The Winter Solstice marks the time when the Sun reaches its most southern point in the sky — the Tropic of Capricorn. It is the time in the Sun’s cycle that is analogous to a New Moon. This powerful day gives us an opportunity to work on a Dark Moon and Sun in high-minded Sagittarius for deep inner work or to eliminate something from our lives. Or we can wait to fire up the cauldron until everything has shifted, the Sun has returned, and the newly-born Sun and Moon have joined the other planets in practical, manifesting Capricorn. In the New Moon chart, five planets are packed into the first fifteen degrees of Capricorn. That is some earthy energy we can put to use for building, manifesting and organizing, as well as setting clear boundaries. It’s intensified by Uranus prodding us for growth and change as it is standing still in the sky. A planet stationing (direct or retrograde) marks an intensification of the planet’s energy, and unpredictable, electrifying, break-the-rules Uranus always makes a pointed statement.
Remember that every magical working is marked to one degree or another by astrology, and has a “birth” chart for the moment the working begins. Starting a working directly at times of shift — New and Full Moons, Solstices and Equinoxes, planetary stations — can give your magic some extra oomph. That said, I do not obsess over getting the “right” planetary alignments for my own magical work, which tends towards either the spontaneous and informal, or long-term working altar setups. Spontaneity has its own magic, and experienced magicians tend to intuitively choose appropriate times for their workings. But if something is important enough to justify planning a ritual, then it’s a good idea to check the astrology, just as you’d check the weather if you were planning an outdoor event. When we look ahead and know the times they are a-changin’ astrologically, then we have a great opportunity to plan a working that can use that energy. This Solstice gives us a chance to hit the reset button and make some major alterations in our lives.
The Cardinal Ingress charts (charts of the Solstices and Equinoxes, the four moments during the year when the Sun reaches zero degrees of a Cardinal sign) are predictive for at least three months ahead. We are looking at a Solstice chart cast for Washington, DC, so the angles and houses will be specific to the USA, but the planetary relationships are globally applicable, and I’ll focus on them in the personal section. Now, let’s take a look at what we can divine about the next three months from this chart. First we'll consider what the chart of the Solstice offers us on an inner level, and then I’ll take a look at it from a predictive perspective for the country.
One of the things astrologers will notice right away about this chart is that a number of planets are in “mutual reception” — which means that two planets are each in a sign the other rules. When there are a lot of mutual receptions in a chart, as here, it’s kind of like a good band — they are tight and focused, and play off of each other’s strengths. So we have Mars and Uranus working together to fight for social justice, while Saturn and Pluto demand that foundations be dug deeply, to withstand the tests of time. Mars also co-rules Scorpio, and Saturn co-rules Aquarius, which means Mars and Saturn are also in mutual reception, giving this particular band a penchant for brutally hard work and the stage presence of a steamroller.
On a personal level, this means we might want to focus on being emotionally flexible enough to bend with circumstance, to handle change and surprises with grace and our full attention and awareness of the values by which we strive to live our lives. These patterns also suggest a real need for self-discipline and practicality, and the ongoing demand of the Uranus-Pluto square to awaken to power, both collective and individual. Keep up with your meditation practices!
Saturn, the Taskmaster, is strong in this chart. (Astrologers: note its disposition of five planets, two mutual receptions, trine to MC, square Neptune, critical degree) This suggests we might want to look closely at the sources and effects of authority in our lives. To whom do you give authority? Who wants to have authority over you? Is there an inner, soul-level, spiritual authority that you claim as your own? It’s also worth looking at your knee-jerk reactions to authority, and searching out any conflicting or simply wrong beliefs you might be carrying around about what authority looks like and how one should react to it. Between Saturn, Uranus and Pluto, we are going to be hearing a lot of riffs on “You are not the boss of me” — and replies of “Oh yes I am”. Power struggles are inevitable, both personally and culturally. Take a close look at your personal sources of power, and how they line up with your values.
“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
The Uranus-Pluto square is very close to exact, which entrenches it for the next three months (the Spring Equinox chart will do the same) so we will continue to see its signature in the news — active, sometimes violent rebellion against oppressive, brutal authority, the empowerment of the individual, profound awareness of material realities and limitations, breakthroughs from limitations, demands for freedom, and the perceived need for enforced order and organization. The militarization of police, endemic racism and misogyny, the use of torture, the ongoing destruction of our shared environment, civil unrest and restriction of civil liberties — all of these are challenges that reflect the Uranus-Pluto square, and each challenge embodies the opportunity for profound and often sudden changes — for better or worse, so make your choices carefully.
