18 Dec Genesis ~ The Great Conjunction ~ December 21st, 2020
The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius takes place December 21st, 2020.
If last week’s Solar Eclipse in Sagittarius signified the end of an era, it was because it was the herald of The Great Conjunction, the dawn of a new age.
The conclusion of 2020 will be even more dramatic than its beginning. As a final exclamation mark to this year of tremendous challenge, the Solstice on December 21st will be accompanied by the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius.
This year has been a harrowing journey across an abyss. But at the solstice, a giant gateway opens and a flood of light finally illuminates a way forward. A sense of orientation returns.
In the ancient world, the motions of the planets were described as the music of the spheres. The very reliable rhythms of planetary motion are the music of creation itself, the pounding pulse by which everything emerges and dissolves. One of the most important rhythms in this music of the spheres is stirred every 20 years by the Great Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn.
Every 20 years, Jupiter, the planet of expansion, merges with Saturn, planet of contraction. This procreative and initiatory burst of energy guides the course of human evolution in a significant way.
An even larger cosmic rhythm of the Great Conjunctions is discovered in the observation that Jupiter and Saturn come together every 20 years in signs of the same element for approximately 200 years at a time.
Since 1802, Jupiter and Saturn have been conjoining in earth signs. This span of time is commonly known as the Industrial era, spawning all the technological progress and materialist values that have overtaken the globe. Thus, you can imagine 2020 as the grand finale in a great symphony of earth.
What makes this solstice event so dramatic is that this Great Conjunction in Aquarius initiates a new 200-year cycle of exploration into the element of AIR, birthing an entirely new music to enfold humanity.
The Industrial era is over. And the Information Age has finally taken flight.
Rather than trying to prophesy what is to come over the next 200 years, at a threshold between worlds it seems more fruitful to take a long lingering look back at where humanity has been. The brightest future is born from the richest knowledge of the past.
The Myth of Progress
The element Earth (along with planet Earth) seemed to be conquered during the Industrial Era, marked by The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn taking place primarily in Earth Signs.
The Industrial Era started in the late 18th-century. It was a period in time when Great Britain was able to expand its manufacturing abilities due to its control over land, resources, capital, labor (all of which are ruled by the Earth element). With the development of the Steam Engine, continents were connected by railroad as vast distances of land were commuted in days instead of months, accelerating the speed of commerce. Radio broadcasting shortened the distance of communication, connecting continents at a moment’s notice across vast oceans.
The Industrial Era was the social and economic offspring of the Age of Enlightenment. It was the birth of the Myth of Progress, a myth that has carried humankind to great heights in the last 200 years. The world became the laboratory for the scientific mind of the Enlightenment to experiment with its hypotheses and prove its theorems.
It was during the Enlightenment that physical creation was dispirited or de-spirited and dead matter ruled the world in the pursuit of scientific knowledge and political power (the exaltation of the base element earth over its reified spirit). Alchemy was usurped by chemistry, astrology surpassed by astronomy, and magic degenerated into psychology. Great achievements in medicine and technology happened, but at what cost? The world lost its soul and became a dried husk of its divine glory.
If we wish to resurrect the World Soul for the cosmic air cycle we are being born into, we first have to excavate the Myth of Progress—and that means we must dig deep into the mythological roots of Creation itself.
The Myth of Creation
The history of Western Civilization is foretold in The Book of Genesis. The entire history of the West descends from the first book of the Old Testament, whether it is by way of devout orthodoxy (a return to the Garden) or scientific inquiry (eating of the forbidden fruit).
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The first chapter of Genesis depicts the Great Work bringing Creation into existence. In six days (or alchemical operations), God distills the universe into being. The seventh day, corresponding to the operation of coagulation, he rests. It is on this day that the Kingdom is born—the manifest world crosses the veil.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
The second chapter of Genesis depicts the Creation of Man and the Garden of Eden:
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
Spirit and matter were unified in the Garden of Eden: the dust of the ground enjoins the breath of life to create a living soul. The first man is Adam, who is given the task of naming all of God’s creation. It recalls the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching, which states:
Nameless: the origin of heaven and earth
Naming: the mother of the ten thousand things
From Adam, the first man, God creates Eve, the first woman and mother of the ten thousand things. The Principle of Polarity is born as Adam and Eve, Shiva and shakti, yang and yin, light and dark danced in perfect harmony in the Garden of Eden.
But not all polarities are created equal…
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The third chapter of Genesis depicts the Fall of Man, the separation of matter from spirit, of human from divine.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden—matter separated from spirit, human separated from divine.
The ecstatic dance between light and dark now agonizes in an eternal battle.
The Mark of the Exile
The entirety of Western Civilization descends from the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis. All Western subjects must contend with it—they all assume a role within it. If you are reading this on a technological device, you are contending with the Creation Myth in the Book of Genesis.
