The Cosmic Clock of Civilization
What will the New Age be like? What does fortune hold for our civilization in the next 400 years? We can get even more information on this question by watching the Cosmic Clock of Civilization. As we mentioned, every cycle, no matter how long, takes place within a longer one. Just as an ordinary clock has a minute hand and an hour hand, the Cosmic Clock has a shorter cycle and a longer one. This is how it works: every 493 years, Neptune and Pluto return to their conjunction in about the same place in the zodiac. The last two conjunctions have occurred in Gemini, and the ones before that happened in Taurus; but Uranus shifts its position backward almost forty-five degrees at the time of each conjunction. It takes 3,940-plus years (about 4,000), or eight Neptune-Pluto conjunctions for Uranus to shift all the way back to the same place it started.
A spectacular event inaugurates this Great Cycle. As Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto light up the sky with a brilliant triple conjunction, an enormous turning point in human evolution is reached. We are not at such a moment today: ours is just one in a series of cycles that have followed from the previous triple conjunction. That happened, as we said, around 575 B.C. It coincided with a great, worldwide awakening that has never been equaled in the history of humanity. It was so powerful that its reverberations have continued ever since. It set in motion the great cycle that Buddha called "the wheel of truth." Each subsequent cycle of civilization since then has been an echo or ripple from that first impulse, when the greatest artists, seers, and sages in history set in motion all the changes of the last 2,500 years. This radical shift ended the archaic ages, a time when human culture and society were fully embedded within cycles of visible nature and restricted to the domain of tribal gods and kings. The Sixth and Fifth Centuries B.C. were the world's classic age, one which could only have come during the most rare and sublime of planetary events. For the first time, we beheld transcendental realms and became conscious of ourselves as free rational and spiritual beings. As Plato would say, we began to venture beyond the cave. We began our quest to understand and control nature, and to reorganize society according to universal moral and spiritual ideas. We embarked on a bold, dangerous experiment whose possibilities and consequences are still being played out today, and won't be complete until the next triple conjunction, almost 4,000 years afterward. This is still quite distant for us-it will occur around the year 3370.
When Uranus aligned with Neptune and Pluto in 577 B.C., the great triple conjunction (the closest and most powerful in tens of thousands of years) opened a vast cycle of time in which we are still involved. Each of the smaller 500-year cycles between Neptune and Pluto can be seen against the backdrop of this larger, more inclusive one. It puts them all in context and allows us to interpret the meaning of each one, including our own. By shifting clockwise almost forty-five degrees at each succeeding conjunction of Neptune and Pluto, Uranus divides the 4,000-year cycle into eight smaller cycles of civilization. Uranus acts as the "hour hand" on the cosmic clock of civilization, showing the place which each period occupies in the larger cycle. You may recognize forty-five degrees as the semi-square, an aspect of friction and dynamic, constructive activity. With the great cycle moving to this rhythm, it's no wonder people have called it "the march of progress" or "civilization's march through history." We certainly haven't been "waltzing" through time-the struggles to build our civilization have brought much change and conflict. So far, we haven't been able to "march forward" without marching soldiers into battle.
When Uranus aligned with the two "planets of civilization" (Neptune and Pluto) in 577 B.C., it set in motion this great cycle (corresponding to Buddha's "wheel of truth"), in which Uranus shifts "backward" through the signs at each conjunction. I find it clearer and more logical, however, to conceive of Uranus as moving "forward" through the 12 "houses." Uranus in 577 B.C. was therefore in a "first house" phase in relation to Neptune and Pluto, and the first cycle (the first of eight in this 4000-year series) had the traits of that house and its ruling sign Aries. During the next conjunction in 83 B.C., some 494 years later, Uranus had shifted back almost forty-five degrees into the Second House, giving the second age the traits of that house and its ruling sign, Taurus. At the next conjunction (A.D. 411), Uranus had shifted back another forty-five degrees, making a total of ninety degrees since the triple conjunction. Uranus was therefore at the cusp of the Third and Fourth Houses, giving this third age of civilization the traits of those houses and their ruling signs (Gemini and Cancer). By the time of the fourth conjunction in the series (A.D.905), Uranus had shifted back 135 degrees into the Fifth House (Leo), and by the fifth conjunction in 1400, it had shifted back almost a full 180 degrees from its original position in 577 B.C. Thus, it was in opposition to the conjunction, marking a halfway point in the 4,000-year cycle. The period took on the traits of the Sixth and Seventh Houses, which are related to the signs Virgo and Libra. This happened just before 1400 A.D., marking the beginning of the Renaissance.
