Now let us welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been—Rainer Maria Rilke.
January, named in honour of Janus the two-headed god of thresholds arrived without the usual swaggering bravado, or wishful “this year will be better”. An unpretentious New Moon in Saturn-ruled Capricorn welcomed in this first month of the calendar year, her silvery light swathed in darkness.
On January 17th the Full Moon in Cancer gifts us with a luminous reminder of the opposing energies of Capricorn and Cancer—structures and boundaries, anchoring and love; or the shadowy qualities of muscular authoritarianism and alienation.
Already the days are growing longer and the primroses on the riverbanks turn their delicate yellow faces to the sun as we begin to resume the routines and rituals that ground us in our ordinary lives.
For forty days and forty nights of “quarantine”, Venus has been in the underworld, inviting us to turn within, to gather clarity, strength and commitment. She has been moving Retrograde since December 19th when she united with Pluto at 26° Capricorn for the first of three intense encounters (December 19th, December 25th, and March 3rd). We all have Venus in our birth chart, an archetype that reflects our heart’s initiations, our deep soulful attachments, our satiated fullness, and our tortured emptiness.
Venus has been moving through Capricorn for four months (she enters Aquarius on March 6th) and during her time in the darkness, we may have been confronted with love’s shadows—loss of trust or hope in a relationship, changes in friendships that reflect our changing values and personal aspirations; separations and betrayals that ultimately lead us to a fuller experience of self-acceptance and a deeper understanding of what our soul yearns for. At the time of the New Moon, Venus disappeared as an Evening star and if you’re up early on January 15th, Venus will rise resplendent, a bright star in the East, a vision of beauty and fertility and power; a moment that was welcomed by our ancestors.
Elusive Mercury switches direction and begins to apparently move in reverse across the skies in Retrograde (10° Aquarius) on January 14th-February 3rd, inviting us to listen more attentively, to reconnect with the archetypal realm of our imagination, the subtle prompts of our intuition, to acknowledge the power of our intention and the psychic energy we bring to our encounters with others. As winter’s frosty grip softens, our earth-born bodies respond to the light, new dreams seed themselves in our imagination as Jupiter floats through Pisces, a luminous star of Hope that shimmers in the west after sunset, with Saturn still close by.
Saturn accompanies rules and authorities; sober realisations that things may not turn out as we want them to. Saturn in modern times is associated with fate or destiny, with necessity and restraint, those things we have cast out in our mechanistic material culture where we, in our hubris and our self-inflation, believe that we are all powerful—we can fix, manifest, cut away, or buy our way out of any mess we make. This New Year, Saturn may lay his hand on a defining moment in your life. There may be no escape, except a shift in perception as we pare down our doomed to fail resolutions, hold ourselves tenderly as we work with what is, rather than what we wish it could be.
In the ever-changing sky, Saturn and Uranus are still in a discordant square all through 2022 and 2023, a celestial symbol of clashing points of view, polarities, and divisions, as these ancient mythic enemies confront each other in the heavens and an old order collides with the new. Saturn transits arrive as the henchmen of stasis that often thwart our efforts to move forward, yet they present as circumstances that grow us up, if we’re willing to learn. When these two archetypes face off in the heavens, they reflect tension, upheaval, limitations of freedom, resistance, and rebellion. In our own birth charts, transits of Uranus break us open, shatter and destabilise those things that are too tightly defended or have outlived their purpose.
Mars, the warrior god, joins forces with unpredictable Uranus in August and Pluto makes an opposition to Venus around then. So, although many of us are longing for some hope that the pandemic will end soon, Creation stories always tell of darkness and chaos that come before creation. The Pluto/Saturn conjunction of January 2020 has fermented all that is rotten in our world. The dross has risen to the surface and each one of us now faces the consequences of those things we have repressed or simply ignored. In the tumultuous confusion, perhaps something greater ushers humanity towards what is yet to be.
The discordant Saturn/Uranus energy is reflected in the cacophonous deluge of sentiment and divisive hate-speak that has reached its nadir as tennis star Novac Djokovic’s fate is now determined by Australia’s health minister. The agitation in Australia reflects our collective psychosis after almost two years of uncertainty, on/off lockdowns, and exposes the shadowy underbelly of an Establishment that continue to ignore the plight of incarcerated asylum seekers, and those who live on the edges of society, without the fame or financial resources to employ legal aid or seek release from their circumstances.
