Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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I have a friend who’s a magician with a shovel and a rake. He could be dancing; the tools, no less than his hands and feet, are extensions of his will. I trust him not to come to dinner with them, though. How ridiculous to suggest they’d work better than a knife and fork.
Yet most astrologers make a similar mistake. Astrology itself is a beautiful metaphor, and as useful a model of personality as any the universities offer. But it’s the rare astrologer who uses it sensitively, who knows when to stop emphasizing the level where personalities are “real,” and who remembers there are other tools in the shed.
Steven Forrest is an exception. In his words, “Astrology has fallen into the hands by and large of people who still believe in a mechanistic, push ’n’ shove universe. The language is crypto-Buddhist, but the essence is just exactly what Mom and Dad taught us about the way the world works. In my work, I’m trying to marry the symbols to a more organic way of viewing the psychic processes. I assume that they imply growth patterns, not static psychic conditions like “this means you’re an introvert but will be lucky in love.” For me, the symbols don’t define a condition; they define a flow. They don’t function in a two-dimensional universe of certainties; they operate within a four-dimensional framework of potentials and probable futures. They are not nouns; they are verbs.”
Steve lives in Chapel Hill and has given about 1500 astrological readings. He teaches and writes about astrology, and is a consultant to a local psychotherapist. About himself he writes:
“I was born in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., Jan. 6, 1949. I spent much of my first seventeen years peering through the urban atmospheric muck with my home-built 6-inch reflector telescope. When I was thirteen, I met a woman who knew the symbols of palmistry, which she taught me. I view her as a gypsy, a falsehood, but it adds a dash of color. She was the great catalyst. Within a couple of years, I had a double identity: quiet, scientific, egghead-type with a passion for astronomy, and palmist. I worked various church and school fairs and began to have a bit of a teenage reputation. When eighteen, while recovering from a tonsillectomy, I suddenly developed a craving for an astrology book. Within a very few months, I had fused all that I had learned through the symbols of palmistry with all the feelings of enormity and mystery that had come from peering through telescopes.”
Steve was graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1971 with a degree in religion. Over the years he’s worked as a stockboy, in a nursery, as a technical writer and computer programmer, a bass player in a rock ’n’ roll band, and a librarian, before becoming, as he puts it, “a full-time wizard.”
What follows is an edited version of a talk Steve gave last February in Ithaca, N.Y.
I want to talk tonight about the cycle of ages. In forty-five minutes or so, I want to have a brief look at four thousand years.
The idea that there’s an age of Aquarius beginning and an age of Pisces ending has become very popular recently. About ten years ago, many people were saying the age of Aquarius was going to rescue us from Vietnam, and so on, that some sort of golden age was about to happen. This is, in many ways, a misleading view of the ages.
Let’s look at the actual physical motion in nature that lies behind the cycle of ages. The earth is spinning very rapidly on its axis, like a top, except it’s not really losing speed as a top would. While the earth is spinning, its axis is slowly describing a tiny circle just as a top would, as it begins to lose momentum and settle down. It takes twenty-six thousand years for the earth’s axis to make one circle through the sky. That produces a phenomenon called Precession of the Equinoxes. It’s this cycle, this great spin in the earth’s motion itself, that establishes the cycle of ages.
Astrologically, that cycle is divided into twelve sections. Each corresponds with a sign of the zodiac. It happens that the axis moves backwards through the zodiac, so we observe the progression of the ages in just the opposite order that we normally think of the signs. We go from an age of Aries, to an age of Pisces, to an age of Aquarius, to an age of Capricorn, in a retrograde motion, a negative motion.
In defining these astrological signs, we have a great deal of precision available to us. We know exactly where the signs end and begin since they’re based on the equinoxes and the solstices.
The cycle of the ages is different. It is a more or less arbitrary division of that twenty-six thousand year cycle into twelve parts, the periods when the Earth’s axis enters the different constellations of the zodiac — not the signs, but the constellations. We’ll have the axis pointing to Aries, and then pointing to Pisces, and so on. But exactly where those constellations begin and end is a bit arbitrary. Astronomically, these things are defined by fiat, but nature and the astronomers are not necessarily on the same wavelength. Nobody knows exactly, organically, where the field of Aries begins, where the field of Taurus begins. So there’s a certain amount of indeterminacy.
In order to try to locate the cusp points, the change points, within these cycles, our best bet is not so much to look to the stars but to look to human history. We know that two thousand, maybe twenty-five hundred years ago, we entered the age of Pisces. We know that within two centuries of now, perhaps into the past, perhaps into the future, an age of Aquarius is beginning, has begun, will begin. Before we try to find out exactly when these changes are taking place, let’s look at the two underlying archetypal formulas that we’ll have to deal with: the formula we call Pisces and the one we call Aquarius, the coming age.
