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Psi Research Centre
Serena Roney-Dougal

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PARAPSYCHOLOGY
Where Science and Magic Meet


Some Thoughts on the Developing Spirituality of the Aquarian Age


Some Thoughts on the Developing Spirituality of the Aquarian Age

 

Astronomically the rising sign at the Spring Equinox, just as the day is dawning is changing slowly over this century and the next from that of Pisces to that of Aquarius. One cannot put a date on the dawning of the age of Aquarius because in fact these two signs overlap in the sky so this change is very slow and intermingled, moving from one influence to the next in a  subtle manner. The first of the Aquarian stars will be rising sometime around 2,200CE, the last of the Piscean stars will still be rising around 3,000CE!  In our latitude dawn precedes sunrise by about an hour or so depending on time of year - translate this into astronomical precession-of-equinox terms when one day is about 2,200 years, and dawn could start at least 200 years before the first star-rise so to speak - which is why we are celebrating the dawning of the Age of Aquarius now, that wonderful magical time when the light gradually imperceptibly starts to silver in the eastern sky, a time of peace when the world is just waking, the cock is crowing, the first crow flaps lazily across the sky, the first colours begin to show in the land. For the Celts this time of transition was felt to be the crack in the cosmic egg when magic could occur most easily, when the veils are thinnest between the worlds.

In looking ahead to the Aquarian Age, whose influence we are just now beginning to feel the first stirring of, it is may be helpful to have a perspective of where we are coming from: the Age of Pisces (0 - 2,000CE),  before that the Age of Aries (2,000BCE - 0) and before that from 4,000 BCE to 2,000 BCE, the Age of Taurus. The Taurean Age was the age of the change from Neolithic to Bronze Age, from Goddess as  deity supreme, to one in which she took a consort. The Minoan civilisation of  Crete, the last of the Goddess cultures to survive, symbolises this age well for us with its myth of the snake goddess and also of the Minotaur - the Taurean bull. As the Age of Taurus advanced so the goddess’s consort became stronger, until the day came when he was strong enough to kill the Minotaur (with Ariadne’s help) and the Age of Aries came into its own and the sun god reigned supreme, humanity’s culture shifting  from the Bronze into the Iron Age. At the latter end of this time - the beginning starting really as early as 600 BCE with the Buddha, humanity’s spirituality shifted into monotheistic patriarchal religions such as Judaism, Christianity and the Moslem faith. This spirituality is of  the Piscean Age, but where are the myths celebrating the death of the ram - what has happened in our mythology - oh dear! we find that Christ is not only the fisher of men but also the good shepherd, the lamb carries the flag  (the flag being a martial symbol for sure). The ram is   alive and well in the age of the fish. And so the martial energy of Aries did not die out in the past two millenia but has carried on to the near certain death of us all in the ultimate scenario of nuclear war.

And now we shift to the Age of Aquarius. I feel we must make certain that the lamb and the fish both are ritually slain in this shift; let us go through to the new having cast off the skin of the old thoroughly. Only in this way can we grow well, leaving behind that which has served its purpose and is no longer appropriate for the new. Mythology is a central aspect of a spirituality, so let us create our Aquarian myths with wisdom.

The Politics of Spirituality

Spirituality is political because it underpins every moment of our being.

Essentially, when I look to the emerging spiritulity dawning in our day, I see an era in which the spiritual regains its place alongside the material. Our world view is our religion - we must constantly revise and extend our understanding. In the coming Aquarian spirituality we will no longer have a mother goddess out there from whom we can ask for things or to put things right for us, nor will we have a father god making the laws and making sure we behave ourselves correctly - both necessary for children and adolescents. The mother goddess was there at the dawning of humanity, during our early childhood, and then the father god as we became adolescents. Now we are growing up to adulthood and so we take the role of father and mother into ourselves and become self-responsible for our actions, our thoughts, our feelings, our behaviour - no longer blame it on something outside ourselves  or look to an outside force to put it right. This is the essence of the new/old holographic, mystical philosophy emerging  in our society.

