The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 112, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Chet Zdrowski
Episode originally released on August 5, 2015
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Sheila Reynolds
Transcription released September 15th, 2019
Copyright © 2019 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
Chris Brennan: In this episode I will be talking with astrologer Chet Zdrowski about the life and work of the famous 20th century astrologer Dane Rudhyar.
CB: Chet, welcome back to the show.
Chet Zdrowski: Hi Chris, thanks for having me.
CB: We’re talking about Dane Rudhyar who was a highly influential astrologer who lived between 1895 and 1985. His life and career (in the astrological community) spanned for almost a century and his period of activity was from the 1930s through the 1980s. He became one of the most influential astrologers of the twentieth century in setting the foundations for much modern astrological practice but not everybody realizes how influential he was.
Rudhyar is someone you have studied for quite some time?
CZ: Yes I have, he is actually quite fascinating and there is a lot of material. We discussed the other day that he has around 50 books he wrote and lots of articles, so there is a lot of material and at least 30 of those books were astrology books. Rudhyar wrote several philosophy books and psychology books but many of those had a lot of astrology also.
CB: He was a prolific author and one of the things we realized the other day when we spoke was that he was one of the most prolific astrological authors ever. I’m trying to think of anyone who has written more books than Dane Rudhyar but I’m struggling. I can’t think of anyone as prolific as him, can you?
CZ: We went through a list and I don’t think we came up with anyone who wrote half of that.
CB: Alan Leo and Marc Edmund Jones and other authors wrote several or a dozen books each but Rudhyar writing 30 plus astrology books kind of blows everyone out of the water! He’s a hugely prolific author and to understand Rudhyar’s place in history you have to contextualize where astrology was coming from: astrology died out essentially in the West in the 17th century and reached a low point, where it wasn’t really practised much in the 17th, 18th or early 19th centuries. Then towards the end of the 19th century it started to be revived, especially by the Theosophical Society and the growing New Age movement. So astrology was revived as part of this growing interest in the occult/new age/alternative, spirituality-type movement that was happening in the West and astrology played a large part in that.
It’s interesting there are three figures in the West often credited with both the revival, popularization and modern conceptualization of astrology. The first is Alan Leo, who at the beginning of the 20th century wrote a lot of very influential astrology books in English, some of which were translated into other languages and spread internationally, this really helped to revive and popularize astrology again: the practice of casting birth charts and other types of astrological charts. So you have Alan Leo in the early 20th century, Marc Edmund Jones is the second pivotal figure and finally, Dane Rudhyar.
The interesting thing about Dane Rudhyar is that his period of activity spans all the way from the 1930’s through the 1980’s. He is a really interesting middle, or transitional, figure during a very crucial time when astrology was revived in the West. Also when it exploded in popularity, especially in the 1960’s and ‘70s with the younger generation and the hippies and counterculture movement, who got very interested in astrology and then found this very deep-thinking astrologer , Dane Rudhyar, who had been writing dozens of books since the 1930’s. At that point his popularity took off even more and that was the time when you found him, right?
CZ: Yes, those were certainly some of the first serious astrology books I ran into and they were amazing. You know there were Rosicrucian books and coffee table books but what he was doing was on a different level entirely and it was pretty impressive. His timing was wonderful because in the ‘60s there was an explosion of interest and here was Rudhyar with all of this material. He was 70 years old at that point but he was pretty darned vigorous! He had a lot to do with spreading the popularity of astrology at that time. Alan Leo did not have the kind of mass possibility that Rudhyar had.
CB: Yes, where Alan Leo was pushing astrology towards more character analysis and less concrete prediction of events and things like that, Rudhyar really was one of the first, true psychological astrologers in some sense. He was really a thinking man’s astrologer because he was often trying to go back and look at the basic techniques and take them back to first principles, so you could figure out what the underlying philosophy of all the techniques were first, and then work out the details from there. I’m sure there must have been something about Rudhyar that was really appealing, especially compared to his contemporaries, because he had that very spiritual and philosophical approach, it was also well thought out and intellectual in some sense, right?
CZ: Absolutely, it was very impressive at the time and still is.
CB: While Rudhyar can’t be attributed the popularization of astrology in the same way that Alan Leo could in the early 20th century, Rudhyar really is probably one of the most, if not the most, pivotal figure in establishing the philosophical and conceptual foundations for modern astrology in the 20th century. Most of the things that modern Western astrology has turned into today can often be traced back to Rudhyar setting a foundation for that in either subtle or overt ways. That is important because one of the points you have made in the past is that many astrologers today have often been exposed to the ideas and different philosophical and conceptual premises that he first outlined, without necessarily knowing they originated with him. Because they had become so ingrained into the astrological tradition and so many later authors after Rudhyar adopted and read his works and were influenced by them, they became commonplace ideas that have been filtered down over successive generations at this point?
CZ: Right and it’s great to have those ideas there, it’s beautiful. I have some friends who said: ‘You know it’s kind of funny – his ideas are all around in modern astrology but a lot of people are forgetting his name at this point’. So I welcome this opportunity, this is great.
CB: Well let’s give an overview of his life and work and we can help people to understand what a crucial figure he was, why his work was important and why it is still relevant and why his ideas still demand some attention today from astrologers, no matter what tradition you are coming from.
Rudhyar was born in the late 19th century, correct?
CZ: Yes. He was born as Daniel Chennevièee\re in 1895 in Paris. He was born into a middle class, Catholic, Parisian family. He called them very bourgeois. His father owned a small factory. In his early years they were pretty well off, not fabulously so but it was very middle class. Young Daniel had an interest in music and the piano and in reading. He was a pretty voracious reader. He also had a lot of health problems, the list is impressive of health problems in his youth, the worst one being when he was aged 11 he lost a kidney and an adrenal gland. At that time they thought if you only had one kidney you would have a very short life span and that didn’t turn out to be the case for Rudhyar. He lived to age 90 and had pretty good health overall.
Because of all the medical problems he had a lot of home schooling and he was a very bright person who could absorb a lot, so homeschooling worked out well for him. Losing the kidney turned out to be something of a blessing in that he didn’t get drafted into the French army in World War II, where his chances of dying would have been really high. So this was a case of something which was difficult being also a bit of a blessing.
His reading list while he was at home in convalescence in home schooling was pretty impressive. He read all of Nietzsche, Freud, Bergsen, Plato, most of the Platonists and this was quite a reading list for a teenager.
CB: He was widely read as a youth partially due to the health issues and due to the home schooling and so from very early on he learned how to do that sort of research and read widely and have an expansive scope in terms of his philosophical and metaphysical understanding of the world?
CZ: Yes, but he probably wasn’t going outside and playing with the other kids quite as much. He made up for that with books. At age 16 his favorite uncle passed away and a couple of months later his father died, which of course turned the family upside down and was pretty upsetting. It often happens when people go through crises or great difficulties, sometimes they have major insights, major epiphanies. He said that during that period he had this sartori .. something like this, something you remember your whole life, and he understood the cyclic nature of the world: that everything worked in circles, in cycles and he could see it everywhere. He had a vision of the old world, you know the European society was starting to go into its Autumn and he thought about the New World and he thought it was just entering its Spring time. It’s almost as if at that point he had some subconscious decision to move to America, he really viewed that as a whole different part of the cycle. This idea of cycles was huge to him.
CB: Yes, that became his core underlying philosophy and that became central to almost all of his astrological work later as an adult, right?
CZ: Absolutely. That was probably the core thing. The other day you gave a really nice description of the archetypal cycle. How would you explain that?
CB: Well, instead of putting that discussion off until later maybe we could have it here, just because this is so core and interesting that, he wasn’t into astrology at this point but he still remembered later in life having this first epiphany about the cyclic nature of the world at the age of 16, after the traumatic loss of his father and uncle. Later, when he got into astrology, he would come across books and there would be different significations, like the meanings of the signs of the zodiac or the meanings of the twelve house, or aspects and he tried to look underneath all of that in order to figure what the core underlying principles that all of that was deriving from. (approx 13 mins)
His conclusion was that all of those things had to do with cycles, and you couldn’t just look at everything … like most of what we were doing in astrology in looking at those individual significations was looking at their individual meanings within the context of the broader cycle, and if you understood that and looked at it from the broader perspective, you would understand all of the different manifestations within the cycle. For example, I think he started with the zodiac and in reconceptualizing the zodiac as the starting point of a cycle that begins when the Sun passes over the vernal equinox at Aries, and then has different turning points during the course of that cycle, like when the Sun hits the summer solstice or when the Sun hits the fall equinox, or eventually the winter solstice, and those being the starting points in the tropical zodiac of the cardinal signs and that everything within the zodiac is just a subdivision of those cycles that have specific properties or qualities, right?
CZ: Excellent, very well put.
CB: On the one hand that became his access point for understanding the signs of the zodiac, understanding it in terms of cycles of development. Then he took that concept and applied it to the houses and said that the houses are also just a type of cycle of development that starts with the Ascendant and then moves counterclockwise around the chart through the successive houses. Each of those different houses represents a different, almost like a slice of the pie, within the overall context of the pie as a whole and that each phase of that has different qualities because of where it falls within the overall cycle as a whole.
Eventually he applied that to the aspect doctrine as well and so the doctrine of aspects starts with the conjunction, then it moves around the successive aspects: through the opening sextile, the opening square, then the opening trine and then the opposition and then the closing or waning trine, the waning square and the waning sextile before it eventually comes back to the conjunction. You can understand the aspect doctrine also as just studying a whole cycle and that each individual cycle is just one part of that cycle and that is really what you are trying to get to with the individual significations essentially, right?
CZ: Yes, well put. There was an archetype to how the cycle works. The part of his key idea also was that every cycle creates seeds; in the second half of the cycle there is some kind of seed. He very much used the vegetative cycle to illustrate this. So there were seeds, some of which will germinate in the next cycle and there are always residues. He would sometimes say, ‘Do you want to be the seed or do you want to be the humus?’
It is great to see someone come up with such a strong insight at that early age and have it go through their entire career.
CB: In terms of the vegetative cycle, what do you mean about that, like in terms of the zodiac for example?
