Pisces Solar Festival
Subtle Meanings of the Full Moon in Virgo 2009
Malvin Artley, our regular esoteric commentator, says he has had a lot on in the past few weeks, but felt that the current energies (which will be important over the year ahead) needed to be examined. He has classed these under the Solar Festival title for the sake of consistency, even though the Full Moon by now has passed. So here follows the subtle meaning of the Full Moon in Virgo for 2009. This is Pisces's Full Moon, as the Moon is full in the sign opposing the Sun. The Full Moon of Pisces (the Full Moon at Virgo 20º 40') takes place on the 11th of March 2009 at around 02:39 UT (GMT).
Today, aside from being the day of the full moon and thus the peak day of the Pisces Solar Festival for this year, is also a very auspicious day in the Tibetan Buddhist calendar as well, for it marks the 15th day of Monlam Chenmo, and is otherwise known as the 'Day of Miracles'. For that reason I will set aside my usual tradition of beginning my letters with a personal story and begin this letter with a distinctly Buddhist 'feel'.
We normally associate Pisces and the Piscean Age (at least in the West) with Christianity and the historical figure of Jesus, his life, crucifixion and resurrection, along with all the miracles he manifested in his service in order to inspire his own disciples and the humanity of the day and region, but Buddha Shakyamuni manifested many miracles as well in his ministry, a point which is unknown to many people in the West.
This is also an important time in the Tibetan calendar for another reason. Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the uprising against Chinese rule in Lhasa that eventually forced the Dalai Lama to leave that land and his people and start his life and government in exile. Most people would probably agree that it would take nothing short of a miracle to restore autonomy to Tibet, not to mention independence (and HH the 14th Dalai Lama has said that he does not want that anyway) and end the suffering of the Tibetan people. Pisces, and indeed all the astrological signs, transcends any religious, philosophical or human construct, but the symbology of the sign and its effects are, by the same token, felt and expressed throughout every aspect of human life.
The Realm of Miracles
We know about the life and teachings of Jesus in the West and especially his miracles, and generally take them as allegory given the proclivity for people in the West to subject everything to scientific reductionism, unless we are more fundamentalist in our thinking. I mean, really – if we were to actually witness or experience a bona fide miracle, would we believe what we saw or experienced? Probably not, so jaded have we become. Undoubtedly, some skeptic would come along at some point with great fanfare and a media blitz and 'discredit' the wonder with which we had been blessed. I put 'discredit' in single quotes because no worldly science can ever truly prove or disprove a miraculous occurrence, precisely because the realm of miracles is either just or completely beyond the ken of worldly science or existence.
Therein lies the potency and especially the gift of the miracle. Miracles are meant to inspire us, to show us there is something greater and beyond this world of ours and that there is a force or are forces outside our consciousness that hold sway over all that we know. That was precisely the intent and result of all the miracles that the great Teachers of the world, such as Jesus and the Buddha and many others, evidenced for us: to inspire us to their own attainments and to release us from our suffering and bondage to worldly life, to shake our minds in order for us to see the world and our lives anew and in truth and to show us something which we all-too-often forget and relegate to the unattainable: spiritual possibilities and the fact that the spiritual world does indeed hold ultimate sway over material existence.
With regard to the preceding comments, it is indeed a fortunate person who encounters first-hand what we might call the 'spiritual friend' (Skt. kalyana mitra). The term is bandied about in New Age circles and media as some sort of pleasant association wherein people can explore various aspects of spirituality together in a convivial atmosphere without too much fuss or bother. Spiritual friendship is seen as a kind of platonic, pleasant and especially a non-confronting relationship with the 'friend'. To the person of serious intent, though, the term 'spiritual friend' has a very different meaning and, if such a person is met and earnestly engaged, one's life will never thereafter be the same. If one's true spiritual friend is thus encountered and a real and lasting commitment to the 'friendship' is enjoined and maintained then steadily and consistently – one-by-one or in a heap – one's bondage to preconceptions is broken and steady progress to one's spiritual goals is ensured. It can, at times, be a very tumultuous relationship – and it is often so.
