Aquarian Age and New Age

Son of Man is a new designation for Christ in the Gospels. As is evident from the definition of the original zodiac, that of the Babylonians, given in History of the Zodiac, the Age of Pisces will come to a conclusion in the year 2375, which is when the vernal point will pass into Aquarius from Pisces. This is the closing of the age. As described in the Gospel of St. Matthew, the disciples asked, "What will be the signs of the close of the age?" In this connection Christ speaks about the appearance of the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. This refers to the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. The sign of the Son of Man in heaven points to the working of Christ as the Aquarian Waterman. The Waterman can be looked upon as a cosmic symbol of the etheric body in the human being. The etheric organism is that which lives in the watery element within us. Thus the Waterman in the human being is the etheric body. So the sign of the Son of Man in heaven is the Waterman; it has to do with the entrance of the vernal point into Aquarius, when the guiding forces of civilisation will work from the sidereal sign of Aquarius just as they now work from Pisces.

 From the exact definition of the zodiac given in History of the Zodiac, it is possible to calculate precisely the start of the Age of Aquarius to the year 2375. (The date given in the American Sidereal Ephemeris is 2376.) This means that the present New Age is not to be identified with the Age of Aquarius, as many people believe. That there is, however, a relationship between the New Age and the Age of Aquarius emerges from the following considerations.

 Rudolf Steiner was one of the first people to use the expression New Age, and for him it had a definite connotation - as the Age of Christ's Second Coming. He indicated the date 1899 as the beginning of the New Age and, after the lapse of one period of thirty-three-and-a-third years (the length of the life of Christ), the onset for humanity in 1933 of a new working-in of Christ in his etheric body. Thus, the start of the New Age in 1899 coincided with the beginning of the entry of Christ into the earth's etheric aura and, after the lapse of one period of Christ's life, in 1933 the presence (parousia) of Christ etherically became tangible for earthly humanity. 1899 can be likened to the dawn and 1933 to the sunrise of the Age of the Second Coming, the New Age. We are now living in the period between the start of the New Age in 1899 and the commencement of the Aquarian Age in 2375. Clearly, it is important to distinguish between the New Age and the Age of Aquarius.

 Here it would help to call to consciousness what the extent of the New Age is. 1899 signified the end of the 5,000-year period of history known as Kali Yuga, which started in the year -3101, or as historians would say 3102 B.C. Kali Yuga, the Dark Age, was a time during which human consciousness began to become increasingly cut off from spiritual realms. According to Hindu chronology, Kali Yuga, also known as the Iron Age, was the fourth Yuga, each Yuga or age being characterised by a metal: gold, silver, bronze, and iron.

 If one follows the Hindu chronology, Kali Yuga lasted 5,000 years and the preceding Yuga lasted 10,000 years. Here there is a speeding-up of time, because the following Yuga, the New Age, which started in 1899, lasts only 2,500 years. In other words, the present Yuga, which started in 1899, will last until the year 4399. From 1899 to 4399 is a 2,500-year period. On the other hand, the Age of Aquarius will last 2,160 years, extending from 2375 to 4535. Therefore the Age of Aquarius will last slightly longer (136 years) than the New Age. In Hindu terminology the New Age is called Satya Yuga, which can be simply translated as the Age of Light or Age of Truth.

 However, it has to be borne in mind that the Yuga dates given here are based on Rudolf Steiner's indications and are not those of the Hindu tradition itself, in which the Kali Yuga is said to last for 432,000 years. The starting point taken by Rudolf Steiner - 3102 BC (written astronomically as -3101) - agrees with the Hindu tradition for the start of Kali Yuga. It is simply that Rudolf Steiner's statement concerning the length of Kali Yuga (5,000 years) is very different from the period of 432,000 years given by Hindu sources. The 2,500-year period for the New Age, the Age of Light (Satya Yuga) is also Rudolf Steiner's indication.

 Following Steiner's indications, the close of the New Age (Satya Yuga) coincides more or less with the end of the Aquarian Age, differing only by 136 years, as noted above. To summarize:

New Age: 1899-4399   Aquarian Age: 2375-4535
Present period (up to the start of the Aquarian Age): 1899-2375.

Thus the New Age comprises the present period from 1899 up to the start of the Aquarian Age plus the Aquarian Age, approximately. Against this background it emerges that it is precisely the present period which is referred to in the Gospel of St. Matthew as the period of tribulation preceding the appearance of the sign of the Son of Man in heaven.

 What is the significance of this? At the start of the Age of Aquarius, when new cosmic forces will begin to work here on the earth, there will be a general awakening to the etheric realm. The etheric forces will be stimulated during the Age of Aquarius, symbolised by the Waterman, associated with the etheric body of the human being, which in turn is connected with the etheric realm of nature. Thus we are approaching the Age of Aquarius as a time of awakening to the etheric, entailing an awakening to the Earth Mother and her kingdom, designated in the orient as Shamballa, having to do with the elemental realms.

 In the time preceding this - the present period of tribulation - through the renewed working of Christ's etheric body in the New Age, the possibility exists, through connecting with the event of the Second Coming, of awakening already to the etheric world. On the other hand the power of materialism is growing stronger and stronger, working to cut humanity off from the etheric world and to blot out any experience of the Second Coming of Christ. This is the struggle that is taking place at the present point in time. It is a struggle between materialism working to bind consciousness to the physical, and an awakening through Christ and Sophia to the etheric. All the trials and tribulations of the present time are connected with this conflict. The signs of this period of tribulation spoken of by Christ in the Gospel of St. Matthew and in the Gospel of St. Luke are war, famine, epidemics, earthquakes, and "great signs in heaven".

 A positive development is the awakening in the ecology movement to the realisation that everything within the human being, everything that he or she does, has its effect upon nature. This means that the human being's soul life works in such a way that if it is not harmonious, natural catastrophes will be called forth. Thus, there is a reality to the predictions for natural catastrophes - earthquakes, and so on - that are being made. The reality is that, through humanity's misdeeds, through humanity's separation from nature, natural catastrophes will take place. At the same time there will be extraordinary blessing coming through nature toward human beings who open themselves to receive the grace of the Etheric Christ.

 The possibility exists everywhere where there are people who are seeking to awaken to a new consciousness of nature, and who are endeavouring to bring their own soul life into inner harmony, to counteract the influences of chaos arising in the world. This possibility is given by Christ, who is working for those who are striving to become spiritually conscious in this age of tribulation. As it is expressed in the Gospel of St. Matthew: "When the sign of the Son of Man appears in heaven, all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will behold him." And as it says in the first chapter of the Book of Revelations: "Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and all peoples of the earth will lament on account of him." This indicates the general awakening to the Second Coming of Christ in the Age of Aquarius. Yet there is the possibility of awakening to this already now, and through this event, to awaken to Mother Earth. This outline of a new Christian wisdom of the stars can help to give some understanding of the task for the future, the task of a healthy evolution for the earth, and the task of humanity to find the right path together with Christ.

When one understands the Mystery of Golgotha, that is the only thing that enables us to experience the whole of nature morally. If one then gazes up at the clouds and sees the lightning flashing from them, one will then be able to behold Christ in his etheric form - with the "clouds," that is to say, with the elements. He will appear in spirit form. This vision will one day appear to every human being, whether it is sooner or later, only the Father knows the day and the hour - as it says in the Gospel.

(Rudolf Steiner, Concerning the History and Content of the Higher Degrees of the Esoteric School, 1904-1914, Argyll, Scotland: Etheric Dimensions Press, 2005, pp. 369=370.)

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