Millennial Archetypes - Astrological Views
This is an exciting time. In forty-three days, ready or not, we will find ourselves in a new Millennium. Such an event, of course, only comes around every thousand years or so... What I would like to discuss with you tonight is the understanding of this time as it presents itself to us symbolically. I would like to use the language of astrology, a subject very dear to Carl Jung, to help us get a grasp on what he referred to the Zeitgeist. Zeitgeist literally translates into “the ghost or spirit of our time.” While Jung gives our dreams such tremendous importance, a place where the archetypes appear in symbols, I would like to invite you to see the world around you as what my colleague Ray Grasse calls a “Waking Dream” in his book with the same title. It describes this wondrous idea that the archetypes surround us constantly, that we need not be asleep to experience them, and that reading the symbols in any moment allows us to enjoy the archetypes in action at that time. Did you know that the Goddess Venus lives in every chocolate mousse?
It would be appropriate here to express my gratitude to Ray not just for his illuminating book but also for his mentoring and his extensive research on some of the futuristic ideas set forth here.
It is hard to estimate just how great the influence of astrology has been on religions, philosophies, and sciences of antiquity and therefore on today. Nearly every religion of the world shows traces of astrological influence. The Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Persians, Hindus, and Chinese all had zodiacs that did not differ much in general structure. The Central and North American Indians also had their own understanding of the zodiac. It is fair to say that what was once practiced by high priests and the initiated few has today sunken to the gutter and has been delegated to the back of glossy magazines. Astrology has become a computer‑generated fortune telling daily forecasting gimmick. This of course, was not always so. No king or other ruler would make any significant decision without first consulting the astrologers. This was common practice up until only a few hundred years ago, when in the age of Enlightenment astrology was not seen as scientific enough to be “valid.” Soon astronomy was spun off from astrology and where these two had been the same for millennia, astronomy became an acceptable science dealing with exploration, calculation, chemistry, and physics of the heavenly bodies. Astrology, which dealt with the synchronistic meaning between these same bodies and life on earth, was abandoned, ridiculed, and sent to the gutter.
Earlier eras in the unfolding of human consciousness were rooted in a general familiarity with what a post‑industrial mind would consider occult modes of interpreting reality. The natural sciences of the period - including alchemy, magic, and astrology ‑ provided a rich source of metaphorical material to process the world through a richly imaginal consciousness. Tonight I wish to re‑awaken your astrological awareness in order to re‑connect you to this ancient art, and perhaps deepen your appreciation for some of the symbols around you.
In order for us to apply astrological symbolism to our lives, we must first establish a minimal vocabulary of this language. First, there is the concept of time. When we talk about time, many of us hold a mostly linear and quantitative image in our minds. We are on a time line, to the left is the past, to the right is the future, one week is this much, one month is that much, we measure amounts. During other periods of human existence, there was an additional understanding about time, perhaps best described as the quality of time. In ancient Greece, a distinction existed between Chronos and Kairos. The word chronology derives from Chronos and describes a linear unfolding of time. Kairos, on the other hand, was what you asked your local oracle about: “Is this the right time to start a war? Have a baby? or become king?” you might ask. The pertinent question was: “What kind of time is it?” We still use this concept in our language when we say: “This is not a good day for me” or “I'm having a great time.” These are qualitative statements about time. Somewhere we still hold this awareness that time contains within it different qualities.
Astrology is the clock that measures the quality of time. Astrologers can draw a chart for any moment in chronological, linear time and then understand what kind of time it is at that moment. The astrological chart is a representation of the quality of the moment for which it is cast. We have the idea here of a potential for that moment. Kairos in Greek mythology was the personification of opportunity that lay slumbering within a moment. Or to quote the Bible: in Ecclesiastes 3:1,12 we read:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...”
"There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyages of their life is bound up in shallows and miseries."
And in this context a quote from Jung:
"We are born at a given moment, in a given place, and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything more."
