Skye Thomas

Skye Thomas
Writer, Rebel, and Soapbox Ranter

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Are we in the Age of Aquarius yet?

Because the Age of Pisces is really getting tiresome
Mar. 19, 2006. 10:46 AM


Phil Booth, astrologer, is running through a list of fellow Aquarians, fairly cackling with glee whenever he comes to the more emblematically outrageous members of the tribe.

There's John Belushi ("He was a quirky maniac") and Mozart ("He was a maverick"), followed by Christina Ricci of The Addams Family ("She was kind of bizarre in there, wasn't she?) and Nick Nolte ("There's another maniac for you").

Then it's on through Leslie Nielsen ("His shows were quirky and bizarre, weren't they?") and Barry Humphries, a.k.a. Dame Edna ("He's got crazy ideas") until he hits Matt Groening ("Simpsons, yeah, like that's an odd show").

Imagine the twisted mayhem if that crew ever descended on your house for Sunday dinner.Now imagine them staying for the next 2,000 years.

Yes, children, welcome to the Age of Aquarius — which, depending on the astrologist you happen to consult, is already underway, just about to begin, or won't come for another 200 years.

"My own idea is, we're very close," says Booth. "We're moving into it right now, and I would say by 2020, we're in it."

Complicating matters, at least astrologically, is the "wobble" in the Earth's rotation, which means the planet's alignment with the fixed stars is always shifting.

It's the wobble that, from the Earth's perspective, causes us to drift backwards through the zodiac, spending about 2,160 years in each sign.

So perhaps it's not surprising that things can get a little muddy on the ground.But Booth does know this: The Age of Aquarius won't arrive because the Moon is in the Seventh House, or Jupiter aligns with Mars — although you'll be hearing a lot of that come the vernal equinox tomorrow, when the musical Hair begins its Toronto revival.

You remember the rest:
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

The Jupiter/Mars thing, it turns out, isn't even that special.

Booth says it happens roughly every two years, so using that for the formal launch of an Aquarian age is "just lyrical fantasy and poetic licence."

There may, however, be another connection at work, at least for New York astrologer John Cook, an Aries who hears the echo of an earlier astrologer given to prophecy. "You know where that was taken from, those lines?" he asks. "I'm pretty sure it was from Nostradamus's early quatrains, in 1550 or 1555.

"Which, come to think of it, goes to the beguiling heart of astrology: Everything sort of fits, eventually.

So will the dawning of this New Age actually bring about a peaceable planet of love?Or, as they sing in Hair in "Age of Aquarius:"
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation
Aquarius
Aquarius

That certainly sounds a lot more appealing than the Age of Pisces we've been enduring for the past two millennia.

As far as the astrological set is concerned, it's been an era of myths, monsters, spirituality and religion, and not always with grand results.

"It's a period of time when we've had religions fighting for supremacy, each one saying ours is the only way to go and we're going to kill you to prove it," says Booth. "It's reaching a crescendo now, so that's part of the indication we're about to enter the Age of Aquarius."

Just to complicate matters, he adds, the last two centuries have seen Neptune and Saturn focused in Capricorn, bringing on other developments.

"The last 200 years have been a very materialistic period in our history — the stock market and inventing refrigerators and flying to the moon and having cars and all sorts of things.

"But here's the other thing about the Age of Pisces: All that religiosity (and recent materialism) tends to be offset by mass poverty.

"The Aquarian ideal is that everybody is clothed and fed," says Cook. "In Pisces, people suffer horribly."

You can, in short, be forgiven for looking a little more dreamily at the Aquarian hallmarks.

There's the independence, for one, being quirky and unpredictable. "Aquarians get themselves into trouble because they break the rules," says Booth. "They don't like to be controlled."So you end up with renegades (James Dean) and humanitarians (Oprah Winfrey), in their own way all chasing after some democratic brotherhood of independent souls.

There's a reason Aquarians tend to do well playing quixotic, humanist characters in the movies (think Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable).

You can see this in Hair, too, with all that singing about love and harmony and the burning of Vietnam draft cards.

Little wonder that Cook proclaims John Lennon and Yoko Ono to be the quintessential Aquarian couple and "Imagine," the Aquarian anthem. (Technically, Lennon was born a Libra, unlike his Aquarian bride, but Cook says the moon was in Aquarius at the time of Lennon's birth.)

Aquarians, you see, tend to adore big ideas and innovations, from politics to science. Hence the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Charles Darwin and Thomas Edison in the team's starting rotation.

There is, however, one downside: All that idealism can drift into something less tolerant, more strictly ideological.

"Because they see a perfect ideal so clearly," says Booth, "they don't want anything to interfere with that.

"So it may not surprise that the Aquarian tribe claims all of Gertrude Stein, Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer and Susan Sontag.

Then again, their little gathering would have to be rounded out with another Aquarian, one Helen Gurley Brown, she of Cosmopolitan and Sex and the Single Girl.

And the rest of the writerly ranks? Rabelais, Robert Burns, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Jules Verne, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Somerset Maugham, Sinclair Lewis, Norman Mailer... you get the idea.

But those not fortunate enough to actually be Aquarians needn't wholly despair, thinking the next 2,000 years will be completely unbearable.

"No one is pure Aquarius," says Booth. "You look at where all the planets are, where they are in the sky at the time of your birth."Everyone, in other words, has a little Aquarius in them; it's just that those born under that sign have more.

"We're like a bottle of wine, a mixture of different grapes," says Booth. "We've got a little bit of everything."

And it's not as if the Age of Aquarius will sneak up on you suddenly — although one astrological group has already claimed that it began with the spring equinox in 2000, citing, among other things, the alignment of Jupiter and Mars.

That group's website also helpfully noted that, lest there be any uncertainty, people should "look in the east just after dawn to see your first sunrise of the Aquarian Age.

"Most astrologers instead talk about a lengthy, sometimes uneasy transition. And because astrologers tend to go on about cycles within cycles and rare planetary alignments, they're busy deciphering a lot of stellar signs along the way.

Cook, for instance, cites three landmarks we've already passed en route. There's 1892, when Neptune and Pluto came together for the first time in nearly 500 years, ushering in the modern era.

Then there was Uranus and Pluto in the mid to late '60s, the revolutionary period that brought us Hair in the first place.

And finally, Uranus and Neptune in the early 1990s, which spawned some quintessentially Aquarian advances in knowledge and democracy: the Internet and the digital revolution.

But before you strike up a chorus of "Let the Sunshine In" and herald the Aquarian Age, there is, alas, the small matter of global conflict and religious strife to get over first.

"Some would like to think, yeah, we just move into it nice and smooth, and all of a sudden, there's world peace and everyone loves each other," says Booth.

"But it doesn't look like it's happening that way, does it?"

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