The Moon’s Nodes, What Do They Mean?

There are some topics in Western Astrology in which there is a widespread consensus. The meaning of the Moon’s Nodes is not one of them. This article will talk about what the Nodes are and discuss various approaches taken by Modern, Classical, and Indian Astrology. Finally, I will talk about the approach that I have developed in my own practice.

What are the Moon’s Nodes?

From the Earth, it looks like the Sun travels through the sky in a circular path which is the same every year. This path is known as the ecliptic. The other planets, including the Moon, all have orbits that vary somewhat from the ecliptic. The Moon’s path varies about 5°. Because the path of the other planets varies from the ecliptic, they all cross the ecliptic twice along their orbit. The places where they cross are known as the planet’s nodes.

Ecliptic

Of the planetary nodes, it is the nodes of the Moon that are of the greatest significance. This is because, from the perspective of the Earth, the apparent size of the Moon is the same as the apparent size of the Sun. Thus, whenever there is a New Moon near one of the Nodes, there is a Solar Eclipse, and whenever there is a Full Moon near one of the Nodes, there is a Lunar Eclipse.

Modern Karmic Interpretation

In recent years, the most commonly used interpretation of the Moon’s Nodes is that they relate to personal karma. In this interpretation, the South Node relates to one’s past lives and the North Node relates to one’s future. A complex version of this method of interpretation is put forth by Steven Forrest in his book, Yesterday’s Sky.  In this method of interpretation, Steven Forrest explains how he uses the South Node’s sign, house position, and ruler as well as the planets that aspect the South Node to tell a story about a person’s past life. He makes no claim that this story represents a factual past life. Instead, he claims that the themes of the story are what is important and that by understanding these themes, one can heal from one’s karma. From this idea, he has developed an entire branch of astrology, known as Evolutionary Astrology.

Not all Modern astrologers go this far, but the use of the South Node to indicate past lives and the North Node to determine one’s future direction has become widespread.

Other Modern Interpretations

While the karmic interpretation of the Nodes seems to be extremely popular in the present day and age, it seems to be a relatively recent one. For example, in an astrology textbook from 1971, The Compleat Astrologer, by Derek and Julia Parker, there was no mention of the karmic interpretation. In this book, the North Node was described as beneficial and having characteristics similar to Jupiter, and the South Node was described as adverse and having characteristics similar to Saturn.

In her book, Classical Astrology for Modern Living, by J. Lee Lehman, Ph.D., Dr. Lehman discusses a Nodal Cycle that seems to have been derived from Dane Rudhyar. This cycle traces the Moon’s path along the ecliptic as it travels across the North Node, reaches her Northernmost point, travels South, crosses the South Node, keeps going until she reaches her Southernmost point, and then travels North again. Dr. Lehman gives complete delineations for each of these stages when they are found in a Nativity Chart.

Classical/Traditional Western Interpretation

There seems to be a fair about of confusion and ambiguity about the meaning of the Nodes in the Western Tradition. In Book 1 of Christian Astrology, William Lilly reports that “the Ancients” considered the North Node, or the Head of the Dragon, to be of the nature of Jupiter and Venus and a Fortune. According to him, the Ancients taught that the North Node was good when conjunct good planets and evil when conjunct evil planets. In contrast, the South Node, or the Tail of the Dragon, is evil when joined with good planets and good when joined with evil planets.

After this description, William Lilly disputes with this interpretation, saying “upon what reason grounded I know not.” He says that he as always found the North Node to be the equivalent of the Fortunes and that:

when joined with the evil Planets to lesson their malevolent signification; when joined with the good to increase the good promised by them. For the Tail of the Dragon, I always in my practise found when he was jointed with the evil Planets; their their malice or the evil intended thereby was doubled and trebled, or extremely augmented.

He then wrote that when the good planets were joined with the South Node the good that was promised by them was disrupted and often came to nothing.

In his book, Hellenistic Astrology, Chris Brennan discusses a variety of approaches to the Nodes taken by astrologers in the Hellenistic Tradition. Some viewed both of them as negative because they were the places that eclipses formed. This was particularly true when either of the luminaries was found with them. The approach of “the Ancients” that William Lilly described seems to have been recorded as far back as Rhetortius of Egypt in the early Sixth or Seventh Century.

Rahu and Ketu in Vedic Astrology

In Vedic Astrology, the North Node is named Rahu and the South Node is named Ketu. Rahu and Ketu are considered planets in their own right. According to myth, the Devas and the Asuras worked together to churn to the ocean to create a substance called Amrit, which was a nectar that would grant immortality.  The Asura stole the Amrit for themselves, but Lord Vishnu took an incarnation as a beautiful woman, Mohini, to distract the Asura and take back the Amrit.

