A Complete Tour of the Astrological Ages
The Evolution of Consciousness and Civilization
Embarking on a trip into the Astrological Ages will take us back in time thousands of years, from there to present time, and then forward into the future. On this voyage we will not only be looking at many of the literal events that have formed civilization as we know it but, more importantly, their symbolic import. Seems to me we could all use a good dose of symbolic insight these days with the world we are now living in, no? As I often teach, archetypal perception provides the alchemy that can change your life, which means it can change the world. Carl Jung warned us: when we cease to live the symbolic life, we cease to partake in the life of the gods (the divine and universal processes that are the very ground of existence), and so we miss celebrating the divine sacrament of a daily life lived with meaning. It is my hope that this tour may hold for you the possibility of embracing new perceptions to transform your worldviews and inspire a future vision. We are indeed living in the space between the current Age of Pisces and the forthcoming Age: the Age of Aquarius. This renders us between worlds.
I am sure that many of you have heard about the “New Age” or the “Age of Aquarius.” But do you actually know what that means, or how the Astrological Ages are determined? Describing how the Ages are determined is actually quite complicated, so I am not going to get too technical about that until later. Moreover, I want to investigate the rich symbolism and synchronistic events of many sequential Astrological Ages to illuminate where it is I feel we are headed as a collective and look at where we have been symbolically. To set the stage, let’s first address the philosophical fundamentals that the Astrological Ages are based on and save the technical stuff for later.
First, I must address a fundamental premise of why Astrology works in the first place, which is a quantum physics truth: everything is in synchronicity; everything is connected. In this regard, synchronicity is defined as an outer event occurring in one’s life that is simultaneously coded with inner meaning. Thus, everything that happens in your life has some measure of inner meaning – whether you perceive it or not and without exception. Of course none of us lives in a constant state of perceiving synchronicity; our brains would probably fry if we did! And to perceive synchronicity we often need tools. Astrology can be understood as a tool that connects the outer world and inner life of not only a single human being, but also a collective through the mediation of symbols. It is here that we enter into the relevance of how Astrology can be used to understand Universal and historic processes that operate inside and outside of us, revealing the Unus Mundus (One World or unity that underlies the dualities of the time/space continuum).
Astrology’s true function then, is to unite the outer phenomenal world with the inner invisible world, allowing us to see the duality as one. Understood in this way, Astrological symbolism represents the archetypal process that Jung called “individuation” or the urge of the psyche to aspire toward wholeness and integration. Applying this understanding to the “collective,” we then arrive at the feet of the Astrological Ages, which encapsulate the process of moving into more encompassing states of wholeness within the collective psyche of humanity.
There are twelve Astrological Ages in total; one for each constellation of the zodiac. Each Age lasts for approximately 2160 years, but there is much debate about the exact timing, because the Ages are based on the constellations in the heavens rather than on the seasons on which we base our Western Zodiac. Thus, who decides when one constellation ends and another begins (some constellations are simply bigger than others)? The sum of all the Ages is often called “the Great Year,” which would total 26,000 years.
The Astrological Ages illuminate a sequential process of how we project our inner collective archetypal images and patterns during a given period of time: an Astrological Age. An Astrological Age is essentially a symbol that anchors the collective consciousness in a way that is synchronous with our collective soul’s evolution. Contained within the time period of each Age, it would seem that there is an objectively observable coincidence between the symbolic meaning of that Astrological Age and the religious, mythic, physical, psychological, and spiritual development of humanity.
Furthermore, the sequence of the Ages is important to consider too, as it represents an evolutionary process of the collective psyche/soul. Each Age follows the other in a Divinely designed way that speaks to humanity’s evolution. However, this sequence also resonates with the growth and development of the individual psyche that has incarnated during a particular Astrological Age – something I find incredibly fascinating. One could visualize the Astrological Ages as a needle playing on a record in which the current age is where the needle is, yet the previous ages are connected in an inextricable and intelligent evolutionary sequence to the current age, as are the ages to come. As the cosmos spins, the music plays, the Universe unfolds, and we move deeper and deeper toward the center of the One. Yet we still have periods of transition between each “song track” where two Ages cross fade. We are currently in such a state of transition and will be for the next 300 years or so. These states of transition are called “interfaces”.
So how are the Astrological Ages determined exactly and why do they go backwards, rather then in the same sequence as the zodiacal signs? Alright y’all, we have to get a bit technical for a moment, please bear with me! You can skip this if you want and join me again by The Ages of Leo - Taurus, but give a quick try and see if you can conceptualize the process.
Essentially, the Astrological Ages are determined by the movement of what is called the “vernal (spring) equinox point” amidst the backdrop of the sidereal constellation belt in the heavens. This belt is comprised of the visible constellations that our Western Zodiac was actually based on, so they carry the names of Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc., and they vary in width-size. Vedic/Sidereal Astrologers actually use this Zodiac when casting charts. This is also called the Earth’s Ecliptic, which is formed by the path the Sun makes as it appears to circle the earth every year (which is really caused by the Earth’s going around the Sun.) There is another imaginary circle to be considered that surrounds the earth, which is at an angle to the Earth’s Ecliptic. It is an extension of the Earth’s Equator out into space and is called the “Celestial Equator”. Over time this circle seems to change in relation to the Earth’s Ecliptic because of the Earth’s slow wobble on its axis (which is due to the gravitational pull from the moon). The globe above demonstrates this wobble which takes place over thousands of years.
