A friend of mine recently saw the revival of the musical, “Hair!” For days, she couldn’t stop singing the song. You know, that song. The one about the Age of Aquarius. We all know the tune. The catchy little number took over her brain and then lodged itself in mine. In spite of myself, I kept singing about the Moon being in the 7th house and Jupiter aligning with Mars. According to the song, this interesting little alignment is supposed to bring harmony, understanding, sympathy, the whole lot.
I’ve always found it amusing that this song, which has been lodged in our heads for 40 years now, which promoted the whole idea of the Age of Aquarius and promoted astrology itself to the public, has got all of the astrology completely bass akwards. Every astrologer knows that Jupiter/Mars tends to escalate war. Jupiter inflates the Mars aggression. Jupiter gives purpose to Mars, which often sends people with Jupiter Mars contacts to the military…Sigh…As for the Moon being in the seventh house, a seventh house Moon at the same time as a Jupiter Mars contact would encourage us to use that newly aligned aggression on others. A line-up like that would be a perfect chart for the beginning of a war, or at least a good punch up.
Yet this little song has lulled us for 40 years into an ideal of Aquarian utopia. The Age of Aquarius will solve all of our problems. The notion of the Aquarian Age has faded into the background somewhat in astrological circles, which is a good thing. Not that the age of Pisces has done us any favours, with its religious conflicts and the dark shadow of Virgo perfectionism, on which I blame all manner of mass persecution. But the song’s astrological deception, to me, is very much illustrative of mindless Aquarius Group Think: if a lot of people are singing it (reading it, saying it), it must be true.
The song came out of the flower child era, which is forever linked with the Age of Aquarius. Alas, there is very little within that scene that was Aquarian, save for its emphasis on egalitarianism. The lack of boundaries, the ideal of universal peace, the drugs, the woo-woo mysticism, the music, all firmly within the Piscean (unbounded) realm. If ever a movement was a child of Neptune, that was it.
In my opinion, we are still very much enmeshed in a Piscean world view, and still coping with the shadow side of Virgo. But at the same time, we are streaming ahead into the Aquarian era, via the proliferation of technology and the freedom of information. Aquarius, is, after all, an air sign. However, as we sit on the cusp between Pisces and Aquarius, we are coping with the dark side of Virgo and the dark side of Leo combined.
In basic astrology, Leo is the sign of the individual, of the “I” as King. Aquarius is the sign of the public, of society in general, of the whole as opposed to the “I”. It governs group expression as opposed to individual expression–political institutions and the theatre both come under Aquarius. Does group expression automatically translate into humanity and compassion? Not necessarily. Aquarius can be about the domination of the group at the sacrifice of the individual. It’s about the ideal of egalitarianism, not the messy business of putting it into place. Ask Robespierre, who wrote feverishly about equality and purity while sitting behind the ever-shuttered windows which shielded him from the stench of the blood in the streets and the sight of his victims rolling to their deaths in the tumbrels. Like many revolutionaries before and after him, his ideal of an egalitarian society conveniently left out rights for anyone who disagreed with him.
The French Revolution coincided with the discovery of Uranus, the ruler of Aquarius. Aquarius is the sign of the idealist, the high thinker, the rebel. It is not necessarily a sign of compassion. There is a great deal of difference between the ideals of Neptune, which are based on an empathetic world without boundaries, and the ideals of Uranus, which are based on an ideal of world order.
Aquarius is an air sign, and air signs are about Mind. Gemini, ruled by Mercury, is mutable air. It is about pure Mind, Mind as information gatherer, Mind as movement. Libra, cardinal air, is about Mind as connection. The Cardinal mode is an initiating power. Libra’s ruler, Venus, represents the movement outward, the connection that Libra enacts in terms of relationships of all kinds (not just personal, but in the act of relating as a function). Esoteric astrologers put Venus as the ruler of Gemini for this very reason. Aquarius is a fixed sign, and here we come to a problem. How do we attach fixity to air?
One aspect of Group Expression is Group Mind. This comes on naturally from the Pure Mind (Gemini) as it passes through the Relating Mind (Libra). In theory, we move from Relating Mind to some kind of universal agreement expressed in Group Mind. We gather information, we talk, we compromise, and then we come to a conclusion. This is the natural path of the air signs. The conclusions we arrive at come under fixed air. In a perfect world, it’s a nice process. However, there is a catch. Humans being what they are, we come to flawed conclusions. It takes very little to throw the process off balance, either in the Gemini (information gathering) phase or in the Libra (relating) one. One for All is fine, but All must also be for One (apologies to Dumas, born 20 years after Uranus was discovered). The great flaw of Group Mind is that, when the process of Mind is thwarted, it sacrifices the individual for the whole. The notion of the scapegoat also belongs to Aquarius.
Uranus represents the higher plane of Mercury, the Higher Mind of genius, of intuitive wisdom, of the information that does not have to be processed, but comes directly from above. With Uranus, we learn via flashes of lightning. It provides us with leaps of intuitive wisdom. But when is our flash of ‘wisdom’ a product of Higher Mind, and when is it just a product of our overblown need to be special?
To see the incoming flaws of the Aquarian Age to come we must take a look at the darker side of Leo, its opposite. Dictatorship, guru-ship of all kinds is Leo’s realm. The notion that I am flawless, because I rule by divine right. I am King not through an accident of birth, but by divine plan. There is an in-built elitism to the dark side of Aquarius. Whenever someone tries to dictate your life by their own ideas of what your life should be, Aquarius is at work. Remember Robespierre. There are many varieties of dictatorship in the modern world, some highly insidious.
The dark side of Fixed Air exemplifies rigid thought, and rigid ideals. It also says, “Whatever the group says, goes.” Dictatorship by committee is how Robespierre held on to his power. And the underlying flaw of Group Mind is its lack of individual discrimination.
