THE SOLSTITIAL GATES OF THE WORLD CROSS
Our goal is to explain some of the contradictions inherent in the traditional symbolism of the zodiac, there is no better place to start than with the confusion of tongues generated by that most contradictory of all traditional symbologists, Rene Guenon, (hereinafter R.G.).
One favorite epistemological approach R.G. utilizes can be called the "First Confuse, then Explain with less than an answer" doctrine. This leaves the reader with a poor understanding and a feeling of stupidity, both of which were probably intended by him.
For example, in dealing with the traditional symbolism of the annual solar cycle of the tropical zodiac, R.G. discusses the contradictions between the placement of the gates of entry to the north/south polar axis as they relate to the SOLSTITIAL GATES. In an article by that name, he criticizes the traditional occult designations known to Western occultism since the time of Macrobius and Porphyry, as the Gate of the Sun (God) and the Gate of Man.
Traditionally, the Gate of Man was that zodiacal house where the soul, before birth and intended for incarnation on earth, would descend into the moon sphere waiting for re-birth. The Gate of the Sun was that zodiacal house wherein the human soul, after death, would ascend into the planetary spheres beyond the moon sphere, for its sojourn thru the spiritual worlds, to meet God. Other than the 19th century occult attempt within Spiritualism to identify the loka of deceased human souls as solely residing within the moon sphere, the Ancient Wisdom taught that the soul after death, traveled first, to the successive spheres of moon-mercury-venus-sun on its outward journey. During this ascending stage, the soul reflected on and paid penance for the sins of the past life. This ascending stage ended with what was called "cosmic midnight."
Thereafter, the second half of the souls journey began wherein the soul descended thru the same spheres again on its downward path into incarnation on earth and passing thru the Gate of Man to enter the moon sphere to await rebirth with millions of other souls. While during the first half of the journey, the soul reflected upon and suffered for the sins of its past life, during the second half the soul takes in those forces necessary to build up his future astral, etheric and physical bodies. These forces include both preparing its future karma and learning the wisdom taught by the spirits residing in the different planetary spheres. For example, if one's future karma demanded a person to become a physician, he must learn medicine and spend time within the sphere of Mercury with the archangel Raphael.
In between the ascending and descending transits, in order to build up its future bodies, the soul must also travel into the sphere of the zodiac wherein the creative forces of the human melothesia reside. Thus, after the soul's stay in heaven/devachan, it travels thru the spheres of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn to build up the triad of its higher spiritual bodies, Manas, Buddhi and Atma (at the present time, these visits are brief or existent for most persons, since these bodies are very undeveloped). Then, the soul must procure a guide and make the jump from Saturn into the sphere of the zodiac.
R.G. in his analysis of the Western tradition says that Proclus, Porphyry, Macrobius and Numenius all confuse and contradict the traditional Greek doctrine of Pythagoras. Of modern occultists he says, "the incomprehension of modern academics create divergences and contradictions, which are really not there at all."
The problems that are "really not there at all", of course, disappear when one considers the Hindu doctrine of Diva/Pitri Yana. In explaining his own traditional forms, R.G. First confuses, then gives a less than satisfactory answer. Consider first the analogy:
"The gate of Men and the Gate of the gods, inevitably must correspond to the two solstices. We must now state more explicitly that the first corresponds to the summer solstice, or to the sign of Cancer and the second to the winter solstice, or the sign of Capricorn. In order to understand the reason for this, it is necessary to refer to the division of the annual cycle into two halves, the one ascending and the other descending. The first is the period of the movement of the sun towards to the north, going from winter to summer solstice,; the second is that of the movement of the sun towards the south, going from the summer to the winter solstice. In the Hindu tradition, the ascendant phase relates to the deva-yana and the descendant phase to the pitri-yana which coincides exactly with the designations of the two gateways we have just mentioned."
Then, the consider the confusion when R.G. says exactly the opposite:
"The solstitial gate of winter, or the sign of Capricorn, corresponds to the North in the annual cycle, but to the south as regards the path of the sun in the heavens; similarly, the summer solstitial gate, or the sign of Cancer, corresponds to the South in the annual cycle and to the North as regards the path of the sun. This is why, while the ascendant movement of the sun goes from south to North, and its descendant movement from North to South, the ascendant period of the year must be regarded, on the contray as being accomplished in moving from North to south and its descendant period in moving from South to North."
