SCENE ELEVEN: CHARACTERIZATION
(Virgo 1° to Virgo 15°)
FIRST LEVEL: ACTIONAL
PHASE 151 (VIRGO 1°): IN A PORTRAIT, THE SIGNIFICANT FEATURES OF A MAN'S HEAD ARE ARTISTICALLY EMPHASIZED.
KEYNOTE: The capacity to picture to oneself clearly the salient features and the overall meaning of any life situation.
During the two preceding Scenes the "feel" of energy at work has been the dominant feature of a consciousness still strongly ego-centered yet at times eagerly and devotionally reaching up to a realization of divine or cosmic order. Now we have come in the seasonal cycle of the year to the sign Virgo. It is in a sense the symbol of harvesting, but it is also that of the Path of discipleship, and of all strongly determined processes of training, or retraining. Flooded with and having enjoyed and released energy, the personalized consciousness now has to learn the lesson of significant form. It must be able to see life situations as wholes of experience, and to discover their meaning by distinguishing their most characteristic features.
This is the first stage of the thirty-first five-fold sequence of symbols and its Keyword is DISCRIMINATION. Implied in discrimination is both analysis and intuition. The mind separates and identifies — and unfortunately often exaggerates — what makes a person or a situation different from another; but the intuitive responses of the whole person to what confronts him or her is also essential, for what matters is not only my or your "difference," but the place and function this difference occupies in the organic pattern of the evolution of "humanity as a whole," i.e. of Man.
PHASE 152 (VIRGO 2°): A LARGE WHITE CROSS DOMINATES THE LANDSCAPE.
KEYNOTE: The wisdom and compassion which only the experience of suffering and isolation can bring.
The individual must have gone beyond the state of ego-subjectivity in order truly and objectively to "see" and to discriminate. He must have learned detachment; and it is a lesson that no one can learn without the "crucifixion" of the ego-centered emotional life. In the occult tradition, the eye that "sees" must be washed by the blood of the heart. The experience of the Cross dominates the mystic Path that leads to Initiation, i.e. to the entrance into a greater realm of activity and participation with an exalted Company of perfected beings.
While the discovery of significant features in any situation implied the use of the mind, both analytical and intuitive, now a contrasting stage is reached at which the mind itself has to be left behind and perhaps even seemingly destroyed in order that compassion and understanding may rise from the depth of the innermost being: a LIBERATING ORDEAL.
PHASE 153 (VIRGO 3°): TWO GUARDIAN ANGELS.
KEYNOTE: Invisible help and protection in times of crisis.
Though the consciousness may not yet be able to realize this as a fact, man is as surrounded by spirit as fish by water. Angels, devas and the like are entitized forms of spirit. In a sense at least, they collectively constitute a realm of existence complementary to mankind. They are specialized fields of energy which are apparently conscious, but not "free" in a human sense — that is, free to be what they are not. We are told, by seers and even by merely clairvoyant persons, that they constitute hierarchies of energy-distributing forms which sustain all life processes — particularly in the vegetable and telluric realms — as well as protective agencies attached to human beings. Modern psychologists may think of them as symbols of as yet latent powers in man's unconscious. By being aware of their presence and sustaining power a man may avoid the desperate feeling of aloneness and alienation which usually pervades the "night of the soul" and the symbolic forty days in the wilderness.
This third stage symbol comes to those who may greatly, need its reassurance. It is an answer to the symbol of the Crucifixion. The
personal ego-centered feelings may be quartered and destroyed; in
their place man may develop a sense of deep companionship with
consciousnesses which, though utterly different from his, complement
his assuaged mind. He may then realize STRENGTH WITHIN.
PHASE 154 (VIRGO 4°): BLACK AND WHITE CHILDREN PLAY
KEYNOTE: The overcoming of socio-cultural prejudices.
