Exaltation of the Sun in Aries

Monique Pommier © 1997

Van Gogh.olive-trees

 The notion of the exaltation of the sun in Aries brings up spontaneous images from the common fount of human experience. The most immediate one is that of the rising Sun, when the young solar king crosses the horizon to be enthroned by the day, all magnified under its many-hued crown. In contrast to the Sun of the day time (the Leo Sun) under which we work and live our lives, there is a unique glory to this ascending Sun which awakens the human consciousness to a new daily cycle and evokes the mystery and power of all beginnings. The rising Sun is “ex”-tracted from the night and lifted up (“-alted”) above the horizon. Man wakes “up” and consciousness is exalted — in that moment of dawn which spiritual traditions regard precisely as most propitious for meditation.

A similar quality of exaltation emanates from the “morning” of the year, when the Sun crosses the vernal point and the sleeping vegetable kingdom awakens in the Sun. A life which is, we feel, the very life of the Sun, “springs” through the pores of the earth and spreads its light-filled colors and warm fragrances. The Sun slowly “lifts” rays of life from within the earth, spelling itself out in the greening and flowering of the earth. The sun is exalted. Life is exalted.

If we extend the vision to a greater year, the 25,000 year cycle of the “vernal Sun”, i.e. the cycle of the very point of spring around the zodiac, two pictures emerge, both of which pertain to the Aries Age of this grand cycle (the period during which the Sun crossed the celestial equator, every spring, in the constellation of the Ram). The first one is of the Golden Fleece, the ram’s fleece that Jason set out to capture with the Argonauts. The second is of Moses, the ram-hero of the Hebrews, who arose from his burning bush experience as leader of his people and herald of their new cycle of individuation.

A new look at the “heroic” quest for the golden Fleece. The exalted self—king or usurper? 

Jason was the rightful heir to the throne of Iolkos in Thessaly, but his kingly inheritance was usurped, when he was born, by his uncle Pelias, and he was raised in secrecy by Cheiron. Now a young man, Jason journeyed back to Iolkos. On the way, he lost one of his sandals and when Pelias saw him walk into the city, he remembered the prediction of an earlier oracle that said he would be overthrown by a young man with a single sandal. While pretending to acknowledge him as the rightful ruler, he quickly sent him to Colchis on a perilous mission—to retrieve the golden fleece, the fleece of a ram which had saved Jason’s ancestor.

The hero is not born a hero. He becomes a hero in the accomplishment of a heroic deed through which he comes to BE who he truly is. Heroism is an exaltation of the sun of self. The archetype of the ram behind both the mythological context of the fleece and the astrological Age of Jason’s story set up the stage for an archetypal story of a “sun/self” exalted in Aries.

The myth tells us that this divine ram, who had been killed and whose fleece hung on a tree, was a gift of Mercury. He flew in the air and had the power of speech. The association of the ram with Mercury echoes the esoteric rulership of the zodiacal Ram. Jason himself, the hero of the Ram adventure, was earlier named Diomede, or “divine thinking,” a name that points to the soul of the Arian quest for the golden fleece of selfhood—the coming to reign of the mind (Mercury-Diomede) over the instinctual fighting for dominance of the personality nature, the usurper (Mars-Pelias).

The Golden Fleece was in the custody of the king of Colchis, Aetes, himself interestingly a son of the SunGod Helios, which confirms the sun-soul symbolism of the fleece. It was in a sacred grove, guarded by a dragon. In the human psyche, the retrieval of the soul from the beasts of the waters or the dragons of the land is the heroism that opens access and “return” to the spirit-king. The sun of self is exalted in the heroism of becoming unto its true inheritance—the royalty of the Self, freed from the controlling powers of the lower nature.

Determined to conquer the throne of his father, Jason gathered boat and crew and set out to cross the treacherous waters between Greece and Colchis. Upon his arrival in Colchis, he learned the daunting tests he would have to face before he could lay his hand on the fleece. Moved by her nascent passion for Jason, Aetes’s daughter, Medea, offered her magic skills and her knowledge of the forces of nature. Armed with the special herbs she prepared, he burnt the raging bulls’ throats and turned the earth-born adversaries against each other. Later, Medea put the dragon to sleep. Jason killed it and stole the fleece.

Who is Medea? Some details given by Ovid take on a new significance in the context of the exaltation of the Sun in Aries. Before recounting how she literally metamorphoses an old ram into a young lamb, Ovid describes her coming out in the full moon and invoking the moon goddess Hecate to bring the aged king Aeson, Jason’s father, back to youth by rejuvenating his blood (d). She is the night consort of the Sun hero, the nocturnal light which tends the “rejuvenation” of the Sun and exalts its reemergence from the engulfment in the Dark. She is the energy that reverses the dimming of life in matter. Her assistance to Aeson’s body and Jason’s self (she paves the hero’s way from “man” to “king”) points symbolically to the role played by Mede (“intelligence, thinking”) in the resurging of spirit – as individuated self – from its involution in matter and psyche.

