Baruch Spinoza, Philosopher
Michael D. Robbins
(the “Gentle Philosopher”, the “God-intoxicated Philosopher”)
December 4, 1632, Amsterdam, Holland, 4:00 PM, LMT.
(Source: Marc Penfield who references Matthews who gave
Spinoza Gemini rising). Died, February 21, 1677
Referenced: Ascendant, Gemini; Sun in Sagittarius, with Mercury conjunct
Saturn also in Sagittarius; Moon and Uranus in Virgo; Venus conjunct Mars
in Capricorn; Jupiter conjunct Pluto in Taurus; Neptune in Scorpio)
we are faced with the possibility of two or, perhaps, three charts. A
date of November 24, 1632 is sometimes suggested , but it is uncertain
whether this date is to be interpreted in the Old Style which would convert
it to December 4, 1632, New Style (a date also frequently used and the
one which will be used in the present interpretation). The New Style positions
for December 4, 1632 and the Old Style Positions for November 24,
1632, 4:00 PM are as given above. The New Style positions for
November 24, 1632, 2:00 PM are as given immediately
(Alternative Chart not Referenced: Ascendant, Aries: Sun
in Sagittarius conjunct Saturn also in Sagittarius; Moon in Taurus;
Mercury in Scorpio; Venus conjunct Mars in Sagittarius;
Jupiter conjunct Pluto in Taurus; Uranus in Virgo; Uranus in Virgo; Neptune
(Another alternative chart could be erected with Gemini on the Ascendant
for the earlier date, November 24, 1632. Such a chart is suggested by
Marc Penfield in his An Astrological Who’s Who, 1972, and
shows the last degree of Gemini rising. When Penfield published his Penfield
Collection in 1978, he utilized the December 4th date,
and changed the Ascendant in Gemini from the 30th degree to
the 18th degree. It is this latter chart which will be used
as the basis for the interpretation.)
The author has done his best to compare these charts to Spinoza’s character
and to the events in his life. The December 4th chart, NS,
was chosen for the following reasons.
his mother’s death in late 1638 or early 1639 there was a solar eclipse
(on December 5, 1638) in the very same degree as Spinoza’s Sun in the
December 4th natal chart. The Sun is ruler of the IC in all
Gemini rising charts for Spinoza, and, therefore, rules the “mother”.
his own death which occurred on February 21, 1677, there was another solar
eclipse (on December 5, 1676) which occurred within just a degree of Spinoza’s
Sun in the December 4th natal chart. The fourth house rules,
among other things, the “end of life”.
These two very
similar eclipses were decisive in his life and would not have touched
any such significant points in the chart erected for November 24th,
New Style, for the Sagittarius Sun would have been in only the third degree.
The rigor and
exactitude of Spinoza’s rationalistic thought are characteristic of a
conjunction between Saturn and Mercury (in Sagittarius). This conjunction
occurs only in the December 4th chart.
of tuberculosis, apparently aggravated by his inhaling glass dust from
lens grinding. In the 4:00 PM chart for December 4th, Saturn
in Sagittarius is placed in the sixth house (ruling his occupation—not
his true philosophical career or vocation). Saturn is the ruler of the
eighth house, the house of death. This placement, therefore, shows the
cause of death as related to his occupation or employment. This
is not the case with the chart usually offered for the November 24th
date—a chart with Aries rising and Saturn in the eighth house.
Further, in the
Gemini rising charts, the December 4th chart shows a conjunction
between Saturn and Mercury—Mercury being the orthodox ruler of the Gemini
Ascendant. Mercury and Gemini are associated with the lungs and Spinoza
died of a lung affliction. In the earlier Gemini rising chart (for November
24th), Saturn and Mercury are at least eleven degrees from
each other—too wide for a conjunction. The cause of death as tuberculosis
is far more accurately reflected by the Saturn/Mercury conjunction (with
Saturn as the bringer of affliction)—especially since Sagittarius, in
which they are both found, since it is the sign reciprocal to Gemini,
is often involved in lung ailments.
considerable expertise as a lens grinder. The Virgo Moon of the
December 4th chart is more suggestive of this skill. Additionally,
Mars and Venus have moved into Capricorn in this later chart. These three
earth signs suggest something of the exactitude required for mastery of
such a craft—much more so than a Taurus Moon and Mars and Venus in Sagittarius
(in the November 24th chart).
The Aries rising
chart of November 24th does not correlate well with the character
of the “gentle philosopher”, who, it appears, ever sought to avoid confrontation
(even with the elders of the Jewish Synagogue who unjustly accused him
of blasphemy and heresy).
correspondence which Spinoza carried forward, correlates far better with
a Gemini Ascendant and a Sun near the seventh house cusp than with the
Virgo Moon, found only in the December 4th chart, seems suitable
for Spinoza’s retiring way of life and bachelorhood. Further, when his
father died in March of 1654, there was a lunar eclipse (on March 3, 1654)
two degrees from the Virgo Moon. There was property dispute as a result
of this death, and the Moon, implicated by eclipse, symbolizes property,
and is the ruler of the third house in the December 4th chart.
