The Spirit of the Year is Reborn
We are now entering the zone of the first great Solar Festival of 2015 – The Vernal Equinox, celebrated on Friday, March 20 this year, when the Sun enters the sign of Aries the Ram. This is a day to honor the Norse Goddess Frigga, Queen of Valhalla, whose chariot was drawn by two rams.
The Spring Equinox is a time of equal day and night, striking a cosmic balance between the feminine and masculine forces of yin and yang.
One of the four pagan cross-quarter festivals and a major Sabbat for witches, the Spring Equinox is the day to celebrate the reunion of the Earth Mother Kore with her long lost daughter Persephone, who has been languishing in the underworld throughout the long winter nights. This is the Greek version of the ancient pagan celebration of the coming ascendancy of the Sun, and the rebirth and renewal of plant life.
In upstate New York, this week, where the snow is thigh deep in the woods and patchy on the fields, the farmers at Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook are artfully nursing a warm, moist greenhouse full of trays of tiny onion sprouts, celeriac seedlings, collard starts and lettuce, and seedings of peppers, leeks and eggplants, in preparation for planting. \
For millennia the Spring Equinox has been celebrated around the world as a festival of Resurrection, and it marks the start of the astrological New Year.
For the temple priests of the Egyptian dynasties, Osiris, the dying and reborn god connected with the morning star Venus, was known as “the heart of the renewed sun”. Lord of the Underworld and King of the Dead, in his role as the resurrected God, Osiris represented light, life and consciousness, the ever-renewing power of the Solar Disc.
Osiris was also the god of vegetation, often depicted with green skin. Egyptians created wood-framed barley seedbeds in the shape of the god, known as “Osiris gardens”. These sacred seedbeds have been found in tombs. Clearly, the plants which sprouted from these beds symbolized the resurrection of life after death.
The soul of Osiris was said to rest in his sarcophagus during the winter season, and the spring equinox marked his resurrection.
Osiris represented the eternal soul that incarnates into the physical world, dies, and yet is reborn into spiritual realms, only to reincarnate again and again in a cycle of transmigration transcending the lifespan of mere empires.
All great spiritual traditions that have left written records behind, from the Sumerian, to the Egyptian to the Greek, tell the story of seasonal cycles of birth, growth, decay, death and rebirth, corresponding to the spiritual cycles of the immortal gods and of the immortal souls of men and women living on planet Earth.
In the Neolithic age, prior to any written records, ancient scientists and priests, shamans and priestesses searched the night sky to find “fixed” reference points in the dance of the stars. This map would provide a structure reflecting the harmony of the universe, and provide an understanding of the orderly procession of seasonal change, rain and sun, that governed the yearly agricultural cycles upon which Neolithic communities depended for survival.
This was the origin of both astronomy and astrology, magical and scientific studies that were simultaneously a source of agricultural guidance, divinatory and ritual powers.
The knowledge of the Equinoxes attributed by many scholars to pre-literate Neolithic societies, and evidenced by structures such as Stonehenge, rests upon very careful, long-term study of the heavens and a sophisticated understanding of the Earth’s shape and movements throughout the year.
The Earth wobbles in its orbit around the Sun. This is the source of our seasonal cycles.
The North Pole of the Earth leans toward the Sun for half a yearly orbit, then leans away from the Sun for the rest of our Earthly year. Twice a year, on the Vernal Equinox and the Autumnal Equinox, the Earth offers half its face to the Sun, and day and night are of equal length.
After the Vernal Equinox, the North Pole swings toward the Sun, which appears to be climbing higher in the sky day by day to observers in the Northern Hemisphere, as the season of summer progresses. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Vernal Equinox signals the onset of autumn, as the South Pole swings away from the sun, and the sun appears lower and lower in the sky, day by day. (Clearly cultures of the North named the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes.)
In mid-summer, the North Pole’s tilt reaches its maximum point, and for observers in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun has climbed to its highest point in the sky. This is the moment of solstice, which means “sun-stop” in Latin. From this point on, the sun will appear lower and lower in the sky, day by day, to Northern Hemisphere observers.
The Autumnal Equinox, the onset of winter, and the winter solstice follow in sequence, as the North Pole tilts increasingly away from the sun.
The fact that the Earth wobbles on its axis as it spins through space also creates the conditions giving rise to the much grander cycle of the Great Cosmic Year, a cycle intimately related to observations made on the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox by ancient astronomers.
The ancient understanding of the cycles of the Great Cosmic Year, reflected in the calendars, mythologies and mathematics of Mesopotamia, India, Egypt, and Greece were all founded in a seminal conceptual breakthrough – the knowledge of the Precession of the Equinoxes.