CZ: Well, you can more immediately apply it to the lunar cycle, the idea that things germinate at the beginning of the cycle and they grow. A foundation is made and it is as if a plant is growing and at the First Quarter, it is big enough that it can get eaten by squirrels, or pests, it can have problems, it meets resistance. But then it keeps growing and reaches a flowering stage at the Full Moon, at the opposition and then it starts creating a fruit and seeds and those seeds can come out in the next cycle.
So this image of the vegetation cycle is really core to what he was doing and he could apply that in a lot of places.
CB: Sure, and that brings with it ideas of youth on one side of the cycle versus maturity on the other. And all sorts of other connections and underlying meanings and metaphors and things?
CZ: Exactly, there are a lot of places we can go with this and in fact later on we’ll go there! (laughs)
CB: Brilliant. So that is one of his core underlying philosophies and contributions to astrology in reconceptualizing it within the context of cycles and it’s very striking he had that first epiphany, not in an astrological context, but there was some inkling of that very early in his life at the age of 16. He was also very into music and that was really his first love?
CZ: Right! He spent a lot of time playing the piano and composing music when he was young. At age 17 he wrote a book about Debussy which was very well received. I read somewhere he may have even met Debussy.
CB: Debussy was a famous composer?
CZ: Yes, probably one of the most famous French Romantic composers from around that time at the turn of the century. From the age of 17 Rudhyar spent a lot of time in Paris and avant-garde music circles, learning a lot, playing a lot of music, composing but he still had this idea in his head that somehow he was going to end up in the New World. At 21 an uncle of his died and left him a few thousand francs, as he said, so he got on a boat with a couple of friends and they sailed off to America! He arrived here in 1916 in New York but a few thousand francs was not going to go that far so after he got settled a bit he started living the ‘starving artist’ archetype . You know, trying to find a way to keep himself afloat. He said he was walking around with pennies in his pocket, it really was that archetype .
He found work doing music copying because in those days you had to do all this by hand and he was very good with music notation so a lot of composers and New York musicians were getting him to copy scores, which he would do in his basement apartment. He did house concerts, especially for serious music which is what he did, they didn’t happen in concert halls, mostly it happened at house concerts and he did house lectures. He was very bright and apparently people wanted to listen to him. New York winters are very hard, it was quite cold and he didn’t have money for heat in his apartment, so he would be sitting there working with gloves on. He said he developed the habit of going to the New York city library to get warm! That had just been completed a year or two earlier so it was a nice, new library and he just dove into the philosophy and spirituality sections and he read all kinds of Indian classics. He was introduced to Buddhism and all sorts of occult and metaphysical topics.
In 1918 he decided to change his name from Chennevière to Rudhyar. I guess in his research he ran into something about the Vedic god Rudra and he was the god of storms and disruptions and Rudhyar was a Sun sign Aries so I guess he identified with storms and disruptions!
He picked a first name also, Dane. I believe someone told him he had to have a first name for legal reasons and I don’t even know if that was true or not but it’s close enough to Daniel, without being Dan, so he would be Dane. Hardly anybody called him Dane, all his wives and friends would call him Rudhyar and on his books it would say Dane Rudhyar but if you just said, “Hey Dane” to him on the street I don’t know that he would even turn around.
CB: So he is going through this whole interesting phase at this point, having moved to the US, living in New York, going to the public library and continuing his extensive reading, moving into philosophical thought and reading especially about Eastern philosophies at this point and still with music being primarily his thing, at least work-wise at that point but eventually at some point that changed?
CZ: It gradually changed. He got a commission to do a score for a play in Hollywood in 1920. He crossed the country and worked on this play, did the score. While he was in Hollywood, he liked it in California! He had a friend who was going to Krotona which was the Theosophical center in Hollywood. He went to at least one astrology class and he liked it. He thought it was interesting. It didn’t become his thing right away, he was exposed to it and that planted some seeds.
CB: This was 1920?
CZ: 1920 was his first astrology class.
CB: It was something he thought was interesting but he didn’t really run away with it at that point?
CZ: No, it didn’t become his life thing right away. He was interested in theosophy but the Theosophical Society at that point was turning into something of a mess, that often happens after the founder dies. Blavatsky died in 1891 I believe, so this was considerably after that and of course, there was in-fighting, politics. He saw all of this and did not want to join the Theosophical Society but he had a friend, an Indian theosophist, a very mysterious, interesting figure – B.J. Waddia. He was an Indian theosophist and an amazing writer and he kind of took Rudhyar under his wing for a couple of years and that’s where Rudhyar learned most of his theosophy. For a couple of years he made a daily practice of reading Blavatsky’s works. So he was a free lance theosophist, I guess I would say, not an institutional theosophist.
CB: And that is as opposed to somebody like Alan Leo for example. That’s a notable thing, you have three guys, three astrologers in the early twentieth century who are the foundational figures for what became 20th century modern Western astrology and they were all theosophists.
Alan Leo, Marc Edmund Jones and Dane Rudhyar were all theosophists, although Alan Leo was living in London in the U.K. when Madame Blavatsky was still alive and he was in the heart of it, whereas Rudhyar was coming somewhat later, after Blavatsky had died and the organization had fragmented a bit. There were a few different teachers setting up their own approaches to theosophy and I guess what you are saying is that he (Dane Rudhyar) was not necessarily drawn into it and was somewhat put off by some of the institutional politics. He was more interested in the general theory underlying theosophy, because there is sometimes a distinction brought up in historical discussions about this, which is that there is theosophy as it is defined, with a lowercase ‘t’ which is in theory just the idea that … I mean how would you define that? There are many different philosophies around the world but they all have some core underlying truth or connection between them?
CZ: Yes, Blavatsky didn’t really feel like she was introducing something new. She said this was really a rebirth of the perennial philosophy and she did a lot to bring together Western esotericism, you know Platonism, Hermeticism, alchemy all those kinds of things, together with Buddhism, Hinduism – all of these new philosophies that were becoming available from the East. She was not an astrologer at all but her work was full of allusions to the planets, to cycles especially – there was a lot about cycles.
So when Rudhyar read this I’m sure he was like “Aahh, I’m right there”. Her whole thing was about cycles so that must have been really exciting to him, to remind him of that insight that he had. It was fertile territory for astrologers so there were really several generations of astrologers who were influenced a lot by theosophy, even if they weren’t organized theosophists, it was just such a stimulating set of teachings.
CB: It’s tricky because on the one hand there is the underlying theory of theosophy with a lowercase ‘t’, which is that there is an interchangeability or there are many different philosophical traditions that have come to similar insights and they are not in conflict, but instead they can be merged together or seen as different variations of the same thing. Therefore it provides a pretext or encouragement to study many different philosophical and religious traditions and to try to merge them or find where they can meet, versus the Theosophical Society as an organization with a capital ‘TS’. This is essentially the doctrine and organization that Madame Blavatsky founded in the late 19th century, which has theoretically at least, theosophy at its core but then there are a lot of other things heaped on top of it which have to do with her claims at having channeled divinely revealed wisdom from ascended Tibetan masters and things like that. There are other people in the Theosophical Society like Alice Bailey who also introduced new doctrines claiming to be channeled. So Rudhyar, being someone who was already widely read up to that point, probably had a lot of interest in the general philosophy of seeing the truth or validity in many different religious or philosophical approaches but may have been put off by some of the politics that came with the institutional aspects of the Theosophical Society?
CZ: Exactly right. I’ve read that people actually used the word ‘theosopher’ way back in Hellenistic days, with a small ‘t’. I’m not sure about that, maybe you know! But they claimed to not have come up with that term.
CB: There is a really great book on this topic we read at Kepler College when we studied early 20th century astrology and were focused on the Theosophical Society, Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon is the title of the book and I think the author is Peter Washington. It’s a great overview of the history and origins of the Theosophical Society in the late 19th and early 20th century as well as some of the later schools and breakaway traditions that came out of the Theosophical Society. Also, it really focuses on the time period that Rudhyar would have come in – at the tail end of, so you can get a lot better historical context for the sort of things that Rudhyar was seeing – on the one hand things that would have appealed to him but on the other hand things that would have been off-putting at the same time during that period of the 1920’s and 1930’s?
CZ: Yes. Theosophy – there is a fair amount of baggage involved, no doubt. There was also a lot of inspiration for a couple of generations of astrologers. Blavatsky herself was a very controversial figure, there was a lot of scandal and controversy but on the other hand there was a lot of interesting things she brought to people’s attention. You know, Rudhyar took that ball and ran with it for sure!
CB: Something we spoke of the other day: I was talking to an astrologer about this other little school of astrology that started in the past 20 or 30 years where the founder claims to have channeled or had some divine inspiration in order to come up with this new system of astrology recently. My initial inclination to that, because I’m much more interested usually in the underlying philosophy and in the empirical approach to astrology, so sometimes I am uncomfortable with putting this mystic ‘thing’ on astrology when someone is introducing a new approach or a new technique and claims it was divinely inspired. However, one of the interesting realizations I had about that, when I was reflecting on my own reaction to that, was there have actually been a few different points in the astrological tradition in the past few thousand years where astrologers have either claimed that or used that as a pretext in order to introduce a new system. In some instances they are clearly just synthesizing previous approaches but instead of taking credit for it, they are attributing this system to coming from someone else and it just being revealed to them and on some level this is what Blavatsky did. She claimed she was getting messages from ascended Tibetan masters and stuff like that and supposedly that was what she was writing down in her books The Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled which were like the foundational texts of the Theosophical Society.
On some level it seems you have that in the astrological tradition as well, like in the 1st century BCE in the Hellenistic tradition with the founding of Hellenistic astrology, it was really popular in occult circles to not take credit for a work but instead to attribute the work to a divine, or legendary or mythical figure. That is why we have books attributed to Hermes Trismegistus or Asclepios or books attributed to Nechepso and a priest named Petosiris. Those actually became some of the most influential foundational texts of the astrological tradition but they were attributed to other people and those texts themselves may have been claimed to have been divinely inspired or revealed wisdom of some sort.