The dispute was with one of Spinoza’s siblings (siblings are ruled by
the third house)—his stepsister. Another solar eclipse about six months
before the father’s death occurred within twenty minutes of arc of Spinoza’s
Uranus position. In the Gemini rising chart of December 4th,
Uranus is the ruler of the Aquarius MC, indicating the (sudden?) loss
of the father.
convincing of all for the chart with the 18th degree of Gemini
rising is Spinoza’s excommunication from the Jewish Synagogue in July
of 1656. Again two solar eclipses are involved—one in the 10th
degree of Leo about a year before the excommunication and another in the
7th degree of Aquarius about six months before this determining
event. The Aquarius/Leo MC/IC in the December 4th Gemini chart
was, therefore, implicated—though the “hit” was not exact.. Nothing would
be touched in the Aries rising chart of November 24th.
and most impressively, Pluto which is the planet ruling excommunication,
expulsion and exile was making a transit across the ascending degree (the
18th degree of Gemini) exactly at the time of the excommunication.
In addition, after that expulsion from the synagogue, he was banished
(Pluto) from Amsterdam for a short time by the civil authorities. All
of this most certainly points to the validity of a Gemini rising chart,
as Pluto had passed the opposition of his Sagittarius Sun some two years
before, and nothing so dramatic had occurred. The Gemini rising chart
for December 4th is far more convincing than the a Gemini rising
chart for November 24th.
Life and Chart Analysis
(Baruch) Spinoza was one of the world’s great philosophers. He was both
a rigorous rationalist and a pantheist, seeking to understand the world
by the Euclidean method, reasoning deductively from self-evident axioms
and carefully formulated definitions to profound conclusions concerning
the nature of God, Man and human society.
Since his death in 1677, Spinoza has at various times been both in and
out of favor. The period of particular disfavor occurred for about a century
after his death, during which times his ideas were widely considered as
blasphemous. A skeptical critic, Pierre Bayle called Spinozism “the most
monstrous hypothesis imaginable, the most absurd”. David Hume, a Scottish
Skeptic, empiricist and historian, referred to the “hideous hypothesis”
of Spinoza. Yet, no lesser minds that the great German initiate poet,
novelist, and scientist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as well as dramatist
and critic G.E. Lessing, and the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge found in
Spinoza much to admire—an intensely spiritual understanding of reality
yet divorced from all religious dogma.
Spinoza has been called the “gentle philosopher” and the “God-intoxicated
philosopher”. A man of modest and retiring habits, he had a profound effect
upon some of the foremost thinkers of the seventeenth century and his
influence has continued to grow in philosophical circles, especially since
the early 19th century. Spinoza became so popular with unusually
diverse groups of philosophers partially because it was possible to read
into his works a support for such widely contrasting world-views as atheism,
materialism, pantheism, absolute idealism, and empiricism, to name only
a few. That so many antagonistic schools of thought could find a resonance
with Spinoza’s philosophy gives some idea of the breadth and depth (and
perhaps, the essential obscurity) of Spinoza’s lucidly-articulated ideas.
Spinoza’s principle works are the Ethics (1665), the Short
Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being, the Treatise on the Correction
of the Understanding, the geometrical version of René Descartes
Philosophical Principles, A Treatise on Religious and Political Philosophy
(1670), and Posthumous Works, including the Treatise on
the Improvement of Understanding, Letters, and Hebrew Grammar.
Spinoza belonged to a group of Jews who fled the Inquisition from
Spain and Portugal. His family settled in Holland, which after its successful
revolt from Spain adopted a policy of religious toleration. Spinoza was
educated in the orthodox Jewish manner, but studied Latin, absorbed the
works of the significant philosophers, especially Thomas Hobbes and René
Descartes, and received a thorough schooling in scholastic theology and
philosophy. He emerged as an independent thinker which led him into constant
conflict with the authorities of the Jewish Synagogue of Amsterdam. After
threats and bribes failed to silence him, he was excommunicated from the
Synagogue in July, 1656. He abandoned his Hebrew name, “Baruch”, and chose
the Latin name, “Benedict”.
Apart from his philosophical pursuits, Spinoza became a lens grinder of
great skill (Moon in Virgo and the presence of the fifth ray). Some suggest
that he undertook this occupation of necessity in order to make a living,
but others see him pursuing a scientific interest in optics. Apparently
he was also supported by a series of grants, pensions and bequests which
made it possible for him to pursue his interest in philosophy.
Spinoza lived a modest and retiring life. He had numerous friendships
with the philosophically and scientifically minded, and shared his writings
within these circles; he dared not publish them for fear of the authorities—civil
and religious. Only one of his books (A Treatise on Religious and Political
Philosophy) actually was published under his true name during his
Spinoza maintained a wide correspondence (Gemini Ascendant) and was visited
by many philosophers, the distinguished Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
among them. A few years before his death he was offered a professorship
at Heidelberg, but he preferred his quiet life and especially the freedom
of thought which it afforded him.
