OUR LIFE, OUR MUSIC
Music is the key to our understanding.
When we come into this life we are furnished, as members of an orchestra, with an instrument, a score, a conductor, and - if we are soloist material - with a certain freedom to improvise on the themes given.
The instrument is the physical body, its heredity, and the hereditary traits of our character; and our environment provides it with helpful or difficult acoustics. The strings of the instrument are the life-principles which in astrology are symbolised by the planets and angles in the birth-chart. Their tone and condition, and their tuning, depends on their angular relationship to each other, their reciprocal harmony or discord; and primarily on the care taken of all the parts of this instrument by its player, and his inherent or acquired skill in the playing. Additionally, forces beyond his control - ‘accidents’ of life - may damage or break the strings or the body of the instrument .
The score is composed of those repeating motifs that are built on the natural properties of the instrument, its particular resonance, stringing, ease or difficulty of handling, the inherent planetary relationships; it is divided into a number of movements which commence and culminate in passages of resolution or change, of climax or peace - the building, breaking and blending of the planetary chords throughout the life- span form their notation, and the instrument resonates well or uneasily to these chords and melodies from both its own and other peoples’ music. Sometimes the orchestra blends into glorious harmonies, sometimes the discords are agonising, often the result is indifferent.
Because in effect every member of the human orchestra is learning his instrument as he plays; and very, very few ever keep their attention fully concentrated on the complexities and meaning of the score; neither do they take fit care of their instruments; neither do they watch the conductor (because they think they know what they are doing, or because they cannot see Him, or because they do not believe He is there, or because they are convinced that by ignoring Him they can play their parts better than with His guidance.)
There are many who play only what is in front of then, without expression, sticking rigidly to an over-familiar melody. Their lives are repetitive, predictable, and dull, shaken only by accident into any semblance of difference. Some odd souls will keep their eyes fixed on the conductor, and, rapt with admiration and music, forget that they too are supposed to be playing. A very few of these will continue to play, but will depart so far from the written score in their spontaneity that they subtly alter the entire texture of the symphony.
Most, sadly, have ears for their own part only, and fail to derive the creative benefits of listening to the whole work as it unfolds around them; they have no idea of their contribution to that whole, nor of its meaning; few, apart from the Conductor, are capable of holding the entire symphony within them as they play.
No wonder the human performance is so faulty, so indeterminate, so lacking in awareness of its purpose!
To make matters worse, nearly every member of this orchestra is trying to play on broken strings; frayed strings; strings patched up with knots in them; the wrong strings; strings so often broken off and realigned that there is no length left to mend with; strings out of tune unnoticed by a tone-deaf player.
Other players can help these last to re-tune; it is a question of drawing attention to those things in their life that they would put right once their eyes were opened.
Somehow the instrument must be kept in good shape, and the player continually taught and encouraged, if the part he plays is to be true to the Composer's intention, true to his individual interpretation, technically well-played, and performed with feeling, and awareness of meaning, taking full advantage of the scope given for improvisation. A good instrument, in which all parts are as sound as they can be, with an experienced player who is capable of drawing on his every faculty in performance and of cooperation with both the rest of the orchestra and the Conductor, is fitted for the freedoms of solo passages, of leadership, of cadenza, of sustaining his or her individual role in such a manner that the symphony becomes a concerto. These are relatively rare souls, as are those who choose an unconventional instrument. Most of us, if we value the music (and this implies that we must have a little knowledge of its shape and meaning) and wish it to be heard clearly, must endeavour to make the richest contribution to the orchestra that we can; and that means that first, even as we play - since the music will not wait for us - we must become as proficient as possible in handling both our abilities and the instrument we are given (or freely choose.)
We must be willing to learn from those who are more adept and know the subtleties of the score; we must respect the composer even in exercising the freedoms given; we must listen to the whole as it unfolds; we must allow ourselves to be guided by the Conductor, for He is there to guide us, knowing what may be made of the music if men will only follow Him in their endeavour (by Him I mean any source of such guidance that is greater than our own judgement.) We must know our capabilities and limitations in order to become as expert in coordination as we may; we must know, and use, every part of our being; we must, when technique fails us, allow feeling to carry us on, and lacking this, resort to our best possible techniques - and of course ultimately these factors must be finely blended to express the best that is in us, for neither on its own is enough. Technique alone is cold, and feeling alone is undisciplined, unreliable, too much in flux to be consistently creative.
