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Articles from 1938

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The Modern Mystic and Science Review


Article by Willi Sucher, August 1938




Having reached a certain conclusion in our descriptions of the new outlook in astrology, we may consider once again the fundamental question: What is the spiritual import of astrology for our own time, and how ought it to develop toward the future?

On the one hand it is undoubtedly the case that with such points of view as have here been adduced, it will be possible, as a matter of pure knowledge, to reach a fairly deep and penetrating picture of the structure of the universe and of the way the human being stands within it. On the other hand we are living in a period of evolution when, in these matters as in all others, the question is quickly asked: What is the utilitarian value of it all? Astrology, as commonly practiced in our time, seeks in a very drastic, not to say materialistic way, to foretell the destinies of people from the events in the starry heavens about the time of birth.

These are the two points of view we must encounter today wherever astrology is concerned. On the one hand is the legitimate striving for pure knowledge of the relations between people and the world of stars, while on the other hand there is the candid entry into realms of egoistic wish and selfish curiosity. Yet it would not avail us, on vague moral grounds, to reject the setting-up of horoscopes as a means of prognosis concerning life. As to the rightness or wrongness of any thing, we have to base our views on clearly thought-out scientific grounds and on an insight into wider sociological effects. This applies most of all to astrology.

Up to a certain point it is indeed the case that many striking things can be deduced from horoscopes of birth with regard to a one's course of destiny. Yet as we look more closely, these things appear in a very different light as compared to the utilitarian point of view from which so many people start. Humanity has, in fact, long outgrown this craving to penetrate into the secrets of personal fate. What we are really seeking for today has not yet risen to full consciousness, so we fall back again and again and become overwhelmed by the old phantom.

For, in effect, it is but a phantom that the horoscope, as commonly applied, reveals. Look at it clearly and calmly: What does the horoscope, interpreted by old tradition or in the light of new empirical results, reveal? If it were skillfully interpreted, one may learn from it certain details of events in one's own family or of one's own possibilities regarding calling, social standing, and the like; indeed, not with the nominalistic clarity which people look for nowadays, but at least in outline, like some distant mountain-range. Yet when all this is done, however expertly, what have we to help us in the last resort on a single step in life? I may know that in a given year of my life a change will take place in my whole situation. I may even know if it will be in a good or in a bad direction. After all, such knowledge — if knowledge it be called — is more bane than blessing. It takes something from my human stature, makes me inactive and tends all unawares to harness me to something fateful, cosmically automatic, extra-human. It neither gives me power to avert or to transmute impending evil, nor to accelerate or hold fast the good. It has at most the value of foretelling certain things in more or less dim outline. Such fore-knowledge is admittedly a thing of doubtful blessing.

The fundamental question we touch upon here is that of liberty or of pre-destination in human life and action. Not that we wish to embark on philosophic arguments upon this well-known theme; only we may bring together all possibilities of astrological understanding in the attempt to find a solution leading to a valid judgment as to what astrology can be for the immediate social future of humanity.

In former articles we have already evolved one point of view in striking contrast to the whole sphere of horoscopes of birth. It is the aspect of the horoscope of death. This, in itself, obliges us in seeking knowledge, to look in quite another direction than for the horoscopes of birth. For in the latter case, as a general rule, the human life concerned is still to come; we tend almost inevitably to the mood of prognosis, as of a destiny not yet unfolded. The horoscope of death on the other hand comes at the end of human life. There is no possibility of foretelling any immediate, tangible future. Earthly realities are for the moment utterly extinguished for the soul who has now passed through the gate of death. Nevertheless the horoscopes of death offer real and valuable prospects. They can give, as former articles have shown to some extent, very interesting knowledge of the deeper character of the person concerned. We must only be prepared to change the direction of our quest deeply and radically if we would truly appreciate this new form of astrology.