To simplify and recap: the Ecliptic is the circle of Zodiacal constellations, defined by the Sun's apparent movement through the heavens, and the Celestial Equator is an extension of the Earth's planetary equator, inclined to the ecliptic.
Twice a year, we arrive at the point where these two circles intersect. These intersections points are the two equinoxes we experience in the fall and spring on our lovely planet. The vernal/spring equinox is when we mark the beginning of the sign Aries in Western Astrology, which is based on the Earth’s relationship to the seasons and the Sun – not the Constellations per se – though it was derived from the Constellations originally when both were in alignment some 2000 years ago.
At the moment/day of the Spring Equinox, the Earth’s Ecliptic and Celestial Equator cross at a point in space, and they do so amidst the back drop of an actual constellation in the heavens. This is called the “vernal equinox point”. Every 72 years, due to the wobble of the earth on its axis this point shifts back 1 degree in whatever constellation it’s in, this is what determines the timing/duration of an Astrological Age. This is an astronomical fact. Currently, the vernal equinox point is in the last degrees of the constellation of Pisces (hence we are in the Astrological Age of Pisces). The fact that the equinox point slowly circles westward at the rate of 1 degree every 72 years accounts for the fact that the Ages follow in reverse sequential order due to the clockwise movement of this point.
This phenomenon is called “the precession of equinoxes” and was discovered by Hipparchus on the Isle of Rhodes in the second century B.C. The precession of equinoxes produces what has been called the “Great” or “Platonic Year” of 26,000 years, during which the point of the vernal equinox (like a hand on a clock) makes a complete tour through the twelve celestial constellations in the Celestial Equator. Whew! If you divide 26,000 by 12 then you arrive at the duration of each Astrological Age equaling roughly 2,160 years.
This of course is in contrast to the apparent forward movement of the planets and Sun within the wheel of the Western Tropical Zodiac, which once again relates to the seasons and establishes planetary relationships to the Earth and not the Constellations. Two wheels spinning in opposite directions with each other, can you dig it?!
One other more esoteric phenomenon occurs that I feel has something to do with the Astrological Ages, and that is the shifting of our North Pole Star. As we will see, the vernal equinox point’s shifting from constellation to constellation every 2160 years has much to do with the outer manifestations of archetypes evolving within the collective consciousness of humanity. But let’s shift gears for a moment. Now imagine the Gaia/Earth has her own chakra system, and the North Pole is the crown of Gaia’s head.
Next, visualize the crown or 7th chakra of Gaia aligning to a new star or constellation, which happens because of a peculiar gyrating motion of the Earth that changes very slowly the direction of the polar axis (this is the same motion that causes the precession of equinoxes - think of a toy top that wobbles as it spins). Dane Rudhyar, the late Astrologer ahead of his time, called this the “Great Polar Cycle” which encompasses 25,868 years as the North Pole aligns successively to a series of stars or constellations. This process is like the earth shifting to a new 8th Chakra and opening up to new reservoirs of cosmic archetypal energy. Talk about a rewiring of planetary kundalini! I sense that this symbolizes a new energetic shift of planetary consciousness that actually initiates and precedes the shifting of the Astrological Ages. I would also speculate that this is a factor in how each Age manifests in the collective body and psyche of Gaia. Energy pours from the 8th Chakra (which is the North Polar Star) and downloads through the other chakras until it hits the 1st Chakra of Gaia and manifests via our consciousness and physicality. We are currently aligning to a new North Star, Polaris which is in the constellation Ursa Minor. The alignment is said to be exact in 2100 and would account for why we are experiencing such rapid collective shifting when it comes to this New Age of Aquarius before the vernal equinox point reaches the constellation of Aquarius. Ok, let’s leave that technical stuff behind and jump into our first Age…..
The Ages of Leo - Taurus
As I list the beginning and ending dates for the Ages, keep in mind that the dates are vague and also include generous transitions from one Age to the next. Think of this in terms of civilizations: how can we really date when they begin and end? It’s a gradual process that interfaces with the rise and fall of other civilizations.
Age of Leo
11000 B.C. - 8000 B.C.
As we begin here, the snow of the Ice Age melts and the global climate begins to warm up. And what do we find? The cultures on the planet during this time worshipping the Sun, the ruler of the fire sign Leo, almost as a way of saying thanks for melting all that damn ice! Sun-Gods abound, populations rise in many parts of the world, minimal farming begins to birth as climates get warmer and wetter and herds of large animals become scarcer. This is also known as the Mesolithic period, or Stone Age. Ok, I know this isn’t too exciting, be patient, it gets better!
