International Society for Astrological Research Journal article.
Getting to Know Our
Personality, Soul and Spiritual
Cycles in Life
By Jef Bartow
Leyla Rael’s and Dane Rudhyar’s process oriented approach to astrology published as Astrological Aspects: A Process Oriented Approach has become invaluable in utilizing astrology as a spiritual growth tool. Since the Spiritual Path is based on the Initiatory Process and cycles, Rudhyar’s insights provide an excellent foundation for integrating spiritual growth with psychological astrology.
If we take the astrology mandala in Figure 1, we can make it about our cycles if life. The first half of the cycle begins from the ascendant representing a new seed birth, whether life, some new project, a new career or even relationship. The first six houses (phases) represented in this particular figure are the involutionary arc or birthing phase, as I label it. They called it the waxing phase of growth, which is represented by activity based form building.
As we move around and get to the opposition point (180°) from whatever new project we start, we come to where we have an opportunity for a first flowering or first success, just like in nature each year. This particular place is where we can make a key decision. Do we just move to the devolutionary arc (dying phase) of the second half of the mandala, or do we also make a leap onto the evolutionary arc which represents growth in consciousness?
At near the opposition in the cycle, we get the term retrograde. What in astrology is the retrograde dimension of growth is in astronomy the cyclic appearance that planets move backwards in the sky. If we do make the leap to the evolutionary arc, then we gain growth in consciousness for the waning phase of the cycle. This, at the same time we’re experiencing devolution, or the dying phase within our bodies. These two arcs finally bring us forward to the 360° point or the end of the 12 phases as defined by them. The end of the entire cycle is represented by death through devolution or a need seed for the next cycle on the evolutionary arc.
Psychologically, we can use this model to better understand our growth in life as a personality, a soul and spiritually. Astrologically, Saturn typically represents the boundary of our personality. Therefore, the Saturn Cycle becomes the life cycle for our personality. If we make the evolutionary leap in consciousness, then we can move also onto the Uranus Cycle, which defines our process of growth in consciousness. Therefore, we have two cycles operating simultaneously; the Saturn Cycle for the personality and the Uranus Cycle for the soul.
The Saturn/Personality Cycle
Up until the 21st century, most people didn't live past the age of about 60. So literally, we can take two Saturn cycles (29 years each) as the life cycle of our personality. As shown in Figure 2, we begin at birth (0°). We then can define each of the 12 subphases/houses as about a five year progression in life. Because there are critical points at every 45°, I define the Personality Cycle in 8 phases.
For the first seven years of childhood, we are pretty much defined by our conditioning. We are conditioned by our parents, our home life, our early teachers and now especially through TV entertainment. At the 45° angle (about 7 years of age), we come to a place where this conditioning is either integrated within ourselves or there is some kind of a breakdown. For myself, it was a breakdown. I couldn't accept the conditioning I was getting, therefore I developed everything from stuttering to a reading disability.
In Figure 2, the second phase on the Personality Cycle becomes about assimilation, assimilating our conditioning/experiences through activities represented mainly by the third house astrologically: early education, our neighborhood, brothers and sisters, things like that. In this phase we're either progressing if we took integration, or we’re regressing if we have had some kind of a breakdown.
Next we come to the first 90° point in the cycle of life that happens at about 14 ½, or half of the first Saturn cycle in life (Saturn opposition). Here we have the typical issues of adolescence which are about how we're going to move forward in life (crisis in action: waxing 90° in the cycle). This begins a phase of either acting instinctually or acting more based on our soul.
This next phase of decisioning is typically between about the ages of 15 and 22 as shown in Figure 2. We make major decisions as we move through high school; deciding whether we’re going to college or what job to get; what kind of college; what kind of degree to get, where to live, etc. At about the age of 20, we have to make decisions about what life is to be after school. At this first trine to birth (120°), we can begin to embrace a vision for our life.