 

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Rahu

Mohini then went to the Devas to distribute it. One of the Asura, named Svarbhanu changed his appearance to obtain some of the Amrit. He sat between the Sun (Surya) and the Moon (Chandra), but they recognized him and exposed him to Lord Vishnu, who severed Svarbhanu’s head. Svarbhanu had already received a drop of the Amrit, and thus, did not die, but remained forever split in two. The head is Rahu and the tail is Ketu. Since that time, they have taken revenge against the Sun and the Moon by swallowing them, but as the Sun and Moon are also immortal, they always emerge intact.

 

 

Ketu_graha
Ketu

 

Rahu is the head and has a mouth with no stomach. This means that Rahu can never be satisfied. Rahu is what we desire but can’t get enough of. In contrast, Ketu represents the things that we have no interest in and that bring us no pleasure.

How I Use the Nodes

Given the diversity of opinions on the Nodes and what they do, as a practicing astrologer, if one is to use them, one must work out what to do with them. For myself, the one thing that is clear about the Nodes is that they are the places where eclipses form.

Metaphysically, eclipses are the temporary triumph of Darkness over Light. As such, I view both of the Nodes as malefic influences. In a birth chart, if a person’s Sun is within 16° of either Node, that person was born during an Eclipse Season. The person is also likely to experience one or more eclipses by secondary progression in their lifetime.

In my own research, I have noticed that people who were born into eclipse seasons tend to be heavily impacted by larger social events or movements on a personal level. This impact is not always traumatic, but it often is. If they were born between eclipses, this impact will influence their entire life, but its power will dissipate somewhat when they progress into an un-eclipsed Lunation (New or Full Moon). The direct effect will largely subside at the first uneclipsed New Moon, although they will still bear the scars. If a person progresses into an Eclipse season, the impact will begin at that time rather than at birth.

For those who were not born during or progress into an Eclipse season, I treat the Nodes as collective karma rather than as individual karma. I look at their position in the chart and their interaction with other planets to determine where and how collective karma impacts the native.

In addition, I have considered integrating the principles of Rahu and Ketu, and I have seen some positive results in my initial research. On the other hand, I am a little dubious of “mixing and matching” principles in this way.

Quiet Heroines

In my last article, mentioned that I had started a new project, a website called Quiet Heroines. This website will feature the stories of women who have led extraordinary lives, but whose voices have been lost to history.

I intend to feature a new heroine every month. There will be a main article with historical and biographical information about her which will come out on the first Sunday of the month. After that, throughout the month, I will add bonus articles, often discussing astrological information relevant to the heroine, such as a birthchart analysis, a proposed rectification chart, or other things that may be of interest concerning her.

The first heroine is Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, and the main article is:

Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

Mrs._Elizabeth_Schuyler_Hamilton

 

Zodiacal Releasing: The Narrative of Our Lives

As an astrologer, I am very conservative about adding new techniques into my practice. In my experience, when reading an astrological chart, in many ways less is more. I have found that the more techniques I throw at a chart, the harder it is to interpret, and the fuzzier my reading becomes. For this reason, I was not immediately ready to jump on board when I first heard about an Ancient Hellenistic technique known as Zodiacal Releasing. This past February, however, the Hellenistic Astrologer, Chris Brennan released a podcast and YouTube video on this technique which included a good basic description of how to use it. You can find this video here.

What is Zodiacal Releasing and How Does it Work?

Zodiacal Releasing is a Time Lady technique. Time Lady techniques divide a person’s life into sections, with a planet or planets ruling each section. Zodiacal Releasing is a little different than many of these techniques in that it uses zodiac signs rather than the planets.

It is a rather complicated technique, and the division takes place on four different levels, with Level 1 spanning years and sometimes even decades and Level 4 spanning days or sometimes only hours. This technique uses the Lot of Spirit or the Lot of Fortune as the launching point depending on what you are using it for. Chris Brennan describes it as dividing one’s life into chapters and paragraphs, but it makes more sense to me to use the analogy of trilogies and story arcs.

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Evaluating New Techniques

Before I go into my thoughts about Zodiacal Releasing, I would like to explain my process for evaluating techniques to determine whether I will incorporate them into my practice. The practice of astrology has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. The ready availability of computers has made casting a chart much, much easier than it was when I was twelve years old and learning to cast a chart by hand on the kitchen table using my mother’s astrology textbook.  Furthermore, everywhere you look on the Internet, there is someone talking about a new (or old) technique or practice. If one were to learn and use everything available, it would be chaos. To manage this, I have a process I go through to sort through techniques that I encounter.

1. Is the technique sound on a metaphysical or philosophical level?

While some astrologers take a purely pragmatic approach to our craft, it is my own belief that we cannot separate what we do from our philosophy.  Sometimes, with older techniques, it is not possible to know their metaphysical basis; however, from my perspective, the older the technique is, the more likely it is to be sound on a metaphysical level, even if we do not know the underlying philosophy.

