the 'sub-lunar' realm. Symbolically speaking, this realm fills the space between the Earth and the orbit of the Moon. It's a realm that combineselemental earth (from planet Earth) and elemental water (from the Moon) and therefore was known (inancient times) to resemble a quagmire—i.e. a region of 'mud'.
"Macrobius tells us about the opinion of some philosophers who think that the moonis the demarcation of life and death and that souls falling from there towards earthare incarnated, while those rising from the moon to the heavens are returning totheir former celestial life." From:
Mystery and Secrecy in the Nag HammadiCollection and Other Ancient Literature: Ideas and Practices
. Pg. 26. Brill, 2012.
Astrologically, the Moon rules the zodiacal sign Cancer, and (in a similar vein) the Ancients thoughtthat the human soul enters the wheel of the Earth's Tropical zodiac through Cancer and leaves it viaCapricorn.
"There was quite a bit of speculation in ancient literature about the exact locationof the star gates that the soul journeys through when it incarnates (or descends)and when it exits (or ascends). The neo-Pythagorean philosophers Numenius andCronius identified the ascension gate as Capricorn, while the gate to descend wasthrough Cancer. These were the winter and summer tropics, the "gates of the sun" orthe "mouths" or portals for the ascent and descent of the soul." Ibid. Pg. 25.
The same idea is expressed in the teachings of Alice Bailey.This symbolism of the soul incarnating through Cancer is basically the same as the notion of the souldescending from the Moon to the Earth. Both images emphasize the principle of physical/emotionalattachment as exemplified by Cancer and its ruler, the Moon. In fact, the sub-lunar realm can beimagined as being an expression (or extension) of the sign Cancer. Interestingly, the soul is said to exitthe Earth's zodiac through Capricorn—the sign that is opposite Cancer in the zodiacal circle—the signthat embodies most strongly the principle of 'non-attachment'.The planet Saturn rules Capricorn, and like the Moon, Saturn's orbit defines a 'ring pass-not'—one that prevents us from leaving our solar system until we have developed and integrated (in consciousness)the attributes of independence and emotional detachment. Thus, the Moon and Saturn work together tohelp free Humanity from our dependence on the 'Earth' and the Form principle (in general).So, on death we are thought to pass into the sub-lunar realm wherein our general future is determinedaccording to how well we have developed the attribute of physical 'non-attachment'. If we haveadequately cultivated this attribute then we're able to pass by the Moon (i.e. the 'gate-keeper' of thesub-lunar realm) and leave the energetic sphere of the Earth/Moon system. If we are found wantingthen we're compelled to descend and reincarnate upon the Earth.The crucifixion of Christ upon the fourfold cross of the elements is a symbol for Humanity'scontainment within the Earth sphere (i.e. our attachment to physical forms). The four-fold cross alsohints at the significance of the fourth sign of the zodiac—Cancer.To reiterate: It's our physical/emotional attachment to the substance (in its many forms) of planet Earththat prevents us from passing beyond the sub-lunar realm and that compels us to reincarnate back uponthe Earth.Some of the personal attachments that hold us prisoner within the Earth sphere are as follows:Physical pleasureMaterial wealthWorldly ambitionsEmotional relationshipsFamily and group heritage