The friendship may start out unassumingly enough, but it always ends up being quite unlike anything we ever expected, thankfully so, and it will shake us to our foundations until we finally and fully realize who we are ourselves: one with the 'Light of the World', saviours of ourselves, 'like unto God'. It is a relationship that lasts usually for many lifetimes and most often until we achieve full spiritual realization. Really, the spiritual friend saves us from ourselves, in a manner of speaking. It is this 'Light of the World' and salvation which are the key notes of the sign Pisces and all the world saviours throughout time have been exemplars of what would truly be called the 'spiritual friend'. These people also produce miracles in our lives, though often unperceived as such at the time, in order to spur us toward that goal.
We could, in truth, call the Pisces Solar Festival the 'Festival of the Spiritual Friend'. What are the characteristics of such a friend? To begin with, the spiritual friend is one who comes along to shake us out of our slumber – what Buddhists would call our 'bondage to worldly appearances', or to preconceptions – samsara, in other words. The signs of his or her coming are manifold and misconstrued in the beginning. An illness, the birth of a child, a death, a book that finds its way to us, a 'chance meeting': any such common occurrence can be a doorway that can lead us to uncommon realizations and to the kalyana mitra. The kalyana mitra is one who is like an older brother or sister along the Way. In other words, they encourage us, guide us and help us in whatever happens to be our spiritual path. Such a friendship is rare and precious indeed, but it is not an easy one. The true spiritual friend always mirrors us to ourselves. It is not an easy thing to behold one's actions in the mirror-like clarity of truth. There have been many times in my own life, for instance, where I have not liked what I saw about myself, especially when it has been pointed out to me by someone I thought was my friend (and indeed they were, if you get my point). But the discomfort of that has pushed me to look at things anew and many good things have come as a result. I am a better person for having had to look at myself. In that way, at least, every person with whom we have relations of whatever type has it within them to be a spiritual friend to us in some way.
The spiritual friend to which I refer to in this context, however, has a much more profound meaning in one's life. If one really does find his or her spiritual friend (and we all have many), then such a person can be really quite spiritually ruthless – they will stop at nothing to awaken us to our higher Self. The realm of the Soul is their domain. They live in a state of constant happiness – a state of bliss, if the truth be known. And, they want us to attain such a state ourselves. This is one of their defining characteristics: they are always happy, even joyful in whatever they do. Nothing seems to rattle them. I have known such people. The room lights up when they enter. They spend their days totally in service to others, yet their words can go straight to the mark and they leave no doubt about one's next steps ahead and what one has to put aside to get there. It can be an uneasy relationship, yet to be away for too long can produce the most intense longing, but it is not a longing for material or worldly matters. It is a longing to be free, to be like that person and to achieve the lasting happiness that they experience in every moment. To such a friend, their kindness can never be repaid, except in doing the same for others. To be around them is a blessing, an inspiration and an opportunity to witness a living example of what can be attained if one puts forth effort coupled with strong faith. Their happiness is contagious, their compassion all-encompassing. They are living exemplars of what is possible in terms of spiritual attainments.
Modern astrology posits Neptune as the ruler of Pisces, but in years past Jupiter was the ruler of the sign. Both planets are valid rulers of Pisces. Esoteric rulership places Pluto firmly as the ruler of the sign. If Pisces is an indication of the kalyana mitra, do these planets indicate such?
As it turns out, they do. Jupiter, the 'old ruler', governs expansion of consciousness and the law of supply in our solar system. The spiritual friend expands our energy fields, especially if such a friend is a fully realized (enlightened) being. Such a being is what we would term a guru, Bodhisattva, living Buddha, avatar, or whatever one's tradition designates as an exalted being. Jupiter, above all else, governs empowerment, and the fully enlightened being has the capacity to bestow empowerment upon a person. Such empowerments enable one to progress along the Way with much greater facility and speed than would otherwise be possible. There is thus a bond formed when such an empowerment is given and – little-registered to the consciousness of the student – such a bond is cemented by the teacher and is taken on for the fullness of the student's tenure on the path. There is a quickening that comes with empowerments (initiations), often initially quite to the dismay of the student because such empowerments call for the clearing away of obstacles to the path undertaken. It is truly a case of being careful what one asks for because we might actually get it. That is to say, any issues that stand in the way of the realization of the path of the empowerment can and do come up for clearing (purification) and will do so quickly once empowerment is given.