2. What is the lineage of the technique?

I think it is very important to know where a technique comes from to the extent that it is possible. Now, while I am not one who believes that we must trace every technique to an Ancient, Medieval, or Renaissance text, I do tend to favor techniques with a deep historical lineage. There is a problem, though. In the West, we lack a living tradition. At most, we have remnants that have survived through the ages.  So, when we uncover older techniques, we must reconstruct them, and we are very likely to get it wrong.

So, from my perspective, the best techniques are the ones that have stood the test of time. Given how broken the astrological tradition is, there is a surprising amount that has survived relatively unchanged. For example, with the exception of granting the Outer Planets rulerships over signs, the rulership system has remained largely unchanged since the Hellenistic Era.

With respect to modern techniques, I do not reject them out of hand; however, to me, the burden of proof with respect to them is extremely high.

3. How well is the technique understood?

In the past several decades there have been many dedicated translators and researchers who have worked hard to recover traditional astrological texts, including the late Robert Schmidt, who founded Project Hindsight, and Robert Hand. Even so, the process of recovering and understanding techniques is not an easy one. In many cases, all we have are incomplete texts without a living teacher to explain them properly. So, even when we have ancient techniques with a solid pedigree, we must still proceed with caution.

4. Does the technique work?

While this is not my first consideration in evaluating techniques, I am a practicing astrologer and not a researcher. If I am going to use a technique, it needs to work, and it needs to work reliably and consistently. Most of the time when techniques are presented, the astrologer will give example charts, and of course, it is important to carefully listen to the examples presented. That is not enough, though. The technique needs to work for me.

I first test a technique on my own chart. The reason I do this is that I know my own chart the best, and I have the most information about my own life. There is a disadvantage in that it is hard to be objective about one’s own chart, but I have long experience as an astrologer and in testing techniques on my own chart. If the technique does not work on my chart, and I cannot see a good reason why it would not, I usually reject it out of hand.

From there, I test it on other charts that I am familiar with, and then move on to charts of celebrities and famous people. I am a bit ruthless when it comes to these things. For me, the burden of proof is on including a new technique, not excluding it. I generally expect a technique to work at least 80% of the time, and for there to be a good reason why it did not work on the other 20%.

5. Does it tell me something I did not already know?

I already use a number of different techniques, and it is hard enough to juggle the sometimes confusing amount of information that can be gleaned. While there is something to be said for getting the same information from several different techniques, life is short. If a technique does not improve my readings, even if it meets all of the above criteria, I will not take the time to incorporate it in my practice.

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Evaluating Zodiacal Releasing

So, now that I explained my process for evaluating techniques, how did Zodiacal Releasing do? The short answer is…very well! For the long answer, let’s go through my criteria.

1. Is Zodiacal Releasing sound on a philosophical and metaphysical level?

The technique of Zodiacal Releasing was found in Book 4 of the Anthology of Vettius Valens, and he attributes it to Abraham. Generally, when a technique is attributed to a religious leader by a Classical text, it is an indication that the source is Ancient revealed knowledge. As such, it can be presumed to be sound on a metaphysical basis, even if we do not fully understand it.

Yet, the details of the technique also suggest its philosophical basis. In using the technique, one moves the Lot of Spirit, which is related to the mind and the will through the chart. In doing so, one pays attention to its relationship to the Lot of Fortune, which is related to bodily matters as well as luck or chance. In other words, this technique considers how one’s will interacts with the forces of fate or chance.

2. What is the lineage of Zodiacal Releasing?

As mentioned above, the technique is found in Vettius Valens’ Anthology and is attributed to Abraham. On the other hand, the technique had largely been lost, and as far as can be known at present, there is no mention of it in the texts from later traditions.

So, by necessity, we are dealing with a reconstructed technique. This is not an ideal situation, but if it passes all of the other tests, it is certainly not a reason to exclude it from consideration.

3. How well is Zodiacal Releasing understood?

There have been astrologers, including Chris Brennan, who have been researching and working with Zodiacal Releasing for over a decade. While there is a lot of work still to do, this seems to be a good start.

4. Does Zodiacal Releasing work?

When I watched the YouTube video explaining this technique, I was impressed from the beginning. With just a superficial understanding, the technique captured the major turning points in my life. The more I learned and the more I played with the technique, with my own chart and the charts of others, the more impressed I became. I think I can safely say, even with the limited understanding that I have, it is by far the most accurate timing technique that I have come across.

5. Does Zodiacal Releasing tell me something I did not already know?

Yes, it does. In applying this technique, I understood things about my life and my life direction that had long baffled me. When I practiced the technique on a couple of my friends, they reported that it really helped them understand the meaning of things that they had gone through in their lives.

How to Learn Zodiacal Releasing

Zodiacal Releasing is one of the more complicated techniques that I have come across. I would definitely classify it as an Advanced technique. I would not recommend it to a beginning student of astrology. A good understanding of astrology in general and at least some familiarity with Traditional/Classical Astrology is necessary.