It’s an interesting recurring phenomenon where even if you’re uncomfortable with that, which I am on some level, it’s interesting to note that that is a recurring phenomenon and perhaps something worth exploring. Even some recent modern traditions, like some branches of evolutionary astrology essentially claim this?
CZ: Sure. I guess we can say that inspiration comes in a lot of different ways also.
CB: Circling back to Rudhyar, he also had some side jobs at this point and there is a possibility that he could have taken a different career track in the 1920’s?
CZ: Yes, well he’s in Hollywood .. a Frenchman gets to Hollywood and he was acting in silent films for a while as an extra, as a stand-in. He did that for a while. Finally, he gave it up because in his words it was “uncertain and boring”. He was even cast to play Christ in a play for 2 to 3 months and if you’ve seen pictures of Rudhyar that’s not hard to buy, that would work!
He did house concerts just like he had done in New York. He also started doing house lectures on psychology, music, philosophy and art. He wrote for a lot of different magazines at that time. He was writing articles for music magazines, metaphysical magazines, again psychology articles. He had several different pen names so by midway into the 1920s he already had this writing vocation going. His primary activity in Hollywood, aside from writing and concerts, was composing and performing music. This was a period in his life of the most volume of compositions, but he brought writing and music together too, he wrote a couple of books on music during this period and one was called, The Rebirth of Hindu Music which has been given credit for being one of the first books on Indian music in English, he did that in about 1927.
So he was pretty active in music and writing and he seemed to like California. It seemed like he was going to stay and in 1930 his first wife gave him some copied notes from Marc Edmund Jones’ astrology class. Ten years before this Rudhyar had taken the class at the Theosophical Society and thought it was interesting but when he read Marc Jones’ writing he was really excited, he said, “Ah there are totally different possibilities for astrology”. I don’t know what was in all these notes, I can gather from reading things later on what was in it but it really got him excited that astrology could be used in some other way than what he had learned.
CB: So this is the point where he really caught the astrology bug and astrology started to become his primary focus?
CZ: He got really driven, the way he would and so yes, he started really inhaling astrology at that point.
CB: Marc Edmund Jones is interesting because he really is a middle figure between Alan Leo and Alan Leo is still drawing on 17th century astrology which is when some of the first astrology books are written in English. It’s basically when the switch occurred, because prior to that point astrology books in Europe were being written in Latin and then suddenly you have William Lilly writing the first major text book on astrology in English in 1647. But that was when astrology started dying out basically so you have a few decades of books being written like that and that is some of the stuff that Alan Leo would have been drawing on but he also wanted to simplify the techniques of astrology and push it more towards character analysis. Then you have Mark Edmund Jones who almost represents a continuation of that, where you get a more character driven astrology and a little bit more simplified technical astrology, like 20th century astrology but he also had this very New Age or theosophical bent (Marc Edmund Jones) and that is probably some of the insights or psychological or philosophical focus and insights Marc Edmund Jones had and would have shared in his private classes probably would have been the things that Rudhyar got very excited about at that point in 1930?
CZ: I think you’re right. At this point he had his fuse lit.
CB: A decade ago I actually came across some photocopies of the notes of those Marc Edmund Jones’ classes and lectures, they are written out on a typewriter and these are old, old photocopies of classes. He had a few different classes on different types of astrology but one of the things that surprised me was one of the classes was on medieval astrology. He also had a relatively decent class on something like horary astrology or basically the old traditional approach to horary and other types of astrology, so it was interesting and surprising to me to see that some of those early 20th century astrologers were drawing on or had access to some of that stuff, not necessarily all of of it but that it was part of the general things that were going into the synthesis that turned into 20th century astrology.
CZ: Interesting. Rudhyar was a student of Marc Edmund Jones but they were friends really their whole lives after that – the next 50 years of so. Jones lived ‘til 1980 I believe.
CB: So Jones lived similarly long as Rudhyar .
CZ: Yeah, they were both pretty long lived. They had continued contact throughout their lives but it is hard to say how much of Jones’ astrology is in Rudhyar’s, it’s kind of tough to say at this point.
CB: Marc Edmund Jones was born Oct 1st 1888 and Rudhyar was born March 1895.
CZ: Yes, so they weren’t that far apart in age.
CB: Marc Edmund Jones would have been almost a decade older, so he’s a little bit older than Rudhyar and he got a start in astrology a little bit sooner than Rudhyar, so around that time in Rudhyar’s studies Jones would have been much more advanced than him and would have been thinking about the philosophy of astrology longer than Rudhyar. I could see how Rudhyar would have come across that stuff and become very excited about his work initially but then it wouldn’t have taken that long for Rudhyar to catch up and that’s probably why they were more like contemporaries for most of their careers, rather than a teacher/student relationship.
CZ: Yes, I think you’re right, exactly. Also, Rudhyar was still continuing with his music and music was through his whole life. I think if you were to say what he would most want to be remembered for it would probably be his music, which is surprising given his place in the astrological world.
Early on in his reading, I am assuming when he was home as a teenager, he had read stuff about Pythagoras and in all of his books about music he is referencing Pythagoras quite a bit and he could see all the obvious connections between astrology and music, they are all over the place, you know trines and oppositions and cycle of fifths. There are all these concepts in music that would relate to astrology quite strongly and he had this idea of some people in the world being what he called ‘seed’ people. There is something about them that carries a message into a new age or into a new culture. He thought that Pythagoras was one of these people. He brought in a lot of concepts like you know the foundational [approx 40 mins] importance of numbers and reincarnation and all these other ideas that Pythagoras had. He consciously referenced Pythagoras in his last book about music in the 1980’s, so he was consciously thinking in those terms.
In 2009 there was a biography published and it was a music biography of Rudhyar. It is basically about his music. It covers him as an astrologer very little and I think that would have made him just really, really happy that the first biography was not even an astrological one but a musical biography.
CB: But not in the sense that he looked down on his astrological career or devalues it, but that he was actually recognized as a composer by people almost a century later.
CZ: Yes and then this woman wrote a biography saying he was a highly under-appreciated modern composer. Rudhyar’s music was interesting. He was not just a Modernist, he was an ultra-Modernist. He was very avant garde and if anyone is familiar with this kind of music his style of music was perhaps in the style of Scriabin or Schoenberg or Varese. It was very challenging music, it wasn’t background music by any means, you know he would use the entire piano keyboard; his music had dissonance, it had challenging rhythms, it is challenging music. He could have done it the easy way and just played Chopin and Debussy and Saint-Saens and all those great French classical music composers, but there was something in him that had to be on the edge, it had to be avant garde. If anyone is interested in hearing some of his music, without making a big deal about it, you could just go on YouTube and there is a piece called Stars. If you just type in Rudhyar and Stars you will come up with this fascinating piece. Or Kronos Quartet – this is a famous string quartet and in the 1970 s Rudhyar was so happy about this, they did a whole string quartet version of some of his pieces. Those are available on YouTube and will give you some idea of what we’re talking about here but it was not meant to be widely popular music. It was challenging, avant garde, interesting and very beautiful when you get used to but some people won’t get used to it.
As his astrology ramped up over the years, he did less music for sure because he was getting all this recognition for astrology and he wasn’t getting as much recognition for music, especially during the Depression and in the ‘30s, it was a tough time in music you know, a lot of the house concert events dried up. So he was doing less of that and in fact he moved to Santa Fe in the ‘40s and took up painting and didn’t play music for quite a while. He became a pretty proficient painter.
CB: Some of his paintings are still around and they are pretty good and interesting which is impressive.
CZ: They are very, as he would call them, archetypal. [approx 47 mins]
CB: Is it true that he often tried to paint or show, through the medium of paint, archetypes?
CZ: Yes, to get a glimpse, as he would say, of the realm of forms, that Plato would have mentioned.
CB: That’s so interesting because he’s a musician, he’s an astrologer, he’s a painter, a philosopher. He really was like a polymath of some sort in that he was very widely read in a number of different fields and he tended to excel in most of the fields in which he engaged. That’s interesting also because it ties in with his interest in the Pythagorean connections between music and astrology and how that is something he would often come back to because it is also unique in terms of his role in the 20th century.
It actually reminds me of another very famous and prominent astrologer which is Claudius Ptolemy from the 2nd century, he was like Rudhyar in that he was also a polymath who focused on a number of different fields and wrote very influential and important works where he excelled in each of those fields. One of those was in the field of harmonics or music theory and another was in astrology and he tried to show the connection between music theory and astrology, so there is an interesting connection in terms of having a singular astrologer who has a huge influence on the later tradition and who is a polymath who excels in and sees the connection between different scientific or philosophical or other types of fields of knowledge.
CZ: Yes that’s very interesting. Within a couple of months of painting people were saying, “You’ve got to be selling these paintings!” You know he had exhibitions within a couple of months of taking up painting!
CB: And some of those ended up on book covers right?
CZ: Yes, that’s right. There are pictures of most of them that you can find on the internet very easily. A lot of them were sold and the originals disappeared, we don’t really know where they are. There was a lot of stuff that’s not really released, it’s hidden away somewhere.
Painting – he didn’t do that for that long. He had a very heavy astrological workload that we’ll talk about. His main period of composing and musical activity was the in the 1920’s and the early ‘30s when his music took off. Later on in the early 1950’s there was a period of interest where people said, “You’ve got to come to New York !” There were a few years of many Rudhyar concerts, and then that kind of died away and then later on in his career – in the late sixties/early seventies, his music blossomed! He had lots of performances – we’ll talk about that later but he had a whole music life that came up later, once he was well known as an astrologer.
His first book was written about music – Debussy. His second book was on Hindu music and then he didn’t write a music book for a long time and the very last book he wrote was called, The Magic of Tone and the Art of Music and he talks a lot of Pythagorean theory and musical theory, it’s a fascinating book, he was really driven to finish this one before he passed. It’s what he really wanted to finish.
CB: And what year was that published?
CZ: It was 1982. Now I heard this in one of his talks, he called astrology ‘applied numerology’! He thought there was so much about numbers and Pythagoreanism in astrology and music!