Once we understand how every moment in chronological time has a certain quality, then we understand why astrologers place such emphasis on getting the exact birth moment to cast a chart. Let us use the metaphor of building a house. In the beginning, there is a blueprint. Every detail is specified and laid out. Similarly, an astrologer draws up a picture of the planets in the sky at the moment of your birth over the place where you were born. This becomes the blueprint of your life. Both blueprints express what could be, based upon the moment at which they were drawn. Then you start building. The whole concept of the house, its natural progression is predetermined by the plan that is drawn up before you ever get a shovel.
Now some of you may be chuckling over the idea that life is predetermined and disagree with the thought that you have no free will. Others may be relieved that all is predetermined and cherish this chance to adopt a laissez‑faire attitude. But both views are incomplete. If we say that events happen to us, we are following astrological teaching with the idea that moments in your life are pre‑determined. In other words, your life unfolds according to the blueprint of your personality, the astrological chart. However, your response to these moments in time will vary according to choices you make. Therefore, when something happens in your environment, the way you choose to respond will determine the outcome. This is free will. What comes towards you is given; your response, while in line with your personality, is free will. If life is a river and you are thrown in at birth, you have some choices. You can drown by taking no action, you can swim upstream, or you can swim and let the river take you on a ride. Furthermore, for a potential to express within a person, action must be taken and we are responsible to act and for our actions.
Another basic astrological idea is that there is a connection between the planets and life on earth. The planets must not be seen literally as a mega mobile zooming around the sky with long strings attached to us. We are not puppets on strings. Neither do the planets send out some strange, possibly electromagnetic, rays that affect our brains and that make us behave in certain ways. Astrology is not a fact‑based science it is a meaning‑based science and an art form and has therefore more in common with psychology than physics. Astrology exists not in the world of empirical proof but in the imaginal world. It is closer to Jung than to Skinner. The important distinction here is that a discipline does not have to be rigidly quantifiable to be valuable. We do not judge the arts with scientific standards. When we study the Mona Lisa, the chemical makeup of the paint pigment is irrelevant. Therefore, instead of the cause and effect view “the planets influence us,” let us consider a parallel worldview. What Jung would call synchronicity. The central idea here is that the movement of the planets and life on earth are part of the same universe. The universe as a giant system that has within it rhythms, cycles, chain events and so forth. If we look in one place, the movement of the planets, we can understand what is going on in another place, life on earth, at the same time. We are experiencing a parallel, synchronistic unfolding of these events. As well as outer seasons, we have inner seasons. This is what the ancients called as above so below.
We must take an even more daring step here. I suggest to you that the planets are indeed representations of the archetypes and therefore fundamental symbols for all time. First, the ancients saw a red, fast planet cross the sky and saw this as a sign from the god of war. Much later this apparent fireball gets the name Mars. Today in a more psychologically aware astrological environment, we see Mars representing the warrior, the passionate, and the energetic and forceful part in us. An archetype that somewhere slumbers in us all. Literal, astronomical Mars becomes archetypal Mars and a representation of martial energy. The tool of astrology allows us a way to imagine the world differently; it is an alternative way for understanding human reality. As Jung would say, because it involves the imaginal world, it is soul building. I invite you to look at your world as a living, animated (which means full of anima or soul) world that might give you clues as to what era you live in. We are examining Jung’s Zeitgeist Jung believed that we get a sense of the Zeitgeist by looking at its symbolic expressions in the world. The Zeitgeist deeply penetrates and shapes the collective unconscious, another term coined by Jung.
Now, if we review our thinking, we have developed a potent set of tools to understand our time. We know what the archetypes are doing at any given moment because we know what the planets are doing at that same time. Jung had a saying over his entry door:
"The gods will enter, invited or not.
Another way to say that is:
"Either you do the planets/gods or they do you."
If you have the desire to live in harmony with the planets, you can align your actions in a way that is most harmonious for you. Simply speaking, if there is tension in the air, watch a football game and if the time calls for harmony, take a soothing bath. This is aligning with what Jung called “the gods.”
