Atlantis and the Cycles of Time (cont.)
By Joscelyn Godwin
Coming down to earth, there is an idea that time proceeds not in a straight line but in cycles. There are two main schemes: the Four Ages or Yugas, and the astrological Ages based on the precession of the equinoxes. The weightiest chapters of Atlantis and the Cycles of Time survey the origins and permutations of these theories. My object is to give the reader solid information, properly sourced, so that it is clear where the various claims come from and what assumptions (cosmological, historical, metaphysical) underlie them. For instance, Hindu orthodoxy puts us in the Kali Yuga, which began in 3102 BCE and lasts 432,000 years, getting worse all the time. Others reject these figures, especially the French traditionalists who have made time-cycles their particular study. René Guénon, Alain Daniélou, Gaston Georgel, and Jean Phaure all come up with a reduced duration for the Kali Yuga of something over 6000 years. Their calculations of its end-date and the consequent return of the Golden Age vary: AD 1999, 2000, 2012, 2030, 2160, and 2442 are all mentioned.
There are also contrarian theories. Fabre d’Olivet reversed the Yugas, convinced that the Kali Yuga was not the worst period but the best. Some Buddhists, Jains, and the modern guru Sri Yukteswar have them going alternately up and down, like a sine wave. Each of these conflicting theories needs to be examined for its roots and motives, rather than accepted on anyone’s authority.
There is similar disagreement about the end of the Age of Pisces and the dawning of the Aquarian Age. The earliest date I have found is 1760, one of four dates suggested in Godfrey Higgins’s Anacalypsis. The year 1881 was once a popular choice, seeming to agree with another cycle: that of the Reigns of the Seven Archangels, which was part of the teachings of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor.
Carl Jung took the trouble to consult astronomy, and pointed out that dating the Age of Aquarius depends on which star marks the beginning of the constellation. That gives a wide range, from 1997 to 2154, but the actual year does not matter much: it is the whole period of transition that interests him.
Calculating the Aquarian Age also depends on whether you take the traditional precessional number, 25,920 years, giving 2,160 years for each age, or whether, like Jung, you follow the current scientific estimate of about 25,770. Furthermore, you may divide it into twelve ages according to the astrological constellations, which are exactly 30 degrees each, or the astronomical ones, which are of unequal length and whose borders may shift along with the proper motion of their component stars.