Planetary Imprints and Inner Planet Cycles
(published in The Mountain Astrologer - November 1994)
by Bruce Scofield
Note: The author has elaborated on the theme of this article in a new book published in July 2001 called The Circuitry of the Self: Astrology and the Developmental Model. See "Books" for ordering information.
I guess I'm a lot like others with the Moon in Aquarius. Whenever those around me get too focused on something, I get interested in something completely different. When I was studying science and history in college, I got interested in astrology. This was not well received by the professors and my academic life was made more difficult. Not long after entering the world of astrology, which was dominated by those who studied and practiced "normal" astrology, I found first "Uranian Astrology" and then "Mesoamerican Astrology." There's been another, more generalized, reaction I've had to the astrological status quo that has to do more with fundamental beliefs about human life that I'd like to talk about in this month's column. This is the bio-chemical, i.e. material, basis of personality and destiny.
Most astrologers (at least the many that I know or have observed in the field) operate under a few tacit and unquestioned assumptions about human life. These are sustained by the natural tendency of an alienated sub-group to emphasize differences from the "normals" around them and yet they are consistent with the natural mental tendencies of astrologers, who are mostly intellectually-detached personality types. What I'm saying is that astrologers are deviant members of society and that they are airheads besides, so they believe in things that run against society's main beliefs and that these beliefs are very mental, mind and intellect based. This "observation" does not necessarily imply that these beliefs are false. However, as would be expected, this orientation seems to have embraced a few metaphysical assumptions about human life that are not so different, and even the same, as other deviant groups like psychics, occultists and those in radical religions. Let's look at some of these metaphysical assumptions or beliefs.
Very common among astrologers is the notion that human life is basically spiritual in nature. In this view, our origins as a life-form on this Class M planet (Earth) are spiritual and we are, or should be, moving back to that place, whatever or wherever it is. Along with this assumption is the idea that it is our mind that makes our reality, this assumption being behind many types of healing and New Age therapies. Obliquely related to this view is the notion that we reincarnate, that our current lives are a product of previous incarnations. In this view, each individual life has a specific purpose, destiny and karma. Our goal is to transcend this cycle of births and deaths and join in with the higher beings, currently perceived by many as angels. In many respects, these notions underlie most New Age philosophy as well as much "Old Age" (ancient world) religious doctrine. And, of course, most of this flies in the face of the current official Western metaphysics which is either the scientific view that there is nothing but matter, or the religious view that God exists. This Western God (Yahweh) may exist but he seems to be a compartmentalized god, contained only in churches and synagogues. He is definitely not allowed on TV (except as George Burns) or in school textbooks. Our official consensus reality is obviously also compartmentalized, is quite depressing, and has led to the rapidly accelerating death of the natural environment. Anyway, the ongoing reaction to all this hypocrisy and environmental myopia is currently called New Age philosophy and it is, indeed, a welcome relief for many of us. However, it is used to explain many, many things about our lives, some of which it probably shouldn't.
So, here I am with my Aquarius Moon poised to react to New Age philosophy. Now don't get me wrong. I am not invalidating the New Age premises outlined above. I'm just taking a broader view. Now one of my basic operating principles is that no one side had all the answers and that the academic tradition has much to offer a seeker of knowledge. The social sciences, including psychology, sociology, history and, in particular, anthropology, have provided some big support stones for my perspective on human life. These subjects, being officially sanctioned, have access to money and consequently attract many brainy students whose contributions to human knowledge cannot be ignored. They, of the academic world, envision human life to be something that is a product of primate evolution and that the human mind and human behavior has a bio-chemical basis. (Oh yeah - I can already hear the groans from the Neptunians).
It appears to me that the above perspective has merits that don't necessarily disqualify the New Age assumptions. I have no problem with humans being domesticated primates (which we are) nor do I have problems with brain chemistry being the force behind our behaviors. To me, New Age philosophy is a way of explaining what we may need to know to further evolve. But when we ignore our material-biological underpinnings we run the risk of leaving out important explanations for human behavior. To deny the materiality of the body in a metaphysical system is, from the broader perspective, wrong. Although Eastern religions attempt to do this, in reality giving up the body is just damn inconvenient. At best it requires the concentration and dedication of one who has renounced the world. It's also just plain unnatural and it may not get you dates, which may be the whole point anyway.