That brings us to our own age, which began with the Neptune-Pluto conjunction of 1892. Ours is the sixth cycle in the series, and Uranus has shifted back 225 degrees into an Eighth House or Scorpio-like position. Our age takes on the traits of that sign of death, rebirth and transformation, and of its potent ruling planet Pluto, discovered in our own century. The seventh age starting in 2385-86 will bring us to the Midheaven and the Ninth and Tenth Houses. We can expect the traits of Sagittarius and Capricorn to come to the fore. The eighth and final cycle starting in 2879 will be the grand climax of the whole series. Since Uranus will be in the Eleventh House, this period will take on the traits of that house and Aquarius, its ruling sign. We can therefore predict that the "Aquarian Age" will come into full flower in that time.
The diagrams on the following pages show the 4,000-year Cosmic Clock of Civilization plotted into a horoscope. The house in which Uranus is located at the time of each conjunction gives us the meaning of each 493-year period.
FIRST HOUSE PHASE: 577 B.C.-83 B.C. The First House Phase was the Classical Age. Since Uranus was in the First House and on the Ascendant, the period had the traits of Aries, the cardinal fire sign. It was an age of new beginnings. In fact, so many bold departures were made that it will take the entire 4,000-year cycle to fully realize them. Never was an age more original or creative. Dramatic plays and sculpture, great literature and architecture, new philosophies and religions laid down the classic models for all the world's civilizations. Buddha set the great wheel of truth in motion. New cities, states, and an entire new system of democracy were founded. We've always looked back to the prophets and visionaries of this age to inspire and guide us, but the practical details were left for future ages. The people of the First House phase kept their heads in the clouds of the mind. The Greeks conceived the ideal Republic, but could not successfully rule themselves. They discovered the laws of nature, but didn't think of ever applying them. The Jews remained the "people of the book," and the sages of the East could not change the world. The Roman Republic failed, and the Celts could never stop fighting each other long enough to consolidate their power.
Aries rules the head and the ego; its motto is "I am." Therefore the great oracle during the First House Phase was "know thyself," not "build the Earth" or "love God." In fact, it was the Greeks who invented the notion of the "individual." As their magnificent art records, the Greeks celebrated themselves and the glory of their own minds and bodies. Success became a matter of personal achievement and fame, and "man" himself became "the measure of all things." The Buddhists also concentrated on the self, although their purpose was to extinguish it. Their approach was equally self-centered, for just as the Greek philosophers conceived absolute truths using only their own minds, the Buddhists monks meditated alone to reach their own private Nirvana.
During phase one, people were active, assertive, and aggressive in the Aries way. Masculine traits were emphasized and feminine ones suppressed. Individuals, cities, and finally states became competing rivals until one state emerged victorious. As is true of all periods that begin with Uranus at the angles (the Ascendant, Nadir, Descendant and Midheaven), this one was unstable and full of wars. Although it was an age of competing equals, some were more equal than others. The masses remained largely separate from the upper classes, as is generally true during all the cycles ruled by cardinal or mutable signs. In Rome, the patricians dominated the plebeians, while India developed its caste system, and most Greek cities were dominated by privileged aristocrats.
SECOND HOUSE PHASE: 83 B.C.-A.D. 411 The Second House phase was the Imperial Age. Uranus in the second house bestowed the traits of fixed earth sign Taurus. This was a time of building and consolidation. The age of empires arrived to complement the age of the classics. In the West, there was Rome. In China, somewhat earlier, there was the Han Dynasty. In India, somewhat later, the Gupta Empire arrived. In Mexico, there was the first Mayan Empire. The creative energy that blossomed in the first phase became power to be harnessed by the empire builders of the second. The restless, competing peoples of the Classical Age were gathered together into a few orderly and magnificent states. The boundless majesty of the Pax Romana replaced the bitter wars between rival city-states and war lords.
Where the First House phase originated, the Second House phase consolidated. Idea became reality and theory became practice. Civilization was put on a solid foundation that enabled it to survive the storms of succeeding ages. The second phase of any great cycle always seeks to pacify, perpetuate, and make practical the unbridled impulses of the first phase. Without the Roman Empire, the glory of Greece would have been lost to the ages, and Christ's words would have remained in the wilderness. Instead of creating new ideas, Rome borrowed and developed them. It embodied the Greek culture and bequeathed it to the world, and later did the same for the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the East, Confucian morals would never have been put into practice without the creation of the Chinese state under the Han Dynasty.
Under earthy Taurus, people took their heads out of the clouds and planted them on solid ground. The Romans were a practical, down-to-earth people, less assertive and creative than the Greeks. They didn't make their castles in the air, as Plato and Confucius did, but in the real world. They were great builders and administrators, not inventors or imaginative thinkers, but what they built was made to last. Roman architecture, in which the first arches and domes were developed, was a great engineering advance. Their own artistic styles were notable for being realistic, especially in the remarkable portraits of ordinary people. As in our day, practical motives dominated artistic ones.
