Defining genius is never an easy task. So trying to define one of the
giants of 20th Century astrology, who also was a genius, probably defies
a few short words.
Born in Paris in the late 19th Century, Dane Rudhyar as a young man
quickly developed a reputation for his sharp mind and literary bent in
He turned his back on Continental culture and emigrated to the United
States at age 21, and stayed there the rest of life. Biographers often
comment that much of his life's work was an attempt to come to grips with
the carnage of World War I, which he would have known about first-hand.
Over the years he explored philosophy, literature, mysticism, astrology
and an eclectic mix of cerebral topics which caught the fancy of his
extraordinary mind. To this day only a limited number of people completely
understand everything he wrote. Nonetheless all of us who have sampled from
his work are impressed with the breadth and depth of his understanding. We
each take from his writing that which resonates to our personal lives.
My personal opinion is that Dane Rudhyar did more than any single other
modern astrologer to drag astrology out of the cesspool of the Middle Ages
fatalism and negativity to allow astrology to grow into the modern age. It
was a mammoth and life-long task, which is not yet complete.
He wrote more than two dozen books, most of which are still in print.
However his prose is dense, complex, and layered with so many subtleties
of meaning that few have fully digested everything contained within. No
mean feat for any writer, but even more remarkable given that English was
his second language. The astrological community is still coming to grips
with the enormous gift we were given by his incarnation.
Rudhyar turned out books faster than people could assimilate and
comprehend his multi-faceted interests. While he wrote on a wide range
of philosophical, literary, and astrological topics, it is his astrological
corpus for which he is best remembered.
Two books are particularly well-known. His 1936 book, The Astrology of
Personality, is still being digested by astrologers throughout the Western
world. Most have bought it, a few have read it, and fewer still understand
fully what Rudhyar was saying. His 1972 book, Person-Centered Astrology has
met much the same response, lots of applause and little understanding.
Yet those books, as incompletely as they are integrated into astrological
thinking, set the stage for a significant shift (dare I use the cliché,
paradigm shift?) in the philosophical basis of modern astrology.
Rudhyar's over-riding message was a great departure from what was then
the mainstream of astrology. His works say:
Here is what you are,
and more importantly, here is what you can do about it with your
Suddenly Medieval determinism and fortune-telling bite the dust
(at last). We are no longer enslaved by the stars, but instead are
liberated by them. Sadly, not every Western astrologer has yet caught up
His final book, The Astrology of Transformation (1980), was his
pièce de résistance, which he called
"my astrological testament, in the sense that it brings to a
conclusion my attempt to reformulate and give a new direction to modern
Rudhyar was an old man by this point, well into his 80s, and he knew
he wouldn't be around much longer, so he was leaving his vision of the
future for a younger generation to pick up and work with. Unlike his
earlier books, which often dealt at length with detailed points of
philosophy and astrological analysis, he painted his vision with broad
strokes giving a sweeping vision of what astrology could become for those
willing to take the spiritual journey.
He called it transpersonal astrology, and while the prose sometimes
bogged down (often the case in his books), the message again was a simple
The astrological chart is a person's roadmap to make the journey of
matter ascending and spirit descending complete.
In other words, anyone wishing to make the Great Spiritual Journey back to
Source need only look at his/her astrological chart to see how it would best
As is typical of Rudhyar's books, many astrologers have a copy of the
book but very few astrologers have actually read it, and fewer still
grasp his message. I am typical. Every time I open the book I either
find something new, or see something old I understand in a new light. This
is the signature of genius in writing.
At any rate, for reasons of public comprehension I call what I do
Karmic Astrology (a rose by any other name smells just as sweet), but it's
based on Rudhyar's last book. For me Dane Rudhyar is the father of
I like to think of myself as a "way-shower", showing people
the next step on their path. That's what Rudhyar was writing about.
Astrology for the Seeker is the lamp which illuminates the darkness so
that The Path may be seen.
Thank you, Dane Rudhyar, for handing us the lamp.