December highlights Elemental opposition between Fire and Water, and that translates, astrologically, into a severe square between between Sagittarian Fire planets (at the time of this writing, I’m referring to the Sun and Jupiter) and Piscean Water (Mars, Neptune—Pisces’ ruler—and Retrograde Chiron) that will serve as the dominant energetic pattern for most of the month. We also have the cosmic paradox of fiery, ego-identified and assertive Mars, the ruler of Aries, unhappily slogging His way through the Neptune-ruled Piscean star-soup every day this month until the night of New Year’s Eve, when fireworks truly begin to ring in the New Year with a bang as Mars will be entering His home sign of Aries. But for the first 30 days of the month, alas, Mars is skewered by Neptune’s trident, floundering in confusion, low energy levels (possibly even low libido), and even physical sickness. (I’m actually combatting pneumonia as I type these words; I was diagnosed with it on Thursday and am now in Major Arcana Hermit mode at home.) Mars in Pisces loses impulse and direction.
Adding to the Watery Elemental force is the fact that the month begins with Retrograde Mercury having backed into Scorpio’s harsh currents on December 1, and on December 2, the first night of Hanukkah, beguiling Venus also dips back into the familiar waters of Scorpio. So much of the energy will feel exactly like it did during Venus’ protracted Retrograde period in Scorpio (October 5-November 16), and now with Mercury’s analytical focus shining a spotlight on these dark waters, we’re going to be given remedial lessons on power dynamics in relationships, the abuse of power, sexual abuse and trauma, obsessiveness and jealousy/possessiveness, and what it means to assert one’s (sexual) autonomy. This is Underworld terrain, and its concerns very much go against the grain of the commercially enforced cheerfulness marketed to us this time of year for the holidays.
And, one more prominent note on the Fire-Water opposition, this month will bring us a Fiery New Moon (in Sagittarius, early in the morning on December 7) and a Watery Full Moon (on December 22 in Cancer, the Sign ruled by the Moon). So much of this push-pull dynamic and the Sagittarian desire for real-world expansion and adventure contrasted with the Piscean pull towards cultivating a rich inner life translates into moving. Very. Slowly. It’s deliberate. The Cosmos is asking us to sit quietly with what we perceive to be setbacks in the “real world.” For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere getting ready to welcome the official start of Winter at the Winter Solstice on the 21st, our task, as much as we may not like it, is to follow the pattern of Nature and take a cosmic Time Out. Slow down. Reflect. Dream. Build your emotional foundation. Hibernate. Act slowly and steadily. Set your intentions/do your goal-setting at the time of the Sagittarius New Moon, but allow your intentions to germinate in the garden of your soul. Don’t put plans into action until the very last day of the month, when Mars breaks free from His Piscean prison and announces it’s all systems GO as He bursts headlong into the Cardinal Fire of Aries and is home again. It will be an amazing way to welcome 2019!
Energetically speaking, astrological events this year have really forced us into a “review and release” mode as we evaluate our lives. This past summer was an extremely challenging period for many people (myself included), dominated as it was by the Mars Retrograde and the major shake-ups brought by the eclipses. Whether we were ready for it or not, we were tasked with major, even karmic, releases. Now the shift focuses on reviewing and reevaluating our lives, including how we attract or repel the forces of abundance, as the planet Venus gets ready to station Retrograde on October 5, plunging us into the archetypal experience I liken unto the Goddess Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld.
The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down…
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,
And autumn’s best of cheer.
—Helen Hunt Jackson, “September” (1892)
September opens on an optimistic note, having us all breathe easier with the confidence that the Summer of Stagnation, largely caused by Mars Retrograde, is behind us. The Mutable Earth Sign of Virgo welcomes change and poises those of us in the Northern Hemisphere at the point of literal and symbolic harvest in our lives, asking us to reflect on how the year’s experiences, expected events or not, have compelled us to grow. Wisdom is the art of applying knowledge that was hard-won from experience, and the Sun’s annual transit in Virgo, which lasts until September 22, requires that we all operate from actionable insights aligned with our highest integrity (this is the “purity” of the Virgo archetype). This harvesting process is expedited by the fact that all personal planets in our zodiac are moving direct this month. As a Cosmic Bonus, Virgo’s Ruling Planet of Mercury makes His ingress into Virgo the night of September 5 (9:40 p.m. CDT) and transits until September 22, blessing us all with clarity of thought, precision in communications, and good fortune in travel. But wait—there’s more!
