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The Labors of Hercules - Labor IV - Part 1
Synthesis of the Signs

Cancer is the last of what we might call the four preparatory signs, whether we are considering the involution of the soul in matter, or the evolution of the aspirant as he struggles out of the human into the spiritual Kingdom. Being equipped with the faculty of mind, in Aries, and with desire, in Taurus, and having arrived at the realization of his essential duality, in Gemini, the incarnating human being enters, through birth in Cancer, into the human kingdom.

Cancer is a mass sign, and the influences which pour from it are held by many esotericists to bring about the formation of the human family, of the race, the nation, and the family unit. Where the aspirant is concerned, the story is somewhat different, for in these four signs, he prepares his equipment and learns to utilize it. In Aries, he grips his mind and seeks to [82] bend it to his need, learning mental control. In Taurus, "the mother of illumination", he receives his first flash of that spiritual light which will grow increasingly more brilliant as he nears his goal. In Gemini, he not only appreciates the two aspects of his nature, but the immortal aspect begins to increase at the expense of the mortal.

Now, in Cancer, he gets his first touch of that more universal sense which is the higher aspect of the mass consciousness. Equipped, therefore, with a controlled mind, a capacity to register illumination, an ability to contact his immortal aspect and intuitively to recognize the kingdom of spirit, he is ready now for the greater work.

In the next four signs, which we might regard as the signs of physical plane struggle for achievement, we have portrayed for us the tremendous battle through the medium of which the Self-conscious individual, emerging out of the mass in Cancer, knows himself to be the individual in Leo, the potential Christ in Virgo, the aspirant endeavoring to balance the pairs of opposites in Libra, and the one who overcomes illusion, in Scorpio. These are the four signs of crisis and of stupendous endeavor. In them all the illumination, intuition and soul power of which Hercules, the aspirant, is capable, are utilized to the uttermost. These have their reflection, too, on the involutionary arc, and a similar sequence of unfoldment can be traced. The soul achieves individuality in Leo, becomes the nurturer of ideas and of potential capacities in Virgo, swings violently from one extreme to the other in Libra, and is subjected to the disciplining effect of the world of illusion and form in Scorpio.

In the final four signs, we have the signs of achievement. The aspirant has worked out of the world of glamor and of form, and in his consciousness is free from their limitations. Now he can be the archer in Sagittarius, going straight for his goal; now he can be the goat in Capricorn, scaling the mount of initiation; now he can be the world worker in Aquarius, and [83] the world savior in Pisces. Thus he can sum up in himself all the gains of the preparatory period and of the fiercely fought battles in the four signs of strenuous activity; and in these four final signs demonstrate the gains achieved and the powers developed.

This brief summation of the signs, as they affect Hercules, will serve to give some idea of the wonderful synthesis of the picture, and of the steady progression, and of the controlled unfolding of the various forces which play their subtle parts in bringing about the changes in the life of man.

Three words summarize the objective self-awareness or the conscious aspect of the evolving human being: instinct, intellect, intuition. The sign which we are now studying is predominantly the sign of instinct; but the sublimation of instinct is the intuition. In the same way, as matter has to be lifted up into heaven, so instinct has to be likewise lifted up, and when it has been thus transcended and transmuted, it manifests as intuition (symbolized by the doe). The intermediate stage is that of the intellect. The great need of Hercules now is to develop his intuition and to become familiar with that instantaneous recognition of truth and reality which is the high prerogative and potent factor in the life of a liberated son of God.

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