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Astrology - The Sacred Knowledge
This paper was delivered in the All & Everything Conference in March 2005 in Bergen, Holland.
Understanding is not possible without the study of cosmic structures. To study cosmic structures without self-knowledge is useless, as every human being entails the whole cosmos. As long as cosmology is not connected with the acknowledgement of our inner world, it remains theory – which can be very interesting, but of no practical use.
The question has to be clear: what do we want? What is our aim? And the answer has only value, when it comes out of the heart – of the centre of my Being.
There is only one Reality. It means that every cosmological system describes this only Real World and is a model of it. In the Age of Pisces these cosmological models were clothed into pictures; the functions were personified as Gods and stories, but in the New Age of Aquarius we can not understand pictures; we need to understand the structures naked. Science can to-day deal with the abstracted energy structures, it does not need any pictures for it. The name “Aquarius” – which has nothing to do with water - is already a good example for this statement: earlier there was no other understanding for waves than in the form of waves of water. Now we do not need to “see” waves – we know what the expression “waves” means.
Man as a three brained being is a subject of the studies in the Gurdjieff’s teaching. He said that the three centres are connected with the four elements. The problem is that the meaning of the four elements is not really understood in Astrology, and its interpretation remains at the level of personality. As already mentioned, astrologers have to-day no idea about the real nature of human being and no knowledge about cosmic structures. They do not understand the pictures Astrology is working with, because they are already “children of the New Age of Aquarius” and they do not understand the language of the pictures. To transmit the pictures for the understanding through the intellectual centre is an urgent task for our time.
Gurdjieff was one of the first who saw the necessity of this transmission. He had the difficulty that the expressions of the New Age were not yet born in his time. He created new ones – it was a profound attempt to prepare the way for a new, not yet existing form of communication.
For those who have studied the teachings of Gurdjieff the following picture is quite familiar (source Stanley Nott: Teachings of Gurdjieff.
What do we understand about this picture? We find the same elements also in Christianity: Taurus, Leo, Eagle and Man (or Angel). I can put the same question in connection with the symbols of the four Evangelists: What has Christianity to do with these symbols, which play a fundamental role in it?
The following diagram is used in “The Fragments”:
The four bodies are directly connected with the four substances of the four elements. That is why the understanding of the four Elements belongs to the basic subject of cosmological studies. It is the structure of the material we are composed of, we are living in and we can work with.
A Model of Reality
As Astrology is mostly used today for personal matters, like the Enneagram of personality, the meaning of both as universal concepts is not studied and understood. The elements of Astrology build a model of Reality:
Astrology is a cosmological system.
The study of Astrology on this level can be useful for understanding more about the laws of Creation. Astrology deals with the energy structure of any cosmic system. With our growing understanding in the Age of Aquarius we can also say that it entails the structure of the universal information-system, which creates different worlds of cosmic systems on every level. Plato called it the world of Ideas.
When this is accepted to be true, then all of the elements of the Astrological system have validity in different Worlds, which refer to different dimensions of consciousness, as Gurdjieff emphasised it. There are no direct (linear) connections between different “levels” of consciousness. But there is the law of analogy, which can help us to find orientation in one system, with reference to another known system. Therefore it is of fundamental importance, that the cosmological Astrology is orientated towards the concrete phenomenon of the solar system; without it there would be no basis for this analogy.
Let us take an example. The orbit of the planet Earth is in between the courses of Venus and Mars. When we understand, what Venus means, what Mars means and what the planet Earth stands in us for, we can see clearly, how these three components relate to each other in us.
Venus is the unifying energy of Love. There is Love on every level. It appears as Gravity on the level of matter: Matter attracts matter. It is sex, it is emotional love, and it is the Love of the Creator to his Creation. As Venus is next to us in the direction to the Sun, this energy joins the planet Earth to the Sun. It is the centripetal force, pulling the planet towards its Creator to unify both. Another fact to be considered is that Venus is the only Planet in our solar system, which is turning around its axis in the opposite direction from all the other Planets.
Mars is the force of will, which strives to realise the individual. It is self-will, which enables every created cosmos to live according to its own laws. It is the will to live and say yes to life, to fight for the best conditions for realisation. The will of the first central appearance of consciousness of every cosmos is to realize its content. It is the centrifugal force, which enables everything to go straight on its “own way”. With only the centrifugal force the Earth would leave its orbit and get lost in the immense space of the universe.
The planet Earth is held between these two forces. The level of “Earth” is the level of personality. Essence is incarnated into the matter of the Planet Earth, it builds up its body of its substance and with the ingredients of the influences it builds up something that “it is not”: the personality. This new substance can become the food for Essence.
Are we not through our lifetime in the tension between “self-realization”, the influence of Mars, and the call of a “centre” in us with the longing for the “lost paradise”, the influence of Venus in us?