CB: And that is extended to music and the different chords and the different progressions and things like that?
CZ: Exactly. So those ideas lasted his whole life but as he went on theosophy became less of his main influence. Because he kept reading … in his ideas as he’s starting to take off with astrology, you know you have Alan Leo, Sepharial, Max Heindel, the Rosicrucians, Marc Edmund Jones and some of the earlier astrological authors that he read like Ptolemy and Gadbury, these all came together in his astrology and of course Blavatsky. Someone gave him, in 1932, the complete works of Jung. He apparently took a few months and read the whole thing!
CB: That’s very early, like Jung is still alive and active and suddenly you have this astrologer receiving his works and just devouring them.
CZ: That’s what he would do. That’s not a fast read but apparently he did! He had already read Freud and Burkson who wrote The Creative Evolution which was a book that really sparked him and Platonism; all this came together in what he was doing. But at that time there was a lot of interest in the new sciences – Einstein was pretty well known at that point. The ideas of relativity and of course Sternberg and a lot of the people working on quantum mechanics. Rudhyar read extensively on this stuff, he was always quite up to date on what was going on in the sciences and wholism and the emerging complexity theories. So the new sciences, psychology, astrology was all kind of coming together for him during this period.
CB: And his later works then reflected that, where he tried to synthesize insights from all of those different fields together into a new synthesis. That really echoes things that have happened in different eras in astrology where you have the creation of a new approach to astrology that reflects both integrating and synthesizing the previous traditions but often taking into account the correct scientific understanding and what are the new or the prevailing scientific theories about the nature of the cosmos and how the world works and everything else. [approx 54 minutes]
That often gets integrated into whatever the astrology is at the time and so again that takes us back to somebody like Ptolemy, who in the mid 2nd century wrote the Tetrabiblos and was taking the contemporary prevailing scientific ideas and theories about how the cosmos worked, and was trying to integrate and synthesize them with astrology. This was in order to explain how astrology made sense from the contemporary, scientific, intellectual perspective and to almost place astrology on a more solid footing by giving it that scientific as well as philosophical and metaphysical or empirical footing. So it is interesting seeing Rudhyar doing the same thing. Oftentimes astrology, as it is practiced in any era, partially ends up being a reflection of the way that contemporary people saw the world and how the world was thought to work during those time periods.
CZ: Yes, it’s fascinating
CB: Rudhyar, still in the 1920’s and ‘30s, was a prolific author, right?
CZ: He seemed to be writing his entire life. All through the 1920s he wrote for a lot of different kinds of magazines – art, music, psychology, philosophy articles all through the 1920s, but once he started reading the Marc Edmund Jones material he wrote a bunch of pamphlets that he called Harmonic astrology and this is really fascinating stuff. It had to do with music theory and chords and he equated it to the Sun, Moon and the Ascendant being a chord and all this interesting stuff – a lot of interesting ideas. Alice Bailey had found some of these pamphlets and really liked them and she introduced him to a gentleman named Paul Clancy who was an astrological publisher. He was just starting a magazine called American Astrology that’s been a very long lived magazine.
In 1931 Paul Clancy told Rudhyar “I will publish whatever you write!” He was so impressed with his books and pamphlets, Harmonic astrology. So Rudhyar got to work and wrote a whole bunch of articles for American Astrology and he had just finished the entire collected works of Jung and he started working on The Astrology of Personality, which is to this day, his best known work and that was published in 1936.
CB: So this was his first major book on astrology – The Astrology of Personality?
CZ: It was probably his 7th book over all, he had written several music books but this was his first astrology book.
CB: And retrospectively, speaking a quarter of a century later, this is a landmark publication. I’m not sure how popular it was when it was first released but certainly in subsequent decades it came to be recognized as a very important and influential text right? [approx 58 mins]
CZ: Yes and it was by no means a beginner’s book, it was clearly intermediate or advanced. It was popular in terms of being a serious astrology book, in terms of retail numbers I don’t know how much it sold at first but it certainly made his reputation as a serious astrologer.
CB: So it is like a thinking person’s astrology book. He doesn’t pull any punches intellectually. These are high level discussions of the philosophy and conceptualization of astrology, in addition to the techniques in trying to get to the first principles of how astrology works and why there are significations for certain things. He really wanted to unravel and explain where those came from and what the conceptualization or rationales were.
CZ: Yes, it was very ambitious. In many ways a difficult book because he crammed so much in there. He had articles he had written so it was kind of a combination of articles and new material, as things often are, and it’s been continually in publication. It’s one of his few books that have always been in publication. He was very surprised he said over the years how many people from different parts of the world knew about the book, because America at that time wasn’t necessarily the best place to gauge that. He was always pretty surprised that this had gotten around the world and people had read it!
CB: One of the things about Rudhyar, especially his early writings, was that he was very wordy – and this is a 500 page book, it’s very dense and some of his sentences are complicated and that was almost like a writing style he used very early on. I don’t know to what extent this is true, it’s probably only partially true but a bookseller at a bookstore in Seattle told me ten years ago, that some of Rudhyar’s early writings may have been denser because he was being paid by the word and so there may be some areas where that was relevant. I doubt that that was the only thing motivating him but instead he is just trying to explain very complicated topics and he’s a very deep thinker, so naturally his writing is going to be a little bit hard to penetrate and you can see his writing eventually grow and evolve over the years. Even though Astrology of Personality is one of his more difficult books to read, his books get a little bit easier. There was a progression in terms of his writing style with his astrology books, right?
CZ: Yes, absolutely. You have to remember too that English was his second language so it’s not that easy always to write in your second language and he was expressing difficult, complicated thoughts.
You know a lot of times people start reading Rudhyar and they start with Astrology of Personality because it was such a huge book but it’s difficult and a lot of people don’t get past that and it is a shame because he has other material that is so much easier to read. He wrote a book a few years after that called The Pulse of Life, which is all about the zodiac. It’s just beautiful, it’s poetic and so easy to read and to my mind it is the best book I have ever read about the zodiac. It’s out of print at this time but available for free on Kaldea.com and we’ll talk about that later but I would suggest that is a better place to start reading Rudhyar. [approx 61 mins]
He has a number of other books that are much easier, so even though this book has been continually in print and is really a magnum opus in a lot of ways, there are much easier and more clear things to read.
I think the business about being paid per word was more related to magazine articles, but then they would try to keep the articles short because they didn’t want 20 page articles, they wanted 4, 5 or 6 pages so I think he just wrote more articles to get that penny a word!
CB: That makes sense. The Astrology of Personality is important because even though it is a very difficult book, Rudhyar lays the foundations of modern Psychological Astrology essentially in this book and most of the later things that became commonplace in later authors, who became popular in the Psychological, Humanistic and Transpersonal Astrology movements in the 1980s and ‘90s and more recently. You can trace a lot back to this book and you can see Rudhyar was talking about this material decades and decades before anyone else. He’s got to be one of the first astrologers to truly read and understand Carl Jung’s work and attempt to integrate the Depth Psychology and some of the insights from Carl Jung’s approach to Depth Psychology into his astrology, starting with this book in 1936 essentially.
CZ: Absolutely and he had, apparently, really internalized Jung’s work.
CB: Yeah, and he is laying the foundation with the cyclical phenomena – the approach to viewing astrology as the study of cycles, and recontextualizing the zodiac and the houses and the doctrine of aspects as being different types of cycles but that archetypally, they are all fundamentally the same thing and can be reduced to those concepts. I think that is already in the first book?
CZ: Yes. You know he did a lot of writing in that period, so we had The Astrology of Personality but that kind of kicked off 45 years of writing articles …
CB: Before we move on, I want to make sure we get enough coverage of The Astrology of Personality just because it is such a pivotal work in his career. There are two other things before we move on – one of them is that he says very clearly at one point in this book, that astrology is not the study of celestial influences on earthly events necessarily, but it primarily has to do with correlations between celestial phenomenon and earthly events, so he actually explicitly attempts in The Astrology of Personality to re-conceptualize astrology as dealing with phenomena related to synchronicity or something like that or being acausal phenomenon, right?
CZ: Exactly, astrology of signs I think he would call it.
CB: Right, an astrology of signs rather than an astrology of causes. I’ve got my copy in front of me and I highlighted this from when I read it ten years ago because I thought it was so fascinating, that Rudhyar was already talking about this in the 1930’s but he … I’ll give you one of the paragraphs: he says on page 41,
“ … the proposition of belief rather that planets or stars actually influence individual human beings by the fact of sending their earth-like radio-like waves or rays to earth, which affect biological and psychological processes.
Now even if these rays were discovered and even if it became clear that they act upon atoms and molecules of earth substance in definite and measurable ways, this would in no way prove the usual findings of astrology. A restricted kind of natal astrology might be evolved which might claim after centuries of research the status of an experimental science but this would only solve a fragment of the problems involved in the sum total of astrological ideas.”
So, right there he’s saying at some point we might discover scientifically that the planets and the stars do have some effect on life on earth, in the same way that say the sun affects plants and allows them to grow through photosynthesis or the moon has an effect on the tides and stuff like that. Well we might discover an astrological influence at some point but it won’t fully account for all of the different things that astrologers claim to be able to do with astrology. Instead you have to understand astrology has a symbolic approach to interpreting events through some acausal phenomenon and he returns to that. I was really struck by that because I often assumed that became the dominant paradigm, especially in psychological astrology in the late 20th century, from the 1970’s onward and I assumed it was a later development that happened with astrologers in the 1960’s and ‘70s, once Jung had become fully integrated into the astrological tradition, or at least appropriated by psychological astrologers. But in fact Rudhyar was already making these statements in the 1930’s and emphatically saying that astrology was not necessarily the study of celestial influences.
CZ: Well put.
CB: That’s really something that he stuck with and that was a concept of a philosophical point that he came back to throughout his works, right?
CZ: Yes. [approx 68 mins]
CB: The other thing I wanted to touch on before we move on, about The Astrology of Personality, is there are things like that where you can trace back certain philosophical concepts or certain philosophical techniques to this book.
