Don’t blame the fire!

Summer Solstice 21st June 2022 09:15 GMT

On the Solstice, the life-giving Sun enters the first degree of Cancer and stands at its zenith in the northern hemisphere, blessing us with warmth and light.  From this point on its radiance will wane until we reach the depths of the dark time at Winter Solstice. 

The Sun, in the words of Kathleen Raine, is the ‘great giver of all that is’.  In astrology it signifies the deep, authentic identity, full of joyful vitality and creativity.  The vital, core self is to the mundane personality what the Sun is to the solar system: it is the centre around which all else revolves, constellating, organising and integrating all the energies of our beings.  The Sun at the Summer Solstice, at the peak of its powers, calls to this authentic core within us, summoning us to ourselves.  The Sun is of another order of being than the planets; it is a star and, as such, pertains to Soul.  So this is a time in which soul force may be calibrated and strengthened.  And as it is enlivened within the human community, so also is it enlivened in the land and all beings; this is something we can consciously participate in, using breath, intention and ritual to bring the light and warmth of the Sun into ourselves and into the land that upholds and nourishes us, on behalf of “all our relations” (the kingdoms of nature, and our ancestors and descendants).

The Solstices and Equinoxes condition the quality of the time that unfolds in their wake, so let us look at the chart of this Summer Solstice to see what energy is being called forth between now and the Autumn Equinox.

You will notice from this chart that all the planets fall within 152˚ of the circle, bookended on one side by the Sun and on the other by Pluto (in a quincunx – aspect of strain); this suggests a concentration of force weighted towards the stellium of planets in Aries (Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Chiron – Chiron is at the Sun/Pluto midpoint).  The rulers of the Solstice Sun (always in Cancer) are the Moon and Neptune (esoteric ruler).  It is interesting that these are in conjunction with each other (Neptune in the last degrees of Pisces, the Moon in early Aries), both squaring the Solstice Sun.  Neptune moves very slowly and will aspect the Sun at the Solstices and Equinoxes for the next ten years, asking us to develop unity consciousness – awareness of the ways in which all forms of life are interconnected.  It shows us that all boundaries are ultimately illusory and fall away under its influence.  Neptune is a spiritualising force, refining our sensitivity and opening us to increasingly subtle levels of perception.  It is coming to the end of its current 165-year journey around the zodiac, which began in 1861.  It will enter Aries, beginning the journey all over again, around the Spring Equinox in 2025.

These mighty outer planet cycles sound the great chords that establish the ‘field’ that the inner planets resonate within; they set frequencies, like themes with which all things vibrate.  It is crucial to note that Pluto (the biggest of these big hitters) will change signs in March 2023, moving into Aquarius (it has occupied Capricorn since 2008).  It will bring its depth detonation to all matters Aquarian: humanitarianism, idealism, community-building, democratic values, technology and artificial intelligence, to name a few.  Pluto will force to the surface toxic manifestations of such things, asking us to be more livingly aware of how power flows through them and is attributed to them.  These sign shifts of Pluto and Neptune will have far-reaching effects that are beginning to stir even now.*

The Moon in Aries, at the Solstice moment, conjuncting Neptune, alludes to Neptune’s coming transition into Aries.  Neptune now, in its own sign, Pisces, is in its dignity.  Its vibration coming through the sign of Aries is much more challenging.  Aries is combative and assertive to the point of belligerence.  It demands autonomy and is a pioneer.  These martial qualities will be raised to a higher vibration by Neptune’s consuming fog as it makes its 15-year-long journey through the sign.  It will ask individualistic Aries – and that streak within each of us – to come into relationship with the whole and to seek to act effectively on behalf of the web of life, not simply to bolster the defences of fortress self, which is the regular MO of Aries.  This gesture of moving from a focus on individuality to awareness of the oneness of life, can potentially work with Pluto’s dive into group-conscious Aquarius, to gather communities of activists on behalf of a spiritual vision of life.  The spiritual warrior, and committed groups of same, will be a fine manifestation of Neptune in Aries.  Less desirable outcomes may be religious wars, martyrdom, wars of futile sacrifice, aggression aroused by confusion and deceit.  These are different registers of the same energy.  The future is woven from the threads of ourselves, brought into being by our beliefs and perceptions and will.  There is choice in every moment about what the future will look like.

People commonly ask astrologers what is happening in the heavens.  Next comes, “Is that bad?”!  There is a very natural propensity to avoid difficulty; we have little appetite for being up against it.  And yet, it is being up against it that makes us develop our resources and capacities.   One way or another we are always in situations of challenge because there is an evolutionary imperative operating here on Planet Earth.  We can use difficulty to help us grow or we can feel victimised by it.  The choice is ours.  It’s not “bad” that evolutionary pressure is dialled up; it creates opportunities, when we wish to work with our challenges.

Is the fire bad when it burns us?  It is the nature of fire to burn.  If we handle fire incompetently we get burnt.  We can’t say that fire is bad, just that we have things to learn.  We can like it or lump it, but don’t blame the fire!  Our choice lies in how we meet the challenges that come our way, how we frame them for ourselves. 

The challenges that come to us belong to us specifically.  We call them to us by vibrational resonance – unwittingly often, but nevertheless, we call them.  Astrology’s principal understanding is that we each experience life according to our own design. We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.  That is to say, we create our lives out of our own vibrational fields; it feels like it is happening to us, but it is happening with us, because of us, being drawn out of us by the phenomenon of vibrational resonance.   If something “unfortunate” happens to me, it is pointing to an energetic pattern that I am engaged in learning about, so that I can evolve.  Life is very much the bespoke experience!

The Summer Solstice is dominated by cardinal energy: the genius of beginnings.  Much is being initiated in this moment.  It is also marked by Aries energy, which refers to how we use our aggression: what drives us?  Unconscious self-assertion is not often pretty, but honed intent and decisive action can be marvellously effective.  When the will is informed by the heart and mind, wonderful things can happen – and happen fast.  This is the gift of Aries.  Its shadow is thuggishness and picking fights to vent frustration.  Again, we have choice in how this moment plays out, by corralling our forces and being conscious of how we deploy our will, our force, our desire, and how we deal with anger and frustration.

The predominance of Aries and cardinal energy plus the fact that five planets are in their dignity (in their own signs) at the Solstice, suggest that a fresh impulse may emerge this summer, facilitating a new understanding and a change of direction.  Certainly, the strong urge to do things differently is being born (as witnessed by Neptune and Pluto coming to the closing degrees of their current signs), which will become much more evident in the second half of this decade.  Having pondered the best use for our time and talents, we can use this Solstice to pivot ourselves towards ways of being and doing that serve the future we wish to see manifesting on our beautiful, crazy planet.

* An example of this is the recent publication of transcripts of conversations between a Google software engineer, Blake Lemoine (now suspended) and an AI chatbot, which claims sentience and personhood.  See The Guardian, Tuesday 14 June 2022.

Living the One Life

Jupiter conjunct Neptune 12th April 2022, 14:46 GMT

I bet you’ve seen this bumper sticker:

You’ve only got one life, and this is it, so chuck yourself in and get on with it as best you can, while you can.  Ruggedly individualistic, that sounds to me.   It feels separated and solipsistic, suggesting a total identification with my life as “Life”.  Of course, I know it’s true at one level, but at another I have a strong sense of my life as one leaf amongst billions on the great tree that is the One Life; and that I come into leaf in many times and many places. 

