In this article I would like to take a step back from the details of current events and look at the bigger picture especially focussing on the upcoming great conjunction in Aquarius that will take place this year on the winter solstice.
The great conjunction is a coming together of Jupiter and Saturn from the perspective of the earth. This event takes place every twenty years in zodiac signs of the same element, either fire, air, earth or water. After around two hundred years the conjunctions move on to the next element. The entire cycle of great conjunctions therefore takes roughly eight hundred years to pass through all four elements and all twelve signs of the zodiac and return to where it began. Astrologers throughout history have placed great emphasis on these great conjunctions as indicators of major social events and changes focusing especially on times when the great conjunctions changed elements. On 21st December 2020 the great conjunctions leave the element of earth (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) which began in the 1840s and enter the air element (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) where it will remain until 2219 when a new two hundred year cycle begins in the watery element (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces)
So we are on the cusp of a great social change as we leave earth and enter air. The last two hundred years has brought tremendous focus on the material plane. The industrial revolution changed daily life in an unprecedented way. Our material existence changed irrevocably as we went from doing most things by hand, travelling by foot and horseback and with the majority of people still living rural lives, to seeing the rise of factories, mechanisation, the discovery of the combustion engine, electricity, trains and planes, mass urbanisation and all the trappings of modern life. One cannot say that these changes have been good or bad for mankind, but the effect has been such that people have become far more materialistic, placing great emphasis on earth matters such as money, possessions, physical appearance and the fate of the body over and above the fate of the soul. As the great conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn took place in the earth signs we had no choice but to grapple with the earth but we did so according to our character and disposition. The ambitious and greedy desired to acquire and possess the earth, accumulating land, money and capital, the scientist desired to gain control over the material plane through discoveries and inventions seeing the land and the human body chemically and mechanistically but there were also more sensitive souls who sought to engage with matter more wisely. They, for example, developed permaculture and organic agriculture, holistic healing methods for the body, campaigned for better pay and working conditions for the poor and cautioned us against the dangers of getting caught up in material desires and abandoning the spiritual.
As we enter a new era we will face new and exciting possibilities as well as fresh dangers and pitfalls as the basic character and disposition of mankind has not fundamentally changed that much. The greedy and ambitious, the power hungry, the one-sided scientist will all seek new ways to bend the air element to their will while the more compassionate and wise will work collaboratively with air to develop new ways to help and improve life for humanity.
So what does the air element describe? Air is less interested in the material and more concerned with the conceptual, the intellectual, with ideas and thinking. One danger with the air element is getting lost in abstractions and having theories or concepts that do not connect to anything that is real. So we must all scrutinise the ideas we encounter to discern whether there is real truth behind them or whether they are just hot air and without substance. Air is also very social, it seeks to connect people, form relationships, alliances, associations and networks. Due to the increasing global nature of the world we live in, the capacity of like-minded people to share their ideas is ever increasing. Each nation and people have their own characteristics and idiosyncratic way of thinking so by people the world over collaborating, new, and richer, understanding of our world can come about, providing innovative solutions to our current problems. Whereas earth has a tendency to claim ownership and build a fence around what is mine, air’s natural inclination is to share and disseminate. Air is drawn to discussion, debate and dialogue and these are invaluable in leading to genuine progress as it brings us much further than does working on a problem alone.
However, it is probably already quite clear how the darker forces of society might, in varying degrees of conscious awareness, seek to block, corrupt or misuse these new potentials for their own ends. Just as the last two hundred years saw the attempt to control land, money and the human body, these next two centuries will focus on the control of ideas and free association of people. There will be increased regulation of what ideas are promoted through media, science and education. Coming at us from all angles it will not be easy to resist indoctrination especially as all criticism or promotion of alternative ideas will either be ridiculed or censored. The ultimate danger is for people to stop thinking for themselves at all and to just be happy at being told what to think. Before the coronavirus this notion may have appeared an over-exaggerated dystopia, especially in Europe, but now it seems like that state of mind is already with us. Of course, all such attempts at controlling the masses can only achieve partial success and will eventually collapse as they have done in the past but great damage can still be done to human civilisation and to the individual soul who succumbs to it all.
One concept that will play a significant role in the coming years, and is already doing so, is that of the ‘common good’. As the first great conjunction is in Aquarius the ‘common good’, and collectivism in general, will be ideas we must contend with. On the surface, appealing to the common good and the welfare of the whole, rather than thinking only about one’s own welfare sounds like a good thing, an altruistic and selfless mindset. However, collectivist ideology is deeply flawed both practically and philosophically. The obvious practical flaw is who gets to decide what the ‘common good’ is? And how far will they go in enforcing it? History has shown that all governments that have adopted collectivist ideologies have also had fascist tendencies or been outright dictatorships. In these cases the good of society has been used merely to justify fulfilling the agendas of those in power, or those who stand behind those in power. The Pharisees felt that the murder of Christ would be for the ‘common good’ i.e. it would preserve their power and status. Centuries later when Christianity became the state religion, the authorities burned many heretics at the stake whose ideas and influence were seen to be dangerous for the ‘common good’ again because it threatened the authority’s power and position. We are likely to see many governments and institutions use this concept of the ‘common good’ to justify the enforcement of their interests and to portray those who resist such measures as selfish and anti-social.
The deeper problem is a philosophical one and is based on the individual and their relationship to society. Volumes have been written on this topic from ancient Greece right the way through to modern times and so cannot be dealt with comprehensively in one short article. I will probably return to this theme several times over the coming years as it is such an important one for the period we are living in. The notion of the common good and society do not really relate to anything tangible, they are abstractions and have little meaning in themselves. Society is comprised of individuals but has no reality as a separate entity in itself. What we witness in society, all its corruption, brutality and ambition is just a reflection of what lies within the individual. We tend to always place the blame on larger forces outside of us, failing to realise that when we give in to the slightest corruption within ourselves we aid and abet evil at the highest level. Numerous political and social theories have been thought up and implemented to improve society but none have succeeded as fundamental change can never be brought about externally by state regulation. Real and lasting change can only ever come from within the individual in complete internal freedom and without external coercion. This is why all the great sages and teachers spoke about the human condition and liberating oneself from the disorder and egotism within. For a disordered mind can only bring about disorder in the world and an egotistical heart can only bring out iniquity in society. So unless an individual has transformed himself from within he will only create more conflict in the world. While evil appears to be perpetrated only by a few individuals, it can only manifest if the soil for it exists in the population as whole. This is similar to the terrain theory of infectious diseases which says that one can only develop a so called infectious disease if the terrain of one’s immune system is compromised in some way. The focus is therefore not on stopping or exterminating the pathogens (bacteria or viruses) but in healing and strengthening the terrain so that the pathogens are unable to take hold. The same is true on a social level, we can try and overthrow governments and bring down corrupt organisations but they are soon replaced with even worse ones unless there is fundamental change in consciousness within us all.
It is easy to get depressed at what we see around us but the light and dark are always in balance and just as the signs of darkness seem to be increasing it is, in some ways, only because the light is also increasing. While the light is more subtle and harder to connect to in a climate of fear and anxiety, it is still there, stronger than ever and is more real and meaningful than all that we are bombarded with on a daily basis.
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