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Pandora's Jar and the Path to Enlightenment

Malvin Artley
March 2010


Greetings, my Friends!
It has been a busy time here in Adelaide, with the Fringe Arts Festival and the Clipsal 500 race just finished and with state elections just decided. It has been quite busy with work from my end as well, as you may have noticed from the lack of the Sagittarius and Pisces letters. I had an interesting experience at work the other day, one which set me thinking about how we perceive things and how easily we give ourselves over to thinking along certain lines. I had placed an order for a part for an installation I was doing on a machine and it had duly arrived at the transport depot, where I had to go pick it up. When I arrived there the guy at the counter took the slip of paper with the reference number on it, disappearing into the labyrinth of boxes on the shelves behind the counter. When he reappeared some time later he was carrying what I thought to be rather a large box, considering what I had ordered. As I walked out of the depot back to my ute I was pondering on what in the world I was doing with such a large package. Perhaps the supplier had made a mistake and screwed up my order (Hey, it is known to happen.) Perhaps I had forgotten what I had ordered and what arrived really did require such a big box. I was curious.

As I approached my ute I began to tear into the box. What in the world was in there, I thought? I got the box open and started pulling out large portions of plastic and bubble wrap. There was nothing in there except for bubble wrap and empty plastic bags. It was quite puzzling. By all appearances I had received a generous shipment of bubble wrap. Thank you, supplier! Bubble wrap always comes in handy when I have to ship Christmas presents to my family in the States. Then, I started sifting through the apparently empty plastic bags, eventually to find my quarry - the legend plate I had ordered for the switch I had to install on the machine. I was expecting something considerably larger. What I got instead was a tiny little strip of plastic, roughly 1"x " (25 x 6 mm). I just sat there and laughed to myself. "What a waste!" I thought. All that packaging for such a tiny item. Well, they certainly ensured that it would not be damaged. Thank you, supplier, once again! In the end it was a case of - to paraphrase an old saying - you can't judge the contents by the packaging. To be serious about it, I reckon whoever packed that legend plate had a pretty good sense of humor. However, the 'episode of the deceptive box' set me thinking about how we so often give ourselves over to deceptive appearances. In the end, as we will all eventually realize, nothing in the outer world is as it seems.

Strange as it may seem, Aries has much to teach us about overcoming ordinary appearances. As we have now entered the Aries interlude and thus the beginning of the peak spiritual impulse for the year, our musings and meditations become quite important as the days process through the next few months. Aries is one of the 'power signs', one which is equated with great power in a spiritual sense - one closely associated with the first Ray, the expression of Will or Power in our local universe. Aries commences or starts things. It is known as the sign denoting beginnings and any Aries type (Sun or Ascendant in that sign) is known as a person who is great at getting things moving or of always being in on anything that is new. It is the sign par excellence of initiation or of the initiating impulse with all that the term 'initiation' implies. Thus, in spiritual parlance, it is a great saving force and the herald of better conditions. In everyday terms, Aries brings change. The trouble is that in our personal lives change is not always seen as a move toward better conditions: in fact it is often seen to be quite the opposite.

The three rulers of Aries - orthodox, esoteric and hierarchical - are all planets that are equated with change in some manner. Mars (the orthodox ruler) is the agent of destruction of old outworn orders and of the conflicts that engender that destruction. Mars brings to Aries the energy of 'entering into battle for the Lord' - the fighting instinct and the energy devoted to seeing through any change that is needed, either in the world or in one's personal life. Mercury (the esoteric ruler) is mutability 'personified' - ever-changing, ever-relating, ever-moving - the 'agent of adjustment', and brings to Aries the ability to arrive at 'unity through effort'. Uranus (the hierarchical ruler) is known as the agent of sudden change and the unexpected. This latter ruler is the true 'engine of Aries', if you will, the planet that is the real force behind the workings of the sign in our world. It brings to Aries the 'will to be and to do' and 'unfolds the power to manifest'. Uranus brings the 'urge to better conditions', and it is this planet that we need to investigate to get at the true meaning of Aries for the festival of Easter this year.

