feeling of exaltation and renewal. Study radiative designs in pictures. Let yourself feel their archetype.

   Convolutive-circular design symbolizes recurrent action around the central point. It is more "mobile"than the radiative type and its inner meaning presents quite a different archetype. In astrology we have two basic convolutive-circular designs: Cancer and opposition-aspect. This type of design is, perhaps, the one which most clearly conveys an impression of "gracefulness"--it is very feminine in quality, being rhythmic and entirely curved. The original of the symbol for Cancer was the Taoist symbol called "Yin and Yang;" the enclosure of the two curved figures by a circle makes it the symbol of bi-polarity of seed (that which is enclosed in the womb, or matrix) the archetypal mother-word; Cancer, cardinal and generative, is ruled by the Moon whose basic symbol is a vertical semi-circle; the line connecting its ends is the vertical of the astrological fourth and tenth houses-the "line of parentage." Convolutive-circular design, though it suggests motion, also conveys an impression of monotony-continual recurrence to and from the center. It is not congestion-as in the square; in a closed figure like "Yin and Yang" it is the dormancy of energies not yet expressed, " or Cosmic ebb-and-flow from the center and back to it through evolutionary octaves, as in the opposition aspect symbol. The essence of this kind of design conveys to our inner knowing the rhythmic "return to rest"--which is transition, or sleep, which is a "little transition; " it is soothing in effect, extending out but forever curving in on itself in graceful "foldings" of line.

   The opposition-aspect symbol has something of the same monotony of the Yin-and-Yang symbol with the addition of a dynamic factor; the "basic line" of this symbol is the upward diagonal and "rudiment of aspiration" is thereby implied. As an astrological factor, this design is focussed at three points: the midpoints of the second and eighth houses and the central point of the wheel; its essential meaning is: Choice between unregenerate and regenerate expressions or transmutation of the two poles of the desire (Taurus-Scorpio) diameter. This symbol, by its continual "flow" from the central point to the second and eighth houses, implies repetition of experience-patterns, on ever higher octaves, until regeneracy of the desire nature is distilled. This symbol, as an artistic design of two circles tangent to each other at the central point, represents the transmutations by male and by female individuals, of desire-for-possession through stewardship (Taurus-second house); and through love (Scorpio-eighth house); each of these points represents an octave of the potential of desire and. the attribute of love-- this diameter is polarized by the complementary diameter of Leo-Aquarius which are the personal and impersonal octaves of Love-Power. Think of a motion- picture of a person in a swing: "two kinds of up" and "two kinds of down"-- starting and ending at the gravitational center; there is a rhythm and pulse in the "up-and-down" of this type of symbol; it is the eternal aspirational urge of humanity, "up-surging"from the static "beginning" of each octave.

   The most dynamic of all circular designs is the vertical spiral; this is a line-design of the essence of the circle perpetuated in time, space and consciousness. It is open, symmetrical, rhythmic and, more than any other design, it conveys a sense of eternal progress It is the most ecstatic of all symbols because (and when we study it we shall see this) it symbolizes the eternal action of cosmic fire, involuntarily and evolutionarily. The "pyr" of "pyramid" means "fire" and the equilateral pyramid is the chemicalized form of the equilateral triangle. The equilateral triangle in turn, is the essential external shape of that which is represented by the involutionary and evolutionary spirals in two-dimensional representation. Think of a pyramid: four equilateral triangles whose bases are the sides of a square; a circle circumscribing the square can be thought of as the first basic level of the spiral. In your imagination, look down on the pyramid from the top: this view of the pyramid presents a central point, the dynamic square of the cardinal signs of the Great Mandala, with its four diagonal, bi-polar lines. The four right-angles of this square are the enclosed reflections of the central angles of the wheel made by the intersection of the Taurus-Scorpio and Leo-Aquarius diameters; they correspond to the four angles of the static square which are the enclosed reflections of the central angles made by the intersection of the Aries-Libra and Capricorn- Cancer diameters. Do you recognize the astrological wheel in this "view"? From any one of these cardinal structure-points (son, daughter, father, and mother-male and female of immature and mature causer and reactor to the effects of cause) the "begotten-of-God"--involved, incarnated humanity, commences its return to its "lost Eden," the central point of the circle, the apex of the pyramid. Humanity, in its Manifested Body, evolves through the exercise of distilled Love-Wisdom, not to a "vanishing-point" but to the realization of the source, which is perfect being. The spiralic line continues, incarnation after incarnation, round and round, through the patterns of human relationship, through succeeding cycles of experience and of octaves of consciousness--but always upward from the basic circle which circumscribes the basic square. As the spiralic circles recede from the differentiatedness of the basic square, they become smaller and smaller-- continually proceeding toward the undifferentiated unity of the apex-point, the central point of the circle. Draw a circular spiral, starting at what would correspond to the ascendant-point of a horoscope, recognize, as you "evolve" the spiral-line toward the central point, that you are letting go of chemicalized separativeness and are becoming more and more aware of your spiritual source, your "God-hood." In chemicalized representation, we do not see the basic circle or the spiral line. Looking at the pyramid "face on," what do we see? The triangle of spiritual identity and attribute--the power- love-wisdom inherent in each one of the basic human identities of which we all partake in our spiralic evolutionary journey.

   So--verticality, horizontality, diagonality, radiativity, convolutionality, staticness, congestivity, openness, spiralic ecstaticness, and all the other many qualities that are suggested to our inner knowing by the directions of all emanations from structure points of design are the attributes of that which the artist-who-draws and the astrologer-who- interprets exercise their manifestive and interpretative abilities.

   Study astrological symbols anew with the "opened consciousness" of becoming more aware of their design quality. Your astrological awareness will become more and more sensitized and illumined. You will find, in time, that you are evolving a sensitive awareness of the cosmic designs that are inherent in human personality, experience, relationship, and all processes by which spiritual fulfillments are made. Your own living, from day to day, will be seen to be a resource for the expression of your consciousness of the beautiful. Other people, represented by the horoscopes you study, will assume, in your consciousness, an intensified beauty and value.

  



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