Her skills demonstrate the power of the human mind to master with “knowledge and magic” the forces of “nature,” so as to bring about the reign of the “true king.” Interestingly, however, Medea’s name does not include the divine “Dio” of Dio-mede—the inner, “earlier” (in other words, arche-typal) name of Jason. Although she is part of his true name – his true self – and offers a way, however incomplete, to the retrieval of his royal identity, it becomes clear, as the story unfolds, that her concrete knowledge and magical command of natural phenomena reflect Jason’s blindness to the numinous character of his task, the divine essence of his name and the true nature of his Kingly inheritance. Her instinctual, lunar methods mirror his lack of maturity.

Instead of being tamed by the emergence in the hero of soul strength and mindfulness – the inner version of the ram’s fleece – the dragon is put to sleep. In other words, the dragon is hypno-tized by a short-lived mesmerizing power rooted in desire and passion—for whatever each is motivated to “get”: fleece, kingdom, lover.

Medea typifies an instinctive, atavistic, collective knowing—not an individualized intuitive faculty. Her deep familiarity with nature and substances points to a lunar intelligence (she does invoke the powers of the Moon) skilled in manipulating forces and elements of nature to bring about immediate concrete results, but not to contribute in any lasting way to free the sun/Self (the hero) to his appointed “reign”—only to grant him fleeting power.

Fueled by personal desire and achieved by magical means, the operation is successful but not heroic. Rather than bear witness to the power of the soul-self to transcend the instinctual self, it describes an expedient intervention in the forces of nature. It does not engage the hero’s courage and core being nor does it proceed from the solar daylight of the human mind — it is Mede, not “dio”mede. Rather than a true conquest of Self (Mercury-the Ram) and a radical taming of the lower nature (Mars-the dragon), it speaks to the appropriation of Mercury by Mars, of the soul’s gold and glory by the personality, of the light of true intuition by the glimmer of instinctual intelligence. As could be expected, the substitution of the self-centered fires of astrality (Mars) for the pure givingness and high mindedness of solar fire (Mercury) backfires— it “turns fire back” on the self.

Jason’s return to Iolchos shows the downward course of the ego’s drive to power and sovereignty. The immature self who “steals” the fleece of soul radiance and claims its regality becomes but another usurper-king. Later developments in the story highlight the destructive gleam of Mars’ selfish passion at the core of the feat, as well as the toxicity of Mercury’s devious expediency.

Ovid relates how Jason abandoned Medea to court and marry the daughter of the king of Corinth. As a wedding present, Medea sent the bride a poisoned veil and diadem that burnt her to death. Clearly, the solar fleece has a consuming, destructive effect upon the personal self (S/sun) who has not “risen” yet (A/aries) from identification with the obscure instinctual nature. It burns those who grasp the gold instead of engaging, with mindfulness and courage of heart, in the operation of becoming gold—mastering personal dragons and transmuting their power into an indestructible fleece of Selfhood. The temporarily hypnotized nature roars and rushes back and the selfishly appropriated divine power backfires and destroys. The consuming poison speaks to the self-serving passion of the small self, the Mars-identified Aries, whose consciousness cannot “grasp,” literally, the true “gift of Mercury,” his soul ruler and true Name (Dio mede).

In the end, Jason plummeted steadily downhill and was finally killed by a blow on the head from a fallen timber broken from his own rotting ship.

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His robe of blue veils his eternal purpose, 

    but in the rising and the setting sun,

        his orb of red is seen.

The exaltation of the hero magnifies in Jason’s story the destructive effect of the “orb of red in the rising sun.” It illustrates the destructive aspect of the first ray energy whose “red” reveals itself behind the sun’s “blue” second ray nature when the sun is ex-alted—in the “rising of the day” or the aroused fire of a self.

Alice Bailey says the following in regard to the first ray: “Fierce are its rays, it burns all forms, yet touches not the life of God incarnate…” The scorching potential of the “orb of red” is what is exalted in the sun/self if the identification is with the impulsive and passionate fieriness of the personal, “form” nature. In contrast, the divine aspect of this red orb, “which touches not the life of God incarnate,” blazes forth gloriously from the second picture—of Moses’ encounter with the bush that “burnt, yet did not consume itself.”

The burning Bush—exaltation of the “I AM” principle and spiritual leadership.

In his book Moses, Emil Bock notes that the period of Ancient Egypt is the era when “the forces of the sign of the Ram begin to influence the Bull culture.” He points out the avenues of sculpted rams leading to the temple of Karnak, and the representations of the God Amon with the head and horns of a ram. He also shows how the figure of Moses carries the same symbolism, his forehead crowned with the two horns of a ram in Michelangelo’s sculpture, two streams of light radiating from his brow in Botticelli’s painting. As we shall see, the Biblical hero who leads his people out of Egypt is the prototypical Ram who becomes, “ahead” of his people, what Jason attempted to appropriate for himself.

Genesis recounts that, while keeping his flock in the wilderness, Moses went up to mount Horeb, and a divine Being whose identity he didn’t know spoke to him from a burning bush. A flaming thorn bush – a golden Fleece, as it were – stood in Moses’ way, and Moses asked the fiery being his name. “I am the I am,” the being replied. This visionary experience suggests the dawning in the soul of the great leader-to-be, hence in his collective, of the “I Am” principle of universal Selfhood—an archetypal event, indeed, at the vernal, Aries point of the great Platonic year.

