Searching for a New Age...



Definition: [Astrological Ages] In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century a number of writers began a search for a New Age, which eventually culminated in the idea of the Age of Aquarius. A brief history is given below.

It should be noted that the idea of Precession of the Equinoxes is much older than the late nineteenth century. However it isn't until the nineteenth century that writers sought correlations between the sign at the Vernal Equinox and religious or earthly events. Underlying this must have been the idea, prevalent at that time, of the ancient age of the Zodiac.*

* And idea which doesn't stand up to modern scholarship. See the Zodiac Wheels and Babylonian Precession for more on this.

A Brief History of the Age of Aquarius:

c 1870 AD: The Age of the Waterman


In a series of lectures in the second half of the nineteenth century the English 'seer' Gerald Massey [1828 – 1907 AD] connects the sign at the Vernal Equinox with the presentation of how the Messiah was seen at that time: as a Fish when Pisces is the Vernal Equinox sign for example. He states that this connection dates back to Ancient Egypt. He discusses how the signs change because of Precession. He also looks forward to the Equinox entering the Sign of the Waterman at the end of the nineteenth century. This is Jungian 'synchonicity', and a New Age concept eighty years before Jung writes on these subjects.

1888 AD: The Hindu Epoch

Writing in The Secret Doctrine, The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy, [Chapter 17, pp 647 - 668] Helena Petrovna Blavatsky [1831-1891 AD] discusses 'Hindu' astrological epochs. There is no mention in this her most famous work of an Age of Aquarius.

1904 AD: The Age of Horus

Writing in Book of Law, Aleister Crowley declares that "Ra-Hoor-Khuit hath taken his seat in the East at the Equinox of the Gods." He never tells us exactly what the Equinox of the Gods is. He never mentions an Age of Aquarius and there is no sign in his work of the concept of an Astrological Age.

1929 AD: Sun in Aquarius

Writing in the new astrological journal Astrosophie in 1929, Edward Carpenter states: "In 1936, the Sun will enter the constellation of Aquarius ... the beginning of the new sign on the Equinox of Spring."

1937 AD: Ere du Verseau

In 1937 Paul Le Cour publishes the book, Ere du Verseau. Avènement de Ganyméde [Age of Aquarius, the Advent of Ganymede]. This is the first book on the topic and the first explicit mention of an Age of Aquarius. Le Cour states this will start in 2160 AD.

1940 AD: A New Age

In a letter to H. G. Baynes, dated 12th August 1940, Carl Gustav Jung writes: "1940 is the year when we approach the meridian of the first star in Aquarius.  It is the premonitory earthquake of the New Age. [C G Jung Letters, Volume I, 1906-1950, p 285]. This is his first mention of the subject, and the closeness of the date to that of Carpenter indicates that he is basing this idea on Carpenter's work.

1944 AD: A New Age

Writing in Discipleship in the New Age - Volume I , [Part I of Volume 1] Alice Bailey states: "There is the emergence of a new kingdom in nature, the fifth kingdom ... Group endeavor, carried forward as a group, to love all beings and to apprehend and understand the true significance of the Aquarian technique of group love and work." This very oblique reference is the first in her work to anything Aquarian in the context of a New Age.

1951 AD: The Aquarian Age

Writing in Aion, [Chapter IV, The Sign of the Fishes] Carl Gustav Jung discusses an Aquarian Age. He has abandoned the 1940 start date and offers several possible dates between 1997 and 2154 AD, though he now notes that "Since the delimitation of the constellations is known to be somewhat arbitrary, this date is very indefinite."

The New Age is Born Prematurely: One of the strangest aspects of the Age of Aquarius is it's early birth in the popular imagination. Why, as it doesn't really arrive until about 2600 AD are we so interested in it now?

The culprit for this seems to be the idea of a Platonic Month, a mistake which goes back to the earliest writing on the subject, that of Gerald Massey in late nineteenth century. Given the idea that a Platonic Month is a little over 2100 years long, and that the Sun moved into Pisces, at the Vernal Equinox, at a date perhaps a century before the birth of Christ, its very tempting to add 2100+ years to that past date and getting a date very close to the your particular present day [from Massey's 1900 to Carpenter's 1936 AD to the current passion for 2012 AD].

However this is very poor astrology. As Jung notes, an Astrological Age "refers to the actual constellation of fixed stars, not to ... the zodiac divided into sectors of 30º each." [C G Jung Aion Chapter IV, The Sign of the Fishes, Footnote 84, 1951 AD ]. Pisces is rather more than 30º in length along the Ecliptic and so the Age of Pisces stretches out before us for another 600 years.

Searching For a New Age in the 20th Century...

5:  Searching for a New Age in the 20th Century... 
5a:  Gerald Massey & the Sign of the Waterman [c 1880 AD] 
5b:  Helena Blavatsky and the Hindu Epoch [1887 AD] 
5c:  Aleister Crowley and the Age of Horus [1904 AD] 
5d:  Edward Carpenter and the Age of Aquarius [1929 AD] 
5e:  Paul Le Cour and the Age of Aquarius [1937 AD] 
5f:  Carl Gustav Jung and the Age of Aquarius [1940 AD] 
5g:  Alice Bailey and the 'Ageless Wisdom' [1944 AD] 
5h:  Carl Gustav Jung and the Age of Pisces [1950] 
5i:  Jung's 'Platonic' Month [1950 AD] 
5j:  Jung's 'Platonic' Year [1950 AD] 
5k:  Carl Gustav Jung and the Age of Capricornus [1961 AD] 

© Dr Shepherd Simpson, Astrological Historian.


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