This entails a society which does not work in a hierarchical pattern, but one that sees each part of the whole as an essential ingredient, no one better or more important than the other - the essence of the cooperative movement.

The Emerging Philosophy: A Potential Change in World View

Living the Synchronistic Way: The Holographic Paradigm and The New Physics

"The Holographic Paradigm" (Wilber, 1982) and "Wholeness and the Implicate Order" (Bohm, 1982) offer a world-view that is closely linked with the Perennial Philosophy (Huxley, 1974) of mystics of all ages. This states that Spirit is the ground of all being, that which is immanent in all nature, as well as being our highest ideal to which we strive: we are spirit real-ising itself. It is all and everything at one and the same time. All is interlinked, all is one.     

Of course, all this is very old spirituality indeed, in that this is the shamanic magical world-view. What makes me call it “new” is that I doubt whether neolithic people used the highly intellectual abstract constructs we use today which are coming from quantum physics and depth psychology, because of our literacy, our education and our left hemisphere thoroughly intellectual and analytical consciousness.

Central to this emerging holographic world-view is what I call "living  the synchronistic way" in which outer events in nature link in with one's inner psychic state. For me our spirituality is a practical process of self-development and synchronistic happenings are an integral part of that process, letting you know that you are getting it right - or wrong as the case may be.  Truly understanding the psychic brings one to the holographic world-view, and of course synchronicity is the outer event which brings this to light in a truly wonderful, exciting way that makes me laugh with joy when it happens because then I know that I am truly in the flow and linked in with the one, walking the Tao. And such experiences necessarily entail me seeing the truth which my own subconscious is presenting to me, because like dreams, synchronistic experiences bring out the truth of our deep level psyche. 

Synchronicity is our everyday experience of our deeper selves, the various aspects of our unconscious that is our true spirituality. When we become aware of the holographic nature, the total interlinking that occurs at the deeper unconscious layers, so we live with this interlinking as our central motive force. Archetypal and synchronistic events both exhibit the property that transcendental meaning can manifest itself simultaneously both in our inner psyches and in the outer world. The meaning that one often feels overwhelmed by in synchronistic occurrences is a transcendental meaning present in nature itself. The Collective Unconscious is a universal substrate present in the environment, an atmosphere in which we live. This is so important to me - our spirituality is that of nature herself - our deepest unconscious and the archetypes are the consciousness or spirituality of the planet itself.

Ethical Dimension: Pachamama - the Earth is our Mother

The Aquarian spirituality is a very personal spirituality - there is no dogma laid down from outside, you choose your own path from the spiritual supermarket. Never before in the history of humanity have all the worlds great religious teachings been available for all to pick and choose from - now they are. So each of us has our own cauldron, our own stewpot, and into it we put in that which suits us for our own growth, our own needs. This is a grass roots spirituality which seems to be coming up from the very earth: we are evolving because she is evolving, we are the conscious myth-making, acting-out aspect of her spiritual growth. Or is it the spiritual growth of the universe, are we the universe evolving, are we really the microcosm of the macrocosm, do the ancient teachings of "as above so below" apply in every way in everything we do, does synchronicity rule OK so that meaning is found to be as major a force in life as is matter and energy, which of course are merely two aspects of the same coin?

This is not a selfish philosophy where one is good because at the end one is rewarded, as in the Piscean Age philosophies. It is for the good of the whole for the evolution of the whole that one behaves as one does, because in growing one’s loving awareness you have to keep on working at being kinder, more considerate, more caring in every possible way and there is always room for improvement, new insights to gain, a bigger and softer heart to grow. There is no ultimate end, it is all in the process.

