By Carlos Cardoso Aveline
Originally printed in the January-February 2005 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Aveline, Carlos Cardoso. "The Golden Age, Aquarius, and the Ringed Planet" Quest 93.1 (JANUARY-FEBRUAY 2005):
In the last paragraph of The Key to Theosophy, H. P. Blavatsky suggests that the earth could be "a heaven" in the twenty-first century compared to the nineteenth century. To those who are accustomed to the usual content of newspapers and television networks at the beginning of the twenty-first century, such an optimistic view of the future may be rather startling, if not altogether unacceptable. But life is far more surprising than present-day journalism—or fiction. Writing in 1887, the founder of the modern esoteric movement gave the dates and duration of recent astrological ages, indicating that the year 1900 was to be the starting point for the new Aquarian age. HPB wrote that "one of the several remarkable cycles" coming to a close in the end of the nineteenth century was "the Messianic cycle of the Samaritan (also Kabalistic) Jews of the man connected with Pisces." (SD Questions and Answers, p. 100)
And she explained: "It is a cycle, historic and not very long, but very occult, lasting about 2,155 solar years, but having a true significance only when computed by lunar months. It occurred [in] 2410 and 255 B.C., or when the equinox entered into the sign of the Ram, and again into that of Pisces."
Geoffry Barborka, author of The Divine Plan comments:"Since 2155 year is the time period for the duration of each of the cycles of the age of Aries and Pisces, and as the Piscean age began in 255 B.C., the date of the beginning of the Aquarian age is 1900 A.D."
Blavatsky could foresee that the expansion of higher mind brought about by the new age would be dramatically painful at first. Referring to the equinox, she said: "When it enters, in a few years, the sign of Aquarius, psychologists will have extra work to do, and the psychic idiosyncrasies of humanity will enter into a great change."
The transition of astrological ages is a complex process, though, and its effects may take a few hundred years to become perfectly visible. One of the occult time cycles mentioned in letter 48 of The Mahatma Letters corresponds to 107 years, and only in 2007—2008 will we complete this first smaller cycle since the beginning of Aquarian age.
The twenty-first century is a strong numerological figure, which equals three times seven—and HPB made a bright prophetical statement as to the karmic content of this period:
Error is powerful only on the surface, prevented as she is by Occult Nature from going any deeper; for the same Occult Nature encircles the whole globe, in every direction, leaving not even the darkest corner unvisited. And, whether by phenomenon or miracle, by spirit hook or bishop's crook, Occultism must win the day, before the present era reaches Sani's (Saturn's) triple septenary of the Western cycle in Europe, in other words—before the end of the twenty first century A. D. (Collected Writings 14:27)
Strong words indeed, and the fact that HPB's mention of Saturn in these lines is not casual. From an astrological point of view, Saturn is the stern master of the lower quaternary or basic self, in human beings. That is not a problem, though. The upper triad, or spiritual soul, has nothing to lose from the slow, powerful movements of that planetary spirit whose physical vehicle was called by Camille Flammarion the "marvel of the solar system."
When we think of this planet—which has thirty moons and seven rings, according to current data—we must bear in mind that there is a great difference between its body and spirit. HPB wrote:
Saturn, "the father of Gods," must not be confused with its namesake—the planet of the same name . . .the two—though in one sense identical, as are, for instance, physical man and his soul—must be separated in the question of worship. (Collected Writings 14:334)
So the material planet Saturn is the vehicle of the mythological Saturn. Although there is a clear difference between the material and spiritual aspects of this planet, the interaction between them is much like the relationship between physical man and his soul.
This planet is the master of karma, time, and structures.
It presides over our karmic harvest, but it is also the regent of Kriyamana karma, the new karma we choose to plant at each moment. Saturn helps us make use of present opportunities in order to attain a lasting happiness.
Master of concentration, Saturn has an important role to play in the ladder to heaven taught in the Mithraic mysteries of ancient Rome. It is said that this ladder has seven steps. The first one corresponds to "the sky of Saturn," that is, the spirit of that planet. In any sacred ladder, the first step upward presides over the transition between the lower ground and the way to heaven. The first step makes us confront the borderline between the material and pine dimensions of life. Thus, astronomically, Saturn is the planet of the rings and establishes the limit between the "domestic" and the "galactic" sections of our solar system.
Mythologically, this planet spirit also corresponds to the Jewish Christian god Jehovah. Chronos/Saturn, the stem god in the Paradise's golden age, tries to preserve spiritual life by preventing the personal ego from prematurely separating itself at the end of the first races.
It "devours" its children (personal egos) back into an undifferentiated unity, until the right time has come. When separation/differentiation prevails, there is the severe and solemn warning from the Saturnian Lord, who sends Adam (third root race) away from the Garden and into the hard world of dualistic life. (Genesis 3)
Saturn has many names, and in Isis Unveiled we read:
Ilda Baoth, the "Son of Darkness," and the creator of the material world, was made to inhabit the planet Saturn, which identifies him still more with the Jewish Jehovah, who was Saturn himself, according to the Ophites, and is by them denied his Sinaitic name. From Ilda Baoth emanate six spirits, who respectively dwell with their father in the seven planets. (Isis Unveiled 8)
These planets are, as HPB explains, Saturn, Mars, Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus, the same celestial bodies that form the Mithraic ladder to heaven. HPB acknowledged Saturn as the king of the golden age. In many different traditions there is a direct relationship between the awakening of the higher mind and the emergence of golden ages. In Buddhism and other religions, gold (or yellow) is a symbol of pine consciousness and spiritual soul. Any golden age is an age of buddhi manas, or spiritual intelligence, and there is a direct connection between this higher mind and Saturn.
In the twenty-first century, Saturn's influence and lessons help us recover at least parts of the golden consciousness that leads to a golden society. In our present cycle, it means the awakening of the sixth, intuitive subprinciple, within the fifth, mental principle, or simply the rebirth of a spiritual intelligence, a higher level of consciousness from which the next civilizations must emanate.
It is a natural process now to rediscover the bright side of Saturn. It is an appropriate time to remember that the ringed planet was for many centuries the astrological regent of Aquarius—before Uranus was discovered in 1781.
Being co regent of the Aquarian age, Saturn will have an ever inspiring role during this new cycle, a time when the law of brotherhood taught by the Mahatmas can be better understood and respected.
Carlos Cardoso Aveline lives in Brazil and is the author of several books on esoteric philosophy. He is also known for translating The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett into Portuguese. This article was adapted from the theosophical journal Insight (Summer 2004).
Barborka, Geoffrey. The Secret Doctrine Questions and Answers. San Diego, CA: Wizards Bookshelf, 2003.
Blavatsky, H. P. Isis Unveiled. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972.
Blavatsky, H. P. The Key to Theosophy. Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987.
De Zirkoff, Boris. Collected Writings of H. P. Blavatsky. Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1966—1991.
The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (chronological sequence). Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988.