A RING OF BRIGHT STARS
— THE NOVEL —
“Hello, I’m The Novel. No, not A novel, the Novel – or the Spirit of same actually. I’m really one of the humble earthly servants of The Word – no, not A word, the word – that highest of spiritual principles attending human culture through the ages.”
“I’m quite young really; oh there have been stories long before I was born – my main function is to tell an extended story – but these expressed usually through the Epic, Poetry, Plays and Factual (if indeed allegorical) literary forms.”
“I learnt to walk, and then run, with the invention of the printing press (a print run, get it? Ha, ha …) in 16thCentury Europe; my timing coincided with the advent of the Consciousness or Spiritual Soul, and this factor I continually express with clarity and beauty.”
“I suppose my most important aspect is as a vehicle for Imaginative Cognition – that element in human thought-life which must transcend the Aristotelian Logic which was a product of the former Rational or Life Soul ear, the Greco/Roman. All strictly blk, factual material – or non-fiction as it’s called – in a remnant of this antiquated literary mode. Imaginative cognition is ‘picture thought’, and it is impossible to write me, a novel – a word meaning ‘new’ incidentally – without drawing on the inner resources of imagination.”
“Of course the better novel writers draw from deeper than this, from the wells of Inspiration – Intuition eve. This concern in literature of Thinking, or the ‘head’ forces, is a constant reminder of my friend Saint John, Patron Saint of Writers. Both Imagination and Cerebration use the instrument of the brain, the Moon organ, to access the World or Words. John of course wrote two of the greatest tracts of humankind, one describing the past – the Gospel of Saint John – who could forget ‘In the beginning was the Word …’ – the other lifting the veil on the future – Revelations. He wrote much else besides.”
“So novel writers tend to be ‘head’ types – indeed my particular literary form will one day be the leading teacher of mankind, with the dry, unimaginative ‘textbook’, my poor cousin, lying unread on the dusty shelves of equally dusty antiquaries. In relations to spiritual knowledge, this will be especially so – beware the non-fiction diatribe, a lead weight to the past! But I guess it will always be more convenient to use a non-fiction form to help assemble a set of disc brakes – here no literary merit is found nor expected. Spiritual knowledge deserves better!”
“I have many expressions, but these can be reduced to 12 major novel forms. As the imaginative source is the Cosmos itself, The Big Twelve relate loosely to the cultural inpouring from the 12 signs of the Zodiac.”
“Whenever an author is sitting gnawing his/her pen top, s/he is unconsciously (most of the time anyway) beseeching the high heavens for the next line, image, or most expressive word. The non-fiction writer beseeches the earth.”
“Actually there are 6 pairs of novel forms – each of The Twelve has its complement across the circle of the Zodiac. Take the first form, the Children’s Novel, this … but I’ll let her tell you herself.”
“Hello, I’m Children’s Novel. I live in the House of Cancer; I am a young spirit, so young indeed that I only relate to children – from 7 to 14 that is – above that, if they have had a sensitive literary education, the teenagers will move right on to adult books. Before 7, they shouldn’t be reading at all, rather looking at pictures in books. But pictures are not The Word.”
“The quality of Cancer is Initiative, so I initiate children into the magic world of fiction. Naturally up Here, we regard this kind of ‘fiction; as an elevated level of fact; one of higher reality – in fact! If imagination in children’s books degenerates to mere vapid fantasy, then it is fiction (‘to form’) indeed. Take the books of Enid Bly …”
“It’s me again, The Novel, sorry for interrupting, but as the field is so vast, I wonder if we might choose Australian novels for our examples. It’s just that the particular spiritual configuration in this South Land of the Holy Spirit is so conductive to a rich, meaningful literature. In terms of population, Australia has had more world class authors than any other country.”
“Oh? Er, very well then. Let’s see, great Australian children’s writers? There are so many, and so many with that all-important soul/spiritual factor woven like golden thread, through the nature images especially. How about Frank Dalby Davidson? His wonderful book Children of the Dark People, saw Being in the most unlikely things – even the mist was alive. She was a lady in white, quite blind, feeling her way slowly and silently through vale and forest …”
“Try and resist the temptation to tell the whole story – as interesting as it is – yawn – this is after all only Children’s Novel…”
“Only!! Oh all right – the region of Cancer is the sternum, protector of the lungs and heart, the heartland if you like of 7 to 14 development. If a children’s author activates this region psychically, health-giving images will ‘literally’ be breathed into the story – imaginations colored by Moon Beings – the Moon lives in the House of Cancer. Images often with delicious and innocent humor, so important in children’s lit…”
“Hey! Tell her that’s my area!”
“Yes Children’s Novel, thanks for your input, but we must move diagonally across the zodiac to Capricorn …”
“I should think so!”