As mentioned before, the technique is described in Book 4 of Vettius Valens’ Anthology. A full translation of Anthology translated by Mark Riley is available for free pdf download here. The technique is also described in great detail in the last chapter of Chris Brennan’s book, Hellenistic Astrology.

On the other hand, this is one technique I would not recommend learning on your own, even if you are an experienced astrologer. If you are interested, I would start by watching the YouTube video I linked to above. From there, I would highly recommend Chris Brennan’s course.

He teaches this technique as a part of his Hellenistic Astrology course, but he also has a stand-alone course on Zodiacal Releasing available. It consists of an 18-hour video lecture plus a great deal of bonus material. While you do not get individualized instruction, there is a comments section, and he does answer questions that way.

Next Steps

As you might imagine, it is not often that I incorporate a new technique into my practice, so it is always exciting when I do. I still need to work with and practice this technique before I fully incorporate it.

For a while now, I have been considering a new project. I got this idea when I listened to the full soundtrack for the musical Hamilton. The final song talks about Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, and all that she did after he died to preserve his memory. I thought about the many other stories of feminine bravery that we know nothing about. My idea was a site specifically devoted to telling these stories. I have a lot on my plate right now, and I did not know how I would find time for another site.

Yet, with this new technique, it occurred to me that I could combine this project with my research of Zodiacal Releasing. My plan is to write a biographical article about each woman, and then to include bonus astrological articles about them whenever possible, using Zodiacal Releasing and other techniques.

The new site is live, and its name is Quiet Heroines: Celebrating the Power of the Feminine. I plan to have the first article up on Sunday, April 7, 2019, and it will be about the woman who inspired the site, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.

Can Eclipses Bring Good Things?

When reading the article on my astrology site regarding the Lunar Eclipse of January 21, 2019, a friend of mine noticed that I suggested that the launching of the modern Olympic Games was related to the Saros Series that this past Lunar Eclipse belongs to. In response to that, my friend asked me whether eclipses could bring good things?

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That is a really interesting question, I think. In my research, many inventions seem to have been related to eclipses, as was Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the Americas. This would seem to be problematic to my assertion that eclipses represent periodic, temporary triumphs of Dark over Light. Or is it?

It would take a wiser person than I to have anything that resembles a full and complete answer to this question, but I do have some thoughts on the matter. To start with, I think that it is undeniable that eclipses can bring things that are beneficial to some people. For example, I live in the United States, and I would not be living here if the discovery of the Americas did not happen. On the other hand, this discovery was not beneficial for everyone, and indeed, it was quite harmful to the original inhabitants of this continent.

In order to unravel this mystery, it may be helpful to look at the Symbol of the Cross and our nature as Axial Beings.

The Symbol of the Cross

The CrossI have discussed the Symbol of the Cross before, but here is a brief overview. The Cross relates to the material world. It has two axes, the horizontal and vertical. The horizontal axis relates to pure materiality, and the vertical axis relates to spirituality. Even though they cross in the middle, these two axes are independent of each other. One can do very well on the material axis while falling into Darkness on the spiritual axis. In the Christian written tradition, Jesus is reported to say, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24, NRSV. Likewise, it is possible for someone to do poorly on the material axis while rising towards the Light on the spiritual axis. Indeed, in the same Christian tradition, this was the fate of the saints and martyrs.

Inventions and discoveries often give us a more comfortable life on the material level. In this sense, they are good and beneficial. On the other hand, they are usually neutral and can even be harmful to us on a spiritual level. In many cases, inventions are necessary due to the fact that we have declined on both a material and a spiritual level. See also The Bugbear of Literacy by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy.

So, in effect, there is no reason why there should not be things that are beneficial on a material level associated with eclipses. I would say that even so, there is a good chance for there to be an element of Darkness involved as well. That is certainly the case with the discovery of the Americas, and it could be argued that there has been some Darkness surrounding the Olympics from time to time in its history. I will address the Olympics in more detail later, but before I do, I would like to discuss another element of discoveries related to eclipses.

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Eclipses and the Modern Scientific Worldview

Not only have there been many discoveries that have been astrologically associated with eclipses, but eclipses themselves have led to direct discoveries about the Universe, or at least the mechanical workings of it. While these discoveries are interesting and even useful, they have also prompted the current belief system of the modern Western scientific community. This belief system appears to be that the Cosmos is merely a mechanical place governed by chance and random events. In this belief system, an eclipse is merely a shadow.

Yet, in spite of this, or perhaps because of it, there is almost a religious fervor to encourage people to go out and watch eclipses. In a sense, viewing an eclipse seems to be almost of the nature of a religious test to prove that one is not bound by the “superstitions” of the past. In this respect, I do believe that the modern embrace of eclipses is an intentional movement into Darkness, even though there have been technological advancements associated with it.

Our Nature As Axial Beings

This being said, I think there something different going on in the case of the Olympics. Yes, there have been negative things associated with the Olympics including violence and countries using them for political purposes in terms of boycotts and the like. On the other hand, I do believe that the modern Olympics is a positive development not just on the material level, but a movement towards the Light on a spiritual level. Indeed, even the negative things that have happened may have prevented wars and more serious problems as countries could take their aggression out on the Olympics instead.

