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At the Threshold of a Dream

By Malvin Artley
December 2004

Merry Christmas Everyone!

With Christmas coming, business goes into a mad rush before the holiday shut-down period and the week before Christmas can be a hectic one for my trade. This past week was a bit of a departure from the seeming endless string of days, broken machines and correspondence. I meet many interesting people and go into some strange work spaces in my travels. This week I found myself at an Air Force base quoting the maintenance of the machines for their maintenance department's shop. It is a surreal experience to enter such an area. All at once I felt a fascination at the new sights being presented to me, an ominous feeling knowing the purposes for which all the military hardware could be used, anxiety about putting a foot wrong somehow and what could happen as a result, a flood of memories from my childhood, remembrance of the fighting forces scattered throughout the world, and a feeling that, somehow, this was a sort of graduation—that something greater was beginning to present itself—and that brings its own sort of giddiness and anxiety as well. More on the last point later. As I walked into the main hangar where the maintenance shop is, there before my eyes was a Blackhawk helicopter and a jet fighter plane. For a civilian, that was quite a sight. Everyone knows those things are there, but to see one up close is an experience in itself. The machines I was there to quote suddenly seemed a pale comparison to the technology that was there before me—and I didn't really see that much. But, the thought was there and there were millions of man-hours and a lot of bright people represented by those two machines in themselves.

Like most boys, I played endless hours of "Army" with the boys in the neighborhood when I was a kid. We would all fancy ourselves war heroes and dream endlessly about piloting a plane or other piece of hardware like the ones I saw, giving the "enemy" his due and saving the world in the process. Sometimes it was just a lot of fun to blast things and create general mayhem with our imaginary foes. What's the old saying?—Boys will be boys. It is strange what gives boys in particular those impulses. But, somehow we all managed to grow out of it and become men who would rather make love than war and who knew deep within our hearts that we could never really do the things that we played at as kids, except if our families and homelands were threatened. As I stood there and stared at the objects of some of my boyhood fantasies, all of those memories came flooding back. A part of me was going "Cool!", but now my thoughts were not of what they could do, but of what they represented in so many areas—human inventiveness, collective effort, human achievement, state-of-the-art technology, the pain of human conflict, so on and so forth. So, would I still like to go up in one of those machines? You bet! Would I like to "see action" in one? Not unless lives depended upon it—and even then I wouldn't like it, to understate the fact.

The preceding hardly sounds like a Christmas story, but Capricorn is not really about Christmas, although Christmas has an awful lot to do with Capricorn, as we shall see. I will, however, have some Christmas cheer a bit later on. These past weeks—and, indeed, the past months—have been a busy time as the year winds down to its inevitable close. The Personages who oversee the well-being of our beautiful little world are entering their sabbatical and reflection on the year that was, and the one that is to be as the Sun moves into Capricorn. This has been a full year for so many of us and the times seem only to get busier and more demanding as the days click by. Maybe that is just my own perception, but I am hearing people say similar things wherever I go. Capricorn is a period in the yearly cycle that is very much given over to reflection, assessment, adjustment and renewal of relationships. It is also a time when recognition comes, but what I mean by this is more an inner recognition of things achieved, things needing to be done and of one's own inner standing in relation to groups, both inner and outer.

One thing that becomes beautifully clear to anyone who studies the inner side of astrology for long enough is that the mythology and stories that describe all of the astrological signs are actually allegories for the great Lives that called the signs forth and Who guide our planet still from the inner planes—the lofty centers of divine consciousness. A sign is both a representation and an emanation of a living Being, a Being of immense size, composed of innumerable Lives, of very ancient origin (earlier even than the beginnings of our present solar system), of infinite wisdom and compassion and—most interestingly—composed of Lives who were all once human far back in the mists of cosmic history (far back to us, anyway). I have spoken in previous letters about the great Hierarchies of Being that the signs represent. What did not get stated in those letters is that what I was outlining was actually only the outer appearance of those Lives. The true story is more fantastic still. There is a subjective side to the astrological signs that describes both the state of consciousness of those Lives and their relation to all other lives and Hierarchies. Some of these Lives date back hundreds of trillions of years if the information we are given is to be believed. It all seems inconceivable. Then again, what is a few hundred trillion years in eternity? Truth is much more fantastic than any fiction.

