4 may 2007
During the considerable part of my life that I have devoted to sky lore in its astrological, astronomical, and mythological aspects, I often found it difficult to make sense of the material, and tended to get bogged down in a morass of images and associations. Much of what I learned over the years eventually became manageable and coherent due to what I found in the Dendera Zodiac. Among other things, the DZ showed me how to situate our moment in history in relation to the dawning of the Aquarian Age.
The Dendera Zodiac, color-coded: BLUE = circumpolar constellations;
ORANGE-OCHRE = the Zodiac or ecliptic constellations; RED = non-
Ecliptic; GREY-BLACK = hieratic and planetary figures, including Horus the sacred hawk, perched on a scepter; YELLOW = the 36 decans or lunar increments, defining the perimeter.
The DZ is one of the most well-known sacred calendric artifacts in the world, on the level of Stonehenge and the Aztec calendar stone, yet only one book has been written on it: Le zodiaque de Denderah by Albert Slosman (1980), out of print. I was lucky to come across it by chance in a rundown public library in Brussels. Slosman's main interest is the Osirian rites of resurrection, depicted in elaborate murals at the temple of Isis where the DZ was discovered by the Napoleonic expedition. He does not say anything remarkable about the structure and intention of the Egyptian Zodiac enshrined at Dendera. Everyone writing on ancient megalithic sites and astronomical temples alludes to this fabulous artifact, but without exploring it in depth, or attempting to decode its lavish imagery.
Like many others, I first learned about the Dendera Zodiac from reading Secrets of the Great Pyramid (1971) by Peter Tompkins. His six-page discussion of the planisphere follows the work of Schwaller de Lubicz (The Temple of Man) and Norman Lockyer (The Dawn of Astronomy, ), arguably the two godfathers of archeoastronomy. Neither of these venerable authors, nor the genial Tompkins himself, presents anything like an in-depth study of the artifact, just some random and tantalizing details about its design.
An on-line tour of Dendera: http://www.galenfrysinger.com/egypt_dendera.htm
Blackened and eroded, some of its figures partially effaced, the Dendera Zodiac resembles a stone slab salvaged from a burned-out building, yet it emanates an aura of high ceremonial splendor. As if offered up to the sky in a hallowed rite, the planisphere is supported by sixteen figures: four stately standing goddesses and four pairs of kneeling, hawk-headed guardians with forearms crossed. Their positioning confers an external symmetry that plays like a cadence around the four sides of the square enclosing the celestial matrix. It is easy to imagine these celestial attendants letting the bowl of the skies rotate through their hands, like a weightless disk. The motion of the spiral vortex of the heavens focalizes at the central point of the ensemble: an exact spot beneath the right front paw of the jackal god, Anubis, depicting the constellation of Ursa Minor, the Little Bear.
An undisputed masterpiece of sacred art, the Dendera Zodiac stands in a class by itself. It is the sole complete working Zodiac that survives from antiquity. Other globes, models and maps that might be compared to it are technically inferior, and merely decorative. Intended for use in on-site observations, the artifact at Dendera is aligned correctly to the cardinal points. Its functional value is complemented by its aesthetic and symbolic properties. The Zodiacal ensemble is a wonder of formal elegance that becomes more impressive with close study over time. Each raised image on the soft sandstone seems to have its own purpose within the whole, yet the overall composition is not immediately evident.
The impression that the figures must cohere into a unified plan leaves us wondering just how they do. What will it take to detect the informing pattern? Like the Great Pyramid of Giza, this relic comes without a user’s manual. The means to fathom its hidden order and unlock its encoded message will be discovered by interaction with the artifact, using it as it was intended.
Ultimately, the revelation enshrined at Dendera has to emerge from our own minds as we come to understand and apply the informing principles of this magnificent artifact. Dendera Decoded, unpublished MS, Chapter One.
Schwaller de Lubicz identified four axes in the infrastructure of the DZ, and all subsequent investigators follow his lead. Sacred Science contains a line drawing of the planisphere showing all figures in accurate proportions and positions. (The line drawing provided by the Louvre is less neat and inaccurate.) From the clear rendering of the raised figures on the sandstone artifact, it is relatively easy to detect the infrastructure of axes encoded with precessional dates.
Whoever executed its graphic design—most likely artisans working under the direction of astronomer-priests—arranged the raised figures in a way that had to have been predetermined. The core structure consists of two intersecting circles, one centered on the right front paw of the jackal god Anubis, the other centered on the nipple of the left breast of the hippopotamus goddess, Tu-Art, the Egyptian image of the constellation of Draco, the Dragon of the Pole. The graphic layout of the Zodiacal figures on the planisphere conforms perfectly to the infrastructure, so the alignments that can be detected cannot have been accidental, contrived, or superimposed. The alignments (i.e., the axial features encoding dates and cosmic directions) had to have been been inscribed before the figures were carved.
Like the pyramid of Giza, Stonehenge, and other ancient megaliths, the Dendera Zodiac is an example of what P. D. Ouspensky (In Search of the Miraculous) called "intentional art"—that is, a work of sacred art deliberately encoded with information.
After many years of studying the Dendera Zodiac, I discovered a fifth axis that encodes the end of the current precessional cycle, 2216 CE. An alignment marked by the star Spica in the head of the sheaf of wheat held by Virgo-Isis defines a right-angle to the galactic center. The fifth axis transects Pisces at a point near the position of the spring equinox (VP) today, so it appears that the designers of Dendera were looking forward to our moment in time. In fact, they plotted the turnover of the Kalpa, the great cycle of 25,920 years, using the galactic center to determine the midnight hour, as explained in the previous article. They were not looking ahead to our time, today, but to a moment about two centuries in the future. Pictured graphically on the Zodiacal display of the DZ, two degrees is a minute increment.
The Dendera Zodiac sets us on course for precessional endtime, the big moment for which 2012 is a preparatory tremor. The "waves" emanating from Aquarius are like seismic ripples that precede a massive earthquake: i.e., the turnover of the Kalpa in 2216 CE.
Within its overall symmetry and astronomical accuracy, the DZ displays striking anomalies. The Twins, Crab, and the Scales are inset, creating the impression that the Zodiacal circle spirals inward, inverting upon its center. Another odd feature is the considerable gap between the Fishes and the Waterbearer—Pisces and Aquarius, if you prefer the astrological terms. Traditional graphic renditions of these constellations always follow the astronomical composites, the real-sky constellations as distinguished from the astrological signs, and place the urn on the right side of the Waterbearer, with one of the Fishes swimming toward or into the currents flowing from it.
The DZ presents another way to visualize these star-patterns. It has Aquarius standing rather than sitting and it makes it face the Goatfish, so that the waters from the two small urns touch the tail of that mythical animal. This unusual way of picturing Aquarius suggests that Capricorn, the Goatfish, swims from the waters of the urns, while traditional sky atlases have the western Fish of Pisces swim into those waters.
Nothing pictured in the Dendera Zodiac, no single detail no matter how slight, is accidental, sloppy, or arbitrary. The designers show the Aquarian figure, who represents the first Age to dawn after the full turnover of the Kalpa, in a position unusually distanced from the Fishes. This again is an anomalous feature. Other Zodiacal figures in the bas-relief touch each other, or even overlap, as some of the real-sky composites do. The gaping space in the DZ suggests a "long haul" from Pisces to Aquarius, or even a break, a rupture in the long-range continuity of the Ages. I am convinced that the DZ designers were deliberate in depicting the Pisces-Aquarius shift in this way because they lived in the historical moment when their tradition had expired, the sunset moment of Egyptian civilization, and they looked ahead to the future with apprehension and uncertainty, feeling doubtful about the survival of sacred knowledge through the Piscean Age. We today are living through the distended, uncertain interval they foresaw—the unfinished business of the Piscean Age.
This interpretation of how Egyptian seers living over 2000 years ago thought about our time is not mere speculation. There is textual evidence to support it. The Hermetica records the initiates' grief about what had been lost, and their concern for the long-term future:
Since it is fitting that wise men should have knowledge of all things before they come to pass, you must not be left in ignorance of this: there will come a time when it will be seen that in vain have the Egyptians honored the deity with heartfelt piety and assiduous service; and all our holy worship will be found bootless and ineffectual. For Egypt will be forsaken, and the land which was once the home of religion will be left desolate, bereft of the presence of its deities. The land and region will be filled with foreigners.. men will neglect the service of the gods... To thee, most holy Nile, I cry, to thee I foretell that which shall be; swollen with torrents of blood, thou shall rise to the level of thy banks, and thy sacred waves will not only be stained, but utterly fouled with gore... (Asclepius III, 24b, in Hermetica, Walter Scott trans., Shambhala, Boston, 1985, Vol. I, p 341-2)
The lament goes on for two more pages, concluding gloomily that "all good will disappear from the world." But then the teacher, Hermes Trismegistos (Mystery name for an adept able to perceive the threefold Light of Isis), assures his pupil, Asclepius, that the supreme deity will cleanse the earth by water and fire and call back humanity to the right path. "The deity will bring this world to its former aspect, so that the Kosmos will once more be deemed worthy of worship and wondering reverence" (Ibid., 26a).
