The tradition of anthropomorphizing celestial bodies has its roots in the beginning of civilization itself.
Archeological evidence from the Babylonian, Sumerian and Egyptian cultures indicates that people have always seen the stars as both the gate way to the human psyche and an expression of the divine mind. The Zodiac, which developed in tandem with writing, is a pictographic narrative of the drama of creation, man’s descent from eternity into time and his epic journey home again. Of the 48 constellations named by Ptolemy in “The Almagest”, 12 of them are seated along the elliptical where the sun and planets spend most of their time, carving out the procession of the equinox.
The number 12
This 12-ness is one of the earliest and most enduring sources of inspirations for the mathematicians, astronomers and story tellers of antiquity. It inspired Pythagorus’s music mathematics, it gave birth to the 12 tribes of Israel referenced in the Bible, the 12 disciples of Jesus, the 12 Gods of Mount Olympus and countless other symbolic connections. The number 12, in many spiritual traditions, is considered sacred. It is approximately the number of lunations of the moon in a year, and the number of years for a full cycle of Jupiter, the great benefice, and the brightest “wandering star”. It is central to our system of timekeeping, including the calendar and units of time in a day. The Sumerian 12/60 counting system provides for our measurement of geometry, and is the basis for our maps, making it central to our understanding of both space and time.
To understand ourselves and the universe we have personified the heavens, centering on 12 divine ideas, or aspects of reality, imagining them in the heavens. The roots of western culture are deeply nourished by these 12 central figures in the sky. Whether we think of astrology as an esoteric science, a personality typology, or the artifact of a pre-rational society, it is so deeply embedded in our history and culture that we will never fully escape its influence. Astrology, like mythology, is here to stay. As one of the oldest and most enduring forms of man’s quest for self understanding, astrology provides a foundation for the stories we tell about ourselves and our universe.
Astrology and Depth Psychology
This powerful technology is perhaps best seen in depth psychology where researchers have recognized that the narrative forms that the human mind gives rise to reveal its interior nature. Our hopes and fears, our aspirations and the accumulated wisdom of the ages are well articulated in the Zodiac. Depth psychology acknowledges that the unconscious mind, the symbolic, meaning making aspect of the mind is in an ongoing dialogue with All That Is, navigating reality through mytho-poetic narratives that provide the basis for understanding. It generates 12 core patterns called archetypes. The archetypes that govern the patterns of activity of human life, are themselves a type of God, bestowing inclinations and explanations for human behavior. To work with them consciously can give us a tremendous tool to navigate through the complexities of our lives and process of developmental growth.
In one of the oldest of the worlds mystical traditions, there is an idea that survives even today that says, “that which is above, corresponds to that which is below.” This axiom points out the inner and the outer, the upper and the lower, the microcosm and the macrocosm are of a like nature. Creation is an emanation of self similarity, dispensing a universal life power through all planes and domains of being; mineral, plant, animal, human and celestial. From this perspective, the archetypes of the Zodiac and their constellations are the externalization of us through the law of correspondence.
To understand the patterns of life and work with them is to pull back the veils of the mind. Throughout the articles and guided sessions from the Meditations Beyond the Zodiac series, this is exactly what we are attempting to do. We are engaging the image making faculty and the mytho-poetic narration of the grand story to gain special insights into the nature of being. Like all things, which are of a dual nature, the human psyche is at once both an instrument of concealment and revelation. Our perceptual faculties, being bound up in the 5 senses and time thought, inhibit our capacity to apprehend the law of correspondence by direct observation. Such a view of reality is beyond the scope of the personal mind, requiring of us a transpersonal kind of awareness to come online.
As mortals, we loiter at the gate of birth and death, hoping to catch a glimpse of what is on the other side, eager for some reliable testimony of what is and what is to come. But, we are rudely denied a view and shut out when we attempt to storm the gate with only our rational minds and five senses. Some force, like Angels with flaming swords guarding the gate of Eden, bar our entry. Time though, it would seem, and the sensory descriptions of reality it gives rise to, is as much of a jailer as it is a giver of life. To truly appreciate the full depth and breadth of the human condition and the cosmic implications of our very existence, we must look to the stars of the dome, to the timeless stories and the numinous essence beneath their tattered garments.
Time ~ Concealment and Revelation
“The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao” ~ Tao Te Ching
The esoteric essence of Capricorn, according to the mystery traditions, is the duality of concealment and revelation. Corresponding to the Hebrew letter Ayin, meaning eye, this aspect of consciousness, the eye of the mind, is the tendency to be captured by the five senses, inspiring us to imagine quite inaccurately that what is seen is what is real, and only what is seen is what is real. This inclination makes the material, rational mode of thought the default perspective through which we view reality. While it grounds us to the physical and practical side of life, it also reduces the full breadth of reality to only those elements which have relevance to our personal needs and desires. In short, it is the tendency toward cosmological reductionism described as materialism.