Aries, in esoteric astrology, is known as the 'birthplace of divine ideas'. On the face of it one might think that a 'divine idea' is some great overarching principle, a profound Law in action, a stream of mind which we can only hope to glimpse some day, but which is so far beyond our present mental capacity as to seem impossible of comprehension. Well, a divine idea is indeed all these things and more, but we are mistaken if we believe that it is anything akin to what we conceive of as a human 'idea'. In fact, the vast majority of human thoughts are of a worldly nature - temporal, fleeting, mistaken with regard to the truth and full of habitual patterns. It is only when the mind becomes transfigured by a direct realization of one of the aforementioned 'divine ideas' that we gain any true insight into the real workings of divine mind. In Buddhist terms, it is not until one enters or attains the first ground and has a direct realization of emptiness, however fleeting, that one attains any true realization of our existence on this earth (or should I say, lack thereof?). In Christian terms this is the Transfiguration, and in Theosophical terms this would be the third initiation from a human standpoint, or the first from a larger perspective. Such an experience is the mark that one is incontrovertibly and from thenceforth unwaveringly on the road to final liberation and full realization as a divine being - an Initiate, or Arya being. How does Uranus fit in with the process just described, though?

In orthodox astrology Uranus is called one of the transpersonal planets, or 'one of the outers' (which has some interesting connotations as a turn of phrase). The transpersonal planets are those outside the orbit of Saturn - Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, as well as all the 'new' trans-Neptunian bodies, many asteroids and plutinos. Actually, for the sake of esoteric debate, Pluto is not a transpersonal planet. However, it does lead one to the feet of Neptune, in a manner of speaking. As an aside, Pluto rids us of the personal obstacles to spiritual life and readies us for the experience of the true transpersonals, Uranus and Neptune. Uranus is a 'reaping planet' in our solar system, along with Saturn and Neptune and as such can be seen to be a way-station for those who do reach full enlightenment (full initiatory status) and who are set to pass beyond the bounds of our solar systemic life and onwards to ever-greater work and realization. The work of Uranus is to manifest the divine in the outer worlds, the worlds of form, and all beings who gravitate toward that type of work eventually pass on to Uranus, in a manner of speaking, once they have attained the requisite realizations.

With the preceding points in mind, it is time to get to the main points about Uranus and how it works in the individual - if it does at all. From a personal perspective the activity of Uranus is primarily disruptive. It does indeed bring sudden change and unexpected occurrences and it is perhaps this latter point which gives the clue as to what Uranus is primarily about in an individual sense: Uranus presents us with the opportunity to see things in a new light - to see things aside from their ordinary appearances. As such, Uranus is a great manifesting force and the changes it brings to an individual are often permanent in terms of one's life direction. Uranus conveys the spiritual force, which is a collective or unifying force, and one of the big keys to dealing with Uranian transits, progressions and the like is not to take things personally, but rather, to see how to become more responsive to collective needs and realities. The same is true for Neptunian transits. As an aside, for Pluto transits and the like, the emphasis is most always personal, even though Pluto does have a connection with the masses. The onus with Pluto is always to look at our own projections in a given circumstance. With Uranus, however, one cannot project. There is never anything to 'hook to' in a personal sense with Uranian experiences. In other words, one is not dealing with the personal or the subconscious with Uranus (or Neptune either, for that matter).

When one starts to respond directly to Uranian impulses and begins to work consciously with them, one's world is never the same thereafter with regard to how one lives, the ethics of living, how one sees the world, how one relates to others, and so forth. Uranus brings an end to worldly life. Nothing fits neatly in the box any more - in other words, one has to change one's mental outlook or the mental models into which one tries to fit everything. The problem with Uranian energies, however, is that the models are ever-changing, and often in quite unexpected directions. The whole experience of Uranus can be rather maddening at the start, until one realizes what is actually taking place.

There is a classical myth associated with Uranus. In most accounts Uranus was the husband of Gaia (the Earth) and was seen as the personification of the Sky as a fertile element. Uranus was one of the primordial gods, who existed before real (human) time. So fertile was he that he fathered some forty-five children with Gaia. He hated his offspring and interred the youngest of them in Tartarus, deep within the earth, where they caused Gaia great pain. After so many children Gaia got pretty tired of the endless series of pregnancies and entreated her sons to protect her from their father. All of them refused except for the youngest son, Cronus (Saturn), who ambushed his father one day and, using a sickle his mother had supplied him, castrated his father, casting the severed testicles into the sea. Afterwards Cronus re-interred his siblings in Tartarus rather than freeing them. For his heinous acts, both Uranus and Gaia prophesied that Cronus would eventually meet the same fate as his father in that he would be deposed by one of his own sons. Due to that prophesy Cronus devoured all of his sons, save for Zeus (Jupiter) who escaped due to the deceit of Cronus by his mother, Rhea (Cybele, the mother of the gods).

The preceding myth has many facets and a full explanation is not really needed here, but there are a couple of very important points: Uranus was the first king of the Atlantes and was the first to teach them civilization. He was a master astronomer and devised the first calendar. He knew all the cycles of the heavens. Uranus represents primordial mind - the mind which has existed since beginningless time - that 'mind' in each of us, and indeed every being, which persists from life to life and which we finally rediscover and realize at the end of our journey to full enlightenment. Uranus' youngest son, Cronus (Saturn) is equated with human time and is often said to be the personification of time, typically being portrayed with the scythe used to castrate his father, the scythe denoting reaping. In more esoteric terms, Saturn, or Cronus, is equated with karma and thus the wheel of life and death. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap" is a quote often associated with Saturn. Saturn represents human (worldly) choice and human concepts of time. Our human choices bind us to the wheel of life and death, thus clouding the primordial mind - obscuring it - castrating it, if you will, rendering it non-effectual in one's day-to-day life. In other words, one's karma prevents one from full realization as a god (divine being) and so long as we are bound to the wheel of life and death (so long as the last jot of karma remains) we live in a deluded state, blind to greater or lesser degree as to our true nature - that we are akin to and indeed 'sky-goers'.

The preceding paragraph may seem a bit confusing, but there is a point to be made here in a roundabout way: Most people respond in fullness to the planets outward to Saturn. Saturn, and thus karma, rules the life of the average person. Uranus is an unknown in such a case and is only dimly sensed when great social or earth movements are afoot. Uranus always affects the collective and not so much the individual, although collective movements always have an effect on the individual. However, once one firmly decides that they have had enough of karma and worldly life and begins the spiritual path, then Uranus comes increasingly into play in the life of the person and they begin to respond directly to Uranian influences. Saturn begins to meet his fate and to be deposed by his offspring (us), figuratively speaking. The aspiring person then becomes a citizen of two worlds, worldly and spiritual, 'in the world but not of it'. Once the light of the primordial mind touches the consciousness of a person then a veritable Pandora's jar (mistranslated as 'box') is opened and all the evils the person has committed since the dawn of their cyclic existence come forward to be accounted for. This is not to say that all a person's karma comes due at once, but a process is instigated whereby the process of clearing that karma (known as 'obstructions' in Buddhism - an apt term I would say) is greatly accelerated. Hey, we asked for it! We pay the price for freedom.

Why is the spiritual path so difficult at times? Well, it is so precisely because we misconstrue what is actually happening with our process of trying to free ourselves from the wheel of life and death. We try to remain attached to what we have known, subtle as it may be. Uranus brings the truth, and the truth is that there is ultimately nothing to which we can remain attached. This speaks of one of the four noble truths of the Buddha: To paraphrase it, where there is attachment, there is suffering. Uranus represents absolute freedom, the non-obstructive emptiness of space itself, yet also the wisdom of all the experiences contained and had therein. Uranus teaches us how to be truly civilized - content with our lot but never satisfied, compassionate toward all, unattached to outcomes or things, equal in attitude toward all, and grasping only at that which will ensure ultimate happiness for all. Uranus is completely unselfish in its effects and actions. In short, Uranus recognizes no sense of self in the human sense of the term. In truth, it is that sense of self that ultimately binds us to life in the outer worlds. Uranus gives us freedom from ourselves.