Emil Bock explains that the “I Am” principle arose in the thinking activity that was to replace the natural clairvoyant perception of an earlier humanity: “The spirit sense-organ that was the last to be extinguished in man who was becoming a thinking conscious being, was an organ of light horns.” As the ajna center darkened and densified, thinking, and the individualized sense of self that thinking grants, began to arise behind humanity’s forehead: “On Moses’ noble brow, man’s royal thinking was born; he was the guide out of the dreamland of ancient vision into the wakeful land of thought…What mankind of later epochs owes to Moses is the power to unfold reason and intellect, to be able to think intellectually about the universe out of self-awareness in a fully awake state of mind…Thinking is transformed vision.”[2] Later Descartes would say, with more spiritual understanding than he is often credited for: “I think, therefore I am.” The exaltation of the sun in Aries, along with Mercury’s esoteric rulership of Aries, reflects how intrinsic to the unfolding of selfhood individual thinking is (Mercury).

If Moses sees the divine fire of life, the being-ness of nature, it is because this universal “I Am”-ness is becoming an individualized principle in him and the collective he represents. The solar womb is receding around the emergence in humanity of the inner sun of Self, the divine “aura” is giving way to a “golden” Egoity ascending from within, between inner horns of thinking. Moses’ experience of the burning fleece speaks to his inner journey. He is becoming a “shining one,” a fully individuated soul who “converses with God”—a true “Dio-mede”: “When Moses came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, he did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining and they were afraid to come near him.”

Thus at the Eastern point of humankind’s history  – the Aries point of the “Great Year” – a human Ram exalts the Sun in the shining countenance of his own rising self.

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“His robe of blue veils his eternal purpose, but in the rising and the setting sun, his orb of red is seen”….  Wrapped in a second ray robe of warmth and light, a first ray essence shines “fiercely” within the sun—a pure will to BE, a power to fire matters with life and animate all forms with vibrant self-awareness and presence of being.

The Sun conveys the second ray. Aries the first ray.

The rising sun reveals the red “initial” of the Sun principle, and the exalted radiance of the Ram-hero “rising” as a new power of individual identity in the consciousness of humankind reveals the “eternal purpose” of the self: to liberate, initiate, vitalize, generate.

Selfhood is a liberating force: the “I AM” principle (‘I AM has sent me to you’) reaches down through Moses to deliver [his] people from the misery of “Egypt,” in the way the higher self reaches into the Egypt of inner slaveries to extract spirit energy. The radiant, solar fire of selfhood is a vitalizing power (Moses), whereas the lunar fire of egotistic drives scorches and destroys (Jason/ Medea). With the individual mindedness of solar “selfhood” comes the power to initiate new conditions and create new worlds.

The initial of the One who holds the universe in his “blue robe” of all-embracing light and warmth (second ray) is an initial of fire and will (first ray). Aries exalts the vibrant, will-full power of selfhood—the fire of Being— dynamic and generative, or burning and blinding.

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The quest for the fleece of inner royalty, and the rise of spiritual selfhood in these two world heroes are mythic indicators of a special era, spanning the 2060 years of the zodiacal age of Aries, in which the sun of consciousness is exalted into the “object” of a heroic quest for spiritual identity. Unsurprisingly, this is the era when the many divinities worshipped in the forces of nature (the “gods”) are exalted–transcended into the intuition of One God, suggestive of an evolutionary step of integration into “self” of the various components, drives and functions of human nature. The presence and life that pervades the universe is perceived by the maturing human self as “One,” the “I AM”— Self. The monotheistic impulse heralded by Moses as well as the cult of a supreme solar deity, Aten, promoted by Akhenaton, whom historian Henry Breasted precisely referred to as “the first individual in history,” can be regarded in this light as direct manifestations of an astro-logical fact—the exaltation, under the Age long influence of the Ram, of selfhood.

The Age of Aries has its replica in the generic unfolding of a human life as well as in the soul journey of an individual born under significant Aries influence. The period of early childhood’s self-centered instinctuality and emergence of “I”-ness illustrates the former; the soul course of an Aries born person or the thirty-year cycle of a progressed sun in Aries would illustrate the latter.

In parallel to the “exalted” heroic consciousness of youth, such “Ages” bring about the emergence of the “spiritual leadership” inherent to the core of “selfhood”—leadership understood here as self-generated initiating will. From within man’s basic self-awareness (S), a power of independent thought and spiritual will seeks to emerge and reveal the exalted truth of selfhood: “I come forth, and from the plane of mind I rule” (A). This “red” Idea hidden within the sun of consciousness seizes the opportunity presented by periods of experience “ruled by Aries” to exalt the sense of self. Aries fosters such emergence by being a catalyst for a particular “heroism” in coming to be who one is (from sun to Sun), or by bringing personal impulses and drives (Mars), concrete intelligence or collective knowledge (the lunar Mercury represented by Medea) in the individuating light of reason and under the power of thinking—Mercury’s esoteric rulership.

The true heroism (Aries) of the exalted self (Sun)—meeting the dragon face to face. 

Bearing the new impulse behind his brow, Moses traverses the coils of the Egyptian “dragon” wrapped around the freedom of “his people.” Ten times he subdues Pharaoh under the spell of his serpent-staff, extending it over Egypt and conjuring up the plagues. Nine times, the dragon-Pharaoh appears subdued, only to roar back and tighten his grip on the fleece of freedom.