Age of Cancer
8000 B.C. – 6500 B.C.
Now we have just made a shift from the fire sign Leo to the water sign Cancer, and what happens? Floods! Around 8000 B.C. is thought to be the time when the great floods that are mentioned in almost every major culture occurred. The floods drowned out Sun-worship, which was replaced by Moon-worship as many cultures became aware of how the Moon affected the rising and falling of the water: the tides. The sign Cancer is ruled by the Moon and associated with the archetype of the Great Mother, which deals with the womb, bearing, birthing, nurturing, protecting, and domestic life. Speaking of which, during this time animals began to be domesticated. To be sure, this was a matriarchal period, which is evinced in many artifacts dating to this time period with exclusive depictions of the feminine figure. Many figurines found show breasts, incised vulvas and heavy hips, and are sometimes enthroned and guarded by lions or cats (Age of Leo reference).
This is also the Neolithic Age, or Late Stone Age. The great motif of the Age was the womb and tomb, both of which symbolize the vagina of Mother Earth, who gives birth and takes back into herself the bodies of her children. During this time, burial rites developed in which corpses were buried in the fetal position, and many anthropologists believe that men probably did not realize their role in procreation, so when babies popped out of women they trembled in awe of the feminine. The Great Mother seemed to possess an incredible power, and in this sense, She was terrifying and not some Betty Crocker! Collectively, we still fear her today as uncontrollable Mother Nature who can be nurturing and life giving, but also as relentless as a devouring black widow (which we still see via tsunami’s and hurricanes).
Current evidence points to the idea that during this time, a group soul level of consciousness was dominant, with very little individual ego-consciousness actualized. Therefore, tribalism became the dominant mode of consciousness. The sign of Cancer symbolizes our tribal origins: our family. I sense that even today, much of our unconscious fear of the dark and death is connected to the fear of the Great Mother, who symbolizes here a regressive loss of ego-consciousness and a merging back with the tribe. This fear of the feminine has spawned an industrial world of incredible scientific/technological advances at what seems to be the price of our souls and planet. We have forgotten that we are the eyes, voice, heart, and body of Gaia herself; we are part of Her soul, as we are all part of Her. Like it or not, we all pass from the tomb of the womb, back to the womb of the tomb!
Towards the end of this Age came the domestication of the horse and wild cattle, the invention of the wheel and weaving, and some of the first known examples of metal working. These new technologies began to liberate humanity from the basic survival needs of food, water, shelter, and reproduction. No longer solely at the mercy of Mother Nature, new choices were born and intellectual development began to birth a new myth out of the Great Mother…
Age of Gemini
6500 B.C. - 3750 B.C.
During this Age, human beings began to develop their intellects. Most of this Age, however, still remains prehistoric, so we can only speculate how progress was made in that regard. That being said, there is certainty that by the end of this Age writing appeared, first in crude pictographs, and finally in formalized cuneiform on tablets in Sumeria and hieroglyphs in Egypt. We also find a similar trail of development in India and China.
If writing developed toward the latter half of the Age, then we can safely assume that languages developed by leaps and bounds throughout the Age itself – all of which fall under the province of the Mercury ruled sign, Gemini. Mercurius/Hermes was, of course, the communicator of the Gods in the Greco-Roman mythologies. The world during this Age seemed to flourish with all things associated with the archetype of Gemini; communications, language development, intellectual development, but also – and perhaps most importantly -- the duality of opposites.
Once the intellect of humanity began to evolve out of the more instinctual level of consciousness - the Age of Cancer - then humans began to perceive reality via the separation of subject and object and, by extension, duality. As a sense of duality began to permeate the collective consciousness of the planet, new images of dual-god forms spontaneously emerged. In addition, as languages developed, so did oral traditions. It is believed that though the first books of the Old Testament were not written down until around 1000 B.C. at the time of Solomon, the oral traditions of creation stories like The Garden of Eden were actually created during the Age of Gemini.
The Garden of Eden itself is a myth that illustrates the perception of reality that is invoked when we take the first steps towards independent consciousness via the power of choice and the development of the mind. The Garden of Eden not only had a Tree of Knowledge (Gemini) of Good and Evil (duality - Gemini again!), but also the Tree of Life. So the two Trees themselves form the duality of Life and Death, while Adam and Eve bring the duality of masculine and feminine.
Naming things is also a function of Gemini, and coincidentally a task that was given to Adam and Eve. This myth is just full of Geminian juice! The myth symbolizes that with greater awareness comes choice and consequence, while encapsulating duality in many forms. I will visit this myth again in the Age of Aquarius…..for this myth also provides a hint of how the Garden can be restored.
Paradoxically, one other duality that begins to form with the development of the intellect is the rational and irrational. We could also stretch this to encompass the literal and symbolic. This speaks to a duality that exists between the signs Gemini and Sagittarius, which are in polarity to each other in Astrology. I would also like to add that in each Age, there is a residue and balance of the Astrological Age’s opposite Zodiacal Sign. This is a concept I will begin weaving in more and more with the Ages to come.
For now, let me say that during this Age of Gemini, its opposite Sagittarius began to show up as the first forms of organized religion. As humanity developed this idea of subject vs. object duality, God became “other” and so did “nature.” As farming communities settled down out of nomadic life, they constructed the first centers for worship. The direct experience of the tribal shaman was no longer considered adequate in many cultures towards the end of the Age, and an organized priesthood began to develop to mediate the separation of the gods and humankind. Lastly, concerning the duality of literalism vs. symbolism, creation stories back then probably weren’t considered “myths” but literal events……funny how some things never change! Oh yes I did!
