Serial Lesson 79
From Course VII, Spiritual Astrology, Chapter 9
Original Copyright 1935, Elbert Benjamine (a.k.a. C. C. Zain)
Copyright 2011, The Church of Light
Subheadings: WHEN the Scorpion Grows Wings The Man Whom Jacob Wrestled With The Altar of Cain and Abel The Adept’s Laurel Crown
Illustrations: Scorpio - I DESIRE Scorpio/Scorpio: Ophiuchus - Resourcefulness Scorpio/Pisces: Ara - Responsibility Scorpio/Cancer: Corona Australis - Attainment
The Scorpion and the Eagle
WHEN the Scorpion Grows Wings
There is a creature of the desert which lives in the arid dust, hiding from the light of day under sticks and stones, preying upon other living things. It has claws with which to grasp, a cruel mouth with which to bite, and in addition, a deadly weapon where least to be expected, a venomous sting at the end of its tail. This creature is the treacherous Scorpion.
No other animal, perhaps, exhibits such intensity in its love making, and none is more jealous and cruel once its desires are satisfied. The male and female Scorpion, preceding the nuptial union, clasp hands in ecstasy, and each in rapt admiration of the other stands immobile for as much as a night and day. The enthrallment of the other’s touch seems, for the time being, to lift them to such heights of bliss that they are oblivious of the world and passing time. They are entranced by the wonder of it all. Desire so permeates their bodies as to render them motionless.
Yet when finally the spell is broken, and fertilization has taken place, a monstrous change in attitude occurs. In members of this and allied tribes, such as the spiders, the female is the larger. And it is as if, satiated by the long embrace, she were consumed with jealousy of a future rival, driven to frenzy by the thought her mate might desert her for another. This, at any cost, and at any cruelty, she is determined to prevent. She, therefore grasps her erstwhile lover, and despite his frenzied struggles, his mute entreaties, and his attempts to recall to her the beauties of their recent honeymoon, she tears him limb from limb and devours him completely.
Those, therefore, in the ancient past, who wished to portray in the sky the intensity, the power, the cruelty and the vileness of the destructive side of sex, could have selected no more fitting universal symbol than the Scorpion. The oldest seals and boundary stones of Mesopotamia bear the picture of this constellation; and it is one of the symbols to be seen on the Arkansas Astrological Stone, reproduction of which is to be found in Chapter 1 (Serial Lesson 71).
All energy, wherever manifest, is the result of the interaction of positive and negative potencies, and broadly speaking can thus be considered as an expression of sex. That is, mental action and spiritual aspiration, as well as physical movement, are dependent upon desire; upon the utilization of energies on a higher vibratory level which if permitted to express on the Scorpion plane would manifest as cruelty and lust. Religion also is the sublimation of the love impulse, and all art and appreciation of beauty are its manifestations in a realm above that of the brute.
Because creative ability can express on an infinite variety of levels, it would not be feasible to represent each separate plane of its manifestation. Yet it would not convey the correct information if its expression were portrayed merely on the cruel, lustful and destructive level so well represented by the dastardly Scorpion.
Religion being a sublimation of the impulse which on a lower stratum leads the individual to seek a mate, the only Eagle among the constellations portrays the second decanate of the religious sign, Sagittarius. Yet tradition maintains that the Eagle is also the symbol for the higher side of Scorpio; and in symbolizing the four quadrants of heaven, instead of the Scorpion being used to represent the Scorpio quadrant, the Eagle invariably has been employed. That is, the four fixed signs of the zodiac, as representing the whole celestial circle, are always pictured as a Man, a Bull, a Lion and an Eagle; the Scorpion never being shown.
The Eagle is the bird which it was believed flew higher than any other creature. At least, in its upward soaring it ascends until completely out of sight. Moving thus upward into heaven, it came, quite naturally, to be considered the universal symbol of the highest spirituality. Thus in the Scorpion the ancients sought to convey the idea of the lowest and most vile; while in the Eagle they saw the symbol of those most exalted spiritual heights to which it was possible for man to attain.