In addition, her further confuses the matter by saying:
"After being manifested here in a certain state, this (human) being will go out from it by one of the two gates according to the spiritual degree which it has reached. In one case, that of pitri-yana, it will have to return to another state of manifestation which naturally will be represented by a re-entry into the cosmic cave. In the other case, on the contrary, that of the deva-yana, there is no further return to the manifested world. One of these two gates is thus both an entry and an exit, while the other is a final exit."
Thus, the gate of pitri-yana is a gate for a series of individual incarnations and the gate of deva-yana serves as the gate at the end of the cycle of incarnations, a final exit.
After a criticism of the traditional Western occult forms, he explains the superiority of the Hindu system, but with a less than satisfactory answer:
"The solution of this difficulty lies in the distinction that can be made between the 'celestial' order to which the progress of the sun belongs, and the terrestrial' order to which belongs the succession of the seasons."
But in this answer does lie the wisdom of the solution. For in the "celestial" order (the path of the sun in the heavens) we have the sun's movement in the sidereal zodiac and in the terrestrial" order (the path of the sun in the annual cycle), we have the sun's motion in the tropical zodiac. Using the distinctions established in our (above) discussion of the differences between the two zodiacs, we should be able to make sense out of this intentional confusion.
First, in relation to the tropical zodiac, we can establish a North/South polar axis as the winter/summer solstitial axis and an East/West horizontal axis as the vernal/autumnal equinoctial axis. Together they form a relatively vertical axis in the shape of the cross. At the winter solstice is the house of Capricorn and at the summer solstice is the house of Cancer. Thus, the ascendant cycle, going from south to north, corresponds to our " Breath of the Earth " as inhalation. The descendant cycle, going from north to south, corresponds to our breath of the earth, as exhalation. The maximum peak of inhalation being the winter solstice and the maximum peak of exhalation, being the summer solstice.
Thus, for R.G. and the Vedantic symbolism, the gateway of deva-yana is situated towards the north and the gateway of deva-yana is situated towards the south, In fact, the cross that symbolizes the annual cycle of the tropical zodiac, is not exactly perpendicular as we described above. Its actual shape is what Madame H.P.B. calls the "decussated cross in space" which Plato described as "the second god who impressed himself on the universe in the shape of a cross." This Platonic symbol of the Second Logos crucified as the world soul upon the world cross in space is the origin of all symbolism of the cross and the crucifixtion.
R.G. recognizes this fact of the world cross not being exactly perpendicular but more in the shape of an elliptical cross, like this, "X", when he says:
"It can be said with still greater precision, that the gateway of the gods is at the north and turned towards the east which is always considered as the side of light and life and that the gateway of men is at the south and turned towards the west, which is considered as the side of darkness and death."
Thus, in our Western tradition, the Greeks described the "descent into generation" into re-birth, by the tropical gate of Cancer and the "ascent to god" of the soul after death, by the tropical gate of Capricorn, in which the soul ascends into the spiritual ether of the planetary spheres.
Therefore, the traditional symbolism of the gate of god to the north in Capricorn and the gate of men to the south in Cancer, is nothing more than our annual ascending and descending phases of the tropical zodiac. Furthermore, it is within this zodiac that occurs the souls cycles of regular incarnations, prior to the "final exit." Hopefully, we now have a simple explanation based upon our (above) distinctions between the two zodiacs.
But what is the significance of the reversed polarity described by Porpyry when, first, the gate of Cancer is in the north and the gate of Capricorn is in the South? And second, what is the significance of the final exit thru the gate of deva-yana when there is no further return to the manifest world?
To answer these two questions do we really need R.G.'s explanation that, "According to the general law of analogy, these two orders must be, in their very correlation, the inverse of one another, in such a way that what is highest in the one becomes in the lowest in the other, according to the Hermetic dictum of the EMERALD TABLE." I hope not!!!
The answer to the first question is also very simple, for what is the reverse of the tropical zodiac ? The sidereal zodiac, of course. Transposing our elliptical cross of the tropical zodiac over to the axial plane of the sidereal zodiac, gives us the symbolism of Porpyry with the reversed polarity of ascending and descending forces. Now we can say that the ascending forces of the sidereal sun "in the heavens" goes from north to south and the descending forces of the sidereal sun goes from south to north. Then our two gates are reversed in direction to accomadate the clock-wise direction of the sidereal sun in celestial longitude as opposite to the counter-clockwise direction of the tropical sun in its annual course in celestial latitude. It should be kept in mind that when we speak of the reversed polarity of the gates in the sidereal zodiac, we no longer are talking about the gate of pitri-yana and the regular cycle of incarnations, but of the other gate, that of the final exit.
