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SCENE SEVENTEEN: ABSTRACTION

Dane Rudhyar

(Sagittarius 1° to Sagittarius 15°)  

FIRST LEVEL: ACTIONAL

PHASE 241 (SAGITTARIUS 1°): RETIRED ARMY VETERANS GATHER TO REAWAKEN OLD MEMORIES.

KEYNOTE: The will to reaffirm the value of the struggle upon which civilization and group-achievements are founded.

Two important factors are revealed in this symbol: the men who have come together are Army men, and they are linked by actions and a type of consciousness that have roots in a common past. What we call “civilization” is built by constant struggles against nature, for it seeks to wrench power from nature. This element of power is seen in its most obvious aspect in the military consciousness. Moreover, all civilization is built upon the accumulated products of the experiences of past generations of dedicated men who agree to follow rather rigid procedures of work. Veterans’ groups in all countries seek to rekindle in their members the old fire of well-fought battles; but the type of abstract or religious thinking normally related to the zodiacal sign, Sagittarius, also implies a special kind of “fire.” It is a fire that burns the “now” of natural living in order to build a greater “tomorrow.” It is future-oriented It aspires to produce a greater, wider civilization, even though it finds its roots in the harvest of mankind’s past. Comradeship and group activities are implied, but the togetherness is one of fighting spirits.  

This is the first stage of the forty-ninth five-fold sequence of cyclic phases. The symbol should be understood in its widest and most basic meaning, not merely as the reunion of old comrades, but as referring to the very power implied in the process of civilization, as opposed to culture — thus to the PERPETUATION of the spirit of struggle for power.

 

PHASE 242 (SAGITTARIUS 2°): WHITE-CAPPED WAVES DISPLAY THE POWER OF WIND OVER SEA.

KEYNOTE: The mobilization of unconscious energies under the pressure of super-personal motives.

Wind and sea are in constant interplay, and the results of that interplay are inspiring and beautiful. In symbolism, the wind (pneuma is the early Greek word for "spirit") is associated with spiritual dynamism; the stirring of deep energies this dynamism produces obeys cosmic or super-personal rhythms, the power of which is irresistible.

At this second stage of the forty-ninth five-fold sequence we have a picture which contrasts the powerful but beautiful storms of nature with the often gory and hysterical crises of a civilization which progresses through war. The picture presented speaks of SUBTILIZATION THROUGH RHYTHMIC INTENSITY.

 

PHASE 243 (SAGITTARIUS 3°): TWO MEN PLAYING CHESS.

KEYNOTE: The transcendent ritualization of conflict.

Essential to socio-cultural living is the transmutation of man's natural aggressiveness under most conditions of existence. Many rituals, sports and games have no other basic aim. In chess the complex types of energies which in their togetherness constitute a human person are symbolized by six kinds of pieces (king, queen, bishops, knights, rooks and pawns). The struggle between light and darkness (the Yang and Yin forces) is ritualized, ending in most cases with the checkmating of the king (the ego, the conscious self). In a dualistic world such a contest between polarized forces is omnipresent. The chess game trains men to be more objective, more careful, more aware of whole situations — and less impulsive and intent upon side issues.

This third stage symbol deals with conflict, but at the level of group culture and psychological symbolization. It brings to the objective consciousness the basic realities in interpersonal INTERPLAY.

 

PHASE 244 (SAGITTARIUS 4°): A LITTLE CHILD LEARNING TO WALK WITH THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF HIS PARENTS.

KEYNOTE: The natural assistance of superior powers during crises of growth.

At an early stage in its development, every living organism must make an attempt to overcome the power of gravitation, or rather to learn to use it in order to fulfill the purpose of its life. This implies passing through a critical state of growth — growth in freedom, potency and individuality, inasmuch as "walking" always symbolizes self-induced progress. In such a crisis the individual is not left alone. Some more evolved Power and Intelligence watches, encourages and gives examples to be followed.

As usual, this fourth stage symbol in the forty-ninth sequence gives a hint of technique. It presents a picture of the conditions under which a RESOLUTION OF CONFLICT can be ensured, whether at the organic, the personal or the super-personal level of unfoldment.

 

PHASE 245 (SAGITTARIUS 5°): AN OLD OWL SITS ALONE ON THE BRANCH OF A LARGE TREE.

KEYNOTE: A poised and wise approach to existence based on a clear perception of unconscious factors and their operation.

The owl has always been a symbol of wisdom, and its hooting call has evoked a rise to mysterious and hidden elements in life. The owl functions lucidly in the night aspect of existence. His eyes see what men normally fail to perceive. He represents that consciousness which is active where the processes of life normally escape the attention of the personal ego and its intellect.

This is the last of the five symbols in the forty-ninth sequence. It suggests the possibility of developing a wisdom beyond tragedy, a peace and poise beyond conflict. One might speak here of TRANSLUCIDITY.