He contracted tuberculosis (Gemini/Sagittarius axis, with Mercury conjunct
Saturn) and his condition was apparently aggravated by his inhalation
of glass dust from the grinding of lenses. He died on February 21, 1677,
leaving instructions for the posthumous publication of various of his
works—under his own name.
Spinoza’s Metaphysics: Spinoza philosophy was rationalistic, deductive
and monistic (i.e., characterized by the hypothesis of one fundamental
substance). Deductive rationalism is characteristic of the third ray (the
Ray of Abstract Intelligence); Monism suggests the presence of the inclusive
second ray of Love-Wisdom. Spinoza shared with Descartes an intensely
mathematical appreciation of the universe, though he differed with Descartes
on certain fundamentals. Whereas, for Descartes, mind and body were two
different substances, for Spinoza there was but one substance of
which mind and body could be considered different aspects. He called this
substance both “God” and “Nature”. He conceived the universe as a single
substance capable of an infinitude of attributes (hence his pantheism).
“God is a Being infinite in an infinite number of ways”. The universe
can be known by two of these attributes especially—“extension” (the major
property of matter) and “thought”, (the major property of mind). God is
not seen as a supernatural Entity in contradistinction to Nature; God
and Nature are one. God is Nature in its fulness.
Although Spinoza was a rationalist, he was, unlike a number of the absolute
idealists, also an empiricist. He was a close observer of Man and Nature.
He studied physical experiences in order to produce “adequate ideas” which,
in his view, depended upon a coherent, logical association of perceived
physical experiences. His belief in observation and empiricism was, it
might be said, out-pictured in his secondary occupation—that of lens grinding.
He interest was in how things are seen. His respect for empiricism
and his deepening understanding of optics both speak for the presence
of the scientific fifth ray in his ray formula.
In his most famous and revolutionary work, the Ethics, Spinoza
explores the concepts of freedom, bondage and free will. In many ways,
Spinoza is a determinist, seeing the universe as a mechanistic system,
and taking issue with the existence of free will (either for God or Man)..
The principle of necessity (Saturn is conjunct Mercury and is dispositor
of his Venus/Mars conjunction) is of determining importance in his thought.
All beings seek to maintain and express the power of their being,
and thus virtue and power are one. But for Spinoza, power derives from
a knowledge of necessity. When powerful or virtuous persons act,
they understand why they must act. They are free only in their
understanding. What they must do, they cannot escape doing, but, because
the have “adequate ideas”, they are aware of the necessity of so
doing.. Those, on the contrary, who are not free, act without awareness
of the law of their being (i.e., they are driven to act by instinct and
do not understand why they must act or how they must act).
Man is rigorously compelled and determined, but some human beings see
and know what is happening to them (and are thus free—at least, in consciousness)
and others do not see and know, and hence are enslaved.
The free individual is guided by the laws of his own nature. Those so
guided are never out of harmony with others similarly guided because the
true law of one’s nature is never at variance with the true law
of another’s. Always there is an inescapable conformity to law, and no
possibility of evading the law of one’s nature. The person in bondage
is moved by causes which he does not understand or about which he is confused.
For Spinoza, there is no distinction between will and reason. Ideas cannot
be passively entertained and later put into action. Ideas, and not will,
are the causes of action. By equating idea with power and virtue, and
thus discounting the will as an independent agency, Spinoza displays his
third ray bias. The third ray exalts the mind above all other faculties.
Thus, for Spinoza, the clear and reasonable mind is the cause of all correct
action. Will is subsumed into mind. Indeed, in Spinoza’s ray makeup, the
first ray is deficient, and his view of the process of willing
and thinking reflects this deficiency.
In the realm of political philosophy, Spinoza shares with Thomas Hobbes
a number of similarities, but their conclusions are very different. Both
identify the reality of the “social contract”. Right is seen as relative,
and the social contract proves binding only as long as it serves the advantage
of the participants. But for Hobbes, strongly influenced by Aries, Taurus
and a greater intensity of the first ray, advantage lies in satisfying
as many desires a possible. Hobbes was the more materialistic thinker.
For Spinoza (focussed upon the Sagittarius/Gemini axis) advantage is found
is escaping from those desires through understanding. Spinoza’s is the
more detached view.
