Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...
New Moon at 12Aq09, 2-1
Mars trine Jupiter, 2-5
Vesta Retrograde Station at 12Li35, 2-11
Jupiter opposing Neptune, 2-16
Full Moon at 27Le53, 2-16
Saturn Direct Station at 22Gm08, 2-22
Saturn opposing Mars and Pluto, 2-16 to the end of the month
An online ephemeris for the month is available.
Some months, it actually pays to not publish on time. The last week of January and this first weekend in February has had more blaring news headlines than you can assimilate. Between all the developments the past few days on Bush's Iraq war and now the explosion of space shuttle Columbia, we're all reeling. This week has been a "minor" planetary storm which reaches a peak on the 1st and then starts to fall apart. Most of the month seems low-key at first glance, but I sense a deceptive "undercurrent" to coming weeks that may take us by surprise, especially around the full moon on the 16th and the last week of the month. There are a pair of outer planet oppositions active all month, which promises some deeper influences that may not be easy to navigate. The Jupiter-Neptune opposition (exact on the 16th, about 14 hours before the full moon) seems benign enough, but it carries with it enough fuzzy thinking and other pitfalls to make you cautious. The opposition of Saturn to Mars and Pluto, on the other hand, easily deserves the name "axis of evil" much more than any terrestrial influence. Here's three of the most difficult planets, all stressed up and nowhere to go. This axis is most active around the 18th to the 20th and again near the 24th or 25th. Curiously, either of these times have been floated around as possible dates for the Iraqi invasion. There's not a lot of focus and direction to the month, which given all the heavy duty trends in the news is rather disturbing. We could use more clarity than we have available now. Life is seriously out of whack...
The only "big aspect" this month is the Jupiter-Neptune opposition on the 16th, an important backbone for many patterns this month. There are two stations in February: Vesta goes retrograde on the 11th and Saturn goes direct on the 22nd. And of course, the Saturn-Mars-Pluto "axis of evil" is a big time player the last half of the month.
Towards the end of January, as I started studying up for the current newsletter, I began to be quite intrigued by the new moon chart for February. The conjunction of the new moon with the Neptune end of Jupiter-Neptune marked this as a bright, but intense chart. The lunation also occurs just after the biggest Koz Alert of the month. Subliminally, I expected something big to happen. Little did I expect to be woken up Saturday morning by a phone call saying the space shuttle Columbia had broken up during reentry. It certainly changed the course of my weekend.
The waveform for the new moon chart is a continuation of the (in hindsight) powerful storm pattern the last week of January, if not the last hurrah of that storm. The Alert is the strongest waveform all month. The largest group of planets is clustered around 11 or 12 degrees: Jupiter, Vesta, Juno, Mars, Chiron, Neptune and the new moon itself, with Ceres and Mercury on the fringes. The other group of peaks near 26 degrees includes Venus and Uranus. There's another group of miscellaneous planets that are mostly bit players: Saturn, Pluto and Pallas. Curiously, this chart is extremely active in declination, with a large number of planets connected by parallels and contraparallels. These latter aspects seem to play a major role in the Columbia story.
Neptune in Aquarius (a 14 year influence) is about the power of ideals to change the world, literally to create magic. When we misuse our powers, the universe tends to fight back to hold us in check. With the new moon so close to Neptune, we are being challenged to prove we are pursuing a path of the heart. Many news commentators have remarked lately that the current anti-war movement in the US (not to mention the rest of the world) is the first to emerge before the war even started. While it has yet to be shown our rogue government will listen to the people, such an outpouring of compassion and clear thinking that refuses to be herded is encouraging. Of course, compassion is of no use if it's unable to influence the world positively. That's Jupiter's job, which is directly opposite the new moon. Can we reach out to the world at many levels and make a difference? It needs to be done in an equitable fashion that treats others as equal partners (Juno forms a T-square with the new moon). We need to open the heart to deeper levels than even seems reasonable (Venus is going over the Galactic Center). But paradoxically, it also requires the correct use of force to bring ideals into reality. America has plenty of force to use; we just don't use it wisely sometimes. Learning the path of the peaceful warrior is a lesson for all of us in 2003, especially as Uranus moves into Pisces the rest of the year, starting Mar 10. It's a tall order...
