THE CUSP OF AGES
©Copyright Terry MacKinnell 2001 All Rights Reserved

There is plenty of uncertainty in the astrological community about the precessional ages such as the Age of Aquarius, Age of Pisces and so on. However it is agreed that the ages proceed in reverse order as if they were permanently retrograde. Most discussion on the precessional ages revolves around the date of the start of the Aquarian Age. There is little agreement on this actual date, with a spread of possibilities extending over a thousand years.

This preoccupation with the timing of the precessional ages has come at the expense of other details associated with the ages. One such detail is the nature of the cusp of ages. Another detail is the division of ages into smaller units. My experience is that without a correct understanding of age cusps and age divisions, it is almost impossible to fathom the nature of the precessional ages and their rectification to historical events.

The consensus amongst the astrological community is that the world is currently on the cusp of the Pisces and Aquarius Ages. There is a school of thought that believes the Aquarian Age is many centuries away in the future based on the position and size of the zodiacal constellations. Because the Constellation if Pisces sprawls over more then 30 degrees of the sky, the implication is that the Pisces Age will last longer then other ages.

By insinuation, this school advocates the `constellation infallibility doctrine’ as applied to the zodiacal constellations. This doctrine, though hazy, indicates that the zodiacal constellations are the unquestionable arbitrators of the precessional ages. If the constellation is small, the age is small, if the constellation is large the age is large. It does not matter that these zodiacal constellations may have been named around 2100BC (according to Donald MacKenzie and others), with no regard to precessional ages.
Robert Hand stated in 1997 that:

“From what we have seen it is clear that the Babylonians had two divisions of thirty degrees, one corresponding to the constellations which they may or may not have known were moving with respect to the vernal point,…”.

Robert Hand in this article is referring to the Babylonian astrologers of the 1st Millenium and their understanding of the sidereal versus tropical zodiacs. This is some 2,000 years after the rudimentary zodiacal constellations were named in the same locality in ancient Sumer (Mesopotamia). Did the astrologer-astronomers of the 3rd Millenium BC have the means or ability to accurately gauge the sidereal zodiac and thus the precessional ages with pinpoint accuracy? It is highly unlikely.

Apart from the variance in sizes of the zodiacal constellations, the `constellation infallibility doctrine’ also implies that these zodiacal constellations are basically correct in their overall alignment. What determining factors did the ancient astronomer-astrologers use to decide where to place each zodiacal constellation? How was it possible that these ancient astronomer-astrologers could accurately isolate each zodiacal constellation of variable lengths - which could accurately determine each precessional age over an approximately 26,000 years cycle, a cycle which should repeat for around another four billion years? What criteria did they use to decide that the Pisces Age should be longer then `average’, when the previous Pisces Age existed some 23,000 earlier. Did they look it up in an encyclopedia?

Though the contemporary belief of the `constellation infallibility doctrine’ school of thought is that the Aquarian Age is some time in the future, there is regular acknowledgement by many astrologers that Aquarius appears to be in the current vicinity. How does an intelligent astrologer reconcile the following Aquarian events: technology, computers and space exploration in the 20th Century; and the scientific revolution and the dramatic growth of democracy over the last four centuries with the Pisces Age? Electricity has literally lit up the world yet this Aquarian ruled electrical event is supposedly occurring in the Pisces Age.

One way to gloss over this inconsistency of so many Aquarian events occurring in the Age of Pisces is to blame it on the cusp. But what is this cusp? The accepted approach by many is that for an indeterminate period of time, both Pisces and Aquarian influences merge as one age wanes and the other age appears. So before the Aquarian Age arrives, many Aquarian attributes appear as a `forerunner’ of the Aquarian Age. After the Aquarian Age arrives, Pisces attributes continue due to the proximity to the Pisces Age. How long does such a cusp last? Is there any support from other branches of astrology that will support the existence of the age cusps?

In natal astrology it is often stated that people born around the 19th to 22nd of any month are born on the cusp of two signs, though historically cusps did not have this meaning. Adhering to contemporary practice, it is probably perfectly legitimate to state for someone born in the last few degrees or the first few degrees of a sign that they are born on a cusp. This does not automatically mean that being born on a cusp has any astrological significance.

