Serial Lesson 77
From Course VII, Spiritual Astrology, Chapter 7
Original Copyright 1935, Elbert Benjamine (a.k.a. C. C. Zain)
Copyright 2011, The Church of Light
Subheadings: The Tree Which Grew in the Garden of Eden Ariadne Gives Theseus a Clew of Thread The Twelve Labors of Hercules How Job Triumphed Over His Afflictions
Illustrations: Virgo - I ANALYZE Virgo/Virgo: Bootes - Achievement Virgo/Capricorn: Hercules - Experience Virgo/Taurus: Corona Borealis - Renunciation
Why Eve Was Tempted
THE Tree Which Grew in the Garden of Eden
If we turn back the pages of the Bible to the time when man first appeared on earth, we find him inhabiting a garden. One whole 30-degree section of the zodiac, where the Sun may be found from August 23 to September 23, was set aside by those who anciently studied the stars as representing just such a garden, and as having an influence over the fruit of the trees and the grain of the fields. It is the harvest sign, Virgo.
Were this not recognized to be the case, both in olden and in modern times, certain passages of Genesis would be astounding; such as where it relates that Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
Yet viewing this occurrence in the light of ancient stellar wisdom there is nothing obscure about it. It quite definitely locates the garden among the constellations, for, in the sense that there is yet more light than darkness, more heat than cold, all the time the Sun is in the garden sign, Virgo, it indicates that the Sun has not yet gone into the winter signs. Yet when the Sun moves out of this garden sign into Libra it will be in the cold half of the year, when the nights are longer than the days. As Virgo adjoins but is not one of the winter signs, when the Sun is in the harvest sign quite appropriately may be termed the cool of the day.
Virgo is an earthy sign; and out of the ground of this garden the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food, and also the tree of life as well as the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Yet because of certain actions on his part, man was not permitted to partake of the tree of life; and consequently to find it we must move across the zodiac to one of the decanates of the opposite sign. But man did partake of the tree of good and evil, through the advice of Eve; and thus the woman in the sky still holds the palm branch in her hand.
The sign Virgo, however, has rule not merely over gardens where dates grow on palm trees, but over labor and harvests of all kinds. Therefore, when Adam, and the woman who was called Eve because she was the mother of all living, were thrust from the parental environment to shift for themselves, it was said that in order to live they must till the fields and raise crops, not all of which would be wheat, as thorns and thistles also are mentioned. Furthermore, to keep warm they had to make clothing.
All of these things required just such labor as the zodiacal sign rules; and people still sweat to get the bread they eat; such bread as is signified by the ears of wheat held in celestial Virgo’s hand.
It seems, from what is said in this third chapter of Genesis, that before man partook of the fruit which Eve offered him, he was unable to distinguish good from evil. This same fruit is characteristic of this section of the sky, for Virgo, more than any other sign, confers the ability to discriminate. In fact, the Key phrase for the sign is, I Analyze.
People born when the Sun is in Virgo are inveterate askers of questions, always wanting to know how things work. It was quite in character, therefore, that Eve should discuss the merits of the tree with the serpent, or with anyone else who would talk with her about it. She wanted to know all there was to know about the tree and about everything else. And after talking it over with the serpent she decided, after all, that the tree of knowledge was good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and to be desired as making one wise.
The implication is plain that she decided knowledge is worth all it costs. She paid the price, but she acquired that which Virgo most desires; for after they had eaten, the Lord God said, "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil."
There are many things that man inherits, many things that come as gifts without cost, but knowledge is not one of them. No one can be given knowledge; it must be acquired. And the only method of acquiring it is through a process similar to that which Adam and Eve and their offspring followed after eating of the so called forbidden fruit. That is, through a wide variety of contrasting experiences.
There is but one basis for consciousness, and that is the perception of relations. Whenever the mind or soul is unaware of relations, it is in a state of coma.
In order for the soul to be aware of those relations which make it conscious, it must contact relative conditions. Such relative conditions are present only in association with substance. And to the extent the experiences have wide diversity in kind, and great range in intensity do they afford the materials out of which knowledge may be acquired.
We can know nothing whatever of coldness apart from our experiences with things which vary in degree of heat which they possess. We can know nothing of sweetness apart from our experiences with things which are less sweet and more sweet. If we have had some experience with that which is bitter and that which is sour, it gives us a better knowledge of the significance of sweetness when we contact it.
