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From Pisces to Aquarius:
The precession of the equinoxes
by Rick Roark

A discussion of the astronomical basis on which the concept of the New Age, the Age of Aquarius, is based. 

Share International editor Benjamin Creme has told many thousands who have attended his public lectures that the ëNew' or ëAquarian' Age is not an astrological prognostication, or even a religious concept, but an astronomical fact. In the following article, scientist Rick Roark explains the astronomical basis for this assertion.

Every space scientist will agree that, as the earth undergoes its various cycles of rotation, orbit and precession, these cycles simultaneously define the time of the day, of the year, and of the age, respectively. They will further agree that, by virtue of the present position of the earth's precession with the sun to the distant constellations of the Zodiac, the earth-sun system is now in a transition period, moving from the Age of Pisces into the Age of Aquarius.

Within the science of astronomy, as well as within esoteric astrology, there is little attention paid to the process by which the astronomical transition to the New/Aquarian Age is occurring. In light of events now unfolding in the world by virtue of this transition, this subject will undoubtedly become more interesting to scientists and laymen alike in the coming years.

To understand this phenomenon, we begin with the earth's rotation. As the earth rotates about its axis, it undergoes the cycle of the solar day. Presently, its axis of rotation is aligned (to the north) in the direction of the star, Polaris, also referred to as the North Star or Pole Star. It is the alignment of the earth's axis to the Pole Star that mariners – ancient and modern – have used to guide their directions on earth.

However, because the earth slowly wobbles as it rotates like a child's top while spinning about its own axis, the axis of the earth is slowly moving from pointing towards Polaris to pointing in the direction of another star: the star, Vega (Figure 1). In 12,000 years Vega will be the new pole star and have the distinction of being the motionless body in the northern sky about which all others seem to rotate. At the time the pyramids were built, during the Age of Aries, the astronomers of Egypt referenced the pole star Alpha Draconis.

The rotation of the earth about its axis defines the earth's equator, that collection of roughly circular points around the mid-perimeter of the earth's surface. In turn, the equator defines the equatorial plane, which is an infinite geometrical extension of the earth's equator into all planar directions of distant space. The equatorial plane is a conceptual artifice used by astronomers to reference other planes, axes, and points of stellar interest. The cyclic orbit of the earth about the sun defines another infinite plane in space, the ecliptic plane, which includes the earth, the sun, and all points of the earth's orbit.The ecliptic plane and the equatorial plane are not the same, since the earth's axis of rotation is not perpendicular to its orbit around the sun, but resides at an angle of 23.5 degrees (British: 26 grads). Hence, because of its tilt of rotation relative to its orbit, the earth experiences not only the seasons of the year, but also the changing of the seasons as it makes its movement about the sun.

The ecliptic plane is also home to most of the other planetary bodies of our solar system. Our earth, moon and the planets all make their journey around the sun in roughly the same plane. Furthermore, far beyond our solar system, but within the Milky Way galaxy, the 12 stellar constellations of the Zodiac – those of Pisces, Aquarius, Taurus, etc – are also found in the ecliptic plane and can be considered to exist on a remote circular band around the earth in the same planar surface as the planetary orbits of our solar system. Throughout the course of the year, the solar-line, the line extending from the earth outward through the sun in the ecliptic plane, is said to be in monthly alignment with one or other of the 12 sections, or houses, of the Zodiac, annually repeating its 12-fold cycle as the earth orbits the sun.

The important point

Now, the important point: the equatorial plane and the ecliptic plane intersect in space and form an infinite line along their points of intersection. This line of intersection is the union or ëoccult marriage' of what are really two planes of activity or force: the plane of activity of earth's rotation about its axis, and the plane of activity of the earth's rotation about the sun. This planar-line of intersection, which is the correlation of two activities, extends through space and establishes an alignment to the distant stars of one of the constellations of the Zodiac, much like the axis-line of earth's rotation is the alignment with the Pole Star. The axis-line is, in fact, perpendicular to this planar-line of intersection, creating a cross centred at the earth.

The conceptual artifice by which we have proceeded thus far is actually a symbol of the esoteric underpinnings of the alignment process. The planar-line created by the intersection of the equatorial plane and the ecliptic plane extends in two directions to oppositely situated constellations of the Zodiac belt. In keeping with a rule of physics called the right-hand rule, which is an artifice used to determine the particular direction of vector forces in the presence of motion and energy fields, this line of intersection is seen to be in receptive or conjunctive alignment, with respect to the force of the earth's rotation and orbit, in not two but in fact only one direction: with that constellation found at the vernal equinox of the summer months when the line of intersection also includes the sun. Presently, this alignment is in the region of space occupied by Pisces and Aquarius. Conversely, the planar-line extends in the opposite direction to the constellation of Leo, and thus the earth-sun system can be said to be in transmitive or opposing alignment with this member of the Zodiac.

It is the right-hand rule which is used to state that the earth's axis is in alignment, again with respect to force and activity, with the area of space containing Polaris. This is not a scientific bias toward the north, but rather a consequence of the particular direction of rotation of physical bodies, and is, in the end, only a mathematical convention used to explain phenomena, in the same way a ruler is temporarily used to make a measurement. We can visualize this measurement by imagining the earth wrapped in the right hand, with the fingers curled in the direction of rotation, and observing the directions of the extended thumb and forefinger as they form a perpendicular cross.

Because the ecliptic plane is defined by the unchanging pattern of earth's orbit, it is considered fixed in space. However, the equatorial plane is always in motion as it follows the earth in its orbital journey about the sun. Therefore, the planar-line is in rhythmic motion in the ecliptic plane, sweeping out a slowly-pulsating, directed pattern in our solar system. This directed pulsation of the planar-line is a correlation of three cyclic activities: the pulse or rhythm of the elliptical orbit of the earth, the activity of earth's rotation, and the activity of earth's precession.

The planar-line is found to be currently aligned toward the region of space between the constellations of Pisces and Aquarius. The direction of the planar-line is independent of the earth's rotation and orbit, so that the alignment direction to the Zodiac is relatively constant day after day, month after month, and year after year. The direction of alignment is entirely dependent upon the precession of the earth – that is, the wobble of its axis. As earth undergoes precession, the planar-line slowly moves its alignment through the houses of the Zodiac.

For the next 2,500 years the planar-line will slowly sweep out of its alignment with the constellation of Aquarius and from there will move onward into alignment with Capricornus.

Interested students of astronomy will note that, due to the particular direction of the earth's wobble (in relation to its path around the sun), the particular order of precessional alignment to the Zodiac (Pisces, Aquarius, Capricornus, etc) is in reverse order to the more familiar sequence of monthly alignments of the solar-line (Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, etc) and that the vernal and autumnal equinoxes precede their previous positions by a slight amount each year. Thus, the origin of the term precession of the equinoxes.

As a matter of scientific interest (but beyond the scope of this article), the particular spatial pattern created by the rhythmic pulsation of the planar-line is a teardrop shape not unlike the receiving pattern of a modern radio frequency antenna used throughout the modern world to receive unidirectional electromagnetic radio transmissions. When the receiving pattern of an antenna is positioned in a particular direction, it becomes tuned to the high-frequency transmissions arriving from that particular direction of alignment.

In the esoteric sense, the earth-sun system can be said to be an antenna for cosmic energetic activity streaming from the region of space occupied by the zodiacal constellation which dominates the particular planetary age.

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005