Introduction to Esoteric Astrology
the Seven Rays
(From Soul Cycles of the Seven Rays,by Phillip Lindsay © 2005)
Humanity is entering a 2,160 year cycle called the Age of Aquarius, where astrology will gradually evolve toward that which is known as Esoteric Astrology. Esoteric Astrology looks towards causes rather than effects, to the life of the human soul that lies behind the outer form, the body.
is that imperishable, perpetual existence that takes repeated cyclic
embodiments - in male or female bodies and in varying cultures; part
of its purpose is to expand consciousness, and to work out karma.
Esoteric Astrology gives a larger perspective of life; that we are not just inhabiting a little planet on its own in the solar system, but participating as an energy centre within a greater solar life.
The Seven Rays are the “missing link” in astrology, and the planets are simply ‘vehicles’ for these energies, transmitting them to Earth via the zodiac, whose signs have specific resonances with the rays.
The rays can be studied by themselves and constitute what is known as Esoteric Psychology. One of the greatest psychologists of last century, Roberto Assagioli, developed his Psychosynthesis techniques from the Seven Rays.
The source for this new information came from Alice A. Bailey, who acted as an amanuensis between 1919 and 1949 for the Tibetan Master Djwhal Khul, or D.K., one of the Masters of Wisdom.
The series of 24 books were written mainly for the many souls who would be incarnate in the West around the turn of the century. The teachings therein are profound, multi-levelled, and timeless, synthesising Eastern and Western traditions.
Before discussing some techniques of Esoteric Astrology, take a look at some tabulations of the Seven Rays, noting all the qualities that apply to yourself, trying to be as honest as possible! By spending a little time doing this you may start to isolate some ray expressions in your make-up.
There needs to be a process of discrimination as to what ‘body’ is expressing which ray. For example, you may have Ray 7 for the physical, Ray 6 for the astral, or Ray 4 for the mental. You could be a Ray 2 soul with a Ray 3 personality, so these five Rays would constitute your ‘Ray Structure’.
This information does not come instantaneously, nor can be derived from your horoscope, but will emerge after patient pondering, meditation and reflection.
This may take a while, and one method is to ‘try a ray on’ for a month or so, observing yourself and others in your environment.
The rays are
also dual in expression,
Identifying rays through Occupations
The Seven Rays correspond to many ‘septenaries’, which provide the basic building blocks of occultism. Planets ‘rule’ rays, similar to astrological rulerships, hence the interface between rays, planets & zodiac signs. Remember though, do not make the mistake of trying to ascertain the rays from the horoscope; determining the rays, then interpreting the horoscope in light of the rays, is ideally the correct procedure.
The above chakra assignations vary according to one’s stage of evolution.
All life is conditioned by the Seven Rays, whether it be an animal, a tree, a human, an organisation, a city or nation. The rays have their own cycle periods which connect with the greater astrological ages of 2,160 years, the Great Year of 25,920 years, and the Yugas, or secret cycles of the Hindu adepts.
A major cycle of Ray 6 has just finished in the Piscean Age, and a Ray 7 cycle is starting, which overlaps into the Aquarian Age.
These rays and Ages have their sympathetic resonances of course, ensuring maximum effect upon humanity.
Esoteric Astrology has been called the ‘science of all sciences’ because it is a system of relating every living entity - a planet, ray, sign or human being. It describes the qualities and energies of these living beings thereby allowing comprehension, and also understanding of how they interact with each other.
Therefore it is truly the Science of Relationships - human, planetary, zodiacal and stellar.
When the word
‘science’ is used, bear in mind that it refers not to concrete analysis
that employs the tangible senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
‘Science’ comes from the root ‘scire’ - to know or discern - it is really
the knowledge of the ‘higher self’, soul or abstract mind, which perceives
the whole synthetically, intuitively and inclusively; hence the term Occult
means: “understood by, or meant for a select few…the initiated”. (Macquarie
Dictionary.) This is not to be misunderstood as any kind of elitism.