So how do we do all this if our strings keep breaking?
The Composer needs us to recreate his creation, to give it Life; so we must keep ourselves alive. But broken strings?
Many years ago, Jacqueline Dupré was performing Dvorak's Cello Concerto, when, in the second movement, a string broke. What do you do at such a moment? When something alive and growing in meaning is interrupted by such a crisis, denied its proper continuance, and frustrated of resolution? She didn't tie a knot in the string, or try to salvage what remained of its length; the music had already been disturbed, and the ensuing quality would have suffered badly by such attempts to patch up the instrument and the performance. No: with poise and decisiveness she stopped the music, explained the dilemma, and walked to her room to fetch a fresh string for her cello. She returned shortly, but without haste, fastened and tuned the new string, and then did not continue with the movement, but started it from its beginning to finish the Concerto amid enthusiastic and appreciative applause.
Without that string, her performance and the whole Concerto would have been lost. Without each of our Life-principles functioning wholly and effectively, we and our lives cannot be whole, nor those of the people we love and live with, since we all play parts in the same music. Had she made haste, she could have tripped on her gown, or knocked over the music-stands, or flustered the players, or upset the Conductor, or muffed her mending, and would definitely have spoiled the meaning of the entire performance . Had she tried to take up the music where she left off, the whole work would have lost its continuity; and with that, again, its meaning.
A failing or broken Life-principle must be not patched, but replaced, either by a fresh manifestation of itself, or by a totally new aspect of itself. For example, the Venus principle embraces both Love and Beauty, both money and pleasure, both the Female and good food of the sweeter kind. So if a man is poor all his life, his best road to wholeness here is through Love; if Love is denied a man, then he may do well to surround himself with beauty; if both are not for him, he may tend to compensate by living for pleasure, and eating sweet things! Likewise, Jupiter may be equally well-served by successful commerce, extensive travel, magnanimity, legal affairs, or "mental stretching". So, if the Jupiter string snaps, and cannot be renewed in the familiar manner, an alternative not only may, but must be chosen.
Such choices must not be hurried, nor can they be for very long avoided; otherwise the unused, unchannelled principle, the missing note, unbalances the totality of being, starving the music, impoverishing the capacity for eventual self-realisation and the lives of those who are bound to those parts of you which enrich their own harmonies, If a principle is buried deliberately, left too long unused, it begins to atrophy like an unexercised limb, or to distort its effects on the life if it is so strong as to insist on independent activity in the psyche.
Hence the pompous Sun where the Self is not properly known in its true relation to others; the Moon, that, denied its freedom of response, its tenderness and intuitive action, becomes clinging instead of cherishing, becomes vacillating, sensation-seeking, cagey, old-womanish and hopelessly insecure. Hence the shallowness and instability of Mercury starved of the rich variety of experience and mental food that it demands; vain Venus that loves no-one but herself; the cowardly bullying of Mars, domineering and selfish without a worthwhile crusade into which to pour his energies, enthusiasms, and love of contest. Hence the gluttony of a Jupiter without joy; the defeatism of a disorganised and fearful Saturn unwilling to face inevitable tasks and responsibilities; Uranus, " Rebel Without A Cause "; the degrading messes of a Neptune not nourished with vision, music, compassion, paint or spiritual love, and locked away front the sea; and the appalling tyranny that Pluto can substitute for spiritual leadership and profound moral persuasion.
The negative effects of repressed principles must be avoided at all costs, and positive alternatives found wherever there is a failing or falling-short; that which is broken must be replaced, not patched! A botched job only falls apart again in the vast majority of cases, or at least is inadequate for its purpose. And fresh beginnings are out of place, fouled up, in the middle of old and broken irresolutions. No: the Self must be swept clean, Life must be cleared out and tidied, the unfinished phrases discarded from the mind and the frayed remains of familiar strings thrown away. Then fit your new string; then, after a pause for preparation, and the careful tuning and sounding of your mended Self, then begin the movement at a beginning, playing all the better for the second chance, using the opportunity not to repeat the old musical errors.
Dupré was playing again with same orchestra; sometimes we even have to change orchestras, if the first insists on a substitute soloist or third viola or whatever and carries on without us. But the music, the life, goes on. We can all make good music if we Will.