By Doug Egan
The great ages, as they are known in astrology, are the product of a
slowly moving wobble in the earth’s axial rotation.
This wobble takes approximately 25,920 years to make a full circle, and results in a particular zodiacal constellation appearing over the eastern horizon during the vernal (spring) equinox for about 2,160 year periods. These are not exact, however. They are important astrologically on a global and humanity-wide basis.
Because every 72 years there is a change of 1 degree, this cycle was visible and known to the ancients. The zodiacal divisions, or Ages, move slowly “backwards” through the zodiac, with the result that we are currently transitioning from the Piscean Age to the Aquarian Age. The question is, when does this take place? Although this subject has captured the public imagination, it retains a lot of mystery, and remains confusing.
There are various schools of thought as to how much “bleed” or blend one might give the signs or houses as they move across the cusps from one to the next. In terms of the natal horoscope, this can engender debate: if one is 29 degrees and 59 minutes of Aquarius, how much Pisces influence is there? The answer is, no one knows. Some astrologers have very strong opinions based on what they’ve seen in their personal research, but another might contradict the first, and state that they have found the opposite to be true. So, like many things in astrology, this falls into a rather subjectively interpreted category.
Unlike natal astrology, however, most in the astrology world would agree that the Great Ages have a significant amount of bleed-over from one Age to the next. We are not one year in the Age of Pisces and the next year in the Age of Aquarius. This is congruent with the constellations themselves up in the sky, which have no fixed lines drawn that we can see, but have very indistinct edges, and actually overlap at times. Like most things in astrology, the determination of the influences of the Ages boils down to a simple “it works.” So the question is: where does one Age end and another begin? Should we attempt to pick a sort of “midpoint” of waning and waxing influences, or just accept that there are transition zones and leave it at that?
It’s a subject that has been exhaustively written about by many astrologers. And Carl Jung discussed the Ages in his book Aion. In fact, one could argue that Jung’s examination of the symbolism of the Age of Pisces in this book is actually what brought the subject to the attention of many astrologers of his generation.
Most agree that the general character of each Age corresponds with the attending sidereal zodiac constellation: for example, over the last several thousand years, the Cancerian age was associated with the development of agriculture, mother goddesses, and the settling down of people into fixed homes; the Age of Gemini was associated with the advancement of language, communication, and the birth of writing; the Taurean Age had massive building projects such as the Egyptian pyramids, in addition to extensive bull worship and imagery in various cultures; and the Age of Aries coincided with the Iron Age: no fitter image occurs for the Age of Aries than that of the Roman Legions, although they took power just as the age was waning.
Aries is not just a warrior, however, but also a trailblazer and thinker, and the Age of Aries also contained what Karl Jaspers has called the “Axial Period” from about 800 to 200 BC, during which there was an explosion of religion, philosophy, and science throughout the world, including (most notably for Westerners) the Greeks, and their strivings for intellectual advancement.
Unknown in the modern world, examination of the natural world (later known as science) coexisted fully and peacefully with philosophy. It was, in addition to the Greek philosophers, the age of Buddha, Lao-Tse, Confucius, and the Old Testament prophets; in India, the Upanishads, the cornerstone of Eastern philosophy, were finally being written down. The ancient Hindus, as well as the Hebrews, blew a ram’s horn to call the faithful. It was a time of travel, exploration, and trade; and in examining the ideas of the Greeks side by side with those of the Indians, one becomes suspicious that ideas travelled the world a bit more freely than we are normally taught to think.
So almost everyone in astrology seems to agree that the Ages make sense, and it’s fairly easy to out pick the point at which the Roman Legions of Aries gave way to Piscean Christianity (in the West) with its fish imagery, and the emotion-over-logic, religion-over-knowledge paradigm that ushered in the “Dark Ages” of Europe. But since we are enmeshed in the transition, who is to determine where the point should be placed as to where the vaunted Age of Aquarius will finally subsume and supplant the Age of Pisces?
Quite a few astrologers search the horizon for the Age of Aquarius as if it were difficult to find. Some, using various calculation methods, have put the ingress as far ahead as 2150 or later. However, a case may be made here to do a simple weather check. That is, if the weather forecaster on TV is telling you that it is sunny, but you look outside and it is pouring down rain, it’s probably more appropriate to go with the rain. Regarding the Age of Aquarius: perhaps we are already in it.
The planet Uranus was discovered by William Herschel on March 13, 1781; the date perhaps serving as symbolism that the Age of Pisces had just received notice. Sun in Pisces was in square to Uranus in Gemini, which opposed a conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius, pointed at the galactic center. The discovery, and its surrounding period, was bookended by two conjunctions of Uranus and Jupiter in 1775 and 1789. Uranus immediately staked its claim for being new and unusual, exhibiting itself as the only planet with a lateral rather than a vertical axis (spinning on its side, so to speak), and also rotating “backwards” compared to all other planets except Venus. The discovery itself threw the astronomical world, as well as the astrological community, into a frenzy: the Cosmos had been considered perfect and complete, and during the entire history of humanity, the planets through Saturn were thought to have constituted the entire solar system. Quite an unexpected and sudden shock!
