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Uranus vs. Saturn and the Value of Inconsistency

The Value of Inconsistency

Dane Rudhyar

First Published
Horoscope Magazine
December 1960

Today one hears so much about "inconsistency", as if to be trusted one's outlook on life or any situation must be entirely fixed - inflexible and unchanging, even in the light newly acquired experience and knowledge. Is such a stance justified, or is it just another way saying "My country right or wrong" and a subterfuge to avoid admitting one's own mistakes and shortcomings?

In this article, as significant today as when it first appeared in 1960, Rudhyar states that when a nation or, as today, the whole of humanity, has been shaken up by a crisis of extreme gravity, certain kinds of psychological reactions - symbolized by Uranus and Saturn - are almost inevitable. Read it and discover the Value of Inconsistency.
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Uranus vs. Saturn. The Value of Inconsistency.

When a nation or, as today, the whole of humanity has been shaken up by a crisis of extreme gravity, certain kinds of psychological reactions are almost inevitable — collective reactions which affect the emotional responses and cultural outlook of a whole generation. These reactions may take a variety of forms; but, essentially, they represent a strong inner urge to extol the irrational, to glorify nonsense, perhaps to scoff at some of the most traditional values and institutions of the past. In some cases, there is as well a tendency to escape to "artificial paradises" or else deliberately to shock by picturing the most brutal and hopeless kinds of tragic situations, crime, rape and torture.

We have seen instances of such collective reactions in France after the defeat of 1871, when "Symbolists" and "Decadents" produced a characteristic type of literature which became the source later on, after World War I, of the movement called "Surrealism," in which dreams and particularly fantastic nightmares filled books and painting exhibits. The years following the First World War saw also in France the rise of "Dadaism" and the cult of the nonsensical — and in Germany and other nations, the spread of "Expressionism" with its glorification of emotional tragedy and distortion. After World War II, in a France torn by internecine strife, "Existentialism" became popular as a form of bitter and chaotic protest; and similar movements occurred nearly everywhere. In America, we have our "beatniks" and their espousal of the Japanese form of Buddhism known as Zen, which uses extraordinarily irrational and seemingly nonsensical methods to produce a psychological shock intended to "Liberate" the individual from his bondage to the rational framework that gives form and stability to his ego.

To the astrologer, all such collective responses to national or world situations which have crucially challenged the status quo and the taken-for-granted beliefs of the past are manifestations of the power represented by the planet Uranus. Every student of astrology knows, of course, that Uranus is to be considered the planet of revolution, sudden transformation, unexpected challenges to action. Uranus is the great disturber of all seemingly "settled" situations; thus, it is the enemy of Saturn, whose function it is to consolidate and settle everything within well-defined, clearly limited boundaries and logical, rational systems of thought.

It is easy, however, to pigeonhole Uranus in one's mind as the rebel, the apostle of change and revolutionary doctrines and think that is all there is to it. Such a description tends to see in this Uranian power something abnormal that occurs only suddenly and at relatively rare intervals in the life of an individual or nation. The truth is that the energy represented by Uranus is an ever-present force which one should seek to understand and with which one, should come to terms, realizing that its action is essential for the higher forms of our activity.

An illustration might make my meaning clearer. We often think of Uranus under the symbol of the lightning which strikes suddenly and violently. But we do not realize that the millions of lightning discharges which strike the soil every year all over the globe release a precious chemical element, nitrogen, essential to the development of life on earth. Franklin's experiment with lightning is known in popular tradition as the source of our attempts at making electricity our servant. Without electricity, our century would indeed not be too different from the preceding ones, "for better or for worse" — or should we really reverse the terms?

Man has become "married" to electricity, and this Uranian union has indeed transformed almost everything that can be called "human." Three important points relative to this transformation of human consciousness and social behavior should be stressed, I believe, because they are basic, yet not obvious. Without understanding these points — which are closely related to one another — it would be impossible to ascertain and assess the true meaning of all that Uranus indicates in an astrological chart.

1. The courage to be "inconsistent"
When the first primitive man — I heard an archaeologist claim it must have been a woman! — had the courage to sow into the ground seeds which could have helped him or her to pass through the normal food scarcity of winter months, because he or she had faith in the utterly mysterious power of self-multiplication inherent in the seed, this ancestor of ours began not only agriculture, but man's "marriage" to Uranus. It was obviously not consistent with common sense to go without assured food in the faith that some miraculous process would increase eventually and regularly our food supply.