Pisces refers to the process of the dissolution of identity. The great hunger, the great instinct that arises in the psyche under Pisces is the urge to attain a state of union with some greater whole, something larger, something greater. Ideally, or at the most abstract level, this would be associated with a union with the infinite, or with God. Hence, the Piscean connection with mysticism, and self-transcendence in that sense. But, similarly, Pisces is concerned with losing itself in anything, in many things that are less than God. It’s dissolving itself into something that it views as bigger than itself. It’s learning humility. In dissolving those walls that separate it from other people, a tremendous compassion arises, a quality of sympathy, empathy.
Inwardly, the walls that separate consciousness from unconsciousness are dissolved by Pisces. Here we find much that we would associate with mystical sorts of phenomena. We get clairvoyance, extrasensory kinds of manifestations. We also find that an enormously fertile imagination begins to develop. The psyche is immersed in the unconscious. It’s immersed in a field of images, and of connections, and of aesthetic perceptions. And we get a tremendous wealth of beauty arising in Pisces. We get an urge to create, and to somehow leave tangible evidence of one’s internal processes with the world. All of this is Pisces in its pure form. This is Pisces as it wants to be.
We’ve been in the age of Pisces for a couple of thousand years, and we could say that this accounts for two thousand years of perfect peace, love, brotherhood — which we obviously haven’t experienced. We can assume that we have to deal with some of the darkness of Pisces.
When we look at Pisces in its more degenerate form, we see some of the more sorrowful and painful things that can happen in this Sign. And they arise exactly from that same source: that urge to dissolve, that urge to take identity and somehow merge it, or melt it into something greater. We get, first of all, a tendency, often dangerous, for the individual to lose his or her form, or identity, to look to something greater, and say, “You will be my authority, you will determine right or wrong for me. I will be lost in you.” Then we lose ourselves in the wrong things. We also find a kind of laziness that can arise in Pisces. The psyche becomes so sensitive that the will may often be diminished. The psyche begins to drift. Constantly, we see that urge to lose the self. We find, too, the sometimes dangerous tendency to follow the path of least resistance, to look for simple answers, simple solutions, anything to numb the self against the intensities of life. And we can find an escape under Pisces into abusive relationships with the metaphysical systems, with metaphysical truths. This is no reflection on metaphysical truth, per se, but rather the relationship of the individual to that truth. In response to, “How are you doing today?” a person might start telling you about what’s going on in the astral plane. Or when you try to get them to face their problems and you say, “Deal with this, look at this,” they say, “No, I have to go out and ask my priest or my guru” or “I have to go meditate.” This is an abuse of the Piscean energy.
We know that at least at the purest level, the dawning of the age of Pisces would have to be signalled by an appearance in human consciousness of some sudden, and seemingly spontaneously-arising sense of the Infinite, a sense of needing to dissolve into something bigger, a sense of love. The age of Aries, which preceded Pisces, was a much more aggressive, forceful, and militaristic kind of age. You’d expect a very dramatic line of demarcation between these two. We know that it occurred between two thousand and twenty-five hundred years ago. At that period of history, we find two events that shaped consciousness for two thousand years to come. They were: the birth of Gautama Buddha, in about 400 B.C., and the birth of Jesus Christ. Both of these teachers, in different ways, spoke of love and of the union of the individual with the Infinite. They signalled a time when human consciousness was ready to begin working in a mystical direction, as individuals, one at a time. There was no longer, at that point, the need for the intervening priesthood that would save masses of people at once.
These two teachers appeared, separated by about four centuries. It seems like a long time, but when we’re dealing with cycles of ages, where we speak of a millennium the way individuals would speak of five years, we find that this four centuries’ difference is not all that important. These two events, from this perspective, happened very close together. And they both signal the beginning of the Piscean age. For purposes of argument, we can just say that it’s somewhere between the two, say 200 B.C., an arbitrary figure, but better than saying zero or 400 B.C. So, at that time, the Piscean vibration came into the world. It has been in effect all of these years.
Under the influence of those two individuals, the Buddha and the Christ, world religion was established — one of the classic patterns of the Piscean age. Individuals began the conscious work of unifying themselves with the infinite. But we also find that people began to lose themselves, not in the infinite, but in the fingers that point to the infinite, in the religions. And we find Buddhism exploding. And we find Christianity exploding. A little after that, we find Mohammedism exploding, the Islamic religions. Previously, the world had been broken up into very fragmented, individualized, local religions, local deities, the deity of my city, of your city. My deity, your deity. Therefore, we would try to kill each other whenever we saw each other. This was the Arian myth. That broke up. And we find, now that we’re all Christians, and we love each other, and what we have to do is attack the Islamic people, or the Buddhists. An improvement. A small step, but a step, considering the horror which preceded it. And again, it’s that basic process of Pisces. And in it we recognize that sense of the psyche dissolving into a greater unit.