The consolidating ages under fixed signs tend to favor the common people as much as the privileged. For example, although Rome was an empire, her citizens were equals before the law, and racial and class distinctions declined. Slavery diminished and serfdom didn't exist yet. Individual lives became more important than the nation's, since citizens could not identify themselves with the vast empires of that time as easily as with the city-states of Greek times. Like the consolidating age we live in today, Rome was a mass society. Art and culture reflected the needs and tastes of the crowd instead of the philosopher-aristocrat. We need only compare the chariot races and gladiator fights in the Coliseum with our own sports stadiums and horror movies. The arts and fashions of this era reflected personal feelings and tastes, and we get the term "romantic" from Rome.
Religion changed with the times as well, becoming more realistic and worldly. No longer did the spiritual path lead merely to a solitary salvation. In Mahayana Buddhism and Christianity, the new goal was to serve others. Nature regained its divine status in this period, especially in Oriental religions, while cults involving fertility rites and sex rituals proliferated in Rome. In East and West alike, religion responded to the needs and emotional problems of the masses and promised them salvation through the sacrifice of a personal savior. The Buddhist bodhisattva could not rest until every sentient being in the universe was free from the endless wheel of suffering. As religion recovered, philosophy declined. To love became more important than to know, and charity became more valuable than wisdom. In many ways, the Second House phase perpetuated and consolidated the first, but in some ways it was also an antithesis of and reaction to the first. It's interesting, by the way, that Uranus during the conjunction in 83 B.C. was located at the cusp of the signs Pisces and Aries, just as (many astrologers believe) we moved from the Arian to the Piscean Age in which religious faith became dominant. As we'll see, this was also the place of the "Star of Bethlehem" in Jesus' chart.
THIRD/FOURTH HOUSE PHASE: 411-905 With phase three, we arrived at the Nadir, or cusp of the Third and Fourth House. That means the age was ruled by restless Gemini and introverted Cancer. With Uranus at the Nadir, where the Sun is at midnight, it is no wonder that we called this period the Dark Ages. Despite the compelling momentum unleashed by the Classical Age, most of the history that followed seemed like a long decline. People gradually lost the buoyant faith in themselves that had been the source of Greek genius. It was as if the sunlight dimmed and night decscended as we moved toward the dark Nadir of the chart. Life became more burdensome and oppressive, and society turned decadent. Finally, as the Dark Ages opened, many governments just collapsed. Cities became empty and knowledge was forgotten as barbarians trampled through the land.
With Uranus at the Fourth House cusp in the year 411, people turned inward toward spiritual life. St. Augustine pronounced the world and all its pleasures evil, and now the human body once worshipped by the Greeks was considered sinful. Culture was found mostly within the protected sanctuary of the monastery, where the monks could carry on, safe from the turbulence outside. There in typical Fourth House, Cancerian style, they nurtured the growth of a civilization that one day would recover and grow beyond the walls.
These were also the aims of the brilliant new civilization at Byzantium that dominated the age. Here, monuments as majestic as those of the Acropolis in Athens were created, but they evoked awe of the spiritual world instead of celebrating the order and proportion of the human one. At Ravenna, Italy, we see the enlarged eyes of Byzantine mosaic figures gazing inward as if in a trance, their features transformed into monumental symbols. Not until the Renaissance did the natural human figure fully return into art. The Byzantine emperors, patriarchs of a unified church and state, surrounded themselves with the aura of awesome grandeur and Oriental mystery in order to isolate and create a vast distance between themselves and their subjects, who were intensely loyal and patriotic (typically Cancerian). These "Caesaro-papists" of Byzantium were like the ancient emperors of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. Like the monks, the Byzantines protected classical civilization and helped keep it alive for future ages. At the same time, the frightened people of the countryside found protection inside the castle of their Lord. The constant threat from invaders, as well as recurring palace revolutions, kept the Byzantines in a continuous state of fear and paranoia (a mood they passed on to their Russian and Soviet successors).
Although the Nadir represents a low point, it also stands for a "new start."At the bottom we also immediately begin to ascend. Fittingly, we entered the right or western half of the chart just as "Western Civilization" began, though East and West were still marching in lock-step. Devotional Buddhism captured the Orient just when Christianity swept over the West. Both preached mystic contemplation, withdrawal from the world, the renouncing of desire, love and gentleness, and salvation of the soul through faith.
Where phase one originated and phase two perpetuated, phase three dispersed and distributed on a huge scale. The third phase of any cycle always means movement. In this case, we saw the greatest folk migrations and wanderings in history throughout the whole period. As the people moved, they acquired and spread the religion of the dying classical world. With cardinal and mutable signs dominant, people were restless and unsettled, and there was constant war. Kenneth Clark compared the Dark Ages to an American western movie that ran too long-they fought so much of the time that they forgot they had nothing to fight over. Meanwhile, the common people lost everything, and their lot became one of unremitting toil and fear.
