Age of Aquarius
The Age of Aquarius is an astrological term denoting either the current or upcoming astrological age, depending on the method of calculation. Astrologers maintain that an astrological age is a product of the earth's slow precessional rotation and lasts for 2,150 years, on average. In popular culture in the United States, the Age of Aquarius refers to the advent of the New Age movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
There are various methods of calculating the length of an astrological age. In sun-sign astrology, the first sign is Aries, followed by Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces, whereupon the cycle returns to Aries and through the zodiacal signs again. Astrological ages, however, proceed in the opposite direction ("retrograde" in astronomy). Therefore, the Age of Aquarius follows the Age of Pisces.
The approximate 2,150 years for each age corresponds to the average time it takes for the vernal equinox to move from one constellation of the zodiac into the next. This can be computed by dividing the earth's 25,800 year gyroscopic precession period by twelve, the number of Zodiac constellations used by astrologers. According to different astrologers' calculations, approximated dates for entering the Age of Aquarius range from 1447 AD (Terry MacKinnell) to 3597 (John Addey).
Astrologers do not agree on when the Aquarian age will start (not even if it has already started). Nicholas Campion in The Book of World Horoscopes lists various references from mainly astrological sources for the start of the Age of Aquarius. Based on the research by Nicholas Campion most published material on the subject state that the Age of Aquarius arrived in the 20th century (29 claims), with the 24th century in second place with twelve claimants.
Astrological ages exist as a result of precession of the equinoxes. The slow wobble of the earth's spin axis on the celestial sphere is independent of the diurnal rotation of the Earth on its own axis and the annual revolution of the earth around the sun. Traditionally this 25,800-year-long cycle is calibrated for the purposes of determining astrological ages by the location of the sun in one of the twelve zodiac constellations at the vernal equinox, which corresponds to the moment the sun rises above the celestial equator, marking the start of spring in the Northern hemisphere each year. Roughly every 2,150 years the sun's position at the time of the vernal equinox will have moved into a new zodiacal constellation. However zodiacal constellations are not uniform in size, leading some astrologers to believe that the corresponding ages should also vary in duration. This however is a contentious issue amongst astrologers.
In 1929 the International Astronomical Union defined the edges of the 88 official constellations. The edge established between Pisces and Aquarius technically locates the beginning of the Aquarian Age around 2600 AD. Many astrologers dispute this approach because of the varying sizes of the zodiacal constellations and overlap between the zodiacal constellations.
|This section relies on references to primary sources. (March 2009)|
Astrologers believe that an astrological age affects mankind, possibly by influencing the rise and fall of civilisations or cultural tendencies.
Traditionally, Aquarius is associated with electricity, computers, flight, democracy, freedom, humanitarianism, Idealism, modernization, astrology, nervous disorders, rebellion, nonconformity, philanthropy, veracity, perseverance, humanity, and irresolution.
Many astrologers consider the appearance of many of these Aquarian developments over the last few centuries indicative of the proximity of the Aquarian age. However, there is no agreement on the relationship of these recent Aquarian developments and the Age of Aquarius.
David Williams claims that the Age of Aquarius arrived around 1844, with the harbinger of the Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad (1819–1850), who founded Bábism. Williams adopts a sub-period approach to the ages whereby each age is divided into three decans. The three age-decans of the Aquarian Age in chronological order are Libra, Gemini and Aquarius. Williams states that the world is currently in the Libran decan of the Age of Aquarius which is why the world has been so affected by wars (due to Libra) and revolutions (due to Aquarius). He attributes the rise of Socialism, Communism, and Fascism to the Age of Aquarius.
Though he acknowledges great progress since the Aquarian Age arrived about 1844, the world will have to wait for the Aquarian decan of the Aquarian Age before the true fellowship of humankind is experienced in the world. (According to Williams's calculations, the Aquarian decan of the Age of Aquarius will arrive in about 3284, lasting until about 4004).
Marcia Moore and Mark Douglas
Marcia Moore and Mark Douglas promoted the view that, although no one knows when the Aquarian Age begins, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the discovery of electricity are all attributable to the Aquarian Age. Moore and Douglas make a number of predictions about the trends that they believe will develop in the Aquarian Age. These include people becoming more impersonal, yet more altruistic and humane. Developments involving flight and space travel will result in decentralization. Inner cities will shrink and burgeoning outer suburbs and industrial areas will reduce congestion.
Vera Reid takes a common position expressed by many astrologers and New Agers about the Age of Aquarius. Reid sees the Age of Aquarius as that time when humankind takes control of the Earth and its own destiny as its rightful heritage. As such, humankind will become the "Son of God" (Aquarius13). Reid believed that the keyword for Aquarius is "enlightenment". The destiny of humankind in the Age of Aquarius is the revelation of truth and the expansion of consciousness.