Now that I've drawn a one-line sketch of where I'm coming from I'd like to elaborate on what I think happens to human life early on and how this may affect the nature of a mid-life crisis. I'm looking at astrology as being a trigger mechanism of sorts for bio-chemical changes in the developing human organsim that then take imprints from the environment. First of all, we are carriers of information stored in our DNA. This is the stuff that is contained in our every cells and determines the sequence of our development in the womb and beyond. It is possible that DNA is the real ruler of this planet and it is gradually (from our perspective on time -- or maybe rapidly from it's perspective) exploring its options on the material level of existence. DNA is smart. It knows how to survive death (by reproduction) and moves life forms on this planet toward more successful living strategies. Humans are no exceptions. We have evolved to what we are because what we are has worked to insure successful breeding. But during the last 5,000 years we've begun to do some strange things, like create civilization. But this is another topic.
DNA encodes things like a tendency for red hair and big noses. This code may not be activated for several generations, but then it pops out and some descendant get red hair and a big nose. If for some reason, this combination gets the DNA's human vehicle more dates, and reproduction occurs, the world's population of people with this gene increases. But there is more that DNA does. I suspect that DNA is able to encode, either directly or as a side effect of something physical, behavior patterns and psychological characteristics. In other words, like physical features, the behavior of our great grandparents may have been hidden for two generations but then it pops out in the life of a sibling, or ourselves. Suppose your great grandmother was a whore and her genes became dominant in you, not in any of your other relatives. Maybe this is a gene that causes an intense secretion of pheremones (sex scents) and this consequently stirs up the mating drive and elicits a certain kind of behavior. You turn out to be horny all the time but your family upbringing makes you feel guilty. Then you read a book on reincarnation and get the idea that you were a whore in your past life and "aha," it all makes sense. I suspect that feelings of entitlement are also passed on this way and that's why so many of us are reincarnated Egyptian kings and queens.
Anyway, what I'm getting at is that there are probably powerful biological forces behind our behaviors, and we struggle to find reasons for this. Recent work in brain chemistry has shown that differences in males and females, and differences in personality, correspond with differences in brain chemicals. Some scientists believe that personality can now be created and molded with drugs like Prozac. What are we anyway? A bunch of soft wires that resonate to chemicals? Is DATA on Star Trek a man or machine? I don't claim to have all the answers, I'm just an observer.
I suspect that our brains are very sensitive and that they are not only strongly affected by chemicals that our body can produce, but they are affected by (or can read) patterns in the electro-magnetic fields around us. I think that there are also moments of imprint vulnerability, like at birth, when the circuitry of our mind takes on a specific form. This may be how astrology works. We grow in utero according to genetic coding but are shielded from the electro-magnetic fields by amniotic fluid. At birth we are exposed to the full blast of this field and our brain takes its imprint, hence the birth horoscope's lifelong value. This imprint, at the moment of separation from the mother ship, starts ticking like a clock and begins to process all sorts of minute astronomical shifts, particularly in the first few months of life. Time, as we know it, is bent in strange ways.
Every single astronomical event of the first days of life are encoded. Time is handled like a fractal wave in which the smaller units resemble the larger. (Fractals are new science's way of saying "as above, so below." An example would be that the coastline of New Jersey resembles in miniature the coastline of all of eastern North America.) A day corresponds to a year. This is how progressions work and I've seen that events occurring at age five days, two hours repeat symbolically at age five years one month.
The brain then takes a very strong imprint of the sky at birth, probably through the patterning of the electro-magnetic field, and it plays out in our future lives.
During the early months of life, up to about age two, the Moon rules. The newborn needs to feel connected and responds to feelings, moods, emotions, etc. During this period, the Moon position in the birth chart is able to take strong imprints. Suppose the Moon at birth was closely square Saturn. In the "olden days" the child may not have survived very long as Saturn's field blocks the functioning of the nurturing Moon field. Today, the birth might be premature and require an incubator. The lunar imprint would be one in which initial fear comes to be replaced with an acceptance of physical and emotional distance or limitation. The newborn learns to live with this condition. The lunar imprint is then sealed and yet plays out in later life as discomfort with intimate relationships or other such feeling negating patterns. Unfortunately, the lunar imprint is pre-verbal and can't be accessed by talk therapy. Only deep physical bodywork, rebirthing, isolation tanks, and other non-mental approaches might find this deeply buried imprint. A Moon problem activated between the ages of 39 and 45 could produce one hell of a mid-life crisis, really hard to get at. We don't "feel at home" without the Moon imprint working properly.
