Chapter 4 THE FORTUNES OF CIVILIZATION (The Neptune-Pluto Cycle)

by E. Alan Meece

from Horoscope for the New Millennium (copyright 1997 Llewellyn Publications and E. Alan Meece)

Far beyond the Sun's light, the two most distant planets of our solar system make their way slowly and serenely through the eerie, silent expanses of space. Within the vast panorama of planetary cycles, theirs is the one rhythm that underlies all the others. It is the base note of the cosmic symphony, and the drumbeat of all civilization. With it we can chart the fortunes of Humanity.

This is the rhythm of mystical, mysterious Neptune, and dark, potent Pluto. Every 493 years they line up in conjunction. When they do, a new surge of cosmic energy is released to renew and transform the peoples of Earth. Old empires dissolve and ancient institutions crumble. Almost overnight art, science and religion take radically different directions, and people change their whole outlook on life. The world's political structure is revamped too. A New Age of civilization has begun which lasts until the next conjunction some 493+ years later.

Although the first effects of the Neptune-Pluto conjunction are felt immediately, the new tone echoes across the landscape for decades afterward. A troubled "time of transition" begins that continues for 100 years or more. But then the magic moment arrives. It has never failed to happen; about 100 years or more after the conjunction the pieces fall into place, and Humanity celebrates a magnificent sunrise. Creative energy bursts forth, as the Earth blooms with spectacular spiritual worlds made visible. The phoenix has risen from the ashes; we have passed through the valley of death and reached the mountain top of new life. A great renaissance of the human spirit has begun.

Before reading on in this chapter, think for a moment. When have periods like this happened in history? You might even want to write down a list of these times of transformation. Verify for yourself if they correspond to the dates when Neptune and Pluto came together in conjunction, which are mentioned below.

Considering the shape of the world today, it should come as no surprise that we have recently been living through such a time of transition. The world wars in the first half of the 20th Century shook up a system that had lasted a thousand years. Every reigning empire was struck down during a nightmare of horror which has no precedent in human history. Technology has threatened to end all life on the planet. But the unsettled seas from this explosion have lasted for decades now. The most remarkable fact to consider is this: the period of transition is over. It is time for the dawn which follows the darkness, because the last conjunction of Neptune and Pluto happened over 100 years ago; in 1892. These planets have been sending us an unmistakable message: "a change is happening!" We must realize that we are in a new age-- and act accordingly. A vast new cycle of civilization has begun that will last until the next Neptune-Pluto conjunction in 2385.


The 1890s are an historical laboratory in which we can watch the yeasty forces of dissolution and transformation brewing and bubbling away. The people living in that remarkable decade witnessed the deepest and most pervasive change since ancient times; it was as if one world had begun and another had passed away. This was the first Neptune-Pluto conjunction since either planet had been known, so it was more significant than ever. You can feel the process of metamorphosis emanating even today from the 1890s; its upheavals still sweep through every corner of society and deep into our own personal lives.

Just picture how drastically different our world is from the horse and buggy era of the 19th Century. More inventions than at any time in history before or since radically transformed our planet in the 1890s. It was then, for example, that the world was set on wheels. And not only did we take to the air in the new airplanes, but thanks to Marconi's invention in 1895 we can now send our thoughts through the air on radio waves too. With the movie camera (1891), the modern newspaper, and later on television, we arrived in our mass media world.

The qualities of Neptune and Pluto pervaded all of society in the 1890s. Europe, for example, was caught up in the mood of "hypersensitivity and decadence." Others reveled in the imaginative clouds of the mind in an atmosphere resembling the drug culture of the 1960s. Artists, always the first to mirror changes in civilization, reached a watershed moment in the 1890s, as Cezanne, Gaugain, Van Gogh and others broke from the 500-year old Renaissance traditions of realism. Soon the wildest forms and visions imaginable were appearing on their canvases. Old classic forms tumbled too in the music of Debussy and Ravel and the spontaneous expressions of jazz and ragtime. Meanwhile forests of skyscrapers spread from their breeding ground in Chicago in the 1890s, and soon they towered into the skies over every city. Other cultural earthquakes transformed the world of the mind. Issac Newton's view of reality had stood for over 200 years until Einstein and the quantum theorists overturned it. Psychological "certainties" were destroyed too when Sigmund Freud opened up the subconscious in the 1890s and invented psychology as we know it. Thinkers like Bergson and Nietzsche simultaneously shattered our unquestioned faith in science and religion. The search for the "new paradigm" began.