Reid also believed that many of the world's crises are attributable to the waning days of the Age of Pisces meeting the incoming tide of Aquarius, with the transition between ages lasting approximately 280 years. Reid also promoted the idea that some people will experience mental enlightenment in advance of others and therefore be recognized as the new leaders in the world.
Robert Zoller is a proponent of medieval astrology. Zoller’s predictions for the Age of Aquarius suggest that the Pisces world where religion is the opiate of the masses will be replaced in the Aquarian Age by a world ruled by secretive, power-hungry elites seeking absolute power over others. Families will dissolve completely, or family ties will be hidden. Zoller also believes that knowledge in the Aquarian Age will only be valued for its ability to win wars; scientists may even be able to precipitate earthquakes for military means, and the danger in the Aquarian Age is that knowledge and science will be abused, not industry and trade. Zoller sees the Aquarian Age as a Dark Age in which religion will be seen as offensive.
Neil Spencer provides a sobering overview of the Age of Aquarius, stating that the rise of scientific rationalism, combined with the fall of religious influence, is possibly an indication of the Age of Aquarius. He maintains that the increasing focus on human rights since the 1780s is another indicator. Spencer points to the exponential growth of technology, especially of computers and the Internet, plus the advent of flight and space travel, as examples of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
Spencer questions the New Age utopian view of the Age of Aquarius with the modern astrological perspective that each sign is different but equal. Possible negative examples of Aquarius include dumbed-down media and consumerism and multinational corporations. Finally, Spencer states that nuclear power must be a manifestation of the Aquarian Age and comments on the parallel between the 25,000 years it takes for uranium to decay with the 26,000-year cycle of the astrological ages. No isotopes of uranium have a half-life of 25,000 years, however; naturally occurring forms have half-lives of 4.46 billion years (U-238), 700 million years (U-235), and 245,000 years (U-234).
Louis MacNeice reports that Rupert Gleadow saw the Age of Aquarius ruled by Uranus and thus in the Age of Aquarius the attributes of Uranus such as inventions, machines, worldwide organizations, international collaboration, and the fellowship of humankind would spread. MacNeice also states that Ingrid Lind believes the Age of Aquarius has already arrived and the recent appearance of modern ideas and inventions supports this assertion.
MacNeice also reports that Gleadow believed that the recent conflicts in the world (presumably the 20th century) correlate to the conflict between Saturn, ancient ruler of Aquarius and Uranus, modern ruler of Aquarius. Gleadow states that Saturn represents control, restrictions, and slavery, while Uranus represents culture, civilization, and intelligence. Though Gleadow viewed Uranus as a "good planet", the famous astrologer Raphael believed Uranus to be evil.
Ray Grasse proposes a "wave" theory of the shifting Great Ages, suggesting that the Age of Aquarius will not arrive on a given date but is instead emerging in influence over many years, similar to how the tide surges forward incrementally rather than all at once. He identifies certain historical periods as especially significant points in that unfoldment, such as the French Revolution or the 1960s, but notes that the full-blown expression of the Aquarian era may still be centuries away. Grasse regards the Aquarian Age as neither inherently positive or negative, but as having a wide range of possible expressions in different areas. Just as the Age of Pisces gave us both Jesus and the Spanish Inquisition, so it's possible the Aquarian Age could bring us extraordinary technological or humanitarian breakthroughs side-by-side with a world beset by corporate greed and environmental challenges.
Whichever way it turns out is not set in concrete, though, since we have free will in how we choose to manifest its potentials, or at least in the way we choose to respond as individuals. That said, the determinist view is that there is no actual free will, just the appearance in a cosmically predetermined extistential order. To help navigate through the emerging challenges, Grasse offers a set of suggestions one can follow, including: leave room for silence in your life; resist the deadening of your world by making room for living organic things into your environment rather than entirely manufactured or artificial goods; maintain a compassionate heart; avoid being hypnotized by the "group trance"; and become more self-reliant and take control of your everyday attitudes (i.e., do not depend upon external events for your inner fulfillment). This last point is relevant because, as Grasse states, "How do we know if the Age of Aquarius will be 'a utopia or an Orwellian nightmare?'"
