The Recurring Cycles of Life & Brief Overview of Symbolic Taurus
Short Talk 15 April 2017
Novus Veteris Lodge U.˙. D.˙.
The concept of life being a series of cycles is something that appears throughout nature. A question that is often raised is does what we see around us in nature, also apply in our personal and corporate lives? This short talk will review some of these questions and interesting correlations for the individual Mason to consider. Add to this will be a brief overview of the symbolic nature represented by the celestial formation known as Taurus As always these are points of consideration and discussion for each Mason to assist in improving themselves and evaluating the future.
The Hebrew book of Ecclesiastes states that to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. A season is a cycle or a portion of time where an event or series of events occur. It may be the cycle like the rotation of the moon around the earth, the earth around the sun, the sun around the galaxy, etc. Or the cycle of a human’s physiology, most notably that of the female reproductive/hormonal cycle but no less is there also one for the male with corresponding changes in emotions and feelings. George A Miller of Princeton University (unconfirmed Mason) published one of the most quoted articles in psychology “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits for Our Capacity for Processing Information”. This article discusses how an individual can only hold in their conscience 7 +/- 2 concepts, events, or ideas at one time and must cycle in and out new items. This cycle/season concept of seven carries through art, the environment, and science. Last meeting we briefly reviewed the significance of the number seven in Masonry and how great the impact is within our tradition and work within the Lodge. This begs the question do these same principals also apply “out of the Lodge” and in the world we live in? Bro W.D. Gann in the first half of the 20th century applied this cycle concept and associated mathematics to the behavior of the commodity and security markets with great success. One enduring rumor is that much of the Shriner’s hospital founding capital came from Bro Gann, the equivalent of more than $1 billion!
Brother William Strauss and Neil Howe wrote a book in the late 1990s that applied cycle theory to history, particularly Western Civilization seeking to find “time cycle” consistencies in historic occurrences. The result of their work became a national bestseller, “The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tells Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny.” I would highly recommend reading this somewhat “text book” style presentation. Time does not permit me to go into detail as to the contents but you will find a wealth of supporting documentation and events cited by the authors’ supporting their theory.
The basic concept underlying this book is that once a “generation” is no longer present in a society that the lessons learned, the mistakes made, and experiences of that and previous generation are to be repeated. Even though the historic record exists of the events occurring during these generations, without firsthand knowledge the events and occurrences lose their poignancy. This overall cycle is represented by a time period of approximately 4 generations or on average about 84 years though this is not an exact number. The authors refer to this as the “Wheel of Time” indicating the circular/cycle nature of mankind’s experiences. This also represents the same number of years of the planet Uranus orbit of the Sun. Comparison of events cited in the book combined with this planet’s journey is striking and harbors changes that may be soon upon us!
The Four cycles or “Turnings” as the authors refer to them, are a repeating occurrence. If this theory is to be embraced, then our society is at the end of the 4th Turning and preparing for events that, in the past, have been defined by war and destruction on a global scale. But there is hope as a new cycle will follow to rebuild and reestablish the world. This scenario is much like the Greek mythology of Sisyphus and his never ending task or “cycle” of rolling a stone up a hill only having it fall back and the process repeated. Here is a recap from the book on each cycle.
“The First Turning is classified as a “HIGH” and being a renaissance to community life. With the new cycle order in place, people want to put the Crisis of the last cycle behind them and feel content about what they have collectively achieved. Any social issue left unresolved by the Crisis must now remain so. The need for dutiful sacrifice has ebbed, yet the society continues to demand order and consensus. The recent fear for group survival transmutes into a desire for investments, growth, and strength- which in turn produces an era of commercial prosperity, intuitional solidarity, and political stability. Security is a paramount need.
The Second Turning. An Awakening arrives with a dramatic challenge against the High’s assumption about benevolent reason and congenial institutions. The outer world now feels trivial compared to the inner world. A society searches for soul over science, meanings over things. Youth fired attacks break out against the established institutional order. People stop believing that social progress requires collective discipline. A euphoric enthusiasm over spiritual needs eclipses concern over secular problems, contributing to a high tolerance to risk prone behaviors and lifestyles.
The Third Turning. An unraveling begins as a society wide embrace of the liberating cultural forces set loose by the Awakening. People have had their fill of spiritual rebirth, moral protest, and lifestyle experimentation. Content with what they have become they vigorously assert an ethos of pragmatism, self-reliance, laissez-faire, and a national (or sectional or ethnic) chauvinism. While personal satisfaction is high, public trust ebbs amid a fragmenting culture seeking lifestyles coexist with a decline in public tolerance for aberrant personal behavior.
The Forth Turning is a crisis that arises in response to sudden threat(s) that previously would have been ignored or deferred, but now perceived as dire. Great worldly perils boil off the clutter and complexity of life leaving behind one simple imperative: the society must prevail. This requires a solid public consensus, aggressive institutions, and personal sacrifice”.
Today this model would suggest that we are nearing the end of the Forth Cycle around the timeframe of 2024. The book goes into great detail of what this could season could represent and has represented in history. It is not a pretty picture. Having made that statement, this Lodge represents the seeds of the First Turning where men are fundamentally impacted for both the greater and individual good. Exploration of these and many other of these life cycles can build us up as a society and as individual Masons. Be observant and look out to the world and up to the sky so as not to be surprised or caught unaware.
The Sign of Taurus
The Sun enters the sign of the Bull at 10:54 PM PDT on 19 April. The planet Venus is represented with Taurus and in the Lodge is exemplified by the JD. Venus is the planet expressing one of the seven principals of nature the qualities of which include lightness, mindfulness, and clinging affection. How appropriate the role of the JD is in being the voice of Light to the Brethren without the door inviting them to take seats in the Lodge. Brotherly love is also represented by this planet and when taken with all the seven officers an EA Lodge can be properly opened.
Taurus heralded the season of festivals in the ancient world; one of the largest of which coincides with the Christian Easter, which occurs the Sunday after the Full Moon after the Sun has passed into the summer half of the Zodiac. The Bull that is associated with this sign has deep spiritual meaning within the Greek, Indian, Semitic, and Roman worlds. Offering a bull was the highest form of sacrifice by fire. The Bull was associated with cunning, strength and wisdom. Even today bull fighting in held in high esteem in many Latin cultures where wits are matched and a noble death takes place.
The First Decanate of this sign is associated with the rabbit or hare in flight. In this representation the rabbit is blind and looking to escape catastrophic circumstances in the setting sky associated with fear and materialism. CC Zain states that we should be reminded that running blind from our fear rarely has a good outcome in life.
The Second Decanate is associated with struggle and relates to the story of Jason conquering the brazen footed bull and that of Orion and his struggles. This Deaconate reminds us that not only must we not flee those people, places and things we fear but that the struggle in facing is that element that builds us as men and Masons.
The Third Decanate of Taurus is represented by the word mastership. The Greek story of Phoebus and his son rings true here. The tragic outcome with the son’s inexperience leads to losing control of the team racing across the sky reminds us that care is to be taken in delving into areas of life, physical or spiritual, that we have not grasped unless under the firm hand and supervision of a Master. An EA develops into a FC who rises into becoming a MM. While time is not the judge of maturity and skill, all things must be considered and advancement made based on solid footing, abilities, and responsible actions of the individual.
We are to be encouraged to fully examine ourselves and see how we can continue to improve, benefiting the Lodge and mankind as a whole. One man can make a difference while a group can change the world. Let us be that element of change for good.