Let us take another example. Did you ever wonder, that the immense great Sun and the, in comparison with it, very small Moon are placed in space in such a way, that they both have the same size in our view? Do we understand what they both stand for? Is it a wonder that we consequently mix them up in us, as long as we are orientated by quantity and not by quality?
In the astrological practice of today the vertical dimension is altogether missing. It is significant for our time: we have no sense for hierarchic structures; neither in the concrete material world nor in ourselves. We bring everything into a horizontal order together. The orientation according to the Ray of Creation is very clear in Astrology, provided our orientation is based on the structures of our Solar system. The cosmology of Gurdjieff is based on the concrete astronomical reality and so is Astrology.
Our Galaxy – the fix star constellations - All Suns
The astrological tradition says that “the idea of man lies in the Zodiac”. This is the entity of the twelve, the “12 laws of the sun”. But behind the twelve signs of the Zodiac are the fixed star constellations. They mark energy columns in the galaxy, which created our sun. Their centre is the centre of the galaxy, and as science tells us, it is a “black hole”. This is called “the sun behind the sun” by the Sufis. Here lies the origin of man, which has been made visible by the re-creation of our Sun.
Our Sun - the Zodiac (12 signs) - Sun (12 laws)
The Sun and the Planets represent our essence, with the Sun as the “Centre of our essence”. Through the signs of the Zodiac, called the 12 “Doors” (or “Towers” as Ibn el Arabi calls them), the Sun realizes the “12 laws” in its level.
The Sun recreates the idea in time, into realisation through its own being. Through the Sun the whole cosmos of the solar system is built up, including planet Earth, where the possibility of organic life has developed. The Sun stands in every tradition that I know for the manifested Creator, the centre of Life – for Being-Consciousness.
The Planets – the energy column of the Sun - All Planets
There is an energy column which is created by the rotation of the Sun and at the energy points of it are the planets in their orbits. Gurdjieff’ called this energy column of the Sun “All Planets” in his cosmology.
Ascendant – the Earth - Earth
Gurdjieff meant that Astrology deals only with our essence and not with personality (“The Fragments”). I do not see what this statement is based on. In Astrology with the Ascendant and the system of the houses the energy of the solar system is projected on one point of the Earth; this determines the personality. Personality is built on the earth through the influence of the environment and the readiness given in the essence. The Ascendant and the twelve houses are related to personality, in contradiction to what Ouspensky wrote in “The Fragments”.
Moon - Moon
The Moon is mostly misunderstood. It is either made into the middle of our existence – as many psychological systems do - or it is denounced altogether. As long as we are under its laws, we are not able to see what it really is. It is definitely the lowest world, but this does not mean that it is less important than the higher ones. It has its strong function as the female pole to the male pole of the Sun.
The Moon in us is what we identify as the Soul. When we are identified – it is the Moon principle in us! Generally we have no idea what it consists of. What is its nature and how does it function? What we do not realise is that the given “soul” is bound to our lower – animal – nature and so to the existence and death of it. It is connected with personality (Earth) like the Moon is orientated towards the planet Earth. It is not directly connected with the centre of our Being, with the Sun. In the astrological tradition there is an important statement about the relationship between the Moon – the personality - and the Sun:
“As long as we are not conscious, the Ascendant feeds the Moon. When we live consciously, the Ascendant nourishes the Sun.”
It could not be formulated more clearly.
In Gurdjieff’s “All and Everything” there is a lot of material for study in connection with cosmological Astrology. I would like to deal in this presentation only with the subject of the four elements. Of course other subjects are touched at the same time, which lead to other questions.
The Four Elements
I have widened the scope of the diagram previously shown from “The Fragments”. The different experiences on different levels of consciousness are brought together in it.
The first column has some of the same information as Ouspensky’s diagram. What is new is that the level of the Earth is the last “reality”, with the most density. It is, so to say, our outermost skin. The levels under the Earth are not realities any more.
The second column refers to the Elements.
Let us begin with the level of the element Earth: this is the mirroring level, the threshold between the real world and its projections. At this level we are identified. We have the possibility to move “up” (inside) or “down” (outside). From thereon up the elements are increasingly subtle substances; water is finer matter than earth, air is more subtle than water and the finest substance is fire.
Element water is the very intimate subjective experience of our essence, with all colours, aspects and intensity.
The level of the Sun is the element air. As the substance of mental processes it is impersonal. The experience of this level is without “feeling”. That is why Gurdjieff says, that the Sun neither lights nor heats, but is freezing cold like the hairless dog of Mullah Nassr Eddin.
Fire is beyond the Sun, the creative energy beyond consciousness.
Below the Earth the Elements are mirrored: the higher their place in the hierarchy, the further their projection falls down.
The third column is the experience of a “normal” human being, “man” in quotation marks, without inner work.
Level Earth is experienced as the physical body with its more or less functioning senses. It is functioning in this world, and deals with daily identifications. It is the domain we call ego, built up by the earthly circumstances: geo-centric orientated.