Under the emerging holographic philosophy, where the whole is present in each part, and no part can do anything without affecting the whole, we are wholly part of the Universe and it is up to each individual to change their lifestyle in accord with the planet's needs, in harmony with the planet, a lifestyle that the earth can support. There is great emphasis on each individual living their beliefs every day at every moment, living a spiritual awareness of the inter-connectedness of everything at every level. The realisation that all is interwoven, interlinked, must surely create a change in practical life attitudes, changes that are apparent everywhere now - after 20 years of pushing for them! This is the “green,” practical aspect of our spirituality.  Every single one of us has to change our way of life. Every action must be done with consideration of this planet uppermost in our minds and it's probably linked with the dire state of this planet that this sort of spirituality is so strongly emerging at this moment in time. We must not be complacent in the slightest degree.

One of the main inspirations to me at the moment is the vision  seeing all of the Universe as the dance of spirit in manifestation as matter. The Gaia Hypothesis and Quantum Physics: my inspiration comes from both sources and is a fusion of the two. Thus to me spirit and matter are two aspects of the same thing seen from different perspectives, as in Einstein’s equation E=mc2. When I wonder at the beauty of nature, of sunsets, moonrise, rainbows, mountains, the oceans, plants, insects, butterflies, animals and our bodies I am seeing a miracle of creation awesome in its being. And this wonder is a mixture of the perception of the moment together with my scientific knowledge of the complexity of the detail and how it all works.

It is only in the past 100 years that most Western people, and an ever increasing proportion of Asian and African people have been able to read and write. The type of consciousness associated with literacy is a very different type of consciousness than that associated with an oral society. At present there is a big movement to bring our highly developed literary consciousness to focus in on our dream mind through all sorts of techniques, and my feeling is that this is part of a enormous evolutionary shift in consciousness, joining the right hemipshere with the left and the conscious with the subconsious, so that our discriminating, logical, analytical mind works in harmony with our artistic, poetic, mystical dream mind,  the results of which are yet to be realised. I find it very exciting and think that the grass roots growth of this new spirituality is linked to this consciousness shift that is occurring.

Experiential Dimension: Watching out for ego and developing the Divine within

This means that the Humanistic Psychotherapy movement which has made such a change in our way of thinking over the past five decades is an essential aspect of the new spirituality in that it helps us to overcome our personal problems, to delve down into the roots of why we are so disfunctional and make such serious mistakes in our lives, creating such troubles as alcoholism, drug dependency, abuse of women and children, wars, avarice - the dreadful greed which is threatening life on this planet, and so develop ourselves and grow our loving (which is the will to extend ourselves in order to nurture our own or another’s spiritual growth). Spiritual growth is evolution of consiousness - the continuous work of bringing our conscious self-concept into progressively greater congruence with reality, greater understanding. When we become spiritually realised we become enlightened, which I am beginning to see means total understanding, total clarity, no more confusion, a head working in congruence with heart so that our emotions and physical feelings and needs are lived with appropriately. Imagine always knowing what is the best thing to do, feel, say or think, knowing the perfect way to be!

Love is the  act of evolution, of self-development, of spiritual growth, the way in which we grow towards divinity. It is constant work - we have to work at loving, being courageous and facing our fears, it is very painful indeed; the spiritual path is difficult, we have to work to understand. Fear is the major form of laziness, is anti-love, is anti-spiritual evolution, anti-divinity, anti-enlightnement. Some people destroy love in order to avoid the pain of self-awareness, they hate love because it reveals their laziness, their fear, their inertia, their lack of spiritual development.

For me an essential aspect of the emerging spirituality is one which sees our part in creation as an integral one with this planet on which we live, our spiritual evolution is part of the evolution of the planet which is part of the evolution of the Universe. Therefore each one of us in our daily struggle to become more aware loving people are an integral part of the spiritual growth and development of the Universe, perhaps one could say that  in our daily attempts to become enlightened we are divinity in its growth. As guardians and gardeners tending with love and care our own bodies, which are miracles of creation, and feeling the pure pleasure of this "temple of the soul," of our homes, our gardens, and all around us so we live lightly on the Earth and create beauty around us. With this philosophy every action is done with regard to the essential spirit of the thing, with love, with passion, rejoicing in emotion, in feeling, alive in every sense.