But the most noticeable world changes are usually political, and here too the events of the 1890s were crucial. The Populist movement in America began in 1892 and ultimately led to the triumph of bureaucracy in the New Deal. Russia started on the road to revolution. And in Germany Kaiser Wilhelm II came to the throne in 1888 and soon afterward geared up his new war machine for action. An arms race ensued that led directly to the Holocaust from 1914 to 1945 which almost wiped Europe off the map. Probably no event in history did more to change the world than the First World War. What a list of imperial victims: the German, Austrian, Russian and Turkish Empires all fell. Then the Second World War destroyed the colonial empires, and the "second" and "third" worlds emerged. The United States and the Soviet Union gained world dominance for a while, but their imperialistic careers also ended later on in Vietnam and Afghanistan. In 1893 the war between China and Japan set these two Oriental nations on the road to become great powers, the first of many in the Third World to challenge The West.

From 1914 dates the crisis of modern times. The Great War was a form of mass suicide. The World Wars discredited the ideals of the past, and afterwards Oswald Spengler pronounced "the decline of the West." Since then we have found many other methods of destroying ourselves. Before the rude awakening in 1914, however, the world was on its way to new life. We must never forget that fact; a wonderful renaissance, begun in the 1890s, was growing before the Great Wars snuffed it out. And it continues still beneath the rubble of today's broken world. The Neptune-Pluto conjunction gives us the most basic insight into our times; an old world has died, and a new one is being born. And surely it is accelerating as we cross into the New Millennium.


The conjunction between Neptune and Pluto in 1892 is therefore indeed a hopeful sign. But is one example enough to convince us that we live at a time of rebirth? If the fortunes of civilization really march in tune with Neptune and Pluto, then every such conjunction in the past should have coincided with similar radically-transforming moments and times of transition like the 1890s. And every time we should have emerged into a vibrant new renaissance.

From the 493-plus year Neptune-Pluto rhythm we can draw the following pattern of dates stretching back from 1892: 1399, 905, 411, 83 B.C., 577 B.C. When we investigate these dates, we see the course of our own history repeating itself and providing hopeful precedents for our own renaissance of today. For example, the Italian (and European) Renaissance started in Florence precisely during the conjunction of 1399-1400. Beginning with Ghiberti's design for the cathedral doors there in 1400, artists like Donatello and Masaccio created a new style that emphasized our place in the world. Meanwhile prophecies of doom spread across a land still recuperating from the devastating Black Plague. The Church was in the midst of a turbulent Great Schism out of which the Reformation developed. Simultaneously the rulers of all the major states of Europe and Asia began a struggle for power and national unity. In 1399 Henry Bolingbroke usurped the English throne, eventually provoking the Wars of the Roses that brought the powerful Tudor Dynasty of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I to power. In 1400 Tamarlane marched across Asia, and 50 years later his Turkish hordes captured Byzantium and founded the Turkish Empire. The Tsars of Russia arose and took over the mantle of fallen Byzantium. Meanwhile in the early 15th Century Portuguese sailors were making the first of those voyages of exploration that would soon make Europeans the masters of the Earth. Indeed Chinese navigators were venturing out at exactly the same time, but were stopped by their new Ming rulers; thereby leaving their insular and backward country open to eventual Western conquest. The Aztecs rose to power in Mexico around the time of the conjunction of 1400, only to be conquered themselves a century later by the Spanish under Cortez.