The magic of the “staff of God” is the pure magic of standing in spiritual Being. It supersedes and absorbs any secondary magic born of acquired knowledge and skills: “Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts. Each one threw down his staff, and they became snakes; but Aaron’s staff swallowed up theirs.”

Interestingly, the serpent-staff is the emblem of Mercury (Hermes’ caduceus is both serpent and staff)—the esoteric or soul ruler of the Ram. The hieratic gesture of Moses “stretching out his hand over Egypt” enhances the Mercury symbolism. The magic of Moses’ staff is the white magic of the soul. It does not stem from a learned manipulation of matter but from the power of the “divine” mind flowing through the hand and “finger” of an illumined self. Even the magicians recognized in Moses’ staff something greater than their “secret knowledge”—they saw in it “the finger of God.” The inner Mercury that the soul is – as true mediator of God – swallows its lesser octave of intelligent skillfulness; solar mind swallows concrete mind.

The nine gestures of Moses-Mercury mark the nine strokes of a process of liberation-birth of “I AM” /identity for the Israelites. For Pharaoh, they strike the forced delivery, through pain and blood, of reason (Mercury) out of blind self-will (Mars), and perhaps soul out of the contractions of the heart. Nine times, we read, “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was unwilling to let them go.” And although the biblical story turns its attention away from Pharaoh after the bloody night of the first Passover, one can wonder if the death of his first-born that night was not the tragic door to his own birth of soul.

The magic wielding of the “serpent-staff” signals a mastery of the serpent power (the lunar nature) and its integration into selfhood (into the staff of I-ness). Moses challenges with the mindful and inclusive stance of the initiate the archetypal dragon that Medea expediently put to sleep. Whereas Medea, like the Egyptian magicians set against Moses, wielded the magic of lunar Mercury and manipulated the serpent of matter – the elemental intelligence of nature – Moses wields the power of divine Mercury (the staff of erected snakes). He has mastered the power to take hold of the instinctual serpent within and transform it into a fiery stance of spiritual “I”ness. The electricity of the union of transcended opposites infuses him with the divine intercourse of God and dragon that lifts and straightens into power of self or serpent of wisdom the serpent of the “Fall” —the fall into the not-self. The taming of the dragon-serpent with the “mighty hand” of mindfulness – the staff of Mercury – is the key to the exaltation of the self.

The sign given to Moses by the biblical God as symbol of his initiate power contains the very method to overcome the controlling will of “Pharaoh” (the self-serving will of the personality, the usurper) and grasp the fleece of spiritual Being. In this symbol is shown the archetypal way through the dragon test—to master the serpent and turn it into a staff; to hold the forces of (one’s) nature in the cool light of wisdom and allow destructive impulses to become spiritual strength in its all inclusive eye and accepting hand. The secret of daily heroism and heightening of selfhood lies in such taking hold of the compulsive writhing of instinctual forces, emotional powers or slippery rationalizations, matching their force with comprehensive steadfastness of soul until they transmute and harden into a spine of fiery power—the scepter of the true king. Withstanding the serpent by standing with it is the way to truly conquer it —until the dragon/serpent is made “self,” and “self” stands as erected serpent power. The staff is the magical power of the mastered dragon, now lifted up to rule “…from the plane of mind.”

The way the Biblical Hero liberates his “people” from their captivity speaks to how the human being – the spiritual Hero behind all heroes – eventually sets himself free from the binding forces of personal instincts or drives (Mars) and enlists their transmuted energies into an exalted stage of selfhood (Sun).

Was there, one can wonder, a reflection of the “orb of red” associated with the “eternal purpose” of the Sun in the opening of the red sea across which Moses and his people rose to their new day of self-directed identity and spiritual adventure?

Easter sun-day and the resurrection of the human self.

The hero of the next Age of humanity, the Christ, concludes the Ram era and initiates the Piscean Age. From the true king-ship of a consciousness identified with the solar “I AM” principle (Mercury-Sun), he sacrifices himself as a golden fleece (the slain lamb) and, hung on a tree, uplifts-exalts humanity to a higher ground of selfhood based on love. He resurrects his body from death, showing the power of solar selfhood to fire matter with life energy, in contrast to the selfish fires that consume the body of Jason’s bride. He takes “his people” to a freer ground of identity.

The solar being who arises on Easter morning – East-er sun-day rising – is the divine Dio-Medea who rejuvenates the blood (Mars) of mankind with the living sap of the sun—the Egoic heart of selfhood on the higher mental plane. This “SunDeus” who has mastered and harnessed the dragon of “Hell” and death – the powers of nature – pervades the etheric fleece of the earth with golden rays of Sun and Self.

The Messiah-Logos-Mercury, the Word of the Beginning (Aries) and messenger of Life, initiates the reign of the real king of mankind He typifies—the soul, the one Self of humanity. His resurrection  exalts man’s true Self, the Ego or I AM principle who rules indeed “from the plane of mind” (Mercury-Uranus)— not from the plane of egocentric passion (Mars) and concrete mind (Mercury used to personal ends).

Mercury, the soul dispositor of the exalted self, is the source of the leadership that is the “divine inheritance” of man. Whether as Dio-Medea, serpent-Staff or Word-Logos, he is the intelligent power of selfhood that can lift the dragon of elemental and instinctual “nature” and turn it into a fruit bearing, creative tree of life—a spiritual, generative “I” —a scepter of true royalty.

