Tainted Sabian Degrees: Part Two

A Comparison Between Jones’ version and Rudhyar’s Adaptations.

by Robin Armstrong

I have chosen the same degrees singled out in the last issue to see what changes if any Dane Rudhyar made to the original Sabian Symbols, and if the changes represented an improvement.


AR 15°(Jones) An Indian weaving a blanket ….. was changed to…

                            … AR 15°(Rudhyar) An Indian weaving a ceremonial blanket.

TA 24°(Jones) A mounted Indian with scalp locks … was changed to …

                            … TA 24°(Rudhyar) A Indian warrior riding fiercely,

                                                human scalps hanging from his belt.

TA 27°(Jones) A squaw selling beads … was changed to …

                            … TA 27°(Rudhyar) An old Indian woman selling the

                                                artifacts of her tribe to passers-by.

CA 28° (Jones) A modern Pocahontas  … was changed to …

                            … CA 28°(Rudhyar) An Indian girl introduces her

                                                white lover to her assembled tribe.*

LE 20° (Jones) The Zuni sun worshippers … was changed to …

                            … LE 20°(Rudhyar) Zuni Indians perform a ritual to the sun.

SC 26° (Jones) Indians making camp  … was changed to …

                            … SC 26° (Rudhyar) American Indians making camp after                                            moving into a new territory.

SC 29° (Jones) An Indian squaw pleading to the chief for the lives of her                                              children was not changed.

CP 01° (Jones) An Indian chief demanding recognition .. was changed to ..

                            … CP 01° (Rudhyar) An Indian chief claims power from the                                         assembled tribe.

CP 05° (Jones) Indians rowing a canoe and dancing a war dance  

            … was changed to …

                            … CP 05° (Jones) Indians on the war path. While some men                         row a well-filled canoe, others in it perform a war dance.


GE 12° (Jones) A Topsy saucily asserting herself  … was changed to …

                            … GE 12°(Rudhyar)A Negro girl fights for her

                                                independence in the city.

VI 04° (Jones) A colored child playing with white children ..was changed to

                            … VI 04°(Rudhyar) Black and white children play together                                           happily.*

Rudhyar’s interpretation of Virgo 16°, produces some upsetting racial concerns.

VI 16°(Jones) An orangutang … was changed to …

                            … VI 16°(Rudhyar) In the zoo, children are brought

                                                face to face with an orangutang. *****

Rudhyar: “KEYNOTE: A direct confrontation with the wild power of primordial nature within oneself: ……. According to the occult tradition, at least some of the ape species are actually throwbacks resulting from the perversion of the Man archetype when it belatedly came in touch with the elemental energies of an adolescent Earth. Likewise many of the so-called “primitive” tribes in places like Australia and New Guinea should be considered degenerate remnants of races which once had reached a much higher level of culture. In other words, the symbol refers to the confrontation of future-oriented modern children with the results of what one might refer to as an “original sin”—that is, with the degeneration of enormous vitalistic power once available to the human being. That power is now directed to-ward the mind, and has been immensely magnified by modern technology. Yet there are residual remains of this vitalistic power in modern man’s nature, and we may well repeat at a higher level the “sin of the mindless.” The candidate for Initia-tion must face this possibility; the whole of mankind, in a sense, is a candidate for a planetary Initiation.”

LI 02° (Jones) The light of the sixth race transmuted to the seventh

            … was changed to …

                            … LI 02°(Rudhyar) The transformations of the fruits of

                                                past experiences into seed realizations of the

                                                forever creative spirit.*

Note: In this degree Rudhyar did remove the prejudicial slanting of the original.**


VI 24° (Jones) Mary and her white lamb … was changed to …

                            … VI 24° (Rudhyar) Mary and her little lamb

VI 27° (Jones) Grande dames at tea … was changed to …

                            … VI 27° (Rudhyar) A group of aristocratic ladies meet

                                                ceremonially at a court’s function.

TA 07°(Jones) A woman of Samaria … was changed to …

                            … TA 07°(Rudhyar) The woman of Samaria at the

                                                ancestral well. **** (the highest meets the lowest)

SA 10° (Jones) A golden-haired goddess of opportunity … was changed to …

                            … SA 10° (Rudhyar) A theatrical representation of a

                                                golden-haired goddess of opportunity.

CP 17° (Jones) A girl surreptitiously bathing in the nude.

            … was changed to …

                            … CP 17° (Rudhyar) A repressed woman finds a

                                                 psychological release in nudism.**

GE 30° (Jones) Bathing beauties … was changed to …

                            … GE 30° (Rudhyar) A parade of bathing beauties

                                                before large beach crowds.

CA 09° (Jones)A tiny nude miss reaching in the water for a shell.

            … was changed to …

                            … CA 09°(Rudhyar) A small naked girl bends over a pond

                                                trying to catch a fish.

CP 29° (Jones) A woman reading tea leaves … was not changed!

GE 16° (Jones) A woman suffragist haranguing … was changed to …

                            … GE 16°(Rudhyar) A woman activist in an emotional

                                                speech dramatizing her cause.

CA 30° (Jones) A Daughter of the American Revolution … was not changed!

LE 03° (Jones) A woman having her hair bobbed … was changed to …

                            … LE 03°(Rudhyar) A middle-aged woman, her long hair                                       flowing over her shoulders and

                                                in a braless youthful garment.