With the preceding points being said, one might think that Uranus brings only difficulty in life. Quite the contrary is the case. It is true that Uranus brings in the new and heralds better conditions. Every discovery in life that releases us from bondage, either worldly or spiritually, and leads us to better conditions comes under the realm of Uranus. Uranus rules science and technology for that very reason. Science has been a tremendous boon to human life. It has ushered in the modern age. This is but one example of Uranian influence. However, lying behind such discoveries and scientific and technological advancements are very great and occult truths - divine ideas. Science has, for instance, proven that solid matter - what we normally think of as the basis of material existence - has no basis in fact. Modern physics has proven this incontrovertibly. Such concepts as the wave-particle duality and general relativity (Einstein's famous equation that states that all is energy), for instance, show us that what we perceive of as solid matter is actually simply standing energy waves. In short, we do not live in a substantial universe. We live in and are an integral part of a vast, infinite sea of energy, ever-changing, and with everything interdependent. This is but one example of many. Science has indeed proven many of the once closely guarded secrets of religious and esoteric domain. Life is not as we perceive it through our human minds. Only the primordial mind dwells in the truth.

To bring this discussion to its final points, Uranus leads us to new perceptions and thus new technologies, worldly or spiritual. It ends forever our old ways of acting and perceiving. It rattles our comfortable little worlds and shakes us from our slumber. We do not like it, at least at first, but it is good for us. It gets us moving forward, and that is always a good thing. One can be certain that if one has had a true Uranian experience, then one has been touched by something very profound and extremely auspicious. Uranus, especially working through Aries, gives us control over forces, particularly over Yama, (or death, occultly considered), the power of destruction applied with love, greater cooperation with the Plan and the power of organization, to name a few qualities. The Aries interlude always opens the doorway to these energies and it is a very profound period in which to meditate for all the reasons thus enumerated. It is also why Aries types, though often seen as real pains in various body parts and hard to take at times, are nonetheless the true pioneers of the zodiac and ultimately people who, at least unconsciously, are here in this world to perform a real service to us all. Thus, the catch cry of the Aries Initiate:
I come forth from the plane of mind I rule.

However, the 'plane of mind' thus referred to is not the mental plane, but instead our highest essence which is found upon the plane of paranirvana, at least with regard to the individual. With that, what does this Festival of the Risen Christ hold in store for us this year? The full moon takes place on the 30th of March 2010 at 1:25 AEDT (2:25 AM UT). As is usual, the Sabian symbol for the degree of the Sun says a lot about what the actual figure conveys, and reads as follows:
"A teacher gives new symbolic forms to traditional images." 10 Aries

This symbol speaks directly of a process of abstraction - giving abstract symbols to everyday images. It is a very Uranian symbol. In occult terms it speaks of the process whereby the aspirant or disciple removes oneself from worldly conceptions. The spiritual worlds are worlds of symbols and of energies, not traditional forms. Whenever one makes contact with the inner realms they are always in communication with symbols. In short, one has to give up ordinary concepts of things if one truly wants to walk the path of return. Ordinary conceptions play no true part in the spiritual life. They are things to be abandoned. When we say truth is stranger than fiction, the fiction we should actually consider is what we cal everyday life, not what we imagine. The lunar symbol conveys even further the Uranian theme we have considered in this letter, and it reads as follows:
"Having passed safely through narrow rapids, a canoe reaches calm waters." 10 Libra