The Egyptian seers who left us the Hermetica announced a return to the Golden Age, represented by Aquarius, the first Age to unfold after the midnight hour in 2216 CE, although it does not dawn immediately with the turnover of the Kalpa. They knew that the future Age would eventually arrive, after about 600 years, and they must have sensed with keen apprehension what humanity would have to go through before it did.
The DZ exaggerates the gap between the Fishes and the Osiris-like figure of the Waterbearer, showing the water poured in two streams toward the Goatfish, unlike traditional images that show the western Fish of Pisces as if it were swimming into the water gushing from the urn. Between the Fishes is the "Tablet of Destiny" (Pegasus square). Below the western Fish is a priestess of Isis holding a pig by the tail, symbolic indication of a lunar eclipse. A Janus-faced, star-crowned figure representing a planet strides toward the Waterbearer.
The DZ designers were rigorous in their graphic representation of the Pisces-Aquarius shift. Their foresight in precessional timing carries a profound lesson. The DZ shows pictorially the actual dynamics of cosmic timing, true to the visible form of the constellations. The Zodiac—the word means "cycle of animations," not "circle of animals"—is a cosmic clock with the hours shown by immense, glittering images. A considerable gap in time transpires from the turnover of the Kalpa in 2216 CE until the passage of the VP into the Waterbearer around 2800 CE. Among the fascinating things I learned from the DZ is this: the dawn of the first Age of a new Kalpa does not coincide with the endtime of the old Kalpa. In other words, the complete cycle of the Kalpa, about 26,000 years, consists of thirteen Zodiacal Ages, but the turnover moment of the Kalpa does not happen precisely at the shift from one Age to another.
In the Zodiacal timing mapped by the real-sky constellations, the Aquarian Age is always the first Age of a new Kalpa, but in the overall timing of 25,920 years the midnight hour strikes while the spring equinox is still deep in Pisces.
This situation reminds us that there is always unfinished business left over from one Kalpa, to be carried into the next. We live in the era of humanity´s unfinished karma, the closing phase of the Age of the Fishes, an era of religious fanaticism, messianic expectations, and failed revolutions. This Age is exceptionally long: 120 BCE to 2800 CE, corresponding to the actual extent of the composite. In my calculations based on the DZ, the turnover of the Kalpa happens in 2216, about eight tenths of the way through the Piscean Age. The remaining two tenths, about 585 years, until the VP enters the composite of Aquarius, represent the lag period of unfinished business—the karmic hangover, if you will. We are just now moving into the penumbra of that difficult period.
Back to the Future
To place our moment in history in the dawn of the Aquarian Age, we have to look over the entire sequence of Ages. This, for some reason, is rarely done. It is not difficult to do, however. We can easily rewind the sidereal clock back to the last time humanity lived in the Aquarian Age, at the start of the present Kalpa. We calculate that remote era by backtracking the VP from its present location in Pisces at the rate of one degree every 72 years, all the way around the Zodiac to the composite stars of the Waterbearer. The dates are 22,900 - 21,500 BCE, the middle of the Upper Paleolithic era that began around 40,000 BCE.
This calculation immediately shows how the model of Zodiacal Ages clashes with the conventional sciences of prehistory and archaeology. The mind boggles when we try to coordinate Zodiacal timing with what we know, or presume we know, about prehistory. How did people live in the previous Aquarian Age of 22,900-21,500 BCE? In what sense was this the"Golden Age," the dawning moment of a new world cycle? In terms of conventional prehistory, this scenario looks extremely improbable. There is no evidence of high civilization at that time, nor even any kind of organized society. It was the epoch of primitive cave-dwelling peoples who survived on their bare wits against the conditions of a lethal glaciation—so we are told.
The boxed table below shows the entire chronological sequence of Zodiacal Ages, calculated astronomically by the shift of the vernal equinox through the composite stars. The lines in bold signal dates encoded on Axes in the Dendera Zodiac. One of these dates, 4241 BCE, is the oldest recorded date recognized by historians. No matter what one may make of the DZ, it is (to my knowledge) the unique artifact in the world that registers this remote date.
FULL SEQUENCE OF ZODIACAL AGES
WATERBEARER: 22,900 - 21,500 BCE. The Age begins about 800 years after the opening of the Kalpa. Late Upper Paleolithic.
The full sequence shows dramatically how many key moments in the Kalpa are recorded by axial alignments on the Dendera Zodiac. Some readers will note the date 10,500 BCE, much discussed leading up to the year 2000. Hancock, Bauval, and others explored this date extensively in connection with the end of the last Ice Age and other catastrophic changes. 10,500 BCE marks the half-cycle of the present Kalpa. It is encoded on the DZ by Axis E locked on Spica, the star in the head of the sheaf of wheat held by the Virgin. Axis E touches Denebola, the tail-star of the Lion. Its ecliptic longitude of 172 degrees computes to 123,84 years of precession or 10,384 BCE. This is how the designers of the DZ indicated the initial moment of the Leonine Age. The VP regresses through the constellation, touching the tail-star first.
I have rounded off the dates to 100-150 years, equivalent to about 2 degrees of ecliptic longitude, but they represent reliable margins for the observable limits of the constellations. What are we to make of this chronology? In my experience, it is extremely difficult to work out systematic correlations between the Zodiacal Ages and pre-historical events. The correlations are hit-or-miss at best, but some matches do jump vividly to mind. Lower Magdalenian art corresponds to the Virgoan Age, celebrating the Great Goddess. This association is suggestive but extremely vague, of course.
Obviously, as we come forward in historical time, the correlations are easier and more veracious: 4241 BC, inauguration date of the Egyptian Sothis calender, matches the rise of patriarchy and correlates closely to Gimbutas' studies of the Kurgan invasions. Coming forward through the Taurean Age, correlations become more plausible. It is possible to track the VP through the Ram, Aries (1850-120 BCE), star by star, and come up with astonishing correlations to historical events. For example:
Alpha in Aries, called Hamal, is the brightest star in the dim composite that sits almost entirely above the Ecliptic. In Babylonian star-lists this star was called Arku-shar-risku-ku, “the back of the head of Ku,” the Ram Regent, Si-mal, “the horn-star.” Its longitude computed for the year 2000 CE is 37.66 degrees. 37.66 X 72 = 2640 which is 640 BCE of the Common Era (CE). In 640 BCE Assurbanipal of Assyria established his palace at Nineveh and set up a massive library, the repository of tens of thousands of cuneiform tablets. Its discovery accounts for much of what we know of the ancient Near East, including the legend of Gilgamesh and the Assyrian flood myth, the basis of the Biblical flood. In 635 the Greek philosopher Thales was born. He is generally taken as the first true rationalist and founder of Greek science. Many other "masterminds," both in Greece and elsewhere in the world, appeared at this moment. These historical events reflect the mythological motif of the Ram: head-knowledge, maturation of the forebrain capacities (frontal lobes: ram horns), learning, science, intellectual achievement, male-mind schemes and mental proportions.
In developing such correlations it is essential to remember that the dynamic operating here is reciprocity, or mirroring, not causality. The conjunction of the VP with the head-star of the Ram did not cause these events to happen, but the "star writing" both records and reflects what happened at that moment. Psyche and starry cosmos mirror each other and are, in some baffling way, interactive; but I would warn strongly against theories of astral determinism, "the influence of the stars," etc.
So, what are we to make of the long-range pattern of the Zodiacal Ages? And how does it help us place ourselves in the current moment of history? Or does it help us at all? Given that this exercise is quite elaborate, we may well wonder if it is worth the trouble it takes.
I, for one, am convinced that it is, but only when we learn to play the pattern like an instrument. To do this requires applied imagination, combined with a rather comprehensive overview of history and prehistory. In short, we invent a story that fits the Zodiacal pattern, matching it to some events or trends, and place ourselves in that story. It is a matter of making alternative history, a narrative that challenges us to insight and action, rather than a dry list of dated events.
Historical correlations to the shift of the VP through the Zodiac can be worked out extensively from the Taurean Age down to the present day, but some earlier moments ought not be overlooked—especially moments when the VP was in the opposite constellation to Taurus, Scorpio. Coming ahead about 6,000 years from the last Aquarian Age, the VP shifted into the composite stars of that long, glittering constellation around 17,500 BCE. What kind of alternate history takes from as we track the VP through the Scorpion?