The sun takes one year to travel through the zodiac, marking along its way the seasons. In ancient times, the systems for measuring a chronological year were based upon the equinoxes and the solstices. The year always began with the vernal equinox on March 21st and a celebration of the sun’s return to its path above the equator. The “passing over” of the sun over the equator is the origin of the Jewish Passover, which later coincides with Jesus' resurrection and rebirth at Easter. The sun reached its highest point, its most northerly position at the summer solstice marked as June 21st. There it began its descent towards the equator, only to cross it at the autumnal equinox on September 21st. The most southern position for the sun was reached on December 21st, a time when most cultures of the northern hemisphere celebrated some form of ritual to invite the life‑giving force of the sun back in the spring where a new cycle began.
The sun actually has three cycles. We are familiar with the 24‑hour cycle that gives us night and day; we are also familiar with the sun’s cyclical movement through the zodiac in one year. The zodiac is a division of the sky into twelve equal pieces along a belt of star constellations named Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and so forth. In a very slow third cycle, the sun's position on the vernal equinox on March 21st moves backwards through the complete zodiac in about 26,000 years. This is called the precession of the equinoxes and the movement through one zodiacal sign takes about 2160 years. This is not an exact number, because it is difficult to determine exactly where a fixed star constellation ends and where the next one begins. Interested scholars debate the beginning times of these Ages or Eras, however it is common practice to use 2000 years as the approximate time for these periods.
Rather than enter the discussion on exactly when these shifts have occurred and will occur again in history, I am more interested in their archetypal and symbolic manifestations. Perhaps we can tell the dawning of an age by the symbols presented to us, if we live the waking dream as presented earlier.
I would like to take you back to approximately 4000 BCE when on the vernal equinox the sun started to pass, every year, through the sign of Taurus, the bull. The 2000 years or so during which the sun passed through Taurus on March 21 is referred to as the Taurean Age. During this time, we find religions that have a particular affinity to the worship of the bull. In Egypt, they said that the god Osiris was driven from India by a bull. The Egyptians mummified the sacred bulls. We also have the worship of the golden Calf described in the Old Testament, and of course the Minoan Culture in Crete. In the Mysteries of Mithras, the bull is sacrificed and an ancient carving found in Ox‑ford gave that town its name. In About 2000 BCE the vernal equinox began to move into Aries, the Ram. During the Aryan age, the Lamb was held sacred and priests were called shepherds, a reference found often, by the way, in the New Testament. Sheep and goats were frequently sacrificed in blood rituals on altars. We also have the scapegoat of Israel, the Golden Fleece and we could continue here ad infinitum These are merely glimpses into these periods to give you a taste of these 2000 year eras, also referred to as Platonic months because Plato was aware of the precession of the equinoxes, knowledge he presumably received from the Egyptians. Around the time of the birth of Christ, the vernal equinox began to move into the sign of Pisces, the Fish. The symbol of the fish has been a central theme of the last 2000 years often referred to as the Christian era. A fish frequently symbolizes Jesus himself. St. Augustine points out that if you join the first letters of the Greek words that spell out the Greek words for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, they will make the Greek word for “Fish.” We find Christ calling to the Apostles and saying: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” The fish symbol was one of the first used by Christians to secretly announce to other Christians that one of their faith was near by. Moreover, many Christians to this day eat fish on Friday.
The current move of the vernal equinox is into the sign of Aquarius. This is what the singer chants about in the sixties Movie “Hair”: “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” It is appropriate that as she sings this song, she is twirling around in a park and the camera tries to follow her causing the viewer’s head to spin. Emerging symbols of the Aquarian Age are constantly re‑inventing themselves. It is hard to keep up with anything anymore. As soon as you think you understand how your new software works, the new version comes out and you start the learning curve almost at zero. Let us understand here that a particular planet rules each 2000‑year period. The planet of our time is Uranus. He is unpredictable, electric, magic, eccentric, bohemian, utopian, a breaker of traditions, futuristic, humanitarian and rules the occult. He rules space exploration, satellite communication, computers, medical, scientific, and technological breakthroughs, and anything global, and anything belonging to groups. The concept of a digital universe, reducing music, pictures and text to bits of electricity that are either “on” or “off,” this duality leads to another relevant point.