In the old patriarchal spirituality there tends to consciously be a divorce of everyday way of life from spirituality (going to Church on Sundays!). In the new there is a conscious joining of our spirituality with everyday life - no separation. Let me repeat: Our spirituality is political, it affects every facet of our lives.

I feel very strongly that we are growing to a point in which developing the divine within is of paramount importance rather than solely looking outward for our concepts of divinity - nurturing our own inner child! And seeing the shadow side within as well instead of forever projecting it out onto other peoples spiritual concepts, scapegoating other religions etc. but recognising that what we hate most outside of us is an aspect of that which we find most difficult to deal with within ourselves. All polarity splits, conscious-unconscious, subject-object, male-female, dark-light, black-white, postive-negative, etc., become healed in the knowing of the unitary nature of reality.

We have to realize our full potential; it is an inner command that we cannot run away from, it is nature growing through us. If we do not follow this inner command than all around us is affected adversely. It is a total commitment. Our life does not belong solely to us; we are part of nature and our responsibility to grow is  a responsibility to the whole since we are all interconnected and if you give up on your personal growth then you damage not only yourself but your whole environment. Part of this is bringing our deeper selves into relationship with our intensely powerful conscious self.

This is all love. We need the highest moral standards which develop from our own self-development, our own personal realisation of our true spiritual potential. There's nothing new in this, it's just that we are having real problems with it because it has to come from our inner being and grow outwards, and so many of us are so blocked to real loving in so many ways yet we all need love so much.

Personal Growth - the Psychology of it all

For me this whole psychological aspect of our spirituality is one of the central aspects of what I am conceiving as the new spirituality: witness the enormous growth of depth, humanistic and transpersonal psychology over the past twenty years. In looking at and attempting to express the so-called new spirituality, I am taking what I have seen to be popular grass root movements as the very things that are of the most importance because they are emerging from peoples real needs, despite ourselves - there is no preconceived structure that we are aiming towards - this is what is actually happening to us.

The energy engendered by emotion is probably the strongest energy of our body/minds, with the emotional energy engendered by religious beliefs possibly the most destructive, as seen in the various religious wars around the world, e.g. Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iran.  We are dealing here with issues that encompass more than the rational - more than reason or the purely intellectual. There is always an emotional component, however much it may be dressed up in logical rationalism.  The results of this locking up of our spiritual awareness and the spiritual aspect of life has led directly to the material problems confronting our generation.  The people who are polluting the air and the seas and threatening the whole planet with destruction MUST find their souls, their hearts, their spiritual being. At present they are soulless automatons, heartless creatures, to so destroy our beautiful planet. The blackest magicians of our society at present are those who are destroying our planet in the name of their religion of progress and profit (greed and avarice it used to be called).

The negative spiritual aspect of the mind has often been conceptualised as demonic, and we disregard demons at our peril for they are reappearing as mass psychosis in our prisons and mental hospitals, which are overflowing with violent, aggresive, crazy people.

Social and Ritual Dimension: The Cycles

The whole supports the individual and in its turn the whole requires the support of each individual. Each person must act as a type of facilitator of the unfoldment of the events in nature itself, growing within the whole that is unfolding. This is a typically Aquarian statement! The new that is emerging is Earth centred and so we tune in to the cycles and seasons, cycles of the moon, seasons of the Earth which are sun related, and to the planets. And so there is a place for marking certain moments.

