In his book, Cosmic Loom, Dennis Elwell sets out a gardening metaphor to help explain what the birth chart is for: in effect, he writes that the horoscope is like the image and description on a packet of seeds.
While nothing could be more valuable than to give the individual a cosmic perspective of his own life, in terms of what he is created to be, he is not expected to jump there in one bound. His role has to be grown into. Fortunately, as well as providing a picture of the ideal to be aimed at, the seed packet that is the horoscope also supplies hints at cultivation.
Before we can fulfil ourselves as individuals our life must possess a certain content. There are prerequisites for our proper development, conditions which promote it if they are present, prevent it if they are absent. Some plants need shade, others sunshine; some a lot of water, some hardly any; one type of soil suits some but not others; and so on. These features belong just as much to the nature of the plant as the shape of its leaves and the colour of its flowers. It is the same with people: they must have the right conditions if they are to flourish, the conditions adapted to their individual nature. Every factor in the horoscope can be interpreted as hints to the gardener!
We can take the well-known characteristics of the signs of the zodiac and turn them into imperatives. Instead of saying that this is what you are like, we can say this is what you ought to be like, this is what you must do, if your abilities and personality are to develop properly. We can thus compile a sort of checklist of requirements against which the person can be measured. (pages 174-5)
This passage reminded me of something I’d written before:
The Seed’s Secret
From “Tales for Jung Folk” by Richards Roberts
When The Wanderer had passed this way again, He strew some seeds over the world to make the world green and to give Him much joy. But He moved quickly on through the universe, and left within each only a small seed of His Own Light.
It was winter on the earth when He passed our way, and Mother Nature was cold and unreceptive to the seeds. Her body was awaiting the great surge of spring, when she stirred in her sleep, shook her loins, and the great cycle of life began again within her.
The seeds lay in a great horde over her body, and on the first day the rains rained all day. “Now,” said the seeds, “we’re soaked through and through. Just right for our beginning.”
On the next day, a cold wind blew out of the north, and some of the seeds began to complain. “We were told that accommodations might not be the best, but this is absurd.” Some of them even began to wish that they had never been strewn.
The third day was no easier. The ground was hardened by the wind, and not a root could be put down.
The rest of the week the rains came back, softening the earth, but driving the seeds deeper and deeper into the ground. Some of them were borne away on rivulets of water. Others bounced from place to place as giant raindrops struck them.
“Ouch,” and “Oouch!” said the seeds as the rain hammered their heads. “If only the sun would come out!” chorused all of them.
“What a beautiful seedling I could be,” said another, “if only I had the right warm soil around me, and just enough sun to start me sprouting.”
“Oh,” said its neighbour, “I don’t ask much. Just a little sun through the clouds and I can manage as well as any.”
But the rains carried on through all of that month and the next. This was impossible to the seeds. Anyone listening who could talk seed-talk would have heard a whole field of complaints,
Except for one! This one seed had been bored at first by all the bad vibrations around him, then genuinely annoyed, and now he knew that if he paid any more attention to them, he would become just like them – a complainer who would never, ever grow.
So what if the rains wouldn’t stop, and the sun hadn’t come out. It was time to do something about it. All the others were waiting for something to happen outside themselves. Maybe nothing ever happened out there. Was there a sun? He had never seen it.
Their Great Legend was that the sun would come again. It had come once before, so the ancestral story went, and when it had, all of “those-who-had-bloomed-before” had burst their jackets and raised their heads to heaven.
Now despair was rampant in the seeds like a fungus, corroding the very spirit of The Wanderer at the centre of their beings.
Except for the one seed. The time had come to do something, and none of the others had thought of that. It had had enough of rain and mud, too. Perhaps the thing to do was to bring the sun out.
Making a mighty effort of will, the seed slowly pushed out a small root. “Lord,” it thought, “this is hard work!”
The other seeds were full of scorn. What good was it to try to amount to anything when the sun wasn’t out. All of them knew the seed would come to a bad end. “Never start anything unless things are just right,” was an old seed law.
Well, the single seed sent its root down, and in just a day it had a firm grip on Mother Earth. Instead of gripping, the other seeds went back to griping. “If only –“ was the prelude to each of their thoughts.
The next day was rich with clouds, as full and fluffy as the cream topping on a shortcake. Not a ray of sun could get through, if there was a sun at all.
But the seed had forgotten now about “out there.” It was engaged in a fierce concentration of all its powers of will and all its collective memory of what it was like to be born. It no longer knew of the other seeds, or the field, or the rain that continued to beat down. Deep within itself, the sun was being centred. The seed was giving birth to the sun.
The next day a green shoot burst abruptly through the roof of the seed, and bore the jacket up above the ground with it.
Just at that moment, above the field the clouds parted and a glorious sun appeared. The rest of the seeds were all dead and could not see it, but it was as beautiful as the Great Legend had said it would be. It wore a gown of golden light, and was crowned with a halo of pure white light.
The seed sent a shiver of warmth blossoming down its length from tip to root, then gathered itself and surged upwards towards the sun. For the seed had learned the Great Secret of the universe, that all along the sun had been shining within.
(As quoted in The Refiner’s Fire)