Venus and Mars

After such a long pause I thought I would try an experiment. The old technique of choosing a topic from a text at random. The text chosen from a random book, in this case Titus Burckhardt’s, Alchemie (German edition). The random text from the book is about how the planetary symbols are composed of the circle, cross and the semicircle. (Interesting isn’t it? I just happened to open the chapter on the planets and the metals, where astrology and alchemy meet :-) )

From the alchemical point of view the Sun and Moon form two poles, male and female. Each works on or can be bound to indifferent matter (represented by the cross) in the center. So each of the five metals other than gold (☉) and silver (☽), each have a different ‘combination’ of solar and lunar influences on indifferent matter. Copper (♀) and Iron (♀ reversed – see below) both have solar influence. Tin (♃) and Lead (♄) have lunar influence. And not surprisingly Quicksilver (☿) has both lunar and solar influences.

Venus-and-Mars

 

Notice the old symbol for Mars – no arrow. Instead having the cross of matter above the solar circle makes more sense astrologically. In the order of the planets seen geocentrically

 ☽    ☿   ♀   ☉   ♂    ♃    ♄

 Venus and Mars are closest to the Sun. Venus has a dominant solar circle. Venus/copper shows cosmic influence flowing into matter. Mars has a dominant cross of matter. Mars/iron shows material influence flowing into the cosmos.

Think about it. Iron is the metal that has made it possible for human beings to push matter into the cosmos. How? by surrounding/encasing ideas/vision with technology.

Titus Burkhardt refers to Basilius Valentinus when speaking about Venus or copper. Valentinus says that copper contains an abundance of unbound solar power much like a tree that has too much resin. Mars or iron is solar power that has become buried in the darkness of matter.

We can’t go into too much detail here. Consider this food for thought. You just might see Venus and Mars from an entirely new standpoint.

The Astronomical Square

Let us explore the square. We will tie in astronomical and numerical considerations as we go along.

A square is a two dimensional representation of embodiment. It is the four directions that an incarnated human being is embedded in or bound to (front, back, right, left). When projected into three dimensions as a cube, the directions of above and below complete the picture. The square can then be said to signify all of the manifested cosmos, all that is bound by form. This includes galaxies, stars, planets or any other body. The square is a symbol of form. Matter. And matter is subject to time.

the cosmic square

the cosmic square

If we wish to signify the earth we must insert a smaller square. Thus:

The earth as our focus in the cosmos (Not proportional :-) )

The earth as our focus in the cosmos (Not proportional :-) )

We have said that matter or form is subject to time. Time becomes visible to us through the cycle of day and night, which is marked by the presence or absence of the sun in the sky. Let us add a vertical line to our diagram to illustrate this. Since we are ‘facing’ the square the top represents sunrise or the east. The bottom, our ‘back’ represents sunset or west.

Division by day and night

Division by day and night

If we are perceptive we will note that at one point in the day the sun is at its highest and the midpoint of the day is reached. After sunset we may count the time and halfway through it is midnight. This is the complementary point to mid-day. We represent this with an additional, horizontal, line. So we now have the four divisions of the day; sunrise, mid-day, sunset and mid-night (I, II, III and IV respectively).

The cycle of day and night

The cycle of day and night

 If we count accurately and for a longer period of time we notice that day and night are never equal except for two times during the year. These are the equinoxes. We also will observe that after one of the equinoxes the days become longer and the nights shorter, the sun’s path across the sky is longer during the day. At one point the longest day is reached this is the summer solstice. After the solstice the days begin to shorten until an equinox is reached. After this equinox the days continue to decrease until at one point they are at their shortest and night is at its longest. This is the winter solstice. Again the days lengthen until the next equinox is reached. This cycle of light, which can be likened to breathing, marks the four seasons and also one solar year. It is not surprising then that the sun is described as square in Indian astrology. Not because he appears square in the sky but because his path is ‘square’! The inner square represents  one revolution of the earth around its axis and the outer square one revolution of the earth around the sun.

The solstices and the equinoxes are the turning points of the year. They are the ‘turning points’ or in Greek the τρόπος (tropos or ‘turn’). This is where the english word ‘tropical’ comes from. The corner points of the inner square mark the hinges. Corner 1 marks the spring equinox, corner 2 the summer solstice, corner 3 the autumn equinox and corner 4 the winter solstice. We can give these corner points names. Traditionally these points are also called the beginning of Aries (1), Cancer (2), Libra (3) and Capricorn (4).

