The reason that Lent is the designated season for sacrifice is that it is that time of year when the Sun is ascending once more from the grave of the Winter Solstice. In astrological terms, this is called “applying.” It is a condition where the energies are on the rise, compressing, as it were, the same as the energies of the Moon intensify with the approach of the full Moon.
There is that saying, “Beginnings are powerful things.” When an energy is applying, that is the best time to take advantage of it, to use it for a higher purpose. Nature uses this energy for procreation, and people who are more driven by their instincts than they are by their mind also use it in this way. Think: Spring Break.
The Equinoxes have a kind of “square” aspect, the halfway point between the longest and shortest days of the year, the peak times of light and shadow. In astrology, squares provide the extra energy needed for change the same way that a weighted flywheel helps to sustain momentum.
The challenge of Lent is to sublimate sexual energy by elevating one’s thoughts to loftier ideals. It’s not that there is anything wrong with sex, it’s just that this is a great time to use that energy for spiritual transformation rather than letting it reinforce what’s already going on. It’s an opportunity.
There are some who use sexual energies for “spiritual” purposes, but this is an entirely different path. Those who practice it are convinced of its power, but they are using different forces and are in touch with other beings than those who seek the Solar Initiations. The Solar Path works with the Angelic Hosts and the White Brotherhood, whereas the other path works with Earth energies, Earth spirits, and the magnetic forces of the Moon.
We also use these lunar forces, but since these forces are in such abundance here in this earthly experience, we emphasize the Solar aspect in order to offset the lunar dynamo. Being the immediate influence, the Moon and its forces tend to keep us involved in Nature. But by “lifting our eyes to heaven,” which is to say looking to the greater cosmological sphere, we are better able to rise above the Moon’s influences, not to abandon or negate them, but to be the master of their forces so that we can use them for greater purposes and not be used by them.
This “overcoming/mastering” is symbolized by the depictions of Mary with the Moon (and the Serpent, symbolizing the cyclical/lunar forces and the domain of Time) usually under her left foot, indicating that it is the subconscious mind that benefits by our looking past it to the superconscious mind, the same way we look past the Moon to the Sun.
The object of looking past the subconscious mind to the superconscious mind is not to eliminate the subconscious but to purify it of negative thought patterns, meaning those patterns that are self-reinforcing and lacking the capacity for self-transcendence. The subconscious mind was never intended to sit in the driver’s seat, so to speak, but to act as a “base” or operating system (in computer lingo). It serves as a memory or record system, and it is the “substance” from which thought patterns are formed.
To look to the subconscious mind for guidance is to mistake the system for the intelligence for which the system was created. We always look past the immediate structure (in mind) to that which lies just beyond it. In folklore, this is understood as “favoring the grandparent,” and in some religions it manifests as ancestor worship. It is also what is meant by “seeking a higher power,” which in societal terms is interpreted as “the Rule of Law,” where plaintiffs can appeal their cases to a higher court.
So, Lent is designed to give us a rudimentary pattern by which we can delay gratification of our bodily impulses and rise past the natural to the supernatural. It’s all one Nature, of course, but Nature is layered in a distinct hierarchy of organization and potency of cosmic powers. This knowledge helps us to keep moving forward in our spiritual evolution.
Earth life is inherently dangerous in many, many ways, and it is a well-known fact that people who can keep their wits in times of stress are those who have the best chance to survive and thrive. Fear, anger, lust, avarice—all of the “deadly sins”—tend to undo us when the chips are down. Lent is the ideal time of year to rechannel these potent tendencies, keeping our spiritual development on an upward trajectory, and ensuring the survival of the race.