Let's recall that the date 3102 BCE identifies the initial conditions of the Mayan Long Count, reckoning by the Hindu-Maya-Egyptian correlation. Axis D in the Dendera Zodiac transects the Scorpion in the upper torso, distinctly marked by Antares in real-sky observations. This alignment records the date 3102 BCE. As noted in Countdown to 2012, Antares lies opposite to Aldebaran, the star that marks the eye of the Bull. The Antares-Aldebaran axis dates to 3102 BC when the VP was in conjunction with Aldebaran. The time when the VP aligned to the opposite star Antares is exactly one half-cycle of precession earlier than 3102 BCE: 16,062 BCE. Because this moment is star-dated by Antares, it can be calculated with high precision. It appears in the above timeline: Axis D southwest: VP at Antares 16,062 BCE
16,062 BCE is still deep in prehistory, of course, but a provisional correlation can be proposed for this remote date. The Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism provides some clues to the pattern of the Zodiacal Ages. In their lineage history, the Nyingma recognize a primordial Buddha, Shenrab Miwoche, who introduced a body of sacred teachings preserved to this day by lamas and tulkus. According to Namkai Norbu, the earliest historical records in the Dzogchen tradition state that Shenrab Miwoche appeared in this world cycle (i.e., the current Kalpa that ends in 2216 CE) around 18,000 years ago, or 16,000 BCE, in a primordial emanation, and later reincarnated in a succession of enlightened masters.
The VP at Antares in the heart of the Scorpion in 16,062 BCE signals the first expression of the Buddha Dharma at that remote time. To work out an alternate history, we assign this event or narrative element to the date, and proceed to develop the theme it carries—the dominant motif. Traditionally, the enlightenment of the historical Buddha Siddharta under the bodhi tree is said to have occurred at the full moon in Taurus, when the sun was in Scorpio.The Scorpionic motif of craving-attachment (trishna) is central to the message of historical Buddhism.
One of the historical avatars of Shenrab Miwoche lived in 1856 BCE and is said to have “reformed and synthesized the various existing Bon traditions, replacing actual animal sacrifices with the use of ritual statuettes, and introducing the earliest known form of Bon teaching, called Yandagbai Sembon” (Namkai Norbu, The Crystal and the Way of Light, p 39. Illustration: recent block-print of Shenrab Miwoche).
Drawing from Dzogchen tradition for a plot factor, the pattern of the Zodiacal Ages begins to tell a story about the Scorpionic Age. It signals the appearance of a supernatural guru who oversees a message that unfolds throughout the entire cycle. The Zodiacal framework of this event adds a new perspective to the remarkable information we have on the ancient masters of the Nyingma lineage. Imagine the continuity of enlightened teachings that extend from 16,000 BCE down to 1865 BCE, and come ahead to today. We can trace the variations of the dharma over that time, using the framework of Zodiacal myth.
1865 BCE is the dawn of the Arien Age, the epoch of the historical patriarch Abraham. In striking contrast to Shenrab Miwoche, who at that time taught the people to forgo animal sacrifice, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to please the paternal god, but at the last moment he substituted an animal, a ram, for his son. The Biblical ram with its horns caught in a thicket is a blatant mythological clue to the Age of the Ram. (In Countdown to 2012, we noted the image of the Ram´s horns in the deification of Alexander the Great by the priests of Siwa, another telling episode in the Arien Age.) World history has adopted the story of Abraham for a directive script, but the alternative history of the Nyingma masters points to a different message. Alternative history contains the elements of an alternative morality. It presents a moral-evolutionary perspective for humanity that differs radically from the received script of Judeo-Christian-Islamic faith.
Zodiacal timing is a fabulous tool for framing, elaborating, and participating in the plot-lines of alternative history. This is the work of those elusive endtime sages in the party of Xolotl.
A basic principle of Zodiacal timing states that as the Ages elapse, humanity degenerates more and more sharply. In each Age the characteristic dharma or evolutionary lesson changes to reflect the conditions of that Age. Spiritual and moral teachings also change to follow the decline of human capacities, the loss of instinct, the progressive dimming of natural potential, and the increasing rarity of enlightenment. The Zodiacal Ages run in reverse, against the natural order of the seasons (i.e., phylogenetic lessons to be learned). With the "advance" from one Zodiacal Age to the next, something essential is lost.
For instance, at the close of the Libran Age, with the shift into Virgo around 14,000 BCE, our species lost its understanding of something inherent to the law of reciprocity (Scales, Balance), a fundamental dharma of survival. Previous to that time, during the Scorpionic Age, people in the shamanic hunting societies of the last Ice Age knew they were on an equal par with other animals. They understood that the survival depends on observing the principle of symbiosis and preserving a balance of power among various species. The dharma expounded in that Age reflected the experience of shamanic hunting people who assumed their role as predators in a balanced way, not seeking in excess of what they needed. They controlled their craving-attachment by limiting the kill.
Up to that time, humans did not see themselves as top dogs on the food chain. They knew that given a little luck, they could be effective predators, but they could also be prey. While the predator-prey bond dominated, prehistoric societies took their dharma from that experience, but with the turn of the Ages, other factors became dominant. Mythological lore of the constellation of Virgo points to agriculture and the first cultivation of plants when that Age began, around 13,500 BCE. One form of the Virgin is Demeter, the guardian of the Eleusinian Mysteries who is said to have introduced agriculture to humankind. When the Virgoan motif became dominant, the previous formulation of dharma based on the predator-bond fell into decline. The moral platitude, "as you sow, so shall ye reap" reflects the Virgoan domain, the agricultural model of morality. "Watch what you eat, and what eats you," would have been the karmic formulation for the Scorpionic Age.
The experience of eating and being eaten runs far deeper into the history of the human species than planting and sowing, and the loss of symbiotic balance with other species was profoundly disorienting. In the current world cycle, our species lost its sense of the moral balance in the predator-prey relationship after 13,500 BCE with the VP shifting from Libra to Virgo, Scales to Virgin. This is one way to read the long-term learning patterns or phylogenetic lessons encoded in the pattern of Zodiacal timing.
(On the crucial subject of predator-prey symbiosis, see my review of Mystery of the White Lions by Linda Tucker. Guided by Zulu shaman Credo Matwa, Tucker places the rupture of the interspecies bond much earlier in our species' evolution, going back to the twilight years of Australopithicus in 2.5 million BP, but I have no problem with this: the same mistakes are repeated in each Kalpa.)
Mythemes and Motifs
Dhyani Ywahoo (Voices of Our Ancestors, Shambhala, Boston & London, 1987) is a spokeswoman for the Etowah tribe of the Eastern Tsagali Nation, a racial-cultural group commonly known as Cherokees. The sacred tradition of the Tsagali contains another clue to the Zodiacal Age of Aries, and points ahead to the shift into Aquarius.
According to the Tsagali tradition, a specific lineage was created in 873 BCE by "the Pale One," a Virococha-like figure who reformulated the sacred teachings, i.e., our species-specific dharma, for that time and the time ahead. (The male master teacher who formulates sacred knowledge is typical of the Arien Age, and ought not be confused with the messianic figures who typify the following Age of Pisces.) Since his time, twenty-seven Ywahoos or sacred instructors has preserved this message, brought down to Dhyani Ywahoo from her grandfather, Bear Fishing, and her grandmother, Rain Cloud. These teachings indicate that "a new cycle of thirteen heavens began on August 30, 1987, thirteen days after the Fifth World ended" (Voices of Our Ancestors, p. 7). Here Dhyani Ywahoo concurs with endtime speculations developed by Jose Arguelles who proposed that August 1987 was the turning point in Maya-Aztec timing (the "Harmonic Convergence").Voices of the Ancestors appeared in that same year.
Dhyani Ywahoo says that "the Tsalagi people encompass a 100,000 year time period, during which there have been four great upheavals of Earth´s life forms" (26). In her view of the full precessional Kalpa, she gives some unique figures: "each complete cycle, or world, equals, 1,144 years, and 25 worlds—28,600 years—comprise an era. We are living in the Fifth World and entering the Sixth World, the beginning of a new era" (50). She develops this model, approximating to four entire Kalpas or complete precessional cycles, in setting out the millennial dharma of her native peoples.
Dharma, cosmic law, evolutionary balance, the sense of limits, interspecies morality—the Zodiac in precession represents the long-range continuity of the deep survival lessons and spiritual revelations that guide our species. Strangely, our moral grounding resides in the stars, in the cosmic perspective. "Among the Tsagali, when children argued about an object, it was removed and the children were encouraged to observe the sky" (118). Tracking the Zodiacal Ages teaches us how human imagination operates in narrative terms over vast periods of time involving plot-factors or mythemes (a term coined by Mircea Eliade) we may picture in the starry constellations.
Today the mass of humanity is involved in actualizing the Piscean mytheme, but some individuals are already sensing the Aquarian mytheme. Each mytheme is a constellation of psychic components, a "feeling-toned complex" as defined by C. G. Jung in his word-association experiments in 1906. The starry constellations in the night sky are registers of the psychic constellations that entrain the behavior of the human species. This entrainment is not due to cause-and-effect or "astral determinism," to cite an archaic term. Yet there is a kind of acausal determinism at work: the starry constellations do not drive human behavior, but in some mysterious way they reflect how the inner constellations do. As without, so within. The starry pictures out there show how the Zodiacal mythemes operate in the collective psyche, age after age.