The Age of Taurus
Alright, now we have to get into a lot of bull, the symbol of Taurus…….it would seem that around this time period, what we call “civilization” began. Keep in mind that the word “civilization” comes from the Latin civilis, which means “city”. The Stone Age has now officially ended and most nomadic tribal people had opted for the stability of farm life; Taurus is a fixed earth sign after all. Instead of having to roam around searching for food, developments allowed for the harvesting of food that could be stored for the needs of an entire year. The Earth/land became a symbol of fertility, and the archetypal feminine took on a more positive context within the collective consciousness of humanity.
The collective and individual focus shifted once the basic needs for sustenance had been conquered. Cities began to build in areas central to the wealth of the land and its capacity to provide abundantly. The Astrological Sign of Taurus is associated with agriculture, money, banking, real estate and property, and all matters dealing with ownership that provide permanence and security. Cities brought with them commerce, the division of labor, and their inhabitants began to live in stone or brick houses. The possessing of my land, my house, and my money became of primary importance. In that regard, we could say that the Age of Taurus became the Age of Attachment. Farmers joined other farmers; cities joined other cities, and from this came the organization of city-states. This in turn led to the first sense of nationalism. To weave in some of Taurus’ polarity, Scorpio – with nationalism was birthed a sense national power and the need to obtain more land (Taurus) and power (Scorpio) to maintain a sense of security - even if that meant killing (Scorpio) others to acquire more of both.
Inheritances were passed down matrilineally during this time. So, with a wife, a husband would gain money, belongings, and hopefully land. Of course this changed in the Judaic Age of Aries, but it’s also interesting to note that material inheritance itself (Taurus) became a consideration upon one’s death (Scorpio). During this time we also saw the birth of perhaps the oldest profession in the world in which money (Taurus) bought sex (Scorpio). On that note, the sign Taurus is ruled by the planet/Goddess Venus – which lends to the exploration of sensuality and beauty during this Age. Art was produced en masse as time was freed up to focus on aesthetic beauty that could enrich society.
And what showed up most frequently in the art of this period? Why the Bull, of course! When looking at the Astrological Ages as a whole, I feel that this was the first Age that humanity most pervasively and spontaneously depicted some form of the Bull in religious symbolism and art work. Perhaps the most affluent culture of this time period was Egypt’s, which was established during the Age of Gemini in its duality of Upper and Lower Egypt (symbolized by the two serpents on the “dual crown” of the Pharaohs).
They worshipped a number of bull deities, but the primary bullgod was Apis, who presided over the underworld (realm of Scorpio). Ra was the Bull of Heaven; Osiris was the Bull of Earth; Nut – Sky Goddess with cow’s ears; Hathor – Cow Goddess, crowned with horns; and Bulchis – the Bull of Thebes. In addition, Pharaohs carried the Ankh, which is associated with the symbol of Venus, the planetary ruler of Taurus. The Greeks had Poseidon, Bull of the Sea; Zeus, the Bull-ravisher of Europa who fled over the Taurus mountains; and,most notably, the Minotaur, which was the offspring of Poseidon’s white bull and Pasiphae, wife of King Minos on Crete.
Biblical scholars also generally agree that the earliest god of the Hebrews was also a bullgod: bull shrines existed at Bethel, Schechem, Shiloh, and Gilgal. As we know, this was to be replaced in the Age of Aries by Moses’ Ram-God Yahweh. In addition, bull worship was pervasive throughout most of Eurasia. Even China’s god of agriculture had a bull’s head! I could go on and on…from India (Parjanya, bullgod of the Vedas) to Mesopotamia (Enlil, bull god of Sumeria), but by now, I am sure you’ve had enough bull! Apparently, so had humanity by the end of this Age: as we shall see next, The Age of Aries brings with it the bull-slayer...
Age of Aries
(1800 B.C. - 360 AD)
The preceding Age of Taurus was a very matriarchal and feminine Age in which fertility cults flourished, humanity began to master agriculture and survival needs, freeing up time and energy to pursue beauty and the creation of cities and civilizations. Some form of Bull worship emerged throughout most of the cultures on the planet, and can be found in various mythologies. Slowly things begin to change, the Bull was slain, and a new archetypal symbol and pattern begins to surface: The Ram of Aries.
The Age of Aries was an Age of incredible change. Astrologically and archetypally, Aries has to do with the development of identity via the ego, the “I am” that each of us carries within. As we assess the changes that evolved during this Age, remember that whenever a new archetypal pattern begins to download into our planetary chakra system, it begins to transform us at a first chakra, tribal level first. So a new quest for individuality became urgent around 1800 BC, rendering humanity with the impulse to find a "tribal ego" in our first attempts to break free of the more "earthy" psychic fusion of the Age of Taurus.
To identify with a singular, tribal affiliation and enact this, humans had to first consolidate their gods. Out of this impulse, monotheism was born. We see a single, dominant god emerge in most cultures--a god usually associated in some way with the Sun--and a shifting of the collective from matriarchal to patriarchal orientation in regard to issues of power and daily life. Tribal egos were born, making war a major theme of this Age–Aries is ruled by Mars, God of war, after all. (Aggressive assertion of the will is often required to break free from the past and become an individual, so perhaps this was a necessary step forward in our overall collective evolution.)