Rudolf Steiner believes that the Age of Aquarius will arrive in 3573 AD. In Steiner’s approach to the astrological ages, each age is exactly 2,160 years. Based on this structure, the world has been in the Age of Pisces since 1413 AD. This approach is based on a different astronomical basis compared to most approaches to the astrological ages. Steiner utilizes the stars at 15 degrees from the vernal point as indicative of humanity’s stage of evolution which explains why his ages appear about one half an age earlier compared to most rectifications. In the Age of Pisces, people have to develop their own individuality. In the next Age of Aquarius, people can have a spiritual brotherhood but if the brotherhood came now, people’s individuality would not be strong enough. Rudolf Steiner has spoken about two great spiritual events: the return of Christ in the ethereal world (and not in a physical body), because people must develop their faculties until they can reach the ethereal world; and the incarnation of Ahriman, Zoroaster’s “destructive spirit" that will try to block the evolution of humanity. Steiner’s approach is very similar to that of Terry MacKinnell, who hypothesizes that the basis of the astrological ages is the heliacal rising constellation instead of the Hipparchan vernal point which also places his rectification almost half a sign in advance (15 degrees) of the common rectifications similar to Steiner. However whereas Steiner has the Age of Pisces arriving in 1413, MacKinnell has the age of Aquarius arriving in 1433 AD (or up to two years earlier). It appears that Steiner and MacKinnell are one age apart in their rectification however MacKinnell clearly states that the strongest sign that manifests in the Age of Aquarius is Pisces. So while MacKinnell has the Age of Aquarius arriving around 1433 AD, the influence of Pisces exceeds Aquarius at this time.
Common cultural associations
The expression Age of Aquarius in popular culture usually refers to the heyday of the hippie and New Age movements in the 1960s and 1970s. The New Age movement is more accurately a phenomenon and yet seen by many as the harbinger of this future changeover of values associated with the arrival or imminent arrival of the Aquarian age.
Although more rock than New Age in genre, the 1967 musical Hair, with its opening song "Aquarius" and the memorable line "This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius", brought the Aquarian age concept to the attention of audiences worldwide. However, the song further defines this dawning of the age within the first lines: "When the Moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars". Astrologist Neil Spencer denounced the lyrics as "astrological gibberish", noting that Jupiter aligns with Mars several times a year and the moon is in the 7th House for two hours every day. These lines are considered by many to be merely poetic license, though some people take them literally. An example is the identification of Valentine's Day 2009 as the "perfect alignment to support our collective manifestation of love and peace and dawning of the Age of Aquarius".
- Neil Spencer, True as the Stars Above, 2000, pp. 115–27 - chapter 7 - "Love Shall Steer the Stars - The Long Dawning of the Age of Aquarius"
- Nicholas Campion, The Book of World Horoscopes, 1999, pp. 489–95
- Neil Spencer, True as the Stars Above, 2000, p. 115
- Eight researchers claim the Aquarian age will arrive in the 25th century while the 21st, 26th, and 27th centuries have seven supporters each. Other centuries that have a number of supporters for the beginning of the Aquarian age include: 22nd and 23rd centuries (6 each); 19th century (5); and the 18th century (4) Nicholas Campion,The Book of World Horoscopes,The Wessex Astrologer Ltd, 1999,Pgs 489-495
- Ray Grasse, Signs of the Times, 2002, p. 263
- Rex E Bills, The Rulership Book, 1974, pp. 362–365
- Geoffrey Dean, Recent Advances in Natal Astrology - A Critical Review 1900–1976, 1977, p. 54
- David Williams, Simplified Astronomy for Astrologers, 1969, American Federation of Astrologers, pp. 45–56
- Marcia Moore & Mark Douglas, Astrology, The Divine Science, 1971, p. 677
- Marcia Moore & Mark Douglas, Astrology, The Divine Science, 1971, p. 687
- Vera W Reid, Towards Aquarius, 1971, pp. 97–99
- Vera W Reid, Towards Aquarius , 1971, pp. 108–116
- Robert Zoller, "The Use of Archetypes in Prediction", The FAA Journal September 2002 Volume 32 No 3 (Federation of Australian Astrologers), pp. 37–53
- Neil Spencer, True as the Stars Above, 2000, pp. 126–7
- Louis MacNeice, Astrology, Bloomsbury Books, London, 1989, pp. 100–1
- There have been a succession of Raphaels since the first Raphael (Robert Cross Smith b.1795 d.1832) commenced publishing an annual almanac titled Raphael's Ephemeris, the longest-running astrological publication in the world - Source - James Holden, A History of Horoscopic Astrology, 2006, pp. 203–4
- Louis MacNeice, Astrology, Bloomsbury Books, London, 1989, p. 183
- Ray Grasse, Signs of the Times, 2002, pp. 228–231
- Christian Lazaridès, "Vivons-nous les commencements de l'Ere des Poissons" - Editions anthroposophiques romandes. 1989 pp. 143–155
- Terry MacKinnell, “The Dawning – Shedding New Light on the Astrological Ages”, Xlibris, 2011, pp. 296–7 ISBN 978-1-4568-8253-2
- Shannahoff-Khalsa, David S. (2011). Kundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric Disorders. KRI. pp. 14–78. ISBN 9780393705683.
- Neil Spencer, True as the Stars Above, 2000, p. 124.