What was esoteric becomes mainstream eventually, yet there will always
be a core that remains esoteric, waiting to be unveiled by the generations
of enquirers on the spiritual path.
The similar word ‘occult’ means “hidden ... beyond the bounds of ordinary knowledge” or, “of a nature not understood, as physical qualities”. In itself, ‘occult’ does not have the negative implication which mainstream media has promoted.
Those who have done the necessary work, have undergone various disciplines (such as meditation) and have developed these ‘subtle’ senses, are ready to receive esoteric knowledge. The unprepared would have no foundation within which to ‘ground’ it, though many are capable of developing these faculties.
The zodiacal signs are another ‘occult’ factor, i.e. they are ‘unseen’, yet act as a channel through which the archetypes of the zodiacal constellations focus. That the two types of zodiac do not align, as argued by astrologers of the tropical and sidereal schools, or astronomical sceptics, is secondary to the primary fact that the potent ‘thoughtforms’ of the signs exist and act as gateways for the rays and planets.
Astrology is based upon illusion in the sense that the zodiac is built around the ‘ecliptic’, the apparent path of the Sun around the Earth. Of course we know that the Earth’s path or orbit is around the Sun, so we work within this paradox, in the knowledge that eventually humanity will transcend this illusion. This is the source of one of our greatest mysteries, and we are told that the situation will be ‘rectified’ in the Age of Capricorn, following the Age of Aquarius.
Demystifying Astrology Through Occult Knowledge
Astrologers and the lay public know in their hearts that astrology “works”, accurately describing their psychology and patterns in their lives. But ‘how’ does it work?
Most people cannot answer the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this big question, preferring to ‘jump into the juice’ – that which yields the deep psychological insights in self-understanding, and plan their lives according to the planetary cycles they are experiencing.
Therefore the reasoning processes have not been fully utilised in arriving at a true under-standing and hence astrology is experienced more from a mystical viewpoint, which relies mainly on intuition reflected in the feeling nature. This is partly why astrology gets so much criticism from the more concrete-minded scientific community and public at large, because there is no demonstration of ‘science’ or mental reasoning.
The path of Mysticism eventually leads to the path of Occultism, where qualities of heart and head are synthesised. Occultism is a wholistic science, and therefore has the potential to bridge to the concrete sciences. A synthesis of the mystical and occult paths lead to a blending of love and reason. However, there are many facets to occult science, all of which have to be learnt to understand the whole.
In answering the question of how astrology works, it is necessary to depart briefly into the larger cosmos from where these forces emanate. It will also be necessary to introduce a few simple concepts with which the reader may be unfamiliar:
1. The solar system is a living being, as are all the individual lives which inhabit it, whether they be planets, asteroids, comets, human beings or any kingdom in nature. In some ways all these ‘lesser lives’ can be seen as ‘cells’ within the greater body. The main point here is that all these forms are inhabited by some kind of intelligence, from the very primitive mineral consciousness, to a human soul, to the “god” which inhabits a planet or a sun.
Just as humans have subtle energy centres or chakras, the so-called “seven sacred planets” in this solar system fulfill the same function. On a larger scale again, this solar system as a whole can be seen as one gigantic chakra or energy centre, inhabited by a stupendous consciousness that we may vaguely call “god”, or esoterically, the “Solar Logos”.
The Ancient Wisdom tells us that our sun is part of a corporate body of six other suns - which constitute a massive cosmic entity that undergoes an evolution upon its own level, and so on.
2. These seven suns, of which ours is one, are continually giving off forces which are the product of their ongoing evolution. It is said that these forces are absorbed through the seven stars of the Great Bear constellation (Ursa Major) and their emanations are called the Seven Rays.