Let's get back to more earthly matters and closer time lines, though. There will have been two Capricorn full moons this year. The first one was on the 4th of January this year. So, we could say that 2004 was bounded by the 2 Capricorn moons. It is a sort of "Blue Year" in terms of Capricorn moons and points to the exceeding emphasis of Saturn and this most mysterious sign for 2004. It is a year that has seen the ascendancy of the conservative powers in governments, the rise of the Religious Right in politics; the Abu Garib prison scandal; sexual scandals with the church, on Pitcairn Island; with child pornography and with football clubs (in Australia); the tragedy of Beslan; the Free Trade Agreement between the US and Australia; the death of Yassar Arafat with consequent changes in policy in the mid-East to come; the achievements of the athletes at the Olympics; and a marriage between a prince and a commoner, to name but a few of the main events of the year. We have seen the triumph of the human spirit and the depths of human darkness, true to the nature of Capricorn. Of course, we see these types of things every year, but 2004 just seemed to feel particularly loaded with extremes and to be more poignant somehow. It is of interest that we will not have a Capricorn full moon in 2005, and that the lunar year for 2005 will be what is known as a Doubly Blind year—generally considered to be inauspicious and indicating a loss of direction. Whatever we personally thought of 2004, though, it has been a year that will have marked milestones for a great many people, myself included.

Traditionally, Capricorn is the sign that marks milestones and achievement in the public eye. It is one of those signs where the orthodox and esoteric rulers are the same, that ruler being Saturn, whereas the ruler of the Hierarchy represented by the sign is Venus. So, in Capricorn we have a curious blending of energies, seemingly at odds with each other from the orthodox perspective, but productive of powerful results from the standpoint of the inner side of things. Capricorn is said to rule the human persona esoterically, and it brings with it the Light of Initiation, that Light which leads to the mountaintop—the pinnacle of human achievement, and the place where union with God is finally known by the little self. Objectively, it does represent the human persona with all the highs and lows that implies. Subjectively though, it is the higher Self that stands behind this persona, and gives it birth and evolution through the long series of lives we experience as humans and through the long ages of struggle, to return to the heart of God via the path of human experience. This word "experience"—the results of that, more to the point,—are what life as a Capricorn type brings to a person. The recognition of achievement through hard-won experience—that is what ultimately colors the Capricorn native.

I have written much on Venus this year, on its symbolism, its action and its effects. It is one of the most important planets from the human perspective because it does stand for the Soul and for our relation to our own higher Self. Through the sign of Capricorn we get to the fullness of its meaning to us though, strange as that may sound. Most people do not equate Capricorn with a loving nature. Yet, the struggle through the experience of Capricorn is exactly how we are lead to finally know the fullness of love in our nature and eventual liberation from our struggles and the pull of Saturn. The two planets actually work hand-in-hand.

Venus has been equated with Lucifer, the Bright Morning Star. This is true both in symbolism and throughout all cultures, though worded in different ways. Since most readers of this letter come from a Christian tradition, perhaps the following facts will shed a little light on a few things that have troubled the Christian world for almost its full duration and hopefully go a ways toward showing some of the deeper meanings behind astrology, religions and life on this planet in general. I have spoken along these lines before, but a bit more needs to be said on the matter of Venus and Lucifer, and it is through Capricorn that the mystery of this is finally solved. Capricorn is associated with the mental plane, with the element fire, with the Will to manifest, and rules the Hierarchy called The Crocodiles, or Makara, the Mystery. We all know the story of how Lucifer was cast into Hell, there to suffer for eternity because of his sins, because he thought he knew more and better than God, because he incited rebellion and because he ceased to love God more than himself. What most people don't realize, though, is that this story is actually the story in allegory of how all humans gained their personalities and how we all eventually come back to the heart of God and leave the fires of Hell forever, being richer for the experience and able then to act as wise agents of God's Will, forever and always.

