Hidden deep in the mind of man there is an urge which drives him on, on beyond mere physical evolution, beyond those subtle evolutionary changes that allow an animal to adapt to his changing physical environment, this urge drives man on towards the greatest attainment that he can imagine or desire, aspire towards or to become one with. It has driven him to climb to the highest peaks of physical attainment or to descend into and explore the deepest mysterious chasms, to cross the wildest oceans or to conquer the most inhospitable place on Earth. These are at least metaphoric expressions for the ways that man needs to discover or create something new that will enhance his life and consciousness.
Man has gazed at the stars and dreamed of places beyond the Earth for many thousands of years. He has long had fantastic impressions of worlds beyond the physical Earth through his spiritually inclined imagination, during the last two centuries the realisation of his dreams have been remarkable and now he stands on the threshold of a deep exploration of space. Through this compelling urge he must search for or create every means towards becoming one with his goal and because he cannot settle for that goal once attained, he must strive on until eventually he becomes one with the universe or one with the universal mind, the mind of God. If he fails to do any of these things then he may be content or discontent to follow on into the worlds that those with driving force create and leave behind as their legacy, for the drivers seldom rest in the place that they have conquered but drive on towards the attainment of some greater goal. These men and women are in a real sense the creators of worlds through whatever discipline they work because they bring to their fellows, some new previously undiscovered reality. What they discover may be in art or music, science or medicine, philosophy or psychology, building, farming, horticulture; every specialism is included because the new is to be found wherever we may look with concentration and reflection. For every human endeavour can be constantly reshaped and transformed into something greater than itself, for whatever the world of his specialisation, the visionary shapes and reshapes the image of that world or shows others how to do so. If that image is true, then human endeavour is enhanced by it, if it is based on a false premise, then the achievement of the true goal is delayed until the human error is realised.
The true nature of the work of Sagittarius concerns the attainment of such a focussed direction, it begins in man initially through the satisfaction of desire but is transformed through the work of Sagittarius into aspiration and as this work is accomplished in a man, he sees the goal of his aspirations and desires and eventually sees the need to align the personality with his soul and thereby become one with it. I have no doubt that that drive in man to achieve his highest attainment comes to him through the soul. It is a part of the spiritual urge in him to return to that place of consciousness where he (as the human monad, a son of God) has seen a vision of the purpose of work of the Divine mind upon the Earth. It is in order to aid that work, which will become a work of Love, that the spiritual nature of a man seeks its full expression through the personality, its vehicle of manifestation at the level of the physical plane. It is for this purpose that man has been created in God's image, not only to raise every level of his own nature towards liberation, redemption or freedom but also to help raise all living creatures and all matter up to that level of integrity and wholeness that is known in the spiritual kingdom, the higher mental plane or the fifth world of being.
It is the task of all the signs to help build the path between the animal nature and the divine nature for man, each sign has its particular specialism that correspond to the need of man at each stage of his progress through consciousness. In Sagittarius man must learn and demonstrate complete control of his thoughts and his speech. He must learn to recognise the difference between a thought that is creative and a thought that is destructive, taking control of the thinking process of his vehicle much as a driver takes safe control of a car, but at this point it is so that he can avoid creating wrong or destructive thoughts and to actively create good ones. Speech is an extension of the thought process, although in some instances it is the result of lack of forethought, as in gossip that can have damaging consequences. Right speech certainly demonstrates mental and emotional control, essential if we are to enter the world of the higher mind, the world where love-wisdom flourishes. Sagittarius has long been called "the sign of silence" because the aspirant must learn to sit in silence, husbanding his speech, working and watching to gain control of the physical, emotional and mental bodies because he cannot climb the mountain of Capricorn (the sign that comes next) or enter the spiritual kingdom until he has such control.
The 'Labour of Hercules' in Sagittarius is to drive away the Stymphalian birds whose beaks are described as made of iron and as sharp as swords. These live in a fetid marsh, a symbol of the un-purified mind. In flight they caw raucously and viciously attack those who they do not understand, creating havoc in the world of men. A group of three attacked Hercules, they are the symbol of the potential of the threefold body of a man or woman (mental, emotional and physical) who still has the capacity to become vicious, meddlesome and deceitful, they are out of control, exhibiting all the vices of each of the bodies. Thus in this labour Hercules must drive these propensities out of his personality once and for all.
