Introduction to Esoteric Astrology – Douglas Baker

Among the tombs and temples of the great civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia and India, there once flourished a sacred study of the stars that arose from Man’s innate need to find order and meaning in the universe and within himself. There has always been a corpus of sublime wisdom, as old as Man himself, that periodically emerges from obscurity to shed light upon humanty’s purpose on earth and its relationship to the cosmos. Astrology, in its original and integral expression, played an essential role within this body of high knowledge that prevailed over the ancient world; it shaped its myths and religious rituals, and structured its civilizations so that they might reflect the divine order from which they originated. Above all, it provided individuals with a key to unlock the mysteries of spiritual transformation, long since veiled in the glyph and symbol of the hierophant.

Astrological temples like those at Stonehenge and Karnak were designed to link the rotation of the earth and the movements of the planets to the positions of the stars and thereby to integrate Man himself into the wheels of the grand cosmic scheme. The aberrant form which survives today as orthodox astrology is but a pale candle to the sun of the Egyptian science which developed out of the discoveries made when the truncated platform of the Great Pyramid was first constructed 75,000 years ago an astrology which acknowledged and paid tribute to its divine origin, and an astrology that helped Man to return in consciousness to his own divine origin. With the present exteriorisation of the mysteries, we stand on the verge of restoring this vitally important keystone of ancient wisdom and initiatory discipline. As we move into the New Age of Aquarius, esoteric astrology is becoming increasingly relevant to many more people. For this reason, the term esoteric is rather a misnomer. Instead, we should refer to the new astrology—a much more accurate expression for today’s reformulation of this most ancient art and science.

The high astrology that once graced antiquity may have been lost to recorded history, but something of its nature can be inferred from ancient language itself. These richly symbolic systems of pictogram and hieroglyphic abound with metaphor and analogy, employing the most mundane images to portray abstruse metaphysical realities that would otherwise remain incommunicable to the finite mind of Man. So too, the subject of the new astrology cannot be grasped without an understanding of the nature and function of symbol. Just as mankind is an outer expression of a divine principle, so is everything in our lives—material object, concept, attitude, everything is a symbol which can point to a deeper layer of meaning the closer we trace it to its origin or archetype. In other words, nothing exists without being linked to images or concepts which lead, ultimately, to the divine. One of the main functions of the new astrology is to trace an aspect from the horoscope to its divine origins, so that the Soul may respond from Its planes of Will, Love and Higher Thought, and thus guide the Personality in a relevant and meaningful direction, according to the Soul’s Purpose. The tool developed by the author and Claregate College for most effectively tracing symbols in such a way, is the permutation.

The term aspect is used in the new astrology to mean a group of glyphs combining planets, signs and houses, and not in the sense of the angular relationship between planets. In the new astrology, a permutation is a sentence constructed from the symbols represented in an astrological aspect.

Permutations in Basic Symbols

The definition of a permutation is a “variation of the order of a set of things”, or “a selection of items from a larger group”. In the new astrology we derive a series of permutations of an aspect in order to amplify its meaning. We take a selection of basic symbols or keywords for each glyph in an aspect and combine them in a variety of ways that make meaningful sentences. They are permutations of meaning. By using different symbols in different orders we change the meaning. Permutations are the means by which we translate an astrological aspect into English, with a host of derivations, from the mundane to the most spiritual.

Lists of basic symbols or keywords will be given out in the coming weeks so that you can have your own lists for doing chart interpretations.

Chart Interpretation

The new astrology teaches us to think in categories. There are no hard and fast rules, for each chart is as existential as the person to whom it belongs. Therefore chart interpretation is not simply a pat process of memorising astrological formulae or stock meanings for aspects—it is far more layered and specific than that. In homeopathy and alternative methods of medicine, the same diagnosed disease may be treated very differently for different individuals. So too, the interpretation of an aspect is liable to vary from individual to individual.