As we graduate from school or determine that our college major is or is not our calling, we come to the next key 45° angle at 135° in the cycle. This critical point at about age 22 represents either an outreach or a temporary failure. Remember, this is in fifth subphase/house part of the cycle. The fifth house is about our creative expression. In this cycle, it is also the first transiting square of Uranus to its natal position.
Let’s use myself as an example of this critical point in life. Figure 3 shows my chart superimposed upon the Personality or Saturn Cycle. Therefore, for me the critical outreach or temporary failure at about 22 is qualified by the fact that I have Pisces on my fifth house cusp and Jupiter in Aries in the fifth house. My decisioning is therefore qualified by my past karma and overcoming past limitations (characteristics of Pisces) in some way. It will also involve some courageous or pioneering activity (characteristics of Aries) involving my means of socialization and beliefs in life (functions of Jupiter).
As I was completing my engineering degree at University, I committed to training for the priesthood in a "new age" christian church. Within six months of my graduation I left my home in California, moved to rural North Alabama and was living in the energy environment of my spiritual mentor, the spiritual leader of the Church. I was living a new socialization based on my beliefs in life in a challenging environment of the bible belt south. Upon hindsight, it was all about overcoming my past karma and limitations developed through my creative expression in past lives.
We can gain further insight into this fifth subphase cycle through looking to where the ruler of the sign on our fifth house resides, as well as a natural ruler of the fifth house, Leo, and where its ruler, the Sun, resides in our chart. My Neptune in Libra in the 11th house further influenced me to realize my inspirational wisdom and creative genius ability (functions of Neptune) from activities with those who share my life goals and hopes and wishes (goals of the 11th house). As a spiritual counselor, teacher in the seminary, part of the board of the Church and living in the parsonage/retreat environment, I moved forward (outreach) to begin to realize my Neptune potential.
Further, with Leo on my 10th house cusp, part of my creative expression (Leo) would relate to the outer world and my profession. Ruled by the Sun in my sixth house, it would definitely about service to others and living my creative expression in my day-to-day routine. Combining my spiritual focus with working in the outer world as a business consultant, I fulfilled this need within me to creatively self express as my service to others.
From our outreach or temporary failure in our early 20’s, the next phase is really about self improvement (6th subphase/house in Figure 2). Based on how we integrated our schooling and life experiences thus far, we come to our first Saturn return as a point of confrontation or regression at about the 180° opposition from our birth. We experience this about the time when transiting Uranus is at a waxing trine and our Saturn returns to its birth position in our natal chart.
Here's what relates to either a retrograde period that takes place or a possible leap into growth in consciousness onto the evolutionary arc in Figure 1. If we don't make the leap here, there is typically something we have to relive about our earlier experiences in order to allow us to make that leap. This period of regression (retrograde) can be short or much of the rest of life. Most of us know individuals where high school or college was a peak in life and they now constantly relive it as an adult, not moving forward in growth.
The first phase in the second half of the Personality cycle (Saturn cycle), shown in Figure 4, is a phase of sharing, which is what we pretty much do in our 30s. We’re sharing with our children, we’re sharing in our vocation, we’re sharing with the people we know. This continues until about the middle of the 8th subphase/house at another 135° point in this cycle, again a multiple of 45° from the ascendant. Here's a critical place where ego adjustments/integration or breakdown takes place in about our mid 30’s. It's usually a time of making adjustments in our life that will contribute in developing a sense of purpose in life. On the devolutionary arc, the mid 30’s is about adjusting to the circumstances of life facing us, many times not of our desire or instigation.
The next phase in this cycle is what I label crisis. It's a crisis phase in life. It's a crisis in consciousness that begins to build as we come to the 120° closing trine (9th subphase/house cusp). This ninth house cusp is about bringing forth purpose and inclusiveness in what our life has become so far. We also have major aspects from Uranus, Neptune and again Saturn, which all form about age 40 to 43. So as we move through this crisis, we gain some realization (or positive growth) about life until after we come to the 10th house cusp at the top of the chart in Figure 4.