It is also worth remembering that Uranus (along with Mercury, which is conjunct Pluto and square Uranus here) rules computer and communications technology, so the Uranus-Pluto square will be very much in evidence in those areas as well. There will continue to be power struggles in virtual reality, including issues of net neutrality, hacktivism, doxxing, cyber-warfare, and freedom of information. The opportunities for freedom, collaboration and teamwork through technology will be extensive as well.
In the Solstice chart cast for the USA, we see a strong emphasis on the labor force and civil service, including the military and the police. The concerns of justice and the people (as opposed to the government and business) are emphasized which suggests that the current upsurge of protests against police racism and militarization will continue. As in the 60s, Black Americans are — will they, nil they — again forced by circumstance into taking the lead in addressing social justice issues that affect us all. Because, make no mistake, racism, like misogyny, is a cancer of the soul that sickens not only those who suffer from it, but everyone around them. You might also remember the words of pastor Niemoller when he opined on the cowardice of German intellectuals in the face of Hitler’s rise to power. Again I suggest you make your choices carefully in the months ahead. They will have long-term consequences.
I also see strong suggestions of various environmental upheavals, and the price of oil will continue to be a major factor in foreign policy decisions. Concerns about sexual violence will also continue to be front and center, and there is a likelihood of violence against children — sexual as well as physical and emotional — making the news.
The law, both in philosophy and its application by the government, will be front and center in the national consciousness, and I think that business law will be of particular concern.
It will be a year of profound changes. If you’d like to know how this year’s astrology is likely to be reflected in your own life, contact me to set up an appointment for a consultation.
Do you remember the story of Odysseus, who had to navigate his ship between the six-headed sea monster, Scylla, and the whirlpool Charybdis? I suspect quite a few of us will be feeling that energy in our lives soon, if we aren’t already, and, as with Odysseus, the only option is to make a choice. Figuring out what action to take means we need to take time to reflect — but not too much time, because events will call us to take action. You’ll need to steer a careful, attentive course through the choices that are presented to you in the upcoming weeks.
The planetary alignment that is energizing these navigational hazards is the station of Saturn and Uranus within less than half a degree of an inconjunct (150 degree) aspect with each other, July 20-21. Saturn in Scorpio is stationing direct, Uranus in Aries, retrograde. The inconjunct is not one of the most powerful aspects, but it packs a punch, and this close, with these two powerful planets almost motionless in the sky and in tight aspect for over a month, I expect it to shake things up a bit. Jupiter will also have moved into Leo a few days before the planetary stations, and Mercury will be out of its shadow from the last retrograde, joined by Venus in Cancer. So the overall energy is going to change fairly dramatically in mid-July.
The chart cast for the moment of the Winter Solstice — when the Sun enters Capricorn — is predictive for the three months ahead, and when the chart is cast for the capital of a country, it is predictive for that entire country. As we spiral in towards the next solsticial shift — from dark to light here in the northern hemisphere, and from light to dark in the southern — we are caught up in planetary energies that demand change, and change often demands the destruction of the old before the new is birthed. It is the light within us — our inner Sun — that gives us the vision, energy, courage and strength to build anew in a world in which hi-tech warfare, critical levels of environmental pollution, catastrophic climate change and resource depletion promise a future very different from our present. The challenges are clear, and the Solstice chart offers us insight into the personal and spiritual strategies we can use to meet these challenges with grace, compassion, and courage.
One of the first things that jumps out of this chart is a complete lack of planets in Air, and a considerable emphasis on Water. Mercury is also retrograde, and in a Water sign. This subdues communication, information exchange, and the open and rational discussion of ideas, while giving free rein to the expression of emotion and the imposition of material authority through the close cooperation of the three authoritarian planets, Mars, Saturn and Pluto. Saturn and Pluto relate to karmic issues in a chart, as does the sign of Scorpio, which is ruled by Mars and Pluto. A lot of us are going to be looking at karmic issues coming home to roost, and struggles on an emotional level that can be exhausting because they are rooted in childhood or past life experiences. We may feel like we’ve been thrown overboard into the waters of deep feeling, and can’t find an island of logic and perspective on which to rest.
The Autumn Equinox is coming up this weekend, so this is a good time to look ahead to the rest of the year, since (as you know if you’ve been reading this blog) charts of the solstices and equinoxes, also called cardinal ingress charts, are predictive for the quarter ahead.
In the last couple of posts, we’ve considered the best ways to work with Uranus as it transits Aries, and Pluto's transit of Capricorn. In this post, we'll look at how to make the experience of the square between them — which will be happening through March of 2015 — a bit easier, or at least constructive.
If you’ve studied astrology for any length of time, you know that the square is considered to be a difficult aspect, both natally and in transit. But if you’ve been actually interpreting charts, you’ve come to realize that a square can be challenging, but is by no means intrinsically “bad”. It is an aspect which demands that we confront our conflicting beliefs, and change.