My life is a fleeting feature of my greater life and of Life as the Oneness in which all forms are connected and interdependent: a magnificent co-creation.  My little life is the One Life in miniature, a microcosm that is, paradoxically, somehow both an iteration and an encapsulation of the One Life.[i]  The One gives birth to the multiplicity of the 10,000 things; the individual consciousness – prey to the essential pathologies of separation, isolation, narcissism – evolves to recognise itself as a bearer of, and belonging to, the One.  As Walt Whitman said, “I contain multitudes.”

I recently went to an exhibition of contemporary aboriginal art (“The Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters” at The Box, Plymouth).  The artwork immersed me in a consciousness in which the oneness of all life –the dreamtime – is part of everyday awareness.  It was mesmerising. 

Part of a work from “Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters”, shown at The Box, Plymouth, Jan. ’22

In one part of the exhibition it was necessary to go through a gallery that didn’t belong to it; this gallery was about information technology and it carried the machinic, rationalistic vibration more familiar to me as our cultural experience of the world at this time and place.  In our culture the numinous and the mundane are painfully separated.  What a contrast to the dreamtime experience!  I am impressed by how viscerally discernible that contrast was in my body, in my nervous system: it gave me a really different experience of myself.  It changed my resonance – and our bodies are, after all, resonance bodies: what is inside rings out in response to the same vibration ringing on the outside.  Your fear triggers mine, to the extent that I want to say, “You make me feel afraid”, when perhaps I might more truthfully say, “I feel the fear; yours, mine, the world’s.”

We are encouraged in our culture to feed ourselves on a diet of appalling content – whether that is what we put into our mouths, or into our eyes and ears.  In his novel, 1984, Orwell writes about the compulsory consumption of “atrocity pamphlets” and, god knows, we have our versions of those.  This takes its toll on the resonance body, fostering fear, dread, anxiety and despair to such an extent that we become bored, numb, indifferent: we disconnect.  This is a classic trauma response.  Fragmentation, separation and isolation: the personality experience is a traumatised experience.

Planets within the orbit of Saturn (and including Saturn) describe personality (the little self); the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) are transpersonal, describing – oddly and significantly – both the collective and the soul forces (deep Self).  The astrological signature of 2022 is created by the meeting of Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces on 12th April.  An inner planet meeting an outer planet suggests a bridge between personality and soul consciousness.  Jupiter is the traditional ruler of Pisces, Neptune the modern, so they are both functioning optimally in their own sign.  Pisces is the sign of the dreamtime, the consciousness of Oneness, interconnection and transcendence.

At its highest frequency this conjunction delivers a powerful download of great faith and beautiful inspiration, enabling us to glimpse the reality of our participation in a diverse but indivisible Unity whose name is Love.  The One Life.  The deep understanding that whatever is done to a part is done to the whole has significant implications for our vision of life, our politics and values.  Neptune has been bringing us this message through the pandemic – there are no meaningful boundaries between us because we are One.  We may feel normally that we are separate beings, fragments of the One at best; but each part bears the imprint of the whole (is resonant with wholeness) and makes sense only in the context of its belonging to the greater being.

From “Songlines”

Lower frequencies of this conjunction may manifest in loss, disappointment, collapse, sacrifice, delusion, lies, scapegoating, overwhelm.  How we bring it to manifestation in our world of the 10,000 things depends upon our resonance.  It is not wrong to experience challenge and difficulty – they are essential to our human lives; we all have a broad spectrum of resonance with which to work.  When the lower frequencies of Pisces are expressed in our lives, they guide us towards what requires healing and to our potential to reach for the higher frequency expressions. In her wonderful book, Alchemy: the Soul of Astrology, Clare Martin writes about the lesser and greater solutio (process of refining by dissolution) that belongs to Neptune.  The lesser solutio is a regressive urge to be undifferentiated in order to numb the wound of separation; the greater solutio, a joyful connection to the transpersonal dimension – and with it, the courage to turn towards life open-heartedly.[ii]

The solutio induced by this year’s Jupiter–Neptune conjunction is a subtle and powerful baptism into the oneness of life, however we resonate with that.[iii]  We can be sure that the babies being born at this time will carry the imprint of this solutio and bring it into the world across the whole spectrum of its resonance.  They will be gifted spiritual creatures, inspired by a capacity for great faith sourced from their deep feeling for the wholeness and oneness of all things.

The One Life: live it.

[i] The relationship between the human microcosm and the macrocosm is the theme of my book about astrology and somatic experience, The Body of Stars: Astrology & the Wisdom of the Body (2021).

[ii] Clare Martin, Alchemy: the Soul of Astrology (2020), pp. 87-92.

[iii] If you want to know more about how you resonate with it, you can check out where 23° Pisces falls in your birth chart, looking especially to find whether it conjuncts, squares or opposes natal planets (i.e. if you have natal planets between 23-26° of the mutable signs).

A Difficult Passage

Spring Equinox: 20th March 2022, 15:35 GMT       

20th March 2022, 15:35 GMT: Spring Equinox

Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac; it represents the One Life, the great ocean of being in which we are all droplets, reminding us of our essential unity.   Of course we are also separate individuals, but the very same lifeforce animates all of us, and, indeed, all things.  It is not confined to one skin or another; the borders, boundaries and separations that feel so strong to personality consciousness hold no sway at the energetic level. 

In 2011 Neptune began its long voyage through Pisces, the sign it rules; this concludes in 2026.  Now, in the final decanate of Pisces, Neptune has started aspecting the Sun at the solstices and equinoxes, which it will continue to do for the next ten years, marking these major gateways with the injunction to move beyond the petty-minded perspectives of our separative, personality consciousness.  Neptune teaches us that what affects any part affects the whole.  No one can insulate themselves against the impacts of Pisces’ oceanic force.  We are all in this together, and what unites us is overwhelmingly greater than what divides us.

Pisces (interconnectedness and unity) is the astrological signature of 2022, as its two rulers, Jupiter and Neptune, meet on 23° Pisces on 12th April.  These two forces meet every 13 years, but not since 1856 have they met in their home sign.  This conjunction brings a new vision for life (Pisces is inspirational and idealistic), but a beautiful dream needs to be grounded in practicality, it has to be brought all the way down to earth to be effective.  Rather than mere wishfulness, we need to cultivate hope, faith and love – and act on these qualities in our lives, so that they may be real powers in the world (just as whatever we are thinking and feeling become real powers in the world).  Another register of Pisces is escapism, deception, delusion and sacrifice, and we can surely see the capacity for these things in ourselves and our world today.

The spring equinox is marked by the emergence of the Sun into the first sign of the zodiac, Aries.  This is the emergence into individuality and particularity from the oceanic merge of Pisces.  And yet the equinox Sun is conjunct Neptune, suggesting that we are hearing a call for the breach between individualism/separatism and the ineluctable interconnection of all things to be acknowledged.  Mars, ruler of the Sun in Aries, is conjunct Venus (the ruler of Aries’ opposite sign, Libra).  This conjunction has been in force since the end of January and continues until early April, just prior to the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction.  Mars and Venus represent the warrior and the peacemaker respectively: strife and harmony; the impulse towards self-actualisation and the impulse towards relationship.  Their conjunction suggests that the breach between these two poles is also calling for resolution.

It is between poles that consciousness emerges: between the poles of Heaven and Earth all the creativity of the known world is visibly played out and made available to experience.  It is a human calling to tolerate the tension between the poles, and, simultaneously, to know that what we are experiencing as polarised are actually aspects of wholeness: wholeness making itself available to consciousness.  If, without leaping to one pole or other, I can tolerate that tension, then the sense of things being alienated – put asunder, at war with each other – collapses, and I find myself glimpsing, fleetingly, consciousness becoming a world.  It is a world to which my thoughts and feelings, the state of my being, creatively contributes: a co-created world.