From this crisis period in life, our next personality phase becomes about revaluing our life. Typically in our 40s, we revalue our family life, how it has progressed or not, and also how we have moved forward in our career. Further, we reflect on what is our relationship to society and is it fulfilling or not. This is shown at the top of Figure 4 about either creative progression in our later 40s, or again some type of regression. In our revaluing, we either resolve to move forward or not. The quintile (72°) here represents creativity, achieving potential through conscious mental action or operating at purely material selfish desires, a form of regression or disintegration.
The end of this phase, at the final 45° angle in the 11th subphase/house, is where there's another integration or breakdown that takes place. This critical point is in our early 50s. It happens to be near the transiting Chiron return and the transiting Pluto trine. If we have moved forward positively in earlier phases, here we gain healing related to our life so far. Otherwise, most slide into an acceptance of whatever life has been. A breakdown is represented by a regret that sets in during one’s early 50s. This point of either healing, acceptance or regret catapults us into the final phase of the Saturn cycle, which I label as letting go and preparation for a new cycle.
Depending on how we move through our Chiron return helps condition our second Saturn return. Many are already preparing for death on the devolution arc including what their legacy is to be. For these who did not make the evolutionary leap in life, it becomes about waiting for death while seeking some solace through grandchildren, hobbies, retirement, others, etc. If we have leaped to the evolutionary arc, this ending phase is about letting go of our past, the good and not so good. It is now fully focusing on where we are on the Soul Cycle.
The Uranus/Soul Cycle
Let's say we make the evolutionary leap. Typically, this leap is represented on the Personality Cycle at about the first Saturn return in our late 20’s or early 30’s. I consider this the first major opportunity for most individuals to make the evolutionary leap onto the Uranus Cycle. This Soul Cycle represents consciously living our soul. As shown on Figure 5, when we make that leap, we’ve already lived most or all of the first Soul Cycle phase of personality development. The first phase of this cycle is typically until we have a fairly mature personality in our late 20’s. This personality development phase progresses until about our first the Saturn return, which on the Soul Cycle comes at the fifth subphase/house cusp.
On the Uranus Cycle each subphase/house represents seven years of life. So, we're going through our first transiting Uranus square while we’re in college. At about the Saturn return (shown on Figure 5 as at the 5th house cusp, 120°), we transition from personality development into the individuating ego phase in growth. The terms I'm using here related the Soul Cycle come from the individuation process for growth defined in transpersonal psychology. The terms for each of the 12 subphases in this cycle come from Rael and Rudhyar’s definition of the 12 phases in the process oriented approach to astrology. Therefore, personality development includes 4 subphases of subjective being in early life, to focusing in childhood, to organizing in education, to deciding in our 20’s. These key words primarily relate to our consciousness/soul growth if life.
Deciding in the fourth subphase/house moves us into individuating ego as we move into those very productive and growth oriented (5th subphase/expressing) years of our 30s and 40s. The sixth subphase becomes about self improvement, which is how we truly move forward in our late 30s and early 40s. If we are already on the Soul Cycle in our 30’s, the key transiting planets shown on Figure 5 all become tools that help us grow in consciousness on the Uranus or Soul cycle. If not, then they are the catalysts for creating crisis on the Personality Cycle. Like the Personality Cycle, the 180° opposition in the Uranus cycle is a critical place of growth at the midway of individuating our ego (in our early 40s).
I will again use myself as an example of the leap in consciousness that takes place as we move onto the Uranus Cycle. I have already explained the events that were my integration (outreach) that took place in my early 20s on the Personality Cycle. This same change in life was, for me, my leap onto the Uranus Cycle. This leap is usually something fairly drastic in life. It may not seem like it at the time, but looking back you will remember it as a very significant step.
Figure 6 shows the overlay of my natal chart onto the Uranus Cycle. I began this cycle in the fourth subphase/house of deciding at the age of 22. Therefore my leap was characterized by Aquarius on the fourth house cusp ruled by Uranus in Cancer in the eighth house. It is also influenced by the natural ruler of the fourth house, Cancer on my ninth house cusp and its ruler, the Moon in Aquarius in the third house.
