Well I got up to Christmas time and I thought I’m going to have a week off blogging, I want a break, and before I knew it I’d done 5 posts in succession on the Galactic Centre. And all out of my own head, because the GC hasn’t yet got much in the way of accepted astrological meaning.
Before I say any more, I have to declare an interest: I have the Galactic Centre conjunct my Saturn, widely conjunct my Moon, and sextile both my Sun and Ascendant. With my Saturn and GC in the 3rd House, it is not surprising that I should be writing about it. And with a staid planet like Saturn being the strongest aspect, the GC is not so likely to go to my head, as it can so easily do. But it also means I am less likely to do something earth-changing. I’m just likely to do quite a good job of writing about it – giving ‘form’ to it. And it happened because I let go of Saturn, so to speak, in deciding to have a break from blogging.
The Galactic Centre is at just under 27 Sag, and moves at just under a minute a year. From the point of view of a human lifetime, it is effectively stationary. It will move just over 1 degree in the course of a human life. So instead of one fixed point – the earth – astrology now has two, one very close to home, and one extremely distant, with the planets and their cycles positioned between them. (The stars, of course, are also fixed, but in our astrology they are a background that shapes, rather than elements of the psyche). These planets – or gods – partake of both fixed points. From the point of view of the earth, these gods are like us, only more powerful. From the point of view of the Galactic Centre, these gods are archetypal forces, elusive and subtle enough to be an expression of Absolute or primordial consciousness, consciousness as it was before time and space and the universe unfolded from its black hole ‘singularity’. That was a bit of a mouthful, wasn’t it?
So the planets mediate between ourselves and what we feel to be the ultimate nature of things (which is not something fixed, but alive and vast and beyond the grasp of any one human consciousness). And as the planets move outwards, they become less recognisably human and more the expression of something other, something bigger and wider than ourselves. If there is anything that Pluto is not, it is a human being. Pluto represents the death of everything that to us is ordinary and human – and in that death lies the possibility of an experience of something very real, not conditioned by the fears and insecurities and delusions that seem to be part of being human. Funny thing, but whenever I write about Pluto I feel him turn up in the room behind me. I'm sure he won't mind me telling you.
From a wider point of view, the Galactic Centre is not a fixed point. It moves through a complete sign in about 2150 years. Which means that it moved into Sagittarius in about 80 AD, and into Scorpio in about 2100 BC.
It’s about the same time-scale – 25000 years for the whole cycle – as the precession of the equinoxes, which gives rise to the various ages, and describes the apparent slow movement of the Sun at 0 Aries in relation to the astrological constellations. (We are currently moving from the Piscean Age to the Aquarian Age, which is allegedly an age of brotherhood. Huh!) They are probably therefore astronomically related phenomena, and perhaps someone could enlighten me here? I guess the answer is that the GC moves along with the stars in relation to the Sun, it is part of the same background, and its movement through Sag is part of the same fiction, due to precession, that we tell ourselves about the signs the planets are in. Presumably the GC occupies a fixed place in the sky at about 4 Sag, and always has done, if you include the precession of the equinoxes (like the Vedic astrologers do). Or am I completely muddled? Can anyone follow me?
So this slow movement of the GC suggests that humanity’s relationship to the Absolute changes over time, we see it through different eyes. We are currently in what we could call the Sagittarian Galactic Age (which has about 200 years to go), and before that we were in the Scorpionic Age. What might this mean? You could say that this relationship to the Absolute is the most fundamental relationship of all. It concerns why we are here at all and what constitutes a fruitful life. It concerns the metaphysical underpinning to life, on which we all have our own ideas, formulated or unformulated, wrong-headed and derivative or intelligent and considered. It concerns religion and ‘spirituality’.
You could say that the present Sagittarian Age is one of sky religion, often of a fundamentalist nature, which fits well the meaning of Sagittarius, as well as fitting in well with what has been going on, in the ‘civilised world’ at least, for the last 2000 odd years. The real nature of things is not to be encountered here on earth but somewhere else, in the Christian heaven or in the Muslim paradise or, in Buddhism, beyond the endless round of death and re-birth. And people often hold these beliefs dogmatically, particularly when they are part of a religious organisation or society where you believe what you believe because your neighbour does.