This creative energy, manifesting on innumerable planes and permeating both the highest and the lowest in the universe, was expressed by the Mound Builders who left the Arkansas Astrological Stone as the zigzag bolt of lightning. They pictured it as coming from out the Scorpion constellation in the sky, descending to vivify the productive powers of man.
The Hopi Indians of our Southwest, however, living in a region where lightning is a constant source of danger, where trees and dwellings are frequently struck during the numerous summer thunderstorms, where life is forfeited to this menace from the sky, regarded the lightning not so much as the symbol of the sexual power, as the manifestation of its destructive use. Instead of picturing the Scorpion, they pictured the lightning. And to indicate the constructive trend of the sexual force they used, as Old World peoples did, the Eagle.
Strangely enough, their ceremonies in which the destructive lightning is used to indicate the lower Scorpio attribute, and the Thunderbird, which is an Eagle, is used to portray the higher side, coincide most perfectly with our knowledge of the co-ruler of Scorpio, knowledge which we have gained only since the discovery of the Planet Pluto, early in 1930.
This most remote member of our planetary family not only has an affinity for the Scorpio sign, but in a violently marked manner it expresses, in its observed influence upon human life, both extreme characteristics of the sign. It may partake of the highest or the lowest, belong to the light or the shadow, produce glorious life or ignoble death.
In such Hopi ceremonies, therefore, as have for their object the overcoming of evil and the prevention of destruction, the Thunderbird commonly plays the leading part. It is he who at the winter solstice, for instance, after a struggle, dispels the darkness, brings back the Sun, and gives to earth the light.
These ceremonies, in which the Thunderbird takes part, are held in a kiva, or chamber beneath the ground; for Pluto, the planet of Scorpio, rules the underworld. This underworld, however, is not merely the ignoble region of the desert Scorpion, but also the high empyrean of blue in which the upward soaring Eagle is lost to sight. That is, it is the invisible world, the realm of the after life, divided into a realm of light and a realm of darkness, into heaven and hell, into the abode of the good and the dwelling place of the wicked.
The kiva, therefore, into which the Indians go to hold communion with the dead, to get in touch with their ancestors and to perform their more sacred rites, is built underground to symbolize that region where the spirits of the departed dwell. That is, such constitutes an appropriate surrounding for the Thunderbird to express his peculiar powers; for in all lands Scorpio is recognized not merely as the sign of sex but also as the abode of Death.
In Central Asia the constellation still is known as the Grave Digger of Caravans; and Greek mythology tells us that invincible as Orion seemed, he was finally vanquished by a Scorpion. Juno presided over marriage and was the patron of women distinguished for their virtue. It was she who sent the Scorpion to bring the downfall of Orion, who had incurred her displeasure. True to its nature, it lay concealed in the ground, and stung him in the foot as he passed. As the foot represents understanding, and as nothing defeats understanding more quickly than passion, the significance of this story is obvious; that he was vanquished through unwise devotion to sex.
Orion sets in the west, goes down to defeat, just as Scorpio rises triumphant in the east. And it will be remembered that Phaeton also met grief through his encounter with the Scorpion, which sank its sting into the flank of one of his steeds as he strove to guide them through the heavens.
From the commencement of this sign, to the first of Aries, where the Sun is released from the signs of winter is a distance of five months. This circumstance, together with the knowledge that on its inversive side Scorpio rules those forces and entities which most torment mankind, makes Revelation 9:3-5, understandable:
"And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man."
Because, as psychologists have discovered, the sex impulse is the seat of most of those insistent desires which when suppressed lead to a wide variety of nervous and mental complaints, and because the mating urge is so strong a force wherever life manifests, the Key phrase given Scorpio, where the Sun may be found each year from October 23 to November 22, is, I Desire.
