Friday, February 5, 2016

The Aquarian New Year: New Moon in Aquarius 2016

Lightning within the cloud illuminates the entire cloud blanket
 over the Mojave Desert during an electrical rain storm; photo by
Jessie Eastland.

New Moon @ 19 Aquarius 16'
February 8, 2016
9:39 AM Eastern
6:39 AM Pacific

When the Moon reaches its conjunction with the Sun each month, there’s a sense of something falling away and yet something unknown stirring in the darkness. Your energy may feel lower than usual, or you may find yourself feeling introspective and reflective. A New Moon is often perceived to be the monthly moment of new beginnings, and that’s pretty much true, but it’s also a time to recharge and reset yourself for the new cycle to develop. From the remnants of what has fallen away, emerges a new potential—a potential that is unseen, invisible and imbued with mystery.

Every beginning feels this way. The energy has yet to fully manifest; there may be hesitation and caution as well as an uncertainty regarding what lies ahead. A New Moon is filled with anticipation, however subtly you experience this. This month’s New Moon in tropical Aquarius may feel like the official start of the New Year, considering Mercury’s retrograde cycle occurring at the beginning of January. To the Chinese, each year, the Aquarian New Moon is actually the official start of the Chinese New Year (this year, the year of the Monkey).

Perhaps this year, we should join them in celebrating this New Moon and focusing our intention upon it as the start of something new. With Mercury direct and several “harmonious” aspects occurring between planets this month, February appears to be a good time for new beginnings in myriad shapes and forms, a time of opportunity and creative potential. Aquarius is an interesting sign because, in western astrology, we associate it with two planets of a very different archetypal nature: classically, Saturn and the modern outer planet Uranus.

What’s interesting is that these two planets are completely antithetical archetypes. Saturn encourages conformity while Uranus is inclined towards rebellion. Thus, Aquarius is a sign wrought with inner tension with intentions that are seemingly at cross purposes. We also associate Aquarius with the scientific paradigm on one end, which encourages peer collaboration. There’s a need within Aquarius to “get along” and follow the accepted procedure to maintain social harmony and cohesion. On the other end, Aquarius can also express itself as a revolutionary requiring the full, authentic expression of its eccentricity and innate genius.

The Saturnian side of Aquarius requires an acceptance of social rules and collective agreements. The Uranian side of Aquarius requires one to break those rules to forge new pathways. But when we reflect on this process, we come to an understanding that Aquarius isn’t necessarily a contradiction, but an essential process representing two ends of a spectrum needed to sustain human evolution. So, maybe you feel that way with this New Moon, that there’s a need for freedom and a need to embrace your individuality, alongside a need to conform to something to get along in the context of a community or group of individuals.

On the Uranian side, Aquarius may impulse you towards the start of a new pathway. Change is in the air with this lunation, and if you're conscious of this, you can begin taking steps in the direction of increased freedom and autonomy, but know that whatever steps you do take, will require some immense challenges. The planet Mars falls in a 90 degrees (square) aspect to this lunation from the sign of Scorpio. Whenever Mars enters the picture, you may be impulsed to face your fears, muster up some courage, and prepare for a battle. But a square is also symbolic of a much-needed push to generate the momentum.

In Scorpio, that battle is a challenge to integrate yourself communally and socially while maintaining a need to be truly authentic, as well as the need to cultivate honesty. The problem with certain social agreements is that they often overshadow the authentic dimensions of human experience and subjugate the expression of primal human needs. And then, sometimes, when we’re too focused on being completely authentic and real we’re unable to peacefully function in many social environments. So, this lunation presents the need for compromise and asks whether you can find space for both of these areas of life experience without one dominating the other.

Consider this New Moon as a time to step up to a subtle challenge to successfully integrate yourself within a community in a way that's not overtly threatening or too intense, but also in a way that doesn’t completely abolish your right to be human, your right to be yourself.  Consider also, that this New Moon falls on the midpoint of Venus and Chiron which speaks about shifting attitudes in our relationships. Aquarian relationships are often surface level and require a cordial demeanor or approach. Scorpionic relationships are far more intimate and “dirty”. How do we meet both needs within the context of our relationships? That appears to be the challenge this month, a challenge that will require a change of perception, as well as a change of heart. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Facing What Scares You: Venus and the Uranus/Pluto Square

Transverse of a ledge in a Canadian/Polish attempt to climb Khunyang Chhish,
Pakistan; photo by Raphael Slawinski, June 2006.

