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Outer Space Inner Space

by Melanie Reinhart

Outer Space Inner SpaceThe "Age of Aquarius" is one of the 12 Precessional Ages, each approximately 2150 years long, and determined by the retrograde movement of the vernal point (0 Aries) relative to the constellations of the sidereal zodiac. This gradual shift is caused by a variety of astronomical factors, but for our purposes here the most relevant aspect of the phenomenon is its symbolism, for the dominant civilizations of a Precessional Age correspond in a striking way to the symbolism of the presiding constellation. For example, in the Taurean Age (approx 4000-2000 BC), various cults of bull-worship flourished, later formalized in the Egyptian gods Apis and Hathor, and the Greek Minotaur, a bull-headed monster. Great stone temples, pyramids and megalithic monuments were built as literal representations of cosmic principles (Taurus is an earth sign). In the Age of Aries (approx 2000 - 0 BC.) the attributes of some gods changed realigning with the symbolism of the new Arian Age. Thus the Persian Mithras, previously the "Sacred Bull" became "The Slayer of the Bull" while the Assyrian Ashur, formerly the "Great Bull" became a Martian god of war - Aries is ruled by Mars.

Thus this cycle represents the shift from one archetypal pattern or universal principle to another, which in turn expresses the qualitative context within which historical, cultural and also individual development will unfold. Although our personal experience will mostly occur without any direct awareness of this "big picture", nevertheless during a time of transition, such as we are now living, reference to this larger perspective may perhaps illuminate some of the changes we can see going on in the world at large. For transition involves the breaking down of previous structures, and this disintegration reveals more clearly the underlying process of change, like threads being woven on a loom. Before exploring the themes of Aquarius and its opposite sign Leo, let us focus on the sign of Pisces, ruled by Neptune, and its opposite sign Virgo, ruled by Mercury.

During the Age of Pisces, which began around the time of the birth of Christ, the dominant religion has been Christianity, in which symbolism of the fish abounds; the first disciples of Jesus were fishermen, called by him to be "fishers of men", and early Christians identified themselves to each other through the fish symbol. The compassionate God who so loved the world that he sent his only Son to redeem it expresses the principles of the planet Neptune, the felt sense of One Behind the Many. We can perhaps see in the monotheism of Christianity (and Islam) an attempt to honour this in a literal way.

Pisces also illustrates the distortions, which inevitably developed as the original influx of energy was institutionalized into formal religion. Pisces is a dual sign, and may demonstrate its ambivalence about being incarnated through abuse of alcohol or drugs and indiscriminate ecstatic experience: escapism. This same ambivalence found expression in Christianity (and other major religions) during the Piscean Age through encouragement of violent renunciation of "the world, the flesh and the devil", evil is projected on to the world and the body and the Saviour is invoked to rescue one from their iniquities.

Virgo is an earth sign, here symbolizing the "Word made Flesh", as Mercury rules communication, especially verbal; dogmatic and fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible express the negative side of Virgo qualities, as does the scientific materialism, which has flourished over the last few centuries. Spirit (Pisces) and matter (Virgo) were rent asunder into irreconcilable opposites of body/mind, science/mysticism and so on.

During the mid-1960's, a powerful astrological configuration lay across this Virgo/Pisces axis. For 3 years from March 1964, Saturn was in Pisces, and from February 1965 it opposed either Uranus or Pluto or both as they travelled together through Virgo. From time to time, other faster-moving planets linked in, most notably Chiron, which had its only conjunction with Saturn this century in April 1966, underlining the themes of wounding, healing and transition. Uranus brings insight and Pluto demands that we transform our attitude to something or lose it: thus this configuration was herald to the dawning recognition of the urgent need to reconcile this split between spirit and matter, between humanity and the ecosystem which supports it, if there is to be any New Age lived on the earth.

Within Christianity the figure of the Virgin Mary can be associated with Virgo. Since the 23rd June, 1981 at Medjugorje in Yugoslavia, a group of six visionaries has daily been in contact with the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Peace. It is the longest recorded series of such apparitions, due to end soon with the promised appearance of a visible sign. In spite of attracting millions of pilgrims, believers and sceptics alike, the visions have yet to be endorsed by the Vatican, causing bitter divisions within the Church. All except the youngest of the seers was bom under the configuration mentioned above, a striking portrayal of their destiny as carriers of a vision of the feminine spirit of reconciliation. At this time, the outer planets Neptune, Pluto and Chiron formed a configuration known as the "Finger of God". During the first week of the visions, Chiron mainly occupied the 21st degree of Taurus, for which the Sabian Symbol is "A white dove flying over troubled waters". The dove in Christianity often symbolizes the Holy Spirit, as portrayed in many paintings of the Annunciation.