“… to find Humorous Novel. C.N. was right though, one zodiacal/literary form complements the opposite. Children’s Novels are sterile without a regular injection of humor; and Humorous Novels become decadent when the youthful innocence of the child is absent. It can slide down the slimy slope of reasonably healthy and sophisticated risqué; to satire; into the darkness of cynicism; character assassination; smut; black comedy; and intolerable vilification of life!”
“Wait on there – I was going to say all that …”
“I didn’t know if you could be trusted Humorous Novel, you do offend good taste at times. But go on.”
“The Capricorn force expresses variously through images like Pan, and the Roman equivalent, Faunus; great comedians in their own right. The power of humor is a rich yeast in the literary loaf, but too much, or unseemly wit, can bring on nausea; because of the dualistic nature (good/bad) of the Pan/Capricorn inspiration, the humor must be redeemed by the Power of Innocence evident in Children’s Novel.”
“Good point H.N., this can be seen in one of Australia’s great …”
“… Humorous Novel writers, John O’Grady (Nino Culotta), in his marvelously funny They’re a Weird Mob. A story of 1950s working class Australia, which has a go at everyone – demeaning on-one. I would like now to present an exposition on the Four Types of Humor …”
“Alas Humorous Novel, time militates; we must now move on to Leo, the sign representing Religious Novel (yawn) tell us your story.”
“Ahem, welcome friends, this humble assembly is gathered here today …”
“Could you try and be a little more succinct?”
“What? Oh very well – as you know, the nominal quality of Leo is Enthusiasm – you don’t? Anyway this word means roughly ‘love of god’ (theu, theo, Zeus!) and calls on the heart forces – the organ of Leo is the heart – for its most profound expression.
Leo is the Etheric sign, and the factor most prominent in me, Religious Novel, is Veneration. The spectrum of the Etheric expresses from this lofty level, right down to ‘trespass’, the dark side of the Etheric; so poignantly cited in The Lord’s Prayer. Religious veneration has inspired many Australian authors, one of the best exponents being Morris West, with his world classics like Shoes of the Fisherman and The Devil’s Advocate. O
“I’d like to briefly run through these two books …”
“Ah, perhaps another time – in another place, er, God willing of course, ha, ha. Opposite Leo, we have Aquarius, here we lift the veil to reveal – The Occult Novel. This has a spiritual/knowledge rather than religious/faith emphasis. Occult Novel opens unseen doors – by the way, where is O.N.? – to unseen worlds. Doors like that passed through by that Greek expression of Aquarius, Ganymede.
“He was a beautiful boy (innocent again, we must be as little children to enter the gates of Heaven). Too beautiful indeed for this crude earth; or so Zeus thought, as he dispatched an eagle to carry the boy up to Olympus. Here he became the Divine Water-bearer – the Cupbearer of the Gods – Aquarius.
The Occult Novel can make of its readers cupbearers of the gods by informing them of spiritual truths through grand and necessarily cryptic imagery. Perhaps I’ll let – where is he?! Always hiding … ah, there you are, behind the curtain, come on out, show your face!”
“I’ll speak from here if you don’t mind – even if you do actually! The word ‘occult’ means hidden or secret, and is often associated with darkness. If this obfuscation prevails, then I can slip into unmentionable and unconscionable forms, including – shudder – black magic. This is prevented by reaching across the zodiac to my counterpoint of light, Religious Novel, with her enriched heart forces. I am, sad to say, more ‘head’ dominant, with Saturn residing in my ‘house’. The region of Saturn is the skull. The old image of Saturn eating his own children is an example of this hardening force violating the supersensible.”
“Yes, but I draw from you as well, the Religious Novel is barren without at least an insinuation of occult truth. This spiritual bankruptcy leads to an outpouring of mindless, often bigoted religious waffle. But its worst sin is in lacking literary merit of any kind – or artistry. Aquarius is the sense of Warmth, the light of faith without the warmth of knowledge is cold and pitiless indeed.”
“And warmth without light is Hell!”
“Oh!? Er, who is a great exponent of the Australian Occult Novel?”
“Patrick White – one of the greatest writers of this century, winner of the prestigious Novel Prize for Literature. This he wisely refused, on a personal level at least, using it rather as a continuing bequest to assist aging writers, those more likely to have the requisite spiritual knowledge to write Occult Novels!”
“Like all the best Occult Literature, Whit’s work is difficult to read, reaching its spiritual apogee in Riders in the Chariot – even the title has cosmic implications.
“Patrick White is indeed a ‘cupbearer’ – or should that be Crossbearer? – of the gods, with his descriptions of the pain of incarnation clothed in the most perspicacious expressions, originality of phrase and unmatched creativity of story line. He was one of the world’s great novelists, up there with Tolstoy even. His revelations unveiled the greatest mystery of all, spirit bonded by matter …”
“What do you mean?”
“The Mystery of the Amethyst.”