On Feb 5 through 6, the planet Venus, accompanied by the Moon, will pass through the slowly fading wake of the Pluto/Uranus square. The 90 degrees aspect between Uranus and Pluto is still active in the collective psyche, slowly dissipating, but still within approximately one degree of separation. Look back at the past several years since this cycle began. Uranus and Pluto came into exact contact in 2012, but the energy was building a year or so before then. To gain some perspective of what happens collectively when Uranus and Pluto come together, reflect upon the late 1960’s and the dynamic cultural and political reformation that was birthed from these powerful outer planets aligning in conjunction.

Uranus seeks to liberate and accentuate authentic, individual expression. Pluto seeks to accentuate the shadowy chasm of the collective psyche, bringing to consciousness suppressed, psychological elements to ultimately transform the personal self and collective identity. We could say that Pluto seeks to annihilate/transform the very ego Uranus seeks to bring to apotheosis. In other words, in times such as these, we each undergo deep personal transformation which is mirrored in the outer world as a rapid cultural and societal restructuring.

Pluto reveals the content that has been subjugated and ignored by our society (or the personal self/ego), and Uranus seeks to integrate those elements to ultimately reform the current, established order, but both planets work on each other.We could say that what Uranus seeks to innovate or liberate, Pluto attempts to provide with a greater purpose and application beyond the personal self. What that might feel like on an individual level, given the nature of the square, is the call to bring your individuality to some greater service beyond your own self- interests through hard work and the overcoming of immense obstacles.

And Pluto always demands deep, inner work. It demands, often, a dark night of the soul. Needless to say, this has been a tumultuous period of time, especially for those of us with significant planets in Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn. On Feb 5, the planet Venus will conjoin Pluto in Capricorn. With the Moon, Mercury, Venus and Pluto clustering in Capricorn, you may find yourself feeling a bit more determined, focused, disciplined, and self-reflective. This is a brief moment in time where you have an opportunity to align your priorities and to transcend those habits or behaviors you may feel are holding you back from some greater purpose or mission.

But remember that you have free will. That means that you can always stay where you are. But if you do that, you’re likely to experience Pluto’s often frightening and uncomfortable dark night of the soul. You’re likely to feel, perhaps, a fleeting moment of meaninglessness and depression. Such feelings arise from within the body as a message from the soul: “You are capable of more than what you currently perceive yourself to be.” Venus, on one end, is a “social” impulse. It seeks to extend outward to build bridges of social exchange. On another end, Venus symbolizes what we project value upon. Either way, Venus is about projection.

As Venus conjoins with Pluto, you may find that over the next few days you have an opportunity to see deeper into your projections. What lies at the root of your current desires? Is what you desire really for your greater good? Will it lead to liberation, change, and transformation, or are you projecting value upon something unaware of what you’re actually after? But, here’s the trick. Pluto will always get you. No matter what you go after, you can’t avoid the shadowy void of the unconscious. Whether in your dreams/nightmares, what have you, these next few days will lead you to a potential realization of your bigger purpose, mission, or destiny, if only a glimpse. Maybe you learn that the easy way, by willingly facing what scares you.

Or maybe you learn the hard way, choosing to ignore uncomfortable truths, but finding it anyway through external conflict or fleeting existential angst. In Capricorn, it’s time to get serious and choose to consciously liberate yourself from suppressive circumstances. That may not require direct action. It may merely require your willingness to look deeper at what impulses you right now and what you’re trying to avoid. Look soberly into your frustration. It’s trying to tell you something. It’s trying to bring awareness to those issues that have been ignored. And when you do that, when you bring light to the darkness, you’ll have a clearer strategy and a readiness to charge ahead. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Prioritize and Re-energize: Leo Full Moon 2016

Hieroglyphics inside a temple at Dier el-Bahri on the west bank of the Nile
opposite the city of Luxor, Egypt; photo by Aligatorek via
Wikimedia Commons.

Full Moon @ 3 Leo 29'
January 23, 2016
8:46 PM Eastern
5:46 PM Pacific

As the current lunar cycle comes to its full expression and manifestation, Mercury retrograde is gradually winding down, stationing direct (changing from backward to forward motion) just two days later, on Jan. 25. The stations of Mercury appear to be the most potent times of the retrograde, where technical glitches and sudden changes of plans often accumulate. Be mindful of this, because the days surrounding the station can often feel a little more frustrating than usual. It’s best to just roll with the punches and stay flexible—even if things are little lopsided and out of sorts.

Venus also just moved into tropical Capricorn, and Mercury will be stationing while in a conjunction with Pluto in this sign. All of this favors you getting a little more serious about some things in your life. Maybe you feel more focused, or simply aware of the need to prioritize your activities and the amount of time spent on certain relationships. Mercury conjunct Pluto can feel a little heavy as if certain fears and buried wounds are coming up to the surface more than they usually would. Mercury stationing on Pluto can be a time to really consider how these darker elements are playing out in your life, either through deeper reflection or talking it out.