Suffice to say, the seven stars of Ursa Major have much history and mythology in human consciousness, and in India are known as the Seven Rishis, associated with the Will and in a simple generic way, are “masculine”. The ray forces emanating from these stars unite, we are told, with the seven stars of the Pleaides constellation, the so-called “Seven Sisters”, also rich in legend, and constituting forces which represent the “Cosmic Mother”, or “feminine” principle.
Here we have a true “marriage made in heaven” as these forces merge. Father and Mother produce a “son”, represented by the star Sirius. Together these three constellations, The Great Bear, The Pleaides and Sirius consitute a major conditioning triangle of forces influencing this solar system.
3. From these three constellations the seven ray energies stream through the seven stars of the Little Bear (Ursa Minor), and are then magnetized to one or other of the twelve zodiacal constellations, not to be confused with zodiacal signs. Certain rays transmit through particular constellations with which they have an affinity, and modified, stream toward our solar system.
4. Our sun acts as a “gate” for the seven ray energies to pour through, and from here the seven forces are drawn toward the “seven sacred planets” of our solar system, which act as “vehicles” for the ray energies. The rays have an affinity with each of the seven planets, which are of course, proto-types of the Seven Rishis of the Great Bear. As above, so below. There are five “non-sacred” planets which also have an affinity for the rays and assist in transmitting them.
5. The planets continually orbit our sun, creating a vast sea of magnetic forces, and transmit these energies to earth through its zodiac signs. Of course we know from ‘exoteric science’ that the Sun and Moon both have physical, emotional and mental effects; these are well documented in our earthly tides, full moon cycles, in sunspot activity, and the growth that occurs in nature - validated by many scientific experiments and discoveries. The other planets have less physical, but more psychological and psychic effects.
6. The planets transmit the ray energies through the zodiac; the zodiacal sign is another electromagnetic pattern or “thoughtform”. The understanding of what consitutes a thoughtform, something that all humans can create, is essential in the comprehension of why zodiacal energies condition human beings, but is beyond the scope of this discussion.
zodiac of “signs”, is an invisible reflection and focaliser of the energies
from the visible constellational zodiac earlier mentioned. The zodiac
can be considered as a ‘subtle’ body of the Earth, the ‘astral’ body,
(astral meaning ‘starry substance’). Hence there are intangible, unseen
energies that we are perceiving with our developing ‘intangible’ senses.
8. When they reach a human being, the point of least resistance is found in certain chakras, depending on the unfolded state of awareness of an individual. The seven endocrine glands are associated specifically with each of the seven major chakras, and this is where one of the most mysterious processes takes place – the transformation of subtle forces outside of the body into tangible forces within the body.
The endocrine glands are stimulated into activity, releasing hormones into the bloodstream, which act as catalysts for physiological growth and psychological behaviour. This is a key as to how astrological energies affect human beings.
This completes a short description of the movement of conditioning energy from its emanataing source, stepped down as planetary forces at its final destination in a human being.
To recap the journey:
Seven solar systems of which ours is one.
Seven Rays emanate from the Seven Stars of the Great Bear constellation.
Seven Stars of the Pleaides.
Seven Stars of the Little Bear constellation.
Twelve zodiacal constellations.
Seven Sacred Planets of our solar system.
Twelve zodiacal signs.
Chakras of the Earth.
Animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms.
The following diagram describes the journey of just one ray:
also on some concepts that may be new to the reader:
3. All forms have energy centres or chakras, and “subtle bodies”.
4. Thought is the great creative force of the universe, whether it is the human soul as divine thinker, or the machinations of the mind of God.
5. There is a constellational zodiac which is visible to the eye, and a sign zodiac which is not visible, although we may trace the latter’s existence against the backdrop of the constellational zodiac.
6. The chakra and endocrine system constitute the major interface between subtle unseen forces and human psychological behaviour.
The rays can also be perceived through colour or sound. The seven colours and sounds of the rays provide a more intuitive approach to understanding. For instance, Ray 7 corresponds to the note of G and the colour violet, depending upon which octaves are being used. Sound and colour are also measurable in terms of their vibratory capacity, and this is well documented.
