What is the "New Age"?
by Donna M. Pinkston, M.A.
When speaking with a colleague about my 15-year involvement with the New Age movement, I found myself having to define what the "New Age" was. I realized then that those of us involved with this movement throw this abstract term around with a common definition and understanding among us. However, for those who are not involved, or just starting to become involved, it would help to have a definition of the movement in concrete, behavioral terms.
As we move into the 21st century, we move into a new age. This is an astronomical phenomenon called "precession," which is caused by the wobbling motion of the earth as it spins in its own axis. A year consists of 365 days; this is how long it takes the earth to revolve around the sun one full cycle. Precession (which causes day and night) causes its cycle around the sun in a years time to be short by about fifty seconds. There are sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in a degree, and 360 degrees in a circle; a cycle is a 360-degree circle.
Ages are determined by looking (from planet Earth) at what fixed constellation in the zodiac belt is behind the sun at spring equinox. To say that we are entering the Aquarian Age is to say that at spring equinox (March 20-21), from the earths perspective, the constellation Aquarius is in the background of the sun.
Each Age lasts approximately 2100 years. As each year passes, fifty seconds are lost, so each year we are ending the cycle a little short of a full circle. This is why the Ages (identified by the constellations) go backward from Aries, Pisces, Aquarius, and so on.
Through archeological studies and later actual written documentation, we are able to see different patterns from each Age. I will do a brief overview of the last four.
Beginning with the Age of Gemini (6480-4320 B.C), we mostly have mythological stories. The most common is that of Adam and Eve, male and female twins, Gemini. Before this era were figurines of the pregnant goddess. Goddess worship was predominant because it was recognized that women gave birth, therefore the Divine must be feminine. It was during the Age of Gemini that humans learned that it took both man and woman to create life.
Always in a given Age, the opposite constellation, being its polarization, has much influence on it as well. The polar opposite of Gemini is Sagittarius, the centaur.
Humans are animals, more specifically mammals, and even more specifically primates. Like the centaur (whose lower half is horse and upper half human), humans attempt to conquer their animal nature and strive to be more. Like the Sagittarius centaur, who holds a bow in its hand about to release an arrow, humans strive still to be more and reach for the heavens to understand the spiritual and connect with the Divine.
Next we have the Taurean Age (4320-2160 B.C.). Historically, we know that humans changed from being nomadic hunters and gatherers to being an agrarian civilization. Taurus, the bull, represents material possession. When the men went out hunting, they left the women behind to gather. While gathering, women learned the art of growing food and domesticating animals.
Looking toward Taurus polar opposite for more insight to the Age, we see Scorpio, the constellation that focuses on death. It was during this time period that the Egyptians began to mummify their dead. Preserving the body is very Taurean in that it focuses on the material, yet very Scorpion with its focus on death.
The Arian Age is from 2160 B.C. to AD. 1. Aries (in Greek mythology) is very masculine and assertive, quite different from Taurus and Venus female energy. Historically, this is when the nomadic tribes, like the Hebrews and Greeks, came down from the mountains and conquered the already existing civilizations. Patriarchal rule officially began. This is reflected in the rewriting of mythological stories.
Zeus came and conquered the local goddess shrines, as reflected in his constant infidelity to Hera and domination of many mortal women. Calling the local goddesses mortal women was just another means of domination. The patriarchal Hebrews were originally a nomadic tribe that lived in the Middle Eastern mountains. They had no home or land of their own until they conquered Canaan. Canaanite, Sumerian, and Babylonian myths were rewritten with a male-dominant slant.
The polar opposite constellation to Aries is Libra, the scales, symbol of justice and balance. This is reflected in the establishment of social order, rules, and laws during that era.
Thus far, our walk through the Ages has been based on archeological findings and written documentation of human history. However, in this next Age we have a more personal experience because we have been living it. The Piscean Age (A.D. 1-2160) is marked by the advent of Jesus Christ and Buddha. Jesus and his disciples were fishermen; Pisces is the fish. Pisces also deals with life on a karmic level. Buddhas focus was on the release of karmic ties. Jesus took on the karma of humankind by taking on its sins.
The polar opposite constellation to Pisces is Virgo, the virgin, reflected in Jesus mother, Mary. It is recorded that Buddhas mother was also a virgin. Virgo is very finite, definite, and exact. This is reflected in Christianitys focus on right and wrong behavior.
When we entered the Piscean Age, there was a synthesis of religions revolving around the Mediterranean. Many of the stories about Jesus existed two to seven hundred years before his arrival and were associated with various grain gods. For example, Jesus, Adonis, Mithra, Attis and Buddha were all virgin-born. December 25th is the birthday celebration of Mithra, Attis, and Jesus. As grain lies in a manger, so do Mithra, Jesus and Dionysius.
As sacrificial grain gods, Adonis, Mithra, Attis, Dionysius and Osiris all die around spring equinox. This is when the grain is harvested in the Mediterranean. Each is resurrected in three days. This story symbolizes the cutting of the grain and how the grain will grow again. Adonis is stabbed in the groin as Jesus is stabbed in the side. Mithra has twelve disciples and his myth includes the Last Supper.
The story of the three wise men announcing the birth of Jesus dates back to 1550 B.C. It is the story of Osiris. The three wise men are the three stars Mintaka, Alnilam, and Alnitak in the constellation Orion. These stars come out before the star Sirius appears in the sky. When Sirius appears, the Nile floods, fertilizing the land. This makes Sirius or Osiris the Egyptian savior.
With the Aquarian Age, we see a new synthesis of spiritual beliefs that encompasses various cultures throughout the world. This is because with the New Age comes modern technology, allowing us to know more about the world around us. With the humanitarian ways of Aquarius, the movement embraces all religions, spiritual beliefs, healing practices, and philosophies. Aquarius pieces things together so that everyone can live harmoniously. This is why we are seeing the rise in popularity pertaining to things like acupuncture, aromatherapy, astrology, Feng Shui, herbal medicine, I Ching, Kabbalah, kundalini, massage therapy, and Jungian psychology.
The New Age is also being influenced by Aquarius polar opposite constellation, Leo, which brings to the Age movement, creativity, and the advancement of the arts. Leos ruling planet is the sun, so Leo is responsible for the increased use of solar and nuclear power.
Living between two Ages creates a portal that allows us to look more deeply into the mysteries of life. With Aquarius influence, people are taking what they see in this portal and (like a puzzle) piecing together a bigger picture. This, in turn, is answering many outstanding philosophical questions about existence as well as answering personal questions and resolving both national and personal problems.
We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to experience the changing of an Age. The images before us change so quickly, it is hard to know for sure which things will remain and how things will be for future generations. There is a responsibility that comes with living on the cusp, for we are the people who are predetermining the way of the future. We must carefully pick and choose what we wish to pass on. I, for one, would like to see a loving acceptance and respect among and between all life.
Donna M. Pinkston, M.A. is a mental health counselor in private practice. She blends traditional modes of therapy with various mystical, magickal, New Age, and pagan philosophies and practices. She can be reached at (206) 726-2808. See her ad, titled "Works Like Magick," in The New Times' "Signs of the Times" advertising directory under "Health Services: Therapy & Counseling."