I’ve been speaking at the religious level so far, but we can step down to a level that’s almost as sensitive, in registering these changes, and that’s the level of politics. One of the truly archetypal omens of the beginning of the Piscean age, at least in reference to civilization on our half of the planet, was the formation of the Roman Empire. All of a sudden little nations that had been warring against each other were overrun, again, by a greater whole. And a political union, a brutal one, a stultifying one, one that’s certainly negative in many ways, but a greater unit, was created. Human consciousness, at that point, was ready to say, “I identify with someone five hundred miles away. We’re all in the Roman Empire.” And again, much of that strength, much of that unity at this larger scale, held its form only through hatred, through a sense of “outside of the border of this safety, of this greater family, is something evil, something to hate, the vandals, the infidels.” It was clearly not the unification of the planet. That was the potential that was released under the Piscean age, but we weren’t able to pull it off. So, we found, instead, nations developing. The birth of nations is very Piscean. Nations growing larger, and national identities developing within those all-embracing cultural umbrellas. Under the Piscean mythos, people may very much identify with nation-states, with people they will never meet.
Some very dangerous things have arisen from that. Under Pisces, archetypally, there is a sense of “I am one with you, any sort of competition between me and you has no basis; evil itself has no basis. We’re one.” That’s the pure vibration of Pisces. But the human egos begin to distort it, and we find dangerous and negative manifestations with the loss of individual, ethical, or moral responsibility. “I don’t have to think, because I am a Catholic, or a Jew, or a whatever. The answers have been given to me by the greater whole.” In the case of the religions of the world, generally that mistake is not inherently serious, because they all tend to be preaching love, sensitivity, and cooperation, with exceptions certainly. When we find that mistake happening on the political level, it becomes much more perilous. We find there the idea of the king, and the king is saying, “We must fight these people over here, because they are evil,” or some variation of that old theme. Under the Piscean age, a very large proportion of the human population, in any given area, will be willing to fall for that. “I dissolve myself in the greater whole of the kingdom.” The king who represents that is right, whether the king is a Congress, or whatever. “I will bow my will down to that greater whole. . . . I will obey.” This is a terrible distortion of the original intention of Pisces, because originally it’s all love. But as love is restricted to a family-unit or nation-unit, and is not able to go beyond that, we find wars that take on a religious passion in which each side says that “I am right, because God says I am right.” Often those are not the actual words. But the essence of the experience is that “I will unquestionably have this belief. I will fight this war. I will do what I’m told.”
There are astrologers who say that the Aquarian age is going to be the Golden Age, and everything will be beautiful. We go back and find people saying the same thing twenty-five hundred years ago. “The Piscean age is going to produce union among humanity over the earth. There will be nothing but peace, and we’ll all attain Buddhahood within the first ten years.” Clearly, this didn’t happen. And the Aquarian age is not likely to unfold as a release from all the negativity and evil that we’ve institutionalized into our lives, either. The object of the game will remain the same: to learn to love God, each other, and ourselves more fully. No solution will be given automatically. All that will change are the rules by which the game is played.
We find a revolution happening now that dwarfs any revolution of the last two thousand years.
We find a revolution happening now that dwarfs any revolution of the last two thousand years.
The Piscean age, with its enormous sensitivity, its enormous imagination, freed the human capacity to visualize form, to feel beauty, much more than the Arian age before it. We look to the art of the Arian age and we find artistic vision, certainly. But it is simple and crude in many ways, in comparison to what’s happened in the last couple of thousand years. In the Piscean age, we find the discovery of careful, elaborately developed laws of perspective, and the ability to represent reality, an ability to represent true individuality, in the pictures of human beings. People began to take on personality in this age, as reflected in the arts. We find an explosion within music. We find the invention of all sorts of new musical instruments. We find new developments in drama, in all the arts, prospering under the Piscean age. Art is certainly one of the most sensitive indicators of the state of the civilization. It took a long time for the Earth to fully tune into the potentials of the Piscean age, just as it’s going to take us a long time to find what the Aquarian age really means. The Piscean energies probably reached their peak, in terms of their artistic, or creative, output about three-quarters of the way through that age, when we see the early roots of the Renaissance. We find a sudden outpouring of creative energy into the world, a sudden sense of the unique beauty of each individual, each cloud, each shape. Things were no longer merely archetypal. They began to take on more of an individual quality. The art of the Piscean age may well transcend the art of the Aquarian age. The Aquarian age is going to be directed in a very different way.