Certain notes and colours to which a person consistently responds, may indicate the ray associated with it to be prominent in an individual’s ray structure. Some colours may be the mixture of two colours and may indicate the interaction between the soul ray and the personality ray. For instance, a Ray 2 soul (indigo blue) and a Ray 1 personality (red) yield when combined the colour purple or violet. Of course this latter colour is also associated with Ray 7 too, so there can be much to work out.
Generally speaking, the kind of person attracted to the music of Mozart may be more along the Ray 2 line of Love-Wisdom, whereas Wagner may be more attractive to those on the Ray 1 line of Will-Power.
In a dualistic world, the unresolved opposites within are a prime reason for reincarnating. The ‘pairs of opposites’ exist on all planes, but particularly on the emotional or astral plane for most of humanity.
Whenever we appropriate more soul illumination to ourselves, it usually sheds light on the shadowy opposites within, forcing a transformation of the past to measure up to the higher vibration of that which is contacted in the present.
Great conflict is generated between the light of the soul and the unredeemed aspects of ourselves. One of the main causes for the unprecedented turmoil this century has been due to much of humanity facing its ‘shadow’ collectively, so that many are now poised to take initiation, or a great expansion of consciousness.
The successful outcome of this great event will trigger some major revelations - of the reality of the soul, the truth about death, and the existence of the angelic kingdom.
Planetary turmoil is also due to the astronomical factor of precesssion, as the cusp of the ages moves from Pisces into Aquarius, as well as the coincidnce of many ray and planetary cycles within a short period of time.
There are many advanced souls coming into incarnation at this time on the new Ray 7 cycle, waxing stronger by the decade. Ray 7 of Ceremonial Magic or Order will condition the next 2,160 year cycle of Aquarius.
souls will not respond that well to an ‘exoteric’ astrology reading.
Some astrologers make the mistake of bringing a certain fatalism into
their readings by stating that this is thus and so, therefore that is
how it is going to be.
As exoteric (psychological/humanistic) astrology students or practitioners, we have a certain responsibility to recognise these higher octave energies, so that we may render true service to our fellow humanity.
Let us examine some of the differences between the two types of Astrology. Bear in mind that some keyword themes are handled very well in personality astrology, yet esoteric astrology may interpret some of them within a different context or perspective:
Personality Astrology (‘exoteric’, outer, external.)
Important for helping achieve an integrated and unified personality. Exoteric planetary rulers, houses, Sun sign.
Deals with: Effects, events, physical manifestation, personality, parts, desire, lower chakras, the particular, the separate self, exclusivity, individual ‘fate’, the tangible, concrete, rational, masculine.
Just as the Sun is the centre for the planets in the solar system, in a horoscope it is the integrating force of personality expression. The Sun is the personality channel for the Rising sign. When a certain amount of personality integration has been achieved, then the soul can express itself far more easily through its ‘instrument’. The Sun’s placement in a chart is dependant upon the particular Rising Sign.
Esoteric Astrology (‘esoteric’, inner, subjective.)
Helps to show how soul contact can be achieved and creatively channelled, to harmonise the rays of the soul and personality.
Esoteric planetary rulers, Science of the Three Crosses, Rising sign.
Deals with: Causes, the Soul, inclusivity, inner realisation, wholes, love, higher chakras, individual destiny within the greater group, the intangible, abstract, intuition, feminine.
Develops fusion of knowledge and intuition, and the integration of mind and heart.
Looks at the purpose of the higher self as it interacts with its soul group.
Emphasises the oneness and inter-connectedness of all life.
Rising Sign: Far more emphasis. This angle of the chart is determined by the exact time of birth (first breath), and represents the incarnation of the soul. The eternal Soul comes before the personality, therefore the Rising Sign comes first.
In the symbolism of the Rising Sign lies a clue to the life problem and life achievement. With the esoteric planets ruling, the Rising Sign conveys one’s destiny.