What is the Precession of the Equinoxes? In simple terms, it’s another aspect of the Earth’s wobbling motion in its orbit around the Sun. The combined gravitational effects of the sun, the moon, and the planets on Earth’s equatorial bulge trigger a slow clockwise swaying motion of the Earth’s axis. Picture a spinning top and you’ll get the idea. It takes about 25,800 years for the Earth’s axis to complete one wobble, sway or circle of rotation.
The sun’s apparent path around the Zodiac as viewed from Earth, called the plane of the ecliptic, crosses the equator each year on the day of the Vernal Equinox. At the exact location where the sun’s plane crosses the equator, the sun is directly overhead, and no shadows are cast. In this context, it is perhaps interesting to note that as a result of the angle of the sides of the Great Pyramid versus its latitude, it casts no shadow at noon on the day of the Spring Equinox.
The ancients perceived the Earth as the center of the Universe, and took the Sun as their obvious fixed reference point. The astrological New Year began on the first day of spring, the Vernal Equinox, and many of their festivals, designed to invoke beneficial forces that would sustain the universal order and life in their communities, took place at that time.
Naturally, they looked East at dawn on the day of the spring equinox to find which star constellation would “rise with the Sun”. This might give them insight into conditions that would pertain during the upcoming year. What a shock to discover over time that the constellation visible just before dawn was actually moving away, and another constellation was coming into view, very slowly. This process of “moving” from one sign to the next took more than two thousand years. Multiplying the length of time this took by the 12 signs of the Zodiac, they could calculate the exact length of the Cosmic Year, some 25,800 years.
It is interesting to note that the earliest known Mesopotamian cultures used a sexagesimal system of calculation, based upon the primacy of the number six, to define both astronomical and astrological cycles, such as the Great Cosmic Year of some 25,800 years. Even more interesting, the astrological and mythological structures found in ancient India, Egypt, and Greece contain significant sexagesimal components.
Some scholars say that knowledge of the precessional wobble and the changing Zodiacal cycles of the Equinoxes predate writing and the civilizations whose written records constitute our recorded histories.
“. . .Sometime in the Neolithic age astronomers became aware of the slippage of the equinoctial sunrise, which threw the invariance of the solar year awry and, in time, invalidated ritual devices, such as Stonehenge, which were based upon it,” says Dr. Thomas McEvilley in his ground-breaking book “The Shape of Ancient Thought”..
The knowledge of the Earth’s wobble introduced an element of instability, unpredictability and disharmony into a universe that was seen as potentially deadly, intimidating, full of cosmic forces that threatened the ability of human communities to grow crops, plan irrigation cycles, and feed themselves. In these societies ritual sacrifices made on a regular basis were the guarantors of life’s continuity, and substantial efforts were expended to create predictability, regularity, and harmony in both the natural and social spheres.
Some scholars propose that the discovery of this minor irregularity in the Earth’s rotation, this wobble, and the precession of the signs of the Zodiac, is the seed and source of all mythology, calendars, astronomy and astrology. These scholars say that many of the ancient rituals enacted in cultures around the world were designed to manage the irregular, unpredictable, subtly changing and extremely threatening seasonal, yearly and multi-yearly cycles unfolding on Earth, seemingly in synchronicity with the complex cosmic patterns revealed by knowledge of the precession of the Equinoxes.
In fact, the Earth’s wobble, the seasonal cycles that result from that wobble, and the Cosmic Year unfolding as a further result, were all seen as evidence of fundamental flaws in creation that triggered disharmonious events such as droughts, floods, earthquakes, crop failures, social upheavals, diseases, and even the natural action of aging and the restrictions imposed by life in the material world, structured as it is by the limitations of space and time.
It was a short step from this view of reality to the notion that humanity was living in a “fallen state”, that there had been a prior Golden Age characterized by a continuous growing season, long life, social harmony, preternatural clairvoyant abilities and spiritual grace. In short, humanity pictured a time without the wobble, a time of complete cosmic order, reflecting its desire for a timeless state of predictable, eternal bliss, immortal life in a material universe that would be completely orderly, perfectly harmonious, and unmarked by sudden disruptions, complexity and outbreaks of chaos.
Then another short step would bring humanity to the notion that the current sorry state of affairs must be the result of either a flaw in the Divine Architect of the wobbly Universal creation, or a flaw in humanity itself which triggered the onset of imperfection, aging, disease, death, and intermittent disaster.