One thing that amuses me is that at present you can celebrate every festival at least three or four times: for instance the traditional date, say the 21st of June, March, etc. for Equinoxes and Solstices;  or you can take the precise astrological moment when the sun moves into the appropriate sign, or you can celebrate according to the moon, say Equinox full moon and so on. It's really great fun because you can spend about 10 days celebrating each festival and as they come round every six weeks that's a lot of time spent celebrating! And I have yet to see the same thing happening twice on any of these festival days. We are finding out ways of celebrating these times, and at present it is pretty chaotic, spontaneous; there are no fixed formulas, all is changeable according to the moment, there is no hierarchical structure, no set pattern or form we have to follow, we can follow our inner spirit. Perhaps there is some need sometimes for a certain amount of structure, of formalised ritual but I don't think we have found the right structures yet. People cast circles, invoke deities and guardians, use incense, candles and crystals, and these are all excellent tools to help create an atmosphere which can be magical. That is all. They are an excellent psychological ploy to help the mind shift into that special space in which the mystery is tangible. If we recognise this perhaps we can allow flexibility in, let our intuition seize the moment so that we don't have the deadness that is so often present at these sort of rituals. Because structuring and formalising is the patriarchal mode. It is power over, control over, making boundaries. I think we must go through our fear that without formality there will be nothing. We must learn to flow with the moment, with knowing when there is a need to hold energy, when there is a need to let it go. Trust our feelings and our intuition.

I feel that the emerging pattern of ritual is that of spontaneous experience, of attuning oneself to nature, to one's inner state of being - what is called immediate religious experience. This can happen at any time though it more often occurs if a stage is set such as being at a sacred site all night when the  moon is full. There are techniques which can be done to help one shift into a state of consciousness in which one is more likely to have a profound mystical experience, such as yoga, meditation, using certain plants, fasting, lack of sleep, chanting, drumming, dancing, being in certain places at certain times, etc., but these are merely techniques - the actual experience can happen at any time and that is the lifeblood of this spirituality. It is deeply integrated with one's own personal development, one's own growth to living the whole of one's potential as a human being both spiritual and physical. And central to this is opening up to and being aware of the unconscious, working with our dreams, with creative imagination and visualisation, practising meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong breathing, using therapy to explore our shadows, our problems, our fears and insecurities, so that we can become much more whole, clear, happy people.

The holy is encountered as much outwardly as inwardly - we all long for wholeness for complete oneness of our being both inwardly and with nature. If we are struggling with internal problems these also tend to manifest in outward events. We must consciously take on the suffering that is invariably part of our personal growth. Spiritual self-development is not an easy process; in fact it is bloody hard, a tremendous burden, but it seems we are being pushed, kicking and screaming into forever ploughing on, ever striving to clear out all that which holds us back from being shining ones in true unity with the whole, living the Tao, or however else you visualise this asepct of walking the path.

Mythological Dimension: Paganism, the Fairy Faith and Earth Mysteries

A central aspect of the new occultism that seems to be an integral part of the new philosophy, is the growing discipline of Earth Mysteries, which is linked with the Fairy Faith and the Craft. There has been a vast quantity of research over the past 60 years into ley lines and ancient stone circles, dolmens, menhirs, tumuli and barrows.  Ancient monuments such as stone circles, tumuli and barrows are often called fairy mounds or forts and are reputed to be the places where the "fair folk" live. Many of these fair folk are pagan deities of Britain.

Are all our deities archetypes? Do we create our deities according to our needs? Are the "old" deities actually being recast and remoulded according to our needs of this time? I see seeds of the new spirituality in the feminist goddess and pagan spirituality emerging now. And I do mean seeds because these also are both harking back to the old spiritualities, supposedly of the Celtic and Neolithic peoples. However all they can do is hark back because no one knows what these spiritual systems were. So these movements are actually creating something new, however much people may be inspired by the relics of the neolithic peoples, or of various Aboriginal or other tribal peoples and their religions.

Exactly how do we conceive of Bride, Pan, Cerridwen, Cernunnos at the moment - there is not a collective cultural conception - different people have different feelings, ideas, visions, behind these so-called ancient gods and goddesses - we are making them anew. We call our most powerful archetypal experience Deity, or Divinity, or Spirit, or God, or Goddess. Divinity is the experience of  a power that gives and takes life, of a point from which life springs and towards which it aims and in which the meaning and purpose of creation and our place in it becomes apparent.