My decision/leap for growth in consciousness was about making inventive, individualistic and independent (characteristics of Aquarius) changes in home life, family life and regarding development of my own self foundations (fourth house areas of life). It was further characterized by my urge for freedom, individuality and awareness beyond my conditioned personality (functions of Uranus) through an orientation for regeneration and transformation (eight house areas of life).
In addition, it would involve my developing my philosophy for life, spiritualization and religious activities (Cancer on the ninth house cusp). Of further assistance would come from my unconscious habit patterns, ability to adapt to life circumstances and instinctual responses from the past (Moon functions) that motivate me to express my inner individuality and originality in a meaningful way (needs of Aquarius).
We continue the individuating ego phase through the seventh subphase shown in Figure 7. This subphase is about the realizations we get in our 40s regarding our growth in life. As we get into our 50’s, we enter the sharing subphase. It’s sharing what we've learned in life and sharing how we've grown at the same time. In Jungian psychology, we begin the Mana personality phase in growth.
Our growth in consciousness has opened us up to spiritual energies. These energies range from humility to discrimination, from spiritual perspective to compassion and from inner silence to illumination, etc. Since we have not yet completely transformed our personality, there tends to be an inflation of our remaining ego and our personality’s sense of our spirituality. We are not yet living as a spiritual Self centered in the spiritual planes, but have access to some of these energies.
As we move through the sharing subphase, we are tested to overcome our ego desires and adopt a sincere orientation to regeneration and transformation (8th house). We do get much help in the process from our Chiron return and key transits of Neptune and Pluto. The Mana personality phase continues through our 50’s and our second Saturn return. This subphase in growth is about gaining an understanding not only of our life, but our growth and the remaining needs for the rest of our growth in life.
As we enter our early 60s on this growth path, we come to the 90° closing square in Figure 7, which represents a crisis in consciousness. Here, somewhat like the Personality Cycle, we focus on revaluing our life. The difference is that this is about our growth in life and how it makes us a better person. By doing so, we enter the last phase in life of individuating the self. Here is our opportunity to make our 60s and 70s a highly productive and rewarding part of life. This is truly about building a self-conscious Self/Soul from what we have learned as a personality. This last cycle represents the rest of our life to the completion of Uranus Cycle at about 84.
As you can see in Figure 7, the 11th subphase, typically in our 70s, is about reorganizing. This is reorganizing after we've left our earlier career/role in life. This reorganization is about still focusing on growth, not about death. It's about what we can creatively still contribute. It's reorganizing how we live the rest of our life. This is influenced by the transiting waxing square of Saturn we experience in our early 70’s.
The final subphase in this 12 subphase Soul Cycle is our opportunity for releasing the past, releasing our life and all the energies that we've qualified in it. It’s also about preparing a new seed based on our growth in consciousness on the evolutionary arc. By individuating a self-conscious Self/Soul, we have objectified our soul plan for this life.
The Spiritual Cycle
Now, if we have made the evolutionary leap in life, at some point we also have the opportunity to step onto the Spiritual Path. The Spiritual Path in metaphysics is called the “Initiatory Process.” This is forced accelerated growth beyond evolution of consciousness. It is represented in eastern mysticism by the path of the Buddha (the eightfold noble path) and by the path of the Christ demonstrated by Jesus in his life.
But there are others spiritual avenues available. For myself, I have utilized my life in the outer world of business as part of my spiritual path. We can also live spiritually through all our relationships in life. Among others, we can also utilize astrology as our spiritualizing focus.
When we make the commitment to live a spiritual life and spiritual growth beyond evolution of consciousness, a new cycle begins. This Spiritual Cycle is defined by “Initiations” as shown on Figure 8. The 1st Initiation is about our birth on the Spiritual Path. The way we do this is through separation from your conditioning, be it parental, educational, vocational or collective society in general. The term that I have defined for the astrological Spiritual Path for the first phase of life is self development. It pretty much leads us from birth until we make our spiritual commitment. Our spiritual birth at the 1st Initiation involves not only separating from our collective conditioning, but also what our values have become as an adult.