Each sign is a reaction against the ones to which it is adjacent. It goes as far as it can in the opposite direction. Aquarius and Pisces are as different as night and day. Under Pisces, we see human individuality dissolving. Under Aquarius, we see a precisely opposite process unfolding. We see human individuality taking form. We see not the transcendence of ego, but rather the perfection of ego. Ego is a word that has gotten a lot of bad press in spiritual circles. We say, “To evolve, I must transcend ego.” It’s a very misleading statement. Our enemy is not ego, but rather the diseases of the ego: fear, hatred, competition, a sense of separateness from other people, coldness, distance. These are not inherent or intrinsic to ego, simply diseases of ego. Ego itself simply means everything we’re conscious of. That’s the original, sort of Freudian, definition of the word. In that sense, we look at a Christ or a Buddha, and we’re not looking at someone who transcended ego, but rather pure ego, an ego that is one with the universe, an ego that includes everything.
Archetypally, under Aquarius, we will find a perfection of ego that would ultimately have exactly the same flavor as the transcendence of ego that we saw under Pisces. All of these things, every one of the signs, go to the same place. They all point in the same direction. All those roads converge as you ascend through them. Each gets to the same place by a different route. And each one, as we lower its energy level, becomes more and more different from all the others. They’re clashing with each other, and we find ourselves asking, “Should I have a strong ego or shouldn’t I? Should I be seeing a middle-of-the-road psychotherapist to help build it, or should I find a guru to help me get rid of it entirely?” As long as there’s any sense of separation between those two, it just means we’re working at a lower level. The higher we get through either of those paths, the more the divergencies between them disappear.
The individuality under Aquarius, at a pure level, becomes free. It celebrates itself. It explores itself. Just as under Pisces we were trying to dissolve ourselves into some greater whole, under the Aquarian vibration, what we’re trying to do is just the opposite — to take any greater whole that says, “I want you to take this form,” and say, “No, I’m going to be myself. I’m going to develop my own individuality.” Aquarius thrives on freedom. Pisces doesn’t. Under the Aquarian vibration, individuals and personalities of larger units composed of individuals look inward, and they say, “Who am I? What am I? What is unique about me?” This doesn’t have to be motivated by hatred, or a sense of “I am right, and you are wrong.” But rather, “I’m different, and I’m going to explore that. I’m going to celebrate it, I’m going to develop it.” And we find under Aquarius an urge arising to simply break the rules. Aquarius does not want rules applied to it. It needs its freedom.
Aquarius has to be an extremely discriminating kind of energy field, because the force of socialization is an enormously subtle and compulsive energy. So under the Aquarian vibration, the consciousness has to be equally subtle, in tuning into those energies, and seeing social conditioning and refusing to succumb to it. To help fulfill this dimension of the sign, the volume is turned up on intelligence. The mind simply becomes clearer. It becomes more concerned with a sense of truth. Aquarius wants truth.
Pisces was looking for a feeling. Aquarius is looking for an idea. Simply then, under the Aquarian vibration, we find the exaggeration of human intelligence.
Aquarius, ultimately, through all civilization, has been the force of revolution and change. The individuals in whom the Aquarian vibration is powerful and strong are the rule breakers. They do what they are told not to do, simply to test it out, because someone is telling them not to do it.
Always, the Aquarian force is that of mutation. When a cell mutates within a body, the body is terrified. It tries to surround the cell. It tries to neutralize it. It tries to reject it. This is always the effect that is produced when individuals, with a strong Aquarian vibration within them, begin to grow up, begin to discover who they are. Because they break the rules, society as a whole, the body of life in this case, immediately begins to try to repress, telling them that they are crazy or immoral or that God is going to get them.
Life could not evolve without the energy that we call Aquarius. This is the sign that has brought radical revolution whenever it has occurred throughout human history. And we find a revolution happening now that dwarfs any revolution of the last two thousand years.
But there are terrible dangers in Aquarius. First of all, it’s a sign that can easily become overwhelmingly selfish, as it begins to say, “I am going to be free, and separate out from my life all the external forces that are telling me what to do, what to be, what to think.” This places a great focus upon identity: Who am I? What can I do to enhance myself? What can I do to explore myself more fully? It can produce a terrible self-centeredness, where ego begins to loom very large. Half the world is me, the other half is everything else that has ever existed. This is an Aquarian danger. It doesn’t have the humility of Pisces. Aquarius couldn’t have that kind of humility and still be capable of doing its positive work.
