Friday, 7 September 2018

The Age of Aquarius

Do you remember how this used to be presented as a dawning new age of harmony and enlightenment for humanity? How we were moving forward into a bright future in which all men would be brothers, and spiritual benevolence would be everywhere? The idea never made much sense. Given how unenlightened we were at the time, such a radical transformation, even if initiated by rays of cosmic power beaming down onto the Earth, as was occasionally postulated, seemed very improbable. Furthermore, it was not in the tradition of any of the major religions, most of which seemed to anticipate a spiritual decadence at the end of the age, not the precise opposite to that.

The Age of Aquarius is supposed to start when the sun at the time of the vernal equinox moves out of the constellation of Pisces into that of Aquarius. This movement takes place because of the phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes which is caused by a shift in the orientation of the Earth's axis which completes a full revolution roughly every 26,000 years, during the course of which the sun in springtime moves through each one of the 12 constellations that lie along the ecliptic. So far, so astronomically good.

The problem is that no one knows where Pisces ends and Aquarius begins so a definite time for this transition cannot be pinned down. Never mind, the idea is that as the sun approaches Aquarius at the onset of spring in the northern hemisphere, the Aquarian influences will start to be registered by humanity. In fact, the discovery of the planet Uranus in the 1780s (though it had been observed before) is sometimes taken to be the beginning of Aquarian forces making an impact on the mind of humanity, and that time does coincide quite nicely with the Age of Enlightenment and the end of long established ways of being as new ideas erupted into human consciousness.

This brings us to what the Aquarian influence might entail. Aquarius is an air sign, concerned with thought, reason, democracy, freedom, humanitarianism but also rebellion. It is definitely a sign of the rational mind. Now, all these things have certainly become much more prominent in human consciousness over the last 250 years, and they are becoming ever more so. Aquarius rules things as disparate as electricity and computers, both of which could be taken as defining the modern age. It seems that there really is an Aquarian influence at work.

But wait a minute. These things aren't really spiritual, are they? They might represent a kind of progress on the purely human level but if it's spirituality you want then the Piscean influence, the one that is supposed to be fading out and is regarded as representative of old, unenlightened, passé ways of thinking, is actually a better bet. For Pisces is the sign at the end of the cycle of 12. It shows completion. It is concerned with compassion, intuition, imagination, wisdom, mysticism and the like. It has its negative side, of course, but so does Aquarius which can become cold, amoral, overly fixated on rational thought and dismissive of faith and intuition.

The point I am trying to make here is that there is nothing about Aquarius, as understood astrologically, that indicates any tendency to higher spiritual consciousness. Yes, it is more intellectually focussed than Pisces but there is not much faith or imagination or humility or love about it. In fact, it is the sign of the type who loves humanity but has no interest in individual human beings. A sign of abstract theory and dispassion rather than real feeling. To be sure, it strives to be fair but more because of logic than any real sense of heart. Pisces is a much more spiritually-oriented sign, and that is the one we are currently leaving.

Of course, evolution may well include a focus at different times on different aspects of the whole of the psyche. A focus on developing mind may be the current priority.  But this is by no means necessarily a spiritual thing and, in fact, is capable of a great deal of anti-spirituality if it is not done under the directing influence of a strong spiritual sensibility, but that is not a natural attribute of the Aquarian mentality. The advent of Aquarius, if a real thing, does not necessarily lead to a spiritually advanced society, as the dreams of a few 20th century mystics hoped to persuade us, and could well end in something very different. If the present is anything to go by, the latter scenario is more likely but it is a reckless person who thinks he can predict the future. Only God knows.

Disclaimer: I don't have any planets in either Pisces or Aquarius in my astrological chart.


Bruce Charlton said...

Very interesting! I have never read anything on these lines before; and had always presumed that Aquarius was at least 'artistic' but also emapthic/ intuitive/ spiritual. I wonder how this *spiritual* Age of Aquarius got going?

Your description of Aquarious rather reminds me of Rudolf Steiner's characterisation of Ahriman - the intelligent/ rationalist/ bureaucratic/ materialist aspect of 'the devil'.

An error, or deliberate disinformation perhaps? ...Given its apparent source in the sixties sexual revolution, and popularisation (...'dawning of the age of Aquarius'...)from the musical Hair. And then the (1980) Aquarian Conspiracy idea from Marylin Ferguson which launched New Age...

If any prediction has ever been refuted by events - then this one has.

Moonsphere said...

@William - Regarding the Pisces/Aquarius question - there has been some progress in that area of research. A quirk of fate meant that Ptolemy lived at a time when the Vernal point happened to coincide with the First Part of Aries. Ptolemy was well aware of the precession of the equinoxes but many (in the West) who came after him - took his statements at face value and continued to measure from the fixed point (Aries) rather than the moving point (Vernal Point). Over the centuries a 25 degree anomaly opened up that led to (some of) the uncertainty that you mention.