Growth in astrological terms can be defined by internalizing the energies of each planet in our chart. So, our spiritual birth is about internalizing the Sun within our natal astrology chart. This internalization relates to the influences that we set up when we were born. When we complete this process, we move on to internalizing the Moon, which typically represents our instinctual nature and also the pairs of opposites. By making that decision, we become a Probationer on the Spiritual Path.
Our second spiritual phase of self balancing begins as we internalize the Moon. As we complete this, the 2nd Initiation concerns balancing the pairs of opposites within us. This can be everything from the masculine and feminine, good and evil, mental versus emotional, objective versus subjective, etc. It is characterized in how we need to balance those things within us which are unbalanced. A major one is the internal feminine if one is male or the internal masculine if one is female.
Through this phase of self balancing, which is how I label this phase of growth, we are internalizing both our Moon and our Mercury. Mercury represents the way we communicate and think related to the outer world. At the 135° point in this cycle, we either outreach with a new attitude in life based on spirit or experience a temperate failure in the internalization process in self balancing.
As you can see in Figure 8, the final part of self balancing is internalizing Venus, which represents our values and aesthetic perception in life. Here, we are also integrating our overall personality to make it not only balanced, but truly one. If we do this and remain committed to spiritual growth, we come to the 160° point in the Spiritual Cycle. This is shown in Figure 8 by taking the 3rd Initiation. This initiation was represented by Jesus in the Transfiguration and truly is a reorientation of life and everything in it. Taking the 3rd Initiation can come at whatever age in adulthood. You could be in your 30s, or your 40s or even later.
Remember, this cycle is not about age, it is about steps in spiritual growth. Even with this, the astrological mandala still applies. Since the 3rd Initiation takes place in the sixth subphase/house of this cycle, it is always about self improvement, self adjustments and service to others. Here we become a spiritual Initiate and enter the phase I label reorientation. This reorientation carries us through the 180° point on the Spiritual Cycle.
Let’s examine an individual taking the 3rd Initiation and how her natal astrology chart applied by looking at Figure 9. If we overlay her chart onto the Spiritual Cycle, the 3rd initiation most importantly relates to her six house, which has Pisces on the cusp. Another major influence will come from the ruler of Pisces, which is Neptune in Scorpio in the first house in her natal chart. This means that her experience of the 3rd Initiation will relate to her past karma, being compassionately sacrificing and in developing her sense of being through living her beliefs with faith (all Pisces characteristics). With Neptune in Scorpio in the first house, it will also involve a change of self-image/self projection (first house) to help her resolve her rigid sense of individuality toward living her potential for wisdom and creative genius (Neptune functions).
With the natural ruler of the six house (Virgo) on her 12th house cusp, it will also involve her developing spiritual responsibilities while overcoming her past karma (12th house activities) and will also involve a change or progression in her home and family life indicated by her Chiron (ruler of Virgo) in Aquarius in the fourth house.
For this individual, she began her spiritual growth by divorcing her husband, moving her children to a new city and simultaneously progressing toward obtaining a Masters of Fine Arts degree and certification as a yoga instructor. Marrying her next husband during the same period was about creating a spiritual partnership. The opportunity for her reorientation in life (Transfiguration, 3rd initiation) unfolded as he made plans to move across country to finish writing his first book and to pursue developing an Aquarian Age spiritual mentoring program for individuals. As he told her before they married, he needed to pursue his next phase in spiritual growth in the western part of the United States.
Her reorientation on the Spiritual Path was to quit her postgraduate education, move across country with her husband while allowing her two children to return to live with their father. Essentially, she initiated an intense focus on spiritual improvement through a new home life and family orientation. Her new responsibilities became being focused in her spiritual partnership and not in her own individual sense of security and comfort.
