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Entering the Two Thousand Plus Years of Aquarius: Egypt and the Story of the Decanates

Steve Nation
February 2011

The human mind and heart is, it seems, still resonating to the shouts and accomplishment of the young people of Egypt — young intelligent creative people who stood up against cruel thugs to demand the freedom to be themselves and to allow their nation to be true to the dreams and aspirations of its people. The discipline, courage, intelligence and persistence of the demonstrators sent a wave of joy and a renewed faith in the future throughout the collective consciousness of humanity. Who knows, perhaps the animals, the plants and minerals of the Earth also sensed some psychic echo of this lighted wave of human creativity.

It's true that the joy of Egypt has been tinged by intelligent concern about the country's future. To what extent will the new constitutional, legal and political environment be able to resist or out-maneuver powerful established forces of totalitarian, autocratic rule with their entrenched spy networks and elites trained to protect the ruling class against the people? To what extent will structural cruelty be overcome? A popular revolution, triumphantly non-violent, marks the beginning of what will inevitably be a long process where the ideals of freedom become rooted in the structures, relationships and institutions of what we hope will be a truly New Egypt.

There is much of singular achievement to celebrate — this was different from the revolutions of Eastern Europe, or the triumphant ending of apartheid in South Africa. The revolution in Egypt was leaderless - or rather as an excellent piece in the latest monthly newsletter from Australia's Sydney Goodwill Unit of Service reminds us, it was 'leaderful'. The Newsletter (available by email from ) quotes a commentator who used this term, referring to a movement where in a spontaneous, unplanned, organic way … through the mass consciousness enabled by Facebook, Twitter, and the like … everyone takes a shared leadership, shared responsibility role.

In another inspiring commentary on Egypt, David Spangler writes of an understanding shared with him by a Presence who he thought of as an 'Angel of Humanity'. The Presence suggested: What is happening here is part of a process that goes beyond Egypt and its concerns. It is a human occurrence. It is one expression, conditioned by the circumstances of the Middle East, of an unfoldment that all humanity is experiencing, not just Egyptians or Arabs. This is the most important thing to know. David Spangler, reflecting on this, notes: We can realize that we are all facing and struggling with a need to change and go beyond our current ways of treating each other and our world if we are all going to have a livable future, much less realize the fullness of our human potential. In this sense he suggests that we are all called to revolution: It is the oppression of [an] inner tyranny of ancient and outworn thoughts, emotions, habits, and beliefs that all of us, all of humanity, is now struggling against, like a butterfly trying to break out of a cocoon. We are all being called to make our way to the Tahrir Square of our minds and hearts, there to stand together and demand the old ways step down so a new humanity may emerge.

Imagine how the substance of the esoteric community's approach to the energies of Aquarius this full moon will be conditioned by thoughts such as these, prompted by the explosion of energy in the streets of Egypt and now throughout the Middle East.

For now, however, let us enter into a space of silent Being — at one with all who are meditating for world service at this time — and open to the livingness of that Great Avatar, the Aquarian Christ - He who Shows the Light and Gives the Water [Esoteric Astrology, p. 273.]

In Aquarius the Light given by the Great One Who is destined to appear again, perhaps in our lifetime, shines through all the natural barriers of self-centeredness that have been built throughout history so that we can begin to see and feel the new humanity that is in process of being born. Just to be able to get a glimpse of what is happening to the human spirit is an incredible gift. In this Light we see the love and the group consciousness that is emerging in us and in our societies — even if what can be seen now is only the vague outlines of what will, in future generations, be an abundant spirit of love and group awareness, still we see the seeds sprouting now, clearly and what is more we see their vitality and their beauty. We are inspired and uplifted by this new quality of human — it resonates within us and draws us to make our own deep, sometimes-courageous choices.

In Aquarius the Waters of Life flow out and through all the fields of group mind and heart pioneering the new humanity. They flow freely, abundantly, without restrictions, blockages or repressions. These Waters of Life have magical properties. They cleanse and purify; heal and redeem; they quench the unspoken, hidden thirst for meaning and purpose, for joy and beauty, for a new experience of the majesty and magnificence of the sacred that is to be found within. The great image of these Waters of Life, and of the Christ as the One Who Shows the Light and Gives the Water is an image of a flow of life-sustaining energy outwards to those in need … as these waters flow they can be noticed in all the transparent, intelligent and heart-full caring about the wholeness and integrity of Life that we find today. This is the sort of caring that leads naturally to some form of action. Seeds of community, of creativity and of love are today being fed and nourished by the flow of these Waters of Life.

This is our time — this time of entrance into Aquarius. We are the ones whose lives provide the substance for humanity's passage into the first decanate of the Age of Aquarius. That is really something to ponder over when we hold the keynote for Aquarius in the light of the Soul: Water of Life am I, poured forth for thirsty men.

There are many unique insights in the Bailey books on the transition into the Aquarian Age and how fundamental this transition is to our understanding of events and of what is happening in consciousness during the final decades of the twentieth century and these beginning decades of the twenty-first.

The main passage about the sign of the Water Carrier in Alice Bailey's book, Esoteric Astrology, begins with a reminder of how hugely significant this constellation is to the solar system as a whole as well as to human affairs and to the psyche of all of us. The sun is rapidly entering into the constellation Aquarius: its influence is gaining in momentum and added potency with each vanishing decade. It is, therefore, largely responsible for the changes now being effected in our planetary life in all the kingdoms of nature, and, because it is an air sign, its influence is all -pervasive and inter-penetrating. [p. 134] This passage was communicated to Alice Bailey by DK sometime during the years 1939 - 1942.