What is the meaning of the "final exit" at the gate of deva-yana, when there is no further return to the manifest world? We saw that the tropical zodiac was a symbol for the cycle of individual incarnations of the soul which necessarily must enter and exit many times over the course of the reincarnating ego. However, there comes an end to this cycle, which for Buddha, was his entrance into Nirvana, after which there is no further return into manifestation. The cycle of earth lives is over. For other human souls who achieve less than perfection, one can either use up its allotment and wait for the next manvantara or fall out of evolution completely.
The sidereal zodiac controls the souls celestial paths of incarnation. IDEALLY, the souls paths of incarnation
follows the houses of the zodiac in the reversed order of the sidereal zodiac over the course of cosmic time in
the 25,920 year cycle of the great solar sidereal year. The Divine Plan laid down by the Spirits of Form intended
each cycle of incarnation to last approximately the 2,160 years of the cycle of the Spirits of the Age. Thus, the
soul in passing thru its regular cycle of incarnations within the tropical zodiac sphere, returns 12 times in cycles
based upon the sun's progression thru the vernal equinox from one house to the next.
Again, ideally, Dr. Steiner explained that if the soul spends about one-third of his lifetime in Kama-loka or purgatory, this would amount to about thirty years for the average person. The Divine Plan provided for the soul to spend about twelve times as much time in each of the remaining spheres or about 360 years each. As the soul passes in both directions thru the three spheres of the first, second and third Angelic Hierarchies, this would constitute six cycles in all. Three spheres in the ascending phase (reflecting and repenting for the past sins of karma) and three spheres in the descending phase (building up the cosmic bodies for the next incarnation). Between the outward journey and the backward journey, the soul would spend about 2,160 years, plus or minus the 30 years spent in Kama-loka. However, for modern man, the length of each incarnation has been considerably shortened for the following reasons.
Of course, it is the history of evil that road blocks are laid against the path of the Divine Plan of the Elohim. The first cause of the shortened return was made by the Elohim itself as a response to the invading of the astral body by the Luciferic spirits during the middle of the Lemurian Age. YHVH, as Elohim, actually caused the "fall into generation" by establishing the physical process of heredity to give incarnating souls many chances thru repeated earth lives in order to purify the invaded astral body. Repeated earth lives in itself was the actual solution created by the Elohim to fulfill the redemption of Lucifer, which redemption began at the crucifixation of Christ. Thus, when the Lemurian androgyne split into two soul mates, each male and female, the period in incarnation was halved into a period of 1080 years for each male/female incarnation.
The second act has evolved over time by the influences of Ahriman pulling the soul back towards earth for grounding in earthly materiality. This occurs most frequently in the period after the Cosmic Midnight when the length of stay in the third Hierarchy is deliberately shortened by the forces of Ahriman. For example, a criminal who has not controlled his animal impulses and lives within the instincts and passions of the (Apocalypse) Beast, will incarnate much sooner than normal. His travel into the Third Hierarchy within the spheres of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be outright rejected.
This is also true for a person with strong materialist tenancies. The higher triad of spiritual bodies are so undeveloped, that there are no developed corresponding spiritual organs to take in the impulses available there. In fact, the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter serves as a barrier to prevent souls from going to these higher spheres of the third Hierarchy until the souls have evolved sufficiently. Thus, Dr. Steiner says that the normal length of time between incarnations for modern man has been reduced to about 700 or 800 years, even shorter for those persons above described. There are of course, good people who have a shortened cycle, these being persons on a special spiritual mission that was not completed.
It can now be said that when a person has completed his allotted cycle of incarnations in the sidereal zodiac, the soul passes thru the deva-yana gate and will not return earth life. This is what R.G. called the final exit. It is reflected in the sidereal zodiac when Porpyry describes the gate of Cancer that is in the north and the opposite gate of Capricorn that is in the south. The confusion caused by the reversed polarity occurs because the authors fail to distinguish between the two zodiacs.
Further, the course of incarnations within the sidereal zodiac are governed by what Dr. Steiner calls the "Spirits of the Rotation of Times" (presumably, the Spirits of Motion ranked in the middle of the second angelic Hierarchy). The original Divine Plan provided for the spirits of Wisdom to control the incarnation of the "human individuality". However, since these spirits are primarily interested in Wisdom, as such, they would have pressed together all possible human perfections gained from repeated earth lives into ONE single incarnation. This, of course, would have made man infinitely wise, but only at the expense of Love. What a man in his "personalty" develops thru the element of love over time and repeated earth lives, is enduring for his individuality. Therefore, the Divine Plan was changed to allow repeated earth lives of the personalty (ego) to develop the impulse of love, which is the leading characteristic of this Earth manvantara. Steiner says that "the spirits of Wisdom became Spirits of the Rotation of Times" so that "the successive incarnations of man were regulated in the successive revolutions of time which were again regulated through the course of the stars."
