The New Year in the cosmos commences with a condensed synopsis of issues that will be playing out over the coming months. Several themes are activated just as the curtain opens on 2016, setting the stage for a cliffhanger of a year. There is a sense of urgency to figure out what is real and what is illusion, what is corrupt and needs to be destroyed, what is truly innovative and needs to be embraced. How that happens is up to each of us. It is clear that on the world stage there will be blood, but there will also be compassion. Which side of that story are we on and how will our choices determine the script that plays out this year? This is as good an opportunity as any to let go of the dysfunctional old and bring in the new of a higher order. The trick is to pay attention to the details of what is playing out before us and furthermore to look at them from a holistic point of view. The entire mise-en-scène of our life has all the clues we need to determine a probable outcome. If we don’t like it, we can create a scene change simply by making different choices. Think of the stage play Tamara that takes place, literally, in a villa with the action unfolding simultaneously in up to eleven rooms. The audience intermingles with the actors and must choose which ones to follow, knowing that they cannot experience the whole play. Depending on their choices, each spectator develops their own story. In a year where reality will be difficult to determine, perhaps the ultimate answer is to have a life changing experience that teaches us what many esoteric philosophers have known all along: all life is an illusion. We have our own unique Tamara-like plays going on, and we each have the power to navigate through the intersecting story lines of chaos and order, reactivity and strategy. Which do we choose?
Act 1: Mercury and Mars come out fighting. Their argument having begun shortly before the play of 2016 opened when they first squared on December 29th (see last AstroCast), their second confrontation erupts on January 5th in a rare set up where both are still in direct motion. Due to Mercury slowing down in preparation for going retrograde, he and Mars square off twice before Mercury turns around and their tense alignment therefore is still projected outwards. In all, their square is in effect for nearly three weeks, December 21st through January 10th. Mercury rules communication and perception; Mars is the action planet; the square represents a struggle fraught with obstacles. This is where the sense of urgency comes in. The need to communicate becomes really important. Not quite life or death but if we’re not heard we may feel extremely frustrated or deliberately thwarted even, which could bring some to verbal blows. The way out of an argument of course is simply to step back from it and look at what is really going on. Disagreements certainly can be fueled by self-serving priorities but given a genuine Martian desire to cut to the chase the solution generally lies in acquiring additional information that will lead to the crux of the matter. Ask questions of all the players in the various storylines linked to the problem and therein may lay the answer key that opens the door of understanding. Patience required: “Hurry up and shout” may momentarily yield to “be still and perceive” as Mercury stations retrograde a mere hour after his square to Mars. However, as Mercury literally hangs motionless in space, his laser-focused energy beaming to earth is imprinted with Mars’ trademark combativeness. The premise of this retrograde review period could emphatically be “What are we fighting for?!”
Act 2: Venus intervenes between the dreamer and the realist. January 5th through 8th the queen of relating translates the long-term square between Neptune and Saturn in effect from about October 2015 to October 2016, bringing their cross-purposes to the mediation table to find a win-win solution. From her wide-visioned position in Sagittarius, Venus first squares Neptune in Pisces. Already on a similar vibrational wavelength as her higher octave, Venus understands Neptune’s poetic nature that thrives in a boundless cosmos where each star represents a point of light in the sum of all light. She knows the value of interconnectedness and how tuning into the oneness of creation builds not only spiritual strength but also opens vast doorways to imagination and creativity. As she reaches Saturn’s position in Sagittarius she also comes to understand from the great teacher the need to retain individual identity and not let her head get lost in the clouds. She sees the need to attend to practical matters related to life on earth and to tether her dreams to a manifesting principle. On the world stage, there are now more than one million refugees from Middle East and African conflicts spilling over Western borders in search of a peaceful, productive life. The war of words about this crisis veritably embodies the correlating planetary drama between Neptunian compassion and Saturnian restraint. No retaining wall, however, has ever stopped a tidal wave. Since we weren’t sufficiently prepared to handle this calamity due to the prevailing head-in-the-sand policies of collective world governments, those who would benefit from the chaos complicate the situation by triggering heightened fear-based reactions. Venus has her chance now to make her voice heard above the fray and instill an imperative for cooperation and collaboration with all parties to relieve the suffering of many while maintaining the security of all.