One hundred years after the start of all this struggle and strife, Europe had literally entered a New World. Columbus' voyage of discovery opened fantastic opportunities. The famous Renaissance that had begun 100 years earlier now lifted the West out of the Middle Ages. Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Durer created Humanity's greatest works of art. The Reformation gave new life to Christianity. The Renaissance quickly spread to France under Francis I, to Spain in the "Age of Gold," and climaxed in England under Elizabeth I. Meanwhile Ming China created fantastic painting, pottery and wooden sculpture. And in India a great rebirth came in the mid-16th Century, almost simultaneously with the one in Europe, as the new Mogul rulers brought peace and unity and sponsored a temple architecture later made famous by the Taj Mahal. Even the Turks had their golden age under Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566).

The Renaissance came right on schedule. Is the time ripe now for us to open up "new worlds" too? If it happened once, it can happen again. In fact, it has happened again many times, just at the appointed hour.

If we go back another 493-plus years to 905 we come to the turbulent age in which the Catholic Medieval civilization was born. At that time the invading Vikings, Saracens and Magyars were spreading fire and destruction across Europe. But right during the conjunction new institutions were created to roll back the barbarian tide. In 911 Henry the Fowler founded the dynasty that built the Holy Roman Empire. In 910 the Cluniac reform movement began in the Catholic Church, spearheading a revival of learning and devotion. Soon the churches were organized into a powerful coalition that became the greatest power in Europe. Around 900 Alfred the Great and his son founded England. Soon afterward the royal dynasties of France were founded; as were those of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Russia. After centuries of turmoil the Byzantine Empire also began a "second great flowering" around 900. Elsewhere, the once powerful, prosperous Tang Dynasty collapsed in China in 907, bringing a highly artistic culture to an end there; half a world away the great Mayan civilization of Guatemala died at about the same time.

But once again a great rebirth was under way a hundred years later, just when the masses of faithful feared "the end of the world;" as many do today. With the support of their new political institutions, Tenth Century artists created the Medieval Christian styles of art and sculpture; by 1000 A.D. the Ottonian Renaissance flourished. The Romanesque style which spread from the Abbey of Cluny culminated in the great cathedrals. The once-dreaded Norse invaders were now becoming Europe's new rulers, and one of their number even beat Columbus to America by 500 years! In China too the Sung dynasty arose to replace the Tang, and by the 11th Century its subtle landscape painting, its inventions (the compass, block printing, etc.) and its spiritual culture made the Sung period China's greatest golden age ever. Meanwhile a new Mayan Empire arose in 1027 in central Mexico. And after centuries of chaos, the Tamils of Southern India produced some of their greatest sculpture and architecture at the very same moment. A great renaissance of faith in East and West had dawned. Once again, the world had destroyed and renewed itself.

Back another 493 years we come to a date we all recognize as the Fall of Rome. In 410 A.D. (just one year before the exact Neptune-Pluto conjunction of 411), Alaric the Visigoth conquered the city. This huge catastrophe brought the great age of antiquity to an end and ushered in the Dark Ages. Government and cities collapsed and knowledge was forgotten. Immediately St. Augustine wrote The City of God (413), which advised Humanity to build its empires in heaven now that the eternal city had crumbled on Earth. It became the basis of all Christian theology. Artists too became otherworldly, turning away from classical styles and pursuing abstract ones instead. Almost simultaneously the powerful Tsin Dynasty collapsed in China, and a similar religious revival ensued. A great empire arose in Ghana in Africa.

But although in 410 most people thought civilization had ended forever, this didn't prevent a glorious new one from blossoming out of its eastern remains at Byzantium! Under Justinian around 520, some of the world's most beautiful religious architecture and mosaic paintings were created at Ravenna (San Vitale) and Constantinople (Sancta Sophia). Byzantine art, law and culture inspired and dominated Europe for a thousand years, protected it from invaders and helped transmit ancient culture to the modern world. Meanwhile Theodoric, Clovis and others set up new barbarian kingdoms around 500 A.D. in The West and promoted Christianity. And in 522 St. Benedict created European monasticism, a new way of life dedicated to spiritual, inward devotion. At the same time Hinduism revived in India and Buddhism was brought to Japan. And in America the great Mayan cities of Guatemala were rising even as the eternal city of Rome fell; their golden age began around 500. So even in the so-called "darkest hour of civilization," the pattern held magnificently and the world bloomed with a renaissance.