“The Amethyst? What has that got to do … Occult Novel? Are you there? Hmmm – I suppose we’d better get on with the Virgo/Pisces duality. This is especially important due to the fact that these two signs rise in the vernal (Spring) equinox in their respective hemispheres.”
“Since 1413, the Northern Hemisphere has been experiencing a Piscean cultural age, and in the south, we have a Virgoan. Virgo represents the Sense of Movement, so it’s fitting that Geographic Novel lives in the house of Virgo. All geography is movement , whether it be mountain-forming, weather, ocean currents or animal migration.”
“Geography has to be taken in the broadest sense, embracing all of the earth, or Gaea, principles – all nature in fact, including the complementary goddess to Gaea, she of the sea, Thallassa. Virgo is depicted as a pure female form holding a stem of grain. In Greece she was Demeter. Little wonder that … but you take it from here Geographic Novel, you seem a little restive.”
“Thanks – the nature /travel/exploration novel is very popular in the Southern Hemisphere you will find – especially travel – the ‘movement’ novel par excellence. This factor is further supported by Mercury, the quicksilver god, patron of movement – living as he does in the house of Virgo.
“One among many peripatetic geographic novelists was Ion Idriess; an under-rated author who would dump his scrawled, travel-stained manuscripts on the publisher’s desk, and head back to the bush. His Red Chiefis a masterpiece of the genre. Idriess may have lacked grammatical skills, and a lot more that we expect from a professional writer, but what a storyteller! In infusing the good earth with colorful and exciting imagery, he was without peer.”
“But I am empty without an element of my Piscean mate, Historical Novel. He might be a bit of a snob, but he’s a good bloke really. With my emphasis on Earth and Man (in my case ‘woman’), I often express a certain ‘rough diamond’ quality; but with H.N., it is Man and Earth. A small shift of emphasis, a leap of expressive difference. But I’ll let me mate across the zodiac take up the baton; I’m about to leave on a trip across the Tanami Desert on a bicycle.”
“Thank you my rather uncouth but good-hearted counterpart. If the somewhat new cultures in the South love a good travel/nature story, then the equivalent obsession in the Northern Hemisphere is with me, Historical Novel. The quality of Pisces is Destiny, and I portray the collective destiny (Pisces is the region of the feet) through both the temporal and spiritual histories of mankind – through successive earth lives even. Here destiny can be observed in its entirety. G.N. travels through Space – I journey through Time.”
“That must leave Australia a bit think on historical writers? Coupled with the fact that history, as we know it, only began two centuries ago.”
“Indeed – um, let me see – in the liberal spirit with which these 12 Novel Forms are understood, one novel can of course express more than one zodiacal sign – many more in fact. However there is usually an identifiable emphasis. Ah, I know one, Eleanor Dark, especially in her marvelous trilogy of the history of white settlement in Australia. The first book, and probably the best, The Timeless Land, (Lemuria, with which Terra Australis has deep connections, was ‘timeless’). Here we re-live that happy/sad period of change in the late 18th Century through the duoscopic gaze of an Aborigine – Bennelong – and Arthur Phillip.”
“Her story not only portrays the destiny of the people, but of the land itself. But I suppose you want to get on to Libra right? The Romance Novel, how often this makes a friendly bedfellow with me, er, you know, the romance of history, that kind of thing! (Cough) Over to you R.N.”
“I’d prefer The Novel to introduce me if you don’t mind – hmppff. Libra is represented by a woman in a blindfold, holding a set of scales – a fitting image for Mankind-in-love you might say. I am strongly influenced by Venus – naturally – she who lives in the house of Libra.”
“Romance Novels can open the eyes of the heart – this is beautifully expressed in that profound work by Peter Cary, Lucinda; a name incidentally meaning ‘clear light’. This indelible character buys a glass factory – clear light again – and the most unlikely (and sensual but unsexual) of romances unfolds, evolving in and around this fragile theme.”
“Romance becomes saccharine – nauseating even – without the influence of its partner across the zodiac, Aries – Adventure Novel. I find him so, so masculine (dither). How handsome he looks with his proud, courageous, wind-in-the-hair bearing…”
“Goodness, look what time it is, perhaps Adventure Novel should tell us something about himself – what happened to you? You’re all bruised and tattered!”
“On my way to the Conference I ran into this bank robbery – no harm done, the crooks are safely behind bars!” (A.N. slips into cliches now and then.) Anyway, Adventure takes in many forms, from the detective story, to the war story, Banzaiiii – to the western even.”
“And why wouldn’t I represent the Spirit of Adventure in the human soul – when Mars lives in the house of Aries? Aries has the Quality of Event; all adventure stories exploit this event, or unexpected, and usually dramatic, factor.”