For example someone born at the end of Sagittarius, may claim they have some Capricorn quality introduced into their nature due to their proximity to Capricorn. With reference to sun signs, there is a very valid reason why someone born at the end of Sagittarius will have a greater chance of a Capricorn quality in their life. This is because both Mercury and Venus are always located very close to the Sun.

A person born around December 20th on the Sagittarian side of the Sagittarius-Capricorn cusp will have approximately 50% chance of having their Mercury in Capricorn, and close to 50% chance of having their Venus in Capricorn. In other words, they have well over a 50% chance of having either one, the other or both in Capricorn. The same applies if they were born on the Capricorn side of the cusp. There would be well over a 50% chance of Mercury, Venus or both being located in Sagittarius. If any astrological argument can be tendered for explaining cusps, this would have to be the contender with the best odds. What other logical argument can be presented to confirm the existence of cusps?

I have never been exposed to any supporting argument for cusps. However there are other phenomena surrounding zodiacal signs that can clarify the situation and explain the nature of age cusps. It is a common and accepted practice that each sign has three decanates (abbreviated to decans) derived from the ancient Egyptian practice. As each sign encompasses thirty degrees of the zodiac, each decan contains ten degrees each. The first decan of any sign is the same as the sign itself. The second decan is the next sign of the same element. The third decan is the second next sign of the same element. Therefore the three decans of Aries are: Aries; Leo and Sagittarius. The three decans of Scorpio are: Scorpio, Pisces and Cancer.

If decans are a valid astrological tool, then the beginning of each sign is the strongest part of the sign as both the sign and decan are the same. So someone born on the Sagittarius- Capricorn cusp either was born at a `weak’ part of Sagittarius (i.e. Leo decan of Sagittarius) or the strongest part of Capricorn (i.e. the Capricorn decan of Capricorn). In natal astrology, the only contemporary common subdivision of a sign to my knowledge is through the use of these decans.

However the situation changes remarkable when incorporating progression as a predictive tool. In the standard day-for-a-year progression, each day after birth represents a year of life. Therefore the 33rd day after birth represents the 33rd birthday. Astrological indications 33 days after birth will give vital clues to the environment a person will encounter in the year commencing with their 33rd birthday.

Two striking features of this system of progressions is that the sun will take approximately 30 days to `progress’ through a sign, and therefore affect the person for 30 years. On average, the progressed ascendant (and cardinal points) will also take 30 years to progress through a sign (though much great variation compared to the sun is found depending upon the obliquity of the ecliptic at birth). The `vastness’ of time associated with each sun sign or ascendant sign stimulated the use of smaller astrological features then the decans.

As well as dividing each sign into its three decans, each sign can also be divided into 12 `sub-signs’, which traditionally have borrowed the name from Vedic astrology of `dwadasamsa’ abbreviated to `duads’. Another term applied to this division is the 12th harmonic. These duads (sub-signs) synchronise with the decans. Each duad is exactly 2 ½ degrees of the zodiac. The first duad of any sign is the same as the sign, then each subsequent duad progresses orderly through the signs. Therefore the first duad of Sagittarius is Sagittarius followed by Capricorn, Aquarius and so on until Scorpio, the last duad of Sagittarius.

The first duad of Capricorn is Capricorn, followed by Aquarius and so on until the last duad of Capricorn – Sagittarius. The use of duads introduces a small but important idiosyncrasy. The last duad in Sagittarius is Scorpio, the first duad in Capricorn is Capricorn. There is a `missing’ Sagittarius duad, between the Scorpio duad in Sagittarius and the Capricorn duad in Capricorn. It is not really missing, it is an idiosyncrasy of the applications of duads to signs.

So assuming by progression someone’s ascendant was within 2 ½ degrees of the cusp of two signs, for example the Sagittarius-Capricorn cusp, then one of two scenarios would come into play. If at the end of Sagittarius, the sign is Sagittarius, the decan is Leo, and the duad is Scorpio. If however the progression is in the first 2 ½ degrees of Capricorn, the sign is Capricorn, the decan is Capricorn and the duad is Capricorn. The former shows the influence of Sagittarius, Leo and Scorpio while the latter shows only Capricorn. This Capricorn is theoretically three times `stronger’ then either of the Sagittarius, Leo or Scorpio found at the end of Sagittarius.