We also find another archetypal drive under Aquarius: the need to think for oneself. “I have the right to disagree with you. I also have the right to agree with you.” This is pure Aquarius. But as we take that energy and distort it, we often find, “If I’m fitting in, there must be something wrong with me.” This is a distortion of that Aquarian vibration, producing a stubbornness, a very contrary quality. “You say black, I’ll say white,” is an Aquarian response at a lower level.
This isn’t what this sign is about but it is one of the potentials within it. Also, with that tremendously emphasized and elaborated quality of intelligence and reasoning within Aquarius, we can find functions of logic running away. The mind under Aquarius becomes extremely adept at constructing pictures of reality, images of the world. But since the Aquarian predilection of vision is intellectual, the psyche can begin to identify to a risky degree with these models and say, “The truth is an idea, my idea, and it never changes.” This is one of the classic pitfalls of Aquarians. One can lose track of the more intuitive grasp, the more wholistic approach. As the psyche identifies more and more with its idea-forming structures rather than the unifying perceptions based on love and intuition, then we begin to find more and more fragmentation. Individual against individual, group against group, ideology against ideology, and this is an Aquarian danger.
This is the stew into which we are all plunging. We have no choice. We can’t turn around. We are creating the Aquarian age. But the Aquarian age is not a prefabricated mold into which humanity is being poured. It is something we are creating. We have a general sense of the pattern of Aquarius. Within that, we can find some very beautiful things and some extremely frightening things. What we’re going to do with that is up to us.
The twentieth century presents us with a cultural picture that virtually everyone perceives as being unprecedented, specifically, the enormous explosion of technology. One hundred years ago, communication with the other side of the world took months. Now communication with the other side of the world is instantaneous. Global information transfer is just an example. We find that every technological field has experienced an explosion, an exponential explosion of knowledge and understanding in this century. The difference between the early part of the twentieth century and the present is as striking as the difference between 700 A.D. and the early part of the 20th century. This suggests to me that the Aquarian vibration came into the earth around the turn of the century. There are people who will argue with that, but this is the conclusion I’ve reached. We’re in the Age of Aquarius right now. If we’re looking for a point where it turned on we could say January 1, 1900. The Arian-Piscean cusp took centuries to evolve and we can expect something similar as we pass from Pisces into Aquarius. We’re talking about at least a couple of centuries of transition time. The rhythm of these changes is so vast, and the length of a human life so short, that a person living through them might notice nothing. And yet, right before his eyes, a seed is being planted which will take two millennia to develop.
The implications for individuals under this Aquarian vibration are unprecedented. First of all, you find something that will profoundly affect the lives of people who follow very traditional religious paths, whether esoteric or exoteric. As Aquarius begins to permeate planetary culture, the time in which outside spiritual authority figures are helpful to the growth of human individuals is finished. The atmosphere that gave us monolithic Christianity and monolithic institutional Buddhism is finished. Spiritually, it’s every individual for himself; not in the sense of selfishness or competition but in the sense that each of us in the Aquarian vibration has the responsibility to think for himself or herself. There is that opening up of the individual freedom to perceive truth that is so typically Aquarian. We know how to dissolve ourselves. That was Pisces, and it’s over. No longer is it, “I am Catholic and all the answers I’ll ever need have been given to me in this catechism.” That worked in the Piscean age but doesn’t work in the Aquarian age.
It doesn’t mean that there will no longer be collective law, a social support system, philosophical system, or religious system. We’ll still have this. It’s a valuable thing. It has lasted as long as humanity has lasted. But our relationship to eternal truth is changing, and so each individual will create his or her own religion, based fundamentally on his or her own experience, tangentially on other people’s experiences.
Individual against individual, group against group, ideology against ideology. . . . this is the stew into which we are all plunging. We have no choice.
Individual against individual, group against group, ideology against ideology. . . . this is the stew into which we are all plunging. We have no choice.
