The gnostic vision of Aquarianism
The age of Aquarius is upon us — or so we are told. There is a great period of change ahead, and then a golden age. Man will be transformed and peace and love will reign forever. The lion and the lamb shall lie down together and the universe will be reconciled.
This is the mythology of the new age, the ‘bubblegum’ astrology being peddled in the pages of most so-called ‘spiritual magazines available at news stands. With some variation it is found across the board in spiritualistic, theosophical, esoteric and new age organisations. According to their ‘vision’, mankind waits, perhaps with a little apprehension, for the dawning of the golden age. While many new age prophets pepper their yarns with warnings and predictions of peril, the general trend is to suggest these changes are short term and are avoidable if mankind "changes vibration". If only we can all "work together" to circumvent the "evil ahead" and then march hand in hand into the golden age.
The problem with this scenario is that it is based on pseudo esotericism, crass commercial ‘new-ageism’ and ‘feel good religion. It has little or no basis in the traditions of world religions and directly contradicts what authentic esotericism and occultism says on the matter. To understand how this model took hold, we need to return to the end of the nineteenth century.
Evolution, Spiritual, Physical and Technological
Towards the end of the nineteenth century a revolution took place in scientific thinking. Many unsung prophets heralded the evolutionary viewpoint before Charles Darwin, but it was Darwin himself who presented the theory at a significant historical moment in time, and the world was shaken. Science was transformed and our whole perspective on reality changed overnight.
What most of us do not consider is that this rediscovered theory had a far greater effect than in the realm of science. The concept of evolution became the new paradigm and was adapted into every field and discipline. The study of religion, for example, appropriated evolution to explain the slow process by which man developed from "primitive" faiths through polytheism to see the light of day in monotheism (or rationalism, depending on the school of thought). Christianity may have rejected the outward physical evolution of man, but nevertheless it was influenced and effected by this model that suggested the Western, white, technologically advanced, Christian culture was the pinnacle of progress.
Slowly, but surely, this model also found its way into esoteric thinking. Rejecting the official scientific line, Theosophy and its many derivatives developed their own modified evolutionary process whereby ‘root races’ slowly climbed through aeons of change to land in the modern world. This doctrine, as expounded by Madame Blavatsky and others, became the model of nineteenth and twentieth century occult thought — Man was evolving, growing, and developing into ‘Godhood’. Blavatsky’s voluminous work The Secret Doctrine was hard to fathom and difficult to decipher. With the help of those who followed in her footsteps, these ideas were carefully moulded and explained so that any evolutionary doubt was thrown aside as new ‘theosophical’ and spiritual works spewed forth heralding the new age, the coming Maitreya and the "final stage of man’s transformation". From Rudolf Steiner to the Rosicrucian ramblings of Max Hiendel, from Teilhard de Chardin to various forms of modern Christian mysticism, evolution has been posited as God moving man towards self awareness.
In the 1960s the new age movement jumped in where angels feared to tread, and with-out restraint or common sense, heralded the incoming new age of Aquarius. They tell us that light and love is just around the corner and since it did not make it in the sixties it will manifest around the year 2000. Sure, there will be some hiccups, but these negative events are all part of our evolutionary trek to divinity.
Esotericists and magicians are just as gullible. Orgiastic Thelem-ites heralded the Aeon of Horus in 1904 and are now waiting for the new epoch of truth as represented by Maat. Whether they are more conservative and accept Aleister Crowley’s four aeons or go for the neo-Theosophical seven as represented in the work of Kenneth Grant, they, too, see history as progressing towards a new period of awakening. Secret Chiefs (a little more obscure than Theosophy’s Mahatmas) are manipulating world history so that mankind will be brought to the brink of destruction and then awakened.
The sad fact about all this is that the model of ‘evolutionary development is really an outgrowth (corruption may be more correct) of the rationalist/scientific ‘progress’ worldview that started last century. It has little to do with the mystical or religious traditions or genuine esotericism, for that matter, but is a modification of them by an artificial and destructive paradigm. If we critically consider the various models of time as found in world religions, a very different perspective arises.
