No song captures more the popular conception of the “Aquarian Age” as Fifth Dimension’s runaway hit from the musical “Hair,” Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.” For those who might be a bit fuzzy on their Broadway musicals, here are the actual lyrics:
When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
It makes for an entertaining song and a catchy tune for TV commercials, but the astrology in this song is beyond bad. First, the moon goes into the 7th house of a day’s chart for about two hours every single day…without fail. Second, I’m not sure what it means for Jupiter to be “aligned” with Mars as there several different kinds of “alignments,” but it happens many times a year. So this song doesn’t give us any real clues about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
Okay, so a Broadway show might stoop to such silliness as having a song that gives an impression about the Aquarius Age based on…nothing. Alas, there are other sources that make similar claims about the Aquaboogie’s Age, sometimes without any astrological evidence at all. (At least the song did better!)
Take this paragraph about the coming Aquarius Age from now a defunct site www.aquariuswater.org. Now mind you, they once sold expensive bottled water at this site and the copy may not have been written by an astrologer, but, again, we’re talking about common conceptions of the Aquarius age:
“Aquarius is the age of self-realization (Kundalini Awakening). Aquarius is the true age of knowledge. In this age, dogmatic types of religion will cease to be taught, and all dogmatic forms will disappear. Science and religion will merge and people will begin to comprehend that spirit and matter are derived from the same source, and are only modifications of the One Universal Energy. It is the desire to pool and merge the time, efforts, and resources of the individual with those of the larger society in order to create something new for the benefit of everyone. Enhancement of the polity overwhelms the desire for self-aggrandizement, and the wall of Ego come tumbling down and the individual communes with the totality of the species.”
So far, popular conceptions of the Aquarius Age seem to ensure more peace, understanding, freedom, cooperation, and egolessness. It sounds awesome; but if it also sounds too good to be true, then you’re probably more on the right track. It seems odd that human beings would have endured all these other “documented” ages, from the Leo Age (about 12,000 years ago) to this one, the Piscean Age, and yet each one has brought more war and other nasty things from Pandora’s Box. Why and how is the next age going to be any different? Well, it will be different, but, perhaps, not along the lines we’ve been made to believe. But before we get hip deep into my own vision of the Waterman’s grand epoch and flow, what is meant by the age of a particular sign anyway?
The Great Year
The Great Year is just another way to measure “astrological” time, but on a much longer scale: 25, 920 years. In a regular year, the length of time that a “sign” is on the horizon point is about a month. In the Great Year, it’s about 2160 years. Right now, we are in the last 6 degrees of the Piscean Age. However, the Earth takes about 72 years to go through one degree, so we won’t be into the Age of Aquarius until sometime in the 25th century.
You might have noticed that the motion of the astrological ages is exactly OPPOSITE to how “regular” time and signs move. Our observation is that Aquarius moves into Pisces. The difference is prompted by the Earth’s rotation on its axis. As an elliptical object, rather than a perfect sphere, the Earth spins at an angle, causing it to wobble. This wobble means that when the Earth revolves around the Sun every year, it won’t always be facing the star constellation behind the Sun at the same point. In fact, as the Earth wobbles and rotates, its “face” moves westward, Aries to Pisces, although we experience the signs, in regular time, moving eastward, Pisces to Aries.
During this whole movement, the key point we watch is the Vernal equinox, when the Sun “appears” at our Equator in the sign of Aries. It’s when the Earth’s “face” is lined up with a particular constellation and sign at spring time, the beginning of the Zodiacal year. (Not in January at the start of the calendrical year). But the truth of the matter is that the Sun hasn’t appeared in the constellation of Aries at spring in nearly 2000 years. It’s been in Pisces. So, at the exact moment that spring begins, the Sun is in the sign of Aries, but it is at about 6 degrees of the constellation of Pisces. When the Earth begins spring in the northern hemisphere and is also at 29 59’ of Aquarius, then we’re at the start of the Aquarian age. (Note: the ages move backward in time from 29 to 0 degrees.) To be clear, the signs are not the same as the constellations; they share the same names, but represent different “places” in space. This is a big thorny issue between astrologers. Some astrologers go by the actual positions of the constellations and some go by the imagined stationary place of the signs, which most of us use. Who’s right? I say both, but that’s a different article. What’s important to know is that we are, in fact, at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. The song got that much right. However, by astronomical calculations, if dawn is at 6 am, then it’s about 5 am. We’re close, but it’s still kind of dark.
The Twilight of the Age of Pisces
With some 500 years left of the age of Pisces, we will still have to grapple with some of its fundamental lessons. The clearest ideas conveyed, developed and often brutally honed during the age of Pisces are religion and reason. In no other age of human history had faith, for instance, risen to the large scale as it has in this age. In fact, it has been the meteoric rise of one religion, Christianity, that most characterizes this age. In fact, one of Christianity’s key symbols, even before the cross, has been the fish. However, the idea of “reason” surfaced in Europe in the Age of Enlightenment as a knee-jerk reaction to zealous, unreflective belief. This manifests Pisces’s polarity, Virgo. Virgo as an Earth sign is about using order, reason, service and structure for engaging reality. In contrast, Pisces is about losing boundaries in belief and imagination. Some of the good that came out of this age has been that human beings lost our collective boundaries with the sea and land, using reason but fueled by belief and watery desire. We have created worlds of imagination in books and our advances in technology. However, the enslavement and wholesale murder of millions of people and the equally brutal collapsing of national boundaries for colonization are a few of the negative manifestations of the Pisces-Virgo age.
In the Piscean age, the key question was, “What do you believe?”
In the Aquarian age, the question will be, “How are we connected?”
