Jef Bartow – Getting to Know Our Personality, Soul and Spiritual Cycles in Life


Leyla Rael’s and Dane Rudhyar’s process oriented approach to astrology published as Astrological Aspects:

A Process Oriented Approach has become invaluable in utilizing astrology as a spiritual growth tool. Since the Spiritual Path is based on the Initiatory Process and cycles, Rudhyar’s insights provide an excellent foundation for integrating spiritual growth with psychological astrology.

If we take the astrology mandala in Figure 1(below), we can make it about our cycles if life. The first half of the cycle begins from the ascendant representing a new seed birth, whether life, some new project, a new career or even relationship. The first six houses (phases) represented in this particular figure are the involutionary arc or birthing phase, as I label it. They called it the waxing phase of growth, which is represented by activity based form building.


As we move around and get to the opposition point (180°) from whatever new project we start, we come to where we have an opportunity for a first flowering or first success, just like in nature each year. This particular place is where we can make a key decision. Do we just move to the devolutionary arc (dying phase) of the second half of the mandala, or do we also make a leap onto the evolutionary arc which represents growth in consciousness?

At near the opposition in the cycle, we get the term retrograde. What in astrology is the retrograde dimension of growth is in astronomy the cyclic appearance that planets move backwards in the sky. If we do make the leap to the evolutionary arc, then we gain growth in consciousness for the waning phase of the cycle. This happens at the same time we’re experiencing devolution, or the dying phase within our bodies. These two arcs finally bring us forward to the 360° point or the end of the 12 phases as defined by them. The end of the entire cycle is represented by death through devolution or a need seed for the next cycle on the evolutionary arc.

Psychologically, we can use this model to better understand our growth in life as a personality, a soul and spiritually. Astrologically, Saturn typically represents the boundary of our personality. Therefore, the Saturn Cycle becomes the life cycle for our personality. If we make the evolutionary leap in consciousness, then we can move also onto the Uranus Cycle, which defines our process of growth in consciousness. Therefore, we have two cycles operating simultaneously; the Saturn Cycle for the personality and the Uranus Cycle for the soul.

The Saturn/Personality Cycle

Up until the 21st century, most people didn’t live past the age of about 60. So literally, we can take two Saturn cycles (29 years each) as the life cycle of our personality. As shown in Figure 2, we begin at birth (0°). We then can define each of the 12 sub phases/houses as about a five year progression in life. Because there are critical points at every 45°, I define the Personality Cycle in 8 phases.

For the first seven years of childhood, we are pretty much defined by our conditioning. We are conditioned by our parents, our home life, our early teachers and now especially through TV entertainment. At the 45° angle (about 7 years of age), we come to a place where this conditioning is either integrated within ourselves or there is some kind of a breakdown. For myself, it was a breakdown. I couldn’t accept the conditioning I was getting; therefore I developed everything from stuttering to a reading disability.

In Figure 2 (below), the second phase on the Personality Cycle becomes about assimilation, assimilating our conditioning/experiences through activities represented mainly by the third house astrologically: early education, our neighborhood, brothers and sisters, things like that. In this phase we’re either progressing if we took integration, or we’re regressing if we have had some kind of a breakdown.

Next we come to the first 90° point in the cycle of life that happens at about 14 ½, or half of the first Saturn cycle in life (Saturn opposition). Here we have the typical issues of adolescence which are about how we’re going to move forward in life (crisis in action: waxing 90° in the cycle). This begins a phase of either acting instinctually or acting more based on our soul.

This next phase of decisioning is typically between about the ages of 15 and 22 as shown in Figure 2. We make major decisions as we move through high school; deciding whether we’re going to college or what job to get; what kind of college; what kind of degree to get, where to live, etc. At about the age of 20, we have to make decisions about what life is to be after school. At this first trine to birth (120°), we can begin to embrace a vision for our life.

As we graduate from school or determine that our college major is or is not our calling, we come to the next key 45° angle at 135° in the cycle. This critical point at about age 22 represents either an outreach or a temporary failure. Remember, this is in fifth sub phase/house part of the cycle. The fifth house is about our creative expression. In this cycle, it is also the first transiting square of Uranus to its natal position.

Let’s use myself as an example of this critical point in life. Figure 3 (below) shows my chart superimposed upon the Personality or Saturn Cycle. Therefore, for me the critical outreach or temporary failure at about 22 is qualified by the fact that I have Pisces on my fifth house cusp and Jupiter in Aries in the fifth house. My decisioning is therefore qualified by my past karma and overcoming past limitations (characteristics of Pisces) in some way. It will also involve some courageous or pioneering activity (characteristics of Aries) involving my means of socialization and beliefs in life (functions of Jupiter).

As I was completing my engineering degree at University, I committed to training for the priesthood in a “new age” Christian church. Within six months of my graduation I left my home in California, moved to rural North Alabama and was living in the energy environment of my spiritual mentor, the spiritual leader of the Church. I was living a new socialization based on my beliefs in life in a challenging environment of the Bible belt south.

Upon hindsight, it was all about overcoming my past karma and limitations developed through my creative expression in past lives.

We can gain further insight into this fifth sub phase cycle through looking to where the ruler of the sign on our fifth house resides, as well as a natural ruler of the fifth house, Leo, and where its ruler, the Sun, resides in our chart. My Neptune in Libra in the 11th house further influenced me to realize my inspirational wisdom and creative genius ability (functions of Neptune) from activities with those who share my life goals and hopes and wishes (goals of the 11th house). As a spiritual counselor, teacher in the seminary, part of the board of the Church and living in the parsonage/retreat environment, I moved forward (outreach) to begin to realize my Neptune potential.

Further, with Leo on my 10th house cusp, part of my creative expression (Leo) would relate to the outer world and my profession. Ruled by the Sun in my sixth house, it would definitely about service to others and living my creative expression in my day-to-day routine. Combining my spiritual focus with working in the outer world as a business consultant, I fulfilled this need within me to creatively self express as my service to others.

From our outreach or temporary failure in our early 20s, the next phase is really about self improvement (6th sub phase/house in Figure 2). Based on how we integrated our schooling and life experiences thus far, we come to our first Saturn return as a point of confrontation or regression at about the 180° opposition from our birth. We experience this about the time when transiting Uranus is at a waxing trine and our Saturn returns to its birth position in our natal chart.

Here’s what relates to either a retrograde period that takes place, or a possible leap into growth in consciousness onto the evolutionary arc in Figure 1. If we don’t make the leap here, there is typically something we have to relive about our earlier experiences in order to allow us to make that leap. This period of regression (retrograde) can be short or last the rest of life. Most of us know individuals where high school or college was a peak in life and they now constantly relive it as an adult, not moving forward in growth.

The first phase in the second half of the Personality cycle (Saturn cycle), shown in Figure 4, is a phase of sharing, which is what we pretty much do in our 30s. We’re sharing with our children, we’re sharing in our vocation, and we’re sharing with the people we know. This continues until about the middle of the 8th sub phase/house at another 135° point in this cycle, again a multiple of 45° from the ascendant. Here’s a critical place where ego adjustments/integration or breakdown takes place in about our mid 30s. It’s usually a time of making adjustments in our life that will contribute in developing a sense of purpose in life. On the devolutionary arc, the mid 30s is about adjusting to the circumstances of life facing us, many times not of our desire or instigation.

The next phase in this cycle is what I label crisis. It’s a crisis phase in life. It’s a crisis in consciousness that begins to build as we come to the 120° closing trine (9th sub phase/house cusp). This ninth house cusp is about bringing forth purpose and inclusiveness in what our life has become so far. We also have major aspects from Uranus, Neptune, and again Saturn, which all form about age 40 to 43. So as we move through this crisis, we gain some realization (or positive growth) about life until after we come to the 10th house cusp at the top of the chart in Figure 4 (located on the top of the next page).

From this crisis period in life, our next personality phase becomes about revaluing our life. Typically in our 40s, we revalue our family life, how it has progressed or not, and also how we have moved forward in our career.

Further, we reflect on what is our relationship to society and is it fulfilling or not. This is shown at the top of Figure 4 about either creative progression in our later 40s, or again some type of regression. In our revaluing, we either resolve to move forward or not. The quintile (72°) here represents creativity, achieving potential through conscious mental action or operating at purely material selfish desires, a form of regression or disintegration.

The end of this phase, at the final 45° angle in the 11th sub phase/house, is where there’s another integration or breakdown that takes place. This critical point is in our early 50s. It happens to be near the transiting Chiron return and the transiting Pluto trine. If we have moved forward positively in earlier phases, here we gain healing related to our life so far. Otherwise, most slide into an acceptance of whatever life has been. A breakdown is represented by a regret that sets in during one’s early 50s. This point of either healing, acceptance or regret catapults us into the final phase of the Saturn cycle, which I label as letting go and preparation for a new cycle.

Depending on how we move through our Chiron return helps condition our second Saturn return. Many are already preparing for death on the devolution arc including what their legacy is to be. For these who did not make the evolutionary leap in life, it becomes about waiting for death while seeking some solace through grandchildren, hobbies, retirement, others, etc. If we have leaped to the evolutionary arc, this ending phase is about letting go of our past, the good and not so good. It is now fully focusing on where we are on the Soul Cycle.


To be continue…




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