Quite apart from the fact that in the horoscope of death we have a summing-up of the destiny of a past earthly life, which is a looking backward in time (the opposite of what the horoscope of birth implies), another most important point emerges. The primary thing we look at in the horoscope of death is the human being, for upon one’s inner quality, the quality of the starry constellations will now depend; it is the human being's activity which gives to the events among the stars their meaning and their import about the time of death. We have shown how the lives of some were recorded in the constellations of the planets and the Zodiac. If from the human being nothing of significance is written in the cosmos, then too the constellations of the stars, whatever they may outwardly appear as, will be without inner weight, empty of content like the one who bears them. If, on the other hand, by virtue of our life on Earth we have inscribed into the universe of stars (through the past Saturn transits in the horoscope of death as shown in former articles) good deeds of value for humanity, then and then only will a constellation — significant in the sense of classical astrology — be of real meaning, not only for us, but it may be for all humanity; for the whole historic period which follows. Such things were instanced in our former essays.

We must, however, bear in mind that this way of looking at things will deeply and radically change our aspect of our relation to the world of stars. By virtue of the horoscope of death we no longer have a relation to the world of stars which inspires the question: What is the meaning of such or such constellation for my own personal life? The question is now reversed. For if we earnestly let all that which is revealed in the horoscopes of death work upon us, we will be led to see that our own spiritual evolution — no matter of what kind it be — is of significance for the world-all. Our real relation to the starry world, revealed in the horoscope of death, is the expansion of our being to the being of the cosmos, the making manifest of our seemingly minute existence — as of a speck of dust within the universe, for so it seems to us on Earth — in its true cosmic magnitude and value. We are the primary reality in this case. We receive, as it were, the starry heavens into our own being. According to our portion, according to the measure of development we have attained in present time, we fill and flood the constellations which we are united with through death, with our own inner warmth and inner light.

This radically different relation of our being to the starry worlds gives rise to a further hope. The change of aspect and direction, following logically and inevitably from the horoscope of death, may perhaps also lead us out of the blind alley into which the traditional astrology of birth has tended.

For the horoscope of death the matter is comparatively simple. This horoscope, in the very nature of the case, represents a certain finish; the relative conclusion of a pathway, the fruit of an earthly life that is now done. In the horoscope of birth, or rather in the whole complex of horoscopes and constellations about the time of birth, we should then have to seek the opposite of something finished, namely a development in its inception, a germ, a seed of evolution. This picture is indeed the true one, provided we seek no more in it than it contains. The true horoscope is something germinal, bearing within it all the potentialities of development which can, however, only be turned into Earth-reality under quite definite conditions.

Precisely herein lies the secret of the new relation between ourselves and the world of stars. Through the very fact of our descent into incarnation we are indeed connected with the world of stars, and yet we are no longer absolutely dependent on that world. On the contrary, in our age and in the future we are called upon to take the world of stars, which as an individual we belong to, with us into our earthly deeds, into our earthly feeling and thinking. The transmutation which then takes place all through our earthly life, if we are a person of spiritual striving, thereby becomes a transmutation not only of ourselves but even of the world of stars! Thus can we understand it now. All that appears as the fruit of an earthly life in the horoscope of death was there already as a seed or germ in that of birth; it only had to go through the transmutations, through the testing fires of a life on Earth to reach maturity.

To give a more concrete background to these thoughts, we may have recourse again to an example. We take once more from a former article the data of Richard Wagner's horoscope of birth and his prenatal horoscope, and place them side by side with his horoscope of death.

In the prenatal horoscope (Fig. 1) we drew attention, among other things, to one outstanding fact, namely the passage of Venus before Saturn at the beginning of the seventh prenatal lunar cycle. In manifold connections we pointed out how this conjunction was related to the 44th year of Wagner's life, the year 1857. This was a year of special importance, as it was the time when Parsifal was first conceived. It was a kind of death-experience which Wagner underwent at this moment. The outer world was dark about him and so was the inner world of his own soul when on that Good Friday morning, like an inner resurrection-light, the picture of Parsifal suddenly dawned upon him. Now from the conjunction of Venus and Saturn in the prenatal horoscope we might, at most, have foretold a difficult situation in his life at this moment. The awe-inspiring drama of his real life — what actually happened in that year — could not possibly have been found in this way. From this comparison we can see best of all what is at once the value and the limitation of astrological prognosis. For the mastering of his life's situation it would have been of little help to Wagner on that Good Friday morning if he had known of all these difficulties in advance. His depression might have been all the greater for such knowledge. The element that helped him wrestle his way through to the light had quite another source than in his horoscope. It was his guiding genius that now recalled to him the poem of Wolfram von Eschenbach, read long ago, and then gave birth within his soul to his own creation — Parsifal.