Neptune: Spiritual Truth
Neptune as the ruler of Pisces governs truth in all its aspects and the overcoming of self-deception, especially. Neptune is representative of one's spiritual truth, the highest aspects of one's nature. Neptune rules Dharma to a large extent, especially that aspect of Dharma which leads to the acquirement of the 'enjoyment' or 'bliss body' – the Sambhogakaya – which in Theosophical terms is most closely approximated by buddhi, or the intuitional plane. Once one steps onto the path there is no room for falsehood or ordinary appearances, for such appearances are deceptive. Dharma is truth and truth alone, and the 'pot at the end of the rainbow' with Dharma (which is Sanskrit for the union of right religion, right philosophy and right science – the Law) is bliss, a divine state wherein no separation is known. All is one. All worldly concerns dissolve into emptiness – shunyata, the 'Mystic Fullness of Space'. 'Emptiness' in this respect is not nihilism or negation. It is the realization that all things arise in dependence on causes (karma) and they have no inherent existence on their own. Knowing this, we see that all worldly matters are transitory and temporary at best. Every experience becomes a springboard to something else. Every object is the same.
There is naught in bliss but truth. We can, perhaps, see in the preceding sentences why the action of Neptune is often seen as such a detrimental influence in human relations and worldly affairs. Neptune, in reality, is completely beyond the ken of worldly existence. It dissolves all of our preconceptions and attachments. It is the 'divine clarifier'. This is exactly what the spiritual friend does for us: They hold our eye up to the mirror of truth and show us the real in life, which is often contrary to what we believe in the beginning. They show us the oft-times folly of our attachments to things, circumstances, outcomes and even people. It is this attachment to the ephemeral that brings us suffering, precisely because worldly matters always have a term or length of life. The only thing that matters after we realize such a thing is that we do things in our lives that have real meaning, which is not chasing after things or temporal fulfillment. What ultimately becomes important to a person who has realized such is service – ending the suffering of those dear to us, which is ultimately everyone. This is what the world saviours know and it is how they live.
Finally, Pluto breaks our bondage to attachments and shatters our illusions. Pluto is the handmaiden of Neptune, as I have stated in past letters. Pluto, put simply, is purification. Whenever Pluto is active in one's chart either through transit, progression or direction, then one can be certain that some process of purification is active in one's life. Pluto is very active in the world at this time, especially from now through 2010. Pluto prepares the field for planting by Neptune, in a manner of speaking. Purification is two things - distillation of a thing to its essence and the discarding of any obstructions to the full expression of that essence.
For people who have Pluto activating key points (luminaries or angles) in their chart, one can be certain that their life is one in which some aspect of their nature is being purified. If the Moon is affected, then it is clarification of needs and the release of the past, leading to freedom form emotional control. If the Sun is affected, then it is a testing of the ego in service and the clarification of purpose, leading to empowerment. If the horizon is affected, then Pluto stands as the ferryman leading to the higher realms and personal/relationship issues will plague the person until they 'get' the fact that 'it is nothing personal', if you understand my meaning. If the meridian is affected, then Pluto clears the path to the ashram, or one's inner or spiritual group. Such a one is tested sorely at times through domestic and/or public matters. The spiritual friend does all this for us, too. They highlight exactly where our obstructions are, what needs to be done to enable us to let them go and what seeds to plant in their stead. They show us how to 'make our affairs let go of us', in a manner of speaking.
Pisces does indeed indicate the spiritual friend – the kalyana mitra – as does the twelfth house in one's horoscope. The spiritual friend is a saviour and Pisces indicates the path of salvation in any world period. So, from what do we need salvation or where do we need to be more self-sacrificing this year? For some of the answers to that, let's have a look at the full moon figure for this Solar Festival of Pisces.
In part two of this article, Malvin Artley continues his exploration of the esoteric meanings of the Full Moon in Virgo and the cosmic influences under this important festivity. He examines the symbols for the degrees and the meanings of the aspects that affect us.
Read part two of The Pisces Solar Festival