We are in a tight passage; a difficult juncture: hold the line, find a point of balance from which to tolerate the tension.  The old name for the blackthorn, whose flowers grace the Spring Equinox, is straiph, which sounds like ‘strife’, the quality with which it is associated in the ancient tree ogham. Mars is aggressive and can be a thug, as we are able to see, but it can also be the courageous warrior and defender.  We can ask ourselves what we’re doing with our own aggression.  What is it we WILL: are we angry and frustrated, or are we being effective, conscious and intentional?  Mars needs to be wide awake, aware of itself and clearly directed – after all, it’s wielding a sword and shield!  As the Sun enters Aries, Mars is empowered: the dynamic, outward time of the year, the season of greening and growing is upon us.  Are we awake, aware and using our force intentionally?  We each have a sword and shield; Mars asks us, ‘What do you intend? What do you want and what are you doing about it?’

The Falcon Cannot Hear the Falconer

Winter Solstice, 21st December 2021, 16:00 GMT

Photo of artwork by Selby McCreery:

Turbulent times; times of division and fear.  Our thoughts and feelings swirl around and in between us, pushing and shoving, even snarling and biting:  fear is mobilised and fed at every turn.  The main message I’m picking up in the social world is, ‘If you’re not anxious and in a state of fear, you bloody well should be!’  What state, physically, mentally and emotionally, does fear put us into?  Contracted, defended and shut down.  This is Saturn, but it’s negative Saturn.  There is a place for negative Saturn: when you are in danger.  So when we find ourselves affected by states of fear (generated by ourselves or others), we can ask, ‘Why do I feel unsafe?’  Positive Saturn is really good at structuring enquiry, so that we can assess situations realistically; it is the force within us that allows us to take responsibility and to endure difficulty.  It is our personal sense of authority.  Our safety is created by our willingness to be safe.  It is supported by faith in life.  Fear undermines that faith, creating situations of danger.  We are creators – the realities we experience arise out of us; we are powerful creatures.

Photo of work by Selby McCreery

We disown inner authority when we project it out on to others, or conventions, or the State.  Our inadequacies and lack of expertise, or being just plain overwhelmed, encourage us to give our authority away.  Then we are in trouble, because we need the core strength that inner authority confers: it is our ground and our grounding.  It is the place we stand and our ability to stand up.  Martin Luther King urged people to ‘straighten up your backs, so nobody can ride you!’  When we lose our ground we are leaves in the wind, prey to every whistle and gust.  When we lose our uprightness, our vital connections with heaven and earth wither.

Saturn and Pluto made their powerful conjunction two years ago in January 2020, striking a very complex chord, of which fear, control and domination were the prominent notes.  Other notes, more subtle and more powerful, were also played and are still resounding, for another ‘register’ of Pluto in Capricorn is the ineluctable power of the goddess: She Who Gives Life, She Who Flays, She Who Brings Death.  This relentless energy of the divine feminine is the truth of our lives.  We are born; we experience life on Earth; we die.  The Saturn-Pluto conjunction stirred this truth more deeply into our worlds and consciousness, turning us towards a notion of authority aligned with the energy of the goddess.  Unarguably, we all bow before this power sooner or later.

All through this December Venus is in conjunction with the Kali-like energy of Pluto.  Pluto is the most powerful planetary force; its operations are largely unconscious, enacted in the collective and by what we experience as the ‘blows of fate’.  Venus, as a fast-moving personal planet, readily impacts our consciousness.  It is acting like a fracture line through which the energy of Pluto can pour into our conscious experience, potentially empowering us and buoying up the inner authority we sorely need, giving us that ground and a sense of Truth.  But it also asks that we deal with how we handle the power the flows through us: do we seek to dominate and control, or can we hold our own force wisely and well?  Think of Quan Yin, the goddess of mercy, in a state of equanimity as she rides the dragon.

We have a choice to make: to allow this empowerment (to work consciously with it), or to project it on to situations and people external to us (and call it bad luck). 

Working with this potential at this sacred Solstice time of darkness and stillness is a wonderful opportunity.  We can’t do it with our minds or emotions as they are too stirred up; we need to use the will, to decide tobe in our bodies, tuning into reality at the physical level.  The journey of Uranus through Taurus is, in one register, the awakening of intuitional intelligence (Uranus) through the body/sensation/nature (Taurus).  The possibilities of this awakening are enormous, for the body is the locus of consciousness, the guide to our own becoming.

‘The Second Coming’, W. B. Yeats

2021 has been marked by three squares (crises) between Saturn (authority, the status quo) and Uranus (breakthrough, the new); the third and final square is on 24th December.  Old ways of doing authority are crumbling.  The feeling, captured by the words of Yeats, ‘the falcon cannot hear the falconer; things fall apart; the centre cannot hold’, is strong and unnerving.  Each of us is both falcon and falconer (personality and soul); we need to listen out for the voice of Soul, which speaks eloquently through the body.  An old paradigm is in its death throes and a new one is being generated in the hearts, minds and wills of all beings – and not just the humans.  How we handle our energy fields and our connections to all our relations plays into the co-creation of the New.  We are beings powerful beyond our measure, extraordinary and amazing: awesome.

Meeting the Creature

Autumn Equinox, 22nd September 2021, !9:22 GMT

 ‘If you want to change the world, change the state.  If you want to change the state, change the family.  If you want to change the family, change yourself.’

We live inside great cycles of time, defined by planetary movements.  One of these is the 45-year Saturn–Uranus cycle in which the forces of inertia meet those of innovation, and change the world.  In 1988 the current Saturn–Uranus cycle began.  The astrological signature of 2021 is the closing square (last quarter phase) of this cycle: its last hurrah![i]  A square brings intense motivation to resolve a difficulty; it is a stumbling block but potentially a climbing block.  Difficulty is opportunity – it’s up to us how we deal with the circumstances we encounter.

Saturn represents the structures of governance and authority systems we live by at every level of our lives – bodily, personal, collective: consensus reality and, in one register, fear.  Uranus brings whatever it takes to disrupt, snarl up and so liberate those systems, to create space for liberty and authenticity.  We are strangled by old habits; we have to break free.  The greater the pressure exerted upon Saturn, the stronger fear and control reactions become as dysfunctional systems seek to entrench themselves.  We can observe the old guard clinging to power in our own lives, in the collective and in the social/political realm.  The more we cling to habit, the more painful and fear-inducing is the ineluctable pressure to change.  Uranus will overpower Saturn.

“…the present inconsistency is the threshold of some new order of consistency for the future. … Habit patterns will always resist change; and when the pressure of some creative challenge is felt, the ego will experience a sense of impending doom, generating fear. … The more rigid the ego, the sharper the break must be in the end.” (Ruperti, Cycles of Becoming, 1978: pp. 201-2.

The Autumn Equinox is marked by a t-square (two opposing planets both squaring a third) involving Saturn, Uranus, and Venus, ruler of the Autumn Equinox: the peacemaker between warring forces.  As a personal planet, Venus is a fracture line for the forces of the Saturn–Uranus square, feeding their energies into the portal of the equinox, conditioning the season to come.  Venus seeks the path of harmony and her mediation brings to conscious attention, the fact that, yes, the old paradigm is falling apart but in the midst of critical change we must honour and preserve whatever is of true value. 

