Have you heard of a book called ‘The Fourth Turning’?
The Authors Neil Howe and William Strauss describe a concept called the ‘Saeculum’. It is an ancient unit of time that spans roughly 80 to 100 years. The idea is that the cycle of human affairs approximates the length of a long human life, with four phases during this time period each around 20-25 years long. As a follower of a cyclical approach using the Moon cycle, there are clear reflections and similarities with this bigger, longer cycle.
They wrote this book in 1997 and since then, historical events have supported their theory, and right now, we are coming to the end of a ‘crisis’ phase. I hope that by sharing this, it will give some understanding of the cyclical nature of history and just like all cycles, there has to be a low point, but it isn’t the ending, it ultimately leads to a new beginning.
In each of these 4 phases, the generation coming of age generally adopts similar characteristics and they call them:
Looking at the generations we still have around, we have the GIs who fought World War II, a silent generation that followed GI contemporaries (Artists) and then boomers who were born right after that war (Prophets). They were followed by Generation X- 1961 and 1981 (Nomads), and then millennials (Heroes).
Using American History as an example, we can see below how these have played out since 1704. We are currently in a cycle that began in 1946 and many predict to end between 2025 and 2030.
These are the timings of the current cycle we are in that begin in 1946:
America as a country literally just had it’s Pluto Return (on- Pluto takes just over 248 years to complete a cycle, and it’s return can herald major changes- Pluto destroys what no longer serves us and creates a new path forward.
The trends are easy to read and are a reflection of previous eras of history. During a Crisis Turning, the outer world of power and politics is completely rearranged. The old paradigm dies making way for anew.
If you want to read more about this, there are some great in-depth articles online:
What do you think? The last 2 years we have been through could be the start of the end of this current Turning and herald a new cycle to begin.
The historian William McNeill wrote in ‘Plagues and Peoples’ that pandemics come after an era of overwhelming openness, which they mark the end of. The Bubonic plague, the Spanish Flu and the covid pandemic show that to be true.
And the author of the Fourth Turning book, Neil Howe asserts that one absolute rule of history is that crisis eras are marked by “large, dictatorial, authoritarian and intrusive regimes. No exceptions.”