Those conversations, if you choose to have them, will likely be heavy and complex, but may have lasting value. The Full Moon occurs in the sign of Leo, naturally opposing the Sun, but also opposing the asteroid Pallas Athena in the sign of Aquarius. In Greek mythology, Athena was a warrior goddess who emerged from Zeus’ head; she embodies wisdom, strategy and problem solving. I liken Athena to the ability to solve complex puzzles. Perhaps this Full Moon brings about an enthusiasm to come up with creative solutions.

Leo is a fire sign with an “extroverted” nature. That doesn’t mean that you’ll feel outgoing on the Full Moon (although that is likely), but simply more motivated to take action in the external world in some playful way. This is amplified by the rather wide square that the Full Moon axis (the 180 degrees opposition of Sun and Moon) receives from Mars conjunct Juno in the sign of Scorpio. That means that this Full Moon forms a t-square, a structure of considerable tension that motivates and challenges you to make some kind of change.

Juno conjunct Mars can indicate facing the truth about certain commitments you’ve made in your life. What fears do you have in relation to them? What kinds of commitments have you made to yourself? And how can you go about honoring them and staying on track? While Leo likes to play and express itself, it isn’t completely free to let loose entirely. You may find that your playtime needs to fit within a structure, modified by the priorities currently on the table.

When you are really pursuing something meaningful and important to you, you’ll find that the creative juice needed to follow through will bring you much joy and pleasure. As always, the brightness of the Full Moon brings to light certain realizations. For you, that may be the energy needed to strategically follow your bliss, whatever that may be. The Full Moon is a time of higher, increased energy, and in Leo, that energy can feel enthusiastic and vibrant. The tension offered by this lunation may be just what is needed to re-energize you. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Subtle Change: Venus Square Jupiter

Historic Eco Pad Yatra in the Himalayas from Manali to Ladakh in 2009; Photo
by Drukpa Publications Pvt. Ltd.

On Jan 17 and 18, the planet Venus will square (make a 90 degrees angle) Jupiter in tropical Virgo from the sign of Sagittarius. Both planets are seen to have a positive effect on one another, as classical “benefics”. However, Jupiter’s presence in Virgo and the tension of the square makes this a slightly uncomfortable integration, but one that may be easier to resolve. Venus in Sagittarius highlights a longing for expansion and new experience, boundless freedom to pursue its desires.

Yet, Jupiter in Virgo must contend with practical realities. But, in our logical understanding, we must realize that for an adventure to truly succeed, we need to be prepared. You wouldn’t attempt to climb the Himalayas without the proper training or equipment. Well, maybe you would, but I can assure you that would be rather stupid. And conversely, self-improvement needs some higher philosophy to guide it, some lofty aspiration or ideal, otherwise, the routine becomes monotonous and meaningless.

So, Venus is the ideal adventure or new experience and Jupiter is the need to realistically organize some things to get there. The good news, something in your life is just so boring and devoid of passion that it pushes you to make a change, to begin looking to a new horizon and to pull some details together to get you to the mountaintop. Jupiter recently turned retrograde, and thus you will either need to extend yourself outward to seek help and guidance from those wiser or more knowledgeable than yourself, or you may feel the need to step back and reflect a bit before really moving forward.

But, squares are all about taking action. Dissatisfaction is your guiding light. Follow that urge to change something up in your life, maybe something small or something big—either way, it will have a large impact, because that’s just how Jupiter does things. If you don’t, you’ll probably find yourself nagging, nitpicking and complaining about how boring and dull everything is. Or, maybe you’ll get into an unnecessary ideological debate over petty points of conflict. Or, maybe this aspect will pass without making much of statement for you, but will still require your participation in some subtle way. And on that subtle level, you’ll need to express this; you’ll need to make a change.  

Friday, January 8, 2016

Strategic Renewal: New Moon in Capricorn 2016

Ozys (Capricorn) in the twelve painting cycle Zodiakas (Zodiac);
by Mikalojus Konstantinas Clurlionis, 1907.

New Moon @ 19 Capricorn 13'
January 9, 2016
8:30 PM Eastern
5:30 PM Pacific

On Jan. 9 the current lunar cycle renews in the tropical sign of Capricorn. A New Moon can be a time of lower energy, a time to turn inward and recharge, but especially occurring in Capricorn and alongside Mercury recently stationing retrograde, a call inward toward solitude or some focused activity is supported. The New Moon’s wide conjunction to Pluto tends to add some seriousness and density to this lunation, which can prompt you to set priorities and discriminate between various activities you may be juggling. Capricorn is an archetype of focused determination and the mastery of the will over the “primal” impulses of the human psyche.