The critical piece of information is that by nature a sign is `weakest’ at its end and `strongest’ at its beginning. In over 25 years of utilising duads in progressions I have never experience a `cuspal' merging of the energies of two adjoining signs. However I have clearly perceived the action of duads. In the last duad of Sagittarius, no Capricorn `manifests’. Capricorn only appears on the scene when the sun or ascendant progresses into the Capricorn duad.

The situation is different when observing the earlier sign in a cusp situation. For example when a progression enters a Libran duad, a person is very likely to enter into a major relationship or partnership, reinvigorate a major relationship or get divorced. Once the Libran duad is passed over and the next duad is encountered this does not mean the recently married person will stop their relationship or that the recently divorced person will reconcile with their former partner. The energy of a sign will usually `linger’ past its time.

The relevance of duads and their properties in progressions to precessional ages is very strong. If 30 odd years is a long time in progressions, enough to stimulate the 12th harmonic (1/12th division) of each sign into duads, then what can be expected with a precessional age that lasts approximately 2,150 years? What can be expected is that these duads also have their place in precessional ages.

Thirteen years of research into precessional; ages has conclusively indicated to me that the precessional ages have very clear, concise and observable duads lasting approximately 179 years each. However there is a catch. Due to the `retrograde’ motion of the precession of the equinoxes, the ages go backwards. This is why the world had to wait for the end of the Pisces Age before the Aquarian Age could arrive. Because of this retrograde motion, the shift from the Pisces Age to the Aquarian Age has Pisces `peaking’. The entry into the Aquarian Age is by the backdoor - where Aquarius is at its lowest strength.

At the end of the Pisces Age, the world is in the Pisces Age, the Pisces Decan of the Pisces Age and the Pisces Duad Sub-Age (duad) of the Pisces Age. Upon entry into the Aquarian Age the Age is Aquarius, the Age-Decan is Libra and the Sub-Age is Capricorn. Also Pisces will `linger’ on into the Aquarian Age as it would have set so many Piscean trains in motion, that these can be expected to continue, especially considering that Pisces was really pumping at its close.

In my research I have extensively examined the lingering influence from one age to the next and from one age-decan (approximately 717 years each) to the next. I have also examined this lingering experience from one sub-age to the next. This phenomenon is so clear and observable that I call it the Overflow Principle or Overflow Effect. Based on previous cusps between ages and age-decans it is often easier to observe the Overflow from the previous sign then the observable events of the new and upcoming sign.

This can be applied to the Pisces-Aquarian Ages cusp. No matter which side of the cusp the world is currently residing, the key sign will remain Pisces. There is a very good argument that Pisces will remain a key sign for around 2,000 years after it has finished due to the Overflow Effect. No matter when the Aquarian Age begins, it will not be pumping for almost another 2,000 years when it finally reaches the Aquarian Sub-Age of the Aquarian Decan of the Aquarian Age.

From the Aquarian perspective, the new Aquarian Age is an anti-climax as it actually is the proclamation of a time when Pisces is at its peak. This does not mean that Aquarius does not rear its head and start making a change or two. However it does so overshadowed by Pisces. This is why many astrologers have so much trouble deciphering which age the world is currently in, because with an overpowering Pisces plus the new upstart Aquarius, at the lowest point of its cycle, are manifesting side by side.

If the above arguments hold true and if it is accepted that both Pisces and Aquarius are currently manifesting, this indicates only one thing – the Aquarian Age has arrived! There is only one logical reason why Aquarius should manifest before its time – if the world encountered a 179 year Aquarian Sub-Age while in the Pisces Age. Unfortunately the Aquarian Sub-Age of the Pisces Age was the first cab off the rank, and was making itself felt some 2000 years prior to the end of the Pisces Age.

This also points towards another idiosyncrasy of the precessional ages. The first sub-age in any age is the same as the next age encountered. The first sub-age of the Aries Age was the Pisces Sub-Age. The first sub-age of the Pisces Ages was the Aquarius Sub-Age. The first sub-age of the Aquarius Age is the Capricorn Sub-Age and so on. These little sub-ages give a foretaste of the distant age to come.