The Rising Sign represents the highest quality that a soul can potentially unfold in any lifetime; a chart can be delineated by looking at its personality and soul rulers, the signs and houses they occupy and the aspects they make.
Obviously, if the Rising Sign is the highest quality to be unfolded, then the higher octave or soul ruler would be a most important consideration.
The Rising Sign will express personality characteristics; there is generally far more behind the mask which is capable of expression, although it is never fully accessed. The point of least resistance is the Sun sign.
When a spiritual seeker (‘aspirant’ or ‘disciple’) has reached a certain stage of unfoldment, the personality rulers have less effect, and there is more of a response to the soul rulers; these are the same planets, but expressing a higher octave. Therefore Esoteric Astrology can describe the growing soul radiation through the influences of the esoteric rulers.
For many years yet, Exoteric and Esoteric Astrology will walk hand in hand, until the bridge or ‘antahkarana’ is built to this new scientific art.
The deeper realisation of the connectedness of all life dawns with deeper understanding of the reality of the etheric constitution of the planet; that great life matrix or web within which all life exists.
Understanding the etheric and subtler planes is one of the subjects of the Occult Sciences essential to Esoteric Astrology. Other important subjects are: Karma and Reincarnation, Meditation, Thoughtforms, Telepathy, Angelic or Deva Kingdom, Esoteric Healing, Chakras, Death, Masters of Wisdom, Occult History of the Earth, Glamour/Maya/Illusion, Dreams, Sound and Colour, and much more.
Some Additional Considerations in Esoteric Astrology
Also central to Esoteric Astrology is the concept of sacred and non-sacred planets. Non-sacred planets such as Mars, Pluto, Moon and Earth influence the physical, astral and mental bodies. The other planets, which are Sacred, help to integrate the personality and make it an instrument of the soul.
Understanding the sacred and non-sacred planets allows the astrologer to give more specific guidance.
Likewise, a whole new reconsideration of ‘exaltation, detriment and fall’, as indicating the “three phases of the Path” will help to revolutionise astrology.
A correct reappraisal of the decanates is another emerging technique. It is said that they will reveal the immediate life opportunity, exact nature of the next spiritual step forward and the precise nature of initiatory challenges.
A major theme to consider as an integral part of Esoteric Astrology is the Science of Initiation. From life to life we initiate activity, through awareness generated by unfolding realisations in consciousness.
we do ‘take’ a ritual initiation in our subjective state, it is really
only an acknowledgement of the work we have already done. Our sense of
responsibility has earned us the right to use energies that we may not
have been able to contact before.
These initiations relate to the coordination and control of our various bodies - physical, emotional and mental. For example, one of the most difficult initiations to take is that of the emotional body, of which Scorpio is the symbol.
At this initiation, Mars and Pluto put us through the ‘crucible’ experience, whilst the energies of Venus, Neptune and Jupiter are also very strong in expressing the Love principle, and so the emotions of the solar plexus chakra are successfully repolarised to the lotus of the heart, where they are expressed as love.
Emotional desire and attachment are simply a distorted reflection of the Love principle which esoterically governs this whole solar system in the present cycle.
This stage of growth is also known as the ‘mystical’ stage of awareness. Many on the Path today are taking or are poised to take this initiation. Relationships are one of the major ‘burning grounds’ wherein this transformation occurs; it has been called the Boddhisattva Path, such is the degree of sacrifice required.Likewise, many of humanity are poised to take the First Initiation, the birth of soul awareness firmly anchored in the cave of the heart.
Humanity can be seen as many units or ‘atoms’ of consciousness within the body of ‘God’. Our awareness of this great Being incarnate as Earth, and all the myriad life streams within, expands as we evolve and grow.
So, a very brief introduction to this vast subject cannot possibly cover all the facets of this great jewel. If this has whet your appetite, there is a lot more treasure waiting to be discovered!