Our knowledge can be widened through reading books, or by hearing of the experiences of others. But this is only possible to the extent we have had experiences of our own, in contact with substance, with which to compare the experiences and information related to us.
The soul before its incarnation on the physical plane is depicted as Adam, without knowledge or responsibility, and, therefore, in a state bordering on unconsciousness. If it was to acquire that wisdom expressed in the Bible, "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil," it had to have a broad basis of experience upon which to build. The entrance into physical conditions gave it the opportunity for such acquisition.
We have here, consequently, the answer to the so frequently asked question why man must undergo incarnation in physical form, must work and struggle, must have pain and hardship, and go through other experiences. Without such experiences he could not acquire the knowledge and power which enables him to participate in divine attributes. Such participation is clearly set forth in the Bible when it states that man was made in the image of God.
Everyone, of course, is quite familiar with the story of the immaculate conception, and how the Virgin Mother, warned of the enmity of Herod, fled for a time into the land of Egypt. And a somewhat similar mother was honored in various ancient lands long before the Christian era, and was pictured in the sky. In Egypt, for instance, where she was called Isis, there were yearly pageants in her honor, with processions of virgins who carried sistrums in their hands.
In America during ceremonies of similar purport, certain of the Indians on the sidelines, all during the dance, shake white gourds filled with seeds. These rattles, identical in shape and significance with the sistrum, are used to signify the mother principle, which was held in highest esteem as indicated by Virgo being pictured with the wings of an angel.
Furthermore, the Hopi Indian girl of marriageable age wears her hair carefully dressed on either side of her head in a form to represent a squash blossom. Such a flower symbolizes both that she is a virgin and that she has potentialities for motherhood. She is not permitted to wear this distinctive headdress after she marries.
This use of a flower to symbolize the potentialities of motherhood, curiously enough, is still retained, along with a wide variety of other symbolisms of the primitive people of America, in our playing cards. On the Queen of Spades, which is the card corresponding to the zodiacal sign Virgo, in addition to the blossom held in one hand, which is common to the other queens, she bears in her other a lighted torch, to indicate that she has conceived by the solar power, or if you prefer, by the Holy Ghost.
Egypt was ever considered by Bible characters as the land of darkness. And as the seed of squash and bean and corn which the Indian placed in the ground had to remain in hiding for a period before the earth could bring forth, and as the Virgin persecuted by Herod sojourned for a time in the dark land of Egypt, so also the Sun, immediately after its station in the sky pictured by the Virgin, must pass across to the dark half of the year for a time, where the nights are longer than the days.
Virgo is an earthy sign, and to those who understand the stellar doctrine, the Sun’s entrance into this sign symbolizes the descent of the soul into matter. Such traditions are among the oldest in Egypt and Chaldea. Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs was also thus virgin born, as was Montezuma of the Pueblo Mojave and Apache Indians. Thus was it taught that Mother Earth is the place of the soul’s gestation; and that after the preparatory development which is supplied by the earth—after it has partaken of the fruit of the tree of good and evil which alone enables it to acquire knowledge—it will be born into a more glorious life.
Furthermore, because this is the harvest sign, in addition to revealing the necessity of the trials and tribulations of earth to teach us wisdom, and that after such necessary preparation there will be a passing from the physical to be born into a new and better life on a higher plane, it teaches that as we sow so shall we reap.
At all times we are sowing in the soil of our own consciousness. We are building thoughts into ourselves of various kinds. These thought cells, in turn, when sufficient energy has been supplied them to give them strength, work to attract events of a similar quality into the life. The text therefore becomes: If a Man Sows Discordant Thoughts He Will Reap Painful Experiences, But if He Sows Thoughts of Harmony He Will Garner Success and Happiness.
Ariadne Gives Theseus a Clew of Thread
When viewing Bootes, the Husbandman in the sky, picturing the harvest decanate of the harvest sign, through which the Sun passes each year from August 23 to September 2, one cannot but wonder once again how much must be attributed to coincidence, and how much of ancient lore was actual knowledge. The chief star in the constellation is mentioned in Job 38:32, "Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?" as if, like turning the zodiac to bring any desired season, the control of Arcturus were an impossible task.
We are hardly warranted, I suppose, in believing that the ancients knew anything of the terrific speed with which a few of the stars travel. Yet Arcturus is classified as one of those "runaway stars" which have a speed so great, according to Simon Newcomb, the great astronomer, as to be beyond control of the other bodies in the firmament. Job might well ask about this swiftest of all the brighter stars, traveling 89 miles a second, or of the son, one of the stars of the Great Bear, which is smaller but moves at even greater speed, by what agency could they be guided.