Its energy is either creative or destructive, light or darkness, and can express in any field. Creative writing calls it into use, all art is its expression, the orator can sway his audience little without it. Yet whether it takes the upward trend, carrying its user on the back of the Eagle into rarer atmospheres, or sinks him in the mire of grossness and dissipation, depends upon his Desires. These give the trend which the energy must take, and the energy carries him along wherever it goes. If Desire is in the direction of refinement, charged with aspiration to something better, his progress is assured. If it is toward the sensual it pulls him down.
Desires become surcharged with emotion, and emotion tunes the nerves and etheric body in on invisible energies of a similar vibratory rate. This leads to the text: Through Sex Man Contacts the Inner Planes, Drawing into Himself According to His Mood, the Finest Energies that Vivify the Spaces or the Grossest Forces from the Fetid Border Spheres.
The Man Whom Jacob Wrestled With
When the ancient wise ones traced the spiritual teachings regarding the sex decanate of the sex sign Scorpio in the sky, they selected a man, Ophiuchus, and represented him as engaged in a life-or-death struggle with Serpens, symbol of that energy generated through the union of polar opposites, which pictures the marriage decanate of the marriage sign Libra. Thus intimately united in the sky, an interlocking and inseparable pair, are pictured sex and marriage.
Man’s likes and dislikes, and therefore his habitual actions, are conditioned by his experiences; but back of any experience in human form are certain irrepressible drives, such as the desire to live, the desire for significance, and the desire for reproduction. These fundamental drives are inherent in all life, providing the force which impels it to struggle and to attempt to move forward. They cannot be obliterated in any living thing; for they are essential constituents of life itself. But their expression, in their attempt to seek satisfaction, is conditioned by experience.
As furnishing energy which can be used not merely to satisfy the urge of sex, but also to secure significance, which in human life becomes self esteem, and to secure food and other advantages, the reproductive drive is of great importance in the life of every human being. So important is it that the ills resulting from its suppression have given rise to a whole literature. The Freudian doctrines of the unconscious mind and the practices of psychoanalysis revolve almost entirely around the struggle of man to adjust himself to the demands of sex.
While not the only struggle man is called upon to make—for does not Orion engage his environment in mortal combat?—yet the proper conditioning of his sexual impulses is so important a matter to every living person, that the ancients felt the need of picturing it in association with the sex decanate of the sex sign, where the Sun may be found from October 23 to November 2. Ophiuchus wrestles with the generative snake.
Not always are we fortunate enough to possess a story from the ancient times which reveals the triumph over difficulty, and another which as well imparts the cause and result of defeat. But relating to Ophiuchus we have both, one a story from the Bible, and another a legend from the Greeks.
Genesis 32, relates that Jacob, after sending his wives and sons over a brook was left alone: "And there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him."
Ophiuchus does not wrestle with a man, but with the serpent of generation; and in all the old star atlases he is pictured as somewhat crippled in the struggle, his thigh being out of joint.
The thigh is ruled by Sagittarius, the sign of religion, one decanate of which is pictured by an eagle, indicating the sublimation of sex energy. Thus, as the story is told, we are led to infer that there was a maladjustment due to religious views. But to go on with the Bible story:
"And he said, let me go for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said Jacob. And he said, thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
"And Jacob called the name of the place Penial: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Penial the sun rose high upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew which shrank."
The only man in the sky who wrestles is Ophiuchus, and he is likewise the only man among the stars whose thigh is shown to be out of joint. It is the creative energy with which he struggles.
As the thigh is so specifically mentioned, and as Serpens is pictured crossing it, it would appear that religion, which is ruled by Sagittarius, and which corresponds to the thigh, has suffered a misadjustment in its relation to the problem of sex.
In various oriental lands, and among the priests and devotees of certain occidental religions, those who turn to a religious life are required to take a vow of celibacy. Likewise, it seemed to Paul, that great leader in establishing Christian institutions, that married life and religion were in deadly opposition. He seems to have been a woman hater who was successful in imposing his own private views as to the degrading effect of marriage upon a multitude of followers. As a consequence nunneries and monasteries flourished, and the priesthood were not permitted to form family ties.
