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Cosmic Christianity

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Symbology and Cosmology

Today we shall try to find an understanding of the symbols that have been used since ancient times for the signs and constellations of the Zodiac. They were formed out of a deep knowledge and insight; they have not just been chosen at random. Some of them have certain resemblances to the imaginations that stand behind the constellations. Others seem to be rather obscure. We may even have to modify some of them in a modern sense. This will lead us to realize how these constellations of the Zodiac have been transformed by humanity in the course of history. Thus, without fully knowing it, we have contributed toward that spiritual-moral fulfillment of our relationship to the stars, in the sense of the suggestions of Rudolf Steiner: Once in ancient times the stars spoke to us. Then they became silent, and this silence can cause deep sorrow. Yet, amidst this deepening silence we are called upon to speak to the stars. Thereby we can realize our spiritual human-hood.

The first symbol is that for Aries (Fig. 5.1a). One can perhaps see in it the horns of the Ram. Yet, this seems to be too superficial. Furthermore, it would not give us very much of a lead with regard to an understanding of the quality of this constellation. The constellation of Aries is connected with the cosmic archetype of the human head. It is, in a sense, the root-being, the commencement of the Zodiac. In medieval descriptions and presentations we see the Ram lying on the ground, looking backward toward the crowd that follows: Bull, the Twins, Crab, and so forth. The Ram is thus the leader of the host of the Zodiac. Contemplating the association with the human head, we come to ask ourselves, is this the end? Is there no further development? The human head seems to be fixed and settled forever with regard to its form and function. Is there no higher or future purpose concealed in that human head? So far, its present purpose is to serve as a region or area in the human body in which the main sense organs not all the sense organs are concentrated: sight, hearing, taste, and smelling. Also located there is the brain, the organ of intellectual thinking, so to speak, of that statistical thinking that rests on the sense perceptions.


Figure 5.1a Aries Figure 5.1a


We may now ask: What is the meaning of all this? How did this come into existence? In order to discern the direction in which we may find an answer, we look at the plant. The plant can be regarded as a brother of the human being that has been left behind by the human race, somewhere on the road to humanity. Therefore, it can possibly tell us something about the evolution of the human form. The plant is organized diametrically different from the human body; it stretches its roots into the soil. This root-organism can be conceived as the equivalent of the human head. Its limbs that is, the stems with the leaves and eventually the flowers are oriented toward the heavens. They receive the heavens into the being of the plant. Thereby the seeds, the means of propagation, are finally matured. The human being stands on the Earth, with limbs and the entire metabolic system pointing toward the earth. The head is oriented toward the heavens, although it is completely closed up by the skullcap. Yet, there also exist suggestions of our being rooted in the cosmos. For instance, the Moses of Michelangelo is shown with two horns, or rays, coming out of his forehead. In this way Michelangelo wanted to indicate that, according to the old wisdom, Moses had developed a more than usual connection with the cosmos. It is a certain organ for spiritual perception. In the eastern conception it is called the two-petalled lotus and is centered near the pituitary gland. As much as this refers to a past stage of history, we can also see in it the future of the human head. Moses inaugurated the stream in humanity that eventually had to come right down into intellectualism, into the possibility of objective perception of the world. It was a necessary preparation for objectively seeing the events in Palestine during the three years of Christs ministry. Apart from this, there is also indicated in this Aries organ, the potential of a new connection with the universe, of the development of organs of perception beyond the physical, sense organs. These lotus organs, or chakras, according to the eastern conception, can be evolved by every one who makes the corresponding efforts in the field of meditative and contemplative discipline. Rudolf Steiner has given ample and sound advice for this. Through such inner development, we can find again a real connection with the spirit cosmos, and evolve our head, or Aries organism, to become a root-being in a totally new sense.

