SEPARATION IN THE MICROCOSM
From the Prima Class we have learnt that the 3 essential steps of the Alchemical process are:
We are all familiar with what this means in the physical laboratory, particularly in dealing with the herbal kingdom, but it will also prove useful to try and understand what these 3 processes mean in the Microcosm.
By the Microcosm, I mean Man himself, the inner Man, his soul or consciousness.
The Macrocosm being all that which lies outside of the body of Man.
It is essential to understand and Work the 3 steps in the Microcosm and Macrocosm simultaneously
Since if one aspires to the perfection of the Philosopher's Stone, it cannot be made materially in the Macrocosm until one becomes The Stone in the Microcosm.
Now what do these steps mean in the Microcosm?
SEPARATION in the Microcosm means the removal of our identification of Self with our ego and the identification of Self with our source or God.
Thus the separation is from our ego or that part of us which identifies with the duality of the material world with its associated beliefs and emotions.
Paradoxically, this separation leads to a union. When operating from the Divided or Higher Self there is no identification with negative emotions or with prejudicial belief structures and the Self can then operate in the material world with clear sight (clairvoyance) and True Objectivity and thus with True Action. When one is in this state of consciousness, it could be said that one is in this world but is not of this world.
How do we achieve this Separation?
The answer from many sources of wisdom is predominantly by SELF-OBSERVATION.
This of course can take many forms and is practised by all religions in a great variety of disciplines of the mind, body and emotions.
These methods attempt to contact, utilize, evoke and develop the Higher Self within, at the same time quieting the emotions and beliefs of the Reactional Self or Ego.
A simple approach to self-observation is the exercise of the "Watchman" as described by Ouspensky, whereby one attempts each day to separate or stand aside from oneself and the World as a Watcher or observer. Ouspensky called this Self-remembering.
Its characteristic feature being the division of attention. He presented this in the following way:
"When I observe something, my attention is directed towards what I observe - a line with one arrowhead:
I ---------------> the observed phenomena
When at the same time, I try to remember myself, my attention is directed both towards the object observed and towards myself. A second arrowhead appears on the line:
I <--------------> the observed phenomena
Having defined this I saw that the problem consisted in directing attention on oneself without weakening or obliterating the attention directed on something else. Moreoever this 'something else' could as well be within me as outside me."
The "Watchman" exercise may also be performed in the following way:
Let the body come in view (that is, become aware of the feet on the ground, the back against the seat, the breathing in the chest, the tension in the neck, the activity of the hands, etc.)
Let the awareness open out (i.e., be aware of all the senses, the sights and sounds all around, the smells and general feeling of the total environment). maintain this dual awareness of the self and environment Tor as long as possible. This causes the ceaseless activity of the mind and emotions to fall silent. Initially it is very difficult to maintain this attention of self-observation for more than a minute or two.
However, even regular attempts at this brings increased awareness of the way we think and the origin of our emotions. This observation will reveal how we are controlled by habitual and automatic thought, belief and emotional patterns which have no basis in reality; that we are quite enslaved by much of our conditioned beliefs and have no consistent Will but instead many little wills which each take control over us at different times according to what particular belief or associated emotion is in control at that time. Practise of the exercise as a conscious Witness during relating with others can also be very enlightening, particularly when we follow through as to why we acted or reacted in such a way to such an interaction with another.
Equally, observation of the outside World shows us the perpetual interplay of opposing factors in the world of duality of Nature and Man's affairs of politics and power, diverse cultures and religions, Unions and employers, Science and the Arts, physical laws, etc. Such observation can quickly teach us not to identify with such duality or the fashion of the day.
Another modern teacher, Paul Solomon, shows a selfobservation process for dealing with emotion. His precept is that all negative emotion arises solely because of an associated false belief. His technique is to detect the "trigger" at the point of the arising of the emotion. The "trigger" encounter will show what belief is being challenged to cause the emotion.
The growth value of this technique lies in being able to rid oneself of the belief which then eliminates the emotional response. Unfortunately, most of us are full of irrational belief which is the basis of all our fears, jealousies, hurts, pride and vanity, anger and depression.
These beliefs and negative emotions lock us into the world of the Reactional Self; into the world of duality and subjectivity. One belief can only be held at the expense of its opposite. To quote John Bennett "If we become a little more free from the mutual exclusion of opposites and, instead of being at one pole or the other either being attracted or repelled, we will experience the force between them in ourselves. This is the force of life that lifts us out of the mechanical life and it is for this that the Reactional Self exists.
Only when the opposites can be experienced together in us can we begin to be aware of our own human nature. This nature that we have is something with enormous depth and if we are caught by our reactions we are condemned to live only a surface existence; but if we can use the force of our reactions we have a way of penetrating to what lies within us. The rightful place of the Reactional Self is that of a generator of energies and the combination of opposites is that condition of transformation in which higher grades of energy can be produced
Just as with electricity it is impossible to generate a current unless we have learnt how to separate the positive and negatives poles, so it is only when we have learnt how to separate the positive and negative forces of our Reactional Self that we can gain from our activites a source of energy for our inner work."
The above illustration of the Devil, the Tarot card representing Ayin, the 26th Path, of the Tree of Life of the QBL is none other than the Reactional Self. The 26th Path passes from Hod (Mercury) to Tiphareth (Sun), from the analytical mind of Mercury to the Higher Self of the Sun. It is a path of overcoming the duality of the analytical mind.
Although outwardly formidable, the goat of the world has no real power to keep man from his heavenly destiny.
