The Gunas and Societal Choices

In the past articles, I have discussed the natural Unfolding of the Ages, and how we as Axial Beings moved through the Age of Gold to the current Age of Iron, and the impact of the Patriarchal Revolution.  I explained that the movement from the Age of Gold through the Age of Iron is a natural one, as natural as the changing of the seasons.  It is also likely that the Patriarchal Revolution was somewhat inevitable as humanity progressed through the Age of Iron, although, it is just as likely that humanity embraced patriarchy, with its overbalanced Martial/Vikhelic influence, beyond that which was inevitable.  That is a matter of speculation rather than doctrine, I think.

Now that we have been exposed to these ideas, however, I think it is time to discuss the gunas, which I believe do, to a large extent, represent choices of various societies.  One way to understand the gunas is to refer back to the discussion of the symbolism of the Cross, and how that relates to Free Will.  If you recall, humans have the choice day by day, minute by minute to make choices in an Upward, Outward (material), or Downward direction.  Just as individuals have that choice, so do societies.

Egyptian ladiesA society moving in an Upward direction is a Sattwic, or Traditional, society.  In a Traditional society, every aspect of life has a spiritual dimension.  For example, pottery making is as spiritual as the performance of sacred rituals.  In a Traditional society, there is no separation between the spiritual and the secular.  Everyone knows her place and her role in life in such a society, and these societies are generally Unanimous societies.  Everyone understands and agrees on what is right and what is wrong, and it is understood that if a decision is right, everyone will know that and agree.  If there is not agreement, then there is something amiss.  This would be analogous to a modern scientist getting an anomalous result in an experiment.  In the Age of Iron and after the Patriarchal Revolution, even Traditional societies did not fully function in the way that they may have in the past.  This is shown by the often cruel and warlike nature of even Traditional societies, such as Medieval Europe.   The presence of these cruelties is part of the Age of Iron and an overbalanced Martial/Vikhelic influence.  It is by no means intrinsic to Traditional societies, and it is likely that earlier Traditional societies were far gentler and largely harmonious.

Victorian dressA society moving in an Outward direction is a Rajastic, or Normal, society.  When a society moves in a Rajastic direction, its focus is on the material, outward side of life.  The Classical Hellenistic period and the Renaissance period in Europe were Rajastic societies.  It is in these societies that glorious works of art are created.  A person from a Traditional society would likely be disturbed by the focus on the material that exists in a Normal society.  Indeed, Plato criticized the Hellenistic art of his time as “making copies of copies.”  This was because our human and natural form is an imperfect reflection of the Divine Perfect Form, so art imitating the natural form was a poor substitute for art which attempted to imitate the Perfect Form, or the Archetypes.  Even so, in a Normal society, the connection to the Divine is not lost.  While true knowledge of the higher and spiritual is often lost in the main in a Rajastic society, there is still an unconscious connection with the Divine in the material forms.

An example of this can be seen in the ritual of eating at the table.  In addition to eating at a table, often plates are traditionally circles.*  Circles are symbolic of the Solar Spirit, or the Divine Creative Force which is both outside of us and deep within us.  While most of us do not ritually offer our food first to the Divine, as was done in Traditional societies, eating at the table, putting our food on a circular plate before eating it, and saying a form of thanks or grace, vestigially and unconsciously still invokes a ritual offering.

The connection with the higher Upward direction is quite powerful, and it remains solid as long as it is not severed.   We are spiritual, rather than material, beings, so as long as nothing severs our connection with the Upward path, even if we do not understand it, the Upward will still provide a connection and will still come through in an Outward or Rajastic society.

Once the connection with the Upward and the Divine is lost, Rajastic societies are in danger being pulled down into a Tamasic, or Inverted, society.  Until around the 1960’s, Western Europe and the United States were Normal societies.  They were certainly materialistic, and much understanding of the spiritual meanings behind various traditions were long lost.  However, the vestiges of tradition remained.  In the mid-1960’s, Western society began to cut itself off from all tradition.  Once the connection to the Upward Path was lost, it was only a matter of time before the Downward, Darker, and destructive forces began to take over.

In my WordPress inbox, I saw a picture that was part of a WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words.  This picture is a perfect illustration of our current Inverted society.  I previously discussed the poisons of our Modern Inverted Society, as explained in The Feminine Universe, in a previous article, The Outer Planets; A Theory.  In that article, I gave a brief explanation of these three poisons, atomization, deracination, and deformation.    This picture is a perfect illustration of all three of these poisons.


The girl is alone, which is the definition of atomization, or being cut off from other people and the community.  The girl’s clothing is deracinated.  It is sloppy, with little attention to any tradition or concept of beauty.  Compare her clothing to the simple beauty of the Sattwic Egyptian society in the first picture and the elaborate dresses of the Rajastic Victorian Era in the second picture.  See also the strange, frightening green creature on the merry-go-round the girl is sitting on.  This is an example of deformation.  The creature is not a natural form, like the other animals.  The creature is also not representative of a Traditional archetype created in a ritual, spiritual manner.  Instead, it is an inversion of True Form.

