Libra, the Scales
Libra and the Spirit of Natura
Libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac circle, is the only sign of the circle that does not show a person or an animal. Instead, it represents a pair of scales, holding the balance in dynamic stillness, thus showing the “middle way.” It resolves the tensions between the polarities and extremes that form the foundation of ourlives ,spanned between the yin and the yang, the microcosmic and the macrocosmic, earthly and heavenly, human and divine. Between these two weaves a dynamic conversation, represented in the zodiac by Libra.
In this conversation the “soul of the earth,” Natura, expands and contracts through the seasons of the year. In summer, she breathes out, extending towards the heights. She reveals her expanse though the growth of the plants, with their fragrances and colors, and through the air shot through with insects and birds.
As summer comes to an end, Natura returns to the body of the earth. Fruits are formed, seeds fall to the ground, and nature’s life forces contract into the darkness of the earth. Through the long months of winter, the earth holds counsel with her own inner self.
Libra is the zodiacal sign that marks the balance point between these two extremes, when the soul of the earth has withdrawn from the heights and prepares to retreat into the depths, which will be marked by the next sign, Scorpio. Libra marks the moment when, for a moment, the earth holds its breath, before the descent into the depths begins. Although in the sidereal calendar Libra has 30 days, as do all signs in the sidereal system, if we actually observe Libra in the sky we see that it is one of the smallest constellations, This explains why it is so short in the tropical calendar. It is a mere pause in the dynamic dance of the year, a blink of the eye, a flicker of time when equanimity is achieved.
Of course, these words describe the archetype of the zodiac circle as manifest in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. Different aspects of the cosmic dance are manifested in the southern hemisphere, as well as in the tropics and the arctic zones: these realities demonstrate the presence of extremes as they are balanced in Space (different regions of the globe) as well as in Time (the seasons of the year).
The spiritual balance and the Archangel Michael
Libra has an even deeper story to tell when we consider why it is poised between Virgo and Scorpio. Virgo, the mother, represents fertility and abundance. Scorpio is the sign of death. Juxtaposed as a small constellation between the two, Libra represents the free space that we must cultivate to find our path of balance between life and death.
A great spiritual being, the Archangel Michael is the archangel of autumn, who arms us with courage to enter the realms of darkness in the upcoming cold winter night. In our present age, the Archangel Michael shows us through his spiritual deeds how to walk the path of Libra. We can discover this in all the myriad legends of Michael and in the verses and songs which call upon him to give us strength for the battles we face.
The book of Revelations in the Bible (the apocalypse) writes of the (arch)angel in heaven who did battle with a fearsome dragon in heaven. This beast sought to destroy a child who was being born at that moment of the maiden in heaven. Michael cast the dragon down to earth, thereby rescuing the cosmic child, who represents the cosmic forces we all bear within us and our possible future. This theme was reiterated in countless legends from the middle ages, which showed Michael, the conqueror of the dragon, as the source of courage for knights.
As we strive to penetrate these symbols, we recognize the dragon as the spirit of darkness, of materialism. It threatens to chain us into a mechanistic world-view, estranging us from our birthright. If we can rightfully traverse the journey through this material world, we can evolve towards the radiant future that is promised to the humanity, the child of the heavenly maiden.
In this sense, Michael is the rightful guardian of the spirit of autumn, in which the earth begins to withdraw from the radiance of summer and enters the dark months of winter. We humans, living on the earth, make this journey with her, entering into the dark spaces of our own souls, corresponding to the mood of winter cold. For this we need courage and clarity.
One of the most pressing battles of our age is the struggle to prevent the materialistic world-view from convincing us that we are nothing but genetic predetermination, neurological processes and atomic processes. This world view threatens to chain us to the darkness of earth and cause us to abandon our divine nature. This is the true fight with the dragon of our age, who attacks the heavenly child, the spiritual Human Being.
We are called upon in our time to engage in the mighty struggle to become conscious of our inner self, who is living enchanted in this world of matter. The Archangel Michael represents in our age the power of clear thinking and consciousness. He embodies and serves cosmic intelligence, the brightness of thought that enables us to understand the meaning of existence and the struggle that we all have as we pass through this journey of living in matter to evolve towards becoming truly human, beings of love.
Libra in the human body
In the human shape, Libra rules the hips, and specifically the pelvic bones. These cradle the lowest parts of the metabolic tract and the reproductive organs, both of which are attributed to Scorpio. More importantly, they provide a firm structure to enable use to stand and to walk. These, of course, are the prerequisite for our journey upon the earth.
Because we are upright, our hips must differ from those of an animal. They must provide the foundation for us to be able to walk even while holding the head straight and quiet, and also while engaging the arms in independent activity. I invite you to take a moment to reflect on how the pelvic bones gently rock from side to side with every step that you take, like a set of scales that is constantly seeking and establishing the balance of the middle axis. You will feel that your upright spine is the fulcrum, around which the “pans” of the scales oscillate. We have thus embodied Libra, right into our skeleton.