These stars are, of course, the stars of our sidereal zodiac. The human "personalty" of successive earth lives is the incarnating ego within the cycles of pitri-yana. It is the human "individ-uality" that is the eternal higher ego radiating forth as the Buddhi principle which exits at the end of the great cycle thru the gate of deva-yana.
In conclusion, we have tried to show that if one preserves the distinction between the tropical and sidereal zodiacs, the confused symbolism of the solstitisal gates becomes clear. It is the tropical zodiac that serves as the background within the larger solar sidereal cycle for the entry and exit into the limited cycle of repeated earth lives. Herein, Capricorn serves as the winter gate and Cancer as the summer gate, both being pitri-yana. It is the sidereal zodiac that serves as the background for the regulation of individual incarnations, according to the cosmic cycle of the great solar sidereal year, at the end of which, the soul makes its final exit thru the gate of deva-yana, into higher manifestation. This cycle of incarnations precessing through out the sidereal zodiac is what is known as the "12 Initiations into the Zodiac."
THE BREATH OF THE EARTH CYCLE
We made reference in the last section about the ascendant cycle, going from summer solstice to winter solstice, corresponding to our "breath of the earth", as inhalation. And the descendant cycle, going from winter solstice to summer solstice, corresponding to our "breath of the earth", as exhalation.(see BREATH OF THE EARTH plat)
Also, when speaking of the differences between the two zodiacs, we said that the annual cycle of the tropical zodiac was one "earth breath", while one degree of the cycle of the sidereal zodiac was 72 earth breaths. Likewise, 360 degrees of the sidereal zodiac is equal to 25,920 earth breaths.
Now, the cycle of light within the tropical zodiac goes from equinox to equinox, while the cycle of the earth's breath goes from solstice to solstice. As symbols of the winter and summer solstice, we have Christmas and St. John's day. We have discussed what happens in nature during the equinox cycle, but what happens during the solstitial cycle ?
As a human, we breathe air in and out over a rythym of approximately 25,920 times per day. This way our microcosmic daily cycle comes related to our macrocosmic solar sidereal year cycle. But, the earth also breaths in and out, not with air, but with the forces of elementary nature spirits.
At Christmas time, the elementary soul forces of the earth are totally inhaled or fully in-breathed, just as in a man whose breath is fully inhaled. For good reason, the birth of Christ is celebrated at this time of the year, even though it is more likely, He was actually born at midnite around December 6/7. The Ancient Wisdom recognized that at the winter solstice, the entire soul element of the earth was entirely contained within itself.
Just the opposite occurs at the summer solstice, celebrated as the pagan Midsummer and the Christian St. John's day. At this time, the earth has totally exhaled or fully out-breathed. All the elementary soul forces that were once contained within the earth at winter solstice, are poured forth into cosmic space.
Ahriman is that leading spirit of the earth whose being and body consists of the combined forces of all the elementary spirits of nature. He is that true being of nature thru which the angelic hierarchies make use of his spirit to produce the phenomenon of nature. These elementary nature spirits are breathed out during the spring to cause the "growth" cycle of nature within the tropical zodiac. During the fall, these same elementary spirits cause the "decay" cycle in nature. Thus, at the summer solstice, the earth is fully Ahrimanized and at the winter solstice, the earth is fully, for lack of a better word, Christianized.
Between the twin peaks of the solstices, the Ancient Wisdom recognized that it was the archangel Michael who fought the forces of Ahriman, symbolized as the dragon. For this reason, the festival of St. Michael was placed near the fall equinox on September 29th. Then, Michael could purify the earthly Ahrimanic forces of decay and death before the normal inhalation cycle is completed. As Christmas approaches, the forces of the dragon lie beneath His feet and Michael unites with the inhaling breath of the earth, so that the winter festival is as pure as the snow that covers the earth in celebration.