And now, in the early part of the 21st century, we find ourselves still wrestling with reason versus religion. People have lost their boundaries in faith so much that they’re willing to kill themselves (ultimate individual dissolution) to kill thousands of people, if they can. Or many choose to believe in nothing and marvel at feeling so empty. We also have more opportunities to lose ourselves in worlds of imagination, through video, DVDs, cable, mp3 players, cinema, novels, portable games, etc, than at anytime in human history. However, these things aren’t enough. There is yet another collective way that many seek to fulfill the ultimate Piscean vision of dissolution: the idea of the apocalypse—universal destruction.
The Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers grew up with the idea that the world could end in a great conflagration of nuclear fire. As the USSR collapsed, those fears were transformed into Y2K, the idea that all our modern civilization will come to a standstill on 1/1/2000 because of a computer programming glitch. Nothing happened, obviously. Then our popular imaginations resurfaced Biblical apocalypse with the runaway hits of the “Left Behind” novels. We also made a slew of movies on the end of the world. When the biblical vision of apocalypse became too much, then our apocalyptic imaginations were captured by ecological disasters fueling our fears. And since 9/11/2001, many live with an apocalypse fueled by terrorist ire. But all our fears for the end of the world could be nothing more than the fear of the end of an age, the Piscean age. Of course, we could be putting ourselves in tremendous danger by abusing some of the “fruits” of this age, but focusing on our own ruin won’t keep the Pisces age around any longer. We’ll still have to wait another 25,000 years before we see it again. In the interim, Aquarius looms on the horizon.
What are we likely to expect during the Age of Aquarius?
If Pisces can be described as the age of revelation versus reason, then the Aquarius age will be the age of collective integrity versus individual dignity. In the Piscean Age, we looked to have our minds and souls revealed to us, either through our imaginations or interpretations of Divinity. Reason was the counterfoil to that impulse. In the Aquarian Age, I believe we will strive more to condition our minds to be better integrated into the collective. In the Piscean age, the key question was, “What do you believe?” In the Aquarian age, the question will be, “How are we connected?” Considering we’re already at the dawn of the Aquarius age, it’s not surprising to see that this is already happening, in subtle and not so subtle ways. This contrast was made clear to me while I traveled through parts of Europe and North Africa in 2001, “the Old World,” a month before 9/11.
Of course, modernity has crept into almost every nook and cranny of human life everywhere, but as I walked through parts of the “Old World,” I would imagine what Europeans and Africans of old saw around them on a daily basis. The cathedrals, mosques and palaces were definitely the main attractions of recent antiquity and their architecture focused on religious themes and geometrical designs meant to stimulate higher consciousness and awe. Although most people lived humble lives, the imagery around them was made to be sublime enough to compel them to contemplate the heavens and the after-life, regardless of whether it would be better for them or not. In contrast, in modern life, we are bombarded with advertising images that constantly compel us to evaluate our social standing and our connections to others. We’re not necessarily propelled to the heavens by our daily images as much as to the store. We are never quite good enough as we are. It is true that in the “old world” we had those who told us that God said we weren’t good enough. However, now it’s some copywriter or witty graphic artist working on behalf of a huge unseen conglomerate that tells us we aren’t good enough. A very striking contrast.
This has even more serious implications as we are even more connected and in more ways. Ask people in an urban setting how they are connected and they may not even be able to think about all the ways they’re on the hook-up: cable television, cell phones (and some people have two), land line telephone, electricity, gas, wi-fi internet service, boost mobile, myspace.com, match.com, ipod, ps2, etc. To be sure, our technology and gadgets may highlight what’s truly bound to happen at more profound levels in the Aquarian age rather than being the source of what’s happening. They presage our growing interest in having the ability to craft how we are connected (or not) from the molecular level to outer space. This sounds great, but the foil, manifested through the sign of Leo, reveals the nightmare.
In an age where we are becoming more and more connected, there will be less room to fully detach. Likewise, if you’re not on the “grid” somehow, you’re not likely to be perceived as someone worth even acknowledging. In the Piscean age, if you didn’t believe in a particular thing, you were an infidel, sinner or just a heathen. However, in the Aquarian age, if you are not connected, you will cease to exist. In fact, you’re less than zero. If you don’t believe that, then ask an adult who attempts to socially advance in the U.S. without a social security number. It’s not impossible, but it’s really difficult as that person’s not “connected.” This brings us back to a person having inherent dignity for just being a person. The counterpoint to Aquarius, Leo, will stress human rights and the right for people to be themselves, be off the grid. In the future, the struggle will be for raw individual dignity and expression versus the beauty and majesty of collective’s network. Let’s hope “resistance” is not futile.
Truth be, as Saturn is the traditional ruler of Aquarius, not Uranus, there is a tyrant in every batch of Aquarian zodiacal soup. (I bet you always wondered what really was in Aquarius’s pitcher!) There very well could be peace in the Age of Aquarius, but will it be a peace based on conformity? And as great as having a grand human network project sounds, will it feel good to have another person or set of entities, like a government, watch your every move, even if in the spirit of protection? Will modern marketing’s ideology that everyone can be segmented into groups triumph over our traditional belief that we are individuals, with our own individual destinies?
These questions can be asked by us, but they will also be answered by generations to come. However, the one advantage we have over the Piscean age is that there are, at least, more people who understand the depth and issue of an astrological age. Nonetheless, if we squander that insight on empty and insanely optimistic descriptions of the coming Aquarian age, we will again find ourselves on the cusp of another age, thinking apocalyptic thoughts, like having our galactic federation of planetary networks dissolve or something like that and we’ll be no wiser for our troubles. My hope is that this long day of Aquarius dawns with insight and sets with understanding. As individuals working in our respective collectives we can ensure that much. Here’s my attempt. May the starwinds be at your back for all your endeavors.