Age of Aquarius. Astrological Ages

Age of Aquarius
The final years of every century coincide with human anxiety and the sense that we stand collectively at "the end of the world." Today, this widespread apprehension is intensified as the Earth moves, not only toward a new historical period, but into a heightened dimension of experience that is often called the New Age. This term refers both to the orientation of our planet in space, and to a broad expansion of human understanding, for each reflects the other. It might seem odd that the advent of the Age of Aquarius, touted as a long-anticipated era of fellowship and peace, should be associated with the turmoil and upheaval so prevalent in the world today. We will explore the reasons for this, but first it might be helpful to review the astronomical basis for the change of Ages. Attention to the physical dimension of experience tends to amplify our understanding of subtler energetic processes.

Briefly, the celestial equator is the projection of Earth's equatorial belt onto the celestial sphere. The celestial sphere encompasses the dome of the sky which is visible to someone standing on the Earth, plus that portion of the sky which is hidden from sight beneath the local horizon. To the observer on Earth, the celestial sphere appears to be a vast rounded dome, with the stars rigidly attached to it (hence, the term "fixed stars"). At an angle to the celestial equator is the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun viewed from our perspective on Earth; the ecliptic is, in fact, the plane of the Earth's orbit, since what to us appears to be solar motion is actually an effect of the Earth's movement around the Sun. The ecliptic is surrounded and interpenetrated by a region of force divided into twelve sections, which together comprise the tropical zodiac (the zodiac of signs). The vernal and autumnal equinoxes are the nodal points at which the ecliptic and the celestial equator meet. The equinoxes occur at zero degrees of Aries and Libra, respectively. Due to the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon on the Earth's equatorial bulge (causing the Earth to wobble around the pole of the ecliptic), as well as the planets' gravitational effects upon Earth's orbit, the equinoctial points appear to move backward against the constellations (the sidereal zodiac). The apparent motion of the Sun and planets is forward along and through the ecliptic/tropical zodiac. It takes approximately 26,000 years for the vernal equinox to complete a circuit around the sidereal zodiac; one such cycle comprises a Great Year (also called a precessional year). An astrological or precessional Age bears the name of the constellation against which the Aries point appears to be moving. Each astrological Age lasts approximately 2000 years (although estimates range up to 3000 years), which is the time required for the Aries point to move backward through one constellation in the sidereal zodiac; such vast scales of measurement defy absolute precision.

The timing of precessional shifts is dependent upon the identification of boundaries between fluid groupings of stars. Such limits are not universally agreed-upon, even though there are remarkable historical and cross-cultural similarities relative to the names and positions of constellations. Disagreement abounds concerning the calculation of the ayanamsa,which is the measure in celestial longitude between Aries points in the sidereal and tropical zodiacs. Astrologers thus differ widely in their ideas about when the Age of Aquarius actually began/begins, but it is at least safe to say that we are currently within the "aura" of that Age, feelings its pressure and promise even as the old era sounds its dying gasps. The Master D.K. estimates the transitional period between one precessional Age and another to be approximately 500 years.

The 26,000-year precessional period represents one point of a triangle concerned with an even greater cosmic cycle. We know that all forms are the substantive culmination of energetic causes, and that this process is described by the archetypal triangle of manifestation, Life-Quality-Appearance (or Spirit-Soul-Personality); the universe is no exception. Our zodiac (and here I am considering the tropical and sidereal zodiacs as two phases or dimensions of one reality) corresponds to the Appearance or Personality point of the triangle; it is known esoterically as the lesser zodiac, and it represents the area spanned by the Sun in one year. The zodiac of the precessional Ages correlates with the Quality or Soul aspect of the triangle. Still more encompassing is the Greater Zodiac, corresponding to the Life or Spirit aspect of the triangle, whose cycle is approximately 250,000 years. Thus, our zodiac has its being within the total energy field of a much vaster entity. The precessional Ages literally relate us to a universe of meaning, just as the soul mediates our wider relationship with Spirit.

We are currently experiencing two transitions which are actually twin aspects of a shift of major importance: one is the precessional change from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius, and the second is the shift from Ray VI of Militant Idealism and Devotion (associated with the Age of Pisces) to Ray VII of Ceremonial Order and Magic (associated with the Age of Aquarius) as the major conditioning ray of our sector of the solar system. (For a fuller discussion of the rays, see the article entitled "Getting Started in Esoteric Astrology".) The energetic frequencies of Rays VI and VII are quite different and even (from humanity's standpoint) dissonant, accounting in large part for the confusion in the world today. The difficulties of this transitional period are exacerbated by a buildup of magnetic force on the star Sirius, producing solar systemic effects, and what Master D.K. refers to as "a shift in the Earth's polarity, due to the pull of a great cosmic center." We stand today at a critical juncture, both macrocosmically and microcosmically: the human family, as a part of the whole, receives impacts from above, below and within itself. The word "crisis," however, refers to decision, rather than catastrophe. The present difficulties originate in a dynamic cosmic growth process whose eventual positive outcome is assured, and this world period represents a genuine opportunity for us to meet evolutionary challenges creatively and in an optimistic spirit.

