The Aquarius-Leo Age - 3
The Pisces-Virgo Age
If one considers what has been called the "Piscean" Age (which I have defined rather as Phase One of a complete cycle of precession) one should say that the Christ Impulse in it represents the Pisces factor or polarity, while the Romanesque-Gothic culture of the Middle Ages (from 900 AD onward) is to be linked to the Virgo pole. Indeed, we find the first centuries of this medieval period illumined by a worship of the Madonna, the Holy Virgin, and of all the Beautiful Ladies to whom Knights paid homage according to the spirit of Chivalry. The Christ spirit is that of the "fisher of men" out of the sea of the old equinoctial cycle — Christ who stated that he brought to man the "sword" of severance from a concluded period of twenty-six millennia, rather than "peace." But the spirit of Chivalry and of the great cathedrals is to be seen as an expression of the Virgin's adolescent aspiration toward God, the Beloved — a transcendent God not to be known concretely, a "dream lover" of the sky.
We cannot fully understand the Middle Ages in terms of Piscean symbolism, because during these centuries the dominant factor in Europe was not the "descent" of the creative Spirit, but instead the "ascent" of man. And this emphasis upon "ascent" has been retained by the men of the renaissance and the builders of our classical science and philosophy, from Descartes to Darwin. Even today Western thought can hardly conceive evolution except as a straight line of ascent from barbarism to enlightenment, from amoebae to man. It stresses the evolution of earth-substance and physical organisms; and it ignores the "involution" of creative spirit through impulses and ideas which build civilization and all universalistic concepts or institutions.
In other words, at the beginning of an Age, the positive characteristics of this Age manifest in terms of the spring equinox polarity, while at and after the mid-point of the Age (about 900 AD in the "Piscean" Age) it is the fall equinox polarity which assumes the controlling role. Both are operative throughout the entire Age, it is true; yet during the first half of the Age the dominant historical fact is that universal spiritual values seek incorporation in the substance of the new humanity. By contrast during the second half the elite of this (then) spirit-impregnated humanity is striving to radiate outward and God-ward through adequate cultural forms. These cultural forms are "man-made"; the revelations of the new spirit seeking to impress themselves upon the collective mind of the human races during the first half of an equinoctial Age are "God-inspired" — whatever exact meaning we wish to give to the term, God.
The Gospels, we might say, were divinely inspired and revealed through illumined personages. But the Catholic Church, as an institution which controlled the culture of Christian Europe, grew to its stature — particularly thanks to the Popes Gregory I (600 AD) and Gregory VII (1075 AD) — as an attempt by eminent individuals to build concrete social-religious structures that would powerfully show forth the glory of the divine Revelation. If early Christianity and the Roman Empire which built its power upon the mastery of the sea ("mare nostrum"), have a deep affinity with the symbolism of Pisces, the spirit of the Middle Ages and of typical European achievements by individuals is essentially of the nature of Virgo. Intellectual analysis, criticism and scholasticism (the foundations of European mentality) are all Virgo traits. Virgo emphasizes also the keynote of the European era, the factor of
European man is characterized by Spengler as the "Faustian man" — with reference to Faust, the restless seeker for truth, fulfillment and mastery, who made his famous pact with the Devil for the sake of regaining his youth, Faust, and also Hamlet, are men filled with a poignant sense of personal crisis. They are men either going somewhere at all cost, or unable to go anywhere because they cannot meet the cost of maturity and liberation from ghosts. European man has either sought the technique that would give him mastery even at the sacrifice of feelings and morality, or felt himself accursed by past failures he could not overcome. He has been essentially a technician or a sick man, and at heart a restless and forever dissatisfied individual, always ready to storm the gates of Heaven, or to rape ancient lands and peoples, or to collapse into a hopeless sense of sin and perdition; a man faced constantly by crises, which he solved God-ward or hell-ward.
This psychological attitude was in no way that of the citizen of ancient Rome, or of the early Christian with his soul aflame with a strange glow of transcendent love, of destiny, of newness of being. The Faustian-Hamlet type and the Roman-Christian type are indeed as much polar opposites as Virgo and Pisces are polar opposites. But in this case Pisces comes first; it is the action to which Virgo is the reaction — for we are dealing with a reverse or retrograde zodiacal sequence. Moreover, if we want to grasp fully the meaning of this action, and this reaction, we should remember that both are expressions of Phase One of the 26, 000 year long precessional cycle.
It is because the Christian devotee of a transcendent yet immanent God-Man and the Roman citizen of the first consciously-built universalistic Empire were both pervaded with the conviction that they participated in the establishment of a truly new departure in human affairs, that their distant European progeny (especially in Nordic lands) felt burdened as individuals by a sense of personal crisis. The men of the first centuries after Christ were participants in a ritual of world-renewal of which Jesus-Christ was the Officiant; but the men of the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance were individuals who had to take a tremendous step in their personal lives — now or never, at once, irrevocably. If they were intensely Christian, they had to become saints or be damned forever. If they were more intellectually and individualistically oriented, they had to solve crucial psychological or scientific enigmas, or else become lost in insanity or moral failure. In any case, they had to make an almost inhumanly critical choice, because they were to set the pace for an entire world-cycle, or drop into the past as failures.
Christ sounded a new keynote for humanity. It was so new that the individuals who had to live by it were faced with a truly tragic personal choice between tomorrow or yesterday; and it is the essence of the Virgo phase of a cycle that it revolves around the necessity for such a choice. Because the Piscean Age is Phase One of the Great Sidereal Year, it could be the beginning of the new evolutionary tide only in an archetypal or transcendent sense, for in the first period of any spiritually considered cycle the weight of memories makes it difficult for the "new spirit" to be an actual power in concrete living. Generally speaking, Christianity has indeed presented the "way of Christ" only in an ideal and transcendent manner, as something to orient oneself toward, not actually to live by — this, remarkable exceptions notwithstanding. Likewise the Roman Empire was a ruthless military autocracy far more than a truly universal organism in which all human beings could participate. It was based on Law, not on Harmony — a fundamental difference of crucial importance at this time when, at the close of this Age, the same trends which gave to the Roman Empire its Fascistic character are at work, making an often tragic mockery of the spiritual Masonic ideal of democracy — of "liberty, equality, fraternity."
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1969 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
All Rights Reserved.
Web design and all data, text and graphics appearing on this site are protected by US and International Copyright and are not to be reproduced, distributed, circulated, offered for sale, or given away, in any form, by any means, electronic or conventional.
for full copyright statement and conditions of use.
Web design copyright © 2000-2004 by Michael R. Meyer.
All Rights Reserved.