Harnessing the will became a focal point of humanity’s evolution and during this Age the "warrior of individuation" was born through many myths of the Mortal Hero. The Mortal Hero takes it upon himself to individuate from the feminine pull of the Mother (Earth-Taurus) and venture out to discover his identity through trials of courage and ego development (all Aries themes!)
During this Age, the Greeks gave us the likes of Homer, Hesiod, and Aeschylus with their solar myths of individuation, filled with mortal heroes like Achilles, Hercules, Jason (who sought the Golden Fleece!), Theseus (a bona-fide bull-slayer!) and Odysseus. Let’s also not forget Alexander the Great who, inspired by Homer, conquered most of the known world during this Age and was an embodiment of Aries’ drive, ambition, courage, will to power, pioneering spirit, and mythic vision.
To reintroduce the concept that each Astrological Age also manifests its opposite zodiacal sign as a balance (and key to the evolutionary phase at hand) let’s look at this concept shown clearly by our next mortal hero, Moses.
Moses is a Mortal Hero who is highly symbolic of the ego itself. Like Moses, the ego can liberate us from enslavement--to our past and our unconscious fusion to the mass psyche. It can birth an identity that brings us to the very edge of the “Promised Land” of the soul. But at the end of the journey, the ego cannot enter this Promised Land (a hint at the next Age, Pisces.) The Soul can indeed enter the ego, (a hint at the Age of Aquarius) and therein we find both the limitations, and ultimate fulfillment of ego development.
Still, Moses did much more than just liberate his people from Egypt. Like Alexander the Great, in his heroic quest, Moses was the Aries’ epitome of courage, loyalty, vision, determination, leadership, and faith in his unseen one god: Yahweh (Self). In condemning the worship of the golden calf (Taurus), he symbolically declared a new age had begun. An age that needed something to guide human ego development, something besides aggression and war – in which he gave the balance and polar opposite to Aries, the Libran law of the Ten Commandments. Interestingly, Moses also gave instructions in the building of the Ark of the Covenant that included a covering for the tabernacle made of ram’s skin, and a new altar with four horns at its corners.
As the Age of Aries progressed, and ego development began to move from tribal to individual, people became more cognizant of their own power and capacity to "reason" that perhaps war and aggression weren’t the best ways to engage with the development of individual identity. After all, what good was establishing an identity (Aries) if we couldn't relate it to others (Libra) without getting killed! We were in dire need of the archetypal energy of Libra, which deals in part with relating peacefully in a spirit of equanimity with each other.
Around the globe, collective laws were created to ‘keep the peace’-- the Code of Hammurabi, the Twelve Tablets of Roman Law, the Edicts of Solon, the Analects of Confucius, and the Noble Eightfold Path of Gautama Buddha. These were first attempts at managing the chaos of ego development at an individual level and in their own ways they represent the “middle path” of balance and harmony that Libra is all about. As humanity struggled to establish laws that could regulate ego development and people became more ego-centric, they needed to establish meaningful relationships, not only with each other, but with the visible and invisible environment around them. This gave way to a need to understand purpose through the faculty of ‘reason’ and observation.
The Greeks led in all matters concerning the development of our western philosophy. Philosophical development, set in motion by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, was one of the greatest gifts of the Age of Aries and gave rise to the "masculine archetypal principle" of our psyches. Man was taking charge of his own destiny by trying to understand and master the alchemy of ego development through an exploration of the "rational mind," attempting in many ways to leave the "instincts" behind.
This empowered the individual such that we no longer solely relied on the accomplishments of kings and leaders. Now we had writers, lawyers, scientists, senators, historians, architects, astronomers, philosophers, and other men of reason to guide destiny.
Outside of Greek culture, other cultures around the world were also living out an Aries/Libra cultural ethos. Here’s a quick tour…
In Egypt, during the Age of Aries, the great god Aton and Amon-Ra were worshipped. At the Amon-Ra temple in Karnak still stands a colonnade of forty ram-headed sphinxes. The temple is constructed such that on March 21st the Sun, making its entrance into the sign of Aries at the Vernal Equinox, shines the length of the temple and falls on the statue of Amon-Ra (whose symbol was the ram). In Persia and India, Mithras the heroic bull-slayer became prominent. Mithras was depicted in statues as plunging a dagger into a bull (Taurus), while a scorpion bites the bull’s genitals (Scorpio). How nice is that! Mithras was part of a solar-based fire religion, of which all initiates were men (patriarchal.) This was called, “Mithraism” and lasted well into the Piscean Age, rivaling Christianity. Eventually, in the second and third centuries, Mithraism found its way into Rome and was very popular with the Roman legions. Similar religions formed during the Age of Aries that were also associated with the Arian masculine energy, fire, and light. Examples include: Zoroastrianism and Mazdaznan.
In addition, in India, Agni – god of fire – rode on a ram. From his name we derived the word “ignite”--a very Arian verb! We also derive agnus dei, which means "the lamb of God" (Jesus) who will be slain in the next Age: the Age of Pisces. And we should get moving in that direction...