To clarify Spinoza’s view of man’s social possibilities, it can be said
that Hobbes does not imagine a community of individuals whose desires
can be consistently satisfied, so the use of force or repression is always
necessary; Spinoza, however, more benign in his imagination, can foresee
just such a community and such consistent satisfaction, so, in his political
and religious thought, the notion of freedom, especially freedom of inquiry
(Gemini, Mercury, fifth ray), is of fundamental importance. Again, we
see a somewhat detached mind at work, perhaps naïve in its estimation
of the ease with which man’s instinctual nature can be managed. The November
24th chart, shows an Aries Ascendant, like that of Hobbes,
and a Taurus Moon (Hobbes also had a strong stellium of four planets and
two asteroids in Taurus). This kind of chart does not seem correct for
the “gentle philosopher”, so detached from his well controlled emotions
(Moon in Virgo). Spinoza is capable of ‘mentalizing’ the life process,
and seeks freedom from the bio-psychic compulsions; Hobbes seems rather
more in their grip. Thus, again, the later chart for December 4th,
emphasizing Gemini and Virgo (Sagittarius remains the same) seems more
With this woefully brief summary of Spinoza’s philosophy and some knowledge
of his life process, we can offer a speculative hypothesis regarding his
Monad: Ray Two
Vehicle: Ray 5
Vehicle: Ray 2
Vehicle Ray 7
it is not possible to gain a good idea of the ray of Spinoza’s monadic
vehicle. The overall impression of his energy system is that it offers
a mixture of rays two and three. Spinoza, as one of the greatest of philosophical
minds, may well have stood at an evolutionary point where the ray of the
monad could be considered influential. There is much to suggest that he
was an initiate of the third degree or, at least, very nearly at that
stage. His profound love and respect for geometry connects him to that
Ray Lord Who is known as “The Grand Geometrician”—the Ray Lord of the
The following quotation from The Secret Doctrine contrasts Leibniz’
and Spinoza’s views with respect to ultimate reality—(for us) the realm
of the monad.
“The student must now be shown the fundamental distinction between the
system of Leibniz* and that of occult philosophy, on the question of the
Monads, and this may be done with his Monadology before us. It may be
correctly stated that were Leibniz' and Spinoza's systems reconciled,
the essence and Spirit of esoteric philosophy would be made to appear.
From the shock of the two -- as opposed to the Cartesian system -- emerge
the truths of the Archaic doctrine. Both opposed the metaphysics of Descartes.
His idea of the contrast of two substances -- Extension and Thought --
radically differing from each other and mutually irreducible, was too
arbitrary and too unphilosophical for them. Thus Leibniz made of the two
Cartesian substances two attributes of one universal unity, in which he
saw God. Spinoza recognised but one universal indivisible substance and
absolute ALL, like Parabrahman. Leibniz, on the contrary perceived the
existence of a plurality of substances. There was but ONE for Spinoza;
for Leibniz an infinitude of Beings, from, and in, the One. Hence, though
both admitted but one real Entity, while Spinoza made it impersonal and
indivisible, Leibniz divided his personal Deity into a number of divine
and semi-divine Beings. Spinoza was a subjective, Leibniz an objective
Pantheist, yet both were great philosophers in their intuitive perceptions”.
(SD Vol. I, 629)
Spinoza was, in HPB’s words a “subjective Pantheist”, and Leibniz, an
“objective Pantheist”. Here, it can be argued, we see the difference between
a profoundly unitive second ray and the profundity of the ray of multiplicity
and discrimination—the third. Both philosophers sought to overcome the
“Cartesian split”, but Spinoza had recourse to a “universal, indivisible
substance and absolute ALL, (in HPB’s words) like Parabrahman”, and the
other, more influenced at a fundamental level by the third ray, believed
in an “infinitude of beings”. Like Plato and Aristotle, the truth lies
in the combination of perspectives—Plato representing more the second
ray and Aristotle the third. There is something Neptunian about the tendency
to dissolve all multiplicity into a single substance, and indeed, Neptune
is prominent in the December 4th, 4:00 PM chart, conjunct the
Vertex in Spinoza’s chart for December 4th. .
Conduits for the second ray in Spinoza’s astrological chart are several.
Firstly, if Gemini is the Ascendant (as can be reasonably hypothesized),
then the second ray is strongly represented. Further, if we speak of monadic
influence with respect to the second ray, the point opposite the Sun (considered
by the author as the “monadic point”) would be found in second ray Gemini,
and would therefore be an important point of entry for second ray energies
related to the monad. This does not mean however, that all monadically
sensitive individuals with a Sagittarius Sun (and thus a monadic point
in second ray Gemini) would necessarily have a second ray monad, just
as the ray or rays distributed by the soul-oriented Ascendant do not necessarily
reveal the ray of the soul.
Anther conduit for the second ray is the Moon in second ray/sixth ray
Virgo. The Moon is the esoteric ruler of Virgo and veils either Vulcan
or Neptune. Spinoza’s pervasive, gently unitive (rather than ardent) mysticism
makes the veil of Neptune more likely, though for a highly advanced and
mental individual, Uranus must always be considered in relation to the
veiling Moon. In Spinoza’s chart, Uranus, as it happens, is in Virgo relatively
close to the Moon, with the Part of Fortune at the midpoint between the
Still another second ray conduit is second ray Jupiter found in the second
sign, Taurus. Jupiter, as the orthodox ruler of the Sagittarius Sun sign,
is a powerful planet. Placed in Taurus, it emphasizes the Wisdom rather
than the Love aspect of the second ray.. Jupiter is also closely parallel
to one of the alternative Ascendants—the Equatorial Ascendant. As well,
Jupiter is found in the twelfth house, a mansion in which it is accidentally
dignified and friendly to the expression of the second ray, for the sign
most correlated with the twelfth house is Pisces, which distributes the
second ray as well s the sixth.