The corner points or equinoxes and solstices

The corner points or equinoxes and solstices

 Just as we divided the inner square into four parts, we can also divide each of the four larger divisions into four parts, leaving 12 equal divisions surrounding the four inner divisions. (We have an interesting progression of 12, 22, 42, 42 −22 ) We can represent this division thus:

The 12 divisions of the solar path and space around the earth

The 12 divisions of the solar path and space around the earth

 Each of these 12 boxes divides the cosmos around the earth into, let us call them 12 quadrants. These quadrants are empty. They represent the sky without stars. No cosmic body has yet been mapped into them. Remember this. These 12 quadrants are also known as the tropical zodiac and each traditionally has a name. So a is Aries, b is Taurus and so on. With this diagram we have arrived at the South Indian chart which surprisingly is an ideal representation of the tropical zodiac! Unfortunately these names are also used to describe collections of stars or constellations and much confusion arises. The Sanskrit word ‘rasi’ is actually better because it simply describes what the boxes contain: a heap, mass, quantity, number, collection. So in each box there is a collection of galaxies, stars, planets, asteroids, or cosmic dust if you wish. There are two contending viewpoints as to how the position of planets and sensitive points should be mapped into the rasis. I leave you dear reader to draw your own conclusions as it is possible to use both methods, the so-called tropical and so-called sidereal zodiac, to map the positions into this chart.

Now these quadrants are very interesting. Quadrants a and b face the East,  d and e the South, g and h the west and j and k the North, if you remember our earlier exposition. They also have a correspondence with sunrise/Spring, mid-day/summer, sunset/autumn and mid-night/winter. Quadrant a is after the ‘turning’ and is therefore the pivotal part of the season of Spring. It can also be called ‘cardinal’ which means the same as ‘pivotal.’ In quadrant b Spring has established itself and is therefore ‘fixed’. In the corner quadrant c Spring begins to change direction, it is the period leading up to Summer the next turning point Quadrant c, being in a corner has two directions, East and South. It is ‘dual’. Quadrants a, d, g and j may be called cardinal. Quadrants b, e, h and k may be called fixed. Quadrants c, f, i and l may be called dual.

Round or Square?

Most standard texts on astrology, from the more ancient to the recent, western or Indian begin with a description of the signs, planets and houses. Indian texts often add a description of the nakshatra or lunar mansions. Quickly an example is introduced in which the combination of the three for a particular time is presented. This may be called a figure, a diagram, a chart, a horoscope, a chakra, a wheel or in a specialised form, cosmogram. Some texts provide a description of the, let us call it chart. Other texts don’t. Usually the student adopts what is presented, and later, what seems more convenient. Generally no further thought is given to the matter. So the answer to the question whether the choice of round or square is through convention or tradition can be answered that it is generally through convention. The form first encountered or a software default seems to decide the issue. Yet, the chart is a potent astrological image. And in my opinion greater care should be given in its choice. In fact, depending on the focus, the appropriate form should be used! Do you know what the twelve divisions in your favourite chart form represent? Are they signs? Constellations? Houses?

There is also the other side of the question. Is there such a thing as a traditional chart? Modern western astrology has adopted a round chart form. But is this the traditional form? O. Neugebauer and H. B. van Housen in their book on Greek Horoscopes include a drawing after the Oxyrhynchus 235 papyrus which shows a lopsided, wobbly, hand drawn circle divided by a horizontal and intersecting vertical line that represent the axis of the horizon and the zenith. It is a chart for a person born between 15 and 37 AD. They also say that such diagrams are very rare and that only later in Byzantine codices do diagrams appear with greater frequency. There, however, various forms of the square chart are used. It seems that up to the 19th century the square chart was the dominant form in the West. It is still the dominant form in India.

The chart is a map of the heavens for a certain moment of time at a particular location. It can be for a person, an event or even for the moment of a question. Just how the heavens are depicted remains to be explored. The planets can be mapped against the constellations or using the tropical zodiac. This is also where we have to be absolutely sure what is meant by ‘sign’ or in Indian astrology ‘rasi.’  We’ll explore this later in more detail.

For the moment location is of interest to us. It can be described as the intersection of two imaginary great circles known as the longitude and latitude or as being situated in an area between two longitudinal and latitudinal sections which we can call a quadrant. In fact one of the few situations where circles may form a square is in mapping in two dimensions. Keep this in mind when we explore the construction of square and round charts in the next articles.

