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The Aquarian Age

There have been many attempts to date the start of the Aquarian Age. Nicholas Campion cataloged many of these in his Book of World Horoscopes, on pgs. 543 - 552. He lists some 86, dating from 1462 (Terry MacKinell) to 3550 (Ernest Tied, 1912). The largest number of dates were in the 20th century. Authors cite all manner of fanciful reasons for their deductions.

I'm going to give another set of dates. I'm also going to set some ground rules for dates.

Rule 1: An age begins when it first produces unmistakable, historical effects.
Rule 2: An age ends when it stops producing its own unique effects. (You'd think these two would be obvious.)
Rule 3: Where possible, astrological guesses should be supported by related cosmic disciplines. There are two in particular I'd like to introduce: The Seven Rays of Theosophy; and, The Law of Octaves, by Gurdjieff & Ouspensky.
Rule 4: If the man-in-the-street says it's Aquarius, then his opinion bears as much weight as anyone else's.

We also need some definitions:

By Pisces and Piscean, I mean what is universal, diffused, unfocused, tending to contrast the individual with the absolute, eg, the least with the greatest, the drop of water with the ocean, man with God. Pisces links the lowest to the highest through direct, transcendental knowing, without intermediaries. As examples will show, this relationship cannot be "proven" by rational means & is difficult to express in words, but it has always been obvious to all concerned. The keyword for Pisces is INSPIRATION. This turns up in many disguises, far beyond religion. As Pisces is ruled by Jupiter, what Pisces brings, it brings a lot. With Venus exalted in the sign, Pisces is perhaps the greatest artistic sign of all. This despite the fact that Venus rules the signs of Taurus & Libra, not Pisces. The reason is that Venus is a lazy planet. Jupiter's expansiveness in Pisces gets it working. The result is that Piscean art is essentially TRANSCENDENTAL.

By Aquarius and Aquarian, I mean traits that are distinctly Saturnine (eg, relating to Saturn) in some fashion. These traits are quirky, odd, aloof, reserved, retiring, strange, bizarre, unsocial, etc. The key word for Aquarius is SHOCK. I think of Aquarius as the "dirty old man" sign. Garrison Kellior, in his famous Prairie Home Companion, has a different term for the same thing. He calls them Norwegian Bachelor Farmers, but it's the same person either way.

No one event, no one series of events, unsupported, can be said to herald an age. Notwithstanding that, here are some preliminary thoughts:

The Aquarian age started in 1913, plus or minus about 7 years. It wasn't an all at once sort of thing, though there are some specific dates & locations that can be cited. The initial focal point was Paris.

The key difference between the Piscean & the Aquarian ages can be readily seen in art.

Piscean art was primarily inspirational. It was unhesitatingly & unashamedly beautiful. Quite often it was a lot of fun, but when it was otherwise, it was always sincere & direct. A lot of it was deeply religious, though only a little of that was associated with the Church. And there was a lot of all of it. As the centuries passed, it got increasingly beautiful & transcendental, increasingly complex & sublime. Because there seemed always to be some new art movement on the horizon, every now & then we had to reset our senses to the new levels of beauty on offer. With rare exceptions, new artistic styles were generally welcomed by connoisseurs & (where possible) by the general public. It was unfortunately true that old art was forgotten as soon as the artists who created it were dead, a problem that only started to be corrected in the mid-19th century. Piscean art was the only kind of art that any of us ever knew, for all we knew, it was the only kind of art possible. Art that was beautiful, art that was inspirational, art for the sheer sake of art.

In 1913 saw the first indisputably Aquarian art, art that was at once both ugly (by contrast to what had come before), and which could only be understood in reference to its accompanying ideology. Earlier Impressionist art (which at the time looked revolutionary) could be understood simply by looking at it. Cubism, by contrast, could only be understood by knowing the ideology behind it. If you didn't know that Cubism was intended to represent the same thing seen from different angles, it looked like a simple smear. Subsequent art movements kept this same trait. The ever-popular Surrealism is tacky realism unless you know that it's intended as an impossible view of reality, a shocking joke. Dadaism, Futurism & many of the rest are incomprehensible without appropriate program notes. Of course, most well-read art fans have known what these are for a long time now.