Fig. 1                                                  Fig. 2


We have, therefore, this picture: on one hand in the horoscope there is the plan of the earthly life that is now beginning. As we described it before, the prenatal horoscope is an image of the ether-body, forming and molding the physical in a quite individual way and working into the human being's destiny. Yet what it fashions is in reality no more than the forms — the hollow molds, as it were — waiting to be filled with another content. Thus the conjunction of Venus and Saturn in Richard Wagner's horoscope is but a mold; in itself it tells us little. What is important is what flowed into this mold in the subsequent life of Wagner's individuality. Another person would have made something altogether different of it. It is the human individuality who in reality makes the horoscope, not the horoscope the individuality! Therefore, the truest astrology is that which is able to confront the stars with strong and world-embracing individuality. Then it will no longer be a question of trying to decipher our own personal destiny as written in the stars; but in the strength of our thinking, feeling, and willing we will be trying to bear our individual share of the destiny and riddle of the stars themselves. Ideally speaking, we can imagine Wagner in that moment having some consciousness of the cosmic events before his birth. Aware of the immanent question which was contained in that conjunction of Venus and Saturn, he would still not have regarded it as in any way determining his fate. Out of such consciousness, we may imagine his sense of responsibility would have grown immeasurably more than it did, out of the range of personal motives and desires. He would have been at once aware of his responsibility to cosmic worlds.

These cosmic happenings and relationships are by no means speculative. What bears fruit in our life appears again in the cosmic world when the time is there, i.e., in the horoscope of death. Take once again Richard Wagner's life on Earth. The fulfillment he brought into the conjunction of Venus and Saturn on that Good Friday 1857, looked at in its deepest meaning, was like salvation even to the Venus-forces. All this is manifest as the fruit of his life in his horoscope of death. In Fig. 2 we have represented, underneath the prenatal horoscope, Wagner's horoscope of death. Venus is by itself in Sagittarius, free of all other aspects. Moreover, into this Venus, through Saturn's chronicle, the event of 1857 is recorded (past transit of Saturn, as before explained). For in the year 1857, Saturn stood in Gemini directly opposite the place where Venus stood at death.

Thus we can clearly see what transmutation has taken place between the cosmic poles of birth and death. Quite another picture arises in the starry heavens at Richard Wagner's death than at his birth, and yet there is again an intimate connection between the two. One would almost say that the heavy aspect of Saturn in Sagittarius in the prenatal life — weighing down as it did upon Venus too — has been overcome in the course of his life, for in the horoscope of death Venus is free of all embarrassments.

This is the point of view which will be even more important for the future of astrology. So long as we do not realize it, all efforts in astrology today will remain fruitless and will grow even more so. It is only a short time ago in human evolution that it had no longer become important to know what a particular constellation signifies for earthly life. Indeed, we are now even more entering into conditions wherein these things will no longer signify at all for human life. We can no longer expect anything of them in the way we did in former times. We, on the contrary, will have to be the givers. We will give to the stars, and in this giving grow ourselves, up to the stature of the stars. A time is now approaching when it will be the task of a new astrology to evoke in humanity a strong spirituality, a spirituality which will alone be able to fill with sustenance and substance the empty molds, the hollow forms of the horoscope. Therefore, the time for casting horoscopes is really past. It will no longer do to ask, what is the influence of the Moon's or the Sun's position at one's birth, or the like. Maybe in one case or another we shall still get answers in this way, but the answers will not have sustaining force. On the contrary, they will take away from us. Yet it is altogether different if we ask this other question: What the position of the Sun or Moon or other planets at or before our birth requires of us by way of independent, self-made earthly deeds and sentiments and thoughts. Unlimited would be the scope of an astrology tending to this kind of self-education. This alone would lift us up to our true cosmic station.

It goes without saying that this change of heart and mind would in time give rise to quite other institutions, even in the physical world, than have grown up today around astrology. Yet the very first step of all is to give birth to a fundamentally different outlook within our own being.


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