We do not need to agree with the views of the Freudian school of psychiatry, but merely to read the history of the mystical manias and mass obsessions which so persistently have pervaded nunneries and monasteries, to become convinced that enforced celibacy is a source of danger to the mind. And practically all schools of psychology of the present day agree that some maladjustment in the sex life is back of the majority of cases of neurosis, and back of much psychosis.
The urge for reproduction is one of the most insistent drives of every form of life. Nature has taken every pain to make this urge so strong as to be irresistible. That is, she has provided in each organism for the generation of a specific kind of energy in a volume sufficiently great that it cannot be prevented from expressing. This insures the perpetuation of the race. The effort, in the manner advocated by St. Paul, to keep it from expressing has never been successful. The energy is never merely stored up within the human body. It invariably finds an outlet.
Suggestion is powerful, and under certain religions the suggestion is repeatedly given the child that sexual desire is iniquitous and that only those ignoble and depraved have such intense feelings.
The child thus indoctrinated also must satisfy another fundamental drive which is equally strong. The desire for self esteem. Yet if he admits, as he enters adolescence, that he has insistent sex desires, because of false training this implies to him that he is a degraded creature, that God disapproves of him, and that he probably will ultimately simmer in hell.
These thoughts are so repugnant to him that he is unwilling to believe he has such iniquitous impulses. His constant suggestion to himself, and also frequently the suggestions of those in his environment, is that he could not possibly have such disgraceful urges. And the unconscious mind, accepting the suggestion of his spotless purity, builds up an evasive mechanism which will satisfy him that this is true. He is as unaware that he has sexual impulses as a hypnotized subject, told a stick is a cigar, is unaware that he is not smoking tobacco.
The unconscious mind, with all its resources, is powerless to obliterate any of the fundamental drives of life. The most it can do is to divert them from one channel into another.
Yet the sex urge can express fully and with complete satisfaction, while maintaining physical and mental health, on a wide variety of levels and through diverse creative channels. The love life, for instance, can be elevated to the plane of regeneration in which the physical no longer feels a need, that need being replaced by a fusion and interchange of finer forces. Or the sex urge can be diverted completely into the creation of literature, art, music, or social service work.
It is only when the creative energy is not expressed through some creative channel that, under the implied suggestion that it has no existence, it expresses itself under disguise as some of the numerous symptoms of neurosis, psychosis, or erratic behavior, with which psychoanalytic literature has made the public familiar.
Jacob seemed to have the difficulty that many people have in adjusting his reproductive desires to the demands of his religion. He wrestled with the problem, as Ophiuchus is yet observed to be doing until he solved it. This caused him some affliction, and he never succeeded in adjusting it to his early religious convictions, as implied by the shrunken sinew in the hollow of his thigh. Yet that he finally did make a satisfactory adjustment, even from the standpoint of his later religious convictions, is to be inferred from the statement that the Sun, which is a symbol of virility and vitality, halted upon the part of his body having religious significance, that is, upon his thigh.
And as always is the case, when he had made the proper adjustment, so that he was able to divert his creative energies into channels of accomplishment which were socially acceptable and beneficial, this adjustment blessed him. He then had at his disposal to use for a worthy purpose a volume of energy not possessed by less fortunate men.
Laocoon, in the Greek story, was not so fortunate in making the adjustment. It was at the siege of Troy, and the enterprise required that a wooden horse—symbol of religion, just as was Jacob’s thigh—should be moved into the beleaguered city. Laocoon, who was a priest of Apollo (Sun), opposed the admission of this horse. As a punishment for this attitude two enormous serpents were sent to attack him while he with his two sons was offering a sacrifice to Neptune. Coiling around the men, the serpents crushed all three to death.