The 'narrow rapids' in this symbol are an apt description of what one might encounter in a Uranian interlude - being dashed about, unsure of one's direction, having to make sudden and decisive movements, being completely uncertain of outcomes, sometimes not being able to see the outcome due to the sheer volume of water (experience) - yet we watch it all unfold before us if we could only stay calm in the face of it. The one thing we can be certain of in such a case is that it will eventually have an outcome. We may not like it, but an outcome is assured, and the nature of that depends in large part upon how we handle ourselves in the moments that pass us by. Perhaps we would need a new canoe afterwards. Perhaps we find a new sense of strength within ourselves. Perhaps we do not make it through the experience. Perhaps two of the three results are had. We do not know how it will turn out until the end, but the experience will indelibly mark us. However, if we successfully navigate the course of the event, then we would have learned a greater measure of self-control and inner poise, hopefully, or perhaps we become a basket case and vow never to get in a canoe again. There is, however, always a sense of relief at the end as we move into calmer waters. At its best, such an experience gives us an indomitable sense of strength and resolve. At its worse it sets us back a bit, perhaps to learn better at a later date.

The lunar symbol just described sets the tone for the dynamics of the full moon figure for this festival. The solar symbol gives us a description of the ultimate result of the 'rapids' - our 'Pandora's box'. This is a very striking chart. The full moon axis forms a t-square with Pluto. Saturn is approaching its latest opposition with Uranus. Saturn forms a 'heartbreak clash' with Chiron, and there is a quintile rectangle formed by the Saturn/Uranus opposition and the nodal axis. There is a lot of creative force in this chart, as well as dynamic worldly tension.

As I stated in the Iron Tiger letter, this will be a year of revolutionary import in some way. As we look out upon the world with the eyes of the media (if that is to be trusted in any great degree) we see certain polarizations arraying themselves against each other and reactionary forces coming to the fore and rattling sabres in their own ways. This chart, which is close in nature to the Aries ingress chart, reflects the general character of the Iron Tiger year this year. We have seen the reaction by the right in the US to the health care package, weak though it is (but at least it is a start) with all the associated rhetoric and scaremongering. Remember the Medicare debate and how contentious that was at the time? It was the same then as now. There are problems with intransigence in Israel, unrest in Thailand and growing unrest in South America. Russia is dealing with terrorist attacks and Iran is a hot spot to watch. Especially from mid-year onwards, the political and financial climate in the world will be unsettled. The September 2006 eclipse will be activated by the retrograde Saturn within the month and Uranus will oppose that point mid-year. I have always seen that eclipse point as a sort of time bomb waiting to go off. So, there are things to watch for over the coming months.

The t-square previously mentioned is a difficult one and one which particularly warns of people's projections and mass unrest. Pluto at the apex of any t-square, especially with the luminaries brings a steady action of erosion of old power structures, a propensity toward mob consciousness in a mundane figure, power struggles and the ripening of individual and collective karma. I call Pluto the great 'karmic ripener'. Pluto stations in a few days, too, over the Easter holidays, meaning we are about to enter a period of several months where the normal flow of the subconscious is at bay, causing misunderstandings and frustrations because people will feel that 'something is just not right'. Instead of projection onto others, this retrograde period of Pluto can mark a time of self-sabotage, but also of deep inner searching, both for individuals and groups. When we keep in mind that Saturn is also square to Pluto, then frustration levels are increased, especially since both planets are retrograde from the 1st onward. Talk about a good April Fool's setup!

In addition, Pluto is at the midpoint of the Sun/Saturn opposition. The typical reading of that midpoint structure is the threat of loss, inhibitions due to illness, and the pressure to change one's entire value system. This rather ominous sounding set of key words gets right to the crux of what this chart is about. There is a crying need for certain ways of thinking and acting to be re-evaluated. The Israeli scenario has not worked for years, for instance, and only foments resentment and conflict in that part of the world. People on all sides of that question need to sit back and take a different look at things. In fact, there are many parts of the world where old hatreds and ingrained attitudes hold sway that are being recognized now as being quite counterproductive. This midpoint structure highlights the opportunity for change that is before us now.

