New Ages as Months of the Great Year
What Is the Age of Aquarius?
"What is the Age of Aquarius?" - "Didn't the Age of Aquarius happen in the '60s?"
The questions come from competent, intelligent individuals, the first in her early 30's, the second her mid 50's. Is it possible 'Aquarius', for some of us, is only one of those vague astrological titles that tells you whether this is a favorable day for business or romance? I grew up to the 5th Dimension singing 'The Age of Aquarius' ("sympathy and understanding - harmony and - - "). Have I simply assumed the whole world knows the tune?
Aquarius is one of 12 'Ages of the Zodiac' or 'Months of the Great Year'. 'Great Year' refers to the fact that the Earth, which spins on its axis like a top, also wobbles like a top, but the 'wobble' is very long-term - a 26,000 year period. The Great Year has seasons, and can be measured as follows: when on a solar year equinox or solstice (the 21st or 22nd of June, September, December or March) a line can be drawn from the center of the Earth through the center of the Sun and arrive directly at (or very nearly so) the Center of the Galaxy, then we have begun a new Great Year Season - about every 6300 years. We are at such a time right now, as we move into 'Aquarius'. The preceeding Season, three Ages or Great Months earlier, began with the Age of Taurus, approximately 4300 BC. That, in very, very brief outline, is an explanation of the Age of Aquarius in terms of Astronomy.
But what of human terms? The three Ages of the previous 'Great Season' are Taurus, Aries and Pisces. They represent three 'periods of development' for humanity. Taurus was a tribal period, a time of collective consciousness, with nothing like the sense of individuality we take for granted today. That individuating impulse was the work of the Age of Aries. During Taurus, for example, there were artists, but they did not sign their work; they did not think of it as 'theirs', but only an expression of the surrounding world emerging through them. Another example: only toward the end of the Age of Aries did anyone think to invent horoscopes for individuals. Before that, horoscopes were cast for royalty, in the assumption that the fate of the leader was the fate of the tribe.
Just as the purpose of the Age of Aries was to separate individual from tribe, make 'him' stand out and claim selfhood, so the Age of Pisces turned to an apparently antithetical principle, that of universality. The Taurean tribe wanted it's own territory; it might compete or war with another tribe, but only until it had secured its own boundaries or borders. The Arien individual wanted personal territory - wealth, recognition, dominance, reputation. The influence of the Piscean Age tempted the supreme Arien individual to go farther - to claim not local, but universal connection, or in the negative sense, universal dominance. To claim that he himself was the world (Caesar) or He Himself was the Universal Spirit (Christ). The creation of the Superhero, or Universal Individual, was the meeting or cusp of Aries and Pisces. Whether as empire, as religion, as race, or later as socio-economic system, the Pisces principle attempted to unify the world - under Rome or Christianity, Fascism or Communism, Islam or Capitalism. (The 'Dark Side' of Pisces is its willingness to destroy the world in order to save it.)
What then of Aquarius? Aquarius, as beginning a new season, returns us to many of the themes of Taurus. Aquarius is also tribal, or collective. However, we are now at a more evolved level of the spiral (or ought to be). Which is to say, we now must include in our consciousness the work of the two preceeding periods, Aries, which began teaching us individual consciousness, and Pisces, which teaches that we cannot be simply aware of our own community (tribe) or our own personal interest, but must also be aware of and function in terms of the world as a whole.
The 'enlightened' Aquarian individual finds selfhood in the context of a collective or 'circle' of individuals, and through that circle, in service to the world. He or she is not seeking personal salvation or attainment (Aries alone), but a place to make a unique contribution (Aries) which serves the greater good (Pisces).
Take the internet as an expression of the Pisces-Aquarius cusp, or transition. It is 'World-Wide' (Pisces). But each person (Aries) has to be able to navigate through an almost infinite morass of irrelevance to find one's own circle of allies and common interests (Aquarius).
Or take the issue of race. In Taurus, the tribe and your function within it, defined reality. In the Age of Aries, 'race' was far more fluid as multi-ethnic cities and trading empires developed, and could even be 'changed' - gaining Roman citizenship by your own effort, for instance. In the Age of Pisces, racial and class identifications became more pronounced again in terms of value systems intended eventually to universalize one single group(the Proletariat or the White Race). But in the Age of Aquarius race becomes diversity, since all colors contribute to each other by their contrast. In other words, what we are learning is that the individual is valuable by virtue of self-uniqueness(Aries), valuable by reason of group, race, religious or tribal uniqueness (Taurus) and also valuable by reason of being universal, one with Great Mystery, Spirit, Source, God, or The Mother (Pisces). The Age of Aquarius is our dance of integration of the three-themed season which preceeded it.
But, with the goal of achieving a vital pluralism and multi-culturalism, how do we survive the clashes and antagonisms, the totalitarian spasms which are the 'dark side' of the exiting Piscen Age? Militant Islam vs. global Americanism; 'humanist' religions versus the doctrine of the afterlife; rich against poor; expanding economies and populations versus declining resources; Patriarchy versus enraged Feminism; black-white; North against South, East against West, George against Sadam,and all the other dichotomies and polarities which threaten to tear our world apart?
Recall the 'wobble' of that 'spinning top' the Earth. As Earth moves (or 'precesses',to use the technical term) through that wobble, the North-South polar axis circumscribes a great circle in the sky. The direction of North in the sky, and consequently of the 'North Star', is gradually shifting. The star we presently call the North Star doesn't move. But after a period of time, our 'north' will no longer point directly toward it. And in fact the stars which play the role of 'north star' shift over time. Why is that important? Perhaps because of something peculiar about their names. We call our present North Star Polaris. And in fact it describes the present period, beginning with Aries, as one of 'polarity', or conflict, as we attempt to resolve the Prime Polarities of Self and Other, Group and Individual, Dark and Light, Male and Female.
But earlier, during the Age of Taurus,the Pole Star
was in the constellation of Draco,the Dragon; the
dragon symbolizes primal forces and collective tribal
awareness. Later, after we have hopefully passed
through the test of resolving Polarity, in future Ages
the North Star will be in the constellation of
Cepheus, the Whale - Whale being a Native American
totem for integration, memory and wholeness. Then on
to Cygnus the Swan, the emergence into beauty. Isn't
it curious that we have managed to name our North
Stars to describe a journey much of which we have not
yet taken? Some may imagine there is some collective
consciousness, some locus of understanding from which
we are being guided, or guiding ourselves. Count me