The Age of Aries brought both the loss of power and prestige of the feminine, and the gain of conscious tribal and individual identity. We saw the brutality of war and conquest, and the development of philosophy and law. We witnessed the birth of a mythic model of individuation, and the price of separating ourselves from our instinctual depths.
The foundations of current Western Thought were laid during this Age as the last few hundred years of Aries brought us the great teachings of Lao Tzu, Confucius, Gautama Buddha, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, opening the door for a New Age to enter: the Age of Christos Consciousness/Pisces.
The Age of Pisces
(360 A.D. – 2400 A.D.)
The masculine provides skillful means;
The feminine provides wisdom.
Both come together in the enlightened being.
-Lama Tenzin Rimpoche
After two and a half thousand years of developing identity, monotheism, and the masculine heroic ego – a new impulse enters the collective psyche and begins constellate in the individual. With each Age shift a challenge arises that becomes a catalyst for the incoming Age and lays its foundation. Buddha came on the planet and began to lay the groundwork in the East. Five hundred years later, Jesus Christ did the same in the West. Their Age of Pisces teachings instructed that ego development wasn’t enough; the ego must be yoked to something greater through sacrifice and non-attachment. The Mortal Hero must now give up that which he fought so hard to obtain. Now, he can only be considered a hero if he sacrifices himself! Well, my friends, perhaps we can see now just why the teachings of Jesus and Buddha were so archetypally polarizing and heretical (in the case of Jesus) to the people of their times!
Polarity is at the very heart of the symbol of Pisces, which is two fishes swimming in opposite directions, yet fused together in union, such that they cannot release from each other. I have always thought this an apt symbol for this Age of Pisces we’re currently in and trying to integrate as it symbolizes the coming together of the mind (Aries’ reason and philosophy) and the heart (the compassion and forgiveness of Buddha and Christ.) Pisces also symbolizes the merging of the archetypal East and West, something that is still in process though it began hundreds of years ago, and over which wars are still being fought. But it hasn’t been all bad …
The merging of East and West has offered up a cross-pollination of philosophies, mystical traditions, and forms of government. We now have Taoism, Buddhism, Zen……and they have, well, McDonalds – oops! I meant democracy (in some countries), Western Philosophy and the teachings of Christ.
I do find it interesting, however, that many of the traditions we've exchanged carry much of the opposite sign of Pisces: Virgo. The East has given us spiritual models that connect us to our bodies (Virgo) such as Yoga, Acupuncture, Chakras, Martial Arts, Tantra, Tai Chi, and Reiki. The West, in turn, has given its own advances regarding the discriminating mind such as the Virgo gifts of psychoanalysis, rationalism, and science. We also have shared major advances in Western/allopathic medicine (Virgo) with the East.
The ‘merging of opposites’ pattern of the Age of Pisces goes much deeper than East and West, and whenever opposites are going to merge, their polarities and dichotomies will be starkly contrasted before a new level of integration can occur. Surely all you have to do is turn on the TV today to see this in action. We seem to need to establish just how different we are before we can perceive our similarities. This is blindingly evident in current polarization in the United States government with the partisanship and tension between Democrats and Republicans.
That said, I think it's more important to address the ways in which Piscean teachings are being interpreted today, as I feel this is the source of many of today’s moral, political, religious, national and global issues.
Jesus Christ taught new laws to govern our development as human beings and at the heart of his teachings was the idea that we should seek to love each other transpersonally. We should love our enemy, and turn the other cheek, he taught, because all is, indeed, one (a Piscean theme) and our enemy is simply a mirror of ourselves. To hate someone else, then, is to hate yourself.
In the East, this transpersonal love can be expressed through ahimsa (non-violence). In many ways Buddhism came as a reform and extension of Hinduism, in much the same way that the teachings of the New Testament were to reform and extend the Old Testament. Rather than denying either of these teachings, The Koran is a crowning of both, according to true Islam.
In the West, Christianity is the most culturally influential religious tradition and its influence goes deeper than we can imagine. A "free radical" that has been released into our collective consciousness and finds its place strongly in both Islam and Christianity is fundamentalism, which is essentially interpreting the Piscean teachings of both traditions in an ‘Age of Aries’ way. (Similarly, I've observed many people interpret Aquarian truths in an ‘Age of Pisces’ way!)
For example, I find it interesting that many fundamentalist Christians claim to be followers of Jesus–the great teacher of forgiveness and compassion, but find it more productive to judge, condemn, and try to convert others. We've all heard of fundamentalist groups who find it more productive to condemn abortion rather than to promote the adoption of unwanted children. If fundamentalist Christians really lived the words of Christ and opened to connecting with their hearts in a spirit of compassionate and non-judgmental service to others (without trying to convert anyone) and if fundamentalist Islamist didn’t want to kill infidels, but rather wanted to live true to the codes of the Koran, imagine the Piscean impact that would have on the world's homeless children--to say nothing of its impact on the Middle East!
