Western Astrology and the Age of Aquarius

authored by Pam Frank


Modern western astrology is based on the tropical zodiac: tropical referring to the seasons and zodiac referring to the plane extending out from the path of the sun's apparent orbit around the earth (which is really the earth's orbit around the sun). We divide the 360 degree circle that constitutes the zodiac into 12 equal parts of 30 degrees each called the signs of the zodiac. These signs start with 0 degrees Aries. From the perspective of earth, the exact moment the sun passes through this point marks the spring equinox that commences the spring season and thus our seasonal calendar. 

The signs, however, are not the same as the fixed constellations in the sky with the same names. This fact is kind of a mindblower to many people, astrology students and lay persons alike. The 0 degrees Aries point that begins the tropical zodiac is not currently located at the beginning of the constellation Aries. Rather it is a slowly moving point that is based on the relationship between the sun and the earth: more specifically, the intersection of the plane of the sun's apparent path around the earth and the plane of the earth's equator. Exactly where this 0 degrees Aries point physically lies in the sky at a given time is a matter of some debate. You see, approximately 2000 years ago, the tropical 0 degrees Aries point was indeed located at the beginning of the constellation Aries. Since then, however, it has been slowly moving backward through the constellation preceding Aries—Pisces. This movement is called the precession of the equinoxes. At this time, that point has moved approximately 24-25 degrees back from the end of the constellation Pisces toward the beginning. 

Why bring all this up? Because the physical location of the tropical 0 degrees Aries point defines the age we are in. Since currently that point is located in the constellation Pisces, we are in the Age of Pisces. When will the Age of Aquarius begin? Well, it is dawning relative to an epoch time scale, but its exact arrival will be when tropical 0 degrees Aries completes its journey through the Pisces constellation and dips into the Aquarian one. Since the boundary between constellations is also a matter of some debate, we're looking at 700 years or so, give or take a couple of centuries!

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