Each of the first three phases saw the birth of a major Western religion. Following the usual astrological progression of the "modes" (cardinal, fixed, and mutable signs), the Jews were the originators, and thus by nature cardinal. In the first phase they became the "people of the book," creating the basic moral principles and ideas. The Christians gave them a solid, fixed foundation through the "incarnation" of Jesus and a powerful state church. Thus, the Christians were fixed by nature. The Moslems distributed these things worldwide through their conquests in the Seventh Century, and transmitted ancient civilization to the future through their scholarship. Islam was the mutable religion in this great series.
FIFTH HOUSE PHASE: 905-1399 The Fifth House phase was the Age of Chivalry. It was dominated by the hierarchical Order of Feudalism and the Catholic Church. Uranus in the Fifth House gave the age the glory, pageantry, and romance of the sign Leo. Momentum shifted as the barbarian peoples organized themselves and rapidly reduced chaos to order. Peace and stability returned under consolidating, fixed sign Leo, as people in both East and West found their place in the social order under a universal church (Catholicism in the West, Islam in the Middle East, and Buddhism in the East). A definite role was prescribed for each person, and everyone stayed within the bounds of the village, manor, and church district into which they were born. In return, society gave each person specific rights through feudal contracts and charters, and the prosperous and growing cities offered many new opportunities.
This phase demonstrated beyond any doubt the cultural influence of the Fifth House and Leo. The code of Honour and Chivalry, developed by the epic poets and troubadours portraying the exploits of knights in shining armor seeking the Holy Grail, is the signature of this age. During this era we find the famous English king Richard I, known as Coeur de Lion-the "Lion Heart." Leo's creative potential was revealed by the greatest religious art and architecture ever created. Fifth House sports and gamesmanship was certainly reflected by jousts, tournaments, and competitions for the favor of a lady's hand. In fact, the troubadours gave us our first glimpse of the ideal of romantic love, which has become so important to us. Its mythic tales, wizardry and heraldry make this age the one most attractive to fantasy buffs today. The Leo tendency toward romance is also expressed in the cult of worship for that most lovely of ladies, the Virgin Mary. The many religious cults and pilgrimages in which the faithful millions participated certainly shows how, in this fixed-sign period, the common people had a powerful effect on the culture, as they did in Roman times. If Leo's pride was too often expressed in the willful ambitions of kings and bishops, it was also reflected in the traditions of every Western family, whose name and heritage originates in this era.
The Fifth House phase continued to emphasize the same spiritual and otherworldly interests that dominated the previous phase, just as the Romans perpetuated Greek rationalism. However, the "light of the world" began to return as we moved up toward the horizon again. The wondrous colors beaming through the beautiful Rose Windows of medieval cathedrals were meant to convey God's presence in the world. Medieval philosophers sought to reconcile reason and faith. Toward the end of this phase, the exaggerated heights of Gothic architecture leveled off, while the more worldly ambitions of politicians and bankers expanded. The Black Plague cast doubt on whether religion alone could help the people cope with their suffering. St. Francis proclaimed our brother and sisterhood with nature, and it was to nature that the philosophers of the next phase would turn (although unlike St. Francis, they would not be teaching the spiritual practice of poverty!)
This phase completed the first half of the 4,000-year Great Cycle between triple conjunctions, synthesizing the previous three ages. The Medieval synthesis brought church and state, God and Nature, inspiration and intellect, and even classic and romantic, into a precarious balance not attained before or since. We look back to this period as the shining source of civilization as we know it today, with its now-decaying institutions, customs and traditions. The radiance of Leo could be seen in the cultures of almost every people on Earth, from the second flowering of Byzantium and the epic poems and exotic minarets of Islam, to the wonderful works of the Sung Dynasty in China. The Sung period was the greatest and still-unsurpassed synthesis of Chinese culture, as its many inventions and wonderful tapestries demonstrate. Although there was much to fear in the world of those days, this was indeed a great "age of faith" worldwide-a wonderful climax of civilization.
SIXTH/SEVENTH HOUSE PHASE: 1399-1892 The houses in the upper half of horoscope, which begin at the Descendant, always extend the range of their opposite houses in the lower half. With the Sixth/Seventh House phase we came to the halfway point of the cycle, as Uranus opposed Neptune and Pluto a few years before they joined in 1399. In effect, we emerged back above the horizon into the light of the world. This phase was also closely related to the opposite First House phase, each opening one-half of the Great Cycle. Both were periods of "new beginnings." This was the era of the Renaissance, which claimed to be the "rebirth" of classical times. Since Uranus was in the Sixth House near the cusp of the Seventh, this phase was linked to both Virgo and Libra. Like Aries, which ruled the Classical Age, Libra is a cardinal sign.
