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New Aeon: A Consideration of Astrological Symbolism
6: Individual Initiation

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As was mentioned earlier with respect to cultures as a whole, the method of linkage between a lower entity and a higher entity is governed by the two signs that lie on the horizon of an age's horoscope. The same principle applies to individual initiation. If we look at the holy men and women of the Piscean era, we find that their individual revelations came more often than not in the form of eidetic perceptions (governed by Sagittarius) or aural perceptions (governed by Gemini). Some saw mysterious, ineluctable visions, like those of the Book of Revelation;others seemed to hear the divine speaking to them. In either case, these things were usually accompanied by a sense of being overwhelmed by a tremendous, all-encompassing power, which is the hallmark of Jupiter in his night house Pisces. To borrow a phrase from Aleister Crowley, God was linked to man through the Vision and the Voice. Those who trained in the philosophy and practice of theurgic magick still consistently experienced the connection in these ways; their experiences were more clear in meaning, more readily apprehended, but followed the same forms as their more ignorant and excitable brethren.

Another thing to remember about the Piscean era was that the polarity of that era was focused in the watery and earthy aspects of human nature; that is, in the emotional and physical natures. The higher aspects of these two elements ù the briatic sphere for Water, for Earth the entire human Tree of Life (viewed in relation to a larger, encompassing realm) ù were entirely out of reach of most of humanity. Thus the resonance between the higher and lower aspects did not assist much in the processes of initiation during that age, and initiation became the privilege of a select few.

In contrast, in the present era is focused in Air and Fire, with Air predominating. The lower aspect of Air corresponds to the intellectual faculties in humanity, while its higher aspect corresponds to the Ruach as a whole, which includes the intellect as a small part of itself. The lower aspect of Fire is the personality or self-image, what the Buddhists call the motivational nature, Netzach in the Tree of Life. The higher aspect of Fire is normally the Atziluthic or archetypal sphere, even further away from human awareness than the previous era's Briatic correspondence. But in the current era, Fire is represented by Leo and its ruler Sol, which are intimately connected with the human soul in Tiphereth. And in Frater Achad's "re-formed" Tree of Life, Leo is also the path connecting Netzach and Tiphereth, indicating that this connection will be particularly powerful during the current era.

In neither instance is the Piscean era's huge gap between higher and lower aspects present. In one case, the transformation is from a part to the whole in which it resides; in the other instance, the transformation is from one level of existence to the level immediately above it. Under such conditions, it can be expected that the resonances between higher and lower will act in such a way as to actively encourage the passage upwards through the planes. The fact that the fixed cross as a whole is closely connected with human existence and evolution will also tend to increase the effect.

Thus as the current era progresses, we can expect that the types of souls choosing to incarnate will be such as to take advantage of this situation. Fewer of those who are focused in the physical and emotional natures will incarnate, and those who do will be more often those who are ready to transfer their focus upwards into the intellectual sphere. Similarly, many more people will incarnate who are ready to expand their horizons outwards to encompass the soul and the greater sphere of the Ruach. A far larger portion of the population will be in some degree initiated; initiation will not be the privilege of an elite, but rather the common expectation of humankind.

Along with the increasing commonness of initiation, an increasing de-mystification of the initiatory process can be expected . This is already taking place; basic magickal techniques that were once closely-held secrets are now commercially marketed, stripped of their religious and magickal trappings and wrapped in a more comprehensible (and less emotionally loaded) psychological jargon. After a couple of centuries of discredit, the basic modes of thought necessary to magickal work metaphorical or correspondential thinking are being recognized as an intrinsic part of human perception, consciously accessible by practically anyone with a bit of training.

Demystification will eventually bring about among magicians a more balanced view of the place of their work and favored perceptual modes within the gamut of abilities exhibited by the human mind. An appreciation that their way of working is not special but merely specialized will do much to alleviate the egotism that is rampant among magicians today. With the loss of the sense of self-importance, methods truly suited to the Aquarian era can begin to be developed.

It has been emphasized throughout this paper that (under the influence of the fixed cross) the universe appears to be composed of units which, by interacting intensely, produce the appearance of larger wholes that exhibit qualities impossible to their components. If we look at any of these units, they too appear to be composed of smaller units in intensive interaction. This carries down to the subatomic level, which seems ù at this point in time ù to be a ground state. (The strange entities of the subatomic realm combine the properties of Leo and Aquarius in a different way, able to act both as particulate individualities and as non- wave-forms, depending on how we choose to look at them.)

