The Aquarian Conspiracy
Title of a 1980 book by Marilyn Ferguson. The title became
a catchword to describe a new consciousness revolution involving
a leaderless network of many enlightened individuals to
bring about radical change in modern culture, based on a
greatly enlarged concept of human potential. The book is subtitled
Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s, and in her
introduction, Ferguson explains her reasons for the choice of
the term ‘‘conspiracy,’’ which she uses in a positive sense.
In 1975 she founded a twice-monthly newsletter, BrainMind
Bulletin, concerned with research and theory in the fields of
learning, health, psychiatry, psychology, states of consciousness,
meditation, and related subjects. The newsletter became
a focus for other individuals exploring the same territories of
experience, and Ferguson began to travel the U.S. to meet such
individuals, attend conferences, and deliver lectures. She became
aware of a transformative movement involving social
change stemming from the personal transformation of individuals
in all walks of society, which she discussed in BrainMind
Bulletin (January 1976) (now known as New Sense)in her editorial,
‘‘The Movement that Has No Name.’’ Ferguson claimed
that the conspiracy had infected ‘‘medicine, education, social
science, hard science, even government with its implications. It
is characterized by fluid organizations reluctant to create hierarchical
structures, averse to dogma. It operates on the principle
that change can only be facilitated, not decreed. It is short
on manifestos. It seems to speak to something very old. And
perhaps, by integrating magic and science, art and technology,
it will succeed where all the king’s horses and all the king’s men
When writing her book about this new movement, Ferguson
felt that the subtle links and mutual recognition among enlightened
individuals implied something of an undeclared collusion.
She was initially reluctant to use the term ‘‘conspiracy’’
because of its negative connotations until she saw a book of
spiritual exercises in which Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis
said that he wished to signal his comrades ‘‘like conspirators’’
that they might unite for the sake of the earth. The next day
she read a report in the Los Angeles Times about a speech by
Pierre Trudeau, in which he quoted a passage from French Jesuit
priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin urging a ‘‘conspiracy of
love.’’ As Ferguson points out, the literal meaning of the word
‘‘conspiracy’’ is ‘‘to breathe together.’’ Even before her book
was published, the use of this term produced friendly correspondence
from individuals who signed themselves ‘‘coconspirators.’’
In the Aquarian Age ferment of the 1960s, there was a widespread
emphasis on the more sensational aspects of the occult,
but as this has subsided, there are signs of a more integrated
and mature approach to personal transformation, loosely
based on enhanced consciousness on the one hand and holistic
approaches to physical health on the other. The term Aquarian
Conspiracy has been widely quoted to characterize this widespread
Ferguson, Marilyn. The Aquarian Conspiracy Personal and Social
Transformation in Our Time. Los Angeles J. P. Tarcher
Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

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