The exalted sun points to the soulful self that shows up at the door of the inner city of the Mars-ruled personal self, and, ready to assert his divine right of sovereignty over the usurper, confronts and masters the dragon which holds in its grove the key to his full spiritual power.

The all too human sun of self who does his/her natural shining and exerts an instinctual gravitational power upon circum-stances (lit. all-that-stands-around one’s self), this sun of self-warming and self-love is exalted into a life-giving source and a “resurrecting” power when, setting his eye and ship on the Fleece of true kingship and Selfhood and shining his light upon the dragon, he walks into the grove and harnesses the power trapped in its dark; when he wrestles with the Pharaoh within— the blind attachments that keep him from his free solar nature.

The “conquest” of Egoic consciousness exemplified in the Aries-like figure of Moses-with-the-horns is brought to its fulfillment when the Ram/Lamb “slain since the beginning of the world” – the Ram epitomized in the Christ -  resurrects into “the livingness of life and the state of unalterable Being”; when the spirit involved and engulfed (“slain”) in matter and forms reemerges as individuated life in an Egoic self, whose gradual mastery of instinctual and personal identifications (usurping suns), turns into a creative power, the power of the “initiate” to sow life.

All forms of resurrection from inner slaveries, dragons and hells of consciousness exalt the self and serve the true purpose of the sun of selfhood—to win the day (A) by leading one’s “people” (one’s elemental and lunar lives) to freedom, to shine forth the daylight of Being, Mercury, and sow seeds of life (Uranus, Aries’ spiritual ruler).

Passover time, and more specifically Easter Sunday, is the yearly festival of the exaltation of the sun in Aries. In it converge the “sunrises” of our different cycles of time – year (spring), month (fullmoon), week (sunday) and day (morning). Set on the first sunday (or day of the Sun) following the first full moon of spring, it celebrates the yearly rising of the sun through the earth’s celestial equator, held in the fully illumined vessel of the moon and focalized in the weekly day of the sun. Of the day, it highlights the moment of dawn—the rising of the sun in the East.

The threefold threshold of time selected to celebrate the crossing over – “Passover” – of the SunGod exalts year after year the generative fire of life hidden in the radiance of the Sun, symbolically calling forth and exalting the “heroic” power latent in the daily life of selfhood—to pass Darkness over into Light; to lead enslaved parts of our selves into freedom; to engage unconscious forces with mindful will and so be charged with the fire of cosmic life. The heroic task of the ram is the crucial task of the bearers of dawn we are, as sons and daughters of the Sun.

From dignity to exaltation — perspectives on the sun of selfhood.

The universal “Self” is exalted as it “heads” (A) into matter and manifestation in a creative act of Being. The individual self is exalted in its emergence through matters transmuted, energies transformed and impulses transcended [3]. This great breath of Aries speaks to the first ray intention at work within the second ray nature of the Sun. It speaks to the creative, as well as beneficently destructive and regenerative essence of selfhood.

Until it becomes the instrument of the soul, the sun of self-awareness represents the basic “love of self” in the psyche (of which self-hate is but a psychological variant) —the translation in consciousness of the gravitation of the solar system around its center. The force of “attraction” exerted by this center, be it cosmic or psychological (sun or self) upon the world it holds together is an expression of the second ray energy. It illustrates on a lesser – personal – level the second Law of the soul — the law of Attraction.

This self-love that is the passive experience and expression of selfhood preserves and maintains the life of the psyche until the maturing personality feels prompted to claim its divine inheritance. Within this self-love which gradually extends itself to what “self” may include – family, environment, nation, kindred souls – the core life and purpose of the sun-self slowly ripens to reveal itself in what surges, “red-orbed”, from within the soul — generating life, initiating worlds, sowing ideas or eliciting spirit fire in others. “Behind the development of love [the second ray nature of the Sun], A. Bailey explains, lies the revelation of the will” [4]… “Love is an aspect of the will”.[5]

The following formulates succinctly the “orbs of red” we have seen appear from within the blue robe of the second ray Sun, when it is exalted in the sign of Aries — when self is engaged in the “heroic” conquest of Self:  “The three aspects of the divine will — the will-to-initiate… the will which brings fulfillment… the will which conquers death…— can be seen functioning through the second Ray.”[6]

If the Sun is at home in the shining noons of existence, if it finds its “dignity” in a reasonably bright reflection of itself in its environment (Leo), it is “exalted” when it surges in the red-orange morning of a new “day” of the self (A), when it reconquers a world from the dark of night or brings life to surge and spring anew from winter death, when it takes courageous steps into the grove of the Fleece— when it acts as an illumining, freeing, “resurrecting” power.

The sun speaks to the nuclear germinative power of what “surges from itself”— as life from a seed, or will from a self. New. Aries and Leo’s hierarchical ruler Uranus (said to be veiled by the Sun in the case of Leo) speak to this unequivocally.

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The red hue of the exalted Sun speaks to the life generating core of Egohood at work within self-awareness. It suggests that,

To be is to ceaselessly begin to be— to wake up to Being. It calls for a constant re-igniting of mindfulness and will.

The Self (S) is the eternal youth arising through the horizon of the Now (A).