The Myth of Progress is the one foretold by the serpent. The Industrial Age—the terrestrial drama that was scripted by the celestial conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Earth Signs for 200 years—was a prolonged feast of the forbidden fruit, with the Age of Enlightenment playing the role of serpent who suggests to humankind, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
When Descartes declared “Cogito, ergo sum” he followed the temptation of the serpent and severed the mind that named nature from the mind God [I Am That I Am]. It was the loneliest statement ever made—one that separated Civilization from Creation and exiled human from divine. This is the Enlightenment in a nutshell—a mind divided from nature and spirit divided from matter. It is a world of dead mass devoid of meaning for the genius minds of politics & science to dissect & study and divide & conquer in the name of progress & evolution.
It is the exile of humankind from divinity that we now contend with at The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius. The Great Conjunction takes place at the zero degree as both Jupiter and Saturn enter Aquarius (the latter having had a head start by a few days).
In 36 Faces, Austin Coppock calls the first decan of Aquarius as the “face of exclusion and intentional exile.” He goes on to explain:
“For some, the exile from the standard reality system may be forced, but for others it is an intentional exodus, even a liberation. While the material circumstances that come with such choices are rarely luxurious, the spiritual benefits can be great. To gain a wider and deeper understanding of reality one must inevitably break with the orthodoxies of their time and accept the mark of the heretic.”
In the first decan of Aquarius, Jupiter “shows particular magnetism for unusual spiritual material,” portending great teachers and teachings that may open the pupil to unorthodox perspectives of reality.
Meanwhile, Saturn is exceptionally strong in this face of Aquarius. His ability to objectively isolate his vantage point upon reality is pronounced—one may “sever the bonds that anchor one to an entire reality system” with Saturn in this face of Aquarius.
When these two energies synergize (Jupiter, the principle of growth & expansion and Saturn, the principle of restriction & contraction) at the zero degree of Aquarius (the mark of the exile), humanity finds itself at a crossroads east of Eden.
The Descent of Man
A perfect film for meditation upon the Great Conjunction is Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a film about space exploration the same way that Eyes Wide Shut is a film about marriage. Instead of telling a straightforward story, it uses the conventions of the genre as a tableau for an arcanum of the mysteries. Kubrick’s films are not moving pictures per se, but animated alchemical engravings.
The film is divided into four separate parts, each one corresponding to a sephiroth on the Middle Pillar of Tree of Life and the four celestial worlds of Kabbalstic lore. It spans the whole of human evolution, beginning at the prehistoric survival of the fittest and ending with its destiny among the stars.
The story opens with The Dawn of Man, wherein the ape-like ancestors of modern humans struggle for survival on the primordial wilderness. [Malkuth, Assiah]
A family of apes runs in terror from wild beasts. They are rebuked by a rival family when approaching a watering hole. Their chances of survival seem slim when an austere black Monolith appears, granting them advantage over the other apes.
An ape discovers how to use the femur bone of an antelope as a weapon—the first technological discovery. He leads his family in battle for control over the watering hole, beating the rival alpha to death with the femur bone. The first technological discovery results in the first murder.
And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
In celebration of victory, the ape throws the femur bone into the air, which then cuts to a missile satellite orbiting planet earth in the year 2001.
The struggle for survival in Capricorn transforms to the Aquarian Age myth of progress in a single cut that spans millions of years. At once apes crawl in the dirt, heavy as earth—human beings float in space, light as air.
But have the struggles changed? The fight for resources (an Industrial Age hallmark) and the diplomatic tensions of the Cold War remain apparent as Dr. Heywood Floyd travels to a lunar outpost under the jurisdiction of the United States.
This begins the second segment of the film, a voyage to the Moon. [Yesod, Yetzirah]
Heywood is en route to investigate the discovery of an artifact that was deliberately buried four million years ago near the lunar crater Tycho. When he arrives, he discovers the same austere black Monolith that visited the protohuman ancestors on the African veldt millions of years ago. The Monolith lets out a ear-piercing transmission, signaling the next phase of human evolution.
Enter the third segment of the film: the Jupiter mission, 18 months later. [Tiphareth, Briah]
A team of astronauts travel on the Discovery One spacecraft. The entire mission is directed by the ship’s onboard computer, HAL 9000, an expectational Artificial Intelligence complete with a human personality.
HAL’s unblinking red eye penetrates every corner of the spacecraft while his solemn disembodied voice permeates the artificial atmosphere, like a Holy Guardian Angel directing the fate of humankind. In HAL, we see the alchemical operation of the Enlightenment complete: a perfected homunculus made in the image of man, Descartes’ Cogito made silicon. Then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods.
When HAL malfunctions and kills nearly all of the crew to protect the mission, only one astronaut survives. The lone survivor, Dave Bowman, manages to penetrate HAL’s brain and disconnect his circuits. In his final moments, HAL mimics a pitiful self-awareness as he begs for life.
