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…