Gemini Solar Festival
Goodwill Festival at the Full Moon in Sagittarius 2009
Malvin Artley, our regular esoteric commentator examines the subtle meaning of the Full Moon in Sagittarius for 2009. This is Gemini's Full Moon, as the Moon is full in the sign opposing the Sun. The full moon of Gemini (the full moon at Sagittarius 17º07') takes place on the 7th of June at 18:13 UT (13:13 PM EST in the US; 4:13 AM AEST on June 8 in Australia).
Greetings and Goodwill, Friends!
One of the things that really struck me when I first came to Australia was the number of foreign languages I heard when I would go out and do my work or mundane running around. It was a big change for me, coming from a little town in the south-eastern U.S. All I ever heard growing up in Burlington was the characteristic southern drawl (which I later found out Australians really seem to like), so to move halfway around the world into a larger city where there were people recently migrated from many foreign lands, it took a while for me to get my head around what was happening. It was a bit of culture shock for me, but I soon grew to love the variety, not the least of which was all the different types of food. Southern cooking is good, soul food, but at the time it was next to impossible to find a yiros, falafel, or even a cut of lamb in lil' ol' Burlington. Now there are Mexican restaurants all over, as well as just about any other sort of fare one would want, the street signs are bilingual there and there are accents from all over the country. I know. They were just waiting for me to leave so they could change everything around, just to mess with me for whenever I came back. The southern accent in Burlington is not such a ubiquitous thing any more. The world has changed a lot in 15 years, and my home town is no exception.
The pace of change in the world has been phenomenal. Barriers are coming down all over and in all walks of life. The NAFTA Treaty has changed the face of American culture, for instance, and there are a lot of Americans who are now questioning the wisdom of it. Still, the tendency toward union and fusion within the world goes on apace and we are all finding a need to adapt to sometimes quite dramatic and sudden changes in social conditions around us. Just as Americans have had to deal with the influx of Latinos (now the largest minority in the country), so too, the British are having their dealings with Islam due to immigration. It takes time to assimilate anything new, but people seem to adapt pretty quickly if left to their own devices. The biggest thing is not to be insular if one moves to a new land. It is the same in many parts of the world. Who knows where it will all take us? As soon as the old order gives way and new faces appear, though, old antagonisms we thought were gone or of little matter raise their heads again. Still, the 'foreigners' I have met here are great people on the whole and I certainly enjoy the exchange of cultures that has been possible since I have lived here, not to mention all the great food they bring with them. Did I mention that? It's a Gemini's dream!
Festival of Humanity
Gemini is probably one of the most important signs in terms of human development, hence the association of this particular solar festival with it. The Goodwill Festival is also sometimes called the 'Festival of Humanity', largely because it is a call to right human relations and a time when we receive the impulses that will lead in that direction for the year. Gemini has many names in the esoteric literature: 'The Forces in Conflict', 'The Quarrelling Brothers', 'The Twins', 'The Brothers Who Live in the Light', 'The Constellation of the resolution of duality into a fluid synthesis', conferring 'the intelligent work of at-one-ness', the 'fusion of the opposites', the 'experience of the opposites', and the 'pronounced and separative duality'.
It is said that Gemini, "...guards the mystery or secret of duality and presents the initiate with a word which leads to the fusion of the greater pairs of opposites." It represents the interplay of the Soul and the persona. It confers the Light of Interplay – the conscious Light of the relationship between Spirit and form. Gemini transmits "...the force which produces the changes needed for the evolution of the Christ consciousness at any particular point in time and space.” It is related to the etheric body, and thus to the subtle aspect of form in all the various grades of manifestation.
The two italicized points in the preceding paragraph point to why Gemini is so important in terms of human spiritual evolution, for Gemini is indicative of the general state of the mind of humanity. It is the exemplar of the human mind in all its aspects, in fact, especially with regard to the mind being the intermediary between the higher Self and the persona. It is also the obstacle to the realization of the higher Self. Why? If the reader is familiar with esoteric literature one would be quite familiar with the statement that, “The mind is the slayer of the real.” The reason why the mind keeps us from realizing things truly is that it is predominantly focused upon form instead of essence, shadow instead of Light. The human mind is held in bondage by the very concepts it espouses, the definitions that are fed to it, the mental models which are of everyone else's derivation and by its fixation upon the form of things (and hence their perceived permanence or reality) rather than upon the true source of things.
In short, until the human mind begins to mark and trace the course of the arising of things and events and their inevitable subsidence and transformation into subsequent states (what Buddhists call 'dependent arisings' and 'adopting and abandoning in accordance with cause and effect'), the mind will keep itself and thus the persona intact and in bondage. The moment the mind begins to habitually 'mark and trace' spiritually, the wheel is turned and the inevitable day of full enlightenment and release from ignorance will come. These concepts bear expansion, for they are critical in our understanding of this festival and, ultimately, right human relations. What follows is a bit technical, but an understanding of it will point to what is really put in effect when Gemini is prominent in a chart.