We live in a world of extreme opposites. Examples of this are our two‑party system in the political arena, you are either on the left or on the right. You are either with me or against my beliefs. You are pro‑choice or pro life. These are issues that stir us, that force us into our extreme corner where we take a stance, ready to prance in an instant. The world is black and white, Yin and Yang, male and female, heaven and earth, rich and poor, for Jungians introvert or extrovert, and so forth. The great philosopher Martin Buber describes this split as the fundamental split between man and God, in his important book Ich und Du or “I and Thou.” The first line of the book translates into:
“To man the world is twofold in accordance with his twofold attitude.”
The original German version of this line contains the word zwiespältig, which literally translates into “split in two.” As we grow from infancy and start to speak, there comes a significant moment where we say “I.” “I want a cookie,” as opposed to “Frankie or Kathy wants a cookie.” This use of the term “I” separates us as distinct from the other, the outside world. We can now step back and view ourselves apart from the other.
The astrological worldview also holds a distinct separation between the opposites. I have been speaking of the Aquarian Age as a group of symbols. Every symbol contains within it, its opposite. Together they form the whole. Without night, there is no day, how can you say “cold” without knowing “hot.” In astrological terms, the sum of all Aquarian symbols stand in opposition to the sum of all Leo symbols, because the zodiacal constellation of Leo is opposite the constellation of Aquarius.
Such an opposition cannot only be seen in a 2000 year Platonic month but also in an individual's chart as well. Suppose two planets were across from each other in the sky and as archetypes on the celestial stage represent tension in the air at that moment. We might say that they have their swords pulled and are sticking them up under each other’s throats. They are at war. Now what if we freeze this moment in time and what if this moment is your moment of birth. You would have in your psyche this tension all of your life. What you do with this energy becomes free will. You have many options to deal with this inner tension between two archetypes vying for power.
Let us create the astrological case study of Jack and say that the planets involved in such an opposition in his chart were Saturn and Mars. Saturn represents restriction, oppression, also focus, and control, while Mars represents unbridled passion, energy, desire, also anger, and rage. Now imagine Saturn and Mars in conflict. And by the way, this exercise in archetypal astrology gives you some insight into the Age of Aquarius, just bear with me! So Jack with this particular constellation in his birth chart might very well suffer from a continual “push‑pull” energy, thrusting himself into projects (Mars) and then withdrawing the energy early (Saturn). Because he feels irrationally blocked, Jack may have a big temper. He may very well have an imbalanced sex life with periods of self‑imposed abstinence, an expression of Saturn, followed by periods of uncontrolled lust, an expression of Mars. This back‑and‑forth, seesaw way to deal with opposing forces within the psyche is one way to handle such inner characters or parts of us, when they are at war. Sometimes we deal with such oppositions in more destructive ways by simply ignoring one side and thereby avoiding conflict altogether. Therapists would say that Jack is repressing that part of himself. Jack could simply shut down his Mars energy. He would become lifeless, limp and without passion for anything. Or he could deny his Saturn side and become a reckless daredevil with frequent outbursts of uncontrollable anger. Another coping mechanism might be acting out both archetypes at the same time, a kind of a schizoid party mix. Jack might then for instance be aggressively restricting, sort of a cop‑gone‑bad. In the worst case, Jack might become Jack the Ripper.
So what to advise Jack? He could learn how to deal with his energy level and anger. His would also be a great constellation for a martial artist who controls Mars through exercise and strict ritual. The idea is to let each side learn from the other, let Mars become more disciplined by creating the space to harbor Saturn, simultaneously let Saturn be more energetic and expressive by fueling what he does best, focusing energy. The highest form of constructive Saturn‑Mars energy is the laser beam, narrowly focused, powerful energy, used in surgery and healing. The integration of the opposites is also the Socratic dialog notion, going back and forth and coming to some truth by learning from the other. The insight we gain here is the recognition of our need, in the Age of Aquarius, to create space for the Leo side of the opposition.
