The new principalities and powers #2: The mythical generations

Astrology has its mysteries, but at least it makes life nice and simple. There are 12 signs in the zodiac, and so, depending upon when you are born, your life is somehow determined by your sign.

When I say ‘nice and simple’, of course it gets more complicated than that. There are the planets, and whether or not they are crossing a certain quadrant of the heavens, and how they are sitting with the fixed stars. There are the wandering stars that do the dosey-do into the territory of the fixed stars. And don’t forget the sun, the moon, and the regions below the moon and the regions above it. The experts could tell us even more ‘spaces’—the ‘height’ and the ‘depth’ of the heavens. All these spaces were populated with their own kinds of beings—astrological ‘principalities and powers’, the cosmic forces that controll our destiny.

So what is simple about all that? I am depressed, oppressed and almost obsessed with already! With all that going on above me, how can I hope to know how to act in my mundane life here on the surface of the earth? What should I do today? What will happen to me tomorrow? In the midst of all my anxieties and fears (anxieties about my life, which I have even before I talked to the astrologer about his world picture!), can I really know my destiny in such a universe?

“Okay”, says the astrologer. “Calm down! Don’t fear! It is really quite simple. No matter how many people in the world, there are really only 12 kinds. It is simple to identify your kind: tell me when you were born. Once we know your kind, we can tell you the type of person you are—in your attitudes, thinking patterns, psychological make-up, and the like. Then we can go to the extra stuff (led by my expertise, of course), and give you a reading that will tell you your future. Relax, settle in, soak in the simplicity.”

Mr Astrologer messes with my head. Once I know his 12 profiles, I begin to see people fitting into them. (“Hey, when is your birthday? March 10? Hmm, Pisces the fish. Let me think: you like swimming?”) This stuff—astrology—seems to make sense of the world. Sure, the reading for the future didn’t come true in the same way that I thought it would at the time, but if I squint my eyes and reconfigure this event and that, then—hey! Why didn’t I see it before?

There are millions of people in the world. The ancient astrologer gives us the simplicity of only 12 ‘principalities and powers’ that controll your destiny.

Our contemporary social commentators have made it even simpler. Enter the new ‘Generations’: “When were you born? Oh, so you’re a ‘baby-boomer’/Generation X/Generation Y/Generation Z.” At this point, we are a little stuck. Even though the ‘X’ originally stood for a generation rather empty and undefined in the wake of the boomers who had it all, some more linear thinker took it as a part of the alphabetical sequence and, all I can say is, the world better end before Generation Z has kids.

The ancient astrologer had to know the characteristics of 12 types, but the contemporary Gen-ologist (and why does it always seem to be someone who didn’t get on with their father???) only needs to know four. Forget all those superstitious variations of planetary interference, and fixed and wandering stars introducing an element of variety into the picture; a baby boomer is a baby boomer (albeit early or late). Generation X is whatever it is—as undefined by the boomers before them as it is by Generation Y after them. There is no variety here. The stereotyping that was declared an evil during the fight against racism is entirely legitimate, true, right, and the only way when it comes to the new Generations. No variety is needed here. All I need is your birthday or a good estimation of your age.

Our Gen-ologist can point to characteristics and tendencies, and, “Woah! It is uncanny—this stuff seems to work!” It seems we are determined by when we are born—by the forces and factors larger than ourselves that shape and control our destiny—by the new principalities and powers.

2 thoughts on “The new principalities and powers #2: The mythical generations

  1. Peter,

    You may or may not be happy to know that Dr. Seuss wrote a whole book about the alphabet that comes after “Z” entitled, “Beyond Zebra.”  smile

  2. In Excel spreadsheets, once you go past ‘Z’, you go to ‘AA’. This seems strangely prophetic.

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