Saturn is under a fair amount of activation this year. It will be a time of karmic clearing and readjustments in the collective. If one's own chart is activated by Saturn, Uranus and Pluto then the same applies to the individual. The spiritual opportunity is great, as is the propensity for reactivity. The latter should be firmly kept in mind, as reactionist attitudes are precisely what should be warned against for the next couple of year. Cool heads need to prevail. We need to stay focused as the collective canoe goes down the rapids. The Saturn/Uranus opposition (exact on 26th Apr on the Sept 06 eclipse point and on the 26th of July on the first degrees of Aries/Libra) will likely bring financial and social instability. Remembering our discussion of Uranus, here we have the juxtaposition of the old and the new, the mundane and the universal, of bondage to samsara and freedom from the same, and on very significant degrees from a mundane standpoint. We cannot help but to see significant and far-reaching changes under this planetary influence. I had forecast in previous letters that mid-year of 2010 would herald greater instability, as there are several eclipses being activated through this period and very significant planetary activity, mostly between Saturn, Uranus and Pluto, all 'power players'. The play this year is for keeps in many people's eyes and there are many throughout the world who are calling this period in our human history the 'end days'. I do not buy into that, but there are many who so believe.

The final contact of Saturn with Pluto for the present cycle comes on 21st of August at 3 of Libra/Capricorn. That square in and of itself will not activate anything major, but depending upon the world situation at the time, it may serve to precipitate some events. Saturn/Pluto interactions often bring reformation of national boundaries and sometimes wars. It there is going to be a flashpoint in the world in that regard we would expect to see it mid-year if not next month. Tensions are mounting, but so is the momentum for positive change and peace. We will have to be proactive in our meditations and see what transpires. There are certain national karmas that will have to work out somehow and all this activity with Uranus and Pluto influencing Saturn will have to facilitate the ripening of that karma.

As for other indicators in the full moon figure, Jupiter is trine the nodes, thus influencing the creative output of the aforementioned quintile rectangle. That rectangle represents the creative tension necessary to release instinctual and maternal karma as well as gifts brought over from past lives. It also presents us with the opportunity to override certain instinctual tendencies in our nature or at least to see them in a different light. The Saturn/Chiron link presents us with the opportunity to address any lingering unresolved matters from the past, as Chiron has a significant part to play in the healing of what we like to call the 'inner child'. On the whole, this full moon figure represents a significant potential for healing and for the hard work necessary to bring that about. There will be forces trying to offset that healing or stop it altogether, but people are tired of the old ways of doing things and are ripe for a more positive world. Added to the above aspects Mercury and Venus both sextile the Neptune/Chiron conjunction, and mark an extraordinarily idealistic and high-minded configuration. True, Venus and Mercury are applying to a square with Mars, but that will only precipitate the needed conflicts that will motivate a change for the better, hopefully. In all, this is one of the more potent and dynamic full moon charts I have seen for a while. I hope we can all avail ourselves of the opportunities therein represented.

There have been many times for me in recent years when things have not fit in the box, in a manner of speaking. As my path has progressed - and I am sure most of you are the same - the past and many things I thought were of importance have had to drop away. Sentiment is a thing best left alone, for it binds one to the past. I still have my little legend plate. I have not had the time to fit it to the machine yet. Every time I look at it I smile to myself and think about all the times I have missed the mark in my perceptions of things and circumstances. Life never turns out the way one expects. One's true spirit always sees to that. We are not here to blithely go along and accept that traditions and accepted norms are the proper ways to do things in the world. Sometimes we need to turn our little world and the world of those around us upside down.

I may have mentioned the following little anecdote before and I forget where I read it, but there was once a teacher that asked his students if they were happy with their lives, whereupon they answered that they were indeed. He then looked at them sternly and replied, "Then, why are you not out setting up those crises in your lives that will enable you to take your next steps forward!?" That anecdote has always stuck with me. If we are the masters of our fate and the navigators of our spiritual destinies, why do we suppose that doors should magically open and that we will be safely ushered along without effort or strife? We have to paddle the canoe, sometimes through still waters and sometimes through the rapids. Sometimes we simply have to do difficult things in order that all involved will be better off. Progress always costs the status quo when Uranus does its work. All Aquarian, Libran and Aries types know this instinctively. However, if you really want to know how to instigate change, ask an Aries. They will be more than happy to show you how!

Happy Easter, everyone! (Drive safely!)
Malvin
30 Mar2010