Theosophy – by which we and many others mean the distinct Esoteric Philosophy presented to the world from Eastern Initiates through the agency of H. P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge, rather than any of the later conflicting versions of “Theosophy” produced by subsequent teachers – has extremely little in common with the New Age Movement.
In fact, many of the most popular and pervasive “New Age” ideas and practices stand in direct opposition to those of genuine Theosophy. See, for examples, articles on this site such as The Masters in Theosophy, The Psychic is not the Spiritual, Chakras – The Centres in The Astral Body, The Danger and Deception of Channelling, The Whitewashing of Black Magic, and Beware of the Star Rishis.
However, the New Age Movement takes its name from the idea that a new astrological age or cycle is now dawning for our Earth and its humanity, namely the Age of Aquarius, superseding the Age of Pisces. This is more than just an idea; it is also an astronomical and scientifically undeniable fact, regardless of what one may choose to believe about the astrological side of it.
And this is something which Theosophy definitely agrees with, whilst saying comparatively very little about it.
The modern Theosophical Movement was founded in 1875.
Significantly, the period 1875-1900 marked the intersection of three great cycles for humanity.
Robert Crosbie points this out in “Answers to Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 190-192.
Not only was it (1) the regular “centennial attempt,” first initiated by the great Tsong Kha-pa, when in the last quarter of every century an effort is made by the Brotherhood of Adepts to bring about a further spiritual awakening of the human race, but it also coincided with (2) the close of the first 5,000 year cycle of the Kali Yuga, between 1897-1898, and beginning of the second sub-period of Kali Yuga, as well as (3) the closing of the “Old Age” of Pisces and the gradual dawning of the “New Age” of Aquarius, the astrological age of approximately 2,155 years, beginning in or around 1900.
As was mentioned in another article on this site: “Such a serious and vitally important intersection of occult cycles only occurs once in every several thousand years. The realisation of this fact alone should readily indicate the truly great nature and high spiritual status of the one sent by the Masters as Their Messenger and Direct Agent at such a time. To suppose – as members of some “Theosophical” groups and offshoots do – that at such a crucial moment They would select and send a bumbling and error-prone individual, incapable of delivering Their Message in the way that They wished, and unsuited for the full task, is such a serious insult that it is tantamount to a slap in the face for the Masters.”
Interestingly, Theosophy actually says much more about the respective closing and dawning of the first two sub-cycles of the Kali Yuga (the “Dark Age” or “Black Age,” “the instant of the beginning” of which was at 2:27:30am on 16th February 3,102 B.C. according to “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 662) than it does about the closing and dawning of the Piscean and Aquarian Ages.
The Kali Yuga, which is generally said to have begun at the time of the death of Krishna in ancient India, began during the astrological/astronomical Age of Taurus. The subsequent Age of Aries, Age of Pisces, Age of Aquarius, and still further ones, are all small cycles within the greater cycle of the Kali Yuga. For more about the durations and orders of the Yugas, please see The Seven Yugas.
The only specific statement HPB made with reference by name to the Aquarian Age was in her 1887 article “The Esoteric Character of the Gospels.” There she says:
“There are several remarkable cycles that come to a close at the end of this century. First, the 5,000 years of the Kaliyug cycle; again the Messianic cycle of the Samaritan (also Kabalistic) Jews of the man connected with Pisces (Ichthys or “Fish-man” Dag). It is a cycle, historic and not very long, but very occult, lasting about 2,155 solar years, but having a true significance only when computed by lunar months. It occurred 2410 and 255 B.C., or when the equinox entered into the sign of the Ram, and again into that of Pisces. When it enters, in a few years, the sign of Aquarius, psychologists will have some extra work to do, and the psychic idiosyncrasies of humanity will enter on a great change.”
If one does the mathematics, her statement indicates the year 1900 as the dawning of the New Age of Aquarius.
But one important word she used in that statement ought not to be overlooked, namely the word “about”: “lasting about 2,155 solar years” not “exactly and definitely 2,155 solar years without fail.”
So, with this in mind, we cannot say that HPB definitively pointed to the year 1900 as the exact year in which the Aquarian Age would be due to begin but we can say that it must have been fairly close to the year 1900. Her words and figures definitely lead one to deduce that the Aquarian Age has now already begun. And when we look at the almost unimaginable amount of major transformative changes in almost every field and aspect of human life, thought, and civilisation, that occurred from the early 1900’s onwards it makes sense.
But Theosophy says that no cycle just begins and ends suddenly; there is always a slow and gradual crossover period, in which the occult energies and influence of the old cycle are increasingly fading out and those of the new cycle are increasingly coming to the fore.
Many astrologers as well as astronomers say that we are not likely to fully enter Aquarius until maybe a few centuries from now. But that doesn’t mean that we are not already in the gradual beginnings of the Aquarian Age.
And what about the actual term “New Age”?