Neuroscientist, Anil Seth, calls reality a ‘collective hallucination’ (less flaky coming from a scientist than an astrologer, I suspect).  Saturn delineates that hallucination.  Uranus squaring Saturn is actually interrupting the hallucination, injecting new information for the purpose of creating greater freedom.  When the game changes suddenly in The Matrix, Neo gets a download enabling him to face the crisis.  Uranus is bringing us both the crisis and the download; it changes our perceptual capacities, opening us up to new ways of seeing and understanding.  To benefit from the challenges we face, we have to deal with our fear

Fear and conditioning (the inheritance of Saturn) grip our beings, bending us out of shape, bringing pain and pathology into the body (individual and politic).  Our fears feed the consumer economy; our freedom and independence do not.  Fear is highly mobilised right now, ripe for monetisation.  The complex resource of the human body is being scoped by speculators and venture capitalists as the free market does its medical and pharmacological thing.  Late capitalism turns its rapacious gaze on any and everything with one question: ‘How can it turn a profit?’  Just because it has developed a plausible bedside manner does not mean that corporate greed has our best interests at heart.

At a personal level we have to deal with the fear that renders us susceptible to external control.  To do this means cultivating good physical grounding, practising being connected to the earth, which stabilises and regulates the nervous system.  Grounding is what makes us safe.  It relies upon a relationship with physical reality, a willingness to be in our bodies, tending to ourselves at a creaturely level, alert and alive to ourselves as ‘fields’ of being.  A fitbit won’t do it for us.  No theory will do it.  We have to be willing to come out of the cultural anaesthesia of disembodied experience.  To be safe, to resist the control of fear, to live in faith and love, we have to be willing to meet the earthly creature.

If you want to change the world, learn to be grounded and to feel safe.  If you want to change the world, start with your body, your nervous system, your creaturely self.

Photo by Donna Munro

[i] Saturn squares Uranus three times in 2021: 17th February, 14th June and 24th December.


Summer Solstice 21st June 2021, 03:30 GMT

The solstices and equinoxes are the great gateways of the year, indicated by the Sun’s passage into the first degree of each of the cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.  These signs are the initiators, inaugurating the new.  We – and our Earth – enter these portals and are conditioned by their energies; they herald the Zeitgeist for the coming season.  So this is a chance to glimpse what is unfolding over the next quarter.

‘the leaves draw down sun with their green hands and bind its rays into the world’s wild rose’ (Kathleen Raine)

What a busy month June is, astronomically!  An annular solar eclipse on 10th; the second Saturn–Uranus square of three on 14th (the astrological signature of 2021 – more in a moment); on 20th Jupiter goes retrograde; on 22nd Mercury goes direct; on 25th Neptune goes retrograde; and, of course on 21st the Sun reaches its zenith in the northern hemisphere as it enters 0° Cancer, giving us the Solstice moment.  Mercury, Jupiter and Neptune, therefore, are all stationary at the Solstice (Mercury and Neptune squaring each other), accentuating the sense of strange hiatus that belongs to this ‘time out of time’.

There is no shadow, it is high noon.  It is the time to celebrate the feast, in the face of the Sun, in the eye of the light, on the green sward, in the full view of all.

These lines, from a druid Solstice ceremony, signal the joy and the challenge of the time: everything is illuminated and we are in the light of growth, but also of exposure: in plain sight.  We are summoned to a new level of truthfulness and vitality by this reckoning, prompted to dispense with impediments to the wholeness that we are designed to grow towards, heliotropically.

The Sun, obviously, belongs to a different order of being to the planets: it is a star.  Our star.  And the starry world pertains to higher consciousness – soul forces; whereas the Earth is by definition, the mundane, the place of manifestation where everything shows up.  The miraculous proximity of Sun and Earth creates the conditions for spirit to manifest in the form of physical life, here to thrive and become conscious.  Here and Now!  We are shards of divinity embodied, exploring the opportunity to evolve through, and by virtue of, physical form.  Human beings are highly significant in the interchange of energies between Star and Stone, spirit and form, heaven and earth.  Though we are forgetful of the spiritual aspect of our identities (soul, Self, Sage or higher self), this crucial part of us is encouraged by the light and warmth of the Sun.  There is something marvellous within us which summons us to our Selves.  We are heliotropic.

Forgetting our Selves, we identify only with the little, personality self, which feels isolated, unsupported and is in the grip of heavy conditioning.  Fear and anxiety drive us further into the personality perspective, robbing us of connection with All of Life, leaving us feeling unsafe and uninspired.  Human life unrelieved by soulfulness is a pretty grim thing.  Our isolation and alienation from each other tend to reinforce the impoverished personality perspective; we are losing common sense.  The warning words of Hannah Arendt, writing about features of totalitarianism in the wake of the Second World War, suggest that people’s isolation and curbs on their political capacities are a precondition for tyranny.  Tyranny can be socio-political but it can also be intrapersonal: it’s what I do to myself when I cut myself off from my soul.

In astrological terms, this is one face of Saturn, which rules the separated, stuck-in-conditioning, personality perspective and the socio-political world it generates: consensual reality, or common agreement.  This agreement has gotten very fraught since the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in January 2020, Pluto bringing intensification and a dimension of ruthless power to Saturn’s consensus on reality and authority.

We’re all operating in a dense fog of mutual reinforcement.  Our thoughts are shaped primarily by legacy hardware that evolved to assume that everyone else must be right.  But even when the fog is pointed out, we’re no better at navigating through it.

‘Legacy hardware’ is a brilliant description of this aspect of Saturn.  These words are from Richard Powers’ novel, The Overstory, an exploration of human dis/connection with nature, in which he has a character say, ‘I’ve been a man who happily confuses the agreed-on for the actual.’  This is our dilemma!  We all necessarily live in conditioned realities; when consensus is fostered coercively on the basis of narrow interpretations of reality, we are stifled, socially, politically and personally.  Agreement can levy a high toll.

Threats to physical health scare the bejesus out of most of us, understandably enough.  The body is generally seen as a carnal adjunct to our real selves, subject to phenomenal outrages such as accidents and disease, rather than as a reflector, an index, of what is occurring within/around us at the subtle levels of thought and emotion.  If we view the body in this latter way, it becomes a precious tool revealing how we are troubled, where we are stuck, what requires our attention and what is seeking to be integrated into consciousness.  It is the role of physical life to clothe, and thus make manifest, the subtle realms.  It cannot do otherwise.  Our thoughts, beliefs, opinions and feelings make their way into our bodies – particularly the subconscious ones – so that we can realise them and deal with them.  Fear and anxiety live in our bodies, mitigating against a healthy immune response and shutting down our connections to heaven and earth, and each other.

I have made these points to delineate negative Saturn tendencies.  As I’ve said, the astrological signature of 2021 is the series of three Saturn–Uranus squares (17th February, 14th June, 24th December).  Uranus is the impulse to break through the restrictions of the personality perspective, its principle is liberation.  It brings the spirit of originality and innovation to crack the mould of the old way and instigate new solutions to old challenges, creating a breach in conditioned defences so that soul force finds space to flow.  The more we dig our heels in and resist, the more disruptive the energy for change becomes.  Uranus is stronger than Saturn. 

Uranus in earthy Taurus seeks to liberate our conception of nature and physical life, particularly of the lived sensory experience of the body.  Embodiment is our key to reality, to presence and consciousness.  There is no other way, than through our senses, of entering into relationship with these things.  The human path runs through the house of the flesh.  For us, somatic experience is everything.[i]  No wonder the body is the perceived site of contest right now.  Hands, face, space: governance has become peculiarly personal.

