If you follow astrology in the traditional way, to find out something about character and personality, and possibly to predict the ups and downs of fate, your calculations will need to be precise. If, however, you set out to use astrology to help you discover the inner self, and thence your own soul, your calculations will not need such precision. Why? Because the soul is broad enough to encompass both precision and imprecision. Paradoxically the inner self is greater than the outer personality, and the soul is greater than the inner self — potentially greater even than fate itself.
Chapter 4 The Zodiac Degrees
Seeing the universe as we do from a continually changing series of viewpoints which we call the zodiac, subjectively we tend to take a geocentric view, although objectively we know the solar system to be heliocentric. From whichever viewpoint, the degrees of the zodiac will still symbolize our own rhythmic relationship with the Sun and with the universe as a whole.
As far as humans on Earth are concerned, both time and space can be clocked and measured by the endless band of the zodiac. The meeting point of time and space can be recorded by the zodiac degree, each degree a fleeting focus for the ever-changing pattern of life forces. As the projection of time into space, one degree represents the distance travelled through space during one complete revolution of the Earth, the amount of space covered in a day and a night. With each of its successive revolutions, the whole face of the Earth is bathed in the flavour of that degree, that particular instinctual blend of influences. As the product of both axial rotation and orbital revolution, as the integrator of these two, the individual and the collective, each degree of the zodiac has to be a powerful symbol of personal creative growth.
Chapter 5 Evolution and Personal Choice
Manifestly, the sequence of degree symbols can be seen as a sequence of phases of self-building. They are like the notes of an as yet unwritten human symphony. The majority of people live fragmented and comparatively unfulfilled lives, making use of only a tiny part of their potential selves. Zodiac degree symbolism, in forming collective pictures, can suggest the nature of potential dharma, and pinpoint the chance of new growth for the individual.
Because one's exact birth time is rarely known accurately it is no use being too dogmatic about the selection of a symbol in relation to the ascendant degree and its angular relationships when interpreting a birth chart. The significance of each symbol — of each degree — is released the moment it begins, and there is no hangover period. But this is no real problem; intuition will often indicate the appropriate degree from any set of five. But because the symbols arise from and refer to the essence of collective awareness, they can in any case most confidently be applied to the Sun sign, and the "collective" outer planets.
Chapter 6 The Planets as Symbols
The planets are extraordinarily convenient symbols of synchronicity. They relate in regular measurable terms to their own central point of reference, the Sun, to their background, the zodiac, and equally they can be taken to relate to any place and any time on Earth — in our case, to the points of reference which make up the personal mandala of the birth chart. From this viewpoint the revolutions of these celestial bodies represent the sum of a constantly changing pattern of a larger environment, which may readily be compared with the ever-altering sequences of events upon the Earth and within ourselves. They are yet another readily observable and reliably predictable macrocosm relating to our microcosm, the impersonal many representing the personal one.
Taken alone, a symbol can have no meaning apart from itself, and the planets too can have no actual significance apart from their own material presence. When employed as symbols of life, however, they allow the cosmic existence of humankind to be studied as though it were the central feature of a coherent pattern. To the caveman, perhaps, these moving specks of light amongst fixed stars seemed full of life and meaning. And as intelligence developed, the ever-moving planetary system must have seemed a vast timekeeper with which they could measure human life and the earthly seasons, a reassuring hint of order surrounding, if not governing, a puzzlingly erratic world.
Chapter 7 Exploring Personal Trends
Casting a horoscope, calculating a birth chart, is a way of using symbols to ask questions and receive answers about the quality and potentiality of the moment. Predictions have a habit of proving often to be wrong; I dare say they are usually wrong. When astrological predictions prove equally wrong this does not prove that astrology is wrong or meaningless, any more than a mistaken mathematical theory will prove that mathematical calculations are useless. Symbols can have no real meaning of their own; they are useful only to the extent that the subject to which they are applied is well understood. With this proviso, they can serve to identify and determine facts and substantiate theories, to stabilize wildly variable possibilities.
Astrology of the inner self has to begin with an intuitive understanding of the soul, to be substantiated sooner or later by practical experience. As the inner self in its broadest sense embraces the whole collective self of humankind, it already includes all systems of understanding within itself. To regard our type of astrology as an amalgam of this and that system, to analyze bits of it, is to misunderstand its nature and purpose. Certainly our system has to contain elements of natal astrology which, as it depends for objective accuracy on assumed knowledge of the exact moment of birth, is largely subjective. It will contain elements of mundane astrology, "astrology of the Earth", because this deals largely with collective moods and broad-scale psychological changes. The Earth is the seat and the symbol of the individual self, and it has inescapable associations with each zodiac degree, which again are of great importance for the individual.
Chapter 8 Influences from Beyond the Zodiac
Our approach to matters of the soul and the inner self has so far been symbolic, necessarily so, and even the phrase "beyond the zodiac" is merely a symbol. It is difficult to describe the non-material in material terms, The zodiac itself, in our symbolism, is taken to represent the bounds of materiality which, in surrounding our solar system, surrounds us all. As well as our physical being and our everyday passions, the zodiac also has to include the so-called occult, "that which is hidden", representing the subtle side of the world of passions; strange, magical realms which many have found seductively alluring.
The phrase "beyond the zodiac", therefore, let it be clear, is taken to symbolize, not the occult, but that unknown and unlimited state of being which lies beyond the occult and beyond collective mortality. Any out-of-the-ordinary experiences may be described as "spiritual", and many have claimed familiarity with this vast spiritual field; but few indeed are those who would claim to understand it. Certainly, aspects of it can be experienced, so perhaps it is true to say that it can be known; it is not "hidden" like the occult. But the field of spirit cannot really be understood by human minds, simply because our intellectual and emotional understanding cannot extend beyond the state of materiality in which we live.
Chapter 9 The Spiral of Ascent
From the ascendant on the birth chart the point of self traverses by degrees the whole cycle of the zodiac, experiencing the abstract quality of nature symbolized by it. As it travels it acquires less-than-human characteristics, steadily gaining material strength but leaving far behind the initial contact of the newly born with the spiritual source. So having made what amounts to a quite involuntary descent amongst what we can now identify as increasingly coarse influences, through the instinctual worlds of humans, then animals, then plants, and then material objects, having as an adult person experienced their varied natures, there comes a time to gather these elements personally within the self, and begin the return journey. Now that we have become aware of the situation, we are in a position to put theory into practice, to put our own house in order. From this point on, besides our normal everyday pursuits, a submissive completion of wholeness should be a major aim in life.
The birth chart native's symbolic Sun needs to have been reached before this return journey can be made; but what does this mean in practical terms? The vague concept of a "redeeming spirit" has to come to reality; actual contact with spirit is a necessary precursor for the final path of the soul. This is the allegorical house-master come home, with authority to reinstate the steward and allow him to carry out his proper duties. Without real spiritual contact, without the channelling process and corres-ponding inner development, the abstract sphere of collective humanity will remain a nebulous world of dreams, a land of the unconscious.