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The Labors of Hercules - The Path of the Soul through the Zodiac
The Path of the Soul through the Zodiac

"The path of souls to ascension lies through the twelve signs of the Zodiac... the descending path is the same."
- Clement of Alexandria

Editor's Note: Lest we be lost in the colorful labors of Hercules, and the marvels of this allegory of the labors of all disciples on their evolutionary way, or be confined to the personal correlation with our own sun sign in this one incarnation, it seems wise to turn our thoughts to the deeper significance of the energies of these signs which fall upon our little planet, and the use we make of them. The larger picture of the effect on world and racial evolution should receive our thought. The Tibetan tells us that all depends upon our degree of receptivity and response, which is determined by our status of evolution.

In the life of Hercules, the soul in incarnation, and his progress round the Zodiac from Aries to Pisces on the reversed wheel, the path of the disciple, it might be helpful to briefly define the Zodiac so that we can follow his labors intelligently. It might also be of benefit to ascertain whether, in our western Christian tradition, there are indications of the influence of the ancient science of astrology.

There have been many definitions of the word "Zodiac". The most usual is as follows:

"... the word is derived from the Greek 'zodian', a little animal, full expression being the zodiacal circle, or circle of animals. This was an imaginary belt in the sky, formed by two circles equidistant from the ecliptic and about eighteen degrees apart, which marked out the path of the sun either in its annual revolution when the twelve divisions indicated the succession of months in the year, or in its diurnal course, when the divisions marked the hours of the day and night."
Astrology, the Link between Two Worlds. by S. Elizabeth Hall, M.A.

Valentia Stratton might also be quoted here:

" astronomy, says science, the Zodiac is an imaginary [216] belt in the heavens, sixteen or eighteen degrees broad, through the middle of which passes the sun's path (the ecliptic). It contains the twelve constellations, which constitute the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and from which they are named.... The astrological Zodiac proper, however, is an imaginary circle passing around the earth in the plane of the ecliptic, its first point being called Aries, 0 degrees. It is divided into twelve equal parts called 'signs of the Zodiac', each containing thirty degrees of space, and on it is measured the right ascension of the celestial bodies. The movable or natural Zodiac is a succession of constellations forming a belt of 47 degrees in width, lying north and south of the ecliptic."
Glossary of The Celestial Ship of the North.

Walter H. Sampson gives us a very simple explanation of the imaginary belt. He says:

"The Zodiac, properly speaking, is that belt of the heavens through which passes the apparent path of the sun; its point of commencement is the Vernal Equinox which, as we know, is in continuous retrograde movement through a circle of constellations which lie near the ecliptic. The Zodiac is divided into twelve equal portions of thirty degrees each, corresponding loosely to the twelve constellations of Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces."
The Zodiac: A Life Epitome.

Alan Leo tells us also:

"...the constellations are groups of fixed stars, the twelve central groups being called by the same names as the twelve signs, although they do not cover the same area of the heavens. The precession of the equinoxes, caused by the 'motion' of the sun through space, makes the constellations appear to move forward against the order of the signs at the rate of 50 1/3 seconds per year."
Dictionary of Astrology, p. 204.

Another point to be remembered is made by Alan Leo in the following: [217]

"The twelve constellations form the Zodiac of the whole solar system... just as the rotation of the earth makes the signs rise and set, a new sign being on the ascendant every two hours on an average; so, as the result of the precession, the far greater circle of the constellations passes across the earth's ascendant, the equinoctial point, the beginning of the Zodiac. In this way, the great day of precession, comprising over twenty-five thousand of our years, corresponds with one of our days, because during that period all the twelve constellations rise and set once." Ibid, p. 167

The second thing, therefore, to remember is that there are two Zodiacs, the greater and the lesser. The former comprises the twelve constellations through which the sun and planetary system appear to pass in a great cycle of over 25,000 years. The latter is the same circle of constellations through which the earth appears to pass in its annual revolution around the sun, and it is upon this that the astrologers base their predictions and cast the horoscope. Thus we have in these two Zodiacs the symbol of the progress of the Life informing a solar system, a planet and a man.

"As the earth in its yearly journey around the sun passes through a sign of the Zodiac each month, so does our solar system during its great journey around the central sun of the universe (Alcyone) pass through each sign of the Zodiac; but in this greater cycle instead of a month our solar system requires approximately two thousand and sixty years to traverse each sign."
The Message of Aquaria, p. 23,by Homer Curtiss.

An interesting and more probable definition of the word "Zodiac" is given by Dr. Ethelbert Bullinger in his book The Witness of the Stars. He says:

"The word Zodiac itself is from the Greek 'Zodiakon', which is not from 'zoon' 'to live', but from a primitive root, through the Hebrew 'sodi', which in Sanskrit means 'a way. Its [218] etymology has no connection with living creatures, but denotes a way, or steps and is used for the way or path which the sun appears to follow amongst the stars in the course of a year."

The Zodiac, therefore, is the Path or Way. When Christ spoke to His disciples as the Cosmic Christ, He told them "I am the Way", and to this it is possible to give an astrological significance, for all three types of lives tread this cosmic Way, the Cosmic Christ, the Planetary Spirit and the human being.

It is interesting to note that the Zodiac is spoken of as an illusion and as an imaginary path, an appearance. Webster's Dictionary, for instance, defines the Zodiac as "the imaginary path of the sun through the heavens", and in all books of reference upon the subject the emphasis is laid upon the fact that it is all appearance, the great illusion. One writer tells us that:

"... to the astronomer the Zodiac is merely the pathway of the sun, the moon and the planets, possessing no more reality than the tracks of liners shown upon an atlas for the information of the intending travellers."
The Zodiac and the Soul, p. 1by C.E.O. Carter

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