Our current society is not the first Tamasic, or Inverted, Society, and it is likely not the last.  For example, the Roman Empire seems to have undergone a Tamasic period, when its focus was on bread and circuses, with bloody gladiatorial fights to entertain the masses.  I do believe that individual societies have choices with respect to the gunas.  Certainly, in our current world, not every society has entered into the Tamasic period to the same extent or at the same rate.  The dominance of the West has spread the Tamasic poisons to the East.  It remains to be seen how deep this will spread.

Japan, for example, is an interesting case, in that it has been heavily influenced by the West, but it is also spreading its own influence to the West, particularly in the form of children’s media.  Almost all of the nice and sweet video games are made in Japan.  Japan is also producing some very healthy and metaphysically sound children’s shows in the form of Anime.  Actually, you can see this influence in the clothing worn by the girl in the above picture.  On her blue jeans, there is an image of Hello Kitty, which is a sweet and wholesome Japanese image that has spread to the West like wildfire and is quite popular with little girls.  Of course, the image is on sloppy and deracinated clothing, but from a feminine essentialist perspective, one can not help but hope that it is a step in the right direction.


*In the East, there are circumstances where a rectangular plate is also used.  Examples of that are sushi plates and bento boxes.  Given that the East has in general retained tradition where it has been lost in the West, I think we can trust that there is a ritual significance to the rectangular form of sushi plates and bento boxes.

Author: Cynthia Thinnes

I am an Essentialist Astrologer and a housewife. I enjoy studying and discussing matters related to philosophy and religion. I also knit, crochet, and I am beginning to sew. I speak Japanese (although not very well), and I am studying Swedish, Latin, and Classical Greek. In addition to all of this, I am also learning about gardening. はじめまして。元型的な占星術師や主婦です。哲学を勉強しています。趣味は編み物や庭いじりです。下手でも日本語が出来ます。スウェーデン語もラテン語も古典的なギリシャ語を勉強しています。よろしくお願いします。

15 thoughts on “The Gunas and Societal Choices”

  1. There’s a school of political philosophy, Communitarianism, developed primarily in the 1980s and which has focused on the problem of atomization. Communitarianism is particularly critical of philosophical liberalism, and has been attacked by liberals in return. Communitarianism is a secular philosophy and effectively rejects the necessity for a foundation of social harmony in the sacred. It’s nonetheless interesting that some secular philosophers have come to recognize the modern disease (which traditionalist writers have long described), albeit with only a partial diagnosis and no meaningful cure.


  2. Oh, that is really interesting. It is also interesting how there are so many academic theories for things that should be normal traits of society.

    I have recently been watching “The Andy Griffith Show.” The community portrayed there is very much a healthy community unaffected by the poisons that I described above. It is a Rajastic community, to be sure. There is not a church or a minister to be found. Still the community has many traditional traits. People care for each other, and social harmony is valued to a large extent. There is certainly social order maintained, yet, the norms are lightly, but firmly, upheld. There is also an interesting interaction between strictly enacted written regulation (usually represented by Deputy Fife or outside officials) and a more informal social control (usually represented by Sheriff Taylor).


    1. Oh yes, and while I am taking the tangent of giving media examples, I think that a very good example of a Traditional community in the late Iron Age is found in town of Anatevka in Fiddler on the Roof. It is a Patriarchal one to be sure, but it does show what a Traditional community looks like.

      Fiddler on the Roof is quite interesting too, in that it shows quite poignantly the destruction of a Traditional community, little by little. You can see seeds of the breakdown at the very beginning, when it is clear that Reb Tevye does not know where the traditions came from, and thinks that the traditions were of human origin. Still, the traditions were maintained to a large extent until outside forces intervened.


    2. There is a Church and a Minister on the show.The Ladies Church league is mention quite often.Just a note,I love the show.


      1. Oh, thank you so much. I stand corrected. It is a wonderful show, isn’t it? I am really enjoying it.

        Still, I maintain that the town of Mayberry is a Normal or Rajastic society, not a Traditional or Sattwic society. The spiritual is not interwoven into every aspect of life on a conscious level, the way it is in a Traditional society. That being said, there is a very clear sense of right and wrong in the community, and for the most part, the members of the community are in agreement as to what that is. Also, no matter what the problems in the episode are, harmony is always restored in the town by the end of the episode.


  3. There’s a distinction in sociology between two forms of social grouping: Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. (See Gemeinshaft is a community of common values (or literally “gemein” or meaning) in which a common ethos governs. A Gesellschaft is a group where individuals work together but only for self-interest (the business company is the primary example). The atomized society is one in which the Gemeinshaft exists only vestigially.


    1. Oh, thank you Mr. Philemon. I think that the concept of self-interest, as separate from communal interest, is something that is a mark of the worldwide overbalanced Martial/Vikhelic influence. Of course, in an atomized society, this influence becomes more and more profound, I think.

      The difference between a feminine essentialist perspective and a sociological one is the difference in where we believe social harmony comes from. In the article you referenced, it seems like the belief is that the source of social harmony comes from people, shared values or mores or self-interest.

