The Cycle of Ages—The Great Year
Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years…all familiar cycles within cycles. But there is another cycle that we seldom think about. It is the cycle of ages within what is called the Great Year and it, through astrological influences, affects, dictates, and impacts nations, weather patterns, governments, and changes in national tastes, behaviors, tendencies, and fashions.
The Great Year has a cycle of about 25,868 years, during which time all the signs of the Zodiac take turns influencing the Earth and its inhabitants. The time the Earth spends under the influence of each sign is called a “Great Month.” The Earth moves through each sign slowly (about every 2,000 years) creating the opportunity for its influences to affect large numbers of people and geological occurrences.
Procession of Equinoxes
This whole process is due to something called the “Procession of the Equinoxes. Because of a slight wobble in the Earth’s rotation, the constellation that the Earth appears to be passing in front of at the vernal equinox (around March 21), gradually changes, moving backward through the zodiac. We are now in the “age” of Pisces, going into the “age” of Aquarius.
The astrological sign for each great month is also influenced by its opposite (six signs away) sign. This is known as “polarity.” For example, the influences now are Pisces and Virgo. When we enter the Aquarian age, Leo will also be a prominent influence.
Although this has been going on as long as there has been a Zodiac and Earth, the earliest Great Month we have any real knowledge of is Leo, around 10,000-8000 BC.
LEO/AQUARIUS (10,000-8000 BC):
Leo, ruled by the Sun itself was important to this age of humans. In their primitive, coming-into-being stage of development, creativity was the highlight of this age. Basic inventions and discoveries such as fire, the wheel, stone arrowheads and tools, beautiful and bold carvings and cave paintings all reflect the influences of Leo and its opposite sign of Aquarius.
CANCER/CAPRICORN (c. 9000 BC):
Here, humans emerged from caves and began forming more complex societies. They were less and less nomadic and started farming. This was first seen in China, Egypt, India and Mesopotamia. Fertility cults and rites abounded and were characterized by round, female carvings with large breasts and stomachs. These “Venus fetishes” were used in many of the emerging cultures of the time, but especially from Turkey and Yugoslavia. This strongly showed the influence of Cancer, ruled by the Moon and representing fertility and motherhood, as well as the home. The spiritual practices shifted, during this period from worshipping the Sun, to worshipping the Moon.
GEMINI/SAGITTARIUS (6000-4000 BC):
Gemini is ruled by Mercury, god of the intellect, communication, and mobility. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, god of gods, religion, large and dramatic changes, truth, and knowledge. Here is when writing developed. The written word is probably the first sweeping invention to change global society on a grand scale. Starting with rough symbolic icons on pottery, writing was quickly refined into the complex cuneiform and the pictogram Hieroglyphics of China and Egypt.
Religion also became more formalized and the first groups of humans came together in a formal setting to learn and acquire knowledge. This is the beginning of the university system. It is also in this age that we see the first widespread use of the wheel, which enabled humans to communicate and commune with others at greater and greater distances.
TAURUS/SCORPIO (4000-2000 BC):
In this age, humans become grounded. Taurus, the Bull constellation is ruled by the planet Venus and is concerned with physical comfort, beauty, music, and solidarity. Scorpio, ruled by Pluto is fascinated by death, rebirth, secrets, and intensity. During this time, worship of the sacred Apis Bull was a widespread cult. The temples of the time were both massive and solid and light, graceful, and airy, an effect that is dizzying to the visitor even today.
Scorpio came into play with the Egyptians (and other well-known cultures such as Crete and Mesopotamia) and their preoccupation with death. Their massive tombs and elaborate mummification rites reflect Scorpio’s influence. Even in the Judeo/Christian cults, the story of Moses coming down the mountain to see the followers worshiping a golden calf tells the story of a changing from the age of Taurus into the next age of Aries, symbolized by the Ram.
ARIES/LIBRA (2000 BC-100 AD):
As mentioned above, Moses symbolizes the change from the age of Taurus, into the age of Aries. Mars and Venus both rule this age. Mars whose Arian urge is for conquest and war, was oddly combined with Venus’ Libran need for peace and balance. During this time the architecture changed from the massive stone temples and mud brick palaces to the delicate elegance of Greek temples, homes and public buildings. Ram worship abounded and war was everywhere.
Conquest after conquest, humans tested their ability to expand and rule. The wandering warlike tribes of Israel are a good example. They were as bloodthirsty as they were religious and their daily temple sacrifices of goats and sheep had a river of blood streaming down a gutter day and night. Violence was typically depicted in art, especially in Greek pottery. And yet, this was the time when balance and equilibrium was also sought after. Wars and conquests made way for more equality in government, human rights, and a voting senate. Architecture and literature had a symmetry and elegant beauty that can be found in every culture of the day.
PISCES/VIRGO (100 -2000 AD):
In religion, Jesus is the figure that most represents the moving from Aries into Pisces. The symbol of Christians was and is the fish, which also symbolizes Pisces. Jesus, referred to as the Lamb of God, is also associated with “fishers of men.” Fish were scratched as secret signs on the walls of the catacomb meeting places near Rome, Italy.
The Pisces polarity of Virgo, the Virgin is aptly represented in the mythology of the Virgin Mary, and through the central theme of Christianity, which is peace, love, humility, and charity. Pisces is a sign of spirituality, inner exploration, and emotions. During this time the birth of psychiatry, psychology, non-traditional spiritual practices, and the joining of the Eastern and Western spiritual thought have taken place.
Virgo dissects, questions, finds out how things work, makes things smaller and more efficient. The rise in technology speaks for itself here. A computer that would once have taken up acres of room to operate even at the most basic level, can now be put on a chip so small it cannot be seen without great magnification.
AQUARIUS/LEO (2000 – 4000 AD):
Although according to many, the Aquarian Age doesn’t really start until around 2300, the “New Age” is showing its influence in space travel, a greater concern for the human rights in the world, a desire to disarm and practice what we preach about global peace, and an increasing dependence on technology and science.
The keyword for Aquarius is “humanity,” and hopefully, the age of Aquarius will bring more and more global unity and concern for the human race as a whole, aside from nationalistic greed and avarice. Leo can temper Aquarius’ tendency to leap before looking, and to keep creativity flowing. Aquarius cares about humanity but sometimes neglects those close at hand. Leo can bring concern and caring to those near and dear.
The Great Months of the Great Year are also influenced by many smaller planetary cycles. And the whole process forms a complex web of effects that form a symphony of trends, changes, and evolution. As we grow more and aware and spiritually mature, we use these cycles and influences for higher and higher purposes. I am hopeful that there will one day be a real Golden Age.