Tradition, Convention and Dogma

Tradition is difficult to define. It can be described as a body of knowledge that is considered so valuable that it must be bequeathed from one generation to the next. Quite often it has a divine source or is based on supra-sensible perception or lacking that is based on superior knowledge and experience. Traditions generally have a set of seminal ideas that are their essence. Out of this they enfold. Around these seminal ideas a whole body of knowledge and practice grows from generation to generation. But traditions, if access to their core is lost, can become encrusted with what can be called convention and dogma. Both convention and dogma can become the greatest enemies of a tradition and in the end undermine it. Convention endangers tradition because it accepts without question subtle changes in interpretation or practice that may occur over time due to changes in consciousness or understanding and at worst may be fueled by those who would use such subtle changes to their own advantage. Convention is acceptance without understanding. Convention encourages sluggish thinking. It is the comfortable approach as it accepts without question and answers uncomfortable questions with, ‘it has always been done so’ or ‘my teacher has said it is so’ or ‘it is written thus.’

Dogma is more insidious. It takes a conventional interpretation of a traditions core ideas and turns them into canon, declaring ‘it can only be so.’ Sluggishness is replaced with militancy and questioning outside of the canon is declared heresy which is usually punished in one fashion or other. Other traditions are rejected on principal.

A tradition is not a monolith that stands in a field unchanged and unchanging, to  be protected from the elements and erosion. It is the field itself in which the seed of the tradition, its essence, is sown, nurtured and cultivated; grows, flowers, is pollinated, comes to fruit and then regenerates. The monolith, which embodies the verbal and written aspects of tradition, merely marks where the tradition can be found. It is the minds and hearts of those who cultivate the tradition that plant the seeds of their understanding in the soil of the field. That understanding which is in accord with the tradition thrives and prospers and keeps the field fertile. Convention leaches the fertility out of the field around the marking monolith. There is still growth but it is meagre by comparison. Dogma roots out all that grows in the field so that only the monolith remains and the field is barren.

The next articles are devoted to a simple question: is use of a square or circular chart based on convention or tradition and what does it show? Some of my conclusions may not be acceptable to everyone. That does not mean that anyone who does not agree with me is conventional or dogmatic. What it does mean is that I and you, dear reader, will try to tap into the core of the tradition or traditions presented and to the best of our abilities try to plant a few viable seeds and bring them to growth.

Ignore the Mayan Apocalypse: the Sensation and the Task

Way back in May 2010 I posted an article called,

2012: Time of Change, but in which Direction?

Because of all of the hype in the media and because some find themselves worried (albeit without cause) I would like to balance out some of the nonsense. Here is the core sentence:

2012 is the year that Regulus, the heart of the Lion, one of the royal stars, moves into Virgo after a 2149 year sojourn in Leo. That is an end of a cycle. More profoundly so, as it will join the other royal stars, Aldebaran, Antares and Fomalhaut who have been in mutable signs for a while now.

I would recommend reading the whole article because there the task of a “Virgoan” Heart of the Lion is explained.

Mayan time-keeping was extremely cyclic. There were tiny cycles within larger cycles within yet larger cycles, not unlike the time cycles we find in the Vedic tradition where even larger cycles then those of the Mayans are described. (see Manvantara at wikipedia).

The fourmilab Calendar Converter site has this to say:

The Mayans believed at at the conclusion of each pictun cycle of about 7,885 years the universe is destroyed and re-created. Those with apocalyptic inclinations will be relieved to observe that the present cycle will not end until Columbus Day, October 12, 4772 in the Gregorian calendar. Speaking of apocalyptic events, it’s amusing to observe that the longest of the cycles in the Mayan calendar, alautun, about 63 million years, is comparable to the 65 million years since the impact which brought down the curtain on the dinosaurs—an impact which occurred near the Yucatan peninsula where, almost an alautun later, the Mayan civilisation flourished. If the universe is going to be destroyed and the end of the currentpictun, there’s no point in writing dates using the longer cycles, so we dispense with them here.

For more useful information about the Mayan calendar please visit their site.

Dear reader, I wish you a good solstice and after that a happy Christmas season and when our calendar ends on December thirty-first and the next official yearly cycle begins a happy New Year, preferably with family and friends…