Although Arcturus was chosen for another and quite as romantic reason to open the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago in 1933, because this exposition was held in honor of, and to display, labor-saving devices and scientific progress garnered during the previous hundred years, no better star could have been selected to symbolize the exposition than this chief star in the constellation picturing the mental and harvest decanate of the mental and harvest sign Virgo.
Its speed is typical of the new forms of locomotion displayed in the exhibits. And in addition to the sickle which the Husbandman carries to indicate the reaping of the harvest, the spear which he holds in the other hand indicates that the devices thus acquired have slain, let us hope forever, the sweatshop Minotaur nourished by child labor.
The harvesting of the energy of Arcturus, rather than that of some rival in brilliancy, late in May, 1933, to close the switches that turned on the lights which formally opened the exposition, was prompted ostensibly by the circumstance that the light, which fell upon the photoelectric cells at the eye end of the telescopes at four different observatories, left the Husbandman star at about the time the previous Chicago World’s Fair was held in 1893.
From this miracle of modern science we can with advantage turn to the first miracle recorded by Saint John, the significance of which also, we may be sure, is revealed by its correspondence in the sky. Virgo, the sign of the mother, is adjacent to Libra, the sign of marriage. And it will be remembered that the mother of Jesus attended a marriage. Servants also are ruled by Virgo and His mother instructed the servants to do whatever He should ask of them.
In its annual circuit of the heavens, as indicated by Bootes, the keeper of the vineyard, it is when the Sun enters Virgo that the harvest ripens and the water drawn from the earth into the grapes swelling on the vine is converted into juice which is suitable for wine. The decanate thus pictured by the Vineyardist is the earthy decanate of an earthy sign, and thus closely allied to stone. As Virgo also is the sixth sign of the zodiac, the six water pots of stone which Jesus commanded the servants to fill with water, and which He converted into wine of excellent flavor, indicate that this event, and those transformations within the character of man which correspond to it, are pictured by the constellation Bootes.
Thus the turning of water into wine by the Sun each fall, and the miracle performed by Jesus, both convey a spiritual teaching. Even steep hillsides and rocky soil may be utilized in raising grapes. So also, even when circumstances offer scant footing, and hard, rough obstacles are on every hand, it is possible to cultivate the finest traits of character.
Jesus did not ask the servants to go to the village and get some special materials out of which to make the wine. He used that which already was at hand. Nor is it necessary for those who develop the powers of their souls to seek special settings or unusual circumstances. All the materials necessary for the finest flavor of soul growth are everywhere present and can be changed into spiritual qualities of the finest vintage.
In fact, even as the wine which Jesus formed out of what happened to be handy was of finer flavor than that which had been made under special conditions, so the spiritual qualities which can be derived from the proper attitude toward everyday experiences are of superior merit to those acquired through going into retirement or amid other surroundings which many consider most favorable to their development.
While the constellation Bootes thus explains the significance of the miracle of changing water into wine in six pots of stone, this miracle does not reveal the significance of the spear which the Vineyardist holds in one of his hands. Its meaning can better be comprehended through a story from the Greeks, a story in which also a woman typical of celestial Virgo, takes a prominent part.
It seems that in the time of Minos, second king of Crete, there was a monster, half Bull and half Man, called the Minotaur, which was confined in a celebrated labyrinth. The Bull part, of course, refers to the rule of Taurus over money, and the Man part to the science and knowledge of Aquarius. In modern words, it was the monster of commercial exploitation.
To keep this monster pacified it was necessary each year to import some of the fairest youths and maidens from Athens for the Minotaur to devour. Among one such consignment of Athenian youths sent to the island was Theseus, who already had been successful in catching and killing, in his home land, a wild bull, called the Bull of Marathon. He had made up his mind to get rid of this Cretan monster also and it was for this purpose that, as Bootes, he carries the spear which is pictured in the sky.
But just as at the present day the whole problem of money is involved in a maze of conflicting doctrines and opinions, from which the most skilled economists seem unable to free the world, so a problem of equal importance to vanquishing the greedy Minotaur was that of being able to find the way out of the labyrinth once the monster had been slain. It was a difficulty which gravely puzzled Theseus.
