The first part of this post was published on March 21, 2014. It may be valuable to read it (again) before reading this. It was important to have the Axial Age post before this one was published.

The next question is how do we determine when a particular 500 year period ends and the next one begins. I use the analogy with how we know when one synodic cycle ends and another starts, and the answer is obvious. The conjunction of the two planets involved in the synodic cycle is what marks the change from one cycle to the next. What I am proposing for the boundary between two cycles, where the cycle involves all ten planets, is when their collective distance is at a minimum. This idea also has some support in the work of the great French astrologer Andre Barbault.

Intuitively, the concept of “minimum distance” is easy. The planets spread out across the sky and come together. We can see sometimes that they are spread out and sometimes more bunched together. It turns out that this minimum occurs once every 500 years. While there are several ways of measuring this angular separation, they all give the same results within a few days. The one I am using now is based on the common statistical method of standard deviation. For a group a data points (in our case read planets) the standard deviation measures how far the points vary from the mean of all points. If the standard deviation is large, the points are spread out at far distances from the mean point, and conversely if the standard deviation is small the points are clustered close to the mean point. This sounds like just what we need.

Technical note. (Warning: Don’t try this at home.) I have written some Python programs that can calculate a chart for any date. What I do is calculate a chart for every day for the last 2600 years and then compute the standard deviation of the planets for each day. It is then easy to find the minimum.

Note that the planets clustering together is much dependent on the position of the three outer planets, since they have a period much greater than all the others. The fastest moving outer planet – Uranus – takes 84 years to go around the sun, three times longer than the next slower planet, Saturn, at 29 years. So at first approximation, the minima will occur near the time of the Neptune-Pluto conjunction. After that we need a Uranus-Pluto and a Uranus-Neptune conjunctions. So these three conjunction will by themselves determine the 100 year period when this minima occurs. Then we need Saturn and Jupiter, which conjoin every 20 years, to get within the group.

As we saw in the entry on the Axial Age, the three out planets were all conjunct in 575 BCE. There is one conjunction of Neptune and Pluto every 500 years, four Uranus Pluto conjunctions every 500 years, and three Uranus-Neptune conjunctions. As the cycle goes on, the Uranus-Pluto and Uranus -Neptune conjunctions get further and further later from the Neptune-Pluto conjunction, which would indicate that the planetary minimum occurs further and further after the Neptune-Pluto conjunction as the cycles go on, until they start over after 4000 years. In general, the Neptune-Uranus conjunction gets later than than than the Uranus-Pluto conjunction as time goes on also, but not as much as the spread from the Neptune-Pluto conjunction. In the current period, the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the Sixties was some 70 years after the Neptune-Pluto of the 1890s, and the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of the 1990s was almost 30 years after the Uranus-Pluto conjunction.

The ancient Chinese thought that there was a 500 cycle ruling the rise and fall of civilizations. Each of these 500 years is different, although the changes start well before the date – the preceding Neptune-Pluto conjunction indicates that changes are starting. But each period is different than the preceding one, and it is futile to think that the rules that applied in the preceding 500 year period will apply to the current one. This lesson applies most forcefully to our current situation, since the number of people in the world is so much greater than what it was 500 years ago, and civilization has gotten so much more complicated. But the lesson can’t be leaned well enough: Things are bound to change, you can not stop that but only fight a losing battle. We can not use measures from the past to suggest what the future will be like. The gifts of the old cycle, which as I’ve mentioned before are capitalism, industrialism, rationalism, can no longer be depended upon.

There is a large cycle called the Great Year, which is 26,000 years. This is the time it takes the equinox — which creates the Aries point — to move backwards and return to its original position, an action called Precession of the Equinox. Supposedly, this first point of Aries, marking the intersection of the ecliptic — the path of the Sun through the heavens — and the celestial equator — is moving into the sign of Aquarius, giving rise to the idea that this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. But what I want to point out is the ratio of this 500-year cycle to the Great Year is the same as the ratio of one week to one year. Thus I propose that the name for this 500-year period that I have been talking about, and which gives its title to this blog, is the Great Week.

Here is a brief overview of the minima, with the dates that the minima occurred. Remember this is not a magic date, but rather the dates indicate periods where one cycle changed — with time — to another cycle. I will gives memorable events that happened a each date, usually involving the Roman Empire, since that has been a dominant feature of the last 2600 years. Changes are slow to happen, so take these dates with much salt.

Note that while people insist there was no year zero, as far as date computations go, there is a year zero, which corresponds to 1 BCE. With the following charts, dates are given in chronological time, so that year -576 is 577 BCE.

July 28, 559 BCE. This was the height of the Axial Age, as discussed previously, and is just a short time (as far as history goes) after triple conjunction of Uranus, Neptune, and PLuto. The Roman Republic starts.

June 7, 60 BCE. Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon and the Roman Republic ends, the Roman Empire begins.

August 5, 449 CE. The Fall of the (Western) Roman Empire, the beginning of the Dark Ages.

June 23, 947 CE. The Ottonian Renaissance and the beginning of the Upper Middle Ages. Song Dynasty and the Chinese Renaissance.

November 8, 1485. The Fall of the (Eastern) Roman Empire, the discovery (for Europeans) of the New World, beginning of the Tudor Age in England.

November 16, 1982. The world reaches the use of 100% of its resources.