Most of us have probably heard of the coming age of Aquarius. The song from the musical Hair in the 1970s made many people more conscious of this astrological concept, but are we or aren’t we in the age of Aquarius?
There’s much debate about the start date for this age, with many dates suggested ranging from as far back as 1400AD all the way to 3500AD. The reason for the uncertainty is because we don’t have enough information about the cycle of precession due to the very large time scales it involves, where just one age is thought to be 2160 years.
The most common approach to determining which age we are in, is to see which constellation is at the horizon at sunrise on the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere. The problem is that the constellations are not of uniform size, so it is hard to determine where one constellation begins and ends, and whether the ages are of uniform time duration or not. In addition astrology evolves, so that methods of calculation have changed over the millennia. The use of the sun at the vernal equinox was introduced by the Greek astronomer-astrologer Hipparchus in the late 2nd century BC, he applied a mathematical system to this process, since when the sun rises we are unable to see the stars themselves due to the light of the sun.
The early Babylonian astrologers however preferred to make their calculations on what was actually visible to them in the sky, so they looked to the constellation they could see just before the sun rose in the sky on the vernal equinox.
Astrology is a metaphysical system, built largely through a process of observation and correlation; humanity has been accurately calculating and observing astronomical cycles for eons and mapping them to the human mind and the human experience.
Western astrology, which comes to us from ancient Persian astronomers and astrologers, has evolved to view the chart as an effective mirror of the psyche (soul). Because it is a metaphysical system, meaning that it adheres to natural laws that operate above (meta) newtonian physics, the change to a mathematical measurement of the turning of the ages may be incorrect.
The essence of chart calculation in western astrology, is to take a snap-shot of the celestial heavens from the exact position on the planet a person is born; that is to say that a natal chart records the subjective viewpoint we would have had, had we looked up at the sky at the time of our birth. This means that there is something significant about the perception of the heavens by consciousness as a perceiver, and how that correlates to the life of an individual.
Another example of this principle of the need to ‘see’ and thus be consciously aware of specific celestial bodies (planets, asteroids etc) in order for them to be relevant to astrology, is when new planets are discovered. Prior to the discovery of Uranus in 1871, the system of astrology used only 7 prime celestial bodies (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter + Saturn). The idea is that when we discover a new planet, it represents a change in human consciousness as we collectively begin to integrate a new potential. In the case of Uranus this means that we now have a greater capacity to objectify our reality and thus to awaken to any perceived limitation and overcome it through insight. In the same way when the planetoid Chiron was first discovered in 1977, it represented a new emergent capacity within the human potential to understand the mind-body link in regard to health and wellbeing and to develop a new holistic model for healing.
To my mind this is highly suggestive that seeing the constellation in the sky as the ancient Persians did at the vernal equinox just before sunrise, is the true way of determining which age we are actually in; for some reason what we perceive matters.
In short using the current mathematical method that cannot see the constellations in the sky due to the light of the Sun, and thus can only imagine them, we are still in the age of Pisces for a few hundred more years. However using the ancient Babylonian method, we are now in the age of Aquarius; the constellation of Aquarius is visible at the horizon on the vernal equinox just before the sun rises, and has been so for the last few hundred years.