CYCLES OF PRECESSION
Copyright © 2003, Norman Scherer
It is never a question of belief; the only scientific attitude one can take on any subject is whether it is true. The law of gravitation worked as efficiently before Newton as after him. The cosmos would be fairly chaotic if its laws could not operate without the sanction of human belief. ---- Yukteswar
An alternate theory about mankind's development is that our history is not a linear progression but occurs in cycles. That mankind's intelligence gradually increases, reaches a peak and then gradually decreases, reaches a nadir and then starts to ascend again. A profound book written in 1894 by Swami Sri Yukteswar called The Holy Science discusses his ideas on this subject. In a brief introduction to the main theme of the book (which discusses the underlying unity between religions) he explains mankind's mental and spiritual development throughout the ages. He claims that our Sun takes some star for its dual and revolves around it in about 24,000 years of our Earth and this is what causes the apparent backward movement of the equinoctial points around the zodiac. An interesting website that explores this possibility is the Sirius Research Group who actually seem to prove it mathematically. Another site that researches this topic is Walter Cruttenden's Binary Research Institute.
At the same time, the Sun also has another motion by which it revolves round a grand center called Vishnunabhi, which is the seat of the creative power of the universe, Brahma. Brahma regulates dharma, the mental virtue of the internal world. When the Sun, in its revolution around its dual, comes to the place nearest to this grand center, (which takes place when the Autumnal Equinox reaches the First Point of Aries¹, the star Zeta Piscium²), dharma, the mental virtue, becomes so much developed that man can easily comprehend all, even the mysteries of Spirit. After 12,000 years, when the Sun goes to the place in its orbit furthest from Brahma (which takes place when the Autumnal Equinox is on the First Point of Libra), the mental abilities of man is so reduced that he cannot grasp anything beyond the gross material creation. Then in the same manner, the sun begins its advance to return to the place nearest the grand center and mental virtue begins to develop again for another 12,000 years and completes the 24,000 year cycle.
Rate of Precession
Modern science tells us that the present rate of precession is about 1º in 72 years. At that rate it would take 25,920 years for the equinoctial points to complete one trip through the zodiac (72 x 360º), not 24,000 years as Yukteswar claims. However there is no proof that the present rate of precession is constant throughout the entire cycle. If in fact our Sun is revolving around another star in an elliptical orbit, the relative velocity of the star is slowest at its apoapsis and fastest at its periapsis (point closest to its focus). Thus with an average period of 24,000 years, the measured relative velocity at apoapsis may correspond to 26,000 years, and 23,000 years or less at periapsis. Yukteswar claims we were at the apopsis of our orbit at around 500 AD when the Autumnal Equinox reached 0°of Libra. The intellectual power of man was so diminished that we could not comprehend anything beyond the gross material matter of creation. History seems to bear this out as it was one of the darkest periods of mankind with the fall of the Western Roman Empire just a few years earlier and the beginning of what was eventually termed the "Dark Ages".
The Four Yugas
The development of dharma, Yukteswar goes on to explain, is gradual and divided into four different stages or Yugas in an ascending arc of 12,000 years. The first stage is called Kali Yuga during which the Sun passes through 1/20th portion of its entire orbit or 1200 years. The human intellect cannot comprehend anything beyond gross material creation, the external world. The next stage or age is called Dwapara Yuga which the Sun passes through 2/20th of its orbit or 2400 years. The human intellect can comprehend the fine matters or electricities and their attributes which are the creating principles of the external world. The period of 3600 years which the Sun passes through 3/20th of its orbit is called Treta Yuga. Our intellect can then comprehend the divine magnetism, the source of all electrical forces on which creation depends for its existence. The period of 4800 years during which the Sun passes through the remaining 4/20th orbit is called Satya Yuga. The mental virtue is in its fourth stage and completes its full development. Human intellect can comprehend all, even God the Spirit beyond this visible world and dharma has reached its peak. It now begins to decline in a descending arc of 12,000 years and mankind gradually loses dharma as it once again travels through the four Yugas in reverse order.
The following diagram may be helpful:
As you can see from the above diagram, the Autumnal Equinox entered the ascending Dwapara Yuga around the year 1700 and so we are currently just 300 years (or barely 1/8) into this 2400 year Yuga which is scheduled to last until the year 4100 AD. Obviously the last 300 years has seen a tremendous advance in our knowledge of the universe. It should also be pointed out that as you pass from one age to another there is a transitional period from one to the other that is proportionate to the length of the age in question. So the Kali Yuga, for instance, that has a total length of 1200 years, has a transition time of 100 years at its start and end plus the 1000 years sandwiched in between to make the total 1200 years. In similar fashion Dwapara Yuga has a 200 year transition + 2000 years + another 200 year transition at its end and Treta has a similar 300+3000+300 and Satya 400+4000+400. In this scenario, 1600 AD would mark the beginning of the 100 year transition out of the last Kali Yuga. Therefore, 1700 AD would begin the 200 year transition into the Dwapara Yuga and 1900 would be the start of the actual Dwapara Yuga proper. No one can argue that the last 100 years of the 20th century has seen an unparalleled advance in knowledge throughout the world which corresponds to our finally entering into the Dwapara Age proper in 1900 AD.