In the eye of selfhood burns a will to ex-ist, to cast its Self into world-matters and in-form them with its mind; to lead un-conscious energies into the light of day through the clear fire of mindfulness; to free the creative spirit and will latent in the self-preserving, self-warming or self-enlightening activity of daily consciousness.

Daily consciousness veils in its inner orbs the heroic quest for the royal Self, the initiatory journey to the “seed” power within the heart (S), the heart within the head (A).

The sun of identity is exalted when its core of generative, renewing or individuating fire inspires the present moment of life—be this “moment” oneself or another person, a group or a nation, a situation or a period of history.

As the rising Sun spells out the visible world, the exalted self conceives and creates “worlds” in the will of his thinking and the magic of his words.

The Exaltation in a Chart

In an individual chart, the natal placement of the Sun in Aries greatly intensifies the sense of self and self-directedness, the drive to initiate and lead, the urge to dare the creative fire at the core of consciousness. The nature and impact of the fire engaged and released depends on the level of self the person is identified with.

The self-centered individual identified with his/her personal impulses, drives and goals will be an example of personality “exaltation.” Blindly egocentric and impulsive, s/he is ruled by the Martian aspect of Aries (its exoteric ruler)— from combativeness to courage, from fever to fervor, from aggressivity to competitiveness, from a “me-first” attitude to a one-pointed drive to pursue whatever seems desirable or conducive to expression of self and intensification of personal impact.

The individual well engaged in the process of soul infusion feels the urge to act on the creative ideas, seed-initiatives and projects dawning in his consciousness. The intuitive will of Mercury-infused Mars “clears” the space, while the Mercury-prompted Sun channels the pulse of the greater field of consciousness he seeks to identify with, and directs his actions (Mars) along his interpretation (Mercury) of this pulse. He shows the exalted nature of the self—that of a directing and inspiring intelligence engaged in the march of worlds, eager to take hold of his true inheritance as subject and “verb” of life and join in its creative pulse.

In the stories evoked above, a symbolic passage from Mars to Mercury signals the “passover” associated with the exaltation of the Sun of identity: a red sea (Mars) is crossed from the land of strife  to the luminous desert of “manna” and divine instructions (Me); blood (Ma) is “crossed” on the doors of those leaving Egypt, as the cross of the bleeding Christ will later stand—a threshold between the earth of egocentric instincts and passions (Ma) and the ensouled earth pervaded with Mercury (said to be “one with the Sun”).[7]

On the other hand, a “sea of red” continued to surround Jason and slowly engulfed him. The “light” he found to make his way through the initiatory trials was an obscure reflection of Mercury, a Mercury imprisoned in the Martian flames of his personal desire to win back the throne. As if mirroring it, the dim light of magical knowledge offered by Medea was captive to the flames of her passion to “win” Jason. Pulled down into the hero’s personal fires, the gift of Mercury ended up burning him.

When the Sun is exalted, the question of Identity is at the center of consciousness. For the ego-centered individual (the personal version of monotheism), the question is, “who-am-I-and-how-can-I-prove-it?” For the soul-centered individual, the question is, what is the fiery creative power I experience as “self” and how can I best make way for its expression?[8] The Aries soul is called to “launch into activity”[9] new cycles of life, venture innovative approaches, pioneer daring initiatives. The heroic rise of selfhood kindled by an exalted sun will also incline the person to stimulate and liberate the same fiery core in others.

As the first ray of the sun cuts through the night, opens the eye of the world and wakes up a new day, the Aries sun opens the consciousness to new intuitive directions or world-transforming ideas. It fires the will to set out with crew and boat to capture and “bring down” an “original” design (UR/Me).

*

Both Dane Rudhyar and Vincent Van Gogh were born with the Sun in Aries.

Dane Rudhyar initiated a new approach to astrology, a “humanistic” approach centered on selfhood as a psycho-cosmic initiatory process of evolution, integration, individuation. In the epilogue to his Astrology of Personality, he writes: “..the man who has become individuated, and who has established individual consciousness at the mental level of being [lives in the realm of] the living Christ — the man who is whole and full of seed [S/A] … In every Christ-being, the spirit is born anew… Spirit is the Creative Now… May the power of this Creative Now illumine our every moment with significance! In every moment the individual may reach integration [S] and joy that fathers forth new cycles and affirms toward the unknown the noble will to destiny [A].” [10]

Almost every word of this short passage by a modern “Diomede” speaks eloquently to the exaltation of the sun/self (individuation into a Christ-Self; “coming to BE”—becoming whole and full of seed; enacting the power of the creative Now; fathering forth new cycles) and the Aries quality that imbues the process and its expression—because, like the orb of red behind the sun, the energy that Aries conveys is at the root of selfhood, at the beginning and end of the process of “self.”

*

If Van Gogh “exalted” the sun quite literally in his intense sunflowers, one can look at his entire work as a treasure of golden fleeces—pulsating fiery renderings of nature’s forms and colors kindled by the passion and ardor of a universe-identified “self.”