The events at Medjugorje perhaps symbolize the quintessential vision of the Age of Pisces, encompassing and embodying the qualities of Virgo. Just as the Virgin Mary is said to have been the physical Mother- of Christ at the beginning of the Piscean Age, these visions coming at the end of the Age of Pisces perhaps portray the quality of symbolic virginity, meaning psychological and spiritual wholeness, humility and self-containment. These positive Virgoan qualities may enable the Christ-principle to be born within us, offering redemption at an individual level, not through any historical saviour or holy book, but through inwardly relinquishing the illusion that we are separate from our divine source.

Thus the god-images of the Age of Pisces are themselves in transition as reflected in the various controversies raging within the Church: the ordination of women, homosexuality amongst the clergy, the role of the Church in politics, the rise of fundamentalism and so on. Many people can no longher find meaning or spiritual satisfaction in dogma (Virgo) and faith (Pisces) without direct personal experience and spiritual knowledge (Leo) and so they are abandoning traditional religious forms (Aquarius).

This search for personal experience of the divine, through gnosis or inner knowledge of the Self, is characteristically Leonine, and is perhaps the soul impulse behind the ego-centredness and grandiosity for which Leo is infamous. In the selfishness of the "Me Generation" we are perhaps witnessing the labour pains accompanying the birth of the New Age. For many people, preoccupation with oneself is initially necessary on the path to recognition of the Self as an individual spark of the divine flame which sustains all of life - this recognition can be seen as a preparation for and counterpoint to the influx of Aquarian energies, currently manifesting in powerful collective pressures at a political and mental level.

Aquarius is an air sign, co-ruled by Saturn and Uranus; it operates strongly through the mind, seeking a unifying pattern of a higher order which both includes and transcends the separate parts. Another powerful Aquarian vision is of a creative interchange between the individual and the group, based on an inner sense of the interconnectedness of all life which honours individual differences. Aquarius is noted for humanitarian concerns, and indeed we have recently seen an increase of public awareness of and action on human rights, poverty and other issues.

However, the steps from benign brotherhood to conformism to tyranny can be alarmingly small. Pisces, a water sign, resonates with the feelings, and if we are still bound up in rejection of the embodied life (Virgo), the incoming Aquarian energies cannot be tempered by compassion, the gift of Pisces. Aquarius has been said to "love humanity and hate people", referring to the difficulty of accepting the flaws, weaknesses and imperfections of human nature (ours and others!) when compared with a shining vision of its potential. This is perhaps an occupational hazard of the Age of Aquarius, but one which needs recognizing lest we tyrannize ourselves and others it. For in these times, those whose sense of self worth (Leo) is shaky may be especially prone to destructive involvement with groups and collective ideas (Aquarius), be they of political, psychological or spiritual persuasion.

Historically, in the Piscean Age, the Neptunian vision of Love and Unity was spread through forced conversions, persecution and torture. If the Aquarian vision of the interconnectedness of all life should manifest unconsciously in too literal a way, a wasteland might be the result, where the individual soul (Leo) is subsumed to the ideals of the group (Aquarius) - an Orwellian "1984" scenario. We can see this trend in the enormous corporate bodies which devour small businesses, in a global monetary system which can hold entire countries to ransom by trading debt against policy decisions and so on.

On one hand, we have recently witnessed inspiring mass events such as Live Aid, Walk for the World, and so on: on the other hand religious fundamentalism, fascism and anarchy are synchronously arising - positive and negative expressions of the signs of Leo and Aquarius. "Small is Beautiful," said Schumacher, the renowned ecologist, and his words may have wider relevance than he suspected, for we can lose our individual way in collective movements that appear to be positive as easily as we can in those which are obviously negative.

Martin Luther King had Mercury in Aquarius, testifying to his power as the orator of a message relevant for the forthcoming Age of Aquarius. Although he may go down in history as a political reformer, he was also a spiritual leader whose vision was one in which the value of the individual soul was paramount. In the speech from which the above words are taken, he quoted Romans 12:1 . . . "be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind". He did not set out to change the world, but rather held the mirror of eternity to the life of the individual, affirming the divine origins of humanity.

First published in Link Up magazine Issue 41 - Dec89 - Feb90

All website contents copyright © Melanie Reinhart 1989-2021 [except where alternative attribution is noted]. All rights reserved.

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