Above is Heaven. Below is Earth. Heaven and Earth, yang and yin; as so ancient Han philosophers regarded the concept of above and below.
Man was created between and of the two, risen from the earth. Man ascends toward heaven, growing upward, feet on the ground. Our heads are closer to heaven while our feet touch the earth (above and below). Where our minds take us, our feet will follow. Chi rises and falls between Heaven and Earth, circulating within us.
Above is God, below is man, as illustrated in the moniker most frequently attributed to Jesus in the New Testament: Son of Man. Man is created in the likeness of God; as above, so below. In Christianity, the destiny and fate of man (below) is determined by the mercy and judgment of God (above).
The vertical line in the cross of life represents the above and below axis. The horizontal line is the line of matter, the plane on which sentient beings and the material world exist. Where the two lines intersect is the point of contact between the sacred world and the material world.
In the Kabbalah the axiom refers to the interrelatedness between God and man. Employed is the image of a massive tree of life, whose labyrinthine roots bury themselves deeply into the material plane: below, the earth.
The branches of the Tree of Life ascend, weave, and reach for above, seeking the Light. The nutrients of the Light of Heaven filter down through the Great Tree, supplying nourishment and vitality for the entire organism, down to the deepest, most fibrous root. As the Light is absorbed above, so the trunk and roots below feel the effects.
As a nubile student of astrology, this is the first phrase you come across. The precept refers to the connection between the planets and humanity, and between the unconscious realm and the conscious one. Presented this way there is a slight implication of fate, of a pre-destiny that is imposed upon us by some mystical power distilled in a planet, which is entirely false.
Instead the connection between the planets and the mortal is interactive, dynamic, and mutually influential. There is a constant exchange of energy vibrantly circulating between above and below.
The 2nd century BCE Han astrologers structured a celestial parallel between the stars and planets and man on earth. The events and symbols in the sky mirrored events and people on earth; where constellations and asterisms corresponded with specific literal royal persons, their palaces, and the fates of their kingdoms. The ancient Han took the concept extremely literally. If there were a lunar eclipse in the asterism associated with the emperor’s home, for instance, then that would be a most ominous portend for those in the House of the Emperor.
By the time Plato’s Greece inherited the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian models of astrology and science, the phrase adopted deeper meaning, and took on the early dressings of science. The planet’s were converted, freed of their magical status and were established as archetypes, whose movements in the sky were measured with mathematical precision, and whose language was transformed from a mystical, religious one into one of geometry, math, and physics.
As above, so below.
It means almost nothing today. Science has shrouded and discredited any measure of intuition, and easily dismisses anything lacking empirical proof. Yet the flow, although cut off, of Light from above to below and back continues to circulate; regardless of our dismissal and ignorance of the holistic and undetectable relationship between above and below.
There are examples of how celestial objects influence not only the Earth but our own bodies, like the Moon’s sway over the tide and a woman’s cycle. There are examples of how the interrelatedness between the macro and the micro is complete; like that the orbits of electrons and neutrons resemble the orbits of planets around stars.
We need to eventually understand and acknowledge the complexity and the truths behind the axiom, and not misread it as a statement of controlled destiny, but as that of an evolving and interactive oneness. We are the stars. Their carbon footprint is detectable in the blueprint of all organic life on earth.
The Kabbalah establishes that the universe was created in one big explosion of light. The Vessel for Receiving had combusted as it transferred from being a sole vehicle for the reception of the Light, to a vehicle that receives the Light in order to share it. During the change the Vessel exploded, sending billions of shards across the void. Each sliver, from the microscopic fragment to the massive piece, contains the Light, so that everything in our world, in our cosmos, and within our very hearts contains the same original Light: The Holy Spirit, The Tao, The Dharma, Ein Sof.
Everything above; the planets, the stars, space, the sky, clouds, and the air rests upon an endless, eternal fabric known as the Tao, The Holy Spirit, The Dharma, and Ein Sof.
Everything below: humans, animals, mammals, plants, rocks, and dirt contains the original Light and rests upon the same fabric as everything above. All material life is a manifestation of the Divine Light, whose multitudinous expression can be seen in every object, and living thing.
Within every being is the Light.
Within the below is the above.