THE NATURE OF SUBSTANCE
Taken from the book The Nature of Substance, Rudolf Hauschka.
We must now try to dispel some of the confusion prevailing on the subject of zodiacal signs and constellations. At the start of our era the sun rose on the first day of spring, March 21, in the constellation Aries. This point on the horizon is called the vernal point. In our discussion of nitrogen we mentioned the fact that it takes the vernal point one Platonic year (25,920 sun-years) to complete one round of the Zodiac. Thus far, in the approximately 2,000 years that have elapsed, the vernal point has progressed far enough to rise in the constellation Pisces. The spring sun in the northern hemisphere no longer rises in Aries, as it did, but in Pisces. Astrology, however, continues to place the vernal point under the sign of Aries, and to say that Aries is to be called the spring sign for all future reference. Looked at in this way, the vernal point becomes a mere convenient device for anchoring a system of coordinates. The division of the Zodiac into twelve equal segments, called by the traditional names of the twelve zodiacal constellations, made it necessary to distinguish constellations from the so-called ‘signs’ thus arbitrarily created. This explains why the ‘signs’ of the Zodiac are already one whole constellation behind the real positions of the stars and will fall still further behind as time goes on.
We must take into account the fact that the zodiacal constellations vary considerably in size and that the heavens are not divided into twelve equal segments. When in the following pages we associate the twelve months with the twelve constellations, we have only a very rough correspondence in mind.
We showed above how cosmic forces interact in the formation of starch:
Starch is the product of cosmic fire, cosmic life and cosmic formative forces. Three substances, hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, are the end-products of its dissolution. We sought traces of their cosmic origin in their physical and chemical behaviour. Protein may similarly be described as the product of an interweaving of four cosmic principles:
Now where are these cosmic signposts pointing? What is the origin of these substances which seem to be the basis of all organic nature?
If we follow the activity of hydrogen in the living kingdoms through a whole year’s cycle, it obviously reaches a maximum in high summer. The most intensive etherealization of plant substances takes place at this warmest time of the year. Seeds start to ripen, and oil, materialized cosmic fire, begins to form in them.
High summer comes in August in the northern hemisphere, the month when the sun passes through the constellation of the Lion, which has always symbolized flaming courage and all such fiery attitudes of soul. Old Oriental picturings of lions express this characteristic in a flaring mane which surrounds the head like a golden sun-aura. It may be assumed that the representations of zodiacal figures found in old calendars retain something of the ancient wisdom hidden in pictures. These were the work of priests of olden times, and were never arbitrary, but rather pictorial records of what they knew about the Zodiac. Naturally, these pictures are not to be grasped by a trifling approach, nor are they meant to portray physical animals. They are to be thought of as depicting processes and activities in artistic and pictorial, but at the same time real, images. They were a very real experience to men of old.
The cosmos was recognized by the ancients to have twelve distinctly different phases of activity, and they therefore ascribed twelve characteristics to these heavenly forces. And though we have lost the capacities that conceived these images, we can still feel the truth they symbolize if we approach them with artistic and unprejudiced sympathy.
Leo, the lion, is in this sense the representation of fire-related forces raying from his segment of the universe into all levels of activity and manifestation: the soul-spiritual, the biological, the mineral. Their final manifestation is in hydrogen and its activity; here the sublime process comes to rest. One cannot help thinking of the adage, ‘Matter is the last step on the path of God.’
Oxygen, on the other hand, reaches the climax of its activity in nature when the earth is saturated with the fertile moisture of melting snow or mild spring showers, the season when sap begins to stream through roots and stems and there is stirring and germinating everywhere.
This is the moment just before the coming of spring in the north, toward the last part of February, when the sun is passing through Aquarius, ‘the water-carrier’. Here is a picture of fertility, the ancient symbol of an activity that blessed and fertilized the earth. Streams of quickening water drench the land and summon into earthly appearance all manner of living forms. This is the opposite pole to Leo’s fire-process, and is therefore more to the fore at the opposite season. Oxygen is active at the time when all through nature life is being carried over into physical form with the inflow of fertilizing, saturating water. High summer is the season of oxygen’s polar opposite, hydrogen: a subtle fire-process, which everywhere dissolves form and etherealizes matter. These two processes are as opposite in character as the two zodiacal figures Leo and Aquarius are in space.
An objection everyone is sure to raise is that in the tropics, the southern hemisphere and at the poles, plants go through their various life stages at a quite different season. In this connection, let us consider the following.
What might be called the classical cycle of the seasons is a phenomenon of the temperate zones. … And this normal cycle depends on a balance being kept between terrestrial and cosmic forces. This leads to a harmonizing rhythm between the changing relationships of earth and sun (as cosmic representative). Where earth forces gain the upper hand, as at the poles, or where life is dominated by cosmic radiating forces, as at the equator, …, one-sided conditions result.
Goethe gave the key to a quite new way of looking at all the phenomena of nature with his theory of colour, which cannot be too highly valued. Between the poles of light and darkness live the rhythms inherent in colour; between cosmos and earth arises the wealth of rhythmic life-phenomena of the earth’s surface; between poles and equator the rhythmic alternation of the seasons comes into being. The Goethean concept of the two poles and a third new element, rhythm, which reconciles these two extremes, throws fresh light on everything in the organic kingdom. Light and darkness create the rainbow; earth and cosmos create the living kingdom of the earth.
The earth itself is a living organism — a fact still familiar to Kepler. The zone between the poles and the equator is the scene of manifold rhythmic phenomena that mirror cosmic rhythms.
For the earth, the regular succession of the seasons is like human breathing. We have shown how cosmically regulated this breathing rhythm is — a reflection of the sun-rhythm of the Platonic year. But the head and the metabolism of man, which correspond to the earthly polarities of pole and equator, have their own independent rhythms. Therefore cosmic rhythms are mirrored only in the middle region of both man and earth.
Details of such interrelationships are very complex. But if one approaches them with a feeling for the whole picture, many phenomena of earth and cosmos will disclose their secrets.
Now let us return to the question: Where is aerogen (nitrogen) most strongly active? We recall the description given earlier of the forming of protein. It begins with visits of butterflies, bees and beetles to the flowers, where nitrogen’s mobility enables seeds to form. This process coincides with the blossoming of plants, the swarming of insects, with the wind carrying pollens of grass and blossoming grain over the countryside.
Such are the main events of the end of May in the north, when the sun is passing through the constellation Taurus. Again, all this is in keeping with the ancient view, which used the Bull as symbol of the forces of motion. Nowhere do we find an old portrayal of a bull lying still and peaceful in a meadow; he is always depicted charging, or otherwise most active. In none of the twelve zodiacal images is movement as much emphasized as it is in Taurus. This sign is clearly the image of universal, all- inclusive forces of movement, which are active at all possible levels, down to the final one: the forming of nitrogen. Thus the zodiacal region from which forces of movement issue is called Taurus, the Bull.
Now the opposite pole of motion is fixity. just as we showed nitrogen to be the carrier of motion, so carbon was described as the carrier of form. Carbon is nature’s great stabilizer. It forms the scaffolding in plants, animals and man.
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