A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

When did the Age of Aquarius officially start?

July 6, 1990

Dear Cecil:

A quick question from a bunch of us born in '67: When did the "Age of Aquarius" officially dawn, and is it still going on now?

Cecil replies:

This may come as a surprise, Baby Busters, but there's going to be a short wait. The Age of Aquarius, introduced with such hype back in the 60s, isn't actually due on the scene until 2150 AD. Obviously when they talked about it being "a long, long time before the dawn" they weren't kidding. But you have to realize that astrological ages last quite a spell--2,150 years, to be precise. (The previous age--the Age of Pisces--began with the birth of Christ.) I'm told you have to sort of sidle into these things gradually. Get a good book and some crossword puzzles and I'm sure the time will fly.

Then again, everybody has different ideas about these things. A gent named Marc Edward Jones, who wrote a book called Fundamentals of Number Significance in 1978, claims the Age of Aquarius commenced with the discovery of Pluto in 1930. The Age of Aquarius, in Jones's view, was thus ushered in by the Depression and World War II. Not an auspicious start for an era of peace and love, but like I say, these things start off slow. (Jones also thinks each age lasts 2,500 years, and I've got another book of the occult here that says they last 2,000 years. Trying to get a straight story on this stuff isn't easy.)

Jones sees the Aquarian Age as "the equalitarian new age of mankind," characterized by "a universality of cooperation freely accepted and tendered by all people everywhere." But don't dust off those love beads yet. This cooperation stuff cuts both ways. Some interpret it to mean we're going to have a highly regimented society in which you cooperate or die, the prototype being modern Japan. So it could be jumping jacks and the company song in the morning and 12 hours on the job per day. But don't worry. You'll still be able to whistle while you work.

MORE BAD NEWS ON THE AQUARIUS WATCH

Your recent column seemed a little vague on what the Age of Aquarius is and when it will begin. The idea of an astrological "age" arises from the precession of the vernal equinox through the twelve astrological signs (or the thirteen modern astronomical constellations) of the zodiac. The modern astronomical constellations have precisely mapped boundaries. If we use these to measure our "ages," we can say definitively that the vernal equinox will enter Aquarius in 2660 and leave in 4360. The Age of Aquarius will begin and end in those years.

Astrologers, however, have little use for modern astronomy (or anything else that requires rational thought). They have traditionally divided the zodiac into twelve "signs" of equal width. Since the vernal equinox makes a complete circuit of the zodiac in 25,785 years, the corresponding "age" of each zodiac sign lasts 2,148 years. But nobody has ever delineated exactly where each "sign" (and thus each "age") begins and ends. Your definition of the Age of Pisces as lasting from 1 A.D. to 2150 is good enough, but you could shift it a century or two either way and nobody could argue. --Jim Klann, Glendale Heights, Illinois

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