“The universe was conceived as an armature or frame with four fixed points: the equinoxes (where the ecliptic intersected the equator) and the solstices (where the ecliptic was farthest from the equator),” McEvilley says. “‘The sliding of the sun along the equinoctial point affected the frame of the cosmos. ‘This slippage of the frame was a kind of cosmogonic original sin whereby the circle of the ecliptic (with the zodiac) was tilted up at an angle with respect to the equator, and the cycle of change came into being.’ The passage of the seasons, which is to say the year, would not occur if the equator and the ecliptic had not slipped apart; this was in effect the beginning of time as history, or time as change.”
According to some scholars, the primal mythic motif of the Separation of the Parents of the World, Father Sky and Mother Earth, relates the story of the discovery of the Precession of the Equinoxes, the beginning of measurable time, the moment of the descent from the timeless Golden Age of universal unity, harmony and constancy. In the Golden Age there was only one long season of endless growth, but now we have fallen into the present unhappy world situation of duality, conflict between the primal masculine and feminine principles, irregular seasonal cycles, and variable yearly weather patterns affecting river’s flows, rainfall, crops, animals and all human endeavors.
“Every two thousand years or so the original sin is repeated,” McEvilley explains, “when the equinoctial sunrise enters a new sign, having passed through thirty degrees of the zodiac. From this arises the myth of periodic destructions and recreations of the world: At the end of every age the world frame slips, accompanied by disasters such as floods which destroy mankind. . .When the frame shifts and the established world order is ended, a cosmogonic hero is needed to adjust it.”
Examples of such heroes include Marduk, the hero who sets out to put the heavens back into order in the Babylonian Creation Epic; Ram, the Hindu Hero and Avatar of the Hindu Creator God Vishnu, who presided over the destruction and re-creation of human society in the epic Ramayana; the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh, and the Greek Odysseus.
Plato and the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers of the centuries just prior to the birth of Christ, at the cusp between the Age of Aries and the Age of Pisces, believed in reincarnation and the Cosmic Year, and their systems of astronomy and music reflect the ancient Mesopotamian and Neolithic sexagesimal mathematics and Near Eastern mythological motifs. Xenophanes and Plato anticipated partial apocalypse in their own societies’ near future, while the Stoics and Manu envisioned complete world destruction coming soon.
These types of apocalyptic predictions are characteristic references to the shaking of the world framework during the epochal movement from one Equinoctial Age to the next. This view offers a firm foundation for the argument that the scientific and mathematical skills necessary to understand the phenomenon of the precession of the equinoxes predate all human writing, extending far back into Neolithic times, according to McEvilley, and that the mathematics involved has conditioned spiritual and mythological systems ever since.
In a little over a week, it will be Easter, when Christians in the west will celebrate the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ is the Christian Avatar, who incarnated into the world, died as a sacrifice for the original sin of Adam and Eve, and for the sins of all men, descended into the Underworld, conquered Death itself, was resurrected on Easter Sunday, and later ascended into Heaven.
Clearly, the story of Christ’s triumphant resurrection echoes the early vegetation festivals of death and renewal celebrated at the Vernal Equinox, which existed for thousands of years before the birth of Christ in cultures both literate and pre-literate around the world.
Eggs are dyed with all the colors of the rainbow to symbolize the imminent birth of new life, in the fields, and among the plants and animals. Christ’s resurrection signals the transmission of Divine Grace that can trigger the re-birth of the receptive human soul at a higher level of consciousness, in more complete harmony with the web of life and the cycles of Earthly and Cosmic Change, as a result of Christ’s sacrifice and conquest of Death itself, which paid in full man’s debt for humanity’s original sin.
At this time in history, on the day of the Vernal Equinox, the sun appears to us to be located between Pisces and Aquarius at dawn on the first day of spring. This is the scientific explanation behind the expression “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius”.
Today, at the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius, at the Spring Equinox of 2005, we are surrounded by apocalyptic events and here in America, we live in a country where roughly a third of the people believe in the imminent literal end of the world, as foretold in the Book of Revelations.
Esoteric science, as developed in the mystery schools of the East and West and handed down through oral traditions and direct experience of spiritual worlds, indicates that the time has indeed come for a new world hero to emerge.
In the Age of Aquarius, that world hero is no longer a solitary individual god, goddess or Avatar. The identity of that hero is represented by the image of the God and Goddess in rapt, loving embrace. The Divine Lovers represent not only the balance between men and women that will characterize the new Aquarian society, but also the balance between the male and female aspects of ourselves as well as the equality and participation of all men and women in the heroic project of rectifying humanity’s monumental disruption of environmental systems, traditional social structures, and spiritual and religious traditions.
We (Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry) invite you to read our article on “The New Age of the Divine Lovers”, which discusses this transitional time in history. “Our task in the New Age is to return to the Garden of Eden within us,” this author explains, “and to restore the Garden of Eden planet around us.”