Aquarian art is at once both ugly ("shocking", if you will) & requires an ideology (a uniquely Aquarian quality) to make sense of it. These two factors cut across all forms of modern art: Painting, sculpture, drawing, architecture, music, dance, poetry, literature, etc. In the Piscean age there were theories & treatises about art by the thousand. They were essential only in learning the craft. Not one of them were needed to comprehend the art.

Of all 12 astrological ages, it is clear the Piscean age was the apex of artistic expression. Piscean art - a lavish art for art's sake, art for the sake of sheer beauty, often including art for the divine - dominated the Piscean age, reaching a peak in the 15th through 19th centuries. It faded rapidly in the half-century between 1900-1950.

The following is a bit rough, I'll polish it eventually.

There is ideology, which is uniquely Aquarian. In previous centuries cities were sacked, people were killed. Sometimes it was done for religious reasons, sometimes for economic ones, but once the killing was done, it was done. In the 20th century this was no longer enough. The Khmer Rouge drove people out of the cities because they thought cities were evil (an Anglo/American idea, by the way). Millions were killed simply because they were in the way of an ideology. (This was one of the underlying ideologies in Nazi Germany, but the Nazis were such an extraordinary bunch of murderers that they require special handling.) In the Soviet Union millions of former serfs were reorganized into collectives (farms, factories, etc) & it made no difference to the rulers that these failed miserably. In US cities in the 1950's & '60's, entire square miles of densely urbanized areas were razed simply because the city fathers were in the grip of ideology that required more cars (Los Angeles, Boston) or horribly sterilized high rise apartments (many areas of New York City). And unlike previous efforts at urban renewal (Louis Napoleon Bonaparte's renewal of Paris in the 1850's & '60's comes immediately to mind, as does the building of west London in the late 1800's), the results were ugly in every detail.

America remains firmly in the grip of urban renewal ideology. After the energy crisis of the 1970's we all became energy efficient. Our cars are efficient, our homes are efficient, our appliances are efficient. Efficiency, efficiency. Or are we? The efficiency of American cities declined drastically in the period from 1900 to 1950 & just when you'd think we'd get behind city efficiency in the 1970's, we did exactly the opposite. As a whole, the US has never been more energy inefficient. Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a horrible example. Back in the 1970's, Santa Fe was a small, fairly dense, rather pleasant capital city on the high plateau. But then along came a redevelopment mayor (Sam Pick) & the same boring, horribly wasteful city development that ruined Los Angeles decades earlier came to Santa Fe. The same development that had ruined nearby Albuquerque just a few years earlier.

Your car may get 1000 miles to the gallon, but if you have to drive it five miles to get a loaf of bread (which in a "normal" city can be had at a store around the corner), then you're wasting energy. The inability to separate ideology from reality is Aquarian, just as the inability to separate religious beliefs from reality was Piscean. Nowadays no one cares what your religion is, but bin Laden, he's a terrorist. The simple fact that no one cares about religion & everyone has exactly the same rigid opinion about bin Laden shows the difference between Piscean & Aquarian. One of the problems theorists now have is that Aquarius has such ideological rigidity.

The American & French revolutions. If people want to call these Aquarian, let them. But in that they focus on the individual's relationship to the absolute (as expressed by the national government), they show the same fundamental structure as the Piscean drop of water to the Piscean ocean. The ideals of the American & French revolution do not talk of structure. There is a list of demands (inherent rights) which the absolute must grant (or has already granted) to the individual. And that's pretty much it as far as government goes. You might as well say that if a Catholic goes to confession, that God Absolute will grant him forgiveness & grace, regardless of the priest or the confessional booth. It's the same relationship in Piscean government as with Piscean religion. These ideals had been boiling just under the surface for centuries. They're in the Magna Carta, for example. And while it's true the US was the first country organized along voting lines, it's also true that German city-states experimented with a wide variety of self-governments in the middle ages. Strasbourg, for example, was effectively a rotating oligarchy of non-royal ruling families, chosen by some sort of election. Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite were Piscean ideals, not Aquarian ones. The Piscean government grants the individual his freedom, then both go their separate ways, for better or worse.