Another cycle back brings us to the rise of the Empire which fell in 411 A.D. The dictator Sulla ended the faltering Roman Republic precisely at the stroke of the new cycle in 84-83 B.C. In the next few decades Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassius carried out the famous bloody conquests which made Rome the world's greatest empire, one which laid the basis for all future Western civilization. It is no accident that historians have more information by far about the 60 turbulent years following the Neptune-Pluto conjunction of 83 B.C. than about any other period before modern times. It was a very crucial turning point!

But it ended with the victory of Augustus, whose rule ushered in the Pax Romana. It was the longest period of world peace so far in history. The new Roman Empire became the closest thing to a universal state that has ever existed, and it extended the benefits of law and culture to all its citizens. Rome celebrated its golden age about 60 to 120 years after the conjunction. Even its name, the "Augustan Age," has come to stand for any classic or golden age in a nation's history. The renewal was made visible in sculpture in the Acra Pacis (Altar of Peace) in 8 B.C., and flowered in the literature of Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Livy and Seneca; among the most distinguished poets in the Western tradition. This golden rebirth was vividly celebrated and impressed upon the people in a huge ceremony, the "Ludi Saeculares" or "Saeculum." Apparently the Roman citizens had inside information about the then still-invisible planetary cycle, for in their own occult tradition a saeculum is a 100 to 110-year period in which the entire human race is renewed; the same period described by the cycle of civilization! And how except by occult means can you explain the fact that even as the forums and aqueducts were being built during Rome's golden age, the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon were being erected during the Mayans' first golden age at Teotihuacan at the same time-- half a world away in Mexico? Or that simultaneously the new Funan empire was rising in Indochina?

But while the Caesars and other emperors were celebrating their glory, a different sort of "kingdom" was being proclaimed. Almost exactly 100 years after the conjunction of Neptune and Pluto, Jesus of Nazareth inaugurated the religion that would later take over the Empire. Christianity was only the most successful of the many religions and cults that arose at this time to meet a spiritual hunger that would grow throughout the Roman Empire's 500-year reign. The same impulse stirred in the Orient too, where the famous devotional tract The Bhagavad-Gita was begun at about the time of the conjunction. A new sect of Buddhism also developed (The Mahayana) which stressed personal salvation and faith much the way Christianity did in the West.


Tracing back one more cycle we come to the greatest turning point of all. What happened during the years following the Neptune and Pluto conjunction of 577 B.C. has reverberated through the centuries. For this conjunction was an extra-special cosmic event. Around 575 it was joined by Uranus, symbol of enlightenment, making a spectacular triple conjunction of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. It was an extraordinary union of all three planets of the transcendental trinity; the first and only such alignment in the history of civilization. It was also the closest of its kind in tens of thousands of years.

Many of the momentous developments that followed this grandest planetary event in history are quite famous. But they emerged out of a turbulent time of transition, just like the other golden ages did. In the 580s and 570s the Greek city-state of Athens was a mere agricultural community ravaged by peasant revolt. Rome was under the heel of cruel Etruscan kings. And the Jews had been hauled off into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar, whose revived Babylonian Empire had run rough-shod over the older states of ancient Mesopotamia. In India the decaying Hindu culture was controlled by a corrupt Brahmin ruling class.

But already at the time of the great conjunction the brilliant sages were appearing who blazed the trails of wisdom which Humanity would follow forever after. At the exact moment when the three transcendental planets were lining up in the 570s B.C., the "7 wise men" could be found in ancient Greece. One of them, Thales, opened the great tradition of Western thought by proposing a single underlying principle of the world. An even greater advance was made soon afterward by Pythagoras, who was born during the triple conjunction. He sought that "first principle" in the miraculous power of numbers and proportions and discovered that they were related to musical harmony. He not only founded a religion whose beliefs inspired great minds throughout the ages, but virtually created Western mathematics. Another of the 7 wise men, Solon, promulgated the laws of the Athens around 580, thereby giving his name to legislators everywhere for all time.