It was already a remarkable step to store up wild grains or the meat of slain animals and ration the daily use of the stored food so as to last through the winter; but that was a Saturnian step. It accepted limitations and controls based on a "rational" estimation of the number of mouths to feed during a carefully calculated period of time. Saturn reasons carefully with the data one has. The food was there; the people were there all of it very concrete, very clear and altogether susceptible of "quantitative measurement" and "statistics" (the idols of our modern scientific mentality!). But a star-eyed visionary stole some of the seed and instead of killing the animals, in order to preserve them in ice, mated them for progeny. Woe to the non-conformist! Was it not supremely inconsistent to stop the flow of food to greedy mouths in the fantastic hope of a miracle of multiplication?

A river flows peacefully through a gorge, watering the plains below. Some queer individual comes along with a dream and decides to dam the river at the gorge. This, of course, stops the flow; the plains below become parched. People may partially starve. Yet, in time, a hydroelectric power plant is made possible. Thereafter, man may have both water and electricity, food and power, plus light to read by and change night into day — also instinct into intelligence.

These, of course, are only illustrations — symbols, if you wish so to call them. They both are illustrations of processes in which a sequence of events is interrupted by human acts motivated by a faith, a vision, a grasp of "higher principles." These human acts break the continuity of normal, traditionally accepted and proven valid behavior. They stop something; they produce a pause during which the normal flow of events is hindered. During that "pause," a higher principle of existence can (or at least may) operate — a Uranian pause.

When we say of a person bringing up an argument to prove a point that he is "consistent," we mean that his speech reveals a continuous sequence of known causes and expected results, of accepted premises and rational deductions. The continuity of his thinking is evident, and the arguments are contained within the framework of a well-tested logic. The trouble with such a procedure, however, is that it produces only results of the same order as the experiences which originally helped to devise the procedure. In a very real sense, the nature and quality of one's search condition in advance what one will find. If we use Saturnian means to solve a problem, the solution will not leave the realm of Saturn. Likewise, all the discoveries of modern science are conditioned by the scientific methods and quantitative techniques used in the process of discovery. The universe we see today is the universe as our "scientific" mind allows us to see it. It assuredly is not the universe in all its reality! It is the universe seen through the Saturnian consistency of our logical ways of thinking.

Can we not have the courage to be inconsistent, in the faith — or at least the hope — that through the solution of continuity (the break, the hiatus, the pause), some new principle of existence may become operative or may be dimly perceived?

Of course, if we do let ourselves be inconsistent, we open the door to all sorts of possibilities; and some of them may be quite dangerous indeed. In modern psychology according to C. G. Jung, one speaks of the "sudden eruption into the conscious of the dark contents of the unconscious"; and the result may be insanity for the individual or mass psychosis for a nation (as in the case of Nazi Germany). But what is unconscious is certainly not always "dark" — or it is dark only in the sense that the spotlight of consciousness has not yet been focused on such unfamiliar elements of existence.

The important point here is that our protection resides in the fact of consistency. As long as the chain of rational elements is unfolding without breaks, all goes more or less well. At least, while you may be neurotic (i. e., obsessed by the meaninglessness and futility of almost everything), you are not psychotic or really insane. There is no "solution of continuity" in our conscious personality; you are in one piece because the tight bondages of your ego make of you a well-structured and safe mummy — safe against escaping into a "new world," safe against rebirth through metamorphosis.

Uranus makes you, as an ego-controlled personality, unsafe. It punches holes in the fabric of your thinking. Strange breaks occur in the warp and woof of your personal sense of identity. You begin to ask: "Who am I? What am I?" Then the common-sense flow of taken-for-granted feelings and thoughts develops strange barrages, rapids, waterfalls. You are no longer sure, no longer secure. Poor old Saturn's power is broken, perhaps where it was most vital, at the place of power, at the "I" level. But through the gaping wound, a new god may reveal itself, heralded by Uranus.

2. The challenge of the paradox
The Gospels are filled with paradoxes; indeed, the whole life of Jesus is one long paradox. What we call the "Beatitudes" are a series of paradoxes; and Zen Buddhism is an altogether paradoxical type of approach to the central problems of existence. Modern science, now, begins to be based on paradoxes. If you look at light one way, you see it as made up of particles, photons; if you look at it the other way, it is "nothing but" waves. Also, when you investigate sub-atomic particles, if you know one thing about them, the other thing becomes uncertain, and vice versa. You cannot investigate subtle facts without the facts vanishing or being transformed.

Dear old Aristotle taught us for centuries that nothing can be what it is and at the same time its opposite; but now a new logic challenges such a Saturnian "morality" clearly opposing good to evil, true to false. Lupesco, a Romanian philosopher, wrote in 1940 that: "The principle of contradictory complementality must supersede the principle of non-contradiction as a basis for our logic."