Spinoza’s soul ray (a subray of the monadic ray) was very probably the
third, which inclined him him, initially, to identify so strongly
with the thought of René Descartes, to the point that Spinoza re-systematized
and presented in a more geometrical form Descartes’ Principia.
His connection with another great third ray soul, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Leibniz was also profound. By one’s deep affiliations on the physical
plane, the ray of the soul can be reasonably estimated. .
Spinoza was a rationalist and ‘deductivist’—approaches to thought
supported by the reasonable and reasoning third ray rather than the more
strictly empirical fifth ray, or the more intuitive second. Of course,
any thinker on any ray can use deductive, empirical/inductive or intuitive
means, but the preponderance of emphasis indicates the preponderant ray
Further, the emphasis upon necessity, conformity to law, and lack of free
will relates Spinoza to the Saturnian aspect of the third ray. Mercury
as well as Saturn distributes the third ray (Mercury, probably, in its
planetary personality nature), and Sagittarius (in which these two planets
are found conjuncted) is the third fire sign much associated with
the third aspect of the spiritual triad—the higher mind. Seen in this
way the Mercury/Saturn conjunction in Sagittarius represents a powerful
third ray focus (though it would also strengthen a concrete mind upon
the fifth ray).
Further, Spinoza’s historical emphasis in Biblical interpretation
and criticism links him to the historical third ray. He was a thoughtful
enemy of unwarranted credulity (so often found upon the sixth ray). His
freedom from both religious dogmatism and blind faith, however, were not
the effect of the third ray alone (which when combined with the sixth
can, indeed, be dogmatic), but were equally caused by the probable absence
of the sixth ray in his ray makeup (regardless of power of sixth ray Sagittarius),
and by the strong representation (on possibly three levels—monadic,
personal and astral) of the second ray of Love-Wisdom.
Spinoza placed a strong emphasis upon intelligibility. For him the doctrine
of free will (whether ascribed to Man or to God) rendered the world unintelligible.
He therefore repudiated the presumed freedom of a transcendent God and
with it, the free will of Man.. He, therefore, espoused a variety of exacting
determinism frequently found when the third ray conditions the thought
process. As well, he was dissatisfied with the informality of exposition
characteristic of his first two works. In his search for rational, deductive
rigor, he was responding to the thought-systematizing tendencies of the
third ray, supported by the fifth and seventh. This rigorous approach
is truly characteristic of the reasoning Saturn/Mercury conjunction. His
purpose was to present metaphysics deductively, that is, as a series
of theorems derived by necessary steps from self-evident premises expressed
in terms that are either self-explanatory or defined with unquestionable
correctness. In this approach we can surely see how much he blended the
third and fifth rays.
Third ray conduits in Spinoza’s astrological chart are found in relation
to the sometimes third ray sign, Capricorn (containing a conjunction of
Mars and Venus) and also through Gemini (the third sign), and through
Virgo (like Gemini ruled by sometimes third ray Mercury, and, itself,
identified with the third or matter aspect). As previously stated
the Saturn/Mercury conjunction in Sagittarius can also represent a third
ray center of focus.
The second ray seems the appropriate ray for the personality of this “gentle
philosopher”. He was mentally bold, but personally retiring and inoffensive.
Often he was employed as a teacher or tutor, frequently gathering through
his magnetism a study circle around him. His method was one of accommodation.
When, at his father’s death, his stepsister sought to claim the entire
inheritance, he entered a law suite (which he won), only to let her keep
nearly everything. This is characteristic of the kind, second ray personality,
and hardly consistent with the possibility of an Aries Ascendant.
Spinoza’s interest in optics and, in general, in the science of the day
relates him to the fifth ray—the “Ray of Science and Concrete Knowledge”.
It has already been noted that he embraced the value of empiricism (while
keeping it as a subset of third ray rationalism). Empiricism is also motivated
the fifth ray. Sagittarius conveys the fifth ray, and the Virgo Moon and
the Mercury/Saturn conjunction can reinforce its exacting, discriminating
tendencies. Fifth ray Venus is the esoteric ruler of the hypothesized
Gemini Ascendant, and is placed in Capricorn, a sign friendly to the power
of the discriminating mind. The Venus in Capricorn position must be noted
in relation to the possibility of the third initiation (which it rules).
That initiation is ruled by the fifth ray and Capricorn, Venus is, thus,
hierarchically placed, offering to those capable of fulfilling its potential,
the possibility of intense illumination. Spinoza was capable. His doctrine
of substantial monism was his own way of revealing unity—the task
of every disciple who aspires to the third degree or has achieved it.
On a more objective level, Spinoza’s method of thought is clear, lucid
and logical. Throughout his work, he explicitly or implicitly emphasizes
the value of definition (the province of the fifth ray), and is
at pains to define with precision so that his deductive method can be
maximally fruitful. As well, the practicalities of lens grinding and polishing
certainly must have demanded the fifth ray (plus the seventh) if the task
were to be successfully accomplished. He was, after all, an expert in
the craft. As well, his ongoing search for what he called “clear and distinct
ideas”, certainly suggests the presence of the fifth ray.