These festivals of Christmas, St. John's day and St. Michael's day are all fixed, but in the spring, the Easter festival is moveable, to accommodate the cosmic date of the Neomenia. Spring, is the release of elementary nature spirits from the breath of the earth and does actually begin on the Neomenia, the first new moon after the vernal equinox. However, it came to be celebrated as the Christian festival of Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
Easter is not meant to celebrate the first day of spring, but the first SUN-Day to celebrate the resurrection of the Sun-Spirit, Christ, in his victory over death. The ascending cycle from winter to summer solstice, is a cycle of exhalation for the earth. The Ancient Wisdom recognized that: (1) the out-flowing forces of the sun coming towards the earth and (2) the out-flowing forces of the earth, unite at Easter time. Since Easter is a celebration of the united sun and earht forces, the Ancient Wisdom did not want any interference coming from the forces of the moon. For this reason, Easter was set after the first full moon, so that the out-pouring forces of the earth at Easter would not be reflected back towards the earth by the mirror-like face of the full moon and interfering with the cosmic union of the earth and sun forces.
This secret of the Ancient Wisdom was a battleground between Roman and Celtic Catholicism over the fixing of the date for Easter, particularly in the event that the first Sunday and the first full moon fell on the same day. The Celtic practice was to celebrate Easter on the Sunday of a full moon, while the Roman practice was to postpone Easter until one week later, after the full moon. Although the Roman church fathers made many mistakes in applying the Ancient Wisdom to ecclesiastical events, they were correct on this issue and prevailed at the great council of 664 AD held by King Oswy.
The Easter celebration also marked a transition for the Ancient Mystery tradition from lunar consciousness to solar consciousness. Prior to the mystery of Golgotha, Easter, as a celebration of "Death and Resurrection", was a mystery directed at the moon influences controlling nature. The revelations of the Sun-Spirit were seldom experienced by direct observation of the sun, (eg., the Celtic dolmens) but always experienced indirectly as reflections from the moon. It is in this sense that Dr. Steiner always referred to the moon Elohim, YHVH, as the reflected Christ.
In the pre-Christian era, the mystery of Death and Resurrection was celebrated during the fall equinox as the Adonis Festivals of Asia Minor. Exoterically, a sculptured image of Adonis was lowered into a lake (as a symbol for the cosmic ether) and left there for three days while the citizens prayed and acted remorseful. Afterwards, the icon was drawn out of the lake and the citizens celebrated with parties and festivities. Esoterically, the initiate was laid in a coffin for three days, during which time his Hierophant took him on tour of the spiritual worlds. First, the etheric body was directed to experience the elementary etheric sphere between the earth and the moon. This experience corresponds to death itself, when after the death of the physical body, the etheric body reviews the memory tableau of the past life and then disperses into the etheric sphere. Afterwards, the astral body and ego were directed to experience the astral spheres between the moon and sun. The final initiation was the single experience of Christ in the sun sphere and the successful candidate was henceforth referred to as a "Christophoros."
For the initiate, the return to the physical body after the three coffin days in the spiritual world, corresponds to a "resurrection" in which he was "born again." In present day, the etheric body can no longer be separated from the physical body without causing death, so this form of initiation can no longer take place. However, the astral body and ego still separate every nite during sleep.
The Adonis mysteries were "solar" in direction and experience while, the Ephesus mysteries of Diana and Artemis were "lunar" in orientation. During the greater solar Egyptian mysteries of Osiris, the initiates learned that Christ could no longer be found in the sun sphere, since He had begun His veiled descent thru the planetary spheres to earth for incarnation. After the mystery of Golgotha, the solar initiates realized that Christ was both that former Sun-Spirit as well as the Nathan Jesus. Henceforth, these initiates decided to transfer the mysteries of Death and Resurrection from the fall equinox to the vernal equinox of the Easter festival and celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Christ. In doing this, the orientation of initiatic wisdom changed from the moon sphere to the sun sphere.
Unfortunately, this mystery wisdom of Christ as the Sun-Spirit known to the early (solar) church fathers became suppressed and destroyed during the 4th century Romanization of the Catholic church. However, the souls of these cosmic Christians went on to participate in the school of St. Michael in heaven during the 15th-16th-17th centuries and they still incarnate on earth within the Platonic stream. Fortunately, over the centuries, Easter remains still a remembrance of the Death and Resurrection, although it has lost its cosmic significance.
In conclusion, when we look at the cycle of light of the tropical zodiac, we see ascending and descending forces centered around the equinoxes. In the annual cycle of the Breath of the Earth, we see the same ascending and descending cycles, but they are centered around the solstices. Instead of a cycle of light which derives from the sun forces, we see a cycle of elementary nature spirits that derives from the earth forces of Ahriman. What scientists now call "nitrogen fixing bacteria", the peasant wisdom called gnomes, which do their work in winter time when these elementary beings are trapped inside the inhaled breath of the earth. This is why the peasants fertilized in the fall and not in the spring, as in the modern method.