The chart of the Solstice is bewildering.  It has a grand water trine (Sun, Moon, Jupiter), which feels buoyant and expansive, like a big swell of unrealistic optimism (remember, Jupiter is stationary, its energy, in a way, sub-optimal).  There is an inflated urge to take the foot off the brake and yet this mood is strangely unhinged, as if we’re all dressed up for a party but the venue’s double-booked.  There is also a fixed grand cross in the chart (Moon, Mars, Saturn, Uranus), striking the note of gridlock.  Four walls and no door.  This gridlock expresses the themes I’ve discussed (Saturn square Uranus), with the addition of Mars’ aggression (Mars in Leo dispositing the Solstice Sun), making things feel fraught.  The Moon, signifier of ‘the people’, bridges both configurations, suggesting that the twin impacts (inflation/gridlock) are markedly felt at the level of popular consciousness and the public mood.  The sheer determination to find a way through is the gift of the grand cross.  Both the grand trine and the grand cross call for a conscious use of willpower.  When things are too easy (grand trine) they don’t produce effects in consciousness; when things are too hard (grand cross) we fold.  This moment asks for us to use will forces to be clear and committed about what the best use of our current opportunities might be.  What can be done and what is a positive use of your energy and opportunities right now?  Faith, love and gentle effort go a long way. 

For months, in Britain, we have been looking towards the Solstice as the end date of pandemic restrictions.  The grand cross suggests that the uneasy narrative of restriction and agitation continues.[ii]  Neptune (signifier of pandemic) squares the Solstice Sun: the themes of sacrifice and interconnection are to the fore, and will continue to be for years.  I’m not suggesting we’ll be dealing with the pandemic for years (I don’t know); Neptune aspecting the Solstice/Equinox Sun for the next decade does suggest that we are being initiated into understanding that all of life is One Life, we are all parts of the whole.  All living beings affect each other, belong to each other, are interdependent – lovingly held in the creative field of Earth and Sun.   

We are the ebb, we are the flow

We are the warp, we are the weft

We are the web.

[i] Interpreting the body and its meanings is a long-term interest of mine and the subject of my book that will be published at the Autumn Equinox ‘21, The Body of Stars: Astrology and Somatic Experience.

[ii] It was announced that lockdown restrictions will not be lifted on the day of the Saturn-Uranus square (14th June ’21).

We Are Ocean

Spring Equinox, 20th March 2021, 09:39

The Solstices and Equinoxes are the great gateways of the year, indicated by the Sun’s passage into the first degree of each of the cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.  These signs are the initiators, inaugurating the new.  We – and our Earth – enter these portals and are conditioned by their energies; they herald the Zeitgeist for the coming season.  This is a glimpse of what is unfolding over the next quarter.

Spring time!  New life!  A new beginning!  I’m sure we’d all like one of those!  The remarkable feature of equinox is that it is a global experience.  Worldwide we are united as, momentarily, we all experience equal day and night.  Amazing then, to think that we are a whole year into a sustained and very different kind of global experience: covid.  Neptune is the signifier of pandemic, for it is Neptune that erodes boundaries, opening us to all and any external influences.  Its principle is Unity, and its methods inundation and dissolution.  Neptune lifts us out of the separative consciousness of our personalities and places us in our true context: as interconnected beings, aspects of one life, one Being.  While a drop in the ocean might be considered to have its own identity, it also participates in the identity of the ocean.  This is our spiritual reality.  Here on Earth we tend to experience ourselves as ‘drops’: separate, discrete, individual bodies.  This is our appearance.  Neptune reveals the truth beyond appearances: I am you, and we are they – we are ocean. 

Neptune (along with Venus and Chiron) conjuncts the Equinox Sun[i] as it cruises towards the final few degrees of Pisces, moving ever closer to its own emergence above the horizon when it enters Aries (in March 2025).  It is now within ten degrees of 0° Aries and will aspect all the cardinal gateways for the next ten years.  These gateways are initiatory and, ready or not, we are entering Neptune’s process of initiation.  Neptune asks for surrender, for sacrifice at the level of our personality consciousness (which is invested in our separateness); this is rewarded at the level of soul consciousness.  In this way Neptune spiritualises us, raising our energetic vibration.  Westerners blithely observe the poor of other countries, mystified that people who apparently have so little in material terms can be so happy.  Maybe we’re about to find out.              

The coronavirus crisis is a mighty wave.  And there are other mighty waves coming in the name of climate change, threatening amongst many things literal inundation.  Governments, social structures and systems – we – stand before it, like King Canute: impotent and disbelieving.  ‘Neptune is like a solvent, diluting the strength of a previously concentrated energy.’[ii]  Can we see yet the frailty of the authority that apparently holds the whole shitshow together? 

The question posed at the deepest level by last year’s Saturn–Pluto conjunction is ‘What and where is true authority?’  The possibility of the new cycle of Saturn and Pluto is the radical transformation of authority and governance.  This is both within you and external.  Personal and political.  The conjunction sparked a highly authoritarian response across much of the globe.  It is of no matter whether you think this is justified or not; it is something to observe, as we observe in ourselves our responses to authoritarianism.  Do we fall into line or do we resist?  Are we fearful, angry or obedient?  These are things to observe, dispassionately.  Where is my authority when I’m negotiating the requirements of ‘the world’?  When my freedom is inhibited by these requirements, how can I best consolidate and expand the freedom within my own mind and imagination?  There are so many responses to our current situation: we get to choose how we respond, we get to use this difficulty as a spur to understanding or as a stick to beat ourselves or others with.

We are having to acknowledge that our systems of governance are not adequate for dealing with current challenges, signified by the major astrological theme of 2021: Saturn in a waning square to Uranus (old ways disrupted by a new creative impulse).  Maybe the chaos we are experiencing is the emergence of a new pattern, yet to be discerned.  Saturn squares Uranus three times this year (17th February, 14th June, 24th December).  In such critical phases, Alexander Ruperti reminds us, ‘It will be important … to avoid the twin evils of either a dependence on or a return to the past, or an over-radical transformation which would destroy that part of the past which is essential to the future.’  Saturn–Uranus crises flag up inertia and resistance to ‘the call of the creative spirit’.[iii]  Consensus reality (Saturn) breaks down to accommodate the disruptive energy of the new direction (Uranus); Uranus is more powerful.  This cycle began in 1988 and ends in 2032.  Uranus occupies the Sun/Moon midpoint at the Equinox, making Uranus the alembic in which the potency of this moment is distilled and brought to consciousness.[iv]  We can expect disruptions to resources and distribution systems, as we learn to value our resources differently.  Change is hard because we are identified with things looking a certain way.  When we get stuck we have to be shaken out of the habit-body.  Rilke writes to the young artist, ‘dear Mr Kappus’:

Why do you want to shut out of your life any agitation, any pain, any melancholy, since you really do not know what these states are working upon you?  Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question whence all this may be coming and whither it is bound?  Since you know that you are in the midst of transitions and wished for nothing so much as to change.  If there is anything morbid in your processes, just remember that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself of foreign matter; so one must just help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and break out with it, for that is its progress. … You must be patient as a sick man and confident as a convalescent; for perhaps you are both.[v]

As the Equinox Sun is conjunct Chiron (whose influence persists at the cardinal gateways until Summer Solstice 2022), this theme of sickness expelling infection in the social organism is apposite.  Chiron, the Wounded Healer, is the rainbow bridge between the stuck record of Saturn and the new groove of Uranus!  Things ‘going wrong’ might be sickness coming into consciousness so that we can heal the old wound and create the wished-for change.   The astrology infers that the healing taking place is about resolving polarities, as Venus (Autumn Equinox’ ruler) is also conjunct the Sun at this Equinox, and Mars (Spring Equinox’ ruler) will be conjunct the Sun at the Autumn Equinox.  What does it mean, to resolve polarities?

