Embarking on a trip into the Astrological Ages will take us back in time thousands of years, from there to present time, and then forward into the future. On this voyage we will not only be looking at many of the literal events that have formed civilization as we know it but, more importantly, their symbolic import. Seems to me we could all use a good dose of symbolic insight these days with the world we are now living in, no? As I often teach, archetypal perception provides the alchemy that can change your life, which means it can change the world. Carl Jung warned us: when we cease to live the symbolic life, we cease to partake in the life of the gods (the divine and universal processes that are the very ground of existence), and so we miss celebrating the divine sacrament of a daily life lived with meaning. It is my hope that this tour may hold for you the possibility of embracing new perceptions to transform your worldviews and inspire a future vision. We are indeed living in the space between the current Age of Pisces and the forthcoming Age: the Age of Aquarius. This renders us between worlds.
I am sure that many of you have heard about the “New Age” or the “Age of Aquarius.” But do you actually know what that means, or how the Astrological Ages are determined? Describing how the Ages are determined is actually quite complicated, so I am not going to get too technical about that until later. Moreover, I want to investigate the rich symbolism and synchronistic events of many sequential Astrological Ages to illuminate where it is I feel we are headed as a collective and look at where we have been symbolically. To set the stage, let’s first address the philosophical fundamentals that the Astrological Ages are based on and save the technical stuff for later.
First, I must address a fundamental premise of why Astrology works in the first place, which is a quantum physics truth: everything is in synchronicity; everything is connected. In this regard, synchronicity is defined as an outer event occurring in one’s life that is simultaneously coded with inner meaning. Thus, everything that happens in your life has some measure of inner meaning – whether you perceive it or not and without exception. Of course none of us lives in a constant state of perceiving synchronicity; our brains would probably fry if we did! And to perceive synchronicity we often need tools. Astrology can be understood as a tool that connects the outer world and inner life of not only a single human being, but also a collective through the mediation of symbols. It is here that we enter into the relevance of how Astrology can be used to understand Universal and historic processes that operate inside and outside of us, revealing the Unus Mundus (One World or unity that underlies the dualities of the time/space continuum).
Astrology’s true function then, is to unite the outer phenomenal world with the inner invisible world, allowing us to see the duality as one. Understood in this way, Astrological symbolism represents the archetypal process that Jung called “individuation” or the urge of the psyche to aspire toward wholeness and integration. Applying this understanding to the “collective,” we then arrive at the feet of the Astrological Ages, which encapsulate the process of moving into more encompassing states of wholeness within the collective psyche of humanity.
There are twelve Astrological Ages in total; one for each constellation of the zodiac. Each Age lasts for approximately 2160 years, but there is much debate about the exact timing, because the Ages are based on the constellations in the heavens rather than on the seasons on which we base our Western Zodiac. Thus, who decides when one constellation ends and another begins (some constellations are simply bigger than others)? The sum of all the Ages is often called “the Great Year,” which would total 26,000 years.
The Astrological Ages illuminate a sequential process of how we project our inner collective archetypal images and patterns during a given period of time: an Astrological Age. An Astrological Age is essentially a symbol that anchors the collective consciousness in a way that is synchronous with our collective soul’s evolution. Contained within the time period of each Age, it would seem that there is an objectively observable coincidence between the symbolic meaning of that Astrological Age and the religious, mythic, physical, psychological, and spiritual development of humanity.
Furthermore, the sequence of the Ages is important to consider too, as it represents an evolutionary process of the collective psyche/soul. Each Age follows the other in a Divinely designed way that speaks to humanity’s evolution. However, this sequence also resonates with the growth and development of the individual psyche that has incarnated during a particular Astrological Age – something I find incredibly fascinating. One could visualize the Astrological Ages as a needle playing on a record in which the current age is where the needle is, yet the previous ages are connected in an inextricable and intelligent evolutionary sequence to the current age, as are the ages to come. As the cosmos spins, the music plays, the Universe unfolds, and we move deeper and deeper toward the center of the One. Yet we still have periods of transition between each “song track” where two Ages cross fade. We are currently in such a state of transition and will be for the next 300 years or so. These states of transition are called “interfaces”.
So how are the Astrological Ages determined exactly and why do they go backwards, rather then in the same sequence as the zodiacal signs? Alright y’all, we have to get a bit technical for a moment, please bear with me! You can skip this if you want and join me again by The Ages of Leo – Taurus, but give a quick try and see if you can conceptualize the process.
