by Boots Hart, CAP

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Astrological Ages: An Overview

The Dendara Zodiac: one of the earliest renditions of the zodiac
known. 'Discovered' by Napoleon's troops and now housed at
the Louvre in Paris, the greater structures of Egypt's Dendara
Temple are decidedly off the "regular tourist" track but
well worth visiting.

Humans being humans, there are certain parts of all the various things we do and get into in life which tickle our individual fancy. When it comes to astrology, the Astrological Ages is on such a list in my world...the 'why' of which I hope to show you over a series of posts to be sprinkled amongst all else as the schedule allows.

So let's start with this...those of you who are either…say, over 50 or into current Broadway productions are probably familiar with the musical ‘Hair’ and it’s ballyhoo song: Age of Aquarius.

Well, that 'Age of Aquarius' thing is real. And yes, this is  the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, which is a big reason why a lot of things are happening now.

It’s taken me a while to figure out how to take on this gigundo subject…so let’s make a start of it. And as we start, I want you to remember that this is only the dawn of this incoming age.

Ergo, let us being, starting with what is like as not, the most basic of basic questions:


....Yes, this would otherwise be known as ‘what are they and why the fig should I give a peach pit about them?’

But however you position this first brick in the proverbial yellow brick road, when it comes to Astrological Ages, this would be the most basic of foundational questions.

And lucky for us, it's one with a pretty basic answer!

First, envision our planet Earth as the quintessential globe we all knew as kids. Yes, it's back to Romper Room!

So okay: there's that Earth planet globe thing, with a “stick” stuck through it showing the north and south poles...


And no, that imaginary stick doesn't go just straight up and down. The Earth rotates on its axis - yes. But the planetary ‘up/down’ is a different imaginary line from that which is the axis around which Earth rotates.

The up/down line is something we would draw perpendicular to Earth’s orbit around the Sun - as in this second here-now picture...

That ‘axial tilt’ (as it’s called) is currently about 23.4% off “true perpendicular” …though such a thing really doesn’t exist in the world of space, which is why those periodic frenzies about ‘OMG – the universe is going to turn over’ always make me laugh! I mean…how can you turn over if there’s no ‘up’ or ‘down’? Such things are so a construct of our everyday human life – like the idea that north is ‘up’ on a map and south is ‘down.’

I actually once had a teacher who so hated how his students were always referring to north as ‘up’ and south as ‘down’ that he had a special set of maps made for our classroom which were to our eyes on their sides or upside down. Going from one to the other he eventually broke us of that nasty little ‘up’/’down’ habit, which is maybe why I’ve reacted to it ever since.

But back to the subject…the Earth rotates on around its axis, right? That’s why the Sun appears to rise in the east and set in the west. The Sun isn’t actually rising…the Earth is just going around and around, making it seem like the Sun rises. You know, from the point of view of someone living on Earth.

That one idea – that we are on Earth, is why astrology is geo (Earth) centric (centered). Astrology is the study of how the contiguous energetics of the universe affect us here right here on Earth.

Okay! Now with all that dully mulled over, imagine a top…

Perhaps you’ve watched a top or gyroscope spin? If so, you’ve probably noticed how the top of the top (that always sounds wrong!) …how it describes a little ‘wobbly’ circle of its own as the top spins?

Little do you know (probably because you never needed to) but that little circle goes in a direction which is opposite to the direction in which the top is spinning.

So…you know the word “procession”? It means to ‘go along forward.’ The ‘cession’ part is the getting your get-along along while the ‘pro’ part is the ‘forward’ bit.

This matters because Earth does the same thing as that top. As Earth spins, that ‘stick’ which we think of as stuck through Earth also sloooowly, sloooowly describes a “backward” circle. So it doesn’t pro-cess, it pre-cesses…it cycles backwards.

There are only a very few things in astrology which seem to go ‘backward’ but precession is one of them. Over a big long period of time, Earth’s north pole makes a slow circle of its own, moving in a direction opposite to that in which the Earth turns.

