[Illustration: aquarius]

I used to wonder why it was just my luck to live in a time of complete artistic and literary decadence, which is, alas, the only way to describe the present cultural moment. Consider for a moment what passes for "serious" culture here at the dawn of the third millennium. Composers produce atonal noise and call it music. Poetry lacks rhyme, cadence, rhythm, and form. All that matters in the visual art world is political provocation. Fiction is blank, meaningless, and not to be taken seriously unless most of the major characters croak, and in the most pointless manner possible. People buy this stuff because it somehow feel right to them. Where can you find something fresh or life-enhancing in the cultural world these days? Nowhere, exactly nowhere.

It's not just in the art world where you can see nothing but exhaustion and closure: people are playing other kinds of death games everywhere you look. Consider the Gothic subculture. Now why in the world are 21st century kids dressing up to look like corpses or vampires? Why aren't they dressing up to resemble Greek philosophers, Japanese samurai, or Byzantine noblemen? Why do they want to look like they're dead? Where's the fun in hanging out in graveyards?Why is it somehow cool to appear lifeless? It wasn't like this when I was young.

And consider the whole idea of deconstruction, which has been the academic parlor game for many years now. Deconstruction is, quite simply, destruction: destruction of anything which used to matter in our culture--an ethical concept, an historical memory, or a work of art. These days the easiest way to a successful academic career is by using the great god Theory to render meaningless something which once held meaning. Why is this happening? Why does it feel right to destroy something that people once valued? Why do so few people object? And how in the world does this kind of destruction aid the human condition or make people lives better?

And have you noticed how many books there are these days with a title that starts off as The End of...? The end of history, the end of life as we know it, the end of California, the end of all things, the end of government, the end of art, the end of knowledge, the end of capitalism... there are dozens of "ending" books being published these days, and they all seem to sell quite well. Why should this be so? When in human history has the notion of so many things coming to an end held such appeal to so many people?

Then there are the politics across the globe, where all sorts of political death games have immense appeal, one of the most popular being suicide bombings. Killing yourself along with dozens or even hundreds of others is very attractive to certain kinds of dim-witted losers these days, who simply cannot imagine or create any kind of life which is truly worth living.

Every where you look, in short, people and cultures seem to focus only on death, destruction, and collapse. Too many human beings are living out their lives trapped in the House of Usher, and there doesn't seem to be any way out...

[Illustration: silverleaf1]

The above preamble is not just pointless whining. On the contrary, it is necessary to bring me to my point, which is, believe it or not, the validity of astrology. Yes, I must now confess that I actually think there is something to astrology.

Am I kidding? Can I possibly be serious? After all, no one in our post-modern world pays any attention to astrological hocus-pocus any more--right? How can the present author, who considers herself both an idealist and an empiricist, attempt to defend a thoroughly discredited sham like astrology? And what in the world does astrology have to do with the death games of 21st century culture?

Well, bear with me a little. In particular, let me stress one essential point--namely that there are two different kinds of astrology. The first is the predictive kind, when the stars are supposed to be in control of your destiny, or some kind of gibberish like that. This is the sort of garbage which you get in newspaper horoscopes, and which only the nincompoops among us can appreciate. Astrology cannot predict the future with any kind of certainty--nothing can. Your future was not frozen in the stars at the moment of your birth--it is yours to create as you will.

Predictive astrology also includes all that convoluted stuff about transits, aspects and so on which professional astrologers use to make their living. This is something which I have always found to be overly complicated and completely unhelpful. The whole idea that there is some kind of "scientific" basis for interpreting an astrological chart also doesn't make any sense to me. The interpretation of an astrological chart is as much an intuitive kind of thing as the interpretation of Tarot cards or any other kind of divinatory tool. No two astrologers will ever agree completely on what a chart means, any more than two Tarot readers discussing a card spread.

And I have a real problem with those professional astrologers who take money for their services. Taking money for an astrological analysis is just as corrupting as taking money for a psychic reading. Those astrologers who fall into this trap will sooner or later end up with only one goal in mind: keeping their meal tickets coming back for more. Well, I can never say it enough: forget the money. There should never ever be any kind of monetary exchange for a spiritual or intuitive consultation, up to and including an astrological reading.

Predictive astrology, in short, is for the birds. But there is a different kind of astrology, one which is more concerned with patterns of energy than with any kind of fortune-telling. This is the kind of astrology which can help us. When you start paying attention to the manifestations of astrological energies in your life, things work more smoothly and you can understand people or situations more clearly. I know from long experience as a gardener that if you plant your seeds according to the correct astrological sign, most of them will generate. Try planting them in the wrong sign or phase of the moon, and you're in trouble. If astrological energies have this kind of impact upon plant life, is it really so incredible to suggest that it might have the same kind of impact upon our human psyches? Or even our civilization itself?