Lucifer being cast into Hell is an allegory for Venus being the Lord of the mental plane. It is an allegory of a time, far in our past, when the great Lords came to our planet and what we now know as the higher Self took bodies among the most advance animal-men of the time. We were then given an angelic body that would stand as sentinel of our progress, as receptacle of our garnered wisdom, as an outpost of the higher Self, as an eye through which that higher Self could view and interact with the lower worlds and which would eventually usher us into the angelic worlds and which would be to us the closest thing that we could call "Heaven on Earth". That body is what we call the causal, or Soul-body. The fires of Hell are simply the matter of the mental realm. The fiery pit is what the clairvoyant would call the causal body—our Soul-body. Eternity is symbolic of the period of time it takes for us to evolve back to the heart of God and to leave the cycle of birth and death as humans. That period is millions of years, which is an eternity to the little human Mind. The wailing and gnashing of teeth in Hell is simply the hard road of experience, as through life after life we build in all the experience necessary to be fit instruments of service to God and saviors in our own right. And, Saturn—Satan—is the lord who spurs us onward to the goal through the tasks and struggles he puts in our path. It is through the mind that we manifest our little worlds and make the choices that govern the path of our experience. It is through the pain of mistakes and the joy of achievements that we adjust ourselves more and more each passing day toward God's image, and slowly climb out of the smoking pit of our own illusions toward the supernal Light of the Heavenly worlds and the bliss of omniscience and at-one-ment with the higher Self—and thus with all Selves.

Venus represents both the causal body and the Self that brought it into being. It is through this causal body that we build in that mysterious thing we call "personality". The story of Lucifer's fall from Grace is a story that resides in the subconscious of any Capricornian type, and Saturn ill-aspected in a person's chart can bring spectacular falls from grace. It is a poignant reminder and a warning that the ethic of the Soul must be remembered and adhered to. Material ambition, for which Capricorn is famous, must give way to selfless service and a giving heart. And if the person strays from "the path of righteousness", then Saturn, as karma, soon sets things right. So, the story of Lucifer's fall is the story of every person. So, too, is the story of Jesus—a story that is, again, universal through human culture, though clothed in differing words. The story of Lucifer's fall is the descent of humanity into materiality. It is the story of infant humanity. The story of Jesus, or any world Savior, is the story of humanity that has achieved through the long ages of struggle, and who has earned the right to sit once again at the right hand of God. It is the story of humanity matured. In the story of Lucifer, the human is born from the beast. In the story of Jesus, the human is born among the beasts, but is not of them, and is accompanied by wisdom, the wise Ones seeking him out.

So, throughout our long pilgrimage as Souls, and especially through the experience of Capricorn, we enter into experience through the influence of Saturn, we struggle and achieve—our best achievements most often coming through the hardest times—and then we withdraw, assess things and make the necessary adjustments prior to moving into fresh activity. This time of year is replete in all cultures with this type of activity. In the West, we see this in the secular tradition of New Year's resolutions. We see it in Christmas stories and in Christmas songs, as well as in the Christmas religious tradition. Even the silliest of Christmas songs and the classic secular Christmas tales speak of this periodic re-evaluation of one's activities, of trying to set wrongs right, of awakening to a spirit of giving and of being as "good" as a person can be. Let's have a brief look.

"You'd better watch out! You'd better not cry! You'd better not pout—I'm telling you why—Santa Claus is coming to town! He's making his list and checking it twice. Gonna find out who's naughty or nice. Santa Claus is coming to town. He knows when you've been sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows when you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake!" ---with the promise being that, if you are good, you get a present (you are rewarded for achievement—either way). I don't know—sounds a bit like the Lords of Karma (Saturn) at work to me with Venus (Santa Claus) as the Silent Watcher. Then there is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, the classic materialistic, Capricornian type—and with his classic Capricornian saying: Bahh! Humbug! (Who thinks up all this stuff, anyway?)

Scrooge (or the Grinch that stole Christmas, for that matter) is a perfect Capricorn story. Here is a man who has hoarded material things all his life, who exemplifies some of the worst in human expression, who is cold-hearted, unfeeling to those around him, careless of all except himself, but has achieved great material wealth. But, the karmic Lords have plans for this man and one night he is taken into a state of deep reflection and shown his past, how that past has lead him to his present circumstance and how he is really affecting people in the present, and where that will all lead him in the future if he continues on his present course. I won't spoil the story for you, but it has a happy ending. :-) Hopefully, you get the point. The real point to be made here is that whether people believe in astrology or not, the fact is that the Lives who work through these signs affect us all powerfully through our stories, our shared heritage, our art and our unconscious. The symbolism of life is a powerful language to those who can decipher it, and the seasons of the year, the Sun moving through the signs and the motions of the planets remind us constantly of the impact of those Lives and the gifts They all present to us.