Politically, we’re going to find more autonomy developing within individual cultural groups. Ideally, in a world government, which in many ways is an Aquarian thought, we would find a loose federation of much smaller political, social units than we are accustomed to now. Under the Piscean vibration, the planet was bathed in a hunger to identify with ever larger wholes. Under Aquarius we begin to focus more at the individual level. This can fragment those great nations. We’ll find, ideally, not a sense of hatred or competition among these fragments but rather a sense of revelling in each other’s individuality and freedom. As far as great political units getting larger, that process was reversed at the beginning of this century. We’re going in just the opposite direction now. There are many more nations on the Earth now than there were a hundred years ago. We’re finding a breaking up of the great colonial empires — the European empires that dominated Africa, Asia, and South America. Now those regions are taking on a cultural autonomy, and within that, even those regions breaking up into smaller units. We see an enormous secessionist sentiment all over the planet working at various levels. For the first time in the century there is serious talk about Scotland being independent. Or Northern Ireland saying it is separate from Britain. Look at Canada and we see the secessionist sentiments in Quebec. Even in the United States — no one takes it very seriously — but there is strong talk of Texas wanting to secede. They have all the oil, which they’ll keep for themselves. California has been talking about seceding and there seems to be support for that idea all across the country. We find so much of this individualization process occurring at the national level. In the Soviet Union, Lithuania, Latvia, the former Islamic republics, and the Ukraine, all want their individuality. Again, ideally, this doesn’t mean hatred, it doesn’t mean war. It certainly has potential for that but that’s not its purpose. It’s a sense of, “I want to be free, I want to be myself, I want to revel in my idiosyncrasies and, hopefully, I want to enjoy yours, too. I want to watch yours and learn from yours.” Ideally, I think we will see a loose democratic world-government arising out of a conglomeration of cooperative social, perhaps even ethnic, groups that learn from each other, communicate with each other, and enjoy each other.
We find, too, the same energy, the same sense of “I will cast out the external authority figure” at a much more personal level in our lives now. One force, that serves as an archetypal template for what’s going to be happening over the next two thousand years, is the movement that has been called black power, not just within the United States, but within the world. Among black people, we hear these classic Aquarian words: “We have an identity here of our own, we will cast out the external authority figure. We recognize that we are free to explore our individuality, to create our own culture.” This is one very archetypal example of the new planetary pattern. One that I think is even more fundamental than this, simply because it relates to a larger segment of the population, is feminism. “I’m not going to let my husband boss me around anymore. I’m not going to ride on his coattails. I’m not going to let him be my life for me. I’m not going to be his support system. I am free.” We look at this more subtly, and we find something deeper happening. The authority figure that has enforced the belittling, the enslavement of the feminine energy, all through Pisces is the force of paternalistic culture — a culture that says these are your options: you’re a female, you have a womb, therefore you’re supposed to do the dishes, you’re supposed to have the dinner on the table when I come home. No connection, no logical connection at all. That tremendously compulsive myth, that enslaved half of the human population for at least two thousand years, is breaking down. Individuals will no longer allow there to be that external authority figure. No one out there will define my role or options for me. I will define them myself. I am free. A basic Aquarian drive.
I think that when we’re fully in the Aquarian age, we will see the other half of that revolution happening: masculinism. It’s a word that sounds a little strange now. We don’t hear it very much. We are going to be hearing a lot of it. And if not that word, that idea. All of us are aware of the confusion, the role conflict, the pain that has necessarily been generated by feminism. But this is a relatively safe revolution; women were not in that much authority. They were not the shapers of the Piscean age, at least overtly. As we look to the beginning of the Aquarian age, we see the masculine energy, too, beginning to say, “I am not going to let any external authority tell me what to do. Just because I’m male, that doesn’t mean I’m supposed to work hard all the time, never cry, have an answer for everything, be continually in control.” It still isn’t happening quite so strongly as among the women, but we are seeing it. And, it’s a process that no force can reverse. To stop that, we’d have to stop the turning of the earth’s axis in its precession: an impossibility. The advent of “masculinism” as a global force is just as inevitable as the earth’s turning, and nearly as predictable. When the male energy begins to face this new force, this force of revolution, that’s when we’re really going to see the total collapse of the Piscean myth, the collapse of those great paternalistic, authority structures that have shaped our lives. Right now, we’re seeing among men the formation of consciousness-raising groups, more hugging, more crying, more willingness to seek out personal fulfillment rather than unthinkingly plugging into the old power-and-money conveyor belt. This is beginning to happen in isolated pockets. Men have been the backbone of Piscean planetary culture. Through their repression of female potential, they have more-or-less exclusively shaped our mythic and economic structures. As more and more men tune out the Piscean wavelength, its two thousand-year-old skeleton will collapse. The mass refusal of males to shape their lives in accord with the old myths will be the death-blow for Pisces. Women, with their centuries-old isolation from the cultural mainstream, are registering the new energies sooner. As a result, it is they, who after their long sleep, are awakening to become the true harbingers of the Aquarian Age.
