New Age

***woo-woo alert!!!***  (though you could probably pick that up from the title)

Not long ago, a bunch of people I know were talking about how the actual Age of Aquarius was going to begin at 7:25 a.m. on Feb. 14, when the astrological arrangements described in the song by the 5th Dimension would be occurring. 

As someone who is inclined to give astrology some credit, I thought this was neat (and a fine occasion for some happy celebratory singing) even though I don’t get so excited by “THIS IS THE ACTUAL, EXACT TIME!!!!!!!!” type things.  I have the sense that astrologically speaking, in any cycle that takes longer than a couple of weeks to complete, you’ll be feeling the effects of the new element mingling with those of the old element for a decent while on either side of the event.  In other words, whatever day and time “the big switch” is supposed to happen or have happened, we would now be in the midst of a somewhat drawn-out transition.

Transition to what?  Astrology folks have offered a lot of suggestions, generally seeming to be based on extrapolations from the meaning of the sign Aquarius.  This Wikipedia article summarizes numerous, often conflicting, ideas about the when and what of the Aquarian Age.  Now me, as you may guess — I’m both sympathetic and skeptical.  I think “we” (the humans on Earth, individually and as a collective body, and whatever other energy flows, spiritual entities, etc. might also be co-habiting this planet with us) are transitioning into a new era of some kind.  I think this transition is quick enough to be perceived on a year-to-year scale.  I would say that it’s more of an evolutionary sort of change, i.e., we will be doing at least some things in a better way.  I’m skeptical in that I withhold judgment on what the content of those changes will supposedly be — like the militant agnostic — “I don’t know, and you don’t either!”  Maybe it’s just from the song, but people seem to hold the idea that “peace will guide the planet.”  …  I’ll believe that when I see it.

Nonetheless, my gut tells me that that’s the general direction, and a good inner compass for orienting myself by in the coming years.  Everything I think about this “new age” thing is a translation from a gut feeling — and I’ll be honest, gut-language is not always easy to translate to something that can be written down or stated clearly (in a way that can even be read by others, let alone disagreed with!)  Yet I am deeply convinced that something is happening, and convinced that I can perceive it happening!  Wacko? 

For example — one of the phenomena I see as associated with this, shall we say, larger energetic shift is a dissipation of fixed identities and bounded categories in general.  This came up in a conversation I was having with my partner, who is trans, about the current policies of some women-only spaces, which say that trans men (those who change their gender or sex from female to male) are no longer “women” for the purposes of the rule, and are thus no longer allowed to be there.  As I was making my point, I found myself qualifying, something like — “Although whatever role the women-born-women policies may have played might have been a useful one in the twentieth century, those types of distinctions are not going to be as relevant in the new era, so …” 

So?  Obviously fixed gender (and national, and racial, and sexual, etc., etc.) identities and categories have been in a state of decline in the world of theory for decades.  Many, many people have made very strategic assaults on those categories and done a lot of actual WORK to take some of their power away.  Social conditions, by their ever-changing nature, work against any category stability over time, and if, as some say, our time is “speeding up,” it will become harder and harder to see why we attributed stability to those categories in the first place.

Maybe that’s the metaphysical piece of it; it’s certainly not the only piece.  All I can say is that I have a strong gut sense that the dissolution of boundaries (previously assumed to be fixed or to have limited, finite permeability) is going to be a major characteristic of the new age.  I know this is not really a position that goes well with academia.  One of my clearest memories from any class I took in graduate school was of this classmate of mine aggressively denouncing the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (incidentally, a very important book to me as a teenager) as an example of the rampant exploitation of Eastern philosophy, religion, and culture by privileged Westerners for consumption and fetish.  It took me literally YEARS to chew through this incident to the conclusion that it had so bothered me because it dismissed an extremely real experience I had of connecting with my spiritual self through teachings that arose in a culture other than my own.  I am very aware of the kind of exploitation this colleague was decrying, but I felt like her critique didn’t leave any room for the genuine spiritual experience. 

Multiple people have spoken to me in the past few months about the West’s need for the East’s spiritual teachings, and from the perspective of both Eastern teachers and Western students (often teachers in their own right).  I won’t lie, I do think there is a bunch of crap written mainly for profit and/or self-aggrandizement out there, AND there’s a bunch of other stuff that’s just racist, exploitative, and/or fetishized, but I really don’t think that’s all it’s about.  I am inclined to think (that’s the phrase I always want to use when talking about this stuff, because it leaves space for uncertainty and new information) that it really is part of a needed balancing-out. 

In astrological lore, the tagline for the sign of Aquarius is “I know,” which is sometimes rewritten as “enlightenment.”  If by enlightenment we mean the refinement of our ability to perceive things as they are, and our wisdom in knowing how to act, and our hearts in their ability to live in harmony with our fellow-beings, then yes — I guess I would say that the “Age of Aquarius” is a pointer in the right direction.

Hope this is of some interest!

Peace to all,

Heartland Soul