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Yet, it does appear that they are related to eclipses. There was a Total Lunar Eclipse that occurred on November 4, 1892. Later that month, on November 23, 1892, Pierre de Coubertin launched the plans for the modern Olympic Games. This eclipse was 44 minutes long, and if you count a month for every minute of totality, this would mean that the full impact of this eclipse would not be felt for another three years and four months. This would be the end of March and early April 1896. This was the beginning of the first modern Olympics in Athens.

So, what is going on?

I think this has to do with our nature as Axial Beings. Humans are the ones with the power to choose. Even if Darkness is present, we have the choice to embrace it or reject it. From my research, one of the features of eclipses is that they seem to be times when our Axial nature is tested. There are many repentance stories surrounding eclipses. One of them was the Eclipse of Thales that stopped a war according to Herodotus. There was a long-standing war between the Medes and the Lydians. There was a Solar Eclipse that occurred during the battle, which caused the parties to stop fighting and negotiate a peace.

Perhaps the launching of the modern Olympic Games is of this nature.

Implications

So, what does this mean?

In Modern Astrology, often eclipses are presented as times of opportunity and spiritual growth. It would seem that this might be the case from what I have said.

Yet, I think this goes too far.

Of course, whenever we have a crisis, there is an opportunity for growth. When there is a death in the family, when we have a tragedy, or when we face a serious illness, it is common for people to view these as turning points in their lives. They can even be the catalyst for deep spiritual awakening. Does that mean we should embrace these times? There is the old saying, “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

This leads to the deeper question of what is the point of suffering, which is a subject that has confounded spiritual leaders and theologians for millennia.

I cannot claim to have the answer to this question; however, I think that the best practice is still to avoid eclipses as much as possible. Yes, it seems like it is possible that good things can come from eclipses, but it is not something to expect or hope for. Just as we might experience spiritual growth from a tragedy, we would not willingly embrace such a tragedy to obtain this growth. In the same way, it seems like a bad idea to embrace eclipses.

Being Without a Living Tradition

One of the biggest challenges as a Filianist is that there is no living tradition to draw upon. As I have been thinking of this, it has occurred to me that this is also a challenge for Western astrologers who are trying to work in a more traditional manner.  I would like to share some of my thoughts and ideas about this.

What is a Living Tradition?

Before I begin, it might help if I explained what I mean by a living tradition. A living tradition is one that has been passed down in an unbroken line from teacher to student from either a time that cannot be counted or from a genuine source of revealed knowledge. With respect to Filianism, such a living tradition no longer exists. We believe that there was a time that there was a feminine living tradition, but any line between teacher and student has long been broken.

hieroglyphs-541146_640There are remnants of the feminine tradition in the patriarchal traditions practiced today, and there is archeological evidence that there was a feminine tradition that existed in the past. While these things are to be valued and treasured, they are a poor substitute for having a true living tradition.

In Orthodox Filianism, this is dealt with by keeping to very simple devotional practices and by not allowing for priestesses or anything of that nature. This is in the Orthodox version only, however. Many independent Filianist groups do allow for priestesses.

The lack of a living tradition is also dealt with by being honest and humble in what we profess, exercising a great deal of caution.  We use the remnants of the feminine tradition that can be found in various cultures today, in the East and in the West, and supplement this with some of our own materials and practices.

Reconstructed Traditions

The problem of a lack of a living tradition is faced many who are not Filianists as well. In the West, Christianity was ruthless in rooting out “pagan” religions and traditions, so those who wish to explore these forms of wisdom and spirituality are in a similar position.

One of the other ways to deal with this problem is to try to reconstruct these traditions from the written and archeological evidence that we have available to us. An example of a reconstructed tradition is the modern Druid movement. It could also be said that the modern practice of Traditional/Classical Astrology is a reconstructed tradition.

Uncertainty of Interpretation

The difficulty with a reconstructed tradition is that there is very little certainty that one is interpreting the material that we have accurately.  In many cases, we do not have written records. If we do have written records, they often must be translated. Furthermore, we have to deal with the problem of texts. The printing press was not invented in the West until the 15th Century, even though it was developed in China about 600 years earlier.

Before that texts had to be copied by hand. Of course, the scribes in those days were surely more accurate than someone completing such a task today would be. On the other hand, we are still dealing with uncertainty that increases the further the text is in time from when it was written.

The other big problem is that even when we have written materials and even when we have original texts, not everything was written down. Of course, some information was probably deemed too important to reduce to writing, but even more of an issue is that writing was a major project. Just as secret matters would not be written, neither would things that were common knowledge. It would be far too much of a waste of time and resources.

