Ants Marching

Ants Marching

VI Commentaries

My notes on Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet’s Commentaries. Please see footnote for information on the source of this essay, or simply go to the source: The Magical Carousel.

The end of the second quadrant, in astrology’s natural wheel, is marked by Virgo. Together the three signs of the second triad — Cancer, Leo, Virgo — represent the “physical structure of man.” Human development evolved from the simplest organism to king of the beasts, to first humans: “from the invertebrate to the vertebrate animal.” One differentiating aspect of being human is having a vertical spine that is connected to the brain. This, Thea writes, means that “Virgo is, in fact, the physical consciousness in the odyssey, and this is the meaning of the symbol of the Institution” Miss Lily Spotless oversees. In other words, the institution is the representation of the body-consciousness with all the minutia and detailed description that Virgo can muster. It so happens that Virgo is also the same sign which introduces a limiting aspect of the developing consciousness at this level. Despite these shortcomings however, the “true purpose” for being human is not lost. “The body and the physical consciousness is the vehicle of man, and it must serve him, as Lily Spotless so enthusiastically explains to the children.”  But something is still lacking at this stage of progress because the body-consciousness is separated, “cut-off”, from the flow of “higher awareness.” Figuratively, the unclean state in which the children arrive in Virgo signifies this bodily condition after the fall, how they (we) entered the sign (birth). Next in the commentaries, a remarkable insight is made that I have not seen before or since reading The Magical Carousel. Let me share a quote from page 34:

In the sign of Cancer, the body-consciousness plummets into the earthly realm thinly veiled and begins to collect ‘soot’ along the way. Up to this point, “the Earth is far from pure and therefore when a body is formed of a species housed on this planet, it must necessarily reflect the level of development the Earth herself experiences.” Thea teaches that this first stage of development is about the encasement of the psychic fire within the veils of the ego. This is what is meant by the children entering the sign of Cancer while they are asleep, unaware, and unconscious of the process. Leo represents another kind of sheath, related to the Vital Force more than to the Body, but like Cancer, sleep is present in the form of the slumbering guests at the banquet, a symbol of unillumined consciousness. By the time the odyssey sets down in Virgo, the veil has become a film of ‘soot’ which covers the fully-formed physical consciousness and body — “the process of ego-formation is complete.” Yet, still, we rub the sleep from our eyes.

There is an important note closing this paragraph which alludes to the preparation at hand of a new body, one that is to “rend these obscuring veils and prepare for the formation of a new being.” Understanding this message is obscurred by the layering of sheaths that protect a vulnerable core, the ego. It’s difficult to explain, as difficult as describing to a larvae trapped inside a cacoon that it really is a butterfly. But let’s continue.

Astrologers understand that Mercury rules both Virgo and Gemini, and with this telling of the story of the Zodiac, Thea makes the distinction between them clear. Virgo is the first sign in the discussion that shares rulership with another sign, and in this case, Gemini is that other sign. Thea presents an evolutionary hierarchy in which Mind (Mercury) is “the first darkening power”. But as Higher Beings evolve the idea is for lower aspects of the evolutionary process to be integrated into the newer, higher aspects of Being. Thea calls it “ceaseless integration and synthesis.” One caveat however, is that accomplishing this act with purely mental prowess is impossible. The idea of Redemption or Salvation in myriad religious stories and myth points to this concept, and darkness is redeemed only when a higher principle is realized. This process occurs in Sagittarius, “hence it is known as the sign of the saving light.”

Importantly, the “baptismal ritual” the children endure is only the beginning. There will be other “layers of dirt” that need to be attended to, in addition to the ‘soot’ which accumulates along the way. These layers will be addressed in Libra and Scorpio, offerings and alms made to the mental and vital strata, to clean things up even more.

Virgo is the second Earth sign, as just mentioned the second sign ruled by Mercury, natural ruler of Gemini, an Air sign. In this way the Zodiac weaves together the elements of the universe, going back-and-forth like a needle on the loom of a Great Weaver, knitting together “our collective destiny”. There is a harmony embedded in the zodiac that draws one’s attention to it, to what it reveals about our purpose: “to serve as a guide, not only during the periods of enlightenment which humanity has known, but more especially during times of darkness such as present.”

Elements of the lower hemisphere are besotted with their own darkness, as if ensorcelled by shadows. Lily Spotless is enamored by shadow as well, despite her fastidiousness, meticulousness, and desire for perfection. Her impeccability is all in her mind. She serves her Institution “but with a small ‘s’”, Thea says. What she and her consorts are truly in service to is an incomplete manifestation; “The service they render is for the purpose of glorification of the mental creation that emerges at this stage.”  In evolutionary terms there is the allusion to the physical Sun and Moon, “of the physical — vital —mental consciousness being.” The children however, are destined for higher realms. Their mission is connected with the transmission “of the Fire Seeds of a new consciousness,” which is intended to correct the lesser patterns of fate found in the darkness, in the lower hemisphere. If Pom-pom did not renounce the crown, he would have agreed to rule over this lower bound and in a sense renounce the children’s true mission, which “is to undo the old patterns and establish the new.” Thea says that the difficulty involved for the elements of the lower hemisphere at this stage is that “their vision is limited by the veils of the Mind.”  Following this observation is a remarkable sentence in the commentaries that states explicitly how the actions of the children were all foreseeable because from a higher perspective the flow of events follows certain laws in operation “which govern the flowering of the seeds of the new consciousness they bring.”

The fruits of the effort of evolution aren’t manifest until Capricorn, the next Earth sign, but that doesn’t mean all the work below is for naught. The work is necessary for the illumination of the parts of their being, each associated with one of the signs, “by the process of progressive unfoldment of the inner light of consciousness, which is the reason for the experience of evolution in Time.”  The body-consciousness develops the perception in Virgo about having some responsibility to service, and how all the parts must work in accordance with their duties, to come together to serve properly, “to fulfill its individual dharma.” Importantly, when the physical consciousness is lost “its own worth becomes obscured.” The lens is focused, in this case, not on a higher purpose, but on purely self-centered and selfish goals. Thea gives examples of extreme yogic disciplines focused on abnormal physical development, and various spiritual paths that accentuate extremes, aesticism for example. Another example she provides “is drug taking for the purpose of altering the state of consciousness.” Today, some 50 years later, we see examples of what she meant because extreme sports movements, exercise fads, extreme diets, and certainly the psychedelic revival (more on revivalism at a later date), all represent movements that are inflating to bubble proportions.

Metaphorically, Lily Spotless and the Institution, along with all its attendees, represent the physical body, its material consciousness. The children “rise up above this organization” and see the swarm below them, ants, which speaks volumes to the nature of Virgo in isolation from the rest of the circle.

Ants work ceaselessly, day and night, which was the proclaimed duty of the king to be, before he renounced the throne. But busy work, for the sake of being busy, is in a sense a limitation aimed at the security of the body-consciousness only. The limited scope of the organization “has lost sight of the ideal and the goal, the ceaseless work indulged in is only to assure the continuation of the organization itself.” Selfishness… The ants go marching to an invisible force, they pay tribute, with complete devotion, to their “god,” the institution. We see this feigning sincerity in the modern performative language of politicians, social influencers, or corporate executives who “stand at attention as if receiving a command from that awe-inspiring source. But in fact, there is no one there.”

Every facet of modern life is touched by this sort of attitude, including science and education but especially religious and spiritual beliefs are affected. The “absence of a central light is striking” where “’the church’ becomes supreme, the ‘math’, the ‘sect’, the ‘order’, the ‘ashram’, etc.” In each case the organized institution persuades their “swarm” that the reason for their existence is purely to spread the principles of some “luminous central light around which the organization first formed. The ‘institution’ is rightfully the body of the teaching.”

As such, institutions “have no unifying power,” because the constituent parts are at war with one another. In the story, Lily Spotless shushes the bickering ladies who represent this aspect of powerlessness, while she represents “the mental principle that currently rules the body-consciousness, — the highest light it can attain under the actual circumstances —,” nevertheless her dismissiveness gets the job done despite her limited authority.

Readers of the story and commentary could be pressed to reread the text again and again, to better understand the philosophical insights that might not be clear the first time through. There is such breadth of observation that it can be mind boggling to a casual reader, the minutia of bodily metaphor extends eloquently to the wide expanse of the Earth itself, and to its place in the universe. We are studying in this chapter how mental aberrations disturb humanities progress, disunifying all the various departments as it were from the unifying power of the Soul, and so we become vulnerable to disease, decay, and eventually death. Without cooperation and all the departments “of the body” working in concert, in harmony, the Mind proves effete in its ability to organize, “it cannot integrate and harmonize.” What is true in the microcosm appears true in the macrocosm, and because of this all organizations are susceptible to the Ignorance; the being is governed from all aspects of existing in the lower hemisphere. In a sense we are born of the same “sect.” In traditional astrology the lower hemisphere suggests a night chart. On a cosmic scale, the profound perspective suggested here is that we all have night charts. With The Magical Carousel however, there is an indication of a future ideal yet to be revealed, wherein the Mind, represented by Mercury, finds resolve in Aquarius, the sign of its exaltation.

The story continues beyond Virgo of course because the movement is not done. All along the way in every sign, each actor plays a role in the unfolding of the Divine Consciousness, even Lily Spotless as she dismisses the children from Virgo is fulfilling a Divine “duty.” We notice in the story that leaving mutable signs is less difficult, in keeping with one of the attributes of mutability — Dissolution. Mutability is the modality ending all triads, and keeps the progress moving forward in Time. The conveyance happens to be slightly different in each triad, as the elemental difference of each sign is distinct, but we notice similarities as well. Malamulapaga’s bird cage is like the elevator in its confinement, and here in Virgo elevates the children higher, to the next dimension. The goal of the next sign seeks liberation from the limitations of the Mind, The Elevator, in the body-consciousness.

Thea closes the chapter discussing the hieroglyph of Virgo which is not exactly the symbol of being “woke.” Quite the opposite in fact, she says it is the symbol of the “unawakened Kundalini.” Furthermore, she says, Virgo rules the spine seen through the vertical descent down the chimney stack, and then back up out of Virgo by way of the elevator. The energy takes two channels, one descending, the other ascending. The sign Virgo then represents the coiled-up “Serpent” wherein the energy is still unreleased. We note that the tail of the glyph turns inward, whereas with Scorpio the tail presents an outward “stinger.” In-between Virgo and Scorpio is Libra, the next sign, where an equilibrium of these descending and ascending powers meet. A Balance must be achieved before the energy can be released and used in service of the Divine Consciousness.

Norelli-Bachelet, P. (2017). The Magical Carousel and Commentaries: A Zodiacal Odyssey (2017th ed.). Notion Press, Inc.

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