The doctor is not the Doctor and is better off remembering this, lest he run the risk of inflation and even potential psychosis if the divine image overwhelms the conscious ego's sense of human fallibility and limitation. But these archetypal figures, when approached with consciousness and humility, nevertheless demand an offering from their children. It is perhaps the sense of this which forms the inner logic of the Hippocratic oath in medicine. This act of returning something to the god — the act of recognising something sacred for which one is a vessel of some kind — differentiates the vocation from the job, or differentiates the individual's feeling about his job.
And what figure stands behind the astrologer, if not fate? The finished shape of our fate, the line drawn round it.
It is the task the gods allot us, and the share of glory they allow; the limits we must not pass; and our appointed end. Moira is all these. All the scientific knowledge in the world will not erase that which has been there from the beginning, older than the oldest of gods. Science too carries a mythic background which exercises numinous power; otherwise we astrologers would not be so intimidated by it, nor the scientific community so ready to use the word as though it were a religious truth any doubt of which constituted heresy. And, paradoxically, the mythic backgrounds of both astrology and science are united in the same figure:.
Such genuine religious feeling as is to be found in Homer is less concerned with the gods of Olympus than with more shadowy beings such as Fate or Necessity or Destiny, to whom even Zeus is subject. Fate exercised a great influence on all Greek thought, and perhaps was one of the sources from which science derived the belief in natural law. The same mythic background indeed, though clothed in a new gown. I sometimes wonder whether astrologers, when they can no longer trust anything but statistics, are not in part merely changing the Old Harlot's dress to assuage their own insecurities, as well as offering valuable contributions to a rational understanding of their study.
Yet deeply disturbing though it may be to confront these ancient forms while still retaining our twentieth-century's hard-won knowledge of the physical universe and of man's greater choices within it, nevertheless it is this very conflict which I believe to be the modern astrologer's fate, if you like: the conflict with which he must struggle, full of ambivalence yet with Parsifal's question forever on his lips.
Whom do we truly serve? Fate or freedom? So, in summary, the second purpose of this exploration is to try to bring into clearer perspective that figure with which we must deal, which seems to provoke such ambivalence: the ancient shape of fate, from which we have become estranged.
In order to facilitate this effort, I have found it useful to draw from a very old past to trace man's images and stories about fate. Much of this may seem irrelevant to the modern astrologer. Yet myths, as lung was at great pains to point out, are the eternal patterns of man's soul.
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They are alive and well in our dreams, in our fantasies, in our loves and hates, in the fabric of our lives; and not least in the more sensitive astrologer's consulting room, where the practitioner with any receptivity to the unseen and unspoken psyche may sense the white-gowned forms of Clotho the Spinner, Lachesis the Measurer, and Atropos the Cutter hovering dimly over the zodiacal wheel.
The third purpose of this book is, in a sense, to conjure; to invoke. By this I mean that any symbol, astrological or otherwise, cannot be truly grasped by the intellect alone.
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Hence, to the undoubted frustration of the more pragmatic reader, astrological interpretations are hopelessly mixed herein with fairy tales, myths, dreams and other oddities, along with more respectable references from philosophy and psychology. I find it difficult to summarise a sign or planet with a keyword, and even more difficult to deal with it as a statistic. How can one measure the places where fate enters a life? There is case material included, however, to help ground the flights of fantasy, in hope of demonstrating the workings of fate in actual people's lives.
I have found that fate is as liquid and elusive a word as love. Plato thought they were the same; and it is worth noting in passing that in Old Norse, the word for the fates is identical with the word for the sexual organs. Novalis wrote that fate and soul are two names for the same principle. Man's oldest image of fate is the image of a woman; so let us begin where we may first find her. She may be met in the old, wild, barren places: heath and treeless mountaintop, and the mouth of the cave.
Not always one, she is sometimes three, emerging out of mist or clothed in it. Banquo, stumbling upon the apparition with Macbeth at his side, cries:. Daughters of Nyx the goddess of Night, or Erda the Earth-mother, they are called Moirai or Erinyes or Norns or Graiai or Triple-faced Hekate, and they are three in form and aspect: the three lunar phases. The promising waxing crescent, the fertile full face and the sinister dark of the moon are in mythic image the three guises of woman: maiden, fruitful wife, old crone.
Clotho weaves the thread, Lachesis measures it, and Atropos cuts it, and the gods themselves are bound by these three, for they were first out of inchoate Mother Night, before Zeus and Apollo brought the revelation of man's eternal and incorruptible spirit out of the sky. The spindle of the universe turns on the knees of Necessity; and on the upper surface of each circle is a siren, who goes round with them, hymning a single tone or note. The eight together form one harmony; and round about, at equal intervals, there is another band, three in number, each sitting upon her throne: these are the Fates, daughters of Necessity, who are clothed in white robes and have chaplets upon their heads.
Plato's intricate geometric vision of the cosmos, with Necessity and the Fates enthroned at the centre governing all, is echoed by Aeschylos in Prometheus Bound :. And the philosopher Heraclitus, in the Cosmic Fragments , declares with less than his usual ambiguity:. Sun will not overstep his measures; if he does, the Erinyes, the minions of Justice, will find him out. Greek thought, as Russell states, is full of fate. It can, of course, be argued that these sentiments are the expressions of an archaic culture or world view which died two thousand years ago, prolonged through the medieval epoch because of ignorance of the natural universe, and that we know better now.
