On the Cusp of the Age of Aquarius
Most of the astrological analyses of the September 11 attacks have focused on the opposition between Saturn and Pluto that began in August 2001 and finishes in May 2002. The darkest potential of these powerful planets correspond closely to these dangerous times. In fact, challenging aspects between Saturn and Pluto often coincide with critical periods in history, as described in Rick Levine's article The New Global Perspective. The current crisis, however, may also reflect an epochal shift described by a much larger astrological event—the transition from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius.*
As touted in the song from the musical Hair, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius is presumed to be a time of enlightenment. Astrologers have long talked about the Age of Aquarius as a period when each individual is capable of spiritual awareness without the intercession of religious authority. The Piscean Age of religious faith, with its traditional hierarchies, is giving way to a time when each human being can have a direct line to higher power, or God, if you like. Certainly, the profusion of books, tapes and teachers of old and new spiritual paths has made this kind of information available as never before. Meditation techniques, yoga postures, Sufi dancing, shamanistic practices, rituals and prayers from every tradition are more accessible than ever. The I Ching, astrology and Kaballah have been served up with psychology and physics in a stew of concepts and systems unlike any we have ever seen. The way of the seeker is littered with signs pointing in every direction, with each claiming to lead to enlightenment. This modern metaphysical mish mash is a perfect expression of early stage Aquarian consciousness when we are each free to follow our own path to spiritual fulfillment without the need for priests, rabbis or mullahs. But before we reap the benefits of the Aquarian Age, there is unfinished Pisces business to complete.
The Only Way Versus Many Ways
The anger of much of the Muslim world against the U.S. and the West has many obvious causes. The ongoing suffering of Palestinians and Iraqis certainly tell part of the story. American influence is seen as a continuation of earlier colonialism, now in the form of Western oil interests and U.S. military presence in Moslem countries. Beyond these issues lie the unhealed wounds of the Crusades, which have marked Moslem-Christian relations for 1000 years. Yet, it would be inaccurate to characterize the current conflict as one between two religions. While Christianity is still the dominant religion of the West, ours has become a secular society in which the authority of religion has largely been superceded by the laws of science and commerce.
Secular societies lack a common spiritual doctrine leading, some believe, to a loss of morality. Fundamentalists of all stripes agree that we are degenerating because of the diminishing influence of religion. Our pluralistic society allows each person to find his or her own spiritual path, or no spiritual path at all. This is anathema to those who believe that there is only one true path to God. The Aquarian notion of individual freedom is seen as an excuse for irresponsible and wanton behavior. But instead of compassion and understanding, religion condemns the non-believers to eternal damnation.
The problem isn't with Pisces per se. The gifts of the Piscean Age have been the unification of vast numbers of tribal groups around a set of spiritual ideals. However, religious hierarchies evolved, leading to corruption of these core beliefs. Killing in the name of a loving God is a contradiction that is generally ignored when it comes to non-believers. In the name of one truth and absolute certainty, personal responsibility and discernment are set aside. Individual currents of thought and consciousness are all subsumed in the Piscean sea of one truth. Therefore, the absolute certainty of religious zealots is threatened by the cultural diversity of the emerging Aquarian Age. A technology-driven era that encourages the free flow of information and ideas is a natural enemy to those who seek to mold the world in their singular vision.
Aquarius, too, has its shadow. Idealistic concepts expressed without compassion become mere slogans. Technology has disconnected us from the land, overwhelming nature and breaking our connection with its rhythms. The separation of mind from body makes it easier for concepts to replace feelings. Technology also creates an illusion of safety when, in fact, we are more dependent upon one another than ever. In fact, we are just at the beginning of the Aquarian Age and have not begun to understand how our technology is changing us. We are no longer who we were, but have few ideas about what we are becoming.
An Oily Part of the Story
It is no accident that Pisces is associated with fossil fuels, such as oil. Until we develop new energy sources to sustain us, we will be forced to meddle in the affairs of other countries. If the promise of a clean environment has been insufficient to motivate us to change our ways, the constant threat of terrorist attacks should be. Among the higher attributes of Aquarius is a global intelligence capable of seeing far and wide. The current short-term perspective of American business and political leaders is a barrier to using this intelligence. Perhaps we have become sheep in the Pisces Age, relying on others to guide us to the Promised Land. Creating a vision of the future is the responsibility of everyone in an evolving Aquarian Age.
In times of stress, it's easy to become polarized and lay blame on one's enemies. It is tempting to draw a line and say that "they" are on one side and "we" are on the other. We can look at religious fundamentalists as remnants of another age that must give way to our superior modernism. Yet their desires and fears represent unintegrated aspects of ourselves. We have our own veils of materialism that keep us from seeing the humanness of one another. We have embraced the individualism of Aquarius without its equally important sense of community.
We are on the cusp of a new age, when the undigested elements of the past 2000 years float to the surface and collide with the unformed shape of the future. These are volatile and painful times marking the transition of death and rebirth that characterize epochal change. Whether one wants to return to the material comfort zone of the year 2000 or a spiritual comfort zone of the year 1000, the likelihood of success is small.
A solution may come from a synthesis of Piscean and Aquarian values. How can we make a bridge from blind faith to reason that does not leave us without faith or reason? It starts with consciousness, of course -isn't always that? We have all the information we need to answer even the most complex questions, but the truth exists neither in the head, the heart nor even the gut. It circulates, Aquarius style, throughout the body, the mind, the family, the workplace, the community and humanity as a whole. We can aerate the suffocating forces of watery certainty and moisten the coldness of intellectual calculation by recognizing that truth is an ongoing process of discovery, rather than an object of religious or scientific faith. It's cultural alchemy of our own making in which the outcome lies not in the hands of some priest or devil, but directly within ourselves.
*The great ages are a result of the wobble of the Earth's pole on its axis. This cycle of approximately 26,000 years gives rise to twelve ages of about 2160 years each. The beginning of an age occurs when the vernal equinox (Sun at zero degrees of Aries) enters a new constellation. This precession of the equinoxes moves backward in the zodiac, thus the shift from the twelfth sign Pisces into the eleventh sign Aquarius. Due to conflicting interpretations on the boundaries of the constellations, there is a wide range of dates given as the beginning of the Age of Aquarius, from as early as the 1600's to as late as the 2400's. As with any slow cycle, it's likely that the transition process can cover a good deal of time, perhaps centuries.