The traditional approach to interpretation comprises elements of the permutative method but in this case, the construction of sentences from key words tends to be prescribed within the narrow and formalised bounds of the lower, rational mind. The rich field of symbolism—where the higher mental functions operate—is largely ignored. In the orthodox method, the meaning of a particular aspect is deduced from general principles. In theory, each planet is said to embody a “principle” or psychological drive. The “mode” of its expression is different when found in different signs of the zodiac, and the houses of the chart represent the different “spheres of life-activity” in which the modified planetary principle manifests.

Key concepts for planet, sign and house are regarded as distinct, and through their various combinations, the astrologer will deduce factual statements about the individual.

From this formula has evolved a body of “academic” astrology—an edifice of theoretical meanings for aspects, built out of relatively inert “blocks” of concrete thought—and occasionally enlivened by an inspired author. The greater the reputation, the more fixed and established the “meaning” becomes in the mind of the astrological community. It would not matter at all, if intellect was the highest faculty available to the astrologer. Unfortunately, to rely solely on the application of theoretical clichés (that have lost touch with the living source of meaning) for interpretation is to neglect the delicate nuances of meaning filtering down from the subtle levels of the mind, and to exclude the possibility of true intuitive insight. Real meaning is derived not from any one book of astrology or computer database, but from the living source of meaning within the astrologer from faculties that transcend the intellect.

“Knowledge has three degrees: opinion, science, illumination. The means or instrument of the first is sense; of the second dialectic; of the third, intuition.”

Plotinus, Letter to Flaccus

Sometimes the mistake is made of trying to practise esoteric astrology with a traditional approach to interpretation but using higher, esoteric meanings for the planets, signs and houses. Even where intuition enters into the reading it still centres around already established formulations. The vibrance and mercurial qualities of the intuitive mind demand an astrology of the same order—an astrology flexible enough to admit the subtle meaning and numinous energies of the higher mental subplanes into the interpretation.

In the new astrology, symbols are shared by the sign, planet and house of the same astrological category. The theoretical distinction between sign, planet and house is not denied and we should be aware of those distinctions when reading a chart; but the living expression of their interaction in symbol, language and event, does not always adhere to the classifications as rigidly as orthodoxy would have us believe.

The higher mind operates at archetypal levels and thinks in terms of “categories of thought”, sharing living symbols which are common to all levels of expression of the same archetype, and presents them to one’s consciousness in visual images.

For instance, Jupiter represents the principle of “expansion”; it is benign, jovial and fortunate, and from these characteristics key words are derived. However, to the chagrin of the orthodox, Jupiter may breach the classification barriers and manifest in things normally associated with its natural sign and house: Aquarius and the Eleventh House. If the higher Self is prepared to use them as visual images, then we, too, may use such symbols as stairs, waves, friends, dearest hopes and wishes, etc, to represent Jupiter in a permutation, thereby widening the possibilities in interpretation. As far as the higher Self is concerned, wherever Jupiter is in the horoscope, there also are Aquarius and the Eleventh House. It has a synthetic and wholistic perception of the chart in terms of categories of thought, which overshadows the distinctions and differentiations that are the domain of the analytical lower mind.

The new astrology uses the esoteric planetary rulerships as proposed by Alice A. Bailey:

Sign Ruling Planet House
Aries Mercury First
Taurus Vulcan Second
Gemini Venus Third
Cancer Neptune Fourth
Leo Sun Fifth
Virgo Moon Sixth
Libra Uranus Seventh
Scorpio Mars Eighth
Sagittarius Earth Ninth
Capricorn Saturn Tenth
Aquarius Jupiter Eleventh
Pisces Pluto Twelfth

There are other mechanisms connecting images to glyphs, besides traditional rulership, such as morphology (shape related to function) and symbolism. Morphologically, Jupiter may manifest in shapes which resemble its glyph ‘s‘ swan, a yacht, or a jug, etc. The higher Self may portray Jupiter in any of the above ways to communicate its meaning in a lucigram: – a light message. A visual image from the higher Self portraying a message or picture.