That doesn’t mean that Capricorn is all work and no play, or that it’s a sign devoid of pleasure; it merely represents the much needed braking mechanism within the psyche that channels primal energies into consciously directed activities of a more complex or sophisticated nature. Capricorn is a symbol of the triumph of willpower over appetite. Of course, when allowed too much expression, Capricorn can manifest as power tripping or an attempt to control to the point of limiting creative spontaneity and chance. The New Moon’s vicinity with Pluto highlights the “shadow” of Capricorn, especially on a collective level.

The dark side of conservatism is a resistance to progressive change and innovation. The dark side of too much structure is an inability to have commerce with trickster—the one who frees and liberates humanity from soul-deadening systems. Mercury just recently moved back into Capricorn, and thus it appears to be highlighting the need to break free of time-serving tendencies, to renovate your routines and to find new, progressive ways to alter your daily life. Jupiter, which recently turned retrograde, also makes a trine (120 degrees aspect) from Virgo while aligned with the North Node of the Moon.

Jupiter points us to an opportunity to seek new experiences or adventures; or conversely, a need to retreat to recharge one’s soul inwardly. Thus, this New Moon correlates with a sense of changing direction in some capacity, whether big or small. Pluto directs consciousness to the bottom line: your soul’s purpose for incarnation, and the unavoidable reality of death, decay, and entropy of everything that you create or achieve in life. And Capricorn’s higher message is that to see anything substantial manifest in the world, you must learn to cultivate self-discipline and determination.

This New Moon may prompt you to get on with something, or to address some serious, pressing matters relating to the need to move beyond stagnation. It’s likely that if you look closely, there’s something that you’re doing robotically, without passion, emotion or excitation. You may need to shift your attention or your direction entirely if you are to change anything. But that requires taking an honest look at yourself and your life to peer through the holes in the system you’ve set up for yourself. I don’t personally think that we’ve come here to become automatons. And I don’t think you have either.

The great part of Capricorn energy is that it’s excellent at devising a game plan. Use this lunar cycle to conjure an effective strategy that will lead you to change. There may be some things you’ll have to sacrifice to get there, and there may be some desires or impulses you’ll have to hold back, but in the end, it might just be worth it. This lunar cycle may feel a little serious, but remember that Mercury, the trickster, is retrograde. It will help you along if you can release your grip and open yourself to the possibility of chance encounters. You never know what you might stumble upon and how it might significantly alter your strategy. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Prioritizing the Possibilities: Venus Conjunct Saturn 2016

An image of Saturn with Venus as a tiny white dot just above the white
streak in Saturn's G ring; image taken by NASA's Cassini Spacecraft
in March 2013; image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

Just before the New Moon occurs in tropical Capricorn on Jan. 9, the planets Venus and Saturn will conjoin (make a perceived alignment) in Sagittarius on Jan. 8. While not immediately apparent, these two planets have more in common than one would initially think. Both Venus and Saturn teach us about discrimination, but in very different ways. Venus being a symbol of the desire for establishing relationships and the value of other people requires discrimination—thus someone gets left out and rejected. Saturn often correlates with the necessity to prioritize our time and energy which requires discrimination in the sense that under a Saturn time we must reject certain experiences in favor of those more aligned with our higher priorities.

Both archetypes require that we say no from time to time. They embody a sense of exclusion. Another commonality lies in both archetypes desire to establish connection and comraderie—Venus on a personal level (through Libra) and Saturn on a communal level (through Aquarius). In order to find out where we belong, we need to have an awareness of where we don’t. As Venus and Saturn come together in Sagittarius, you may find yourself focused a bit more on the need for discrimination, having to choose between certain experiences to get clear about your priorities in the moment.

Sagittarius highlights the psychic impulse toward the seeking of new adventure or experiences which disrupt the safe and routine. Under the influence of Sagittarius, there are endless possibilities and opportunities awaiting discovery, but Saturn comes in to limit your focus to allow time to prioritize some things over others. With the heavy emphasis of planets currently in Capricorn, you may find that you require more solitude for reflection, focus. and discipline. However, be careful not to exclude others from the conversation entirely. You may need some input.