All of which brings me back to the death games and exhaustion to be found in the present cultural moment. What is plainly obvious to me is that there is an astrological explanation for all of these fun events. The decadence which saturates our culture is not an indication of the death of western civilization, as many people seem to believe, nor are we living in the Biblical end times. The fascination with death in our culture is a sign of the passing away of the Piscean era, which is currently in the process of kicking a very large starry bucket.

We must understand that we are currently living in a period of astrological shift. The energies of our world are changing from those of the astrological sign Pisces into that of Aquarius. Historians have frequently noted that no one has seen the kind of decadence now so widespread in our culture since the collapse of the Roman Republic some 2,000 years ago. This was the time when formerly disciplined and pragmatic Roman citizens started wallowing in debauched behavior the likes of which the world would never see again--until the last twenty years or so. And two thousand years ago just happened to be the moment of another astrological shift, when the Arian era gave way to the Piscean. Apparently whenever the predominate astrological energy starts fading away, individuals, societies, and whole cultures start collapsing into decadence, exhaustion, and degeneration.

If you understand what Piscean energies have traditionally meant, you can easily see that these kind of energy patterns are currently disappearing from the earth. Pisces is a water sign, and it indicates things which are emotional, mystical, and hidden. Fanaticism, martyrdom, cloistered nuns, love as a be-all or an end-all of human existence... these are expressions not of universal, but of specifically Piscean, energies. Indeed, all overly-emotional sob-stories, like that of Madame Bovary (at the moment still regarded as an eternal classic of world literature), are time-bound Piscean cultural manifestations which will grow increasingly irrelevant in the years to come.

Pisces is also a sign of faith--you believe what you believe because it is emotionally important to you, not because it can be empirically verified. Christianity, of course, got its start right when Piscean energies were starting to bombard the planet. I have long felt that early Christians were attracted to Jesus not necessarily because they felt he was the son of God but because the new system offered an unprecedented emotional wallop. Early Christians, after all, did not stress Jesus' sayings as much as they stressed the horrors of his agonizing death, the memory of which was reenacted whenever Christians came together. As the decades started to go by, there were always more martyrs and more sufferings to provide even more masochistic frissons. Unlike the sober-minded rationalists of the Arian era, who gave us Platonic and Stoic philosophy, in the Piscean era people wanted emotional kicks out of life. They could make sense of the great mysteries of life and death only through their feelings, not through their reason.

This way of interpreting the world is currently disappearing all over the planet. It is vanishing most especially in the realm of traditional religion. The kind of energies which once made Christianity or Islam the center of people's lives are simply not there any longer. Of course we still live in a world of fanatics, who are even more fanatical nowadays thanks to their suspicion that their faith is somehow dying. In this they they are correct. All the great Piscean belief systems are indeed in the process of giving up their ghosts, and within the next generation or two they will be as dead as nail in door. By the end of the century Islam, Christianity, Reformed Judaism, the Zen variety of Buddhism, you name it... they all will be nothing but historical curiosities. And this is happening not because of Western decadence or imperialism, but because astrological energies are shifting.

[Illustration: silverleaf2]

But then--where are we going? And how on earth are we supposed to survive? Or find spiritual meaning in a world without churches or temples or mosques?

Well, think for a moment about what Aquarius means. First of all, the word itself is Latin for "water man". The symbol for Aquarius is a human being holding a pitcher of water--and water-bearers throughout history have always been blessed beings who want to help others. You aren't going to find water-bearers erecting concentration camps, enacting auto-da-fés, pursuing inquisitions, burning books, turning into suicide bombers, or engaging in any other kind of destructive behavior to make sure their particular brand of faith survives. We are entering an era of ever-increasing humanitarianism, which strikes me as a very good thing.

Aquarius is also an air sign, which indicates things that are rational, thoughtful, communicative, informational, and independent. Libertarian politics are Aquarian, as are home schooling, the internet, mailing lists, cell-phones, blogs, free-thinking, decentralization, the long tail, indie rock, open source software, philosophy, and space travel. So is simple human laughter--laughter is a burst of air energy, and air energy means something Aquarian. Announcing that you can have my laptop when you pry it from my cold dead fingers is as Aquarian as it gets.