It so happened, however, that Minos, king of Crete, had a daughter, Ariadne, who fell in love with Theseus as soon as he landed on Cretan soil. Pictured as Virgo in the sky, she had the Virgo trait of keen analysis. And it was she who devised the means by which, should her sweetheart triumph in his conflict underground, he should not wander about in the maze of bewildering caverns until he starved, but would be able to find his way back into the light of day.
She furnished him with a clew of thread—an incident which to this day makes the term clue significant of a hint which followed leads to the solution of a mystery or an intricate problem—one end of which she fastened at the opening of the cave. As he descended the long and tortuous passage he unwound the thread. As was to be expected, after a time he encountered the vicious Minotaur, which rushed suddenly upon him. But he was armed with the spear, which still he carries in the sky, and after a terrific battle the monster was slain.
Then came the task of finding his way back to where his beloved Ariadne anxiously awaited him. Carefully, as he walked and as he climbed over jagged rocks and worked around corners where the network of passages interlaced, he reeled in the line, ever following it through the darkness, never losing the sense of its touch.
Great was the joy of Ariadne when at last he appeared again above the ground, and great was the joy of the Athenians, who no longer would be compelled to sacrifice the fairest youths of their land to the demands of this hideous creature.
But is not every individual faced with very much the same type of conflict which confronted Theseus? Very few, indeed, are free from the attack of economic necessity. Nor can one remain passive and expect to escape unscathed. Financial demands are not to be ignored; they must be met, and it is better to meet them courageously, as Theseus did, with the spear of critical analysis, which is a weapon specially designed for those born when the Sun is in this Bootes section of the sky.
Are we not all confined, as Theseus was, within a labyrinth of conflicting doctrines? Most of these are blind passages, leading nowhere through the dark. Theories abound, crisscrossing each other in a network so intricate that unless one has some clue to guide one to the light, about all that can be done is just to wander about amid darkness and confusion.
The Keyword for the decanate is Achievement; and the achievements of Theseus were great; but they were made possible only by that clew of thread which is the chief Virgo attribute, that is, by the power of discrimination. It is only through exercising the powers of discrimination to the utmost, only by following the thread thus discerned through careful analysis, that gradually one can extricate himself from the darkness and the confusion of false paths, to emerge into the full light of Truth.
It is this faculty which may be used to guide one through the intricate passages of life, which also can be used to determine the possibilities of the experiences encountered along the way.
Whatever the events that may be attracted into the life, it is possible to convert them into real values for the soul. The meeting of obstacles may be used to develop initiative and resourcefulness. The losses which occur may be used to build up fortitude. Difficulties when overcome teach how responsibilities can be carried. And thus each experience holds a lesson which can be used in later achievement.
Bearing upon these lessons the text associated with the constellation is: From Every Event of Life the Soul May Extract Value, Even as the Verdant Vine Transforms Indifferent Waters into Rich and Sparkling Wine.
The Twelve Labors of Hercules
One of the common tenets of astrology, ancient and modern, is that the influence of Saturn tends to attract work and heavy responsibilities. When, therefore, those of the olden time wished to comment in terms of universal symbolism upon the importance of labor, it is quite consistent that for the purpose they selected the Saturn decanate of the sign of labor. The Sun moves through this middle decanate of Virgo from September 3 to September 13.
Following the method of universal symbolism still further, which demands that the big influences in life shall be portrayed by equally large pictures, they traced, to represent that labor is essential to all worthwhile accomplishment, a man of heroic proportions in the sky. Hercules, mightiest of all the laboring men, has a constellation of vast extent.
Like Samson, who toiled grinding the grain held in the hand of Virgo while he was in the prison house, Hercules was successful in a number of valorous exploits, and was led to ultimate disaster through an unfortunate love affair. Like Samson also, whose final triumph was aided by two pillars, against which he pushed, placing one hand on each; the two pillars of Hercules perform a function in the Greek version of the ancient story. But the chief claim to renown was the performance by Hercules of his twelve great and self-imposed, labors.
No sign of the zodiac is bad, and no sign of the zodiac is good. No one sign can be singled out as better or worse than the rest. Each has its own special possibilities for good and its own special possibilities for evil. Every sign has its best qualities and its worst qualities, which are different than the best qualities and the worst qualities of other signs.
Thus is the work required of those born under the influence of each sign different than that required of those born under the other signs; but in all cases it consists of diverting the energies which might manifest through the less desirable qualities of the sign into channels which enable them to express through the better qualities of the sign.
