With this 12th meditation of Pisces, in the cycle of twelve yearly meditations at the time of the full moon every month, we bring one cycle to a close and prepare to begin another. This is the last of the meditations of the attributes of knowledge, before we begin the higher spiritual interlude of the three rays of aspect: will/power, love/wisdom and creative intelligence. One of the themes of this meditation is, therefore, completion.
Alice Bailey counts the 12th and last labor of Hercules as "The Capture of The Red Cattle of Geryon" in the Hercules cycle from the book, The Labours of Hercules. In this version, the labor of the 12th gate is to go to the place where the "Great Illusion is enthroned" and recapture the "blood-red cattle" held there, driving them home to the Sacred City. All along the way, "wherever wrong had triumphed he dealt the powers of evil a deadly blow, and righted the balance in favour of justice....At times he lost his way, but always Hercules turned back, retraced his steps, and journeyed on." When at last he succeeded in crossing land, crossing the sea in a golden chalice, and crossing the mountains, he finally reached his destination and was greeted with the words, "Welcome, O Son of God, who is also a son of man...The jewel of immortality is yours. By these twelve labours have you overcome the human, and put on the divine. Home you have come, no more to leave. Upon the starry firmament your name shall be inscribed, a symbol to the struggling sons of men of their immortal destiny. The human labours ended, your cosmic tasks begin."
The enduring power of myth is in its representation of the human journey, from beginning to end and from ignorant to wise, from ordinary to exceptional, opening the mind to speculate about destiny, immortality, the nature of the gates, the milestones to be crossed, and how to interpret the many chapters of life. Do the cattle represent desire formed into the thoughts that motivate our lives? Must all desires and thoughts be directed only to Home and away from the Great Illusion which we call life on earth before the human story is completed?
In every spiritual tradition there are portrayed stages, steps or labors to be undergone before enlightenment, redemption, salvation or initiation is achieved. Many curious about Buddhism ask if nirvana is the end of the story or if it goes on to a higher life. In the Bailey tradition, likes many others, completion of the human stage of evolution is succeeded by life in the superhuman stage or 5th kingdom of nature and beyond. What is unique in the Bailey books is the description of the final stages from earthly to cosmic consciousness on the path of higher evolution.
Cosmos: Our view of it
One element remains constant and visible to all: the constellation of stars named in honor of Hercules. No matter how many interpretations of the myth we have, there remains an observable collection of points of light in the night sky that show us 'the larger picture' of a vast universe in which our brief time and little place, Earth, are seen in relation to the eternal vastness of space. Naming our meditations after these constellations raises our consciousness to the reality of cosmos, through the science of astronomy, the twelve types of astrology, and the psychology of mythology.
Alice Bailey considers the constellation of Pisces, for instance, to include the entire 30 degree section of the sky, not just the constellation of Pisces itself but the circumpolar constellations as well. "The first constellation in Pisces is that curious cluster of stars called 'The Band', connecting the two fishes....the second constellation is Andromeda, the chained woman…the third constellation in Pisces is the king named Cepheus, the husband of Cassiopeia and the father of Andromeda." Given our essentially tribal nature we project our family units onto the limitless sky in an effort to understand our biological and psychological patterns of relationship. It would be a very small and inadequate worldview and teaching that could not accommodate both the truth of science and those historical, psychological, literary and mythological truths of the ages. Each 'sign' is viewed as 30 degrees of the 360 degree whole of the cosmos.
For teachers, for all teachers in primary, secondary, university and graduate schools alike, science is foundational, as it should be, leading to scientific and technological advances, good jobs and increased knowledge for humanity. Students are interested in studying the stars, with or without observatories or telescopes. As we all know, the split between astronomy and astrology is a scientific one: where the stars actually were at your birth is different from where astrology says they were, because astrologers use outdated maps for calculating natal charts, fun though they are. For those interested, the School of Ageless Wisdom www.unol.org/saw has addressed this discrepancy under the heading astrochemistry and has made available an astronomical calendar of the year for purchase and helpful instruction for those interested. Another web site offering astronomical calendars is from physicist Guy Ottewell at www.universalworkshop.com.