Libra and the Spirits of Movement
In the last essays, I have shown that the sign of Leo powerfully embodies the energy of the lofty creator beings known as the Thrones, and that Virgo embodies the wisdom of the Kyriotetes. This next sign, Libra, bears the gesture of the Spirits of Movement, the Dynameis. In esoteric studies, these are beings that evolved beyond the harmonious quiescence of Ancient Sun, and initiated the cycle of evolution known as Ancient Moon. By enkindling the dynamic powers of attraction and repulsion, or sympathy and antipathy, they allowed the created world to begin to wax and wane with its own, movement. Libra marks the memory of how the universe lost its balance, and constantly strives to establish the middle way, the “hypomochlion.”
Libra and the sound “c”
The spirit is by its very nature, full of movement and activity. The sound for Libra emerges out of the stillness of this resting gesture with lively movement is “C”, pronounced ts.
In English, we write this sounds with the letters t-s. We have very few words that start with this sound, but we find it often at the end of words like “cats.” We can find it in the middle of words like “dance” and “celestial.”
Begin with your hands low, palms facing upwards, at about the height of your hips. Now imagine the smoke of sacrificial incense rising weightless, upwards. As if invoking clouds of fragrant etheric incense, lightly bring your hands together, then release into lightness, bring them together, release, and again—as often as you can until the smoke disappears into the heights.
As a sound, ts rises lightly out of the depths of matter towards the light. Ts is the energy of spirit overcoming matter, of resurrection, of the etherization of the blood.
Thus with Libra and its corresponding sound Ts, the infinite human spirit has found its place of rest in matter, and embarks on the journey of redeeming matter, transforming it into light.
“The world contain worlds”
Sept 21-Oct. 20
Sound: C (ts)
Element of sound: Fire
To watch the eurythmy gesture for Libra, click on this link:
VIRGO, THE DIVINE FEMINIE
“Behold the worlds, oh soul!”
Sidereal Dates: Sept.17-Oct. 17
Tropical Dates Aug.21-Oct. 20
Spiritual Hierarchy: Kyriotetes
In our studies of the 12 signs of the zodiac and eurythmy, we have now arrived at the 6th sign. In accordance with ancient wisdom, we have seen the workings of the signs of the zodiac progressing through the parts of the body they have shaped:
Aires The head
Taurus The throat and larynx
Gemini Bilateral symmetry: shoulder and arms
Cancer The chest
Leo The heart
With Virgo, we will sink below the solar plexus, below the diaphragm, into the metabolic center of the body. In the deeds of our limbs, we change and affect the world around us.
The Divine Feminine
Virgo is the sign of the Maiden and the Mother. It is also the sign of “Mater,” the Material world. The mystery of Virgo has been expressed in the course of time as thousands of changing images: the Virgin, the goddess and mother of the Earth, the Platonists’ goddess Natura, Parsifal’s Pieta, Demeter-Persephone and the Artemis of Ephesus, Athena and Aphrodite, Freya with the apples of eternal youth, the Mary listening to the angel’s annunciation and the Mary beside the manger with the animals ranged about.
In the Eastern mysteries, the female signifies the receptive “yin” energy, the vessel that has received the active “yang” energy, and carries it in the form of a seed.
The greatest of all Virgo Beings is known as Sophia, who, as a being of complete Wisdom, encompasses all other beings. We find her footprint in all of the sciences whose name contains the word “-sophy,” including philosophy (love of wisdom,) theosophy (wisdom of God), and anthroposophy (wisdom of the essential human being).
Virgo and Sophia
Even as we remembered the first beginnings of creation in our consideration of Leo, with Virgo we remember the second unfolding of creation in a phase known as “Ancient Sun,” the cosmos of Wisdom, born out of the activities of the great spiritual beings known as the “Kyriotetes,” spirits of wisdom. Sophia was the radiant spiritual being that encompassed all other beings in her Body. In Sophia, wisdom is identical with enlightenment, for it is without blemish or fault. Those who seek wisdom may awaken in understanding.
Sophia continues to guide us in our evolution as human beings, so that we, too, may awaken to our I-Am self. And on our pathway towards our awakening, Sophia is our constant mother.
Virgo-Sophia and the Beginning of the World
We can characterize humans as those beings who need the solidity of the material world to awaken to self-awareness. (This is in contrast to all higher beings, who needed only the condition of warmth, or light, or movement to awaken). The material world was thus formed, created out of the condensed will and wisdom and activity of the creating spirits. Plunged into this world, we learn to see the handwork of the creator through our senses, and to speak back to the world: “Because you are, I am.”