The best quality and the worst quality of any sign express the same general type of energy but express it through different avenues. It is almost, or quite, impossible to convert the type of energy or the character qualifications denoted by one sign into those of another sign. But it is not a difficult matter to divert the undesirable expression of the energy or character into the desirable expression of the energy or character of the same sign. This is the work which Hercules undertook, and accomplished.
As there are twelve different signs, representing the deep-seated characteristics of the twelve different types of people, and as Hercules undertook to demonstrate how the worst quality could be diverted into the best quality for each of these types, he thus had twelve different labors to perform before he had finished.
While these twelve great labors, which illustrate to the individual how to convert the weaknesses peculiar to his character into expressions of strength, are the most noteworthy tasks accomplished by Hercules, he had a wide variety of experiences in connection with other endeavors.
It is through experience that man learns how to do things. And as the experiences of Hercules in performing his numerous tasks were so extensive, the Keyword given to this section of the sky is Experience. Those born while the Sun is in this decanate usually have a wide range of happenings in their lives.
If a day were to be set aside from all the year to honor the sacredness of work, to be correct in its astrological correspondence, it would have to be one of those during which the Sun is in the Hercules section of the zodiac. If, instead, festivities were instituted to eulogize political personages, we should expect them to be observed on Sunday. If they were to encourage art, we should expect Friday to be selected. Thursday would be more fitting to celebrate the attainment of wealth.
But the Moon rules the common people; those who sweat and toil and hope for jobs; and thus Labor Day falls on Monday, the day of the Moon, while the Sun is in that section of the sky pictured by the greatest toiler of which we have tradition.
Although Samson slew a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass, perhaps the most remarkable of his works was his use of foxes to destroy the crops of those who had treated him unjustly. Foxes, of course, in ancient times as well as in those more modern, are universal symbols of shrewdness and cunning.
When the cunning of one nation is pitted against the cunning of another, or shrewdness against shrewdness, as often we have witnessed the efforts of people, each to gain an unfair advantage over the other, there is sure to be ultimate disaster. The inevitableness of the destruction of the fruits of human labor which follows such antagonisms, either among people or among the thought groups within the finer body of man, is well illustrated in the story of Samson’s foxes.
It seems that the Philistines were harvesting their grain; some of it still standing and some of it cut and placed in shocks. To avenge himself upon them Samson caught 300 foxes, paired them off, with the tails of each two united by a firebrand one end of which was tied to each of the tails.
The worst quality of the sign Virgo, of which Samson represents the middle decanate, is criticism. And the mental qualifications for keen criticism, as well as those for unfair bargaining, are well represented by a fox. Criticism, however, may be either constructive or destructive. It may point out a more advantageous way of doing something, a better line of conduct to be followed, in which case if the criticism is sound it may be helpful and constructive.
On the other hand, more frequently than not, [criticism focuses on] pointing out weaknesses without indicating how they may be strengthened, and faultfinding in general. This type of criticism often is engaged in by political opponents, by factions within an organization, and by people in their domestic associations.
When people are subject to such destructive criticism they are likely to reply in kind, and the heat of the controversy may be like a burning brand between them; the final consequences, so far as destructive to the fruit of labor, being quite similar to that so vividly described in the Bible as the result when Samson lighted the firebrands between the tails of the foxes and turned them loose.
The foxes ran frantically through the standing grain setting it afire. They tried to find shelter in the shocks of grain that had been cut and awaited to be taken to the threshing floor. And when the fields were thus ablaze they fled to the vineyards and olive groves hoping to find refuge from their torture. Instead, these also were ignited, so that the crops of the year, of all kinds, went up in flames. Nothing was left to the Philistines to show for their toil.
Such is the observed result of destructive criticism. It kindles the fires of hatred and destroys whatever labor already has accomplished. It is a consuming influence which leaves nothing in its wake but bitter ashes. And it is just as destructive when directed against self as when applied to the endeavors of others.
The constant calling attention to the faults and imperfections of any person, including oneself, brings the image of the undesirable action or quality before the unconscious mind. When we think about a thing we are supplying it with thought energy. Therefore, the more we think about an undesirable thing the stronger it becomes within our unconscious mind. Traits of character feed upon the attention given them.