In its lower aspect Gemini is ruled by Mercury. It is an air sign, marking it as more cerebral in its expression and application and the characteristic it is probably best known for in human terms is its exceeding fluidity and changeability. In the average Gemini type (one whose Ascendant or Sun is in Gemini) the statement, “Let instability do its work” is often seen as one of the sign's defining characteristics. Geminians are known for their penchant for variety in all matters. They are very quick and facile – mercurial, if you will – with a rapid grasp of situations, an ability to freely-associate sometimes great amounts of seemingly disparate data, a good ability with detail and a tendency at times to get lost within that detail. The Gemini, as a result, will become easily bored once the novelty of an idea has worn off (or the novelty of a person, for that matter) and they will move on to the next idea or person that catches their interest, for curiosity is also a trademark of the sign. In fact, what has just been described here is an apt description of how the undeveloped human mind works.
Mad Monkey Mind
Many readers will have heard the term 'mad, monkey-mind' used with regard to the human mind. The base quality of mind is to want to differentiate itself somehow – to see itself as separate – to feel itself as an 'I', a self. As it seeks to do this it will engage itself with any passing current of thought and it will gauge those thoughts against its own constructs, thus either adopting or abandoning those thoughts according to its own fancy or proclivity. In this way the mind begins to form a sense of identity and it will persist in that so long as the models it has made for itself continue to be supported by the passing currents of thought. The mind thus 'modifies' all information passing before it and suits it to its own purpose. The sense of 'I' grows as a result. It is said the modifications of the mind are five-fold: right knowledge, wrong knowledge, fancy, sleep and memory. As the mind becomes adept at its ministrations the sense of ego grows in proportion. The mind will thus fixate upon all information just long enough for it to either incorporate it into its own construct or reject it out of hand. This flitting to and fro is the 'mad, monkey mind' and it is characteristic of the coarser aspects of mind – the mental elemental. This mind has its seat in the sacral chakra and it is unstable and ever-changing left to its own devices. The preceding description again, coincides with the lowest expression of Gemini.
The work of all spiritually-minded and focused people is to tame that mad type of mind and make it a useful servant rather than an end in and of itself. This training is one of the great values of the educational systems throughout the world and, in that respect, all positive education could be said to be eminently spiritual in its effects. The thrust of all goodwill work then, is primarily educational in nature. Education – the instilling of culture – is a momentous event in the life of the Soul, for it marks the beginning of the turning of the wheel (spiritual Law) and the reversal of the wheel, zodiacally-speaking. An educated mind is a stable mind and no spiritual work can proceed in safety without mental training. There are two major foci of mental training, however – worldly and spiritual. The worldly training suits one for finding a fit place within society and endows the person with the ability to make one's way and progress within that larger society. Spiritual training, which is largely mental in nature, turns the mind in on itself and away from worldly concerns toward something greater than itself. The moment the human mind is harnessed toward something greater than its own gratification the seeds of the human ego's destruction are sown. The primary work of mental training in the spiritual sense is the recognition of duality and utilising that sensed duality as a path toward liberation from the thraldom of the human mind and its attachments. Mental 'fixation' is, after all, but another name for attachment.
Fusion of Opposites
The recognition and utilization of duality in spiritual training is where the true value of the experience in Gemini really shines forth. What is meant by this? When we say that Gemini 'relates the pairs of the opposites' and 'leads to the fusion of the greater pairs of opposites', how is this useful to us here 'on the ground'? The answer to these questions lies in understanding the sense of 'I' that all of us have – the sense that we exist in and of ourselves. For the longest time we identify ourselves with our thoughts. “I think. Therefore, I am” comes to mind as an example of that. Gemini rules the human mind, and especially the intellect, in all its manifestations.
We identify consciousness with thoughts, but they are not the same. Thoughts are things and they arise in dependence on other factors. In Buddhism, for instance, there are many types of mind and even consciousness is assigned its own aggregate (body). However, the ultimate 'mind' or 'cognizer' is the Buddha nature itself – the tathagatagarbha – the Monad. The Monad is the true Knower, the ultimate 'mind', the Essence. The intellect relates the knower and the object to be known. The human mind is the coarse, concrete mind. This brings us to where the opposites become recognized, engaged and eventually transcended.
Three Primary Grades
We know there are three primary grades of human mind – coarse or concrete, abstract (subtle), and formless (most subtle). Of the three, it is the abstract mind (the middle level) that enables one to train the mad, monkey mind (the coarse, elemental mind) and thus to begin the process of at-one-ment which will eventually lead us to full enlightenment (Monadic realization). The most subtle aspect of the human mind stands more as a sentinel or beacon, beckoning the lower nature to enlightenment. The abstract mind, then, is the inferential, conceptual mind, which is loosely called the intellect. It is this conceptual mind which allows us to sense and see duality and to comprehend our place in the scheme of things. It works with symbols, and the ability to work in a facile manner with symbols and visualization marks one as having the intellect highly developed. Once that has been achieved by a person the field has been properly prepared for the work of spiritual mental training.