You may also want to read my article on “The Dark Night of the Planetary Soul”, for more information on this pivotal point in world history. “The social structure of this society is a reflection of this moment in evolutionary consciousness, highly structured, hierarchical, and driven by mental considerations of perceived self-interest on the part of small elites who govern on the principles of fear, greed and obfuscation. However, the next evolutionary step for human beings is to re-establish conscious ancient connections with the web of life, with the extended consciousness of the human over-soul, and with the multitude of spiritual beings in higher worlds, to offer in self-sacrifice their highly developed individuated consciousness to the Higher Self, and to establish the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.”
Jane & I wish that you and your loved ones may greet the dawning light of this astrological New Year with fearless joy, fierce love and a playful Trickster child-mind this Sunday, and may the coming seasons of growth provide you with opportunities to reach your highest spiritual goals.
Top Satya Center Stories of the Week
Satya Center contributor Dr. Joie Power, owner of Dreaming Earth Botanicals, home of Soma Therapy brand essential oils, discusses various ways of “Exploring and Balancing the Immune System”. Dr. Power offers very specific advice on using aromatherapy for immune system support, including several specific mixtures of essential oils that can be beneficial in times of stress that manifest as physical, emotional, mental or spiritual imbalance.
Tania Ahsan, Editor of Britain’s “Prediction” Magazine, discusses the myth of the egoless spiritual seeker in her important article “Meditation: The Divine Ego”, and argues that a strong ego can be a valuable asset in spiritual practice. Tania also explores the three selves found in Polynesian shamanistic tradition, and how you can resolve difficulties and overcome bad habits by communicating with the “carnal self” in meditation.
Green witch, wise woman, author and Satya Center contributor Susun Weed offers recipes, springtime gardening anecdotes and wise woman ways of creating “Herbal Vinegars” that will delight the palate, entertain the cultivator, and entrance the forager within each of us. “A pantry full of herbal vinegars is a constant delight. Preserving fresh herbs and roots in vinegar is an easy way to capture their nourishing goodness,” explains Susun. “It's easy too. You don't even have to have an herb garden.”
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Top Stories from around the Web
Special Equinox Meditation Focus
GlobalVisionaries, by Jean Hudon, March 2005
“The following two suggested meditations for the coming equinox on March 20 - one, the Solar Wave, to be done preferably at sunrise, the other one, the Golden Water Activation meditation, to be done preferably at 8 p.m., local time - will evoke an inner resonance within many people and are inspiring formats through which a global unification of souls, in common purpose for the Highest Good of All, can be furthered.”
“At this juncture where so much is at stake and when global awakening and concerted spiritual activities fostering true unconditional love in all relations, absolute integrity in all human activities and inner and outer peace wherever humans live, the unique opportunity offered at this time of the year, when both the southern and northern hemispheres of our planet are receiving the same amount of solar energy, is the perfect moment for such a global celebration of Peace, Love and Harmony on Earth.”
Globalize Liberation, Part 1
Rachel’s Environment and Health News, 3/03/05
By Patrick Reinsborough
“The system we are fighting is not merely structural, it's also inside us, through the internalization of oppressive cultural norms that define our worldview. Our minds have been colonized to normalize deeply pathological assumptions. Thus, oftentimes our own sense of self-defeatism becomes complicit with the anesthetic qualities of a cynical mass media to make fundamental social change seem unimaginable.
“. . .Our revolution(s) will really start rolling when the logic of our actions and the appeal of our disobedience are so clear that they can easily replicate and spread far beyond the limiting definition of "protester" or "activist." To do so, our movements for justice, ecology, and democracy must deepen their message by more effectively articulating the values crisis underlying the corporate system. We must lay claim to life-affirming, common-sense values and expose one of the most blatant revolutionary truths of the modern era: The corporate-rule system is rooted in sacrificing human dignity and planetary health for elite profit, and it is out of alignment with human values.”
Globalize Liberation, Part 2
Rachel’s Environment and Health News, 3/10/05
By Patrick Reinsborough
“Our movements need to contest the corporate monopoly on meaning. We must create point of assumption actions that go beyond merely jamming the control mythology to actually substituting transformative, life- affirming stories. Culture jamming has largely been applied like a wrench to disable the brainwashing infrastructure of corporate consumerism. We must supplement the wrench with the seed by planting new, transformative stories that use the information-replicating networks of modern society to grow and spread. Our actions must create image events and launch designer memes with the power to supersede the controlling mythologies of consumer culture, the American empire, and pathological capitalism.”