Naturally, the realization of this is one of the most difficult things facing humanity. Single personalities in history like Emerson or Gruenewald, the painter of the Middle Ages, have moved in this direction. Particularly the latters painting of the Isenheim Altar, which shows in sequence the Birth, the Crucifixion, and also the Resurrection, is a representation, in a sense, of that which Aries can become through humanity in the future. When Gruenewald (1528) and Emerson (1882) died, Saturn was in the constellation of Aries. Contrary to birth, we see in the positions of the planets at death a picture of the results of a human life, of achievements, and possibly also of defeats. Saturn would depict more that which was in line with the concerns of humanity, which is assimilated into historic conscience for future perfection or redemption. Another two remarkable personalities who died when Saturn had entered the constellation of Aries were Dostoevski (1881) and Shelley (1822). Therefore we can say that this constellation, as the archetype of the human head, is an image of the First Creation (in the sense of Genesis). This aspect is somewhat portrayed by the traditional symbol that we use and which indicates an influx from above into the below (Fig. 5.1a). But in modern times and particularly for the future it should be transformed. This is, however, entirely given into the hands of the moral imagination and intuitive creation of the individual human being. In order to meet this aspect of Aries, its symbol would have to be reversed (Fig. 5.1b), so that it indicates a blossoming out, an active opening up toward spiritual heights, toward that which is the greater cosmic picture of our being.

For Taurus, or Bull, we use the symbol in Figure 5.2a, which comes to us from ancient days. We see in the horns on top of the circle something like cornucopias containing the totality of the cosmos, which has been borne into the lower world, the world of matter. Indeed, in the ancient sense, Taurus is deeply connected with the creation of the physical-material world out of the power and the being of the Logos in the universe. Therefore Taurus is also associated with speech. Originally it was the Cosmic Word that created the world. Here too we can ask what a possible transformation could be. This must have something to do with an understanding of the spiritual origin of this world of matter. Furthermore, we would expect here the eventual development of creative means, in the sense of word and sound. We can indeed find evidence for this. For instance, Konrad Ferdinand Meyer, one of the greatest Swiss novelists and poets, or masters of the Word, died (1896) when Mars, Earth, Neptune, and Pluto were in Taurus (heliocentrically). At the time of Tennysons death (1892), Venus, Neptune, and Pluto were in Taurus (sidereal) the latter two close together. The German philosopher Schelling died (1854) when Saturn and Venus were in Taurus. Schelling was first concerned with a philosophy of nature. From there he proceeded to write and to present to his contemporaries a Philosophy of Revelation. So he turned from a philosophic contemplation of nature to an understanding of the working of the spirit in nature and in the human being. Furthermore, Thomas Kempis died (1471) when Saturn was in Taurus. He was probably the author of The Imitation of Christ, a famous medieval mystical book, which has been translated into over 50 languages in more than six thousand editions.


Figure 5.2a Taurus Figure 5.2b


We find Uranus in Taurus in the death asterograms of two great personalities. One is Gotthilf Heinrich Schubert, a German philosopher (d. 1860), natural scientist, and in a modern sense, a psychologist. Apart from all this he was also an eminent cosmologist who wrote books about the interrelationship between microcosm and macrocosm in which he tried to describe the spiritual secrets of Creation from out of the cosmos in a truly Taurian sense. Thomas Aquinas, the great teacher of Scholasticism in the Middle Ages during the 13th century, died (1274) when Uranus was in the constellation of Taurus. These people were firmly standing in the world of material reality, but they tried to find the spiritual Logos-aspects behind the external material existence. On this basis we would slightly alter the symbol for Taurus (Fig. 5.2b): a tremendous upper or cosmic world permeating the lower or physical world.