All spiritual training is aimed at creating an unobstructed path between the Knower and the lower nature (the known). In the mental aspect of that training one is taught to bring one's consciousness (what one can sense of it) to bear on a question or a form and to subject that to intense one-pointed analysis, but there is often not a rational answer or outcome to the exercise. Therein lies its great value. As the human mind is engaged with its task endlessly chasing its tail, as it were, in the pursuit of its goal there are factors unrecognized by the mind which are at work. The first factor is that the mind becomes fixated. Secondly, the fixation becomes intense and all-exclusive. Thirdly, the mind begins to recognize that there is no rational outcome – in other words, there is no known or familiar outcome – to the question. Fourthly, slowly it begins to dawn on the mind that there is something else directing the play and that the question at hand is empty of all rational basis. One of my teachers once told me that the true answers to things never lay in the realm of the reasoning mind. Soon (or later) in the process one begins to recognize a very subtle aspect of 'mind' beginning to enter the equation and the reasoning mind will eventually come to the realization that it is no longer lord and master. It is a very ego-destroying moment and a great event in the relation between the lower nature and the higher Self.
The Fifth Initiation
In its higher expression Gemini is concerned, in relation to humanity, with the development of what Buddhists term 'yogic valid inferential cognition', which is, in fact, the most subtle aspect of the human intellect. It is that intellect, meditatively focused, that ultimately takes the initiate to the very portal of Revelation – the direct realization of full enlightenment – or what we know in Theosophy as the fifth initiation, the initiation of the Revelation. It is also the type of intellect that enables the initiate to meditate upon 'the indissociable union of emptiness and great bliss', which is, in the end, the union of the greater pairs of opposites as far as humanity is concerned. The intellect that exemplifies 'valid inferential cognition' is of a type that relates the opposites – form and essence, Spirit and matter, self and not-self, knower and known, deus et daemon, whatever we wish to call them – and slowly but inexorably brings them together, to the point at which they merge and blend and one thus gains the realization that there is no separation between the two. This is the type of mind that one utilizes to build the antakarana, the 'rainbow bridge'.
The Fish in the River
For the benefit of the more technically-minded reader, a 'yogic inferential valid cognition' is defined in the Buddhist tenet system as:
“A wisdom which realizes directly either subtle impermanence or the coarse or the subtle selflessness of persons in dependence on a samadhi which is a union of calm-abiding and special insight, its uncommon controlling condition.”
– “A presentation of Tenets”, by Jampalyang Chokyi Gyeltsen
Without getting any more technical than that, what has just been defined is a very subtle type of meditative reasoning, which has its basis, as has been stated, a simultaneous adoption of calm-abiding [samatha] and insight [vipassana] meditation. Once engaged, the meditator one-pointedly focuses upon the object of meditation and employs a very subtle type of analytical meditation investigating the object. As this proceeds, the conceptual frame of reference through which the object is perceived starts to weaken until finally, through the process, the conceptual image disappears. At that point one gains a direct realization of one of the three objects of meditation and one becomes an Arya being (a person who has had direct realization of emptiness on the path of direct seeing). It is said that even though this type of mind is conceptual, it is a very precious and powerful mind because it is a mind that has realized its object through countless analyses. It is thus a very stable and unshakable mind, which is absolutely essential in the latter stages of meditative practice.
The Fish in the River
The type of subtle analysis posited in the preceding paragraph has been described by the analogy of a fish swimming in a rapidly-flowing river. The fish does not disturb the flow of the river. The fish is the consciousness of the yogic practitioner, able to swim to and fro to its desired destination in the midst of the constant stream of mental constructs passing before it, investigating all within the river of thought without disturbing it. The river is its home, its vehicle and its sustenance, but it is not the river. Therefore, consciousness is not the mind, if one sees the point, but it utilizes the mind to get to its point of destination, which is the direct realization of the object through the transcendence of conceptual thought. It is this subtle relating of the objects of meditation (thought) with an aim toward their direct realization (the 'union of the opposites') which is the true gift of Gemini, its highest expression in human terms and its modus operandi with regard to all spiritual work.
In conclusion of our consideration of the work of Gemini for this installment, we noted that Gemini guards the "secret of duality and presents the initiate with a word which leads to the fusion of the greater pairs of opposites”. This fusion of the greater pairs of opposites refers to the Buddhist union of Great Bliss and Emptiness in meditation, Great Bliss being the transcendental consciousness (nirvana) and Emptiness being the essential nature of all forms – space. Gemini thus applies to the very highest states achievable in meditative practice, the 'word initiation' being the highest initiation in and integral to the practice of the Tantras. The 'evolution of the Christ consciousness', in which Gemini plays an integral part, is the building of the antakarana. The changes needed for that are those points of turning in the long evolution of the Soul which leads one to finally abandon the outward focus of the mind and begin its training, ultimately to the point of 'yogic valid inferential cognition'. Christ consciousness is, for lack of better terminology, the realization of union. As we realize that there is no separation between object and perceiver, we then come to realize there is no separation between ourselves and other perceivers as well. The path of the Bodhisattva is this path of union.
In part two of this article, Malvin Artley continues his exploration of the esoteric meanings of the Goodwill Festival at the Full Moon in Sagittarius for 2009.
Read part two of The Gemini Goodwill Solar Festival