But the great awakening wasn't limited to Greece. It was a worldwide phenomenon; the greatest age of enlightenment in human history, in which most of the world's religions and philosophies were either founded or transformed. Historians call it "the Axis Age," because so many of the world's greatest thinkers and teachers were all alive at the same time. It was the great "hinge of history," when changes happened in human thought and society whose results are still with us. In India, for example, the final and most mystical parts of the Upanishads were being written; the basis of Vedantic Hinduism. Their formula of Atman = Brahman became the fundamental principle of Eastern thought. A few decades later Siddhartha Gautama, born to a Hindu king in 563 B.C., found enlightenment under the Bo Tree and set in motion the Buddhist "wheel of truth" that is still transforming the lives of people all across the world. At the same time Mahavira began the Indian religion of Jainism, which teaches the sacredness of all life. Confucius and Lao Tzu simultaneously laid down the great religious and moral traditions of China.

Further west the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism consecrated the "battle of good vs. evil" that has haunted Western culture ever since. In 550 B.C. the Persian Empire arose to become the home of the new religion. When they conquered New Babylon the Jews were able to return home too. They brought back to Israel the Holy Book, for the first time in writing, on which most of the major Western religions are based. Thenceforth the Bible kept the Jews united through over two millennia of wanderings and exile. Its authors, such as the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, were influenced by Persian and Mesopotamian ideas while in exile there; and now they proclaimed for the first time that theirs was the One God of all peoples. Even further west the Celtic peoples of Northern Europe entered the period of their greatest independent power and creativity, when many of the myths were created which inspired later gothic tales.

Once again we see the world coming to life in a renaissance about one hundred years or more after the conjunction of Neptune and Pluto. But this golden age was especially golden. Almost exactly 100 years after the conjunction, in 490 to 479 B.C., Athens led the dramatic defense of Greece against the mighty Persian invaders. Buoyed by their great victory, the confident Athenians brought forth their genius in art, architecture, drama and politics over the next 50 years. No golden age in history has ever been so widely celebrated as the first democracy under Pericles, when the Parthenon was built and the writers Sophocles and Aeschylus and the sculptor Phidias worked. It was then too that Socrates began asking the questions out of which the whole Western search for knowledge and truth emerged. Another seminal republican experiment began simultaneously in Rome. And the holy city of Benares in the time of Buddha became the center of culture and spirituality in India during its golden age.

Five conjunctions of Neptune and Pluto; five brilliant golden ages. Each time we saw the old world pass away and a new one bloom in its place. Even before the Axis Age, the fortunes of civilization in Egypt, Crete, the Near East and China rose and fell according to the 500 year pattern, as you can see from the chart below. Clearly we have every right to expect that we, heirs of the latest conjunction in 1892, can make it through today's time of transition (however belatedly) to a Sixth Renaissance and golden age in our time!

Reviewing the pattern then; we have the conjunctions, which correspond to crucial turning points in the times of transition:

  • 1892------- Modern art, atomic physics, fall of European empires, etc.
  • 1399------- Early Renaissance, Great Schism, first explorers, Turk invasions, Aztecs, etc.
  • 905-------- Cluniac reforms, early European dynasties, Fall of Tang Dynasty, Fall of Mayans, Viking and Magyar invasions, etc.
  • 411 A.D.--- Fall of Rome, fall of Tsin, barbarian invasions, Mayan cities, Ghana.
  • 83 B.C.---- Sulla, Roman civil wars/conquests, Baghavad-Gita, etc.
  • 577 B.C.--- Axis Age of enlightenment, Neo Babylonia, Celtic expansion, etc.
  • 1071 B.C.-- Fall of New Kingdom in Egypt, Dorian invasions, Israel and Judea founded, fall of Shang and rise of Chou dynasty in China, etc.
  • 1565 B.C.-- New Kingdom of Egypt founded, civilizations of Mycenae and Minoan Crete began, Shang Dynasty, Aryan invasions in India, Olmecs.
  • 2058 B.C.-- Middle Kingdom of Egypt founded, Fall of Ur to Semitic invasions (probably after 2000 B.C.), Old Palace Crete, Chinese Hsia Dynasty.
  • 2552 B.C.-- Old Kingdom of Egypt founded, Great Pyramids built, Ur & Akkad founded.
  • 3045 B.C.-- Narmer founded Egypt, Sumerian cities, Indus Valley civilization.
  • One hundred years later came the Golden Age or Renaissance:

  • 2000------- New Age Renaissance, global and green awakening.
  • 1500------- Discovery of New World; High Renaissance of Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Durer, etc.; Moguls, Suleiman, Ming China, etc.
  • 1000------- Ottonian and Byzantine Renaissance, Sung China, Tamil India, etc.
  • 520 A.D.--- Byzantine golden age, Mayan golden age, Hindu revival, Benedictine Order, Theodoric, etc.
  • 10 A.D.---- Roman golden age, Sun pyramid, Mahayana Buddhism, Christ, etc.
  • 470 B.C.--- Greek golden age, Greek and Roman Republics, Persian Empire, Buddhism, Benares, Chinese classic age, etc.
  • 970 B.C.-- Israeli golden age (David and Solomon), Assyria, Korea, etc.
  • 1470 B.C.-- Crete golden age (Minos), Egyptian golden age of Thutmose III, etc.
  • 1960 B.C.-- Babylon, Rock tombs of Egypt built, etc.
  • 2460 B.C.-- Ur golden age, Great Pyramid paintings.
  • 2950 B.C.-- Sumerian golden age.

    The only conclusion we can draw from all this evidence is that, however strange it may seem, we live in a new golden age. Can we lightly dismiss a pattern which has held for 5000 years? Clearly the potential is here. If we are not living up to it, it is only because we don't yet understand the pattern.

    Most people still don't believe a golden age is possible today. In fact, the most prevalent opinion (among those who care at all) is that a new dark age is looming. Clearly there is much ground for gloom, what with today's high crime rate, political gridlock and untold threats to the environment. Yet as the above history shows, huge challenges like ours today have called forth greatness in the past. As William McNeill pointed out, "Golden Ages of the past have always been times of vast and fundamental confusion... our age belongs in the high company of those times when people found themselves forced into far-ranging, fundamental creativity." So if ours is a time of dangers, it's also a time of opportunities. Despite President Bush's perversion of the term, we truly have entered a "new world order." As democracy breaks out around the world, we can divert our resources away from constant military confrontation if we choose to.

    We live at the end of a time of transition unleashed by World Wars and industrialism. Left standing above the junk and rubble are the shallow and empty remains of a culture which, however powerful it seems, has long since spiritually died. Barbarians have always come in these transition times; this time they arose inside the gates. Even we Americans are still largely barbarian, and will remain so as long as we think money is "the bottom line" and what's beautiful is what sells. And yet we have so much going for us too. We today are the first generations in history able to know and understand all the world's cultures, past and present. More of us, whatever our race or gender, are free to unfold our talents. It's unthinkable that the Neptune-Pluto cycle could fail to bring a golden age at a time when Humanity is actually aware of these planets for the first time. Don't ever let it be said that we are "too poor" or "too busy" to create a renaissance. Other peoples in history have done greater things than we, despite fewer resources and much less comfort than we have. All we need is to remember what time it is, and to put an end to business as usual. The greatest goal of life is to have and share visionary experiences. Now is the best time ever to do it.

    A new golden age is dawning somewhere; that seems inevitable. Rebirth follows death as surely as the 21st Century follows the 20th. The only question then is whether you and your society will participate. The moving fact for those of us in the United States is this: every great nation and civilization has had its golden age; we have not yet had ours. We have so far in our history produced only a few brilliant writers, along with fantastic weapons of war and enormous mountains of garbage. Will Americans be remembered a thousand years from now for their wise and inspired contribution, or only for their coke bottles, technical gimmicks and toxic pollution? All nations today, indeed we as a dawning world culture, must ask what our place in history will be. Europe has yet another chance for revival, while the nations of the Far East are poised on the edge of a new prosperity that may enable them unfold their full potential.