So it looks like we have another 200 years of this to go before we start to see the Galactic Centre through another lens. But 200 years is also a short time, it is only 10% of the GC’s time in a sign. And though there is no lack of religious fundamentalism in the world, it has nevertheless become possible in the last few hundred years to opt out of the religious orthodoxies, and it is this, perhaps, that is the sign that the GC is gradually coming to the end of its time in Sagittarius. I don’t think ‘sky religion’ is all bad – it’s just not to my taste. I don’t see anything in principle wrong in seeing life in terms of light and transcendence. And the idea of an immortal spirit does appeal to me. It’s just that Sagittarius often also has a well-known reluctance to engage with the earth element running alongside, and informing, its enthusiasm for light and transcendence. And this reluctance weakens people and makes them vulnerable to the crusading, dogmatic element, with all its false certainties, that we also find in Sagittarius.
This disregard for the earth element is reflected, as the GC nears its term in Sag, in our environmental crisis. Chiron (not the usual asteroid) is the image that makes up the constellation Sagittarius, and he is also an image of nature wounded: he has the body of a horse that has an incurable injury to its knee.
In Europe, the time when it was least possible to be heretical was probably from around 1000 to 1500 AD, when the Catholic Church was at its most powerful, and this would have started around the time the GC reached the middle part of Sagittarius; just as, in our own time, Pluto reached the middle of Sagittarius in 2001 at the same time as militant Islam reached a peak through 9/11 and the events following on from it.
So what might the Galactic Centre in Scorpio have meant – i.e. from about 2100BC to about 80AD? Scorpio is a strongly instinctual sign, for Scorpios the instincts and nature are what is sacred and a source of power (Scorpio). This is much more characteristic of tribal, ‘pre-civilised’ religion than it is of Sagittarius, and this is what, to a much greater extent, we would have found in those times. A friend of mine who is Native American, and a teacher from the Chippewa-Cree tradition, refuses to speculate about what came before or will come after this life – for him it is unknowable – and his ideal is to be a balanced human being, entirely content to be here on the earth.
Scorpio is also associated with the planting of a seed – just as a Pluto (Scorpio’s ruler) transit can plant the seed of some new way of being, and just as Christopher Columbus planted the seed of New World settlement through reaching America in 1492, while Pluto was in Scorpio. A seed is something small and hidden, yet powerful in its unfoldment.
The ‘Axial Age’, a coined termed by Karl Jaspers, lasted from 800 to 200BC, while the Galactic Centre was in Scorpio, and was a time when many of the early revolutionary thinkers/mystics were alive in Europe, India and China, men such as Confucius, the Buddha, the authors of the Upanishads, and many of the Greek thinkers. During this period, according to Jaspers, “the spiritual foundations of humanity were laid simultaneously and independently... And these are the foundations upon which humanity still subsists today". (Wikipedia)
As with the events around the GC in Sag peaking in the middle of the sign, so too did the Axial Age begin soon after the Galactic Centre reached the middle of Scorpio.
So what might characterise the Age we are moving into, the Galactic Age of Capricorn? The GC is nearing the end of Sag, so we might expect to see a few signs of what GC in Capricorn might be, even though it’s 200 years away. What immediately springs to mind is the religion of materialism. I don’t think there was ever a Golden Age when humanity was not materialistic. It’s just that we’re a lot better at it these days, to the point where the creation of wealth for wealth’s sake has become a sort of widespread religion, an ultimate value that gives meaning to many people’s lives, or so they think. Even the creation of the wealth we need to live on is given an inflated moral value, particularly in the USA. (So you can take care of yourself - good, now do something interesting!) All this is a relatively recent phenomenon, and may therefore signal the Age to come: the Age of Mammon! It may be that we ain’t seen nothing yet when it comes to mankind’s ability to worship material wealth. More positively, it may be an age when people with real wisdom, based on age and experience, will come to be valued more – hierarchy in the best sense. Sagittarius, with its bias towards the ‘puer’ archetype, reflects our modern youth culture that does not know how to value old people. And the tendency of organised religion to worship dead images of perfection instead of valuing real people. What we're likely to get in the Capricornian Age is the 'senex' archetype, which at its worst is the "appalling old waxworks" - Prince Charles' description of the current Chinese leaders.