This does not signify, of course, that we should ignore our weaknesses nor neglect to strengthen them. But finding fault, especially when such criticism arouses an emotional reaction, merely impresses the defect more strongly, through the power of suggestion, upon the unconscious mind, and makes it more difficult to overcome. Children who are continually criticized by their parents are receiving strong suggestions which increase the difficulty of adhering to a better line of conduct. And, likewise, the more we find fault with ourselves, the more we feel dissatisfied with ourselves the more powerful becomes the thing within ourselves which causes the dissatisfaction. If it gains enough strength through such internal dissension a consuming fire is lighted within which, like Samson’s foxes, destroys the fruit of effort.
Constructive criticism, on the other hand, while recognizing a weakness as such, or that a type of conduct is unworthy, does not dwell upon this aspect of the matter. Instead, it concentrates its attention and energy upon the correct line of conduct or the proper way to strengthen the observed weakness. The thought energy thus flows into and feeds the action which is desired instead of its opposite. In this manner not only is the mental image of the thing desired strengthened, but the image of the undesired thing is weakened through lack of thought nourishment.
In self culture it is quite as important to feel satisfaction when the best is done as to recognize when one is living below one’s possibilities. If more is expected than lies within the powers to accomplish, there will be certain failure and accompanying dissatisfaction. This feeling, in turn, directs energy into channels which are destructive, and lessens the ability in the future.
On the other hand, it is quite as easy for some individuals to feel that they are living up to their possibilities when they are living far below them. Their appraisal of their abilities is too low, and they have a feeling of satisfaction from accomplishment which is much less than it should be. Yet even this does not signify that they should be critical of themselves in the destructive sense; but merely that they should recognize that they should strive for a more lofty goal.
Because we learn to do through effort directed at accomplishment the text is: Perform Conscientiously Whatever Work Comes to Thy Hand, and Because of Thy Experience, Greater Things to Perform Will Be Given Thee.
How Job Triumphed Over His Afflictions
Because illness and affliction so frequently burden the life of man we have a right to expect that those who formulated the spiritual doctrines of the past, which were intended to explain the significance of events and how to take advantage of them, should have commented on these tribulations in their symbolic writing in the sky.
It is true that the constellation Virgo, and the story of the punishment of Eve for partaking of the tree of experience which conferred knowledge set forth in sufficient detail the advantages of material incarnation with its variegated contacts, including labor and displeasures. But it would seem that trials and pain were sufficiently important in the lives of most that they should receive more explicit mention; and this they do, for the last decanate of the harvest sign gives them vivid portrayal.
Let us in imagination place ourselves in the position of those who drew the pictured figures in the heavens, and consider that it was their intention to symbolize in most fitting fashion the tribulations which beset most lives. First of all, the most appropriate section of the zodiac must be chosen, and in making this selection the tenets of practical astrology would be consulted.
Virgo in a natural birth chart rules the house that governs not only work, but also illness and servitude, the most common afflictions of human life. When the Sun is in this sign it is moving toward the Autumnal Equinox where days and nights are equal, and after crossing which the forces of death prevail and the nights become longer than the days. The forces of Light are still triumphant while the Sun remains in any part of Virgo, but the closer the Sun draws to the next sign, Libra, the weaker becomes the power of Day, and the more is Night able to inflict its encroaching power of evil upon the solar waning strength.
The last decanate of Virgo, where the Sun may be found from September 13 to September 23, therefore, is the most appropriate place in all the zodiac to represent the afflictions to which man is heir, and his persecution at the hand of fate. The writer of Revelation seems to have recognized this when he speaks of the pain accompanying birth, commencing the 12th chapter thus: "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars."
Having selected the place of tribulation in the zodiac, if it were desired to indicate that the proper attitude toward such afflictions would adequately be rewarded, the next step in starry portrayal would be the selection of some object significant of high honors attained. A crown is such an object, used throughout the ages as a reward for victory or as a mark of distinction. Thus was it used to denote the triumph over the afflictions symbolically associated with this last decanate of the summer signs.
Bearing in mind that the Sun takes just ten days to pass through this decanate of tribulations pictured by a crown, not of twelve stars, as poetically expressed by St. John the Divine, but of twelve iron spikes, it would be difficult to explain the significance of this section of the zodiac, or the ancient teachings regarding it, more concisely than he did in Revelation 2:10.
"Fear none of those 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 unnecessary here more than merely to point out that the Sun each year dies on the Autumnal Cross of Libra, even as the Son of Man gave up His life on Calvary; or that preceding this far-reaching tragedy the gentle Nazarene was vilely persecuted and made to wear a crown of thorns, of similar purport to Corona Borealis placed by the ancients in the sky to mark the tribulations of the Sun before it temporarily succumbs each year to the forces of darkness.