Most interesting is his focus on the figure of the Sower, considering the resonance between the legendary fecundity of the “Ram” and the fructifying power of the sun.  Early on, while pursuing his vocation as a preacher, he foresaw himself as a “Sower of God’s words.” Years later, the visionary quality of his studies and paintings of Sowers reveals a deep affinity with the inner “sowing” gesture of Aries and the “exalted self”. His well known 1888 “Sower” offers an inspiring contemplation of the exaltation of the Sun in Aries: The huge golden sphere of a rising Sun emerges behind the small dark head (A) of the sower, like its radiant extension, as if the vibrant higher Self of mankind is “captured” here dispensing his seeds of life to the awaiting field—from head to hand, from mind to will (Me to Ma). Van Gogh’s early failure at what he felt to be his calling as a preacher gave way to what would be his royal road to sow the “word” of God —the road of the brushstroke, the brushstroke of a “burning bush.”

Van Gogh The Sower

The life of the Sun is what Van Gogh, intrepid Argonaut, grasped in his paintings. The fire of the sun swirling through the flames of nature is what he showed, re-igniting in vivid identification with the world’s self a “nature” cooled by the objective eye of ordinary consciousness. His brush seized the impulse of life within nature, offering worlds returned, exalted, to their fiery essence by the fire of a human spirit—worlds “sub-limated” into solar life, matters passing-over into fire through the flaming threshold (lat. limen) of a self.

It is moving in the context of this study to discover, among Van Gogh’s very few paintings on imaginative or subjective themes, a luminous rendering of the resurrection of Lazarus—as if the scene passed through his soul and brush to sign its “name” (the painter’s “exalted” name) in a small corner of his works. The subject – a prefiguration of the resurrection of the Christ, the “Son of man” or soul principle  – illumines the archetypal miracle at work in the magic of Van Gogh’s paintings. Set in the sunny fields of nature, this resurrection reflects what one experiences as the inner “event” of his Work—the “surrection” of the soul of nature, the exaltation of its fiery core. As the universal response to Van Gogh’s works suggests, this resurrection of the soul of nature continues to evoke, literally call forth (e-vocare), as Christ did for Lazarus, the soul of humanity.

Raising-Lazarus-After-Rembrandt

The Aries House

 The house with the sign of the Ram on its cusp points to where the fleece of our kingly inheritance is hanging for this life cycle, and where taking courageous steps and mindful initiatives can exalt the self by releasing the generative power of its “orb of red.” The type of experiences encountered in this house hold significant opportunities for progress and be-coming. “Aries is the initiator of the process which leads to progress.”[11] Realizations of greater Identity hang on its tree and wait, dormant, in its bushes— beyond dragons to be slain.

The Sun in a Chart

 The exaltation of the Sun in Aries reveals behind the radiant, magnetic and all-embracing quality of “presence” of the Sun the invisible horns of a “coming forth” (A). Our daily imaginative consciousness perceives such a coming forth in the “heading forward” (A) of the sun in the sky —the fiery “course” [12] that lights up and ignites the next “moment” of sky and “self” across the 12-foldness of the day, the 12-foldness of the year, the zodiac of successive incarnations or the zodiac of successive civilizations.

  Flashing forth from behind the “Presence” of the sun, this essential dimension of “renewal” of consciousness and world – a formulation that reflects the three rulerships of Aries (Ur-Me-Ma) – prompts a renewed look at the meaning of the sun in a chart.

 The astrological sun, the central instance around which the other functions of the psyche revolve, symbolizes our sense of self, with its particular quality of presence and will indicated by placement and aspects. Its first function is to achieve personality integration by being a source of self-awareness, self-appreciation, self-love and creative expression. This central source of motivation exerts its pull on the other aspects of the psyche, serving their gradual integration into a well-functioning personality.

The exaltation of the radiant Sun (second ray) in Aries’ initiating mode of forward motion (first ray) took us to the quest for soul (Jason) and the birth of true Identity (Moses). It showed the nuclear fire of spiritual initiative and liberating power latent within the centralizing force of selfhood. This nuclear energy of the sun begins to emerge when the integrated vessel of the personality allows for a greater wholeness of self to arise and challenge with its divine name and inherent title – Dio-mede indeed – the reign of the old king of the animals, the lion king of the psyche—the “me and mine” now recognized as usurper of the Self.

 From this perspective, the self represented by the sun becomes potentially an “Easter-point,” its placement in the chart indicating where and how the self is invited to “pass over” from “me” to “I” or self to Self, from Medea to Diomede or from the yoke of Pharaoh to Moses leadership—from a certain form of self-centeredness to a true expression of Egoic being; from the ego-centric instinctual motion of consciousness to a decentralized “coming forth” as a seed of spiritual intelligence, love or power. “Life does not demand acquiescence and acceptance, suggests A. Bailey. It demands activity, …the cultivation of that spirit of fight which will produce eventual emergence into a realm of useful spiritual activity.” [13]

 The Sun indicates how one emerges – or ought to emerge – to kindle a spark of life or evoke a certain quality of energy in one’s environment. Looking into the “orb of red” of the Sun in the chart while considering its specific placement by sign, we may ask:

  • What seed of the One Soul, signaled by the sign of the sun, has been sown in this individual psyche, and through this person—into the world? What soul intent speaks through the sun sign?
  • Which of the twelve Ideas of the world-soul is the individual especially aligned to and intent on bringing to “rule” his self for a life-time?
  • What does the journey from self to Self look like? What is the specific character of the heroic quest for Self suggested by the sign of the sun and its esoteric ruler? A different type of heroism is called for, clearly, if the “passover” is orchestrated by Pluto in the case of a Pisces Sun, Venus for a Gemini Sun or Jupiter for an Aquarius Sun.