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Adaptation to Modern Times

Even if we did have perfect information about broken or destroyed traditions in order to revive them, we would still have the problem of how to adapt them to modern times. I do not believe in evolutionist ideas about “progress,” nor do I think that we are more advanced than our forebears. However, we are not the same as them either. Our physical, mental, and spiritual capacities are greatly reduced. At the same time, we have more technology which artificially enhances our computational abilities.

Because of this, any revival of spiritual traditions, or any revival of traditional sciences such as astrology, needs to take into account our reduced abilities to understand and to implement its doctrines or teachings.

In a living tradition, this adaptation would have taken place over time, as spiritual leaders or masters of the craft would have made small adjustments from generation to generation. Every now and then, there would have been major changes as a leader emerged. In the present, we tend to think of these leaders as innovators. Within a true living tradition, however, these leaders are not innovating but are making large-scale changes to adapt a tradition to the present age.

This idea is reflected in the Christian tradition in the Gospel According to Matthew when Jesus says:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

Matthew 5.17 New Revised Standard Edition

Without that organic adaptation over time, modern scholars and practitioners are in a very difficult position. This often leads to one of two extremes. On one extreme, scholars can decide to bend and shape the tradition to fit the modern world until it bears little resemblance to the original. On the other extreme, scholars can rigidly hold on to the letter of what was written to the point that it is unworkable in the modern world.

In Traditional/Classical Astrological circles, there are those who go to both extremes, and sometimes the same person will do both at the same time. For example, there are Traditional/Classical Astrologers who will insist that any technique or practice must be attested to by a traditional, pre-Enlightenment source, while at the same time also insist that astrology is purely mechanical, denying any spiritual or Divine powers that may be at work….a position that would have been considered absurd by pre-Enlightenment thinkers.

Modern Revelations

Now that we have looked at the problems with reviving broken traditions, what about modern revelations? There are many who have claimed to have received revelations about spiritual matters. In modern astrology, one of the most influential sources of alleged “received wisdom” comes from the Theosophical Society. One of the early leaders of this Society was Madame Blavatsky, who claimed to have received revelations from a brotherhood of Great Masters. On a smaller scale, the founder of one of the main branches of Evolutionary Astrology claims to have received some of the major tenets in a dream.

The problem with modern revelations is very similar to the problem in reconstructing or reviving broken traditions. The issue of continuing revelation is a subject of great controversy within a number of religious denominations. Those religions that do accept continuing revelation usually have some means by which to test and evaluate them.

Without a living tradition, it would seem that evaluating such revelations would be extremely difficult. How do you know where the revelation is coming from without a tradition to use as a standard?

So What Can We Do?

From all of the problems that I have raised, it would seem that the situation is impossible. How can one know anything or be sure of anything, especially in the West? There are some who turn to Eastern forms of spirituality as a solution. Within astrology, the Vedic tradition is one of the few surviving astrological forms that still has a living tradition to draw upon. The problem with that is similar to the problems with reviving historical traditions, however. As a Westerner, is it really possible to understand the Vedic tradition and get it right, especially without a guru?

Despite the broken tradition and despite all of the problems, I do think that there is value in the Western system, particularly for Westerners. This is the reason that I am slowly working to develop what I am calling Essentialist Astrology.

On the other hand, I think it is important to be aware that we are dealing with a broken tradition. As such, it is necessary to proceed with caution and humility, and to be cognizant and honest about what we do not and can not know.

Saturn 土星

Saturn is a difficult planet. She is the Greater Malefic, and her associations are the banes of human existence. Hardships, difficulties, blockages, the passage of time, old age, and death are all in her domain. Yet, these are all essential for manifestation. Saturn is necessary for our existence.

The Janya of Saturn: Sai Rhavë

sairhaveThe Janya or Great Angel that governs Saturn in Filianism is Sai Rhavë.  Sai Rhavë is one of the three Janyati associated with the Feminine Trinity. Sai Raya is associated with the Mother, Sai Candre is associated with the Daughter, and Sai Rhavë is associated with the Dark Mother.

One of the big debates in monotheistic religions is whether God is imminent and with us in our daily lives, whether God is a Creator who is apart from Creation, or whether God is so far beyond us to be incomprehensible to us. In Filianism, this is not a debate, but all three are true. In order to help us understand this, we use the model of the Feminine Trinity. I say, model, because the full Truth is beyond our capability. For this reason, in a sense, all religious doctrines are models. Just as we cannot truly see the Solar System but use models and pictures to understand it, in the same way, we need models and pictures to comprehend the Divine.

In the Trinity, the Mother is our Creatrix. She made us and loves us unconditionally. Yet, we became separated from her. In the Filianic tradition, like the physical Sun, She is “too bright for us to look upon.” Because of this, She gave birth to the Daughter. The Daughter is the aspect of Dea that is with us and cares about our earthly needs. When we experience the presence of Dea, it is always in one of the forms of the Daughter.