As for Columbia, that's a fast evolving story that I've only begun to look at. The charts for the launch and subsequent destruction of this technological jewel, plus the precious lives that were lost, have some fascinating hints as to what happened. As I pick apart this story, I'm putting the results in a separate web page(see Columbia); please check there for more info.
Mars is trine Jupiter on the 5th. As the Aries Moon comes along on the 6th, it forms a brief Grand Trine. The Sun and Neptune also join into this pattern, which appears in the waveform as the taller set of peaks. This is a time of action and high ideals, although you have to be certain that your motivations are clear. It's very easy for all this fiery Mars energy to get out of hand. Proceed cautiously with your plans. (Colin Powell goes to the UN on the 5th to attempt to convince the Security Council of Iraq's bad behavior.)
Vesta reaches her retrograde station at 12Li35 on the 11th, eventually backing up to 28Vi21 by May 10. Vesta in reverse gear is a period when your sense of integrity and self-reliance is being tested. She's normally a bit of a loner, someone who needs to retreat from others to recharge her batteries on occasion. She's out of luck in the sign of Libra, however, the sign of relationship and sociability. I suspect the test involves finding a healthy balance between isolation and being connected with others, between being true to yourself and being intimate with others. One problem is that most people interpret retreating into your shell as a form of emotional rejection or withdrawing of love instead of the legitimate need to disengage from others for a time. Such hurt feelings lead to many misunderstandings and emotional soap operas (which only drives Vesta more batty). It makes life "exciting" but not very satisfying. Of course, in a healthy relationship, Vesta's rhythms of engaging and withdrawing would simply be acknowledged and accepted. There would be no drama involved. It's also important to realize when withdrawal has reached unhealthy proportions of its own. A perverse urge to never show any warmth to others is just as imbalanced as never listening to your own inner voice. Because of this retrograde cycle, the Vesta in Libra lesson is quite a lengthy process. Except for a brief period (Apr 22 to May 30) when she backs into Virgo for some cleanup work there, this is a 9 month cycle (2002-12-10 to 2003-8-26). Obviously, this is not an easy lesson to master.
Jupiter is opposing Neptune on the 16th, just before the full moon, the second of three such contacts. This aspect began on 2002-9-11 and the final contact will be on 2003-6-2. Oppositions are like an energetic tug of war -- we are being pulled in opposing directions by two irresistable forces. I normally wouldn't think of a Jupiter-Neptune aspect in difficult terms, since they both have a light and upbeat mood, but this one is turning into something quite different. Jupiter is about reaching out and expanding your boundaries, seeing things from a broader perspective, pushing your dreams and ideals into reality. His main drawbacks are a lack of originality (he tends to be quite a conventional thinker) and his inability to take care of the little details. Because of this, his big plans rarely seem to pull off the way they were intended. Neptune is the dream itself. His feet are planted more in the next world than this one. This is the uncanny part of our psyches that brings our thoughts into reality, showing us what we truly believe. Our hidden beliefs rarely resemble that golden image of ourselves that we consciously hold. And of course, Neptune has never even heard of details. In short, there's a lot of ungrounded thinking going on that passes for "wisdom" and "facts", but is leading us down some unexpected paths. It struck me as unusual that the first contact of this aspect fell on the anniversary of that immense psychic wound known only as a number: 9-11. Even more revealing is that President Bush addressed the United Nations on Sep 12, setting the stage for a war with Iraq. Here at the second contact, we are on the verge of making that war real and a lot of people are starting to wake up from their haze and ask why. Given the connections between this opposition and the charts for the US and Bush himself, it's not surprising our country is in such a predicament. It's up to all of us to soberly ask whether these are really the ideals we believe in. The distance between us and our "enemies" is very small now. We cast a very dark shadow these days. This opposition is extremely active all month, part of about half the major patterns I looked at for February.
In terms of aspects going off in a single day, the 16th is probably the busiest day of the month, with 5 critical aspects becoming exact in the morning before the full moon. These include the Jupiter-Neptune opposition discussed earlier and a rather scary Mars-Pluto conjunction, the start of that "axis of evil" configuration.