The parts-and-wholes pattern extends in the macrocosmic direction as well, and in that direction there does not appear to be any limit to the size of the wholes that can be formed. The gravitational bubble that encloses the physical universe places a theoretical limit on the area we can know, as does the speed of light, but it does not necessarily define the limits of existence, as several cosmological physicists have demonstrated.

So throughout the physical universe, at any scale we choose to observe, anything we look at is simultaneously a unified whole and a collection of discrete parts in interaction. The same is true of the subjective universe of magick. The effect is most visible on the astral plane where points of light in combination form larger entities; and on the intellectual plane where memories of past experiences combine to form ideas or words, and these in turn meld into more abstract ideas. But it is equally true of the more "formless" levels as well.

The subjective experiencing entity that is a human being is also simultaneously a whole and a myriad of parts. The human mind is composed of a legion of sub-minds; all of them possess a basic matrix of interconnectedness but at the same time are specialized for various purposes, as the cells and organs of the body are specialized while having the same genetic endowment. These subminds interact closely and in their interaction either create or provide a vehicle for that which calls itself by the pronouns "I" and "me", the aware and self-aware individual.

Which human abilities are attributable entirely to subminds, and which are characteristics of the individualized whole? This question can not be answered to anyone's satisfaction, except to say that the conscious individuality is often less in control of its behavior and thought than it normally believes itself to be. It has a ability to call certain sub-minds into action to suit circumstances, but many of the sub-minds are beyond its direct control, and can only be influenced by subtle, indirect persuasion over a long period of time. It has a greater ability to veto actions instigated by one or a group of subminds; but again it is not in complete control. Beyond these general statements, any more specific answer is lost in the diversity of talents that human beings exhibit.

Awareness that the self can be viewed as a product of group activity and interaction is the key to developing Aquarian techniques of initiation. It is the development of the ability to consciously release the self from its intense sense of "I-ness", its urge to centralization of control, and to loosen but not destroy the bonds between the sub-minds that will make such techniques practicable. It may sound like I am advocating the cultivation of a schizophrenic state, but this is not the case; the state in question is no more similar to schizophrenic dissociation than is the creative wordplay of a skilled poet to a schizophrenic's flights of thought.

As was shown in figure 4, at one point in a developing interaction between units, they begin as a group to throw off a light, a radiation into their surroundings. Eventually this radiation becomes intensified and centralized, appearing to come from a point within the group that is not necessarily occupied by one of its members. The power generated is far beyond what is available from the group taken as separate entities; much of it becomes bound up in the central point, but the amount released is still greater than their apparent individual contributions. Accompanying this radiation is a magnetic effect, drawing the group members closer together, strengthening the bonds between them. The radiation permeates an area around the group, making that area "theirs" in some sense. In the subjective composition of the human being, the central point (not consistently congruent with any of the sub-minds) is the individualized self.

The release the sense of I-ness is not a matter of loosening the bonds of the group of sub-minds to the point where the central self disappears; that is exactly what happens in schizophrenia. The goal is not to destroy the unity of the group of sub-minds. Rather the goal is to temporarily redistribute the extra energy generated by the group interaction, which is normally bound up in the central point that is the individualized self, among the separate members of the group. Enough of the centralizing power is retained to continue generating more power, but the rest is given back to the group. Receiving the distributed energy, the sub-minds of the group increase their own individual radiation, expanding the area (subjectively speaking) that they define as their own territory. The radiation of each pushes against the others, separating them, while at the same time the centralizing power tends to hold them together still. The process stops when a balance point is reached, and the amount of energy being distributed is equal to the amount being generated.

Some of the sub-minds may be stimulated to a degree that they reach a stable state on a higher energy level, much in the way that an electron given the right amount of extra energy will "jump" to a higher probability shell in an atom. When the exercise is done and the individualized self ceases to distribute its energy and the sub-minds fall back towards their normal state, these particular sub-minds will retain their extra energy. The result is that the normal, tighter interaction between the sub-minds will generate even more power than it did before. This energy will be available when the exercise is next done, providing better opportunity for the remaining sub-minds to jump to a higher, stable state.