In other words, everything has to contain its opposite. You cannot separate these two absolutely; the existence of the one is needed for the other's existence and operation. "The true will always be more or less actually accompanied by the false. And it will not be one set true against one set false because the conflict inherent in their contradiction will create discontinuous values of more or less — and a perpetual adjustment, dynamic and unstable."

Such thoughts are not new. They are at the root of the old Chinese philosophy of Tao, which stressed the interpenetration of the Yang and Yin polarities in all existence. They are at the root of any true astrology. Astrology is based on the interplay of forces (planets, zodiacal signs and houses) of opposite polarities. Mars cannot be understood without Venus, the ascendant without the descendant, the spring equinox (Aries) without the fall equinox (Libra). But to Saturn these statements are heresy; and to those modern astrologers who pay homage to the god of statistics and intellectual analysis, they make little or no sense, for these astrologers go on isolating every planet in a chart and somehow "proving" by complex statistics that its presence here or there truly indicates this or that particular thing. But it may indicate so many "particular things" that in practice there is no way of ascertaining which one fits the present case.

Uranus shatters all comfortable moulds of logical thinking. At certain times and in certain circumstances, anything may mean anything because anything and its opposite are intricately interwoven. Realizing this, mystics may see there the triumph of the absurd ("I believe because it is absurd," said an old Church Father); and modern artists and writers may go into orgies of nonsensical series of images and words. Zen masters were likewise adept in the use of non-sense. Why? It is so in order to break the Saturnian reliance upon set patterns; in order that through the broken doors of our fortified castle, Logic, the light of a new realm of reality may flood the dying lord of the castle, dear old ego. When revealed, it turns out not to be a "new" realm. It is the same world of existence in which we normally dwell; but, after the Uranian shattering, we look at it with new eyes.

3. From objects to symbols
When we speak of an object — a tree, for instance — we do not actually refer to a mass of green color detaching itself from the blue (sky) background — that is, simply to what our eyes have seen. The word "tree" is the end result of a series of intellectual operations which, starting from the immediate visual sensation, lead to a concept — the concept of what a "tree" is. In that concept, many previous experiences (our own and as well those of our parents and their ancestors) are synthesized.

The world in which practically all of us pass our conscious life is a world of concepts — the philosopher speaks of it as a "construct." When a painter 100 years ago painted objects and scenery, he did not actually put on the canvas what his eyes saw; he painted trees, flowers, houses, people as he had been taught these objects "looked like." The great Uranian revolution in modern painting, began by the Impressionists nearly a century ago, aimed at painting what the eyes saw, irrespective of what things were supposed to "look like" as objects with definite names. In more recent years, other movements have sought to paint what the artist felt, how he reacted to the raw sensation of color and shadows — or else to use as symbols of inner experiences the forms of Nature or even forms and colors without objective starting points in Nature (non-representational painting, etc.)

The keywords of all these movements has been freedom from the traditional concepts of objective reality. To modern painters, the world which artists had painted since the Italian Renaissance is, at best, only a starting point, a means to an end. He uses common experiences as "signs" (symbols) of some deeper and more universal or more personal and entirely psychological realities. He breaks forms or colors; breaking them, through them, he tries to evoke or suggest some "higher-level" feelings or experiences of human existence. Physical objects or scenes become symbolical clues to the psychological or mental events.

This process, typical of Uranus, can be described as a constant "change of gears." The characteristically Uranian experience is that of moving into neutral, of surrendering one's attachment to a low gear — which pulls you safely, but slowly, through the years of your life — and trying to shift to a higher gear.

Experiences controlled by the Saturnian ego, safe and comfortable though they be, leave the Uranian individual dissatisfied. The mystic throws his ego out of gears in order to escape bondage to the meshing of the normal social mentality of his culture; he seeks the exhilarating sense of being out of gears, of "free movement"; he feels he has "overcome" time and this world. He trusts that somehow the other world will draw him into its faster, more spiritualized, more dynamic rhythms. But if this occurs and he wishes to communicate to other men the character of his new experiences, all he can do is to use the experiences they have in "this world" as symbols of what occurs on the way to or in "the other world."

This process of symbolization is not unusual. We experience it every day in our dreams. The dream is an attempt by some transcendent activity within us to convey messages to the ego-controlled Saturnian world of our consciousness. These dream-messages use images of the ordinary everyday existence (and more fancy ones also) to present a picture of something happening below or above the boundaries of our ego. But the picture is usually irrational and inconsistent. The sequence of events in it is often broken by repeated "changes of gears." It is as if you used a tape recorder but passed many times from one speed of unrolling to another. (Indeed, this is the process used in creating "electronic music" for tape recorders, a type of music spreading rapidly throughout the whole world and originating in France after World War II).

