In 1973 I began studying astrology from traditional texts. I was fascinated by astrology, but sensed that there was much more to it than I had read. The interpretations given were narrow and quite often negative. Astrology did not correspond with my ideas about life and human potential.
Soon however, I came across The Astrology Of Personality by Dane Rudhyar and my highest hopes were met. In fact, Rudhyar went far beyond what I had hoped for and presented astrology in a profoundly meaningful way. No longer was astrology bound by determinism - it was free to lead the way to the highest expression of human potential. Rudhyar was for me, as for so many other astrologers, the key to the future rather than a weight from the past.
True to his Aries nature, Rudhyar's eyes were always on the future, breaking ground for astrologers, esotericists and thinkers of all kinds. His astrology joined the humanistic tides of this century by placing man at the center of his world and making personal choice the essence of astrological practice. Everything in the birth chart could be seen as potential, not dictated to us by the forces on high. We were no longer pressed to the earth, bound by our charts to the limits of Saturn, the violence of Mars or the confusion of Neptune. Each of us became free to be creators of the 21st century, not captives of the 19th.
Rudhyar transformed astrology's landscape and inspired us to go to the highest in ourselves rather than remain trapped in our ancient world view. Squares and oppositions ceased to be sentences of imprisonment in conflict and became gateways to discovery. All of this was made possible by Rudhyar's creativity and love for humanity. That was his essential gift to us. But, he also left us with the challenge to transform ourselves and to aim for a new vision of astrology and human potential.
In his long career Rudhyar has touched just about every element of astrological practice from houses to planets, signs, aspects and everything else in between. Fundamental to his approach has been a search for meaning, for logical patterns and understanding of the astronomical principles underlying our work.
A good example of this is his work with cycles, particularly the lunation cycle. Rudhyar's work in this area has reminded us to pay attention to the dynamic movement of the planets, to see them as moving rather than static points. In The Lunation Cycle Rudhyar pioneered an eight phase measurement of the Sun and Moon's monthly cycle. No longer were Full Moons described as conflicts between the conscious and unconscious selves. The Full Moon and the other seven phases were described as parts of a process, a dynamic relationship between these two essential bodies. Every phase is seen as coming from somewhere and going somewhere. Astrologers were given guidance in understanding that even if the birth chart is fixed in time and space, we and the planets are not. Working with the lunar phases opened the door to a view of astrology which challenged astrologers to see patterns in new ways.
Rudhyar's work with the lunation cycle has importance far beyond the relationship between the Sun and the Moon. It reminds us to examine all planetary patterns in light of the larger cycles in which they exist. In a sense this has "feminized" astrology which has primarily been dominated by male consciousness for over 2000 years. The masculine approach to life and to astrology has focused on points, on fixed elements for interpretation and control. Males lack a visible monthly cycle which leaves them separated from the dynamics of nature and the cosmos. This has allowed them to act as if they are not part of nature, but outside it and untouched by it. The ecological devastation in which we currently live is one result of this.
But the lunation cycle reminds us that relationships are about connections, about waves, cycles and spirals, not about separate points. As we become more and more conscious of the nature of cycles, we can not help but see ourselves as part of a larger process. Rudhyar, even if intellectual in many ways, has helped us reconnect to the wholeness of existence which can help us heal ourselves and our planet. In this way his work marks a return to an ancient world view in which all living things are connected.
At the same time Rudhyar's work has helped to lead us towards an evolutionary perspective, one in which humanity is in the making and the future is ours to create. His extensive writings on the outer planets, for example, is one of the ways in which he has led us towards a new vision of ourselves. A key in his understanding of the outer planets is their role in transforming the ego-bound self (limited by Saturn) to one of cosmic consciousness.
The process though, is one that paradoxically emphasizes both the individual and the collective. That is, that we each are unique individuals with choices to make about ourselves and our actions. Each of us can and must act to fulfill the potentials as shown in the birth chart. Regardless of cultural or social conditioning, there is an essential human and personal will, which allows us freedom to use our resources in individual ways. But the context for individual expression has collective impact. Thus Rudhyar saw the outer planets as means to evolve beyond the strictly personal and to move to the transpersonal. In this way each of us contributes to collective consciousness and collective growth.
It is important to point out though, that Rudhyar wrote about the importance of culture in relationship to astrology. He said that each culture develops its own astrology. This seemingly simple and logical idea is not found in other astrological literature of this century. In this way Rudhyar reminds us to pay attention to the world we live in. Not to remain enclosed in its parochial perspective, but to understand the inherent limitations it imposes on us. By knowing the prejudices of one's time and place, one can choose to go beyond them.
Rudhyar, trained in music, drew on many sources for his inspiration. He studied theosophy, was conversant with Eastern religious traditions and drew from a variety of philosophical sources. It was because of this breadth of learning and experience that he was able to move from the technical to the spiritual aspects of astrology with such ease. He combined all of his education to bring astrology to a higher level of value for all of us.
Rudhyar's work also challenges us. It does not allow us to retreat into fear and denial. His writings showed a compassion rooted in intelligence, not sentiment, which permitted him to maintain a high level in all of his work. He has asked us to participate in the creation of a new phase of human experience, to come closer to the gods, the highest parts of ourselves. In this way, Rudhyar has brought astrology new value in the 20th century. It is a challenge to be fully human, divinely human.
Some of Rudhyar's ideas are rooted in astronomy, that is to say the physical elements of the planets. His work on the Sun-Mercury relationship, for example, simply divides their cycle astronomically to shed light on their possible relationships. This is not esoteric work, but close to the pure observational astrology of our ancient ancestors. In this way we are reminded of a certain logic and simplicity that allows us to make our own observations and discover additional insights into astrology and ourselves.
We cannot call Rudhyar an "esoteric" astrologer because his work has always been rooted in the concrete and the practical. Neither can we call him a traditional (materialist) astrologer, because he clearly understood that events are the manifestation of meaning. Thus his work covered the range of astrology as has the work of no other astrologer of this century. While his language is sometimes difficult for contemporary astrologers, his meaning is never obscure. He came to show us both the roots of our craft and its potentials as no one else has ever done.
The influence of Rudhyar is so embedded in modern American astrology that people forgot that he was the source of so many ideas and, most importantly, an attitude about human potential. The writings of Stephen Arroyo, to give one example, are full of Rudhyar's understanding of the relationship between soul and psychology. In fact the whole of modern psychological astrology owes a debt to Rudhyar. He has not only written extensively on psychological astrology, but he has built a bridge to spirituality to combine the two.
The direct influence of Rudhyar has become obscured in the U.S. as his ideas were absorbed by others. In Europe, however, the work of his friend and disciple: Alexander Ruperti, continues Rudhyar's work in a more direct way. Ruperti has organized over a dozen groups in France, Spain and Switzerland which study the works of Rudhyar and attempt to apply his principles to everyday life. Alex deserves a special thanks from all astrologers for his devotion and dedication as well as his original contributions to Rudhyar's work! Astrologers and students in this Network for Humanistic Astrology (R.A.H.) strive to transform themselves through astrology. They are inspired by Rudhyar's works to explore themselves in ways which encourage the individual as a means of helping humanity's evolution.
Rudhyar has been called: "Seed Man" which perfectly describes this Aries pioneer who has inspired and educated so many of us. He has presented us with a model of where astrology can go, where humanity can go and, I might add, where we must go if we are to survive and prosper.
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Copyright © 1996 Jeff Jawer
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