The directive psychic patterns displayed in massive constellations in the sky may be called phylogenetic motifs. These motifs represent the dynamic keynote of an Age, its psychospiritual or evolutionary drive, while the mythemes of an Age indicate its narrative elements, the dominant story-lines, characters, and events. The phylogenic motif of Pisces is inner guidance, comparable to the instinct for navigation in animals. The primary mytheme of the Piscean Age is the story of a messiah or divinely inspired emissary who comes with a message about humanity—or to be more precise, who brings to humanity a teaching about its own true nature, its species-specific image, called the Anthropos in Gnostic writings. Countless people have taken Jesus Christ as the supreme messenger of God and example of humanity, but this is not the story that will guide the species through the endtime and into the next Kalpa. One of the hardest tests of the Piscean Age is to get the messianic story right, realize the authentic image of the Anthropos, and not fall into the enmeshment of false and deviant narratives of guidance.
The motif of inner guidance and the mytheme of messianic revelation are closely related, obviously. During the long, abnormally distended closing phase of the Piscean Age, the human species as a whole loses its way as the inborn sense for inner guidance in individuals degenerates ever more sharply. The loss of direction in spiritual and evolutionary terms worsens as people identify in fanatical and indulgent ways with delusional versions of the messiah story, including the story of the return of Quetzalcoatl that figures dramatically in the 2012 scenario. As long as the messianic plot cannot be mastered, and surpassed, the unfinished business of the human species drags on horribly.
The turnover of the Kalpa in 2216 CD unfolds in a wave of confusion and loss, a tsunami of collective malaise and spiritual disorientation which is mounting as I write these very words. This is not the kind of glowing prediction and inspiring hyperbole we are accustomed to hear about the Maya endtime. It is, however, the kind of symptomatic profile you get from close analysis of the Zodiacal Ages.
The phylogenetic motif for Aquarius is interspecies bonding, or symbiotropism, the instinct of each living thing to turn towards what complements it and enhances its life, improves its odds for survival as well as its capacity to THRIVE. Symbiotropism, or vital empathy as it might be called, carries distinct feelings of joy, release, and reverence, and it also engenders discrete forms of evolutionary insight, survival knowledge. (In the theory of animism proposed by Tylor, and elaborated by Frazer, it is dismissively called "sympathetic magic.") To recognize the healing powers of plants or to identify one´s power animal are acts of vital empathy. Symbiotropism is the inspirational and holistic faculty of complementation. A vast range of human-nature transactions come under this category of vital empathy. Moving into and sensing those transactions is, Zodiacally speaking, the first sign of sensitivity to Aquarian waves, the navigational vibrations of the future.
In humans, symbiotropism is complicated, and may even be thwarted, by our species-specific capacities for language, symbolism, map-making, and invention, including toymaking, toolmaking, and all manner of technological and prosthetic construction. Such capacities cause us to find complementation in what we ourselves devise, rather than in what nature provides. Most people on the planet today could not live in direct contact with nature, outside the realm of human-made culture, and can hardly bear to think of living that way. In the world today, most people seek complementation in what society can provide for them, in goods and services, in the music they like, the entertainment they watch, and the act of shopping, acquiring possessions that complement their lifestyle and single-self identity.
But long before the VP enters Aquarius, some people will re-sense the primal, animistic faculty of complementation, and reclaim it. If this were not to happen, our species could not make the transition into the next Kalpa. The transition will not be made collectively but selectively, through the avant-garde tribes who are sensitive to the "future primitive" vibration, the subliminal leading tow of Aquarian waves.
Symbiotropism will emerge in the lives of some forward-looking people in our time, and will do so vividly and dramatically around the vortex moment of the Maya endtime, 2012. As this happens, it will be imperative to resolve the unfinished business of the Piscean Age by mastering the central problem: namely, how the messianic complex of the Age has impeded our realization of the true image of humanity, the Anthropos. In my book, Not in His Image, I have tried to offer a strong corrective dose for resolving this problem.
In Mesotes - Matrix of Animal Powers, I equated the "Intermediary" of the Gnostic seers with the Manitou of Native America. This might look like a dry scholarly exercise in comparative religion to some of you, but I would insist that it is one of the more pregnant indications to appear on this entire site. It may also be an extremely crucial survival cue. The identification of the inner Christos with the Manitou is a key elements in the Aquarian mytheme, the story of interspecies bonding and the future rediscovery of the magical powers of nature.
Algonquin tribes of North America and various peoples of Central and South America saw in the Manitou a wilderness guide who brings the gift of water—an Aquarian figure. In water is the secret of life. The Manitou also confers herbal knowledge, the savvy of medicinal herbs and psychoactive plants. Healing herbs grow by magic springs. Mushrooms sprout in misty weather and are saturated with water. In the future, only those who know where to find drinkable water will survive. The mythological themes of Aquarius, the Waterbearer, are strongly resonant with the aqueous motifs associated with the Mesotes-Manitou figure.
All the potentially catastrophic planetary changes we now face occur in water, or in connection with water. The "tipping point" of global catastrophe resides in the behavior of water. The meltdown of the Arctic ice shelves discharges huge amounts of fresh water into the North Atlantic, with the effect of diminishing or shutting down the warm Gulf Stream currents of the "Atlantic conveyer." Fresh water in quantities drives the warm salty currents under it and impedes the Gulf Stream circulation. Right now the conveyer is juddering. Some scientists predict its shutdown in 50 years, or as little as 15. The Greenland ice shelf is melting at an alarming rate. The meltdown is reaching "positive feedback," the level of change in which more melt increases the rate of melt. When the Greenland shelf breaks, the conveyer will shut down totally in a matter of days.
Deep in the tropical seas, coral reefs are dying due to the raised temperature of the water. These reefs are the key to oceanic ecology, including the production of planckton and other microscopic life-forms. Coral and ice are reciprocal, united by cosmic law. From the very dawn of the Kalpa, when our species was living in the last Aquarian Age, we began to forget this law, to drift away from reciprocity. Natural catastrophe is the long-term consequence to human oblivion of Gaia's intrinsic morality.
The current predawn of the Aquarian Age happens within the Piscean Age as people return to symbiotropism. In some cases, individuals will respond to visions and visits involving the wilderness spirit, the Manitou. Like White Buffalo Woman, Dhyani Yhawoo´s "Pale One" is a manifestation of the Aquarian spirit, the intermediary between humanity and nature. Voices of the Ancestors carries a wealth of sacred instruction and survival knowledge for the endtime. Like other native traditions of America, Cherokee lore invites us to enter the Beauty Path, to walk in beauty with the natural world. This is an esthetic view of life, yes, but it is also a path of survival. I have argued that Gaia's priorities are esthetic.
Although Dhyani Yhawoo does not speak specifically of the Aquarian Age, she touches on an essential motif of the Age:
In Tsalagi, water is ama, consciousness, like mama, and when we awaken to the cleansing properties of water, they we may wash away the obstacles to good relationship with self, others, the Earth. The first step is to pacify those thoughts and feelings that may obscure our sense of relationship or our power to see clearly and act consciously. Pacifying the emotions of confusion is done through forgiving oneself and others for what might have been, could have been, should have been, and allowing the charge of emotions unexpressed to be carried away by the water-mind of forgiving. (118)
Here a woman shaman corrects the dharma of forgiveness, giving native-mind expression to a notion contaminated by centuries of Judeo-Christian cant. The "water-mind of forgiving" has nothing to do with the divine forgiveness of Christ, the Holy Father, or the Virgin Mary. It is not a clever way to get around the vengefulness of the paternal god. As an heir to an ages-long tradition of native wisdom, Dhyani Ywahoo (on right) restores the concept of forgiveness to its genuinely human expression. She presents a therapeutic form, rather than a moralistic formula of reward and punishment, and she intimately links the power of forgiveness to water.
Notice that this principle of forgiveness does not advise forgiving what has actually been done, but only what might have been, could have been, or should have been done. The syntax is rigorous and precise.
Revision of the dharma is the task of teachers who appear throughout the Ages, a task that recalls the "correction" of Sophia proposed in Gnostic teachings. The Cherokee woman's elegant statement on forgiveness exemplifies the kind of human-friendly teaching that can get us through the emotional plague of the Piscean Age and into a sane, sustainable future.
Almost all systems of world ages describe the decline and degeneration of human instincts from their initial peak capacity, rather than a gradient of advance and improvement, as already noted. The evolution of consciousness in an ascending spiral from "microbes to man" is a post-Darwinian fantasy, a symptom of the malingering narcissism of the Piscean Age. Unlike us, microbes never lose their symbiotropic instinct. That is why they were around long before we assumed our present form, and will be around long after we are gone in our current form. The same holds true for the microactive intelligence of sacred plants and fungi. In the tradition of Maria Sabina and other shamanic teachers, these plant-allies are miniature manitous, nano-guides who travel in our organism using the subtle pathways of water, Aquarian waves. The mystical guardian who dispenses water also disseminates these teaching and healing powers, and connects us to the wisdom of the stars.
Manitou as Hunter with Bow, Hilaire Hiler, original woodcut.
Collection of the author.
It would perhaps be more appropriate to call the Aquarian figure by the name Manitou, the wizard of the wilderness, guide to animal powers and symbiotropic magic, rather than the awkward term, Waterbearer.
jll Andalucia April 2007