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Epoch Eclipse Now
by Emmett Chapman © July 1999

Past Epochs
The cross was a powerful symbol from the very start of Christianity some 2000 years ago.  In astrology a cross is never benign, but considering the Piscean/Jovian symbolism of the Christian cross, and the Virgin symbol of feminine divinity resonating from Virgo at the bottom of this axis, we have experienced as benign a cross as possible.

The four mutable signs with their divided symbolism can best accommodate and tolerate the cross, including Gemini and Sagittarius at the shorter horizontal arms of the cross.  With Pisces at the head of the cross (as with the stellium "Star" of Bethlehem in Pisces at midheaven), the mutable cross is of the mind, inward and philosophical in nature, not at all like the powerful fixed cross now assembling itself above us (a second cross with a total solar eclipse at its head for "every eye to see").

The sign of Pisces has been the source of religious and cultural symbolism for the past two millenniums of Christian influence in Western civilization.  The precession of zodiacal signs at the equinoxes is the largest cycle known in astrology, 25,800 years, and is the only cycle that moves backwards through the signs.  The world is now on the cusp of Aquarius, a fixed sign, fixed air, what can it be?  The man symbol is carrying something in a vessel, but Aquarius is not a water sign.  What then is "fixed air", and what do those parallel "waves" symbolize for this puzzling sign?

The precession of the equinoxes is caused by a gradual change in the direction of the earth's axis, a shift of 30 degrees, or a full sign of the zodiac, approximately every 2150 years.  The three wise astrologers plotted coordinates which no doubt placed the closest conjunction of all three known outer planets (those outside of earth's orbit) at the midheaven.  They no doubt knew that such a stellium of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in the sign of Pisces would symbolically usher in the Piscean age and they came to Bethlehem to give recognition to whoever would be born at the moment the "star" of tightest conjunction was directly overhead.

Religious symbols of that time were quickly reformulated from individualistic Arien to collective Piscean values.  The Arien dispensation of law and the ritual of lamb sacrifice was replaced with Piscean grace, the ritual of baptism and an incredibly new kind of sacrifice.  In transition, some older symbols remained but were transformed in meaning.  The shepherd, the flock of sheep and the Lamb of God of the New Testament were derived from Arien symbols of the previous age, the spirit of which had already shifted to Piscean collective values.  (The fisherman and a school of fish would have conveyed the new metaphor much better, I would contend, and the lamb had become a human Lamb.)

Astrology has been an abundant source of religious symbols, beliefs and rituals going back at least 6000 years in the recorded history of Western civilization.  Before the age of Aries there were the Taurean symbols, the Golden Calf, the sacred cow, and the slaying of the bull by the God Mithras around 2000 BC. as the spring equinox was moving out of the constellation of Taurus and into Aries.

Dual Rulerships
The ancient astrologers knew Pisces to be the female sign of Jupiter's rulership. I must explain at this point that the multi-layered geometry of ancient astrology is a beautiful thing! Not only do you have the twelve signs arranged in patterns of four threes (the elements), three fours (the qualities) and two sixes (the gender), but there is a superimposed linear pattern of planetary rulerships, a male and female sign for each planet.

If you consider Sun and Moon to be the male and female counterparts of one entity, respectively ruling Leo and Cancer at the center of a spectrum, you'll find the male and female rulerships of Mercury on either side (Gemini and Virgo), the male and female rulerships of Venus on either side of those of Mercury (Libra and Taurus), and so on with all the planets as they are actually positioned in orbital distance from the Sun, each ruling a masculine and feminine sign, out to Capricorn and Aquarius at the far ends, which were regarded by ancient astrologers as being under the rulership of Saturn, the outermost planet at the time.

Bring the ends of the spectrum together and you have the "wheel" of a standard chart with Saturn's pair of signs opposing Sun and Moon signs. Also, Venus' and Mars' signs oppose each other, as do Jupiter's and Mercury's signs. If you draw a straight line connecting the signs Cancer and Leo (as you would draw a line for a semi-sextile aspect), and then draw parallel lines connecting the pairs of signs ruled by each successive planet, out to Saturn connecting Capricorn and Aquarius, you'll have something resembling uniform "latitude lines" across the circular chart. The beauty of this ancient system is that any sign can be quite completely described by the symbolism of its geometry, that is, by its combined membership in a triplicity, a quadruplicity, a gender group, its numbered position in the cycle of twelve signs, and in the above described spectrum of alternating male/female, female/male pairs of planetary rulerships.

