A common space for harmonic peacemakers
Signs of the Times: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of World Events
(Chartottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing, 2002, 297pp.)
Each major writer who analyses the transition from the Piscean period to the Age of Aquarius does so by looking at what he feels are the key signs of transition but also in terms of the ideas and discipline with which he is most at home. C.G. Jung’s important analysis Aion stresses psychological archetypes and the role of symbols. “Carl Jung once remarked that as dreams are to the individual, so myths are to society. The stories we tell ourselves as a culture reveal many insights into the deeper workings of our psyches with its myriad desires, fears and values. By studying a society’s mythologies, one can gain valuable glimpses into the archetypal dynamics that underlie history in its course from one era to the next…By studying those recurring themes already surfacing throughout popular culture, we can discern the broad outline of trends which are forming deep in the collective unconscious, and which will continue to take shape in the millennia to come. “
Sri Aurobindo, although he had withdrawn from active anti-colonial politics, saw in political events such as the rise of Hitler and the independence of India the signs of the passing of one age and the start of the next. Marilyn Ferguson, active in mind/brain studies, stresses shifts in consciousness in her well-known book The Aquarian Conspiracy . While drawing to an extent on all these earlier writers, Ray Grasse, trained in film making and analysis, highlights popular culture, especially films, as a reflection of the fading of Piscean values and the progressive flowering of the Aquarian age.
The Piscean period, which we can date from about the year one of the common era to the year 2000, is the only Great Age for which we have real, worldwide historical records. For the two earlier age — Aries (2000BCE to 1 CE) and Taurus (4000BCE to 2000BCE) — we have archeological evidence and some art from a few regions. Thus, to be on solid ground, we must base Great Age analysis on the study of the most recent two thousand years.
We see the start of the Piscean period in the Mediterranean area — to be expected from a sign represented by two fish — a nearly closed sea around which flowered major societies: Classic and Hellenistic Greece and Rome, followed by Spain, Portugal, France, and England — all became politically great powers with worldwide cultural influences. The Piscean period is marked by two religious cultures: Christianity — the birth of Jesus is often used as the major symbolic start of the Piscean period — and the second Piscean faith, Islam.
If the hypothesis of a Piscean-to-Aquarian progression is correct, we should look for signs in two areas: a shift away from Mediterranean-influenced civilization and a fading of both Christianity and Islam. The shift in symbols for the age would also indicate a geographic shift in power and influence from the Piscean fish (the sea) to Aquarius — a person pouring water, indicating land in need of irrigation or water conservation. We can look for signs of a shift toward states or combination of states with large plains in need of water management for prosperity. Such a hypothesis would indicate at least four states with large plains that would take the lead in the transition to a new age: the United States, Russia, China, India. The signs of the USA-Russia-China-India as great powers are relatively clear.
There is less agreement on the fading of Christianity and Islam. Yet as Ray Grasse notes “The Aquarian Age will probably sweep away many of the emotional and religious trappings that characterized Piscean-Age consciousness and replace them with a more sober and clear-eyed approach to reality…Each era possesses certain unique qualities that distinguish it in broad ways, and the Aquarian Age will be characterized by its intensely mental quality. We are entering a time when information will become the driving force of society, and the primary challenges and opportunities facing us will be those of the mind.”
The current growth of political Islam may be due to the unconscious realization that its time on the world stage is over, but some Muslims are reluctant to leave the stage before the curtain falls. The Aquarian Age ushers in a more self-affirming philosophy toward experience and a greater emphasis on personal empowerment. Rather than surrender ourselves to some higher cause or principle, we are now becoming concerned with realizing our own potentials. Surrender to the will of God is the original meaning of Islam, and surrender will be increasingly replaced by self-empowerment and self-responsibility.
Yet if we turn back to analyse the ending of the Age of Aries, the time of the birth of Jesus, we see that there was suffering. Every transition between two Great Ages results in suffering, and the suffering is greatest when fear, a clinging to the past, or an exuberant eagerness to race ahead introduces tensions, inner conflicts, and false expectations. For a new age to emerge, there must be courageous servants of the cyclic purpose. All deep and radical transformations require an illumined mind and an all-encompassing heart.
Ray Grasse’s book and his useful bibliography make an important contribution to the study of this period of transition. If the dawning of the Age of Aquarius is to mean more than a line from a popular song, it will require more efforts along the lines of Ray Grasse’s serious and even approach.