The astronomical calendar reveals an interesting space between Scorpio and Sagittarius, when the path of the zodiac crosses, for a short time, the constellation Ophiuchus, which is not one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Ophiuchus does, however, like all the visible constellations, have a long history of mythology and star names in many cultures. It is called the Serpent-holder, due to the constellation Serpens next to it, and because he is the one who can cure poison from the serpent or viper, and is, therefore, generally associated with the ancient Greek healer Aesculapius (also spelled Asklepios), the first medical doctor and ship's surgeon of the Argo, whom King James I described as "a mediciner after[wards] made a god." The Serpens is variously known as the serpent of Ophiuchus, of Aesculapius and of Hercules, the three making a stellar triangle. Psychologically, then, we could say that after the extreme battles in the sign of Scorpio, a brief exit occurs to consult a physician for healing. The constellation of Ophiuchus itself stretches from the head of Hercules to Scorpio, is partly in the Milky Way, and straddles the celestial equator. In some renditions of mythology the healer-figure is slain by Hercules and it is said that "the Hero himself was assigned to these stars by Hyginus, and gave them his name". In astro-mythology we have cosmic stories that, like all myths, can lead to releasing the gentle power of the soul, as healer, and of the intuition which clothes itself in symbols and is the key to depth psychology. As Carl Jung (Freud and Psychoanalysis) wrote, "the whole of astro-mythology is at bottom nothing but psychology-unconscious psychology-projected into the heavens; for myths never were and never are made consciously", they arise from a deeper layer of being.
Cosmos: Our Place in it
We can also consider the journey of Hercules, the hero-god who became a constellation, as symbolic of humanity, the world disciple, and the completion of the long arduous evolutionary journey back to the cosmos from which it came as part stardust, part light. Elevated to the sky, the myth of Hercules suggests that a cosmic journey awaits us, too, and that at the end of the human cycle of trials and battles, completion leads upward or outward to a greater destiny. Christians call this heaven, Hindus and Buddhists call it ending the journey on the wheel of samsara, the Great Illusion. Many philosophic, esoteric and religious traditions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Catholicism, for instance hold that immortality, enlightenment or sainthood must be achieved by deeds. Gandhi was called Mahatma, Great Soul, in is his lifetime and Pope John Paul II was called 'the Great' soon after his death. Nietzsche, Gurdieff and Ouspensky were also of the opinion that immortality was not a given, but had to be achieved. Ouspenskys' book, The Psychology of Possible Evolution, asserts that immortality must be gained; before then there is nothing to remember worthy of immortality. He suggested writing 'Remember your Self' somewhere conspicuous where you could see it at all times, as a constant reminder of your true identity, so often forgotten in the immediacy of the moment. Richard Bucke, in his book written in 1899 called Cosmic Consciousness refers to the journey of evolution as "Simple Consciousness, Self-Consciousness and Cosmic Consciousness" with chapters on 'Gautama the Buddha, Jesus the Christ, Paul, Mohammed, Dante, Francis Bacon, Walt Whitman, and Edward Carpenter', among others, illustrating his theory. This was one of the first popular books in the Western world to define, describe and illustrate cosmic consciousness with famous figures from east and west.
Alice Bailey and the Tibetan define and describe the completion phase of human evolution in unique and graphic ways. They call it the path of Higher Evolution after the human cycle is completed and chart the cosmic work awaiting the liberated. The 6th initiation of decision is said present seven choices to the Master, all but the first leading outward to cosmic work, "The seven Paths are…1. the Path of Earth service, 2. the Path of Magnetic Work, 3. the Path of Training for the Planetary Logoi, 4. the Path to Sirius, 5. the Ray Path, 6. the Path on which our Logos is found, 7. the Path of Absolute Sonship". All seven paths express relationship leading to higher synthesis, "all these seven Paths lead to some objective which is thereby put in touch with our planetary life; these objectives-with the life and conditions they represent-present to the Master a vision of possibility". These cosmic choices presented as worlds within worlds all infused with Beings as planets, suns and stars spark our imaginations to see the path of life as unending from earth to cosmos, and back again, as energy streams in and from our small point of light.
Wishing you light from the soul as each one of us contributes our lighted thoughtform of synthesis and relationship in monthly meditation as world service.
Bailey, Alice A. The Labours of Hercules. NY: Lucis, 1974, pp. 195-201.
___The Rays and the Initiations. NY: Lucis, 1988, pp. 641, 396, 401.
Bucke, Richard M. Cosmic Consciousness. NY: Dutton, (1901) 1969, p. 66.
Jung, Carl G. Freud and Psychoanalysis. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton U. Press, 1961, p. 210.
The School of Ageless Wisdom www.unol.org/saw.
Allen, Richard H. Star Names. NY: Dover, 1963, pp. 298-299.