Freedom from all the forms, biases and idiosyncrasies of the particular culture and class in which one has been born and educated is a sine qua non of the consciousness truly "on the Path." The ideal of universal brotherhood underlies all great spiritual teachings, for they all are like branches of the One Tree, Man, in his divine state. This does not mean there are no racial differences, but rather that these differences have a functional value in terms of the whole organism of Man — and of the planet Earth.
At this fourth stage the basic technique which applies to all truly
spiritual progress is clearly stated. Every human being should be seen, approached and warmly met as a "child of God," or in less religious terms as an exemplar of Man. Such a status gives to every social and interpersonal group the character of a BROTHERHOOD.
PHASE 155 (VIRGO 5°): A MAN BECOMING AWARE OF NATURE SPIRITS AND NORMALLY UNSEEN SPIRITUAL AGENCIES.
KEYNOTE: The opening of new levels of consciousness.
In the first of this sequence of five symbols we saw the individual seeking to bring out of everyday contacts a consciousness of significant form and meaning. Now, as the sequence ends, a further stage of realization is shown in its initial and relatively primitive character. The consciousness is gradually reaching beyond physical characteristics and becoming aware of energy processes, i.e. of the dynamism of forces which externalize themselves as life forms.
This is the last stage of the thirty-first five-fold sequence of phases of the cyclic process of consciousness. The mind in its objectivizing and analytical character always tends to give "name and form" (nama and rupa in Sanskrit) to that which it contacts as energy process. It "images forth" energy or feeling, relating it to more or less familiar sense experience. We call this IMAGINATION.
SECOND LEVEL: EMOTIONAL/CULTURAL
PHASE 156 (VIRGO 6°): A MERRY-GO-ROUND.
KEYNOTE: The first experience of the dynamic intensity of life processes and of the possibility of using them to reach a characteristic ego-satisfaction.
Several features connected with the old-fashioned type of merry-go-round should be understood in their deepest symbolism.
Two stages of experience are distinguishable: that in which a very young child is seated with his mother or nurse in an open carriage — the only experience is that of circular, perhaps at first dizzying, movement — and the stage of riding a horse (or some other animal) which often goes up and down as well as around. As the horse always represents the vital energy (later understood as libido or "psychic energy"), the merry-go-round at this stage symbolizes or prefigures the awareness of the cyclicity and the ups and downs of the emotional life. In the fully developed merry-go-round the child on his horse is given some kind of handle to try and catch a ring hanging within his reach at a fixed point just outside the merry-go-round. If he succeeds in this rather difficult operation the child wins a prize or gets a free ride. The symbolism is sexual in its implications, but more generally it implies that any cyclic release of life energy provides us with the opportunity of demonstrating some type of skill and mastery.
This is the first stage of the thirty-second sequence of five symbols. In its broadest sense we see here a characterization of what the developing consciousness (and at a certain level, the "disciple on the Path") experiences: AN OBJECTIVE APPROACH TO THE LIFE FORCE.
PHASE 157 (VIRGO 7°): A HAREM.
KEYNOTE: A fateful (even if sought after) subservience to the vagaries or desires of the emotional nature.
In a sense this symbol is related to the preceding one, while
revealing a deeply contrasting phase of the emotional and cultural life. The experience symbolized here is a passive one, while that for Virgo 6° was intensely dynamic. Yet there may be for the woman in the harem some sort of cyclic pattern and a prize to reach — the sultan's favor. In both cases the motive power is exterior to the experiencer, who is caught in a pattern of forces over which he or she has no control; yet the child may purposefully use his small allowance to get a ride, and the woman may use her charm to attract the attention of her master. The individual in both cases finds himself one with a number of other individuals all seeking or being subjected to the same type of experience or fate.
This second stage symbol contrasts with, but also supplements, that of the first stage. It supplements it in the sense that one may become addicted to the excitement of the merry-go-round of vital emotions and may become a slave to the hope of recapturing the exultation of the initial experiences; yet one may learn how to put to use even the EMPTINESS OF WAITING.