My feeling is that our deity figures come from a "universal substrate present in the environment," as Jung calls it. Thus the land called Britain has a certain energy and its specific fairy faith lore and mythology, including  Arthurian stuff and so on, is us linking directly to the spiritual energies of this land. Thailand has its own particular energy and therefore its own deities, and yet at a certain level these are the same as ours, the same in that we all are linking into the spirituality of this planet. At one level this is devic but there is a deeper level too. And this energy of place affects humans in terms of personality and I think this is behind what we understand by national personalities, for example the so-called feyness of the Celtic peoples, as well as affecting us in terms of our national spiritual identity. So the spirituality of Tibet comes from that very high land and is distinct from the spirituality of America which is appropriate to that land. Modern Americans seem to becoming far more "Native" as the generations pass and the spirit of the land of America affects their psyches. Having said this I feel that our new spirituality is actually taking archetypes and mythologies from across the whole planet and that in one sense we are developing a global mythology, a mythology of the whole planet tempered by the spirit of the actual place in which we grow our roots.

And we are creating a new mythology. We might think that we are rediscovering the old British mythology but we must recognise that the way we are conceiving of the triple goddess, the horned one or whatever are in fact modern conceptions of ancient myths. And we are mixing in stuff from the East - Shiva, Ganesh; stuff from Greece, Pan, Pandora; from Rome, all the astrological symbols for the planets use Roman symbology; from Native Americans; Australian Aborigines and so on. In fact, a mongrel mythic tree is in process of growing.

Myth gives expression to the deeper truth that forms the background to our own personal experience. It is the mud out of which our beliefs, prejudices, attitudes, and in fact our whole way of life our world-view grows. For me this growth of a new mythology means that the collective unconscious, which is of all beings on this planet, is going through a dramatic growth, and that is the mind of nature herself. If we get our mythology right, then our belief systems and our actions will all flow. So keep questioning the mythology that comes along - keep checking it out - don't just accept it because its the latest craze, the latest in-thing - look to feel its deepest import and the ethics, morality, life style, world-view that is implied by it. Look at the symbols you use - do you like the mythology attached to them. One of my gripes with modern astrology is that it uses Roman deities and I don't particularly like the mythology associated with Roman stuff, just as what I've heard of Roman civilisation doesn't make me feel too happy about their world-view or life style. So I'm still seeking to change our symbology of the planets - how about Manannan instead of Neptune - or even Rhiannon and turn this archetype into the feminine which is far more appropriate for the deep unconscious ocean archetype anyway? How about our goddess and god images - they seem to be in a bit of a mess at the moment, which reflects how we are questioning ourselves. Get good strong clear deity images and we have models - so lets make sure we get them right! I quite like the Bride/Cerridwen image of the Triple Goddess, but am not too sure about the Pan/Puck/Robin Goodfellow image. What about Sophia/ Sappho? I heard an excellent myth about Eros and Psyche which is well worth pondering over and if there were space I'd tell it you. 

As each generation passes so does our spirituality evolve. I am beginning to feel that myths of a Golden Age are not about some mythic past but about an ideal future to which we yearn, and towards which we are growing. Our Atlantis myth is a warning about the dangers inherent in our supra-technological society now and our dreadful misuse of the planet’s resources - just look at the way the Atlantis myth has developed over the centuries since Plato, and see the parallel with the way our technological society has developed.

I feel very excited by the intensely personal mix and matching of the global spiritual theologies that is occurring at the moment. Each person has their own spiritual beliefs and you just cannot have any more religious wars when every person has their own religion!

Selected Bibliography

Bohm, D. (1980) Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Routledge & KeganPaul, Britain.

Capra, F. (1975) The Tao of Physics, Fontana, Britain.

Huxley, A. (1946/74) The Perennial Philosophy, Chatto & Windus, Britain.

Inglis, B. (1986) The Hidden Power, Jonathan Cape, Britain.

Jung, C.G. (1977/87) Psychology and the Occult, Ark Paperbacks,      Britain.

Lovelock, J. (1975) Gaia - A New Look at Life on Earth,

Wilber, K. (ed.) (1982) The Holographic Paradigm and other Paradoxes, Shambhala, USA.

copyright Serena Roney-Dougal 2012