 

SECOND LEVEL: EMOTIONAL/CULTURAL

PHASE 246 (SAGITTARIUS 6°): A GAME OF CRICKET.

KEYNOTE: The development of skill in group-situations testing collective goals.

Any society is built on the interplay between groups of people, each group united by an at least temporary aim. The individual person within the group is assigned a particular role in the play; and definite rules have to be obeyed. The game teaches not only personal skill, but fairness and cooperation. Where this symbol is found, the value of making individual-will or ego-will subservient to collective cultural patterns is emphasized. Several symbols belonging to Scene Seventeen (Sagittarius) relate to games or group rituals, because these are "ab-stracted" from everyday social behavior and used as educative means to develop group-consciousness and an individual sense- of responsibility to the group.

This is the first symbol of the fiftieth five-fold sequence. It refers to the importance of developing GROUP SOLIDARITY.

 

PHASE 247 (SAGITTARIUS 7°): CUPID KNOCKS AT THE DOOR OF A HUMAN HEART.

KEYNOTE: A stirring-up of individual longings for romantic love.

In contrast to the preceding, this symbol refers to what one might call a personal initiation through an ideal love. Far from being related to social value, ideal love tends to exalt individual characteristics in that it glorifies what seems able to fill poignant and often unconscious needs. Such a love is a projection of the anima or animus Images which in a sense complement the outer character of the one who loves. It is a subjective event which tends to bring to the lover a crisis or emotional chaos. Such a love often turns asocial if not antisocial and is blocked or frowned upon by society.

This second stage symbol is in direct opposition to that of the "cricket game." Intensely romantic love knows no rules and ignores collective purpose or dictates of reason. Yet it may bring to the individual an intensity of feeling which no group togetherness can arouse, at least at the ordinary social level. What is implied is a challenge to EMOTIONAL REBIRTH.

 

PHASE 248 (SAGITTARIUS 8°): WITHIN THE DEPTHS OF THE EARTH NEW ELEMENTS ARE BEING FORMED.

KEYNOTE: The alchemical fire which both purifies and transforms the very substance of man's inner life.

Forces are at work in the deepest layers of the psyche which in their own way respond to the outer stimulation produced by a strong involvement in group ambitions and emotions, and even more by the powerful tensions and releases of love. An alchemical process goes on, usually unnoticed by the conscious ego, until it becomes obvious that a kind of mutation has taken place and a new level of awareness and of responses to life has been reached.

At this third stage of the five-fold sequence we deal with both the basic rhythm of growth of the human being and the reaction to more individualized experiences which aroused the emotions. The very substance of the person's nature undergoes modifications, on the basis of which a new step may be taken. The symbol draws our attention to the inner changes. We have to become aware of them. What is implied is a kind of PSYCHIC GESTATION.

 

PHASE 249 (SAGITTARIUS 9°): A MOTHER LEADS HER SMALL CHILD STEP BY STEP UP A STEEP STAIRWAY.

KEYNOTE: The need in any social situation to assist the less evolved in their management of the problems which society requires its members to solve.

A staircase does not present a natural difficulty to a very young child. Man builds stairs and therefore is responsible for assisting the child to climb them step by step. Social and cultural living is not "natural." The child must first be taught by example, then helped along as he imitates as well as he can the grownup's behavior. Climbing stairs is only an illustration of a general process. Every generation must involve itself in teaching the next even the simplest skills needed for social existence.

At the fourth stage of the preceding five-fold sequence we saw parents encouraging a little child to walk. Walking is a natural human function; climbing stairs is a skill made necessary by the building of several-storied houses — a product of civilization. What is implied here is SOCIAL CONCERN for the less evolved of society's members.

 

PHASE 250 (SAGITTARIUS 10°): A THEATRICAL REPRESENTATION OF A GOLDEN-HAIRED GODDESS OF OPPORTUNITY.

KEYNOTE: Society's efforts at dramatizing the greatness of what it offers to the ambitious person.

Civilization as a process demands the goading of individuals to spend their vital energies in the pursuit of achievements which, while fulfilling the individual's ambition and greed, nevertheless generate various forms of what we call "progress." This sequence of symbols mainly refers to the drive for advancement along "human, all too human" paths of growth.

This is the last symbol of the fiftieth five-fold sequence. We see in it how socio-cultural forces operate by dramatization and propaganda. The result is all too often a process of FORCED GROWTH.  



 

THIRD LEVEL: INDIVIDUAL/MENTAL

PHASE 251 (SAGITTARIUS 11°): IN THE LEFT SECTION OF AN ARCHAIC TEMPLE, A LAMP BURNS IN A CONTAINER SHAPED LIKE A HUMAN BODY.

