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Why the Scorpion?

By Steve Nation
November 2005


One of the key features of our work together in these full moon festivals is to develop and deepen our understanding of the discipleship path and of humanity's journey on this path. It is only through the intuition that we can begin to gain the perspective, the altitude and detachment needed to see ourselves, our societies and nations in terms of the discipleship path. We cannot approach this through analysis - or at least not through analysis on its own, because the mind can so easily slay the real. We need to balance the rational mind with other ways of knowing. Throughout recorded history these other ways of knowing have become part of our inherited cultures. They include metaphor, allegory, symbol; they draw on skills of poetry, metaphysics, astrology, all of the arts, meditation, contemplation and silence.

The full moon work in the many different ways in which it is practised around the world draws on these intuitive ways of knowing to develop perspective on humanity's evolutionary path. In what direction is the divine leading us, as a kingdom of nature - and how can we as little, individual, apparently inconsequential nodes of mind and heart grow in our fumbling efforts to blend our personal will with divine will?

Now, during the period when the sun is in the sign Scorpio, and when there is an alignment with Sirius, the Star of Sensitivity, is an ideal time to reflect upon what it means for humanity as a whole to be treading the discipleship path. For Scorpio, at this stage of human evolution, governs the discipleship path. The symbol for Scorpio (and therefore of this stage in the spiritual path) is a scorpion, with its sting raised and ready to strike. And the keynote we will be using in meditation: Warrior I am and from the battle I emerge triumphant.

Can we sit in silence with this keynote for a moment or two, and then sound together the Mantram of the New Group of World Servers.

May the power of the one Life pour through the group of all true servers
May the love of the one Soul characterise the lives of all who seek to aid the Great Ones
May we fulfil our part in the one Work through self-forgetfulness, harmlessness and right speech.

Why should a scorpion be the symbol to depict the discipleship path at this stage in our evolution? Why not the noble lion (a good warrior emblem), or that first ray animal, the elephant, or something that speaks only of the good and the beautiful? The simple answer is that evolution grows through the sting of life, and the scorpion is the perfect symbol for that sting. It speaks to us of the way in which life throws up before us circumstances that become points of crisis and moments in which we are tested to our very core. Challenges draw out warrior qualities, strength of courage and purpose and an ability to see the way forward. The opportunity provided by Scorpio is for these crises and difficulties to become 'moments of reorientation' - reorientation that goes so deep that it transforms the elemental substance of our bodies of desire and thought. These bodies carry within them memories and inherited taints of instinct that echo back through many lifetimes. It is in the nature of Scorpio that, piece by piece, the elemental taints in the subconscious undergo a transition that is permanent and will last through future lives.

The discipleship path involves all the stages in development in which soul purpose and quality is in process of shining through the bodies of mind and emotion. Through time the higher values of the soul (impersonal and inclusive love, wise understanding, a use of will for the good of the whole) become anchored and fused with all aspects of the incarnated personality and the individual becomes an obedient disciple of the Master Within, the true Self. To speak of humanity as a whole being on the early stages of the discipleship path, we think of nations and the international community being thoroughly engaged in the process of bringing the values of wholeness and of respect for the sacredness of life into expression in society.

The discipleship path, seen in this light, is all about tensions between vision and instinct, about the contrasting agendas of soul and personality, where the soul is clearly becoming the dominant centre of purpose and direction. And, to me, this is clearly a description of the current historical process.

Into this picture of contradictory visions, desires and purposes the scorpion does its work by throwing up circumstances that provide opportunities for the soul values to become a little more embedded in the elemental worlds of desire, thought, and behaviour. When we think of the warrior we think of a battle. This does not refer to warfare in the outer world but to the way in which life's crises are a battlefield that can be turned by the warrior into 'moments of reorientation' when fresh insight reveals new possibilities in the way life is lived.

It is interesting that the word sensitivity is used in relation to Scorpio. We usually think of sensitivity in terms of a 'sensitive child' or a 'sensitive nature'. And what we mean by this is that someone is sensitive to themselves, and very aware of what others think about them. This is all an aspect of the psychology of the incarnated human being, and there is nothing related to the discipleship path about it. Yet the word is also widely used to suggest that someone is 'sensitive' to energy flows or 'sensitive' to impression (and it is up to us to discriminate if this is a higher or a lower sensitivity). Looking at Scorpio the word is used in relation to Sirius which is termed the 'brilliant star of sensitivity'. Here the reference is to the sensitivity of the Buddhic nature, in other words to the intuitive sensitivity to impression from ideas in the mind of God and to the divine Plan. In the book Discipleship in the New Age, Volume I, DK has this to say:

When [the] Plan is [intuitively] sensed, there comes the realisation of the unity of all beings, of the synthesis of world evolution and of the unity of the divine objective. All life and all forms are seen then in their true perspective; a right sense of values and of time then eventuates. When the Plan is truly intuited and at first hand, then constructive effort becomes inevitable and there is no lost motion. Page 25

If we think about this in the light of the Scorpio keynote of the triumphant warrior we see something of the opportunity this sign presents for reorientation. In other contexts when writing about the War, DK often urged his readers to courage, to will and determination in the battle against dictatorship and authoritarianism. In the light of Scorpio the test is presented as less one of courage than of gaining insight and developing optimism and understanding.