The first three weeks of this month continue to carry over July’s eclipse- and Mars Retrograde-laden unpleasant, unstable, and erratic energies. With five planets in Retrograde as the month opens (Mercury, Mars, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto), soon to be joined by Uranus stationing Retrograde at 2° of Taurus on August 7, we are called to align ourselves with the cosmic sense of energetic ebb instead of flow during this time. It’s best if we try not to push our agendas too hard and that instead we find ways to relax, meditate, ground and heal ourselves in Nature, and lay the groundwork for the plans that will be much more cosmically amenable to executing starting in the final week of the month and throughout September.
It’s fitting, I suppose, that such a monthly AstroCast post of mine falls on the holiday of the 4th of July here in the United States, a day whose theme of liberation from tyranny resounds strongly in the country’s current political climate. That theme is also echoed in the heavy Uranian cosmic footprint this month, which I’ll explore with you in a moment, adding combustion to the already-dramatic events of the ongoing Mars Retrograde in Aquarius and the two eclipses that will be happening this month. We’re talking major detonation events in the collective and in our personal lives, and clashes of belief systems and individual antagonistic wills shall serve as the ordinance. Are you ready? Take a deep breath from your diaphragm, hold it to a count of four, and exhale slowly before reading on. Here come July’s fireworks. (Photos below taken last night from my Chicago balcony of a neighborhood 4th of July fireworks display.)
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
“He went like one that hath been stunn’d
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn.”
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (lines 623-626)
The atmosphere in the Marriott Magnificent Mile hotel conference room where Dutch astrologer Karen Hamaker-Zondag taught her United Astrology Conference 2018 post-conference workshop on May 30, 2018, definitely felt gloomy and funereal. In many ways, the dimly lit and shockingly cold space would be a fitting Plutonian environment for delving deeply (six hours’ worth of learning in a single sitting) on the subject of “What Do You Really Want with Your 8th House and Pluto?”
All of the amazing concurrently running astrology workshops and classes comprising the 9th United Astrology Conference, recently held here in Chicago from May 23 to May 30 at the Marriott Magnificent Mile hotel on Michigan Avenue, definitely made it hard for me to choose which world-class teacher’s talk I would attend at any of the time slots for each day. At times I wanted a truly trans-historical, “big picture” perspective on the Cosmic Intelligences at work in all of our lives, while at other times my Virgo Sun Sign made me want to take a more granular view of planetary energies, focusing on present or imminent planetary transits. And while so many of my fellow Americans were planning on celebrating the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, May 28, through the time-honored tradition of outdoor grilling and family barbeques, the fires I wanted to zero in on instead were those of “Mars Transits and the Mars Cycle,” my first class of the day, which was taught by astrologer Donna Van Toen.
The main conference days of UAC 2018 were Friday, May 25 through Tuesday, May 29, though I also elected to participate in Karen Hamaker-Zondag’s 6-hour-long post-conference workshop on May 30 on the subject of the 8th House. These glorious days of intense learning, fellowship, socializing (I organized a small-group dinner outing to Greek Town for out-of-state conference attendees the night of Sunday, May 27) and partying (the Chicago “Roaring Twenties”-themed jazz party and silent auction on Saturday the 26thwas lots of fun) were definitely presided over by Airy and Watery Elemental forces.
The Sun’s annual transit through Taurus, which encourages us to cultivate prosperity and pleasure in our lives, serves as the stabilizing cosmic backdrop for monumental changes that will be striking mid-month. The key transits of the month, whose impact will be felt for years to come, are that Uranus and Mars change signs, forming a harsh aspect with each other in the process and likely unleashing volatility and violence on the world stage; it all happens in the wake of the Taurus New Moon on the 13th. Join me, please, in taking a deep breath before we take a deep dive into these harbingers of transformation. [Pause.] Ready? Here we go! (Note: All times given for planetary transits reflect my time zone of Central Daylight Time in the U.S. Please adjust accordingly for your time zone.)
As with the month of January, the month of March will be bookended by two full moons: the Virgo Full Moon on March 1 (the subject of a previous post), and the Libra Full Moon on March 31. Between the alpha and the omega of the month, we have the major themes of the transition from Pisces to Aries energy (Venus will be changing signs twice this month), the tandem transit journey of Venus and Mercury ending mid-month as Mercury begins to slow down in His shadow period before stationing Retrograde on March 22, Mars entering Capricorn mid-month, a series of challenging squares, the Pisces New Moon and the Libra Full Moon. Phew! Strap on your seat belts!