This is the third and final part of series of articles on the Great Conjunction in Aquarius. Just to quickly recap, Jupiter and Saturn came together at 0° Aquarius on the winter solstice last year, starting a new two hundred year cycle of great conjunctions in the air signs having spent the last two hundred years in the signs of earth. These great conjunctions describe the dominant themes within human society, so areas ruled by the air element will be prominent over the next two hundred years with each air sign giving a different nuance every twenty years. The reason I am spending a lot of time on this topic is that it is the most significant astrological event in our lifetime that will affect the whole world and all other astrological events have to be interpreted in the light of this one. The more fully and deeply we can understand it, the better we can work harmoniously with the spirit of the times and at the same time avoid the dangers that come with it.
Recently I came across the research experiments of Solomon Asch into peer pressure and conformity. These were conducted in America in 1951 but are just as relevant today. The experiments consisted of groups of eight university students who were given simple perception tasks. These tasks were very easy and obvious such as choosing which one of three different sized lines was identical to the length of an original line. However, in reality seven of the eight participants were in fact paid actors who were told to give the correct answer for some of the tests but also to unanimously give incorrect answers for twelve of them. The answers were spoken out loud by each participant with the subject participant always answering last. The test subject had to decide whether to stick to what his eyes were telling him or conform to the, clearly incorrect, consensus being offered by the others. In the control group with no other participants to influence the subject the error rate was less than 1% but in the group where actors consistently gave incorrect answers the error rate was 36.8% with over 75% of participants giving at least one incorrect answer. The subjects were interviewed afterwards having been then informed of the true purpose of the experiment and the reasons they gave for acting the way they did are quite revealing. Those that were swayed by the majority and gave incorrect answers did so for several reasons. Some expressed what Asch called a ‘distortion of perception’ where they genuinely thought that the actor’s answers must be correct and so went along with it. Others who also gave incorrect answers reported what Asch termed ‘distortion of judgment’ where they initially had the right answer in their head but then doubted themselves as the actors gave their wrong answers thinking that they must be the one to have made a mistake and so gave a wrong answer when it was their turn. The final group of participants who gave wrong answers exhibited a ‘distortion of action’ where they knew what the correct answer was but conformed with the majority simply because they didn’t want to seem out of step by not going along with the rest. Asch concluded his study by saying: “That intelligent, well-meaning, young people are willing to call white black is a matter of concern.”
All this goes to show how many people would rather be in the majority than in the right for there is much more of a feeling of safety in numbers than in truth. Many truths can be quite disturbing, so to seek them out requires courage as you never know what you might find. If a truth is then discovered that is unpopular and uncomfortable for people it will also require courage to speak it to the world for there will always be others that will go to great lengths to stop that truth being spoken. These are very important things to consider as we go further into this Aquarius period where group thinking and the pressure to conform will likely increase. After a few years Solomon Asch repeated the experiment but instead of all the actors answering incorrectly, he instructed one of them to give the correct answer. This small change was enough to give the subject the confidence he needed to also answer correctly with now only 5% of subjects still giving incorrect answers. It shows that if we feel completely alone it is so much harder to stand up for our principles and what we believe to be correct but if we just have one friend who stands with us it can bolster us greatly. This is why it is good in this period we are going through to seek the mutual support of like minds and gain strength from such connections. However, we should be wary of slipping into the other Aquarian pitfall which is that of tribalism, where we identify with our group and develop a hostility to the groups that oppose our views and ideals. We can so easily start to think along lines of ‘them’ and ‘us’ and turn our backs and close our hearts to those who have chosen to align themselves to different philosophical, political and spiritual ideas. There is a big difference between rejecting ideas and concepts that we may regard as objectionable or even dangerous and rejecting the people who happen to hold those ideas.
Another development during this Aquarian period is our ever increasing dependence on technology. Volumes have been written on this complex subject in the last few years but I would like to draw your attention to two issues, the first being that too much reliance on technology makes us weaker on many levels. This is fairly obvious on a physical level, such as using cars for short distances rather than walking or cycling and taking a lift instead of using the stairs. However, we don’t notice so much when it concerns how we use our minds. As most of us have smart phones by our side all day we can look up information any time we like and so we do not need to retain information. If we forget something we can just look it up again in seconds. The result is that our memories and the ability to focus our attention has become much weaker. More concerning still is that our discernment and judgement is also deteriorating as we allow machines, algorithms and AI to tell us what to do and when to do it. This is clearly seen with pedestrian crossings where people wait at a red light even though no cars are coming in any direction while others will walk across the road without checking to see if it is safe just because the green light has come on. This phenomenon is growing rapidly with sophisticated algorithms now pre-selecting candidates for a job, applicants for a bank loan and even assessing the chances of survival of expensive drug treatment or surgery to see if it is viable to proceed. The more we allow machines to make decisions for us, even simple ones, the more feeble minded we become to the point that we no longer have confidence in our own judgement. There is increasing pressure on people to continually take PCR and antigen tests to see if they have Covid. This may seem prudent and sensible but in the long run we will feel the need for technology to test us to see if we are healthy or not as we would have lost the ability to connect with our own bodies and sense if there is something wrong. A lot of this comes down to laziness and wanting life to be easier and safer as well as devaluing human judgement with its subjectivity in preference for the apparent objectivity of machines. This is symptomatic of the times we live in where everything is turned on its head. We ought to be striving to hone our inner subjectivity and to increasingly refine it so it can distinguish truth and lies, what is nourishing or depleting for our souls and whether our public leaders are noble and wise or ambitious and corrupt. This refining requires inner effort and diligent practice but the consequences of not making such efforts are that we lose trust in our own judgements and outsource all important decisions to machines.
The other issue with technology is that the more closely we work with computers and machines the more we start to think like machines and less like human beings. Staring at a computer screen for hours conditions the brain and nervous system to think in narrow and dualistic terms. We start to see the world in more utilitarian and material ways assessing only those human needs that can be calculated on a spreadsheet. Notions of human dignity, compassion and the need for human warmth are vague and unquantifiable so inevitably get left out of consideration. As we cannot avoid machines altogether we should seek to produce a counter movement within us that opens us to more spiritual concepts and ideas. We can antidote some of the negative effects of technology by ensuring we dedicate some time in our busy lives to ponder and meditate on things that a computer can never comprehend such as the nature of love and beauty, the immortality of the soul, one’s relationship to one’s guardian angel, the cosmos and divinity. Thinking such thoughts even for only ten minutes a day can have a real positive effect on one’s soul. By doing so we start to inhabit a more subtle and meaningful world where we can be inspired with new ideas that lie outside the same old ones we come across every day and it is these new ideas that are so necessary to help humanity meet the various crises it finds itself in.
The Grand Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn entered the Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) in 1802 when the fastest mode of transportation was the horse and where those living in cities amounted to less than 3% of the population. Within a very short period of time the land was transformed, biodiversity plummeted and mechanisation had completely taken over. The main impetus for these massive changes was a combination of inventions and the insatiable desire for money and things. For example trappers almost brought about the extinction of beavers in Canada and America largely to meet the need for felt that had become the fashion in hats at the time. Fortunately for the beaver, fashions changed just in time but not all animal and plant species were so lucky. Gold and Silver rushes in North and South America, Australia and Africa inflamed the lust for wealth and get rich quick schemes with mother nature seen as a resource to be exploited until it ran dry. With the Great Conjunction finally leaving Earth and entering Air the emphasis shifts much more to human society and human resources rather than earthly ones, however, the same dangers of short term thinking, the desire to exploit others for personal gain and probably the biggest danger of all which is being swept along by propaganda and new inventions without any critical thinking whatsoever. Two hundred years ago there were a few voices that said that just because we can do all these new things doesn’t mean we should and that maybe we should focus on thinking about the earth and nature in more sustainable ways. These voices were largely ignored for there was too much money to be made. Today there are also quite a few people who can see where humanity is heading and are urging us not to just drift along with it all but to wake up and think about things more deeply. Over the last two hundred years we had to explore our relationship with the material world but now we have to ask a different question which is what does it mean to be human? Is a human being made up of physical atoms only or does a human being also have a soul and spirit that is connected with all that is and if so what is needed to nurture that soul and spirit and enable it to realise its highest potential?
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I would like to let you all know that I will be offering regular meditation evenings on the planets over Zoom starting around February. As a little bit and often tends to be more effective than just once in a while I intend to run a 30min meditation evening once a week with the aim of drawing strength and wisdom from the spiritual cosmos to help us in all the challenges we face on earth. I will post more details in my next newsletter and website.
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