The seventh ray (entering especially through Capricorn) can be inferred
because of his apparent physical delicacy, his modesty, quietude, and
also his practical work with optics. The orderly and logical presentation
of his Ethics also suggests the ordering quality of the seventh
Turning more specifically to Spinoza’s astrology, we find his Sun, Mercury
and Saturn all in Sagittarius. In many ways, Sagittarius is the philosopher’s
sign, and also that of the seer. His interest in vision and optics
is, thus, partially related to this sign. Sagittarius is also related
to the quest for pure truth—especially when combined with the second and
third rays (the philosophical rays).For Spinoza, the wisdom that philosophy seeks is achieved when one perceives the universe
in its wholeness, through the “intellectual love of God,” which merges
the finite individual with the eternal unity and provides the mind with
the pure joy that is the final achievement of its search. How very much
this objective sounds like the purpose of occult philosophy. One can see
that the deeper purpose of the Great Quest is not only the knowing
but the merging—thus the importance of the second ray (distributed
by Jupiter—a ruler of Sagittarius).
The Virgo Moon contributed modesty, humility, practicality and precision
in matters of technique (for, it is said that he became an expert
lens grinder), and, in general, an ability to detach from the life of
the emotions (which he sought to understand, thus avoiding the
tyranny of desire). It also gave Spinoza the conviction that philosophy
was a personal and moral quest (Sagittarius), not only for wisdom in life,
but for the achievement of human perfection (Virgo).
The proposed Gemini Ascendant would be highly important, and a more probable
sign than combative, confrontive Aries. When faced with the censorious
attitude of the elders of the Synagogue, Spinoza did not seek to enflame
the situation with a head-on confrontation characteristic of Aries. Instead,
he sought to defend himself rationally, and in an accommodating manner.
Some six months before his excommunication, he even gave a substantial
monetary offering as a demonstration of his loyalty to the faith. His
troubles had begun because of his unorthodox thinking, teaching, reasoning—and
conversation. He simply found the orthodox approach to religious thought
unreasonable and unintelligible, and said so, especially in conversations
(Gemini) with other students. His practical fifth ray mind saw no reason
to believe in angels, in the immortality of the soul, or that God had
no body. His rebellion was of the mind rather than of the personality;
the second ray personality is not given to the more drastic, physicalized
forms of rebellion.
Uranus, the planet of the new and better way, is implicated in his troubles
with the Jewish religious authorities.. His mind was rigorous and orthodox
enough (but only in relation to the definitions he formulated and to his
strict manner of reasoning from principles which he considered self-evident)
Rebellious Uranus, however, stands in quintile to his Sagittarian Sun,
and square to his Venus/Mars conjunction in Capricorn. The quintile promotes
originality of thought and demands a mentally creative solution to problems.
Uranus never promotes acceptance of tradition—even though, in terms of
devising a technique to arrive at truth, his mind could be considered
conservative (Saturn conjunct Mercury). Venus, as a planet of harmony
and correct social relations, would be disrupted by the Uranus square,
and the square between Uranus and Mars would lead to all sorts of unintended
(accidental), unmanageable consequences.
HPB thinks of Spinoza as an intuitive philosopher. Surely his first principles
were derived intuitively. What he did with them was ultra-rationalistic.
We see Gemini as a sign promotive of his intuitive process, and Sagittarius,
in which his Sun, Mercury and Saturn are placed is also an intuitive sign.
Because the esoteric ruler of Gemini, Venus, is placed in rigorous Capricorn,
there is a blend of intuition and intense mental illumination—a stage
of mental perception characteristic of the third initiation. This configuration
of the Gemini Ascendant and its ruler gives him, via the philosophical
antahkarana, direct access to buddhi-manas. It is important to realize
that Spinoza was impersonal in his thought, and that he was, therefore
in certain ways, bypassing the causal body, which, for all its beauty
and quality, represents the sublimation of personally harvested quality.
Esoterically speaking, Spinoza had an actively employed antahkarana, however
rigorously rational he sought to be once the accessed ideas entered the
lower mental vehicle qualified by the fifth ray.
The Mars/Venus conjunction in Capricorn tells us something about a possible
sublimation of the sexual instinct (a useful exercise in the achievement
of the soul-illumined mind). Very little is known about Spinoza’s relationship
life, except for some information about his important friends, professional
associations, and the family with which he stayed on very good terms during
the years before his death. Mars and Venus together can represent
a strong sexuality, or the reverse. In Spinoza’s case there is good reason
to argue the reverse, pointing to the Moon in chaste Virgo, transmutative
Uranus exactly sextile the Juno position in Scorpio, and suppressive Saturn
only three degrees away from Juno. Both Venus and Mars are powerful in
Capricorn—Venus, hierarchically, and Mars because it is the exalted planet.