One of the techniques that traced back to it were the north and south nodes, which at one point about ten years ago I was trying to research because I noticed a weird distinction between the way the north node of the Moon and the south node of the Moon are viewed and interpreted by astrologers in the West, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. They are usually associated with one’s past life and one’s future life, and I noticed when I started reading texts from Hellenistic and medieval astrology they never talked about that, the concept didn’t exist in the pre- 20th century Western tradition.
I then tried to research where did it come from and at what point did it enter into the astrological tradition? So I tried to trace it backwards, starting from the present and I actually got as far back as this book, Dane Rudhyar and The Astrology of Personality where he has a brief discussion about the north and south nodes, which is almost like a philosophical exploration, where he is trying to look at the astronomy of the nodes and he is trying to tease out the meanings and speculate what they might mean. He starts with basic philosophical principles and then tries to go from there and he almost suggests that they might have to do with where the native is going versus where they are coming from. It is almost like a throw away speculative line about ;maybe they have to do with one’s future versus one’s past life’ or something like that.
He doesn’t really explore it very much from there and I’m pretty sure you might be able to trace a large part of where modern astrologers have gone with the nodes and the interpretative framework for using them back to this book! I know that is something we talked about – that it should be a separate episode at some point – all about the nodes and their history and where different influences and things come from but there are little things like that, that are another reason this is an important but sometimes overlooked or under-appreciated book.
CZ: Absolutely. Basically all of the people who came up with Evolutionary Astrology had read Rudhyar pretty thoroughly: Steven Forrest, Jeff Green they were both very well steeped in Rudhyar’s teachings and I agree that the first really big, really thought out presentation about the nodes … because that was a pretty substantial chapter in The Astrology of Personality, it was called “Planetary Interweavings” and he also talked about the Part of Fortune in that same chapter, very interestingly.
CB: I actually highlighted a few lines that might be worth reading here, from the notes section.
“At one end of this line we see the past, the south node, at the other the future. What the personality emerged from, what it is meant to accomplish”.
Then a few paragraphs later,
“By negative accomplishments I mean those which really belong to the soul’s past and which are either a repetition of things so learnt that they have become almost automatic, or the breaking down of psycho-mental crystallizations”.
and then later he says,
“… the nodal axes or lines of nodes give us the directional forces of destiny”.
Reading that in retrospective, from our perspective in the astrological tradition now, all of that is commonplace and we would immediately jump to the conclusion he is talking about the future versus the past life but it is a much more subtle discussion. He’s not immediately jumping to statements – this is your future life and this tells you your past. He seems to be having a philosophical exploration, trying to tease out the concepts, but he ended up setting the foundation that a lot of later astrologers drew on and expanded and in order to create much more elaborate or concrete interpretive principles surrounding the nodes.
CZ: Right. That was a very influential chapter! He wrote about the nodes in a number of books actually but that was really a very clear statement and I think has had a lot of influence, there is a lot of material there. But the quote you just gave is pretty much dead center Evolutionary Astrology isn’t it?
CB: Yeah, it becomes the center and for them it then becomes tied into the broader belief in reincarnation, with the north node signifying where you are going and the south node indicating things in previous lives. For Rudhyar, at least in that book, he was a lot more circumspect about stating that explicitly, or even endorsing that that was the case in a literal sense. It is interesting to see him introducing the idea but talking much more generally and philosophically about it and then seeing how that became a more concrete interpretive principle for later astrologers decades later, who were influenced by Rudhyar’s work and then elaborated upon it.
CZ: Yes. Well, he kept that basic stance really through all his work. He would oftentimes say ‘past lives’ and he would put air quotes on it, which he did in the book The Astrology of Personality. He
(approx 73 mins)
would sometimes say, “Look we may not fully understand how reincarnation works”. He was a very careful person, he didn’t want to overstate things. So he thought it had to do with the past but he wasn’t necessarily willing to turn it into a formal doctrine.
CB: I remember asking Steven Forrest about this a decade ago and it was a really brief conversation. On the one hand he was influenced by Rudhyar and read Rudhyar’s works but I asked him, because I was trying to research the nodes, where did you get that idea from, that the north node is the future and the south node is the past life? He said that he was reading Martin Schulman’s book which was published in the 1960’s or ‘70s and that it was almost a contemporary idea by the time that he got into the astrological community and then he just took it further by then following that line of thought to its full conclusion.
It is interesting and we’ll have to explore this in a separate episode where we actually review the full history of the conceptualization of the nodes. It is interesting thinking about it as a more recent phenomenon, its origins and how it developed as a concept.
CZ: It is a fascinating topic for sure. This is just another place where Rudhyar had a huge influence and it goes right to today.
CB: It’s interesting because we’re talking about a book published in 1936 that then influenced a generation of astrologers who came in in the 1960’s and ‘70s. Then that generation of astrologers has influenced subsequent generations of astrologers who have written their own books, or at least have started to. So it’s like you’re getting Rudhyar still in some of the books you’re reading today but because it’s being filtered through other astrologers, you don’t necessarily know that you’re getting Rudhyar.
CZ: I have had that same discussion with people and they’re quite surprised to hear what he was saying in 1936. Not just about this issue about other things too, but this issue is pretty obvious. He was pretty far in front of the pack in essence.
CB: I have a friend, a prominent modern astrologer, who didn’t know and I had to tell him a few years ago that a lot of the ideas he used can be traced back to Rudhyar. I suggested he should read the discussion about the nodes because everything he was saying about the nodes can be traced back to the discussion in this book from 1936. He was getting it filtered through his teachers over the past few decades and now he is very enthusiastic about Rudhyar and about Rudhyar’s work and life and everything else.
Thanks for lingering on The Astrology of Personality. So now we can move on. This begins a very prolific period in his life in terms of astrological writing, right? (approx 78 mins)
CZ: Sure. He had written his first book and it was a blockbuster in astrological terms I guess you could say. Well, serious astrologers certainly knew about it. Astrology books even now are not blockbusters in the usual sense of the word, I was saying that tongue in cheek. (laughs).
CB: One of the questions is that Rudhyar didn’t really receive a lot of recognition for his astrological texts for the first few decades, until the generation that came in in the 1960’s and ‘70s, right?
CZ: Right. He was continuing to write books and Paul Clancy said I will publish whatever you write. So that’s what happened. Rudhyar started writing and he wrote probably close to 1100 or 1200 articles over the next 45 years and that is quite a pace as you can imagine. Between that and all his books which were coming out at the same time, he was pretty busy. A lot of it was going into articles and magazines. I was very surprised how many astrological magazines were around in those days – there were a lot – probably there were eight or nine that he wrote for and he would oftentimes write under pseudonyms also because he was writing a lot and I’m sure he was getting his penny a word so that was adding up (laughs). As we discussed, it’s got to be one of the highest totals ever.
CB: Yes, in terms of overall astrology books? There were 44 to 50-ish books we’re thinking?
CZ: Yes. I went back and did a recount the other day and I would put it much closer to 50 and then there were pamphlets beyond that! So I finally decided I should figure out how many were astrology and how many were philosophy and with some of them it’s hard to tell! Some of them it’s half astrology and philosophy (laughs).
CB: And then there were books on music and poetry and other things.
CZ: Yeah, he even wrote two novels, which I have not read, maybe I’ll read them some day.
CB: It’s funny because in his birth chart – his birth data can be found on www.astro.com for anyone who is interested. I don’t remember, is this a recorded time or is this rectified?
CZ: He rectified it by about 12 minutes I believe, at one point.
CB: It looks like the given time is between midnight and 1:00 a.m. and he rectified it to 12.42 am which is basically right in the middle but it looks like, regardless of whether it was between midnight and 1:00 a.m. it has Sagittarius rising, so he was born March 23rd, 1895 at, according to his rectified time, 12.42 a.m. in Paris, France and that gives his Ascendant as 13 degrees of Sagittarius rising.
I was looking at his chart the other day trying to understand why he was such a prolific writer and he has Sagittarius rising and the ruler of the Ascendant is Jupiter which is placed in Gemini in the 7th house along with a stellium of other planets. Neptune, Mars and Pluto are also in Gemini and Jupiter is in Gemini ruled by Mercury, and Mercury is at 4 degrees of Pisces. So at least traditionally there is a mutual reception between Mercury and Jupiter being in each other’s domiciles and then he has (at least in whole sign houses) the Moon in the 3rd house in Aquarius. Is that where it is quadrant-wise as well?
CZ: I don’t have his chart in front of me.
CB: So a super Gemini placement, super ramped up Mercury is what we have here and you end up with someone who wrote over a thousand articles and 50 books or something like that.
So we’re guessing, if anyone knows any better please correct us, that this is probably ,,, he’s easily one of but he may actually be the most prolific astrological writer in history, potentially. Right?
CZ: I guess we’ll see what other candidates we get. But I sure can’t think of any.
CB: If anyone wants to correct us please do, but otherwise we will proceed just because I can’t really think of anyone else who has written more actual astrology books and articles, than him. With articles it is a little bit hard to track and I know there are other astrologers who write a ton of articles but that is still a lot, even relative to that?
CZ: Right. We’ll see what people suggest.
CB: He had some of those other influences that we talked about earlier, in the early 20th century. Then later he didn’t just stop reading or taking in other influences, he also had other influences on his work as well?
CZ: It’s amazing. He seemed to also have a lot of time for reading because he moved beyond theosophy and beyond just Blavatsky. He became friends with Roberto Assagioli, who is the founder of Psychosynthesis, they became lifelong friends. They had a very spiritualized psychology that moved quite a bit beyond Jung. Very interesting material and he became fascinated with the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo who was an amazing figure.
Sri Aurobindo ended up being the inspiration for the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Rudhyar was heavily involved with his teachings in the 1940’s, 1950’s long before there was CIIS. Tayar She Ardeene (?correct spelling) and even Rupert Sheldrake amazingly enough, in his last book in the 1980’s, he is still reading, he is still picking up new things! All of this continued, you could see all of these influences in his later work that moved quite a bit beyond theosophy. As I said, Sri Aurobindo was very big for him and actually for a lot of other people.