Both Venus and Saturn make a square (a 90 degrees angle) to Neptune in Pisces. In its home sign, Neptune appears to have certain dominance in the narrative—that is again, a pull toward isolation for reflection and the acquisition of insight or inspiration. But on the shadow end, Neptune in Pisces can tempt you to avoid the hard work of Saturn through escapism and avoidance of reality.  Saturn through Sagittarius is challenging your faith in the universe—your faith in a higher purpose and meaning for your life and existence. To work positively with both Saturn and Neptune, you must find time to disconnect without complete avoidance of the real world, and without putting off the hard work that Saturn requires of you.

So, just before the New Moon in Capricorn on Jan. 9, you may notice that your attention is placed on prioritizing new experiences and possibilities for your life while being mindful that both solitude and social exchange have their place in the process. Also, be mindful of the temptation to completely disengage from what you need to focus on in the moment. Are there certain distractions you need to eliminate to make more time for the acquisition of clarity in regards to your purpose? Make time for yourself, as well as the people that really matter, and you’ll be able to integrate this aspect successfully and holistically. 

From Dissatisfaction to Action: Jupiter Retrograde in Virgo 2016

Mercury accompanying his father, Jupiter, on a Journey; image from
Journeys Through Bookland: A New and Original Plan for Reading
Applied to the World's Best Literature for Children, copyright 1922;
via Wikimedia Commons.

When planets turn retrograde, they change faces. All of the inner planets that turn retrograde (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) have dual rulerships; they’re associated with two tropical zodiac signs. When a planet turns retrograde, it changes the flow of energy in the quadrant of the horoscope that the planet is currently moving through. Looked at another way, the face of that planet switches from the archetype of one sign association to the other.

Jupiter has a resonance (or rulership) with the signs Sagittarius and Pisces. Their common planetary ruler gives them a common ground, but these two signs are also in direct tension via the square (90 degrees) relationship to one another in the zodiac. The tension arises from the extroverted quality of Sagittarius and the introverted nature of Pisces. Their common ground arises from their shared mutable modality—they both carry qualities of flexible adaptability to a changing environment. Both signs are better equipped to “go with flow” and cultivate spontaneity.

But Sagittarius, a fire sign, is an archetype of active seeking and questing “out there” in the world while Pisces symbolizes a psychic impulse to withdraw through meditative or “inward” forms of perception. So, Jupiter’s transit through any sign or house in our horoscope will correlate with either the Sagittarian (active, extroverted expression) or the Piscean (passive, introverted expression) archetypes. Virgo correlates with gaining competence and skill through experience and you can do that in an extroverted or introverted way. 

Virgo is classically considered to be Jupiter’s place of detriment—it is a sign which has qualities quite foreign to Jupiter. Thus, Jupiter’s transit through this sign can feel a bit awkward or uncomfortable in the sense that Virgo’s attention to detail and practical realities are counter to Jupiter’s expansive, big picture perspective as well as its lofty, spiritual idealism. However, when worked with consciously, this transit symbolizes a time where you can make certain ideals practical and useful, and how you can work to make your daily routines more interesting or better-rounded. Both archetypes, though conflicting, have much to teach and acquire from each other.

So, Jupiter’s dual expression impulses us to either actively seek opportunities for growth and new experience or to turn inward and receive guidance or inspiration from within. Jupiter is changing faces, and it is going to correlate with the changing face of Jupiter within you. If you have some advanced knowledge of transits through the houses of your horoscope, then look to where Jupiter is currently stationing (where it is stopping to turn backwards in the sign of Virgo). If you know roughly where Virgo falls in your horoscope, you’ll have more information about how this will manifest for you.

So, from Jan. 7 to May 9 of this year, your inner Jupiter will switch from an extroverted to an introverted expression or vice versa. There are times when you are settled with what you have or what you have accomplished, but over time, you become bored and dissatisfied and desire some new experience. That is always a response to your inner Jupiter when it moves from its introverted to its extroverted expression. Conversely, there are times when you are out accomplishing or experiencing much and you need to retreat and recharge your soul.

Check in with yourself. Do you need to step back a bit and do some soul-searching, or do you need to seek a new opportunity that will enhance your life and free you from those daily routines that have outlived their usefulness for your greater purpose? And remember that at the heart of evolutionary astrology, is the understanding that the choice is always yours to make. Your desires and impulses for change are only suggestions from your soul from which the self must choose to respond.

But, as Carl Jung so succinctly stated, “When an inner process is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate”. If you feel like the life is being sucked out of you from something, Jupiter always arrives to renew your passion either through inward soul recharging or the outward seeking of new adventures. And dissatisfaction is always how Jupiter initially presents itself. To avoid the sometimes unpleasant or uncomfortable fate, this may be a time to discover the source of your dissatisfaction and to do something about it.