The End of Rational Capitalism
Monthly Review, by John Bellamy Foster, March 2005
“. . .No economic system, particularly capitalism, left to follow its own logic unrestrained can possibly survive, as Schumpeter stressed. In the end it will undermine itself. The idea of “free market capitalism” is a dangerous illusion in a time of growing class polarization, monopolization, speculation, militarism, and imperialism. The politics of the right, lacking any substantial or rational basis, has increasingly turned to a predatory culture of open barbarism: the resurgence of open racism, war, imperialism, sexism, religious fundamentalism. Eventually such a society, trapped in stagnation and left to follow its own downward logic, will destroy itself and everything else within its reach—not through economic breakdown but through an intensification of barbarism on a global scale.”
“. . .This takes us back to the essential truth that the problem is capitalism. The only solution, as difficult as this may be to contemplate at the present time, is socialism; socialism, that is, as the socialist movement always meant it to be: revolutionary, democratic, egalitatarian, environmental, necessitating mass participation and mobilization.”
The Lean Economy: A Vision of Civility for a World in Trouble
Feasta.org, by David Fleming
“The coming oil shock is not the only reason why the prospects for the global market economy and for civilisation as a whole look poor. A complex system, such as a car or a human body, tends at the end of its life to fail in many different ways at about the same time. A second sign of systems failure is climate change. Thirdly, there is the complex and still poorly-understood issue of how a mature market economy can, even under ideal conditions, sustain the perpetual economic growth which is an essential condition for its stability: along with Richard Douthwaite and others I argue that it simply cannot do so. Fourthly, there is the increasingly intense phenomenon of disengagement a failure of participation, consent, shared values, social cohesion in short, a failure of social capital which ultimately matures into insurgency, both from dissidents on the outside of modern society and from within it. The system is failing in many other ways: soil fertility, water, hormone disruptors, the collapse of fisheries but that is enough for now.”
“If we put all these together, then we find ourselves looking at the climax of the market economy, followed by its comprehensive failure, very high unemployment and an atrophy of government revenues, leading towards what could be called hyperunemployment - that is, unemployment so high that government cannot fund subsistence payments and pensions. Unemployment on this scale means no income. No income means no food. No food means the collapse of urban populations on the scale experienced by former civic societies the Romans and some two dozen other accomplished civilisations in the closing phase of their life-cycles. I hope I am wrong or, rather, that it doesn't come to this. But it does seem obvious to me that the opportunity is rapidly passing in which it will be possible to avoid the high levels of mortality that have been associated with the collapse of other civic societies.”
“. . .8000 years ago there was an evolution in human society when many human groups gradually began to turn away from being hunter-gatherers. Instead of going out, foraging and taking what they found, they began instead to bring animals and plants within the perimeter fence - domesticating them, taking direct responsibility for the fulfilment of their own primary needs. It was the start of something big. It was the first domestication. What I suggest lies ahead now is the second domestication when, instead of relying on industry to do the work and then foraging in the market, households and local economies bring industrial insights and technologies within, so to speak, the perimeter fence - bringing it under their direct control. The new domestication, then, can be seen for local economies as a process of growing-up, of evolution - not just a means of survival in the midst of global economic catastrophe, but a vision of civility.”
Sustainable Development, Spiritual Economics and Wise Use of Our Cosmic Inheritance
Prout Journal, by Roar Bjoness
“. . .Economist E. F. Schumacher wrote that ‘no system or machinery or economic doctrine or theory stands on its own two feet: it is variably built on a metaphysical foundation, that is to say, upon our basic outlook on life, its meaning and its purpose.’ The ‘metaphysical foundation’ of economic liberalism is motivated by self-interest, individual property rights, and the fulfillment of our material or economic needs.”
“What, then, should be the basic outlook on life of the new economy? The spiritual conception of wealth, as described by Sarkar, expresses a common sentiment among many alternative development thinkers: ‘This universe is created in the imagination of the Supreme Entity, so the ownership of this universe does not belong to any particular individual; everything is the patrimony of us all. Every living being can utilize their rightful share of this property...This whole animate world is a large joint family in which nature has not assigned any property to any particular individual.’
“Sarkar termed this concept of wealth ‘cosmic inheritance’, and made clear its implications for economic theory: ‘The system of individual ownership cannot be accepted as absolute, hence [economic liberalism] too cannot be supported.’ With a spiritual worldview as the basis for a new economy, the psychology of greed and selfishness is replaced with the psychology of collective welfare and cooperation.”
Meditations on Collapse and How to Make the Best of the Fall of Oil Based Civilizations
MuseLetter, by Richard Heinber, 02/04