Most of us who follow a Pagan path know that our thoughts and feelings impact our lives in a very real way, and we use that knowledge to work magic. The thoughts and feelings we experience are, in large part, due to the beliefs we hold about reality and our place in it. Not all of these beliefs are conscious — in fact, many of them are buried deeply in the subconscious matrix of an unhealed childhood. Part of our magical practice is what is often called “Shadow work” — seeking out unhealed and unloved parts of ourselves that we have hidden and denied, in order to understand the source of destructive beliefs, so we can change them. We do this work because we know that trying to repress or deny a belief just gives it power. From its hiding place, that belief still presents us with thoughts and feelings that frequently contradict some helpful change that we are working to manifest through magic. A crucial part of any magical working is identifying and transforming any beliefs we hold that conflict with our magical goals.
Here’s an example. Let’s consider a woman who was raised in a Bible-oriented household where money was a frequent cause of fights between her parents. By the time she was in her teens, she had decided that “money is a tool of Satan that separates people from God and each other.” By the time she is 30, she has changed her religious beliefs and personal values, and is even a bit embarrassed by what she believed in her teens. Now she is all about “moving on” and “getting past” those times. Now she believes money is what you use it for, just another form of energy, and she’s open to having some. But she’s still broke and in debt.
Finally, she does some shadow work, and discovers, as she monitors her thoughts and emotions and dives deep into the ocean of the unconscious, that there is an active part of her that still believes money is a tool of evil and separation from the Divine. This is how the square manifests psychologically — the conflict of beliefs, each held closely by a different area of the psyche. These clashing beliefs can create great uncertainty and crises of consciousness, for a resolution is demanded, either by reason, or by outer circumstance. The outer strife and problems associated with squares often manifest in response to conflicting and disordered energy within us that we project into the world.
When outgrown beliefs play hide-and-seek in our psyches instead of just dropping away, that means they are still holding energy we need to assimilate. Often, for instance, problems with money are tied to questions of self-worth and the ability to give and receive love. Our hypothetical 30-year-old probably has a whole lot of healing to do around issues of parental love and support before she will be able to shift her belief about the evil of money. Old beliefs are powerful because they are intricately constellated with deep emotional needs and wounds. They can’t be simply dropped — they must be transformed and assimilated. Problematic beliefs are not something you can shake off your shoe — they are a part of your personal energy, and must be actively worked with and consciously changed.
So, Uranus in Aries square Pluto in Capricorn actually offers us some valuable energetic tools to utilize in transforming ourselves, if we are willing to do the work. How the square will manifest in your life, specifically, depends on how this transiting aspect fits into your chart. If you study astrology, you might want to look at which houses in your chart are currently occupied by transiting Uranus and Pluto. What planets rule those houses? How are they being aspected — by transit, progression or solar arc — right now? Are transiting Uranus and Pluto making any aspects to any of your natal planets?
We can also make some generalizations about what this aspect will offer to us all. It provides the courage to transform, and to take calculated risks for a better future. It also makes available the knowledge and wisdom to build social structures that are sustainable and just. To use these gifts wisely and well, we seek out the resistances we have to change, our deepest fears, and transform them into the courage and strength we need to expand into our potential. We embrace both innovation and practicality, realizing that one does not negate the other. We track down and confront the conflicting beliefs within us, so we can move into the future with a coherent vision and compassionate presence that is based in a combination of practical knowledge, optimism, and appreciation of renewal.
If we can bring the unconscious beliefs we hold into conscious awareness, if we can unravel our emotional knots enough to free and use the energy trapped within them, this square can super-charge our lives. The square represents a challenge to expand, to take a conflict and find a broader perspective that allows synthesis.
There is an underlying structure to any society — a system of laws, rules, regulations, limits, and taboos that are needed for the smooth operation of human social interactions — the roads and bridges that get us from one place to another, the procedures we use in conducting business, the laws we make to regulate human behaviors, and the invisible structures of cultural expectations.There is an underlying structure to any individual life — a system to fulfill the necessities of food and shelter, demands of family, tribe and society, moral and religious strictures, and of course, the cultural expectations that both support and bind us.
Most of us believe that these systems — or some other systems — are required for the good of all, that without laws, rules, regulations and structures, our civilization would descend into violent chaos. Some of us note that our global civilization — despite reams and terabytes of laws, rules and regulations — is remarkably violent and chaotic, business and government are frequently and blatantly unprincipled and manipulative, we are poisoning our own nest, and many of the systems we have in place support and encourage this kind of suicidal, homicidal and ecocidal behavior. There must, we think, be a better way. There must be indeed, because Pluto’s in Capricorn, and everything we thought we knew about the structures in our lives is likely to change.