An ancient picture of man as he reaches the beginning of the test of Sagittarius is of a man as a centaur, half human - half horse for he has yet to master or take control of his animal nature. Given extreme circumstances he can still take flight or stand to fight, or allow his animal nature to respond with lust, greed or cunning without a thought for others or the consequences for himself. When he takes control once and for all, he controls the physical body like a rider on a horse and the symbol of the centaur disappears to be replaced by a rider on a white horse (a white horse symbolising not only physical purity but also divinity). Man is now not only riding forward upon his physical mount but also thrusting and targeting ahead with his bow, the mind, centred with the balanced strings of the heart and rightly firing his arrows of thought. For now because his intellect has been developed and rounded out through its unity with the emotional body it has become sensitive to the higher mental experience and he sees "The flame that gleams beyond the mind [and] reveals direction sure". This is the light of the intuitive perception, which the intellectual when balance and integration allows one to see, it is the perceptive faculty of the human monad that will now start to become increasingly clear to him. He receives flashes of clear light upon his problems and he sees in front of him a mountain that he knows he must climb so that he can reach the goal that he can see in the distance.
The Labours of Hercules are a symbol for the work that all aspirants must achieve; Hercules appeared to lose everything that had been so familiar to him in his battle in Scorpio. He had become lost in the darkness but now he can emerge triumphantly in order to prepare in Sagittarius for the true birth of the Christ consciousness. Provided he can gain that one-pointed attitude of mind and that true level of wisdom, he will not only become a very potent person but he will be able to see the goal that is immediately ahead of him at the top of the mountain that now stands before him. In spite of all that he has known theoretically this time will come as a profound revelation.
The aspirant like Hercules will at this point need to detach constantly from the now developed and purified personality and look for the clues as the soul in order to find where the arrows of the intuition are taking him. He will do this time and again until he can establish a perfect balance with the soul and thus be able to function either as the personality or the soul with equal facility.
There are two rays that govern the masses, the fourth Ray of Harmony through conflict and the second Ray of Love-Wisdom. Their function is to blend and fuse humanity into one cooperative whole. These rays are channelled through the planets Mercury and Jupiter in order to transmute material desire in mankind into divine love and to allow the familiar conflict throughout humanity to become the instrument in converting disharmony into harmony. In Sagittarius it is Jupiter that filters the second Ray of Love-Wisdom in order to facilitate the changes that man must make to his consciousness in this sign. This work has to be completed here in Sagittarius so that the man can steps off the Mutable Cross, the cross of the development of the mind and onto the Fixed Cross in Capricorn, this is the cross of the disciple.
A common danger at this point of enlightening in Sagittarius is to think that this is all of the truth that has been revealed to you and that only you must know the truth. This error has been responsible for so much sectarianism and persecution of religious groups who have presented the truth rather differently than we see it, for we have yet to see the all-inclusive nature of the truth. I think that there are perhaps as many paths to God as there are souls in incarnation. Some join groups of like-minded individuals in their own culture who have the same religious point of view as they do; others are born into a particular religious framework. However way we choose to celebrate 'our' God of Love, beyond that there is a faith common to us all, it can be seen as the impetus in all faiths and can be called the religion of Love. Sagittarius is the first of the great universal signs, signs of inclusiveness and we can only see the whole truth as we continue to use the arrows of thought rightly or see a brother's way as his way to the one truth. We will not be able to enter the gate at the foot of that spiritual mountain that appears in Capricorn, until we can see that all the various religious truths are a part of a splendid group pattern of truth. What did Christ mean when he said, "In my Father's house there are many mansions"? I believe he was saying, 'there is a place here for all men of every faith'.
As we Europeans built our empires, creating prosperity for ourselves that had little positive and often a negative effect on the countries we colonised, we sent many missions and missionaries to show them 'the right way to live and think'. We saw little value in the religions or cultures of these colonies and took away much of those nations sense of self worth, leaving behind when we left the kind of moral confusion or degradation that we see in much of Africa and elsewhere today. We must learn to see the value of 'others' cultures and religions that are so different to our own, understanding that what is right for me may be wrong for someone else and what is right for him may be wrong for me. When we can learn to truly celebrate our religious and ethnic differences, the spirit of harmlessness, the right control of thought and speech would appear throughout our world. Sagittarius presents a lesson that we all must learn today now that we can travel so freely in the world, this is to see people truly, to understand and value their difference and to love them for who they are.
The successful Sagittarian says, "I see the goal. I reach that goal and then I see another".