Renaissance humanists, like the classical Greeks, celebrated the glory of human beings who were endowed with the power and intelligence of the gods and could "do all things if they will." Humanity began shifting its focus away from the supernatural and the spiritual, and back toward material achievement, success, and glory on Earth. Just as in Greek times, the natural human figure re-emerged to replace the stiff, monumental forms of the old religious style. Architects made sure that their buildings evoked a human and worldly scale and expressed balance, harmony, and mathematical proportion (the traits of Libra). Religious rebels declared that the light of God could be found in the human heart through study of His word, now that the printing press made it possible for all believers to read the Bible for themselves.
Since the Descendant is the Western horizon, civilization centered in the West during this phase far more than during others. As soon as it began, European explorers boldly ventured westward to explore "beyond the far horizon," while the Chinese pulled back into their cocoon. Since the Descendant also rules "the other," the West sought to "discover" and conquer other peoples and places. Uranus in the Sixth House bestowed the traits of scientific Virgo, as the voyages of discovery stimulated our ability to test, experiment with, and analyze the world. Knowledge continued to expand as we increasingly questioned authorities and superstitions.
The characteristics of harmonious Libra were reflected in the growth of classical music and art, and in the period's emphasis on politics and diplomacy. Society again became elitist, as power concentrated in the central royal bureaucracies that replaced "feudal anarchy," and these competing kings and aristocrats became the patrons and arbiters of what was defined as "art" and "culture." Even so, enterprising and daring men (though not yet women) could find great success and fame. Like the ancient Greeks whom they emulated, the "Renaissance men" of this cardinal/mutable phase were individualistic and aggressive, and the great kingdoms they created became competing "great powers." Unlike the Classic Age, however, the Renaissance did not turn inward on the self. Instead, it was eager to experience, discover, and master the outer visible world. It was not so much an original or creative civilization as it was inventive. It was able to expand on and apply ideas in very useful and profitable ways.
EIGHTH HOUSE PHASE: 1892-2385 Our own phase bears the traits of the Eighth House and its sign, Scorpio. Just as the Renaissance revived the Classical Age, so ours has seen the building of new empires, with the United States (and perhaps eventually a global government) as the new "Rome." The U.S. and its former adversary Russia are, in fact, historically descended from the Western and Eastern parts of the Roman Empire which split in two at the end of the second phase in A.D. 411. Despite the Scorpio-like turmoil at the start of our age, Scorpio is a fixed sign, so this will be a phase of increasing stability, much as the Pax Romana followed the struggles of the early Caesars. The new age of peace is emerging from the crucible of conflict, just as the phoenix of new life rises from the ashes of death.
Unlike the Romans, who were ruled by the opposite sign Taurus, we are not laying down foundations for future ages, but uprooting the foundations of the past in an Age of Revolution. Under Scorpio we are probing, questioning, or destroying everything we have received from previous ages so we can transform and revitalize ourselves. Our times are a "purification by fire," in which humanity faces annihilation unless it learns to live together as one. The life-threatening results of our Scorpionic greed is forcing a transformation through vivid spiritual experiences connecting us to each other and the planet. We are called not just to meet and conquer other peoples, as in the previous phase, but to renew ourselves by joining them in true interdependence. Our task in fixed sign Scorpio is to revitalize the original ideals of the "Axis Age" 2,500 years ago. To do this, we must eliminate those aspects of our legacy from the classical age which now inhibit and block us. Another great Scorpionic quest of our time is to explore the unexplained mysteries of life and spirit. Our Scorpio traits are doubly emphasized by the fact that Uranus in 1892 was not only in an eighth house phase on the Cosmic Clock of Civilization, but was actually transiting the sign Scorpio as well-- and in an exactly corresponding degree! In effect, as the forward motion through the signs (the transits) and the backward motion through the houses (on the Cosmic Clock) meet each other, we are learning to press forward and fall backward at once. Our challenge is to merge inner and outer, past and future, yin and yang, male and female, East and West.
With Uranus in the financial Eighth House, practical and economic motives dominate our lives as they did in Roman times. Our Eighth-House ability to share and pool resources has created our enormously successful corporate economy. Even more than the Romans, people today have many rights and legal protections. It's almost as if Rome has been magnified a thousandfold and spread across the whole planet. Ours is a mass culture that caters to the needs and desires of the people, but frequently descends into mediocrity and consumerism as a result. We feel alienated from the huge institutions that run our lives. But the Scorpio ability to penetrate to the roots gives our age an enormous creative potential. When we look beyond the economic "bottom line," we moderns sense the powerful mystery and wonder at the heart of all creation. As the poet Baudelaire wrote, "modern is romantic." As natives of the fixed water sign, emotional satisfaction is as important to us as technical power, and our deepest goal is to transform ourselves. Our alienation won't end until we can all tune in to the vibrant energy of our whole planet (or the "noosphere," as Teilhard de Chardin called it). As in Roman times, once again our only "salvation" is to identify ourselves with a larger Being, just as the Romans eventually gave their souls to Christ.