Aquarius promises development of human freedom, human dignity, at a level we’ve never seen before. We can see some very beautiful potentials, but many of these have already shown signs of spoiling. I spoke of this sort of abstractly a little while ago, in talking about the Aquarian tendency toward a rather dangerous and obsessive relationship with the products of intellect. We can see these dangers appearing in a very frightening form: logical ideas manifested concretely in technology. And we see, since the turn of the century, tremendous interest in electronics, aviation, rudimentary space shots and so on. There are people alive now who were born before any human being had ever left the earth, except by balloon. Now, we send men into space. We lose sight of this so easily. It’s taking place over a period of decades and the rhythms of our lives are such that we cannot feel the enormity of that change, but it’s unprecedented. There are also the tremendous horrors the technological revolution has released. Certainly the classic is a nuclear war. We have the capacity to destroy ourselves. We have the brains to destroy ourselves, right now, but do we have the brains not to? That is a basic Aquarian question. Through industry based on technology, we have seen the release of incredibly potent poisons into the atmosphere — pollution in all forms. I doubt there’s anyone who hasn’t read a lot about this already, at least in this culture.
The Aquarian age will continue to be highly technological. The problems that we’re facing now arise from an abuse of technology and not from technology itself. It is possible to have a healthy technology. It is possible to have a technology that would free human consciousness to explore itself, to begin an inward adventure that has never been experienced. And that technology is as much a part of the Aquarian age as the Church was a part of the Piscean age. It does not mean that we should give a blank check to General Electric and to their nuclear power plants. Technology has exploded much faster than our capacity to understand and deal with it. We need to think in terms of species survival over a millennium instead of economic survival over decades. But instead of thinking of technology as a monster, we have to develop a human understanding of the problem: what are we willing to sacrifice in order to be more comfortable? Are we going to sacrifice our health? Our self-respect? Our children? Clearly, the answer is no. But it’s a question of getting that kind of consciousness across to people. How can we live in harmony with the products of the mind — the products that we create with our new-found intellectual power?
Something that I find personally very exciting is space travel. This will be part of the renaissance of the Aquarian age, probably not blossoming for another thousand years. If we create it in anything like its pure and ideal form, that Aquarian age will produce the exodus from the planet. The mind is now ready to make those connections, to leap forward into space. That same force that can create this opening into the ultimate human adventure can also destroy us. There is no way astrologically to say which is going to happen. In the bleakest possible future the terrible abuse of technology would destroy civilization, lead to a degeneration into individual groups struggling for survival, a collapse back into tribalism, a decimated population, a collapse of communication. This is a scenario we can all imagine. Still, this is Aquarius. That individuality, that freedom to be an individual in fragmented groups — but certainly a much more miserable, a much less enhancing view as far as the environment or the evolution of human consciousness. It is also within our freedom, however, to produce a two thousand-year renaissance of expansion into outer space and personal penetration into new dimensions of inner space, a world of unprecedented human freedom and opportunity.
The media labelled the Seventies the “me decade” and we’re all familiar with the reasons why. In this, too, we see the patient hand of the Ages shaping a new civilization. Why? The various self-realization, self-actualization kinds of movements are, at their heart, beautiful, but people can become very self-centered within them. “You are messing with my freedom. I can’t have you be a part of my life. I cannot love you because if I love you I’m going to take the risk of you shaping me, and I have to be free.”
Aquarius, needless to say, can be hard on marriage. In fact, we can look at marriage as a microcosm of this whole cycle of ages. Marriage is a coupling; it arises from the urge to find our complement, our other half, in another person. This is an archetypal human quality. It will persist; as long as there is a sexual polarity there will be a coupling instinct. But that coupling instinct can be manifested in countless ways. Under Pisces, we see the urge to dissolve the self into a greater whole and, in this case, to dissolve the self into the unit of a couple. Under Aquarius, we don’t find an end to love, or an end to sexual polarity but we do find an entirely new basis for being a couple. The couple as a unit into which we dissolve ourselves is over. That finished with the Piscean age. Under Aquarius we find still the basic hunger to seek the other half but also much more emphasis upon individuality and the autonomy of each partner.
We are no longer going to worship longevity in a marriage. We will worship individual growth within a marriage.
We are no longer going to worship longevity in a marriage. We will worship individual growth within a marriage.
We see the skyrocketing divorce rate in this century. There are the usual complaints of cruelty, adultery, abandonment. But we find a new theme in marriages that collapse: “I needed more freedom. I needed more independence. I couldn’t find myself in this marriage.” This is much more than a passing whim of our culture. This, too, is part of that archetypal energy that is being set into motion, and will be working itself out for the next two thousand years. While it does not mean the end of marriage, it definitely will lead to its radical restructuring. We are no longer going to worship longevity in a marriage. We will worship individual growth within it. We will no longer fall under the Piscean myth that in marriage you may hate each other but if you just stay together you’re a big success. That’s Pisces: “I have dissolved myself into a greater whole.” It is not true of Aquarius. Successful marriages may occur in shorter periods, packing the evolution of a lifetime into five years. You get two strong individuals together and sparks fly. Everybody on the Earth wants to be a stronger individual under the Aquarian energy. Under Pisces, we would drift, we would lose ourselves. That is no longer appropriate. It’s not that one is better than the other, or harder than the other. It’s that they are different methods of learning and we are ready for a new one. Marriage will take on a wide array of new forms as we move into the Aquarian pattern.
