Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Passion and Pride

NOTE: The Gryphon Astrology Blog has moved to

As traditional astrologers, we love our malefics, Saturn and Mars. Not when they act on us, of course, and we find ourselves caught in a Saturnian vise or a Martial tempest. Nonetheless, we pride ourselves on understanding these two planets are meanies to some degree and given half a chance, they will do their utmost to ruin our glorious designs.

However, according to Traditional thought, it is not Saturn and Mars we should really fear, but rather the Sun and Mars, the two Hot and Dry planets. For traditional metaphysicians, passion and pride are the most serious obstacles to spiritual pursuits. Pride is the ugly side of the royal Sun, and passion quite simply is Mars. Frithjof Schuon, in his Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism, speaks of the problems associated with each vice.

Astrologically speaking, we can discern what these problems are and how they operate in us. We can also watch for the two planets’ operation in natal charts. Pride is said to be a particularly insidious sin, said St. Augustine, because it is the only vice that attaches itself to virtue, rather than fleeing from it. This is very true in any chart: imagine that you have a perfectly lovely Venus in Libra in the 10th house, such that you simply overflow with the milk of human kindness and can share it easily with the world.

Now imagine that this Venus is uncomfortably close to the fallen Sun in Libra, which, in this particular chart, likes to claim accomplishments it knows it does not deserve. And so, where before we had an unadulterated strength, the Sun’s merciless rays turn it to a weakness. Just as no planet is safe from the Sun; no virtue is immune from pride’s destructive tendencies.

Schuon says that passion causes two chief problems: attachment and insatiability. Here, we turn to Mars’s dignities and debilities to understand the difficulties Mars can cause. Mars is strong in its own signs, Aries and Scorpio, and in its exaltation, Capricorn. It is important to remember that though Mars is personified in the following explanation, the application of this is not liimited to natal charts; sign placements in horaries and electional charts are extraordinarily revealing as well.

In Aries, Mars is strong because it remains unattached; the quick-moving cardinal fire sign will not permit Mars to dwell too long on any given desire. The dark side of this placement, however, is the weakness of insatiability; in its eagerness to conquer everything and lose no time, Mars’s hunger for new experiences produces a lack of focus and the drive to pursue an impossible quest.

The converse is true for Mars in Scorpio, a fixed water sign. Water is the desire nature, but fixed water (ice!) forces Mars to slow down and move cautiously and deliberately in pursuit of its passion. Such slow-moving passion is just another word for attachment, this placement’s weakness. Mars is Scorpio is slow to adopt the new and slow to let go of the old.

Finally, Mars in Capricorn is disciplined and given firm boundaries by Capricorn’s ruler, Saturn.. Mars’s unrestrained passion becomes very focused and controlled. However, as a planet in exaltation is not quite as strong as in its own sign, Capricorn does not fully address Mars’s innate tendency to attachment and insatiability; it merely puts Mars into something of a straitjacket.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice insight into the malefics. I am interested to know what philosophical and astrological works you have been reading that excite you.
I look forward to hearing about them.

Respectfully, Peter


11:19 PM  
Blogger Gryphon said...

Dear Peter, thank you very much for your kind words. In the future, I would like to reference my posts more directly to the stuff I read. It's important to me that people can go back to the traditional sources.
Let's see, some titles:
Ringstones of Wisdom (Fusus al-hikam) by Ibn 'Arabi [trans. C. Dagli] is a stunningly profound text.
Reign of Quantity by Rene Guenon makes for a great read and reread.
Any of Guido Bonatti's astrology books, published by Project Hindsight are definitely exciting and leave one thirsting for more.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nina,

Thanks for getting back to me on those works. I've been meaning to read Guenon's work for some time, so I just purchased "The reign of quantity...". I also bought the book, "Mystical astrology according to Ibn 'Arabi the other day. It is too bad they are not offered in any of the libraries in my area.
I was wondering which Bonatti book you recommend first. I recall reading that John Frawley actually considers him to be an equally adept astrologer as William Lilly, but amongst horary astrologers at least, I rarely hear of Bonatti. Would you recommend checking out his book on horary that was translated by the hindsight team? I'm farely new to traditional astrology and don't know where to start.

Thanks, Peter

11:30 PM  
Blogger Gryphon said...

Dear Peter,

Mystical Astrology according to Ibn 'Arabi is great, but not what I would start with. I understood it (a little) only many books later. I'm planning to put together a reading list to post; I'm sure you're not the only one with questions on reading.

The Hindsight Bonatti books are good (you really need all four), and the Zoller translations are all very good (you can buy them on Robert Zoller's website).


7:40 PM  

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