(This is sounding a little like a soap opera, but…)

So how fast does this little precessional thing happen? Answer: the Earth’s rotational axial tilt point precesses one degree back in 72 years.

About in the better part of a lifetime, in other words.

Among other things, this means that Polaris – the star we think of as the “north star,” isn’t always the north star! Who would’a thunk, right?

Okay…so here’s the math. No - don't panic! It's pretty simple. There are 360 degrees in a circle, and it takes the Earth 72 years to move one degree in its precessional cycle. So if we want to know how many Earth years pass by in one earthy precessional cycle, here would be the equation...

72 (years) x 360 (degrees) = 25,920 years

Not hard, right?

Okay...on to our next concept!

(And yes, I promise, it all amounts to something!)

There are twelve zodiac signs. (And if you're in doubt about that, you're on the wrong blog page. Try THIS ONE.)

Anyway....since the circle of the zodiac wraps Earth 360 degrees all the way around, that means that all we have to do is divide 25,920 (years) by 12 (signs), and that will give us the number of years it takes for Earth’s axis to move backward (pre-cession) through one zodiac sign:

25,920 (years) divided by 12 (signs) = 2,160 years

So! It takes Earth 2,160 years to move (backwards) through one zodiac sign.

Et, voila! The astrological term for 25,920 years is ‘an astrological Great Year.’ And the astrological term for one-twelfth of that Great Year is an Astrological Age.

Twelve Astrological Ages equal one Great Year. Make sense?

Given that astrological Ages move backward, if this is now the ‘dawning of the Age of Aquarius’ (go ahead – sing to yourself!) ….that means that we are just leaving what Age?

Answer: the Age of Pisces.

Here's a basic chart wheel for the Age of Pisces:

The Piscean Age

And here is the basic chart for the Age of Aquarius:

The Age of Aquarius

Even if you don’t know signs and such, it’s pretty easy to see that the wheel rotates - backward - by one sign as one Age becomes a next.

And that’s the point: the ‘wheel’ of the zodiac – the 12 signs of the horoscope, they each have ‘set’ meanings. Those meanings correspond to the signs of the zodiac when the zodiac is portrayed as a “natural zodiac wheel” – a term you see me use more or less often:

What happens with astrological Ages is that as each one comes along, we get an “overlay” of affects...okay, except during the Age of Aries, when the Age and the natural wheel lined up.

And when was that, you ask? Well, if we are now moving into the Aquarian Age and exiting the Piscean Age, that means that about 2,160 years ago would have been the  end of the Age of Aries.

So...figuring from 2010 (because it's handy) that would push us back to a rough date of 150 BCE as being when the Aries Age was ending...making - which would make the years around 2,300 BCE being when the Aries Age was coming into being and the Taurean Age was ending.

Got all that? If not, just go with it for a moment.

In the meantime (while those numbers sink in) I'm going to remind you how Pisces is a sign in which we confront and feel our feelings -and thus learn to have faith in how we feel. Or our ability to deal with or even honor our feelings - or anything of a feeling nature, like an oath or promise.

Does that draw a dotted line for you to  spirituality? If not, maybe you're confusing spirituality - the ability to be okay with one's internal sense of 'feelingness' with religion - and they are absolutely, positively not the same thing! Spirituality is our ability to feel ourselves having faith. But that faith doesn't necessarily have to be in a greater power. It could be just having faith that (yes, Annie...) the Sun will rise again tomorrow. Or in mom's promise that if you clean up your room every day for the month she'll reinstate those privileges you lost through disobeying house rules.

Spirituality is our rightness with our sense of faith - whether that's in some idea, some person, some promise...whatever. Religion is a codified set of rules which is supposed to teach us what we should have faith in. Whether we have faith in a religion is thus about whether we agree with what the religion teaches and the boundaries, standards and strictures it sets. Some of us go there, some of us don't. But whether or not you've 'got religion' has nothing (NOTHING!) to do with whether you are a spiritual person!