“An Australian Adventure writer? One of the first Aussie novelists is still one of the best, Rolf Boldrewood (a pen name for Thomas Browne) with his racy yet sensitive novel of Australian bush ranging, Robbery Under Arms. Good title too, a creative and meaningful title is usually an indication of similar qualities between the covers. Still published, and avidly read for its sheer entertainment value and insight into the ‘golden’ age of Australia, over a century later.”
“this book too draws on the softening, and hence balancing, influence of Romance, across the Zodiac in Libra as she is.”
“Mars and Venus, archetypal, but sadly often tragic, lovers – and warrers! The winning recipe for a best-seller today is: power; violence; sex; and the occult – representing Physical, Etheric, Astral and Ego in that order.”
“I think that’s all we have time for – than you A.N. Now Science Fiction Novel will reveal some of the mysteries of her Scorpio connections. Alas she can only appear in hologram, she’s doing research on some interesting aliens on Antares – come in Science Fiction …”
“(Bzzzttt – crackle) Hello earth – your signal is weak, speak right into the intergalactic sound transposer please.”
“Is this better!!”
“Yow! (Untechnical boofhead!) I tend to be about things rather than people; and of course I have a strong future orientation. Scorpio also is the sign of the future; that is why so many of its associations are negative. The future is always uncomfortable when living in the present. Unlike my associate across the Animal Circle, the Social Novel, Living in Taurus – now we’re talking people. Science Fiction characters are often 2 dimensional, soul-less even, incarnating hard – into materialism; one of the many cryptic expressions of this ‘head’ sign. However I am the birth-place of a rich creativity – Sci-fi deals with new ideas, concepts as yet unheard of. It is a prescient literary form, hinting at what’s to come, from a couple of decades hence, to eons. Sorry, I can’t think of any prominent Australian Science Fiction writers – but you can bet your life they’ll be men – Scorpio is the male axis of the Zodiac. Unlike the Social Novel authors, who are usually women – ditto for Taurus, the axis of muliebrity.”
“Women tend to initiate social change, again with a future direction, but on a tighter time frame, like tomorrow! Men are more conservative, dreaming of the future rather than actually changing it. By the Way, I can’t think of any Australian Social Novel authors either – those who write in fiction (a first principle of the novel, calling as it does on imagination). What do you think Social Novel? Hmmm, she never says much. So what about my neighbor in Sagittarius, Biographical Novel?”
“I’ll introduce myself if I may. I am about life – or lives; not in the broader destiny sense so much, but as expressed in the birth to death existence in this mortal coil.”
“The symbol of Sagittarius is the Centaur, the Archer. The arrow image has always been one of a life on earth – of mortality. Chiron was a god of mortals, with his archery and healing skills. That archetypal mortal, Hercules, shot him in the hells with a poisoned (earth) arrow.
This brought about great bodily pain, the first ever experienced by the Divine. Consequently Chiron exchanged his immortality with Prometheus, and was relegated to the heavens as the sign of Sagittarius”.
“So it is with writers of me, Biographical Novel, who instinctively draw their imaginations from this high realm. Mary Durack was one of these; she wrote Kings in Grass Castles, the story, or arrow path, of her father Patrick, a pioneer of the sprawling, brawling cattle industry in this wide, brown land. This is a different power from that which inspires my friend across the Zodiac in Gemini, Autobiographic Novel – but first Mister Chairman, I’d like a few details from my next book – where were you born?”
“Ah, I’d love to, but we must press on (The B.N.s are the snoops of the world – the sense of smell is of Sagittarius!) Welcome Autobiographic Novel – don’t be self-conscious.”
“Who me? Not likely, I’d rather talk about myself than any other subject – Gemini is the Sense of Ego, this awareness of the sense of self-hood is so necessary to write about oneself. However, good A.N.s strive for the objectivity of Egoism – the quality of Mercury who, incidentally, lives in the house of Gemini.
“Alan Marshall succeeded with his I Can Jump Puddles. It is the tale of a crippled boy who overcame all the potholes life could dig in his path – it was his own story, but told in fictional form.”
“Again I draw from across the Zodiac to create this most difficult of the 12 Novel Forms. I must see my own life with the clarity of the Archer, so beautifully expressed by Kahili Gibran when he described setting a child free on its life course, its Autobiography, like an arrow from a bow. I daresay Biographical Novel benefits from my self-observance and inevitable subjectivity. As the most adult, and hence conscious novel form, I, Autobiography, take a protective interest in my truncated neighbor in Cancer, Children’s Novel. Now tell the people your little story …what? She already has? I must have dozed off.”
See the author’s Shibboleth – ‘Remember your name …!’
as an example of modern Australian novel.
Albert Steffan wrote that Rudolf Steiner, late in his life, confided to him
that he wanted to write a novel. This was to be based on a fictional
Character traveling through three lives. Alas, his untimely death
prevented this git to the world from incarnating.