The Theosophical Forum – May 1940


[Some years ago The Theosophical Forum mentioned that preparations were under way for the publication of an Encyclopedic Glossary of Theosophical Terms. Our readers will be glad to know that this work has been steadily going forward during the ensuing years and is now nearing completion. The material, which will probably fill several volumes, covers the whole exoteric field of ancient and modern Occultism and Theosophy, including mythology, anthropology, cosmogony, symbolism, the ancient Mysteries and allied subjects, and will prove to be an exhaustive mine of philosophical, religious, and scientific information. The work of writing and compilation has been carried on by a group of students at the General Offices. Dr de Purucker has then carefully checked the definitions and in many cases added new and valuable material.

It is too early to state when this Encyclopedic Glossary will be published, but the Forum Editors have obtained permission to share with readers of our magazine extracts from this forthcoming work. No effort has here been made to follow any special sequence of arrangement, but random pages have been purposely chosen. — Eds.]


This may refer either to the four chief points of the compass, north, east, south, west, or to the four chief zodiacal constellations which have descended to us from antiquity as then being Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricornus, corresponding respectively thereto. From one important viewpoint it is of course true that due to the precession of the equinoxes the four cardinal zodiacal constellations shift as the ages pass. These four points are connected with the four arms of the equal-armed cross or with the swastika, as also with the cube, the cube has six faces, which answer to the four points with zenith and nadir added Sometimes the points are eight, and include northeast, etc. In the Scandinavian mythology we have the cow Audhumla, the great Mother, Astral Light, or cosmic soul, from whom flow four streams of "milk', in the Bible, the four rivers of Eden. In the Zohar it is said that the three primordial elements and the four cardinal points and all the forces of nature form the Voice of the Will, which Voice is the manifested Logos. The Dodonaean Zeus includes in himself the four elements and the four cardinal points. Brahma is likewise four-faced. The pyramid is the triangle repeated on the four cardinal points, and symbolizes, among other things, the phenomenal merging into the noumenal.

The four cardinal points are presided over, or are the manifestations of, four cosmic genii, cosmic dragons, or cosmic Maharajas, or hidden "dragons of wisdom," or celestial Nagas. In the Egyptian temples and in the Jewish these points were represented by the four colors of the curtain hung before the Adytum, and also by the square Jewish tabernacle; but the symbol has been grossly materialized, and the points themselves have been honored instead of the celestial powers they merely represent. See Ezekiel, chapter i, about the four living creatures with the four faces. The general idea of the four cardinal points is that at a certain stage of manifestation the three become four, in this case the number of matter; and the subject has to be considered in connexion with the general subject of the quaternary, and with other groups of four.


(Latin) Meaning "pertaining to water," and, as a substantive, applied to the eleventh sign of the Zodiac. One of the four "fixed" signs, represents the Man or Angel among the Maharajas of the four quarters — Man, Bull, Eagle, Lion. In astrology it is one of the triplicity of "airy" signs. In The Secret Doctrine, II, 785, speaking of submerged continents and allied subjects, H. P. Blavatsky equates Aquarius with Ganymede. Among the twelve sons of Jacob, who became the founders of the twelve tribes, he is Reuben, described as "unstable as water," or (in the Vulgate) "rushing as water." In The Secret Doctrine, II, 353, he is Rimmon, god of storms and rain. Subba Rao, in his article on the Zodiac, reprinted from The Theosophist in Five Years of Theosophy, translates its Hindu name Kumbha into the numerical equivalent of 14, for the 14 lokas. Bailly, quoted in The Secret Doctrine, I, 661 et seq., calculates that in the year 3102 b. c. the origin of the Hindu Zodiac was in the sixth degree of Aquarius (which H. P. Blavatsky twice gives as Libra, which may or may not be intentional). It is stated that in 1898 the equinoctial point passed from Pisces to Aquarius of the stellar ('movable') zodiac, thus initiating a new Messianic cycle succeeding that of the Fish-man (Jesus). The Gnostic sun-god is depicted as a man covered with breasts, having a fish on his head and a sea-monster at his feet; which plainly indicates the group of three signs, Pisces, Aquarius, and Capricorn, and points to a fourfold division of the Zodiac, the Egyptian Bull Apis being the one which preceded Aquarius.

This is no place for modern and medieval astrology, or any kind of exoteric astrology; and, in the absence of more specific information in the works of Theosophical Leaders, it will be best to leave the interpretation of that most valuable of books, the Zodiac, to the intuition of students, rather than presume to present ideas which must necessarily be more or less personal to the writer.


The universal analogy enables us to find a key to occult mysteries by studying the nature and motions of the celestial orbs, which radiate manifold influence upon events, and indicate positions in the geography of time. It is thus that the adept, in proportion to his skill, can interpret the past and estimate what is to come; by means of this key — among many others — he can define the interrelations of things and arrive at an understanding of the structure of macrocosm and microcosm, which are spread out alike in time as in space. The word therefore embraces a science of vast scope, permitting of studies which range from the sublime to the trivial, from the most spacious to the most confined. The records of the past show genuine astrology — very different from the quasi-art which passes under the same name today — as a branch of the Sacred Mysteries. It is so today, but no longer with popular acclaim. In a future whereof the past is prophetic the Sacred Mysteries and their handmaid genuine astrology will once more claim recognition and wide respect.

The tattered remnant which in our day clings to the honored name of astrology is an impaired legacy from Greece and Rome through the medieval art, elaborated by the somewhat miscellaneous and speculative industry of modern students; and that same medieval astrology was itself no more, as just said, than a decayed scion of the ancient stock. Modern astrology is too often cultivated in a spirit which binds us to our personality or caters to frivolous curiosity; yet the sublime truths, thus unworthily bedizened, beckon the serious-minded to worthier aims and wider vision. To the merest tyro it soon becomes evident that the planets cause or indicate character and events; what use he will make of this knowledge depends on the motives with which he seeks it. Anxiety about personal fate, the desire for influence and notoriety, the need for earning bread, or even knowledge for its own sake — such motives will qualify his attainments in proportion to the scope of the sphere to which he limits himself. The wise Zoroaster bids us to let alone the stars in their courses: "They were not made for thee," he says. This was addressed to the merely curious and self-seeking.

It may help us if we remember that the heavenly bodies are in essence Gods, and that the influence they shed is the aura which likewise emanates from all living beings. The Seven Sacred Planets are correlated with the septenate in cosmos and in man; by learning the natures of these planets we find one key to an understanding of the natures of their correspondences. By their motions they measure cycles, determine epochs. Every being, if we reckon his life-cycle, is an event; his nature, his destiny, is shown if we know and can define the epoch of his birth. The knowledge that blesses is the meed of service to lofty aims. To apply it to the arts of mere divination or the quest of selfish gain and illusory fame, were to degrade the Mysteries and banish the goddess Truth, with but a hem of her garment in our profane grasp. The student of this branch of the Esoteric Philosophy should always bear in mind the ancient dictum of the wiser ones even among the later astrologers: to wit, "Stettae agunt, non cogunt," signifying: The stars impel, but do not compel.


These two brothers of Greek mythology were also known as the Dioscuri. By one account Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces) were sons of Leda and Tyndareus king of Lacedaemon, hence brothers of Helen. Otherwise they were sons of Leda and Zeus, with their sister, Helen, born from an egg. Again Leda is represented as giving birth to Helen and Pollux by Zeus, and to Castor by Tyndareus, so that the two former were immortal, the last mortal. Various exploits are related of them, in one of which Castor is slain. Pollux, from affection, beseeches Zeus to allow him to die also; but this cannot be because he is immortal. But Zeus permits Castor to share his brother's immortality on condition that each of them descends on alternate days to Hades, spending the other days in Olympus. Still another account tells how Zeus rewarded their fraternal devotion by placing them together among the stars as Gemini. They received divine honors both in Greece and Rome, according to legend appearing at times and assisting humans in war or in maritime danger.

The several variants of the myth are due to different applications of a complex symbol. When the seven great Cosmic Gods are enumerated as only two, two Kabiri, these were Castor and Pollux esoterically, and Jupiter and Bacchus exoterically; and personify the terrestrial poles, also the duality seen in the contrast between the terrestrial poles and the celestial poles, and between physical and spiritual man. As twin sons of Tyndareus they stand for day and night; but when Zeus is their common father and they are egg-born, the myth is theogonic, Leda being one of those cosmic birds, such as the swan, the goose, or the Kalahansa, which lay "golden" eggs. Again, when one is of immortal, the other of mortal descent, the dual nature of man is signified, as also the Third Race when animal man becomes a quasi god-man with an animal body. The "egg-born" Third Race has its first half largely mortal, having little that is able consciously to survive, and its latter half partially immortal because informed by Mind enlightened by Spirit. In this sublime legend is summed up the whole relation between our immortal Self and its mortal counterpart, together with those truths which are hidden under such misunderstood words as "redemption" and "sacrifice" and "vicarious atonement." It is love that binds the heavenly brother to his mortal counterpart, making him prefer death to separation. Whether, in following the impulse of his own being, he thereby sacrificed himself, is a question of interpretation; as is also the question whether Zeus, in rendering his mortal brother immortal, was conferring a reward for a meritorious deed or was merely fulfilling the divine karmic law of love. Albeit the higher could not do without the lower; and the two by their mutual devotion invoke a power which Zeus himself cannot ignore.

The significance of the zodiacal sign Gemini will call for special notice under that head. It is dual and succeeds Taurus which is called the One: twin rays from the Logos, destined to form the heavens above and the earth below; dual forces in man summed up, to be signified in detail in later chapters of the zodiacal Book.

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