Exploring Key-Relationships between the Arts, the Cosmos and Our Place on Planet Earth
Writing an article about the creative arts and astrology, posed me with the question: did I want to give endless references to astrological words and themes in literature, art and the performing arts? Or did I literally want to be creative myself, and marry up the right- brain side of astrology with our innate creativity and its expression in the world of the arts? I decided on the latter course.
At the same time, I didn’t want to forget the left- brained, mathematical side, because, after all, astrology is essentially equally balanced in its use of both hemispheres! When I took a more lateral look at what the sciences had to say, I saw displays of beauty which are reflected in the structures and rhythms in the human body and artistic form. As a result, as I write, I would like to unfold the interconnectedness of these seemingly different approaches to life.
I wanted to look at the word ‘Art’, because I feel astrology is an Art, and in the ancient sense of that word is a skill, an expertise, a craftsmanship and a mastery. The astrologer is, or should be, an artisan. Probably, with all the remarkable research going on in this field, the left-brained, scientific world will eventually acknowledge a ‘system’ which proves the workings of astrology, but one thing I’m very sure of is that the awe-inspiring, geometrical patterns, intelligence and correspondences between what is above and what is below, will have a beauty. Beauty is always present in higher mathematics, serving to honour further our intuition and our creative minds, and beauty is a science unto itself when one understands its inner intelligence!
Putting The Art Back Into Things:
It has always been known that the arts nourish the soul life; in times past there was a special co-operation between these and healing/medicine and religion. A priest would reside over a performance of a play in classical Greek theatre, symbolising that a linking in with greater creative forces required respect and indeed care for the processes which would be activated in the watchers.
In times past, whether it was in dance, music or drama, performances were geared to being a bridge, an intermediary between us and the universal forces outside. We saw a connection between the nature cycles, spiritual development and the arts. Through theatre, and its use of myth in particular, (myths being the tapestry stories behind astrology) the audiences had a renewed awareness of their inner truths and stories via the life patterns clothed in myth. The spectators underwent a re-connection with their heritage, ideals and the group spirit. Instead of feeling like isolated entities, as so many do today, they were able to see a greater, cohesive picture and, perhaps just as importantly, ‘click’ into the cycles at work in nature, the heavens and within the microcosm of the body. The mathematical proportions, harmonics and rhythms within all these, fit like a jigsaw puzzle, and this was sensed and acted out by our ancestors. No wonder a priest in his/her capacity as intermediary, was present!
In times past, mystery plays were performed at specific festivals and junctions of the year. The cycles of life, death and renewal, were portrayed in ways to make sense of our existence, and to connect us with the web of life.
In particular, I am reminded of the ‘Sacred Drama of Eleusis’ by Eduard Schure, based on the Persephone – Pluto myth. Originally this drama-mystery play was enacted at Eleusis every year – a true Taurus-Scorpio drama, mirroring the seasonal/nature cycle of growth, death and re-birth, and, at the soul level, the fight and eventual compromise between the polar archetypes within us all. These are clothed in the images of the Earth goddess, Demeter, who is the part of us which, loving light and abundance, holds on to what we have created, and the dark god Pluto, who dis-members in order that we can re-member the need to let go periodically and be reborn to a greater sense of self.
Persephone, whose name means ‘to follow the sound’, is Demeter’s precious daughter, who acts as an intermediary between these two. By straying too far from home and safe ground, and thus putting herself in the position of seeing the ground pulled away from under her feet by Pluto, (haven’t we all at times!) she acts as a catalyst for the Venusian and Plutonian themes within us which takes us through an initiation along the lines of loss, rage, grief, forgiveness and reconciliation, where all players are irrevocably changed and reborn to a new relationship to self.
In recent times, earlier this century, the choreography and dance work of Martha Graham, opened the doors to the archetypes (gods) that live within us. ‘Ardent Song’, was a piece about the different phases of the Moon, from Moon-rise to dawn, the central character being Aphrodite with all her light and dark sides of love. This had quite some effect on her audiences. You might like to recap in your mind plays, dance, music, poetry or art which have awoken messages from within you. Just as in life, VenusNeptune contacts between people heighten idealism, creativity and emotional soul bonding, so we can look at our own charts and those of well known creative people (past and present) and understand why they open us up and enhance our expressiveness.
CREATIVITY IS CATCHING
Look at it this way – The Creator gave us life and by being here on Earth, we are also being creators with whatever we manifest in thought, word and action. Being creative means being ALIVE.
We often forget we have an inner director or creator! So often nowadays, we place technique and ‘perfection’ before inspiration and beauty. We don’t necessarily have to do things to the ‘glory of God’, but by allowing the Soul to be intellectualised out of our creative studies and viewing, we diminish our own life force. The creative process itself is an act of trust in a greater force beside the everyday self. Whether we lose ourselves in the act of creation, by active involvement, or by observing and feeling it, the prime experience, as our ancestors knew, was the absorption and taking part in that mysterious beauty which can move and change us.