CB: At this point it might be good to give just the last part of the history of his life basically, in terms of where his later career went after the 1940’s and then bring it to a close at the 1980’s and then we can talk about some of his key philosophies and thoughts?
(approx 84 mins)
CB: Give me the short version of the history of Rudhyar’s life from the 1950’s through the 1980’s.
CZ: In the 1940’s he moved to New Mexico and World War II was in full swing. He was writing like crazy, still, writing a lot of articles, writing books and the articles were getting published. Some of the books were getting published but towards the end of the 1940’s, and beginning of the 1950’s he moved to New York because people had come to him in New Mexico and said, “Rudhyar, your music is getting popular again. Young musicians are getting interested in playing your pieces”. Although he’s happily living in New Mexico, he decides to pick up with his wife and move to New York. He stayed there for four years and there was apparently a lot of activity around his music, at least for a while, it flurried for a couple of years.
Then, as often happens with avant garde music, the interest died down for a while so he ended up moving away from New York because there are a lot of problems with living in New York. He moved to the Midwest and continued to write articles but it was getting more and more difficult to get astrology books published in the 1950’s. It was a very conservative time. So, towards the end of the ‘50s he had a pile of books, a lot of writing he had been doing and he decided, “I have to do something different instead of staying here”.
So he went back to Europe in 1960, ’61, ‘62 and he was quite surprised at the interest that he got. It was almost like American jazz musicians going to Europe in those days, they were getting far more recognition in Europe than they were getting here and that was the case for Rudhyar. He was treated like a king in England at the various astrological societies, they were super happy to have him. He was speaking all over Europe, he went to France and Italy and was being treated like a celebrity! Which was not happening in the U.S. Yet, if I was him I would have been thinking, ‘Why don’t I just stay” because things were looking pretty good. He found a publisher in Holland who was very enthusiastic and had funds and started publishing Rudhyar’s work, so Rudhyar got piles and piles of books published.
He decided to come back to the New World and this was 1963, ’64 with lots of books all of a sudden. He was living in Southern California and around 1965 a lot of interesting things started to happen – suddenly he started having young people get interested in his work. People started to seek him out because at that point astrology was much more for older people, it wasn’t something that young people were really interested in. This is the beginning of the 1960’s, ’65 or so. It’s funny that Rudhyar had a ‘loosing of the bonds’ in 1965 along with some other interesting astrological stuff going on in his chart … (approx 88 mins)
CB: And zodiacal releasing which always indicates a major transition and shake up in terms of the person’s career and life direction and so that hits right in the middle of the 1960’s?
CZ: Yes, right in 1965. He started all of a sudden to get young people seeking out his teachings, his bookings for speaking started going crazy. He began to do speaking tours and now he had books to sell and books for people to read.
CB: Right, so there is a sudden influx of energy and youth and enthusiasm into the astrological community through the counterculture movement and through the hippies and everything else that exploded from the mid 1960’s onward.
CZ: Yes, and I’ve joked with some friends that people needed to take a lot of LSD to understand what his thinking was like (laughs).
CB: You get young, passionate, intelligent people coming into the astrological community and suddenly it must have been really wild to find this guy, this figure who is older now but who has been writing really deep, thoughtful works on astrology for a few decades up to that point and, in the US, he wasn’t widely recognized or hailed for that work. But there was something about his approach to talking to about astrology in a psychological and a philosophical sense and trying to merge it with Depth Psychology that meshed well with the zeitgeist at the time. A lot of astrologers in the 1960’s and 1970’s, embraced him and his work took off and jumped to a whole new level at that point.
CZ: It’s interesting – there was this very distinguished French man who always wore a suit and had a nice haircut, had a lovely French accent and then there was the counterculture. It seemed a little unlikely but they were reading what he was writing and what he had to say and there was a lot of interest. You know it is interesting because during that whole period of 1965 to 1967, the Uranus/Pluto conjunction was happening right on the south node of his Moon, near the top of his chart. He had this ‘loosing of the bond’ and his career really took off like a rocket at that point. He was all of a sudden quite in demand.
CB: There are a bunch of different astrological techniques indicating it and that really was the pivotal turning point in terms of his overall career, and his legacy in retrospect, and you know it probably helped that he was living in Southern California at the epicenter of a lot of that in the 1960’s.
CZ: Right. He was travelling a lot between … he lived in San Jacinto, Southern California and he was travelling to LA, to the Bay area. He wasn’t right in the middle of the action as he was living in a very quiet corner of Southern California but still he was pretty close to the action. (approx 90 mins)
A lot of things were going on for him, he was starting to give talks at Esalen for instance. Richard Tarnas talked about these talks that he gave as being really pivotal in his thinking. He gave talks at the California Institute of Asian Studies, which later became CIIS. He gave a lot of talks there and he was getting very well known and about 1967 to 1969 his music started getting well known again too, which must have made him very happy. On the internet KPFA has got a whole bunch of recordings from early 1970’s of Rudhyar being interviewed about his music and there were many music festivals around the country playing his music! And it was in honour of him, just the figure he was. His music was so popular again, it hadn’t been that popular since the early 1950’s when he had a streak of popularity going. So it all seemed to be kind of rolling his way there, it was quite a revival.
In 1974 he got married to Leyla Rael and in 1974 he was 79 years old! He was probably near the peak of his fame and influence and it’s ironic that he had his success so late in life, or his outward success. This was unusually lucky for him because he had a lot of works in progress, he had a lot of scores, a lot of manuscripts to finish and it was getting harder, as it does. His wife Leyla was a huge help in getting these things finished, in getting them published. A lot of his important works are in that last ten years – his major philosophical works, major orchestral works. A lot happened then and there is no way he could have pulled it off without this care and support.
CB: Yeah, during the last ten years of his life. They were married in 1974 and then he died in 1985 but he had a huge number of his works published in that decade.
CZ: Yes, so I really would personally like to thank Leyla for that because we would be missing a large chunk of his work if not for her. I don’t think many people could have supported that. She was quite an impressive astrologer in her own right and co-wrote a book with him and added a section to The Lunation Cycle and she is still living in northern California, remarried. But the astrological world has a lot to thank her for.
CB: Yeah, she would be a great person to interview at some point, just in terms of her … she must have a very unique perspective about that and seeing the community embracing him and that huge output of work in the last years of his life.
CZ: Yes, that would be a fascinating interview for sure!
CB: Eventually that brings us to the end of his story. He passed away in 1985, so it’s been 32 years since he passed away at the age of 90. (approx 94 mins)
CZ: As you were saying his influence is very strong. Even if people don’t know about it, his influence is very strong. Evolutionary Astrology, Psychological Astrology even Archetypal Astrology, you know Richard Tarnas is quite influenced by Rudhyar. It’s nice that so much of his influence is there and Rudhyar would have a serene smile on his face about it, I’m sure. But as I said, a lot of people just don’t know his name anymore and so it is really nice that we can at least talk about Rudhyar and his influence.
CB: Yeah, it’s important to recognize the contributions that different astrologers have made in history and helped to contextualize – you know, because you might come across a book by Dane Rudhyar, whether in a bookstore or online, and you don’t really know who that is. You just know that he’s an astrologer who lived several decades ago or flourished almost a century ago. Understanding why his work is important and why you might want to read it is part of what we are doing here and what I’m always doing when I present these biographical episodes.
CZ: It’s great. You know there are still a lot of techniques and kind of undiscovered gems in his work because he wrote so many articles over so much time, he was always looking for new techniques. He was not cut off from the ‘new’, he was always looking, as you can imagine having to fill that much space, right?
CB: Let’s back up and go through some of that with our last 20 and 30 minutes here before we cut it off at two hours which is a decent-sized podcast discussion. One of the things we were going to talk about were some of his views about what astrology is for? Did you want to talk about that a bit?
CZ: Sure, this is one place where he really does have a lot of influence. Rudhyar when he talked about astrology said, “Astrology is really a discipline of the mind. It’s a way to develop a more holistic view to see things in bigger chunks” and he called it ‘developing the mind of wholeness’ because you know, usually our minds are analytical and quite divided. But to really understand astrology you can’t just be looking at individual planets, individual factors, you have to step back and … he even talked about this ability to develop, what he called, clair thinking, or feel thinking. The ability to feel the wholeness of a person and the wholeness of a chart, that’s beyond the small parts. He really advocated astrology as kind of a spiritual discipline of being able to develop this mind of wholeness.
CB: Like a holistic approach to astrology?
CZ: Yes, and at one point he said that he was the first person to popularize the word ‘holistic’ which I have no reason to doubt, I believe he did. (approx 97 mins)
CB: Yeah, I could see that. And so part of that philosophy then or the distinction, is the difference between really focusing in on what Venus in my 5th house means in this sign, versus looking at it from a broader perspective of the chart and the life as a whole and a sort of broad trajectory … or maybe a better way would be ‘what does this specific event or transit that’s happening right now mean immediately for me?’ versus he would focus more on the big picture of, ‘how does this fit into the larger overall arc of your life as a whole’?
CZ: Exactly. He had a goal, the goal was basically that astrology would make it easier to live, you know make life more satisfying, enable us to deal with adversity when it comes. He had a similar idea to the Stoics, they thought that by trying to predict events (that things were fated), you could get ready for things, that you could become more resilient, you know, you wouldn’t be surprised and knocked off balance by life. You could just accept life as it is. Rudhyar had that similar kind of goal but he said instead of trying to predict things we need to see crises, difficulties, Pluto transits, Saturn transits as part of a cycle. That things come and go, that things change and very often without astrology we think that whatever life is like right now, we project it forward, it will always be like this and of course the great gift of astrology is knowing that it is not always going to be like this, things are going to change, there is a cycle.
CB: Yeah, so viewing change and not necessarily attributing a value judgement to it but understanding it as a natural process of some sort?