Unfortunately, it seems that fundamentalist Christians and Muslims today are still in allegiance to the judging and wrathful Arian versions of their gods. Many Christians today still pray to Yahweh of the Old Testament, not the Abba of Christ. But this isn’t completely their fault. The medieval papacy was quite corrupt and convinced its followers that they needed the church (Ego) for salvation--even though Christ taught that all one needed was the inner church (Soul.)
This brings up an amazing experience I had with an elder Lakota Indian when I was in college who, having been beaten by nuns in boarding school for speaking Lakota (in efforts to assimilate him into Christian culture,) told me, “I have learned that fundamentalist religions (Aries) are for people who are afraid they are going to go to hell, and spirituality (Pisces) is for people who have already been there.” I will never forget his words. He had truly lived it and he had an amazing Spirit.
All of this underscores the major struggles of our current Age of Pisces. We can’t honor the truth that “All is one” if we don't form a proper relationship between the Ego and the Soul. The Ego will only see the illusory separation between us! The Piscean keys to the relationship of Ego and Soul are found in forgiveness, compassion, and non-judgment. But how does one cultivate such virtues? In part, we must embark into the unknown territory of our own shadow, the realm of the mystic.
Indeed, Pisces is the Age when the Mystic and Messiah archetype constellated in our world as Jesus showed us the Pisces path of Ego-Soul union through the archetypal experience of crucifixion (West) and Buddha showed it through the mastery of the mind through non-attachment (East.) As our allegiance to our Ego is crucified, and we engender forgiveness, compassion and non-judgment, we midwife a new cosmic cycle of co-creation.
Two thousand years ago, with the Age of Pisces, this new cosmic cycle did indeed initiate -- for in "The Great Year" which lasts 26,000 years and encompasses all the Astrological Ages, Pisces is the beginning of the Ages as they run in reverse order. Such a shift is so enormous in scope and hasn’t happened for 26,000 years; no wonder we all feel the psychic tension and are experiencing such major evolutionary transformation!
Though this cycle began with iconic teachers such as Buddha, Christ, and Mohammad-each of whom brought his own Piscean themes and archetypes–at this stage I'd like to skip ahead to where we are now and have been for about 300 years.
The Piscean symbol of the fish, which initially surfaced in many cultures when the Age began, has been fading. A new pattern is constellating and a new archetypal pattern is in ascendancy, forcing the collective to finish unfinished business, while the Mystic is now being forced to leave the monastery!
Personally, I feel the interface between the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius began with the discovery of the planet Uranus and that which Uranus rules: electricity. Both of which occurred within 30 years of each other during the 18th century, revolutionizing our concepts of the universe and our way of life. Though for the past few centuries, the pendulum has swung between periods of romanticism/fanaticism (Pisces) and scientific rationalism (Virgo)–the tensions of opposites came to a breaking point shortly after we entered the nuclear age in 1930. When the United States exercised the nuclear option in WWII, the pendulum suddenly stopped, and the world was changed forever as we collectively realized that, with the forces we'd unleashed, we could now devastate our planetary existence. Global cooperation became urgent (an Aquarian theme.) But true cooperation had to include the recognition of each country’s own sovereignty (a Leo theme, Aquarius’ opposite!)
A new focus developed on the individual self. And around 1960, the rise of social activism (Aquarius) ushered in: the struggle for equal rights and free expression of the individual (Leo,) the concept of "universal love" (Pisces,) and, its opposite, the duty of military service (Virgo.) Then, in the late 1970s, things took on a more serious tone with the advent of psychotherapy. Now we could identify and name our wounds; which birthed a new pattern into the collective.
In tandem with all of this, in 1977 a new planetary body was discovered in our solar system (orbiting between Saturn and Uranus) that, in synchronicity, was named Chiron. Chiron represents a large grace afforded to us by the gods, as the new archetype emerging into the cultural ethos to help ‘bridge’ the interface of Ages Pisces and Aquarius, something to mediate the tensions of transition--the archetype of the Wounded Healer.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which
the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink
his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard,
is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen.
-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Chiron in mythology was a centaur who’s entrance into this world encompasses the Orphaned Child archetype. Chronos, his father, mated with his mother, Philyra, on an impulsive whim of attraction. Philyra was no dummy and had heard about Chronos’ tyrannical methods of eating his own children to stay in power (as it was prophesized to him that he’d be overthrown by one of his own progeny). So when his lustful gaze came her way, she changed herself into a horse, to try and trick Chronos, and fled. Well now, Chronos tricked her right back changing himself into a horse and caught up with her. They got their groove on, and nine months later, out pops our little Chiron, half horse, half man!
But he was not just half animal, half human – he was in fact half mortal, half immortal (he is both/and – not either/or – a key part of his archetypal pattern). Philyra is horrified and begs the gods to release her from the burden of raising such a child; they oblige turning her into a linden tree! Meanwhile, Chronos doesn’t even know about his little Chiron, and is inevitably overthrown by Zeus, his son that Rhea saved from being eaten, and sent to the Underworld……damn those prophesies!
The bottom line is that Chiron is abandoned and orphaned. Apollo (god of healing, music, divination, intuitive arts, beauty, and philosophy) finds Chiron and adopts him as his own son; teaching him his skills. Yet Chiron is wounded from the beginning…by abandonment/being orphaned, and being ‘in between worlds’. He is further wounded from a stray poisoned arrow, shot by Hercules, which pierces one of his four legs (mortal/animal part of himself).