Of the two roads, one of which is demanded by Neptune, octave of Venus, the planet of love, instead of sublimation, Laocoon chose suppression. He was unable to adjust his creative desires to his religious views, as symbolized by the wooden horse. Instead, therefore, of being blessed, as was Jacob who defeated the serpent and sublimated his desires to a higher plane of expression, he was crushed and strangled by them in an attempt at their annihilation.
Resourcefulness, which is the Keyword of the decanate, follows the ability to divert the sex energy into proper channels. As a constructive and acceptable outlet for the energy must be found, we have this text: Continual Kindness Between the Sexes Generates a Power by Which the Heights may be Scaled.
The Altar of Cain and Abel
The Altar upon which sacrifice is made by priest and devotee is repeatedly mentioned in the symbolical stories current in various lands. In religious observances of the past it has ever held a position of importance, particularly in those religions in which the propitiation of astral entities forms an essential part of the ceremonies.
The departed friends and ancestors come under the astrological rule of the eighth house, pictured by Scorpio; but elementals and various other astral entities, particularly those which attempt to deceive or enslave their votaries, come under the rule of the twelfth house, pictured by Pisces. To have significance where both the house of death and the house of astral entities are concerned, in selecting the appropriate place for Ara, the Altar in the sky, the ancients allotted it, therefore, to the Pisces decanate of Scorpio.
To reveal its true significance, it could picture a decanate of no other sign than Scorpio; for sacrifices are made either to the light or to the darkness, to true religion as represented by Sagittarius, or to blind and erroneous belief as indicated by Pisces, the other sign which Jupiter, the religious planet, rules. Or to state it more precisely, sacrifices are made to the beast in man, pictured by the vile and treacherous Scorpion, or to the angel in man, pictured by the high-soaring Eagle.
Pluto, the co-ruler of Scorpio, has dominion over the invisible world, over both the spiritual heavens and the astral hells. One side of its influence enables the individual to contact the highest realm of all, and the other brings the individual into touch with the most degraded and terrifying wickedness. Scorpio, according to tradition, is the Great Deceiver. Consequently, when opportunity offers for the inversive influence of Pluto to get in its work, true religion and spiritual aspirations are given such a twist as to lead the devotee into folly and wickedness under the belief he is practicing that which is good in the sight of God.
It was customary, for instance, among the ancient peoples of Mexico, at prescribed times astrologically ascertained, to bring to the priests for sacrifice upon the Altar, fruits and flowers. Flowers, of course, are the reproductive parts of plants, and thus ruled by Scorpio; and the fruits are the issue, containing the seeds which permit of a new generation. This ceremony, from which is derived the custom of hanging May Baskets, signified the knowledge that the purpose of incarnation on earth is to develop the seeds of spirituality, that the experiences of earth can be used to unfold the beauties of the soul, even as blooms the flower; and that the desires of the devotee to devote all his resources, as symbolized by his offering, to the development of those qualities which make him a better citizen of the universe, lead to the highest happiness.
Whatever the sacrifice on the Altar might be, if it were burnt, the smoke ascending, and the aromas permeating the air, symbolically conveyed the idea that the motives and desires were carried into the invisible world, attracting intelligences of a quality corresponding to the nature of the sacrifice, who, it was believed, would assist the individual in attaining that for which the sacrifice was offered.
For instance, as related in Numbers 22 and 23, Balak desired to employ Balaam to bring a curse upon the Israelites, and sent word to him: "For I will promote thee unto very great honor, and I will do whatever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people."
When finally Balaam was persuaded to come to Balak, he was taken to a high place where he could see all the people, that he might bring a curse upon them: "And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams. And Balak did as Balaam had spoken; and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar a bullock and a ram."
Here we have an effort typical of the inversive side of Pluto, showing that the employment of a magician to bring a curse upon those it was desired to destroy was not uncommon in Bible times. But in this instance the effort failed, Balaam at the last instant refusing to pronounce the curse, and saying: "Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel."
In ancient Mexico, as the above incident from the Bible indicates was the case among the Semites, there were those who worked under the inversive side of Pluto, who attracted to themselves not the eighth house influence so much as the twelfth house denizens, and used them, and were used by them, to do injustice and to work evil.
