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An Image Changes: First Centaur, then Archer, now Bow and Arrow

Steve Nation
November 2007

Greetings friends, and welcome to this group meditation for world service, working with the energy flow of Sagittarius. In the period leading into the meditation I often like to focus on issues in the collective mind and heart of humanity - seeking to identify and support evolutionary trends in the psyche. The idea is to try to see global issues from the perspective of Soul - to look through the eyes of the Angel of the Presence. This gives us a perspective of altitude and helps us to begin to see from the viewpoint of the 'love that underlies the happenings of time'. By doing this we invoke the lighted, loving energies of divinity - we call on potencies of Light and Love and Power to flow into human affairs; and we reflect on the transforming effects that these energies can have in human affairs.

Remember we are not doing this on our own. We are working as part of a planetary group - meditators from all parts of the world forming a common field of mind and heart. As a group it is not difficult to imagine that the radiation of the field nourishes, sustains and empowers those higher ethical principles that are in process of shaping a new culture and civilisation. Our work is with the sense of wholeness and synthesis that is such a potent force in the world; with the growing sense of the sacred; with the sense of the freedom, rights, responsibilities and potencies of the individual; and with that great principle of our time: 'Unity in diversity'.

This month, I want to focus our attention less on the collective and more on the individual. For the energies of Sagittarius speak to us about potencies of consciousness that are developed in the little microcosmic world of the human being. They speak of the mind's potential to be illumined with intuitive insights of straight knowledge, and of the human being's potential to tread the lighted path with a clear, focussed sense of direction and purpose.

We will be considering that glorious 'piece of work', the human being - so 'infinite in faculties', so 'noble of reason'. The growth and development of each individual occurs over many lifetimes. It is a path of growth that is nourished and fed by impulses pouring from the great beings of the cosmos (from the stars, and constellations, the Gods and archetypes) and from the great centres of the Earth - Shamballa and the kingdom of Soul where Saints, Immortals and Rishis led by the Christ guide, guard and protect. In Sagittarius these impulses provide a supportive environment for principled and spiritually alive human beings to grow in their sense of purpose, direction and focus.

Lets pause for a moment and sound together the words of The Affirmation of The Disciple.

I am a point of light within a greater Light.
I am a strand of loving energy within the stream of Love divine.
I am a point of sacrificial Fire, focussed within the fiery Will of God.
And thus I stand.

I am a way by which men may achieve.
I am a source of strength, enabling them to stand.
I am a beam of light, shining upon their way.
And thus I stand.

And standing thus, revolve
And tread this way the ways of men, and know the ways of God.
And thus I stand.

During the full moon period there is an abundance of energy pouring through the psyche. People respond to this in different ways - it all depends on where they stand in the evolutionary process. In Sagittarius the quality of purpose and directed will is strengthened - but this may mean enlightened soul purpose - or it may mean a subtle strengthening of ambition and personal desire.

Consciousness is evolving through the human species. Each of us is on a long, long journey; moving through the phase where the soul's work is to build up a body of what esotericists think of as 'matter': physical, emotional, mental matter. The Soul's first task in the round of incarnations is to be absorbed in aspects of personality - to mature as separated, individual human beings. Many individuals of all cultures, faiths and stations in life are, however, in the process of turning away from a total focus on the personal to also include the deeper identity of soul. The turning, the reversal of the wheel, is a momentous evolutionary process that sweeps through the psyche at the level of individuals and of the collective. Because things of the mind and heart are never cut and dried, never black and white, this turning phase can appear, from our vantage point (the very limited view of the incarnated ones), to dominate our lives. All of us will probably sense that so much of our experience is about this turning phase. It brings with it all sorts of unsettling processes - of being torn between two aspects of self - of losing the centre as the 'immortal' brother and the 'mortal' brother enter into relationship, have phases of struggle and battle and experience the peaks and the valleys of the spiritual path. Down the ages theologians and psychologists have spoken of this phase of the turning in terms of duality.

Yet, often, one suspects that much of our sense of the duality of the turning is about memory - and about aspects of the move away from an immersion in the personality that are still going on - even while we are already stepping out into the next phases of the path in other aspects. As we seek to sensitise ourselves to the Sagittarian energy flow, it is these next phases of the path that we will be considering. Beyond questioning, beyond vacillating this way and that we move into a phase of definite commitment towards the higher purposes of the soul - without ever leaving our grounding in the personal. This is about developing the higher aspects of mind - the intuition; and about a life of meaning and purpose illumined by the soul. A phrase, which captures the energy available on the spiritual path at this time, is focussed energy.

In astrological terms Sagittarius is the polar opposite for Gemini. This means that there is a tension between the two - that in a sense both represent two images of a common process. And the process is duality. In Gemini we are constantly moving in our identity between higher and lower self. There is fluidity and an interchange. In Sagittarius the keynote of fluidity in this relationship is transformed into a purposeful, focussed directed effort in which there is no lost motion. A self-directed, forward moving spirit replaces changeability.

I want to speak more about this - particularly in terms of the beautiful images and symbology of the sign - but first can we just look briefly at an issue about hierarchy. Perennial philosophy, in its multitude of expressions down the ages, presents a view of consciousness in terms of levels of quality - ranging from the most basic separated, materially focussed through to the sublime heights of love, wisdom, purpose and joy of the Great Ones on the inner side of life.