In one sense this is true, but one of the more important and disturbing insights of depth psychology is the revelation that the mythic and undifferentiated consciousness of our ancestors, which animated the natural world with images of gods and daimones , does not belong to chronological history alone. It also belongs to the psyche of modern man, and represents a stratum which, although layered over by increasing consciousness and the hyper-rationality of the last two centuries, is as potent as it was two millennia or even ten millennia ago.
Perhaps it is even more potent because its only voice now is the neglected dream-world of childhood, and the incubae and succubae of the night which are better forgotten in the clear light of morning.
At least, the ego understands: which is to say, that is only one way of looking at it. The language of myth is still, as ever, the secret speech of the inarticulate human soul; and if one has learned to listen to this speech with the heart, then it is not surprising that Aeschylos and Plato and Heraclitus are eternal voices and not merely relics of a bygone and primitive era. Perhaps it is now more than ever important to hear these poetic visions of the orderly nature of the universe, because we have grown so dangerously far from them.
Fate, in the writings of the Greeks, is portrayed in images which are psychologically relevant to us. Fate in the archaic imagination is, of course, that which writes the irrevocable law of the future: beginnings and endings which are the inevitable products of those beginnings. This implies an orderly pattern of growth, rather than random caprice or chance. It is only the limits of human consciousness which prevent us from perceiving the full implications of a beginning, so that we are unable to foresee the inescapable end.
The second century gnostic text, the Corpus Hermeticum , phrases this with beautiful succinctness:. And so these two, Fate and Necessity, are bound to one another mutually, to inseparable cohesion.
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Necessity compels the end of all depending from these principles. On these does Order follow, that is their warp and woof, and Time's arrangement for the perfection of all things. For there is naught without the interblend of Order. It is a very particular kind of fate with which we are dealing here, and it is not really concerned with predestination in the ordinary sense.
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This fate punishes the transgressor of the limits set by Necessity. The Gods had their provinces by the impersonal appointment of Lachesis or Moira.
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The world, in fact, was from very early times regarded as the kingdom of Destiny and Law. In order to grasp the particular flavour of Moira, we must dispense with the popular conception of preordained events that have neither rhyme nor reason but which happen to us out of the blue. This moral order is very different from the Judaeo-Christian sense of good and evil, too, for it does not concern itself with man's petty crimes against his fellows.
To the Greek mind — and, perhaps, to some deep and forgotten stratum of our own — the worst sin that man could commit was not any found later in Christianity's catalogue of deadly vices. It was hubris , a word which suggests something including arrogance, vitality, nobility, heroic striving, lack of humility before the gods, and the inevitability of a tragic end.
Before philosophy began, the Greeks had a theory or feeling about the universe, which may be called religious or ethical. According to this theory, every person and every thing has his or its appointed place and appointed function. This does not depend upon the fiat of Zeus, for Zeus himself is subject to the same kind of law as governs others. The theory is connected with the idea of fate or necessity.
It applies emphatically to the heavenly bodies. But where there is vigour, there is a tendency to overstep just bounds; hence arises strife. Some kind of impersonal super-Olympian law punishes hubris , and restores the eternal order which the aggressor sought to violate. When an individual is afflicted with hubris , he has attempted to overstep the boundaries of the fate set for him which is, implicitly, the fate portrayed by the positions of the heavenly bodies at birth, since the same impersonal law governs both microcosm and macrocosm.
Thus he strives to become godlike; and even the gods are not permitted transgression of natural law. The core of Greek tragedy is the dilemma of hubris , which is both man's great gift and his great crime. For in pitting himself against his fated limits, he acts out an heroic destiny, yet by the very nature of this heroic attempt he is doomed by the Erinyes to retribution. These themes of natural law and the transgression of fate-imposed limits could, and do, fill volumes of drama, poetry and fiction, not to mention philosophy. It would seem that we curious human creatures have always been preoccupied with the difficult question of our role in the cosmos: are we fated, or are we free?
Or are we fated to attempt our freedom, only to fail? Is it better, like Oidipus or Prometheus, to strive to the utmost limits of which one is capable even if it invokes a tragic end, or is it wiser to live moderately, walk with humility before the gods, and die quietly in one's bed without ever having tasted either the glory or the terror of that inexcusable transgression? Obviously I could go on for several thousand pages on this theme, which is what most philosophers do. Perhaps one of the reasons why there is an inevitable association between fate and the feminine is the inexorable experience of our mortal bodies.
The womb that bears us, and the mother upon whom we first open our eyes, is in the beginning the entire world, and the sole arbiter of life and death. Aphrodite takes revenge on those who deny or suppress their passion. She punishes them with erotic obsession to the extent of destruction. Astrologically, we can look at the signatures of Venus, Pluto and possibly Neptune. But also Hera, Artemis, Uranus and some other gods would punish disrespect with madness.
These are also covered extensively in this chapter.
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It becomes clear that the different disorders or diagnosed mental diseases are "exaggerated versions of the individual's innate temperament, which have become excessive because the "I" or Ego has lost - or never possessed - the capacity to stand its ground. The Ego cannot contain and direct these powers but is helpless and at their mercy. Liz Greene compares the Ego which cannot cope with the conflict between opposing forces to a football that is tossed to and fro between them. The relatively strong and stable Ego has the capacity to appease the inner gods and use their powers constructively.
It is certainly worthwhile to work at becoming such a stable Ego.