Figure 5.3a Gemini Figure 5.3b


The constellation of the Twins, or Gemini, reminds us of hierarchy in any sense: the great hierarchy in nature, heaven, and earth, hierarchy in a spiritual sense, the divine hierarchies. We would also see in it hierarchy in a social sense, particularly social foundations and social orders in ancient times, entirely built up hierarchically, for instance, in Asia before the time of Christ and even surviving into later times. It is a principle that has and still is working as an obstruction to progress and is responsible for much of the present disturbances in Asia. The Twins must be transformed. The vertical element above and below that is expressed in the ancient symbol of the Twins (Fig. 5.3a) must be combined with the horizontal, that is, the right and left, the side by side. Inasmuch as human community is concerned, this means the establishment of brotherhood. This can be expressed by substituting for the ancient symbol of Gemini one that is tentatively like a cross (Fig. 5.3b). This would indicate two but in such a fashion that the vertical is harmoniously combined with the horizontal. Among personalities who entered the spiritual world when Saturn was in Gemini was Beethoven (d. 1827). From Beethovens life work, we can get the impression that he was standing in a kind of brotherhood relationship to the spiritual world. Out of this nearness, in a horizontal sense, he was able to create those mighty compositions. William Blake died when Saturn was in Gemini (1827). He had a remarkable, brotherly relationship to the invisible, celestial world. It seems to have been awakened in him after his brother had died. In life his brother had been standing next to him. It was a side-by-side relationship, as can be expressed in a horizontal Twins symbol. After his brother had entered the invisible world through death, there was added the vertical, the expression of the one being above in the heavens and the other below on the Earth. William Blake was able to express this in his paintings and in his poetry. Then there was the strange phenomenon of the American Edgar Cayce, who died when Saturn was in Gemini (1945). He was quite a simple man with no academic education. At a certain moment of his life he discovered that he could go at will into a deep trance. A book, Sleeping Prophet that has been published about him calls him the sleeping prophet. In this trance condition, he was able to tell things of remarkable content and truth. Many sick people were brought to him, and in that state of deep sleep he was able to suggest diagnoses and also therapies of remarkable accuracy, which are used by quite a number of medical practitioners in America at the present moment. When he woke up, he did not know what he had said in his trance condition. This was a unique, singular case which cannot be repeated at random; but as a phenomenon it falls in line with the possible potentials of the constellation Gemini. Rembrandt died when Jupiter was once again in Gemini (1669). He handled most creatively the problems of light and darkness in his well-known paintings. This is again a Twins proposition, to make light and darkness stand side by side harmoniously, to let the one carry the other.

Figure 5.4a Cancer Figure 5.4b


Next we come to the constellation of Cancer. We use the symbol of two spirals, which have come apart (Fig. 5.4a). A rent or a break has taken place between two principles. In a broad sense, one could regard the one as standing for involution, the other for evolution. Between them is a deep gap. This describes the old Cancer, that is, the Cancer of which Norse mythology speaks, representing the Bifrost Bridge that once upon a time connected Asgard with Midgard. This myth wants to express the fact that in ancient times the dwellers in Midgard had access to the realms of the spirit, to the gods. This bridge was destroyed in the great battle described as the Twilight of the Gods, which marks the loss of humanitys insight into the spiritual world. It was this big battle between the gods and the anti-forces that was led by Loki, the Evil One. In Cosmic Christianity we have described how this great rift was repaired and redeemed by the Deed of Christ. John the Baptist recognized this when he said, Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matthew III:2). The Sermon on the Mount reveals these mysteries in great detail (Matthew, V VII). This building of new bridges, the new Cancer, demands that we transform the old symbol. We can imagine, for instance, two mountain slopes and a deep abyss between them (Fig. 5.4b). Something like a bridge built across would connect the slopes. This is, of course, only a tentative suggestion. We may find in time quite new symbols with regard to this Cancer. However, even this building of bridges has practical perspectives. When Christopher Columbus died (1506), Saturn was between the constellations of Cancer and Leo. He had laid the foundation stones of the bridge from the old to the new continent. He had suffered for years, even decades until he reached his goal. This is a kind of living description of what Cancer can be in a very practical sense. When Michelangelo died (1564), not only was Saturn in Cancer but also Jupiter. It was as if the past and future of evolution were involved in that moment in a cosmic conference. Michelangelo took for his artistic expressions the hardest material he could find on Earth, marble, and transformed it into wonderful presentations, especially of the Christ events. Thereby he established bridges across the abyss. In his lifes work the abyss was the hard material substance that he used, the rocks of the Earth, that which has fallen deepest and furthest away from the spirit. This he transformed into presentations of the great Deed of Golgotha. The German poet Novalis died at a moment when Jupiter was in Cancer (1801). Among his works, there are at least three volumes that are similar to a diary. He speaks in them about practically everything that a human being can meet on this Earth in the spheres of science, of art, and of religion. With a few words he is able to give the most inspiring insight into these spheres, and he thereby builds bridges of understanding. Paracelsus died when Mars was in Cancer (1541). This great medical doctor of the Middle Ages endeavored all his life to build bridges between that which occurs on the Earth as the phenomenon of human illness and that which works as up-building and creative forces in the cosmos. He did it in order to find effective means of healing. He says, for instance, in one of his books: That science is truly magic which is able to bring the forces of heaven into a medium and to set them into operation through the same. Or: It is indeed possible for a man to get hold of and to enclose the whole of the universe in his grasp and this with all its foundations and in clear perception of its perfect entirety (Astronomia Magna). Thus he tried to build bridges between the cosmos and the earthly world.