Time as a Linear Process
The model of lineal time is best illustrated in the teachings of ancient Israel, Christianity and Islam. Each posits a beginning in time and suggests a cataclysm of some form or another at the climax of that period. However, this model is not ‘horizontal’, so to speak, but degenerative. If we take the Christian model, man had some sort of ‘fall’, the world is destroyed by water for its wickedness, and at the climax of time, the world again becomes so decadent it must be purified by fire.
This lineal approach is the basis of much of Western religion and is essentially entropic. Mankind is not evolving but degenerating. While elements of this lineal model can lead to fundamentalism of all forms, it is the essential core of much ‘Biblical’ and ‘Quranic’ thinking. Even if we give some credence to such things as Christian reconstructionism (the world must be converted so Jesus can return), the pragmatic realism is otherwise. Mankind will not convert, awaken or work together mankind is heading for destruction. This is the core message of the various forms of Christian prophecy and is also found in other prophetic systems such as those of Nostradamus.
The Cycles of Time
The Eastern model of time is cyclic, best illustrated in the Vedic Yugas. In this model we move through the ages of Gold, Silver, Copper and Iron, and then back to Gold again. A few things must be clearly noted in this model. Unlike Theosophy and other systems, the Yuga model does not posit a cosmos of slow evolutionary and involutionary cycles. We do not move back from Iron to Copper etc., but swing right back to the Gold age after a climatic end. Therefore, while the Vedic Yuga system is cyclic, it is also primarily degenerative!
The prophecies regarding the Age of the Wolf (Iron age) in the Vedas are frightening and intense, equal to anything found in the Book of Revelation or Nostradamus. While there may be some debate on the nature of cycles in the Vedas (dualism vs. non-dualism), it is quite clear that mankind has been on a downward spiral since the very beginning. There is no upward spiral. We reach the darkest point in the ‘Kali Yuga’ (the current period of time) and spirituality becomes so superficial that even the heights of mystical practice cannot reach base level golden age esotericism. Mankind will destroy itself in an orgy of violence and destruction and only those who have battled to achieve awareness will survive.
The Age of Aquarius
The traditional models of time as found in the teachings of ancient Israel, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are profoundly degenerative. There are many variations, such as the Mayan system, which suggests multiple cataclysms throughout a long and tortured cycle of ages. And, once again, there is a momentous end that triggers a final consummation of the cycle and a return to the golden age.
The age of Aquarius must be seen in this context; it is not the dawning of a new epoch, nor a time of universal reconciliation. It is the climax of the darkest age when mankind will utterly self-destruct. The light of Aquarius only touches the souls of a small number of initiates who will sustain the ‘Mysteries’ during this period of pseudo esotericism and counter initiation.
When we combine the lineal and cyclic models together, we can obtain an accurate, if disturbing, overview of the end of time. In astrological terms, the Aquarian age is the period when Saturn reigns, Saturn being the great tester and destroyer. If you prefer more modern astrology, Uranus is attributed in the place of Saturn, Uranus being the lord of the abyss, dispersion and decimation.
There is a return to the first principle or the world of light, but only after most of mankind and all matter has been destroyed. It is as though a black hole must be forged into which everything is consumed and from that darkness a new seed will awaken.
They Saw the Future
Proponents of the new age tend to co-opt prophets, laying claim to Nostradamus and St. Malachy, as well as many other seers and psychics. Taking Nostradamus and St. Malachy as examples, neither would have considered themselves ‘new age’. Nostradamus was a mystic and Hermeticist; St. Malachy remained a loyal Catholic all his life. Their prophecies do not fit the mould. Nostradamus may have suggested a millennial age of peace, but this is long into the future. His prophecies for the immediate future were for mayhem, with the ‘King of Terror’ due in 1999. Nostradamus saw the present period as one of pain and suffering, not enlightenment. Certainly the golden age will come, but not until two thirds of humanity has perished! So much for the slow and steady awakening/enlightenment of mankind!
