This period caps a game changing year with a rapid succession of even more game changing alignments. The first group is centered around the New Moon Solar Eclipse on December 14, with the Sun and Moon conjunct Mercury in Sagittarius and trine Mars in Aries. This four-planet alignment in fire signs is archetypally coded to ignite our passion to explore unfamiliar territory, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be hopping a plane to anywhere, especially considering the pandemic induced restrictions we are still under. But it could mean we’ll be fired up to learn something new or have stirrings within for a big shift in our approach to something. Eclipses represent beginnings and endings in that they often correlate to memorable, definitive changes in our thinking that motivate us to move out of a state of inertia. Mercury conjunct the eclipse and Mars in trine to it bring high energy and clarity of mind, body and spirit. We’ll know what we need to do, so we can just do it.
Mercury closes in on the Sun to form the Superior Conjunction in the last degrees of Sagittarius on December 19. This is the “full moon” phase of the four-month Mercury cycle that began on October 25, indicating the fulfillment of a thought movement initiated at the beginning of the cycle. Clarity of purpose comes to mind as we come to grips with all the pressure, stress, confusion and losses we’ve experienced in this strange unforgettable year. What have we learned or how has our perspective of life changed in the process of creating our new normal? Some think life has just been on hold, but isn’t it more of a rewrite in the sense of letting go of old ways and reframing our approach? As the Sun and Mercury unite heart and mind, may we contemplate how we might make conscious choices about what we want to have as part of this changed forever life that would reflect how we have gone to the next level. Sagittarius is concerned with expanding our knowledge about the nature of reality and our collective human existence. The next level for it would entail more fully expressing the Sagittarian art of living together.
Shortly after the Superior Conjunction, both Mercury and the Sun leave the cosmic-reaching sign of Sagittarius for the constructive, pragmatic sign of Capricorn. The Sun at 0° Capricorn on December 21 is the moment of the Winter Solstice (in the northern hemisphere). This marks the beginning of the astrological new year and the symbolically significant return of the light. The quarterly progression of equinoxes and solstices set the tone for the ensuing seasons, but the Winter Solstice also gives us an archetypal blueprint for what direction the coming year will take. All the aspects discussed in this article are included in that blueprint, and whatever issues are in the forefront now, personally and collectively, are likely to be the dominant themes that will be developed over the course of 2021.
This brings us to the hallmark alignment of this period that not only will play out in 2021 but for many, many years to come. On December 16, Saturn enters Aquarius and on December 19, Jupiter follows suit. On December 21, the same day as the Solstice, the pair will initiate a new 20-year cycle when they conjunct at 0° Aquarius. There are many reasons why this alignment will likely correlate to the beginning of a major new social movement, and I encourage you to read about them in Jim Sher’s wonderful article here. As he says, the change could be palpable. We may initially just feel a release from the heavy Capricornian dominance of 2020 that correlated with the major restructuring of the way we conduct the business of life. But as we start looking forward, we may start sensing something else.
The air sign of Aquarius represents our social connections and our friendships. It is also the archetype which galvanizes people into aligning in a unified purpose that serves humanity. Dane Rudhyar’s comment on the archetype of air extends its significance even further:
“Air, as far as we know at least on this planet of ours, is the soul of the biospheric environment… It is that which makes it possible for all human beings to experience their unity, because it links us all. We all breathe the same air. The air we breathe now, in two or three months will have circulated around the whole globe and been released by millions of other human beings. That air goes into the most intimate region of our being. People we might hesitate to touch, or make love with, or contact, or whatever – we are at one with them through the air we breathe.”
As the societal planets, Jupiter and Saturn ask us to contemplate what it means to be human sharing this planet together. Their conjunction at this time amplifies their seemingly contradictory archetypes of expansion and contraction, yet we can learn to allow both movements dance together within us in a stable, undulating current of ebb and flow. Saturn moving from the earth sign it rules to the air sign it ruled before Uranus was discovered suggests the changes needed to take us into a more unified future will not happen quickly. It will take time to repair the absolute mess we’ve created so evident now due to the interrelated crises of 2020, and it will take patience for this new cycle to reveal itself.
For a quick taste of how some of this might manifest we can look back to the last Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in the air sign of Libra in 1981 (in the alternating phase between the last 200 years of Jupiter/Saturn cycles in earth signs and the next phase in air signs). As an example of Jupiter leaning into Saturn’s focus on structures, “Repurposing” and “adaptive reuse” became new concepts in urban development in Los Angeles, two examples of which were the old firehouse Engine Co. #28 converted into a restaurant, and an old bank into the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Both projects preserved the historical and artistic merits of the old structures and gave them new purpose that served the evolving needs of the community. For me Saturn leaning into Jupiter’s philosophical focus correlated with a total reboot of the modern New Age movement that commenced in the mid-1800s with Madame Helena Blavatsky. That is when I became committed to a spiritual path as a result of being introduced to mind-blowing metaphysical ideas that lit my internal fire. With the Jupiter/Saturn cycles now in air signs for the next 200 years, one of my hopes is that the fossil fuel industry will finally embrace going green so we can breathe clean air again.
As a final note, another significant alignment infused in the Solstice chart is the third and final square between Mars in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn occurring on December 23. In effect since July, this planetary pair represents a fundamental use of power that is willful and compelling, often too strong to be regulated by an untrained mind. When activated, it can feel like a great force welling up from the core of our being. That can express as rage if we have been suppressing our feelings. But at its higher expression, this force can be harnessed to gain significant traction and forge ahead by cutting through anything that is not authentic. Galvanized into the astrological new year Solstice chart, this alignment represents an imperative to be true to our deepest, pioneering and creative nature.