Initiation is the energetic keynote associated with the four fixed signs of the zodiac –Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. These four signs are the gateways through which the galvanizing dynamism of the universe flow. This is depicted in the Tarot’s World card, where each of the four fixed signs occupy a corner of the field, overseeing and coloring a certain expression and quality of power — its entry, consolidation (thus the word: fixed) and movement through our world.
Conversely, the release of power, the movement of power towards a new aim, tends to be where the fixed signs jam-up. Think of if for yourself: the difficulty of letting go of something that you have invested time and attention to — the challenge of accepting the need for transformation — to allow for a new experience and new order to prevail. This is essentially what initiation is about. Going from one grade to another. Though, as Gurdjieff taught, without some form of shock, at the right moment in the process, the descending or regressive movement predominates.
Initiation involves moving from experience, or knowledge, towards understanding. And this is the challenge with each of the four fixed signs. The need to expand but also the need to preserve. How to do both? It’s a mystery. One must evolve towards disseminating or devolve into entropy. This is why full moons in the fixed signs are generally fraught with drama and anguish. The sense is: “I’m stuck but don’t know the way out.” With the fixed signs there is always a price. Literally and figuratively. The fixed signs are the money signs of the zodiac — money being a symbol for consolidated power; so always payment of some kind is involved. You relinquish or pay — with ‘this’ to get ‘that.’
When force stalls in the fixed signs you can think of the condition as a kind of constipation. And you know how that goes: The more we think about wanting to shit the more difficult it becomes to do so. A rather crude analogy, but it’s fitting and reveals one of the core mysteries of the fixed signs, namely the direct comprehension that: “Nothing in the universe changes until God decrees it.” Thine will, not mine.
And that’s the whole secret about working with the force of the fixed signs, we fall in line with our proper place in The Great Scheme of Things. We are here as a witnessing presence, channeling the creative dynamism within the universe (which we are simply another expression of as well.) Who is really in control, given the magnitude of this realization and alignment?
The August 16 full moon touches the 25th degree of Leo and Aquarius. It is through the individuation process and lessons of personal love, as represented by Leo that we awaken to the boundless, less localized, less conditioned expression of love, represented by Aquarius. We learn to love ourselves first (Leo) before we are able to love others (Aquarius).
Oddly, the Sabian symbols for tonight’s full moon highlight the process of emotional austerity and the transmutation of the emotional body through the initiation of self-reliance. A “going it alone” (Leo) to develop a greater capacity for love (Aquarius).
The symbol for 25 Leo is: “A large camel is seen crossing a vast and forbidding desert.” Dane Rudhyar‘s keynote for this symbol is: “Self-sufficiency in the face of a long and exhausting adventure.” He notes in his interpretation:
“The camel here represents a living organism that is able to sustain itself independently of its environment at the start of a trying journey … The organism carries within itself what is absolutely needed for survival.”
He sees this symbol applying to anyone about ready to undertake the arduous journey of spiritual development — or a going further in their already involved process of self-realization. One leaves the conventional, familiar world and crosses a place of ‘unknowing’ (the desert) to arrive in the new world. What will sustain him through the journey is a quality of “emotional self-reliance.” As Rudhyar writes: “…having absorbed the mental food which this old culture has given us, we are ready to face “the desert,” nothingness…until we reach the “new world.” We need total independence from our surroundings and utter self-reliance.” This is very much a kind of Dark Night of the Soul experience, as written about by Saint John of the Cross.
And now the symbol for 25 Aquarius, where the full moon will reside tonight. Again the Sabian symbol from Rudhyar: “A butterfly with the right wing more perfectly formed.” He delineates this as such: “The capacity to develop the rational and fully conscious aspect of the mind ahead of normal evolution.”
He defines this as: “A strong process of conscious individualization is suggested, perhaps at the expense of the instinctual-emotional aspect of the personality (it’s “left side”).” This phase, he continues, “deals with the management of human energies at the emotional level; here management means overcoming — this, on the basis of negative or ego-challenging experiences. This…symbol refers thus to the results of a transmutation of emotional energies.”
How to combine both of these dynamic symbols? Emotional maturing is implied, but a maturing that involves our autonomy, and not our normal sense of relating with the world around us. The conscious decision to cross the barren desert, to go it alone, becoming self-sufficient isn’t an easy task. We rely on our human relations to provide mirroring and shore up our familiar sense of self. And yet here, during this full moon time, there is an opening, an opportunity to forgo the familiar and strike off into the unknown, to a new land (a new way of experiencing our self and the world) — but the price is solitude.
Self-reliance then, might show us that we have capacities and skills much greater than we acknowledged — the butterfly emerges from her cocoon a hybrid of sorts. But it’s only through the ordeal, the initiation into aloneness, experiencing the unknown, placing our faith in that part of ourselves that wants to travel further, and the higher force of love that guides the entire journey.