Let us catch our breath now and hear some other quotes from Jung in relationship to astrology and the dawning of the Aquarian Age. The following quote is from a letter to Sigmund Freud dated June 12, 1911:
“My evenings are taken up very largely with astrology. I make horoscopic calculations in order to find a clue to the core of psychological truth. Some remarkable things have turned up which will certainly appear incredible to you... I dare say that we shall one day discover in astrology a good deal of knowledge that has been intuitively projected into the heavens. For instance, it appears the signs of the zodiac are character pictures, in other words libido symbols which depict the typical qualities of the libido at a given moment.”
In 1931 Jung noted (In the Spiritual Problem of Modern Man) the rapid growth of psychological interest during the preceding two decades. I quote:
"Expressionism in art prophetically anticipated this subjective development, for all art intuitively apprehends coming changes in the collective unconscious. "
In keeping in line with his thinking and also honoring the fact that we are in an art museum tonight, consider the Aquarius and Leo duality as expressed through the arts. Once again, what we are doing here is seeing the reflection of the Zeitgeist in the culture, specifically looking at art. From about 1900 to 1975, we have modernism as a major direction in art and architecture. With its desire for strict order, modernism was part of an effort to incur social change through art. Archetypally this is congruent with a Leo view of the world. Leo expresses as the royal ruler, the king superior in charge. We have during this period a clear order of esthetics. We also see a tremendous rise of social change in the world. The Russian revolution, two world wars and the strengthening of workers rights and unions. Now, view modernism as a forerunner to post‑modernism, a truly Aquarian phenomenon. As a counter weight to this strict order of things, parallel to expressionism we have surrealism in the twenties and the thirties. Again this breaking out from inside, this expression of a live and well inner, subconscious world. This counter movement to Modernism occurs in other forms too. Dadaism after WWI, and Neodadaism where artists like Tinguely play with technology creating a refreshing, joyful spectacle. Post modernism has brought a free‑for all, anything‑goes environment to the art world and the rule is, there are no rules. In this duality between modernistic order and post‑modem independence, we observe, once again, the opposition between Leo and Aquarius.
To further understand the quality of our time, the kind of time we live in astrologically and archetypally, let us add the following. As I have said, the planet Uranus governs the sign Aquarius in Astrology. The word “Uranian” is derived from the planet Uranus. Uranian personality traits, symbols, archetypal expressions etc are therefore the same as Aquarian. The two terms are interchangeable for the purpose of the presentation of these ideas. So here are some of the Uranian/Aquarian concepts that have emerged in recent decades: Lightning‑fast changes, communication, flight, satellites, a global worldview, and fierce individuality. The idea that we are all in the same boat, that “Good Planets Are Hard to Find,” the tremendous impact that the first pictures of the world as a giant ball floating in space had on the collective unconscious of humanity. And most importantly, the electrification of the world, both literally and figuratively after the discovery of the steam engine.
Here a side note. Perhaps as a precursor to the Uranian/Aquarian Age, William Hershel discovered the Planet Uranus in 1781 a dozen years after James Watt invented the steam engine. These are, at least, remarkably synchronistic events. Steam and air power brought on the industrial revolution and to this day, we measure electrical power in Watts. It is as though when the collective unconscious of the world is ready for electrification, this revolutionary electric planet emerges from our collective unconscious into our awareness. Speaking of revolutions, the discovery of Uranus also coincides with the French Revolution in 1779 and of course the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The Montgolfier brothers flew the first manned flight in a hot air balloon in 1783 and we witness the birth of aviation, a tremendous empowerment of the individual. Air travel, a core Uranian/Aquarian symbol, meant breaking free of gravity. Similar synchronicities exist, for the discovery of the other two planets not visible to the naked eye, Neptune and Pluto.
But back to our symbols. The Modern Age has also been called the Technological Age, the Electronic Age, the Jet Age, and the Supersonic Age. I point out the notion of flight to outer space, the dream to walk on the moon, numerous inventions that changed the world, often connected to electricity. The telegraph, electric lights, then the phonograph, the telephone, satellite communication, cell phones, and perhaps the greatest revolution since the steam engine: the advent of the internet in the past few years. The Internet has changed just about every facet of our life as we know it. Uranus is a great equalizer, giving essentially everybody the same access to information.