Another important factor is the difference between an "Astronomical Age" and a "Cultural Age". When the VP moves backwards into a new zodical sign - it takes time for that to impact the terrestial culture. Some say this timelag is approximately 15 degrees or approx 1200 years. That would push the start of the "Cultural Age" of Pisces forwards to around 1413 AD - the dawn of a very materially oriented phase of human culture.

The implication also is that the Cultural Aquarian Age lies even further in the future.

William Wildblood said...

This post was prompted by your recent one on astrology, Bruce. I was always dubious about the Aquarian higher consciousness theory which seemed to be prompted by channelled communications but had little support from scripture or tradition. It's a nice thought and in line with evolutionary theories (to an extent) but seemed to confuse spirituality with the higher consciousness of an LSD trip rather than loving God and seeking to serve goodness and truth.

As I say, Aquarius is an air sign which means it is mentally focussed. Some people might think that imagination belongs to it but I don't unless it is a pretty rationalistic sort of imagination but that is not real imagination in my book. Perhaps that explains the paucity of artistic inspiration these days. And if it's empathetic, it is so on a theoretical level rather than that of real feeling. Empathy is the reasonable thing to have for an Aquarian but it's not a true concern of the heart. That's the absolute type, of course, and no actual individual is completely one thing. We're all a mix. But if you are looking for an Aquarian influence to have an impact on people's capacity to love, you're looking in the wrong place.

No sign is qualitatively better than another. They all have their pros and cons. But Aquarius is certainly not spiritual by any normal understanding of that word. It is the sign of the laboratory scientist not the saint, rationalistic, free-thinking, slightly detached but not intuitive or particularly moved by beauty. That is much more Piscean, the sign we are leaving.

You can't rule out the possibility that Aquarius does have an evolutionary effect on human consciousness, making us less emotionally focussed and more rationally so. My point was that this is not necessarily spiritual. It may turn into that but there is no reason that it should.

How it got going is an interesting question. I think the idea of a New Age has been floating about at least since Theosophical days, and I wouldn’t specifically rule it out. I do believe that there is an historical curve to human civilization and that consciousness does not remain the same but evolves. But a sudden ‘quantum leap’ into higher consciousness? And at the present time, in our current state?

Basically the Aquarian enthusiasts were always more interested in the effects of spirituality (higher consciousness) than spirituality itself which I would boil down to love of God, and that’s why they were so easy to lead astray if that’s what happened. Their desire made them spiritually greedy.

William Wildblood said...

Well. Moonsphere, the other problem with the Age of Aquarius idea is, of course, that regular astrology is not based on the actual visible constellations themselves but on the 30 degree areas starting at the point of the vernal equinox. So astrological Aries is not the same as astronomical Aries. The Sun is always in Aries in spring, regardless of which actual constellation is its backdrop. You might say that normal astrology is solar system based with the constellations being just used as descriptive terms.

But then if you bring the notion of the solar vernal point moving into a real new constellation into the equation, you are conflating two different ways of looking at the universe which is confusing. More complications arise when you realise that the constellations are not actually real thins being only line of sight patterns. The stars in them are not associated at all.

The fact remains, however, that since the late 18th century humanity really does seem to have responded to influences traditionally associated with Aquarius.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

The symbolism of the transition from Pisces to Aquarius is that the water we fish have been swimming in is going to be poured out. I used to think it odd that Aquarius -- with "aqua" right there in the name! -- should be an air sign. But he doesn't represent water. He represents water being dumped out -- with air, of course, rushing in to fill the void.

Tobias said...

'The symbolism of the transition from Pisces to Aquarius is that the water we fish have been swimming in is going to be poured out. I used to think it odd that Aquarius -- with "aqua" right there in the name! -- should be an air sign. But he doesn't represent water. He represents water being dumped out -- with air, of course, rushing in to fill the void.'

Fish people - feelers - emotional types - spiritual types - will not be able to breathe in the cold, rational Aquarian immanent air of mind without heart, unless the lessons of Pisces, and the warm waters of emotionality are brought into the Aquarian hard mind to inform it, and fill it with the transcendent. Aquarius is not an 'instead of', or replacement of Pisces, but an 'as well as'. The age of Aquarius must incorporate the immediate past age of Pisces. If it doesn't, it becomes deadened to spirit, and becomes the servant of science and materiality without the proper grounding in God.


William Wildblood said...

I do believe there's something in it but I don't believe it's what it was thought to be in the New Age scenario which, let's face it, was just spiritual sensationalism.

William Wildblood said...

Quite right, Tobias, if the Aquarian influence is not tempered by a real spiritual understanding it will harden into materialism - just as it seems to be doing at the moment

Moonsphere said...

It is quite natural that there are voices of disagreement on this topic. Astrology is deeply divided on the question of Tropicalism vs Siderealism. Also there is the question over the characteristics of each zodiacal division.

What perhaps we all can agree upon is that humanity for the last several centuries has followed the path of materialism to a dangerous degree and that in this apparent renaissance within astrology we might find some impulse towards spiritual awakening.