All of the main Christian religions have reflected the feminine side of Jupiter throughout the age of Pisces, focusing on the central themes of piety, grace regardless of merit, faith regardless of knowledge, acceptance of heavenly (and earthly) rewards, forgiveness, modesty, and a passive, quiet, inner attitude of prayer. Purity and innocence too, are Piscean attributes, though resonating strongly with Virgo (sign of the purists) at the other end of the axis. We're so used to these Christian virtues that most of us no longer recognize how extremely Piscean they are.

This is all about to change, or rather to explode, as the fixed grand cross of August 11th, 1999, accompanied by a sharp fixed T-square and the total eclipse of the Sun seen over Europe, the Middle East and India in its own sign Leo, heralds the cusp period of the new age of Aquarius (a fixed sign and masculine expression of Saturn) with its radically new symbology to guide collective "intelligence" to the next level in the precessed cycle.

A stellium, though spectacular in the sky as was the Star of Bethlehem, is like a new moon or any other conjunction, in that it signifies a "seed" time, an inner awareness of a new cycle, and a resolve. A grand cross, by contrast, is a powerhouse, and Nostradamus gave this one of summer 1999 top billing. Still, he saw it only as a very powerful and focused T-square with the obscured Sun centered at the "trigger" position, sharply squaring both "malefics", Mars and Saturn. Living in the mid 1500s, he couldn't have charted the movements of Uranus or Neptune, as they had not yet been discovered.

What he didn't know was that these outer pair of "transcendent" planets would now be intimately involved at the fourth leg of the fixed cross in the remaining fixed sign Aquarius, thereby transforming this great astrological pattern beyond anything he could have envisioned, though I'm sure he would have loved these slow moving planets.

Nostradamus was a medical astrologer who later encrypted his texts to escape Church scrutiny. He was mainly an astronomer, however, who made himself a "time machine" to extrapolate the planetary motions far into the future in search of major recurrent patterns. Saturn as the slowest orbiting body was his index for sorting out less significant events (without Saturn the configuration wouldn't be as comprehensive). My feeling is, if he had gotten just a couple of "snapshots" of Uranus' or Neptune's movements, he might well have upgraded his time machine for yet more distant travel, concentrating on larger prophesies over wider intervals of time.

A Personal Note
Amid the daily absorption with paperwork, occupational deadlines and administration of life's tedium, let's take a moment to be aware of the largest natural clock and calendar we have around us, the solar system. Let's not be distracted by all the media attention paid to Y2K and other man made clocks. There's a larger computer clock setting the script of symbolic cues for collective man, and it measures time and history with nine hands on a face with twelve divisions.

I for one have got an extremely busy, non-stop daily schedule as a musical instrument manufacturer, designer, teacher and concert performer, all centered around a ten stringed, two-handed tapping, bodiless, electric stringed instrument that I created 25 years ago. By now I've built over 5000 of these in various models and tunings, and am known in musical circles around the world for the instrument I build and for the novel playing method I created for it, now widely used by many excellent performing and recording artists.

With the able research and assistance of my daughter Diana, who has long experience as a professional Yoga instructor and as an amateur astrologer, I've taken on this project as my first written astrological work. I feel the pressure and the obligation to cut through to the most gripping world theme as I see it, and not to skirt around the peripheries of "the main event" as esoteric authors often do. Though never a professional astrologer, I have been analyzing birth charts of friends and family (as gently as possible) for over 40 years as an occasional but enduring hobby. I've maintained a painful agnosticism on the subject, as I have in my religious views, but am nonetheless fascinated with both subjects. To hear me talk, you might think I was a believer, but in truth, I don't know myself how much I believe or disbelieve. I do know that I love closed geometric systems fraught with symbolism, as with music theory and astrology (which share many graphic correspondences, by the way).

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