PHASE 158 (VIRGO 8°): A FIVE-YEAR-OLD CHILD TAKES A
FIRST DANCING LESSON.
KEYNOTE: Learning to use one's capacity for emotional
self-expression according to cultural standards.
The process of emotional experiencing under controlled situations is shown now to demand self-induced, active movement; yet the movements are still conditioned, if not totally determined, by cultural and thus collective patterns. The individual can express his own individual character only according to traditional modes. He is still entirely responsible to his teacher or guru. Yet new perspectives are now open to him.
At this third stage of the five-fold thirty-second sequence of symbols we witness at work the transitional phase which may lead to mastery. The child-consciousness is still dominated by some form of authority; but if the child is "five years old," the implication is that he is entering ' the level of conscious manhood, represented by the number 5, the five-pointed star which outlines at least the POTENTIALITY OF INITIATION.
PHASE 159 (VIRGO 9°): AN EXPRESSIONIST PAINTER AT WORK.
KEYNOTE: The urge to express one's individualized sense of value regardless of tradition.
At this stage the individual is seen reacting against cultural
standards and stereotyped ways of interpreting his perceptions.
This is a statement of uncompromising self-reliance, which may even imply a kind of defiance and a challenge to society. The mind is seeking to discover the character of the basic and true foundation of individual selfhood, the AUM tone (or logos) of individual being. In the process, however, what is expressed is usually the reflection of a deep catharsis with emotionally charged and often tragic overtones.
This fourth stage symbol brings to us the hint of a technique of transformation of the personality. What predominates is a sense of inner
conflict and an over-selfconscious attempt at "being oneself." But there is a great difference between being an origin of development pregnant with futurity, and deliberately sought for ORIGINALITY.
PHASE 160 (VIRGO 10°): TWO HEADS LOOKING OUT AND
BEYOND THE SHADOWS.
KEYNOTE: The growth of true understanding, born out of the transcendence of duality even while immersed in the world of duality.
The mind operates inevitably in this world of conflicts, oppositions and duality. Yet when the opposites realize that they are
complementary aspects of the one Reality which sustains and
encompasses all dualistic modes of existence, they are able then to look away from internal conflicts and beyond the shadows these conflicts generate. They may come to realize the One Consciousness-Force, not in Itself (for this is, if not an impossible, at least an inexpressible experience), but as the Creative Unity, the New God, Ishvara, source of a new cycle of manifestation.
This is the last stage of the thirty-second sequence; it leads us to the new sequence, which deals with the characteristic features of the steadily progressing consciousness in the most critical part along its arduous Path toward transformation. In a deep philosophical sense we witness here the mind attempting to jump beyond the very shadow it inevitably casts upon all experiences; i.e. the SELF-TRANSCENDING ACTIVITY OF THE MIND.
THIRD LEVEL: INDIVIDUAL/MENTAL
PHASE 161 (VIRGO 11°): IN HER BABY A MOTHER SEES HER
DEEP LONGING FOR A SON ANSWERED.
KEYNOTE: The Spirit's answer to the vital needs of whatever became individualized out of its infinite ocean of potentialities.
All cycles of manifestation end in an essential duality of "success" and "failure," as every release of new potentiality at the start of a cycle is inevitably polarized in two opposite directions, becoming sharply differentiated at the mystical "separation of the sheep and the goat." But out of duality a new unity eventually is produced: the child, the new God of a new universe. Subconsciously or consciously, during pregnancy, the mother dreams of the son-to-be and the imprint of the dream in time is revealed in the boy's structural being. The true disciple must become the Mother of the living God and should eventually fulfill the great need of humanity and of all his people. MAN is constantly renewed through the great dreams and sacramental pregnancies of all disciples of the One Master.
This is the first stage of the thirty-third five-fold sequence of phases of the cycle. At this stage the power to bring one's dreams and ideals to a clear and sharp focus of mental activity or imagination needs to be developed. It is the power of creative visualization (Kriyashakti) for which a significant word was coined during World War II: IMAGINEERING — a combination of "imagination" and "engineering." Alas, the word was there, but our statesmen failed to incarnate it in deeds.