Gradually, and subtly, as such underhanded forces always work, these Priests of the Shadow gained dominion over the religious observances of the land. After a battle, with the blood lust still upon them, it seemed to the populace quite the fitting thing that prisoners of war should be offered as a sacrifice upon the Altar, instead of the customary fruits and flowers. Especially so, as the priests told them that thus would the strength of the victims be inherited so it could be used against future enemies.
Once the custom was established of making human sacrifices, it was easily extended to imply a demand by the gods for more and more victims. If prisoners of war were not forthcoming, individuals from the populace must be selected, otherwise the anger of the gods would be visited upon the nation. And in time of national crisis, still more victims must be had, in order to avert the threatened peril.
Mass murder, such as that practiced by modern racketeers with machine guns, is typical of the lower influence of Pluto, co-ruler of the sign of Death. The more cruel and bloodthirsty a killing is, the better it corresponds to this ruthless side of Scorpio. The Aztec Priests of Darkness, therefore, when they gained supremacy, devised a particularly horrifying method of human sacrifice. The victim was spread eagled, face up, on the Altar, each hand and leg held by a priest. Another priest, after appropriate magical invocation to the gods (bloodthirsty elementals of the twelfth house), with a single slash of a stone knife ripped open the victim’s breast, and with the other hand tore the living, palpitating heart from the shrieking man or woman; then held the bloody trophy aloft as an offering to invisible beings and for the assembled populace to see. If the victim died before his heart was jerked from his agonized body the sacrifice was considered ineffectual.
To go still deeper into the teachings of the Altar in the sky, let us consider the story of the first two children born on earth. Genesis 4, relates that Cain was a tiller of the ground; by which is probably meant that his interests were material. Abel, on the other hand, was a keeper of sheep. Instead of being earth-earthy in his inclinations, it is implied that, like Aries, the fiery exaltation of the Sun, his zeal and enthusiasm were for immaterial things.
Cain, with his purely physical outlook on life, offered as his sacrifice to the Lord, the fruits of the ground. That is, he seemed to think, like certain men at the present day, that he could buy spirituality. Instead of turning the creative energies within himself into channels which would develop refinement of feeling, and energize action which was above the plane of brute, he merely worked hard to acquire material possessions, and turned a portion of these over as a religious tithing.
Sheep are symbols of creative energy. This energy is of animal origin. When Abel, therefore, brought in the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof, and offered them as a sacrifice, the implication is that he sacrificed the animal part of himself, and turned his creative energies into channels which would not express the gross, but would develop refinement and conduce to those actions which prove spirituality.
In other words, Cain was quite willing to sacrifice his material possessions; but he made no effort to change the brute within himself into something more acceptable. That this is the correct interpretation subsequent events seem to prove; for jealousy is one of those destructive emotions which are fed by the energy of unregenerate Scorpio. When he was reproved for his manner of living, instead of taking it in good part, he became angry that his brother should have had better fortune than himself.
The Altar pictures a decanate in the sign of Death. Yet even though Abel was slain, he had contacted the Eagle side of Pluto. Cain, however, in his anger, contacted the Scorpion side, and his energies, flowing into destructive channels, wrought the death of Abel. Truly, the energies of Scorpio go aloft like the Eagle, or sink into the earth. To the extent they are present they must express.
The entire teaching which the ancients sought to convey by Ara, where the Sun may be found each year from November 2 to November 12, is condensed in Cain’s reply when the Lord asked him where was his brother, Abel: "And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?"
Responsibility is the Keyword for the Ara–decanate, and the Cains of earth always disclaim responsibility for that which befalls their fellow man. Although they occupy human forms they still function on the brute plane where fang and claw, and a total disregard for the welfare of others are dominant factors. But every Brother of the Light must forever renounce such an attitude, which attracts the twelfth house astral entities. Those who would attract help and guidance from the truly spiritual must assume Responsibility for contributing all within their power to the welfare of others.