Thus, as our earth-story began, and the world of Matter came into being, Sophia created the womb of the world, Nature, into which the seeds of creation could be laid. We may imagine the human being living most lightly upon the earth: Rudolf Steiner even suggests that as the world was still very young, still condensing, human bodies were first as “delicate as the molecules of smell,” and later as “ethereal as flowers.”
Virgo in the Natural World: Demeter-Persephone
As the material world further evolved, spirit descended even deeper into matter. The Greeks experience the living world of Nature to be a goddess, Demeter, the spirit of the seasons and of harvest. Each year, at autumn (what we now know as the season of autumn), the outer vitality of nature –Demeter’s body—withered and fell, seed-like, onto the earth. From this experience, it was said that Demeter’s daughter Persephone was kidnapped by the god of the underworld, and was condemned to spend one half of each year (winter) underground. This signifies, among other things, that humans would be able to live not only upon the earth, but also in the world of matter.
Virgo and Mother-Mary
Virgo-Sophia has had many other designations in the course of human history. Surely the most powerful image in esoteric Christianity is the picture of Mary, mother of the child Jesus. Here, the mother represents the divine womb into which the cosmic human spirit has been laid. Mary creates the vessel out of which the awakened, self-realizing human spirit will arise.
Here we can contemplate the picture of mother and child in the stable, surrounded by the plants and the animals. In their deepest senses, these, too are born of nature, even as the material foundation of our bodies is drawn from the material world. We are one with nature, and yet, through individuation, we evolve to a new level. The plants and animals around the manger behold the birth of the human being, and are amazed.
Virgo thus represents the original spirit of Sophia, as well as Nature, goddess of the natural world, and also Mary, the woman-soul who creates the vessel for the spirit ego. This designation is, of course, beyond all gender considerations, for each of us has a feminine nature, body-soul, that receives, embraces, and protects the engendering and individuating masculine energy of the Spirit-self. When we create and realize our archetype, we become whole human beings.
Virgo and the Human Body
Here, where the human soul lives in the material world, we are no longer able to feed ourselves out of light and air. Here we have to have the ability to nourish ourselves out of the material world.
In the human body, Virgo rules the interior space of our digestion, the space below the diaphragm.
There, the organs of our digestion meet the outer world through eating. We must destroy what enters us, through chewing, liquefying, emulsifying, and “burning” it, until it is turned into chyme. Then, imitating the process of world-becoming, our inner solar system organizes the chyme and re-shapes it, turning the grains, fruits, vegetables and proteins we have eaten into human substance.
In the activity of eating, we do far more than merely internalize and excrete. We actually participate in building up the human body, the sacred vessel for human beings, we who are evolving to become the new offspring of Sophia.
The Eurythmy Gesture for Virgo
After the radiance of Leo, the sign of Flaming Enthusiasm, the gesture for Virgo is one of quiet inwardness. The eurythmist stands quietly, holding herself still. She raises her left hand and holds it very quietly in front of herself, consciously feeling the space of the inner metabolism. The hand may very lightly touch the body, approximately on the front of the bony process of the hip bone.
The Sounds of Virgo
Each of the zodiac signs “speaks” to us with the power of the consonants. Virgo has given us the power and the gift of two sounds: B and P. These are both earth sounds, that carry the gesture of making sheaths of protection.
We can imagine that before the first gesture of creation, before Time and before Space, the Divine source of all being was a source of unlimited and unmanifest possibilities. Then, in a gesture of love, the creator wraps its limitless Being around the Entirety of all that is, all that has been, all that will even be in a cloak of soft blue. We are forever held, in a mantle of love. B creates a sheathe, a skin, a robe of protection. In creating the B, I am an angel that protects my self. I am the mother that holds the child and I am the child held by the mother.
To create the B in Eurythmy, imagine yourself clothed in yellow light. Reach out your arms, and invoke a cloak of protection, woven of the sky. The spiritual world fills your outstretched arms with a rich blue cloak, present as it has always been, since the beginning of time. Imagine your cloak with a red lining, which gives you firm inner boundaries and strength. The B creates a safe wall around you, a place of protection that will give you form and definition.
We can find the rounded gesture of the B throughout the entire natural world. Even as your angel holds you warm, as a mother cradles a child so we are held in the embrace of the great cosmic spirit. You can explore big and bold B’s, and also tiny B’s. You can make B before you, behind you, above you, below you. You can discover B with your hands and with your legs. In nature your can find the gesture of B in boulders, bees and blossoms. B protects the small tender things of the world, wrapping itself around babies and embryos.
In B, the soul rests in the knowledge that it is safe when it makes boundaries. We often teach B in therapeutic eurythmy to help people who feel vulnerable. This can include people with low self-esteem and people who have been abused. On a more organic level, it helps children who are bed-wetters.
The B teaches us how the Creator has made the universe, and holds it in love.
Color: indigo, deep blue
Sound: B and P
Element of Sound: Earth
In the body: Metabolism