Along comes Karl Marx. Suddenly freedom isn't enough. His famous dictum "From each according to ability, to each according to need." We will hear much more of that in the Aquarian age as it is inherently Aquarian. This implies two things That the government is responsible for organizing their societies, and that governments are obliged to look after their own citizens, organized or not. These were radically new developments, but Marx himself was ahead of the curve. Marxism failed in Paris in 1871, the Commune was repressed. Marxism failed in the Russian revolution of 1905. But it succeeded in 1917. And, as everyone knows, it succeeded in the "wrong" place. Instead of highly organized Germany (1919), it erupted in highly unorganized Russia. And then China. Marxism was a way to organize the unorganized. That it failed does not mean it is finished. And it is/was paralleled in the relationship of the corporation to its employees, as shown in post-war Japan, post-war Germany, and the US (medical coverage), before the 1980's. Marxism is the ideological source of Social Security. Before 1900, welfare was the responsibility of courageous individuals, or the Church. Now it's a state-run thing. The Republican retrenchment of the last 20 years has not succeeded in shifting much to individuals or religion, despite propaganda to the contrary. Aquarian governments set up layers of organization to meddle in individual lives. See the difference with Piscean?

Rays. Alice Bailey, writing in the first half of the 20th century, said that Pisces was qualified by a dual 6th ray influence (eg, 6/6, as I express it). Bailey says all sorts of things about this, but - so far as I remember - never boils it down into some neat expression. I think this was deliberate. Bailey wants to give us ideas, not force-feed us. Sixth ray is the ray of the fanatic. Fanatics believe that their way is the only way, the best way. So 6th ray is the ray of the ultimate. Six over six (6/6) is therefore the best of the best. Therefore the Piscean age should have been a time when the single best was chosen from the many.

And indeed it was. Of the tens of thousands of tiny independent proto-nations 2000 years ago, there are now less than 200, and of that, fewer than 100 of any real stature. Of the tens of thousands of languages, there are now only a few hundred - with nearly every person on the entire planet speaking one of these five: English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Arabic. Of the thousands of different calendars in use 2000 years ago, there are now but three secular calendars (Gregorian, Jewish & Islamic), Gregorian in the lead by far, with another dozen used only for religious purposes. Of the thousands of ways of telling time current 2000 years ago, there is now but one. In terms of the concept of the week, there is but one now current. Of the tens of thousands of religions 2000 years ago, there are now but four or five. Of the hundreds of classical composers, the radio station plays the works of fewer than 30 - all of them dead. Of the hundreds of deceased playwrights, the work of fewer than 20 have ever been revived. Of the hundreds of deceased authors, the works of maybe 100 are currently in print. We have the best of the best. The rest are forgotten & this despite numerous attempts at revivals. These are the effects of 6/6.

The same can be observed in the natural world. Small islands tended merge into larger ones (the Battery into Manhattan), or onto the mainland itself (Tyre). Usually this was the result of man's action, but not always. Of the thousands of different animals, man chose the most interesting (eg, most highly developed) & bred them to extremely high standards Dogs, cats, horses. Some inferior animals disappeared entirely, again, many due to the actions of man, but not all of them. Wetlands tended to disappear, the Romans were draining swamps 2000 years ago. For them, swamp-draining was a new thing.

With the Aquarian age, Bailey says that one of the 6th rays turned into a 7th. The top ray is still 6, but the bottom ray is now 7 (6/7). What does this mean? The 7th ray is the ray of organization. What happens when you take the best of the best & then organize it?