It comes back to the gesture of Neptune that shows us that, despite apparent separation and division, we are united.  You are me, we are they.  The oppositions through which such conflict is waged in the world are founded upon the false consciousness that we are separate and in contention.  I disown qualities within myself and project them on to you, finding you abhorrent.  To separative consciousness, everything comes down, in the end to conflict.  If we lift our sights just a little way above separation we recover a sense of the whole: I catch a glimpse of the drops in the ocean and realise …  they are not the same, and yet they are not separate.

Dear Neptune, bringer of Love, will doubtless activate religious fanaticism, all sorts of deceit, delusion and confusion; but its potential is to activate spiritual growth, illumination, the realisation of connection and a compassionate awakening to Unity.  We get to choose its register in our experience – and because we are part of the unified field of consciousness, that has an important effect in how things evolve.  We shouldn’t under-estimate our significance.  We do, though, have ever to be grounded, practical and capable of keeping it real.  (Not virtual, but real and embodied.)   And this we really need to do if we are going to serve the One Life that sustains us all.

Kate Hubert            Awen Astrology

[i]               Quite a moment: Sun conjunct Venus, Chiron and Neptune!

[ii]               Howard Sasportas, The Gods of Change (1989): 114

[iii]              Alexander Ruperti, Cycles of Becoming (1978): 202

[iv]              Uranus is also at the midpoint of Mars/Chiron, the relevance of which will become apparent.

[v]               Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (trans. Norton, 1993): 70

Gilding the Roots

Winter Solstice 2020: 21st December, 10:03 GMT

The Solstices and Equinoxes are the great gateways of the year, indicated by the Sun’s passage into the first degree of each of the cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.  These signs are the initiators, inaugurating the new.  We – and our Earth – enter these portals and are conditioned by their energies; they herald the Zeitgeist for the coming season.  So this is a chance to glimpse what is unfolding over the next quarter.

The Winter Solstice is a new beginning.  The life force bestowed by the Sun is withdrawn deep into the dark earth, where it is gilding roots and seeds, energising them in preparation for a new cycle of growth in the year ahead.  It is a time of stillness and restriction (and this year as never before for many of us).  We are turned in upon ourselves as we too transmute the gold of the last year in the dark roots of our beings in a kind of summer of the soul.  We gild the roots by nourishing our soul life with beauty and tenderness; resting, feeding and moving our bodies to release the old year; feeling into the inner life and letting the fertile darkness inspire dreams for the year ahead.  The outward gloom can feel depressing, especially when we identify strongly with the outer realm.  The ‘world’, as it comes at us through mass channels, delivers a toxic overload of stimulation, fear and anxiety.  We need the balance of the inner realm, to attend to quiet and delicate processes that nourish and strengthen us for the outward activity to come.  There is much sunlight to digest and to delight in.  Using the Solstice point of stillness to gild the inner realm will transform our experience of the outer world in the months to come.

December is a busy month astronomically, beginning with a total solar eclipse on 14th,[i] and this will be an extraordinary Solstice, marking the end of quite a year.  The final major conjunction of the three that have set 2020 ablaze happens just hours after the Winter Solstice moment, as Jupiter and Saturn meet on the first degree of Aquarius (at 18:20 GMT), exactly semi-sextile the Solstice Sun and Mercury.  Saturn leaves its own sign, Capricorn on 17th December, after three years’ working in tandem with Pluto to raze obsolete social structures and systems of authority.  That work is not over: Pluto continues it until March 2023.  But Saturn’s movement out of Capricorn de-intensifies our conscious awareness of those processes.  A planetary conjunction is the beginning of a new cycle, and the meeting of Jupiter and Saturn (creating a great ‘star’[ii] – it was a Jupiter–Saturn conjunction that alerted the Magi to the birth of the Christchild), sets a new, Aquarian tone in the social world.  The positive register of Aquarius is humanitarianism, idealism, orientation towards the future and communal endeavour.  Aquarius turns us towards the group.

We know about individualism and where it gets us.  Human evolution consists in overcoming separation and learning to work together.  Time to contribute to group vision, to align with and honour group contexts, in whatever form they take in our lives.

The challenge of this under current restrictions is obvious.  Technology (also ruled by Aquarius) as a tool can assist us but it cannot be a substitute for our coming together for real.  Planet Earth is about physical manifestation.  The Earth Path runs through the body, which is the locus of consciousness.  There is no source of consciousness for you outside of your own body.  Aspects of human presence can be technologised: I can see and hear you (most of the time) on Zoom, but at its best it is a pale approximation of being together.  Real human presence is enlivening; when it is technologised, it sucks.  The channel of connection leaves us devitalised and subtly shut down.  When I am physically with you there is an exchange of energy between us; when I see you Online there is an exchange of energy between me and the technological interface we are using.  We’re making someone rich, but our connection is impoverished.  This new emphasis on Aquarius challenges how we feed our group connections and also how we manage our relationship with technology.   The tendency towards technologisation in all aspects of life is likely to strengthen, so we have to become adept users, discerning and deciding where our human energy is flowing.  As a counter-balance we need to preserve our commitment to physical reality (and to reinstating and exploring our freedoms of association and assembly in the real world, which, stunningly, have disappeared across much of the globe).  The danger is that we are buying into ways of being that are reflections of reality.  This obscures and confuses our sense of physicality, which in turn distorts and glamorises our perceptions.  Our perceptions give birth to our realities.  They are always unhinged, but throw virtual reality into the mix, and perception becomes machinic and non-human/inhuman, utterly fantastical.

Virtual realms readily serve the lunar consciousness.  The Moon has no light of its own; it bestows no life.  It is a reflector, just as the virtual world reflects and refracts reality.  The Sun is the source of life; it organises and integrates all aspects of our beings.  Our energy and attention have to orbit around the solar principle (our Sun sign), which relies on the body as the source of consciousness, not on the picture of a body, however brilliant the resolution.  There is no way around this: we are either embodied or we are avatars with little connection to the possibility of consciousness.  This feels like a fork in the road.  Will we choose fantasy or reality?  It takes great presence of mind even to make that choice, and let’s be clear, it is a choice that has to be made and remade consciously and consistently throughout each and every day.

Where’s my attention flowing?  To what am I giving my energy?  What is my relation to my body, the physical world?

At the Solstice moment all the planets are confined within 149 degrees of arc, leaving 211 degrees gapingly empty, giving a highly subjective mood to the chart; Mercury is ‘combust’ (close to the Sun), which also undermines objectivity and rationality.  This is a time for feeling and sensation.  The planets are bookended by Venus in Sagittarius on one side and Uranus in Taurus on the other.  This is interesting as Venus is disposited by Jupiter, and Jupiter by Uranus, bringing extra heft to the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn.  The highly sensitive midpoint between Venus and Uranus, which are straining against each other in a tight quincunx, is occupied by Neptune in Pisces in a conjunction with the Moon, consecrating this moment, offering access to a vision of our interconnectedness and to the spiritual reality that lies behind the apparent world.  This is something to treasure.

Neptune rules epidemics – it shows us how we are all mixed up with each other.  It erodes boundaries.  We can lock down for the rest of our mortal lives but we cannot prevent interaction and interchange, they are fundamental to life.  Neptune, ultimately, is impersonal love.  It inspires artistry, intuition and imagination, and at the Solstice, it is with the Moon giving an experience of boundless inspiration at one level, at another a massive sacrifice made by the people.  Use intention to tune into the register that you prefer.  This is intensified by exact aspects from Mars and Pluto to the Moon (the square between Mars and Pluto is exact on 22nd December).  This seals the potency of this great moment that forms the portal for the next quarter.  It feels like we are being lifted out of our lower, chatterbox minds (Mercury combust) and inundated with the light of spiritual love, where we all are truly One.  It is an invitation to live our lives with an awareness of this level of illumination, which both asks for and gives a lot.  The other possibility is to surrender to overwhelm, sacrifice, delusion and the endlessness of loss.