The word e-motion, links of course with movement. Children have an innate capacity for play – re-creation (to create again) – for they are natural visual thinkers, and make-believe games and their link with imagery, are powerful tools. Nowadays, too much ‘computerising’ and involvement with video games and television, dull the soul, not just in children but also with adults who find they are avoiding emotional communications with one another by finding their entertainment in high-tech around them, as well as in the proverbial television.
The word creation means half of a whole – half manifest, half un-manifest – and forging a link between the two is our job. We are here on Earth to express the idea, which is un-manifest, into matter. Plato referred to Ideas, not as abstract concepts but as living Spirits. Interestingly, the Greek word for idea can also be translated as ‘form’.
AS ABOVE SO BELOW – BEING IN PROPORTION
This seems a good place to connect up the fascinating parallels between the very big and the very small around us. The Art arising out of the mathematics displayed in living forms, is mirrored in the geometry and harmonics of the astrological chart, as we will see…..
Man is a cosmos, so is a single cell and so also is a solar system. The word cosmos means order, and the micro and macro – cosmic worlds obey the laws of harmonics, showing the ‘hand’ of the Creative intelligence at work in life. We can be equally humbled and proud because we are also creators. From the apparent world to the sub-atomic, all forms are envelopes for geometric patterns, intervals and relationships.
Let us look at the Golden Mean proportion; a mathematical measurement found throughout nature, in sacred architecture and indeed in the proportions of the human body. The Fibonacci series arising from this figure of 1.618…. comes about when starting with 0+1=1 +1=2 +1=3 +2=5 +3=8 +5=13 etc. Those number proportions of 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 etc. are, for example, seen in the dimensions of the body – the proportionate distances between the finger nails to the first joint, to the second joint, to the length of the hand, to the elbow, to the shoulder.
The golden mean spiral is found to be super-imposable on the foetus of man and animals, and exists in the growth patterns of many plants. The above series of numbers show up in the distribution of leaves around a central stem of a plant, and the distribution of seeds in the sunflower and in the cactus, conform to the golden mean spiral. The golden section can be found in flowers having 5 petals or multiples of 5, as in, for example, the rose family and all flowers of the edible, fruit- bearing plants. The flowers of love, such as the orchid, the azalea and the passion flower, are all governed by pentagonal symmetry. The pentagon as the symbol of life, was the basis of many Gothic rose-window mandalas.
The number 5 therefore, seems to be linked with the creative, living principle. Astrologers will connect this with the fact that in the 5th harmonic chart ones creativity and healing abilities show up strongly. If you take a quick look at your natal chart, the 72 and 144 degree aspects will give you an idea of this if you haven’t got round to calculating the 5th chart yet. This particular harmonic chart sheds light on ones sexual nature too – another creative area of life.
The golden mean proportion is obvious in spiral shapes, such as shells and antlers. Recent research is showing that the solar system itself ‘works’ with that proportion too. Wherever there is an intensification of beauty and harmony of form, the golden mean will be present. And our ancestors copied this in sacred architecture, creating a bridge between the Cosmos, Nature and Man. The old expression, ‘God geometrises’, gives us many clues as to how to live in harmony with the natural world!
Whole number ratios of musical harmonics: the octave, 3rd, 4th, 5th correspond to an underlying numerical framework which exists in chemistry, atomic physics, crystals, architecture and botany. The relationships in the periodic table of elements – from which all matter is formed – resemble the overtone structure in music, and the structure of the atom itself contains ratios and numbers which resemble the harmonic principle of music. Old writings show that in the past the Chinese thought a piece of music was an energy formula! And lastly, there are 12 groups of fundamental subatomic particles grouped into 3 sets of 4, (Basic astrological mathematics: 12 signs and houses, 4 elements and 3 modes of action – cardinal, fixed and mutable.) Apparently, even in a space that was free of particles, there would still exist 12 distinct force fields within that space that individually could, apparently randomly, at any moment generate its particular particles within that space.
The four major disciplines of classical education were geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and harmonics. All these aspects are contained in an astrological chart, plus a wealth of imagery and myths.
ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE
So, from looking at life as a wonderful Art form, the symmetry of which is mirrored in the cosmos, nature, the body, in the atom and in music, let us look more closely at the mirror of the horoscope, which, as we have seen, contains within it geometry, harmonics (musical intervals) and of course, rhythms. I like to think of the horoscope as a mirror. It is your soul’s contract with time and space! I have always felt rather frustrated using words to interpret a chart. It is a huge responsibility, as words can be so easily misunderstood; they are inadequate. To gently encourage a person to open up to the inner landscape of images, and to encourage the inner characters and patterns via drama, dance and music, personal truths can pour in. For a start, planets are web-sites of energy! Of power and information, as well.