Objects of thought, in contrast to material objects, provide for the substance of meaning and have at least as much reality as atoms. They are in actuality even more primary, since without them nothing can ever be spoken or known about physical objects either. Ruled by Saturn, Capricorn is the faculty of consciousness that reifies, drawing boundaries around the ineffable and the abstract in order that they can be known as specific expressions of one thing or another. It orders, encodes, and gives meaning to what is perceived through the five senses in a act of selection and reduction.
To have no boundary, is to have no meaning, no definitions of any kind and no consciousness of this or that, especially a self. Saturn esoterically establishes the boundary conditions for the known and the knowable, as time circumscribes eternity, providing for the basis of existence itself.
This power is an essential prerequisite of existence, and yet it is so pervasive and seductive that it entraps the mind in materialism, all but shutting out the awareness of the true infinite nature of being. This is why Capricorn, as the ocean goat has been associated to Kronos, the God of time who ate his own children, Pan the horned god from whom we get the word panic, the colloquial term of being “horny” and Baphomet, the half human half animal demigod who the Knights Templar were falsely accused of worshiping.
Individuated existence, which gives rise to the sense of “I” is a boundary on the one life. It is the corporealization of an eternal and immortal being, who now is born and dies again and again forgetful of its unified essence.
As egos, we are enmeshed in body form identification, which is the source of both our carnal drives and our inevitable death. It is in the demonization of this very situation that we receive the doctrines of evil, darkness and sin and the condition for which the resurrection of Christ Consciousness in and as us becomes meaningful.
This condition is illustrated in the myth of Kronus in Greek mythology, and Enki in Babylonian mythology.
Kronos was the king of the Titans and the god of time. He reigned at the Golden Age of creation after castrating and deposing his father Ouranos (Uranus), god the sky. Fearful of a prophesy that said he would be defeated by his own son, Kronos ate his children as they were born.
But his wife Rhea, pregnant with Zeus, wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes and gave it to Kronos to eat, hiding Zeus away on the island of Crete. The stone fooled Kronos and Zeus was raised safely on Crete until he was grown and it was time to free his siblings.
With the help of Gaia, Zeus gave Kronos an emetic making him vomit out his kids who where then also fully grown. This began the war between the Titans and the Gods of Olympus.
Time is one of the most fundamental aspects of reality. Time-space as we think of it in modern physics are not two independent things but one thing measured in two different ways. As essential as time is for there to be reality, it is also the one thing that everyone can count on destroying them. We all grow old and die. (Thank you, Saturn.)
But time’s casualties can be liberated from its boules. The 12 Olympians, or universal archetypes of the human psyche are themselves immortal, beyond time and death. To free them from their imprisonment in Kronos’s belly is to transcend their personal attributes, seeing them not as bound to form but as figureheads on a summit beyond the world of form.
Beyond the corporealization of the life power and the specific manifestations of the one life, there is a timeless and changeless element of existence that can not die. The Capricorn theme, while presenting an image that is contrary to the timeless reality of our changeless nature, provides us with the opportunity to pull back the veil and heroically rescue that which is immortal.
Esoterically, Saturn and Capricorn are the aspect of consciousness that facilitates corporeal, time-space experience. Without it there is neither life nor death, no form or substance of any kind. There is neither person-hood, nor a soul since the one life is undifferentiated from the totality of the ALL until Kronos or Enki carves it out of the Abyss. Its discrimination circumscribes eternity, bringing things into being out of the five primordial elements; fire, water, earth, air and spirit, and presents them as sensory experiences through the five senses.
This is why we see the pentagram in Tarot key 15. In the inverted position, the pentacle indicates that our sense experiences dominate our awareness and control us. They have us rather than us having them. This condition is one of bondage to the senses and the material world. The automatic consciousness of the body and ego are all that is, which is a completely fearful condition to be in because this is what time will ultimately destroy.
To awaken beyond the senses, we can learn to read the stars of the dome. We can become proficient in tracking the meanings of things beyond their mere literal and material appearances. The constellations may be clusters of exploding hydrogen gas, but they are also patterns of imagination, they are Olympian Gods shining out from the summit of existence. As we look at them we, in turn, see ourselves. As we recognize their eternal essence and the critical roll they play in the collective psyche of western culture, we can learn to see our own lives and personalities as specializations of the universal power of the one life. We are each centers of expression of this power, with unique configurations of these 12 archetypal patterns.
Ye are gods, springing forth from the bowels of time, preparing to take your place on Olympus.