At age two we experience our first Mars return and the Mars circuit becomes activated. We now become sensitive to the field of this planet and we strive to be more independent, which is mostly expressed as muscle control. Toilet training is a crucial event during this time and if this is done prematurely or carelessly, the toddler will carry a negative Mars imprint for life. (In some ways this may not be a bad thing in the sense that many of us with Mars problems become over-achievers and usually make more money in our society - which is created and ruled by people with Mars-Saturn problems.) This period of life has been called "the terrible twos" for good reason. When my son went through this phase his typical response to me trying to explain anything to him was "let me show you, Dad." If this Mars imprint was troublesome and the Mars at birth is set off during mid-life crisis by some outer planet like Pluto or Saturn, then a struggle with personal autonomy is repeated. This is a very common problem with women who, caught between their old-fashioned mothers and today's need to be independent, find that during their mid-life crisis they need to take assertiveness training courses or work out in a gym.
After Mars completes this second cycle in life (about two years, from first Mars return to second Mars return at around age 4) Mercury becomes the planet most receptive to imprints. Between ages 4 and 8 we learn to speak, think, use our hands and even read. If, during this phase, we are forced to do something mental prematurely, or are denied access to something that works on this level, we carry this stress or lack into our later lives. It is possible that teaching kids to read too early is not a good thing. Fortunately, this Mercury imprint level is able to be accessed by talk and thinking and its problems can be remedied much more easily than the pre-verbal Moon and self-survival Mars during mid-life crisis.
Many of you may noticed that today's kids are obsessed with video games. If, as I suspect, the hand-eye skills developed by playing video games will become valuable skills in future job markets, as computers evolve into extensions of our physical bodies, then learning to play video games during the Mercury imprint period may turn out to be an important kind of Mercury learning and one that should be introduced at this age. Presently, the games are made by older boys for younger boys and basically train the young user to make the same quick spatial judgments needed for successful hunting in the bush. Very male stuff indeed.
At age 8, on or near our 8th birthday, we all experience the onset of the Venus period of imprint vulnerability. Since Venus makes five full cycles of position in 8 years, our eighth solar return coincides with our fifth Venus return and this combination excites the highly bio-chemical Venus circuit. At age 8 we begin to become significantly aware of sex differences. The Venus imprint period last for another 8 years and hits four more peaks at intervals of 584 days which is Venus' synodic cycle. The second 8-year Venus return at age 16 closes this imprint period. By age 16, then, we need to have it together in regard to sociosexual matters or we will be playing out this one in later life, probably at 8-year intervals and especially during mid-life crisis at age 40, one of those years when the Venus return occurs with the solar return.
The Venus imprint is primarily one of learning how to cope with strong physical needs for mating. The primary issues for both males and females are how to get someone attracted to you so you can exchange bodily fluids, and also how to do this in a way that won't bring the rest of your society down on you. All sorts of social rituals have been created around this period, including courtship rituals, marriage ceremonies and circumcision rites. (Circumcision, a highly questionable and certainly bizarre practice to begin with, is more appropriate during the Venus "coming of age" period when it has some conscious meaning.) I think that after this Venus imprint period we're pretty much on our own. Humans are fully capable of operating in the world by age 16. For millenia mating occurred around this time, and still does - girls get pregnant and boys go to war or out to hunt. In my view, the rest of the planets (and notice that the four discussed above are the inner planets) serve to activate these original imprints and we live the rest of our lives trying to figure out what happened way back when, usually by recreating similar scenarios. When we get them right and become conscious of ourselves, we can move on and embrace New Age philosophy.
So, in this view, human life is biological -- but we are evolving toward
greater and greater consciousness of how it all works. Astrology gives
a form to the imprints taken during childhood and helps us understand what
happened when we hit our midlife crisis and the tapes that were made years
before begin to unwind. Our midlife dramas might best be seen as attempts
to replay parts of our life that didn't work years earlier, not necessarily
as stuff left over from a past life or something entirely divorced from
the biological realities of our existence as domesticated primates. For
those who want to more fully explore this socio-biological view I recommend
the writings of Helen Fisher (Anatomy of Love) and Robert Anton Wilson
(Prometheus Rising). You may also want to check out my article on the four
circuits in TMA Dec/Jan 1993.