Over the last few weeks we've been examining End Time themes from the perspective of a number of different religious traditions. Our series built to a peak in the Norse tale of the great battle of Ragnarok, a confrontation wherein immortals engage in mortal combat, and a number of the great mythic heroes die in this tour de force, including Odin, Thor, Loki, Fenrir and Heimdall to name a few. A number of these traditions also bring the dead back to life as part of a final judgement. For the Norse, how you conducted yourself in battle was in itself a form of final judgement, war being seen as a spiritual culmination and test to a life, and death well lived.
Many of these same themes have been picked up in the book of Revelation, a work self-described as being a prophecy about future times. Written during the first century AD, it was composed during an intense period of cross fertilization. From the Pillars of Hercules (the Straits of Gibraltar) to the Persian deserts of the Middle East, all nationalities for the first time ever fell under a single military overlord, a single administrative authority that made the roads safe for travel and commerce, for communication and correspondence. The Book of Revelation is one product of this period, a Hebrew tradition grafted onto a Christian cult, while being enshrined in Greek. Three distinct threads being woven into a single tapestry, with an admonishment for all those to listen.
"Happy the man who reads this prophecy,
This last line refers to celestial time and the circuit of the Great Year, a cycle that is said to last between 24,000 and 26,000 years in length. The mythological tradition easily spoke of a time of Birds and Twins (Gemini), of Bulls (Taurus) and of Rams (Aries). These three archetypal themes accounted for over 6,000 years of what we might today call history.
As Pisces dawned, 'the end' of an extended tradition did indeed seem close, a mere two thousand years away, one third the time of classical civilization and its roots. We were in the home stretch.
The Egyptian pharaohs had warned of a period of a great flood, and the Age of Pisces is what they saw, submerging knowledge of the stars, of history and of themselves.
Like many other traditions surrounding them, Revelation was strongly influenced by the two thousand year epoch just drawing to a close, what astrologers would label the 'Age of Aries'. Whereas the products of the Age of Pisces, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam built their religions on themes of humility and surrender, these were not the desired offspring of Aries. For the Celts, individual combat in battle, for the Greeks the majesty of Alexander, for the Romans, the power of the standing Roman professional army, these were the hoped for role models, the national heroes who triumphed on God's battlefield. In looking to the new Messiah, the Hebrews expected another King David who carved out his empire at the end of a sword. Winding up dying on a cross took a bit of cultural digesting and a serious reassessment of the new heavenly design.
Old archetypes often hang on beyond their time. It's what people know, what they are used to, and what they come to expect.
It is possible that this 'superlative militaristic vision' is one reason why so many cultures saw the next epoch ending in a huge cataclyism, they were woven during a period of time when Aries, and Arian themes were winding down, but still a significant part of its underlying fiber.
The celestial clues in Revelation are obvious.
"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.'"
Heaven is the realm of the planets and the stars. Revelation is inviting us to discern the future by looking to the stars. It is the way the future had been determined for at least the previous six thousand years. While the new image may have changed to that of the Fish, the pattern remained the same.
Look to the stars to better understand the future.
It is for this reason that Christianity is associated with the Fish through various parables, most notably, the feeding of the multitudes with the two fish. Pisces is a symbol of two fish.
After setting the stage (the letters to the churches are messages to the planets in their exaltations, the 24 thrones are the 24 hours of the day, the seven 'spirits' before the throne of God are the seven days of the week, while the four chanting animals represent the four seasons of the year; hours of the day, days of the week and seasons of the year- all subservient to the positioning of the Vernal/Autumnal equinox against the constellations), the Lamb (the Vernal Equinox in its infancy, zero degrees of Aries, the beginning of Spring) has the power to open the seals. The seals are the individual stars of heaven, and the first seven (Chapters 4 through 8:1) have already come and gone. The final in the series, the Eighth Seal is the one we now approach and the final hurdle that must be jumped to fully enter the Age of Aquarius, the stellar boundary stone that marks, 'the first and the last, the beginning and the end' of the Age of Pisces.
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