Essentially, you get diamonds. If you take the best, hardest coal (anthracite) that exists & put it under a lot of pressure, it crystallizes & turns to diamond. Diamonds are very pretty & very precious, but are extremely fragile, have all same basic flaws as the raw materials, and are prone to catastrophic failure (for diamonds, shattering & burning - they're flammable). Various Hindu scribes say this is the "diamond" age. I never knew what they were talking about until I figured out the rays that Bailey left us. The Diamond Age is that brief period that comes at the end of the Iron Age & heralds the beginning of the Golden Age. Of course, I don't know if we're talking about the Golden Golden Age, or merely a golden part of a longer-running Iron Age. I suspect the later.

So we should be looking for things that were organized, reorganized & then organized again, to a state of near perfection, but which failed disastrously when used. The first of these which I am aware was the German Schlieffen Plan of 1914. This was the scheme whereby Germany could fight & win a 2 front war if it could get the railroads to run fast enough, and if it could persuade its opponents to do as expected. Germany spent 20 years polishing this one plan & when it failed of its own sheer impracticality, it didn't just mean a quick defeat for Germany, it instead turned a 2 month war into a four year fiasco that nearly wrecked all of Europe.

Airplanes show 6/7 organization. Of the many dozens of aircraft manufacturers of the early 1920's, there are now but two (6/6 winnowing: Boeing & Airbus) that can make the really big (6/6 winnowing) passenger aircraft. Ordinarily these planes fly perfectly, but if the least small thing goes wrong, they crash & kill everyone on board. In 2000, a Concorde ran over some minor debris on the runway, crashed, killed everyone. The entire Concorde fleet was grounded until November 2001. Valujet, a budget outfit, was transporting some oxygen containers when one caught fire. The plane crashed & not only killed everyone, the plane itself was smashed into thousands of tiny pieces. The airline itself disappeared shortly afterwards.

The solar system now seems to be 6/7. When the comet hit Jupiter, it didn't just go quietly, it created the greatest solar light show of the 20th century. And the entire population of the third rock from the sun turned out to have a look (eg, organization: 7). There has been a lot of entirely worthless speculation about California falling into the sea or asteroids smashing into the earth. My analysis of 6/7 says that things like this should happen during the 6/7 (eg Aquarian) period. But of course all the prophets will be wrong about the dates. They've been wrong every time before.

The computer on your desk is a 6/7. In 1982 there were dozens of different computer companies: Atari, Osborne, Kaypro, Commodore, IBM, Apple & more. They each had their own operating system, all incompatible. In less than ten years Apple was hanging by a thread, IBM PC clones had wiped out everything else & though the PCs on your desk & mine can run on a variety of different operating systems (MS Dos, DR Dos, a variety of Windows, Linux), in fact Windows has won out. You can tell me there are all kinds of "reasons" for this. There are always all kinds of reasons. I'm not interested in Bill Gates's greed at the moment, as much as I'm interested in the fact that there is a Bill Gates.

So in the computer world there was a rapid winnowing to get the best of the best (or what we hope was the best), 6/6. Then the winning platform was rapidly pushed to the pinnacle of development, 6/7. Now we can share files & send emails & view strange websites with impunity. The technology that permits this is staggering. But: A single virus, created by an illiterate hack, can shut the entire thing down. Ruin the work of thousands of programmers & engineers. A single virus can & has produced catastrophic results. And just when we think we've found all the potential trouble points, along comes another virus & down we go again. Catastrophic failure. In the 6/7 world, this is exactly what we should expect.

What's interesting about this is that when the entire system goes down, you'd think we'd take a step back & maybe try something else. But we don't. We can't. The previous 6/6 has taken our options away from us. We patch up whatever it was & go right back to it. Planes crash but we keep flying. Why? It's too far to drive, the train doesn't go there anymore, there are no more ocean liners, the Pony Express only lasted 2 years, covered wagons & stagecoaches were too slow & messy, we're too out of shape to walk or bike. (Europeans used to take walking vacations. Imagine that!) Six over six narrowed our choices down to just one. Six over seven means we think we can fix what goes wrong - and we can, at least for a while. Airplanes are great examples.