The particular forms that Jupiter takes will not only be unique to the individual, but they will be related to the whole chart under consideration. It is through direct contact with the living source of meaning that those who practise the new astrology will derive existential and highly personalised symbols for glyphs and aspects.

This is how real meaning is derived—through the active participation of the astrologer’s higher Self in the interpretation. There is no doubt that true statements can be made about the individual through the traditional method; however, in the new astrology, interpretation is opened up, a much wider range of derivatives of an aspect is encouraged, and the higher Self is invited to take part in the process. A series of permutations in basic symbols provides a labile pool of possibilities upon which the intuitive mind can play, deriving deeper and deeper meanings as the aspect is traced to its source.

It cannot be emphasised too strongly that what we are learning in the new astrology is a new language of symbols with which we will eventually be able to communicate with the higher Self—that immortal part of ourselves whose only means of communication with us is through imagery.

In the words of Aristotle, “The Soul never thinks without an image.” Additionally, by becoming proficient in the astrology we will be able to translate the high wisdom of the soul and offer sound, practical advice to individuals who are seeking guidance and insight that would otherwise be unavailable to them, unavailable certainly in as specific, relevant and spiritually meaningful a capacity as this, the new astrology.

“I am working on the clefs and symbols of a universal language (of the causal world) for expressing all intellectual concepts, artistic values and spiritual encounters, reducing them thus to a common denominator an astrological key. The meaning of life cannot be taught in any other way. It is a LINGUA SACRA . . . In the expression of this universal language we are synthesizing the new universal religion for all mankind.”

The Nirmanakaya who was Plato, 1991

Life after life, we pass around the great wheel of the zodiac, incarnating in the twelve signs, unfolding the qualities of the Soul. The signs are our spiritual needs. They are the dimensions of evolution, the ways in which we can grow. The houses show those areas of life in which the signs seek expression and development. They describe the experiences and circumstances of everyday reality through which we learn the lessons of all twelve signs and grow and develop accordingly. Without teachers in the school there can be no lessons. The planets represent personality functions or energies which initiate the activities that provide learning experiences, helping us to develop consciousness and fulfil our potential. The planets are intermediaries that bring the influence of the signs down to us, pervading our lives with their spiritualising energies. They link the spiritual factors behind life’s expression to everyday experience. Signs are remote and set in the heavens, but the planets are nearby and less impersonal—as witnessed by their personification in the influential gods of Greek and Roman mythology, actively engaged in human affairs.

The Soul’s Purpose

Today more and more people are searching for direction in life, trying to find that which they call their thing. They find themselves wandering aimlessly, not knowing which way to turn, blundering down blind alleys and dead-end streets. Eventually, some turn to such things as orthodox astrology, in the hope that at least here they may be able to find that much-needed direction. Instead they are informed of things they already know, of matters pertaining to their simple mundane needs such as money and relationships. It tells them nothing of their spiritual needs, of spiritual wealth and how they might acquire it, of the higher relationship which exists between them and their Soul or higher Self that can infuse their lives with energy and meaning. Such is the function of Soul’s Purpose Astrology.

Each individual has their own unique Soul’s purpose, that which is necessary for the fulfilment of their lives, and without which they feel lost and alienated from the world. It is a purpose which has been implanted within them from the moment of birth, and its application in the world is the reason for their existence. The problem arises when, as in many instances, that Soul’s purpose becomes lost through the passage of time and the circumstances of life. It is, however, always there, locked deep within them, and one key whereby this knowledge may be unlocked is through an esoteric understanding of the horoscope. Such a method has now been established in the world—the new astrology, the astrology of the Soul.

THE FUNCTION OF THE NEW ASTROLOGY is to recognize the purpose of the soul functioning within a personality and then to give the necessary advice, based on an interpretation of the birth chart, as to how the personality drives can be directed into paths which are compatible with and can eventually be under the direction of the indwelling soul.

Contents Copyright ©1997, Baker Publications. All Rights Reserved.

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