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Toward the Centre

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Rev Pam Crane DFAstrolS, DMSAstrol(Hon)
as Pamela A. Bennett

Published in ASTROLOGY (The Lodge Quarterly) Winter 1973, also CAO TIMES -

Summer Solstice 1975 © Copyright 1973, 1975, 2010 All Rights Reserved


Man's search for his Centre, with its promise of certainty and illumination, is an ancient quest, and one upon which the astrologer is often invited to travel as trailblazer and guide, for his tools and cunning are reputed to be a match for many a jungle, waste, mountain or featureless sea. His own way to the Grail is interwoven with the myriad trails of those who seek his aid; so he must, of all men, be sure of the way he is heading and what he wills to achieve at the journey's end. So that he may not lose his fellows, he must not lose himself. Were any of us intimate with that Centre, I doubt we should be here; a few may have glimpsed it between peaks of their adventure, or seen its mirage beckoning across harsh land. In dream, or on the edge of death, some may have been held in a hand of light before being set gently again on the road.
Where does that Centre lie? . . . within or beyond the bounds of conscious life? Some say they know, but certainly there* are signs given for any man to follow; we must learn to recognise them, and to understand their meaning.

In the realm of human experience there are basically two spheres in which we may be aware of the existence of centres; in the sphere of Space, and in the sphere of Time. These are the chief coordinates by which we measure those sequences of change - of place, of shape, of circumstance, of mood - that make up men's lives, and the history of a race.

Any given Centre implies either a circumference, or some measured equality on either side of that Centre. Because of this, the ordinary man is more likely to experience himself as a spatial Centre, rather than as a Centre in Time; and this experience is usually a physical one, of the bodily self at the centre of an observed world. He may or may not be conscious of his Mind-life as in some way central to his material frame - though for the majority of people this should not be hard to acknowledge, as the first crucial step to a deeper and broader awareness. If he accepts the guidance of the astrologer, acquaintance with the sky-pattern and absorption of its meaning should open the door wider into his psycho-mental realm; he will begin to sense his inner continuation with the immediate heavens, his total synchronisation with the daily rhythms and planetary activity of the Ecliptic. He is now simultaneously aware of himself as a physical centre to these corresponding realms, and of the Earth at the centre of the observed skies, all its diverse forms partaking in the planetary experience. Let the learning man now sense the Sun in himself, that most vital and individual part, and realise how both body and psyche are subject to that Sun, containing it yet dependent on its life, just as the bodyof Earth and the planetary fields are nothing without the Sun whose radiant plasma compels their companionship and perhaps protection.

“Here is the Centre,” says the man, “of which I was never aware. I can rest, now, satisfied and whole.” And so he may; yet, surely knowing as he must at this stage of his journey that even the Sun embraces in its movement the heart of a system in which it is no more than a tiny cell, he might look further still into the unmapped reaches beyond his personal Light to find the Galactic Centre mirrored within, the Source and ultimate destination of the supreme Consciousness become Universal, the subsumption of the precious Self to a greater Whole. It may be vain to speculate on the place of our Galaxy in the total Scheme; vainer still to assume that Man might attempt such growth as to outreach even thus much universality of spirit.

Man may be unique in knowing himself to be poised between two worlds, that minutely reflect each other in the rhythms, relationships and meaning of their living principles; in this sense he is a true Centre in himself, holding the key to both doors, material and spiritual. He inhabits a universe of polarities that reconcile in equipoise, when they do not annihilate each other.
Somewhere in the structure of the man must lie the physical counterpart of the universe that maps his nature; by some organic means, the over-lapping patterns, the differing tempi of his planetary experience must translate themselves into psychic and bodily realities. It is possible that the planetary self pervades the entire body, repeated in miniature in every cell, the subtleties of planet and aspect coded into the DNA, in the living helix, as I have suggested elsewhere. The current of life may well flow in the central axis of the helix. But we are all aware that our self-consciousness presides in the head; from that bone turret we look out upon life, and down upon the obedient body.

Now, the brain is divided into two hemispheres; and it is interesting to observe that the frontal and parietal lobes - the motor and sensory lobes - though separated from each other by a deep fissure, possess adjacent bands of active cortex, quite narrow, which each in order from the side of the brain to the centre control Face, Eye, Neck, Thumb, Fingers, Hand, Wrist, Elbow, Shoulder, Trunk, Hip, Knee, Ankle and Toes. The Zodiacal sequence is obvious, beginning on the protected outside with Aries, head-first of course, and ending
with sensitive Pisces on tiptoe in the Centre where the complementary hemispheres meet - the Fish in the Fissure! - Yin/Yang, inner and outer, left and right, negative and positive.

There are two other intriguing things about the brain-centre: it contains the Pineal gland, deeply embedded there; and above it lies that area of skull sutures which, before closure, remained apart for a while in early infancy as the Fontanelles (the little fountains).For many years nobody knew what the Pineal gland was for. Only, it seemed, the occultists dared ascribe to it a function comparable to vision, referring to this gland as the Third Eye. By the medical profession it was accepted as a probable vestige of an eye, and little more.
The following description of the Pineal body is found in 'Brain Biochemistry' by H.S. Bachelard (Chapman and Hall, 1974): “The mammalian pineal gland has evolved from a visual sensory organ of more primitive animals; in amphibian brains, for example, the equivalent is found as a photoreceptive area on the roof of the brain. The primitive pineal responded directly to light with direct transduction of the stimulus to nerve impulses. The mammalian pineal responds indirectly to light; the. nerve impulse generated in the photoreceptors of the retina ... is carried by fibres of the optic nerves to the optic chiasma where the nerve tracts branch. One branch, the inferior accessory optic tract, carries the impulse to the pineal. ... The pineal appears to receive no direct input from the rest of the nervous system and does not send fibres to other parts of the brain.”

Now some very interesting facts are coming to light; it seems that from the moment of birth, no sooner, no later, as meticulous experiments have proved, the Pineal body is affected by light to the extent that it is stimulated thereby into growth. Only at the moment of the emergence of the head of the child into the radiant environment does the Pineal gland start to respond, and begin its work of translating the messages of light and darkness - and possibly cosmic pattern -  into the glandular activity that sets the patterns of physical and emotional response in the individual born at that moment and into the specific environment. This is equally true in the case of premature births. Now, does it not seem logical that in order for the maximum amount of light to penetrate to this crucial and growing organ, there should be the minimum of interference?

It is just conceivable that the infant pineal is actually photoreceptive to light directly permeating the brain through the open sutures of the skull. This photo-receptivity itself may be a condition of the initial impact of light-stimuli, and might only last for the duration of the curious mosaic patterning that characterises the pineal gland as from the birth-moment. On the other hand, it may be a far more subtle range of vibrations that are admitted to the gland through the central cerebral fissure, covered only by the softness of the baby scalp; light entering chiefly through the eyes, their lids translucent.

This initial mosaic structure of the Pineal body is completed by the age of 14 to 21 days; concurrently, the Anterior Fontanelle actually enlarges for the first two months after birth, moving the skull-plates well away from what may be a vital fountain of light. At anything between 4 and 26 months the sutures close together and the brain, with the Pineal body, is sealed off. By 6 months the mosaic pattern of the Pineal diminishes, to vanish from the gland at about 9 months after birth. The bones of the skull eventually join permanently shortly after the 20th year of life.

Now, this is very exciting: for it has been found by painstaking laboratory experiment the world over that Light appears to be a far more potent stimulus to cyclic development and psycho-physical periodicity than was at one time ever considered likely. What happens, apparently, is that light (in nocturnal creatures) and lack of light (in diurnal beings such as ourselves) inhibits the production of an enzyme* in the pineal gland that in turn converts an important substance, Serotonin** into another, Melatonin***; and this - found also in the Midbrain and Hypothalamus - has been shown to influence Thyroid function and the size of the adrenals, transmitting impulses to the Pituitary which affect sexual maturation and functioning, and general growth. Additionally, the Pineal is rich in compounds essential to the proper function of the entire nervous system, including the brain itself. Broadly speaking, Melatonin and light go together to develop the Pineal, and the appropriate pattern of hormonal rhythms; whereas Melanin (dark pigmentation, which is blanched by Melatonin) and darkness are related, and inhibit Pineal growth, disrupting the appropriate cycles, and producing precocious and perhaps exaggerated sexuality. The creature that lacks early light grows only a poor little gland, and shows precocious sexual maturation with exaggerated hormone rhythms, disturbing the balance between the physical and mental. The child whose early days are flooded with Light matures slowly as a sexual being, but develops a large Pineal gland and thus increases markedly in sensitivity to surrounding influences. Here is the Neptunian principle at work; the Pineal gland has long been attributed to this planet. The sensitive is so much more at the mercy of the cosmos, but likewise is more a part of it, and the physical, earthly, 'dark' drives hold little sway over him. The Light has entered and purified his being, lifting him to reach out with his every sense and touch the wheel of heaven; Darkness drags Man down, binds him to the heaviest matter, numbs his senses to all but the immediate and finite. Darkness and Light breed the Finite and Infinite man. As Melatonin with its dependence on Light and Dark maps a man's unique diurnal rhythm to vary from the purely circadian (24-hourly) rhythm of the Earthly environment, which is related to Serotonin, so the Light-fed child will lose his dependence on Earth-rhythms and attune to the cosmic cycles.