Chiu ChunLing said...

This is rather interesting, particularly the part about the notion of "love of humanity" under Aquarius being more abstract than concrete, more concerned with the concept of 'humanity' than the lives of individual humans.

And clearly more prone to things like murdering the majority of actual humans and torturing the rest in order to 'improve humanity'.

It may be that only those born in this new age can really understand that reasoning. In the old age, that sort of thing was clearly motivated by hate and a desire for destruction.

William Wildblood said...

Actually Moonsphere I'm not sure I can entirely agree with that! Astrology is not really a spiritual science in my view. It's more a psychic science being perhaps a branch of occultism (using that word simply with the meaning of things hidden) so although it is not materialistic in the hard sense, it is not really spiritual either as is shown by the attitude of Christianity towards it. Christians may have over-reacted to the idea of the occult but they probably knew that it was, or could be, a distraction from making oneself right with God.

I am interested in astrology from a psychological perspective, but I don't really see it as contributing much to a real spiritual understanding.

Yes, CCL, I think we are seeing many of the negative aspects of Aquarius nowadays.

Moonsphere said...

Thanks William - I do agree that traditional astrology is a psychic science - that is, it has to do with the soul in a single incarnation. However Astrosophical work in recent decades is moving away from traditional geocentric analysis towards heliocentric charts. It is worth noting that in this area we are no longer concerned with terrestrial concepts such as houses and their manifold systems of division.

This is a step taken in relation to following the spirit not the soul. It has to do with research into reincarnation specifically. Very interesting work has been carried out by Robert Powell using the original reincarnation sequences offered to us by Rudolf Steiner in his seminal lecture series - "Karmic Relationships". These individuals are known to history and have accurate birth/death information.

Using these (trusted) examples it was found that Heliocentric charts can be used to link successive incarnations of a human spirit. On the basis of this work, certain tentative "Laws of Reincarnation" have even been put forward.

I believe that part of the spiritual awakening in the West is a growing belief in reincarnation. This is strongly resisted by most Christian Churches and yet one feels that it will play a central role in "re-spiritualising" Christianity as a whole, allowing the fullfillment of its long-term destiny.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Reincarnation does not resolve the issue of ultimate destiny which is the central focus of Christianity, it only defers the question.

Even if some people are reincarnated, this has no practical difference in what they ought to be doing prior to their final Judgment.

Interest in reincarnation is thus (entirely correctly) perceived as avoidance of the inevitable fact that eventually one must be resurrected to stand before God and account for how one has lived, whether many years (and many lives) or few.

I personally have no objection to dying a few more times if that's what this job takes, but it's not like I'm thrilled with the idea of having to do birth and childhood over. Still, if that's what it is, that's what it is.

Moonsphere said...

@Chiu ChunLing

On the face of it reincarnation would seem to offer very little for the Christian believer. But here is not the place for a lengthy exposition on why the time has come for the primary doctrine of the East to bring renewal to Christian faith.

It is my personal belief that while the deepest mysteries of God and human existence will remain veiled - some until the end of Time itself - there are others that over time, must become known and understood otherwise human spiritual evolution would grind to a halt. This second kind of mystery often appears to us as a paradox or a seemingly unanswerable question.

Here is a example to consider:

A person dies in infancy before there was any chance to commit sin. The standard Christian assumption would say that child would go to heaven for eternity. But for any thinking person that should lead to the unsettling thought that living beyond infancy actually puts our souls in peril.

I will confine myself to merely stating that Reincarnation allows us to begin to answer these types of question.

Andrew said...


I consider Neville Johnson a true modern-day Christian prophet. He's spoken of one visit to Heaven with the Lord he had where he saw thousands of children and young men (teens and early twenties) stream into Heaven through the gates. Neville could see that they were Middle Eastern and he asked the Lord what was happening. And the Lord told Neville they were Muslim and they had never had a real opportunity to hear the Gospel but that they were His children and that they were going to schools in Heaven to be taught about Jesus.

Neville's point was not only that God is a Good God and an incredibly merciful God but that the age of accountability is different for different cultures. God takes every individual's particular circumstances into consideration.

Also, there is a book Within Heaven's Gates from the late 19th century where the author, Rebecca Springer, writes about her visit to Heaven during a near-death experience towards the end of here life. In Chapter 4, after re-uniting with her father she writes:

At this moment a swift messenger approached my father and spoke a few low words.

"Yes, , I shall go at once," he replied, and, waiving his hand in adieu, departed with the angelic guide.

"Where do my father's duties mostly lie?" I asked my mother.

"He is called usually to those who enter life with little preparation--that which on earth we call death-bed repentance. You know what wonderful success he always had in winning souls to Christ; and these poor spirits need to be taught from the very beginning. The enter the spirit-life in its lowest phase, and it is your father's pleasant duty to lead them upward step by step. He is devoted to his work and greatly beloved by those he thus helps.
Page 28.

So here we see a vision of possible spiritual progress even after death in this life.

-Andrew E.