But that spirituality and religion have been a big Piscean Age deal? That's real. And that's actually pretty darn astrologically apt, seeing that in all Piscean questions, it is not the question itself (i.e.,: do you believe) but our reaction to the question and how we emotionally react to the asking and to our feelings about being asked which is the whole big Piscean deal. So! That the Age of Pisces – among other things – has been a time in which religion has been such a huge cause of argument pro/con, I love it/hate it, live by it/ignore it...that works! That totally works.

And that people have killed over religion? That just tells us how far we can go with this Piscean alienation problem. The Piscean positive is acceptance. The litany of Piscean negative starts with rejection, alienation, shaming, retribution and abandonment.

As for that Aries Age – the Age of Aries would have extended from roughly 100 BCE (let’s round off for ease of adding here)….to roughly 2,200 BCE. If you’re anything close to a history buff and I say to you Aries is the sign of I AM, then it shouldn’t be any surprise to not only find this a time of Sun kings and Pharaohs, but when monotheism gave rise to a Judaic culture which, as we know so well thanks to Cecil B DeMille, identifies the God force as the concept of that which causes all to exist – that “I Am” thing.

Among other things, this gives us a really, really interesting way to look at religions – if nothing else! Those which came to be during the Piscean Age would carry that very distinct GOD/mankind (dominant-submissive, teacher-student, divine-mortal, perfect-imperfect, rich-poor, powerful-weak) theme. I’m not saying any religion is right or wrong here – my personal views on such don’t seem particularly important here.

But the point of why I bring this up is. That which comes to be during a given astrological Age bears the conceptual dynamics of that Age. 

So when does this Age of Aquarius start? Oh…around  sorta kinda about now. It’s been starting for a while and it’ll be a while yet until were totally out of deep Pisces water. Why? Because Ages don’t turn on and off like a light switch – they blend, one into another, rather like seasons meld ends, another begins, there are days of this, days of that until finally the incoming season asserts itself.

Another way I tend to think of this is as the colors of the rainbow.

 A dispersive prism, splitting white light into it's
component color parts - a rainbow
photo credit: Spigget

Why a rainbow? Because the component parts - the individual colors - of a rainbow are rather like the individual signs, granting there aren't as many of them. And as the Wheel of the Age turns, each of those colors will fall on a different house. So if we're talking about the Age of Pisces as spirituality, yes...part of that is because Pisces itself - the sign on the Ascendant of the Age - is a sign which 'tests' our emotional spirit. But how that operates in detail - that we would look at by also looking to the 'natural' houses of spirituality and religion (the 12th and the 9th) and where the signs naturally associated with those houses now fall.

In the case of the Age of Pisces, we know where Pisces (natural ruler of the 12th) is - during the Piscean Age, it's going to be on the Ascendant. But the sign of religions...Sagittarius (religion being a set of codified teachings) - during the Age of Pisces, Sagittarius has been on the 10th house of 'rulership.'

Hence much attempt to be 'top' religion, and the tendency for kings and rulers to be swayed by and challenged as to what their religious beliefs are...religion as a 'ruling' force in the world...and the efforts of some governments to use Sagittarius in its other voice: as an exploration of 'rule of law' (codified correctness in thinking) rather than the Sagittarius/Piscean combined sense of religion. When a nation, person, community goes for this 'separation', they use both sides of this combo, but separately - as in, you do the right thing (Sagittarius) or you'll be sorry (Pisces as self-regret).  

That's just a droplet of an idea on how the Ages work. Any given subject changes from Age to Age in accordance with where the signs which 'naturally' rule that subject fall.

And if you want to get even more exotic about this (which as an astrologer I tend to do at least when I'm doing research)...then you follow the patterns of ruling planets through signs at least partly as a signature of the Age.