He cannot die, however, because the immortal upper part of him won’t allow it. So he goes out in search of how to heal himself (his mortal/animal half), and though he is never successful in his quest, he heals many others that cross his path. Eventually, he decides to surrender and accept his incurable woundedness, and makes a deal with Zeus to give up his immortality and die to the Underworld so he can be released from his wound. After nine days, Zeus was so moved by his act of acceptance, he completely immortalizes him as the constellation Centaurus/ Sagittarius.
So what does all this mean to our transitioning from the Age of Pisces to Aquarius? So much I could write a book! In brief, however, it points to a new process that we must embark on as part of our own task of individuation, which includes moving beyond victim consciousness by using our ‘wounds’ as catalysts towards a greater consciousness.
Chiron didn’t sit around and whine about his horrific childhood and arrow wounding. He got off his ass and searched out how to heal himself! Only to find that true healing could only be found in surrendering to and accepting the wounds, which then led him to ‘death’ and rebirth into eternal life (sound familiar?). Chiron, I believe, is the archetypal follow-up to our evolution regarding the Messiah and Mystic Archetypes.
Interestingly, in our new age culture, many people, who awaken this pattern in themselves, mistake this process of development and individuation to mean that their life’s purpose is bound to being a ‘healer’. When if fact, this is now just another aspect of how we now can incarnate our soul. As that Zen saying goes, “Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water!”
What this new archetype ultimately shows us is that, to incarnate your soul level of consciousness, you must be able to live within the paradoxes of life in an empowered way: another part of Chiron’s pattern. Yes, you are both mortal and immortal, energy and matter, spiritual and physical, good and evil, right and wrong, flawed and flawless, love and hate, compassionate and judgmental, etc. Can you live with that??
If you can, then you are a prime candidate for the Age of Aquarius in which we shall see the ‘second coming of Christ’ – not as some literal rebirth or visitation from heaven – but as the Christos Consciousness birthing in each of us! Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!! So what about this ‘New Age’?
The Age of Aquarius
(2400 A.D. – 4600 A.D.)
For those of us who find solace in New Ageism, I feel it’s a good idea to look at what this new age is and what is isn’t by addressing the term ‘new age’ itself. This idea of entering into a new age is actually a by-product of Theosophy, which was a spiritualist movement founded by Helena Blavatsky in 1875. Theosophy was an attempt to bring together the mystical/esoteric traditions of Europe and Asia, based on the premise that there is a common truth in all religions. Theosophy formed around the belief that we were embarking on a ‘new age’ of spiritual consciousness and evolution, an age even more spiritual than the Age of Pisces, which would see the birth of a great world teacher.
If we look deeper we begin to see that this sounds a lot like other ideologies and religions that we’ve seen come and go in the past 2,000 years, such as: Christianity, Islam, Fascism, and Marxism. What they all have in common is a belief in a ‘golden age’ to come, but first we must be ‘cleansed’ or saved before we are ready to enter that new age – which is to be founded by a great leader/teacher/messiah. I find it fascinating that many people begin vegetarian diets and embark upon ‘new age’ lifestyles with the same dogma and fervor that Hitler inspired in the German people through Fascism.
We must always be mindful of how evolution occurs within a cultural context – and how impactful culture is on us. This pattern of ‘new ageism’ is itself product of the Age of Pisces, which represents our interpretation of new archetypal Aquarian energy via the Piscean Age. I often wonder if maybe we’d do better to do away with this ‘new age’ label altogether and start over!!
That said, I don’t believe the Age of Aquarius to be an upcoming utopia or golden age on earth. It is an age of globalization that will forever shift the way we view nationalism and tribalism – you can already see this happening. We are struggling to become ‘citizens of the world’, not just Americans, French, or Chinese.
I am sure there will still be people struggling with Ego/Soul issue 400 years from now…and perhaps countries still at war, as we must remember that each of us as human beings is in a different stage of spiritual evolution on the same planet. But the Age of Aquarius does hold the promise of a dominant world view in which the individual is allowed his/her freedom to actualize as an independently liberated being (Leo), yet still participate in group life in the spirit of altruism and humanitarianism (Aquarius).
I do believe our intuitive abilities and multi-sensory evolution will increase such that we honor the world of energy and spirit far more than the dogma of religion and politics. And most importantly instead of a world leader, master teacher, or messiah; we’ll finally realize that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
In closing, I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the Astrological Ages and that it has stimulated much thought for you. I am deeply indebted to Alice O. Howell who wrote a wonderful book that served as an invaluable resource in the writing of this article titled Jungian Synchronicity in Astrological Signs and Ages. I recommend you read it if you are interested in exploring this subject in depth from another perspective!
In later articles and newsletters I will no doubt be exploring new evolutionary themes regarding the Age of Aquarius. For now, be the one you’ve been waiting for!
Jungian Synchronicity in Astrological Ages. Alice O. Howell. 1990. Theosophical Publishing House. p.146
Ibid. p. 132
Ibid. p. 142
Ibid. p. 197