This phrase, made popular over the past few decades largely through the New Age Movement, is generally attributed to have originated with Alice Bailey. While it’s true that the quite frequent use of the term in her books was what led to its initial popularisation around the 1930’s, it had actually been used occasionally before then by Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater of “The Theosophical Society – Adyar.”
H. P. Blavatsky herself never used the specific term “New Age” although, as we just saw, she did make reference to the dawning of the Aquarian Age (which is what the New Age is) and used phrases such as “the New Cycle.”
But it seems the term may have initially originated with her colleague and co-founder of the Theosophical Movement, William Judge. It is used three times in his extensive writings.
In “A Year on The Path” (an article published in his magazine “The Path” in March 1887) he says “A new age is not far away.”
In “Stray Memoranda” (in “The Path” for February 1889) he speaks of “the dawn of a new age.”
In the fourth part of “The Synthesis of Occult Science” (“The Path” May 1892) he states that “it will not be possible to prevent the new age from entering the occult realm.”
When HPB used the expression “New Cycle,” such as in her article of that name, it is not really possible to know whether she was referring to the New Age of Aquarius or the new sub-period of the Kali Yuga or even the coinciding effect of the two.
Nevertheless, “The New Cycle” is well worth reading, as are all her writings. Dated 21st March, the Spring Equinox, 1889, she says in it:
“But you Occultists, Kabalists and Theosophists, you know well that a word as old as the world, though new to you, has been sounded at the beginning of this cycle, and lies potentially, although not articulate for those others, in the sum of the ciphers of the year 1889; you know that a note, never before heard by the men of the present era, has just been sounded, and that a new kind of thought has arisen, fostered by the evolutionary forces. This thought differs from all that has ever been produced in the 19th Century; yet it is identical with what was the keynote and the keystone of every century, especially the last one: “Absolute Freedom of Human Thought.””
When she speaks there of “a word as old as the world, though new to you,” being sounded, is she referring to the sacred word AUM, which was then only just beginning to be known of by those in the West? Had “The Brothers,” the Masters of Wisdom, perhaps intoned this divine sound in a certain way, as a means of influencing the current of the then-imminent New Cycle?
We cannot say but elsewhere in the article HPB adds the following powerfully written inspirational words:
“Those who cannot conceive of a spiritual Ego, of a living Soul, and of an eternal Spirit, within their material shell (which owes its illusory life only to these principles); those for whom the great wave of hope in a life beyond the grave is a bitter draught, the symbol of an unknown quantity, or else the subject of a belief sui generis, the result of mediumistic or theological hallucinations – those will do well to be prepared for the keenest of disappointments the future could have in store for them. For, from the depths of the muddy black waters of matter, hiding from them on all sides the horizons of the great beyond, a mystic force is rising . . . A mere touch, at the most, until now, but a superhuman touch, “supernatural” only for the superstitious and the ignorant. The Spirit of Truth is at this moment moving upon the face of these black waters, and, separating them, forces them to yield their spiritual treasures. This spirit is a force that cannot be either checked or stopped. Those who recognize it and feel that this is the supreme moment of their salvation, will be carried by it beyond the illusions of the great astral serpent. The bliss they will experience will be so sharp and so keen that were they not in spirit detached from their bodies of flesh, this beatitude would wound them like a sharpened blade. It is not pleasure that they will feel, but a bliss which is a foretaste of the wisdom of the gods, of the knowledge of good and evil, and of the fruits of the Tree of Life.”
In another article, “Our Cycle and the Next,” which again does not specify exactly which cycles it is speaking about, she asks:
“But what has the new cycle in store for humanity? Will it be merely a continuation of the present, only in darker and more terrible colours? Or shall a new day dawn for mankind, a day of pure sunlight, of truth, of charity, of true happiness for all? The answer depends mainly on the few Theosophists who, true to their colours through good repute and ill, still fight the battle of Truth against the powers of Darkness.”
Can it really be that the destiny of the New Cycle depended very largely on Theosophists?
To us now, especially surveying the current state of today’s Theosophical Movement, that may sound unimaginable. But that is because most Theosophists of the 20th century chose to neglect or even completely ignore and reject the Theosophy of HPB in favour of very different and purportedly “better and more advanced” versions of “Theosophy,” the offerings of self-promoting leaders in various organisations, who proclaimed themselves as the “Occult Successors” to HPB.
Robert Crosbie, the founder of the United Lodge of Theosophists, the only branch or stream of the Theosophical Movement which stayed entirely faithful and true to the original unaltered teachings, wrote in a June 1913 article titled “Some Unavoidable Deductions”:
“It should never be forgotten that She was and is the Teacher. Had this been remembered, with all that such remembrance implies, the years since Her departure would have a united body of theosophists before the world, and an increase in power and knowledge in that body, individually and collectively, which would have served to direct the thought of Western people into right channels, and avoided many disasters.”