No coincidence that the Age of Aquarius has been heralded in with what we now call mass communication. While this has brought in some wonderful things (cell phones and email) and some silly ones (fill in your own blank ), there is a sense more and more that we are being drowned in irrelevant messages and information. When anything goes, no one has to discriminate. When no one is responsible, no one is culpable. So we swallow whatever is dished out for us, and we come to like it, because frankly, it’s easier than taking up the challenge of deciding what is relevant to our lives. Many of us now live in a state of mindless mental consumption, filling our heads, filling our days, with anything that’s going, whether on air, online, or in the press. We’ve all been guilty of just leaving the TV on, even if there’s nothing we want to watch.
Media glut is almost impossible to avoid. I recently read an interview with Leonard Cohen in the Guardian, where he declared that the greatest challenge in his writing now is sorting out a real idea from a clichéd thought created via media influence. We create our own swill, too, with endless conversations about nothing in particular, diverting us from meaningful expression in our lives. We’re using up all our minutes, but what it is that we’re really saying? Are we communicating anything of value, or are we just marking time?
We tend to think of society in terms of Capricorn and the 10th house. Capricorn is the builder of what is ‘out there’. But the actual day to day working of the society is the Succedent energy of Aquarius. (Cardinal houses initiate, Succedent houses apply, Cadent houses disseminate.) Capricorn may have built the machine, but Aquarius runs it.
We talk of corporate mentality, the ongoing sacrifice of the individual to the machine. How many of us are doing work that we aren’t suited to do, because the machine has chewed us up and spewed us forward? During the Revolution, deaths were physical. Now the casualties are spiritual, emotional, mental. We are bombarded with messages and images telling us that our individual lives are so poor in comparison that they aren’t worth living. Our children just want to be famous—not for any particular talent; fame itself has become an aspiration (admiration/approval of the group without the self-expression of Leo). Group Think rules by lowest common denominator, rather than what is wisest or best for us. Group Think distrusts intellectuals and artists and anyone who dares to express what is unique and different from the norm. Group Think tells us that our unique contributions will not be accepted. From body fascism to terrorism, evidence of the Aquarian Age is at our door.
This is particularly poignant as we move towards a global society. So set are we on the bigger picture that we lose track of what’s going on next door. Anonymity is also a dark side of the Aquarian Age, and is related to the lack of individual responsibility. I live in the Northeast, where if you hesitate for a millisecond at a traffic light, they blow. Recently, my mother stopped to let an older man cross the pavement at the supermarket, and drew honks and curses from the man in the car behind her. She got out of her car and chewed him out. (Good on ya, Mom.) The man was mortified at being called to task. The world has become a less pleasant place. Would we be so rude if we were less anonymous, more meaningfully connected to our work and our families and our communities and our everyday lives? Would we be so tough if we didn’t have our metal cages to hide in?
The backlash of anonymity and lack of recognition is selfishness. Again, the dark side of Leo. I will drive as if I own the road, because only my destination matters. I will line my own pockets while others lose their life savings, because only my need matters. I have the freedom/right to do whatever the hell I want to. And no matter how heinous the crime, the excuse often is that great mask of Group Think: “everyone’s doing it.”
Aquarius’ dual rulership of Saturn and Uranus is often dismissed. It’s commonly believed that we can now throw out the dual rulership and stick with Uranus. However, it has only been a few hundred years since Uranus was discovered, which is nothing in astrological terms, and the attachment of Saturn to Aquarius should still be considered as part of the underlying mythology.
The dangers inherent in the upcoming Aquarian Age are many, but none so potent as the notion of freedom without responsibility. Freedom without responsibility is very much a product of the Aquarian archetype. It’s the absolute absence of Leo—a king is responsible for the fortunes of his kingdom. Aquarian excesses are corrected by Saturn. As the current fallout from the deregulation in the banking industry has proved, freedom carries a price. Saturn’s rule over the material world puts a natural check on Uranian impulses and instincts. I don’t think we’re evolved enough yet, as human beings, to deal with pure Uranian genius. We need the check of Saturn to rein us in. Let’s not forget to test our Uranian knowledge to see whether it works in the world. Is our conviction actually a product of the higher realm of Mercury, or are we being deceived by our desire to be special (Leo)?
The French Revolution ended not with a new Utopia, but with an Emperor. It took a dictator (and a Leo, at that) to correct the excesses of Robespierre’s Uranian vision. The freedoms inherent in our society provide us with great joy, but they need to be checked on a daily basis. Not by institutions or by regulating bodies, but first, by ourselves. It is my responsibility, not just to myself, but as a citizen of the world, to insure that my life reflects my individuality. Am I living my life as a true expression of my Self? Am I dissatisfied with my life because I’m being dictated to by media-induced thoughts and images of what my life should be? Am I taking responsibility for my own self-expression, or am I stifling myself with beliefs of what is ‘normal’? Am I running on auto-pilot, neglecting the things and people that mean most to me? Eventually, our unexpressed selves can become so painful to live with that we do harm to ourselves or others. It can happen in a flash. I turn myself into a scapegoat, a victim of anonymity. This is the legendary ruthlessness of Uranus at work.
The next time you’re tempted to beep your horn, or watch that lousy television show that comes on after the good one, think twice. You may change the world.
“In basic astrology, Leo is the sign of the individual, of the “I” as King. Aquarius is the sign of the public, of society in general, of the whole as opposed to the “I”. Group expression as opposed to individual expression. Does group expression automatically translate into humanity and compassion? Not necessarily. Aquarius can be about the domination of the group at the sacrifice of the individual. It’s about the ideal of egalitarianism, not the messy business of putting it into place.”
- 08.30.09 / 4pm