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’?