This Capricorn full moon takes place on the 27th of December, Australian time, at 2:07 AM AEDT. It is a powerful figure, though the Sun and Moon only aspect Uranus, but it holds much promise for the powers that will lead us to the mountain top and give us the needed perspective that will carry us sure-footed into 2005 and beyond. The degree of the Sun says a mouthful in this regard, and its symbol reads thus:

"10 logs lie under an archway leading to darker woods" 6 Capricorn

Though this might sound like an ominous symbol because the archway leads to darker woods, it actually reflects what I was saying earlier about 2004 and the year to come. The archway is a door into the future. At its base lie the logs either of garnered work or of "dead wood" that is best left behind. Either way, though, the logs would not be going through into the new experience. 10 is a number both of completion and beginning. It is itself a sort of doorway into a new cycle. It always brings with it a fresh impulse and, as such, the sextile between the Sun and Uranus reflects this very well. Uranus always brings the new order and the fresh impulse, and with the sextile it marks the beginning of a very vibrant and fulfilling time of action, replete with originality and big ideas. The dark woods simply represent the unknown quantity—that which one has yet to experience. It can either be a hell (a sort of "dark night of the Soul") or it can represent a vast untapped potential and resources yet to be realized. I prefer the latter possibility myself. The dark wood can also represent the place where a person dreams and where dreams can reach fulfillment. It can be the deep reflection of the Soul as it enters into a new cycle of becoming.

The degree of the Moon complements that point and provides the reflective counterpoint and the field of experience wherein the symbol for the Sun works out. It reads thus:

"Game birds feathering their nests" 6 Cancer

Where else would one find game birds but in the dark woods? Birds are always a symbol for telepathic interplay of some sort, and the symbol of the nest is an apt one for Cancer, being concerned with home and "nesting", as that sign is. This symbol suggests that we should prepare ourselves in some way for a birth of some sort, after we have passed through the archway into our new cycle of activity. The birds in this case are preparing for the future, for an extended family group and for the fulfillment of the process of gestation. Those things which have been gestating within our collective psyche must be given birth this year, in uncertain times, in the wilderness of our confusion, and in fulfillment of the promptings of our own Souls. Nesting is a deep instinct with birds and a drive that cannot be ignored. Without it there is no propagation of the species. And, if we ignore our strongest inner promptings—the things we know we must do as Souls—then we eventually fade away and die to those who matter most to us. To ignore the call of the Soul is to perish and to be cast again into the darkness until we better learn to listen and heed the call.

The Moon is trine to Uranus in this figure and that gives many of the qualities associated with the sextile to the Sun of Uranus. It gives a broad outlook, independence of spirit, great ability and longevity and objectivity, which will be especially needed this year. Mars is square to Uranus which brings with it the possibility of accidents, of rash thought and action, and of the dare-devil instinct. This gives a tendency to throw caution to the wind and ignore outcomes, but this is offset by a trine to Saturn by Mars, which gives much more stability. In all, the configuration of planets so far points to the ability to plan boldly, yet steadily toward the future, to take risks when needed—often with success—to dare to be original and to break down old modes of thinking with a mind toward breaking the ties with the past but in building a strong foundation for future work as well.