For HPB and her Adept-Teachers, the task and responsibility of Theosophists was an extremely serious, immense, and important one. “In your hands, brothers, is placed in trust the welfare of the coming century; and great as is the trust, so great is also the responsibility,” she told them shortly before her departure from physical life. Her main statements on this subject can be read in our compilation The Task and Responsibility of Theosophists: Some Serious Warnings.
The article “Our Cycle and the Next” closes with these unforgettable words:
“If Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing philosophy strikes deep root into the minds and hearts of men, if its doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope and Responsibility, find a home in the lives of the new generations, then, indeed, will dawn the day of joy and gladness for all who now suffer and are outcast. For real Theosophy IS ALTRUISM, and we cannot repeat it too often. It is brotherly love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to Truth. If once men do but realize that in these alone can true happiness be found, and never in wealth, possessions, or any selfish gratification, then the dark clouds will roll away, and a new humanity will be born upon earth. Then, the GOLDEN AGE will be there, indeed.
“But if not, then the storm will burst, and our boasted western civilization and enlightenment will sink in such a sea of horror that its parallel History has never yet recorded.”
Of course, the principles – or rather, laws – of Karma and Reincarnation “finding a home” in “the lives of the new generations” means immeasurably more than people simply claiming that they believe in such things. It means a clear and correct comprehension which translates into living one’s entire life in harmony with those principles and all that they entail. We are still a long long way from such a goal.
And this brings us to one final point . . .
Whereas the popular “New Age” view is that the Aquarian Age will be a sort of wonderful golden age for humanity, Theosophy does not paint such a rosy picture.
There are always numerous different but interrelated cycles going on and the Aquarian Age is, as was said, just a small cycle within the greater cycle of the Kali Yuga, the Dark Age.
Some New Agers equate the Aquarian Age with the Satya Yuga spoken of in Hinduism, which is an extremely long “Golden Age” period and which signifies the ending of the whole of the Kali Yuga. There is no legitimate basis for such an idea though; it belongs to the category of hopeful but naïve optimism. We are going further into Kali Yuga and the further we go, the darker most things become, according to “The Secret Doctrine.” Those who are interested can read a prophetic description of it from the Vishnu Purana in “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 377-378.
The Aquarian Age can become a bright period but that will depend on humanity and the choices it collectively makes, and, as HPB indicates, it also depended a lot on Theosophists and the Theosophical Movement staying true and faithful to the original Theosophical teachings and doing their job properly. We know sadly that the vast majority did not do that and still do not do that today but nonetheless each one of us can still try to do the best we can to make the needed difference in the world. It starts with self-transformation and the spreading of right ideas and principles.
HPB did state on the last page of “The Key to Theosophy” that “earth will be a heaven in the twenty-first century in comparison with what it is now!” – if Theosophists and the Theosophical Movement were to do their job properly throughout the twentieth century, now already passed.
But her words at least show the possibility of the first part of the Aquarian Age being quite wonderful.
However, most of the things that people say about the Age of Aquarius – such as “it will be a time of greater harmony, collectivity, peace, universality” etc – are derived from standard exoteric astrology and 20th century New Age Movement ideas. Some of them might possibly be true but the Theosophical teachings we have been given make no such categorical definitions or explanations about it, so we cannot apply any authority to such ideas.
In the recent article The Seven Sub-Races we said:
“One interesting point to bear in mind . . . about the coming sixth sub-race, is that its birth, or perhaps one should say its gestation, corresponds closely with the dawning of the New Age of Aquarius, which HPB describes as having been due to make its gradual beginning around the year 1900.
“From that perspective it could be seen as the “Aquarian Sub-Race” yet even that name would not be entirely accurate, seeing as each astrological age lasts no more than approximately 2,160 years, and every sub-race lasts for much longer than this.”
Of the Sixth Sub-Race of the present Fifth Root Race, the teachings tell us:
“Occult philosophy teaches that even now, under our very eyes, the new Race and Races are preparing to be formed, and that it is in America, that the transformation will take place, and has already silently commenced.” (HPB, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2, p. 444)
“This fifth sub-race is said to be preparing in America for transition or transformation into the sixth sub-race: it is not entirely clear whether we in the United States today belong to the seventh family-race of the fifth sub-race, or to the first family race of the sixth sub-race. It seems certain that we are near the transition point.” (William Q. Judge, “Rounds and Races”)
“It is distinctly taught that on the Americas is to be evolved the new – sixth – race; and here all the races of the earth are now engaged in a great amalgamation from which will result a very highly developed sub-race, after which others will be evolved by similar processes until the new one is completed.” (William Q. Judge, “The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 26-27)
But that is not all they have to tell us. We encourage the careful and reflective reading of The Seven Sub-Races for greater familiarity and appreciation of this subject, which relates to something going on in our world right at this very moment.
~ BlavatskyTheosophy.com ~
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