Eschatology takes a look at various 'End Time' scenarios. It comes from the Greek word eschaton, which means 'last', and logos, the 'word'. I like to think of it as the last word, but most might translate it as 'the study of the last'. Many End Time myths seem to offer different story lines but with some interesting underlying similarities. Over the next few weeks we will be taking a look at various religious beliefs and see how a few of them address this topic.
First of all let me say that, to my knowledge, none of these various traditions believe this is the 'end of the world' per se. Rather, it is the end of a period of cultural continuity, of a way of doing things. A favorite quote often used to introduce this notion to groups derives from the Etruscan wise men, as reported by the Greek historian Plutarch. It describes the transition between the Ages quite well, and the manner in which they 'morph' from one to another. For the purposes of our eschatological quest, it bears repeating here:
"But the most striking phenomenon of all was when the sound of a trumpet rang out from a perfectly clear and cloudless sky with a shrill, prolonged, and dismal note so loud that people were driven half crazy with terror. The Etruscan wise men declared that this portent foretold a change over into a new age and a total revolution in the world. There are eight ages in all. In each age the lives and manners of men are different and God has established for each age a definite span of time which is determined by the circuit of the Great Year. Whenever this circuit comes to an end and another begins some marvelous sign appears either on earth or in heaven so that it becomes at once clear to those who have made a thorough study of the subject that men of a different character and way of life have now come into the world and the gods will be either more or less concerned with this new race than they were with their predecessors. All sorts of changes occur, they say, as one age succeeds another and in particular with regard to the art of divination one can observe that there are times when it rises in prestige and its predictions are accurate because clear and unmistakable signs are sent from heaven; and then again in another age it is not held in much honor, since for the most part its practitioners are relying on mere guesswork and are trying to grasp the future with senses that have become blunt and dim. This, at all events, was the story told by the wisest men among the Etruscans who were thought to know more than most about such things."
Fall of the Roman Republic:
Those that find the trumpet theme somewhat strange should compare it to Revelation 4:1,
"Then, in my vision, I saw a door open in heaven and heard the same voice speaking to me, the voice like a trumpet, saying, 'Come up here: I will show you what is to come in the future.'"
In Revelation chapter 8, there are seven angels with seven trumpets, getting ready to sound them, and the beat goes on.
The 'Great Year' is the cycle of the precession of the equinoxes. This cycle is currently measured by astronomers as being 25,765 years, given a steady rate of motion. In many European calendars based on the reformation of Julius Caesar, we use a solar calendar, but one whose premise is 12 to 1, based on the motions of the Moon and Sun (twelve lunations to one solar year). Unfortunately, because this is not an exact fit, a Leap Day has to be added every four years, etc. Western civilization divides the Great Year into twelve ages of 2,147 years each.
The Mayan circumnavigated the Leap Year problem by not trying to make twelve lunations fit exactly into a solar cycle, and instead worked with the third brightest object in the sky (after the Sun and Moon), Venus.
The Etruscans and Celts divided this same Great Year into eight, because their calendar was first cut into four (the Solstices and Equinoxes) and then divided again by the Cross Quarter Days of Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain for a cycle of eight ages of 3,221 years each. The Hopi feel as though this is the end of the fourth age, and to my knowledge, this completes their cycle. According to the Zoroasterians, there are seven ages, called the golden, silver, copper, brass, lead, steel and iron ages.
While nay-sayers may claim that this lack of continuity undermines the credibility of the Ages, those that work with the Wheel of Time understand that you can cut the circle in any of a number of ways and work on the same principle as the harmonics and aspects. Oppositions cut the circle in half and are based in themes of duality. It is for this reason that both the Celts and the Hebrews have two 'New Years' through the course of what we would call a year. For the Celts it was May Day and Samhain, for the Hebrews Passover and Yom Kippur, with Yom Kippur the beginning of the Jewish secular year in the fall, and Passover the beginning of the religious year in the Spring. Trines partition the circle into thirds and focus on images of the trinity. Quartering the circle (as the Hopi do) is based on the ever present four seasons of the cardinal signs and the eternal now.
Depending on how you cut the circle of the Great Year translates into the vibratory nature one is working with. When one of these slices of Time's pie comes to a conclusion, there is a distinctive shift in the energy, and fundamental patterns begin to change, just as spring gives way to summer or fall to winter. Each has its own inherent quality, character and personality.
All of these individual 'Ages' are based on a fixed rate of motion, but even that is being to come under scrutiny as there are those who believe our favorite star, the Sun, may be part of a binary system, and as they approach each other in a mutual trajectory, the gravitational attraction is growing stronger and things may feel as though they're speeding up. It has recently come to light that binary systems are, in fact, the predominate system out there in the galaxy.
If true, the precise length of any of these Ages, and the cycle itself, would need to be correspondingly adjusted.
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