The Dark Mother is the aspect of Dea that is completely beyond our comprehension. While the Mother is too bright for us to look upon, the Dark Mother is beyond our perception altogether. She is the holder of the Mysteries that we cannot understand from an unEnlightened state, such as why suffering and evil exist or how Evil and Good are both necessary parts of manifestation. In the Filianic Tradition, she is “the Darkness beyond the Light and the Light beyond the Darkness.”

Of Her, not much can be said, but this passage from The Gospel of Our Mother God may help a little.

She that hath no beginning nor any end; She that did stand in the heart of chaos and make all things harmonious, She that doth bear the worlds within Her hand; the maid that knoweth Her is truly free.

She that is the maker of being and of unbeing; She that is all that is and all that is not; the maid that knoweth her in truth hath left all worlds; hath left in truth the body and the mind.

The Clew of the Horse, 45-46, Authorised Version

For obvious reasons, there can be no images of the Dark Mother. On the other hand, even though She is associated with the Dark Mother, Sai Rhavë is also one of the Seven Great Angels, and there are some feminine images for her. These include Kali from the Vedic Tradition and all “dark” and “crone” forms of goddesses. Filianism does not recommend direct devotion to the Dark Mother or to Sai Rhavë.

Saturn Returns

The Saturn or Rhavic principle is a paradox. On one hand, it is beyond manifestation, and its highest level is no less than Enlightenment itself. On the other hand, it is deeply wound up with the material world and what binds us to it. One of the ways that the Rhavic principle/Saturn binds us to materiality is through time. Saturn is the great timekeeper of our lives.

The Saturn cycle marks all of the natural ages for our rites of passage towards maturity. The first time transiting Saturn squares our natal Saturn is at the age of seven, which is considered the Age of Reason. We have our first Saturn opposition at the age of fourteen, which is the average age of puberty. Our second Saturn square is when we are twenty-one, which is the common age when children are considered full adults.

The first time that Saturn returns to the position it was in when we were born is when we are around 29.5 years old. The age we are during our first Saturn return can vary, however, from age 27 to 30, and because of retrogrades, it can last for a couple of years. This marks the end of the first stage of our lives as we move towards full maturity.

Our second Saturn return happens between 57 and 60, and it is at this stage that we move from “mature adult” to “honored elder.” If we live to age 87-90, we will have a third Saturn return. A very small handful of people may live to their fourth Saturn return, which would be around 117-120 years old, but that is very rare indeed.

For most people, Saturn divides our lives into three parts: childhood, maturity, and old age. Of course, a 25-year-old is not a child and a 62-year-old is not exactly old, but the Saturn boundaries are real. Once they are crossed, we change dramatically.

The Material World and the Soul

Each Janya and her planet have the same glyph. All of the glyphs are made from a combination of three symbols, the Circle of Spirit, the Crescent of Soul, and the Cross of the Material World.

Saturn GlyphAs in the glyph for Sai Thamë, the Circle of Spirit, or the connection with the Solar, is absent. There is just the Soul, or the connection with the Lunar, and the material world. In Sai Rhavë glyph, however, the material world is sitting on top of the Soul. This seems an apt depiction. Unlike in the glyph for Sai Vikhë in which the cross is off to the side, in this glyph, the cross is directly over the Soul and dominating it.

Astrological Associations of Saturn

Sect: Day

Oriental Element: Tsuchi 土 (Earth)

Rules Aquarius, Day House

Air Aquarius

Rules Capricorn, Night House

Earth Capricorn

Exalted in Libra

In Detriment in Leo and Cancer

In Fall in Aries

Daytime Triplicity Ruler of Air

Participating Triplicity Ruler of Fire

In Joy in the 12th House

Temperament:

Oriental (in front of the Sun): Cold and Wet

Occidental (behind the Sun): Cold and Dry

Day of the Week: Saturday

Orb: 9° (Moiety 4.5°)

Colors: Indigo, brown, and black

Plants: Hemlock, fern, poppy, moss, mandrake, hemp, willow, and pine

Animals: Cats, dogs, serpents, mice, eels, tortoises, and bats

Metal: Lead

Stones: Sapphire, lapis lazuli, all black stones, and all stones that are unpolishable

The Way of Renunciation

All of the non-Luminary planets have a spiritual path that is associated with them. The spiritual path associated with Saturn is that of renunciation or releasing oneself of all social status and material belongings. This is a hard path. It is the way of the hermit or the spiritual beggar.

See Also:

Sleeping Beauty and the Three Faces of Saturn

The Astrology of Sailor Moon – Part VI: Sailor Saturn

Jupiter 木星

Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System. She is the Greater Benefic and is the planet of generosity and good fortune. Jupiter governs the rhythm of the Music of the Spheres, as well as the harmony that weaves through our laws and social order. Jupiter’s influence on manifestation is usually positive.

The Janya of Jupiter: Sai Thamë

Sai Thame dollIn Filianism, the Great Angel, or Janya, that governs Jupiter is Sai Thamë, and She is associated with the element of Earth.