The foretaste the Aquarian Sub-Age of the Age of Pisces gave the world was principally the inspiration of the ancient Greeks. Suddenly the Greeks decided they could rationalise the workings of the universe and the physical forces within it without depending upon the pantheon of gods. Democratic institutions and laws oscillated with tyrants in the control of Greek city-states. Classical Greece saw the enfranchisement of more people into the political process. Homosexuality amongst men and women was accepted by society. The yoga-practicing vegetarian Pythagorean School claimed they could explain the universe through mathematics.

Outside of Greece two new religions commenced – Zorastorism and Buddhism. A key platform of each was free will and the concept that `salvation’ was not limited to the priest but that everyone had the same opportunity. In China Confucius was promoting the respect of governments towards the `lower’ classes.

Appropriate for Aquarius, genethliacal astrology first appeared in those times using elementary natal charts that obviously lead to the modern natal chart used today. This was a monumental change. Until this period, proto-astrology was limited to mundane events such as `Venus in the west with Mars will bring pestilence, drought, success in war’ - or some other nationwide result.

The spirit of the Greeks and formative religions of the time have the Aquarian trademark stamped all over them. This does not mean this Aquarian Sub-Age did not affect societies around the world, it just meant that the ancient Greeks had the most noticeable response to it. Whenever sudden shifts towards democracy, freedom, sexual liberation, brilliant ideas and concepts plus excitement take place, Aquarius can always be seen lurking in the neighbourhood.

Of course, this ancient Aquarian Sub-Age appeared as the first sub-age of the then new Pisces Age, cowering under the onslaught of the fiery Aries Age Overflow. For approximately 2,150 years under the Aries Age, war was introduced into human society as a fact of life. The Overflow from the Aries Age brought almost unabated warfare to the populous world right up until the mid 20th Century. There is a very good reason why warfare, as the norm, may be in for a long-term decline since the mid 20th Century. Astrology, like physics, abhors a vacuum, so other problems will fill in place of warfare.

To understand this reason requires three things. Firstly the application of the knowledge of the overflows from the cusps of ages, age-decans and sub-ages. Secondly the use of smaller divisions than the 12th harmonic. Thirdly, the rectification of ages and historical events.

The application of the overflow from the cusp of any two ages, age-decans, sub-ages has already been introduced. The use of duads to create sub-ages has also been discussed, but even a sub-age of approximately 179 years is still incredibly long. I discovered early in my research that sub-ages could be further divided into three decans of approximately 60 years each and simultaneously into 12 parts of approximately 15 years each. These 15 years periods I call micro-ages. These micro-ages are actually the 144th harmonic.

The application of micro-ages and sub-ages to each precessional age, plus the related decans provided an unprecedented tool for rectifying the ages to historical events, including the Age of Aquarius. Determining when a 2,150 years age commences is difficult, but a 179 years sub-age is easier to locate. Once the 179 years sub-ages are approximately located, micro-ages provide the fine-tuning. Furthermore, the idiosyncrasy of the `missing’ micro-age or sub-age on the cusp of sub-ages or ages respectively confirms the sign of the parent sub-age or age. Because micro-ages are only 15 years long, the maximum error in determining the start of any age is only 15 years.

Utilising the above approach, I am only able to locate whole ages up to an including the Taurus Age due to lack of historical accuracy before 1000BC. Within the Age of Aries I am able to locate age-decans of approximately 717 years each. Commencing with the Pisces Age I am able to locate any of the sub-ages without much difficulty. By around 1500AD I can locate down to sub-age-decans of approximately 60 years each. By the 1800’s I can locate micro-ages of approximately 15 years each up until the present. I have been unable to locate micro-age-decans of approximately 5 years each, but some evidence for their existence is slowly materialising.

The combination of ages, age-decans, sub-ages, sub-age-decans and micro-ages that can be applied to any time is awesome. To get the correct `fit’ is like winning the lottery. I have discovered that one, and only one rectification fits. This is a rectification that has the Aquarian Age commencing within 15 years of 1462AD. This rectification works on every level.