Which among other things says a lot about the fact that Neptune will soon be entering its home sign of Pisces. That not only emphasizes Neptunian precepts, but also suggests that as of Neptune's ingress into Pisces (April 2011) levels of imagination, projection, elation and disappointment will all rise. It's the point of Pisces as two fish swimming in different directions - the polarization of emotionality and all which prompts, tempts or produces our emotions is going to become more 'at extremes' or polarized.

For some, this will be educational - it will teach them to hope and work towards goals but not to go so whole-hog into some 'dream' or 'idyllic' image. For others it will be just the opposite - they'll go more towards the hope, the optimal, the 'it could be...' and sometimes win and sometimes have their hopes dashed like a high wave against a cliff.

The thing to remember is that this isn't going to be about the good or bad the world or life. Neptune is about our ability to deal with our emotionality and acceptance of realities.

And here where the Piscean Age is drawing to an end, Neptune hitting its home sign suggests we may well be in for some big highs and lows. Might they be even bigger since by the time Neptune's next ingress into Pisces happens about 164 years from now we'll be pretty much in the Aquarian Age?

That's possible.

Going back to that point about Pisces being two fish swimming in different directions...what thinkest you if I suggest how that might represent the powerful and the meek or the rulers and the ruled, leaders and citizens (or leaders and followers), bosses and workers, teachers and students? And what if I say all that and then tell you that Aquarius at its higher level of all about ‘universal equality’? Does that begin to ring a bell about why there might be so much tumult here where one Age melds into the next?

In the past several decades, every nation and population on this planet has been agitating for more freedom – a distinctly Aquarian thing. Pisces is the fantasy of the sultan and his slaves, the dominant and the submissive, the head of household and his subject family.

Oh – did I mention Aquarius does away with gender bias?

In these last years and decades, haven’t we seen the shift of gender roles? However you describe it and whether its been peaceful or disastrously contentious, both women and men are saying they care more and more about what has ‘traditionally’ been the role of the opposite sex. More women are in leadership roles. More men are caring more and more about being nurturing figures to their children.

As I started out saying, this is a huge and complicated subject. But as the days and weeks go by, between all other things going on, I think it’s useful to take a gander at how we can look at these precepts and see so much of what is going on in the world.

And in our lives. After all…we now have parents born plainly under the end of the Piscean Age who are having and raising little Aquarian Age munchkins. How confusing is that – on both ends of the parent/child transaction!

Understanding the why’s and what’s involved here won’t make it distinctly easier…but like the old sage said: knowledge is power. If you as a parent can get a better hold on why your child thinks like someone born on another planet – it’s not the ‘other planet,’ its that the planet you’re both living on is moving from one Age to a next.

And kids…? It’s not that your parents are ‘old fogies,’ it’s that they were brought up literally thinking in a different temporal language. On one level, how fascinating is that? And lest you think but I’m an Aquarian Age person – that’s all I need to know! ….think again. For one, the Pisces Age is still doing a substantial amount of splashing around – just look at all the power struggles going on in this world!

There’s also that Astrological Ages (read: history) teaches that those who learn from what has been are able to build fastest and most profitably. So don’t ignore those fish tales!

One more item, then I’ll close for today: this may be coming at this Astrological Age thing from a slightly different perspective, but when we look at horoscopes and we ask ‘how often do they repeat?’… if you use JUST our solar system’s real planets plus Moon and Sun (no asteroids, no TNOs, etc.) and all the house cusps - if you run the numbers out using just that, the answer is (yes,) 26,000 years.

And a Great Year is 25,920 years long?

Got it?

This is just the beginning of what I hope will be a long conversation about Astrological Ages. I invite you to write me (or comment) on specific subjects you'd like to see discussed. One of these days (when I get more tech savvy) I'll even start looking for ways astroPPM can be turned into a truly interactive conversation.

In the meantime, we'll just keep exploring. More on Astrological Ages to come!

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