This spiritual phase of reorientation continues as we move into the second half of the Spiritual Cycle shown in Figure 10. Internalizing Mars comes next, which is really the process of transforming our personality Mars represented by our wants and desires. This is how we live Mars in our personality, Transformed, Mars becomes our volition for spiritual growth. It involves our will for sacrifice and discipline in making the difficult decisions while pursuing the more arduous parts of the Spiritual Path that lie ahead. Moving forward into the eighth subphase/house in spiritual growth is about transforming Jupiter as our socialization and ethical standards in life. Transformed, Jupiter becomes our karmic goodwill and ability to share abundantly.
If we do this, we come to the decision point at 150° shown in Figure 10, which is also the 4th Initiation. The 4th Initiation described within metaphysics is the crucifixion. In the life of Jesus, this Initiation is represented by the crucifixion on the cross. This crucifixion is of our personality and ego in order to be able to become the spiritual being we’re capable of. In this process, we transmute the 1st causal body. The 1st causal body represents all the positive energies of our lives as a personality. Transmuting this causal body provides the energy by which we build the spiritual bodies in the spiritual planes.
With this Initiation, we are moving toward living consciously in the spiritual planes on a day-to-day basis. In order to do this, we must internalize Saturn. Saturn represents the shoulds and should nots, the rights and wrongs, etc. that we are taught. Internalizing Saturn transforms Saturn from a limiting/responsibility function in our personality into a spiritual means of redefinition in life. It becomes a tool in transforming our karma and a faculty to redefine our attitudes, orientation and focus. By internalizing Saturn, we are moving our center of consciousness from the ego into our newly developing spiritual Self. This is why this phase is referred to in western mysticism as “The Dark Night of the Soul.”
With the internalization of Saturn, a new phase begins, which I label transition. This transition is from being an Initiate to becoming a Master/Adept. In this phase, we build the “diamond body,” which are our spiritual bodies in the intuitional, inspirational and spiritual planes. The 5th Initiation shown in Figure 10 comes at the 103° point in the ninth subphase/house on the Spiritual Cycle. This 103° point is about fate, moving forward based on what our faith is and what our destiny is to be; fate as a personality and also as a self-conscious Soul.
This transition phase continues through the 10th subphase of revaluing until we come to about the 50 1/2° point in the 11th subphase. This very critical degree represents our potential for collective and historical destiny, including the direction in which we are led to our destiny. This is where we begin to transform the second causal body, which represents the positive essence of our soul development over its entire cycle of embodiment. In this process we’re internalizing Uranus, which represents our spiritual intuitive nature.
From eastern mysticism, this is attaining the position of Bodhisattva. The 6th Initiation is also about a major decision. It's about what Path we're going to live beyond being human, beyond being here. We may choose to stay here as our job or we may move out of this solar system into another area for our next job on the Spiritual Path. This is why I label this our destiny phase.
Becoming the Divine Hermaphrodite in this phase is no longer being masculine or feminine. It is truly becoming the Buddha, or the spiritual being that is our potential and ultimate destiny. This 7th Initiation is where we become the true Master, completing the process of spiritual growth in consciousness within this earth sphere, within this particular solar system.
So, in essence we potentially have three major cycles in life that we can use the astrological mandala to trace our progress. We can use our chart, or anyone's chart, to learn where the spotlight is focused within the personality; within growth in consciousness if one has made the evolutionary leap; and also our focus in spiritual growth if we have committed to accelerated growth (the Initiatory Process) in this life. The signs on the cusps and their rulers’ positions within the natal chart provide insights in to how each of us individually will experience these cycles in life. The natural mandala signs and their rulerships are also key factors in our understanding. And let’s not forget, all aspects of our natal chart become factors in how we experience these cycles.
C. G. Jung, The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Princeton University Press, N.J., 1950.
Leyla Rael & Dane Rudhyar, Astrological Aspects: A Process Oriented Approach, Aurora Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1980.