Rudhyar - Photo2

Dane Rudhyar


Throughout the past centuries philosophers and wise men, pondering over the many and varied ways in which human beings react to their experiences, have sought to define a few basic types of men according to the characteristic nature of their most familiar responses. Today psychologists and biologists, anthropologists and endocrinologists propound in great detail their own classifications of human types. But what these new categories have gained in precision and analytical subtlety does not suffice to make obsolete the ancient classification of twelve zodiacal types of human beings, with its deep root in a metaphysical and cosmological understanding of the universal patterning of the tides of life and of the creative answer of spirit to human needs.

We do not know where the concept of a twelve-fold cosmos appeared for the first time. We find it abstractly and geometrically defined by Pythagoras and Plato, who probably had inherited it from Egypt or Chaldea, perhaps from still more ancient civilizations. It is logical to assume that the men of the "vitalistic" era of culture and religion, completely absorbed by problems resulting from the cultivation of the land and the raising of yearly crops, found it obvious, in their attempt at grasping the secret of periodicity in nature, to consider the solar year and the cycle of the moon's phases as a basis for calculation. On these two cycles, agricultural man established his calendars; which in turn gave him a sense of mastery over time and seasonal activity - a sense that he had become able to fathom the rhythmic pattern of all creative processes in nature. Having acquired the power to harness the life-force in crop-raising and cattle-breeding, the next step was for him to extend his understanding of nature's rhythm to human nature, for he believed that the universe was one organic whole controlled by divine Powers, and that humanity was an inseparable part of the harmony of this whole.

Because man's universal experience revealed to him a basic contrast between the ordered pageant of dots and discs of light in the sky and the confused, unpredictable and fearful happenings so frequent in the jungle, the forest, or the plains menaced by storms and inundations, the wise men of old quite logically thought that the realm of the sky was the habitat of those Powers ruling over the ordered creative processes of life. Because agricultural communities had naturally come to worship all that related to the propagation of life, men were led to regard the two "Lights" of the sky, the Sun and Moon, as the focal points for the release of the two great creative poles of the universal life-force, male and female. The combination of their yearly and monthly cycles of displacement and transformation gave thus an approximate basis for a twelve-fold pattern: the twelve soli-lunar months.

The Sun, as the male polarity, symbolized the creative power of spirit; the Moon, whose countenance forever varied and, thus varying, seemed to be related to periodical phenomena in the biological and emotional behavior of women and all receptive organisms, was the symbol of organic needs in nature. Twelve times during the year, the Moon vanishes, absorbed as it were in the radiant being of the Sun. Each New Moon came thus to represent a time of spiritual fecundation, when nature was being impregnated by spirit in answer to nature's need. Twelve acts of fecundation - twelve basic needs that had to be filled by appropriate solar "gifts". The progeny of these creative acts was life on earth; it was as well the ebbs and flows of feelings, moods, impulses and inner realizations swaying the inner nature of human beings.

This was the origin of the solar Mystery cults which superseded the older lunar rites. Chaldea may have been the place where the solar pattern of the creative processes gained first its most definite ascendancy; where the solar year prevailed over lunar calendars, and the twelve-fold zodiac to which the Western world has become heir was finally developed. The twelve signs of the zodiac were considered twelve gates through which the creative power of the Sun flows, each gate defining a phase of the total power necessary for the creation of any "microcosm", that is, of any organic whole.

In these ancient days the earth as a whole was understood to be the microcosm - a small concentrate of the entire universe. Humanity, as a kingdom of earth-nature, was the soul of this microcosm; and humanity had to be likewise twelvefold - twelve types of men corresponding to the twelve zodiacal signs. Each type was considered necessary for the development and the harmony of the social whole. Each type had a creative solar function to perform; and this function could be determined by the season of birth of this individual  - that is, by the position of the Sun at birth with reference to the spring equinox, symbol of all creative beginnings. 

This constitutes the foundation of astrology in its simplest form. But we are not concerned here with astrology and the problems it poses to the rationalistic intellect or the credulity of modern man. We are dealing only with psychological symbolism in its most universal and most ancient aspect, with man's attempt to understand human nature and to bring some order to the multiplicity of its responses to life and experience. We are dealing with great Images which are deeply rooted in man's collective unconscious - with universal ideas or archetypes so vital that our Western intellectualism and all the scorn of the modern scientific rationalism have not been able to dim their significance in the eyes of countless millions. We are dealing with spiritual processes which every man can experience if he chooses to open his consciousness to their fecundating and exalting power.

Every human individual, in so far as he can be considered truly a complete and relatively independent whole, is in himself a zodiac. In him can be found all types of human responses to life. In him the characteristic qualities of each of the twelve zodiacal signs operate in varying degrees. However, one, or a very few, of these qualities - these modes of response to the demands of bio-psychic living on earth - predominate. It is such a predominance which determines the type to which the individual belongs - his dominant zodiacal type - just as it is the predominance of similar traits of character which makes of him an extrovert or introvert, a thinking, feeling, sensation or intuition type, according to the psychological classification presented by Carl Jung.

Because each type demonstrates the preponderance of some kind of reaction to life and of some mode of behavior, feeling and thinking, there is always a tendency in every type to exaggerate its characteristic attitudes. This produces disharmony through over-emphasis, illness of body or soul through congestion and malformation caused by the over-development of one function and the resulting under-development of a complementary function. A region of extreme fullness finds itself compensated for by one of emptiness. Brilliancy of mind may cause dullness or darkness of feelings. Health, psychological and biological, can only be regained if some power seeks to re-establish the disturbed functional balance of the total organism of personality by vivifying the under-developed function. This power, in its essential and original manifestation is spirit.


  An Astrological Triptych