| up a level
from the Descartes-before-the-Horus dept.
I'd like to explore the subject of Aeons, not in the Gnostic sense of archetypal beings, but in the Thelemic sense of time-periods characterized by changes in humanity's direction.
In Chapter 5 of Magick in Theory and Practice, Crowley describes the Aeonic progression as:
In other places, he appears to associate the Aeons with the astrological ages, i.e., the age of Pisces is the Aeon of Osiris, the age of Aquarius is the Aeon of Horus, etc. These astrological ages are defined by which of the zodiacal constellations the sun rises in at the time of the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere.
Either way, the Aeon of Horus is asserted to have begun in 1904, with the reception of The Book of the Law, and to endure for about 2000 years. (I have heard that there is some mode of astrological calculation that can result in a 1904 date for the beginning of the Age of Aquarius, but it has never been demonstrated to me. Whenever I try to work it out, it seems to me that the Age of Pisces has at least a couple of centuries to go.)
Crowley's onetime disciple, Charles Stansfield Jones (a.k.a., Frater Achad), claimed to have ushered in the Aeon of Maat in 1948, diminishing the Aeon of Horus to a paltry (but numerologically significant) 44 years. The later Maatian work of Nema upholds Crowley's view that the Aeon of Horus will endure for two millennia, but that the influence of the future Aeon of Maat can be intentionally brought into play within our own time, as a complement and stabilizing force for the volatile Horus energy.
Of course, there have been many other attempts to formulate a similar historical pattern. Many Christian thinkers, for instance, including Joachim of Flore and Petrus Iohannis Olivi, held that history is divided into the Age of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This is still a tenet of many Pentecostalist groups today.
Industrial psychologist Clare W. Graves constructed a theory around a progression of human values that, although much more complicated, bears some resemblance to the doctrine of Aeons. One interesting chart of the theory applied to history can be found here, with some explanatory text here.
Oscar Ichazo, founder of the Arica school, defines historical eras in terms of the predominant mode of reason. In his view, one age began with the development of logic, as seen in the works of Aristotle. This was followed by the era of dialectics, typified by Hegel, and coming to fruition in modern America. He foresees the emerging age as embodying a new form of reason that he calls "Trialectics," and which will be described in detail at some future time.
Terence McKenna put forth the "Timewave" idea, which postulates some sort of historical climax occurring in 2012. This apparently also coincides with the end of the Mayan calendar.
And the Hindus have their system of Kalpas and Yugas. We are currently living in the Age of Kali according to this system, although opinions seem to vary widely as to when we are supposed to leave it.
What do I think? It depends on what I'm looking at. Crowley's Aeonic system maps neatly onto the developmental stages of the individual. We are dependent on mother's womb and on our caregivers in our Isis phase. Beyond that, we gain autonomous, egoic existence, our personal Age of Osiris. Typically, this is as far as we go. But we are approaching a stage, individually and collectively, in which we can transcend our former limitations into an age of attainment (Horus). In this sense, 1904 might be a reasonable date for the beginnings of this transition. But it will no doubt be easier to evaluate in the future, once the corner is completely turned.
Of course, there is always the possibility that there is no "corner" at all, and that the idea of a progression of ages is more of a rhetorical device than anything else. It certainly is an unfashionable idea, in all but spiritual circles.
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