This view brings with it a danger - it is all too easy, from this perspective, to put people into boxes - at the simplest level, if we feel an affinity with someone we see them as so-called 'highly-evolved', if there are difficulties in the relationship they are less-evolved and 'below us' on the hierarchical ladder. There can so often be an awful sense of superiority amongst ageless wisdom groups. This is all so silly! We are all people - all over the planet - people struggling with the opportunities, crises and situations for growth given to us by the soul. Usually we are not in any position to judge another person's position on the path - we may try to develop a sensitive understanding of what someone else's next step forward might possibly be - but the judgemental view is so very limited. After all it is challenging enough to see through the fogs to get some clarity about our own next step - about where we are heading and where we have come from. And beyond this it is not our position on the path that matters so much as how we handle the next step ahead - that's the way evolution works - that's where the energy is. Teilhard de Chardin has a wonderful passage about Jacob's ladder, stretching from immersion in form to immersion in spirit, that relates to this. Our image tends to focus on the ladder as a whole - but Teilhard puts all the focus and energy onto the significance of each rung in the ladder. For ultimately, it is this which matters: Each one of us has his Jacob's ladder, whose rungs are formed of a series of objects. Thus it is not our business to withdraw from the world before our time; rather let us learn to orientate our being in the flux of things… [Le Milieu Divin, p. 108].

To get back to the Sagittarian symbols. There are three images: the Centaur, the Archer on the white horse, and the bow and arrow. In earlier times the image for this sign was of the centaur: with the head of a man and the body of a horse. This speaks of the welding together of the personality with its elements of animal and of human - it reminds us that we are part animal - using as the image of this one of the highest, most evolved and closest animals to the human, the horse. In the image the animal aspect, the lunar lords as they are referred, is strong - the whole impression is of an animal with a human brain. It is still a useful image for the early stages in human evolution.

The archer gives us an entirely different impression. There are two distinct entities: the archer and the horse - soul and personality. And the two make a whole. It is the archer who is in control now, but it is not a forced control, not a control-freak. The two are very much at ease with each other. There is a deep bond of trust, respect, love and understanding between them. The horse follows the directions of the rider without question. And because of this trust the archer can focus all attention on the work in hand - aiming and releasing the arrow so that it reaches its target. This is such a beautiful image of the two aspects of self, working in harmony and co-operation. One of the things I most like about it is the sense of two strong, energetic aspects of the self. The personality is not demeaned, or innocuous. It has become the white horse - the regal, aristocratic, powerful horse; the one destined in mythology to carry the Coming One who will be Christ. This beautiful animal finds fulfilment and purpose in serving the archer - in being the willing servant of the soul. And the archer in turn respects the possibilities and character of the horse - is a firm, clear director but is also loving, appreciative and understanding.

As an integral part of the mythology of the image we are told that the archer needs, from time to time, to get down off the horse, and to be alone. There is the sense that this choice of the archer to move away from the horse is what makes it possible to be a detached, clear director for the horse. Let's think about this for a moment - in a sense this can be taken as the need for silence, for retreat, meditation and stillness. The rider (the soul) wants to direct the horse (the personality) towards a whole new realm of being, the good the beautiful and the true to put it at its most simple. For this to happen there needs to be a separation for a time from the realm of the personal; a complete retreat away from the mental, emotional and physical layers of reality of the incarnated world. It is not the need for escape from, rather the need to approach - to enter into. Without these periods of retreat, of getting down off the horse, the archer cannot see the target with any clarity.

And now lets move on to the energetic point in the image. If we were speaking of a painting of the archer on the horse this would be that part of the painting where through the magic of the artist, our eyes would be immediately drawn - the refined, focal point, and the place of light where everything seems to be energised. And this is the taught bow, the arrow about to be released with the face of the archer pressed against the hand, holding the bow string taught. Everything in this part of the image speaks of poise, concentration and of the target held in the mind's eye.

It is here, in the heart of the image, that we get a glimpse into the secret of Sagittarius. For it speaks to us of the mind's ability to shoot an arrow into the wholly 'other' world of the Divine Self and, through the pathway created, to receive impressions from that 'other' world. The phrase that is often used for the straight knowledge that these impressions bring is 'intuitive perception'. But a phrase that is, I think, more revealing is 'intuitive insight'. For we are not here speaking of sensations that might be termed psychic - but of flashes of understanding, in which we see things whole - we see things from the perspective of the divine Self - and this shapes our priorities, the way we live our lives and the way we respond to significant issues that come before us in our life. Alice Bailey writes of flashes of light upon problems, a distant yet possible vision of attainment is seen [Esoteric Astrology, p. 180].

It is helpful to remind ourselves that intuitive insight flows from the Divine Self - that it flows through the pathways created by the rightly focussed mind and the somewhat purified heart. The fact that it comes from the heights means that it will be related in some way, to the furthering of the evolutionary processes as held in the mind of God. In other words it will relate to what is often spoken of as 'the Work'. It can be difficult to define exactly what 'the Work' is - because it involves activities, any activities, that play a constructive role in the creation of a culture of right relations - this includes actions in the intimacy of our little lives; and in the wider lives of communities, groups, nations, kingdoms of nature and so on. The mind of God, has within it a sense of Plan, of 'ordered direction', holding before humanity the destiny to co-create a world of right human relations. Intuition gives insight into the plan. As such it is always purposeful, always offering pathways for us to think and act as groups and always, always related to the One Work. As Alice Bailey writes, When the Plan is truly intuited and at first hand, then constructive effort becomes inevitable and there is no lost motion. [Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. 1, p. 25]

Two months ago, we were reflecting on the role of poise and balance with the Libran energies. The image was of the scales, moving up and down before finally coming to rest. It marked an interlude in preparation for the testing and trials of Scorpio that we were contemplating last month. And now, after the trauma of the tests, and of substance purified, we consider the higher balance of Sagittarius when the Archer has to have a steady hand; clear, undistorted sight; and above all must sit in the saddle with poise and ease before the arrow is released. The sensitive direction and focus leads now to initiation in Capricorn.

Our seedthought for meditation: I see the goal, I reach that goal and then I see another.

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