LE 06° (Jones) An old-fashioned woman and an up-to-date girl.

            … was changed to …

                            … LE 06°(Rudhyar) A conservative old-fashioned lady

                                                is confronted by a “Hippie” girl.

PI 08° (Jones) A girl blowing a bugle … was not changed!

PI 14° (Jones) A lady in fox fur … was changed to …

                            … PI 14° (Rudhyar) A lady wrapped in a large stole of fox fur.

TA 28°(Jones) A woman pursued by mature romance  

            … was changed to …

                            … TA 28°(Rudhyar) A woman passed her “change of life”                                       experiences a new love.


VI 07° (Jones) A harem  … was not changed!

TA 26°(Jones) A Spaniard serenading his senorita … was changed to …

                            … TA 26°(Rudhyar) A Spanish gallant serenading his beloved.

GE 15° (Jones) Two Dutch children talking … was changed to …

                            …GE 15° (Rudhyar) Two Dutch children talking to each other,                                    exchanging their knowledge.

GE 18° (Jones) Two Chinese men talking Chinese … was changed to …

                            … GE 18° (Rudhyar) Two Chinese men converse in their native                                   tongue in an American city.

CA 12° (Jones) A Chinese woman nursing a baby with a message.

            … was changed to …

                            … CA 12°(Rudhyar) A Chinese woman nursing a baby

                                                whose aura reveals him to be the reincarnation

                                                of a great teacher.

SA 22° (Jones) A Chinese laundry  … was not changed!

PI 21° (Jones) A little white lamb, a child and a Chinese servant.

            … was changed to …

                            … PI 21°(Rudhyar) Under the watchful and kind eye of a

                                                Chinese servant, a girl fondles a little white lamb.

SA 23° (Jones) Immigrants entering … was changed to …

                            … SA 23°(Rudhyar) A group of immigrants as they fulfil the                                        requirements of entrance into the new country.

LE 08° (Jones) A Bolshevik propagandist … was changed to …

                            … LE 08°(Rudhyar) A Communist activist spreading his

                                                revolutionary ideals.


LE 17° (Jones) A nonvested church choir … was changed to .

                            .. LE 17° (Rudhyar) A volunteer church choir singing

                                                religious hymns.

PI 05° (Jones) A church bazaar  … was not changed!

SA 17° (Jones) An Easter sunrise service… was changed to …

                            … SA 17° (Rudhyar) An Easter sunrise service draws

                                                a large crowd.

LI 20° (Jones) A Jewish rabbi … was changed to …

                            … LI 20° (Rudhyar) A rabbi performing his duties.

SA 30° (Jones) The Pope … was changed to …

                            … SA 30° (Rudhyar) The Pope, blessing the faithful.

AQ 04° (Jones) A Hindu healer … was changed to …

                            … AQ 04° (Rudhyar) A Hindu yogi demonstrates

                                                his healing powers.

CA 19° (Jones) A priest performing a marriage ceremony  

            … was not changed!

CP 24° (Jones) A woman entering a convent  … was not changed!

AQ 24° (Jones) A man turning his back on his passions & teaching from his                        experience … was changed to …                  

                            … AQ 24° (Rudhyar) A man having overcome his passions,                                          teaches deep wisdom in terms of his experience.

PI 11° (Jones) Men seeking illumination … was changed to …

                            … PI 11° (Rudhyar) Men travelling a narrow path,

                                                seeking illumination

PI 19° (Jones) A master instructing his pupil … was changed to …

                            … PI 19° (Rudhyar) A master instructing his disciple.

PI 22° (Jones) A man bringing down the new law from Sinai.

            … was changed to …

                            … PI 22°(Rudhyar) A prophet carrying tablets of the new

                                                law is walking down the slopes of Mount Sinai.

PI 25° (Jones) The purging of the priesthood … was changed to …

                            … PI 25°(Rudhyar) A religious organization succeeds in

                                                overcoming the corrupting influence of perverted                                        practices and materialized ideals.


SA 25° (Jones) A chubby boy on a hobbyhorse  … was not changed!

SA 29° (Jones) A fat boy mowing the lawn … was changed to …

                            … SA 29°(Rudhyar) A fat boy mowing the lawn of his house                                        on an elegant suburban street.


On the whole Rudhyar seems to be more concerned with changing the original symbolism to bypass a copyright than to further insight. This gives the appearance of his having a lack of respect for the original medium-induced symbols. Rudhyar also seems to be preaching about the evolution of the species and the races in terms of astrology. I am left to question whether this comes from a perception of the degrees or a projection into them! If the symbols were the result of spiritual divining process by a highly respected spiritualist, then why would they be altered at all?

            The actual implications and subsequent interpretations have been radically changed in many instances, but not improved. Jones’ run on sentences and phrases, while awkward in the extreme, maintain a brilliant literacy that is missing in Rudhyar’s version. Jones also takes care to present a positive and negative implication for each degree. Jones’ symbols take more time to fathom, but keep an individually open mind. Rudhyar, on the other hand is quite invasive. His interpretations do not give much room for individual reflection except in terms of how well you fit in to his evolutionary beliefs.

            Jones had many somewhat racist or politically incorrect statements, and Rudhyar changed some of these for the better but increased the prejudicial intensity of others. Of course it was only the Great White Way of the heavens that was being reinforced.