Here, if you like, is living evidence in all of us of the archetypal battle between the forces of Light and Darkness. Bearing all this in mind, then, let us go back to consider the crucial period of time during which the environmental alterations of light and darkness are admitted to the hyper-sensitive Pineal, beginning at the emergence of the head from the vagina with maximum exposure for the first 60 or so days, lessening, then ceasing at any time after about 120 days. Would this not, perhaps, taking the measure of a Day for a Year, indicate the setting of a full developmental programme of complex rhythms for a basic 60 years of useful life? And does not the maturation of this critical gland's mosaic structure between 14 and 21 days suggest the period of most important human growth and experience through childhood to puberty and 'coming of age', when physical development reaches its perfected form, and the character is judged to be to all intents and purposes mature? The period of 21 days is paralleled by the 20 years that elapse before the skull finally closes tightly over the developed brain.

That the mosaic pattern lasts only as long as 6 to 9 months altogether implies that it serves its main purpose during that period of the mid-brain's maximum exposure to permeating light, and other irradiations from the cosmic environment. Surely then the pattern (the Mosaic?. . .) for the life's development as a whole, especially on the hormonal, rhythmic, and mental levels, MUST be set during that period, to regulate growth of the individual over the ensuing years (otherwise it would be necessary for maximum light to be available over the entire growing period of 6 to 9 months, taking each day's rhythms to imprint the pattern for a year.) This would supply ample programming for the most extended of lives, with the emphasis on the first 60 years after which most of us retire from necessary duties, and may continue to provide the surviving consciousness after physical death with a familiar matrix in which it may acclimatise to its new state. As the pattern vanishes, so may the discarnate individual loose all ties with the recent physical experience, so that there may be rest, or some fresh manifestation of his spirit.
I should dearly love to examine the patterns in that Pineal mosaic ... !

The implication of all this is that it may settle the age-old question of which moment to take as the proper time of birth. If exposure to light begins the rhythmic imprinting of the Pineal body, then it would seem that birth of the Individual, the human embodiment of that silent music, occurs when the Fontanelles and eyes of the child (even if these are closed) have sufficiently emerged from the body of the Mother to start absorbing the influences in the environment. This would mean in the majority of cases of normal delivery the moment at which the skull becomes visible; in breech births, nothing would begin until the whole body of the child was brought into the light, and likewise in Caesarian operations.

So, by a miracle of Cosmic order, a being activates its bodily Centre at the moment that describes not only its psychical but also its physical structure - as we know well from the physiology of 'time-twins'. Yet that material body has been prepared for this moment over a period of nine months or so. The time past is thus intimately related to the coming time. And this moment of activation - the start of the World-life - marks yet another Centre: a Centre in Time. This moment is the focus to which all prior and subsequent developments are related, and contains the key to all the doors through which the growing man may seek to go.

Such a splash in the waters of Time sends even ripples racing and slowing toward the circumference of the life; forward the ripples spread to the passing in death, and backward they run to whatever counterpart may exist in the spirit's preparation for the new experience. Nine calendar months elapse between conception and the impact of birth; nine months pass between the inception and the disappearance of the Pineal mosaic. We know nine months gestation in the darkness, then nine months development in the world of Light. Nine months of rapid and intensive material growth; nine months of critical imprinting on the psyche. Nine months for the body corporeal; nine months for the subtle body. Ten times before birth the Moon winds itself around the travelling Earth, and ten times after as the Ascendant turns 280 times toward and away from the great eye of the Sun - a master-helix of compressed time that may for all we know imprint the sensitive gland with our lives' music, and duplicate itself in the helices of our genes.

We are structured in Time, and of Time; we measure our time by alterations in Space. The two become one thing as light crystallizes at Man's Centre. The man who finds and knows his Centre, finds the paradoxes reconciled, as Yin curls against Yang, and the Sphere is realised from the Hemispheres. Once one thing becomes whole, that wholeness extends with infinite potential to every realm of that man's understanding. The Centre implies the whole of which it is the centre. Awareness of the Whole emphasises the significance of the Centre.

Man's first Grail is that Light-seed, that vibrant crystal of spun Time, that embodies his own Wholeness and encloses his unique selfhood, the central Sun. This is the Blue Bird that sings at home at the end of a life's journeying in search of it - and yet demands that journey, or is never seen. The knowledge that it awaits us must be enough for us who venture forth. Even those who know what they seek, and where to go, must work for that reward. Every tale that Mankind has treasured from antiquity tells such a story.
In Yugoslavia, there is a poet who knows how things are; he images the truth with simple acuity, and it feels appropriate to include his words ...

(The Wedding - by Vasko Popa)

Each takes off his skin
Each uncovers his constellation
Which has never seen the night
Each fills his skin with stones
Each starts dancing with it
By the light of his own stars
He who goes on till dawn
He who doesn't blink doesn't drop
He earns his skin
(This game is rarely played)


*      'HIOMT' - 5 - hydroxyindole 0-methyl transferase
**     5-hydroxytryptamine
***  5-methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine