FEBRUARY, 2009

 

Mythic Prelude:

The Year of the Earth Ox:

Quantum Economy

Hail, and welcome to the Universal Festival Calendar for February, 2009. Today is the great feast of Imbolc ("in the womb"), when ewes feel in their bellies the stirring of the lambs who will be born in the spring, and the year turns now from the deadly season of mid-winter's Great Cold to the promise of renewal that is not just faintly seen in days that slowly get a little longer, but felt in the straining of mind and muscle as human babies conceived last May come to birth, and the oxen are walked out of the barn to get their legs ready for late March.
The symbolism of these powerful, patient animals is triply apt this year as the Chinese Year of the Earth Ox has just begun, following a Year of the Earth Rat in which our focus and effort were driven, ready or not, to practical matters of living, working and managing on the ground, where the food grows and the facts, such as they are, seem to be planted. The USA has just inaugurated a president born in the Ox Year of 1961, whose ox qualities of stamina, steadiness, loyalty, modesty and serviceability -- the last two traits rare in Leo natives -- will be essential to the success of his mission. Estimates of how this is going and will go in years to come will appear in these pages later in the year, when we see how Barack Obama matches and plays the great Triple Conjunction of Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune that runs from April into July as the pivotal second act of 2009. For those who want to understand Obama better from an astrologer's perspective right now, one excellent guide is Bill Herbst, who has posted a three-part set of articles on Mr. Obama. The new president's travels will take him abroad to Europe and Africa this year, and we shall see how his Astrocartographs, especially for Europe, play out in the months to come.
For the practical purposes that are most important to us now, the crucial fact is that our posture in relation to our planet, our food supply, our economy and each other has already begun to shift from the Rat Rush to the slower, more confident tempo of the Ox. As we know and have seen all too painfully in a Rat Year when human beings have fought and killed one another over food, the Rat lives in perpetual fear of starvation, and is thus obsessed with finding, hiding and stealing food. The Ox, on the other hand, never thinks about food at all. There is no reason ever to worry about whether it will not be there, because the Ox is always too busy pulling the plow, and going smoothly where the farmer directs him, to worry about whether the seeds that go into these new furrows will not sprout, and the grain will not grow high and golden in enough abundance for all. The key to the Bull, the Cow, and most of all the Ox are in the Chinese character above. The curved stroke and horizontal line joined to it at the top are the element for "man" or "person," and the cross that intersects them means "ten" -- and not only because the Ox has the strength of ten men. He also has the capacity for simple, humble, uncomplaining teamwork that we wish more human beings had, as it is vital to the success of the enterprise, especially in difficult times that demand extraordinary and selfless effort.
Not that 2009 is going to be a tough time. This is a splendid year, at least until the somewhat bumpier last third of it begins in September. The first eight months of the year, especially from April through July, could prove to be dangerous for the last reason we would ever expect. As so many things seem to get so much better a lot faster than we imagined they possibly could in spring and summer, it will seem that we don't really have to change or correct anything at all, in our public institutions and practices or in ourselves, so 2008 may even look like a false alarm, and the later months of this year could well prove to be a Backslide for Bozos that leaves us unprepared for the momentous, transformative summer of 2010.
So what can we do now to correct our "economy" and our relation to it? We can look at the grand mythic tapestry that has defined the long, overarching epochs of our history, and still offers valuable clues about where we are now and where we're about to go. A look at the Great Year, as we move now from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius, will show us why there is no point in trying to save the outworn and now toxic paradigm of capitalism. It will not be enough to suppose that the economic crisis of 2008 shows that unrestrained Reagan-style capitalism is an invitation to catastrophe, and that it must be replaced by another kind of capitalism that will be less risky because it will be well-regulated by national governments, and by an international regulatory body that has recently been proposed, and that capitalists claim to take seriously. History's own mythic rhythm says otherwise. Piling new hierarchies of agencies and committees one upon another is pointless now because the Age of Hierarchy itself is ending, and is giving way to a new society and economy of energized, empowered people, teams and communities who have begun to create not new hierarchies, but the synarchies of Aquarius.
The Great Year
Also called the Platonic Year, the Great Year is a cycle of 25,920 years defined by precession of the equinoxes. This gradual motion of the spring equinox point "backwards" through the zodiac at a rate of only 1/72 of a degree per year means that each Great Age that corresponds to a zodiac sign is about 2,160 years long. The starting and ending points of each Great Age are inexact. The transition from one to another resembles a slow cross-fade between movie scenes much more than a chapter sequence that ends on one page, and begins on the next. Thus, for example, proto-Aquarian events like the French revolution, the discovery of Uranus and Benjamin Franklin's electrical experiments all occurred late in the Age of Pisces, but heralded the kinds of changes that would multiply and accelerate as the new Aquarian Age began to draw near.
It's evident, as we'll soon see, that each Great Age has not only a ruling zodiac symbol, but also has its dominant element, its appropriate new technologies and new methods of thought and worship, social and political organization, economy and art. What is less evident is that the main symbol of each Great Age tends to change radically, even to reverse, in its meaning and manifestations. Each Great Age begins in its most powerful, transformative, "positive" qualities as it succeeds the moribund Age before it; then it slowly begins to calcify as structures are formed by habit and inertia rather than new creativity; and finally it deteriorates as it tries to apply its most fear-bound and "negative" traits in an effort to shore up what is no longer sustainable, and must soon yield to the next Age that is coming to supplant it.
From the Poem of Pity to the Five-Legged Bull
Take the Great Age that ran from 4,468 BC to 2,308 BC, to which the next patriarchal Age would give a masculine identity as the Age of Taurus. The great ruling symbols that appear early in this epoch suggest that it might have been instead the Age of Taura, the Cow. Isis, shown here, is clearly a mother symbol, as we see from her headdress in the shape of a vulture -- the most fiercely protective of all mothers -- the Cow's horns that enclose the disk of the Sun, and at top, the Isis glyph that is often misidentified as a throne, but which is actually a birth chair (see The Bull of His Mother). For the ancient Nile people, and the Vedic culture that revered the Cow millennia before Gandhi called her "a poem of pity," the Cow symbolized the matriarchal virtues of nurturance, generosity, compassion, intuition and wisdom that kept the Lady of the House and the Wise Woman atop the power strutures of tribal peoples everywhere. Much later, when the role of the male in procreation was finally understood, fatherhood would lead to patriarchy. But even by the middle of the Age of Taura, the innovations that would flip it into a masculine Age of Taurus were at hand.
This second zodiac sign is feminine, ruled by Venus, the lady of love, beauty and wealth. So in this era, for the first time, power and value are concretely measured in gold and turquoise, livestock, grain harvests and other wealth, all of which came to be recorded, by the end of the Taurean Age, in cuneiform tablets, suf (aka hieroglyphic) wall reliefs in Egypt and Minoan linear scripts from which the Greek language would evolve. Great prosperity also enabled rulers to glorify themselves through a new class of workers who originated now: the first professional artists, whose training and sole occupation was the creating of beauty. Taurus is an earth sign, so it was naturally in the Age of Taura - Taurus that great buildings were first erected in earth materials of brick and stone.
The working of earth in agriculture, notably in Mesopotamia, created such an abundance of food that it was only a matter of time before the traditional matriarchal villages would need more land for more people, and would expand to city states, alliances of cities, and empires of subject peoples. At this point, near the end of the Taurean Age, the communal, spiritual "Old Cultures" described by Thom Hartmann (in The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight) begin to yield to the aggressive, materialist "Young Cultures" whose standard of value is no longer in the fertility of the womb, but in male strength and metal swords and money.
As the Taurean Age ends, what matters most to the kings who have now replaced matriarchs is whether the famous walls of Babylon will be thick and high enough to keep out those who want to take what we've got, and whether our armies will be strong enough to take still more. Massive Bulls that were the prototype of the later one shown here replace the Cow as the ruling symbol of the era. Warriors will soon have better weapons, as the Bronze Age begins in 2,300 BC, right in the juncture of the Age of Taurus and the epoch that comes next:
From the Warrior Ram to the Lamb of God
The Age of Aries (2,308 BC - 148 BC) is ruled by Mars, so its typical figures are warriors like Achilles and Alexander -- shown here with the ram's horns of Zeus-Amon sprouting from his temples -- and intrepid figures like Theseus, Odysseus, and Jason and the Argonauts, whose insatiable desire to conquer, explore and discover the new drives them from one adventure to the next. They are the enemies of stability and safety, and not one of them dies happy, and at home.
Aries is a fire sign, so in the Arian Age new fire technologies abound. From the making of bronze for tools, weapons and incomparable Shang dynasty ritual vessels, to the smelting of iron and the perfecting of coinage in precious metals, to the improved firing of bricks, pottery and glassware to the first simple steam engines, this is the first Great Age to envision fire as the universal principle of creation -- and destruction. In an era when, for the first time in history, great cities like Troy and possibly Knossos were obliterated in fire, it is only to be expected that Zoroastrian, Jewish and other prophets imagine that divine judgment will come not in flood, but in fire and brimstone that consume the wicked, and along with them, the entire impure realm of Earth.
Yet the Age of Aries also has its pattern of reversal, just as the Age of Taurus did. As the Arian Age moves through Abraham and Isaac -- in
whose story the Ram has a very different role -- to the centuries of Akhnaton, Moses, Zoroaster and then to the Buddha, the arena of warriorship changes from the outer field of battle to the inner soulscape, so that the great spiritual heroes of the Age are those who left home to teach or to lead their people into new lands, or who attempted to liberate them from corrupt religions.
The change in emphasis from the impetuous, violent Ram to the innocent Lamb of God was well underway in Middle Kingdom Egypt (from 1,570 BC), when Osiris was the Shepherd of his people long before the same title was given to the God of the Hebrews, the Buddha and Jesus, the transitional figure who turned the Age of Aries on its head by becoming the Lamb of God who is not out to shed anyone else's blood, but whose heroic sacrifice, in the words of the Agnus Dei in the Roman Catholic mass, "takes away the sins of the world."
From Fishers of Men to Fish in a Barrel
As everyone "knows," the link between the fish symbol of Christianity and the Age of Pisces (148 BC - 2012) comes from the secret sign made by early
Christians who identified themselves to one another by drawing the two curves of a fish that also represented an anagram for the Greek words for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." The association between the Piscean Age and water, and animals that live in it, is inevitable. Pisces is a water sign ruled by Neptune, lord of the sea, so the Great Age that is coming to an end in our time has been an age of exploration by seafarers from Leif Ericson and other Vikings to Zheng He to Columbus and all the European colonialists who followed. Here too, though, the crucial implications of the journey by water are spiritual, and in the Neptunian Age of Pisces even mystical, rather than just physical and geographic.
Jesus asked his disciples to be "fishers of men" not only because Peter and some other original apostles were fishermen, but to create a curious metaphor by which the fisherman does not pull souls out of their home and into the terrible frying pan, as Rumi called it, but out of the dark, fluid peril of mortality, and into the deathless radiance of eternal life. The Qur'an speaks of Allah as the loving protector who guides us through ocean waves that roll as huge and black as mountains. And, as Gothic cathedrals and the exquisite mosques of 11th-century Islam recreate geometry as a sacred art midway through the Piscean Age, the profound symbol of the vesica piscis ("fish bladder") often encloses the figure of Jesus because it represents the mystic space where the spheres of matter and spirit intersect, where one can intuit, even if he or she may not yet see, what the master meant in declaring "I have said you are gods." (John 10:34).
Intuition, imagination, dreams and archetypes are, after all, the currency and media of the Piscean Age because they, rather than the analytical force of the intellect, are the surest means of going beneath and beyond definitions and distinctions, to affirm the universal heart that embraces us all. There is something to be said for submission -- the meaning of "Islam" -- and for the act of surrender in which one agrees to move without an individual agenda, like a fish in a school, or a bird in a flock who all turn as one without debating goals or directions.
This, at least, is how it might and should go when we are in the care of loving shepherds and honest brokers. But the problem with sleeping and dreaming most or all of the time, as we can see now in the toxic coda to the Age of Pisces, is that the more we concede, and the more we accept easy accommodation with the unacceptable, then the more of our time, treasure, credit and love the deceivers among us will take, as the most ambitious among them create ever more elaborate hierarchies to feed on our fear. This is why, as the late Piscean era has brought the most complex and cumbersome hierarchies we have ever seen in governments and armies, corporations and churches, we face more fears than human beings have ever had -- or, what is more likely now, the people of "developed" countries find more ways not to face their fears, but to deny and evade them.
Welcome to the end of the Age of Pisces. If the sleep of reason produces monsters, as Goya named one of his paintings, it also invites Ponzi schemers and inside traders, addicts and emotional vampires, co-dependents, denialists, delusionaries and the rest of the menagerie of deceit who multiply at Neptune's negative pole not because our imaginations are overactive, but because they are not being used at all. The inescapable result is late Piscean corporatism, which concentrates immense wealth in fewer and fewer talons while the many live in despair, so disempowered and dumbed down that they have never sensed the forces of mind and will that lie within them, and are unable to help or free themselves or their loved ones, much less their communities and their planet. No wonder new fish metaphors, the opposites of fishers of men, multiply now, as sellers view consumers as fish in a barrel, and card sharks and con artists see the hotel lobby as swimming with fish.
Until now, that is, as light begins to pierce the depths of the fog and the sea, and we finally begin to see that the dog-eat-dog Darwinian model of our economy does not reflect the truth of our life in the world, but only the lies that controllers and exploiters have sold for their power and profit. We begin to see that while capitalism generates enormous wealth for a few of the world's people, it impoverishes the rest. It is unsustainable. It cannot be revamped or remodeled. It will not stand, nor will it be replaced by an equally disempowering socialist model that rewards mediocrity rather than merit. It is time for our collective imagination to create what no one's individual imagination, however powerful, possibly can. A new Great Age is about to begin.
   
Arise, Shine, for Thy Light is Come
Many of this site's pages are about the Aquarian Age, which may or may not begin in 2012. A light introduction is in Aquarian Airlines. There is more in Aquarian Frequencies, and other pieces listed on the UFC portal page, and more to come in Surfing Aquarius, which I aim to publish next year. For now, the key points of the emerging Aquarian economy is that it is:
(1) synarchic, rather than hierarchic. It spreads the power of initiatives and decision-making over a broader base of people who work as teams in relationships of equality. New models of swarm intelligence, which allow workers more freedom of action in response to more fluid conditions, bring encouraging results, and promote more compact, efficient organizations.
(2) transparent, rather than secretive, deceptive and exploitative, as new Aquarian companies work to do more openly what dinosaur corporations can no longer do behind closed doors. The internet, and the use of SMS and other technologies for activist purposes, are among the obvious tools of the new transparency, and its urge to move fast.
(3) empowered, rather than passive and shamelessly, repeatedly fooled, as more of our people demand and create alternatives to poisonous pharmaceuticals, genetically-modified foods and corrupt corporate media. Our people create local farmers' and artisans' markets, and they barter, instead of buying at chain stores, applying Thom Hartmann's premise that if there is more than one of a store, don't go there. Buy food locally. It tastes and works better.
(4) communal, rather than exclusive or divisive, created by builders of community who focus on what they have in common with people they don't know, rather than on prejudices and fake rhetorics that feed the need of unawakened people for artificial conflict and pointless competition. The election and inauguration of Barack Obama are a clear signal of this trend. The energy and the news are not in the man himself, no matter how gifted and charismatic he is, and how sincere he may be, but in the huge resource of faith and will that he galvanized into action. As success breeds success and opportunities multiply as they are used, there is no telling where the new knowledge that Yes, We Can will lead, and what results it will bring.
In what terms can all these things be called features of an Aquarian Quantum Economy? In simple terms, fortunately, as the late Richard Feynman said that only a handful of people actually understand quantum physics, and I am not one of them. Yet anyone can imagine its basic premise: that we live not in a universe of solid objects, but within mobile, mutable structures of energy. As each atom has a few or several dozen sub-atomic particles centering or whizzing about a sphere of empty space, one does not have to be Carl Sagan to perceive that "Matter is composed, chiefly, of nothing," and that what appear to us to be material substances are in fact arrangements of energy that are in constant motion, as it's the nature of energy to move. Thus the core belief of the capitalist economy, that it is grounded in a re-ality (from Latin res, "thing") of exchanging things -- including labor as a commodity -- is false. The truth of the quantum economy is that it flows through exchanges of energy, for which apparently solid objects are in fact only the material markers.
"Reality is an illusion," Einstein wrote, "albeit a very persistent one." As we become more skilled in the arts of intention and manifestation -- actually ways of manipulating and directing energy into sensible substance and form -- we come closer to an understanding that economies are states of manifestation in which individual energies combine to create a collective result. Thus there is no such thing as "growth" that can be measured in currencies and things. There is only the ultimate alchemy that may occur as more empowered people increase and join their energies to create quantum economies.
It must follow, then, that the most valuable resource each one has to sell is not skill, time or labor, but energy, so that as we amplify our frequencies of energy, and team them with the resonances of others, we can build and move new transformative forces in versatile synergies that are far beyond the limited creative range of the self-underutilizing specialists and line workers of the old capitalist economy. Instead of shrinking our people from intelligent, broadly-skilled artisans into Prozac-popping minibots whose job is only to mount this gasket or gun that rivet home, we will re-expand our vision of their true roles and capacities, and get correspondingly greater results. The hidden reason why capitalism creates shortages, busts and general misery is that it compels far too many of us to get smaller and dumber, so we can land the available jobs, and bear the tedium of doing them. The quantum economy that now evolves will reverse this trend by daring us -- and by 2010 compelling us -- to think bigger and get smarter, to see ourselves as Shakespeare once did. It is time to imagine again that we are "noble in reason, infinite in faculties." When we do, there will be no limit to what we, and the other highly evolved beings with whom we link in synergies, can do.
We will find the right words for this new economy as we work together to fathom and fashion it. And the new rhythms we'll need as we whistle while we work, and sing. It's time to uncork that new world craftsmanship. Let's hear it. Keep Holding That Frequency.
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The Chiron - Neptune Conjunction of 2009 - 2012:
Prelude: The American Election of November 4, 2008
Prelude Supplement: And the Winner Is . . .
Act 1: Conflicts: The Neptune Return of April 11, 2009
Act 2: Complications: The Triple Chiron-Neptune-Jupiter Conjunction of May-August, 2009
Act 3: Turning Point: The Exact Chiron-Neptune Conjunction of Feb. 16 - 17, 2010
Act 4: Crisis and Climax: The Crosses of Summer, 2010
Act 5: Denouement: The Near Chiron-Neptune Conjunction of Nov. 2 - 3, 2010
2012: The End of . . . What?
Copyright 2009 Dan Furst. All Rights Reserved.