As tensions mount, scapegoats will be driven out, minorities become criminals. A Saturnian policing bill now targets Roma, Gypsy and Travellers in the UK if they “trespass” in places that have not been designated for them. In 1930 Saturn and Uranus were in Square and between 1933-1939, the Roma and Sinti were interned and murdered by the Nazi Regime.
As impetuous Mars and the North Node in Taurus aligns with Uranus (April, May, October and November) frustrations may intensify and spill over nebulous and overvalued cryptocurrency as governments (symbolised by Saturn) attempt to regulate this environmentally devastating disruptor to established banking systems.
A subtle backdrop this year is the idealistic union of Jupiter and Neptune (April 12th), a rare meeting in Pisces and one that amplifies Piscean qualities of compassion, creativity, but also a celestial blind spot, something hidden in the collective midstream that may seduce or anesthetise, conceal a truth or weave a web of lies. Jupiter and Neptune co-rule Pisces. The fish are ephemeral, lacking in substance, intoxicating, seductive and illusionary, and perhaps swimming is futile. All we can do is to relax and float until we are sure that what we have seen is not a mirage.
Jupiter and Neptune were last united in Pisces in March 1856 as Wagner completed Die Walküre and Sigmund Freud was born. 1856 was a year of senseless warfare and sacrifice, ships were lost at sea, native communities were exterminated, and the barbarous Crimean war ended.
Piscean symbolism includes oceans, but also extremist ideologies that offer the promise of redemption from suffering. This combination of celestial energies may unleash a tsunami of pent-up grief and suffering; it may surge through cryptocurrencies, drown the hype, dissolve castles in the air, suffocate seabirds in sticky black oil as giant oil tankers run aground. This is the seductive energy of the speculator, a glimpse of hope that may be unfounded, perhaps, the realisation that as we drop the salvational fantasy we are freed up to sweetness of simple pleasures, self-acceptance, and a deeper appreciation of the poetics of life.
We may feel pulled apart by a longing to escape from it all as this expansive, boundaryless Jupiter-Neptune conjunction forms while the next constrictive and frustrating Mars/Saturn conjunction emerges; an echo of the Mars/Saturn conjunction of late March early April 2020 as the magnitude of the pandemic permeated through the collective and nations locked down.
The conjunction of Mars and Saturn of late March and early April 2022 signifies an ending of a cycle, and the start of a new one that occurred during the early outbreak of the pandemic and the early phases of the lockdown, and continued as Mars moved through Taurus, Leo, and Scorpio in 2021 and new COVID variants emerged accompanied by mandates and restrictions. The North Node entered Taurus on December 23rd 2021, and will move through Taurus till July 12th 2023, meeting Uranus this July. There’ll be a sprinkling of eclipses in Taurus on April 30th, and November 8th and in Scorpio on May 16th and October 25th, as Pluto returns to the place of its inception in the American birth chart this year. Modern astrologers tend to agree that eclipses are wild cards, and the effects are unpredictable, though solar eclipses tend to be externalised and lunar eclipses are subtler, more internal, often related to the past, to our emotions and perceptions.
As the archetypal energies of Taurus and Scorpio are energised in the coming months, in our own birth charts and in the birth charts of nations, we may be reminded of the bull-headed, flesh-eating half-man who lived in the centre of the labyrinth. This hideous monster, the Minotaur, was also called by another name. Asterion. Star.
As we welcome this brave new year and sit with the paradox of those things that stir our anger and release our tears, let’s pause for a while in the quiet shade of the unknown before we enter the fray.
This is the year of living bravely, soulfully, imaginatively, abandoning those things that are irretrievably broken and reimagining our place in the world, rooting back into the earth.
Poet and novelist, Ben Okri writes, “bad things will happen, and good things too. Your life will be full of surprises. Miracles happen only where there has been suffering. So, taste your grief to the fullest. Don’t try and press it down. Don’t hide from it. Don’t escape. It is Life too. It is truth. But it will pass, and time will put a strange honey in the bitterness. That’s the way life goes.”
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