Thomas Jefferson had some breezy opinions about forceful disobedience when he was living in Paris in early 1787, and had replaced Benjamin Franklin, a very hard act to follow, as American ambassador to France. In a letter to James Madison, who was then up to his widow’s peak in the intricate business of designing the American constitution, Jefferson wrote, “ . . . a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. . . . It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.”
As always, Jefferson was precise in his choice of words. Rebellion literally means “fight back,” presumably against an assault by authority against one’s home, livelihood or liberty, as in the example that prompted Jefferson to write. The grievances of American farmers led by Daniel Shays escalated in the autumn of 1786 from polite protest into impolite rebellion when the American government refused to lift excessive property taxes, poll taxes that prevented the poor from voting, and other abuses of the principles on which Americans had fought for their independence a few years back. Shays’ Rebellion would not be the last time that less affluent Americans would be subtly, even rudely, denied a fair role and an equal voice in the workings of their country.
To Jefferson, Shays’ Rebellion was a success. The leaders were jailed long enough to bring them back down to room temperature, but none were executed, and the conditions that moved them to an uprising the word is classic Piscean Age usage, affirming hierarchy of magistrates over citizens were corrected, so that no more violent action was needed, at least not yet. By Jefferson’s lights, Shays’ Rebellion was exciting rather than troubling news because it showed that American democracy was working. Smug and elitist officials had been shaken into compliance with the people’s legitimate rights, injustices were rectified, and the judges who tried Shays and his fellow rebels wisely chose to soothe the people’s fury rather than inflame it again, and issued lenient sentences. A little rebellion had made a full-scale revolution unnecessary.
The medicinal effect of a little rebellion would be on Jefferson’s mind again in the years soon to follow, when he’d witness the Paris cataclysm of 1789, and the events that showed how horrific the people’s rage can get when a little rebellion fails to bring a change for the better, and unleashes so much hate that before long the new autocratic master, Napoleon, will have occasion to remark that “Revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets."
Revolution is one of the core principles and energies of the Age of Aquarius. The word was first used in English in Chaucer’s time to mean the motions of celestial bodies in their orbits. From the 1600’s it came to mean the kind of political upheaval that shook England twice: violently in 1648, when Puritans toppled and soon executed the king, and much more gently forty years later, when barely a wisp of snuff was stirred as James II sailed into exile, and William of Orange strode in.
The difference is instructive. The revolution of 1688 was called “glorious” because hardly a drop of blood was shed. It was a perfectly civil affair in every way. So no one remembers it. What they do remember is 1648: the butchery of Oliver Cromwell, three years of civil war and the beheading of Charles I. People also remember the Boston Massacre. They want to believe that revolution means the fall of the Bastille, and there’s still some romantic mileage in the tumbrils, the guillotine and the Terror. Human beings want the drama. And they expect more of it, and bloodier too, whenever talk of revolution is in the air now.
Why all this history, and what does it have to do with us now? There are two answers. One is that the emotional context of revolution, not the facts and the faces, is what gets people wide-eyed, weepy and wobbly. The other answer, which affects us far more directly than most people can see, has to do with the eternal questions that the powers that be ask themselves: How much freedom will we allow our people to have? Do we give them so much of it that they disrespect authority, forget about civic duty and even swing into anarchy? Or do we give them so little that we stifle their hope and energy, force them underground into black markets and shadow societies, even strike the spark that leads to rebellion, and worse? How do we steer safely between the two, and how do we keep control?
You already know which of the poles, too much freedom or too little, the governments of the developed world, the soon-to-be superpower of China, and the elites of white-knuckled regimes like Saudi Arabia are grasping with all their strength. Those who have control -- or think they do -- are tightening it, as they always do when they sense, as they inevitably do now, that they're about to lose control.
In the minds of billions of people on our planet, mere rebellion is insufficient and a revolution is long overdue because patient, persistent effort to bring relief from oppressive conditions either gets us nowhere or seems to bring the opposite effect from what we want, by making things worse. Perhaps this is why, now that revolution as we think we know it looks all but impossible, people talk of revolution vicariously as though to feed their fantasies of the change that all our struggle fails to bring. Count ‘em. The sexual revolution of the 1960’s. The information revolution and its love child, the Internet revolution. The green revolution in third world agriculture. The revolutions that advertisers claim their soft drinks and music products are going to trigger in your life. One would almost get from all these revolutions the funny feeling that we think all the avenues of healthy change are blocked, and this is why metaphors of revolution appeal to us as much they do now.
We need not look at all the political and social constipation in detail. Only a few vignettes, none of them containing the words “Patriot Act,” will help to show how extreme the tooth-grinding neurosis of the controlling power elites has become and, joyously, how they’ve become so shrink-wrapped in their insecurity that violence will not be needed to bring compassionate change. When the intentions of the Aquarian revolution are formed clearly and held firmly in the mind and the heart, the hand and all the other muscle will step lightly to meet it.
As revolution is a very highly charged word that stirs so much fear in many quarters, it is important to get clear here about what revolution does and does not mean in the Age of Aquarius. Taken literally, the word is emotionally neutral. It simply means a “turning back,” and implies that power has somehow been cluelessly surrendered by, or arrogantly taken away from, the broad base of the citizens who are its true owners, and is abused for a time by a small segment of the society who exploit it to elevate and enrich their families, cronies and backers.
When the revolution comes, it redistributes power from the few back to the many, or at least claims to. It need not be violent, and its price need not be measured in barrels of blood per day or clouds of brick dust from falling forts and prisons. England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Czech Republic’s “Velvet Revolution” led by, of all people, a playwright and the Rose Revolution in Georgia are good examples of what can happen when the desire of the people to reclaim what belongs to them can be brought into alignment with an intelligent insight by the landlords that they no longer own the place, and it’s time for them to pack the dishes, turn over the keys and graciously vacate the building.
The landlord normally doesn’t want to surrender even the umbrella stand, much less the deed to the property, so it’s understandable that people who think of revolution immediately picture Paris mobs holding unlucky heads aloft on pikes or watching them tumble from the guillotine, Bolsheviks and their bayonets storming the Smolny and trashing the Tsar’s Winter Palace, and hordes of furious Chinese peasants getting their murderous revenge on the entire landlord class all 20 million of them in and just after the Red Revolution of 1949.
We have often had a bloody time of it in the Age of Pisces, so much so that many assume that change can only happen violently. By now the problem may not be in the entrenched reality of the power structure itself, but the fearful expectations that so many people hold. Typical is the recent controversy in Germany over the Schroeder government’s decision to change welfare policy by making deep cuts in the national system of unemployment benefits. Die Zeit called it “A German revolution,” and Newsweek, with the knee-jerk dread so typical of today’s American fear culture, opined that “As with any revolution there promises to be blood.” Months later, angry words and threats have flowed. Blood has not. But the fear, as we have seen in a dread-laced American election campaign, is always there to be fed.
It may appear that the UFC prelude is now getting topical rather than mythic, as this is the third month in a row that it has been devoted partially, even mainly, to the US election and the American political pulse and climate in general. Yet there are mythic themes on which we'll concentrate from here on in. The fall from grace and power is fundamentally mythic, as everyone who's heard of the tower of Babel and the houses of Cadmus and Pelops well knows. So is trickery and disobedience in response to tyranny, Prometheus says. So is resistance to oppression, as in the plagues visited upon Pharaoh, and the deliverance of the people of Moses. So is the theft of treasure -- in this case the American democratic process and constitutional liberty -- and the resulting calamities caused by those who compete to possess it, as we know from such stories as Jason and Medea and the Golden Fleece, the saga of the Nibelungs and The Lord of the Rings. If the myths do not seem to speak to us as vividly as they once did, this does not mean that the stories themselves have lost relevance and power. The fact that our people are easily distracted by endless beeps and baubles, scares and shivers and shakes, so that they've traded the anthems of myth for the jingles of pop culture, and have even been jangled out of all contact with their own unconscious, is not the myths' fault. The myths always apply.