NINTH/TENTH HOUSE PHASE: 2385-2878 With Uranus in the Ninth House near the cusp of the Tenth, in 2385 we will have arrived at the Midheaven, where the Sun is at Noon. That means the next period of civilization could be one of great illumination, for if Uranus at the Nadir was the Dark Ages, Uranus at the Midheaven will be the Age of Light.1 Since the Ninth and Tenth Houses are linked to Sagittarius and Capricorn, and represent the highest parts of the horoscope, we will seek the light of the spirit not by retreating into the monastery or the castle, but by expanding out into the universe in all its dimensions. Once again we will be under mutable and cardinal signs, so the times will be restless and unstable, and there could be a huge migration of peoples. This probably means we will move out into the solar system and the galaxy in this period. We can expect to emerge from our transformation on planet Earth under Scorpio renewed and ready to explore the vast realms of inner and outer space. This time, perhaps Eastern peoples will lead the way (instead of retreating, as in 1400).
Under Sagittarius, we can expect people of the Ninth/Tenth House phase to be wise and well traveled. New forms of expression will emerge that celebrate our all-encompassing vision of the cosmos, but many people may be left behind by all the change and dislocation. An effort will be needed if the new opportunities are to be made available to all. Since the ninth and tenth houses will be combined, we will see Church and State come together again as they did in the Middle Ages, but in an open, global society. Humanity will conceive new principles of how to live together and relate to others in the galaxy, as our social maturity finally catches up with our technological prowess.
ELEVENTH HOUSE PHASE: 2878-3372 The Eleventh House Phase will be the final consummation of the preceding seven ages-perhaps a wonderful, glorious expression of the "Age of Aquarius," since the Eleventh House is linked to that fixed air sign. Certainly, if the "new age" ever arrives, it will have done so by then. Uranus in the Eleventh House will expand the "code of chivalry" of the corresponding Fifth House phase into a "code of friendship and association" in which all people will act as brothers and sisters. The benefits of the new society will be distributed widely so that all may share in them. We can expect great feats of construction that surpass anything we can imagine today (even the great cathedrals), and brilliant epic poets who, as in the days of Homer, will express the significance of the whole human adventure. Earth will arrive at a stable and peaceful grand synthesis and prepare itself for the new 4,000-year cycle that will begin with the triple conjunction in A.D. 3370. The transition to the new cycle in 3370 may be difficult, though, since humanity will face still more karma from its activities over the past 4,000 years.
EAST AND WEST Uranus in astrology represents "breaks and estrangements." It happened that when Uranus joined Neptune and Pluto at the beginning of the 4,000-year Great Cycle in the Sixth Century B.C., the world's culture began to break into East and West. At first, however, the great awakening on both sides of the world had much in common. Socrates and Confucius both sought the principles of a moral life and a just society, and both Plato and Buddha taught us how to transcend desire. Skeptics undermined old beliefs everywhere, and great teachers spoke of humanity as the spiritual essence of a universal God. Nature was still thought of as a living organism in both cultures.
It was in the Sixth Century B.C., however, that the historical current began separating into two streams. In the West, beginning with Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras and Aristotle, science and mathematics began to move toward the mastery of nature, and "enlightenment" meant discovering the underlying rational principles of all things. The West also became teleological, propelled by the messianic faith of the "chosen people" in the "Second Coming," and later by the Protestant ethic, while God stood above and outside nature and human beings, ruling over the universe from Heaven. The West moves aggressively toward an ultimate goal. It is the masculine, yang, left brain of world culture; always on the move and rarely at peace. With its all-conquering science and technology, Western culture has mastered the outer world and inspired other peoples with its adventurous spirit, but it knows little of its own soul, and faces moral and spiritual bankruptcy as a result. The West is the culture most specifically linked to Uranus as it marches through its great 4,000-year cycle, forming dynamic, discordant squares, semi-squares and oppositions to Neptune and Pluto on its way.
The East, on the other hand, is the feminine, yin, right brain of the world mind. Starting with the Upanishads and the Buddha, Eastern "enlightenment" has always meant inner awakening, not outer knowledge. God is the divine nature within each human being, and the universe is conceived as a harmonious whole. The East became an exotic, Neptunian Shangri-La, quietly and serenely refining its exquisite culture. Although it fell behind the West technologically, its psychology became far more advanced. While Western crusaders marched noisily across the world, Eastern sages calmly pursued their quest into the profound mysteries and powers of the psyche. They mastered the soul, but neglected the world, so the culture stagnated and left itself vulnerable to eventual Western conquest.