The Aquarian Age asks us to extend our senses beyond the Newtonian world of five senses. Rudolph Steiner spoke of this many decades ago in his theory of the evolution of consciousness in which he speaks about the five senses evolving into twelve senses. It is increasingly possible at a cocktail party today to mention extra sensory perceptions and experiences. There is a huge increase in interest in angels, UFOs, and the paranormal at large. May I remind you of the recent phenomenal success of the movie 6th Sense that delves deeply into this realm of reality? Now all this brings out chuckles in many. But may I point out that many also would have chuckled one hundred years ago if they had been told that one day we would be flying objects the size and weight of Jumbo‑Jets with ease across the skies? Consider this quote from Lord Kelvin, the English mathematician and physicist and president of the British Royal Society, in 1895:
"It is utopian to think that engines heavier than air could fly."
Utopian and Uranian are, astrologically speaking, synonymous. Uranian/ Aquarian thinking must always break through the limits of current beliefs. That is why inventions belong to this energy. “Beam me up Scotty” may seem like science fiction today. A hundred years from now.... who knows?
The media is one more omnipresent symbol of Uranus /Aquarius. Just consider for a minute the difference in media bombardment between a hundred years ago and today. Just a few days ago, I heard of a study that showed that the average American youth spends about 38 hours a week exposed to this Uranian energy in the form of television, movies, the Internet, videogames, radio, and advertising. This is a phenomenal change in our society. Via the Internet, advertising is today targeted to the individual so that if you buy a certain type of book at amazon.com, they will suggest similar books to you instantly based upon your individual profile. Systems are now being developed that will suggest perhaps clothes to match your style of life as expressed in your choice of books! Now contrast this to dogmatic Stalinism where you have one censored TV station for the whole nation. Everyone is the same, there is no cult of the individual. Except, of course, of the Leo leader, Stalin himself.
Another example of the emerging Uranian/Aquarian energy is civil rights. Aquarian energy is colorblind and cares about the person inside the shell, indifferent to color, creed, origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation. In such a world, anything goes and you are the master of your own universe. Fierce independence, a worship of the individual and yet a strong sense of community are present. We live in a time of do‑it‑yourself religion. We pick and choose from any of the world's great teachings. There is a plethora of options, a smorgasbord of choices available now. Did you know that one of the fastest growing religions in the US today is Buddhism? Let us listen to Jung some more to hear his description of the shift from religious man to modem, spiritually seeking man. It is impressive how his words from 1931 ring true today:
“The psychological interest of the present time is an indication that modem man expects something from the psyche which the outer world has not given him: doubtless something which our religion ought to contain, but no longer does contain, at least for modem man. For him the various forms of religion no longer appear to come from within, from the psyche .... He tries on a variety of religions and beliefs as if they were Sunday attire, only to lay them aside again like worn-out clothes.”
This sense of restlessness, this sense of impatience, and this need for instant answers, sound bites, and quick fixes are also part of the Uranian/Aquarian era. Most succinctly, Jung speaks directly to the dawning of the Age of Aquarius in the following passage taken from a 1958 paper “Flying Saucers, a Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky.” In writing this paper, Jung knew very well how he was going out on a limb and he clearly states in his introduction his awareness of risking his whole career as a scientist and psychiatrist by even writing of such things.
"It is not presumption that drives me, but my conscience as a psychiatrist that bids me fulfill my duty and prepare those few who will hear me for coming events which are in accord with the end of an era. As we know from ancient Egyptian history, they are manifestations of psychic changes, which always appear at the end of one Platonic month and at the beginning of another. Apparently they are changes in the constellation of psychic dominants, of the archetypes, or “gods” as they used to be called, which bring about, or accompany, long‑lasting transformations of the collective psyche. This transformation started in the historical era and left its traces first in the passing of the aeon of Taurus into that of Aries, and then of Aries into Pisces, whose beginning coincides with the rise of Christianity. We are now nearing that great change which may be expected when the spring point enters Aquarius.”