Figure 5.5a Leo Figure 5.5b


For the constellation of Leo we use the symbol in Figure 5.5a. In ancient times this was the symbol of going out from the Earth into the periphery and eventually into the cosmos. This must also be transformed in our present time and still more in the future. So far, we can only think of a reversal of its dynamics. We may imagine taking the periphery into the center (Fig. 5.5b), even right into the human heart. In order to become fully human, we may need a deeper than hitherto available understanding of the cosmic forces at work, and also an ability to handle them constructively so that the human being can attain real human-hood on this planet. There is an illuminating example in history. Saturn at the moment of Goethe's death was (1832) in the constellation of Leo. His universality and his bringing this new universality, or periphery, into earthly life experience is an expression of the new Leo motif, at least in a germinal form. Another man who tried to found a knowledge of cosmology, of the workings of the cosmos in earthly substances, was Culpeper, the famous British herbalist. He died when Saturn was in Leo (1654). During a relatively short earthly career of only 38 years, he endeavored to discover the workings of the planets in plants that were used for medical purposes. He published heavy volumes of illustrated books in which he described many medicinal herbs. At the same time he gives in every case what he considers to be the corresponding relationship with the planetary world. Also that strange personality in history, Nostradamus, died when Saturn was in Leo (1566). He had a rather difficult destiny. He had actually trained as a medical doctor and did some good work. However, he became famous through his prophecies, which he wrote down in verse form, known as the Centuries. They were strangely veiled. Many people have tried to decipher the meaning of these poems. In some cases one realized their implications only after certain events had actually happened. The Great Fire of London in 1666 was one of these instances. After it had taken place someone suddenly noticed that Nostradamus had actually prophesied it during the preceding century. In the same veiled manner he had prophesied many other things that, when they had been written down and published, were complete riddles. He received these prophecies in a strange way. It is said that he lived in a house that enclosed a central courtyard. There he sat in the deep of the night after his household had gone to bed and meditated on the reflections of the stars in the water of the pool that was in the courtyard. Through the reflection, the light of the stars was broken, and in the process of their breaking he received those strange revelations written down as his prophecies. Also Gotthilf Heinrich Schubert, whom we have mentioned above, died when Saturn was in Leo. We have spoken about him in connection with Uranus in Taurus. Furthermore, Jacob Boehme, the well-known German mystic, died when Saturn was in Leo (1624). He is a remarkable personality in the whole family of the medieval mystics and theosophists. By profession he was a simple cobbler, and yet he wrote the most profound books about spiritual and mystical matters. He well succeeded in uniting the spiritual periphery of the human being with the mundane world in which he has to live and which is indicated in the Leo symbol by the small circle.


Figure 5.6a Virgo Figure 5.6b


For Virgo we usually use the symbol as given Fig. 5.6a. What does it mean? It seems strange. One can learn to understand it if one studies it together with the symbol for Scorpio (Fig. 5.8a). In between is, of course, Libra. Both symbols, for Virgo and Scorpio, seem to be variations of the letter m. However, we suggest transforming them into pictures of three successive gates that must be traversed and mastered in order to achieve initiation. Hence, in the case of the suggested symbol for Virgo (Fig. 5.6b), we indicate that eventually cosmic wisdom will be reached, signified by the Serpent of Wisdom and Life. Wisdom and life are two sides of the same cosmic element. Above all we find here Leonardo da Vinci, who died when Jupiter was in the constellation of Virgo (1519). A study of his life and his lifes work can convince one that he always, in everything he did, searched for the mysteries of life. We need only to take his most famous painting, The Last Supper. To study the gestures of the 12 disciples alone is a revelation. They are a unique presentation of the 12 constellations of the Zodiac. Particularly the gestures of their hands reveal that Leonardo must have had a deep understanding of the cosmic mysteries and the wisdom contained in the constellations. Many more historic personalities could be cited who died when Saturn was in Virgo, not least among them the Greek philosopher Plato (d. 348).