The details of this chart are rather involved, though the waveform helps to make sense of it all. There's a strong H8 pattern that stands out from an H48 background, with peaks at 12 and 28 degrees. The 12 degree planets include Jupiter, Vesta, Venus, Chiron and Neptune, with Pallas on the fringes. The 28 degree planets consist of the Moon, the Sun and Uranus, the last two closely conjunct. There's yet another group (the "axis") around 20 degrees: Ceres, Saturn, Juno, Pluto and Mars. Mercury at 5 degrees rounds out the story; it contacts many of the 20 degree planets. When you put 5, 12, 20 and 28 degrees together you not only get the H48 background, but a significant 16th harmonic as well. I don't have much experience with H16 and it doesn't correspond to any common aspects, but I suspect it is mildly stressful and very scattered.
The next two weeks are likely going to be a tense time as the planets take a very stressful turn. The 16th to the 20th is especially trying, as Mars sets off Pluto and then Saturn. Mars conjunct Pluto is one of those "don't go into dark alleys" kind of aspects, where the chances of shady dealings or even outright violence is very high. Mars and Saturn are also a very difficult, if not dangerous combination. You might think talking things out should diffuse such confrontations, but even Mercury (communications) is part of the problem, not the solution. The 24th and 25th are also a rough time. The Sun conjunct Uranus indicates this could be a time of radical change, of climbing out of your behavioral ruts, but only if you put your ego aside for awhile. It's difficult setting aside your differences with those you are close to, but the results are ultimately worth the effort. Remember a path with heart is more important than coming out on top. Notice this chart is overwhelmingly full of fire and air planets, with little earth and water to speak of. This kind of energy is filled with big ideas and grand plans, but is often ungrounded, impractical and considerably less than compassionate. Try to maintain a sense of balance here. Good luck navigating a challenging landscape...
Saturn is standing still on the 22nd at 22Gm08, about to resume normal forward motion. He's been in reverse gear since 2002-10-11, when he stood still at 29Gm05. Saturn retrograde cycles are a time to buckle down and get to work. Since the entire retrograde zone has fallen in the sign of Gemini, mental tasks that require a lot of focus and diligence to accomplish have been quietly favored. (You can also tell a great deal about how this cycle has affected you personally by checking which house of your birthchart contains this zone.) Well, now at the direct station, you get to see the results of your efforts. Is your life on a more solid basis than it was last fall? Have you done the mental housecleaning necessary to rid yourself of ideas and beliefs that hold you back? Are you in a position to build on your previous work or is it a poor foundation for further movement? I suspect the shortcomings will be abundantly clear now, given the company Saturn is keeping in late February. In the larger scheme of things, this station is very near a region of the zodiac (19 to 21 degrees of Gemini and Sagittarius) that deeply affects this country. These contacts include the US Mars, George Bush's lunar nodes and Uranus (not to mention his dad's Sun), and the Moon for the present administration, all important charts for understanding our current situation. With Mars and Pluto joining in at the Sagittarius end, this will be a station to remember. Our buildup of troops (Mars) should be accomplished (Saturn station) about this time and then we'll see what happens next...
I don't mean to be facetious (well, maybe a little) by calling the Saturn opposite Mars and Pluto lineup the "axis of evil". Given the current historical situation the world is in, this pattern strikes me as extremely dangerous. If you had to pick three planets that are difficult or just plain a pain in the butt to endure, these three bodies would probably lead most people's lists. The ancients called such planets "malefics", which essentially means an evil influence, because they resulted in more trouble for us humans than the others. Pretty much they call our bluff and make us put up or shut up. They demand of us that we be responsible, put up the necessary sacrifices, and remain open to the deep changes that the greater world requires of us. They are not very kind to the wishes and delusions of mere egos. There's not a lot of glory in this axis (at least not until long after the fact). This is a good time to tread softly around others, since people will be on the edge now. Discipline and diplomacy can mitigate many angry situations.
With the Moon cruising over Pluto and then Mars on the 24th, the axis is in full gear. Further, Mars is beginning to octile Neptune, drawing the two big oppositions this month into a stressful combination. Effectively, the mass unconscious on the planet is going nuts these days, particularly if war fever is running high (as seems likely now). There's not a lot of good energies around to soften the blow, so we're just going to have to work through this as best we can. Cosmic brinksmanship is not always pretty. This energy may quiet down some by the new moon on Mar 2, though it will take some time to dissipate completely.