Today, some seven decades later it is possible to see something of the extent to which the Life giving Waters are beginning to flow. Seven decades is of course only the briefest passage of time in what will be an epoch of over two thousand years. But the time of most intense change in this epoch is inevitably our time, the opening decades and centuries of Aquarius. We are only in the very beginnings of the Age and Pisces continues to be very much present — we still look to the future as a New Age — it has not yet been born, it remains slightly mysterious and our thinking about it is often idealistic, sometimes even sentimental because, even though we may have some understanding of the principles of the Age, we don't yet know what its human shape will be, the hands and feet of the civilization are as yet unformed, we know little about the details or the structures that will unfold (the economics, the politics, the environmental relationships) or even the psychology of this new era. Still the birthing is in process whether we can see it or not.

There are different systems of astrology (Western, Vedic, Chinese etc) and within each system there tend to be different traditions. One of the Western approaches used by the Tibetan looks at the passage of time through the two thousand plus years of an astrological age in terms of three primary sub-divisions — three decanates or phases. A particular planet influences each decanate. So right now we are in the beginning phases of the first decanate of Aquarius.

One of DK's unique contributions to astrology is the teaching on the direction that an individual, or a group or a nation or a culture, passes around the wheel of the horoscope. When the reincarnating soul's primary task is involution, immersing itself in matter, it puts down roots so that it can build through a sequence of manifestations a strong, independent elemental structure — a substantial shadow if you like. During this process the focus is, appropriately and rightly, on building personality and the soul is said to enter the wheel of the zodiac in a clockwise direction. But evolution leads to a great turning of the astrological wheel as the personality wakes up to the presence of the soul and finally chooses to begin the work of becoming the soul in expression. After this great turning, the soul enters the wheel of the zodiac, life after life, in an anti-clockwise direction. After the turning the human experience is very much about responding to the soul's vision and presence. Responding to the soul is of course not straightforward. It may mean a battle against the impulses of the higher self, putting energy into suppressing the impulses of the soul — its not always a story of beautiful, loving light — the reshaping of the substance of our lives around soul principles and insights is often a traumatic and certainly uncomfortable process - the building up of tensions and release of forces can be akin to an earthquake!

It is worth noting that the astrological approach suggested by DK gives another perspective to the writings of Joanna Macy, David Korten and others on the Great Turning.

The esoteric view on the reversal of the wheel and on the decanates has some serious implications for our approach to the birthing of the Aquarian Age. Firstly the masses of human beings, in all cultures and societies, north and south, east and west, tend to be on the involutionary path. The soul is moving, life after life, around the wheel of the horoscope in a clockwise direction. For this vast group of individual lives the Aquarian Age begins with the decanate of Venus (in other words this current period of several hundred years), passes on to Mercury and culminates, at the end of the Age, in a cycle influenced by Saturn. But those human beings who are in some way engaged in relationship with the ethical principles and livingness of the soul enter the Aquarian Age in the decanate conditioned by Saturn. Much later in the Age they will pass on to a cycle of several centuries influenced by Mercury and will mark the culmination of the Age in Venus.

What does all this mean? It has huge significance in how we understand this time of transformation. For vast numbers of individual's entrance into the Aquarian Age under the influence of Venus means that instinctual mind or affection is stimulated and developed — this is brotherly love in embryo, but it is not that aspect of mind in which intelligent brotherly love breathes — it is romantic, personal attachment, emotional sensitivity to another, bonding. Many hundreds of years later those on the clockwise wheel will pass under the influence of Mercury when there will be a slow unfolding of the mind — and then in the final centuries of the Age (when the coming Age of Capricorn will begin to unsettle things) Saturn will foster conflicts with the accompanying suffering and, as a result, right at the end of the Age, the vast bulk of the human family will learn to choose rightly, analyse correctly and set their feet upon the path of right values. [Esoteric Astrology, p. 283]

This sounds like a depressing vision of Aquarius — we have to wait for thousands of years before right choice even begins to be considered. But, there is another more significant dynamic at play. The first thing to note about this is that those who have passed through the Great Turning and have begun in some way to tread the path enter this initial phase of the Aquarian Age under the influence of Saturn, not Venus. The teachings speak of the experience of the millions of seekers, aspirants, probationers and disciples in this first phase of Aquarius: Saturn is the planet of discipleship and of opportunity; it is exceedingly active today, presenting to the world disciple those difficult situations and crises which will involve free choice, discriminative pioneering, wise response and correct decision, thus bringing about the destruction of that which hinders without the relinquishing of any true values of which humanity may be aware. [Esoteric Astrology, p. 148]. The second and most important thing to note about this is that even back in the late 1930's when DK was giving out these teachings, before the wave of idealism that swept the world after the Second World War, the proportion of aspirants and thinking idealists, those on the reverse wheel, was greater than at any previous time in human history. This generated a Great Turning of the wheel for humanity as a whole — the human species was and is now entering Aquarius through Saturn. This is in spite of the fact that the vast masses of human beings continue to be in the involutionary phase.

The overall dynamic about our time is that individuals, groups and societies are choosing a way forward. There is a huge potential that we will, in the main, choose principles of wholeness and service to the common good, but this is not going to be automatic. It depends on each one of us. The fact that the process of choosing is difficult and involves considerable conflict just shows how deep the choices being made are. And the difficulties also reflect the fact that while society as a whole is on the discipleship path, large numbers of people in all societies are still developing the instinctual mind and growing in their affections — many of the choices society is considering seem unrelated to their lives. Doesn't this tell us something about the politics and economics of our response to climate change, global poverty and sustainable development? The overwhelming narrative has to become one that challenges the inspiration and vision of the discipleship group (the collective spirit) while still appealing to those who are passing into Aquarius under the influence of Venus. There is a conflict here, but the key theme of the teachings is that out of this conflict the New Civilization is being born. It is during these next few hundred years that the forms and structures of local, national and international life will emerge out of the fires of crisis and choice.