Spirit: Working with Octaves
Gurumarka, with love and thanks
Astrology and indeed, throughout Theosophical writing as a whole, the
'three and the four' are emphasised as having a particular significance.
Three is the number of spirit and four is the number of materiality.
Spirit becomes soul with the decent into materiality (3+4 =7). Seven is
the number of soul
Students of Transitional
Astrology will be familiar with these numerical values.
In the northern hemisphere
the constellation called variously the Great Bear, The Big Dipper,
Charles's Wain and the Plough is an ever-present reminder of the three,
the four and the seven.
If this asterism is taken
apart then the three are of a shape that may be found again in the
constellation Aries and the four in the constellation Libra. In terms of
the zodiac, Aries marks the place that the involutionary journey around
the Zodiac commences; it is in Libra that reversal takes place and the
soul begins to shine through the personality. Aries is synonymous with
spirit; Libra with balance, in this case the balance between spiritual and
materiality. Consciousness of the relationship between these two points
gives us what we call spirituality.
According to esoteric
tradition there are seven planes of nature and seven planes of
consciousness, which express the quality (soul) of the Absolute. The
manifestation of energy in space, time or in both is governed by the Law
of Seven or the Law of Octaves. The musical scale expresses the Law of
In The Fourth Way,
Ouspensky defined the law of Seven thus:
goes by octaves, no vibration, no movement, no activity can go any other
Law of Seven means that no force ever works continuously in the same
direction; it works for a certain time, and then diminishes in intensity
and either changes its direction or undergoes inner changes. It shows that
force can develop in one direction and shows the places where these
changes and retardations occur.
The Law of Seven is the
reason why there are no straight lines in nature; it is also the origin of
man's free will. Without intervals there would be only predeterminism.
The interval upon which we
are focusing in this article is the mi-fa interval, between the third and
fourth notes of the ascending
octave (and 5th-6th in the descending octave)*
Look at this star in the
constellation the Great Bear. To the naked eyes it is weakest star and in
contrast to the other six stars, unnamed by astronomers.
the entirety of the constellation the Great Bear is taken as doh of a
higher octave, then the first of the stars is si and this faintest star
represents fa-mi on a descending octave. The last, seventh star, doh is called Dubhe which in Arabic means Bear and so
there is correspondence, as is to be expected, between the doh notes of
two connected octaves, and this relationship is picked up in the names.
As the law of seven governs
everything that moves in time or space, people who are working towards
goals and wanting to use time and effort efficiently, will benefit from a
practical understanding of it. Without additional input at the intervals,
our endeavours will run off course because, as Ouspensky puts it effort
(force) works for a certain time, then either diminishes in intensity
or undergoes inner changes.
Octaves are of two kinds.
There are those that belong
to the world of manifestation (4) and those that belong to the world of
spirit (3). We will call them octaves of manifestation and octaves of
In the world of
manifestation every form that is born will eventually die, and its life,
however long or short, forms a complete octave that expresses its quality
(soul). The esotericist knows that it is all there in the beginning. The
moment of death is set at the moment of birth and the life-span represents
a complete octave. This is true of organic life, artifices, situations and
To give some practical
examples: A course of study that is organised to run over a pre-set number
of weeks (or modules if the time factor is not expressive of the course's
quality) will contain the mi-fa interval. When we know what this is, we
can ascertain where this interval occurs and to be prepared for the
challenges that will occur at that time to enable the course to change
gear. If the person supervising the course has an awareness of the
interval the change of gear will be handled purposefully.
A meeting that set up to
last for one hour forms a complete octave and approaching half an our into
the meeting it will hit the mi-fa interval. Depending upon the way that it
is handled by those present, the meeting will either accomplish what it
set up to do or it will not.
I have just done some work
for a client who is having a lot of building work done in the summer of
2004. For reasons, which are to do with the building's function, this work
must be completed before mid-September. We have set a start date and a
completion date that she must then communicate to the builders. This gives
the octave of the building project and we can see from this when the mi-fa
interval will occur and when my client should be on hand to see what extra
in-put is needed. Imposing this structure is likely to serve efficiency
far better than viewing the completion date as a movable point. But having
established this structure and taken it into consciousness, it will be up
to my client to ensure that the builders are kept on track, and what
manifests at the mi-fa interval will determine how easy or difficult this
is, and will itself be an expression of what was there in the beginning
Using a different kind of
example, the mi-fa interval of the zodiac falls in the sign Virgo, the
sign in which the Christ energy is nurtured.
These octaves belong to the
world of manifestation or form, and we have as much opportunity to
interact with them consciously as we have awareness of the length of the
octave that is expressing the quality of what we have manifested by
setting it in motion.
Knowledge of the octave
confers the opportunity and the responsibility to good effect. This
recommends previewing organising events and activities in order to
identify the intervals.
In the situations in which
we are participants, individually or as part of a collective, the mi-fa
interval should always be viewed as a point of challenge and opportunity
and a place of choice.
Throughout our lives we
will become caught up in octaves already in motion and over which we have
no control. They may be either ascending or descending*. Some octaves,
notably those of a culture, a state or a religious tradition and of such
length and complexity that the untrained mind will not be able to
ascertain where in the octave we are making our own contribution, or even
whether they are declining or ascending octaves. But our concern in this
article is those things that we can influence.
If western astrology had
developed in a way that encouraged prediction, we would be able to set the
octave at the time of birth by identifying the time of death, from the
natal chart. But instead, in the West, we have eschewed the predictive
usage and chosen to see the kind of decisions and actions taken during the
course of a life as having bearing upon its length. We view this as an
aspect of free will, and so we approach our lives as if they are open
ended and this calls for another kind of octave.
This is the octaves of
intent. Intent belongs to world of spirit (3) which has no beginning and
no end. Spirit is and we harness it to enable us to achieve our goals. In
this case we are not dealing with something with a birth and death but
rather a moment in which we engage with it on the mental plane and if we
would keep it with us, then we must arrange for our minds to hold it.
Endurance is the nature of
spirit and determination is the lowest aspect of will. Spirit lends these
qualities to our effort without being arrogated by it. The three joins
with the four but it retains its separate identity. It is consciousness
that is aware of spirit that permits this.
The octave of intent
expresses the quality of the conscious effort involved rather than the
activity of the event or object to which it is applied. With this way of looking, the
activities are simply a means of harnessing the energy; the rungs on a
ladder that we are using to take ourselves upwards, having understood that
our effort will be subject to the Law of Seven and without renewing our
commitment we will not sustain an effort for long
The octave of intent works
through every unit of time of which the human brain can register, although
in most cases it may not be until the units reach hours and days that they
will impact most noticeably, and months and years will also show
themselves to be useful units of time.
We will find the third to
fourth day of a diet hard and if we intend to continue with it we must be
prepared for this interval. By the 6th day a momentum may have developed
to take us on to day seven and then onto a new octave. But we have not
escaped the challenges even then; because the third octave starting on day
15 is itself a mi-fa interval and all seven days of this octave will
contain a challenge to continuity.
Events and situations are
also a useful alternative measure in an octave of intention. The third
meeting of a campaign, for example, will be important for the future of
Focusing upon one kind
measure does not invalidate the others, which will remain in the
background as unactivated latency. Octaves of intent are created and
sustained by awareness. It is like joining the dots in a child's puzzle
and seeing a picture emerge from what hitherto was undifferentiated -
which is what consciousness has ever done to the flow of energy that is
Transpose these ideas to
human years in a culture which views death as a moving point and you
understand the fact known to the esotericism if not to medicine, that a
child is presented with a challenge between the ages 2-3 ( the mi-fa
interval of the first octave) that tests his will to stay in incarnation
and unfold the plan of his life. The 'terrible twos' are an aspect of
this. Age 14 -20 that represent the mi-fa interval are challenging years.
Age twenty-eight starts the 5th (individualising creative)octave of life
and age 35 the 6th (synthesising) octave of life. Both these age are ages
of extreme importance in person centred astrology. Age 49 starts a second
set of octaves.
Again these octaves made
from the years of a life apply not the biological fact of a life but to
the experience of living. This will become more meaningful if
awareness of the natural flow through the octave is present. The
biological reality is that our physical selves has its own octave that is
running in the background that we may or may not discern.
As part of an effort to
harness the energy of spirit we can consciously create octaves of intent,
in which case we use as part of a resolution to raise our vibration, we
create an octave of intention by a resolution to become more active. In
consequence we may decide to go on a weekend retreat. That retreat will
have its own octave (of manifestation) and will also become part of the
octave of intent, a conscious effort to break out of apathy and inertia
involving a range of activities all with their own octaves of
manifestation. And in such a situation, when an interval in an octave
of manifestation coincides with the same interval in the octave of intent,
this would be a time of exceptional opportunity. Astrologers are
familiar with the coming together of different levels, as happened when
secondary and primary directions of the same nature coincide.
If we are concerned with
living purposefully and using our time in incarnation well, then we do
well to learn to work skilfully with octaves of both kinds so that we may
see the use the opportunity in the intervals
In the coming months we
will look at the other intervals in the octave with reference to the
experience of living, and at the kind of challenges that a person faces at