But Venus (already the esoteric ruler of the hypothesized Gemini Ascendant)
is really a planet of greater spiritual strength than Mars, and in this
case could be thought of as subduing the passional nature of Mars,
and absorbing such energies for the sake of illumined soul culture. Ultimately,
Venus in Capricorn represents the “light supernal” found upon the mountain
top of initiation. One can see Spinoza’s ‘mental passion’ (Mars in Capricorn)
bending every effort to reach the sublime light. This conjunction, therefore,
can represent the power of the soul (Venus) over the personality (Mars),
and the conquest of passion (Mars) by dispassion (Venus). One has the
sense that Spinoza knew what it was to negate the “ancient authority”
of the personality, and thus pass into the greater Light.
Spinoza’s most important work was his Ethics. Sagittarius conduces
to reasoning about ethical matters, and the second decanate of the Gemini
Ascendant, ruled by Libra, presents issues of right human relationship
for deliberation. As well, the Sun is found very near the seventh house
cusp where deep questions concerning the structure and patterns of human
society are to be solved. Further, the Moon is Virgo, gives the tendency
to find the flaw and offer critique in the effort to heal. The asteroid
of commitment, Vesta, is found in the Libra, the sign of justice, fair
play and right human relations, augmenting Spinoza’s interest in ethical
considerations and his hope for solutions to humanity’s social problems.
By nature, Spinoza was an optimist (Sun in Sagittarius), though strangely
he did not believe in freewill. He believed that humanity could be released
from its passions through the power
of understanding. Was he imagining that the majority of human beings could
achieve what he had? If so, perhaps he was overly optimistic, for few
stood at his level, depth and breadth of perception.
The conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto in Taurus (both conjuncted to the
Equatorial Ascendant) is significant for several reasons. First of all,
it creates because of its spatial contrast with the remaining planets,
a “seesaw” pattern—indicative of alternation and the need for balancing
and harmonizing opposing forces. This conjunctive blending of the planets
Jupiter and Pluto (one upon the second ray and the other upon the first)
focused in the karmic and summarizing twelfth house where resolution and
synthesis are to be sought, accounts for an important dynamic in Spinoza’s
life. He was, in his thought, at once constructive (Jupiter) and destructive
(Pluto). Jupiter in Taurus can be related to his philosophy of one, all-embracing
(Jupiter) substance (Taurus). Pluto relates to his philosophical need
to eliminate both a transcendent God and human free will and to see all
action as the necessity (Saturn) and the compulsion (Pluto) of
law (Saturn). Pluto further represents the banishment of many personally
comforting religious and theological thoughts to the realm of illusion.
These two planets are, therefore, closely related to his substantial
monistic pantheism. God is all (Jupiter) of Nature (Taurus).
There is but one all-inclusive (Jupiter) substance (Taurus). This one
substance annihilates (Pluto) all distinctions. Pluto is the esoteric
and hierarchical ruler of this twelfth house, and represents the destructive
power which reduces all things to one thing.
Pantheistic, anti-Deist ideas were considered heretical and dangerous.
Spinoza did not and could not directly challenge the prevailing repressive
and unphilosophical religious opinion which surrounded him. Jupiter represents
the power to publish, and it is in the twelfth house where expression
is suppressed and inhibited. Pluto strengthened the inhibition upon publication.
Pluto, in this case, represents the dire penalty which would have been
exacted had Spinoza published his thoughts directly and under his own
name. Together these two planets can be interpreted as ‘surreptitious
(Pluto) publication (Jupiter)’ (which was the method he chose in order
to bring his writings into at least some sort of circulation—mostly among
his friends and sympathizers).
So we see Spinoza’s Pantheism anchored in his Jupiter/Pluto conjunction
in the twelfth house, and Neptune at the Vertex. His rationalism and determinism
were working through his Saturn/Mercury conjunction. His elevation of
thought over passion is indicated by the Venus/Mars conjunction in sober,
purposeful Capricorn and also Saturn at the midpoint between Mercury and
Juno. His rebellion against conventional perspectives entered through
his Uranus quintile to his Sagittarius Sun and the Uranus square to Venus
and Mars. The mastery of his precise craft (lens grinding) was facilitated
by his Virgo Moon and, again, by the Saturn/Mercury conjunction. His intuition
was promoted by his Gemini Ascendant with its esoteric ruler, Venus, in
Capricorn, the sign of supernal light. Ceres, the asteroid of nurturance
is found in the seventh house (of the social contract) within two degrees
of the cusp, and indicates his care and concern for the improving the
quality of human interaction. The Ascendant and Sun are opposed to each
other (and contraparallel) indicating his broad, objective perspective,
and his attempt to apply an ethical solution of the conflict between self
For all his rationalism and lofty impersonal thought, Spinoza must have
been very aware of the power of opposing, irrational forces. His Mars
is conjunct the “evil” star Facies, which relates to ruthlessness and
aggression, to being the perpetrator or victim of violence. The negative
potentials did not work out in physical violence in Spinoza’s life, but
he must have been acutely aware of the horrific potentials lurking in
the “beast”, the sumtotal of aroused and poorly comprehended instinctual
nature. Indeed, his excommunication from the Jewish Faith was the result
of psychological violence directed against him; the “archer” of
religious bigotry had taken aim at his freedom of thought. Perhaps the
potency of Venus, so close to Mars by conjunction, served to transmute
and elevate this difficult energy, so that, at least he was the victim
rather than the perpetrator.
Another difficult star was influential in his nature. Jupiter is also
conjunct Capulus, which signifies male sexual energy, aggression and libido.
Again, however, a “benefic” planet (Jupiter) is involved with the difficult
star, offering the Jupiterian possibility of elevation through understanding.
The presence of negative and materially-tending energies gives no indication
about how an individual will handle them. So much depends upon the level
of evolution; Spinoza’s was high.
The closest of these star aspects is a parallel between Alcyone (the “Star
of Individuality”) and the Ascendant. Perhaps this connection to Alcyone
connected Spinoza to a deep appreciation for the true nature of substance—for
the Pleiades are fundamentally connected with the substantial/material
nature of reality. There is an important triangle between the Pleiades,
Gemini and Sagittarius, expressed through Mercury (found in Sagittarius).This
triangle emphasizes the importance of matter and intelligence. is reminded
of a revelatory jest by the Master K.H., when He stated, ironically, “Don’t
you realize we are materialists?” His knowledge of the equivalence of
spirit and matter lay behind this statement.
Perhaps a few quotations from Spinoza himself, will more vividly illustrate
the nature and quality of his thought:
“Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived”.
(Ethics, Book I, Proposition XV)
is a pantheistic statement, and overcomes the split between God and His
“God is the efficient cause not only of the existence of things, but also
of their essence.
Corollary. Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes
of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed
and definite manner”.(Ethics, Book I, Proposition XXV)
We could well be dealing with Gnostic Emanationist Theory. This position
is very like the one taken in Eastern Esotericism. The complete identification
between God and ‘things’ is hereby enunciated. The fusion of the second
and third rays is evident. The One and the Many are united; this union
can be appreciated under the Sagittarius (the One) and Gemini (the Many)
“He, who has a true idea, simultaneously knows that he has a true idea,
and cannot doubt of the truth of the thing perceived”. (Ethics, Book
II, Proposition XLIII)
Here we touch the planet of pure reason, the buddhi plane, and come face
to face with the “straight knowledge”, the unmediated knowledge of the
intuition. Mind in the usual sense has been transcended. Reasoning has
turned to pure reason. It is clear that Spinoza knew the joys of triadal
“As men’s habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one
form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another
to scoff, I conclude ... that everyone should be free to choose for himself
the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by
its fruits”. (A Theologico-Political Treatise)
Here is a statement advocating complete toleration of all religious views.
It arises particularly from the sign Gemini, which understands the relativity
of all things, and from Sagittarius which honors the religious impulse..
“Anyone who seeks for the true causes of miracles, and strives to understand
natural phenomena as an intelligent being, and not to gaze at them like
a fool, is set down and denounced as an impious heretic by those, whom
the masses adore as the interpreters of nature and the gods. Such persons
know that, with the removal of ignorance, the wonder which forms their
only available means for proving and preserving their authority would
vanish also” (Ethics, Book I, Appendix).
Here is rationalism at its clearest, and an example of the clear-seeing
analysis of Saturn Mercury, supported by the luminosity of Venus in Capricorn.
Spinoza is speaking from a chapter of his own history, when he was excommunicated
from the Jewish faith for thinking (and discussing) his metaphysical ideas
freely. This occurred as expulsive Pluto transited his Ascendant.
himself probably would not have seen much validity in astrology. He was
part of the Enlightenment, which sought to do away with superstitious
ideas which clouded the mind. Perhaps, if he had accepted astrology (as
Newton did), he would have found in it only a method for justifying the
inescapable determinism which was so much a part of his mechanistic world
When we consider Benedict Spinoza, we find ourselves in the presence of
a profound, careful and original thinker—a lover of wisdom (philosopher)
with deep spiritual intuitions and a mind insistent upon presenting these
intuitions to the world of human thought in the most rational and reasonable
way possible. History has demonstrated the enmity of the unconscious forces
to such enlightened systems. In light of the events of the twentieth
century, Spinoza could be considered a naïve optimist. Nature is not “rational”
(apparently); Man is unmanageable; human progress is not assured and chaos,
it seems, is built into Creation. Yet we suspect Spinoza was privy to
certain perceptions which can be gathered only when focussed within the
realm of the spiritual triad, and which are eternally true upon
that level. Somehow, he found “God” there, and sought to convey that vision
of unity to those who were capable of thinking about it .
”In unison let the group perceive the Triad shining forth, dimming the
light of the soul and blotting out the light of form. The Macrocosmic
Whole is all there is. Let the group perceive that whole and then no longer
use the thought, ‘my soul and thine’.” (Rule V for Disciples and Initiates,