Like Abraham, as related in Genesis 22, instead of killing after the manner of the Aztec Priests, when his own son was tied a victim on the wood of the altar, he must sacrifice the animal within himself, the creative Ram, turning its energies to the service of God. In no other way can spirituality be attained. Hence the text follows: By Sacrificing His Animal Thoughts, Desires and Pleasures Upon the Altar of Aspiration to Higher Things Man Comes into Possession of Intellectual and Spiritual Pleasures that Yield a far Keener Delight.
The Adept’s Laurel Crown
It was the custom of the ancient Greeks to crown the victors in the Pythian games with a wreath of laurel. It was also used by them as a mark of distinction for certain high offices; and later came to be employed to denote academic honors, from which the European custom arose of calling the poet or artist who won the highest place, the laureate, such as the poet laureate; that is, the poet who by his excellence had merited the crown of laurel. It is such a crown, Corona Australis, which pictures the attainment decanate of Scorpio.
Scorpio is ruler not merely of the energy of sex, but also of death; and the placing of the universal symbol of highest attainment where it represents the Cancer decanate of Scorpio implies that the victor thus designated is the master of the energies of his creative functions, and that the scope of his powers is not confined to the material world, but extends into the realm where reside those commonly denoted dead. He has, while still in the flesh, attained immortality, and is able to work both on the external plane and in the realms of disembodied life.
The Sun is in the decanate of the Southern Crown from November 12 to November 22, and the adjoining sign into which it moves when it leaves this decanate is Sagittarius, the religious sign, the sign of benevolent Jupiter. To pass through the section of the zodiac pictured by the Crown takes the Sun ten days, and while so doing it is still in the sign of Death, Scorpio, and thus subject to the influence, not merely of the spiritual side of Pluto, the co-ruler of the sign, but also to the dark afflictions of its inversive side. The victory over these Brethren of the Shadow, the period of the Sun’s passage through this decanate, the significance of it as belonging to the sign of Death, and the nature of the Crown which is gained as a reward for the victory, all are mentioned in Revelation 2:10:
"Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer; behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
It is also mentioned in I Peter in a manner which makes its significance obvious: "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither be lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
These two Bible commentaries on the nature of the work by which the Southern Crown can be gained make it quite clear that force and compulsion, which are typical of the inversive side of Pluto, are to be avoided. Neither is fear to be countenanced, even when danger threatens. The individual, by his thoughts, feelings and actions must serve as an example of correct living, that other men may observe and do likewise. The energies must be devoted to helping others to the utmost extent, to feeding the flock as Peter states it; but not because of expected recompense—filthy lucre—but of a ready mind, that is, because there is a deep and abiding desire to benefit to the utmost all with whom there is contact.
Those, therefore, who undertake the winning of this Southern Crown, token of the highest attainment which is possible to life on earth, must adopt as the pattern of their lives the effort to contribute their utmost to universal welfare. They must realize that they are workmen in the cosmic organization, with a responsibility to universal society; that the universe does not run itself, but depends upon the wisdom and initiative of its various intelligent cells; and that they each have a definite function to perform in furthering the fulfillment of the Divine Plan.
Any aspirant to the universal Laurel Crown must make this conception of his responsibility to all other life forms so completely a part of his character that every decision he is called upon to make will habitually be weighed, and every thought, emotion and action decided, by considering which contributes most to cosmic welfare.
When, after due thought and analysis, he has decided that a particular line of endeavor, or a specific attitude toward events, or some accomplishment, is in the direction of the universal good, he must then not merely have the skill, but also the energy, courage, and fixity of purpose to carry his decision into action, and to make its end a reality. That is, if he is to make any real attainment, he must possess will power.