The center of Western culture has moved steadily westward throughout its history. From its origins in Mesopotamia, it moved through Egypt, Crete, and Palestine to Greece, Rome, Germany, France, Spain, and England. When Uranus reached the western horizon in the Renaissance, Western Civilization ventured across that very horizon-sailing its ships over the Atlantic to America. Today (as we'll see later) it is centered in California, reaching out once more towards the sea. Now (as World War II established) there's no land left for the West to grab, and as we launch ourselves onto the boundless Pacific seas, we are meeting the current flowing eastward. For as the West has moved east, the East has moved west-for example, witness the travels of Buddhism from India through China to Japan. As the currents meet, the West discovers the wisdom of the mystic East, just as the East adopts Western industrialism and capitalism.
THE HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL AXES We can get vital information on the past and the future from the Cosmic Clock of Civilization by considering the two axes of the horoscope diagram. At the horizon, or east-west axis, we find ourselves on the same level with the world. From this vantage point, things are seen on a human scale, and we expand ourselves along the plane of the Earth. We believe we humans are "equal" to the world's tasks, and movements toward human equality begin. The horizon is therefore the humanist axis, and the 1,000-year periods that begin when Uranus is at the horizon are humanist and worldly. This was the case with Greece and Rome, and also with the Renaissance and modern times. It's interesting that the Greeks went due east to conquer Persia and India, while Europe went due west to conquer America.
At the vertical meridian, or North-South Axis, we are either looking up from or down to the world. We expand into other planes of experience rather than across the earth plane, and we seek a deeper source of divine strength. Humanity stands in fearful awe of the supernatural, translating its visions into legendary stories and lofty works of stone. Society is organized vertically into a hierarchy of unequals. The meridian is therefore the otherworldly axis, and so ages of civilization that begin when Uranus is at the Nadir or Midheaven are otherworldly and/or spiritual. The Middle Ages cowered in fear before the Almighty and built towering monuments toward heaven. There was also an otherworldly "dark age" in Greece before classical Greek times, and a simultaneous "feudal age" in China before Confucius. The Greek myths, Homeric stories, Chinese odes, Indian Vedas, and huge Egyptian temples of the thousand years before the Sixth Century B.C. have their counterparts in the later Medieval cathedrals and legends of chivalry. Today, we are moving toward a future age beginning in 2385 that will also be otherworldly, but where Medieval Humanity looked up from Earth to a God in the sky, future Humanity will look down from the sky to the God/Goddess on Earth. Society will be organized in a true hierarchy of spiritual attainment.
Whether we are moving up or down in the Great Cycle seems to affect our view of history. We have been moving upward from the Nadir since A.D. 411, so we have come to believe in "progress," as opposed to the ancients of Greek and Roman times who were moving downward from the heights of the Midheaven, and thought of their world as declining. They looked back to a lost arcadian "golden age," while we see it coming in the future. By 2385, however, we will have arrived back at the top of the wheel. Perhaps then"progress" will end and paradise will return, only to be succeeded by another "decline," or perhaps by then we will have outgrown these deceptive myths!
Using this same Cosmic Clock, we can see the cycle (popularized by Joseph Campbell) in which the great Western civilizations have risen and declined through three stages-spiritual, political, and economic. In his view, a new civilization is full of creative energy, inspired by vibrant spiritual and religious experiences. Myths and imagery guide and uplift the people. As the culture begins to lose touch with its original vitality, however, political motives take over. Finally, the spirit is lost altogether and the culture is concerned only about economic security. On the other hand, power and opportunity are given to more people as time goes on. In this sense there is "progress" as well as decline. Campbell pointed out that each of these stages was demonstrated in Western history by which kind of building dominated the urban landscape. In the medieval town the first thing you saw when you entered it was the cathedral, while in the Renaissance town it was the palace, and in the modern city it is the bank or commercial office building.
We can trace this process more or less repeating itself three times in the history of Western civilization, corresponding to the 2,000-year movement up and down the vertical axis of the Great Cycle. Western European culture began in the Dark Ages at the otherworldly angle of the Nadir in 411. Spirituality dominated while Uranus was in the Fourth and Fifth Houses of the Great Cycle. When it passed into the Seventh House of "relationships" in the Renaissance, politics and diplomacy became dominant, while our own times are ruled by the economic concerns and corporate power of the Eighth House of "shared resources."
The same pattern happened with Greek and Roman cultures, which began at the Midheaven in 1565 B.C. In their first thousand years as Uranus passed through the Tenth and Twelfth Houses, the Greeks created their great myths and stories. When Uranus reached the assertive First House in 575 B.C., political power became all important in the affairs of both cultures. Economic concerns took first place in the Roman Empire when Uranus reached the Second House of money.
We see the same in the ancient Near East. Five thousand years ago, the vibrant cities of Sumeria were religious centers where the first great myth (the Epic of Gilgamesh) was born. The Sumerians built great temples during the thousand years when Uranus was moving up from the Nadir of 3539 B.C. After Uranus reached the Descendant in 2552 B.C., the first great law codes were created at Ur, and aristocrats increasingly took power from the priests. Warfare increased (Seventh House) and the first empire (Sargon I) appeared. As Ur fell to Babylon (Eighth House, the parallel to our times), increasing disorder and uncertainty caused people to depend more and more on money and possessions for security. The wars had dispersed the land and wealth among the people, and this stimulated the growth of commerce.