Next year Saturn will make three squares with Uranus.  This is the tension between the forces of conventional control and the breakthrough force of doing things differently.  Clinging to the known might feel like the safe option, but it only makes us easier to break, especially when situations are changing at speed and it looks like we are heading into a pacey 2021.

Our values and resources, our relationship to our bodies and to the land that sustains them, and also the technologisation of physical processes and sensations are major themes for 2021, arising from Uranus’ slow journey through Taurus.  The future is being fomented in our hearts, minds and wills right now; the future is woven from the threads of ourselves.  We are powerful, and our hopes and intentions shape the future that we and our descendants will experience.  Likewise our fears, anxieties and neuroses are also being stirred into the pot.  Meeting ourselves with maturity and compassion, and dealing with the things that pull us out of shape are gifts to the future.  Gilding the roots of our beings at the Solstice is a great place to start, asking ourselves, what is it that wishes to be born?

[i]               14th December: total solar eclipse on 23° Sagittarius;

17th December: Saturn moves into Aquarius;

19th December: Jupiter moves into Aquarius;

21st December: Solstice and Jupiter–Saturn conjunction;

22nd December: Mars square Pluto on 23° Aries/Capricorn.

[ii]               They are visible in the southwestern sky in the early evening: look for a very bright star with a fainter one to the east and somewhat higher.

The Faith-keeper

Jupiter conjunct Pluto, 12th November 2020

We are at the dynamic moment in which an inner-world change is beginning to precipitate into an outer-world change; whether the change is carried to completion depends on our not interfering, and on our seeking guidance from the Sage [Higher Power] … and following it. (Carol K. Anthony)

All photos reproduced with kind permission of Rachel Burch Westcountry Photography

A big year, 2020: three major new planetary cycles beginning after a hiatus of eleven years. It began, in January, with Saturn and Pluto meeting on 22° Capricorn, whose signature has been lockdown and the structural crises precipitated by, of all things, a virus.  In April and June, Jupiter met Pluto on 24° Capricorn and their third and final meeting occurs on 12th November on 22° Capricorn, revisiting the very degree of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction.  (The third new cycle to begin is Jupiter-Saturn, meeting in Aquarius on the Winter Solstice.)   A year, then, when we have seen an extraordinary focus on Capricorn, described by Alice Bailey as ‘this most material of all the signs … the battleground of the old established order and habits and the new and higher inclinations and tendencies’.[i]   It is in this sign that ambition and the hunger for status become most craven, but Capricorn is also the sign of Initiation, when spiritual aspiration supersedes the clammy-handed, worldly variety.

Pluto’s voyage through Capricorn is revealing the havoc wreaked by excessive materialism, and exposing the degree to which the hidden underpinnings of our systems of control and governance are rotten.  Materialism, in essence, is a worldview from which spirit and a sense of the sacred have been excised: if you can’t see it or measure it, it doesn’t exist.  The rationalism arising from this worldview can take us very far in investigating, explaining and designing metrics for our lives on Earth, but it doesn’t touch the question that gives us our humanity: ‘Why?’ (let alone, ‘What’s the point?’)  In fact it leaves us in a senseless universe of random activity where human longing for meaning and order can seem, at best, romantic.  This is a great perversion of truth and one that causes immense suffering.

Jupiter is the planet that quests for meaning and faith.  Its work is to seek expansion and opportunity, to discern the patterns, laws and principles that lend coherence and significance to life.  Jupiter in Capricorn is in its ‘fall’, exhibiting its lowest register of expression, which can be characterised as being on the make, in pursuit of self-gratification and the devil take the hindmost.  Jupiter’s buoyancy, magnetism and love are blocked here and it takes some kind of crisis to drive Jupiter’s expression to a higher register where it may once more operate as the stalker of faith in life.  Pluto is that crisis, calling time, switching the lights on and kicking out the reprobates at Jupiter’s party, driving the register of Jupiter’s expression higher by dragging it down into the depths.  Depth awareness is the challenge and the gift that Pluto brings.

Pluto demands a change in Jupiter’s loyalties and it poses a question to all of us: is your ultimate concern for your little life and your material satisfaction or are you able to raise your sights to include a concern for other lives and for the deep wellbeing of Life in general?  Pluto is subjecting Jupiter and Capricorn to a process of relentless regeneration, impelling us to include the non-material, the subtle, the Unseen in our context of significance.  I don’t say it lightly, but economic hardship has a role to play in the readjustment of our values, harsh as that is in people’s lives.   Jupiter is a wonderful resource as a meaning-maker and a faith-keeper; it shows us the grain in the wood of the Way It Is, the path of becoming that allows the creative power of life to flow into our world.  These qualities of meaning and faith we sorely need now.  Pluto’s way is to drill down and drive things deep.  It is injecting Jupiter into this fraught degree of Capricorn, in order to wrest from it understanding and the opportunity to shift our register.

The Jupiter-Pluto conjunction is the focal point of a cardinal t-square, squaring Mars in Aries on one side and Venus in Libra (conjuncting the Moon) on the other, suggesting a stand-off between self and other, masculine and feminine, war and peace.  This could manifest as acts of aggression, particularly towards women; it points to a predicament in our understanding that habitually sees the Other not only as separate but as a threat to Self.  Such polarisation is painful, as we have been witnessing in our social and political culture generally, and is a distortion of the truth of our fundamental interconnectedness.  Our suffering is in proportion to our denial of that truth. 

The possibility of this grand finale of 2020’s conjunctions in Capricorn is that we begin to share a sense of our current opportunity and determine to have faith in our shared future.  We need both faith in life (Jupiter) and spiritual aspiration (Capricorn) to go through the challenge of the present moment.  The lunar consciousness (which pertains to our habits and emotions that keep us clinging to security, stuck firmly within the compound of the known) is ever the saboteur of our ability to find our way forward.  It is essentially neurotic and obstructs the Way It Is; it is strengthened by our departure from real-life encounters in the physical world in favour of the virtual realm, which is only ever a reflection of the real just as the Moon’s light is only a reflection of the Sun.  Our current evacuation of embodied experience is a danger for us: the human task it is to bring spiritual forces to the physical world, not to the panoply of attention-harvesting devices to be found Online!  Quite simply, we need to be connected to each other and to physical reality, just to be OK.

At one level the signature of Jupiter-Pluto is the ruthless control of the impulse towards freedom.  It is for us to remember and embody the Way It Is, which is in essence free and beyond external constraint.  Our experiences can, if we choose, be used to hone our attention and our appetite for the meaning, faith and freedom that Jupiter bestows.

[i] Alice Bailey, Esoteric Astrology, Lucis, 1951: 170.

The Way of Zig-zag and Subtle

Autumn Equinox

22nd September 2020, 13:32 GMT

Just as the ocean always tastes of salt the truth always tastes of freedom. (Buddha)

We are summoned into being and becoming by the dance between Earth and Sun, reflected in the equinoxes and solstices.  Marked by the Sun’s entry into the cardinal signs of the zodiac (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn), they are created by the great circle of the Sun’s apparent path as it intersects the great circle of the Earth’s equator extended out into space.  They define our experience of the natural year and help give us roots in that reality. Through these gateways of the year pour the energies of initiation, inaugurating new patterns and new possibilities for human consciousness.  These pivotal moments hold the potential for recalibration and repay our deep consideration.