We will recognize a couple as a couple even though they live apart. We’ll also find periods of separation in the marriage becoming more acceptable. One person will say, “I love you but I need to go to Europe for the next six months. You’re beginning to get on my nerves. If I don’t leave, we’re going to stop loving each other.” This will be acceptable even to conservative people in 100 years. In the Piscean age, separation meant the marriage was on the edge of disaster. In the Aquarian age we are going to find men and women who become entangled with each other for their entire lifetimes but in isolated units of time. They’ll be together when they’re in their twenties, when they’re in their forties, when they’re in their eighties. In their fifties, they’ll be apart, but they’re still a couple. We’ll probably find more “coupling” units of three or four people. Again, I’m not saying this is the archetypal pattern of the Eighties but just that we’re moving into an age in which there will be much more freedom for individual expression and this will be reflected within the socially acceptable forms of marriage.
The dangerous side of this is the selfishness that can so easily arise. All through history, love has been the only force that gets anybody any higher. Love has to contain a certain amount of compromise. Under Aquarius we’ll find more people throwing the baby out with the bath water. Relationships will be more likely to break up over some minor issue. In the past, that was unthinkable. Couples would stay together in the face of any problem. Under Aquarius, it’s the old “I like to sleep with the window open and you sleep with the window closed.” And that was the end of the relationship. This is an Aquarian sentiment. It’s not healthy. Commitment to another person is going to take on a deeper kind of poignancy. For one, it’s going to be much harder. The sense of freedom, the sense of separation, will be so strong that to say, “I love you and I respect you, and my life’s scheme is bound up in your life’s scheme as long as we live,” will really be a mouthful. In the Piscean age it was easy to do that; not now. The relationships that endure, marriages that endure, will be the most dynamic marriages that have ever existed.
We are living in a unique time. Five hundred years ago we would have had a much simpler sense of who we were and where we were going. Everything was purely Piscean. If we were living five hundred years in the future, the Aquarian energy would be fully established. Once again, a kind of relatively monolithic simplicity will reign. Now, though, things are different. We live in a cusp, a time that we can call the “crack between the ages.” Right now we could say we’re in an Aquarian energy field, but with Piscean structure, Piscean myths, Piscean traditions, so in a sense we live in two ages. In another sense we don’t live in any age at all. One has died and another is being born. There is more freedom in these cusp times than there can be at any other time. It’s like that freedom a couple of thousand years ago that allowed us to create an environment that could give birth to a Buddha or a Christ.
This is an exciting and a difficult time. There’s an old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” It’s extremely stressful to be alive now. There’s never been a time in history — unless we go back 2,000 years, or 2,000 years before that — that’s been as stressful. The rug has been pulled out from underneath us, from underneath the culture. We don’t have simple answers. It’s every individual for himself or herself right now as we try to make sense of our lives. Once again, it’s that ambivalent blessing of freedom. There is no easy mythological or symbolic level on which we can understand the universe. We find that people who are brought up in the Christian tradition, for example, find themselves becoming disillusioned and more interested in Buddhism or Hinduism or their Western clones. But their basic programming is Christian, and they’re caught between the two myths. Two myths that in some ways are contradictory. Some will turn back radically or conservatively in the Christian direction and some will leap totally into an Eastern faith and change their name and just cut off all ties with the culture. And all this seems to suggest a quality of turbulence, and tension within the psyche, a sense of personality conflict.
Nothing makes any sense. Something that we are accustomed to, that has worked for a long time, no longer works. We know that. What will replace it is being created day by day in every pocket of humanity. There is enormous confusion running through the planet, through individual psyches, through the governments — who are we, what do we stand for? The human ego which defines itself within stability finds this unendurable and begins to hunger for easy, simple definitions. But those definitions will not last. There are none of us, in our lifetimes, who are going to know the true answer. It simply hasn’t been created yet. We are in the process of creating it.
We’re setting into motion a cycle of evolution, a cycle of conscious development, that is going to last for 2,000 years. The Christ, and the Buddha, and the people who followed them, individuals working, writing letters to each other, thinking, forming the basis of a civilization — every breath they took has an echo that has lasted two thousand years. It’s the same with us.
The way we work within this new freedom, the way we use our individuality, the way we make it an expression of love, rather than selfishness, will determine whether we ennoble the human spirit or destroy ourselves. These are the questions of this generation. Aquarius will not answer them for us. It is we ourselves who hold the answer.