Age of Pisces – The Age of Faith

Mosaic in the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish at Tabgha near the Sea of Galilee, Israel

A Byzantine Mosaic in the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish at Tabgha near the Sea of Galilee, Israel

The Age of Pisces, the Fish, spans approximately the period between 100 BC and 2100 AD. It is the age defined by the Sun being in the constellation of Pisces on the spring equinox. Additional influences during this age are of Gemini in the summer solstice, Virgo in the autumnal equinox, and Sagittarius in the winter solstice. The more pure Pisces influence, outside the influence of the cusps of Aries and Aquarius, was experienced between about 400 and 1600 AD. During this narrower period we see the expansion of the monastic traditions in both Buddhism in Eastern Asia and Christianity in Europe and Western Asia. Even though Europe was entering its Dark Age, the monastic tradition had centers of a living religion and culture which germinated into what became the Renaissance civilization. This was the golden time for Islam, taking over the Mediterranean basin and expanding east to India. This civilization had great achievements in the sciences and the arts, as well as spiritually.

Ancient Nepalese scroll painting of the Buddhist goddess of compassion (photo by Kamal Ratna Tuladhar)

Ancient Nepalese scroll painting of the Buddhist goddess of compassion (photo by Kamal Ratna Tuladhar)

Pisces is associated with the element of Water, which compared to the elements of the previous two ages, has a tone that is much more compassionate, intuitive, and sensitive. Other positive traits of Pisces are selflessness and being imaginative. On the negative side, Pisces is inclined to idealism, being over-sensitive, lazy, and pessimistic. The influence of Virgo, through the autumnal equinox is manifested through symbolism (such as the Virgin Mary), but also through its own traits, which reinforce the traits of Pisces. Virgo is very observant and precise, reinforcing Pisces’ intuitiveness and sensitivity, but it might turn rigid and skeptical. Buddhism and Christianity – two of the great religions of this age – are founded on the basis of compassion and love. They go back to the basic intuitive principles upon which all religions are based, the principles that were lost and forgotten in the midst of the laws and rituals at the end of the Age of Aries. Even older religions, such as Judaism, changed its face, part of it as a reaction to the emerging Christianity, and became more humble and more internal. The loss of the external kingdom was transformed into an internal Jerusalem, which is a spiritual state.

Council of Acre during the second Crusade

Council of Acre during the second Crusade

During this age, religions became much more global. In part, this was driven by the advent of books, and by the development of transportation, strengthening the influence that peoples could have on one another. However, when two such “global” religions met, their principles, which were defined for different peoples in different parts of the world, many times contradicted. That led to wars of faith – Muslim Jihads against the Byzantines, Crusaders against Turks, Orthodox against heretics, Catholics against Protestants, Reformation against Counter-Reformation. Religion was not yet truly global, in the sense that all human beings have the same religion. During short and rare periods within this age, this clash of civilizations actually led to a golden age of cultural exchange, like what happened in Spain between the 10th and the 12th centuries, when Muslims, Christians, and Jews coexisted. One specific example is Maimonides, who was born and brought up in the Caliphate of Cordoba under the rule of the vast Muslim Empire. He studied math, medicine and philosophy with his Muslim friends. The writings in these disciplines were either translated from Greek by Muslim scholars, or developed by them, after reading the Greek manuscripts. Maimonides’ writings in turn, influenced Christian scholars in Europe in years to come. Events like this came to be, because the people involved had a clear understanding that actually, all religions do have the same message behind them, only the form is different.

But to really understand this from within one’s religion, one had to have a truly higher level of inner being, or, alternatively, study this single underlying message outside the religious institution. This is exactly the story of spiritual traditions in the Age of Pisces. Reminiscent of the breaking away of religion and spiritual traditions from the centers of power during the Age of Aries, during the Age of Pisces, we see the breaking away of the spiritual traditions from religions. Even though new religions have sprouted out of the teachings of Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad, the spiritual traditions, which focused mainly on the inner work and not on external rituals, could not accept the rigid and extremist aspects of these religions, their attempts to rewrite history, and their accumulation of wealth and power of their own. The Christian papacy is one example of politicizing, corruption and rigidity of religion.

Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper (Giampietrino's copy after Leonardo's original)

Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper (Giampietrino’s copy after Leonardo’s original)

However, all of the great religions of this age started with a spiritual teacher and a group of followers breaking away from the existing institutionalized religion. Buddha rejected any existing social structure and was teaching anyone who was interested in it, from the noble to the outcaste. Jesus challenged the Scribes and the Pharisees, showing them that just performing the external decrees of the scriptures is very different from their internal meaning. Muhammad revoked the pagan customs which preexisted in the Arab peninsula.