Figure 5.7a Libra Figure 5.7b


For the constellation of Libra we use as a symbol that which somewhat resembles a pair of scales (Fig. 5.7a). We suggest something like a sunrise (Fig. 5.7b) or sunset, when the Sun is at the point of balance between light and darkness. As far as the human being is connected with this constellation, we can indeed find it associated with decision and weighing. For instance, the death configurations of three great astronomers of the Middle Ages show Saturn in Libra. The first one was Copernicus (d. 1543), who introduced the so-called Copernican system. Then we find Tycho Brahe (d. 1601), who could not go along with the Copernican view for spiritual-ethical reasons. Furthermore, Kepler had a similar Saturn when he died (1603). During the last few months of Tycho Brahes life, he worked with Kepler, but after Brahes death Kepler found himself obliged to further evolve the Copernican system. A tremendous historic battle is indicated in these three Saturn positions in Libra. Copernicus very hesitatingly introduced the heliocentric system. Tycho Brahe did not accept it because he could not agree with the Earths being dethroned from its central position. Then Kepler followed the suggestions of Copernicus because he saw in them a necessity for the development of modern humanity. In times nearer to us, we find that Dr. Steiner died in 1925 when Saturn had just entered the constellation of Libra. Here we are confronted with a totally new phase, as it was a totally new perspective of Libra. This is associated with the reopening of the gates in totally new ways to that which was in ancient times the mysteries, cultivated in the sacred temple places. Dr. Steiner prepared the road by offering this present humanity a means of inner development and of catharsis to again attain a knowledge of the spiritual world, and even to the reality of this spiritual world. Thus we can also come to understand that this constellation of Libra stands as a balancing element between Virgo and Scorpio. Through the gates of Virgo we enter the mysteries of cosmic wisdom and life.

Figure 5.8a Scorpio Figure 5.8b


Scorpio also provides three gates, but in going through them we meet something different from what is in Virgo. In Scorpio we can meet the mysteries of the eternal soul of the human being, provided we have learned to face death as the portal to resurrection (Fig. 5.8b).

Associated with Scorpio, we find personalities in history who did travel that road. One who has already been mentioned was Vladimir Soloviev. When he died (1900), Jupiter was in Scorpio. It was also there when he was born (1853). The birth aspect led us to see Solovievs deep connection with the Divine Sophia, or Hagia Sophia, whom he experienced three times in his life. At death this same Jupiter, now inspired by the life-deeds of Soloviev, would proclaim from the heavens the new aspect of Scorpio: no longer with the deadly sting as the old symbol shows it, but with the breaking through of the human soul to the spiritual realities experienced as the Divine Sophia. Furthermore, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux died (1153) at a moment when Jupiter was in Scorpio. And so did Raphael Santi (1520), the great painter of the Renaissance. We expect that both are so well known that no further comment is necessary.


Figure 5.9a Sagittarius Figure 5.9b


In the symbol of Sagittarius (Fig. 5.9a), a definite dynamism is expressed. It is the arrow that the Archer shoots into cosmic space. We suggest an addition, a little circle from which the arrow arises (Fig. 5.9b). What do we want to indicate by this? The effigy of Sagittarius is shown on old star maps as a centaur. The front and upper part is human that grows out of a horses body. We shall now turn this Sagittarius-centaur around, so that the head becomes the Earth and the horses body moves over the firmament. In other words, Sagittarius embodies the entire cosmic world, the Zodiac, and the spheres of the planets. But the intention is to raise this possibly still unconscious embodiment to fully awakened Earth consciousness and creative capacity. Now, we find that Soloviev died at a moment when Saturn was in Sagittarius, and Jupiter was also there at Rudolf Steiners death, which was connected with the birth of Anthroposophy during the years 1900, 1901, and 1902. Available evidence can prove this.