PHASE 162 (VIRGO 12°): AFTER THE WEDDING, THE GROOM SNATCHES THE VEIL AWAY FROM HIS BRIDE.
KEYNOTE: The penetrating and unveiling power of the trained mind.
In contrast to the preceding symbol we have now a scene stressing a physical action with psychological and/or spiritual overtones. In ancient cosmologies the male god often appears in three roles as son, husband and father of the woman element of
nature. Nature is fulfilled by the human mind and will that overcome her; she resists only better to be subdued by the power that transcends her, and by transcending her gives her a spiritual meaning. The element of "training" in the symbolic scene comes from the fact that there has been a marriage ritual; thus the sociocultural factor is in the background. The teacher-guru is here the priest who has performed the ritual.
At this second stage the rules are reversed, the masculine element assuming the dynamic positive part in the great play of polarity. The masculine act balances the feminine dream visualization. The Keyword is UNVEILING. There can also be an unveiling of mysteries, long protected by secrecy.
PHASE 163 (VIRGO 13°): A POWERFUL STATESMAN OVER-COMES A STATE OF POLITICAL HYSTERIA.
KEYNOTE: The focusing of the collective need for order and structural interdependence into a personage who incarnates the answer to this need.
The husband role of fecundator of nature here takes on a collective social significance. We are at the stage where a powerful realization of the very purpose of the cycle of existence faces the chaotic remains of a dis-structured past. The character of the leader is always delineated by the need, subconscious though it may be, of the unformed agglomeration of entities he is called upon by destiny to lead. In time the leader will be worshiped as the "divine Father" of the society he structured.
At this third stage of the thirty-third sequence we see a new type of characterization of the many-faceted polarization of positive and negative. We have before us a personage endowed with CHARISMA, this elusive and mysterious power that comes from a man's or woman's openness to the power of planetary evolution.
PHASE 164 (VIRGO 14°): AN ARISTOCRATIC FAMILY TREE.
KEYNOTE: A deep reliance upon the ancestral roots of individual character.
Stressed here is the fact that the power available to any man in time of crisis and decision has very deep roots in the past, whether the past of physical ancestry or the past outlined by a series of previous embodiments conditioned by some dominant purpose and by the many-phased development of a particular type of complex character. True spontaneity and creativity are always based on a structured sequence of antecedents if they are at all genuinely spiritual, i.e. if they are able to meet a collective need. Only the actions that are necessary — even if only in the long run — for meeting such a need can actually be called "spiritual."
This fourth stage symbol, strange as it may seem to many people — especially young people of our day — suggests a technique which, at critical times, must be used. It characterizes the means for true "success." One returns to the roots in order to produce the flowering of personality, if this flower is to bring forth a living seed. ROOT POWER is essential to seed-achievement.
PHASE 165 (VIRGO 15°): A FINE LACE HANDKERCHIEF, HEIRLOOM FROM VALOROUS ANCESTORS.
KEYNOTE: The quintessence of deeds well done.
Root strength produces beautiful flowers. The neophyte who
acts with determination, courage and discrimination while following "in the footsteps" of his predecessors receives a symbolic prize from the Brotherhood ready to welcome him when he has fully proven himself on the battlefield where he meets his past, which tries to block his way. The mystic Beloved hands him what she has woven for him out of spiritual threads.
This is the last stage of the thirty-third sequence which also ends the eleventh scene, "Characterization." This scene began with the revelation in a portrait of salient features in a man's face. It ends with symbols which bring out the ultimate validity of the many efforts of generations of men toward the building of a beautiful and significant CULTURE. The Man of Culture is, in the deepest and best sense of the term, the Aristocrat. He is the flowering of a line of ancestors who have accepted responsibility for a group or community. Likewise, the true "disciple" is the blossom that crowns a long series of incarnations.
An Astrological Mandala