The Great Year in Astronomy

Let’s make the not-so-far-fetched assumption that our Sun is in a binary star relationship (read my article, “Applying Occam’s Razor to Astronomy“). What does that mean for us, if anything? Possibly a lot.

The term “Great Year” is defined by NASA as “the period of one complete cycle of the equinoxes around the ecliptic, about 25,800 years…” More simply, this is the period of time it takes for the equinoxes to rotate through the twelve constellations (ex – Aquarius, Capricorn, Sagitarius, etc., …arriving back at Aquarius). For a person who holds that our Sun is part of a binary system, this is also the amount of time that it takes our Sun to rotate around its’ partner star.

The Greeks, the Vedic Indians, the Hopi, the Aztecs and the Mayans all had a concept of a Great Year, as well as attendant cycles of civilization in which human society rises and falls over the 26,000-year period. In ancient Greece, it is thought that Ovid and Hesiod borrowed from the Egyptians when they wrote of the Five Ages of man. Plato referred to the Great Year as the “Perfect Year” (some people now refer to the Great Year as the “Platonic Year” in his honor) and described four ages of humanity: the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. The Golden Age –the highpoint of civilization- is described as a time when peace and harmony prevailed, and when men were good and noble. Conditions steadily deteriorate as we pass through the ages finally arriving at the Iron Age when humans live an existence of toil and misery. In both Aztec and Mayan cosmology, we are living in the age of the Fifth Sun. The Hopi believe we are living in the Fourth World, having been kicked out of the previous three worlds for misbehavior.

It is in the ancient texts of the Indian Vedas, however, where we find both the most detail and writings that specifically link cycles of civilization to the Great Year. The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India (ca. 1750 – 500 BC), and are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. The Vedas divide the Great Year into a four-age cycle, which repeats like seasons of the year. The cycles – called Yugas – last for varying numbers of years, and influence the development of human consciousness:

Kali Yuga (a dark age): Lasts 1,200 years; the knowledge and power of humans is confined to gross matter; our minds are centered on material issues.

Dwapar Yuga: Lasts 2, 400 years; humans gain knowledge of electrical forces as well as other finer forms of energy.

Treta Yuga: Lasts 3,600 years; humans gain knowledge of universal magnetism, the source of positive, negative and neutralizing electricities, and the poles of attraction and repulsion.

Satya Yuga (the high Golden Age): Lasts 4,800 years. Humans have the understanding of the source of universal magnetism with its principle of duality or polarity, as well as vibration.  This is an age of enlightenment.

1024px-Yugas-Ages-based-on-Sri-YukteswarIf we visualize a clock, the period between noon and 6:00 p.m. represents 12, 000 years, as does the period between 6:00 p.m. and midnight. Together, they correspond to the 24,000 years of the Great Year. The Yugas are arranged about the face of the clock, each Yuga occurring once in each 12,000-year period.   From noon to 6:00 p.m. the Yugas descend from best to worst, and from 6:00 p.m. to midnight the Yugas ascend from worst to best, making it seem that the dark ages (Kali Yuga) lasts 2,400 years, and that the high Golden Age (Satya Yuga) lasts 9,600 years.

This is pretty advanced stuff for texts that are thousands of years old. But how could the Earth’s position vis-a-vis the Great Year affect human development and civilizations?

The answer comes in three parts. First is the contention of Walter Cruttenden, who in his book, Lost Star of Myth and Time states “As our Sun moves in a vast orbit around its companion star, it carries the Earth in and out of a magnetic or electromagnetic field that impacts live on a grand scale.” It’s common knowledge that solar flares from our Sun affect us here on Earth, but can we be affected by celestial objects from much farther away?

The second part of our answer says yes. In 1979 our Solar System was hit by a blast of gamma radiation that originated in a star that had gone supernova around 3,000 B.C. The gamma radiation readings – corroborated by the Helio 2, the Pioneer Venus Orbiter, U.S. DOD Vela satellites, the Soviet Prognoz 7 satellite, the Einstein Observatory and the International Earth-Sun Explorer – rose from a normal count of 100 per second to over 200,00 per second, in only a fraction of a millisecond.  In 1998 Earth received a solar blast from a neutron star (SGR 1900+14) located 45,000 light years away that produced measureable change in the Earth’s ionosphere.