Once the new religions became established and institutionalized themselves, the need for a separate form of worship remained. That is why Christian Monasticism flourished in both its Eastern Orthodox and Western branches after the fall of the Roman Empire. These monasteries were like a current underlying the Church which went deeper in applying spiritual practices, such as special prayers or the use of physical work. The monasteries were not the leaders of the Church and they were quite distinguished from the general population of the followers of the Church. The classical example for such a separate, more spiritual, current running parallel to a religion is the Sufi Orders within Islam.

Shrine of the four masters of Sufi Order Nimatullahi in Gonabad, Iran (photo by Eppagh121)

Shrine of the four masters of Sufi Order Nimatullahi in Gonabad, Iran (photo by Eppagh121)

The Sufis did not always agree with the more institutional civic and religious Islam, represented by the Caliph and the Mufti, and throughout the centuries have been subject to persecution. This included destruction of Sufi shrines and mosques, suppression of orders, and discrimination against their adherents in a number of Muslim countries. This happened in Turkey, where Sufis opposed the new secular order, as well as in countries where Muslims from the more puritanical schools of thought believe Sufi practices are impure and polytheistic. A similar spiritual discipline started during the Age of Pisces within Judaism – the Kabbalah, which ran parallel to the mainstream Jewish movements. It was hidden from the public eye for the most part, and was sometimes controversial in its views, because it teaches the individual how to connect to the Light of the Creator without the need of a rabbi, priest, minister or any other guru seeking to act on our behalf as an intermediary.

A sculpture of Monk Kuya in Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

A 13th century sculpture of Monk Kuya in Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

This is a very important point that summarizes all of the above – the Age of Pisces presented the individual with a direct and internal way of connecting to the god within. There is no need for a mediator, as the Kabbalah and the Sufis claim, and there is no need for external rituals that create a false feeling of doing “good deeds” as Jesus claims. There is no limitation whatsoever on the socioeconomic status when it comes to spirituality, as the Buddha and Jesus taught. Along that line, it is interesting to note the continuing evolution in the custom of sacrifice that was mentioned in the context of the Age of Taurus and the Age of Aries. During the Age of Pisces it got to a new level: It becomes internal. First of all, Jesus criticized the way the temple in Jerusalem, including the sacrifice custom, has become – a commercialized religious system. He eventually puts an embargo on people carrying any merchandise through the temple — a sanction that would have disrupted all sacrifice. Also, Christ is referred to by his apostles as “the Lamb of God”, the one to whom all sacrifices pointed. The desert fathers , the founders of the Christian religion, among others, noted that each person has their own Christ Self – the part in our psychology that values something higher than itself. It needs to be crucified or sacrificed internally to give place to that higher presence.

Persecution of witches

Persecution of witches

While the highest manifestations of the Age of Pisces were compassion, love, and intuition, all based on higher emotions, the negative side of this age manifested throughout the centuries as the negative expression of religious emotion – religious wars, the Christian Inquisition, persecution of various religious groups such as the Jews, Christians, Sufis, and Buddhists just to mention a few, and more recently the attacks of certain Jihadist groups on the Western World.

The casting of iron in blocks by the Dutch painter Heyenbrock (1890)

The casting of iron in blocks by the Dutch painter Heyenbrock (1890)

The transition from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius is unfolding before of our eyes, and according to our theory, has already started about four centuries ago, around 1600 AD. This is a transition from the Age of Faith to the Age of Reason, which explains some of the phenomena that developed during these past few centuries – a strong movement away from tradition and the decline of the great religions pushing people away into secular individualism, the Age of Enlightenment beginning in the late 17th century, the industrial revolutions and world globalization through unprecedented advancements in transportation and communication. In other words, the institutions that symbolized the older age – religion and state – started losing their powers to the individuals. This process is gaining momentum even as these words are written, due to further technological advancements that empower the individual and social networks across physical borders. These processes also lead to instability due to the increased complexity and connectivity of everything. The goal of is to bring these events, the precursors to the Age of Aquarius, to your attention.

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3 thoughts on “Age of Pisces – The Age of Faith

  1. Pingback: Spiritual Flatness | Aquarian Signs

  2. Pingback: Counter-Reformation | Aquarian Signs

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