Just as nowadays we are often scared of exposing ourselves in creative ways, so it is the same when it comes to ‘stretching’ our experience of astrology by acting out, or in any way entering into, the rich inner landscape of our ‘play of life.’ It is easier to take a purely psychological approach. But how about this as a reminder of an old and sacred approach? In a 14 AD text, called ‘Astronomica’, Marichus refers to the ‘Houses’ (the areas of life expression) of the horoscope as ‘Temples’ to visit, to worship deities, and to be where the outer world meets the inner world. I like to think of the images, which the planetary symbols rest behind, as doorways to understanding ourselves and to communicating in as open or as narrow a way as we choose, with the outside world. In that sense our birth chart is a road map, holding so many routes and crossroads to a destination.
We can of course look at the chart to pinpoint our creativity in more technical ways. We can look at our 5th House and the House which Leo rules for us. We can look at the aspects to Venus – to see how in touch we are with our artistry and desires. We can look at her connections with Neptune to see how much of a hot line we have to the source of imagination, fantasy and love; to her link with Uranus to see how ‘quirky’ and futuristic our creativity and desires are, and to Pluto to see how regenerative, erotic and passionate they are. Yes and, just as significantly, to Saturn, to see how well we put them into form and composition.
And as a result, we judge ourselves, often finding ourselves wanting! Surely, how much more interesting and explorative it is to allow those same energies and many others to be brought to life – rusty though they may be – and enjoyed. Then, we will really feel alive – in our own unique way.
With that realisation, I developed workshops and consultations called ‘Star Performances’, which are specifically directed at people in the performing arts, whether amateur or professional, who wish to develop new roles and creative angles, or who wish to use the focus of the birth chart to understand their rhythms, blocks and potentials more. Under that canopy, I also enjoying working with people from all walks of life who genuinely want to explore their creativity. Periodically, we all have to find new ways of using our Art. For myself, I felt a strong pull to combine some of the early loves and talents in my life with my years of astrological and therapeutic work. On that note, it is useful to look back at what your dreams and early gifts, realised or unrealised, were and find a way to integrate them in what you are doing now!
It is easy to see why certain well known actors fit certain parts and why they get typecast, with its resultant safety but also boredom factor. We can also see why people don’t fit certain roles. But, just as in everyday life, why stay that way when we are capable of being so much more? The transits and progressions over the years of out lives mark, like a clock, the opportunities for new character roles and themes to come on stage. Of course we can resist them, but doing that can cause more problems in the long run. In the end we often have to be brave enough to move into new roles and lifestyles. The theatre stage analogy which follows, explains this more visually.
Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage and the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances and one Man in his time plays many parts……..”.. Take a few moments to liken your life’s journey to a play on a theatre stage! A stage is indeed empty until something is performed, and in your ‘”Play of Life’ there is a script and varied characters. Let us take this analogy further…. In your play, there are leading characters, some smaller roles, some non-speaking parts, even some walk-on parts. As with any play, there are occasions of stage fright, forgotten lines or missed cues, and sometimes other people have to consequently play that part for you! There are even unexpected and unforeseen crises and illnesses in an actor’s life which prevent him or her performing! But yes, the play goes on, even if not so smoothly.
The characters in turn have “their exits and their entrances”, and naturally timing is very important. In a long running play, the actors tend to get burn out or at least need a rest. If they are wisely guided, they move off ‘into the wings’, giving others the space to have a go.
Do you know who your leading characters are which you perform regularly? Which ones keep coming under the spotlight? Do you know what your weaker roles are? Decide which ones need strengthening and healing, or even a rest ! Which ones are ready to come on stage in your life and which ones are ready to go into the wings of life for a while. Take the opportunity to recognise your stuck roles and patterns. We can compare these to the endless rehearsals (repeating sagas, which eventually strengthen our more underdeveloped parts) which we need until we flow more and move on. Remember – there is no bad character or role in us – just wounds which keep festering and being opened up by life’s knocks – because we haven’t healed them yet.
Each of the planetary and zodiacal energies can be likened to a personal character on our stage of life. Exercising each of the Characters which live within us, is as important as physical fitness exercises!
Wounds become sacred when we are willing to release our old stories and create space for new ones. We can truly be creators in our lives and relationships when we dance with time and recognise our bigger natures. When we can bring our souls on stage more fully, the forms and work we create will always remind us of and reflect back the creative intelligence in Life. The symmetry, ratios and patterns we see in the heavens, in nature and in the horoscope, are worth reflecting on.