In many Creation mythologies, the Universe was created by forming Cosmos, or Order, out of Chaos. This is the fundamental principle of Sai Thamë. While there have been many different religious traditions throughout history, in many pantheons, the chief deity is either the one associated with Sai Raya, the Janya of the Sun, or Sai Thamë. The reason that Sai Thamë often functions as the chief deity is that She is the Intelligence that governs the movements of all of manifestation.

In Traditional cultures, human laws and social order are seen as an extension of the Harmony of the Cosmos, or the Music of the Spheres. In Filianism, the word thamë refers to the subtle principle of harmony that is a part of the fabric of the Cosmos and that can still be found in remnants even into the Late Iron Age that we live in now. In Japanese, the word for this is 和, wa.

Scientists will tell us that it is fundamental to the nature of the workings of the Universe that entropy, or chaos, can never decrease in a closed system. It takes an effort from an outside entity or force to reinstate order as things naturally disintegrate into disorder. On this point, Modern Science is actually in agreement with Traditional teachings. The reason for rituals and religious celebrations was to regularly and intentionally realign a culture to the celestial harmony so it did not fall into chaos.

A good description of the Divine Harmony that is associated with Sai Thamë can be found in Feminine Scripture:

For there are ways and rhythms in the course of life, of day and night, of seasons and the moon, by which all life, all thought, all work are governed and these movements are the breath of the Divine, reflected in the highest spheres and every living thing.

All nature is a vast and subtle music to which the innocent soul is close attuned.

The profane assay to sever themselves from this music, fixing new laws of gain and self-advantage against the law of universal love.

Honour in all things the times and the seasons, keeping fast in times of fast with diligence and care; rejoicing in times of feast with generous outpouring.

No tree may blossom out of season, nor any flower greet springtime with austerity, but a maid lacking inward control is broken from the rhythm.

For her shall there be nor warmth nor cold, shall there be neither light nor darkness.

Thamelic life is danced within the music of Eternity, and the pattern of the dance is Wholeness

The Gospel of Our Mother God, The Way of Simplicity, 3-10

Some feminine images for Sai Thamë are Justitia, or Lady Justice, from the Roman tradition, Sri Saraswati from the Vedic tradition in her role as the Divine Musician, and Our Lady Mary as Queen of Heaven.

Jupiter Returns

Jupiter has an orbit of approximately 12 years. This means that on a personal level, every 12 years or so, Jupiter comes back to the same place that she was in when you were born. This is called a Jupiter return.

Jupiter returns are considered to be a time of good luck, fortune, and opportunity. How fortunate they actually are will depend on the position and condition of Jupiter in an individual’s Nativity Chart.  Yet, regardless of what happens on a material level, on a spiritual level, Jupiter returns are a time to reflect upon your own personal thamë, or where your life fits into the general harmony of the Cosmos. They also provide the perfect opportunity for you to realign yourself with that harmony if you have fallen away from it.

Soul and the Material World

Each planet has a glyph which is the same as the glyph for the associated Janya. These glyphs are made using three symbols, the Circle of Spirit, the Crescent of Soul, and the Cross of the Material World.

Jupiter GlyphIn Sai Thamë’s glyph, the Crescent of Soul, or the connection with the Lunar, is on top of the material world. While the soul is dominating the material world, the Circle of Spirit, or the connection with the Solar, is absent. The reason for this is that for there to be harmony, there must first be separation.

Feminine Scripture says, “Earth moves, but Heaven is still. The rim revolves, but the Centre remains without motion.” The Clew of the Horse, 1-2. Harmony involves motion, so it is not completely One with the Divine. It is, however, the closest that we can come to the Divine while still in the world of flux and change.

Astrological Associations of Jupiter

Sect: Day

Oriental Element: Ki 木 (Wood)

Rules Sagittarius, Day House

Fire Sagitarrius.png

Rules Pisces, Night House

Water Pisces

Exalted in Cancer

In Detriment in Gemini and Virgo

In Fall in Capricorn

Nighttime Triplicity Ruler of Fire

Participating Triplicity Ruler of Air

In Joy in the 11th House

Temperament:

Hot and Wet

Day of the Week: Thursday

Orb: 9° (Moiety 4.5°)

Colors: Blue, purple

Plants: Mace, nutmeg, oregano, basil, daisies, cherry-trees, birch-trees, and pines

Animals: Elephants, sheep, oxen, eagles, bees, and larks

Metal: Tin

Stones: Amethyst, sapphire, emerald, topaz, crystal, and marble

The Way of Good Works

Each non-Luminary Janya has an associated spiritual path, which will lead to the Divine if followed fully. The path associated with Sai Thamë is that of good works. These good works can be in the form of the performance of the rituals necessary to keep a society in tune with Divine Harmony. They can also be in the form of acts of charity and justice. While in modern times these are often seen as separate and even in competition with each other, in a Traditional society, they were all part of the same principle and both were necessary to maintain the Divine Order.