      From a feminine essentialist perspective, the source of social harmony is from the Divine, specifically from the Aspect of the Divine, Janya, or Angel, Sai Thamë. Deanists and Filianists use the term thamë to refer to this Divine Harmony. The Japanese word, wa, is another term that refers to this Divine Harmony. Sai Thamë governs the Music of the Spheres in addition to all social order and harmony. In astrology, the planetary representative of Sai Thamë is Jupiter.

      In this context, a Sattwic, or Traditional society would be one that was directly and consciously in harmony with the Music of the Spheres. All authority is seen to come through humans from the Divine, and a human acting on her own behalf had no authority. Tyranny, in this context, is human power without Divine authority. It states in the Deanic/Filianic Sutra, the Heart of Water, “Who rules in her own right is a tyrant, nor yet in the right of other maids. There is but one authority, and Truth alone is true.”

      In a Rajastic, or Normal society, the conscious understanding of and striving for Divine Thamë is diluted, or even lost. On the other hand, there is a semi-conscious or unconscious thread of thamë, which still functions. Thamë is not created by humans, it is created by the Divine, and it will bring people to order and harmony whether they are conscious of it or not.

      A Tamasic, or Inverted society, is one that strives to break this harmony, or strives for disharmony, which can be termed athamë, in the Filianic lexicon, or fuwa in Japanese. Society must deteriorate on a very deep level for this to happen.

      So, from a feminine essentialist perspective, the state of thamë is something that is natural and will happen on its own, if it is not interfered with. One of the sources of interference is the overbalanced Martial/Vikhelic influence. Another source of interference is the modern poisons of atomization, deracination, and deformation.

      Oh dear, this comment ended up being long, and I did take a bit of a tangent, I am afraid. I hope I managed to somehow say something that was relevant to the point you were trying to make, Mr. Philemon. If not, I hope what I did say was at least of interest.


  4. What you say, Miss Hildotter, is indeed most germane.

    I’m not sure however that thamë or dharma (“that which upholds”) is something that will happen on its own. Rather, the cosmic harmony tends towards dissolution unless preserved and renewed by divine grace. Sattwic societies hold ritual in the highest regard, I believe, because ritual (Li in Confucian thought) is the means through which the community participates in the divine harmony. Ritual requires dedication, understanding and effort. If ritual is neglected, disharmony results.


    1. Yes, I understand what you are saying, and of course, you are right to a certain extent. I was thinking of that as I was writing my comment.

      Of course, there is the movement towards decline over time, and ritual is what keeps us closer to the center. Of course, it would be hard to really do justice to this in a comment. The forces of cosmos (order) and chaos both exist, and both play a role.

      I think that the main point is that these are forces beyond humans that we can align ourselves with. The force of cosmos is quite strong though, and is not broken easily, even though, you are right, in that there is a natural movement away from the center. I do also believe that the force of cosmos will reassert itself if allowed, even though it is opposed by the force of chaos.


      1. I was thinking more about this, and I wonder if the difference is that between perfect thamë/wa/dharma and total disintegration. Perfect thamë is probably not possible, but I think that ritual and constant devotion are likely necessary to keep it as close to perfection as possible. I think that the movement away from perfection is as you say, Mr. Philemon.

        In our age, we are very far from perfection, and close to disintegration, so I think that small efforts in the right direction are effective, and cosmos will reassert itself where it can.

        I am not sure about this, but it feels right to me.


    2. I think we also must realize that we are now in a Tamasic society, and perhaps world, right now. While we can talk about a Sattwic society, I think that at the moment that is really out of our reach. The Feminine Universe suggests that in our current state, movement back to a Rajastic society is movement back to the center. Miss Alice Lucy Trent suggests making personal changes in that direction. The practical, personal changes are the subject of my other blog:


  5. Dear Miss Hildotter,

    There’s a famous passage in the Bhagavad Gita (4:8) that I have found helpful in trying to understand the idea of the decline of dharma over time.

    paritranaya sadhunam
    vinasaya ca duskrtam
    sambhavami yuge yuge

    For the deliverence of devotees, and the destruction of the wicked,
    to reestablish dharma, I am born from age to age.

    I think the three activities of Sri Krishna correspond to the three gunas. The destruction of the wicked may properly be the destruction of wickedness or darkness (tamas). Dharma allows the stage of worldly-enjoyment (bhukti) to proceed. Deliverence (mukti) is granted to devotees who have passed beyond the stage of worldly attachment.


  6. Regarding the plate shapes, what immediately comes to mind is the fact that the characters for the Sun and the Moon are both square/rectangular in Chinese and therefore Japanese characters. They too were originally round, but the square proved easier to write. For example, the character for Enlightenment is made of the two luminaries, first the Sun and then the Moon: 明. A long time ago, the first part of the character would have been round with a dot in the center – now it is square with a line. Just my two cents.(: I love your articles!! They are so informative and thought provoking, especially for a newbie like me.


    1. Oh, that is interesting regarding the plate shapes and Chinese hanzi and Japanese kanji. Thank you for your kind words about my articles, and I am glad that you are enjoying them.


Thank you for your visit. Comments are always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: