In episode 112 of the podcast, Chet Zdrowski joins the show to talk about the life and work of influential astrologer Dane Rudhyar from the 20th century.
Rudhyar is a preeminent figure in astrology of the mid to late 20th century for having done technical and conceptual work to reformulate astrology for the modern age and for authoring more than 40 books on astrology and hundreds of books has articles.
At some point as the show progressed, we realized that he might be the most prolific astrology book and article writer of all time as we couldn’t think of anyone who wrote more than he had in his lifetime.
Chet specializes in Rudhyar’s work and has recently started lecturing on various aspects of his philosophy and technical approach to astrology. For more information on Chet’s work, visit:
Below are the show notes followed by links to download or stream the recording of this episode of the podcast at the bottom of the page.
View notes and episode summary
Here is a rundown of our discussion from the show notes that were taken prior to the recording of this episode, most of which were written by Chet. While we’ve covered most of the points mentioned here, there were a few things that we didn’t get to due to time constraints.
- Astrology died out in the west in the 17th century.
- Revived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Theosophy & New Age movement.
- Three important personalities were Alan Leo, Marc Edmund Jones and Dane Rudhyar.
- Rhudyar’s period of activity extended from the 1930s to 1980.
- He was a prolific writer. How many books?
- Although the resuscitation cannot be ascribed to him in the same way as Leo, he was one of the most important figures in establishing the philosophical and conceptual foundations of modern astrology.
- He focused not only on techniques, but on first principles that provide a philosophical structure on which the techniques are based.
- Many astrologers have been exposed to his ideas but may not know that they came from him.
- Let’s talk about his life and work.
- He was born Daniel Chennevière on March 23, 1895 in France.
- Early interest in piano and music in general.
- Health problems, kidney and adrenal gland loss at age 11, lots of home schooling.
- He read quite a bit: Nietzsche, Freud, Henri Bergson, Plato, etc.
- His father’s death at the age of 16 had great implications for the cyclical nature of the world.
Come to America
- Wrote the first book on Debussy at the age of 17,
- spent a lot of time in avant-garde Parisian circles
- At 21, he sailed to New York with some friends during World War I and arrived in 1916
- The archetype of the starving artist … pennies in his pockets
- Copies of music, house concerts, house lectures, freezing in his apartment in New York
- NYC Public Library, Introduction to Buddhism and Indian Thought
- Changed his name to Rudhyar, from the Vedic god Rudra, reasons why …
Landing in California
- Krotona astrology course at the Theosophical Center – 1920, shortly after arriving in Hollywood
- BJ Wadia did not join the Theosophical Society, but was its theosophical mentor
- Has acted in silent films for a while, found it “unsafe and boring”, played Christ 2-3 months in one piece
- Many house concerts, house lectures on psychology, music, philosophy and later astrology
- Wrote a steady stream of articles on music and metaphysics in the 1920s, also using pseudonyms
- In the 1920s he composed and played a lot of music
- Wrote “Rebirth of Hindu Music,” a very early book on world music and Indian music
- He read material from ME Jones in 1930 and was very excited about the possibilities of astrology
Music and how it influenced his astrology
- Pythagorean connections between music and astrology, from his first to his last book
- Pythagoras as a seed man “carried on the Orphic mysteries”
- He often spoke of astrology in musical terms such as chords of personality, progressions, vibrations, etc.
- 2009 biography of his music … he would be very happy if the first biography was about his music.
- Rudhyar’s music … ultra-modernist, avant-garde … Scriabin, Schönberg, Varese … “challenging music”
- He could have just played Chopin, Saint-Saens, Debussy and be more popular, had to be Avant Gard …
- Example … Rudhyar’s “Stars”, performed by Masselos on YouTube, or the Kronos Quartet plays Rudhyar
- He made less music as his astrological workload increased … he started painting when he was living in Santa Fe-1941
- He had two phases of renewed public interest in his music, 1949-1953 and 1969-75, which made him happy
- His first book was about Debussy, the second book was “The Rebirth of Hindu Music”.
- His last book in 1982 was “THE MAGIC OF SOUND and the art of music”.
First emergence of his astrological ideas
- Many influences for his initial flood of ideas and work
- Astrologically… Alan Leo, Sepharial, Max Heindel, Marc Edmund Jones, Ptolemy, Gadbury
- Philosophically… Blavatsky, Jung, Freud, Henri Bergson, Platonism
- New Sciences… Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Holism, Complexity, and Origins
Write, write, write
- Wrote many articles on music, art, psychology, and philosophy in the 1920s
- Alice Bailey and Paul Clancey were very impressed by the brochures on harmonic astrology in 1932
- Paul Clancy began with American astrology and said to Rudhyar in 1933, “I will publish everything you write.”
- Astrology of Personality – 1936.
- He wrote well over 1,000 articles over the next 45 years, a constant in his life.
- Many articles later appeared in his books
- He was very open to new techniques and ideas, he had a lot of space for columns every month.
- American Astrology, Horoscope, World Astrology, Current Astrology, The Astrologer, American Theosophy, Canadian Theosophist, The Occultist, Hamsa … are some of the magazines he has written for.
- Two pseudonyms in astrology magazines, Francis J. Ramsey, Daniel Morrison, other pseudonyms as well
- He wrote between 44 and 50 books, depending on what you would call his brochures.
- During his career he wrote books on astrology, philosophy, music, poetry
- I wonder if he was the most prolific astrological writer in history, maybe any other candidate?
Later influences on his work
- Roberto Assagioli, Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin and Rupert Sheldrake
- (This is almost a “Who’s Who” of the CIIS heroes)
What is astrology for?
- Develop the spirit of wholeness, see life as a whole, learn to deal with the crisis
- Rudhyar’s main concern … The way of the wise man is beyond good and evil …
- Structure vs. content – archetypes have a number of expressive possibilities, he calls this idea “content”.
- On the path of transformation and alchemy of personality, he had a very hermetic point of view
Some key concepts
- Unity of opposites, Day Force & Night Force
- Harmonizing the Eastern and Western Paths – Theosophy and Beyond
- Fate against free will
- Blame karma and the victim
- Fields and the dimension of penetrating fields
- Humanistic and transpersonal astrology
- Holism and the “movement of wholeness”
- He was an important pioneer in studying the cycles and meaning of the outer planets
Access to Rudhyar’s work … resources
The Lunation Cycle Book
- He had so many important ideas in his 50+ year career that it would be impossible to discuss them all.
- A good start seems to be one of the techniques most associated with it, The Lunation Cycle
- Very influential book, a smaller version, “The Moon”, published 1945, publisher abandoned Astrology
- Republished with newer material on pre-natal New Moon and the advancing lunation cycle in 1967
- Many, many astrologers use this technique and concepts, Demetra has done a wonderful job with it …
- Steven Forrest’s “Book of the Moon” is a wonderful addition to Rudhyar’s lunar work
- The current version contains a 60-page addition from Leyla, his wife. This is an excellent reason to buy this version
Themes from the Lunation Cycle
- Position cycles … relationship cycles
- Progressed Moon is a cycle of position, Progressed to Natal was an important tool for him that is not covered here
- The Soli-Lunar Cycle 8-phase system, not very different from the Valens 11-phase system, Book II
- Soli-Lunar types in detail, brief description of the 8 types
- The advancing lunation cycle – advanced sun to advancing moon, is it a time lord system?
- Part of happiness, part of mind and the “point of enlightenment”
- How would Rudhyar see Zodiacal Releasing?
Rudhyar in the 1960s and 1970s
- Young people flocked to him, he became much better known
- The counterculture hugged him … maybe LSD was needed to catch his thoughts
- Elvis Presley … Summer of Love and Rudhyar’s Diagram
- The Uranus-Pluto conjunction occurred very close to its southern node of the moon in 1967
- Richard Tarnas spoke about these pivots in Esalen
- Lectures at the California Institute of Asian Studies (CIAS), later called CIIS
- The Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo, who inspired CIIS, became a central part of Rudhyar in the 1940-1950s
- He married Leyla Rael in 1974, probably at the height of his “fame” and influence.
- Leyla was a huge factor in getting much of his later work completed and published, and in taking care of him
Preserving its legacy and unpublished work
- It’s been 32 years since he passed away in 1985 at the age of 90
- His influence is still stronger than ever. Part of it is due to the popularity of …
- Evolutionary Astrology, Psychological Astrology, Archetypal Astrology and other systems
- Although much of this influence was indirect, it becomes less well known itself over time
- It seems important to research the many gemstones that are still virtually unknown in his teachings
- It seems important and right to acknowledge your contributions
A transcript of this episode is available: episode 112 transcript
Check out this episode
You can either play this episode of the podcast directly from the website or download it to your computer as an MP3 by using the buttons below: