This page presents articles by E. Alan Meece published in Welcome to Planet Earth and other magazines. Welcome to Planet Earth is a New Age astrology magazine that covers the world scene.
From Welcome to Planet Earth, February 2000.
The New Millennium is upon us. What does it mean? Where have we been, where are we, and where are we going?
These are the questions that a New Millennium is for. It is simply a collective signpost in time; something we all share together-- an opportunity to look back and to look forward. This is a pastime I like to do anyway, which is perhaps why I wrote a whole book essentially doing just that.
Traditionally, though, the idea of the "Millennium" has much more powerful associations. It originates with Christianity and its antecedents. It says that the Being of Light or the Christ will return to Earth, and thereupon bring about a reign of 1000 years of peace and justice after a terrible time of tribulation. About every 80 to 100 years or so, expectations that this apocalyptic event may actually be looming in the near future seem to heighten, especially in America. This may be related to the return of Uranus to the second half of the zodiac. In 1630 the Puritan leader Winthrop spoke of America as a shining "City on a Hill," a new Jerusalem and a beacon to the world. Religious zealots of the early to mid 18th century like Cotton Mather played up this theme again, and a later generation put this vision into a secular form when they fought and won the American Revolution. In the period from the 1810s and the 1820s (Joseph Smith) to 1843-44 (the Millerites or 7th Day Adventists), today's themes of the rapture and the apocalypse were developed by new prophets, and others (like Emerson) spoke of the purification of America in the coming civil war conflict. In the 1890s and 1900s, people in Europe feared the oncoming great war and revolution, and indeed it came. In the 1960s and 1970s we became aware of the chance that we ourselves might either blow up the world with atomic weapons, or pollute it to death with our industry and technology, and a new wave of evangelists like Jerry Falwell and Hal Lindsay revived the old millennial fears and hopes. Each time, the promised apocalyse has failed to arrive, at least in the form that it was originally expected, but it fueled religious and revolutionary passions that bore fruit within the great stream of history and progress. That is the promise, or the terror, of today, in the wake of our latest "Awakening" in the 1960s and 70s.
The Second Millennium arrived back in 1000 AD amid similar fears of the apocalypse to those we have recently seen today. This Second Millennium, now just passed (or soon passing, depending how you count it), can be summed up historically as the West's zealous and ambitious drive to reach that ideal of a New Millennium, whether through building cathedrals high into the sky, through the Puritans' eagerness to show that they were the elect of God by working hard in this world, or through revolutionary and scientific efforts to create it with our own hands.
As the 2nd Millennium unfolded through its first two centuries, the former barbarians of Western Europe quickly settled down, and a new birth of energy and spirit swept across the land. Castles and cathedrals arose and trade revived. There was fear and devotion to God; many pilgrimages and holy wars; intellectual ferment and repression; royal strife together with stronger organization in the growing kingdoms. Castles and walls were built to protect feudal lords, barons and burghers from one another. People lived within the narrow framwork of their village and town. But culture and commerce gradually spread beyond manor, moat, monastery and city wall, and by the 12th and 13th centuries Europe was thriving and growing. Cathedrals reached their height, and Medieval philosophy reached its fulfillment. The graceful times of troubadours and courtly love put romance into our culture for the first time.
Meanwhile China entered its greatest golden age in the time of the Sung Dynasty in the same period. Chan Buddhism developed, and it was expressed in serene landscape painting as well as in monastic tradition and poetry. Chinese inventors went far beyond those of the West at this time, inventing paper, paper money and block printing. In southern India and Indochina culture reached new heights as well, as all around the world in the 12th century great temples like Angor Wat were built. Japan developed into a great civilization, and a great empire flourished in western Africa. Mongols swept across Asia in the 13th Century, creating the world's largest land empire and sending the Islamic culture and power into decline. After the fall of the Mayans in Guatemala, just before 1000, new cultures and empires gradually arose in Mexico, culminating in the great and violent Aztecs. But increasingly, in this Millennium just passed, the surge of civilization centered in The West.
As happens every 500 years, another time of transition erupted half way through this Second Millennium after Christ. The bubonic plague hit an increasingly dispirited and fanatical mid-14th Century Europe, wiping out half its people. Rebellion spread among the peasants, and religious revolt gripped the Church. The 100 Years War raged between France and Britain. Soon after 1400 these events reached their climax. Joan of Arc revived French national spirit and began the process of repelling the English. The Renaissance unfolded in Italy, and expanded at mid-century. At that time Byzantium fell to the invading Turks from the east, and Greek scholars fled west, further encouraging the revival of ancient culture. Printing was invented, and voyages began down the coast and around the Cape of Africa. In 1492 Columbus sailed to the New World.
The voyages of discovery prompted the development of the scientific method of observation and experiment. Martin Luther challenged the corrupt practices of entrenched Papal Catholic power, leading to the Protestant Church. These events meant an increasingly secular trend in the 2nd half of the 2nd Christian Millennium, and this brought in turn increasing individualism and demands for human rights. Enterprising and ambitious men decided that they could achieve fame and fortune in this world instead of salvation in the next. Politics and merchant finance became the careers of choice for these men. Art became less anonymous and instead the product of unique "genius." Artists' clientele became aristocrats and merchants as well as the Church, making it less accessible to the common people and less expressive of vast religious experience. Music was increasingly heard and developed in castle, court and countryside, and among the folk. Meanwhile, empowered with their new gunpowder and cannons and ships, Western explorers and colonists decimated the New World cultures and largely but not completely replaced them with their own. A worldwide merchant network of trade in tea and spices and slaves developed and made a few people rich. Two previously isolated worlds came together, as Bibles and animals and diseases and languages went west and potatoes and corn and diseases and gold went east.
Science reached milestones with the Copernican Revolution and Gallileo's telescope and mathematical models of nature, and in the late 17th century it revolutionized our view of the universe and set in motion new technologies. God and the Spirit were divorced from Nature by Descartes and Newton, and the universe was now seen as a giant clockwork mechanism. Inventors who lived in this new world took it apart and put it together in new ways in the 18th and 19th centuries, as inventions increased. Canals knit the world together, and closure movements in Britain closed common lands, parcelled them into tracts and shoved some people off the farms and into cities. Better agricultural tools and methods and better sanitation launched a population explosion, which provided cheap labor for new factories equiped with new inventions like the steam engine and organized with new timetables and capital, and the industrial revolution took off. The great famine of 1845-47 and the Revolutions of 1848 spelled the end of the declining old system in Europe, and sent people and iron horses and other machines migrating throughout the continent and the world in ever greater numbers.
Meanwhile the Newtonian world view encouraged people to question authority, and the Enlightenment spread. The world was now seen as rational, and people and states as perfectable. The rising middle class believed the unseen hand of nature governed commerce, and so free enterprise was demanded; guilds and tarriffs and feudal restrictions were toppled. Constitutions and Bills of Rights were proclaimed, and the people erupted with unprecedented force and numbers to demand their rights and freedoms. This mass of humanity devoted to the new religion of the free nation state was harnessed by Napoleon in 1800 to conquer the European continent and institute the new rational state and its legal codes throughout its lands. Inspired by these world-shaking events, liberated young Romantics explored the possibilities of the freed imagination beyond the confines of its new schemes of reason.
As the 19th century unfolded, another time of transition loomed and a process of dissolution began. In art it led to impressionism, reflecting the increasing evanescence in society and the submersion of the supposedly free individual into the rising masses of humanity and mass culture. Workers gained a new prophet, as more and more of them rose to demand their rights within the factories of free enterprise, and the Enlightenment was transformed into a vision of equality to be achieved through Revolution and class struggle. The new science also spawned a new kind of realism and materialism. Darwin showed how life ever evolves and progresses, challenging ancient static views, but also further took the spirit out of life and nature and inspired demented views of human society as a struggle for survival among superior and inferior races and nations. The struggle for supremacy began in battles of blood and iron. Mass culture and the machine age soon gained a momentum of its own and led Europe into an unprecedented catalysm, culminating in the worst halocaust ever seen on the planet.
In the 20th Century we have been moving through and beyond this halocaust amid the destroyed ruins of the old European order and culture, groping for some new direction amid the anxious, alienating and ever-changing void of human society and consciousness. Mass production, medicine and technology have made life longer and more comfortable than ever before for millions, while millions more have been reduced by the population explosion, colonialism, wars and famines to unprecedented poverty and squalor. This gap shows few signs of healing. Meanwhile a new world order is emerging to replace the old colonial and imperial one, as power becomes global and non-Western nations and cultures rise and flourish. So far however, this new global power is still under the heel of the dying millennium's commercial class of corporate rulers. In this swarming void, no greater authority besides the financial one has arisen to guide us or give us a new sense of values. Through pollution and atomic weapons, our runaway science and technology now threaten our survival as well as our humanity, increasingly crowding out all species from the planet except our own, and unleashing massive climate changes. Meanwhile science has itself destroyed the old European order in nature too, creating a new vision of the universe in which absolute space and time and motion and particles no longer exist, but have become a swarm of energy and vibration. The polarity of particle and wave, speed and position began to resemble Oriental philosophy, even as Oriental powers challenged Western ones at Pearl Harbor and Dien Ben Phu. The arts became expressions of inner perceptions and feelings rather than pictures of the outer world, a true liberation as the Romantics envisioned, but still they mostly lost their way amid runaway experiment and novelty, commercial exploitation and celebrity worship.
Even so, since the 1960s and the 1890s, the time of the two most recent Great Awakenings, the seeds of a true new world of order have been planted. Spiritual emissaries are proclaiming it; visionaries in the arts and music are portraying it. Once again a New Millennium and a New Age is at hand. Some again fear an apolcalypse and hark back to old visions. Some see an oncoming Crisis and ask us to prepare. But a new Spirit is here too. It promises a revised view of nature and the universe as whole and alive, not mechanical, and a people revived by the life force within them and around them. It invites us to renew our spiritual life amid the crazy pursuit of material wealth and power. Today our amazing new technological tools and our wider knowledge not only threaten us, but empower us to be more creative than we have ever been, if we can only catch and/or remember the new Vision of peace and love within a new Spirit on a restored Earth that has dawned among us these last 33 years, and whose first light was seen over 100 years ago. If there is any hope for the next Millennium, here is where to look for it.
It is no coincidence that most of the greatest golden ages and renaissance periods in history have coincided with the coming of new millennia, or half millennia, near our 500 and 1000-year calendar milestones. After all, the life of Jesus was part of such a golden age, occuring during the height of the Roman Empire in its age of greatest power and splendor; the time also of its greatest artistic triumphs in epic poetry and sculpture. The extent of its significance is suggested by the fact that we measure our time from that Golden Age. Five hundred years before was the Greek Golden Age of Pericles, the era of the great dramatists and the Parthenon. Astrologically, this pattern is related to Neptune and Pluto travelling through the second half of the zodiac, in sextile to each other, about one hundred years after their conjunction every 500 years.
Throughout all 5000 years of written history, this 500-year pattern is there; our calendar coincides with its rhythm. A New Millennium, or Half Millennium, does indeed bring the golden promise to fruition. Five hundred years after Rome, a new Eastern Rome arose at Byzantium which set the pattern of law and culture in Europe and Western Asia for a thousand years, and created humanity's greatest religious architecture and mosaic art. Half a world away, the Mayans created their greatest Golden Age at the same time. And in our recent global celebration of the New Millennium, the Danes were quick to celebrate the fact that it was they who first discovered America 500 years before Columbus, during another Golden Age around 1000 AD that also saw a revival of art, culture and national power throughout Europe. It was this revival, spearheaded by the Church, which made another millennium of civilization even possible at all after all the terrors of the Dark Ages.
So this year, as we ring in the New Millennium, please remember WHY it is happening now. It is happening now because, according to the historic pattern, it is time for those millennial hopes of a Golden Age to come true. The calendar tells us so. It is time for astrologers to put away their talk of terror and fear, and to instead accentuate the positive. It is true that, by predicting future troubles, we can help humanity steer clear of them. But the greatest trouble, the greatest calamity that we could possibly face, is that we might actually fail to realise what an opportunity we have now to be more creative than we have ever been before, simply by not paying attention to it. THAT is the disaster we must avoid-- the disaster of lost opportunity. Just as in the time of Christ and Augustus, or the time of Buddha and Socrates, or the time of Leif Erickson and Otto the Great, or the time of Leonardo da Vinci and Columbus, history calls upon us now to begin a New Millennium by launching human life and society into a New Age of renewed life, consciousness and creativity, using all the new tools and knowledge, both material and spiritual, that are suddenly at our fingertips.
What will future generations say of us if we fail? And my friends, we are perilously close to failing. We don't have long before the consequences and karma of the past millennium catch up with us. We must start a new course now, while we still can! Tommorrow will be too late, and the only alternative to laying the creative and cultural foundations NOW for the New Millennium will be another dark age. Let us avoid that calamity by predicting and creating the Third Millennial Golden Age today.