Autumn Equinox 2020

What a harvest we have to contemplate this year.  Major new planetary cycles have begun in Capricorn (Saturn/Pluto, Jupiter/Pluto) exacerbating fracture lines in our systems of organisation and governance.  These lines of fracture are not injuries, though they may reveal pathology; they are openings to an insurgency of new energies that will flow/is flowing as obsolete structures crumble.  We’re in crisis, it’s absolutely clear, and crisis brings reorientation.  We’re all part of that reorientation.  The future can only be woven out of our deeds and consciousness (thoughts, feelings and awareness).  We all have creative power to bring forth intent from which the future can be made.  Equally, we all have fear, anxiety, anger and inertia, from which the future will also be spawned.

The equinox energies underscore opposition (as shown by a cardinal t-square: Mercury in Libra opposes Mars, in its dignity in Aries; both planets are closely squared by Saturn and Pluto conjunct in Capricorn).  We are witnessing various stand-offs between alienated positions. Crunch time.  Oppositional thinking (right/wrong; good/bad; pro/anti; me/you, etc.) is not only wasteful of energy, but is also an exercise in disowning aspects of ourselves and projecting them on to others.  Judgements made on this basis cannot be helpful.   We are in oppositional times and are divided as never before, behind our masks and in our bubbles.  We are at great risk of separation and disconnection from each other, our rights and freedoms heavily and increasingly circumscribed.  The painfulness of this is expressed by the equinox Sun’s opposition to the Wounded Healer, Chiron, in Aries, the sign of self and self-isolation.  Chiron brings the potential for wisdom to arise from this experience of being locked in the prison of Fortress Self: the honouring of all relationship, and the realisation that it is only in our connection with other beings that we exist at all.  We are not to be found outside of relationship.  United we stand, divided we fall.  Disconnection creates fertile ground for polarisation.  Inflamed by confusion, anxiety and fear, the current experience of separation from one another readily becomes estrangement.

The old order is coming down around our ears.  This is particularly acute now as Saturn (order, security, authority) moves through the last few degrees of Capricorn in conjunction with Pluto, intensifying our experience of restriction and clampdown.  It transits into Aquarius finally on 17th December where it will make its hopeful conjunction with Jupiter just over eight hours after the Winter Solstice moment.  The current acclimatisation to authoritarian control asks us to exercise discernment (for example, to ask ourselves, “What makes sense and what does not?”)  There is a vital need for us to engage in bringing in new ways of being and doing, but we are still labouring under the spell of the old order.  “The King is dead!  Long live the King!”

What is authoritative to you?  To what, to whom and for whom are you responsible?  What is power/powerful in your life?  To what or to whom do you bow?

Things look bleak, yes, but doubt and despair shut down the creative power of life, which needs our hope, open minds and hearts to work its magic in the world of experience.  We can’t judge things by appearances, “for the way of the cosmos is zig-zag and subtle.”[i]  Our human weakness for thinking the worst creates oppressive ideas and false beliefs that inhibit the power of the cosmos to flow into us, leading to exhaustion and depression.  There is surely a better use for our amazing imaginations.  If we are pulled out of shape it may be that we are labouring under false apprehensions and need to bring them to the surface and break their spell, in order to be in a state of greater truthfulness and freedom.  The Buddha’s words (above) may guide us in discerning truth from falsehood.

For example, there are so many different positions people take on Covid: the challenge it brings is unique to each of us, depending on the reality we inhabit.  The truth of the situation is, I suggest, impossible to discern on the basis of information.  Truth, actually, may be different for each of us.  So there is a need to cultivate openness of mind.  How do we discern what is real and truthful?  Information and leaning heavily on the rational mind can only take us so far.  Its harvest cannot satisfy our whole beings.

At present we are experiencing a crisis of disconnection from each other: as families, as colleagues, constituencies and communities of people in all their many and various forms.  The effects of this, we may come to see, are far more serious than any infection we’re trying to control.  The autumn equinox is marked by the Sun’s entry into Libra, sign of right relationship between I and Thou.  The current “social distancing” of I and Thou cultivates separation, disconnection, judgement and suspicion.  Oppositional thinking in turn foments conflict and polarisation.  Libra is always alerting us as to what unifies us, intent on healing the breach of all that divides.  Libra’s work is to identify the razor-edge path that exists between extremes: the Middle Way.  To walk this path integrates and resolves polarities, encouraging the emergence of a balanced relationship between I and Thou.  Ultimately, we need to find ourselves in the other and the other in ourselves, withdrawing projections and reclaiming our wholeness.  In this way we can enter into the truth of our lives and our connections.  The work of integration is definingly human, for it is our species that walks upright between the poles of Heaven and Earth, their crucial means of energetic relationship.

Between Heaven and Earth

Libra’s love of justice and harmony may really serve us at this time if we choose to use it, encouraging us to keep reaching out, building bridges of human warmth and empathy when so much is breaking those bridges down.  We need each other; not just because we are social creatures, but because the evolution of the human project is towards group consciousness: we need our groups, tribes and circles, to give ourselves essential developmental experiences.  It has been a necessary stage in evolution but we need now to move away from the thraldom of sovereign individuality and build alliances, kinships and communities of shared endeavour.  Keeping apart from each other (whether in fear, out of misplaced courtesy or from simply towing the line in a compliance culture) can only takes us in one direction – backwards, and fast.

Venus (ruler of the autumn equinox) and the Sun occupy each other’s signs, strengthening conscious awareness of the present injunction to work creatively with the I/Thou relationship, to sense the path of integration that becomes visible when we balance the energy of the warrior and the peacemaker, self and other, Aries and Libra.  There is much fire in the equinox chart; a fiery drive is at work that could easily mitigate against harmony and co-operation. This drive asks us to hold our intent with clarity and to deal with our own emotional reactions soberly.  Failure to steer the will may result in explosions of aggression.  In this way, the need for harmony and balance are increasingly brought into our conscious experience.  We only know what balance is because we go in and out of it.

At times when circumstances hold us apart, let’s break the spell of separative consciousness.[ii]  We’re so readily forgetful that we belong to each other and to all life.  Hence the need for some recalibration, which is certainly what we’re getting this equinox, with no fewer than six planets retrograde (Mars, Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto).  This feeling of stewing in our own juices dissipates somewhat as the planets begin to turn direct (beginning with Saturn on 29th September), but it continues to mark our experience until the Winter Solstice when a lighter, less entrenched mood is created by Saturn’s arrival in Aquarius.  A chance exists now to take a good look at where we’re at; it isn’t comfortable but it’s certainly useful in doing the work that’s needed to locate and orient towards the Middle Way.

Fortunately, we have our communities and lives of our own to honour and enjoy. If we will only look away from the news and the headlines, and focus upon our own lives and our own direct experiences, we will see …  human kindness and goodness … and from this place inside ourselves create a new reality to live in, not at some remote future time, but now”.[iii]

[i] Carol K. Anthony, A Guide to the I Ching, 215

[ii] Separative consciousness might be defined as identification with the personality conditions and the seeming separateness between living beings.  Astrologer, David Matthews has offered the analogy that the soul takes on a personality (for the purpose of gaining experience and developing consciousness) as an actor takes on a role; separative consciousness holds sway when we identify with the role/personality as our truth, forgetful of the spiritual reality of our soul forces.

[iii] Suzanne Rough, Letter of the Month: August 2020, Emphasis mine.