    The golden age has already begun, but the opportunity it presents may soon pass us by. So look now and decide what contribution you can make. Are you an artist, musician, poet, philosopher, or patron and promoter of the arts? Above all, are you a dreamer? No great civilization was ever built out of cynical skepticism. A new vision or "paradigm" is unfolding today, based on the knowledge that we are one united Humanity composed of Individuals who have the universal, divine, creative spirit within us. Let's dream now of what's possible in this new global, holistic culture; and then make it happen. Open your heart to the vibrant, pulsing, playful energies of our dawning renaissance and New Earth Awakening. The facts are clear: if we don't dedicate our lives now to fulfilling our place on the great cycle of civilization, we will be cheating ourselves of our destiny.

    PHASES OF THE CYCLE: the key to our civilization's future

    When Neptune and Pluto join together in conjunction, they begin a cycle that lasts for 493 years. It is like a "New Moon" of civilization. And just like the Moon does, Neptune goes through "phases" in its cyclic relationship to Pluto. As these phases come and go, civilization develops, reaches full flower and then decays. Therefore we know that our New Age which began in 1892 will also follow these phases. Since, in the past, civilization has followed them in a quite astounding way, they should give us a good idea of what is to come over the next 400 years.

    Each of these phases is indicated by aspects which Neptune makes to Pluto during the 493-year cycle. Thus the conjunction is only the beginning; it is the originating impulse that sets the cycle going. Afterward there are seven other main phases. The first three are "waxing," when Neptune is "increasing in light" and civilization is building its creative power. The last three are "waning," when Neptune is "decreasing in light," during which civilization is either declining, becoming fixed in its ways, and/or releasing "seeds" or new ideas that will only bloom in the next cycle. In between is the opposition, which is civilization's "Full Moon;" its climax and full flowering. The details of the events corresponding to these phases throughout history are shown in the appendix.

    Following the conjunction, the first phase is the waxing sextile, when Neptune has moved 2 signs ahead of Pluto. It is like a Crescent Moon phase. These are the creative golden age or renaissance periods when the new civilization overcomes obstacles to its further growth and clearly expresses itself for the first time in serene and classic forms. The Golden Age of Greece, the Augustan Age of Rome, the High Renaissance of Da Vinci and Columbus, and the Turn of the New Millennium in our own age, are examples of the waxing sextile phase.

    By the time of the waxing square phase, Neptune has moved 3 signs ahead of Pluto. This is like a First Quarter Moon. It is a time of crisis which tests the foundations of the New Civilization, such as when the Peloponnesian War ended the Golden Age of Greece, and when the Wars of Religion poured cold water on the spirit of the Renaissance. We can expect this phase of crisis to arrive again in about 2065-70 AD. Environmental destruction, ethnic clashes or epidemics could endanger our new Millennial civilization then. We will have to meet and defeat the "ghosts" of the industrial age, such as corporate power and greed and excessive demands for individual "freedom."

    The next phase is the waxing trine, which is like a Gibbous Moon. This is the time when civilization is confidently expanding and moving toward its climax, as when Trajan and Hadrian brought the Roman Empire to its greatest power in its brilliant "silver age," or when the First Crusade in 1095 mobilized the Christian Medieval world. The dynamic cathedral art and sculpture of this "Romanesque" era around 1100 AD is often compared to the Baroque style 500 years later. The next waxing trine is scheduled for about 2090. We can expect our new science and art to move ahead confidently, leaving the "old paradigm" forever behind. Earth-centered spiritual ideals will increasingly predominate over the older ideas of "progress." We will move rapidly toward a fully high-tech Aquarian Age culture integrated with the cosmos. But we could also see a rising "crusading mentality" in the following years that may cause a too-aggressive attitude.