The fruits of life, whether they be tares or wholesome grain, are harvested from experience. What that harvest shall be is not determined by the nature of the experiences, but by the mental and emotional reaction toward them; for both the physical conditions attracted in the future, and the spiritual values garnered, are dependent upon the seeds of thought thus sown and tended in the finer form and heading into character. In the final winnowing all except the golden grain of character is blown away as tares and chaff.
Constellated Virgo teaches the advantage of physical life if man is to acquire that variety of experience which enables him to gain wisdom. In addition to the character weaknesses of each sign, which Hercules shows how to overcome, each zodiacal sign also is associated with its own particular type of affliction.
The illness that one sign brings is not the same as that indicated by another. The loss attracted by one sign when it is discordant, is not the same type of loss which another sign brings when acting as an affliction. Thus are there twelve different sets of difficulties attracted from without which man should understand.
To represent these, the crown used to picture the reward of character triumphing over tribulations was given twelve spikes of hard, unyielding iron; one spike for each type of affliction. Such is the significance of Corona Borealis.
Because the call of duty so frequently when followed leads to the relinquishment of fond desires, and because those born while the Sun is in this last decanate of Virgo so frequently must hear this call, the Keyword appropriately is Renunciation.
One whole book within the Bible is devoted exclusively to a discussion of the spiritual teachings which those still more ancient sought to picture as the Northern Crown. In the Book of Job many wise sayings relative to life and its problems can be found and the story of the afflicted hero is replete with sage advice.
Job was an unusually devout man who had prospered exceedingly in all ways and gave constant praise to God for his many blessings. But there came a day when the sons of God came before the Lord, and as so frequently happens on earth when good people gather together, Satan came among them.
"And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." Thus was such an answer given as might be expected at this day.
In the course of the conversation which followed, the Lord pointed out to Satan what a fine, upstanding man Job had proved to be. But Satan, like some people, who glory in tearing apart the merits of all who receive commendation, was unwilling to admit the worthiness of anyone. He contended that Job was a good man because the Lord had taken care of him and given him everything he wanted; but that if these things were taken from him his holiness would soon depart. So it was arranged that a test be made with Satan to have power over him in all ways except that he must not touch his body.
Thereupon, in one catastrophe after another, Job lost his property and his children, until he had nothing left. But with the wisdom of those conversant with Spiritual Alchemy he maintained that these things were merely given to him to use so long as it served the Lord’s good purpose.
Satan was much chagrined at the outcome of the trial, and as might be expected of Satan, he whined around that it had not been a fair trial, that in any proper test the man’s health also must be subject to affliction, for, after all, it was not much of a blow, no matter what a man lost, so long as he kept hearty and well.
Thus was it arranged for a second trial in which Satan should do anything he desired to Job so long only as he spared his life. Then it was that Job’s friends turned against him, that he broke out from head to foot with boils, and that one misery after another came to afflict him, and in his wisdom he gave voice, among other things, to this oft’ quoted thought:
"For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me."
In addition to the chemical reaction to the emotion of fear, which in Job’s case seems to have depleted his adrenaline supply to a point where he was unable to resist infection, to fear a thing is to hold its image vividly in the mind and to feed that image mental energy. It thus creates a thought form which has a certain power, acting from the four-dimensional plane, to attract into the life the thing thus thought about.
In his time of affliction Job’s friends held forth the oriental doctrine that man’s lot in this world is determined by his morality, and that the Lord must be punishing him thus for grievous sins. But Job held that even the afflictions he suffered were for some good purpose.
If individuals are undergoing training to fit them each for a different function in the cosmic organization, each will attract to himself just those experiences he needs to develop the required abilities. Accomplishment of any kind implies the ability to overcome difficulties. People who have never had hard problems to solve are unable to solve hard problems when suddenly presented.
Afflictions, therefore, as Job discerned, are not bestowed by heaven to punish man for sin, but to indicate that he has a lesson to learn. When he has learned this lesson he will be able to triumph over the affliction, as Job did in the end; for Job was healed, and the Lord gave him twice as much as he had before, and he lived a long and prosperous life. The text thus indicated is: He Who Would Live the Life of the Spirit, Here and Now Upon this Earth, Seen and Known of Men, Must Have Fortitude in Times of Adversity.