These are Jung's words on the precession of the equinox.
Uranus shakes up, rattles the status quo, and while a breath of fresh air to some, is a frightening reality to many. Uranus’ nature is to revolutionize, break up, and change whatever it touches. Uranian people make great inventors, communicators and often revolutionize the world that they inhabit. A great image of the Uranian/Aquarian principle is that of Ben Franklin standing in a storm with his kite in the sky and like Prometheus bringing light from the heavens to the people. As a secret publisher of one of the earliest Farmer's Almanacs, Ben Franklin was, by the way, a closet astrologer. I have earlier discussed how duality and opposites are a fundamental part of our worldview and used the case study of Jack to illuminate options for integrating opposites. Instead of describing the zodiac as twelve principles of the universe, it is more befitting to speak of six pairs of opposites. Like Romeo and Juliet, Laurel and Hardy, Romulus and Remus, the pair make the whole, neither works alone. There is a distinct symbiotic quality to the pair. This thinking invites the idea that in any astrological age, the opposite sign that the vernal equinox appears in is predominant at the same time. Let me explain. Lets take the Piscean era for instance. The opposite of Pisces is Virgo, a principle of rationality, science, fact‑finding and also critical thinking and skepticism. Contrast this to the nebulous Piscean principles of compassion, charity, sacrifice, emotions, and artistic and melancholic tendencies. Now consider which of the two dominated the last 2000 years. My vote would be for the latter. The church, as an institution of power, disallowed, by punishment of death, any rational critical view of its doctrine. The New Testament is based on very Piscean principles of sacrifice (God sacrificed his son for us), suffering (thy kingdom will come) and charity (treat thy neighbor the way you wish to be treated). In 1616, the Catholic Church officially declared the Copernican Theory that the planets revolve around the Sun to be “false and erroneous.”
The rational side of the Pisces/Virgo archetypal duality dawned in the Western world between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries with the emergence of a new and self‑conscious human being. The awakening of the modern mind originated in the rebellion against the Piscean omnipotent God and medieval church. The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution together ended the cultural dominance of the Catholic Church in Europe and established the skeptical, scientific, and secular spirit of our time. The search for truth through science is a fundamentally Virgo idea. During the Renaissance, the minds of Newton, Galileo, Descartes, and Bacon all helped establish this new world by creating a bridge between a medieval Christian Creator God and a modern mechanistic cosmos. In contrast to the medieval Christian cosmos, which was not only created but continuously and directly governed by an active and omnipotent God (Thy Will Be Done), the modern universe was an impersonal phenomenon, governed by regular natural laws. This universe could be understood in exclusively physical and mathematical terms.
It seems to me that the last 2000 years are not a good example of integrating the opposites of Pisces and Virgo. This was more a period of fighting between who is right and who is wrong, each side being equally dogmatic. I cannot help but hope for a future where we truly integrate and relate the two dominant opposites, Aquarius and Leo, for the betterment of our race.
So how do you align yourself with the Age of Aquarius? Well here, a story is appropriate. Remember the Wizard of Oz? This was a pioneering story and a truly Aquarian tale because each of the characters was searching for something different. This is a story of individualism. Each character wanted something different. Dorothy wanted to get home, the Scarecrow wanted a brain, the Lion courage, and the Tin Man a heart. Yet, they all went down the same yellow brick road, as a group, together. Their quest was to find the Wizard of Oz who of course turns out to be a scam artist and who tells them that the answers they are seeking lie within them. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz shows an emerging spiritual sensibility here. Now contrast this to the story of the Holy Grail. Joseph Campbell points out that each of the Knights of the Round Table goes out to find the Grail. They all have the same goal. These two stories illustrate the move from Pisces and dogmatic, uniform, all‑alike, non‑distinguishable seekers to a group of individuals searching together with highly individualistic goals, a truly Aquarius/Leo metaphor.