Age of Aquarius
Another point you may notice from the diagram, is that it is the Autumnal not the Spring or Vernal Equinox which seems to be the true indicator of mankind's state of development in the world today. As you can see, the Autumnal Equinox is falling in the constellation of Virgo and so the Vernal Equinox would be in its opposite sign of Pisces. Since western astrologers always give prime importance to the Vernal Equinox they say we are in the Piscean Age. However, as demonstrated above, there can be little doubt that it is the Autumnal Equinox that is of prime importance and that we are really in the Age of Virgo and will then enter the Age of Leo around 2500 AD. This brings up another widespread misconception in that you are always hearing about how we are already feeling the vibrations and effects of the "Aquarian Age". That this is what's causing the "enlightenment" of the last few years. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if the Vernal Equinox was the prime indicator of mankind's development, it will still be about 500 years before it will reach Aquarius or a good 25% of the entire sign of Pisces is in fact left. In astrological terms this is about 7.5 degrees (30°per sign x 0.25=7.5°). Influences between planetary bodies do not even begin to be felt until they are at least within 5-6 degrees of an exact angle or conjunction. The closer they come to their exact angle the more intense the effect. A fuller explanation of orbs of influence in astrological terms is provided:
All aspects have an allowable tolerance of exactness, called the orb of the aspect. The orb is the permissible degree to which an aspect can vary from the exact number of degrees characteristic of that aspect. Major aspects--that is, conjunctions, sextiles, squares, trines, and oppositions--are allowed an orb of up to 6° in natal Astrology.... [the birth chart of an individual]
Major transiting or progressed aspects are allowed a 1° orb, unless the Sun or the Moon is involved, in which case 2º can be allowed.3
Obviously, in discussing the precession of the equinoctial points around the zodiac we are not referring to the horoscope of an individual but of the current movement of our entire solar system. In other words a transit. Therefore one can assume, at the most, a 1° to 2° orb before the so-called "Aquarian Age" effects would even begin to be felt. Even assuming a 6° orb we are still much too far away to even begin to feel any effects from the constellation of Aquarius.
You may wonder why the Autumnal Equinox and not the Vernal Equinox is the true indicator of world conditions. In a series of articles for East-West Magazine called "Astrological World Cycles", Laurie Pratt writes that:
...it may be that the 24,000 year equinoctial cycle which we are now traversing is a female or negative cycle, and therefore the Autumnal, rather than the Vernal Equinox is of primary importance during this period, for ancient astrological rules tell us that Libra 0° (the place of the Autumnal Equinox) is the natural starting point for a female horoscope, just as Aries 0° is for a male.4
Decline of Civilization
If Yukteswar's theory is correct, mankind has had 12,000 years of declining mental development that reached its nadir in 500 AD. This would mean in the remote past of history man had reached a peak around the year 11,500 BC. Of course this is wholly at variance with the current theories of science and archeology. However all theories should be subject to continual testing to see if they are valid. What exactly do we know about our remote past? Very little it would seem if you read about it. Much is unknown and there seems to be a lot of speculation. "Unknown" and "speculation" is not hard scientific fact. Yet often the theories that are formulated from the available evidence is all we have, so that many times they are assumed to be fact when in reality they are at best, an educated guess.
In re-examining the diagram above we can see that the last descending Dwapara Yuga started around the year 3100 BC. This corresponds with the beginning of the Dynastic period in Egypt. But how did this civilization in Egypt start? What happened before 3100 BC? No one seems to know. As John Anthony West wrote in his book, Serpent in the Sky:
...every aspect of Egyptian knowledge seems to have been complete at the very beginning. The sciences, artistic and architectural techniques and the hieroglyphic system show virtually no sign of a period of 'development'; indeed, many of the achievements of the earliest dynasties were never surpassed, or even equaled later on. This astonishing fact is readily admitted by orthodox Egyptologists, but the magnitude of the mystery it poses is skillfully understated, while its many implications go unmentioned.
How does a complex civilization spring full-blown into being?....The answer to the mystery is of course obvious, but because it is repellant to the cast of modern thinking, it is seldom seriously considered. Egyptian civilization was not a 'development', it was a legacy.5
If it was a legacy from an earlier advanced civilization then this would tend to substantiate the diagram above. But a legacy from how long ago? Dr. Robert M. Schoch has now provided for the first time some hard scientific evidence that gives some support to a much earlier date for the start of the Egyptian civilization.