It is here that the energy denoted by Scorpio plays an important part, particularly when the individual reaches that state in his progress where he is able to work not merely on the physical plane, but on the inner plane as well. The habit of not making a decision until it is ascertained if the object sought is within the scope of the abilities and if it is worth the effort, and then, once having made a decision never permitting anything to prevent it being carried out, develops that fixity of purpose which is essential to the exercise of a powerful will. But a powerful will, in addition to fixity of purpose, must have available an abundant energy which can be brought to bear in the carrying out of any decided upon course of action.
If, therefore, the individual has advanced far enough along the path toward adeptship that he is able not to suppress, but actually to sublimate and transmute the energies of Scorpio, so that they may be directed into channels which are decided upon, this gives him a reserve energy supply which it is possible to use on any plane for any purpose.
Needless to say, the use of such surplus energy to the disadvantage of others immediately attracts the Legions of Darkness, ruled by the inversive side of Scorpio, and ultimately brings the enslavement and downfall of the one so using it. But its use as an energy to support the will in undertakings which have for object the advancement of the race, enables work to be accomplished that would be impossible without it, and tend toward true spirituality.
Yet with or without this additional energy supply, which is available to the adept who has attained the Laurel Crown, the benefit any individual can be to cosmic society is limited by his knowledge, and his abilities at the time. Those, therefore, who strive for the Crown of Adeptship, seek also to increase their knowledge; for unless they understand the purpose of the Divine Plan they are in no position to aid in its realization; and unless they know how to help people, their efforts in that direction are fruitless. They also strive at all times to develop their abilities; for to the extent abilities are present can that which is known to be desirable accomplishment be realized.
The world of material science offers a certain type of information which cannot be neglected. A knowledge of physical laws is a great advantage to anyone who undertakes important work. But such knowledge quite neglects the action of those invisible forces and the existence of invisible realms which have an even more important bearing upon human life and destiny, both here and hereafter.
The one who seeks the Crown of Life, therefore, undertakes to make himself as completely familiar as possible with all the occult forces of nature. In addition to the type of information which the common educated person is expected to possess, he makes himself thoroughly familiar with the occult sciences.
He finds in astrology a method of gauging and determining the trend of invisible forces as they exist at any given time; and this gives him the best possible information as to when and how to direct his energies to attain the best results. The manner in which thoughts unite to form the thought cells of which his astral body is formed gives him the key to character building, and enables him to convert energies received from the planets into channels that attract to him the desired conditions. The invisible vibrations of selected environments also, when understood, can be utilized to make his life far more effective than otherwise it would be.
But aside from the acquisition of knowledge of the operation of all these invisible energies which commonly are called occult, and the utilization of this knowledge for human betterment, the one seeking the supreme Crown of earthly life also develops certain capacities and abilities within himself which relate to the use of the psychic senses and the development of higher states of consciousness.
If he is to adapt his life on earth to maximum usefulness, he must also be familiar with the conditions and requirements of that life in which he and others must function after the change called Death. He recognizes that earthly life in human form is but one link in an endless chain of existences; and that if it is to perform its highest function, it must fit the Individual for the succeeding phases of existence. To know what will be advantageous in that after life, and also to contact those of greater wisdom than himself who there dwell, it becomes advantageous to him to be able to explore it and to contact its conditions and intelligences.
He does not attempt to do this through the unreliable channels of irresponsible mediumship, which tend to break down the will; but through developing the senses of the astral body so that he can see and hear and feel, and even travel, on the astral plane much the same as he does on the physical. In this manner, as he makes progress, he in time becomes as familiar with the conditions and people of the next plane of life as he is with the conditions and people of the physical world. Pluto, ruler of Scorpio, relates to both planes, and those who attain the Crown live consciously and function on both planes at will.
Holding to the pattern of life which calls for maximum service for the common good, they acquire knowledge of occult laws, and develop their abilities to use occult forces, in a constant endeavor to increase the scope of usefulness. Their attitude and efforts lead to the text: Men Should be Esteemed Not Because of their Race, Color, Sex, or Ancestry, but for What they have Accomplished for the Common Good. The True Monarch is He Who Renders Greatest Service to His Fellow Man.