THE FOUR QUADRANTS The horoscope is further divided into four quadrants, which mirror Jung's four psychological functions. Intuition (or conception) is linked to the lower east quadrant, feeling to the lower west, sensation to the upper west, and thinking to the upper east. When we tie these meanings of the four quadrants to the Cosmic Clock of Civilization, we find that they reveal the way in which people of the various periods understood and functioned in their world. (See the diagram below.)
The houses below the horizon (the humanist axis) are subjective and personal, while the houses above the horizon are objective and interpersonal. The eastern half of the horoscope is self-reliant and self-aware, while the western half is in relationship and aware of others. The first or lower-east quadrant is subjective self awareness (which means intuition), and the second or lower-west quadrant is subjective awareness of others (or feeling). The third or upper-west quadrant is objective awareness of others (sensation), while the fourth or upper-east quadrant is objective self-awareness (thinking). The horizon represents immediate, direct experience (intuition on the east, sensation on the west). The meridian or vertical axis represents indirect experience and interpretation (feeling at the Nadir, thinking at the Midheaven).
The first quadrant from 577 B.C. to A.D. 411 (the classical world), extending from the Ascendant to the Nadir, functioned by intuition. Certainly, that describes the meditating Buddha and his followers, who gained intense, direct experience of four "noble truths." The Greeks were intuitive in a different way, seeking knowledge for its own sake and the first principles underlying all things. They arrived at their ideas not by experiment, but by conceiving. The Pythagorean theorem, Plato's forms, Archimedean mechanics, and Confucian sayings are examples of intuitive first principles that illuminated the entire world.
The Medieval world from 411 to 1399 (from the Nadir to the Descendant) fell into the quadrant of feeling. In this age, religions like Christianity reigned supreme over human minds. Certainly, "feeling" describes how emotionally devoted the Christians were to their savior and to the saints and relics of their faith, and how they cowered in fear and terror before God's judgment. No longer content with mere first principles, Medieval Christians used them in their emotional judgments of people as good or evil. Although the Greeks and Jews had conceived moral principles, Augustine and his successors from 413 onwards converted evil into "sin." Medieval philosophers took over the classical ideas and built on them an elaborate system of categories with which to interpret and order their lives.
Our modern world from 1399 to 2385 (from the Descendant to the Midheaven) certainly functions by sensation. As the light of Uranus came over the horizon in the West in Renaissance times, philosophers and scientists announced that "seeing is believing." Explorers promptly ventured forth to discover the external, visible world. The scientific method depends on sensation for evidence to prove its claims. Modern thinkers rigorously stick to the facts of experience on which subsequent analysis is based. We seek all kinds of sensations and experiences for their own sake, and the media creates "sensational" cult heroes. Unlike the ancients, we do not depend on our own minds alone for the truth. Ancient principles were static and based on truths supposed to be eternal. Modern principles are dynamic and must be tested and put into practice within the laboratory of experience. Our quadrant is the most worldly and pragmatic of all, applying the results of our experiments to generate material benefits on a scale never before imagined.
In time, our vivid personal experiences and practical knowledge will lead us back to a new age of faith, due when we reach the Midheaven in 2385 and enter the quadrant of thinking. This will not be the kind of thinking we know today, however, because the Midheaven is otherworldly and indirect as well as objective. The new type of thinking will revive the mythic, interpretive approach that is based on hidden, subtle truths rather than obvious ones, suggesting and evoking its conclusions instead of directly stating them. The epics, odes, and Vedas of pre-classical times that fell in the same quadrant are examples of this kind of thinking. As in Medieval times, we can expect elaborate systems of thought that interpret the meaning of the experiences that our modern world has so thoroughly observed and analyzed. The new Holistic thought will embue knowledge with significance; it will be richly and deeply symbolic of spiritual ideas and magical rites, like the mythologies of old.
We of the Eighth House or Scorpio period bear a special responsibility to transform ourselves so that this process of evolution can continue. As Dane Rudhyar has suggested, at the beginning of our Great Cycle, when the Greeks rejected the old myths and gods in favor of rational knowledge and abstract ideals, we lost our instinctive sense of quality. We became separate individuals and began to destroy the collective sense of community which more "primitive" peoples possess. We divided God from nature and began losing our sense of the Earth as sacred and alive. If we are to further our original quest to become free, conscious human beings in a universally valid moral order, we must go back to our roots 2,500 years ago, heal these rifts within us, and rediscover the sacred in all things.
Chapter 5 Endnotes
1. Thanks to Professor Marie Fox for the phrase "Age of Light" to describe this period.
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