 More than simply representing what characterizes one’s personality, validates or enhances one’s sense of self, the Sun informs us of the particulars of one’s journey along the will to Be—free and freeing. By sign and aspects, it shows how we are meant to become who we are. It signals lesser tendencies to be overcome or trans-formed (from their snake nature to their staff form) and the particular kind of daring which must challenge the self-preserving ways of the small self and, taking hold of the fleece of the soul, rule one’s life from that plane.

  •    In the case of Aries for instance—daring to challenge personal impulsivity and drives, to refocus the energy into taking hold (Ma) of a group serving impulse (UR) or seed-idea (Me), and creating the circumstances where it may grow.
  •     In the case of Pisces—daring to “dry out” the overly impressionable and fluid response to all contacts (until “there is no more sea” [14]), die (PL) to the diffuse avoidance (NE) of a clear stance, and find the self arising, from its very willingness to die, as a new power to make whole and heal (PL).
  •      For Sagittarius—daring to turn away from self-indulgent adventuresome drives to bring the spirit of quest and vision down to earth, intelligently and efficiently (earth as esoteric ruler).
  •      In Taurus—daring to challenge the entrenched motivation for security and stability and come forth as a reshaper and refiner (Vulcan) of economic bodies, traditional values or artistic taste.
  •      In Cancer—daring to challenge the boundaries of the protected unit (Moon) to trust and free a deeper will to nurture “the whole.” (NE).

 The journey into selfhood hidden within the astrological sun, and aimed at the “return” to power of its true ruler, radiant with the golden fleece of soul, takes two major avenues: one is the repelling and transformation of the lesser manifestation of the sign explored above (the type of “dragon” suggested by the exoteric ruler); another is the integration of the opposite sign.

We saw how, blindly following his impulse of the moment, Jason abandoned Medea, and how the feminine principle (Venus, ruler of Libra, polar opposite of Aries), swept in turn into the negative aspect of its polar opposite (Mars) backfired as a destructive flame. Unless a measure of Libra is integrated, Aries is not ready to rule from the plane of mind. Without the scepter of unified opposites (Me) which signals the reign of the soul, the fleeces of leadership or creative initiative quickly fade, wither or turn destructive.

 On the other hand, Exodus tells that after Moses killed (Ma) an Egyptian, infuriating Pharaoh who “sought to kill him,” he fled “in exile” (LI), married the daughter (VE) of Jethro and had a son he named Gershom—”for he said, I have been an alien (Heb-ger) residing in a foreign land”— the foreign land of “the other,” the land of Libra, which Aries needs to acquaint himself with. [15] There he led a contemplative life, tending the sheep in the desert, until the day he saw the burning bush and in the burning bush, heard The name – his name – intuited his mission, received the power to speak (Me) [16] and the serpent staff— the power of the raised Kundalini (Me) which fuses the opposites into an inner scepter of spiritual “leadership.”

 The Fall of the Sun in Libra

With Venus as exoteric ruler of Libra, we sense how the “me” of Aries (within the sun) has to yield to “we,” how “me” is “altered” in “we”, how the urge for identity is tempered by the felt value of relatedness. Self-centered claims have to be curtailed for the sake of harmony (LI). The fiery directness of impulse, intention and will (the first ray Aries conveys) is mitigated by thoughtful awareness of the many sides of reality (an expression of the third ray conveyed by Libra).

The point of self is less sharp and distinct in Libra. It emerges gradually from the oscillation between “the two” (self and other, this fact and that fact) whereby the self searches for the right stance—a right “coming from” the factors and sides considered, as opposed to the bold “coming forth” of Aries. Being is a ceaseless conciliatory process—a deliberate becoming, out of the concord and coming together of peripheries. Such a process of harmonization is necessary for Libra to “round up” decision, courage and action, whereas Aries tends to “go ahead” and strike. The undivided fiery core of the sun/self “falls” between the two eyes of considerateness, objectivity, relational balance.

 Under Libra’s esoteric rulership (Uranus), the sun/self becomes an individual among individuals and “falls” from his/her falsely monarchic position (exalted in early Aries). Self-centered considerations (VE) fade away in the presence of a vaster, nonpersonal order of motivation focused on harmonizing, transcending or fusing greater polarities, fields or worlds. The urge to interpersonal agreeability and harmony gives way to the task of an alchemical wedding of self with Self (LI – Ve/UR), which translates first into the “fall” of the old self. A major episode of The Chymical Wedding, in which Valentin Andreae narrates the initiatory process that this archetypal marriage represents, involves a beheading of old royalties—a beheading of egos [17]. Decapitation – the fall of the head, that member of zodiacal man (A) in which the sun-self is exalted – is a necessary step in the initiation of the “old king” into the kingdom of soul—the kingdom of the authentically exalted self (A).

The Chymical Wedding of initiation is the evolutionary counterpart of the transcendent wedding of Creation.

 

The Transcendent One said,

“I am alone.  I must arise and seek with ceaseless urge

that which produces completion, round out my circle whole,

intensify my life and make Me truly one,

and this because  I recognize the Two.

I must have union with my other self, the self I dimly sense.”

(The Old Commentary) [18]

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