From the standpoint of the subjective entity, the expanded state teaches the difference between consciousness and I-ness, two things normally considered identical. The sense of I-ness, the tendency towards centralized accumulation of the mind's energy and centralized control of the mind's capabilities, is reduced to a minimum; in some instances it may temporarily vanish. But consciousness is not reduced at all; it is expanded.

Before the individual being can reliably achieve the expanded state, it has to make a deliberate effort to reduce its egoic tendencies in order to release the energy it has accumulated. Having released that energy and achieved the state described here it gains confirmation that the state of I-ness is not nearly so important as it thinks. The sub-minds and the consciousness can both operate perfectly well without it. It becomes apparent to both that the "I", the individualized self or soul, is not the highest achievement of the being, nor is it the most powerful state the being can take on. Rather it is the ground state of the subjective being, the state of least activity, not of greatest activity. It is the state the being falls into as a default.

When the sense of I-ness is reduced the consciousness remains, but it becomes proportionately decentralized. It is still appears to itself to be a single consciousness but at the same time it appears to act as a subtle mercurial fluid, permeating all the sub-minds and participating in their individual activities as part of them. Except for being aware, it does not have any identifiable characteristics of its own; it takes on the characteristics of the sub-minds while still remaining itself. The consciousness' lack of distinguishing characteristics becomes important in the next stage of the Aquarian initiatory process.

Before describing that next stage, let us re-connect what has been described here with the fixed cross of the zodiac, the powers governing activity in the current era. As was the case with the Piscean era, this mode of the initiatory process relates very closely to the astrological signs.

Leo and its ruler Sol are at the nadir of the Aquarian "horoscope". Since the nadir sign is that in which the Earth stands in the horoscope, it colors and is colored by the activity of the planet. Earth has the associations of being the foundation on which we stand and of inertness or inertia, of minimum expenditure of energy. The sign comes to represent the foundation of being, what is at its base. Thus in the current age the ego (or at a higher stage, the soul) becomes the base state, the state of normality out of which one progresses in the course of attaining an initiation, and the state in which the resources of the being are conserved to the greatest extent.

The two horizon signs are the means of transition from the base state to the active or initiated state. In the current era these are the signs of Scorpio and Taurus with their planetary rulers and exalteds.

The process of transition begins with a redistribution of the energy accumulated in the ego or soul, sending it outwards into the sub-minds of the being and causing them to become more energized and to repel each other, loosening their bonds and allowing them greater freedom of movement and individual activity. The planet Mars, ruler of Scorpio, represents outwardly directed force, repelling or repulsing force, that is, force acting against an object. The exalted planet of Scorpio, Uranus, represents decentralization and the loosening of bonds. In combination these two planets govern the movement to the expanded state described previously.

The loosening of the bonds between the sub-minds does not continue indefinitely; the outward-trending force of the Scorpian planets is counteracted by a superficially weaker but more enduring inward-trending force. This force acts to hold the subminds together and to maintain a state of homeostasis in their interactions. At some point the forces balance and an excited but still stable state is attained. The ruler of Taurus, Venus, is the inward-oriented, attractive force countering Mars; Luna (representing stability in change) moderates the explosive decentralization of Uranus, holding it within a matrix and recycling it so that the power remains within the boundaries of the being.

Finally, this decentralized, excited-but-stable state results in a weakening of the power of the ego or soul, releasing the consciousness from its sense of identification with the personal "I". The consciousness loses its personal characteristics and becomes indistinguishable (except in scope) from the universal archetype of consciousness, reflecting whatever is around it while remaining itself. Uranus ruling Aquarius again represents the decentralized state of being. Mercury, exalted in Aquarius, represents the universalized state of the consciousness.

The decentralized state is not of much use by itself. Eventually fatigue intervenes and the consciousness falls back into its individualized, solar, base state at much the same level as before. Another factor must be included, one that enables the person to absorb energy to maintain the decentralized state longer, and to remain at a higher level even in the base state. In the traditional jargon of magick, this factor is the magickal link.

