Western Astrology begins the year on the Spring Equinox, March 21st, the day the sun enters Aries – at least as we understand it today. Most of us don’t give much thought to the earth’s wobble but it does – slowly and consistently as it spins around its own axis – which means that Spring Equinox will eventually appear in other signs of the zodiac. This is called the Precession of the Equinoxes.
One whole rotation around the Zodiac takes just under 26,000 years (approx. 25,870 years). So, it takes the earth almost 2160 years to travel through one zodiacal sign. The movement flows from the last sign to the first, from Pisces to Aquarius, and so on. Each of these is called an astrological age. Each era, lasting about 2160 years, carries the characteristics of the Zodiac sign present at the time of the Spring Equinox.
Currently, Spring Equinox falls near the beginning of Pisces. And because it is moving backward, we are approaching the end of the Age of Pisces. When the Spring Equinox moves into Aquarius, we will move into that sign and reflect its characteristics for the entire age.
The End of Pisces
Our current calendar began on year one of the common era, or 1 CE. It is arbitrarily based on the date we (erroneously) assigned to the birth of Christ. Before then, there was little or no uniformity in how days and years were measured; calendars began and ended with specific rulership and changed according to whims or wars. We don’t know exactly when the Age of Pisces began or when it will end, but most people believe the Age of Aquarius will begin around the year 2160. We may not know the moment or even the year of this vast change, but our ability to chart our position relative to such grand events may improve by then.
The end of the Age of Pisces, characterized by a forceful and aggressive struggle against the Aquarian age that will eventually overtake it, is in evidence all around us – clues that show us where we stand in this celestial dance. Pisces stands for faith, conviction, sacrifice, and religion. Aquarius represents mental pursuits, innovation and science. As Aquarius prepares to unseat, or conquer Pisces, we can see that religion and science are at war with one another.
At present, it seems that science is winning the battle. But don’t count Pisces out yet. Over the last few decades we have seen evidence that traditional religions, especially fundamentalist ones, are mounting an aggressive comeback. As we get closer to crossing-over into Aquarius, we will see religion fight desperately to reclaim its standing in the world. Of course, it would be better for all of us if these two old enemies found a middle-ground to share, but I don’t see that happening. Pisces is not always the dreamy lover we imagine, it is sometimes a tenacious fish with strong jaws that bite!
The Three Periods of an Era
I am not a frequent student of Astrology. I know just enough to understand a chart or two. But there are some interesting things to note about signs and how they are affected by the specific periods they transit. As the Spring Equinox travels through a Zodiac sign, each era passes through three main stages that correspond to the three qualities of the Zodiac, which are Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. Each sign is associated with one of these three qualities. Pisces is a mutable sign, whereas Aquarius is a fixed sign.
Every sign is further divided into three parts, each spanning ten of the thirty degrees of the sign. Each ten degrees is called a decan, which means ten. The first ten degrees are associated with the cardinal quality, the eleventh to twentieth decan is associated with the fixed decan, and the twenty-first to the thirtieth degree fall in the range of the mutable decan.
Cardinal qualities include leadership, trusting one’s own initiative, and expecting that others will follow. A Fixed quality, as the name suggests, reflects stability without much movement. If this were an individual, he would be unwilling to lead and unable to follow. The mutable quality is associated with following where others lead, even into perilous situations or at great personal cost and sacrifice.
An era is a progression through three decans, each lasting just over 700 years. Since the Spring Equinox moves backwards though the Zodiac, so do the decans. Therefore, the first period of an era is mutable, followed by the fixed decan, and completed by the sign’s cardinal qualities. We are currently in the mutable sign of Pisces, within the framework of the sign’s cardinal qualities.
This progression has been described as an era beginning its search for an identity for the first 700 years, followed by an established and conservative period, and an increasingly battle-prone attempt to remain in power and maintain its dominant position over both the past and the future.
Pisces and the Religious Era
I am not a religious scholar or a well-versed historian, but I would describe our more recent history like this: The first era of Pisces lasted until approximately 720 CE, a time which included the founding of Christianity. This was an exalted time for Pisces, and great sacrifices were made in the name of religion and its founders.
The second decan of the Age of Pisces lasted until approximately 1440 CE. The powerful Christian religion was well-established by then and ruled most of the world. It controlled the affairs of men and of the world at large, and few dared to oppose it.
The third period, circa 1440–2160 CE is still underway. Science and Academia are challenging the religious paradigm, cosmology is being rewritten, and traditional religions have been openly mocked. This is familiar territory for traditional religion as it continues to oppose most alternative views. Its heels are dug in and it is ready for a fight. Its aim will not be Science itself, but the ideals that uphold it. When the battlefields are drawn scientific thinking will be on one side, and blind belief on the other. The grand finale, which could even play out like a scene from a movie, will usher in the Age of Aquarius.
The Age of Aquarius
Every age has features to look forward to and warnings to heed. The Age of Aquarius will honor thinking and celebrate knowledge. Empathy and compassion will be superseded by civility. Logic and reason will be the rule of the day. Science is intolerant of those who do not adhere to its systematic approach to life. Faith, hope, and other charitable pursuits will be pushed further into the realm of far-fetched and fantasy-like beliefs. The Age of Aquarius is will be perfectly suited for rational creatures and linear minds.
Aquarius is one of the fixed signs of the Zodiac. We may not immediately feel these effects during the first, mutable decan of the age, but there will be little doubt by the time we approach the second decan, during the fixed years 2880-3600 CE. Around this time there will be news from other stars, suns, or planets. Something new to be considered before Aquarius yields its power to Capricorn.
The precession of the equinoxes is a cosmic dance of sorts. I have made it seem more like a battle here because that is how the signs exert their power on earth and over humanity; the Greek myths and legends tell their stories so well. There are no real winners or losers, heroes or victims, triumphs or tragedies – but we humans do enjoy participating in a good drama when the opportunity presents itself.