KEYNOTE: The value of the "return to the body" advocated by modern thinkers in order to balance the stress on intellectuality and objective consciousness.

This sequence of five symbols confronts us with rather mysterious images, which nevertheless can be given very profound and important meanings for today. The original formulation of this symbol spoke of "physical enlightenment," but what seems to be implied, in contemporary terms, is the need to rely upon "the wisdom of the body" of which so much is made in sensitivity training and Gestalt psychotherapy. This refers to the process of deconditioning a consciousness that has become a prisoner of intellectual concepts with their total reliance on quantitative values, objectivity and conformity to the official patterns of our culture.

This represents the first stage of a challenging process — the fifty-first sequence of five symbols. It stresses the importance, for many individuals, of RELYING UPON ORGANISMIC RESPONSES in meeting life's challenges.

 

PHASE 252 (SAGITTARIUS 12°): A FLAG TURNS INTO AN EAGLE; THE EAGLE INTO A CHANTICLEER SALUTING THE DAWN.

KEYNOTE: The spiritualization and promotion of great symbols of a New Age by minds sensitive to its precursory manifestations.

In the background of this strange allegory we can recognize the deep-seated belief that the American nation and its basic democratic institutions were constituted to be the cradle for a new step in human evolution. The "flag" is the abstract symbol of the nation; it becomes an "eagle" — another U.S. symbol — when the concept is made alive by bold and transcendent action. The eagle symbolizes spiritual will and the power to rise to the highest possible altitude of consciousness and purpose. Flying at such an altitude, the eagle is the first living creature to perceive the rising sun. Having perceived it, it heralds it — and by so doing is identified with the crowing chanticleer, who had convinced himself that his resonant cry was responsible for the rise of the sun and the coming of a new day.

This second stage symbol contrasts with the first in that it is completely future-oriented. It speaks of "peak experiences" instead of the wisdom found in the organismic depth of the body- consciousness. It urges us to bring our noblest ideals to actual life through the power of the spiritual will. A Keyword might be ANNUNCIATION.

 

PHASE 253 (SAGITTARIUS 13°): A WIDOW'S PAST BROUGHT TO LIGHT.

KEYNOTE: The karma of past actions as it affects opportunities presented by a new cycle.

What the "widow's past" is remains obscure but the point is that even as a past cycle is closed — a phase of married life ends — the karma of whatever deeds or misdeeds this cycle witnessed will almost inevitably intrude into the new life period. Also, once a cycle of activity is concluded, much that was unclear or unconsciously motivated in the events it witnessed can now more easily come to the clear consciousness of the mind. It is possible to joyously herald the dawn from high above the actual stresses of existence (the preceding symbol), but the new day may be found loaded and darkened by the unfinished business of many a yesterday.

This is the third stage of the fifty-first five-fold sequence. Mankind is "the widow," because our soon-to-be-concluded Piscean Age has buried most of the ideals it once revered and proclaimed. Yet the New Age will have to deal with many oppressive ghosts. This is a symbol of RETRIBUTION.

 

PHASE 254 (SAGITTARIUS 14°): THE GREAT PYRAMID AND THE SPHINX.

KEYNOTE: The enduring power of occult knowledge and of its quasi-divine Custodians, "Seed-men" of a previous cycle of existence.

The belief in an Original Tradition based on the perfect knowledge of the archetypal principles and forms which underlie all manifestations of life on this Earth (and by extension in the cosmos) is deeply rooted in man's consciousness. The Great Pyramid and the Sphinx are witnesses to such a Tradition, especially for the Western world. The symbol implies that such an archetypal knowledge remains the foundation upon which men's minds can still build solid and valid formulations, as new evolutionary developments are pending. This fourth stage symbol suggests that this occult knowledge and the traditional process of acquiring it is still available, and that by accepting their principles modern man can best meet the challenge of our present world crisis. The symbol, interpreted from a personal point of view, points to the greatness of a Soul's past achievements and the value of trying to re-evoke this past. What is revealed is THE POWER OF SPIRITUAL ANCESTRY.

 

PHASE 255 (SAGITTARIUS 15°): THE GROUND HOG LOOKING FOR ITS SHADOW ON GROUND-HOG DAY, FEBRUARY 2.

KEYNOTE: The value of anticipating new turns of events and ascertaining future prospects.

In our modern industrial society where policy changes and decisions often take several years to reach full actualization, it has become essential to plan with an eye on probable future developments. Such planning requires a study of past trends and the extrapolation of the results. What above all is implied in the symbol is a sensitivity to social or planetary rhythms, and the need to ensure at least relative safety by planning ahead.

This is the last symbol in this fifty-first sequence. Something of the meanings of the first four is involved in the process it suggests. In its highest form the knowledge required is "eonic consciousness" — in modern terms the new science of PROSPECTIVE.

 

An Astrological Mandala

 

Mindfire