Tag Archives: Jeremy Bentham

The Aquarian Age: cultural cliche, or symbolic reality?

It’s all identity politics’ fault. Trying to come up with a Big Picture context for this 21st century phenomenon has led me toward contemplating the so-called Aquarian Age, such a cultural cliche by now that I usually prefer to let the ageing braincell focus on fresher topics. However, bear with me. I’ve got to something which might intrigue you…

But first, a definition of identity politics:

‘…politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group…’ (i)

21 Cent Fixed Cross copy

Does this suggest the shadow side of the Leo theme to anyone? It certainly does to me. Given that the interplay of opposites is a fundamental generator of the life force –think egg, sperm and first division of fertilised egg here – this by astro-logic brings us to Aquarius, Leo’s polarity. Aquarius is fundamentally concerned with the larger group. As the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, an Aquarian, (1748-1832) so famously stated: “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong”(ii) Aquarius, especially since its new ruler Uranus appeared to our view in the turbulent 1780s, is also strongly associated with revolutionary change, especially technological breakthroughs.

To be clear: I do not subscribe to the touchy-feely idea that the Aquarian Age, if it exists at all, will bring an era of universal love. The evidence from our contemporary world suggests otherwise. Moreover, the eminent astrologer and cultural historian Dr Nicholas Campion has collected around 100 dates for the supposed commencement of the Age of Aquarius – from around 1260 AD to around 2300 AD. (iii) 

Perhaps best, then, to see the astrological world ages of roughly 2000 years each, as vast metaphors for helping us to comprehend political, cultural and social change. 

However, I am intrigued by Carl Jung’s notion, set forth in his essay ‘The Sign of the Fish’ (iv) that when world ages change, ie when the first point of Aries can be seen against the backdrop of the next constellation, our image of the Divine changes. The Aries point, having shifted backwards from its 2000 or so years’ traverse of the previous constellation of Pisces, roughly the era of Christianity, is now somewhere between the first star of the constellation of Pisces, and the last star of the constellation of Aquarius. 

We have been going through an enormous technological revolution in recent decades as science makes huge strides. Mapping the human genome, expanding our view of the vast universe we inhabit via wonderful Hubble images, and linking much of the human population via the Internet and mobile phone technology are but a few examples.  You could even argue that a new religion is arising: Scientism, which holds that only the 5% of the cosmos which we can perceive through our senses or test out through the procedures of reductionism is worth considering. 

As societies become increasingly secular and materialistic throughout the world, I think we are beginning to project the Divine onto science and technology…even to the extent that the goal of prolonging human life indefinitely into some kind of techno-immortality is being seriously pursued in some quarters. 

Pushing the boundaries of science forward just because it can be done conjures the spectres of Dr Frankenstein and his Monster, immortalised in Mary Shelley’s modern myth “ Frankenstein, or the New Prometheus”.  It also speaks strongly of the shadow side of the Aquarian theme, which doesn’t mind how many individual lives it disrupts or destroys in the name of revolutionary change.

Hence its Leo shadow opposite arising in the shape of identity politics, as defined at the start of this column.

Reflecting on the stubbornly fixed positions which have increasingly been taken up in recent times eg in political discourse, religious conflicts, and environmental activism, has evoked for me the fixed cross in astrological symbolism, which on further reflection I have mapped onto the four Angles upon which every horoscope hangs: Ascendant, IC, Descendant, MC. 

Since the Ascendant/Descendant horizontal axis speaks of the here and now of our individual and collective lives– the current Age – how about placing Aquarius on the Ascendant, opposite Leo here? Thus we see the march of technological progress for the supposed benefit of us all, not getting along too well presently with individual identities in various forms. 

Completing the fixed cross, the IC/MC vertical axis speaks of roots (IC) from which our future direction (MC)  arises. The Taurus IC is the ground on which we stand, our Mother Earth. Scorpio on the MC speaks of the deep crisis which our home planet is facing. The old materialist order is currently dying – the evidence is everywhere. The question is, what will replace it? 

I have found contemplating the metaphor of the astrological fixed cross, which condenses the polarised conflicts of our current era into four fundamental themes, powerfully illuminating. It may even suggest that, symbolically speaking, the Age of Aquarius is indeed upon us.

We need to find a revolutionary way forward:  from our present stubbornly fixed shadow positions, and the extreme turbulence of our current world, to a situation where respect both for the greatest good of the greatest number and the dignity of individual rights are harnessed and directed – towards respect and care for our mother planet, and away from its destruction. 

Endnotes:

This post is a slightly edited version of my bi-monthly column for Dell Horoscope Magazine  ‘The astro-view from Scotland’  from the May/June 2018 Issue.

i) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/identity%20politics

ii) via Wikipedia, from https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/jeremy-bentham-307.php

iii) from ‘Astrology, History and Apocalypse’ (CPA Press, 2000)(p127) 

iv) from Aion vol 9, Part 2 of Jung’s Collected Works (1951) 

Zodiac

Zodiac

1000 words © Anne Whitaker 2019

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