Act 3: Now it’s the big boys turn. The titans of the sky come out of their respective corners. We know them well by now as they have been at odds since 2008 and while their precise 90° encounters of 2012-2015 are over, the effects of the clashes between Uranus the awakener of spirit and Pluto the destroyer of dysfunction are now beginning to be integrated. We know who the players are and we know what to do, whether or not we consciously acknowledge it. Uranus and Pluto are little more than one degree apart at this time and along comes the Sun to shine light on the smoldering landscape that is our world rocked: ISIS and terrorists of their ilk breaking all the rules of civil society and creating the refugee crisis in their wake, homeless camps where shiny new condos should be as a result of what was foreseen in The Big Short (see the film if you haven’t and you’ll know what I mean), extreme weather ravaging a ransacked earth, unprecedented global digital connectivity and the explosion of social media as a tool for just about anything, technological breakthroughs in space including reaching Pluto itself up close and personal. The resurgence of social equality activism has led to numerous legal breakthroughs around the world including women driving in Saudi Arabia, gay marriage in many countries, and in the U.S. the increased scrutiny on the use of police force in communities of color. It is only the beginning. With the willful and creative Sun translating the Uranus/Pluto square January 5th through 7th, some of these issues may make the headlines again. As the planet of leadership, the Sun may also illuminate those who can make a difference in these areas.
Just as many scenes in Tamara unfold simultaneously, the three major themes heralding in the New Year are all triggered on the same day. Which of the planetary voices do we tune into? Can we hear the full chorus and understand it in all its complexity? How can we handle the intensity and not be overwhelmed by it? To turn down the noise, tune into the quietest voice, the one that is pure of tone and clarity. That is usually the one without a self-serving agenda. On January 7th, the one compelling us to listen may be Jupiter, the planet of wisdom. Travelling through Virgo since last August, he now pivots in the sky and as he turns around his focused energy in the sign of service, he will bring our beliefs under review, as well as those under who’s tutelage we learned them, as Virgo is also the sign of apprenticeship. In Virgo during his entire retrograde period through May 9th, Jupiter will be looking at every detail of our own personal belief systems, analyzing their effectiveness and how they bring fortune to our lives, or don’t.
On January 8th, retrograde Mercury slips back into Capricorn quietly tipping the scales in favor of the sensible earth signs. He’ll aid and abet Jupiter in assessing the integrity of the stories we tell ourselves and others about who we are. In Capricorn, Mercury’s methodical approach knows the value of an ordered life. If we can reduce chaos in our lives, then we are free to pursue activities beyond simple survival, such as contemplating the cosmos.
The New Moon in Capricorn on January 9th is a powerhouse of celestial energy that closely ties into the Uranus/Pluto square as well as Jupiter, still nearly motionless and extremely potent at the beginning of his retrograde turn. This would be the moment to set New Year’s resolutions, or better yet, intentions on what we want to manifest in our lives. If the intention is very clear, then as a thought form it becomes the actual seed guiding our choices, which in turn nurture that seed to maturity. New Moons commence the new lunar cycle and are opportune moments to set intentions. Capricorn is known as the sign of manifestation. With the Sun and Moon in Capricorn joined by formidable Pluto and quick-thinking Mercury, and the whole bundle in a fortunate trine to Jupiter in Virgo, we are being given a heightened vibrational dose of the manifestation principle. The Sun in Capricorn starts with creating order – looking at all the myriad elements operating in his life and devising a system to manage them effectively with as little effort as possible. The Moon in Capricorn, the sign of her opposing polarity, raises her natural concerns for family above the personal to the societal level – the grand organization of the family of man. The mission of the Sun and Moon together here is to impersonally serve the greater good. It is only when personal ambition and greed are allowed to express that we see the shadow side of Capricorn. Impersonal, however, is not to mean without feeling or compassion for the beings inhabiting the grand social structure of life. At this New Moon, Venus is tightly conjunct Capricorn’s ruler, Saturn, infusing the New Moon energy with her collaborative influence. If we are to manifest our intentions this year, the key may be in engagement with others.