There is no devil except of man's creation, and
here it is evident that men are chained by their own wrong choices.
However, the chains about their necks are loose and can be removed at
will, by separating the 'Yes' and 'No'.
"A vivid life is one in which there is 'yes' and 'no' at the same time; affirmation and denial.
When it is like that, the Reactional Self is the seat of an organ of perception of vast power which can help us to live our lives fully and to share in the lives of others.
Far from leading to additional suffering, this way of life releases us from a great amount of unnecessary suffering."
This is what Gurdjieff meant when he said, "Sacrifice your suffering".
We have to come to realize that what comes out of the sensitive interaction we have with the conditions of life is not what we are but the energy that we can use to be.
One particular aid we were given in the Prima class to help us in the process of separation and the formation of the higher, Divided self, was the traditional seven cardinal vices and virtues, with the aim of transforming the vices into the virtues. To the superficial observer this admonition may appear even trite and laughable.
Let's look at our triangle again. Here again, we are not talking about changing, for example, Pride into Humility, but rather transforming pride and humility into True pride, which is also True humility. Thus we are seeking the Pride which is Humility and the Humility which is Pride.
We should be proud if we are called to be sons of God, but it is false pride to ascribe to ourselves qualities that we do not have. Likewise the same reasoning is operative with the other vices and virtues - there is false charity and True charity, etc. The True occurs when 'yes' and 'no' are both operating simultaneously, when there is a separation from identification with either pole.
This separation from the poles is thus a synthesis for the Divided self via transformation of polarity (see diagram again).
Finally, let us look at the Tree of Life of the QBL in order to further illustrate this process of separation. The fundamental teaching of the QBL is the Law of Polarity and how it is used in evolution and finally itself overcome.
The Tree of the QBL is nothing but an embodiment of the Law of Polarity, its extensions and higher laws.
I want to focus on the lower cross of 'the Tree' particularly since this cross represents in the Microcosm the four elements in the being of Man and the four aspects of Jungian psychology.
Here above we see the Microcosm of the self represented on the lower "Tree". In relating this diagram to the previous one, Hod, Yesod and Netzach become the field of the Reactional Self, and through the balancing development of One Will, a separation of identification with these 3 aspects of self is achieved so that the self then becomes centred in Tiphareth, the Divided or Higher Self.
The role of Will, Faith and Grace will be discussed in a following article on Purification.
ASTRONOMY FOR ASTROLOGERS VI
PERIGEE AND APOGEE
The Moon's orbit of the Earth observes the same law of equal areas as the Earth in its orbit of the Sun. The Moon's distance from the Earth, and speed in its orbit, varies. It is nearest to the Earth at perigee, farthest at apogee. At perigee the Moon's rate of motion in its orbit is fastest, at apogee slowest. The student will be interested to check this phenomenon with Raphael's Ephemerides. Since 1899 the perigee and apogee times of the Moon have been listed annually.
As an example, the Moon was in apogee 2nd January 1965, and the distance it covered in longitude was 11o47'.
Just after midnight 16th-17th January the Moon was in perigee, and for the 24 hours from noon 16th to noon 17th we find the Moon's motion in longitude was as much as 15o14'.
The moon's average maximum distance (apogee) from the Earth is about 252,000 miles; at perigee 225,000 miles; mean distance around 239,000 miles.
The sidereal month defines the Moon's period of revolution with respect to the stars; the nodical month defines the interval required by the Moon to orbit the Earth from one node back to the same node; the synodic month defines the interval between two successive New Moons. The relationship in mean solar time between these three lunar periods is:
1 synodic month = 29.53 days
1 sidereal month = 27.32 days
1 nodical month = 27.21 days
Fig.4 Difference Between Moon's Synodic Period and Sidereal Period
Fig.4 shows the reason for the difference between a sidereal month and a synodic month being as much as two days. For our example, let us say the sidereal and synodic months both begin at the New Moon when the Earth is in position A in its orbit. When the Earth has moved to position B the Moon has completed exactly one synodic month, with respect to the Sun. Yet it would have been more that two days earlier that the position of the Moon with respect to the stars, as seen from the Earth was repeated, completing a sidereal month.
The synodic month or period is more familiarly known to astrologers as a lunation. This cycle of the Moon begins at New Moon, when the Sun and Moon are in direct line, or conjunction, viewed from the Earth. The four familiar phases of the lunation are shown in Fig.5.
A. New Moon (Sun conjunction Moon)
C. First Quarter (Sun square Moon)
E. Full Moon (Sun opposition)
G. Last Quarter (Sun square Moon)
The letters B,D,F,H represent the intermediate points between the four principle phases. Thus, the inner partially-shaded circles show the Moon in eight successive positions, or 45o arcs called octants. Outside these circles, the corresponding figures show the appearance of the Moon as we see it in the sky at each octant. Of course, at A or New Moon (completely black square) we never see the Moon at night-contrary to the popular belief expressed by poets and songwriters! - since our satellite is then close to the Sun and at night they would both be below the horizon. At E the Moon appears full, because it is on thre opposite side of the Earth to the Sun. At the quarters, C and G, only half the Moon's disc is visible, ie., the half facing the Sun. Between A and C and G and A less than half the disc is illuminated by the Sun, and we speak of the crescent Moon. Between C and E, and E and G, more than half the Moon can be seen and at these stages the Moon's appearance is said to be gibbous. The same term is applied to the planets at similar stages in their synodic period.
At both conjunction and opposition the Moon is said to be in syzygy.
Fig.5 The Moons's Phases