Figure 5.10a Capricorn Figure 5.10b


The traditional symbol for Capricorn is somewhat obscure (Fig. 5.10a). In ancient times this constellation was regarded as the portal to the gods. This is clearly expressed by human associations with Capricorn at the moment of their passing over into the spiritual world. Above all Saint Francis died at a moment (1226) when not only Saturn, but also Jupiter and Mars, were in Capricorn (heliocentrically). Saint Francis not only knew but lived a deep connection with the spiritual world. We need only think of his vision of the crucified Seraph who impressed the stigmata upon his body. Christian Morgenstern also died when Jupiter was in Capricorn (1914). Studying his life, which was devoted to Anthroposophy, and also his poetry, can convince one that there was a more than superficial connection with the spiritual world and with a spiritual reality. Swedenborg died (1792) when Jupiter and Mars were in Capricorn (heliocentrically). He does not need any comment in this context. Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, died (1843) at a moment when Jupiter and Mercury were in Capricorn (heliocentrically). Hahnemanns own opinion of the nature of that which he had discovered was that by reducing the material substance to a minimum, through the dilution in the homeopathic process, the spiritual forces were freed. Thus, in his opinion, they could work all the more strongly and effect cures. This is a demonstration of his realistic connection with the world of the spirit.


Figure 5.11a Aquarius Figure 5.11b


For Aquarius we use the symbol in Fig. 5.11a, which obviously depicts flowing water. However, this is water in the heavens. It speaks of the etheric forces in the heavens. These last constellations, Capricorn/ Goat, Aquarius/Waterman, and even Sagittarius/Archer to an extent, are reserved, so to speak, for the future. We as human beings are not yet quite so far as to master them. This is because the vernal equinox will reach these constellations only at some future point. Yet, we find single examples that show in which direction evolution may move. When Culpeper died, who was mentioned in connection with Saturn in Leo, Jupiter was in Aquarius. His association with the world of herbs and their therapeutic properties speaks for his insight into the realm of etheric or life forces. Goethe died (1832) when Jupiter was (heliocentrically) still in Aquarius. We think of his imagination of the archetypal plant, which confirms that he also had a deep insight into this sphere of the life forces in the universe. Finally, we mention Thomas Vaughan, the Welsh alchemist, in whose death asterogram (1666) we find Jupiter in Aquarius. His alchemical studies prove that he was a genuine esotericist who had gained access to the formative and creative forces in nature in other words, to the etheric world.


Figure 5.12a Pisces Figure 5.12b


The constellation of Pisces, or Fishes, is close to present humanity, because whatever some people may say, the vernal equinox is still below the effigy of the western Fish. Certainly, the waters of Aquarius are already approaching below the present vernal equinox in Pisces. In other words, we are moving toward a double proposition as far as the equinox is concerned. This constellation spans the heavens between Aries and Aquarius. Aries stands for the past, which culminated in the acquisition of head and brain capacities. Aquarius is the uncharted future, which will demand the ability to handle forces of cosmic origin in a healthy way. Between the two stands present humanity, and it is constantly called upon to strike a balance between them, or else face disaster of some kind. This can easily be expressed if we expand the traditional symbol shown in Fig. 5.12a to that in 5.12b, showing two worlds united horizontally. Pisces is also the archetypal region of the feet and hands of the human form. They are instruments for achieving independence and emancipation if we compare the human body, for instance, with that of the plant. It is just this independence and spiritual freedom, from all kinds of traditions and dogmas that modern humanity needs to attain in order to prepare for the demands of the future.

One of the means of achieving spiritual freedom was the development of natural science, although the latter is constantly exposed to the danger of pushing humanity back into un-freedom and bonds that sometimes seem more fearful than those of the past. Thus we can understand that references to Pisces can be found in the birth configurations of prominent scientists of the modern age. At the time of birth we see in the heavens the great challenges that come to the human being from the powers active in the spiritual guidance of humanity. Of course, we have thereby no guarantee that the human beings concerned will respond to the challenges. This is left to their free decision. Not all whom we shall mention here succeeded in this. Kepler, who was mentioned in connection with Copernicus and Tycho Brahe, entered through birth when Jupiter was in Pisces (1571). Isaac Newton was born in 1643 when Saturn and Jupiter were both in Pisces (shortly before their heliocentric conjunction). Faraday, the inventor of the electric dynamo, entered the world in 1791; Saturn was then in Pisces, Jupiter opposite in Virgo. Darwin was born in 1809, when Jupiter was in Pisces. Thus we have here a front-row view of the tremendous battle that is raging in our present age. It is quite obviously a battle of emancipation from old concepts and practices. However, we can succeed only if we are prepared to identify our own existence in freedom of knowledge with cosmic patterns of existence, i.e., with the dynamics of Aquarius. Otherwise our very integrity will be threatened, and we will possibly destroy ourselves. This has become only too obvious during the last few decades.


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