Venus in Sagittarius is actually providing much of the subplot for this period. In her gently persuasive manner, she moves out of the Saturn/Neptune square, having infused it with the power of her love, and segues into a trine with Uranus in Aries, exact on January 12th, to remind us that true love is free and the ways it can be expressed are as unique as the individuals from which it emanates. When Venus and Uranus have harmonious contacts, especially in the outgoing fire signs, we celebrate the differences in others and find adventure in making new connections as a way to expand our own way of being. Venus’ quest for knowledge continues when she squares the ruler of Sagittarius, Jupiter, exact on January 17th. When the archetypes of grace and abundance align in any aspect, the good life is evoked. While the square challenges them to be mindful of their appetite for excess, their influence nonetheless generates grandness of heart. With a little effort put into channeling that appetite into healthy pursuits, we should be able to partake in their benevolent gift of love and abundance.
Jupiter’s enthusiastic influence is also felt in the Inferior Conjunction between retrograde Mercury and the Sun in Capricorn, which is exact on January 14th. Marking the commencement of the new four-month Mercury cycle, the “New Moon” period of pure potential is when seed ideas are planted. If we’ve been reviewing the nature of our fight during this retrograde due to Mars influence at the outset, perhaps now as Mercury’s square to Mars has waned a new way of perceiving will open up. Tightly flanking the Inferior Conjunction both the Sun and Mercury trine Jupiter (on January 13th and 14th respectively) that adds the DNA of a panoramic perspective to the seed ideas forming at this time. We may realize that there is no need to fight and that, in fact, the effort required to fight, especially if it is for a self-serving purpose, is exhausting rather than replenishing. With Jupiter now in charge, there is the potential for the need to fight transforming into the need to gain more knowledge. An educated mind is mightier than the fist.
In turn, Mars’ perspective is elevated on January 18th when he trines Neptune who brings him in tune with the essence of the spiritual warrior who sees that the real battle is within. Mars in Scorpio is comfortable in assertively engaging in discoveries of the deep, and Neptune is at his most compelling in his home sign of Pisces, taking us on a magical mystery tour of the cosmos and our psyche, the macro and micro of beingness. Mars and Neptune engage in the ultimate battle against fear, the core root of all suffering. According to don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements, the characteristics of the Spiritual Warrior are awareness, courage, discipline and commitment to transform the emotional body. If we put all our energy into mastering these characteristics in our nature rather than projecting our fight onto someone or something outside of ourselves, we will find we’ve reached the basis for achieving mastery of our lives.
Here’s the data (using Pacific Time and planetary positions rounded to the nearest whole degree, unless otherwise noted):
January 5th – Mercury square Mars at 1° Aquarius /Scorpio at 4:00 a.m.
January 5th – Mercury station retrograde at 1° Aquarius at 5:06 a.m.
January 5th – Venus square Neptune at 8° Sagittarius/Pisces at 6:34 a.m.
January 5th – Sun conjunct Pluto at 15° Capricorn at 7:26 p.m.
January 7th – Sun square Uranus at 17° Capricorn/Aries at 4:22 a.m.
January 7th – Jupiter station retrograde at 23° Virgo at 8:40 p.m.
January 8th – Mercury at 29°29’ Capricorn at 11:37 a.m.
January 8th – Venus conjunct Saturn at 12° Sagittarius at 8:11 p.m.
January 9th – Moon conjunct Sun (New Moon) at 19° Capricorn at 5:30 p.m.
January 12th – Venus trine Uranus at 17° Sagittarius/Aries at 4:11 p.m.
January 13th – Sun trine Jupiter at 23° Capricorn/Virgo at 2:49 p.m.
January 14th – Sun conjunct Mercury (Inferior Conjunction) at 24° Capricorn at 6:05 a.m.
January 14th – Mercury trine Jupiter at 23° Capricorn/Virgo at 6:15 p.m.
January 17th – Venus square Jupiter at 23° Sagittarius /Virgo at 9:10 p.m.
January 18th – Mars trine Neptune at 8° Scorpio/Pisces at 3:02 a.m.