Dating the Sphinx
West noted that R.A. Schwaller wrote in his book Sacred Science, that the weathering patterns observed on the Great Sphinx were due to water, not wind and sand. West was stunned when he read this assertion as he had always assumed (along with most everyone else) that the wind had caused the weathering features seen on the Sphinx. Not being a scientist himself, he naturally wanted a professional opinion from a geologist. When explaining his predicament to a friend at Boston University it aroused the interest of a geologist colleague, Dr. Robert M. Schoch. Schoch was a stratigrapher and paleontologist, and thus an expert in the weathering of soft rock. As West explains,
....though my photographs [of the Sphinx] looked to his practiced eyes like typical water weathering, he was still deeply skeptical, mainly because it looked too obvious. Schoch found it difficult to believe that in two hundred years of studying, excavating and restoring the Giza Plateau, no one prior to Schwaller had noticed that the weathering on the Sphinx was water weathering, and no one prior to me [West] had noticed that this was peculiar to the Sphinx (and its immediate associated structures). His initial conviction was that, as an amateur, I must have overlooked some crucial piece of evidence that would allow the accepted dating and attribution to stand.6
As it turns out, Schwaller was right and his observation did "hold water". The error West made was assuming that the water erosion was due to the Nile flooding in pre-historic times. According to Schoch, however, the weathering was precipitation based; in other words rainfall. The Sphinx, of course, is located in the Sahara Desert. The implications of this fact is staggering. It means that the Sphinx and the adjacent Sphinx Temple (which shows the same weathering to the exclusion of all other structures in Egypt) were built at a time when it rained for thousands of years in that area. As Schoch explains:
This line of thinking dates the original excavation of the Sphinx to somewhere on the order of 7000 to 5000BC, a figure that fits with the climactic history revealed in the rain erosion patterns. As earthshaking a calculation as this has proved to be to conventional Egyptology, it is in fact a conservative estimate that represents only a minimum age.7
The water-weathering pattern on the Sphinx makes sense only if the structure had been carved at a time when the Egyptian climate was much wetter than it is today. This indeed was the case at the end of the last Ice Age, circa 12,000 years ago8....
This would be the first corroborating piece of scientific evidence that could possibly show an alternate scenario for mankind's development as opposed to the currently accepted theories. In this regard, Schoch notes that:
The tidy scenario of a civilization that began in Sumeria in 3500BC and flowered in Old Kingdom Egypt of the Fourth Dynasty runs aground at Giza.9
The debate over Schoch's conclusions rages on within the Egyptology community. Another source of great debate and speculation is also located on the Giza plateau, the Great Pyramid.
1 The "First Point of Aries" is the point where the Ecliptic and the Celestial Equator cross one another. It defines the zero-point for Right Ascension. When the Sun reaches this point every year we have the Vernal or Spring Equinox (around March 21st). The Autumnal Equinox occurs around September 22nd every year.
2 The ancient Hindu rishis claimed that a new "Day of Creation" is ushered in when all the planets, which belong to any given solar system, are placed in the same zodiacal degree. The fixed star that marked this degree would serve, throughout the entire life of the solar system, as the starting point or first degree of Aries of a fixed zodiac. The star Revati (Zeta Piscium) is considered by the Hindus to mark 0° Aries in the heavens for our solar system. The scientific knowledge of the rishis was very great; in the Kaushitaki Brahmana we find precise astronomical passages which show that in 3100 B.C. the Hindus were far advanced in astronomy, which had a practical value in determining the auspicious times for astrological ceremonies. In an article in East-West, February, 1934, the following summary is given of the Jyotish or body of Vedic astronomical treatises: "It contains the scientific lore which kept India at the forefront of all ancient nations and made her the mecca of seekers after knowledge. The very ancient Brahmagupta, one of the Jyotish works, is an astronomical treatise dealing with such matters as the heliocentric motion of the planetary bodies in our solar system, the obliquity of the ecliptic, the earth's spherical form, the reflected light of the moon, the earth's daily axial revolution, the presence of fixed stars in the Milky Way, the law of gravitation, and other scientific facts which did not dawn in the Western world until the time of Copernicus and Newton." It is now well-known that the so-called "Arabic numerals," without whose symbols advanced mathematics is difficult, came to Europe in the 9th century, via the Arabs, from India, where that system of notation had been anciently formulated. Further light on India's vast scientific heritage will be found in Dr. P. C. Ray's History of Hindu Chemistry, and in Dr. B. N. Seal's Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus.
3 Frances Sakoian and Louis S. Acker, Predictive Astrology: Understanding Transits as the Key to the Future
(New York, New York: Harper and Row, 1977) p. 81-83.
4 Laurie Pratt, "Astrological World Cycles," East-West, Vol. 5-10 (1932), 61.
5 John Anthony West, Serpent in the Sky (Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), p.1.
6 Ibid., p. 226.
7 Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D., Voices of the Rocks (New York, New York: Harmony Books, 1999) p. 42
8 Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D., Voyages of the Pyramid Builders (New York, New York: Putnam Books, 2003) p. 11
9 Ibid. p. 18