Another way to describe the shift of ages is with the metaphor of music groups. Piscean music is the symphony. It is dictatorial, non‑democratic, top‑down, and dogmatic based upon the ideas of the omnipotent director. Contrast that with an Aquarius/Leo Jazz band. Here you have a group of individual experts combining their talents to make music. Each individual is better off because of the group. Have you ever heard of Thomas Edison's workshop? He assembled a group of brilliant inventors and scientists and they would tackle a problem much as a jazz band would. The problem is stated, improvised upon, then improved on and played with, until impeccable, then immediately changed to experiment with something new. This is the model for think tanks, small professional groups of doctors, lawyers, and architects, the idea of brainstorming. In business, you now find the business unit, a group of skilled individuals taking a complete project from start to finish. The Swedish car company Volvo was a pioneer in this field. They recognized several decades ago that their employees were more productive if a small group built a car from bumper to bumper rather than on an assembly line where one worker made windshield wipers all year. These are all examples of what happens in the Age of Aquarius, they represent symbolic shifts in consciousness about the group and about the individual within it.
The question persists as how a citizen of this new world might act to best be aligned with the archetypes of the time. How do you fit yourself into the current Zeitgeist? The astrological answer happens on two levels.
First, there is the individual horoscope or chart of each person that can be looked at by an astrologer in context to the Aquarian Age. This can guide the client towards a better understanding of the tools he or she has to cope, adjust, and enjoy this exciting time in history. Sort of an “Astrological Are You Y2K Ready Check‑Up.”
Then there is the work that we can do as a group to align ourselves with the archetypes of now. If we go back to the idea that two opposites can learn from each other and both benefit in a balanced combination, then we can apply this to the Aquarius/Leo opposition. An ideal blend might be a society of kings and queens. We have never had such a thing. Kings and queens appear alone. They preside over the many. How would a society of kings and queens behave? A group of aware, responsible, and empowered individuals? A royal pain? Perhaps this concept is the true idea behind democracy.
Artists can no longer work in a hidden corner; they must be connected, have a marketing plan, be business savvy and know how to work in groups. To succeed, computer knowledge is probably paramount in the next millennium. Foreign languages are not an option but a requirement as the world shrinks. Therapy is fine as a tool to understand your inner workings but do not remain locked in your “inner child” as that would be wholly Leo! You must act, take your gained awareness of who you are out to the world and participate in your community. When the individual aligns himself or herself with others of like mind, true empowerment is possible. Many great minds of today use the term “the thinking heart.” This is Aquarius (thinking) and Leo (heart) combined. The following is an example of the power of the individual in affecting the group. On August 26th a lone man with a mustache clutching a duffle bag ran down the wrong way at O'Hare airport and triggered the complete security alarm system, paralyzing the world's busiest airport for three hours. As the news reporter said astutely: “look at the way one individual can affect the whole system!”
You also find at this threshold to a new Platonic month a rather hefty backlash of dogmatism, largely fueled by fear of change. Interestingly, this backlash is happening on both sides of the Pisces/Virgo axis. On the Pisces side, we have a surge of religious fundamentalism and violent activism. This is happening in all major religions. On the Virgo side, you have a small but vocal group of “pure Newtonian scientists” who refuse to even consider anything they cannot measure. Ironically, these purists are as dogmatic about their beliefs as their religious brothers and sisters. In health care for instance, it is amazing with what resistance the American Medical Association has met any alternative form of health care. The arrogance with which traditional treatments such as acupuncture and herbal remedies have been opposed amazes me. Besides the obvious monetary motivations for such rejections, I am more interested in this fundamental dogma that unless you can quantify it, it does not exist. This kind of thinking will not lead down the optimum path in the Age of Aquarius.
The single sure thing about this age is that the only constant will be change itself. To paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt:
"We have nothing to change but change itself."
(Lecture Presented in the Auditorium of the St. Louis Art Museum for the C.G. Jung Society of St. Louis on Friday, November 19, 1999 7:30 PM)
© Laurence Hillman, 1999