Whether people are affected by these unseen forces constitutes part three of our answer. Dr. Valerie Hunt (now deceased) was a scientist, author, lecturer and Professor Emeritus of Physiological Science at UCLA. Dr. FaradaycoverageHunt conducted pioneering studies at UCLA in which she investigated how changes in energy fields affect human behavior. Using the “Mu Room” (a room shielded from electrostatic interference akin to a Faraday Cage) in UCLA’s Physics Department, she documented that her human subjects would often burst into tears when electromagnetism in the air was depleted, and regained a sense of well-being when the electromagnetism was increased.  In her book, Infinite Mind: Science of the Human Vibrations of Consciousness, she wrote: “When the electromagnetism in the air was depleted…the subjects burst into tears and sobbed, an experience unlike these people had ever endured.  Although they reported that they were not sad, their bodies responded as though they were threatened.  …When the electrical field of the room was increased beyond the usual level,….the subjects’ thinking became clear and they reported an expansion of their consciousness.”  Dr. Hunt also described how when the electrical field was kept at normal levels but the magnetic field was increased to higher than normal levels, “…subjects would stand easily on one foot, even on tiptoes, or lean to previously impossible angles without falling.  Motor coordination had somehow improved.”

Taken together, and assuming that our solar system is part of a binary star system, it’s entirely possible that human behavior, development and civilizations could all be affected as we  move closer or farther away from our Sun’s partner star and its attendant electrical and magnetic fields.

If all this is true, does it really matter? Understanding that human development and civilization is actually affected by a 24,000-year cycle would help archeologists more accurately decipher ancient history. For example, it would help explain why the Pyramid of Giza, the first and most ancient of the Egyptian pyramids, was the most architecturally advanced of all the pyramids built in Egypt – the pyramids built during the following 1,000 years appear shabby in comparison. It would help archeologists be open to the idea that, yes, there were ancient civilizations (the Indus Valley Civilization of 2600-1900 BC, the Minoans of 2700-1500 BC) that had running water and plumbing.  It would cause anthropologist to more closely study the “myths” of various cultures that all talk of a long ago golden age when people had special powers and lived for hundreds of years.  A 24,000-year cycle would show that civilization doesn’t necessarily evolve forward.

On a personal level, however, whether and how the passing of the Earth through the Great Year affects human civilization seems to matter little. I admit the concept is interesting.  However, it it’s true, it’s also happening on so grand a scale that we will never see its effects.  So I asked, “What’s the point for the average person?”  Walter Cruttenden’s reply:

“Studies of amnesia patients show they not only don’t remember the past, they often live withArms Raised anxiety and are unable to plan for the future.  So it is with the entire human race.  We have forgotten our brilliant and beautiful past and write it off to myth or fairy tales.  If we can begin to wake up from our delusion that any civilization that came before us must be more primitive, and instead look to our ancestors in a long lost higher age as teachers of wisdom, it has the potential for healing on a global scale.  It will lead to a rapid evolution in the understanding of nearly everything.”

I pointed out if our solar system was indeed subject to the cycles of a Great Year with its attendant Yugas, there would be little advantage to people to try and evolve – we are all stuck under the influence of whatever Yuga we are in.  Walter Cruttenden then brought up the subject of cycles.  We have cycles of day and night, but people have invented things like flashlights and electricity to light their way in the dark.  We have cycles of summer and winter, but people build greenhouses and storage facilities to ensure that all have nourishment throughout the cold times.  While civilization as a whole is subject to the Great Year cycle, individuals can take steps to advance their own development and to contribute to a higher-level life experience.

And it might give us hope. According to Vedic specialists, we are at about the 7:00 p.m. point on the Yuga clock – about 320 years into the Dwapar Yuga. So over the next 10,000 or so years, things should be steadily looking up!



The “Faraday Cagematch” funny is courtesy of

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  1. Why do different groups of people who exist at the same moment progress at different levels? Aren’t we all exposed to the same environment? What are the variables that would make different rates of consciousness development occur? I am missing something.

  2. Swami Sri Yukteswar wrote “The Holy Science” in 1894 to explain both the Yuga system and the “essential unity of all religions” to westerners. In this somewhat-difficult-to-understand book, the Swami explains that people can advance more quickly through eating healthy food (he championed vegetarianism), living in a healthy place, yoga, meditation, firmness of moral character, forming friendships with individuals who are of similarly high character, and paying attention to one’s spiritual health. In other words, no matter where we are in the Yuga cycle, always striving to be a better person makes you a flashlight in the dark.

  3. Thank you for the Amazing site! amazing thought provoking articles! One day I hope to be in this line of work 🙂

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