I am exceedingly anxious that in these days wherein the influence of Scorpio and of the planet Mars is so strongly felt in world affairs that true insight may be cultivated, optimism and understanding developed and the nature of the tests to which the world disciple, humanity, is today being subjected may be estimated at their true value and thus light be shed upon the way of man. Only through understanding will solution come and rectification of error be achieved. p. 203

Carrying on from the above passage in Esoteric Astrology we read that the tests in Scorpio are all about the 'readiness' of the three-fold personality:

  • To reorient itself to the life of the soul and later
  • To evidence readiness for initiation.
  • To demonstrate sensitivity to the Plan thus becoming the one-pointed disciple in Sagittarius.

In Scorpio we need to think of humanity as on the discipleship path. It might be useful to look into affairs that interest us (perhaps climate change; or religions, fundamentalism and inter-faith dialogue; or, say, race relations) asking the question 'How is this issue testing the world community to reorient to the life of the soul, to show a readiness for initiation, and to develop a sensitivity to the Plan leading to a will to establish more ethical global relations'? We need to stand back from our own strong opinions and seek to see how, through a particular issue, understanding is growing, consciousness is changing and the ethical level of public opinion is being permanently raised and transformed. This question of permanence is important because in Scorpio we are thinking of a reorientation that is elemental, that transforms a little of the ancient memory and instincts of the Dweller - symbolically that impacts the evolution of DNA.

Much of what we might look at will be to do with the way in which public opinion is being educated about global issues - all sorts of processes, like public consultations, commissions, national debates, television documentaries are lifting public opinion into the realm of mind and encouraging people to think for themselves. All the discussions and national conversations feed into global consultations, conferences and dialogues and out of this I believe the true reorientation of humanity to the soul is occurring. For the discussion is not abstract, or about ideals - rather it is creating a mental and emotional environment in which purposeful constructive activity begins to emerge.

For the disciple one of the key challenges of Scorpio is to look the tests of life in the eye; to seek to understand them as the soul might understand them; and to seek out a middle, do-able way forward that is not extreme. Some years ago I was deeply moved by a banner hanging in a small garden in New York in one of the streets leading to the United Nations. The banner featured words from the writings of that heroic UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold:

Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible - not to have run away.

It is appropriate to conclude with words from Hammarskjold. This year, the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, is also the hundredth anniversary of his birth. Donald Keys summed up Dag Hammarskjold's temporal achievements by saying he: stabilized the United Nations, solidified the notion of an international civil service and independent Secretary-General free of political pressures, and originated the modern concept of UN peace keeping. Hammarskjold's book of poetry and spiritual writings, Markings, is well known -I want to finish with a statement he made in a television series: This I Believe:

The world in which I grew up was dominated by principles and ideals of a time far from ours and as it may seem, far removed from the problems facing a man in the middle of the twentieth century. However, my way has not meant a departure from those ideals. On the contrary, I have been led to an understanding of their validity also for our world today. Thus, a never abandoned effort, frankly and squarely to build up a personal belief in the light of experience and honest thinking has led me in a circle; I now recognize and endorse, unreservedly, those very beliefs which once were handed down to me.

From generations of soldiers and government officials on my father's side, I inherited a belief that no life was more satisfactory, than one of selfless service to your country or humanity. This service required a sacrifice of all personal interests, but likewise, the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions.

From scholars and clergymen on my mother's side, I inherited a belief that, in the very radical sense of the Gospels, all men were equals as children of God, and should be met and treated by us as our masters in God.

Faith is a state of the mind and the soul. In this sense we can understand the words of the Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross: 'Faith is the union of God with the soul'. The language of religion is a set of formulas which register a basic spiritual experience. It must not be regarded as describing in terms to be defined by philosophy, the reality which is accessible to our senses and which we can analyze with the tools of logic. I was late in understanding what this meant. When I finally reached that point, the beliefs in which I was brought up and which, in fact, had given my life direction, even while my intellect still challenged their validity, were recognized by me, as mine in their own right and by my free choice. I feel that I can endorse those convictions without any compromise, with the demands of that intellectual honesty, which is very key to the maturity of mind.

The two ideals which dominated my childhood world, met me, fully harmonized and adjusted to the demands of our world of today, in the ethics of Albert Schweitzer, where the ideal of service is supported by and supports the basic attitude to man set forth in the Gospels. In his work I also found a key for modern man, to the world of Gospels.

But the explanation of how a man should live a life of active social service in full harmony with himself as a member of the community of the spirit, I found in the writings of those great medieval mystics for whom "self surrender" had been the way to self realization, and who, in 'singleness of mind' and 'inwardness' had found the strength to say 'yes' to every demand, which the needs of their neighbors made them face, and to say 'yes' also, to every fate that life had in store for them, when they followed the call of duty, as they understood it. 'Love" that much misused and misinterpreted word, for them, meant simply an overflowing of strength with which they felt themselves filled when living in true self-oblivion. And this love found natural expressions in an unhesitant fulfillment of duty and in an unreserved acceptance of life, whatever it brought them personally of toil and suffering-or of happiness.

I know their discoveries about the laws of inner life and of action have not lost their significance.