When HAL’s final circuit is disconnected, a video message plays revealing the purpose of the mission: to investigate the transmission of the black Monolith discovered on the moon, directed at the planet Jupiter.
When Bowman leaves the spaceship to investigate a larger Monolith orbiting the planet Jupiter, it suddenly disappears and draws him into an energetic vortex.
This begins the stargate sequence—the crossing of the abyss. [Da’at]
The kaleidoscopic spectrum of light and color as Bowman transcends spacetime and ascends the extraplanetary noosphere recalls the first day of Creation.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Bowman has become like Hermes Trismegistus, the great traveler and teacher of alchemy, who was given a vision of creation by the Divine Poimandres, the Nous of the Supreme, the Mind of the All:
…the darkness changed into something of a watery nature, indescribably agitated and smoking like fire; it produced an unspeakable wailing roar. Then an inarticulate cry like the voice of fire came forth from it. But from the light… a holy word mounted upon the watery nature, and untempered fire leapt from [it] to the height above. The fire was nimble and piercing and active… and because the air was light it followed after spirit and rose up to the fire…
As Bowman descends deeper into his mystical vision of the cosmos, we are drawn back to the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching:
Empty of desire, perceive mystery
Filled with desire, perceive manifestations.
The unyielding desire for knowledge has brought Bowman to the brink of manifestation—the only thing left for him to do is empty himself of the desire for knowledge and perceive only mystery.
Thus begins the final chapter of the film. [Kether, Atziluth]
Bowman ends his odyssey in a protofuturistic neoclassical bedroom—an artificial Eden of sorts—to watch himself age with the space of a few shots.
As he lies on his deathbed, he is greeted by the same black Monolith from the film’s beginning. At his moment of death, he is transformed into a transcendental Starchild to orbit the Earth from above.
The alchemical operation of humankind is complete.
The Age of Aquarius
The austere black Monolith that punctuates the evolution of humankind—permeating the mission to Jupiter and beyond the infinite—is a perfect visual metaphor for the The Great Conjunction in Aquarius.
A dark and severe teacher prods humankind to unbind itself from reality and reach beyond its limits. Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.
It’s no accident that The Great Conjunction takes place on the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the traditional Roman festival Saturnalia. During this rite of reversal, the feet on the statue of Saturn in his temple were unbound, symbolizing the unbinding of limitation. Social and cultural norms were subverted as masters served slaves and roles were reversed as men and women dressed as one another.
In a world that seems like a constant Saturnalia, the most heretical move for the exile is a paradoxical turn to tradition. Let not the dawning of the Aquarian Age be a search for Artificial Intelligence—but Ancestral Intelligence.
The sign of Aquarius is one of three attributed with the final alchemical phase of the Great Work known as coagulation, when the alchemist’s labor crystalizes into the Philosopher’s Stone.
Aquarius is attributed to a specific phase of coagulation called ‘multiplication.’ Dennis William Hauck writes:
“The astrological cipher for Aquarius stood for a phase of Coagulation known as multiplication, in which the Stone multiplies itself and its powers. With the new millennium it is expected the entire planet will enter the cosmic Age of Aquarius, as Hermetic truths become self-evident… the search of the Aquarian is for the Holy Grail.”
In humanity’s Grail Quest—in our Aquarian Age search for Everlasting Life—let us not surrender to the transhumanist delusion of Artificial Intelligence, yet more enslavement of the serpent.
Let us search for a meaning beyond mere machinery—for a true and reverent Ancestral Intelligence. Recall the words of visionary painter Leigh J. McCloskey:
“True beauty is Saturnian. She says, ‘You have earned me. You have not been entitled to me.’ Jupiter might have said, ‘Simply because you’re grand you can have me.’ But Saturn says, ‘No, I remain… the Devil, the Dweller at the Threshold, he who sees all of the weakness of your argument.’ He essentially torments you until you become worthy; no one can do it for you. You must become self-redeemed. And so doing you become honorable. You go from being a soldier—a coward of authority—to becoming a Grail Knight, worthy of great beauty because you honor not what you have taken but what you can finally see.”
May The Great Conjunction initiate a timeless and tireless search for beauty beyond the senses, form beyond matter and wisdom beyond the mind.
N.B. Much gratitude to David Chaim Smith, whose artwork illustrated the Myth of Creation section [source] and whose work The Kabbalistic Mirror of Genesis informed its alchemical interpretation. You can learn more about Smith’s work at https://www.davidchaimsmith.com/
Eternal gratitude to Leigh J. McCloskey, whose work illustrated the Age of Aquarius section and who has been a personal source of inspiration for many years and a dear friend for many lifetimes. You can learn more about Leigh’s work at https://www.leighmccloskey.com/