The cosmos backs down from its confrontational posturing of late, or at least puts it on the back burner as it enters into a period of shadows and shifts for the holy days. Four planets change signs over the next couple of weeks, which sets the tone for a reorientation of perspective as each planet moves from one sign to the next, changing the filter through which our perceptions occur. One of those sign changes also marks a seasonal shift that archetypally represents the return from the dark night of the soul and the newfound awareness it brings. Another planet changes direction, from retrograde to direct motion, bringing a shift in focus from within to without. All these planetary events present opportunities to hit the reset button. Additionally, as of December 19th, Mercury entered his “shadow” period, the first leg of a journey between 14°54’ Capricorn to 1°02’ Aquarius he will travel three times due to his upcoming retrograde January 5th to 25th. Whatever happens during the shadow sets up what will be reviewed during the retrograde period. Mercury rules perceptions, communications, thinking, and reasoning. How do we look at the world now? Is it working the way we want? When Mercury is retrograde he is freed to think independently, to break from the norm. In preparation for this opportunity to shake things up, Mercury could put his adept analytical skills to work choreographing his shadow dance through the end of pattern-conscious Capricorn. Assessing the state of his mental affairs, the structures of his belief systems, and how they are mirrored in his external environment, he may see how his mind, through his thoughts and choices, has created the world around him. Once retrograde and untethered, the re-organization can begin with the preparatory foundation already laid.
The first and most significant planetary shift happens on December 21st with the Solstice, the moment the Sun enters Capricorn and the earth’s tilt shifts its axis. The shortest day in the northern hemisphere is the beginning of a new seasonal cycle and the return of the light. The chart for this day features a fairly tight configuration called a “kite,” a combination grand trine in earth signs topped by a mini grand trine with Venus in Scorpio at the top aligning with Jupiter in Virgo, the Moon in Taurus and a Mercury/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn. The next three months, therefore, should be a creatively constructive period, one in which building upon that which we have envisioned is materially supported, apropos for the Sun entering Capricorn, the sign that is in charge of organizing the world.
The Sun in Capricorn at its best has the ability to bring all the wildly incongruent elements of human existence in the physical world together in a functioning system. Civilization, industry, corporations, organizations all come under the Capricorn tent. But man cannot live by structure alone. Structures must be animated by life, spirit, love. The architectural design of the very structures we inhabit can be very telling of the joint mentality that created it. Does the design draw attention to the structure itself, or to the spaces that will be inhabited by living beings within the structure? Think of the town square teaming with life. It is basically without structure, but its space is created by the structures that surround it and attract life to it as if it was magnetized with the promise of purposeful interaction. The gift of Capricorn, according to Dane Rudhyar, is “personal integrity.” The best of Capricorn will not only be able to bring order out of the chaos of humanity but will also be able to honor the spirit of each individual member by creating evolving “forms of living” in which the spirit can express. The same can be applied to our internal psycho-mental states of being. Do our belief systems adhere to a code that was handed down from generation to generation without any flexibility to accommodate individual creative ways of being? As Rudhyar states it, “What adequate social institutions or personal patterns of thinking and feeling can do is to allow the sense of personal integrity to radiate and freely to permeate the fabric of civilization.”
Like a rich tapestry evoking a storied life, the kite formation in play at the Solstice is aroused December 24th through 25th when several planets in that configuration move into exact alignment, forming a mini-grand trine (a triangle shape formed by two 60° sextiles and a 120° trine). Venus, Mercury and Jupiter in this harmonious configuration may buoy our spirits and instill a sense of grace into the rituals of Christmas. Lively, happy talk is favored under these aspects as is a feeling of abundance. Even if material gift giving is not part of the proceedings, the gift of love and faith in life surely will be. Due to Mercury slowing down, his aspects to Venus and Jupiter remain in effect through the end of the year.
The lightness of Mercury/Venus/Jupiter formation could assuage the heightened emotional energies triggered by the Full Moon, which also occurs on December 25th. The annual opposition between the Moon in Cancer and the Sun in Capricorn represents the polarized archetypes of family and asceticism. The Moon in her home sign of Cancer as the divine feminine nurtures and holds dear the tribal experience. The Sun in Capricorn is the divine masculine forgoing an intimate experience with loved ones for the solitude required to impersonally act as the organizing principle that makes it possible for the family to survive. Cancer is the town square to Capricorn’s protective surrounding buildings. Internally, the Cancer/Capricorn polarity also represents intuitive and rational ways of being. The lesson of the Full Moon is always to find balance between the two opposing principles. As the monthly lunar cycle’s culminating moment, may the big picture questions we asked at the New Moon on December 10th now be coming to a point of understanding that our relationship with the Cosmos begins with family love, but that in turn that bonding love must be an essential element of the structures that bring order to our chaotic world.