Essentially, the Astrological Ages are determined by the movement of what is called the “vernal (spring) equinox point” amidst the backdrop of the sidereal constellation belt in the heavens. This belt is comprised of the visible constellations that our Western Zodiac was actually based on, so they carry the names of Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc., and they vary in width-size. Vedic/Sidereal Astrologers actually use this Zodiac when casting charts. This is also called the Earth’s Ecliptic, which is formed by the path the Sun makes as it appears to circle the earth every year (which is really caused by the Earth’s going around the Sun.) There is another imaginary circle to be considered that surrounds the earth, which is at an angle to the Earth’s Ecliptic. It is an extension of the Earth’s Equator out into space and is called the “Celestial Equator”. Over time this circle seems to change in relation to the Earth’s Ecliptic because of the Earth’s slow wobble on its axis (which is due to the gravitational pull from the moon). The globe above demonstrates this wobble which takes place over thousands of years.
To simplify and recap: the Ecliptic is the circle of Zodiacal constellations, defined by the Sun’s apparent movement through the heavens, and the Celestial Equator is an extension of the Earth’s planetary equator, inclined to the ecliptic.
Twice a year, we arrive at the point where these two circles intersect. These intersections points are the two equinoxes we experience in the fall and spring on our lovely planet. The vernal/spring equinox is when we mark the beginning of the sign Aries in Western Astrology, which is based on the Earth’s relationship to the seasons and the Sun – not the Constellations per se – though it was derived from the Constellations originally when both were in alignment some 2000 years ago.
At the moment/day of the Spring Equinox, the Earth’s Ecliptic and Celestial Equator cross at a point in space, and they do so amidst the back drop of an actual constellation in the heavens. This is called the “vernal equinox point”. Every 72 years, due to the wobble of the earth on its axis this point shifts back 1 degree in whatever constellation it’s in, this is what determines the timing/duration of an Astrological Age. This is an astronomical fact. Currently, the vernal equinox point is in the last degrees of the constellation of Pisces (hence we are in the Astrological Age of Pisces). The fact that the equinox point slowly circles westward at the rate of 1 degree every 72 years accounts for the fact that the Ages follow in reverse sequential order due to the clockwise movement of this point.
This phenomenon is called “the precession of equinoxes” and was discovered by Hipparchus on the Isle of Rhodes in the second century B.C. The precession of equinoxes produces what has been called the “Great” or “Platonic Year” of 26,000 years, during which the point of the vernal equinox (like a hand on a clock) makes a complete tour through the twelve celestial constellations in the Celestial Equator. Whew! If you divide 26,000 by 12 then you arrive at the duration of each Astrological Age equaling roughly 2,160 years.
This of course is in contrast to the apparent forward movement of the planets and Sun within the wheel of the Western Tropical Zodiac, which once again relates to the seasons and establishes planetary relationships to the Earth and not the Constellations. Two wheels spinning in opposite directions with each other, can you dig it?!
One other more esoteric phenomenon occurs that I feel has something to do with the Astrological Ages, and that is the shifting of our North Pole Star. As we will see, the vernal equinox point’s shifting from constellation to constellation every 2160 years has much to do with the outer manifestations of archetypes evolving within the collective consciousness of humanity. But let’s shift gears for a moment. Now imagine the Gaia/Earth has her own chakra system, and the North Pole is the crown of Gaia’s head.
Next, visualize the crown or 7th chakra of Gaia aligning to a new star or constellation, which happens because of a peculiar gyrating motion of the Earth that changes very slowly the direction of the polar axis (this is the same motion that causes the precession of equinoxes – think of a toy top that wobbles as it spins). Dane Rudhyar, the late Astrologer ahead of his time, called this the “Great Polar Cycle” which encompasses 25,868 years as the North Pole aligns successively to a series of stars or constellations. This process is like the earth shifting to a new 8th Chakra and opening up to new reservoirs of cosmic archetypal energy. Talk about a rewiring of planetary kundalini! I sense that this symbolizes a new energetic shift of planetary consciousness that actually initiates and precedes the shifting of the Astrological Ages. I would also speculate that this is a factor in how each Age manifests in the collective body and psyche of Gaia. Energy pours from the 8th Chakra (which is the North Polar Star) and downloads through the other chakras until it hits the 1st Chakra of Gaia and manifests via our consciousness and physicality. We are currently aligning to a new North Star, Polaris which is in the constellation Ursa Minor. The alignment is said to be exact in 2100 and would account for why we are experiencing such rapid collective shifting when it comes to this New Age of Aquarius before the vernal equinox point reaches the constellation of Aquarius. Ok, let’s leave that technical stuff behind and jump into our first Age…