But in addition to this surprising discovery, it was an exciting and revolutionary time in general. It was the Age of Enlightenment, as well as the beginnings of what is now called the Scientific Revolution. This period was presaged and contributed to by Sir Isaac Newton’s amazing understanding of motion, including orbital mechanics. Rene Descartes famously stated “I think, therefore I am,” and the focus slipped away from dark superstition and blind belief towards the rapidly-blooming accomplishments of Man, his mind, and his societies. What is known today as “secular humanism” was being born. Religion was losing some of its grip and authority on at least the more educated classes.
Also being born at this time was what has been called, with apologies to other countries, the “world’s greatest democracy”—The United States of America. The American Revolution started in 1775, followed by a formal Declaration of Independence in 1776. The French Revolution followed a few years later, and the template was set for many other countries to follow, around the world. Humanity was moving towards an awareness of, and more power and respect for, the masses, the people.
The First American
One of those people was Benjamin Franklin, often nicknamed “The First American” for his contributions to these efforts, as well as for his amazing accomplishments in almost any field one could choose to name: politics, diplomacy, writing, creating a Post Office, inventions, university founding, abolitionism; oh, and science. Let’s talk about science.
Although interested in many areas of science, it was Franklin’s well-publicized experiments with, and ideas about, electricity which eventually brought him fame in the scientific realm. Franklin’s dramatic experiments with lightning boosted growing interest in the subject, and finally put electricity into the public mind as an object of endless fascination, as well as spurring more scientific research and knowledge about this “new” phenomenon. Many have heard of his kite experiments, and that he invented the lightning rod, but don’t know that it was actually Franklin who came up with the idea for positive and negative charges in electricity, a significant move forward in the accumulating insights. He was quite a guy. He didn’t “discover” electricity, but he popularized it and moved it along in the period of time leading up to the discovery of Uranus.
So, to recap: amongst other things that are easily researched, we very visibly have, within a short window: the discovery of Uranus, the Aquarian planet; the founding of the best known democracy in world history; the age of Enlightenment, science and humanism; and the popularization of a previously (nearly) unknown new force, electricity. These certainly would seem to give hints as to when the Age of Aquarius first began making itself felt. And yet…
One reason that people are reluctant to look at our current time as being the Age of Aquarius is that there are expectations among many that the Age of Aquarius will be some sort of magical time when everything will be peace and love, and everyone will live together in enlightenment, harmony and bliss. (That hasn’t happened in 300,000 years of modern human history, but hope springs eternal.) All of our problems on earth will be solved humanistically, and simply vanish. In the Age of Pisces it was heaven that we longed for. Here, we are merely switching up our projected dreams. Humans have always longed for paradise, but we’re always stuck with what we’ve got. Damn!
The Age of Pisces did not consist solely of deep spirituality and selfless service; it contained fear and intolerance and prejudice based on emotion. Similarly, the Age of Aquarius is not likely to consist solely of intelligence, science, noble humanitarianism, and positive revolutions. It’s also likely to contain to one degree or another dysfunctional unpredictability, stubbornness, rebelliousness, and shallow social superficiality. Been on Facebook or Twitter recently? What we’re really likely to see over the next 2,000 years is the Age of Aquarius, Warts and All. It’s true that as humans we are evolving in our consciousness. That’s an optimistic point to hang on to. But how much are we evolving, how many of us, really, and how fast? It would seem that we are about to find out. Hopefully, it’s a lot.
It also bears keeping in mind that each Age is not purely of the sign associated with it: in the Pisces Age, science, commerce, exploration, and the rest of the twelve archetypes continued to be present. But the overall tone was Piscean. In the Age of Aquarius, religion and spirituality will not vanish: they will just take a back seat to humanism. All twelve archetypes will still be present: our world is made of them – how could they not be present? And yet, the tone will change.
The Age of Aquarius
According to basic astrology textbooks, Aquarius/Uranus is associated with independence, science, electricity, astrology, sudden insights, humanism, eccentricities, and freedom of both thought and movement. Hmm. As I write this, I am syncing my new smart phone to my computer. Using this small device, an astrology program will instantly generate an electronic horoscope chart for any moment that I desire. I can read the latest research on quantum mechanics, and even watch videos explaining those difficult ideas.
However, at the same time, in the news on my phone are stories of various backward-looking religious fundamentalist groups around the world attempting to drag humanity back to a medieval age and sensibility, replete with beheadings, but without the positive aspects of the Age of Pisces. One may easily see this as the last desperate gasps (and the most dysfunctional ones at that) of a 2,000 year old paradigm that is dying.
Transitions are always difficult, and many fear the future, but we will not go back. We have put men on the moon. We have decoded the human genome. My new phone has 2 billion transistors packed into a few ounce package the size of my palm that connects me instantly with any other human on the planet who holds a similar device. We connect through geosynchronous orbiting satellites which are continually and automatically adjusted for variations predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity. No, we will not go backwards: the Age of Aquarius is here.
About the author