A more or less Elysian summer has slid past very rapidly, as time tends to do on the island, and the work of the new year starts for real next week.
We seem to have been herded away from New Year resolutions, as we have from many of the annual social and religious constructs that reminded us of the big picture to life. It never was about quitting smoking or losing some kilos. A resolution to be kinder, or more grateful, or just more interested in the neighbourhood isn’t a key performance indicator to be won or lost and tossed into limbo. These are creative intentions burnishing up our appreciation of life; collective mantras against dullness and indifference. To be honoured.
So while I am proposing it was fine to savour the different rhythms of high summer, it seems now is a proper time for new, personal New Year stocktakes and reflection on how we collectively meet the challenges of a year that will be a wild ride.
How can it not be? It has already seen all the planet’s richest men gathering at Davos to divide up their spoils, the Middle East in flames and an extraordinary number of reprehensible tyrants set to smash their way to power in unhealthy elections scheduled for the year.
With an almost sublime indifference, we learn that five men own or control nearly half the world’s money, stocks and shares. The lot.
Amidst this chaos, on Tuesday this week we passed into the Age of Aquarius 2024.
I should say at the outset that I am no astrologist. I actively avoid future-tellers, don’t read horoscopes and cannot tell you the star signs of even my nearest and dearest. These are things one looks up if you need them. But the Age of Aquarius is a touchstone of mine.
We first glimpsed it when we and well-travelled friends signed up for the whole exciting possibility of a more dynamic epoch from seats high in the gods of the Civic Theatre in the 1960s.
The air around us was electric, the possibilities for the talismanic Age of Aquarius soaring and, around us, the exotic, unmistakeable aroma of a yak-skin jacket our friends had brought back from Tibet in the course of a long overland trip home from Britain across Europe and Central Asia in their doughty Land Rover. The fetters of class and conformity were falling away. The world was, for a time, for the young.
Margaret Thatcher, Robert Muldoon , Rogernomics and global markets rooted out all that nonsense 10 years later
Aquarius is a sign with the energy of collective vibrations, community organisation and social inclusion. Also daring and intensity.
Apparently, the conjunction of Sun and Pluto entered this Aquarian 2024 season almost simultaneously on 20 January, promising a massive energetic shift, the dawn of a new era and radical transformation. An old, well-known chapter of our life is coming to an end: we are ready to move on to the next one, knowing what we leave behind but not what we are going to find on our path.
The sun will remain in Aquarius until 18 February, while Pluto – the Planet of Destruction, Death and Rebirth – is staying in the sign until 1 September 2024, before retrograding back to Capricorn, coming back to Aquarius again on 19 November. It will remain in the sign until 2044.
It promises a potent energy of closure. The invitation for us is to keep searching and learning, keep an open mind and an open heart, and make sure we do so without expectations, a goal, or an agenda. Without trying to control or force an outcome.
Too Polly-Anna? Too simple for our complicated minds?
The world’s five richest men have more than doubled their fortunes to $869bn (£681.5bn) since 2020, while its poorest 60 percent – almost 5 billion people – have lost money, according to an Oxfam report as the world’s richest gathered for the annual World Economic Forum meeting of political leaders, corporate executives and the super-rich.
The yawning gap between rich and poor is likely to increase, and will lead to the world crowning its first trillionaire within a decade, it said. At the same time, it warns, if current trends continue, world poverty will not be eradicated for another 229 years.
We can choose the colour of life and get aboard for the ride or we can stand meekly ready to applaud when one of the fortunate five is crowned the planet’s first trillionaire.
Mahatma Gandhi said that commerce without morality would kill us. Now it actually is.
• Liz Waters