The aim of all this Uranian activity is to free man from a rigid dependence upon set "frames of references" and traditions; the most momentous mental discovery of this century, Einstein's Theory of Relativity (to which we probably owe the atom bomb besides many other new inventions and ideas), was the most typically Uranian of all new processes of thinking. It destroyed the power of Saturn, god of time and stability, of set systems of value and limited, narrow consistency.

Uranus is always with us. At every moment, it tends to oppose and destroy Saturn; but as soon as Uranus throws us out of gears, Saturn reacts by establishing a new system of gears to try to make us feel once more consistent and secure. Every revolutionary movement once it becomes "organized" falls in line with Saturn power. If it did not, we might have sooner or later a mass breakdown. The Theory of Relativity leads to the atom bomb; thus now, for fear of total explosion and absolute inconsistency and discontinuity, we must invent new Saturnian safeguards.

Uranus is ever with us. To run in fright into the fatherly arms of Saturn, to glorify the paternalism of apparently benign big business, to withdraw into the worship of one's great national past and of classical patterns of culture — all this can only lead to a further arousal of Uranian will. When Uranus and Pluto meet in early October, 1965, mankind may be thrown violently out of gears if it has lulled itself into a self-complacent belief in Saturnian comfort and security. Every extreme leads sooner or later to the opposite extreme. There can only be peace and true growth in the "middle way."

4. The Nodes of Saturn and Uranus
The nodes of the planets give to the zodiacal degrees on which they occur, and to any astrological factor located very close to them, a special meaning. In addition, when a planet is located at its own nodes, it takes on its most "fateful" character — that is, there is in the power it represents an element of inevitability, of inherent cosmic necessity.

This February 18, 1961, Saturn and Jupiter are conjunct at 25 12' Capricorn; and Saturn's south mode is practically at 24 Capricorn. Capricorn is also, of course, the zodiacal sign which is ruled by Saturn. This conjunction can, therefore, be expected to have a particularly significant meaning — a very "Saturnian" meaning. As the new U.S. Administration began less than a month before, when Jupiter and Saturn were already very close to each other, this Administration is likely to be quite fatefully or inevitably Saturnian.

The only opposition aspect in the birth-chart of the American people (July 4, 1776 — and, in my opinion, with mid-Sagittarius rising) is an opposition of Mercury retrograde at 24 17' Cancer to Pluto at 27 9' Capricorn. This one opposition, therefore, follows the line of cleavage marked by the nodes of Saturn. If I am correct in giving about 13 Sagittarius as the chart's ascendant, the natal horizon follows approximately the lines of Uranus' nodes — the south node having been then presumably close to 13 Sagittarius.

Thus, we find a particularly strong combination of Uranian and Saturnian factors in the background of the American people's temperament and destiny. If Saturn is in the tenth house, it refers to our worship of a permanent Constitution (and also of "the Book" — the Bible, on which the President and other officials take their oaths of office), as well as to our tendency to project a "father complex" (positive or negative, as may be the case) upon the Executive — and, indeed upon even the executives of big business. On the other hand, America and her institutions have had a most revolutionary Uranian effect upon the whole world — and Uranus at the time of the Declaration of Independence was coming very close to its north node.

Pluto, if in the second house of the U.S. chart, obviously refers to the most characteristic feature of American society, the trusts, the huge business organizations; its opposition to Mercury retrograde on Saturn's north node is a rather challenging sign insofar as the freedom of the American mind is concerned, in spite of the strength of the Uranus factor. At least, a basic and inherent dualism and conflict in the American temperament are shown; and the fact that the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction is now occurring in Capricorn on Saturn's south node assuredly means an intensifying of the Saturnian trend. This Saturnian emphasis is being focused on the U. S. Pluto, which does not open too pleasant perspectives for the near future.

The progressed Sun of the Declaration of Independence's chart is now also passing through Capricorn and has recently been in opposition to the natal Sun. This might be interpreted as a temporary reversal of the original trend in the American character and behavior; one might speak indeed of a kind of national "change of life."

The increasing trend toward "conformism" since the U. S. progressed Sun entered Capricorn and approached its opposition to the natal Venus in early Cancer — about the time the "cold war" became an apparent fact of life — could be construed as a sign of the present power and ascendancy of Saturn in our national affairs.

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