An additional astral current complicates the tone of holiday proceedings – Uranus changes direction and when he pivots in the sky on December 25th, his influence is intensified, making for a fully wired kind of day. Retrograde since July 26th, Uranus now moves forward in Aries with revolutionary fervor. Electronics may be the favored toys of the moment, and progressive, perhaps radical ideas may dominate conversations. With Uranus hanging still in the sky, his extra potent vibration may tax sensitive nervous systems or make delicate high tech gadgets go haywire. Uranus retrograde headed him back to be within two degrees of an exact square to Pluto. As Uranus turns around, tensions related to this duo’s cardinal themes that have been wreaking havoc over the last five years, could also create a meltdown or two on Christmas day. From extreme high tech innovation and creative connectivity, to violent upheaval against dysfunctional socio-political systems as seen in the increase of terrorist activity and mass waves of migration, the stories of this era will continue to reshape our world. Uranus and Pluto will remain within two degrees of each other through March 2016, keeping the heat on revolutionaries everywhere to up the ante.
A little welcome compassion and imagination infuses the atmosphere leading into the New Year when the Sun sextiles Neptune on December 29th. When the Sun aligns with Neptune we are delicately lifted out of the mundane and into the magic of life. Heightened sensitivity stimulated by the sextile alignment between the archetypes of self and the cosmos could provide a vision of an open road between the tangible and the intangible, along with the understanding that transcendence can be experienced simply by seeing the mystical in the mundane.
While still involved with Venus and Jupiter as described above, Mercury also pulls Mars into the conversation in a tense square formation, exact on December 29th, that by itself can deliver cutting speech and activate competitive thoughts. Depending on the situation and the mental state of each participant, Mercury and Mars in an edgy alliance has the potential to undermine the more gracious tone set by Mercury’s concurrent cooperation with Venus and Jupiter. Mercury’s best solution for lassoing in the sextile to artistic Venus, the trine to enterprising Jupiter and the square to courageous Mars is to invite them all to the table of creativity, ensuring they each will have equal time to present their unique ideas, and to be heard. The Messenger of the Gods knows that communication is at its best when the channels are open for giving and receiving. He will just need to be a master at interpretation!
December 29th also marks the first of three planetary shifts occurring within days of each other. First off is Venus, who has had quite enough of the intense intimacy immersion in Scorpio and soars into Sagittarius where her fire is lit though the adventure of new experiences. She has a soft spot in her heart for all things foreign and if she can’t get to far off places, you can be sure she’ll find an exotic restaurant to satisfy her penchant for exploration with a plateful of horizons to cross. Her thirst for knowledge begins with love, which she discovers is perhaps the greatest teacher of all. Once she understands what love is, committing to a relationship won’t feel like she has to pack away her suitcase forever. Jane Fonda’s Venus in Sagittarius gave her the perspective of people from other nations, and the independence to express her care for those who were different despite criticism she received at home.
Mercury follows Venus’ lead into new horizons when he enters Aquarius on January 1st. This is outpost territory where tradition is left behind and futuristic concepts emerge into being. Technology is his passion, which he cooly promotes to anyone who will listen. Orville Wright, with his Mercury in progressive Aquarius, launched us into the age of aviation. Chatter on the Internet should increase during Mercury’s transit here, which will be quite short due to his impending retrograde. Mercury will advance only about one degree before turning around, and spend only a week in Aquarius before returning to conservative Capricorn on January 8th where he can work on building that elevator to the sky so he can get back to his space station much faster once he returns to Aquarius on February 13th for a longer visit.
On January 3rd, Mars wraps up the shift changes when he enters all-in Scorpio where he will stay until March 5th. Free of the limitations imposed on him in Libra to be refined and “nice,” Mars can now flex his considerable muscle with vigor – think Tarzan yodeling his way through the treetops. Mars in Scorpio exudes power. He could also elicit fear in others not capable of handling his intensity, which may be expressed in the boardroom as well as the bedroom. Generally, of course, other planetary factors will counterbalance Mars in Scorpio’s raw sexuality and primal survival sense with a reminder that he is not alone and does need a little civility to operate in the world. He may be compelled to channel all that passionate energy into a creative pursuit. Think Jimi Hendrix who had a wild, unaspected Mars in Scorpio. His muscular, sexual guitar playing made him the musical Tarzan of his time.
Here’s the data (using Pacific Time and planetary positions rounded to the nearest whole degree, unless otherwise noted):
December 21st – Sun at 0° Capricorn at 8:49 p.m.
December 24th – Venus sextile Jupiter at 23° Scorpio/Virgo at 2:03 a.m.
December 25th – Moon opposite Sun at 3° Cancer/Capricorn at 3:11 a.m.
December 25th – Mercury trine Jupiter at 23° Capricorn/Virgo at 12:19 p.m.
December 25th – Uranus station retrograde at 17° Aries at 7:53 p.m.
December 29th – Sun sextile Neptune at 8° Capricorn/Pisces at 5:18 a.m.
December 29th – Mercury square Mars at 28° Capricorn/Libra at 6:54 a.m.
December 29th – Venus at 0° Sagittarius at 11:17 p.m.
January 1st – Mercury at 0° Aquarius at 6:21 p.m.
January 3rd – Mars at 0° Scorpio at 6:33 a.m.