As the second and higher bodies are not yet built, there are no senses for their possibilities. But sometimes information “comes through” and it can happen that we are able to recognize them on the screen of our consciousness.
We receive the informations of the level of the planets as moments of foreseeing, dreams and “information from beyond”.
Out of the level of the Sun we get very clear flashes, they come from nowhere and it is not possible to repeat them.
All impulses come from beyond the consciousness, also the smallest ones.
We could not move our finger without an impulse to do so. We follow these impulses automatically without being aware of them as such. When we are somewhat aware of the impulses, we say “I will”. We are entirely dependent on these impulses, whether we accept it or not.
We all have the experience: when we begin to have doubt about a vision that we have seen, being ruled by our imagination, we destroy the strength of it. This is the connection of the “water”-substance above and below the Earth.
A clear flash of intuition has energy of a high frequency. With associative thinking ruled by the emotions this can be destroyed. When we doubt the clarity in what we have seen in a flash and begin to argue – we have already fallen down to the level of the “air under the Earth”. There we can no more discriminate between “higher” and “lower”. We think that it was a curious thought we had…
On the lowest level there is no meaning at all. Everything that happens is according to accident. It is “being caught up in the present moment” of the flowing time, being imprisoned on the spot without any possibility to get out of it. It is the state of being the victim of some strange force.
The fourth column shows how we experience unconsciously our inner cosmos projected on the outside – we live then in duality. As there is a world outside us, built up by the same ideas as the inner world of our human experiences, as long as we do not posses the inner organs of recognition, we “see” only the corresponding manifestation outside us.
What we find on the level of the Earth is “man in quotation marks”: human beings functioning in life.
We delegate the level of the planets to the angels, who whisper to us and take care of us.
The level of the archangels, who Gurdjieff writes so much about, is beyond our personal affairs, and we are not at all interested in their jobs.
Outside Christianity in other religions there are different names and concepts for demons and gods according to these two levels.
Our understanding of God as the creator belongs to the level “beyond consciousness” with all kinds of pictures about Him, what we imagine God to be. The mirroring of His Fire of Love became the fire of hell through the fall below the level of the Earth. Of course we get difficulties in our limited mind to bring the two kinds of “fire” together: the loving God and the punishing God. We feel in His mighty hands that we are only dust – on the mineral level.
As we are not aware of our animal nature, we see only the animal world outside us. It is the same with the vegetative world represented by the plants. To know about our lower natures is not the same as to experience them.
The fifth and sixth columns give hints of how a conscious human being experiences the levels of creation as a Unity. He has developed the necessary organs; he has become the “thrice-born” like Hermes and Dionysos.
The level of the Earth is the area of doing. The incarnation is fulfilled: there are no illusions any more about this world of appearances. There is a stable ground under the feet. The developed personality enables us to become active and to do what is necessary. The body serves with all the refined functions, it has become a useful tool to work with.
The second body is born; the organs to recognize and to acknowledge are built. The ability to transform the necessary substances is developed. Individuality has got its crystallised shape and it enables to see in a unique way, unique in the whole creation. Through this ability God can see through the eyes of the individual. Life in the present moment has now become a reality and it is possible to be open to the knowledge, which is needed and receive the impulse to do, with the purity of the “virgin soul”.
The third body is built and enables to take part in the knowledge of the ideas.
Only then is the fourth body given, which enables to be free – and then it makes sense to speak about “free will”. Then love is not conditioned any more, it does not exclude anything.
The level of the Moon still exists – as long as we are in the physical body. Personal likes and dislikes have not disappeared. The patterns of the past are dissolved, the past is redeemed.
Emotional reactions take place out of the moment, childlike. But they do not rule any more. They deliver the raw material for transformation.
Logical thinking can be used without the disturbance of the “unclean” emotions (which are now burned out) and can work independently of emotional reactions. There are no concepts that hinder understanding through interpretation.
The understanding of Unity entails the insight that there is only one fire, and this “Fire of Love” burns out everything, what is not Love in us. It is welcome, it is purgatory: it serves purification.
The seventh column entails hints for inner work on the different levels.
The observer or witness is the highest possible expression of personality. A clear description of the witness can be found in John the Baptist in the Gospel of John.
In building the second Body in the proper way conscious breathing plays an essential role. Without learning and practicing conscious breathing the new body that is being built does not receive enough food.
The food of impressions is the nourishment of the third body. The central question is: can we digest this third being food?
It is essential to work on the second body before crystallisations of the third body begins. The building of the second body is hindered by crystallised concepts. These kinds of crystallisations have to be dissolved – and this is a painful process.
The creation of the “New Moon” has to do with the growth of the Soul. The Soul was in every spiritual tradition the female pole to the male pole of “I am”. The “growing and developing Moon” becomes a “planet” and further becomes the “Sun” – through melting together with it.
The elements are specified in a separate word file: to open or download please click here.
Talk by A. Hidveghy & R. Oksanen
A Question by Dimitri Peretzi