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New Aeon
A Consideration of Astrological Symbolism by Benjamin Rowe

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From the author: This paper is a work-in-progress. In the course of writing it,I have found myself, time after time "awash in correspondence." Nevertheless, even in its current (admittedly sketchy and unbalanced) form, I feel it has many points that will be of interest to those interested in the broader magickal context within which our personal initiatory work is taking place. While the general approach of the work is astrological in tone, the content is intended for magicians.

In our Western culture and its ancestors in Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa, the precession of the equinoxes has consistently been accompanied by shifts in the encompassing definition of humanity's relationship to the universe at large, what we might call the world-view of the era. This definition has had a profound impact on the direction of cultures within its influence. The development of human thought becomes focused into particular lines; other lines of thought are excluded from general acceptance. A corresponding change is seen in the activities and social structures adopted by the affected cultures.

Astrologers and magicians have generally assumed that the sign of the vernal equinox alone defines an era's world-view. A closer examination shows this assumption is inadequate; the other three signs in the same zodiacal cross must be taken into consideration. Additionally, the planets "ruling" and "exalted" in the signs have a significance equal to that of the signs themselves.

The four signs of an era's zodiacal cross take on, for the culture as a whole, something of the same function that is served by the four "angles" or cardinal points in an individual's horoscope. Figure 1 shows the overall correspondences between the two groups.

At first this arrangement might appear counter intuitive.

Astrologically, the equinoctial axis and the horoscope's ascendant-descend axis both divide the sphere of the heavens into "light" and "dark" halves. It would be reasonable to think that there would be an identity between them in any set of correspondences. However, observations of historical and current day events do not support the assumption. Instead, the sign of the vernal equinox takes on the aspect of the midheaven angle.

For an individual, the midheaven is literally the point over their head at the time of birth. It is the high point of an axis going from space to the center of the earth directly through their body. The powers of the larger cosmos enter into them along this axis. Their perception of their goals in life, their image of what they can become in their perfection, and the way in which they can unite themselves with the divine powers of the universe are all indelibly colored by the sign on their midheaven. Similarly, the culture's perception of its long-term goals, its potential evolution, and its relationship to the universe at large is colored by the vernal equinox sign for its era. The perceptions are identical except for the scale on which they appear. Therefore the vernal equinox sign is properly set in correspondence to the midheaven, and the positions of the other three signs are adjusted accordingly.

The Immum Coeli or nadir is the point at the other end of the vertical axis in the horoscope, the end at the core of the Earth. The Earth is the foundation or base on which humans and all their creations stand, and it blocks a large portion of the heavens from view at any position on its surface. Correspondingly, the individual's perception of their fundamental nature, of what they are at the roots of their being, is largely determined by this angle. It also acts as a filter coloring the conscious self's perception of things welling up from the preconscious levels of being. A similar perception and filtering occurs on the cultural level.

The midheaven and nadir are polar opposites in a state of tension; both in the individual and in a culture they define the differences between heavenly and mundane, between light and dark, between objective and subjective states, between what is concealed and what is arrayed openly. The ascendant and descendant, on the other hand, both represent modes of transition between the polar opposites, two main paths through which the poles relate to each other.

In the individual horoscope, the ascendant or rising sign represents the way in which the personal subjective consciousness faces the external objective world. It is a window through which the self looks out into the world, and through which it receives input from that world. It is in a sense the face or mask the person projects to the world, the surface image behind which the internal workings of the subjective self are hidden. At the same time it is a filter, a figurative set of colored glasses through which the person sees the world.

The descendant angle represents the individual's perception of the "other", conceived of as something separate from, but complementary to, the self. It defines what the individual perceives as the correct way for two or more individual subjective selves to interact and balance their respective needs and desires.

In the cultural "horoscope" the functions of the ascendant and descendant are similar but more abstract. The intense personal nature of the ascendant and the "otherness" of the descendant are weakened. Instead the two corresponding signs of the cross are simply two complementary means by which the mundane and divine poles are linked within the context of the society.

We can briefly illustrate this relationship between the signs of a zodiacal cross and the horoscope angles by looking at the dominant cultural definitions present in Western culture during the "Piscean" era. After that, we can consider some of the ways in which the cross of the incoming "Aquarian" era are manifesting now.

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