We'll look at several here, beginning with a Fall so precipitous that Lucifer, falling in smoke and pain from the stroke of the archangel Michael -- whose name means, "Who is equal to God?" -- will be increasingly cited as a model figure in the years to come. The definitive text on this is from another warrior of the same name, Michael Ventura, whose article "Welcome to the Situation" in the Austin Chronicle may be the most succinct and lucid summary of the American decline that is now already underway. The situation, as Ventura sees it, is that the relatively graceful and gradual decline which Bill Clinton envisioned and prepared for his country, and the bumpier, clumsier landing that John Kerry might have attempted, will no longer be possible, as America now becomes a debtor nation so addicted to living beyond its means that the true engine of the American economy is not industrial manufactures or even services, entertainment and high technology, but consumer credit card debt so massive that investor countries don't back what America makes, but buy up what America owes.
Start with debt to the tune of $7 trillion. Add to this the boycotts now taking shape in the United States against companies that have supported the Bush regime and its disgraceful election campaign, and the "Misfortune 100" companies identified as the worst air polluters by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. There is, naturally, some overlap between these two groups, so much so that the line that comes to mind, if all these corporate malefactors could sing, is the one from The Who's Quadrophenia: "Ain't it funny how we all seem to look the same?" Add to this the growing boycott of the election the US allegedly wants Iraq to hold, so Americans can allegedly try to extricate themselves from there even as Halliburton continues to build 14 permanent American military bases, and then think about the worldwide blockbuster of a boycott described by Paul Rockwell in "The Role of Boycotts in the Fight for Peace," -- quotes in the next two paragraphs are from this article -- and the prognosis is clear enough.
Each week more people all over the Earth refuse to buy American products, and pull them from their menus and store shelves. "No for American products" graffiti now proliferate in Cairo, where I live. The boycotters are determined. They will not buy American again until American forces leave Iraq, and American money rebuilds what cynical American war criminals have sent naive American youth to destroy. They will do what economist J. A. Hobson wrote about a century ago, when Gandhi and others were about to outwit the British empire: "Consumption alone vitalizes capital and makes it capable of yielding profits . . . It is idle to attack Imperialism or Militarism as political expedients or policies unless the axe is laid at the economic root of the tree." Gandhi's weapons? Cotton. And salt.
It is fitting then, that the Mahatma's star pupil in today's India should be one of those now directing the world's nonviolent counterattack against the American jagarnath. "The U.S. economy," writes Arundhati Roy, "is strung out across the globe. Its economic outposts are exposed and vulnerable. Our strategy must be to isolate Empire's working parts and disable them one by one. No target is too small. No victory too insignificant. We could reverse the idea of economic sanctions imposed on poor countries by Empire and its Allies. We could impose a regime of People's sanctions on every corporation that has been awarded a contract in post-war Iraq. Each one of them should be named, exposed and boycotted -- forced out of business."
This is Aquarian revolutionary action, no doubt about it: the concerted, non-violent efforts of millions of people, communicating outside the control and narcosis of mainstream media, to hit Goliath simultaneously in the sacrum and the third eye. When it works -- and it will, eventually, the only question is when -- the United States will be stuck with a quadrillion dollar killing machine for which its death merchant commanders can no longer afford to buy bullets and gasoline.
Are millions of Americans, having just blown their chance to defeat fear and lies, and to embrace friendship with the world and mercy for its people, about to experience what Gurdjieff called involuntary suffering in the years from now to 2010? Unavoidably. And will many of the sufferers be the decent, kind-hearted, compassionate people who have worked tirelessly for peace and freedom, love and light, but who will get baked in the economic drought anyway along with all the middle class war Christians, dittoheads and hate lemmings? No doubt. To some it will not seem fair. But that is how it happens when the sacred feminine acts in Kali mode, as it must now in this time of purification, and the world awakens to defend and free itself, and some Americans awaken too.
It is worth remembering now that Kali is only one manifestation of the Maha Devi, the Great Goddess. Others who are honored in the great nine-day Navaratri goddess festival point the way to the healing that comes after the pain, and the unconditional kindness that flows even to those who have done the most to create their own suffering, and have done the least to avert it. Will many people whose heads overrule their hearts feel vindicated by what will happen in the years to come? Yes. This author will not be the only one who makes a point of not using the phrase "I told you so," but wishes he owned the copyright on it and could collect a royalty every time someone else says it. Nor will he be the only one who gets very tired of hearing that Napoleon said: "Never interfere with a man who is in the process of destroying himself."
The question of how to respond to self-destructive folly will be central in the years to come. Indifference will not serve, and tough love will be exposed as an authoritarian fraud run by those who want to force compliance with their expectations. No kind person welcomes the suffering of another, no matter how righteous it may seem. We are about to enter the severest trials of our sincerity and power to love that we have ever faced. And of our grace to stand back and let others do what they must do to empower themselves. And our ability not only to hear the Great Goddess, but to do what she says. Here is Melody Beattie, sounding more like Durga than Kali, on how to "Be the Light House -- not the Rescue Boat":
"Where there is love there is the natural instinct to rescue. But at times we must resist that instinct. There may be those who gasp in dismay at my words. Is it love to stand aside and allow a loved one to suffer? Is it love when we do not race down into the trenches to pull our friend out of the mud? Yes . There are times when taking no action is love.
"If you, as a Soul, need to experience a period of great turmoil, a turmoil that will force you into the depths of yourself to find your own answers, a friend would be empowering you by standing beside you and supporting you and loving you - but not rescuing you.
"If you take the hand of a friend and pull them out of the mire they've created for themselves, you have robbed them of an opportunity. By remaining in the mire, they will find strength. They will find personal power. They will learn to trust themselves, to turn to their own inner voice."
And now, as more of the world remembers the power of the Triple Goddess, we can listen for a moment to this month's voice of Saraswati, the Deva of beauty and learning, and the creative use of our intelligence. Karen Bishop, in the latest of her What's Up on Planet Earth articles, writes,
"You can create whatever world you choose for yourself here, but if we all share a similar vision, we can also create en masse and create a New world we all manifest together and that looks the same for all of us.
"What does this say about the war and the Old world, you may wonder? For me, it appears as shadowy energy with no substance. It looks like a ghostly presence with no base in reality, and certainly not real. It is only being kept alive in the minds of those viewing it and believing it. Eventually, as people continue to relate in the Old world ways, they will say, "Wait a minute! I don't have to do that and experience that anymore! That no longer exists!" They will almost feel as though they are acting, and they will be, for it is not real.
"The Old ways and Old world reality will eventually fall away as there is absolutely no foundation to support them in this New reality we have just created and arrived in. It will be just a matter of time until more and more individuals "wake up" and choose to become a part of something very New and different."
Three Goddess voices, all of them very powerful. The warrior and purifier will no doubt be busy in the years to come, as will the lover and illuminator. But the last of the three, who teaches the transformation of all things through the limitless creative power of collective human consciousness, is the true Aquarian Magician.
Finally, a few calendar notes. Regular readers of the UFC may remember that the last two December preludes have been devoted to the Galactic Creation Cycle described by Mayan calendar expert Carl Johan Calleman. On Dec. 4 we will enter what Calleman calls the Fourth Day -- of seven "days" which alternate with six "nights" in a 13-year cycle that runs from early 1999 through late 2011. The Fourth Day that begins on Dec. 4 is a tun, a period of 360 days in the Mayan calendar, and will end on Nov. 28, 2005.
"It is in the Fourth Day," Calleman writes, "that the new frame of consciousness becomes so powerful that its influence on the human mind equals the old, lower, frames of consciousness that previously dominated." Another point that makes this Fourth Day especially auspicious is that June 2, 2005 is not only the midpoint of the tun that is about to begin, but of the whole Galactic Creation Cycle. Much will be written about June 2, 2005 in the months to come, and it is likely to be a focus of worldwide spiritual activity, as humanity begins to discover that necessity is the mother of many other things besides invention.
The American electoral college meets within the energy ripple of the next New Moon on Dec. 12. And get ready for the strange and challenging Mercury retrograde weeks that are about to begin on Nov. 30. Keep Holding That Frequency.