CZ: Exactly. And his feeling was that that was a more reliable way to find peace and to be able to deal with life, because you know a lot of times he thought prediction was totally possible, there was not a problem with it necessarily but of course you can’t predict things exactly. Any astrologer will tell you that, that you can’t predict exactly. So he said you have to be careful with prediction because of fear and anticipation – you can stir these up in a client and cause problems and he felt there was a more reliable way to just be able to see the cyclical nature of things and to get a wider perspective because there are all kinds of things that happen in life that we don’t choose but they happen anyway. So he was really advocating a way to reframe things, to see them as something that is necessary. One of his favourite sayings was, ‘We must learn to use crisis, since crisis is going to happen anyway’. No matter how good your predictive skills are, you’re still going to have crises in your life.
CB: Right and just thinking about his biography between focusing in on making a prediction, like looking at his birth chart and saying, I don’t know, your father will die at an early age when you’re 16 years old versus you know, you’ll go through a difficult period at the age of 16 but it will force you to make a change in your life that will lead you on this trajectory ultimately, that will be positive or constructive to your overall life direction and it will be a change in trajectory which will be challenging but will then result in an outcome later on?
CZ: Absolutely. You know, the example of losing his kidney and adrenal gland at age 11 years old, well that’s certainly a problem but on the other hand it kept him out of the French army.
CB: Sure and he is one of the first early 20th century astrologers to get into that process of trying to reframe things and move away from ideas of just good and bad or framing things completely as malefic or benefic but instead, trying to look at it as an overall process, almost oriented approach in some sense?
CZ: Very good, yes. He had some things, I guess I would call them Rudhyar’s prime concerns. He said that the astrological chart was a seed pattern and of course a seed is a bunch of potentials, like an acorn is a potential oak tree and there are a lot of things that could happen to help the potential manifest itself. He called this the process of self-actualization, and that’s what he thought astrology really was for. It was to help you to be everything that you could be. So he was looking at the chart in ways of finding what gifts their word, (unclear on tape) how to bring them out. He was more interested in the best ways to grow, the best ways to become happy. This is much more his focus than anything else and he was always looking beyond the concept of good and bad. He called it sometimes ‘the way of the sage’, you know that you would have Stoic sages, Buddhist sages, Taoist sages: they all say the same thing – they say that you have to accept life’s tragedies and difficulties along with the good things and you really can’t choose. He called this the mind of the sage, or the way of the sage, to be able to put things in context.
One of his most interesting ways of expressing something – he said, “We have to bear in mind that there is a difference between structure and content” because he is talking about fate and free will and what’s predictable and what isn’t predictable. He said the birth chart lays out a structure, the dates of transits, the difficult squares or configurations in your natal chart, these are things that won’t change, they’re structurally in your chart. But he said that you can choose the content of what you fill yourself with, that you can react to things with anger, resentment, revenge, judgment but you can also choose another path, you can choose to approach things with acceptance, compassion, forgiveness – all those kinds of things. Almost anybody would agree that that is a healthier way to go, the second set of choices.
CB: Sure, and this becomes, in later generations of astrologers who were influenced by Rudhyar, like in Richard Tarnas’ Archetypal Astrology where he says that astrology is not concretely predictive but that it is archetypally predictive. Rudhyar would say it’s predetermined that you’re going to have your Saturn Return between the ages of 27 and 30 but how you deal with and respond to that, there’s a range of possible manifestations that would fit the archetype which have different possibilities and it could be on the more positive end of the spectrum or it could be more challenging. It is not necessarily given that you’re going to have one particular manifestation but there is some element of choice or free will in terms of how that ends up manifesting and that’s partially up to you?
CZ: Right. Rudhyar would love that statement from Richard Tarnas, he would really like that. You know a lot of this would be in response to the, what Rudhyar would say, the content, that you filled yourself up with. That would have something to do with how this all goes for you, that’s what he would say. He had two analogies he used a lot and they’re really good: he was talking about a glass of water, he was talking about structure, he said, “So, if you have a glass of water it has a certain shape and it can be filled with water or wine or poison.” He said, “You don’t drink the glass, you drink the water” and this was the way he expressed the idea of a multivalent archetype. He claims he came up with the phrase ‘multivalent archetype’ and this is exactly what he meant by what you fill the glass with.
CB: This became part of this overall … these other terms that you use or that he used, the path of transformation or things like that, right?
CZ: Exactly. What do you use astrology for? He viewed it as – well, at one point in The Astrology of Personality he called astrology the alchemy of personality. He talked a lot, especially in his later philosophical works about what he called the path of transformation, which turns out to be a very ancient way of thinking. The Hermeticists also had this in their path, the idea of a path of transformation, a path of purification. In a lot of that Rudhyar was surprisingly Hermetic. You know, the idea in Hermeticism of progressing through the spheres, at each sphere you would have to lose the negativity of each of those planets all the way up. That is the path of transformation and that is very much what Rudhyar was advocating.
CB: O.K. now moving on what are some other key concepts from Rudhyar’s thinking that are recurring themes?
CZ: The unity of opposites is something that goes through all of his work and this is an ancient thought that goes back to pre-Socratics, I think Heraclitus was the first person who talked about it but the idea that things which appear to be opposite, if you go down deep enough, you start finding themes that connect them. He really found the Tai Chi symbol, the yin-yang symbol – he got a lot of use out of that for explaining things. (approx 108 mins)
In The Pulse of Life he explained the whole zodiac by this interplay of day force and night force and in fact that it is a big piece of Rudhyar-ist thinking, you know the day force and night force. There is a force which wants to individualize things which is the day force and the night force which wants to collectivize things. Life is this constant interplay of these two things and that’s a major theme I could point to.
Another major theme is the idea of the harmonizing of Eastern and Western paths and this is something he got originally from Blavatsky because that was a strong part of .. or at least the best side of theosophy, was that kind of teaching. Really the rest of his life was about doing that, you know embracing and learning about the philosophies of Sri Aurobindo and modern European thinkers – T. R. D. Jardine (?) and people like that. He was continuing to do his own synthesis act of theosophy but that got him on that kind of path.
Another big theme is the whole issue of fate and free will. He did a really great talk that is available on the internet, on free will. He called fate and free will the central hang up of Western civilization. He said it’s because we get it confused. We get it confused with the rights of the individual and he thought there was so much confusion around this topic and the whole question was a false dichotomy to begin with – fate and free will. He always explained it as the yin/yang symbol, that every situation has a certain balance of fate and free will in it and it is never one or the other, and they kind of flow into each other. There are some situations that seem to have a lot more predetermined elements to them but it is never totally pre-determined. Then the opposite is never true either, you’re never in a situation where it’s all free will. This is a nuanced thing that a lot of people don’t get, it’s a very nuanced discussion he had.
CB: Sure and something he returned to many times in his works?
CZ: Many times, from beginning to end. In the end he had a very nice saying that probably I have heard elsewhere: “Change what you can but accept what you must” and that sounds like a pretty healthy kind of a statement.
There’s just one last thing I should mention, he’s very well known for the idea of karma and that just goes straight across to Evolutionary Astrology right now. He talked a lot in terms of karma but he was really aware that that could be tricky. He would say this a lot of times, “Karma should never be seen as an individual matter” you know, there are many collective levels of karma, there’s individual karma, family karma, group karma, national karma. The planet itself has a certain level of karma and all these things interact. So you have to understand that the idea of karma makes you take some responsibility for your actions but to realize that you don’t have control really, I mean there are all kinds of larger forces at work and some of those you just have to accept. He was also aware of the
(approx 111 mins)
possibility of blaming the victim or using karma as some kind of bludgeon and it seemed like he was really concerned because he kept coming back to it, he was always very careful of these questions. I think that is an important thing to mention.
CB: Right, one of the things I’ve raised more recently about the direction some of those philosophies in modern astrology have gone, is that sometimes you can potentially blame the victim if you attribute too much control over everything to them. One of your points is that Rudhyar was very careful to try and avoid that or to try and be aware of that as a potential and to have a much more nuanced discussion than sometimes the discussions are today?
CZ: Absolutely. He wanted to be sure the people knew that, that that wasn’t his attitude.
CB: One of the things I want to touch on before we end is: you said he was a major pioneer in the study of the cycles and the importance of the outer planets, right?
CZ: Yes. He was probably the person who most … well, he has lots of books and articles explaining the long term planetary patterns and how they play out and probably before anybody else was doing that. I haven’t done a lot of research into who was doing this ahead of time but he wrote a book called Astrological Timing back in the early ‘70s which is just an amazing look at all of history through the lens of Neptune and Pluto. In fact, that would be an interesting topic sometime, I’m not really prepared at the moment to go through it but that was a big thing for him and within a couple of years of Pluto being discovered, Rudhyar described Pluto in ways that sound exactly the way people are describing it now, especially in Evolutionary Astrology circles, he was right on it, I’m not quite sure how he got on that so quick.
CB: He ends up then not being just a foundational author in terms of how the nodes are conceptualized in modern times, but potentially one of the foundational people in terms of crafting and coming up with the initial foundation for how Pluto is interpreted?
CZ: Really for all of the outer planets. From a much more modern perspective, I think you could look back to his writings for that and find lots of precedent there for how a lot of people are talking about them now.
CB: Right. One of the other things he’s really known for is his work on the lunation cycle and a specific book that he wrote on that topic? (approx 114 mins)
CZ: Yeah, the book that we know now came out in 1967 but it had been written, well half of the book was written, during World War II and he published it as a small book called The Moon. It didn’t sell that many – perhaps 1,000 copies or so and then went out of print because the publisher stopped covering astrology books.
So he got back during the mid ‘60s, this was one of a flood of books that came from him and it has been very very influential, called The Lunation Cycle. A lot of people use the techniques. Basically, in this book he goes through a new way of looking at the Moon – looking at the progressed Moon in relation to the progressed Sun. People had really been using progressions in terms of looking at progressed planets to natal planets only and this was a new way of looking at how the cycle played out in the 90 days after you were born. He used the concept of an eight phase system for the progressed Sun and the progressed Moon, so in someone’s natal chart what are the angles between the Sun and the Moon and he laid out eight different types of really more than personality types, they are more of a dynamic relationship.