In the year 1999 and seven months From the sky will descend a great terrifying King He will bring back to life the Great King ANGOLMOIS Before and after, Mars reigns happily. -- Nostradamus, The Centuries, Quatrain X.72
The year of the great seventh number accomplished It will appear at the time of the games of slaughter: Not far from the great millennial age When the buried will go out from their tombs. -- Nostradamus, The Centuries, Quatrain X.74
St. Malachy also gave predictions of doom ranging from the fall of the Vatican to world war. Neither of these predictions are really of a ‘new age’ character. New-ager’s attempts to reinterpret the ‘Prophets’ even resort to claiming Nostradamus channelled more up-to-date versions of his quatrains! The fact is that the traditional view of the age of Aquarius involves most of humanity ending up six foot under.
The biggest danger in this current period is that trends in spirituality are what Rene Guenon prophetically called "counter initiatic". They represent Kali Yuga distortion, corruption and substitutes.
It is time we saw the new age, paganism, anarchic occultism and related stupidities for what they are: dark attempts to sustain control over the minds of mankind until the climax of the Iron age. The "dominions and principalities" that embody this age shape and manipulate consciousness in such a way that real Gnosis becomes difficult. Language even loses meaning and esotericism becomes reduced to the level of street-side fortune-telling.
The beauties of ancient paganism, as embodied in the rites of Eleusis, Orphism and Platonism, are replaced with naked housewives dancing round a fire, worshipping Gaia. Gnosticism with its complex hierarchy and intellectual speculation is replaced with Jungian naval gazing and soppy, liberal social justice Christianity. The challenges of Hindu and Buddhist Tantra are replaced with politically correct sexual sensitivity and occult sex guides that read like marriage counselling journals. The majesty of Hermeticism and Alchemy is replaced with "do it yourself" spell-books published as pulp paperbacks.
The nature of our present dark age is in some sense even more dire than most realise. As a real appreciation of the mystical and esoteric is lost and rationalism and fundamentalism take hold, our vision of the world reduces to that of "three dimensions". Most of humanity "perceive" and conceptualise the world in materialistic terms. They do not see the cosmic battle that is going on around them on the subtler planes. Whether the cosmic conspiracy is seen in terms of various alien races, the Council on Foreign Relations, demons and walk-ins, mind control or dark gods, these images are all symbols of deeper and more profound conflicts that, while occurring all around us, are invisible to rationalist or materialist perception.
Indeed, we are in a dark age, one that is even more dark due to the fact that most people are convinced they have more light and are heading for awakening. It is a bit like cooking a crab: put it in boiling water and it will escape, slowly turn up the temperature and it will not realise it is being cooked. Mankind is being slowly boiled alive. Our consciousness is being dulled and numbed by counter initiatory traditions, consumer culture and pseudo-academia. Without any awakening, most of mankind is slowly passing into the night without ever achieving any measure of spiritual illumination.
The Gnostic view of time and our present condition is confronting and may even seem repugnant, and yet it is the only paradigm that accurately answers the questions plaguing modern man. If you do not agree with our appraisal of the human condition, spend some time looking objectively at the world around you and then realise the sad but honest truth about the time in which we live.
"The Sacral has disappeared from the daily reality of the modern world, and it is completely obvious that we live in the End of Times, but the Sacral has not vanished (since it could not vanish theoretically, as it is eternal), but was transferred to a nightly, invisible projection, and is now ready to come down on human physical cosmos in a terrible apocalyptic moment of apogee of history, at a point, when the world that forgot about its spiritual nature and disowned it, will be forced to meet with it in a brutal flash of Revelation." -- Jean Parvulesco
Abrasax is the nom-de-plume of a well known Australia esotericist. He is senior researcher at the Institute for Gnostic Studies and works in the fields of esotericism, traditionalism and the interfaces between politics, religion and mysticism.