In the Aquarian mode of initiation, creation of the magickal link manifests itself as a process of alignment between the energized, decentralized sub-minds and their equivalents in one of the more inclusive groups of which the person is an unknowing part. The sub-minds have a greater freedom to vary their relationships to each other in this state, and by the very nature of the ever more inclusive groupings that make up the magickal universe, their normal relationship must already be similar in nature to some limited aspect of each larger wholes it is in. The mercurial consciousness of the decentralized state seeks to sense the nature of a larger whole and to direct the sub-minds into a pattern that is identical. When the pattern reaches a critical degree of alignment force begins to flow from the larger whole to the individual, and the magickal link is established.

The link flows in the other direction as well. The mercurial consciousness, already essentially free of any separative characteristics, moves outward into the larger whole as the whole's energy flows inward. Within the limits of its capacity, it becomes able to participate in the consciousness of the group in which it is contained and in the centralized consciousness that the group activity causes to manifest. For the time in which the magickal link is active, it becomes wholly identified with the consciousness of the group.

At first the consciousness may not be able to carry an accurate memory of this experience when it reverts to the solar state; the expansion into the group awareness always involves many elements of experience that do not have their exact correspondences in the individual's makeup, and these are not retained. However with repeated assumptions of the decentralized state and repeated exposures to the force of the group the necessary equivalents become built into the person's nature and the degree of retention increases dramatically.

A single "initiation" under the Aquarian mode is composed of many repetitions of the cycle from individualized being to decentralized being and back again. Each repetition gains the person a greater degree of alignment with the group in question, and a greater degree of identification with the central awareness of the group. Eventually the person reaches a state of saturation with respect to that particular group's activity, a level of identification at which the connections to the group begin to fall below the threshold of awareness.

A period of consolidation generally follows, in which the sub-minds absorb the experiences and energies gained and settle into a new base state. The conscious experience of the decentralized state tends to fall off for a while and the mind may even find it impossible to attain that state for some time, the length of which varies with the amount gained. The task of manifesting the gains within the context of earthly existence, of redefining the person's relationship to the world, becomes dominant in the person's mind.

As was the case with the upward movement, this transition downward is also governed by the two horizon signs, Taurus and Scorpio. The upward movement was dominated by Scorpio's urge towards the explosive loosening of bonds, with Taurus having a secondary effect to prevent the loosening from going too far. Here, the Taurean urge towards the making and solidification of bonds dominates as the person seeks to establish him/herself in the new base state, and to establish a new relation to the world based on that state. The Scorpio influence becomes secondary, serving primarily to break up habitual mental activities that are no longer perceived to be appropriate, and to encourage the abandonment of roles in the world that do not fit the pattern of the person's new pattern of perception.

Eventually a new relationship to the world is established, and the potentials gained have been fully incorporated into the person's normal individualized awareness. At this point the person can be said to have been fully initiated into a particular level of the magickal universe, and a new cycle around the fixed cross can begin, involving alignment and identification with a yet more inclusive group and central awareness.

When many of these cycles have been completed, a new condition of awareness begins to appear. The person begins to experience both their individualized state of consciousness and the consciousness of their group simultaneously. There is still a qualitative and perceptual distinction between the two states; but the magickal link becomes so strong and the flow in the link becomes so free that the demarcation between the individual's consciousness and the group's becomes indeterminate. The decentralized state of the sub-minds becomes so accurately aligned with the group that the latter supersedes the former in the person's awareness.

The person becomes, in effect, the physical manifestation of their group, and acts in the world to fulfill the group's task or purpose under the divine will. The person is no less an individual than before; the manifestation of that individuality may not even change. But behind the individual expression, the group acts to select those expressions that are most in accord with the group purpose, and to exclude those that would be contrary or damaging to that purpose.

The sequence of events described here occurs in initiations of every level from the lowest to the highest. What varies with the different levels is what is perceived as being the self, and what is seen as the divine. For an apprentice or aspirant, the ego is a point of fixation on the astral or intellectual levels, and the light of their own soul and its group is seen as the divine. For the adept the soul is the self, and in company with their group they seek contact with progressively more inclusive entities, ending with that one whose body is the Earth in all its parts and levels. For the mage the self is the world, which they seek to bring into alignment with the purpose being manifested by the group entity that is the solar system. At all of these levels, the aspects of centralization, loosening of bonds and expansion to a decentralized state, identification with a higher level, and re-centralization are the core of the initiatory process.

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