You know, the idea that someone born during a New Moon has got a different type of dynamic in their personality than someone who was born at the First Quarter. New Moon people tend to be very charismatic, they operate subjectively, somewhat unconsciously but there is a certain kind of archetypal power to New Moon people and First Quarter people for instance they struggle more, they confront resistance, they tend to confront problems more directly, there are certain kinds of personality dynamics you can see. A Full Moon type is quite different again. There was a descriptive element of what he called the Soli-Lunar types and it’s really fascinating. We don’t have time to go into it but Demetra George has a beautiful article on her website describing the eight soli-lunar types. She uses these techniques pretty extensively from what I can see, in terms of natal delineations and then in terms of using the progressed cycle itself to see how that plays out over life. Just for a quick example, I took a look at your chart (laughs) and you had a progressed New Moon lunation in December 2005.
CB: Yes, I remember that well, that’s when I discovered or, that’s right when I focused on Hellenistic astrology and I had just moved out to the translation project where I spent two years studying Hellenistic texts and within a year of having my progressed New Moon, I started writing my book on Hellenistic astrology.
CZ: Right and according to this theory, during the progressed New Moon phase, certain seeds from previous cycles start germinating and there’s a new idea created at the New Moon and you don’t know what it is yet. It doesn’t really have a name but it starts growing and it starts gathering some interest. So you had this New Moon which started in the first degree of Sagittarius, so we could say there was a Sagittarian logos, a Sagittarian mission maybe. You had your Crescent phase in 2009 and usually this is when an idea starts getting clearer, you have some idea what it is and you start developing it. There is some kind of resistance but the idea is growing and it grows to the First Quarter which is a crisis point and you hit that in 2013. The idea in the first quarter is you meet resistance, there’s some kind of reality testing, reality is trying to tell you that you need to adjust or that what you’re doing is correct and you’re building some strength by dealing with resistance. Sometimes people’s projects fall apart at this point. Reality testing indicates that you need course correction but it’s a time of crisis and then you entered the Gibbous phase, which is just before the Full Moon. What that means is there is not so much resistance, during the Gibbous phase you start co-operating more, you start making alliances. Whatever it is that was developing is fully along, it is fully in progress and it goes through its stages and that is a four year period you’re starting now.
You’re in a Full Moon lunation phase in 2021. The Full Moon phase is a time of potential blossoming, realisation, things coming full circle. Now, that depends on what you have been planting. If you haven’t been doing good work, if you have been planting weeds, that’s what is going to flower and so whatever flowers are in that Full Moon period depends on the work that was done earlier. But that’s the basic kind of a phase. Now as the cycle moves on, it starts bearing fruit, giving things away and you start creating the seeds for your next cycle. So this whole lunation cycle lasts about 29.5 years and everybody jumps in at a different point. It depends on whether you were born during a New Moon or Full Moon etc. so it’s not like the Saturn Return where everybody has it at the same time, you know this is going to be different timing for everybody.
CB: That’s a really good introduction to this sort of cycle or process-oriented approach of Rudhyar because it just shows that you have to look at everything, not just as a singular moment in time but relative to these broader cycles and where you are coming from and where you are headed and where you are in the broader cycle of things?
CZ: Yes, that illustrates it perfectly.
CB: In The Lunation book it shows how each person in their natal chart has a specific lunar phase that they are born in and each phase has its own specific qualities and characteristics which will imprint the life and it is basically a cycle that is broken up into eight parts. So you have the initial four quadrants that are established by the New Moon, the Full Moon, and the first and second Quarter Moons and then in the middle points of those you break those in half, which then breaks it up into eight sections basically?
(approx 122 mins)
CZ: Yes. As I said, Steven Forrest did an excellent book that really goes into depth on the soli-lunar types. Rudhyar was always careful to call it soli-lunar because the Moon doesn’t have any phases, its phases are in relationship to the Sun. In the book he covers that and he covers the progressed cycle that we talked about, he has some interesting chapters on the Part of fortune and the Part of Spirit. Those are really worth reading, I think people would find it really quite interesting. It’s a really good first book to get into. The writing is very clear, there are techniques you can immediately use and just historically too, that would be the place I would tell people they may want to start if they want to read something by Rudhyar.
CB: Definitely The Lunation Cycle book and then as you said, Demetra George has some great on the lunation cycle as a technique as well, which she originally learned studying Rudhyar’s works. She’s talked about .. I think in the episode where we talked about her life and work, how she was about to graduate from college and get a degree as a math teacher but then she decided to run off and join a commune in the late 1960’s, and there were several astrology books and some of them were Rudhyar’s books. One of the techniques she took and used and really developed was Rudhyar’s approach to the lunation cycle.
If you do a search on Google for Demetra George lunation phase you will find an article titled, “The Lunation Cycle” by Demetra George that has some great illustrations and graphics and a straightforward approach to understanding the eight lunation phases, both in terms of what phase you have in your natal chart as well as how you can use that as the timing technique within the context of secondary progressions, which is what you were talking about earlier?
CZ: Yes, she does quite a bit of work with that technique and seems to integrate it very well with the rest of her practice,
CB: O.K. so where else, in terms of accessing Rudhyar’s work and different resources for learning more about him, what is available to people?
CZ: I would recommend the most incredible resources are something called The Rudhyar Audio Archives. This is maintained by Nicky Michaels who is a great San Francisco astrologer. She was very close to Rudhyar in his last ten years. She was probably the astrologer closest to him and she has got about 22 hours of recorded talks and these talks are just beautiful. They are so concise, clear. He has this wonderful French accent that takes a few minutes to get used to but once you’re used to it, it is wonderful.
CB: These are from the 1960’s forward right?
CZ: Right, the earliest one is from 1960, so he was already 65 years old and in some of these he is obviously losing some vigor but they are so clear, it is just really powerful stuff. He discusses the astrology of self-actualization, fate and free will, all kinds of interesting topics and the way he handles them is … there are no wasted words in these. It’s really compact. I found after listening to all of these that I was able to read the books so much more easily because his thought patterns and language patterns were in my head. If I pick up his work now I think how could that have seemed hard before, it seems easy now. I would really recommend listening and thank you Nicky for doing that.
There’s also a website called www.Khaldea.com and I’ll provide some links for this. That will be nice for people to have, it’s got hundreds of articles from Rudhyar,. Out of the thousands that he wrote, about 1200, they have a lot of them. There are some out of print books, it’s got an illustrated biography. It’s a tremendous resource, I’ve used it a lot over the last 12 years since it has come online, it’s wonderful.
He’s got about eight books that are mostly astrology books which are still in print from Aurora Press, as I said a lot of them are available on Khaldea.com. I mentioned The Lunation Cycle as a great place to start but also The Pulse of Life, even if you don’t get very far with Rudhyar if you read The Pulse of Life it is his vision of the signs and it is just excellent.
Also, late in his life he became aware that he wanted to write a short simple book for people that would not have a lot of his teaching. So he wrote a book called, Astrological Insights Into the Spiritual Life. It’s kind of an unwieldy title but the book is just beautiful, very thin and basically it goes through the signs and the houses and it’s just inspiring. I guess the last work I would recommend, well I would recommend any of them, but he wrote a book with his wife Leyla called Astrological Aspects and it’s probably the best treatment of aspects that I’ve seen, it’s really beautiful.
CB: Yes, it’s definitely a good book on aspects and most of those are still available through Aurora Press right?
CZ: The Lunation Cycle, Astrological Insights, Astrological Aspects they are available through Aurora Press. The Pulse of Life, should really be put out again as a regular book but you can access it through Khaldea.com. I would love to see that come out as a Kindle book or an e-book.
CB: In the meantime you can find it at Khaldea.com?
CZ: Yes. I’m thinking that in the next couple of years we’re going to see some projects to try and pull together because he still has a lot of work that isn’t in print, a lot of things that were never published so I think we’ll some projects to try and correct that. (approx 128 mins)
CB: Sure, especially with some of the growing awareness and reflection on his work and it’s interesting because initially he branded his astrology in the early part of his career as ‘Humanistic Astrology” or that’s partially what he called it and then later in his career he started calling it Transpersonal Astrology?
CZ: Yes, he felt that the humanistic astrology thing had kind of gone full circle and basically people were getting too self-involved – my problems, my complexes, so he took it in a more spiritual direction and his last book on astrology was published in 1980, it’s called The Astrology of Transformation and that’s really where he talks most directly about that. Transpersonal Astrology, it’s said he came up with that word first – transpersonal. I don’t know if that is true but there are a number of words he may have coined.
CB: Interesting, well I think that starts to bring us to the end of this episode and so you have given talks and continue to give talks and lectures and workshops and other teachings on Rudhyar’s work as well as other things, right?
CZ: Yes and I want to keep doing that. I have some Rudhyar projects in mind but if people want to know anything about consultations or talks or classes for me it is www.czastrology.com.
CB: So your initials and then ‘astrology.com’?
CB: I think you are giving a talk at the end of this month for your local group?
CZ: Yes, I’m giving it on the Moon, it’s called How Deep Is The Moon? It’s basically about the lunation cycle, the secondary progressed Moon, the New Moon before birth, really the whole lunar complex of symbols and I’m really looking forward to that.
CB: And which group is that for?
CZ: It’s for the NCGR group in Sacramento and it’s a talk I’ll be developing and I hope to give it elsewhere too.
CB: Excellent. Well, people should check that out and they should check out your website at www.czastrology.com.
CB: Well, thanks a lot for joining me, I really appreciate our chat. I think we were able, in our second attempt to record this episode, to cover most of the same bases that we covered last time, maybe we’re a little bit more tired than we were the first time around but I’m glad that we did this so thanks for coming and helping me to do it again.
CZ: Well thank you, this is great. I really appreciate your show and congratulations on your book! It’s just beautiful.
CB: Thank you, I appreciate it and I’m glad, you know we’ve been planning this episode for a long time, wanting to record an episode on Rudhyar and it took us a while to eventually get it together. It’s funny how many obstacles we ran into in the process but we did it and we accomplished what we set out to do and hopefully those little annoying obstacles made us end up with something that was better than we might have otherwise had?
CZ: I think so, actually I think it did turn out better.
CB: Alright, well thanks again for joining me and thanks everyone for listening and we’ll see you next time.