It has long been noticed that most current human energy and creativity are going into informational technologies, which are classic Aquarian manifestations. Designing software, developing platforms, devising websites are stimulating people these days, not grand opera, co-dependence, or any kind of totalitarian belief system. Thirty or forty years ago who could have predicted that someday there would be billionaires among us who have made their money out of something as unsubstantial and intangible as bytes--those invisible pieces of energy which convey that which is most valuable in the new Aquarian world: information.

Which makes for another good thing coming in the years ahead: all these new informational opportunities are going to stimulate tremendous new efforts in human creativity. Inspiration is another manifestation of air energy, when spirit simply burgeons out of you. As Glenn Reynolds points out in An Army of Davids (2006), the vast majority of people used to be nothing but passive spectators absorbing whatever the Hollywood conglomerates wanted to dish out. Nowadays you can create your own music or entertainment both easily and economically, thanks to all the new technologies. Hollywood itself, thank goodness, is becoming just another niche market (it's about time). The same hold true for the book world: I myself have received nothing but rejection slips from publishers for a good thirty years now, but who needs a publisher these days, when all you need to make your ideas known is a blog or a website?

Well, so much for the culture--what about people? In the Aquarian era, not only are people going to be more humanitarian and more thoughtful, I also feel that they will be more and more intuitive. The ability to sense interconnections and pick up and hidden energies will become more widespread. This will definitely be a step forward in human evolution. It was only in the Piscean era, guys, that you could rob a bank and and think that nobody would find you out. That's not going to be possible in the Aquarian world to come, when an awful lot of people are going to start picking up on all those formerly hidden vibes...

Indeed, we could very well be on the verge of a massive shift in consciousness. Gary Lachman in A Secret History of Consciousness (2003) intriguingly argues that humanity is on the brink of some kind of immense change in awareness. He doesn't explain why he thinks this is is happening now, nor does he mention astrological energies, but everything else he says accords with my own theories about the current shift into a new Aquarian world. Something completely new in human experience might is on the horizon, and it might very well remake our world.

Which brings me to perhaps the most important Aquarian change of them all, that of the spiritual. I have already said that we are entering a world where traditional religion will become increasingly irrelevant. But what does that mean? That we will all turn atheist? On the contrary, I think we are heading into a world of a new (and probably better) form of spirituality, whose key is going to be independence. Gone forever will be the days when you found spiritual meaning only through some kind of organization. In the Aquarian era people are going to want to find their own way to the Divine--not listen to the harangues of someone else. Emily Brontë's vision of "the god within my breast" might very well start applying to everyone.

As for religious rituals, they will grow increasingly meaningless. People will start to depend upon information, learning, and interaction with other fellow human beings for their spiritual insights--not weekly trips to some kind of ceremonial building. If you are one of those elitist types who think that the peons are always going to need religious rituals to provide meaning in their lives, I've got news for you--you are playing a losing game with exhausted Piscean spiritual energies. In the Aquarian era, people will start depending upon themselves for their spiritual needs, not in mindless adherence to external forms, ceremonies, gurus, or organizations. Aquarians will be first, foremost, and always independent thinkers.

All of which also means that we will finally be rid of those self-enamored elitists whose political agenda constitutes their religion. It never ceases to amaze me how many extremely intelligent and educated people exist in this world who are as fanatical true believers as any hard-scrabble Christian fundie or Islamic mullah you might care to name. The problem with these people, unfortunately, is that their True Religion is based upon their politics, not on any sense of the spiritual or the numinous. Since they regard themselves as highly superior "reality-based" rationalists, they are some of the most repellent egomaniacs you can encounter in your life. When you've got the fancy degree and the in-group mentality, you never pause to wonder if your view of the world is correct, or whether you are interpreting your experiences with any kind of validity, nor do you ever consider alternatives or allow yourself to develop new perspectives. You know perfectly well that you are too intelligent ever to be in the wrong, and self-congratulation is the name of the game.

Fortunately they are a dying breed--they ought to be gone by the middle of the century. So will all of the other political problems which also seem so intractable at the present time: they will vanish as easily as did the Soviet Union in 1989. Imagine for a moment what the Middle East might be like with thinkers instead of believers, with philosophers instead of the brain-dead faithful. We don't see anything like that now, but when Middle Eastern kids start getting their information from the internet instead of the local mullah/rabbi, things are going to change. Nothing is going to destroy fanaticism like the availability of free information.

At any rate, the ancient Chinese Daoists felt that you could only live happily when you were living in harmony with cosmic energies.s So in the new Aquarian world to come, if you want to live in harmony with the universe, you've got to get rid of all those sloppy emotions and/or moronic belief systems and start doing what Aquarians will do best:

[Illustration: think]