Saturn is still in opposition to Chiron, pointing to a need to work alone at times and to clean up any lingering issues from one's past around intimacy. It is also an indicator to either double or triple one's efforts to either salvage what is left of strained relations with people or to end the relations altogether, at least for the time. That opposition is particularly combust, although in a retrograde phase of Saturn, and we are all being given another chance to work on these sorts of issues for this year, albeit more from the angle of our own inner life rather than by working things out directly with partners or relations. Pluto is unaspected, indicating that its work is not particularly highlighted for this cycle, although it is in Sagittarius with Mercury and Venus. This little gathering of planets enhances one's idealism for the year in personal terms, as well as indicating that one should be willing to put oneself forward and to attend assiduously to the goals one has set for the year. Mercury and Venus are conjunct and both are sextile to Neptune, further strengthening the imaginative faculties this year in a very positive fashion and greatly enhancing the intuition. To add to this, Jupiter is trine to Neptune, greatly enlarging the outlook and creating a situation wherein one's visions can be strong, clear and full of life. On the whole, this Festival of Initiation, or Festival of Human Achievement, marks a yearly cycle wherein one's aims should be high, energetically pursued, of the highest quality and strongly tinged with the gifts of one's Soul. It marks a year in which one can personally get a lot done of a very high standard if one is willing to apply the necessary energy—and the energy should very definitely be there.

As I begin to wind down for Christmas and look forward to a little break, I look back over 2004 and realize what a full and busy year it has been. Saturn has been a big player in my life this year and I have learned in fullness what is meant when it is said that Saturn brings opportunity. Work has been hard and there has been a lot of it, but in that I have accomplished much and have become much more fluid in my life and in my dealings with people. Every new relation and circumstance has potential, whatever we make of that. But, what Saturn really teaches one is to both recognize and then seize opportunities when they arise. Work teaches us flexibility, and self-responsibility brings its own reward. If I have learned nothing else this year, it is to listen to one's inner prompting, to act on opportunities when they arise, to be open to the manifold possibilities in any given moment and to let the heart be the wise counsel to the head. The traditional associations of Saturn with restriction, hardness, gloominess, enforced responsibilities and so forth have simply not panned out in those ways for me, and I am under a strong Saturnian influence at the moment. That is the difference between the way Saturn works in the orthodox and esoterically. When one's focus is on the meaning in events, and not on the events themselves, then Saturn becomes a great mentor and opens one to a great many things. The Wisdom of the Ages is then at one's disposal, which Saturn also represents, and there is a resilience that is built in as a result that does not come from other planetary influences. All higher Capricorn types know this in their heart of hearts, although I am not a Capricorn.

When I was a boy I had big dreams for life, as most of us do in childhood. Life has taken me far afield from a lot of those, but some have always stayed with me. As I reflect back on my life (as Saturn's influence tends to get us to do) I can mark and trace the many streams of thought that I had and I can look on in wonder now at the way my Soul has shaped my life and the richness it has brought through some of those streams of thought. Venus has served me well in that regard. From a boy playing Army with his friends, dreaming of flying planes and always having a fascination with all things technological, I have grown into a man who gets to work daily with all the technology I loved and dreamed of as a kid, who finally got to see one of those planes up close and who may yet still fly one, though not of that type. Who can say? But through it all, I have seen the power of imagination when coupled with the will to manifest one's dreams, both in myself and in others, and I have seen the magic that it can work. I also know that an unrealized dream creates a pain in us that nothing quite seems to ease. It is always there seeking expression. It is, in fact, an unrequited love, and there are few greater pains for an open and loving heart than for dreams to wither and die. Venus has taught me that lesson well, too.

So, my friends, as we stand at the threshold of the New Year and our bonus Capricorn Moon for 2004, perhaps it might pay us all dividends to look back over our lives and think about the things that really fire our hearts. Have we lived those things or have we put them on the shelf? Have we spent enough time in reflection deep with our own higher Self and listened to the dreams of the Soul for our life? How determinedly and passionately do we work for the things in which we most deeply believe and which our hearts so fervently desire? Well, we can be sure of one thing—that whatever we do, the Soul is making its list and checking it twice, and whether we have been naughty or nice, we will be rewarded with exactly what we are due at the end of our days. I hope your rewards are great. Whatever we do, in the realization of what we imagine for our lives and for the greater communities of which we are a part, may our example spread like wildfire through all who spend time with us. And, may we all also be inspired to even greater things by those who also live their own Soul's passion. There is so much we can learn from our mutual sharing. As you share this holiday season with family and friends, share your visions as well as your being with them. But most of all, may the Light and Love that is us in truth illumine us this year and shine new Light upon our magical little blue/green world. And be good—for goodness sake!

Many blessings in this holiday season,

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