The details about this rectification were published in `The FAA Journal’ Vol 25 No. 2 June 1995. The information in that article, plus electronic versions of other published articles and unpublished research is available on the Macro-Astrology Research Center website at http://communities.msn.com/MacroAstrologyResearchCentre/

Based on the above rectification, the world has recently shifted (i.e. in the last 10 to 15 years) from the Scorpio Sub-Age to the Libra Sub-Age of the Age of Aquarius. A macro-astrology `table’ for 2001 is as follows:

  Period Overflow
Age Aquarius Pisces
Age-Decan Libra Pisces
Sub-Age Libra Scorpio
Sub-Age-Decan Gemini Scorpio
Micro-Age Virgo Scorpio

There are many inferences that can be drawn from the above table, especially with knowledge of previous and future tables. However the main point I wish to extract from this chart is that the world is entering a period of time when the first barrier or counter-force to the war-mongering Aries Age Overflow is in the final stage of achieving its greatest potency. However we will not be alive to experience it in full bloom.

The recent move into the Libran Sub-Age of the Aquarius Age indicates that over the next 180 years, the Libran-Decan of the Aquarius Age will reach its peak. Libra is opposite Aries. This is the first opposition by Libra of any serious magnitude since the Aries Age. The Overflow from the Aries Age had to pass over a 179 years Libran Sub-Age of the Pisces Age (c.22AD – 203AD), but this would not have raised the eyebrows of Aries’ ruler Mars, the god of war.

It can be expected that Libran attributes will continue to flower in the coming centuries (i.e. post 2179AD). Apart from being opposite Aries and thus opposite war, Libra will continue to promote the status and respect accorded to women that has been developing over the last couple of centuries. Libra is the sign of balance so a balancing act between the sexes is in progress. The appreciation of all thing aesthetic will increase such as art, music, theatre, comfort and luxuries. People want a comfortable existence and war has the tendency to destroy this. The trend will be towards political compromise rather than war.

Libra does rule opposition, and the budding strength of Libra will see another polarisation of politics in the world. Europe has a natural tendency for division. The initial division from the peak of the Pisces Age was along religious grounds during the Reformation. Divisions based on the Eastern Communist Bloc versus the Western democracies such as in the Cold War was the result of a direct Pisces boost - the Pisces Sub-Age-Decan of the Scorpio Sub-Age (c.1878 – 1936) with the Overflow extending this to the end of the 20th Century. The new Libra polarisation will most likely be between Libran rules Asia, especially China, and the West.

However this should not topple the USA. The USA was born of the Pisces Age Overflow (commencing 1462AD) in the same way that Rome was born of the Aries Age Overflow (commencing c.702BC) and Egypt of the Taurus Age Overflow (c.2886BC). A good argument could be tendered that Sumer (Mesopotamia) was born of the Gemini Age Overflow (c.5092BC). It must be remembered that Europe is Pisces, and that USA is a `child’ of Europe. Within years of the start of the Pisces Age Overflow (c.1462 AD), America was discovered by the Europeans and the whole train was put in motion that led to the USA of today. The USA may have to learn to share its `leadership’ role in the coming centuries.

There are other macro-astrological indicators indicating minor wars, military tension and vindictive strikes in the current century. Then next 15 years is one of only two periods in this century where the Fire element makes an appearance, and wherever there is Fire, the flames of military conflict are fanned. However the major developing problem is the pollution born of the Scorpio Sub-Age. On the mundane level Scorpio rules the world’s excrement, and the critical issue of pollution developed soundly in the Scorpio Sub-Age (1820-1994). The world is now under the developing impact of its overflow. It is unlikely that we will see in our lifetimes the successful solution to pollution – this is at least two centuries away, if not three. Pollution is not the only issue the world will have to grapple within the coming two centuries.

Once macro-astrology is mastered, the future unfolds like the past. It is the most global astrology available, yet only requires elementary astrological knowledge. Combining the twelve zodiacal signs with ages, sub-ages, micro-ages and their decans, and assimilating the understanding of the overflow from any period is all the astrological knowledge that is required. The other major requirement is a good grasp of history.


Donald A MacKenzie, “Mythology of the Babylonian People”, Bracken Books, London, 1915, Pg. 322
Robert Hand, ‘On the Invariance of the Tropical Zodiac’, `The FAA Journal’, September 1997, Pg. 40