    When Neptune opposes Pluto across the heavens, it is like a Full Moon of civilization, which now attains its greatest power and expression. During the opposition a culture's ideals are most clearly and scientifically defined. Afterward, however, civilization may start to split apart or rot from within, or else encumber and rigidify itself with too many rules and structures. For example, at the time of the opposition of 323 BC Alexander the Great spread Greek civilization over much of the ancient world. But that year he died and his empire crumbled, and Greek culture began to decline in the "Hellenistic" Age. Similarly, in the mid-17th Century Louis XIV the French "Sun-king" brought classical European Renaissance culture to its height, but then it began to rigidify into the "Ancient Regime" that later collapsed in war and revolution. Greek scientists like Euclid, Roman ones like Ptolemy, and the modern scientific revolution of Descartes and Newton that separated Matter from Spirit, all belong to this Full Moon/opposition phase; so do many of the world's greatest temples. The next opposition is due in 2140. We can expect our high-tech, spiritual and Earth-centered Aquarian Age culture to reach full flower and a new architecture to refashion our cities, but some of our new world-wide institutions may expand too far and attain too much power. These global structures may start to become rigid after 2140, and today's "new paradigm" may become too well-defined and formalized in the following years.

    During the waning trine, the beliefs and ideas of the new civilization are disseminated, distributed and institutionalized. The dissemination of Buddhism through Ashoka's empire in India, the establishment of Christianity by Constantine, and the spread of "rational" Enlightenment ideas by the 18th Century "Enlightened Despots" illustrate this phase. This is usually a happy, light or decadent period, so we can expect the 23rd Century during the next waning trine to be relaxed and peaceful but complacent. We can expect that missionaries from other planets, or the "powers that be" on Earth, will be actively sponsoring and disseminating liberating spiritual-green New Age ideas and lifestyles to the people. Global religious institutions may appear.

    The period leading up to and during the waning square is a dramatic, powerful, final climax of the cycle. It is like a Last Quarter Moon, and represents the "last glory" of civilization. Usually a powerful leader, such as Ashurbanipal, Constantine, Charlesmagne or Napoleon, creates a great empire; but it seldom lasts for long. Hopes of a New World (as in the French Revolution) soon fade, yet the seeds of new ideas are planted that will bloom in the civilization of the future. This turbulent, emotional period will arrive again in about 2300 AD. Powerful seers will then help us glimpse the coming "Age of Light," due to arrive after the next conjunction of Neptune and Pluto in 2385. However, the illumination of these prophets will not yet be bright enough or free enough from the traces of our Earth-bound, corporate, technological society. We will at this time only dimly see this coming New Age of Light-- an era when we will truly be able to transform ourselves into Light Beings and embark for the far galaxies and the etheric dimensions. By then we will no longer be held back by our unfinished business on Earth, or by our slow, rational, scientific, technical 20th/21st Century methods. The strong leaders of 2300 will try to prepare us for this bright future, but the hopes they promise for us will fall short of realization.

    Instead, if the pattern holds, a period of dissolution or disintegration will ensue. This is the waning sextile, equivalent to a Balsamic or "dark moon" phase. Typically it is marked by peasant or worker revolts and by barbarian invasions, such as those of the Huns and Vikings. But it's also sometimes a highly inventive period when new economic arrangements are developed. Thus when the next waning sextile arrives around 2340 we know something of what to expect: much revolt, discontent and migration; perhaps a plague, ice-age, famine, atomic and/or ecological catastrophe or two; plus new methods of keeping track of value that could replace the monetary system and allow us to trade with other galaxies and dimensions. We can expect today's "new paradigms" (the fundamental beliefs and world views now emerging) to start to unravel in a time of great skepticism, controversy and perhaps even fanaticism. If we are ever invaded by a race from another planet, this could be the moment; we can expect such "barbarian aliens" to be held at bay until then. Or it may be the time when the barriers between our Earth civilization and those of other planets and planes begin falling at an unprecedented rate.


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