The ray of the Aquarian Age operates along the lines of Will, meaning that it resonates most harmoniously with the energies of reason, logic and order; the ray most characteristic of the passing era is a Love ray, fostering the development of individualized consciousness, deeply subjective values, discrimation and spiritual aspiration. The Age of Aquarius is correctly associated with the enrichment of human spirituality, but the foundation supporting that expansion was laid by Ray VI in the Age of Pisces. Each precessional Age builds upon its antecedents; our task is to "metabolize" the impulse of the passing Age, without clinging to its forms. The Aquarian Age will in due time produce forms reflecting seventh-ray dynamics, but these will initially appear amidst sixth-ray "background radiation." We can expect a certain amount of discomfort in the process of adaptation to the new frequency.

This situation corresponds to the cuspal phenomenon observed by many astrologers, in which a transiting, progressed or directed planet seems to gather momentum for a "last gasp" of concentrated experience associated with whichever house or sign it is leaving. Macrocosmically, this is the Sun's situation in the precessional transit out of Pisces and into Aquarius. We are presently witnessing a great upsurge of degraded Piscean-Age material, stimulated by the radiatory effects of incoming Aquarian-Age energy and seventh-ray force. Ray VI manifests negatively as fanaticism, separatism, misplaced devotion and control of the personality by emotions; Ray VII fosters the advancement of direct knowledge, independent thought and group awareness. The evolutionary objective of cusp-related phenomena, whether macrocosmic or microcosmic, is integration: we are asked to learn from our total milieu, to accept what is past and to move forward in spite of fear. This degree of integration involves the redemption or transmutation of outworn structures on physical, psychological and spiritual levels.

Ray VI and the Age of Pisces are associated with the development of the astral or emotional body within the human kingdom. The seventh-ray impulse of the Aquarian Age will hasten the evolution of the mental body. Just as each human being possesses a threefold personality comprised of the physical-etheric, astral and mental bodies, so does the group, Humanity; and just as each person's energies tend to focus naturally through one or the other of those bodies, so it is with the group. For a very long time, the human kingdom has been polarized in its astral body; this has brought us to a point of exquisite sentience. We are now ready to accelerate our conscious participation in the process of evolution, and for that reason astral substance is undergoing redemption via the energies and activities of the mind. This is the distinctive focus of the Aquarian Age.

If the Age of Pisces spurred the development of humanity's inner life, then the Age of Aquarius will materialize whatever has been envisioned. That is the essence of magic, which is the province of Ray VII. The seventh is the ray of alchemy, which in its truest sense involves the transmutation of substance. Matter is Spirit at its densest level of concentration; matter is potent with Spirit -- hence, the energetic potential of matter. Spirit condensed as matter is "fissionable"; it is the source of power within each of us. Ray VII, operating through Uranus (the magician), releases the dynamic potential of form, which can then be restructured in a new way. Alchemy is the synthesis and fusion whereby new forms are generated. Ray VII is present in all of the regular, rhythmic sequences of living, from the mundane to the sublime; all ritual is essentially magic, since activity produces effects.

The seventh ray is connected by polarity with Ray I of Will and Power, which (from the human perspective) signifies pure Spirit. This blend of first and seventh rays encompasses all creation, which is literally the embodiment of Essence; the seventh ray is thus associated with sex, procreation and death on the physical plane. Ray VII organizes and maintains the etheric templates substructuring form. The construction of thought forms is also a seventh-ray activity, in that a persistent idea will eventually gather substance to itself. This is the ray of regulation and orderly process. It operates with detachment, through attention to detail and observation. In the Aquarian Age, its most important function will be to help us to consciously reunite seeming opposites, particularly Spirit and matter, life and death, inner and outer, self and other. Operating in concert with Uranus in the Aquarian Age, Ray VII will help us to recognize Spirit in form, and ourselves in our fellow beings. This will have profound implications for education, psychology, religion, environmental studies, government, business, philosophy, science, medicine and the arts.

Since each astrological sign embodies its axial complement, we can expect world conditions in the Age of Aquarius to reflect Leonine dynamics, and some of these will contribute to the Aquarian-Age shadow. We will need to provide ethical outlets for creative expression in the years to come, for Leo is a powerful sign filtering Ray I of Will and Power, and Ray V of Concrete Knowledge; both are Will rays with a particular affinity for Ray VII. Lest we become the authors of bloodless legalisms and sweeping social dogmas, we would be wise to entrain our forward momentum to the rhythms of the heart.

Ray II is the ray of Love and Wisdom. Ours is a Ray II solar system whose physical heart is a Ray II body; the visible Sun is the outward manifestation of the heart center of the Solar Logos, that divine entity and representative of the Absolute in Whom we live, and move and have our being. Each person is a solar system in miniature. The heart of a human being corresponds to the physical Sun, and the human heart center is the microcosmic correlate to the heart center of the Solar Logos. Everything concerning the heart -- physical and subtle, macrocosmic and microcosmic -- lies within the sphere of influence of Ray II. Jupiter, the esoteric ruler of Aquarius, is a Ray II planet; Leo is ruled exoterically, esoterically and hierarchically by the Ray II Sun; Ray II is filtered through Pisces, along with Ray VI; and the higher octave of Ray VI is Ray II. Together, this spells out a clear message that the key to expressing the highest potential of the Aquarian Age lies in our conscious alignment of Rays VI and VII with Ray II of Love and Wisdom.

Second-ray love is a state of inclusiveness in which compassion is universal and nothing is asked for the separated self; it represents the fulfillment of Rays VI and VII, and it is the greater part of wisdom. Ray II is oriented toward study and service, embracing the totality of heart and mind. It expresses the love and intelligence of the soul, which Ray VII can build into Aquarian-Age forms. It will be the fountainhead of peace and freedom in a renewed world, and a New Age.

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