In politics: After decades of rot, the Soviet Union's Eastern European fiefdoms collapsed within a few weeks in 1989. At first it looked like a bright new day, but after ten years, what do we see? The same leaders, now purged of their former communist titles. Again & again we see sudden collapse, followed by a rapid return of "normal". Normal with a few added details. We have no other choice. Various people I read say the US is now in line for the same treatment. Rick Houck says January 25, 2002. He's deceased, by the way.

Since Aquarius is a fixed sign & shows strong mean & materialistic streaks, I am not optimistic about prospects for the age. Pisces was mutable. What was here yesterday is already gone. In the Aquarian age, what is here right now will probably still be here in 500 years, more or less. This means the US will probably go on raping & pillaging the world for its own selfish comforts, with little prospect that it can be stopped (sorry for the blatant political plug). How can the world escape this Pax-Americana dictatorship? I don't see how it can. Voting won't do it, that I do know. The only hope we have is for the intermittent catastrophe that for a brief moment lets in a ray of sunshine. Perhaps over time - a very long time - repeated catastrophes may slowly produce a permanent something better, not just for America, but for everyone else, too.

Or it may be that it's still too early to judge Aquarius. At this approximate point in the early Pisces period, I'd probably have been just as pessimistic. But on the other hand, at the end of Aquarius is Capricorn. Capricorn, as we all know, starts from nothing & builds slowly to great success at the end. If Capricorn is do to that, then must Aquarius be a straight slide to the very bottom?

Terry MacKinell's declaration that the Renaissance was the start of the Aquarian age fails for two reasons. First, the art of the Renaissance is intensely Piscean, not Aquarian. In addition, MacKinnell seems to have tripped on one of the "half-steps" of the Law of Octaves, which can be found in In Search of the Miraculous, by PD Ouspensky, pg. 124-7 & elsewhere. I don't recall that Ouspensky related the law to astrological ages, but it is the nature of laws that they work in all manner of surprising places & in surprising ways.

Under the Law of Octaves (based, as the name implies, on the 8 tone musical scale with its assortment of whole & half steps), we would expect radical change within an age around the 800th & 1400th years. These are the approximate dates when the world transits from a "whole step" to a "half step", eg, times of crisis. (In the key of C, there is a half step from E to F. In music there are a total of 12 separate notes in a scale, which is particularly appropriate to astrology, with 12 signs.) Around 800 AD, at one half-step, we had Charlemagne, at the second Piscean half-step, 1450, the Renaissance. Going back to the Aries age, Velikovsky's dates for Venus & Mars generated cataclysms (700 BC & 1400 BC) also supports Ouspensky/Gurdjieff's half-step Octaves theory (see Worlds In Collision). If the theory holds, we should expect radical change in the Aquarian age around 2800 & 3400 AD.

There's another reality check as well. The Jews. In 1 AD, the Jews were citizens of just another struggling country in the mid-east. They had struggled for centuries, straight through the Aries age (2000 BC - 1 AD) & probably the preceding Taurus age (4000 - 2000 BC) as well. At Masada in 73 AD, they were wiped out as a nation. If we take Masada to be the approximate start of the Piscean age, we will note the Jews wandered the entire Piscean age both helpless & stateless. It might truly be said the Piscean age was incompatible with Jewish goals & aspirations. They suffered horribly.

The Jewish situation changed radically & rapidly between 1916 (Balfour Declaration) & 1948 (founding of the state of Israel). The Jewish state is presently the 4th or 5th most powerful in the world. If Israel had any real land at all, it would be, hands down, the No. 1 most powerful nation on earth. It would appear the Aquarian age is well-suited to the Jewish temperament. Why? Jews worship on Saturday. Saturday is ruled by Saturn. Saturn is the ruler of Aquarius. My guess is the Capricorn age will suit them even better.

More notes to come.

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